Archaeologists were stunned to find the ruins of an unknown ancient city which dates back to the 4th century BC, at an altitude of 1,200 meters on the Hellenic mountain of Pindos. Thus reports the  Greek Reporter. It is believed to be the highest archaeological excavation in Greece.



Some fragments of inscriptions which were found near the area of Kastri include the Greek letters “ΙΕΡ…” (ιερό/iero=sacred place) and have led archaeologists to believe that this might have been a very important place for the ancient Macedonians, filled with temples and places of worship. The exact name of this city is yet unknown.

The systematic excavation in Kastri brought to light large portions of the fortified acropolis of this ancient city and as all evidence proves it had a religious character. Even though the remains of the acropolis are highly damaged, the coins, the ceramics and the vast variety of metallic equipment reveal a well organized economy which obviously leads to a well organized life.

The excavation findings and the parts of architecture as well as the coins, date the city towards the end of the 4th century BC to the beginning of the 3rd, but the destruction of the acropolis (which is thought to have been very violent) is dated somewhere in the 2nd century BC. The large amount of copper arrows and fire traces prove that there was most likely some sort of warfare. According to the head of this excavation, Mrs Stella Drougou:
“Even though the findings are many and are very important, we still are unable to find the name of this city and of the God it worshipped. However, the rest of the evidence, including its geographical location and the findings, even the heyday of its acropolis towards the end of the 4th century BC, prove the importance of this city’s historical frame in the ancient Macedonian kingdom. All this data shows that our next excavation target should be at the east mountain slopes of Pindos with the certainty that in the future there can be a very interesting archaeological place in that area.”
It's been a while but I like to spend a post every now and again on the Delphic Maxims. they are very important for our faith and as such, talking about them--and keeping them in mind--matters. Today I want to talk about number 21: 'cling to discipline' (Παιδειας αντεχου).

I'm not sure if all of you are aware, but I am a bit on the Autism spectrum. Not diagnosed, but it runs (diagnosed) in the family. It's manageable and doesn’t affect my life much; it’s just something to remain vigilant of. One of my primary ‘symptoms’ is that I enjoy structure. I enjoy doing the same thing at the same time every day, or every week, or every month. I like things being predictable. I do my blog every day. I work out every day, with a specific schedule. My food intake is tightly controlled to fit macros and calories. I can work without breaks for 14 hours on end and never complain.

For me, doing these things does not require discipline. It might for others, but for me, doing things over and over is exactly what makes me happy. What I have to be vigilant about is the anxiety that comes from breaking my routine. If I do something solely because I can’t stop, I’m in trouble. And it’s happened quite a bit in the past.

Especially as a teenager, I often ended up hooked on things. I was smart enough to avoid drugs or alcohol (both of my parents are prone to addiction issues so I wasn’t going to risk it), but gaming, for example, has been a downfall. What took discipline was putting the controller down. I am not allowed to do Multiplayer Online games anymore because I still have trouble balancing the time I spent doing them. There are more examples, but that goes beyond the purpose of this post.

What I want to talk about today is discipline itself. Discipline, in general, means forcing yourself to behave in a manner not entirely comfortable to your own being. It means getting up to work out if all you want to do is lie around on the couch. It means heading to the office five days a week, even though the tasks suck. It means not doing all the things you want to do because other things are more important, or are better for you.

In order to exhibit discipline, you first need to be aware of your own behavior and your own inclinations towards life. In short, discipline requires the highest good of the ancient Hellenes: knowledge of the self. You need to know who you are in order to affect your own behavior. No matter who you are, facing all the good and all the bad in you takes discipline. There is nothing easy about it. It’s great to pat yourself on the back over all your fine qualities but the bad? No one wants to face the bad. And that is exactly the part that discipline speaks to.

‘Cling to discipline’, as a maxim, reminds me of two things: to do well in, and stick with all things I might not want to do but should do to help myself and others in the long run, and to learn as much about myself and the behavior I am inherently comfortable with so In don’t self-sabotage my life—like I have done often in the past. Discipline, to me, means working towards a better version of yourself, and I believe the ancient Hellenes might have viewed it in the same way. It’s a worthwhile endeavor, after all.
Sorry, zero time! Let me share ancient words with you, the ancient words of the Batrachomyomachia. The Batrachomyomachia (Βατραχομυομαχία) or the Battle of Frogs and Mice is a comic epic or parody of the Iliad, definitely attributed to Hómēros by the Romans, but according to Plutarch the work of Pigres of Halicarnassus, the brother (or son) of Artemisia, queen of Caria and ally of Xerxes. The word 'batrachomyomachia' has come to mean 'a silly altercation'.
The plot is as follows: a mouse drinking water from a lake meets the Frog King, who invites him to his house. As the Frog King swims across the lake, the Mouse seated on his back, they are confronted by a frightening water snake. The Frog dives, forgetting about the Mouse, who drowns. Another Mouse witnesses the scene from the bank of the lake, and runs to tell everyone about it. The Mice arm themselves for battle to avenge the Frog King's treachery, and send a herald to the Frogs with a declaration of war. The Frogs blame their King, who altogether denies the incident. In the meantime, Zeus, seeing the brewing war, proposes that the gods take sides, and specifically that Athena help the Mice. Athena refuses, saying that mice have done her a lot of mischief. Eventually the gods decide to watch rather than get involved. A battle ensues and the Mice prevail. Zeus summons a force of crabs to prevent complete destruction of the Frogs. Powerless against the armoured crabs, the Mice retreat, and the one-day war ends at sundown.


The Batrachomyomachia
 
Into my soul, fair Heliconian train,
Enter, and fill me with your tuneful quire!
For on my knees my tablets have I ta'en,
To heap them full of strife and tumult dire;
Hear, sons of men! while with poetic fire
I sing how mice the frogs in fight withstood,
Performing deeds of valour in their ire,
That mock'd the achievements of the giant brood:—
As Fame, the story told, thus rose the deadly feud:—

A thirsty mouse, escaping from a cat,
Dipp'd his soft whisker in a neighbouring lake;
Him, while upon its verdant marge he sat,
With its sweet stream his panting thirst to slake,
A croaking native of the pool bespake,
"Who art thou? what thy race? whence hast thou come,
Reply with truth, no fraudful answer make,
For I shall lead thee to my royal dome,
If worthy of my love — and make my house thy home."

"I am the king Physignathus, whose sway
Is own'd through all these waters, high and low;
Me, as their rightful lord, the frogs obey,
And to my sceptre long have loved to bow.
Peleus, the prince to whom my birth I owe,
Wedded his bride Hydromedusa fair,
In amorous transport on the banks of Po;
Thee too, thy vigorous form and lordly air
A sceptre-bearing chief, and warrior tried declare."
The remnants of the Acra, a fortress built by the Hellenic King Antiochus IV more than 2,000 years ago and sought for over 100 years, has emerged from a parking lot in Jerusalem, Israeli archaeologists have announced.

 
Mentioned in Jewish biblical sources and by historians like Josephus Flavius, the fortress was unearthed after 10 years of excavations under the parking lot.The discovery solved one of Jerusalem’s greatest archaeological mysteries, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
 
The archaeologists unearthed a section of a massive wall, which they said was the base of an imposing tower measuring 66 feet long and 13 feet wide. In addition, the wall’s outer base was coated with layers of soil, stone and plaster. The specially designed slippery slope was meant to keep attackers away.
 
