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Author Topic: Hellenic Polytheism  (Read 10207 times)
Carnelian
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Religion: Greek paganism
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« Reply #3: March 10, 2011, 11:42:56 am »

I've grown quiet curious about this path and was wondering if anyone could tell me more about the religion itself, I'm aware they worship the 12 Olympian Gods, but I was merely wondering what their core beliefs were such as their ethics/virtues, the afterlife, what exactly are their practices and holidays since I'm aware that they do not celebrate the wheel of the year. Also I was wondering if anyone had any legit nonfluffy reference to study on (I'm aware theoi.com was a good help)

Thank You,

cottoncandyhorror


That's tough to answer because it isn't necessarily a uniform tradition. There was no one concept of the afterlife in ancient Greece, and there were many systems of ethics depending on which "school" a person belonged to. I like the Delphic maxims, but remember they are guidelines, not commandments: http://www.flyallnight.com/khaire/DelphicMaxims/maxims.htm

Generally speaking, the afterlife was ruled by Hades and Persephone in the Underworld, which was composed of many levels. The especially virtuous and heroic went to the Elysian Fields, the nasty people went to Tartarus, while the general population just stayed somewhere in the middle. Conceptions of the afterlife were bleak, a person basically just became a a shade-like spirit wandering around the dark underworld for eternity. Still, there were no developed or uniform afterlife beliefs like there were in Egypt, for example. Certain mystery cults promised a blessed afterlife or reincarnation, like those of Demeter, Dionysus and Isis, and later philosophical schools had different ideas, as well.

Most Hellenic polytheists follow an ancient calendar, like the Athenian festival calendar. It's lunar, so the new moon brings a new month, and each day of the first week or so is sacred to one or more deities. There are also festivals throughout the year dedicated to certain deities. Some are seasonal, some are specific to the polis. You don't need to practice all of them, just figure out which ones make sense in the context of your life.

In terms of practice, it mostly consists of giving offerings to the gods on certain days. As the goddess of the sacred flame, Hestia is central to practice, as offerings are burned in her flame, and when a person honours a deity, the first sacrifice is given to Hestia. You can burn things like incense or barley grains, it doesn't need to be too elaborate. Libations are also a good way to honour a deity. Heavenly gods are honoured by sponde libations, in which the liquid is poured out for the god, and then the person offering drinks some. Underworld gods and the dead are given choe libations, in which all of the liquid is poured out. This is based on the concept of reciprocity, which is central to Greek culture. Give to the gods, and they will give to you.

Some sites you  might want to check out are:
http://www.labrys.gr/index.php?l=householdworship
http://www.hellenion.org/index.html
http://kyrene.4t.com/index.html
http://www.sponde.us/
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