Demos Manual

Version 1.0 (10/16/01)
Compiled by Drew Campbell


    • 1.1 Organizational structure of Hellenion
    • 1.2 Organizational Structure of the Demoi
    • 1.3 The Relationship between National & the Demoi
    • 1.4 Joining Hellenion
    • 1.5 The Role of the Demos in Electing Bouleutai
    • 2.1 Requirements for Founding a Demos
    • 2.2 Proto-Demoi
    • 2.3 Applying for a Charter
    • 2.4 Choosing a Demos Name
    • 2.5 Demos Governance Options
    • 2.6 The Demarkhos and Other Officers
    • 2.7 Boule Elections
    • 2.8 Leadership Skills
    • 2.9 Keeping in Touch
    • 2.10 Revocation of Charter
    • 3.1 National Membership Policies: Non-Discrimination and Restrictions
    • 3.2 Finding Members
    • 3.3 Beyond Worship: Meeting Members’ Needs
    • 3.4 Guests
    • 3.5 Minor Members
      • 3.5.1 Younger Members
    • 4.1 Reporting & Meeting Requirements
    • 4.2 Scheduling
    • 4.3 Communications
    • 4.4 Handling Finances and the Role of Tamias (Treasurer) by Dennis Dutton
      • 4.4.1 Job Description for the Tamias
      • 4.4.2 Chart of Accounts
      • 4.4.3 General Journal
      • 4.4.4 Income Statement
      • 4.4.5 Balance Sheet
      • 4.4.6 Special Reporting
      • 4.4.7 Conclusions
    • 4.5 Business Meetings
      • 4.5.1 Setting the Agenda
      • 4.5.2 Discussion and Decision-making
      • 4.5.3. Prayer for Successful Meetings
    • 4.6 Group Dynamics and Conflict
    • 4.7 Some Resources for Handling Conflict
    • 4.8 Specific Problems
      • 4.8.1 Differences Regarding Reconstruction and Innovation in Ritual
      • 4.8.2 Holding Single-Gender Festivals or Other Events
      • 4.8.3 Differences in Theology among Members
      • 4.8.4 Involvement in the Pagan Community
      • 4.8.5 Interfaith Efforts
      • 4.8.6 Political Causes
      • 4.8.7 Other Common Problems
    • 4.9 Disruptive, Offensive, or Abusive Conduct
    • 4.10 When to Contact National about a Problem
    • 4.11 Demos Library and Other Resources for Members
    • 4.13 Buying Land and Other Property by Peter Gold
      • 4.13.1 Who Owns the Stuff?
      • 4.13.2 Who Should Buy Land?
    • 5.1 Where to Worship
      • 5.1.1 Home-Based Worship
      • 5.1.2 Rented Space
      • 5.1.3 Outdoor Worship
      • 5.1.4 Accessibility
    • 5.2 Scheduling Worship
    • 5.3 Publicity for Worship
    • 5.4 Welcoming Guests and Newcomers
    • 5.5 Service Programs and Music
    • 5.6 Ritual Etiquette
      • 5.6.1 Cleanliness & Miasma
      • 5.6.2 Suitable Attire
      • 5.6.3 Holy Silence
      • 5.6.4 Tasting the Sacrifice and Libations
      • 5.6.5 The Feast
    • 5.7 Other Concerns
    • 5.8 Innovative Ritual in the Context of Reconstructionism
    • 5.9 A Sample Ritual: Outline for a Group Offertory Rite in Greek and English
    • 5.10 Ritual Resources, Online and Print
    • 5.11 Ritual Preparation Checklist
    • 5.12 Practical Notes for Organizing a Festival
    • 5.13 Fellowship Activities
    • 6.1 Theoroi and the Demoi
    • 6.2 Theoros Candidates & Required Practicum
    • 6.3 Evaluating Theoros Candidates
    • 6.4 Selecting and Installing Theoroi
    • 6.5 About Titles
    • 7.1 Public Classes, Lectures, and Other Events
    • 7.2 Community Service
    • 7.3 Limits on Political Action
    • 7.4 Speaking for Hellenion or the Demos
    • 7.5 The Demos and the Law
    • 7.6 Handling Community Opposition
    • 7.7 The Pagan Community
    • 7.8 Other Interfaith and Multifaith Efforts


1.1 Organizational Structure of Hellenion

Hellenion is a US-based religious organization (“church”) dedicated to the revival and practice of Hellenic polytheism. We approach Hellenic religion from the Reconstructionist perspective, which includes both an emphasis on historical precedent and respect for personal spiritual inspiration. We offer local congregations, study opportunities, and fellowship for those who worship the Olympians and the other deities of ancient Greece in a traditional way. Hellenion is incorporated as a nonprofit religious corporation in the state of California. Hellenion is a single, national organization that charters local congregations, known as Demoi. Both the national organization and the Demoi have an open membership policy. The Demoi are not exclusive clubs, but venues for fellowship, education, and, above all, the worship of our gods. Individuals join Hellenion at the national level and may choose to participate in their local Demos, or, if none exists, to found a new Demos. They may also choose to remain solitary, while still taking advantage of the educational resources or other offerings of the national organization. The organization is governed through a system of representative democracy.

1.2 Organizational Structure of the Demoi

Hellenion strives to offer maximum local congregational autonomy consistent with the survival, identity, and well-being of Hellenion as a whole. Worship in the context of the Demos must fall into what we, as a group, have defined as “Hellenic Reconstructionism.” For what we mean by this term, and what it includes and excludes, please see our Mission Statement. Each Demos may choose any Hellenic focus, pantheon, liturgical language, or calendar of interest to the majority of its members. For example, one Demos may focus on reconstructing the worship of Demeter as it was practiced at Eleusis, while another may have a special devotion to Olympian Zeus and hold agones (competitions, games) in his honor. This Demos might choose to follow the Spartan religious festival calendar, while that Demos uses the Athenian calendar. A Demos in Puerto Rico might hold worship services in Spanish and/or Greek. Demoi are encouraged to explore the diversity of our spiritual heritage.A Demos may be governed by any method that is mutually agreeable to its membership, as long as it allows for each member to have a voice in the running of the Demos. For more on this topic, see below.

1.3 The Relationship between National & the Demoi

In keeping with our commitment to local congregational autonomy, Hellenion (hereafter “National”) sets policies for matters that affect the organization as a whole, such as study curricula, but leaves the bulk of the day-to-day running of worship services, classes, and the like to the Demoi. Demos control includes, but is not limited to: (a) methods of congregational governance; (b) choice of liturgical focus and scope (patron deities, calendars, festivals); (c) community service; (d) the endorsement and installation of clergy (see below); (e) the recognition of private vows to the gods; (f) the celebration of life cycle events, such as weddings.Hellenion does not dictate to its members how they should worship in private; this is a matter for each individual to decide. Nor does the organization prevent members from networking to form private associations of like-minded individuals, but these groups remain separate from Hellenion. Members of Hellenion are also free to join other groups, as they see fit. In general, Hellenion does not take official positions on politics or other issues not directly related to our religion. Members are free to act as their consciences direct them in such matters.Demoi are required to submit an annual report to National detailing their activities. They are also subject to any policies set by National for the whole organization.

1.4 Joining Hellenion

Members join at the national level and may also choose to join a Demos, or form one themselves, if none yet exists in their area. Those who do not choose to affiliate with a Demos may still avail themselves of the organization’s various study programs or other offerings.There are three types of membership provided for in our bylaws:

(a) Regular Members
Regular members are those individuals paying the full annual amount. Regular membership is required for candidates and holders of elected offices within Hellenion and of clergy. All such candidates and office holders must be at least 18 years of age.

(b) Lifetime Members
Lifetime members are those individuals making large donations of money or service to Hellenion, as shall be determined by the Prutaneis. They are entitled to receive all materials and privileges of regular members and shall be considered current with their dues for the rest of their lives. All instances in these bylaws which refer to regular members also refer to lifetime members. A person must have been a regular member for a minimum of five consecutive years before being granted or accepted for lifetime membership.

(c) Minor Members
Minor members are those individuals paying a lesser amount than regular annual dues. Minor membership is open to individuals under the age of majority. This membership requires proof of parental/guardian consent or consent of the court. Minor members are able to participate in Hellenion, but do not have voting powers at the national level. Voting powers at the local level are left to the discretion of each Demos. Upon proof of attaining majority, the minor membership will automatically be updated to a regular membership with all of the rights implied.

To join, the prospective member must complete an application form and send it with annual dues payment (currently $20/year for adults and $10/year for minors) and proof of age to the organization’s email or mailing address, which can be found on our Website. Membership applications are available for download from the web site ( or by request from the postal mailing address. (Please enclose a business-size SASE.)

1.5 The Role of the Demos in Electing Bouleutai

The Demoi play a special role in the election of representatives to the Boule (council). Each duly chartered Demos is permitted to appoint one Bouleutes (representative) to the Boule for every 25 members of the Demos. Here are the bylaws sections relating to Boule elections; section C explains the role of the Demoi.

  1. The Boule shall consist of one Bouleutes elected at-large for every 25 members of Hellenion, rounded up, as of July 1st prior to the annual election of Bouleutai except as detailed in section 1C of this article.
  2. Each member of Hellenion, except as detailed in section 1C of this article, shall cast one vote per candidate for as many individual candidates as there are open positions on the Boule.
  3. Each Demos of 25 or more Hellenion members shall appoint one Bouleutes for each complete multiple of 25 Hellenion members belonging to that Demos. All members of a Demos that appoints one or more Bouleutai shall not vote in the at-large election for Bouleutai, nor shall any such members be counted in the membership census for the number of Bouleutai to be elected. An individual maybe belong to more than one Demos, but shall only be counted for voting and chartering purposes as belonging to one specific Demos.


2.1 Requirements for Founding a Demos

Three adults are required for the formation of a Demos. These individuals must fulfill the following requirements (cf. Bylaws Article 4.2):

  1. They must be members in good standing of Hellenion (i.e., have applied and been accepted to the National organization, be up-to-date on dues, and not have had their memberships revoked).
  2. They may not all be members of the same household (i.e., living at the same address).
  3. They must apply for and be issued a charter (see 2.3 below).

2.2 Proto-Demoi

If there are insufficient members to form a Demos in a given locale, one or two Hellenion members may request permission from the Prutaneis to form a “Proto-Demos”–that is, a provisional congregation. A letter of intent should be sent to the Demos Support Director giving basic information about the proposed Proto-Demos: the name, geographical area served, proposed events, mailing address, and so on. The group should apply for a charter as soon as its membership numbers allow.

2.3 Applying for a Charter

Qualified individuals wishing to found a Demos must fill out an application for a charter for the Demos, specifying the name of the proposed Demos (see 2.4 below) and its officers. Applications are available on our web site ( and by request from the Prutaneis. A copy also appears in the appendix. They should then submit the application to the Prutaneis for assessment. There is no charge for applying, or for the charter.

2.4 Choosing a Demos Name

As part of the charter application process, the proposed Demos is asked to choose a name for itself. This name must take one of two forms: “__________ Demos, Hellenion” or Demos of ___________, Hellenion.” Names may be in Greek or in English or both. They should express something about the Demos: its location, patron deities, etc.If choosing a Greek name, please be sure that it is grammatically correct! If no one in the Demos is proficient in Greek, ask other members or the Prutaneis for help.Demoi are also encouraged to choose a logo, motto, or any other symbol of their common religious purpose. Variations on the Hellenion national logo–substituting another image for the central hearth flame, for example–are permitted. Such information need not be included on the charter application form, but it is helpful to inform National of any such usages once they are established by sending a copy of the image, motto, etc. to the Demos Support Director.

2.5 Demos Governance Options

Hellenion National runs primarily by a system of representative democracy, as explained above. Demoi are free to choose other governance options, such as consensus or simple majority vote, as long as these do not prevent individual members from having a voice in the running of the Demos.

2.6 The Demarkhos and Other Officers

Demoi are required to have three officers: a Demarkhos (deme leader), a Grammateus (secretary), and a Tamias (treasurer). These are necessary for accountability and for the required reporting to National. How these offices are distributed is left to the discretion of the Demos; however, no individual may hold more than one of these offices simultaneously.Even if the Demos is relatively small, it is recommended that elections for officers and other leadership positions be held regularly–annually or at minimum biannually. This helps prevent stagnation and overwork and allows for smooth and timely change of leadership when appropriate.

