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'm looking into getting a bowl for burning my sacrifices. However, I'm terrified of getting a bowl that will crack (or...explode?) under the heat of the flame. How did you know your bowl could withstand the fire and how can I know if any bowl I'm looking at can do the same?"

When it comes to sacrificial bowls, my number one tip is this: if it can withstand the heat of the oven, it can withstand the heat of a sacrifice. This means two things: if you buy it anywhere (cooking store, departement store) and it says 'oven proof', you are usually good. Fire it up in the oven at the hottest setting for 20 minutes, let it cool down, then take it outside, start a fire and see what it does. Let it cool down and start another fire. Let it cool down and start another fire. Check it for any cracks, bubbles, weak spots and if it looks secure, you are probably safe to use it. Do a stress test like this every few months and always clean the bowl after your sacrifices so you can inspect it properly. If it starts showing imperfections, switch it out. Don't take chances with fire indoors.


"I wanted to ask if it was possible to be a Hellenic recon and still pray to other Gods on occasion (Odin and Thor for example) Did the ancient Greeks sometimes pray to non Olympian Gods? I know for instance that the Romans did. Thank you in advance."

The ancient Hellenes rather liked their Gods and not so much the Gods of others. In Athens, for example, the Decree of Diopeithes made the introduction of and belief in foreign Gods a criminal offence. They allowed outsiders to pray to their own Gods in separate temples, but in general, the ancient Hellenes prayed to their own and considered integrating other Gods into (temple) worship miasmic. If the ancient Hellenes really, really, really wanted to pray to another God, They were integrated into the pantheon through syncretism. This happened mostly with local Gods or foreign cults, including those of Cybele and the Thracian Goddess Bendis.
Syncretism functioned as a feature of Hellenistic ancient Hellenic religion, although only outside of the Hellenic empire until the time of Alexander the Great. As the empire expanded, it begun to show more syncretist features, blending Mesopotamian, Persian, Anatolian, and Egyptian elements within an Hellenic formula. The Egyptian God Amun is a good example as the ancient Hellenes developed Him as the Hellenized 'Zeus Ammon' and His worship was brought back mostly to Sparta where He even had a temple and oracle. Alexander the Great, by the way, was considered to be a son of Zeus Ammon and thus considered himself divine.
If you can and want to pray to non-Hellenic Gods is a personal choice. We don't live in ancient Hellas anymore. I don't do it because I don't want to taint my bomos and Elaion as an organisation discourages it, but if it works for you, it works for you. I'm not one to dictate what you can and cannot do. But this is the history behind why I don't.

"I want to make khernips, but I have no incense or leaves, but I do have lots of tea on hand. Could I burn those as a substitute? And if so, how do you suggest going about burning loose leaf or bagged tea safely?"

Hum... yes, you could use tea. It's not exactly traditional but it could work. I have a few issues with the concept though: a teabag will catch flame like 'omgfirehelpputitoutnowwhereismybowlomfg' and burning loose tea (from a teabag, anyway) is... I won't say impossible but setting fire to it in, for example, a spoon and dumping it in the water before it burns out would take some magnificent feats of athleticism. And you'll end up with water full of junk in it that you'll get in your hair and on your clothes and just... no. Besides, the loose tea will burn up--literally--and be a fire hazard. Truly, you are better off going to your grocery store, buying a big pot of bay leaves for a dollar and burning one of those. Cheaper, easier, and much less of a fire hazard.
"Do you know any myth about wisteria? I'd like to offer wisteria to the Gods..."

I don't, because I am fairly certain (but I am not a botanist so someone correct me if I am wrong) is a fairly modernly sprouted (sub)species of the tree. I know it developed in China first and came to Japan and the US somewhere in 1800+. I also know the ancient Hellenes reached China at some point and named 'China' 'Sinae'.

Drawing on ancient Hellenic maps and what we know if the time of Alexander the Great and his campaign, I think it's fair to say that Alexander the Great got past the Indus River, but his conquests stalled in India. So, he never fought the Chinese, and it is unlikely that he encountered them. Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria Eschate ("Alexandria the Farthest") in 329 BC, in the Furghana Valley of what is now Tajikistan. The Hellenistic descendants of these settlers probably were the first people of European descent to encounter the Chinese around 220 BC. This contact, with the efforts of the Chinese Han dynasty, led to the development of the Silk Road in the next century.

So this is the first point in time by which wisteria could have been brought to ancient Hellas--and I am not sure if the genus existed alread by then. So there are certainly no myths and I am also not sure the ancient Hellenes (or even the Romans) offered it to the Gods. But if you would like to, you can, of course!


"Is Euterpe or Apollon the theos connected to music? My theory is that when you are moved by music, beautiful lyric or sound that gives you chills and brings tears to your eyes, that it is the theoi. That they come to where the energy and passion calls them."

The short answer is 'both', and I agree that when you feel that shiver run down your spine, there is a touch of the divine in the tunes you hear.

The Muses (Μοῦσαι) are either three or nine in number, depending on the source. Plutarch, in his Quaestiones Conviviviales, named three Muses; Melete (Practice), Mneme (Memory), and Aoede (Song), but Hesiod described nine of them in his Theogony; Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Thaleia/Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsikhore (dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia/Polymnia (sacred poetry) and Urania (astronomy). Due to the influence of Hesiod, Hómēros and others of their time, it's the nine Muses we now go with.

These nine muses were born from Zeus and his aunt and fifth wife, Mnemosyne, who was the personification of memory. The Muses, back then, were simply Deities, in charge of Their own aspects of mortal life. Euterpe was the 'Giver of light', for example. Their function and status as Muses was a later, Roman, addition.

The muses are well represented in both mythology as Hellenic art. Not only does nearly every hero, poet and even some of the Theoi call out for Them when They're in a bind, but there is even a tragic story in which nine young women get turned into birds for their hubris. In this myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon named his nine beautiful and talented daughters after the muses and went on to boast that the Pierides--his daughters--were equal or even better in their arts than the Muses ever were. Needless to say, neither the Muses, nor the Gods took to this kindly. As punishment for his hubris, Pierus had to watch as his beautiful daughters were transformed into Magpies.

Apollon Mousagetēs, an epithet of Apollon, is said to lead the Muses. His name means 'Apollon Muse-leader'. As such, he can be seen depicted on vases and murals with the Muses.