Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Charms, Amulets & Talismans for Hellenes & Pagans

All of us, no matter our religion or lack thereof, can feel as if we are under attack, either psychically or energetically. Physical protection is also highly sought after. I find myself interested in basic magical practices, such as self-protection, charms, amulets and talismans. I am also a fan of simple candle magic. However, some Hellenists may not consider what I do to be magic, but more mysticism, while modern Pagans and Witches would absolutely call it magic. It is not the kind of magic that contradicts the virtues of Hellenism, though. Because it is merely the use of one's own energy to either protect or advance themselves in their own right. It's not something that attempts to dictate nature or usurp the power of the Gods. Every day, we use our energies for these purposes in our lives. Everything that we do for the good of ourselves or the people and places we love, we must put forth our own energies, in one form or another, to accomplish the goals. This kind of magic or energy work is no different than putting up your hands to defend yourself against an attacker, or doing yourself additional favors to help you reach your desired destination. 

Psychic and energetic attacks are quite real, we just call them different things from culture to culture. Most of them may not even be intentional, the unfortunate one just happened to come into contact. I myself have felt them many times. While energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can be repelled, changed, moved and transformed, and this is the purpose of the charm, amulet or talisman in one sense, which is to reflect the attack away from you and send it either back to the sender, or into the universe to be dealt with. You don't want to absorb it, not even into your protective object, because it will contaminate it. The goal is to knock it back.

The first step is to find an appropriate object, usually a religious or spiritual one that is fitting for you. For example, in the picture at the top, you see my Shield of Athena, which is also the head of Medusa. Granted, this piece is quite large. Yours doesn't have to be. But sometimes, I like to live by the philosophy of, Speak softly, carry a big stick. The talisman can be worn around the neck, or stuffed in a pocket or some sort of carrying bag, like a purse, computer bag, or backpack. You also don't have to be a Hellenist to use a talisman such as mine. Any kind of Pagan can use it if they feel so inclined. Every Pagan religion, however, has its own symbols that can be used for protection or advancement. The Egyptians have the Ankh and the Eye of Horus, the Norse have Thor's hammer, the Celts have their Eternity Knots, and the Romans have the Aquila, to name a few.

Begin by cleansing the talisman with either purified water or sage; both would be superb. You want to knock off or out of it anything dirty that may have been picked up between the time you found it and the time you are preparing to use or "activate" it, if you will. Now the way to charge the object for your intention can be done in one of two ways, or both. You can call on a Deity, infuse it with your own energy, or try to accomplish both the infusion of the Deity's energy and your own, the former being for when your own powers just aren't enough to repel an attack. By attempting to get the Deity's power as well as your own into the object, I think is quite pious and reverent of the Gods, because you are literally acknowledging that you're not a God, and therefore there are somethings you cannot do on your own. For those things, you turn to the acknowledgement of the Higher Powers.

If you wish to only request the assistance of a God upon the object, turn in prayer to the Deity, giving sacrifice. Then, holding the talisman up to the heavens, recite a prayer like this,

O' great God/Goddess (insert name),
upon this talisman (insert name of object),
I request that you bestow your strength,
surge through it your Divine power,
that it may stand guard for me,
in your blessed name,
against all evil and ill that comes against me.

If you wish to simply infuse the object with your own personal energy, hold it in your closed hand and close your eyes, although if you have good visualization and direction, you can do it with your eyes open. Envision and direct energy from your body and mind, moving through your arm, to your hand, and into the object. You should add by reflecting your intent with a certain color for your energy, like red for fire as it repels, and/or green for the earth, as the earth is solid and therefore protects like armor or rock. Charge and infuse the object completely, making your energy stronger and stronger with each surge, until your maximum level of power possible is reached. 

Charms and amulets can also be charged to bring you favor in a given situation, or life in general. They don't have to be exclusively used for protection. Take the second picture to the left of my necklace. One is a coin of Athena, a replica from the 4th century BCE. The other is a modern pendant depicting the Vergina Sun, which is a PanHellenic symbol that many associate with ancient Greek religion, the 16 points symbolizing the 4 elements and the 12 Olympian Gods. Consider first the Athena coin. One might say it can obviously be used for a protection charm or amulet, but also think on the fact that it was part of Greek economy, and therefore could be linked to Hermes, the God of commerce. Hermes is also a God of luck and fortune. So I could legitimately charm it with that intention of bringing luck and fortune to my life. Athena could also be involved as a protector of said luck and fortune. 

