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Author Topic: Hellenic Polytheism  (Read 10036 times)
cottoncandyhorror
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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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