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

Friday, May 21, 2021

In Search of Greek Heroes: Bellerophon

Welcome to the new series I have decided to dedicate my blog to this summer, In Search of Greek Heroes, where I search for the facts and myths behind the greatest Heroes of ancient Greek religion. Today we are looking for the magnificent Bellerophon.

Also known as Bellerophontes, His name means either Wielder of Missiles or Slayer of Belleros. If the latter, it means that this name was given to Him later in life. Therefore, the question would then be, what was His original name? It has been suggested to have been Hipponous. However, this name was also given to other figures in ancient Greek history. It appears to have been a general title for certain kinds of men. If Bellerophon was not His original name, we may never actually know what it was. His birth and death dates remain unknown, but is believed to have lived before Herakles, who, according to some, lived around 1303 to 1259 BCE, which means Bellerophon predates the Trojan War. Writings of Him go as far back as Hesiod and Homer, who lived during the Archaic Age, around 750 to 650 BCE.

According to His story, Bellerophon was the Prince of Korinth (a City that, in Bellerophon's life, was actually called Ephyre), born to Poseidon and the mortal woman Eurynome, who was queen and wife of the King Glaukos. Growing into a man of superb strength, ability and beauty, He was admired by the people of the City, but when He accidentally killed His brother, He was exiled to find a way to purify Himself of the killing, as would have been ancient Greek custom. Murder, and we are lead to believe here, even manslaughter, was considered to be among the worst of pollutants upon a human being, and in order for them to be a blessing to the City or be in the presence of the Gods again, they would have to be purified of the pollution. 

In Argos, He found a man who could and would purify Him, King Proetus. Being restored to good standing as He was, His hard times were just beginning. The king's wife wanted to sleep with Bellerophon, but the Hero refused her, being of such honor to not offend or wrong the man who had given Him such wonderful hospitality and assistance. However, the wife became enraged at the rejection, and falsely accused Bellerophon of raping or attempting to rape her. She demanded that her husband execute Him, but the king did not want the pollution. So he sent Bellerophon to the King of Lycia in Asia Minor with a note saying to kill the young Hero. The King of Lycia also refused for the same reasons. However, The Lycian king thought of a way around the offense. He sent Bellerophon to kill an infamous beast that had been ravaging the countryside, a horrid creature known as the Chimera, half lion, snake and goat.

Athena gave Bellerophon a golden rein by which He could tame the winged horse of the Gods, Pegasos, and use him to destroy the monster. Upon the back of Pegasos, the Chimera was unable to strike Bellerophon in any way. There are conflicting accounts as to how Bellerophon killed the beast. One says He shot it to death with arrows. Another that He placed a clump of lead onto the end of a spear and rammed it down the throat of the fire breathing monster. When it melted, she died. And finally, that He used the lance to stab her to death.

He then returned to Proetus, who was not finished devising ways to kill Him. He sent the Hero on a campaign against the mighty Amazon women whom He also defeated. Nothing the king tried could conquer the young man, and he concluded that He must truly be loved by the Gods. Proetus gave Bellerophon his daughter in marriage. But during His life among mortals, He began to think of Himself as a God, and wanted to fly to Olympos on Pegasos. The horse, however, threw Him off and He crashed back down to Earth. We are told He lived out the rest of His life with His injuries.

Finding Bellerophon isn't an easy task, as traces of Him are not anywhere near as readily available as people such as Alexander for instance. 

One of the most compelling things is the Tomb of Bellerophon that still stands today in Lycia, which is a rock-cut temple tomb near Tlos, an ancient citadel in southern Turkey. This tomb was discovered empty. However, the porch has a relief of Bellerophon slaying the Chimera that can still be seen today. The tomb and those around it are not easily accessible, but people still visit and enter the structures.


The tomb is only dated to the 4th century BCE. However, it's also possible that the remains of the Hero could have later been placed there. Today, we have bodies from Egypt dating back thousands of years. Why couldn't the ancient Greeks or Lycians have had remains that dated back about a thousand? The tomb also appears to hold 4 to 5 chambers, which could have been used for the wife and children of Bellerophon or His descendants. No one knows. It's a place of great mystery and intrigue.