To do so, follow the same cleansing and sacrifice format as before, but the prayer for Divine favor upon the object is a bit different.

O' great God Hermes,
as you fly about the world,
pay visit to me, I humbly request,
and anoint with your caduceus this charm,
that it rest upon me always with luck and fortune,
every single day of my life.
And also that Athena be a protector of all things good that follow me.

If using your own energy, follow the same format as before, but this time, make your energy gold and/or orange. Gold for obvious reasons, but orange because the color reflects progression and attainment in life.

On a final note, natural things can also act as cleansers and chargers, such as sun and moonlight, although intentional direction would work best, I would imagine. As for how often you should repeat the cleansing and charging, I'd say whenever you feel it's necessary. But generally speaking, I would do it once a week. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Hellenic/Pagan Writer Rewind

Sometimes, you stop and think about all the progress you've made and the good things you've done, especially when it comes to touching the lives of others. I think all ancient Greek artists have their works counted, especially when we review them in our modern time.

Since I became Hellenic, I have written 7 books, at least 260 hymns and prayers, 4 national articles, and 157 blog posts totaling over 75,000 reads. The best part is that this is only the beginning. I've only been Hellenic and Pagan for 9 years, but in that time, I've learned and grown incredibly. It may not seem like a lot, but our religious community is looking for things to help guide and grow it. This means that people have used those 7 books, 260 hymns and prayers, 4 national articles, and numerous blogs to help them in that endeavor of regrowing the Hellenic and Pagan religions. And I think the best part is that I have always been humble about it. I've never expected to be rich, nor tried to be. I also didn't want people to revere me. I just wanted to make notable marks in life, and help my people as I did. In short, I just wanted to matter.

It has not been uncommon for people to email and tell me how I helped them find the Gods, or how my writings have been a guide for them. There are some Hellenic groups on Facebook I am banned from because I didn't get along with the administrators, but even so, people still post and talk about my writings on the group walls. I haven't always met in agreement with everyone I have encountered with my writings and life, but I don't think anyone can reasonably expect that to happen, in anything they do. You'll always find critics and haters, but the important thing is that you have more fans, friends and supporters. 

It's important for me to recount all that I have done, because there are times in life when I have little opinion of myself; when I don't think I have really accomplished anything. It gives me confidence and improves my feeling of self-worth to bring it all together into perspective, and to realize that there is still much, much more I can go on and do with my life. I am deeply and eternally grateful to all who have supported me.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

BY THE WAY - Don't forget to subscribe to my blog in the right hand column. It's free and always will be. Just click follow.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hellenes & Fairies

When I first began to enter into the old religious community back in 2008, Witchcraft was my main focus, and anyone who knew me back then, knew that I was absolutely fascinated with the Fae. I didn't even really have Gods as much as I had fairies in my Path. I loved them, almost to a level of obsession. They just gave me such a fascination and an everlasting enchantment that, at the time, I found nowhere else. While there are fairies native to the Greek lands, they are not found as an integral part of Greek religion, however. For a long time, I didn't give any real focus to the Fae, therefore. But that's not to say that I lost interest at any point. So if there are other Hellenes out there like me, and they wish to incorporate the Fae into their life in some way, how can they do that legitimately? Well, in this post, I'm going to tell you how.

While Hellenic Polytheism, at least in the traditional sense, may have its exclusivity, it does not discount the legitimacy of other cultures when visiting those lands. It would be perfectly fine and respectful for a Hellenist visiting Egypt to give sacrifice or honor to the Egyptian pantheon, which did happen in ancient times, by the way. It was not mandatory, but it did take place. It would also be appropriate to give honor to the local Spirits of a given area, and that's where the Fae come in. They are essentially nature spirits or natural divinities, depending on who you ask, and each race of Fae, if you want to call them that, is found in their own particular regions of the world. So for a Hellenist living in America, they can give respect and recognition to the nature spirits of America, among them being the Fae who inhabit the continent or a particular state or locality. While they won't be a part of official Greek religion or ancestral Greek rites, you can honor them in other respects. 

