Ancient Greek Religion

Ancient Greek Religion,the BBC interviews

Basic Principles
Hot Religious Topics
The BBC interviews
of Dr. Pan. Marinis
President of the Societas Hellenica Antiquariorum
and the Committee for the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon.

What does your Group believe in?

We are the adherents to the Ancient greek Religion of Dodecatheon,that means 12 Gods. This is the traditional-patrimonial religion of the Greeks, the illustrious religion of the Classical Era. Our religion managed to survive and, despite the cruel and ruthless persecutions, to transfer itself through generations, thus succeeding to keep our sacred oral tradition intact up to the present day.
Now, what do we believe:
In the study of History the intelligible units, as Arnold Toynbee says, are the Civilizations and their religions are the sum total of their value systems. So the Hellenic Religion is really the religious corpus that embodies the values of Hellenic Civilization which are also, thanks to the Rennaisance, the values of our own Western Civilization.
The Hellenic Religion belongs to the category of primary, traditional religions, like Hinduism, whose basic theoretic principles are closely related to one another.

The natural system of the Cosmos is composed of all that exists; conversely, it perpetually produces all that exists. The Cosmos is self-generated, of the the whole of its substance, it is the father of itself, has no beginning and no end. Nothing exists out of the natural system of the Cosmos. Any extra-Cosmic God and creator residing out of the whole of the Cosmic Order-of-Law do not exist.

Above the system that contains the order of mortal species, exist the Higher Worlds of the Gods. The Gods share the same constituence and are kin to all other beings. They are individualities, without mortal component. They possess personnalities, and their consciences are of a higher than human order, which also applies to the potential of their minds, as well.

Every Man possesses a particular and personal Soul. Man evolves through a protracted course of  reincarnations, the end of which is the development of Higher Conscience.

Holiness of the Cosmos is self-evident and absolute. It is the duty of Man, being a simple but self-conscious member of the natural setting as a whole, to respect the Cosmos.
The ethical code of the Hellenic Religion is consequential to the Natural Law, that dictates the way of understanding of the Good; practising of the Good is mandatory for the evolution of Man. Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, compliance with the Law are also mandatory for the well being, the progress and the harmonious development of Man and Society. Respect of each personnality is a very important part of ethical behavior; it guarantees the development of solidarity among citizens and the observance of human rights. Equality of the two genders, male and female, is based on theological grounds, is recognized by all, and stands in the religious hierarchy and ceremonial practice as well.


How important is the Acropolis and the Parthenon to you and your group? Do you regard them as Holy Sites?

Of course, some Hellenic locations constitute our Holy Sites as these are specially sacred, because of their traditional connection with epiphany of the Gods and because they were so recognized by the Panhellenic Society of antiquity; one of them is the Sacred Temenos of the Acropolis of Athens. Inside this Sacred precinct there are the Most Holy Temples of Goddess Athena (Parthenon), of God Poseidon and Hero Erechtheus (Erechtheon), etc.

How do you worship your Gods?

We have a lot of ceremonies for different occasions: private, as marriage, name giving, etc and public ones. Our public Ceremonies are related to Cosmic Rythm, are not merely commemorative, amongs them are the Full Moon and Equinoxes-Solstices Ceremonies and ancient Feasts in simplified form.
The Divine Worship in these ceremonies consists of Hymn recitation and singing, various, incense, panspermia (dried fruits) etc.. libations, invocations, prayers, readings from our Ethical Books etc.
Please note, that we have the finest possible Prayer book, the «Orphic Hymns», the Masterpiece of Classical religious poetry. For the English speaking people there exists the really inspired translation of Thomas Taylor, the illustrious philosopher and classical scholar.
We also have the most revered worldwide ethical books: the «Nicomachean Ethics» of Aristotle, the «Meditations» of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and so on.

How does Greek Society respond to you?

We are actually members of the Greek Society, we are not foreigners! In the Greek Society we are not alone adhering to Greek Classical Heritage! There is actually a number of cocentric circles of admirers of the values of the Greek Religion and also a general respect of the Classical tradition in spite of the obligatory, brainwashing quality catechesis in schools, in the public institutions, in the armed forces etc that has as central aim to denigrate our Hellenic Civilization.
How the others see us: With respect, because we have the courage to publicly declare that we adhere to our Classical tradition being not «Christian Orthodox»… In Greece one needs a lot of courage to demand ones religious freedom, as the Eastern Orthodox Church is a ‘State-Enforced religion’. The State makes it amply clear to every citizen that if one is not a Christian Orthodox, he is not in compliance with the law and could be therefore subject to consequences!! Unfortunately, our friends in Europe or America living in open societies cannot understand what is meant when people say that «the land is governed by the Orthodox Bishops»! They can not imagine that there is in the midst of the European Union a theocratic state!

How are you persuading the Greek State to recognise your faith system and to give you a place of worship?

