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

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Islamic Center Proposed in Tennessee

Anti-Islamic protestors

Anti-Islamic protestors raise signs

Here’s another amusing video from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, this one on the topic of an Islamic Center proposed in Tennessee and the growing hatred and paranoia of all things Muslim.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Tennessee No Evil
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
Protestor holds a sign against proposed Islamic center

Protestor holds a sign against proposed Islamic center

Remember folks, religious tolerance applies to all religions. It doesn’t mean endorsing their creeds, liking what they do, or -gods forbid- agreeing with others’ beliefs. It means allowing them to practice their faiths. Ideally, it means trying to understand why others believe what they believe; but at the very least, not being a jackass about it by persecuting believers of other faiths.

This applies not only to Christians with respect to Islam and to us, as polytheists. It also applies to us and our behavior towards monotheists like Christians and Muslims.

What do you think of (and feel about) the building of Islamic Cultural Centers?  Should we be tolerant if and when we are not tolerated?

From Atheism to Paganism

Atheist Badge

Atheist Badge via Wikipedia

The issue of returning to Paganism from Atheism came up in a thread on MysticWicks.com:

…It’s been years since I’ve been a “practicing” pagan, and I largely consider myself a non-theist these days. However, I don’t particularly want to be.

I was happiest when I felt a strong spiritual connection, and I generally had a positive outlook, because I felt in control of my life via magic and ritual, and cared for by the Divine.

I first started falling away from it when my husband and I moved in together. (I officially considered myself a pagan at 16, moved out of my parents house at 19, and am currently 25.) It seems so strange, but living with my conservative parents, it was so much easier to do rituals… even if most of my supplies and books were hidden away, I spent every night alone in my room, and had all the privacy I wanted. Not that my husband minds, but I just don’t like the idea of running off to the bedroom (or sending him and the cats to the bedroom, as he has suggested) if I want to do a ritual. I feel timed, and a bit awkward knowing someone is aware of what I’m doing, when I consider it private. (A bit like talking through the bathroom door…)

I’ve spent so much time as a cynical atheist, and defending the (shocking!) idea of not believing in God to a few nosy co-workers, that I almost feel… too stubborn? to go back to believing in a higher power. I feel like it’s conceding or something.

I’m not opposed to the idea of non-theist witchcraft, as there are still some “spiritual” things I believe in (karma, energy, etc.) without believing in God, but believing in magic without a higher power seems almost blasphemous to me. Egotistical, at least. When I would do rituals, I would consider it a prayer or a request, not “controlling” the energy and elements myself… – humangirl

My advice for her, and others, considering returning to paganism:

It took me time to adjustment to practicing rituals while living with my husband and negotiate the space-sharing issues. So I know what that feels like – to feel self-conscious while living with another person, even one who is supportive and understanding of your practices.

There is a bit of pride wrapped up in being Atheist because that involves a level of certitude; it’s a personal certitude that takes the place of faith in one or more deities outside of oneself, and that can require significant pride to maintain. I say this having been an Atheist.  It was indeed a humbling experience to first doubt that there is nothing outside of the concrete physical world, and later to believe in something more.

If you are not certain about the existence of any deities, well, then you’re Agnostic. And that’s fine.  But if you don’t believe in gods in any way, shape, or form, you can still have other ideas about how the world works.  Example: belief in Feng Shui for example doesn’t involve any kind of deity, yet it’s nearly magical the way it functions through the direction and cultivation of Chi.

It’s really going to take some self-reflection for you to find out what you believe. Neither I, nor anyone else, can tell you what to believe.  But once you do realize what your belief is, then you just need to come to terms with it. If you are changing your mind, what is there to be embarrassed about? People don’t stop learning or growing, they continue to do so throughout their entire lives.

Would you consider yourself a Theist?  Atheist?  Monotheist?  Polytheist?  Agnostic?  Have you ever changed from one to the other?  How would you advise someone experiencing a crisis of faith (or crisis of lack of faith)?

