On a day pretty close to Valentine's day us Hellenists honour a beautiful festival of love and social stability: the Theogamia, also known as the Gamelia. This festival celebrates the anniversary of the marriage (gamos, γάμος) of Zeus Teleios (Τελειος, Of the Marriage Rites) and Hera Teleia (Τέλεια, same). Zeus Teleios and Hera Teleia were considered the patron Theoi of marriage, although we are unsure if They were given sacrifice to when a man and women wed in ancient Hellas. To celebrate this divine marriage and ask for blessings upon the romantic ties we may have in life, Elaion is organising another PAT ritual on Saturday 6 February. The time is set for 10 AM EST. Will you join us?

We know very little about the actual Theogamia festival. In ancient sources it's sometimes called 'hieros gamos', the sacred marriage, and was referred to as a domestic festival. A day to spend at home, with your wedded partner. Hera Teleia was the primary deity of the festival, with Zeus Teleios being of secondary importance. It was celebrated for sure in Athens, and most likely also in city-states around Athens. It included a shared dinner, and presumably lovemaking, between husband and wife. Unmarried men were most likely free of religious obligations, and were free to dine out.

There seems to be a suggestion that the gamos of Zeus and Hera was enacted as part of the rituals of a hieros gamos festival, but there is no concrete evidence for this. The closest we get to a Hellenic 'Great Rite' is a ritual performed near Knossos in Krete, but the details are so very vague that we can't be sure about anything.

On the Erkhian calendar, Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus, and Poseidon are all sacrificed to at the same location which appears to be a temple of Hera on this day. Also, as Kourotrophos Herself was often honored first with other deities and especially on this occasion, it seems to make sense that it was one ritual with four sacrifices as listed in the calendar. The ritual we have created combines them both. 

It doesn't take much imagination to fill in how to best celebrate this festival. If you are married or have a partner, have a nice dinner together, have some romance, spent the night together and bond. Think about ways in which you will help, honor and love your partner in the year to come. And, of course, join our ritual! I want to leave you with a quote from the Ilias that has nothing to do with the Theogamia itself but does describe the eternal love between Zeus and Hera so very beautifully.
“Zeus, the Cloud-Driver, saw her, and instantly his sharp mind was overwhelmed by longing, as in the days when they first found love, sleeping together without their dear parents’ knowledge. [...] ‘Hera, [...] let us taste the joys of love; for never has such desire for goddess or mortal woman so gripped and overwhelmed my heart, not even when I was seized by love for Ixion’s wife, who gave birth to Peirithous the gods’ rival in wisdom; or for Acrisius’ daughter, slim-ankled Danaë, who bore Perseus, greatest of warriors; or for the far-famed daughter of Phoenix, who gave me Minos and godlike Rhadamanthus; or for Semele mother of Dionysus, who brings men joy; or for Alcmene at Thebes, whose son was lion-hearted Heracles; or for Demeter of the lovely tresses; or for glorious Leto; or even for you yourself, as this love and sweet desire for you grips me now.’” (Iliad XIV)
The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here. Enjoy the Theogamia, everyone!
I am very happy to share with you Labrys' ritual for the Lênaia. The Labrys Religious Community aims to preserve, promote and practice the Hellenic polytheistic religious tradition through public rituals, lectures, publications, theatrical and musical events, and other forms of action. Their vision is to restore the Hellenic religious tradition and by extension the Hellenic Kosmotheasis and lifestyle to its rightful place, as a respected, acknowledged and fully functional spiritual path.

They have a large variety of rituals and festivals documented, including their 2016 Lênaia festival in honour of Dionysos. As it is not an official Labrys video, please click on the image below to get taken to the video. Enjoy!

Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, France. Would you be surprised if I told you Nice, France, started out an Hellenic settlement? Back then, however, it was called Nikaia. Today, more on Nikaia and it's mother city Massalia.

[click to enlarge, Nikaia (what is now Nice) it a touch to the east of Massalia (modern Marseille)]

Around 300 BC, as the different tribes that made up ancient Hellas became more unified and advanced, they began to expand. Because of the geography of the land (with so many peninsulas and coastal areas) it made sense that the ancient Hellenes would always be looking seaward. Partly due to population pressures on the main land and partly due to political interests, the ancient hellenes started to populate islands and create colonies as far west as Southern Italy and Sicely (not on the map above) and as far North and East as the Black Sea. Eventually there were over 1,000 communities over this great expanse of land, united by sea travel.

Massaliatraces its roots back to the Phokaians, from the coast of Asia Minor. Around 600 adult settlers established Massalia around 600 BC. It grew rapidly and soon covered fifty hectares. War in other areas of the ancient Hellenic territories brought more people and more people meant more trade. Massalia managed to stay out of many wars and instead focussed on growing that trade.

Massalia became one of the main points of contact with the Celtic peoples who inhabited western Europe. A very large portion of the Hellenic and Etruscan pottery and other goods arrived in Massalia and travelled on on land from there. It became such a huge and wealthy trading hub (moslty because of the tin and pottery trade) that Massalia endowed a treasury at Delphi.

A late roman writer, Justin, wrote the following passage based on older Roman writings by Pompeius Trogus, in his now lost 'Philippic Histories':

"From the people of Massilia, therefore, the Gauls learned a more civilized way of life, their former barbarity being laid aside or softened; and by them they were taught to cultivate their lands and to enclose their towns with walls. 2 Then too, they grew accustomed to live according to laws, and not by violence; then they learned to prune the vine and plant the olive; and such a radiance was shed over both men and things, that it was not Greece which seemed to have immigrated into Gaul, but Gaul that seemed to have been transplanted into Greece." [43.4]

The claim might be somewhat boisterous, but at its core, it's most likely quite true. Massalia was a major player until about 500 BC. Then, political tension grew betweent he Hellenes and the Etruscans, which led to a dicline in trade. The Etruscans took their trade directly to the Celtic lands over the eastern Alps and other traders begun to use the cities on the coast of Spain as a port to those territories. Traderoutes shifted away from Massalia, even though Massalain residents tried to boost them by offering a number of new ports along the coast, including Nikaia.

Around 350 BC, the Hellenes of  Massalia founded a permanent settlement and called it Nikaia (Νικαία), after Nike, the Goddess of victory, in honour of a victory over the neighbouring Ligurians. At this time Nikaia was a small stronghold which protected her port through her natural defences--the Colline du Château (the 'castle hill'). Only a few hundred people lived there, mainly merchants. They were under the authority of magistrates chosen by Marseille. The city soon became one of the busiest trading ports on the Ligurian coast, but in the end it was not enough to save the trade.

All around Massalia and Nikaia, the Roman empire rose up. This provided new trade possibilities and the cities flourished once more. During Julius Caesar's war against Pompey and most of the Senate, Massalia allied itself with the rightful government; closing its gates to Caesar on his way to Spain in April of 49 BC, the city was besieged. Despite reinforcement by L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, Massalia's fleet was defeated and the city fell by September. It maintained nominal autonomy but lost its trading empire and was largely brought under Roman dominion.

Massalia adapted well to its new status under Rome; most of the archaeological remnants of the original Hellenic settlement were replaced by later Roman additions. But Massalia and Nikaia started of Hellenic and stayed that way for a very, very long time.
I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"Do you know of any invocations or hymns to Amphitrite?"

