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Hellenistic Wicca and Worshipping the Greek Gods

A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.

'Greek' Wicca, Greco-Wicca or 'Hellenistic' Wicca

Wicca is a unique Pagan religion in that we really don’t have our own pantheon of Gods. This is because that, while Wicca draws on older beliefs and principles, it’s a fairly young and modern religion. We do have generic god and goddess archetypes that some of us feel more comfortable addressing—the Horned God, the Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother, and Crone). There’s nothing wrong with that. But some of us feel called to more ancient pantheons of our Pagan ancestors.

For me, that would be the Gods and Goddesses of the Greeks. Despite the Celtic knots and the Celtic and Germanic names for holidays, Hellenism is quite a natural fit for Wicca for those inclined to embrace it.

Greek Paganism and Wicca

Hecate Samhain altar

Hecate Samhain altar

Poll for Wiccans!

The Gods of Olympus

Demeter statue in Amsterdam

Demeter statue in Amsterdam

Hellenism and Wicca: A Perfect Fit

The Greek Gods and their stories have always been embedded in the heart of Western civilization. There’s arguably no Pagan religion that’s been as influential on language, politics, philosophy, art, and literature. Because of this, it seems to me that it doesn’t matter whether you have specifically Greek lineage or not—if you grew up in the Western world, Greek Paganism has been a quiet yet sturdy fixture in your culture and part of your heritage.

Another advantage of Hellenism in Wicca is that—unlike the very fragmented traditions of the Northern European tribal cultures that have largely been lost to us—a great deal of beliefs and practices remain intact. Sure, some things have been lost to us—the Eleusinian mysteries, for example. But there’s probably no Pagan religion that provides us with a greater collection of artifacts and writings from which we can draw.

Despite the fact that Wiccans liberally use Celtic knot designs and Celtic names for some Sabbats, in a lot of ways Hellenism fits even more neatly within the Wiccan framework. For example, the Classical Elements as we know them—Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Aether (spirit)—came to us via the Greeks. There is a widespread mistaken idea that the Elements were found in Celtic religions—some people even go as far as to say the Celtic cross symbolized the 4 Elements—but this is simply not true. Some Celts believed in the three realms—earth, sky, and sea—and fire was an altogether different thing. It wasn't until as late as the 19th century that the four Elements, which had been popularized in Ceremonial Magic, were thought mistakenly to come from the Celts.

The Greek myths can fit into the Wheel of the Year liturgy and symbolism quite nicely. The cycles of the seasons are mirrored in the story of Demeter and Persephone and the rise and fall of Dionysus; we can hear the whispers of Hades and Hecate in the Harvest season, and the Pan pipes on the wind in the budding spring. If you live in a warmer climate as I do, it’s particularly beneficial to adapt your Wheel of the Year to the Greek festivals, because our agricultural cycle is different than those of Northern Europeans.

Hermes shrine that sits above my writing desk.

Hermes shrine that sits above my writing desk.

Remember: Hellenism Isn't Wicca

While many elements of Hellenism can fit neatly within Wicca, Wiccans need to realize that Wicca is not, in fact, Hellenism. Hellenic Reconstructionist religions are simply different. While Wiccans may be interested in bringing Hellenism into Wicca, Hellenic Reconstructionists are not interested in bringing Wicca into Hellenism.

This is why I use the term “Hellenistic Wicca” rather than “Hellenic Wicca.” Wicca can be ‘Hellenic-flavored,’ but cannot be interchangeable with actual Hellenism as Wicca has too many other influences to be pure Hellenism. Keep in mind that the Wiccan Rede, the Threefold law and Wiccan ritual tools and structure are not something you find widespread in all ‘Greek’ Paganism. If you do find yourself befriending Hellenists or going to public gatherings, it’s important to keep that in mind. A lot of Wicca 101 books tend to paint all of Paganism as if it follows a Wiccan model, and it’s just not the case and should never be expected.

Where to Seek the Greek

hellenistic-wicca

Source to Raid

There are some must-read sources for the Hellenistic Wiccan to check out. For one thing, read Greek mythology liberally. Edith Hamilton is one of the most well-known and celebrated writer retelling myths in English.

