The 12th of Hekatombion marks the start of the ancient Hellenic Kronia festival. The Kronia honours Kronos, Zeus' father, not to be confused with Khronos; creator of the Gods and Lord of Time. Will you be joining us for the celebration on July 6th, at the usual 10 am EDT?


In Athens, Kronos and Rhea--His wife and sister--shared a temple. They represented an age before the Theoi took to rule; a time when societal rules did not exist yet, and there was no hierarchy. As such, on the day Kronos was worshipped, the fixed order of society was suspended, and slaves joined--and even ruled over--a banquet given by their masters; they ran through the streets screaming and hollering. On Krete, they could whip their masters. As much fun as this was, the day served as a reminder that for a society to function, societal rules were necessary, and as such, it was also necessary for Zeus to overthrow His father and assume the throne.

Besides a banquette, the Kronia must have been celebrated with an official sacrifice as well, in the temple to Him and Rhea, as the Kronia was a harvest festival of sorts. Unlike many rites to Demeter, the Kronia focused on the harvest--most likely of cereals--that was completed around this time. It was the end of a hectic period where slaves were worked hard, and their masters as well. A communal meal and a little bit of payback on the side of the serfs was most likely at the root of this festival, along with gratitude for the successful harvest; the Hellenic summers were too hot to grow much of anything, so the food eaten in this barren season ahead needed to be taken in and thrashed (where needed) prior to the swell of summer heat. The Kronia was a good mark for this.

There is a little bit of evidence that human sacrifice--in the form of 'scapegoat' rituals was performed on or around the date of the Kronia in the very distant past, but by the time Hellas--and especially Athens--became civilized in the way we speak of today, this practice was long outdated. It seems that a criminal condemned to death was taken outside of the city gates for a reason now lost to us, possibly fed copious amounts of wine, and then killed in honor (or placation) of Kronos. Needless to say, there is no reason to bring this practice back.

You can find the ritual here and the community page here.
Absolutely no pressure (I don't even drink coffee, after all), but do you see that little link at the top of the page? That takes you to my brand new Ko-fi page. Once there, you can make a little donation--which would be nice, but Baring The Aegis is (and will always be) free! I would have liked to make it possible to donate a single dollar, but three dollars is the only option. Thank you in advance, if you are willing, and Gods bless!

(For today's real post, see below)
The Iliad (Ἰλιάς) is an ancient Hellenic epic poem, traditionally attributed to Homeros. It's set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Hellenic states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Hellenic legends about the siege; the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war, and related concerns tend to appear near the beginning. Then the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' imminent death and the fall of Troy, although the narrative ends before these events take place. However, as these events are prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, when it reaches an end the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War. Over the course of the story, many Gods are invoked and petitioned, and I'd like to collect some of these invocations here today, for use in your own rites.

An invocation is a request for the spiritual presence and blessing of a deity during a rite. To invoke is to call upon earnestly, so an “invocation” in the context of prayer is a serious, intentional calling upon a God or Goddess. In Hellenic ritual, it's common for prayers of invocation to be offered every time a new deity is invoked, so we can be sure They will the hymns and prayers of petition offered to Them. Invocations fit into the rite like so:

- Lighting of the incense burner with frankincense
- Invocation to Demeter: Khaire Demeter, you who taught us to work the earth and provides for us so bountifully…
- Libation of a kykeon and sacrifices
- Orphic Hymn 40 To Eleusinian Demeter
- Prayers

Apollon:
"O god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla, and rulest Tenedos with thy might..."
"Hear me O king from your seat, may be in the rich land of Lycia, or may be in Troy, for in all places you can hear the prayer of one who is in distress, as I now am..."

Athena:
"Hear me, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, unweariable..."
"Holy Athena, protectress of [Athens], mighty goddess..."
"Hear me, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, you who spy out all my ways and who are with me in all my hardships; befriend me in this mine hour..."

Erinyes:
"I call the Erinyes who dwell below and take vengeance on him who shall swear falsely..."

Helios:
"Oh Sun, that seest and givest ear to all things, Earth and Rivers..."

Zeus:
"Zeus, most glorious, supreme, that dwellest in heaven, and ridest upon the storm-cloud..."
"Father Zeus that rulest in Ida, most glorious in power..."
"Zeus, most great and glorious, and ye other everlasting gods..."
"King Zeus, lord of Dodona, god of the Pelasgi, who dwellest afar, you who hold wintry Dodona in your sway, where your prophets the Selli dwell around you with their feet unwashed and their couches made upon the ground- if you heard me when I prayed to you aforetime, [...]vouchsafe me now the fulfilment of yet this further prayer..."
I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.


"Hi! I have a few questions about household worship... 1. In the home, does the Hestia flame need to be separate from the sacrificial fire? 2. How do you offer fruit to the Theoi in the home? Do you burn it/do all ouranic offerings need to be burnt? 3. Do prayers come last in a ritual? Which comes first, prayers or offerings? Thank you so much in advance for your time! It means a lot."

1. Back in ancient Hellas, most religious activities surrounding the household revolved around the central hearth, which was seen as the physical manifestation of Hestia. While Hestia has little mythology to Her name, Her worship was a vital part of ancient Hellenic religion. For one, Her flame connected every single Hellenic oikos to each other and the state. All the household fires were lit with a flame from the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night. Every single heart fire in the city or town was linked to that central one, and that central fire was linked to the city from where the settlers of the new village, town or city came. This network of fires, which were never allowed to go out, brought all Hellenes together. In modern worship, we very rarely have a fire burning at all times of the day, so many Hellenes opt to have a candle burning for Her (or a battery powered one when we leave the house). In modern worship we thus usually have a fire to Hestia burning during ritual as well as a sacrificial fire, but since the sacrificial fire is usually lit from the flame to Hestia, it is really an extension of Hestia's flame.

2. Traditionally speaking--which is what I practice, so that's the answer you're getting when you ask me things--yes, all Ouranic sacrifices should be burned. Sacrifices to heroes too, by the way, and even some Khthonic sacrifices were burned. The ancient Hellenes burned things (like sacrifices, incense, but also the firebrand to make khernips) because smoke was the only way the sacrifice reached the Ouranic Gods. That's how the sacrifice traveled to Olympos and how the sacrifice itself became sacred. Pure. Not burning sacrifices, traditionally speaking, is promising the gods sustenance and giving them an empty plate along with a message saying "just imagine it's food. I'm sure you'll feel full". Of course, I--and hopefully They--know it isn't always possible, but I do advocate burning sacrifices if at all possible.

3. Sacrifice was and is the highlight of Hellenic ritual. In ancient Hellas, communal sacrifices almost always included animal sacrifice. Worshippers processed to the ritual site, consciously leaving the mundane behind. The scent of incense would have filled the air, and hymns would have been sung. They cleansed themselves with lustral water (named khernips) and sprinkled the area and altar with it. All participants threw barley groats onto the animal, the ground and the altar to sow good fortune. The hymns would have continued until libations were made in or around the fire. This signaled the start of prayers. After the libation, the person who would kill the animal would have taken the knife and cut a lock of the animal's hair. Swiftly, the lock would be tossed into the fire as a warning of the impending sacrifice. The tension would have reached its height at this time and with a swift motion, the animal's throat would have been cut. All of its blood was collected and later dripped onto the fire or--in case of a smaller animal--dripped onto the fire directly. Women would scream, possibly to cover up the dying sounds of the animal, and then the tension would have most likely been broken and the ominous mood turned festive: while the entire animal belonged to the Gods, They saw fit to give much of it to Their followers for rare meat consumption. Then, Hestia received the last libation.

Modern worship is organized somewhat the same way as ancient sacrifice was. Perhaps needless to say: modern worship rarely includes animal sacrifice, although meat sacrifices are more common. We start with a procession (no matter how short) toward the altar, where we purify ourselves and the space around us with khernips. We also sow barley groats. This is not only a form of purification, it was the start of the process of kharis where the strewing of barley groats on and around the altar of the Theoi is like a spiritual sowing to reap the benefits of later (asked for through prayer later on in the rite). As such, the barley that we use is whole form, just like it is for actual sowing of the crop.

