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

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Animals Do Have Religion


It's a common assumption that no other animal, except humans, has religion. Of course, there are many things wrong with this analysis. For one, animals cannot talk to us and there is no machine that can read minds. So we have no way of knowing if other beings have religion or spirituality in any form. Second, religion is an incredibly broad term. Some people today even think it only applies to Christianity or other monotheisms, when the fact is that the term encompasses anything that is a formation centered around the belief in and veneration of Higher Powers. There is no requirement for a holy book, a church, or even a congregation. So, with that being the case, do other animals have religion?

Yes, they absolutely do. Let's begin with the elephant, which is one of the most intelligent non-human beings on the planet. The average person probably has no idea that these animals worship the moon, as they have been observed waving branches at the waxing cycle. They also take ritual baths in the moonlight when it's full, and they will bury their dead with food and flowers (a common practice among ancient humans to accompany the deceased into the afterlife). Not only that, but elephants also show additional veneration for the sun and stars. Chimps have been seen dancing at the onset of storms and at water sources, that can only be interpreted as ritualistic or religious behavior, and when a member of their community dies, their funerary customs are nearly identical to that of humans, which include silence, corpse preparation, and visitation. It appears that the more intelligent a species is, the more likely they are to believe in or venerate Higher Powers.

Generally speaking, I have always been perplexed at the assertion that non-human beings don't have religion, because have you ever asked them? Has your household pet ever told you that they don't believe in Gods? Has anyone taken mindreading surveys from birds, deer and foxes? Exactly how do we know how other beings see the world and their own lives? Religion is expressed in the ways that a given devotee can present it. Dogs, for example, cannot talk, so naturally they cannot verbally pray. They also cannot build anything notable, so of course they don't have temples or churches. If they were to express religion, the manner would likely be something completely alien to us. We simply would not recognize it. With most other animals, it is simply not possible to measure the religious or spiritual, and it is therefore foolhardy to draw ultimate conclusions.

Lastly, in the broader picture, I don't see why it would matter even if no other animal had religion. There are lots of things that only humans do or can do. We're the only ones who wear clothes, have cars, TVs, computers, nations, flags, armies, books, medicine and science to name a few, but that hardly means that those things are false or invalid. Perhaps is it precisely because we are the most intelligent that we can experience the Gods the most.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_behavior_in_animals

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Depression Relief Proves Divinity


Religious people tend to be less depressed than non-religious. This is not an opinion, but the fact of 61% to 67% of studies on the subject. It's been something long thought to be true. While there are always exceptions to every rule, the over all reality is that people who are religious and spiritual tend to have better mental health, which you would think shatters the idea that religion is a "mental illness," as some non-religious people ridiculously claim. The bigger picture is that this is hard evidence that Divinity exists. Why? For the simple fact that depression is a real condition, a chemical imbalance, and thus, it's not something that you can "believe" away. In order for the affliction to be conquered or controlled, order and balance must be restored. So what do religious people have in this case that non-religious do not? The presence of Gods and ascension inside and around them.

All that is Divine can do good for the human condition. Take the Sun for instance, which was and still is a God to certain people and groups. The Sun's light and rays have proven healing powers (Apollon being God of the sun and healing). The light can as well push depression out of the mind and even heal infants of jaundice. The Sun saves the babies from permanent brain damage and death caused by this affliction. Again, jaundice is not something you can "believe" away. The Gods are literally staring us right in the face if we would simply open our eyes and look. Higher Powers are obvious.

Being someone who has battled severe depression and severe anxiety disorder in his own life since I was a teenager, I can attest to the power of the Gods in confronting the conditions. The medicine provided by the Gods and my doctors also helped a great deal (as they were meant to), but without the Gods themselves I feel I would have simply been soiling the problem. The Gods are the ones who lift our minds to a higher plane. Our lives become unbothered, at least in my experience, by the typical obstacles of mundane life. When I walk into my temple, all my troubles leave my mind. When I sit in the hot rays of the Sun, it's as if nothing else matters, an overwhelming sense of good, love and security takes over.

Perhaps this observation has been with us even as far back as ancient Greece, when Homer wrote, "Those who depart from the Gods, I find to be in wanting."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Christianity Trembles Before The Pythia


For over a thousand years, the Oracle of Delphi gave the counsel of Apollon to the ancient Hellenic world. She was not, by any means, the only Oracle around. But she was, without a doubt, the most loved and revered. Fortunately today, centuries after she vanished, we still have records of the amazingly accurate words and sound advice she gave to mortals.

When her time came to an end during the rising Christian era takeover, allegations and legends came to surround the event. Some claim she was murdered by the Christian invasion. This could be a likely case, as we know that the Christian Emperor Theodosius the First ordered the temples closed, Games stopped, and the old religions outlawed. Considering that we know for a fact that the early Christians spilled seas of Pagan blood, it's not a farfetched idea that the Pythia (Oracle of Delphi) defended her temple and was killed. We know the murders happened and that Christian leaders and emperors ordered the attacks. Specifically considering people like the Pythia and Hypatia of Alexandria, we as well know the early Christians hated nothing more than a powerful woman. What remained of Delphi's wealth and treasures then faced certain destruction and looting. Another mystery is where her body, and those of the past Oracles, were buried. But if the last Oracle faced a mob of zealots, they destroyed her body, and if they knew the location of the graves or tombs of the women who preceded her, they destroyed and looted them.

