I am very happy to announce that Pandora's Kharis has raised $100,- for Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (MSAVLC).

Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is a registered charity that was originally established in 1965. Since then it has been providing aid to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in South-East Asia. The aim of the charity is to promote good health and relieve sickness, by providing aid, supplies and equipment to health-related organisations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Their support meets a wide range of needs but focuses particularly on children, and those whose lives have been blighted by poverty or the aftermath of war and strife.

MSAVLC currently supports twelve projects in South-East. Asia. All of these projects deal with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people of the region. The charity is run exclusively by volunteers. Their overheads are minimal; every possible penny goes to where it is needed. By concentrating on primary health and responding to specific requests it is surprising what even modest funding can achieve.
From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community.

On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving. Thank you for your generosity!
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:
  • The Google festival calendar has been updated for a month, and will hopefully be updated further today.
  • I am terribly still terribly behind on the Pagan Blog Project, but I'll try to catch up as soon as possible. 
Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists, was launched a few months ago and is currently collecting for MSAVLC--the 'Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. If you want to donate, you have until tomorrow! 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. Have a blessed Deipnon!
I've already talked quite a lot about the Parthenon Marbles on this blog. You can find posts on them here, here, and here. To recap, though, the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803.

Greece begins new campaign for Parthenon Sculptures
Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum [Credit: TANN]
The Parthenon Marbles acquired by Elgin include seventeen figures from the statuary from the east and west pediments of the Parthenon, fifteen (of the original 92) of the metope panels depicting battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, as well as 247 feet (75 meters) of the original 524 feet (160 meters) of the Parthenon Frieze which decorated the horizontal course set above the interior architrave of the temple. As such, they represent more than half of what now remains of the surviving sculptural decoration of the Parthenon. Elgin's acquisitions also included objects from other buildings on the Athenian Acropolis: a Caryatid from Erechtheum; four slabs from the parapet frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike; and a number of other architectural fragments of the Parthenon, Propylaia, Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Treasury of Atreus.

Back in December 2013, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, sent a letter to the British Foreign Secretary, informing him of Hellas' request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. The Archaeology News Network now responds that a new campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has been launched by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna V. Vardinoyiannis. The campaign, titled “Return (the Marbles), Restore (Parthenon), Restart (History), is based on an initiative by the Elpida Association and the Melina Mercouri Foundation. It is aimed at increasing awareness for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

The campaign’s opening event was an international conference on the Parthenon scheduled to take place at the Acropolis Museum on Thursday, followed by an across-the-country survey regarding the importance of the marbles’ return for Greeks. The results of both the conference and the survey are expected to be submitted to world heritage organization UNESCO.
"Would you mind writing a bit about the eleventh delphic maxim? "Think as a mortal". Have you already written about that one? I just find it very interesting, but I would like to hear your thoughts on it as well..... :))"

I actually wrote about this maxim in my third post ever on this blog, although I didn't go very deep into it then. The post boiled down to the following meaning: remember your place, especially in relation to the Gods. Porphyrios (Πορφύριος) (234 - 305 AD), a Neoplatonist, said in his 'Introduction to the logical categories of Aristotle' that:

"...difference is that by which each singular thing differs, for man and horse do not differ as to genus, for both we and horses are animals, but the addition of rational separates us from them; again, both we and the gods are rational, but the addition of mortal separates us from them." [Ch 3, par 4]

Human kind is said to be a step above animals because we have the ability to think about our actions and predict the consequences of those actions, but we are below the Gods, because we are mortal, and the Gods are deathless. As such, we are encouraged to use our ability to think logically about our actions and choose wisely, but always to keep in mind that life is ending for us, and we have only a limited span in which to accomplish what we want to accomplish. Unlike the Gods, we do not plan centuries ahead; we have only a limited number of years, and our goals should reflect this.

'Think as a mortal' is a reminder that we must not overstep our bounds. Like Arachne in the post I wrote before on this topic, we must remember our place and be content with it. We have been given a mind to think, and years to spend on this earth before Haides claims us, and we should make the most of that, without ever aspiring to be like the Gods. We are not Gods, we are human, and we must never, ever, forget that or risk hubris. Hubris--to recap--can be described as the act of willful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods. It's a serious offense to the Theoi, and the Theia Nemesis had and has a full time job in punishing those who commit it.

The Theoi are always greater than us, and when we step out of line, They will put us back into it. Fear of the Gods has become something dirty--outdated--in the Pagan world, but within Hellenismos, fear of the Gods is not outdated at all; it's a cornerstone of the faith. Fear of the Gods, here, is not meant in the Christian sense where any sin committed is seen by God, and jeopardizes you place in heaven; here it is meant as a reminder of kharis: that the Gods look favourably upon those who honour Them properly. The implication here is, of course, that they do not look favourably upon those who do not honor Them properly, and this is correct, yet, committing hubris does not automatically mean that you will be punished by the Theoi; it simply means a drop in kharis.

Remembering our place as 'mortal rational animals' is exactly the goal of the maxim, in my opinion, and of all the maxims, I think it's one of the most important because it ties into both kharis and hubris; cornerstones of Hellenismos.
Remember I posted about the Antikythera wreck that was to be explored by way of exosuit a while back? Well, that's not the only underwater exploration going on these days in relation to (pre-)Hellenic artefacts: the Archaeology News Network reports that Greek and Swiss archaeologists are going to be assisted by the largest solar catamaran, the 'MS Turanor PlanetSolar', in their underwater excavations in the Argolic Gulf.

Expedition to search for submerged Greek sites
The MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the largest solar catamaran, is to assist archaeologists
in their underwater excavations in the Argolic Gulf
[Credit: PlanetSolar]

The underwater excavation is going to take place near the submerged Franchthi cave, where the archaeologists hope to uncover the oldest European settlement dating back to the Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras. Minister of Environment Yannis Maniatis commented that the excavations "are a dive into the History of this land" and argued that the Argolida "is the world’s large open archeological site […] where Homo Sapiens took his first prehistoric steps in the Mediterranean".

According to researchers, the Franchthi cave on the northern shore of Kiladha bay (Argolic Gulf) was occupied for some 35,000 years, from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic ages. If the scientists' theory is correct and leads to a discovery of ancient civilization undersea, this would lead to the suggestion that Greece played a key role in the rise of the Neolithic way of life as it spread from the Middle East to Europe.

The excavation, which is code-named 'TerraSubmersa', is set to begin on the 1st of August, with the main body of research scheduled to occur between the 18th August and 12th of September. Scientists on board the 'MS Turanor PlanetSolar' will be assisted by the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (ELKETHE) to carry out geophysical surveys in order to accurately document the topography.

The TerraSubmersa mission is supported the University of Geneva, the Swiss Archaeological School in Greece, the Hellenic Department of Underwater Antiquities and ELKETHE.
Another reader question today; a long one, asking about the interpretation of signs and how we feel the presence of the Gods in our lives:

"So this is probably a strange question, as I'm very new to hellenic polytheism, and still trying to figure out incorporating all the gods in worship, and so I've been focusing mostly on Athena for now. But I was wondering, what forms can contact from a god take?? I ask because just this Sunday, I was at a comic convention and struck up a conversation with an armor maker, and he ended up selling me these beautiful handcrafted metal greaves for 20$, when their original price was around 150$.

I feel silly asking if you think this was some sort of reciprocation from Athena, because I feel like the acquisition of material goods is not something that she would really be involved in, but the fact remains that I've got these awesome pieces of armor that make me feel brave and strong, and that's v. cool. I made her an offering of olive oil (not sure if that's even a good thing to give)and thanked her for blessing me with courage. I am not quite sure what I'm doing, but I hope it's ok."

I've never heard the voices of the Gods and Goddesses I worship, but I have been in contact with Them on numerous occasions. I know people whom the Gods actually, literally, speak to. I have never been that girl, and that is just fine by me. That way, I'm sure it's not just the inner sock puppets--a term gratefully borrowed--I'm dealing with. This, however, does not mean that I'm never in contact with the Gods. I have come to rely on a certain gut feeling that is impossible to describe. It feels a little like someone putting a hand on your neck and lower back at the same time and pinching. I spoke about the feeling in my post about synchronicity, and those times, I definitely feel that presence. Those times, I listen.