No, sorry. As far as I am aware there have either been none made or none have survived. The one quote I like to use when I honour Her is a bit younger, from the 4th century AD. It was written down by Quintus Smyrnaeus, in his 'Fall of Troy':

'A ruining storm maddens along the wide gulfs of the deep, and moans Amphitrite with her anguished waves which sweep from every hand, uptowering like precipiced mountains, while the bitter squall, ceaselessly veering, shrieks across the sea.' [8.62]

This could be adapted to:

'A ruining storm maddens along the wide gulfs of the deep, and [thus] moans Amphitrite with her anguished waves which sweep from every hand, uptowering like precipiced mountains, while the bitter squall, ceaselessly veering, shrieks across the sea. Blessed Goddess Amphitrite...'
"As someone who lives in a very large apartment complex that can't very well go outside and dig a pit in the ground without causing a stir with their neighbours and landlord, what is the best way to properly sacrifice to cthonic deities?"
A pot. I'm serious. Most likely your best bet except for going out and practicing 'in the wild' is to use a standard pot you would put a garden plant in. One you'd put on your balcony, for example. Fill it with soil and maybe some weeds that will survive being dug up every once in a while and getting doused in wine. Is it ideal? Is it exactly Recon? No, but what matters is that you get to dig a (tiny) hole, that you can bury the sacrifice. That it's covered up and gone. Perhaps, once a month (at the Deipnon, for example), smuggle the dirt out somehow and fill the pot anew to start the month cleansed and renewed. That would be my advice.
"I was going through and reading some of your answers to other's questions, and you mentioned that people who want to practice hellenismos need to understand that the theoi come as a one package deal. As a beginner, is it acceptable to start slow and work on introducing yourself to the gods sort of one at a time so as not to get particularly overwhelmed? or is it more like a jump in head first and good luck sort of deal?"
It's the mindset that matters, really. How you go about it is up to you. Say I am just starting out and I want to make a ritual that honours Apollon. What I am trying to convey to people is that when you sit down and you have written down to libate to Apollon and have picked out a hymn to Him, you then think 'how else can I honour Apollon' and make the mental jump to: 'I should include hymns to the Gods who matter most to Him!'. And you'd include a hymn and libation to His sister Artemis, and His mother Leto, and His father Zeus. And depending on the festival, you might include a sacrifice to one or more of His lovers or another God that works within the same domain as the side of Apollon you wish to honour. Asklēpiós, for example, for healing. Or Dionysos in His role as Lightbringer.
What I am trying to convey is that all the Gods are connected in some way and sacrificing to the Gods in the periphery of the main God you wish to worship establishes kharis and is simply good form. I'm not asking you to jump in and celebrate every festival, sacrifice twice daily, and build a dozen shrines overnight. Some never do any of that and that is quite alright. Because, as you have just seen, you will honour all Gods in some way through the handful of rituals you do perform. It's the mindset of it I am trying to get across, not the practicality of it. I hope this explains it!
"How does one apologize to the gods? Like, I used to be a huge believer in them when I was younger, and as I got older I stopped believing. But know I'm starting to believe in them again , and I just want to say sorry for not believing and saying rude things about them but I just don't know how to apologize. Is there a certain ritual or?"
At the risk of alienating anyone--I don't believe you have to. I also don't believe you have to introduce yourself to the Theoi when you start worshipping Them or do anything but give sacrifice, perform rites, and believe. If you had angered The Gods, you would have known beyond the shadow of a doubt. We are talking about the beings who level cities out of scorn and murder every single child of a mother who has shown Them disrespect. I am not saying the Theoi would ruin your life, or that They are vengeful, but I am saying that you would have noticed.
You did nothing wrong by not believing. We are not in ancient Hellas where you would have been raised with faith in the Theoi and you had a rebel period where you decided to raise your middle finger to the sky and every priest you saw pass, shouting at the top of your lungs the Theoi are imaginary. What happened is that you live in a society that--as a whole--does not believe in the ancient Hellenic Gods. You live in a society that has relegated the Theoi to the realm of fantasy and fairytale. You may have said things that you now consider rude--and perhaps they were--but you have since come to realize the Theoi are quite real, and worthy of honouring.
So honour Them. Words are cheap. I believe that the best way to make up for past mistakes is to stop making them in the future. So speak only good things of the Theoi (or at least truthful), show respect and honour, perform the rites, learn of Them and Their lives, and practice the ethical rules They have imparted on us. You don't need a ritual, you need a lifestyle--a faith--and to start living it. The past is in the past, I fear, so look ahead and find the very best ways to honour the Theoi.
Two news items today. New finds at ancient Hephaestia on Limnos and the discovery of a previously unknown ancient theatre on the island of Lefkada.

New finds at ancient Hephaestia on Limnos
A major temple with finds dating from two main periods – one in the 7th-6th century B.C. and the second in the 3rd-2nd century B.C – was discovered during an archaeological excavation at ancient Hephaestia on the Greek island of Limnos, according to state broadcaster ERT. The finds came to light near the ancient city’s theatre.

Lesbos Antiquities Ephorate Pavlos Triantafyllidis stated that the workings on the archaeological site, funded by the General Secretariat for the Aegean and Island Policy, will continue. He said that archaeological excavations will be carried out at the Kabeira temple on Limnos and the small island of Agios Eustratios, where there is evidence that a prehistoric settlement existed.

Ancient theatre discovered on the island of Lefkada
Archaeological excavations on the Ionian island of Lefkada have brought to light a previously undiscovered and sizeable ancient theatre, the culture minister announced on Wednesday. It said the find was made on Koulmou hill toward the end of 2015.

Test 'sections' were cut in an area on the northeast flank of Koulmou's middle hill, which forms an amphitheatrical downward hollow ending in a lengthy flat section, the ministry announcement said. It noted that archaeologists knew very little about the city's ancient theatre, which was not mentioned in any ancient sources, though the logs of an early 20th-century archaeological excavation under the direction of German archaeologist Ε. Κrüger, lasting only a few days, recorded the discovery of signs indicating the presence of an ancient theatre.

The Aitoloakarnania and Lefkada Antiquities Ephorate dug sections in 13 places, which confirmed the existence of the theatre and uncovered rows of seats, parts of the orchestra and some of the retaining walls for the stage and other parts of the theatre.

The ministry said that six sections revealed seats carved from the rock, about 0.73 to 0.90 metres deep and 0.22-0.33 metres high. Others found the orchestra and a section of a wall in a quadrant plan, up to 0.6 metres across. The sections also found portions of retaining walls.

The culture ministry said that continuing the excavation in order to reveal and protect the monument will be a priority for the ministry's services, adding that the Lefkada Municipality and Ionian Islands Regional Authority have both supported the work.

Please see the article for more amazing images of the finds.
The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: the Spartan warrior Archidamia.

Archidamia (Αραχιδάμεια) was a wealthy Spartan queen. It is recorded that she was the wife of Eudamidas I, the mother of Archidamus IV and Agesistrata, the grandmother of Eudamidas II and the great-grandmother and grandmother of Agis IV.

In 272 BC Pyrrhus of Epirus with 25,000 foot soldiers, 2,000 cavalry, and 24 elephants marched into Laconia on the false pretense of 'set[ting] free the cities which were subject to Antigonus” and “to send his younger sons to Sparta, if nothing prevented, to be brought up in the Lacedaemonian customs'. While the main Spartan force was in Krete to support Gortys in its war against Knossos, Pyrrhus set siege to Sparta.

In the face of Pyrrhus's invasion, the Spartan Gerousia (γερουσία, the Spartan council of elders) considered sending the Spartan women to Krete for their safety. Archidamia, speaking on behalf of the Spartan women contested this proposal in front of the elders. Plutarch describes the events in his 'Parallel Lives: Life of Pyrrhus':

"When night had come, the Lacedaemonians at first took counsel to send their women off to Crete, but the women were opposed to this; and Archidamia came with a sword in her hand to the senators and upbraided them in behalf of the women for thinking it meet that they should live after Sparta had perished." [27.2]

The elders couldn't content with that logic and allowed the women to stay. To ward of the attackers, the Spartans decided to construct a defensive trench running parallel to Pyrrhus's camp. It is likely that Archidamia helped direct the Spartan women in this respect, since Plutarch continues:

"Next, it was decided to run a trench parallel with the camp of the enemy, and at either end of it to set their waggons, sinking them to the wheel-hubs in the ground, in order that, thus firmly planted, they might impede the advance of the elephants. When they began to carry out this project, there came to them the women and maidens, some of them in their robes, with tunics girt close, and others in their tunics only, to help the elderly men in the work. The men who were going to do the fighting the women ordered to keep quiet, and assuming their share of the task they completed with their own hands a third of the trench. The width of the trench was six cubits, its depth four, and its length eight hundred feet, according to Phylarchus; according to Hieronymus, less than this. When day came and the enemy were putting themselves in motion, these women handed the young men their armour, put the trench in their charge, and told them to guard and defend it, assured that it was sweet to conquer before the eyes of their fatherland, and glorious to die in the arms of their mothers and wives, after a fall that was worthy of Sparta."