If this account of the final Pythia is true, so could be her alleged final prophecy that she gave to her killers before they took her life, saying that the Christians would lose in the end. Specifically, "One day Apollon will return and He will stay." More broadly, we might interpret this to mean that the old religion cannot be kept oppressed for long, nor can the Gods be defeated, and that it's only a matter of time before they regain their rightful places. If she did make such a prediction, it needs to be added to her list of accuracies.

In our time, Christianity continues to significantly decline, both in America and around the world. In fact, it's always had trouble keeping power, largely relying on the force of government for most of its existence. But the more freedom of religion has spread, the greater their loss in numbers. In the United States, Christians make up 65% of the population, which is a 13% drop from just ten years ago. In truth, this is nothing new, as Christian numbers in America have been continuously falling for the last three decades. Catholicism, the largest Christian religion, has suffered a worldwide drop of two million in just the last three years. If the trend continues, American Christians will be a minority by the year 2042 at the latest, with Christianity itself becoming one of the fastest declining religions on the planet. In short, Christianity is losing power amazingly fast.

Meanwhile, non-Christians religions continue to grow. The old religions, Hellenism among them, even gaining enough foot in Greece again that the Christian government recognized them as an official religion once more. Polytheism and Paganism are among the fastest growing, or more accurately, fastest returning religions in the world. The last prophecy of the Pythia has come true.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Cave From The Common

To look at some of the gorgeous and breathtaking caves of the world, it's not hard to see why they were sometimes used as sanctuaries of Gods. We can find ourselves feeling as though we are entering another world, leaving our own realm for an entirely new one, that even separates us from our past. In ancient Greece, I don't think this revelation changed much in the minds of worshipers, for they used these beautiful caverns to connect with the Divine world. Of course, they also built amazing temples and outdoor sanctuaries, but it appears that the Hellenic mind believed there were many ways to find the Gods. I also share that worldview. In fact, when I built my Elizabethan Sanctuary of Artemis back in 2016 when I lived in Elizabeth, Illinois, I chose to construct it within a solid, enclosed area on all sides except the entrance. It was the closest I could come to a cave-like structure on my property. It also seemed to give the precinct great protection from the elements. 

On the Akropolis in Athens where Athena's grand Parthenon stood, simple cave sanctuaries could also be found on the cliffs. Zeus, Apollon and Pan all have such precincts there. But when we look deeper into the structures of caves, whether simple or elaborate, their many functions for religious purposes are revealed. You don't really have to build anything because the structure is already there by nature, the inside provides a cooling from the summer heat that would have especially been sought in a Mediterranean summer, some caves have their own water sources that might be used for purification or even drinking, and it's easy to store offerings, gifts and religious objects in safe and hidden places. There's simply just an otherworldly feeling about these majestic parts of the Earth, that by going into Gaia, we can find ourselves and our links with the universe.

I myself personally prefer a temple or built sanctuary, but all my life, I have found so much peace and wonder in the natural world. As a child and teenager, the forests of North Carolina were my running grounds. My late grandfather would even take me to the next City and its nature preserve to see Boone's Cave. I found it as mysterious, intriguing and even scary as the myths he would tell me about it. The inner workings of the Earth have become part of the human experience, religious or not. They remain as some inherent presence of our being.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Is Giant DNA Still With Us Today?

Robert Wadlow and His Father, before 1937

As far back as ancient Greece herself, there have been stories of giants who walked the Earth, made trouble for smaller people, and even unsuccessfully warred against the Gods. While people today scoff at the idea as a mere fairytale or a story invented to make kids go to bed, I've taken time to do my own brainstorming as a mythologist on the topic, and I have developed a theory to present. Generally put, the stories of giants are not false, incorrect or misinterpreted.

Let's begin by examining the average height of an ancient Greek male, which was 5'7". Even today in America, that has only increased by 2 inches. Six footers and above like myself, are not the norm. However, we also know that there have been extremely rare cases of people who have grown to extraordinary size and height, such as Andre the Giant and Robert Wadlow, Andre being 7'4" and Wadlow 8'11", and from my own state of Illinois. 

These incredibly large people achieve their status not through a fairytale, but hard genetics. Both men had what is called gigantism, which is the result of abnormal or very overactive hormones and glands. And here's the kicker about Wadlow; at the time of his death, they could not conclude that he had reached his maximum growth. That's right, it is possible that he could have gotten even bigger. He also possessed amazing strength, perhaps the kind that would have been used to help build what we know as the Cyclopean Walls.

An average person looking up at these colossal people would certainly think of them as what they literally are, giants. Because these conditions of great size are science, what if it is, in fact, the rare DNA of ancient giants, that continues to sometimes be handed down through the human line? People today think of giants as those who reach to the clouds, and are even monsters, but that doesn't have to be the case. To me, there is no question as to whether giants existed. We have seen them with our very eyes.

Our ancient past isn't as distant as we have been led to believe, nor are the old stores as far fetched as we have been taught by the modern education system.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Sources: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Wadlow

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fire Didn't Raise No Fool

Prometheus gave humans fire in order to advance our minds, that is what the ancient Greeks believed. Humans were made last, and there was nothing left to give us in the way of natural weapons or abilities, and so the Gods gave us an amazing mind, that we could be superior to all the animals around us. The beginning of that development was the gift of fire that the Titan blessed us with. While most people of our modern Age may think nothing of the story outside of a cultural worldview long passed, science proves that it's actually true. As with mostly all the Myths, our educational system of today leads us to discount rather than examine them.

