Also of interest regarding Orphic materialism: Experiencing Gods

Ækpýrohsis - (Ecpyrosis; Gr. Ἐκπύρωσις, ΕΚΠΥΡΩΣΙΣ. Noun.) Ækpýrohsis is conversion into fire, conflagration. Iráklitos (Heraclitus; Gr. Ἡράκλειτος) believed in the periodic destruction of the Kózmos by fire, only to rise again; that all things in existence are born from and dissolve into fire. (Διογένης Λαέρτιος Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 10.6 Iráklitos) The early Stoics held a similar belief. Cf. Diakósmisis.

Æmbeirikós - (empeiricus; Gr. ἐμπειρικός, ΕΜΠΕΙΡΙΚΟΣ. Adjective. [modern Greek would be βιωματικός]) experiential, empirical. The universe consists entirely of material substance, available through the senses, therefore, our understanding of the world is largely experiential (ἐμπειρικός) rather than rational (λόγον ἔχων).

Ǽrohs - (Eros; Gr. Ἔρως, ΕΡΩΣ) Ǽrohs is attraction. When your soul is secured by the fortress of ego, you are unable to properly feel the other, but when this barricade dissolves, you can sense others, because they, like yourself, consist of material substances. If you sense and feel others, it becomes possible to perceive their beauty. We are naturally attracted to beauty, so there is the possibility of moving towards our fellows and developing empathy. Likewise, if you open your soul and become vulnerable, it is possible to perceive and feel the Gods, who also consist of material substances. If you perceive the beauty of the Gods, you become attracted to them. This attraction and vulnerability is very beautiful to the Gods, who also want beauty, and, they are thus attracted to you. An interchange flows back and forth between the divine and the mortal. This attraction to the beautiful is at the center of our religion. Thus, Orphismós is sensual and erotic (ἐρωτικός). Because of the material nature of the universe, we can sense and feel the other and develop compassion (ἔλεος), thereby, sharing in the providence of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς), who feels us and senses our difficulties.

Aestheseis - See Aisthíseis.

Aesthesis - See Aisthisis.

Aestheticus - Aisthitikós.

Aesthetes - See Aisthitís.

Aesthetus - See Aisthitós.

Aether - See Aithír.

Aisthíseis - (aestheseis; Gr. αἰσθήσεις, ΑΙΣΘΗΣΕΙΣ. Noun. Plural of αἴσθησις.) Aisthíseis are the senses. Because everything consists of material substances, we can perceive and interact with such a world by means of our senses. The traditional senses are sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. We also communicate within ourselves and with the outside world by means of the aithirial garments (αιθερική χιτῶνας) which surround the soul (περί πνεύμα).

Aisthisis - (aesthesis; Gr. αἴσθησις, ΑΙΣΘΗΣΙΣ) sensation. The universe consists of material substance only. We perceive materials substance by means of the senses. Therefore, we live in a universe of sensation.

Aisthitikós - (aestheticus; Gr. αἰσθητικός, ΑΙΣΘΗΤΙΚΟΣ. Adjective.) perceptive, sensitive, perceptible. Material substance is perceptible by means of the senses.

Aisthitís - (aesthetes; Gr. αἰσθητῆς, ΑΙΣΘΗΤΗΣ. Noun.) one who perceives.

Aisthitós - (aesthetus; Gr. αἰσθητός, ΑΙΣΘΗΤΟΣ. Adjective.) sensible, perceptible. Material substance is perceptible by means of the senses. Cf. Aisthíseis.

Aithír - (Aether; Gr. Αἰθήρ, ΑΙΘΗΡ. Noun.) In the mythology, Aithír is the pure air breathed by the Gods. In Ἡσίοδος (Hesiod), Aithír is the son of Ǽrævos (Erebos = Darkness; Gr, Ἔρεβος) and Nyx (Gr. Νύξ). (Θεογονία 124).

Aristotǽlis (Ἀριστοτέλης) calls aithír the "fifth element" (quinta essentia), earth, water, air, fire, and aithír. So there are various ways of understanding Aithír.

In the Orphic theogony of the Ὀρφέως Ἀργοναυτικά (13-14) Aithír is the child of Khrónos (Chronus or Time; Gr. Χρόνος) and Anángki (Anangke or Necessity; Gr. Ἀνάγκη).

καί Κρόνον, ὡς ἐλόχευσεν ἀπειρεσίοις ὑπό κολποίς


and Time, who of himself, from his boundless womb, brought forth


(trans. by the author)

Aithír is one of the two basic material kosmogonic substances, tied by important characteristics with Fire and Water such that in Orphic literature all three are referred to as simply Water or sometimes Aithír. These three are indeed different, but they have the continuous (συνεχής) quality in common. The Aithír is inseparable or continuous: it is the Divine Energy, above all the Gods, for the Aithír is Zefs (Ζεύς). To create souls, the Aithír enters into the Mæristi (divisible) Substance (Earth). The Aithír is spinning, filling all the space, and by spinning it draws the particles of Earth into its center and unites with them, creating Form.

