What is Hellenismos?

In ancient times, before Christianity, before Islam, before Buddhism, or any of the modern religions, except Judaism, the people of the Mediterranean worshipped in a vast array of forms, prayed to a vast array of Gods, and believed in  avast array of things that to the modern eye might seem odd.

Among these beliefs is what we call Polytheism. Polytheism is the acceptance and belief that there are many Gods. How those Gods manifest and what their motivations and forms are are usually culturally specific. The people of Egypt saw the Gods in ways that were unique to them, and which were different from the way the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Iberians, Phoenicians, etc., would.

Add to this that we are not talking about a trivial span of time here, and you can possibly imagine the incredible differences that developed over thousands of years and over thousands of miles.

Hellenismos is the polytheistic religion of the ancient Hellenes, the Greeks, and that religion as well existed in many forms, both through time and over the various areas of Greece, among the people who inhabited the areas surrounding the Aegean Sea.

There are five very distinct epochs in Hellenismos.

1: Minoan: This may not have been a Greek people at all, but they lived on Crete and their religion clearly had some influence on the way Hellenismos would develop.

2: Mycenaean: These are the earliest organized/civilized people that can be said to be Greek. Their language is clearly Greek, though not Classical or Modern Greek, and the Gods they worship are very familiar to anyone who knows the Greek system of worship. It is during this epoch that the great war between the Greeks and the Trojans took place.

3: Classical Greece: This is the very famous civilization that can rightly be said to be the mother of modern European civilization. It is  during this period, by this culture, that the great works of philosophy and drama were written, and during which what we know as the scientific method was being formulated. The defining characteristics of this culture, its love of art and science, are things that have infused all of Europe with that same love which lead to the blossoming of Europe into a truly great civilization.

4: Hellenistic, or Post Alexander: This period is not clearly distinct from the Classical, except that during this time, the Greeks were just about everywhere. They spread their influence far and wide, and eventually, when they were conquered by the Romans, they essentially Hellenized Rome rather than the other way around, and with that, Rome helped spread the Greek ideal even further.

5: Modern Hellenismos (also known as Hellenic Paganism or Gentile Hellenism): Is the modern resurgence of Hellenismos through a modern resurgence of Pagan beliefs in many cultures who, finally, feel capable of coming out of the closets as the influence of the Church has lessened. Modern Hellenismos, it should be noted, is a reconstruction, not a direct descendant of ancient Greek religion.

The Gods

At the core of Hellenistic belief are the Gods. Even as the various forms of this religion diverge from each other, one thing remains constant, the worship and honoring of the Olympian Gods and the other deities that make up the divine hierarchy of the Hellenic Pantheon.

Among these, of course, are the Olympian Gods.

  • Zeus
  • Hera
  • Aphrodite
  • Ares
  • Athena
  • Hephaestus
  • Apollo
  • Artemis
  • Hermes
  • Demeter
  • Poseidon
  • Hestia
Added to these are several major Gods
  • Dionysus
  • Hekate
  • Helios
  • Selene
  • Hades
  • Persephone
  • Pan
  • and many others
The belief in these Gods varies. Some believe every deity mentioned in the myths is a real deity, but others, myself included, believe there are a smaller number of true deities and that they take on many forms and aspects.

Polytheism, however, is the acceptance of the divine as a multiplicity, a plurality, and so it is a common belief, or perhaps an ethic, of pagans, at least in the West, to be respectful and mindful of the traditions, beliefs, and boundaries of other religions. It is for this reason that most polytheistic religions, even Hinduism, which while not technically a Pagan religion, is often very influential on modern Pagan revivals, tend not to be zealous or proselytizing.

It is not my role to convert you, only you can reach out to the Gods and find in them a sense of peace and belonging, and how you do that as well is totally up to you.


Our conception of "worship" in the modern world is heavily skewed by the Abrahamic influence. Among the Islamic and Christian traditions, worship is a form of submission. Among the Hindus, it is a form of practice that allows human beings to commune with, or place themselves in the hierarchy of divinity, since all things share in the divine, from the smalles organism to the highest God. 

In Hellenismos, worship is about practice. Like the Hindus, we place ourselves in a position, admittedly below the Gods, but not as their servants or slaves. We are autonomous and have a will of our own, and as such, Hellenismos has a sense of reciprocity built into the idea of worship. We do for the Gods, and in return, the Gods do for us. But we live in the modern world, and we have been influenced by a great many traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. 

Buddhism and Hinduism especially, are well respected traditions amongst pagans, Hellenistic or not, and as such we often acquire or borrow practice from them, even though evidence shows that these are ancient practices that may have had a foothold in Greece even in ancient times. 

Meditation is a very common form of worship among the Hellenes I have interacted with, but among most, there is also a need for ritual, something I have never quite found satisfying on its own. The keeping of statues or altars is also part of most Hellenic worship. Dedicating a sacred space to them and making offerings of incense, flame, and sometimes physical goods such as breads, cakes, or portions of our meals to them as a thank you. Because Praxis and Reciprocity are such important aspects of Hellenist belief, activities such as dance, martial arts training, writing of poetry or other written art forms, the performance of music and drama, are all considered sacred acts, and as such are a part of worship.


I am fairly simple in my beliefs. I tend to be an unemotional person, so I worship in rather logical ways. I don't buy into magic or other forms of esoteric thought, and so my worship takes the form of meditation, communication, and a desire to understand myself and through that, them.

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