Before you pray, read this list of dos and donts to know first.
Prayer is simple. You can pray quietly inside your head or out loud, addressing the god or gods in his/her/their various epithets. If you remember my previous example in everyday Hellenismos about praying to Hermes in the middle of traffic, here’s a great example:
- “Hermes, swift one, god of the roads, luck bringer, please move this traffic quickly and safely so that I can get to my job on time so that my boss doesn’t yell at me. Thanks!”
You don’t have to pray in Greek. It’s nice, but if you find yourself stumbling over it or unable to learn it entirely, make a point to pray in English if you don’t know the Greek translation. Learn to pray first, then learn Greek. I believe in learning Greek because speaking in another language often lends a sense of “mystery” or even mysticism to the prayers, and that keeping things in a foreign tongue keeps their power. “Do not alter the foreign names!” warns the Chaldean Oracles. That line is straight from Sarah Iles Johnson’s book Hekate Soteira: A Study of Hekate’s Role in the Chaldean Oracles, page 89.
The prayer, stated with more Greek, would be as follows:
- “Hermes, swift one, Enodios, Eriounios, please move this traffic quickly and safely so that I can get to my job on time so that my boss doesn’t yell at me. Eucharisto!”
If you think that it will add bonus points to your message to Hermes, “please” in Greek is parakalo. If you really, really mean it, adding “para poli” to your “eucharisto” to make Eucharisto para poli, or “thank you very much.” Gods like politeness and niceties as much as people do, if not more. 🙂 The pronuncation of that is follows: ehf-kar-ee-STO pah-RAH pol-EE.Parakolo is pronounced pah-rah-kah-LOW. Accents in Greek fall onto the last syllable very often, and accent marks often tell foreigners where the stressed syllable lies. When in doubt, accent the last syllable. If you pronounce it incorrectly, the gods will overlook it in favor of your effort. 🙂
A basic outline of a prayer, taken from Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion on pages 74-75 is the following:
- Greet the god
- Address the god by his many names. The safest way to handle this is often to add “By whatever name or names you wish to be known by” in case you’ve forgotten something, don’t know one, or they have a preference that you can’t possibly know because you’re human (or haven’t read through Walter Burkert). The reference to this custom is on page 74.
- Make a reference to the times you’ve honored the god in the past (“If I ever threw pennies on the ground, gave you dice for your altar, or burnt incense in your name…” for the Hermes example above)
- Make the request
- Thank the god in advance. It’s only polite!
Also, the proper stance in praying, if you can, is with your arms or hands raised to the sky. There’s an excellent example of this in the movie Odyssey, the one where Isabella Rosalini plays Athena. Penelope prays in front of the altar of Athena with her arms raised, asking for the goddess’ aid. I really recommend this movie to any Hellenic polytheist, as their treatment of Hellenismos is excellent and heartfelt.
For those interested in discussing the theology of Hellenismos, particularly in relation to what it means for us in this day and age to be a Hellenist, I recommend VERY highly the Hellenismos_Theology emailing list.