It Came from the Search Terms, April Issue

Every once in a while, I answer the questions that people typed into search engines to find this blog. Except for adding punctuation, I don’t change the wording. Enjoy!

How did greek oracles better tune there visions?

Every oracle had a particular method of divination. These included motion of objects in the spring, movements of birds,  cracks in the bones of animals, rustling of leaves, interpreted dreams, etc, and were all considered valid indicators for divination. Some established oracles were those of Zeus at Dodona, Apollo at Delphi and many more. Oracles were priestesses, often educated in temples devoted to particular gods. This means that more experienced priestesses trained them, and acolytes gained the benefit of practice before taking on the mantle of authority. They had the benefit of institutional structure and mentorship. Of course, more detailed questions presented to the oracle would help them focus.

A patron god or goddess and how to know?

It sounds like you think you might have a patron god or goddess but want to be sure. My best advice would be to continue reaching out to the deity in question – make offerings and libations, ask for specific favors – and see what happens. If you see objectively that your god is granting your request (and you’re holding up your end of the bargain) and subjectively you feel something inside when you speak to Him or Her, then you have a relationship. Another idea, if you have very specific questions like “Are you my patron?” is to write your question in a journal before you go to sleep, then the god may answer it for you in your dream. Regardless, as soon as you wake up before even getting out of bed, open your journal and begin writing. Don’t let any doubts or thoughts filter what you’re writing, just write for about 15-20 minutes or three pages. Then stop and see what you’ve written. You may recall your dream or have your answer.

Hellenism holy book?

The only state-recognized church in the US is Hellenion, and it had previously published an overview book of modern Hellenism called Old Stones New Temples which is currently under revision. Though our sources, which are divinely inspired, are Hesiod and Homer. Currently there is discussion in Hellenion about whether or not to produce a modern ‘holy book’, but this is a controversial issue.

Maxims of delphi hellenion.

The original Delphic Maxims can be found here. Though there are maxims that are no longer followed in modern Hellenism, such as “Rule your wife (Γυναικος αρχε)”. Modernizing the maxims is an interesting idea for a holy book, should Hellenion decide to produce one.

Can gods die?

I suppose that depends on if 1. You believe that time is linear (a modern idea) and not cyclical (an ancient idea, discussed by Herodotus among others) and therefore there is a permanence to death, and 2. If you count transforming into another deity, or part of a deity, death. Even though they were overthrown, many Titans such as Prometheus and Atlas were imprisoned but not killed. Early Titan wives of Zeus such as Metis (goddess of wisdom, skill, and craft) did not remain in the same form. Because She was both important and a threat to Zeus, prophesied to have powerful children with him, He tricked her into transforming into a fly and Athena was born. Does this mean She is dead?

On the soft polytheist side, we could argue that since there is still deep thought in the world, that the embodiment and essence of thought is not dead. On the hard polytheist side, the question of she died is open vs. if She is still inside Zeus (as He and His siblings were once swallowed but were able to escape), whether She ceased to be because She was transformed, or if She is actually reborn as Athena. It’s like asking if water cease to be water when it evaporates.

What is the difference between a demigod and a god?

A demigod is a hero, born of one god and one mortal parent. A demigod is between mortal and immortal, and therefore able to perform super-human feats but aren’t immortal (unless transformed into a god). They have the benefit of being able to travel between realms; which is off-limits to all but psychopomps, messenger gods, and mortals who have recently died. Some demigods, such as Hercules, had their own temples and many were worshiped as champions of the people – more approachable than gods.

Demigods, and their cult followings, are very similar to how today we sacrifice a great deal of time, money, and attention in tribute to super hero characters. They inspire the best (and worst) in us, live among us, and champion us, but aren’t totally human.

Hellenion’s 2011 Hellenic Festival Calendar

By Ivy Izzard. Available for print and use on altars at Redbubble. Hera is honored by Hellenion in January on the second Saturday of the month.

Hellenion’s 2011 Calendar is available for download at Hellenion’s website.  I’ve also included it here for download from Helleneste kai Grammateus.  The calendar is also available in webpage form.

