Hellenic Polytheism is a religion that follows and worships the deities of ancient Greece. Other terms often used interchangeably with Hellenic Polytheism are Hellenism, Hellenismos, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Dodekatheism, and Olympianism. However, these terms have slightly different definitions, which will be provided below.
- Hellenism– the study or imitation of ancient Greek culture.
- Hellenismos– (being perhaps the closest term to Hellenic Polytheism) the following of the ancient Greek deities, and infusion of some aspects of their culture into everyday life.
- Hellenic Reconstructionism– the worship of the deities of ancient Greece with special care in accurately recreating the ways in which the ancients did, including celebrating many of the same festivals, and recreating their ritual structure.
- Dodekatheism– refers specifically to the modern/revived practice of worshiping the deities of ancient Greece.
- Olympianism– the worship of ONLY the Olympians, while all other definitions include the inclusion of all deities associated with the pantheon.
This religion is very much based on reciprocity, the exchange of gifts (or offerings) for the Gods’ blessings. Other such revered values are hospitality, self-control, piety, and moderation. Though Hellenic Polytheism does not have a single official religious text (i.e. the Bible), the myths are often read and learned from. Very few people interpret the myths as literal, and instead believe that they are metaphors for various commonalities in the human condition.
Alongside the myths, Hellenic Polytheists may read the Delphic Maxims, a list of rules given to the Seven Sages of Greece by Apollo, and attempt to follow them in their daily life. It should be noted that many of the Maxims are easily seen to be out of date, and there is no religious obligation in following them in the eyes of the majority of Hellenic Polytheists. This will be further discussed under the tab “The Delphic Maxims.”
Given the amount of philosophers present in ancient Greece, it is also common to hold one or more of their philosophies close to ones religious practice as well. The reading of the plays, poems, and other such texts written in this time is often done by Hellenic Polytheists as well, though it isn’t a religious necessity either. In fact, all that one must to in order to be a “good” Hellenic Polytheist is to strengthen ones Arete (virtue), and practice eusebeia, which is piety for the Gods and Goddesses.
It should also be mentioned that this religion is NOT eclectic! All deities worshiped, and the manner in which the worship takes place is HELLENIC. There is no mixing of pantheons, no additions of Asian concepts, none of the picking and grabbing from various cultures and blending it together in the purest form of bastardization that seems to be so common in “new age,” or “neopagan” groups these days.
On a lighter note, Hellenic Polytheism is most commonly practiced as a “hard polytheistic” religion, as opposed to “soft polytheistic.”
- Hard Polytheism– the belief that all deities are distinct and separate entities from one another.
- Soft Polytheism– the belief that all deities are simply different facets of the same, single higher power.
That covers the basics! 🙂 I will now go more in depth in other important parts of Hellenic Polytheism!