During the procession, songs are sung, and once purification is performed, a hymn is sung or proclaimed. Hymns are sung to please, to bring forth. It is a way to celebrate the deity in question, but also to make Him or Her more inclined to grant the following request. Prayers are next on the agenda. A prayer is carefully formulated to convey a message as persuasively as possible to the God, and was thus often spoken. The idea is not to please, but to request. They make use of the established and just now strengthened kharis to petition the Gods for aid. Where the hymn is an offering to go along with material sacrifice, the prayer is not an offering at all. To soften the request, prayers are often accompanied by the sacrifice--the main event of the rite.

~~~

"Do you think it's "reconstructionist" to honor specific Gods on the solstices and equinoxes? Like during your daily libations? Even though we don't know of any festivals that historically took place on those days, would it be "okay" just to add hymns and libations for certain Gods on those days? Maybe also do some secular seasonal decorating? What do you think?"

A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year (around 21 June and 21 December) as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. An equinox occurs twice a year as well (around 20 March and 22 September), when the plane of the Earth's equator passes the center of the Sun. At this time the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. In essence, during an equinox, the period of time the sun is down (night time) and the sun is up (daytime) is roughly the same. The ancient Hellenes observed these four points in the year, and because of that, the ancient Hellenic calendar is partly solar: the solstices and equinoxes are anchor points for the otherwise lunar calendar.

Depending on the city-state, one of these four points was picked for the start of the new year. Athens and Delphi had the summer solstice, Boeotia had the winter solstice, and Milet started out with the autumnal equinox, but moved the new year to the spring equinox around the end of the 4th century BC. This anchor point was the most important; the rest were used to check the accuracy of the calculations.

Is it reconstructionistic to honor specific Gods on the solstices and equinoxes? That depends on which Gods you honor on the equinoxes and solstices. We know there were festivals celebrated on or around the time of these anchor points:

The Galaxia was closely associated with the Spring/Vernal Equinox.
The Kronia was closely associated with the Summer Solstice.
The Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated around the autumnal Equinox.
The Poseidea was closely associated with the Winter Solstice.

If you want to associate other deities with these dates, feel free, but honestly, with a calendar of roughly 70 festivals throughout the year, I personally do not feel the need to add modern ones.

~~~

"How do you celebrate Noumenia on the night before? The night before is the dark of the moon, in all reality, so shouldn't it be Hene Kai Nea? But Hene Kai Nea is the night/day before the dark of the moon, then Noumenia starts on the night of the dark of the moon and ends the next day. How are we celebrating the first sighting of the moon if we are doing it before the moon ever appears in the sky and we say the day is over before the moon has a chance to appear? That makes no sense to me."

One of the most important and confusing 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. Especially the placement of the days is hard to get right; at least, it was for me.

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 Noumenia is held the day after that, when the moon has become visible again, and Agathós Daímōn the day after that. It is important to note that the ancient Hellens started a new day at sundown the day before. Instead of starting a new day at midnight--or in the morning--like we do today, they started it at sundown of the previous day. This means that--when applied to modern practice--the Deipnon starts on the day of the suspected new moon, and the rest follows after, to the total of four days. Confused yet? How about a schematic. In this example, we'll assume that the sun goes down at six P.M. on all days.

Day 1:
All day - (suspected) new moon
6 P.M. - start of the Deipnon (Deipnon night)

Day 2:
All day - day after the new moon
6 P.M. day 1 to 6 P.M. day 2 - Deipnon (Deipnon day)
6 P.M. - start of the Noumenia (Noumenia night)

Day 3:
All day - second day after the new moon
6 P.M. day 2 to 6 P.M. day 3 - Noumenia (Noumenia day)
6 P.M. - start of  Agathós Daímōn (Agathós Daímōn night)

Day 4:
All day - third day after the new moon
6 P.M. day 3 to 6 P.M. day 4 - Agathós Daímōn (Agathós Daímōn day)

In general, you celebrate the Deipnon at night time on the day of the Deipnon, so after sundown on day one. Many Hellenists spent the day of the Deipnon (day two, until sundown) cleaning and taking out things like the recyclables; getting everything ready for the new month. The Noumenia starts at sundown on day two. Typically the bulk of the Noumenia rituals is done in the daylight hours, so on day three until sundown. Personally, I do a nighttime ritual on day two after sundown for Selene, as She is a moon Goddess and honoring Her when the first sliver of Her becomes visible is important to me. I also honor Her during the daytime on day three. At sundown on day three, Agathós Daímōn starts. The ritual aspects are usually held in the daylight hours, so on day four, until sundown.
I hope this makes it clearer!
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for Mission Blue! Together, they have raised $ 90,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!


The earth's oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, they are the Earth’s largest life support systems. Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe. At any given moment, more than 97% of the world’s water resides in oceans. Oceans provide a sixth of the animal protein people eat. They’re the most promising source of new medicines to combat cancer, pain and bacterial diseases. Living oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change. The diversity and productivity of the world’s oceans is a vital interest for humankind. Our security, our economy, our very survival all require healthy oceans.

Yet, we're systematically destroying them. Pollution, logging, dredging, draining of wetlands, and coastal development are all factors that lead to marine habitat destruction and the death of entire species of marine life. We're reaching a tipping point. Before long, the oceans won't be able to sustain our way of life anymore. Once this happens, the earth's atmosphere will become incapable of sustaining us, and we will all die. This says nothing about the billions of animals dying a year, the tons of junk we drop in the oceans, leading to dead zones where nothing can grow, and on, and on, and on.

Mission Blue hopes to preserve the healthy ocean we have left, and restore dead zones by creating Hope Spots. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

World renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions across the planet. While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than four percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before July 7th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Hekatombaion:

  • 4 Hekatombaion - 28 June 2017 - Aphrodisia - festival of Aphrodite and Peitho (Persuasion), where the temple was purified with dove's blood, the altars cleansed, and the two statues washed
  • 12 Hekatombaion - 6 July 2017 - Kronia - festival in honor of Kronos
  • 16 Hekatombaion - 10 July 2017 - Sunoikia - community festival in Athens. Sacred to Athena. Two-day celebration every other year
  • 21 Hekatombaion - 15 July 2017 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, (Hekate &) Artemis at Erkhia
  • 23 Hekatombaion - 16 July 2017 - The Panathanaia (First day) [nighttime]
  • 30 Hekatombaion - 24 July 2017 - The Panathanaia (Last day)

Anything else?
Mission Blue has become Pandora's Kharis' Skirophorion 2017 cause. The earth's oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, they are the Earth’s largest life support systems. Yet, we're systematically destroying them. Pollution, logging, dredging, draining of wetlands, and coastal development are all factors that lead to marine habitat destruction and the death of entire species of marine life. We're reaching a tipping point. Before long, the oceans won't be able to sustain our way of life anymore. Once this happens, the earth's atmosphere will become incapable of sustaining us, and we will all die. This says nothing about the billions of animals dying a year, the tons of junk we drop in the oceans, leading to dead zones where nothing can grow, and on, and on, and on.

Mission Blue hopes to preserve the healthy ocean we have left, and restore dead zones by creating Hope Spots. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

The deadline to donate is today, June 24, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
June 28, at 10 am EDT, we will hold a rite for Aphrodite Pandamos and Peitho, as on this day, the fourth of Hekatombaion, They were traditionally honored during a festival of unification. Will you join us?


Pandêmos (Πανδημος) occurs as an epithet of Aphrodite. It identifies her as the Goddess of low sensual pleasures, and the epithet is often translated as 'common to all the people'. She united all the inhabitants of a country into one social or political body. In this respect She was worshipped at Athens along with Peitho (persuasion), and Her worship was said to have been instituted by Theseus at the time when he united the scattered townships into one great body of citizens.

According to some authorities, it was Solon who erected the sanctuary of Aphrodite Pandemos, either because her image stood in the agora, or because the hetaerae had to pay the costs of its erection. The worship of Aphrodite Pandemos also occurs at Megalopolis in Arcadia and at Thebes. 'Pandemos' also occurs as a surname of Eros.

