I was talking to someone yesterday about the practice of 'a coin for Kharon' upon death. They believed it to be an absolute must--an always applied part of Hellenic burial tradition. It wasn't, actually.

The ancient Hellenes believed that the moment a person died, their psyche--spirit--left the body in a puff or like a breath of wind. Proper burial was incredibly important to the ancient Hellenes, and to not give a loved one a fully ritualized funeral was unthinkable. It was, however, used as punishment of dead enemies, but only rarely. Funerary rites were performed solely to get the deceased into the afterlife, and everyone who passed away was prepared for burial according to time-honored rituals.

They believed the Underworld was a neutral place. One did not desire to go there in the least, but it was part of life, and as far as the afterlife went, it was dull and sunless but nothing like the hell of Christianity. The worst part about it is being without the touch of loved ones, and forgetting who you were.

A burial or cremation had four parts: preparing the body, the prothesis (Προθησις, 'display of the body'), the ekphorá (ἐκφορά 'funeral procession'), and the interment of the body or cremated remains of the deceased. Preparation of the body was always done by women, and was usually done by a woman over sixty, or a close relative who was related no further away from the deceased than the degree of second cousin. These were also the only people in the ekphorá. The deceased was stripped, washed, anointed with oil, and then dressed in his or her finest clothes. They also received jewelry and other fineries. A coin could be presented to the dead, and laid under or below the tongue, or even on the eyes, as payment to Kharon.

This ritual was widespread in literature, but archaeological evidence tells us it didn't always happen. In fact, only a small percentage (only about 5 to 10 percent) of known ancient Hellenic burials contain coins. Among these there are widespread examples of a single coin positioned in the mouth of a skull or with cremation remains.
The specific coin presented to Kharon is conventionally referred to in Hellenic literature as an obolos (ὀβολός), one of the basic denominations of ancient Hellenic coinage, worth one-sixth of a drachma, or other relatively small-denomination gold, silver, bronze or copper coin in local use. You are, thus, right that it wasn't solely about the monetary value, but it was definitely something that had to have monetary value. It was also something that you could 'physically' give to Kharon. It as payment, after all: 'I give you this coin and you don't leave me stranded on the banks of the river Akheron to wander around as a shade for all eternity'.
So, the coin was not standard practice, but if you would like to have one, get it recorded that you want to be buried with a coin you buy off the internet, or a low value coin of your local currency, in your mouth. It's not a must, but I admit, it's an idea that appeals to me as well.
Running by the 31.000 people town of Livadeia (Λιβαδειά) in central Greece runs the Herkyna river. Pausanias, writing in the 2nd century AD, reported that the original name of the city was Mideia, and that it took its name Lebadeia from Lebados of Athens, who moved the city from high to low ground, to its current location on the banks of this river. The sacred protector of the city was the hero-turned-God Trophonios, whose oracle, involving a harrowing descent into an underground chamber, was famous beyond the borders of Hellas. At the springs of the Herkyna river are shallow grottos with niches and marble remnants said to be the site of the oracle. This river was named after the Naiad Herkyna (Ἕρκυνα).

Herkyna was the daughter of Trophonios (Τροφώνιος), a son of Erginos. According to the Homeric Hymn to Apollon, he built Apollon's temple at the oracle at Delphi with his brother, Agamedes. Once finished, the oracle told the brothers to do whatsoever they wished for six days and, on the seventh, their greatest wish would be granted. They did and were found dead on the seventh day.

Herkyna was a childhood companion of Kore and a minor deity of the khthonian oracle of her father. Her name means "Guard Dog" or "She who Wards Off" from the Greek words "to guard", "dog", and "to ward". The Lebadeans, however, connected the name with "herkos>, a bird-catching net or noose. It's possible Herkyna was connected to or identified with Hekate, because both were childhood companions of Kore, and khthonic deities associated with dogs.

Once, while Herkyna was playing with Kore in the grove of Trophonios, near Lebadeia in Boeotia, she let a goose fly away, which she carried in her hand. The bird flew into a cave, and concealed itself under a block of stone. When Kore pulled the bird forth from its hiding place, a well gushed forth from under the stone, which was called Herkyna. On the bank of the stream, a temple was afterwards erected, with the statue of a maiden carrying a goose in her hand; and in the cave there were two statues with staves surrounded by serpents, Trophonios and Herkyna, resembling the statues of Asklepios and His daughter Hygeia. Herkyna founded the worship of Demeter at Lebadeia, who hence received the epithet of Hercyna. Herkyna was worshipped at Lebadeia together with Zeus, and sacrifices were offered to both in common.

The cave and oracle were forgotten for quite some time, until the Lebadaeans suffered a plague, and consulted the Delphic Oracle. The Pythia advised them that an unnamed hero was angry at being neglected, and that they should find his grave and offer him worship forthwith. Several unsuccessful searches followed, and the plague continued unabated until a shepherd boy followed a trail of bees into a hole in the ground. Instead of honey, he found the sanctuary, and Lebadaea lost its plague while gaining a popular oracle.

Pausanias, in his account of Boeotia (9.39), relates many details about the cult of Trophonios. Whoever desired to consult the oracle would live in a designated house for a period of days, bathing in the river Herkyna and living on sacrificial meat. He would then sacrifice, by day, to a series of Gods, including Kronus, Apollon, Zeus, Hera, and Demeter. At night, he would cast a black victim into a pit sacred to Agamedes, drink from two rivers called Lethe and Mnemosyne, and then descend into the cave. Here, most consultees were frightened out of their wits, and forgot the experience entirely upon coming up. Afterward, the consultee would be seated upon a chair of Mnemosyne, where the priests of the shrine would record his ravings and compose an oracle out of them. "To descend into the cave of Trophonios" became a proverbial way of saying "to suffer a great fright".

In 2000, local sculptor Spyros Gourgiotis created and donated the beautifully crafted bust of the naiad depicted above.
For the second PAT ritual of the month, Elaion would like to present to you the rituals for the Skiraphoria. The Skira(phoria) was celebrated mainly by women, perhaps to contrast the Greater Dionysia celebrated mostly by men, but we have created a separate ritual for men which excludes portions of the festival but does allow them to participate. Will you join us on June 7th at 10 AM EDT?

The Skira, or Skiraphoria was celebrated over a three day period and we have few details about it. What we do know is that the Skira is most likely a fertility festival, mostly of the earth so that a good harvest was ensured for the following year, which started a little more than half a month later. Demeter was certainly honored during the festival, as well as her daughter Kore, as the Goddess of spring growth. Yet, many other deities are tied to the harvest and the success of the nation in some way, especially in Athens from where most of the surviving material originated. There, Athena Skiras and Poseidon Pater also had a role to play.

What we know of the rites is that a gathering left Athens on the day of the Skira, and another delegation left Eleusis. At Skiron, a precinct on the road to Eleusis, stood a sanctuary dedicated to Athena Skiras, Poseidon Pater, Demeter and Kore. Here, the two delegations met, and the priests and priestesses of all Theoi involved interacted in some way; Plutarch mentions that one of the three 'sacred plowings' of the Athenians took place at this time. It is, perhaps, possible that at this time, the priestesses of Athena and the priests Poseidon made amends with the priestesses of Demeter and Kore--there was bad blood between them for, as Apollodorus reminds us:

"Athena, therefore, called the city Athens after herself, and Poseidon in hot anger flooded the Thriasian plain and laid Attica under the sea." [3.14.1]

The Thriasian plain is where Eleusis is located, and it would have been entirely flooded during this episode. Perhaps the Athenian deities ritually made amends for this during the Skira? Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, during the reign of Erechtheus in Athens, war broke out against the Eleusinians, who were assisted by Eumolpus, whose mother was Khione, daughter of Boreas, and whose father was said to be Poseidon Himself. Eumolpus attacked Ahens because, as he put it, that land belonged to his father. Could the rituals of the Skira be penance for this war as well, where Poseidon (and Athena) 'rode out' to meet Demeter and Kore in the middle for a rite that would settle their grievances?