Later records of Archidamia date three decades later, with her assisting in the revolutionary designs of her grandson Agis IV, as he attempted to restore Lycurgan institutions to a Sparta then thoroughly corrupted by wealth and greed. Because Archidamia and Agesistrata were the wealthiest two people in all of Lacedaemon, Archidamia's support of Agis was instrumental in gaining support for the cause. She was among those who first pledged to contribute their wealth to a common pool, which was then to be distributed equally amongst both old and new Spartan citizens. Again from Plutarch's Plutarch, 'Parallel Lives':

"Agis, on the contrary, far surpassed in native excellence and in loftiness of spirit not only Leonidas, but almost all the kings who had followed the great Agesilaüs. Therefore, even before he had reached his twentieth year, and although he had been reared amid the wealth and luxury of women, namely, his mother Agesistrata and his grandmother Archidamia (who were the richest people in Sparta), he at once set his face against pleasures. He put away from his person the adornments which were thought to befit the grace of his figure, laid aside and avoided every extravagance, prided himself on his short Spartan cloak, observed sedulously the Spartan customs in his meals and baths and general ways of living, and declared that he did not want the royal power at all unless by means of it he could restore the ancient laws and discipline." [Life of Agis, 4.1]

However, the corrupt Agesilaus, Agis's uncle and erstwhile supporter, and the machinations of a rival party, led by the Agiad King, Leonidas II. Leonidas and the Ephors had Agis illegally imprisoned and executed, unbeknownst to a mob that had gathered out of concern and a possible desire to see him freed. Archidamia and Agesistrata were subsequently lured into the prison on the premise that they were to see Agis; and there they too both met their ends at the hands of their political rivals. Plutarch concludes the tragedy as follows:

"Agis, then, on his way to the halter, saw one of the officers shedding tears of sympathy for him. 'My man,' said he, 'cease weeping; for even though I am put to death in this lawless and unjust manner, I have the better of my murderers'. And saying these words, he offered his neck to the noose without hesitation.

But Amphares went to the door of the prison, where Agesistrata fell at his feet in an appeal to his friendship and intimacy. Amphares lifted her up and assured her that Agis was not to suffer violence or death; and he bade her, if she wished, go in to her son. And when Agesistrata begged that her mother might go in with her, Amphares said there was nothing to prevent. So he admitted both the women, and after ordered the door of the prison to be locked again, delivered Archidamia first to the executioners. She was now a very aged woman, and had lived all her days in very high repute among her countrywomen. After she had been put to death, Amphares ordered Agesistrata to enter the chamber of execution.

So she went in, and when she saw her son lying dead upon the ground, and her mother's dead body still hanging in the noose, with her own hands she helped the officers to take her down, laid her body out by the side of Agis, and composed and covered it. Then, embracing her son and kissing his face, she said: My son, it was thy too great regard for others, and thy gentleness and humanity, which has brought thee to ruin, us as well'. Then Amphares, who stood at the door and saw and heard what she did and said, came in and said angrily to her: 'If, then, thou hast been of the same mind as thy son, thou shalt suffer the same fate'. And Agesistrata, as she rose to present her neck to the noose, said: 'My only prayer is that this may bring good to Sparta'.

When tidings of the sad event had been carried to the city and the three bodies were carried forth for burial, the fear felt by the citizens was not so strong as to prevent them from manifesting sorrow over what had been done, and hatred for Leonidas and Amphares. It was thought that nothing more dreadful or heinous had been done in Sparta since the Dorians had dwelt in Peloponnesus." [20.1 - 21.1]
Today I would like to talk about two related terms that are very important in Hellenismos: eusebeia and dyssebeia. Let's talk about eusebeia first, because that is the one you will be striving after!

Eusebeia (εὐσέβεια) is a Hellenic word abundantly used in Hellenic philosophy. Its meaning is to perform the actions appropriate to the Gods. The word stems from εὐσεβής, 'pious', which in itself comes from εὖ 'eu' meaning 'well', and σέβας 'sebas' meaning 'reverence'. The root seb- (σέβ-) is connected to danger and flight, and thus the sense of reverence originally described fear of the Gods but is also interepreted as sacred awe and reverence especially in actions.  

The word was used in ancient Hellas to reffer to the practice of behaving as tradition dictates in one's social relationship towards the Theoi. Eusebeia is practiced by performing the customary acts of respect--in our case festivals, prayers, sacrifices, and (public) devotion--to the Godss. By extension, Eusebeia means to respect your elders and teachers (both religious and non-religious), to respect your environment as it is an extension of the Gods and under Their protection.

To the ancient Hellenes, depending on philosophical tradition, eusebeia meant not only to do right by the Theoi, but also to know and understand why these are the right things to do by the Theoi. To understand the cycles and purpose behind the rituals, to perform the rites with an understanding of the 'why' and 'how'. this is why I am so adamant about understanding ancient Hellenic culture and religious practice. this is why I consider myself a Traditional Hellenist. I feel you will learn more about modern Hellenismos from a research paper on the ancient Hellenic practice than form a modern 101 book. I feel you will learn more from studying the archaeological finds from ancient Hellas than from making a pretty shrine. All those modern things matter, and they make modern practice fun, but for me, they are not at the core of Hellenismos.

So, that brings us to dyssebeia (Δυσσεβια). Dyssebeia opposed eusebia. It's impiety, it's not performing the customary acts of respect towards the Theoi, or doing them mechanically, without proper faith (and understanding!) behind the motions.

Perhaps not surprisingly both eusebia and dyssebeia are also Goddesses. Eusebeia is the Goddess of piety, loyalty, duty and filial respect. Her husband is Nomos (Law), and, depending on the source, their daughter is Dike, Goddess of justice and fair judgment. Dyssebeia was the Goddess and personification of impiety. Not surprisingly, She is a daughter of Hybris (Excessive Pride) and sister of Koros (Disdain).

Anyone practicing Hellenismos needsto be aware of eusebeia and dyssebeia and the repercussions of both. Now, I need to make clear you can't practice eusebeia one moment and dyssebeia the next. Consider it a scale: true eusebeia to the extreme left and true dyssebeia to the extreme right. I doubt there is a single person who practices Hellenismos who ends up on either extreme, definitely including me. Your goal is to end up left of centre--as left of centre as you can manage. You do this by taking part in festivals, by practicing daily worship, by studying, by being respectful to the world around you and by striving for eusebeia every time. this will bring you one step closer to true harmony with the Gods and the establishment of kharis.
On the last day of the Lênaia (Λήναια), Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for it. This three-day festival honours Dionysos and has a multitude of links to the Lesser Dionysia. In fact, it's been described as an urban version of the Lesser Dionysia, but without the grander of the greater Dionysia. will you join us at 10 am EST on 25 January?

The Lênaia is held--roughly--at the coldest time of year in Hellas. It's dedicated to Dionysos Lênaios (Ληναιος, of the wine press), and is almost undoubtedly a fertility festival, which was celebrated to encourage the earth to thaw and soften, and become ready for sowing. It is said that the Lênaia celebrates the birth of Dionysos--or at least the version of His birth from Zeus's thigh, but this is most definitely not a supported theory by the whole of the scholastic community. This festival is tied to Dionysos' role as Year-Daímōn in which He was conceived at Agrai, located on the banks of the Ilissus River on the Hellenic peninsula near Athens. The word 'Agrai', pertains to both the place name and the rites of Dionysos held there--most commonly referred to as the 'lesser Mysteries' (20-26 Anthesterion). Another reason for the name of the festival might be the female revelers that often partook of Dionysos' worship and were named Maenads, or Lenai.

The Lênaia starts at the twelfth and ends either on the fourteenth or fifteenth of the month. At Elaion, we feel it ends at dusk on the fifteenth, as that would make up the full three days attested to (from dusk on the twelfth, to dusk on the fifteenth).

