A group of modern Greeks paying tribute to the ancient gods

Followers of Hellenism are getting back to their cultural roots through worship of the ancient Greek gods.


Some of you may be familiar with the ancient Greek religion, a polytheistic faith which involves the worship of many different gods and goddesses. These figures also feature prominently in much of Greek mythology, a famous set of stories and teachings from ancient Greece. Unlike with other religions, Greek mythology tells stories about the gods’ lives that focus on both their strengths and their flaws. For example, Zeus was the king of all of the gods, and he had regular affairs with other women, resulting in many children who themselves became gods and goddesses. As the story goes, Zeus’s wife would retaliate by putting curses on the women her husband had slept with, as well as the children who were born as a result.

Gone, but Not Forgotten

Despite the longevity of Greek mythology, the ancient religion itself all but died off over time – or so we thought. These days, it appears to be making a comeback. The religion has recently experienced a revival under the contemporary movement known as Hellenism. Although its number of followers remains relatively small, this practice of worshiping the ancient Greek gods is reportedly growing in popularity, especially among Greece’s young people.

Back to Their Roots

These followers are going back to their ancestral roots by taking up worship of the ancient gods. For hundreds of years, the Greek Orthodox Church has dominated Greece’s religious landscape. In that sense, the rise of Hellenism appears to be a counter-culture response to traditional Christian religious practices, emerging in the public eye sometime during the 1990s. Modern followers hold ceremonies, reenact ancient Greek religious practices, and have even built churches. Several churches have been established specifically to worship certain gods.

Prometheia Festival

The Prometheia Festival has been a popular tradition within Hellenism since its revival. A Greek family celebrating PrometheiaThe festival typically takes place over four days, and focuses on highlighting the old traditions. It is meant to be a chance for all of those who believe in the ancient Greek religion to come together and celebrate the spirit of the gods. There are many events during the four-day span, including:

  • Promethean drama productions
  • Reenactments of historic ceremonies and events
  • Marriage ceremonies and cleansings

The festival promotes the notion that although Hellenism has become more popular recently, the practice never fully died out in the first place. Some critics are skeptical about this claim, but there is little evidence available to prove either side right.

Relationship with Christians

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hellenism movement has developed a testy relationship with the Greek Orthodox Church. In fact, recent reports indicate that several Christian churches in Greece have been attacked and vandalized by Hellenism followers. In one particularly unpleasant case, perpetrators targeted the Church of Zoodochou Pigis, breaking into the building and smearing feces over numerous statues inside. Messages written on the walls in charcoal included several anti-Christian comments, as well as a calling-card statement that read: “This one’s courtesy of Zeus.”

As evidenced by this strange act of vandalism, some worshipers of the ancient gods do not look favorably upon Christianity. Many view it as religion that violently usurped the rightful Greek religion practiced by their ancestors thousands of years ago. Looking back at history, they may have a point. The Romans conquered Greece in 146 BC. After the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, it began to slowly take hold in Greece, eventually becoming the official religion in the year 380 AD. However, it’s worth noting that Christianity was growing in popularity all over the world at this time, and would likely have taken hold in Greece anyway.

What do you think? Is the ancient Greek religious revival just a trend, or are the followers of Zeus here to stay?

 

62 comments

  1. Jessica Martini says:

    Is it more a celebration of theater? history? culture? or a true belief in “the gods of the pantheon”?

    1. konstantas says:

      Well… We are living in the 21st century. How true could a belief in “the gods of the pantheon” be??

      You can’t have a battery operated phone and also believe in the thunderbolt of Zeus. It is ridiculous.

      They are basically misled by a pseudo-scholarly, baseless version of history, and many urban legends and frauds. The character of this movenment is a reaction to the present economical and social crisis.

      Of course, girls and women dressed with their bed sheets and pretending to be ancient Greeks are indeed putting an excellent show of beautifull breasts.

  2. Lloyd Hargrove says:

    Apparently in the absence of any available employment there are many Greeks who have entirely too much free time.

    1. Nikolas says:

      Do you know what it’s like to have everything your ancestors stood for destroyed by another religion? I doubt it. Some things are more important than employment.

      1. Amir Harris-De La Nuez says:

        You should add me friend.