Moving on from the tomb, I decided to look for Bellerophon in the mentioning of regions outside of Greece as well. The Amazon warriors, whom He fought, were thought to be Scythians, as called by the Greeks, who are Iranian in origin. This means they were Persians. So is there any mention of Bellerophon in Persian history or myth? For starters, there are creatures in Persian myth that have a resemblance to the Chimera, those being the Manticore and the Shahmaran. What the Chimera actually was, if something different such as a deformed beast, we may never know, but there are similar mentions of this creature in the myths of the East as well as the West. While  Bellerophon was not found in Persian religion by my research, the creature that is central to His story, we might conclude, was in one form or another.

Bellerophon remains one of the most beloved and worshiped Heroes of ancient Greek religion to this day, where He will continue to be found in the hearts, minds and prayer books of so many.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Note To The Reader
Thank you so much for taking time to read my latest writing. Without your viewership, my site would have no purpose. The upper right side column of the site holds some of my best books if you wish to read more of my materials. Thank you again, because while Polytheism and Paganism are growing religions, we are still a minority, and Hellenism is a minority within that minority. Your readership and financial support makes it possible for Hellenists like me to continue helping and representing our religious community and likeminded people. To this day, I have published over 300 posts on history, myth and religious practice for our people. If you have already read all of my books, you may send a donation to my PayPal address at chriswaynealdridge@gmail.com. May the Gods smile on you.

Monday, November 23, 2020

I Faced My Minotaur


It has been said that bravery doesn't mean you're not scared, it just means that you do it anyway. So I hope this story will be a help and inspiration to people on how to cope and face their worst fears. 

Since childhood, I have feared needles. Shots no longer bother me, but one paranoia I still have to this day is blood drawing. So much so that I have refused medical treatment in the past. The last time I had to get it done was 2013, and I went into shock and had to be placed on a hospital bed for several minutes. I would not go through it again until 7 years later, last Friday. As I started with my new doctor in the area, she reviewed my medications and said she wanted to take blood to monitor how they were effecting my system. I didn't want to. In fact, I informed her that it would be best to put me to sleep during the process, because there would be a serious chance I would pass out or become unresponsive. "I can give you something to make you calm and tired, but they won't put you under for a blood draw because it's too big of a risk, " she informed. 

To be blunt, I thought she was a quack, because I had been on this medication for years and no doctor had ever told me that they wanted to monitor my system because of it. However, there were some other health issues I wanted to get checked out just to be safe, all of which could not be done any other way than through blood analysis. So I had a choice, a trial even. I could refuse the blood work and risk my health, or I could do what was needed by fighting one of the greatest monsters of my life. I knew the latter was the bravest and most responsible, but considering my previous results, the real question was, how?

"I'd rather fight a Minotaur," I said to myself. Soon I realized, maybe I was. Perhaps I could do this like a Greek Hero, and fight the monster. It may put a hurting on me, but I decided I would refuse to run from it. I would confront it like a Hellenist. Before leaving that morning, I made sacrifice to Athena for strength. Then I placed my necklace from the Parthenon with Her image around my neck. My wife also volunteered to come with me. I decided not to take the sedative, and not to have the blood taken from my hand instead of my arm, even though I thought this would be easier. I wanted to be brave and have my senses, for only then could I truly say I faced it.

When I entered the clinic, I didn't see myself as walking into a doctor's office. Instead, I was entering a cave where the monster lived. The arts on the walls were cave drawings left by ancient men, and when I approached the lair where the beast resided, I could hear it roar and that was when I was most afraid. But fortunately, a nearby sink provided a natural spring through the cave that I used to calm my nerves and purify myself by running the waters over my hands and arms and praying to Poseidon. Afterwards, there was nothing else left to do but go face the inevitable. 

