Kratos: The Hellenic Tradition (Living Traditions Magazine)

I have always been fascinated by the Hellenic Tradition. When I was young I reveled in the stories of the Gods and Goddesses and as I got older and discovered Jung and archetypal psychological myth became even more real to me. When in my teens I moved into ritual magic as others explored the Kabbalah I was more fascinated by Theurgy. I marveled at how the dead were transmogrified into the demons of the Medieval period and the great ancient hierarchies became the medieval Great Chain of Being which formed the foundation for the grimoires and goetia. Principles began angels, archangels, demons and the denizens of hell. While there are a vast number of studies of the Greek tradition in academia never mind philosophy where the masterful figure ofFredrich Nietzsche hangs over the field, I have always felt it is somewhat overlooked in esoteric and magic. Some recent exceptions come to mind such as the Geosophia (Scarlet Imprint 2012) by Jake Stratton-Kent. I am always impressed by the anthologies edited by Gwendolyn Taunton, she not only selected the best possible articles which but herself writes with great erudition and knowledge. These works are always of the highest academic standard but also reflect the world of esotericism and tradition. Kratos offers an diverse exploration of the Hellenic tradition from esotericism to paganism, Nietzsche to specific studies related to Dionysus.

Gwendolyn Taunton begins our journey into the ancient magic of by examining oneiromancy and necromancy. The Hellenic study of dreams is amazingly advanced, discounting influences from the thoughts of the day and meddlesome ideas and discerning which are specifically prophetic. This is a fascinating exploration of the ways and means of using and interpretation dreams and the relationship between dreams and the underworld. Taunton then moves on from the underworld to explore the nature of necromancy and curses.

Damon Lycourinos, whose essays are always informed and a joy to read, offers an insightful study of the nature of magic with a focus on its role amount the ancient Hellenes. This is a well referenced and thought proving piece.

Taunton once again offers a great essay on Dionysus in Greek myth and in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. She offers a truly fascinating  exploration of the duality of Apollo and Dionysus and how originally they began as motifs in Nietzsche’s literary works and then evolved into something truly unique. Nietzsche became a prophet of Dionysus seeing Apollo into the frenzy of the new man or übermensch.

How do we understand the sacred ? This has been a question for religious studies since The the nature of the holy by Rudolf Otto published in 1917. In this essay Kallistos examines the roles of the secular, profane and sacred from a pagan perspective.

John Picard examines the controversies regarding the location of the Leanaea, a festival of Dionysus in a complex but challenging essays.

Hecate holds a special place in many pagans hearts Christos Panopoulos offers a historical survey of her changing image from classical Greece to the present, certainly an eye ending journey. Panapoulos continues with an article examining syncretism and the role of foreign gods in the Hellenic pantheon. There is so much more in this insightful anthology including a superb study of household gods by Panopoulos and more

Kratos is a superb collection of essays, well written, thought provoking and diverse. It is once again a credit to Taunton that she has developed such a significant range of titles.