I doubt it'll surprise you that I am beyond excited the olympics start off again in just a few short days. I'm a little gym rat (well, in my home gym once the renovations are completed) and I absolutely love watching others achieve their athletic goals. It also has a special place in my heart because the foundations of it lie in ancient Hellas.

An artist's impression of Altis, the sanctuary in Olympia

The Olympic Games were held every four years, like they are now, from 776 B.C. to A.D. 394. They were, however, part of a cycle of sports events, known as the Panhellenic Games. The Olympic Games were dedicated to Zeus, were held in Olympia, Elis, and were held every four years. The Pythian Games were dedicated to Apollon, were held in Delphi and were held every four years, starting three years after the Olympic Games. The Nemean Games were dedicated to Zeus also, were held in Nemea, Corinthia, and were held every two years. Lastly, the Isthmian Games were dedicated to Poseidon, were held in Corinth, and were also held every two years.

The most important events at the Olympic Games weren't the sport events; they were the sacrifices, offerings and other dedicatory practices which were continually performed during the five day event. There were also artistic happenings; writers, sculptures and painters showed what they could do in their given trade. Palmistry was practiced, wine flowed freely and there were a lot of prostitutes, who made more money in these five days than in the whole of a year without the sporting event. The Olympics were a festival unlike any other and every four years Hellas went nuts for it.

The opening ceremony was as spectacular as it is today, but in an entirely different manner; athletes filed into the arena and were presented to the audience. Then, they were presented to a towering statue of Zeus, who carried a thunderbolt and a heft scowl. They swore on a bloody slice of boar's meat that they would obey the rules of the competition and not cheat to gain victory.

The torch relay I take great joy in, was not practiced in Ancient Hellas. In fact, it was introduced in 1936 by Hitler in response to an idea by Carl Diem to further the reign of the Nazi's and, in their eyes, glorify the Aryan super race, the Spartans.

Not everyone was allowed to participate in the games; non-Hellenics and women were unable to compete. There were exceptions made for non-Hellenics, like Roman Emperor Nero, when the situation called for it, but women were never allowed to compete. Married women weren't even allowed to enter the arena. There was, however, a secondary series of sporting events held in honor of Hera where women competed.

The Olympic sport events back then were: chariot racing, wrestling, boxing, pankration, foot races, and the pentathlon which consisted of wrestling, stadion, long jump, javelin throw, and discus throw. Pankration was a fighting sport in which everything went. It was a kind of mixed martial-arts event in which broken bones were the norm, choke holds were encouraged and the only thing that you really couldn't do was gauge someone's eyes out. Everything else went. You won when the other guy went K.O.

Except the chariot races, all Olympic sports were performed naked. This included the Pankration, so you can imagine where most of the pain was inflicted. The woman weren't completely naked, but participated with one breast exposed, in honor of the Amazonian women who were said to be so incredible at sports and warfare alike.

Over 40.000 people came to watch the Games. Olympia was in the middle of nowhere. If you came from Athens, it meant a 340 kilometer (210 mile) long walk just to get to Altis. Because of the festival and the presence of the Gods, all these people traveled the distance anyway.

Winners of the Olympic Games got rather minor rewards; Olympic winners recieved a garland of olives, Pythian winners recieved a laurel wreath, Nemean winners recieved a wild celery garland and the Isthmian winner recieved a pine garland. There was no runner-up; you won or you lost. All athletes were bathed in fame and glory until they lost, but the winner was brought home to his polis a king. He would never have to work again, was covered in riches and women, and his name and family name would be forever remembered and honored.

The end of the Olympic Games is guestimated to 394 A.D. after a decree to cease all pagan festivals by Christian emperor Theodosius I.

Undoubtedly, there will be more olympics inspired posts on Baring the Aegis in the coming days. I might be on vacation but the posts will keep coming and I will definitely be catching every bit of the olympics I can!
A little news round-up today as my holidays have started and when this is posted, I will be in a car heading to Germany.


Mycenaean ‘Battle Krater’ on public display for the first time
The largest bronze artefact of the Mycenaean era known as the ‘Battle krater’ will be on public display for the first time in 140 years at Athens National Archaeological Museum in the framework of the ‘Unseen Museum’ programme. This reports Protothema.

kra1

The large silver vessel was discovered in the tomb of a prince during excavations carried out by Heinrich and Sophie Schliemann in Mycenae, in 1876. The find was made in the royal tombs within Grave Circle A, where both objects and funeral rites dating back to the 16th century B.C. and previously entirely unknown to archaeologists were discovered.