When I sat down in the chair, I didn't try to see a nurse and a needle before me. Instead, I fought the Minotaur of the lair, and in my mind's eye, I punched him as hard and as many times as I could. When it was over, I fell into my wife exhausted and shaking all over. I had to drink water and hold on to the image of Athena around my neck for a while, but eventually I centered and didn't pass out like I feared. The trauma was over. While I faced much difficulty going through it, I still accomplished the goal by keeping my mind in an ancient Greek mindset. Success doesn't mean you never encounter trouble. It means you make it.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ruins Testify To Greek Resistance of Christianization

Many of us may not realize it, but modern history is mostly written by Christians, or historians who, in large number, tend to pander to the Christian idea of events, which as we know are all too common false or exaggerated. For example, for the longest time, the so called "Great Persecution" was regarded as a world event, whereas now, we have discovered that it was blown terribly out of proportion and propagandized by the Christian churches. Christians, by and large, were not targeted for their religion no more than anyone else, but rather because they routinely engaged in breaking laws and showed physical aggression toward the cultures where they resided.

However, the point of this post is an even greater falsehood that is often pushed, that which says that most Pagans and Polytheists willingly accepted Christianity. We have known for years that this is a lie, but we have recently discovered even more evidence to keep proving that it's a lie. What's interesting, however, is that the false history doesn't directly pander to Christianity. Rather, it tries to set up a false narrative about ancient Greek religion and faith that ends up being completely debunked by the stones in the dirt.

During my latest reading adventure, which I always love, I had the privilege of coming into contact with a magnificent work that I am enjoying very much, called The Complete Greek Temples by Tony Spawforth. In a nutshell, this amazing work details all forms of ancient Greek temples that have existed, and gives the wonderful architectural, religious, social and political histories behind them. I have not yet completed it, but at this point, I'd not only recommend it, but even place it in my temple's library. Indeed, the importance of temples to ancient Greek life and society cannot be overemphasized. Walter Burkert even calls the Greeks a "temple culture." The temple is as essential to Greek identity as the stars and stripes are to Americanism.

In the book, page 12 interestingly, the author talks about the fact that modern historians tend to fancy the idea that the ancient Greeks began to lose faith in the Greek Gods around the 4th Century BCE and onward. However, the large scale on which they continued to build their temples during this alleged time frame, tells a far different story. Some were, of course, smaller and bigger than others, and had a range of functions, but they always retained a religious significance among all else. In other words, people who are "losing faith in their Gods," don't continue to build temples to them. Archaeology and the hard evidence left behind continues to shatter these abundant falsehoods around the ancient Greeks, which has always been an attempt by modern society to delegitimize the ancient religions. The modern world, which by and large does not accept the Greek Gods as a real, legitimate religion, cannot possibly acknowledge the brilliance of the people in their culture. They don't want serious thought given to Polytheism, lest Monotheism lose control, and so they can't say in one breath what a genius Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle were and then admit that they believed in the Greek Gods. Therefore, they do everything they can to separate those people from their Gods, even at the expense of telling bold face lies to humanity.

The truth is clear and present. The ancient Greeks, by and large, did not willingly accept Christianity, Monotheism, or lose faith in their Gods. They were forced to give them up and accept Christianity at the hands of a government of massive state pressure, who had allowed itself to become corrupted by Christianity because of its ability to control people. The government fell in love with the very thing that destroys people and nations; greed. As a Hellenist, I think part of our duty is always to the truth, and we should never allow it to be concealed or hidden. We must always dedicate ourselves to that endless pursuit, upon which Apollon Himself sent Sokrates so long ago, that our minds remain free.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mental Miasma Is Real

