Yesterday, I officially moved into the new house I will share with my girlfriend. This move was preceded by two grueling weeks of non-stop renovations. Every day from eight am to eleven pm, or midnigt, or one am and then back to the old place on my bike to do it again the next morning. I am not sure if I have ever felt exhaustion this profound, but also a feeling of accomplishment this profound. It's our new home! And our blood, sweat and tears are in it! These images were from one am last night when we finally tidied everything. As you can see, we are far from settled, but it is am amazing start.





 
As I'll be making build-in blosets, (book)shelves, windowsills and a built in corner bench myself from wood that has yet to be delivered, most of our stuff upstairs is still on the ground in piles.
Thiat is my current view, for example.
 
 
As soon as everything has been put away and built, I'll write and perform a rite to Hestia and the household Gods, which I will share with you all, of course, to invite Them into this house. But until then, I am sure They know They are already very, very welcome! For now, it's time to rest.
Back in My 2015, Greek authorities announced the arrest of four people in Iraklio, Crete on charges of attempting to sell a priceless 3,500-year-old statuette of a young man, dated to the mid-Minoan era. Now, the statue has been valued and the number is astronomical.


The 30cm-high bronze statuette is of a young man in worship, his hands folded across his chest, making it a unique find of its type throughout the island of Crete. The figure has long hair, a gold-plated belt and remains of gold leaf on its calves and left knee. At the base is a peg indicating that it was probably set on a pedestal in an area of worship. Archaeologists at the Lasithi Antiquities Ephorate have dated the statuette to the 16-15 century B.C.

The case was cracked as a result of a coordinated Hellenic Police (ELAS) operation that culminated in the arrests of four men, two aged 35 and two aged 41 years old. Police initially stopped one of the 35-year-olds driving a car, in which they found an ancient bronze artifact. The other three men were following behind in two private trucks and also arrested. The police inquiry revealed that the suspects had illegal possession of the statuette and that two of them had shown this to unknown prospective buyers, while the other two were acting as lookouts along the route. The statuette was handed over the antiquities ephorate and the car confiscated as evidence, while police are continuing the inquiry. The four suspects were led to the Lasithi misdemeanors' court prosecutor.

From that point on, a commission set up by the ministry carried out an evaluation of the statue to determine the value. They came to a sum of 1.3 million euros. The commission arrived at this price estimate based on the figurine’s age, material and structural features but mostly on its unusual size, noting that it was the largest of its kind ever found.

I announced two days ago that we'd have a PAT ritual to the the hero Leukaspis on the 28th of April. A day later, the sacrificial calendar of Erkhia dictates a sacrifice to the Tritopatores (Τριτοπατορες). Suidas describes the Tritopateres as follows:

"Tritopatores : Demon in the Atthis says that the Tritopatores are winds (anemoi), Philochoros [Greek poet C4th B.C.] that the Tritopatores were born first of all. For the men of that time, he says, understood as their parents the earth (gê) and the sun (hêlios), whom then they called Apollon. Phanodemos [C4th B.C.] in [book] 6 maintains that only [the] Athenians both sacrifice to them and pray to them, when they are about to marry, for the conception of children. In the Physikos of Orpheus the Tritopatores are named Amalkeides and Protokles and Protokleon, being doorkeepers and guardians of the winds (anemoi). But the author of Explanation claims that they are [the offspring] of Ouranos (Heaven) and (Earth), and that their names are Kottos, Briareos and Gyges."

Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear. The latter in Suidas are often seen as the Hekatonkheires: Kottos (Κοττος, 'Grudge', 'Rancour'), Gyês (Γυης, 'Of the Land'), Briareôs (Βριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), Obriareôs (Οβριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), and Aigaiôn (Αιγαιων, 'Goatish', or 'Stormy'). As the Anemoi, the Tritopateres are: Amalkeidês (Αμαλκειδης, 'Bound to That Place'), Prôtoklês (Πρωτοκλης, 'First Locked Away), and Prôtokleôn (Πρωτοκλεων, 'First Confined').
Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear, but we find favour with the theory that they are connected to the wind-Gods. According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to the Tritopatores was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

The ritual for the Tritopatores may seem rather strange (at least different) but it is based on elaborate and specific instructions from the inscription from the Selinus tablet and we think it is in the spirit of ancient sacrifice. The arrangement and sequence is crucial. Robert will conduct the sacrifice for the foul Tritopatores as that had to be done by a specific priestly group and as the senior member of Elaion, and with the facilities to conduct this sacred rite, he should be the one to do this. We have marked in the ritual which parts of the rite you should perform and which you should not.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Tritopatores here and join the community page here. The sacrifice to Tritopatores will take place on April 29 at the standard 10 AM EDT. We hope you will join us!
The Attikos deme Erkhia was located near the modern Spata, approximately twenty kilometers (twelve miles) east of Athens, with the deme center located at Magoula. The deme of Erkhia is unique as we have recovered an elaborate sacrificial calendar--the Greater Demarkhia--listing sacrifices, costs and rules for the festivals held under the supervision of the demarch. The calendar prescribes 59 annual sacrifices to 46 separate divinities, including heroes, nymphs and Gods, and some of them seem unique to the deme.

The Gods most frequently honored at Erkhia were Zeus, Apollon, Kourotrophos ('She who raises the young') and Athena. A few times a year, the men traveled to Athens to sacrifice to Zeus an Athena 'of the city', to Apollon Lykeios, and to Demeter of Eleusis. For worship at the deme, Erkhia had its own Akropolis, where the same Theoi were worshipped as on the Akropolis at Athens, as well as more obscure Gods, like Zeus Epopetes, the Heroines, the Herakleidai, the nymphs, and the Tritopateres, as well as local heroes like Leukaspis ('he of the white shield') and Epops.

Two of these sacrifices are upcoming: the one to the Leukaspis on the 20th of Mounikhion and the sacrifice to the Tritopatores on the 21th of Mounikhion. This is an announcement for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Leukaspis.

Leukaspis is the name of a good few heroes in Hellenic mythology. The most famous is the one depicted here on a drachma from Syracuse--designed around 405-400 BC by Eukleidas. Leukaspis, 'He of the White Shield' was a famed warrior and hero and tied to the myth of Herakles:

“While Heracles was making the circuit of Sicily at this time he came to the city which is now Syracuse, and on learning what the myth relates about the Abduction of Kore, he offered sacrifices to the Goddesses on a magnificent scale, and after dedicating to Her the fairest bull of his herd and casting it in the spring Cyanê, he commanded the natives to sacrifice each year to Kore and to conduct at Cyanê a festive gathering and a sacrifice in splendid fashion. He then passed with his cattle through the interior of the island, and when the native Sicani opposed him in great force, he overcame them in a notable battle and slew many of their number, among whom, certain writers of myths relate, were also some distinguished generals who receive the honours accorded to Heroes even to this day, such as Leucaspis, Pediacrates, Buphonas, Glychatas, Bytaeas, and Crytidas.” (Diod. Sic. IV 23)

As he was a Sican of Sicily, and apparently non-Hellenic, it's quite unlikely he was the one worshipped at the deme of Erkhia. It was most likely another Leukaspis that was a local hero. What, exactly, the source of this Leukaspis' renown was has been lost to us.

Alternatively, Noel Robertson in 'Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities', page 173, notes:
“When we meet Leupaspis at Erchia, we should not imagine that a Sican hero was brought to Attica.  Instead, the same name has been given to similar powers in the two places.”

Leukaspis appears not to be so much a war hero in Erchia but a, what Robertson describes as a 'functional hero'. In Hellenic warfare a hoplite presses on the enemy with his shield, so that a buffering wind may well be likened to a shield-bearing warrior. As such, Leukaspis might have been a power associated with winds and tied to the begetting of a good harvest. So we wrote the ritual in that sense and used the two Orphic Hymns that best fit, To Zephyros and To Notos.

According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to Leukaspis was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual to Leukaspis here and join the community page here. The sacrifice to Leukaspis will take place on April 28 at 10 am EDT.
Late March Palmyra, Syria, was recaptured from IS forces. Although it first seemed like the damage to historic artifacts was less than expected, experts are not so sure anymore now. This reports the Archaeological News Network. The first foreign experts who visited the museum in Palmyra after it was taken over from Islamic State militants offered grim new details about the extent of the destruction caused by the extremists during their 10-month stay in the ancient town.


