I get a lot of questions from people coming into Hellenismos from a Neo-Pagan path. Very often, they are looking to honor the ancient Hellenic Gods in a more Traditional manner, and I applaud that! I recently receive another one such question, about Hekate specifically, but it contains many things I come across often, so I've decided to post the full reply on my blog today, with the parts I usually leave out, to maybe help other seekers along.

"Hello, I hope you are well. I have a question about Ækáti. I've know of Her for years, and She has tried to garner my attention many, many times. I'm in a place now where I am ready to approach Her, and I'm planning on following the traditional Hellenic ritual style, but I am new to the idea of Hellenismos. I'm wondering what I should expect, if anything, when approaching a deity of Ancient Hellas, especially a Titaness like Ækáti. Her reputation is definitely intense, and while I have worked with a figure of similar nature from European folklore, that figure was not a titan, nor so immense as Ækáti seems to be. There are plenty of people in the witchcraft tags who claim a relationship with Ækáti, but I want to know the perspective of someone who practices Hellenismos. I know Her cultus was fairly infamous in Ancient Hellas, and that she was and is most revered and favored by Zeus, all of which has me wanting to make sure I am respectful in approaching her. I've begun crafting up an incense for Her comprised of Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Laurel leaves, Henbane, and Mandrake as offering, and have the translation of the Orphic Hymn to Her (not the Taylor version, but the one closer to the word for word translation) to recite at the opening the rite. In your opinion, would this be a good way to begin?"

Khaire and welcome to Hellenismos and the worship of Hekate! I'm going to get to your questions, but let me start off by getting a few misconceptions out of the way. For one, I see you've found hellenicgods.org. "Ækáti" is a name for Her I have literally only seen from Callimachos and I have no explanation for why he chooses to use it. His approach to Hellenismos is entirely Orphic, so perhaps that's part of it, but I'd feel a whole lot better if you would either use the Greek Ἑκάτη or the English Hekate. It's up to you, of course, but since the request was for information about a Traditional approach to Her worship I wanted to put it out there.

I have another tiny personal pet-peeve to advise you on, if you don't mind: Taylor. Unlike Callimachos, I don't have a problem with his translations and I don't find them to be inferior at all. They convey the spirit of the hymn just as well as the version Callimachos preaches, and which I think he translated himself. It's a beautiful version, so don't be afraid to use it, but Hellenismos and the worship of the Gods in general is a matter of the heart, not the mind, and if the heart connects more with the Taylor (or any other) version over the literal translation, then go with that. A hymn should be recited--called out, shouted, proclaimed--with power and love: it's a call to the Gods that says: "I am here and I love you! Come to me, please, to accept Your offerings and listen to my pleas!". Find the translation that you connect with to your bones and you will be able to do that. Which translation that is, does not matter. Remember: worship of the Gods is about Them, not you.

...which brings me to something else I hear a lot from people who come to Hellenismos from a more general neo-Pagan worship: the dreaded "working with". If you want to practice Hellenismos in a Traditional manner, those two words together should be the first to get scrapped from your vocabulary.

Within Hellenismos, the Gods rule supreme. We are here to serve and honor Them, and in return, They provide us with what we need to survive. This practice is called "kharis" (loosely translated as ritual reciprocity) is one of the pillars of Hellenismos. Not complying with the will of the Gods is called "hubris". Hubris, in dictionary terms, means excessive pride or arrogance and comes from the Greek (hýbris, ὕβρις). For me, hubris is not an adjective but a verb. It describes the act of willful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods.

Human kind is said to be a step above animals because we have the ability to think about our actions and predict their consequences, but we are below the Gods, because we are mortal. Unlike the Gods, we do not plan centuries ahead; we have only a limited amount of time to live, and our actions reflect that. We are encouraged to use our ability to think logically about our actions and choose wisely. It's not wise to put yourself on the same level as the Gods--they are Gods, not our co-workers. You work with co-workers, not with Gods. You honor, worship, and subject yourself to Gods.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, I'll get to what you were actually asking about: Hekate. You might want to read this post in its entirety, but I'll summarize the bits that matter the most. 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.

It's 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, focused--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.

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. 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 (spiritual pollution, you could say) 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 and be more likely to have Her look favorably upon the supplicant.

