I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"Hi! I have a few questions about household worship... 1. In the home, does the Hestia flame need to be separate from the sacrificial fire? 2. How do you offer fruit to the Theoi in the home? Do you burn it/do all ouranic offerings need to be burnt? 3. Do prayers come last in a ritual? Which comes first, prayers or offerings? Thank you so much in advance for your time! It means a lot."

1. Back in ancient Hellas, most religious activities surrounding the household revolved around the central hearth, which was seen as the physical manifestation of Hestia. While Hestia has little mythology to Her name, Her worship was a vital part of ancient Hellenic religion. For one, Her flame connected every single Hellenic oikos to each other and the state. All the household fires were lit with a flame from the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night. Every single heart fire in the city or town was linked to that central one, and that central fire was linked to the city from where the settlers of the new village, town or city came. This network of fires, which were never allowed to go out, brought all Hellenes together. In modern worship, we very rarely have a fire burning at all times of the day, so many Hellenes opt to have a candle burning for Her (or a battery powered one when we leave the house). In modern worship we thus usually have a fire to Hestia burning during ritual as well as a sacrificial fire, but since the sacrificial fire is usually lit from the flame to Hestia, it is really an extension of Hestia's flame.

2. Traditionally speaking--which is what I practice, so that's the answer you're getting when you ask me things--yes, all Ouranic sacrifices should be burned. Sacrifices to heroes too, by the way, and even some Khthonic sacrifices were burned. The ancient Hellenes burned things (like sacrifices, incense, but also the firebrand to make khernips) because smoke was the only way the sacrifice reached the Ouranic Gods. That's how the sacrifice traveled to Olympos and how the sacrifice itself became sacred. Pure. Not burning sacrifices, traditionally speaking, is promising the gods sustenance and giving them an empty plate along with a message saying "just imagine it's food. I'm sure you'll feel full". Of course, I--and hopefully They--know it isn't always possible, but I do advocate burning sacrifices if at all possible.

3. Sacrifice was and is the highlight of Hellenic ritual. In ancient Hellas, communal sacrifices almost always included animal sacrifice. Worshippers processed to the ritual site, consciously leaving the mundane behind. The scent of incense would have filled the air, and hymns would have been sung. They cleansed themselves with lustral water (named khernips) and sprinkled the area and altar with it. All participants threw barley groats onto the animal, the ground and the altar to sow good fortune. The hymns would have continued until libations were made in or around the fire. This signaled the start of prayers. After the libation, the person who would kill the animal would have taken the knife and cut a lock of the animal's hair. Swiftly, the lock would be tossed into the fire as a warning of the impending sacrifice. The tension would have reached its height at this time and with a swift motion, the animal's throat would have been cut. All of its blood was collected and later dripped onto the fire or--in case of a smaller animal--dripped onto the fire directly. Women would scream, possibly to cover up the dying sounds of the animal, and then the tension would have most likely been broken and the ominous mood turned festive: while the entire animal belonged to the Gods, They saw fit to give much of it to Their followers for rare meat consumption. Then, Hestia received the last libation.

Modern worship is organized somewhat the same way as ancient sacrifice was. Perhaps needless to say: modern worship rarely includes animal sacrifice, although meat sacrifices are more common. We start with a procession (no matter how short) toward the altar, where we purify ourselves and the space around us with khernips. We also sow barley groats. This is not only a form of purification, it was the start of the process of kharis where the strewing of barley groats on and around the altar of the Theoi is like a spiritual sowing to reap the benefits of later (asked for through prayer later on in the rite). As such, the barley that we use is whole form, just like it is for actual sowing of the crop.

During the procession, songs are sung, and once purification is performed, a hymn is sung or proclaimed. Hymns are sung to please, to bring forth. It is a way to celebrate the deity in question, but also to make Him or Her more inclined to grant the following request. Prayers are next on the agenda. A prayer is carefully formulated to convey a message as persuasively as possible to the God, and was thus often spoken. The idea is not to please, but to request. They make use of the established and just now strengthened kharis to petition the Gods for aid. Where the hymn is an offering to go along with material sacrifice, the prayer is not an offering at all. To soften the request, prayers are often accompanied by the sacrifice--the main event of the rite.