The details of the procession to the Skiron and the subsequent ritual are largely lost to us. Although debated by certain scholars, it seems that those in the procession--or perhaps only the priests and priestesses--carried umbrella-type canopies over their heads which were of a bright white color. It is possible that this was only one large canopy per group, and it was held over the heads of the priests and priestesses by others in the procession. The canopy was or were called 'skiron' as well. Of the sanctuary itself, we know very little besides its location and deities. It is, however, said to have been the place where the first sowing took place, tying the Skira rituals back in with the purpose of fertility.

The Skira was celebrated over a three day period, but when this procession took place is unclear. To bring fertility, the women abstained from intercourse on these days, and to this end they ate garlic to keep the men away. We also know that during the Skira, offerings were thrown into the sacred caves of Demeter located in a cliff at Eleusis: cakes shaped like snakes and phalluses, and very real piglets. These became the Thesmoi--'things laid down'--that were removed in the Thesmophoria. The piglets were fertility symbols but also related to the myth of Demeter, Persephone and Hades, because it is said that when Hades opened a chasm to swallow up Persephone--the caves of Demeter--a swineherd called Eubouleus was grazing his pigs and they were swallowed up in the chasm as well.

For the men, there was a race in which they carried vine-branches from the sanctuary of Dionysos to the temple of Athena Skiras. The winner was given the Fivefold Cup, or 'pentaploa', containing wine, honey, cheese, some corn and olive oil. Only the winner was allowed to pour libations to Athena from the cup, and ask Her to bless these fruits of the season.

For these rites, we will honor Demeter, Kore, Athena, and Poseidon. The female version of the rite which includes Demeter and Kore as well as the Thesmoi, and that of the men has sacrifices to Poseidon, Athena, and Demeter. We also encourage the men to perform some sort of athletic feat afterwards to honour Athena.

The PAT ritual will take place on the 7th of June, at the usual 10 am EDT. The rituals can be found here for the women, and here for the men. We look forward to your participation and if you would like to discuss the rite or festival with others, feel free to join us on Facebook on the event page. We hope you will join us!
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for the National Alliance on Mental Illness! Together, they have raised $ 70,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, they are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.

NAMI relies on gifts and contributions to support their work. They educate, advocate, listen to sufferers through the toll-free NAMI HelpLine, and lead awareness campaigns through public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness Awareness Week and NAMIWalks, successfully fight stigma and encourage understanding. All in order to make sure America understands how important mental health is.

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 June 5th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
Aesop was a serf and story-teller who lived in ancient Hellas between 620 and 560 BC--if he actually existed. No records of him were every recovered and through the years, many fables scattered throughout ancient Hellas became attributed to him. His collected works became known as 'Aesop's Fables', and there are quite a lot of them: nearly enough to read your children one of them for every night for two years. I am on a family vacation with the inlaws, so you're getting a collection of Aesop's fables about family. As good an excuse as any, right?

The Father and His Sons
A father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the faggot into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He next opened the faggot, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them into his sons' hands, upon which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: "My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this faggot, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks."

The Man and His Two Sweethearts
A middle-aged man, whose hair had begun to turn gray, courted two women at the same time. One of them was young, and the other well advanced in years. The elder woman, ashamed to be courted by a man younger than herself, made a point, whenever her admirer visited her, to pull out some portion of his black hairs. The younger, on the contrary, not wishing to become the wife of an old man, was equally zealous in removing every gray hair she could find. Thus it came to pass that between them both he very soon found that he had not a hair left on his head.

The Widow and Her Little Maidens
A Widow who was fond of cleaning had two little maidens to wait on her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the morning, at cockcrow. The maidens, aggravated by such excessive labor, resolved to kill the cock who roused their mistress so early. When they had done this, they found that they had only prepared for themselves greater troubles, for their mistress, no longer hearing the hour from the cock, woke them up to their work in the middle of the night.

The Father and His Two Daughters
A Man had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who had married the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all things went with her. She said, "All things are prospering with me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of rain, in order that the plants may be well watered." Not long after, he went to the daughter who had married the tilemaker, and likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied, "I want for nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks might be dried." He said to her, "If your sister wishes for rain, and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my wishes?'

The Farmer and His Sons (2)
A father, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, "My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards." The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.

The Thief and His Mother
A Boy stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took it home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she again commended him. The Youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of public execution. His Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young man said, "I wish to say something to my Mother in her ear." She came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied, "Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus led to a disgraceful death."

The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass
A Miller and his son were driving their Ass to a neighboring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of women collected round a well, talking and laughing. "Look there," cried one of them, "did you ever see such fellows, to be trudging along the road on foot when they might ride?' The old man hearing this, quickly made his son mount the Ass, and continued to walk along merrily by his side. Presently they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate. "There," said one of them, "it proves what I was a-saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see that idle lad riding while his old father has to walk? Get down, you young scapegrace, and let the old man rest his weary limbs." Upon this the old man made his son dismount, and got up himself. In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women and children: "Why, you lazy old fellow," cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad there can hardly keep pace by the side of you?' The good-natured Miller immediately took up his son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a citizen, "is that Ass your own?' "Yes," replied the old man. "O, one would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you." "Anything to please you," said the old man; "we can but try." So, alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the Ass together and with the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge near the entrance to the town. This entertaining sight brought the people in crowds to laugh at it, till the Ass, not liking the noise nor the strange handling that he was subject to, broke the cords that bound him and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river. Upon this, the old man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again, convinced that by endeavoring to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass in the bargain.
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 updated my Google calendar for another half year!
  • The tags in the right hand menu of the blog are now arranged in a cloud. This way, the more used ones appear bigger, making it easier to search.
PAT rituals for Skirophorion:
  • 5/29 - Skirophorion 3 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Athena Polias, Aglaurus, Zeus Polieus, Poseidon & possibly Pandrosos at Erkhia*
  • 6/7 - Skirophorion 12 - Skirophoria - festival in honor of Athena, Poseidon, Apollon & Demeter; the Tritopatores were worshipped at Marathon on the eve of this festival
  • 6/9 - Skirophorion 14 - Dipolieia/Bouphonia - festival in honor of Zeus Poleius
  • 6/24 - Skirophorion 29 - Diisoteria - sacrifice to Zeus the Savior and Athena the Savior
Anything else?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has become Pandora's Kharis' Thargelion 2017 cause. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health.

The deadline to donate is today, May 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!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Every day, the average human utters about 16.000 words. A good portion of those are idioms and figures of speech--the use of a word or words diverging from its usual meaning--or sayings. Today, I wanted to share some of the figures of speech and sayings that can be traced back to ancient Hellas and/or Hellenic myth. Some of these I have posted before, but I've collected another few in the mean time. These are marked with a *.

