Hellenism (religion)

Hellenism (Greek: Ἑλληνισμός, Ἑllēnismós), the Hellenic ethnic religion (Ἑλληνικὴ ἐθνική θρησκεία), also commonly known as Hellenismos, Hellenic Polytheism, Dodekatheism (Δωδεκαθεϊσμός), or Olympianism (Ὀλυμπιανισμός), refers to various religious movements that revive or reconstruct ancient Greek religious practices, which have publicly emerged since the 1990s.

The Hellenic religion is a traditional religion and way of life, revolving around the Greek Gods, primarily focused on the Twelve Olympians, and embracing ancient Hellenic values and virtues.

In 2017, Hellenism was legally recognized as a "known religion" in Greece, granting it certain religious freedoms in that country, including the freedom to open houses of worship and for clergy to officiate weddings.[1]

Hellenism symbol
Symbol used by Hellenism followers.


There are no official naming practices for the Hellenic religion, and the ancient Greeks did not have a word for "religion" in the modern sense.[2] Some informal naming conventions have developed since the formation of the first Hellenic religious organizations in the 1990s, based on academically accepted descriptive definitions. "Hellenism" (or "Hellenismos") is the most common term, used chiefly as a name for the modern religion by its adherents today, though it can also refer to the ancient Greek religion and culture.[3] The term "Hellenismos" originally stems from a 4th-century AD systematization and revival of Greek religion by the Roman Emperor Julian. Julian used the term to describe traditional Graeco-Roman religion.[4] Additionally, subgroups within Hellenism have used a variety of names to distinguish branches focusing on specific schools of thought, or various different modern traditions. Hellenic religion and Hellenic polytheism are often used interchangeably to refer to the religion. The phrase Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism refers specifically to the methodology used by some practitioners to recreate the religion based on academic sources, rather than the religion itself, and not all Hellenic Polytheists are reconstructionists. Other organizations, such as Dodekatheon (Δωδεκάθεον),[5] the Helliniki Hetaireia Archaiophilon (Societas Hellenica Antiquariorum), and the Thyrsos use a combination of terms interchangeably, including ἑλληνικὴ θρησκεία (hellēnikē thrēskeîa, translated as "Hellenic religion"), Hellenic polytheistic religion, and Hellenism.[6][7]

Other terms in common usage by Hellenic polytheists include "Greek reconstructionism" and "Hellenic Traditionalism", but the two are not synonymous.[8] The American group Elaion uses the term "Dodekatheism" (Greek: δώδεκα, dodeka, "twelve" + θεϊσμός, theïsmós, "belief in the gods") to describe their approach to the Hellenic religion, stating that the term "has been used for some time within and outside Greece to refer to ancient Greek religion and we feel that it is important for those of us outside Greece share a common name and identity with our co-religiosts in the homeland of our spirituality", and that the term 'Hellenism' is linked too closely in current use to the modern Greek nation.[2]

Beliefs and practices

Map greek sanctuaries-en
A map of the main sanctuaries of the ancient Greek religion.

Hellenic polytheists worship the ancient Greek Gods, or the Hellenic pantheon, including the Olympians, nature divinities, underworld deities (chthonic gods) and heroes. Both physical and spiritual ancestors are honored. It is primarily a devotional or votive religion, based on the exchange of gifts (offerings) for the gods' blessings.[9] The ethical convictions of modern Hellenic polytheists are often inspired by ancient Greek virtues such as reciprocity, hospitality, self-control and moderation. The Delphic maxims, Tenets of Solon, the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, or even Aristotle's Ethics each function as complete moral codes that a Hellenic Polytheist may observe. Key to most ethical systems is the idea of kharis (or "charis", grace), to establish reciprocity between humanity and the gods, between individuals, and among community members.[10][11] Another key value in Hellenic Polytheism is eusebeia, often translated as piety. This implies a commitment to the worship of the Hellenic gods and action to back this up.

There is no central "ecclesia" (church/assembly) or hierarchical clergy, though some groups (i.e., Hellenion) do offer training in that capacity. Individual worshipers are generally expected to perform their own rituals and learn about the religion and the gods by reference to primary and secondary sources on ancient Greek religion and through personal experience of the gods. Information gained from such personal experiences is often referred to in Hellenic groups as "UPG" (Unverified Personal Gnosis), a term borrowed from Ásatrú, though now commonly used among many pagan religions.

