Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.

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Elani Temperance

Elani Temperance

Elani Temperance is a twenty-seven year old woman, who lives with her partner in The Netherlands. She has been Pagan for a little over twelve years and has explored Neo-Wicca, Technopaganism, Hedge Witchery and Eclectic Religious Witchcraft before progressing to Hellenismos. Although her home practice is fully Hellenic, she has an online Neo-Pagan magazine called 'Little Witch magazine' (www.littlewitchmagazine.com) in which she and several co-writers try to cover the whole gamut of Neo-Paganism. Baring the Aegis is also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BaringTheAegis

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Hospitality in ancient Hellenic was a complicated ritual within both the host and the guest has certain roles to fill and tasks to perform. Especially when someone unknown to the host came to the door, the ritual held great value. The host had and has many tasks in his process, but the guest had/has an important part to play as well: the guest is expected to be courteous and not be a burden to the host. The house was a sanctuary in ancient Hellas with a lot of social rules attached to it. Guests could not enter certain parts of the house, and male guests were kept away from women at all times. Long term guests had a slightly different status, as they became part of the oikos, but they were still subject to restrictions when it came to social an religious behaviour. This practice was known as 'xenia' (ξενία), and we'll be talking about a very special version of it today: xenia related to Gods and heroes.

Xenia is described a lot in mythology. Especially the more general form of it where Theoi disguising themselves as beggars or undesirables and come to the door of an unsuspecting mortal features in many myths. The host is judged on the hospitality offered; good things befall those who treat guests with respect, very bad things befall those who do not. One of my favorite Hellenic myths shows this in great detail; it's the story of how Baucis and Philemon received some unexpected visitors. You can read the myth here.

Theoxenia is a little different, it's a specific ritual meant to bring the Gods closer to us and invite Them into our home. Heroxenia is the same practice, but for the heroes of Hellenic mythology. In short, theoxenia and heroxenia were a kind of Hellenic sacrifice in which worshippers presented foodstuffs to Gods or heroes (not usually at the same time, or at least not at the same table), who then attended the meal as guests, or xenoi.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, That's great! I really like these rituals. Thanks for sharing!

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I'm so out of touch with the greater Pagan community--especially the American one--that I might as well have been living under a rock the past few months. Every now and again, however, news seeps down to me, and yesterday I was suddenly confronted with the news of Kenny Klein's arrest on multiple counts of possessing child pornography.

I don't know Klein; I've read some of his posts on PaganSquare, and I've heard others talk about him, but I have never exchanged words with him, not even written ones. I can make no statement to his character beyond his now-tainted image. I don't know anything about Kenny Klein, and yet the news of his arrest and the charges for which he will be brought to court have hit me harder than I would have expected it to.

The Wild Hunt has a relatively complete account of the circumstances, so for anyone wishing to know more about this situation, I would kindly ask you to read up there as I feel no need to repeat Jason's hard work. As of this moment, Klein is not convicted of anything, so I won't comment on his guilt--one way or another--but I do want to comment on the greater ramifications of a Pagan Elder being charged with not only possession of child pornography, but also facing multiple testimonies of people who have felt intimidated and unsafe in his presence during festivals. If you read the article, you will see accounts of many people uncomfortable by his push for physical contact despite being told 'no', and one person even testified to keeping an eye on any kids around Klein long before this turn of events on Wednesday.

This is the part where I warn you about triggers for abuse, rape, rape culture and (male) privilege.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, it is a great piece. And it applies to people of all faiths. Years ago I was a member of a New Thought Church in which "hug
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    This is a great piece--thank you for sharing this. I really resonate with the "entitlement" aspect that comes in touchy-huggy Circ
  • Tabitha
    Tabitha says #
    Excellently said!!!

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I've gotten a few messages about reincarnation and how--and if--it relates to Hellenism. Time to talk about it. 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, though unfamiliar in Hellenic religion, was widespread in Hellenic philosophy. The doctrine of transmigration is first associated with the Pythagoreans and Orphics and was later taught by Plato and Pindar. For the former groups, the soul retained its identity throughout its reincarnations; Plato indicated that souls do not remember their previous experiences. Although Herodotus claims that the Hellenes learned this idea from Egypt, most scholars do not believe it came either from Egypt or from India, but developed independently.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks for discussing the topic of reincarnation, et cetera! As a Platonist, I really do believe in the transmigr

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Recently, I received a message about health and healing. The questions centered on healing from physical injury, support during surgery, and common practices in ancient Hellas in these types of situations both of the injured and their families. Seeing as most of us will most likely wat to request the healing aid of the Gods at one point in our lives, I though I would make a blog post out of it.

