A while ago, I decided that on the day of the Hene kai Nea, I'd post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog.

Changes to the blog:
Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists, was launched a few months ago and has so far collected $145,- for the Wolf Conservation Center last month, and the month before, it collected $120,- raised for the National Runaway Safeline. Thank you! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

That is it for the last month's updates, as far as I can remember. Oh--one more note, I have messed up on the Pagan Blog Project, so I'll be playing catch-up tomorrow. Have a blessed Deipnon!
This is a requested post, and one I think is a good resource to have available. I was asked about recipes for Hellenic offerings. When asking what constituted these recipes that had been requested, the answer was: 'things that you made for the offerings or certain food you ate on certain days'. I've come up with three Hellenic offerings that are not simply dried fruits or meat but prepared in some way. If there are others I have missed, let me know so I can add them, please!

Honey cakes
When you read the ancient and scholarly texts having to do with ancient Hellas, you will often come upon references to 'honey cakes' or 'cakes' in general. We might be tempted to interpret these to mean modern day cakes, but the ancient Hellenes would have most likely used flat cracker-type 'cakes', made from barley meal and honey.
200 g barley flour
100 ml water
3 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Place the flour in a bowl, add the honey and olive oil and mix. Pour in the water little by little and continue mixing until a good dough is formed. Cool this in the fridge for about ten minutes. Roll out as thinly as possible. Cut in the desired shape. Bake the cakes in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack, cool and sacrifice.
This mixture of pulses is a typical Greek panspermia (mixture of all seeds). According to legend, as mentioned by Plutarch, this was the votive offering Theseus and his crew made to Apollo when they returned to Hellas on this day, for it was all that was left of their provisions. It's an Anthesteria staple. It is also an offering that is ritually sown with prayers that the next harvest may be bountiful. I'm using Hellenion's recipe for this.
1 cup fava beans
1 cup chickpeas
2 cups lentils (big green ones)
2 cups peas (dried and split or fresh)
3 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
7 bay leaves (7 relates to Apollo)
½ bunch chopped parsley
water or vegetarian soup stock
"Soak chickpeas and fava beans separately for many hours, changing water several times.  The last soak can be overnight. Next day, bring water level to top of fava beans and boil them separately until skins easily slip off the beans.  Meantime, boil chickpeas separately in water or soup stock with the bay leaves.  Sauté onions and celery and add to the pot while cooking along with some salt (pepper would taste great but is probably Hellenic rather than Classic). When the fava beans have been husked, add them to the chickpeas. Cook until both beans are soft. Add lentils, peas and parsley, and cook about 30 minutes more.  Add minced garlic during the last minute or two of cooking. When beans are tender and all liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready to serve.  At the festival, set the pot on the table along with olive oil, salt, oregano and balsamic vinegar and each person seasons their meal as they wish (this is still the traditional way of serving this bean dish in Greece)."
Kykeon (κυκεών) was a barley beverage said to be preferred by Demeter, and drank by peasants in ancient times. It was used to break a sacred fast within the Eleusinian Mysteries as well as in preparatory rites for some of the most sacred--and secret--rites within Eleusis.

Although the actual recipe has been lost, kykeon was made with barley, water, herbs, and ground goat cheese. Sometimes honey was added. Herbs that are described as part of the kykeon are mint, pennyroyal and thyme, although it seems any herb that was found to flavour the drink, was acceptable. For some of the rites, hallucinatory herbs may have been added to heighten the experience of what was about to unfold.
I'm so out of touch with the greater Pagan community--especially the American one--that I might as well have been living under a rock the past few months. Every now and again, however, news seeps down to me, and yesterday I was suddenly confronted with the news of Kenny Klein's arrest on multiple counts of possessing child pornography.

I don't know Klein; I've read some of his posts on PaganSquare, and I've heard others talk about him, but I have never exchanged words with him, not even written ones. I can make no statement to his character beyond his now-tainted image. I don't know anything about Kenny Klein, and yet the news of his arrest and the charges for which he will be brought to court have hit me harder than I would have expected it to.

The Wild Hunt has a relatively complete account of the circumstances, so for anyone wishing to know more about this situation, I would kindly ask you to read up there as I feel no need to repeat Jason's hard work. As of this moment, Klein is not convicted of anything, so I won't comment on his guilt--one way or another--but I do want to comment on the greater ramifications of a Pagan Elder being charged with not only possession of child pornography, but also facing multiple testimonies of people who have felt intimidated and unsafe in his presence during festivals. If you read the article, you will see accounts of many people uncomfortable by his push for physical contact despite being told 'no', and one person even testified to keeping an eye on any kids around Klein long before this turn of events on Wednesday.

This is the part where I warn you about triggers for abuse, rape, rape culture and (male) privilege.

The Pagan community is rather huggy-feely. I haven't visited many festivals, but there is always invariably one person--and yes, I'm sorry, often one man--who will continually touch you. I'm a woman, I've learned to control my natural urges to touch and interact in favour of clarity so I won't send out mixed signals and will stay safe, and yet, I'll always find myself with at least one person at the festival who thinks it's perfectly fine to hug me whenever we meet, to lift me up from the ground, to touch my hair or face, or pull me into their lap. In 99% of the cases, it's a man. It's not just at festivals, it happens everywhere; in college, on the work floor, etc. In some variation, there is almost always one guy who does not get that he is not entitled to my body simply because I've smiled at him and have engaged him in conversation. The chances of these innocent touches--because almost always, they are well-intended--increase tenfold at a Pagan festival, and yes, it's worrying, especially when women (and men) subjected to this kind of behaviour do not feel free to speak out. It's even more worrying that they are not believed when they do.

Rape culture in all its forms is a terrible thing--for men and women alike--but it exists. I'm sorry to say this, men, but it's a daily reality for many women. When I go out to a festival, I dress more modestly than I normally do. I would never wear a corset to a fair, nor some nice, tight, steampunk outfit. I applaud you if you have the guts to do so, fellow women, but I come to fairs and festivals for my enjoyment, not to be made a target for showing skin. Before I move on to the Hellenic community, I must get something off of my chest I have been itching to say to the many men who have made me feel uncomfortable for dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, or speaking a certain way: it was never for your benefit; I dressed, acted, and spoke like that for one reason: because I wanted to have a good time, not with you, but with me. I'm gay, I told you I am gay--because that's my number one attempt at repelling you--so stop thinking that just because I breath and move, and laugh at a joke you made, you are entitled to touch me. You are not. Not now, not ever. If I was straight, you wouldn't be either. If you want to touch me in any way: ask and if I say 'no', do not take it personally. I am sure you're a nice guy, but it's my body, and it's not there for your enjoyment.

I promised a link to the Hellenic community; I'm not part of an off-line one, but I would love to be. As much as I would enjoy saying that the Hellenic community is different from the greater Pagan one, it's still a collection of people, and with that comes certain dangers and triggers. The danger of including and embracing someone with less than noble intentions in your community is always there--not every man or woman is a predator, but they could be, either because of entitlement or preference. It's good to have a reminder that even though you may share religious and ethical views, you may not think alike at all.

Many rites and rituals include touch, even if it's just a kiss on the cheek or a hug at the end of it. It's become a part of the celebration and it's a beautiful part--a part of bonding and companionship. To some, however, it can be highly triggering and highly uncomfortable. If you are part of a group of worshippers that comes together regularly--or even just sporadically--it might be a good idea to dedicate a meeting to the subject of safety and triggers one of these days if you haven't already, and to touch bases with everyone on occasion. It's important to make people aware that there is an Elder, a priest, or an organiser available to talk to if you feel uncomfortable in any way--and that it's okay to feel uncomfortable at all. No one--man or woman--should be made to feel uncomfortable by the behaviour of another. These issues need to be addressed openly and in the spirit of safety with both parties before either something happens that cannot be mended or one of the two leaves the group because they can't deal with their emotions and frustrations anymore.