The largest surviving bronze artefact was eventually reconstructed and the battle depicting two rival hoplite groups fighting over a fallen warrior was restored.

The krater will be on display at the Hall of the Altar until September 25. Culture and Sports Minister Aristidis Baltas, who was shown around the storerooms, was present during the transfer of the find o the museum. On August 7 and 28 and on September 16 and 25, museum archaeologists will be greet visitors and talk about the artefact itself, as well as the rich variety of other grave goods interred alongside it, with that same early Mycenaean-era prince.


Athenian visitors ‘travel’ back to 5th century BC in a trireme
Also from Protothema: The Greek Navy invited some lucky visitors to journey back in time, as they took the oars of the Olympias trireme, a replica of the original vessel, at the Faliron gulf.


The trireme was a fast attack, light displacement vessel. It was rowed by 170 oarsmen, three rows per side, who were either poor citizens or dolos--slaves. A trireme would try to sink an enemy ship by ramming it from the side with its bronze nose. Alternative, they would sail past and allow the soldiers to throw spears at their enemy. Sometimes, however, they threw pots filled with burning liquids, or even poisonous snakes.

In 1985–1987 a shipbuilder in Piraeus, financed by Frank Welsh (an author, Suffolk banker, writer and trireme enthusiast), advised by historian J. S. Morrison and naval architect John F. Coates (who with Welsh founded the Trireme Trust that initiated and managed the project), and informed by evidence from underwater archaeology, built a reconstructed Athenian trireme, 'Olympias'. Crewed by 170 volunteer oarsmen, Olympias in 1988 achieved 9 knots (17 km/h or 10.5 mph). Additional sea trials took place in 1987, 1990, 1992 and 1994. In 2004 Olympias was used ceremonially to transport the Olympic Flame from the port of Keratsini to the main port of Piraeus as the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay entered its final stages in the run-up to the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Due to high maintenance costs, was subsequently put in dry dock at the Naval Tradition Park in Faliro, Athens, on November 25, 2005, where it has remained ever since.

The next voyage is planned by the Greek navy for August 28.
Time for another bit of ancient beauty! I love little gems like this. It is not truly a hymn as such, but more an invocation: a short work that is meant to supplicate. This one is to Apollon and the muse Kalliope, the muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry. It was written by Mesomodes.

Mesomedes of Krete (Μεσομήδης ὁ Κρής) was a Roman-era Greek lyric poet and composer of the early 2nd century AD. Two epigrams by him in the Greek Anthology are extant, and a hymn to Nemesis as well as one to Helios. The hymn is one of four which preserve the ancient musical notation written over the text. A total of 15 poems by Mesomedes are known. Prior to the discovery of the Seikilos epitaph in the late 19th century, the hymns of Mesomedes were the only surviving written music from the ancient world. The hymns to Nemesis, the muse Kalliope, and Helios can be read here and listened to here.

This version was reconstructed by Christodoulos Halaris and has been recorded on his album 'Music of Ancient Greece'. Greek composer and scholar Christodoulos Halaris is a leading expert on the study and reconstruction of ancient Greek and Byzantine music. He turned to musicology and composing after studying mathematics in Paris. Taking his cues from religious iconography and traditional popular Greek music, Halaris began reconstructing fragmentary (and sometimes nonexistent) old Greek music documents. He has published more than fifty CD's of this music and helped create the Museum of Thessalonica, devoted to Greek music. The English translations are from Ancient Greek Music by M. L. West, Oxford University Press, 1992.


Invocation to Apollon and Kalliope

Sing for me, dear Muse,
begin my tuneful strain;
a breeze blow from your groves
to stir my listless brain.
 
Skilful Calliope,
leader of the delightsome Muses,
and skilful instructor,
son of Leto, Delian Paian,
favour and be with me.
The results of the excavations conducted from May 30 until July 8, 2016 on the uninhabited islet of Despotiko, west of Antiparos (Cyclades), are in and they are very significant, shedding light on the history and the topography of the Apollon sanctuary. This reports the Archaeological News Network.


Systematic investigations at the Mandra site began in 1997 by archaeologist Yannis Kouragios (Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades) and have brought to light an extended Archaic sanctuary – the largest known so far in the Cyclades after Delos. Its peak is dated to the 6th century BC.