The Lênaia was an ancient, local, mostly Athenian, festival, although it was locally celebrated elswhere as well. In Athens, no one from another city could attend. This was partly an inevitability, seeing as the seas at this time were the most dangerous of the year. It's documented that the Lenaion--most likely a theatre outside of the city or a section of the Agora--was the stage for the Lênaia, and might have been the earliest shrine of Dionysos at Athens. Eventually, the Theatre of Dionysos was built, and the Greater Dionysia became the main festival for the performance of drama, but tragedies and comedies were also put on during the Lênaia. In fact, they were the main event.

At the public level this was primarily a theatrical and civic affair, and the city invoked the god Dionysos in his role as bringer of wealth and the blessings of civilization. The festival might have started with a procession from the wilds outside of Athens, into the civilization of Athens itself. During the procession, the Daidukhos (Torch-bearer) yelled, “Invoke the God!” and the celebrants responded, "Son of Semele, Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!”. (Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, p 104–4) This procession might have played out (parts of) the early myths surrounding Dionysos, where He and his revelers came to His cousin Pentheus, but were imprisoned. Dionysos broke Himself and His revelers out, and tried to explain His worship to His cousin. Yet, Pentheus would not listen, so Dionysos left him to his anger. He took His followers--including many local women, including Pentheus' mother and sister--to the hills. When Pentheus pursued Him, He drove the women mad. To them Pentheus appeared to be a moutain lion. In a berserk rage, they attacked him, and his mother--who was first to reach him--ripped his head off, while the others tore off his limbs.

At midnight on at least one of the days, revellers took to an all-night ecstatic dance, dressed up and bearing various musical instruments (the thyrsus, castanets, tambourines and flutes, primarily). They danced in front of a representation of Dionysos, usually a simple post, dressed in a man’s tunic, with garlanded branches like upraised arms, and with a bearded mask of Dionysos. It's this bear that often discourages scholars from interpreting the Lênaia as a festival to celebrate Dionysos' birth. Wine was a large part of the dance and stood on a table in front of the idol; generally, this wine was the last of the old.

There were massive parades through the streets during the days, which were led by the Archōn Basileus and the officials who oversaw the sacred ceremonies of the Eleusinian mysteries. There were speeches by political figures, awards were given to outstanding citizens, veterans and their families, and business was discussed in the open, and with gusto. Tragedies and comedies were performed, but comedies were the main focus. While the plays were wonderful, many people looked forward to the household part of the festival more, though, as it was encouraged to get at least somewhat tipsy and ward off the cold in bed with your partner.

It's interesting to note that during the midwinter celebrations of Dionysos, a group of revelers roamed Mount Parnassos at Delphi (we mostly know this from an account where they had to be rescued off of the mountain when a blizzard struck), and it is attested that every second year, the Delphic women were joined by women from Athens. The Lênaia might have been the main Dionysian festival for these Athenian women.

You can join the community for the event here, and download the ritual here.We look forward to have you participate!
I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"I would like to celebrate some non- Athenian festivals which have not got strictly defined dates, for instance the at once sombre and merry Spartan Hyacinthia honouring Apollo and Hyacinthus (particularly his death and rebirth as the hyacinth flower and as an epithet of Apollo). The only thing that is known about it's date is that it had been celebrated in early Summer. If I celebrate it around the 7 th day of the month in which the Summer Solstice occurs, after the solstice, of course, would you say it would be acceptable? Especially as that would be around a time dear to the god and in early Summer."

There is historical evidence of this festival in Amykles. It was called the Hyakínthia (Ὑακίνθια), and lasted three days somewhere in early summer. Hyakinthos' death was mourned the first day: Hyakinthos received sacrifices, a solemn banquet was organised and it was possibly a day to remember all of those who had passed. We know for sure there were horse races, and most likely other sporting events. The second day was apparently reserved for a celebration of Hyakinthos' rebirth, although it's unclear if the ancient Hellenes celebrated that Hyakinthos was brought back to life himself, or that he was brought back in the form of a flower. From Apollon's epithet 'Apollon Hayakinthios', we could conclude that Hyakinthos was reborn as (a part of) Apollon. Numerous goats were offered to Hyakinthos, and the day was concluded with a huge feast in which anyone could participate. This day was in praise of Apollon, for His love and Hyakinthos' rebirth. We know less about the third day, indicating it might have contained elements of a mystery cult. It might also simply have been a sober day in which not much happened. All we know is that Hyakinthos received a chitōn (χιτών)--possibly on the third day--not unlike Athena got for the Panathenaic games. Xenophon reports that the Spartans interrupted their campaigns in order to participate in the feast, making the Hyakínthia a major Spartan holiday.

There are quite a lot of festivals we do not have clear dates for. This festival is definitely one of them. Finding a date to celebrate any of these is always going to be a guess. Sometimes it's an educated guess, but mostly it's just a guess. The Hyakínthia began on the longest day of the Spartan month Hecatombeus. What month this was is not certain. Arguing from Xenophon we get May; assuming that the Spartan Hecatombeus is the Attic Hecatombaion, we get July; or again it may be the Attic Scirophorion, June. So, I think the day of the Summer Solstice would be good time, as that is the longest day of the year, or the first seventh of the month that comes after it as that is a day sacred to Apollon.


"I read your excellent post about coming of age ceremonies (and deeply enjoyed it, of course), but would you have any specific suggestions on how to adapt these, especially the ones concerning boys, please, to modern worship?"

Sacrificing a lock of hair during a sacrifice around 6 - 10 years of age is most likely a practice that can be carried over into modern times. Then, at 16, the 'ephebeia' could still be celebrated, except with slightly modiied pledge. The original reads:

"I will not bring shame upon these sacred weapons nor will I abandon my comrade-in-arms wherever I stand in the ranks. I will defend both the holy and profane things. I will not hand on the fatherland smaller than I received it, but larger and better, so far as it lies in my power with the assistance of all the other citizens. I will obey the officials who govern wisely and the laws, both those which are already established and those which are wisely established in the future. If anyone attempts to destroy them, I will not allow it, so far as it lies in my power with the assistance of all the other citizens. I will hold in honor the ancestral sanctuaries. The following gods are witnesses: Aglauros, Hestia, Enyo, Enyalios, Ares and Athena Areia, Zeus, Thallo, Auxo, Hegemone, Heracles, the territory of the fatherland, the wheat, barley, vines, olive trees, and fig trees."

This could be adapted to something important to the boy and the family. It would be great if the Theoi are mentioned, but if the son does not believe... well... then They might have to be left out. What matters are the traits of loyalty, strength of character, honesty, accountability, respect and serviceability. What matters is that a boy realizes what it means to be a good man in a modern world, and who better t help him write a vow like this than his father or other male rolemodel?


"Due to circumstnces I missed my Noumenia rites and my Agathos Daimon rites. Extremely bothersome it is but please tell me, should I do them when I finally have the ability to do so?"

In general, I would say that these monthly events tied to set points in time cannot and should not be 'caught up on' once circumstances allow. They will be right there next month.

"are there any rules in hellenismos when it comes to donating parts of your body (or the whole body) after death?"

Human dissections were carried out by the Hellenic physicians Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Chios in the early part of the third century BC, although not much before and after. After the widespread introduction of Christianity, it became impossible to dissect human bodies anywhere in the Hellenistic world, but currently, human dissection is once more widely accepted and could just be part of modern Hellenic living. That said, there would need to be a funeral of sorts and proper funerary rites for your body before that or your soul would not be carried to the Underworld.
'Ion' is a tragedy by the ancient Hellenic playwright Euripides, thought to have been written between about 414 and 412 BCE. It describes the tale of the orphan, Ion, eponymous forefather of the Ionian race, as he discovers his true origins and parentage after being abandoned as a child.

The play begins with a prologue by the messenger god Hermes, who explains some of the background to the play, in particular how he had once rescued a child (at Apollo‘s request) which had been left to die of exposure on a mountainside, and delivered him to the temple of Apollon in Delphi, where he grew up as an orphan under the care of the Pythian Priestess.