All religions, that I know of, have an emphasis on being clean and pure, especially before religious or spiritual activity. Even Christianity, the religion that is supposed to accept the dirtiest among us, often has holy water at the doors of its churches for people to use before they enter. Specifically in Hellenic Polytheism, we routinely practice purification not only of our clothes and bodies before rituals, but also of the altar, altar tools, and offerings themselves. We even clean our statues on a regular basis, sometimes ritually. Nothing is left to chance with negativity or impurity, because we believe that too much negativity or miasma (pollution) on something, in whatever form that pollution may be, can hinder one's connection with the Gods, if not disrupt it completely. This holds dire consequences in both the short and long term. In the short, it may obstruct your ritual activity. In the long run, it can have a profound impact on your relationship with the Gods and therefore your general feelings and attitudes in daily life. The good news is that miasma is normally easily remedied with simple purified sea or sea salt water and good hygiene. The only thing that would require higher measures would be unusual miasma like coming into contact with a dead body. In that case, you might want to use sulfur for purification along with the other elements. A good scrubbing with Lava soap might do the trick.

But I think there is another form of miasma that I myself have experienced, and that may be overlooked in some circles, and that's the pollution of the mind. Mental negativity on the quality of life is not just an opinion, it's scientifically documented. Think about it, the body cannot live without the mind. In fact, you cannot do anything correctly or productively without your brain. If it is in disrepair, you will be too, and the bad part is that a mind which has been damaged a lot or allowed to deteriorate, can take a little while to mend, although it's certainly possible to do so. So what do I mean by mental miasma? It is any ailment of the mind that causes you to lose connection with the Gods or Higher Powers in any way. This normally happens during prayers or rituals, but can impact you at any time. It's really a problem with people who have depression, anxiety or other mental problems, but it also consists of simple negative thoughts entering your consciousness during the given time period that disrupts your connection with the Gods. It can actually make you feel so terrible that you don't feel as if your prayers or rituals did anything, literally a feeling of nothing. It's the worst state you can find yourself in. 

In my own experiences, I have consistently recorded these negative impacts of mental pollution on myself. I have noted, for example, the difference in how I feel during a simple prayer when I have a positive vrs a negative mindset or attitude. The first thing I considered was the building up of negative energy and emotions over time, because these can have a lasting impact on the brain. If you're routinely pessimistic about life, hate people or the world, think negatively of yourself or others, or do things to others or yourself that are negative, that can infect your mind with enough negativity to divide your connection with goodness (the Gods). Or, simply not thinking rightly about the Gods, Higher Powers, or yourself can cause it, and I am not talking about your personal beliefs. I am referring to an attitude of pessimism toward the Gods. If you fear things such as, They aren't listening, they don't care, they don't like me, what if I am wrong or doing something wrong, etc. This will overwhelm you with negative feelings of the mind and body and you won't feel spiritual. Furthermore, if allowed to persist, this is how your mind will be conditioned to respond to all forms of spirituality at any time. You'll find yourself in constant combat for the right to simply be spiritual.

So, the question, is how do we curtail mental miasma? The answer is good news. Quite simply, don't be a negative person in your actions or thoughts, and when it comes time to do rituals or prayers, leave all else behind. In other words, focus and don't let go of it. If you feel it slipping away, just realign back to the former state. Think goodly about the Gods and yourself at all times. The Gods are good, they always do good, there's no evil in them, life is beautiful, I am a good person, I can achieve, etc. These self-statements are typically called affirmations, but depending on how badly your mind has been polluted, you may have to do them several times during the day instead of just once or at a certain time. The important thing to always do when reciting these affirmations is to hold firm. Never let them slip away into any form of doubt or fear, because then all will be lost and you'll have to refocus. Just literally shut it all out, give it no consideration or thought at all. It can be a battle, but eventually, your mind will recondition itself and a positive feeling will happen naturally for you.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

If you enjoy my blog posts and writings, please keep in mind that I am the author of several Pagan and fantasy books that are sold at very low prices in the right hand column of my website, some of which have been sold around the globe and loved by all who read them.
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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.

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.

