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Hear golden Titan, whose eternal eye
With broad survey, illumines all the sky. 
Self-born, unwearied in diffusing light, 
And to all eyes the mirrour of delight: 
Lord of the seasons, with thy fiery car 
And leaping coursers, beaming light from far: 
With thy right hand the source of morning light, 
And with thy left the father of the night. 
Agile and vig'rous, venerable Sun, 
Fiery and bright around the heav'ns you run. 
Foe to the wicked, but the good man's guide, 
O'er all his steps propitious you preside: 
With various founding, golden lyre, 'tis mine 
To fill the world with harmony divine. 
Father of ages, guide of prosp'rous deeds, 
The world's commander, borne by lucid steeds, 
Immortal Jove, all-searching, bearing light, 
Source of existence, pure and fiery bright: 
Bearer of fruit, almighty lord of years, 
Agil and warm, whom ev'ry pow'r reveres. 
Great eye of Nature and the starry skies, 
Doom'd with immortal flames to set and rise: 
Dispensing justice, lover of the stream, 
The world's great despot, and o'er all supreme. 
Faithful defender, and the eye of right, 
Of steeds the ruler, and of life the light: 
With founding whip four fiery steeds you guide, 
When in the car of day you glorious ride. 
Propitious on these mystic labours shine, 
And bless thy suppliants with a life divine.

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Iliouyænna (Æliougenna, Heliogenna, Heliougenna, Iliougenna; Gr. Ηλιούγεννα, ΗΛΙΟΥΓΕΝΝΑ) 
Pronounced: ee-lee-OO-yai-nah) 

The Iliouyænna is a traditional and ancient holiday of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. It is celebrated in December, commencing just after the the Winter Solstice. The 21st begins the month of Aigokǽrohs (Latin: Capricorn; Gr. Αἰγοκέρως) and we now enter of a series of holidays that extend into January.

Solstice is a Latin word. Its etymology is Sol ("the Sun") + stetit or sistere, ("stands still"). During the two solstices of each year the sun appears to stand still in the sky at mid-day for about three days before and after, when its elevation does not appear to change. Sol is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Ílios
(Helios; Gr. Ἥλιος). Ílios is the Sun or the God of the Sun
The Greek word for the solstice is Iliostásio (Gr. Ηλιοστάσιο, singular. Ηλιοστάσια, plural). The Solstice, being a phenomenon of the nature, was important throughout the ancient world.  

The Iliouyænna is celebrated the day following the Solstice, on the 22nd. The solstice is the shortest day of the year; but immediately after the solstice, the days of sunlight grow longer, hence the "birth." It is this birth which we are celebrating on the Iliouyænna. It is the birth (γέννα) of Ílios (Helios), i.e. the birth of the Sun.

The Iliouyænna has also been called the birthday of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) because Apóllohn is often equated with the Sun in mythology (in Ovid, for instance, and some of the Neoplatonists), but in reality they are separate deities and the Iliouyænna is not Apóllohn's birthday. Apóllohn, nonetheless, is always associated with light and how light symbolizes the radiance of his wisdom, and while he is not the same deity, he has dominion over Ílios. 

The Iliouyænna has also been called the birthday of Diónysos (Dionysus; Gr. Διόνυσος). This can be construed from Macrobius in the Saturnalia (I.18.9-10) who explains the different appearances of the God in a child, as a young man, bearded, and even reference to the sun, with Diónysos presented as an infant at his shrine in Egypt on the winter solstice. The birth of Diónysos is celebrated just after the solstice, possibly on a day that the ancient people thought was the solstice (Ἐπιφάνιος Πανάριον 51.22.3-11, the author referring to Jan. 6 but this was likely Dec. 25th in the reformed Julian calendar, thought of in antiquity as the winter solstice.)

The Iliouyænna is celebrated on December 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Ideally, begin the festivity at dawn on the 22nd (some begin at dawn on the 21st as a different opinion), but any time during the day is appropriate. After the Iliouyænna, we commence the Twelve Days of Diónysos οn the 25th of December, making this a very festive season.

It is not permitted to describe Orphic ritual publicly.  If you are sincerely interested in learning more, contact:

ÍLIOS [2] 
And now, O Muse Calliope, daughter of Zeus, begin to sing of glowing Helios whom mild-eyed Euryphaessa, the far-shining one, bare to the Son of Earth and starry Heaven. For Hyperion wedded glorious Euryphaessa, his own sister, who bare him lovely children, rosy-armed Eos and rich-tressed Selene and tireless Helios who is like the deathless Gods. As he rides in his chariot, he shines upon men and deathless Gods, and piercingly he gazes with his eyes from his golden helmet. Bright rays beam dazzlingly from him, and his bright locks streaming from the temples of his head gracefully enclose his far-seen face: a rich, fine-spun garment glows upon his body and flutters in the wind: and stallions carry him. Then, when he has stayed his golden-yoked chariot and horses, he rests there upon the highest point of heaven, until he marvelously drives them down again through heaven to Ocean. Hail to you, lord! Freely bestow on me substance that cheers the heart.