Coins dating from the reign of Antiochus IV to that of Antiochus VII, as well as wine jars imported from the Aegean region were also unearthed, providing evidence of the citadel’s chronology, as well as the non-Jewish identity of its inhabitants. Among the ruins, the archaeologists also discovered lead slingshots, bronze arrowheads and stone catapults, all stamped with a trident, which symbolized the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC).
 
According to historical sources, the Acra fortress was occupied by mercenaries, and Hellenized Jews which produced great sufferings in Jerusalem’s residents. The stronghold withstood all attempts at conquest and only in 141 BC was it conquered by the Hasmonean king Simon Maccabeus, after a long siege and the starvation of the Hellenic defenders. According to Doron Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets and Salome Cohen, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority:
 
"This stronghold controlled all means of approach to the Temple atop the Temple Mount, and cut the Temple off from the southern parts of the city. [These items] are the silent remains of battles that were waged there at the time of the Hasmoneans, in their attempt to conquer the citadel which was viewed as a ‘thorn in the flesh’ of the city. This sensational discovery allows us for the first time to reconstruct the layout of the settlement in the city, on the eve of the Maccabean uprising in 167 BC."
I assume we are all familiar with the myth of Persephone's abduction into the underworld? Cliffnotes version: Zeus and Hades agreed thad Persephone, Zeus' daughter would marry the Gods of the Underworld. This decission took her away from hr mother Demeter, who stopped making the ground fertile. Nothing grew and mankind suffered. So it was decided that Persephone spent part of the year with her husband underground and part of the year above ground, with Her mother. This appeased all paries and mankind survived.

Today I would like to share an animated version of this myth by 'Animated Tales of the World'. This was a 2001 American animated series that aired on HBO. this short episode focusses solely--and very beautifully so--on this myth. I found it quite moving and absolutely beautifully done! Enjoy!


I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.


"I don't read or speak Greek and want to get some ancient texts in book form. Should I get the English versions or the one in my native language? I have looked at those in my native language and most seem greatly influenced by Christianity. "

In general, it helps getting a version translated from the Greek, not the English, if you go for one in your native language. I have a few translations of various books and I have found that those based upon English translations usually base them on order ones--which are greatly influenced by Christian thinking. In general, if you are okay with English, I would go for an English translation.
 
***

 "I wonder, as God of War may involve the main character killing off Olympic gods, if you might find that game blasphemous?"

You know what, I think about things like that a lot, actually. I wonder about it when watching some TV show which does something horrid with the Theoi or play a game or whatever. Is this blasphemous?  And then I read some of the ancient plays and remember that even the ancient Hellenes had no issue at all with using representations of the Gods for their amusement. And the Gods never seemed to mind. There is a difference between the Gods and the characters in these games, movies, and series. Those characters are not my Gods. I think, in general, that distinction is very important to remember.


***

"Is there a certain ceremony I should do to devote myself to Apollon or should I just speak with him and tell him my wishes?"

Oh boy, am I ever not the right person to ask about the Neo-Pagan side of Hellenic Polytheism! Okay, what you ask sounds like personal patronage to me and I feel like that has no place in Hellenismos. Not in the Recon version I practice, anyway. Hellenism has its own beautiful system of kharis, and because of that, there is no need to bring in a modern concept like patrons. Modern patronage is a beautiful thing but unfortunately, I can't answer any questions about it because it's foreign to the ancient Hellenic religion. Sorry.


***

"Should I use diluted or undiluted wine (I only have red is that fine?) in my libation? And if diluted how much should my water to wine ratio be?"

That depends, are you worshipping 'Ouranic' or 'Khthonic' Gods? 'Ouranic' is a term that applies to Theoi and practices who reside or that are associated with Mount Olympos, home of many of the Theoi. As such, Ouranic deities are also referred to as 'Olympians'. Ouranic deities tended to receive wine libations that were mixed with water. 'Kthonic' refers to deities or spirits of the Underworld or the earth, and the rituals associated with Them. Khthonic deities received either wineless libations (water, milk, and honey, usually), or wine libations of unmixed wine.

It's unclear how diluted the wine was for Ouranic libations. Sources state that for a Symposium--a (non-religious) assembly--the best mix (depending on the wine, of course) was one part wine to about three or four parts water, but a dilution of 1/20 appears in the writings of Hómēros. Personally, from experience, I would say that a mixture of one part water to two or three parts water is best. This way the libation doesn't murder your fire.


***

"I've heard some say among our tradition that after death we either become Gods ourselves (Orphic Hellenismos) like Heracles, while others say we pass on to Elysium. I was wondering because you are very much a spiritual leader what you believe on the subject and any details you may provide."

Let me start off by saying I am not an expert in Orphism. I don't follow a Mystery Tradition in my own practice, after all. That having been said, let me give this a try.
 
Orphic ideas of the soul and afterlife are most often defined by explicit contrast with the Homeric view of the afterlife, which is taken as the standard view for ancient Hellenic culture. The Homeric afterlife is that of a grim, joyless and tedious existence in the Underworld. The Underworld of Homeros exists solely--at least for the now departed mortal--of the Asphodel meadows. The dead drink from the river Lethe and forget who they were. Sacrifical (animal) blood returns a sense of life to the shades and they recover their memories for a short time. In this tradition, life is lived while you are alive. One you die, you are dead. You might cling to life, but you will never truly be part of it again.
 
The Orphics were an ancient mystical cult with affinities to Indian religious systems. They believed in reincarnation and the possibility of liberation. Orpheus, the movement's legendary founder, is said to have taught that soul and body are locked together during life; the soul is divine, immortal and aspires to freedom, and during life, the body acts as a prison to the soul. Death releases the soul for a short while, but is then captured by another body until that, too, dies, and so the soul moves from body to body--both human and animal--until it can attain the highest good: liberation. In order to reach liberation, the Orphic way teaches to turn to God by ascetic piety of life and self-purification: the purer the life lived, the higher will be the next reincarnation, until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever as God from whom it comes.
 
The ancient Hellenes called this process 'Metempsychosis' (μετεμψύχωσις). It is a philosophical term which refers to the transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. The notion that the human soul enters another body upon death, though unfamiliar in Hellenic religion, was widespread in Hellenic philosophy. The doctrine of transmigration is first associated with the Pythagoreans and Orphics and was later taught by Plato and Pindar. For the former groups, the soul retained its identity throughout its reincarnations; Plato indicated that souls do not remember their previous experiences. Although Herodotus claims that the Hellenes learned this idea from Egypt, most scholars do not believe it came either from Egypt or from India, but developed independently.
 
My personal believes of life after death have shifted over the years. I transitioned into Hellenismos from Eclectic Religious Witchcraft and in my former Tradition, reincarnation was the primary belief. Since the ancient Hellenes had a version of it in metepsychosis, I simply went with that. Now, the older I get and the better my understanding becomes of the ancient Hellenic culture and religion, the more I pull to a more Homeric version of the afterlife. A bit later, perhaps, where Elysium is an option for those who live the highest, purest, of lives. I long for the meadows now. I don't strive for Elysium; I don't think it's for the common folk like me. Give me the meadows and the water of the river Lethe. Let me live life to the fullest. Let me live its up and downs. Give me the completion of my goals and my challenges, and then let me forget and wander in contentment, remembered sometimes--hopefully fondly--by those I leave behind.
Archaeologists think they may have found the city of Kane, site of a major battle between Athens and Sparta during the Peloponnesian war, reports National Geographic. The island, mentioned by the ancient Hellenic historian Xenophon, is famous for its proximity to the 406 B.C. sea battle of Arginusae, at which the Athenians defeated the Spartans near the end of the Peloponnesian war.