      2. Evan Brink says:

        I agree with you. My ancestors were Northern European Celts.

        1. ravenwriter7 says:

          Mine also – as a matter of fact – I am High Priestess for a small Coventstead – all western European traditions and rites/ rituals when we can… I think this is gorgeous and we actually attempt to make our events look as much like this as possible… we don’t have a full blown temple.. but we are working on it! Μπράβο στους Έλληνες αδελφοί και αδελφές μας !
          Brávo stous Éllines adelfoí kai adelfés mas !

      3. Victoria Barela says:

        Μπράβο

      4. William swanson says:

        You understand and that is what is important! You are just another spark of the flame preserving sacred tradition for those not yet honored to receive! The Master said turn a stone I am there, spilt a wood I am there. Make the out like the in! As above as below! We must embrace the wisdom of our past to move forward with our future! Masters come from all faiths!! Amen

      5. Lion says:

        Im From Mexico i feel You bro. Quetzalcoatl was a great god. a Flying Feathered Snake of wisdom we used to adere that awsome god…. now we adore a carptenter zombie……

    2. Yannie says:

      Really…… I do believe that Religious Freedom is a Universal Human Right, throughout the World……. However being a A-Hole is Very Common in your World.

  3. ultimatesmurfgod says:

    OMG!!!! It is a huge toga party!
    I am sorry, someone had to say it. It looks like a great celebration of life. Let’s see more of that, and less of the killing.

  4. Lloyd Hargrove says:

    For some reason this picture reminds me that the old school Greek Pagans had a sacred duty to serve the Goddess Aphrodite which was once so rich that it had acquired more than a thousand prostitutes, donated by both men and women to the service of the goddess. If current day worshipers were to reinstate such service it would be sure to boost tourism quite a bit.

    1. ravenwriter7 says:

      Nothing new there.. – where have you been?

  5. Darlene RoamingGnome King says:

    I do believe it is here to stay. The real question everyone is avoiding is how will the rest of the world religions react or act towards those who practice it?
    Will other religions be accepting and live peacefully next to them not trying to force their beliefs on others or will they be intolerant like so many today and try to impose their thoughts, beliefs and customs on them?
    I think it is time we all chose to live and let live. Accept those who are different and lead by example not force.
    “Let he/she who is without sin cast the first stone”

    1. Minister Carey says:

      Wonderfully stated.

    2. Anthony D Harmon says:

      I like what you had to say. But get real. People will say this religion is excepted. Yet still try to ram down the followers necks. That they are wrong and should follow the one true God. Even though no one knows who is right and who is wrong.

      1. Planetary Paul says:

        “When monotheists speak, the beams are creaking.”

    3. NJB says:

      If they will all just let each other be with out violence towards each other and let all worship who they wish that would be great.

    4. ravenwriter7 says:

      The voice of reason…

    5. Sister Moira says:

      it will be very grand if these polytheists practice in peace. Defacing others temples is a poor solicitation for respect though. Hopefully, each will let the other be.

  6. Amir De La Nuez says:

    I have to say that the comments on here are slightly judgemental coming from ministers. The way that Hellenistic beliefs are being spoken about on here are not indicative of the understanding we are supposed to have as ministers.

  7. Amir Harris says:

    Also, if you study esoteric manuals from around the world, Paganism never left.

    1. ravenwriter7 says:

      Awen to that… Paganism (in one form or another) has actually been around longer that Any other religions…

  8. Nikolas says:

    This article is very biased. My brother has been involved in Hellenism for 10 years now, and he tells me of constantly being ridiculed by Christians in Greece. I do not like vandalism, but something must be done. They treat anyone who disagrees with them like infants. All the violence in history is ignored. No more!

    1. Amir Harris-De La Nuez says:

      Thank you!

    2. David A Griffith says:

      It seems to be what Christianity has become, a religion of hate, intolerance, and ignorance. There are still good Christians, but the most vocal are the ones that make us think Chrisitanity is what I wrote above. How do we get back the religion that many of us were brought up in. I have left because the idea of being associated with people like that was just too much for me to bear. I am now a secular humanistic and so much happier and at peace with so many things.

