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Reconsidering the Socratic Command Jul. 15th, 2008 @ 07:36 pm

Know thyself


I am given a commandment: Know thyself.  But who am I?  If I am ordered to know this rock in front of me.  I have it as an object in my hands.  I touch it, I feel it, I know its boundaries.  In coming to know the rock, I already in fact know it. 

            Well, I have my body, I have my mind.  I can throw my torso against a wall.  Does it make a noise?  Is it more of a Bam or a Thud?  Perhaps I try a different wall.  Yes it is a thud.

            I try counting to 100.  Yes I can do this.  I am a counting machine.  I count to a thousand.  I count to 32,234.  Alas, I can go no further.  But, this should not cause sorrow.  Though I can perhaps not count to 32,235, I have achieved something much greater, I have come to know something about myself.

            I am a citizen, am I not?  I walk into the IRS, and ask them for some records.  They tell me that I have declared 35K in income last year.  Well, that makes me lower-middle class or a liar. 

            I can now come to some conclusions for myself.  When I reach the pearly gates and approach the Lord and he asks me to double check all of his notes about my life, to see if he got them straight, I’ll have a few things to say.  First, I must assume that I did not count last year’s income, unless I lied about that income, I can’t remember, but if I did lie about my income and I could have counted my income then surely I lied about it to make it less than what it actually is, unless perhaps I was a better counter back then, or maybe I counted the first 32,235 dollars and then sent the rest to be analyzed by some sort of genius or whatever.  But if the Lord tells me that I counted my income and that I didn’t lie about my income, and I did all the counting myself, and that my counting aptitude did not decrease then I could point the Lord out for the huckster he is.  For truly, I strove in life to know myself, and I will not be falsely judged.

            Why else would one wish to know themselves, except under the assumption that we will be judged, and it is better to tell our defense attorney all of the facts.  But then again such an approach is felicitous only if these facts are not incriminating or one has the ability to weasel one’s way away from the most atrocious of indictments and filibuster one’s time on a few traffic violations.

            Another concern: will God judge me falsely?  Is it not a possibility?  He has so many heads to watch over.  I think when he looks over my more disgusting of sins, he must have the modesty to cover his eyes a little, and as such mistaken wrestling for something I dare not say.  After all, it was only wrestling. 

            I should know myself.  What’s the harm?  I don’t have to make much effort.  I simply must record my movements, my situations, the sounds of my stomach, and play them back to myself at night.  And once I get up there and I am to be judge I can be judge jury and executioner.  Wouldn’t that piss God off?  Oh, he wouldn’t see that one coming.  It would embarrass him, making him superfluous as such.  Perhaps he would offer me a plea bargain to spare him the shame.  Before he begins I have already thrown myself into the depths, content that justice has been performed.  And what if everyone did this, what a farce.

            Maybe there is more to knowing thyself.  Maybe I can gain new control over these limbs.  If I am a machine, maybe I could practice a little mechanics.  Now, how far can I twist my head.  On its own it makes it quite far.  But have you seen owls?  Is it possible that I myself, will prove that that is no such marvelous thing.  That when I see owls I can laugh at them for trying to lord that talent over me all these years.  So I push my head further around, just a little bit at a time, I am not a dolt.  I check a year later and see I too can turn a full circle, no more doubting it.  I know.

            So knowing is testing also.  But testing can be augmenting.  Well why settle for testing myself against those owl vermin, or some pathetic low-life who for some reason or other can beat me in checkers.  This pursuit to know myself, I must ask myself a much bigger question: am I master of the world? Am I emperor of the universe?

           I am not going to command the president to bark like a dog, or even threaten Bill Gates with a  hefty wind-fall profits, hell, for a while, I will even let my wife have her side of the bed.  But I am testing myself, I am breaking out of shell after shell, like a little Russian doll inside of other dolls who think they are so special.  Well how does one think that one became a big Russian doll.  I doubt that they manufacture them in different sizes.  If Adam Smith is correct, and I think America has proved that he is, the benefits of economy of scale dictates that all dolls would come out the same.  Let’s assume the same about our God.  Why not.  If he is so wise, how could he miss the general observation that scale creates economy, is he a Frenchman (communist idiot)?  I could go on with the French… but that should wait for later on in the discourse.  After all, I am pursuing a very narrow dialectic, and the intellect is always in danger of tangents, of becoming stuck, as Kierkegaard would say, in parenthesis.

            So where do I start, finding out whether or not I am master of the universe?  Remember this is a big question, and if I am to truly know myself it should be answered, because it will answer a whole host of other questions.  When/if I gain control over Washington, who will be the vice-president, well who ever I want.  If I am in a round of Jeopardy, oh they will fear me.  Not only that, I will control the question, e.g. “Who is to be the new host of Jeopardy next season?” 

            Moreover, I can control the possible questions, so I need not worry myself about the answers.  Asking myself if I am stronger or faster than a unicorn sounds absurd, where are these unicorns?  I can make a similar question about bears absurd, or weightlifters, or my brother, that is if I am master of the universe.

            As master of the universe, I will undoubtedly answer every question.  I will know myself in every non-trivial way.  I will know myself as Lord of All.

            Oh, back to the question.  I sometimes get carried away.  Where do I start getting to know whether or not I am truly master of the universe?  I will perhaps assert myself at the City Hall, for my neighbors dog defecates on my lawn and I do not care for it.  I will step up to the microphone and aver “I am the master of my lawn and I will not let it suffer this Greyhound.”  And soon I will not let it suffer squirrels.  And soon not Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses either.  Soon I’ll be complaining about my neighbors yard and the satellites crossing over my airspace.  I’ll be master of a good space by then.  I will slowly but surely extend father’s day past midnight until I have made it into a three day weekend.  I will tell my wife that the day is meant for the father of her children and not to be squandered on the phone with her Daddy. 

            I’ll make myself an empire, and know myself as emperor, which I had been all along.  And when other men look at me, they will say that I know my powers and that they wished they had known their own potential earlier.  For the only difference between them and I is that I strove to know myself and in that striving I made myself.  Wow, now that’s existentialism!!!

            But what if I don’t become emperor of the universe, what if my striving reaches no end.  What if it is a bad infinity, not the good kind.  Perhaps I’ll sink the other way, or I will atleast make some strategic retreats.  If I cannot settle once and for all how many pull ups I can do, maybe I will simply lop off my hands.  Why not?  If I truly wish to know myself my hands and my pull-up bar will merely bring me to despair.  Unless I come up with a clever answer, pointing to an old man I could say “More than that guy.”

            Well, I’ll figure it out.  How to become a handicap emperor.  When on trial with God, I will not only know what I did do, but also what I could have done, oh there is no room for judgment then.