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)

Why Pagans Aren’t Taken Seriously

Pagan symbols on stones

Various Pagan symbols etched and painted on stones.

A very dynamic discussion opened on Mystic Wicks titled Is Paganism Taken Seriously?. I answered (first clarifying that “Paganism” itself isn’t a religion anymore than “Monotheism” is [both are categories]) that some people I’ve found are politely curious, but most either immediately change the subject or give me a “WTF?!” double-take.  I’ve also been told, in a roundabout way, that all mythology is hokey.

The discussion led to a spread of answers all circling around the same theme, in keeping with Pagan style.  There are a lot of quotes below, but trust me, I’m getting somewhere with this: Continue reading

Honoring Athene Ergane Agoraia, Patron of Craftsfolk

Pallas Athene

Pallas Athene via Wikipedia

I dedicated my artistic labors to Athene today and asked for Her to be my patron and give her blessing.  With barely cleansed with khernips and an olive oil sponde, I fed an ink-and-watercolor painting I created of Her to the hearth fire as an act of dedication.

This is the ritual outline I designed, based on Old Stones, New Temples by Drew Campbell and hymns researched on theoi.com.:

  • Wash hands and face with lustral water (khernips).
  • Process to the altar or shrine in a respectful manner.
  • Light incense.  Frankincense is generally applicable.
  • Read or recite a hymn.
    • [Orpheus] XXXI. TO PALLAS [ATHENE]A Hymn.
      Only-Begotten, noble race of Jove, blessed and fierce, who joy’st in caves to rove:
      O, warlike Pallas, whose illustrious kind, ineffable and effable we find:
      Magnanimous and fam’d, the rocky height, and groves, and shady mountains thee delight:
      In arms rejoicing, who with Furies dire and wild, the souls of mortals dost inspire.
      Gymnastic virgin of terrific mind, dire Gorgons bane, unmarried, blessed, kind:
      Mother of arts, imperious; understood, rage to the wicked., wisdom to the good:
      Female and male, the arts of war are thine, fanatic, much-form’d dragoness [Drakaina], divine:
      O’er the Phlegrean giants rous’d to ire, thy coursers driving, with destruction dire.
      Sprung from the head of Jove [Tritogeneia], of splendid mien, purger of evils, all-victorious queen.
    • [Homer] XI. TO ATHENA  Of Pallas Athene, guardian of the city, I begin to sing. Dread is she, and with Ares she loves deeds of war, the sack of cities and the shouting and the battle. It is she who saves the people as they go out to war and come back. Hail, goddess, and give us good fortune with happiness!
  • Plunge a burning twig (of rue if possible) from the hearth (hestia) into the clean water.  Sprinkle this water (khernips) over the offerings.
  • Place offerings (olives, flax, wool, crafts, & intellectual labors) before the statue or other sacred symbol.
  • Stand erect with palms up and make your own prayers.
  • Call upon the deity to listen to you, evoking as many epithets as are applicable.
    • Pallas (forename, as in “Pallas Athene”)
    • Glaukopis (Grey-Eyed, Owl-Eyed)
    • Ergane (Workerwoman)
    • Agoraia (of the Market)
    • Khruse (Golden)
    • Meter (Mother)
    • Nikephoros (Victory-Bringing)
    • Polumetis (of Manny Counsels)
    • Promakhos (Champion)
    • Soteria (Savior)
    • Sthenias (Mighty)
  • Remind Her of previous assistance.
  • Make your request and state what you will do in return when it is fulfilled.
  • Pour libation (sponde) into a cup or bowl and place on the altar.
    • Wine (best mixed with water)
    • Milk and Honey
    • Olive Oil (especially appropriate)
  • Process away from the altar.
  • Place offerings in the hearth fire or else outside in a sheltered place by the door or fence.

You are welcome to use this ritual, or modify it, as you like.

What rituals have you performed for Athene?