"Do you think it's "reconstructionist" to honor specific Gods on the solstices and equinoxes? Like during your daily libations? Even though we don't know of any festivals that historically took place on those days, would it be "okay" just to add hymns and libations for certain Gods on those days? Maybe also do some secular seasonal decorating? What do you think?"

A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year (around 21 June and 21 December) as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. An equinox occurs twice a year as well (around 20 March and 22 September), when the plane of the Earth's equator passes the center of the Sun. At this time the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. In essence, during an equinox, the period of time the sun is down (night time) and the sun is up (daytime) is roughly the same. The ancient Hellenes observed these four points in the year, and because of that, the ancient Hellenic calendar is partly solar: the solstices and equinoxes are anchor points for the otherwise lunar calendar.

Depending on the city-state, one of these four points was picked for the start of the new year. Athens and Delphi had the summer solstice, Boeotia had the winter solstice, and Milet started out with the autumnal equinox, but moved the new year to the spring equinox around the end of the 4th century BC. This anchor point was the most important; the rest were used to check the accuracy of the calculations.

Is it reconstructionistic to honor specific Gods on the solstices and equinoxes? That depends on which Gods you honor on the equinoxes and solstices. We know there were festivals celebrated on or around the time of these anchor points:

The Galaxia was closely associated with the Spring/Vernal Equinox.
The Kronia was closely associated with the Summer Solstice.
The Eleusinian Mysteries were celebrated around the autumnal Equinox.
The Poseidea was closely associated with the Winter Solstice.

If you want to associate other deities with these dates, feel free, but honestly, with a calendar of roughly 70 festivals throughout the year, I personally do not feel the need to add modern ones.


"How do you celebrate Noumenia on the night before? The night before is the dark of the moon, in all reality, so shouldn't it be Hene Kai Nea? But Hene Kai Nea is the night/day before the dark of the moon, then Noumenia starts on the night of the dark of the moon and ends the next day. How are we celebrating the first sighting of the moon if we are doing it before the moon ever appears in the sky and we say the day is over before the moon has a chance to appear? That makes no sense to me."

One of the most important and confusing of the many Hellenic festivals is the three-day transition from month to month. Although unlinked, the Deipnon, the Noumenia and Agathós Daímōn are held on consecutive days, around the new moon. Especially the placement of the days is hard to get right; at least, it was for me.

The Deipnon (Hene kai Nea)--or Hekate's Deipnon--is celebrated any time before the first sliver of the new moon is visible. In practice, this is the day after the new moon. The Noumenia is held the day after that, when the moon has become visible again, and Agathós Daímōn the day after that. It is important to note that the ancient Hellens started a new day at sundown the day before. Instead of starting a new day at midnight--or in the morning--like we do today, they started it at sundown of the previous day. This means that--when applied to modern practice--the Deipnon starts on the day of the suspected new moon, and the rest follows after, to the total of four days. Confused yet? How about a schematic. In this example, we'll assume that the sun goes down at six P.M. on all days.

Day 1:
All day - (suspected) new moon
6 P.M. - start of the Deipnon (Deipnon night)

Day 2:
All day - day after the new moon
6 P.M. day 1 to 6 P.M. day 2 - Deipnon (Deipnon day)
6 P.M. - start of the Noumenia (Noumenia night)

Day 3:
All day - second day after the new moon
6 P.M. day 2 to 6 P.M. day 3 - Noumenia (Noumenia day)
6 P.M. - start of  Agathós Daímōn (Agathós Daímōn night)

Day 4:
All day - third day after the new moon
6 P.M. day 3 to 6 P.M. day 4 - Agathós Daímōn (Agathós Daímōn day)

In general, you celebrate the Deipnon at night time on the day of the Deipnon, so after sundown on day one. Many Hellenists spent the day of the Deipnon (day two, until sundown) cleaning and taking out things like the recyclables; getting everything ready for the new month. The Noumenia starts at sundown on day two. Typically the bulk of the Noumenia rituals is done in the daylight hours, so on day three until sundown. Personally, I do a nighttime ritual on day two after sundown for Selene, as She is a moon Goddess and honoring Her when the first sliver of Her becomes visible is important to me. I also honor Her during the daytime on day three. At sundown on day three, Agathós Daímōn starts. The ritual aspects are usually held in the daylight hours, so on day four, until sundown.
I hope this makes it clearer!
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for Mission Blue! Together, they have raised $ 90,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!