      1. Cibil A. Sesco says:

        You get it back by living as Christ lived.
        The only people he had criticism for were the greedy materialistic moneychangers and religious hypocrites.
        He did not condemn the prostitutes, nor the poor, nor even the thief. He had no unkind word for the Samaritans, who were Pagan to the last individual .
        His one Commandment was to love one another.
        If all Christians behaved as Christ did, Pagans would never have been given a reason to hate them.

        1. Kisa Duncan says:

          Thank you for saying what I’ve thought all along!

  9. Restrepo says:

    These people are just hipsters joining the most recent trend. I doubt they are sincere. And as for the vandals, they should be aggressively prosecuted. Maybe if the Greeks spent more time trying to get a job the the country’s economy wouldn’t be such utter s**t.

  10. CCMS, Inc. says:

    Christianity is an ancient religion. It just so happens that it is currently woven into the fabric of the culture. Additionally, much of the religions of Egypt, Parthia, Rome, etc. and of Mithra and Zoroaster were borrowed by Judaism and then by Christianity. Gods became saints. Temples became churches. Who know where one ends and the other begins? I don’t care what people believe so long as their beliefs do not tell them to hurt others and so long as they don’t try to force me to say I believe what they do.

  11. Kevin Zeller says:

    So, what THEIR gods never even existed?! Neither did/does OURS! Please, see http://jesusneverexisted.com

  12. benji says:

    Did they will worship pedophile Zeus ? did they will do human Sacrifice ? its not the paganism practice by antik greek but NEO paganism, did they really believe in those “gods” or did they just celebrate their history ? i think its more ideological than religion, and say Christianism is a “oriental jew cult impose on greek” so why you worship greek god than most of them come from Egyptian Mesopotamian pagans ? and wich army force Greece to become Christian ? wich army force Constantin to become Pagan ? Greece is Orthodox Christian and thats All

    1. Andrei says:

      Dear whateveryournameis, you have a serious lack of knowledge when it comes to the ancient HELLENIC religion and philosophy, not to mention the unability to understand that the myths were not literal stories of what the Gods did. Constantine became christian in the end of his life for political means, orthodox religion is nothing but a pile of shit, not to mention the atrocities and everything that the OT promotes. Next time if your daughter or whatever woman from your life is raped, make sure to follow the biblical way and sell it to the rapist, or kill her if she was a virgin when that happened. 😉

      1. benji says:

        “oh no its just mythical” so like muslim neo pagan cannot assume their own faith when it come to the basics 😉 and for christian respond to attack learn from a Greek Christain Theologian

        1. benji says:

          “Christ our God, teaching us to pray for those who have offended us and do good to them, said, well, no one can show greater love in this life by giving his life for his friends (Jn 15: 3). That’s why we support with magnanimity the offenses made to us personally, but we defend one another and offer our lives to fight for our neighbor, so that you, who have reduced our countrymen into slavery, not rendiez slaves their souls with their bodies, forcing them to renounce their faith and act against the commandments of God. Our Christian soldiers defend the gun in his hand the Holy Church and the sovereign in which they honor the power of the heavenly King; they keep the homeland, knowing that its destruction would be followed immediately by the fall from power and the undermining of faith in the Gospel. These are precious pledges for which soldiers should fight to the last drop of blood on the battlefield. The Church raises to the rank of martyrs and called intercessors before God. “

          1. benji says:

            Saitn Cyrill respond to muslim about Christian Pacifism and Defense rule 😉 same time pagan viking send they own girl in sex slavery to muslim and pagan iran fall when Christian Byzantine stand on

    2. Sister Moira says:

      What god is infailible except to ki’s own adherants ?

      I have read only tales of dieties who torture-test thier worshippers, smite them, trick them, eat them, rape them, brint them plaguee, destitution, disease, famine, on and on.

      But these self-same gods, creators and sprits also delight, bless, enthrall, reward, and love their devotees.

      I would scarcely begin to pass judgement on any god.

  13. Mitch says:

    Are we certain that Christianity is here to stay? Presently divided into 12,000 different sects many at odds with each other and riddled with poorly educated,credulous,bigotted and often violent followers. Compared to Judaism which is nearly 6000 years old and Vedantic Hinduism which may be 10,000 years old or even older Christianity is a relative upstart. There is much hellenism in Christianity,in fact the myth of Jesus is rooted in the greek myth of Heracles , fathered by Zeus king of the gods and mothered by a mortal woman. There is nothing new under the sun.