In ancient Hellas, people got sick just like we get sick now. With the poorer hygiene conditions and often heavy physical labor that was undertaken, epidemics one one illness or another must have been quite common, and accidents were prone to happen. As such, there were quite a number of deities who were especially prone to help humanity recover from diseases and injuries.

When we discuss health and healing, we must first look at the worship of Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós was, and is, a much beloved Theos. He started out being honored as a hero--the son of Apollon and Koronis--but became a God in His own right because of his healing skill. It seems Asklēpiós was such a fine healer, He could even bring the dead back to life, even though He is no longer permitted to do that. Apollon presides over the healing proccess as well--in general with the Hellenic deities, younger generations preside over the building blocks of the previous generation, so while Apollon has 'healing' in His portfolio, much of the actual healing is done by his younger son, and specific subsets of healing are distributed amongst Asklēpiós' daughters.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks for sharing! These are deities that most Hellenists, myself included, should probably honor more.

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There are some things religious Pagans are not encouraged to talk about. Doubt is one of them. I believe that the Gods exist, that They are real entities, who rule over life and death, and who dictate the way we should behave through teachings found in mythology and ancient societies. I chose to follow the Hellenic Gods in Their teachings, not disregarding that there are other Gods, but recognizing my human shortcomings, I could never honor all of the Gods in the way They feel They are entitled to be worshipped. And so I leave the worship of the Norse Gods to the Asatruar, the worship of the Egyptian Gods to the Kemetics, etc. I have specialized, so to say, in the Hellenic Gods, but to me, all the Gods are real and worthy of respect.

 

I didn't grow up religious. My parents were raised in various denominations of Christianity, but they had both rejected it before I was even born. My parents do not disapprove of faith, but they discouraged it, regardless. I did not have an easy childhood, and by the time I was twelve, I was already searching for religion, longing to satisfy the need in myself I found to reach out to beings beyond my reach who could offer me something to hold on to. I investigated the common, major, religions and found them lacking. I can see the beauty in many of them now, but for my twelve year old self, they were passive and lacking in what I needed: structure, active Gods, and the focus on household worship.

 

I found Paganism and self-dedicated after a year and a day of reading and practicing. I was thirteen at the time, and while I did not believe in the God and Goddess I found int eh books, the concept drew me in enough to start performing the rites, to start celebreating the festivals and to find my peace there. It took me years until I truly believed in the Gods, at least four or five years of active practice. It wasn't something that happened overnight, but I did find myself looking back and thinking 'when did I start believing?'. For me, it wasn't a specific ritual, or a moment in time that cemented my faith. Once day, I realized that I believed, and that was that.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I agree that we have not become better. I believe that as long as we judge ourselves for practices that harm others and do not aut
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I live in Greece and am Greek (citizen and in my heart) but the Greek pantheon as portrayed in the Greek myths (Hesiod, Homer, et.
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Back in 2012, I wrote a long and detailed post about rape in ancient Hellenic mythology and culture that you might like to read. Y

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The beautiful thing about Hellenism is that not only do we have a clear way to honor the Theoi, and incentive to do so, we also get to live in a world governed completely by the Gods. Hellenismos is special in that regards because it also largely matches up with science. To me--and many others with me--that is something very comforting. Now, as you are probably all aware, I live in a world full of Gods and Nymphs; for example, I take great strength in greeting Eos each morning as she paves the way for Helios, but there are many Gods who are, or who control, the cycle of day and night, and I would like to write out this cycle, if I may.

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  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Thank you, Jamie! It's good to see you have returned to my blog
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks again for recounting the lore! These are deities I honor regularly.

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Beautiful Paga Square readers, I owe you an apology. I seem to have dropped off of the face of the earth for a few months, even though I never intended to. I have this odd quirk where I start feeling guilty and don’t know how to get back on the horse and that is what happened here. Back in October, things got a little heavy and stressful for me, and I took a little personal time, always intending to get back. Then, I forgot how to and despite returning to Pagan Square being a new year’s resolution, it’s half way through February before I finally did come back.

I’m sorry for disappearing on you without a word. I would love to promise it won’t happen again, but that would be a lie. I will promise, however, that now the first hurdle is taken, I will resume posting here, because this first post is the hardest for me. I hope to do regular scheduling again: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I never stopped blogging on my personal blog, so there is material enough to share with you guys.

