Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Case for Clergy in Hellenism

Sometimes, Hellenism is thought of, and promoted as, a priest-free religion. While it's true that we do not have clergy in the Christian sense, it's simply historically untrue to say that the religion or religions had no leadership, priests and priestesses. There were people who led prophecy, public rites, and priests of temples and sacred areas. If someone built a temple, they were also considered the clergy of that establishment. But instead of citing history in this post, I want to make the case for why clergy is so important for Hellenism today.

As priests and priestesses, while we are not dictators of worshipers, or intercessors for Gods, we are still students of the religion and keepers and protectors of knowledge. Let's then consider the fact that Hellenism today is a very small religion. We have little to no resources, support or counseling. Without dedicated leaders such as clergy willing to take the reins and help people understand the religion, spirituality and history, Hellenists, especially new ones, would have nowhere to turn. I can't tell you how many times people have messaged me with questions, asking for counsel, or about the Gods in their everyday lives, and how much of a great help I have been to them.

Secondly, let's face it, we priests and priestesses are also the most likely to build and open temples and sanctuaries, host public rites, and provide services. I have had my own temple, as well as my own public sanctuary to Artemis, for years. I've led public rites as well for years, and as the Oracle of my temple, my wife (the priestess) has always given expert and concrete counsel to people seeking advice through divination. She's a very experienced, careful and elaborate reader and seer, and rarely ever charges money.

Thirdly, people today still want marriage, blessings and burial rites to name a few common services. Clergy provides this on a legal and religious basis. If a Hellene or a Greek Pagan wants a priest or minister of their religion for these purposes, they must have someone to turn to. It's not right to tell them to just go to the courthouse or call a Universal minister who may not even understand their religious beliefs or practices.

In our attempt to get away from the Christian establishment, we need to also make sure we don't destroy our own structure just because Christians may have it too. Clergy and the duties of their offices are not inherently Christian concepts.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Banishment Prayer of Herakles

O' holy Herakles,
Protector of Mankind,
beloved Son of Zeus,
from your heavenly abode,
please hear our supplication,
and come to our aid.

Open the gates of Olympos,
that Godly glory shine upon us.
We pray also to Zeus,
King and Father of All,
that He may send you to our favor,
to smash evil beneath your club,
and strike down our foes,
that they will no longer plague our lives,
or the order of the universe.

O' Herakles, subdue the ancient Hydras,
the Nemean lions of the world,
the Cretan bulls and man-eating Mares of old,
and plunge them into the depth of Tartaros,
forever bound and imprisoned from humankind.

Prayer by Chris Aldridge, 2018.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Poor Man's Offering

Even as far back as ancient times, people have thought the Gods to be impressed, perhaps even to require, extravagant offerings and gifts for their favor. But one of my favorite stories of ancient Greece comes from the Oracle of Delphi herself. It is unknown when this occurred, as in an exact date or century, at least according to my own records. Nevertheless, the moral of the event teaches us a very strong lesson, especially if we are followers of ancient Greek religion.

The story has no title I have seen, so I shall name it The Poor Man's Offering. While we may not have a lot of official information, we do have the name of the man in question, Hermioneus. Surely by now, even the fragments of his bones have withered away as his soul rests hopefully in Elysium, but his story remains with us for all time.

A very rich man of Thessaly once went to offer to Apollon at the Delphic temple. Hermioneus was there as well. The rich man showered the God with splendid gifts that only the fullest of pockets and bank accounts could accrue, thinking that surely he now possessed the favor of the God. When Hermioneus came forth to present his gifts, he merely took from his pouch a small portion of barely and placed it upon the altar.  No doubt, the rich man nearly died laughing, at least in his own mind. But through the Delphic Oracle, Apollon spoke, and said that He liked the offering of Hermioneus more.

You see, the rich man was concerned with vanity, whereas Hermioneus was concerned with sincere devotion. It was nothing for the rich man to give Apollon the best money could buy, because he had all the money. However, it was a very telling act of character for the poor man to give what he could, to do his best, in the face of the Gods. The fact of the matter is that the Gods do not need anything we can give them. Apollon could have gotten all of the gifts the rich man gave him entirely on his own. What the Gods enjoy seeing is devotion and supplication, that we humble ourselves and realize who the Gods are. It doesn't matter if you offer one slice of bread from the Dollar Store, or the finest gold in all of America. The gift itself means nothing to the God or Goddess because they already own it. All of the universe is theirs. What they don't own is your devotion, your worship, and your love. For you to give that freely, means the most of all. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Source - Stagman, Myron, 100 Prophecies of the Delphic Oracle, City-State Press, 1999.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Prayer Works ~ A Pagan Perspective

Some people, even religious ones, think that prayer doesn't work, that it changes nothing about you or the world. That at best, it's just for personal reflection and nothing more. I can say from experience that this is utterly untrue. Prayer may not always give us the results we want if the Gods wish a different course, or if something is just not meant to be now or ever, but it's not true to say that prayer has no benefits.

