Showing posts with label Hellenic Polytheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hellenic Polytheism. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Greek" Christians Who Laugh At Me

Often times, I find myself in several Greek-based groups online, and they're not all Polytheistic. Some of them are dominated by the dominant religion of Greece today, that being Orthodox Christianity. While most of them are nice to me, there are others who are very rude and confrontational when they find out that I worship the Greek Gods; that my religion is ancient Greek and I reject Christianity. It's all the worse when you consider the fact that I do not make fun of or attack them in the group for their religious choices, but let me post something in a universal Greek group about my shrines, sanctuaries, or general spirituality, and at least one or two people will laugh at me or call me crazy in one form or another. One person even told me that I should see a psychiatrist. I should have retorted by saying that she's the one with Stockholm Syndrome. 

I do wish the group administrators would ban the bigots instead of just deleting my threads to stop the confrontations, but I have always found it very interesting that the people who submitted to the religious invaders who did everything they could to destroy the ethnic Greek culture and subjugate the Greek people, would think that someone like me who chooses to fight for their freedom from it, is delusional, crazy, laughable, etc. They certainly have the right to follow whichever religion they want and I'd never try to stop anyone from having that right, but it's clear that they think Christianity is the legitimate religion of the Greek people, or that it saved the Greek people from destruction. When in fact, it's the opposite. The legitimacy of any people is their ethnicity, not outsiders or foreigners who forced them into another ethnicity, and Greece today is not even a shadow of the greatness it was in the ancient times.

It also angers me that these Greeks in question resent the ancient worshipers and followers, but also have no problem using our architecture, forms of government, ethics, art, science and philosophy. They're more than willing to take the cultural constructs and claim their greatness for their own, but not the Gods who inherently come with it. Because the ancient Greeks had their religion intertwined into everything, you naturally cannot adopt that culture while excluding its spirituality. Otherwise, it makes you hypocritical. So I wish these Greeks, if they hate the ancients so much, would form their own culture, their own ideas, and give ours back to us along with the land they hijacked. It would be great if we could have all of our temples and religious lands back, along with restitution so we could restore them.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Daily Joys & Wonders of Hellenic Polytheism


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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.

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 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Is A Second Heroic Age Possible?

The ancient Heroic Age of Greece gave us many of the Heroes we pray to and admire today in Hellenic religion. Many think these days to be long gone, and even Hesiod, as far back as he goes, wrote that man has entered an Iron Age that is anything but Heroic. In many ways, this line of thinking is correct. However, Heroes never stopped being made, or at least, the possibility never ceased. The particular Age is not a necessity. The Heroic Age is so named simply because it was the time period when there was a great birth of Heroes known and documented. 

I have said in the past that a Hero or a Heroine is someone who is self-sacrificial, and capable enough to do good things that the common man or woman is unable or unwilling to do. The ability to be a Hero lies within all of us. I think on the cases where someone miraculously lifted a car off of their loved one who was trapped beneath, demonstrating literally superhuman strength in a time of great need. The power of a Hero only needs to be channeled, activated if you will. To be a Hero, we need only pick a noble mission and complete it, whether we free someone from entrapment beneath a 4,000 pound vehicle, or simply give love, compassion and hope to someone who has none. Often times, that mission includes thinking about someone other than ourselves, and through that goodness and nobility, we reach a spiritual level where we are much closer to the Gods, even in the afterlife.

Now it should also be kept in mind that good deeds alone didn't always make a Hero. There were many ways to become one. Simply suffering a spectacular death might make someone a Hero. But there was also nothing exceptional about the deaths of Heroes like Theseus, Odysseus, Achilles and Oedipus. Theseus simply died from a bad fall essentially, and Oedipus, by all accounts I have read, basically died of natural causes. What's exceptional is the life they led. And it's also true that there are no living Heroes. All Heroes of the status have passed on into higher levels of spiritual and Divine existence, but their lives on Earth helped determine that.