Relationship to ancient Greek religion

The majority of modern historians agree that the religion practiced by the ancient Greeks had been extinguished by the 9th century AD at the latest, and that there is little to no evidence that any of its traditions or beliefs survived past the Middle Ages.[12] The majority of modern Hellenic polytheist organizations view their religious traditions as either "revivalist" or "reconstructionist", though most modern individual adherents exist somewhere on a Reconstructionist to Revivalist spectrum.

Revivalists view Hellenic Polytheism as a living, changing religion. Hellenic Revivalism allows room for practitioners to decide what feels right to them, and to adapt historical religious practices to modern life.

Reconstructionism is a methodology which attempts to accurately base modern religious practice on culturally and historically genuine examples of ancient religious practices. The term is frequently used in the United States to differentiate between syncretic and eclectic Neopagan movements, and those based on the traditions, writings, history, and mythology of a specific ancient polytheistic culture. In contrast to revivalist traditions, Reconstructionists are culturally oriented and attempt to reconstruct historical forms of religion and spirituality, in a modern context. Therefore, Kemetic, Canaanite, Hellenic, Roman, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic Reconstructionists aim for the revival of historical practices and beliefs of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Canaan and Phoenicia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Celts, the Germanic peoples, the Balts and the Slavs, respectively.

Most Hellenic polytheist groups unequivocally state that reconstructionism is not the only correct method of practicing the ancient Greek religion, but do identify a practice as Hellenic only when it embraces the humanistic values and ethical virtues of the ancient Greeks, demonstrates loyalty and reverence toward the Greek Gods, and uses a religious structure that would be recognizable to an ancient Greek.[13][14][15][16] These groups make a clear distinction between themselves and the Neopagan movement, and identify some 'Hellenic' groups as "simply disguised as 'Hellenes' for reasons that exist hidden within the depths of their own minds." [17]

Some adherents, like Greek Dodecatheon member Panagiotis Marinis, have claimed that the religion of ancient Greece actually survived throughout the intervening centuries, and some claim they were raised in families that practiced this religion.[18] Whether or not they believe that the Hellenic polytheist religious tradition is continuous, there is evidence that Greek Hellenic polytheists living in modern Greece see the movement as an expression of Greek cultural heritage in opposition to the dominant Orthodox Christianity.[19][20]


Renaissance revivals

During the Renaissance, new translations of ancient texts that had fallen into obscurity led to a renewed interest in the religious traditions of Late Antiquity, particularly Neoplatonism and the more syncretic Hermeticism. Hermeticism was rediscovered in 1460 by the monk Leonardo de Candia Pistoia,[21] who found a copy of the Corpus Hermeticum as part of Cosimo de' Medici's effort to uncover lost ancient writings in obscure monastery collections.[22] Hermeticism was a Graeco-Roman tradition that emerged alongside Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and the Chaldaean Oracles, and also incorporated elements from mystical Judaism and Christianity.[23] It emphasized the practices of alchemy, astrology, and theurgy, which included the practice of magic or Goetia.[24] Though it drew heavily from Hellenic sources and its central text was held by some traditions to have been written or handed down by Hermes, Hermetism was essentially monotheistic rather than polytheistic, containing sayings such as: "it is a ridiculous thing to confess the World to be one, one Sun, one Moon, one Divinity, and yet to have, I know not how many gods."[25] Nonetheless, the Renaissance interest in Hermeticism and Neoplatonism would heavily influence many later Hellenic revivalists and other neopagan traditions.

Early reconstructionists

During the 18th century, several notable authors and freethinkers embraced Ancient Greek religion to some extent, studying and translating ancient works of theology and philosophy, and in some cases composing original hymns and devotionals to the Ancient Greek pantheon. The English author John Fransham (1730–1810) was one example, considered an eccentric by his peers, who was also referred to as a pagan and a polytheist. In Fransham's 1769 book The Oestrum of Orpheus, he advanced a theology similar to that of the Neoplatonists: that the first cause of existence is uncreated and indestructible, but not intelligent, and that the universe is shaped by "innumerable intelligent powers or forces, 'plastic and designing,' who ruled all sublunary affairs, and may most fitly be designated by the nomenclature of the Hellenic theology."[26] Despite his apparent belief in the Hellenic gods, Fransham does not seem to have been particularly devoted to their worship. According to an 1875 profile in Fraser's Magazine, Franshem's "libations to the Penates found their way down his own throat, and when he sacrificed a fowl to 'Esculapius it was usually in the form of chicken-broth for his supper."[26]