Prehistoric man did indeed have fire, and we now know that because they had fire and were able to cook with it, the human brain grew. Because of the fact that food became more digestible, far more nutrients went into the body as opposed to earlier primates who couldn't use the tool. In short, it is a literal fact that the gift of fire advanced the human mind. In the broader view of humanity, it literally gave a rocket boost to human evolution itself. Fire later became used in sacrifices and was considered a sign of the presence of a God. Fire, when big enough, would also keep nightly predators away, and so it became known as that which drives away evil. 

Of course, the ancient Greeks had no knowledge of this prehistoric and modern science, so how did they know? Who told them? The Higher Powers and Intelligences of the universe, whom all humans have an inherent connection and quest for because of schema, created that realization. Simply put, the Gods told them. Today we are often raised and trained to be afraid of fire. I remember when I was growing up, just lighting a stove scared or made me very nervous. We should most certainly be careful with it, because after all, it did come from Powers beyond our control, but I think that the more we grow accustomed to the natural world and our natural selves, we understand the Divinity and wonderfulness of it all. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Holy War That Shook Ancient Greece To The Core

As we saw in the First Sacred War, the victory of the League of Delphi resulted in the destruction of the town occupying its harbor and the restoration of Apollon's Temple. Delphi had won her first holy conflict, but it would be only the beginning of religious and economic fights over the center of the Greek world. 

Athens has always taken powerful and pivotal roles in ancient Greek history, and even today they hold tremendous influence as the capital of modern Greece and the most populated City of the nation. Although, we must remember that in ancient times, Greece or Hellas was not a unified land. Each City State had its own government, laws and religious observances. In the decade of the 440s BCE, the imperial power of the City of Athens began to flex its muscle into central Greece, and the fact that Delphi was there did not go unnoticed, neither by Athens or its biggest rival City, Sparta.

Not only had Athens spent a lot of time, money and effort dominating the Delphic sanctuary with their own dedications and even a treasury whose ruins still stand today, but Athens also started to control and influence all the areas around or within proximity of Delphi, and the people who would strike this match were the Phocians. Phocis was a central region of Greece in which Delphi resided, and the people wanted to incorporate it into their jurisdiction, probably not only because of the influence it held over the Greek world, but the immense amount of wealth that was accumulating there. But it appeared as though the Phocians were not strong enough to do it on their own. They managed to enlist the powerful aid of Athens in removing the independence of Delphi.

Sparta had frequently consulted the Oracle of Delphi and had begun establishing their presence in the sanctuary. They did not like the fact that Athens was literally the master of the Temple and the City, so they decided to send troops to overthrow the Phocian control and return Delphi to its full independent state in 449 BCE. Sparta succeeded and Delphi was again ruled by Delphi alone, which the people of the City and Temple were extremely grateful for. They even erected dedications to the Spartans for their liberty. 

However, the victory was brief. Two years after the Spartans left, Athens sent its troops under the command of Perikles and restored Phocian rule, establishing a tug of war in central Greece. But by 445 BCE, independence was again won by Delphi, noting the fact that Athens had to eventually turn its attention fully to Sparta in the Peloponnesian War by 431. Athens, at that point, simply did not have the time or power to keep Delphi locked, and would end up losing the war to Sparta after nearly 30 years of brutal fighting. Further conflict would not return to the City of Delphi for around 100 years later, what would come to be known as the Third Sacred War. For the time being, Delphi would once again remain a free State.

Read my post on the First Sacred War here. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Sources

Scott, Michael, Delphi, A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.

Friday, May 21, 2021

In Search of Greek Heroes: Bellerophon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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

Monday, January 4, 2021

Massachusetts School Bans Odyssey Because Of "Sexism and Hate," Proving How Little They Actually Know About It


The declining intellect of some members of the human race never surprises me in this day and age. A Massachusetts school has actually banned The Odyssey because it teaches "sexism, racism, ableism, antisemitism, and violence." Good Gods, I don't even know where to start, but I'll try, because I'm a Hellenist of 10 years who has actually read the works of Homer and studies ancient Greek religion and civilization. The first thing these historically illiterate people need to understand is that Homer was not merely a Poet to the ancients, He was history. To them, He was simply reciting things that had happened long ago, not advocating a political or social position. It would be like accusing someone who writes a US history book of being sexist, racist, or whatever it may be. 

Claim 1: The Odyssey is sexist. 

False. The Odyssey holds Goddesses and mortal women to some of the highest levels of honor, power, virtue, wisdom and nobility. Without Athena, Odysseus and His son would not have been safe from the suitors. In the beginning, Athena even makes a plea for Odysseus to Zeus, showing how valuable it was to have the favor of female Divinity. If it hadn't been for Penelope's persistence and dedication, Ithaca might have been lost. Without Nausicca, Odysseus may have died before even reaching home. Or perhaps you might think the story is somehow sexist because men at times encounter female opponents or villains. But this is a huge fallacy, especially considering that there are many female Heroes, and male villains as well such as the Cyclops and the suitors who are depicted with great disgrace. At this point, you're finding sexism only because you desire to.

Claim 2: The Odyssey is racist.