2.7 Boule Elections

As mentioned above, the Demoi play a special role in the election of representatives to the Boule. Each duly chartered Demos is permitted to appoint one Bouleutes (representative) to the Boule for every 25 members of the Demos.It is left to the discretion of each Demos to determine how its members will choose Bouleutai. Most will choose a simple majority vote, but other options, including selection by lot, are both historically founded and acceptable. All Bouleutai must be members in good standing at the time of the election and must have reached the age of majority.

2.8 Leadership Skills

Leading any group well requires certain skills, organizational as well as interpersonal. This is all the more true in a religious context, where members may bring profound emotional and spiritual, as well as practical, needs to the table.It is beyond the scope of this manual–and at this time, the National organization–to provide direct training of Demos leaders. Further, we believe that it is in keeping with our commitment to maximum autonomy for the Demoi to allow each Demos to select its leaders by their own lights.However, to assist in this endeavor, we offer the following list of considerations:

  • Are the leadership candidates reliable? Do they show up when and where they say they will? Return phone calls or email? Follow through on projects they undertake?
  • Are they accountable? Do they admit and take responsibility for their mistakes? Correct the problems and make amends when appropriate?
  • Are they stable? Free of any personal problems–addiction; untreated mental or physical illness; major, ongoing financial or relationship crises–that might interfere with their ability to do the necessary work?
  • Are they organized? Can they find important papers when they need them? Their cell phone? Their keys?
  • Are they honest? Do you trust these people? Are you comfortable having them handle money? Other property? Personal information?
  • Are they honorable? Would you be comfortable having this person speak for your Demos, both to National and to others?
  • Can they delegate responsibility when necessary? Are they committed to “sharing the wealth” of responsibility with other members of the Demos as needed?
  • Are they sufficiently knowledgeable about our religion and Hellenion to take on a leadership position?
  • Do they realistically have the time to perform the job given their existing personal and/or professional obligations?

In addition, here are some group-process skills that may be helpful for leaders of Demoi (as well as national leaders and Theoroi):

  • Gatekeeping, or guiding discussion in such a way that all participants get a chance to express their ideas and opinions
  • Clarifying and summarizing points of discussion
  • Conflict resolution, or helping participants understand points of disagreement and find potential solutions that respect everyone’s interests
  • Recognizing when differences are irreconcilable, and helping the group learn to live with them or part amicably
  • Moving the discussion toward consensus–or at any rate, decision–by identifying diversions and refocusing attention on goals and priorities
  • Achieving closure smoothly when essential work is completed or an appropriate stopping place is reached.
    (From Amber K, Covencraft, p. 33, lightly edited)

Leaders will also want to familiarize themselves with the normal “life cycle” of small groups. Although this information is too complex to include here, a good summary can be found in chapter 27 of Amber K’s Covencraft, pp. 341-351. (As is the case with all references to this book, the reader should be aware that the author is writing for and about another religion, so some specifics may not be directly applicable to the Demos.)

2.9 Keeping in Touch

Demos leaders are strongly encouraged to keep in close contact with National and with other members of Hellenion through the Internet mailing lists provided for that purpose, and by other means. Not only will this help them keep abreast of new policies and programs of the organization, but it will also provide them with ongoing practical and spiritual support for their local efforts.

2.10 Revocation of Charter

National reserves the right to revoke the charter of any Demos that has become inactive; that has a pattern of denying participation to members without sufficient cause; that is practicing a religion other than Hellenic Reconstructionism; that refuses to follow National’s policies or bylaws; or with other just cause. The bylaws specify, “[a] vote on revocation of the Demos charter shall be held after a minimum waiting period of three months after suspension. The vote to revoke a charter shall be held at a Prutaneis meeting of which the full Hellenion voting membership has been invited and informed of the agenda. Failure by the Prutaneis to revoke a Demos’ charter results in immediate reactivation of the Demos.”


3.1 National Membership Policies: Non-Discrimination and Restrictions

Hellenion has a strict non-discrimination policy to which Demoi are also subject:

“Membership in Hellenion and attendance at public and semi-public Hellenion activities shall not be denied to any person on the basis of race, ancestry, color, physical disability (except as mentioned elsewhere in this article), age, gender, or affection orientation, but may be denied to individuals practicing creeds inimical to Neopagan Hellenic Reconstructionism.”

“Inimical creeds” are defined in the bylaws as “varieties of conservative monotheism, atheism, demonism, racialism, or other such faiths and practices as shall be determined by the Prutaneis.”The bylaws also note that “[a]ll organizers of public and semi-public Hellenion activities shall make strenuous efforts to facilitate the participation of differently-abled individuals. Nonetheless, such activities as the Prutaneis or local Demoi may designate may be held in places naturally inaccessible to some.”Finally, the bylaws specify that, “all aspirants to any given position must be able to meet all the relevant qualifications previously determined for said position, unless the Prutaneis shall rule otherwise in a particular instance.”

3.2 Finding Members

One of the first challenges a new Demos will face is finding members. Our numbers are still small, and even many self-identified neopagans have never heard of us. We trust that that situation will soon change!Here are some suggestions for ways to let people know about the Demos:

  • Put up flyers in local bookstores or cafes friendly to our religion.
  • Place a classified ad or calendar listing in a local pan-pagan publication.
  • Contact the local university pagan or interfaith group and ask to be added to their resource listing.
  • Announce events on local pan-pagan or Hellenic Internet mailing lists. (Do not include home addresses or phone numbers, however!)
  • Volunteer to speak about our religion at pan-pagan festivals, conferences, and other events.
  • Give a talk on some aspect of our religion at the local metaphysical shop.
  • Send press releases to the local newspaper.
  • Tell your friends and family!

Notices should include contact information (voicemail, email address) and clear information about the group or event:

Friendly Demos, Hellenion, a local Hellenic Reconstructionist congregation, invites you to an open ritual celebration of the Panathenaia! Come honor the goddess Athena and thank her for her gifts in this traditional Greek rite. Gather at noon on July 1st in the northwest corner Lovely Public Park, near the intersection of Oak & Vine Sts.; worship begins at 12:30 sharp. A potluck feast follows. All are welcome. For more information, call Platon at (101) 555-1212 or email

Or to seek members for a proto-Demos:

The Gods of Olympus Live! Do you honor the ancient Greek gods? Are you interested in traditional forms of worship? Do you value scholarship and inspiration? We are currently forming a Demos (local congregation) of Hellenion, a national Hellenic Reconstructionist organization, here in Cowtown-Hicksburg area. Please call Demosthenes at (101) 555-1212 or visit our Web site at for more information.

3.3 Beyond Worship: Meeting Members’ Needs

A common set of beliefs is not enough to keep most people involved in a religious group. People seek out religious communities for a variety of reasons–intellectual, emotional, and social, as well as spiritual. It is therefore desirable for Demoi to provide opportunities for fellowship as well as for worship.Since Hellenic clergy are not charged with the “care of souls” as are their Christian counterparts, and many Demoi may not have any clergy as members, the need for social and emotional support becomes the responsibility of the congregation as a whole. What can your Demos do to serve the needs of its members? Study opportunities, Demos suppers or picnics, nature walks, and plain old informal socializing all help people feel connected. Larger groups tend to have more problems with members feeling out of the loop or isolated, and so may benefit from a more formal approach to the issue. How about developing a system of “guest-friendship” in which more experienced members agree to host one or two newer members as dinner guests once a month? Informal, ad hoc social groups, even if not formally sponsored by the Demos, can also help increase feelings of trust, comfort, and belonging among the members.

3.4 Guests

Guests, as nonmembers of Hellenion, should not be permitted to hold office or to vote in Demos elections. Those who have been attending regularly should be invited, though never pressured, to join Hellenion. (For more on guests at worship services, see below, section 5.4.)

3.5 Minor Members

There are some special considerations for Demoi that include minors, particularly minors whose parents are not members of the Demos. Such minor members must, of course, have written permission of a parent or guardian to join, but they are also subject the civil laws relating to alcohol consumption and other for-adults-only activities. It is advisable for the clergy or other leaders to speak with the parents or guardians about the content and form of our worship so there is no misunderstanding.The law protects the rights of religious groups to allow for modest alcohol consumption by minors in a religious context, such as communion or Kiddush. Therefore, a minor member of Hellenion may be allowed to take a sip of wine during libations, but they should not consume wine or other alcoholic beverages at the feast afterwards.Likewise, minors should not be exposed to nudity, sexual activity, drug use, or other activities or situations prohibited by law. (In fact, the entire Demos is subject to all civil laws in their locale, and failure to observe these is grounds for expulsion from Hellenion.)

3.5.1 Younger Members

Although the above comments apply to all legal minors, there are additional considerations for younger members, especially those from toddler through elementary school age.Parents will, of course, decide to what extent they wish their children to participate in our religion, but Demoi that include families should actively encourage children’s involvement by providing Children’s Education and age-appropriate ritual opportunities. Historically, Hellenic children began to participate in the ritual life of the broader community after age 3, and indeed, a child of that age can carry a basket of bread or fruit in the procession. It goes without saying that all children should be supervised, and that this remains the responsibility of the parents unless the Demos as a whole wishes to provide for additional childcare.For ideas on including children in worship, please contact the program director for Children’s Religious Education or the Prutaneis. A list of children’s books appropriate for religious use appears in the section on the Demos Library (4.11).


4.1 Reporting & Meeting Requirements

The leadership of each Demos is required to send an annual written report to National; the report is due on July 1. It should include the names of all elected officers (with any changes to the leadership clearly indicated); a detailed report of the Demos’ activities for the year, including rituals, classes, and all other events; copies of brochures, flyers, programs, and other publications.In addition, the Tamias (treasurer) of each Demos is required to file financial statements with National on a quarterly basis.In order to retain its charter, each Demos must hold a minimum of six meetings, the majority of which must be open to the public. These must be documented in the annual report.

4.2 Scheduling

It is desirable to schedule all events well in advance, so that members can regularly include group worship, study, and fellowship in their lives. Some groups have successfully scheduled a full year’s worth of festivals in advance, and this is particularly helpful if the Demos membership is spread over a relatively large geographical area. When possible, festivals should be celebrated on weekends to accommodate those whose jobs would prevent them from participating during the week and those who may need to travel to attend. It may be necessary to rent or otherwise secure a somewhat larger space for festivals, as they tend to be more elaborate than everyday worship. Care should be taken to assure that any necessary permits (for use of parks, for example) are obtained and any local zoning regulations observed.In addition to festivals, most Demoi will want to hold regular weekly, semi-weekly, or monthly worship services. These may be more or less formal in tone, but should of course follow our religion’s usual format of prayer and offerings to the gods. Which gods are honored at any given time is left to the discretion of the Demos, but should reflect the needs of the members and the larger community. It is helpful to have a regular time and place for such worship. Supplications and thanksgivings for the special needs of individuals or families may also be carried out in the context of the Demos, as may life cycle celebrations.Finally, many Demoi will want to offer regular opportunities for study and fellowship outside of worship. National can provide information about Basic Adult Education, Continuing Adult Education, and Children’s Religious Education and other study programs. Demoi are also encouraged to offer their own Adult Continuing Education classes in keeping with the skills and interests of their members.When scheduling all events, stay flexible and in tune with the needs of the Demos’ members. If the congregation includes many stay-at-home parents with small children, it may make sense to schedule a playgroup or Children’s Ed class on a weekday morning. Those who work on weekends will appreciate having some events scheduled on weekday evenings.A full monthly schedule for an established Demos with a special dedication to Athena might look like this:

June 22: Hekatombaion 1: Noumenia Rite
June 24: Athena Devotional (plus Children’s Religious Education)
June 25: Monthly Board Meeting
June 26: Biweekly Parents’ Group
June 27: Study Group: The Iliad, Book IX
July 1: Open Ritual to All the Gods (plus Children’s Religious Education)
July 4: Study Group: Special outing to lecture on Homer at local university
July 5: Monthly Clergy Support Group
July 8: Open Ritual (plus Children’s Religious Education)
July 10: Biweekly Parents’ Group
July 11: Study Group: The Iliad, Book X
July 15: Panathenaia Festival (plus Feast)
July 18: Study Group: The Iliad, Book XI
July 20: Hekate’s Day/Monthly Memorial Rite

4.3 Communications

The Demos should develop a system for informing its members, and the public, of upcoming events, elections, and policy changes, and for distributing any other materials, such as newsletters or application forms. This system may include email lists, a phone tree (useful for last-minute changes due to illness or bad weather), and mailings. Larger groups may wish to appoint a communications officer to handle these tasks.The Demos should arrange for the secretary and other officers to have a supply of letterhead for official correspondence. This need not be professionally printed if cost is an issue; a single laser-printed sheet can be photocopied inexpensively. The letterhead should include the name of the Demos, its mailing address, and any logo; the Hellenion National logo may also appear.Every Demos should have a post office box, and, if possible, voicemail. For the privacy and safety of all members, the home addresses and phone numbers of the leadership or other members should never be circulated outside the Demos.