I hope you will forgive me my human errors, and that you will enjoy the posts to come. A personal note to our wonderful host Anne (who shall be receiving an e-mail from me in a few minutes), thank you for reaching out and I apologize to you most of all.

...
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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    It can be tough to overcome guilt -- glad you've made the first step!

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Anyone who frequents this blog knows I am passionate about bringing the Hellenistic community together in some way; to facilitate conversation and hope for face-to-face meetings. Today I am very proud to announce two new initiatives for the Hellenistic community. The first is a pet project of mine, but the second surged up from the community, and I am proud to facilitate. 
 
The Hellenistic Festival Schedule:
In an effort to connect the community and make resources available to seekers, Baring the Aegis keeps an updated calendar of upcoming public festivals and celebrations of Hellenistic groups. Contact information is provided where known. If you want your event featured on the calendar, message me on Facebook or send an e-mail to the gmail address 'baring.the.aegis' with the following information:

  • Name of the event
  • Date and time of the event
  • Location of the event
  • Level of reconstruction (Neo-Pagan/non-Traditional/Traditional/etc.)
  • Contact information and/or a link for more information
  • Special rules or necessary information where needed, including entree prices if applicable

Pandora's Kharis:
Pandora's Kharis is a movement which aroze from within the Hellenistic Polytheistic community, and sponsored by Hellenistic Polytheistic organization Elaion. Its goal is to come together as Hellenists--followers of the ancient Hellenic (Greek) Gods--and collect funds monthly to support a worthy cause, decided upon by vote from the members of the group. Donations will be collected throughout the month and provided to the organization on the Noumenia; the religious beginning of the new month, which coicides with the return of the moon after it's just gone through its dark phase. It is a time of hope and promise, and Pandora's remaining gift after the aphora was opened was exactly that. As such, she has been elected to represent what we stand for: to keep an open eye of wonder towards the world, to see the good in it, and to offer hope to those in need.
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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks for sharing!

The last I wrote of Hēraklēs, our hero had successfully navigated Eurystheus' scheme of getting him killed by help of Artemis. Hēraklēs completed another labour, made Artemis happy, and saved the day. All was well in the world of Hēraklēs. At this point, Hēraklēs is aware he still has eight labours ahead of him: he completed three successfully, but the labour with the Lernaean Hydra was disqualified because he had accepted the help of his nephew and lover Iolaus. It was most certainly an unfair ruling, but nothing can be done about it: Hēraklēs must continue with his quest in hopes of cleansing himself of his crime.

The fourth labour is to capture the Erymanthian Boar, which got his name from the mountainside and swamp it roamed on. It seems Eurystheus realized that capturing something can be a lot more deadly than killing something, especially when that something is bigger and badder than any of its peers. That said, Hyginus in his Fabulae describes that the task was not to capture the boar, but to kill it, which Hēraklēs accomplished. As far as I am aware, though, he is the only one. Pausanias mentions the boar in his 'Description of Greece', saying:
 
"There is also a legend that Heracles at the command of Eurystheus hunted by the side of the Erymanthus a boar that surpassed all others in size and in strength. The people of Cumae among the Opici say that the boar's tusks dedicated in their sanctuary of Apollo are those of the Erymanthian boar, but the saying is altogether improbable." [8.24.5]

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thank you for sharing the story of Herakles' 4th labor! I really appreciate that you found differing accounts fro

Recently, I read a blog post by Star Foster, whom I admire as a person and writer and whose blog will survive any culling of my blog reader for a long time to come. In this blog post, titled 'Being Human', she questions basic life lessons, including ethical living. From that blog post:
 
"I’ve been thinking a lot about the Precepts of Solon. So many of these maxims are subjective. What is good character? What is good? What is bad?"

Although the original blog post is in no way limited to this question, this is the part of the post that stuck with me and has been a thorn in my side for the last two days. Why? Because my first reaction was 'you just know', and that is never a satisfactory answer for me. So I have spent the last two days trying to figure out how 'I just know' when I am not displaying a good character, when I am not good, and when I do something bad. Because I do 'just know'.

