We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for The International Rescue Committee! Together, they have raised $ 65,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.

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. Please pitch your cause before March 9th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
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:
  • I've made a dent in answering reader questions. If you're still waiting for an answer, sorry! Feel free to send your questions again!
  • I've been going through my tags in the right hand menu and weeding out weird and disused ones, making it easier to search my blog.
  • I have linked Blogger to Facebook! That means my Facebook page is now up to date every day!
PAT rituals for Elaphebolion:
  • 3/5 - Elaphebolion 6 - Elaphebolia - festival in honor of Artemis
  • 3/7 - Elaphebolion 8 - Asklepieia - festival in honor of Asklēpiós
  • 3/9 - 3/16 - Elaphebolion 10 - 17 - Greater (City) Dionysia - in honor of Dionysos
  • 3/14 - Elaphebolion 15 - Galaxia - festival in honor of the Mother of the Gods (Rhea), Kronos, Zeus and Hera
  • 3/15 - Elaphebolion 16 - Sacrifice to Semele and Dionysos and Erkhia
  • 3/16 - Elaphebolion 17 - Pandia - festival in honor of Zeus, following the Greater Dionysia

Anything else?
The The International Rescue Committee has become Pandora's Kharis' Anthesterion 2017 cause. The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.

The deadline to donate is tomorrow, February 28th, 2017. 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!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
I'm having one of days where I woke up tired and will go to bed tired in equal measure. Time for some thoughts about sleep, specifically those of Heraclitus, because why not?

Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος, Hērákleitos ho Ephésios) was a pre-Socratic Hellenic philosopher who lived from about 535 to about 475 BC. He was a native of the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. Heraclitus was and is famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe. This is most tellingly stated in his quote: 'No man ever steps in the same river twice'. Not much has been preserved of Heraclitus' teachings. His words are mere fragments in the works of others now. I would like to give you those who relate to his views on sleep and rest today.

"Though this Word is true evermore, yet men are as unable to understand it when they hear it for the first time as before they have heard it at all. For, though, all things come to pass in accordance with this Word, men seem as if they had no experience of them, when they make trial of words and deeds such as I set forth, dividing each thing according to its nature and showing how it truly is. But other men know not what they are doing when awake, even as they forget what they do in sleep." [Sextus Empiricus, Against the mathematicians, VII, 132]

"All the things we see when awake are death, even as all we see in slumber are sleep." [Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, III, 3, 21, 1]

"We ought not to act and speak as if we were asleep." [Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, IV, 46]

"Those who are asleep are fellow-workers..." [Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VI, 42]

"And it is the same thing in us that is quick and dead, awake and asleep, young and old; the former are shifted and become the latter, and the latter in turn are shifted and become the former." [Pseudo-Plutarch, Consolation to Apollonius, 106 E.]

"The waking have one common world, but the sleeping turn aside each into a world of his own." [Plutarch, On superstition, 3, 166 C.]

"It is sickness that makes health pleasant and good; hunger, satiety; weariness, rest." [Stobaeus, Anthology, III, 1, 177]
Yesterday I posted about Sophia Pavlaki initiative to build an educational program around ancient Hellenic toys. This is but one example how Greeks and non-Greeks alike are trying to bridge between now and then. We're at the cusp of (or perhaps even in the middle of) a resurgence of ancient Hellenic stories themed entertainment content. And there is a good reason why.


This summer will see writers from Colm Tóibin to Natalie Haynes put a fresh spin on ancient tragedies, while Hellenic myths continue to inspire every thing from young adult fiction and children’s literature--the Waterstones children’s book of the month for February is Maz Evans’ riotous Who Let The Gods Out?--to urban fantasies such as Jordanna Max Brodsky’s Olympus Bound series. Even television is set to get in on the act: Troy: Fall of a City, the BBC’s much-anticipated Trojan war drama, starts filming next month and will air in 2018.

Melissa Cox is editorial director at Hodder & Stoughton, whose Sceptre imprint recently published a short story collection, How Much the Heart Can Hold, in which seven writers including Donal Ryan, Bernadine Evaristo and Nikesh Shukla look at seven Hellenic definitions of love. She says:

"What we’re seeing is that the times we are living in have forced us to acknowledge that there is a darkness in humanity. The Greek tragedies, those stories of darkness and obsession and revenge, resonate because we’re living in dark times and these are dark stories. As an editor, if someone came to me with a book inspired by Greek mythology, I’d be very excited."

Derek Wax, executive producer of Troy: Fall of a City, agrees.

"David Farr [the show’s writer] and I went to the site of Troy and it really brought home how these great mythical events illuminate what’s going on at the moment. We were standing where eight or nine other cities have stood, near to Gallipoli, the epicentre of other conflicts, and close to where refugees were leaving on boats for Lesbos. It showed us that little has changed since Homer wrote of the devastation of war."

Just as there are many versions of Hellenic tragedies and myths, so there are many different ways for an author to recast the tale, in particular by allowing the story’s women to take centre stage. Thus Tóibin’s elegant House of Names takes the fall of the House of Agamemnon, which forms the basis of a number of Greek plays and stories, including Aeschylus’s Oresteia, Euripides’ Orestes and Sophocles’ Electra, and tells it from the point of view of Clytemnestra, grieving mother, adulterous wife, and murderer. Meanwhile Haynes’ The Children of Jocasta retells the story of Oedipus through the eyes of his wife (and mother) Jocasta and their youngest daughter, Ismene. She explains:

"I was drawn to Jocasta because she has so few lines in Sophocles’ play, which seems amazing when you consider that her actions drive the story. It’s fascinating that the play constantly highlights how clever and quick-witted Oedipus is and how that’s his fatal flaw, but no one ever mentions how smart Jocasta is as well – she is the one who figures out why they’re cursed. She gets there before he does and I thought she would be an interesting way into the tale."

She picked the lesser-known Ismene over her flashier sister Antigone (herself the subject of a Sophocles play) for a specific reason:

"[I chose her] because she’s this lovely, overlooked sort of person who is left just as grief-stricken as Antigone, and who suffers the same losses she does – more – by the end of the play. She’s collateral damage. Giving her a voice gave her the chance to shine."

A similar motivation propels Emily Hauser’s 2016 debut novel For The Most Beautiful, which looks at the Trojan war through the two female slaves, Briseis and Chryseis, whose role as spoils of war kickstarts the action of The Iliad, causing Agamemnon and Achilles to fall out.

"Their role is so central to everything that happens and yet they’re also incredibly marginalised characters. I thought it would be really interesting to look at The Iliad from that perspective, because once you start seeing it through the eyes of women, and women who have been captured as slaves at that, it gives the whole story a different tenor and makes us consider what the true cost of war might be."

Her next novel For The Winner, due out in June, looks at the story of Jason and the Argonauts through Atalanta, the only woman on the journey, who would later famously lose a race after being distracted by golden apples as she ran.