"A Herculean Effort"
Meaning: a great effort.
Source: Hēraklēs, son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene--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, oldest daughter of Kreōn 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, Eurystheus, 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. All of these tasks were incredibly hard, and required every ounce of strength Hēraklēs possessed.

"A Sisyphean task"
Meaning: (performing) an endless or repetitive task.
Source: Sísyphos was a scheming and conniving king, who tried to pull a fast one on the Gods many times over. He betrayed Zeus, tried to trick Thanatos, Persephone and Hades, and killed innocent travelers on his roads--an offense against xenia. For all these offenses, Sísyphos was sentenced to push a boulder uphill for all eternity, as the boulder would roll down the slope again the second he reached the top.

"Achilles' heel"
Meaning: one's weakness or weak spot.
Source: Achilles was a great warrior, destined to live one of two lives: a long and boring one, or a short but heroic one. Knowing her son would choose the latter, his divine mother Themis tried to limit the risk of Achilles dying a premature death by dipping him in the river Styx. As such, Achilles became impenetrable to harm, save for his heel, where his mother had held him as she dipped him in the water. This spot eventually became his downfall, and Achilles died on the battlefield of Troy. The stories of his invulnerability were a later invention, around the first century AD. Before that, the myth simply stated that Achilles was shot in the heel with an arrow, and he eventually died of that wound, because it would not heal.

"Bearing the weight of the world (on one's shoulders)" *
Meaning: a very heavy burden of worry or responsibility.
Source: This is a reference to Atlas, the Titan who was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders after he and his brethren rebelled against Zeus in the Titanomachy. Depending on the source, however, it was actually a great honour to be asked to protect the whole of the earth from being crushed under the weight of the sky.

"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts"
Meaning: be weary of those with something to offer, they may have ulterior motives.
Source: In the war for Troy, the Hellenes needed a way to conquer the walls of the city. They tried to fight for it, but were unable to. In Virgil's Aeneid, it is written that the Hellenes built a wooden horse, and hid away in it. The horse was offered to the Trojans as a gift, and the structure was accepted into the city. At night, the Hellenes snuck out of the horse, attacked the city, and conquered Troy.

"Caught between a rock and a hard place"
Meaning: making a hard choice; choosing between two undesirable options.
Source: During Odysseus' travels to get home, he must run his ship through a narrow passage. One the one side are rocks with a cavern. In this cavern, Skylla, sea monster with six heads, lived, and she would take one of Odysseus' men with each of her heads. On the other side lay Kharybdis, a great whirlpool which would suck in any ship that came too close. It is up to Odysseus to choose one or the other. Eventually, he chooses Skylla, and looses many brave men, his ship, however, is in tact. As such, Odysseus had to choose between a rock and a hard place.

"Cupid's arrows" *
Meaning: rapidly falling in love--as if struck.
Source: The ancient Hellenes were just as mystified by love as we are today--more so, perhaps, because a least we know what happens chemically in our bodies when it happens. Their answer to the mystery of falling in love was that the arrow of Eros struck. Eros had two types of arrows: the golden-tipped arrow brought love and attraction, the lead-tipped arrow brought hate and repulsion. Cupid is the Roman version of Eros.

"Dog is man's best friend"
Meaning: the loyalty of dogs is undisputed
Source: In the Odysseia, Odysseus finally returns home after many, many long years of travel, and long years of war. He is in disguise when he reaches his house, which is overrun by suiters of his wife. His fateful hunting dog, Argos, has waited for him all these years, and recognizes his master right away. Finally reunited with his master, the old dog dies, happy, and at peace.

"Food of the Gods"
Meaning: food so delicious, it is almost divine
Source: Nectar--the drink of the Gods--and ambrosia--the food of the Gods--are the dish of choice on Olympos. If a mortal man or woman would eat or drink either of the two, they, too, would become immortal, or at least their aging would stop for a while.

"Gordian knots"
Meaning: an extremely perplexing puzzle or problem.  
Source: It seems that king Gordius of Phrygia laid out a task for whomever wanted to be the ruler of Asia Minor: he tied a know so complex, no one managed to untie is. Eventually, Alexander the Great came to the land, and cut the know with his sword, thus 'passing' the test. 'Cutting the knot' became a saying for taking something by force, or making a decisive action. 

"Having the Midas touch"
Meaning: a fortunate person, someone able to make everything a success.
Source: In Hellenic mythology, Midas was the king of Pessinus. It seems some of the peasants under Midas' commands brought the king the unconscious satyr Seilenos, who had drunk himself into a stupor. Alternatively, Seilenos toppled over in Midas' garden. No matter how he got there, Midas took good care of him, and as a token of appreciation, Dionysos--Seilenos' student--offered Midas a wish. Midas wished that everything he touched, turned to gold. This is where the saying comes from.

"Hounds of Hell"
Meaning: something frightening, or evil.
Source: Guarding the entrance to Underworld is a great dog, either with just one head, or three, or fifty. His name is Kerberos, and you can pass him once, on your way in, but never again, as there is no way out.

"Leave No Stone Unturned"
Meaning: search everywhere.
Source: The catch-phrase was first recorded by Euripides in his tragedy 'Heracleidae'. The play focusses on King Eurystheus, who hunts the children of Hēraklēs after he passes away. The actual quote comes from the line: "Now, after he was taken hence, was I not forced, by reason of these children's hatred, and because I was conscious of an hereditary feud, to leave no stone unturned by slaying, banishing, and plotting against them?"

"Oedipus Complex"
Meaning: a child's unnatural desire of their parent of the opposite sex, and jealousy of the parent of the same sex. Freudian theory.
Source: Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. King Laius was fortold his son would kill him and marry his mother, and so he left him to die on a mountainside. The child was found, however, and raised by King Polybus and Queen Merope. Oedipus eventually heard of the prophecy about him and fled, not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents, who he believed to be his biological ones. Fate would have him end up on the same road as King Laius, and in an argument over whom would step out of the way, Oedipus killed his father. He then traveled on and eventually met and married his mother. The myth continues on, but this is the part where the figure of speech comes from.

"Pandora's box"
Meaning: to perform an action that may seem small or innocuous, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences.
Source: I've written quite a bit about Pandôra on this blog. Pandôra was created by the Theoi as punishment on humanity after Prometheus stole fire from the Gods. Pandôra showed up on the doorstep of Prometheus' brother Deukalion, with a pithos she was told never to open. Eventually, curiosity got the better of her,a nd she opened the jar. In some versions of the myth, all evils of the word flew out, but Pandôra managed to trap hope in the jar. There are many, many inconsistencies in the myth, but the figure of speech stuck.

"Pregnant with thought" *
Meaning: to be about to put forth a (great) idea.
Source: Potentially, this idiom comes from Greek mythology--namely the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus. Athena, as Goddess of wisdom represents a literal birth of ideas--which is pretty much the meaning.

"Siren's song" *
Meaning: an alluring utterance or appeal, especially one that is seductive or deceptive.
Source: In the Odysseia, Circe warned Odysseus not to listen to the Sirens--mythological mermaids--because their haunting music would drive him mad. Or if he did, at least have his sailors tie him to the mast to keep him from throwing himself overboard, and to plug his rowers ears’ with beeswax so they would be impervious to the sweet high song.

"Stygian darkness" *
Meaning: pitch black, sometimes dreary, darkness.
Source: The river Styx was the boundary between the upper world of the living and the underworld of the dead. It was so inky black that anything under its surface disappeared from sight.

