Category Archives: Areas of interest in Greece

description de la catégorie : Areas of interest in Greece


« Greece is the embodiment of beauty and ligth »
Pascal Bruckner

Greece and India have a long common history. For about two centuries, Indo-Greek kingdoms were known, they were essentially territories conquered by Alexander the Great.

Ancient Greece and India have many affinities. Indeed, between the Goddess Athena and the Sakti, the great Indian Goddess who represents the feminine creative energy, with many forms (Devī, Umā, Pārvatī, Durgā, Lakṣmī, Kālī, Sarasvatī …), there are many common characterstics, many related myths, between themselves and in their “indirect” descendants : Erichthonios, for Greece, Gaṇesha or Skanda / Murugan / Kārttikeya for India.



According to Homer, Erichthonios is the son of Hephaestus and Gaia (the Earth): Hephaestus tries to violate Athena, sperm spreads on the thigh of the Goddess who wipes it off with a woolen cloth that she throws onto the ground. The Earth, thus fertilized, gives birth to Erichthonios, (ἔριον / erion, wool, and χθών / khthốn, the earth).



According to the Śivapurāṇa, Pārvatī conceived Gaṇesha, mixing clay (earth) with secretions of her skin.

According to the Skandapurāna, Śiva would have let out his semen, which was then harvested by Agni, the God of fire. It was so hot that the fire itself could not contain it, so he poured it into the Gangā (the celestial river). As a result, Agni and Gangā are sometimes considered as Skanda / Kārttikeya’s parents. Gangā being not very maternal, Kārttikeya is said to have had many nannies, sometimes the seven Mātrikā *, sometimes the seven Krittikā, personifications of the constellation of the Pleiade, to which he owes his name Kārttikeya. Because of the large number of his nurses he is sometimes represented with six heads to suckle each of them. In addition, Karttikeya * is systematically born extra-uterine, either on the breast of Gangā or on the peak of six or seven different mountains (Skanda means “jet of sperm”, Sanskrit, skand, “to transmit”).

* Kārttikeya : According to Greek mythology, “the Pleiades” “the seven Krittikā” are seven sisters, daughters of the Titan Atlas and Pléioné (an oceanic nymph aquatic but not marine).

1. Maia

2. Alcyone

3. Asterope

4. Celaeno (or Selena)

5. Electra,

6. Taygete

7. Merope 

* Sapta mātrikā (s), the seven divine mothers, were gradually considered as the paredres (female counterparts) and Sakti (s) (Power of Creation), female personifications of different Devā (s) (Gods).

1. Brahmani is the śakti of Brahmā

2. Vaishnavi is the śakti of Viṣṇu

3. Mahesvari is the śakti of Śiva

4. Indrani is the śakti of Indra.

5. Kaumari is the śakti Skanda

6. Varahi is the śakti of Varaha

7. Chamunda (or Narasimhi) is the Sakti of Śiva

They are also, for some authors, forms derived from the goddess Chandī or Chandikā, kind and protective form of Durgā. They are the personifications of the seven stars constituting the pleiads.


The path of the Orthodox tradition

We have all been rocked in our childhood by the journey of Ulysses and the twelve labours of Hercules…

The journey of Odysseus symbolizes the quest for self, the twelve steps have an initiatory value as the twelve labours of Hercules represent the quest for the ‘self’ to the ‘self’ through the obstacles encountered on the path toward oneself. It is through these myths that man realizes himself. It is a YOGA.


 The path of the Orthodox tradition

 Making emptiness, finding absence, in order to find Presence… meeting heaven in Earth. In the Orthodox tradition, it is experience that matters, it is by the sensorial and emotional feeling that meeting occurs and not through a theory or a religious ideology.

“To see oneself in someone else and in the loved”.
Father Georges

Tradition, is a “charismatic” experience, it’s meaning is the one of the word communion; it is not just a historical memory of the words.

All Orthodox churches claim according to the tradition of a foundation dating back to the first century of our era.

As the Hindu tradition is faithful to the Veda, the tradition of the Orthodox churches is faithful to the Gospel, to the teaching of the Apostles, to faith, to prayer, to the Tradition. This ‘Tradition’ relies on witnesses, called here Fathers of the Church, Fathers of the desert, and instructors of monastic life because their asceticism and spiritual lives are eminently doctrinal. They are like the Rishi (s) in ancient India with all the strength brought from ascetic experience and from the experience of the divine gained through prayer.

They are the ones who, as the Yogi, embody, make live and flourish from generation to generation, the path, the road, in their own lives and transmit all there strength.

The vocation of the desert passes through Mount Sinai, Mount Athos and the monasteries of the Meteors.

  • Mount Sinai (Moses mountain) houses the Monastery St. Catherine of Sinai, also called Monastery of the Transfiguration, which attracts many pilgrims. To go to the Summit of Mount Sinai, take Siket Sayidna Musa, which enters the ravine behind the monastery “the route the 3750 steps of penance”.
  • Mount Athos (the Holy Mountain) brings together twenty monasteries which support about 2 000 Orthodox monks and other searchers of truth in a mountain landscape also called “Christian Tibet”.

