Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by John Opsopaus, author of the new Secret Texts of Hellenic Polytheism.

A venerable sage practicing a revival of ancient Greek Paganism in the fifteenth century, his plan for a spiritual rebirth of the West, a secret order spreading his ideas among intellectuals and even within the church, his hidden book discovered after his death and partly burned: these might be the elements of an exciting story, but they are from the life of George Gemistos (c.1355–1452), who called himself by the Pagan name “Plethon.” He was the foremost Platonic philosopher of his time, and he based his religion on Platonism, which offered the most developed Pagan theology until it was suppressed by the church.

In addition to theology, Plethon developed rituals for worshiping the gods based on ancient Pagan practice, which he organized in a sacred calendar, with annual, monthly, and daily rituals. He wrote elaborate invocations to put us in touch with the gods and composed hymns or chants to go with them. Although some people suspected Plethon of Pagan teaching and practice while he was alive, and he was threatened with torture and death, his Paganism was not proved until his Book of Laws was discovered after his death. An outraged clergyman burned much of it, but enough has survived to practice his religion today (as taught in my new book, described below).

Platonists investigated the gods by philosophical analysis and by interacting with them through theurgy (ritual invocation, evocation, etc.). On this basis Plethon classified divine beings into several orders. Highest are the supercelestial gods, headed by Zeus; they are immaterial and eternal because they exist outside of time and space (like the Platonic Forms or Ideas). There are two ranks of them, the Olympians and the Titans. The Olympians create everlasting beings in time and space, of which there are two kinds: the celestial gods of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, and the terrestrial daimons, who are beneficial spirits. The Titans are responsible for producing mortal life (animals, plants) and nonliving things. Humans are unique in that we have an immortal soul (produced by the Olympians) and a mortal body (produced by the Titans), and it is our purpose to unite the mortal and immortal parts of the cosmos.

Plethon gave detailed descriptions of his rituals, which are explained in my book. Here I will describe a simple practice, which is part of all his rituals, called the Threefold Adoration:

  1. The first adoration is for the Olympian gods. Kneel on both knees, raise your face and hands upward, and intone, “O gods, be propitious!” Then lift your left knee, so you are kneeling on your right knee, and briefly touch your right hand to the earth.
  2. The second adoration is for all the other gods and daimons. Kneel on both knees, raise your face and hands upward, and intone, “O gods, be propitious!” Then lift your right knee, so you are kneeling on your left, and briefly touch your left hand to the earth.
  3. The third adoration is for Zeus. Kneeling on both knees, raise your face and hands to the sky, intone, “King Zeus, be propitious,” and then lean forward to touch your forehead and both hands to the earth. Repeat this invocation and bow two more times.

You can perform this ritual in the morning, afternoon, and evening, or if that’s too much, then once a day. I hope this has given you a small taste of Plethon’s Pagan religion. My new book, The Secret Texts of Hellenic Polytheism: A Practical Guide to the Restored Pagan Religion of George Gemistos Plethon, explains it all so you can use it easily. I also provide the first complete English translation of the surviving parts of his book and reconstructions of the rest.

Our thanks to John for his guest post! For more from John Opsopaus, read his article “Secret Texts of Hellenic Polytheism.”

Written by Anna
Anna is the Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, responsible for Llewellyn's New Worlds of Body, Mind & Spirit, the Llewellyn Journal, Llewellyn's monthly email newsletters, email marketing, social media marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing, and much more. In her free time, Anna ...