"The face that launched a thousand ships"
Meaning: one person causing a terrible event.
Source: One fateful day, three Goddesses got into an argument about whom was most beautiful. Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena, all laid claim to a golden apple tossed into the crowd at a banquet held on honor of Peleus and Thetis. Eris had thrown the apple, which was labeled 'for the most beautiful'. The Goddesses could not decide who was the fairest, and so They asked Zeus. Zeus appointed Paris, A Trojan mortal, to choose in his stead. All three Goddesses undressed for Paris when asked, and all offered him gifts, if he would choose them. Aphrodite, however, promised him the most beautiful of wives, and PAris chose Her. Aphrodite picked Helen of Sparta as Paris' new wife, but Helen was already married, to Menelaus, who would eventually bring war down upon Troy to reclaim the wife he lost. Helen became the woman whose face 'launched a thousand ships' in war.

"To rise from the ashes"
Meaning: to be reborn
Source: No singular myth about the famous bird survives, but the phoenix was know to the ancient Hellenes. It was a mythical bird that lived its life, immolated, and was reborn from the ashes of its previous incarnation.
I made it just a little over ten months without posting this prayer. The last time was for the people in Nice. I could have posted it for the people killed in the London Bridge attack, but London handled itself so well in the wake of the London Bridge attack that I sufficed with another type of post. I could have posted it much more often inbetween; since Nice, at least 12.145 people have lost their lives in terrorist attacks (617 in the second part of July, 1230 in August, 876 in September, 2151 in October, 1667 in November, 940 in December, 912 in January, 767 in February, 1436 in March, 817 in April, and 732 so far in May). Some with the highest death counts (50+):

23/7/16 Suicide bombing in Kabul, Afganistan: 80 dead (230 wounded)
27/7/16 Suicide bombing in Qamishli, Syria: 57dead (140 wounded)
6/8/16 Shooting, kidnapping and execution by IS in Hawija, Iraq: 100+ dead (over 3000 kidnapped)
8/8/2016 Shooting and suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan: 93 dead (130+ wounded)
14/8/16 Melee massacre in Beni City, Democratic Republic of the Congo: 101 dead
15/8/16 Suicide bombing on a bus in Idlib, Syria: 50 dead
20/8/16 Suicide bombing at a wedding ceremony in Gaziantep, Turkey by a twelve year old boy: 54 dead (66 wounded)
29/8/2016 Bombing at a military facility in Aden, Yemen: 71 dead
5/9/2016 String of connected car bombingsin Tartus, Homs, Damascus and Hasakah, Syria: 70 dead
5/9/2016 Suicide bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan: 58 dead (109 wounded)
25/9/2016 Execution of captured Iraqi civilians by IS in Iraq: 100+ dead
14/10/2016 Executions of rebels by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 58 dead
15/10/16 Suicide bombing and shooting in Baghdad, Iraq: 53 dead (44 wounded)
21-22/10/16 Spree of shootings and suicide bombings in Kirkuk, Iraq: 80 dead (133 wounded)
24/10/16 Hostage taking, shooting, and suicide bombing at a police training center in Quetta, Pakistan: 62 dead (117 wounded)
25/10/16 Executions and shooting by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 135 dead
26/10/16 Execution of former members of the Iraqi security forces by IS: 232 dead
29/10/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 122 dead
31/10/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 350+ dead
2/11/16 Execution and shooting by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 52 dead
8/11/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 300+ dead
11/11/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 113 dead
12/11/16 Suicide bombing in the Shah Noorani Shrine in Balochistan, Pakistan: 55 dead (102 wounded)
12/11/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 60 dead
20/11/16 Sabotage of a train by IS in Pukhrayan, India: 150 dead (150+ wounded)
24/11/16 Suicide truck bombing in Hillah, Iraq: 125 dead (95 wounded)
9/12/16 Suicide bombings in Madagali, Nigeria: 57 dead (177 wounded)
10/12/16 Suicide bombing on soldiers in Aden, Yemen: 50+ dead (70+ wounded)
18/12/16 Suicide bombing on soldiers in Aden, Yemen: 52 dead (63 wounded)

2/1/17 Series of suicide car bombings in Baghdad, Iraq: 56 dead (122 wounded)
7/1/17 Car bombing at a marketplace in Azaz, Syria: 60 dead (50 wounded)
18/1/17 Five suicide bombings near a NATO army base in Gao, Mali: 77 dead (115 wounded)
27/1/17 Al-Shabaab militants attack remote AMISOM base killing Kenyan troops in Kulbiyow, Somalia: 66 dead (70 wounded)
16/2/17 Car bombing at a car dealership in Baghdad, Iraq: 59 dead (66 wounded)
16/2/17 Suicide bombing at a shrine by IS in Sehwan, Pakistan: 88 dead (250+ wounded)
24/2/17 Car bombing by IS in Sosyan, Syria: 61 dead (100+ wounded)
8/3/17 Suicide bombing and shootings at a military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan: 100+ dead (63 wounded)
11/3/17 Car bombing and suicide bombing on Shia pilgrims in Damascus, Syria: 74 dead (120+ wounded)
15/4/17 Suicide car bombing in Aleppo, Syria: 126 dead (100+ wounded)
21/4/17 Shooting attack of a military base by Taliban n the Balkh Province, Afghanistan: 256 dead (160+ wounded)
18/5/17 Shootings of civilians by IS in Hama Governorate, Syria: 52 dead (100 wounded)
20/5/17 Shooting of soldiers and civilians by Misrata militants in the Wadi al Shatii District, Libya: 141 dead (100+ wounded)

I was still awake two nights ago when news of the Manchester Arena bombing begun trickling in. I can't imagine you missed it, but at the end of a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande a bomb went off, killing 22 people and injuring 59. A lone male was reported to have carried out the attack, thought to have been a suicide bombing using an improvised explosive device, with the perpetrator "deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately", according to Prime Minister Theresa May. Police were called to the scene of the bombing at 22:33 local time, along with medical personnel. IS later claimed responsibility for the attack, and investigators are trying to determine if this was a lone wolf terror attack.

In case you don't know Ariana Grande, let me drive it home to you that the crowd consisted mostly of kids between the ages of, say, eight and eighteen, along with their parents and a select gathering of more mature fans. So far, the youngest identified deadly victim was eight. Eight. Some 22-years old asshole sat through the whole of an Ariana Grande concert, got up, walked to the exit along with hordes of (mostly) girls having the best night of their lives and pressed a Gods damned button because somehow that is a normal thing to do now.

It kills me, thinking of this.

It kills me thinking of the trauma the young people who survived will carry for the rest of their lives. I can't even imagine what Ariana herself is going through right now. She walked off stage and a few minutes later: boom! Death. Chaos. She went on Twitter and apologized. She apologized for the actions of an angry, impressionable, very dead teenager who felt the need to take 22 people into death with him. She's debating ending her career.

That kills me too.

I've just spent the better part of two hours tallying the numbers on how many people fell victim to the hate, and anger, and fear of humanity. Let me go back to that list you may or may not have read. A twelve year old boy blew himself up at a wedding. In the span of two weeks, IS members shot over 1500 people in the head in Mosul. 3000 people were kidnapped. They will be raped, mutilated, indoctrinated and either put in the line of battle as cannon fodder or killed once they outlive their 'usefulness'. If I could, I would post the image of every single one of the 12.145 people who lost their lives in the name of hate these past 10 months.

