We are all pretty aware of what a Pantheon is, but I figured some might not know about some of the major sub-pantheons and so here they are.
Protogenoi are the Theoi of the first generation, they embody the cosmic phenomena from before the conception of the world to the very basic building blocks of the world. Some of the Protogenoi are Nyx (Night), Phanes (Cosmic Egg), Khronos (Time), Khaos (Air) Ouros (Mountain) Pontos (sweet waters) etc…
Titanes are of the 2nd generation, they embody natural phenomenas which can be viewed in a Pantheistic view. Some of thr Titanes are Rhea, Leto, Astreria, Nereus, Doris, Prometheus etc….
Olympoi are the Theoi of civilization, the Olympian theoi are the 12 main gods that rule over the the Heavens.
Apart from these greater sub pantheons the ancients came up with other forms of distinguishing their Theoi.
Chthonoi (kothonoy) are the Gods that reside in the underworld, the word Chthonoi translates to “Within the Earth”. The Chthonoi are Theoi whos domains are affiliated to Death in one way or another. Some of the Chthonoi are Hades, Hekate, Persephone, Ploutos, The Erinyes etc…
Ouranoi are the Theoi that dwell in heaven, the title comes from the Theo Ouranos which means Heaven. Some of them are Zeus, Zephyros, Aphrodite, Leto, Selene, Rhea etc…
Georgikoi are the pastoral Theoi, georgos translates to Farm-work. Some of these are Pan, Silenos, Priapos, the Nymphai etc…
Halioi are the Theoi of the Sea, some of them are Thetis, Nereus, Tethys, Poseidon, Amphitrite, Pontos, Okeanos etc…
Its important to note that a great number of the gods fall into multiple categories. Hekate. Has place within all 3, Zeus is Ouranian and Chthonian, Poseidon is a Halioi and a Chthonoi , Hermes is all 3 etc… So it’s always good to keep in mind!
This post serves to explain some of the very basic key terms in the Hellenic religion.
Sponde is the typical and most common form of libation, a Sponde (Spondeh) is performed in honor of the Ouranian Theoi. These libations are typically of Wine or Water and the devotee partakes in the libation by taking a sip. The Sponde is performed during the day and emptied into either the ground or a votive bowl. The name attributed to the vessel dedicated to Sponde libations is Spondophoroi.
Khoe is the second type of libation, these libations are made in devotion to the Chthonoi and Georgikoi, unlike Sponde libations, the devotee doesn’t partake in the offering and these libations are made at night. Khoe libations were typically of Honey, Milk, Oil or sometimes very dark Wine. The name for the vessel is Khoi and they’re typically large, the libation is dripped slowly into a Bothros.
Thyesthai Ritual Animal Sacrifice in devotion to the Ouranian Theoi, a Thyesthai is pretty much the Animal Sacrifice version of the Sponde, in ancient Hellas animal sacrifices were only done during major festivals where the larger mass of the population partook in the event. Like the Sponde, everybody dines off the sacrifical animal and portions are left as offerings to the Theoi, Thyesthai’s were done during the day.
Holocaustos is to Thyestai as Khoe is to Sponde. Holocaustos were Ritual Animal Sacrifices done in the honor of the Chthonoi. A Holocaustos was to be performed at night and the animal was not to be consumed, also the animal was to be burned alive.
Agathos Daimon is the spirit that watches over the home and family. The name translates to “The Good Spirit”. Depending on the region of Hellas is whether the Agathos Daimon was perceived as a form or Zeus, Dionysos or an individual entity all on it’s own, regardless of perception the spirit is depicted as a Snake and has a holy day of its own named after itself right after the Noumenia. On the Agathos Daimon day one is to spend time with their family and to leave an offering to the Household Theoi as well as ones ancestors.
Arete is the title given to priests in ancient Hellas. the title translates to “Supplicant”.
Bothros is the dug up hole in the earth used as an offering to the Chthonoi and Georgikoi.
Deipnon is the holy day that takes place on the night of the Dark Moon, it is done in devotion to Hekate Apotropaia who guards the doorways, Hekate on this night roams around purifying spaces which is why on the Deipnon one cleanses the home letting all the Miasma flow outside the door and for this very reason after sunset one is not to walk outside the home where one would find themselves polluting themselves. During the early evening the family was to dines in her honor and leaves an offering at the crossroads right before it gets dark.
