Friday, December 14, 2018

Why Do So Many Pagans Get Upset With The Word "Worship?"

Talk to some modern Pagans about their Path, and they'll say things like, "I don't worship the Gods, I work with them." It is obvious, to my mind, that their former lives as Christians or monotheists have left a really bad taste in their mouths, and so they associate even terms our Pagan ancestors identified with as being inherent of the Abrahamic traditions. They came to Paganism, in part, because they wanted to get away from the self-loathing and "groveling" that is often associated with the mainstream faiths, and get into a religion or practice where they could have a more direct relationship with Deity. This is understandable, but worship doesn't inherently mean anything Abrahamic. Worship simply means, to pay reverent (respectful) honor and homage to a God. Any time you do this, you are giving worship. So even something as simple as recognizing a God as a God, means you have given worship. Ritual, prayer, hymn, sacrifice, and art, if centered around a particular God or Gods, are all forms of worship, because you have given respectful honor and homage to them.

It's similar to people who have the same bad taste in their mouths and say they are, "Spiritual but not religious." Religion is defined as having a set of beliefs or practices concerning theology. So even if your beliefs and practices are you own entirely, you are practicing religion. It doesn't have to be inherently tied to an organized group of people, denomination, or church to be religious.

Our Pagan ancestors were most certainly religious, and they most certainly worshiped, and yet they were not Abrahamic. The ancient Greeks, for example, loved, revered, and feared their Gods, and they didn't believe they were equal to the Gods, but yet they were still the beacon of light for the intellectual, physical, and societal advancement of the Western world. They saw nothing about religion and worship that demanded they be anything less than what a human could, or that they despise said fact. They simply realized that, even with all that humans could achieve, there were still Higher Powers to be respected, admired, and thanked for making life and the Universe possible in the first place.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Prayer To Zeus Horios for December 16th Annual Sacrifice

Zeus Horios
(Protector of Homes and Boundaries)

Zeus was,
Zeus is,
Zeus forever will be,
Olympos favor my prayer,
for in the name of the holy King of Gods and mankind, I pray,
and to Him I give my devotion.
O' Zeus my King,
whom comes to us as Horios,
Protector of our homes and boundaries,
who guards with sacredness the thresholds of the Universe,
with goodness and justice forever,
protect us from the dangers of chaos,
that the order of Heaven be our companion and advocate.
Let into our homes no curses pass,
nor inhospitable suppliants or trespassers,
and into our homelands,
let no invasions advance.

O' Zeus Horios,
to the entire Universe,
and all things alive and beautiful,
all people and civilizations,
let us live each day in prosperity,
always moving forward,
and no matter religion or belief,
protect us from evil.

O' Zeus Horios,
to our personal lives,
give blessed favor,
let no obstacles keep us from happiness and success,
let no monster be too strong,
and no journey too long,
to keep us from the greatness that the Gods ordain for all mankind.

May our sacrifice delight you to our supplications.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Why Are Greeks Returning To The Ancient Gods?

Pagan and Polytheistic revivals are popping up all over the world, and Greece isn't an exception. More and more Greeks, perhaps slowly but also surely, are returning to the worship of the Gods of their ancestors, aka the Greek Gods. While it's important for Hellenists and Pagans to celebrate, it's equally important to know and understand the reasoning behind this emerging societal shift. It will help us understand our past, be solid in the present, and push on into the future.

Recently, I went online and caught up with Vlassis G. Rassias, a leading spokesperson in Athens, Greece for the modern ancient Greek religious movement and founder of the YSEE (Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes), to ask him what he thinks about the resurgence. According to him, when freedom and democracy began to regain a foothold in Greece in the 80's after the nightmarish military dictatorship of 1967-1974, the ethnic Greeks began to resurface. In fact, he said, religious freedom had been oppressed ever since the formation of the Neo-Greek Christian State in the 1830's after Greece won independence from the Ottomans. In short, a serious lack of oppression has allowed the ancient religion to come back. I finished by asking Vlassis about his personal devotion and what brought him to ancient Greek religion. According to him, the final straw came in 1976 when a Christian monk literally smashed apart the statue of Zeus outside the Ministry of Education in Athens. Thus began his rebuking of Christianity and his allegiance to the ethnic religion of Greece.

I noticed that in talking with Vlassis, two things stand out. One, that Greeks are returning to the old Gods because they are now free to do so, and two, they have seen what the Christian church has done and wants to do to Greece. They are realizing that their ancestors were converted by force, which was still being applied in the late 20th Century. This realization, I think, also makes people realize they have been lied to and enslaved by the present establishment, and it makes them want to seek their true identities that were taken from them. To this day, ancient Greek religion continues to grow, with 5,000 to 10,000 in Greece (which can't account for the number of people who may still be in hiding), and among the Pagans of America that number over 1 million, there are certainly many who worship the Greek Gods as well, if not exclusively like myself.