I must repeat this: it is never okay to make someone feel uncomfortable, and it's never okay to make someone feel bad for telling you that you make them feel uncomfortable. Your proper reaction should be to apologize, back off, and mind your behaviour--and not just with them, but with everyone else as well. In fact, I highly encourage everyone--man or woman--to ask your religious community if you have ever made them feel uncomfortable with your behaviour. Yes, it's scary, and the answers may hurt, but I tell you now, you need to know this about yourself and your behaviour. If you get even a single 'yes', check your privilege and anger at the door and work together to pinpoint how and why you have earned this 'yes'. Perhaps the other person is extra sensitive to touch or close proximity because of past events, perhaps it's because you two have history, but perhaps it's something in your behaviour that you did not know was triggering.

For anyone reading this thinking 'but why should I change who I am because someone else is uncomfortable?', please watch this and this and sit down. And if you think this is just one woman's opinion, think again, because this is the reality of many--if not all--women at one point or another in their lives. In fact, the ghost of these events are what causes me to go running in the morning and not tonight when it would be much more convenient--but also more dangerous--this is what causes me to halt when I want to buy some cute but revealing piece of clothing--because someone might get the idea that I am 'asking for it'--this is partly why I don't go out, and why I don't drink alcohol. This is in the back of the mind of every woman you meet, and it should be in the back of yours--whether you are a man or woman--when you interact with anyone else, especially women.

These are things we need to talk about if we want to prevent the stories that are emerging now in light of the accusations made at the address of Kenny Klein from emerging from our own communities. We need to step up and create a safe religious environment for everyone to practice in and that includes open and honest dialogue and the respect of everyone's boundaries. If that means taking a step back and minding your body language to make someone else feel at ease, then that is what you should be doing. In any group of people, your privilege needs to be checked at the door and left there, in the trash, because you don't need to take it out with you into the wide world either.

Religion is as much about respect, love, and safety as it is about the Gods, and if you are not actively working to meet these requirement, you are part of the problem. No one is entitled to my body. No one is entitled to expect anything from me I am not willing to give--be it a touch, a hug, a kiss, or sex. No one is obligated to let their boundaries get pushed. If you do not agree with this, we have a problem, and I will not abide having you in my personal life, let alone my religious community because I am never more vulnerable than when I am in ritual. Don't abuse the good faith of another, mind your privilege and your actions, and listen when someone reaches out to you. Don't dismiss them because you don't like their story. We may be Hellenic, we may be Pagan, but we are also human, and sometimes humanity sucks. That is reality, and we have to deal with it before it dissolves our foundation.
Hellenismos believes in free will of humanity; not even the Gods can end the will of a human being, but they can certainly influence the lives we live and instil in us through our environment a need to serve, a need to find Them, a need to honour Them. They might have been doing that since the reign of the ancient Hellenes, but we have only restored the ancient practices a few decades ago, and before that, I doubt anyone really knew what to do with that wiring and just channelled it into Christianity, or in beautiful poetry like from those who were later remarked on as being 'pagan' because they related so well to the societies of years past.

The concept of free will was a grateful one to the ancient Hellenic philosophers. After all, free will in a religious world poses a problem: if you believe in the Gods, and that the Gods have powers beyond ours--foresight, mostly, and a claim to the end of our lives--how can you make the case for free will? If I believe my fate has been foretold at birth by the Moirae, then how can I claim to have full control over my own actions?

In the early days, a form of compatibilism was found where the idea that causal determinism and logical necessity are compatible with free will. Yes, the Moirae predict our deaths, but we are free to do whatever we want in between, and the way we die is of our choosing as well, it has simply been foretold when/what will happen. Because we are not privy to that information, we are not influenced by it.

As time and philosophy progressed, great thinkers like Anaximander and Heraclitus around the sixth century BC--who collectively came to be known as 'physiologoi' or 'cosmologists'--came up with theories to grapple with the supernatural as it ruled over the natural while leaving free will intact. Their resolution was to assign earthy causes to physical events like floods, taking them out of the realm of the supernatural and into the realm of the natural. Their thinking lead to a dualism: it separated the mind from the body and left both open to be influenced by different forces.

In a quest to give humanity back a sense of responsibility for their own actions, materialist philosophers Democritus and Leucippus posed a new theory: that everything--including humans--existed from atoms from the same source. The way these atoms moved and reacted to each other controlled causal laws. This is an incredibly simple explanation of a mechanism I might devote an entire blog post on soon, so just take it as is: we are all made of the same stuff, and the way all that stuff reacts together causes us to experience certain things.

Interestingly enough, this way of thinking led Leucippus to create two dogmas of determinism that go entirely against the concept of free will: the dogma of physical determinism and the dogma of logical necessity. Especially the latter is interesting. It reads:

"Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity." 
οὐδὲν χρῆμα μάτην γίνεται, ἀλλὰ πάντα ἐκ λόγου τε καὶ ὑπ’ ἀνάγκης

In light of Democritus theory of the atoms and their causal connection, the dogma makes sense: everything has a cause, which means there is a single source where all action originated from. This way of thinking also paved the way for later idea of a single God who put into motion the universe.

It were great thinkers like the Pythagoreans, Socrates,  Plato, and Aristotle who attempted to reconcile an element of human freedom with material determinism and causal law, in order to hold man responsible for his actions. Aristotle, especially, introduced the notion of 'accidents' into Leucippus' thinking, paving the way for an element of chance to be introduced into the theory. He was aware of the human need for repetition and predictability, but also felt that some things just happened, without anyone having a hand in it. It was still a causal connection, but it was an unintended one; an accident. In his Physics and Metaphysics he states the following:

"It is obvious that there are principles and causes which are generable and destructible apart from the actual processes of generation and destruction; for if this is not true, everything will be of necessity: that is, if there must necessarily be some cause, other than accidental, of that which is generated and destroyed. Will this be, or not? Yes, if this happens; otherwise not." (Book VI, 1027a29)

Aristotle's views were the foundation for a slew of new theories that built upon his, the most famous, perhaps, being Epicurus, who thought human agents had the ability to transcend necessity and chance. He argued that as atoms moved through the void, there were occasions when they would 'swerve' from their otherwise determined paths, thus initiating new causal chains. We now know that atoms do now swerve, but they do move unpredictably whenever they are in close contact with other atoms. Only very large objects are not bound by this unpredictable behaviour because their momentum is too great to veer them off course before collision. Epicurus' intuition of a fundamental randomness was thus correct, and paved the way for Lucretius, who saw the randomness as enabling free will.

"If all motion is always one long chain, and new motion arises out of the old in order invariable, and if first-beginnings do not make by swerving a beginning of motion so as to break the decrees of fate, whence comes this free will?"

It was the Stoic school of philosophy that solidified the idea of natural laws controlling all things, including the mind. Their influence persists to this day, in philosophy and religion, even though most of their work on free will has been lost--most likely to the Christian church, who preached a dogma of determinism by way of an omnipotent God.

There is much more to say about the concept of free will--especially in view of philosophy--but perhaps it's interesting to look at the practical side a moment. Mythology dictates that our fate is pre-destined, although we can fail to live up to it. Fate, here, is often a promise of greatness; heroes are told they will be heroes but must work for it, requiring the help of the Gods to rise above their own potential. Others have been granted potential by becoming kings and queens, but squander it by petty human behaviour. Often, these mythological figures end up punished by the Gods. We don't know if this was pre-determined, but the Gods never give us the idea they were aware of the coming failures of these men and women.

Free will is powerful: it gives us the agency we need to aspire to greatness. It gives us a sense of control over our lives. We choose to become servants to the Gods--we are not forced to do so, even though it might be destined we become servants; this makes all the difference in our joy of the execution of the Divine will. If we felt pressured and ordered into it, we would not find the same joy in it as we do now we are free to choice our path--or believe we are free to choose our path. Personally, I believe in accidents, and I think that sometimes, the universe drops the ball on us. Sometimes, things go wrong. We are then put at the mercy of the Gods to fix the ramifications of whatever pothole our lives hit, and this is why we built kharis with Them. My life may have been mapped out in advance, but I need help along the way to get to the destination the Gods have in store for me. This is a large reason why I serve, and while this way of thinking is not for everyone, it's my (free) will to do so--and I do so gladly.
I may have mentioned once or twice how much I adore and respect the Hellenic organization Labrys. Two days after the Spring equinox, they held a celebration at the temple of Zeus at Nemea, and of course, there is a video that I would love to share with everyone.