Peithô is the personification of persuasion, seduction and charming speech. She was worshipped as a divinity at Sicyon, where she was honoured with a temple in the agora. Peitho also occurs as a surname of other divinities, such as Aphrodite, whose worship was said to have been introduced at Athens by Theseus, when he united the country communities into towns, and of Artemis.

At Athens the statues of Peitho and Aphrodite Pandemos stood closely together, and at Megara, too, the statue of Peitho stood in the temple of Aphrodite, so that the two divinities must he conceived as closely connected, or the one, perhaps, merely as an attribute of the other. For our rite, we will honour both divinities separately.

There is actually not much known about the Aphrodisia. It was most likely linked to the synoikismos, or unification, of the Attic demes into poleis, or city-states. In early Hellas, ancient society was split between the 'demos', country villages, and the 'asty', or 'polis', the seat of the aristocracy. The distinction between the 'polis' and the 'demos' was of great political importance in the ancient states. There was much antagonism between these two bodies, the country and city. In the city-states of ancient Hellas, synoecism occurred when the 'demos' combined with--usually by force--a polis to form one political union. The most notable synoikistes was the mythic or legendary Theseus, who liberated Attica from Kretan hegemony and gave independency back to Hellas under leadership of Athens. Like the Synoikia that was celebrated in a few days--which was a truly political festival and we will thus not celebrate it--the Aphrodisia seems to celebrate Theseus' efforts.

An inscription on a stele of Hymettian marble found near the Beulé Gate at the site of the aedicula on the south-west slope of the Acropolis may tell us something of the preparations for the Aphrodisia festival. Dated between 287 and 283 BC, the inscription records that at the time of the procession of Aphrodite Pandemos, Kallias, son of Lysimachos of the deme of Hermai, was to provide funds for the purification of the temple and the altar with the blood of a dove, for giving a coat of pitch to the roof, for the washing of the statues, and for a purple cloak for the amount of two drachmas.

From this and other ancient sources, we can conclude that the first ritual of the festival would be to purify the temple with the blood from a dove, which we know is the sacred bird of Aphrodite. Needless to say, we won't do this, but we do encourage you to give your altar a good scrub! Afterwards, worshippers would carry sacred images of Aphrodite and Peitho in a procession to the sea to be washed. In Cyprus, participants who were initiated into the Mysteries of Aphrodite were offered salt, a representation of Aphrodite's connection to the sea, and bread baked in the shape of a phallus (feel free to make some of those!). During the festival it was not permitted to make bloody sacrifices, since the altar could not be polluted with the blood of the sacrifice victims, which were usually white male goats. This of course excludes the blood of the sacred dove, made at the beginning of the ritual to purify the altar. In addition to live male goats, worshippers would offer flowers and incense.

As a celebration of the unfication of Attica, the Aphrodisia festival may seem redundant, since the Synoikia festival also took place in the month of Hekatombaion, between the Aphrodisia and the Panathenaia. Yet, without help of Aphrodite Pandemos and Peitho, whose powers bring people together, unification would not have been possible. While the Synoikia celebrates a very specific event that is no longer current, the Aphrodisia celebrates not only Aphrodite (and Peitho) as divine, but also represents the beauty of community, solidarity, and the end of strive. In this day and age where it seems the entire world is at war, we offer sacrifice to Aphrodite and Peitho humbly in hopes that They will interfere and lay to rest this terrible animosity.

Will you be joining us on June 28? Join the community here, and download the ritual here.

The Museo del Prado, with the collaboration of Fundación Iberdrola España, a Benefactor of the Museum’s Restoration Programme, has restored the monumental bronze head from its permanent collection and has identified the subject as Demetrius I, a Hellenistic general and king. The sculpture is one of only a very few known surviving Hellenistic bronzes, dating from around 307 BC and an exceptional example due to its size and quality. It measures 45 cm high and would probably have belonged to a monumental statue of approximately 3.5 meters high. It is now on display for the first time since its recent restoration. This reports the Archaeological News Network.


Prior to restoration the physical state of the head of Demetrius Poliorcetes revealed its long and eventful history over the centuries as well as the signs of numerous previous restorations. In order to preserve it in the past the original surface of the work had been covered with layers of adhesives, polishes and paint.

Technical studies undertaken prior to embarking on the head’s restoration revealed important information on the casting process and on the history of this portrait. They also indicated problems of stability of both the metal in itself and the structure, information essential for establishing the aims of the restoration process and the most appropriate treatments to be employed.

The key aims of this project have been to recover the sculpture’s original surface and colour in order to make it more visually legible; stabilize and protect the materials of which it is made, particularly the bronze; and reinforce the internal structure in order to avoid structural tensions such as the ones that produced the cracks, through the design of a stable and resistant support that does not cover areas of the original surface.

The restoration process consisted of removing the resins, adhesives, protective layers and polishes applied to the surface of the bronze in the past; the correct repositioning of various fragments that had been incorrectly reattached; and the design of new and reversible supports in specific areas.

Following the work’s restoration and in order to ensure its future conservation a special support was designed, lined with buffering material and functioning to distribute the sculpture’s weight across it, thus avoiding pressure points where the work rests on it. In addition, a platform was designed with concealed handles that can be pulled out and used to move the sculpture in a safe manner without any need to touch it directly.

Identifying the work’s subject was a complex undertaking as it has no distinctive attributes or features that clearly correspond to those of a portrait. The head’s ambiguous typology varies depending on whether it is seen from the front or in profile. The frontal view corresponds to the ideal typology found in Greek art for depictions of gods and heroes, such as those created by the Greek sculptor Scopas around 340 BC. In contrast, profile views of the head reveal features characteristic of a portrait; a bulging, muscular forehead, relatively sunken eyes, an oblong face and a slightly open mouth.

Alexander the Great, who was represented as a god and a hero, was the first to employ this type of portrait, which was subsequently imitated by the generals known as the Diadochi who succeeded him. A marble portrait found with other portraits of Hellenistic rulers in the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum and which has been interpreted as a portrait of Demetrius Poliorcetes, has the same type of monumental head as the Prado example, with a similar hairstyle and the same features, also found in another marble portrait in Copenhagen.

Following the death of Alexander in 323 BC, the diadem, a band tied round the brow to signify absolute power over Asia, became the most important emblem of the Hellenistic kings. This diadem, however, is not to be found on the present portrait of Demetrius Poliorcetes or on other similar ones. In the present day this absence complicates any identification of portraits of the Diadochi. It is possible that after the death of Alexander none of them dared to have themselves depicted in a way that resembled him.

In 307 BC, Antigonus I and his son Demetrius I, the latter aged around 30, were proclaimed kings by the Athenians, but according to the Greek writer Plutarch both avoided using the name of king as it was the only royal attribute exclusively reserved for descendants of Philip and Alexander. A year later, in 306 BC, when Demetrius Poliorcetes defeated the fleet of the Diadoch Ptolemy (367 – 283 BC) off Cyprus, the assembly of the army in Macedonia declared Antigonus I and his son Demetrius kings of Asia and sent them the diadem as successors of Alexander. In that case, the absence of a diadem on the present work suggests that the Prado bronze was created prior to that event, in 307 BC, when Demetrius Poliorcetes and his father Antigonus I were kings of Athens.
...well, I will be. Reebok Spartan Races have finally made it to The Netherlands, and I registered to do a Spartan Sprint. Since I haven't done an obstacle course before, I figured I'd best start "easy": 5 km (3 miles) running punctuated with twenty obstacles ranging anywhere from scaling walls, crawling under barbed wire, climbing ropes, hauling, dragging or carrying heavy weights, swimming in mud, and jumping over fire.


Spartan races are increasing in popularity in terms of events (170 in 25 countries this year) and participants (1 million last year) of all skill levels. In addition to the US races it designs and organizes, Spartan will usually license its international races. Those non-US Spartan races adhere to the company's brand, product and safety guidelines, and the company provides oversight, guidance and support.