We don't know all the names of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombings yet, but we know a few, and I will update the list as more names become public. Memorize them. Let them be remembered forever. May they live on in true Hellenic tradition. Don't apologize, get angry. Be aware. Pray. Refuse to be afraid. Read through that list up there and visualize every number of people. Those people should be alive today--as should the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing be.

Georgina Callander (18 years old)

Saffie Rose Roussos (8 years old)

John Atkinson (26 years old)

Olivia Campbell (15 years old)

I knew Georgina a little, from internet circles we both frequented. We talked a little a few years ago, were mutual on social media. I didn't know her real name, but others in those circles did and connected the dots. And now she's dead. I didn't cry more for her than for any of the others, but I most certainly cried for her. She was sweet, and loving, and bubbly. She will be missed.

We don't get a reprieve from these attacks. The 23rd already saw the Marawi clash in the Philippines. Residents of Marawi reported the presence of and armed group within their locale and after the AFP verified the information, the military responded. Firefights between government forces and militants began. Maute group fighters occupied the Amai Pakpak Hospital and ordered the PhilHealth employees out of the facility. The fighters allegedly replaced the Philippine flag hoisted in the hospital with the Black Standard used by the Islamic State group. The 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army stationed at Camp Ranao was attacked by at least 500 Maute group militants. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following the clash. Two soldiers were killed and one police officer. Casualties 12.143, 12.144, and 12.145. Eight soldiers were wounded.

This is our world, and we don't hear about its horrors enough. If we did, we would act. So seek out this information, mourn the dead and take a stand against this cancer manifesting in our society. Pray, if nothing else, then for the victims.

"May Hermes Psychopompos carry the souls of the dead safely cross the river Styx.
May Hekate, as Kourotrophos, light their way.
May Hades accept them favourably, and may the judges judge them fairly.
May Asklēpiós tend to the wounds of the injured.
May Ares instill in them the passion of life, and the strength of a thousand warriors.
May Hypnos sooth their weary minds, and cloud them in sleep.
May Dionysos calm their terror.
May They offer the same to emergency personnel and passers-by who were witnesses.
May Dikē who weeps at the injustice done upon all touched by this tragedy, clutch the strong thigh of Zeus the All-wise, and beg of Him the severest of punishments.
May All-Mighty Zeus send winged Nemesis to administer swift judgement.
May Her judgement take from the guilty parties an equal or greater price than their victims have had to pay.
May Hēlios the All-seeing whisper truth to law enforcement, and guide the investigation swiftly towards those who conceived of this terrible crime.
May wise Athena led Her aid to them.
May Zeus the All-mighty bless those who ran not from the area, but towards it, in an attempt to offer aid to those wounded or dead.
May He look favourably upon those who ran away as well, as the will to live is at the core of every mortal's life.
To all Theoi: a last plea. To protect those whom the media will persecute, but are innocent of the crime.
To protect the innocent scapegoat from the actions of a species in the grips of fear and revenge."
On the 29th of May, which converts to the third of the month of Skiraphorion, two festivals were held, one in Athens and one in Erkhia. The first was the Arrephoria and, as I will explain later, was not a public festival. As such, we will not celebrate it as such. It is, however, a festival of Athena Polias who was also honoured at Erkhia on this day, along with the Kourotrophos, Aglaurus, Pandrosos, Zeus Polieus, and Poseidon. Will you join us at 10 am EDT on 29 May?

Let's start with some background on the Arrephoria festival, as it seems to have influenced the sacrifice at Erkhia. The Arrephoria festival wasn't a state festival; young girls in the service performed a ritual for Athena Polias as a public service, but beyond those girls, their mentors, and perhaps their parents, no one was very concerned with it. As with most secret rites, I'm sure people knew a rite was being held, but knew it was not their business to interfere. As long as the rite was performed, all would be well for them. The girls who were selected for the honour of tending for Athena were in service of Athena Polias for an entire year and were called 'Arrephoros' (Ἀρρήφορος), Arrephoroi as a group, consisting of four members.

The Arrephoroi were always girls between the age of seven and eleven, although seven and ten seem to be the ages that are mentioned most often. They were selected from the wealthy and powerful families of Athens, as those families were considered to be especially blessed. Excavations on the Acropolis have led to the discovery of their quarters, and even their playground. It seems even mini-priestesses can't be priestesses all the time. The young girls seem to have favored ball games and were lodged near the Erechtheion in an area which was the main inhabited area on the Acropolis in Mycenaean times.

The Arrephoroi had three important tasks to perform in their term. One of the tasks the young girls assisted in was the creation of the peplos for Athena Polias, which was presented to Her during the Panathenaia. Secondly, they were almost solely in charge of grounding the meal for the honey cakes which were placed upon the altar of Athena during religious ceremonies. As a special part of their service, they performed the Arrephoria. During the Arrephoria, the priestess of Athena Polias gave the young arrephoroi sealed baskets to carry to a nearby cave. Here, the girls were supposed to enter, walk the corridor, set down their baskets at the end and pick up ones which have stood there for a year. When they returned with the baskets, it signaled the end of their year of service and they were dismissed. They were replaced with new girls who would serve the Theia.

It seems the Arrephoria ritual has ties to the ancient Athenian myth of Erichthonios (Ἐριχθόνιος), child of Hēphaistos and Athena, through Gaea, who was half man, half snake, and left in a basket by Athena, to be cared for by three of Her young attendants at the Acropolis, with clear instructions not to open the basket. They did, of course, and were scared so by the sight of either a snake in the basket, or Erichthonios' deformities, they cast themselves off of the Acropolis in terror. Yet, despite his deformities, Erichthonios became king of Athens and ruled it long and well. Myth tells us it was Erichthonios who founded the Panathenaiac Festival in the honour of Athena.

It seems that there was a certain fertility aspect to the rite, not for humans, but for the olive tree. The rite was most likely performed when the first dew settled on the sacred olive tree on top of the Acropolis--very near where the girls were housed--or when dew was about to settle onto it. In climates as dry as Hellas, dew was needed to produce rich fruit. The months following Skiraphorion are crucial to the olive crop and in ancient times, olive trees--and Athena's sacred olive tree--were vital to the survival of Athens. Olive oil was a main export product, it was used in nearly everything, from cooking to sacred rites, and Athena's olive tree atop the Acropolis had been her gift to the city, which led to her patronage over the city, instead of that of Poseidon. It is said that the sacred olive oil gifted as a reward for winning the Panathenaia te megala was harvested from that very tree. Its survival, and the bearing of good fruit, were therefor essential.

The Arrephoria was performed to appease Athena and to assure the best possible (divine) conditions for the sacred olive tree of Athena on the Acropolis--and, by proxy, all olive trees--to grow and bear fruit. These young girls performed a vital part of this rite to make up for the failings of Herse and Aglauros. For much more information about the Arrephoria, please see here.

So why did the ancient Erkhians sacrifice to this marry band of Theoi on this day? They are all linked to the city's well-being and the circumstances that led to the creation of the Arrephoria festival. Athena Polias is regarded as Protector of the City (of Athens). She had a sactuary on the north side of the Acropolis, the Erechtheion. Built between 421 and 406, the Erechtheion was associated with some of the most ancient and holy relics of the Athenians: the Palladion, which was a xoanon--an aniconic cult-statue--of Athena Polias, the marks of Poseidon's trident and the salt water well that resulted from Poseidon's strike, the sacred olive tree that sprouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear in her successful rivalry with Poseidon for the city, the supposed burial places of the mythical kings Cecrops and Erechtheus, the sacred precincts of Cecrops' three daughters and those of the tribal heroes Pandion and Boutes.

