We stand at the beginning of the transmission of the ancient Greek religion to the United States and other places throughout the world. The subject of this website is the journey known as Hellenismos. The perspective presented is not eclectic; it is purely Hellenic following a living tradition in the lineage of Orpheus, the great theologian and reformer of the religion.
This web site is designed to be a resource for those who are in our community and those others who wish to learn our customs, beliefs, philosophy, and practices. Our purpose is not to convert or convince anyone, although we hope to be a lighthouse and an inspiration for those who are seeking the means by which to make good use of their lives and to make a difference in the world.
Please take advantage of the links at the top and bottom of each page of this website. The website is vast and is growing constantly; there are currently several hundred pages with numerous nooks and crannies where you will find information and links that will take you to more information giving yet more links.
The Resource page is the suggested means by which to navigate the site. Please also visit the Illustrated Glossary of Hellenic Polytheism, a concise dictionary or encyclopedia of Hellenismos, useful to define terms and yield information concerning a large variety of subjects.
The ideas presented on this website are the responsibility of its author. The content is the result of a combination of two factors: direct tutelage from teachers in Greece and a vast personal library of books concerning the ancient world. The views presented reflect the genuine ancient Greek religion. Every effort has been made to be true and accurate to what has been taught; nonetheless, any errors are the fault of this author who can only reflect his own understanding. In short, anything good you may find here is an expression of the wisdom that was taught to me by my teacher in Greece; likewise, anything incorrect is due to my ignorance or misunderstanding and not the fault of the source of my knowledge.
My name is Jim Van Kollenburg, although I am known by the religious name of Kallímakhos. I am a 63 year old man and no-one special; I am not a priest or a saint, but I am simply someone who through tremendous good fortune has become the student of the most wonderful teacher of this religion, and I am trying to share what I have learned, because it has been the greatest inspiration of my life, a thing of enormous beauty, and, I believe, this knowledge has the potential to make a huge difference in the life of anyone who approaches it with a sincere heart and a willingness to work hard.
For those who know other students of my teacher, it should be clear that their understanding of the material may differ in some ways from my understanding. The use of terms such as "we" and "us" are used in the most general way and would be avoided if there were a less awkward means to express the idea that a tradition is being presented rather than a personal viewpoint. In other words, when I use words such as "we" or "us" I mean, generally, that the tradition says this or that, not that an orthodoxy is being presented, or that everyone who follows the Greek religion believes this or that; a traditional view is being presented.
Beyond oral teaching, the research that made this website possible is largely independent.
What is the purpose of Hellenic Gods.org? Hellenic Gods.org is a vehicle designed to cultivate the study and practice of HELLENISMOS.
What is Hellenismos? Hellenismos, in its deeper meaning, is the noble path that promotes the development of personal excellence known as aræti (arete; Gr. ἀρετή): virtue. It is a way of life, working with the natural world by means of Natural Laws, through the worship of the pantheon of Gods of ancient Greece, in particular, the Twelve Olympians, and examining life through means of genuine philosophy.
Isn't this word associated with the Roman emperor Julian? Yes, it is associated with Julian, but not exclusively. The use here of the term Hellenismos is, in part, a token of appreciation for something that Julian did. That is the extent of connection to him on this website. Hellenismos is a word used by Greeks to refer to all things Greek, not only philosophy and the worship of the Gods.
Who is Julian and what did he do? Julian (332-364 CE) was the last Roman emperor who honored the Gods. He endeavored to rule as a philosopher-king and attempted to revive philosophy and the worship of the Gods. Although the term Hellenismos is sometimes associated with Julian and with Rome, the slant of this site is decidedly Greek. HellenicGods.org is not a vehicle to promote or negate any of Julian's personal beliefs.
I have heard other names used by people who worship the ancient Gods; I'm confused? There are many terms currently in use, such as Hellenismos, Olympianism, Dodekatheism, Hellenic polytheism, Hellenism, Hellenic paganism, Hellenic pantheism, Greek pantheism, Hellenic reconstructionism, the ancient Greek religion, or simply, the worship of the Hellenic Gods.
People who practice this way of life have somewhat varying beliefs and often the name they choose to represent their beliefs reflects this difference. The terms Dodekatheism or Olympianism are particularly appropriate here because this website promotes the worship the Twelve Olympian Gods and their accompanying pantheon. It is in this sense that the term Hellenismos is being used on this website.
How do you practice your religion? Hellenismos is a path, a journey, a way of living your life, the way of Arætí (Arete; Gr. Ἀρετή), the root of all virtue. We practice what is called eusebeia (Gr. εὐσἐβεια), which is a type of piety, a reverence towards the Gods, your parents, the world, the cosmos. Therefore, you could say that Hellenismos is piety by which one develops virtue through a combination of many factors. Eusebeia is a word that is similar, but not identical, to religion. Another word, thriskeia (Gr. θρησκεία), is usually translated as "religion" but thriskeia refers more to the outward forms and ritual, what is of greater concern is the transformation, the progress of the soul, the outward forms and ritual being secondary.
I'm still unclear; is Hellenismos a religion? Could you elaborate a bit further? Hellenismos is both a religion and more than a religion. Hellenismos is the source from which a religion has blossomed. Hellenismos is a way of life which has as its outward expression thriskeia: religion. Thriskeia is the outward expression of the worship and belief in the Gods. Thriskeia is translated as "religion" in the English language. When the belief system of Hellenismos is put into practice and organized into temples and ritual, this is called thriskeia. To say that Hellenismos is merely thriskeia would be misleading being that Hellenismos is more than just the forms and rituals. Hellenismos is based more on the manner in which we live our lives rather than on the organized outward forms and beliefs. Thriskeia, or religion, is an aspect of Hellenismos, but is not inclusive of its entire meaning. It must be emphasized that religion with its forms and rituals is only an outward form; if one's way of life does not reflect the religion, such thriskeia is useless, an empty shell. You can say this of any religion but it is particularly important to the creator of this website and his teachers in Greece.
Are you connected with YSEE or Dodecatheon? This website has no formal connection with any particular group although we have friends in many.
But you represent that this site is what the Greeks believe; do all Greeks believe as you present Hellenismos here? The knowledge found on this website is the genuine Hellenismos, as I have understood it, as taught to me by my teacher from Greece. Certainly there are many Greeks who have differing beliefs, some of whose beliefs I am aware of, but to what I have been taught, I have tried my best to remain true; if I have misunderstood anything, it is this author's fault and not his teacher's.
Do you take the position that the Gods of mythology are real entities, sentient beings that could be aware of me? Yes, the Gods exist as conscious personal entities. There are also impersonal deities such as Justice, Law, Nature, etc., but the Olympian Gods, such as Apollo, and myriad other deities, are conscious beings living at a very advanced level, and their demeanor is inclined towards your benefit.
Is there an origin-myth of these Gods, something like the Biblical Genesis? Yes, it is very beautiful. You may read the story on this page, what is, perhaps, the most important page on the entire website: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony. The Theogony is the most important page; the entire website could be said to be an attempt to explain it.
