In order to prevent the continuance of the organizational difficulties which plagued Thiasos Olympikos during its first six years as an Unincorporated Religious Association, the following Bylaws of the Association have been prepared and presented.
In accordance with Article Three, Category C, of these Bylaws, Membership in Thiasos Olympikos is now attained by the simple act of reading these Bylaws and assenting to them, that assent to take the form of signing and dating the Document of Agreement appended to them.
Such assent does not in any way constitute approval, assent, or consent to anything beyond the Bylaws of the Association: and anyone signatory to the Document of Agreement may withdraw said assent (and membership in the Association) at any time by submitting a written statement of that withdrawal.
The Name of the Association is Thiasos Olympikos.
Thiasos Olympikos is a Religious Association organized for the purposes of facilitating: the honor of the Hellenic Deities; specifically the Twelve of Olympos, but not limited to Them and specifically including Others: the study and practice of Hellenic and Neo-Hellenic mysticism, and the gnosis derived from that study and practice: the culture surrounding and growing from and related to such.
To these ends Thiasos Olympikos shall engage in both activities and communications, establish and maintain such institutions as may be necessary to its purposes, and acquire and maintain such properties as may aid in the accomplishment of its goals.
Category A: The Hierosuna
Shall consist of the Ordained Hiereus and Hiereia (positions equivalent to Priest and Priestess in other religions} of the Member Temples of Thiasos Olympikos.
When a Member Temple shall have attained sufficient size and complexity of action that it requires more than one member of the Hierosuna, the Hierosuna of the Temple may choose to elect of their number to act in chief, this office to be called Archiereos, or High Priest. Such a person should be elected on the basis of knowledge and gnosis derived from our religion, rather than as a mere administrator.
The primary authoritive and not authoritarian Speaker for Thiasos Olympikos shall be known as Hierophontes Basileus, and shall hold this position for as long as he or she can adequately demonstrate his or her capability of performing its duties and functions, or for life, or for as long as he or she desires to hold the position.
Duties of the Hierophantes Basileus shall include all appropriate duties of a general spokesperson, integration of the changing awareness of society into the vision of Thiasos Olympikos, and coordination of relationships with other groups within the larger Religious community. It shall be the responsibility of the Hierophantes Basileus to remain as well informed as possible of all phases of the work of Thiasos Olympikos and the sphere of Religion as a whole that such duties may always be competently and effectively performed.
As the position of Hierophantes Basileus is largely honorific and awarded by the membership in respect of a person's years of service to Thiasos Olympikos, a successor may or may not be chosen upon the discontinuation of one Hierophantes Basileus' term of office. Should it be desired, a successor shall be chosen from and by the Hierosuna by election of a three fourths majority.
Category B: The Parasitoi
(Position equivalent to Acolytes or Deacons in other religions.) Shall consist of those Men and Women who ave (a) undergone the Initiation into Manhood or Womanhood and who have (b) formally declared for and been accepted into training for the Hierosuna of Member Temples of Thiasos Olympikos.
Category C: The Demos
Shall consist of Men and Women who have undergone the Initiations of Manhood or Womanhood; their children by blood or adoption; their immediate relations by blood or adoption, including such divers categories of partnering as, but not limited to, marriage and blood or water brotherhood: who shall have declared themselves by statement (such statement to consist of the reading of and signed agreement to the acceptance of these Bylaws) and participation in religious observances, to be members of the Demos of Thiasos Olympikos.
Shall consist of those persons who attend religious observances under the aegis of Thiasos Olympikos from time to time, but who have not committed to Initiation or further involvement with the Thiasos Olympikos form of Hellenic religion.
Category E: Zenos
Strangers or Guests at particular observances shall be accorded the courtesies due, but will be expected to observe the proprieties of the religion with the respect due any other religious observance. Should any Zenos fail to act in accord with the standards of the occasion, the officiating Hiereus or Hiereia, or the Hieropoioi, may choose to ask him or her to leave. If that one refuses to leave when the request is made, said Zenos may be ejected.
