Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ancient Greek Art of Happiness That May Surprise You

We live in a world more depressed, anxious and unhappy than ever, which makes no sense because, historically, humans are living better than at any other time. We have far more in the way of necessity and luxury than our ancestors of a hundred years ago even dreamed of. Yet, we are led to believe they were happier. Why? While many of us are overworked and underpaid, the fact of the matter is that life is significantly better than ever before. Over all, there is no good reason for so many people to be so worked up. 

In my life as a Hellenist, there has been immense joy, but also a lot of unique hardships and challenges, some that the average person will never go through, such as having a premature child. But Hellenism has also taught me how to live happily, and it is that knowledge, in part, that I wish to share with the reader of this entry. 

Before I begin, I want to say that I think I am different than most other people who claim to champion the subject of happiness. I will not tell you that wealth and riches won't make you happy. As Dan Pena would say, "If you think money can't buy happiness, you don't know where to shop." These things certainly can bring you happiness, it's just that they are not the only things that can. There are many other avenues to the goal. A mansion is a wonderful way to have a home, but you don't have to have a mansion in order to still have a nice home. 

Now an art is always a practice throughout your life. I have certainly not mastered this yet. However, it has helped me internally a lot more than most people may realize. One beautiful summer day, I was driving down a Wisconsin country backroad when a revelation came to me that put most of my worries and fears to rest forever. Most of us find ourselves in mental and emotional anguish because we try to fight the universe. Life can get so hard and frustrating that we want to just swing at the air, knowing that we will hit nothing. In other words, it's out of our hands.

The Greeks believed in the concept of Fate. Now before you presume to know what I'm talking about, read further. Fate does not mean we have no control over our lives. It means we are created each for a unique purpose. Just because you haven't done what someone else has, doesn't mean you're stupid or worthless, or that you cannot accomplish other great things. It just means you have a different purpose.

I began to realize that there is a significant level of peace with accepting Fate. It doesn't mean you should sit on the couch the rest of your life or let your friend drown. It means to understand and accept that there are certain courses for our lives that we cannot change. The pivotal moments are already ordained. For example, it was meant for me to move from North Carolina to Illinois. That was my fate, and there's nothing I can do to change the fact that it happened or that I am now here. So what can I do? I can take this road that has been laid out for me, accept it, and do great things with it. 

Whenever you feel yourself getting mad, scared or frustrated, try saying this to yourself, Don't you fight the universe. You won't win. Just go with it. You may just find that this affirmation sends a wave of peace and wisdom over you that you've never felt before, and relieves you of the emotions that make you feel the worst. Secondly, you'll stop beating yourself up over successes that other people have, and that you yourself haven't achieved. 

When I wake up in the morning and have to take care of my son and work on my home and career, it gets tiring and annoying really fast. Sometimes I want to lash out. But I try to stop and understand that I am here for a reason. This is what Fate has laid out for me. The Gods are not against me, and neither is life. This is just where I am supposed to be at this time, so how can I take what I have been given and make it the greatest that I can? Or, at least, understand that the Gods are wise and be at peace with my life? Equally important, are there things in which I can find peace? For me, that's my temple. There will always be something there for you as well. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Forest Screams - Could It Be Dionysos?

Channels and videos dealing with everything from the paranormal to simple hiking adventures are filled with what we commonly know as "unidentified, non-human sounds or screams" coming from the forests of the world. And I just love myself a good mystery, a good intrigue, something unknown to investigate, so let's take some time today to explore these happenings. 

Take a moment to visit this link to hear one of the videos people have made of unexplained screams and yells in the forest. Then come back to my blog post. Of course, there are scores of other videos and reels that have been made by various individuals, recording many kinds of screams and ravings in the woods. All you have to do is search for the topic on youtube.

In ancient times, Dionysos, the God of wine, revelry, joy, life and rebirth, was known for His loud celebrations in the forests. In fact, His worshipers would gather in these remote areas, such as the female devotees of the God called Maenads, whose name means "to rave" or "raving ones." A specific natural forest location of theirs was in Nysa, where a temple of Dionysos stood.

In the Orphic Hymn to Dionysos, He is called, "loud-roaring, reveling, and howling." In the video posted above of the unknown screams and ravings in the woods, people in ancient times may have very well concluded that it was Dionysos or His Maenads, especially if it was near a known worship center. In the times of old, things we consider paranormal or supernatural were simply daily life and commonplace.

In the forests, away from the civilization and the common ailments of human life, it's easy to see how someone could release, and why they might enjoy the ability to leave their old world behind as much as possible for a time. Dionysos lifts us to life, brings us to life, breaks us free of death. 