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  • Bruce Walton
    Bruce Walton says #
    Fantastic article. This has really made me think about my actions and words, and also how much we allow ourselves to get away with
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am happy to hear my article made you think. You are right about online communities and fading ethics. It is easy to lash out aga
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, I know what's right. I've read a number of philiosophical treastises about ethics, and I embrace many of the anci

Yesterday I got an interesting question from a reader named Wendy, who has allowed me to print part of her e-mail and my response to her so as to accomodate others who might be struggling with this question. It went as follows:

"Hi Elani, I read your blog a lot and saw that you wrote that sometimes sacrifices were burned fully, and sometimes they were only partly sacrificed and partly eaten. I think the difference is in who the sacrifice is to, but I have trouble deciding who should get what type of offering. Is there a list or something I can use? Thanks! Wendy."
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  • Joseph Eberling
    Joseph Eberling says #
    i think being what i believe in is what i am wiccan and i in joy being what i am i believe in the power that i got in with the gro
  • Joseph Eberling
    Joseph Eberling says #
    I am a green witch and I study herbs and practice crastals and try to help ppl with there problems and ive been doing this for 5
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    This is a really great post, and so useful... I recently gathered some standing dead wood for the fire pit, and now we can put i

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I want to apologize for the mothballs covering this blog. I've been keeping up with my personal blog, but somehow, PaganSquare fell off the radar for a while. It's been nearly a month and that is unacceptable to you, kind readers, and to myself as well, as that was not the deal I made with Anne when I took the opportunity to blog at PaganSquare. A lot has happened here while I was away dealing with a boatload of personal issues, and I have no opinion on that for now. Perhaps at a later date. All I want to say about it right now is that I have never felt attacked, unwelcome, or in any other way uncomfortable at posting here. I stick to my own subjects and because of that, I seem to stay clear of a lot of trouble. It works for me. I'm not here to argue, I am here to share information. Please, be sure that my absence had nothing to do with these issues. For now, I would like to post on the strong link between prayers and hymns in the ancient Hellenic religion and modern Hellenismos, with a promise to resume regular postings here.

Probably the best definition of 'prayer' I have ever happened upon was by William D. Fuley, who says: "prayers (and hymns) are attempts by men and women to communicate with gods by means of the voice". It is simple, elegant, and accurate. Especially in the ancient Hellenic religion, it was important to raise one's voice when hymns were sung, and especially so when prayers were made.

I am going to generalize here and say that a hymn was sung to the Theoi, with the aim to please the God in question. They have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning contains two things: a note that the hymn is about to begin, and an announcement of whom the speaker/singer is addressing.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thank you for posting. I'll try to bear this stuff in mind the next time I do ritual. Very helpful!
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    This is a wonderful guide, not only to understand the difference between hymns and prayers, but also in helping us to write our ow
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am glad it was helpful! :-)

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I am a huge proponent of the right--God-given or otherwise--to free speech. I think we live in an age where individualism is valued to such a degree, however, that 'freedom of speech' has the potential to become a tool. A political one, when used to silence the opponent, or even a religious one, when used to incite hate or anger onto another religion.

Over the past few days, the on-line Pagan community has come together over some clear examples of the latter form of free speech: several Facebook groups have come up slandering witches (mostly) and actively calling for the eradication of said witches. I leave witches un-capitalized because I fear the founder(s) of these groups are ignorant enough of the modern Pagan movement to be completely unaware that there is even a potential for religious views within the practice of Witchcraft.

These groups happen. They have happened before, and will happen again. In general, I feel freedom of speech applies in these instances: the founder(s) of those pages are within their right to create these pages and speak their mind. That said, freedom of speech should end where others get hurt--and people are getting hurt. From this point on, a monitoring authority should step in and take away the public forum that is used by those harmful to others. In this case, Facebook is doing none of this.

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  • Christine Kraemer
    Christine Kraemer says #
    Helpful site for explaining why such pages constitute a credible threat of violence: http://www.whrin.org/
  • Erika Clarke
    Erika Clarke says #
    I have reported these groups as well and told they weren't removed because they don't violate the facebook policies on hate speec
  • aought
    aought says #
    My gut feeling is that FB is letting this ride to "flush out" all Pagans and sympathizers. Remember, they are nothing but a big da

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I have already written quite a lot about the Hellenic hero Hēraklēs, whose name was later Romanized as 'Hercules'. In fact, I am writing a continuing series about his labours. That said, this post will not be just about him, because there were others associated with the myth, despite the name.
 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I'd never realized what a great teaching tool the skies themselves are, to learn about the Theoi! Sometime I need to expand my abi
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I most certainly can't find all of them either, so don't worry But you are right, they are great teaching tools, indeed.