Have you ever even read the first book? At the beginning of the story, Poseidon is away delighting with the Ethiopians, a race different than that of the Greeks. So let's put this into perspective. One of the greatest Gods of the caucasian Greeks leaves Greece to go feast and celebrate with the black Ethiopians, and this is supposed to signal racism. In what reality? Odysseus travels to many foreign lands of people different than the Greeks, where He often receives their aid and protection. Sometimes, people in The Odyssey even sacrifice to foreign Gods when they are in foreign lands to gain divine favor outside of their own culture.

Claim 3: The Odyssey supports ableism. 

What shall we say of the idea that abled people are more favored than disabled people in The Odyssey? I would imagine it thinks disabled people can be very capable, since at the end, Odysseus, in the form of an elderly wobbling man, outdid and defeated the younger, stronger suitors in the bow contest, and then killed them all. So the allegation that The Odyssey "doesn't like disabled people," is an invention at worst, and out of context at best.

Claim 4: The Odyssey is Antisemitic. 

The largest culture closest to the Jewish people in The Odyssey would be the Phoenicians, who were a semitic speaking people. While they resided in Israeli territory, they in fact had trade and influence all over the Mediterranean. Hardly something you would expect from people who were allegedly hated by the Mediterranean at the time, but there is something vastly important to consider. They were not enemies of Odysseus. They were friendly, helpful and essential to Odysseus completing His journey. In fact, in Book 8, Odysseus blesses them by saying, "The Gods shower down their grace upon these people, so that no evil dwell among them forever."  Odysseus bears no ill will toward the Phoenicians, but in fact is grateful for their presence. Some might even argue that the Phoenicians would not qualify as Jewish people, since their king Alcinous prayed to a Greek God after the blessing of Odysseus was given and encouraged his people to do the same: "Herald, stir the mixing bowl and carry drink to the entire hall, that our dispatching the stranger to his land may be with prayer to Zeus the Father."

The antisemitism that's allegedly in the story was, in fact, pulled out of someone's butt in the year 2020 and placed there. If anyone can locate a section in The Odyssey that is blatantly antisemitic, please post it in the comment section and we will examine it. 

Claim 5: The Odyssey is violent.

Violence is part of the nature of the universe, and part of human nature when necessary. Get over it. Sometimes violence is needed to create, build and preserve. You think the Earth came into being peacefully? You think there were no violent events? What of the United States that gives you the freedom to speak against literature you dislike? You think we maintained our way of life through campfire songs? Get real. Teaching children that there's no such thing as violence is to make them ill-prepared for the real world. It may be unfortunate, but sometimes violence is necessary. On a side note, you know other books and stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, that are violent? Harry Potter, but even with the immense violence and the clear transphobic attitude of JK Rowling, I bet they are still on the shelves of every public school library. 

In conclusion, yes, it is true that in parts of ancient Greece (not all), women were not equal to men. Although they were highly revered and privileged in Sparta, a kingdom which also appears in The Odyssey. But it's also true that women were not equal to men for most of American history as well. So are you going to ban US history books? And what of the violence? You'll have to ban US history for that as well. 

Disabled people in ancient Greece, unlike in other parts of the known world, could become valuable members of society, such as Seers. Some cultures, notably the Abrahamics, wouldn't even let disabled or deformed people sacrifice in their temples or at their altars because of their disabilites or deformities. The Greeks weren't that ignorant. And as said before, the Greeks routinely interacted with the many races and cultures around them. They traded with them, learned from them, and made friendships and alliances. This is not the conduct of racism or antisemitism. 

There is not, nor ever will be, such a thing as a perfect history, culture or people. You're going to end up banning every book known to humankind. The point of history is to learn, but this is the blatant erasing of it.

Update - Apparently the book hasn't actually been banned, there has simply been discussion of it, but nonetheless, it was strong enough to create news headlines, and accusations that should be addressed. 1/5/2021.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited: The Odyssey, translated by Laurence of Arabia aka T.E. Shaw.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Preordained Death: Feelings of Fate

The ancient Greeks, to a good extent, believed in Fate, as is evident in their mythologies and religious beliefs. Homer, the ancient Greek Poet, once said that no one can send Him into the Underworld until it is His time, but that when it is His time, nothing can stop it either. So the question begs, are our lives preordained in the sense that we have a time to live and a time to die? I talked with my wife about this idea briefly last night. I myself have always believed the words of Homer concerning the situation, but through philosophy, I think I have been forced to add something onto it.

I do think that most people will not die until it is their time. How many brushes with death have people had and missed it? There are lots of people in the world today who should be dead, but they're not. So it's clear that there was an aversion to the end of their lives at that point. However, we must also consider another fact. Nature always has anomalies. So when we ask ourselves, can someone die before their time? In some cases, the answer would have to be yes. Because if people couldn't die before their time, the Gods would not acknowledge such a thing as murder. A human life could not be taken unjustly if no one died until their time. So the fact that the opposite is true, shows that not everyone will make it to their destined time, whether it be because of murder or a natural cause of death. However, I do not think that's the norm. I think the vast majority of us will not die until our time, or for that matter, experience anything we are not supposed to.

