“Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and Aphrogeneia (the foam-born) because she grew amid the foam.” -Hesiod, Theogony 176.
A few depictions of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, in ancient Greek pottery.
Aphrodite on a swan (detail). Tondo from an Attic white-ground red-figured kylix. From tomb F43 in Kameiros (Rhodes). Pistoxenos Painter, circa 460 BC. Courtesy of the British Museum, GR 1869.10-7.77. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
GREECE, Corinth: The world’s largest solar-powered boat, “MS Turanor PlanetSolar” sails through the Corinth Canal near the town of Corinth on July 28, 2014. The boat arrived to Greece as part of a joint archaeological project focused on underwater exploration off one of Europe’s oldest human occupation sites, the Franchthi cave in the Argolid, southeast Peloponnese. The project is taking place in one of Greece’s richest archaelogical areas, the Argolid, known for its major palatial complexes in the Bronze Age that include Mycenae and Tiryns and later, classical-era city-states and sites like Argos and the ancient-theatre site of Epidaurus. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE GACHE
Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Paris, France; it is the most visited cemetery in the world and is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Europe (by nora ver).
A little preview of the Blood Milk “belonging to the darkness” nesting band that will be forthcoming in the shop.This Victorian inspired crescent moon holds 4 small black czs & perfectly cradles the belonging to the darkness ring. This band is close to being released and will also be available in rose gold vermeil as well as with beautiful moonstone and labradorite. It was also designed to be worn singularly & has beautiful details I’m excited to reveal soon.
Take five and play some music at your home shrine. Try doing one (or more than one, or all) of the following:
- Put a favorite song on the radio and play it at your Home Shrine. Don’t forget to invite your Gods/Spirits/Thoughtforms/Entities to accept the offering (or even join in)!
- Dance to the music.
- Sing something.
- Play a musical instrument? Play a song or solo!
- Dedicate some music practice to one of your Gods/Entities/Thoughtforms/Spirits.
Spread the devotion (and, more importantly, the good music) by reblogging this post with your song of choice!
Today in the Hellenic Calendar:
- According to the Attic calendar, it’s the 1st of the month of Metageitnión.
- The Hellenic Calendar is made up of four-year cycles based on when the Olympics were held in ancient Olympia. We are in the second year of the 698th Olympiad.
- The 1st of the lunar month is sacred to all Theoi, but especially Apollon Noumenios (the aspect of Apollon that oversees safe transition into a new month), Selene, and all Household Theoi (including but not limited to Hekate, Hermes, Zeus Ktesios, and the Agathodaimon). Hellenismo also lists Helios, Hera, and Artemis Noumenia (Artemis of the New Moon) as holy Theoi for this day. You don’t need to go overboard in your devotions—at least honor Apollon Noumenios and Selene, Titaness of the Moon!
- Keep an eye out for: the Herakleia, held on the 2nd of the lunar month, during which it is appropriate to hold feasts in the God’s honor; and the Eleusinia, during which the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone are honored as Patrons of the agricultural and harvest calendars.
- Drew Campbell’s list of daily devotions suggests reading Orphic Hymns 33 to Apollon and 75 to the Mousai.
- NOTE: Regarding the Orphic Hymns, the public-domain Thomas Taylor translation combines the first two prayers (#0, “To Musaeus,” and #1, “To Hecate”) into one ginormous prayer. The Apostolos Athanassakis translation keeps the two separate. Theoi.com uses Taylor’s Translation (again, because it’s public domain), but Drew Campbell drew from Athanassakis. So if, say, Campbell suggests using Hymn 34 (“To Apollo”), Your Mod will follow Taylor’s numbering system and link to Hymn 33 on Theoi.com. The more you know~
- For those of you who would like to learn ancient Greek, this day of the months is called the noumenía (roughly pronounced “noo-men-EE-yah”), meaning “the new moon.”
- The ancient Hellens divided their lunar month into three sets of 10 days (or two of 10 and one of 9), called “decades,” rather than a number of 7-day weeks. The first decade is considered to be a good time for starting new projects.
