I frequent a couple of Neo-Pagan Hellenistic places; here the crowd consists of people who at least in part focus their worship on the Hellenic Gods. Some are Recons, others Neo-Pagan and others again will identify in a different way all together. It's interesting to me that there is a huge difference in chatter in these parts than my more Traditional Reconstruction circles. One of the major difference is in the worship of so called 'unpopular Gods'.

These Gods are either Gods who have gotten a bad reputation over the years but were respected and honored equally in ancient Hellas--Ares comes to mind--or who were not or rarely honored in ancient Hellas but who now have a slew of devotees--Hades is a good example of this. Before I go any further, let me fist say that I take no issue with this what so ever. It's not how I structure my practice, but no one is forced to practice my way. It's a beautiful thing to find your own way to worship, and I encourage that. That said, I sometimes don't get it.

Lets start with Ares; in Hellas itself the act of worshipping Ares on a regular basis. He had a temple at Athens, in Laconia he had a temple with a grove, and I am quite sure he was regularly worshiped in Tegea, at Olympia, at Thebes, and at Sparta. Sparta's worship is quite famous, as the Spartans had an ancient statue of the God in chains, to bind res to the city-state and Always grant them vistory. At least for a time, the Spartans offered human to Ares. It's interesting to note that temples of Ares were usually built outside of the town, perhaps to scare off enemies.

As a God of war and victory, it was important to appease Him before going to battle. The ancient Hellenes saw much good in Ares, and much nessecity as well. The Homeric Hymns, for example, speak very positively about Him:

"Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden- helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer, Saviour of cities, harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear, O defence of Olympus, father of warlike Victory, ally of Themis, stern governor of the rebellious, leader of righteous men, sceptred King of manliness, who whirl your fiery sphere among the planets in their sevenfold courses through the aether wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven; hear me, helper of men, giver of dauntless youth! Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my soul. Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife. Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of death." [6]

Like all Olympians, Ares got His due in ancient Hellas. With the modern 'love and light' mentality--no disrespect meant here, I'm using the term to generalize the movement of 'declawing' Gods and practices, as it were, so no one ever feels treathened by a power more powerful than they--and our modern invention of ascribing only one or two core characteristics to a deity, worshipping Ares has suddenly become unpopular; he is after all, the God of war and bloodshed. Who wants to worship Him?

Needless to say in Recon Hellenism, that view is laughable. We worship, value, and honor all the Olympic Gods equally, and many of us try to share the one dimensional view of the Gods that is so prevalent. Just reading the Homeric Hymn to Ares should give anyone ample reason to worship Him, even if you are not a soldier; we could all use a bit of courage in our life for the battles we face.

Hades is a completely different story. As king of the Underworld, the ancient texts tell us He became quite cut off from the world above. It were only the oaths and curses of men that reached his ears, as they reached those of the Erinyes. This is why when people invoked him, they dug a pit to sacrifice in and struck the earth with their hands to get His attention. Black male sheep were offered to him and the person who offered the sacrifice had to turn away his face. Hades was worshipped throughout ancient Hellas, but mostly in His epithet of Plouton; 'Wealth-giver', who was mostly connected to the fruitful earth, not the dead. He had a temple in Elis, near Mount Menthe, at Olympia, and was worshipped at Athens in the grove of the Erinnyes.

Pausanias wrote in his 'Description of Greece' about the one temple (at Elis) where Hades was worshipped as Lord of the Dead:

"The sacred enclosure of Hades and its temple (for the Eleans have these among their possessions) are opened once every year, but not even on this occasion is anybody permitted to enter except the priest. The following is the reason why the Eleans worship Hades; they are the only men we know of so to do. It is said that, when Heracles was leading an expedition against Pylus in Elis, Athena was one of his allies. Now among those who came to fight on the side of the Pylians was Hades, who was the foe of Heracles but was worshipped at Pylus.
Homer is quoted in support of the story, who says in the Iliad:–
And among them huge Hades suffered a wound from a swift arrow,
When the same man, the son of aegis-bearing Zeus,
Hit him in Pylus among the dead, and gave him over to pains. Hom. Il. 5.395-397
If in the expedition of Agamemnon and Menelaus against Troy Poseidon was according to Homer an ally of the Greeks, it cannot be unnatural for the same poet to hold that Hades helped the Pylians. At any rate it was in the belief that the god was their friend but the enemy of Heracles that the Eleans made the sanctuary for him. The reason why they are wont to open it only once each year is, I suppose, because men too go down only once to Hades. " [6.25.2]

The only other time Hades as Lord of the Underworld was part of religious services seems to have been at funerals. Yet, the modern Neo-Pagan movement has many followers of Hades as Lord of the Underworld, and I have yet to come across a single person who honors Him as Plouton, Giver of Wealth. This might be arguing semantics to many, but these two deities were seen as wholly differently, or at least Plouton was seen in a much more positive light. For me, as a Recon, it's a curious thing to see so many devotees of Hades.

Again, this is not something I oppose; it's not part of my own practice, and I have no say over the practice of anyone else. It's curious to me, though, and I wanted to commit that questionmark to virtual paper. Sometimes it's odd to be a Recon in a Neo-Pagan group; odd but interesting.