The qualifications for Heroism can still be met today and Hero status achieved. In fact, I would argue that there are certainly many Heroes, both of ancient and modern time, who live Divinely powerful and influential in the afterlife, but we don't know of them because they were largely unknown, or their families didn't believe in Hero veneration. With the right achievement, humans could even enter a Second Heroic Age. What keeps us from a second Age of such excellence is our mentality. A great many people today either only care for themselves or don't care about anything at all. In short, few people care about things anymore. When criminals and the tyrannical king of Crete threatened Greece and Athens, Theseus took out His sword and stopped them all. Today, it is likely that no one would do anything. They would simply accept their situation and live under the terror. And people who didn't live in their path would most certainly not care at all. "At least it's not happening to me," is the modern mentality that allows all wrong to flourish," and the idea that, "There's nothing I can do," is the attitude that prevents any and all achievement or betterment in life.

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Can Prayer Be An Offering?

Once when I was doing my weekly rite of Athene, I had to prepare and execute a little more quickly than usual because of some other pressing obligations later that day, and in so doing, I did not have anything to present to Hephaistos, Nike, or the Spirits and Heroes of the day who are associated with Athene. But then I remembered the belief that some Hellenes hold, which is that the Gods love it when we recognize them and their greatness, and since the prayers I used did just that, I thought it would be sufficient. I didn't think about the question until later in the day, but it inevitably surfaced: can prayer be an offering? This could be an important question for people who find themselves in a daily rite or ritual without anything to give for one reason or another, but still need or desire to make that connection with the Gods, Spirits or Heroes.

The answer is absolutely, a prayer can most certainly be an offering, especially if you wrote it entirely yourself for that specific Divinity or Divinities. If the Gods take delight in our recognition, then all things given in those respects are gifts that show our love and devotion. This is what an offering is in its entirety. And the Gods never forget. Athene remembers what happened 5 minutes ago just like She remembers what happened 5,000 years ago. She knows how I prayed last week, and how the Greeks prayed on the shores of Marathon. I believe the Gods remember our devotions in whatever form they take.

A prayer that is written by you can also be a great offering to the Gods in the sense that it aids in rebuilding the Hellenic religion. Anything we build or create in honor of the Gods, Spirits or Heroes is an act of devotion, reverence, gift, offering, etc. So when you create your own prayer and write it down in secure records, like a book or a protected journal, you have brought into existence another delightful piece of Hellenic religion and the recognition of the ancient Gods in our world. It's a wonderful offering or gift, especially if those writings later go on to be largely used in Hellenism, or discovered by historians and archaeologists later on as they try to piece together a past understanding of contemporary ancient Greek religion.

In my life as a Hellenic writer, I have myself composed numerous new prayers, around 250 to be close to exact, and those writings are published in book form so they can be distributed to Hellenists and Pagans. Of course, it wasn't an easy process. All the prayers of mine that people now see have been in the making since 2009. It's taken me 7 years to assemble them all. In my advice, if you want to give a continuous, custom offering to the Gods, then custom prayers are a good way to do that, if it's all you can present for any given reason. Furthermore, publish them if you can and wish. Create your own website or blog and post them as your contributions to the worship of the old Gods. Pray often.

In the Goodness of Olympos,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Case for Hellenic Traditionalism

Within the Polytheistic and Pagan community, it really boils down to two groups of people, the Reconstructionists or Traditionalists, and the Neo-Pagans. The former reconstructs ancient practice and adheres to ancient belief insofar as possible in our time period. The latter more so celebrates, creates and establishes their own personal relevance and beliefs, sometimes entirely, both in practice and philosophy. Now those of us who are traditional do not believe that one cannot create their own practices, we just believe they should align with the ancient Hellenic worldview if they are going to call it Hellenic. The ancient Hellenes did most certainly incorporate things from other cultures around them, but they did not do so haphazardly. Whatever they brought in had to fit into Hellenic religion and belief. So technically, what they borrowed was already Hellenic in the first place. I myself have my own daily rite that is entirely relevant for my personal life, but it also does not contradict Hellenism. The key is to work relevance into the ancient ways, and despite what some may think, it absolutely can be done. The Hellenes were very diverse and open-minded people.