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.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I Feared Death Until I Knew Haides

Even His worshipers obscured themselves from His sight. No Divine name, arguably, made the Greek heart tremble with fear more than Haides, God of the dead. In popular modern fiction, He is portrayed as a villain and even ignorantly equated with the Christian devil, even though He never served any such function. However, Orpheus calls Him "Excellent," and I include Him in my daily prayers with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

I grew up Christian, so I have always been a theist, but I feared death immensely until Hellenism. The belief in Jesus never relieved that stifling anxiety, only the ancient Lord of the Underworld did. That's not to say I look forward to dying, or think that this life doesn't matter. Quite the contrary. I have simply come to better understand death. The afterlife is not the focus of Hellenic religion, life is. However, we must also realize that death will one day come, and knowing Haides has given me wisdom instead of fear as many would come to expect.

There is an immense peace I have come to find in and around myself with Haides. Many of you probably had no idea that one of His Epithets is Nekron Soter, which means, "Saviour of the Dead." Into His care, He takes those who have passed on from this life, saving us from the burdens of this world and securing for us a peaceful and intriguing place. There is nothing to fear, for I know I will be going into the hands and realm of a wonderful God. The beauty of Divinity that we experience on Earth, will continue to surround us in the afterlife, and wherever I go, it will be free from the ailments I have lived with. Whether I go to the Underworld, the Isle of the Blessed (Elysium), or the endless possibilities of reincarnation, the ancient Greek God has filled me with a calmness and security that, in some ways, cannot be put into human words. It is literally a language only known to the Gods, and merely felt by mankind.

Dying has been called passing away because it's the most appropriate term. There's actually no such thing as a complete death, only the destruction of the temporary body that we all have. Your body will die, but you will not. Dead, to my mind, is simply a term to identify those whose bodies have went through this process and are now in spiritual form. It's just another step along the path of life.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dualism In Heroism

Readers may look upon my work concerning Heroes and wonder, "Wasn't that Hero actually worshiped as a God?" Indeed, some Heroes did become Deities, such as Theseus and Herakles. Alexander the Great was also worshiped as a God after His death. So why then do we still refer to these men as Heroes? How can one be both a Hero and a God? 

In ancient Greece, Heroes who became Gods could find themselves being revered as both, a theological dualism. For example, there were religious establishments for Herakles as a Hero, and other establishments for Herakles as a God. He was worshiped as both. Likewise, Heroes like Theseus and Alexander can be worshiped as both.

The question then begs, how can they manifest as both? If you ascend from one level to a higher one, you are no longer on that lower level. So how, then, is one both a Hero and a God at the same time or at different times? A God, or even simply someone who has Ascended to a higher level than that of ordinary mortals, is not subject to the same laws or limitations that we are in the flesh. Within the Ascended Ones lies the power to manifest everything that composes their Being. Just as a God or Hero has different epithets, so they can also have various manifestations at their choosing, and do so for many different reasons. For example, Theseus is a Hero, King, Avenger, Sailor, and a Democrat (meaning the founder and supporter of democracy). He turns His head in many different directions to complete Himself. Sometimes, we need a Hero to protect us, other times a God to lead us, although both can do either. Everyone who approaches the altar/shrine of a Hero or God, will be an individual. The Higher Ones know this fact, and therefore, come to each person as they can best understand and communicate, and in the way that can best address the supplications of the worshiper(s). 

We tend to place mortal questions of limitation upon immortal Beings, which is entirely unrealistic. Even after all of these centuries, there are still those among us who think the Gods are simply mortals with some super powers. This is not so, and I think that we will only begin to understand the true being of Divinity when we start realizing that Divinity is not mortal. Ancient Greek Divinity is so immensely vast and powerful, ever-reaching into any part of the universe it wishes, breaking any and all limitations, and transcending any barrier or border.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Does Religion Make You More Moral? It Appears So

Lots of people think one does not need religion or spirituality to be moral, but in my own personal life, I can attest to the fact that I am indeed more moral than I would be without Hellenism.