Bartosz Markowski, from the Polish Archaeological Center at the University of Warsaw, told The Associated Press that most of the 200 objects which were exhibited on the ground floor of the Palmyra museum were destroyed, many of them apparently with hard tools like hammers. Many artifacts have been stolen, he added, thought it was not possible to know how many. In addition to the damage inflicted by IS, Markowski said the museum building has suffered structural damage due to bombs falling.

"There's broken ceilings, broken walls, roofs, a lot of garbage and fragments of bricks everywhere, and among that there are fragments of sculptures."
 
He and his colleagues were the first specialists to visit Palmyra after it was taken over by the Syrian army, and spent a week working and assessing the damage. They found the museum trashed and some of its best-known artifacts and statues smashed by the militants, who cut off the heads and hands of statues and demolished others before being driven out last month. Speaking to the AP in the garden of the National Museum in Damascus, he said:

"We collected everything we could. The fragments were spread around the whole museum among broken glass and furniture ... It is a catastrophe." 

During rule of Palmyra, the extremists demolished some of the most famous Roman-era monuments that stand just outside the town, including two large temples dating back more than 1,800 years and a Roman triumphal archway, filming the destruction themselves for the world to see. The sprawling outdoor site, a UNESCO world heritage site, as well as the museum were among Syria's main tourist attractions before the civil war.

Among the best-known statues destroyed was the famous Lion of Allat, a 2000-year-old statue which previously greeted visitors and tourists outside the Palmyra museum. The statue, which used to adorn the temple of Allat, a pre-Islamic goddess in Palmyra, was defaced by IS militants and knocked over by bulldozers. On a visit to Palmyra on Thursday, The Associated Press saw the statue lying outside the museum building with its face cut and some of its broken pieces lying next to it. Markowski, who in 2005 took part in a Polish archaeological mission that did renovation work on the statue, said:

"Fortunately we collected most of the fragments and I hope it can be reconstructed very soon." 

He said the restoration will require a massive international effort and years to accomplish. According to him, most of the objects can be restored, but they will never look as they did before. His colleague, Robert Zukowski, said the limestone lion statue should be the first thing restored and that it should stay in Palmyra as a sign of resistance.

The museum did not hve a large Hellenic collection--it was a Roman settlement, not Hellenistic--but it grieves me to see this kind of damage inflicted on all things ancient. At least ome of the museum's treasured pieces had been on loan to other museums around the world and can be collected in due time.
On April 27, 2016, Elaion wil host a PAT ritual for the Olympieia, in honor of Olympian Zeus. Will you join us?
 
 
Most worship of Olympian Zeus took place around or during the Olympic games in Olympia. In 550 BC BC, however, the tyrant Peisistratos (Πεισίστρατος) decided to build a temple to Olympian Zeus in Athens. The temple, which became known as the Naos tou Olympiou Dios (Ναὸς τοῦ Ὀλυμπίου Διός), was demolished by his sons, Hippias (Ἱππίας) and Hipparchos (Ἵππαρχος), after Peisistratos' death, but replaced by the foundations of a grander structure. Hippias was expelled in 510 BC, and the project abandoned for three hundred years. The project--which was epic in scale--was seen as hubristic and bad form. Aristotle wrote about it in his Politics:

"Another art of the tyrant is to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled with friends, the people with the notables, and the rich with one another. Also he should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides against the maintenance of a guard by the citizen and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring. The Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean monuments at Samos; all these works were alike intended to occupy the people and keep them poor." (Part XI)

The temple project was revived from 174 BC to 164 BC, when King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who presented himself as the earthly embodiment of Zeus, changed the design and put builders to work. The project halted again after his death. What followed was a period of disarray with looting, some minor attempts at restoration, and lots of neglect, until the project was finally completed in the second century AD, by Roman emperor Hadrian.

In 267, the temple was badly damaged during the Herulian sack of the city, and very few--if any--attempt was made to restore it. By 425, the worship of the Hellenic and Roman Gods was banned by Christian emperor Theodosius II, and the temple was slowly dismantled for building materials.

Even in its half finished state, Peisistratus and those who came after him, held a festival at the structure: the Olympieia, celebrated on the 19th of Mounikhion. For how long the festival was celebrated is unclear, but it died out somewhere during the reign of Hellas--most likely after the death of the Peisistratidae--before being brought back in the second century BC, as the temple was completed. The festival was a military one and featured a procession and contests by the Athenian cavalry. Also attested are large scale sacrifices of bulls to Olympian Zeus.

You will find the ritual for the event here and you can join the community page 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.


"There are three days in each Athenian month that are listed on the calendar as sacred to the Erinyes, Eris, and Horkos. How does one go about honoring these Gods? And what is the significance of having three days sacred to Them each Month?

The sacrifice you describe is not so much an honouring as an appeasement. Within Traditional Hellenismos we believe that the Gods you invite into your home will impact your life. Period. ‘Stable’ Gods bring a stable life, ‘chaotic’ Gods bring a chaotic life. I’m putting it very black-and-white here but you get the point.

Eris is the personification of (marital) strife, discord, contention and rivalry. She inspires that in us. In the case of Eris, She is appeased regularly especially to prevent Her upsetting your life and to remove Her continued influence from it. Hesiod warns about Her and Her offspring and the days when Her influence is strongest:

“Beware of all the fifth days [of the month]; for they are harsh and angry; it was on the fifth, they say, that the Erinyes assisted at the bearing of Horkos (Oath), whom Eris (Strife) bore, to be a plague on those who take false oath.” [Works and Days, 804]

Basically, these sacrifices are a 'sending away': a request for Her and her offspring's influence to pass your house by.

Now, we don't know if the ancient Hellened actually performed these sacrifices. We only know that of the festivals an The sacrifice you describe is not so much an honouring as an appeasement. Within Traditional Hellenismos we believe that the Gods you invite into your home will impact your life. Period. ‘Stable’ Gods bring a stable life, ‘chaotic’ Gods bring a chaotic life. I’m putting it very black-and-white here but you get the point.
These sacrifices are Ouranic and can be performed as part of your daily rituals. If you feel Their influence strongly, however, you might want to hold a separate ritual of appeasement to Them and Eris above all. Traditional offerings include haulocaustal sacrifices of meat, unmixed red wine, honey and milk. Instead of asking Her to leave you alone (which, I assume, would seem like the logical way to go) sacrifice to Her and pray that íf you have ever done anything to upset Her or cause Her wrath to fall upon you, she take these sacrifices as appeasement and lift Her scorn’.

~~~

"Should I memorize the hymns/hymn fragments of my choice, or keep them out while I worship? I have a general method when I give offerings and praise. Khernips, preparing the offering, hymns, offering, and prayers. I just need a bit of advice!"

I started off with a little book that I had written the hymns down in in the sequence of my rites. Alternatively, you can put them up on the wall and read them from there. Most, if not all of my daily used hymns I now have memorized, simply through repetition. I never sat down to memorize them as such. Say them enough times and you'll never forget them again.

~~~

"Hey elani! ur blog is a great resource for me. do you have any tips for giving large offerings, and non-food ones? in terms of large foods, i was thinking of giving Athena an apple, but burning an entire apple is a bit hard since i'm not "out". in terms of non-food: do i just leave it on the shrine, or until a specific date? idk if there are ancient sources for all these but if u have any ideas/tips that would be wonderful."

Practically speaking, cutting it up into little chunks would probably work. Else you need an actual fire and that is hard to do if you have to do it indoors without anyone noticing. Non-food items you could leave out on the shrine, yes, and remove after a set period. I do have to mention a few things about the actual desire to give this type of sacrifice, as it's not the Traditional thing to do and, well, you asked a Traditionalist.

Two things instantly jumped out at me: you are planning to give a holocaustal sacrifice to an Ouranic deity and, unless I am interpreting things incorrectly (and if so, my apologies), you want to give something non-organic and inflamable to the Gods as sacrifice. These things are problematic in terms of the ancient Religion.

'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. Food offerings were usually divided between the Theoi and the worshippers where only a ceremonial part of the sacrifice was given to the Theoi. This part of the animal was called the mēria (μηρια), consisting of both thigh bones in their fat, which was placed on the altar, sprinkled with a liquid libation and incense, and then burned.

