Showing posts with label Gods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gods. Show all posts

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Why Don't The Gods Talk To Us Like People Do?


The Gods have spoken to common man in many different ways down through the Ages, sometimes in forms contained in mystery. Even today, each individual can have their own unique way in which the Gods convey messages to them, and that particular method is appropriate for, and best understood by, that person. For me personally, the Gods normally respond to my prayers with answers that effect my emotions. For example, let's say I ask Athena for help in a legal matter (which thankfully I've only had to do once), or I pray to Hera for marriage counseling. They will answer by giving me a total bodily feeling. If things are going to be okay, to put it shortly, their presence will feel peaceful, happy, and relieving. Fortunately, I've never had a prayer answered to the contrary, at least not that I can recall at this time. When the Gods turn their attention to you, your mind and body feel it. 

The Gods spoke to ancient man much in the same way they speak to us today, through signs, omens, dreams, emotions, seers and oracles, each one possibly becoming a little more direct than the previous. If you know anything about the Oracle of Delphi, Apollon spoke through the voice of His Pythia to give advice to mankind, but even then it was very short and often encrypted (He likes to give us things to figure out for ourselves. He doesn't attempt to make our choices or live our lives for us). We may wonder why all this is the case. Certainly the Gods can do whatever they want, yet they do not stand before us and talk to us like our friends and family do on a daily basis. Why do they prefer natural, mental, emotional and spiritual communications? I start these kinds of discussions by saying that I am wise because I know that I don't have the answer. So that leaves us with philosophy and examination of the possibilities.

I would first entertain the idea that the Gods are indeed, or at least can be, directly around us, but we cannot generally see them because our eyes are not adjusted to the plane upon which they live. We know there is a reasonable possibility that other universes exist parallel to our own, yet we cannot see them in our bodily form (although some Gods, such as Helios the Sun and Selene the Moon, are exceptions, but they still don't come down and talk to us). Even in the universe we can perceive, there are signals, waves and lifeforms all around us at this very moment that our eyes cannot elevate or descend to. Nevertheless, these invisible things still have an impact on our universe, our world, and our lives. We can't see the forces moving things along, but they still do. We can't see all that exists, but they remain all the same. And if there are things we cannot see because our perception is limited, then certainly there are also things we cannot hear because of that shortcoming. Is it generally possible that we simply cannot see or hear the Gods with our mere physicality? If so, it may be why the Gods communicate with us through sights and sounds that we can perceive, or at least perceive more easily. 

Of course, the Gods can and have fully formed to people in the past, or have shown themselves to humans. There are always exceptions when the need has risen, but that's not normally how they interact with us on a regular basis.

The second possibility is that the Gods enjoy giving us a textbook of universal answers that we can always live by. For instance, "When you see me send the wind that way, when you see me make the animals do this, when you hear that sound, when you dream about that, when you feel that emotion, that's how you know." The Gods can speak to all of mankind in forms that are ultimate. In many ways, we've already come to understand and accept universal signs. We know to get inside when the clouds turn black, to plant only when we see the soil is fertile, and to listen to our instincts about other people and places. 

Additionally, some may even believe that it's not possible for our mortal bodies to stand in the full presence of a God, citing the version of the story of Zeus and Semele when Zeus reluctantly killed Semele because She was unable to withstand His radiance. I don't believe this, because it would be to say that the Gods can't contain themselves. But of course, I also admit that I know nothing as well. 

Finally, I'd say it's possible that the Gods don't usually come to us on our level because, unlike our friends and family, we are not their equals, nor do the Gods exist for our purposes. They answer our prayers, protect us, give us blessings and advice, and keep order in the universe, but they're not our coworkers or office party. Their positions are extremely sacred, royal, and hold responsibilities that we could not even begin to fathom. I delight in the simple fact that the Gods like, love and are intrigued enough by humans to give us as much of their blessings as possible.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Building A Safe and Effective Outdoor Shrine


No one's happier than a Pagan or Polytheist with yard space. I know I certainly was when I bought my first home. I was already marking out where I would place my temple's shrines and altars, in the rather vast space that had enough room for dozens if I chose. But once you begin a permanent structure of this importance on your property, you may find that it takes a little more work and preparation than initially thought. For this post, I will primarily use my outside shrine of Athena Pandemos as an example, which is pictured above. Feel free to scroll and refer back to it at your own will.

The first step is, of course, rather obvious; finding a suitable or preferred location. For me, my terrain is flat and, in most places, easy to lightly modify with gardening and digging tools. But generally speaking, you want to try and pick a spot that is as independent of outside influences as possible. For example, don't build next to the main road or near a sewer or trash container. The reason for this is because your shrine stands a conceivable chance of being involved in an accident or a desecration. Someone could go off the road and run over it, or contaminants that will create miasma may filter in. My Athena shrine is in my fenced in backyard, among the natural trees and foliage. The only religious structure I have ever built close to my main road is my Boundary Marker because of its function, and I am actually looking at moving it up to my door or steps. Luckily, nothing has happened to it.

Second, you must first place a structure for the shrine's statue to stand upon, and also choose the proper tools and elements by which to firmly install it. Storms will come and bring strong winds along with them. My Athena statue stands upon a Greek Ionic column. Now the other important thing to consider is the material that the column and statue are made out of. Do not use cheap alabaster columns that you can find at craft stores. They will quickly rot in the face of the elements. Even if you paint them, it doesn't matter. They are just not designed to stand up to weather. My column was purchased from a designer that specifically equipped it with weather resistant materials. It is a hard, very durable plastic, but not a cheap one. Its looks, weight and design makes it cost around $150.00. But consider the investment. You will never have to replace it. If you can't afford one, there are other options I will get to a bit later. Your statue, likewise, should also be able to resist the outside weather. There are Greek and Pagan suppliers who make them, and can be found easily online at affordable prices.

