W, X, and Y

An Illustrated Glossary of Hellenic Polytheism



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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

Water - See Ýdohr.

Water-Fire-Aithír are all Synækhís Ousíacontinuous substance (in contrast to Earth, the Mæristí Ousía or divisible substance). In Orphic literature, Water-Fire-Aithír are usually simply called Water (Ýdohr; Gr. Ὕδωρ). See Ýdohr.

Wheat-Ear - Wheat-Ear is the zodiacal month of Virgo.  See Stachys and Parthenos.

Wholeness - See olotis.

Will, the - See Voulí.

wine - Wine and its intoxicating character is a major symbol in Hellenic mythology.  Its primary association is with Ælefthærefs Dionysos, the great liberator.  Wine is representative of the divine Æther of Zeus' influence on the soul.  Red-wine is symbolic of the blood of Dionysos, and therefore is used in libation as a type of sacrifice.

Wisdom - See Phrónisis. Please visit this page: Virtue in Hellenismos.

words and names - Homer says that the Gods call things by their correct and natural names, names which may be different than those which mortals use.  (Plato Kratylos 391d; Homer Iliad xxi.332-80, xx.74, xiv.291, and ii.813.

Ξ, ξ - Xei (Xi; Gr. χεῖ, ΧΕΙ) is pronounced: ĭk-SEE, and the letter sounds like ks or the x in ax or box. See Pronunciation of Ancient Greek and Transliteration of Ancient Greek.

xenia (feminine) and xenios (masculine) - (Greek: ξενία, xenía)  The simple definition of xenía would be hospitality.   Xenía is often defined as the guest/host relationship whereby hospitality is a religious duty protected by Zeus Xeneos.   It is the reciprocal relationship between two xenoi.  Xenoi is plural, xenos is singular.  A xenos is defined in five ways:  guest, host, stranger, foreigner, and friend.  If you try to imagine a traveler  approaching a home in a society that did not have hotels, you can see where these definitions come from.   In its most basic meaning, xenía requires that we do not turn our back on one who is in need and in a vulnerable position.   The individual who receives hospitality is then bound to the host in a reciprocal relationship.

"For Homer says that all the Gods, and especially the God of strangers (ed. Zeus), are companions of the meek and just, and visit the good and evil among men."  (Plato's Sophist, 216, translated by Benjamin Jowett, 1892; found in the 1937 Random House edition of The Dialogues of Plato, Volume II, p.221)

Xóanon - (Gr. Ξόανον, ΞΟΑΝΟΝ. Plural: Ξόανα) The Xóanon is an archaic wooden statue of a God, rarely showing precise features, often believed to have fallen from heaven. There is the famous story of the Xóanon of Ártæmis Orthía, (Gr. Ἄρτεμις Ὀρθία), stolen from Taurikí (Taurica or Tauride; Gr. Ταυρικὴ) by Orǽstis (Orestes; Gr. Ὀρέστης) and his sister Iphiyǽneia (Iphigenia; Gr. Ἰφιγένεια). There are no original Xóana that have survived from antiquity. We know what they looked like because copies were created in stone which are extant. These copies were made when a new colony was created; they were sent off with the new colonists.

Υ, υ (UPSILON) - The Greek letter UPSILON (pronounced eepseelohn) sounds like a long e, like the double e in feeknee, or see; never like the y in sky or by.  This long e sound is common to the Greek letters IOTA and ETA, as well as the graphemes EPSILON-IOTA  and OMICRON-IOTA.  This presents a dilemma when creating a convention for transliteration.  We have decided to represent UPSILON with the y, requiring the student to remember that when encountering a transliterated Greek word with a y, it should always be pronounced like a long e, not like the y in sky or by.  See Pronunciation of Ancient Greek and Transliteration of Ancient Greek

The English letter Y, y is also being used in certain circumstances to represent Γ, γ (GAMMA), when gamma appears before ε and the diphthong αι, and all letters and diphthongs which have the ee sound as in see (η, ι, υ, ει, οι, υι). In these cases, the gamma, here represented by Y, y, sounds like the y in yes.