Ethics and proper behavior was a big thing to the Greeks, and is also something very important in Wicca. While Wicca has no dogmatic commandments, you may find some inspiration in Pagan Greek writings. The Golden Versus of Pythagoras, were known to us since the 5th century CE (and perhaps have been around much longer), and are a list of more detailed codes of behavior. The Delphic Maxims (inscribed at Delphi, and said to have been delivered to man by Apollo himself) is a similar set of moral objectives. Solon’s Tenets extoll virtues valued in Hellenism. In studying magic, you definitely want to get your hands on a copy of The Emerald Tablet, which is the basis of Hermetic magic principles believed by some to come from Hermes.

While you need not take any of these as scripture, they’re certainly good advice that even in these modern times would be counted as wise and valuable.

If you’re looking for some great prayers and invocations, look no further than the Homeric Hymns and the Orphic Hymns. It's unknown when the Homeric Hymns are from, the Orphic Hymns date between 100 BCE and 150 CE. Any of these are rich sources for drawing poetry and liturgy into your rituals. You may wish to draw from some of these sources for your own Book of Shadows.

Some additional research you might want to do is to look into concepts important in Greek culture (and therefore important in relations to Greek Gods) like hubris, harmartia, sophrosyne, xenia, xenos, gnothi seauton, and meden agan. I will leave those interested to do their own research and consider for themselves how such concepts might be applied to Wicca, not just in relation with the Gods but in relation to one's life.

Wiccans who feel the call the Olympians and their kin should not hesitate to answer the call. You may find it a very enriching combination.

Solon's Tenets

hellenistic-wicca

© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright

Comments

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 24, 2020:

Aphrodite came to my mind too as you described that, but only you and She can confirm this. I would say prayer and meditation on her is the best way to open yourself to her so her message can come through.

Cat on April 28, 2020:

Hello, I read this hoping i find some clarity, and luckily I did. Growing up, I was always drawn to the Greek pantheon, fascinated by the myths. After I read this, I went to bed but had the urge to pray. I did, then meditated for a while. During this I think I saw an image (a vision maybe?) of a wooden red heart on a plywood top. This morning I prayed again for guidance on whoever I should follow. Today I went out and saw (what I think) are a couple of signs. First, I saw a whole bunch of roses in a couple different neighbors yards, I saw a large seashell decoration, a few butterfly decorations on two different houses, then what I think was a sparrow. I have a small suspicion that these are from Aphrodite, but I’m not experienced. I don’t want to be disrespectful to her or anyone else, can you give me your thoughts on this? Thank you in advance. :)

Cody Jones on December 23, 2019:

Thank you so much this article has helped a lot.I am thirteen and I try to pray to the gods every night before I sleep I don't know if I'm doing it right but it kinda works because I asked Hypnos/Somnus for a good sleep.ever since I have found it much easier to sleep.I also pray to Fortuna/Tyche for luck.Ever since I was young I have been interested in witches and mythology (first Egyptian when I was around 6-7) and then Greek I much prefer Greek though.Thanks again for the help

Dominique on December 13, 2019:

Can a Hellenistic call themselves a witch I worship the greek dietes but I don't want to give up all other witchcraft and give up calling myself a witch. Do I have to?

Rachael Lefler from Illinois on November 18, 2019:

I feel like I'm being drawn to this pantheon, and that I have a particular calling to this culture, perhaps from a past life. I have received visions from Aphrodite and Athena in the past and right now I have a feeling that I am going to receive a blessing from Dionysus soon, possibly something to do with theater. You can pray to the Muses or a particular Muse for creative inspiration too. I'd like to read more on the subject.

Ysabet on August 12, 2018:

While i dont think it is wrong to draw inspiration from ancient sources (such as texts or sculpture) and adapt the Gods to you modern needs (The greek after all did the same with Isis and Mithras).

I think it is a little problematic to adapt “Greek festivals”. In ancient Greek there was no such thing as universal Greek festivals for the different gods. Festivals in ancient Greek was something you did in the community of your polis and something unique to your polis. Every city had its own festivals, its own mythology, its own calendar (to celebrate the festivals). The same way every city its own understanding of their gods and its own pantheon. Religion in ancient Greek was in no way private, the opposite it was very public and very political. (it changed a little in the Hellenistic age – interesting enough that also meant an increasing interest in magic but the underlying principle stayed the same). Rituals and festivals were first and foremost something you did in community to keep the city close together and shape identity. It is the same with mythology, every city had its own storys and they could vary a lot. You can have several different versions of the same myth. Myths were something very fluent to be changed if needed. We only think of it as a canon because of Homer and Hesiod of course, who tried to find a common ground and most of all because of the modern re-telling (and because sooooooooooooo much is lost, we have like 2 percent of left of what did exist).