The earth's oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, they are the Earth’s largest life support systems. Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe. At any given moment, more than 97% of the world’s water resides in oceans. Oceans provide a sixth of the animal protein people eat. They’re the most promising source of new medicines to combat cancer, pain and bacterial diseases. Living oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change. The diversity and productivity of the world’s oceans is a vital interest for humankind. Our security, our economy, our very survival all require healthy oceans.

Yet, we're systematically destroying them. Pollution, logging, dredging, draining of wetlands, and coastal development are all factors that lead to marine habitat destruction and the death of entire species of marine life. We're reaching a tipping point. Before long, the oceans won't be able to sustain our way of life anymore. Once this happens, the earth's atmosphere will become incapable of sustaining us, and we will all die. This says nothing about the billions of animals dying a year, the tons of junk we drop in the oceans, leading to dead zones where nothing can grow, and on, and on, and on.

Mission Blue hopes to preserve the healthy ocean we have left, and restore dead zones by creating Hope Spots. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

World renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions across the planet. While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than four percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before July 7th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
PAT rituals for Hekatombaion:

  • 4 Hekatombaion - 28 June 2017 - Aphrodisia - festival of Aphrodite and Peitho (Persuasion), where the temple was purified with dove's blood, the altars cleansed, and the two statues washed
  • 12 Hekatombaion - 6 July 2017 - Kronia - festival in honor of Kronos
  • 16 Hekatombaion - 10 July 2017 - Sunoikia - community festival in Athens. Sacred to Athena. Two-day celebration every other year
  • 21 Hekatombaion - 15 July 2017 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, (Hekate &) Artemis at Erkhia
  • 23 Hekatombaion - 16 July 2017 - The Panathanaia (First day) [nighttime]
  • 30 Hekatombaion - 24 July 2017 - The Panathanaia (Last day)

Anything else?
Mission Blue has become Pandora's Kharis' Skirophorion 2017 cause. The earth's oceans are the largest ecosystems on Earth, they are the Earth’s largest life support systems. Yet, we're systematically destroying them. Pollution, logging, dredging, draining of wetlands, and coastal development are all factors that lead to marine habitat destruction and the death of entire species of marine life. We're reaching a tipping point. Before long, the oceans won't be able to sustain our way of life anymore. Once this happens, the earth's atmosphere will become incapable of sustaining us, and we will all die. This says nothing about the billions of animals dying a year, the tons of junk we drop in the oceans, leading to dead zones where nothing can grow, and on, and on, and on.

Mission Blue hopes to preserve the healthy ocean we have left, and restore dead zones by creating Hope Spots. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

The deadline to donate is today, June 24, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
June 28, at 10 am EDT, we will hold a rite for Aphrodite Pandamos and Peitho, as on this day, the fourth of Hekatombaion, They were traditionally honored during a festival of unification. Will you join us?

Pandêmos (Πανδημος) occurs as an epithet of Aphrodite. It identifies her as the Goddess of low sensual pleasures, and the epithet is often translated as 'common to all the people'. She united all the inhabitants of a country into one social or political body. In this respect She was worshipped at Athens along with Peitho (persuasion), and Her worship was said to have been instituted by Theseus at the time when he united the scattered townships into one great body of citizens.

According to some authorities, it was Solon who erected the sanctuary of Aphrodite Pandemos, either because her image stood in the agora, or because the hetaerae had to pay the costs of its erection. The worship of Aphrodite Pandemos also occurs at Megalopolis in Arcadia and at Thebes. 'Pandemos' also occurs as a surname of Eros.

Peithô is the personification of persuasion, seduction and charming speech. She was worshipped as a divinity at Sicyon, where she was honoured with a temple in the agora. Peitho also occurs as a surname of other divinities, such as Aphrodite, whose worship was said to have been introduced at Athens by Theseus, when he united the country communities into towns, and of Artemis.

At Athens the statues of Peitho and Aphrodite Pandemos stood closely together, and at Megara, too, the statue of Peitho stood in the temple of Aphrodite, so that the two divinities must he conceived as closely connected, or the one, perhaps, merely as an attribute of the other. For our rite, we will honour both divinities separately.