Until now, excavations have brought to light 15 buildings, ancillary to the temple, and an hestiatorion, a ritual dining hall. The cult center was a temenos protected by a precinct. Here, a marble portico temple and a ritual dining hall were built. Ritual dining rooms were invented by the Parians in the Archaic period. However, the site was in use earlier, in the Geometric period.

This year, the excavation of the two oldest buildings that came to light in front of the stylobate, the Archaic temple’s platform and the Archaic cult Building Δ. In particular, south of the Building Δ, the excavation of the partly preserved apsidal or ellipsoidal building O, dating back to the late 9th or the early 8th century BC (Geometric period) has been completed.

In 2012, south of the Building O and in front of the stylobate of the Archaic temple, part of the rectangular Building Ξ was excavated. This building dates back to the last decades of the 8th century BC and it was probably due to this building that Building O was destroyed.

In the north of these buildings, a layer with abundant skeletal remains and decorated pottery sherds came to light, dating from the 8th to the 6th century BC. This layer was used to build the Archaic Building Δ. Also found within the layer were metal objects, clay figurines, scarabs etc.

To the south of the temenos, extended surveys were conducted in the Buildings M and N, which had been partially excavated in 2015. Also, another building came to light, Building Π, with a temple-shaped ground plan, measuring 9.90 × 6.20 meters. This building dates back to the 6th century BC. Thus, during this excavation season it has been clarified that from the Archaic period until the Late Classical period, a building complex of 350 square meters, including Buildings Μ, Ν, Π, was in use.

In the atrium of Building M archaeologists found traces of a monumental structure (5×9.5m), with four strong walls of 1.5m height. They believe that the structure served as a cistern, until it was abandoned in the 4th c. BC, when it was buried again with stones and pottery sherds dating from the 7th to the 4th c. BC.

Probably at that time, the rooms of Building Μ and the small portico at its south side were built, while the buried structure served as an atrium to this building. At the same time, the four rooms in the south and east of the portico and the atrium were built (these also came to light during this year’s excavations). In two of them, well-preserved pebbled floors were found.

Outside the temenos, between the Buildings B and Z, part of another building was located. This will be further investigated in 2017. Furthermore, a strong-built structure came to light, a kind of protective precinct, 25 meters long and 1.1m wide, built in the Archaic period, when the sanctuary was in use, in order to protect the ancillary buildings outside the temenos. The precinct connected the harbor with the temenos.

Apart from the abundance of plain and decorated pottery sherds, dating from the late 9th until the 4th century BC, this year’s finds also include more than 40 lamps, 25 bases of vessels (skyphoi and phialai) with engraved inscriptions of the name Apollon, an inscribed sherd of the 6th century BC depicting one of Hercules’ labors, sherds of black-figure Archaic kylikes with images of warriors, red-figure kraters of a Classic-era Attic workshop depicting Dionysus, satyrs and maenads, Corinthian aryballoi and alabasters, Geometric zoomorphic figurines, scarab seals, Bronze fibulae and five sherds of the lower limbs of Archaic kouroi.

After this year’s excavations, it is clear that the sanctuary occupied a large area of the Despotiko peninsula and attracted many visitors, a fact that resulted in constant modifications and expansions of the site until the Late Classical era.
The 23th of Hekatombaion is traditionally the first night in a week long series of events that make up the Panathenaia festival. This birthday celebration of the city of Athenes and grand honouring of Athena was one of ancient Athens' highlights and people would have flocked there from afar to take part. Will you take part as well during two days of the event, namely the first and last? The first event will take place on the 27th of July and the second on August 3rd. For details on the times, see below.


The Panathenaia was an Athenian festival celebrated every year in honor of the Goddess Athena. The Lesser Panathenaia (Panathenaia ta mikra) was an annual event, while the Greater (Panathenaia ta megala) was held every four years and assimilated the practices of the Panathenaia ta mikra into itself. The set date for the festival was from the 23rd to the 29th of Hekatombaion and the festival was similar, in practice, to the Olympic Games but it had its own unique elements as well. In short, The Panathenaia was the 'birthday of the city' and referred to Athens. The actual practice was very involved but usually included:
  • A procession from outside of the city walls to the Acropolis
  • The hanging of a new (and elaborately woven) garment on the shoulders of the statue of Athena inside the Parthenon, named a Peplos.
  • A torch race
  • An all-night service called the Pannychos
  • A large offering (and ritual slaughter) of a hundred cows in honor of Athena
  • A meat meal for everyone at the city's expense
  • During the Panathenaia ta megala, wrestling competitions, athletic competitions, chariot races and many other horse-based games were also held. The Panathenaia was known for its boat races.
The athletic contests included foot races, wrestling, boxing, pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing), pentathlon (five-event contest: stade race, javelin-throw, discus throw, long jump, and wrestling), four-horse chariot and two-horse chariot races, horseback race, javelin-throw from horseback, apobatês race, pyrrhic dancing, euandria (physical fitness or beauty contest), torch relay race, and boat race.  All these events, except for the torch and boat races, were held in each of three age categories: boys (12-16), ageneios (16-20), and men (20+) and took place in the Agora until 330 BCE when a stadium was built in the outskirts of Athens.