I feel I should include my own self in the topic as well, since I am also a Greek Polytheist. Although I'm not from Greece, I am still part of the ancient Greek religious movement abroad. In spirit, mind and deed, I am certainly a Hellene. Of course, mostly everyone knows of my conversion story from 2009, when the Greek Gods answered my prayers in the time of my family's greatest need, but I can also relate to the things said by Vlassis. I grew up Christian, and learning about how so many parts of the world had been forced into conversion, lessened my trust in the church and the religion. Not to mention the persistence, especially in the southern states, of trying to force Christianity on everyone, whether they wanted to accept it or not. There was still, of course, freedom of religion, at least on paper. But many parts of society and even the state and local government officials don't always want to respect it. Then, of course, there's the simple fact that Christianity just isn't the right religion for many people.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Temple Of Aphrodite To Be Reburied In Thessaloniki

Earlier this year, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced their plans to rebury an excavated Temple of Aphrodite in the region of Thessaloniki. Interestingly, the temple was found between two rental buildings in 2010, and if I am not mistaken, there was a huge fight around 2011 or 2012 to stop the temple from being covered back up. Amazing videos were released in its defense, but I don't think they can be found now. Being that the temple was found basically underneath present buildings, shows that not only did the new Greeks build churches on top of temples, but also their civilization entirely. Now the Ministry of Culture's statement on the matter of reburial does not indicate malice. The site has, according to them, become too expensive to maintain (which is probably true considering the state of the current Greek economy), and that burial would protect the structure until it could be re-excavated at a later date. A portion of the ruins have been taken for preservation and display at the local museum, but the structure as a whole will be returned to the depths of the earth, despite what may have been the best efforts of local Hellenes at restoration and preservation.

I don't suppose I am angry about the matter itself as it stands today. I would rather it be buried and protected, than to be left in the open with no protection and suffer inevitably even more destruction and desecration from people who have no honor, respect, care or reverence for anything outside of themselves, no matter how old, precious, valuable or notable it is. If you need proof, just look at the litter that was thrown on the ruins of the temple steps several years ago. So at this point, I would actually prefer that the Ministry put the temple back into natural protection than to let a mob destroy it once again.

We must also look to the future as Hellenists and Pagans, especially if we have a special place in our hearts for the Goddess of love and beauty, and build new temples to Her, like the one currently collecting donations for its construction in Springville, Indiana. You can see the gofundme account by clicking HERE.

So let's respond to this by building new temples and places of worship, by constructing new shrines and altars, and by holding celebrations and public rites that honor Her.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

7th Day Apollonianism

Continuing my posts on the monthly ancient Greek holy days, the 7th is a time to celebrate the birthday of Apollon (Apollo in Latin). Some of us may not have even known that difference in transliteration because we're so used to hearing His Latin or Roman name, but in Greek, there's actually an N as the last letter. Although many Hellenes also probably simply say Apollo. On the 7th day of each month, His birthday is celebrated, like that of His sister, Artemis, on the 6th.

On this day of worship and sacrifice to Apollon, I normally begin the morning with the sunrise, since He is the Sun and Light God, by lighting sun or Hyacinth-based incense, or releasing a Hyacinth fragrance of some kind, since this is His sacred plant. Then my first prayer of the day would be along these lines,

O' Apollon, God of the sun,
who shines about all the world,
freeing us of darkness and evil,
and with your holy and healing hands,
delivering us from illness,
and bringing our minds and lives to insight with your enlightenment and arts.
This day of your birth graced the Universe with the noblest of Gods.
Come, noble son of Zeus and Leto,
to my life, home and altar today,
and delight in the sweetness I give to you,
and return to heaven with me and my family in your heart and mind forever.