There is an art--a skill--to interpreting signs, and it comes with a lot of practice. Many of us perform at least one type of divination, and all of us keep our feelers out to maybe find out what the Gods want from us--be it sacrifice, taking or not taking a job, going or not going somewhere, etc. I remember starting out with Paganism many, many, years ago and thinking everything was a sign while doubting every sign I got. over the years, I have discovered a few things about interpreting signs:
  • Almost always, that sign you think you have gotten is either some random occurrence without meaning or your inner sockpuppets talking to you
  • It doesn't matter if it's the inner sockpuppets or a true sign; if you feel you must or must not do (or buy) something in your gut, then do or do not do it--the opinions of the Gods matter, but yours do as well
  • Don't be afraid to interpret (or misinterpret) signs; the Gods will steer you right eventually if you got it wrong, and most likely you won't even notice
  • Go with your gut; always go with your gut--and always be respectful to the Gods
The Gods can contact you in any way you can think of, and probably a few that you can't. They are in the split second decision that prevents a car crash, They are in the count to ten you do before lashing out, They are in the job that finally comes your way after a long, long, time searching for one. Believing the truth of this is the difference between having faith and not having faith: I choose to see the Gods in all of these things, while an atheist will see only coincidence. Religion is a matter of perspective.

So, could your greaves be a sign from Athena? Sure. Could they not be sign from Athena? Yeah, that's possible, too. Look inside of yourself, though: has this experience made you feel closer to Athena? Are you more motivated to worship Her and perhaps some of the other Theoi? Then that's all that matters. Enjoy your beautiful greaves and think of Her whenever you wear them. Oh--and for future reference, olive oil libations are perfect for Athena, and red wine is also traditional. What matters is that you give thanks for aid, guidance, and possessions you feel you have received from the Gods; what, exactly, you should do will become second nature soon enough. Good luck!
I am not sure if all of you Americans--the majority of my readers--are aware of it or not, but something's going on right now in the world that has most of said world enthralled: the FIFA World Soccer Cup. I know it's not American Football, but let me tell you, I anxiously await the World Cup every single time, just like the European Soccer cup, and the Olympics. Those are my main sporting events, and every evening (it's in Brazil this time, so for me, the matches start at 6 PM, 9 PM, midnight, and 3 AM) I am glued to my TV set to cheer on whoever's playing. Besides my own country, I have no favourites and I cheer for whoever plays best, shows the most sportsmanship, or is the biggest underdog. My allegiances can switch mid-game if the criteria mentioned above shift to the other team. In general, I am as enthralled by Ghana playing South Korea as my country's team playing against anyone.

I was never a very sporty girl growing up, and I never really enjoyed watching sports either. Gym class was the bane of my existence, and for most of my high school years I wore a male fitted, oversized, t-shirt to gym class with a kitten in a hammock on it and the words 'do not disturb'. I joined my school's soccer team for a blue moon, but I think that was under duress. The only physical activity I enjoyed was swimming, but not the 'doing laps'-kind, no, the kind where you get to dive down to the bottom of the deepest pool to retrieve scrunchies.

I remember exactly what year I became interested in sports on TV: the 1998 World Cup. The Netherlands was doing really well, and my mom and I started to watch the games we played in. The next World Cup, I caught whatever match I could, and that tradition hasn't waned.

There is something awe inspiring about watching these lesser gods excel at their game--and right now, I will watch pretty much any sports competition that comes to my TV screen, save for tennis and cycling. The Summer Olympics are my favourite, but pretty much anything will do, including soccer, boxing, hockey, gymnastics, basketball, etc. Watching these men and women compete--seeing their devotion and determination--makes me strive to do better myself, to become even healthier, to become even fitter than I already am.

Since I progressed into Hellenismos, I have realized I watch sports competitions differently. I think of ancient Hellas, and the Olympics they held, and I can almost taste how it must have been, especially now the World Soccer Cup is in Brazil: people finding shade on the stands to get away from the glaring sun, cheering on their favourites, eating good food, drinking bad beer and wine, placing bets and forgetting about their daily lives for a while. Sport are a bonding agent, a glue in society. It brings together people from all races, all genders, all ages, and gives people--and countries--something to focus on other than trying to make life miserable for each other.

Of course, there is a dark underbelly: people forcibly relocated, money being poured into these events that should have gone to the people, insane amounts of money being awarded to some athletes but not others, depending on the sport, etc. etc. I'm not excusing or condoning any of that, but it doesn't take away from the fact that day after day, these people get up and do what they are passionate about, and we get to look at them and forget about everything else for a while.

In ancient Hellas, the main reason for the Olympics festival was to honour the Gods. Every event was surrounded by ritual and sacrifice, and the vows the athletes made to the Gods were the main reason not to cheat or conduct foul play. The winner got olive oil and a wreath and that was that. Of course, he also earned such major bragging rights that he was put up for life afterwards by the city he lived in. I long for those days, the days where the players weren't paid in millions, where the Gods were the focus of the games. These athletes must have been humbler men (and women); they knew they had only won because the Gods had picked their sides. That still gives you bragging rights, but not in the way you now see diva attitude on and off the soccer field.

Cristiano Ronaldo has a five-year contract worth $206 million with Real Madrid (earning him $80 million American dollars in salary, winnings, and endorsement fees in 2014 alone), Lionel Messi--star player for Barcelona--has a $64.1 million dollars a year salary, making his income $64.7 million if you include endorsement. These amounts are insane. Sure, you wear out your body around age 30-35, but no one needs a bank account balance of hundreds of millions of dollars to get through the remaining years--unless you go all out and spend everything on cars and houses. This is, of course, contrasted by many, many, other sports where athletes are at the pinnacle of human achievement and still hold down a nine-to-five just to make ends meet--many of the Olympic athletes, for example.

Financially, sports have become unbalanced--corrupt--but they still inspire. They have become a way for kids to do better--think of scholarships in the US, or kids in disadvantaged countries working their asses off so they might become the new Messi or Ronaldo and create a better life for themselves. Think of after school or 'scared straight' programs that include sports to keep kids about to derail from doing so. The hype created around these athletes inspires kids to work out, and in that regards, they are an invaluable aid in bringing down the obesity numbers.

Personally, it's not so much these athletes who finally inspired me to get off of my ass and get in shape, but it has made me more appreciative of their accomplishments. I jog almost daily, and I am in awe of the stamina these soccer players have. I know now what it takes to get rock hard abs like them, and let me tell you, it takes a lot--and I am definitely not there yet. I have as much sportiness in my entire body as they have in their left pinkies, and just because of that, it's a pleasure to watch them. Seeing any athlete achieve such heroic feats of endurance and strength encourages me to do better myself, and I hope it was like that in ancient Hellas as well: the Gods Themselves smiled down on these heroes, and I am sure people in the audience were inspired to receive that kind of divine attention as well--one they were worthy.
So, I woke up this morning with zero inspiration to write and with the deep desire to either work out for four hours, or sit wrapped in a blanket on the couch all day watching an Air Crash Investigation marathon. It feels like there is no in-between. As I seem to need this day for mental health reasons, I'm not going to force myself to write. Instead, I am going to leave you with 28 hours of video footage of lecturing at Yale university on ancient Hellas. Enjoy!

"Professor Donald Kagan explains why people should study the ancient Greeks. He argues that the Greeks are worthy of our study not only because of their vast achievements and contributions to Western civilization (such as in the fields of science, law, and politics) but also because they offer a unique perspective on humanity. To the Greeks, man was both simultaneously capable of the greatest achievements and the worst crimes; he was both great and important, but also mortal and fallible. He was a tragic figure, powerful but limited. Therefore, by studying the Greeks, one gains insight into a tension that has gripped and shaped the West and the rest of the world through its influence. In short, to study the Greeks is to study the nature of human experience."
Welcome to another Labour: obtaining the girdle of Hipplyta. Let's set the stage: Eurystheus' daughter Admete wanted the belt of Hippolyta, a gift to the queen of the Amazons from the war god Ares. To please his daughter, Eurystheus ordered  Hēraklēs to retrieve the belt as his ninth labour.

