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

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fire Didn't Raise No Fool

Prometheus gave humans fire in order to advance our minds, that is what the ancient Greeks believed. Humans were made last, and there was nothing left to give us in the way of natural weapons or abilities, and so the Gods gave us an amazing mind, that we could be superior to all the animals around us. The beginning of that development was the gift of fire that the Titan blessed us with. While most people of our modern Age may think nothing of the story outside of a cultural worldview long passed, science proves that it's actually true. As with mostly all the Myths, our educational system of today leads us to discount rather than examine them.

Prehistoric man did indeed have fire, and we now know that because they had fire and were able to cook with it, the human brain grew. Because of the fact that food became more digestible, far more nutrients went into the body as opposed to earlier primates who couldn't use the tool. In short, it is a literal fact that the gift of fire advanced the human mind. In the broader view of humanity, it literally gave a rocket boost to human evolution itself. Fire later became used in sacrifices and was considered a sign of the presence of a God. Fire, when big enough, would also keep nightly predators away, and so it became known as that which drives away evil. 

Of course, the ancient Greeks had no knowledge of this prehistoric and modern science, so how did they know? Who told them? The Higher Powers and Intelligences of the universe, whom all humans have an inherent connection and quest for because of schema, created that realization. Simply put, the Gods told them. Today we are often raised and trained to be afraid of fire. I remember when I was growing up, just lighting a stove scared or made me very nervous. We should most certainly be careful with it, because after all, it did come from Powers beyond our control, but I think that the more we grow accustomed to the natural world and our natural selves, we understand the Divinity and wonderfulness of it all. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Monday, February 14, 2022

I Knew She Was Real That Day

I hadn't had much luck with women by that point in my life, either because they didn't like me or I was too stupid in my youth to recognize the signals (and we can only thank the oppressive social norms of modern society for that). By 2005, I had only been with two women in my life, and one I didn't even sleep with. One might could say it wasn't even an actual relationship because she was not loyal to me at all, in any way. But by that year, a change had also entered my life. I first discovered the Greek Gods as a religion. I did not know all of the Gods or even how to practice Hellenism, but I knew of and felt connections with the Olympians. Aphrodite was one of my closest (and still is).

While I hadn't had a successful romantic life, I knew Aphrodite was the Goddess not only of love but sex and beauty, and it was for the latter two attributes that I decided to pray to Her. My request was simple: make me more attractive to the opposite sex. Each time I prayed for that, I would notice women looking at me more when I was out in public. Aphrodite possibly enhanced my beauty, or perhaps I was beautiful all along and the Goddess helped people notice me more. After my connection with Aphrodite, my romantic and sexual encounters only became more frequent. In 2009, I met the love of my life who would become my wife (I am still married to her to this day). From the first day She blessed me, I knew Aphrodite was real.

Valentine's Day, the day of love, makes me think back onto those early days when the Greek Gods first showed their wonderful selves to me. I don't think Aphrodite cared that I wasn't actually a Hellenist at that time. I was Hellenic in my heart, and She cultivated that into the pious man I am today.

In the Goodness of Aphrodite,

Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

From Apollon: Why Is Covid-19 Here?

As a priest, I have thought long and hard on our present medical situation. Of course, I am referring to the spread of Covid-19 or the Coronavirus. Even though it's actually a small plague in historical comparison, it was still enough to put significant pressure on our society and way of life, and sadly kill thousands of people. Equally important, more people have recovered than died. It's also true that we all have a time to go and a time to live, regardless of the circumstances.

But the question on my mind, is probably the same one that's on the minds of all theists, and that is simply, "Why is this happening?" There were times when I would go out to my sanctuary at night to pray to Apollon (the God of healing, prophecy and plague), and basically plead with Him for an answer. 

"O' Apollon, son of Zeus and Leto, God of the sun, mighty Healer, enemy of evil, please hear my prayer, and free us of this plague. Tell me what to do. What do I tell people?"

Normally, the Gods answer my prayers through my feelings. For instance, if the answer is not to worry or that things will be ok, I will feel an unconquerable wave of peace come over me. In this case, I again felt an easy presence, telling me to tell people to be resilient. But yesterday, I asked the question again. Only this time, I used something called an oracle book, in which you ask a question in a meditative state and then open it. The page you turn to is your answer. I am no oracle, yet I knew the Gods can talk to anyone they choose. Although, at first, I didn't put too much stock in the book itself until I asked Apollon to tell me something about the plague, and flipped to a page with a story so compelling that I could not deny it was from the God. Keep in mind, this was the first time I had ever used this book, so I did not know any of the entries or even the pages to find them on. I didn't even realize the kind of oracle book it was until I finally took time to read the description.

On 157, I read a story about a man who survived a Nazi death camp. The moral of the story was that human beings, sometimes, need challenges to strengthen their will to live, to generate, as the page describes, "aliveness." Do we have something to live for? The answer is up to us, basically.

I never thought of it this way, and indeed, most people don't. But what if the reason for this disease is to strengthen our will? What if, from time to time, humans need to be asked, "How bad do you want to live?" in order for them to keep living? Is it possible that we need to be toughened like an immune system? Apollon gave me the same answer He did in the sanctuary that night, resilience. I suppose this can mean many different things to many different people hearing it.

