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« Topic Start: January 29, 2010, 05:06:16 pm »

In Timothy Jay Alexander's book A Beginner's Guide to Hellenismos it is written that a Hellenic Pagan is any modern worshiper of the Theoi and the label itself does not imply anything about their beliefs or practices. The label itself may imply that the individual is an "eclectic neopagan."

For those of you who call yourselves "Hellenic Pagans," what exactly does that mean to you?

For me it means that I am somewhere on the spectrum in between Reconstructionist and Neopagan. I look to the past to find what I need to construct my religion and at the same time I make my religion mean something to me and it fits my location at a time already past the year 2000. My definition is kind of spontaneous and you may be able to tell that I did not spend a long time trying to word it nicely and provide more insight.
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« Reply #1: January 29, 2010, 05:11:41 pm »

For me it means that I am somewhere on the spectrum in between Reconstructionist and Neopagan. I look to the past to find what I need to construct my religion and at the same time I make my religion mean something to me and it fits my location at a time already past the year 2000. My definition is kind of spontaneous and you may be able to tell that I did not spend a long time trying to word it nicely and provide more insight.

My answer is exactly what you posted here.  I recently changed my religious discripter in my profile to "Hellenic-Focused" because I am feeling a slight pull from other pantheons (or I'm just now actively acknowledging said pull).
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« Reply #2: January 29, 2010, 05:24:47 pm »

For me it means that I am somewhere on the spectrum in between Reconstructionist and Neopagan. I look to the past to find what I need to construct my religion and at the same time I make my religion mean something to me and it fits my location at a time already past the year 2000. My definition is kind of spontaneous and you may be able to tell that I did not spend a long time trying to word it nicely and provide more insight.

I'm closer to the Recon end than the Neopagan end, but yes, that pretty much matches my position.
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« Reply #3: January 29, 2010, 11:02:40 pm »

In Timothy Jay Alexander's book A Beginner's Guide to Hellenismos it is written that a Hellenic Pagan is any modern worshiper of the Theoi and the label itself does not imply anything about their beliefs or practices. The label itself may imply that the individual is an "eclectic neopagan."

The author of that book is a rather... controversial figure in the Hellenic community.

It doesn't really make sense for a person to be both "Hellenic" and "eclectic", does it? There is a difference between a neopagan, who is mostly influenced by mainstream Wicca, and a reconstructionist, who takes a more traditional attitude towards practicing the religion of the ancient culture of a pantheon. I don't agree with labeling everyone who isn't a strict recon as an "eclectic neopagan."

I think people get too caught up in the idea of "reconstructionism", as if it's some strict and limiting code to follow, and if you are not practicing exactly how the ancients did, then you are a heretic. Let's get real, there is no way to fully reconstruct these religions as they were in ancient times, as they were cultural traditions shared by the entire community. Certain things can be adapted, but practice is going to take a different form in the modern world than it had in the ancient world. Little is known about private home worship by the common people in any ancient culture, so "recons" use information about civic festivals and temple worship to guide their modern private worship (which is kind of strange, if you think about it, as that kind of worship would probably have been a lot more formal than ancient domestic worship, not to mention out of context in the lives of most ordinary people.) I'm not saying there is anything wrong with a reconstructionist method, but it has to be acknowledged that no one can practice an ancient religion 100% accurately, since the actual living traditions are long gone.

I consider a person to be authentically Hellenic if they worship the gods through the concept of reciprocity (expressed through offerings), honour Hestia with every sacrifice, and live by the major Greek virtues such as piety and moderation. It's really not that complicated.
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« Reply #4: January 29, 2010, 11:05:02 pm »

Ugh... I replied to my own post by accident when I meant to modify the previous one. I'm a ditz. If an admin could delete this one, that would be great Tongue
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« Reply #5: January 29, 2010, 11:15:23 pm »


Just a quick question, because I'm curious and am still learning about Hellenismos/Hellenic Recon/related things:

Does "Hellenic" refer to a tradition that leans more towards recon/historical sources, or can it be used to describe the main inspiration for your religious path? I consider myself an eclectic Pagan (not Wiccan - I've pretty much purged the Wiccan influences from my system) with Hellenic leanings, as I've started researching Hellenic Recon and related paths, and my three patrons are Theoi. I don't claim to be solely Hellenic, or be particularly drawn towards a purely reconstructionist approach to religion, but I do use it as a descriptor when defining my path in greater detail.
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« Reply #6: January 29, 2010, 11:38:49 pm »

Does "Hellenic" refer to a tradition that leans more towards recon/historical sources, or can it be used to describe the main inspiration for your religious path?