- Go visit this Tumblr e-shrine to Selene!
- Also check out this e-shrine to Apollon!
- Know any good e-shrines? Have any suggestions or corrections? Send an ask or a fan-mail!
Pectoral en or et émail serpents de René Lalique, 1898-99.
Snakes’ pectoral by René Lalique. Gold & enamel, Paris, 1898-99.
I am of the rather strong opinion that modern witchcraft has no place in Hellenismos—especially when that witchcraft is defined as acts which allow humanity influence over their lives and those of others, outside of the realm of the Gods. I call anything else ‘praying’, and if you need tools for that, than I take no issue besides the fact that it’s non-Traditional—save for when it is.
Something I often hear about the ancient Hellenic religion, and prescribed about its modern equivalent, is that there was no magic in ancient Hellas. This is true. It’s also a lie. It all depends on your definition of magic, and for the purpose of this reply, we are going to see magic as a form of prayer and ritual, conducted outside of the usual ritual steps. The Theoi were always invoked, but for magic, the sacrifices were usually to the khthonic, or Underworld Gods. When reading this post about a very specific subset of this type of magic, try to disassociate it with the modern use of the word: the same goes for ‘spells’, ‘cursing’, and ‘binding’.
The ancient Hellenes were a competitive people, and struggled with many of the issues we do today: the urge to perform well, the desire for justice to be served, and a need for love. Prayers for these things were made often, usually in their normal ritualized form at the house altar. If these requests were made against, or at the expense of another person, however, they were generally taken out of the realm of regular worship and kharis, and into the realm of the khthonic. The preferred form were katadesmoi.
Katadesmoi are relatively small tablets, inscribed with a desire asked of the Theoi to fulfil. The Katadesmoi that have survived were generally made out of very thin sheets of lead, which were then rolled, folded or pierced with nails. Wax, papyrus, stone, precious metals, and precious minerals would also have been used as a medium. Some katadesmoi were accompanied by a small doll representing the intended victim or even a lock of their hair, especially in the case of love spells. In general, the katadesmoi always included the name of the intended victim and the name(s) of the appropriated Gods—most often Hades, Kharon, Hekate, and Persephone. Exceptions have been found, of course.
There have been around 1600 katadesmoi found around the whole of Hellas, and the practice was wide-spread. In fact, for the Olympic Games, competitors had to vow to Olympian Zeus that they would not cheat, and curse their opponents. Divine retribution would befall those competitors who did. A large percentage of the katadesmoi found contained love spells (“I want [name] to love me beyond all others”), or legal desires (“May [name] stumble on his words in defence of himself”), but many other ill wishes have been found.
Katadesmoi were usually deposited where they would be closest to the Underworld: in chasms, pools of water, wells, caves, temples to the deity in question, buried underground, or placed in graves. The latter was usually a special form, however, and the katadesmoi placed with the dead were usually requests to avenge the death of the deceased.
In general, katadesmoi were used out of desperation: regular channels had been exhausted, human courts would never convict the perpetrator of a crime, or the murderer could not be found. Pleading with the Gods—who knew more, saw more, and had a much farther reach—was considered the only alternative to get justice. This was even the case in many love spells. Katadesmoi were not made willy-nilly: there needed to be a strong incentive to make one.
One other such incentive was the fear that a katadesmos curse had been placed upon you. In this case, the subject of the curse could make their own, and ask that the perpetrator of the katadesmos may suffer for it, and that his or her katadesmos may have no effect at all, except maybe to backfire on them. In this case, the katadesmos acts as a binding curse.
There is magic in the Classics as well; the most famous witch in Hellenic mythology is undoubtedly Kirkê (Κιρκη)—better known by her Roman name, Circe. She is the woman whom Odysseus comes upon on the island Aiaia, who turns his men into pigs, and keeps Odysseus with her—and in her bed, no less—for a year before she helps him get back to his quest to return home. The account of Kirkê is one of the founding myths for the modern witch stereotype: she is the evil temptress, free with her sexuality, and freer with the magic that women possess by nature. She seduces Odysseus while beguiling his men, transforming them into docile animals—de-humanizing them, and stripping them of their masculinity. In the end, Odysseus overcomes her, and leaves, outside of her grasp forever. At least, that is the modern interpretation of her character.