One thing I have learned since becoming a Hellenic Polytheist and a philosopher is that the world and the Universe is anything but cut and dry. Things are not as simple as our perceptions, and there is more than just your own personal needs and wants at play. Humans don't understand this because they are very prone to arrogance, and so we tend to establish "truths" about the Universe based on our immensely limited perceptions. This impairs our ability to see beyond our noses and understand the things that are being taught to us. The worst thing we do on a regular basis is fail to realize we are not the center of everything, but rather a spec suspended in a sun beam. I'm not even saying that I myself have the complete answer here. It's possible Apollon only gave me enough of a glimpse necessary at the time. Is it even possible for a human to have the capacity to fully understand things? Perhaps not, but based on our history, there is one thing I do know. There is no obstacle we cannot overcome.

Remember, I encourage everyone to honor their state's quarantine and safety guidelines and laws always, for this too is part of your dedication and resilience. This also conditions your will to live by teaching you to go the lengths necessary. To fight against them, or deny the virus all together, is to disrespect what lessons the Gods may be trying to teach us. There are some problems that must be addressed, even if your response is to simply cooperate.

I pray for all nations and all people, knowing that a world of heroes will make it through.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Source: Sutphen, Dick, The Oracle Within, Pocket Books, New York, New York, 1991. Print.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Aphrodite's Stronghold Against Christianity

As the 4th Century CE rolled on, the rising Christian State, led by the power of Rome, was stopping at nothing to persecute the Polytheists out of existence. The old religion(s) under the Christian Emperor Theodosius I, had been outlawed, and in 393 CE, he finally banned even the Olympic Games of Greece. Of course, the persecution didn't begin with Theodosius and it wouldn't end with him either. But it would have appeared that the "massive state pressure" concerning the Christian State that Walter Burkert talks about in his book Greek Religion, was finally taking hold in its mission to force everyone into the new religion.

However, according to recent archaeological finds, it appears as if the worship of the Greek Gods, namely Aphrodite, set up a stronghold in Thessaloniki through the 4th Century, a region in the far north of the Greek mainland. By 306 CE, Christianity had already found its way into Thessaloniki, but there were apparently Greeks who refused it until the end. During the excavation of the metro, workers came across thousands of artifacts from the time period, most notably statues of Aphrodite, giving testament to the enduring worship of Her during this highly hostile, anti-Pagan time. Devotion to Her was as strong as the love and sexual desire itself over which She rules and gives to humanity. She was, without a doubt, one of the most hated Goddesses among the Christians, because She represented sexuality and freedom of the body. Christianity knew it could not gain control over the masses without shackling the basic human makeup. Aphrodite was a dire threat to the very core of their objective. 

These finds are not only significant because of their history, but because it seems to show that, despite what the modern Church says, not everyone willingly accepted Christianity. Some people, probably most of the population, resisted it. There would have been absolutely no other reason for Christians to make laws forcing people to give it up. So today, we should also draw an inspired spirit as we look at the remains of undying devotion to the Gods, and carry it on into tomorrow and the days and years to come as we move to restore the traditional identities of humanity. No matter how hard, hopeless or hostile things get, let us never give up our beliefs, our love, our devotion.

To read more details about this recent story, check out the website of my friend and fellow Hellenist, Baring The Aegis.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Paul's Propaganda At The Shrine Of The "Unknown God"

Although the Greeks worshiped a plethora of Gods, there was also a shrine in Athens that wasn't specifically dedicated to anyone. It even appears in the bible in Acts 17:23, although Paul was immensely ignorant as to its meaning, thinking that the Greeks were "ignorant to what they worshiped," or perhaps Paul wasn't ignorant of what he was saying, but saw a prop for introducing the idea of the Christian god - maybe a bit of both. Paul's antics around the Greek world are very well known. He also visited Ephesus in 54 CE, where he was eventually ran out of town for organizing the large burning of ancient Greek and Jewish texts and trying to overthrow the present religious order, but he also ended up in Athens at one point, talking to the Athenians about one of their particular shrines. What we know for certain is that Paul's sermon was basically a trick to get the Athenians to think that they had already been worshiping Jesus or Yahweh without realizing it, for Paul was one of the best propagandists the new religion had in its arsenal. I am referring to the Shrine of the Unknown God.

The Shrine of the Unknown God was not, actually, dedicated to a God that was "as of yet unknown." It was actually established as a safety net, if you will, to make sure that no local Deity was neglected or forgotten, or who, at present, remained unnamed. The Greeks were not ignorant of the fact that many Gods were around, they just didn't know if they had named them all yet. So if a God didn't have a temple or a following, the Shrine was erected as a default sanctuary. You might even think of it like a temple or shrine to all the Gods, in the sense that it is not dedicated to specifically one, but all of them. It wasn't about ignorance of Divinity, but actually the knowledge and realization that Divinity is everywhere, and whether that Divinity has been named by us or not, it is still of importance and value. Even Paul's father god, aka the Jewish god, had an "unpronounceable name." In that sense, his god was also ultimately unknown. Generally, think about how many times you've heard a Christian say, "Don't question god," or "I don't know, that's just how god works." That's called an unknown, or an unknowing. When it comes to those things and those responses, Christians have constructed a Shrine of the Unknown probably more so than the ancient Athenians actually did.

With that being said, I still don't know if it was something practiced by every Greek City or town, and I haven't even heard of a modern Hellene having such a shrine today in their homes or temples. I personally wouldn't be opposed to having one myself, although I never have felt the need, and therefore if I did so, it would largely be to respect Tradition. However, I do, after all, live in a vast place which brings me to my final point about the Shrine of the Unknown, and that is humility. For an ancient Greek or a modern Greek worshiper to think that they know everything, especially about the Gods, would be hubris. Both ancient Greek and Christian religion advises against arrogance. What can be more humble than for someone to erect a Shrine that basically says, "I admit I don't know everything?"