I thought these beliefs vanished centuries ago? Hellenismos was persecuted and driven underground. Its philosophies survive and prosper throughout the world in many ways and the practice of the religion has also survived.
In any case, there must be only a tiny percentage of the world's population that worship more than one God? Actually, there are millions of people in India and elsewhere who worship more than one God, but regarding the practitioners of Hellenismos, the numbers may be small, but the influence is considerable and significant.
Do I need to believe in these Gods to participate? Many people have had some kind of experience that engages them. A friendly and nagging curiosity is appropriate.
I was taught that polytheism is primitive? If polytheism is primitive, how did it produce some of the greatest minds ever known, great minds such as Aristotle, Euclid, Hippocrates, Lycurgus, Pericles, Pheidias, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, to name but a few? Indeed, the whole of Western Civilization has its foundation in Hellenic culture and discovery. Science and mathematics, art, drama, music, philosophy, and democracy harbor unmistakable roots that can be traced directly back to this Hellenic world, a world intertwined with polytheism.
Why would you worship Gods who were defeated by another religion? The Olympian Gods are sovereign. They have, obviously, allowed their worship to diminish for whatever reasons of their own, but worship is not the same as sovereignty and as the Olympian Gods have dominion over the Natural Laws, the concept that they could somehow be defeated is absurd.
But it seems that very few people even believe in them anymore. The Gods do not particularly care whether we believe in them or not. They are entirely free of egoism. It is similar to the law of gravity; whether we believe in it or not does not have any bearing on its existence or power. The Gods are not petty; they have other concerns, and it is not certain that their public worship is one of them.
"God has his instruments. He uses what tool he pleases. He is not responsible to man. Do we know the ways of God?...God performs his miracles as seems good to himself." (Marius musing about the character of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, 1862, Jean Valjean, Book Seventh, Chap. 2, trans. by Charles E. Wilbour; we are using the 1998 Everyman's Library edition, Alfred A. Knopf, on p.1382)
But if the Gods do not care if we believe in them, perhaps they exert no influence on our society. The influence of the Gods is and has always been enormous, whether mortals perceive it that way or not. The Olympians in particular, represent and maintain the structure of the Cosmos. Therefore, they influence everything in the universe.
Concerning humans, the Gods have great interest in and sway on the progress of the soul. Their impact is independent of the belief-systems of mankind, yet they influence these belief-systems, which, nonetheless, they allow to develop with complete freedom. If one wishes to consider the influence of the Gods on human society post late-antiquity, we could consider many things in history...the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the re-emergence of science, the rebirth of democracy, these may all be considered as expressions of the Gods exerting their influence. And it should be considered that the ancient religion, despite common misconceptions, did not entirely disappear, as can be demonstrated by the appearance of the Peloponnesian Platonist and obvious believer, Gemistos Plethon, in Florence in 1438 and in the poetry of Michael Tarchaniotis, amongst others. There are a handful of practitioners of the ancient religion of whom we are aware, who were alive during and just before the Renaissance, and there is awareness of the existence of their students. Truly it is logical that there must obviously have been many other practitioners, both scholarly and otherwise, of whom the scholars are not aware. In fact there were and still are.
If you could characterize Hellenismos in one word, what would that word be? ...Tolerance, at least from the outside looking in. Using one's own imagination, you can logically see why this would be. Scholars use the terms inclusivism and exclusivism. Polytheism is said to be inclusivistic because worshiping one God does not exclude the worship of other Gods. Christianity and Islam, on the other hand, are exclusivistic; in other words, their congregations are not allowed to worship any God other than that defined in their scripture. Therefore, Hellenismos is tolerant of other religious traditions.
You say that your philosophy is tolerant, but didn't the Romans, who also worshiped your Gods, persecute the Christians in the most brutal ways? First of all, we are not Romans; our heritage comes from ancient Greece. The persecution of Christians was a governmental act of the Roman Empire, rarely or never the act of priests and temples. You may find this brief essay helpful: Christians and Hellenismos
Well, at least speak plainly and be honest: you are pagans, right? Some people use that word. Pagan is a term which was applied to the practitioners of our religion by Christians, a term not used by the practitioners themselves. It was a derogatory term in ancient times and it inspires fear or ridicule in modern times. For many Hellenic polytheists, it is comparable to using the "n-word" instead of African-American or Black. For a more thorough discussion of the word, see this article: PAGAN: a controversial term
Is this a satanic group? Do you worship the devil? Do you glorify evil? In a word: NO. The very concept of "the devil" is foreign to the worship of the Gods.
If your question is...do the Gods promote evil?...the answer is very definitive: the Gods are beings of great light. They enlighten the universe with their light. They abound in wholesomeness and compassion. There is nothing dark or evil in them. Evil is small thinking, very tiny thinking. It involves great ignorance. The Gods are supremely evolved beings whose thinking is vast and enlightened, the exact opposite of evil.
"Whereas, the truth is that God is never in any way unrighteous--he is perfect righteousness; and he of us who is the most righteous is most like him." (Plato's Theaetetus, 176, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892, found in the 1937 Random House edition on p.178-179 of The Dialogues of Plato Vol. II)
"...the Gods are the suppliers of all good, and of no evil. For that which is primarily good, gives subsistence to every good from itself, and is not the cause of an allotment contrary to itself..." (Proclus The Theology of Plato, Book I, Chapter XVII, translated by Thomas Taylor, found in the 1999 Prometheus Trust edition on p. 99) Virtually the entire dialogue entitled The Laws, the longest of Plato, is an immense exposition of justice and ethics.
Those who worship the Gods are particularly influenced by the Gods, Gods who help them pursue heroic and ethical principles such as the Delphic Maxims or as exemplified in the writings of Plutarch, who was a priest of Apollo, Epictetus and numerous other authors and teachers from our tradition.
"Socrates: A just and pious and good man is the friend of the Gods; is he not?
Protarchus: Certainly he is.
Socrates: And the unjust and utterly bad man is the reverse? Protarchus: True."
(Plato' Philebus, 39, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892, found in the 1937 Random House edition on p. 374 of The Dialogues of Plato Vol. II)
The achievement of Virtue, Arætí (Arete; Gr. Ἀρετή), is the great goal of our religion, for there is nothing more beautiful to the Gods than to behold a virtuous man.
Give me some examples of the Delphic Maxims. You likely know the first two: Know thyself. Nothing to excess. But there are many more: Respect your parents. Do a favor for a friend. Restrain the tongue. Deal kindly with everyone. Teach a youngster. Die for your country. Share the load of the unfortunate. There are almost 150 Delphic Maxims. You may download a printable version here: The Delphic Maxims.
The Maxims are just one example. Ethical behavior is promulgated throughout Hellenic literature. Also well known are the writings of Plutarch whose Moralia is a tremendous inspiration to anyone who aspires to improve oneself. Ethics and such concepts as Justice are common themes of Hellenic philosophy and culture; even a cursory reading of Plato or Aristotle (who wrote a magnificent treatise on the subject, The Nicomachean Ethics) will reveal that.