Category A: Temples
For the purposes of Thiasos Olympikos, a Temple shall be defined as a particular group of people associated with one another for the honoring of a specific deity; such group to include a Hiereus or Hiereia of the particular deity, ordained under the aegis of Thiasos Olympikos; parasitoi dedicated to that deity, and non-Hierosuna members of Thiasos Olympikos; and chartered by Thiasos Olympikos as a specific Member Temple.
As an example, the organization might choose to charter a Temple of Apollon in San Francisco.
Category B: Naos
For the purposes of Thiasos Olympikos, a Naos shall be defined as a building, room, or other physical location set aside for the honor of one or more specific deities. A Naos is a Home for the deity, constructed and sanctified by human labor and ritual, and shall contain iconography in honor of the inhabitant deity, such as statuary, paintings, or other appropriate depictions; such equipage as may be necessary for the conduct of ritual in honor of the deity; and such other dedicated impedimenta as may be deemed by the Hierosuna as necessary or suitable.
A Naos is similar in function to a church, a synagogue or a mosque, and within similar bounds may be viewed as a public building.
An example might be the construction of a Naos of Artemis in Los Angeles.
A Naos Event is therefore defined as one to which everyone is welcome who is willing to honor our beliefs and traditions, whether holding them as their own or not. As a physical Naos may not always be available to a Temple, any place deemed suitable by the Hierosuna may be used for the conduct of a Naos Event.
Category C: Hieuron
For the purposes of Thiasos Olympikos, a Hieuron shall be defined as a physical location sanctified by the Gods Themselves, observed by human beings to be so sanctified, and set aside by human edict as such a place.
A Hieuron holds, in our religion, a similar place to, as instances: the summit of Golgotha, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, or the Rock of the Kabba.
A Hieuron may be (but is not required to be) demarked by some sort of barrier, may include an altar for offerings, and may be so restricted that only the Hierosuna and those invited by the Hierosuna for specific purpose may enter in.
A Hieuron Event is defined therefore as one which is open only to the Hierosuna, Initiated Men and Women of the Thiasos, and those specifically invited for specific purpose.
Category D: Thiasoi
For the purposes of Thiasos Olympikos, a Thiasos shall be defined as a group of people associated under the aegis of Thiasos Olympikos for a specific religious purpose.
Examples of such Thiasoi are:
Thiasos Apollon-Dionysos, which conducts men's rituals, including the Rite of Passage into Manhood.
Thiasos Artemis-Aphrodite, which conducts women's rituals, including the Rite of Passage into Womanhood.
Thiasos Hermes, which works with teaching, mysticism, and those other disciplines under the patronage of the God Hermes.
Most usually, a Thiasos would be organized by or around a member of the Hierosuna.
Category E: Civil Functions
In order for the Association to function smoothly and without undue stress upon its divers members in all categories, it is necessary to provide that various Civil Functions may be accomplished. Although some of the positions which these functions dictate will best be filled by members of the Hierosuna, the interface between the world of spirit and the world of the material does not always require the particular training of religious duty; nor is it necessary for persons who may wish to be of service to the Association to always receive that training, if the service they wish to render is in the material realm.
For these reasons, and in accord wit the usual practices of religious associations in this time and place, there are established various offices and definitions, as set out below.
A: The Members of the Board of Directors shall number three.
B: The Board of Directors shall be elected by the Hierosuna. Their term shall be for three years; but in order to provide continuity, after the first election only one Director shall be elected to the Board each year, that election to take place at the meeting of the Hierosuna closes to (either before or after) the Spring Equinox. The New Member shall take office at the next quarterly meeting after the election, that is to say, at the meeting closest to (either before or after) the Summer Solstice.
C: The Chair shall be elected by the Members of the Board from amongst their number, but to be eligible for the Chair a member must have sat on the Board for at least a year previously, such previous year to have been contiguous with present membership.
D: The Board of Directors shall conduct those affairs of the Association such as interface with the material, social and legal world outside the Thiasos, this conduct always being responsive to the spiritual direction of the Hierosuna. This conduct shall specifically include:
1: The granting of charters for Temples of Thiasos Olympikos.
