Alright, let’s talk about hubris.
HUBRIS is insolence or impertinence from powerful exaggerated feelings which result from the transgression of the METRON (Measure) as a rule in the form of unethical expression due to arrogance, greed, excess or the blind pursuit of wealth and power. HUBRIS is…
I GOT MY TAROT OF DELPHI! YES.
OKAY Y’ALL SHOULD ORDER THIS DECK CAUSE IT’S SO FREAKIN AWESOME.
Gotta say though, the Magician card likes like it’s feed up with everyone’s shit. Or it’s super offended. xD
But the feels I get from this deck are magical. <3 I love it already!
I WANT IT SO BAD ;O;
[longingly touches the screen and weeps]
Sorry again for the slowness guys! I’m still in a bit of a rut, but getting better, and hope to really get on track with my religion again. It feels pretty bad when it seems like I had to put it on the backburner, but I definitely need to get my health in check. I’d love to feel more active again and immerse myself back into all kinds of discussions and shenanigans with you all eventually! I miss you all!
We’re about two centuries too late to worship like the ancient Hellenes did, I fear. Our society has changed substantially, an many staples of ancient Hellenic worship are simply not feasible anymore (animal sacrifice, anyone?). As such, I don’t think we can worship like the ancient Hellenics did. Having said that, though, I think you can take one of two approaches: you either look forward and modernize the religion, or look back and try to recreate as much as you can. I’m one of the people who tries to do the latter. I think we have freedom in filling up the gaps and finding alternatives where we really have to, but in general, I advocate staying close to the source material—as close as we possibly can. If that is also your path is entirely up to you.
Personally, I think Hellenists need to have a belief in the supernatural. Supernaturalism is the belief that events and values require supernatural powers or authority for their explanation. It is opposed by naturalism, which is the belief that all objects, events, and even values can be fully explained in terms of factual and/or causal claims about the natural world. Naturalism is on the rise in Paganism and I have no problem with it. I just do not think it has any place at all in Hellenismos. As a religion, I feel it is required to believe in the Theoi as actual being who have actual
influence on your life. Else, you are just going through the motions. To put it bluntly: the ancient Hellens believed, thus so should the modern reconstructionist practitioner. Starting out with a shaky faith is fine; you can grow into faith. Going into it with a set mind that the supernatural does not exist? Not so useful, in my opinion.
As such, I think Hellenists are called to see the myths of the Theoi as a literal interpretation of the nature of the Divine, as well as history as a whole. What happened in the myths, literally happened. It means seeing the divine in everything. Lightning is just as much a scientific phenomenon as Zeus’ mighty weapon cast down upon the earth. The little girl who guided Odysseus to the palace of Alcinous was just as much a little girl as the personification of Athena. The two overlap and co-exist. And as such, Hēraklēs’ madness was brought on by Hera, and—at an even more basic level—Hēraklēs existed. He may have existed in multiple men, but there was once a man so powerful that he could only be the child of Zeus, and the many extraordinary things he did could only be attributed to a man aided by the Theoi. Literalism is tied to supernaturalism in a way that can not be untied, and as such, I feel
it is part of Hellenismos. To chalk the myths up to metaphor is to deny the Theoi.
Not agreeing with this interpretation of Hellenismos is perfectly alright. Hellenism lacks standardization, and while I feel that will become an issue down the line, all our different viewpoints work for now. I hope this answers your questions.
Ohhhh boy, do I ever! Most of what a Google search will find on this magnificent Goddess is based upon later sources, or are moderately recent inventions. Note that I have no problem with that: I believe the Theoi can change—especially in the eyes of the people who worship Them—and one of the ways They do so is by the practice of epithets. So, in my personal practice, this modern version of Hekate is an epithet of Her that I respect, but do not offer sacrifice to. Yet, even in the time of the ancient Hellenes, Hekate’s domains were entirely re-invented, so to say She would not have changed after the fall of the Hellenic empire seems not only futile to me, but disrespectful to a very adaptable Titan Goddess.