I have heard scholars say that polytheism has no real ethics; if ethics are to be found, they will only be found in the philosophers. This website attempts to follow the tradition of Orpheus, which could be said to be the cradle of philosophy. Since genuine religion is concerned with the truth, philosophy is part of our religion; we are not afraid to challenge our beliefs; rather, such rational skepticism is to be encouraged. But in reality, the scholars who say that are simply ignoring very obvious facts...one cannot help thinking it is deliberate...for even the texts which are not specifically philosophical abound in admonitions to ethical behavior. For instance, one of the greatest of the ancient Greek writers, Hesiod, in his Works and Days goes on and on speaking of the justice of Zeus and how moral behavior is rewarded while wicked behavior is punished. The criticism is unfair, actually a lie, a deliberate ignoring of well known texts.
This author has heard scholars making such accusations against our religion, and then go on to praise Judaism and Christianity. They point out the so-called unethical behavior of our Gods in myths, while seemingly ignoring the unethical behavior of the monotheistic deity in the Biblical myths. What is this? We are to read the Greek myths literally, but the Judaic myths are interpreted? Well, we do not take our mythology literally; as a matter of fact, if you do so, you will usually completely misunderstand it.
Further, just because there are stories from ancient times does not mean that every single writer is an expert on the religion; each author has his own opinion; we do not accept any particular author as an unquestioned authority...we respect opinions, but we have to work out the truth for ourselves. Much more could be said about this.
And of the people, the ancient peoples of all societies have committed crimes, not just Greeks or Romans, but the Jews and Muslims as well, to say nothing of abominations committed throughout the entire history of Christianity. And enormous crimes against mankind are not at all limited to religion, as can be clearly seen from all the depravity heaped on humanity in the names of all the major intellectual movements of the 20th century...the Nazis, Fascists, Communists, and the crimes committed in the name of Democracy and as the result of capitalism.
You give Plato as an example of the ethical character of Hellenismos, but I have heard that Plato and his teacher Socrates were atheists. I will simply quote the introductory paragraph of Thomas Taylor to Book Ten of The Laws:
"The following book may be justly considered as forming one of the most important parts of the works of Plato, as it demonstrates the existence of divine natures, the immediate progeny of the ineffable principle of things; and shows that they provide for all things, and govern the universe with justice. It is also important in another point of view, as it incontestably proves that Plato firmly believed in the religion of his country; though this has often been denied by those who, being ignorant of its real nature, have had no conceptions of its unequalled sublimity." (Thomas Taylor, 1804, The Works of Plato Vol. II, Vol. X of The Thomas Taylor Series, published in the year 2007 by The Prometheus Trust [Dorset, England UK], where this quotation may be found on p. 248.)
And to confirm Mr. Taylor's opinion, I suggest you read book ten of The Laws and see for yourself. It seems that every generation which loves Plato, sees Plato as a reflection of their own beliefs. In the 1800's when so many of the scholars were Christians (even clergymen), Plato was seen as a pre-Christian monotheist. In the late 20th century when so many scholars are atheists, Plato is seen as an atheist. In book ten of The Laws, Plato gives a lengthy argument for the existence of deity. Read it for yourself. This dialogue is not commonly read and it is here in Plato's last work that many of his ideas about religion can be found.
Some scholars claim that Hellenic polytheists are not concerned with what you believe, but that they are only concerned with ritual observances. By comparison to Christianity and Islam, religions based on belief, Hellenismos appears to be markedly different and more based on what the practitioners do, rather than on a creed, but in reality, this is only in comparison to very belief-oriented systems. Hellenismos places equal emphasis on conviction (correct belief, orthodoxy) as well as noble action based on that belief (orthopraxy). I am deliberately interpreting these terms in a particular way, in the emic (inside) view of our religion rather than the etic view of the outsider. Please visit this page for further discussion of this topic: Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy in Hellenismos.
You say that Hellenismos is ethical, but I've read some of your myths and what I liked about them is that they are more realistic, some of your Gods are evil, creating natural calamities and such. The myths are literature created by a very poetic people who like to tell good stories and who were willing to embellish these stories to make them interesting and beautiful. They were created by mortals who, in most cases, were deeply inspired. But these myths are written in Mystic language. They describe things which are of the Gods and can only be understand by us to a certain degree.
As already stated, all the Gods are completely good and their intention is inclined to our benefit. They do not have an evil or "dark" side, but are beings of immense enlightenment. When you speak of natural calamities and describe such things as evil, this brings up a rather complicated subject of what is on the one hand natural but painful, and on the other, what is unnatural and hurtful. One definition of evil could be the later: that which is unnatural and hurtful. Such acts are impossible for Gods as they represent the natural law of the Kosmos and they are not petty. To be hurtful is small-minded, but the mind of a God is vast indeed.
From another perspective, evil can be defined as a type of ignorance. If a God truly is a God, he cannot be ignorant. This can be perceived with logic. If you worship the Gods, they must be worthy of worship. Therefore they must be greater than we are. If this is so, then they must be more intelligent than we are. It requires a very long conversation to arrive at the conclusions which I propose, but what I say is that evil is not really "anything;" evil is, rather, action based on the absence of something. Evil is ignorance, gross ignorance. It is difficult to demonstrate anything that could be called "evil" that cannot be shown to be gross foolishness in the long run. Consequently, if you attribute evil to the Gods, you must believe that they are ignorant. If this be so, then they are not worthy of veneration and if we were to worship such a being, we would be misled. For instance, those who followed even human leaders such as Hitler were misled. But the Gods are not ignorant; they are vastly aware and enlightened.
To clarify further, when we say that the Gods are good, we are not talking about relative situations, situations that can be defined as good or evil based on how we perceive them. We are speaking of a more basic goodness. The Gods are connected with the natural world but they do not cause natural calamities, despite what may appear in some mythology. Natural calamities are a manifestation of the phenomenal world, which is divine, but such manifestation is not the result of deliberate action by a conscious being.
The Gods, in particular the Olympians, have an interest in our progress and have dominion over the Natural Laws which govern this progress. Therefore, the Gods are well-meaning and we define this as good. The Gods have a vast understanding, and we call this enlightened, which we also define as good. There is much more that can be said on this subject.
You say that the Hellenic way is tolerant, but you have made some rather definitive statements. Tolerance is not wishy-washy. Tolerance is not vague. This website does not promote an "anything goes" philosophy. This website has a perspective, unquestionably. Among people who follow this tradition, there are very strong opinions. Those who have differing viewpoints are welcome to them, but to be tolerant does not require one to agree with every idea, and to not agree with every idea does not imply myopia (i.e. narrow-mindedness).