Some Neo-Pagans criticize us as not really being religious people, but instead, role players or reenactors, but this is simply not the case. We practice the way we do because we believe it to be right. We feel that it best connects us with the Gods, and is very much personally relevant therefore, not something that's merely going through motions. Our point of view generally is that we believe the ancient Greeks knew best how to worship and connect with the ancient Greek Gods. But what's more important to realize is that, if there is no tradition that should be followed, no standard by which to practice, is there really ever such a thing as religion? Or is it merely whatever someone decides to create today? If the latter is the case, then no one can ever call anything a religion, because all that exists is your own personal creation, which can never again be repeated by someone else for the sake of avoiding "role playing" or "reenacting."

I'm not saying that a Neo-Pagan's practices are not valid, what I'm saying is that we on the traditional side feel there is a dire need to preserve standards, otherwise Hellenism has nothing upon which to stand. We feel that the most accurate way to practice Hellenism, is by the ways that made it Hellenism in the first place. And the fact of the matter is that even many Neo-Pagans have set standards by which to classify their religion. Wicca, for example, the largest Neo-Pagan religion today, had set principles, ethics, and certain basic practices that constitute Wicca. What is anything if it has no foundation? If we have no backbone, we cannot stand.

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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Learning From The Greek Gods: Athene

Athene, spelled in Latin as Athena, is one of the most powerful and influential Goddesses, not just in Greek culture, but ever in the history of the world. She appears on currency and within American states, and Her statues can be seen standing in places around the world, including before the entrance of the University of Athens in Greece. Athene encompasses many attributes and epithets, but some of Her main ones are wisdom, war, and domestic art. She can be prayed to for protection and victory in battle, whatever form that battle may come in, and the wisdom of the heavens and beauty of the arts. Abundantly, I pray to Athene for protection and defense. In the past, I have managed to successfully invoke Her in these regards and the results were beyond any description of amazement. But I also never neglect to recognize Her wisdom as well, for She is great enough to fight, but also wise enough to resolve conflicts without it, and my endless pursuit of wisdom in general doesn't neglect to have Her in mind.

We can learn many great things from Athene, one of them being the necessary components of battle. When Athene fights, She does not hold back. She fights with all of Her might and does not give up. She accepts nothing but victory, and She has always achieved it. When we are involved in our own battles in life, we too should understand that the time for war, or the time to fight, has arrived, and when there is no other choice, we must commit ourselves fully to the defense of ourselves, family and all that we love and hold dear. We too must only accept victory when we have been given no other choice but to achieve it as an outcome.

Athene is also the Goddess of Wisdom. While She is a fierce fighter, She would rather have peace. If She can avoid the conflict, She will. In other words, when a conflict arises, if peace is possible, She will try for it. She only fights when She must. This can also be our own inspiration for how to settle conflicts. Sometimes, fighting is unavoidable, but we should make sure that, before we engage in it, we have tried all other solutions. We too should prefer peace to war, and try our best to make that the outcome instead of jumping right into throwing punches.

Athene's wonderful beauty is also expressed in art, particularly the domestic. When I pray to Her in these regards, I ask Her to, "mold and weave my home into a place of beauty," and in fact, a statue of Her honoring this epithet stands in my home. Domestic art can include anything from weaving and sewing, to the homemade culinary arts (food-making). In this, She comes to provide comfort and happiness in our homes, whether we find that in our beautiful creations for the home, or in the meals we prepare and enjoy with our families. These times and things are very valuable in terms of our satisfaction in life and the contributions and growth to our families.