            Wait, I had an epiphany.  Or perhaps it came slowly and I didn’t see it coming.  Or maybe I read it somewhere.  To know thyself is to become honest with thyself.  When I prattle off certitudes, perhaps I should examine them closer, see whether or not I am truly what I claim to be. 

            Let me try it.  Ok, I love my son. 

            Socrates:        What is love.

            Me:                  it is something ineffable.

            Socrates:          That is very deep, you are wise.

            Me:                  Thank you, I also respect your wisdom.

            Socrates:          Is God love.

            Me:                  Certainly

            Socrates:          Is your relationship to your son God?

            Me:                  No.

            Socrates:          Then it is not love.

            Me:                  Oh, your funny Socrates, you got me there.  I must hate my son.

            Socrates:          Live your life in this wisdom.


See if Socrates says know thyself, and he was doing that, and he thinks that I can do that, and we all can do that, well that’s pretty neat.  I can be my own Socrates, for I do know that I know nothing, that is unless I know something.  But if I do know something, then I do not know that I do know nothing, because it is false that I know nothing.  Thus, if I hold onto the principle that I know nothing unless I know something, I will always be correct.  And I will know myself, for that is the task, right?

            But its hard being Socrates sometimes.  He devoted his whole life to this quest.  I have a job, and not many friends who are of like minds.  I will perhaps have to make imaginary dialectical situations very fast.  I will have to be a Stephen King of sorts, pumping out epiphanies about twice a week.  On Saturdays, I will devote a good eight hours to thinking about myself and getting to know thyself.   No problem.

            Introspection is thrown around a lot these days.  They have dog psychiatrists.  For dogs!!!  A dog is supposed to probe into there deep subconscious and recollect a traumatic experience.  If a dog can do it, Socrates can.  I believe this whole-heartedly.  If a dog can get to know thyself, so can I.  For we all are little Socrates.  I think the powers of dialectic are even more intense than though of psychoanalysis.  Sigmund Fraud can keep his loony theories.  I am content with strict, cold contemplation.  Let’s see a dog do that.

            Let me expound upon a basic truth.  Opposites define one another.  If I am to understand what it means to be a human I must compare it to being something else.  I know that psychoanalysis is wrong for myself because it is used for doggy-truths.  Thus, human truths, completely incommensurable with doggy truths must be reached through something besides psychoanalysis, i.e. its opposite, i.e. Socratic dialogues.






1.      Recording of life.

2.      Testing your infinite powers

3.      Socratic dialogues



An Introduction Jul. 13th, 2008 @ 09:30 pm
I just joined, so I thought I'd say helloCollapse )

Need Help With Books Feb. 13th, 2008 @ 01:09 pm
Geia sas,

I recently signed up with the home delivery program at my local library. This means that I can select titles and they'll deliver them to me for free as well as pick them up when I need to return them. Anyway, I sent the librarian a request for books on Greece from ancient times to the present day. As far as the ancient material, I'm lookng not only for academic books with good scholarship explaining how Hellenic Polytheism was practised then, but for accurate or at least decent translations of ancient texts. As for the other things, I'd like information on history and culture as well as some modern Greek literature in translation. Anyway, this is part of what she sent me.

"Of all our books on Greek mythology, the most promising seems to be "Greek Myths:
Gods, Heroes and Monsters," by Ellen Switzer. Its sub-subtitle is "Their Sources,
Their Stories, and Their Meanings." We also have Hamilton's and Bulfinch's books on
mythology, as well as several titles by Joseph Campbell.
Most of our books on Greek history cover the classical period.To name three: "A
History of Greece," by J. B. Bury, "The Peloponnesian War," by Donald Kagan, and
"The Visible Past: Recent Archaeological Discoveries of Greek and Roman History," by
Michael Grant. We have several titles on Byzantium. As for modern Greek history, I
would have to request something for you from another library. We also have books on the big names of classical literature: Homer, Euripides, Aeschylus, etc."

She also said that if they don't have certain titles, she could contact other libraries in the county to see what they have. My questions is are any of the works she suggested worth reading and can you recommend any other titles that I should read? Even if you don't think the libraries would have them because they're very specific, please tell me because I may be able to find them online for a good price. If you could think of any good books on Greece after antiquity, please let me know. I'm also looking for this one book but my information on it is very little. It's used by immigrants to practise for the proficiency in Greek language and culture examination. The book is called "A Brief History of Greeks and Their culture" and it consists of 108 pages. Right now, it's being revised, but I'd like the version with all the questions in it before I can no longer find it. Any help would be sincerely appreciated. The librarian said she can't get any books that weren't published in the United States. Finally, I'm very interested in making a list of modern books about Hellenic Polytheism, everything from hymns to essays to scholarship on how we follow The Gods today. My goal is to buy them and to donate them to my library so that others may be informed. It's not much, but it's a little something I'd like to do to spread knowledge of our religion. Thanks in advance for all your help.

Love and blessings to all,

Intro Nov. 26th, 2007 @ 01:05 am
*This is being crossposted, so I'm putting it behind a cut so that people don't see it multiple times.*
My IntroCollapse )

On Epithets Jun. 27th, 2007 @ 04:52 pm
justben has an interesting post on Epithets.

One practice common in modern Hellenic polytheist practice is addressing a God with a long litany of epithets. The practice comes straight from classical sources. You can't read a myth about Aphrodite without hearing Her called Laughter-loving, Golden, and half a dozen others. You can't read a story about Hermes without hearing Him called Wily one, Slayer of Argos, and many more.

And modern pagans seem to love collecting these epithets. If you pull up any web page dedicated to a God you're sure to see a list of them. Usually this list includes the epithet in English. Sometimes it'll include a transliteration of the original Greek that it was translated from, and occasionally you can even reconstruct the original Greek itself from the information provided. But it's downright rare to see any explanation or context or a reference to more information.

Not to say that such a list isn't valuable. While we may all know Zeus as Basileus and Keraunios ("King" and "Of the Thunderbolt" according to his page at theoi.com), it can be helpful to remember that sometimes he's also Kosmetes "Orderer" and even Labrandeus "Furious, or Raging". It can be helpful to remember Dionysos as Anthroporraistos "Man-Slayer" as much as he's Lysios "Releasing".

But really, what good does it do me to know that Dionysos is also Kolotes "Spotted Gecko" or Erebinthinos "Of the Chickpea"? The vast majority of these lists of epithets provide absolutely no explanation or context for these names. They don't explain what that name means to them. They don't reference any sources -- classical or modern -- that might provide a hope of understanding the term. Some hope that the name will speak for itself, like Ares Miaiphonos "Blood-stained" clearly does. Others just like the idea of being completists.