Yænæsiouryikón, to - (genesiourgicon, to; Gr. το γενεσιουργικόν, ΤΟ ΓΕΝΕΣΙΟΥΡΓΙΚΟΝ) Yænæsiouryikón, or in English, the Genesiurgic, is that which is effective of generation. (TTS XV p. 9)

Yǽnæsis - (genesis; Gr. γένεσις, ΓΕΝΕΣΙΣ) Yǽnæsis is genesis, generation. The word is used by the Neoplatonists and defined as "a flowing condition of being, or a subsistence in becoming to be. Hence, το γίγνεσθαι (ed. to yígnæsthai) signifies an extension in subsistence, or a tendency to being." (TTS XV p. 9)

Yǽnæsis of the Gods - Please visit these pages: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony and Orphic Cosmogony and Theogony

Yænǽthlia - (Genethlia; Gr. Γενέθλια) Yænǽthlia is the birthday of a God, or simply any birthday.  See also Æpivatírion.

Yǽnito - (Genoito; Gr. γένοιτο, ΓΈΝΟΙΤΟ, from γίγνομαι.The word Yǽnito is said silently at the end of every ritual by each participant, similar to the Christian word amen. The meaning of Yǽnito is: 'May this be done."  

Yǽnito is difficult to find in an Greek-English dictionary because it is a form of a somewhat dissimilar looking word, Yígnomai, (Gr. γίγνομαι): come into being. There are many instances of the word in ancient literature, including the writings of Ómiros (Homer; Gr. Ὅμηρος) and Aiskhýlos (Aeschylus; Gr. Αἰσχύλος): Perseus Search Results.

Yaia - (Gaia; Gr. Γαῖα, ΓΑΙΑ = Yi or Ge; Gr. Gή, ΓΗ) Yaia (or Yi) is the ancient Greek word for Earth Earth is one of the two basic material kozmogonic substances. The other kozmogonic substance is Ýdohr (Water-Fire-Aithír). Earth is receptive female. Ýdohr is active, formative male. Earth is divisible substance (Μεριστή Οὐσία). Ýdohr is continuous substance (Συνεχής Οὐσία).
Yaia is the Goddess, who, in the mythology, is depicted as married to Ouranós. The word ouranós means "sky" and the word is poetically used to refer to Aithír (Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ), and Aithír is kozmogonically connected with Water, so the marriage of Yaia and Ouranós represents the interaction of the two kozmogonic material substances, Earth and Water.
- See Ýdohr. See Elements, The ClassicalAlso, please visit this page: Mystic Materialism

Ÿákinthos (Hyacinth; Gr. Ὑάκινθος) Ÿákinthos was a Spartan prince who was loved by both Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων) and Zǽphyros (Zephyrus; Gr. Ζέφυρος) The parentage of Ÿákinthos varies depending what source you read but it is usually given as King Amýklas (Amyclas; Gr. Ἀμύκλας) of Spárta (Gr. Σπάρτα) and Diomídi (Diomede; Gr. Διομήδη). 

While Apóllohn and the prince were playing quoits, Zǽphyros became jealous and blew the discus off course, occasionally, Zǽphyros is not mentioned in some accounts,. The discus killed Ÿákinthos. From his blood Apóllohn caused a flower to grow, the hyacinth, the larkspur, or perhaps an iris; no one really knows which modern-day flower is actually meant in the myths. The locale was Amýklæs (Amykles; Gr. Αμύκλες) in Lakædaimohn (Lacedaemonia; Gr. Λακεδαίμων) (near Spárta).

A great festival was held in Spárta in honor of Ÿákinthos called the Yäkínthia (Hyacinthia; Gr. Ὑακίνθια) Pausanias' Guide to Greece 3.19.3-4

Yassou - (Gr. γεια σου, ΓΕΙΑ ΣΟΥ) - Yassou is the traditional Greek salutation used in the Hellenic community meaning to your health or just hello. It is more informal and not so religious. Cf. Khairæ.

Ýdohr - (Hydor; Gr. Ὕδωρ, ΥΔΩΡÝdohr is WaterÝdohr is one of the two basic material kozmogonic substances. Water is a God, characterized as male and formativeÝdohr is the Synækhís Ousíathe continuous substance. The other and complementary kozmogonic substance is Earth. Ýdohr is active; Earth is receptive. Ýdohr is continuous; Earth is divisible. Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) calls these two substances the One (Monad) and the Other. In Orphic literature, the word Water usually represents all three types of Synækhís SubstanceWater-Fire-Aithír. See Earth. See Water-Fire-AithírSee Elements, The Classical.