Perhaps you misunderstood me; to give an example, on your website, you discuss Orpheus as though he was a real person, but it seems that many scholars do not think so. You don't give both sides of the argument. In general, this website presents the tradition taught to its author. The tradition and those in Greece who practice this tradition refer to Orpheus as a historical personage; therefore Orpheus is presented as such here, and the same convention applies to much of the information found on the site. Regarding your conclusions as to what is true or false, that is your personal journey. There is a vast array of arguments for many positions regarding Hellenismos. First and foremost, this website is presenting a tradition; beyond that, if deemed useful, opposing arguments may be presented. Nothing here is designed to be a catechism of belief. It is all up to you and the Gods. For those who feel affinity to what is presented, there is opportunity to get more deeply involved through contact with people who hold this tradition and, of course, if you do not agree with the opinions expressed here, you are free to go as well.
Beyond the word tolerance, give me some other clues as to what Hellenismos is all about? Development of personal character. Heroism. Reason. Freedom. Justice and the promotion of just government. Wisdom. Music. Poetry. Medicine. Mathematics. Science. Piety.
I have heard a scholar say that to practice the ancient Greek religion, you must offer animals in sacrifice and that anyone who does not do so, is not practicing the ancient religion. It is not at all necessary to sacrifice animals in order to make offering to the Gods, in fact this author was taught that to do so is a crime. The scholar who says such a thing is ignoring information that is very well known: the students of Orpheus and Pythagoras prohibited blood sacrifice. To learn more about this, visit this page: Burnt Offerings and Blood Sacrifice in Hellenic Polytheistic Religion
I am still confused. I thought that people in the ancient world worshiped the Gods to appease them and ask for favors? We do indeed worship our Gods and we do indeed ask their assistance, but Hellenismos is a noble journey, not simply a matter of "what can I get for myself." It has a goal. It has a vast, heroic goal.
If, as you say, you don't just appease your Gods and merely ask for favors, just what do you do to please your Gods? Perhaps this is best answered by quoting Plato:
"Then what life is agreeable to God, and becoming in his followers? One only, expressed once for all in the old saying that 'like agrees with like, with measure measure,' but things which have no measure agree neither with themselves nor with the things which have. Now God ought to be to us the measure of all things, and not man, as men commonly say: the words are far more true of Him. And he who would be dear to God must, as far as is possible, be like Him and such as He is. Wherefore the temperate man is the friend of God, for he is like Him; and the intemperate man is unlike Him, and different from Him, and unjust. And the same applies to other things; and this is the conclusion, which is also the noblest and truest of all sayings, --that for the good man to offer sacrifice to the Gods, and hold converse with them by means of prayers and offerings and every kind of service, is the noblest and best of all things, and also the most conducive to a happy life, and very fit and meet. But with the bad man, the opposite is true: for the bad man has an impure soul, whereas the good is pure; and from one who is polluted, neither a good man nor God can without impropriety receive gifts. Wherefore the unholy do only waste their much service upon the Gods, but when offered by any holy man, such service is most acceptable to them." The text goes on to describe the importance of honoring one's parents, honoring the dead, giving hospitality to ones friends and fellow citizens, and much more.
(Plato Laws IV, 716c-717a, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892; found in the book entitled The Dialogues of Plato Vol.II, Random House edition, 1937, on pp. 488.)
But can your Gods grant you favors? The Gods will help you; they support you; they have an interest in your well-being and in your progress. Our tradition is a little different; if we are willing to exert effort and try, and if we are pious and ask for their help, the Gods will work by our side and assist us. There is a story from Aesop about a man whose cart was stuck in the mud (Herakles and the Waggoner). He prayed to Herakles to help him. The God appeared and said, "Get up, man, and put your shoulder to the wheel."
Another factor that must be kept clearly in view: the Gods are guardians of the Natural Laws and never violate them. Consequently, we do not promote a superstitious belief.
I have prayed to "God" and even to some of your Gods, but my prayers go unanswered. The cursory view of prayer is a major source of atheism, no doubt. Traditionally, it is said that the Gods are "a million times wiser" than us. What this really means is that their understanding and ability are vastly superior to ours and, because of that fact, their actions are understandably beyond our full comprehension. Our view of a solution to a problem may be incorrect or incomplete. The Gods wish to help us. Truly help us. They are not simply vending machines: "say a prayer, get a favor." The Gods are concerned about the development of virtue, our progress, our evolution. This evolution occurs over many, many lifetimes. It may appear to us that we are not receiving their help, but that is because we are too close to our problems to clearly understand the solution to them.
Oh, you are not skeptical? Is it inappropriate to be skeptical? It is perfectly appropriate to be skeptical. We are free. We take the philosophical attitude. We are not blind believers. It could be argued that skepticism is the preferred position.
Well, if this is the case, is it appropriate to pray at all? Yes, perfectly. "Apollo, help me in my difficulty," is an appropriate prayer. Leave the time-frame and actual solution to the God and be prepared to do everything in your ability to improve your situation. Expect nothing; that is, be humble in your expectations.
In reality, we have the freedom to pray as we wish, however you wish, and whenever you desire to; it is a highly personal matter. The Delphic Maxims say, "Pray for things possible." If we assume that the Gods will answer our prayers to our specifications, we may be very disappointed. For more views on prayer in Hellenismos, visit this page: Prayer In Hellenismos.
Can your Gods perform miracles? We do not believe in miracles per se, miracles being something that defies Natural Laws. The Gods are not above Natural Law: they are Natural Law. Just as we ourselves can change things in the world, the Gods have a much greater ability to influence phenomena and propel factors into action. Therefore, they can exert influence and impact our lives. In addition to their immense ability, the Gods are also wise in a way that is beyond our comprehension, as the wisdom of a parent is unable to be understood by an infant. We are in the situations in which we find ourselves for a reason; to escape our situation may actually not be helpful in the long run.
I would think that the very existence of a God defies natural laws. Quite the contrary. The Gods exist because of evolutionary laws in the natural world. There could be nothing more natural than the Gods.
Are the Gods above or beyond the physical world? The Gods are part of the natural world and the path of Hellenismos is an endeavor and philosophy which recognizes that the Kosmos is governed by Natural Laws. In Hellenismos, we generally avoid the term spiritual because it implies something beyond the Natural Laws, but there is no such thing as a God who is above nature or natural laws.
Don't you think that science is a better way to understand the universe? Hellenismos is a natural philosophy, consequently, it does not have an inherent conflict with science, unlike religions with creeds. Science is the friend of philosophy. However, it is not wise to view science as creedal; the discoveries of science are somewhere on a continuum from ignorance to absolute knowledge.