Ancient historical sources refer to three Arginusae islands, but the exact location of the third has long been unclear. The Arginusae islands, now called the Garip islands, lie only a few hundred yards off the coast of Turkey. Researchers drilled into the ground and used geological evidence to reveal that what is now a peninsula was once an island. At some point before the late Middle Ages, a land bridge formed between island and shore. An Ottoman map from the 16th century shows the island had already become a peninsula by that point.

It appears the island may have been connected to the mainland by deposits that formed in a narrow natural channel, possibly as a result of earthquakes or the erosion of mainland agricultural fields.
The scientists plan to determine the ages of the geological layers using radiocarbon dating, which will help them better understand how this happened. Archaeologists also found the submerged remains of an ancient harbor from the Hellenistic period (323 B.C. to 31 B.C.) nearby, another indication that the peninsula was once an island.

Though Kane was only a small city in antiquity, it held a place along a strategic maritime trade route running from the Black Sea along the southern coast of Turkey, with a large harbor where ships could shelter from storms. Previous research uncovered pottery on the island that suggested trade routes; now certain microorganisms native to the Black Sea that were likely carried in by boats to the nearby port of Elaia offer additional evidence of trade networks.

It’s unlikely that any of the wooden shipwrecks from the battle of Arginusae would have survived, but future research will aim to establish a timeline from the drilled cores and combine this data with historical sources to better understand the maritime networks of the broader region.

For the full article and several images of archaeological finds, the peninsula itself, and some of its researchers, please visit National Geographic.
For Maimakterion 2015, Pandora's Kharis members have selected three great causes to choose from for their Maimakterion 2015 donation run. Two focus on animal rights and wellfare, and the other focussess on the homeless of New Orleans.


Animal Defenders International
Animal Defenders International (ADI) is a major international campaigning group, with offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, who lobby to protect animals on issues such as animals in entertainment and their use in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; factory farming; pollution and conservation.

The organization has been involved with several international animal rescues, funding both the relocation and rehoming of circus lions, tigers, chimpanzees and other animals and has become a major force for animal protection, succeeding through its undercover investigations in securing legal protection for animals.



The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE and supports projects in 27 countries worldwide. It reaches out to those in greatest need through the provision of permanent refuge and veterinary services to alleviate their suffering. Over 50 million donkeys and mules exist in the world. Many need care and protection from a life of suffering and neglect, whilst others have a vital role to play in human survival and happiness; they are at the heart of everything they do at The Donkey Sanctuary.


 
 
The New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA) is non-profit organization comprised of self-identifying vampires representing an alliance between Houses within the Community in the Greater New Orleans Area. Founded in 2005, NOVA was established to provide support and structure for the vampire and other-kin subcultures and to provide educational and charitable outreach to those in need.
 
NOVA is composed of artists, priests, mystics, lawyers, teachers, writers, parents, married couples and single individuals. NOVA as a group cuts across the socio-economic and ethnic spectrum. Like the legends of the vampire that the members invest in as a personal reality, NOVA finds its members in every segment of life.


 
Do you have a favourite out of these three? Vote for your favourite in our poll until December 1. We will announce this month's winner on December 2, 2015.
The months of late fall and early winter are relatively light on the festival agenda--Maimakterion, the month we are in now, wasn't even on the sacrificial calendar of Erchia, for example. This could have at least three reasons: It's getting cold and wet out and the ancient Hellenes held their rituals outdoors, most of the harvesting was done so food was assured or there was nothing that could be done to decrease the shortage, and with the fall of winter, warfare came to a halt; the seas were too rough to go on campaigns and it would soon be too cold to exist comfortably in a war camp. Seeing as these two latter two reasons were the major ones to have festivals, these months are quiet ones. In the Athenian calendar, only two festivals are attested to take place this month, and both are very minor--and archaic. Today, we speak of just one: the Pompaia, as Elaion will host a PAT ritual for the event today, at the usual 10 AM EST.


Let start with something obvious we do not know about the Pompaia: the actual date of the festival. We know it must be somewhere in the beginning of the month, but that is about it. The tenth is a decided upon date for a festival that was not originally celebrated by the people of Athens, but solely by its priests. Potentially, it was only celebrated by the priests of Zeus.

What we do know is that the Pompaia--like many festivals at this time of year--was linked to purification. It was one of the festivals that, by Classical times, had already lost much of its original meaning, but which was repeated year after year because it had always been repeated year after year--and in general these had been good years. Not having the rite on the calendar could have devastating effects, so it was performed.

Very few details remain: we know that the sacrifice was a sheep. Without further explination, it was most likely white. If the rite followed the standard practice of Hellenic ritual, the sheep was led to the altar--most likely that of Zeus (Meilichios)--in procession and then sacrificed. The animal was skinned and the fleece cleaned. At that point, a second procession took place--this time with the fleece. The fleece--the 'Diòs Koidion', as it was called--was said to have purifying and other magical qualities that would rub off on he who interacted with it, if he stood on it with his left foot.

In fact, a sheep skin was used in the Eleusian Mysteries in this fashion to absolve those who had a lot of guilt to carry around--or a lot of grief. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter mentions her sitting down in a chair covered by a fleece, and there is also artwork of initiates shrowded in a fleece.

The sheep skin was most likely not connected to Zeus at the start of the practice; as we have seen, it had much stronger ties to other deities. The Pompaia rite simply called for a sheep skin. The connection with Zeus most likely happened through assimilation: the rite fell in a month where people prepared for winter and where the weather got harsher. As such, Zeus had a major impact on the inhabitants of Athens; he controls the weather after all. The sheep from which the skin was used became sacrificed to Him as an appeasement, and then the ritually charged skin made its way through the city.

In the same fashion, the kērukeion (κηρύκειον)--better known as the kaduceus--the snake-entwined staf that was the symbol of Hermes, was carried through the city. Most likely Hermes was not part of the actual rite; the kērukeion, like the Diòs Koidion, was a powerful symbol which was used to offer protection and purification to the city now winter was upon them. After all, the kērukeion was said to ward off all evil--and the cold, dark, days of winter most certainly had those. Hermes was added through the procession solely by association, but it is doubtful that He also recieved an animal sacrifice.

The Pompaia--meaning 'to exorcise'--was not popular, and in general these minor festivals were performed by the priests, for the city, without its inhabitants taking part. A small group of priests most likely walked the city with the objects and those who came upon the group would have said their prayers, spoke their wishes, and paid their respects. Yet, they were not included in the ceremony. This rite fell to the priests, so they could ask the Gods to continue placing their blanket of protection over the city.

As we have no ancient priests of Zeus hanging around, we take this responsibility upon ourselves instead. Will you join us on November 22, at 10 AM EST? You can join the community here and download the ritual 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.


"You recently answered a question about mythology and if it's real or not. You didn't answer if you think monsters are real as well. Do you? How about demi-gods? Are they currently amongst us?"