You also said in another text that the Gods are “are used to being treated a certain way by the ancient cultures that revered them” but that does not mean you can adapt this. The sacrifice of animals was the cornerstone of Greek religion. “Doing something holy” was a synonym for sacrifice (of animals). A holy place was not a place with a temple but a place with an altar. Sacrifice was the one thing which creates the connection between humans and gods (and the gods were very unhappy if there are no sacrifices). There was no meat consumption (none whatsoever!) without sacrifice and rituals. (There were also different animals for different gods, for example dogs were common for Hekate). Of course there were other kind of sacrifices: sacrifice of firstfruits, votive offering (The offering of something because of a vow – you vow to give the god a offering if they do something for you (For example being successful in war) and if the grant you your wish you are obliged to give the Offering) and of course Libation (you cannot drink any wine without libation). And of course prayer accompanies any of these actions.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 08, 2018:

Hi Mallorie; sounds like your grandmother is definitely with you, whispering to parts of you that can 'hear' her but you may not fully consciously realize yet. Bright blessings on your path!

Mallorie on April 05, 2018:

I stumbled across this article browsing the internet. I was brought up in a devout Catholic family. But over the years I have lost my faith in that religion and Christianity alone. I've been researching Paganism for a long time and find that it hits close to my beliefs. I've been obsessed with the Greeks since I was a child. When I was young I was caught saying in front of my mother, once during a storm we were driving home in. I said the gods must be talking tonight. Needless to say she wasn't to fond of me saying that at such a young age. But apparently she said that her grandmother always said that during storms. I guess my great grandmother was fascinated by the Greeks as well. Mom said she could be a little eccentric at times. I never had the honor of knowing her. But I believe she's my spirit guide. My mom always says that I say things exactly like she says them. I'm very interested in reading more information on this particular topic.

Mariana Zapata on December 03, 2017:

Great article!! Very useful :)

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on November 11, 2017:

Excellent; blessings on your path, Michael Turry.

Michael Turry on November 10, 2017:

I'm going to work with Hekate and Pan soon.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 02, 2017:

Hi there; look at that, nothing uneducated or foolish at all about your question! It's a good question, actually.

There's no way to really know off the top of your head which God would be your personal best bets to work with, it's kind of like friends, lovers, mentors-- you meet people, you see who you get along with, and sometimes a relationship develops out of that.

Same with the Gods, in my experience. Sometimes one will court you, they want to work with you and want you to do their work for them. Sometimes you can reach out to those you've felt intrigued by and ask them-- they'll send you an answer (could be yes, could be no, could be wait-- never know).

You could always just create a sacred place, a future shrine somewhere in your home, sit down in front of it with a candle and some incense, call to the Greek God/desses and tell them you wish to honor them, and ask those who want to work with you to reach out to you. Then go to that shrine and say a sort of generic, all-encompassing prayer to the Gods and give it a little time.

In my experience, answers will come... signs, dreams, messages in some way-- sometimes the answers you least expect, lol. I knew someone who called out to the 'Gods of Mt. Olympus' to ask who would have her for their priestess, she came home the next day and found a peacock sitting on her roof above her door, something that's never happened before. Turned out to be a big sign from Hera.

DocVergil on September 13, 2017:

Hello there, this is my first time commenting on something like this so please bear with me if I sound uneducated or foolish! I have been interested in follow in the Greek gods since I was young, but growing up in a heavy Christian Baptist up bringing, it was hard to do research on how to properly worship. Since leaving and being out on my own for the past 5yrs I've been sending prayers to the Gods or Goddess I feel could help me the most. Sending food and prayers that I've find on the internet. But I would truly like to worship them properly. I favor Poseidon and Hades because they have had the most influence in my life, but I've never really talked to them or any other gods in that case. But my big question(s) here is how do I know which goddess/ goddesses I should be praying to on the norm, and how to properly do so? Thank you in advance for anyone who can help!

Animalgal19 on October 07, 2015:

Thank you and they seem to have the same opinion well my goddess does. My god I ain't repeating his. Blessed be

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 07, 2015:

Hi AnimalGal, thanks for your comment.

As far as which Gods to worship, this is really ultimately between you and your Gods. I would pray to them and ask how they feel about it. If they're okay with it, don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

~Sage

Animalgal19 on October 05, 2015:

Since I was little I had a calling with a certain Greek god. I admit to being stubborn and running off instead of listening to him. After one too many physical signs I accepted him as my God of the god/goddess duo. But my chosen God (Hades) has a bad reputation and even my goddess (Selene). I believe and enjoy the connect with my god and goddess but I had many wiccans disagree with my pairing or think bad of me for my choice. I worry about messing up the connection so how can I find support?

