B - An Illustrated Glossary of Hellenic Polytheism
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.
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ABBREVIATIONS: A list of abbreviations used in the glossary can be found on this page: GLOSSARY HOME PAGE
Β, β, ϐ (Beta) - Greek words beginning with the letter Beta will, eventually, be spelled with the letter V on this website. Pronunciation is a matter of controversy in the scholastic world; the convention in Greece is to pronounce Beta as a V would sound in English. Even the name of the letter is pronounced veetah in Greece. Being that the author has ties with teachers in Greece, his loyalties are to the Greek pronunciation. For some time, the reader will find a mixture of the two spellings for which the author apologizes; eventually they will all be found under the letter V. The diphthong MU-PI (μπ) when found at the beginning of a Greek word is pronounced like the b in boy or blossom; when the diphthong MU-PI is found inside a word, a slight m is heard before the b-sound. See Pronunciation of Ancient Greek and Transliteration of Ancient Greek.
Babactes - See Vavaktes.
Bacchai - See Vakkhai.
Baccheus, Bakkheus, Vakkheus, Vakcheus - See Vakkheus.
Balder - Scandinavian name for Apollon (CM p.20)
Ball - See Sphaira.
Banquets of the Twelve Olympians - The Banquets of the Twelve Olympians is contemporary ritual developed to help incorporate the worship of all twelve Olympian Gods into daily practice. For more information write HellenicGods@comcast.net.
barbarian - (Gr. βάρβᾰρος, ΒΆΡΒᾸΡΟΣ; pronounced varvaros) a term frequently found in ancient literature. To the Greeks, when foreigners spoke, it sounded like "ba-ba-ba-ba." As simple an explanation as this is, it is actually true. So, originally "barbarian" merely meant someone who did not speak Greek. After the Persian Wars, the word assumed a more derogatory meaning.
barbitos - See varvitos.
Barriginæ - The Barriginæ were Keltic priestesses of a Gaulish deity, presumed to be Vakkhos, on the island of Sena in the British islands opposite Osismici (ed., or Osistamnii, likely just the names of the tribes of the local peoples, the Ostimii), where there was an oracle to this God. There were nine of these priestesses and they were in service to the seafaring peoples of that area. The Barriginæ were said to possess extraordinary powers such as curing incurable illnesses, bringing on strong winds, changing themselves into animals, and upsetting the sea. (source: Pomponius Melas's De Situ Orbis 3.6)
Basileus - See Vasilefs.
Basilios Bessarion - See Vasilios Vissarion.
Bassareus - See Vassareus..
Basses - surname of Apollo from a town named Bassæ in Arcadia where was a temple to the God. (CM p.20)
Battiadae - See Vattiadae.
Battus I - See Vattos I.
bay-laurel - Please visit this page: BAY LAUREL - DAPHNE - ΔΆΦΝΗ.
bees and honey - Bees are symbolic of the nymphs due to the story that the nymph Melissa (some sources say Melisseus, a male rustic daemon) who discovered and taught the use of honey. The nymphs are sometimes called Mellisae because of this. Aristaios learned how to domesticate bees from the nymphs and, in turn, taught this to all mankind. The honey which is produced by the bees has a golden color. Gold is the color most associated with all the Gods. Honey will "keep" for an incredibly long period of time without deteriorating and it has the ability to preserve other foods that it is mixed with. Consequently, honey is a symbol of the immortality of the Gods and the immortality of the soul.
Belatucadua - appellation for Apollon in Briton. (CM p.20)
Belenus or Beleus :
1) a name for Apollo with the Gauls (CM p.20)
2) Beleus - Beleus is a Keltic God thought to be Apollo, worshiped in Northern Italy, the Eastern Alps, and Southern Gaul. The name likely means shining, to give light.
The historian Herodianos (Ab Excessu Divi Marci 8,3,8) records "that in 238 AD, when Aquileia was beseiged by the emperor Maximinus, oracles were in circulation which promised that the town would be protected by its tutelary God Belenus/Apollo. Later, soldiers of Maximinus are said to have declared that they saw in the sky over the city an image of the God intervening in the battle. This event is also recorded in the history of the Roman emperors known as the Historia Augusta (Maximini duo 22,I)."
(source: Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture by Bernhard Maier, 2000, pp. 33-34)
belief, faith, and opinion - See pistis; see doxa.
benzoin - the resin of Styrax benzoin, used as incense. It is utilized as a substitute for the unavailable resin called storax. See this article for more information: Storax
Bessarion, Besilios - See Vasilios Vissarion.
binding a God - This practice is forbidden but also absurd. The practitioner is said to 'bind' a god to do his or her will. A God can never be bound as the Gods are completely free and manifestly more powerful than any mortal being. When an individual believes that they are binding a deity, they are dealing with beings of what is called the lower sky, entities masquerading as Gods. The end result is that the practitioner does not even succeed in binding this being, but is deceived by the entity and has surrendered his freedom to it. The Gods want only freedom for us, therefore, if one were to submit to such bondage, there is no admittance to the Sacred Mysteries, by one's own freely made decision.