2: The granting of charters for Naosoi of Thiasos Olympikos.
3: The granting of Hieuron Status by Thiasos Olympikos.
4: The granting of charters for Thiasoi for Thiasos Olympikos.
5: The Appointment of the Civil Officers for Thiasos Olympikos.
6: The general maintenance of the welfare of the Association.
7: The Presentation of Amendments to these Bylaws to the Hierosuna.
E: The Board of Directors shall hold regular meetings four times a year, around the time of the Equinoxes and Solstices, preferably following quarterly meetings of the Hierosuna.
a: The President of the Association shall receive and consider, examine, approve or reject, and prepare for presentation to the Board of Directors such instruments as may be relevant to the conduct of the Association, such as instruments to include, but not limited to:
1: Petitions for charters of Temples of Thiasos Olympikos.
2: Petitions for charters of Naosoi of Thiasos Olympikos.
3: Petitions for granting of Hieuron Status by Thiasos Olympikos.
4: Petitions for charters of Thiasoi by Thiasos Olympikos.
5: Requests for Appointments of Civil Officers of Thiasos Olympikos.
6: Such materials as may affect the general maintenance of the welfare of the Association.
7: Recommendations regarding the conduct of the activities and general maintenance of the welfare of the Association.
In general, it may be said that the president will actually conduct the above described kinds of business, whereas the Board of Directors will enact them.
The Vice-President shall be vested with all the powers anresponsibilities of the President in case of the absence or disability of the President. In the case of the resignation, permanent disability, or death of the President, a Vice-President shall serve as Acting President until the next regular meeting of the Board of Directors, at which time the Board of Directors shall appoint a new President, and/or, if necessary, a new Vice-President.
The Vice-President may also assume such other powers and shall perform such other duties as may from time to time be assigned by the Board of Directors.
A: The Secretary shall keep records of all regular and special meetings of the Board of Directors, make copies of those records and forward copies to:
1: The Members of the Board of Directors.
2: The President of the Association.
3: The Librarian of the Association.
B: The Secretary shall mail notification to Members of the Board of Directors, the Civil Officers of the Association, and the members of the Hierosuna, of the time, place, and planned agenda of the regular Board of Directors meetings. Notices should be sent at least two weeks prior to each regular meeting, and as early as possible before a special meeting.
C: The Secretary also serves as the correspondent of the Association with persons representing local, state, federal and international agencies, and files whatever reports and forms may be required by such agencies on an annual or ongoing basis.
D: The Secretary also serves, or may appoint an assistant to serve, as correspondent for the Association regarding inquiries or other usual correspondence. To this end, form letters may be formulated if it is deemed necessary and/or desirable. In this regard the Secretary may also serve to route correspondence to appropriate persons of either the Civil Officers, the Board of Directors, or the Hierosuna.
E: In the case of the absence or disability of the Secretary, or refusal or neglect of action, notices may be given and served by the President, or by the Vice-President, or by any person authorized by the President or Vice-President, or by the Board of Directors.
A: The Treasurer shall receive and safely keep all funds of the Association and deposit same in such bank or banks as may be designated by the Board of Directors. Such funds shall be paid out only on the cheque of the Association, signed by two officers as directed by the Board of Directors.
B: The Treasurer shall also control the keeping of the books and accounts of the Association, and is responsible for the filing and payment of any moneys required by the State.
C: Subordinate Organization representatives are responsible for the forwarding of quarterly financial records of each Subordinate Organization to the Treasurer in advance of each quarterly Board of Directors meeting.
D: The Treasurer shall make quarterly financial reports to the Board of Directors, and prepare an annual financial report to be published for the information of the divers categories of members of the Association.
A: The Publications Officer shall be responsible for all publishing projects under the aegis of Thiasos Olympikos. Such projects shall include, but not be confined to, a newsletter informing members of dates, times, and places of religious activities under the aegis of Thiasos Olympikos.
B: The Publications Officer is authorized to request a specific donation to help defray the costs of publishing the newsletter; but also to provide the newsletter to those who cannot afford the donation at his or her discretion.