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on February 13, 2015:

Thank you, Elena. I'm glad to hear it and appreciate the comment. Good word, ;o). Glad to be of help.

Elena on February 13, 2015:

Your hubs have helped me so much, but particularly this one! My name is of Greek origin as well as my last name Katsinas. I've always been drawn to the Greek God's and goddess's and have wondered how to helenistasize my craft (I so made up that word) but you catch my drift :) thank you thank you thank you

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 30, 2014:

Hi Odyssia; I've actually found Wicca very effective. While I have nothing but respect for the ancient traditions, I see nothing wrong with their modernized counterparts that fit many people's needs in the world today. I could see how a path might not be effective for someone if it's not a proper fit. But religion and spirituality have always been transforming/evolving... our ancestors 2000 years ago were just performing their transformed/evolved versions of what their ancestors did 2000 years earlier. NeoPagan syncrheticism like Wicca isn't for everyone; but then neither is reconstructionism or ancient Paganism.

Even ancient paths, if you want to see them as authentic, were human developments over time. I don't see modern paths as being any less authentic. Wicca is certainly not authentic Greek, Egyptian or Celtic Paganism... but it certainly is authentic Wicca. Every religion was 70 years old at one time.

As for Roman/Greek counterparts, Romans did have their deities before Greek influence. They just didn't have much imagination as far as stories/back stories/mythology goes. They adopted the Greek stories. I haven't been called by Roman God/desses, though I have had some experience with Janus who is uniquely Roman. So I don't know myself and find it hard to speculate. They could be one in the same... I'll leave it to Roman Pagans to decide if they feel they are worshiping Greek Gods under different names, or different Gods altogether. I honestly have no idea how it works on a divine level, lol.

Good to hear from you again!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 30, 2014:

For me, the Greek Gods captivated me as a child when I first started learning mythology in school. Also a Christian school, btw. As I began transitioning to the Pagan path they seemed the only Gods that I really felt the presence of in my life.

As for your interesting experience, it might have been a calling; or a visitation (they say when spirits are close, scents like flowers is common). I don't think those kinds of callings go away; they might just wait for us to be ready. Thanks for sharing!

Odysseia from ATHENS GREECE on October 27, 2014:

My pleasure WiccanSage and thank you for your kind words. Just saw your response post.

I would like to add one more thing if I may, there is also really no such thing as Roman deities..They're simply the Greek deities with Roman names-that's all. For example, Vesta is actually Hestia, Diana is actually Artemis, Mars is Ares, Jupiter is Zeus etc. The deity is the same-just the name changes.

Recently I ran into an occult store located in New Orleans called Hex and was surprised and dissapointed at the same time to see that they carry some statues of Greek deities. The Gods of Olympus do not have a place in such 'barbaric' places with twisted views of magic. Even the Celts practiced a more 'pure' worsip of their Gods be actually following much of the wiccan ways influenced by ancient Greek mysticism.

As years would pass by many wiccans started to change the authenticity of the ancient mystic rituals. Especially in this century, few wiccans have preserved the ancient traditions of magic/alchemy whether it is Greek, Egyptian, or Celtic. The results?....not that effective....

Aralys on October 23, 2014:

I have always feel the call of the Greek's, I can't recall when I meet them for the first time, I should have been little, but I remember being a 12 years old reding their myths in my school library, ironically a Christhian school (funny thing, they called my satanic because I think diferent to them... just because of that).

I have reserched them whatever way I could and can, internet, books I have collected, librarys and college courses of them, and still fell like I don't know enough.

I have never feel the call of a god in particular, at least not in a conscious way. When I was around 8 years old almost 20 years ago, I remember the essence of roses and incense, and a presence, but it scare me and I told it to go away... I never feel it again, maybe it was a calling but I didn't know.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 15, 2014:

Thanks Odysseia for your comments, I appreciate your knowledgeable input. I certainly agree with you about there not being 'Hellenic Wicca', I even said that in the article. Wicca only existed for the last 70 years and isn't a recon religion; 'Hellenistic' Wiccans are Wiccans who pay homage to the ancient Greek deities; we are not a Hellenic Pagan trad. Mythology is seen as fictional stories that reveal greater truths and mysteries.

Thanks for your insights, and thanks for commenting.