There is a folk tradition in Greece concerning the Twelve Days of Christmas. These holidays correspond exactly with the Twelve Days of Diónysos, which are concealed or covered by the Christian holidays, so say the Greeks who practice Ællinismόs (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. The Kallikántzari (Gr. Καλλικάντζαροι) are mischievous creatures similar to the Irish faeries, gnomes, goblins, and elves. They become terribly excited during these holidays and cause all kinds of trouble until they are "polluted" by the Orthodox priests with holy water on the last of the Twelve Days, only for them to rise again next year at Christmas. There is a suspicion that the Kallikántzari are none other than our blessed Gods, "Lilliputianized" to diminish their importance, and that, perhaps, they become exuberant at the birth of mighty Diónysos and of his joyous celebrations every year.

"Quick, begone! we must begone,
Here comes the pot-bellied priest,
With his censer in his hand
And his sprinkling-vessel too;
He has purified the streams
And he has polluted us!"  [3]

"Many attempts have been made to account for the Kallikantzari. Perhaps the most plausible explanation of the outward form, at least, of the uncanny creatures, is the theory connecting them with the masquerades that formed part of the winter festival of Dionysus and are still to be found in Greece at Christmastide." [3]

The Twelve Days of Diónysos

The Twelve Days of Diónysos is a festival in honor of Diónysos and all the Twelve Olympian Gods. It begins at sunset on December 24th of each year. To learn more about the holiday, visit this page: Twelve Days of Diónysos 

Birthday of the Unconquered Sun:

The Romans celebrated the Dies Solis Invicti Nati, "the birthday of the Unconquered Sun" on December 25th for the same reason as the Iliouyænna (Heliogenna; Gr. Ηλιούγεννα). It is on or around the 25th that one can perceive the first lengthening of the daylight hours, hence the "birthday."

"It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnised on that day." (Bishop Jacob Dionysius Bar-Salabi, as found in Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries by Ramsay MacMullin1997Yale Univ. Press, p. 155))



The Romans celebrated a feast of Diónysos, instituted by Romulus, called variously the Brumae, the Brumalia, or the Hiemalia. It was also practiced in Greece as a foreign festival during the period of the (Roman) empire. There is confusion regarding the dates of Brumalia, some saying that it was celebrated twice a year, vix. on the 12th of the calends of March, and on the 18th of the calends of September. Others say that the Brumalia was celebrated on the winter solstice. [4]

More Roman Winter Festivities:  

During this same season, the Romans celebrated the birthday of Mithras and also the feast of Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn. The Saturnalia was a very popular holiday with much feasting, gift-giving, and merriment. There was a custom of holding a banquet whereby the slaves were served by their masters, a custom which has been preserved in the military of some countries with the officers serving their troops at Christmas.

The Sabine tutelary Goddess Strenia (Salus) was honored in ancient Rome on January 1. The people exchanged various gifts (strenae) of  figs, dates, honey, branches of laurel and palm, and other things, in hope of a year of joy and happiness. [5] The fruits were gilded. [6]

PLEASE NOTE: Ritual in our tradition is not permitted to be displayed in a public place, such as this website. If you have a sincere desire to learn more, please write:


(Abbreviations can be found on the bottom of this page:  Glossary Home)


trans. Thomas Taylor, 1792.


trans. H. G. Evelyn-White, 1914 Loeb Classical Library

[3] Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan by Clement A. Miles, 1912; p. 245.

[4] Bell's New Pantheon; or, Historical Dictionary of the Gods, Demi-Gods, Heroes, and Fabulous Personages of Antiquity, by John Bell, 1790. Printed by and for J. Bell, Bookseller to his royal highness the Prince of Wales at the British Library, Strand. (London, England), p. 141.

[5] Ovid, Fasti, i.185-190.

[6] Martial, viii.33,11

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The 
Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kosmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς). 

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. 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 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.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

PHOTO COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: The many pages of this website incorporate images, some created by the author, but many obtained from outside sources. To find out more information about these images and why this website can use them, visit this link: Photo Copyright Information

DISCLAIMER: The inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) with the views of by the external sources from which they were obtained.

Further, the inclusion of images, quotations, and links from outside sources does not in any way imply agreement (or disagreement), approval (or disapproval) by of the contents or views of any external sources from which they were obtained.

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For answers to many questions: Hellenismos FAQ

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