Another example of an 18th-century literary figure who may have considered himself a Hellenist was Thomas Taylor (1758–1835), who produced the first English translations of many neoplatonic philosophical and religious texts. Taylor was widely known as the "English Platonist", and rumors existed that he had produced anonymous pamphlets advocating a return to a sort of pagan religion (these rumors have been debunked by modern scholars[27]). Though the extent of his actual devotion to Ancient Greek spirituality remains unknown, brief descriptions written by others about him tend to portray him as a sincerely devout polytheist.[26] One such sketch, written by Isaac D'Israeli, describes Taylor delaying answering his door until he has finished his mid-day hymn to Apollo, and reports that his study contained a hanging globe of clear glass, representing Zeus, that scattered sunbeams he would use to read and write, shifting his position in the room to follow them throughout the day.[26]

His work inspired a limited number devotees.[26] The most notable was Godefroi Izarn, the Marquis de Valadi, a young member of a wealthy French family who adopted a "Pythagorean mode of life". In 1788, Valadi traveled to England in order to convince an unnamed "gentleman of eminence in the literary world" to become the head of a new Pythagroean sect, assuring him that Valadi would help him find numerous followers.[28] He refused, and suggested Valadi learn Greek and become the head of the sect himself. Valadi began his studies at Glasgow, where he learned of Taylor, to whom he wrote in a letter:

"My determination was to go and live in North America, and there to keep a school of temperance and love, in order to preserve so many men from the prevailing vices of brutal intemperance and selfish cupidity ... There I would devoutly erect altars to my favourite Gods: Dioscuri, Hector, Aristomenes, Pan, Orpheus, Epaminondas, Pythagoras, Pluto, Timoleon, Marcus Brutus and his Portia, and above all, Phoebus, the God of my hero Julian ..."[26]

Valadi paid Taylor to live in his house and study under him, but his tenure as Taylor's disciple was short lived. He returned to France to fight in the French Revolution in 1789 (he reportedly said, "I came over Diogenes. I am going back Alexander."), and was executed by guillotine in December 1793.[28]

20th century

In the early 20th century, several neopagan groups were formed, often incorporating elements of ancient Greek religion and honoring Greek gods, but with heavily syncretic elements drawn from Hermeticism and 19th century folklore studies. Most prominent of these modern traditions are Thelema and Wicca, though Feraferia (an American tradition founded in the 1970s by Fred Adams) places heavier emphasis on a more Hellenistic style of worship and on the Greaco-Roman pantheon of gods.[29] One Wiccan organization in the United States, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, began to host a spring festival based on the Eleusinian Mysteries in 1985, which has continued to be held every year through the present day.[30]

During the 1970s, some Neopagans began to reject the influence of Hermeticism and other heavily syncretic forms of Greek religion in preference of practices reconstructing earlier or more original forms of Hellenic worship. Early reconstructionists of Hellenic religion tended to be individuals working alone, and early attempts to organize adherents into larger groups failed. The first successful attempt was made by the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes (or YSEE). In 1993, a variety of adherents to the Hellenic religion in Greece and elsewhere came together and began the process of organization. This resulted in a "Hellenic National Assembly", initiated at a gathering in southern Olympus on the 9th of September 1995. The process culminated with the formal establishment of the YSEE as a non-profit in Greece, in June 1997. Twenty years later, the organization was given legal status as a "known religion", granting them permission to establish a formal place of worship by the Greek government.[31]

21st century and official recognition

In May 2006 an Athens court granted official recognition to the veneration of the Ancient Greek pantheon. Soon afterwards, on 22 January 2007, the Hellenist group Ellinais held a ceremony at the historic Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens. It was the first such rite performed at the temple since the ancient Greek religion was outlawed by the Roman government in the late 4th century.[32] The ceremony involved participants dressed as ancient warriors who left their swords and spears outside the sacred site, in order to represent the laying down of arms before the Olympic games. The BBC referred to the event as a show of "intentional publicity". The event caught the attention of the Greek Orthodox Church. Reporters at the event suggested the church might step up their opposition to the legitimizing of Hellenism. Father Eustathios Kollas, who presided over a community of Greek Orthodox priests, said: "They are a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past."[33] Despite the 2006 court ruling, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports continued to disallow ceremonies of any kind at archaeological sites, and some early 21st century Hellenic rituals therefore took the form of protests. In August 2008, a group of adherents, again organized by Ellinais, gathered at the Acropolis both to give libations and other offerings to the goddess Athena, and to protest the removal of architectural pieces from the temples to a new museum at the site.[34]

2004 Olympics controversy

The 2004 Summer Olympics stirred up several disputes concerning Hellenic polytheistic religion.