The sisters entrusted with the care for Erichthonios, hidden away in a basket, were Aglauros and her sister Pandrosos. For their roles in the Arrephoria rites, they seem to have been regarded as fertility deities in Athens. Aglauros had a sanctuary on the Acropolis in which young men of military age swore an oath to her as well as to Zeus and to other deities. Herse, sometimes regarded as a third sister, has no mention in the accounts of the Arrephoria and was not honoured at Erkhia.

Athena Polias and Poseidon were included because of the founding mythology surrounding Athens and Zeus Polieus was another powerful protector of the city. His inclusion might not be intirely linked to myths and practices surrounding Erichthonios, but His inclusion makes sense.

The Kourotrophos (κουροτρόφος, child nurturer) are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--and especially boys. Gaea, Artemis, and Hekate come to mind but Aglauros and Pandrossos were also considered Kouroptrophoi. Specific offerings to Them are known from the demos Erkhia but duplicate similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophos was/were sacrificed to. In this sacrifice They were honoured for the fertility aspect of Erichthonios being born from Athena as well as Gaea and the desired fertility of olive trees so we know at least Gaea, Aglauros and Pandrosos were honoured.

The Kourotrophos received a pig, Athena Polias a sheep, Aglouros received a sheep as well, but the remains of which were not to be removed from the bomos, which was equally true for the sheep Zeus Polieus received. Poseidon and Pandrosos also received sheep. All animals were the gender of the deity in question.

We hope you will join us for this sacrifice on 29 May at 10 am EDT. You can find the ritual here and join the community page here.
new genomic study on southern Mediterranean reveals a genetic continuity across geographic and national borders. The study--coordinated by the Human Biodiversity and Population Genomics group at the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BiGeA) of the University of Bologna and funded by the National Geographic Society--describes the genetic fingerprints of the Mediterranean people with high-density genomic markers and a wide sample of modern populations from Sicily and Southern Italy.  Their genetic profiles were analyzed to reconstruct the combination of ancestry components and the demographic history of the region. The study is published in Scientific Reports.

As one would expect, populations inhabiting the southeastern shores of Europe are the result of a complex, multi-layered history. One of these layers corresponds to a shared genetic background, extending from Sicily to Cyprus and involving Crete, the Aegean islands and Anatolia. Stefania Sarno, researcher from the University of Bologna and lead author of the study said:

"This shared Mediterranean ancestry possibly traces back to prehistoric times, as the result of multiple migration waves, with peaks during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age."

Apparently, the ancient Greek expansions (during the Magna Graecia foundation) were only one of the last events in a long history of East-West movements, where the Mediterranean Sea served as a preferential crossroads for the circulation of genes and cultures.

One of the most intriguing layers hidden in the Mediterranean genetic landscape involves an important Bronze Age contribution from a Caucasus (or Caucasus-like) source, accompanied by the virtual absence of the typical "Pontic-Caspian" genetic component from the Asian steppe.

The latter is a very characteristic genetic signal well represented in North-Central and Eastern Europe, which previous studies associated with the introduction of Indo-European languages to the continent. Chiara Barbieri from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena adds:

"These new genomic results from the Mediterranean open a new chapter for the study of the prehistoric movements behind the diffusion of the most represented language family in Europe. The spread of these languages in the Southern regions, where Indo-European languages like Italian, Greek and Albanian are spoken nowadays, cannot be explained with the major contribution from the steppe alone."

The current genetic study also focuses on more recent historical layers that contributed to the present-day genetic makeup of the populations sampled, in particular in the cases of long-standing, non-Italian-speaking communities in Italy.

For example, mainland Greece and Albania seem to have acquired additional genetic contributions during historic times, most likely related to the Slavic migrations in the Balkans. This recent Balkan genetic ancestry is still evident in some ethno-linguistic minorities of Sicily and Southern Italy, such as the Albanian-speaking Arbereshe. The Arbreshe migrated from Albania to Italy at the end of the Middle Ages and experienced geographic and cultural isolation, which played a part in their distinctive genetic composition.

A different case study is that of Greek-speaking communities from Southern Italy. The genetic features of these groups are compatible with the antiquity of their settlement and with a high cultural permeability with neighboring populations, combined with drift and effects of geographic isolation, as in the case of Calabrian Greeks. Alessio Boattini, geneticist and anthropologist from the University of Bologna says:

"The study of linguistic and cultural isolates in Italy proved to be important to understand our history and our demography. The cases of the Albanian- and Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy help to shed light into the formation of these cultural and linguistic identities."

Davide Pettener, professor of Anthropology from the University of Bologna adds:

"Overall, the study illustrates how both genetic and cultural viewpoints can inform our knowledge of the complex dynamics behind the formation of our Mediterranean heritage, especially in contexts of extensive -- both geographically and temporally -- admixture."

Prof. Donata Luiselli, who co-led the project, concludes:

"These results will be further developed in future studies integrating data from other disciplines, in particular linguistics, archaeology and palaeogenomics, with the study of ancient DNA from archaeological remains."
A bronze stud from the late fourth century or early fifth century B.C., part of a temporary exhibition at the Pompeii archaeological park in southern Italy, has been stolen. It was one of four surviving studs from a gate which were recovered in Torre Satriano, another archaeological site. All four were on display in the "Pompeii and the Greeks" exhibition, running until Oct. 31.

The missing stud, whose disappearance was noted late Wednesday, was insured for 300 euros ($335), the Pompeii archaeological park said in a statement. Pompeii director Massimo Osanna said:

"Even if it was not a priceless piece, [the theft] is an affront to the Pompeii site and to Italian cultural heritage, and it personally affects me since it comes from an area whose excavation I had personally led."

The room where the theft took place is monitored by custodians during the day and by security cameras at night. Police were called in to investigate, and the exhibition was closed to the public to ease their work. The rest of Pompeii remains open. Osanna said Thursday that the stud's removal from beneath an acrylic panel would have taken time to avoid detection by on-site security. Officials think it was taken during public visiting hours, and police are reviewing video surveillance. The area has been closed to visitors.

The site, long associated with neglect and building collapses, is Italy's most popular tourist site after the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and is undergoing extensive restorations funded by the European Union.

Pompeii was a prosperous ancient Roman city destroyed by a 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which killed thousands of people. Ruins have survived to this day after being covered for centuries by thick layers of volcanic ash.

It's not exactly Greek, this news, but I am putting it up here because this pisses me off to no end. How dare you go into a museum--or anywhere!--and take something that doesn't belong to you. Something that should be available to all to see. that's history. It belongs to everyone. May Nemesis take swift and just action!
A little over a week or so ago, I posted a description of categories of minor planets and minor planets named from Hellenic mythology. I love things like that. I love knowing how far Hellenic mythology and the Gods still reach. Today, I want to present you with a new list, this time of the Hellenic influence on the names of chemical elements--either through mythology or simply through language.

Argon (Ar) From the Greek word "argos" which means idle or lazy. Argon is one of the laziest, least reactive elements of all. There are also many mythological figures named "Argos", but those are not whom the element was named after.

Bromine (Br) - From the Greek word "bromos" which means stench. Bromine has an unpleasant smell.

