Showing posts with label Paganism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paganism. Show all posts

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Building A Safe and Effective Outdoor Shrine


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

How To Build Your Own Pagan/Polytheistic Community

For 10 years, I have successfully owned and operated my own ancient Greek temple as its Head Priest, eventually building a physical temple location and sanctuary in Machesney Park, Illinois. I have called my temple simply "Temple Of The Greek Gods." Over the years, people have asked me for advice on how to build their own temple or Pagan community in their area. These inquiries have compelled me to write this entry. I can tell you from experience that it takes strength, knowledge, and wisdom to run a longstanding or lifelong community. You have to truly want it. If you do, then let's begin.

Who Are You?

The first question is, who are you? You may think it's an easy question, but you'd be surprised how many people struggle with their identities. What is your religion? Are you positively sure that's what you are and you're not going to change it? Are you certain this is your lifelong path, your true identity? You'll need to make that ultimate conclusion. If you have any doubts whatsoever, consider waiting until you are positive. Exploration is fine, and you will only benefit from it.

Secondly, what kind of religious or spiritual community do you want to establish? Obviously, I speak from an ancient Greek viewpoint, so mine would be a temple. However, I feel that any Pagan or Polytheist can use this information to their advantage. So what do you want to build? A Temple? A Coven? A Grove? A Church? Exactly what is it?

And lastly, what kind will it be? Even Polytheists and Pagans have denominations and paths. A Hellenic temple can be either Reconstructionist or Neo-Pagan, or like mine, a place for anyone who wants to worship the Greek Gods (although the temple rites and beliefs themselves are traditional and Reconstructionist). Not only do you need to know your religion and the kind of organization you want to build, but also where the area of focus is going to be within said community.

Write The Laws

ByLaws are necessary for any legitimate organization. Not only are they going to make your operations run smoother, but most states require ByLaws in order for them to recognize the organization. Think of it as your organization's constitution. Take your time, sit down, and write out everything you want the organization to uphold and follow. Create the clergy office, ranks, membership, and codes of conduct for all actions that the organization will or could take. For an example, see my own temple's ByLaws by clicking here.

Create A Physical Establishment

There are 2 main steps to creating a physical establishment. The first is to make a physical building or gathering place. It doesn't matter how small it is, or even if it's just a place in nature that you all go to from time to time. You have to start somewhere, and from that point, you will continue to get new ideas and find new opportunities for material growth. When I first started my temple, we didn't even have a place to gather. It was just a cheaply and often badly made wordpress website in High Point, North Carolina. From there, as I moved from place to place with my family, we rented and bought places that had extra rooms and grounds that could be used for temple purposes. 

The second is to be active as clergy. As a Priest or Priestess, not only do you run your organization, you are spiritual support for your members and friends. Besides operating the organization and leading its rites, decide what services you will perform for people. Examples: Rites of Passage, Marriages, Funerals, Blessings, Counseling, Prayer Requests, Public Speaking. If you are always there for your people, they will grow to trust and respect you. They may even come to love you. However, always be humble toward others. I have also seen this as a problem in some Pagan circles. People with high positions or experience, can get cocky and obnoxious. Be humble, compassionate and have an open ear to others. Have your own beliefs, but never ever think you know everything. People will be completely turned off by you.

Consider Incorporation

A number of religious organizations file Articles of Incorporation with their states. Each State has its own requirements, but it basically puts you on file with the State. The government recognizes you as a real entity, recognizes you as its clergy, and is a pathway to 501C3 status. Incorporation is not required at all, but it could be beneficial.

Keep Leadership Closed

I feel this is one of the most important qualities of a Pagan organization today, and that is what I call closed leadership. Over the years, I've seen too many Pagan groups that have been ripe with power grabs, and in the end, some of the organizations were just decimated. Let it never be open to interpretation, debate or vote that you are the one and only owner and head leader of the temple. If people don't like it, let them leave. Do not tolerate anyone who tries to seize power or authority in any way. Kick them out. If and when you do decide to appoint lower level officers to help you in the functions and duties of your organization, take time to know them. Only ordain and allow people into control who you have no reason whatsoever to distrust. I have operated my temple for 10 years. To this day, I still only have 1 lower officer who I have ordained. He works as the 1st Priest of my Cabinet. As Solon would have said, don't be hasty to make friends.

Keep All Forms of Drama Out

Whether it be clergy, members or friends of your organization, don't allow drama to enter it in any way. For instance, if I see someone on my temple's Facebook page insulting, disrespecting, or even laughing at a post in a way that is obviously meant to cause offense, I ban them without question. Not only will keeping drama out of your organization make it stronger and more credible, it will create a far safer and welcoming environment for people who are sincere. You also want your organization to be taken seriously, which will not happen if someone sees bickering and fighting.

