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Author Topic: Hellenic Polytheism  (Read 5693 times)
cottoncandyhorror
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« Topic Start: March 09, 2011, 10:28:50 pm »

I've grown quiet curious about this path and was wondering if anyone could tell me more about the religion itself, I'm aware they worship the 12 Olympian Gods, but I was merely wondering what their core beliefs were such as their ethics/virtues, the afterlife, what exactly are their practices and holidays since I'm aware that they do not celebrate the wheel of the year. Also I was wondering if anyone had any legit nonfluffy reference to study on (I'm aware theoi.com was a good help)

Thank You,

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« Reply #1: March 09, 2011, 10:50:52 pm »

I've grown quiet curious about this path and was wondering if anyone could tell me more about the religion itself, I'm aware they worship the 12 Olympian Gods, but I was merely wondering what their core beliefs were such as their ethics/virtues, the afterlife, what exactly are their practices and holidays since I'm aware that they do not celebrate the wheel of the year. Also I was wondering if anyone had any legit nonfluffy reference to study on (I'm aware theoi.com was a good help)

Our page on Hellenic Reconstructionism is a good place to start along with our Hellenismos FAQ.  Also, you may also would find the posts in Hellenic Polytheism very informative as well.

(As a side note:  Could you please not put your entire message in italics.  Many of our members have poor eyesight and the italics are hard to read at times.  Thanks.)
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« Reply #2: March 10, 2011, 10:14:43 am »

Our page on Hellenic Reconstructionism is a good place to start along with our Hellenismos FAQ.  Also, you may also would find the posts in Hellenic Polytheism very informative as well.

(As a side note:  Could you please not put your entire message in italics.  Many of our members have poor eyesight and the italics are hard to read at times.  Thanks.)

Thank you =] & I do apologize ^^
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« Reply #3: March 10, 2011, 11:42:56 am »

I've grown quiet curious about this path and was wondering if anyone could tell me more about the religion itself, I'm aware they worship the 12 Olympian Gods, but I was merely wondering what their core beliefs were such as their ethics/virtues, the afterlife, what exactly are their practices and holidays since I'm aware that they do not celebrate the wheel of the year. Also I was wondering if anyone had any legit nonfluffy reference to study on (I'm aware theoi.com was a good help)

Thank You,

cottoncandyhorror


That's tough to answer because it isn't necessarily a uniform tradition. There was no one concept of the afterlife in ancient Greece, and there were many systems of ethics depending on which "school" a person belonged to. I like the Delphic maxims, but remember they are guidelines, not commandments: http://www.flyallnight.com/khaire/DelphicMaxims/maxims.htm

Generally speaking, the afterlife was ruled by Hades and Persephone in the Underworld, which was composed of many levels. The especially virtuous and heroic went to the Elysian Fields, the nasty people went to Tartarus, while the general population just stayed somewhere in the middle. Conceptions of the afterlife were bleak, a person basically just became a a shade-like spirit wandering around the dark underworld for eternity. Still, there were no developed or uniform afterlife beliefs like there were in Egypt, for example. Certain mystery cults promised a blessed afterlife or reincarnation, like those of Demeter, Dionysus and Isis, and later philosophical schools had different ideas, as well.

Most Hellenic polytheists follow an ancient calendar, like the Athenian festival calendar. It's lunar, so the new moon brings a new month, and each day of the first week or so is sacred to one or more deities. There are also festivals throughout the year dedicated to certain deities. Some are seasonal, some are specific to the polis. You don't need to practice all of them, just figure out which ones make sense in the context of your life.

In terms of practice, it mostly consists of giving offerings to the gods on certain days. As the goddess of the sacred flame, Hestia is central to practice, as offerings are burned in her flame, and when a person honours a deity, the first sacrifice is given to Hestia. You can burn things like incense or barley grains, it doesn't need to be too elaborate. Libations are also a good way to honour a deity. Heavenly gods are honoured by sponde libations, in which the liquid is poured out for the god, and then the person offering drinks some. Underworld gods and the dead are given choe libations, in which all of the liquid is poured out. This is based on the concept of reciprocity, which is central to Greek culture. Give to the gods, and they will give to you.