'Kthonic', on the other hand, 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. Sacrifices were given whole; it was a holókaustos (ὁλόκαυστος), and the matching libation a khoe (χοαί). The whole offering was either burned or buried and no one partook of any of the food or drink that was given to the Khthonic Theoi. This because contact with the underworld carried miasma.

So, you are proposing to give a holokaustos to an Ouranic deity and that, Traditionally speaking, is a no-no. A sliver of the apple will do. My advice is to eat the rest yourself and share with the Gods. That is how Ouranic sacrifice was intended to be.

Now, about that inflamable sacrifice: in terms of the ancient Hellenic religion, there is no such thing. You either give sacrifice or you present the Gods with a gift. 'Sacrifice' implies that somehting is either burned or burried that is organic and could be eaten (although we don't when it comes to holokaustal sacrifice). In terms of burned sacrifice, the scented smoke was said to sustain and please the Theoi and the sacrificial smoke also carried the prayers of the worshippers to Them. Khthonic sacrifice would sometimes be buried but the whole point here, again, was that it was organic and could be consumed. It was given to sustain the Theoi.

A non-organic sacrifice of, says, coins, jewellery, precious stones, etc. are considered devotional gifts. They are not sacrifices as they are not sacrificed--they can't be, after all. In general, gifts in ancient Hellas were given to the priests who put them into special sections of the temple or in special side buildings in honour of the God(s) they had been gifted to. Gifts go on your shrine(s) to the Theoi, not your altar. They are there to show the grandeur of the Theoi and the value They have for you. You can leave them on there forever or take them off after a while and replace them with something new. Traditionally, if gifts broke or had to be disgarded, they were buried on the temple grounds.

I hope this answers your questions and make things clear for you and others.

~~~

"I know you've said in the past that the Theoi didn't call to you to worship them, so I was wondering what made you decide that Hellenismos was right for you. And as a follow up to that, I was wondering if you had advice on what someone should consider before deciding to worship the Theoi (perhaps something like, "make sure you enjoy research, because you'll be doing a lot of it," or "understand that you must build kharis before asking for any assistance," etc)."

I practiced Eclectic Religious Witchcraft for about seven years, longer than anything else in my life. I was initiated into a coven and initiated others. I was a priestess with a specialization in the ancient Hellenic pantheon. I summoned the Theoi into circles, bastardized Their festivals to suite the Pagan way of practice and circle of the year, and did a lot of research. I have always liked research. The last year or so of my practice, I begun to feel uneasy as I summoned the Theoi. I had begun to understand the ways of the ancient Hellenes and realized that I was not worshipping the Theoi, I was abusing them. This became my personal truth. I felt it down to my bones.

Religion is the process of finding personal truth. For me, it’s also a way to reconcile my many thoughts about Divinity with the experiences I have had with it. Which practices I use gives me a framework to do what I feel that needs to be done. What I felt that was needed to be done was to start worshipping the Theoi through the ways of the ancient Hellenes. That is why it was natural for me to progress into it.

Worshipping the Theoi, really, is a personal experience. If you practice like me, be prepared for twice-daily rituals, a lot of reading to understand the ways of the ancients, a lot of thinking about modern practices that still hold the intent of the ancient practices but can be sustained in the modern social and economical climate, and an extensive festival practice. If you don't practice like me, well, you might only do a few of these things or more of these things.

As a general not, I think I should 'warn' those interested in Hellenismos that it's not a glamorous, flashy thing. I progressed into it from Eclectic Religious Witchcraft and whew, did I ahve a lot fo flashy stuff to leave behind! Hellenismos is a religion that thrives of repetition. You will be doing the same things over and over and over because that's where its strength is. If you need constant stimulation and different stimuli, Hellenismos might not be for you. For me the routine is perfect.
My girlfriend and I have bought our own house, our very first. We'll move in in a few days time (we're current racing to get the house ready). The journey getting here was very rough--everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and there was a lot of stress and tension. Through it all, however, my girlfriend and I have remained close and our relationship has grown stronger for it. We are so excited to have our own, completely private, space, finally.

Today I am posting a little love note to my girl. It's from the Anacreontea (Ἀνακρεόντεια), the title given to a collection of some 60 Greek poems. The poems date to between the 1st century BC and the 6th century AD, and are attributed pseudepigraphically to Anacreon. The collection is preserved in the same 10th-century manuscript as the Anthologia Palatina (Palatinus gr. 23), together with some other poetry.

Beauty outside as well as in, my love. Forgive the sexist bit, these were the ancient Hellenes after all!


Anacreontea, 24.8-13
 
Nature gave bulls horns
Hooves to horses
Swift feet to hares
A mouth of teeth to lions
Swimming to fish
Flight to birds
And wisdom to men.
What did nature give to women?
Beauty
stronger than all shields and spears.
A woman who is beautiful
conquers both iron and fire.
 
(Φύσις κέρατα ταύροις,
ὁπλὰς δ’ ἔδωκεν ἵπποις,
ποδωκίην λαγωοῖς,
λέουσι χάσμ’ ὀδόντων,
τοῖς ἰχθύσιν τὸ νηκτόν,
τοῖς ὀρνέοις πέτασθαι,
τοῖς ἀνδράσιν φρόνημα·
γυναιξὶν οὐν ἔτ᾿ εἶχεν
τί οὖν; δίδωσι κάλλος
ἀντ᾿ ἀσπίδων ἁπασῶν
ἀντ᾿ ἐγχέων ἁπάντων
νικᾷ δὲ καὶ σίδηρον
καὶ πῦρ καλή τις οὖσα)
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've noticed on the Elaion ritual outlines that Okeanos is invoked at the beginning of almost all rituals as part of the creation of Khernips. Why is this? Where does this practice come from? Is there archaeological or literary backing for the practice?"

No, not archaeological evidence as such. It is something that I have done since the very beginning and that Robert has adopted first into his personal practice and which then also found its way into the PAT rituals. Okeanos is the source of all of the earth's fresh-water, from the rivers and springs which were fed by subterranean aquifers, to the clouds, which dipped below the horizon to collect moisture from its stream. His waters connect literally everything in the world. When you read the hymn, this becomes doubly clear:

"Okeanos whose nature ever flows, from whom at first both Gods and men arose; sire incorruptible, whose waves surround, and earth’s all-terminating circle bound: hence every river, hence the spreading sea, and earth’s pure bubbling fountains spring from thee. Hear, mighty sire, for boundless bliss is thine, greatest cathartic of the powers divine: earth’s friendly limit, fountain of the pole, whose waves wide spreading and circumfluent roll. Approach benevolent, with placid mind, and be forever to thy mystics kind."

When you read it, two other things might jump out at you: that Okeanos is the source of both men AND Gods and that His waters are cathartic, purifying. In order for the Gods to be of Him as well, His waters need to have been completely pure, the purest source.

We have adopted the practice of including a hymn to Okeanos over the water we use to make khernips because of those two reasons: by invoking Him, we remind ourselves of our connection to everything around us, including the Gods and we ensure that our khernips are, indeed, His water and thus pure and suitable to bring us back to a place where we can interact with the Theoi without suffering miasma or tainting Them.

We don't know if the ancients ever did this, but it is a way to at least keep their believes alive, which is our greatest good at Elaion. I hope this answers your question.

~~~

"Even after practicing Hellenism for a long while, I still can't figure out what is the best way to handle daily practice. Where do I start?"

Household worship can include any Theoi that you wish to establish kharis with. Ancient fishermen would undoubtedly have included aquatic Gods, merchants Gods connected to trade and travel. Perhaps you have UPG experiences with any God that makes you want to include them, perhaps you want to honour the Gods mythically connected to night and day as we perform these rites at the cusp of when Their time starts. There is no manual for it, just go with your heart.

~~~

"Hello, may I ask, do you honour Eris? Why is her worship such a taboo subject in Hellenismos? She is after all a Goddess. Homer said she (as Enyo) was the daughter of Zeus and Hera as well as the sister and lover of Ares. Just want to know your opinion on this particular Goddess :)"

Within Traditional Hellenismos we believe that the Gods you invite into your home will impact your life. Period.  'Stable' Gods bring a stable life, 'chaotic' Gods bring a chaotic life, especially in the case of devotional practices to a singular deity. I'm putting it very black-and-white here but you get the point.

Within this view, it makes a lot of sense not to willingly invite Eris into your home because She will bring chaos into it. Eris is the personification of (marital) strife, discord, contention and rivalry. She inspires that in us. In the case of Eris, She is appeased regularly especially to prevent Her upsetting your life and to remove Her continued influence from it. Hesiod even warns about Her:

"Beware of all the fifth days [of the month]; for they are harsh and angry; it was on the fifth, they say, that the Erinyes assisted at the bearing of Horkos (Oath), whom Eris (Strife) bore, to be a plague on those who take false oath." [Works and Days, 804]

Delphic Maxim 80 even tells us to 'despise strife'.

Strife is the 'very angry or violent disagreement between two or more people or groups', or alternatively: 'exertion or contention for superiority'. There is no honour in strife--and honour was a great good to the ancient Hellenes. Stife leads to drunken brawls and sloppy slashes that will get your head cut off in battle. Strife contains foolish pride and bluster. Strife is to be avoided and as such, in Traditional Hellenismos, Eris is only to be appeased, not invited.