Of course, the historic Spartans are primarily known for their military strength and discipline. Spartan boys were raised to be soldiers and toughened by deprivation of basic needs. The ultimate disgrace for a Spartan was surrender, a philosophy that endures today among those who compete in Spartan races. As a throwback to ancient Hellas, an announcer traditionally asks the crowd, "Who am I?" at the start of each race. The yelled response is "I am Spartan!" followed by the war cry "AROO! AROO! AROO!"

For some people, Running Spartans is a career. Winning enough of these events--especially when you add the financial rewards of sponsorship deals etc.--can land elite racers a hefty sum. I'm not in it for that. I am in it to see if I have what it takes to go through an ordeal like this. And yes, it's devotional for me too.

Traditionally speaking, dedicating activity is not a way to honor the Gods. After all, it does not relate to Them directly, does not strengthen our bond with Them and They get nothing out of it. If I run and complete a Spartan, it's not going to establish kharis. But Hellenismos is a religion of Gods and ethics. Both matter and they strengthen each other. We are called by the Theoi to practice arete, the act of living up to one's full potential. The term arete was applied to anything and anyone superior. It is linked to knowledge and wisdom as well as physical beauty. It could even be applied to an exceptionally well crafted vase, the person who made it or even the seller, who sold it for more than it was worth. Needless to say it is also applied to those who live an ethical life.

Living up to arête is not easy: it challenges up to be our best mentally, physically, and spiritually. It means taking control of our life, to become an active participant in it. To keep trying to reach your goals, no matter what setbacks you suffer. That is the exact spirit of a Spartan race: to overcome literal obstacles that might seem beyond your ability to overcome.

I beast it out in the gym, on a bike or pounding the pavement almost every day, in order to be the best physical version of myself I can be. And I will definitely be calling on the Gods before my run, as well as send Them praise once I have completed the race--because I will finish the race, no matter what. That's the Spartan way, after all.
As Hellenists, we often accept the Gods of our pantheon as a solid block, handed down through the ages as a package deal that magically came into being at the start of the Hellenistic era and did not change during it. Nothing could be father from the truth. Many, if not all members of the Hellenic pantheon were imported into it from other places or the remnants of older religions. Zeus is the Greek continuation of '*Di̯ēus', the name of the Proto-Indo-European God of the daytime sky, Hera most likely already existed for the pre-Hellenic people who moved into the area. Archaeologists suspect that Athena, Médousa and Poseidon found their origins in Libya. They came to Hellas through Crete at the dawn of Hellas. In the beginning of Her rein, Athena may have been a snake and fertility Goddess and Poseidon solely a God of horses. Aphrodite's oldest non-Greek temple lay in the Syrian city of Ascalon where she was known as Ourania, an obvious reference to Astarte. Hekate's worship most likely originated in Thrake. I really could go on and on and on.

The process by which elements of one religion are assimilated into another religion resulting in a change in the fundamental tenets or nature of those religions is called syncretism. The ancient Hellenes practiced syncretism in two ways. The first is a straight-up adoption of a deity into the pantheon by way of mythology. Dionysos is a good example. He may have been worshipped as early as 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks, but traces of Dionysian-type cult have also been found in ancient Minoan Krete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thrakian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner, and in some, he was simply born into the pantheon as a "late addition".

This form is what is termed "interpretatio graeca", the Hellenic habit of identifying Gods of disparate mythologies with their own. When the proto-Greeks first arrived in the Aegean and on the mainland of modern-day Greece early in the 2nd millennium BCE, they found localized nymphs and divinities already connected with every important feature of the landscape: mountain, cave, grove and spring all had their own locally venerated deity. The countless epithets of the Olympian Gods reflect their syncretic identification with these various figures. Interpretatio graeca was practiced outside of Central Hellas at a very large scale in the Archaic period.

Very roughly speaking, the reign of ancient Hellas can be divided into the periods: The Archaic period (800 BC - 480 BC), the Classical period (480 BC - 323 BC) and the Hellenistic period (323 BC - 146 BC). Before the Archaic period, there was no Hellas. As the Mycenaean civilization fell, it signaled the end of the Dark Ages. The founders of ancient Hellas founded their own script, based off of the Phoenician alphabet and small social hubs began to emerge. Because the land they lived on was divided into islands, or intercut with mountains, many of these hubs were self-governed. Many wars were fought over the next 300 years or so, as the cities Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes tried to expand their land, work force and supply of raw materials. For the Hellenic religion, this age was a formative age. The various tribes of the Dark Ages brought their Gods with them as they traveled the land and settled in different places. Various Gods with overlapping domains were worshipped in different parts of the region, forming a cohesive but unstructured whole. There are varying incarnations of Gods and Goddesses and their abilities and strength vary greatly across the land.

The Classical period is the best know period. The Classical period was the foundation of modern Western politics, architecture, scientific thought, literature, and philosophy. It was also the age of Athens; most of what we still know about ancient Hellas comes from records from this city who was at its greatest during the two centuries of the Classical period. This was also the Age of the Olympians. Many of the old Gods got merged into single personas with different epithets to accommodate local worship. This more unified faith was introduced to many of the city states and although it was never a unified whole, this was the closest the ancient Hellenic religion ever got to being a solidified faith.

The Classical period was also the time of the Decree of Diopeithes. Diopeithes (Διoπείθης) was an Athenian general who lived during the 4th century BC. Having gone through the horror of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians, as Thucydides puts, “decided to enjoy their lives as fast as possible, giving in to pleasures, for they were convinced that life and wealth were equally short-termed. […] They believed that there is no difference between piety and impiety […] because no one believed they’d survive, and thus, the time to answer and get punished for their crimes would never come.” It was the rapid spread of immorality and uncivilized behavior that led the Athenians in 431 BCE to casting their vote for the Decree which made asebeia (impiety) illegal.

If anyone disrespected the Gods of the polis, the Decree of Diopeithes would be applied and the individual prosecuted. This is exactly what happened to Socrates: although he was deeply religious, he was sentenced for impiety and executed in 399. Next to impiety becoming a punishable offense, it became illegal to worship any Gods outside of the established pantheon. Exceptions were sometimes made, but there were a lot of hoops one had to jump through to get the building of a temple approved--especially in Athens. In the case of Thrakian Goddess Bendis, it took the decree of the oracle of Dodona to grant land for a shrine or temple in the Attic region. Although Thrakian and Athenian processions remained separate in the city, both cult and festival became so popular that in Plato's time (429-413 BCE) its festivities were naturalized as an official ceremonial of the city-state, called the Bendideia was introduced.On the fringes of the Hellenic nation syncretism was still practiced.

At the start of the Hellenic period, ancient Hellas was at its largest. Alexander the Great had conquered lands as far as Asia Minor, Assyria, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Media, Persia, and parts of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the steppes of central Asia. After Alexander the Great died, there was no logical successor. He left his empire to 'the strongest' and thus his generals fought a forty year battle which resulted in four major domains. Next to those four, much of mainland Hellas and the Hellenic islands remained at least nominally independent, although often dominated by Macedon. The four domains, called dynasties, were:

The Antigonid dynasty in Macedon and central Hellas;
The Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt based at Alexandria;
The Seleucid dynasty in Syria and Mesopotamia based at Antioch;
The Attalid dynasty in Anatolia based at Pergam.

The divide of the rule of Hellas into four dynasties led to a second form of syncretism: one which showed syncretist features, essentially blending Mesopotamian, Persian, Anatolian, Egyptian (and eventually Etruscan–Roman) elements within an Hellenic formula. The Hellenic Gods continued to be worshiped, and the same rites were practiced as before. Athens, Sparta and most cities in the Greek mainland did not see much religious change or new Gods (with the exception of the Egyptian Isis in Athens), while the multi-ethnic Alexandria had a very varied group of Gods and religious practices. Wherever the ancient Hellenes went, they brought their religion, even as far as India and Afghanistan. Non-Hellenes brought Egyptian, Jewish, and a great variety of local Gods into the pantheon. A common practice was to identify Hellenic Gods with native Gods that had similar characteristics and this created new fusions like Zeus-Ammon, Aphrodite Hagne (a Hellenized Atargatis) and Isis-Demeter.