But at the end of the day, I know the Gods are good, and along with Homer's words, I live my life in a state of comfort.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ceres V. Jesus In Missouri: Outcry Over Capitol Dome Statue

A statue of Ceres, the Roman Goddess of agriculture, is set to take place atop the capitol dome in Missouri, and this has drawn outcry from a conservative representative, Mike Moon, who has asked the governor to stop it from happening, citing the argument that if he were to put a statue of Jesus in the same place, there would be great opposition. As someone who is a strong servant of the old Gods (Greek), and also who believes in the separation of church and state, I thought I would give my outlook on this controversial matter, as I do not think there is really a comparison between a statue of Ceres and the theocratic dictation that many Christian representatives wish to institute among the American people.

In my religion, Demeter would be the equivalent of Ceres, and indeed, She has many similarities to Ceres in the Roman Polytheistic culture. So should the statue of Ceres return to the capitol dome? Well, for one, I think the representative who attacked the statue is severely misguided. If he put a statue of Jesus up there, we all know it would be with the intent to impose Christianity on the state of Missouri, and he proves this by citing the bible, calling Ceres a "false god," and further stating that Missouri has "no need for any other gods." Clearly, he doesn't think any religion is valid except his own, and has absolutely no respect for any other culture. Therefore, for him to erect a statue of Jesus with his personal intent, would be completely different than a statue of Ceres for the purpose of a simple ideal or symbol. The people placing the statue of Ceres aren't trying to force everyone into Roman Polytheism, because no one in the State Assembly follows that religion in the first place. The statue isn't being erected for religious dictation. 

Therefore, I do not see an issue with the statue of Ceres being atop the capitol dome, because it was likely not erected for reasons of violating the religious rights of anyone, or of imposing a certain religious ideal. There are also no religious laws being made. Quite likely, Missouri placed it there to symbolize abundance, prosperity, and general success for their state, which are the things Ceres represents. She might even stand for a sense of multiculturalism, since agriculture is essential to every human culture in the world. In other words, what matters is intent.

It should also be noted, that Greek and Roman Gods appear in many places in our country. The Lady of Justice, or the blind folded Lady, is Themis, the Greek Goddess of Divine Law. Athena sits on the seal of California, and another depiction of Ceres can be viewed on the seal of New Jersey. The statue of liberty itself is a Roman Goddess, Libertas. The Missouri Capitol building is even a mirror copy of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Ancient Greek and Roman civilization basically built the Western World. There is no denying that the influence is significant on the United States. If Mr. Moon wishes to "get rid of Pagan things," he has a lot more to remove from our nation than just the statue of Ceres. He would have to uproot the entire foundation of the country and every state therein.

You can read the story here. But what do you think? Is the statue of Ceres atop the capitol dome a violation of the first amendment or the separation between church and state? You decide.

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.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

All That Is The Goddess Of Love

On July 4th, we celebrated one of my favorite ancient Greek festivals known as Aphrodisia (the Athenian festival of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and sex). I thought my temple and I had a wonderful ceremony and celebration. If you want to view the rite on video, click here.

Depending on where you went in the ancient Greek world, you might get a different view of Aphrodite. In some places She was viewed as a Goddess more of marital sex, whereas in others, She was the Goddess of love, sex, beauty and pleasure universally, whether it occurred in marriage or not. I view Her as the latter, but also believe She plays an important role in marriages as well, because even between spouses, physical satisfaction is important to happiness and strength in a relationship. My wife and I have never lost our passion for one another, even after being together for 10 years at this point. We are as crazy about each other today as we were then. This has remained a core strength in our union and I thank Aphrodite for that.

But I took time this month after the festival to think about all that Aphrodite encompasses in this world and human life. The ancient Greeks had 6 different kinds of love, which is one reason I think ancient Greek religion is so brilliant, because it understands the reality of the Universe. There is, of course, Eros, who is the God of erotic sexual passion. Literally, He entails the basic carnal instinct of humans, the lust that we all have for one another. It's our natural and basic self, the enjoyment of sex. Second comes Philia, which is the love that binds together strong friendships. This can be both sexual and non-sexual, but normally refers to the general concept of good and close friends. Third is Ludus, playful love. This is the love between youths. Fourth is Agape, meaning universal love. Agape encompasses literally the love of the human race, what you might call humanitarianism. Fifth is Pragma, meaning enduring love between lifelong partners or spouses. My wife and I who have been together for a decade and still have the same passion and dedication for one another, would certainly be a state of Pragma. Last, but not least, there is Philautia, meaning the love of self. On the surface, it might sound arrogant, but only if used in the wrong way. It is important to love yourself in a positive manner. Self-loathing is not a healthy state for anyone. To be secure, confident and happy in your life and the things that are part of it, is good Philautia.

In my view, while there are obviously different Beings and forces of love, Aphrodite is the Supreme Ruler or Leader of them all. She's always been a Goddess particularly close to me in life. I remember way back in the day, around 2005 or 2006 when I first started exploring Greek Polytheism, I would pray to Her for success in attracting a female partner. Often times, I would have better encounters with women afterwards. When I told my mom, she said, "Maybe you should pray to Her more often."

Since I officially became Hellenic, I have looked at Aphrodite in the broader perspective of Her Divinity. As the Goddess of love, I think that means all of it. Whether it be love between best friends, or sexual partners. Whether it be the love of life or that of your fellow human being. I also can't help but imagine how wonderful the world would be if we all adopted the ancient Greek ideals of love in our lives. What if we all sincerely loved ourselves and one another?