Hermes' introduction is followed by a prayer to Apollon, in which he laments his own fate but also reaffirms his loyalty to Apollon. They are beautiful words and I would love to share them with you today. The rest of the play can be read and enjoyed here.

Ion's prayer to Apollon

Already this radiant four-horse chariot, the sun, flames over the earth, and at this fire of heaven the stars flee into the sacred night; the untrod Parnassian cliffs, shining, receive the wheel of day for mortals. The smoke of dry myrtle flies to Phoebus' roof. The woman of Delphi sits on the sacred tripod, and sings out to the Hellenes whatever Apollo cries to her. But you Delphian servants of Phoebus, go to the silver whirlpools of Castalia; come to the temple when you have bathed in its pure waters; it is good to keep your mouth holy in speech and give good words from your lips to those who wish to consult the oracle. But I will labor at the task that has been mine from childhood, with laurel boughs and sacred wreaths making pure the entrance to Phoebus' temple, and the ground moist with drops of water; and with my bow I will chase the crowds of birds that harm the holy offerings.
For as I was born without a mother and a father, I serve the temple of Phoebus that nurtured me.
Come, new-grown, ministering bough, of loveliest laurel, you who sweep the altar under the temple of Apollo; you are from the immortal gardens, where the secred drops water the holy foliage of myrtle, sending forth an ever-flowing stream. With this laurel I sweep the pavement of the god all day, along with the sun's swift wing, my daily service. O Paean, O Paean, may you be fortunate, child of Leto!
Lovely is the labor, o Phoebus, I carry out for you before your house, honoring your prophetic shrine; glorious my labor, to be a slave for gods, not mortal but immortal; I do not tire of laboring over my auspicious work. Phoebus is a father to me; I praise the one who feeds me; the name of father, beneficial to me, I give to Phoebus who rules this temple. O Paean, O Paean, may you be fortunate, child of Leto!
But I will cease from labor with the laurel branch and I wil hurl from golden vases Gaia's fountain, which Castalia's eddies pour out, casting out the moist drops, since I am chaste. May I never cease to serve Phoebus in this manner; or, if I do, may it be with good fortune. Ah, ah! Already the birds of Parnassus have left their nests, and come here. I forbid you to approach the walls and the golden house. I will reach you with my bow, herald of Zeus, though you conquer with your beak the strength of all other birds. Here comes another, a swan, to the rim of the temple. Move your crimson foot elsewhere! Phoebus' lyre, that sings with you, would not protect you from my bow. Alter your wings' course; go to the Delian lake; if you do not obey, you will steep your lovely melody in blood.
Ah, ah! What is this new bird that approaches; you will not place under the cornice a straw-built nest for your children, will you? My singing bow will keep you off. Will you not obey? Go away and bring up your offspring by the eddies of Alpheus, or go to the Isthmian grove, so that the offerings, and the temple of Phoebus, are not harmed. . . . and yet I am ashamed to kill you, for to mortals you bear the messages of the gods; but I will be subject to Phoebus in my appointed tasks, and I will never cease my service to those who nourish me. [82 - 183]
I try not to post two news/archaeology items in sequence, but this one gave me such a chuckle when I read the title, I knew I had to post it. It seems that a pair of ancient Hellenic clogs, dating back 1,500 years, were among the findings unearthed by archaeologists in at the site of Yenikapı in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet the excavations revealed important finds. The ancient clogs featured an engraved inscription in ancient Greek which referred to health (it reads 'use on healthy days'). The excavation in Yenikapı also brought to light cherry pits from a shipwreck which took place around 1,200 years ago, an ivory head figurine carved 1,600 years and a wooden comb dating back 1,200 years. the finds also included human footprints from the Neolithic and tools such as horn spoons and paddles dating back 8,000 years--the oldest to ever be unearthed.

At the same time, the excavations at the Aksaray Yenikapı Square, which are thought to be an extension of the ancient Theodosius Harbor, are still being carried out. Officials and archeologists stress that these excavations must be carried out with utmost care as very important findings may be revealed there.

The findings are being held at the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul, however, the archaeological team aims to transfer them to the new museum at Yenikapı.
Archaeologists will soon have access to new digital tools for reassembly and erosion, while advances in predictive scanning could open up new market opportunities, this reports the Archaeology News Network.

New digital tools will speed up cultural heritage work
Visualisation of the 3D scanning results from Elefsis in OPTOCAT software (left).
Data acquisition with a Breuckmann white light scanning system (right)
[Credit: Presious]
The EU-funded PRESIOUS project has developed software tools that could help improve the efficiency of the work of European archaeologists at a time when funding is tight, and has shown that computer simulation can play a key role in assisting researchers across a range of disciplines, including the preservation of cultural heritage artefacts. Once the project is completed, these tools will be made freely available for archaeologists to download, while the consortium’s industry partner has used some of the advances made. Project coordinator Professor Theoharis Theoharis from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology explains:

"We set out to address some of the challenges that archaeologists face in their everyday work. In order to better understand what monuments will look like under certain erosive conditions for example, we built simulation software--within the timescale and resources available – that enables an archaeologist to scan a stone object and estimate erosion patterns under different conditions."

A second aim was to develop simulation software to help archaeologists piece together fragmented findings, like solving a 3D puzzle. The second tool developed by the project team automatically proposes possible fits based on the digitised fragments. According to Theoharis:

"During a dig, archaeologists will often come across thousands of fragments. Piecing these together involves quadratic complexity, which we computing scientists fully understand."

 The third solution involved developing software capable of filling in gaps in archaeological objects with symmetry. Once fragments have been painstakingly reconstructed, final artefacts are often still missing pieces. The new software tool works by recognising symmetries and geometric patterns in the artefact, and from this information, offers logical suggestions to fill in the gaps, to aid restoration. Theoharis continues:
"But in order to develop these technologies, we had to address a key bottleneck – the expense and labour intensive nature of digitisation. We found that it took a trained operator two and a half hours to scan just one fragment. So the fourth thing we did was speed up the digitisation process with our industrial partner."

This was achieved through the development of predictive scanning, which uses predictions based on 3D object retrieval from repositories of previously digitised objects in order to speed up the scanning process. This technique is useful for applications where cost reductions are imperative and precision scanning is not necessarily the end goal, as is the case for some archaeological applications.

"We did discuss the possibility of commercialising our software, but the academic project partners understood that our end users--archaeologists--work under harsh funding constraints, so these tools will go live free once the project ends (in January 2016). In addition, we have a great deal of data and research results that we intend to make available online. There were many related cultural heritage issues that we would have liked to tackle, so we hope that by making this information available, the research work will continue."

Feedback from the archaeological community at various conferences, seminars and demonstrations has been very positive, and Theoharis is confident that the PRESIOUS tools will directly contribute to the preservation of European cultural heritage.
At ancient Arkhia, on the 9th of Gamelion, a sacrifice was performed in honour of Athena. The calendar does not state a specific epithet or further details, so we will be honouring Her in all Her glory. Will you join us at 10 am EST on Tuesday 19 January?

The ritual for the event can be found here and the community page here.
On Monday 18 January, 10 am EST, we honour Apollon in His epithets of Apotropaios and Nymphegetes as well as His consorts, the Nymphs. This ancient sacrifice was held at Arkhia on Gamelion 8 and we would envite you to join us.

Apollon Apotropaios (Ἀποτρόπαιοs) was and is the averter of evil. Rituals dedicated to the deity were apotropaic, intended to turn away harm or evil influences, as in deflecting misfortune. This could be anything from warding off a plague to keeping mice out of the grain storage.

Apollon Nymphegetes (Νυμφηγέτης) is 'Apollon who looks after nymphs', or 'Apollo who leads nymphs'. In this epithet, Apollon was and is a pastoral God, who was considered the protector of shepherds and pastoral life.

Nymphs are the female divinities of the natural features of the landscape, and there are many kinds, depending on the landscape they frequent.

Combining these traits into a single ritual can tell you all about it you need: this was a ritual to ward of the dangers of rural living (by adressing Apollon in his two protective epithets) and to invite blessings (from the nymphs) onto those who partook.