Frankly, I am inclined towards atheism: it seems absurd to believe in God, much less multiple Gods. Far be it for this author, who spent most of his 63 years as an agnostic, to try to convince you otherwise. If this is your conviction, you will not find an argument here. If, however, you are open to an opinion, I would propose that the agnostic position is superior to that of the atheist, and skepticism is far greater than blind belief, by a long shot. Nonetheless, I offer this for your amusement. Recently this author heard an interesting story about Joshua Bell, the great classical violinist, documented in the book The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten. Mr. Bell went into the subway disguised as a common street musician and proceeded to play his heart out, performing a dazzling concert of Bach and other masterpieces. For all practical purposes, he was ignored and viewed as a nuisance. My question: if the average person cannot recognize surpassing human genius in their midst, how could they possibly recognize a God? Frankly, I suspect that the Gods reveal themselves when they wish and for reasons of their own. If one has closed the door, the Gods never force, because they never violate our freedom, for it is said that the Gods love freedom and want freedom for all beings.
I have many doubts concerning Gods, why doesn't a God just appear and convince me? Perhaps because it is not expedient. Religions like Christianity are much more concerned with belief than we are in Hellenismos. As stated previously, the Gods generally do not care whether you believe in them or not...unless, for reasons of their own, it is expedient that you do so, and further, that you are open and not arrogant. In this author's experience, logic alone will not convince anyone of the existence of any God; one must be open to their existence and even this is not enough. It must be expedient for a God to reveal himself to you, however that revelation may present itself, but what this expediency consists of may not be to simply convince you of their existence...this would likely not be a high priority. Belief, in any case, is inferior to conviction. We don't say, "I believe in rocks." We don't say, "I believe that one plus one equals two." Such things are beyond belief. It is possible to have this type of conviction in the existence of Gods, but such conviction comes at an expedient time, if ever. Therefore, we are not particularly evangelical.
I am quite familiar with ancient mythology. You must not have studied this long enough to realize that there are different and contradictory stories about these Gods that I do not see on your website. Mythology is very complex. In general, this website presents an emic perspective, its own perspective. Simply because you do not see a familiar story about a deity, or a different variant of this deity's mythology, does not mean we are necessarily unaware of them. We have our own perspective on the myths, and within our own community, we also have our own private opinions.Your myths seem contradictory and contain objectionable things that I cannot accept. In this case you need the assistance of a knowledgeable person to explain the hidden meaning of the myth. The message within mythology is hidden between the words. If you accept the cursory interpretation of a myth, you have likely misunderstood the myth.
Who is your creator-God? This subject is too complicated to answer in a FAQ but we have a page which attempts to explain our perspective: CREATOR-GOD - ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΌΣ.
I would like to examine your Bible. Hellenismos has numerous books and many different opinions but nothing equivalent to the Christian Bible. Our theology is complex. There is no single book which contains all the truth of our path. We utilize many, many texts and also the advice of learned and spiritual people who teach orally, and, most significantly, we use our own experience and the natural world as a guide. The words found in books are hints, like a finger pointing at something; the pointing finger is a signpost, a direction, not the actual thing itself.
I would like to read your Creed. Although there are many common, fundamental beliefs in the Hellenic polytheistic tradition, there is no exclusionary creed or regula fidei which people are required to adhere to. It may seem odd to have beliefs which are not clung to firmly. There are many differing opinions and suggestions in Hellenismos and we avoid clinging to our ideas, or at least we attempt to do so, because it seems better to adopt the philosophical mind, a position which is open and curious and questioning, where imprisoning one's mind into an orthodoxy tends to close the mind into stagnation, especially concerning subjects of which it is very difficult to uncover absolute truths. The discovery of truth is incremental, and each step along the way has validity, but even brilliant insights may not encompass a complete understanding of reality.
Nonetheless, I have looked through this website and you say many things. Are you not trying to tell me how to think and believe? The website presents a tradition as understood by its author. This presentation is not designed so much as something to believe, but something to be realized. The hope is to encourage one to think things out for oneself, in the manner of the Dialogues of Plato, and to prod the true student of philosophy to great accomplishment. So, we have two things: 1) a tradition of beliefs and ideas and facts, and, 2) philosophical inquiry. These two can work hand-in-hand in an atmosphere of openness, particularly when the participants interact, but we are trying to avoid the idea that what is presented is a doctrine.
I am a Christian and I would like to present a different viewpoint to your constituency. To be frank, your viewpoint is readily available elsewhere, so this would not be welcome, nor do we desire to preach in your churches.
But are you not trying to capture the members of my congregation? No. We are not a threat to you and do not wish to convert anyone. Our assumption is that your congregation has made up it's mind and is happy with their religion.
Is not the whole purpose of your website to convince people to believe in your Gods? No. The aspiration of this website is to be of assistance to those who already have such a conviction, to be informational, not evangelical, and to demonstrate the position of its creator so as to enable those of like interest to meet and share. It is the conviction of this author that belief in a God or Gods cannot be taught.
I have a patron deity and I do not worship all your Gods. While respecting your relationship with any one deity, we would encourage you to investigate how the Dodecatheon acts as a whole, as well as the extended pantheon around the Olympians. Please visit this page: Patron Deities and Hellenismos.
I practice Religio Romana, the ancient Roman way. The Italian peninsula was littered with Greek colonies in ancient times, and with their colonies came Hellenismos, along with the Orphic tradition. Our practices somewhat differ from yours, but there is a relationship.
Are you Wiccan? No, Wicca is a different tradition. Many people discover Hellenismos through involvement with Wicca but the two are entirely different.
I've been told that the transition from Wicca to Hellenismos is smooth and seamless. Perhaps that is true of many of the Hellenic groups that exist outside of Greece, but it is not quite true with this tradition, the tradition presented on this website. It is recommended that when you approach this tradition, that you come fresh, with no preconceptions and try to learn what is presented and not simply assume that some other tradition is the same as ours.
I'm afraid that this makes me rather uncomfortable. We are not here to make people feel comfortable.
Well, all religions are really the same, don't you agree? No, not necessarily.
The ancient Greeks practiced syncretism or haven't you studied that? Yes, certainly there is talk of syncretism in the writings of Herodotos and many others. The position of this website is not to confirm or refute syncretism between religions and pantheons. The author of this website prefers to present simply the tradition which has been taught to him and to leave speculation about syncretism to those who are interested in it.
What is wrong with eclecticism? Nothing, depending on what you mean by the term. If by being eclectic you mean that you have an open mind, are tolerant, and have seen truth in many traditions, this would certainly be a good thing. But it is beyond the scope of this website to demonstrate how different religions and philosophies may agree; we are presenting the Greek tradition as it has been taught to this author. At the same time, however, we are not denying that there is much common ground between various traditions.
But there is a type of eclecticism that presents a problem. Eclecticism can be a type of Protagorean view, with all its inherent contradictions. Protagoras, the famous sophist and philosopher, made the notorious statement, "Man is the measure of all things." This idea was refuted most famously in Plato's Theaetetus. The most general interpretation of Protagoras' statement is that there really is no actual truth, but that everything is in the eye of the beholder. In contemporary terms, this is called "I'm okay; you're okay" or the " 'anything-goes' philosophy" or "this is just your view," as if there is no possibility of an accurate, objective view. This relativism, when applied to religions or philosophical systems, becomes an absurdity and an insult when views within them are not compatible, but such incompatibility is glossed over for convenience sake. Genuine philosophy is not so open that it just accepts anything as true. Such thinking is a type of deliberate intellectual laziness that commends others for their ideas so that oneself can also feel comfortable in one's own ignorance. But actual reality is what it is, despite our feelings about it. As a gross example, in mathematics, 1+1 = 2, regardless of our feelings concerning the equation.