Don't Be Political

The United States and the world have an array of political ideologies, and neither one fully agrees with the other, sometimes even violently or abusively. You yourself, or anyone in your organization, can be political on their own and in their own name, but do not bring it into your organization. I myself can be quite political privately sometimes, but I have never posted any of it on my temple's Facebook page or made it a part of my temple speeches or rites. As an example of what is political, think of it this way. Talking about LGBTQ rights is perfectly fine. Talking about how dumb a politician is, is political. As a Priest or Priestess, you want to be a humanist. You don't want to make anyone feel excluded or in danger when they come through your doors. Do not talk political, nor make a political belief part of a membership or clergy requirement. The only exception would be people who espouse hate. Always kick hate out without question, even if they do it on their own time. Someone who is a member of a hate group for instance, should have no place in your organization.

Open a Serious Website and Publish Serious Writings

There is nothing quite like a professionally made website for an organization. It will help people find and learn about you. You also do not have to spend a lot of money on it, you simply have to make it look professional and organized. My temple's site is operated through blogspot, and costs a whole $12 a year to keep active. Keep things updated on it, and post seasonal newsletters. My personal website and blog is also hosted by blogspot, which brings me to the next point. One does not have to have a separate website for this. That's just the way it happened to work out for me. But write and publish serious writings on your religion, your religion's history, and even your own personal experiences on a regular basis, and post them on your website. Your writings are theological and philosophical sources that will help others in your spiritual community find guidance and place. Whatever kind of site you open, for the love of the Gods, make sure you purchase your own domain. I hate it when I see places still attached to things like "freewebs" or "blogspot." If you're not serious enough to spend $12 a year on a domain, what does it show to others?

Hold At least 3 Public Events a Year

My temple holds at least 3 public events a year. That's the advice I would give to others as well. It doesn't matter what kind they are, but hold enough throughout the year that you are regularly active. If you go too long without doing anything, people will think you have closed or aren't serious.

Do Not Rely On Generosity

Truth be known, if I had waited for others to help me fund and build my temple, I would still be waiting. My entire temple and sanctuary and everything in them were paid for and built entirely by me. No matter how many products and services I have offered, there has never been anywhere near enough money to create anything that I have now. Unfortunately, you can only rely on your own labors to build the things you want. It's perfectly fine to be open to donations, but don't let that be any source of income for your organization, unless you manage to turn it into a multi-million membership. 

Never Become Discouraged

The most important factor in keeping a minority organization above water is to never become discouraged by anything. You will have times when you feel like the project is going slow, you might even be bored at times. But keep focused on the larger picture, and that is the life and purpose of your organization. Even if you have a low membership, use your sources to reach out to interested people and teach about your religion and philosophy. That's why you're there, not to be the most famous. When I started my temple's Facebook page, I had to work for years before it reached the thousands of supporters it has now. My page has over 3,000 likes, which for a religion as small as mine, is outstanding. I even beat some of the local Universalist churches.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Happy Building,

Chris Aldridge.

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.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Thinking You're A God: Disappointment and Destruction

I've always been a person to never care what others believe, or how they see themselves, as long as they don't bother me. In other words, if they're impacting no life but their own, I couldn't care less; it's their own business and their right. However, that doesn't mean I can't still have an opinion about one belief or another. For example, I have talked about how bankrupt Christianity is quite often, but I still think Christians have the right to practice their religion. Just because I disagree with it, doesn't mean I hold malice or negativity toward the person(s).

One thing I have grown very weary of is people who think they are Gods, or that they are Gods in their own right, and they exist in many communities, but largely, they can be found in Paganism. Now I'm not talking about the belief in Divine favor. There is a difference between saying, "I am blessed by the Gods, or, I am part of the blessed creation of the Gods," and, "I am a God." The former simply acknowledges you as a worthy individual who is part of the cosmos that the Gods create and govern. The latter, however, implies that you are the God themselves, or a God individually, and therefore have the same Divine power and authority.

Not only is this just foolish and arrogant for a mortal to think, it's also dangerous. I think that once humans convince themselves that they are Gods of any sort, they end up also deciding that they are subject to no authority but their own, and can therefore do whatever they want, even to other human beings. I think it lays groundwork for great harm. Think of the story of Phaethon. He was even allegedly born of a God, but was too mortal to control the Sun chariot that he so desired to ride. In short, Phaethon wanted to take the place of the Sun God, and ended up not only dying, but nearly killing every other human around. Humans are not given Divine power for good reason. 