To stay on Mount Athos: it is necessary to obtain a permit (the famous “diamonitirion”). To get it, make a demand addressed to the Office in Thessaloniki pilgrims, “Grafio Proskikiton 109 rue Egnatia – 54622 Thessaloniki Greece”. Give your desired date to visit Mount Athos. You can write, send a fax (00 30 2310 222424), email (, or call (00 30 2310 252578). The easiest is to telephone.

The Manager speaks French, English and Greek; he will give you all the useful information for obtaining the “diamonitirion”. Supporting documents can be sent by mail. You can request a renewal for a period of 4 to 8 days at Karyes, the administrative capital of Mount Athos (offices at the top of the stairs, on the right of the church)

  • The monasteries of the Meteors or the monasteries hanging from the sky (Μετέωρα Μοναστήρια). Athanase the Great is the founder of the Monastery of Transfiguration or Monastery of the Great Meteor. Today only six monasteries are still active.

Kyrie Eleison

The prayer of the heart is intended to be repeated continuously, without distraction of the mind, like a mantra. It is the keystone of the spiritual practice of the Church of the East, which leads to mystical union with God

” Man is similar to a tree:”
body work represents the leaves,
while the guard of the inside is the fruit.
Yet the Scriptures say:
Every tree that does not produce good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
It is therefore manifest that our efforts must look at the fruit,
i.e. the guard of the mind; we nevertheless
need the cover, and the finery of the leaves: it is the body work. ”
Apophtegmes, Agathon, 8″

This will be the teaching of the masters of hesychasm: they will never cease to recommend first and foremost to be attentive to oneself, to enter one’s heart; or, in the words of Saint Jean Climaque, «to aspire to circumscribe the intangible (spirit) in the body “, instead of letting it (the intangible) disperse outside. This is what we call Pratyahara and Dhāraṇā in the asceticism of yoga.

But to the practice of the invocation, we must add some more external conditions:

The first – the retreat into solitude and silence, far from all worldly fuss.

The second – to life in retirement, hesychast tradition added later the practice of a determined body posture and some control of the respiration. This is what we call Āsana and Prāṇāyāma in Yoga.

”One should not think, Christian brothers, that only priests and monks have a duty to pray continually and not the laity. No, no, All Christians have in common the duty to be always in prayer. »
Gregory Palamas

In the philosophy and basic practice, there is virtually no difference between an ascetic Hindu and the approach to God in the Orthodox way. It is through the asceticism of the body, the respiratory control and control of the mind through the repetition of a mantra that we succeed in the Ultimate.

To go further:

  • Petite philocalie de la prière du cœur, Éditions du Seuil (1 novembre 1979) ISBN-10 : 2020053489
  • Philocalie des Pères Neptiques T.A1, Bellefontaine59 (1 décembre 2004) ISBN-10 : 2855899753

You can read the excellent article by Jacques Vigne, titled “ Non-dualité et Mystique Chrétienne,” Vedanta and hesychasm, published in Question de n° 99 et 100 (1995).. This text is a study on Christianity and Hinduism, especially the hesychasm, i.e. the mystique of the Fathers of the desert, and of the Vedanta.


The “Greek Orthodox Easter” in Greece

In spring, in Greece, the most important religious celebration for Orthodox Church is the celebration of “Easter” (unlike Catholics who regard Christmas as a great feast, without nevertheless symbolically competing with Easter). Christmas is obviously celebrated by the Orthodox, but with much less magnitude than among Catholics. The Orthodox really reserve themselves for Easter. It is the celebration for the Greek people. The Orthodox speak of “the feast of Easter” and not ” the feasts of Easter” as do the Catholics…

Indeed, “Christ” resurrects at the same time nature chooses its vegetable renaissance.

Procession of the Epitaph

Very important in Greece, the Holy Week moves crowds. Different processions prepare for the “Resurrection” of Christ. On Holy Friday, the procession of the Epitaph (epitaphios) symbolizes the shroud of Christ and his funeral, it is followed by the faithful holding lighten candles, they go around the parish and the various quarters, rose petals are thrown on the passage of the procession.

For the faithful Orthodox, Easter week begins on Monday with a week of fasting, very much respected by the practicing Greeks (Lent lasts 40 days, meat, eggs and dairy products are not consumed by those who respect the fast), not only on Thursday as for the Catholics. Easter Sunday thus turns into a “debauchery” of food, with the paschal lamb etc., in order to celebrate the resurrection and the end of the fast.

On the Saturday evening of Easter, one prays and attends mass celebrated in the church. At midnight, the priest announces the resurrection of Christ in the forecourt of the church: “CHRISTOS ANESTI”, then he lights the candle of a faithful with the flame of his own (the light of Christ) . The faithful transmit this light to each other, pronouncing “Christos Anesti”. Then the church bells ring with full blow; people shining with joy, embrace and congratulate each other by calling each other “CHRISTOS ANESTI », and carrying the candle lit in their hand, every one goes home.