"I’ve always found Atalanta’s story interesting because it seems so obviously told from a male perspective of a woman being easily distracted. I started thinking about why she would allow that to happen, and the book is an attempt to explain what her motivation might have been in that final race."

But is there an audience for these modern takes on ancient tales? Wax says there definitely is.

"We were very clear that we didn’t want this series to be a sword-and-sandals epic. This is a story about complex family dynamics, about identity, betrayal and belonging. There are huge emotional depths to these stories – many of which are later explored by the writers of the Greek tragedies who reinterpret them as their own – and we felt, why not do the same ourselves? It’s a completely different time, yet one that feels strangely similar. These myths may be 3,000 years old but the story they tell still grips."

Haynes agrees.

"I made a documentary for Radio 4 about the links between Greek tragedy and modern day soap operas. All those stories about generation against generation and brothers at war come directly from Greek tragedy and we’re still drawing on them today. I also recently gave a talk at a secondary school about Oedipus and when we got to the climax of the tale there were gasps. That’s not my gift as storyteller – that’s the calibre of the story being told. They resonate because they are so good."

The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes is published by Mantle on 4 May; The House of Names by Colm Tóibin is published by Viking on 18 May; For The Winner by Emily Hauser is published by Doubleday on 15 June.
Greek native Sophia Pavlaki resides in Belgium where she is the producer and executive producer of Greektoys, a project aimed at promoting the Greek culture to children via ancient Hellenic toys. The educational project known as The Greektoys children’s revolution® also involves creating the animated series “Greektoys,” writing articles and research related to ancient Hellenic toys, writing music and creating the 3D-virtual museum where models of ancient Hellenic toys are exhibited.

Archaeologists have uncovered all sorts of toys at sites in areas previously part og the ancient Hellenic territory. Many of the toys that ancient Hellenic children enjoyed were similar to toys of today. They played with rattles (platagi), tops (stromvos), hoops and pull toys as well as figurines in the shapes of animals (athyrma). The yo-yo, or something close to it, may have been created in ancient Hellas. It was made out of two terra cotta discs and was simply called a disc.

Like today, there were also toys meant just for girls and others meant just for boys. Boys often played with toy chariots and girls usually played with dolls. Some dolls from ancient Hellas even had moving arms and legs. Some dolls were made from ivory and glass but most were made from terra cotta. Interestingly enough, some were even made with human hair, others were made of rags, clay or wax. Some had holes in the top of their heads for a string that led up to a disk that could be held and moved to make the puppet dance.

Three toys from ancient Hellas are the main characters of the series. Valios is a little horse-toy made of clay, Lilly is a rattle and Filon is a baby’s milk bottle in a pig shape. Our little friends live adventures and travel in other countries where they meet toys of other civilizations.

Using the ancient relics has been a hit as children are able to lose themselves in a land of make-believe in the video series as well as with a free e-book available here. Pavlaki explained on the greektoys.org website that:

"We use the games because it is something familiar and instantly recognizable for children, used as a link from antiquity to the present day. It is a bridge to introduce children to the culture of antiquity. So we believe that starting with the games interest will wake them and will make it easier to reach all the other elements of cultural heritage."

For more information about Greektoys and to watch their videos see greektoys.org. Also check out the video below to see for yourself how children’s toys from antiquity are still serving an important educational purpose today.

I adore this initiative! I think it's a brilliant way to introduce kids to ancient Hellenic culture in a way that shows that more than 2000+ years later, very little has changed. It's brilliant.
Most of the ancient Hellenic islands have an origin story, recorded in ancient Hellenic writings. One of my favorites is that of Rhodes. Rhodes (Ρόδος, Ródos) is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of land area and also the island group's historical capital. It is located northeast of Crete, southeast of Athens and just off the Anatolian coast of Turkey. In ancient times, it was home to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

It's Pindar who recounts the founding myth of the island. He explains how the island was a gift to Helios after the Gods divided the world between Them and there was nothing left for Him. Zeus raised the island from the depths of the ocean and Helios lay with the nymph Rhodos who came into existence with it. From their union came three children, and the cities that were established on Rhodes were named for their three sons. From Pindar's odes:

"Now the ancient story of men saith that when Zeus and the other gods made division of the earth among them, not yet was island Rhodes apparent in the open sea, but in the briny depths lay hid. And for that Helios was otherwhere, none drew a lot for him; so they left him portionless of land, that holy god. And when he spake thereof Zeus would cast lots afresh; but he suffered him not, for that he said that beneath the hoary sea he saw a certain land waxing from its root in earth, that should bring forth food for many men, and rejoice in flocks. And straightway he bade her of the golden fillet, Lachesis ['disposer of lots', one of the Moirai], to stretch her hands on high, nor violate the gods' great oath, but with the son of Kronos promise him that the isle sent up to the light of heaven should be thenceforth a title of himself alone.

And in the end of the matter his speech had fulfilment; there sprang up from the watery main an island, and the father who begetteth the keen rays of day hath the dominion thereof, even the lord of fire-breathing steeds. There sometime having lain with Rhodos he begat seven sons, who had of him minds wiser than any among the men of old; and one begat Kameiros, and Ialysos his eldest, and Lindos: and they held each apart their shares of cities, making threefold division of their father's land, and these men call their dwelling-places. There is a sweet amends for his piteous ill-hap ordained for Tlepolemos leader of the Tirynthians at the beginning, as for a god, even the leading thither of sheep for a savoury burnt-offering, and the award of honour in games." [Pythian Odes VII]

I enjoy this story because it's nothing but fair and filled with respect. Zeus realized Helios--one of the most important Titans in regards to life on earth--had been denied His fair share and so He granted Him one of the grandest islands of the ancient Hellenic world and through the island's guardian nymph strong children. It's soothing and beautiful. Blessed be Rhodes!
Every once in a while, I take it upon myself to introduce Gods and Goddesses my readers might not be familiar with. Today, this is the Goddess Hebe.

Hebe (Ἡβη) is the Goddess of youth and the cupbearer of the Gods who serves ambrosia at the heavenly feasts. She is also the patron Goddess of the young bride and an attendant of Aphrodite. This is unsurprising when you know Her father is Zeus and Her mother is Hera. Her husband is the hero Hēraklēs.