As I initially commented to him:
I myself, though, avoid long litanies of epithets. I usually use one or two, usually my favorites, the ones that appeal most to me. Maybe in some grand ritual or something, but mostly I use their name and one or two epithets.

Maybe I'm just a bad recon. But like you, most of the epithets make little sense, or just don't appeal to me and how I view the Gods based on my relationship with them.

For instance, Athena Polias. Great, except I don't use it other than political prayers. Athena Parthenos makes more sense to me, or Glaukopis (since I regularly call her Grey Eyed). I'll caller Her Ergane if I'm asking for some technical help.

He responded:
Why do you call to Her as Parthenos? Why Ergane? What do those names mean? What do they say about Her? Why?

Post! And don't tell *me*: tell some random newbie who's only just started exploring Hellenic polytheism.

Well here's why.

I don't call on Athena Polias, (of the City), except for politics, praying for the welfare of my country. Its a political epithet, and refers to her protection of cities, the political unit of ancient post-Bronze Age, pre-Hellenistic Empire Greece. As such its of limited utility to me, since I don't normally pray political prayers.

I do call on Athene as Glaukopis (Owl Eyed, CLear Eyed, Grey-Eyed), or Parthenos (Virgin) as they describe Her, Herself. I like that, as it expands on Her Characteristics, much as Zeus Keraunios (the Thunderbolt) reflects His nature as Storm God, and so is descriptive. (I often pray to Zeus the Descender, or Zeus the Thunderer, Zeus the Cloud Gatherer, esp. during rain storms), and Zeus Hupsistos, Zeus Basileus, when praying to Him in other contexts.

These help identify Him or Her in my mind as I pray to them, and I usually select an Epithet relating to what I'm praying about, a bit as a notice to them, a hint of what my prayer will address. It would be like my referring to the President as Mr. President if I were to address him in his official capacity and make a formal Request. But if he were my buddy, and I was to talk to him buddy-to-buddy, I'd say, "W" or something along those lines.

Many of the epithets don't make much sense as a descriptor of the God, nor are they relevant to my prayers...so I don't use them.

I'm a big believer in the KISS Principle. Keep it Simple Stupid. I think overly complex litanies, and rituals, much like an overemphasis on study tends to stunt or deter worship. They also make rituals and prayers longer, and harder to fit into a busy IRL schedule.

I think they serve important functions: To help identify the God, or to call on a particular area of their influence. But they can also be stumbling blocks and impediments.

I can see the proverbial newbie saying: "I Have to learn all this before I can pray??" My answer is a resounding NO! If you don't know the epithets, that's fine, just pray to them by their common names, Athena, Dionysus, etc.

The Epithets are tools. They're not mandatory, and if I'm rushed, I'll admit, that I omit them entirely, or if I can't recall an appropriate epithet, I pray anyway without them.

Maybe that makes me a bad recon...but this emphasis on memorizing epthets and litanies only serves to make things unnecessarily hard, IMHO.

The point is to PRAY and WORSHIP. Epithets are traditional, and helpful, but if they get in the way of the point of religion, I say ditch them for now. At least until you can remember them.

Yes, yes, the Ancients used litanies. Did they use them all the time? Each and every time? I doubt it. I seriously doubt it. If they're rushed, I don't think they'd have bothered.

In fact, the Ancients often used elliptical phrases in referring to a God, not even referring to their name much less Epithets. When Socrates was on his way back to a festival to Bendis, he simply referred to The Goddess's festival. When referring to Apollo in the Apology, he refers to "The God of Delphi" and later "The God" (Ho Theos). Or they'd use an epithet instead of a name, as a shorthand for the Deity. Glaukopis, Grey Eyes, for Athena.

This is both respectful, and casual. My reading of the ancients is that they were far more casual than we, in our desire to recreate every little bit and aspect, let on at times.

In the process we can be very confusing, or intimidating to newbies of the faith.

My advice would be: Use Epithets when you have time, and when they're relevant. If you can't understand the meaning or utility of an epithet in your prayer, then don't use them.

Its not like doing the sign of a cross to pray. Its not mandatory, only useful and customary.

I'd be more concerned that they stand and use the orara posture (sp?) raising their hands...indicating a proper, free-person, respectful but not abasing prayer stance, and remember to invoke the deity, even if only by their proper name...than having to remember a huge litany.

I guess I'm rambling now...
But lets remember to KISS...and if we do that, maybe we won't scare the newbies. They can pray in the simplified format, while they learn the litanies. Lets emphasize that, so they can get started in worship. They can learn the Litanies at their own pace.

Emphasize the litanies too much, and they'll tend not to pray until they have the litanies down pat. IN which case, they're not praying, and not worshipping, but instead are studying.

Studying is great, and I'm the last to discourage it. But prayer and worship is primary, and more important. Put too much study in front, and the prayer and worship can get lost.

But prayer and worship is the whole freaking point of religion. Otherwise its just mental gymnastics, and not a faith, or religion.

You don't have to be a Classicist, much less a Ph.D. candidate to worship, despite some comments I've heard from discouraged newbies.

The religion itself is easy. Do the prayers, and offerings, and the rest is gravy. But focus on the religious acts, and they're simple. Simple, simple simple, and simple, I can't emphasize that more.

Remember the basic simplicity, and all these fears of newbies dissipate. Let them worship first, and learn more later, if they so desire, and they won't be discouraged.

Its a religion with homework. But lets not confuse the homework with the religion.
Other entries
» Workshops continued.  The grave gets deeper.
In a few weeks I'll be giving a one to two hour workshop to other Pagans about Hellenism at the local Pagan club on campus.

I'm just so torn as to what to talk about.  A few years ago a Hellenist gave a presentation there that I absolutely drooled over, but others have said since then that they thought it was too dry and boring, as he talked about theology from a more philosophical point of view.

The way I see it, there are a couple of ways to give a workshop about Hellenism to non-Hellenist Pagans.

a)  The material.  How our ritual works, what tools and symbols we use, a FAQ about Hellenism.
b)  The spiritual.  What deities are worshipped, examples of festivals, offerings and libations, the afterlife.
c)  The philosophical.  Ethics, polytheism, Neo-Platonism, Stoicism, how Hellenism differs from other Pagan faiths.
d)  The personal.  Anecdotal account of my own spiritual journey, things I have been found to be true, open discussion about the Hellenic Gods.

And of course, there could be a compilation of all these.