Some sites you  might want to check out are:
http://www.labrys.gr/index.php?l=householdworship
http://www.hellenion.org/index.html
http://kyrene.4t.com/index.html
http://www.sponde.us/
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« Reply #4: March 10, 2011, 03:54:07 pm »

I've grown quiet curious about this path and was wondering if anyone could tell me more about the religion itself, I'm aware they worship the 12 Olympian Gods, but I was merely wondering what their core beliefs were such as their ethics/virtues, the afterlife, what exactly are their practices and holidays since I'm aware that they do not celebrate the wheel of the year. Also I was wondering if anyone had any legit nonfluffy reference to study on (I'm aware theoi.com was a good help)


Basically, all the links posted so far are good. I'd recommend checking out some Hellenismos/Hellenism-specific forums, too, such as hellenismos.us and http://forum.hellenistai.com/index.php, just to see what people are talking about, get a sense of what people generally do/believe in. I'd also recommend reading the Odyssey and the Iliad if you haven't yet (I know a lot of people, in the U.S. at least, read them in school), as well as the Homeric and Orphic Hymns...there are a lot of online resources for these documents, and they are important mythological bases for Hellenic religion...I know whenever I do rituals/offerings I use the Homeric and Orphic Hymns. Also, theoi.com is a great resource for learning about all the Hellenic Gods and Goddesses...we generally worship the Olympians, as well as the various Underworld Deities (Hades, Persephone, Hekate, etc) and, depending on the tradition/person, many of the other minor Gods and the Titans.

Hellenic Polytheism varies from strict reconstructionism to eclectic followers who only use some aspects of it in their more personalized paths...it really varies by person. I consider myself a "Modern Hellenic Pagan," bordering on reconstructionism, which basically means I'm trying to bring back the old practices/beliefs, accurately and based on research, but in a way that fits my position as a person of modernity. The first thing to do if you think you might be interested in this religion is decide whether or not you feel a pull to the Hellenic Gods/a Hellenic God, then do some research and read up on the myths/general beliefs, and then try out different things, and see what fits/sticks with you. A lot of it is trial and error.

As for "core beliefs"/ethics and virtues, I tend to lean toward the Maxims of Delphi and the 8 Pillars of Greek Wisdom. You can find info on these things through books (check out Amazon.com, or http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Eight-Pillars-of-Greek-Wisdom/Stephen-Bertman/e/9780760788905) and online resources, such as http://duttond.topcities.com/Hellenotamiai/maxims.html. The calendar I use for festivals/holidays is an Athenian-based one used by http://www.hellenion.org/index.html.

It's true that, in general, Hellenic Polytheists, especially reconstructionists, do not celebrate The Wheel of the Year, but some of us do...I do mostly because I have a couple of Pagan friends who do, and it's really nice to have some holidays we can all celebrate together. I also find it enjoyable to recognize the seasons that way, as well.
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"...Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
Walt Whitman


General spiritual blog: http://greetingnewlight.wordpress.com/

ADF Dedicant blog: http://walkingthehighroad.wordpress.com/
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« Reply #5: March 10, 2011, 08:13:47 pm »

That's tough to answer because it isn't necessarily a uniform tradition. There was no one concept of the afterlife in ancient Greece, and there were many systems of ethics depending on which "school" a person belonged to. I like the Delphic maxims, but remember they are guidelines, not commandments: http://www.flyallnight.com/khaire/DelphicMaxims/maxims.htm

Generally speaking, the afterlife was ruled by Hades and Persephone in the Underworld, which was composed of many levels. The especially virtuous and heroic went to the Elysian Fields, the nasty people went to Tartarus, while the general population just stayed somewhere in the middle. Conceptions of the afterlife were bleak, a person basically just became a a shade-like spirit wandering around the dark underworld for eternity. Still, there were no developed or uniform afterlife beliefs like there were in Egypt, for example. Certain mystery cults promised a blessed afterlife or reincarnation, like those of Demeter, Dionysus and Isis, and later philosophical schools had different ideas, as well.

