See my blog entry on Hellenismos by clicking HERE.
Note: The following represents my opinions alone regarding my research of Hellenismos.
1. What is Hellenismos?
Hellenismos is the revival of the worship of the Ancient Greek gods. Please see my blog entry at the link above.
2. Who is Emperor Julian and what is his connection to Hellenismos?
Emperor Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus, a.k.a. Julian, was born in 331 A.D. and became the sole Roman emperor in 361 A.D. Julian was raised Christian. However, he was highly disturbed at the actions of Christians, especially with regard to their intolerance of other faiths, their burning of books and their desecration and destruction of pagan temples. As a result, Julian renounced Christianity. Emperor Julian sought to reestablish traditional Hellenistic religion, which he referred to as "Hellenismos", meaning "The Greek way". He rebuilt temples and sought to remove Christians from all positions of power and influence. Julian primarily fought through the legal system, passing laws and removing special rights that were previously awarded to Christians at the expense of members of other faiths. Two of the most controversial laws passed by Julian were the ending of State-funded stipends that were paid to Christian bishops and the forbidding of Christian teachers to teach pagan texts to their students. Julian correctly realized that Christian teachers were using sacred pagan texts as a tool to influence and convert youth, specifically by bashing or undermining pagan texts while promoting Christian texts as being superior. Additionally, Julian reversed the banishing of heretical Christian leaders and also attempted to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. Julian reigned as emperor less than three years and died in battle in 363 A.D. After his death subsequent Christian rulers reversed all of his laws and dubbed him "Julian the Apostate".
3. Do you worship idols?
No. The gods do no live in their statues or images. Instead, such statues and images, if they are used at all, are merely used as focal points of worship.
4. Do the gods communicate with humans?
Yes. The gods communicate with us mainly through dreams, omens and oracles. They offer us divine inspiration and encourage us to reach our full potential. They also console us in our times of need.
5. Do you have to wear traditional Ancient Greek clothing to worship the gods?
No. You can if you like. There are many organizations that promote such and members of such organizations dress in traditional attire for rituals. However, the gods make no such demands of worshipers.
6. Do I have to be a member of an Hellenismos group in order to worship the Greek gods?
No. Membership in an organization has no bearing on one's ability to worship or venerate the gods.
7. What gods are worshiped in Hellenismos?
The primary gods worshiped in Hellenismos are the twelve great Olympians, with the word great referring to those gods who sit on the twelve thrones on Olympus. The twelve Olympians are:
Zeus -The king of the gods, god of the sky and weather
Hera - The queen of the gods, goddess of marriage, maternity and women
Poseidon - God of the oceans and seas
Demeter - Goddess of agriculture
Athena - Goddess of wisdom, justified war and the arts and crafts
Apollo - God of civilization, rationality, light, prophecy, music, healing and art.
Artemis - Goddess of the hunt, animals and wild nature
Ares - God of war
Aphrodite - Goddess of love, beauty, sex and fertility
Hephaestus - God of blacksmiths, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes
Hermes - Messenger of the gods, god of commerce, trade and communication
Hestia - Goddess of fire, the hearth, home, and architecture
According to some, Hestia willingly gave up her throne to Dionysus, the god of wine, freedom and ecstasy.
In addition to the twelve great Olympian, other gods residing on Olympus, either permanently or temporarily, are also honored. Gods not residing on Olympus are worshiped and these gods are generally grouped together into categories such as; The Primordial gods, the Titans, The Earth gods, The Marine gods, the Chthonic gods, The Daemons, and The Nymphs and Satyrs. In addition, heroes and ancestors are also venerated.
8. Who are the Primordial gods?
The Primordial gods are the elemental gods that arose at creation and which form the very fabric of the Universe. Examples include; Gaia (earth), Ouranos (sky), Nyx (night), Erebus (darkness), etc.
9. Who are the Titans?
The Titans are the offspring of two of the Primordial gods, Gaia (earth) and Ouranos (sky). They are generally said to be twelve in number though they mated with each and produced subsequent generations of Titans. The Titans were the first gods and were overthrown by the coming of the Olympians. The Titans who fought against the Olympians were banished to Tartarus, the Greek version of hell. Those Titans who fought alongside the Olympians were spared and allowed to maintain their positions.
10. Who are the Earth gods?
The Earth gods are the deities of the earth who do not reside on Olympus. They are primarily concerned with the upkeep of nature and the growth and fertility of humans, animals and crops.
11. Who are the Marine gods?
The Marine gods are the gods of the oceans and seas who do not reside on Olympus. They are primarily concerned with the upkeep of the oceans/seas, the creatures that live there, and the protection of those who make their living from the ocean/sea or travel by ocean/sea.
12. Who are the Chthonic gods?
The Chthonic gods are the gods of the underworld who do not reside on Olympus. They are primarily concerned with the upkeep of the underworld and of tending to the dead. They also play a role in the fertility of the earth, humans, and animals.
13. Who are the Daemons?
The Daemons are the spirits that are in-between human and god. The Daemons are usually abstract personifications of the human condition. Some Daemons are mere aspects of other gods and such are sometimes said to be their offspring. The Daemons are generally believed to populate the atmosphere between earth and heaven. Daemons can be good, evil or neutral. They carry the prayers of mortals to the gods as well as carry out their prescribed functions. The names of the daemons generally describe their function. For example, Eros means love, Nike means victory, and Phobus means fear. Some of the Daemons are worshiped as gods. However, most Daemons are not worshiped. In art Daemons are usually portrayed as winged humans. This imagery was used by Christians to portray Angels. Likewise, the name Daemon was used by Christians to refer to fallen Angels, or "Demons".
14. Who are the Nymphs and Satyrs?
The Nymphs and Satyrs are the minor goddesses and gods of nature. The nymphs are the spirits of trees, rocks, springs, pools, lakes, fields, flowers, etc. In art the Nymphs are portrayed as beautiful young women. The Satyrs are part-animal, part-human beings. The Greeks portrayed them as men with horses ears and a tail. The Greeks also portrayed them as having almost constant erections. This symbolizes their role as fertilizers of nature. Beings that are part-goat and part-man are properly referred to as Fauns. By Roman times the term Satyrs and Fauns became indistinguishable. The Nymphs and Satyrs were believed to pass their times frolicking and playing in nature, as well as having almost constant sex with one another. The term "nymphomaniac" stems from the extreme sexual appetite of the nymphs. The Nymphs and Satyrs were also known to abduct beautiful men and women.