       Khaos ------------ Gaea
           |         |
Ouranos --- |
                 Kronos --- Rhea
                      Zeus --- Hera

For a relatively minor Goddess, Hebe has quite a bit of mythology to Her name. Her parentage is mentioned by Hesiod, Apollodorus, Kallimachos, Pausanias and Hyginus. According to the ancient writers, Hebe's day was taken up by to major jobs: be a cupbearer to the Gods and be a handmaiden to her mother Hera. She also tended to Her brother Ares when He returned from war. A few choice selections of Homeros, in 'The Iliad', on these tasks:

"Now the gods at the side of Zeus were sitting in council over the golden floor, and among them the goddess Hebe (Youth) poured them nectar as wine, while they in the golden drinking-cups drank to each other, gazing down on the city of the Trojans." [4. 1]

"Hera, high goddess, daughter of Kronos the mighty, went away to harness the gold-bridled horses. Then Hebe in speed set about the chariot the curved wheels eight-spoked and brazen, with an axle or iron both ways. Golden is the wheel's felly imperishable, and outside it is joined, a wonder to look upon, the brazen running-rim, and the silver naves revolve on either side of the chariot, whereas the car itself is lashed fast with plaiting of gold and silver, with double chariot rails that circle about it, and the pole of the chariot is of silver, to whose extremity Hebe made fast the golden and splendid yoke, and fastened the harness, golden and splendid, and underneath the yoke Hera, furious for hate and battle, led the swift-running horses." [5. 720]

"Hebe washed him [Ares returning from battle] clean and put delicate clothing upon him." [5. 905]

To the ancient Hellenes, youth was of great importance as it was linked to aesthetic beauty--an ideal held very high throughout Hellas. It was said (in part because She poured it) that the nectar of the Gods was what kept Them forever youthful and thus immortal. Hebe was the epitome of subservience and thus was a role model for maidens and an ideal to men. This side of her also aided in Her coming to fulfil another role in ancient Hellenic society: that of a Goddess of pardons and extended forgiveness. Freed prisoners sacrificed to Her in order to restore some of their youthful innocence. In fact, at Hebe's sanctuary at Phlius, prisoners would hang their chains on the branches of the trees in the grove dedicated to her as a form of supplication. This is mentioned by Pausanias in his 'Description of Greece':
"On the Phliasian citadel [at Phlios in Argolis] is a grove of cypress trees and a sanctuary which from ancient times has been held to be peculiarly holy. The earliest Phliasians named the goddess to whom the sanctuary belongs Ganymeda; but later authorites call her Hebe, whom Homer mentions in the duel between Menelaos (Menelaus) and Alexandros (Alexander), saying that she was the cup-bearer of the gods; and again he says, in the descent of Odysseus to Haides, that she was the wife of Herakles. Olen [a legendary Greek poet], in his hymn to Hera, says that Hera was reared by the Horai (Horae, Seasons), and that her children were Ares and Hebe. Of the honours that the Phliasians pay to this goddess the greatest is the pardoning of suppliants. All those who seek sanctuary here receive full forgiveness, and prisoners, when set free, dedicate their fetters on the trees in the grove. The Phliasians also celebrate a yearly festival which they call Kissotomoi (Ivy-cutters). There is no image, either kept in secret of openly displayed, and the reason for this is set forth in a sacred legend of theirs though on the left as you go out is a temple of Hera with an image of Parian marble." [2. 13. 3]

Herakles, perhaps the greatest of all ancient Hellenic heroes, received Hebe as his wife once he ascended to Olympos as a God. Homeros mentions it, Hesiod does, it's even in the Homeic Hymns. The best explination of why Herakles was given Hebe especially as his wife is perhaps best given by Philostratos, though, in his 'Images':

"Before long you [Herakles] will live with them in the sky, drinking, and embracing the beautiful Hebe; for you are to marry the youngest of the gods and the one most revered by them, since it is through her that they also are young." [2. 20]
I'm just going to say it: every time news about the Parthenon Marbles comes up, I'm shocked we're still talking about it. That getting them back to Greece is still a topic of discussion. I hope to be proven wrong one day but I just cannot see Britain sending these valuable pieces to Greece, period. At least not without massive political pressure--and I am sure that with Brexit, the EU has better things to demand of Britain than the return of these antiques. But there is news again--of a sort.

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

It seems that the reunification of the Parthenon Marble with the monument itself is part of the issues that archaeologists from around the world will talk about in the Palazzo dei Congressi in Florence under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Tourism. In the conference that started on Sunday and will last a total of three day, the Greek Minister of Culture Lydia Koniordou stated that 'in a changing and challenging world, it is important to inspire to our youth the interest for the importance of cultural'.

The issue has gone since 2016 into a diplomatic path rather than a legal one. Before the conference, Mrs. Koniordou sat on a round-table coordination meeting with the 25 international committees for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, where the new Italian committee also presented its new president, the archaeologist Louis Godart.

On another but somewhat related note: the Parthenon has been voted the most beautiful building in the world by the architects of Bussiness Insider. The first place ranking was explained as follows by Imani, the founding architect of Tara Imani Design:

"It's the quintessential beautiful architectural form. The Doric order, the use of entasis [a slight curve in columns] to make sure the columns didn't look spindly from a distance...the siting on a hilltop — it gave us our initial ABCs of architecture that we keep trying to use and improve upon today."

So say we all!
An olive grove in Bursa, Turkey has revealed what experts are hoping is just the beginning to a treasure trove of ancient Hellenic archaeology. Experts are predicting that the area could be a necropolis--a large and ancient cemetery with elaborate burial chambers.

Three more ancient burial chambers from the Late Antiquity period have been discovered in an olive grove in Turkey's western Bursa province. Officials from İznik Museum Directorate have reportedly covered the sarcophagi, while gendarmerie teams are on guard 24 hours a day to ensure the security of the ancient tombs until an expert team of archaeologists arrive from Ankara to start the excavation.

The sarcophagi were reportedly found in an olive grove belonging to Hatice Süren near the Hisardere district, 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from İznik's (Nicea) town center. They feature covers with unique reliefs of Eros covered in lotus flowers and figures with lion's heads. Burial chambers previously discovered in the region also had depictions of mythological figures, such as the Greek god of love Eros, as well as Herakles and Medusa. The sarcophagi reportedly weigh between 4 to 6 tons and are estimated to be between 1,800 to 2,000 years old.

In September, police teams searching the area for a stolen truck discovered a sarcophagus in the same olive grove. Treasure hunters had discovered the tomb and damaged its cover when they tried to unearth it, possibly in search of gold and other valuables they thought would be inside. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been carrying out expropriation work after the discovery of ancient sarcophagi from the third century AD.

Another sarcophagus belonging to a queen was found near the area in 2015. It was also thought to be from the Late Antiquity period and weighed 7 tons. When it was discovered, officials found that treasure hunters had already found and raided it.

The area where the tombs were found has historically been referred to as the Bithynia region, which was a Roman province from the fourth century BC.
I was recently asked the following question:

"Theoretically what would be the colours of hellenismos. Something like white and red or blue and marble. It would be useful to know and I would like your opinion on that matter. Thanks and may the Gods bless you."