Unfortunately, the establishment of the modern Greek State in 1825 did not lead to religious freedom in Greece. On the contrary, the Eastern Orthodox Church tried in every way possible to bring about our extinction. We were the victims of an illegal, systematic and forced conversion effort and our communities in mid-mainland Greece were harshly persecuted. At long last, we decided to legally demand our Human rights, when in 1997 the Greek State validated the UN General Assembly's declaration concerning Human Rights! All this, however, was a false hope!
The Greek State by its laws divides its citizens into two categories as far as religion is concerned. To those who believe in Eastern Orthodoxy, who are afforded the right of religious freedom; and those of other faiths, denominations or creeds to whom the Right of Religious Freedom is denied. This latter group is afforded the right to "holy worship" only.
However, the Greek Government does not even enforce existing laws and illegally and arbitrarily and against the law and the Constitution, and ignoring its own signature of approval on all Human Rights International Agreements, deprives certain Greek citizens the Right of Religious Freedom, totally. It goes as far as to disallow even the right to "holy worship", as is the case with our own petition for an official Place of Worship that has not been approved, even though three years have passed!!!
Thus, bearing in mind the seriousness of the following accusations, we categorically denounce Greece as a country in which Human Rights are not well protected, as the FIRST Human Right, the right to religious freedom is not equally afforded to all citizens of Greece!
The above are not our own views, alone. It is a well known fact that the European Human Rights Court is continuously handing down convictions of Greece, concerning freedom of religion matters.
Thus, having exhausted all of our requests, petitions and appeals with the Greek authorities; we now turn to international public and call on them to morally stigmatize and condemn the hostile attitude of the Greek Government towards Human Religious Rights. In the hope that international pressure will come to bear and force the Greek Government to respect, at last, the Greek Constitution and its signature affixed on International Human Rights Agreements.

How can your group survive?

Long centuries of Persecution had made us to develop survival tecniques! Indeed, we managed to survive through the centuries, despite the well known persecutions against us based on the Justinian Code, which directed that we be put to death by torture, using metallic objects. We have survived Byzantium and the Eastern Orthodox Millet of Ottoman Empire and, also, the hard persecutions by the Greek State of the 19th and 20th century. And this is a message to the Greek Government: We shall not retreat from our Religious Faith now!

The Olympic Games is your Major Religious Festival. What do you think about the Olympic Games in 2004?
Are you concerned that the Games are tainting and commercialising your religion?

We are actually the progenitors of the modern Olympic Games. In the very short interval of Religious Freedom in the Ionian Islands during the French Occupation (1796-98) the Club of Jacobins of Cephalonia,which's continuation is our own group, declared the reinstitution of the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon and the Revival of the Olympic Games. That declaration made quite a sensation in France and started a movement that resulted in the Revival of the Games by Baron Pierre de Couberten!
We think that commercialisation is something unavoidable with the present gigantic proportions that the Games have acquired, we are not against the Games as they are today. We think that they positively diseminate the Classical Values of Athletics!
But there is a dark side in Athens Olympics!
The "Athens 2004" organization circulated a cartoon-mascot with the names "Phoebus" and "Athena", which
Insults the ancient Hellenic civilization brutally, as well as its cultural values which are part of the world cultural heritage and which, of course, are honored by the "Olympic Games", and its form is an actual mockery of the essence of the Hellenic Civilization itself, which is the classical sense of beauty.
Insults, also, the spiritual and cultural values represented by the names "Phoebus" and "Athena", which are high spiritual standards revered worldwide, studies of which are continuously made by the international philosophical and philological academic community.
And presents holy personalities as cartoons or caricatures, an action that is in itself an offense punished by Penal Code.
The "Athens 2004" organization makes us conclude that this situation we protest against is deceitful, with the real intention of realizing the impossible: To actually mock the spiritual values of the Hellenic Civilization by degrading these same holy personalities that were revered during the ancient Olympic Games.
For these reasons we have proceeded to legal action demanding the punishment of those responsible. There was a first hearing of our case in court and now we are waiting for the next stage of the proceedings.


of Dr. Pan. Marinis
President of the Societas Hellenica Antiquariorum
and the Committee for the Greek Religion of Dodecatheon.

Can you explain the Hymn which was just sung to Aphrodite?