I'm not a great public speaker.  I'm the kinda person who likes organizing things from behind the scenes, not being up front listening to the sound of my own voice.  I'm afraid that I'll put people to sleep.  Open discussion isn't really the vibe of this seminar, it's supposed to be me being the teacher and all that.

Have any of you done anything like this?  Did you find any websites or articles helpful to you on the subject?  I'd like to know what aspects of Hellenism you focused on and how it went.
» (No Subject)
So, what does everyone believe about the afterlife?

Do you believe in metampsychosis (reincarnation)?

Or do you believe that once you die, your fate will be to rest in Hades forever?

Or apotheosis, becoming one with the Gods?

Or do you think the soul disappears entirely?

Does every Hellenist have their own theory?  Do organizations like Hellenion have a statement of belief about the afterlife (still looking)?
» (No Subject)
I've ordered Arcana Mundi, but does anyone have any good websites about Theurgy and such?

I'm curious, also, about what forms of divination (if any) you use and any opinions about the subject you might have.  :o)
» Prayer ritual for Katrina victims
Cc'ed from Hellenion member emailing list....

I propose the following:

People here at 7pm each day--their time zone or CST, where most of the
damage occurred--do a libation or a prayer offering for those who were
and are victims of Hurricane Katrina. I'm choosing 7 because it's
Apollo's number and he is a god of healing.

If people don't know what to do, they say the following and offer
incense or a libation:

"Khairete, oi theoi/(o gods), please have mercy and compassion upon
those who suffered in the hurricane and give quick speed to the rescue
missions as well as the rebuilding of the cities harmed."

If you are unable to offer the incense or libation at that time, feel
free to just say the prayer.

If you come up with something else to do, feel free to post it here.
If you do this at all, please post.

I plan to do so myself. People are welcome to join me. I hope that you do.

If you wish to take practical means as well as prayer, follow the
links below to make a donation, or give blood to your local Red Cross.



» Hellenic Recon-vention?
Shameless Xposting follows:

We are pulling together a community hellenicpcon to give advice and suggestions to sannion on his proposals for a presentation or ritual of Hellenic Reconstructionism at Pcon 2006. (Zoe is just being her instagata' self.)

The next one is to drum up Hellenic Community interest and support :)

Even if you can't make it to San Jose, CA on the 3rd weekend of Feb, we know you have ideas about what could or should be done.
» Southeastern Hellenic Group Forming -- crosspost
Sorry in advance for the spamming, I am just trying to get the word out.


Anyway, for any of you that are interested in or practicising the Hellenic/Greek religion and you live in Southeast United States, I invite you to join either (or both) of the two groups we have created:

The Yahoo Group:

And a sister Livejournal group (for those so inclined):

We are a group hoping to bring together Hellenes of the Southeastern United States. The actual explicit intentions of the group are still defining themselves, but we hope that this can grow to be a good place for community, networking, possible meet-ups, discussion, and the exchange of knowledge between those interested in or working the path of Greek religious spirituality (be it Hellenic Reconstructionism to other various forms of Hellenic polytheism). We also hope to perhaps one day do ritual(s) together as well, even perhaps form a Damos. We shall see.

Thanks and we hope to see you!

Nicole, a moderator of se_hellenes
» Introductory Post
Hi. I am a 37 year old Pagan woman. I have considered myself ecclectic over the years because I don't like to be pressumtuous. I don't like to say I am a follower of such-and-such because I really never feel like I know enough about it to want people to see me as an example of it and possibly spread the wrong impression.

So I am not really a reconstructionist. I worship, serve, seek to follow a particular Goddess who was worshipped by the Greeks. I have heard that she is actually older than the Greeks and was worshipped by some before them, though I don't have any details about that.

This community seems to be going a little bit slow at the moment. I am hoping maybe things will liven up a bit and we can explore rituals and ideas together.
» As requested by a little birdie... fundies will be offended
I'll say it now. You're all going to burn in Tartaros. Tartaros, the place reserved for those who have laid the ultimate smackdown on the Gods. You're going there when you pass.

You disrespect the Mysteries, claiming "we can't possibly understand them" because we don't have enough info about them. Uhm, hi, that's why they're called "mysteries". The follower must figure out the path. And if they're dead, well, then it's up to us to rediscover them. And we can do that without your pontificating, thanks.

You disrespect magicians and diviners, screaming that they falsely claim to be able to know the will of the Gods, but in the same breath you say the Gods don't want or need mystery cults or diviners. Worse, you claim to know the true way of the Gods, and run from the rest of us because we don't follow your "truth". Huh. Know the will of the Gods much?

You disrespect those who don't go "by the books" and incorporate Eastern philosophy, modern paganism, shamanism, and other "not Greek" aspects into the worship of the Gods. Yet your by the books rendition of an ancient Greek religion leads to a lot of thought, and not much action. Maybe Taoism, animism, meditation, and sacred circles weren't distinctly Greek, but at least we're not afraid to try something new to enrich our religious lives. You, on the other hand, spend hours waxing philosophical about the nature of the Gods you claim to worship, but you never get off your asses and worship. You also forget that many of the Gods, including your precious Dionysos, Cybele, Aphrodite, et al, WERE IMPORTS! That's right folks, they were imports from other EASTERN cultures and made to fit into the Greek pantheon. Why can't we do the same today?

You disrespect those who feel a calling to specific Gods. You tell us we're deluded, self-important, or plain arrogant. Then you turn around, yes you, and say "I refuse to pray to all of the Gods because They are not all worhty of my worship." Who is arrogant? Who is deluded? Do you think the Gods are going to complain about one guy trying to create a Mystery cult to Ares when we have so many knuckleheads who refuse to even prey to Him? Maybe I am self-important. But a least I understand the nature of reciprocity! It's not about what the Gods have done for you, but what you have done for the Gods.

You disrespect the fact that some of us try to bring the religion into 2005. You scoff at us and say "we aren't real recons". And then in the same breath you decry animal sacrifice, disrespect the Gods, and do about a hundred things that aren't even closely Greek. Worse, you can't even understand the values like eusebia, xenia, philanthropia, agon, time', and a million other values which were part and parcel of Greek religion. You justify it by saying "well it's impactical". Tough. Don't go blathering out of both sides of your mouth, it only displays your glaring ignorance and stupidity.

You disrespect those of us who use the word "relgion". You cry "oh, that's a Christian word". You disrespect the word "pagan". You cry "oh, it's a Wiccan word". And? He who shouts the loudest isn't always right. But since that's the Fundie way of doing things, guess you let them win. You hate yourselves.