Hekate's (Ἑκατη) worship was most likely imported from Thrace or Anatolia, where—especially at the latter—records were found of children being named after Her. This version of Her is single-faced, rules in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea, is a Theia of childbirth—to both animals and humans—and it is She who bestows wealth on mortals, victory, wisdom, good luck to sailors and hunters, and prosperity to youth and to the flocks of cattle. Yet, if mortals do not deserve Her gifts, she can withhold them from them just as easily. After the Titanomachy, Zeus bestowed upon Her the highest of honors. This is the Hekate found in Hesiod’s Theogony, written around 700 BC:"Again, Phoebe came to the desired embrace of Coeus. […] And she conceived and bare Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. For to this day, whenever any one of men on earth offers rich sacrifices and prays for favour according to custom, he calls upon Hecate. Great honour comes full easily to him whose prayers the goddess receives favourably, and she bestows wealth upon him; for the power surely is with her. For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea.
Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her. Whom she will she greatly aids and advances: she sits by worshipful kings in judgement, and in the assembly whom she will is distinguished among the people. And when men arm themselves for the battle that destroys men, then the goddess is at hand to give victory and grant glory readily to whom she will. Good is she also when men contend at the games, for there too the goddess is with them and profits them: and he who by might and strength gets the victory wins the rich prize easily with joy, and brings glory to his parents.
And she is good to stand by horsemen, whom she will: and to those whose business is in the grey discomfortable sea, and who pray to Hecate and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, easily the glorious goddess gives great catch, and easily she takes it away as soon as seen, if so she will. She is good in the byre with Hermes to increase the stock. The droves of kine and wide herds of goats and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she will, she increases from a few, or makes many to be less. So, then. albeit her mother’s only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Cronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Dawn. So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young, and these are her honours.” (ll. 404-452)
Epithets associated with this version of Her are:
- Krataeis (the Mighty One)
- Kourotrophos (nurse of children)
- Soteira (“Saviour”)
It is speculated that Hesiod hailed from a region where Hekate was heavily worshipped, and as such, his views upon Her power and stature were not reflected in the rest of Hellas, where other—Olympian—divinities took up her role—Artemis as the protector of animals, Nemesis as the administrator of justice, Selene as Theia of the moon, etc. As such, it was only logical that her power was dwindled down some—or, more accurately, focussed—into darker territories like the night, the (new) moon, spirits, the underworld, and sorcery when her cult spread throughout Hellas.
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter—composed somewhere in the late seventh century BC or the sixth century BC—sets this in motion, making Her an Underworld Goddess, and giving Her a Khthonius character. She becomes linked to caves, to torches, to night, and the Underworld itself. This transitional Hekate—still a protector of youth, and a bringer of plenty, but a more mysterious Goddess, linked to both the upper- and lower world—aids Persephone by being a torchbearer to Her mother, and by watching over Persephone when She is in the Underworld. When it is time for Persephone to leave, it is Hekate who guides Her out. It is this Hekate that is linked to the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Epithets associated with these events are:
- Propolos (the attendant who leads)
- Phosphoros (the light-bringer)
Hellenic tragedians felt drawn to the Khthonic side of Hekate, and slowly Hekate transformed into a Titan Goddess of the night, the moon, and (protection against) witchcraft, ghosts and necromancy. In this period, roughly around the fifth century BC, She also became the Goddess associated with crossroads, and Her triple form was born. Pausanias’ ‘Description of Greece’ wrote of this form:"Of the gods, the Aeginetans worship most Hecate, in whose honor every year they celebrate mystic rites which, they say, Orpheus the Thracian established among them. Within the enclosure is a temple; its wooden image is the work of Myron, and it has one face and one body. It was Alcamenes, in my opinion, who first made three images of Hecate attached to one another, a figure called by the Athenians Epipurgidia (on the Tower); it stands beside the temple of the Wingless Victory." [2.30.2]
There are two versions of this depiction. Both forms—when made into a statue—are called ‘Hekataia’. The first are three women, beautiful and young—a maiden, as Hekate was always depicted—usually around a pillar, holding various attributes. A version of Her in this depiction can be found on the right. Statues like these used to stand at crossroads in ancient Hellas, as well as near the gates to a home, which was just as much a crossroads. Hekate, in this form, became a Goddess of purification, expiation, and protection, associated with thresholds and gates, both reaching back to the Underworld association. Very rarely, She was represented with a single body, and three heads, all looking different ways.