~~~

"I've recently decided to pursue my worship of Hellenic deities in a more traditional sort of way. As traditional as I can get, much like you, in these modern times. My worship is mainly to those of the Kthonic deities and I just don't know where to start. Might I ask for some help?"

I'm going to try to give you tools to start a more reconstructive practice, but I must tell you upfront that what you are attempting to do is impossible, historically speaking. Worship of the Underworld Khthonic deities was reserved for special occasions--mostly vengeance, death, and purification surrounding both. If the Underworld Khthonic Gods were worshipped in a state festival, They were generally worshipped in their Ouranic epithets.

The ancient Hellenes practiced Khthonic rituals of appeasement during certain festival days and when in dire need, but Khthonic deities were not worshipped in the same manner as Ouranic deities were. they would not have been included in household worship, for example, or given regular praise and sacrifice to. Khthonic deities were, at Their very core, to be feared and to be held at bay. they were sent away from the oikos, the house, if anything. So what you are asking me to tell you is a practice that did not exist.
 
If you do wish to pursue your worship and you want to include traditional elements, I can tell you how the Khthonic Gods were appeased and perhaps you can make a daily practice out of that. It wouldn't be Traditional, but it would at least have the traditional elements of ancient Hellenic worship.
 
The ancient Hellenes shaped a 'negative' (part of a) ritual for Khthonic rites by a reversal of normal practices. As normal practices dictated the practitioner stand before an altar with their hands raised, it's quite logical that they performed ritual to the Khthonic deities with their hands down the soil or with their left hand only raised. At the start of the rites, they might have beat down on the ground to draw the attention of the deities residing below. Where women wore their hair up or covered for standard ritual, they wore their hair down in Khthonic ritual.
 
For Khthonic Theoi, an offering pit--'bothros' (βόθρος) in Greek texts--was used. Bothroi were usually dug when the occasion called for it and closed up afterwards. Khthonic Theoi received special nighttime offerings of black animals, unmixed wine and special libations of milk and honey. Animal sacrifice was always done in a holókaustos--a sacrifice where the entire animal was burned and none of the meat was saved for human consumptions. It's also possible to simply bury the offering without building a fire as fire was a vessel for Ouranic sacrifice (rising up to the Theoi).
Oh Pallas Athena... In my personal practice, She is chief amongst the Gods. All my life, she has been protectress and as I am preparing to move houses, I call upon Her to fortify its walls and make them impenetrable to everything and all. We all know the Homeric and Orphic hymns to Athena but there are a few lesser known ones you might not be familiar with. I'd like to share those today.


Solon, fr. 4.4-5 (6th Century BCE)
 
“This sort of a great-hearted overseer, a daughter of a strong-father
Holds her hands above our city, Pallas Athena”
 
(τοίη γὰρ μεγάθυμος ἐπίσκοπος ὀβριμοπάτρη
Παλλὰς ᾿Αθηναίη χεῖρας ὕπερθεν ἔχει)
 
 
Euripides, Heracleidae 770-72 (5th Century BCE)
 
“Queen, the foundation of the land
and the city is yours, you are its mother,
mistress and guardian..”
 
(ἀλλ’, ὦ πότνια, σὸν γὰρ οὖ-
δας γᾶς καὶ πόλις, ἆς σὺ μά-
τηρ δέσποινά τε καὶ φύλαξ…)
 
 
Aristophanes, Knights 581-585 (5th Century BCE)
 
“O Pallas, protector of the city,
The most sacred city-
and defender of a land
that surpasses all others
in war and poetry.”
 
(῏Ω πολιοῦχε Παλλάς, ὦ
τῆς ἱερωτάτης ἁπα-
σῶν πολέμῳ τε καὶ ποη-
ταῖς δυνάμει θ’ ὑπερφερού-
σης μεδέουσα χώρας)
The Mounikhia (Μουνιχιας), the festival after which the month was named, is celebrated on the sixteenth of Mounichion. On this day of the full moon, Artemis Mounikhia (Αρτεμις Μουνυχια) was honored at the hill of Munikhia, for granting the Hellenes victory in the Battle of Salamis (Ναυμαχία τῆς Σαλαμῖνος).

During the festival, young girls walked in procession to the temple on top of the hill carrying green boughs, while the rest of the celebrants followed, carrying special cakes called 'amphiphontes' ('shining all round’). These round white cakes were adorned with dadia (little torches)--lit candle--and were supposed to represent the full moon. A she-goat is also attested as a sacrifice. To honour Artemis on this day, Elaion is organizing a PAT ritual. Will you be celebrating the Mounikhia with us? There will be two times: just after your dusk on Monday 23 April, or at our regular 10 a.m. EDT on 24 April.

The ritual for the festival can be found here, and if you want to learn more about the festival and its history, please read this blog post. I wrote it a few years ago when the festival came 'round.

During this festival, an amphiphon was sacrificed to Artemis. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit. Most likely, the amphiphon was a type of popanon; this is a large, round, flat cake with one or more, upright, protruding, knobs made from flour and cheese. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Artemis, amongst others, as well as one with twelve knobs. We've seen this before for the Delphinia.

As always, we hope you will join us at your oikos to honour Artemis, our eternal protector. You can join the community page here and find the ritual here.
Greece means something different to everyone. Whether you are near or further afield, your help and your ideas can transform the lives of people in a city, a village, a neighborhood or an island close to your heart. This is the vision of 'Giving for Greece', set up in 2016 by the Bodossaki Foundation, one of the oldest charitable foundations set up in Greece. Giving for Greece is also Pandora's Kharis' cause for Mounukhion.



Across the country, social needs are widespread and pressing. An unbalanced spread of help and resources is witnessed across almost all fields – from social welfare to education, health and the environment. Volunteers in NGOs, social workers, doctors, teachers and other people on the frontline are, in fact, struggling to do their utmost with limited resources.

A dedicated team of experienced professionals is in Greece to assist potential donors – whether individuals, organizations or business entities who have the ability and the will to help but do know how – and turn their vision, aspirations and ambitions and turn them into real projects, (donor-advised funds), in response to real social needs.

In parallel, ‘Giving for Greece’ proposes clearly defined and targeted thematic programmes linked to urgent and immediate needs on the field (thematic funds). OTheir first thematic programme is the Unaccompanied Refugee Children Fund.

The deadline to donate is April 28, 2016. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Khairis website, or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!
A requested relayed message, originally put up by Susan Deacy over at Athena Trickster: there's still time to offer a paper for the 'Athena: Sharing Current Research' project.


This conference will share current research on a deity that has been a topic of interest since the dawn of classical scholarship and through its various ‘turns.’ The event will appraise various ways to approach the goddess by drawing together current researchers from the UK, France, Italy, and, they hope, elsewhere. The event takes place at a time of a resurgence of interest in the Goddess (evidenced, for instance, by the 2016 edition of the journal Pallas devoted to Athena-related papers). The event will both reflect and appraise this renewed interest.

Envisaged themes to include:

- Athena the networker – polytheism, the pantheon and the ‘Paris School’
- Athena in the city – in antiquity and beyond
- Gendering Athena
- Attributes of Athena
- Athena as warrior deity

Deacy hads a further suggested theme: Athena in neopagan traditions. She'd certainty be happy to receive proposals along the lines of:

 - Living Athenas: modern neopagan traditions

Other suggestions welcome. Programme to follow in May. The conference takes place on the 3rd June 2016, Adam Room, Grove House, University of Roehampton, London. If you'd like to offer a paper (of c. 20 minutes) - please send title plus c. 200-word abstract by 30 April 2016. All welcome to present/attend, esp. postgraduate students.