I feel about monsters the same way I do about all other aspects of mythology: they are real. They are the skeletons of dinosaurs and early mammals. They are the divine challengers of our Gods and heroes, They are the stories of the ancient Hellenes. There is no differnece between them. They are all facets of the same thing. I believe that if the ancient Hellenes had not found a field of mammoth bones, the Titanomachy and then the Gigantomachy would never have (retroactively) taken place in mythology, lending power to the Theoi. I believe  that the rise and fall of sea levels are caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth as much as I believe Kharybdis causes it. Facets.
 
As for demigods... define demigods. Do I think there is a camp in the woods somewhere with the offspring of Gods (even if they are traditionally considered virginal) like in Percy Jackson? No. But then again, what do I know? For Like I said before, I am sure there was someone like Herakles (or many men like Herakles!) who performed amazing feats of strength and endurance. I think those people exist today. On the one hand I think they are mortals, born from mortal parents, who grew up to do amazing, divinely inspired things. On the other hand, I believe they are the offspring of a God and a mortal. Even in ancient Hellas, these views were held. There was almost always a mortal father as well--and in case of twins, sometimes one was divine and the other wasn't. I am absolutely sure the Gods inspire mrtals to do great things, even today. The ancient Hellenes would have included the lives of these people in mythology and would probably have made them offspring of the Gods. In that regard, I believe in demigods with every fiber of my being.

Point is, science is quantifiable. Whether divinely influenced or not, gravity will always pull down the falling apple at the same speed if the apple always weighs the same and water will always boil at 100 degrees celcius in our atmosphere. On Mars, things would be completely different, obviously. I believe in these simple facts. I also believe the Protogenoi and Uranides make up the fabric of our world and are thus directly responsible for these facts being true. For me, they are one and the same and they are equally true whether you look at it from the side of science or religion.

 
***

"In Hellenic Polytheism, what rituals are made when someone has recently died?"

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-honoured 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.

During the actual funeral, a related mourner first dedicated a lock of hair, then provided the deceased with offerings of honey, milk, water, wine, perfumes, and oils mixed in varying amounts. Any libation was a khoe; a libation given in its entirety to the deceased. None was had by the mourners. A prayer to the Theoi--most likely Hermes Khthonios--then followed these libations. It was also possible to make a haimacouria before the wine was poured. In a haimacouria, a black ram or black bull is slain and the blood is offered to the deceased. This blood sacrifice, however, was probably used only when they were sacrificing in honour of a number of men, or for someone incredibly important. Then came the enagismata, which were offerings to the dead that included milk, honey, water, wine, celery, pelanon--a mixture of meal, honey, and oil--and kollyba--the first fruits of the crops and dried fresh fruits.

Unlike the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Hellenes placed very few objects in the grave, but monumental earth mounds, rectangular built tombs, and elaborate marble stelai and statues were often erected to mark the grave and to ensure that the deceased would not be forgotten. Grave gifts were allowed in many places, but could not cost more than a set amount all together. These elaborate burial places served as a place for the family members to visit the grave with offerings that included small cakes and libations. The goal  was to never be forgotten; if the dead was remembered always, and fed with libations and other offerings, their spirit would stay 'alive' forever. That said, especially in Athens, names on grave markers were restricted to women who died in childbirth and men who died in battle.

The epitaphios logos, or funerary oration, was deemed an indispensable component of the funeral ritual, especially in ancient Athens, where it came into practice around 470 BC for the honoured (war) dead. A large part of Hellenic rituals of the dead speak of honouring the dead by name, so their names will never be forgotten, their honour never lost. This practice starts with the epitaphios logos, in which the deceased is remembered for their greatest of deeds. Because Plato was eternally weary of the abilities of others to conduct the oration in the way it was intended, he made a guide for it, describing the four steps. It started with the preamble, which describes why this oration is held and how the audience should behave during it and after it. This part tends to include an apology from the speaker that he or she will never do true justice to the achievements of the dead. Following that, there is a long talk of the origin and ancestors of the deceased, followed by an account of the bravery and other good attributes of the dead. this part tended to include they devotion to the Athenian Polity. Finally, there was an epilogue, which constitutes a consolation and an encouragement for the families of the dead. The epilogue employs a traditional dismissal of the mourners.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, but many modern, western, funeral rites bear striking resemblance to the customs of the ancient Hellenes.


***

"I would really love to hear whatever you have to say on the subject of Elysium."

The ancient Hellens 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.

The ancient Hellenes believed the dead have three places to go in the Underworld: Tartaros, where those who are punished for all eternity remained, the Asphodel meadows, where everyone who had lived a good life wandered about endlessly, and the Elysian Fields, where the children of Gods, the blessed dead and those who had lead extraordinarily honorable, brave or otherwise well-respected lives resided.

The Elysian Fields were typically divided into two sections: the Island of the Blessed and the Lethean Fields of Hades. The Elysian Fields, or 'White Island' is the final resting place for the souls of heroes. It was an island paradise located in the far western streams of the river Okeanos and ruled over by either Kronos or Rhadamanthys, a Judge of the Dead. The second Elysium, the Lethean Fields of Hades, is a netherworld realm. It's located in the depths of Haides beyond the river Lethe. Its fields were promised to initiates of the Mysteries who had lived a virtuous life. When the concept of reincarnation emerged and spread in ancient Hellas the two Elysian realms were sometimes tiered--a soul which had thrice won passage to the Lethean Fields, would, with the fourth, be transferred permanently to the Islands of the Blessed to reside with the heroes.

It's important to note that over the course of time, Elysium evolved. Hómēros didn't mention anything like it and refers only to the Meadows for all those noble souls who have died. Hesiod mentions a special realm for heroes. Pindar, by the 5th century BC, seperates the two in his Odes. By Roman times, writers such as Virgil combine the two Elysia. Many views of the same place survive and many more most likely existed. Such is the nature of something only discoverable after death.


***

"Do you have any info, holidays, special activities, etc. on Hera?"

There are a few festivals of Hera that were celebrated in ancient Athens and Erchia, a demos near Athens. There were most likely others but much of that information has been lost. This is the list I have, in sequence of the festival year:

Metageitnion 20Sacrifice to Hera ‘Telkhinia’ at Erchia
Boedromion 3Plataia – festival of reconciliation, sacred to Hera Daidala
Gamelion 27 – Theogamia/Gameliacelebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus Teleios and Hera Telei
Gamelion 27Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus Teleius, and Poseidon at Erchia


Note that Hera would also have been honoured during any festival to Zeus and in many rites concerning Her children.
Ancient Origins recently posted a very interesting article about Minos' labyrinth. For those of you not aware of it, the Labyrinth is related to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Theseus (Θησεύς) was fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, whom had both slept with his mother Aethra, and was thus destined to become a hero. When he heard about the Minotaur of Krete, and the nine-yearly sacrifices to it--a punishment by King Minos of Krete for the death of his son Androgeus, at the hands of Athenian assassins--Theseus offered to be one of the youths who sailed for Krete. Once there, Ariadne, daughter of the king, fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur the youths would be sacrificed to. With Ariadne's aid, Theseus defeated the Minotaur, and brought the sacrificial children home.


The labyrinth was supposedly located at Knossos. The palace there certainly existed. Knossos was  the capital of Minoan Krete. The ruins of the palace are located about twenty minutes south of the modern port town of Iraklio. Knossos was inhabited for several thousand years, from the neolithic to 1375 BC, when it was abandoned after its destruction. The first palace on the low hill beside the Krairatos river was built around 1900 BC on the ruins of previous settlements. It--and many of the other buildings--were destroyed around 1700 BC by an earthquake or invaders. It was rebuild and destroyed or damaged again and again by earthquakes, volcano eruption, invaders and fires, until its abandonment. With its demise came the demise of the Minoan civilization.