15. Who are the Heroes?
The Heroes are the humans, usually demigods (children born of one human parent and one god), who achieved fame and recognition through their acts. Some heroes were transformed into gods.
16. Who are the Ancestors?
The Ancestors are the spirits of deceased loved ones. The spirits of the dead are believed to be beneficial or detrimental to the lives of humans. If they are treated good they bless and protect their families. If they are forgotten or ignored they curse their families.
17. What is the difference between a personal and impersonal god?
The impersonal gods are those gods that are not worshiped and do not answer prayers. The personal gods are the gods that are worshiped and are believed to answer prayers. For example, Zeus is worshiped and is believed to answer prayers. Therefore Zeus is a personal god. The Moirai (Fates), the three goddesses who spin the thread of fate, determining the birth, the events of one's life, and a person's death, do not answer prayers and are not worshiped. Therefore the Moirai are impersonal gods. Other examples of impersonal gods include; The Primeordial gods, most of the Titans, and most of the Daemons. Examples of personal gods include the twelve great Olympians.
18. Do you have to be initiated to practice Hellenismos?
No. No initiation is required.
19. Can I become a priest/priestess?
The role of priest or priestess only has meaning when there are temples in existence. However, various Hellenismos organizations may offer priesthood to members who meet various qualifications. Becoming a priest or priestess is not a decision to make lightly. For example, some goddesses demand celibacy from their priesthood. Most of the priesthood are given taboos, things which they can not do. Taboos can include actions or behavior as well as not eating certain foods.
20. What is the role of temples in Hellenismos?
To the ancient Greeks, temples were the earthly homes, if not but temporary, of the deities. They were places of official public worship. Citizens could go to the temples and worship outside the front of them. However, only the priesthood was allowed to carry out rites within the temple itself. Citizens carried out most of the daily worship of the deities within their homes. If in the future temples are dedicated it may be that they will change to be more like Christian churches, as in places for public worship and congregation.
21. Who is my patron god?
In Hellenismos there is no such concept of a patron god. Cities can have a patron god. The gods can be patrons of particular professions. For example, Hephaestus is the patron god of blacksmiths and metal workers, Hestia is the patron goddess of architects, Ares is the patron god of soldiers, Hermes is the patron god of business owners and shop keepers, Asclepeius is the patron god of those in the field of medicine, and Athena is the patron goddess of weavers. However, there are no examples of patron deities among individuals. What is true is that certain people have been drawn to a god or goddess. Such people may wish to devote their life to said deity and serve them as priest or priestess. Additionally, in mythology a god or goddess may take an interest in a particular person. However, this does not entail a life-long arrangement or relationship. What humans can have is a tutelary spirit or daemon that inspires and protects an individual. Socrates wrote about his daemon that he believed whispered to him advice.
22. What do practitioners of Hellenismos believe about the afterlife?
Traditionally, the Ancient Greeks believed that there is nothing after death and so it was vital that people lived their life to the fullest. The myths of the soul traveling to Hades were realized to be a metaphor for the grave. However, with the rise of the Mystery Religions the belief in the immortality of the soul became popular. Likewise, a belief in a place of reward for good people and a place of punishment for bad people developed. Those people who led good lives and/or were initiated into the mysteries of Demeter were said to go to the Elysian Fields, a paradise in the underworld. Those who were exceptionally wicked or offended the gods went to Tartarus, the Greek version of hell. However, most people who were neither good nor bad went to a form of purgatory called the Asphodel Field, where they wandered in twilight neither finding reward, nor punishment. The Greek philosophers also introduced the concept of reincarnation. Practitioners of Hellenismos are free to believe what they wish with regard to what comes after this life.
23. Do you actually believe the gods are human like beings with powers?
No. The ancient Greeks chose to portray the gods in idealized human forms. However, the gods are not human.
24. Do the gods actually live on Mt. Olympus?
No. The early Ancient Greeks believed the gods lived on Mt. Olympus because it was the highest mountain in Greece and it's peak is often hidden by clouds. However, the Greeks soon changed to believing that Olympus was located in the heavens. The term Olympus now refers to the home of the gods in heaven.
25. What exactly are the gods?
The gods are highly advanced or evolved beings or entities that arose with creation and which rule over nature. They are immortal from our perspective and seek the betterment and evolution of humanity.
26. Is it true that there is only one true god and the rest of the gods are just aspects of the one god?
That belief arose with the Greek philosophers centuries before the coming of Christianity. In fact, the philosophers that believed such were divided into two camps, those that believed that Zeus was the one true god and the rest of the gods were just aspects of Zeus and those that believed all the gods were just aspects of a one true nameless deity. Some scholars speculate that had Christianity not come about that the Greeks would have naturally become monotheists with time. Though there are some who hold to this belief most practitioners are polytheists and believe the gods are distinct entities.
27. How does one worship the gods?
Worship consists of prayer, praise, the recitation or singing of hymns and poetry, the procession of cult images, the making of libations and the giving of offerings.
28. Do you practice animal sacrifice?
No. The ancient Greeks performed animal sacrifice. However, they did so because theirs was a culture without refrigeration and it was a necessity to butcher animals if one wanted to consume meat. The bones, innards and fat of the animal were offered to the deity. The meat was consumed by humans. Even in ancient times there were people who argued against the notion of animal sacrifice. The philosophers taught that the gods do not require such. Worshipers today offer flowers, fruits, vegetables and bread instead.
29. What is a libation?
A libation is an offering of liquid, primarily water, milk, wine, beer, liquor, oil, or honey. It is ritually poured on the ground, on a fire, in the sea, in a river, etc. If done indoors it is poured into a bowl and then the contents of the bowl are ritually discarded.
30. Does Hellenismos believe in the concept of sin?
Not in the fashion of the Abrahamic faiths. Our only major "sin" is that of hubris, or the acting with extreme arrogance and pride with the implication that one is equal to or greater than the gods. To act with hubris is to invite disaster and destruction.
31. What are the morals of Hellenismos?
Practitioners follow the standard morals dictated by modern society as well as focus on piety, hospitality, self-control and moderation.
32. Is Hellenismos an earth-based religion?
Yes and no. Some of our gods rule over aspects of nature. However, others do not and are aspects of the human condition or rule over society.
33. Are you pagan?
The word pagan was originally used as a term of disrespect by Christians. The word actually means "country dweller". The implication is that people who are not Christians are ignorant and backwards. For this reason some practitioners of Hellenismos reject the label. Please remember that the Ancient Greek religion is thousands of years older than Christianity.