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Being Hellenic Isn't Just About Blood

When my DNA results came back last year, I was very disappointed that it did not reveal any known Greek lineage, even though I still came from the over all Classical World. Not being specifically Greek, at least in part, was an emotional blow to someone like me who is devoted to the Greek Gods, and who at one point thought for sure they had Greek blood somewhere. Before the results came back, I stated that it wouldn't change who I was, and it hasn't. But I also got to thinking what it really means to be Hellenic, and I realized it's about more than just blood.

People who were born Hellenic have the easiest time being it, but not necessarily acting like it. There are countless ethnic Greeks today who are basically the Stockholm Syndromes of their people, who side and have a relationship with their Christian oppressors who teach them to hate the original Greek society they came from. It's basically a hatred for self. So just because someone has Hellenic blood, doesn't necessarily make them a real Hellene. Being an authentic Hellene is a mentality, a worldview, and a lifestyle.

It's about an undying love for the original Gods, for Hellenic virtue, honor and piety, for life and all of its wonders and pleasures, and for your ancestors. And it's also about having the mentality of a Hellene - meaning that your worldview does not oppose, destroy or contradict what it meant to be Hellenic. Sadly, Greece and her people have not been governed by the Hellenic mindset or values, and it doesn't take much to see how far the country and society has fallen since the time of Christian obstruction.

Blood is great, but it only goes so far. Your birth you had no control over, but the way you think and live is something you have complete control of, and therefore the latter is where you make your choice as to who you are, and who you are not.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Enduring Faith of an Ancient Greek

Last night, I was going through new background art for my website. I enjoy bright and positive images for my religion and life, so I was very much drawn to the ruins of ancient Greek temples in the daytime. Although I found some worth using, at first I didn't really grow to like them on my background. I thought I should use something that shows more of the active Hellenic religion of today, instead of the ruins of the past. However, I came to realize that the ruined temples make a huge statement that I don't think many people think about.

In the past, there have been times when I've posted pictures of completely ruined sanctuaries or temple grounds on Facebook, often consisting of nothing more than a few scattered stones, and said, I would rather worship here than at the biggest cathedrals. In other words, I'd rather be here among these ruins, praying to the Gods with a few of my brothers and sisters of Hellas, than to be in a giant Christian church supported by millions of followers. Ancient Greek religious followers in Greece today still idealize worshiping at old temple sites, although from what I have heard, the state wants to charge them a significant fee to do so. This, of course, is absurd. They wouldn't charge Christians to go to church, so why charge the Hellenes to worship at their own temples that their ancestors built for that specific purpose?

Worshiping at, or displaying ruined sites, as a Hellene, has a profound message and realization for Hellenes and the world. No matter how much ruin their temple is in, the Hellene will still go there willingly and lovingly, and pray to the God it represents. Whether there are a hundred shining columns or a few rugged ones leaning over in the loose soil, the presence of heaven still radiates there for the Hellene. The faith of an ancient Greek is unconquerable. For us, it doesn't matter what the temple looks like now, or how many worshipers still choose to come there. The Gods never die, and we know this. They are still as real and glorious today as when their temples were the wonders of the world; humans and time don't change this factor.

I came to realize that the ancient ruins are not symbols of something which is dead, but rather, something which can never be killed; the Gods and the spirit that resides within every one of their followers. The ruins do not represent something which has passed, but rather, they stand as a reminder that the ancient Greek spirit shall never leave the Earth.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

When The Greek Gods Saved My Son

When my boy was born severely premature at 24 weeks, every doctor expected the worst, and were clearly not setting themselves up to overtly hope for his survival. They were prepared to expect death. He had the worst chances of any child born in his condition, a 50% chance he would not make it, and a 70% chance that he would be a vegetable if he did survive. It's a grim and painful forecast when you have to think about the possibility of burying your child, or not having any room to celebrate just yet even if he makes it out of the hospital. 

I remember one of the first days I visited him in his incubator in the NICU. My faith in the Gods has always been strong. I knew they had saved me and my family in the past, so I knew I could put my trust in them again. I placed pictures of Apollo, Artemis and Athene on the windows of my son's crib. Soon after, he began to breathe on his own for a while without the help of a ventilator. Everyone was amazed. I realize now that what I saw was more than just my son breathing by himself, it was the presence of the Gods there with him. Apollon and Artemis protect infants and children, and Athene is the Goddess of Strength. Following this, I was also astounded to find a numerical sign surrounding Gryphon. He was born on the 4th, his incubator number was 4, and his mom's discharge room number was 4444. This is the number of prosperity and good fortune and none of this was in our control. It's like the Gods were telling us not to worry, that they were there.

As time went on, Gryphon grew bigger and stronger and exited the NICU after a little over 100 days with no major complications. Later in his life, he was diagnosed with a mild form of CP that made his legs tight, but that did not prevent him from walking. This baby that they said would be a vegetable or in the grave, now walks, runs, laughs, plays, goes to school, has friends and can do basic things for himself. And even though his CP cannot be cured, it is in such a state where it can be treated and improved.

Gryphon has always been one of my proofs that the Gods are real. All I need to do is look at him, remember all that's happened and all he's accomplished. Everyone loves him. He's brought so much light to the world and happiness to everyone around him, and especially to me. I find so much inspiration in him and his story. He was simply meant to be here; it wasn't his time to go.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Demeter

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present the final installment of my series Learning From The Greek Gods, which has been in the making for years. With this final entry, all 12 Olympians will be represented.

Perhaps a Goddess who is often underrepresented in the mainstream educational system, Demeter is the Goddess of Agriculture, and encompasses a vast range of universal functions. She's also the Goddess of Fields, the harvest, the soil and any kind of crop.