Tweet @AthenaSharing or email s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk if you'd like to be added to the mailing list - or would like just to make contact.
Fragments of an ancient Greek text telling of an invasion of ancient Hellas by the Goths during the third century A.D. have been discovered in the Austrian National Library. The text includes a battle fought at the pass of Thermopylae. Researchers used spectral imaging to enhance the fragments, making it possible to read them. This reports Live Science. The analysis suggests the fragments were copied in the 11th century A.D. and are from a text that was written in the third-century A.D. by an Athens writer named Dexippus. During Dexippus’ life, Hellas (then already part of the Roman Empire) and Rome struggled to repel a series of Gothic invasions.


The Thermopylae fragment is one of several written by Dexippus, discovered in the Austrian National Library book, that discuss the invasion of Greece by the Goths. The text in question is the Codex Vindobonensis historicus gr. 73. The bound collection of 10th century ecclesiastical ordinances was acquired in the 16th century by Ogier de Busbecq, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I’s envoy to Constantinople, an avid manuscript collector who would bequeath his collection to the imperial library in Vienna. The parchment pages of the codex came from two different 11th century manuscripts, with 11 pages of monastic rules and prayers added in the 13th century.

The presence of hidden text in the Codex Vindobonensis was discovered decades ago, but even under UV light the text was too faint to be read accurately. A few years ago the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) funded Martin and Grusková’s research into palimpsests, allowing them to look behind the visible script of the codex with EMEL’s multi-spectral technology. The pages were irradiated with lights of different wavelengths. Each type of light is absorbed into the parchment and ink to different degrees. Photographs capture the degrees of absorption and then computer software stitches the pictures together to create a detailed image of the hidden text.

With this system, Martin and Grusková were able to read pieces of the ancient Greek text underwriting the medieval and discovered a precious treasure: significant sections of a history of Rome’s 3rd century Gothic wars written by 3rd century Athenian historian P. Herennius Dexippus. His history, the Scythica (Dexippus called the Goths Scythians), was only known from very fragmentary quotes in much later books. These hefty passages shed a whole new light on the wars of the mid-3rd century. The Thermopylae battle fragment was first published in 2014 in German in the journal Wiener Studies by Gunther Martin and Jana Grusková, researchers at the University of Bern and Comenius University in Bratislava, respectively.

Lecturers Christopher Mallan, of Oxford University, and Caillan Davenport, of the University of Queensland in Australia, recently translated one of the fragments into English. The translated text, detailed in the Journal of Roman Studies, describes the Thermopylae battle: at the start of the fragment, 'battle columns' of Goths, a people who flourished in Europe whom the Romans considered barbarians, are attacking the Greek city of Thessalonica. Though no one has an exact date for the Thermopylae battle, it was likely fought in the 250s or 260s. Dexippus wrote of the attack, as translated by Mallan and Davenport:

“[The Goths invaded Thra]ce and Macedonia, and plundered the entire countryside therein. And then, making an assault upon the city of the Thessalonians, they tried to capture it as a close-packed band. But since those on the walls defended themselves valiantly, warding off the battle columns with the assistance of many hands, and as none of the Scythians’ hopes came to pass, they abandoned the siege. The prevailing opinion of the host was to make for Athens and Achaia, envisioning the gold and silver votive offerings and the many processional goods in the Greek sanctuaries: for they learned that the region was exceedingly wealthy in this respect.
 
When the approach of the Scythians was reported to the Greeks, they gathered at Thermopylae, and set about blocking them from the narrow passes there. Some carried small spears, other axes, others wooden pikes overlaid with bronze and with iron tips, or whatever each man could arm himself with. And when they came together, they completely fortified the perimeter wall and devoted themselves to its protection with haste. And it seemed that the area was otherwise very secure, since the road which led to Greece beyond the Gates was narrow and impracticable on account of the harsh terrain. For the Euboean Sea, at its greatest extent, stretches up to the flat lands near the mountains and makes them most difficult to access on account of the mud, and adjacent to these extends Mt Oeta [, which...] on account of the closeness of the rocks, makes the place almost impassable for both infantry and cavalry.
 
The generals elected for the entire war were proclaimed by the Greeks: first Marianus, who had been chosen previously by the emperor to govern Greece inside the Gates; in addition to him, Philostratus the Athenian, a man mighty in speech and thought; and also Dexippus, who was holding the chief office among the Boeotians for the fifth time.
 
It seemed that the most prudent course was to encourage the men with a speech, and to recall the memory of their ancestors’ valour, so that they would undertake the entire war with greater heart and not give up either during an extended period of watch, or during an attempt on the wall, if such an attempt were to take place at some point in time. When the men had gathered together, Marianus, who had been given the responsibility of addressing them on account of his status, spoke as follows:
 
‘O Greeks, the occasion of our preservation for which you are assembled and the land in which you have been deployed are both truly fitting to evoke the memory of virtuous deeds. For your ancestors, fighting in this place in former times, did not let Greece down and deprive it of its free state, for they fought bravely in the Persian wars and in the conflict called the Lamian war, and when they put to flight Antiochos, the despot from Asia, at which time they were already working in partnership with the Romans who were then in command. So perhaps it may be good fortune, in accordance with the daimonion, that it has been allotted to the Greeks to do battle against the barbarians in this region (indeed your own principles of fighting the wars have turned out to be valid in the past). But you may take confidence in both your preparation for these events and the strength of the region — as a result of which, in previous attacks you seemed terrifying to the enemies. On account of these things future events do not appear to me not without hope, as to better…

The fragment ends before the completion of Marianus’ speech, and the outcome of the battle is uncertain. Marianus may well have given a speech (or speeches) to the troops, researchers said; however, the speech recorded in this text was likely invented by Dexippus, something ancient historians often did.

For a much more thorough breakdown of the text and background of the seige, please go here.
On April 8 at the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne, Australia, 'Oneiroi' was launched. Oneiroi is a photographic installation by one of Australia’s leading artists, Bill Henson that will be housed permanentely at the Hellenic Museum. The photographs that make up Oneiroi incorporate priceless treasures from the museum's award winning Benaki collection, Gods, Myths & Mortals. The collection showcases artefacts from across 8,000 years of Greek civilisation, including Neolithic pottery, Cycladic statues, Minoan figurines, Mycenaean jewellery, Hellenistic sculptures and Byzantine icons and manuscripts and Henson had almost unlimited access to the artifacts.

 
Upon viewing the artifacts on display Henson was immediately drawn to the more 'intimately scaled items' and wanted to couple them with a live person. A conservator from the Benaki Museum had flown down to help with the delicate shoot and together they spent a day carefully taking artefacts out of display cases for Henson’s model to handle.
 
Some of the items Henson picked are thousands of years old, including a gold myrtle wreath (fourth to third century BC), a gold kylix (late 15th to early 14th century BC) and earrings from the Hellenistic period (250-200 BC) featuring pendant Eros figures. Upon being asked if the mudeum had reservations letting him handle the artifacts,  Henson replied:
 
"There was no issue with them being on a person’s skin or on their head but I think [that’s because] we were working in a controlled environment. The shoot took place inside the museum – it wasn’t as if you were outside, sweating in the sun. But as I understand from what [the conservator] was saying, they have all kinds of sealers and other things on this material to stop it from oxidising, so it was more a case of having them handled properly and moving carefully and slowly."
 
Henson was also asked if the representatives of the Museum ever felt handing these items over to an artist might be considered sacrilegious due to their age and intended purpose. He replied:
 
"When I proposed this idea to John Tatoulis [chief executive of the Hellenic Museum] he obviously went away and had a think about it and discussed it with various authorities back in Athens, and no one seemed to think there was any issue at all. Of course the model, if you want to call her that, is really like an armature for the pieces. The way in which I wanted to photograph this was to leave the human presence in the photograph fairly ambiguous. Although the pieces were against human skin, as they were originally intended, they weren’t overtaken by some kind of fashion shoot aesthetic."
 
For more of the interview with Bill Henson, go here. For more photographs, please go here and for more information on the exposition, go here.
I recently stumbled upon this very amusing post by TopTenz on ancient Spartan quotes--or quotes attributed to the ancient Spartans. I'd love to share these quotes an a short summary of the context with you today.