Interesting notion, the colours of Hellenismos. I think by now we all know that the statues and even the temples we're so used to seeing in a virgin white looked stunningly different in antiquity. They were painted with a palette that displayed a sophisticated understanding of color and shading. They liked their colours bold--yellows, reds, blues and of course gold. We might see these colours as gaudy, but the purer the colour, the more expensive it was to make.

the original colors of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures 4

One might say we should bank on primary colours for the colours of Hellenismos but there is a small complication: there is quite a surprising amount of scientific, literary and archaeological evidence that the ancient Hellenes perceived colour differently than we do today

Homéros describes only five 'colours': metallics, black, white, yellow-green, and red). Philosopher Empedocles, centuries later, believed that all colour was limited to four categories: white/light, dark/black, red, and yellow. Xenophanes, another philosopher, described the rainbow as having but three bands of colour: porphyra (dark purple), khloros, and erythros (red). By the way, did you know there is no word for 'blue' in ancient Greek? Not in the Bible either, by the way. I find this especially amusing because modern Greece thrives on blue. It's in the flag, art, architecture, you name it. The ancient Hellenes had blue paint, of course, but it might have looked entirely different to them than it does to us.

So where does the leave us? If we're going for official colours, I would still say we go with the primary colours and add green and gold. Marble is a material, not a colour so that doesn't really count. All in all, I think this is a good pallet to base things off of:

the original colors of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures
King Kroisos (Κροῖσος), the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 BC, was one of the wealthiest, most powerful, most impressive kings in the history of ancient Hellas. In fact, there is an English saying that goes: as rich as (or richer than) Croesus, the Latinized version of his name. Even though he was a man of great fortune, his life was not without its ups and downs. For one, Kroisos lost a son, Atys, after he dreamt Atys would die "by the blow of an iron weapon". Kroisos kept Atys out of wars, removed all weapons from the house, but eventually he was accidentally killed by a ally on a boar hunt.

It was, perhaps, this experience that caused Kroisos to seek out the counsel of oracles when he set out to combat the Persians, who were gaining ground. Divination played a fairly large role in Hellenic every day life. Oracles given directly, like at Delphi, were rare and called chesmomancy. All other forms of divination practiced in ancient Hellas were performed by seers, not oracles. The biggest difference between oracles and seers was that oracles gave long answers which usually needed some for of interpretation while seers usually answered yes-or-no questions.

Divination of any kind was rarely turned to, to predict the future. To desire knowledge of the future was considered hubris. Instead, oracles and seers were petitioned to help answer questions about the present or to advice on a decision which had to be made in the very near future; 'Shall I go to war?', ' Shall I put my sheep out on the high pasture?'. This is what Kroisos did. As Herodotos has recorded in his 'Histories':

"With this design he resolved to make instant trial of the several oracles in Greece, and of the one in Libya. So he sent his messengers in different directions, some to Delphi, some to Abae in Phocis, and some to Dodona; others to the oracle of Amphiaraus; others to that of Trophonius; others, again, to Branchidae in Milesia. These were the Greek oracles which he consulted. To Libya he sent another embassy, to consult the oracle of Ammon. These messengers were sent to test the knowledge of the oracles, that, if they were found really to return true answers, he might send a second time, and inquire if he ought to attack the Persians.

The messengers who were dispatched to make trial of the oracles were given the following instructions: they were to keep count of the days from the time of their leaving Sardis, and, reckoning from that date, on the hundredth day they were to consult the oracles, and to inquire of them what Croesus the son of Alyattes, king of Lydia, was doing at that moment. The answers given them were to be taken down in writing, and brought back to him. None of the replies remain on record except that of the oracle at Delphi. There, the moment that the Lydians entered the sanctuary, and before they put their questions, the Pythoness thus answered them in hexameter verse:-

I can count the sands, and I can measure the ocean;
I have ears for the silent, and know what the dumb man meaneth;
Lo! on my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered tortoise,
Boiling now on a fire, with the flesh of a lamb, in a cauldron-
Brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above it.

These words the Lydians wrote down at the mouth of the Pythoness as she prophesied, and then set off on their return to Sardis. When all the messengers had come back with the answers which they had received, Croesus undid the rolls, and read what was written in each. Only one approved itself to him, that of the Delphic oracle. This he had no sooner heard than he instantly made an act of adoration, and accepted it as true, declaring that the Delphic was the only really oracular shrine, the only one that had discovered in what way he was in fact employed." [Bk. 1]

Kroisos was elated and made the requested offering, then sent a massive amount of treasure to Delphi in gratitude and supplication. He also sent with it another question, the most important one:

"The messengers who had the charge of conveying these treasures to the shrines, received instructions to ask the oracles whether Croesus should go to war with the Persians and if so, whether he should strengthen himself by the forces of an ally. Accordingly, when they had reached their destinations and presented the gifts, they proceeded to consult the oracles in the following terms:- 'Croesus, of Lydia and other countries, believing that these are the only real oracles in all the world, has sent you such presents as your discoveries deserved, and now inquires of you whether he shall go to war with the Persians, and if so, whether he shall strengthen himself by the forces of a confederate.' Both the oracles agreed in the tenor of their reply, which was in each case a prophecy that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire, and a recommendation to him to look and see who were the most powerful of the Greeks, and to make alliance with them."

Kroisos figured this meant he would succeed in his war against the Persians and he set out to do just that. Fast forward a whole lot (seriously, the Histories go into glorious but very lengthy detail of this whole campaign and the many, many oracular messages that drove Kroisos forward), to where Kroisos is on the eve of attack.

"Meanwhile Croesus, taking the oracle in a wrong sense, led his forces into Cappadocia, fully expecting to defeat Cyrus and destroy the empire of the Persians. [...] When Cyrus beheld the Lydians arranging themselves in order of battle on this plain, fearful of the strength of their cavalry, he adopted a device which Harpagus, one of the Medes, suggested to him. He collected together all the camels that had come in the train of his army to carry the provisions and the baggage, and taking off their loads, he mounted riders upon them accoutred as horsemen. These he commanded to advance in front of his other troops against the Lydian horse; behind them were to follow the foot soldiers, and last of all the cavalry. The two armies then joined battle, and immediately the Lydian war-horses, seeing and smelling the camels, turned round and galloped off; and so it came to pass that all Croesus's hopes withered away. [...] They were driven within their walls and the Persians laid siege to Sardis.

Sardis [was] taken by the Persians, and Croesus himself fell into their hands, after having reigned fourteen years, and been besieged in his capital fourteen days; thus too did Croesus fulfill the oracle,
which said that he should destroy a mighty empire by destroying his own."