As a final comment, eclecticism is a little like an "open relationship," and the problem with open relationships is that there is, ultimately, a dubious commitment, a frail fidelity. Eclecticism can be very exciting, just as it is exciting to have numerous sexual encounters. But tasting has limits. Eclecticism can also be very convenient; if you don't like one view, you just may be able to find another religion which may condone your view, or might be a little easier to follow. Eclecticism is appropriate for those who have not found their path; commitment is appropriate for those who have.
What is the connection between Hellenismos and some of the television programs like Hercules or Xena: Warrior Princess? None. They are a source of much misinformation about Hellenismos, things that must be unlearned before you can even begin.
You see, I am attracted to the Hellenic Gods because I love fantasy movies and stories. I believe in magic and many other things. The Hellenic tradition is the hard path of absolute reality...no fantasy here. Before you are able to get even so much as a glimpse of understanding, you must face your landlord, your boss, feed your children, or face your parents, pay all your bills. All these things, the dirt all around you, the wrinkled faces you pass on the street, cleaning a mess in your kitchen, politics, going to work every day...all these seemingly ordinary things....this is what our tradition is about. If you are not interested in being in the real world, move on and find something else.
Please don't get me wrong: this author loves fantastic stories and great works of imagination. Perhaps the creators of such works have some genuine insight. But it is critical not to blur the line between exciting lands of imagination and the real world. I promise you: the real world, the world of Hellenismos, is, in the end, far more fascinating, colorful, magical and vast than anything you will ever see on the silver screen or in books of the imagination.
This is hypocritical. Hellenic mythology is filled with fantastic stories that even a child would not believe. I view them as no different from our fantasy movies. Not by a long shot. To begin, genuine mythology describes divinity. Divinity is an expression of the natural world, but at the divine level, not the mortal level. So, from our perspective, it is fantastic. The stories concerning divine beings were created by mortals, usually in poetic language. Nonetheless, many of those who left us this inheritance were inspired. Yet they told these stories in the imagery of their time.
Even in antiquity, the myths were subject to gross misinterpretation. For this reason, Socrates (as told by Plato) disliked the myths. In his Utopian vision, as described in the Republic, Socrates insisted that myths depict the Gods accurately, without such poetic language. And his view proved to have merit when Christian critics used the myths as an easy target, interpreting them literally in order to humiliate the older religion. To give example, they called the marriage of Zeus and Hera incest. A better understanding of the myths concerning Zeus and Hera is as follows: Zeus is the king of Gods and the father of Gods and men. Hera is said to be his sister and wife. The deeper meaning of this mythology is that Zeus is the manifestation of the active cosmogonic (from "Cosmos") substance: Water (called variously, from this perspective, Water/Fire/Æther). Hera is the manifestation of the receptive cosmogonic substance: Earth. These cosmogonic substances are primal: from the beginning; therefore, poetically, they are siblings, i.e. brother and sister. Without the interaction of Earth and Water, Zeus and Hera, there is no creation; therefore, they are, poetically, married. So, you can see that this mythology has nothing to do with incest at all. The knowledge of the Gods is intimate and private. It is not meant for the mundane. Therefore, the meaning is often hidden in mystic language which cannot be understood if you do not know the keys to its interpretation.
This is your viewpoint, but I have seen other groups that have all kinds of ideas. Many people view the spiritual journey as a type of shopping, picking up things here or there that give you pleasure and ignoring the things that displease you or are difficult. This website attempts to present a particular tradition and an understanding, whether pleasurable or otherwise. The object is not to provide exotic ornaments to decorate your mind with, but to attempt to present what this author has learned and, hopefully, present what may be helpful to others. We do not condemn the ideas of other groups, but we do not condone them either; we have our own tradition and are, simply, presenting it.
Nonetheless, on your very website, you have mentioned mysteries. This is what I want. I desire to know about the esoteric, deeper things. If you wish to learn the deeper things, pick up some Plato, but you may be rather disappointed. The "deeper things" have little to do with divination, clairvoyance, burning incense, ringing bells, and chanting. As for the Mysteries, they are means for advancing your soul. To practice the Mysteries is difficult. It means facing your life, not some "other" life....THIS LIFE. The Mysteries have nothing to do with escaping your day-to-day world in exchange for something... well....mysterious. The word, after centuries of confusion, is loaded. If you want to know what the Mysteries are all about, start at ground level, forget all your preconceptions, and start fresh. The connotations that this word has picked up are flat-out incorrect and, unfortunately, are often the source of much mischief.
In my daily life, I have frequent visitations of Gods and Goddesses. I receive messages from them and they are constantly guiding me. My opinion? I have no idea. People confront me with such stories on a daily basis, stories which, by ordinary logic, would push the limits of what is considered reasonable. Do I deny them? No. Do I confirm them. No. I have no idea what to say to such claims. But I will say this. I attempt to practice the true philosophy, consequently, I am skeptical. I do not take things purely on faith. I try not to be naive. Even concerning experiences of my very own: I am skeptical. I think it is far preferable to be grounded in the day-to-day world, the world which some people like to think is very, very mundane. It is in this gritty world that I have found great inspiration.
It is easy to interpret an ordinary event in spectacular ways. For example, I enjoy leaving out food for the squirrels in my backyard. One day, I left out some nuts. In a half hour or so, I took a look outside. To my astonishment, there were, perhaps, thirty or more huge crows eating the nuts. Frankly, I have never seen so many crows all in one place in my entire life, and here they were gathered in my own backyard. Well now, crows are sacred to Apollo, who I love dearly. So I became very excited. Were the crows some kind of sign from Apollo? It would be charming and appealing if they were, but perhaps they were just many crows eating nuts. Logic tells me that the latter is far more likely than the former.The word for the visitation of a God is theophany (thæofánia; Gr. θεοφάνεια). I was taught that theophany is an extremely rare event; even the greatest of men have never experienced such a thing. Theophany, if one has been fated to have such a manifestation, may occur once in a lifetime, perhaps a couple times or a handful, but not daily. Such is the traditional teaching. Further, it must be understood that if a God appears to a person, such an individual is not necessarily any more advanced than others. Indeed, there are cases from ancient literature when the exact opposite would appear to be true, as in the dreams of Xerxes and Artabanus (Herodotus' Histories, Book VII, Chap.11-18).
How do we interpret our world? Truly, the world is divine. As such, all that occurs is an experience of the divine. But you must understand that this means everything. If you interpret the world in this fashion, how can you discriminate? But an actual appearance of a personal God who has chosen you to communicate with? There are many issues with such an idea. Are you so special, so much better than others who make no such claim, that an Olympian God, or any God, has chosen to reveal himself to you? Well, maybe he has and maybe he hasn't. I have no idea. But when people expect me to believe something completely fantastic, do not be surprised if I am skeptical. I would expect the same from you concerning my fantastic stories.