Of course, morality is not always universal. Each person may have their own definition, but every human being has a certain set of values and ethics, no matter what their religious beliefs or lack thereof may be. Even the most faithless person on Earth has morals. They may say, "I think it's wrong to be prejudice" or, "I think it's a virtue to keep your word to people." Those are morals. However, being religious gives us the potential to have many more morals and ethics that we might otherwise not have without it.

Religion or spirituality sets us up to be conscious of the fact that everything we do, and sometimes everything we don't do, has consequences, whether for the good or bad. Whereas if you think there are no consequences, you're more likely to do whatever you think will have no matter on anything. Some people even think that it's only immoral if you get caught, otherwise no one will ever know and it will make no difference. But we, on the other hand, believe the Gods know, that the universe and our own energy knows, and will repay or respond accordingly. For example, when Justice Scalia died, even though I didn't like his politics, I did not speak ill of him. In Hellenism, it's frowned upon to talk bad about dead people or to challenge someone who is not present to defend themselves. This is immoral for good reason, because those who are not here cannot respond to the attacks or defamation. It's a cowardly act and simply low class to spit on someone's grave, even in a metaphorical sense. But there were people who said that it didn't matter because they weren't religious, and they could publicly call him whatever they wanted. I think most of us would consider respect for the dead to be a moral, or to at least not desecrate their grave. Therefore, I had more morality and perhaps honor than my non-religious counterparts.

There have been times in my life when I have had the opportunity and the ability to do something wrong, even to break the law, and get away with it. But I never did because of the Gods and the morals of my religion. I knew it would be an offense to Olympus or a dishonor upon me, and I could not face the Gods or myself that way. My religion has kept me on a path of goodness and virtue in every way.

I'd say that those of us who are religious and spiritual recognize that we have a grander purpose and place in life and the universe, and that the two have meaning far beyond mere flesh and bone. Therefore, we become more conscious of how we behave and the virtue we strive to achieve therein.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Ease of Constructing a Basic Greek Altar

One thing I love to teach people as a Hellenic priest and writer is how to construct places of worship and carry out rites. One of the reasons I enjoy teaching this is because it's not as hard or costly as some people might think or portray, especially if you're creating what I call "natural altars." It is not a complicated trade whatsoever. Lots of practitioners have really beautiful and elaborate shrines and altars with numerous statues and the like, but these things are not needed to carry out Hellenic worship. All you really need is a basic altar where you can pray, make offerings and sacrifices, and carry out ritual work. The fancy things are nice, and can indeed help with focus, but it's important to remember that the niceties are not what you're worshiping. The Gods, Spirits and Heroes are not statues, temples, or elaborate tapestries and pottery. To connect with the Gods simply because they are the Gods, is the greatest achievement.

As you can see in the picture above, the main altar of my own shrine is a simple stack of stones, which is a traditional structure of the Greek altar. It's a very simple design. These earthly pebbles were purchased for less than $1, but you can also find natural stones probably out in your yard or driveway. You only need to properly wash and cleanse them before making into an altar. Upon this stack of simple natural stones, once dedicated to your worship and the Gods, you can carry out any kind of religious practice that needs or involves an altar or a worship space. Incense can be burned upon it, libations poured, and general offerings placed. It's also very appropriate to recite prayers, hymns and practice worship here. 

So if you want to make a genuine Hellenic altar right now, find yourself a proper and safe surface, go get some natural stones, and cleanse and stack them there. This simple, virtually cost-free method is all you need to begin practicing Greek Polytheism. Everything else can come later in good time as you are able, should you choose. 

To dedicate and officially "open" your natural altar, you might recite a prayer along these lines and light a cone of incense as your first offering to The Dodekatheon at this structure,

Upon this sacred structure,
I request the blessings and recognition of the Gods of Olympus,
that it may now be a holy altar in their honor and glory.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Can Anyone Be A Greek Hero?

This is a question I have thought on quite a lot. The Greek Heroes, who can now be prayed to for help and connection with the Gods, once lived with mortals and were at least half mortal themselves. However, being part divine was not something that was essential in order to achieve Hero status.