Gifts and offerings appropriate to Apollon throughout the day can include things like laurel or bay leaves, hecatomb or cattle meat such as beef and steak, frankincense specifically since Orpheus directly lists it as a favorite of Apollon, and libations of wine. One could also compose a hymn for the God, especially if it can be sung or presented to the tune of a lyre. As always, don't forget to include in your prayers and worship something to personally connect you with Apollon. You might pray for a sick family member, to keep illness away from you or said member, to banish negativity or evil from your life, or to excel in the arts in some form.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Honoring Artemis on the 6th of Each Month

Even before I converted to Hellenic Polytheism, Artemis was one of my most favorite Goddesses from my Greek studies in mythology and history. As many of you probably already know, I grew up in very rural North Carolina, basically in the middle of a forest down in a small valley. I was as close to the wilderness as one could get in my area. I remember times when I would take my dogs for a run through the woodlands behind my house, and I could feel Artemis always in my mind. Everything from the tree bark to the leaves and streams would add to the enchantment of Her name and thought. With the Greek Gods always calling to me in some form, perhaps it was inevitable that I would eventually choose the Hellenic Path, and of course, Artemis later became one of my Matron Goddesses, as many Pagans would call it.

As a Hellene, we have numerous holy days throughout the year. The Gods are always being honored in some form. On the 6th of every month, we honor the birthday of Artemis, and so it is a full day of worship and sacrifice to Her. But it's also action that can be very general, not something that has to be long, drawn out, and fancy. I normally try to carry prayers, simple sacrifices, and celebration throughout the day. One must remember, it's also a good time to personally connect with a Deity. I usually begin the day by lighting forest or flower-based incense if I have any, to release a wilderness scent. Otherwise, I might use general incense like frankincense, and I then recite a prayer before my shrine and my statue of Artemis along the lines of this,

O' holy Artemis,
Goddess of light,
shining Lady of the green forests,
the lively animals,
the beautiful birds in the air,
and the gentle fish in the cool streams,
this day you were born was among the greatest the Universe ever had,
and one of the most blessed days gifted to Gaia, and all who live upon Her.
Come, noble daughter of Zeus and Leto,
to my life, home and altar today,
and delight in the sweet fragrance I burn for you,
and return to heaven with me and my family in your heart and mind forever.

If you prepare for the monthly holy days each time before their arrival, you will also find that you'll have an abundance to use for celebration. In this case, give things to Artemis throughout the day such as wild fruit, wild plants, game meat (deer, boar, fish, fowl), leaves, pine needles, tree bark, and libations of wine, stream or river water, and apple juice. In other words, make a day of it each time you celebrate a holy day for a God by using things relevant to them, and include personal relevance to your own life and present times. With Artemis, for example, I would probably include a prayer for the protection of my children and/or the natural world around me like the forests, hills, and wildlife. And if you want some really good Pagan music about Artemis, watch this video .

There is always something you can find, and always something you can do, in everything you care about.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bibliomancy Divination In Daily Rites

If your Pagan or Polytheistic religion has religious texts, you may find, like myself, that you enjoy a morning rite accompanied by Bibliomancy. It's not just a Pagan tradition, either. Christians do it all the time. I remember when I was southern baptist, my grandmother Faye told me that when I needed to know something for my spiritual, religious and personal growth, that God would guide to the right passage in the bible. Of course, these days, my texts are things like The Iliad, The Odyssey, and various philosophers like Plato.

In short, Bibliomancy involves the practice of finding selected words or passages in a book for answers to a question, normally guided by the hand of a God or another kind of spiritual presence.

The reason I enjoy Bibliomancy probably better than any other form of personal divination, is because of how detailed the message can be when it speaks to you. Instead of producing a card with brief epithets or a stone with a very general marking, you can actually have an entire response a page or more long.

Like today, as I celebrated the monthly observance of Athena's birthday, I used an antique copy of The Iliad in asking Her, basically, "What message might you have for me today, O' Goddess?" I was guided to page 455, which said,

"Cease from the strife! Let godlike Achilles drive from the city right now the Trojans; for what care I for contention and succor? Do not mistreat the Immortals for a mortals' sake. Thus the rage of Xanthus was tamed, but by the dissension of the Gods, the broad earth groaned."

Really, the entire page talked about me allowing myself to have peace in life, to blame mortals for mortal problems and not the Gods, and that the Gods, if angry at anything, are more so upset with the state of the world, not me personally. It was clearly a message for a man who is being too hard on himself as an individual, and to call on the Gods and Heroes to help fight the things that are overwhelming to me. And lastly, that if I am trying to impress the Gods with my own feats, it may be of little consequence to Beings who are far bigger than myself. In other words, once again, don't be so hard on myself.

The advice of the Goddess was a tremendous blessing. I needed it today more than ever, for Her to say those words. She clearly knew my suffering with the hardships of my life, and the ones I have put on my own mind and body. She came in mercy to assure me of the love of Heaven, and this is one of the main reasons I like Bibliomancy. Through the text, She was able to speak to me with direction and precision, because there were many ways that those words could be utilized.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Source: Smith, William Benjamin, The Iliad of Homer, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1944. Print. PP. 455.