She is also the Goddess of Seasons, bringing both spring and the cold months when life ceases on our lands. After Her daughter Persephone was given to Haides as a bride, Demeter left in protest and all things died (which shows the Gods are not merely nature but can be separate universal Beings from it). To make a compromise, Zeus would allow Persephone to return for half the year. Demeter also returns during this time to embrace Her, thus returning warmth and life to nature. When Fall begins, so does the separation between the two Goddesses as Persephone starts to make Her way into the Underworld. Winter marks Her arrival, and Spring and Summer Her return. Without Demeter, not only would we ourselves perish, but also our world.

Demeter teaches us many valuable life lessons in Her Being and Character. For one, the unconditional love of a parent who never gives up on their child. I think many of us humans need that mentality today. Demeter is a model Parent who puts Her child first. She doesn't abandon Her for anything, and only serves others once She has given Her daughter what She needs. Demeter does not neglect Persephone for anyone, not even for Herself.

Generally speaking, we also learn a great appreciation for the natural cycles of nature, and how death and rebirth are sometimes required to produce a fertile universe. All things live, and all things must also die in order for new life to come back again in its place. If we only had one crop for the rest of our lives, we wouldn't live very long because the food would run out as the crop withered or gave up all of its fruits. Everything, even the human body each day, must come to a rest and then a restart if it wants to stay going strong. Therefore, do not hate any season. Delight in the fact that the Gods are still with us, and life is still continuing in all beauty around us.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Old Greek Proverb ~ No Evil Is Found In The Gods

If the Gods do harm, they are not Gods. 

I've seen a lot of people suggesting that the Gods can be, or are, vicious, destructive, perhaps even harmful. But the above ancient Greek proverb gives me comfort in the assurance of the opposite. Whenever someone tells me the Gods did them harm in some fashion, I understand that they do not understand the Gods.

What the above proverb means is to say that, if something or someone is doing you harm, they are not Gods. They are something else, even if they claim to be Gods. You will always know the true selves of the Gods based on whether they wish you good or evil. If the latter, you are not in the presence of the Gods. The Dialogue of Theaetetus goes even further to say, no evil can come from a God. 

The Gods are the ultimate Good in the universe; the ultimate Good in all things. Certain Mythologists may have believed otherwise, but it's clear that the hard-thinking philosophers believed the Gods to be positive. It seems to me that, if the Gods were not good and delighted in the opposite, we wouldn't be here. Yet the world is beautiful, life vibrant, and both incredibly and obviously ordered and directed. The Gods have brought so much good to our lives and our universe, that it would simply be out-of-character to say they are not good.

And I hope your weekend, and all your days to come, are filled with that bright comfort from the light of Olympos.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Artemis Is Not A Vegetarian, An Abortionist, or A Man-Hater

Some people in the modern Pagan community (though not the norm), are ripe with their own versions of the ancient Gods, which in itself isn't a bad thing. But when they basically create their own Gods and give them ancient names and images, that's when I find myself compelled to say something. One of the most common of these has to do with Artemis. She's one of the most commonly-adopted Deities by Neo-Pagans and Wiccans, even by some who are looking to start a gender competition. While these people are a minority in the community, there are still Pagans who want to start a culture, gender or race war within Paganism. Therefore, being a historical Hellenist and someone who has worshiped and studied Artemis for the past 7 years, I want to set the record straight about the Goddess based on historical record, myth and religious fact. These are not opinions, these are facts of religious and cultural Greek history.

Claim #1 - Artemis Hates Hunting
The argument that Artemis is against hunting or meat eating should, in and of itself, be an obvious ridiculousness from the start. She's the Goddess of the Hunt. The first sentence of the Homeric Hymn to Artemis calls Her the "slayer of stags," and talks about her chasing and striking down the wild beasts. She hunts and kills wild animals. So to say that Artemis is against hunting or opposes the consumption of game that was killed in ancient times specifically for eating, is a blatant historical falsehood.

Claim #2 - Artemis Supports Abortion
Whatever your views on abortion are, that's not the issue here. Not everyone has the same views on abortion; I understand that. But to say that Artemis revels in abortion, is simply not supported by anything other than someone's own personal theory, that is usually established to mold a Deity in their own image instead of the image of the Deity themselves. Artemis is the protector of infants and children, and she is also known as the Goddess of Childbirth. She carries no historical epithet that refers to Her as an abortive Goddess whatsoever. She fiercely protected the weak and vulnerable, especially young children. When Atalanta's father threw Her away at birth, it was Artemis who came and saved Her life. Another manifestation of Artemis is the legendary Artemis of Ephesus, which is a multi-breasted form to symbolize Her as "the Great Mother." The ancient Greek religion, in many cases, took a stance against abortion itself in some of its main cultural declarations. For example, the famous physician's Hippocratic Oath, which swears before "all the Gods and Goddesses" to not give an abortion. People in ancient Greek myth who harmed children were also dealt with very severely by the Gods. A good example would be Lycaon, who dismembered a young boy and tried to offer the remains to Zeus, who was so repulsed and offended that He wiped out the entire Bronze Age of Greece. 