As you can see, even much later in ancient Hellenic times, Hekate was not a Goddess who was "infamous", she was a much-honored household deity who protected the home and everything in it from outside and internal harm. She is kourotrophos (a protector of children) born into each and every single household, and helped Demeter get her daughter Kore (Persephone) back after Her abduction. She is a Goddess who brings luck and good fortune to households who honor Her faithfully and Her importance in Hellenismos cannot be overstated. It's because of this that I struggle a lot with this continual pigeonholing of Her as a Goddess of witchcraft. Literally her only link to witchcraft was that the ancient Hellenes feared it and they prayed to Hekate to protect their homes against it. That's it. To me it's vitally important that you know who Hekate was to the ancient Hellenes and that you understand how much her "image" has changed in the centuries that followed. If you want to honor Her Traditionally, you'll invest time in the "Hesiodic" version of her, which was the version of Her honored above all. The dark version of Her Callimachos describes on his website was not a version of Her that was honored in a widespread manner.

Now, as for worshipping Her: I describe the pantheon of Hellenic Gods like a tapestry. The major displays woven into it are undoubtedly the Olympians, but the fringes of the tapestry are just as colorful as the main display. They hold the “minor” Gods and Goddesses and the Gods who ruled before the Olympians. Without these, the tapestry would not only be plain, it would be threadbare. It’s my firm belief that it’s impossible to practice Hellenismos and only worship one or a handful of Gods. One must invest in at least the pursuit of knowledge about every single God or Goddess in our pantheon to fully grasp the parts you thought you already understood. Without the details of the tapestry, its full beauty can’t be appreciated, after all.

If you want to honor Hekate, honor Her parents as well, honor Zeus, whom She is very close to. Honor Demeter and Kore, honor Hermes whom is close to Her in Her khthonic persona, and if you honor Her in a specific aspect (kouroptrophos, for example), honor the other Goddesses and Gods who guarded over that aspect as well. What makes Hellenismos, Hellenismos, is that only very, very rarely (and I can't even think of one example) a deity is honored alone during a rite.

Your incense sounds lovely! Most, if not all the ingredients would be available to the ancient Hellenes, which is always good. Note that mandrake is slightly psychoactive, so don't use too much in your mixture to be safe. We don't have an incense recipe from ancient times with which Hekate was honored, so your guess is as good as mine!

I hope this helps you form and enjoy your worship of Her, and pray you may build kharis with Her and others steadily!
New buildings have come to light during excavation and restoration works conducted from May 30 to July 7, 2017 at the Sanctuary of Apollo on the uninhabited Greek island of Despotiko (Mantra site), on the west of Antiparos. This reports the Archaeological News Network, and they have many more pictures up on their website.

Systematic excavations at Despotiko have begun in 1997 and have brought to light one of the most significant archaeological sites of the Cyclades. The excavations are headed by archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades Yannis Kouragios. As in previous years, the 2017 dig was carried out thanks to kind financial support. ​The results of this excavation season are being considered extremely important for the topography of the sanctuary. Among this year’s findings, the fragment of a marble Kore figurine, dating back to the early Archaic period, part of the block with the foot of an archaic Kouros and a fragment of the leg of a Kouros stand out.

Investigations focused on the excavation of the building complex, which had been partially surveyed in 2016 (in particular, the area south of the Archaic sanctuary). This year, eight new rooms came to light, on the south and west side of this complex, although its boundaries have not been located yet.
The complex consists of 12 rooms and its total visible space is 180 square meters. The dimensions of the densely built-up rooms vary, but they all have the same orientation, with their entrances on the south. Some of them were most likely open-air spaces, such as courtyards or vestibules.

Based on the findings (an abundance of Archaic and Classical pottery) and some architectural elements, the excavator believes that the complex had functioned as a storage and accommodation space, demonstrating the fact that the sanctuary attracted many visitors and that it need to be expanded in order to accommodate the large numbers of worshippers up to the 4th c. BC.

Excavation work has also been conducted in the buildings which do not belong to the sanctuary. The investigation of Building B, already excavated in 2007 and 2013, has been completed. All its rooms were revealed, as well as its usage phases, dating back to the 7th c. BC, the first half of the 6th c. BC (the main usage phase of the building) and the late 6th c. BC.