4.4 Handling Finances and the Role of Tamias (Treasurer) by Dennis Dutton

The job of Tamias (treasurer) is complicated and I can’t teach everything that you’ll need to know in a short essay. In addition, I’m not an expert. I have a little knowledge and a willingness to take on the job. What I’ll do in the following is give a brief overview of the job and the tools of the job. Fortunately, for a small group, the IRS and large corporations are less strict (hopefully, I can learn on the job by the time we become a large corporation).

4.4.1 Job Description for the Tamias

The responsibilities of the Tamias can be separated into two categories: bookkeeping and accounting. Bookkeeping is keeping track of anything with a monetary value that comes in or goes out of the group. Accounting is the reporting of the financial status of the group to the IRS, contributors and investors.Obviously, the Tamias must be honest and able to handle their personal finances. They should be good with numbers, good with a spreadsheet or both. Less obviously, they should have a good attention to details and should deal with issues in a timely manner. (It’s easier to take care of one small thing a day for thirty days then it is to take care of those same thirty things on one day). Finally, they should be able to handle change and should have good study habits as accounting rules are continually changing.

4.4.2 Chart of Accounts

The first tool or “financial vehicle” to be considered is the Chart of Accounts. This is a listing of every financial category, every contributor and every vender. Each item has an associated number since it’s easier to tell 4000 from 5000 then it is to determine if John Doe and J. Q. Doe are the same person. These account numbers should be categorized to make it easier to analyze the other reports.The categories that I’m currently using:

Asset Accounts (100-199):
Assets are resources of a person or business as cash, securities, goodwill or real estate.
Liability Accounts (200-299):
Liabilities are moneys owed, debts or obligations.
Capital Accounts (300-399):
Capital is wealth (money or property) owned or employed in business; assets remaining after deduction of liabilities.
Revenue Accounts (400-499):
Revenues are increases in assets or decreases in liabilities (i.e. we get something of value).
Expense Accounts (500-599):
Expenses are decreases in assets or increases in liabilities (i.e. we lose something of value).
Receivables / Contributors (4000-4999):
Strictly speaking, receivables are people or companies that owe us money. In this case, the definition is expanded to include any source of income.
Payables / Vendors (5000-5999):
As with receivables, payables are people or companies that we owe money to. Again, the definition is expanded to anyone we pay money to. However, this only includes vendors that are paid more than once. One-time payments go into the “Other” category with the actual name in the “Notes” column.

A partial sample of a Chart of Accounts follows:

101 Cash or Cash Equivalents
103 Contributions Receivable
201 Accounts Payable
301 Capital Stock
401 Contributions, Unrestricted
403 Contributions, Temporarily Restricted
405 Contributions, Permanently Restricted
409 Annual Membership Dues
511 Post Office Box Expense
513 Bank Account Expense
519 Administration Expense
553 Membership Support Expense
555 Demos Support Expense
4000 Jane Doe
4002 John Q Public
5000 U.S. Post Office
5001 Mail Boxes Etc.
5002 Bank of America

4.4.3 General Journal

Next are journals, ledgers, general journal or general ledger. A journal keeps track of a single account (such as the “Cash or Cash Equivalent” account above) and records everything that goes into or leaves that account. A ledger is the same as a journal with an additional column for the balance of the account (e.g. current status). A general journal keeps a running record of activity in all of the accounts and the general ledger is a general journal with a balance column. These come in many different forms and the distinction between journal and ledger is sometimes loosely defined. For a small organization, a single general ledger/journal is sufficient. A sample of the form that I use is below with an explanation following:

  • “Date” is the date from the receipt, bank statement, or other documentation.
  • “Debit” is the financial account that the monetary value comes out of.
  • “Credit” is the financial account that the monetary value goes into.
  • “Contributor” is who pays the monetary value and is left blank if the source is the “Debit” account.
  • “Supplier” is whom the monetary value is paid to and is left blank if the destination is the “Credit” account.
  • “Amount” is the amount of this individual transaction.
  • “Balance” (in this case) is the amount of cash in the bank.
  • “Notes” are any additional explanation that is needed.

Two things to keep in mind are 1) All transactions must have some sort of documentation (receipt, check, etc.), and 2) all transactions must be recorded with only the necessary information.

4.4.4 Income Statement

Journals and ledgers are functional documents and should be designed to serve the function of tracking financial activity. The Income Statement is a presentation of summaries of the revenues and expenses of the organization to show how the money is spent. There are many forms of this document but, since it is for presentation to the government, the contributors and to potential contributors and creditors, there are many requirements on the contents of the document. Two important features for small, non-profit groups are the classification of contributions and the categories on the statement.A “For-Profit” business collects money from sales and services but the sources of this revenue usually have very little say in how the money is spent. For a “Non-Profit” group, contributors sometimes give money for whatever use is required to support the purposes of the group (called “Unrestricted Contributions”). Sometimes the contributors say, “I want to contribute to this goal.” (Called “Restricted Contributions”). There are also “Time-Restricted Contributions” and various ways to handle left over monies after the restrictions have been fulfilled or the time has expired. These all have to be accounted for separately. (If possible, try to persuade your contributors to not put restrictions on contributions until there is enough to hire an accountant to sort it all out.)The categories that are required (currently) are “Revenues”, “Expenses”, “Gains”, “Loses” and “Reclassifications”. “Gains” are increases to assets other than “Revenues” and “Losses” are decreases in assets other than “Expenses” (fire, theft, etc.). “Reclassifications” are from left over restricted contributions after the restrictions have been fulfilled or the time restriction has been fulfilled. These contributions usually become “Unrestricted Contributions”.

4.4.5 Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet is a presentation of the assets and liabilities of the group to show what its monetary value would be if it was dissolved at this moment. Since this is a presentation document like the income statement, those receiving the presentation define its content. On the other hand, for a small starting group, the only asset is cash and, until a credit history is developed, there will be few assets.

4.4.6 Special Reporting

There are many other types of financial vehicles, but the small starting group should keep things simple and learn new methods as they become necessary. Below, I’ll discuss a couple of reports that have become necessary early in our development.


When the starting group doesn’t have a couple of years of financial history, creditors and the government want to see a budget for one or two years to indicate the intention to spend money responsibly. After the first year, the budget should show the previous years budget, the actual expenditures, the difference and the planned expenditures for the next year. The important thing is to be reasonable in what you expect and to leave some margin for errors (planned income should be greater than planned expenses).

Contributions Receivable

A Receivables Statement is usually a statement of what is owed to the group so I have probably misnamed my purpose for this document. One of the requirements of the state of California (and possibly others) is that no single contributor is allowed to contribute more than 10% of the total income. To track the contributions, I use this document to name each contributor and the amount and percentage that they have contributed. This is not currently for public record but for internal management.

4.4.7 Conclusions

Bookkeeping is simple once you get used to it but accounting is very complicated and constantly changing (that’s to keep accountants employed). A small starting group should do the minimum necessary for tracking and reporting purposes, should automate as much as possible, and continually learn new methods as they continue. A couple of sources I have found invaluable are:

  • Richard F. Larkin and Marie DiTommaso, Wiley Not-for-Profit GAAP 2000, Interpretation and Application of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Not-for-Profit Organizations (ISBN 0-471-35111-3)
  • Ronald J. Thacker, Introduction to Modern Accounting (ISBN 0-13-487942-2)

The first is probably available for 2001 or 2002 and the latter is a textbook from a college accounting course over 20 years ago (so is probably out of print).As the organization gets larger and we get several Tamiai, we can start an email list to share experiences and skills we have learned.

4.5 Business Meetings

Once the Demos has received its charter, it will be necessary to hold regular business meetings. Depending on how active the congregation is, these may be held as frequently as every month or as infrequently as every quarter. Business meetings are the time to discuss finances, group policy, schedules, and any other issues relating to the day-to-day running of the Demos.Business meetings are best held separate from any worship services or other activities, and the dates, times, and locations of such meetings should be announced to the Demos well in advance. (As with worship, it helps to set a regular time for business meetings.) Officers should make every effort to attend all business meetings.If the Demos is relatively small (3-8 persons), the group may want to make all business meetings open to the entire congregation. If the group is larger, or any of the agenda items are particularly sensitive in nature, the officers may choose to meet privately. However meeting attendance is handled, it is desirable that the Demos be informed as soon as possible about any policy decisions or other important matters that affect them. Likewise, financial records should be available for inspection by the membership and by National.In order for a meeting to run smoothly, it is vital to have (a) a predetermined agenda; (b) a predetermined method for making decisions (voting, etc.); (c) a way of regulating the discussion to avoid tangents or distractions (this is usually the responsibility of the person chairing the meeting, such as the Demarkhos); and (d) a set starting and stopping time.

4.5.1 Setting the Agenda

One way to set the agenda is to make one person–perhaps the Demarkhos or Grammateus–responsible for it. Anyone who wishes to have an issue placed on the agenda must contact that person by a set time–say, three days before the meeting. The agenda should be distributed to all attending the meeting, and notes taken throughout by the Grammateus. These notes (“minutes”) are then typed up and distributed at the next meeting, along with the new agenda. Usually, the first order of business is to review the minutes from the previous meeting and either approve them or make any necessary corrections. The minutes should be archived for future reference.Here is a sample agenda:

Arete Demos Board Meeting
July 1, 2001
7:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
1. Opening Prayer led by Th. [Theoros] Sophia
2. Review of Minutes for June 1, 2001 Meeting
3. Tamias Report
4. Clergy Report
5. Publicity Committee Report
6. Old Business [items unresolved at previous meetings]: Final preparations for Panathenaia (cleaning, food)
7. New Business: Co-sponsor local Pagan Pride event in September?
8. Closing Prayer

4.5.2 Discussion and Decision-making

Many groups find Roberts Rules of Order useful; these need not be followed strictly in smaller groups to be effective. Another option, which is particularly useful in medium-size and open meetings, is the use of the “scepter.” This is described in the Iliad as a sign of authority and appears in a scene in which the leaders of the Achaians meet in council. It may be used like the “talking stick” that is found in other religions, especially when there is concern that the opinions of the less forthright members of the community might be overlooked.Depending on the form of governance used by the Demos, decisions will usually be made by majority vote or by consensus. It is vital to decide in advance which form will be used.

4.5.3. Prayer for Successful Meetings

Many religious groups begin their meetings with a prayer; we know that the ancient Greeks did so before meetings of councils and the like. Here is an example of a prayer that could be used to begin a Demos business meeting:

Hear, O Zeus Boulaios, and accept our offering! Athene Polumetis, accept this wine! [Pour libations.] May our meeting tonight be fruitful, serving your will and the needs of this Demos. May our minds be clear, our hearts clean, and our actions just. Bless this council with your wisdom, o gods. Houtos esto! May it be so!