You disrespect our habits, lifestyle choices, and hobbies. Excuse me? Who died and made you the arbiter of what I can do in my spare time? I especially laugh at your complete disdain of role-playing games. You, who are not intelligent enough to tell fact from fiction, cry because some of us engage in what essentially boils down to one of the oldest past-times... ACTING. Which, I might add, was sacred to several Gods.

I could go on, but I have limited space. I wil conclude with my deepest hopes that you enjoy whatever tortures the Gods will come up with for your utter disrespect for Them. That and a really nice "PPPPPPHHHHHHTTTTTTHHHHHHH!!!!!"

*end rant*
» (No Subject)
Well, time to clean out the personal library. If you're interested in any of the following books, please let me know:

Old Stones, New Temples. Drew Campbell. $10.
Greek Religion. Burkert. $10.
Greek Way of Life. Garland. $7.
Greek Way of Death. Garland. $7.
Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece. Adkins/Adkins. $10.
Greek Folk Religion. Nilsson. $5.
Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World. $7.
Witchraft and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome. $7.
Triumph of the Moon. Hutton. $7.
The New Pagans. Holzer. $5.
Pagan and Christian Mysteries. Joseph Campbell. $5.
Violence and the Sacred, Girard. $5.
Pagans and Christians, DeZerenga. $5.
Sallustius: Concerning the Gods and the Universe. $5.
Cicero, The Nature of the Gods. $5.
Magic in the ancient World. Graf. $7.
Ancient Mystery Cults, Burkert. $5.
World of Athens. The Joint Association of Classical Teachers. $10.
Athenian Popular Religion. Mikalson. $7
Prologomena to the Study of Greek Religion, Harrison. $7.
» Hellenic Pagan Directory
A new Hellenic Pagan Directory has been launched!

» New Hellenismos primer!
If you've been looking for a good intro to Hellenismos, I believe this is it, written by Oenochoe:

KHARIS: Hellenic Polytheism Explored

Please see the website for a description, table of contents, and the link to buy it.


The list price is $14.99 plus shipping.
» (No Subject)
Does anyone know how to spell "Alexander" in classical Greek?
» Beyond reconstructionism?
Pondering over this dream I had posted about more than a year ago:


And it brings to mind the following questions: at what point do we stop reconstructing and move beyond it? How far should we be taking reconstructionism? What is the best approach to genuinely make the pieces fit and have a living, growing tradition--emphasis on the growing?

At what point do you move beyond reconstructing? And is there such a point? Tradition is important to Hellenismos, but Hellenismos had many traditions associated with it. New traditions, myths, epiphets for the gods, and approaches occurred all of the time in the ancient world. So why not now?

All thoughts and ideas welcomed.
» (No Subject)
I've been considering myself a recon for about a year, more or less, and one of the hardest things for me to do is get into the rhythm of the festivals. I bought the calender, but since my apartment is weird, its incredibly difficult to hang on a wall, and without that, I generally remember about two days after. Things just don't stick in my head, but I'll keep trying.

Does anyone have tips? This has always been a hard thing for me-summers go by and I'll only know what day it is because of which extracuriccular I take my summer class to.
» First time poster...long time listener.. ;)

I was wondering if anyone has seen the advertisements for the Sarah Michelle Gellar flick, "The Grudge". It SCREAMS the Erinyes to me...any thoughts???

» Hellenic reconstructionism and marriage (crossposted)
Here's a topic which I don't see happening very often, perhaps because many of us are either a) too young to be thinking about it or b) are already married, but what's a conservative Greek reconstructionist to do in order to be true to the practice and faith if one decides to get married?

Of course, if you're free to do with the ceremony as you want there's probably not much issue. Write up the ritual, get an ordained pagan-friendly or Hellenic priest to perform it, and voila.

But what if it's a mixed marriage? I imagine that orthodox Jews and Christians go through similar struggles, and either don't marry outside their faith, force the other person to convert, or risk compromising their ideals. However, the likelihood of it being a mixed marriage for a Greek reconstructionist is pretty damned good. Even if you found someone whom at the very least was a polytheist, what's the probability of them being a Hellenist, let alone a Greek reconstructionist--let alone a Greek reconstructionist who is at least as strict as you?

At what point would you be able to compromise in having a Greek recon appropriate ceremony without heading to divorce court before you walk down the aisle? :) Of course, I would love to hear about other people's views on Hellenic marriage both then and now as well for the sake of knowing how people feel about reconstructing EVERYTHING that was involved in such a wedding.
» Private versus state religion
How do people feel personal experience fits into Hellenismos, specifically from a reconstructionist perspective? Do you find that people tend to be more reliant on personal experience than research? Where do you see personal experience with the gods taking place in ancient times?

I was inspired by a thread going on in recons and this community has been a little quiet as of yet, so I figured that I'd get the ball rolling. :)
» Types of reconstructionism
I have five million disclaimers on this page, because I know that I will be both loved and hated for putting it up:


However, it's stuff to think about, especially since one denomination has already clearly been drawn, which is traditionalism. I think that this page will give people a sense of where they stand on various issues in being a reconstructionist Hellenist, and make them think about things that they might not have thought about--or took for granted as a belief that was previously thought to have been agreed upon by everyone.

I hope that this page will help people out.
» Hellenic ritual outline
I went to town on this one, and corrected a LOT of stuff that was in Old Stones, New Temples:


Although I've commented before on my blog about the problems inherant in attempting to be as reconstructionist as possible and still keep the animal sacrifice, I'd like to see commentary on that here too.
» (No Subject)
Going nuts here. Any current conversion out there from Gregorian to Hellene years?

All I've found is horribly outdated (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/3310/year.html).

» (No Subject)
I've done so many updates on my website that it bears mentioning:


Anyone looking for the basics of Greek practice as far as prayer, beliefs, ethics, rituals--feel free to stop on by. Only glaring thing that I think I'm still missing is a nice rundown of the festival calendar.

Please feel free to stop on by and let me know what you think! If I'm missing anything, could use anything else, or need a correction somewhere, just let me know. I absolutely adore constructive criticism. :)

Sometime, I'll figure out how to put a blog feed on there and link to here also: http://kyreneariadne.blogspot.com

» dedicated sponde.com blog starting
Technically, up to this point, there's been no dedicated sponde.com blog, but merely periodic blogging on my personal livejournal.