To summarize, during the formative age of the Hellenic state, many local cults were absorbed into a pantheon that solidified into the whole we are so familiar with. This pantheon was protected, especially at the heart of the nation, by decree of lawmakers, but once the Hellenic nation became too large to sustain itself and fell apart, the religion became adaptive. Wherever the ancient Hellenes lived, they saw their Gods in the local cults and thus they adopted Them when they were in great enough numbers to do so.

Syncretism is practiced to this day. Many modern worshippers are drawn to Gods outside of the  pantheon formed in Classical Hellas. In general, the rule of thumb to practice syncretism in a Hellenic fashion is to identify which Hellenic deity the external deity is closest to, to maintain the base Hellenic style of worship for this deity (Ouranic or Khthonic, for example, and by way of the usual steps to proper worship through procession, purification, hymns and prayers, and sacrifice), and then to add elements of the worship of the external deity into that practice. What these are will depend heavily upon the external deity and Their pantheon of origins, so I can't give advice on that. Syncretic practice requires a lot of trial and error to find a blend that respects both Gods and both Their cultures. This is why it's essential to link the external deity to a Hellenic one: it'll allow you to focus the worship by way of domain and/or mythology.
It's about time for another installment of the 'Beginner's guide to Hellenismos', and this time I would like to not so much address a new topic as revisit one. This post about daímones in Hellenismos will replace the old one in the guide.

The word 'daímones' ((δαίμονες)has its etymological origins in the word 'daiō' (δαίω) which means 'to divide', 'to distribute destinies', 'to allot'. For the Minoan (3000 - 1100 BC) and Mycenaean (1500 - 1100 BC), the daímones were seen as attendants or servants to the deities, possessing spiritual power. Later, the term 'daímon' was used by writers such as Hómēros (8th century BC) to describe an incorporial benevolent or benign nature spirit which provides wealth and justice to mortals.

Hesiod gives us our first glimpse into the nature of daímones as he writes about the five Ages of Man in Works and Days. In this standard work, he writes about the golden age of mortals, created by the Theoi when Kronos was still leader of the Gods. There humans lived like Gods, without sorrow and grief. They had all they desired and lived the perfect, ethical life. They died as if falling asleep and knew no pain. These mortals were called pure spirits. Even after this generation of mortal men ended, they continued to roam everywhere over the earth, clothed in mist and keep watch on judgements and cruel deeds. They became givers of wealth because that is what they knew in life and are considered guardians of mortal men. These are the daímones khryseoi: 'golden spirits'.

According to some ancient writers, the spirits of the Silver Age also became daímones: the daímones agryreoi. They were described as earth-dwelling fertility spirits who proffered mankind with rich harvests. They were inferior to the Daimones Khryseoi. The former resided within the earth, while the latter occupied the air.

Hesiod makes clear distinction between the Theoi and the daímones: the Theoi are Gods, the daímones are members of the Gold (and Silver) Age who gained immortality. This differentiation is much less pronounced in the writings of Hómēros, where 'Theos' and 'daímon' are used virtually interchangeably. Especially through Neo-Platonics, comes the placement of daímones between the Theoi and mankind. Daímones are less powerful than the Olympic Gods, with lesser domains; more concerned with the daily happenings of life than the Olympians are, but they, too, are immortal, and deserve honors. Socrates even went so far as to say that a daimon is a personal guardian spirit or the personification of a person's conscience.

Daímones are an important part of Hellenismos, but because they are so intangible--both in substance and intellectual pursuit--they seem hard to incorporate. Sorting out the confusion can be done by saying that what defines a daímones is a divine spark--and everything has a divine spark. Clearly, the Gods have a divine spark--They exist solely of it. This is why the terms "daímones" and "God" can be used synonymously. Beings born of a God and a human have a clear divine spark too--these are the heroes, but also nymphs and so called "minor" Gods. Humans also possess a spark of the divine, but we are not divine ourselves. As such, the spark is separate from us: Socrates' idea of a personal daímones that "speaks" to us. What lingers of us after death, the part of us that remains in stories and proper ancestral worship is also divine. As such, the dead are daímones too. Animals and plants, in Hellenismos and ancient Hellenes thought were not divine and did not qualify for the status of daímones.

If one wants to honor the daímones, one needs to look at them not as "daímones"--so in essence "divine"--but as what They actually are, be it Gods, heroes, ancestors, nature spirits, or even your own conscience. All have their own rituals, sacrifices, festival days and particulars to remember when it comes to worship. Consider "daímones" a category in which many types of beings fall. It's a muddled term and one that is best to avoid. Focus on the beings Themselves and honor Them as one should. It'll take the confusion out of it.

Having said that, that leaves one complication: Agathós Daímōn. On the second day of the new Hellenistic month, we give sacrifice to (the) Agathós Daímōn (ἀγαθός δαίμων, Good Spirit). It's an important practice, and the mythology, application and existence of the Agathós Daímōn is muddled. The Agathós Daímōn is a God, married to the Theia Agathe Tyche (Ἀγαθή Τύχη, 'Good Fortune'). It is also an epithet of Zeus, or linked to Zeus Kthesios and/or Zeus Melichios.

The Agathós Daímōn was always a positive in one's life, and was generally seen as the source of personal or familial good fortune. Libations of (unmixed) wine were given to Him with each newly opened case of wine, and during feasts and symposium, Agathós Daímōn received the first libation. When crossing a snake on the road, it was also customary to pour out a libation, just in case it was a herald of Agathós Daímōn, or Agathós Daímōn Himself as He was often seen as a snake.

Agathós Daímōn as the serpent household daímones who brings good fortune, honor and wealth to the oikos, was and is honor, as said, on the second day of the month. He receives libations of unmixed wine and can be asked to watch over the family, to keep honor in the family line, and to let the family name be forever remembered through the deeds of all who carried the name--yours included. One may also draft and read out a list of events and goals for the new month to the daímones, so He may help you achieve it.
The J. Paul Getty Museum has announced the voluntary return of a marble statuette representing Zeus which dates to about 100 B.C. The Museum made its decision to return the Statue of Zeus Enthroned, a 29-inch high marble statuette, following thorough consideration of information provided by Italian officials, including a recently discovered fragment of the statue.


The sculpture may originally have served as a cult statue in a private shrine of a wealthy Greek or Roman home. It appears to have spent a long period of time submerged in the sea and is partly covered in heavy marine incrustations. The Museum acquired the sculpture in 1992. Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, stated:

“The Getty values greatly its relationships with Italian colleagues in museums and other cultural sectors. The decision to return this object continues our practice of working with the Ministry to resolve issues of provenance and ownership of works in our collection in a way that responds to new information as it emerges, and respects the good faith and cultural missions of both parties.”

The ancient sculpture was returned to Italian authorities today at the Getty Center under the supervision of the Italian Consul General for Los Angeles, Antonio Verde, and with the invaluable cooperation of Armando Varricchio, Italy’s Ambassador to the United States.

“The return of the Statue of Zeus Enthroned is a vivid demonstration of the superb cooperation between the United States and Italy and our cultural institutions. It falls within the framework of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and the US, renewed in 2016 for the third time, and underscores our common unwavering commitment to the protection of cultural heritage.”

Consul General Verde complimented the Getty’s decision to return the object, saying:

“It is wonderful that the Getty has such a positive working relationship with Italy, both for issues like this one that involve the repatriation of works of art and for special exhibitions and loans which display Italian masterpieces at the Museum.”

This repatriation follows in the wake of a more controversial one: back in May, the United States returned stolen artifacts worth at least $90,000, dating back as far as the 8th century BC but looted and trafficked overseas, to Italy. The items include a Sardinian bronze ox and Sardinian bronze warrior from the 8th century BC, a Greek bronze Herakles from the 3rd or 4th century BC and a 4th-century BC drinking cup depicting two goats butting heads. There was also a wine jug decorated with rams and panthers dated 650 BC, a 340 BC oil flask depicting a man holding a plate of fruit and a similar flask decorated with a man holding a lyre, dating back to 430 BC.