In part one of this two part series, I wrote about personal patronage in the ancient and modern context. Today, I want to talk about professional patronage (i.e. Apollon as the patron of the arts, and thus prayed to by artists). Personally, I think the only thing that professional patronage shares with the practice of personal patronage is its name--and we will get to that in a second. 
 
The interesting thing is that none of the academic sources at my disposal make mention of this practice under the term 'patronage'. Patronage in the context of ancient Hellas seems to focus on the non-lineal bond between two people--a patron who took care of a client or slave in a material, financial, or emotional way. 'Patron' to mean the support, encouragement, or privilege that a deity bestows upon those practicing a profession or living in a city is a Christian term, which refers to patron saints. Patron saints are regarded as the tutelary spirits or heavenly advocates of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Taking this description would give you, for example, Athena as the patron of Athens--but outside of Christianity, the proper term is 'tutelage'; a tutelary deity.

A tutelary, or tutelar, deity is 'a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture or occupation'. Both tutelary and tutelar can be used as either a noun or an adjective. As such, Athena is the tutelary Goddess of Athens, or the tutelar of Athens--but because we are so used to 'patron(ess)', 'tutelar' does not have quite the same ring to it.

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  • Matt G
    Matt G says #
    This doesn't sound right to me. When I look at Catullus' "Carmina" in his first poem he addresses "patrona virgo" specifically in
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you that is a helpful distinction.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I think I will use the term 'tutelage' from now on, as the commonly-used modern Pagan term "Patronage" really does not seem to app

Patronage is a pretty big thing in Paganism these days. I frequently a few Neo-Pagan places, and one of the most ask newbie questions is: 'How do I find out who my patron is?", or a variation thereof. There is nothing wrong with this; modern patronage is a thing, and I have experienced it myself. The interesting change in the last few years seems to be that patronage used to be the exception, now it is the rule. Any person new to Paganism feels they are doing something wrong if there isn't a God or Goddess tapping them on the shoulder right away.

modern patronage, in this context, is the support or encouragement of a patron, where the patron or patroness (and we will get to that) is a divine being. In these relationships, the active party is often the deity in question, who claims the passive human. Some will describe a sense of 'being owned' by their patron. The human becomes a conduit for the work and will of the patron in question, and is required to spend large portions of their lives in active service to that deity. The bond between deity and human is personal. This is what having two patrons meant for me when I was growing up (because They were there long before I discovered Paganism), and this is what the word meant when I first joined the (online) Pagan community. These days, the first part still applies; humans are approached by deities and receive their help. I see less and less of the latter part, unfortunately, and while I think patronage is a beautiful practice, it seems time for a general discussion and some ancient Hellenic examples of why the modern concept of patronage does not apply to Hellenismos.

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    The concept of patronage in Hellenismos was described to me pretty much as you laid it out, but my teacher reasoned out an explana
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Like I aid, I am not against the practice at all, and yes, the Gods find ways to reinvent Themselves to the needs of Their modern
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I don't have a modern patron-type relationship with the Theoi, either. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Hekate is extremely important to me in my household worship. Like some of the early ancient Hellenes, I view Hekate as Hesiod's Hekate, the single-faced Titan, who rules in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea. She is a Theia of childbirth--to both animals and humans--and it is She who bestows wealth on mortals, victory, wisdom, good luck to sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the flocks of cattle. Yet, if mortals do not deserve Her gifts, she can withhold them from them just as easily. After the Titanomachy, Zeus bestowed upon Her the highest of honors. This is the Goddess I honor daily during my nighttime rites, but I do integrate some later practices and thoughts about Her; including Her role as protector of the house and 'crossroad Goddess'.

Personally, when I hear 'crossroad Goddess', I think Supernatural's crossroad's demon. I think it's exactly this modern view of supernatural forces at crossroads that makes it difficult to understand Hekate's role as a Goddess of crossroads. I therefor don't use the tem 'crossroad Goddess', because it is somewhat deceiving; Her imagery would have stood at crossroads, and offerings were left there for safe travel, but the crossroads Hekate was most valued for protecting was the crossroads leading from the street to the home; a 'T'-shaped crossroads where Hekate ever vigilantly watches over the threshold.