Kirkê, in the time of Hómēros was not evil at all, yet she was dangerous. Kirkê, when looked at through the lens of ancient Hellenic society, is Odysseus’ superior by far. It may seem a bit off-topic to go into this, but I must to make my point. Kirkê is the daughter of the Sun God Helios—which makes her a Goddess in her own right, but a more accurate term would be ‘Nymph’, putting her in control of nature. Her pedigree—by default—means that Odysseus can never master her, as Odysseus may be the favourite of the Gods, but he is not divine himself.
So, what of her magic? Kirkê is a Goddess whose powers manifest through herbs; what she does to men is not much different as many other—more powerful—Gods do unto humans as well with just a thought; Hellenic mythology is full of humans who get turned into animals (or plants) for their protection, or for the protection of the God in question. It’s important to note that in the Odysseia, Kirkê’s ‘victims’ are happy and domesticated; they are friendly and curious to visitors and Kirkê alike.
Kirkê’s status over Odysseus takes her away from being a witch in the modern sense; she is a Goddess, and as someone lower in standing, Odysseus’ wishes are something she can take into advisement but only needs to agree upon out of a sense of honour, not because her magical hold over him has broken. She never controls Odysseus—the moly potion/herb Odysseus is given establishes that—and they work out an agreement where they are on roughly equal footing, with Kirkê forever having the upper hand, but bound by her personal honour and oath to Odysseus. Her magic—her divinity—is made a moot point between them.
The Odysseia gives plenty of reasons why the words ‘witch’ and ‘witchcraft’ are dangerous for modern interpretation. These powers—and those that use them—are established as divine, taking these powers fully outside of the realm of humanity. Yes, there was ‘magic’ and ‘witchcraft’ in ancient Hellas and its mythology, but not in the way we know it now; this was divine magic; a manifestation of a trait major Gods manifest with a thought. These lesser deities require a medium to manifest their powers—especially in the case of Kirkê—but their powers are still the powers of a God. This is exactly why I feel we, as Hellenists, should pray to the Gods for any aid we might require, and blessings we would wish upon our lives; to practice magic ourselves would be to equate ourselves with the (minor) Gods, and Hellenismos is clear upon the status of humans: we are human, not divine. To practice magic is to practice hubris, and that is decidedly dangerous in a Hellenistic context.
Again, I want to stress that this concerns Traditional Hellenismos—as everything on this blog does. That is my practice, and it is what I understand best. If you want to practice magic; go for it. Who am I to tell you can or cannot do something? As for Asatru; it’s hard—and in my opinion useless—to compare ancient cultures like this. The people were different, the thoughts about the divine were different, and unless you are a soft polytheist who conflates all Gods and Goddesses, lumping them and their culture together is detrimental to all Gods in question. Again, my opinion. Magic is a touchy subject in Hellenismos because it borders on hubris, and as a Traditional Hellenist I find myself shying away from everything that could possibly induce hubris and damage my kharis with the Gods. I gave up my magical practice—as sporadic as it was—once I progressed into Hellenismos. It’s a personal choice, but one that was very clear for me. How you decide is up to you.
Pick a coin for Charon, press it
cold between your fingers.
Grave dirt beneath your feet
shifts, in silence. A stone
ploinks into the stagnant water.
Ripples jitter against the boat
as it draws near, first one size,
then another. As vast
as a repose of souls, and as narrow.
How many cross with you?
His hand is empty when he takes your coin.
Hunched on the shore, Kerberos growls;
you sway away from his snuffling noses.
You have forgotten much but the figure
awaiting you is so dark he shines, a god,
the only god left to you. His hand
on your head is a benediction,