In the Goodness of Aphrodite,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Are You Truly Socratic? It Can Change Your Life

Socrates taught to think for yourself. But I have found that many of us, even as we grasp that concept, don't do it in the way Socrates did. The mere fact that several of us are persuaded by the opinions of others, or have a crisis of faith at times, proves this. Last month, as I was going through my routine of scouring the used bookstore in Freeport, Illinois for lost ancient Greek treasures to house and preserve in my private library, I had the privilege of stumbling upon a title called "Socrates' Way" by Ronald Gross. It's not an antique publication by any means, as it was published in 2002, but the writer of it has helped even someone as studious as me. In a nutshell, the book teaches the reader how to think like Socrates in a way that will not only change their life, but help them build confidence in their own beliefs and judgement. While Socrates was always committed to learning something new, he held firm to the things he truly believed or found to be accurate. Such was the case during his trial, when he refused to denounce the validity of his mission, or that he had been sent on it by Apollon.

I think too many of us allow others to determine how we think and feel about something, even things we hold deeply dear to our lives and worldviews. In other words, I think people have a bad habit of letting other people think for them. The Oracle of Delphi told people that it was up to them to make their own personal judgement regarding the advice she gave. Even the world's most renowned Oracle did not try to make people follow a particular line of reasoning, and yet her predictions and teachings were still true to their core. A good example of this was the legendary response she gave to Croesus, who inquired about invading Persia at that time. She stated that if he did, he would destroy a great empire. She was right, but it was his own empire that he destroyed, even though he interpreted it to mean the Persian, which came to be known as the Battle of Pteria. She was correct, he just made the wrong judgement for himself. Another was when she told Socrates that he was the wisest of all men. He did not interpret it to mean himself personally, but rather, that the wisest of men, like Socrates, understand that their wisdom is little to nothing. It was up to the receiver to ultimately decide the meaning of her words for their lives, or even to reject it.

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,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Why Society Hates Boobs, Even Milky Ones

Have you ever noticed that if a beautiful woman displays her gorgeous breasts, she is reviled? In some states, she's even charged with a felony if she does so for sexual purposes. This is probably most widely shown today in our society that often resents women who breast feed in public, although the female breasts and sexual organs are also generally hated just for existing in the first place if they are not kept under tight lock and key. But rest assured, it is legal everywhere in the world for a man to walk around topless. A man running down the beach wouldn't be given a second thought, even if his body was unattractive, but a beautiful woman would be arrested before she took her first step. Why is all of this the case? Why does the female body insight such hatred and resentment, even in the minds of many women themselves who are in government and vote for these oppressive laws?

Well, when you've spent as many years in ancient, non-Abrahamic religion as I have, and have studied history like I do, it's not hard to realize the truth. It doesn't take a genius, because I am certainly not one, yet it also requires more than just a surface explanation. It takes much study and deep thought into the philosophies and mentalities of our present society.

It all has to do with the Abrahamic take over of the world, namely Christianity and Islam. Before that happened, human sexuality was loved and celebrated among the Polytheists, because Polytheism embraces the Natural World and the life therein. The Polytheistic religions literally gave freedom of mind and body, and there was nothing threatening about the sexual powers of either men or women. In the ancient Greek world, the beautiful bodies of both sexes were wonderfully conceived, revered as perfections, and turned into sculptures to be admired. Why should anyone have been offended by any of it? The feeling of threat did not come until the religions of mind and body control started to gain prominence, which we know primarily today as Christianity and Islam, both of which have a deep distrust of women. These religions also rely heavily on human male dominated power alone, giving absolutely none to the female who is viewed as the tempter and destruction of man. It becomes terrifying to think of female power because, one, if you allow the woman to have power, what claim do you have to sole authority, and two, what will she do with that power? For the sake of the entire religion, she must be oppressed and repressed.

One of the central missions of the two new religions that arrived on the world stage, was to control human sexuality, because that makes it easier to control people themselves. When you have your foot on the throat of humanity's basic makeup, you have them completely enslaved. That's why the central things that make you human, are condemned by these religions. Everything becomes a sin, even the mere fact that you were born human. So by making your humanity a sin, you are controlled, and additionally important, you are always dependent on the religion and the religious authority who claims they can save you from it.

At this point, one might ask, what does all this have to do with female breasts and breast feeding being resented? Because the precise reason they are resented is because they are the representation, embodiment and action of female power that the ruling religions have conditioned everyone, even women themselves, to hate and cover up. Her breasts are her power in sexuality, and breast feeding shows how she also has the power to give life itself. Woman cannot be allowed to freely know and express her inherent powers, because if she does, she might just come out from under the oppression that Christianity and Islam need in order to maintain their rule over her. It would also encourage men to come out from under the sexual oppression they have faced. This is the last thing that the present ruling powers want. Once they lose control of the basic humanity that they have kept in check for centuries, they lose control of the world.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Catholic Schoolboy Sees Artemis

The year was 1984 or 1985 when John of Freeport, Illinois saw something that would alter the course of his life. He was not Catholic, or really any particular religion, but attended the local St. Thomas institution because he had no other choice, and found himself on a school retreat to the local Oakland Nature Preserve with his class on this occasion.

John is an adult now with his own house and family in Freeport. He's also a good friend of mine and invited me to his family cookout today where he told me what happened to him as a child during this time. With his permission and approval, this story has been told here, and I thank him greatly for being kind enough to give me such a treasure to share on my blog. However, he also requested that I don't reveal his last name or picture at this time due to his family issues. Things are too stressful right now for them to have to deal with any direct or abundant publicity.  