Before entering his house, the head of the family draws the sign of the cross on the top of the embrasure of his door with the smoke of the candle. Then, these candles will be kept all year near the Holy icons.

Sitting at the table, but before eating the traditional soup (maghiritsa), red eggs are broken, two by two, each person strikes his egg against another person’s egg, holding it between the thumb, the forefinger and the middle finger of his right hand. “Chritos Anesti“, (“Risen Christ“) is pronounced again. The winner is the one who manages to keep his egg intact, an undamaged shell is a sign of luck. Everywhere in Greece, on Easter Sunday, spits for roasting the paschal lamb, coated with a mixture of oil, oregano and lemon, are placed either in the courtyards of the houses, on the terraces or on empty grounds in the country.

In any case, it should not be forgotten that religion is really the cement of the Greek nation. During the 400-500 years of the Turkish invasion, it was the only way for the Greeks to keep their national identity, the Turks having forbidden the teaching of the Greek language and the practice of the Orthodox religion. Relatively speaking, the Greeks acted as do the courageous Afghan women today: learning secretly to read and write, and cooking traditional dishes…



In the Christian Orthodox tradition, icons and their reproductions are still an important tradition. “Easter” is an opportunity to paint magnificent icons about the passion of Christ and the pain of Mary, and to offer them.

Eggs, painted or coloured in red, are offered to family and friends. Eggs are lucky charms associated with rebirth and new life. Eggs are omnipresent in the symbolism of Easter, ancient, Jewish or Christian.

In some families it is tradition to organize an egg battle on Easter day.

Kαλό Πασχά ! (Kalo Paska !) Happy Easter! 

Χριστός Ανέστη ! (Christos anesti !) Risen Christ !


Apart from the benefits of Ashtanga Yoga, what to do on Andros island

Andros is part of the Cyclades archipelago. It is a vast, fertile and mountainous island. Rare in the Greek islands, it has many sources and torrents. Some valleys are therefore very green. The trails of the island allow ballads among vineyards and fruit trees. The architecture is also very different from other islands: large neoclassical houses with roofs covered with tiles. Andros is untouched by mass tourism. It mainly attracts wealthy Athenians.

Andros is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. A well-developed network of trails takes you through the island.

Our Sophia Dimitri very hospitable hosts, will offer you numerous possibilities for excursions.

Must see :

The village of Chora, the beaches on the west coast, the monastery of Agios Nikolaos and of Panachrantou.

Andros Island, the beach

Andros Island, the beach

The beach :

The sand is pleasant, the sea is transparent and fairly quiet. Swimming is enjoyable, but at Easter, water can be a little bit chilly!

Indulge yourself to the benefits of the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, to the blue of the Aegean Sea, to hiking, to osteopathic consultations, to massages, to meetings with other yoga practitioners, to resting, to reading, to swimming or simply stay on the beach doing nothing!

What to do in Athens out of the Ashtanga Yoga practice

We propose two excursions

Visit the old town of “Plaka”, walk, eat and drink on one of the very nice terraces.

For all history lovers !

Discover the historical past of Athens during a fascinating walking tour, alone or accompanied by a local expert guide available at the entrance to the Acropolis. Immerse yourself into the heart of the ancient city of Acropolis, the most famous classical Greek monument, dedicated to goddess Athena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and discover how this ancient monument dominates the city at his feet.

All entrance and guide fees, are at your own cost.

In the evening, watching a Greek tragedy in the ancient theatre located at the foot of the Acropolis is simply magical!

You want more…

No problem, there is so much to do here.

Close to there, go visit the recently build Acropolis museum, superb modern building very well designed, where the return of friezes taken by Lord Elgin (British Museum) is eagerly awaited.

To see at the National Archaeological Museum, among many wonders, the gold mask of King Agamemnon found at Mycenae.

Climb on the Philopappos hill (Hill of the Muses), nice in summer because there is a bit of greenery, admire the panoramic view from one end to the other of Athens, including the Acropolis, to the port of Piraeus.

On Sunday morning, go for a walk in the pedestrian street Apostolou Pavlou towards the flea market, and stroll among the stalls of professionals and amateurs.



At Syntagma square, go see the changing of the « efzones » guards (When facing the building, the guards are coming from the avenue on your left).

If you wish to do some shopping (souvenirs), go on Saturday to the Ermou pedestrian street.

Visit one of the many Orthodox churches, like for example the one located in the middle of Ermou street (pedestrian) or the Agios Dimitrios Lombardiaris chapel, built of wood near the Acropolis.

In Athens, the Greek summer is very hot, dry and sunny. The period from June to early September is ideal to enjoy the summer, including sea swimming. However, the heat can prevent you from visiting archaeological sites in early afternoon. Have always with you water and sunglasses…

Other complementary information :

  • Travel information « flight » et « transfer » « Boat »
  • « Greece cooking »
  • Health information in Greece