And even if such a person who fancies themselves a God doesn't end up doing harm to others, I gather that eventually, the Gods will give them a good lesson in humility, which is their own choice, but I would still advise against it. Consider the story of Arachne. She was a mortal weaver of amazing talent who considered herself to be even greater than the Gods, namely Athena, who taught her a grave lesson in who a God is, and who a God isn't. Literally, Athena tells us to know who is God and who is not. We must acknowledge this for our own sake. Even if the Gods do not teach us a lesson, we will end up destroying our own selves. Now yes, some of the ancient Heroes eventually became Gods, but that was after their death and their rise to that stage by the favor of the Gods themselves. In short, after their rise to a higher state of enlightenment, and some of those Heroes were already considered to be half-God in the first place due to their Divine parentage.

The biggest thing to understand, I think, is that you don't have to be a God. You are a blessed human being, and as such, you have your own distinct abilities and even mortal powers. Each being in and of the Universe has their place, and within that place, they can wield great influence in their own respect. Simply because you're not a God, doesn't mean you're weak.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

What If Your Significant Other Is A Christian?

I got in my older chariot today, named Saturn, and dashed around the American Polis of Machesney Park, Illinois. I always love it whenever work or pleasure takes me to meet new people, see new places, and experience new things. During my outing, I happened to look on my phone and saw that someone I am connected to on Facebook, and who follows the old Gods like me, asked what they should do if their significant other is or wants to be a Christian. The person cited the many centuries of persecution that we have faced at the hands of the Christian church as a point of contentment. I thought about replying with a short comment through my phone, but later concluded that this question is something that, I think, requires a good, thought out response.

Perhaps I should start with the time that my wife and I first met and started living together. She was Wiccan at the time, and while I entertained Paganism and practiced Witchcraft, I was still a Christian theologically. That was my only view of deity. I would invoke Jesus, Mary and St. Michael, for instance, in my spells, and read the bible for incantations like Psalms. My wife, on the other hand, had nothing to do with any of it. Later on, through strong spiritual experiences, we both became the same pre-Christian religion, that being Hellenic Polytheism. Fortunately, the theological divide was very short lived. However, our love for one another never dissipated because I was Christian. The strength of a relationship is found in the bonds of commonality rather than the divisions of beliefs. In other words, if you have more in common with the person than the opposite, you shouldn't have a problem.

If your significant other is Christian, I would simply say this. Start by letting them have the same religious freedom that we demand for ourselves. Let them believe and worship however they want. So long as they are not disrespecting you or interfering with your own religious freedom, let them have their space the same as you would in any other situation that requires space. I've seen many couples who are Pagan/Christian and get along, apparently, just fine. You should also keep in mind that while it's true that the Christian church has persecuted and destroyed us for centuries, your significant other alone didn't have anything to do with that. It would be unjust to charge them with a crime they have not committed. 

However, the real problem may come if you have children with them. Anyone who is devoted to their religion, will likely want to raise their children in it as well. You're going to want to teach them ancient values and beliefs, and your significant other will want to teach them normally opposing ones. So before you create children, perhaps you should make sure you've worked out a compromise that can work for both of you. If you just jump into childbearing without first establishing an understanding, it will lead to serious conflict, most likely. You might even end up finding that the best course for both of you is to not have children at all. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, September 9, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Why Is "Evil" Controversial In Paganism?

Evil may be a bad word depending on your Pagan or Polytheistic tradition. Many people in the modern Pagan community don't like using it because they don't believe in absolutes or an inherent value, believing that good and bad, positive and negative, are both possible from anyone or anything, while some Reconstructionist religions like mine talk about evil many times in their myths and morals. You don't have to look far at all to find the word in Hellenism. Delphic Maxim 31 explicitly and simply says, "Shun Evil." But many Pagans, I would imagine, do not think that things are as simple as good and evil. 

In many ways, they are correct. Absolute evil means that nothing good can come from it, but any being with free will can choose to do good, and if they can make that choice, then they are not absolutely evil, because they have the capacity for the opposite. However, I can certainly say from experience that there are people and things that prefer to act on their hostile and evil sides, at least toward certain people anyway, and that person may unfortunately end up being yourself. 

I think that we are quick to reject the word evil out of existence simply because we don't actually understand what it means. We're so used to being conditioned by the mainstream to think that evil is a Christian concept of ultimate inherent character, but it's not. Evil is simply the opposite of good, or the absence of good. So therefore, we have to ask, is it possible that someone or something can do the opposite of good, or that a thing cannot possess any good qualities? Most certainly. Someone or something who tries to murder you or destroy your family, isn't good or creating any good. It may cause you to do something that results in good for yourself, but they and their act themselves are not good in any capacity. Or perhaps a more common example, if you have a severe mental disorder, like depression, that drives you to want to commit suicide, it is also something that carries no good, and in fact, is in direct opposition to what a "good" brain or mind would be.