The Amazons (Ἀμαζόνες, Amazónes, singular Ἀμαζών, Amazōn) were all-female warriors legened to have lived in Pontus, which is part of modern-day Turkey near the southern shore of the Euxine Sea (the Black Sea). There they formed an independent kingdom under the government of a queen named Hippolyta or Hippolyte (generally translated as 'unbridled mare'). The Amazons were supposed to have founded many towns, amongst them Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope, and Paphos. Apollodorus, in his 'Library', writes about the Amazons, and Hippolyta:

"She was queen of the Amazons, who dwelt about the river Thermodon, a people great in war; for they cultivated the manly virtues, and if ever they gave birth to children through intercourse with the other sex, they reared the females; and they pinched off the right breasts that they might not be trammelled by them in throwing the javelin, but they kept the left breasts, that they might suckle." [2.5.9]

Hēraklēs sailed to Paros, and right away, ran into a lot of trouble. Apollodorus, again: 

"[T]aking with him a band of volunteer comrades in a single ship he set sail and put in to the island of Paros, which was inhabited by the sons of Minos, to wit, Eurymedon, Chryses, Nephalion, and Philolaus. But it chanced that two of those in the ship landed and were killed by the sons of Minos. Indignant at this, Hercules killed the sons of Minos on the spot and besieged the rest closely, till they sent envoys to request that in the room of the murdered men he would take two, whom he pleased. So he raised the siege, and taking on board the sons of Androgeus, son of Minos, to wit, Alcaeus and Sthenelus, he came to Mysia, to the court of Lycus, son of Dascylus, and was entertained by him; and in a battle between him and the king of the Bebryces Hercules sided with Lycus and slew many, amongst others King Mygdon, brother of Amycus. And he took much land from the Bebryces and gave it to Lycus, who called it all Heraclea." [2.5.9]

From here on out, Hēraklēs got to focus on completing his task. Hippolyte was a powerful Queen, who cared about doing the best for her people. According to Apollodorus, she would have given her girdle, but unfortunately, the Gods had other plans.

"Having put in at the harbor of Themiscyra, he received a visit from Hippolyte, who inquired why he was come, and promised to give him the belt. But Hera in the likeness of an Amazon went up and down the multitude saying that the strangers who had arrived were carrying off the queen. So the Amazons in arms charged on horseback down on the ship. But when Hercules saw them in arms, he suspected treachery, and killing Hippolyte stripped her of her belt. And after fighting the rest he sailed away and touched at Troy." [2.5.9]

Diodorus Siculus, however, has a different version of events in his 'Library of History':

"And first of all he demanded of them the girdle which he had been commanded to get; but when they would pay no heed to him, he joined battle with them. Now the general mass of the Amazons were arrayed against he main body of the followers of Heracles, but the most honoured of the women were drawn up opposite Heracles himself and put up a stubborn battle. The first, for instance, to join battle with him was Aella, who had been given this name because of her swiftness, but she found her opponent more agile than herself. The second, Philippis, encountering a mortal blow at the very first conflict, was slain. Then he joined battle with Prothoê, who, they said had been victorious seven times over the opponents whom she had challenged to battle. When s he fell, the fourth whom he overcame was known as Eriboea. She had boasted that because of the manly bravery which she displayed in contest of war she had no need of anyone to help her, but she found her claim was false when she encountered her better.

Then next, Celaeno, Eurybia, and Phoebê, who were companions of Artemis in the hunt and whose spears found their mark invariably, did not even graze the single target, but in that fight they were one and all cut down as they stood shoulder to shoulder with each other. After them Deïaneira, Asteria and Marpê, and Tecmessa Alcippê were overcome. The last-named had taken a vow to remain a maiden, and the vow she kept, but her life she could not preserve. The commander of the Amazons, Melanippê, who was also greatly admired for her manly courage, now lost her supremacy.

And Heracles, after thus killing the most renowned of the Amazons and forcing the remaining multitude to turn in flight, cut down the greater number of them, so that he race of them was utterly exterminated. As for the captives, he gave Antiopê as a gift to Theseus and set Melanippê free, accepting her girdle as her ransom." [4.16.2]

Hēraklēs then sailed to Troy--at least according to Apollodorus--he was in for another world of hurt:

"But it chanced that the city was then in distress consequently on the wrath of Apollo and Poseidon. For desiring to put the wantonness of Laomedon to the proof, Apollo and Poseidon assumed the likeness of men and undertook to fortify Pergamum for wages. But when they had fortified it, he would not pay them their wages. Therefore Apollo sent a pestilence, and Poseidon a sea monster, which, carried up by a flood, snatched away the people of the plain. But as oracles foretold deliverance from these calamities if Laomedon would expose his daughter Hesione to be devoured by the sea monster, he exposed her by fastening her to the rocks near the sea. Seeing her exposed, Hercules promised to save her on condition of receiving from Laomedon the mares which Zeus had given in compensation for the rape of Ganymede. On Laomedon's saying that he would give them, Hercules killed the monster and saved Hesione. But when Laomedon would not give the stipulated reward, Hercules put to sea after threatening to make war on Troy.
And he touched at Aenus, where he was entertained by Poltys. And as he was sailing away he shot and killed on the Aenian beach a lewd fellow, Sarpedon, son of Poseidon and brother of Poltys. And having come to Thasos and subjugated the Thracians who dwelt in the island, he gave it to the sons of Androgeus to dwell in. From Thasos he proceeded to Torone, and there, being challenged to wrestle by Polygonus and Telegonus, sons of Proteus, son of Poseidon, he killed them in the wrestling match. And having brought the belt to Mycenae he gave it to Eurystheus." [2.5.9]

This was surely not the easiest of Hēraklēs' labours, and it took  long journey and a lot of fighting and killing to get it done. Surely, it was not Hēraklēs' favourite, and it isn't mine either. No matter the reason, the Amazons were hunted down to extinction--a proud, beautiful, tribe--and mythologically speaking, they never recovered. Unfortunately, Hēraklēs' struggle is long from over, and there is much more bloodshed down the line. For now, though, Hēraklēs has another labour under his--well, Hippolyta's--belt.
Are you planning to vacation in Greece this year? Because if you are, there are now twenty-five new things to visit--and if you aren't, why now? Because I have twenty-five new reasons to! The Athens Festival institution, in collaboration with the Diazoma association, have taken the initiative of opening 25 ancient Greek theatres and archaeological sites to the public in order to promote the country’s cultural heritage. Most are ancient Hellenic theatres which are scheduled to open over the next few days in order to host various theatrical productions during the summer.

25 ancient theatres, archaeological sites to open soon in Greece
The ancient theatre of Dodoni [Credit: WikiCommons]
As part of the initiative, the Archaeological News Network reports that the twenty-five ancient Greek theatres and archaeological sites participating, will host a theatrical production of 'The Woman of Zakynthos' ('I Gynaika tis Zakynthou') by Dionysios Solomos, directed by Dimos Avdeliodis and with Olia Lazaridou in the leading role.

Dionysios Solomos (Διονύσιος Σολωμός), 8 April 1798 – 9 February 1857, was a Greek poet from Zakynthos. He is best known for writing the 'Hymn to Liberty' (Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν, Ýmnos eis tīn Eleutherían), of which the first two stanzas, set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, became the Greek national anthem in 1865.

Between 1826 and 1829, Solomos worked on the prose-like poem 'I Gynaika tis Zakynthos', a work of a satirical character, that mainly analyses the Evil. The poem is a monk's (Dionysios) narration and 'I Gynaika'--'The Woman' is the Evil's main expression. It is said that this composition was about one of Solomos' relatives and that is the reason why the poet's brother refrained Solomos' publisher from publishing the poem. The play is based on this very poem.

