Thursday, February 01, 2007

Gimme That Old Time Religion

Last month, Neo-pagans held a ceremony in honor of Zeus at an ancient temple in Athens. It was probably the first openly pagan ceremony there since the 4th century when the Romans banned the worship of Greek gods and goddesses.

A group called Ellinais won a lawsuit last year forcing the state to recognize ancient religions.

Dressed in ancient costumes, worshippers standing near the temple's imposing Corinthian columns recited hymns calling on the Olympian Zeus, "King of the gods and the mover of things," to bring peace to the world.

"Our message is world peace and an ecological way of life in which everyone has the right to education," said Kostas Stathopoulos, one of three "high priests" overseeing the event, which celebrated the nuptials of Zeus and Hera, the goddess of love and marriage.

To the Greeks, ecological awareness was fundamental, Stathopoulos
said after a priestess, with arms raised to the sky, called on Zeus "to bring rain to the planet."

A herald holding a metal staff topped with two snake heads proclaimed the beginning of the ceremony before priests in blue and red robes released two white doves as symbols of peace. A priest poured libations of wine and incense burned on a tiny copper tripod while a choir of men and women chanted hymns.

"Our hymns stress the brotherhood of man and do not single out
nations," said priest Giorgos Alexelis.

More here.