On the northeastern end of the peninsula, close to the shore, another building (4.40×4.30 m) was located and excavated. Only its foundations are preserved. Its location and its ground plan suggest that it must have been an observatory or a tower.

The excavation findings were rich and various. Among them there are more than black-gazed lamps and 30 inscribed pottery fragments, shards of “Melian” amphorae and black-glazed kylikes, fragments of red-figure kraters with depictions of naked young men, vessels for everyday use, such as strainers, lekanes, jugs, salt containers, bowls etc., many metal objects (nails, bolts, hooks etc.).

The restoration works lasted 4 weeks. Two columns of the restaurant and their capitals have been put in place and preliminary work for the placement of a third column has been carried out. Also, the restoration of the walling in Buildings A and B has been completed.

Apart from the members of the scientific group, many students and archaeologists from universities in Greece and abroad have taken part in the investigations.

This post ties in with many more finds over the years, namely: Dig sheds light on Despotiko sanctuary, Skeleton of worker from 550 BC found on Cycladic island of Despotiko, Topography of Archaic sanctuary at Despotiko comes to light, and Despotiko excavation reveals more of the sanctuary of Apollon.
Last year, I made a post on aesthetics of the Hellenic Gods, taken from Tumblr. Because I don't repost artwork (and I will always link!), many of those are now missing, as you can see. So, time for an update! These are almost all from ars-aesthetica.

I have a very important deadline in eight days and my time to spend on anything but that is very limited. As such, I want t point you to a resource you might not know about. It's called Forgotten Books. Forgotten Books is a London-based book publisher specializing in the restoration of old books, both fiction and non-fiction. They have over 730.000 books available to read online, download as ebooks, or purchase in print, and many of those are related to ancient Hellas in some way.

Finding anything on Forgotten books can be a bit of a hassle, but I've got you covered. The easiest way to go through the books is to select a category and scroll from there. The ones of obvious interest are: Greco-Roman Philosophy, Mythology, and Art History.

Then there are the obvious searches that get you much closer to the content you're looking for right away: Greek Mythology, Greek Hymns, Greek Civilization, Greek Music, Greek Plays, and Greek Culture.

If that doesn't lead you to awesomeness right away, here are a few of my favorites: A Study of the Greek Paean (Arthur Fairbanks), The Religion of Ancient Greece & Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (Jane Ellen Harrison), and The Ancient Use of the Greek Accents in Reading and Chanting (G. T. Carruthers).

Enjoy your reading time!
Greece is issuing a circulating commemorative €2 coin to celebrate the ancient settlement of Philippi. A total of 750,000 of the coins are due for release in the second half of 2017. So what's this settlement and why is it important enough to feature on a coin?

Philippi, or Philippoi (Φίλιπποι) was a city in eastern Macedonia, in the Edonis region. Its original name was Krenides (Κρηνῖδες), meaning "Fountains". It was establishment by Thasian colonists in 360/359 BC. The city was renamed by Philip II of Macedon in 356 BC and would eventually be abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest. It was made a World Heritage Site in 2016.

The objective of conquering the town was to take control of the neighboring gold mines and to establish a garrison at a strategic passage: the site controlled the route between Amphipolis and Neapolis, part of the great royal route which crosses Macedonia from the east to the west and which was reconstructed later by the Roman Empire as the Via Egnatia. Philip II endowed the city with important fortifications, which partially blocked the passage between the swamp and Mt. Orbelos, and sent colonists to occupy it. Philip also had the marsh partially drained, as is attested by the writer Theophrastus. Philippi preserved its autonomy within the kingdom of Macedon and had its own political institutions (the Assembly of the demos). The discovery of new gold mines near the city, at Asyla, contributed to the wealth of the kingdom and Philip established a mint there. The city was fully integrated into the kingdom under Philip V. The city contained 2,000 people at the height of it Hellenic era. The most important (Hellenic and Roman) monuments of the site are:

The walls and the acropolis: The structure has two architectural phases: the first was built by Philip II and the second by Justinian I in A.D. 527-565. Inside the acropolis there is a tower dated to the Late Byzantine period.