The actual astronomical Spring equinox, also called the Vernal equinox, is the moment in spring when the nights and days appear to be equal. The name comes from a combination of the Latin words 'equal' and 'night', which are 'aequus' and 'nox'. The word 'nox' in Latin probably comes from the Greek "Nyx", the Goddess of the night. In astronomical terms Spring equinox varies each year but generally occurs about March 21st.

My Greek is still abysmal, I fear, but judging from the video and whatever I did understand, I am assuming we are privy to the opening words and the Blessing by Plethon (a Greek scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy) before we see bits of a hymn to Zeus and Apollon. Assuming they are relatively the same in all Labrys ceremonies, here are the first two as taken from their Summer solstice ritual from 2011:

"Opening words:
Come o MAKARES THEOI, illustrious friends of mortals. Mighty support of the Kosmos, come Immortal THEOI and rejoice in the libations. Grant to us mortals, all teachings of Arete, great happiness and much desired prosperity, here wine is poured as libation."

"Blessing by Plethon:
Let me never cease, o' MAKARES THEOI, to owe my gratitude to You for all the good things which I have received and still receive from You with Great Zeus as the sponsor.  Let me not neglect, in accordance with my capabilities, the good of my nation. To serve willingly the common good, and to view that as of great benefit to myself. Not to become the cause of anything bad, of the kind which befall humans but only of the good, for as far as I am able, that I may be happy, in likeness of You."

According to this account of events--again, in Greek--the main recipient of worship was Asklēpiós, and he was celebrated with libations, praise, hymns, and many stories about his deeds.

As far as I am aware, the ancient Hellenes did not have a festival that focussed particularly on the equinox. They celebrated many festivals in the month of Elaphebolion, dedicated mostly to Dionysos and Zeus, and in the beginning of the month, to Asklēpiós. Apollon is traditionally associated with this time of year as He returns from Hyperborea--a region far to the north of Thrace--where Apollon was said to stay the winter. It's not hard to imagine that the time around the Spring equinox was when the ancient Hellenes assumed He returned to Delphi. For more information about this event, please visit Beloved in Light.

This celebration is a modern one, but I welcome every single ritual if it brings Hellenes together in the spirit of the ancient Tradition. It look absolutely beautiful, and I would have loved to be there--as always with Labrys celebrations.
In a (to us) surprising turn of events, the Wolf Conservation Center won this round as Elaphebolion 2014 cause for Pandora's Kharis! The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), founded in 1999 by Hélène Grimaud, is a private, not-for-profit environmental education organization located in South Salem, NY. The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States. The WCC won with 53% percent of the votes (International Mental Health Research Organization - 20%, International Rescue Committee - 13%, Wounded Warrior Project 7%, Metro CareRing 7%).

The WCC also participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for two critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf are among the rarest mammals in North America, both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild. Presently there are approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves and 300 red wolves remaining in the world, the majority living within the network of facilities like the WCC participating in the SSP. Every one of these endangered wolves in captivity is a part of something bigger than their pack and the facilities that house them. These special canids are integral parts of the recovery of their rare species.

Many of these wolves contribute as ambassadors, living on view at a variety of zoos throughout the United States to help people learn about the importance of their wild counterparts. The WCC's two SSP exhibits offers visitors to the Center an opportunity to behold these species and their eight WildEarthTV webcams extend four wolf families to a global audience. Some of these education wolves can also contribute to the revitalization of their species more directly as participants of the SSP Wolf Captive Breeding program.

A special faction of captive wolves, however, can have the most direct impact on the conservation of their species as well as their ancestral habitat in the wilds of North America. These wolves are candidates for release into the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), under the Endangered Species Act, is re-introducing Mexican gray wolves and red wolves to portions of their historic range, and two wolves from the WCC have been given this greatest opportunity - a chance to bring an ecosystem back to balance.

Looking forward, the WCC aims to become the pre-eminent facility in the Eastern United States for the captive breeding and pre-release of endangered canid species, and to continue expanding our education and outreach programs to communities far beyond the gates of their facility.

The PayPal account is open to receiving your donations to this beautiful and worthy cause! The deadline for donations is 31 March, and I thank you in advance already for them. All PayPal costs will be covered by Elaion so your full donation will be transferred to the Wolf Conservation Center. These are going to be the ones that push us past €1000,- given, and that's very exciting to us! You are all wonderful, and I want to thank you for helping make this initiative such a huge success. Lets make this one count!

If you want to join the conversation, join Pandora's Kharis on Facebook.
I finished college in October after two pretty awful last years. People, let me tell you, it was a struggle to get through, mostly because it was filled with enough red tape to sink a cruiser. I tried being patient, to give the Gods plenty of time and opportunity to help me, but I faltered plenty of times as well--in my faith, in my patience, and I swear, this whole mess took so long because of that. If I had just surrendered and waited it out while creating the opportunities, I would have gotten out of that school much sooner. I vowed to myself then that next time--next challenge--I would wait it out. I would be patient. I would not give into despair.

You see, I think there is a difference between sitting back and expecting the Gods to fix it and waiting to act until the time is right. I tried everything I could to fix the situation prematurely last year, and along the way, I got frustrated, and sad, and scared. In hindsight, if I had just accepted what I knew in my gut at the time--that the time was not right, and that I just had to wait a little longer and put faith in the Gods--that period of my life would have been so much easier for me.

Of course, the opportunity for a do-over presented itself quickly. It's now well into March and until about a week ago, I couldn't find a job to save my life--not even something small and temporary. This economy is hard, and finding anything is a mess. We made due with my girl's savings and her income. We made it, but we struggled along the way--financially and emotionally. Money issues can weigh a relationship down, I fear.

Last week, I landed a job--it isn't much, part-time, commission-based sales, but it pays. It's an income. We were both beyond excited and it seems the waiting period is finally over: I may have proven my willingness to put my faith in the Gods. A few days ago, I got another job offer for some freelance graphic design work, and just yesterday a part-time PR/marketing position for a local art initiative that I am very excited about. The last may yet fall through, but I am putting it up here for a reason: I made it, the wait is over--the challenge is over--and I got out on the other side. You have no idea how much of a relief that is.

I could hang this off of something ethical, or bring in specific Gods, but mostly I just want to bask in the glow of having work again--it's a mess, but it's money and good Gods, do you know how long it's been since I had either of those?! So here is the moral of the story: things work out with faith and hard work. Those two things are all you need, along with a boatload of patience. Something less personal tomorrow, I promise.
Oh my, so busy today. This post is going to be short, but I hope it will be interesting none the less. I was asked about Pegasos. They wanted to know if the ancient Hellenes worshipped Pegasos, and how he was seen in ancient times.

Mythologically speaking, Pegasos was originally only one winged horse, born from the neck of Médousa when she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Poseidon, Tamer of Horses, is his father. Hesiod describes in his ‘Theogony’ the curious circumstances of his birth:

"…Medusa who suffered a woeful fate: she was mortal, but the two [of her Gorgon sisters] were undying and grew not old. With her lay the Dark-haired One [Poseidon] in a soft meadow amid spring flowers. And when Perseus cut off her head, there sprang forth great Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus who is so called because he was born near the springs [pegae] of Ocean [Okeanos]; and that other, because he held a golden blade [aor] in his hands. Now Pegasus flew away and left the earth, the mother of flocks, and came to the deathless gods: and he dwells in the house of Zeus and brings to wise Zeus the thunder and lightning." [ll 270-294]