4.6 Group Dynamics and Conflict

Leaders should be aware of the basics of small group dynamics. Most important is to recognize that members of small groups, especially religious ones, bring all manner of personal baggage with them–some useful, some not. It is not uncommon to find that a “difficult” person is playing out an old emotional pattern, but casting the group’s leaders or other members in the roles previously played by parents, siblings, or partners. It takes a great deal of sensitivity–and often, harsh experience–to be able to recognize these patterns and bring them to light in a non-threatening way. Leaders facing such challenges are strongly encouraged to seek advice from experienced group leaders through our mailing lists and other support venues.The needs of individuals must be balanced with the needs of the group as a whole, but when it comes down to it, the stability of the group (the good of the many) outweighs the needs of any one individual (the good of the one). In most cases where there is serious, ongoing conflict involving only one individual, the best solution is for everyone to recognize that the individual’s needs are not and cannot be met by the group and that the individual should move on. If the conflict involves a sub-group (“faction”), then serious effort should be made to find a workable compromise position. (In cases where the “faction” wants to do ritual not in keeping with Hellenion’s mission or bylaws and at odds with the majority’s wishes, they can always do so privately outside the Demos setting.) Failing this, it may be best for the “faction” to found its own Demos or another group.

4.7 Some Resources for Handling Conflict

See Covencraft, pp. 403-408 (some examples won’t apply, but it is useful anyway) and Haugk’s Antagonists in the ChurchCovencraft, pp. 245-253 contains some scenarios for discussion–“what if” exercises. Again, the solutions presented aren’t always directly applicable to our religion and group structure, but the exercise is thought-provoking.

4.8 Specific Problems

There are certain perennial issues that experience shows are likely to arise in our community–and, in some cases, in any small religious group. Here are a few suggestions for handling these common concerns. See also the final section of this manual, “The Demos and the Community.”

4.8.1 Differences Regarding Reconstruction and Innovation in Ritual

See section 5.8 for a discussion of this issue. When in serious doubt about the appropriateness of an innovative ritual, bring the subject to National or to the mailing lists for input.

4.8.2 Holding Single-Gender Festivals or Other Events

The appropriateness of single-gender worship has sparked heated debate in our community. Some hold that any form of gender segregation in ritual is inherently sexist and that all rituals that were historically single-gender should be made mixed; others believe that as long as accommodations are made for both men’s and women’s events, there is no discrimination involved.At this time, Hellenion does allow for single-gender worship with the following caveats:

(1) Any gender-restricted events must be clearly designated and publicized as such.
(2) These events do not meet the requirements for an “open” ritual and therefore cannot be counted toward the annual requirement for open rituals. They may count toward the total required number of rituals, however.
(3) Such rituals may be held as private, non-Demos-sponsored events, and this may be preferable if there is conflict within the Demos about their appropriateness.

4.8.3 Differences in Theology among Members

Hellenion’s mission statement emphasizes the primacy of the individual conscience in religious belief. We also recognize that human theologizing may or may not reflect divine reality. Consequently, what binds us together is not so much religious orthodoxy (a set of “right beliefs”) but orthopraxy (a common style of worship).It is also important that members carefully distinguish between (1) the historical, traditional beliefs of our religion, (2) any innovations we have made in response to modern circumstances, and (3) personal inspiration or speculation about religious matters. (The latter are often referred to in the Reconstructionist community as “UPGs”: “unusual” or “unsubstantiated personal gnoses.”) All these are to be valued, but they should not be confused with each other.

4.8.4 Involvement in the Pagan Community

Significant numbers of Hellenion’s membership do not refer to themselves as “pagan” or “Pagan” and fewer still as “Neopagan.” (A popular term is “polytheist.”) Some have serious qualms about the ethics, philosophy, and behavior espoused by others under the pagan umbrella. These people may wish to distance themselves–and the Demos–from the broader pagan community. Others may feel at home in the pan-pagan world; this is particularly true of members who also maintain affiliations with other religions, such as Wicca or Druidism.Ideally, any discussions about involvement with other religions should focus on specific instances, not general trends. In other words, try to determine whether you will participate as a group in a particular local pagan festival, not whether you should ever be involved in pan-pagan efforts.For further discussion of this topic, see also section 7.7.

4.8.5 Interfaith Efforts

What applies to involvement in the pagan community also applies–in spades–to interfaith work. At this time, the Prutaneis reserves the right to approve any proposed interfaith efforts. For more on this topic, see section 7.8.

4.8.6 Political Causes

For legal reasons, Demoi must be extremely cautious when becoming involved in any work of a political nature. (See section 7.3 for why.) Rather than focusing on activism, the Demos should consider taking on a community service activity that promotes the values you espouse as a group. For example, rather than protesting logging, the Demos might sponsor a tree-planting program.All members, but especially leaders, should take care not to give the impression of a group-wide political orthodoxy where none exists. Be sensitive to the diversity of political opinion within Hellenion and our religion as a whole. Avoid statements that imply that all Hellenes do or should hold a particular opinion or that those who differ politically are somehow “bad Hellenes.”

4.8.7 Other Common Problems

[Quotations in this section are adapted from Covencraft, pp. 319-320.]See also section 7 for more on handling problems with the larger local community.

“Lack of interest in the community. Naturally there may be little interest at first, because you are probably an unknown factor. Many potential members still don’t know what [Hellenic Reconstructionism] is. Others have heard of [it], but don’t know you and your [Demos]. It requires a lot of public education, then a lot of trust-building.”

Further suggestions for public education: hold open “Hellenism 101” classes; invite members of other (pagan?) religions to your rituals or host a ritual “show and tell” night with other pagans and/or Reconstructionists; leave brochures at local metaphysical shops. Further suggestions for trust-building: get involved in pan-pagan interfaith efforts.

“-Stonewalling from the community. What if you go to rent a room for an open [festival], and nobody in town will rent you space? You send an announcement to the local newspaper, and it never gets printed? You got to a copy shop to get flyers printed, and their photocopier is “down for repairs”-until you have left. If you run into obstacles everywhere, then you have some basic foundation-building to do. […] [S]tart a long-term program of public education.”

Do lots of public service work to build trust with the community. Be sure your personal appearance and attitude inspire confidence and trust; when meeting with the public, especially government officials or community leaders, dress in a professional and dignified, even conservative, way. If the problem is severe, contact National. (You may want to contact one of the various pagan anti-defamation or legal advocacy groups).

“Attacks from religious extremists. A visible congregation means that you are potentially a target for fundamentalists. In most areas, the attacks will be limited to letter-to-the-editor rantings and perhaps ‘Spiritual Warfare’ prayer sessions. You can live with that. Answer the letters with very calm and informative letters of your own […] and ignore the prayer meetings. If the hostility escalates to vandalism or assault, you have better have your ducks in a row with the local law enforcement authorities. Explain [Hellenic Reconstructionism] to the police chief before there’s a cross burning on your lawn. Then use the law to protect your right of religious freedom.”

There are a number of pan-pagan groups that provide informational brochures and books to give to local law enforcement authorities; some of these may need to be re-worked, as they are mostly Wiccan-focused. One way to get in touch with the police is to contact them for advice before holding an open-air ritual on public land. Get your permits and then make an appointment with someone at the local precinct to ask how to handle interlopers or hecklers. Ask whom you can call at the precinct for help and how you can train your own security people. Also, do some asking around the local pagan community to see if there are any pagan or pagan-friendly officers who might go to bat for you.

“Disruptive personalities in the congregation. Occasionally someone will start attending events who makes everyone else want to stay away. They might be negative, abrasive, sexually aggressive, or just more ‘woo-woo’ than people can deal with (‘Did you know that I receive spiritual guidance from the Neptune High Space Command through my pocket comb?’)”

See the discussion below, keeping in mind Hellenion’s non-discrimination policy. Leaders may want to meet privately with the individual to see if they need direction to a more appropriate group (if they’re not really all that interested in our gods or practices but just looking for something); some professional counseling (all leaders should develop a list of polytheist-friendly counselors and therapists in their area); a little friendly advice (“He’s never going to ask you out, honey; he’s gay”); some reinforcement of community standards (“In our Demos, “no” means “no and don’t ask again.”); or just some personal attention (“So, I hear you just moved to Hicksburg. How are you settling in?”)

4.9 Disruptive, Offensive, or Abusive Conduct

It may happen from time to time that a member behaves in a way that is disruptive, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate. The bylaws define “unacceptable behavior” as “proven communications or behavior of virulently racist, sexist, homophobic, heterophobic, anti-Semitic, or otherwise bigoted character” and state that these “shall be grounds for expulsion from Hellenion.” It should be noted that, “[t]his does not include strong verbal statements about the theology, history, or psychological characteristics of other religions.”The bylaws further define “disruptive or abusive conduct” as “the spreading of slander or libel against Hellenion or its leadership; bigoted communication or behavior as described elsewhere in these bylaws; or active efforts to persuade members to quit or to dissuade nonmembers from joining.”Finally, the bylaws note that the following do not constitute “disruptive or abusive conduct”: “the temperate expression of disagreement, such as public or private written or verbal criticism of Hellenion or its leadership; vigorous debate over matters of scholarship, art, spirituality, or politics; the circulation of petitions to the Prutaneis or Boule; the organizing of other members into voting blocks; nor mere rudeness, thoughtlessness, or lack of social skills.”

4.10 When to Contact National about a Problem

The following section of the bylaws deal with the circumstances under which a member’s affiliation with Hellenion may be investigated or their membership revoked outright and the procedure for such revocation. Should the Demos believe that one of their members falls into a category listed below, or has displayed objectionable conduct as outlined above, they should contact the Demos Support Director or any member of the Prutaneis immediately.”The Prutaneis may, by a two-thirds vote, initiate an investigation into a member’s conduct after either that member has confessed to, or been found guilty of, committing felony crimes-with-victims, as defined by civil law and current criminological opinion, or after having been presented with documented evidence of disruptive or abusive conduct which works directly against the aims, activities, or welfare of Hellenion or its members. The member will be immediately sent a written notice by registered mail to their last known address informing the member of the investigation, the accusations, the accusers, and any evidence pertaining to the investigation. The member will be given 30 days to respond in his/her defense. After considering the member’s response, if any, the Prutaneis may, by a two-thirds vote, suspend or expel the member.”The bylaws further note:”Members who have been suspended or expelled may, at the discretion of the Prutaneis, be banned temporarily or permanently from attending Hellenion activities, including public worship. Such bans shall be published immediately in Hellenion publications and venues. They may be published elsewhere in the case of very serious crimes.”In such cases, rare as they be, Demoi are required to respect any such bans by denying participation in their events to the former member.

4.11 Demos Library and Other Resources for Members

As the Demos grows, and particularly as the members become involved in National’s various study programs, it may be helpful to put together a Demos lending or reference library. The library should be housed in a safe place–preferably the usual site for rituals, if possible–and one regularly accessible to the members. All books should be purchased with Demos funds or donated by members; the library, like other Demos assets, is the property of the whole Demos, not any individuals in it. Therefore, housing it in a member’s home should not be the first choice.Some useful reference books to have on hand include:

4.11.1 General History

  • Prudence Jones & Nigel Pennick, A History of Pagan Europe (London/New York: Routledge, 1995).
  • Thomas R. Martin, Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times (New Haven: Yale UP, 1996).

4.11.2 Primary Sources

  • Homer, Iliad; Odyssey; Homeric Hymns (various editions).
  • Hesiod, Theogony; Works and Days (various editions).
  • [Pseudo-]Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology, trans. Robin Hard (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997).
  • Apostolos N. Athanassakis, ed. & trans., The Orphic Hymns: Text, Translation and Notes (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1977).

4.11.3 Religious History and Sourcebooks

  • Louise Bruit Zaidman & Pauline Schmitt Pantel, Religion in the Ancient Greek City (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992).
  • H. W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1977).
  • Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1985).
  • Jan Bremmer, Greek Religion (Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics No. 24) (Oxford: OUP, 1994).
  • Robert Garland, The Greek Way of Life (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1990) and The Greek Way of Death (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985).
  • Fritz Graf, Greek Mythology: An Introduction (Baltimore/London: John Hopkins UP, 1993).
  • Timothy Gantz, Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, 2 vols. (Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1993).
  • David G. Rice & John E. Stambaugh, eds., Sources for the Study of Greek Religion (n.p. [Atlanta?]: Scholars Press, 1979).
  • Marvin W. Meyer, ed., The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987).
  • Georg Luck, Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Baltimore/London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1985).
  • Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Volume One: Texts (Chicago/London: U of Chicago P, 1996).