There is actually not much known about the Aphrodisia. It was most likely linked to the synoikismos, or unification, of the Attic demes into poleis, or city-states. In early Hellas, ancient society was split between the 'demos', country villages, and the 'asty', or 'polis', the seat of the aristocracy. The distinction between the 'polis' and the 'demos' was of great political importance in the ancient states. There was much antagonism between these two bodies, the country and city. In the city-states of ancient Hellas, synoecism occurred when the 'demos' combined with--usually by force--a polis to form one political union. The most notable synoikistes was the mythic or legendary Theseus, who liberated Attica from Kretan hegemony and gave independency back to Hellas under leadership of Athens. Like the Synoikia that was celebrated in a few days--which was a truly political festival and we will thus not celebrate it--the Aphrodisia seems to celebrate Theseus' efforts.

An inscription on a stele of Hymettian marble found near the Beulé Gate at the site of the aedicula on the south-west slope of the Acropolis may tell us something of the preparations for the Aphrodisia festival. Dated between 287 and 283 BC, the inscription records that at the time of the procession of Aphrodite Pandemos, Kallias, son of Lysimachos of the deme of Hermai, was to provide funds for the purification of the temple and the altar with the blood of a dove, for giving a coat of pitch to the roof, for the washing of the statues, and for a purple cloak for the amount of two drachmas.

From this and other ancient sources, we can conclude that the first ritual of the festival would be to purify the temple with the blood from a dove, which we know is the sacred bird of Aphrodite. Needless to say, we won't do this, but we do encourage you to give your altar a good scrub! Afterwards, worshippers would carry sacred images of Aphrodite and Peitho in a procession to the sea to be washed. In Cyprus, participants who were initiated into the Mysteries of Aphrodite were offered salt, a representation of Aphrodite's connection to the sea, and bread baked in the shape of a phallus (feel free to make some of those!). During the festival it was not permitted to make bloody sacrifices, since the altar could not be polluted with the blood of the sacrifice victims, which were usually white male goats. This of course excludes the blood of the sacred dove, made at the beginning of the ritual to purify the altar. In addition to live male goats, worshippers would offer flowers and incense.

As a celebration of the unfication of Attica, the Aphrodisia festival may seem redundant, since the Synoikia festival also took place in the month of Hekatombaion, between the Aphrodisia and the Panathenaia. Yet, without help of Aphrodite Pandemos and Peitho, whose powers bring people together, unification would not have been possible. While the Synoikia celebrates a very specific event that is no longer current, the Aphrodisia celebrates not only Aphrodite (and Peitho) as divine, but also represents the beauty of community, solidarity, and the end of strive. In this day and age where it seems the entire world is at war, we offer sacrifice to Aphrodite and Peitho humbly in hopes that They will interfere and lay to rest this terrible animosity.

Will you be joining us on June 28? Join the community here, and download the ritual here.

The Museo del Prado, with the collaboration of Fundación Iberdrola España, a Benefactor of the Museum’s Restoration Programme, has restored the monumental bronze head from its permanent collection and has identified the subject as Demetrius I, a Hellenistic general and king. The sculpture is one of only a very few known surviving Hellenistic bronzes, dating from around 307 BC and an exceptional example due to its size and quality. It measures 45 cm high and would probably have belonged to a monumental statue of approximately 3.5 meters high. It is now on display for the first time since its recent restoration. This reports the Archaeological News Network.

Prior to restoration the physical state of the head of Demetrius Poliorcetes revealed its long and eventful history over the centuries as well as the signs of numerous previous restorations. In order to preserve it in the past the original surface of the work had been covered with layers of adhesives, polishes and paint.

Technical studies undertaken prior to embarking on the head’s restoration revealed important information on the casting process and on the history of this portrait. They also indicated problems of stability of both the metal in itself and the structure, information essential for establishing the aims of the restoration process and the most appropriate treatments to be employed.

The key aims of this project have been to recover the sculpture’s original surface and colour in order to make it more visually legible; stabilize and protect the materials of which it is made, particularly the bronze; and reinforce the internal structure in order to avoid structural tensions such as the ones that produced the cracks, through the design of a stable and resistant support that does not cover areas of the original surface.