Pegasos was tamed by Bellerophon, a Korinthian hero, who rode him into battle against the fire-breathing Khimaira. Pindar, in his beautiful Olympian Odes describes this cooperation wonderfully:
"Bellerophon, who once suffered greatly when beside the spring he wanted to harness Pegasus, the son of the snake-entwined Gorgon; until the maiden Pallas brought to him a bridle with golden cheek-pieces. The dream suddenly became waking reality, and she spoke: “Are you sleeping, king, son of Aeolus? Come, take this charm for the horse; and, sacrificing a white bull, show it to your ancestor, Poseidon the Horse-Tamer.” The goddess of the dark aegis seemed to say such words to him as he slumbered in the darkness, and he leapt straight up to his feet. He seized the marvellous thing that lay beside him, and gladly went to the seer of the land,  and he told the son of Coeranus the whole story: how, at the seer’s bidding, he had gone to sleep for the night on the altar of the goddess, and how the daughter herself of Zeus whose spear is the thunderbolt had given him the spirit-subduing gold. The seer told him to obey the dream with all speed; and, when he sacrificed a strong-footed bull to the widely powerful holder of the earth, straightaway to dedicate an altar to Athena, goddess of horses. The power of the gods accomplishes as a light achievement what is contrary to oaths and expectations. And so mighty Bellerophon eagerly stretched the gentle charmed bridle around its jaws and caught the winged horse. Mounted on its back and armored in bronze, at once he began to play with weapons. And with Pegasus, from the chilly bosom of the lonely air,7 he once attacked the Amazons, the female army of archers, [90] and he killed the fire-breathing Chimaera, and the Solymi. I shall pass over his death in silence; but Pegasus has found his shelter in the ancient stables of Zeus in Olympus." [13. 63]

Pegasos was not worshipped with ritual and sacrifices like the Theoi—the Hellenic Gods—were; only the Theoi were worshipped in that manner, and even then there were huge differences in Ouranic, Khthonic, and hero worship. He/they were featured in art, though, and was/were a beloved part of the Hellenic mythology; especially the Pegasos Bellerophon rode on, as he was featured on many coins throughout the years.
In the ongoing saga of restoring some economic wellness to modern Greece, it seems the people have finally had enough. What started with an initiative to privatize cultural heritage sites--something met with great resistance from both the Association of Greek Archaeologists as well as government. A brand new idea proposed by said government is causing more of an uproar: the cash-strapped government has announced plans to include prime properties around the Acropolis, and other landmark buildings in Athens, in its privatisation programme.


The Archaeological News Network reports that 'furious opponents marched through the city centre at the weekend to denounce the "illegal sale" of the country's heritage. More than four years into debt-stricken Greece's prolonged economic crisis, many described the step as the height of humiliation for a nation already hit by excoriating austerity and record levels of poverty and unemployment'. Prominent leftwing campaigner Petros Constantinou said:

"The government is constantly trying to convey the message that the economy is a success story but in reality that is not the case at all. The decision to put public buildings up for sale is not just proof that they are nowhere near reaching targets but plain wrong when they could be exploited for public benefit."

The Athenian government is under immense pressure to enact reforms for the release of a long overdue €10.1bn (£8.5bn) aid instalment from international creditors. In an effort to accomplish these reforms, the privatization programme was called into life with the goal of raising €50bn for the state by 2015. It has, however, been problem-plagued from the day bankrupt Athens became the ward of the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund in May 2010. The move has been protested against so loudly that the goal has been scaled back to raising €11bn by 2016.
Just a little while ago, the archaeological council (KAS) allowed two of Athens' most significant ancient sites--the Stoa of Attalos in the ancient agora and Panathenaic Stadium--to be leased to companies for private functions and now, prime minister Antonis Samaras okayed the sale of state assets last week. Among the properties are refugee tenement blocks built to put up Greeks fleeing the Asia Minor disaster in 1922 and culture ministry offices housed in neo-classical buildings in the Plaka district at the foot of the Acropolis that were erected shortly after the establishment of the modern Greek state. Both are widely viewed as architectural gems.

The decision to sell off public assets invested with such historic significance has not only angered anti-austerity leftists. It has raised howls of protest from reform-minded conservatives with many wondering whether Greece is finally enacting what Germany's tabloid press has long taunted it to do: sell off its cultural heritage to pay off its monumental debt.

I think we can say with certainty that the last word on this has not yet been spoken. These desperate measures are hard to swallow for the government and people alike, and I am sure neither is happy with the situation. That said, Greece is struggling to keep its head above water and while selling or leasing these properties may hurt the ego and image of a proud country, it may also be its saving grace.

Image credit: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
I've gotten a few messages about reincarnation and how--and if--it relates to Hellenism. Time to talk about it. The idea of reincarnation probably dates back to the Iron Age (so around 1200 BC.). It enters the Hellenic stream of thought and philosophy around the 6th century BC, although there is mention of the theoretical subject in pre-Socratic philosophy.

The ancient Hellenes most likely did not use the word 'reincarnation'; 'Metempsychosis' (μετεμψύχωσις) is a better word for the phenomenon they believed in. It is a philosophical term in the Hellenic language which refers to the transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. The notion that the human soul enters another body upon death, though unfamiliar in Hellenic religion, was widespread in Hellenic philosophy. The doctrine of transmigration is first associated with the Pythagoreans and Orphics and was later taught by Plato and Pindar. For the former groups, the soul retained its identity throughout its reincarnations; Plato indicated that souls do not remember their previous experiences. Although Herodotus claims that the Hellenes learned this idea from Egypt, most scholars do not believe it came either from Egypt or from India, but developed independently.

The Orphics were an ancient mystical cult with affinities to Indian religious systems. They believed in reincarnation and the possibility of liberation. Orpheus, the movement's legendary founder, is said to have taught that soul and body are locked together during life; the soul is divine, immortal and aspires to freedom, and during life, the body acts as a prison to the soul. Death releases the soul for a short while, but is then captured by another body until that, too, dies, and so the soul moves from body to body--both human and animal--until it can attain the highest good: liberation. In order to reach liberation, the Orphic way teaches to turn to God by ascetic piety of life and self-purification: the purer the life lived, the higher will be the next reincarnation, until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever as God from whom it comes.

As another--less bleak--example, we will look at Plato, who tried to prove the existence of metempsychosis. Plato stated--both in Phaedo and Republic--that reincarnation existed and sought to prove the theory by relating our human rebirth to that of plants and animals: if their souls, their lives, were lost upon death, we would be without them before too long; everything would die out. We are not, however, because out of the deaths of plants most telling, others come up the following year.
Plato believed that the number of souls was finite, so that new ones were not created, and every one transmigrated from one body to the next. In Phaedo, Plato has the following rhetoric to further illustrate the point:

"Whether the souls of men after death are or are not in the world below, is a question which may be argued in this manner: The ancient doctrine of which I have been speaking affirms that they go from this into the other world, and return hither, and are born from the dead. Now if this be true, and the living come from the dead, then our souls must be in the other world, for if not, how could they be born again? And this would be conclusive, if there were any real evidence that the living are only born from the dead; but if there is no evidence of this, then other arguments will have to be adduced. [...] Then let us consider this question, not in relation to man only, but in relation to animals generally, and to plants, and to everything of which there is generation, and the proof will be easier. Are not all things which have opposites generated out of their opposites? I mean such things as good and evil, just and unjust-and there are innumerable other opposites which are generated out of opposites. And I want to show that this holds universally of all opposites; I mean to say, for example, that anything which becomes greater must become greater after being less. [...] Then there is a new way in which we arrive at the inference that the living come from the dead, just as the dead come from the living; and if this is true, then the souls of the dead must be in some place out of which they come again. And this, as I think, has been satisfactorily proved.