Ancient Origins now discusses the possibility of the Labyrinth not being located at Knossos but on Krete, at Labyrinth Cave. As Ancient Origins reports: the Labyrinth Cave is an ancient quarry-cave located near the town of Gortyn, in the southern part of Krete. In the past, there were three different places speculated to be the ‘true’ Labyrinth. For many of the island’s locals, it was the Labyrinth Cave near Gortyn that was the Labyrinth of the Minotaur myth.

Labyrinth Cave is not a maze but rather, a complex system of corridors which may give a ‘labyrinthine’ impression to those visiting the cave for the first time. Indeed, within the Labyrinth Cave there are tunnels longer than 2.5 km (1.6 miles) and several rooms that led nowhere.These chambers actually served as quarries for the extraction of stone that was then used in the construction of buildings in nearby towns and cities. Constructions believed to have come from this quarry include: Phaestus, a Minoan palace, and the town of Gortyn when the island was under Roman rule.

For more on the cave and many pictures, please visit Ancient Origins. I think the cave is fascinating and it could easily be the birthplace of the myth of the Minotaur.
Have you heard of the 'Greece is...' magazine? It was inaugurated in the summer of 2015, with its first issue dedicated to Santorini, one of the world’s most beloved and coveted travel destinations. The second issue, 'Greece Is Athens - Summer Edition', is a treasure trove of information on Athens from past to present, distributed exclusively at the Acropolis Museum. The third is about the Peloponnese. The latest issue, 'Greece Is Democracy', on the occasion of the 3D Athens Democracy Forum, celebrates and relates to the birth, reality and influence of Athenian democracy, through a compilation of original articles by esteemed Greek and international academics, authors and journalists. If you have not read them yet, you might want to invest the time!




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.


"Regarding the overhaul to the setup of the blog: I only have one item that I'm concerned about, and that's the fact that all posts appear to be undated now. I liked having dates, as it makes it easier to cite entries on this blog as sources for academic purposes. Can we have the dates back, please? :)"

So, I hadn't even noticed that! Thank you for pointing it out! It's back now, in the bottom beam, next to the share buttons, above the labels. I'm still tweaking things, by the way, on the new lay-out. Nothing major but still. If you notice something amiss or missing, let me know!


***

"I was curious if there was a specific reason that milk wasn't drunk by the Ancient Greeks?"

Mostly, the ancient Hellenes considered anything their non-Greek speaking neigbours did 'barbaric'--and their neighboors drank milk. Peasants drank milk--because hey, precious food--but most likely they used most of the milk they got from their sheep, cows, and goats to make cheese. It's an old custom to link milk to barbarism, by the way. It's already in Hómēros' 'Odysseia' in which the cyclops that tried to eat Odysseus and his crew drank milk:

"He curdled half the milk and set it aside in wicker strainers, but the other half he poured into bowls that he might drink it for his supper." [IX]

This observation follows after it's minutely detailed how the crew ate only cheese and sacrificed only cheese as well. Speaking of sacrifice: milk was also an oft-given gift to the dead. We, generally speaking, avoid eating things we associate with the dead to avoid miasma. So cheese is fine, yoghurt is fine, but milk is not.


***

"Can I be a Hellenic Polytheist if I worship just a few Olympian gods, and two of them aren't Zeus and Hera? I mean... I don't want to be disrespectful to any of the Theoi, is just that I don't feel a connection with the 12 (and Poseidon kind of scares me) but if worship all the Olympians is the 'right' thing to do, I will do it the best I could. Sorry if my doubts are dumb, i'm new in this."

There are no dumb questions, I promise. Okay, so, short answer: yes, technically, you can be an Hellenic Polytheist as long as you worship more than one Hellenic God. 'Recon' is out but 'Polytheist' would still work. This is technically. Personally, I feel anyone who wishes to call themselves an Hellenic Polytheist needs to understand that the Theoi come as a package deal, a family, a world ecompassing whole that cannot function if a piece is missing.

Roughly divided, all our Gods and heroes (who were often raised up to become Gods in their own right) fit into five generational categories. These are the:
  • Protogenoi
  • Uranides
  • Titanes
  • Olympic Gods
  • Heroes/deified mortals
The Protogenoi are the Gods from which the universe is made. They are Gods like Khaos, Gaia, Ouranos, and Nyx. In general, these Theoi are more abstract and less defined than, say, the Olympians. They are cruder, more powerful Gods who, together, form the tapistry of earth and life. We simply could not live without Them as They are the air we breath, the earth we walk on, the water we drink and the death that eventually lays us to rest. and yet, neither we, nor the ancient Hellenes revered them often. They are distant and hav very little to do with the individual's lifecycle.

The Uranides formed the world created by the Protogenoi into the world we know now. They are the children of the Protogenoi and They are in charge of  more specific domains. They give us the constellations, intellect, light, memory, navigation, and many other things without which we simply would not be able to live the life we live. Like the Protogenoi, these Gods make up the tapestry of the universe and did not recieve much direct worship in state festivals.

The Titanes are Gods with whom we are more familiar. They are Helios, Hekate, Lêtô, Selênê and many others. This is the first generation of Gods we are more familiar with by name than function--and also the first generation whose names don't always directly relate to the domains they are familiar with, although we know them through mythology. Lêtô, for example, is identified as the Goddess of motherhood and protectress of the young while we mostly know her as mother of Apollon and Artemis. These Gods often times--but not always--recieved individual worship and were sometimes included in state festivals. They feature in mythology and possess well-rounded personalities that we know (unlike, say, the Protogenoi).

We all know the Olympic Gods. They are the Gods we worship most. They are also the sole 'generation' of Gods who span two generations: they are the children of the Uranides (like the Titanes), and the children of the Olympians. Zeus and His brothers and sisters for example, were born from Rhea and Kronos (both Uranides), but Their children (Hēphaistos, Artemis, Apollon, etc.) are also counted amongst the Olympians. In general, if a Gods is said to reside on Mount Olympos, They are known as an Olympic God. Alternatively--or perhaps erroneously--the Olpmpic Gods are interpreted to be solely the Dodekatheon, the Twelve Olympians who ruled over humanity and the Gods from the top of the mountain. The most canonical version of the Dodekatheon is: Aphrodite, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hēphaistos, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. Theoi who were held in high regard in a certain city-state would have held the thrones, according to the people who lived in that city-state, and many different Gods have been counted amongst the Dodekatheon over the centuries. Needless to say, most (state) worship in ancient times focussed on the Olympians.

The heroes of Hellenismos recieve(d) quite a bit of worship. Many heroes were local ones, but we have all heard of Hēraklēs, of Perseus and Theseus, of Atalanta and Odysseus. These heroes represent the most powerful, most virtuoes of all humans and teach us the qualities the Theoi enjoy seeing in us. Many of these heroes were fathered (and sometimes mothered) by the divine and they are thus part of the divine line. In fact, the heroes can be counted amongst the Olympians.