It's obvious to me as well that the Fae are clearly real. Back in my beginning days which I describe in the first paragraph, I had a good online friend from Maine who shared the same interest in fairies as me. Unfortunately, I have not heard from her in years, nor can I find her online anymore. But we would share pictures that we had taken of natural things like flowers and blooming grass, and point out images of little people that we saw in them. The images were so clear and distinct that skeptics accused them of being mere paintings that we had constructed, but they were no such thing. They were simply photographs enlarged to show the shapes of the creatures. Some of our photographs even ended up on a fairy sighting page back then called Fairy Gardens. Later on, they downsized their site and dumped all of our material without sending any of it back to us, so the pictures are lost. I believe the site itself eventually shut down completely. I even came to find other people who had experienced the Fae in their life, such as the Irish author Herbie Brennan, who appeared on one of my old radios shows to talk about his encounters. 

I myself have an entire universal guidebook, over 500 pages long, dedicated to all the known kinds of Fae in the world. I thirst for knowledge, I never get tired of learning, and I'm always looking for ways as a Reconstructionist to bring new things into my life that hold interest and relevance. Even as a Traditionalist, I have found that my Path gives great liberation to me as an individual. Because the Gods are not tyrants, and religion was never meant to be dogmatic dictation. It was always meant to bring us into harmony with the Gods and the world around us.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Activating A Statue

In ancient Greek belief, it was thought that the spirit or presence of a Deity did or could inhabit their statue. 

So, I came up with a Hellenized rite that can be used to achieve such activation. But, before preforming on a given statue, I think there are some things to keep in mind. I think this should be done on a piece that is mostly or all stationary, not something that is constantly moved or carried around. The statue of my former Artemis sanctuary would be a good example. It was never moved, always remaining in the same place since the opening and dedication of the sanctuary. The only time it was ever moved was when my family left the property and the sanctuary had to be closed. And second, as I would logically imagine, once the consecration has been completed, and the spirit dwells, the statue becomes even holier than it was while empty. Therefore, it should be kept in a very secure place, perhaps even in a shrine area with doors, so as to keep out intrusions that may come into the room, as well as general dust, dirt and debris that come with every living place. If you cannot provide an enclosed space, just keep the statue clean and protected.

The rite I have constructed is based on what I have practiced and come to learn about Hellenic practices when statues and individualized worship comes into play.

1- The first step is actually for the worshiper, which is to clean themselves and put on clean clothing, that they may be presentable before the God.

2- With a bowl of clean, purified water, take a clean cloth and gently wash the statue. I might even say include sea salt in the water, but depending on the material of the statue, there may be a risk of damage if the salt particles remain on it for a long period of time.

3- Anoint the statue with an oil. Try your best to associate the kind of oil with the kind of God. For example, if the statue is of Aphrodite, you might use a rose-scented oil, or if for Artemis, an earthy kind of oil that could be tied to trees and other wild plants. You only need a small drop, the size of a pinhead. You should probably ideally touch the head of the statue with it.

4- Now's the time to invite the God in with an invocation. Ultimately, the contents are up to you, but below is a template, if you will, that you can use for inspiration.

O' great God/Goddess (insert name),
into this, your holy image, I invite your spirit, your heavenly presence,
that this structure which I have placed and prepared for you, 
may act as a House of your Divinity,
forever in my own home and life.

5- Present now a proper sacrifice to the God. Such as olives or olive oil to Athena, or fish or other water foods and meats to Poseidon. If you don't have such direct offerings, pour a libation or burn incense.

6- Robes of Honor. The statue should now be clothed in a ceremonial cloth, also considered an offering to the God, to express your welcome to them into your home, and also to adorn their statue in beauty. A unique robe can also be uniquely recognized by the God, and they will know your home or place of worship. These robes or cloths can take on various forms, but you should normally try to gear it toward the God in question. For example, a yellow sun colored one for Apollo, or red for Ares. Of course, these are basic colors. You have the option of adding things to the robes. The more unique you make it, the better.