I myself grew up in the middle of a forest, down in a small, remote valley in central North Carolina, and especially during my childhood, the depths of the woodland provided me with a much needed retreat on a regular basis. In fact, anything could happen in them. Nothing was impossible, meaning was everywhere, adventure lured at every turn, and everything was beautiful. There is something about the haunts of the forest that make them otherworldly.

The importance of Dionysos to Hellenic life is, like all the Gods, vastly important and crucial, but like all Gods as well, Dionysos also retains His own uniqueness. As the God of life, the youngest of The Dodekatheon, and Twice Born, He is known as the "Savior God" of Greek religion, although He is certainly not the only God who carries the Savior Epithet.

Dionysos is salvation from death, depression, sadness, and anything else that hinders life and its enjoyment. I developed my own temple rite to the God in this respect. There is historical record of some of His worshipers in ancient times eating a live bull in a ritualistic setting (the bull being a symbol of Dionysos), and in so doing, they believed they were taking the God into themselves. Wine is also known as the blood of the vine just as far back.

If this sounds familiar, you're right, but the concept of ingesting communion with a God was not originally Christian; it's very ancient and very polytheistic. In my own rite, I include a drink of wine or grape juice and a small bite of rich chocolate (should I ever find chocolate in the shape of a bull, that'll be spectacular). The chocolate, being an ecstatic food, is the body of the God, while His wine is, of course, His blood.

Before consuming, I recite this simple prayer, I pray to Dionysos, Twice Born God of everlasting life, to descend His blessings upon the food of joy and the drink of the vine, to bless my mind, body and soul with His wonderful Godhood. Spirit of Dionysos dwell within me, blood of Dionysos flow through me."

If there has been no general offering to Him in return, some of the wine or chocolate can be given. But it's also important to remember the objective and reality of Dionysos and this rite. It is not Christian. He is not a God of abstinence or one who teaches us to resist and hate our humanity. There is no "cross to bear." You don't invite Him to save you from your humanity because your humanity is not evil or damned. It is blessed. Therefore, Dionysos blesses us with all it takes to live a happy and joyful life, and drives out whatever threatens that. Dionysos reminds us that it's okay to live.

What are the screams and ravings that people keep hearing deep in the forests of the world? Dionysos? The ghosts of His Maenads? New worshipers? Or maybe all of the above? The ancients most certainly knew of these same kinds of sounds. They wrote about them in their hymns to the God and stories about those who followed Him throughout their lives. Perhaps there is always that natural calling out there, reminding us that there is freedom from the dismal things that may plague us.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Was I The Last Man She Kissed?

In 2018, I moved to South Beloit, Illinois, and I met a girl there about my age, by the name of Michelle. I cannot recall exactly how we met, but I can surmise that we had similar interests through things like religion and philosophy, and found one another through social media. I admit that I was sexually attracted to her, but at first it was just a friendship ordeal, which I had no problem with.

The more we talked, the more we liked each other, and one day we decided to meet for lunch. It was one of those things that was a date, but also was not, if that makes sense. We were there to have fun with each other, yet there were no romantic titles or intentions. But in any case, I was delighted to just spend the day with a beautiful girl who was my friend.

The more time we spent together, however, the closer our lips got until we kissed. So it was one of those beautiful things that people write about in poems and love stories. It didn't seem like it would go any further than just an affectionate friendship at most, but nevertheless, I could only find enjoyment in her presence. But I would have never imagined in a million years that it would be the last time I'd ever see her, because she suddenly died later that year. As far as I know, she didn't have any other male friends of the romantic type, so it's possible that I was the last man she ever kissed.

In fact, her death happened so suddenly that I didn't even have time to make preparations to attend the funeral, which I still brood over to this day when I think about it. It was one of those experiences that blows you away, leaving you in shock and disbelief, sometimes even for months or years to come. Whenever I am passing through South Beloit these days, I still drive by the restaurant where we spent our last day together, and simply look at it, not as a painful memory, but as a testament to a truth that I will now explain.

I tell this story sometimes in my speeches on life and living without regrets, because every single day I see people all around me that are letting the clock tick by. They're so consumed by social norms, personal fear, or the delusion that they have plenty of time. Each day is a countdown, every second that goes by, you can never get back. I can still close my eyes and feel her kiss, and it's no longer a romantic feeling, but a wakeup call, that every day is a gift. 