The restoration process consisted of removing the resins, adhesives, protective layers and polishes applied to the surface of the bronze in the past; the correct repositioning of various fragments that had been incorrectly reattached; and the design of new and reversible supports in specific areas.

Following the work’s restoration and in order to ensure its future conservation a special support was designed, lined with buffering material and functioning to distribute the sculpture’s weight across it, thus avoiding pressure points where the work rests on it. In addition, a platform was designed with concealed handles that can be pulled out and used to move the sculpture in a safe manner without any need to touch it directly.

Identifying the work’s subject was a complex undertaking as it has no distinctive attributes or features that clearly correspond to those of a portrait. The head’s ambiguous typology varies depending on whether it is seen from the front or in profile. The frontal view corresponds to the ideal typology found in Greek art for depictions of gods and heroes, such as those created by the Greek sculptor Scopas around 340 BC. In contrast, profile views of the head reveal features characteristic of a portrait; a bulging, muscular forehead, relatively sunken eyes, an oblong face and a slightly open mouth.

Alexander the Great, who was represented as a god and a hero, was the first to employ this type of portrait, which was subsequently imitated by the generals known as the Diadochi who succeeded him. A marble portrait found with other portraits of Hellenistic rulers in the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum and which has been interpreted as a portrait of Demetrius Poliorcetes, has the same type of monumental head as the Prado example, with a similar hairstyle and the same features, also found in another marble portrait in Copenhagen.

Following the death of Alexander in 323 BC, the diadem, a band tied round the brow to signify absolute power over Asia, became the most important emblem of the Hellenistic kings. This diadem, however, is not to be found on the present portrait of Demetrius Poliorcetes or on other similar ones. In the present day this absence complicates any identification of portraits of the Diadochi. It is possible that after the death of Alexander none of them dared to have themselves depicted in a way that resembled him.

In 307 BC, Antigonus I and his son Demetrius I, the latter aged around 30, were proclaimed kings by the Athenians, but according to the Greek writer Plutarch both avoided using the name of king as it was the only royal attribute exclusively reserved for descendants of Philip and Alexander. A year later, in 306 BC, when Demetrius Poliorcetes defeated the fleet of the Diadoch Ptolemy (367 – 283 BC) off Cyprus, the assembly of the army in Macedonia declared Antigonus I and his son Demetrius kings of Asia and sent them the diadem as successors of Alexander. In that case, the absence of a diadem on the present work suggests that the Prado bronze was created prior to that event, in 307 BC, when Demetrius Poliorcetes and his father Antigonus I were kings of Athens.
...well, I will be. Reebok Spartan Races have finally made it to The Netherlands, and I registered to do a Spartan Sprint. Since I haven't done an obstacle course before, I figured I'd best start "easy": 5 km (3 miles) running punctuated with twenty obstacles ranging anywhere from scaling walls, crawling under barbed wire, climbing ropes, hauling, dragging or carrying heavy weights, swimming in mud, and jumping over fire.

Spartan races are increasing in popularity in terms of events (170 in 25 countries this year) and participants (1 million last year) of all skill levels. In addition to the US races it designs and organizes, Spartan will usually license its international races. Those non-US Spartan races adhere to the company's brand, product and safety guidelines, and the company provides oversight, guidance and support.

Of course, the historic Spartans are primarily known for their military strength and discipline. Spartan boys were raised to be soldiers and toughened by deprivation of basic needs. The ultimate disgrace for a Spartan was surrender, a philosophy that endures today among those who compete in Spartan races. As a throwback to ancient Hellas, an announcer traditionally asks the crowd, "Who am I?" at the start of each race. The yelled response is "I am Spartan!" followed by the war cry "AROO! AROO! AROO!"

For some people, Running Spartans is a career. Winning enough of these events--especially when you add the financial rewards of sponsorship deals etc.--can land elite racers a hefty sum. I'm not in it for that. I am in it to see if I have what it takes to go through an ordeal like this. And yes, it's devotional for me too.