Even though the organizers wanted the initiative to include 30 locations, the Central Archaeological Council of Greece (KAS) deemed that five of these locations could not be used due to renovations or excavations that were underway. The original list, and the dates of the performances, is as follows; in brackets are the excluded theatres:

 (21/6 - Eretria theatre)
24/6 - BOZAR - Brussels
26/6 - Telesterion of Eleusis
(28/6 - Aigeira theatre)
30/6 - Archaelogical site of Delphi
2/7 - Orchomenos theatre - Boeotia
4/7 - Orchomenos theatre - Arcadia
7/7 - Messene Odeon
10/7 - Patras Odeon
11/7 - Oeniades theatre
14/7 - Macynia theatre
16/7 - Nikopolis Odeon
18/7 - Archaelogical site of Gitana
20/7 - Little theatre of Kassope
22/7 - Dodona theatre
24/7 - Rhodes Stadium
26/7 - Kos Odeon
29/7 - Thessaloniki Odeon
31/7 - Larissa theatre
(2/8 - Demetrias theatre)
(4/8 - Phthiotidai Thebai theatre)
6/8 - Maronia theatre
8/8 - Amphipolis theatre
(10/8 - Mieza theatre)
11/8 - Vergina Tombs
12/8 - Dion Odeon
16/8 - Castrominas theatre - Chios
19/8 - Mitilini theatre
21/8 - Hephaistia theatre - Limnos
25/8 - Gortys Odeon - Crete
27/8 - Aptera theatre – Crete

In some cases KAS will only allow a specific number of people to attend the event, so secure your tickets early. For example, in the theatre of Maronia only 350 people will be able to watch the play. In other sites, such as the theatre of Dimitradas, Athens Festival decided that the play would be performed outside the building, as an alternative solution. Stavros Benos, president of Diazoma said that the implementation of the initiative is "...a great victory. Up until now, ancient theatres remained closed unless renovation work was carried out.”

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, sorry I'm late. I had a doctor's appointment around the time Eos left the sky gates, or so it feels. Anyway: Elaion is organising another PAT ritual, and you are all cordially invited to join. The occasion? The Summer Solstice.

The Summer Solstice isn't a true Hellenic holiday; the ancient Athenians, for example, only observed it to time the new year's celebration that would follow after the next new moon. There are a few movements to celebrate it in modern Hellenismos, however, and we have come to realize that some of our members would like to observe the solstices as well.

Elaion invites you Saturday 21 June, at 10 AM EDT, to join us in honouring the Kings and Queens of the Gods, as well as those associated with the sun, light, and all things warm and growing. For those of you looking to join, you can find the information on the Elaion Facebook event page.
Another reader question today--or a few actually--on khernips! For those of you not in the know, khernips are the traditional way to cleanse yourself from miasma. It's created by dropping smoldering incense or herb leaves into (fresh and/or salt) water (preferably sacred spring water or sea water). When throwing in the lit item, one can utter ‘xerniptosai’ (pronounced 'zer-nip-TOS-aye-ee') which translates as ‘be purified’. Both hands and face are washed with khernips. The vessel holding the khernips is called a khernibeionas (Χερνῐβεῖον). For my video tutorial on how to prepare and apply khernips this, go here.

"Do you know if it's possible to make khernips without burning anything? I'm going back to a college dorm room at the end of the summer and we aren't allowed to burn anything inside. Do you have any general advice about practicing in college and how to deal with a lack of space or a roommate?"

Before I get to my (personal) answer, let me share a bit about why we apply khernips. Within Hellenic practice, miasma describes the lingering aura of uncleanliness in regards to a person or space through which contact is made with the Gods. Miasma occurs whenever the space or person comes into contact with death, sickness, birth, sex, excessive negative emotions and bodily fluids. It also comes from a lack of contact with the Hellenic Gods. Not the actual acts of dying, sex and birth cause miasma but the opening up of the way to the Underworld (with births and deaths) as well as contact with sweat, blood, semen, menstrual blood and urine pollutes us. Miasma is an incredibly complicated and involved practice and it's often misunderstood. The most important things to remember about miasma is that it holds no judgment from the Gods, and that everyone attracts miasma. It's a mortal, human, thing.

The practice of purification is called katharmos (Καθαρμός). The process of katharmos is elaborate because the process not only involves the physical but also the emotional, mental and spiritual. It historically starts with a bath (or shower, in modern times). Step two is the preparation and use of khernips. Beyond the practical, there is a large mental component to katharmos. It means leaving behind negativity, worry, pain and trouble before getting in contact with the Gods.

The greatest barrier in understanding miasma and katharmos, to me, is our modern frame of mind. On the one hand, we know too much about personal hygiene, about the human body and about science as a whole, on the other hand religion in general has become something separate from life in general. As a result, we colour ancient Hellas with our 'hygiene brush'. Secondly, not everyone has faith, our society does no longer revolve around it, and as a result, we--as modern religious people--struggle for a mindset of simple, all-encompassing, unquestionable worship. There might be a few remnants of 'Original Sin Thinking' lodged in there as well.

We all incur miasma, every single day of our lives. It has nothing to do with sin, shame or guilt. Miasma is a consequence of living. We breath, make decisions, come in contact with others, and along the way, we become too human--for lack of a better term--to petition the Gods. The divide between the purity and cleanliness of the Theoi and our human mortality and imperfection, keeps us away from Them. Miasma is not about being physically dirty, although that is a part of it, and katharmos is not about becoming physically clean, although that is a part of it as well.

Katharmos is devotional. It not only helps you get in a ritualistic mood, it prepares the room and your body for it. Even if you do not understand the use, it's a vital part of Hellenistic worship. I live a very busy, hectic, life, and most of my labour is mental. I get to work in the garden on occasion, but between work, a large number of projects, and the blog, I do most of my work with my brain and fingers, behind a computer screen. That means that I'm behind this thing at least 11 hours a day; usually longer on three or four days a week. By the time I get off of the computer at night, my back hurts, my head is swimming, and I'm exhausted. I perform my night time rituals before heading to bed. As soon as I start preparing for them, my mind clears. When I wash my hands, the tension drains out of my body, when I wash my face, the frantic pace of my brain slows down. I wash my face three to six times, depending on how stressed and distracted I am. By the time I'm done, I feel calm and relaxed, and I have room in my head and heart to address the Theoi as They should be addressed.

Note that I'm not dirty at all, so technically do not need a washing, but mentally, I'm sullen, distracted. I'm not in the right frame of mind to address the Theoi. If I were to do so without washing, I would be focused on my work, on tomorrow, on the pain in my back, on my exhaustion. After washing, I feel powerful, pious. I feel like the best version of myself, who comes to the Theoi with achievements under her belt, provided by the Theoi. I feel blessed. It's felt like this for me from the first time I prepared khernips and washed myself with the lustral water.

Khernips is important, and it's important they are properly prepared, but in the large scheme of things, I feel it's more important you actually perform the ritualistic motions without a specific part of it than skipping it altogether. So, no, you can't make khernips without dropping something smouldering in, but that doesn't mean you can't wash before ritual and improvise a little. Drop herbs into the water and wash with that, drop essential oils in it, if you don't have herbs. Find something to make the water special, and then use it to cleanse yourself.
As for dealing with dorm rooms and roomies, I've written two posts in the past: 'Baring the Aegis: Tips for practicing with limitations', and 'Baring the Aegis: Practicing under the care of naysayers', where you will find some tips for that. Enjoy college, and may Athena's wisdom guide you.
I live with an artist--and by that, I mean someone who went through art school and although it's not what pays the bills right now, because she's aiming for museums, not gallery sales, she slaves away at her art in her studio, hoping for one day--and since we got together a little over nine years ago, I have been exposed to a lot of art. Funny how the universe works out, because as a teen, I found myself desperately wanting to lean more about art. I just never found out how. As it turns out, all it takes is falling in love. At any rate, I have learned one very important thing from my artist girlfriend, namely that it doesn't matter if art is pretty or not. Art is not supposed to be pretty. Art is supposed to move you, it's supposed to reach inside your chest and twist your heart. It's supposed to enter your brain and worm itself inside of it, refusing to ever leave. I like art that is pretty, but most of my favourite pieces are things I wish I'd never have to look at again--and I still look, as often as I can stand it.