While the main body of our worship focusses on the Olympians, the Olympians did not come to power in a vacuum. The Old Gods presided over the building blocks of the previous generation, like the Olypmians preside over the building blocks of all three. Looking over the list, it's easy to trace the domains of the Olympians back to their predecessors--or even the God or Goddess They hold sway over directly. While the Olympian generation of Gods rule our daily lives, They operate in the framework of the Titans, the Uranides and the Protogenoi. These intricate lines built a web that is of vital importance to see in order to understand not only Hellenic mythology but also the Gods themselves.
Hellenic Recons (and a portion of Hellenic Polytheists) are aware of these generations and they can trace familial lines of influence down through the generations of the Gods. They understand that all Gods play a vital role in the tapestry of the world and that they need to be revered alongside Their brothers, sisters, parents, and sometimes even Their children.

Seeing the Gods as separate from each other like we often do in modern Paganism would not even have occurred to the ancient Hellenes. They did not see themselves separate from their spouse, their children, their parents, their cousins, etc., so why would they think of the Gods that way?

That said, not every God needs to be worshipped daily. The cycle of festivals provided enough moments to honour all major Gods throughout the year, after all. every household focussed on those Gods that were inportant to their family, either through (percieved) geneology, experience, or practical matters like making a living. A soldier would pay regular homage to Ares and Athena, a blacksmith to Hephaistos, and so on. But even if they only paid homage to Asklepios during His festivals, they would go to His temple to pray in case someone fell ill. If a sea voyage was in the cards, the family would pay tribute to Poseidoneven if they never sacrificed to Him during household worship.

I don't know if the ancient Hellenes thought any Ouranic God was frightening. I doubt it. All of the Gods were revered with respect and proper etiuette so as not to upset Them. That's simply good form when drawing the attention of someone a lot more powerful than you onto yourself.

So, that's the long answer: yes, you can, but I can't think of a reason why you would want to if you truly wish to commit to the ancient Hellenic Gods.
Fourni, a Greek archipelago close to Turkey in the eastern Aegean Sea, recently became a location of interest because of statements by local fishermen and sponge divers who had seen piles of ancient pottery collecting algae on the seafloor. Two months ago, a group of marine archaeologists finally investigated the waters, and their wealth of findings far exceeded expectations.


During the very first dive of the expedition, the team found the remains of a late Roman-period wreck strewn with sea grass in shallow water. By day 5, the researchers had discovered evidence of nine more sunken ships. The next day, they found another six. By the time the 13-day survey was finished, the divers had located 22 shipwrecks--some more than 2,500 years old--that had never been scientifically documented before.

The expedition turned up doomed vessels from the Archaic period (700-480 B.C.) to the late medieval period (16th century A.D.), from depths of 180 feet (55 meters) to as shallow as 10 feet (3 m). And yet, this initial survey covered merely 17 square miles(44 square kilometers), just 5 percent of the archipelago's coast. Previously, about 180 ancient shipwrecks had been well-documented in all of Greece's territorial waters. These new discoveries add 12 percent to the total number of known wrecks.

Of the 22 newly discovered wrecks, three have unique cargos that have never been found before in Mediterranean shipwrecks: a trove of Archaic pots from nearby Samos that was probably destined for Cyprus, but didn't make it very far; a group of huge second-century A.D. amphoras from the Black Sea region; and a cache of "Sinopian carrots," or amphoras that come from Sinop on the Black Sea coast of Turkey and, as the name implies, are shaped vaguely like carrots.

Archaeologists mapped each wreck using photogrammetry to create 3D site plans. Representative artefacts were excavated and raised from each wreck site for scientific analysis. These artefacts are primarily amphoras, which were terracotta jars that carried bulk goods prior to the invention of wooden barrels. The finds are currently undergoing conservation at the Ephorate's laboratory in Athens and may go on displays in museums in the future.

Fourni is a collection of thirteen islands and islets located between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Icaria. The small islands never hosted large cities, instead their importance comes from their critical role as an anchorage and navigational point in the eastern Aegean. Fourni lies along a major east-west crossing route, as well as the primary north-south route that connected the Aegean to the Levant. Early Imperial Roman sources say that Fourni was very prosperous, had a robust population and had marble mines in full operation. But mentions of the archipelago in late Roman texts are scant, which is why the divers were surprised that about half of the wrecks found in the survey date to this period.

Less than five per cent of Fourni's coastline has been explored for underwater cultural heritage. Local fishermen and sponge divers have reported many more leads that will be followed up in future seasons. The team plans to return next year.

For many pictures of te dive and its findings, go here.
I recently recieve a question about my perspective on the link between science and religion and I felt it only right to share this perspective with you all as it obviously affects my worship and the way I write about our religion. The original message was:

"I have read your posts about mythology. But I wanted to get a clearer idea of what you think. Do you think mythology doesn't stand at all? That it is all invented? The various monsters and such? And the heroes? Do you think science is in the right about everything? But then, wouldn't Titans like Helios, who is the sun itself, dont exist? Or do you think the form people see is one of the many the Titan can take to show Himself to humankind? Much like the human form the ancients depicted Him as?"

In my post on mythology and science, I tried to explain how I feel about the connection between the two: I feel both are correct and both are equally valid. I believe that mythology--be it Hellenic, Khemetic., Christian, or anything else--is based on truth. Science is also based on truth and neither gets in the way of the other. In short, I have a multiperspectivalistic view of religion.
 
Multispectivalism, in short, is an approach to knowledge that suggests that is made up of multiple perspectives, none of which can grasp reality as it is. As such, the more perspectives one takes into account--biological, scientifical, psychological, theological--the better the overall picture one might have of reality. Multispectivalism in relation to religion thus implies that all reality can never be summed up under any one religion, concept, or perspective but is, in essence, a combination of all.
 
Take the sun: the sun is both a ball of hot plasma at the centre of our universe as well as Helios who emerges each dawn driving a chariot drawn by four, fiery winged steeds and crowned with the aureole of the sun and is carried back around the northern streams of Okeanos back to his rising place in the East in a golden cup. And the sun is also Ra who carries the sun across the sky and descends into the duat at night where the sun's power is renewed. There are many versions of the sun, just like there are many Gods. In a way, they are all connected and they are all equally powerful--but yes, at its core is that ball of scientifically measureable plasma that our planet revolves around.
 
I believe that there is a scientific and biological core to all myths. For example, I am sure there was someone like Herakles (or many men like Herakles!) who performed amazing feats of strength and endurance. I am sure he fought with boars and birds and diverted rivers. I am sure he took a woman from a powerful man. Do I necessarily think those men and the Herakles of mythology are one and the same? No, but he doesn't have to be. Mythology has many functions beyond accounting for history. They are the tales of our Gods. They provide our ethical framework. They bring community and foster the spirit of worship.

We need the man (or men), the stories , our Gods, the framework of history, philosophy, ethics, and many, many other perspectives to form a unified whole. The end result is a layered realisty in which everything is equally true and valuable. That is my position on mythology in a scientific framework.
In another somewhat slow but still succesful fundsraiser, the members of Pandora's Kharis have contributed $31,- for SyrianAid this month.


SyrienHilfe e.V. (SyriaAid , Aid to Syria Association) is an Organization that provides Humanitarian Aid in Syria. In order to provide personal and direct aid to the victims of the conflict in Syria, a group of doctors, engineers, archaeologists, teachers, and artists came together to found the charitable organization SyrienHilfe e.V. (SyriaAid).

The foundation works primarily inside Syria, but also in Lebanon and Turkey, to provide humanitarian and emergency aid to Syrian refugees. They undertake and support various self-help projects as well as training and education projects. And as far as they are able, they help with the care of orphans in Syria.