Chlorine (Cl) From the Greek word "chloros" which means green. Chlorine is a green gas.

Helium (He) - Named after the God Helios. In 1868, during an eclipse of the Sun, scientists observed a spectral line caused by an unknown element. They named the element Helium. Twenty seven years later, in 1895, the element was discovered on Earth.

Hydrogen (H) - From the Greek words "hydro" and "genes" which mean water and forming. When hydrogen burns in the air, it forms water.

Iodine (I) - From the Greek word "iodos" which means violet. Iodine is a grey solid at room temperature. It gives off a violet colored vapor when warmed.

Niobium (Nb) - It is a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. Its name comes from Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, the namesake of tantalum (see below). The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, making them difficult to distinguish.

Oxygen (O) - From the Greek words "oxy" and "genes" meaning acid forming. Most non-metals burn in oxygen to form acids eg. sulphur.

Phosphorous (P) - From the Greek word "phosphorus" which means "light bearing". It was also the ancient name for the planet Venus, usually the brightest "star" in the night sky. Phosphorous glows in the dark and catches fire in the air to give a bright flame.

Tantalum (Ta) - Named after King Tantalos. It was discovered in 1802 and great difficulties were encountered in dissolving its oxide in acid to form salts, which is most likely how it got its name--King Tantalos was imprisoned in Tartaros for serving the son he murdered to the Gods when They came to dinner. Tantalos' punishment for his actions was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any.

Titanium (Ti) - Named after Titans, members of the second generation of divine beings, descending from the primordial deities and preceding the Olympian deities. They are giant deities of incredible strength. Titanium is an extremely strong metal which resists attack by acids.
The 25th of the month of Thargelion marks the day of the Plynteria festival. This minor festival was held solely in Athens and surrounding areas and was in honor of Athena Polias, protector of the city. It was considered an auspicious day by the ancient Athenians because on this day, they did not have the protection of Athena. Around the time of the Pynteria the Kallunteria also took place, a festival during which the temple of Athena was cleaned thoroughly and Her sacred fires relit. Elaion will organize PAT rituals for both celebrationss and invites you to join us on 22 May and 24. Note! The Plynteria is a nighttime festival and thus not at the usual 10 am EDT.

Plutarch, in his 'Life of Alkibiades' describes the Plynteria festival beautifully:

"But while Alcibiades was thus prospering brilliantly, some were nevertheless disturbed at the particular season of his return. For he had put into harbour on the very day when the Plynteria of the goddess Athene were being celebrated. The Praxiergidae celebrate these rites on the twenty-fifth day of Thargelion, in strict secrecy, removing the robes of the goddess and covering up her images. Wherefore the Athenians regard this day as the unluckiest of all days for business of any sort. The goddess, therefore, did not appear to welcome Alcibiades with kindly favour and good will, but rather to veil herself from him and repel him. However, all things fell out as he wished, and one hundred triremes were manned for service, with which he was minded to sail off again; but a great and laudable ambition took possession of him and detained him there until the Eleusinian mysteries." [34.1]

During the Plynteria, the wooden statue of Athena was disrobed of the Peplos that she received during the Panathenaia by Her priestesses, veiled, and then taken down to the sea for a wash. Veiling a Theos' image from head to toe was considered apophras, unlucky, as it removed Their presence.

The women who removed the robe and jewelry from the ancient wooden image and then veiled her, were part of an Athenian family traditionally entrusted with this task. They were called the Praxiergidai. The procession to the sea, several miles away, was a city-affair. As all other sanctuaries and temples in Athens remained closed on this day, it's likely many attended.

In front of the procession was a single woman, carrying a basket of fig pastries (known as 'hegeteria'), for the fig was believed to be the first cultivated food, and was--like the sea water--a purifier. Mounted young men, known as 'epheboi' escorted the statue deep into the water before coming back to shore. Thee, it was bathed by two girls, the bathers (loutrides). A single priestess was most likely in charge of washing the peplos of the Goddess. her title has not survived. In the evening, a torch-lid procession brought the statue back to Her temple and she was redressed by the Praxiergidai. The statue may have remained veiled for the remainder of the day.

There is another, smaller, festival connected to the Plynteria: the Kallunteria, which was celebrated somewhere in the vicinity of the Plynthria. During this festival, the temple of Athena was swept out--the name of the festival means 'sweeping out' or 'to beautify by sweeping'--and cleaned thoroughly, so that the washed statue would have a clean home to return to. The lamp of Her eternal flame was also refilled and relit by the priestesses on this day. The lamp was a golden vessel, created in the late fifth century by Kallimakhos, and was big enough to hold enough oil to burn day and night for the whole year. It's therefor logical to assume that the festival was held on a day close to the twenty-fifth, possibly the twenty-fourth or twenty-sixth. Ancient sources state that the festival must have taken place after the Bendideia. From Proklos' 'Timaeus of Plato':

"For they say, that the Bendideia were celebrated in the Piraeus on the twentieth day of [Thargelion], but that the festival sacred to Minerva followed these."

Mikalson, in his 'The sacred and civil calendar of the Athenian year', gives the 24th as the date but stresses that the 24th is merely a estimation, and we, in fact, do not know when the festival was held. He assumes it could even have taken place after the Plynteria, and places the Kallunteria between the 24th and the 28th of the month, with the exception of the 25th, as that was the date of the Plyneria. Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood in 'Athenian Myths and Festivals' sets the date as the 27th with a somewhat unshakable certaintly. We have accepted the 27th as the possible date of the Kallunteria festival for our PAT ritual although we again stress that the date of the Kallunteria is unknown.

The rituals for the event can be found here for the Plynteria and here for the Kallunteria, and you can join the community page here.
With only the barest of margins, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has become Pandora's Kharis' Thargelion 2017 cause.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, they are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.

NAMI relies on gifts and contributions to support their work. They educate, advocate, listen to sufferers through the toll-free NAMI HelpLine, and lead awareness campaigns through public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness Awareness Week and NAMIWalks, successfully fight stigma and encourage understanding. All in order to make sure America understands how important mental health is.

The deadline to donate is May 26th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!
Archaeologists and scientists of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens are to study 1,070 skeletons found at Faliro, dating from around 2500 BC. The skeletons--that archaeologists believe belong to captives or slaves since they were found in shackles--were dug out of the ancient cemetery at Faliro, a southeastern seaside suburb of Athens. This is the largest and most extensive necropolis of the ancient world, among the most important antiquities found ever.

Archaeologists believe that by “decoding” the skeletons and their identity, they will learn important things about ancient Athenians. The skeletons are carefully preserved and guarded in the premises of the American School of Classical Studies in central Athens.

Researchers have started the study of hundreds of thousands of bones. The colossal project that will cost about one million euros is funded by American and Greek individuals. There are 1,300 crates containing bones of humans, equine and other creatures. It will take scientists and archaeologists at least six years to examine, study and preserve the 1,070 “Captives of Phaleron” as they have named them.

Many of the skeletons were found with their hands tied to their backs and with the faces in the soil. The researchers will have to find out why they were tied, how they died or how they were killed, why they were buried together, what relation they had with each other, where they come from, if they were Greeks or foreigners, if they were Athenians, if they were slaves of prisoners of war and why they were killed, answering to as many questions as possible. After answering all these questions, archaeologists will be able to draw conclusions about life in Athens in the period between the 8th and the 5th century BC.