Boat races were not typically part of Greek athletic festivals, but they may have found a place in the Panathenaic festival because of Athena's connection with boat-building. Pyrrhic dancing, physical fitness, torch relay race, and boat races were tribal competitions restricted to Athenian citizens, whereas even non-Athenians took part in the track and field and equestrian events.  Except for the four last-named contests, the prizes (for first and second place only) were varying numbers of amphoras filled with olive oil. The olive tree and its fruit were sacred to Athena and the oil was a very valuable commodity in the ancient world used for cooking, as soap, and as fuel for lamps.  The winning athletes normally sold their prize oil for cash. Besides the everyday usefulness mentioned above, olive oil was in great demand by administrators of the numerous athletic festivals throughout the Greek world. Athletes rubbed themselves with olive oil before competition and scraped it off afterwards with a metal device called a stlengis.

As an indication of value, in the fourth century B.C. the prize for the victor in the stade race (a 600 ft. long foot race) in the men's category was 100 amphoras of olive oil. In terms of today's dollar, the olive oil would be worth at a minimum $39,000 and the amphoras, which held the oil, about $1600.  Greeks from other cities were allowed to compete in all the athletic contests among individuals.  The competitions among tribes were limited to Athenians.

The two-mile torch relay race with four runners from each of the ten Athenian tribes was run from the altar of Eros outside the Dipylon gate to the Acropolis. The object was to win the race without causing the torch to go out.  The winning tribe received a bull and 100 drachmas. The fire of the winning torch was used to light the sacrificial fire on the great altar of Athena on the Acropolis. The torch race was part of an all-night (pannychos) celebration also involving music and dancing on the night before the most important day of the festival when the procession and sacrifice took place. The apobatês race and the boat race closed out the festival contests.

Three musical contests involved singers accompanying themselves on kithara (kitharôidos), singers accompanied by an aulos (a reed wind instrument similar to a clarinet or oboe), and aulos players.  The prizes for these contests were crowns (for first place winners only) and cash. For example, the first prize for the kithara-singer was an olive crown in gold worth 1,000 drachmas (at least $32,000 and 500 silver drachmas (at least $16,000).

Reciters called rhapsodes (literally, 'stitchers of song') competed at public festivals in the recitation of epic poetry, in particular the Homeric poems and other poems belonging to the Epic Cycle. They performed without musical accompaniment. Prizes are unknown.

The great procession the Panathenaia was known for assembled before dawn in the following order:
  • four little girls carrying a peplos for the life-size statue of Athena Polias 
  • priestesses of Athena and Athenian women carrying gifts 
  • sacrificial animals (bulls and sheep) for the communal meals of thanksgiving
  • metics (resident aliens), wearing purple robes and carrying trays with cakes and honeycombs for offerings 
  • musicians playing the aulos and the kithara
  • a colossal peplos (for Athena Parthenos) hung on the mast of a ship on wheels 
  • old men carrying olive branches
  • four-horse chariots with a charioteer and fully armed man (apobatês) 
  • craftswomen (ergastinai - weavers of the peplos) 
  • infantry and cavalry 
  • victors in the games 
  • ordinary Athenians arranged by deme
The procession made its way on the Panathenaic Way through the Agora towards the Acropolis.  Some sacrifices were offered on the Areopagus and in front of the temple of Athena Nikê next to the Propylaea (Gateway). Only Athenian citizens were allowed to pass through the Propylaea and enter the Acropolis. The procession passed the Parthenon and stopped at the great altar of Athena in front of the Erechtheum. Each year a newly woven peplos (robe) was taken by the craftswomen (ergastinai) into the Erechtheum and placed on a life-size old wooden statue of Athena Polias ('Guardian of the City'), while every four years in the Great Panathenaea, an enormous peplos was taken to the Acropolis for Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin) in the Parthenon. This peplos was so large that it was carried on the mast of a ship on wheels (like a float in a modern parade). The connection between the ship and Athena is unknown, but the use of a ship to carry the peplos must have seem appropriate in the fifth century after Athens had built the great fleet with which it dominated a large part of the Aegean world. This was followed by a huge animal sacrifice at the Athena's altar and representatives from each deme in Attica, chosen by lot, enjoyed a meat banquet along with bread and cakes.