The aid SyriaAid provides is purely humanitarian and without any political motivation. Thanks to your donation and to the tireless engagement of our local helpers, they hope to deliver direct aid to as many people in Syria as possible. They aim to provide the victims of this crisis not only with food, clothing, lodgings, and medical services, but to give them psychological and moral support as well, to help them reestablish their sense of dignity. To give them support and to show them: You are not forgotten!

From this moment on, pitches are open on the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page. You can vote for your desired cause until November 22, 2015. Thank you in advance!
It's the morning after the Paris attacks as I write this. I was up most of the night, watching, reading, listening in horror as reports trickled in about what was taking place on the streets and inside Paris' public buildings. At least 120 people were killed in a night of gun and bomb attacks in Paris. At least 80 people but as much as 120 or even 160 were reported killed after gunmen burst into the Bataclan concert hall and took dozens hostage. People were shot dead at bars and restaurants at five other sites in Paris. Suicide bombers blew themselves up near the Stade de France where a soccer match was taking place. Eight attackers are reported to have been killed, either by committing suicide or being shot dead by police. An hour after the attacks in Paris started, a fire broke out at the refugee camp in Calais--an event I hope to the Gods is unrelated and not an act of lawless retribution.

These events are unacceptable. They are lawless. They are merciless. These events hurt my heart. This morning, as Paris reels and I try to go on with daily life, I turn to the Gods first and foremost. And so, as we have all had to do far too often lately with terrible crimes of war and ethics being committed every single day by both sides of all crisis affairs, I pray. I pray for those alive and those who are dead. I pray for those still clinging to life. I pray to stop those willing the cycle on. This is my prayer, may it echo in yours.


"May Hermes Psychopompos carry the souls of the dead safely cross the river Styx.
May Hades accept them favourably, and may the judges judge them fairly.
May Asklēpiós tend to the wounds of the injured.
May Ares instil 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 and executed 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."


People of Paris, of Calais, to those anywhere near violence and terror, my prayers are with you, and I believe the Gods are as well--all of Them.
Hómēros' 'Odysseia' recounts the adventures of the Hellenic hero Odysseus during his journey home from the Trojan War. Though some parts may be based on real events, the encounters with monsters, giants and magicians are considered to be complete fiction. But might there be more to these myths than meets the eye? Matt Kaplan explains why there might be more reality behind the Odysseia than many realize.


Kaplan is not the first or only one to believe so. Over the years, scholars have established that Troy--from which Odysseus sailed--was an actual city. The Trojan Horse may have been discovered. The route Odysseus took has been meticulously recreated. Cyclopses weren't real, but they might have been based on the skulls of mammoths.

The Odysseia will forever speak to our imagination, as it did to the ancient Hellenes. Like much of mythology, I suspect we will continue to discover truths in the writing, lending more and more credibility to the underlying ethical and philosophical framework of them. I have always said that science and mythology are intrinsically linked. They mash together, not disprove the other. I am happy to hear Kaplan seems to agree.
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:
  • It can't have escaped your notice that I have completely overhauled the blog! The menu is still there, but you need to click on the little stripy symbol on the right of the beam above to open it. After a little over five years, I figured it was time for something new. Over the coming days I'll get the features out of the code. Please tell me if you notice something amiss. I seem, for example, have murdered the 'search' function...
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Maimakterion:

Anything else?
This month's Pandora's Kharis charity is SyrianAid. SyrienHilfe e.V. (SyriaAid, Aid to Syria Association) is an organization that provides Humanitarian Aid in Syria. In order to provide personal and direct aid to the victims of the conflict in Syria, a group of doctors, engineers, archaeologists, teachers, and artists came together. The deadline to donate is November 13, 2015. You can do so by using the 'PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Khairis websiteor by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!  Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Ancient Origins came out with a very interesting article about the excavation of Selinunte. Selinunte (Σελινοῦς, Selinous) was an ancient Hellenic city on the south-western coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Belice and Modione rivers. At its peak before 409 BC the city grew to 30,000 people excluding slaves.


[The] ruins [of Selinunte] were preserved in ancient times by blowing earth and sand. Working for many years, archaeologists have examined and excavated the entire city to find 2,500 houses, the streets and harbor and an industrial zone that produced exquisite pottery. About 15 percent of Selinunte, including a spectacular acropolis and temples, had remained above-ground and was visited on what the British of the Georgian and Victorian used to call the Grand Tour. They called it the City of the Gods. More than 500 years ago a temblor knocked down those buildings. Two of the temples were re-built in the mid-20th century and have been a tourist attraction ever since. Archaeologists have compared Selinunte to Pompeii in the degree of preservation.

Recent excavations have brought to light pottery kilns and entire workshops. Archaeologists have found pigments used to paint the ceramics and 80 kilns, including large circular ones for producing roof tiles and amphorae jars and a dozen large rectangular kilns for firing giant amphorae and coffins. In smaller kilns, workers fired weights, tableware and small statues of the Gods. The ceramicists had a chapel for worshiping a working-class Goddess, Athena Ergane of Athena of the Workers, and Artemis, Demeter and Zeus.

The study of Selinunte has shed much light on the ancient world and its demographics and lifestyles. Researchers never knew how many residents there were in any ancient Hellenic cities until Selinunte, for example. Selinunte is the only classical Greek city where the entire metropolis is still preserved, mainly buried under sand and earth. It therefore gives us a unique opportunity to discover how an ancient Hellenic city functioned.

Read more of the article here.
Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions concerning two events on my Hellenic festival calendar; enough to get a post out on it that I can link to. These questions concern the 'Days of purification' and the 'Impure day(s)'.

The days of purification are placed on the 18th and 19th of every month, and are thus part of the Mên kata Theion, the sacred month--religious events that return every month in a set sequence. These days of purification are hinted at in Proklos' 'Commentary on Hesiod's Works and Days', and further solidified by Philokhoros in his 'On Days'. The text is not available online in translation, as far as I can find, but in short, these texts indicate that 'the eighteenth and nineteenth of the month are devoted to purificatory and apotropaic rites.'

While this can be interpreted as a monthly thing, in context it can also be interpreted as something belonging only in Boedromion, tied to the Mysteries at Eleusis. Because we have no conclusive evidence in favor of either theory, I prefer to keep these as a monthly event.

The impure days are the days before the Deipnon. One of the most important of the many Hellenic festivals is the three-day transition from month to month. Although unlinked, the Deipnon, the Noumenia and Agathós Daímōn are held on consecutive days, around the new moon. The Deipnon (Hene kai Nea)--or Hekate's Deipnon--is celebrated any time before the first sliver of the new moon is visible. In practice, this is the day after the new moon. The impure days are thus the two or three (depending on if the month is hollow or not) days leading up to the Deipnon. These days are labelled 'impure' as a precausting. The Deipnon itself is absolutely impure, after all.

Hekate’s Deipnon is the traditional time to end the old month and prepare for the new one. In ancient Hellas, the Deipnon was celebrated with a Supper for the Titan Hekate--made up of leek, egg, cakes, fish, unions and garlic--and set out at the outside shrine to Hekate, and then placed at a crossroads as an offering to Her--Hekate Trioditis, Goddess of Crossroads--and the vengeful spirits who were in her following. In addition to placation, the Deipnon is also a time of purification; in ancient times, a dog was taken in, touched by all members of the oikos so any lingering miasma was transfered to the dog. The dog was then sacrificed in a holókaustos. This was most likely not a monthly thing, but only performed when the household was troubled. As Hekate's sacred animal is a dog, the sacrifice also served to regain, or keep, Hekate's favor upon the household. The house was also thoroughly cleaned so the new month could start fresh the day after. Debts were repaid on this day.