There is ample evidence of divination from antiquity. Indeed there is. There is ample evidence from ancient times of almost every type of activity that you can imagine.
Don't you believe in magic? Oh there is magic, truly fantastic, that is based on the natural world. But just because such a thing exists, and that we might even hold such a thing as precious, does not mean that we accept just anything that is presented to us as valid. As in the question above concerning theophany, this author, on an almost daily basis, is exposed to people who claim all kinds of fantastic things. If I were to accept all these things, I would have no credibility at all, and most importantly, I would lose faith in my own judgment. Further, to the best of my perception, most such claims seem to be more consistent with other traditions, claims that are made by people who demand, for whatever reason, some kind of confirmation from ours. Subjects such as magic, clairvoyance, divination, necromancy, etc., are not common subjects in Hellenismos. If such topics are your main interest, you will find no help here in furthering your studies. Again, people will claim that such practices as witchcraft etc. are known to have existed in the ancient world. Well, we completely agree. We know they existed in the ancient world. But they have little to do with what we here are interested in. Here, we are only concerned with one thing: the development of arete, the genuine virtue and excellence of true philosophy...this and nothing else, to the best of our ability. See Mayeia in the Glossary.
I am a witch and I would like to join one of your covens. We are not witches and we do not practice any kind of witchcraft, something which is forbidden to us. Those who practice witchcraft must first abandon and disavow any commitment to witchcraft before they can enter our community.You seem to be going out of your way to discourage someone who is interesting in "occult" things. Indeed, we have no interest in entertaining people who want such things. If this is your interest, you will find nothing here. The Hellenismos taught here is a genuine path. If you are looking for something that will give you ecstatic feelings and help you to avoid the difficulties of your life, move on. Hellenismos, rather than helping you escape, will draw you deeper into your life...THIS life...not some "other" life. Hellenismos is very ordinary and it is not an exotic drug to help you escape a problematic or boring life. And even if you follow this path, there are no guarantees: it is up to you. This is always the case, but following this path makes this fact painfully obvious. But, on the other hand, if you are willing, not just to say you are willing, but if you are truly willing, then you move slowly on this path. And something happens. But this something is not necessarily what you may be looking for. It is hyper-reality.
In what way is your tradition different from other groups out there? The most conspicuous difference between this group and others is that we are practicing a tradition taught directly to us by Greeks, a living tradition. And we are what is known as Philhellenes, i.e. friends of the Greeks.
Yes, I noticed that you even have many quotes from the famous Philhellene, Lord Byron, on your website. Byron was interested in not only the ancient Greeks, but he came to love the modern Greeks of his time as well, putting his own life on the line for them, for which he is regarded by Greeks of his time and our time as a great hero. Many people of our time are only interested in the ancient Greeks but could care less about the country today. Concerning this, we are very different.
In what other ways does your group differ from others? Most of the Hellenic groups that are online are either practicing a reconstruction or some kind of new creation, or some combination of these two.Some groups promote the worship of a single deity such as Apollo or Dionysos. Some are eclectic and mix their worship with several traditions. This website promotes the worship of all the Gods and particularly the worship of the twelve Olympian Gods, and we are not eclectic: we have our own specific practices.
Another way in which our group differs from that of other is that we emphasize the teachings of Orpheus. This may seem unlike some other groups who appear to exclude or minimize Orpheus from their field of interest.
Most of the other groups seem to place the emphasis on doing rituals. We also have rituals which are the worship of the Gods, but we place the emphasis on arete, virtue, as the most important, above everything else. If the soul develops true virtue, everything else will fall in place. This is the greatest worship of the Gods.
I thought that the Orphics are a small sub-sect of the Greek heritage? Some scholars present it in that way, but it is not true. Orpheus is known as the great reformer of the ancient Hellenic religion. His reforms are the inheritance of all and are incorporated in what is known as the Orphic-Pythagorean-Eleusinian legacy. It is the lineage of philosophy and the Mysteries, the deeper meaning of the religion. And in Greece, Orpheus is embraced by all as the great theologian, not just for a few, but he is the possession of all those who worship the Gods.
Yes, I have heard that this website is "Orphic." This website is Orphic indeed, but not any more Orphic than the practices of most Greeks who worship the Gods. As mentioned above, Orpheus reformed the Greek religion. And all those who practice Hellenismos benefit from his endeavor. This website, as the author has been taught, encompasses the entire Greek tradition. We are not locked into any particular period of ancient Greece, because we are not reconstructionists; we practice an existing tradition, and the teachings of Orpheus are incorporated in this living, existing tradition, along with the rest of its accumulated knowledge and wisdom.
I've been told that you possess the initiations of the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries. No. The initiations and the bulk of the practices of the Eleusinia have been lost. In particular, the genuine and selfless Magic of the Mysteries, the province of the great Goddess Hecate, which require intimate knowledge of the Natural Laws, has been lost.
Well then, what could be the purpose of your practice if this has been lost? What has been lost cannot possibly now be needed, otherwise we would already have it, for the Gods give us what we need. We possess echoes of the Mysteries; we know its purpose and we know enough. And there are some individuals in our community who know more than others. We know what we need to know and that which has been lost from antiquity will be returned to us if and when we need it, for we are looked after by Gods who care, for the Gods are the great shepherds of mankind. And even this statement contains whispers of the Mysteries, teachings and practices which contain the deeper meaning of Hellenismos, our beloved religion.
If your Orphic teaching does not include miracles and magic, as you implied earlier, what could anyone find appealing about it? Orphism is a path of tremendous promise and hope, for it engenders the very providence of mighty Zeus himself, the highest of all Gods; it is his promise and plan for mankind, indeed, for all creation. The teachings of Orpheus are the Mysteries of Dionysus, the mighty son of Zeus, and they provide great purpose to those who practice them, with a promise of a transformation of character available to all who desire to hear them with a pure heart and to use one's energy to put them into practice.
I have read that the Greeks condemn homosexuality. Of course some Greeks condemn homosexuality, yet this author knows Greeks who are entirely tolerant of homosexuality. Just as there are many disparate views in the United States or any other country, the Greek people have many different opinions. Concerning our religion, Hellenismos does not either promote or condemn homosexuality or heterosexuality: we are tolerant and we recognize and celebrate Nature, which manifests in many diverse forms, both heterosexual and the various expressions of the LGBT community and beyond. Hellenismos is a natural religion and we all are included in the natural expressions of universe.
