“As long as one person remembers, the ancient path survives.
As long as one person worships truly, the ancient Goddesses and Gods are with us.
As long as one person acts with noble spirit, even if they act alone, we are all blessed.
Be thou that one.” ~ The Julian Society
What is Byzantine Paganism?
The religion and philosophy of the Graeco-Roman cultures influenced the lives the of people from the coast of Britain to the borders of modern day Turkey. Not saying that everyone loved the Roman Empire, but rather that Graeco- Roman culture was highly influential in the ancient world. Variants of the Greek language still exist in modern day Afghanistan in the form of the Pushto Language.
When the Roman empire collapsed in about 476 AD, it was split into two different empires: The West and the East. Much of the philosophy and Hellenistic culture of Rome was passed into the hands of the Byzantine Empire, while Western Europe descended into the Dark Ages.
Few people realize that worship of the Classical Greek and Roman Gods continued into the Byzantine empire long after the collapse of Rome. The Pagan religion survived the founding of the capital Constantinople in 324 AD and past the fall of this city in 1453 AD.
(Lararium, Home Altar)
Paganism Goes From Public to Private in The East
Now, this is not to say everything was happy and open for Pagans in the East. As Orthodox Christianity became the mainstay religion in the Byzantine, there was less and less tolerance for the ancient ways. Eventually the church banned public rites and temples for Pagan Worshipers. At this juncture, Pagan worship moved into the home and hearth. Yet as history went on, even worship in the home was banned under pain of death. So the Pagan worship in the East was carried on in secret mystery cults.
Modern Byzantine Paganism
So if Paganism ended up becoming persecuted in the Byzantine, why would anyone return to this practice? Why not look to an earlier time where Paganism was practiced openly in the city center? Byzantine FAQs answers this question well by stating that we probably have more in common with the Byzantine Pagans than we do with the Classical Pagans – since we live in a world where Paganism is no longer the dominant religion.
Modern day Byzantine Pagans look to the Byzantine era as the place where our ancestors left off. They incorporate the iconography and art of the Byzantine Empire into their own practice. Philosophy is also highly important to the magical practice, as are home altars and private rituals. (This is not to say that community and public rights aren’t included – just that they are less common)
How To Practice Ancient Byzantine Paganism
Establish a personal connection to the ancient Classical Deities
Religious Statues and Icons
Community and Public Rites