The Gods gave you life for a reason, and the common sense to not waste it. One day Death will come for you. One day Charon will extend his hand for your coin, and it'll be too late. No amount of crying or pleading will turn back the clock. You're not meant to live in fear, you're not meant to micromanage life, and you don't have plenty of time; you're meant to live and live now. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Life's Altar Blocks Are Always Drenched In Blood

When people hear that word, sacrifice, especially in an ancient Greek or Pagan context, their first thoughts are the common forms of said practice, whether it be a sacrifice in terms of something of great value given to a God or Gods, or the ritual sacrifice of a prized animal such as livestock, to those Deities. Normally, we conjure up an image of the goat or lamb being laid upon the altar, or at least led up to it, and their throats cut open as prayers are cried out to the Higher Powers, and the blood of the victim drenches the ground. Then perhaps some wonderful libations follow. It might even end with a Seer inspecting the entrails for a sign or omen from above.

Generally speaking, sacrifices of this kind are to gain the attention of the Gods for reciprocity, but I also think that something the ancients understood, and that we should still realize to this day, is that there is no blessing that doesn't require a sacrifice. Everything we do in life, we have to give our best. Nothing comes easy or falls into our lap. Anything good or valuable you want out of life takes blood, sweat and tears, pain, hard work, and giving up certain things for others so that you can attain said goal. Sacrifice is what makes life itself move forward for everyone and everything. Just because it's not an animal's head on a blade, doesn't mean it's any less of a dedication and devotion, or a loss of something you might prize in order to hope for something more or better.

People seem to make the concept of sacrifice into such a taboo topic, or at least, they certainly used to. But when I think about all of the things I have willingly given up over the last 14 years to be where I am now, it amounts to far more than a farm animal. In order to get my wife, son, a new home and a new life, I've had to go through over a decade of sacrificing everything I knew from my life prior, giving up my homeland and everything that might have been any inheritance, and enduring a thousand mile trip across the nation. I've had to give immeasurable time, energy and stress to raising a special needs child so that he could be the best man possible. I spent years doing everything I could, hard or easy, to finish my college degree, and finally have done it just this year. Not to mention periods that were stationary and, at times, seemed like they were never going to progress, which caused a lot of depression and anxiety issues. 

But there's also an additional question you must ask yourself, Is it all worth it? I would say that, deep down, I always knew it was. With each sacrifice I made, hardship I endured, or obstacle I faced, the Gods put that vibrating spirit in my heart that always had the hope that, one day, it would all come to fruition. And so it has. Life, of course, is not over, and hopefully won't be for a great many years to come. As we continue to drive the chariot that the Gods have given us, there will be more bumps and broken axles, more potholes and perils, and more rainy days to accompany the sunny ones. Life is ever changing. More sacrifices, in whatever form, will probably be made. But again, sacrifice drives the chariot on.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

And consider bookmarking my site by clicking on the star in the top right corner of the web bar.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Ancient Chaotic Void Still Exists, But The Gods Fill It

The other night, my wife and I were watching one of our favorite TV series together, and one of the main characters was talking about his unwavering devotion to his religion. He faced so many persuasive opportunities for his own personal gratification, which he desperately longed for, but it was always on the condition that he betray his spiritual convictions, and that he would not do. He basically said that without Higher Powers, nothing else mattered. While the character was not the same religion as us, I could not disagree with his general conclusion.

The ancient Greeks believed that the universe began as Chaos and a vast void, then after a long passing of time, Order came and the void was filled, and in that Order was life, in a nutshell. It's the creation of all that exists today according to the ancient Greeks.

That void was generally conquered by the Gods, but I think the battle between Gods and Chaos can sometimes find itself at a constant. Throughout Greek religion and myth, even though the Gods brought Order, there were still Heroes who had to kill or conquer many things that disrupted the common good of life.

I've said in the past, and meant it, that even if someone offered me a billion dollars on the condition that I renounce the Gods, I would not do it - nor would I even need time to think about it. Because I know that no matter how much material I have, without the Gods there would be a hole that could never again be filled in my life. If all you have is the mere physical, which eventually fades or goes just far enough to indulge the carnal, that won't be enough. Most of us need something eternal and undying. Over 60% of studies have shown that religious people are less depressed.

I think that somewhere inside of us, and in the universe itself, there remains the threat of that vast void, and it will consume us if the Gods aren't there. No amount of money or mansions can conquer it. I'm not saying that financial success can't bring a substantial level of happiness, or any said success in the mortal world, but without the Gods, you're always going to feel a blackness or a bottomless pit inside you somewhere. There is something we long for that the mundane simply cannot satisfy. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

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

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

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

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.