In my view, the only Ultimate Good in the Universe, that has no capability or desire of evil, is the Gods and the Higher Powers, like the Spirits and Heroes. Because the Gods were made from all that is good in the first place, and because they are the most powerful of all things and are never able to be conquered, evil can never consume or impact them in any form. In fact, the Gods exist explicitly in opposition of evil, chaos and disorder. This is why evil or negativity runs away when the Gods and Heroes are invoked successfully. It becomes vanquished immediately. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Riding The Fence of Devotee and Defacer

Most Pagans and Polytheists love and are extremely reverent of the Gods, but I have noticed a trend that seems to be growing at a somewhat alarming rate online, and that's the people who like to not only make fun of the Gods, but sometimes horribly disrespect them in the name of good humor, but for the Pagan or Polytheist, there should be nothing good about dishonoring your Gods. One of the most common examples I have seen is people making fun of Zeus' love affairs, calling and depicting Him horribly and dishonorably, sometimes even making the story out to be something it wasn't. I even had the misfortune of reading one Pagan writer long ago who directly insulted one of the Pagan Gods, calling Him a scoundrel on the simple basis of some of the myths that have surrounded Him over the centuries. This person, interestingly, would have also considered themselves a devout Pagan, but the thing is, you can't flip the Gods off today and serve them tomorrow. If you're a servant or devotee of the Gods, that position demands seriousness and respect, not lollygagging and affronting. Just as you can't say you respect your parents if you curse at them, you can't say you are devoted to the Gods if you hate or disregard their position of respect. That position of respect, by the way, is Godhood. 

Some people have responded to my critique of this kind of Pagan humor by bringing up ancient Greek playwrights who made fun of the Gods at times, but what we have to realize is that these people were not mainstream citizens. Most people were not playwrights, and in fact, Euripides of Athens was scrutinized for the heresy, if you will, that sometimes found its ways into his work, and he spent his last days in voluntary exile in Macedonia. The normal Greek or Hellene would have never even uttered a disrespectful word about the Gods, let alone make defamatory banners or public posts. Someone who did those things would have likely been considered to have entered into a state of miasma (pollution), and that would have to be purified before they could return to sanctuaries or other grounds upon which religious functions were held.

I'm not saying it's wrong to have a sense of humor. I love to joke and laugh about things, but my motto is also this: Don't say anything about the Gods that you wouldn't paint on the side of their temples. If someone declared themselves to be your friend, and then painted something defamatory or that made fun of you on your house, or posted it on the community board at the library or school, would you consider that person to be a true friend? If not, then why should the Gods consider you to be a true devotee if you treat them the same way? If you ride the fence between devotee and defacer, you're eventually gonna get really back jock itch.

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.

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Extreme Polytheism In A Sometimes Not So Extreme Community

The Polytheistic and Pagan communities are often broken into two theological classes, those being Soft Polytheism and Hard Polytheism. Basically, Soft Polytheism is the belief that all Gods go back to one ultimate God, whereas Hard Polytheism believes that all Gods are their own separate individuals and manifestations, and are not dependent on any other Deity for their power or existence. So for example, a Soft Polytheist would believe that Zeus, Apollo, and Dionysus are all the same God, whereas a Hard Polytheist would believe they are 3 separate and distinct Gods.

Back when I first began seriously studying Hellenic Polytheism as a religion, I knew right away I was a Hard Polytheist. Soft Polytheism didn't make any sense to me at all because how in the world could a Virgin Goddess who refrains from sexual contact be the same as Aphrodite who loves sexual contact? In some cases, there was too much of an impassable contradiction, but I later came to realize that I was something even more than just a Hard Polytheist, what I came to coin as "Extreme Polytheism." I discovered that some Hard Polytheists, even though they believed in many distinct Gods, still had some Soft Polytheistic views even within a Hard category itself. I found that some, for example, believed in The Olympians in a Hard Polytheistic theology, but believed that the Non-Olympian Gods could be simply different manifestations or extensions of the 12 Olympians themselves, such as the idea that Nike is another manifestation of Athena, or the Wind Gods being an extension of Zeus. I saw that even within Hard Polytheism, there could also exist Soft Polytheism. 

I wasn't having any of that, though. I believed, and still believe, that every single God, Spirit and Hero is their own distinct individual, and not the extension or manifestation of any other but themselves. I didn't see any need, at any point, for a Deity to show themselves as anything other than themselves. Why would Athena, I thought, show Herself as Nike as if Her previous manifestation didn't suffice? It didn't make any sense when paired with the belief in all powerful, individual Gods who could do whatever they wanted on their own. So I became an Extreme Polytheist. I came to believe that Athena and Nike are two separate Deities who, at times, come together for a common goal, but who can also separate and go about their own way with other things. To my mind, there is no Divinity whatsoever who isn't their own independent Being. In some cases, I may be a minority within a minority, but it has greatly broadened my relationships with the Divine.