4.11.4 Reference Works

  • Lesley Adkins & Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece (New York/Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997).
  • The Oxford Classical Dictionary.
  • Liddell & Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997).

4.11.5 Modern Practice

  • Drew Campbell, Old Stones, New Temples: Ancient Greek Paganism Reborn (Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2000).

4.11.6 Books for Children

In addition to classics like D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, the retellings of Homer by Rosemary Sutcliff, and an illustrated edition of Aesop’sFables, the following titles offer many new and exciting opportunities to introduce Hellenic history and religion to the children in our lives. Unless otherwise noted, these books are appropriate for middle- to upper-elementary age kids, although little ones may enjoy them read aloud.

  • Aliki, The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (ISBN 0064461890). Beautifully illustrated picture book with text that follows Hesiod’sTheogony. Very positive tone. Young elementary and read-aloud.
  • John K. Anderson and Nancy Conkle, A Coloring Book of the Trojan War (The Iliad, Volume 1) (ISBN 0883881799). Authentic images, taken from vase paintings, with text in English and Greek.
  • Rosalie F. and Charles F. Baker, Ancient Greeks: Creating the Classical Tradition (ISBN 0195099400). Biographical profiles of over 35 major figures in Greek history, including Homer, Solon, Sappho, Socrates. Middle school and beyond.
  • Mira Bartok and Christine Ronan, Stencils: Ancient Greece (ISBN0673362558). Written information, including a discussion of the Olympians and a retelling of the Persephone myth, accompanies pop-out stencils and craft projects.
  • Robert A. Brooks, Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece (ISBN 0807865001). 48″ X 35″ illustrated wall chart showing the genealogy of over 200 deities and heroes.
  • Juliet Sharman Burke, Stories from the Stars: Greek Myths of the Zodiac (ISBN 0789202832). Stories and lush watercolor illustrations for each sign of the zodiac.
  • Roy, Burrell, Oxford First Ancient History (ISBN 0195213734). Extensive discussion of the Greeks, from the Bronze Age through the Roman conquest. Includes Crete. Many illustrations.
  • Chris Chelepi, Growing Up in Ancient Greece (ISBN 0816727201). Information on daily life from a child’s perspective. Easier text, less detail, and larger print than How Would You Survive?
  • John Green, Life in Ancient Greece Coloring Book (IBSN 0486275094). Inexpensive book with detailed line drawing to color. Text explains each drawing. Includes images of the Pythia, a Panathenaia procession, and more.
  • Avery Hart and Paul Mantell, Ancient Greece!: 40 Hands-On Activities to Experience this Wondrous Age (ISBN 1885593252). Information and craft projects. Definitely read through the text before setting your kids loose with this book: the authors’ political agenda occasionally gets in the way of historical fairness and accuracy. Still, interesting projects and thought-provoking presentation.
  • Linda Honan, Spend the Day in Ancient Greece (ISBN 0471154547). Craft projects, including clothing, weaving, writing the alphabet, pottery, model boat building, and more. Clear instructions, and no political didacticism.
  • Warwick Hutton, Perseus (ISBN 0689505655). Colored pen and ink drawings illustrate the story of Perseus. Good read-aloud book.
  • Fiona Macdonald, Women in Ancient Greece (ISBN 0872265684). Discussion of women’s lives in ancient Greece, including their roles in religious life. Fair discussion of ancient sexism.
  • Fiona Macdonald, How Would You Survive as an Ancient Greek? (ISBN 053115307X). Outstanding approach to daily life. Extensive illustrations, quizzes, and fascinating detail. Short discussion of religious practices.
  • John Malam, Gods and Goddesses (ISBN 0872265986). Solid and engaging introduction to Hellenic religion. Many photos and quotations from authentic ancient sources. Other books in the series include The Original Olympics, Greek Theatre, and Daily Life.
  • Tom Tierney, Ancient Greek Costumes Paper Dolls (ISBN 0486405745). Dress “Diana” (!) and “Jason” in a variety of costumes, including Cretan and Phrygian styles.

4.13 Buying Land and Other Property by Peter Gold

As local Hellenion Demoi grow, they will acquire artifacts and eventually likely own, or at least rent, land & buildings. The rules surrounding donations to non-profit organizations are relatively simple, but there are a number of common misconceptions and misunderstandings.

4.13.1 Who Owns the Stuff?

First, when a person donates money or goods (the chalice, the building, the books for the library) to a non-profit organization, the organization owns the item. The donor cannot get the item back.It is permissible to loan goods to an organization, though. If you are going to loan, let the group use something of value, get a written agreement if you will not be taking it home after every event. For example, if you are going to let the local Demos use your vacation beach house every weekend, be sure to get a rental agreement. The rent may only be a dollar per year as long as you are a member of the Demos, but the contract is the important part. It will save everybody grief if you have a falling out with the group.Second, the organization that owns something controls it. If you donate a piece of land, the organization can sell it, lease it, or use it. You can put restrictions upon your donations, though. For example, you might want to donate a large sum of money, but restrict the organization to only using the earnings on the money.It is the control of assets, especially land, which has provoked discussion and misunderstandings as Hellenion was being formed.Hellenion is a central, or single-entity organization. Local Demoi exist on the basis of a charter issued by the national body. Demoi cannot leave Hellenion. The people can leave Hellenion and the Demos.How does this apply to donations? This is where it can get a little confusing, so an example is called for.Tony donates his bicycle shop and the office space above it to the local Hellenion Demos, Zeus’s Eagle Demos. After a few years, a number of things happen.First, Tony and some of his friends decide they want to be Asatru instead of Hellenic. Second, the majority (75 out of 78) of the Hellenic-oriented members of the Demos do not want to remain with Hellenion, but want to associate with the Hellenic Pagan Association.Tony and his Asatru friends do not get the land and building, even though the Asatru group is and incorporated non-profit. The land and building belong to the Hellenion Demos, not to Tony.The 75 Hellenic oriented members who leave Hellenion for HPA do not get the land. The land and building belong to the Hellenion Demos, not to the individuals or to the HPA.The three people who remain with Hellenion get control of the land.If the Demos were to dissolve, the land would revert to National unless other arrangements were made.It is politically likely, but not required, that if all the members of who made substantial contributions to the purchase and upkeep, plus almost all the members of the Demos wanted to transfer the land and their association to another organization, National would permit it. This would only be possible if National had no financial stake, whether never, or if they were bought out.

4.13.2 Who Should Buy Land?

Buying land is a major undertaking. A Demos must be assured of a steady income in order to pay the mortgage and upkeep. The Demos should also be sure of a stable, dedicated and compatible membership.There are a number of options to obtain land that the Demos can use.First, a small group of Demos members could buy the land themselves and then rent it to the Demos. This avoids any chance of the land being taken by dissident members of the Demos or losing the land if the buyers decide to leave Hellenion. The disadvantage is the lack of tax exemption. The owners would owe property taxes that a church-owned piece of land wouldn’t.Second, the Demos could operate the land as a business with only part of the property being used for strictly religious purposes. An examplewould be the operation of a campground that is open to the public. The Demos only uses part of the land. Another example for a more urban setting would be renting out rooms in an apartment building.Third, a select group of members could form another non-profit that owns the land but leases it to the Demos. This avoids the problems with dissidents taking the land and still gains the tax advantages. It requires more work, but it is feasible.


5.1 Where to Worship

One of the biggest considerations a Demos will face is finding a place or places to hold worship services. There are three main option: worshipping in a member’s home; worshipping in a rented indoor space; and worshipping in an outdoor location.

5.1.1 Home-Based Worship

Worshipping in a member’s home is sometimes appropriate and can work well if it is carefully planned. Home-based worship is appropriate when:

  • The group is small.
  • Complete privacy is essential.
  • The rite is family-centered (baby-naming, wedding, funeral).
  • No other option exists (and you’ve really, really tried!).

It is as essential to take into consideration safety, convenience, accessibility, and financial concerns when worshipping in a home as it is when renting a space. Here are some questions to ask when planning a home-based ritual:

  • Is this ritual open to the public? (If it is–and most Demos rituals must be–hold the ritual elsewhere.)
  • Is the space large enough to accommodate the numbers you expect?
  • Is the space accessible to people with disabilities? Are pet or other allergies an issue?
  • Is there sufficient parking? Is the house near public transit? Is it easy to get a cab?
  • If young children will be present, is the space safe for them? Are any weapons, including ornamental ones, secured? Are all drugs, including prescriptions and vitamins, out of reach? Are there things for the children to play with if their attention wanders? Have parents been made aware of alcohol use in the ritual? Have arrangements been made for additional childcare, if needed?
  • Is the area is clean (dust, sweep/wash/vacuum floors, take out trash)?
  • Is it tidy (pick up books, mail, clothing, etc.)?
  • Is the bathroom clean and stocked with fresh hand towels, soap, and extra toilet paper?
  • Is there an out-of-the-way space for people to leave their coats and bags?
  • Is there a private space for people to wash and change into their ritual clothes?
  • Are pets under control or out of the way entirely?
  • Have you made house rules regarding smoking clear to all participants?
  • Are there sufficient chairs and tables or other arrangements for feasting?
  • Are there sufficient utensils, plates, and cups for feasting?
  • Is there a sufficient supply on non-alcoholic beverages available, especially plain water?
  • Who will clean up afterwards?
  • Will the feast be potluck? Who is in charge of keeping track of what each family will bring?
  • Will the Demos cover costs for incidentals, like toilet paper or plastic forks?

If the ritual is taking place in someone’s backyard or garden (see also below, outdoor worship):

  • Is the area reasonably private? Will neighbors be bothered by noise, smoke, or the presence of people in ritual dress?
  • If there will be a fire, is the area clear of dry leaves or other flammable items?

5.1.2 Rented Space

As the Demos grows larger, it will probably be necessary to rent space. Places to try include:

  • Local metaphysical shop or pagan-friendly bookstore
  • Local UU church or other religious group
  • Library meeting rooms (good for study groups and business meetings)
  • Community centers and halls
  • Schools, especially universities
  • Halls belonging to private clubs or service organizations
  • Hotels (can be expensive, though)
  • New Age centers (again, sometimes expensive)

Using a rented space will mean that the Demos must take financial responsibility for the costs, which can mean either soliciting regular “tithes” from members or passing the hat at the service until the rental fee is met. Arrangements should be made in advance whenever possible; you don’t want to be caught short.In addition to the considerations given above for home-based worship, there are some special concerns when renting a space for worship:

  • Do you have a written contract, specifying your rights and responsibilities and those of the owner?
  • Does their insurance cover you and your property during the time of the rental agreement?
  • Is the space zoned for meetings of the size you are planning?
  • Is it possible to cook or heat up food? Wash dishes? Keep beverages cold? Store ice?
  • Does the space have good ventilation (especially if you intend to use incense)?
  • Does it have a working fire alarm? Do you know how to turn it off?
  • Do you have an extra set of keys to the space? Do you know the exact street address and phone number in case of an emergency?
  • Whom should you contact in case of an emergency? Will that person be available when you need them? Do they have a cell phone?

5.1.3 Outdoor Worship

Outdoor worship can be particularly inspiring, especially when honoring nature divinities or deities especially associated with features of nature, like Poseidon or Artemis. Here are the questions to ask when considering an outdoor ritual:

  • Is the space available for use by private groups? Do you need a permit?
  • Is it relatively private, or might you face interruptions from passersby, traffic, animals, etc.?
  • Is it accessible to people with disabilities? To people who rely on public transit? Is there sufficient parking nearby?
  • Is the area relatively free of physical hazards, particularly if children will be present? Are insects or plants (poison ivy, poison oak) a problem? Do you have supplies to treat bites, stings, or contact with plants (insect spray, SkinSoSoft, Fels Naptha soap, etc.)?
  • Is the use of fire permitted in the area? Do you have the appropriate fire safety equipment on hand?
  • Are there restrooms within easy walking distance? Are they well stocked with supplies? (If not, do you have supplies on hand?)
  • How difficult is it to get the necessary supplies and equipment to the site? Will you need much assistance (cars, people with strong backs, etc.)? Can such assistance be arranged?
  • Are there any likely environmental or weather conditions to contend with? Wind? Sun? Rain? Do participants know how to dress to be comfortable under these conditions?
  • If the ritual is held at night, do you have sufficient sources of light? Do you have jars for candles to protect them from wind? Do you have sufficient matches and/or lighters?