But now I've made an executive decision to start blogging specifically about sponde.com, Hellenic Recon, and Hellenic polytheism in general at a new location:


That's not to say that nothing of value pertaining to Hellenic polytheism will ever again appear in my livejournal. It's just that anyone who's really all excited about the sponde.com stuff can find it with less trouble from this point forward.
» Beliefnet article
For those of you who haven't seen it yet, there is a great article right on the Beliefnet main page on reconstructionist religions, mostly featuring ours:

» (No Subject)
Worthwhile link (and project):

» Greetings-Newbie here
Hello everyone,

My name is Ivy. This is my first post but I have been lurking for a couple of weeks. I don't consider myself a Greek recon but a beginning Celtic recon, however, Hekate has been calling very strongly for many years and I don't feel that I can ignore her. I joined this group because from the posts that I have read you seem to be open-minded about (a) having a patron deity and (b) the blending of traditions as long as one is respectful of the culture and traditions of that culture. I don't mean that I want to blend pantheons in my worship or rituals but I would like to learn about both Greek and Celtic traditions and be respectful of both. Honestly, I may not go further in Greek recon than honoring Hekate as she is the one who is so strongly calling me at this time, but I will keep an open mind to other possibilities within in a Greek reconstructionist perspective.

I hope this doesn't offend anyone here. Again, I am new to reconstructionism although I have been an ecclectic pagan for many years. For the last few years I felt that I needed more focus and discipline and am now at the point that I am ready to commit to study.

If anyone is interested I recently joined a group called the Multicultural Polytheistic Hearth, here is the link: http://s2.excoboard.com/exco/index.php?boardid=5203
They seem like a nice group of people and are interested in respectful exchange between the cultures. There are mostly Celtic Recons there but it is a new group and they have different boards up for many cultures (including Hellenic) and they are open to suggestions.


» (No Subject)
Accounts of personal religion, Greek and Roman

Interesting url... :)
» (No Subject)
Further evidence for patron deities:


Just refer them to various philosophers like Proclus, who dedicated themselves to a particular deity :)

Just thought people would like this link!
» Greek Pagans Rile Church
Greek Pagans Rile Church

Traditional guardians of Greek society cast wary eye on modern celebrations on Mt Olympus

By Albena Shkodrova in Litohoro, Greece (BCR No 505, 05-Jul-04)

On a green meadow at the foot of Mt Olympus, famous in mythical literature as the home of the Zeus and the Hellenic gods, a group of men and women stand dressed in togas in a circle, heads covered with wreaths of leaves, right hands held up as they repeat lines in Classical Greek.

A ritual of baptism has begun, at the end of which about a dozen members of the group will formally cast aside their old Christian beliefs and accept new Hellenic, pagan names.

» Magic and theurgy in Hellenismos
I have the feeling that a lot of you might be interested in this emailing list:


Here's the group description:Collapse )

Since this is a hotly debated issue in the Hellenismos community these days, I figured that this resource is needed, and I intend to put a lot of the fears (many of them quite justified) to rest.
» sponde.com: The Book!
Work is underway to complete a book based on the sponde.com concept and material.

What we need now is more material, for which we can't afford to pay. So if you'd like to contribute something to a practical manual for modern Hellenic practice, please feel free.

There's a sponde.com email list for volunteers & contributors. PM, email, or post here if you'd like to be on it. The only catch is that everyone on the list has to contribute something. Such as....

a hymn
a ritual
an anecdote
an essay
a chapter
retelling of a myth
etc. etc.

So.... Who's in?
» office shrine ponderings
Who's got thoughts about how to manage a shrine in an office?

I've got one in mine, although it's new and still a work in progress.

More details in this journal entry.
» Ritual Project
I'm putting together a collection of rituals for the web. It'll be a resource for new and experienced practioners alike, and I'm looking to collect as many as possible. If you're interested, please email me at the link provided on my profile!

» The re-building of ancient Greek ruins...
Due to the 2004 Olympics, they're reconstructing the Parthenon and many other sites are being "spruced up." Read more...Collapse )

Do you see this as a positive or negative development? Thoughts?
» (No Subject)
I really feel that this list has been started with the same spirit that this one was:


and I urge people to join.
» What is a hero?
Reposted and edited from HellenicPagan:

What makes a hero? Do we really believe that a real life person, back in ancient times, had divine parentage? Or were they just really great people who accomplished good things, had those particular
deities as patrons, thus were labled as being "son/daughter" of such-and-such deity and given pedestal status? I personally have strong, inner objections against worshipping people who really lived. I would look to people like Odysseus and Herakles as *role models* but not worship them. Again, YMMV.

The Iliad is a mythical retelling of an historical event. How much of what
happened was "real" and "literal" depends on your beliefs and take on the
writing which Homer has presented us with. Was Paris really Apollo in
disguise? Or simply regarded as having acted on behalf of the god with a
skilled bow? Was Achilles REALLY a demi-god, immortal except for the heel of
his foot?

And, why would times today be so radically different that we have no "heroes"
or "demi-gods"? Were there really genuine heroes and demi-gods to begin with,
or just real live people with pedestal problems among those who admired them,
perhaps too much?

Food for thought. I'd like to hear everyone's input on this.
» Patron deities in ancient times
Ok, this place has been quiet for a bit. I'll stir it up.

Patron deities in ancient times in Greece. Yes or no? Back it up. :)

In case you're wondering, there are recons who believe that there were not--just towns and families. I guess they never read Odysseus....
» New to the Subject
I was directed to this group due to a post I wrote that offended some people. I'm kind of new to the idea of studying or following any religion, I was brought up relatively spiritual, my parents weren't too religious, Christmas and Easter Greek Orthodox but basically taught to respect those as you respect yourself and an ultimate respect for nature.

Anyway, out of curiosity in what happened to my ancestors 2000 years ago, I went searching for modern versions of what may have existed then. I've always had an interest in the gods, academic, personal, or whatever, I always wondered how so many people just rejected the notion, forgetting the gods they'd worshipped for arguably 4000 years and replaced them with Christianity.

Apparently my post hit a nerve when I suggested my opinion of what the gods meant to me. As I said, I'm new to this and I was basically putting my opinion out there to see if anyone saw it the way I did.

Basically what I said was that what I find so beautiful about the ancient Greek religion is it's origins, it's metaphorical representations, it's interpretability, and the fact that isolated and often primitave cultures came to worship almost parallel ideals and all these ideals are founded in certain aspects of nature. The Egyptians, The Greeks, Persians, Native Americans, Incans, Myans, all worshiped multiple gods which represented aspects of nature. My suggestion was that when the first Greek (or Myan, or Egyptian, or Native American) realized that he had the capibility to philosophize and began to question his existance he turned to what he knew. Nature. And in this primitive state, he understood the consequences of his actions, the consequences of tilting the balance of nature, and in this understanding he set up a group of laws to live by, and perhaps to make it easier to understand, gave these laws metaphorical representations, the first gods. A simple example, when you upset Neptune, you are upseting the sea, an aspect of nature. When you dump medical waste off the coast of NJ it will wash up on the coast of NC or destroy a crop of fish. This can be seen as Neptune reacting to mans disrespect for nature.