34. How do you invoke the gods?
In Hellenismos we do not invoke the gods per say. To invoke the gods implies that one is equal to or greater than the gods, having the ability to summon them. This is hubris. Instead, we invite but not in the traditional sense. Our rituals and prayers are designed to capture the attention of the gods. The notion of invoking a spirit truly stems from ceremonial magic where the magus commands the appearance of the spirit and this mind-set is what is taboo in Hellenismos.
35. Is Hellenismos similar to Wicca?
No. Some Wiccans may worship Greek gods but other than such the two practices are completely different.
36. What does Hellenismos believe with regard to magic and witchcraft?
The practice of magic and witchcraft is a controversial one. Magic was definitely practiced in Ancient Greece. However, it most often took the form of religious magic, that is magic as part of a religious ritual. There were also professional magicians one could seek out who performed spells for a fee. Most people themselves practiced what wold be considered a form of folk magic or more properly referred to as superstition. This was mostly done to ensure luck, blessing, health and protection of the household and to ward off evil. Practitioners of Hellenismos are split with regard to opinions on magic and witchcraft. Some groups and organizations forbid the practice of magic while other tolerate it or accept it.
37. Can I be a member of Hellenismos and be a member of another religion at the same time?
Yes and no. If the other religion allows dual-faith membership then it's okay. However, monotheistic religions and religions that require members to reject all other faiths are not acceptable.
38. How does Hellenismos feel about homosexuals?
Homosexuals are fully accepted in the religion. In fact, in mythology multiple gods have had same-sex lovers. Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Dionysus, Hermes, Heracles, Glaucus, Hymen, Orpheus, and Pan had male lovers. The goddess Artemis may or may not be a lesbian. One of the aspects of Aphrodite, Aphrodite Urania ("Heavenly Aphrodite"), was considered to inspire same-sex love and desire. The god Eros was a patron god of homosexuals.
39. How does Hellenismos feel about transgendered people?
Transgendered people are fully accepted in the religion. In fact, Hermaphroditus, a child of Hermes and Aphrodite, is the god of transgendered and intersexed people.
40. Why do the gods have multiple names?
The gods have multiple names because they have multiple aspects. Each god is like a diamond. Each facet of a diamond would correspond to an aspect of the god. Sometimes a god absorbs another god and takes that god's name as one of his/her aspects. Other times an alternate name is a place that is well known for the worship of such god. Examples include; Phoebus (bright-shining) Apollo, in his role of bringer of light, Aphrodite Philommeides (laughter-loving), in her role as goddess of fun and laughter, Artemis Potnia Theron (mistress of animals), in her role as goddess of wild life, Athena Polias (of the cities), in her role as goddess who protects cities, Demeter Karpophoros (fruit bringer), in her role as goddess of fruit, etc.
41. Does prayer differ in Hellenismos than in other religions?
Yes and no. There are two types of prayer in Hellenismos. The first is informal prayer which is the type of prayer that most people are familiar with. It can be done in any fashion and at any time. The second type of prayer is formal prayer. Formal prayer is done during worship. In formal prayer a person must stand and hold his hands up with palms to the sky when addressing the Olympians or Heavenly gods. When addressing the Earth gods one lowers their arms with palms remaining open and facing forward. When praying to the Chthonic gods one lowers their palms toward the ground. Another difference in prayer is that in Hellenismos it is taught that one should only pray when it is truly needed. One should not pray for trivial concerns. "The gods help those who help themselves" is an apt phrase.
42. Does Hellenismos have a "Bible"?
No. The closest to a concept of a bible would be the works of Homer, Hesiod and other Greek writers who compiled what we now call Greek mythology.
43. Are the myths considered inerrant and sacred like the Bible?
No. The myths are wonderful. They are beautiful. They are ugly, disgusting and misogynistic. It is important to remember that the myths were created and composed by human beings. The authors of the myths were influenced by the morals and expectations of the time period in which they were created. The purpose of the myths is to convey truths of the human condition which were communicated through symbolism and metaphor. However, the myths are not inerrant. The myths can and should be edited to fit modern morals and beliefs. Besides, any student of Greek mythology should know that there is more than one version of a story in mythology. This is because they are inventions of their respective authors. New myths must be created to propel the religion forward.
44. Aren't the gods evil?
No. In mythology the gods were sometimes portrayed as doing evil things. For example, there are accounts of gods performing rape, murder, torture, incest, child molestation, pederasty, hurting humans over petty things and abducting humans. However, mythology was created by human beings and reflects the morals and ethics of the time period in which they were written. These accounts do not reflect negatively on the gods but rather are criticisms against human society and even against the authors of the myths. What is true is that the gods do have a negative side. For example, Zeus who controls the weather can send the gentle rains that grow the crops as well as the torrential flood that drowns people. Likewise, Apollo, the god of light and healing, is also the same god who can send a plague. You can't have one without the other. Every coin has it's opposite side. This does not make the gods evil. It is just the nature of existence.
45. Are the gods demons as taught in Christianity?
No. Worship of the Greek gods is thousands of years older than Christianity. The very word "demon" was taken by the Christians from the Greeks and was used to signify the Christian concept of fallen angels.
46. Didn't the Greeks sacrifice humans to the gods?
Probably. There is actually very little evidence to confirm that the very Ancient Greeks performed human sacrifice. However, tales of sacrifice do occur in mythology. It's probable that such did take place at some point. However, the practice would have quickly been discarded. It was widely believed that the gods detest human sacrifice and punish those who perform such. We do know that human sacrifice occurred in almost every culture from that time period. Hellenismos condemns both human and animal sacrifice.
47. What is the relationship between Hellenismos and the traditional Roman religion? Aren't the Greek and Roman gods the same?
Hellenismos and traditional Roman religion are completely distinct. The Romans were just one of the many cultures who were influenced by Greek religion. The Romans borrowed Greek mythology and applied it to their own gods. There are many differences between the two systems of religion. For example, the Roman gods are not completely equated to the Greek gods. Diana, for example, was originally a sky goddess before she was identified with Artemis. The Romans also prayed and worshiped differently.
48. Is Apollo the god of the sun and Artemis the goddess of the moon?
Yes and no. Toward the later stages of the Hellenistic age, before Christianity rose to power, Apollo was identified with Helios, the original god of the sun, and Artemis was identified
49. What rites or rituals are performed in Hellenismos?
The rites found in Hellenismos are similar to the rites performed in most religions. There are rites concerning the passages of human life, such as birth, adulthood, marriage, and death. There are rites performed in the worship of the gods.