5.1.4 Accessibility

Demoi are strongly encouraged to make every effort to secure physically accessible spaces for group worship and other events. In addition, reasonable accommodations should be made for deaf or blind participants. Large-print service sheets can be provided for those with vision problems, and worship leaders should face the congregation to allow for effective lip-reading when a deaf worshipper is present.

5.2 Scheduling Worship

For suggestions on scheduling, see section 4.2 above.

5.3 Publicity for Worship

The same venues you used to find Demos members will serve you well for publicizing worship services. Avoid publishing the home addresses and phone numbers of members, however.You can also submit contact information about the Demos to any local religious or cultural resource listings for your area. Consider taking out a Yellow Pages ad for the Demos as soon as this is financially feasible. (It is not necessary to have a permanent place of worship to do this, only a contact phone number and a mailing address.)It is useful to keep copies of any flyers or other publicity pieces you produce. These should be included in the Demos’ annual report to National.

5.4 Welcoming Guests and Newcomers

It is to be hoped that members of the public will attend Demos worship services, and such guests should be welcomed, and assisted during worship if they are unfamiliar with our ritual forms. Demoi should make available brochures, books, and membership applications at all open meetings and gently direct newcomers to them. Bearing in mind our religious obligation to hospitality, Demoi may wish to appoint a member to act as “host” or “greeter” to make sure that visitors are welcomed and their questions answered. Providing food after the ritual gives people a chance to get to know each other.

5.5 Service Programs and Music

If your Demos is very small, you may be able to introduce new ritual forms, songs, and chants by simply demonstrating them before the ritual begins. However, newcomers to larger groups and anyone attending a festival that only happens once a year will appreciate having a printed service program to refer to.Ideally, any verbal responses that the congregation will be expected to make should be printed in large type (14 point minimum) and clearly indicated:Priest/ess: Let us pray to the father of gods and mortals!
PEOPLE: O mighty Zeus, hear us!If the responses are in Greek, it is helpful to provide a phonetic pronunciation guide as well.PEOPLE: ΧΑΙΡΕΤΕ Ο ΘΕΟΙ! Rejoice, o gods! (KHYE-reh-teh oh THEH-oy!)Music and lyrics for any sung hymns should also be provided, again with phonetic transcription, if needed.If the ritual will take place outdoors, consider printing the service programs and hymns on light-colored card stock (60#); lighter paper bends in the wind, making it very hard to read.

5.6 Ritual Etiquette

As is the case with every religion, there are some customs that members will probably learn by simple observation, but that visitors might need to be informed of. This section deals with a few of these.

5.6.1 Cleanliness & Miasma

Intrinsic to the ancient religion was the concept of “ritual impurity” or miasma. Although laws regarding miasma varied widely from place to place and over time, there seems to have been a consistent understanding that exposure to certain things–birth, death, and sex–might make one “impure” for a period of time and therefore unfit to approach the altars of the gods. Certain categories of people were usually excluded from worship altogether until they had undergone ceremonial purification: specifically, those who had committed homicide or any other “blood crime” would not be permitted to participate, as it was believed that their miasma would “infect” the other worshippers. This is the reason for the purification rite that appears in most Hellenic rituals and for the call for “all profane ones to depart.”The Demoi are free to set their own standards for purification as they apply to ritual leaders, including clergy. However, all participants should make an effort to be physically clean–freshly bathed, if possible. At very least, one should wash one’s hands and face before the ritual. The availability of washing facilities is therefore a consideration in determining where to hold a ritual. Demoi should respect the scruples of anyone who might decline to participate in a rite because of ritual impurity.

5.6.2 Suitable Attire

Clothing worn for worship should be clean and in good repair, and should show the wearer’s respect for the gods and his or her fellow worshippers. (“I’m with Stupid” T-shirts, or clothing decorated with non-Hellenic religious symbols, are therefore inappropriate.) The Demoi are free to set their own policies regarding the wearing of Hellenic-style clothing during ritual.

5.6.3 Holy Silence

At certain points in the ritual, the leader will call for silence. This is usually before hymns, prayers, or utterances of a particularly sacred nature. Obviously participants should maintain silence at these times.

5.6.4 Tasting the Sacrifice and Libations

It is considered an honor to be offered a taste of the sacrifice or to share a libation; these should be offered to VIPs, to hosts, and to others who have a special interest in the ritual (such as the parents at a Dekate rite). However, ritual leaders should be careful in offering these to guests whose religious beliefs may forbid them from eating foods that have been given to our gods. Guests may show that they decline to partake by crossing their hands over their chests and holding their heads down as the libation bowl is passed.

5.6.5 The Feast

The feast is an integral part of our worship services, and participants should be encouraged to eat and drink heartily at festivals. However, several precautions are in order:

  • If sacred meat or other offerings are served at the feast and guests are present, it is a courtesy to inform them of which dishes are not part of the sacrifice proper.
  • Plenty of non-alcoholic beverages should be provided.
  • It is helpful to mark dishes that are vegetarian, vegan, or low fat, or that contain common allergens, like nuts. If alcohol is served, hosts should partake moderately and other worshippers should be encouraged to select designated drivers. Do not hesitate to take someone’s keys if they are not safe to drive! Better to call a cab, or give the person a pillow and a space on the floor to sleep it off, than to risk an accident.

5.7 Other Concerns

The question of animal sacrifice has been hotly debated in our community. Some feel that, done carefully and skillfully, it is a valid way to honor our gods. These people point out that occasional animal sacrifice is a part of some mainstream religions, such as Islam. Others feel that it is unethical and highly objectionable. Middle ground is occupied by those who feel that it is unnecessary or impractical.At this time, National has no comprehensive, organization-wide policy on the appropriateness of animal sacrifice. At a minimum, any Demos considering this type of worship must have an appropiate means and a suitable location for the sacrifice. As always, the Demos must pay attention to zoning ordinances and local laws. Demoi must also discuss their plans in detail with the Prutaneis before proceeding.Another issue that has arisen is the question of omen-reading at rituals. Some believe that the gods accept all sincere offerings. Others hold that the gods can and do occasionally reject offerings, so it is necessary to read the omens at the moment of sacrifice to determine whether or not the offerings have been accepted. Methods for reading omens include looking for natural occurrences (the flight or calls of birds, sudden weather changes, etc.), inadvertent human actions (sneezes, a kledon, i.e., overheard chance utterance), and the use of simple divination methods such as dice or lots.It is the prerogative of the Demoi to determine whether or not omen-reading should take place during some or all rituals.

5.8 Innovative Ritual in the Context of ReconstructionismS

ince our religion is based more on orthopraxy than orthodoxy–that is, on common practices rather than common beliefs–the issue of innovation in ritual is a thorny one. Of course, most Reconstructionists accept the need for change and put a great deal of thought into how to maintain the intent of the traditional rites while making them meaningful and feasible for modern people.When looking at instituting new rites or updating traditional ones, the Demoi should keep in mind the following principle from Hellenion’s Mission Statement:[We] strive to be as historically (and mythologically) accurate as the state of the evidence allows. When gaps in the evidence, or the realities of modern life, make it necessary to create something new it should be:As consistent as possible with what we do know about ancient Hellas and its colonies throughout the Mediterranean up until the point of the end of the Delphic Oracle in history.Clearly presented as a recent innovation. We frown on attempts to advertise something modern and invented as ancient and historical in order to give it an authority (and marketability!) it does not deserve.Here are a few questions to ask when planning a new rite:

  • Is there an existing rite that serves the same purpose? Can that rite be adapted for our use?
  • What deities do we think are in charge of the concern at hand? Would a traditional rite of supplication or thanksgiving to those deities serve our purpose?
  • Do we have any evidence of a similar class of rites in the ancient world? (For example, festivals celebrating the founding of colonies are documented, as are festivals celebrating the founders themselves. Therefore, a rite celebrating the founding of a Demos could be based on this class of ritual.)
  • What is the underlying purpose of the rite? Is the goal is to honor the gods or ask for their assistance? Or is it to explore or celebrate an aspect of human endeavor? If the latter, would the ritual be better carried out as a private spiritual practice, rather than in the context of the Demos?
  • How can we make the symbolism of the rite as consistent with tradition as possible?

5.9 Sample Ritual: Outline for a Group Offertory Rite in Greek and English


This is an outline for an all-purpose group ritual with text in both Ancient Greek and English. It can (and should!) be adapted to the specific deities being honored, by selecting appropriate hymns, epithets, and offerings. Since the majority of offering rites honor more than one deity, most of the lines addressed to the gods are in the plural. Singular forms are given in the footnotes. The Greek is transliterated using the Beta Code. Most of the Greek phrases are culled from Simon Pulleyn’s excellent study of ritual language and customs, Prayer in Greek Religion(Oxford: Clarendon, 1997).For Demos worship, the role designated here by “Hiereus/Hiereia” (hier.) may be taken by any person competent to lead worship.


Song in Procession: Khairomen, o philoiPurificationHiereus/Hiereia: ΕΚΑΣ Ω ΕΚΑΣ, ΕΣΤΕ ΒΕΒΗΛΟΙ! Let all profane ones depart!S/he sprinkles the altar, the offerings, and the people with khernips (lustral water). As the hier. sprinkles the water, s/he says:
Hier.: Ω ΘΕΟΙ, ΓΕΝΟΙΣΘΕ ΑΠΟΤΡΟΠΟΙ ΚΑΚΩΝ! [1] O gods, turn away evils!In small groups, the bowl of khernips may be passed from person to person after the altar and offerings have been asperged. When all are finished, the bowl is set away from the altar, as it now ritually impure. The used water should be poured directly onto the earth outside the temenos after the ritual.


The hier. calls for holy silence, invites the gods to listen, and invokes the blessings of the Muses.

Hier.: ΕΥΦΗΜΙΑ ΣΤΩ! ΕΥΦΗΜΙΑ ΣΤΩ Let no one speak an ill-omened word!

Worshippers: ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΜΕΝ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΑΓΑΘΟΝ. For it is good to pray.

Hier.: ΥΠΑΚΟΥΣΑΤΕ ΔΕΧΑΜΕΝΑΤΕ ΘΥΣΙΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΙΣ ΙΕΡΟΙΣΙ ΧΑΡΕΙΣΑΤΕ. [2] Hear, receiving the sacrifice and rejoicing in the rite. ΧΑΙΡΕΤΕ, ΤΕΚΝΑ ΔΙΟΣ, ΔΟΤΕ Δ ΙΜΕΡΟΕΣΣΑΣ ΑΟΙΔΗΝ. ΚΛΕΙΕΤΕ Δ ΑΘΑΝΑΤΩΝ ΙΕΡΟΝ ΙΕΡΟΝ ΓΕΝΟΣ ΑΙΕΝ ΕΟΝΤΩΝ! Hail children of Zeus! Grant lovely song and celebrate the holy race of the deathless gods who are forever.

The hier. or another participant reads or recites hymns to the god/desses being honored. If the hymns are read in Greek, a translation should also be read. As the hymns are considered an offering, they should be presented as perfectly as possible–read clearly and slowly, to avoid errors.


Hier.: ΑΛΛΑ ΘΕΟΣΙΝ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΧΡΕΩΝ. ΕΥΦΗΜΕΙΤΕ. [3] Now we must pray to the gods. Join in the prayer.

Worshippers: ΑΛΛΑ ΤΟΔΕ ΠΕΡ ΗΜΙΝ ΕΠΙΚΡΗΗΝΟΝ ΕΕΛΔΩΡ, Ω ΑΘΑΝΑΤΟΙ. Come now and grant us this wish, o Immortal ones.Hier.: ΤΟΙΣ ΘΕΟΙΣ ΕΥΧΟΜΑΙ ΠΑΣΙ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΣΑΙΣ. I pray to all the gods and goddesses.Worshippers: ΠΑΣΙ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΣΑΙΣ. To all the gods and goddesses.Hier.: ΚΛΥΘΙ ΜΟΥ, [Ω ΖΕΥ] ΝΥΝ Δ ΕΥΧΩΗΙΣ ΑΓΑΝΗΣΙ ΧΑΙΡΕ. Hear me now [O Zeus] and rejoice in my friendly prayers.(This last formula is repeated before each prayer, substituting the name of the appropriate deity in the vocative case for “O Zeu.”)Thanksgivings for the gods’ blessings and petitions for the needs of individuals and the community are offered.After all the prayers are said, the hier. concludes:

Hier.: Ω ΘΕΟΙ, ΓΕΝΟΙΤΟ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΗΜΙΝ. O gods, may it be thus for us.