The column's base rests in the ground, inside a small hole dug specifically for it to fit in. For a hole this shallow, however, simply putting the dirt back on top will not be enough to hold it against strain unless it is placed within an enclosed area where wind will have a difficult time directly hitting it. For the completion of the base, fill the hole with quick drying cement, which can be purchased extremely cheaply at hardware stores. The kind I have used successfully is called Quikrete. Pack it down, wait for it to dry, and cover it up with the excess soil. As an extra anchor, I also placed a concrete block on the ground on either side of the column, so that if a strong force does begin to push against the base, it will have a harder time uprooting it to the point that it would harm the statue.

Third, place the statue on top of the column with a base sealant. I use E6000 to glue the top of the column and the bottom of the statue together. An abundant amount will greatly secure it against mishaps. You don't want to just stand the statue and leave it without an anchor. Especially if it's a large, expensive one like mine. You want to make sure it cannot be easily toppled, which brings me to the last section of this outline.

You'll notice the nice garden gate that encircles my Athena shrine. That's not just there for decoration. It serves two vital purposes. The first is to close and section off the shrine as sacred. The second is to protect it from overheard dangers, as there are trees directly above it. We don't normally think about it, but a falling branch or even a sturdy twig can destroy or damage the statue or column. But in the case of mine, the falling tree would impact with the iron gate and be unlikely to penetrate. The gate may need replacing depending on the strength of the object, but the shrine will be saved. A strong garden gate of this kind will run you at least $200.00. However, depending on the size of your statue and its location, you may not need it. If you look at the picture and take notice to the altar that is used for sacrifice to Athena, you'll see that it is simply made from straightly stacked concrete blocks. These blocks can also be used in like manner to build a pedestal for the statue, saving you cost on the column, and their immense weight will be enough to keep them in place by themselves. Although you should take note that I do not know if glues such as E6000 will bind to concrete. However, I am sure there are sealants that will. Ask the people at your hardware store. Once you have built the stone column and placed the statue on it, use much smaller blocks or stones, or some other very hardened material, to construct a small shelter around the statue. You must also make sure that said structure won't collapse or fall away. Of course, if you build the shrine away from any direct dangers, you don't need a cover at all. My Artemis shrine looks to the open sky and does not have an overhead for that reason. The protective barriers only need to be in place if there are exterior dangers possible.

The shrine should now spend time being cultivated by you, the builder and devotee. There's more to a place of worship than just stone and iron. It's sacred to the God it represents. They can even spiritually visit it. It is a holy place for their holy presence, and a center for your supplication for their bliss, blessings and wisdom in your life. Therefore, make it welcoming and devoted to the God. My Artemis shrine will have a fresh pine tree in its precinct this year, dedicated to Her as the Goddess of forests and Her immortality, as pines do not lose their green. The more you love and grow the shrine, the more, I think, you'll be surprised at how the God shows their presence there. After I had built my Athena shrine, an owl took up residence somewhere in the nearby trees and sometimes hoots at night (an owl is Athena's sacred animal).

When you get down to the bottom line, a shrine is really a place where you show a God or Gods how much you love them. It is one of their homes, one of their sacred areas, and one of their universal places for you to welcome them.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

How Do I Tell If It's A God, Mental Illness or Something Else?

Throughout human history, and even today, the Gods speak to us in a variety of ways. But such a claim isn't always perceived in our time as being something normal, when in fact it very much can be. Many years ago when I began seeing a psychiatrist for my depression, I mentioned to her that the Gods give me comfort and that comfort helps me battle the depression. She wasn't hostile or disrespectful, although at one point during the conversation, she asked, "But you don't hear Gods talking to you and telling you to do things, right?" I replied no, because that was the truth. The Gods have never spoken to me in a human-like voice, as my wife or a friend would. The Gods have spoken to me through my emotions, instincts, dreams, and at times, omens. I think this is probably the way they communicate dominantly with most people. Can the Gods speak to us with a human-like voice? Of course, because they can do whatever they want, but perhaps these days they refrain from it because they don't want someone being locked up for insanity when they're not. In the old days, people understood that the Gods are real. Today, many people have been taught that there's no way a sane person could hear a Deity. It's just not the case, however rare it may be.

But what if someone does indeed hear voices talking to them, claiming to be Gods? And what if that person is of sound mind, or at least appears to be? What do we make of it? How do we know it's a God talking to us or if we may be having mental health issues? For that matter, what if it's neither? Is there something sinister, like a haunting or a spirit with negative intentions? To me, the answer is simple. If it's a God talking to you, they're not going to instruct anything bad or harmful, because the Gods are always good. The Gods aren't going to tell you to kill yourself, cut yourself, hurt another innocent person, or anything which is negative or filthy. Miasma (pollution) is not of the Gods.

I think back to the ancient proverb, "If the Gods do evil, they are not Gods." Meaning that if something or someone is telling you to do evil, or is doing evil, they are not Gods, even if they claim to be. So to my mind, that's how you know. It's understanding the difference between good and evil, negative and positive, and the nature of the Gods themselves. Therefore, if you do hear a voice(s) driving you to do the bad things I have talked about, you should probably seek mental healthcare and spiritual counseling from your clergy. A good dose of both will do wonders for you.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Gods Give Us Emotion To Make Us Moral

An epiphany was what my wife and I called it last night, during our discussion on the Gods, nature, and emotion. Many times, we humans tend to think of our emotional side as a weakness, as we are the most emotional of all other beings on the planet. It's true that we can sometimes be irrational, but the benefits of our emotional state far outweigh the debts. In the grand picture of things, it's hardly a weakness, but a necessary virtue. Being the most powerful and smartest mortal creatures on the planet, things would be much, much worse if we didn't have emotion. It also allows the Gods to appeal to our moral, ethical and compassionate side far more than if we didn't have it.