I consider it to refer more to the Greek culture than any particular methodology, reconstructionist or otherwise.
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« Reply #7: January 30, 2010, 12:28:02 am »

It doesn't really make sense for a person to be both "Hellenic" and "eclectic", does it? There is a difference between a neopagan, who is mostly influenced by mainstream Wicca, and a reconstructionist, who takes a more traditional attitude towards practicing the religion of the ancient culture of a pantheon. I don't agree with labeling everyone who isn't a strict recon as an "eclectic neopagan."

It does not make sense that a person is Hellenic and Eclectic at the same time, you are correct. I also disagree with labeling everyone who isn't a strict or perfect Reconstructionist an Eclectic Neopagan or even a well known species of bunny.

I think people get too caught up in the idea of "reconstructionism", as if it's some strict and limiting code to follow, and if you are not practicing exactly how the ancients did, then you are a heretic. Let's get real, there is no way to fully reconstruct these religions as they were in ancient times, as they were cultural traditions shared by the entire community. Certain things can be adapted, but practice is going to take a different form in the modern world than it had in the ancient world. Little is known about private home worship by the common people in any ancient culture, so "recons" use information about civic festivals and temple worship to guide their modern private worship (which is kind of strange, if you think about it, as that kind of worship would probably have been a lot more formal than ancient domestic worship, not to mention out of context in the lives of most ordinary people.) I'm not saying there is anything wrong with a reconstructionist method, but it has to be acknowledged that no one can practice an ancient religion 100% accurately, since the actual living traditions are long gone.

In the section titled The House And The Family of Martin Persson Nilsson's book Greek Popular Religion, it is written that the hearth was located in the center of the home. People cooked their meals over the hearth flame and it warmed their homes on cold days. Like than many other things such as the Panathenaia festival, I feel that this particular household practice is one of the many things that most if not all practitioners can "reconstruct." A person can be inspired to put their microwave in the living room, plug it up, and ask Hestia to accept it as a seat of some kind. Then they can cook their TV dinner in it, put a small piece of the meal near the microwave as an offering to Hestia, and then eat the rest. But to me it will always be that this modern practice is not anything like what an Athenian did long ago. Hestia is not a microwave, She is of the hearth and its flame. Likewise some people use a candle flame to symbolize Her and they may keep it in their living room, but this also is nothing like ancient Athens. My opinion is that if anyone wants to seriously "reconstruct" the hearth aspect of household religion then they need to get real and actually place a hearth (no imitations or symbolic items, I'm talking about the real thing) in their living room. Likewise if people want to reconstruct the Panathenaia festival then they need to get real and go to Athens, set up a statue of Athena, and do exactly what the Athenians did as a community back then. This is why I do not observe anything called Panathenaia.

I consider a person to be authentically Hellenic if they worship the gods through the concept of reciprocity (expressed through offerings), honour Hestia with every sacrifice, and live by the major Greek virtues such as piety and moderation. It's really not that complicated.

Do we know if all Greek folk (Athenians, Arkadians, and even the people in Alexandria) from long ago honored Hestia with every sacrifice?
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« Reply #8: January 30, 2010, 06:13:22 am »

It doesn't really make sense for a person to be both "Hellenic" and "eclectic", does it?

That probably depends on how you're using the word "Hellenic".  Obviously it implies some connection to Greece, and I think if my religious practice didn't have some ties to historical Greek religious ties I'd personally find another descriptor to use.  That isn't to say someone else might not simply use it to indicate that they're following/working with/etc. the Greek gods without meaning to say anything about the specific practices they're using.
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« Reply #9: January 30, 2010, 06:33:00 am »

My opinion is that if anyone wants to seriously "reconstruct" the hearth aspect of household religion then they need to get real and actually place a hearth (no imitations or symbolic items, I'm talking about the real thing) in their living room.

It goes beyond that, though.  We had the option of putting a fireplace in our living room when we were building our house.  That would, technically, have put a hearth in the living room (which happens to be at the center of the house, though I'd note that's not the case in all floor plans).  If we'd done that, though, it would not have served the same purpose that a hearth in ancient Greece did.  We don't cook on hearths anymore.  The living room and the kitchen are separate rooms with separate functions, and the way most modern Western living spaces (houses or otherwise) are set up, it really doesn't make sense to try to merge them back again.  I'd go so far as to say that I don't think it makes sense even to put the microwave in the living room--that feels a little too "trying to be an ancient culture" and not enough "adapting for our life now", to me.