Most Hellenic polytheists follow an ancient calendar, like the Athenian festival calendar. It's lunar, so the new moon brings a new month, and each day of the first week or so is sacred to one or more deities. There are also festivals throughout the year dedicated to certain deities. Some are seasonal, some are specific to the polis. You don't need to practice all of them, just figure out which ones make sense in the context of your life.

In terms of practice, it mostly consists of giving offerings to the gods on certain days. As the goddess of the sacred flame, Hestia is central to practice, as offerings are burned in her flame, and when a person honours a deity, the first sacrifice is given to Hestia. You can burn things like incense or barley grains, it doesn't need to be too elaborate. Libations are also a good way to honour a deity. Heavenly gods are honoured by sponde libations, in which the liquid is poured out for the god, and then the person offering drinks some. Underworld gods and the dead are given choe libations, in which all of the liquid is poured out. This is based on the concept of reciprocity, which is central to Greek culture. Give to the gods, and they will give to you.

Some sites you  might want to check out are:
http://www.labrys.gr/index.php?l=householdworship
http://www.hellenion.org/index.html
http://kyrene.4t.com/index.html
http://www.sponde.us/




Basically, all the links posted so far are good. I'd recommend checking out some Hellenismos/Hellenism-specific forums, too, such as hellenismos.us and http://forum.hellenistai.com/index.php, just to see what people are talking about, get a sense of what people generally do/believe in. I'd also recommend reading the Odyssey and the Iliad if you haven't yet (I know a lot of people, in the U.S. at least, read them in school), as well as the Homeric and Orphic Hymns...there are a lot of online resources for these documents, and they are important mythological bases for Hellenic religion...I know whenever I do rituals/offerings I use the Homeric and Orphic Hymns. Also, theoi.com is a great resource for learning about all the Hellenic Gods and Goddesses...we generally worship the Olympians, as well as the various Underworld Deities (Hades, Persephone, Hekate, etc) and, depending on the tradition/person, many of the other minor Gods and the Titans.

Hellenic Polytheism varies from strict reconstructionism to eclectic followers who only use some aspects of it in their more personalized paths...it really varies by person. I consider myself a "Modern Hellenic Pagan," bordering on reconstructionism, which basically means I'm trying to bring back the old practices/beliefs, accurately and based on research, but in a way that fits my position as a person of modernity. The first thing to do if you think you might be interested in this religion is decide whether or not you feel a pull to the Hellenic Gods/a Hellenic God, then do some research and read up on the myths/general beliefs, and then try out different things, and see what fits/sticks with you. A lot of it is trial and error.

As for "core beliefs"/ethics and virtues, I tend to lean toward the Maxims of Delphi and the 8 Pillars of Greek Wisdom. You can find info on these things through books (check out Amazon.com, or http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Eight-Pillars-of-Greek-Wisdom/Stephen-Bertman/e/9780760788905) and online resources, such as http://duttond.topcities.com/Hellenotamiai/maxims.html. The calendar I use for festivals/holidays is an Athenian-based one used by http://www.hellenion.org/index.html.

It's true that, in general, Hellenic Polytheists, especially reconstructionists, do not celebrate The Wheel of the Year, but some of us do...I do mostly because I have a couple of Pagan friends who do, and it's really nice to have some holidays we can all celebrate together. I also find it enjoyable to recognize the seasons that way, as well.



Thank You =] & agreed so far it's been a learning process, trying to figure out where my beliefs fits besides being drawn to the Greek Pantheon.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 08:28:08 pm by cottoncandyhorror » Logged
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« Reply #6: March 10, 2011, 08:45:13 pm »


Basically, all the links posted so far are good. I'd recommend checking out some Hellenismos/Hellenism-specific forums, too, such as hellenismos.us and http://forum.hellenistai.com/index.php, just to see what people are talking about, get a sense of what people generally do/believe in. I'd also recommend reading the Odyssey and the Iliad if you haven't yet (I know a lot of people, in the U.S. at least, read them in school), as well as the Homeric and Orphic Hymns...there are a lot of online resources for these documents, and they are important mythological bases for Hellenic religion...I know whenever I do rituals/offerings I use the Homeric and Orphic Hymns. Also, theoi.com is a great resource for learning about all the Hellenic Gods and Goddesses...we generally worship the Olympians, as well as the various Underworld Deities (Hades, Persephone, Hekate, etc) and, depending on the tradition/person, many of the other minor Gods and the Titans.

