Some Greeks have returned to worshipping the ancient gods, as groups dedicated to the adoration of the Greek Pantheon spring up across modern-day Greece.
Several different organizations and events exist that are working to create modern forms of celebration and ritual around the Greek gods. These groups often believe that Christianity replaced the ancients’ devotion to the gods by violent means and that rediscovering their connection to the gods is a form of reclamation.
Groups such as the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes and the LABRYS religious community are finding ways to “preserve, promote and practice the Hellenic (Greek) polytheistic religious tradition through public rituals, lectures, publications, theatrical and musical events, and other forms of action.”
Many of the worshippers of the ancient gods are modern-day Greeks who seek to revive the Hellenic spirit of ancient times in elaborate, boisterous festivals.
The Prometheia festival is one such example. Prometheia is an annual event which its adherents say “highlights the ancient Greek spirit.” Inspired and made a reality by Stockholm University Professor of Philosophy Dr. Tryphon Olympios, it has now become something of a Panhellenic institution entering its twenty-sixth year of celebration.
The Prometheia Festival injects life into ancient Greek traditions
The festival takes place at the foot of Mount Olympus, the home of the twelve gods of ancient Greece. Unlike LABRYS or the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes, Prometheia is more of an event than it is an institution. It transports Greeks “back to their roots” as Olympios has said, in a lively bacchanal that features costumes and music. However, the purpose of this revelry is to express sincere devotion to the ancient gods, something all of these organizations have in common.
The three-day event is punctuated by ancient poetry, lectures, music, dance, ceremonies, and food. There are even training sessions for would-be spear throwers and sword fighters. The first night sees a parade of hundreds of people in costumes holding torches and marching through the streets of Litochoro.
The rest of the event is held in a meadow just above the town with events each hour. The food, though simple, was surprisingly tasty: a stew of bulgur wheat with chunks of meat served with a goblet of wine.