It's very simplistic, but I think that's what makes it so perfect. Since the dawn of Christianity man's laws have been based on a cultured religion, not a natured religion and in this we've polluted the air, the sea, making contempt after contempt on the "gods."

The replies I got from this post, most of these people seemed to practice a form of this religion as if it was Christianity with more than one Christ, basically taking the principles they'd grown up with and projected them onto something new, perhaps out of a feeling to reject the norm. What upset me, was the inability to see how perfect and beautiful these ancient religions can be, not even necessarily religions, they are more like basic guidlines to live by to ensure a necessary balance of nature, all of which we are a part of, and this contempt we have for nature and the gods in modern society will ultimately and inarguably lead to out demise and the first philosophers from whatever culture they came from understood this.

Anyway, like I said, I'm new to all this but that's the basic idea I've had of how the ancient Greek religion, as well as other ancient religions originated and what they intended. But that's what I liked about what alot of the posts on this group said. You don't seem to be projecting the modern idea of religion onto the ancient and seem to be much more enlightened in your ability to accept other interpretations.

Sorry for being so long winded....please feel free to offer up your comments, I'd love to learn more about all this
» Eep. Here I am.
Hello, all!

I just recently joined this community. My name is Hope, I'm 19, and I live in Boone, N.C. I've held a strong connection with the Gods since childhood, and with Athena in particular. I pledged myself in Her service about five years ago.

Like so many others, I was introduced to Paganism via Wicca. I realized about two years ago that there were some things I disagreed with in Wicca, and I became more and more interested in the Greek path.

I'm fairly new to Hellenismos, so I do have two questions I'd like to ask off the bat. I hope I don't sound too ignorant.

1. I've read that many modern Hellenes believe that if one is going to participate in a ritual or festival, one should not have sex, attend funerals, or assist birthings several days prior to the event. The reason given is that we should put ourselves in a mindset which is more divine than mortal, and these things may hinder that.

However, it seems to me that these things are spiritual rites unto themselves. I think that these things remind me more of the Gods than merely my own mortality. It's difficult for me to comprehend why one should seperate oneself from one's humanity in order to communicate with the Gods. The Gods are not inhumane, after all (imo). It's suggested that the Gods would be offended, or rather, one would become unclean, from participating in the most significant and mysterious rites of nature.

Does this sound too pantheistic, am I missing something, or what?

2. I love reading the Homeric Hymns and other mythology. I enjoy discussing polytheistic theology among friends. Greek philosophy, government, history, and art are all fascinating to me. However, I feel really embarressed that most authors include Greek in any given ritual...and I do not know Greek. At all. I have a slight speech impediment and thus trip over my native tongue--you would cringe to hear me butcher the most simple Greek words. Some days I think I would be better off becoming Asatru for the simple fact that I at least know intermediate level German.

Do you know of any sites that could perhaps help me in the pronunciations?

Also, do you feel that it is essential to speak Greek in ritual?

I was contemplating taking a class in Greek, but the only one offered here is in Koire Greek, and you learn through passages in the New Testement. I guess that's better than nothing?

Case in point:

Care, Caire, Ca-ree, Cai-ree, who the hell knows. It's a good thing I don't know any Hellenes in real life.

» A Ritual Pamphlet... Feedback welcome!
How-to Pamphlet of Hellenic Ritual Format

Procession or Pompe:

The participants move to the sanctuary and altar. Common participants include the priest or priestess, libation bearers, basket bearers, water bearers, heralds, and sacrificers. Depending on the size of your group and the knowledge of each participant, a few people may perform all of these roles.

Purification of the Ritual Space:

The offerings and sacrificial implements are carried around the altar. The priest circles the area, sprinkling lustral water to purify the area. Lustral water, also known as khernips, is either from a sacred spring, the sea, or made by plunging a piece of smoldering wood from the hearth or hearth candle into it.

Purification of Participants

Each participant washes his or her hands in the lustral water. The water is also sprinkled over the sacrifices. Any items which may be damaged by the water should be sprinkled lightly and quickly.

Purification of the Altar

Participants take handfuls of barley groats. The barley is then thrown on the altar or altar fire, with the cry of “Hekas o hekas, este bebeloi!” or “Let all profane ones depart!”. This is to consecrate the altar and keep evil spirits from entering the fire.


Libations are usually a half-and-half mixture of wine and water. Part of the libation is poured into the fire, the earth, or a separate bowl on the altar. The libations are then given to the participants to drink; libations can be drunk from individual cups or from a communal drinking bowl or glass. Ideally, a specific person is assigned this task; he or she is known as the spondophoroi, or libation bearer.

The First libation is made to Hestia. The second is made to the featured Olympian or all the Gods in general. A third libation can be made to the remaining Olympians, and the final libation is to Hestia. All libations are accompanied by a song, poem, or hymn.


Ideally, each sacrifice is done by a specific participant, called the mageiros, or sacrificer. The mageiros, touches the sacrifice with the sacrificial knife. Part of the sacrifice is cut off and reserved for the Gods; this can either be burned in the altar fire or placed in a pit of earth. The remainder of the sacrifice is to be distributed among the participants at the feast.

Activities and the Feast

Many Hellenic rituals involved some form of activity or another. Depending on the festival, there were athletic competitions, dramatic plays, comedic plays, music, or dancing. There are a number of ways to address this today; one can present a dramatic monologue, tell jokes, etc. How this is organized depends on the size, age, and imagination of your ritual group.

The feast is comprised of the offerings and other foods. Traditionally, all the food was consumed at the ritual site. Also, small portions of the food and wine served should be sacrificed (if not done so previously). A small libation should be poured on the ground to honor the agathos daimon (guardian spirits of the house), but may be poured into small bowls if wine spilt on the floor is a concern.

Modern Concerns and How to Address Them

Ideally, a modern Hellenic pagan would have a large ritual with a number of participants, everyone would have a role, and we could hold them outside and perform them exactly as done by the ancients. Of course, this is not always the case, and each group should work the semantics of the ritual out.

Many small groups will find that there are more roles than participants. There were a number of roles in Hellenic ritual: the priest or priestess, libation bearers, basket bearers, water bearers, bearers of holy secrets, musicians, sacrificers, torchbearers, heralds, and other roles depending on the ritual. Sadly, not all groups are large enough to assign each individual a specific task. Don’t be afraid to multi-task! If necessary, the libations, torches, and sacrifices can be placed on the altar in advance. And for those who run the ritual, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Libations are a touchy subject. Traditionally, wine was the libation of choice. However, modern law and modern thought sometimes interfere with this tradition. Discuss the libation of wine prior to the ritual. Some parents may not wish to have their children drink wine. If you’re in a public park maintained by your city, municipality, or county, you may not be able to bring any form of alcohol. Finally, some participants may not feel comfortable drinking alcohol if alcoholism is an issue. Address these concerns in advance, and if need be, grape juice may be substituted for wine.