7- Bring the rite to an end by giving your verbal gratitude to the God.

It doesn't end there, though. Now you have only begun. Each day, give offering at this statue to the God. Even if it's something as simple as incense or a libation. Keep continuous relations going. The idea is to keep the God's recognition so they won't abandon the statue. In conclusion, this is how I would activate a statue. Feel free to use your own methods that you may find more suitable or historic.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Why the Gods Aren't Subject to Natural Law or Fate

The Gods rule over things. For example, Zeus rules lightning. If He were the subject of the lightning and dictated by it, He wouldn't be its God. Instead, He would be its servant. However, He hurls the bolt where He chooses, and therefore the roles are the exact opposite. The natural order of things bears no dictation over Him, or any other God. Otherwise, they wouldn't be Gods. The entire idea behind Divinity is that it rules over the things which directs us and the universe. They can't rule over that direction if they are dictated by that direction; the direction would be ruling over them. 

Not only did the Gods, in their stories, rule over the natural order of things, they also changed it at their own will. It is not the natural order that a woman be turned into a spider, but Athena did it without lifting a finger. It is also not the natural order that time and space be broken and shifted in order to bring someone into a different realm so they can help fight an aggressor, but Zeus did it to Herakles in the Giantomachy. Natural Law, time and space mean nothing to the Gods. They don't even have to fight or work to break it open and change or direct it to their liking. They merely decide that it will be done, and it is.

The Gods are also not subject to fate, given what one even considers to be fate. Some may not even believe it exists at all in the sense that every single thing has already been written for us. But fate means you have no control over what happens, that it's already preordained and there's nothing you can do about it. To say that the Gods have no control over something, is to say again that they are not Gods. We can go back to the lightning example. If the bolt is preordained and there's nothing Zeus can do about it, it means He is powerless over the lightning, and thus not its God. The fate of the universe and this world also dictates that all things eventually die. The Gods, however, are deathless. They never die.

But perhaps someone means to say that nothing can stop the inevitable. Such as the fact that, one day, I will die, and that cannot be stopped. Maybe this is what they mean by saying that the Gods are subject to Natural Law and Fate. However, this was also created by the Gods themselves. My time was established when the Fates spun my thread. My life did not start, and is not drifting, haphazardly. The reason the Gods won't interfere when it is my time to die, is because that time is also made so by their own will. When the thread is spun, it is done so by the hands of Goddesses. The Divine Ones are therefore mapping out my life. They are creating for it what they choose, and thus, have complete control over the fate. While one may argue that not everything upon that thread has been preordained, it still shows the massive amount of dictation the Gods have over Natural Law and fate itself. You cannot be subjected to fate when you are fate. And the thread does not break on its own either. Remember, it is a Goddess who cuts it, and thus brings my life to an end. In short, things are started, directed, and ended by the hands of Gods.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What Miasma Is and Isn't

Within the Hellenic religion, there has always existed the concept of miasma, which literally means "pollution," and the dire need to avoid it is always stressed. However, in my view, I think some people can go too far with the fear, almost turning it into a kind of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. So in this post, I want to talk about the concept and how I view it.

Miasma is physical and spiritual contamination that can work against your connect with the Gods. This can include everything from physical dirt and bodily fluids, to living a negative life in general. It can even include hubris. This is why Hellenics take steps to remain humble and respectful before the Gods, and to properly cleanse themselves and their environment before rituals. Being dirty, especially in a worship or sacred space, can not only hinder your Divine connection, but also be disrespectful or an affront to the Gods. This is why altars were placed outside of temples in ancient times. A temple was a house of the God, and to get it dirty or messy was not allowed. A temple wasn't even a place for congregations to gather inside. I also place the altar to my own, small indoor temple outside of the actual holy space and structure, as you can see from the picture on the left. Before rites, I will take a shower and put on clean clothes, and under no circumstances will I allow any kind of contaminant inside the temple area. If such a disaster happens to take place, it should be immediately cleaned, cleansed, and a sacrifice made to the Gods that the structure honors.