"What Splendid Women’s Quarters"
King Agesilaus was a Spartan king who ruled the state for 40 years. He was described as a small man of unimpressive stature but was well known for his courage and bravery. Like most Spartans, Agesilaus wasn’t a fan of walls made of brick and stone, believing that a city was defended by its men, not its fortifications. The above quote came from Agesilaus after an unnamed leader from a friendly city proudly showed the Spartan king his city’s impressive fortifications.

"These Are Sparta’s Walls"
Related to the above quote and also attributed to King Agesilaus. According to Plutarch in his book 'On Sparta', this quote was the stock response to anyone who questioned why Sparta lacked fortifications of any kind. Alternatively, he would merely point at his men for equal effect.

"Come and Take Them"
King Leonidas was quoted as saying this ('Molon Labe') upon being told to surrender his weapons by King Xerses. The Spartans were, at the time, outnumbered 200 to 1 but the didn't lose their courage and honour.

"If"
Around 350 BC, King Philip II of Macedon invaded Hellas. After he had several key footholds under his command, Philip decided to start putting pressure on Sparta and sent them the following threatening message: 'If I win this war, you will be slaves forever'. The Spartan’s sent back a single word in reply: 'if. King Philip left Sparta alone after that.

"Neither"
This one took place after the above. When King Philip expanded his empire across ancient Hellas, he sent a letter to the current Spartan king, asking if he wanted him to enter his lands as a friend or a foe. The only response Philip ever received was yet another single-word reply: 'Neither'.

"With It or On It"
This is not a direct quote, or at least not attributed to a single person. 'Come back with your shield, or on it' was noted by Plutarch as being the way Spartan mothers would bid their sons goodbye when they went off to war. In short: you either came vack victorious or dead. Even more: losing your shield was seen as the ultimate act of failure in Spartan society, because your shield not only protected you but the man next to you. Spartans who lost their shield in battle were expected to recover it, or die trying. Those who didn’t were labelled deserters, and even their own mothers would disown them.

"It Will Be the Size of a Lion When I Bore Down On My Enemies"
Spartan shields were more often than not family treasures. They were passed down from father to son and it wasn’t uncommon for a soldier to beat an enemy to death with same shield his grandfather had used. It also wasn’t uncommon for Spartans to decorate their shield. This served two purposes: it helped the individual Spartan be identified on the battlefield and it was very intimidating. This story came about as an unnamed Spartan soldier spent many hours painting a life-sized fly onto his shield. This annoyed his peers, who accused him of cowardice and of complete idiocy to boot. The young Spartan explained that the fly would be the size of a giant when he smashed it into his enemies’ face and no one would question his identity, bravery or intelligence.

"Dig It Out For Yourselves"
This moment was ortrayed epically in the movie '300', but they got the quote incorrect. The movie uses the quote: 'This. Is. Sparta!' as King Leonidas kicked a Persian messenger that came to Sparta to ask for their surrender down a well. It's recorded, howver, that the actual quote as he did this was: 'dig it out for yourselves' in relation to the required surrender payment of earth and water.

"So That We May Get Close to the Enemy"
The Spartan default weapon of choice for close combat was a short sword known as the xiphos. Upon being asked why the Spartans fought with daggers instead of swords, this was the Spartant retort.

"Because We are Also the Only Ones Who Give Birth to Men"
Women in ancient Hellas were assumed to take on a fairy passive role, except in Sparta. In contrast to the other women of ancient hellas, Spartan women enjoyed a much greater level of freedom than their peers could ever expect. this quote is attributed to Queen Gorgo, wife of Leonidas. The legend goes that, while travelling through Attica, a local woman approached Queen Gorgo and innocently asked her: 'why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?' Gorgo very matter-of-factly replied: 'because we are also the only ones who give birth to them'.
Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, Ukraine. Today: Odessos.


Odessos (Οδησσος), which is the modern day Odessa, is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria. It was found during the last quarter of 6th century BC (about 585–550 BC) by Hellenic immigrants from the Asia Minor city of Miletos. They came upon the site of an earlier settlement by Thracians, which name the ancient immigrants preserved.

During its first two centuries of existence, to about the middle of the 4th century BC, Odessos was an important harbor on the Black sea western coast. Its citizen traded with numerous cities and islands of Hellas and Asia Minor, from where they imported luxurious objects: painted ceramics, gold, marble, as well as amphorae with wine and olive oil, and many similar edible or general use objects. Part of the imported items stayed in the city while another part was exchanged or traded with Thracians from the internal parts of the city’s region with whom the Odessians had excellent relations throughout their stay. In return, the Thracians sold to Odessos grain, meat, wood and other raw materials for the city to export.

Odessos, until this point in time, was a wealthy city but not a large one. Around the middle of the 4th century BC Odessos was fortified with seige walls in the hopes of withstanding the attacks of Phillip II of Macedonia in 339 BC. Their efforts succeeded but Phillip II's son, Alexander III the Great (336–323 BC) conquered the city in 335 BC.

Odessos flourished most during the Hellenistic Age (end of third to first century BC), when the city served as temporary center for the armies of the Thracian heir of Alexander the Great, king Lesmachus (323–280 BC). From the second half of the 4th century BC, Odessos started its own mint house. Local coins were illustrated with the head of city’s chief deities: Appollon and the so-called 'Great God'. Other deities were honored as well: Dionysos, Demeter and various Samothracian deities. During this time, large public buildings like theatres, temples and gymnasia were constructed during the period. Due to the increase of Thracian population in the city a temple for the Thracian God-rider Heros Carabazmos was erected  in second to first century BC, as well as a temple of Artemis Phosphoros.

In 15 AD Odessos became part of the Roman Empire as part of the province Moesia (later Moesia Inferior) and served as its main port. The city remained relatively independant and retained the right to mint its own bronze coins to the middle of the third century AD. Over the coming centuries, the city flourished and remained a major hub of import for marble, gold, precious stones for its jewelry workshops, glass, bronze utensils, luxurious ceramics, wine and other unavailable locally items. Local craftsmen produced ceramic, glass and bronze utensils, lamps, gold and silver jewelry, architectural ornaments. Arts were very popular – theater, music and poetry. Bronze and marble statues were erected. New cults appeared – to the Emperor in Rome, to the health related deities Asclepius and Hyggia, to the eastern god Mithras. Very popular were sports and gladiator fights. Each five years traditional sport and cultural events took place.

Christianity's influence expanded gradually but Odessos preserved the old cults prevailed well until 5th century AD. During that period the city turned into one of the most important commercial centers of early Byzantine Empire. It became the seat of a bishop. By the end of 6th and early 7th century Avar and Slav intrusions depopulated and ruined the lands between the Haemus (Balkan mountains) and the Danube river. Gradually these territories were left to barbarians from the Byzantine officials. Odessos still remained the most solid ground for ancient civilization and traditions and it was one of tha last cities to fall into barbarian hands. In 614 AD its inhabitants left it, the city overrun and ruined by barbarians and left without population for a number of centuries.

In the Middle Ages successive rulers of the Odessan region included various nomadic tribes, the Golden Horde, the Crimean Khanate, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Ottoman Empire. During the Russian-Turkish War of 1787–1792, Russian forces took the city for the Russian Empire. In 1819, the city became a free port, a status it retained until 1859. Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, during the Ukrainian-Soviet War, the city then known as 'Odessa' became a center of the Odessa Soviet Republic. In 1991, when Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its dissolution at the end of the Cold War, Odessa became part of the Ukraine.
On Mounuchion 6, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) starts. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 a.m. EDT on April 14. Will you be joining us?


What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day.

The Delphinia is a festival to ask for the protection of all ships and sailors, to ask for guidance for young boys and girls transitioning into adulthood and--as a festival of purification--the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle.

Plutarch connects the sixth of the month Mounukhion to Apollon and Theseus--most importantly to Theseus' quest for the Minotaur--in his 'Life of Theseus'. Theseus vows to look over those the lots choose to be offered to the Minotaur in the maze on Krete. Roughly in the month of Mounukhion, the seafaring season started. It's therefor not odd that lots would have been cast about this time, for the youths--and everyone else with business across the sea--would set sail as soon as the weather allowed. The rising of the Pleiades, located in the constellation of Taurus, around late April, the beginning of May, was a signal for the boldest of sea-goers that the treacherous sea was at least moderately accessible. Still, it would be at least several months before the favoured seafaring season started, so anyone braving the sea, could probably use some protection. Somewhere shortly after the Delphinia would have been Theseus' first opportunity to sail to Krete, but it would place his return almost five months later; quite some time for a three day journey (one way) in favourable conditions.