Six of the items were seized from a Manhattan gallery in April as part of an ongoing investigation into international antiquities trafficking. The seventh object was seized from a different gallery in another part of Midtown Manhattan, US officials said.The antiquities were stolen in the 1990s from burial sites and places of archaeological significance in Italy before they were smuggled overseas.
I am very proud to announce that Mission Blue has become Pandora's Kharis' Thargelion 2017 cause!


The earth's oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, they are the Earth’s largest life support systems. Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe. At any given moment, more than 97% of the world’s water resides in oceans. Oceans provide a sixth of the animal protein people eat. They’re the most promising source of new medicines to combat cancer, pain and bacterial diseases. Living oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change. The diversity and productivity of the world’s oceans is a vital interest for humankind. Our security, our economy, our very survival all require healthy oceans.

Yet, we're systematically destroying them. Pollution, logging, dredging, draining of wetlands, and coastal development are all factors that lead to marine habitat destruction and the death of entire species of marine life. We're reaching a tipping point. Before long, the oceans won't be able to sustain our way of life anymore. Once this happens, the earth's atmosphere will become incapable of sustaining us, and we will all die. This says nothing about the billions of animals dying a year, the tons of junk we drop in the oceans, leading to dead zones where nothing can grow, and on, and on, and on.

Mission Blue hopes to preserve the healthy ocean we have left, and restore dead zones by creating Hope Spots. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

World renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions across the planet. While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than four percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope.

The deadline to donate is June 23th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!
Zagreus, the "first-born Dionysos," is a son of Zeus and Persephone who had been seduced by Zeus in the guise of a serpent. Zeus placed Zagreus upon the throne of heaven and armed Him with his lightning bolts, but Hera got jealous and had the Titanes dismember (and in some versions eat) Him. Zeus recovered only His heart and crafted it into a potion for Semele to ingest and thus give birth to Him as a reincarnation of the first. This myth seems to date back to a time before the version (of the birth) of Dionysos we have accepted into the general mythology of Hellenismos.

The idea of reincarnation probably dates back to the Iron Age (so around 1200 BC.). It enters the Hellenic stream of thought and philosophy around the 6th century BC, although there is mention of the theoretical subject in pre-Socratic philosophy. The ancient Hellenes most likely did not use the word 'reincarnation'; 'Metempsychosis' (μετεμψύχωσις) is a better word for the phenomenon they believed in. It is a philosophical term in the Hellenic language which refers to the transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. The notion that the human soul enters another body upon death 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. Reincarnation in the form of transmigration was also a major feature of Orphism, and entirely unsurprisingly Zagreus featured heavily in Orphic mythology.

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. This is why their followers wore white, avoided places of death an birth (which are traditionally considered miasmic), and were vegetarians. Zagreus fits in perfectly with this philosophical concept.

So why Dionysos in the form of Zagreus? And why reincarnation? Zagreus was a Year-Daímōn, and reincarnation, as it appears, is the natural cycle of the world. The Year-Daímōn is a title given to any Theos or hero, whose death and rebirth are tied to the turning of the seasons. These scapegoats 'die' with the old year and are 'reborn' with the new year, setting in motion a cycle of renewal for the plant life that forms the basis of the Hellenic food supply. Dionysos is the prime Eniautos-daímōn, but Theseus, Herakles, Apollon, Odysseus, and Orpheus qualify as well, as They are--in some way--linked closely to death and rebirth, either from visiting the Underworld and leaving it, or experiencing a 'second birth' of sorts.

In this version of the myth, Dionysos is twice-born, hence his epithet 'Dimêtôr' (Διμητωρ, Of Two Mothers). Dionysos was considered a fertility God, but also closely related to nature's eternal cycle of birth and death. The ancient Hellenes considered the moment a plant--especially the grape--began to grow for the first time after being planted its first birth, and counted its second birth when it became laden with ripened fruit. As Dionysos is so closely related to to the grape vine, it was Dionysos Himself that was considered being born once from the earth and again from the vine.

Dionysos' cult focused heavily on this part of His mythology, and none more so than the Orphics. This earlier myth of His birth reaches back to  much older--possibly pre-Hellenic--'primitive' tribes which worshipped Dionysos or a God similar to Him with animal and human sacrifices which were torn apart, either before they were killed, or as a means to kill them. Most likely, these were the Thrakians. The God worshipped this way was also a God of life and death, and these sacrifices were conducted to ensure a good harvest in the coming year. This may also explain one of the retellings of the birth of Dionysos where He was torn apart by Titans.

How involved the worship of the Eniautos-Daímōn was, or how far-spread it was, is unclear. I suspect highly that the Orphic mythology and practice was focused on it, and while Orphism was a small mystery cult, it was widespread and even more widely known. Zagreus is one of Dionysos' wildest, most primal epithets and it underlay all believes about Him. It's an aspect of Him that bled into and out of Orphism and out of and into general worship. The two fed on each other, mixed and reformed--much like Dionysos Himself. Zagreus is a critical aspect of Dionysos to understand and yet, one that is most difficult to grasp. Perhaps this post has given you a glimpse. 
Today, I would like to announce the last PAT ritual for Skirophorion, the Diisoteria. It will be held on 24 June, 10 am EDT--our usual time--and we would like you to join us in honoring Zeus, Athena, Asklēpiós, and Hygeia.


The Diisoteria was held on the last day of Skirophorion in the Piraeus, the ancient port of Athens. Fourth century accounts show that a large number of bulls were sacrificed at the festival. The sum set aside for the sacrifice in 323 BC is reported as either 50 talents or 30 talents but neither figure can be regarded as wholly realistic since Demosthenes, who was put in charge of the sacrifice for that year, was expected to pay the bulk of an outstanding fine from the money allocated. It was presided over by the archon.

The sacrifice was performed to mark the end of the old year and beginning of the new. It was held in honor of Zeus Soter and Athene Soteira, as well as Asklēpiós and Hygeia. The purpose of the sacrifice was to place the state under the protection of the God and Goddess during the upcoming year.

Will you join us in this PAT ritual to reign in the new year? You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
A new project, led by University of Arizona associate professor Eleni Hasaki, aims to map these critical centers of ceramics production across nearly 5,000 years of Greek history in a first-of-its-kind online database, designed to support archaeologists working in Greece today. This reports Phys.org.


The idea for the database grew from Hasaki's dissertation on ceramic kilns—the ovens used to fire pottery—in ancient Greece. As part of her work, Hasaki sifted through stacks of hard-copy archaeological reports in Greek, which were not available online, and traveled to Greece to collect information about kiln excavations that had not yet been formally published. The resulting lengthy list of 450 kilns made Hasaki think there should be an easier way for archaeologists and scholars like herself to access information about these sites, and so the idea for a searchable database was born. Hasaki, who also co-directs the UA's Laboratory for Traditional Technology, which focuses on the study of traditional technologies such as ceramics, stated:
  
"My major hope for the online database is that it will help archaeologists on the ground who uncover kiln sites to quickly find similar cases in the same region or of the same period or of the same type, without having to wait for the final publication of a kiln site, often several years after its discovery. Then they can complete their own reports much faster."

The Web Atlas of Ceramic Kilns in Ancient Greece maps 600 kiln locations. Credit: University of Arizona Hasaki teamed up with Greek archaeologist Konstantinos T. Raptis, an expert on Roman and Byzantine kilns, to compile information on kiln locations. They created a site site with technical support from UA classics alumna Lauren Alberti, UA professor of geography and regional development Gary Christopherson, and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences tech employees Tawny Lochner and Lizeth Mora.

The Web Atlas of Ceramic Kilns in Ancient Greece includes information on 600 Greek kiln locations, dating between 3000 B.C. and A.D. 1820. Each uncovered kiln represents the location of a ceramics workshop. Archaeologists can now search the database, narrowing results by criteria such as geographical area, time period, kiln type and size. Each record contains additional information about the kiln site, as well as bibliographical references. The hope, Hasaki said, is that archaeologists will use the online submission form to update the database with new discoveries of kilns sites, making the information available to colleagues faster.