If you use Google calendars, go to Hellenion’s Google calendar to integrate it into your schedule.

This year many of the holy days are linked to pages online which describe the ancient festivals, some with suggestions for how to celebrate them in the modern world.  To read about all of them at once, go to our Temenos site list of festivals.  The Temenos site can be edited by any Hellenion member.  So if you are a member, you can add how you celebrate the holy days to our collective experience there!  Regardless of whether you are a member of Hellenion, your personal experiences are also welcome on Hellenion Chat, which is affectionately called “Hellenion’s Front Porch”.

By using this calendar and the festival resources available at the Temenos, you’ll be celebrating alongside fellow Hellenic Polytheists.  We look forward to celebrating with you!

Canadian Affirms Oath of Citizenship on Pagan ‘Holy Book’

Melissa Gold, a fellow member of Hellenion (a recognized church of Hellenic Pagans) affirmed her oath of citizenship on her copy of Hesiod and Homer this week – possibly a first in North America.

Hellenion’s Press Release:

“Hellenion is delighted for Melissa Gold, who was recently able to undertake her Canadian citizenship ceremony while holding a volume of Hesiod and Homeric Hymns. We celebrate with her that she was able to mark the moment of being able to participate fully in her country’s democracy while maintaining her Hellenic principles. In these times all of us are regularly reminded how precious the rights of religious freedom and tolerance are, and salute the government of Canada for their on-going commitment to these principles. We hope more countries will soon enact laws to extend religious freedom to all their citizens. All the best to Melissa and her family.”

From Melissa’s interview with Pagan+politics:

PNC: This gets to something that may be a bit controversial in our wider religious community, the idea that Pagans could have a holy book and why we would swear or affirm an oath on one. Which book did you choose and why did you choose that one?Melissa: I wanted to make a point that Hellenic texts could logically be part of a citizenship ceremony in lieu of touching an altar of Zeus, which was a traditional way to make oaths in antiquity. I had brought a Loeb volume containing the works of Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, and the Homeric Hymns. Those texts represent some of the earliest writings about Hellenic spiritual practice and mythology, which underlie most of what was done in ancient times along with the epic poems and give us inspiration and direction today.

PNC: Did it give you pause to be choosing a book, knowing you may be setting an example or precedent for Hellenics?

Melissa: Yes and no. While I realized that some people might regard my particular choice as a precedent, I suggest that anyone in a similar position choose whatever is of importance and significance to them. If it helps anyone to have the works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns be known as a precedent, that’s great; but polytheism is inclusive and therefore many other choices would be just as good. There is no one right choice as in monotheistic societies. – Full article at The Wild Hunt

Autumn Update

You may have been wondering what happened during this lapse of time since the last article posted to Helleneste kai Grammateus.  The truth is there has been a lot.  Happening, that is.  I won’t bog down this article with the full details of everything, but this will be an overview for upcoming posts…

Hellenion had its Annual General Meeting which kept my hands, mind, and emotional capacity more than full.

Concurrent with that, our family lost a strong friend of 14 years which sent me into a deep immobilizing funk of guilt and regret.  Our friend was one of the two family cats my husband and I took into our home four years ago when my side split households across the country.  He was declining sharply due to kidney failure and we were forced to decide to put him down.  It felt like pulling the plug on a child, but one that couldn’t communicate his pain.  We are still coping with the loss.

I’m also now in my last two weeks of a class on digital painting.  That is, painting on the computer with Corel Painter.  I promise I’ll post a link to one piece I did which Hellenic Polytheists will enjoy: Hestia.  I felt moved by Her to paint it.  I’m considering selling prints of it to those in the polytheistic community if there’s enough interest.

I am also applying to the graduate program at the Academy of Art University in SF for a MFA in Illustration (Concept Art track).  This has required a lot of attention to cultivating my portfolio.