Anángi - (Anangke; Gr. Ἀνάγκη, ΑΝΑΓΚΗ. Noun.) Anángi is the force of necessity or need; logical necessity and constraint in the sense of inevitable and unstoppable logical result. Anángi is defined as the excess of inertia. The demiurgic force of Anángi is the most powerful force in the universe. Anángi, together with Khrónos (Χρόνος), Time, causes the potential of the Árritos Arkhí, the primordial state of the Kózmos, to be expressed.

Arche - See Arkhí.

Arkhí - (arche ; Gr. ἀρχή, ΑΡΧΗ. Noun. The etym. of English word archaeology is ἀρχή.) beginning, origin.

Arretus - See Árritos.

Árritos - (arretus; Gr. ἄρρητος, ΑΡΡΗΤΟΣ. Adjective.) unutterable, in the sense of not to be divulged, or unutterable because it cannot be rationally understood.

Árritos Arkhí - (Arretus Arche; Gr. Ἄρρητος Ἀρχή, ΑΡΡΗΤΟΣ ΑΡΧΗ. Def. ἄρρητος "unutterable" + ἀρχή "beginning.") the beginning (ἀρχή) which cannot be expressed (ἄρρητος). The Árritos Arkhí is the primordial state of the universe. It is not able to understood rationally because its constituent parts have yet to be expressed, therefore since there is no relativity, it is incomprehensible.

Attraction - See Ǽrohs.

Continuous - See Synækhís.

Diacosmesis - See Diakózmisis.

Diakózmisis - (Diacosmesis; Gr. Διακόσμησις, ΔΙΑΚΟΣΜΗΣΙΣ. Noun.) Diakózmisis (a term often associated with the Pythagoreans) is a description of creation, the natural process by which the Kózmos unfolds and generates itself in an orderly fashion. Cf. Ækpýrohsis.

Earth - (Yi or Ge; Gr. Γή, ΓΗ. Noun.) Earth is one of the two basic material kozmogonic substances. The other kosmogonic substance is Water (Ὕδωρ). Earth is receptive to the active, formative nature of Water; because of this, Earth is characterized as "female." Earth is divisible (μεριστή); Water is continuous (συνεχής). Plátohn (Plato; Gr. Πλάτων) calls these two substances the One (Monad) and the Other. Cf. Water.

Ecpyrosis - See Ækpýrohsis.

Elements, The Classical - The elements (στοιχεῖα, plural) enumerated by the theologian Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) are Earth (Γῆ or Γαῖα) and Water (Ὕδωρ); these are the primary material substance of which everything which exists consists. It is the interaction of Earth and Water which creates the soul, both of the Kózmos (Κόσμος) as well as the soul of every being. Earth is a divisible (immobile) substance (Μεριστή Οὐσία) while Water is a continuous (mobile) substance (Συνεχής Οὐσία). Because Fire (Πῦρ) and Aithír (Αἰθήρ) are also continuous substance, they are grouped together with Water. This gives us four elements organized as follows: Earth and Water-Fire-Aithír. To this list, may be added Air (Ἀήρ), comprising the five classical elements of antiquity, an understanding which was viewed as scientific through the medieval era and beyond. While these ideas must be approached as antique, they retain a validity, for they are the foundation of modern physics, a view of the universe as consisting of material substances rather than unknowable "spiritual" elements.

Empeiricus - See Æmbeirikós.

Eros - See Ǽrohs.

Euaesthesia - See Evaisthisía.

Euaesthetus - See Evaisthitos.

Evaisthisía - (euaesthesia; Gr. εὐαισθησία, ΕΥΑΙΣΘΗΣΙΑ. Noun.) sensitivity, great capacity of sensation. It is through our senses that we can feel others, for they are sensual beings because they consists of substances. See Aisthíseis and Psávo.

Evaisthitos - (euaesthetus; Gr. εὐαίσθητος, ΕΥΑΙΣΘΗΤΟΣ. Adjective.) sensitive. It is through our senses that we can feel others, for they are sensual beings because they consists of substances. Therefore, we strive to become sensitive people. See Aisthíseis and Psávo.

Feel - See Psávo.

Fifth Element - 1. The fifth element, or Platonic solid, of which all the Kózmos (Cosmos; Gr. Κόσμος) is made, is the Dohdækáædron (Dodecahedron; Gr. Δωδεκάεδρον), called quintessence, the kozmic sphere, and later identified with Aithír (Αἰθήρ) [ref. Πλάτων Τίμαιος 58d]. 2. Aristotǽlis (Aristotle; Gr. Ἀριστοτέλης) called Aithír the fifth element; thus, we have the four classical elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, but with Aithír added to make five.

Fire - (Fire; Gr. Πῦρ, ΠΥΡ. Noun.) Fire or in ancient Greek, Pyr, is one of the classical elements. Fire, Water and Aithír are viewed together because they are all continuous (συνεχής) substances. See Elements, The Classical.

Hyle - See Ýli.

Khrónos - (Chronus; Gr. Χρόνος, ΧΡΟΝΟΣ. Noun.) Khrónos is Time, which, together with Anángi (Ἀνάγκη), Necessity, creates the universe.