Traditionally speaking, dedicating activity is not a way to honor the Gods. After all, it does not relate to Them directly, does not strengthen our bond with Them and They get nothing out of it. If I run and complete a Spartan, it's not going to establish kharis. But Hellenismos is a religion of Gods and ethics. Both matter and they strengthen each other. We are called by the Theoi to practice arete, the act of living up to one's full potential. The term arete was applied to anything and anyone superior. It is linked to knowledge and wisdom as well as physical beauty. It could even be applied to an exceptionally well crafted vase, the person who made it or even the seller, who sold it for more than it was worth. Needless to say it is also applied to those who live an ethical life.

Living up to arête is not easy: it challenges up to be our best mentally, physically, and spiritually. It means taking control of our life, to become an active participant in it. To keep trying to reach your goals, no matter what setbacks you suffer. That is the exact spirit of a Spartan race: to overcome literal obstacles that might seem beyond your ability to overcome.

I beast it out in the gym, on a bike or pounding the pavement almost every day, in order to be the best physical version of myself I can be. And I will definitely be calling on the Gods before my run, as well as send Them praise once I have completed the race--because I will finish the race, no matter what. That's the Spartan way, after all.
As Hellenists, we often accept the Gods of our pantheon as a solid block, handed down through the ages as a package deal that magically came into being at the start of the Hellenistic era and did not change during it. Nothing could be father from the truth. Many, if not all members of the Hellenic pantheon were imported into it from other places or the remnants of older religions. Zeus is the Greek continuation of '*Di̯ēus', the name of the Proto-Indo-European God of the daytime sky, Hera most likely already existed for the pre-Hellenic people who moved into the area. Archaeologists suspect that Athena, Médousa and Poseidon found their origins in Libya. They came to Hellas through Crete at the dawn of Hellas. In the beginning of Her rein, Athena may have been a snake and fertility Goddess and Poseidon solely a God of horses. Aphrodite's oldest non-Greek temple lay in the Syrian city of Ascalon where she was known as Ourania, an obvious reference to Astarte. Hekate's worship most likely originated in Thrake. I really could go on and on and on.

The process by which elements of one religion are assimilated into another religion resulting in a change in the fundamental tenets or nature of those religions is called syncretism. The ancient Hellenes practiced syncretism in two ways. The first is a straight-up adoption of a deity into the pantheon by way of mythology. Dionysos is a good example. He may have been worshipped as early as 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks, but traces of Dionysian-type cult have also been found in ancient Minoan Krete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thrakian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner, and in some, he was simply born into the pantheon as a "late addition".

This form is what is termed "interpretatio graeca", the Hellenic habit of identifying Gods of disparate mythologies with their own. When the proto-Greeks first arrived in the Aegean and on the mainland of modern-day Greece early in the 2nd millennium BCE, they found localized nymphs and divinities already connected with every important feature of the landscape: mountain, cave, grove and spring all had their own locally venerated deity. The countless epithets of the Olympian Gods reflect their syncretic identification with these various figures. Interpretatio graeca was practiced outside of Central Hellas at a very large scale in the Archaic period.

Very roughly speaking, the reign of ancient Hellas can be divided into the periods: The Archaic period (800 BC - 480 BC), the Classical period (480 BC - 323 BC) and the Hellenistic period (323 BC - 146 BC). Before the Archaic period, there was no Hellas. As the Mycenaean civilization fell, it signaled the end of the Dark Ages. The founders of ancient Hellas founded their own script, based off of the Phoenician alphabet and small social hubs began to emerge. Because the land they lived on was divided into islands, or intercut with mountains, many of these hubs were self-governed. Many wars were fought over the next 300 years or so, as the cities Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes tried to expand their land, work force and supply of raw materials. For the Hellenic religion, this age was a formative age. The various tribes of the Dark Ages brought their Gods with them as they traveled the land and settled in different places. Various Gods with overlapping domains were worshipped in different parts of the region, forming a cohesive but unstructured whole. There are varying incarnations of Gods and Goddesses and their abilities and strength vary greatly across the land.

The Classical period is the best know period. The Classical period was the foundation of modern Western politics, architecture, scientific thought, literature, and philosophy. It was also the age of Athens; most of what we still know about ancient Hellas comes from records from this city who was at its greatest during the two centuries of the Classical period. This was also the Age of the Olympians. Many of the old Gods got merged into single personas with different epithets to accommodate local worship. This more unified faith was introduced to many of the city states and although it was never a unified whole, this was the closest the ancient Hellenic religion ever got to being a solidified faith.