Ýdra - (Hydra; Gr. Ὕδρα, ὝΔΡΑ) The Ýdra in mythology is a murderous serpent with nine heads, each of which, when cut off, grow two more in its place. The Ýdra symbolizes the ego, not in the Freudian sense, but in the ordinary meaning of exaggerated self-importance. The Ýdra must be conquered, a most difficult task, as the ego is well-equipped to endlessly find new means of defending itself.

About the Lærnaian Ýdra (Lernaean Hydra; Gr. Λερναία Ὕδρα) from William Smith's Dictionary: "This monster, like the lion, was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and was brought up by Hera. It ravaged the country of Lernae near Argos, and dwelt in a swamp near the well of Amymone: it was formidable by its nine heads, the middle of which was immortal. Heracles, with burning arrows, hunted up the monster, and with his club or a sickle he cut off its heads; but in the place of the head he cut off, two new ones grew forth each time, and a gigantic crab came to the assistance of the hydra, and wounded Heracles. However, with the assistance of his faithful servant Iolaus, he burned away the heads of the hydra, and buried the ninth or immortal one under a huge rock. Having thus conquered the monster, he poisoned his arrows with its bile, whence the wounds inflicted by them became incurable. Eurystheus declared the victory unlawful, as Heracles had won it with the aid of Iolaus. (Hes. Theog. 313, &c.; Apollod. ii. 5. § 2; Diod. iv. 11; Eurip. Herc. Fur. 419, 1188, Ion, 192; Ov. Met. ix. 70; Virg. Aen. viii. 300; Paus. ii. 36. § 6, 37. § 4, v. 5. § 5; Hygin. Fab. 30.)"  (This essay found in DGRBM Vol.II, p.395; a sub-topic of the article Heracles)

Lexicon entry: ὕδρα, water-serpent, but esp. of the Lernaean hydra, Hes.Th.313; Ὕδραν τέμνειν, prov. of labour in vain, because two heads sprang up for every one which was cut off. II. name of a constellation, = ὕδρος. (L&S p. 1844, left column)

Ydrána - (Hydrana; Gr. Ὑδράνᾱ, ΥΔΡΑΝΑ) The Ydrána is a bowl for Khǽnips (Chernips or Lustral Water; Gr. Χέρνιψ).

Ydrokhóös - (Gr. Υδροχόος, ΥΔΡΟΧΟΟΣ) Ydrokhóös is the fifth month of the Mystery year beginning January 21 and corresponding to the zodiacal month of AquariusYdrokhóös is ruled by the Goddess Íra (Hera; Gr. Ήρα). It is a month of Stability (StathærótitaGr. Σταθερότητα).

Lexicon entry Ydrokhóös: water-pourer, name of the constellation Aquarius.  (L&S p. 1845, right column, within the entries beginning ὑδρο-φῠλᾰκέω, edited for simplicity.Ydrokhóös may also be spelled Ydríkhöos (Gr. Ὑδρήχοος), defined in Liddell & Scott as: of poured water.  II. the sign Aquarius. (L&S p. 1844, right column, edited for simplicity.)

Yi - See Yaia.

Yígantæs - (Gigantes or Giants; Gr. Γίγαντες, ΓΙΓΑΝΤΕΣ) The Yígantæs are the Giants, the prodigy of Yi, Earth and Ouranós.

Yígas - (Gigas; Gr. Γίγας, ΓΙΓΑΣYígas is a Giant, the singular of Yígantæs.

Yíras - (geras; Gr. γῆρας, ΓΗΡΑΣ) Yíras is old age.