A section of the Odyssey is sometimes cited to justify the practice of "binding a god." It is found in Book IV, verses 408 through 641. In this passage, Menelaus wrestles Proteus to obtain knowledge. As he struggles, the "Old Man of the Sea" assumes many disguises: a great lion, a serpent, a panther, a wild boar, a torrent of water, a massive tree. But Menelaus would not give up and he finally is given the answers he has come for. This story, as in so much of mythology, is an analogy. Proteus is the great struggle of the soul which all men who seek arete must conquer; if one perseveres, a great award awaits: one finds the truth one seeks. So, if understood properly, one can see that this story has nothing to do with "binding" a God.
Bitias - Please visit this page: KLÆOVIS AND VITON - ΚΛΈΟΒΙΣ ΚΑΙ ΒΊΤΟΝ. See also the article on Kouros.
Bito - Please visit this page: KLÆOVIS AND VITON - ΚΛΈΟΒΙΣ ΚΑΙ ΒΊΤΟΝ. See also the article on Kouros.
Biton - Please visit this page: KLÆOVIS AND VITON - ΚΛΈΟΒΙΣ ΚΑΙ ΒΊΤΟΝ. See also the article on Kouros.
blood sacrifice - the ritual offering of an animal to a God. See this article for more information: Burnt Offerings
Boægenæs - see Vougænæs.
Boedromius - See Voedromios.
Bomos - See Vohmos.
Boreas - See
boys and children - "Pythagoras pointed out that boys were most dear to the divinities; and he pointed out that, in times of great drought, cities would send boys as ambassadors to implore rain from the Gods, in the persuasion that divinity is especially attentive to children.....That is also the reason why the most philanthropic of the Gods, Apollo and Love (ed. Eros), are, in pictures, universally represented as having the ages of boys." (The words of Iamblichus from The Life of Pythagoras, translated in 1818 by Thomas Taylor, edited for readability by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie in The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, 1988 edition, p.68)
"This little creature is full of joy. He has not food to eat every day, yet he goes to the show every evening, if he sees fit. He has no shirt to his back, no shoes to his feet, no roof over his head; he is like the flies in the air who have none of all these things. He is from seven to thirteen years of age, lives in troops, ranges the streets, sleeps in the open air, wears an old pair of his father's pantaloons down about his heels, an old hat of some other father, which covers his ears, and a single suspender of yellow listing, runs about, is always on the watch and on the search, kills time, colours pipes, swears like an imp, hangs about the wine-shop, knows thieves and robbers, is hand in glove with the street-girls, rattles off slang, sings smutty songs, and, withal, has nothing bad in his heart. This is because he has a pearl in his soul, innocence; and pearls do not dissolve in mire. So long as man is a child, God wills that he be innocent. If one could ask of this vast city: what is that creature? She would answer: 'it is my bantling.' " (The author commenting about the boys of the streets of Paris. From Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, Marius, Book First, Chapter I. Translated by Charles E. Wilbour in 1862. As can be found in the 1998 Everyman's Library edition, Alfred A. Knopf, on p.573)
Bræsagenes - See Vresagenes
Bræseus - See Vreseus.
Bræssaios or Vressaios - See Vressaios.
Branchides - appellation of Apollo from the word Branchidæ, a title of the priests of Apollo Didymaeus at Didyma (near Miletus). They were named after Banchus, son of Apollo, who founded the temple at Didyma. (CM p.20)
Branchus - son of Apollo who founded the temple of Apollo at Didyma, where was an oracle. (CM p.20)
Brisæus or Brisaios - See Vrisæos
Briseus - See Vriseus.
Bromios or Bromius - See Vromios.
brumal - an adjective used by Thomas Taylor in the Hymns of Orpheus, meaning Bacchic.
As an example, from Taylor's translation of the Orphic hymn to Venus:
"Thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod,
Awful attendant of the brumal God:
Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight,
Mother of Loves, whom banquetings delight;"
1) Brumal is derived from Brumus, an ancient name of Bacchus among the Romans. (BNP, v.1, p. 141) (CM p.180) The Roman word Brumus is likely derived from the Greek Βρόμιος (Bromios)
2) Also of interest: Brumal is a somewhat archaic term referring to the shortest day, i.e., the winter solstice. Therefore, it can mean "wintry", characteristic of winter. The winter solstice is just before the beginning of the Twelve Days of Dionysos.
3) Brumal is derived from the Latin brumalis. See the Glossary entry for Brumalis.
Brumalia - The Romans celebrated a feast of Dionysos, 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 calends of September. Others say that the Brumalia was celebrated on the winter solstice or the 25th of December. (BNP p.141)
Brumalis - (Latin) brumalis, I. Of or pertaining to the winter solstice, or shortest day. II. Wintry, of winter. Brumalis is derived from the Latin bruma, I. the shortest day in the year, the winter solstice. Brumalis refers to the tropic of Capricorn or simply (ed. the zodiacal sign of) Capricorn (ed. Ægokeros) II. A. the winter time, winter (mostly poetic usage). B. In the most gen. sense, poet. a year. (both brumalis and bruma: LD 252, center column)
See also brumal and Brumus.
ABBREVIATIONS: A list of abbreviations used in the glossary can be found on this page: GLOSSARY HOME PAGE