The ancient Hellenes trusted the Gods--and the Gods were right. The meaning of Their words weren't always clear, however, and most were only interpretable after the events took place. We live in an age where fewer and fewer people listen to the Gods--let alone Their predictions. We now listen to the promises of politicians like we used to listen to the words of the Gods. Those that shout the hardest get the most ears turned. I don't want to say that some oracles in ancient Hellas could be bought, but I will most certainly say politicians can be bought. And they are bought. So be careful listening to these modern "oracles" who say they can predict the future. Don't end up like King Kroisos, who was only saved from death by chance--or perhaps divine intervention.
Elaion members and other interested parties currently take part in a multiple day event for the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries, like we did for the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries last year. In the middle of the Lesser Mysteries is another festival, one that seems very minor, but which was very widespread in ancient Hellas. From Athens, to Erkhia, to Agria, the night of the twenty-third of the month of Anthesterion was reserved for the Diasia, an ancient festival--even back then--dedicated to Zeus Meilichios. The Diasia was a hugely important festival, because it was a festival full of rites of placation and purification. In the daylight hours of February 20th, 10 AM EST, Elaion will host a PAT rite for the Diasia, and we encourage everyone to take part.

The Diasia is a complicated and very old festival. It has a mixture of Ouranic and Khthonic elements because it's related to purification; its intended purpose was to remove miasma and to bring prosperity. Ouranic influences are in the raised altar that was improvised, and in the fact that it was held during the daylight hours. Khthonic influences can be found in the fact that the sacrifice was given in a holókaustos and khoe, and that the actual festival took place outside of the city walls so as to carry miasma out of it (this is a practice more commonly seen during Hekate's Deipnon where a sacrifice was taken out of the house so the household would be purified).

Like with Hekate's Deipnon, the members of the household would touch a sacrificial animal during the Diasia before it was sacrificed, believing the miasma they carried would be transferred into it and then burned away. Old practices for Hekate's Deipnon included the same to be done with a dog. It was a grim festival, not a joyous one and it could have been quite scary for kids. As such, the festival was wrapped up with a communal meal that was usually lavish and kids were sometimes presented with a new toy. The day was ended on a happy not, because the family was now purified and Zeus Meilichios would watch over it and the crops. You can read more about the Diasia here and I highly encourage that you do so. The Diasia is special and because of its Khthonic character it was seen as somewhat dangerous if you messed it up. Understanding this festival is essential to any who participate in it.

The ritual for the Diasia can be found here. Please note that libations to Zeus Meilichios are khernips (water) libations and that all sacrifices are to be wholly burnt; they are given as a holókaustos. You are not to share in any liquid or foodstuff that you sacrifice to Zeus Meilichios. The Diasia calls for a sacrifice of an animal, or a cake version of it (namely a sheep or pig). Here is a recipe for ancient Hellenic honey cakes which you can use to make these (grain free version here). Please join the community page here to share your experience with others.
Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has rejected Gucci’s request to host and film a fashion show at the archaeological site of the Acropolis this summer.

'Haute couture with the quintessence of classical antiquity as the backdrop' was the idea proposed by iconic multinational Gucci. The Italian luxury goods and fashion producer asked for a June 1, 2017 fashion show held in front of the Parthenon, the best-known monument on the Acropolis. Beyond a permit to hold the event, Gucci has also petitioned for a license to film the fashion show. The Italian company representatives spoke of a long catwalk between the Erechtheion and the north side of the Parthenon or west of the Erechtheion, a large tent set up as a dressing room and 7-8 meter-tall metal pillars for loudspeakers. The guest number would be around the 300 mark, with 10% being Greeks, 80% European and American fashion magazine editors and 10% Hollywood stars.

Gucci had proposed to offer a 2-million-euro grant for restoration works on the Acropolis Hill, or any other project the Ministry of Culture chose, for permission to stage a 15-minute show. Gucci representatives also claimed that the Acropolis Hill and Parthenon would receive great publicity since Hollywood stars and other luminaries would be among the guests.

Initial reports out of the Greek capital, however, had warned the relevant state-run antiquities ephorate (department) that oversees the specific archaeological site as being reluctant to sign-off on the Gucci request. And, indeed, KAS rejected the request.

"The particular cultural character of the Acropolis monuments is inconsistent with this event, as these are unique monuments, world heritage symbols and Unesco world heritage sites."

Speaking on public broadcaster ERT, Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou said that she agrees 100% with the KAS decision.

"The Parthenon is an important monument and universal symbol for us Greeks to protect, particularly during our continuous effort for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles."

Director of the Acropolis Museum, Dimitris Pantermalis, said:

"The Parthenon and the Acropolis do not need advertising. There would be no benefit from such an event. The point is to not degrade the (cultural) symbol by putting up a stage there, because the main subject would be the catwalk, not the Acropolis."

The final decision is left to the culture minister, following a recommendation by KAS' board.
Bias of Priene (Βίας ὁ Πριηνεύς) lived in the 6th century BC. He was a Hellenic sage and renowned for his goodness. Like many of his peer sages, he was active in politics and he appeared in court as a lawyer and was very gifted at it. He also advised kings and generals about battle strategies and seems to have made very wise decisions here also.

His biography, written by Diogenes Laertius in the late second century CE holds a very cunning story that I wanted to share with you today.

Sadyattes, son of Ardys II, of the house of the Mermnadae was King of Lydia from 624 BC to 619 BC. He was succeeded by his son Alyattes II. Sadyattes began a twelve-year war with the Ionian maritime city of Miletus that was continued by Alyattes II. According to Herodotus in his 'Histories', Alyattes invaded Miletus annually to burn their crops over the course of several years. The troops left the horses and houses untouched so that the Milesians could plant a new crop, which the Lydians would then burn the following year. This continued until the end of the war eleven years later.

As part of this campaign, Alyattes also came to Priene, home of Bias. Priene wasn't doing too well--this was well into the war and Priene struggled under Alyattes' tactics. At that time, Bias was already a very respected figure in the city so it seems he was trusted to handle the situation--and he did (if we can believe Diogenes, of course, who wrote his work on Bias several years after the man's death). He states:

"A story is told that, while Alyattes was besieging Priene, Bias fattened two mules and drove them into the camp, and that the king, when he saw them, was amazed at the good condition of the citizens actually extending to their beasts of burden. And he decided to make terms and sent a messenger. But Bias piled up heaps of sand with a layer of corn on the top, and showed them to the man, and finally, on being informed of this, Alyattes made a treaty of peace with the people of Priene. Soon afterwards, when Alyattes sent to invite Bias to his court, he replied, "Tell Alyattes, from me, to make his diet of onions," that is, to weep."

In short: Bias tricked Alyattes' into believing Priene was doing so well that it would be better to trade with them than to conquer them. Alyattes believed him and signed a peace treaty with the city so they could open up negotiations--and then Bias revealed that the city had nothing to trade. But the peace stood, because Alyattes was honour bound to upkeep it. Ha! See? Brains over brawn any day!
For the second year Elaion will be hosting the celebration of the Lesser Eleusinian Greater Mysteries. As a basic viewpoint, Elaion believes that the Mysteries need not be pursued; they are not a spiritual ‘formula’ that experimentation will eventually rediscover. That said, we also acknowledge that it's a festival many have been drawn to--both then and now--and we want to give our members a chance to celebrate it in a way that is as Recon as possible once you accept that we know far too little about it to ever accurately be so. Since the proceedings of the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret in fear of the punishment of death, we will never be able to restore these rites. But we do know a few basics and we have formulated our celebration accordingly. Please read through all information as well as the rituals before deciding to join.

The Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Goddess while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis were assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellenes. The cult itself likely had origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

The Eleusinian Mysteries consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), the Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), the Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), the Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), the Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year.

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

The Mysteries were obviously celebrated to honor Demeter--Demeter Eleusinia, specifically. Through the honoring of Demeter, the ancient Hellenes prayed for a good harvest, and through the worship of Persephone--Kore--those who were initiated in the Mysteries assured they would be looked upon favorably in the Afterlife.

The Lesser Mysteries were not always a part of the mysteries; around the middle of the fifth century BC, Eleusinian officials decreed that the Lesser Mysteries could serve as a necessary prerequisite to the Greater Mysteries. From that point on, they took place at a shrine located near the Ilissos river, from 20 to 26 Anthesterion, while they had most likely taken place at a special building at Eleusis, the Telesterion, before that. The river is located between Athens and Eleusis, and served as a meeting point when Athenian and Eleusinian worshippers came together. The location is also important for another reason: it was said to be the place where the first Lesser Mysteries were held; the place where Hēraklēs underwent purification before his initiation, so he could travel to the Underworld and not forget who he was, and through that, make sure he could get back to the surface world.

Hēraklēs, son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene (Ἀλκμήνη)--who was a bane in Hera's life, simply for being born--was stricken mad by the Queen of the Gods and killed his five sons by his wife Megara (Μεγάρα), oldest daughter of Kreōn (Κρέων) of Thebes. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings.

First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Hēraklēs to serve the king of Tiryns (Τίρυνς), Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Hēraklēs with these labors--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Hēraklēs. Hēraklēs was told to: slay the Nemean Lion, slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, capture the Golden Hind of Artemis, capture the Erymanthian Boar, clean the Augean stables in a single day, slay the Stymphalian Birds, capture the Cretan Bull, steal the Mares of Diomedes, obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon, steal the apples of the Hesperides, and to capture and bring back Kerberos.

This twelfth labor caused a problem for Hēraklēs, because he had to enter the Underworld to capture Kerbaros, and come back up, something that the Underworld was not intended for. Yesterday I explained how the river Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, runs through the Underworld, and all who come to the afterworld are eventually forced to drink from it in order to forget their old lives. Those who were initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, however, could drink from the fountain (or well) of Mnemosyne (memory) and were allowed to remember. Hēraklēs had to go through the mysteries, but initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries excluded those who were guilty of murder, and of course Hēraklēs was quite guilty of that. He was tainted not only with the miasma of killing his family, but also for killing the kentaur Nessus (Νέσσος), the kentaur who carried Hēraklēs' third wife Deïaneira (Δῃάνειρα) over the river Evinos (Εύηνος), and was killed by Hēraklēs for attempting to abduct and rape her.

Hēraklēs traveled to Eleusis in search for a way into the mysteries. Eventually, the officials of the mysteries decided that, in order for Hēraklēs to take part, he would have to be cleansed of the blood of his crimes first. As such, he was put through a rite, most likely at the shrine at the Ilissos river. Hēraklēs was cleansed, and eventually, he was initiated into the mysteries. He traveled to the Underworld--aided by a lot of Theoi--and eventually, he returned successful in his quest. For the ancient regular mortal, returning from the Underworld was not the goal. They did, however, want to be initiated. In order to qualify for initiation, participants would sacrifice a piglet to Demeter and Persephone.

In ancient texts, the rituals of the Lesser Mysteries were often referred to as 'myesis', as opposed to the rites of the Greater, which were referred to as 'epopteia'. The word myesis means 'to teach', as well as 'to initiate', while epopteia has a similar meaning, but with an important difference; it means 'to witness', as well as 'to be initiated'. This difference equates the major difference between the two rites: in the Lesser Mysteries, candidates underwent a teaching course. They were educated on the gifts of Demeter, on the mythology surrounding Her and Her daughter, and on the mysteries. They went through a rite of purification--possibly in the river. Upon completion of the Lesser Mysteries, participants were deemed mystai ('initiates') worthy of witnessing the Greater Mysteries.

While what exactly happens on which day, is completely unknown due to the vow of silence--which was most likely placed upon the seekers the first day. What we do know from artwork is that a pig was sacrificed on a eschára, a low-lying altar to the khthonic deities--most likely Persephone. Also sacrificed by the seeker was a stack of flat cakes called 'pelanoi', although the actual sacrifice is not depicted. A priest gave a libation, and may also have burned poppies, a plant linked to both Demeter and Persephone, as Demeter might have used it to relief the burden of Her grief over losing Her daughter. Other options for offerings include pomegranates, the seeds of the pomegranate, cakes, or cheese.

The seeker was--assumable after this sacrifice--told of Demeter and Persephone, and he or she might have been seated on a chair, coated by a ram's fleece, while these stories were told to them. Again, we know this from artwork, but we do not know why they were seated as such, save that Demeter also sat on a chair with a ram's fleece on it as she grieves over Persephone's abduction. A ram appears to have been a favored sacrificial animal for Persephone, so it might be that the ram--minus its fleece--was sacrificed as well.

Next--and I use this term loosely, because we have no idea about the order of things--the seeker was blindfolded and led on a journey--either physically, or as a meditative exercise. As a journey into the Underworld is also a journey into the darkness, one can assume this was the main goal of the exercise; for the seeker to feel he or she was being led deeper into the mysteries of the Underworld, deeper into a sense of sacredness and trust in the Theoi and priests who overlooked the mysteries, and deeper into him or herself, possibly to face their own crimes and impure actions. Anyone who has ever walked to an initiation in a blindfold knows the power of the act. It brings a finality, a true sense of entering a new world, and a leaving behind of the old. It may be that especially the latter was the goal of this exercise; a continuation of the purification that started with sacrifices.

During the blindfold exercise, a winnowing fan, a 'liknon', which was used to separate wheat from the chaff was held over the head of the seeker. It's a common symbol of Dionysos, and withing the mysteries, it may have signified the separation of the soul from the body--a start of the preparation for the demise of the seeker at the end of life, and the control they would have not to drink from Lethe.

After this ritual, the seeker was purified, and 'brought before Demeter'. This was most likely a priestess representing the Theia for the rite. She was seated on the kiste--a basket which held the ritual items used in the Greater Mysteries--and on her lap (or somewhere close) would be a snake. The seeker had to reach out and touch the snake, to show they had no fear of death, nor dying. It appears this was the final step in completing the Lesser Mysteries, and becoming a mystes, but there may have been be a dozen more rites the seeker would have had to go through that were lost in time.