In another, scarier, and more bestial version, Hekate is depicted similarly as above, but with the heads of various animals. The Greek Magical Papyri, or Papyri Graecae Magicae, name the three as such, but variations exist:"Take a Lodestone and on it have carved a Three-faced Hekate. And let the Middle Face be that of a Maiden wearing Horns, and the Left Face that of a Dog, and the One on the Right that of a Goat."
It is this Hekate that is appeased with the Deipnon, at the new moon: the last day of the month. These days, when the nights kept getting darker and darker, were some of the scariest days of the month, and were considered impure. The night when the moon completely disappeared was sacred to Hekate, as Hekate was able to placate the souls in Her wake, and could purify the household of miasma accumulated during the month. Removing this miasma allowed the members of the household to call on Hekate during the following month in times of need—as we have seen was common practice—and be more likely to have Her look favorably upon the supplicant.Epithets associated with this version of Her are:
- Apotropaia (that turns away/protects)
- Enodia (Goddess of the paths)
- Klêidouchos (Keeper of the Keys)
- Propylaia (the one before the gate)
- Tricephalus or Triceps (The Three-Headed)
- Triodia/Trioditis (who frequents crossroads)
- Trimorphe (three-formed)
The spell above—taken from the Papyri—is used to make a protective amulet, and offer protection much in the same way as her three-formed appearance at crossroads and entrances does. Then again, the Hekate in the Papyri is not a gentile being. The materials in the Papyri—which are Graeco-Roman Egyptian in origin—stem from anywhere between the second century BC to the fifth century AD, and show a much darker—although highly honored—part of Her, still linked to many other Goddesses:"To You, wherefore they call You Hekate, Many-named, Mene, cleaving Air just like Dart-shooter Artemis, Persephone, Shooter of Deer, night shining, triple-sounding, Triple-headed, triple-voiced Selene, Triple-pointed, triple-faced, triple-necked, And Goddess of the Triple Ways, who hold untiring Flaming Fire in Triple Baskets, And You who oft frequent the Triple Way and rule the Triple Decades, unto me Who’m calling You be gracious and with Kindness give Heed, You who protect the Spacious World At night, before whom Daimons quake in Fear and Gods Immortal tremble, Goddess who Exalt Men, You of Many Names, who bear Fair Offspring, Bull-eyed, Horned, Mother of Gods And Men, and Nature, Mother of All Things, for You frequent Olympos, and the broad And boundless Chasm You traverse. Beginning and End are You, and You Alone rule All. For All Things are from You, and in You do all Things, Eternal One, come to their End. As Everlasting Band around Your Temples you wear Great Kronos’ Chains, unbreakable And unremovable, and You hold in Your Hands a Golden Scepter. Letters ‘round Your Scepter Kronos wrote Himself and gave to You to wear that All Things stay steadfast: Subduer and subdued, Mankind’s Subduer, and Force-subduer; Chaos, too, You rule. Hail, Goddess, and attend Your Epithets, I burn for You this Spice, O Child of Zeus, Dart-shooter, Heav’nly One, Goddess of Harbors, who roam the Mountains, Goddess of Crossroads, O Nether and Nocturnal, and Infernal, Goddess of Dark, Quiet and Frightful One, O You who have Your Meal amid the Graves, Night, Darkness, Broad Chaos: Necessity Hard to escape are You; You’re Moira and Erinys, Torment, Justice and Destroyer, And You keep Kerberos in Chains, with Scales of Serpents are You dark, O You with Hair Of Serpents, Serpent-girded, who drink Blood, who bring Death and Destruction, and who feast On Hearts, Flesh Eater, who devour Those Dead untimely, and You who make Grief resound And spread Madness, come to my Sacrifices, and now for me do You fulfill this Matter.”