Although, I'm sure I'm not the only one out there with this perspective, but if we're looking for an official name for our theology (and I do think it needs its own identification), why not Extreme Polytheism?

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Day The Gods Wiped My Slate Clean

It's an understatement to say that I've had a great many struggles in my life, but on a cold day, it manifested into the internal monster that had been consuming me for a long time.

For what seemed like weeks and months, I pulled myself through an agonizing world that had no spirituality; I couldn't feel anything. I felt that my past errors as well as my own negative thinking about things, had put me in disfavor with the Gods that might take great feats to repair, something that I was terrified I wouldn't be able to do satisfactorily. I suppose we all have the fear of failure, an anxiety that haunts the back of every human mind. But some might say that mine flooded my head completely. I was so scared that I was incredibly far gone. The ancient Greeks call it miasma, and I'd say I was certainly covered in it.

Many times did I beg the Gods in prayer to pardon me of my past and shortcomings, but the pain and dread continued. Then there came the early morning hours of that fateful day, quite possibly around 3 am, I am unsure, but some time in the opening times of the day after midnight. During the previous day, I had fasted until sundown as a sacrifice to the Gods. According to some, fasting itself lifts you out of the physical ailments and into the spiritual world. I was able to narrow the sleeping time frame down using when I went to bed and awoke. In my dream, there was a horrific monster in the form of a shabby and dirty woman chasing after me. Demonic? My own inner anguish manifesting? Both? I don't know, but it was certainly one of the most terrifying dreams of my life.

I fled from her as fast as I could, but she never went away. Then, very suddenly, a group of people, male and female, dressed in normal clothing, came to my aid. The next thing I knew, I was standing on a bridge, looking down into a vast stream, and in that stream my friends stood with the evil woman lying on her back. I said, "Just grab a limb and pull." They ripped the woman apart, and as her skeletal remains washed down stream, I said, "Into the depths of Tartaros, I send you back!" 

The dream ended by the top of her pelvic bone being placed in my hand. As the day went on after the dream, or some might say a nightmare, I felt as if I had recovered from a sickness. I just knew that the Gods had come and wiped everything away, all the things of my past and put it behind them and myself. As if, Never think of it again, begin a new day. Now was the time I could restart. I no longer felt an ounce of negativity, fear, guilt, or a separation from the Gods. My spirituality had been restored. But I couldn't figure out the meaning of the pelvic bone, so I consulted the best oracle I knew to help me interpret the dream, my wife. It turns out that it's a symbol of personal power, and that when it was placed in my hand, the Gods gave me back control over my life. What's more, the bone actually came from the monster. I had been given triumph over it completely.

I decided to tell this story for two main reasons. Firstly, to dispel the myths and individuals who want to portray the Gods as cruel, uncaring, and having little interest in the prosperity of humans. They are absolutely fascinated by us and want to see us at our best. The Gods knew how badly I was hurting and they didn't want to see me go through it anymore. Second, the Gods wiping away my past shows their immense love for humans because, one, they cared enough about my turmoil to free me from it, and second, even as they were wiping it all away, they knew future mistakes made by me would likely follow, because no human is perfect. Yet, they still chose to be with me now and in the times to come. They didn't see me as a problem but as a potential.

You're never in too deep, that's the lesson I would tell others about my experience. Additionally, the Gods are always there, they always adore you, and they always want to help you. You may lose connection because you turn away, but you'll never lose it because they turn away.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Falsehoods Of Christian and Jewish Persecution in Rome and Egypt

History is ripe with crafting, especially by those who have the privilege of writing it, and Christians have taken the reins for 2 millennia. Among the most common claims are those of Christian and Jewish persecution at the hands of mean old Pagans. It bothers me because, for one, it's either false or exaggerated, and two, it's used by some modern Christian leaders to arouse hatred against anyone who doesn't follow into the kind of society and government they want.

