Byzantine Paganism

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     After the reign of the Emperor Julian in 363 AD, ancient classical religion was forced to transform. Later Christian emperors closed the temples to the ancient deities and passed laws against their public worship. Those who would not abandon the Goddesses and Gods were forced to continue their worship and rituals in private - and these private rites were forced to become more and more secret as official intolerance increased and even personal worship in the home was banned on pain of death.

     Yet even so, "underground" classical worship continued for centuries. While there are few details of this period in Pagan history, we do have some records showing that the ancient faiths never completely died. Official persecution of pagans, and church sermons against ancient worship are extant well past the 10th century AD, and there are some clear records of Classical pagans until the time of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD.

     During these later centuries it is obvious that Classical religion and its practice changed greatly. As public rites were banned home altars became the center of pagan religious focus, and eventually even home altars might have had to be abandoned in favor of prayer and quiet personal devotion. Philosophy became more important as those with Classical faith sought to make sense of the changes in the world, and to live lives filled with traditional values and significance.

     Without scholarly records we cannot clearly state the details of later pagan worship. However, we can make an educated guess that as the religion fragmented the rites became continually more a personal creation than a traditional structure. At first ancient rites were adapted to remove sacrifice, and then changed again as larger religious items such as statues and dedicated Larararium altars became more dangerous to own.  Through the centuries some traditional details would have been lost, and new details born from personal need and thought added in.

     The centuries old forms of ritual would certainly have changed as time progressed. The ancient formulaic rites would have become more personal prayers as circumstances changed. Yet this does not mean the religious bonds between deity and humanity were broken. Personal expression of religion was always part of Paganism. This personal bond between us and the Goddesses and Gods may in a way have been strengthened as both we and they suffered through difficult times.

Here we present a mix of Classical rituals and prayers. We will begin where Classical religion probably "left off", with household rites and personal prayer, and then work our way "outwards" to more public rites.
 

I. PRIVATE HOUSEHOLD RITES

A simple Lararium Ritual

Items needed - a shelf or tabletop for an altar, a lamp or candle, a dish

Offering to a Deity

 

II. PERSONAL PRAYERS

Prayer to Jupiter/Zeus

Prayer to Juno/Hera

Prayer to Minerva/Athena

Prayer to Mercury

Prayer to Mars

Prayer to Venus

Prayer to

III. PUBLIC RITUALS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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