Monday, December 16, 2013


This seems like an excellent topic with which to begin.

Hellenism is the religion and culture of the Ancient Greeks. It may be referred to in three basic forms.

Traditional Hellenism is the path as it was once practiced, the way of the ancients, by the ancients. Traditional Hellenism is a dead religion. It was outlawed by the Roman empire in 529. Because of the nature of Traditional Hellenism, requiring the use of centralized temples, and a priesthood handed down from one generation to the next, it cannot be revived in its original form.

Traditional Hellenism was practiced over the course of thousands of years, and may be rightly said to actually consist of numerous religions, flowing into one another. Hellenism changed constantly with the growth of society and the needs of its followers.

Reconstructionist Hellenism is an attempt to follow Hellenic tradition with as much loyalty as possible, based primarily on folklore, written histories and archeological findings. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Traditional Hellenism. It cannot be traditional, because the traditions are observed selectively. No temples, and no priests.

Neo-Hellenism is a term I coined myself for a concept which has occurred spontaneously from several different sources. The essence of Neo-Hellenism is the effort to bring the ancient ways of the Hellenes into the modern world. We strive for what Hellenism could have been if it had continued in an unbroken tradition.

Hellenism was always a living religion. There was no fixed doctrine, the priesthood changed and adapted the practices to modern conventions. It was not uncommon even to add new gods to the pantheon, both as times changed and new influences were present, and to keep peace between the Hellenes and other peoples who joined their society. Many of the Greek gods are from Thrace, Asia Minor and Africa.

In the course of modernization, we have of course done away with public temples, as in the information age they are no longer needed as community centers. We have largely dispensed with sacrifices as well. No one has performed a hecatomb (ritual sacrifice of a hundred head of cattle) since the Roman empire.

A continuous initiated priesthood is no longer possible, so the Neo-Hellenic priesthood is initiated by the gods themselves. A great emphasis is placed on personal gnosis. To be called by a god is to become an apprentice to the priesthood. The priest, then, is one who speaks to one or more of the gods and acts on their behalf. The high priest in turn has dedicated their entire life to their deity, and is devoted to aiding all other followers of the path.

Because of the deeply personal nature of this path, it is left to each follower to find their own truth, to decide for themselves whether or not to acknowledge those who call themselves members of the priesthood, and to take from these people only what they find to be of value. The gods do not require an intermediary, the presence of the priests is for your benefit, not theirs.

All are welcomed, whether you choose to follow the word of the priesthood or not. Not even all of the priests necessarily acknowledge one another; though thus far I have not seen two priests I considered legitimate who did not respect one another. As is common in this age, there are of course some who simply make the claim in order to make themselves feel special.

May you find what you seek,
Katharine Alice Jones

UPDATE 12/18/13:

I am going to answer comments by updating the original post rather than adding a comment, so it won't get lost.

Thank you Bookfloozy. I hadn't been aware of the parallels to Buddhism, I'm glad to know.

There is, at present, no formal organization of our priesthood. Each priest and high priest is initiated by the gods themselves. Which is why we are left to our own devices to judge the legitimacy of each individual claim. I can say that I acknowledge so and so as a priest of whichever deity, but I wasn't actually there for the initiation, and that still leaves you to question whether or not you agree with me.

Our devotional rites and rituals take whatever form we may be guided to follow. As high priestess of Hecate I maintain a permanent shrine in my home. Stay tuned and I'll write an entry on altars and include a photograph. I often meditate and light candles at the shrine, as well as offerings, and it's where a large portion of my spellwork is conducted.

Most of my practice is rather practical. I take walks late at night and explore. Not long ago I was actually stopped by the police for being pagan in a wealthy neighborhood. One of the residents thought I looked suspicious. The officer just wanted to know where I got the awesome black leather riding jacket. He wanted one.

I also consider my work with the sick and homeless, and my activism, to be religious in nature. For me, there is not spiritual and mundane. Everything is spiritual. When I help Hecate's people, I am honoring her. Last month I made an appearance at a local city counsel meeting to support the vote for a bill in favor of domestic partnership, and hosted the first annual observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, in Pensacola.

There are not communal worship practices in place at present, because there are so few of us. At present I'm only in contact with two other devoted Hellenes, and I have met neither one in person.

Mystical practices, however, there are in spades. I do a great deal of spirit work, including necromancy; that is, communication with the dead and spirits associated with death.


  1. An auspicious beginning! I find myself more interested than before. There are similarities in view between this and Buddhism. I am thinking of the instruction the Buddha gave about not automatically believing everything you are taught, but rather to consider it carefully and keep only what resonates and proves true in your own life. I like that. The commitment of a high priest to all others reminds me of the vows of a bodhisattva to not enter into nirvana, but to continue to be reborn until all sentient beings have awakened along with her.

    I am curious about a few things. Does one determine on her own if she is being called to the high priesthood or is she commissioned or whatever by another high priest? Also, are there personal or communal devotional rites such as prayer, chanting, dance or the like? Are there mystical practices? So very interesting. I feel quite lucky to have chanced into meeting someone who holds this knowledge.

  2. thank you so much for the answers to my questions. I continue to be interested and am enjoying your blog posts. May I put you on my blog roll so as to find you on a more regular basis?

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