Top Egyptologists now agree that there is no evidence that the Jewish or Hebrew people were enslaved by Egypt. They did not build the pyramids; paid workers did, and the construction of highly religious state monuments would not have been given over to slaves. It would have been assigned to people heavily steeped in the state religious order, not slaves who were outsiders. The people who built the pyramids were, one, Egyptians not Jews, and two, were not slaves. Of course, the Jewish people may have indeed had contact with Egypt. If you read the Old Testament, the adoption of ancient Egyptian religious ideas cannot be denied, but the Jews were likely a warring power that was eventually ousted from the Egyptian kingdom, and if there were some captive Jews in Egypt, they were likely not mainstream slaves or servants. However, despite these facts, modern Jewish and Christian leaders continue to propagate the story of Exodus not as myth or belief, but as historical fact. But to be fair, some modern Jews have acknowledged that Exodus is in the realm of myth. It simply isn't factual history, not only because there's no evidence for it, but because we have evidence directly to the contrary. The alleged travel doesn't even make sense. You can use Google maps to see that it takes about a week to walk from Egypt to Israel. Why did it take Moses and the Hebrews 40 years? There's a reason that Moses and the story of Exodus haven't made it into a single reputable history book to this day, because they are baseless.


The Jewish people have most certainly faced real persecution in their history, but it wasn't from Egypt. In fact, their greatest persecution ever in the history of their world came at the hands of a professed Christian named Adolf Hitler who had 6 million of them murdered.

"My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter against the Jewish poison." - Hitler, April 12th, 1922 at Munich.

Moving onto Rome is a far stickier subject, but nevertheless, something the Christian church has exaggerated. The evidence for Jesus is smoke-screened enough for me to question if he even existed, but let's just say he did and he was simply a religious leader. Chances are, he wasn't punished for his religious beliefs. He was probably executed because he attempted to overthrow the Roman government. Rome was ripe with new religious cults popping up literally by the day. Rome did not mind accepting new Gods into its Empire. The idea of a new or non-Roman God was not, in itself, automatically rejected. In fact, when Rome conquered an area, one of their acts would be to invite the God of those people into the Roman State. While some may have been at odds with one another sometimes violently, even the Jews eventually excommunicated the Christians from their community in 90 CE. But the 313 Edict of Milan gave everyone freedom of religion, including Christians. However, the problem was that the Christians did not want religious freedom. They wanted religious dominance, and refused to allow Jesus to be worshiped alongside other Gods.

But the Christians had a problem. They weren't having much luck converting the general population, so instead, they appealed to leaders in government, who came to admire Christianity because of its ability to control massive amounts of people. Once governments had been Christianized, the forced conversions began, one of the most famous being under the rule of Theodosius I who outlawed the old Pagan and Polytheistic religion, closed down temples, and killed adherents who refused to convert. The Vatican itself likely sits on top of the Temple of Mithras that was there before, and what temples they didn't destroy, they reserved for the purpose of converting them into churches. The only non-Christian religion that remained legal in Rome was Judaism, likely because it was the predecessor. It must be made clear, on the basis of hard historical fact, that the ancient religion left through the immense force of government, not the people. If the early Christians just wanted to be free to practice their religion and nothing else, and most people willingly converted as they would want the world to believe, then why did they feel so threatened that they had to eradicate any religion that competed? Obviously, this would have led to conflict between Christians and the people they tried to impose upon, and would undoubtedly create "persecution" of Christians and their attempt at a religious dictatorship in Europe.

One of the greatest heroes of early Christianity, Paul, was also known for having his hands soaked in the taint of persecution himself when he spent two years in Ephesus warring against the Temple of Artemis and massively burning ancient Greek and even Jewish texts. He eventually fled to Macedonia after the local population rose up against him because of his criminal activity. The Christians couldn't remain safe in many places due, in large part, to their refusal to respect the rights, freedoms and properties of other human beings who didn't agree with them. Their establishments would go on in their early history to continue the persecution of non-Christians and Pagans, one of the most tragic being the brutal murder of the renowned Hypatia of Alexandria at the hands of a Christian mob assembled by the local Bishop. The more and more the Christians gained control, the more violent things became against non-Christians.

One of the biggest claims of persecution from early Christians was that they were punished for refusing to give tribute to the State religion of Pagan Rome. This is a dishonest statement. Everyone at that time was required to pay proper homage to the State, not just Christians. It wasn't as if it said that only Christians had to do it. It was law, and no matter what your religion was, you were not above the law. I agree there should have been more religious freedom than that, but there wasn't an organized effort to only pick on Christians. Anyone who didn't obey the law was reprimanded. It would be like me refusing to pay my taxes and then claiming that the State came after me because I'm Pagan. When in reality, it's because I didn't obey the law, and it wasn't like the Christians ushered in a Utopian time of freedom when they took over. They persecuted far worse anyone and anything that didn't accept their religion or its laws and church. Only in recent history in places like Rome and Greece have followers of the old religion been able to safely be open about their beliefs without being persecuted by the Orthodox powers, and to this day, some individual Christians still carry out violent attacks on Pagan and non-Christian gatherings and properties in various places around the globe.

