It Came from the Search Terms, April Issue

Every once in a while, I answer the questions that people typed into search engines to find this blog. Except for adding punctuation, I don’t change the wording. Enjoy!

How did greek oracles better tune there visions?

Every oracle had a particular method of divination. These included motion of objects in the spring, movements of birds,  cracks in the bones of animals, rustling of leaves, interpreted dreams, etc, and were all considered valid indicators for divination. Some established oracles were those of Zeus at Dodona, Apollo at Delphi and many more. Oracles were priestesses, often educated in temples devoted to particular gods. This means that more experienced priestesses trained them, and acolytes gained the benefit of practice before taking on the mantle of authority. They had the benefit of institutional structure and mentorship. Of course, more detailed questions presented to the oracle would help them focus.

A patron god or goddess and how to know?

It sounds like you think you might have a patron god or goddess but want to be sure. My best advice would be to continue reaching out to the deity in question – make offerings and libations, ask for specific favors – and see what happens. If you see objectively that your god is granting your request (and you’re holding up your end of the bargain) and subjectively you feel something inside when you speak to Him or Her, then you have a relationship. Another idea, if you have very specific questions like “Are you my patron?” is to write your question in a journal before you go to sleep, then the god may answer it for you in your dream. Regardless, as soon as you wake up before even getting out of bed, open your journal and begin writing. Don’t let any doubts or thoughts filter what you’re writing, just write for about 15-20 minutes or three pages. Then stop and see what you’ve written. You may recall your dream or have your answer.

Hellenism holy book?

The only state-recognized church in the US is Hellenion, and it had previously published an overview book of modern Hellenism called Old Stones New Temples which is currently under revision. Though our sources, which are divinely inspired, are Hesiod and Homer. Currently there is discussion in Hellenion about whether or not to produce a modern ‘holy book’, but this is a controversial issue.

Maxims of delphi hellenion.

The original Delphic Maxims can be found here. Though there are maxims that are no longer followed in modern Hellenism, such as “Rule your wife (Γυναικος αρχε)”. Modernizing the maxims is an interesting idea for a holy book, should Hellenion decide to produce one.

Can gods die?

I suppose that depends on if 1. You believe that time is linear (a modern idea) and not cyclical (an ancient idea, discussed by Herodotus among others) and therefore there is a permanence to death, and 2. If you count transforming into another deity, or part of a deity, death. Even though they were overthrown, many Titans such as Prometheus and Atlas were imprisoned but not killed. Early Titan wives of Zeus such as Metis (goddess of wisdom, skill, and craft) did not remain in the same form. Because She was both important and a threat to Zeus, prophesied to have powerful children with him, He tricked her into transforming into a fly and Athena was born. Does this mean She is dead?

On the soft polytheist side, we could argue that since there is still deep thought in the world, that the embodiment and essence of thought is not dead. On the hard polytheist side, the question of she died is open vs. if She is still inside Zeus (as He and His siblings were once swallowed but were able to escape), whether She ceased to be because She was transformed, or if She is actually reborn as Athena. It’s like asking if water cease to be water when it evaporates.

What is the difference between a demigod and a god?

A demigod is a hero, born of one god and one mortal parent. A demigod is between mortal and immortal, and therefore able to perform super-human feats but aren’t immortal (unless transformed into a god). They have the benefit of being able to travel between realms; which is off-limits to all but psychopomps, messenger gods, and mortals who have recently died. Some demigods, such as Hercules, had their own temples and many were worshiped as champions of the people – more approachable than gods.

Demigods, and their cult followings, are very similar to how today we sacrifice a great deal of time, money, and attention in tribute to super hero characters. They inspire the best (and worst) in us, live among us, and champion us, but aren’t totally human.

Reader Question #2: How do you start believing when you don’t (even if you know it would be good for you)?

Dear readers, a reminder: Helleneste kai Grammateus is open to questions. To take advantage of this, please read the Site Policy and complete the Ask a Question form. As always, this is a free service, but if you wish to help support this blog, I greately appreciate donations.

This comment came in response to a previous article, Why believe in divinity if you can’t prove it’s real?

One slight problem: if you know you’re just deluding yourself in order to live longer and healthier, how do you even believe? For those that aren’t, the fact that being religious is correlated to better health is of no significance. -Quintin

Continue reading

Reader Question #1: Is it morally wrong to break with my parents’ religion?

As previously announced, I’ve decided to take interesting comments, questions, and topics posted to Helleneste kai Grammateus and answer them in longer articles. You can take advantage of my offer after reading the Site Policy and completing the Ask a Question form. As always, this is a free service, but if you wish to help support this blog, you can make a donation.

Below is the first question that set me off doing this. It was a comment in reply to article on How to Find Your Patron Goddess or God, and it’s a really important one.