  • Professor Giorgos Dontas, president of the Archaeological Society of Athens expressed public outrage at the destruction of ancient archaeological sites around the Parthenon and Acropolis in preparation for the Games.[35]
  • Prior to the Olympic Games, MSNBC correspondent Rehema Ellis in a story called It's Greek to Me: Group Tries to Restore Pagan Worship documented the vandalism and arson of a bookstore in Athens which sold books promoting ancient Greek religion. She also interviewed several adherents who were upset about the current state of affairs in Greece. Ellis said: "A contrast in this place where the Olympic Games were created to honour Zeus - now those praying to the ancient gods are criticized for putting too much faith in the past."
  • The Greek Society of the Friends of the Ancients objected to the commercial use of Athena and Phevos as the official mascots of the 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens. They felt that the caricatured representations of the Greek Gods Athena and Phoebus were disrespectful and culturally insensitive.[36] In a BBC Radio interview on June 26, 2004, Dr. Pan. Marinis President of the Societas Hellenica Antiquariorum said that the mascots:
"mock the spiritual values of the Hellenic Civilization by degrading these same holy personalities that were revered during the ancient Olympic Games. For these reasons we have proceeded to legal action demanding the punishment of those responsible."

Modern groups and demographics

Hellen ritual (2)
Ritual performed by members of the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes.

Hellenism originated in and is practiced in Greece and in other countries. Leaders of the movement claimed in 2005 that there are as many as 2,000 adherents to the Hellenic tradition in Greece, with an additional 100,000 who have "some sort of interest".[37] No official estimates exist for devotees worldwide. Outside Greece, Hellenic religious organizations began to emerge around 1998, with some individuals claiming to have been engaging in some form of traditional practice since the 1970s.[38]

Hellen temple in Thessaloniki, Greece
Modern Hellenic temple built on private land of Aristoteles Kakogeorgiou, in Thessaloniki.
Hellen priest (1)
Priest performing ritual.

The first Greek organization to openly support the religious revival of Hellenic religion was Ύπατο Συμβούλιο των Ελλήνων Εθνικών (Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes or YSEE), established in 1997,[39] and is publicly active. YSEE is a founding member of the World Congress of Ethnic Religions (now European Congress of Ethnic Religions) and hosted the seventh annual WCER Congress in June 2004.[40] With branches also in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany, their level of real world public activity, and actual membership levels, the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes can be argued to be the defining lead organization for the public revival movement. YSEE is also a member of the European Union's action programme to combat discrimination. The organization primarily refers to the religion as the "Ethnic Polytheistic" or "genuine Hellenism"[41] and its practitioners as Ethnikoi Hellenes, "Ethnic [National] Hellenes".

YSEE uses the terms "traditional", "ethnic", and "genuine" to refer to their religious practices. Greek polytheist author Vlassis Rassias has written a popular series of books on "Christian persecutions against the Hellenes," and the "Church of the Hellenes" organization goes so far as to call for the wholesale extermination of Christianity,[42] while the Athens-based group Ellinais emphasizes "world peace and the brotherhood of man."[43]

Founded in the United States in 2001, Hellenion[44] identifies its practices as "Hellenic Pagan Reconstructionism" and emphasizes historical accuracy in its mission statement.[45] The group uses the term "Hellenismos" (Ἑλληνισμός, Hellēnismós) to describe the religion. Hellenion does not provide official membership numbers to the public, but an unofficial estimate of 43 members was made for 2007 and approximately 100 members for 2017.[46] though this number can only give the roughest approximation, as Hellenion offers hardship waivers to those who cannot afford the typical membership fees.[47] In early 2010, the organization reported 1 demos (fully chartered local congregation) and 6 proto-demoi (start-up congregations not fully chartered with less than 3 members) established, which offer rituals and other events for members and frequently for the public as well.[48] Two of the six proto-demoi cannot be independently verified to exist. Hellenion offers legal clergy training,[49] basic adult religious education classes,[50] and other educational/training courses for its members.[51]

Another American group, Elaion, was founded in 2005 after members of other groups grew dissatisfied with what was, in their view, a de-emphasis on Hellenic ethics, philosophy, poetry, and art, and a re-emergence of "occult" doctrines among some practitioners. Elaion aimed to create an organization that emphasized ethics, piety, and "right-living", which they initially termed "Traditionalist Hellenismos"[52] No reported numbers for current membership levels are known to exist.