I found a collection of modern interpretations of the Gods, currently on display in Modern Eden, a San Francisco based art gallery focussing on illustrative works ranging anywhere from Realism to Surrealism. Until July fifth, art enthusiasts can take a gander at the reimagining of the ancient Hellenic Gods, if they so please.

I took a look at the works in the showing, and I dislike all of them, to be honest. I don't think they're pretty at all, and most have a level of Surrealism I dislike very much (of all the art styles that have come into fruition over the years, Surrealism is by far my least favourite). I am still sharing some of the works, however, because they moved me. they did that thing to me where they are stuck inside my head and heart, and make my stomach uncomfortable. I want to remember I saw there, and that's why you are seeing these as well. From the invitation:

"Modern Eden Gallery is pleased to announce OLYMPUS: Contemporary Portraits of the Ancient Gods, the 3rd annual portrait invitational curated by Bradley Platz. Twenty top contemporary artists have been hand selected for this exhibition. Each artist has chosen a god or goddess from among the Greek Olympians to portray. The epic nature of the subjects are demonstrated through the large scale works of art that range up to 7 feet tall. OLYMPUS will be our most ambitious portrait exhibition to date, in scale and subject matter."

EROS - Rebecca Léveillé-Guay
PERSEPHONE - Adam Caldwell
ASKLEPIOS - Carrie Ann Baade
(The Healer and the Pharmakon)
I was asked to recount the story of Eos and Astraios so it's brought to the attention of a wider audience. Of course, I can do that. No problem. Let's tart with a few basics, though: Eos and Astraios. Eos (Ηως) is the Titanes Goddess of the Dawn, and along with her brother Helios and her sister Selene, She is mainly responsible for the cycles of day and night. For all things geneological, I will always turn to Hesiod first. In his 'Theogony', he speaks of the birth of the Dawn, Sun and Moon:

"And Theia was subject in love to Hyperion and bare great Helios, and clear Selene, and Eos." [177]
Hyperion (Ὑπερίων), meaning 'The High-One', was a Titanes God born from Gaea and Ouranos. Theia and Euryphaessa (as mentioned in, for example, the Homeric Hymns) are generally regarded as the same Deathless woman: 'Theia' is the Hellenic word for 'Goddess', so it was likely 'Theia Euryphaessa' translated to 'Goddess Euryphaessa'. This means that the family tree is as follows:

     Khaos ------------ Gaea
         |         |
Ouranos --- |
                       Hyperion --- Euryphaessa
                  Eos - Helios - Selene

Astraios (Αστραιος) is the Titanes God of the stars and planets, and the art of astrology. He was the son of son of Krios and Eurybia, making His family tree as follows:

                                                 Khaos ---------- Gaea
    |         |       |
   Ouranos --- | --- Pontus
                       Krios --- Eurybia

Together, Eos and Astraios are the parents of the seasonal Winds and the Stars. Hesiod, in his 'Theogony' reveals this birth. There is one cardinal direction missing: East, represented by Euros (Ευρος). This is because the ancient Hellenes at the time of Hesiod were aware of only three seasons: Spring, Summer and Winter, and only these had deities presiding over them--in this case Zephyros, Notos and Boreas, respectively.

"And Eos bare to Astraeus [Astraios] the strong-hearted winds, brightening Zephyrus, and Boreas,
headlong in his course, and Notus, -- a goddess mating in love with a god. And after these Erigenia bare the star Heosphorus (Dawn-bringer), and the gleaming Astra (Stars) with which Heaven (Ouranos) is crowned." [ll. 378-382]
As with many of the Titans, their love story is simply assumed as truth; connections made to form the universe. They made up important parts of it, however, and had strong children, who--in turn--fathered and birthed strong children as well.
It's time for another constellation: Piscis Austrinus: the great (or 'Southern') fish. It's also known as Piscis Australis, and prior to the 20th century, it was known as Piscis Notius. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. The stars of the modern constellation Grus once formed the 'tail' of Piscis Austrinus.

In Hellenic mythology, this constellation is known as the Great Fish and it is portrayed as swallowing the water being poured out by Aquarius, the water carrier. The two fish of the constellation Pisces are said to be the offspring of the Great Fish. From Hyginus' 'Astronomica' comes the follow reason for his placement in the sky:

This is the Fish that is called Southern. He seems to take water in his mouth from the sign of Aquarius. Once, when Isis was in labor, he is thought to have saved her, and as a reward for this kindness she placed the fish and its young, about whom we have spoken before, among the stars. As a result the Syrians generally do not eat fish, and worship their gilded likenesses as household gods. Ctesias, too, writes about this. [II.41]

Aratos, too, confirms the position of the Great Fish in his 'Phaenomena'. Amongst other mentions, he writes:

"Below Aegoceros before the blasts of the South Wind swims a Fish, facing Cetus, alone and part from the former Fishes; and him men call the Southern Fish. Other stars, sparsely set beneath Hydrochoüs [Aquarius], hang on high between Cetus in the heavens and the Fish, dim and nameless, and near them on the right hand of bright Hydrochoüs, like some sprinked drops of water lightly shed on this side and on that, other stars wheel bright-eyed though weak." [385 - 389]

Needless to say, this is a minor constellation. It is visible at latitudes between +55° and −90°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of October.
One of those days, people... one of those days... I'm going to have to leave you with a bit of ancient text, and I want to broaden the horizon a little today by giving you one of the spells/prayers from the Papyri Graecae Magicae, also known as the 'Greek Magical Papyri'. They are a body of papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, which each contain a number of magical spells, formulae, hymns and rituals. The materials in the papyri date from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The manuscripts came to light through the antiquities trade, from the 18th century onwards. One of the best known of these texts is the so-called Mithras Liturgy.

Today, I will quote to you from the first book of spells and invocations. The hymn below was used when obtaining herbs. The herbalist would first purify his own body, then sprinkles with natron and fumigates the herb with resin from a pine tree after carrying it around the location three times. Then, after burning Kyphi and pouring a libation of milk as he prays, he would pull up the plant while invoking by name the daimon to whom the herb is being dedicated and calling upon him to be more effective for the use for which it is being acquired. The invocation for him, which the herbalist would speak over any herb at the moment of picking would go as follows:

"You were sown by Kronos, you were conceived by Hera, you were maintained by Ammon, you were given birth by Isis, you were nourished by Zeus the God of Rain, you were given growth by Helios and Drosos. You are the Dew of all the Gods, you are the Heart of Hermes, you are the Seed of the Primordial Gods, you are the Eye of Helios, you are the Light of Selene, you are the Zeal of Osiris, you are the Beauty and Glory of Ouranos, you are the Soul of Osiris' Daimon which revels in Every Place, you are the Spirit of Ammon. As you have exalted Osiris, so exalt yourself and rise just as Helios rises each day. Your size is equal to the Zenith of Helios, your Roots come from the Depths, but your Powers are in the Heart of Hermes, your Fibers are the Bones of Mnevis, and your Flowers are the Eye of Horus, your Seed is Pan's Seed. I am washing you in Resin as I also wash the Gods [i.e., the cult statues] even as I do this for my own Health. You also be cleaned by Prayer and give us Power as Ares and Athena do. I am Hermes! I am acquiring you with Good Fortune and Good Daimon both at a Propitious Hour and on a Propitious Day that is effective for all things." [I-XXV]
The Archaeology News Network reports that two masterpieces of early Cycladic art were returned to Greece from Germany on Friday--including one of the largest surviving marble Cycladic idols and a rare example of the Cycladic "frying-pan" vessels made of stone. They had been on exhibit in Germany for thirty-eight years and only in the last three years did negotiations for their return begin between Greek and German authorities, after the National Archaeological Museum refused to collaborate in an exhibition due to their presence there.