I actually became Hellenic officially because of a prayer that the Gods answered right in front of me within a few seconds of the petition. So for someone, even a high religious leader, to stand there and tell me prayer doesn't work, makes me yawn and slowly blink at best.

Let's begin this discussion about prayer on a personal level, then we will move to the outside world. As someone who has suffered from real and severe mental issues like depression and anxiety, I can say prayer has been better than medication and therapy. I can wake up in the morning feeling awful, but when I am in, and complete, my daily rites and I put my necklace around my neck and say, "I go forth in the Gods today," my physical life completely changes 100%. I am happy and at peace through the Gods. I feel fulfilled and purposeful. My doctors have even told me to institute prayer time as a treatment since it works for me. Literally, it solves my personal problems. When you are in the presence of the Gods, all things evil and harmful flee. You don't experience them anymore because they simply don't exist in Their presence.

Now, let's talk about prayer in terms of the outside world. I too have seen prayer change things in these regards before. My family was recently involved in an ugly lawsuit with a former employer. We were not in the wrong in the matter, but they compiled loads of claims and "witnesses" against us. We thought for sure that we were going to lose and owe them about $3,000. I cannot tell you how many times I prayed to Athene for victory in the matter, the Goddess of Law and justice. Not only did we win completely as our foe exhausted all of their appeals, but they ended up having to pay us over $1,000 at ruling. That same week, after more prayer to the Gods for successful employment, my wife got the job she had been wanting for a while. Before our supplication to the Gods, all was in fearful question. Our very livelihoods were in doubt. But once the Gods heard our prayers, and saw that we were the ones on the side of justice, victory was ours 100%.

Don't tell me prayer doesn't work. It can make the worst things go away, and the most dismal of fortunes take a turn for the best.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Daily Devotions - A Greek Outline

Upon request from a fellow Hellenist who is having trouble coming up with daily religious activities, I have decided to make this post with loads of such information, not just for specifically Hellenists, but for anyone who wants to worship Greek Gods on any given day.

Before I begin the outline, I will list all the things you will need to follow it on a day-to-day basis.

* A candle.
* Incense.
* Libation.
* A glass of grape juice or wine.
* Bite of chocolate.
* A copy of the Orphic Hymns. If you don't have a copy, they can be located here ---> Hymns of Orpheus.
* Meditation music also really helps with focus and calmness. Here is a link to a very nice video I use regularly; just click and bookmark ---> Meditation Music.

1- Light your candle as the altar flame. All general rites begin and end with Hestia. I enjoy reciting the Homeric Hymn to Her, which I will provide here with a little bit of my own modification, to open my daily worship.

O' Hestia, who guards the sacred House of the Prince, Apollon the Far-Shooter in goodly Pytho, ever do the oil drop dank from Thy locks. Come now with gracious heart and counseling Zeus, and give Grace to my family and home. Homeric Hymns.

A small offering is usually given to Her at this point. I myself offer Her the fire of the flame that comes from the candle.

2- Begin now with the amazing Orphic Hymn known as Mousaios, It is the hymn/prayer that invokes the major Gods and Goddesses of Greek theology. Some of the names can be hard to pronounce if you're a novice with the texts, so just do the best you can. Google translate can be used to help you learn how to recite them. When you reach the end of the hymn, you will be telling these Divinities that you're going to offer to them. You can either pour a libation as it says, or as I do, you can change the word to incense and light a cone of frankincense and myrrh.

3- Hold up your incense dish as the fragrance burns and recite prayers to the Gods of the day in particular. 

Monday - Artemis and Selene.
Tuesday - Ares.
Wednesday - Hermes, Dionysos, and Demeter.
Thursday - Zeus and Hera.
Friday - Aphrodite and Poseidon.
Saturday - Athene and Hephaistos.
Sunday - Apollon and Helios.

All of these Gods have elaborate hymns in the Orphic texts. You can also include your own personal prayers or hymns to these Gods relevant to your own personal life. Remember, quite likely, you have already offered the incense to the Gods when you recited the Mousaios, so holding up the incense to them is enough as you recite the prayers or hymns. The sweet fragrance will not only be a great offering, but it will help bring you into a mystical state.

4- Pray and offer to a Hero. Your Patron Hero or Heroine is best for this concerning daily worship, but in the event you don't yet have one, or want to honor others, very big Heroes within Hellenic worship include Herakles, Theseus and Bellerophon. In fact, there is a hymn to Herakles in the Orphic texts. Upon completion, offer to the Hero, either the libation or incense, whichever is left.

5- I like to end some of my daily rites with The Dionysian Rite, see link ---> Body and Blood.