Another active organization based in Greece, the Labrys religious community was founded in 2008. Labrys has focused primarily on the religious aspects of Hellenism or Hellenic polytheism, avoiding anti-Christian rhetoric and politics, establishing weekly public rituals[53] and engaging in other aspects of practical promotion of polytheism like theater and music.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60] Labrys has also promoted among Hellenes worldwide the need to actively practice household worship and the idea that family and community should be the starting points of religious practice.[61] The community has been organizing since 2008 the largest festival in Athens and also actively participates and supports the religious aspects of the oldest Hellenic festival in Greece, Prometheia[62] which is held every year on Mount Olympus. Labrys religious community has published the book about Hellenic Polytheism : Household Worship. Createspace. 2014-11-20. ISBN 9781503121881..

In Brazil, in Portuguese language, there is the website of RHB - Reconstrucionismo Helênico no Brasil,[63] built since 2003 by Brazilian members of Hellenion and other international groups, such as the American Neokoroi[64] and the Greek Thyrsos.[65]

See also


  1. ^ "Hellenism legally recognized as religion in Greece". wildhunt.org. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  2. ^ a b "Elaion FAQ". Elaion.org. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  3. ^ "HELLENISMOS - ΕΛΛΗΝΙΣΜΟΣ - www.HellenicGods.org". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Hellenismos FAQ (The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum)". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Δωδεκάθεον - Πύλη". Dwdekatheon.org. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  6. ^ "Societas Hellenica Antiquariorum - Helliniki Hetaireia Archaiophilon". Web.archive.org. 2009-10-27. Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  7. ^ "Thyrsos - Hellenes Gentiles". Thyrsos.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  8. ^ "Living Hellenic Reconstructionism". Archived from the original on 15 November 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Ta Hiera (The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum)". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  10. ^ Winter, Sarah Kate Istra (2008). KHARIS: Hellenic Polytheism Explored. CreateSpace. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-4382-3192-1.
  11. ^ "Sequential Tart: We Give to the Gods, They Give to Us (vol XI/iss 10/October 2008)". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  12. ^ Gregory, T. (1986). The Survival of Paganism in Christian Greece: A Critical Essay. The American Journal of Philology, 107(2), 229-242. doi:10.2307/294605
  13. ^ "Frequently asked questions about the Ethnic Hellenic religion and tradition: What do you think you will achieve by returning to the Ancient Ways in today's society?". Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  14. ^ "On Orthopraxy". Hellenismos.us. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  15. ^ "Hellenic Ethics:Living Virtues in Community". The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum. Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  16. ^ "The centrality of ethics in Dodekathiesm". Elaion. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  17. ^ "Wojciech Jan Rudny interviews a constitutional member of the Supreme Council of the Ethnikoi Hellenes (YSEE) on behalf of the polish "GNIAZDO" magazine". YSEE. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  18. ^ Jamil Said (2004). I Still Worship Zeus (DVD). Jamil Said Productions.
  19. ^ The periodic revival of aspects of the religion, such as in the arts, philosophy & etc is also an expression of a general European fascination with classicism & Hellenism. International Religious Freedom Report US State Dept. investigation into religious freedom in Greece (2004) and (2005) [1]
  20. ^ Brunwasser, Matthew (January–February 2005). "Letter From Greece: The Gods Return to Olympus". Archaeology Magazine. 58 (1). Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Salaman, Van Oyen, Wharton and Mahé,The Way of Hermes, p. 9
  23. ^ van den Broek and Hanegraaff (1997), p. vii.
  24. ^ Garstin, E.J. Langford (2004). Theurgy or The Hermetic Practice. Berwick: Ibis Press. Published Posthumously
  25. ^ "The Divine Pymander: The Tenth Book, the Mind to Hermes". www.sacred-texts.com.
  26. ^ a b c d e f "The Survival of Paganism". Fraser's Magazine, New Series vol. XII. July to December 1875. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.
  27. ^ Addey, Tim. Why Thomas Taylor is not the author of A New System of Religion. Prometheus Trust.
  28. ^ a b "Modern Platonism". The Annual Register, Or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1797. London: 1800, p. 438-439.
  29. ^ http://feraferia.org
  30. ^ Aquarian Tabernacle Church names new Arch Priest.