Purificatory rites, obviously, refer to katharmos--ritual purification--in relation to miasma--ritual impurity. Within Hellenic practice, miasma (Μίασμα) describes the lingering aura of uncleanliness in regards to a person or space through which contact is made with the Gods. Miasma occurs whenever the space or person comes into contact with death, sickness, birth, sex, excessive negative emotions and bodily fluids. It also comes from a lack of contact with the Hellenic Gods. Not the actual acts of dying, sex and birth cause miasma but the opening up of the way to the Underworld (with births and deaths) as well as contact with sweat, blood, semen, menstrual blood and urine pollutes us. Miasma is an incredibly complicated and involved practice and it's often misunderstood. The most important things to remember about miasma is that it holds no judgment from the Gods, and that everyone attracts miasma. It's a mortal, human, thing.

So let's look at the terms of 'purification' and 'apotropaic' as noted in the ancient texts. The practice of purification is called katharmos (Καθαρμός). The process of katharmos is elaborate because the process not only involves the physical but also the emotional, mental and spiritual. It means being physically clean when entering ritual but, peraps more importantly, it means leaving behind negativity, worry, pain and trouble before getting in contact with the Gods.
Katharmos is a Hellenic basic. There can not be ritual without katharmos. As such, it makes sense to have days in the month assigned especially to getting clean before the rest of the month's rituals take place.

The word 'apotropaic' comes from Greek apotrepein 'to ward off' from apo- 'away' and trepein 'to turn'. These practices serve to appease polluting spirits, ghosts chief amongst them. Ghosts were the people who could not find the entrance to the Underworld or who didn't have the money to pay Kharon for their passage. Those who were not properly buried were also doomed to wander the Earth for a hundred years. Interestingly enough, Hellenic heroes were also considered ghosts and were honored in the same type of rites as other types of ghosts.

The ancient Hellens held festivals in honor of ghosts, and the Theoi that presided over them, so they would be sated and appeased and would not haunt them. Most of these festivals included a holókaustos--a sacrificial offering given in its entirety to the Gods--and were solemn affairs, conducted at night and without an offering of wine. It was, however, also possible to invite them to dine with the living so they would feel included and then end the proceedings by asking them to leave; something the ghosts would do as it's not polite by the rules of xenia to be a burden on your host.

This fear of spirits and other supernatural entities was named 'deisidaimonia' (δεισιδαιμονία). The ceremonies of riddance were known to the Hellenes as apopompai (ἀποποπμαί), 'sendings away'. There isn't a single word in the English language that conveys the practice. Closest would be 'exorcism'. It is important to note here that these 'exorcisms' weren't performed on people, but on the ghosts themselves and in short, they consisted of rites to ask the Gods (especially Hekate) to keep these unfortunate souls away from their homes and families, because the ghosts could bring misery down upon them. Possession was not part of the fear. Many rites in the ancient Hellenic religion--including monthly ones like the Deipnon--were apotropaic.

There is one other reson I can think of why certain days could have become impure are the ancient Hellenic homicide courts. Homicide courts were the law cases where one man stood accused of murdering another. In many respects, a homicide case resembled other private suits. Each litigant pleaded his own case in two speeches, the first of which presented the main points in his accusation or defense and might be written for him by a logographer, aprofessional speechwriter, and the second rebutting his opponents arguments. Witnesses could testify if they were male citizens. When the litigants finished their two speeches, the jury voted for acquittal or conviction and the majority carried the day (a tie vote meant acquittal). The penalty for intentional homicide was death, though exile seems to have been a common outcome, and the accused was allowed to go into exile voluntarily at any time up until his second speech in court, which would then be delivered by a friend or relative in the hope of persuading the jury to vote for acquittal despite the accused’s departure. For unintentional homicide the penalty was exile, probably for a specific length of time (perhaps a year). At any point the victim’s family could agree to a lesser penalty, or they could even drop the charges, if they wished, though there was a strong moral obligation to avenge an intentional murder.

Interestingly enough, homicide courts were held outdoors out of fear of pollution. The belief was archaic and had become more of a tradition than a rule by the time of Classical Greece, but it was definitely practiced. It could have been that these homicide courts were always planned on impure days--or that these days became impure because these very specific courts were always held on these days.

So, what do these days mean for worship...? Not too much. Festivals were hardly ever celebrated on these days and essembly meetings were rarely held on them either. They were said to bring bad luck; no major endeavor was started on them. Especially the impure days in the middle of the month were considered ominous. For us, we can foolow the lead of the ancient Hellenes: there are no planned festivals and we can be mindful of these days when planning our own celebrations. But the ancient Hellenes would have held regular household rituals on these days and in case of imergency, they would have performed rituals as well. The katharmic rites might have been a bit longer or performed with more intention but overall, these days are just something to keep in mind, not be held back back. 
I´m sorry guys, I am completely swamped. Better tomorrow, I promise. Today, I turn to one of my favourite poets again: John Keats (31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821). He was an English Romantic poet and one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work having been in publication for only four years before his death. He very frequently used Greek mythology as a theme in his work, and used in this poem as well.

As the title of this poem will have given away, it's about the Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles. This is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803. They were subsequently sold to the British Museum in 1816.

The Parthenon Marbles acquired by Elgin include seventeen figures from the statuary from the east and west pediments of the Parthenon, fifteen (of the original 92) of the metope panels depicting battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, as well as 247 feet (75 meters) of the original 524 feet (160 meters) of the Parthenon Frieze which decorated the horizontal course set above the interior architrave of the temple. As such, they represent more than half of what now remains of the surviving sculptural decoration of the Parthenon. Elgin's acquisitions also included objects from other buildings on the Athenian Acropolis: a Caryatid from Erechtheum; four slabs from the parapet frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike; and a number of other architectural fragments of the Parthenon, Propylaia, Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Treasury of Atreus.
 
    John Keats - On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

My spirit is too weak—mortality 
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.
So, I am not going to pretend I am a Starwars fan--I was raised by and as a hardcore Trekkie--and I haven't even seen a complete Star wars movie in my life. Disregarding that, though, I am a total sci-fi geek and I can appreciate it when my geekiness merges with my religious side. When I saw the work of a French artist going by the pseudonym Travis Durden, I was more than a little intrigued and amused. Durden has reinvented a series of Star wars characters, making them resemble ancient Hellenic sculptures, The Greek Reporter reports. It seems Durden, who is well-versed in ancient art,  fell in love with contemporary popular culture--two subjects that he studied in art school--and decided to merge them.


For those who don't know, Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise centered on a film series created by George Lucas. In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm and announced three new Star Wars films, with the first film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, planned for release in a few weeks. Duren is thus right on time with his collection.

Based on forms he found in Paris’ louvre museum, Durden has digitally sculpted a series of five figures, each bearing the armor or facial likeness of a one of the film’s fictional personalities, from a cherub-style Yoda to a philosophical stormtropper.


 
 
 
Personally, I greatly appreciate fun things like this. How about you? I think Darth Vader looks rather dashing this way!