εθοσ means “habit” or “custom” or “usage”. What one habitually does day to day is one’s ethos. Change that epsilon in ‘ethos’ to an eta and you get ηθοσ: “disposition” or “character” or “temper”. One’s habits are one’s character, one’s êthos. These words are where we derive English “ethics”: what it is right to do day to day, what sort of person it is right to be.
Look also at ασκησισ: “exercise”, “training”, “practice”. One’s way of life is one’s askêsis. (And yes, that’s where we get “asceticism” from, but that’s only one way of life!)
I am trying to learn askêsis. I am trying to change my ethos so that I have an êthos more in line with what I believe and what I value.
Here is what I will be doing, in the wake of the election of someone who terrifies at least a third of the country he will now be presiding over.
I follow Hestia. She acts with care and love. She tends the home. Her hearth is a sanctuary for those in need. I will act, as best I can, with care and love for myself and others. I will tend my home. I will, as best I can, make my spaces a sanctuary for those in need.
I am Athena’s devotee. She acts with wisdom for justice. She makes beautiful, practical, powerful things. She fights. I will act, as best I can, with wisdom for justice. I will make my crafts and hope that they are beautiful, practical, powerful things. I will fight.
I honor the Muses, the Olympians and Titans alike, and the Olympians’ mother Mnemosyne. They call for diligence and remembrance. They create art that sings to the soul. I will, as best I can, be diligent. I will remember. I will create my art and hope it sings to people’s souls.
I will honor the other Gods Above, and I will respect the Gods Below.
I will offer the Gods what I can, whenever I can. I will pray that They protect and fight for, each in Their own way, everyone who is in danger from the president-elect’s administration.
This is what I want my êthos to be. This is what I want my askêsis to be. Care and love and safety; wisdom and justice and fighting the good fight; diligence and remembrance and artistry; protection and love and care.
Hear me, Hestia, Whose praises I sing above. Hear me, Athena, Whose praises I sing above. Hear me, Melete, Mneme, Aoide, Whose praises I sing above. Hear me, Mnemosyne and Daughters of Mnemosyne, Whose praises I sing above. If ever I have made offerings to You, please help me in this. Please help me. Thank you, bright Goddesses. Thank you.