The night it happened, the hour was around 10 when John realized that, unlike his classmates, he couldn't fall asleep, so he decided to go for a walk in the woods even though it was against the rules at that particular time. Everyone was supposed to be in bed and locked down for the night. John didn't care, and he knew well enough how to work the door lock so he could get in and out, a talent that seems to be natural because, still today, John is a magnificent inventor and engineer. The moon was full and bright enough to where he could see his way around in the dark and he eventually came to rest near a creek, listening to the owls and watching the bats catch insects.

At some point, everything went dead silent, not a sound of anything. As John described, it was something that happens when a predator approaches, and he knew enough about survival to know that you don't run or make sudden movements at that point, so he remained still and observed. The first sound he heard that broke the silence was that of what was clearly a deer approaching from the nearby trail. When it came into view, John saw that it was a large buck, and stranger, it appeared to be ghostly. As John described, he could see the trees behind it. The beast looked at him for a moment. Then a falling branch echoed. The buck looked behind, looked forward again, and dashed off, leaping a great distance over the creek and heading through the woods.

Then on the same trail, came the sound of someone running. "Who the hell is out here at this time of night running through the woods?" John wondered. As the two stampeding feet came into view, he saw that they were attached to a beautiful woman in a white tunic-like gown, with long black hair, a quiver of arrows on her back, and a silver bow in her hand. She caught sight of John, stopped, and said to him, "You're not supposed to be out here." In his childhood attitude, he replied, "Yeah, but neither are you." She smiled, "I figured you'd say that." Then, she asked John where the deer went. He pointed her in the right direction and she was off, never to be seen again.

When the next day came, there was a time when John thought he had simply dreamed up the encounter while asleep in his bed, but then, he explained, he went back to the creek and the trail to see the footprints of the stag exactly where they had been, both on the trail and on the banks of the water. "I knew I didn't dream it," he said. John would eventually come to realize that he had encountered Artemis with his own eyes and talked to Her with his own voice, and She to him. "That was the first and only time I've ever physically encountered a God," he finished. 

What makes John's story even more interesting for me is the fact that I have also seen Artemis in my dreams, and we both describe the same appearance and features, without ever having disclosed them to one another beforehand. We also had the same feelings in Her presence. The fact that there is an immense peace and calmness, and equally that, while admiring her beauty, we never became sexually interested or thought sexual things. Artemis is a Virgin Goddess who doesn't like sex and doesn't want to be sexualized, and both John and I had a revelation together today when we described our encounters, because we realized that it's actually not possible to sexualize Artemis in Her presence. It never occurs to you. Sex simply doesn't exist there. It's not possible to go against a God. A mortal is completely subject to their will. During the entire time that he and I saw and interacted with Her, we admired Her beauty, but nothing sexual ever ran through our heads at all. We knew we were in the presence of a Divine Virgin at that point.

I have known John for many years, and equally know that he has absolutely no reason to lie to me about such a story. He had never even told it publicly until I posted a Facebook thread asking my Pagan friends about childhood encounters with Pagan Gods. He decided he would wait to tell me in person, but he also didn't even ask me to publish the story. I asked him if I could do so. John had no reason to tell me a falsehood, and nothing to gain from it.

I certainly thank him once again for allowing me to talk about such magnificent experiences with Olympos, and hope that Artemis visits him again.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

If You Want A Temple, There's Always A Way

Pagans and Polytheists today can find themselves in a dilemma. However, it's not just our community. Millions of Americans live in apartments or other rental properties with limited space, and no yard of their own if any. In my life, I was fortunate enough to have rented a house at one time with just enough outdoor space for a physical sanctuary and an extra room in the home big enough for an official temple space. Local worshipers actually came to it and, once my religious organization was officially incorporated into the State, I became the founder of Thomasville's first Greek Polytheistic temple, but even then, I couldn't really build anything of significance that was independent of the established property itself because I didn't actually own the land. So if I had wanted to build a small Greek temple in the backyard for more official worship, I wouldn't have been allowed to do it unless I wanted to tear it down when I moved, which I would not have been comfortable doing. 

Fortunately, though, there's more than one way to get what you want out of life. There's always a way to work with what you have at present. If you live in an apartment with an extra room, the obvious course would be to convert it into a temple space. I did this myself once before when I lived in my townhouse in Greensboro, North Carolina. I actually quite enjoyed it as a temple. But one option you may not have thought of might just reside in the downstairs of your apartment building itself. Some places come with a storage unit, some of which I have seen are very nice. I've had them in the past with my own rentals, and they can be spacious, private and secure enough for a temporary temple. I'm not talking about the units you rent from a self-storage company, I am referring to the compartments that come with an apartment and are found in the lower level. I know you have stuff down there, but let's be honest, do you really need that junk? Probably not, so sell it, give it away, or trash it, and convert the space into your temple. You'll enjoy it more than you think. It may indeed be in the basement and partially underground, but in ancient times, caves and inner dwellings were thought to be sacred to the Gods and were used for religious purposes. 