Worshippers: Ω ΘΕΟΙ, ΓΕΝΟΙΤΟ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΗΜΙΝ. O gods, may it be thus for us.T

ThusiaHier.: ΖΕΥ ΚΥΔΙΣΤΕ ΜΕΓΙΣΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΑΘΑΝΑΤΟΙ ΘΕΟΙ ΑΛΛΟΙ, ΕΛΘΕΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΥΝ Ω ΘΕΟΙ! [4] Zeus, All-Powerful and Greatest, and the rest of the immortal gods–come now, O gods!

Worshippers: ΕΛΘΕΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΥΝ Ω ΘΕΟΙ! Come now, O gods!


Barley is sprinkled on the altar.

Hier.: ΥΜΙΝ, Ο ΜΑΚΑΡΕΣ, [ΣΡΟΝΔΗΝ ΘΥΣΙΑΝ ΤΕ] ΦΕΡΟΜΕΝ, ΥΜΕΙΣ ΔΕ ΗΜΙΝ ΘΥΣΙΑΝ ΠΑΓΚΑΡΠΕΙΑΣ ΔΕΞΑΣΘΕ ΠΛΗΡΗ ΠΡΟΧΥΘΕΙΣΑΝ. [5] To you, o blessed ones, we bring [a libation and a sacrifice], accept from us this sacrifice of all kinds of fruits, poured out abundantly.

The offerings are brought forward. Each worshipper making an offering says:

Worshipper: ΔΩΡΟΥΜΕΘΑ. ΟΡΑΤΕ ΤΑΔΕ! [6] We give a gift. See this!

When all the offerings have been placed on the altar, the hier. separates a portion of each for the gods with the words:

Hier.: ΕΥΦΡΩΝ ΕΛΘΕΤΕ, ΜΑΚΑΡΕΣ, ΚΕΧΑΡΙΣΜΕΝΑ Δ ΙΕΡΠΑ ΔΕΞΑΣΘΕ. [7] Come propitiously, blessed ones, and accept the delightful offerings.

The remaining offerings will be consumed by the worshippers during the feast.Libations are now made. As each worshippers pours out the drink, s/he calls: ΣΠΟΝΔΗ! A drink offering! or ΕΚΚΕΧΥΤΑΙ! It has been poured out! The worshipper then takes a sip of the liquid (if it is a potable one and not oil or honey!) and passes the libation bowl and pitcher to the next person. The remaining contents of the bowl are poured out onto the fire or onto the earth.


Hier.: ΙΗ ΠΑΙΩΝ, ΙΗ ΠΑΙΩΝ, ΙΗ ΠΑΙΩΝ! ΧΑΙΡΩΜΕΝ! Let us rejoice in the company of the gods!

Worshippers: ΧΑΙΡΩΜΕΝ! Let us rejoice!

Closing song: Ie Paion (“Alalalai”)

Texts for Songs

Khairomen, o philoi


Additional verses:

Final verse (same as the first):

(repeat chorus to end)


Let us rejoice, o friends
I lead the procession to the altar

Let us pray, let us pray
Let it be well, gods!
Rejoice, o gods!
All gods and goddesses
Rejoice, o gods!
You who are immortal
Rejoice, o gods!
We bear offerings
Rejoice, o gods!
a pleasant sacrifice
Rejoice, o gods!
Come, blessed ones
Let us rejoice, o friends
I lead the procession to the altar
(Repeat chorus to end)

Ie Paion (“Alalalai”)


(Translation: Alalalai, ie paion /hurrah glorious victor/ o highest of divinities)


[1] Singular masculine: Ω ΘΕΕ. Singular feminine: Ω ΘΕΑ
[3] Singular masculine: ΑΛΛΑ ΘΕΟΩΙ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΧΡΕΩΝ. Singular feminine: ΑΛΛΑ ΘΕΑΙ ΕΥΧΕΣΘΑΙ ΧΡΕΩΝ
[4] If only one deity is being honored, use the name of that god/dess in the vocative case, followed by ΕΛΘΕ, Ω ΘΕΕ (come, o god) or ΕΛΘΕ, Ω ΘΕΑ (come, o goddess).
Other terms may also be used, e.g., ΠΟΤΝΙΑ [lady], ΑΝΑΞ [lord], ΤΕΚΝΟΣ ΔΙΟΣ [daughter of Zeus], ΠΑΤΕΡ [father], ΜΗΤΗΡ [mother], ΦΙΛΕ or ΦΙΛΗ [dear one masc./fem.], ΜΕΓΑΛΟΙ ΜΕΓΑΛΑΙ [mighty ones masc./fem.], etc.
[5] Substitute the words for the actual offerings being given, e.g., ΣΙΤΟΝ for grain or bread, ΟΙΝΟΝ for wine, ΠΕΛΑΝΟΝ for the mixed offering of meal, honey, and oil, etc.
[6] Singular: ΟΡΑ ΤΑΔΕ!
[7] Singular: ΕΥΦΡΩΝ ΕΛΘΕ, ΜΑΚΑΡ, ΚΕΧΑΡΙΣΜΕΝΑ Δ ΙΕΡΑ ΔΕΞΑΙ.© 2001 by Drew Campbell. The above is only one of a wide range of options for group worship. For more examples, see Drew Campbell, Old Stones, New Temples or the Hellenion Web site.

5.11 Ritual Preparation Checklist

Useful ritual items to have on hand include:

  • wine
  • milk
  • honey
  • olive oil
  • barley groats (uncooked pearl barley)
  • incense (loose, sticks, or cones)
  • matches
  • incense charcoal blocks
  • incense burner
  • offertory cakes or bread
  • fruit in season
  • sea salt
  • candles or oil lamps
  • fire extinguisher (or baking soda, sand, buckets of water, etc.)
  • copies of ritual scripts for officiants, if needed, and readings (Homeric and Orphic Hymns, Iliad, etc.)
  • service programs and music scores for congregation
  • Swiss army knife with bottle opener and corkscrew
  • flowers, greenery, and florists’ tape (for making garlands)
  • ribbons in various colors (especially white and purple)
  • baskets of various sizes
  • a ritual knife
  • goblet or pitcher
  • several bowls (for libations and khernips)
  • a clean hand-cloth
  • khiton, himation, or other ritual garb
  • statuary or other images of the gods
  • music (CDs/tapes and player)
  • extension cord
  • extra batteries

5.12 Practical Notes for Organizing a Festival

Putting on a festival ritual–which is usually more elaborate than a simple devotional rite–can be a major undertaking, particularly if you are working together with another Demos. Here are some of the things you’ll need to arrange. If your Demos is large enough, consider forming one or more standing committees to organize the different aspects of festival worship. (These items are adapted from Covencraft, pp. 151-152.)

  • Ritual Design and Leadership (Worship Committee or Clergy Team): Write or find ritual script; determine who will take the various roles; secure or make vestments and ritual paraphernalia such as baskets, bowls, oil lamps, etc.; arrange for musical accompaniment or vocalists, as needed; rehearse.
  • Facilities Arrangements: If a different (larger) space is necessary, make arrangements in advance; get any necessary permits or permissions; develop backup plans.
  • Set-Up and Clean-Up Crews: Clean and decorate the space for the ritual, including seating and lighting; locate and mark fire alarms, emergency exits, bathrooms, light switches, thermostats, windows, etc.; break down and clean up space after the ritual.
  • Publicity (Public Relations Committee): Contact publications, like-minded local groups, email lists, etc.; post flyers; respond to requests for information from individuals or the press.
  • Feast (Hospitality Committee): If the event is potluck, develop a sign-up sheet with categories for different types of dishes (you don’t want 10 desserts and no main dishes or salads), set policies for providing for special dietary needs (low fat, vegetarian, or vegan dishes; non-alcoholic, sugar-free, and caffeine-free beverages, for example); set up tables and utensils; if the event is catered, make arrangements with caterer.
  • Greeters (Fellowship Committee): One or two people to greet and orient guests, hand out service sheets, set up and direct guests to information table, etc.
  • Security: People to make sure that everything runs safely; liaison with local law enforcement

5.13 Fellowship Activities

As mentioned above, people bring a wide range of needs to their religious communities. Worship is fundamental, but should be supplemented with other activities that promote community participation and a sense of belonging. Some suggestions:

  • Community Service projects (see section 7.2 for more ideas)
  • Study groups for adults, children, clergy, and special interests (magic, theurgy, philosophy, Pythagorean bios…)
  • Group visits to museums, concerts, and Hellenic cultural events
  • Outdoor recreation: picnics, hikes, boating trips
  • Support and prayer groups for parents, singles, clergy, leaders…
  • Social events: potluck suppers, games night, folk dancing
  • Pilgrimages to Greece (hey, we can always dream!)


6.1 Theoroi and the Demoi

Clergy are persons “empowered by a church (as legally defined) to perform specific religious services for the members of that church.” Hellenion trains and ordains a single class of clergy, known as Theoroi (“sacred envoys”).At this point in the development of our religion, the distinction between layperson and clergy is more a matter of degree than type. All adults are expected to be competent to lead rituals and are encouraged to do so in the context of the Demos. Theoroi, for their part, will simply have more specialized and in-depth knowledge of our religion, allowing them to develop and lead ritual, to teach, and to advise others on questions of religious practice. They are also charged with the responsibility of leading group ritual when no other person is willing or able to do so.The following is a summary of the responsibilities of Hellenion’s ordained clergy:

Theoroi are required to:

  • lead worship and other rites with and on behalf of the community
  • be able to instruct fellow Hellenes about basic religious practice
  • be prepared to answer questions about our religion when asked by a member of the public
  • clear any prospective interfaith efforts with their Demos and National
  • teach families the traditional life cycle rituals as needed
  • refer those needing therapeutic counseling to appropriate professionals
  • present themselves as honorable and responsible members of society
  • uphold Hellenic virtues to the best of their ability

They are permitted to:

  • teach publicly about our religion
  • teach approved adult and children’s religious education curricula
  • officiate at life cycle rituals
  • provide counseling on matters of ritual practice
  • perform divination for individuals
  • perform simple omen readings as part of group ritual as needed

They are not permitted to:

  • speak on behalf of the organization as a whole without prior permission
  • engage in public debate as representatives of Hellenion
  • provide any type of pastoral or therapeutic counseling other than on matters of ritual practice unless trained and licensed to do so.

6.2 Theoros Candidates & Required Practicum

Theoros candidates are required to perform a number of group rituals as part of their study program, and they are encouraged to do so in the context of Demos worship. Demoi are therefore asked to facilitate this by making room in their calendars for Theoroi-in-training to lead a variety of worship services. The Demoi may also be asked to certify that these rituals have taken place and to comment on them as part of an overall evaluation of the candidate’s progress.

6.3 Evaluating Theoros Candidates

In addition to performing rituals within the Demoi, Theoroi candidates are required to secure the endorsement of their Demos in order to be ordained. Since it is the local congregation that knows the candidate best, it is that congregation that is charged with evaluating the candidate’s preparedness for clergy work, their commitment to the worship of their patron/matron deity and to Hellenic religion generally, and their ethics and personal character.Demoi will be provided with a list of specific questions to answer when evaluating clergy candidates. In smaller Demoi, the whole congregation may wish to work together on this; in larger congregations, an evaluation committee may be established.