Epithets associated with this version of Her are:
- Antania (Enemy of mankind)
- Khthonian (Earth/Underworld goddess)
- Prytania (invincible Queen of the Dead)
Throughout the following centuries—especially with the rise of Christianity—Hekate lost many of Her domains, and a greater focus was placed upon her darker features. Slowly, she became a sorceress, a witch, out to destroy the common man. By this time, she also became a crone. Around 1600 AD, William Shakesear describes the common opinion of Her best in his Macbeth:"Have I not reason, beldams as you are? Saucy and overbold, how did you dare to trade and traffic with Macbeth in riddles and affairs of death, and I, the mistress of your charms, the close contriver of all harms, was never called to bear my part, or show the glory of our art?"
Hekate as the Queen of Witches, teacher of magic(k), ready to deal with desperate souls. This version of Hekate, especially combined with the Papyri Graecae Magicae, inspired occultist Aleister Crowley to write his Hymn for Her, and describe Her as a maiden-mother-crone trinity with Persephone and Demeter—the Goddesses with whom she was identified at Eleusis—in his 1917 novel ‘Moonchild’:"…and thirdly, she is Hecate, a thing altogether of Hell, barren, hideous and malicious, the queen of death and evil witchcraft. […] Hecate is the crone, the woman past all hope of motherhood, her soul black with envy and hatred of happier mortals; the woman in the fullness of life is the sublime Persephone, for whose sake Demeter cursed the fields that they brought forth no more corn, until Hades consented to restore her to earth for half the year."
Gerald Gardner—as all whom have been around the Neo-Pagan circles for a while undoubtedly know—was a great fan of Crowley, and used much of his teachings to create Wicca. This is how the modern image of Hekate entered modern Neo-Paganism, and how Hekate changed from a benign and helpful Goddess of animals, childbirth and victory into a Goddess associated with the dead, with magick, and sorcery. For those of you reading this who are not Hellenistic, perhaps this post will help you understand why Hellenists are usually not so happy with Hekate’s current image—if you weren’t already aware of those reasons. For Hellenists reading this, perhaps this post sheds some light on the modern incarnation of Hekate, and helps you figure out in what incarnation you want to worship Her at your home. Whatever the case, to my knowledge there isn’t a single other Hellenic Goddess who managed to reinvent Herself as much as Hekate did. In a changing time, Hekate found a way to stay current, and be revered by many around the globe: a divine skill, indeed, and one worthy of honors and respect.
I am going to try to answer your question, sweet Anon, but I need to talk about the difference between prayers and hymns first. Probably the best definition of ‘prayer’ I have ever happened upon was by William D. Fuley, who says: “prayers (and hymns) are attempts by men and women to communicate with gods by means of the voice”. It is simple, elegant, and accurate. Especially in the ancient Hellenic religion, it was important to raise one’s voice when hymns were sung, and especially so when prayers were made.