The Classical period was also the time of the Decree of Diopeithes. Diopeithes (Διoπείθης) was an Athenian general who lived during the 4th century BC. Having gone through the horror of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians, as Thucydides puts, “decided to enjoy their lives as fast as possible, giving in to pleasures, for they were convinced that life and wealth were equally short-termed. […] They believed that there is no difference between piety and impiety […] because no one believed they’d survive, and thus, the time to answer and get punished for their crimes would never come.” It was the rapid spread of immorality and uncivilized behavior that led the Athenians in 431 BCE to casting their vote for the Decree which made asebeia (impiety) illegal.

If anyone disrespected the Gods of the polis, the Decree of Diopeithes would be applied and the individual prosecuted. This is exactly what happened to Socrates: although he was deeply religious, he was sentenced for impiety and executed in 399. Next to impiety becoming a punishable offense, it became illegal to worship any Gods outside of the established pantheon. Exceptions were sometimes made, but there were a lot of hoops one had to jump through to get the building of a temple approved--especially in Athens. In the case of Thrakian Goddess Bendis, it took the decree of the oracle of Dodona to grant land for a shrine or temple in the Attic region. Although Thrakian and Athenian processions remained separate in the city, both cult and festival became so popular that in Plato's time (429-413 BCE) its festivities were naturalized as an official ceremonial of the city-state, called the Bendideia was introduced.On the fringes of the Hellenic nation syncretism was still practiced.

At the start of the Hellenic period, ancient Hellas was at its largest. Alexander the Great had conquered lands as far as Asia Minor, Assyria, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Media, Persia, and parts of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the steppes of central Asia. After Alexander the Great died, there was no logical successor. He left his empire to 'the strongest' and thus his generals fought a forty year battle which resulted in four major domains. Next to those four, much of mainland Hellas and the Hellenic islands remained at least nominally independent, although often dominated by Macedon. The four domains, called dynasties, were:

The Antigonid dynasty in Macedon and central Hellas;
The Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt based at Alexandria;
The Seleucid dynasty in Syria and Mesopotamia based at Antioch;
The Attalid dynasty in Anatolia based at Pergam.

The divide of the rule of Hellas into four dynasties led to a second form of syncretism: one which showed syncretist features, essentially blending Mesopotamian, Persian, Anatolian, Egyptian (and eventually Etruscan–Roman) elements within an Hellenic formula. The Hellenic Gods continued to be worshiped, and the same rites were practiced as before. Athens, Sparta and most cities in the Greek mainland did not see much religious change or new Gods (with the exception of the Egyptian Isis in Athens), while the multi-ethnic Alexandria had a very varied group of Gods and religious practices. Wherever the ancient Hellenes went, they brought their religion, even as far as India and Afghanistan. Non-Hellenes brought Egyptian, Jewish, and a great variety of local Gods into the pantheon. A common practice was to identify Hellenic Gods with native Gods that had similar characteristics and this created new fusions like Zeus-Ammon, Aphrodite Hagne (a Hellenized Atargatis) and Isis-Demeter.

To summarize, during the formative age of the Hellenic state, many local cults were absorbed into a pantheon that solidified into the whole we are so familiar with. This pantheon was protected, especially at the heart of the nation, by decree of lawmakers, but once the Hellenic nation became too large to sustain itself and fell apart, the religion became adaptive. Wherever the ancient Hellenes lived, they saw their Gods in the local cults and thus they adopted Them when they were in great enough numbers to do so.

Syncretism is practiced to this day. Many modern worshippers are drawn to Gods outside of the  pantheon formed in Classical Hellas. In general, the rule of thumb to practice syncretism in a Hellenic fashion is to identify which Hellenic deity the external deity is closest to, to maintain the base Hellenic style of worship for this deity (Ouranic or Khthonic, for example, and by way of the usual steps to proper worship through procession, purification, hymns and prayers, and sacrifice), and then to add elements of the worship of the external deity into that practice. What these are will depend heavily upon the external deity and Their pantheon of origins, so I can't give advice on that. Syncretic practice requires a lot of trial and error to find a blend that respects both Gods and both Their cultures. This is why it's essential to link the external deity to a Hellenic one: it'll allow you to focus the worship by way of domain and/or mythology.