Odysseia from ATHENS GREECE on October 11, 2014:

Thank you WiccanSage for giving such great accuracy in your article on the Hellenic 'wicca'.

One thing I would like to clarify if I may, is that there is really no such thing as Hellenic 'Wicca' but rather Hellenic Alchemy or Hellenic Mageia. The ancient Greeks were basically alchemists, or magoi (witches) because they were worhippers of nature and wise manipulators of the elements. They had divine interpretations for almost everything-from the sound of the wind, to the sound of the leaves, the way the birds flew, paying detailed attention to dreams and omens.

Also, by representing and following the Hellenic worship here in Athens, I would like to say that sadly so, there are many reconstructionists/polytheists (outside of Greece) following the Hellenic Pantheon who are confused about the Olympian deities by doing many rituals wrong and giving false interpretations either by lack of the right knowledge or by not reading the original ancient books.

For example, Apollo is an Olympian God while Hypnos is more of a minor deity which is evoked as an extra necessity sort of thing during a spell or a prayer on a specific issue. Some will give the Gods improper offerings, or think of the wrong sacred colors and/or plants which represent a deity.

Unfortunately also what some people in general tend to do, is give divine names to their pets like Apollo or Zeus (or any other deity for that matter). This is not only wrong but it can bring misfortune to the pet owners as it is mocking to the Gods......The divine names of the Gods should not be even used as usernames on the internet like posting on forums. It was not any coincidence that Crowly's first child died very young. The poor thing was named (among other names) also Hekate......No one messes with Hekate in any way...:)

As far as the 'mythology' term, the Hellenic Pantheon is not really 'mythology' but encoded symbolical meanings with powerful secrets and knowledge. Like the great Pythagoras said ''not everything can be told to anyone''...

The word 'Pagan' is a word which did not exist during the Hellenic era but a word given by Christianity which also destroyed Hellenism and forced the Hellenes to convert and the rest of the world to believe that the Greek Gods are not real........

₪ ΟΥ ΠΑΝΤΑ ΤΙΣ ΠΑΣΙ ΡΗΤΑ ₪ - ΠΥΘΑΓΟΡΑΣ -

Translation: ''Not everything can be told to anyone" PYTHAGORAS

Blessings!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 28, 2014:

Thank you Amethyst, I appreciate your comments and glad you found the information useful.

Amethyst on April 28, 2014:

My birth name Amethyst is Greek, and my family comes from generations upon generations of gypsy witches. When i was old enough to choose my own pantheon, i felt that it was the Greek pantheon that i was drawn to but wasn't until i was an adult that i found the goddess Hekate chose me, i feel this strongly, i hope that one day i will be able to go to Greece! Thank you so much for your awesome info!!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on December 30, 2013:

Most Wiccans will tell you they don't feel like they chose their Gods but their Gods chose them. I think I had a calling by the Greek pantheon at a fairly young age-- something about the myths always spoke to me. Even though I consider myths themselves stories, the Gods behind them I always felt drawn to, a certain reverence and awe of them. You're welcome, anytime!

Ivo on December 30, 2013:

I feel the exact same connection to some of the Greek deities and gods, and I even feel chosen by some of them, like Apollo, or Hypnos, but anyways. Thank you so much for the info and for answering so quick!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on December 28, 2013:

Hi Ivo; Sure you can! I've always felt a greater connection to the Greek deities than those of the Celts or Norse.

That's what the article is about-- I explain how well the Greek pantheon fits with Wicca above, and some of the recommended reading can help you further explore the topic.

Ivo on December 28, 2013:

Hello, I was wondering if I can choose greek deities or gods/goddesses to practice wicca? Because I don't feel that connected to celtic or norse deities.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 06, 2013:

Thanks, Shai, glad you could learn something from reading my hub! Appreciate the comment.

Chen on August 06, 2013:

Interesting; I thought Wiccans worshipped a horned God and triple Goddess. I didn't know they worshipped all Pagan Gods. You learn something new every day. Nice work!

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 05, 2013:

Thanks Nell Rose! I would love to visit Greece-- someday, I hope. I've known a lot of Wiccans who may not be specifically Hellenistic, but certainly do include the Gods in their worship sometimes. Thanks for your comments!

Nell Rose from England on August 05, 2013:

Hi, I love Greece, I have been there five times, Kos twice, Corfu once, and Cyprus twice, and love all the old magical ways. fascinating to see that the fire air earth water came from there. I think most wiccans or the Greek equivalent all mix up and match along the line, fascinating read!