Let's start with an example from my own life, so that the reader may better understand this universal truth. I have a very cute cat named Rosie, who we adopted from a local animal shelter a year or so ago. She is a valuable asset to our family at times, but she also has her many problems. The trouble she gets into will sometimes make me incredibly angry to the point that I want to get rid of her, but here's the thing, I can't. No matter how much I want to pick her up and toss her out my door, my emotions create empathy and love, and make me realize that such an action is not only cruel, but very wrong and dishonorable. More so, the Gods are able to appeal that ethical side to me because of the fact that they enabled me with the emotional capacity for empathy and compassion. If I had no emotion, I could do whatever I wanted to other living creatures and indeed the world around me. No matter what the Gods or humans told me, I would be unable to feel or understand it, and that would be a recipe for disaster.

The same goes for other people. The reason we don't abandon our children, spouses or loved ones is because our emotional states will not allow it. Our ability to love and feel keeps us moral and honorable. If we didn't have that capacity, our species would de-evolve into extinction. The Gods gave it to us because it was necessary for our survival and the prosperity of everything around us. And if we encounter someone who fails to show emotion, such as a sociopath, we consider them to be mentally ill, not a natural production.

Realizing this about ourselves is crucial to beginning to understand the genius of the Gods and the intelligence behind our natural existence.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, September 9, 2019

What's The Difference Between A God and A Spirit?

At Madison Pagan Pride last Saturday, I had the privilege of leading and teaching a workshop on ancient Greek charms, amulets and talismans. It turned into about an hour long class that ended up hosting a vast array of ancient Greek spirituality and knowledge with about 15 to 20 students. I received nothing but positive feedback from the people. I think everyone loved it. We couldn't have had better weather for the event itself. The Gods certainly blessed us with sunshine and comfortable temperatures.

But during my workshop, there was one question in particular that I thought needed a blog post. Someone asked me to explain what sets a God and a Spirit apart. This can be a bit tougher to explain than one may think. In fact, I myself had to contemplate for several minutes through the class while we explored other things, and I gave examples until I was satisfied with what I had told the person and the other students in attendance. 

There is certainly a fine line difference between a God and a Spirit, although sometimes there might be some disagreement. For example, people who view Nike as a Goddess and those who view Her as a Spirit, or those who think that Morpheus is the Spirit or God of dreams. Even though we might very well find a majority consensus on the two, Hellenism is not really based on a correct belief system, but rather a correct practice. Therefore, if the question is up for debate, and not laid down in Hellenic law, as it were, people can take one position or the other on who is and who isn't a Spirit, or even what constitutes a Spirit. 

On a basic level, one major difference between a God and a Spirit is might and influence. The God is far more powerful and encompasses a far larger spectrum, while the Spirit has a more centralized, simplistic focus. Think of the God as a tree and the Spirit as a leaf. The tree is a whole of the Universe, while the leaf, still just as real as the tree, is an essence of the tree or the Universe, almost a conscious energy, or even an extension, if you will. The leaf can also come down closer to the human realm and even connect you back with the tree at times. Or picture the God as the vast sea and the Spirits as seashells that swirl around in it. So I would imagine it as different levels of Divinity and power. Arete, for instance, being the Spirit of virtue, while a God of virtue is the highest consciousness and power of that realm.

What's interesting and important to remember is that while a God has the power to transcend into a Spiritual presence, a Spirit does not have the power to do the vice versa, because a Spirit is not a God, while a God has all the power to do anything they choose and become anything they want. That's why in ancient Greek religion and myth, Gods were sometimes referred to as a Spirit of something, such as when Orpheus calls Poseidon the Spirit of the deep. It's not that the God has changed from being a God, it's just that they can become and do whatever they want. The Spirit which is a Spirit by its natural being, however, remains a Spirit.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

It's the age old question, still asked by those who believe in the Gods today. Why is my life so hard? Why do these things happen to me? How come a politician who makes a living hurting people gets to live in a mansion while I live in an apartment and have never hurt anyone? I myself have asked these questions many times, but only today have I arrived at a revelation, if you will, about it all.

My wife and I have been together for 10 years this year, and not without more than our share of problems, or at least I think so. We've had things to worry us to death, scare us to death, throw our family for loops, and keep us up at night. There were even times when we thought our family was going to be over. You would not believe some of the immense hardships we have had to face in this life. But what I realized today is that we have prevailed over it all in the end. No matter how hard or hopeless it has been, no matter how much we have cried and wanted to punch the world, we have defeated every enemy against us and triumphed over every injustice thrown against us, civilian or governmental. We have nearly faced it all and won. Every. Single. Time.

I have no answer to the age old question, and I don't know if I ever will. Sometimes, the wisest response is I don't know. But there is one thing that I do know with all certainty. The Gods will bring you through it all. I am telling you with the most sincerity that a human heart and mind can muster, let the Gods lead you into battle and you will never succumb. Even when in the midst of the conflict all may seem lost, wait until the end is said and done.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Epithet Enigma ~ An Ancient and Modern Theology

Epithets are a paradox in Greek religion at times. Some ancients considered them to all be different Gods entirely, while most of us today think of them as different manifestations of the same God. For instance, we today would think that Athena Polias and Athena Nike is Athena Herself in two manifestations, while ancients might have considered Athena Polias and Athena Nike to be individual Gods in their own selves (although I am sure there were also ancients who saw them as the same Deity). 

I myself have always considered the Epithets to obviously be different manifestations and functions of the God that they come from. For one, it just doesn't make any sense to think that there are 50 different Zeus's. How would that even work? If there were indeed 50 different Gods fulfilling similar functions to Zeus, it would make more sense to give them their own personal names or a name that means "like Zeus," instead of Zeus Himself. And secondly, the very definition of an Epithet is that it's an aspect of your whole. It's not something that separates itself from you and becomes its own person. In fact, without your whole self, there wouldn't even be an Epithet in the first place. So in my view, all of the Epithets of Athena, or any God, is the one God manifesting into the different areas over which they have dominion. They're all the same God doing different things, and rest assured, they're the best at what they do.