6.4 Selecting and Installing Theoroi

The Demoi are free to select any duly ordained clergyperson(s) to serve them, but they are not required to do so. Clergy credentials are not required to hold any other office in Hellenion, whether at the local or the national level. The Demoi are encouraged to develop their own rituals for the installation of Theoroi.Before selecting a Theoros, the Demos should draw up a profile of their ideal candidate–a job description, if you will. Every congregation develops a “personality” based on the interests of its members. Is your Demos involved in interfaith work? Do you put on many large festivals in a year? Do you have a commitment to educating the public about our religion? Are you planning to implement a Children’s Education program? The needs of the congregation will directly affect the sort of person(s) who will be best suited to serve you.As our religion grows, we will be able to pay our clergy to serve our congregations either part- or full-time. At this point, however, National assumes that all ordained clergy will have other means of financial support. Realistically, this means that Demoi should expect Theoroi to be available on a part-time basis only. If a Demos is able to offer regular financial compensation to a Theoros, a formal contract should be drawn up detailing the responsibilities of each party toward the other. How many hours a week is the Theoros expected to work? Are they to be “on call” in case of emergency? What specific services are they expected to offer (ritual leadership, advice on religious practice, teaching…)?Even if the Demos is unable to pay the Theoros–and this will be the case in the majority of Demoi for the foreseeable future–it is acceptable to offer the Theoros modest gifts as a means of thanking her/him: a special seat at the feast, a bottle of wine, or a new khiton or peplos for ritual wear.It should be noted that Theoroi are permitted, at their own discretion, to charge the public reasonable fees for their services, such as teaching, divination, counseling on ritual practice, or performing weddings.

6.5 About Titles

While Hellenion only trains and ordains one type of legal clergy, Theoroi, it is expected and accepted that Demoi will wish to recognize the service of certain individuals to the gods and their community. Such people may regularly lead ritual, promote the worship of their patron or matron deity, teach, etc. In other words, they fulfill a role similar to that of lay ministers in other religions and may, with the consent of their Demos, take on any leadership role for which they are qualified. The only exception is that Theoroi alone may sign legal documents, such as marriage licenses.Hellenion’s policy is that lay ministers may adopt any Greek-language title appropriate to their work, with the exception of “Theoros,” as that term already designates our legal clergy. Lay ministers should avoid the use of the English titles “priest” or “priestess,” since these terms usually refer to ordained clergy in other religions, and their use has caused confusion about the legal status of lay ministers within Hellenion.Individuals who hold titles from other groups are of course free to continue to use them, but should be scrupulous about distinguishing between their work in Hellenion and in other groups. For example, a member holding clergy credentials from another organization and also acting as a lay minister in Hellenion might describe herself as “Jane Doe, High Priestess (Amberlight Grove) and hiereia of Hera (Hellenion).”


Because of Hellenion’s open membership policy and our requirements that Demoi make most worship services open to the public, it is desirable that the Demoi foster a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with the surrounding local community. Although we understand that some members may live in areas that are hostile to religions such as ours, nevertheless, Demos leaders must recognize that they may well be on the front lines of educating the public about our religion. It is simply not possible for Demoi, or their leaders, to be “in the closet” about their religion. This doesn’t mean you are expected to wear a Hellenion T-shirt everywhere you go, only that you must be willing–and prepared–to present a positive and affirming message to your local community.

7.1 Public Classes, Lectures, and Other Events

Aside from the public worship services that are required of all Demoi, the best way to educate the public about our religion is through offering public classes, lectures, and other events. If you have a usual worship space that will serve for classes, this is ideal, because it allows newcomers to see you in your “natural habitat” and dispels any myths about secretive midnight meetings that people may have picked up from other religions. Library meeting rooms, social halls, and other rental spaces can also be used. For reasons of security, avoid holding open classes in members’ homes.Some topics for classes include: Hellenism 101; Introducing the Olympians; Home and Family Devotions; Introduction to the Hellenic Festival Year.Lectures can be offered in the same way as classes, or at neopagan or multifaith conferences or other events.If members of the Demos have special skills–folk dancing, wine making, weaving, Greek language–these can also be taught to the public, with the class sponsored by the Demos. Likewise theater outings, video nights, guided museum visits, picnics, wilderness trips, food festivals, archery tournaments, and other recreational activities can be put on as Demos-sponsored events. * No actual religious content is necessary, although it would be acceptable to have Hellenion brochures or other information handy for those who may have questions.* A number of these ideas come from Covencraft, pp. 309-310.

7.2 Community Service

Perhaps the most effective way to develop a positive reputation in your community is to engage in public service projects. Food and clothing drives, litter pickup in public areas, and tree-planting are all relatively easy to organize and show your good will toward the community as a whole. Many other possibilities will suggest themselves as you make an effort to learn what your community’s needs are. Look around at what other religious and civic groups are doing if you need ideas; better yet, is there some type of service that no other group has yet taken on?Do be aware that some charities may balk at taking donations from a “pagan” group. Do be open about your affiliation, but if you are turned down, ask to speak to a supervisor. If that brings no resolution, express your regret calmly and take your donations elsewhere. Do not allow your religion to be a matter of secrecy or shame! If you meet with outright discrimination, please report the incident to National.

7.3 Limits on Political Action

In all communities, pressing issues arise that have a political dimension, and Demos members may wish to become involved. Individuals are free to do so as private citizens, but the Demos as a whole should not involve itself in political actions, such as lobbying or the endorsement of political candidates, as these are expressly disallowed if we wish to retain our nonprofit status.

7.4 Speaking for Hellenion or the Demos

Individual members are not permitted to speak for Hellenion or for their Demos–especially on political issues–without express permission from the Prutaneis. Leaders should respond to any requests for an “official position” by saying, “I’m not at liberty to speak for my Demos or for Hellenion as a whole.” Do consult with the Prutaneis if a situation arises that you are unsure about.

7.5 The Demos and the Law

Demoi are required to heed all local, state, and federal laws (or their equivalents in other countries) at all times. Leaders should be scrupulous about applying for permits, verifying zoning regulations, adhering to fire codes, and otherwise complying with any local laws that affect the Demos. Religious bigots often use these laws to get minority religious groups shut down.You can help prevent this by being proactive in getting legal information from the local authorities. The police, fire department, local zoning board, county clerk, and city or town hall can provide you with the information you need. When approaching these authorities, be professional and show appropriate respect; avoid giving the impression that you have a chip on your shoulder or are in any way suspect. Dress tidily and conservatively, and speak clearly and confidently, using language that will be readily understood: “Good morning, Ma’am. My name is Sokrates Smith. My congregation would like to hold a picnic in Lovely Park on June 19th. The event would be open to the public, and we expect 50 or more people to attend. Do we need a permit to gather there?”The following book may also be of help:
Cynthia S. Mazur and Ronald K. Bullis, Legal Guide for Day-To-Day Church Matters : A Handbook for Pastors and Church Members

7.6 Handling Community Opposition

Even a Demos’ best efforts at putting forward a positive image may meet with opposition from certain facets of the community.Much opposition can be headed off by making the effort to educate the public about our religion. Viewed objectively, Hellenes have a great deal in common with many mainstream religious people. Except for being polytheists, we hold dear many of the same values: family, civic virtue, and personal piety, for example.However, there will always be people who focus on differences rather than similarities. Here are some suggestions for dealing with different types of community opposition your Demos may encounter:

Problem: Fundamentalists are writing nasty letters to the editor of your local paper.

Solution: Write calm and respectful letters of your own, countering any misinformation point for point. Do not descend to the same level as your accusers and do not get involved in debates. Simply present accurate information and leave it at that.

Problem: Anonymous callers keep leaving rude or threatening messages on the Demos voicemail.

Solution: If the calls are merely annoying, call the local phone company and ask if it is possible to block calls from those numbers. If there is even the slightest hint of threat, call the police and report the incident immediately. (Also let National know right away.)

Problem: Neighbors are calling the police about your home-based worship gatherings.

Solution: Have your legal ducks in a row. Is the home zoned for a gathering of the size you’re hosting? Do you have any necessary permits? Are you being too loud? If everything is fine, call the police yourselves before the next gathering and ask them what you need to do to avoid being interrupted.

Problem: Hecklers are disrupting a public event.

Solution: Do not engage with the hecklers. Appoint a security team to keep the perimeter clear of intruders. Call the police if there is any threat of violence. In fact, it is helpful to have phoned the police in advance to tell them about your event and ask for their help. See if people in the local pagan community have an adopt-a-cop program. If the Demos is too small to start one itself, network with other local pagan groups to start one. Make friends with one or more officers and offer them an open invitation to your public and semi-public events and meetings.

Problem: Your members have been harassed or assaulted.

Solution: Call the police immediately and give a full report. Hate crimes are illegal in many locales. Cooperate fully with the authorities in any attempts to identify the perpetrators. Contact National immediately as well; we may be able to put you in touch with legal aid associations in your area.

7.7 The Pagan Community

There is much to be gained for Hellenion from active involvement with the larger neopagan community: access to resources, information, meeting spaces–not to mention potential members! It is very much worthwhile for Demoi to participate in pan-pagan events when it is clear that Hellenion as a whole, or the Demos specifically, will benefit from it. Festivals and conferences, in particular, are wonderful venues for public teaching about our religion.But there are also a few caveats to be observed. First, it is an unfortunate reality that, in practice, “pan-pagan” often means “generic Wiccanesque neopagan.” Members of non-Craft religions such as ours face an uphill battle when it comes to having our own distinct traditions recognized. We must be firm and consistent about pointing out that not all people under the pagan umbrella worship a monolithic goddess, celebrate the “Wheel of the Year,” believe in or practice magic(k), follow the Rede, etc. etc. None of this is, of course, meant to slight people whose religions do include these elements, or to prevent members of our religion from participating in neopagan ritual if they so choose–and we must be clear about that at all times. But Demoi should be wary of any attempts to make Hellenism into just another ethnic flavor of witchcraft, and so lose what makes us who we are.Secondly, the ethical, social, and political standards of the broader neopagan community–as far as these may be defined at all–are not always shared by members of our religion. Again, we should respectfully but strenuously resist generalizations about “what pagans believe,” never mind “whom pagans should vote for.” Unfortunately, some of the most prominent pan-pagan leaders are also the most egregious offenders when it comes to perpetuating myths about the makeup of “the neopagan movement,” and most especially about its links to the 1960s counterculture.Experience has shown that networking with members of other Reconstructionist religions often proves the most fruitful starting point for pan-pagan contacts.

7.8 Other Interfaith and Multifaith Efforts

It is to be hoped that our religion will gain enough recognition and respect to allow us to work shoulder-to-shoulder with members of other religions on matters of mutual concern. At this time, the Prutaneis reserves the right to review any proposed interfaith or multifaith efforts that Demoi may wish to undertake. (This is primarily to avoid inadvertent involvement in partisan lobbying groups or other political organizations that fall outside of our legally defined sphere of influence.) Demos leaders are encouraged to forward detailed information about such efforts to the Prutaneis, along with a proposal for the Demos’ involvement.Resources:

  • Amber K, Covencraft (St Paul: Llewellyn, 1998). Written for Wiccans, but contains a great deal of helpful information that can be adapted for use by Demoi.
  • Kenneth C. Haugk, Antagonists in the Church (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988). Important guide for handling destructive personalities in a religious setting; from a Christian perspective but very much applicable to all religious groups.
  • Bruce P. Powers, ed., Church Administration Handbook, rev. ed., (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1997). Also from a Christian perspective, but chock-full of useful information on planning, budgeting, administration, legalities, and other vital topics.
  • Thomas P. Holland, Building Effective Boards for Religious Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 1999). ISBN 0787945633
  • Jack A. Henry, Basic Accounting for Churches: A Turn Key Manual (Broadman & Holman, 1994). ISBN 0805461450
  • Dan Busby, Zondervan (2001) Church and Nonprofit Organization Tax & Financial Guide. Published annually for the previous tax year. The same author and publisher also offer the annual Zondervan Minister’s Tax & Financial Guide which may be useful for those who have income from their clergy work. Another title that may be helpful to Theoroi is J. David Epstein’s Clergy Tax (2001).

Links to Important Documents.

Many of these documents are also available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format in the files section of Hellenion’s member list.

Mission Statement: Mission Statement
Hellenion Bylaws: Bylaws
Regular Application: Adult application
Minor Application: Minor application
Demos Charter Application: Demos Application
Clergy Study Program Application: Clergy Application

Except where otherwise noted, this document is copyright 2006 by Hellenion, Inc.

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