Epithets are an attached name to indicate the domain of the theoi, ex: Dionysos Eleutheros (liberator), Hekate Soteira (Saviour). Some Epithets are also poetic titles like Eustephanos (Rich-Crowned) Aphrodite and Argyropeza (Silver-Footed) Thetis which are used in adoration/endearment in Hymns and poems.
Kurios The head of Oikos, traditionally a male. If you’re family or those living in the household do not share your beliefs then you become the head by default.
Oikos The Family/Home
Miasma is essentially translated as “Spiritual Pollution”, it’s a natural occurring phenomena. To do a ritual one must cleanse themselves of their Miasma first. Miasma isn’t inherently a bad thing, best way for me to describe it is as negative/mundane energy. Anger, Sadness etc… builds Miasma a bit quicker, Murder, lingering around cemetaries (funerals etc) and some argue Sex (not proven) build major Miasma, in fact the Miasma built from Murder could only be cleansed by a series of rituals instructed by certain priests like those of the Oracle of Delphai. A regular person need only to ritually cleanse themselves, those that have dealt with death or attended a funeral should refrain from entering a Temple for three weeks to not offend the Theoi. However some believe that those devoted to the Chthonoi didn’t worry about Miasma.
Noumenia The festival right after the Deipnon and before Agathos Daimon. The Noumenia is done in honor of Selene and Artemis, it takes place when you’re able to see the first slit of the moon at night, it marked the new month and surrounded on the idea of new beginnings. In a way the Noumenia is a monthly New Year, on this day families would jot down their goals for the new month.
Oracle Person or practice of divining by power of the Theoi
UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) in layman’s terms it’s your very own Personal Spiritual Experience. The word was coined by a member of the Asatru community which the Hellenic Polytheist community has adopted. UPG’s are more or less important depending on whether you take to a more reconstructionist religious method or not.
This is pretty random, but I’ve definitely grown an affinity for Thetis, the leader of the 50 Nereids, daughter of Old Nereus and his consort Doris. Thetis like her father is a prophetic deity. The poetic epithet used to refer to Thetis by Homer was Argyropeza which translate to Silver-Footed, another poetic epithet was Halosydne which means Sea-nourished, it was used for Amphitrite as well. I think the reason I love her so much is because she’s the only other deity that’s harbored a fugitive other than Zeus, and unlike with Zeus she hadn’t been asked to save them. The two Gods she saved was first Hephaestos who she took in after he was exiled from the heavens. As Hephaestos descended from the heavens into the sea Thetis leaped out and brought him to the palace of her father old Nereus and cared for him with the help of Eurynome. The second God she harbored was Dionysos when he was expelled by Lycurgus. I find it interesting that she was so open to provide care to other deities regardless of there reputation. When I went to Puerto Rico a few weeks ago, I made it a point to pray to Her especially even along the rest of the Haloi. Next time I get the chance to go to the beach I definitely plan to see if I can get some oracle from her, it would be spectacular.
For all of you that don’t know, EDC is an EDM festival, it stands for Electric Daisy Carnival and they hold yearly festivals in Las Vegas, New York City and San Juan (Puerto Rico). This year I went to my first carnival, not out of interest but because friends of my boyfriend who we were going to Puerto Rico with were going to attend and we decided to get tickets and go with. The first night was rather dull personally, as I absolutely didn’t even try to engage into the festivities, I definitely isolated myself. The second night of the festival, I went hammmmm … needless to say I got hammered, took a smackload of epic pics but to my surprise I also experienced a series of revelations, Dionysian revelations at that ! My first revelation was to the unveiling of the Dionysian culture we live in, I suddenly realized, everyone around me including myself was in a state of frenzy, there was a sense of liberation and chaos but one that brought everyone together, and number two, everyone was wearing flower garlands (Dionysos Anthios “of the flowers”). One thing I found particular along with that, is that Anthesteria takes place this Monday, and the festival only happened less then a week ago. The experience through all of this brought me surreal revelations surrounding the truth of/in perception, and the invaluable benefits of succumbing to your senses and living in the moment, which for me is a challenge considering I’m much more of a structured individual.
This Hymn is more like a night time prayer, I say it before I go to bed when I remember, but I wouldn’t use it for ritual if I was ever to do a ritual involving Hypnos.