  14. A. Papadimitriou says:

    The residents of what is considered today as Greece, at the peak of their civilization, we’re not a bunch of religious shallow fanatics. In ancient drama, in philosophy teachings, human was the center of the world. Even in mythology , from where religion derives (just as Judaism derived from Jewish mythology, Hinduism from Indian mythology etc.) the figure of Promitheas is the proof that the gods act as tyrants against the people and gods symbolize the rulers. Yet Promitheas stole the fire , which was the turning point in the evolution of himan civilization,. He was punished by the gods but in the end he was freed by a semi God, Hercules (what a traitor or shall I say what a rebelion!). So these folks going around in robes have nothing to do with the real Greek philosophical view of man, and I am reluctant to use the term Greek since it is a term used in very modern times and never was it in use then. They just ridicule a civilization that does not belong to them and they cannot even comprehend. Knowledge and understanding is far out of their limits and capacity. Little human beings showing off. It is no wonder that the most serious works about the ancient world have been written by European and American. The Ercolano papyrus found in Naples and are the only, I repeat the only original scriptures found of the great philosopher Epicurus, since all others that belong to the other philosophers and writers are copies and translations, none are prototypes. Well the Greek ministry od culture didn’t send even one scientist to examine this great find while all other countries did and in the end some American univercity obtained most of them.

  15. gary says:

    wow, goddesses indeed!

  16. William Swanson says:

    It is great to see a younger generation not afraid to think for themselves and explore the wisdom of their ancestors! Pythagoras was a great Master and teacher as Aristotle and I’m sure they also play a major role in their culture and beliefs. It is so refreshing to see people to take the step to find their own truths. Jesus did say when the student is ready the master will appear (teacher). This simply means keep searching and in time you will become Master of yourself, you will know inside your own answers! Teachers, Masters and profits come in all shapes sizes and religions. I am sure Jesus himself held no membership to any church Just taught parables, lessons, wisdom and stories from the heart! God Bless you all, Swany!

  17. Rev. Donna says:

    All people should be able to practice their chosen religion in peace & safety.
    No one has the right to attack another, or their place of worship, because they believe differently – or for any reason.

    1. Sister Moira says:

      Indeed. Though what of defense ? This all becomes mired as soon as one zealot claims persecution of another is a religious duty.

      What then ?

      Surely, I am at a loss to answer that.

      Does one tolerate being persecuted as the religious right of another ?

      Ai, mi.

  18. Pat Mojarro says:

    Many years ago I prayed to Jesus to help me find a home and get through a messy divorce. Months passed and nothing. Two weeks after praying to the ancient Greek and Roman gods, I signed paperwork on a house. I don’t believe in coincidence.

  19. William A Swanson says:

    God Bless Rev. Donna! Our Master takes many forms! We Learn with open open minds! The Master said those with eyes to see will see and with ears to hear will hear! Lessons are to be learned in all cultures for ultimately we are a individual part of the one! God Bless, Swany!

  20. Ray says:

    And they’re off again: Religion against religion, hating, violence and undoubtebly in the end murderous praticies. Whilst any sane man or woman now is able to know, really knowing with knowledge that all these ‘religions’are absurd! Just take a look at the skies at night and look at the stars and learn what little amount of them you actually see! Learn about the vastness of this universe and then consider why the God or the Gods of all of this, would take this tiny little planet in a tiny little solar system, somewhere in the backyard to make it their very own special place and humans to be the crown of creation… Yea, sure!! Stop making up your silly little Gods and take up your own responsability to learn how to live with one another and the planet you live on and the universe. There are no Gods and by now you are grown up enough to deal with it yourse;ves!!

  21. maxillya says:

    The Gods of old we’re really a race of starpeople traveling in space, time, and collating universes.
    The Greeks cut the word Godalarians, to make it say gods.
    These Gods did like the humans, and watched over them, but teller of tales, and specialized points of view, clouded the reality of the Godalarians.

    1. Rudi Kramp says:

      Good points.
      Some groups on earth believe in the Ascended Masters, which includes some of those starpeople (or aliens, or ETs), Jesus, some Atlanteans, and so on.

