Iliouyænna (Heliogenna, Ηλιούγεννα. Pronounced: ee-lee-OO-yai-nah)

In our religion, nature is sacred and the solstices, being major phenomena of nature, are important and celebrated, as are the equinoxes, now as in antiquity. The Greek word for solstice is iliostásio (heliostasio, ηλιοστάσιο). The plural form is iliostásia (heliostatsia, ηλιοστάσια).

The Iliouyænna is a traditional and ancient holiday of Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion. It is celebrated just after the December 21st iliostásia in the Northern Hemisphere and just after the June 21st iliostásia in the Southern Hemisphere.

We celebrate the Iliouyænna just after the solstice. The days of sunlight grow longer, hence the birth (γέννα) of Ílios (Helios, Ἥλιος), the Sun.

The Winter Solstice has also been called the birthday of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων) because Apóllôn is often equated with the Sun in mythology (in Ovid, for instance) and by the Neoplatonists, but in reality they are separate deities and the Iliouyænna is not Apóllôn's birthday, which is celebrated in May. Apóllôn 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, Διόνυσος). This can be construed from Macrobius in the Saturnalia (I.18.9-10) who explains the different appearances of the God in mythology...as a child, as a young man, bearded, and elderly...in reference to the sun, with Diónysos presented as an infant at his shrine in Egypt on the December solstice. The birth of Diónysos is celebrated three days after the solstice, on the 25th of December. It seems that the ancient people thought that the solstice fell on this day. (Πανάριον Επιφανίου 51.22.3-11, the author referring to January 6, but this was actually December 25th in the reformed Julian calendar, thought of in antiquity as the winter solstice.)

The Iliouyænna is celebrated for three days, 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).

Before the solstice on 21 December, we have the Poseidea (Ποσείδεα). Directly after the solstice, whether in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere, we have the Twelve Days of Diónysos commencing on December 25th, making this a very festive time of year indeed.


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. (trans. H. G. Evelyn-White, 1914.)


Please visit this page: ORPHIC HYMNS

This logo 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, 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, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, 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.

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Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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