Mæristí - (meriste; Gr. μεριστή, ΜΕΡΙΣΤΗ. Etym. from μερίς "part, portion." Adjective.) divisible.

Mæristí Ousía - (Meriste Ousia; Gr. Μεριστή Οὐσία, ΜΕΡΙΣΤΗ ΟΥΣΙΑ) The Mæristí Ousía is the divisible kozmogonic substance: Earth or Yi. There is a story from mythology that Ǽrmis (Ἑρμῆς) brought the infant Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς) to suckle the breast of the sleeping Íra but she awoke and pulled away her breast, spraying milk throughout the universe creating the galaxy of the Milky Way. (Hyginus' Astronomica 2.43.) Gála (γάλα) means "milk" ; Galaxías (Γαλαξίας) means "the Milky Way." The Mæristí Ousía in the Kózmos is symbolized by the milk of Íra.

Material - See Ousía.

Materialism, Orphic - Orphic materialism refers to the teaching of Orphéfs (Ὀρφεύς) that everything which exists consists of material substances, Earth and Water (Δαμάσκιος First Prin.123c bis {i. 317-19 R.}; = Orphic fragment 54). There is no immaterial "spiritual" realm, for something which does not consist of some kind of material cannot exist. The Orphic materialism is the foundation of the natural philosophers (the pre-Socratics) and, therefore, is the root of all science.

Matter - See Ousía and Ýli.

Meriste - See Mæristí.

Necessity - See Anángki.

Origin - See Arkhí.

Ousía - (Gr. οὐσίἁ, ΟΥΣΙΑ. Plural is οὐσίαι. Noun.) substance, matter, material.

- Cf. ὕλη, a word which can mean "matter" or "material." You can compare εἶδος, "form," to ὕλη, "matter." Εἶδος or ἰδέα are two words which are translated as "form" when discussing the Platonic forms (so in this case, they are equivalents of each other) and it is in this context that you can compare form to matter. This is important because if form is not a type of matter, then we have a conception of the universe which separates material from the shapes which material takes, shapes which are mental constructs, but which the Platonists say are not matter; therefore, the forms or ideas are immaterial. But according to the pre-Platonic Orphism, everything consists of matter. It seems counter-intuitive to think that form or idea could be material, but if form is not material, what is it?

Psávo - (psauo; Gr. ψαύω, ΨΑΥΩ. Verb.) Psávo is to feel. Because everything and everyone consists of material substance, we can feel (ψαύω) others by means of our senses (αἰσθήσεις). When we sense the other, there is the possibility that we can perceive the beauty of the other, and, therefore, we begin to develop attraction (Ἔρως). This is the basis of friendship, empathy (ἐνσυναίσθηση), compassion (ἔλεος), and love between sentient beings. It is, as well, the foundation of interaction between Gods and men.

Pyr - (Fire; Gr. Πῦρ, ΠΥΡ. Noun.) Pyr is the ancient Greek word for fire. See Fire.

Sensation - See Aisthisis.

Senses, The - See Aisthíseis.

Stoikheion - (stoicheion; Gr. στοιχεῖον, ΣΤΟΙΧΕΙΟΝ. Plural is στοιχεῖα.) a fundamental element, such as Earth, Water, Fire, and Aithír. See Elements, The Classical.

Stoikheia - See Elements, The Classical.

Substance - See Ousía.

Synækhís - (syneches; Gr. συνεχής, ΣΥΝΕΧΗΣ. Adjective.) continuous, holding together.

Synækhís Ousía - (Syneches Ousia; Gr. Συνεχής Οὐσία) The Synækhís Ousía is the continuous kozmogonic substance: Water-Fire-Aithír.

Syneches - See Synækhís.

Water - (Ýdohr or Hydor; Gr. Ὕδωρ, ΥΔΩΡ. Noun.) Water (Ὕδωρ) is one of the two basic material kosmogonic substances. The other kozmogonic substance is Earth (Γή). Water is active and Earth is receptive to it; because of this, Water is characterized as "male." Water is continuous (συνεχής); Earth is divisible (μεριστή). Plátôn (Πλάτων) calls these two substances the One (Monad) and the Other. In Orphic literature, the word Water usually represents all three types of Synækhís Substance: Water-Fire-Aithír. Cf. Earth.

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

Ýdohr - (Hydor; Gr. Ὕδωρ, ΥΔΩΡ. Noun.) Ýdohr is the Greek word for Water. See Water.

Yaia - (Gaia; Gr. Γαῖα, ΓΑΙΑ = Γή. Noun.) Yaia is the Greek word for Earth. See Earth. Cf. Yi.

Yi - (Ge; Gr. Γή, ΓΗ = Γαῖα. Noun.) Yi is the Greek word for Earth. See Earth. Cf. Yaia.

Ýli – (hyle; Gr. ὕλη, ΥΛΗ. Noun. Literally “forest” or “firewood.”) (originally) Aristotelian word for matter.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

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.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

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, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic 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.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

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.

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:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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