Reader Question #2: How do you start believing when you don’t (even if you know it would be good for you)?

Dear readers, a reminder: Helleneste kai Grammateus is open to questions. To take advantage of this, please read the Site Policy and complete the Ask a Question form. As always, this is a free service, but if you wish to help support this blog, I greately appreciate donations.

This comment came in response to a previous article, Why believe in divinity if you can’t prove it’s real?

One slight problem: if you know you’re just deluding yourself in order to live longer and healthier, how do you even believe? For those that aren’t, the fact that being religious is correlated to better health is of no significance. -Quintin

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Reader Question #1: Is it morally wrong to break with my parents’ religion?

As previously announced, I’ve decided to take interesting comments, questions, and topics posted to Helleneste kai Grammateus and answer them in longer articles. You can take advantage of my offer after reading the Site Policy and completing the Ask a Question form. As always, this is a free service, but if you wish to help support this blog, you can make a donation.

Below is the first question that set me off doing this. It was a comment in reply to article on How to Find Your Patron Goddess or God, and it’s a really important one.

I’m a Catholic and I have been drawn too this religion, I’m not sure what it is but I love the gods but I will feel terrible for leaving my religion, I’m barely a teenager but like I said its like I’m being drawn too this, and I have been searching this stuff all day and it just feels right somehow I’m confused, would it be bad for me too leave my religion behind and start again??

Deanna

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Orphic Hymn to Aurora

We had the great pleasure of entertaining Melissa of the Bees in our home before she flew back to Canada. She saw my window-side altar to our household gods and was moved to sing the Orphic Hymn to Aurora (Dawn) in ancient Greek. We recorded her lovely offering and it’s available on her channel where many of her other beautiful songs can be found.  See her video on her YouTube channel for her additional notes on the song.

Which Gods Can You Trust?

Pagans, particularly modern Hellenic Polytheists and those of the hard polytheistic bent, will usually agree that the gods have their own agendas. This is clear in the earliest mythos of Homer. The gods take sides, have personal alliances, have varied personalities, and while our prayers are sometimes answered they are also sometimes ignored. So how can we trust them?

I visited a forum recently in which a poster asked this:

Currently, I’m a new pagan, only been pagan for about maybe a year or so, but how did you guys know which gods or goddesses to trust?
I realize that upon entering a relationship with any deity, there will be conditions that you will need to abide by.

It’s a very general question that I’m not sure how to phrase properly. However, how do you find a god or goddess who is open-minded, willing to let you ask questions no matter how irreverent, and just think for yourself? – gracesong

Zeus, the king of the gods, and controller of ...

Bust of Zeus via Wikipedia

My answer is this: Read up on the mythology of the god in question before approaching Them. This will give you a good start.

With many gods, you have to show that you are trustworthy first. That trust is built on exchange, you’re much more likely to develop that trust if you hold true to your side of the exchange than if you don’t. If you offer something in exchange for favor, then be worthy of Their trust and follow-through with your offering/sacrifice.

If you’ve done your reading, and keep your side of the exchange, then the rest is trial and error. Some gods will be indifferent to appeasement. Only They know who They favor.

If you’re not sure what to offer, then ask. If you don’t know which god to thank for something unexpected, you can say something like, “Hear me Zeus, if you are the right god to address, thank you for….” or “To whichever god blessed me with….thank you, I leave this offering for you.”

If you’re inclined towards the Hellenic Pantheon, these gods are known to be approachable:

  • Hestia – The hearth and seat of the home, what could be more inviting than that? She gave way to Dionisos and relinquished Her seat on Olympos when he was recognized as a god.
  • Hermes – He may play tricks on you, but he welcomes all kinds of people.
  • Asklepios – Very kind and known to accept all sorts of offerings (including a child’s dice) for healing.
  • Hypnos – The benignant god of sleep.
  • Which gods do you trust, and why?

    Was Jesus a Demi-god?

    Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

    Jesus depicted in stained glass in St John the Baptist's Anglican Church via Wikipedia

    This post follows The Difference Between Gods and Demi-Gods.  Please read that article first.

    Hi Alexandrabond, of course the Christian church is mostly Pagan in ritual, although forgotten are the meanings of the rituals.

    Isn’t Jesus a Demi-god? The fact is that Christianity looks nothing like Judaism so what does it look like? – bdrex

    The Catholic practice of revering saints:

    My suggestion is concerned more with the actions of followers than the nature of their saints. The cult behavior towards saints/heros/demi-gods is very similar in our respective religions.