[...] I will illustrate by the case of sleep, he replied. You know that if there were no compensation of sleeping and waking, the story of the sleeping Endymion would in the end have no meaning, because all other things would be asleep, too, and he would not be thought of. Or if there were composition only, and no division of substances, then the chaos of Anaxagoras would come again. And in like manner, my dear Cebes, if all things which partook of life were to die, and after they were dead remained in the form of death, and did not come to life again, all would at last die, and nothing would be alive-how could this be otherwise? For if the living spring from any others who are not the dead, and they die, must not all things at last be swallowed up in death? [...] I am confident in the belief that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence, and that the good souls have a better portion than the evil. [...] Your favorite doctrine, Socrates, that knowledge is simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a previous time in which we learned that which we now recollect. But this would be impossible unless our soul was in some place before existing in the human form; here, then, is another argument of the soul's immortality."
He then goes on to have Socrates say the following regarding memories we retain, indicating we do not remember exactly what we knew, but our past lives do influence our loves and abilities:

"If you put a question to a person in a right way, he will give a true answer of himself; but how could he do this unless there were knowledge and right reason already in him? And this is most clearly shown when he is taken to a diagram or to anything of that sort. [...] what is the feeling of lovers when they recognize a lyre, or a garment, or anything else which the beloved has been in the habit of using? Do not they, from knowing the lyre, form in the mind's eye an image of the youth to whom the lyre belongs? And this is recollection: and in the same way anyone who sees Simmias may remember Cebes; and there are endless other things of the same nature. [...] And this sort of thing, he said, is recollection, and is most commonly a process of recovering that which has been forgotten through time and inattention."

Reincarnation is a belief which cuts across diverse cultures of the world today. As a philosophical concept, it is largely a human concept. It is found almost nowhere in religion and mythology, save for one place: the Elysian Fields, which was the final resting place for the souls of heroes and virtuous men. The ancients often distinguished between two such realms--the islands of the Blessed and the Lethean fields of Haides. The Islands of the Blessed were reserved for the heroes of myth. It was an island paradise located in the far western streams of the river Okeanos, and ruled over by the Titan-King Kronos or Rhadamanthys, a son of Zeus. The second Elysium was a netherworld realm, located in the depths of Haides beyond the river Lethe. Its fields were promised to initiates of the Mysteries who had lived a virtuous life. The Gods of the Mysteries associated with the passage of initiates to Elysium after death include Persephone, Iakkhos (the Eleusinian Hermes or Dionysos), Triptolemos, Hekate, Zagreus (the Orphic Dionysos), Melinoe (the Orphic Hekate) and Makaria. When the concept of reincarnation gained currency the two Elysian realms were sometimes tiered--a soul which had thrice won passage to netherworld Elysium, would, with the fourth, be transferred permanently to the Islands of the Blessed to reside with the heroes.

In my personal practice, I make a clear distinction between religion (as represented by mythology) and philosophy. I feel myth was inspired by the Theoi Themselves, while philosophy was created by humans who saw society and drew conclusions from it. These conclusions often included a religious aspect because society was religious (even though the ancient Hellenes didn't have a word for 'religion'), but at its core, they deal not with religious matters. They deal with the influence of religion on humanity and society. As such, philosophy--of which I am a great fan, by the way--will never be the foundation of my faith, because religion and philosophy have a different goal; one to guide mankind in the way of the Theoi, the other to understand mankind. There is nothing religious about the latter although it can greatly influence your religious practice.

The belief in reincarnation--or perhaps better, metempsychosis--existed in ancient Hellas and was wide-spread in one form or another. Just like today, mankind sought to relieve the fear of death and the belief in a second chance at life was a popular way to accomplish this. Where you stand on the subject is entirely up to you.
A few weeks ago, I made the conscious decision to start getting in shape. Mind you, I was already eating healthy and taking good care of my body--I was and am happily situated in my BMI index--but ever since I progressed into Hellenism, I wanted to get into fighting shape. I don't like to work-out; I have tried the gym, some sports, and nothing stuck. I had given up long ago--in general, I barely had the energy to get through my days, let alone add a work-out routine to it. Then, I discovered my intolerance issues and I slowly found myself with more energy, a stronger body, and a renewed drive to get healthy.

I gave my body a while to adjust to my new diet and when the mood hit me a few weeks ago, I picked up running again. I had tried to get into that years ago, but my body couldn't take it. Now, it's still hard but so much more rewarding. I have since added a calisthenics and cardio routine that has me working out anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half every day, depending on if it's an off day or not. The goal is muscle definition, not weight loss, and the over-all goal is to finally get the body I want for myself and for my Gods.

Perhaps no other civilization has held fitness in such high regard as ancient Hellas. The idealism of physical perfection was engrained into society in such a way that nearly everyone took part. Beauty was a great good back in ancient Hellas, in fact, physical prowess, good health and beauty were virtues which were highly sought after and greatly admired in others. Those who possessed these traits were considered blessed by the Gods. In a society of strict gender roles, attaining physical beauty was part of life for both men and women.

The ancient Hellenes believed development of the body was equally as important as development of the mind, in fact, they believed mental well-being was linked to physical well-being to a great degree. A great mind needed a strong, healthy, body to develop. Many founding medical practitioners facilitated the growth of fitness throughout ancient Greece, including the likes of Herodicus, Hippocrates, and Galen.

Gymnastics were taught to young men at palaestras, which typically consisted of an indoor facility for gymnastics, in addition to an outdoor area for running, jumping, and wrestling. When adulthood was reached between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, the site for fitness training switched from palaestras to gymnasiums. Exercise in the palaestra and gymnasium was supervised by the paidotribe, who is similar to the modern fitness trainer. Especially in Athens, this type of exercise was encouraged.

Perhaps best known for their bodies were the Spartans The heightened interest in fitness within Spartan culture was primarily for military purposes, and fighting skills were highly correlated with physical fitness levels, making working out a necessity. Spartan society required males to enter special fitness programs at the age of six. From this point until adulthood, the government was responsible for the child’s upbringing and training. This upbringing consisted of rigorous training programs that ensured all boys would grow into highly fit adult soldiers. Females were also required to maintain good physical condition for the purpose of being able to have strong offspring who could serve the state. The military-dominated culture of Sparta resulted in one of the most physically fit societies in the history of mankind.

The ancient Hellenes practiced many sports, and as is evident by the importance and prestige of the Olympic games, being good at them added to your value as a person. Sports were a way to become a living hero. On top of sports, though, weight lifting was of great importance to the ancient Hellenes. They weight trained with activities such as stone lifting, stone throwing, wrestling and rope climbing. Push-ups and pull-ups were a regular part of training and, of course, ancient Hellas was a far more physical culture. Splitting logs, mining, farming, crafts, all added to the work-out and the building of muscle definition.

Fun fact, did you know that for to get the actors in shape in preparation for filming the movie '300', the actors trained for four months using similar training intensities that would have been used during the times of the Spartans? Their work-out included plyometrics, sprinting and intense weight training and made use of barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls. At the end of the four months of training, the actors where invited to complete the ' 300 graduation workout' which involved performing the following exercises in sequential order: 25 pull-ups, 50 deadlifts at 135 lbs., 50 push-ups, 50 box jumps onto a 24 inch box, 50 floor wipers at 135 lbs., 50 kettlebell clean and presses at 36 lbs. and 25 pull-ups. The combination of all repetitions for all of the exercises totals 300 repetitions.

Needless to say, I'm not looking to get up to the '300' level of fitness, but getting in shape slowly but surely is definitely good for my body and over-all health--including my mental health. I'm dead tired--physically--by the time I head to bed, but mentally I've been feeling better than I have in a long time. I have added Ares to my daily prayers, asking Him to give me the endurance to push myself and the protection and wisdom to work my body wisely and never to the point of injury. So far, so good, and while I can't remember what it's like to wake up without feeling sore in some place on my body, I'm starting to see results in my legs, arms, and abs.

I emulate a good few practices from ancient Hellas in a semi-religious manner (my hair, for example), and getting in shape is semi-religious for me as well; it makes me feel closer to understanding the society my religion was first practiced in and brings me closer to the Gods. It's my way of practicing arête. it's not a must for all Hellenists, but getting in shape is never a bad thing; even just fifteen minutes a day can make a world of difference for you and your body. Consider it next time you have a few minutes to yourself; you don't need equipment for any of it, although I invested in a mat, a few light weights and a jump rope. It's well worth the effort, I assure you.
It is my great pleasure to announce the Elaphebolion 2014 nominees for Pandora's Kharis charity of the month. One of the following causes will receive this month's donations made by members of Pandora's Kharis. I would like to thank every community member who stood up to pitch their pick for a cause and as our numbers keep growing, I hope for even more causes to choose from next month.

International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. At work in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities to restore safety, dignity and hope, the IRC leads the way from harm to home.

