The Return of the Hellenes focus on the 12 main gods of ancient Greece — the dodecatheon. They don't actually pray to Zeus, Hera and the others. They see them as representations of values such as beauty, health or wisdom. The followers are an odd mix. There are New Age types who revere ancient traditions, leftists who resent the power of the Orthodox Church, and Greek nationalists who see Christianity as having destroyed everything that was truly Greek.
Some of you may be familiar with the ancient Greek religion, a polytheistic faith which involves the worship of many different gods and goddesses. These figures also feature prominently in much of Greek mythology, a famous set of stories and teachings from ancient Greece. Unlike with other religions, Greek mythology tells stories about the gods’ lives that focus on both their strengths and their flaws. For example, Zeus was the king of all of the gods, and he had regular affairs with other women, resulting in many children who themselves became gods and goddesses. As the story goes, Zeus’s wife would retaliate by putting curses on the women her husband had slept with, as well as the children who were born as a result.
Gone, but Not Forgotten
Despite the longevity of Greek mythology, the ancient religion itself all but died off over time – or so we thought. These days, it appears to be making a comeback. The religion has recently experienced a revival under the contemporary movement known as Hellenism. Although its number of followers remains relatively small, this practice of worshiping the ancient Greek gods is reportedly growing in popularity, especially among Greece’s young people.
Back to Their Roots
These followers are going back to their ancestral roots by taking up worship of the ancient gods. For hundreds of years, the Greek Orthodox Church has dominated Greece’s religious landscape. In that sense, the rise of Hellenism appears to be a counter-culture response to traditional Christian religious practices, emerging in the public eye sometime during the 1990s. Modern followers hold ceremonies, reenact ancient Greek religious practices, and have even built churches. Several churches have been established specifically to worship certain gods.