The Cycladic 'frying-pan' and marble figurine returned to Greece from the
State Museum of Baden in Karlsruhe [Credit: To Vima]

Cycladic art encompasses the visual art of the ancient Cycladic civilization, which flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea from 3300 - 2000 BCE. Along with the Minoans and Mycenaeans, the Cycladic people are counted among the three major Aegean cultures. Cycladic art therefore comprises one of the three main branches of Aegean art.

Both artefacts date back to the early Cycladic period in the 3rd millennium B.C. and belong to an era that deeply influenced the 20th century but was also ruthlessly looted by the illegal antiquities trade, with smugglers seeking profits at the same time as museums and private collectors in Europe and America sought to enrich their collections.

The two artefacts returned on Friday were part of this underground trade, bought in 1975 by the Baden state museum in Baden in Karlsruhe, Germany. Their return was officially sealed on Friday at an event held at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, in the gallery where they will be on display, which was attended by Culture and Sports Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos, culture ministry officials, representatives of the German government, and the German museum returning the artefacts, as well as reporters.

In statements, Panagiotopoulos said the return of the two ancient artefacts was a "victory of legality and a hopeful European future," as well as a defeat for the illegal antiquities trade. He then signed a cooperation agreement between the culture ministry and the Baden state museum, announcing the start of period of close cooperation involving chiefly exhibitions but also exchanges of expert scientific staff and know-how. He added:

"The traditionally close friendship of the two peoples has been tested in recent years by the economic crisis and in many cases become trapped in stereotypes or 'shadows' cast by the economic crisis. Through today's event we send a message of friendship, harmonious cooperation and a common course for the two people."

Because of their clandestine origins, much valuable information about these artefacts was lost but they are believed to have originated on the islands of either Naxos, Keros or Amorgos, where similar finds have been uncovered. The marble idol depicts a standing female form with folded arms, while its large size (0.89 m) indicates that it may have been an object of worship. There are also traces of colour around the hair and eyes. The "frying pan" is richly carved and one of the few examples of this form of art that is not ceramic but made of stone, while it is the only known example made of chlorite schist stone.
So, we all know we have Atlantis as a show to look forward to--filming has started for season two, although there is still no air-date--but we can always use more TV shows set in ancient Hellas! So, here is the thing:

This is SAG Award Nominee Joe Prospero, Creative Director, of the (hopefully soon to be created) 'Gods and Mortals', a 'fantasy-drama series, based on the work of Homer, Virgil, Euripides and other great Classical writers'. I'm going to let Prospero do the rest of the talking, because he has done a lot of talking on the kickstarter for this awesome project.

"Of Gods and Mortals will be a multi-narrative series that brings together the stories of some of Ancient Greece's most well known figures in a character driven series that steers away from CGI and special effects in order to bring to life the real emotional, political, sexual and historical context of these wonderful, timeless tales.

We want to bring an aesthetic sense of grandeur, suitable to the drama of the setting, whilst exploring the psychology behind the mythology - instead of opting for endless battle sequences and gratuitous computer generated monsters!

It is for this reason we have chosen episodic instalments as the means to tell this story. The texts we are working with span decades and there are innumerable well drawn characters, plots and sub-plots to work with, so as a viable series Of Gods and Mortals has a lot of potential and we have already figured out a story arch for a complete ten episode first series."

The pilot, 'The Apple of Discord' will set the premise for the series as a whole, and is described as follows:

"The Gods gather to toast the birth of baby Achilles, but one Goddess is determined to disturb the revelry. A squabble breaks out among three of the Goddesses - Hera, Aphrodite and Athena; a squabble ultimately resolved by the judgment of the young Prince Paris of Troy. His decision, to choose love over wisdom and power, sets into motion a decades long war on Earth and in the Heavens and changes the course of the lives Of Gods and Mortals throughout all of Greece."

If you're the type who is unphased by spoilers, here is a bit of the read-through for the pilot:

There are six days left to get up to the £7.000,- required to film the independent pilot, and the creators of Tempest Productions are still a little under £6.000,- short. They could really use your help, so if you have a little bit of money to spare to fund something very keen to your interests: this is it! Backers get download's, extra's (bloopers!), posters, and much more! The creators have definitely tried to make it worth your buck.

Are you excited? Are you going to donate? Because I am excited!
'The Trojan Women' (Τρῳάδες, Trōiades) is a tragedy by the Hellenic playwright Euripides. It was produced in 415 BC during the Peloponnesian War, and is often considered a commentary on the capture of the Aegean island of Melos and the subsequent slaughter and subjugation of its populace by the Athenians earlier that year.

The play was the third tragedy of a trilogy dealing with the Trojan War. The first tragedy, 'Alexandros', was about the recognition of the Trojan prince Paris who had been abandoned in infancy by his parents and rediscovered in adulthood. The second tragedy, 'Palamedes', dealt with Hellenic mistreatment of their fellow Hellene Palamedes. This trilogy was presented at the Greater Dionysia along with the comedic satyr play 'Sisyphos'.

'The Trojan Women' is the story of Hecuba, the once-great queen of Troy and her daughters Cassandra and Andromache, and to a lesser extent Helen, who 'caused' this war. It's a story of slaughter, loss, and slavery, and the tale is not a happy one. In 1971, a movie was made of the film staring Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave, and directed by Michael Cacoyannis. Although technology at the time lacked too much to include the Gods, very little else was changed about the play, and that makes it the most accurate portrayal of the play to date.

In the film, Hecuba (Katharine Hepburn), Queen of the Trojans and mother of Hector, one of Troy's most fearsome warriors, looks upon the remains of her kingdom; Andromache (Vanessa Redgrave), widow of the slain Hector and mother of his son Astyanax, must raise her son in the war's aftermath; Cassandra (Geneviève Bujold), Hecuba's daughter who has been driven insane by the ravages of war, waits to see if King Agamemnon will drive her into concubinage; Helen of Troy (Irene Papas), waits to see if she will live. But the most awful truth is unknown to them until Talthybius (Brian Blessed), the messenger of the Greek king, comes to the ruined city and tells them that King Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus have decreed that Hector's son Astyanax must die — the last of the male royalty of Troy must be executed to ensure the extinction of the line.

The movie is on Youtube, and if you feel like sitting down for a sad but beautiful tale, it's a must-watch. This version is spoken in English, but has Hellenic subtitles, for those of you so inclined. Enjoy!

I'm feeling very romantic today. I think it's because my girl is leaving for a two week trip on Monday and I already miss her. In nine and a half years, it's the longest we will have been separated. When I found the video below yesterday, I knew I was sharing it with you today. It's a compilation of images of a recent Hellenic wedding, and yes, it's giving me a lot of warm fuzzies. It was put online by Labrys.

I have described the ancient Hellenic idea of marriage before: marriage in ancient Hellas was a family affair. The father of the son--who was often in his thirties by the time he got married--opened negotiations with the family of a bride in her teens. The two families came to an agreement about dowry, a contract was signed by the father of the groom and the father of the bride in front of witnesses, and the groom met his new wife--often for the first time--before taking her to bed.

A wedding in ancient Hellas--and Athens, specifically--was dedicated to a large number of deities. Zeus Teleios, Hera Teleia, Aphrodite and Artemis would have received sacrifice the night before the wedding. Artemis was offered the girl's toys and playthings, so as to signal the end of her childhood. Hestia was honoured once the husband's new wife joined the household.

For these two young lovebirds, their marriage was obviously entirely voluntary, and I wish them the best together. As for me, I'll have my sweetheart back soon enough once she leaves, and soon, we'll have our wedding ceremony as well.
Our cause for Skirophorion 2014 is set and decided for: Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (MSAVLC) will be the recipient of our donations!