And then there was Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  Perhaps its approach was why I was compelled to paint Hestia as it is certainly Her holiday.  Family and friends gathered to give feast and give thanks as winter approaches and they spend all day over the oven cooking together.  What could celebrate the hearth more?  My husband and I went out of town for the week and celebrated twice with his family (his parents are divorced) and spent time with his brother, brother’s fiance, and our nephew (who is now three years old and both charming and brilliant).  Then we flew back and entertained my parents and family and friends for a third Thanksgiving feast (well, three of those really as friend and relatives came at three separate times).  What can I say?  We have much to be thankful for.

Now I am taking a deep breath and getting back into the groove.  As usual, I post not by a schedule or routine, but when something of interest begs to be shared and discussed.  Next, I’ll share some advice I posted at MisticWicks concerning finding a patron (or matron) deity.

Hellenion’s Welcome Kit: Do You Want One Too?

 

A fountain pen of S. T. Dupont.

"Thanks!" in Portuguese via fountain pen in blue ink Image via Wikipedia

 

As Grammateus (Secretary) of Hellenion, a non-profit religious organization with 501(c)(3) status, I have many duties.  This includes, but isn’t limited to, processing new member applications.  That duty involves several tasks.  One of my predecessors started a tradition that has become my favorite task as Grammateus, and that is personalizing our welcome kit and sending it to new members.

I was delighted yesterday when I saw that my new friend, Jota, had posted pictures on Facebook of the arrival of his welcome kit and documented his excitement opening it.  This was especially grand considering that he resides in Brazil and is the brother to another member in Brazil.  I am kindling quiet anticipation of new demoi (congregations) emerging all over the globe.

With his permission, I have included his pictures and comments below to give all of you would-be-applicants an idea of what you can expect to receive when you first join. Continue reading

News: “Reconstructionist pagans are reviving the polytheistic religions of the ancient Greeks, Druids, Egyptians, and others”- Beliefnet.com

Parthenon from west

Image via Wikipedia

For those unfamiliar with the modern movement towards reviving ancient polytheistic religions, this article is for you:

Reconstructionist pagans are reviving the polytheistic religions of the ancient Greeks, Druids, Egyptians, and others- Beliefnet.com.

It was written back in 2004 and these religions are still going strong.  Here is an excerpt describing the movement to reconstruct the ancient polytheist religions into religions for modern practitioners living in today’s cultures:

Reconstructionists are a group of neo-pagans-people who look to pre-Christian cultures for their faith-different branches of which worship the gods of ancient Norse, Roman, Egyptian, and Druid peoples. And while scholars say their numbers are only a fraction of the neo-pagan community, they also say they are a vibrant illustration of the rejection of traditional religion in the United States. And, in a curious boomerang effect, they are part of a movement away from the more eclectic forms of neo-paganism, like Wicca, taken up by pagan pioneers in the 1960s and 1970s.

Continue reading

The 2010 Hellenion Calendar

Photograph of Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hell...

Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes (YSEE) ritual in Greece via Wikipedia

Many people have expressed interest in the 2010 Hellenion Calendar and how to find it.  I am including a link in here for interested, and also updating the links page for Helleneste kai Grammateus.

The 2010 Hellenion Calendar

The calendar is based on the monthly and annual observances and festivals of the ancient Athenians from about 800 BCE to 323 BCE. This version was created using information derived from http://www.numachi.com/~ccount/hmepa and from http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/MoonPhase.html as well as the sources Greek Religion by Walter Burkert (Harvard University Press, 1977, English translation: Basil Blackwell Publisher and Harvard University Press, 1985), Old Stones, New Temples; ancient Greek paganism reborn, by Drew Campbell (Xlibris Corporation, 2000) and Festivals of the Athenians, by H. W.Parke (London, Thames and Hudson, 1977)…

In addition to ancient festivals and observances, certain modern occasions are listed as well. This includes the Hellenion monthly libation (ensuring that at least one day a month is shared by a community, albeit scattered, at the same time, and also ensuring that each of the twelve Olympians is honored at least once during the year). Note that this libation is not an official practice of Hellenion but a voluntary activity endorsed by many Hellenion members.  Some modern festivals are also listed, such as Heliogenna, held over several days during the shortest days of December, and Prometheia, held in Greece on the summer solstice near Mt. Olympos (see http://www.ysee.gr/index-eng.php for more information about this festival).