      1. Sister Moira says:

        Mayhaps, even, we are they who came from afar in time and space.

  22. Rudi says:

    I reckon the followers of Zeus are here to stay. It’s also part of these changing times, much like 2000 years ago.
    There can also be the best of the past, including ancient past, with the best of the present.
    One would think that it would be more a case of the Christians harassing the Pagans. Maybe there is also that, which the article doesn’t mention. The followers of Zeus and of Greek Orthodox (and others) should be able to live together in peace and harmony, having freedom of religious worship.

  23. James says:

    I notice in the article you mention the bad behaviour of the Hellenists but have neglected to mention the persecution of the Greek pagan community using laws dating back to 1938 and more recent laws enacted in 1992, despite rulings on the illegality of such laws under International law. The relationship between the Orthodox Church and the state in Greece is almost medieval. The current economic upheavals have caused many to challenge the moral authority of both clergy and politicians. Much of this negative activity is justified on the basis of preserving the cultural integrity of the nation. To quote Father Eustathios Kollas, “What their worshippers symbolize, and clearly want, is a return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past. They should be stopped”. I think you can smell the brimstone in his statement. A bit ironic considering Hellenism is the foundation of Greek culture. I should point out that it is not just the pagans who come under scruitiny but many other ethnic/religous/cultural groups. A small point but one often forgotten, is that Constantine was not a Christian until his death bed, his sister was. I suspect that as he murdered her husband and children to secure his political position this might have motivated his change on heart near the end. Just a thought.

  24. Chris Aldridge says:

    If this article is completely accurate, I wish that some of them had not attacked Christian churches, even though I am sure they are a minority in our community, because the minority will speak louder than everyone else in such cases. It’s not the way to solve things. Yes, the Church stole everything from Greece and murdered, coerced and destroyed its way into power, but no one alive today can be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors. The more our community grows, the more the Church will lose power and influence on its own. But if you decide to go out and physically attack them just because they are Christian, that’s just going to give them more morale and personal confirmation bias. I am a Hellene myself, I worship the old Gods too, and such acts of vandalism or violence will only give the “Greek” Orthodox Church a ground upon which to fight us and the ability to characterize us all. Don’t allow them that privilege. And I would also like to note that, as Walter Burkert points out in his book “Greek Religion,” the ancient Greek religion disappeared under “massive state pressure.” The Greeks did not willingly convert. Christianity was able to work its way into the government, and from there, the powers of the state forced it on the citizenry. The Greek people themselves weren’t accepting the Christian religion by and large. It “took hold” in Greece by force. Period.

  25. The Dionysian Artist says:

    1. Hellenic Polytheism isn’t new, at least not as the article states. We had people returning to paganism in the 19 century (some Greeks claim that it never died out), in the 1970’s groups started forming with more intent towards traditional devotion, instead of the ideals of Neo-paganism and Wicca, these groups started publishing newsletters, magazines and books. In the 1990’s the internet helped spread it more. Modern Hellenic polytheism is international too, there are large groups in the US, Europe (outside of Greece), followers (like myself) in Australia and elsewhere. Its not a fad.
    2. The only other source I’ve found of the faeces on the icon is from a Greek right wing orthodox reporter. Neither Labyrs or YSEE has claimed responsibility for it. Basically there is no proof that it was done by anyone who is related to the wider Hellenic polytheist community in Greece – for all we know it was some kids. This crime is being used as a smear tactic against Hellenic polytheists, who ideally wouldn’t commit such acts because their faith has taboos against uncleanliness.
    3. There has been indeed religious intolerance, but those acts are from Orthodox Christians, including fire bombing a book store, the patriarch publicly declaring Hellenics insane, the government refusing to allow public worship in scared sites and denying petitions to EU which allows religious freedoms.

    In conclusion if you want to report this growing and developed religion get your fact straight, interview the other side instead of using it as a platform to continue misinfo and hate.

  26. Gabriel Hernandez says:

    No real pagan would ever think on step over others right to workship their own beliefs, no matter they agree or not with them, so there must be a group of angry people creating division with fear and hate.

