Hellenic Reconstructionism is a neopagan revival religion that took off in the late 20th century along with a whole bunch of other revival religions around that time.
Like other reconstructionists, practitioners of Hellenism tend to value historical accuracy, elaborate rituals, and authentic experiences.
Let’s take a look at this fascinating practice.
What is reconstructionism?
Reconstructionists are kind of the religious conservatives of modern paganism. While they vary widely on the spectrum, generally, reconstructionists aim to practice ritual as closely as possible to the way it was practiced many centuries or even millennia ago.
Celtic, Germanic, and Egyptian reconstructionists also exist.
(If you have biological or ethnic roots in any of these cultures, it can be interesting to explore reconstructionism and learn more about your roots).
Some reconstructionists go to serious lengths to reproduce authentic rituals, including reciting rituals in the original ancient language, wearing traditional dress, and using ritual procedures gleaned from texts that date back thousands of years.
Pretty intense! If you’ve ever been to one, it can be a very surreal experience.
This isn’t Grandma’s Guide to Polytheism. These people are invariably well-read, historically minded, and expertly knowledgeable.
Reconstructionist Hellenism is not mainstream paganism by any stretch, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
Why are Neopagans so fascinated with Ancient Greece?
No pagan culture in the history of the world connotes a more magical time than that of ancient Greece.
Swathed in trailing silks, gods swooped invisibly out of the sky to interfere theatrically with the lives of their worshipers.
Seekers traveled from faraway lands to kneel before the Oracle at Delphi, bearing laurel branches and the weight of their deepest inner personal struggles to find answers in living prophecy.
Surrounded by a fertile landscape of lush agricultural tradition, altars were piled high with offerings of red wine, olive oil, frankincense, and honey.
Art, theater, poetry, and philosophy were threaded with divine themes and supernatural conjuring, enjoying a gilded era that still shines its light on our world today.
It is no mystery why the ancient pantheon of this celebrated civilization has enjoyed a rediscovered popularity among neopagans in the last century.
This is not meant to be an oversimplification.
Understand that Hellenic Reconstructionism is a complex community.
Fierce debates over historical accuracy, procedure, politics, and hierarchy exist.
We’re not going to get into all that today.
This post is meant to be accessible to anyone with even a passing interest. Regard it as such.
Do Hellenic Reconstructionists really believe in the old gods?
Yes. Or they claim to. Who knows what anyone believes?
But at the very least, there are a number of organized groups that attempt to worship the old pagan gods in a historically accurate way.
The Greek pantheon is large, complex, and beautiful. But the following deities are some of the most famous that you are likely to be familiar with.
Aphrodite: Perhaps the most famous love goddess in ancient mythology. A nice choice if you are a young woman with a dreamy or romantic disposition.
Apollo: God of musical talent and artist inclinations.
Athena. Goddess of intellect, strategy, and wisdom.
Dionysus: God of festivals, celebration, wine, and general indulgence.
Hera: Goddess of childbirth, marriage, and women’s matters.
Poseidon: God of the sea.
Interested in Hellenic Reconstructionism?
If this all sounds interesting to you, make sure and do your research before you dive in.
Not all practitioners go to extreme lengths or get obsessed with a perfect fundamentalist interpretation of the historical text.
But there is a sense of reverence and respect for these traditions. Practitioners of Hellenism aren’t just “playing dress up” and it isn’t a theatrical production.
Most take careful pains not to mock an ancient tradition unwittingly. Find out what symbolism is appropriate, what mythology is important to know, and how it fits into your own personal philosophy.
What are Hellenic altars like?
Household altars were typical in Ancient Greece as well as modern Hellenic reconstructionism.
Each god and goddess has his or her own traditional offerings, but common ones include:
The purpose of an offering is to cultivate a relationship with something higher and show symbolic reverence for the divine.
TLDR: Hellenic Reconstructionism is a modern religion that attempts to worship the old gods of Ancient Greece in a way that is both historically accurate and sincerely spiritual.