"I hope the database will be a two-way street. I have put out what I have collected so far, but there are also sites I don't know about, and so I have a separate area in the database where the archaeologists themselves can make a submission to help themselves and others."

Ceramic production in ancient hellas was a labor intensive, male-dominated family business, with fathers typically handing workshops down to their sons or sons-in-law. Each workshop typically had one or two kilns, and although they came in different shapes and sizes, the most common type across all time periods and regions was the round, clay variety, measuring 1 to 1 1/2 meters in diameter. Hellenic potters conducted business with low-risk investment strategies and no long-term stockpiling; the kiln capacity was optimally designed both to bring profit from successful firings and to help the workshop recover quickly from unsuccessful ones. For archaeologists, kilns can provide information about the local production, in terms of clay recipes, shapes, styles of decoration and scale of operation. The ceramics found in association with a kiln can help date the kiln, but in other cases, Hasaki said, an empty kiln can be sampled and dated through archaeomagnetism, a method for dating burnt archaeological materials.

In her own research, Hasaki has published articles on kilns that fired utilitarian wares, on archaeomagnetic dating of ancient kilns and on preservation of kiln sites under modern residences. She also has built and fired an experimental replica of a Greek kiln in Tucson, testing hypotheses of kiln design and operation. Her work highlights the richness of kiln studies and the critical importance of ceramics in Greek communities.

"Every household would need utensils and containers, and almost all of them would be out of clay. Whether you had to store your olive oil to cook your food or needed a place to put your perfumes or wanted to decorate with something pretty, you would have to go to a workshop. If you had to go to a sanctuary to thank the gods for something, or to ask for help, you would bring a ceramic item. If you wanted to put a roof over your head, you would need roof tiles. For civic projects to do sewers, they would need terracotta pipes, so everyone relied on ceramic works. You couldn't have a city, town or village without some kind of local potter."

Many of the kilns on the database's map—which was created using Google Maps—were uncovered during residential or road construction and have been lost to development, making it even more important to have an easily accessible record of their existence. Hasaki said the database serves as a jumping-off point for researchers to answer larger questions about ceramics production in Greece across five millennia.

"It's more than just a map with spots. If you keep going through more complex questions, people who study craft production in an area have the exact locations of kilns, and they can ask questions about craft production and even about scale of economy or scale of trade. It starts as a little dot but then goes very quickly to the bigger picture."
I try to let inspiration for the blog come to me. Sometimes nothing comes, sometimes I get drawn to an idea, and sometimes to a God. Today is one of the latter. Today I got the sense I should write about Poseidon. Poseidon is the God of the Mediterranean seas, who can strike down His trident and create fresh water springs, or disastrous earthquakes. He is also the Lord of horses, presumably because of the foamy waves rising up like a herd of horses before crashing on the shore. He has made His home underwater, with his wife Amphitrite and other water creatures, many of which immortal. He's a powerful God, one of three brothers who rule the sky, the sea and the underworld.

Claudius Aelianus (Κλαύδιος Αἰλιανός), commonly called Aelian, was born at Praeneste around 175 AD. He was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric who spoke Greek so perfectly that he was called "honey-tongued" (meliglossos). He preferred Greek authors, and wrote in a slightly archaizing Greek himself. "On the Nature of Animals" (Περὶ Ζῴων Ἰδιότητος) is a collection of seventeen books. All contain brief stories of natural history, sometimes selected with an eye to conveying allegorical moral lessons, sometimes because they are just so astonishing. He also quotes other authors and in the collection, he quotes a hymn to Poseidon I'd like to share with you today. It was originally written by Arion, son of Cycleus, it seems. He wrote the poem in thanks to Poseidon for saving his life. He focusses on dolphins. It goes as follows and probably stems from the fifth century BC:


"Highest of the Gods, Lord of the sea, Poseidon of the golden trident, earth-shaker in the swelling brine, around thee the finny monsters in a ring swim and dance, with nimble flingings of their feet leaping lightly, snub-nosed hounds with bristling neck, swift runners, music-loving dolphins, sea-nurslings of the Nereid maids divine, whom Amphitrite bore, even they that carried me, a wanderer on the Sicilian mean, to the headland of Taenarum in Pelops' land, mounting meupon their humped backs as they clove the furrow of Nereus' plain, a path untrodden, when deceitful men had cast me from their sea-faring hollow ship into the purple swell of ocean."
I have very little time today, so I am going to leave you with the content of an article I found recently, posted on ThoughtCo. It's entitled "Comparing and Contrasting Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome," and the article does just that. For the full article, visit ThoughtCo.


Difference one: art
Much art we think of as Hellenic is actually a Roman copy of a Hellenic original. Hellenic sculptors set out to produce an ideal artistic form, whereas the goal of Roman artists was to produce realistic portraits, often for decoration (simplified, of course).

Difference two: economy
Both cultures were based on agriculture. The ancient Hellenes ideally lived on small self-sufficient wheat-producing farms, but bad agricultural practices made many households incapable of feeding themselves. Big estates took over, producing wine and olive oil, which were also the chief exports of the Romans. The Romans, who imported their wheat and annexed provinces that could provide them with this all-important staple, also farmed, but they also engaged in trade. It is thought that the Greeks considered trade degrading. Both Hellas and Rome worked mines. While Hellas also had slaves, the economy of Rome was dependent on slave labor from the expansion until the late Empire.

Difference three: social Class
The social classes of Greece and Rome changed over time, but the basic divisions of early Athens and Rome consisted of free and freedmen, slaves, foreigners, and women. Only in ancient Hellas were women eligible for a position as citizen, however.

Difference four: role of women
In Athens, according to the literature of stereotypes, women were valued for abstaining from gossip, for managing the household, and, most of all, for producing legitimate children. The aristocratic woman was secluded in the women's quarter and had to be accompanied in public places. She could own, but not sell her property. The Athenian woman was subject to her father, and even after marriage, he could ask for her return.

The Roman woman was legally subject to the pater familias, whether the dominant male in her household of birth or the household of her husband. She could own and dispose of property and go about as she wished. From epigraphy, we read that a Roman woman was valued for piety, modesty, maintenance of harmony, and being a one-man woman.

Difference five: fatherhood
In both cultures the father of the family was dominant and could decide whether or not to keep a newborn child. In the Hellenic family, sons could legally challenge the competence of their fathers. In Rome, the paterfamilias was the Roman head of the household. Adult sons with families of their own were still subject to their own father if he was the paterfamilias.

Difference six: government
Originally, kings ruled Athens; then an oligarchy (rule by the few), and then democracy (voting by the citizens). City-states joined together to form leagues that came into conflict, weakening Greece and leading to its conquest by the Macedonian kings and later, the Roman Empire. Kings also originally governed Rome. Then Rome, observing what was happening elsewhere in the world, eliminated them. It established a mixed Republican form of government, combining elements of democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy, In time, rule by one returned to Rome, but in a new, initially, constitutionally sanctioned form that we know as Roman emperors. The Roman Empire split apart, and, in the West, eventually reverted to small kingdoms.
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 was wondering if you could speak about how Hellenic Reconstructionists handle ancestor worship. I've heard that one should have a shrine to the ancestors were prayers and offerings should be made daily and there are others who say you should never give offerings to the dead in the home. Most of the sources I've read just vaguely say the Hellens just "honored the dead". Thank you so much for sharing your path!"

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.

Archeological evidence suggests that hero worship was closer to khthonic sacrifice in execution than ouranic ones the further back in time you go; especially in the archaic period, it seems that hero worship consisted of destructive sacrifices--sometimes in the form of a holókaustos where the entire animal was burned, sometimes in a sacrifice where only a part (most often 'a ninth' of the animal) was burned and the rest remained on the altar for the heroes to eat from until gone. The sacrifices were generally burned in an offering pit known as a bothros. The food offered to heroes consisted of meat, blood, and 'food eaten by men' like grains, fruits and other every-day dishes. These were usually offered to the heroes on a table--known as a trapeza--and the heroes were sometimes offered chairs or a bench to sit on. As time went on, the living began to eat part of the meal laid out for the heroes, joining them in celebration.