I am going to generalize here and say that a hymn was sung to the Theoi, with the aim to please the God in question. They have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning contains two things: a note that the hymn is about to begin, and an announcement of whom the speaker/singer is addressing. In the Orphic hymn to Pan, this is beautifully done:"I Call strong Pan, the substance of the whole, etherial, marine, earthly, general soul, Immortal fire; for all the world is thine, and all are parts of thee, O pow’r divine. Come, blessed Pan, whom rural haunts delight, come, leaping, agile, wand’ring, starry light;"
The middle part tends to focus on why the God or Goddess in question is not only the best in solving the problem that will be posed to Them later on in prayer, but why they are the best, period. The middle section contains all the wonderful things the deity in question has done, His or Her greatest accomplishments, and above all, it contains a description of the deity. For Pan:"The Hours and Seasons [Horai], wait thy high command, and round thy throne in graceful order stand. Goat-footed, horned, Bacchanalian Pan, fanatic pow’r, from whom the world began, Whose various parts by thee inspir’d, combine in endless dance and melody divine. In thee a refuge from our fears we find, those fears peculiar to the human kind. Thee shepherds, streams of water, goats rejoice, thou lov’st the chace, and Echo’s secret voice: The sportive nymphs, thy ev’ry step attend, and all thy works fulfill their destin’d end.O all-producing pow’r, much-fam’d, divine, the world’s great ruler, rich increase is thine. All-fertile Pæan, heav’nly splendor pure, in fruits rejoicing, and in caves obscure. True serpent-horned Jove [Zeus], whose dreadful rage when rous’d, ‘tis hard for mortals to asswage. By thee the earth wide-bosom’d deep and long, stands on a basis permanent and strong. Th’ unwearied waters of the rolling sea, profoundly spreading, yield to thy decree. Old Ocean too reveres thy high command, whose liquid arms begirt the solid land.The spacious air, whose nutrimental fire, and vivid blasts, the heat of life inspire the lighter frame of fire, whose sparkling eye shines on the summit of the azure sky, Submit alike to thee, whole general sway all parts of matter, various form’d obey. All nature’s change thro’ thy protecting care, and all mankind thy lib’ral bounties share: For these where’er dispers’d thro’ boundless space, still find thy providence support their race.”
The end is a prayer onto itself. The surviving hymns often conclude with a call to the deity in question to listen to the request that follows, and to grant it, should They be so inclined. The hymn to Pan concludes:"Come, Bacchanalian, blessed power draw near, fanatic Pan, thy humble suppliant hear, Propitious to these holy rites attend, and grant my life may meet a prosp’rous end; Drive panic Fury too, wherever found, from human kind, to earth’s remotest bound."
Hymns were sung to please, to bring forth. It was a way to celebrate the Deity in question, but also to make Him or Her more inclined to grant the following request. Hymns were accompanied with music and dancing; they were true celebrations in that regard. They were performed to establish existing kharis and built upon it: when the Orphic Hymns ask for ‘a hymn’ instead of incense, they request a show that entertains the Gods.
A prayer was carefully formulated to convey a message as persuasively as possible to the God, and was thus often spoken. The idea was not to please, but to request. They made use of the established and just now strengthened kharis to petition the Gods for aid. Where the hymn is an offering to go along with material sacrifice, the prayer is not an offering at all.
Hellenic prayer and hymn-singing is not a private thing; unlike the Christian type of praying we are used to today—a praying that is intimate, calm, and very much private—the Hellenic form of praying did and does everything it can to draw attention to itself as a public display. It is a form of heightened expression which claims the attention of a God. Hymns are a means to get a divine spotlight upon you, because without it, your prayer will fall upon deaf ears. This is why hymns and prayers always go together in the typical structure of (ancient) Hellenic ritual: one is useless without the other.
Ancient Hellenic prayers were made standing up, with arms raised. If you were the one pouring libations, the arms needn’t be raised as high, but the libation-bowl was poised. For the Ouranic deities, the palms faced upwards, to the sky. For the Khthonic deities, the palms faced downwards, to the earth. To both, the voice is raised, so as to draw as much attention as possible. In general, that is how you pray in Hellenismos.
Thinking of reviewing/listing contents of the Hellenic polytheism books I have to help people choose what/if to buy. Academic texts cost a lot and buying ones that don’t focus on what you want can be an expensive waste of time.
It’s not going to be a huge ass list. About 12/13 texts.
Good idea? Would you guys be interested?