C: The Publications Officer is authorized to maintain a Private Mailing List of the Members of Thiasos Olympikos, such mailing list not to be divulged or copied in any way without the specific approval of the Board of Directors. A trustworthy assistant of good character may be appointed by the Publications Officer to handle the Mailing List.
D: The Publications Officer (or Assistant) shall provide an archival copy of the Mailing List to the Librarian at the time of each mailing for the purposes of record keeping and history. This Archival copy may be in computer format, and may be updated from time to time, so long as it contains a true record of those who have received the publications of the Thiasos. This archival copy shall be kept under the same conditions of privacy as the regular mailing list.
A: The Librarian shall maintain a complete file of all publications of Thiasos Olympikos, including but not confined to newsletters.
B: The Librarian shall maintain an archival copy of the Mailing List for Historical purposes. This archival copy of the Mailing List shall be kept under the same conditions of privacy as the regular Mailing List.
C: The Librarian shall establish and maintain a research library of books, recordings, films, video, or other media containing materials of relevance to the religious and cultural subject matter of Thiasos Olympikos. The materials in this library shall be marked as to ownership by Thiasos Olympikos, and an accurate inventory maintained. This library shall be made available for research purposes to the members of Thiasos Olympikos upon reasonable request. An accurate record of usage is to be maintained.
D: The Librarian shall establish and maintain a Liturgical Compilation of rituals, ceremonies, festivals, rites, and all other such religious activities of Thiasos Olympikos for both Historical purposes and as Reference and Research material for the Hierosuna and the Hieropoioi. This Compilation shall include such operating procedures as are mutable and therefore not included under the Bylaws of the Association.
Section A: Honoring the Deities
As in antiquity, the means of honoring Deities are as diverse as the Gods Themselves, and it is the Gods Themselves Who must decree which forms it is that we shall adopt. With so many historical forms available, it is assumed that various temples will make use of the forms decreed by the Deity Who is the principal God or Goddess to whom the temple is dedicated.
Examples might include: Delphinia, as a Festival in Honor of Apollon. Plynteria as a Festival in Honor of Athena. Heraeia as a Festival in Honor of Hera. Dionysia as a Festival in Honor of Dionysos.
Within the wide range of festivals and forms, however, we may make note of some basic forms which tend to prevail.
Subsection i: The Libation
The most basic form of honoring a God or Goddess is the libation,that is, the ritual pouring out of a part or all of a beverage. The nature of the beverage is usually determined by the Deity to Whom it is offered.
All rituals of offering begin with a libation to Hestia, and also end with a libation to Hestia, Whose is always the First and the Last.
Subsection ii: The Sacrifice
The second most basic form of honoring a God or Goddess is the sacrifice. In ancient times this consisted most usually of the ritual slaughter of an animal. In the Holocaust Rite, the entire animal was burned on the altar; but more usually certain parts of the animal were burnt on the altar, while the rest was cooked and distribute to the populace. As this was the most usual way for protein to be added to the diet of the populace, it served a very practical function as well as a specifically ritual one.
In these times, meat is not only common in the diet, but so common as to have become unhealthy. Animals are slaughtered and eaten not with ritual and religious intent but with a casual and commercial view that is not mindful of the sacred nature of life.
Our sacrifices therefore are offered in a different manner from that of the ancients; and in different species.
In one form, each person contributing food to a ritual feast presents the item to the Hiereus or Hiereia, and the Hiereus or Hiereia selects the best portion and offers it to the fire upon the altar.
In another form, non-perishable goods are presented at the altar, accepted in honor of the God or Goddess by the Hiereus or Hiereia, and later distributed to the needy of the general populace in the name of the Deity.
The ancient preferences of the Gods are still honored, so, for instance, a feast honor Apollon may include the flesh of cattle as the main course. In this sense, we do sacrifice animals to our Gods.
But to those who object to animal sacrifice we must ask: "Why then do you kill the animals you eat, if not to honor your Gods?"
Subsection iii: Games
As in Ancient Times we hold competitive games to be a worthy means of honoring a God or Goddess; for by the process of competition the individual raises his or her level of personal ability to the highest degree of which he or she is capable, thereby giving of the self, in body and spirit, in talent and accomplishment, to honor the Divine.