The ritual for the first day of the Panathenaia can be found here. It includes a torch-lit procession (which can also be conducted with a wind light or electric candle) and libations to Athena in Her many forms related to the Panathenaia. It can be performed either in the night of the 27th of July or the daylight hours of the 28th (the 27th is the encouraged time).

The ritual for the last day of the Panathenaia can be found here. It honours Athena, Zeus, Agathos Daimon, Hera, Poseidon, and Hestia. We will be performing it at 10:00 AM EDT on 3 August.

If you would like to join our group for the event, please go here.
Beginning at sundown on the 25th of July, the Kourotrophos (child nurturers) were honoured. Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Aglauros and Pandrosos shall be sacrificed to. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual for this event in the daylight hours of the 26th. Will you join us?


The Kourotrophos are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. This specific offering is known from the demos Erkhia, but duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens.

In this ritual, we honor Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Aglauros and Pandrosos. Artemis is named Kourotrophos by Diodorus Siculus, a Hellenic historian, in book five of his library:

"And Artemis, we are told, discovered how to effect the healing of young children and the foods which are suitable to the nature of babes, this being the reason why she is also called Kourotrophos." [5.73.5]

Hesiod, in his 'Theogony', explains why Hekate is Kourotrophos:

"So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Eos (Dawn). So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young (kourotrophos), and these are her honours." [404]

Aglauros and her sister Pandrosos seem to have been fertility deities in Athens. They were eventually regarded as daughter of the Athenian king Cecrops, however, and myth tells us the sisters were entrusted with the care for Erichthonios, hidden away in a basket. He was the son of Athena and Hēphaistos, who grew to term in the Earth (Gaea), and would later rule Athens as king. 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 these accounts.

Gaea, as a mother and raiser of many children, of course receives honors as well during the Kourotrophos. Pausanias, in his 'Description of Greece' says:

"There is also a sanctuary of Ge (Earth) Kourotrophe (Nurse of the Young) [at Athens], and of Demeter Khloe (Green). You can learn all about their names by conversing with the priests." [1.22.3]

We are also considering adding Eirene, as Euripides, in Bacchae says the following about Her:

"The god [Dionysos], the son of Zeus, delights in banquets, and loves Eirene (Peace), giver of riches (olbodotes), goddess who nourishes youths (thea kourotrophos). To the blessed and to the less fortunate, he gives an equal pleasure from wine that banishes grief." [420] 

You can find the full version of the ritual here and you can follow the event of Facebook here.



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.


"Is there any way around having to use blood in certain sacrifices?"

So, I’ve read your question a couple of times and I am left wondering what information you have been reading that focusses so specifically on blood. If it’s a source for a specific rite then maybe there isn’t. If it’s a general source about animal sacrifice (but why, then, ask me about blood specifically and not animal sacrifice?) then yes, there are.

Very few modern Hellenists practice animal sacrifice due to logistics, ethics or law. Even in ancient times, poorer families and people with certain dietary or philosophical philosophies decided against sacrificing animals and giving cakes in the form of the required animal instead, or they focused on giving libations or First Fruit offerings, which is a fancy term to describe that the Theoi got the first portion of anything the family would consume.

So you don’t have to practice animal sacrifice in Hellenismos, but again, if this is a specific rite that somehow calls for blood (I don’t recall any but they could very well be out there), then maybe there isn’t.

~~~

"What do you make the fire to burn your offerings from? And what kind of bowl is it? I want to burn mine but I don't know how to do it safely inside and I have a lot of nosy neighbours so burning out in the garden daily is a no lol"

I burn everything, and because of privacy limitations, I burn everything indoors. For this I use bio-ethanol, the burning agent I use when building a fire indoors. This is a form of biofuel (fuel derived from biological sources), and a variation of denatured alcohol. It’s a clear, flammable liquid which burns without smoke and without scent. As such, it works very well for indoor use. Make sure to use a cast-iron or at least solid container to burn in! It gets hot and if it cracks, you will burn the house down. Make sure to test it out a couple of times and usually if it says ‘oven proof’, you’re good.