I’m a Catholic and I have been drawn too this religion, I’m not sure what it is but I love the gods but I will feel terrible for leaving my religion, I’m barely a teenager but like I said its like I’m being drawn too this, and I have been searching this stuff all day and it just feels right somehow I’m confused, would it be bad for me too leave my religion behind and start again??


Continue reading

The Status of Helleneste kai Grammateus


As  you know, I stepped down from the officer role of Grammateus (Secretary) of Hellenion in order to focus on my graduate studies, and consequently, had stopped updating Helleneste kai Grammateus as regularly as I liked. Part of the problem was that I ran out of a lot of the easy ideas to write about and wasn’t sure what you all wanted to discuss. That said, I check in now and again and recently found some really interesting comments that inspired in me some epic blog-length replies. So I asked myself, “Self, wouldn’t these make great blog posts on their own?” and I answered, “Self, I’m sure other people beyond the LWs would be interested in these replies. Why don’t we look into not only posting them as new articles, but making this cool thing happen more often?” I agreed, and so the meeting was adjourned and I set myself to work on updates, while sipping cool cup of cold-pressed coffee, of course.

Therefore, I’m hereby opening the blog to suggested topics, questions, or problems relating to modern Hellenic Polytheism, methods for reconstructing and modernizing ancient religions, and religion/spirituality/philosophy questions in general. To take advantage of this, click here to find the Ask a Question Form.

Coupled with that, I developed a Site Policy and a Support and Donate page.*

Lastly, after some very exciting changes within Hellenion over the course of the last year, I stepped up during the current Annual General Meeting and accepted a nomination to join the Prutaneis (Board of Directors). We’ll see if I’m elected, but regardless, I’m expecting topics of interest to come more frequently across my bow and I look forward to sharing them here, when appropriate. And if it continues to go well, and I survive graduate school, I may set my sights on becoming an ordained member of the Hellenion clergy – which would lead to yet more contemplations written by your online Hellenic scribe.😉

*I was inspired greatly by one of my favorite bloggers, Captain Awkward, who seems to have this advice column thing down.

Orphic Hymn to Aurora

We had the great pleasure of entertaining Melissa of the Bees in our home before she flew back to Canada. She saw my window-side altar to our household gods and was moved to sing the Orphic Hymn to Aurora (Dawn) in ancient Greek. We recorded her lovely offering and it’s available on her channel where many of her other beautiful songs can be found.  See her video on her YouTube channel for her additional notes on the song.

An Appeal to Modern Writers, Mythologists, Seers, Oracles, Diviners, and Devotees of the Gods

iced coffee

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been silent here since I started my MFA program, largely because the moũsai (muses) and my work ethic have given me little rest.  But I was deeply moved to return when I came upon the stories of a modern writer.  I just can’t wait to share this!  Let me introduce him:

Eric Burns of Banter Latte described why and (perhaps more importantly) how we need to create our own mythology in a way that it can live in harmony with science (or at least not contradict it too badly) and reflect the world today.  At risk of obscuring his message, I’ll simply quote his first article on the subject “Mythology of the Modern World: Introduction and Coffee” in its entirety below.  I recommend starting there, and then checking out all of his modern myths.  Also check out the comments – they’re both amusing and enlightening – he often explains his choice of names for particular gods and loci.  My only regret is that he seems to have stopped writing in 2007, which leaves me both unsatisfied but also compelled to carry this on further.  You can find more of his stories and essays on modern mythology in the side panel there under the Blogroll or under the Must Read! header, but I’ll probably repost my favorites here too.

When you’ve read this appeal, consider your role in modernizing mythology.  What myths would you tell to explain modern mysteries?  How would you retell the old myths in a way that’s relevant today? Continue reading

Hellenion’s 2011 Hellenic Festival Calendar

By Ivy Izzard. Available for print and use on altars at Redbubble. Hera is honored by Hellenion in January on the second Saturday of the month.

Hellenion’s 2011 Calendar is available for download at Hellenion’s website.  I’ve also included it here for download from Helleneste kai Grammateus.  The calendar is also available in webpage form.

If you use Google calendars, go to Hellenion’s Google calendar to integrate it into your schedule.

This year many of the holy days are linked to pages online which describe the ancient festivals, some with suggestions for how to celebrate them in the modern world.  To read about all of them at once, go to our Temenos site list of festivals.  The Temenos site can be edited by any Hellenion member.  So if you are a member, you can add how you celebrate the holy days to our collective experience there!  Regardless of whether you are a member of Hellenion, your personal experiences are also welcome on Hellenion Chat, which is affectionately called “Hellenion’s Front Porch”.

By using this calendar and the festival resources available at the Temenos, you’ll be celebrating alongside fellow Hellenic Polytheists.  We look forward to celebrating with you!