  31. ^ "Who We Are and What We Want". Ysee.gr. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  32. ^ Associated Press, Zeus Worshippers Demand Access to Temple. The New York Times, January 19, 2007
  33. ^ Ancient Greek gods' new believers. Retrieved February 10, 2007, from BBC News [2]
  34. ^ Carassava, A., Protesters Beseech the Gods at the Acropolis. The New York Times, August 31, 2008
  35. ^ Helena Smith (15 July 2002). "Drills and axes ravage ancient Greek site". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  36. ^ Extrajudicial protest - denunciation - statement of Greek Citizens, concerning the 2004 Olympics’ “mascot" choice Archived 2006-12-18 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Brunwasser, M. (2005). "Letter From Greece: The Gods Return to Olympus". Archaeology. Archaeology.org. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  38. ^ "There's a reason why Zeus is king of the gods and Hermes isn't - The House of Vines". The House of Vines. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  39. ^ "Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes". Ysee.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  40. ^ YSEE website.
  41. ^ "The organizational and operating structure of the YSEE". Ysee.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  42. ^ Ifikratis. "Who we are - Hellenic Religion. Church of Hellenes". Hellenicreligion.gr. Archived from the original on 2013-09-07. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  43. ^ Ayiomamitis, Paris (2007-01-21). "Modern Pagans Honor Zeus in Athens". Associated Press. Retrieved February 2007. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  44. ^ "Hellenion". Hellenion. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  45. ^ "Mission Statement". Hellenion. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  46. ^ Estimate based on annual membership dues reported in the Hellenion, Inc. Statement of Activities For the Year Ended December 31, 2007 Archived October 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine compared to the $10 required membership dues stated on their Member Application
  47. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Hellenion. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  48. ^ "Demoi and Proto Demoi". Hellenion. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  49. ^ "Clergy Program". Hellenion. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  50. ^ "Basic Adult Education". Hellenion. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  51. ^ "Hellenion's Approved Programs". Hellenion.org. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  52. ^ "From Hellenismos to Threskia to Dodekathiesm". Elaion. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  53. ^ "Heliodete weekly ritual". Labrys.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  54. ^ "Attica Dionysia festival 2009". Labrys.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  55. ^ "Attica Dionysia festival 2010". Dionysia.labrys.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  56. ^ "Attica Dionysia festival 2011". Dionysia.labrys.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  57. ^ "Attica Dionysia festival 2012". Dionysia.labrys.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  58. ^ "Attica Dionysia festival 2013". Dionysia.labrys.gr. Retrieved 2015-04-18.
  59. ^ "Attica Dionysia festival 2014". Dionysia.labrys.gr. Retrieved 2015-04-18.
  60. ^ "Kabeiros musical group". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  61. ^ "Hellenic Household Worship". Labrys.gr. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  62. ^ "Prometheia". Prometheia.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  63. ^ "Hellenic Reconstructionism in Brazil". Helenos.com.br. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  64. ^ "Neokoroi". Neokoroi. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  65. ^ "Thrysos". Thyrsos.gr. Retrieved 2014-06-10.

Further reading

  • Panopoulos, Christos (2014). Hellenic Polytheism - Household Worship. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1503121881.
  • Addey, Tim (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. Prometheus Trust. ISBN 978-1-898910-37-4.
  • Addey, Tim (2003). The Unfolding Wings: The Way of Perfection in the Platonic Tradition. Prometheus Trust. ISBN 978-1-898910-41-1.
  • Mikalson, Jon D (2004). Ancient Greek Religion (Blackwell Ancient Religions). Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-23223-0.
  • Stone, Tom (2008). Zeus: A Journey Through Greece in the Footsteps of a God. Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 978-1-58234-518-5.

External links

Hellenic polytheist organizations

FAQs and articles

Hellenic polytheism in the news


Arrhephoria was a feast among the Athenians, instituted in honor of Athena. The word is derived from the Greek term Ἀρρηφόρια, which is composed of ἀρρητον, "mystery", and φέρω, "I carry". This feast was also called Hersiphoria, from Herse, the daughter of Cecrops, on whose account it was established.