Claim #3 - Artemis Is A Matriarch Who Hates Men
This idea mainly comes from a misunderstanding about Her refusal to take a husband and the death of Actaeon. While She did not marry, She always remained in recognition of the Supremacy of Zeus, the King of all the Gods. In fact, She sought His permission to remain chaste. She did not take it upon Herself to make the decision without Him. She also never decided that She was going to run everything. Zeus was always Her dear Father and the Ultimate Authority. All of the Gods, male and female, called Zeus the King. It wasn't as if the male Gods weren't expected to revere Zeus. The King was the King because He was King. It's that simple. While women worshipers today can find a great deal of independence in Her Divinity, She does not think of Herself as the ultimate ruler, or that She has a natural right to be at the top of the rule because of her gender, as a Matriarch would. The fallacy that people have here is the idea that one must be a gender-supremacist in order to be free, strong and independent. Nothing could be more untrue. One can be those things without crushing the opposite sex. Artemis is strong, powerful, wise, free and independent, but She doesn't try to usurp Zeus as we would think a Matriarch would, nor does She feel that He is a threat to Her own greatness or Her own rule over Her domains. There is no competition or war. To call Artemis a Matriarch, is to basically call Her a sexist, and the Gods are far above such human pettiness. 

As far as the man-hating label She routinely gets tagged with, this comes from the myth that the hunter Actaeon secretly spied on Artemis naked in the forest, and after She spotted him, turned the hunter into a stag and his hounds attacked and killed him. This probably had a far broader ancient meaning, which was to not offend the Gods. Artemis didn't like sex, and therefore, did not want to be sexualized, and sexualization in those days was largely portrayed between male and female. But Artemis had and still has many male worshipers who show Her proper respects and don't end up on Her bad side. In fact, I built a sanctuary to Her in my yard and She was one of the main Gods I prayed to for help in saving my son's life when he was born prematurely. I am doing fine and so is my boy. I don't think we need to get so caught up in gender that we make everything about gender or sexism. I believe very strongly in gender equality, and I don't believe that women are somehow of less value or worth than men. Everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly before the law. And even as a strong man, Artemis is one of my Patrons and has been for years. I kneel before Her the same as I do Apollo. 

Conclusion
There's nothing wrong with having UPG in your own private religious life, but to make it a universal declaration of the religion or the Deity, is quite another matter. In closing on this issue, I think back to something Susan B. Anthony once said. "I distrust those who know so well what God wants, because it's always the same as their own desires."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Dionysus

I'm proud to continue my long-time series Learning From The Greek Gods by today talking about Dionysus, spelled Dionysos in Greek transliteration. He is a fascinating God to say the least, and the youngest of The Dodekatheon, or the Twelve Olympians. Dodekatheon simply means "Twelve Gods," referring to those who rule Olympus. Some Hellenists still retain the belief that it is Hestia, not Dionysus, who sits upon the 12th throne. While not denying the vast importance of the God, they do not accept the belief that Hestia vacated Her throne to Him and came down to live more closely to mortals. However, most of the Hellenic community views the contrary; that Dionysus occupies Her former throne. In fact, in Walter Burkert's book, when he lists the 12 Gods, is it Dionysus he includes in the section, not Hestia.

Many know Dionysus is the God of Wine, and broadly, the God of the Vine itself. He is also extremely tied to the natural world and is considered an Earth God. But many people in the mainstream, and perhaps even some in the general Pagan community, do not know that He is the God of Life who brings joy, happiness, revelry, and a rescue from death. Because of the goodness He can bring through His presence and gifts, He is called a Saviour in addition. He's also considered to be a Sun God. All of these reasons are why He is included centrally in my weekly addresses through my Temple, during which time we pray and drink wine or grape juice to the God, asking for His blessing of life. But the deeper question is, how did Dionysus become such a God? 

There is more than one version to His death and rebirth story, but the one I enjoy and believe the most is the Cretan version, which says that as a child, Dionysus was attacked and ripped apart by some of the Titans (presumably those who hated Olympus). All that remained was His heart, which Zeus placed in the womb of His mortal Mother Semele, and through Her, Dionysus was reborn, which is why He retains the title of "Twice-Born." Literally, death was not able to overcome Him. He returned to life in defiance of it, which is why He's the God of Life, and so we can look to Him as a rescue and a salvation from all things that hinder or destroy our lives and the happiness and joy within them.

What to learn from Dionysus is that life is meant to be loved and enjoyed. If you're living in sadness, depression or any form of self-loathing, you are not enjoying your existence, and Dionysus wishes for you to do the opposite. He is the embodiment of a happy and joyous life and time. He is a Saviour because He literally saves us from ourselves and all the things that take our life away. To learn from and connect with Him is to know that death in any form cannot and will not hold rule over you when you are supposed to be living. From us, He drives away death, destruction, depression, destitution, sorrow, loathing, and brings to us life, prosperity, happiness, joy, wonder, and love, both for ourselves and others.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Poseidon

Without a doubt, one of the most well-known, celebrated and powerful Gods in all of Greek belief, Poseidon is best-known as the God of the Sea. He is also the God of Rivers, protector of springs, wells and water generally, God of Horses, and the God of Earthquakes; which earns Him the name "Earth-Shaker." He rules around 70% of the Earth's actual surface, and the entire realm beneath it where quakes are vibrant. He is a vastly influential and powerful God. On a personal level, He's a blesser of waters, a giver of flow and peace, and a caretaker of plants and steeds. Among the first Olympians, Poseidon was also among the first born of the New Order of Gods, and remains one of the most prominent Deities in Greek Myth. Numerous temples, prayers and modern statues have been erected to His mighty honor.

So what do we have to learn from Him, and what does He have to teach humanity and the world? Perhaps we can start with one of my own prayers to the God; one that has been quite popular among fellow Pagans even:

May Poseidon set my sails,
sending me down life's peaceful river,
both spiritually and physically.
By the Lord of the Sea,
may I find my way to the shores of serenity,
and the goodness of all the Gods.

When we realize and learn the tremendous beauty of Poseidon, we understand that His peace and flow not only helps us live better, more productive lives, both mentally and physically, but that His presence also does the same for our world, whether it be in regards to the planet, its people, or both.