Ýparxis - (Hyparxis; Gr. Ὕπαρξις, ὝΠΑΡΞΙΣ)  Ýparxis is the "first principle, or foundation, as it were, of the essence of a thing. Hence also, it is the summit of essence."  (TTS XV p. 10)

Ypærkhthónios - (Hyperchthonius; Gr. ὑπερχθόνιος, ΥΠΕΡΧΘΟΝΙΟΣ) Ypærkhthónios means above the earth (not to be confused with ypokhthónios, which means "under the earth" or khthónios, which refers to "the surface of the earth.")So, we have three words: ypokhthónios (under), khthónios (the surface of) and ypærkhthónios (above) the earth.
- Lexicon entry: ὑπερχθόνιος, ον, above the earth, Man.2.26. (L&S p. 1870, right column.)
- Cf. Ypokhthónios and 

Ýpnos - (Hypnos; Gr. Ὕπνος, ΥΠΝΟΣ) Ýpnos is Sleep

Ypokhthónios - (hypochthonic; Gr. ὑποχθόνιος, ΥΠΟΧΘΟΝΙΟΣ) - Ypokhthónios means under the surface of the earth (not to be confused with khthónios, which refers to the "surface of the earth," or ypærkhthónios which means "above the earth.") So, we have three words: ypokhthónios (under), khthónios (the surface of) and ypærkhthónios (above) the earth.
- Lexicon entry: ὑποχθόνιος, η, ον, Call. (v. infr.): (χθών):— under the earth, subterranean. (L&S p. 1902, right column, edited for simplicity)
- Cf. Ypærkhthónios and Khthónios.

Ypómnima - (hypomnema; Gr. ὑπόμνημα, ΥΠΟΜΝΗΜΑ, singular. Usually in plural: ὑπομνήματα.) Ypómnima is a note written down; ypomnímata (plural) are someone's notes, personal memories, a journal. The word is included in this glossary because there are several literary works written by philosophers, historians, etc. which use the word in the titlel
- Lexicon entry: ὑπόμνημα, ατος, τόreminder, memorial. 2. tomb. II. reminder, mention, in a speech; in a letter; esp. written reminder, memorandum. 2. note or memorandum entered by a tradesman in his day-book. 3. mostly in pl., memoranda, notes. 4. minutes of the proceedings of a public body, public records. 5. dissertations or treatises written by philosophers, rhetoricians, and artists. b. division, section, 'book' of such a treatise. c. explanatory notes, commentaries. III. draft or copy of a letter. IV. memorial, petition. 2. notification.

Yposælínia - (Hyposelenia; Gr. Υποσελήνια, ΥΠΟΣΕΛΗΝΙΑ) The Yposælínia is the area just under the moon.

Ypóstasis - (hypostasis; Gr. ὑπόστασις, ΥΠΟΣΤΑΣΙΣYpóstasis, from the perspective of philosophy, means the underlying substantial nature of something.

ývris - (hubris; Gr. ὕβρις, ΥΒΡΙΣÝvris is defined by Liddel & Scott as wanton violence, arising from the pride of strength or from passion, insolence. We are using the term more as it is used in modern times: ývris is excessive prideÝvris is the wanton excess and insolence that causes one to claim more than what is justifiably yours. In particular, ývris occurs when the border between ones humanity and the divinity is blurred. The opposite of ývris, and the correct attitude, would be expressed in the Delphic Maxim: Think as a mortalMore informally, ývris is currently being used by some meaning a violation, an offense against the Gods, and an offense against nature, and we are using the term in this way also.

(Hygeia; Gr. Ὑγεία, ὙΓΕΊΑ. Roman is Salus.) Yyeia is pronounced ee-GYEE-ah, the gy of the second syllable is somewhat guttural, something like a cross between a hard g and y, from the top of the mouth
Yyeia is the daughter of Asklipiós (Asclepius; Gr. Ἀσκληπιός) and Ipióni (Epione; Gr. Ἠπιόνη). Próklos (Proclus; Gr. Πρόκλος) gives her parentage (in Plat. Tim.) as Ǽrohs (Eros; Gr. Ἔρως) and Peithóh (Peitho; Gr. Πειθώ). Yyeia is a great Goddess of health, cleanliness, and sanitation, the prevention of disease. From her name we have the English word 'hygiene,' Also associated with Yyeia is good mental health which she bestows and protects. In iconography, Yyeia is depicted as a compassionate woman who is chaste. She holds a serpent in her arms, feeding it from a cup, and she wears a long khitóhn (Chiton; Gr. Χιτών). Sometimes she is shown with her father or grouped with her sisters. The Orphic Hymn to this Goddess recommends an offering of frankincense.

ABBREVIATIONS:  A list of abbreviations used in the glossary can be found on this page: GLOSSARY HOME PAGE

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