Wolf Conservation Center 
The Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), founded in 1999 by Hélène Grimaud, is a private, not-for-profit environmental education organization located in South Salem, NY. The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States.

International Mental Health Research Organization
The International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO) is committed to raising awareness and funding neuropsychiatric research to find preventions and cures for severe mental illnesses, focusing on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder, within a generation. 100 percent of the money that is donated to them is dedicated to research.

Wounded Warrior Project
The Wounded Warrior Project aims to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, helps injured service members aid and assist each other, and provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

Metro CareRing Denver
Metro CareRing operates one of Denver’s largest hunger-relief programs, including a fresh foods shopping market, teaching garden, and weekly healthy living and nutrition classes. Instead of receiving a pre-packed or standard bag of groceries, families can shop for free at the Metro CareRing Market. A self-select shopping model gives participants more control over their food choices, exposes them to new foods, and reduces waste. Volunteer Personal Shoppers help participants choose their food, respectfully presenting healthy food options, and guiding them toward preparing nutritionally balanced meals.

Do you have a favourite out of these five? Vote for your favourite in our poll. If you would like to donate to any of these, or have other causes to pitch for next month? Come join us as well! We will announce this month's winner on March 24, 2014.
Yesterday, the City Dionysia came to an end, which means that dusk yesterday started the Pandia festival, an ancient state festival attested as having been held annually at Athens as early as the time of Demosthenes--namely the 4th century BC. Very little is known about this festival, but seeing as we know it was wedged in between a meeting to evaluate the misconduct during the Dionysia on the eitheenth of Elaphebolion and the Dionysia itself, we can at least say with relative accuracy that it was held on the 17th of the month, although the 14th is also mentioned for its connection to the full moon (see below).

What the Pandia celebrate or commemorated is unclear; it's origin story is lost to us and the only records we have of the festival taking place date from much later than its foundation. To the ancient Hellenes who attested to the festival, it was merely a fossilized event that had remained from times past, and they celebrated it in the same way every year--a way obviously not interesting enough to write down. It seems that even they weren't exactly sure about what the festival celebrated.

Pandia (πάνδια) was said to have been a Goddess of the moon, either as an epithet of Selene or as a Goddess onto herself--the daughter of Zeus and Selene. As such, there may have been a connection to the moon for the festival, and either to Pandia, Selene, or Zeus. Another explination would be that the festival is derived from the Attic king Pandion I (Πανδίων Α'), who was said to have lived from 1437 - 1397 BC. Like his father Erichthonius, Pandion married a naiad, Zeuxippe, and they had five children, Erechtheus, Butes, Procne, Philomela, and Cecrops II. According to Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheca, it was during Pandion I's reign that Demeter and Dionysos came to the city-state of Athens. Before his death, he gave the rule of Athens to Erechtheus, but the priesthoods of Poseidon and Athena to Butes.

A third possibility is that the festival is connected to the Attic tribe Dias, so that the Pandia would have been in the same relation to this tribe as the Panathenaea to Athens. A fourth is that the name of the festival is linked to the tribe, but also the name of Zeus--Dias, Διός--which would make it a festival of Zeus Himself.

The most accepted theory comes from Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, a German classical philologist and archaeologist, who concluded that the festival was most likely a festival of Zeus celebrated by all the Attic tribes, analogous to the Panathenaea. It was a much smaller festival, however, and those celebrating it today can fullfill the religious obligations for it by sacrificing to Zeus. If you want to add Padria and Selene, that is--of course--completely fine. If you intend to look up Pandia, you are helped greatly by knowing the name which she was better known as in ancient Hellas: Pandeia (Πανδεια). The Homeric Hymn to Selene mentions all three Gods so feel free to use that as a hymn during your ritual:

"And next, sweet voiced Muses, daughters of Zeus, well-skilled in song, tell of the long-winged Moon. From her immortal head a radiance is shown from heaven and embraces earth; and great is the beauty that ariseth from her shining light. The air, unlit before, glows with the light of her golden crown, and her rays beam clear, whensoever bright Selene having bathed her lovely body in the waters of Ocean, and donned her far-gleaming, shining team, drives on her long-maned horses at full speed, at eventime in the mid-month: then her great orbit is full and then her beams shine brightest as she increases. So she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men. Once the Son of Cronos was joined with her in love; and she conceived and bare a daughter Pandia, exceeding lovely amongst the deathless gods. Hail, white-armed goddess, bright Selene, mild, bright-tressed queen! And now I will leave you and sing the glories of men half-divine, whose deeds minstrels, the servants of the Muses, celebrate with lovely lips." [XXXII]

Blessed Pandia, everyone!
Yesterday I was asked if the Golden Verses of Pythagoras have a place in my practice. For those of you unfamiliar with the Golden Verses, they are a collection of moral exhortations and comprise 71 lines written in dactylic hexameter verse. Traditionally, they are attributed to Pythagoras, although the exact origins of the verses are unknown. It appears that the verses may have been known as early as the third century BC, but their existence as we know them cannot be confirmed prior to the fifth century AD.  Neoplatonists used the golden verses as part of their preparatory program of moral instruction. The verses are:

1. First worship the Immortal Gods, as they are established and ordained by the Law.
2. Reverence the Oath, and next the Heroes, full of goodness and light.
3. Honour likewise the Terrestrial Daemons by rendering them the worship lawfully due to them.
4. Honour likewise your parents, and those most nearly related to you.
5. Of all the rest of mankind, make him your friend who distinguishes himself by his virtue.
6. Always give ear to his mild exhortations, and take example from his virtuous and useful actions.
7. Avoid as much as possible hating your friend for a slight fault.
8. Power is a near neighbour to necessity.
9. Know that all these things are just as what I have told you; and accustom yourself to overcome and vanquish these passions:--
10. First gluttony, sloth, sensuality, and anger.
11. Do nothing evil, neither in the presence of others, nor privately;
12. But above all things respect yourself.
13. In the next place, observe justice in your actions and in your words.
14. And do not accustom yourself to behave yourself in any thing without rule, and without reason.
15. But always make this reflection, that it is ordained by destiny that all men shall die.
16. And that the goods of fortune are uncertain; and that just as they may be acquired, they may likewise be lost.
17. Concerning all the calamities that men suffer by divine fortune,
18. Support your lot with patience, it is what it may be, and never complain at it.
19. But endeavour what you can to remedy it.
20. And consider that fate does not send the greatest portion of these misfortunes to good men.
21. There are many sorts of reasonings among men, good and bad;
22. Do not admire them too easily, nor reject them.
23. But if falsehoods are advanced, hear them with mildness, and arm yourself with patience.
24. Observe well, on every occasion, what I am going to tell you:--
25. Do not let any man either by his words, or by his deeds, ever seduce you.
26. Nor lure you to say or to do what is not profitable for yourself.
27. Consult and deliberate before you act, that you may not commit foolish actions.
28. For it is the part of a miserable man to speak and to act without reflection.
29. But do the thing which will not afflict you afterwards, nor oblige you to repentance.
30. Never do anything which you do not understand.
31. But learn all you ought to know, and by that means you will lead a very pleasant life.
32. in no way neglect the health of your body;
33. But give it drink and meat in due measure, and also the exercise of which it needs.
34. Now by measure I mean what will not discomfort you.
35. Accustom yourself to a way of living that is neat and decent without luxury.
36. Avoid all things that will occasion envy.
37. And do not be prodigal out of season, like someone who does not know what is decent and honourable.
38. Neither be covetous nor stingy; a due measure is excellent in these things.
39. Only do the things that cannot hurt you, and deliberate before you do them.
40. Never allow sleep to close your eyelids, after you went to bed,
41. Until you have examined all your actions of the day by your reason.
42. In what have I done wrong? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?
43. If in this examination you find that you have done wrong, reprove yourself severely for it;
44. And if you have done any good, rejoice.
45. Practise thoroughly all these things; meditate on them well; you ought to love them with all your heart.
46. It is those that will put you in the way of divine virtue.
47. I swear it by he who has transmitted into our souls the Sacred Quaternion, the source of nature, whose cause is eternal.
48. But never begin to set your hand to any work, until you have first prayed the gods to accomplish what you are going to begin.
49. When you have made this habit familiar to you,
50. You will know the constitution of the Immortal Gods and of men.
51. Even how far the different beings extend, and what contains and binds them together.
52. You shall likewise know that according to Law, the nature of this universe is in all things alike,
53. So that you shall not hope what you ought not to hope; and nothing in this world shall be hidden from you.
54. You will likewise know, that men draw upon themselves their own misfortunes voluntarily, and of their own free choice.
55. Unhappy they are! They neither see nor understand that their good is near them.
56. Few know how to deliver themselves out of their misfortunes.
57. Such is the fate that blinds humankind, and takes away his senses.
58. Like huge cylinders they roll back and forth, and always oppressed with innumerable ills.
59. For fatal strife, natural, pursues them everywhere, tossing them up and down; nor do they perceive it.
60. Instead of provoking and stirring it up, they ought to avoid it by yielding.
61. Oh! Jupiter, our Father! If you would deliver men from all the evils that oppress them,
62. Show them of what daemon they make use.
63. But take courage; the race of humans is divine.
64. Sacred nature reveals to them the most hidden mysteries.
65. If she impart to you her secrets, you will easily perform all the things which I have ordained thee.
66. And by the healing of your soul, you wilt deliver it from all evils, from all afflictions.
67. But you should abstain from the meats, which we have forbidden in the purifications and in the deliverance of the soul;
68. Make a just distinction of them, and examine all things well.
69. Leave yourself always to be guided and directed by the understanding that comes from above, and that ought to hold the reins.
70. And when, after having deprived yourself of your mortal body, you arrived at the most pure Aither,
71. You shall be a God, immortal, incorruptible, and Death shall have no more dominion over you.