6- End officially by thanking the Gods and Heroes, and asking Hestia to keep your family together and your home safe.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Blessed Water For The Home - A Greek Guide

One thing I enjoy doing is creating sacred Hellenic water, and once done, it can be used for a variety of things including purification and protection. One of the great joys I find is that there are several ways to do this. As you can see from the picture on the right, at my front door basically stands a shrine of sacred water and a statue of a Deity (Athene) presiding over it. Now, in the past, many have seen me call upon Gods like Apollon and Poseidon to create pure water, but in the case of the home and self in general, Athene is a great Goddess because She is, among many things, a Domestic Goddess and a protector.

To begin, place a small statue or picture of Athene on the wall next to the entrance of your home, or whichever door you use the most to enter. You can also use a depiction of one of Her symbols, like Her shield. Below it, place a small bowl of purified water on a stand of some kind. When I say already purified, I mean filtered. I have a simple Brita pitcher that I use. It makes sure the water is as clean as possible before the blessing and practices even begin. It can only help in the purity, in my view.

Over the water, recite a prayer like this,

Holy Pallas Athene,
graciously come to my supplication,
and bless this water below you,
that it may make pure this home,
and protect those who enter with goodwill.

Now, when using the water, soak the tip of your finger, touch your forehead with it, and say, Athene purifies and protects me by Her Glory and Might.

This kind of water, in my practice, is replaced once a week or as needed depending on the circumstances that may arise. You can also sprinkle your home, or the room in particular, with it for the same reasons. You can as well bless the doors with it to keep out evil and negativity. It may seem like a very simple or "plain Jane" practice, but trust me, once you touch yourself with the water and recite the words, you will feel the power.

Keep in mind, you don't have to do consecrations. In ancient Greece, sanctuaries had containers of water for people to use before they entered, and the water normally came from a specific place, like a well or spring. That's all it took. However, other times, it came from the sea, which combines the most powerful of purifying elements (water and sea salt). So, pour your purified water and add sea salt to it, that's it. You have authentic Hellenic religious water, unless you live close to the sea then you can get it right from the source. Sea salt isn't expensive. In fact, Morton Sea Salt is even made in the Mediterranean.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Greek Gods Are Real! Evidence of Ancient Gods in Modern Time

I've worshiped the Greek Gods seriously for 8 years, and through those many days, they have proven their existence and power to me in astounding ways. I would like to share those experiences with the public, so that the idea of Hellenism being an "outdated" or "fantasy" religion will become less and less common. I wish to return the Gods and the religion to legitimacy among the religions of the world. All the stories you are about to read are 100% true.

1. Summer of 2009, High Point, North Carolina, Raintree Apartments.

My soon-to-be wife and I had just purchased our first apartment together that summer, and we were as excited and happy as ever, even though we had little to nothing in possessions. We went to a local thrift to buy a table and chairs for our kitchen. When we got back home, our apartment became assaulted by some unknown entity. In short, a haunting brewed up, presumably from something that had followed us from the thrift store or somewhere else while we were out (neither of us were Hellenic at this time). Doors and cabinets were slammed and sounds of feet running through the house could be heard. The spirit made it very clear that it was hostile and there to do us harm. Being a Christian theist at the time, I began a Christian exorcism which did nothing whatsoever. After a while, my wife who was Pagan, suggested calling on the Greek Gods. The situation was turning desperate so I tried it. When Athena and Apollon were invoked, my wife witnessed a spiritual vision of the two Gods destroying the spirit and all of its negative powers. The haunting came to an end immediately and never again returned. This was our conversion point.

2. Summer of 2010, Winston Salem, North Carolina, Forsyth Medical Center.

My wife became pregnant toward the end of 2009. When June of the next year approached, she experienced pregnancy complications beyond anyone's fault. It was just bad luck. He had to be taken out of the womb at 24 weeks, severely premature and placed in the NICU with the worst chances of survival. Even if he did survive, they said, there was a very high chance he'd be a vegetable for life. Soon after he was born, I placed pictures of Athena, Apollon and Artemis on the windows of his incubator and he began to breathe on his own for a while without the help of a ventilator. Everyone was amazed. I put my trust in the Gods from the first day to the last. My son grew stronger and stronger everyday and made it home. The boy they said would die or be a vegetable is now seven years old, in the second grade, and can walk, laugh, play, and do basic things for himself.

3. 2016, Freeport, Illinois, Friend's Home.

When a friend of mine called me one day about a haunting that had popped up in their apartment, I agreed to come do a house cleansing for them. One of the people who called me was, at the time, an atheist, and they also attested to seeing the spirit. They didn't think the person was hostile, but they did want them gone. They asked me to wait until their child was not there so that the child would not be freaked out, so I waited until that afternoon. I preformed a Hellenic house cleansing rite on every room, calling on Gods like Athena, Apollon, Poseidon and Heroes like Theseus and Bellerophon. When it was over, no more sightings were reported, but what was really astounding to the evidence of the power of the cleansing was their child. The child did not know me, was not Hellenic or even Pagan, and had no idea of the cleansing. However, I was told that the child was now sleeping better at night.

In the Goodness of the Gods,