"Divine parentage is not a necessary precondition, however much the sons of gods are regarded as heroes. Even a criminal who has met with a spectacular end may become a hero, and an enemy of the state may become its champion and protector after his death" (Burkert, 207).

So, in accordance with historical Greek religion, and my own personal belief and opinion on the matter, yes, anyone can become a Greek Hero. But this presents an even deeper, more detailed question. How does one reach this and under what conditions and attributes would one exist in this after their death? This, to my mind, is the more ultimate question that we can examine here, but perhaps never fully grasp as mortals.

I would first begin by saying that, in order to reach Hero status, one must naturally do things or at least one thing, heroic in their life, perhaps in accordance with ancient Greek standards as well. Fortunately, these standards can expand easily into our own time and world, such as overcoming great challenges, saving lives, defeating great enemies, and/or bringing positive revolutionary change(s). In short, anything that lifts us above what the general population is unable or not willing to do themselves. Those such as Theseus, Bellerophon, Jason, they all fell into these categories.

However, I think it's also important to remember that these categories can take on way more than a singular form. In other words, one doesn't have to save lives by beating a Minotaur. They can save lives by rescuing people from danger or giving aid to a homeless, sick or destitute person who might otherwise perish. They can overcome their own great challenges that have been placed before them, and they can cause great change by doing good things for their society, state, country and/or world. It is one's abilities, courage, willingness and drive to do what is right that creates a Hero. And all or any of those great things achieved, will be what the Hero is called on for my mortals. What the Hero does best, or what they wish to be recognized for, is what they continue to do. So, if someone rescues a person from a burning building, firefighters might pray to them for assistance in that pursuit, or people may pray to them for protection from fires. If someone defends a child or woman from abuse, they might later be prayed to for protection for children and women against aggressors. If one drafts legislation to bring, for example, freedom and equality for an oppressed people, and they get their government to pass it, people could pray to them for assistance in liberating those in any kind of unjust societal bondage. Or, if someone simply has a great enough challenge themselves to overcome and they conquer it, people could pray to them for victory in the same or similar challenges.

I think it's also great to remember, as Walter Burkert points out and as I have believed for a long time, that we can always change and become better than we were the previous days. In Hellenism, we can decide to be better and achieve greatness, despite our past. Someone could go their entire lives being nothing or being less than admirable, and still have the ability to reach for greatness should they choose. We always have the ability to do better. We can even become a Hero.

In Memory of Walter Burkert. 

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Work Cited:
Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1985.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Apollon

For a long time, I have started and tried to finish this series of mine, "Learning From The Greek Gods." It was not intended to be a series of the many Greek Gods, just the Dodekatheon, but I was never able to complete it. However, this time, I intend to finish it out. Let's begin with one of the most popular of the Dodekatheon.

Apollon is the God of Light. Other attributes of His include the sun, truth, prophecy, music, healing, oracles, poetry, and archery, and with His silver or golden bow, one of His most popular epithets is the Archer and one who drives away evil or negativity.

Apollon is a God who brings enlightenment, so what does it mean to be enlightened, and what does it mean to strive toward enlightenment in life? Enlightenment means to have or seek a greater understanding of things that the average human mind does. This does not mean you think of yourself as knowing more than other people, but rather elevating your mind above the basic mundane of human consciousness and awareness. For example, humans generally have a desire to be greedy, so being generous would be enlightened above the normality of humanity. When so many people in the world resort to violence to settle a mere verbal dispute, it is enlightened to not let the words of another control you and walk away. In other words, you become greater than yourself instead of greater than someone else. This is what it means to be enlightened and to seek enlightenment. Learning from Apollon in these respects is to look toward the heavens. And what I mean by that is to look above general humanity and toward greater meaning for yourself and how you live. Each of us will find our own personal truths and that's perfectly fine, but the important thing is that we find them, and that they drive us to be greater than we were previously. And Apollon, being a God of Truth, lifts us to that universal wisdom, the universal wisdom that enlightenment is possible.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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