During the Delphinia, young maidens presented Apollon Delphinion, and perhaps Artemis Delphinia, with the iketiria Theseus had presented them with as well, in the hopes of receiving for the Athenians the same guidance and protection at sea as the Kretan colonists, as well as Theseus and the youths, had gotten.

A connection can also be made with Theseus visiting the shrine of Apollon Delphinios as an opportunity for purification before his great quest, as the young supplicants who prepared for their personal collective journeys into adulthood would desire purification of their own, and Apollon in many of his epithets is a purifier. Also, in a little less than a month, the Thargelia took place in Delos, an event where the births of Artemis, and especially Apollon were celebrated. The rites at the Delphinia might have been part of the purification processes for those who were to go to Delos (with thanks to Daphne Lykeia for this interpretation).

As a festival of purification, the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle. A divine purification of miasma might allow you to focus better on these issues, and receive guidance from the Theoi more easily--like Theseus, who purified himself at the Delphinion and prayed for the guidance of Aphrodite directly thereafter. Aphrodite made Ariadne fall for him, saving his life and those of the young men and women in the process.

One can celebrate this day by offering both Apollon and Artemis hymns, libations, and Popana cakes, and presenting Artemis with an iketiria, an olive branch wrapped with white wool, if you are a young female looking for aid. An iketiria was primarily used in rites of supplication.

The popana (or popanon) should be a flat cake with a single 'knob' in the center. We don't have a surviving recipe, but Cato's recipes for 'libum' seems to hold many of the same ingredients. It goes as follows:

"'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg ...and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot."

That's a lot of Popana. Make this if you're with a large group, else the recipe would look something like this for something the size of a good loaf of bread or its equivalent in smaller portions:

- 14 ounces good ricotta or any fresh cheese, preferably unpasteurized (ricotta should always be drained overnight in a colander)
- 4 ounces (approx) flour, preferably farro
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of salt
- several bay leaves, preferably fresh
- olive oil, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

You can either make large cakes or small ones. If you're making large ones, line a baking pan or sheet with bay leaves and brush them lightly with olive oil. If you don't have enough leaves to cover the surface, distribute the leaves as best you can. If you are going to make smaller cakes, brush one leaf with oil for each cake you are going to make.

Knead all the ingredients (except the bay leaves) until well blended. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a single, or several smaller cakes. Place either the large cake on top of the bay leaves, or put each little one on top of one. Then put it in a baking pan and into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community here.
Today Elaion wil host a PAT ritual for the sacrifice to the Herakleidai. As a part of the ritual outline we made, we give honour to some who are not sons of Herakles and I would like to share why today. This is based upon Euripides' play 'Heracleidae', or 'The Sons of Herakles'. This tragedy was first produced around 430 or 429 BC and follows the children of Herakles (collectively known as the Herakleidai) and their protectors as they seek the aid of Demophon and the city of Athens against the vengeance of Eurystheus of Argos, although it is widely regarded as a political and patriotic piece written by Euripides during the difficult times Athens was experiencing.


The play follows years after the mythological Labours of Herakles. To recap that tale: due to Hera's jealousy, Herakles was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife Megara. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Herakles to serve the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Herakles with these labours--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Herakles.

Herakels was ordered to: slay the Nemean Lion, slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, capture the Golden Hind of Artemis, capture the Erymanthian Boar, clean the Augean stables in a single day, slay the Stymphalian Birds, capture the Kretan Bull, steal the Mares of Diomedes, obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon, steal the apples of the Hesperides and capture and bring back Kerberos. He undertook many of these labours with his trusted friend and nephew Iolaus.

The play takes off when Iolaus is an old man. He is in hiding with Herakles’ fatherless children at the altar of the temple of Zeus at Marathon, near Athens. They have been moving from city to city, as Iolaus tries to protect them from the vengeful King Eurystheus, who has vowed to kill them. Demophon, son of Theseus and king of Athens, hears the story and chooses the side of the Herakleidai. This puts Athens at war with Eurystheus and Argos. Demophon insists that Athens has always been a friend to the friendless and is confident that the Herakleidai will always be grateful.

Eurystheus and the Argive army arrive and begin to press the Athenian defence. The battle goes badly for the Athenians until an oracle foretells that Athens will succeed only if a maid of noble blood is sacrificed, and Demophon is unwilling to call on his own people to provide such a sacrifice. However, Makaria, the eldest daughter of Herakles, overhears the conversation and willingly offers herself as the sacrifice. She is praised for her noble death and with her sacrifice, Herakles’ son Hyllos is able to secure reinforcements. The combined forces are soon victorious.

Eurystheus is captured by Iolaus during the battle, and is brought in to face the wrath of Herakles’ mother, Alkmene. In his defence, Eurystheus claims that he did not seek the persecution of Herakles and his family for his own gratification, but was held to it by the Goddess Hera. Alkmene insists on taking her revenge on Eurystheus by taking his life, even if that is against Athenian laws. Eurystheus then tells of a prophecy that his spirit will protect the city from the descendants of the Herakleidai if they slay and bury him, and the Athenians bow to this higher law and Eurystheus is put to death.


'Heracleidae' is usually considered to be essentially a patriotic piece by Euripides, written to the greater glory of Athens, during a period of great instability and uncertainty, as it came under repeated attacks from Sparta in the early stages of the Peloponnesian War. The main themes of the play--piety to the Gods, patronage of the downtrodden and pride in noble blood, all considered as national characteristics by Athenians--were guaranteed to bring out patriotic feelings in the Athenian audience. The choice of Marathon (a location dear to the heart of Athenians, where Athens had once before turned the tide of “barbarism”) as the scene of the play was also deliberately designed to elicit patriotic feelings in the audience.
Four tablets inscribed with curses call upon deities of the underworld to 'cast hate' upon the owners of four taverns, and bind them in blood and ashes with the dead. These narratives date back to the early fourth century BC and researchers say they divulge a great deal about the social and ritualistic practices of the ancient society. This reports the Archaeological News Network.


In a recent paper published in 'Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik', Jessica Lamont of Johns Hopkins University describes the elaborate ritual unearthed in a classical grave northeast of Piraeus, Greece. Of the five lead tablets first discovered in 2003, four were inscribed with text, each targeting husband-wife tavern owners with a similar curse. The tablets were each pierced with an iron nail and folded, and placed in a grave which contained the cremated remains of a young woman. Burial pyres contained libations and other offerings for the gods, so the cemetery was an optimal location for 'supernatural exploitation.' In the paper, Lamont describes the narrative of one tablet, which reads:

"Hekate Chthonia, Artemis Chthonia, Hermes Chthonios cast your hate upon Phanagora and Demetrios, and their tavern and their property and their possessions. I will bind my enemy Demetrios, and Phanagora, in blood and in ashes, with all the dead. Nor will the next four-year cycle release you. I will bind you in such a bind, Demetrios, as strong as is possible, and I will smite down a kynotos on [your] tongue."

Hermes is commonly called upon in curses, the researcher explains, and the goddess Hekate was dangerous and liminal. And, though Artemis is largely associated with the protection of women, the curses appeal to the 'destructive side' of this Goddess, 'tied to the realm of the sinister and the threatening.'

Kynotos means 'dog's ear,' Lamont explains, which is likely a reference to gambling, wishing upon the subjects the 'lowest possible throw of dice.' In the three other tablets which each contained a curse as well, Lamont writes that the narratives paralleled the one revealed above, targeting the businesses, properties, and possessions of tavern owners. This particular ritual was no simple feat and was likely an act of desperation, the researcher explains. The structure of the text suggests the curses were carved by an experienced scribe.

 "Commissioning a curse tablet was a drastic measure; commissioning five betrays an even greater investment, and state of desperation, on the part of the curser." the author writes.

Though one of the tablets was included without any inscribed text, the researcher says that this too likely had importance. An associated curse may have been recited rather than written, and each tablet was a 'vehicle in a larger chain of private ritual activity.' While it can't be said for certain that the reason behind the curse can be traced to commercial rivalry, the researcher says the narrative and assemblage indicates this is the most likely reason. The curses may have been deposited by a mourner who was involved in the burial, or the ritual may have taken place as a 'clandestine midnight scenario' by a professional.