Traditionally, the ritual was centered around or near the hearth. Many of us do not have a fireplace or hearth area in our homes, and many of us may not be able to run rituals outside, making burnt offerings somewhat complicated. I have heard some modern Hellenic pagans use an indoor hibachi or George Foreman grill for inside ritual. To symbolize the hearth, some have hearth candles which have been purified prior to the ritual. This is another issue which should be addressed beforehand.

In an ideal world, we would hold our rituals outside. That’s not always practical. The nosy neighbor, the cost to rent a space in the local park to get some privacy, the lack of privacy in local parks, or the simple lack of space because of modern apartment living all become issues. Organize your space well beforehand, and grab a few of the participants and do a “dress rehearsal” prior to the actual ritual to ensure that there is enough room to do what you need to do. Maximizing the space before the actual ritual will save you some headaches the day of.

Finally, there is Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will. When organizing a ritual, always be prepared for every eventuality. Have extra supplies on hand. Keep a flashlight handy if the power goes out. If using pre-recorded music, make sure there is a radio with batteries handy. If outside, make sure that there is a pavilion, porch, or tent, just in case. Keep a script handy as people who are not used to speaking in public may fumble or forget their lines. Make sure that pets are taken into consideration. If you have a large pet who likes to be under your feet all the time, perhaps consider leaving him home or in his crate. If you have a pet which cannot resist pulling things down, keep all your tools out of reach. Finally, if your pet likes to eat anything that ends up on the floor, keep that in mind as well. Barley, grains, alcohol and other offerings which are traditional may not be easily digested by small or young animals.

Keep all of this in mind when planning the ritual, and it will go off without a snag the day of!
» Who, me? Recon?
I was pondering a bit last night....

Does one reconstruct Hellenism for the sake of reconstructing Hellenism? I guess various among us use this approach to varying degrees at times, and some do so extensively.

When I first heard of Hellenic Recon and Hellenion (the only HR organization that really stood out at the time, and still the one that stands out most prominently), I figured this was something worth encouraging. I still basically agree with that sentiment.

But although I find value enough in some ancient practices to carry them forward (libation being the most notable on the list for me), I see how there can be both "bottom up" and "top down" approaches.

Reconstructionism for the sake of reconstructionism can be thought of in contrast with, for instance, noting that some Hellenic practices fit in with one's life and incorporating them or noting that some of one's activities seem to be "Hellenic".

A couple of recent examples of this latter way of looking at things might be my viewing geocaching as a Hermetic activity and seeing wine tastings as thoroughly Dionysian events. Heck, the wine tastings even have big, nice metal spitoons for pouring excess wine into (or spitting wine tasted but not to be consumed into), like big sacrificial basins. One may see such activities as inherently honoring and manifesting the influence of deities.

Contrast this with "we should do XYZ because they did it this way in [insert polis here]".

Any thoughts on this line of pondering?
» cc'ed to a few communities...
Ancient Greek religion alive and well in a small tribe
» Geocaching & Hermes?

Who thinks Geocaching seems like a Hermetic* thing to do?

*Disclaimer: I mean "Hermetic" in the sense of "pertaining to Hermes". No need for panic. ;)
» A Hellenic Mystic Miscellany
http://sponde.com/HellenicMysticMiscellany.html is a new page added to sponde.com, listing a few subject areas worthy of a Hellenic mystic's attention (and with a few pointers to nudge people in the right direction).
» Theurgy in Greek religion
I'm busy catching up on email, a long, horrendous process that will most likely last days. One thing that did catch my eye was the official leaving of two people in the Hellenic community due to various reasons, and some of the reasons cited was the lack of "mysticism, magic, and prophesy" in the Hellenic recon community. This post, however, has nothing to do with them. I support them completely and feel they should follow their heart.

But I am concerened that in an attempt to make our religion pure of any neo-pagan influences, we have thrown out the potentials for things which are not only vital to any religion, but our religion as well. Heck, I nearly left a few years ago for the same reasons. I stayed because I love my gods too much to turn to another religion's gods, and decided to make it part of my goal--to discover a practice or set of practices that people who are involved in mysticism and theurgy can do. As this topic has been of intense debate recently, I have accelerated my research. I have discovered two excellent chapters in two separate books which cover this topic: Sarah Iles Johnson's Hekate Soteira Has a chapter entitled "Hekate and Theurgy" in which it is excplicitly stated that methods of divination and magic that do NOT involve the gods were expressely prohibited in Chaldean theurgy. The intention was to connect and pray to the gods, not for personal power or ambition.
    "Who controlled these processes, both ritualistic and spiritual? Did the theurgist, as traditional witches and magicians were said to, coerce the divine into cooperation? According to Iamblichus, he very definitely did not. Theurgy and its goal--the unification of man's soul with the divine--were activiated by the divine alone; the soul's role was strictly preparatory." (pg 85)

And in regards to artifical means of prophecy or magic that did not involve the gods:
    "Astrology, bird auspices, and haruspicy are called 'toys, the supports of a deceptive trade," and the theurgist is urged to 'flee from all of them,' if he intends t'to enter the holy paradise of happiness, where virtue and wisdom and good laws meet together.' This indicates a distrust of artifical methods of divination (methods in which the gods did not speak directly to the theurgist)" (pg 86).

The entire chapter is excellent and I have no desire to quote it here. Then there's the work Magika Hiera by Christopher Faraone, particularly the chapter by Fritz Graf on "Prayer in Magic and Religious Ritual".  Here's an interesting quote from there:

    "The function of the voces magicae, at least, is clear.  They are not used, as some have claimed, to force the divinity; they take the place of, and serve as, the credentials, an ample display of knowledge.  In several instances, the papryri state that these names were secret, that the gods enjoys being called by them and helps out of joy:  as the gods themselves who had revealed them.  The magician behaves not very differently from an initiate of a mystery cult: both claim a special relationship with their respective gods, based on revealed knowledge--this can explain why parts of mystery rituals were taken over into the prayers of the magical papyri" (pg 192).

There is definitely support for some form of mystical practice involving contemplative prayer, mystical ritual, and the gods.

» New site
I've begun working on a new site:


Please, let me know if you have any suggestions for it. It's definitely a work in progress and could use much input.
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