This doesn't take me away from being a Hard Polytheist either. I believe there are many Gods in their own independent forms, such as the 12 Olympians. I just believe that each one is their only one. I don't think there's 100 different Athenas, I think there's one Athena and She can manifest into whatever She wants, because the Gods permeate Nature however they choose.

In my own home, I do have shrines to the same Deity but as different manifestations. Alongside my shrine of Apollon next to my library, I have a shrine to Athena in Her Epithet that I call PanAthena, or All Athena, in the sense that it honors everything that She is. But at the end of my hallway, I also have a wall shrine to Athena Parthenos, to honor Athena as the Virgin, the Goddess of Athens, and the Goddess of the Parthenon that gave birth to Western civilization, which is the civilization in which my family and I live and are from. The shrine is also a tribute to the memory of the original Athena Parthenos statue that once stood in the original Parthenon itself. It has since been lost, presumably forever. If I had to take a guess, I would say it was probably either destroyed during the times of Pagan persecution, or it was broken down for its gold and ivory and made into other things by the Common Era Greek State. But the point is that, even with my two different shrines of Athena, I do not consider them to honor two completely different Goddesses. They stand for the same Goddess in many different forms.

I think the Gods use their many Epithets, in part, to better connect with mortals and Earth. We have so many different things that go on in our lives and world, and for Gods who love to take part in the affairs of mortals and the Natural World, they reveal themselves to us in all the ways that we can understand them. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Sense of Faithful Fear

If you base your religion on the views of the ancient Greeks, there's no denying that Greeks do fear, as well as love, the Gods, but it's for a good reason and perhaps not in the way you think.

Firstly, any mortal who doesn't have some level of fear for a God, is foolhardy at best. Fear isn't something that is directly taught in Greek religion, it's simply there by nature. You should fear a God for the same reason you'd fear a bolt of lightning, or a raging sea, because they are more powerful than you and can wipe you from life in the blink of an eye. A God is also far wiser than yourself will ever be. Fear is the result of a recognition of superior power. It is the "right" kind of fear because it breeds humility and prudence. Without a good sense of these things, we may find ourselves in more trouble than we can get out of.

Fear does not mean you're not brave, strong or confident, there is simply a fine line between these things and arrogance and stupidity. For example, saving someone from drowning is brave, strong and confident, but swimming with sharks is stupid, and you will eventually become drive thru for a dinosaur. Fear is merely the recognition of your place and limitations, arrogance is a failure to do so. Now some people might ask me, "Didn't the Heroes do things that most people would have considered beyond human limitation?" Yes, they did, but they were sent by the Gods to do something that was possible. They also didn't sink in over their heads. In fact, the Gods routinely provided them with assistance so they wouldn't. Bellerophon couldn't have killed the Chimera without Pegasos (the horse of heaven). A Hero always knows, recognizes, and most importantly, accepts the difference between themselves and the Divine. Being an affront to the Gods is not what it means to be a Hero.

I find that a lack of fear and piety among Pagans can be an issue. I've seen Pagan writers call Gods "scoundrels," and Pagan worshipers call them "assholes." While it may be rare, it is certainly a real case. A mortal picking a fight with a God is idiotic at best. Probably the only reason they haven't punished those people is because of their forgiving nature, or they think there is something mentally wrong with that individual. At any rate, you're never going to gain the favor of a God by insults, arrogance, or impiety. Even if they don't punish you, they'll probably turn away. Would you help someone who insulted you? Probably not, you likely wouldn't even give them the time of day until they shaped up and treated you with proper respect.

The only time fear is wrong is when it's unwarranted. Fear the Gods because you know they can destroy you, but love them because you know they're kind enough not to, and you will find wisdom. 

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.

Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Build Private Prayer Space For All Purposes

Polytheists and Pagans like being private people. The number of solitary practitioners is one of the highest denominations, if you will, in the community. In some Pagan Paths, like Wicca, it's even drawn controversy as to whether or not it's even legitimate for a Wiccan to be without a Coven. So those of us who enjoy our alone time with the Gods and our spirituality are massive. When I built my own entirely private altar just a few days ago, I wasn't even in the market for it when I stumbled upon the marvelous items for it at a local Goodwill store, but I'm always on the lookout for new stuff I can use and design for my pursuits in life. Originally, I went to Goodwill that day because I always try to buy a little something I like each time I get paid, so I was looking for nice decorations for my home.

As you can see from the first picture on the right, I assembled a private altar very nicely, facing the direction of the rising Sun each morning. Of course, the lower wooden stand is the altar for prayer, sacrifice and even festival celebrations for a particular God when necessary. In the center is the incense burner which is the common offering at this altar, on the left a relief of Eos (Goddess of the dawn) and on the right Hemera (Goddess of the day), over shadowed by a golden, metal reef of flowers. At the very top is a central wall niche to finish. The total price for all of it was about $16. That's the reason I always tell Pagans to search for religious items at thrift stores and antique shops. You can find absolutely wonderful things that cost virtually nothing.

Now the altar is for universal purpose. In other words, prayers, worship and rituals regarding any God(s), Spirit(s) or Hero(es) I want at any given time. But there may also be times to focus on one particular Divinity, such as for a festival or personal need, and that's what the wall niche at the top is for. As you can see from the picture on the left, if time comes for this direct focus, I just place a statue, picture or symbol of the God, Spirit or Hero on there. For example, Hephaistos in this picture, and for the purpose of, let's say, celebrating His festival on October 30th called Khalkeia. In this instance, my private prayer space can transform into a temporary altar or small temple or sanctuary of Hephaistos. When the celebrations are finished, I simply take the statue back to the original place I took it from, and the altar then returns to universal purpose. One of the best things about this space besides how cheap it was to make it, is that it does not take up much room at all. It's barely one yard across, and about two yards high.  The lower wooden section also has a lower shelf that can be used for things like prayer and ritual books, solid offerings, libation bowls, and/or to house relics of Gods or Heroes. With this small and very affordable establishment I have built in my own private living space, I can do all things religious that I need to in terms of worship and ritual. 