As an historian, it would also be false for me to sit here and write that there were never any early Christians who were persecuted simply because of their religion. Of course there were. There have always been people who faced oppression for their beliefs, even Pagans at the hands of their own States. Everyone should have the inalienable human right to believe and live the way they want. But the idea that the Christians were the holy peacemakers of the world who never hurt anyone, and the Pagans were the evil monsters who wanted to kill them all and subjugate mankind to barbarism, belongs in a Christian fiction novel, not in a history book or on the podium of any legitimate speaker.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited
* LaBorde, Sharon, Following The Sun: A Practical Guide To Egyptian Religion, 2010. Print.
* Ellerbe, Helen, The Dark Side of Christian History, Morning Star Books, 1995. Print.
* Jones, Prudence, Pennick, Nigel, A History of Pagan Europe, Routledge, New York, New York, 1995. Print.
* Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1985. Print.
* Spivey, Nigel, The Classical World: The Foundations of the West and the Enduring Legacy of Antiquity, Pegasus Books, New York, New York, 2016. Print.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Pagan Response To "Experiences With Jesus."

Scores of Christians in the world claim experiences with Jesus as testament to the validity of their religion. They may talk about how Jesus saved them from illness, debt, jail, or some other horrific disaster, and with over 2 billion Christians in the world, what are we, as Hellenes and Pagans, to say in response if such experiences are used to fly in the face of our own experiences, religions and Gods? How does a Pagan explain experiences with Jesus?

As far as my own perspective, I have no doubt that Jesus was a real man who founded a new religion. It's perfectly plausible that he existed, and eventually ended up having a swirl of myths tagged onto him, like mostly every other influential human figure of old times. If he was indeed an actual human, then like all other humans, he had a soul or a spirit, and just like in Hero and Ancestor worship, the soul or spirit of the person can be contacted, and that entity normally possesses powers and abilities greater than that of people in the flesh.

So, no, I don't call their religion invalid. I don't call them insane or delusional. I think it's perfectly possible that they are experiencing the manifestation of their human hero. But he is just that, a human hero like the countless others that exist. Jesus is a cultural ancestor, founder, and like many Heroes, a savior of his people. Heroes also often act as intercessors between mortals and their Gods, just as Jesus was said to be the bridge between his people and their deity.

I also think that Christians are used to looking at divinity only through Christian lenses. If Apollon came to them, cloaked in the light of the sun, they would probably think He was an angel, or maybe even Jesus, because that's the only way they know to explain it, and the only eyes they possess for the universe. So I also entertain the idea that they're not actually seeing Jesus, but a God or Being that is responding to humanity in a way that they can understand.

All in all, I think each person calls on things relevant and known to them, and that those who have passed on who have a direct connection with us in some form, can reach back into this realm and touch us. Jesus, as a human ancestor and hero of the Jews and Christians, is no different.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why Do So Many Pagans Get Upset With The Word "Worship?"

Talk to some modern Pagans about their Path, and they'll say things like, "I don't worship the Gods, I work with them." It is obvious, to my mind, that their former lives as Christians or monotheists have left a really bad taste in their mouths, and so they associate even terms our Pagan ancestors identified with as being inherent of the Abrahamic traditions. They came to Paganism, in part, because they wanted to get away from the self-loathing and "groveling" that is often associated with the mainstream faiths, and get into a religion or practice where they could have a more direct relationship with Deity. This is understandable, but worship doesn't inherently mean anything Abrahamic. Worship simply means, to pay reverent (respectful) honor and homage to a God. Any time you do this, you are giving worship. So even something as simple as recognizing a God as a God, means you have given worship. Ritual, prayer, hymn, sacrifice, and art, if centered around a particular God or Gods, are all forms of worship, because you have given respectful honor and homage to them.

It's similar to people who have the same bad taste in their mouths and say they are, "Spiritual but not religious." Religion is defined as having a set of beliefs or practices concerning theology. So even if your beliefs and practices are your own entirely, you are practicing religion. It doesn't have to be inherently tied to an organized group of people, denomination, or church to be religious.

Our Pagan ancestors were most certainly religious, and they most certainly worshiped, and yet they were not Abrahamic. The ancient Greeks, for example, loved, revered, and feared their Gods, and they didn't believe they were equal to the Gods, but yet they were still the beacon of light for the intellectual, physical, and societal advancement of the Western world. They saw nothing about religion and worship that demanded they be anything less than what a human could, or that they despise said fact. They simply realized that, even with all that humans could achieve, there were still Higher Powers to be respected, admired, and thanked for making life and the Universe possible in the first place.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bibliomancy Divination In Daily Rites

If your Pagan or Polytheistic religion has religious texts, you may find, like myself, that you enjoy a morning rite accompanied by Bibliomancy. It's not just a Pagan tradition, either. Christians do it all the time. I remember when I was southern baptist, my grandmother Faye told me that when I needed to know something for my spiritual, religious and personal growth, that God would guide to the right passage in the bible. Of course, these days, my texts are things like The Iliad, The Odyssey, and various philosophers like Plato.

