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.

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The Status of Helleneste kai Grammateus

Announcements!

As  you know, I stepped down from the officer role of Grammateus (Secretary) of Hellenion in order to focus on my graduate studies, and consequently, had stopped updating Helleneste kai Grammateus as regularly as I liked. Part of the problem was that I ran out of a lot of the easy ideas to write about and wasn’t sure what you all wanted to discuss. That said, I check in now and again and recently found some really interesting comments that inspired in me some epic blog-length replies. So I asked myself, “Self, wouldn’t these make great blog posts on their own?” and I answered, “Self, I’m sure other people beyond the LWs would be interested in these replies. Why don’t we look into not only posting them as new articles, but making this cool thing happen more often?” I agreed, and so the meeting was adjourned and I set myself to work on updates, while sipping cool cup of cold-pressed coffee, of course.

Therefore, I’m hereby opening the blog to suggested topics, questions, or problems relating to modern Hellenic Polytheism, methods for reconstructing and modernizing ancient religions, and religion/spirituality/philosophy questions in general. To take advantage of this, click here to find the Ask a Question Form.

Coupled with that, I developed a Site Policy and a Support and Donate page.*

Lastly, after some very exciting changes within Hellenion over the course of the last year, I stepped up during the current Annual General Meeting and accepted a nomination to join the Prutaneis (Board of Directors). We’ll see if I’m elected, but regardless, I’m expecting topics of interest to come more frequently across my bow and I look forward to sharing them here, when appropriate. And if it continues to go well, and I survive graduate school, I may set my sights on becoming an ordained member of the Hellenion clergy – which would lead to yet more contemplations written by your online Hellenic scribe. 😉

*I was inspired greatly by one of my favorite bloggers, Captain Awkward, who seems to have this advice column thing down.