Don't be afraid to go out and try this for yourself if you need something like I have built, or perhaps more importantly, if you think something like this would be the most practical for you at this time. There is always more than one way to be Pagan.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Finding Altars In Nature

In the Pagan community, we often talk about building shrines and altars, but have we ever considered that there are natural altars everywhere around us, that nature Herself has built? It is great that these things exist and that we can find them, since Pagan spirituality is often if not entirely connected to Nature and the Natural Universe. There are essentially four main kinds of natural altars that I myself have come to identify in the soils of the world. The first on the right is one of the most common. You may have to click the picture to enlarge it that you may see the structure, but it's an above ground root system that has ascended a significant portion above the soil. Offerings can be left in the narrow spaces of the roots, or if a libation, drenched over the roots themselves. Water or flavored water is recommended for this kind of altar. Alcohol or too much milk may be bad for the plant system. 

Now because the root system is part of a tree, the natural soil, and perhaps a forest, there are certain Gods tied to them, and these would be the best Gods to honor at these places. The Gods include Artemis, Pan, Demeter, Dionysos and Gaia, or generally speaking, the Dryads or Forest Nymphs. If a specific tree like an oak, olive or laurel, very specific Gods such as Zeus, Athena and Apollon can be honored successfully, since those trees are directly sacred to these Deities. You could even honor local Elemental Spirits at these places by pouring libations to Gnomes or Elves for instance, since they are known to be dwellers of roots and trees.

The second place in nature that makes a great altar, although sometimes requires some assembly, is a rock formation, like the picture on the left. As far back as ancient times, and still today, Pagans and Polytheists used/use stacks of natural stones as altars over which they pour libations. In my own religious past, I've also burned incense upon them. Some formations, obviously, are quite larger than others. You may encounter a massive protruding ledge or boulder in a park or forest, or as with the picture, you could simply come upon a few small pebbles that can be stacked or brought together into formation. Some people have even taken stone to craft their own unique altars, likes ones I have seen at Pagan sanctuaries. A raised stone or rock surface is a natural altar. Any God, Spirit, Hero, Deified Mortal or Ancestor can be honored upon these structures.

The third place for a natural altar is one of my favorites, and is probably very easy to locate if you live in an area with forests or a good tree population, and that is a simple tree stump, left over after a tree has fallen or been cut down. The picture on the right will give you a good example. Many may think of stumps as being quite large, but they can be of any mass, big or small. They make great natural altars because of their often flat surfaces and various openings, which can be used to receive libations, or hold offerings or burning incense on their surfaces. Because they are attached to the ground, you could even designate and ordain such a place as your worship area if it rests on your own land. And once again, it's very fluid in spirituality. Anyone can be honored upon them. 

Finally, the last natural area is not so much an altar, but rather a depositing area, and that's a natural hole in the ground, like the picture on the left. Offerings can be left in them and libations poured. Since it's basically the beginning of a tunnel underground, Chthonic or Underworld Gods should be honored through them, such as Haides, Hermes, Persephone, Hekate, and Charon. Spirits of the dead such as Ancestors, Passed Loved Ones, and Heroes can also receive offering here. And Nature Spirits or Elementals can be offered to through underground regions, such as Dwarves. However, there is something very important to remember with these places. Make sure you can see the bottom of the hole, that the floor of it is visible. This probably means that no small animals live in it, and therefore you won't risk drowning a poor creature or being bitten by it. If there is a bottom that is visible, this won't be a problem. Even if the small opening is the home of a creature who is presently not there, the liquid will soak down into the earth and not bother them when they return. It would also be a great place to burn incense in. If you still don't feel comfortable doing it, you can always dig your own small opening in the ground for temporary use.

There is as well something called a tree clearing, a place in a thick forest that has no trees, where trees are noticeably absent. You can see trees around you, but there is perhaps a 15 to 20 foot radius where there are none. These will normally be marked by lush grass, flowers or other natural growths, and are great sanctuaries for Pagan activity. These areas are naturally formed, not man-made, which is an important factor. There are some places in the forest where the trees just didn't grow or grow as much, and this is a proper clearing for the Pagan. An immediate or recent man-made clearing is not natural, and therefore not Pagan. It could even harbor negative energy or angry Spirits. A man-made clearing will usually be identifiable by the presence of freshly cut wood, downed trees, and no vegetation. The ground will usually be covered in mud or straw. While the forest and plants can and will return over time, it's not an immediate place to revere or enter.

With all that being said, it's also entirely possible to build a natural altar yourself from natural material, such as digging your own burrow like I said, arranging stones, or even stacking loose roots or sticks themselves. When I lived in Thomasville, North Carolina and was just starting to get into Paganism, I actually built an altar to Artemis in the forest beside my home, which I still have records of in an old Witch Almanac I had at the time. It was a collection of three massive and hollow branches that had somehow ended up twisted together on the forest floor. I creatively propped them up against a nearby tree near its base, and from there, I declared it to be an altar of the Forest Goddess Herself. As far as I know, it is still there 10 years later.

Don't forget that you can use the locations of the structures, and the structures themselves, to focus on Deity. You have the examples above in the 2nd and 5th paragraphs, but there can also be a number of other things to consider. For example, if next to a well, spring, river or ocean, invoke Poseidon, Aphrodite, Amphitrite, and/or the number of fresh and saltwater Spirits and Nymphs, such as the Nereids (saltwater) or the Naiads (freshwater). If near a place of forge, workmen or craftsmen, honor Hephaistos or the Creation Forces known as the Kabeiroi. If on or near a place where battles took place, Ares or the Spirit of courage Alke. If certain animals inhabit the area, like female cows who have not yet given birth, focus on Hera. There are a number of identifications all around a given place if you look.