Because so much is lost of the mysteries, celebrating the Lesser Mysteries as a modern Hellenist is virtually impossible. We'll give it a try, though, while being fully aware that it's a mere shadow of itat best. For those who wish to join us, the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries will be a seven day event, starting on February 17th and ending on February 23th. Many of the days will be study days with meditations of smaller rituals in order to understand the mythology and reasoning behind the Mystries. In this regard, the Lesser Mysteries differ from the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries.

To make things easier, we have laid out a time table:

  • February 17: Opening rite (daytime)
  • February 18: Study day: Demeter (daytime)
  • February 19: Purification rite (daytime)
  • February 20: Study day: the Underworld (nighttime)
  • February 21: Study Day: Iakkhos (daytime)
  • February 22: Initiatory rite (nighttime)
  • February 23: Closing rite (daytime)

  • We truly hope you will join us for this event. You can share your experience with the community here and the rituals can be found here. Note, these are ALL rituals, seven of them in total, one for every day. It is highly encouraged you read through them before the Mysteries start.

    We are very excited about the opportunity of offering this experience to you and we hope you will find a glimmer of what the ancient Hellenes might have experienced during the some of the most anticipated days of the year.
    We are very proud to announce that The International Rescue Committee has become Pandora's Kharis' Anthesterion 2017 cause.

    The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.

    In 2016, more than 26 million people benefited from IRC programs and those of its partner organizations. In 2016, the IRC and its partner organizations:
    - Helped more than 24 million people gain access to primary and reproductive health care.
    - Vaccinated more than 173,000 children under the age of one against measles.
    - Supported 2,507 clinics and health facilities that helped 171,000 women deliver healthy babies.
    - Supported more than 21,000 community health workers to treat communicable diseases in children under age 5 and treated more than 186,000 children under the age of five for acute malnutrition.
    - Gave 3.8 million people access to clean drinking water or sanitation.
    - Provided schooling and educational opportunities to more than 1.5 million children; trained more than 33,000 educators and supported more than 11,000 schools.
    - Provided counseling, care and support to more than 42,000 vulnerable children  and trained more than 2,200 child protection workers.
    - Created or supported 2,000 village savings and loan associations that benefited more than 58,000 members who saved more than $2.4 million.
    - Helped more than 4,000 people access financial services.
    - Trained some 15,000 farmers in agriculture and agribusiness, and provided almost 40,000 farmers with access to markets and farm resources including seeds and fertilizers.
    - Provided job-related skills training to more than 53,000 people.
    - Helped create or support 40,000 businesses.
    - Provided cash and asset transfers to more than 227,000 individuals and displaced households, 46 percent of whom were women.
    - Provided counseling and health, social and legal services to more than 14,400 survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and reached some 1.8 million people with community-based gender-based violence prevention efforts.
    - Offered legal assistance to more than 37,000 people; trained 27,394 people in the principles of human rights and protection;  offered information on preventing and responding to human rights abuses to more than 267,000 people.
    - Trained over 31,300 people in the principles of governance (improving government accountability) and provided information on governance to more than 156,400 people.
    - Through the Resettlement Support Center in Thailand assisted more than 13,000 refugees from East Asia to resettle in the United States.
    - In the United States, helped resettle 13,400 newly arrived refugees.

    The deadline to donate is February 26th, 2017. 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!
    Oh the Odysseia. Along with the Iliad I must have read it at least  few dozen times. If I ever have to swear something on my equivalent of the bible, I'm swearing it on a copy of the Odysseia. That's how dear to my heart it is. It's not the easiest book to get through, though. The Iliad is a little harder because of all the family history but the Odysseia still has its fair share of gritty bits. So, why not prepare yourself for the read by watching this TED-ed primer? And perhaps you'll learn something new about ancient Hellenic poetry and culture in the process!

    Hómēros' 'Odysseia' recounts the adventures of the Hellenic hero Odysseus during his journey home from the Trojan War. Would you like to learn more? Read about:

    Xenia here, here and here;
    Hubris here and here;
    and the remains of Troy here.
    "Hello, when you say that Hellenismos is clear in our status as 'humans' then what do you think of the orphic mysteries which were part of Hellenismos? Those mysteries say we have a divine essence, a part of Dionysus within us. You may not agree with that, but to neglect the fact that many ancient greeks believed that just to say that magic isn't traditional and it's hubris is not right."

    Orphism is part of Hellenic esotherism. Yes, it existed--we have enough little references in ancient writings to say that with some form of certainty--but it obvious it was a cult at best; a group of people who went against the traditional practice or practiced Orphism alongside it as it was more of a philosophical choice than a religious one. They wore white, abstained from meat and strove for purity. Books featured heavily in their worship, unlike in mainstream religious practice. Like all things in ancient Hellas, Orphism linked back to the Gods, mostly by including Dionysos in the form of Bakkhos, the Twice-Born God, which confirmed the believes of the Orphics.

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

    Orphic ideas of the soul and afterlife are most often defined by explicit contrast with the Homeric view of the afterlife, which is taken as the standard view for ancient Hellenic culture. The Homeric afterlife is that of a grim, joyless and tedious existence in the Underworld. The Underworld of Homeros exists solely--at least for the now departed mortal--of the Asphodel meadows. The dead drink from the river Lethe and forget who they were. Sacrifical (animal) blood returns a sense of life to the shades and they recover their memories for a short time. In this tradition, life is lived while you are alive. Once you die, you are dead. You might cling to life, but you will never truly be part of it again.

    Orphism most likely formed somewhere in the 6th or 5th century BC but most of the evidence we still have of it is much younger. The best known collection of texts associated with Orphism are the Orphic Hymns, a collection of 86 hymn to the Hellenic Gods. Some of them may date back to the time of the cult's founding but most were written much later, in the third or second century BC.

    From the evidence that has survived, we know that Orphism was considered to be rather...fringe. Plato considered them and anyone claiming they possessed some sort of supernatural knowledge or skills as charlatans. Euripides in 'Hippolytus' (428 BC) has main character Theseus say:

    "Come, show your face to your father, eye to eye, since in any case I have already involved myself in pollution. Are you, then, the companion of the gods, as a man beyond the common? Are you the chaste one, untouched by evil? I will never be persuaded by your vauntings, never be so unintelligent as to impute folly to the gods. Continue then your confident boasting, take up a diet of greens and play the showman with your food, make Orpheus your lord and engage in mystic rites, holding the vaporings of many books in honor. For you have been found out. To all I give the warning: avoid men like this. For they make you their prey with their high-holy-sounding words while they contrive deeds of shame."

    I consider Orphism a very valid path. I think it's one impossible to reconstruct accurately based on the evidence we have, but I absolutely agree that there were Orphics in ancient Hellas. I'm quite sure I have never denied that. The fact that the Mystery Traditions existed (not just Orphism but the Eleusinian ones, Hermeticism, etc.) does not take away from my opinion that modern magical Traditions are not traditionally Hellenic and that they have no place in Traditional Hellenismos. I have said many times before there was a form of magic practiced in ancient Hellas, and it always included the divine; an alternate expression of the same religion, so to speak. Modern magical practice would have been unrecognizable to the ancient Hellenes.