Palaio Faliro is situated on the east coast of the Phalerum Bay, a bay of the Saronic Gulf, 6 kilometers southwest of Athens city centre. The necropolis is one of the biggest ancient burial grounds that have been found in Greece, revealing a total of 1,063 graves in an area of 2,981 square meters, including a horse burial site and sections of this mass grave, burial urns and other findings.
The ancient Hellenic calendar is a complicated affair. To make it easier to keep up with your home worship, I keep a Google calendar with the 'kata theion', the 'sacred month', and the festival days. It can be found here. Yesterday, I updated it for another half year. Since that took forever, this announcement is all the post you are going to get for today ;-)

Oh, don't forget I also have another calendar for you to follow on your phone or browser. This one is the Elaion event calendar, which will inform you of upcoming PAT rituals, as well as important dates for Pandora's Kharis. You can find it here. This one is updated as events come up.

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.

"Hi I have been led to believe that animal sacrifice particular of rams was fairly important in ancient Greek worship and I was wondering how this was handled in your practice."

The principal kind of Greek sacrifice was called 'thysia' and consisted of the killing of a domestic animal, usually cattle, sheep, goats or pigs. It was followed by the division of the meat between the divine recipient and the human participants. This practice was most definitely the cornerstone of the ancient Hellenic faith. It included animals for a reason: the act of killing, of taking the life of an animal, is a difficult one. It brings us closer to our own mortality. Sacrifice was the highlight of ancient Hellenic ritual.

I don't sacrifice animals in my practice. That said, I would be open to bringing animal sacrifice back if we could do it properly: if the sacrifice could be made with enough people to use all of the animal and to make the sacrifice count. If we had temples, a Hellenic village square, or another open and accepting environment to conduct these rites, then yes, I would 100% join in and I have been saying for years I would rather be butchering my own meat for consumption and of course, I would sacrifice the animal to the Theoi.

That said, I live in an urban area with neighbors who would very much disagree with the killing of an animal on their lawn. I live hours away from the nearest Hellenist. I am not licensed to butcher an animal, nor do I possess the skill to do so.

Personally, I think we are not ready to revive the practice of animal sacrifice. We are small, scattered, and divided on many things. We have no set or standardized practice--and we even differ on the opinion if we need one. I think we have quite a lot of other things to sort out before we can form a united front that can declare--unambiguously--why we need to perform animal sacrifices to fully practice our religion, and set up rules, guidelines, and classes to make these a reality in a legal, responsible manner.

I think we can and should bring back the practice, but not now. Not yet. Perhaps in ten years or so, maybe twenty. Once we are secure, once we are more recognized, once we are done chipping away at ourselves from the inside out. Perhaps then we will be able to bring back something so very important to the ancient Hellenes and the Gods we love so much.


"To your knowledge, is Hermes, as messenger of the gods, have any associations with bees? I know that bees were considered to be the messengers of the gods in the Ancient Near East contemporaneously, and that extends back to Hittite mythology centuries earlier. So, given how close Greek mythology is to Anatolian mythology at times, it would be interesting if that in particular carried over. "

I...know of a tiny connection, but I'm not sure it's entirely what you are looking for. Your question reminded me of the Thriai, three prophetic nymphs of Mount Parnassos in Phokis (central Greece). They are Goddesses of the art of divinitation by pebbles and of the birds of omen which were gifted to Hermes by Apollon. They were apparently envisaged as nymphs with the heads of women and the bodies of bees. They are referred to in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (IV):

"There are certain holy ones, sisters born--three virgins gifted with wings : their heads are besprinkled with white meal, and they dwell under a ridge of Parnassos. These are teachers of divination apart from me, the art which I practised while yet a boy following herds, though my father paid no heed to it. From their home they fly now here, now there, feeding on honey-comb and bringing all things to pass. And when they are inspired through eating yellow honey, they are willing to speak the truth; but if they be deprived of the gods' sweet food, then they speak falsely, as they swarm in and out together. These, then, I give you; enquire of them strictly and delight you heart: and if you should teach any mortal so to do often will he hear your response--if he have good fortune.

Take these, Son of Maia...so he spake. And from heaven father Zeus himself gave confirmation to his words, and commanded that glorious Hermes should be lord over all birds of omen . . . and also that he only should be the appointed messenger to Aides (Hades), who, though he takes no gift, shall give him no mean prize."

In a way, divination is communication from the Gods to humans, but I have to say I find the connection with Hermes...tenuous at best.


"I want to start making and using khernips, but due to various mental illnesses, I don't always have the energy to make it. I know there are some concerns with the shelf life of the water, but I was considering buying purification tablets to keep the water safe enough to have for long periods of time. Is it okay to use one 'batch' of khernips multiple times, or is making a new one each time required?"

Khernips, or lustral water, was exactly that--water. Khernips is created by dropping smoldering incense or herb leaves into (fresh and/or salt) water (preferably sacred spring water or sea water). When throwing in the lit item, one can utter ‘xerniptosai’ (pronounced 'zer-nip-TOS-aye-ee') which translates as ‘be purified’. Both hands and face are washed with khernips. The vessel holding the khernips is called a khernibeionas (Χερνῐβεῖον).  Khernips are the traditional way to cleanse yourself from miasma, ritual pollution.

When preparing Khernips entirely in advance and then storing it, I have noticed that the chemicals produced when setting something on fire actually impact water and if left out long enough--even when covered or contained, micro-organisms naturally in the water and added to it by the fire eventually start to multiply, causing the water to pollute. Maybe purification tablets would counteract this (a bit), but it wouldn't be my preferred option.

Do I think storing khernips ahead of time is possible? Yes. Is it the most desirable option? No. For me, preparing khernips before my ritual is as much a part of the ritual as tossing barley groats, singing the praise of the Gods and sacrificing with them. Ffollowing the same ritual steps ever day is a wonderful way to get in a ritual mood; repetition literaly deminishes miasma. If only because of that, I am in favor of preparing khernips fresh every ritual or at least every day.

As with anything concerning miasma, most books on ancient Hellas and/or Hellenic religion don't mention khernips at all, or under a synonym. As with miasma, I am going to assume this is because the evidence of its existence is so flimsy besides a resounding 'it was used and important'. My rather vast collection of scholarly material is silent on any details beyond the basic information already provided. As such, I am forced to speculate based upon what I know.

Personally, I tend to mix tap water with sea water into a large vessel from which I take a measure every evening to use throughout the day. I drop the smoldering firebrand (a match when traveling, a bit of burning wood or herbs when home) into the measure poured our, not the vessel itself. So, in short, I prepare the base in advance but the actual mixture on the spot. I only use one measure one day, after that, I dip it out onto the earth and replace it with a fresh batch before my evening rituals. Personally, I would advise this if you want to prepare things in advance.  Even the worry of cleaning yourself with polluted water would negate the use of khernips, after all, would it not?


"Hi! Will you ever upload more videos on YouTube? I really enjoy the content you have already shared but I (and I'm sure at least a few others) would love to see more! :) I apologize if this sounds rude, I don't intend to be. Theoi bless :)"

I would like to, yes, but I’m pretty much out of inspiration! I have one planned on a specific form of division practiced in ancient Hellas and recently worked out the barebones of one on the difference in practice between ouranic and kthonic sacrifice. If you guys have ideas, let me know! The core rule is as follows: the topic has to benefit from the visual element! If I can explain it better in writing or it would just be me sitting in front of a camera and talking, it’s out ;-)