There are a few notes to remember about natural altar areas. For one, root systems, trees, groves and burrows can be dwelling places or sanctuaries of Nature Spirits or Elementals. It's important to show proper respect when approaching these places and doing things in or around them. Be hospitable not presumptuous. In ancient Greek times, not only were the Gods everywhere, but also Spirits at every corner. Finally, use common sense safety measures. Although highly unlikely to cause a spreading fire, make sure you don't leave burning incense unattended, or try to roast something upon dry wood. Keep the offerings simple and manageable, staying always respectful, and it will remain a wonderful place to engage the Pagan Universe.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Controversial Subject of Animal Sacrifice

It's no secret to history, and no doubt to any logical mind, that the ancient Polytheists (not just Greeks) participated in the practice of animal sacrifice to their Gods, and not in small amounts. At the Panathenaia, for example, Athena received a sacrifice of 100 oxen, which were then used in a great banquet to feed the worshipers. There are also vase paintings from around 500 BCE that show bulls being led to the altar of Athena for sacrifice, with the Goddess lording over the procession. While people in mainstream society, and even many modern Pagans, may find the act to be cruel at best, what does animal sacrifice really entail? What is the reality of it all? Are we really appalled by it, or are we just being reactionaries to something that has been made taboo? Is our condemnation of it real, or manufactured?

I think I am first safe to say that most Pagans, and Hellenic Polytheists like myself, do not practice animal sacrifice today for a number of reasons. One, the expense. Two, many of us don't feel the need or the desire to go through such pains. And three, there's no need to sacrifice an animal when any meat you like can be picked up fresh at the grocery store and placed on the altar of the God you wish to offer to. It is far cheaper, far less burdensome, and far less messy. We are just as, if not more content, by pouring libations, burning incense, and giving general foods and goods to our Gods. On the other hand, there is also no law in the United States that forbids the sacrifice of livestock for religious purposes. The US Supreme Court ruled, by all 9 Justices, that animal sacrifice for religious purpose is protected under the 1st amendment during a case involving the Floridian city of Hialeah and resident worshipers who preformed animal sacrifice.

So let's break the subject down simply. Mostly no one becomes offended or repulsed if I tell them that I am going hunting. They have no problem with me loading a rifle and putting a bullet through a deer's heart, and afterward, breaking his body apart and using it for meat. They don't think twice about it even if I decide to stuff and put his head on my wall when all is said and done. However, if I put a religious meaning onto it, then all of a sudden, the exact same act becomes an offense. Why? Why is it more wrong to chop up a chicken for my family while praying to a God, than it is to simply chop it up without prayer? It's ridiculous to suddenly make killing an animal a horrid offense the minute it becomes religious, but totally fine if there's no religion attached. The animal dies either way. The only difference in the actual act of killing is that the Pagan may offer the animal to a God as well.

Animal sacrifice, in my view, actually gives the animal more respect and honor than simply putting them through a conveyor belt in a killing house. With the religious aspect, the animal is made sacred and treated with the utmost respect because it is being given to the God. Even more honor is bestowed by the fact that the animal will likely be used for good purpose once the sacrifice is over, such as the oxen at the Panathenaia, instead of being killed for mere sport like many hunters do these days, or being massively killed on farms for mere profit. These are the people and places that truly do dishonor to the animal and commit the horrid acts. They exploit the animal in every way imaginable, and could not care less how close they bring the creatures to extinction. The Pagan or the Polytheist who gives the animal to the God cares for the creature far more than your average, mainstream butcher or hunter. The animal is seen as a sacred gift to the Divine, and a salvation to the people by the food and service that its body gives.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beware Of Men Who Become Gods

This post is not, in any way, a political statement. While I may use well known examples from politics to make a point, it does not imply that the post is partisan. The reader should focus on the grand and far bigger picture. Everyone is welcome on my site, regardless of their political views.

Last night, I had a very interesting dream about Hesiod, almost as if he had sent me a message because I am among the people who will understand it. After all, Hesiod is a timeless counselor of humanity. If you have ever read his writings in their entirety, you know his dim forecasts for our own Age, and if you therefore know his predictions about the character, mentality and actions of men in this Age, what I'm about to tell you won't seem odd as a further message about the present state of affairs in our world.

The message is simple: men are being worshiped as Gods, and it's a very bad thing. In my dream, Trump was an example. Many of his followers see him as being favored by God, and some may even think of him as basically divine, and therefore Godly. Some people, like Ann Coulter, even changed our national motto in her book to "In Trump We Trust," thus putting him literally in the place of Gods, or at least flirting with the idea.

Even if someone does not believe themselves to be a God, but instead thinks that their very presence and actions are divinely ordained, that's just as bad. I think back to when Pisistratus tried to seize power in Athens by getting a woman to dress up as Athena and accompany him into the city, portraying to the people that Athena Herself had come from heaven to escort him to the throne. Fortunately, the people didn't buy the trick, but imagine how many leaders today try the exact same thing with their own deity in a number of ways, and the number of people who DO actually buy into it in our time.

This is a very destructive path we are on. It is not only destructive because of the fact that mortals are not Gods, but also because when you give a mortal that kind of power, they will do horrible things with it. If one believes they are a God, what authority do they answer to? If one believes that everything they do is ordained by a God, is there anything they won't do? Is there anything that can be wrong in their eyes or the eyes of their followers? Everything, to the deified one, is justified, no matter how horrible or wrong. Only true Gods can responsibly and justly wield the power of a God, and anyone who thinks that flesh and bone has any authority to play a God, is on a fool's errand.

The larger message, beyond Trump or any political stage, is to keep yourself free of their tyranny, recklessness and dead ends. If you see a man or woman being called a God, don't fall prey. Walk away, and worship real Gods. Don't let a mortal pull you into their own personal cult, because the end goal is your enslavement and the destruction of your own personal spirituality. You can further see this in the fact that some of Trump's religious leaders have publicly claimed that people who oppose him will be cursed by God. Their goal is to enslave you to their will, and to dictate your spiritual identity to their own twisted ends. 