Our games are stephanitic, and the winner is rewarded only with a wreath of leaves or flowers appropriate to the Deity in Whose honor the games have been held, and the honor of having won in accord with the will of the God or Goddess.
Such games include athletic competitions, such as the Pentathlon, but also artistic and other competitions such as may be desired by the God or Goddess.
Subsection iv: Festivals
Although Libations and Sacrifices may be offered at any time and for any particular cause, such as thanksgiving or a request for help, and games held likewise, the most usual religious observance of Thiasos Olympikos is the Festival.
Our Festivals are not abstractions. they have particular reasons and are held in accord with those reasons, providing us with a kind of ecclesiastical year, similar to those of other religions but different, and celebrating the spiritual events which are of particular significance to us as Hellenes. Some Festivals may be held annually, some in other temporal sequences.
These Bylaws are not the place for a complex discussion of the significance of particular Festivals, but it may be worthwhile offering here a few examples:
The Delphinia celebrates the First Fruits of Spring, the Opening of the Seas for Sailing, the Return of Apollon to his Naos after His travels, the First Festival of Apollon in His Season, the End of Winter, and the End of the Season of Dionysos.
Theoxenia celebrates the Twelve of Olympos, providing food and entertainments dedicated to each of the Twelve.
The Anthesteria celebrates the Marriage of Dionysos and Ariadne, and honors the Ancestors of the Tribe, particularly those who have died in the previous year; among many other things.
It should be noted that with twelve major Deities and a host of others, each with His or Her cycle of Festivals to celebrate, it would be readily possible to fill each and every day of the year with a Festival. The Gods do not expect each person who is a member of our religions to attend each and every Festival, and give full honor to each and every God or Goddess. Individuals may be expected to develop personal relationships with individual Deities, one or more, and give their chief honor that one or those. As different Temples dedicated to the same Deity may hold different Festivals, it may be that one person moves from Temple to Temple in order to more completely honor a favorite God or Goddess.
Polytheism is not monolithic.
The Liturgical Year of Thiasos Olympikos begins with the First New Moon after the Summer Solstice.
Ordination to the Hierosuna is performed by a Hiereus of the God Hermes, in the usual case of a Man, or by a Hiereia of the Goddess Hekate, in the usual case of a Woman. There are some exceptions.
In order to qualify for Ordination the following requirements must have been fulfilled:
A: One must have undergone the Rite of Manhood or the Rite of Womanhood.
B: One must have waited a year after the Rite of Manhood or Womanhood.
C: One must declare one's intention to study for the Hierosuna, and be accepted for the Parasite.
D: One must spend a minimum of a year as Parasitos, and study all the rituals which one might be called upon to perform in the service of the God or Goddess to Whom one is Parasitos.
E: One must fulfill such other requirements as the service of a particular God or Goddess may demand.
F: One must undergo the Rite of Ordination appropriate to the God or Goddess for Whom one wishes to become Hiereus or Hiereia.
Further Details regarding the conduct of our Religion may be found in the Liturgical Compilation maintained by the Librarian of the Association.
These Bylaws may be amended by the Hierosuna, either in physical convocation or by mail. The Usual procedure would be for suggested amendments to be offered to the President, who would check for legal questions. the President would then offer them to the Board of Directors, which would prepare them for submission to the Hierosuna at least six months before the meeting of the Hierosuna at which they would be discussed.
Amendments passed by a three quarters majority of the Hierosuna would take effect with the Liturgical New Year, so it would be well for any such amendments to be passed by the Spring Equinox.
Amendments to the Bylaws shall be published and made available to the membership upon passage, and notice of this availability published in the Newsletter(s) of Thiasos Olympikos immediately.
Suggestions for amendments might originate in any number of ways, or from any number of sources, viz., the Hierosuna itself, members, legal advisors, or government agencies. So long as such amendments conflict neither with civil law nor with religious canon, they may be considered.
---Submitted, this 3rd Day of February, 1998By my hand,
Pyrocanthus, Hierophantes Basileus