Sunday, July 2, 2023
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Monday, June 26, 2023
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
The first mistake modern people make is thinking all religions are the same, and thus, they assume that the ancient Greeks had a "holy book" of religion and myth. This is utterly false.
Not only was ancient Greece a collection of City States completely independent from one another in government and beliefs, but there was no law dictating how someone could view the Gods or what stories they could accept or not.
In fact, it's kind of inaccurate to call it "The Ancient Greek Religion" because there were, in fact, many forms of ancient Greek religion and Cult. Sparta and Athens, for example, believed in the same Gods but did not have the same religion or culture. Not to mention the fact that there were cults everywhere that adhered to their own identities.
So for instance, someone today might say that my beliefs on Artemis being gracious and kind to people is skewed considering the myth of Actaeon, but there's literally nothing in Hellenic religion which says I have to accept that story as literal fact or accept it at all. It's not like Christianity or Islam where the title of the religion depends on the acceptance of one written book or "testament."
We do know that we believe in Artemis as She is, of course. But I don't have to believe everything that everyone tells me about Her. I have the right to my own experiences and perspectives, and it does not denote me as a Hellenist.
You can believe whatever you want about someone, but it doesn't change them. You can believe that Chris Aldridge is a shapeshifting, blood drinking vampire, but it does not make me one, nor does it make me guilty of said actions.
It's also true that not only could a given myth vary in detail from City to City, but many of them were handed down by word of mouth, which can change and modify with each teller, especially as the time and culture changes.
In fact, some of the myths we accept today as Greek, were not even composed by the Greeks. The story of raped Medusa that people commonly call Greek in our time, was actually written by a Roman. The original story, which says nothing of rape or punishment, was written by the Greek Hesiod.
This is also not a modern change to Hellenism either. Greeks were not forced to accept a given story. Historically, it's accepted that around the time of the Hellenistic Era, the myths as literal facts began to waiver as a concept.
But considering people like Plato and Sokrates, I think it began much sooner than that. Those men clearly believed in the Greek Gods but were also philosophers and not necessarily mythologists. They wrote about people's experiences with the Gods instead of taking written myths and saying, "Here's the 100% truth."
Hellenic religion can be hard to understand, but if you ever manage to grasp the core, it'll make perfect sense to you.
In the Goodness of the Gods, I'll see you at the next Herm down the road.
Monday, April 24, 2023
*Literary- Aird, Hamish, Pericles, The Rise and Fall of Athenian Democracy, The Rosen Publishing Group, New York, New York, 2004, pp. 24-25.
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Monday, February 7, 2022
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Let's start with an example from my own life, so that the reader may better understand this universal truth. I have a very cute cat named Rosie, who we adopted from a local animal shelter a year or so ago. She is a valuable asset to our family at times, but she also has her many problems. The trouble she gets into will sometimes make me incredibly angry to the point that I want to get rid of her, but here's the thing, I can't. No matter how much I want to pick her up and toss her out my door, my emotions create empathy and love, and make me realize that such an action is not only cruel, but very wrong and dishonorable. More so, the Gods are able to appeal that ethical side to me because of the fact that they enabled me with the emotional capacity for empathy and compassion. If I had no emotion, I could do whatever I wanted to other living creatures and indeed the world around me. No matter what the Gods or humans told me, I would be unable to feel or understand it, and that would be a recipe for disaster.
The same goes for other people. The reason we don't abandon our children, spouses or loved ones is because our emotional states will not allow it. Our ability to love and feel keeps us moral and honorable. If we didn't have that capacity, our species would de-evolve into extinction. The Gods gave it to us because it was necessary for our survival and the prosperity of everything around us. And if we encounter someone who fails to show emotion, such as a sociopath, we consider them to be mentally ill, not a natural production.
Realizing this about ourselves is crucial to beginning to understand the genius of the Gods and the intelligence behind our natural existence.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Part of being Socratic, and really being Hellenic, is not to have arrogance in your beliefs, but confidence. Even in liberal groups like the Pagan community, you can find people who will tell you that you are doing things wrong with your religion or spirituality. When I was a Neo-Pagan, I had people left and right telling me I was wrong, sometimes calling me a heretic. There are even rare times as a Reconstructionist when I encounter an individual I don't agree with. For example, I have read some Hellenists who don't pray to Greek Heroes outside of Herakles, because they believe it to be a localized custom and not relevant or appropriate for someone outside of that locality. Many years back, I even met a guy who didn't believe that humans can talk to the Gods directly, but that we have to ask lower spirits for intercession, essentially. While these people may be a minority in the community, they still exist. Of course, I disagree with all of their views. One might call be a "PanHellene," because I incorporate ancient Greek spirituality from everywhere in the religion. I pray to all and firmly believe that we can talk directly to any level of Divinity, but if I allowed their opinions to tell me how to think about the Gods and my religion, I'd never feel spiritual or anything like myself. I have enough confidence in my own beliefs and views that I'm never thrown off my course. For the longest time, I allowed myself to be disrupted through a lack of confidence, and eventually, grew sick to death of it. I became tired of letting other people, even those close to me, tell me what to think or how to feel. You'll notice that you feel depressed, enslaved, even hopeless when you allow this to happen, but when you finally become an individual, you feel liberated. There's a reason for that, the reason being that you were always meant to be your own person.