Athene is strong enough to do battle, wise enough to create peace, and beautiful enough to enrich lives.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Choosing A Hero In Your Hellenic Practice

There is certainly no lacking of Heroes in the ancient Greek religion, although some are certainly focused on more than others. For example, in no particular order, Theseus, Bellerophon, Herakles and Jason are probably at the top of the list among the most popular. When people ask me, I do say that Heroes are a valuable part of Greek religion, and certainly not absent from my own practice, even though I usually direct my focus to one particularly, and that concept is the topic of this post; choosing a Hero in your Greek religious practice and life. But first, let's talk about some of the functions of Heroes in Greek spirituality.

The Heroes once lived among mortals in the flesh, and aided them with their services and feats. For example, Theseus saved an entire civilization when He defeated the Minotaur and defied the power of Minos. And Heroes such as Theseus were part mortal as well, although it is not impossible in Greek religion for a full mortal to obtain Hero status. In Hellenic belief, the Heroes are between the Gods and mankind, and can therefore act as a connection between the two, as Walter Burkert explains in his famous historical and scholarly work "Greek Religion." Now, of course, the Gods can be reached by mortals as well. We are not cut off from our Gods. In fact, they exist everywhere, all around us, and enjoy taking part in our lives. But a Hero has the potential to gain more attention from the Gods on one's behalf simply because of how they exist in between. Think of it as an ascension to the first level of divinity and then progressing to the top, as you send your prayers. Obviously, we can't ascend to the Gods in mortal bodies, but the Heroes are in spiritual and divine form, and therefore, they can. For example, when I pray to Theseus, I ask Him to speak to the Gods in favor of my family and I. So one of their functions is to assist that connection. But one can also pray to a Hero for connection to a single God or Goddess as well. For example, I may ask Theseus to send my prayers to Hephaistos for fruitfulness in my labors.

Of course, Heroes not only exist to help us connect with the Gods, but also to aid us in our lives themselves, which is why I pray to Theseus for victory in my daily battles and to help me overcome all that seeks to oppress me. Heroes can also be prayed to in order to dispel negativity or a negative presence, especially in the case of someone like Theseus whose crowning achievement was the defeat of a great monster. In short, a Hero can bring the presence of goodness, positiveness and light to an otherwise bad, negative and dark situation. On a side note, it should be recorded that one does not have to specifically be a Hellenist in order to have a connection with a Greek Hero. In other words, you can be a different religion. For example, I've known general Pagans and Wiccans who pray to Greek Gods. I see no reason why they could not also pray to Heroes. 

Choosing A Hero
Choosing a Hero to focus on, if you wish to practice with such a focus, is not one that is complicated or difficult. The first thing one can do is to research and find which Hero they admire and/or feel connected to the most. However, don't focus so much on their myths as you do on their qualities, attributes and crowning achievements. People of extraordinary status tend to pick up myths, rumors and legends in their stories along the way. For example, there are many that accompany Theseus. But Plutarch can't even tell us how Theseus got His name. Once you have decided, pray and offer to that Hero and see the response you receive. Eventually, you will find which Hero you are connected to the most. Once you do, write out your own common prayer to them. This is the one you will recite the most in general prayer, to bring the Hero into your life and attain their presence. A continuous prayer and/or hymn of your own will give you a personal, unique connection, and the Hero may even recognize you only and specifically in that particular recitation.

Once you have reached these levels, where you are certain of who your Hero is, build them a shrine/altar. Place upon it representations of them and let that be a central place for them in your practice. In the picture above, you can see my shrine and small sanctuary to Theseus. It doesn't have to be as elaborate as mine, it can be a simple design. However, over time, you will no doubt come across more decorations and additions to place on it, which is great. Lastly, create a personal ritual that you use consistently when praying at your Hero shrine. As with all of your personal and private rituals, keep them secret, only practiced by you, so that the Gods and Heroes will recognize you specifically through them. I know that I sometimes give details as to some of my personal practices, but for the most part, I keep them secluded within the walls of my family's shrines and sanctuaries.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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