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Author Topic: For "Hellenic Pagans"  (Read 9718 times)
Ampelios
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« Reply #15: January 30, 2010, 03:26:24 pm »

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.

I strongly disagree with your use of "the H word." Native Athenians from long ago who worshiped Kybele were not therefore Anatolians merely because they worshiped one goddess from Anatolia.  Smiley
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« Reply #16: January 30, 2010, 03:27:17 pm »

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."

Aaaah.  That does make a lot more sense.  Smiley  Thanks for clarifying!  I probably should have realized that from the context, sorry.
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« Reply #17: January 30, 2010, 03:46:24 pm »

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.

I am one of the people who understands that Eclectic does not necessarily mean fluffy. Personally, I know someone.. very dear to me.. who has called herself Eclectic but she is not even close to fluffy. Her path has an actual meaning and is not like a bowl of many kinds of cheeses, sauces, chocolates, and fruits mixed together. When I was in high school one of my teachers, who was like a friend to me, identified as an Eclectic Pagan. His path also did not have the fluff signature, rather it had actual meaning. I feel that just as some Eclectics are fluffy, there are also probably Hellenic folk who can be fluffy.

Within my first three weeks of identifying as a Hellenic Reconstructionist I realized that trying to recreate Athenian festivals is impossible. Not only would many people, statues, and other things be needed, but also the meaning of the festivals are needed. I have no connection, whatsoever, to ancient Athens. So how could I understand what the festivals meant to the people? This is why I do not observe the Athenian calendar and do not pretend to observe any Hellenic "festivals." I observe what I call (modern) Hellenic feasts to deities and consecrated days on the calendar of my land.
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Ampelios
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« Reply #18: January 30, 2010, 03:49:34 pm »

Aaaah.  That does make a lot more sense.  Smiley  Thanks for clarifying!  I probably should have realized that from the context, sorry.

It's okay, we are only human. =)
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Arienwen
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« Reply #19: August 03, 2010, 07:05:49 pm »

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.

I have been feeling very overwhelmed starting out on this path, and this just helped me understand it a little bit.   I had been reading a lot on here about people who were kind of looking down their noses at people who weren't strictly following the ancient ways, and I became very nervous to even post anything in case I was going to be looked at as a ditz, as someone who wasn't serious about her path.   A lot of what you said there made me feel more comfortable with my choices.  I asked for a sign, and I think I just got my answer.
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« Reply #20: September 16, 2010, 02:36:21 am »

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."
Nor I; it's kind of ridiculous, for starters, and it tends to come with more than a hint of pejorative implications when it's anything but a self-applied term.  It's not my business telling other pagans/polytheists what their religion is.

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.
Agreed.  The reconstructionist method of practise is not a set of hard-and-fast rules, but a method of building from educated guesses (or copying other people's guesswork :lol: ), there is a *lot* of room for "getting it wrong", since despite having a lot of information survived, there are still a lot of gaps -- and a lot of things now that simply didn't exist, or were generally non-issues then.  It's my personal opinion that religious reconstruction should at some point be asked "if these traditions survived unbroken to the modern day, how would they look now?"

It's also my personal opinion that Hinduism is a great model for polytheistic reconstruction:  There's not just one Hinduism, there are a handful of main branches and dozens of little cults and mysteries and what-not.  When we look at the ancient Hellenic religion, we don't see a monolith with a few scattered cults, we see something more like how Hinduism today looks, at least in structure.  This is how polytheism should look, that just seems to be how it naturally forms.


I have been feeling very overwhelmed starting out on this path, and this just helped me understand it a little bit.   I had been reading a lot on here about people who were kind of looking down their noses at people who weren't strictly following the ancient ways, and I became very nervous to even post anything in case I was going to be looked at as a ditz, as someone who wasn't serious about her path.   A lot of what you said there made me feel more comfortable with my choices.  I asked for a sign, and I think I just got my answer.
Yay!  One of us! One of us! :-)  See, the thing to remember is *nobody* alive today can claim they are strictly following the ancient ways.  Who here can sacrifice an annual hekatomb to Apollon?  My practises are on the "woo side" of recon, in my own experiences, the Theoi have no problem letting it be known if you're truly "doin it wrong"; books are a great start, but at some point, you're probably going to start practice, and you may realise that you have to make adaptations here and there.  Don't sweat it when you do, honest, you'll get along fine.

There's a (honestly) very small (but also very loud) contingent of "True Hellenic Recons(tm)" I don't get along with, and the funny thing is, they never had any problem with anything that I've ever said regarding a recon method or the Hellenic religion until I decided their "friendship" was too conditional to be worth my time.  These are the same people who like to belittle newbies for "doin it wrong" and scare people into thinking that not doing everything they say is some great hubris.  The reality is that you don't need any mortal approval to practise the Hellenic religion; mortals can have opinions on what you do and call yourself, but that's it.  If you know you're practising the best way you know how, then you'll do fine. :-)
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« Reply #21: June 28, 2011, 12:58:59 pm »


 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.

Since the actual living traditions are long gone. The evidence behind this we can find in the ancient Greek philosophy, at Heracleitos who compared every existing thing to a flowing river maintaining that nothing can stay where it was. Plato adopted Heracleitos' philosophy in his dialogue Cratylos. In this dialogue Socrates quotes Heracleitos saying that no one can step into the same river twice. The modern term of this evidence is panta rhei (everything flows).

Comparing the ancient civilisation, the following ones and our modern to the flowing river, it is impossible to reconstruct it by 100%. As Randall mentioned, Hellenism had been a state religion. And that was it also in the times of Julian and Saloustios.
Furthermore, the ancient Greeks had not been totally orthoprax, because they adopted the myth and cult of Attis and Kybele that was definitely not of Greek origin. They took it from the Phrygians, an indo-european tribe in Asia Minor. Later the Romans adopted the myth and cult. Both had happended hundreds of years before Julian and Saloustios discussed the subject. Julian called Kybele "The Mother of the Gods" and he compared Attis to Helios-Apollon. And his main religious consultant Saloustios agreed. You may find the latter in his treatise "On the Gods and the Cosmos".

Thus reconstructionalism you may also find in those days, by the same time realizing that a precise orthopraxy was not on the agenda. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans hundreds of years before Julian had adopted a foreign cult and worshiped to the Great Mother.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 01:06:42 pm by Haganrix » Logged

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« Reply #22: June 29, 2011, 10:17:49 am »

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.)


That's it, the state cult should have been much more formal than the private piety. Yet all the information about private piety concerning Hellenism I have was from Julians letters.

Among the Asatruans, private piety in old Norse Religion is a very controversial subject. About that I read the essay of Ake Stöm, Private Piety in Nordic Heathenism, pages 374 - 381, in: Tore Ahlbäck (ed.), Old Norse and Finnish Religions and Cultic Place Names, Abo and Stockholm 1990. Ström analysed that private religion was not as important as it is in the modern age but that it also existed, especially to achieve the protection of the Gods against the demons.
There are only a few texts of private northern worship but they should have been sufficient for Ströms evidence.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 10:30:34 am by Haganrix » Logged

The Spirit views all at once whereas the speech puts it into the order (Saloustios, On the Gods and the Cosmos, IV 9).

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