50. Do the gods require offerings?
No. Offerings are made out of love and are tokens of thanksgiving. The gods require nothing from us. We give for our own betterment. The gods love us and will help us even if we give nothing. The state of our spirit and attitude are more important when we approach the gods than anything else.
51. Are the gods just archetypes of the unconscious mind?
Yes and no. Those who believe in Jungian archetypes may chose to believe so. However, most worshipers do not hold such beliefs.
52. Do the gods possess people?
Yes. There are stories of possession by gods in the myths. Normally, the gods who possess worshipers are usually associated with prophecy and ecstatic celebrations, such as Apollo and Dionysus. Such possession is not at all like demonic possession that most people are familiar with.
53. I've been told that Hellenismos is similar to Catholicism. Is this true?
To a certain extent, yes. Processions, rituals, hymns, ritual eating and ingesting of wine, veneration of statues, etc., are all found in both religions. The similarities result from the fact that the Romans who created the Catholic faith were Greek-inspired pagans and used "pagan building blocks" to construct Christianity.
54. Is Hellenismos similar to Voodoo?
To a certain extent, yes. Just as in Voodoo, Santeria and other African Traditional Religions, the gods are believed to have different aspects (called "roads" in African Traditional Religions), to have their own symbols, their own colors, and to possess worshipers. In fact, some African spirits are compared to Greek or Roman gods. For example, the Voodoo spirit Erzulie is sometimes compared to Aphrodite and the Santeria spirit Ochun is often described as "the African Venus". The main difference between the two religions is that in African Traditional Religions the spirits are still offered animal sacrifices.
55. Are there different denominations of Hellenismos?
Yes. Various groups have various opinions and interpretations. Currently, the most popular denomination of Hellenismos are those that embrace the Orphic mysteries. Those who are into reconstructionism, or who embrace a philosophical or a psychological take on the gods can be considered to belong to separate denominations. Additionally, there is traditional and reformed Hellenistic approaches, which is similar to conservative and liberal viewpoints.
56. I would like to join Hellenismos and worship the Greek gods. How do I go about doing this?
One can join an organization or simply begin to practice the religion in their own home.
57. How do I go about setting up a shrine or altar?
In order to set up a shrine or altar one first needs an adequate space, such as a table or shelf. The space should be cleaned thoroughly. An altar cloth, a candle, an incense burner, flower vases, a bowl and a container to hold libations are the standard tools found on the altar. Additionally, statues, images or pictures of the gods may be placed on the altar as well. If one's altar is placed next to a wall one can hang pictures or plaques of the gods on the wall, which will free up a lot of space on the altar. Instead of statues or images, one can also use symbols of the gods. For example, a statue or picture of an eagle may be used to represent Zeus, peacock feathers for Hera, a statue or image of an owl for Athena, a bundle of wheat for Demeter, a plastic bunch of grapes for Dionysus etc. One can also choose not to have any statues, images or symbols as well. The shrine or altar should be made attractive, according to one's personal style. It should be a thing of beauty and something that one is proud of and that which is inviting and conducive to worship. Keep in mind that things such as wands, daggers, crystal balls and other items normally found on Wiccan altars have no place on altars in Hellenismos. Make sure to keep the altar and statues clean.
58. What do I do at the altar?
Pray. Meditate. Worship the gods by making offerings and libations. Use it a source of inspiration. Before going to your altar for worship make sure to cleanse yourself. You can bathe or shower. If nothing else wash your hands and feet if you are wearing open shoes or no shoes at all. Next, light the candle. The flame of the candle represents the hearth and as such symbolizes Hestia. Praise Hestia as you light the candle. Light the incense. Offer praise to the gods, recite to them poetry or hymns to the gods. If nothing else then just talk to them in a respectful manner. If you have urgent needs then ask the gods for help. When offering libations, pour a little bit out into the bowl in honor of Hestia first and then proceed to pour a bit out for the other gods. The last bit of libation is also dedicated to Hestia as well. Offerings of food or other items can then be placed on the alter. Food items can be kept on the alter until the first signs of spoilage. At that point take the food items and place them in a paper sack and then take them out to nature to dispose of. Additionally, one can leave the food items on the altar for only a short time and then take them out to nature. This is especially the case when one wishes for wildlife to consume the offerings. After finishing worship, the libation bowl can then be taken outside and poured on the ground. Any non-food gifts one places on the altar can be kept indefinitely if one so chooses.
59. Can I keep my altar in my bedroom?
This is discouraged. Mainly because the altar attracts the attention of the gods and one may not feel comfortable having sex in the same room that one has one's altar. Traditionally, altars are kept in the main area of the house. However, do as you seem fit.
60. Can I keep a separate altar for the ancestors?
Yes. However, if possible do make sure to visit the graves of loved ones.
61. Is there a calendar of festivals honoring the gods?
Yes. Certain websites have them. For a 2016 calendar click HERE.
62. How can I learn more about the Greek gods?
Visit your local library. Most libraries have a good number of books on Greek mythology. I always considered libraries to be modern day temples to Athena! Also, use the Internet to search for resources on Greek mythology. The website theoi.com is a wonderful place to start your journey.
63. How can I learn more about Hellenismos?
Search the Internet for websites about Hellenismos by clicking HERE. Amazon.com also has books concerning Hellenismos which can be purchased HERE.
64. Is there any truth to the claims made from the show Ancient Aliens, that the gods are simply aliens who visited earth thousands of years ago?
The ancient Greeks had no concept of extraterrestrials as we now do. They had no concept of the existence of other planets, let alone the existence of other solar systems and galaxies. For the ancient Greeks, earth was all there was. So if by chance extraterrestrials did visit and did interact with humans that it is quite possible that they would have been worshiped as gods. However, the question is which came first? Did this alien visitation come first or did the concept of gods came first and the aliens were only mistakenly believed to be gods? The ultimate answer is that we do not know. There is no real proof nor is there any way to obtain any proof. All we can say is that the gods are highly advanced and evolved beings. Whether or not they are extraterrestrials is a mystery that can never be answered.
65. Do the gods really come down to earth and have sex with women and father children with them?
I can tell you that such was a popular belief in the past. In fact, the belief was so wide-spread that it even appears in the Bible, with the "sons of god" mating with mortal women. The children of a god are gods themselves, and so we have the Hebrew version that is likely based upon Greek myth. One can freely choose to believe in the myths or not. I personally believe the myths are metaphorical and use symbolism to communicate to readers.