    Again, I want to stress that this concerns Traditional Hellenismos--as everything on this blog does. That is my practice, and it is what I understand best. If you want to practice magic; go for it. Who am I to tell you can or cannot do something? As far as I am aware, I have said no such thing as was sent to me, so please do not put words in my mouth.
    Back in the middle of January, Greek archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis prevented the illicit sale of a valuable antiquity sarcophagus in New York City. Today, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and assistant DA Matthew Bogdanos will deliver to Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Constantine Koutras.

    The ancient object came from the illegal collection of Italian antiquities smuggler Gianfranco Becchina, seized by the Italian and Swiss authorities. Under mysterious circumstances, the sarcophagus, which was stolen from Greece, ended up in one of the largest antiques galleries in the world. Tsirogiannis located the antiquity at the New York gallery.

    The Consul General told the National Herald that he is honored to represent the Hellenic Republic by signing the protocol to receive the sarcophagus and initiate the repatriation process. Koutras emphasized that:

    "[...]the return of the sarcophagus is a big and significant step in the efforts of Greece and Hellenism worldwide for the return of the Parthenon Marbles and all other Greek antiquities illegally detained in galleries and museums abroad."

    At the same time, the consul general expressed his gratitude to District Attorneys Vance and Bogdanos who not only seized the sarcophagus, but will deliver it in the presence of U.S. media including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, as well as television networks.
    It should be noted that Bogdanos, who is of Greek origin, is also an author and a colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He is a historical treasure hunter and played a significant role in the rescue of the Baghdad museum treasures.

    In August 2014, Bogdanos handed to the then ambassador of Greece in Washington Christos Panagopoulos five antiquities that were repatriated and now exhibited at the Numismatic Museum of Athens.
    I'm on one of those weeks where I work a little too much (how the heck can in be Thursday already?). What can I say? It happens. When it happens, I always feel the need to escape into the past. Not that I think ancient Hellas was such an idyllic place, but it's a good reminder of where my priorities should be: my family and my Gods. In lieu of a time machine I'm forced to resort to my books and YouTube.

    I'd like to share this little video I stumbled upon in my bookmarks of how the Parthenon was build and is now being restored. I'm a little annoyed with the lack of colour in the 3D reconstruction, but beggars can't be choosers. Rest assured that the ancient Athenians would have walked through an Acropolis teeming with colour!

    The Parthenon (Παρθενών) atop the Acropolis in Athens is perhaps the most famous of ancient Hellenic monuments. It was the focal point of Athena's worship and is a major tourist attraction to this day. Because of its cultural significance--back then as well as now--it's part of the official seven wonders of the ancient world.

    The building that has survived to this day was not the first temple to Athena to grace the mountain. There was an older temple, but it was leveled by the Persians in 480 BC. After that, steps were undertaken to bring about an even more impressive temple for the patron Goddess of Athens. Despite a huge statue and a small altar, the Parthenon never housed the cult of Athena's worship. It was a status symbol for the city, and a show of devotion. Any religious rites concerning Athena--like the Panathenaia--were executed in or around another, smaller, building on the northern side of the Acropolis.

    Like so many Hellenic monuments, fire, war, and conquest wreaked havoc on the temple. The treasures that were housed within it were robbed, mostly by the Romans, and the temple fell into disrepair. The stone that remains now is mostly the outer shell of the building, but as someone who has seen it with her own eyes, I can tell you it's breathtaking. I would have loved to see it in all its grander. It may not have been a major religious hub, but it was--and is--one of the best know structures dedicated to a Deity. For that alone, it is rightfully called a wonder.
    I recently came across the following question:

    "Was Hekate’s retinue of Dogs or the dead a version of the same myth that spawned The Wild Hunt in Central and Northern Europe?"

    I severely doubt it. The first mentions of anything like the Wild Hunt dates back to 1126 made by Christian clerks, if I remember well. From there, the rumor spread and was picked up by Jacob Grimm and popularized in 1835 in his book 'Deutsche Mythologie'; German Mythology. That became the foundation of the modern myth.

    The Wild Hunt in this capacity is a ghostly or supernatural group of huntsmen passing in wild pursuit. The hunters may be either elves or fairies or the dead. Seeing the Wild Hunt was considered an omen of a catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. Witnesses might also be dragged along and taken to the Underworld.

    Hekate, at Her core, is a Goddess associated with birth, not with death (although the two were closely related in ancient Hellas as many children died during or just after childbirth, and so did their mothers). Near the end of the reign of Hellas, Her dogs became associated with the dead, but in the centuries prior, Hekate and Her dogs were protectors of children and the house. They warned of danger--not as destructive omens but as an early warning to ensure safety. She was highly honoured in that capacity and it's why she is one of the household Goddesses and receives such large honours every month.

    Interesting to note, perhaps: men feared dogs. Almost during the entire reign of Hellas, men considered dogs half domesticated and half wild. Perhaps the best example of this comes from Homeros' 'Iliad':

    "[...]in the end fierce hounds will tear me in pieces at my own gates after some one has beaten the life out of my body with sword or spear-hounds that I myself reared and fed at my own table to guard my gates, but who will yet lap my blood and then lie all distraught at my doors."[XXII, 66-76]

    I posted yesterday about why women were so tightly controlled in ancient Hellas and the answer was that men feared them because they couldn't predict their behavior and control them very well. Dogs were feared for many of the same reasons: they were connected to both birth and death, they were connected to ritual pollution (miasma), they were connected to the house (a female domain) and they were loud! This is why they were associated with female divinities like Hekate, Artemis, etc. Dogs were connected to women, period, and as the epithomy of all things female, Hekate was most associated with her. Men feared Hekate as much as they welcomed and honoured Her, after all.

    Do you remember the discovery of a well full with the remains of babies and dogs? This is perhaps the best example of the perception the ancient Hellenes had of the connection between birth, death, dogs and Hekate. Through the sacrifice of a dog, the miasma incurred by the death of the infant was lifted, and it is my firm believe that this was also the way through which the Kourotrophos Hekate was called to carry the child safely to the Underworld. I have no doubt that the women took care of these gruesome tasks on their own: this was spongy female business and they did it out of pity for the child and protection of the household--as men expected them to do. 

    To me, the Wild Hunt and Hekate's worship differ greatly. The Wild Hunt is a retinue of men, of warriors, who cross the land as an omen of destruction and death. Dogs are only attested to join them in a few local myths. Hekate is but one woman--the epithomy of all women represented to men, their true power, unbridled; a warning of what would happen to any women if she was not tightly controlled. Her retinue of dogs differs in size from one to a hand full. Her purpose for appearing is to warn and keep safe; to protect. I can't see the two being connected in more than cursory observance.