Don't listen to them. Don't even listen to me. Listen to the Gods, and to your own good conscience.   

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, May 18, 2018

When The Gods Hear You, You Know It

Moving is highly stressful, not to mention all of the financial dealings you have to go through. But, here I am again, about to move an hour and a half away from my present home to the region of Rockton and South Beloit, Illinois. Since my wife and I have been together, we have moved every year since 2009 up until 2015, when we settled in Elizabeth, IL up to this present date. Why are we moving again, you might ask? Well, human migration really hasn't changed that much since the old days. We used to move where the herds went. Now, we move where the jobs are, such as in my case. I have really enjoyed Elizabeth and the surrounding region, but when it comes down to it, there are just no prosperous jobs here. So my wife landed one out to the east of the state. There's also far more opportunity in our new area for the temple that I run. The hardest part, however, is that you know that moving a house is Tartaros on Earth; no one in the right mind wants to, or enjoys it. The last time, I moved the entire apartment alone, with nothing more than a hand truck and a moving van. Perhaps after I die, I will be the Hero of Movers, or the Patron of Toilsome Endeavors, or something like that.

Some time ago, I was lounging in my car at the park in Stockton, Illinois, thinking about all my stresses, worries and fears. Sometimes, life becomes too hard to deal with on our own, and that's when the Gods are there. My wife told me in the past, "Sometimes, you have to just give it up to the Gods." I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and began to pray to Athene for strength, and Hermes for success in the move. When the Gods hear you, you know it, because a smothering blanket of peace and love came over me, complete calmness and delight. My troubles troubled me no more. I knew things were going to be ok one way or another, there was nothing to fear. There is nothing that can hold rule over me so long as the Gods are by my side.

The peace simply came in knowing that they heard me. Absolutely nothing had happened yet in regards to the move. We had not even found a new home. But I knew the Gods heard my words, a simple common man, and that alone was enough. Their power and presence is beyond amazing. There are no words which a human mouth or hand can use to describe it. The best I can say is that, when you're in the presence of the Gods, goodness is all that exists there.

In the Goodness of the Gods.
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Daily Joys & Wonders of Hellenic Polytheism


When you live as an ancient Greek, you find an inherent flow of the Greek spirit through you before you even realize it. For example, today I purchased a new book on the way of ancient Greek life, which stated that the enjoyment of life and the acknowledgement of how delightful the world is, constitutes the hallmark of the Greek spirit. This is what I have felt and told people in philosophy for the longest time, but had never read it in actual context until now. When Greek lives within you, it's like all that is Greek also comes with it. You don't have to always willfully put it there. The Gods reach down and mold you into the identity of their people.

I have said in the past that Hellenism has made me religiously the happiest I have ever been in my life, and this is true. A large part of that reality is the simple fact that I experience so much joy, wonder and intrigue on a daily basis with the Gods, Spirits, Heroes, and the stories, myths and customs of ancient Greece.

My first pleasure is that I wake up each day knowing that I am part of a vibrant, growing and supportive community. When I first began joining the national group Hellenion, I attended a libation rite to Hermes through their online broadcast. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting times of my life; to be there with people who felt like brothers and sisters, who believed in the same Gods as me, as we worshiped together in union and friendship.

Of course, the real and ultimate beauty is the Gods and the spirituality of the religion. I love waking up to the beautiful sunshine, knowing that my day begins and ends with Gods all around me. The morning begins with Eos, Helios and Hemera, the latter two throughout the entire day. During which time I can pray to, worship and honor so many wonderful Gods relevant to everything, from Zeus in the sky, Artemis over the forests, hills, wildlife, and animals, Aphrodite in love, Poseidon of the seas and rivers, Athena for my strength and protection, Apollon for healing, light and inspiration, Hera for Motherly guidance and nurturing, Hermes on my travels and publishing endeavors, Demeter for my great foods and beautiful fields, Dionysos for life and joy itself, Hephaitsos for creativity and invention, Ares for success in the battles of life, I could go on and on even beyond the Olympians. When night draws close, I am in the presence of wonderful Gods like Nyx and Selene. There is never a time when the Gods are not there.

As such, I love building beautiful worship spaces, sanctuaries and temples to the Gods, as I have many of such structures at my home. At the Shrine of The Dodekatheon, incense burns throughout the day to all of the Gods, focusing on the 12 Olympians. Below it rests a shrine to the Heroes and on the last level an altar to the dead and ancestors. I also have an outside sanctuary to my town and region's Patron Goddess, Artemis.

I also love the fact that there are so many wonderful Heroes and Heroines in our religion we can pray to and interact with, some of which are my Patron Heroes, namely Theseus. As with the Gods, the Heroes can encompass a wide range of epithets. Unfortunately, there's no ancient list, so we have to use fact-based reasoning behind it. For example, in His story, we know that Theseus traveled on foot across the Greek landscape to Athens, and along the way, put an end to criminals and monsters. Therefore, when I go out during the day, I may invoke Theseus the Traveler to see me safely there and back, especially if I am walking somewhere. So when I take my evening walks, I pray something like, Theseus the Traveler, bless and watch me on my journey tonight. Another example might be Antigone. We know She died for Her choice to do what She thought was right, despite being ordered to do what was wrong. So in tough decisions of right and wrong, I may call on Antigone of Honor. My prayer may state something along the lines of, Antigone of Honor, help me to do what's right, instead of what's desired.

As a devout Hellene, you'll also notice that ancient Greece is always on your mind, and flows through your whole body and life. I can open, for example, Plato or Homer for the answer to literally anything I am going through or want advice on. These sources of philosophy, myth and religion alone are 2,400 pages long. And keep in mind, these men are only 2 sources for the religion and worldview. I never run out of things to learn from or stories to experience.