Blessed is he, Hypnos
Ruler over Theoi and mortals alike
Epidotes, who relieves the Erinyes at night
wont you lay your Gloomy kiss on me tonight
Blessed is he, Hypnos
Einodian Hekaten, Kliezo, Trihoditin Erannen
Ouranian, Chthonian, te kai, Einalian, Krokopeplos
Tymbidian, Psychai Nekyon, Meta bakchousan
Perseian, Phileremon, Agollomenen elaphoisi
Nykterian, Skylakitin, Amaimaketon Basileian
Therobromon, Azoston, aprosmachon Eidos Echousan
Tauropolon, Pantos Kosmou, Kleidouchon, Anassan
Hegemonen, Nymphen, Kourotrophon, Ouresiphoitin
Lissomenos, Kouren, Teletais Hosiasi Parenai
Boukoloi eumeneousan aei Kechareoti Thymoi
On the night of August 21st in 2013 I had my first involuntary experience with a Theoi, and it was with the Titanide Selene. This is my dream, and what took place! thanks for reading, please subscribe!
This was by far the most intense yet most tranquil dream ever. I found myself as my 16 year old self, talking to another 16 year old boy about philosophy and beliefs, we were exchanging them seemingly, though all he did was repeat his back to me as if it was something he was regurgitating, as if it was something he was being conditioned to believe. Me and this boy kept on chatting this dead-end conversation until his father stormed in, his father was this aggressive, extremely authoritarian man, with no doubt in my mind this man was abusive and extremely violent, I could feel his anger and oppression from the other side of the room. The father of the boy started immediately yelling at the boy asking him to repeat his philosophies and beliefs and the boy obediently did so, at this moment is when I realized what was happening. I could see myself from my point of view looking down at my chest, and i saw the moon within me, and I was glowing milky white with a touch of blue, I felt light, i felt sad but most of all I felt the most overwhelming sense of maternal love for the boy, I shed a tear and all I could do was watch. A seconds moment passed and I saw myself from outside my body being within the body of the Titaness Selene, I could feel my very presence and existence being completely enwrapped and overtaken by Selene, I was being possessed and it was divine and powerful beyond belief. Once I acknowledged what was happening to me I instantly realized that the angry and controlling father was Kronos, this terrified me beyond belief. The boy sitting on the floor with his legs crossed puzzled me, I felt sad watching him being yelled at, but I felt like i had no right to interject. As I stood there, I contemplated who the child could be, until a moment later I had the most distinguishable gut instinct that Kronos was going to push this boy past his limit and that the boy was going to overpower him, and that’s when I realized the boy was Zeus. When I came to this realization I finally became sentient to the energy Zeus was emitting, I sensed glory and overwhelming power, the energy was all encompassing and alarmed me. When I woke up I was instantly able to rationalize the experience. This experience truthfully let me embody what motherhood, maybe divine motherhood is, it taught me how exceptional and overwhelmingly powerful love can be. While awake though not being able to remember the imagery, I remembered the feeling of having held Zeus in my arms and showering him with love, acceptance, pity and hope. This experience made me feel like my heart had opened widely. This dream was both spiritual and emotional, and it’s one I’ll never forget.
The Nymphai played an absolute pivotal role in Hellenic religion, sadly I can’t say the same for contemporary Hellenists but admittedly it’s due to both justified and unjustified reasons. The Nymphai today are marginalized and unfortunately an abundance of Hellenists, especially those starting out in the religion don’t know and maybe don’t even care to know for them. I for one have always been hazy on what the Nymphai are so I decided to delve in lightly as to what these divine beings are about and their function in society. As always, this is a post written by a scatterbrain so I won’t be citing any sources except, “Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore” by Jennifer Larson.