Besides, if I put the microwave in the living room I'd never get my two-year-old to stop playing with it.  (In the kitchen I can keep it out of her reach.)  Wink

I use the word "reconstructionist" to describe myself, for the moment, although I always feel a little iffy about that term, like I haven't studied hard enough to earn it or something.  But...  I wish I could one of these days remember who I saw make this comparison; I apologize to whoever-it-is for not being able to properly attribute their idea.  The idea:  Reconstructionism isn't trying to rebuild a fallen temple exactly the way it was before it was knocked down.  It's using the foundations and other bits as construction material, and trying to build "in the style of", but build something that is practical for now.  I'm doing a poor job of conveying this (too early, maybe), but hopefully I'm getting the idea across.  This is what reconstructionism is to me.  Reconstructing, not recreating.
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« Reply #10: January 30, 2010, 07:12:29 am »

That probably depends on how you're using the word "Hellenic".  Obviously it implies some connection to Greece, and I think if my religious practice didn't have some ties to historical Greek religious ties I'd personally find another descriptor to use.  That isn't to say someone else might not simply use it to indicate that they're following/working with/etc. the Greek gods without meaning to say anything about the specific practices they're using.

I'd guess that I am Eclectic, a Neopagan and a Hellenic-I work with/worship a couple of Greek Deities, but I also work with others from different Pantheons and I am primarily a Witch, which for me involves working with Mother Nature and Father Universe.
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« Reply #11: January 30, 2010, 09:44:29 am »

But...  I wish I could one of these days remember who I saw make this comparison; I apologize to whoever-it-is for not being able to properly attribute their idea.  The idea:  Reconstructionism isn't trying to rebuild a fallen temple exactly the way it was before it was knocked down.  It's using the foundations and other bits as construction material, and trying to build "in the style of", but build something that is practical for now.
I believe that would have been Darkhawk; she's said something quite similar to that several times in the Kemetic SIG.

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« Reply #12: January 30, 2010, 09:46:56 am »

It does not make sense that a person is Hellenic and Eclectic at the same time, you are correct. I also disagree with labeling everyone who isn't a strict or perfect Reconstructionist an Eclectic Neopagan or even a well known species of bunny.

That's a good thing, IMO, if you plan on posting on TC. There are some very serious, very well read Pagans here who lean heavily Hellenic, but aren't Recon and would probably hand you your ass if you called them a fluff bunny. I was around 10 years ago and helped start Hellenion and was on TC at the same time. I know really well what the reactions can be when Recons and general Pagans meet and interact for the first time (before then, the vast majority of Recons kept to themselves...it was a rude awakening when they came to TC and found not everyone here who used the title "eclectic" was a fluff. The road traveled both ways, of course.)

One thing that you may find helpful here is that most of us who are Recon, lean Recon or were Recon (that would be me, really), view Reconstructionism more as a method than as an end unto itself. Most of us came to a point where we realized that recreating a city-state sponsored religion in modern America is virtually impossible. For those who think they can do it, all I can say is good luck, and be sure you read the First Amendment of our Constitution...it's going to impact you greatly. I could go on with this, but I suspect you catch my drift.
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« Reply #13: January 30, 2010, 10:30:43 am »

I believe that would have been Darkhawk; she's said something quite similar to that several times in the Kemetic SIG.

That sounds right.  Thanks!
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« Reply #14: January 30, 2010, 03:21:41 pm »

I'd go so far as to say that I don't think it makes sense even to put the microwave in the living room--that feels a little too "trying to be an ancient culture" and not enough "adapting for our life now", to me.
Besides, if I put the microwave in the living room I'd never get my two-year-old to stop playing with it.  (In the kitchen I can keep it out of her reach.)  Wink

Actually, what I meant to type in my previous post was: Like than many other things such as the Panathenaia festival, I feel that this particular household practice is not one of the many things that most if not all practitioners can "reconstruct." And then the thing about a microwave was basically me stating that I feel such an idea is ridiculous and does not come close to being something of an ancient Hellenic cultural + religious practice. Some people should understand that a candle, picture of a fire, etc. is not a hearth and is nothing like ancient Hellas. I came to understand that after a few days of a practice where I light a candle, pray to Hestia, and hold my plate of food over it for a few seconds followed by giving a small piece of food as an offering to Hestia before eating.
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