Medical and Scientific Aid for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is a registered charity that was originally established in 1965. Since then it has been providing aid to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in South-East Asia. The aim of the charity is to promote good health and relieve sickness, by providing aid, supplies and equipment to health-related organisations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Their support meets a wide range of needs but focuses particularly on children, and those whose lives have been blighted by poverty or the aftermath of war and strife. Their support includes:
  • Provision of equipment and treatment of congenital abnormalities due to toxic chemicals (mainly Agent Orange)
  • Provision of medical equipment to hospitals and orphanages
  • Medical and financial support for paraplegics and quadriplegics
  • First aid and healthcare for orphanage children
  • Provision of audiology and ear care equipment and training
  • Training courses for traditional midwives
  • Building wells and providing clean water systems
  • Support for vulnerable, elderly and disabled people
The charity is run exclusively by volunteers. Their overheads are minimal; every possible penny goes to where it is needed. By concentrating on primary health and responding to specific requests it is surprising what even modest funding can achieve.

You can now donate to Pandora's Kharis at baring.the.aegis@gmail.com or by clicking the 'donate' button to the side of the Pandora's Kharis blog. The needs are enormous and their response limited only by their bank balance, so please give generously! Thank you in advance. The deadline to donate is 29 June, 2014.
So, it may be slightly beyond the timeline limits of this blog, but I had to share this find with you guys, just because it made me very happy to know that very ancient inhabitants of modern Greece were equally fond of drawing lewd pictures as teenagers are today. Progress, people, or lack of same. 

Erotic rock-carvings dating to the 6th or 5th centuries BC found on a boulder
on the Greek island of Astypalea [Credit: Ethnos]

In short, the Archaeology News Network reports that ancient erotic inscriptions dating back to the early 6th and the late 5th centuries BC were recently discovered on the island of Astypalea. The Secretary General of the Archaeological Society, Vasilios Petrakos, made extensive reference to two erotic inscriptions that were discovered and which depict two phalluses from the right angle.

Prior to this find, spirals, shapes of ships, tools in triangular shapes were already found and dated back to the Neolithic inhabitants of Astypalea. According to the article, one of the first findings of the Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, Andreas Vlachopoulos, were rock carvings located in Vathi at the Pirgos Peninsula and date back to 4th-3rd millennium BC. These more recent carvings give a glimpse into the 'private life' of the ancient inhabitants of the area.

Astypalea (Αστυπάλαια) is an island located 117 seamiles from Athens, and 23 seamiles from Kos. It has around 1300 inhabitants and is 18 kilometres (11 miles) long, and 13 kilometres (8 miles) wide at the most. In total, it covers an area of 97 km2. The island was named after Astypalaea, the daughter of Phoenix (son of Agenor) and Perimede, and was the sister of Europa. She was a lover of Poseidon who seduced her, and had two sons by him: Ancaeus, King of Samos, and Eurypylos, King of Kos.
Reader question time! I had answered the question below already in two Pagan Blog Project posts, but I thought I'd combine them into a handy reply for you all.

"Hello! Just out of curiosity, how do people choose one God to worship and why? I am new to Hellenism and I am really wanting to learn more! Thanks in advance :) "

Patronage is a pretty big thing in Paganism these days. I frequently a few Neo-Pagan places, and one of the most asked newbie questions is: ‘How do I find out who my patron is?”, or a variation thereof. There is nothing wrong with this; modern patronage is a thing, and I have experienced it myself. The interesting change in the last few years seems to be that patronage used to be the exception, now it is the rule. Any person new to Paganism feels they are doing something wrong if there isn’t a God or Goddess tapping them on the shoulder right away.

Modern patronage, in this context, is the support or encouragement of a ‘patron’, where the patron or ‘patroness’ (and we will get to that) is a divine being. In these relationships, the active party is often the deity in question, who claims the passive human. Some will describe a sense of ‘being owned’ by their patron. The human becomes a conduit for the work and will of the patron in question, and is required to spend large portions of their lives in active service to that deity.

Patronage is not part of Hellenismos, and it was not part of ancient Hellenic life. Hellenism has its own beautiful system of kharis, and because of that, there is no need to bring in a modern concept like patrons. When we, in Hellenismos, petition the Gods for aid, we always do so with an offering. This offering can be incense, a libation, a food offering or anything else. It must be something tangible. Good thoughts and intentions don’t count. This offering is given freely, joyfully, with pleasure, and out of respect and love for the Gods. We ask what we feel we need—sometimes that’s a new job, sometimes just a sentiment like honor and prosperity to the household—and never expect to be granted this request. Petitions aren’t bribery. We give to the Gods and should They feel inclined to grand us our request, we thank Them by offering to Them again, to which the Gods might respond, to which we will sacrifice, and so on. This circular practice of voluntary giving is called kharis, and through it, we built relationships with all Theoi.

In ancient Hellas, there were priests; most of them were chosen through hereditary lines and often served short terms in the temple of a deity their family was connected to, either through the family line or by choice. There were also priests who chose to come into the service of a Theos or Theia; they were voluntary priests and they devoted themselves to the God(s) they were drawn to or especially thankful to. Neither type of priest would have worshipped only the deity they were in service to, and all would have attended state festivals, and most likely had a household practice that included a large number of deities. Note that the active party in these relationships is the human, not the deity in question.

There are a few (mythical) exceptions to this rule that could be seen as patronage: Athena was a guide and aid for Odysseus and his son, and many Gods were (temporary) aids of Hēraklēs. These were heroes, chosen by the Theoi to suffer a specific fate and to rise above it as heroes. If you are Hellenistic and you feel you are being divinely aided to make it through such a path then by all means, say you have a patron. If not, it feels like hubris to me to make that claim. Of course, there is a degree of personal viewpoint here (i.e. we can never judge the lives of others; what feels like an epic quest of hardship to you, may seem like a breeze to me and the other way around), so for safety’s sake, I stick with my viewpoint that patronage has no place in Hellenism, because as much as our lives may feel like an epic journey, we are not all Odysseus.

'Patronage' in the context of ancient Hellas seems to focus on the non-lineal bond between two people—a patron who took care of a client or slave in a material, financial, or emotional way. 'Patron' to mean the support, encouragement, or privilege that a deity bestows upon those practicing a profession or living in a city is a Christian term, which refers to patron saints. Patron saints are regarded as the tutelary spirits or heavenly advocates of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Taking this description would give you, for example, Athena as the patron of Athens—but outside of Christianity, the proper term is 'tutelage'; a tutelary deity.

A tutelary, or tutelar, deity is ‘a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture or occupation’. Both tutelary and tutelar can be used as either a noun or an adjective. As such, Athena is the tutelary Goddess of Athens, or the tutelar of Athens—but because we are so used to ‘patron(ess)’, ‘tutelar’ does not have quite the same ring to it.
The easiest way to find out the tutelary domains of a deity is to look up where they were worshipped and what they were associated with; this is why studying epithets is so important. An epithet is an attachment to the name of a God or Goddess, used to indicate either a specific domain of the Deity, a specific origin myth or region from which the Deity came, or an entirely different entity, through either domain or origin. As such, if we look at Apollon, we get—amongst many others—the following:
  • Apollon Thearios (Απολλων Θεαριος) ‘Of the Oracle’
  • Apollon Lykios (Απολλων Λυκιος) ‘Of the Wolves’
  • Apollon Dêlios (Απολλων Δηλιος) ‘Of Delos’
These three alone make Apollon a tutelar (or, in the Christian terminology, a patron) of oracles, wolves and of the island Delos in the Aegean sea. As such, people who identified with these domains would feel drawn to a certain deity; shepherds might pray to Apollon to keep the wolves away from their herd. Citizens of Delos would more than others keep Apollon in their personal prayers and festival cycle because Apollon personally watched over their lands. Those who came to visit an oracle of Apollon (like in Delphi), would pray to Apollon Thearios to send them a message; those who had received an oracle of Apollon might keep Him in their personal prayers, as a continued form of thanks giving for His aid.

There is a danger in defining Deities by their tutelary domains, mostly because many get left out for simplicity’s sake. It’s far easier to see Apollon as solely the tutelar of arts and oracles, but His reach extends way beyond that. He is a healer, an averter of evil, a hunter, the possessor of beautiful hair, and many, many other thing. Just like all other Theoi, Apollon’s reach is not limited to the domains prescribed to Him by his epithets; these are just the domains he is best known for.