On the Athenian Acropolis two girls aged between seven and eleven were elected to live for a year at a time as arrhephoroi, tending the sacred olive tree and weaving, with the help of other women, the new robe for Athena. Proud parents commemorated their daughters' service by making dedications on the Acropolis. At the annual festival of the Arrhephoria the girls (according to Pausanias) placed on their heads what the priestess of Athena gives them to carry. Neither the priestess knows what it is she is giving them, nor do the girls. In the city there is a sacred precinct not far from that of Aphrodite in the Garden and through it runs a natural underground passage. Here the virgins descend. Down below they leave behind what they have brought and take something else and carry it, veiled as it is. These two virgins are discharged forthwith and others are taken up to the Acropolis in their place.Interpretation of the festival is difficult because of the lack of sources, but it is clear that the virginal arrhephoroi are chosen from the noblest families of the city and are deployed in a context of impregnation (dew), sexual power (Aphrodite and Eros), and birth (Erichthonios). The word "arrhephoros" etymologically probably means "dew carrier", which at first sight does not help. The arrhephoroi were charged with weaving the peplos (garments) for Athena. The aletrides ground the grain for Athena. The arkios were the priestesses who celebrated a rite intended to forgive an offense against Artemis. The kanephorai were the girls who carried the baskets with all of the offerings to the festival.Archaeological evidence reveals that from near the Erechtheion a secret stairway led off the Acropolis past a small rock-cut shrine of Eros and Aphrodite, near which was the precinct to which they were going. The mythical associations of the arrhephoroi are with their starting-point the Erechtheion. Kekrops, the first king of Athens, whose tomb was in the complex, had three daughters, Aglauros, Herse, and Pandrosos. The mystery revolves around innocence, obedience, and fecundity. They were given a closed basket by Athena who forbade them to open it. One night Aglauros and Herse gave in to curiosity, opened the basket, and saw Ericthonios, the mysterious child of Hephaestus. Snakes also appeared out of the basket, and in terror the two girls jumped off the Acropolis to their deaths. The sanctuary of Aglauros lies at the foot of the cliff; it may have been the precinct to which the arrhephoroi descended. Pandrosos, who did not succumb to this fatal curiosity, has a shrine next to the sacred olive tree on the Acropolis itself.

In the fifth century B.C. Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata which explained the stages of the women during this festival:

"When I was just seven, I was arrephoros, then at ten, I was aletris for the archegetis, then I carried the orange robe as arkios (bear) at Brauronia, and finally, having become a beautiful girl, I was kanephoros, with a necklace of dried figs."

These stages have certain tasks which display the ancient system that all girls must go by when reaching puberty. The stages of this "initiation" are as follows. The arrhephoroi comes first, and is a time when the girl dresses in white and begins to weave for the offering to Athena. This is an art that was frequently performed by women during the time, and therefore must be taught at a young age. The second stage is to teach the girl how to bake, specifically, how to bake bread. The third step is considered a symbol of death and resurrection. The girl must attend and participate in the festival with the older women. These stages are all tasks that the girl will use for the rest of her life, and therefore are held with high importance and expectation.

It is believed through sources that Attica was one of the first in history to have one of these festivals.Modern followers of Hellenism (religion) celebrate it 3 Skirophorion, in accordance with the Attic calendar.

Culture of Greece

The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaean Greece, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, through the influence of the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine Empire. Other cultures and states such as the Frankish states, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic and Bavarian and Danish monarchies have also left their influence on modern Greek culture, but historians credit the Greek War of Independence with revitalising Greece and giving birth to a single entity of its multi-faceted culture.

Greece is widely considered to be the cradle of Western culture and democracy. Modern democracies owe a debt to Greek beliefs in government by the people, trial by jury, and equality under the law. The ancient Greeks pioneered in many fields that rely on systematic thought, including biology, geometry, history, philosophy, and physics. They introduced such important literary forms as epic and lyric poetry, history, tragedy, and comedy. In their pursuit of order and proportion, the Greeks created an ideal of beauty that strongly influenced Western art.


The Dionysia () was a large festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the central events of which were the theatrical performances of dramatic tragedies and, from 487 BC, comedies. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia. The Dionysia actually consisted of two related festivals, the Rural Dionysia and the City Dionysia, which took place in different parts of the year. They were also an essential part of the Dionysian Mysteries.