As for the answer to the question: the short answer is ‘no’, but that is only if you stick to the ditchotomy of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. As much as I admire Pythagoras and his views, I feel far more drawn to the older ethical guidelines, like the Delphic Maxims and the tenets of Solon.

I am a follower of the Classical period, a period where the popularity of scholars and poets increased, but had not yet overtaken the minds of the followers of the Theoi in any major way. Pythagoras’ views on the Theoi do not overlap entirely with mine… so yes, I enjoy reading the Golden Verses and many of them overlap with older ethical guidelines I completely agree with… but I can’t agree with all of them.
'Atlantis', BBC One's TV series set in a hollywood version of ancient Hellas that follows the Jason, a strapping young man who ends up traveling to the--previously believed to be mythical--city of Atlantis in search for his father. Here, he ends up in a world of adventures, trying to find out who he is and who his father was. I have recapped the whole of season one, and used to post them on mondays. This morning, I felt nostagic, so I went on an Atlantis hunt. 

It seems that there is still no set airdate for Atlantis, but filming started last week. Our heroes have their scrips, and seem to be pretty excited about it. By the way, did you know that the Oracle has a Twitter account where you can ask questions about the show? Whoever mans that thing is pretty hilarious.

It seems that for a while there was a 30-minute behind-the-scenes video that I cannot find anywhere on the web today? Is there anyone out there who can find it? I'd actually love to see it. What I did find, though, is my favorite behind-the-scenes picture ever. Robert Emms rocking an umbrella? Oh yes!

I'm not sure if today's post actually adds anything to your life, and I'm sorry if it doesn't, but I would kind of like Atlantis to be back now. It's not perfect, and good Gods, Hercules needs to sit down and be quiet for a while, but it's set in ancient Hellas, and it speaks of the Gods in a respectful manner, and I rather miss doing the recaps. So, perhaps I should be pre-ordering season one on DVD, seeing as you can do that now, and have a marathon once it comes out--just to tide me over until season two. Speaking of which: are you excited about that? What are you looking forward to most? 
As the blogger of a Hellenic blog with a good few visitors every day, I feel it is my duty to promote any solid initiative that aids the Hellenic community. Case in point: some beautiful people un the US are trying to get funds together to build a temple of Apollon:

"We have a dream to see the Gods of Hellas and their rites restored and reinstated to their deserved place of glory as ones who are worthy of our devotion and praise in the modern world.  This fund is being started in Honor of Apollon, the God of prophecy, healing and light in hopes of it contributing to the foundation of a real and functional temple to be located where he sees fit to inspire the construction. Please join me in my efforts as I labor towards this goal in the name of Apollon and all of Olympus. No contribution is too small and all will be dedicated towards achieving this vision."

Brandie Elaine is a self-described Pythian reconstructionist priestess who feels called to create a temple for the God she serves. Along with Todd Jackson she is trying to set up the temple in the Las Vegas area--and in such a way that it can be economically self-sustaining right away so that the space can be rented. In this way, the initiative would be vastly cheaper than it would be if a property had to be bought (even though that is a long term goal).

Those who donate can choose from a few perks depending on the amount given: dream interpretation ($3,-), an oracle session ($7,-), third eye activation ($33,-), a purification ($77,-), or a light healing session ($100,-). Of course, you can also donate any amount without claiming a perk. Donations can be made through PayPal, creditcard, bank account or WePay. Once more, the fundraiser can be found here.
Someone in the Elaion Facebook group brought in a valid point: while some universal ideals and ideas about Hellenismos seem to be shared between various groups and individual followers of the Hellenic Gods, there are also huge differences. How much deviation can there realistically be before you are no longer practicing the same thing? What follows is my personal opinion and doesn't have a single fact in it. That said, this is one of those issues that need to be addressed every now and again, because we're reestablishing a shared religion and the focus should be on both 'religion' and 'shared'.

This post is going to rehash some points from a post I wrote in August of 2012 of standardizing Hellenismos. As I said then, Hellenismos does not have the luxury of being a 'do as thou wilt' religion. As a Reconstructionistic Tradition, Hellenismos has source material it needs to draw from in order for it to truly reconstruct anything. I have spoke to you about my problems with reconstruction before but it bears repeating; I greatly believe and fear that reconstruction is only possible within the confines of modern day society, thus limiting its validity by default.

We're a diverse bunch, even though we all use the same terms to describe ourselves; various Traditions popped up in various places and it's only logical that all groups took the available source material and ran with it in their own way. The situation in Hellas is much different from the situation in North America, and judging by the minimal availablitity of Hellenists in the Benelux, Traditions where I live are going to be different from the previous two. It happens; we're all people trying to figure it out.

What I hear often when this issue is brought up is that the religion of the ancient Hellenes varied so much from city-state to city-state--and even city to city--that any differences that we have in practices today are completely fine. I am on the fence about that. A part of me agrees; there is nothing wrong with a difference in practice, and as logn as we all worship the Hellenic Gods in a way that is at least Reformed Hellenistic, we should be good, right? That said, as a Traditional Hellenist, there are rituals I will not participate in--even if they are Hellenic. Worshipping the Khthonic deities as a part of standard practice, for example, especially if They are worshipped in the same manner or breath as the Ouranic deities. That is not my religion. Is it Hellenic, though? Now there is the big question.

My way is not the 'right' way; there is no 'right' way. None of us traveled the whole of ancient Hellas and brought back their practices. We are missing a lot of information. Fact remains, though, that a métoikos or traveller joining a ritual in a city(-state) not his or her own would have recognized the general structure. They would know in broad strokes what was going to happen and what was expected of them. Procession, hymns and prayers, purification, (animal) sacrifice, etc. There were some things that were universal even though the weight placed on certain Gods differed, festivals had different dates, and local cusoms were often unknown to these métoikos.

I wonder if, if I joined in with a Labrys festival in Hellas or a Hellenion one in the US, if I would know what to do. How great would the differences be with how I do things? What differences in ethics would we have? Would I be asked to do things I can't do because of my interpretation of the religion? I see videos of group rituals sometimes, and while it's always interesting to watch, I often feel like I am watching something entirely unrelated to my religion.

When I talked about standardizing Hellenismos, I didn't look to do that because I think there is something wrong with what we are doing now; I was saying it because these differences will only increase in the years to come. Those are the laws of natural development. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does fracture an already small religion. Personally, I thinkw e are too young to start falling apart into denominations.