I like the Hellenistai forum, although I'm not such a big fan of Hellenismos.us. I used to be a member, but haven't gone back since I had enough of the spread of misinformation and generally nasty attitudes of the owner and his followers towards those they disagree with.

I agree with you about The Iliad, Odyssey and the Homeric and Orphic Hymns. It's very important to familiarize oneself with the traditional literature to get a feel for the way the ancients conceptualized the world and the gods.
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« Reply #7: March 11, 2011, 12:34:31 pm »

I like the Hellenistai forum, although I'm not such a big fan of Hellenismos.us. I used to be a member, but haven't gone back since I had enough of the spread of misinformation and generally nasty attitudes of the owner and his followers towards those they disagree with.

I agree with you about The Iliad, Odyssey and the Homeric and Orphic Hymns. It's very important to familiarize oneself with the traditional literature to get a feel for the way the ancients conceptualized the world and the gods.

I completely agree that, in general, Hellenistai is better than Hellenismos.us...I just generally check out both sometimes to see what's being said. I barely ever post on either myself (I really find this particular pagan forum - TC - to be the best, and most friendly...I tend to be internet-shy ^_^;Wink, I just like to see what kinds of topics come up...when I come across nastiness or unhelpful information anywhere, I just sort of leave it behind.
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"...Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
Walt Whitman


General spiritual blog: http://greetingnewlight.wordpress.com/

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« Reply #8: March 11, 2011, 12:46:10 pm »

I completely agree that, in general, Hellenistai is better than Hellenismos.us...I just generally check out both sometimes to see what's being said. I barely ever post on either myself (I really find this particular pagan forum - TC - to be the best, and most friendly...I tend to be internet-shy ^_^;Wink, I just like to see what kinds of topics come up...when I come across nastiness or unhelpful information anywhere, I just sort of leave it behind.

*nods*

Sometimes those forums have nice topics, but I really do prefer the diversity of TC to any forum that focuses on one particular religion.
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« Reply #9: March 11, 2011, 03:07:21 pm »

*nods*

Sometimes those forums have nice topics, but I really do prefer the diversity of TC to any forum that focuses on one particular religion.

Absolutely. The people here, the diversity, and the vast amount of topics just totally outweighs any of the other forums I've found. :)
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"...Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
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General spiritual blog: http://greetingnewlight.wordpress.com/

ADF Dedicant blog: http://walkingthehighroad.wordpress.com/
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« Reply #10: March 11, 2011, 04:07:09 pm »

I like the Hellenistai forum, although I'm not such a big fan of Hellenismos.us. I used to be a member, but haven't gone back since I had enough of the spread of misinformation and generally nasty attitudes of the owner and his followers towards those they disagree with.

I agree with you about The Iliad, Odyssey and the Homeric and Orphic Hymns. It's very important to familiarize oneself with the traditional literature to get a feel for the way the ancients conceptualized the world and the gods.

For references I was curious to know if as a Hellenic Pagan if you were suppose to learn about philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato(basically are they are  apart of or influnces a Hellenic's beliefs).




  
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« Reply #11: March 11, 2011, 05:13:50 pm »

For references I was curious to know if as a Hellenic Pagan if you were suppose to learn about philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato(basically are they are  apart of or influnces a Hellenic's beliefs).