The Elaphebolia (Έλαφηβόλια) was an ancient Greek festival held at Athens and Phocis during the month of Elaphebolion (March/April dedicated to Artemis Elaphebolos (deer slayer). In the town of Hyampolis in Phocis, it would have been instituted by the inhabitants to commemorate a victory against the Thessalians.

Cakes in the shape of stags were offered to the goddess during the festival.

Modern followers of Hellenism (religion) observe Elaphebolia as a holiday. The date for 2016 is March 15.

Greek Muslims

Greek Muslims, also known as Greek-speaking Muslims, are Muslims of Greek ethnic origin whose adoption of Islam (and often the Turkish language and identity) dates to the period of Ottoman rule in the southern Balkans. They consist primarily of the descendants of the elite Ottoman Janissary corps and Ottoman-era converts to Islam from Greek Macedonia (e.g., Vallahades), Crete (Cretan Muslims), northeastern Anatolia and the Pontic Alps (Pontic Greeks). They are currently found mainly in western Turkey (particularly the regions of Izmir, Bursa, and Edirne) and northeastern Turkey (particularly in the regions of Trabzon, Gümüşhane, Sivas, Erzincan, Erzurum, and Kars (see also Caucasus Greeks of Georgia and Kars Oblast and Islam in Georgia).

Despite their ethnic Greek origin, the contemporary Grecophone Muslims of Turkey regarding their identity have been steadily assimilated into the Turkish-speaking (and in the northeast Laz-speaking) Muslim population. Apart from their elders, sizable numbers, even the young within these Grecophone Muslim communities have retained a knowledge of Greek and or its dialects such as Cretan Greek and Pontic Greek, though very few are likely to call themselves Greek Muslims. This is due to gradual assimilation into Turkish society, as well as the close association of Greece and Greeks with Orthodox Christianity and their perceived status as a historic, military threat to the Turkish Republic. In Greece, Greek-speaking Muslims are not usually considered as forming part of the Greek nation. In the late Ottoman period (particularly following the Greco-Turkish war of 1897–98) several communities of Grecophone Muslims from Crete and southern Greece were also relocated to Libya, Lebanon and Syria, where in towns like al-Hamidiyah some of the older generation continue to speak Greek. Historically, Greek Orthodoxy has been associated with being Romios, i.e. Greek, and Islam with being Turkish, despite ethnic or linguistic references.Most Greek speaking Muslims in Greece left for Turkey during the 1920s population exchanges under the Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations (sometimes in return for Turkish-speaking Christians such as the Karamanlides). Due to the historical role of the millet system, religion and not ethnicity or language was the main factor used during the exchange of populations. All Muslims who departed Greece were seen as "Turks", whereas all Orthodox people leaving Turkey were considered "Greeks", regardless of ethnicity or language. An exception was made for Muslims (Pomaks and Western Thrace Turks) who inhabit east of river Nestos which is in East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece, who are officially recognized as a religious, but controversially not as an ethnic minority by the Greek Government.In Turkey, where most Greek-speaking Muslims live, there are various groups of Grecophone Muslims, some autochthonous, some from parts of present-day Greece and Cyprus who migrated to Turkey under the population exchanges or immigration.


Onolatry is the supposed worship of the donkey. In Imperial Rome, the charge of onolatry was used by the pagans to taunt the Jews and first Christians. The association of Jews with donkeys was a common feature of Hellenic as well as Latin ethnographic and historical writings, and included accusations of worshipping a golden donkey head and even sacrificing foreigners to it at intervals. A famous example of this is the Alexamenos graffito.The charge was likely first used against Jews in Egypt, where donkeys were at some points associated with Set, the murderer of Osiris who is in turn destroyed by Isis. It is first attested in the late first century BCE, and was used against Christians extensively in the first and second centuries CE before disappearing almost entirely in the third. The accusation against the Christians is discussed by Tertullian and Minucius Felix, among other early Christian apologists.Arthur Bernard Cook, in an 1894 article, argued that there had been an ancient Mycenaean cult practicing onolatry, citing a fresco depicting donkey-headed figures found near a sacrificial pit and several carved gems apparently showing people wearing donkeys' heads and skins holding sacrificial objects, and further describing the diverse roles asses played in Ancient Greek mythology. His interpretation was challenged at the time by Andrew Lang in Longman's Magazine.

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