66. Do the gods walk among us?
It is widely believed that the gods can and do walk the earth in disguise. They are said to take different shapes, sometimes of human beings, other times as animals, plants or inanimate objects. Sometimes they come to check up on us. Other times they come to test and judge us. I'm assuming that quite often they come just for entertainment.
67. Did Hestia really give up her throne to Dionysus?
The belief that Hestia gave up her throne to Dionysus is quite popular. However, it does not appear in any of the actual ancient myths. Some claim that the author/poet Robert Graves invented the story. This would no be the first time that Graves invented something. He invented "the Holly King", which most Wiccans and NeoPagans to this day believe was a real god that people believed in. The problem is that there has never been a concise list of who the twelve Olympians were. Throughout the Hellenistic age different lists of gods were composed. However, the gods most frequently believed to compose the twelve Olympians are; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Hermes, Ares, Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Hestia and/or Dionysus. A considerable argument can be made that Hestia belongs in the 12 as she is a full god, and an important one at that, while Dionysus is a demigod. However, in the long run it doesn't matter as both Hestia and Dionysus are Olympians and are both worshiped.
68. Can human beings become gods?
Yes. According to the myths there are many people who have been transformed into gods. Sometimes it happens after death. Sometimes before death. Sometimes being turned into a god is a reward for bravery and actions they performed in life, such as with many of the heroes, for example. Sometimes a person is turned into a god because they are the lover of a god and/or marry a god. Sometimes a person is turned into a god by a strange accident. The Romans had a habit of proclaiming their Caesars were gods upon their death. Often they claimed the family of the Caesar were gods as well. In at least one occasion an emperor proclaimed his dead male lover was a god. In some of the Mystery Religions it is believed that humans are divine and that not only are our souls immortal but that human beings can evolve to become gods in time. In modern times there are individuals who appear to have become gods in the sense that they have achieved a type of immortality. In fact, these people are practically worshiped. People like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis, Jim Morrison, etc., appear to be divine and hold a special place in the minds of their fans. There are even accounts of people being incarnations of gods or aspects of gods. If this is true then it's easy to make the comparison that Marilyn Monroe was an incarnation of Aphrodite, that James Dean was an incarnation of the trickster Hermes, that Elvis was the incarnation of Apollo, and that Jim Morrison was the incarnation of Dionysus. Just remember that even though some people may become gods that it's considered hubris to go around acting like you are a god, wink-wink.
69. What is a demigod?
A demigod, meaning "half god", is the offspring of a god or goddess and a human. The offspring can either be immortal or mortal. Demigods are usually male though there are some female demigods. Demigods, regardless if they are immmortal or mortal, tend to have special abilities beyong normal humans. The Nephelim in the Bible does in fact refer to demigods. Examples of demigods include; Heracles (Hercules), Dionysus. Perseus, Orpheus, Theseus, Helen of Troy, and Harmonia.
70. What is miasma?
Miasma is a form of contagious pollution or impurity that can bring about bad luck, illness, accidents, disaster, destruction and death, if it is not removed. In modern times we would refer to it as "negative energy". Miasma can be acquired through normal day to day activities because it is considered to be contagious in much the same way that disease is. A person's activities can invoke or create miasma and miasma can be transmuted to one's family, friends and loved ones. Some of the actions that create miasma include;
-Touching a dead body (animal or human)
-Touching or handling spoiled food
-Touching or handling insects or rodents
-Breaking a religious taboo
-A woman who is menstruating
-Touching a woman who is menstruating
-Touching semen, vaginal fluid, blood, sweat, tears, mucous, pus, urine, or feces
-Going to the bathroom
-Being sick or caring for a sick person
-Giving birth or helping to deliver a baby
-Being exposed to a foul smell
-Fighting, arguing, back-biting, or being exposed to it
A person who has acquired miasma can then pass it on to other people they interact with. So even if one should manage not to do any of the things listed above they can still become polluted by interacting with someone who has.
It is because of miasma that worshipers must wash themselves, if nothing more than the hands and feet, when approaching the deities.
Miasma is removed through ritual bathing and cleaning.
71. Can you clarify what hubris is? Is it the same thing as karma?
Hubris is a difficult word to translate into English. In a nutshell, hubris is excessive pride, arrogance and insolence. It is when human beings behave as if they are equal to or greater than the gods. Take the myth of Niobe for example. Niobe was the queen of Thebes. She had 14 children, 7 boys and 7 girls. Niobe, in her arrogance, complained about people who were worshiping Leto, the mother of the gods Apollo and Artemis. Niobe boasted that she was better than Leto and that instead of a temple to Leto the people should build a temple to her and worship her as she had 14 children while Leto only had 2. Apollo heard her and immediately drew his bow. Apollo was the god of light, music, healing and prophecy, but was also the sender of plagues. When a man suddenly dropped dead for no apparent cause it was believed that Apollo shot him with one of his arrows. Apollo drew his bow and shot and killed all 7 of Niobe's sons. Surely, such action would be enough to cause Niobe to repent and beg forgiveness. Nope! Niobe didn't even shed a tear but calmly stated, "Even with the loss of my sons I am still greater than Leto as I have 7 daughters." This time Artemis drew her bow. Like with her brother Apollo, when a woman dropped dead of seemingly unknown causes it was believed that Artemis shot her with her bow. She let loose 6 arrows and killed 6 of Niobe's daughters. It was only when Niobe looked down at the face of her youngest daughter that Niobe began to weep. She begged Artemis to spare her youngest daughter but it was too late. The arrow was already in mid-air. The poor girl was struck and collapsed in the arms of her mother. Niobe fell to her knees and wept uncontrollably. The gods took pity on Niobe and transformed her and the bodies of her slain children into stone. They became a cliff with a small waterfall, symbolizing Niobe's tears.
The Greek myths are filled with countless tales of human hubris that ultimately brought disaster. Here are a few more:
-When Phaethon, the son of the sun god Helios, was allowed one wish by his father he foolishly chose to be allowed to drive his father's chariot through the sky for one day. His father pleaded with him to chose something else as Phaethon, though a demigod, was mortal and could not possibly controls the divine horses of his chariot. Phaethon would not listen. As expected he could not control the horses and he almost destroyed the earth. Zeus was forced to kill him with a lightning bolt in order to prevent him from scorching the earth.