We welcome you to worship with us at 10 am EST on Monday 18 January. You can join the community here and find the ritual here.
Four complete horse skeletons have been uncovered at a human burial site in southern Greece that could provide invaluable research opportunities, report various news sources, including The Greek Reporter.

The four horse skeletons, intact even down to the hooves, were among the findings discovered during landscaping works around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center at the Faliro Delta, a prime tract of land in southern coastal Athens, Greece. Stella Chrysoulaki, head of Greece’s West Attica, Piraeus, and the Islands Ephorate, told The Athens News Agency:

“In the Faliro necropolis, we have found four complete horse graves, as well as parts of other skeletons, therefore, it is not something rare for the area. What is rare and surprised us was the degree of preservation of the specific skeleton, which even has its hooves. For zoo-archaeologists or a university, this find could be an excellent opportunity for a study. Having such a large number of skeletons – four is quite a number – such a study could reach a number of conclusions on the breeds and the evolution of the species. From this point of view, this discovery is very important.”

She went on to note that burying horses in a cemetery for people periodically occurred, while it was not strange for the Faliro necropolis. The cemetery was in use from the Archaic era to the Classical era, containing many strange and unusual findings. One such was the discovery of two skeletons, possibly of a couple, lying with their hands clasped. This indicated that they actually died together, since rigor mortis did not allow other conclusion.

A total of 136 burial sites dating back to the Archaic era had been found in the 840-square-meter ancient cemetery, including the horse burial site and sections of a mass grave, burial urns and other findings.

The Central Archaeological Council approved continuing construction works over the discovered structures, which mostly consisted of ground holes, while the skeletons were removed for study. Proposals were made to display and highlight some of the findings at the cultural center.
Beginning at sundown on the 16th of January, on Gamelion 7, the Kourotrophoi were honoured at Erkhia along with two epithets of Apollon. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual for this event in the daylight hours of the 17th of January, and you can join us here.

The Kourotrophoi are mostly female deities who watch over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. Specific offerings to Them are known from the demos Erkhia (or Erchia), but duplicate similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophos was/were sacrificed to. This specific sacrifice has no specifics listed, but since it refers to the plural, we can make an educated guess. Other than the Kourotrophoi, two other epithets of a God are listed to be sacrificed to on this day: Apollon Delphios and Apollon Lykeios‏.

Apollon Delphios (Δελφιος) is the epithet of Apollon of the Oracle (of Delphi in Phokis). Its advice has saved the lives of many a man, woman, and--most importantly in this case--child.

Apollon Lykeios (Λυκειος) is the epithet of Apollon of the Wolves and Apollon of the Light. Apollo, by the name of Lykeios, is therefore generally characterised as the destroyer. He who preys, He who scorches with his light. It might seem odd to include him in a rite meant to ensure the safety and well-being of children, but nothing could be further from the truth. In this epithet, Apollon can be sung and offerd to in order to appease and sate. Perhaps, if enough kharis is established, Apollon Lykeios will pas your children by...

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. We truly hope you will join us for this important rite on Sunday 17 Januari, at 10 am EST.
The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: Philaenis of Samos, a female writer best known for writing about lesbian sex.

Philaenis of Samos (Φιλαινίς) was an Hellenic hetaira--a female companion, a term used non-sexually for women, about women, but used by men to indicate a woman hired for entertainment, often leading to sex--of the 4th or 3rd centuries BC. She became famous for writing a manual on lesbian sexual positions and the proper etiquette for courting a member of the same or opposite sex.

Her work is said to have covered the best sexual positions, perfumes, cosmetics, means of inducing abortions, the art of kissing, and the art of seduction, including how to make successful passes. Written in the style of The Histories of Herodotus - a kind of History of Sex - her book was very popular and widely read even though people seem to have publicly condemned it. Their disapproval had less to do with the subject matter than that a woman would had written it. Her work no longer survives but is cited by later authors.

'Philaenis' is most likely a pseudonym to disguise the dentity of the true author of the work, who is unknown. 'Philaenis' is the female diminutive of the Greek word for chosen love and seems to have been a name commonly used by them.
By the way, the term 'lesbian' to denote a homosexual woman did not exist in ancient times and only originates later when people began to identify homosexual women with Sappho of the island of Lesbos because of her intimate female-oriented love poems. In Philaenis' time, a gay woman was known as a 'tribad', from the word 'tribo' meaning 'to rub'. Use your imagination for that one.
Today I was researching mythical creatures for another writing project and stumbled upon mention of the kobaloi, which I had completely forgotten about. Me, who played so much Dungeons & Dragons in highschool that I can still recite the Kobolt's stats by heart!


The kobalos (Κόβαλος) was a sprite from Hellenic mythology, a mischievous creature fond of tricking and frightening mortals. The ancient Hellenic myths depict the kobaloi as 'impudent, thieving, droll, idle, mischievous, gnome-dwarfs', and as 'funny, little triksy elves' of a phallic nature. They were companions of Dionysus and, as choroimanes-aiolomorphos--shapeshifters--could disguise themselves as Dionysos. According to myth, they once robbed Hēraklēs while he slept. He captured them in revenge but took pity on them when he found them amusing. In one version of the myth, Hēraklēs gave them to the Lydian queen Omphale as a gift.

Parents used tales of the kobaloi to frighten children into behaving. The term also means 'impudent knave', or 'arrant rogue' in ancient Greek, and such individuals were thought to invoke kobaloi spirits.
The kobalos is related to two other Hellenic sprites: the kabeiroi and the kerkopes. The kareiroi are pygmies with large phalluses and eventually became equated with the kobalos. Nineteenth Century classicists proposed that other European sprites may derive from belief in kobaloi. This includes spirits such as the Northern English boggart, the Scottish bogle, the French goblin, the Medieval gobelinus, the German kobold, and he English Puck. Likewise, the names of many European spirits may derive from the word 'kobalos'. The word entered Latin as 'cobalus', then possibly French as 'gobelin'. From this, the English 'goblin' and Welsh 'coblyn' may derive.

The kobaloi were thought to live in Euboea or near Thermopylae.
An ancient marble altar with a nude warrior battling a serpent monster has been discovered by villagers near the Akçay River in Turkey. The artifact showes a carved scene that is difficult to interpret. Archeologists are speculating as to whether the warrior is Bargasos, son of Hēraklēs, fighting a monster in battle to bring forth river God Harpasos to whom the alter is dedicated. The altar most likely dates back to the second century A.D. All of this reports Protothema.

The nude male warrior on the altar wears a helmet with a crest and holds a dagger in his right hand and shield in his left. The lower corner depicts a curving snake with many heads that depicts the mythical Hydra. Despite the scene, researchers say that the warrior is not Hēraklēs, but his son Bargasos (Βάργασος), who in ancient mythology was the son of Hēraklēs and a woman known as Barge. Bargasa, in modern-day Turkey was named in honor of Bargasa. This myth and this son were, therefor, most likely a part of local mythology.

When the altar was created, the river now known as Akçay by its Turkish name was known as the Harpasos River. Flavius Ouliades set up the Hellenic inscription at the top of the altar that explains that it was created following a dream. The dedication shows that the person who created the altar had a strong belief in the river God. He had promised to set up the altar if the river God answered his prayers that may have been for a good harvest or protection.

In ancient mythology the battle depicted on the altar may have led to the creation of the river God Harpasos. Archeologists believe it may be a representation of a local myth describing Bargasos’ battle against a ravaging river with many arms. Once defeated, the river turned into the river God Harpasos.

The altar is 2 feet high and 1.5 feet wide and is now being displayed at the Aydin Museum in Turkey.
Elaion is proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have raised $60,- for our democratically decided upon cause the The Donkey Sanctuary. As always, you have all given generously, and in the spirit of the Gods!

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE and supports projects in 27 countries worldwide. It reaches out to those in greatest need through the provision of permanent refuge and veterinary services to alleviate their suffering. Over 50 million donkeys and mules exist in the world. Many need care and protection from a life of suffering and neglect, whilst others have a vital role to play in human survival and happiness; they are at the heart of everything they do at The Donkey Sanctuary.

