Letter To the Grammateus #1

Bacchus and Ariadne

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As the Grammateus (Secretary) of Hellenion, I receive some very interesting letters.  Often these are queries concerning our policies and how we practice.  As I’ve been processing new and renewing members this autumn in lieu of the 2010 Annual General Meeting, I came across one particularly interesting letter with some excellent questions.  I also have my response from earlier this spring, and would like to share both here.  Some people who are new to Hellenic Polytheism and the modern reconstruction thereof might be interested, particularly those interested in joining Hellenion.  I have omitted the author of the original query and his/her contact information in order to protect his/her privacy.

Hello, my name is [omitted], and I’ve inquired about Hellenion in the past.  Since that time, I’ve been studying various aspects of Greek religion.  Mainly Dionysian mythos and cultus.  One of the most confusing parts for me is the months and dates.  I know various parts of Greece had different calendars paced on their individual festivals.  I guess that and the differences from our modern day calendar is the basis of this confusion.

Anyhow, I’m interested in joining Hellenion and therefore have a multitude of questions.  For that reason I’ve numbered them to make them easier to address.

  1. Is membership still $10 and when is it due?
  2. What is Hellenion’s stance on “Mystery Traditions?”
  3. What is Hellenion’s stance on Thiosoi, or “religious fraternities?”
  4. Is there a conversion table for our festival year in comparison to today’s calendar?
  5. Is there a prescribed form of study or course for ordination?
  6. What are the requirements for Demos formation?
  7. Are there any regulations concerning Hellenion Demoi creating temples?
  8. What would it take to get sent a copy of the Hellenion Handbook?
  9. Can you please send me your introductory pamphlets?
  10. If a Demos or individual put together a publication for reconstruction concerning a specific cult, could they submit it to the council for approval or recognition by Hellenion?

I know there are a lot of questions being presented here.  But it’s only because I am serious about joining Hellenion and reconstructing the Cult of Dionysus.  I’m only interested in the Cult of Donysus prior to the Orphic Mysteries.

have a great idea for a Demos or Deme of Dionysus.  It would be for public services as far as festival rites and family rituals.  But within the demos I’d also like to form a Thiasos of Dionysus.  A church and fraternity, if you will.

The Demos name, just an idea at this time, would be “Dionysus Ekklesia Hellenion.”  I’m not sure if that’s grammatically correct or not.  But it should be “The Dionysian Assembly of Hellenion.”  The symbol would be the four Deltas of Hellenion with an ivy leaf center.

As I’ve said it’s just an idea.  But I’d like to form a Council of Dionysus, so to speak, upon my release.  Basically a Dionysian study group from which to build the said idea.  I’d also like this group to create what I’ve termed ‘Dionysia Anagrapha,’ a handbook outlining mythos, rituals, hymns, offices, and maybe even the history of the Cult of Dionysus.

I could go on and on, and I know I have great expectations, but I really think that there will be a great response to the idea.  But, I don’t want to drag this letter out too much.  Any information or feedback can be sent to the address below.  Until then, may the Olympians favor you and the Chthonians shun you.

The following was my reply:

Tois [omitted] para Alexandra Bond:

Subject: Your Inquiries Concerning Joining Hellenion

It is good to connect with you again, [omitted].  I will answer your questions and provide you with the information you have requested to the best of my ability.

  • The membership due is still $10.  You may apply for membership at any time, but membership is renewed annually by September 15th.  If you apply now, you would also send a renewal form and $10 just before September 15th, 2010.  If you cannot afford the membership fee, you may apply to the Prutaneis for a waiver by asking for it in writing on your membership application or renewal form.
  • Hellenion does not currently have a stance on Mystery Traditions.  But it would be an interesting discussion, I’m sure!
  • Currently, demoi are based on geographical location and these local congregations may or may not have particular orientation or devotion to one or more gods.  If you are interested in founding a group that spans over geographical regions, such as Kyklos Apollon, it would exist outside of our demos structure.  However, the current administration is interested in expanding our options for forming groups like sponsoring religious fraternities (thiasoi) that are not bound in local demos groups.
  • We don’t have a published conversion table, per se, as festivals were celebrated at different points of the year depending on the city and period in history.  However we do publish an annual calendar based on several sources.  Our calendar for 2010, based on monthly and annual observances of the ancient Athenians from 800 BCE to 232 BCE, may be found here: http://www.hellenion.org/calendar/calendar2010vb.pdf
  • As a benefit of membership, Hellenion members are invited to join our Basic Adult Education course, which teaches basic history, mythology, and practice of Hellenic Polytheism.  We also have a Clergy Education Program, designed to prepare candidates for ordination, available to members who are in good standing for one year and have graduated from the Basic Adult Education Course.  The Clergy Education Program Student Handbook can be found here: http://www.hellenion.org/clergystudenthandbook2005.pdf
  • The requirements and guidance for forming and running a demos can be found here, which includes information on naming a new demos:

o      Bylaws Article 4: http://www.hellenion.org/Bylaws.html#Article4

o      A Manual for the Hellenion Demos: http://www.hellenion.org/Biblion.html

  • Demoi may certainly have their own temples, and many members look forward to having one or more.  The issue of buying land for this purpose is discussed in the Demos Manual under section 4.13.2  The issue of tax exemption for the property is also discussed in that section and in the context of making donations to Hellenion in section 4.13.1.
  • I am not certain what the “Hellenion Handbook” refers to, but if you are referring to Old Stones New Temples, the electronic version is available with Hellenion membership.  If you are interested in web-based resources, several are available at our Temenos site:

o      http://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/Home

  • As requested, I’ve included introductory brochures about Hellenion’s programs and practices.
  • A member or demos could certainly contribute a publication for approval and recognition by Hellenion to the Prutaneis.  As the membership officer, I would be more than happy to submit these personally on behalf of a member or demos.  We are always interested in reconstructing what has been lost and contributing to the modern body of knowledge.

Your enthusiasm is both moving and inspiring! Personally, I think Hellenion would support and encourage you to found a demos, temple, and publish.  I think the issue of founding a formal thiasos, available across geographical regions, could be also discussed at our Annual General Meeting this summer as well.

I hope I will soon welcome you as our newest member and look forward to the fruition of your plans!

Ta d’ alla, seautou epimelou hin hugiaineis,
(For the rest, take care to stay well)

Alexandra Bond
‘Alexandra Doroqia bwnd
Grammateus, Demos Valley of Heart’s Delight
Bouleutai kai Grammateus, Hellenion

What is your stance on mystery traditions and religious fraternities?  Are you interested in joining Hellenion, but have questions? Are you interested in the formation of nationally recognized Polytheistic churches and/or clergy?   Feel welcome to post your questions and thoughts here.

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