-When Narcissus rejected all lovers, female or male, mortal or divine, because he believed nobody equaled his beauty, and especially when a male youth killed himself because Narcissus cruelly rejected him, Narcissus' hubris resulted in him being cursed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He didn't eat or drink as a result and died and was transformed into the flower that bears his name.
-In the Odyssey, Odysseus and his crew successfully escape the cyclops Polyphemus by blinding him. However, as they are escaping, Odysseus' huge ego causes him to shout out his name to the cyclops so that Polyphemus knows the identity of who it was who defeated him. Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon. So naturally he turned to his father and asked for revenge. As punishment, Poseidon made what should have been a relatively quick journey back home last 10 years instead.
-Arachne was a very skilled and beautiful weaver. She was obsessed with weaving and spent most of every day creating beautiful items. She was quite well known for her talent and was sought after for her work. However, she was also very foolish. Arachne boasted that her weaving skills were better than the goddess Athena. She even dared challenge the goddess to a weaving contest. Athena heard her boast and disguised herself as an old woman and struck up a conversation with her. Athena, in disguise, reminded her that Athena was a goddess and that she was a mere mortal. She also reminded Arachne that perhaps her skill at weaving was a blessing from Athena. She asked Arachne to take back her words lest she offend the goddess. Arachne refused. Athena revealed her true identity and accepted her challenge. Athena created a tapestry portraying scenes of mortal hubris. Arachne created a tapestry showing Zeus committing adultry. Athena won but was so angry that Arachne dared to chose such an offense subject matter that she tore Arachne's tapestry to shreds. Arachne fled in tears and was so distraught upon losing that she hung herself. When Athena found her body she took pity on the woman and transformed her into a spider so that she could continue weaving.
The moral of these tales is that it is vital for humans to know their place. Humans are fragile, mortal beings that live for just a brief time on this earth. Most of what humans may take for granted are in fact blessings from the gods.
Is hubris the same as karma? No. In karma, there is no deity that hands out rewards or punishment. In Greek religion there is. Any god or goddess can punish hubris. However, the goddess Nemesis has as her special function the punishment of hubris for she is the personification of divine retribution and vengeance. Nemesis, though technically a daemon, is portrayed as a winged woman, dark in features, and carrying her symbols, a measuring rod, scales, sword and whip. No mortal can escape her punishment.
72. What are the Mystery Religions?
In traditional Greek religion there was no concept of an afterlife. Death was the end. In time various cults arose that promised hope for an afterlife. Unlike traditional Greek religion, these cults required initiation. These cults were named "mystery religions" because they made their initiates swear oaths of silence, promising never to divulge the secrets they learned during the initiation ritual. There were multiple mystery religions. However, the two primarily Greek mystery religions were the Eleusinian mysteries and the Orphic mysteries. The Eleusinian mysteries revolved around the worship of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, and her daughter Persephone. The Eleusinian mysteries dealt with Persephone's abduction to the underworld and her eventual return to the earth. The Orphic mysteries revolved around the worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, freedom and ecstasy. Both cults promised a better afterlife for initiates. In the Eleusinian mysteries, initiates were believed to travel upon death to the Elysian Fields, a paradise located in the underworld. The Orphic mysteries taught a doctrine of reincarnation, mainly that humans were trapped in an endless cycle of reincarnation, being forced to forget their previous lives upon each new rebirth. Initiates of the Orphic mysteries were taught secret information that they believed was given to them by Orpheus that would stop them from being reincarnated and allow them to become gods. The central character of the religion was Dionysus who acts as a savior figure and ultimate source of this information. In addition to possessing secret information, the initiates of mystery religions believed that the myths were written in a type of code. Those who were non-initiates and who did not know the proper way to unlock the secrets of the myths believed only in the literal reading of the myths. Initiates of the mystery religions believed they possessed the secret keys needed to unlock and gain access to the true meaning of the myths.
73. What are the Fortunate Isles?
The Fortunate Isles, a.k.a. the Isles/Land of the Blessed, is a destination in the afterlife that certain Greeks believed in. It was believed to be composed of two islands at the ends of the earth in the far west. Some Greeks believed they were identical to the Elysian Fields. However, it was generally believed that they were separate from the Elysian Fields. Unlike the Elysian Fields, the Land of the Blessed was said to exist on the earth and not in the underworld. Not everyone could go to the Land of the Blessed. Originally it was believed that only heroes and those beloved of the gods could go there. In time it was believed that anyone could end up there are long as they met the requirement of having been reincarnated three times in succession upon the earth while living a good enough life to go to the Elysian Fields after each death. The Land of the Blessed was generally believed to be a paradise where there was no winter.
74. I'm concerned about the use of the word "rape" that appears frequently in the Greek myths. What is your opinion on such?
There is legitimate rape portrayed in the myths. However, the word rape originally meant abduction. So the phrase, "The rape of Persephone", really means the abduction of Persephone. This said, I can not stress that the myths are a product of their age. Greek culture was highly patriarchal. The myths were written by human beings who were products of their times.
75. Do you believe the gods actually eat or drink the offerings given to them?
There are various opinions on such. Here are a few:
-Not physically as humans would eat food but rather they absorb the life force of the offerings.
In mythology their are conflicting accounts. There are some stories of the gods dining with mortals and then there are stories that claim that the gods do not partake of human food but rather eat only the food of the divine. The food of the gods is called ambrosia and the drink of the gods is called nectar.
76. What is ichor?
Ichor is the blood of the gods. It is described as being a golden color, the same color that the drink of the gods, nectar, is said to be. If you Google ichor you might read from multiple websites that claim ichor is supposedly poisonous to humans. There is nothing in the myths to back up such claim. What is interesting is the color. Human plasma, the liquid part of the blood devoid of the red blood cells, is a golden color. So I often wonder if the Greeks somehow knew about blood plasma.
