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

Continue reading

How to Find Your Patron Goddess or God

This is a common question for beginners: How do I find my patron goddess or god?  Those who are beginning their spiritual journey oft look to others in their religious community asking this question because they desire a mentor or deity to connect with.

My advice to you, if you find yourself asking this question, follows:

No one can answer this question for you directly, only give you a compass and tell you what landmarks they saw along the way.  It’s a bit like finding the right job, and right employer – that “right fit” isn’t “right” for everyone but you can approach it in about the same way. It may come to you from a combination of research (to open your mind to different pantheons), ritual (because the gods respond to ritual and it also cultivates your awareness of the divine), and self-reflection coupled with introspection (you must know yourself before you can know others, including the gods). You could design your own ritual, appealing to “Whoever will accept me as a devotee”, give an offering, and see who chooses you. It may not happen the first time, but your chances are better with persistence and the right approach.

Behave like you are applying for a job interview: clean and dress well, make an appropriate offering, approach respectfully, and be open-minded. Know what you can offer in return and include that in your ritual. Some deities accept food or libation, others accept music or art or poetry, some even accept blog posts praising them.  If you have decided to approach a particular god, research what He or She is known to favor and accept (like you would when researching an employer).

Finding your patron or matron god is kind of like an interview with a potential employer.

Finding your patron or matron god is kind of like finding the right employer.

If you are a poet or musician, then Apollon may be an appropriate patron and you can offer song to Him. If you are a medical technician or some sort, then Asklepios may be appropriate and you can offer your services in His name. If you are talented with crafts, then you can offer artwork, weavings, or pottery to Athene (and you don’t have to appeal to Her aspects of crafty warfare).

Like I said, it’s a lot like a job interview to find not only who matches you, but who you match with. Essentially, asking for a patron/matron is also asking to be His/Her priestess. So cultivate the qualities that would honor Them and offer your services or what you can make or earn to Them in return like you would cultivate your skills and experience to put on your resume.  Make yourself a valuable devotee, and your chances of being chosen will improve.

Addendum: It’s also important to consider what kind of person you want to be and who you want to be associated with.  Again, like applying for work in which the reputation of the company and your supervisor are important for your career, your patron or matron deity will be important for the cultivation of your spiritual life.  If you are serious about becoming a devotee, you will be cultivating aspects that the god or goddess is known for and asking for aid in realms they have control over.  So be sure to research before committing yourself to a particular 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

The Pagan/Polytheist Health Survey

Medicine logotype

Symbol of Medicine Image via Wikipedia

I read about Kimberly Hunt’s Pagan Health Survey this on The Wild Hunt and after taking the survey, I want to encourage you, the reader, to contribute to her research.  Here are her reasons why:

As both a Pagan and cultural anthropologist, I felt it was vitally important that we help policy-makers and service providers understand our needs and beliefs. This will help us to meet the health care needs of our community and build public understanding of our religious and spiritual traditions. I designed the Pagan Health Survey to help people better understand us and our views on health. The results will be combined with what I have gained by being within the Pagan community and sitting in on healing panel discussions, workshops, and so forth, as well as interviews with Pagan clergy and health care practitioners.

And here are mine:

  • It allows your opinions to be heard by policy-makers.
  • Policy is informed by research.
  • We want more alternative healthcare options.
  • Why not?
    • It takes about five minutes.
    • They survey doesn’t ask for any identifying information (not even your email address).

Please take the survey here.  The last question is open-ended, allowing you to submit your thoughts in a cohesive manner.  Please save that answer and post it blow in the comments section. I’ll refrain from posting mine for now so as not to bias you.  I’ll post it later on next week.

What do you do to prevent health problems and treat them when they arise?  When it comes to your health, do you think science is in conflict with spiritual treatment?  Do you think they are separate?  Have you had bad (or good) experiences with MDs or spiritual healers?  If you are Atheist, what do you think of spiritual healing and prayer and have you ever tried it?   If you are a polytheist, in what cases would you employ western medicine?  Please comment below!

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

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)