I also think it's important that we keep the peace and favor of Poseidon, because the blessings He gives are essential to our survival. In other words, if there's one lesson He has for humanity, it's to not look a gift horse in the mouth. Only about 2% of the Earth's water is drinkable, and if we don't take care of it, we will perish. Not to mention the tremendous amount of food we get from seas and rivers, and the vital role they play in our planet. We won't hurt Poseidon or even the water in long term, because nature will eventually replenish and refresh. And Poseidon can just as easily create a new river or water source, even in another world in another solar system. WE are the ones who will be harmed. We honor the God by honoring His vital blessings, and if we lose sight to the sacred holiness of that, we are dooming ourselves. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.
www.caldridge.net 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Divinity in Daily Life: Anger and Frustration

Recently, I've thought about Gods and Heroes and their involvement in our everyday lives for our benefit. While reading a Pagan book, I came across invocations on restraining anger, but it wasn't Hellenic. So I thought to myself, who would I pray to for restraining anger and helping with frustration in Hellenism? I think this is an important topic to discuss in such a series as Divinity in Daily Life because anger and frustration are among the most common afflictions among the average person these days, and I think my conclusion on the matter is quite interesting. Hopefully, it will help other Grecians and people who pray to the Greek Gods. I also think it's important for religious communities to talk about these issues together because we all face them. As Plato once said, be kind because everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.

Among the Heroes, the first I would think to pray to in this field would be Oedipus, for the simple experience He has in this matter, and the fact that He ended His life calmly. Oedipus experienced the tragedy of letting anger and frustration get to Him when He mistakenly killed His father in a fit of rage, not realizing the true identity of the man. I also didn't read anything about Him ending His life in anger, even though He had every reason to be mad at the world and His own misfortune in life. When He faced the Sphinx, her riddle at first must have also tested His mind, but He did not become frustrated. Instead, He maintained excellent fortitude, which is something you'd need to keep a calm mind in things that are very frustrating and angering. So one might recite a prayer such as this:

O' Oedipus of Thebes,
I humbly ask for clarity of the mind,
fortitude against frustration,
and restraint against anger,
that I may continue my road this day without horrid mistakes.

One might also consider Orpheus, a great Divine Musician who was able to calm any raging force with His wonderful lyre. Theseus would also be great to invoke for fortitude. Among the Gods, Athene and Apollo would be wonderfully fit. Athene is a strong, fighting Goddess when needed, but She also prefers peace and diplomacy to war, and tries to achieve that end beforehand. Apollo is the God of Enlightenment, and unchecked anger and frustration is not such a state of being. Therefore, Apollo's great mind can realign us with a prosperous outlook on life. The prayer above written to Oedipus is a structure that can be used for any of the Gods or Heroes mentioned here, just make the proper changes. Life's roads are not without hardships, and sometimes we can find it hard to barely function onward. But fortunately, we have the Gods, Heroes and each other.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Learning From The Greek Gods: Hermes

When I officially began my Hellenic life back in 2009, I did not think of Hermes as a God with whom I was particularly close, but I have recently developed a very strong connection and a deep love for Him ever since I earnestly prayed to Him for help in my publishing endeavors just last night, and when you start to think about it in depth, you realize how encompassing Hermes is in our world, and that there is much to learn from Him, as well as to gain with His blessings in our lives, and therefore, I am proud to institute the next chapter in my series "Learning From The Greek Gods" in regards to Hermes.

Hermes is normally depicted in winged-sandals and a winged-hat, with a staff in-hand (normally the caduceus), as He flies about the world. His most common epithet is the Messenger of the Gods, but His range of focus, power and rule extends into many fields, such as writing, heralds, commerce, merchants, money, trade, travel, luck and fortune, wealth, roads, guidance, souls of the dead, humor and joy, athleticism, fertility and animal husbandry to name a few.

In the past, I heard a fellow Hellenist of mine say that Hermes "is the most important God of our time." This philosophy probably comes from the realization that commerce, travel and athletics are stronger and more common and important in our world than ever before. Of course, all of the Gods are vastly important, but we cannot deny the obvious Mega of Hermes Himself. One does not normally think about it, but Hermes is everywhere. Think on all the writings, messengers, and commerce that one sees every single day. When you see a post on the wall, get a knock at the door from the delivery man, or buy, sell or obtain payment for something. Think of how often people travel on a daily basis in cars, planes, and trains, as opposed to ancient times when travel was far less. Think about the many roads that now cover the world, from the back roads that take you home to the giant highways that connect states. In a more sad reality, think of how many people pass on each day. Hermes is literally all-encompassing in many ways, and active in millions upon millions of functions on a daily schedule. 

Likewise, there are so many things one can learn from Hermes. One can always be profitable if they try, seize your opportunities, communication is key to success in many parts of life, use the tools at your disposal, and you don't have to be smarter, just more aware. And more so, that these things are ok if done rightly and ethically. There's nothing wrong with having money, success and prosperity, for the Gods wish us to be well, and it is our human ability and natural right to obtain the goodly success and happiness that we want out of life.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Learning From The Greek Gods ~ Hephaistos

Perhaps one of the most forgotten Olympians by general society today, Hephaistos is an extremely beautiful and important Deity. He's the Divine Blacksmith, the God of Fire and Forge, and the Creator of things beautiful, both in heaven and on Earth. Perhaps one of the best ways that I, a mortal, can describe His incredible beauty and worth is in a prayer I wrote to Him some time ago.