How can you say you are tolerant when you quote Plato abundantly, a philosopher who condemned homosexuality? Did he? It would appear so in Laws (Book I, 636a-d) and again in Republic (Book III 403a-c), but if you read Symposium and Phaedrus (and others) you may arrive at another conclusion. Plato seems to generally discourage sexual gratification of any kind unless it is necessary (for producing children). In Symposium, in the speech given at the end of the dialogue by the drunken Alcibiades, we discover a romantic relationship which Socrates had with Alcibiades, but it was without sex (Platonic, as they say). Also in First Alcibiades it is obvious that their relationship is romantic and erotic. So, Plato acknowledges a legitimate erotic relationship between men, but he discourages sexual gratification, a view not promoted by this author or this website.There are many things in Platonic dialogues which raise objections to the modern mind, many of them found in Republic, such as the prohibition of poets, selective breeding of humans, euthanasia, and more, in a Utopian society which the participants of the dialogue envision. But such dialogues are, generally, thought experiments, not biblical edicts. This author disagrees with many of these ideas, but the point of the dialogues is not to agree with the various ideas presented, but, rather, to see the way dialectic functions and how various ideas could potentially play out. So, like everything in our religion, we must weigh things for ourselves.
I have read that the Greeks who practice the ancient religion are interested only in those people of Greek blood and that they believe that the ancient religion can only legitimately be practiced by them. But this is not the way of the great Greek teachers of the past, nor is it the way of the great Greek teachers of our time, who accept people not because of their blood, but because of the beauty of their soul. The Greek teachers and practitioners who are known to this author do not separate by race. They state that the Gods of Hellenismos are the supreme Gods of the entire universe, therefore, how could the Gods be only for those of Greek blood? Hellenismos should not be confused with nationalistic trends, trends which have surfaced in many countries, as well as Greece. Of course the Greeks have every right to love their religion and their country and to be proud of their heritage, and they, simply by who they are, will always have a special relationship with this religion, for its traditions were fostered by their ancestors and continue to be preserved by the Greek people today. But on the other hand, Hellenismos reflects the very reality of the Cosmos itself and is, therefore, by its very nature, universal and for all people.
I have read that the ancient Greek religion in contemporary Greece is connected with fascist causes. There are extreme right-wing groups in Greece who hold fascist views, as currently exist in many countries. Such groups tend to make a lot of noise and draw a great deal of attention, particularly since there is such an economic problem in the country causing great misery for the people. Furthermore, it must be understood that there are widely divergent political views in Greece, and those who practice the old religion do not all agree in their politics. This community...our community... avoids any communication with fascist groups and we do not agree or identify with them. To the contrary, the Greeks acquainted with this author have exactly the opposite views and any such sentiments should never be confused with our religion. But yes and very unfortunately, there are some who hold these views even of those who practice the ancient religion, but we abhor such views and struggle against them as being contrary to the religion.
What is the best preparation to follow Hellenismos? Perhaps the best preparation to practice Hellenismos is to study history, from ancient times to the present. If those who educated you left this area wanting, you must educate yourself. The understanding of history will greatly illuminate your mind and expand your understanding of everything, such that when the teachings of Hellenismos are presented, they will make sense. Once this is grasped, you will begin to find Hellenismos in everything.
You have said that I do not have to be of Greek ethnicity to practice this religion. You have said that I can be homosexual and still practice this religion. Okay, but surely there must be something which disqualifies someone from these teachings. We do not discriminate based on things which are beyond a person's control; in other words, we do not discriminate based on age, race, color of skin, ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. - all the usual things thought of in regard to discrimination. On the other hand, we do not teach people who have approached this religion for improper reasons. Occasionally, we encounter individuals who have attempted to deceive us in order to obtain secrets of the Mysteries, but genuine religion cannot function without honesty. Usually, whatever people are involved with is workable if the heart is in the right place, but there are some things which we do not allow into this tradition, for instance, the practice of magic. If someone is serious about becoming part of this tradition, they are asked to abandon such practices. And if you want this religion, this should not be just another religion for your "collection," so to speak. In the beginning, you are unsure, you don't know. This is logical. But people who are not willing to make a commitment must move on.
Although I find many of the ideas on this page interesting, I am not sure if I should choose Hellenismos as my religion. How can I decide? Those who come to follow Hellenismos somehow discover that they already have a connection; the decision is not to choose a new religion, but rather to commit oneself to something one already finds oneself connected to. The idea of "conversion" is not a Hellenic idea, but more of a Christian idea. If the contents of this page sound a bit like an advertisement for people looking for a religion, it is not intended as such. This FAQ is designed to answer simple questions for people curious about Hellenismos. It is not intended to convince anyone about the existence of God or Gods, a rather futile endeavor, but simply to clarify many ideas about our traditions.
Well then, who are you looking for? In reality, we are not looking for anyone, but we are available to diligent individuals who feel a connection with what is being presented here and who are willing to start fresh, work hard, and learn our tradition. We are trying to make ourselves and our resources accessible to serious and honest individuals, people who want to make a difference with their life, to make a difference in the world, people who wish to deepen their relationship with Hellenismos, to find a way to put their convictions into practice by means of learning a legitimate tradition.
How can I get involved with this? If you are genuinely interested in learning this way of life, send an email and explain your interest to email@example.com. You should be willing to meet in person if you live near Chicago, or if you are not close, you should be willing to speak over the phone or Skype. You must be at least 18 years of age, sincere, and willing to start fresh and study diligently. The lessons are completely free of charge. The author of this website is located in Lombard, Illinois, DuPage County, near Cook County and near Chicago, USA. There are also people in other cities both in the USA and beyond.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
Wherefore my counsel is that we hold fast ever to the heavenly way and follow after justice and virtue always, considering that the soul is immortal and able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus shall we live dear to one another and the the Gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well with us both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years... (Plato's Republic 621, the closing statement, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892; found in the 1937 Random House edition of The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. I, pp. 878-879)
I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living... (Plato Apologia 38, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892; found in the 1937 Random House edition of The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. I, p. 420)
Most men do not think things in the way they encounter them, nor do thy recognize what they experience, but believe their own opinions. Heraclitus (Heraclitus, Fragment IV, quoted from Clement, Stromateis II.8.1, translated by Charles H. Kahn in his book The art and thought of Heraclitus, 1979, found in the 1995 edition on pp. 28-29)
It is indeed the habit of mean men to disbelieve what is authoritative, but do you learn as the assurances of my Muse urge, after the argument has been divided within your breast. Empedocles (Empedocles, Fragment 6(4), translated by M.R. Wright in his book Empedocles: The Extant Fragments, 1981, found in the 2001 edition on p. 163)
Opinion is called the queen of the world; it is so; for when reason opposes it, it is condemned to death. It must rise twenty times from its ashes to drive away the usurper. Voltaire
We cannot repeat too frequently that dogmas differ, but that morality is the same among all men who make use of their reason. Morality proceeds from God, like light; our superstitions are only darkness. Reflect, reader; pursue the truth, and draw the consequences. Voltaire
Remember the dreams of the child. Anonymous
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité! French Revolution
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), Protestant pastor and outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler who spent the last seven years of WWII under Nazi rule in concentration camps.
PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this Glossary, you will find fascinating stories. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally; a literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is often concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
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