This doesn't just go for religion and spirituality either, but all things that make you an individual. If we allow other people to tell us what to think, or how to feel, we will have a change in our minds and emotions every single day of our lives, because there's always going to be someone with a difference or disagreement. When you let someone put their own mind inside your head, you've lost all.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Friday, June 21, 2019
Monday, May 27, 2019
We should all be more like my son, who is brave enough to not let his circumstances define him. Who takes this life every day and makes it a happy one without letting anything stand in the way of that happiness, no matter how big or troublesome. He just loves life, and delights in all the wonderful things around him. Most importantly, he does this by choice. He could decide to not be joyful very easily, but I think that somewhere inside him, he knows life wasn't meant to be dismal.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
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.
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,
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
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,
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Socrates believed that such an inability or inadequacy would render someone unable to tell the difference between right and wrong, virtuous and non-virtuous. When your mind only has room for one thing, nothing else can be thought on or acknowledged. So Socrates wanted to become a man who could enjoy life, but without losing the ability to think in the process, without being unable to weigh virtue. It was not that he thought pleasure had no place, it was the fact that he considered virtue to be more important. Pleasure was not inherently destructive, our inability to reason was.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Friday, May 18, 2018
The peace simply came in knowing that they heard me. Absolutely nothing had happened yet in regards to the move. We had not even found a new home. But I knew the Gods heard my words, a simple common man, and that alone was enough. Their power and presence is beyond amazing. There are no words which a human mouth or hand can use to describe it. The best I can say is that, when you're in the presence of the Gods, goodness is all that exists there.
In the Goodness of the Gods.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
When you live as an ancient Greek, you find an inherent flow of the Greek spirit through you before you even realize it. For example, today I purchased a new book on the way of ancient Greek life, which stated that the enjoyment of life and the acknowledgement of how delightful the world is, constitutes the hallmark of the Greek spirit. This is what I have felt and told people in philosophy for the longest time, but had never read it in actual context until now. When Greek lives within you, it's like all that is Greek also comes with it. You don't have to always willfully put it there. The Gods reach down and mold you into the identity of their people.
I have said in the past that Hellenism has made me religiously the happiest I have ever been in my life, and this is true. A large part of that reality is the simple fact that I experience so much joy, wonder and intrigue on a daily basis with the Gods, Spirits, Heroes, and the stories, myths and customs of ancient Greece.
My first pleasure is that I wake up each day knowing that I am part of a vibrant, growing and supportive community. When I first began joining the national group Hellenion, I attended a libation rite to Hermes through their online broadcast. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting times of my life; to be there with people who felt like brothers and sisters, who believed in the same Gods as me, as we worshiped together in union and friendship.
Of course, the real and ultimate beauty is the Gods and the spirituality of the religion. I love waking up to the beautiful sunshine, knowing that my day begins and ends with Gods all around me. The morning begins with Eos, Helios and Hemera, the latter two throughout the entire day. During which time I can pray to, worship and honor so many wonderful Gods relevant to everything, from Zeus in the sky, Artemis over the forests, hills, wildlife, and animals, Aphrodite in love, Poseidon of the seas and rivers, Athena for my strength and protection, Apollon for healing, light and inspiration, Hera for Motherly guidance and nurturing, Hermes on my travels and publishing endeavors, Demeter for my great foods and beautiful fields, Dionysos for life and joy itself, Hephaitsos for creativity and invention, Ares for success in the battles of life, I could go on and on even beyond the Olympians. When night draws close, I am in the presence of wonderful Gods like Nyx and Selene. There is never a time when the Gods are not there.
As such, I love building beautiful worship spaces, sanctuaries and temples to the Gods, as I have many of such structures at my home. At the Shrine of The Dodekatheon, incense burns throughout the day to all of the Gods, focusing on the 12 Olympians. Below it rests a shrine to the Heroes and on the last level an altar to the dead and ancestors. I also have an outside sanctuary to my town and region's Patron Goddess, Artemis.
I also love the fact that there are so many wonderful Heroes and Heroines in our religion we can pray to and interact with, some of which are my Patron Heroes, namely Theseus. As with the Gods, the Heroes can encompass a wide range of epithets. Unfortunately, there's no ancient list, so we have to use fact-based reasoning behind it. For example, in His story, we know that Theseus traveled on foot across the Greek landscape to Athens, and along the way, put an end to criminals and monsters. Therefore, when I go out during the day, I may invoke Theseus the Traveler to see me safely there and back, especially if I am walking somewhere. So when I take my evening walks, I pray something like, Theseus the Traveler, bless and watch me on my journey tonight. Another example might be Antigone. We know She died for Her choice to do what She thought was right, despite being ordered to do what was wrong. So in tough decisions of right and wrong, I may call on Antigone of Honor. My prayer may state something along the lines of, Antigone of Honor, help me to do what's right, instead of what's desired.
As a devout Hellene, you'll also notice that ancient Greece is always on your mind, and flows through your whole body and life. I can open, for example, Plato or Homer for the answer to literally anything I am going through or want advice on. These sources of philosophy, myth and religion alone are 2,400 pages long. And keep in mind, these men are only 2 sources for the religion and worldview. I never run out of things to learn from or stories to experience.
I'll never give it up. I have only one regret; that I didn't find Hellenism sooner.
In the Goodness of the Gods,