Blessed Hephaistos,
Engineer of the Universe,
making things beautiful and eternal,
magnificent Creator!
Slam your divine hammer upon the anvil,
and send to us the creations of heaven,
those that house in their wonder the love of the Gods,
and the good things for my life.

Hephaistos is far more than just a maker of simple armor and weapons. There's a lot more to it than that. He is a Creator of existence itself, even of celestial bodies, and the great structures of Earth. In the Orphic Hymn to Hephaistos, He is attributed to the moon, sun, stars and cities - even countries, as the Creator Force behind them. Even though the sun and moon are ruled by Apollon and Artemis, for example, it still makes sense because Hephaistos was believed to craft things for the other Gods at times. When you look at it in those terms, you cannot deny His extreme relevance, and how our modern world has failed to understand His wide role in the Olympian Pantheon. To receive a gift or blessing from this God, forged out of His own flames, would be in value and power beyond anything a mortal could ever even wish to create or obtain on their own. In fact, proof of His wonderful perfection can be seen in the fact that His ancient temple is the best-preserved one in Athens, Greece still today. What else could we expect from the Divine Workman other than expert craftsmanship?

When we look to Hephaistos, we can learn the value of hard work and that we can create many wonderful things in our lives and world if we are but willing to put forth the effort necessary in all ways that are required. In short, we can make hard work pay off, and if we work intensely and dedicate ourselves to its perfection, then success is our inevitable course. 

In the Goodness of The Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Learning From The Greek Gods: Aphrodite

Most certainly, Aphrodite's name is as common to people as Her epithet of Pandemos. She's the great Olympian Goddess of love; who rules the realm of beauty, sexuality, pleasure, lust, and the life that it can and does bring. Born of the sea off the coast of Kypros through the remains of Ouranos, She existed before the rise of Olympos, which technically makes Her the first Olympian. While She is the Goddess of wonderful and joyous sexuality in general, She is also involved in the sexuality of marital unions and relationships themselves. She encompasses sexuality itself, whether it be married, unmarried, or simply friends with benefits. The joy, passion, eroticism, excitement and loveliness of sex is all Her. She is also a Goddess who prevents unscrupulousness, which means She is also not a Goddess without standards. Stories about Her are also rooted in a love and affection for humanity, such as with the tale of Pygmalion, the sculptor who created a statue of his ideal woman, and was turned into a real person by Aphrodite as an answer to his prayer to find true love. He named this woman Galatea, and they both lived happily ever after.

So what can we as adults learn from Aphrodite? Firstly, we should realize and accept the fact that sex is a part of nature and the human makeup. Our sexuality should not be something to be ashamed of, for it is blessed, not damned. Nothing which brings so much pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, and life can be anything other than a Divine blessing. Sex is Godly. It is not Her desire that we put ourselves in sexual misery, or fight against our natural states and instincts. She wants us to enjoy life, and therefore it's alright to be sexual, to enjoy it, and to be attractive and attracted to others. Science has proven time and again that a regular sex life is healthy for the mind and body, and of course it is, because it comes from heaven. Now does that mean we should sleep with everyone we meet? No, because as I said earlier, Aphrodite is also a Goddess of standards, and those are partially found in being safe and healthy with your sexuality. But within those bounds, sex is immensely healthy and beneficial to us as human beings. That's not simply my own personal belief, but scientific fact. 

I think Aphrodite also encompasses love for ourselves. In other words, She doesn't want us to be self-loathing, but to love ourselves in that we realize we are loved and worthy human beings. I also think She wants us to spread love itself to others, in that we treat our fellow human being with compassion and care, not coldness and hatred. We are loved by ourselves if no one else among mortals, and we should help others realize that they are loved as well through our actions. I learn many great things from Aphrodite as Her devotee, two of the most important being that sex is natural and good, and that we are not living in a universe where there's no love. It's abundant.

In the Goodness of The Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The First Maxim - Follow God - and Its Meaning

The ancient Greeks were Polytheists. We know this for a fact. So why does the first Maxim of Delphi speak of Deity in a singular form? And even more so, the Maxims go on in the third to say that we should worship the Gods, as in plural. Obviously, people cannot be both Monotheistic and Polytheistic at the same time, and it's clear that the ancient Greeks were indeed Polytheistic. To argue that they were not would be beyond any realm of ridiculousness that no reputable historian would take even remotely seriously. Therefore, there are several possibilities behind the meaning of the first Maxim, and indeed, perhaps behind the meaning of the term God when it was used by philosophers in an apparent singular context.

In one instance, one could interpret it to mean Divinity in general. If I use the term God, I am using it to describe all that I believe is God, which would be all the Gods and Goddesses. I would think of the word as a house, and within it is all that is God, all that is Deity. We must also remember that in ancient times, and even today, there is the practice of Henotheism within Hellenism. This is acknowledging the existence of all the Gods and Goddesses, but choosing, for one reason or another, to focus your worship and practice on only, or mainly, one of them. In ancient times, there were also entire Cults devoted to individual Deities, and cities and localities often had their own Gods and Patrons of the area. For example, Athene being the Patroness of Athens. So to "Follow God" could also mean to follow the God of your order, state, or personal devotion. Likewise, since the Maxims came from Delphi, the first could also be referring to Apollon, since He is the God of Delphi and the prophetic adviser of the Greeks. 

I also think that it would not be outlandish to refer to Zeus as God in the highest form, for He holds that position in the Greek Pantheon. Among all of our speculating and philosophizing, there is one thing we know for sure, the Greeks were not Monotheists. They believed in a great multitude of Gods, and therefore, the first Maxim cannot be referring to Monotheism. Perhaps such a general term was left for us to interpret as we know best, based on the personal truths that occur to us, and our own relevance.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Original post made on the Official Website of Chris Aldridge on February 9th, 2016.