In short, Bibliomancy involves the practice of finding selected words or passages in a book for answers to a question, normally guided by the hand of a God or another kind of spiritual presence.

The reason I enjoy Bibliomancy probably better than any other form of personal divination, is because of how detailed the message can be when it speaks to you. Instead of producing a card with brief epithets or a stone with a very general marking, you can actually have an entire response a page or more long.

Like today, as I celebrated the monthly observance of Athena's birthday, I used an antique copy of The Iliad in asking Her, basically, "What message might you have for me today, O' Goddess?" I was guided to page 455, which said,

"Cease from the strife! Let godlike Achilles drive from the city right now the Trojans; for what care I for contention and succor? Do not mistreat the Immortals for a mortals' sake. Thus the rage of Xanthus was tamed, but by the dissension of the Gods, the broad earth groaned."

Really, the entire page talked about me allowing myself to have peace in life, to blame mortals for mortal problems and not the Gods, and that the Gods, if angry at anything, are more so upset with the state of the world, not me personally. It was clearly a message for a man who is being too hard on himself as an individual, and to call on the Gods and Heroes to help fight the things that are overwhelming to me. And lastly, that if I am trying to impress the Gods with my own feats, it may be of little consequence to Beings who are far bigger than myself. In other words, once again, don't be so hard on myself.

The advice of the Goddess was a tremendous blessing. I needed it today more than ever, for Her to say those words. She clearly knew my suffering with the hardships of my life, and the ones I have put on my own mind and body. She came in mercy to assure me of the love of Heaven, and this is one of the main reasons I like Bibliomancy. Through the text, She was able to speak to me with direction and precision, because there were many ways that those words could be utilized.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Source: Smith, William Benjamin, The Iliad of Homer, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1944. Print. PP. 455.

Monday, November 19, 2018

How To Build Private Prayer Space For All Purposes

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

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

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

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

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Everyday Environmentalism For The Pagan

As Pagans, and lovers of Nature, we all care about the environment and the Natural World around us, so it's no wonder that many of us consider ourselves strong environmentalists. However, one problem is that the world is a big place, and it's easy for us to find ourselves overwhelmed. But in ancient Greek times, each person, citizen or priest was responsible for their specific precinct, city, sanctuary or temple alone. One person couldn't run the whole Greek land, but with each person doing their part in each little section, the whole land vibrated. I have incorporated this idea into my own personal environmentalist efforts, and I encourage all other Hellenes and Pagans to do the same. Take a look at the picture on the right. This is a very small section of forest behind my home that I decided to sponsor, if you will, and I take regular trips through it to make sure the forest floor and trees are clean. 

On the outside, a forest like this may look presentable and fresh, but you would not believe the amount of trash I pulled from it just today. Look at the picture on the left. And by the way, that big plastic bag I used to hold all the trash was also found in the forest. The forest has two major issues that it has to deal with. One is, of course, careless humans, and the other is the fact that it stands next to a public dumpster, so there's the possibility that trash could accidentally blow through it and land in various places. 

Upon noticing the area being in need, I walked out there and worked as long as it took, releasing much sweat and pain, but eventually I recovered the landscape, and at the end, I praised Artemis and declared my labor as an offering to Her and the woodlands and forests She loves so much. I don't consider just stone and brick structures to be temples of the Gods, but also the woods, rivers, fields, and so on. These things over which the Gods rule are also their temples and sanctuaries, and that's why I, and all Pagans and Hellenes, should work to keep them clean, safe and protected. It took only about 30 minutes of my time, and it didn't require superhuman abilities or machines. Yet, I still cleaned up this entire section of forest all by myself using only my hands, a large bag, and devotion in my heart. I hope all of us will find the same in ourselves for the world around us.

When you have accomplished the work, you will feel amazingly good about yourself. You might even come to discover wonderful natural places that you never knew existed around you. It may also even give you a great sense of pride and belonging in your community. I know when you're laboring, it gets frustrating to think of the fact that you wouldn't have to be out there if people weren't so stupid, and that you will probably have to go out there again in the future because of them. But pray for those people, and be a good example and role model for them. The world is full of followers, not leaders. We need more of the latter.

Note that when deciding to sponsor a piece of natural land that is not specifically your own, make sure that you have permission to be on it. If the land is owned by a private person or company, just ask. Most people probably wouldn't mind giving you permission to clean it up for them. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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