The theatre, which was probably built by king Philip II around the middle of the 4th century B.C. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries it was overhauled to meet the demand in .

The Agora was the administrative center of Philippi in the Roman period. It is a complex of public buildings arranged around a central open square. The most imposing buildings are the North-East temple and the North-West temple.

Basilica A is a large, three-aisled basilica (130 x 50 meter) with transept aisle on the east side, a square atrium, and gallery over the aisles and the narthex. Fragments of the luxurious pavement and part of the ambo are preserved in the middle aisle. Particularly impressive are the frescoes that imitate orthostates (dados) in the porch of a chapel. Dated to the end of the 5th century A.D.

Basilica B is a three-aisled basilica dated to ca. 550 A.D. It has a narthex and annexes to the north and south (phiale, vestry). The almost square in plan, central aisle was covered with a vault supported by large pillars. This is the basilica portrayed on the coin.

Basilica C is another three-aisled basilica. It had luxurious marble inlays on the floor and rich sculptural and architectural decoration. The basilica is dated to the 6th century A.D.

The excavations on the site of Philippi began in 1914 by the French School of Archaeology at Athens. After the Second World War, excavations were resumed by the Greek Archaeological Service and the Archaeological Society. Nowadays, the archaeological exploitation of the site is carried out by the Archaeological Service, the Aristoteleian University of Thessaloniki and the French School of Archaeology at Athens. The finds from the excavations are housed in the Museum of Philippi.

An image of the archaeological site featuring part of Basilica B, and linear motifs inspired by a border pattern from an ancient Greek mosaic discovered at the site, appears on the obverse of the coin. Inscribed along the inner circle are Greek inscriptions translating to “Archaeological Site of Philippi” and “Hellenic Republic.” Also inscribed in the background is the year of issuance 2017 and to the right a palmette (the Mint mark of the Greek Mint). Visible at the lower left is the monogram of the artist, George Stamatopoulos.
I am very proud to announce that The United Hellenismos Association has become Pandora's Kharis' Hekatombaion 2017 cause now it's been pitched a second time!

The United Hellenismos Association is a Non-Profit Organization whose main purposes are education, orthopraxy, and keeping the Hellenic spirit and virtues alive throughout the world. It has just recently hit its one year mark and it continues to grow and develop communities throughout the US, and slowly the world. The UHA supports the training of a well educated priest/priestess program as well as will sponsor pagan chaplains for qualified individuals.

The deadline to donate is July 24th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Hm. It seems I lied to someone recently. Or, at least, told them something that wasn't true. I get a lot of questions and I forgot who asked the question so this is for you, person who asked about mermaids. Turns out: there are mermaids in Hellenic mythology--at least locally so.

I recently came across this tiny snippet in Diodorus Siculus' "The Library of History":

"Now there is in Syria a city known as Ascalon, and not far from it a large and deep lake, full of fish. On its shore is a precinct of a famous goddess whom the Syrians call Derceto; and this goddess has the head of a woman but all the rest of her body is that of a fish, the reason being something like this. 3 The story as given by the most learned of the inhabitants of the region is as follows: Aphrodite, being offended with this goddess, inspired in her a violent passion for a certain handsome youth among her votaries; and Derceto gave herself to the Syrian and bore a daughter, but then, filled with shame of her sinful deed, she killed the youth and exposed the child in a rocky desert region, while as for herself, from shame and grief she threw herself into the lake and was changed as to the form of her body into a fish; and it is for this reason that the Syrians to this day abstain from this animal and honour their fish as gods." [4.2]

Well then! Derceto was new for me (trust me, I do not know everything about ancient Hellenic mythology, especially not local deities). It seems to be a different (local) name for Atargatis, the chief Goddess of northern Syria in Classical Antiquity. She's a protective Goddess as well as a fertility Goddess and her sanctuaries had ponds close by. The priests were the only ones allowed to take care of the fish in the ponds, and if I remember well, they were also the only ones allowed to touch them. Atargatis' worship did travel into ancient Hellas, but I am truly not sure how wide-spread Her worship was. I do know that the mermaid myth was local to Ascalon, not even extending to the other shrines of Atargatis.

So, there: mermaids in ancient Hellenic mythology. It's slim, but it's there. Sorry I can't let you know directly, person!