Also referred to as Hellenism or Hellenismos. Ritual performed by members of the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes.Labrys religious community priests during a ritual at the four day festival "PrometheiaModern Hellenic temple built in Thessaloniki.Priest performing ritual.The Twelve Olympians by Monsiau, circa late 18th century.
The religion of Classical Greece was polytheistic, practiced in the area surrounding the Aegean Sea, continuing traditions of the Late Bronze Age Mycenaean period, and from the 4th century BC evolving into Hellenistic religion dominated by mystery religions. Emperor Theodosius I issued edicts outlawing many forms of Hellenistic worship at the close of the 4th century.[dubious – discuss]
The cult practices of the ancient Hellenes extended beyond mainland Greece, to the islands and coasts of Ionia in Asia Minor, to Magna Graecia (Sicily and southern Italy), and to scattered Greek colonies in the Western Mediterranean, such as Massilia (Marseille). The ancient Greek concept of divinity was generally polytheistic. Religious practices varied from place to place, but all Greek peoples recognized the twelve Olympian gods (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Ares, Hephaestus, Athena, Hermes, Demeter, and Hestia or Dionysos). Other gods and heroes were also prominent in Greek mythology.
See also: Sacrifice and Votive offering
The most widespread public act of worship in ancient Greece was sacrifice, whether of grain or the blood sacrifice of animals. Adherents of the various deities sacrificed animals specific to the god or goddesses being worshiped. Sacrifices served multiple functions: one might perform a sacrifice as the culminating act of a public religious festival, before an important undertaking to gain the assistance of the gods, or as part of a rite of passage. The temples of the Greek religion generally were not public gathering places where people gathered socially for collective indoor prayer; most temples held little more than a cult image of the deity and the accumulated votive gifts, which might amount to a treasury.
Votive gifts were offered to the gods by their worshipers. They were often given in thanks for benefits conferred by the gods, in anticipation of future divine favors or to receive oracular advice from the god or goddess. They could also be offered to propitiate the gods for crimes involving blood-guilt, impiety, or the breach of religious customs. They were kept on display in the god's sanctuary and then usually ritually discarded after a set period of time.
Modern Hellenic Polytheists typically perform bloodless sacrifice or meat/bones from animals that have not been killed in situ. Consumable items such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and sweets are offered instead. Religionists make votive offerings in a similar fashion to what we know of the ancient practice.
See also: Polytheism and Greek mythology
In modern terms, the ancient Greeks had nothing which could be called a systematized theology. The art, literature, and even architecture of the time abounded with images and accounts of gods and heroes, and expressed a generally understood symbology. Hesiod's Theogony provides a polytheistic creation myth and a wide-ranging family tree of the Greek gods.
Very late in the history of classical religion, the Neo-Platonists, including the Roman emperor Julian, attempted to organize the classical religions into a systematic belief system, to which they gave the name of Hellênismos: the belief system of the Greeks. Julian also attempted to organize Greek and Hellenistic cults into a hierarchy resembling that which Christianity already possessed. Neither of these efforts succeeded in the limited time available. Finally, the public practice of the Greek religion was made illegal by the Emperor Theodosius I and this was enforced by his successors. The Greek religion, stigmatized as "paganism", the religion of country-folk (pagani) - other scholars suggest the force of paganus was "(mere) civilian" - survived only in rural areas and in forms that were submerged in Christianized rite and ritual.[dubious – discuss]
Modern theology is synthesized from a variety of ancient texts, including but not limited to Sallust's On the Gods and the Cosmos and Hesiod's Works and Days. Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers also contribute to the modern movement's theological base, in addition to scholarship on mystery schools such as the Orphics and Pythagoreans.
Beliefs and practices
See also: Orthopraxy and Ethic of reciprocity
Hellenic polytheists worship the ancient Greek Gods, including the Olympians, nature divinities, underworld deities (Chthonic Gods) and heroes. Both physical and spiritual ancestors are honored. It is primarily a devotional or votive religion, based on the exchange of gifts (offerings) for the gods' blessings. The ethical convictions of modern Hellenic polytheists are often inspired by ancient Greek virtues such as reciprocity, hospitality, self-control and moderation. The Delphic Maxims, Tenets of Solon, the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, or even Aristotle's Ethics each function as complete moral codes that a Hellenic Polytheist may observe. Key to most ethical systems is the idea of kharis (or "charis", grace), or the reciprocity between humanity and the Gods, between individuals, and among community members.[dubious – discuss][need quotation to verify] Another key value in Hellenic Polytheism is eusebeia, often translated as piety. This implies a commitment to the worship of the Hellenic Gods and action to back this up.
There is no central "ecclesia" (church/assembly) or hierarchal clergy, though some groups (i.e., Hellenion) do offer training in that capacity. Individual worshipers are generally expected to perform their own rituals and learn about the religion and the Gods by reference to primary and secondary sources on ancient Greek religion and through personal experience of the Gods. Information gained from such personal experiences is often referred to in Hellenic groups as "UPG" (Unverified Personal Gnosis), a term borrowed from Ásatrú.
Hellenion is an US-based religious organization ("church") dedicated to the revival and practice of Hellenic polytheism. We approach Hellenic religion from the reconstructionist perspective, which includes both an emphasis on historical precedent and respect for personal spiritual inspiration. We offer local congregations, study opportunities, and fellowship for those who worship the Olympians and the other deities of ancient Greece in a traditional way. Our Mission Statement is entitled "What We Mean by Hellenic Pagan Reconstructionism". Read more about what we mean by this on the "About" page.http://www.hellenion.org/
Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Helleneshttp://ysee.gr/index-eng.php
These sites are good resources about the revival of Orphism:http://www.hellenicgods.org/http://orphicplatonism.com/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphism_%28religion%29
Resource about Greek mythology:http://www.theoi.com/
Personally, I have loved ancient Greco-Roman religion and culture ever since I was a young boy. The destruction of this magnificent civilization by the evil Christians is one of the reasons why I hate Christianity so much! They destroyed the beauty of the ancient world, and its knowledge! So I fully support this! However, I think I prefer to honor the Gods in my own way. I'm not a fan of dogmas. But I would love to visit temples and take part in religious ceremonies!