Many do, and find it enhances their spiritual practice, but I wouldn't say it's a requirement. Those philosophers lived at the very end of the Classical Period, so they are from a rather late stage of Greek history, and their work didn't really spread until the Hellenistic Period. Plato's views, in particular, did not represent those of the general population at all, so it's not necessary to be familiar with his ideas to practice traditional Greek polytheism. It's not required to study philosophy, but many people do find it rewarding.
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« Reply #12: March 11, 2011, 06:23:37 pm »

Many do, and find it enhances their spiritual practice, but I wouldn't say it's a requirement. Those philosophers lived at the very end of the Classical Period, so they are from a rather late stage of Greek history, and their work didn't really spread until the Hellenistic Period. Plato's views, in particular, did not represent those of the general population at all, so it's not necessary to be familiar with his ideas to practice traditional Greek polytheism. It's not required to study philosophy, but many people do find it rewarding.

I agree with this - it's certainly worth looking into, since those people played important roles in their communities, and in history. However, their views weren't necessarily everyone's views - much like philosophers/writers of the modern age - they are simply just another aspect of the culture that is worth learning about. In general, the ancient Greeks highly valued education/knowledge, so I mostly study them/read about them in honor of that concept...I wouldn't say I necessarily use them to enhance my personal religion/practice...I just think it's important to read/learn about such things in general.
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"...Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
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General spiritual blog: http://greetingnewlight.wordpress.com/

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« Reply #13: March 12, 2011, 07:31:29 am »

Many do, and find it enhances their spiritual practice, but I wouldn't say it's a requirement.

(Not replying to you here so much as your post is a convenient place to hang my own reply.)

I'd also point out that there are no "requirements" as such, nothing you're "supposed to" do.  That would seem to imply some central authority determining what constitutes Hellenic polytheism, and...  There's kind of not one.  There are organizations like Hellenion that will have their own definitions and suggestions, but they don't have any control over Hellenic polytheism at large.  People may have their own ideas about how best to approach it, but again, that doesn't mean that if you do something different you're doing it wrong.

Which is partly because "Hellenic polytheism" isn't *a* religion, to being with.  It's a kind of vague way of referring to a religious approach that focuses on the Greek pantheon.  That could really mean a lot of things.  I think the thread has been trending in the direction of a path with historical basis, but I'm not sure that "Hellenic polytheism" necessarily has to mean that.  Polytheism is just a belief in many gods, you know?

(As far as the forums, I was rather fond of Hellenistai too.  I unfortunately don't have the time and energy to keep up with both it and TC these days, though, and TC wins because it's my home and I have responsibilities here.)
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« Reply #14: March 12, 2011, 09:42:56 pm »

Which is partly because "Hellenic polytheism" isn't *a* religion, to being with. It's a kind of vague way of referring to a religious approach that focuses on the Greek pantheon.  That could really mean a lot of things.  I think the thread has been trending in the direction of a path with historical basis, but I'm not sure that "Hellenic polytheism" necessarily has to mean that.  Polytheism is just a belief in many gods, you know?

Oh, so true. This is something that confuses me sometimes/might confuse a lot of people, for whatever reason/reasons. The word "polytheism" implies simply worshiping several Gods/a set of Gods..."reconstructionism" or "Hellenic Paganism" or other "titles" like that imply a set of practices/beliefs/education that go a bit beyond the simplicity "polytheism," as a term, offers. I think sometimes (for me, at least) a person might mistake one for the other...or feel like if you are a polytheist of some set of Gods, you might also have to be or already are "a part of the religious context those Gods come from"...I think also, people often assume that if you are a polytheist of whatever-set-of-Gods, you also follow, at least to a small extent (maybe just "how you offer" or "what you offer", etc.), the religions/practices of the cultures those Gods come from...and that isn't always the case. I know I've forgotten this on occasion.

Recently I've been feeling like I can understand the difference better...though it's still sometimes hard for me to separate simply "belief in many" from "offering/practicing/experiencing those many in some of the ways they were first, and still are, experienced." Maybe I'm just the sort of person who needs a base other than myself to work off of...but some people certainly do not, and are just as comfortable believing, and then practicing however feels best. But that's why more historical/recon religions work for some people, and not for others. And there is so much in-between.
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~Arynn~

"...Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
Walt Whitman


General spiritual blog: http://greetingnewlight.wordpress.com/

ADF Dedicant blog: http://walkingthehighroad.wordpress.com/

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