I'll never give it up. I have only one regret; that I didn't find Hellenism sooner.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Age of Iron and The Fate of Humanity

Hesiod, the ancient Greek writer, talked about the present stage of humanity, naming it the "Age of Iron." Although Hesiod has been dead for almost 3,000 years, reading his prophecy is an eerie thing because, the more you study it, the more you realize how accurately he is describing our own present time, and what's more disturbing, is that he lists it as the last Age of Man, although he does talk about human life beyond it, so we are led to believe that human life may resurface. He describes it as a time of complete dishonor and immorality, a time when people who do evil will be praised, and those who seek to do what's right will be condemned. That humanity will be plagued with evil and pain, that children would harm their own parents, and would carry out acts of unscrupulousness even in front of the Gods. Shame will be nowhere. The fate of this Age is its ultimate destruction by the hand of Zeus, the King of the Gods.

When I look at the world around me today, I see so much of Hesiod's forecast. In many ways, those who do evil, immoral or unscrupulous things are held in praise, or at least not held in contempt by our society. If an armed citizen stops a mass shooting, the media does not praise them for the hero that they are. Rather, all we hear about is the shooter, and while they are not glorified, our society tries to consider their lives and feelings. Children also go to great lengths to dishonor their parents, as Hesiod said they would. How many times have you heard of someone taking away the money and/or property of their elderly parent, abusing them, or dropping them off outside a nursing home and diving away, leaving them to the mercy of whoever is found to care for them? Simple immoralities and disasters also plague us. For example, lies are more profitable than truths, goodness rarely receives any support, wars over riches are commonplace, hard work never ceases to be a requirement for living, and pain is everywhere and in mostly everything at some point. Hesiod predicted that these things, and things similar to them, would take place in the Age of Iron. But what else exactly does Iron mean? For we know that we live in a time of many, many elements. So what does he mean by calling it by this metal? I think iron could also be a metaphor for the technological or industrial age, because we have a reliance on iron to do our work for us. Even in the realm of modern fiction, one of the most popular superheroes is Iron Man. Iron is the way Hesiod found to best label our time period. 

This is one of the reasons I feel it's so important for us to focus on doing good things and be charitable toward others, so that our race of humans may avoid the eventual and ultimate displeasure of the Gods. And I still retain hope for our Age. I do not believe we are inevitably fated, but that we can alter ourselves, as we do have the power to change its course. The fact that we are more than capable of doing good and making the world better, means that we are not doomed to the contrary. And fortunately, the Gods are still with us and still give us their help and assistance against evil or chaotic things. This is why when I do my prayers to Zeus each week as the highest God, I begin by saying,

"Zeus, be merciful toward our Age, and guide us, for we are Iron."

Our fate, should our Age continue its road, is that it will cease to exist. It might even be that we end up destroying our own Age before the Gods can, that we will destroy our own race of humanity by our actions. Hopefully, however, we will change ourselves, and beyond our time, a new Age will emerge to bring a brighter day for humankind. But as I live each day, I see myself as someone who can make that new Age possible in my own time. We can change it. We can be the new.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Source: Hesiod. Trans. Richmond Lattimore. The Works and Days, Theogony, The Shield of Herakles: The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor Paperbacks. Print. (39).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Earth Ends, What Happens To The Gods?

As much as we love Earth, we cannot escape the fact that there will come a time when, even if it's in the extremely distant future, during a time when those of us now will be long gone, the world will end. The sun will eventually burn out as Apollon and Helios extinguish it. When that happens, life will probably not be possible on Earth any longer, certainly not our own. It will probably become a dark block of ice, if the planet itself even continues to exist. Fortunately, none of us reading this will encounter that tragedy, certainly not in our present incarnations.

Certainly, all of our histories and buildings will be gone, unless of course, we have managed to find other planets to go live on by that time. But, assuming we haven't, our histories and our civilizations as we know them, will be gone. They will remain here, assuming the Earth does, and whither away. Hopefully, some of our histories and sacred things will find their way to other places of existence. We talk about finding new planets all the time, and taking our people to these new worlds to set up civilizations, so perhaps that could happen, and for a time longer, our precious things will be preserved and protected. 

As for the question of this post, what will happen to the Gods? Quite simply, nothing. Nothing will happen to the Gods. I believe that the Gods can separate themselves from nature and from our world, and will probably journey to other worlds in space and time to be rulers there. We might even not be so crazy as to suggest that they already are ruling other worlds and realms along with our own. Hopefully, we will encounter them again on our journeys through lifetimes. Perhaps we will go on to a new place where the Gods are present once more. 

Believe it or not, and I know this might sound a bit crazy in our so called, "modern age of reason," but I have been preparing for this in the best way I can. I have begun work on printed book versions of all my writings along with complete descriptions of the Gods and prayers and rituals to them. I am doing this for just such an event as the end of our world. I hope that, when this time is over, that someone, somewhere, will come and find my writings and carry on the names, memories and worship of the Gods as we knew them. "The Dodekatheon" is quite simply the title of these works, meaning, "The Twelve Gods," referring to the Gods of Olympos. You'll notice on my site here, under the header picture, it reads, "I write for my people, and for future generations who set foot upon the Earth, so that the worship and acknowledgement of the Gods, Spirits and Heroes we love so dearly, the wisdom of Ancient Greece, and my own philosophies, shall never perish from existence. These are my Works and Days." This means that I write for the here and now, and also for those who will come after me. Although, you can't count on that if you are only posting on a website. To put it also in book form would mean that it could never face the possibility of shutting down, and has a lesser chance of being erased for one reason or another. 

However, for the time being, let us love and worship our Gods, delight in the beauty of our nature, and learn wisdom in so far as humans can learn wisdom. Let us not worry ourselves too much with the end of existence as we know it. Instead, let's live, let's take this existence and this life and make the Gods and ourselves proud. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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