It is the renown Orphic Hymn and there is a very fine translation of it in English by Thomas Taylor:

Heav'nly, illustrious, laughter-loving queen,
Sea-born, night-loving, of an awful mien ;
Crafty, from whom necessity first came,
Producing, nightly, all-connecting dame :
'Tis thine the world with harmony to join,
For all things spring from thee, O pow'r divine.
The triple Fates are rul'd by thy decree,
And all productions yield alike to thee :
Whate'er the heav'ns, encircling all contain,
Earth fruit producing, and the stormy main,
Thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod,
Awful attendant of the brumal God :
Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight,
Mother of Loves, whom banquetings delight ;
Source of persuasion, secret, fav'ring queen,
Illustrious born, apparent and unseen :
Spousal, lupercal, and to men inclin'd,
Prolific, most-desir'd, life-giving, kind :
Great sceptre-bearer of the Gods, 'tis thine,
Mortals in necessary bands to join ;
And ev'ry tribe of savage monsters dire
In magic chains to bind, thro' mad desire.
Come, Cyprus-born, and to my pray'r incline,
whether exalted in the heav'ns you shine,
Or pleas'd in Syria's temple to preside,
or o'er th' Egyptian plains thy car to guide,
Fashion'd of gold ; and near iys sacred flood,
Fertile and fam'd to fix thy blest abode ;
or if rejoicing in the azure shores,
Near where the sea with foaming billows roars,
The circling choirs of mortals, thy delight,
Or beauteous nymphs, with eyes cerulean bright,
Pleas'd by the dusty banks renown'd of old,
To drive thy rapid, two-yok'd car of gold ;
Or if in Cyprus with thy mother fair,
Where married females praise thee ev'ry year,
And beauteous virgins in the chorus join,
Adonis pure to sing and thee divine ;
Come, allâttractive to my pray'r inclin'd,
For thee, I call, with holy, reverent mind


Why is it important to worship not just Gods, but Goddesses?

The polarity of Male-Female is embeded into the very substance of the Cosmos from the begining, as the reaction between the two Cosmogonic Substances is the mechanism of Cosmogony. The Female Particulate Substance that gives birth to the particles of matter, the Field of Space of the contemporary Physics, and the Male Continuous Substance, the primordial electromagnetic radiation of today, that gives the energy that makes the particles real. These two substances are symbolised in the Greek Mythology by the Cosmogonical God Zeus and the Cosmogonical Goddess Hera.
The Greek Religion, as a truly traditional religion, exalts the Rythm of Nature which is based on the union of male and female! This is mirrored in our Holy Trinities which pay due honor to family values: a God, a Goddess and their offspring! For example, Zeus, Hera amd Vulcan, something like the Hindu ones, for example, Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha!
Our Basic Principles text declares: «equality of the two genders, male and female, is based on theological grounds, is recognized by all, and stands in the religious hierarchy and ceremonial practice as well».
Indeed, according to the Greek Worldvision the Natural Law is divided into 12 branches, 6 concerning laws of the Continuus Substance presided over by 6 male Gods and 6 concerning laws of the Particulate Substance presided over by 6 female Goddesses. So in the Dodecatheon, the main God Grouping of the Greek Religion we have 6 females and 6 males Gods.
A perfect equality! So, when we speak of the equality between the sexes, that is today an imperative for our Western Civilization, this is not for us a lip-service, but it is a statement firmly based on the theological-dogmatic foundation of our religion!


Why is Aphrodite so special? Is it her beauty, Grace, Youth, Sexuality, Femininity?

Aphrodite is the divine Personality who presides over the Law of Forms. It is the Natural Law that gives in everything, from molecules to stars and from crystals to men, their form. So, this Law is specialy honored in our celebration of the natural order! See how that Law manages to make every Form Beautyful, Graceful, Perfect, full of mathematical harmonic relations! So, it is natural that Aphrodite is for the Mythology the Goddess of Beauty as She represents the harmony and beauty of the different forms of Nature! Goddess of Femininity for the Mythology, also, as Femininity is seen as the embodiment of grace, harmony and beauty!
Goddess of sexual attraction, also, which is the tool of the Law of Evolution, as the Law of Forms working together with the Law of Motion produces Harmony and Eros, that is the thrust of matter for more composite forms e.g. more harmonious and evolved, and for replication that gives to Cosmos its eternal duration and to Man the chance to evolve towards higher conciousness.


By worshiping Aphrodite, are you worshiping sexuality?

We worship Sacred Personalities and not abstract ideas. anyway! Our Gods are Individualities and Personalities of the highest order, not abstractions!
The Greek Gods DO help man in all his concerns and the concern about the proper function of the body systems is a principal one! So in Greek Holy Worship is conspicous the figure of our God of Medicine who is Asklepius - Aesculapius and, following this, His Sacred Precinct, the Asclepieum is a Hospital, as well. Accordingly, when we have a health problem,including a malfunctioning sexuality, we pray to Aesculapius to help us and to give the right inspiration to our medical doctor! So, worries about sexual function are addressed to Aesculapius.
Generally about sexuality and Hellenic Civilization:
The Hellenic Civilization believes in Human Evolution, Progress and Civilization and so healthy sexuality is very important to Greek Worldvision as that is the firm base which makes possible marriage, a proper family and a good progeny that ensures the continuity of the family and the civilization and is the cornerstone of the famous concept of the «Greek City». The greatest nightmare of the classical man is to remain without offsprings! Raising a family and caring for the offsprings is an imperative of our Greek Religion which teaches that it must be the foremost duty of a Holy Man! So, we can say that we are truly the religion that is founded on family values!