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The Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos: Traditional versus Reformed

By Elani Temperance

[Snip] So what is the difference between Traditional and Reformed Hellenismos? To start, there is no hard line—not in as far as can be defined beforehand; the distinction between ‘Traditional’ and ‘Reformed’ is a matter of intent.

The ancient Hellenes worshipped their Gods in a way they did not even have to think about. They were taught by their parents how a ritual was supposed to be conducted and what a festival looked like. Kids learned how to act in temples, and they played their parts in the sacrifice. The ancient religion varied from place to place and when details of a festival or rite changed, they changed because the polis wanted them to. The ancient Hellenic religion(s) were greatly tied to the ancient Hellenic culture(s). Yet, there were overarching ideals and ritual acts that a man traveling from Athens to Kos would recognize if he walked in on a festival there. In fact, it’s likely he would have recognized the festival and could share in its intent. Perhaps not its execution, and perhaps not all the time (because of local mythology and deities), but most of the time, and in most of its execution. It’s this overarching religion we search for in Elaion; the bare bones.

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