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 honor 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 honor 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 sacrifices were generally wholly given as well and could either be an animal or, more commonly, unmixed wine.

~~~

"I started practicing Hellenism just a few days ago, but there's one problem: I've got to keep my worship a secret, which means that I can't pray to the Gods loudly. Will I catch Their attention even if the tone of my voice is softer during prayer?"

Hellenic prayer and hymn-singing is not a private thing; unlike the Christian type of praying we are used to today--a praying that is intimate, calm, and very much private--the Hellenic form of praying did and does everything it can to draw attention to itself as a public display. It is a form of heightened expression which claims the attention of a God. Hymns are a means to get a divine spotlight upon you, because without it, your prayer will fall upon deaf ears. This is why hymns and prayers always go together in the typical structure of (ancient) Hellenic ritual: one is useless without the other.

Ancient Hellenic prayers were made standing up, with arms raised. If you were the one pouring libations, the arms needn't be raised as high, but the libation-bowl was poised. For the Ouranic deities, the palms faced upward, to the sky. For the Khthonic deities, the palms faced downward, to the earth. To both, the voice is raised, so as to draw as much attention as possible.

Of course, modern times call for modern measures sometimes. Perhaps you can work around it by doing rituals when no one is home, or else you'll just have to whisper and pray for the best. Now there aren't whole city's populations shouting for attention, perhaps the Gods listen more carefully, you know? and I do truly feel that once the Gods know who to keep an ear out for, They'll find them even when they whisper Their names.

~~~

"I'm a vegetarian. Even though I wouldn't perform animal sacrifice myself, I would attend an animal sacrifice done by a temple priest. Do you think, in this hypothetical situation, it would be disrespectful NOT to eat my part?

I’ll give you my personal opinion, as there isn’t ancient precedence. Personally, yes, I think it would be disrespectful, not to the Gods (I feel you would just be missing out on that connection to Them, but that is your “problem”, not Theirs) but to the animal. That animal just gave its life to improve your relationship with the Gods, and then you go on to spurn its sacrifice.

The animals the ancient Hellenes sacrificed were raised for that purpose. They were well-fed, socialized with large groups of people, they were taught not to fear fire, they learned to walk calmly on a rope and to stand still. In short, lots of time was spend on these animals, and lots of money was spend on them as well. Ancient Hellenic people had deep respect for the animals they sacrificed, and part of that respect was eating their flesh once their sacrifice was completed.

Now, there were vegetarians in ancient Hellas! Many of the philosophers especially thought eating meat was bad for the body and soul. Maybe they attended animal sacrifice, maybe not. We do know that they usually made their own sacrifice of animal shaped cakes. I think there is a distinct difference between then an now, though: very little meat was eaten back then that was not sacrificed or dedicated to the Gods in some way. Now, (almost) all of our meat is eaten without dedicating it to the Gods. If one goes through the ordeal of animal sacrifice--if one takes a life even through proxy--I strongly feel that sacrifice has to be honored. Of course, that is my opinion and I never claim my opinion to be truth. You will have to make up your own mind if this hypothetical situation ever becomes reality.

~~~

"What do you think about the name Theiadora for a girl? I'm thinking about naming my future daughter Theiadora, so as to mean "gift of Goddess" as opposed to the traditional Theadora as a feminine version of Theodore, both of which are said to mean "gift of God." Thanks in advance!"

I think that's a lovely name and a lovely idea! Theia (Θεία) is a Titaness. She is the brother and consort of Hyperion, God of the sun, and together they are the parents of Helios, Selene, and Eos, other Gods and Goddesses of the sky. The name Theia alone means simply "Goddess" or "divine"; Theodore comes from the Greek "Theodoros" (Θεοδωρος), which in turn comes from "Theos" (θεος, God) and "doron" (δωρον, gift). So, yes, I think it makes sense linguistically!

~~~

"I'm very new to Hellenismos and I understand that the main aspect of the religion revolves around worshiping the main twelve, but are there rule for how to include lesser god/desses in your worship? Because I feel a very strong connection to Eileithyia as a midwife/doula but I can't seem to find much about her or how to worship her and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. "

I describe the pantheon of Hellenic Gods like a tapestry. The major displays woven into it are undoubtedly of Zeus and Hera, of Their brothers and sisters, of Their parents and well-known children like Apollon and Artemis. But the fringes of the tapestry are just as colorful as the main display. They hold the "minor" Gods and Goddesses who rule over our emotions, the weather, the stars, rivers and other bodies of water, and literally everything else in your environment. Without these minor Gods and Goddess, the tapestry would not only be plain, it would be threadbare. It's my firm belief that it's impossible to practice Hellenismos and only worship one or a handful of Gods. One must invest in at least the pursuit of knowledge about every single God or Goddess in our pantheon to fully grasp the parts you thought you already understood. Without the details of the tapestry, its full beauty can't be appreciated, after all.

That having been said, it's impossible to honor all of these divinities. There are probably thousands, after all. There aren't rules on how to honor the divinities with little mythology to Their name but thankfully, in Hellenismos, that isn't an issue. All worship was conducted in the exact same way: we start with a procession (no matter how short) toward the altar, where we purify ourselves and the space around us with khernips (lustral water made by dropping something smoldering in water). We also sow barley groats. This is not only a form of purification, it was the start of the process of kharis (ritual reciprocity) where the strewing of barley groats on and around the altar of the Theoi is like a spiritual sowing to reap the benefits of later (asked for through prayer later on in the rite). As such, the barley that we use is whole form, just like it is for actual sowing of the crop.

Once purification is performed, a hymn is sung or proclaimed. Hymns are sung to please, to bring forth. It is a way to celebrate the deity in question, but also to make Him or Her more inclined to grant the request to follow. Hymns were accompanied with music and dancing; they were true celebrations in that regard. They are performed to proclaim existing kharis and built upon it by showing respect and knowledge of the lives of the Gods. Today, they are mostly proclaimed, but the words are heartfelt and proclaimed clearly and (if at all possible) loudly.

Prayers are next on the agenda. Prayers are attempts by men and women to communicate with Gods by means of the voice. A prayer is carefully formulated to convey a message as persuasively as possible to the God, and was thus often spoken. The idea is not to please, but to request. They make use of the established and just now strengthened kharis to petition the Gods for aid. Where the hymn is an offering to go along with material sacrifice, the prayer is not an offering at all. To soften the request, prayers are often accompanied by the sacrifice--the main event of the rite.

A sacrifice to the Gods is a way of bonding, of kharis. It's a way of showing our devotion to the Gods and bringing Them, actively, into our homes and lives. It's a way of acknowledging Their greatness and recognizing our loyalty to Them. Practically, this means that whatever the sacrifice, it should be given with love, dedication and with respect to the bond between immortal and mortal. This outlay is the same for all Gods, be They major or minor. You can worship Gods with very little to none mythology to Their name exactly the same as those with extensive stories to be told and proclaimed. If you don't have a hymn for Them, then make your own by way of what you know and why you are called to Them. There are no specific hymns for  Eileithyia, for example, but we can make them from bits and pieces of ancient material and our own inspiration.

"Khaire Eiliethyia of women's child-pains. She Who Comes To Aid, hear the praise I sing of you! You who brought forth the birth of bright Artemis and Apollon, twin champions of arrows and protectors of children, you whom Galanthis tricked to allow the birth of the great hero Herakles, drawn near to my humble altar and lean down to lend me Your ear and accept the sacrifice I make in Your honor, for without you Goddess of childbirth, Eileithyia, maid to the throne of the deep-thinking Moirai, child of all-powerful Hera, hear my song. For without you should we see neither the light of day, nor know the kindly dark, nor win the gift of Hebe, thy sister, the glorious limbs of youth."