The ancient Hellenes were a competitive people, and struggled with many of the issues we do today: the urge to perform well, the desire for justice to be served, and a need for love. Prayers for these things were made often, usually in their normal ritualized form at the house altar. If these requests were made against, or at the expense of another person, however, they were generally taken out of the realm of regular worship and kharis, and into the realm of the khthonic. The preferred form were tablets like these called  'katadesmoi'.

Katadesmoi are relatively small tablets, inscribed with a desire asked of the Theoi to fulfil. The Katadesmoi that have survived were generally made out of very thin sheets of lead, which were then rolled, folded or pierced with nails. Wax, papyrus, stone, precious metals, and precious minerals would also have been used as a medium. Some katadesmoi were accompanied by a small doll representing the intended victim or even a lock of their hair, especially in the case of love spells. In general, the katadesmoi always included the name of the intended victim and the name(s) of the appropriated Gods--most often Hades, Kharon, Hekate, and Persephone. Exceptions have been found, of course.

Katadesmoi were usually deposited where they would be closest to the Underworld: in chasms, pools of water, wells, caves, temples to the deity in question, buried underground, or placed in graves. The latter was usually a special form, however, and the katadesmoi placed with the dead were usually requests to avenge the death of the deceased.

In general, katadesmoi were used out of desperation: regular channels had been exhausted, human courts would never convict the perpetrator of a crime, or the murderer could no be found. Pleading with the Gods--who knew more, saw more, ad had a much farther reach--was considered the only alternative to get justice. This was even the case in many love spells. Katadesmoi were not made willy-nilly: there needed to be a strong incentive to make one.
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 would have a question about ancestor worship. As ancestors are chthonic beings, must they be sacrificed to outdoors by being poured libations onto the ground directly, or can they be worshipped  on an indoor altar and may the libations be poured into a libation vessel? If so, would it be appropriate to use the same one I use when I honor the ouranic theoi on my household altar?"

Ancestor worship was performed in Khthonic state festivals and as hero worship when at home. That is a generalization, of course, but it seems to mostly hold true.
 
There were regular state festivals organized for the dead (nekysia) and for the forefathers (genesia). On such days, graves were adorned, offerings of barley broth, milk, honey, unmixed wine, oil, water and the blood of animal sacrifices were given in the form of khoai--fully poured out libations. Graves often had bottomless amphorae placed on it on hollow columns. The libation was poured into this and seeped down into the dirt to 'feed the dead'.
 
The Genesia seems to have been a festival of the dead--especially of dead parents. It was celebrated on the fifth of the month of Boudromion in Athens, but that is all we know for sure. There is reason to believe that the Genesia was panhellenic--although we do not know if all city-states performed the rites on the same day. We are also unsure if the Genesia was a set day for all children to visit their parents' grave and perform sacrifices there, or if there was a public commemoration of all parents. The day is also sacred to Gaea, who housed the remains of the dead, and brought fertility and wealth to the living.
 
These rites were to commemorate specific people. It was also possible to honour the family line and it was actually a part of the celbration of Agathós Daímōn, the third day of the month. The goal was not to honour the people in the family line but to express pride in your blood and bring about good fortune as stemming from the family line. This type of worship was closer to hero worship and was performed at a separate shrine or at an offering pit outside. These sarcifices were generally wholely given as well and could either be an animal or, more commenly, unmixed wine.
 
~~~

"I am fortunate enough to live on a fairly large piece of property and while we have gardened in the past, this year we are making an effort to expand our gardening efforts quite a bit. I was wondering if it would be appropriate to make some sort of offering, possibly to Demeter, at the start of our planting season to ask for a plentiful harvest. Any suggestions you might have on how to go about this and which Theoi I should include would be greatly appreciated."

It is always appropriate to make offerings to the Theoi, at any time and for any reason. In fact, I greatly encourage it as this kharis will undoubtedly help with the growth and protection of your crops. The ancient Hellenic festival calendars always included and followed the cycle of achriculture. There were festivals for specific crops, like barley, but als grander festivals like those of the Eleusinian Mysteries that were celebrated to ensure a good harvest. The cycle started with the pre-ploughing festival Proerosia, continued into the Thesmophoria, then the Haloa. In general, fertility rituals were the domain of women and women only.
 
I assume every family practiced some sort of agricultural and fertility rite before plouging but we don't know exactly hat happened and who was sacrificed to. But, as always, we have clues because we know that what happened in state festivals usually also happened in private household worship, just at a smaller scale.
 
From this we can conclude that Gaea, Demeter, Kore and Dionysos were most likely the Theoi sacrificed to primarily. Gaea, as the earth, and Demeter as Goddess of the harvest make sense. Kore is the Goddess of growth, especially of new plants. Dionysos is also an agrarian deity as he is in charge of the growth of the grapevine. Then there are a few deities that come to me that I would definitely give sacrifice to before planting: the Hoirae as rulers of the seasons and weather, Helios as the Lord of the Sun (because you want enough of it but not too much) and Zeus Ombrios as Lord of the rain (because, again, you want enough of it but not too much).
 
Judging by the rites in the Eleusinian cycle, a pre-ploughing ritual may have had a symbolic (hand) ploughing of a portion of the soil. Onto this, barley groats would have been tossed as purification and sacrifice and copious libations of milk, honey and water would have been poured out in their entirety to the above mentioned Gods. Hymns and prayers would have been called up to the sky and prayers would have been said to ask for good growth, good weather and protection from crop diseases. In ancient times, an animal sacrifice might also have been a part of the rites.
 
~~~

"One more question about honoring the ancestors--even though ancestor worship in a domestic setting is like hero worship in manner, one does still kneel to the ancestors when at home, is that right?"

There is very little evidence that the ancient Hellenes prayed on their knees at all but if they did, it were almost always women and the situation was incredibly dire. Kneeling was percieved as a ritual act of last resort, pursued by those in victim positions, who fall down on their knees in desperation. Kneeling is above all a sign of hiketeia, submission, appropriate for girls and women, inappropriate in most cases for free men. It's not odd, then that kneeling was almost solely connected to the rites around mourning and death where women were charged with the loud wailing and obvious signs of anguish to honour the departed. This is evident in, for example, the Iliad:

"Meleager lay there, nursing his anger, embittered by his mother’s curse. For he had killed an uncle, her brother, and she had knelt and beat on the fertile earth with her fists, and drowned her breast with tears, and called on Hades and dread Persephone to destroy her son. And the Fury that walks in the darkness of Erebus heard her, she of the pitiless heart." [Bk IX:565]

There is a difference between kneeling in prayer and gestures connected to the Khthonic rites to the Gods. Or, perhaps more accurately, between the rites to the dead and the rites to the Khthonic deities. Those are very much not the same thing. The ancient Hellenes, when praying, stood upright with both hands raised above the head, palms facing upward and forward. Plato asserts that if you preferred to raise only one hand in prayer, you would raise the right to pray to the Olympians and the left to pray to the Khthonians. Kneeling was connected to the recently deceased, not the Khthonic Gods or the rites to the ancestors.

Now, I do not know exactly if you would raise your palms up or turn them down for rites to the ancestors. I'm nto even sure about sacrifice to the heroes. But I can make an educated guess. I assume that for both, the palms would be turned upwards. Many heroes were raised to the status of Gods and rites to the family line were performed to express pride in your blood and bring about good fortune as stemming from the family line. This is decidedly Ouranic in nature and thus the palms would be turned upwards.

~~~

"On the website of Labrys, which I'm certain you've heard of, I read that altars cannot be moved after dedication. However, as I have had a toddler in my house for three years now, I've been moving my statues, candles and other altar pieces to a safe location somewhere else simply for safety. Would you say that is alright?"

Yeah, I read that too. The short answer: that only held true for temple altars and I assume mostly for practical reasons: the altar was aligned to the temple, so unless the temple moved, there was no reason to move the altar and if you moved the altar, well, you had to move the entire temple. Not practical. What happened when worship was moved to a temple in another location was often that a new altar was built. It was just more practical.

Residential altars established for family worship or the altars at state buildings could be moved without issue. Remember, the altar is not a holy place in and of itself. A pile of stones or a heap of dirt could be an altar. Anything raised from the ground could serve as an altar. It's the rites performed on it that are sacred and that does not change if the altar is moved.