This means The Donkey Sanctuary can provide food, shelter and love for a single donkey for ten days at the sanctuary in Sidmouth. Or that it can keep their rescue vehicles on the road for 12 hours – saving donkeys from terrible conditions. Or that they can hire a farrier to trim long and painful hooves and treat uncomfortable foot conditions for three donkeys, or two visits from the equine dentist to rasp teeth and remove any uncomfortable sharp edges. Or, if they so decide, our donation will stock their medical supplies for one day to treat sick and injured donkeys overseas.

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!
My girlfriend and I are currently hunting for a house to buy--which is a slow and somewhat frustrating experience. We started off quite excited but as the montths pass, it is hard not to get discouraged. We'll find something eventually but I figured that beyond giving extra sacrifice to Hestia to aid us in our search for a home, I'd also share some odes and humns to Her on the blog. Here is to hoping something comes along for us soon!

Pindar, Nemean Ode 11

"Daughter of Rhea, guardian of parliaments, Hestia, sister of all-highest Zeus, and of Hera who shares his throne, welcome with goodwill to your sacred hall."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca

"He [Kronos] then married his sister Rhea. Because both Ge and Ouranos had given him prophetic warning that his rule would be overthrown by a son of his own, he took to swallowing his children at birth. He swallowed his first-born daughter Hestia, then Demeter and Hera, and Poseidon and Haides... When Zeus was grown, he engaged Okeanos' daughter Metis as a colleague. She gave Kronos a drug, by which he was forced to vomit forth first the stone and then the children he had swallowed. With them Zeus fought a war against Kronos and the Titanes." [1. 4 - 7]

Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

"Nor yet does the pure maiden Histia love Aphrodite's works. She was the first-born child of wily Kronos (Cronus) and youngest too, by will of Zeus who holds the aigis,--a queenly maid whom both Poseidon and Apollon sought to wed. But she was wholly unwilling, nay, stubbornly refused; and touching the head of father Zeus who holds the aigis, she, that fair goddess, sware a great oath which has in truth been fulfilled, that she would be a maiden all her days. So Zeus the Father gave her a high honour instead of marriage, and she has her place in the midst of the house and has the richest portion. In all the temples of the gods she has a share of honour, and among all mortal men she is chief of the goddesses. Of these three Aphrodite cannot bend or ensnare the hearts."
Homeric Hymn 24 to Hestia

 "Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollon, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise--draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song."
Orphic Hymn 84 to Hestia

 "To Hestia, Fumigation from Aromatics. Daughter of Kronos (Cronus), venerable dame, who dwellest amidst great fire's eternal flame; in sacred rites these ministers are thine, mystics much blessed, holy and divine. In thee the Gods have fixed their dwelling place, strong, stable basis of the mortal race. Eternal, much formed, ever florid queen, laughing and blessed, and of lovely mien; accept these rites, accord each just desire, and gentle health and needful good inspire."

Plato, Phaedrus 246

 "Zeus, the mighty lord, holding the reins of a winged chariot, leads the way in heaven, ordering all and taking care of all; and there follows him the array of gods and demigods, marshalled in eleven bands; Hestia alone abides at home in the house of heaven; of the rest they who are reckoned among the princely twelve march in their appointed order."
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
PAT rituals for Gamelion:
  • 17/01 - Gamelion 7 - Sacrifice to the Kourotrophoi and Apollon Lykeios‏
  • 18/01 - Gamelion 8 - Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaius, Apollon Nymphegetes, & the Nymphs at Erchia
  • 19/01 - Gamelion 9 - Sacrifice to Athena at Erchia
  • 22/01 - Gamelion 12-15 - Lenaia - festival in honor of Dionysus in the Attic deme of Limnai
  • 06/02 - Gamelion 27 - Theogamia/Gamelia - celebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus Teleios and Hera Telei
  • 06/02 - Gamelion 27 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus Teleius, and Poseidon at Erchia

Anything else?
This month's Pandora's Kharis charity is The Donkey Sanctuary. The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE and supports projects in 27 countries worldwide. It reaches out to those in greatest need through the provision of permanent refuge and veterinary services to alleviate their suffering. Over 50 million donkeys and mules exist in the world. Many need care and protection from a life of suffering and neglect, whilst others have a vital role to play in human survival and happiness; they are at the heart of everything they do at The Donkey Sanctuary.
The deadline to donate is January 9, 2016. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Archaeologists working on the Greek island of Krete have uncovered artifacts and structures that suggest the ancient city of Knossos was bigger and richer than previously thought, thus reports UPI.

Knossos is thought to be Europe's oldest city. It was an epicenter of Aegean and Mediterranean trade and culture, but historians thought that after a solid 600-year run of prominence during the Hellenic Bronze Age, the city suffered a decline in the wake of a socio-political collapse around 1200 BC.

The site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos (Μίνως Καλοκαιρινός). The excavations in Knossos began in AD 1900 by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851–1941) and his team, and they continued for 35 years. The palace was excavated and partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. Its size far exceeded his original expectations, as did the discovery of two ancient scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B, to distinguish their writing from the pictographs also present. From the layering of the palace Evans developed de novo an archaeological concept of the civilization that used it, which he called Minoan, following the pre-existing custom of labelling all objects from the location Minoan.

The latest excavations suggest that Knossos had economic and political successes well into the Iron Age. Most of the new artifacts--bronze and other metals, jewelry, pottery and all sorts of status symbols--were recovered from burial sites. The archaeological haul reveals a city that was rich with trade well after the collapse of the Aegean palaces. Lead excavator Antonis Kotsonas, an assistant professor of classics at the University of Cincinnati, said in a press release:
"No other site in the Aegean period has such a range of imports. Even at this early stage in detailed analysis, it appears that this was a nucleated, rather densely occupied settlement extending over the core of the Knossos valley, from at least the east slopes of the acropolis hill on the west to the Kairatos River, and from the Vlychia stream on the south until roughly midway between the Minoan palace and the Kephala hill."
The Knossos Urban Landscape Project over the past decade has recovered a large collection of ceramics and artifacts dating back to the Iron Age. The relics were spread over an extensive area that was previously unexplored. Kotsonas says that this exploration revealed considerable growth in the size of the settlement during the early Iron Age and also growth in the quantity and quality of its imports coming from mainland Greece, Cyprus, the Near East, Egypt, Italy, Sardinia and the western Mediterranean.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is seeking submissions for a devotional anthology to honor the least and greatest of Olympians, in a volume entitled 'First and Last: A Devotional for Hestia'. Firstborn of Her mother Rhea, and last to be disgorged from the gullet of Her father Kronos, Hestia receives first and last offerings from many Hellenic polytheists, but does not play the kind of public role associated with Her siblings. In antiquity, Her cult was mostly of the household rather than of festivals and temples, and She was not as prominent in the myths of the day. Nevertheless, as accepter of sacrifices Hestia receives Her due, what is sometimes called the least and greatest of offerings. She is the hearth of the Hellenic home, the keeper of the sacred flame of the Gods, guardian of hospitality, and keeper of oaths.

Appropriate submissions will discuss aspects of Hestia in antiquity and/or modern practice, including but not limited to:
- Her role as a virgin Goddess, and the significance of her rejecting two divine offers of marriage from Apollon and Poseidon;
- Her connection with other deities, including
- Hellenic Theoi, especially Hephaestus, Hermes and Hekate; and
- relationships with and syncretic forms with non-Hellenic Gods, such as Taweret, Bes, Frigg, and Brighid;
- and comparisons/contrasts with the Roman Goddess Vesta, and Vesta’s links with the lares and penates;
- explorations and reimaginings of the tales and myths Hestia features in;
- accounts of personal devotional practices such as veiling, maintaining a hearth/flame, offerings, et cetera;
- research into Her cult and sacred sites in antiquity;
- ancient and modern rituals;
- ancient and modern hymns;
- artwork; and
- recipes inspired by or used as offerings to Hestia.