77. Is Hades the Greek Satan?
No. Hades is god of the underworld, where the dead go. The underworld began to be called the house of Hades and then this was shortened to just Hades instead. So the land of the dead is ruled by Hades and it's also called Hades as well. It's easy for people to equate the underworld with the Christian concept of hell and thus equate Hades with Satan. However, Hades is not evil, nor does he think of ill of humans or try to tempt them into lives of evil. Hades is imply "Zeus of the Underworld", just as Zeus rules the land of the living, Hades is boss in the underworld. Interestingly, Hades did inspire some of the imagery associated with the Devil. Hades carried a bident, a two-pronged fork, which was his weapon of choice. Zeus carried a lightning bolt and Poseidon carried a trident, a three-pronged fork. For some reason people confused a bident with a trident and thus portrayed Satan as carrying one. The underworld is not a place of torment. The underworld is divided into three main sections, the Elysian Fields, the Greek concept of heaven or paradise, the Asphodel Plain, the Greek concept of purgatory, and Tartarus, the Greek version of hell. Only the worst of the worst, those who greatly offended the gods, went to Tartarus. Tartarus is where the Titans who fought against the Olympians as well as the enemies of the gods were imprisoned. The overwhelming majority of people went to the Asphodel Plain where they wandered in perpetual twilight with no memory of their past lives and no hope of any happiness. However, they denizens of the Asphodel Plain were not punished for their sins in life. Paradise, or the Elysian fields, was reserved for the beloved of the gods, the lovers, heroes, children, and those who were initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries went after death.
78. Where the Greek gods omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent as the God of the Bible is believed to be?
No. The Greek gods are far more advanced and powerful beings than humans but they are not all-powerful, all-knowing or all-present.
79. If the gods are not perfect then why should they be worshiped?
The ancients and believers today worship(ed) the gods for a variety of reasons. Some find the religion to be beautiful. Many believers feel they have "come home" when they discover the religion. May believers discovered Greek mythology as children and fell in love with it. Many of the ancient philosophers struggled with this same question. Two things to think about is that the myths were created by human beings. Therefore, they represent only the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect upon the true nature of the gods. Second, we live in an imperfect world. It is very hard to rationalize how an alleged perfect god could give rise to an imperfect creation. From a philosophical viewpoint a perfect god can only create perfection. It can not even create something that could possibly become imperfect. The believe in the existence of multiple gods can better explain why we live in an imperfect universe. If we understand that the gods, though extremely powerful, argue, fight and war with one another the same as humans do with each other, then we can understand how such could give rise to a world similar to the one we live in. Now, most modern worshipers full believe that the gods love humans. We are their children. The accepted belief is that the gods wish the advancement of the human race so that we can one day take our place along side them. In the mean time, we are mortal and fragile and require their assistance. I should add that just because people of a religion believe that their god is all powerful, all knowing or present everywhere doesn't make it so. That's just what they chose to believe. At least practitioners of Hellenismos are honest.
80. What is interpretaio graeca?
Interpretatio graeca, with regard to deities, is the comparing and equating of foreign gods as being identical to Greek gods. The claim is that people from other nations, cultures and religions, worshiped the same deities as the Greeks did but just called them different names. For example, the Egyptian goddess Bast was equated with Artemis, the goddess Hathor with Aphrodite, the goddess Isis with Demeter, Aphrodite and Hecate, and Osiris with Hades and Dionysus. A similar term is interpretatio romana, when performed by the Romans. The Romans were especially fond of the practice. For example, they equated almost every single Celtic god with a god of the Greco-Roman pantheon. For example, almost every single Celtic male god associated with healing was believed to be an aspect of Apollo. Thus we have names such as, Granus-Apollo, Belenus-Apollo, etc. Celtic male war gods tended to be identified with Mars, while female ones were identified with Minerva. The Romans were so efficient that when they conquered Gaul that they completely transformed the native religion into a Roman-Celitic hybrid version. Whether or not a practitioner of Hellenismos wishes to take part in such activity is up to him or her. Some accept it while others would frown on it. Just an FYI, Yahweh, the god of the Bible, was identified and equated with Cronus/Saturn.
81. Why did the Greek always seem to portray men as naked? Most females in Greek art appear to be clothed but men are always naked.
The ancient Classical Greeks idealized the human male form as being the epitome of beauty. Their representation of humans, male or female, were not realistic representations. They were ideal representations, as in the perfect male body, the perfect female body. Also, every culture has their own rules with regard to what is and is not permissible. Male nudity was not controversial at all in Greek society. Men swam nude. They exercised nude. They played sports nude. The sighting of a nude man in public would have been no more shocking as seeing a shirtless man in today's society. In today's society a man going shirtless is considered normal behavior. What was not permissible in ancient Greek society was for men to expose the head of their penises. Greek men were uncircumcised, meaning their foreskin remained intact. In uncircumcised men, the head of the penis is only exposed when the man is sexually aroused and has an erection. During an erection the foreskin retracts, exposing the engorged, often red, head of the penis. That was a no-no. In fact, athletes would tie their foreskins closed with string in an attempt to prevent the head of their penises from accidentally being exposed. The thought is that nudity is not associated with sexuality and so it is perfectly fine. However, the exposing of the head of the penis is clearly associated with sexuality and so it is taboo. Here's an interesting tid bit of trivial. The ancient Greeks believed the ideal penis size was small. Therefore, they portrayed nude men as having relatively small genitalia because that was their ideal of what male beauty was. So if you have ever wondered why all these Greek beefcakes were portrayed as having tinymeat then that's your answer. In real life men would have had the normal range off penis sizes ranging from small to large. With females, there was no taboo about exposed breasts. The exposing of breasts was considered to be associated with female youth and also motherhood. However, mature women tended to always be portrayed as fully clothed. Figures and statues of Aphrodite, being the goddess of love, beauty and sex are usually nude or semi-nude, befitting her character. Statues of bathing women would also be fully nude as well as statues of men exercising. Another thing to keep in mind with regard to male nudity in Greek art is that much of it is homoerotic in nature. This is not a coincidence. It was the standard belief at this time that men could only truly love other men. Marriage was mostly a social-economic contract. Men were free to engage in same-sex desires on the side as long as they followed certain rules.