  27. sacredwellministries says:

    Hellenism is alive and well in many countries, but the Greeks have not had the religious freedom to practice their own faith until recently. Devotional polytheism is not just a fashion statement – the many paths to connect to the Divine are the reason we are here, isn’t it?

    1. Swany says:

      So true and wise! For all are only a small piece of the universal one! Each individual spark lights the fire of the eternal Light! Our Master had no membership or dues affiliation to any organization created below, yet the same is above! Love ya all brothers and sisters, Swany!

  28. G. B. Marian says:

    The desecration of Zoodochou Pigis is terrible, and I hope the persons who are responsible for this sacrilege will be brought to justice. No place of worship should ever be treated in such a way.

    However, I would like to point out that this did not happen in a vacuum, and that polytheist hostility toward Christianity in Greece is not unprovoked. It has been stoked by the Greek Orthodox Church itself for centuries. Here is an article written in 2004 that details many of the ways in which Hellenic Polytheists have been persecuted in Greece for just the past few decades alone:

    http://agis10.tripod.com/id16.html

    I would also like to say that some of the comments on this article are truly shameful. I cannot believe that anyone who would want to be a minister in the ULC Monastery would say such harmful and despicable things about a religious minority that has been consistently persecuted for so long. I can assure the people who’ve made these statements that the practice of Hellenic Polytheism or Hellenismos (as it is called in Greek) is a very serious affair to those who believe in it. They are actively seeking to reconstruct a part of their cultural heritage from which their people have been systematically alienated for centuries. Maybe that’s not such a big deal to some of the people who are posting here, and that’s OK; but suggesting that anyone who’s interested in Hellenismos is insincere or crazy or stupid is just plain wrong any way you slice it.

  29. Dr. Skylord Johnson Jedi Knight and Metaphysicist says:

    I’m not honestly sure calli g this a revival is accurate. There is ample evidence throughout history to strongly suggest the roman conversion to Christianity was a political ploy and that the first pope was in fact a worshipper of Apollo and that is why images of the sun are so prominent in the stained glass windows that did what? That’s right make praying to the light standard habit.

    Thus one could view all christian sub faiths that hold to the pope and Vatican’s rulings as being just long time closet apolloists.

    It also wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened as in ancient Egypt a pharoah once attempted to establish a monotheistic worship of a sun god. Considering the well known history between Rome and Egypt during these ancient times it can easily lead one to ponder if Constantine just was trying the same thing but with more subtle ways.

  30. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    My famity over four hundred years ago left the paganism of Japan (Shinto and Buddhism) and became Catholic. Several early relatives were martyred for the Christian faith by the Tokugawa Shoguns(military rulers of Japan) in the mid 17th centuries. We as a family would never go back to the worship of the pagan dieties of Buddhism or Shinto, however, it’s an interesting fact that thousands of former Christian people are embracing pagan religions, either the worship of the Norse(Viking), Greek/Roman or even the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. Some do it in a carnival/show atmosphere, but others anre 100% serious converts and have actually built temples. The worship of the bloodthirsty Aztec gods has unfortunately not completely died out in Mexico, although 95% of the country is Catholic. Rather than slaughtering people like in olden days, the modern Aztec pagans slaughter sheep or birds to the gods. But their religion was a hideous practice which good riddance was stamped out 450 years ago by the Spaniards. But there;s nothing wrong with peole returning to the worship of the ancient Greek/Roman, Norse or Egyptian gods if it is what they prefer, since so many contemporary Christian groups and sects and churches have become spiritually bankrupt with over modernizing and discarding tradition. But just so the new pagans do the old rites correctly. If it’s done as a sideshow to draw attention, its wrong. If they are genuinely devout, that’s fine.
    Kenjiro M. Shoda

  31. Vaachaspathy says:

    There is more to Hellenism than it appears on the surface. Hellenism is mostly like Hinduism. Probably part of the vast ancinet Indo-European cultural corpus. Zeus is mentioned in the Hindu texts as Dyous. Several Greek Gods and mythological events closely resemble Hindu mythology.

    1. Sister Moira says:

      Indeed, both are very polytheistic, inclusive and ritual oriented. As with many religions, echos of the elder can be heard in the younger. To me, this points to a universiality beyond the time of any. Thank you for the hint.

      Namaste

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