~~~

"Is it normal for hellenists to have multiple smaller altars? I think I mainly see people who have one altar, but personally I think it would be more appropriate for me to worship more than one God and I don't have other places of worship I could go."

Ah, there is a terminology issue here that has you tripped up. Easily fixed! There is a difference between an altar and a shrine. An altar is one of those basic necessities within Hellenismos, and it differs from a shrine. Where an altar is a 'work space', dedicated not so much to a specific deity, but used to do the bulk of the (daily) rituals, a shrine is a devotional area where an altar might be located. In ancient Hellas, the shrine was usually a temple, the altar an actual altar, standing outside of it. Household worship took place at a multitude of shrines. Labelling something a shrine, does not mean you can't sacrifice at these spots in your home. In general, you decorate a shrine but leave the altar rather bare.

~~~

"Hi! I want to bring an offering for Athena,mostly because I am interested in hellenism and Athena is the goddess I identify most with.I don't actually believe in hellenistic gods tho,so I wonder if that would be disrespectful?"

Disrespectful...? To whom? I doubt the Gods care whether you believe in Them or not. What I am wondering about, though, is why you want to sacrifice to something/someone you don’t believe in? What’s the point? Nothing is stopping you, though! Go right ahead. I am just not sure how useful it will be...

~~~

"I'm new to Hellenism and I've been going through your blog to learn, but I was wondering if rituals, altars, and sacrifices are required? Because I have very strict Christian parents who are not open to other beliefs and would not be able to do anything like that. Thank you in advance!"

That depends on if you want to be a Traditional Hellenist or not. The short answer is: yes, they are required. At the foundation of our faith is kharis--religious reciprocity--and traditionally, it is only established through proper ritual and regular sacrifice. The idea is that you give freely (and loudly) to the Gods and They give freely to you. So in a Traditional sense, they are required.

Now, if you truly can’t find a way to practice sacrifice (perhaps in the form of a libation; the easiest to hide), then... well, you would need to look at the religion and kharis from a more modern viewpoint. Dedication could then, in theory, become a way to establish kharis. Set a goal, tell whomever you are dedicating it to that it is for Them before you start, complete the goal and tell Them you have completed it in Their name. It has to be something that challenges you, though. And/or something that counts in the grand scheme of things. Some examples off of the top of my head:

- Dedicate a 5 mile run to Ares once you have worked up to it
- Volunteer for a good cause related to a deity (animals for Artemis, for example)
- Collect money or goods for a good cause related to a deity (cancer research for Asklepios or Apollon, for example)
- Learn a new craft and make something with it for Athena
- Do something nice every day for your family/a person in your family for a month and dedicate it to Hera

Things like that. I hope this helps!

~~~

"As a reconstructionist, how do you feel about communication with the theoi? are you the kind that's like yeh let's grab a pint and chat it up, or are you more like NO the gods are silent and we don't deserve their attention. cuz (most of) the gods are kinda brickwalling me and I'm just like could u maybe not."

I am... somewhere between that. I think the Gods are bigger than us and if we want Their attention, we need to go through the proper ritual steps. That’s what they are there for: in the ancient Hellenic religion, it was believed that the procession with loud singing and dancing and musical instruments drew the attention of the Theoi. Once you had that, you sang your hymns to make sure the Theoi who would be given sacrifice to would stick around to receive it. Then you said your prayers out loud as you sacrificed so they raised up to the Gods with the smoke of the sacrifice.

This ‘evening chat’-sort of thing that is prevalent more in modern Pagan worship is actually very Christian inspired. The Abrahamic Gods see all, after all, so you had better always play nice or there will be punishment. On the flip side, that also means that whenever you whisper a prayer or request for guidance to the Abrahamic God, He’ll hear it. And hopefully He’ll choose to help.

So I don’t have conversations with the Theoi. I have very meaningful interaction with Them, though, through ritual. And through that ritual I establish kharis and They will think of me every now and again and make my life better.

Remember: Hellenismos is a religion where the central figure(s) are the Gods, not the worshipper. We often think all religions are, but in the Abrahamic religions, for example, it is the other way around. God is there to guide, forgive and punish humanity. In Hellenismos, we are there to honour the Theoi and if they so see fit, They will help us. But it is not a given and it is not a requirement. They were worshipped because They were higher beings and They were undoubtedly there. As such, appeasing them and building a relationship with them was not just the smart thing to do but the essential thing to do, because your life and livelihood depended on it.