Source
The Commandments of the Seven, the copy of Sosiades preserved by Stobaeus.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Ares

Today, I received a beautiful new statue of Ares for my family's shrine that I very much love and treasure as I love and treasure Ares, and I think that He is one of the most misunderstood Gods of the Greek pantheon. He appears nowhere on the calendar of Attica, at least none that I have seen. Even Greeks themselves seem to have been wary of Him, probably because of the bloodletting and destruction that war brought, especially in those days when you had to use common weapons and kill someone face to face. War was a dread and a horrific sight. He still, though, occupies a throne on Olympos, which shows that the Greek Gods were not merely put into their places by the Greek mind. Ares was an Olympian by fact, regardless of how much the Greeks liked Him. However, I do think He's largely looked at in the wrong way, which is why I want to discuss Him in this next part of my series on learning from the Greek Gods.

Ares is the God of War and that's about it. He encompasses the physical fighting and strife between armies and mortals and all that is associated with it. But when we think about all that war itself encompasses, and how it has a place in our lives as human beings from time to time, in many forms, we can understand the great importance of Ares and how He plays an influential and decisive role in the universe and the lives of those within. Things are not always completely cut and dry. Sometimes, something is not inherently good or bad. There are times when war can be a good thing. Our own nation, where we are free to worship the Gods free of persecution, and live our lives as Hellenists, was created by war. We had to fight off the British before we could build the United States, and over the years, other enemies have tried to take our freedom as well. We have often waged war to bring about a greater good, which is a free and safe people. War, therefore, can bring good things when war is necessary. We even fight among ourselves as individuals, when we have to wage a battle against someone else to protect ourselves, family or properties. We may desire peace, but that doesn't mean that others will. War is not something we invented. It is part of the human structure of life because it is sometimes necessary for self-preservation.

There are also what I call "metaphorical wars" that we, as humans, wage all the time. These are not fought physically, but are carried out through verbal and other non-physically combative means. For example, sometimes we debate serious issues with other people that we are passionate about, and we feel the need to win that argument for a good, and like Ares, we can sometimes become furious and wrathful in these arguments. We are verbally warring against someone when we do that. And that could encompass Athene as well, but Ares does not have to be excluded. Fighting for what we believe can take on many forms of war, not just physical assaults. If there ever comes a time when mankind no longer wages physical war, Ares will remain important and influential for these reasons.

And lastly, when we are waging our necessary and good wars, we must also remember the part of war that Ares encompasses. He destroys the enemy. He does not show mercy and He does not play around. He comes to annihilate the enemy and claim the victory completely. When we need to save our nation, or protect ourselves and families in one form or another, we should be prepared to go the length necessary that the law will allow to ensure our freedom, safety and preservation. Sometimes, the enemy does not deserve mercy, and it is necessary to make sure they can't make good on future aggression. From Ares, we learn the value of fighting with all of our might for what is dear and valuable, and accepting nothing but the surrender of the enemy of those good things.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Artemis

Continuing my series on learning from the Greek Gods, today's entry is about Artemis. Without any doubt whatsoever, Artemis is one of the most popular, worshiped and revered Goddesses ever in the history of the world, and remains so in the hearts and practices of modern Hellenists and many general Pagans. As with the other Gods of the Dodekatheon (the Olympians and highest-ruling Gods), She encompasses numerous epithets, but some of Her most popular have to do with the natural wild world. She's Goddess of the Hunt and the Mistress of Animals. She presides over forests and general wild lands and comes to humans personally as a Goddess of Childbirth and a protector of infants and children. She loves dearly Earth's animals and young ones. Some also call Her Goddess of the Moon, while some sources disagree with that epithet. However, She is a Light Goddess beyond all doubt, and the moon is the largest form of natural light on the Earth beside of the sun, which is ruled by Apollon, Her Brother and fellow member of the Dodekatheon, who is also a Light God. So it's very reasonable, to my mind, to worship Her as the supreme Goddess of the Moon while Apollon stands as the supreme God of the Sun.

However, there is more to Hellenism than just worshiping the Gods. There is also a great emphasis on their teachings and learning from them, so what can we learn from Artemis? Being the Goddess of the Hunt and Mistress of Animals, She adores nature, while also understanding the need for survival that it provides for all living creatures. She's the Huntress, and therefore, She hunts down the stag and slays it. Hunting encompasses the act of killing for food, in the case of humans. Nature provides us what we need to live, but I also think Artemis wishes us to be caring and compassionate with nature, using only what we need, respecting the animals we must kill, and giving them proper respect by using all of their parts instead of just killing for sport. I believe killing for sport would be a high offense against Her, and in my personal belief, I believe deer to be exclusively sacred to Her, and therefore I don't kill or eat them at all myself. But some do, and that's fine within reason. So as She loves and cares for nature, so should we, for how can we honor the Gods without loving and respecting what they also love and respect? And this is true in every case. 

Artemis is also the protector of children, and very few things hold more virtue than being a good parent and treating the weakest and most vulnerable among us with love, care, compassion and protection. As She gives these things to children, so should we if we are to call ourselves Her followers and worshipers.We don't serve Artemis best in this field by giving fancy speeches on how something needs to be done to help children. We serve Her best when we actually get out there and do it, making the difference ourselves and being the change, by helping to feed, house, educate and care for children in all the ways they must be. And also, by treating them with love and care and never causing them physical or emotional harm or torment.

There are many great things we can learn from Artemis to help us live better lives and make our world a better place, and these are among the ways we can begin that wonderful journey in our Hellenic lives.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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