You can also create a temple out of something as simple as a walk-in closet, or a closet with enough space. When I lived in my first apartment in High Point, North Carolina, we had a walk-in closet that would have been perfect. The shelves on either side could have held statues, treasures and relics of the Gods and Heroes, and the far end could have been the home of a magnificent altar. Closed off from the rest of the home by a simple locked door, it would have been a unique space all its own. With that in mind, you might ask, "Where am I going to put my clothes?" You can actually buy a portable closet organizer from somewhere like Walmart for $25. Or you can purchase dressers or an actual wardrobe cabinet. Then you'll have your temple space available.

If you live in an apartment with a balcony, no matter how small, leave the screen door open (the inside door can be shut to close off the area) and build a proper cover over your part of the platform, or you can simply set up an altar on the balcony and use it as an open air temple. The only downside with this is that you may not want to leave things of high value unattended due to the threat of thieves. Even if your balcony is high off the ground, there's still the potential threat of severe weather that could destroy things. Nevertheless, the basic structure is what matters.

Remember, a temple doesn't have to be the grand size of things like the Parthenon. We only think so because we're so used to equating them with the term. But the actual definition of a temple is simply "a place dedicated to the service or worship of Gods." I've seen people make temple spaces out of simple pantries or similar structures. A shrine could also technically fit into this definition, but a temple is significantly larger and more elaborate. A shrine can be as simple as a dresser top with the proper materials and tools, but that's not a temple. A temple allows for more expression, and is a home of the God or Gods that it represents. It is more of a housed area of holiness and even refuge. 

May the Gods give you the creativity to find your bliss in life.
Chris.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Aphrodite's Stronghold Against Christianity

As the 4th Century CE rolled on, the rising Christian State, led by the power of Rome, was stopping at nothing to persecute the Polytheists out of existence. The old religion(s) under the Christian Emperor Theodosius I, had been outlawed, and in 393 CE, he finally banned even the Olympic Games of Greece. Of course, the persecution didn't begin with Theodosius and it wouldn't end with him either. But it would have appeared that the "massive state pressure" concerning the Christian State that Walter Burkert talks about in his book Greek Religion, was finally taking hold in its mission to force everyone into the new religion.

However, according to recent archaeological finds, it appears as if the worship of the Greek Gods, namely Aphrodite, set up a stronghold in Thessaloniki through the 4th Century, a region in the far north of the Greek mainland. By 306 CE, Christianity had already found its way into Thessaloniki, but there were apparently Greeks who refused it until the end. During the excavation of the metro, workers came across thousands of artifacts from the time period, most notably statues of Aphrodite, giving testament to the enduring worship of Her during this highly hostile, anti-Pagan time. Devotion to Her was as strong as the love and sexual desire itself over which She rules and gives to humanity. She was, without a doubt, one of the most hated Goddesses among the Christians, because She represented sexuality and freedom of the body. Christianity knew it could not gain control over the masses without shackling the basic human makeup. Aphrodite was a dire threat to the very core of their objective. 

These finds are not only significant because of their history, but because it seems to show that, despite what the modern Church says, not everyone willingly accepted Christianity. Some people, probably most of the population, resisted it. There would have been absolutely no other reason for Christians to make laws forcing people to give it up. So today, we should also draw an inspired spirit as we look at the remains of undying devotion to the Gods, and carry it on into tomorrow and the days and years to come as we move to restore the traditional identities of humanity. No matter how hard, hopeless or hostile things get, let us never give up our beliefs, our love, our devotion.

To read more details about this recent story, check out the website of my friend and fellow Hellenist, Baring The Aegis.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gods As Universal Consciousness

As a writer and a theologian, I never quite know when something as simple as a general conversation or experience will give me something to write and philosophize about, but today was such a time, and it involved one of my favorite Gods. 

My wife and I were discussing statues and we got onto the topic of Poseidon's trident. Talking about all of its different functions from spearing fish to ruling the sea currents and creating water sources entirely, she asked me, "How would you reconcile the belief in earthquakes with modern science?" In words words, "How do I accept the fact that quakes are caused by plates rubbing together and pair it with the idea that Poseidon causes them by striking the ground with His trident?"

My response was rooted in the belief that the Gods are everywhere and in everything, as the ancients also believed. "Do I believe that there's someone standing there who looks like me, hitting the ground with a trident when there's an earthquake?" I replied. "No, I think that the movement of the plates is the movement and consciousness of Poseidon in the Universe itself." 

To me, the Gods exist, at least in one form, as the consciousness of all that was, is and ever will be. That's why I don't even consider them to only be Gods of Earth, but of every other planet, galaxy, and all other lifeforms out there. For example, I don't consider Artemis to be the Goddess of only Earth's moon, but of every moon. The Gods are all that is, and their consciousness, direction, intelligence and Divine Powers give existence and place to everything; the sun and moon, Earth and sky, water and fire, love and sex, wind and rain, freedom and justice, all things possess their minds, bodies and powers. That's why, for example, it makes perfect sense for people like us to consider the sun a God, while other people may think us primitive or even crazy. When you understand that the Gods are literally the beating hearts and blood flows of the Universe, you begin to see them everywhere and recognize the fact that they are there.

As for Poseidon's trident, that is also part of His embodiment. I don't mean to say that He is a trident, but that the weapon and staff is something through which His power and consciousness flows. So, in a way, yes, He is striking the ground with His trident, but in a way that people may not have yet considered. Perhaps the trident may be, at least as one manifestation, His channel, His key to the realms of the Universe over which He rules. All things have a path or opening which lead to them. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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