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  • Tannim Wolfkin
    Tannim Wolfkin says #
    Hail, My wife and I are starting to work with Hekate especially on the New Moon. Are there any books or other resources that you
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Khaire Tannim, It's wonderful to hear you and your wife feel called to worship Hekate. I would suggest watching this video of a c
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Praise be to Hekate! As a Platonist, I honor Her as the World Soul. Home is a haven from an uncertain and sometimes dangerous w
 

When we last caught up with Hēraklēs, he had just completed his second labour: to slay the Lernaean Hydra. What his next labour is, depends on the ancient writer you read. Hyginus, for example, remarks that he slew the Erymantian Boar first, while I use the commonly accepted sequence set out by Apollodorus. Speaking of Apollodorus: He has only a few words to spare for this third labour:
 
"As a third labour he [Eurystheus] ordered him to bring the Cerynitian hind alive to Mycenae. Now the hind was at Oenoe; it had golden horns and was sacred to Artemis; so wishing neither to kill nor wound it, Hercules hunted it a whole year. But when, weary with the chase, the beast took refuge on the mountain called Artemisius, and thence passed to the river Ladon, Hercules shot it just as it was about to cross the stream, and catching it put it on his shoulders and hastened through Arcadia. But Artemis with Apollo met him, and would have wrested the hind from him, and rebuked him for attempting to kill her sacred animal.Howbeit, by pleading necessity and laying the blame on Eurystheus, he appeased the anger of the goddess and carried the beast alive to Mycenae." [2.5.3]

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Great that Herakles outwits Eurystheus! Thanks again for recounting the lore in a well-written, entertaining way.
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Thank you! Personally, I like the brains-over-brawn labours the best

Divination is a gift from the Gods, a way to contact the Gods directly through oracles and seers. It was something heavily relied upon in ancient Hellas, and in its mythology: many war, quests, and epics started with a visit to Delphi. Especially in Hómēros, divination by way of birds features heavily, and it has had my interest for a long while. Almost a year ago, I wrote about oiônoskopos for the Pagan Blog Project, in a post about oracles, seers and divination, and from that point on, I've been teaching the art to myself. Today, I would like to share what I have discovered.

Oiônoskopos, like many of the divinatory practices, was considered a 'technical' or 'learned' art, opposed by 'natural' or 'unlearned' types of divination. Typically, natural divination was understood to include dreams and the reading of utterances of others or yourself, and to be the older and more reliable form of divination as these types were communicated more directly by the Gods. Aristotle and the Peripatetic philosophers found value only in natural divination. Technical means of divination was everything else; anything that depended on acquired human skills, such as the reading of entrails, the behavior of birds, or birthmarks. Most form of divination, called 'mantikē', playwright Aeschylus states in 'Prometheus Bound', were taught to us by Prometheus himself:
 
"And I marked out many ways by which they might read the future, and among dreams I first discerned which are destined to come true; and voices baffling interpretation I explained to them, and signs from chance meetings. The flight of crook-taloned birds I distinguished clearly—which by nature are auspicious, which sinister—their various modes of life, their mutual feuds and loves, and their consorting's; and the smoothness of their entrails, and what color the gall must have to please the gods, also the speckled symmetry of the liver-lobe; and the thigh-bones, wrapped in fat, and the long chine I burned and initiated mankind into an occult art. Also I cleared their vision to discern signs from flames, which were obscure before this." [477]

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  • Suzanne Corbie
    Suzanne Corbie says #
    Hello Elani, interesting blog as many moons ago, I read that the Athenians, in an attempt to galvanise and motivate their army, wo
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    This practice would not surprise me at all Thanks!
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    This is just great stuff! Many thanks again.

Hellenic mythology is not known for being overtly subtle about its lessons, but very few are so apparently obvious about it as the myth about Niobe and her children. It is a story most of us know: Niobe, Queen of Thebes, daughter of Tantalos, gave birth to fourteen children, and boasted that she was far superior to Leto, mother to Apollon and Artemis, because Leto had only given birth to two children, and she to fourteen. Rushing to their mother's defense, Apollon and Artemis struck down the children of the Queen in a rain of arrows, and when her husband, Amphion, stood by his wife, Apollon killed him too. So great was Niobe's sorrow that she turned to stone, and the weeping rock still stands at the foot of Mount Siphylus. The retribution is depicted below, on the Niobic krater. 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks once again for taking the time to share some important knowledge. Hubris is always a danger, as you've explained from the
  • Candi
    Candi says #
    pssst...in the third paragraph up from the bottom, you may want to change "fowl" to "foul."
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    *whistle* Never happened... (but thank you ;-) )

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