82. How did homosexuality operate in Greek society and how does this differ among modern members of Hellenismos?
In most of the ancient world there was no concept of gay or lesbian. Everyone was expected to marry because people didn't marry for love. Marriage was a socio-economic contract and duty. It was a requirement of being an adult man to marry and have offspring, even if said man preferred to have sex with other men. Being married did not hinder or stop a man from pursuing sex with women or men on the side. However, with male homosexuality there were certain rules that had to be followed. The basic practice of homosexuality in ancient Greece and most of the ancient world was what is called pederasty. In pederasty an adult man would be in a romantic and sexual relationship with an adolescent boy, usually between the ages of 12-17 years of age and sometimes older. It was the responsibility of the older man to embrace the younger boy and teach him how to be a man in Greek society. Sex did take place between the couple. However, penetration, either oral or anal, was not allowed. Instead of penetration, masturbation and form of sex called intercrural sex took place. Intercrural sex is when a man places his penis between the thighs of his lover and thrusts until orgasm. Oral and anal penetration was not accepted because the passive partner was perceived to be acting like woman, thus breaking the male gender role. This said, in pederastic relationships with slaves or male prostitutes, oral and anal penetration was acceptable because slaves were considered property and male prostitutes had no high moral reputation that needed to be protected. In the rare cases that two adult men were caught having oral or anal sex, the active partner, the one doing the penetrating, suffered no consequences as being the penetrator was considered proper behavior for the male gender role. The adult man who allowed himself to be penetrated, orally or anally, often suffered greatly through public shaming or worse, with potential exile and death being potential consequences. Being caught with a boy younger than 12 years of age was considered taboo as well. Pederasty was a fully accepted institution in ancient Greek life. Perhaps the hardest thing for modern people to understood is that perderasty was considered normal. In fact, if an adult man didn't show an interest in a sexual relationship with an attractive adolescent boy then the adult man was often looked at with suspicion, as if there was something wrong with him. Even more shocking, pederastic relationships took place with the full support of the boy's father. In fact, it was common for a father to throw his son a party in which several older suitors were invited to compete for the boy's affections. The boy would then be made to chose which man he would take on as "mentor". In modern Hellenismos, members reject the practice of pederasty as such is considered illegal in today's society if the boy is younger than the age of consent. The age of consent ranges from 16 years of age to 18 years of age in most states in the U.S. It is very common among modern homosexual men to form relationships where one partners is considerably older than the other. However, the young partners is almost always a legal adult, usually ranging from 18 years of age into their early 20s with his lover being in his late 30s to 50s'. These relationships are referred to as "daddy-son relationships". The younger gay man may refer to the his older lover as his "sugar daddy". Other than the rejection of pederasty, modern members of Hellenismos no longer subscribe to the belief that a man can not be penetrated or risk being shamed or worse. Gay men, as well as lesbians, are fully accepted into the religion with no rules concerning what is proper behavior for male and female gender roles being enforced.
83. Were the Greeks originally a matriarchal society who worshiped an all-powerful female Mother Goddess who was then fragmented into less powerful goddesses and then subjugated to male deities?
No. This is a popular belief among multiple people, especially those in the Wiccan and Neopagan circles. However, there is no archaeological evidence to support "The Great Mother Goddess" theory. Instead, this is a prime example of the belief that if you repeat a lie long enough that people will begin to believe it.
84. Do you believe the Greek myths contain secret information that only those in the know are able to decipher?
Yes. The meaning of myths is multi-layered. Most people only can discern the surface meaning from a literal interpretation. However, once a person understands how to properly decipher the myths a great number of secrets are revealed, some of them can be quite comical. For example, Zeus had sex with a mortal woman named Semele. Zeus' wife Hera found out and was livid. So Hera went to Semele disguised an old woman an told her that the man she had sex with most likely is lying by claiming he was Zeus. Hera told Semele that the only way she can be sure is if she can get Zeus to promise to her an oath on the river Styx that he will grant her whatever wish she desires and then to wish that he reveal to her himself in all of his true glory. So Semele used all of her female powers of persuasion to do just that. She got Zeus to swear on the river Styx that he would grant her one wish. Now, when a god swore on the river Styx he or she can not break the oath. They must keep their promise. So Semele said her wish was for Zeus to reveal himself in his full glory to her. Zeus was forced to obey. Zeus revealed his true form and Semele was instantly consumed in fire. Zeus knew Semele was pregnant so he rescued the fetus from her wound and then sewed it up in his own thigh. He then later gave birth to the god Dionysus. Now, the secret gem in this myth is that Zeus sewed the fetus in his thigh. The thighs were the location in which Greek men had sex with one another in what was called intercrural sex. One man would place his penis between the thighs of his male lover and then thrust until he achieved orgasm. So by having Dionysus gestate and be born from Zeus thigh is a secret nod to homosexuality. This is not a coincidence. Dionysus is connected to homosexuality in myth and was also said to either be a hermaphrodite or be an effeminate, as well as beautiful youth. The Greek mystery cults of the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Orphic Mysteries also taught that the myths contained secret knowledge that only initiates were given the keys to be able to unlock the true meaning.
85. So what was the purpose of the Mystery Religions?
In the Eleusinian Mysteries the purpose was to end up in the Elysian Fields, or the Greek version of paradise, after death. In the Orphic Mysteries the purpose was to break the cycle of reincarnation and become a god.
86. If a member of Hellenismos wants to perform animal sacrifice, can they?
Yes, as long as it's done properly. The ancient Greeks were practical people and the animals they sacrificed were eaten by worshipers. In fact, for most poor people the meat from sacrifices was the only meat they ever ate. For people who butcher their own animals for food, such animals can be offered to the deities at the time of slaughter. The meat would then be eaten and the blood, bones and fat can be offered up to the gods. However, modern day members of the Orphic mysteries as well as those members who follow the teachings of Pythagoras, or those who are vegetarians do not perform animal sacrifice. It is not necessary in the religion. The gods do not demand the spilling of blood.
87. What are the requirements for the type of animal offered in sacrifice?
The animal must be unblemished. The animal must be a particular color, depending upon the deity it is being offered to. The animal must be a willing victim, meaning that it can't fight or resist in any way. If the animal is being led to slaughter and it resists, refuses to go forward, tries to escape, etc., it can not be used. Only calm, docile animals that go willingly can be sacrificed. The animal must be sprinkled with water and barley to cleanse it and make it holy. The animal must be killed in a humane way with as little pain as possible.
88. Why do member of the Orphic Mysteries reject animal sacrifice?
Because they believe that animals are our brethren and that they could have once been people in past lives. The believe that the soul migrates from body to body, including all forms of animal life, during the process of reincarnation. Vegetarianism is strongly advised for members of the mysteries.
89. What is the relationship between the gods and the planets of the solar system?
The ancient Greeks knew of 5 planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They considered the Sun and the Moon to be planets as well, bringing the total to 7. For the Greeks the planets were "wandering stars". It was the Greeks who associated these "wandering stars" to the Gods and modern astronomers have kept the tradition alive by naming celestial bodies after gods of mythology. At first Greek and Roman mythology was used. However, today the mythologies of any culture is open for use in naming a newly discovered celestial body.