The ancient Hellenes called on those deities they had the most kharis with for aid; Poseidon might not be known as a healer, but with enough kharis, He might still heal you—either by Himself, or with the aid of one of the Theoi known for Their healing abilities. Poseidon, under the title ‘Asphalios’ (Ασφαλιος), was worshipped in several towns of ancient Hellas as the God who grants safety to ports and to navigation in general. The people in these towns would have built kharis with Poseidon through His epithet, and might also come to Him for aid in other domains—even if Poseidon was not known to have tutelage over these domains.

I need to make one more remark before I end this post: could we please stop using the word ‘matron’ when the female version of the modern concept ‘patron’ is meant…? A matron is a married woman usually marked by dignified maturity (an older woman) or an established social distinction; a wife or widow, especially one who has borne children; a woman who has charge of the domestic affairs of a hospital, prison, orphanage, private school, or other institution; a woman serving as a guard, warden, or attendant for women or girls, as in a prison; the chief officer in a women’s organization; or a female animal kept for breeding. A patroness is the Christian or non-religious term for is a female being who supports, protects, or champions someone or something; a female patron. If you have to make use of the term ‘patron’, and want to refer to a female deity, please don’t call her a ‘matron’? Pretty please?

Before I ditch the soapbox: the tutelage of a deity is important to be aware of, but easy to get hung up on. The difference with the modern concept of personal patronage is also fairly large; personal patronage describes the personal bond of a person to a deity—something very rare indeed in ancient Hellas, and hardly applicable outside of mythology—while tutelage, or ‘professional patronage’, describes the domains over which a deity holds sway, as defined by spheres of influence and/or places of worship, and those who worship Him or Her in that aspect.
I am not sure if you all know this about me, but I am a total geek. I play tabletop roleplaying games, I studied IT, I can take apart and put back together a computer, and yes, when I hear researchers are going to use an exosuit to search the wreck of the 2000 year old shipwreck which yielded the Antikythera mechanism, I get very, very, excited.

The Antikythera wreck is a shipwreck from the 2nd quarter of the 1st century BC. It was discovered by sponge divers off Point Glyphadia on the Hellenic island of Antikythera in 1900. The wreck manifested numerous statues, coins and other artefacts dating back to the 4th century BC, as well as the severely corroded remnants of a device that is called the world's oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism.

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analog computer designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. The computer's construction has been attributed to the Hellenes and was dated to the early 1st century BC. Technological artefacts approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks began to be built in Western Europe.

The mechanism was housed in a wooden box and is made up of bronze gears (that we know of). The mechanism's remains were found as eighty-two separate fragments of which only seven contain any gears or significant inscriptions. Today, the fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

It was reported that--using the latest advances in technology and robotics--researchers will now strive to extract more secrets from the ancient shipwreck, and their main tool will be a robotic 'exoskeleton' dubbed "Exosuit". The Archaeology News Network reports that:

"...the cutting-edge diving suit, essentially still in an experimental stage, will be worn by U.S. divers who will be able to remain deep underwater for extended periods of time, enabling them to conduct excavations and handle the fragile ancient objects with due care. The 1.5-million-dollar Exosuit was made by the Canadian robotics firm Nuytco Research and comes equipped with a number of features that will allow divers to work at the 120-metre depths for an essentially unlimited period of time, without being at risk from decompression sickness."

Scientists are optimistic that the site will yield a second device like the Antikythera Mechanism, as a preliminary survey conducted last year showed a wealth of artefacts scattered over the crash site, as well as a second unknown shipwreck next to the one already found.

The first real test of the suit will take place in July, during underwater surveys off the northeast coast of the United States and the Antikythera mission will take place immediately afterward. It will also be worn by U.S. divers during the Antikythera mission.
In the category, 'questions I got ages ago and am only now getting to', I want to talk about the Goddess Nyx today. I have received the following reader question:

"Do you know anything about worshiping Nyx in the modern world?"

Nyx (Νυξ) is the deep Night, born from Khaos (Χαος) and the sister-wife of Aither (Αιθηρ, 'Light'). In Hellenic mythology, Nyx draws a veil of darkness between the shining atmosphere of the aither and the lower air of earth (aer) at set times in the day, bringing night to man. In the morning, Her daughter Hêmera (Ἡμερα, 'Day') removes this veil, and exposes the Earth once more to Light. As Hesiod writes in the Theogony:

"[At the ends of the earth, where lie the roots of earth, sea, Tartaros :] There stands the awful home of murky Nyx wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it [Atlas] the son of Iapetos stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands, where Nyx and Hemera draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze: and while the one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door. And the house never holds them both within; but always one is without the house passing over the earth, while the other stays at home and waits until the time for her journeying come; and the one holds all-seeing light (phaos) for them on earth." [744]
Nyx and Hêmera continually work to both create and dissolve darkness on Earth; Selene (the Goddess of the Moon) moves with Nyx, and Helios (God of the Sun) with Hêmera, as heralded by Eos. In this recap, it is quite obvious we are yet missing a speciffic time of the day: dusk, or the evening. This was in the domain of the Nymphs, in this case the Hesperides (Ἑσπεριδες), who--depending of source--are either the daughters of Nyx or Atlas. Diodorus Siculus, in the 1st Century BC., wrote in his 'Library of History': 

"Now Hesperos (Evening) begat a daughter named Hesperis (Evening), who he gave in marriage to his brother [Atlas] and after whom the land was given the name Hesperitis; and Atlas begat by her seven daughters, who were named after their father Atlantides, and after their mother Hesperides." [4. 26. 2]
Yet, older sources agree that the Hesperides (amongst others like Hypnos and Tartaros) were born from Nyx; Hesiod, for example:
"And Nyx (Night) bare hateful Moros (Doom) and black Ker (Violent Death) and Thanatos (Death), and she bare Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of Oneiroi (Dreams). And again the goddess murky Nyx, though she lay with none, bare Momos (Blame) and painful Oizys (Misery), and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Okeanos."
In ancient Hellas, Nyx was only rarely the focus of cult worship. Pausanias mentions She had an oracle on the acropolis at Megara, but that is about it. More often, Nyx was worshipped in other major cults, alongside the main deity: there was a statue called 'Nyx' in the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Spartans had a cult of Sleep and Death, conceived of as twins, with Nyx being worshipped as Their mother, etc.
As for modern worship; I have talked before of how I feel all worship is pretty much the same in Hellenismos. The major difference between reconstructive religions and modern ones--especially Pagan ones--is the way worship is conducted. Individual worship of Gods as well as patronage is perfectly acceptable in modern religions, but in Recon religions and the ancient Traditions they were based upon, worship tends to be of the pantheon, not so much the one God or Goddess. What goes for one Olympic God, tends to go for the others as well.
There are five steps to proper, Hellenistic, ritual: procession, purification, prayers and hymns, sacrifice/offerings, prayers of supplication and thanks, usually followed by a feast and/or theatre and sporting events. We can apply this to modern worship quite easily: procession (no matter how short), purification with lustral water (named khernips), a hymn, song or modern poem which praises and draws the Theos in question, a sacrifice of some kind--be it incenses, (mixed) wine, meat or anything else--along with barley seeds tossed on the altar or into the altar fire, prayers or words of thanks, and--in communal rituals--plays, games, or (sports)-competitions. Within communal celebrations, the sacrifice can be some of the (raw) ingredients used to prepare the communal meal that will follow.
Hellenismos is not glamorous; in general, you do the same thing over and over again with minor variations. That is what I love about it. It's simple, clear, and repetitive. As for Nyx, in the Orphic Hymn to Her, torches are prescribed as an offering, and Gods of the night tended to be worshipped at that time as well. Not always, naturally, but the dark night is Her domain. Bring her sacrifices of wine and try to include Her children and husband in your worship as well. Good luck!