We all worship the ancient Hellenic Gods, and essentially, that should be enough. We are all equal but different because of the focus we have and the culture we practice in. The availability of sources, the availability of others, all these things influence what we do and how we think. There is beauty in diversity, but I do stress that we need to be mindful of each other. I still think we would benefit from a frew guidelines that stretch the globe; guidelines that visitors can hold on to and not suddenly get confronted with an animal sacrifice or hymns to Hades. We need some standard practices and some warning labels, that way we can all enjoy our religion while knowing we at least connect to (all) other practicioners around the globe.
Friend of the blog and all-round wonderful person Terence P Ward asked me to talk a little bit more about money. Seeing as there was flattery and flattery will get you everywhere, I guess I'm writing about money today. Head's up, a lot of this is from the Oxford Companion To Classical Civilization.

"I was wondering if I could entice you to do another post on money, seeing that your research skills are heroic. Specifically, I would like to learn what the Hellenic word for money is, and how that informs our understanding of the Hellenic relationship with the stuff. I guess that would be the etymology I'm asking about. Any interest?"

As far as I am aware, the ancient Hellenic word for 'money' is 'momisma' (νόμισμα). It's derived from νομίζω (nomizō), 'to hold or own as a custom or usage, to use customarily', in turn from νόμος (nomos), 'usage, custom', ultimately from νέμω (nemō), 'I dispense, divide, assign, keep, hold'. In modern Greek, the word 'nomisma' means 'currency', and it is also a term used by numismatists--people who study or collect currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects--when referring to the pieces of money or coin. The plural is 'nomismata'.

The use of coins most likely began in western Anatolia, at the point of contact between Hellenic cities on the Aegean coast and the Lydian kingdom. The first coins were made of a natural gold and silver alloy named 'electrum', and were most likely made around 600 BC. Purely gold and silver coinds followed quickly, and they carried depictions of lions and bulls.

Nowadays, we make use of money dor any purchase, but it's highly unlikely that these early coins served the same purpose. There were differences in weight, purity, and size between coins from various city-states--even when they were close together--and thus the value of a coin was... flexible. At best. It most likely took decades for coins to become a standardized method of payment, and in the beginning, the coins were most likely only used for large-scale payments that needed to cross great distances. Gold coins are easier to transport than goods with the same value, after all.

By the second half of the sixth century BC, golden coins had all but disappeared in favor of solid silver ones. A great variety of coins emmerged--some lighter and of less value for direct barter, but most heavier than the base currency, intended solely to be transported over great distances to make a payment. From the Aegean area, the medium of coinage spread rapidly to the western Hellenics settled around the coasts of southern Italy and Sicily, France, and Spain. Early Corinthian coinage in particular influenced some of the first coinages in the west.

Alexander the Great adopted the Attic weight standard for coins and even after his death, the system he had put into place remained fairly stable. Bronze became an oft-used medium to mint coins in, and started replacing silver. Even so, the value of the coin held, and slowly, the coin developed a worth beyond the price of the material it was made from.

Terence, I hope this is what you were looking for. If not, you know where to find me, right? The Pagan Blog Project Post will be up tomorrow.
Sundown yesterday marked the start of the Dionysia ta en Astei (Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει), Dionysia ta Megala (Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα), Great(er) Dionysia, or City Dionysia, was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. It was and is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC). It was most favously held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honors Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia. You can read more about its place in Athenian society here.

Dionysos was a métoikos in a city of Athens, a resident alien, and on the first two days of the festival, the métoikoi of the city got to wear brightly colored festival clothes--mostly purple--and carried trays of offerings in the processions, something métoikoi never got to do otherwise. The Athenian citizens, on the other hand, wore their day-to-day clothes and carried wine and bread with them, or herded the bulls which would be sacrificed. Labrys, a Hellenic Polytheistic group located in Greece, recently performed the Phallephoria, the carrying of a phallus in procession in honor of Dionysus through the streets of Athens, for the first time after almost two thousand years.

At the end of the processions, the statue of Dionysos was placed in His temple in the theater district, and sacrifices were made to Him. Flute players and poets held contests, and were eager to outdo each other. After all of this, the festival most likely became very Dionysian, indeed.

Singing and dancing had always been a big part of the City Dionysia, but after a while, the structure of the seven day festival became more apparent. Instead of random singing and dancing, from the third day onward, everyone flogged to the theaters to view the plays, whose names and creators had been announced the day prior. The next three days of the festival were devoted to the tragic plays. The three chosen playwrights performed three tragedies and one satyr play each, one set of plays per day. Famous playwrights include Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. They were judged by judges (agonothetai) chosen on the second day.

On the sixth day of the festival, five comedies by famous playwrights like Philemon, Chionides, and Aristophanes were performed. Comedies were of secondary importance at the Dionysia--the Lenaia was far more important for those--but winning the comedic prize at the Dionysia was still regarded a great honor. It seems that, from the fifth century BC onwards, plays could be recycled, and the audience seemed to have appreciated it. These plays were fan favorites, and were not rushed to completion.

Another procession and celebration was held on the final day, and the winners of the competitions were declared. The winning playwrights won a wreath of ivy, or a goat, although, when old plays were performed, the producer was awarded the prize rather than the long-dead playwright.

The Dionysia ta en Astei always seems like the perfect time for an impromptu karaoke competition, or one of those performance nights you had at camp. Personally, I think it would be a hoot to perform plays or other forms of entertainment for other members of your thiasoi. Alternatively, watching movies, attending plays, or even engaging in a few rounds of Rock Band or Guitar Hero would greatly amuse Dionysos. It's a time to have fun, but also to take a critical look at humanity and society: that was the purpose fo many of the tragedies. Remember that undercurrent while you revel, and the Dionysia ta Megala should be a great success.

Image source: Dionysos
In 2004, underground filmmaker Jamil Said released a documentary about modern Hellenists living in Greece. In a little over an hour, the basics of the religion are explained, the viewer is introduced to a few Hellenists and their reasons for worshipping, we are shown some rituals, and we watch as the people who worship the Hellenic Gods are subjected to hate and ignorance because of it. The documentary is called 'I Still Worship Zeus' and is a must-see for any Hellenist. Required viewing, so to say. The DVD is hard to get these days, but thankfully, modern technology is catching up: 'I Still Worship Zeus' is now on Youtube!

"Thousands of years ago, the Ancient Greeks honored and worshipped the twelve gods of Greece. Today, ninety-eight percent of the population in Greece is Christian Orthodox. However, some natives of Greece--ranging from successful doctors and lawyers to university professors and artists--believe that the ancient Greek religion never died. Many of these believers continue the traditions of their great-great grandfathers and beyond who worshipped the twelve gods. And many try to emulate the values of the gods and, during some rituals, even dress like them. There are several organizations of these people in Greece, and their membership is estimated to be in the thousands (including some in the countryside who are supposedly too afraid to admit their beliefs). All of them are united in their plea to the Greek government to recognize their faith as an official religion. For 10 years, however, these requests have been ignored, in violation of European Union human rights laws. 

This documentary focuses on individual case studies of believers, as well as the private rituals and large ceremonies they perform--such as the yearly honoring of Zeus at Mount Olympus, which attracts followers from all over the world. Also featured is a multi-step Apollo oracle performed in Delphi at the temples of Athena and Apollo. The film acknowledges the skeptics, including an ancient Greek scholar, a political scientist, a psychologist, priests, journalists, and the general public. These skeptics examine, re-evaluate and challenge the validity, philosophy and politics of the twelve gods believers. The film provides insight into the devout citizens who adore ancient Greek history and seek to express their religious beliefs in whatever way they see fit, even the right to build temples to Zeus."

'I Still Worship Zeus' was--and is--a very important documentary for the Hellenic Polytheistic Community in Greece and world wide. Not everyone was happy with it when it came out, but it tells a story that needs to be told. It's a dated story, however, and we could do with an update on this 10 year anniversary. Some of the issues in the video have been resolved or at least managed, but others have emerged. We could use a world-wide outlook. For now, though, we have 'I Still Worship Zeus'. What do you think about this documentary?