Academic and artistic submissions will also be considered, be it poetry or prose.

All works must be original. Please submit no plagiarized or public domain material. Scholarly articles must provide proper citation for all sources in the form of a bibliography and in-text citations. Previously published submissions are acceptable, as long as the author retains all rights. After publication, the author will continue to retain all rights to any submissions accepted for this anthology. Upon acceptance, the author must complete a permission to publish form, and include a brief author biography to be included in the anthology.

Please send any and all submissions and queries either in the body of the email or as .txt/.doc/.rtf attachments to Terence P Ward at tpw@protonmail.ch.

The editor reserves the right to make minor changes to formatting, spelling, and grammar, if necessary; he also reserves the right to request modifications, or to reject submissions entirely.
No monetary compensation will be provided. Instead, each contributor will be provided with a coupon code which will allow them to purchase three copies at cost. Each contributor will also receive a .pdf copy of the devotional for personal use. Proceeds from all sales will be divided between charitable donations in honour of Hestia and production costs for future publications from Bibliotheca Alexandria.

Acceptable length is anywhere from 100-10,000 words, with the exception of poetry. Any artwork submitted should be scanned in or created at 300 dpi and sent as a .jpg or .tif file.

Submissions open 1 January 2016 and close 1 June 2016, with a projected release date of Summer 2016.
The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the heroics of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to one today: Hydna of Scione, whom I doubt many have heard of before.

Hydna of Scione was born around 500 BC to Scyllis of Scione, a diving instructor and expert swimmer who taught the art of swimming for a living. He instructed his daughter from a young age, and she became well known for her ability to dive deeply and swim long distances. Most likely, she helped her father make a living for the family.

When the Persians invaded Greece in 480 BCE, they sacked Athens and marched across the mainland after defeating the Hellenes at Thermopylae. The Persian navy then sought to destroy the rest of the Hellenic force in the naval battle at Salamis. If the Persians won at Salamis, Hellas would be lost, and so Scyllis and his daughter volunteered to stop this from happening.

Together, they swam to where the Persian navy was moored for the night. Knives in hand, they silently swam among the boats, cutting their moorings. Tossed about by the wind and waves, the ships crashed together; some sank; most were crippled. And so battle was avoided for the time being. This feat is even more impressive when one considers that, in order to perform it, Hydna and Scyllis had to swim ten miles into the sea in the middle of a storm.

Their story comes from the Hellenic historian Pausanius in his 'Description of Greece':

"Beside the Gorgias is a votive offering of the Amphictyons, representing Scyllis of Scione, who, tradition says, dived into the very deepest parts of every sea. He also taught his daughter Hydna to dive. When the fleet of Xerxes was attacked by a violent storm off Mount Pelion, father and daughter completed its destruction by dragging away under the sea the anchors and any other security the triremes had." [10.19.1]

Pausanias goes on to note that, in return for this deed, the Amphictyons dedicated statues of Scyllis and his daughter at Delphi, making clear that their deed was, indeed, heroic and worthy of favour from both mortals and Gods.
The Asclepeion, also known as the Asclepius sanctuary, which sits at the southern slope of Acropolis was unknown until a few years ago, now it is being restored. This reports the Archaeology News Network. The study for the restoration was presented to the Central Archaeological Council and was approved unanimously.

In ancient Hellas and Rome, an asclepeion (Asklepieion, Ἀσκληπιεῖον) was a healing temple, sacred to Asklepios. These healing temples were a place in which patients would visit to receive either treatment or some sort of healing, whether it was spiritual or physical. Starting around 350 BC, the cult of Asclepius became increasingly popular. Patients flocked to asclepieia to be healed. They slept overnight ('incubation') and reported their dreams to a priest the following day. He prescribed a cure, often a visit to the baths or a gymnasium. Since snakes were sacred to Asklepios, they were often used in healing rituals. Non-venomous snakes were left to crawl on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept.

The asclepieion located on the south slopes of the Acropolis of Athens dates back to around 420 BC.
The ruined building wasn't discovered until 1993, when research led architect Rosalia Christodoulopoulou to discover piles of architectural parts and building debris. Christodoulopoulou told the AMNA news agency:

"Breaking down these piles of stones we began to distinguish specific groups. However, we didn’t know where all those materials belonged. Research took five to six years until we discovered two stones from a corner that matched the building's foundations.

We quickly realized that all the remaining pieces were part of the temple because they had the same design and were made from the same variety of marble.

In 2011 we found two pieces under the first entry step which gave us new information that changed the initial hypothesis. Research continues because we found parts that have been treated or re-used many times so it is difficult to identify."

A total of 450 architectural parts found in the stone piles have been thus far identified. Athens Polytechnic Professor Manolis Korres who oversees the preservation of the Acropolis monuments said:

"It was a monument that existed only on paper and was considered lost as a building. Now, thanks to Rosalia’s work, there is plenty of material. This is very important for the topography of the southern Acropolis slope. All the marbles are there."

The first sanctuary was built in 420-419 BC, an era from which no remains have been found. A second temple was built on top of it during the 1st century BC, probably after 86 BC, Christodoulopoulou noted.

“We are restoring the second phase, a repair and expansion to the east that took place in the 3rd century AD, after the Heruli raid (267 AD) during which many Athenian monuments were destroyed."

The restoration will continue and the first phase--the restoration of the base of the walls--will be completed by the end of the year.
As a response to yesterday's post on the festivals connected to the barley growth cycle, Karli asked me a question about the timing of festivals. Since I thought others might be wondering about the same thing, I figured I'd copy/paste from the comments and answer her question here:

"I live in Pennsylvania, maybe an hour away from the Delaware River. As you can guess, the growing seasons and weather are very different than Greece's. In your Reconstructionist opinion, how do you feel about moving festivals to reflect barley's growing in my area?
Similarly, Rural Dionysia takes place close to our secular New Year and I believe was for celebrating the opening of the latest batch of wine. My grapes don't ripen until around September, and a wine made from them wouldn't be ready until March/April with only 6 months of aging (young for a wine, a year at least is better).
Is reflecting the reason for the festival more or less important than the ancient date?"

So, I am going to give you the TL;DR reply first: it depends on the festival. Is it an agricultural one that was tied to a specific event/occurance that takes place earlier or later in your area? Then change the date as you see fit. Was it a festival not tied to the agricultural cycle and/or untied to a specific event/occurance that takes place earlier or later in your area? then keep the original date in place.

The cycle of the Proerosia, Khloaia, Kalamaia, Plerosia, Antheia and Thalysia belongs to the former category. I suspect that these celebrations shifted year after year--save for, perhaps, the Proerosia--depending on the growth of the crops. The same was most likely true for the festivals related to the grape growth and harvest. That said, it seems as if the ancient Hellenes left themselves a bit more time for those--the Rural Dionysia celebrated the growth of the vine in general, while the Anthesteria, held on the eleventh to thirteenth of the month of Anthesterion (February/March), centered around the celebration of the maturing of the wine stored at the previous vintage. These can be addapted, yes, but you might not have to.

There are other festivals that are tied to the agricultural calendar but most likely do not need adjusting. These are almost all tied to the Eleusinian Mysteries and were pretty set in stone. They celebrate the agricultural as a whole and not a specific event. Some examples are the Thesmophoria, the Haloa, and for example the Skirophoria.

Then there is another element: are you celebrating it alone or with others? Set dates are important for a group of people, especially if they are not all in the same location. I suspect this even held true in ancient Hellas, as organizing festivities for a large portion of a large city like Athens was probably only doable if you knew year afer year when which festival was held. So even if your local situation does not reflect the event for the festival, it can still celebrate the spirit of it.

I can't speak for the Theoi, but I  suspect They are smart enough to figure out what's going on down here ith us. So in the end, do what makes you feel closest to the Theoi and your local growth cycle. If you celebrate with others, keep them in mind. All in all, we are reconstructing, not reenacting: it's not a show we are putting on, it is a religion we are practicing, and a way of life. So go with what feels right based on the information we have about the ways ancients. That is most likely the best advice I can give you.