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.