The Nymphai are first and foremost recognized as minor divinities related to the natural world. Each class of Nymphai is broken down according to their domain and then their parentage. The Fresh-water Nymphs are the Naiades who were the daughters of River theo, and Okeanides were the Nymph daughters of the earth-encircling Protogenoi Okeanos and were the oldest of the Nymphai. The Tree Nymphai are the Dryades, Hamadryades are the Nymphs of the tree’s that belong to a sacred grove and Oreiades are the Nymphai of mountain trees, usually conifers which are trees that instead of baring leafs bare needles like Pine trees and Evergreens. Smaller subdivisions of Dryades are distinguished according to specific trees, for example: The Heliades (Black Poplar Tree) The Meliai (Ash Tree) The Epimiliades (Apple Trees) and so forth. The Sea Nymphai are refered to as the Haliai, they are the Nymphai of the sea shore, the deep sea, the pebbles, fish and things of the sort, fifty of those Haliai were the Nereides, the daughters of the old sea Theo Nereus .There are also many other types of Nymphai which are less talked about such as The Astraiai (Stars), The Anthoussai (Flowers) who were Nymphs affiliated with Dionysos Anthion and The Lampades (Torth-bearers) who were affiliated with Hekate. Something that people don’t tend to grasp very well is where the Nymphai stand between the Theoi and us mortals. The Nymphs as far as lifespan goes, are conditionally immortal, in that they can die if that what they inhabit dies or dries out while if left alone live forever, it’s for this reason that the Theoi and Nymphai punish mortals who destroyed trees, I remember one myth in which Demeter manifests physically in front of a mortal in a huge size to punish him for this transgression. The Nymphai like the Theoi too consume Ambrosia (the food of the Theoi). Plutarch at one point quotes Hesiod in his writing Obsolescence of Oracles: “A chattering crow lives out nine generations of aged men, but a stag’s life is four times a crow’s, and a raven’s life makes three stags old, while the phoenix outlives nine ravens, but we, the rich-haired Nymphs, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder, outlive ten phoenixes.“, this quote is a riddle to express that no one can truly say how long a Nymph can live because of the condition to their immortality. Nymphs for the most part tend to be talked about in groups, though they aren’t limited to being part of a group. Throughout myths and poems there have been Nymphai which have stood out because of their affiliation with one of the Theoi or because they in extraordinary occasions have had a large following. Some well known Nymphai are Daphne a Naiad of the river Peneios who was beloved by Apollon, Kalypso is famed for having detained Oedipus for 7 years, she’s the Nymph of the mythical island Ogygia and daughter of the Titan Atlas, she was said to have been very beautiful. Maia the head of the Pleiades (7 Nymph daughters of Atlas) was the mother of Hermes by Zeus, she’s portrayed as having been shy in character and having resided in a cave in Mt. Kyllene in Arkadia by herself, she was also said to have raised Arkas who founded Arkadia. Erato was a Dryad and wife of Arkas and was said to be a prophetess of the Great Theo Pan. Thetis is my favorite of all the famous Nymphai, she’s the leader of the Nereides and she had the power of prophecy, she was the mother Akhilles and she even had her own cultus as Thetis Soteira (Saviour). For the most part, at least superficially, there is a firm understanding of what a Nymph is, although when looking into the matter at depth, you’ll find quite a few discrepancies. One issue with the title of Nymph, is it’s ambiguity in use, although the main use of the title Nymph is used to describe minor nature Theiai it’s also been used to describe women. The word Nymph outside the realm of religion was used to describe women who were at the age of marriage, which meant young and sexually desirable, these women were given the title of Nymph when she was a bride. The word Nymph was also used to describe older women above the regular age of marriage who were still found sexually desirable, like that of Helen of Troy and Penelope the wife of Oedipus. In certain circumstances queens and some heroines were described as being Nymphs which have puzzled a lot of scholars when it came to understanding myths. Nymphs for the most part had no important function in state religion, the exception to this fact is the following of the Nymphai in rural areas. In rural areas like Arkadia, Nymphs had sacred groves devoted to them, sometimes devoted to a single Nymph and sometimes a group of them. Sacred groves to Nymphs were usually established in caves near fresh green areas, like meadows, moist grass and an abundance of trees or fresh water. The men who established these sacred groves were called Nympholepts, these men were considered have an unusual infatuation with the Nymphai and so they dedicated their time and energy to gardening and maintaining these groves. Famous Nympholepts were Archedemos The Theran who built his grove between Attica and Boiotia, Onesagoras of Cyprus and Pantalkes of Thessaly who built his shrine specifically in Pharsalos. Apart from Nympholepts, there were men who claimed to have gained oracular power through the inspiration of Nymphs and they called this divine inspiration Nympholepsy the men who told these oracles were called Bakis, they were by no means of great importance like that of the Pythia or other oracles who’s prophecies effected political affairs and so forth, the Bakis usually made prophecies about mundane occurrences such as marriage, harvests and other things of the sort. The original Bakis was from Eleon in Boiotia who told oracles from the Corycian cave, his oracles were told in the form of poems in hexameter verse, the second Bakis was named either Aletes or Cydas of Caphyae in Arkadia, he was known for having provided a cure for the women of Sparta who were said to be in a state of madness, there was a third famous Bakis of Athens but nothing is certain about the said person, Bakis later became a title assigned to those who told oracles specifically by the inspiration of the Nymphai. Bakis like the Sibyls were more then one and were spread pretty far apart.