However, I think some people have taken the concept of miasma to a place it was never intended to go. I've heard it said that you can actually create miasma if you don't preform a ritual a certain way or worship in a certain format. Miasma, in this case, goes far beyond obvious impurities, and tries to enter the realm of religious dictation, using fear to control the direction of someone's personal spirituality. If you know anything about ancient Greece, you know that each city-state practiced differently. There was no universal consensus among all Hellenes on this matter. Each region had their own calendars, festivals, Patron Gods, and even myths. They were united in their belief in the Greek Gods, but not so much in their ways of practice or worldviews. Hesiod said that if you happen to come across a sacrifice, you may incur the God's wrath if you criticize it. In this way, we are basically told to not find fault with how others worship, and that the Gods will accept one form the same as they will another. This isn't miasma. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

To Be a Priest of The Gods

Ever wonder what a day in the life of a priest of the old Gods is like? Well, if you don't, here's your opportunity to see, at least from my point of view. I've served the Gods as a priest for nearly 10 years. I have found that, as a priest, most of my service to the Gods does not consist to leading public rites or counseling adherents to the religion. Instead, much of it entails daily duties that are mostly preformed at the shrines of my own home, as being a priest also means ongoing service to the Gods themselves. My philosophy is that a priest or priestesses' home is their temple, and within that temple, are the shrines and altars they build to their Gods. And by serving the Gods each day, you cultivate your relations with them. As their clergy, it's important to do this as often as possible until you develop a routine that is as common as your regular activities throughout the day. While it may sound tiresome, I've actually found that the most basic of devotions are enough, and only take a short amount of time.

For starters, it's a good idea to get out of bed at a reasonable hour. It doesn't have to be before sunrise, but it shouldn't be after lunch either. Although, time is really something for us to go by. To the Gods, it has no meaning. They can move through it as they choose, they are not restrained or dictated by it. But still, you should start your daily rites with enough time to do your other daily activities.

After I clean my house, eat breakfast, and take a shower, I prepare the altar with incense and a libation. Finally, I put on my priestly robes for the rite. The first duty is properly disposing of the offerings from the previous day, if any still remain, and making sure the temple or worship area has remained clean. Remember, as clergy, you are an ordained caretaker of these places and the things involved with them. It is your responsibility to see to their care and continuance. You're a keeper of knowledge, and a securer of the sacred.

As I light the candle to represent the flame of the altar and hearth, I first invoke Hestia of course, pouring a small portion of libation to Her. Your daily libations can be as simple as cool, clear water. I believe the Orphic Golden Tablets speak of it. As you might know, the ancient Egyptians were also known for pouring waters to their Gods. It's not uncommon among the world's big Polytheistic religions. The great thing about refreshing water as a libation is that it's a good thing to drink in the mornings, and it's readily available. You just have to turn on your faucet, no special trips to the store or additional spending needed. Once done, I do a grand invocation to all the Gods via the Orphic Mousaios, followed by the burning of an incense cone to them all. The incense produces abundance that is surely enough to be portioned to all the Gods invoked. This is important.

Now comes my favorite part, an individual address and libation pouring to each member of The Dodekatheon (the 12 Gods). As I recite each short prayer, I pour a small portion of the water into the offering bowl.

To Zeus, our Father, as you rule the universe today.
Hera, our Mother, as you bring our growth today.
Aphrodite, our Love Goddess, as you bring happiness to our world today.
Poseidon, our God of the sea, as you bring pure water and peaceful land to us today.
Demeter, our Goddess of the fields, as you bring abundance to our tables today.
Artemis, our Goddess of the wild, as you go upon your hunt today.
Apollon, our God of light, as you shine about the world today.
Athene, our Goddess of wisdom, as you protect and counsel us today.
Hephaistos, our God of fire, as you create beauty for the world today.
Ares, our God of war, as you rage upon the battlefields for just causes today.
Hermes, our Messenger God, as you fly about the world for the good today.
Dionysos, our God of wine, as you bring life and sheer joy today.

The closing prayer, and the last portion of the libation, once again goes to Hestia as the rite is brought to an official close. And that's it. I've done a basic devotion to the Gods today, and I can start my day in their light and guidance. If you like and have time, you can also end by doing divination before the final prayer and offering, to get a direct message from the Gods for your day.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.