    Christian ritual:

    I also agree that it’s very interesting how pagan their rituals are and that they have forgotten the meaning behind their rituals. That’s the unfortunate result of such a strict hierarchical church structure in which (at least until at least the Reformation) only priests and some nobility read and recited their mythology.  You’re also right that Christianity departs a great deal from Judaism. How interesting that this obscure Jewish cult divided so significantly from its parent religion and gained such notoriety over time.  While Judaism had its own, separate and contained, culture, the Christians under Paul reached out to gentiles (non-Jews) to convert them.  Any similarities they could borrow from pagan religions would make the transition easier and for utilitarian (not necessarily spiritual) reasons.

    Disclaimer:

    As always, as a modern Hellenic polytheist, I’m much less concerned with orthodoxy (correct thought) than orthopraxy (correct practice).  I don’t presume to hold a direct line to divinity, am not writing to fight over personal gnosis, and really don’t care to tell Christians what to believe.  Quite frankly, belief doesn’t matter, actions matter.  What I care about is how we relate to each other.

    That said, here is my approach the subject of Jesus and whether he was a demi-god:

    I don’t know for sure if Jesus of Nazareth existed; if he was a good, inspiring, mortal like Ghandi; if he was a god in disguise, or if he was descended from a mortal-immortal pairing and was therefore a demi-god/hero. If Jesus of Nazareth was a hero, then he could have undergone a process like apotheosis (elevation to godhood).

    The story of his life and death reminds me of Asklepios: born of a powerful god and a mortal female, rescued from death at birth, possessed life-restoring power, was a kindly man, and underwent apotheosis at the same time as his death.  Some also say that his mother was sent to the heavens.  It’s possible Jesus was the kind of hero Asklepios was – not one of strength, cunning, or quests – but of doing good deeds – and was rewarded for them by his father’s favor.   Yet it’s also possible that much like our holidays and rituals, this too was borrowed from our mythology and Jesus wasn’t divine at all. It’s possible he didn’t even exist.

    The Christian mythology is a knot of contradictions and it’s wound too tight for me to untie.  Personally given how many accounts there remain of Jesus, I’m inclined to think that he did exist and was a very good person, but as I have no gnosis of the Abrehamic god or Jesus, I cannot say whether he was anything more than that.

    Do you think Jesus was a demi god, a god, or just a man?  If he was just a man, do you think he was elevated to a demi-god or god?

    Honoring Artemis Potnia Theron Fosoros on Mounukhia

    Àrtemis mata Acteó

    Artemis Image by Sebastià Giralt via Flickr

    The Mounukhia festival honors Artemis as her titles Potnia Theron (the Mistress of Beasts) and Artemis Fosforos (Artemis the Light-Bringer). It begins with a pompe in which the people carry round cakes in which small torches, or dadia, are stuck. These cakes are called amphiphontes (round-shining). They are offered to Artemis in thanks for the lives of beasts that were killed during the hunt, and for the light of the moon. Cupcakes studded with birthday candles make a simple and thoughtful substitute. Glaux Nest

    Mounukhia is an ancient Greek festival dedicated to Artemis. It falls between late April and early May in the month of Mounukhion in the ancient Greek calendar. At this festival, Artemis is celebrated in her titles as Potnia Theron (the Mistress of Animals) and Artemis Fosforos (Artemis the Light-Bringer).

    As with all Greek rituals, the participants are to be cleansed of miasma (negative energy) by first washing their hands and asperging themselves with water.

    An offering of thanks is given to Artemis for the lives of beasts that were killed during the hunt, and for the light of the moon, in the form of a meat offering and cakes called amphiphontes. Amphiphonton (the singular) means “shining-all-around” because the cakes are ringed with lit candles to symbolize the light of the moon. The meat that was offered to her was generally a stag or some type of wild game, though modern reconstructionists have been known to sacrifice meat from the market, or even small cakes in the shape of stags.

    The Mounukhia ritual also may include the reading of her hymns, and the telling of myths associated with the Goddess of the Hunt. Richard – The Pagan Village

    Ritual Outline: Honoring Artemis Potnia Theron (Mistress of Beasts) & Fosforos (Light-Bringer)

    Dedication to Pallas Athene, Patron of Craftsfolk

    Pallas Athene Statue

    Pallas Athene Statue via Wiki

    In this month of April, I’ve returned to my roots.  I’ve delved into art (particularly production design for media like film, TV, illustrated stories, etc.) through immersion in classes, correspondence with others in the business, reading, and tutorials.  The more I learn the more I am energized.  This may be my new career.

    I am going to pray to Pallas Athene to be my patron, and at the same time, ask for Her blessing.  I am going to ask if I can integrate Her symbol of the owl, perhaps as part of water-marking my freelance art, as a way to honor Her.  To do this, I will need to perform a ritual. Continue reading