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      Message from the office   07/13/2017

      There is an important message from the ULC Staff Office in the Admin Announcements & Maintenance forum. More info is on the way regarding new changes. The new area, Interpath Academia & Scholarship is open for creating new topics. We hope these areas will offer productive and insightful discussion. Please be sure to read the updated ULC Online Forum Statements, Rules & Policies, and the introductory post for each area. 


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About LeopardBoy

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    Baltimore, Maryland USA

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  1. My parents are Roman Catholic, though it's been years since they attended Mass regularly. My siblings and I grew up Roman Catholic as well, and attended Catholic school as children. The family went to church weekly while we were in school. My sister is now in the vague category of spiritual but not religious, a calling she found in addiction recovery, and to her credit it seems to have helped her regain control of her life. My brother is an atheist. I think my immediate family became disenchanted with Catholicism for various reasons over the years. My mom faced a lot of criticism from her priest over getting a hysterectomy due to medical issues. That issue, in combination with pressure to tithe even when the family was facing financial difficulties, caused my father's church attendance to drop. My own break from the religion of my childhood came gradually, as I discovered the reality of who I am ran counter to church doctrine. I couldn't reconcile many of my own beliefs about myself with Catholicism, and I eventually turned to the Greek gods that I had previously studied. I can't speak for the reasons my siblings likewise turned away. Many of my paternal extended relatives practice Buddhism and Shinto. These religions, combined with the Catholicism of my mother's family, gave me a great appreciation for ritual religious practice. When I visited Japan after high school, I got to witness my grandmother's sister make offerings of food and incense to our ancestors on her household shrine. It had a profound influence on me. My immediate family knows about my religious practice, though we don't really get into theological conversations and debates. They know I keep household shrines, and that I perform my ritual practices on behalf of our home and family as if I were the head of an Hellenic household. When my father worked at the university library, he would check out books for me on the subject of Ancient Greek religion and culture. They're all very supportive of what I do, even if they don't understand it or personally agree with my beliefs.
  2. I don't own any jewelry at this point that contain symbols of my religion. I have thought about getting a tattoo of Poseidon's trident or Hestia's flame. I haven't decided which. My home is a different matter. I have a collection of statuary that I utilize in worship, and two openly displayed shrines that contain offering bowls and candles. One I keep in devotion to the domestic gods, and the other to Herakles and Hebe. A project I have in the works is an outdoor altar to Zeus Herkeios (protector of the fence/boundary) in my backyard, which would be visible to passersby through the fence.
  3. Atheistic Satanism, certain types of Buddhism, certain types of animistic religions which don't involve deities, and a handful of modern pagan religions which don't involve deities. Atheism really only refers to a lack of belief in deities. One can have a religion complete with ritual practice, discipline, and organization without deities.
  4. Atheism in itself may not be a religion, but there are atheist religions, and religious people can be atheist.
  5. With the surge of new material coming out that adds to, or possibly detracts from, the canon the religion is based on, I assume it may be difficult for the adherents of the religion to keep up with the expanding myth. Its not that different from reconstructionist religions, in a way. Instead of new stories to keep up with, there's new archeological evidence and theories to keep us on our toes and challenge what we think we know about the religion we're reconstructing.
  6. I don't have a problem using the word worship to describe my reconstructed ritual practice to honor the Greek gods (Theoi), daimones, heroes/heroines, and ancestors. I also use the term religion to describe my practice as a whole, though that's a bit of a modern contrivance as the ancient Greeks originally had no word for religion. Their spiritual practices were so woven into their culture and identity that the closest word we can come up with is Hellenismos, the way of the Hellenes (Greeks). Just about every aspect of their life and society had a ritual component, a practice that connected the mundane with the spiritual. Hellenic polytheism is an orthopraxic religion, and thus is focused on correct ritual practice. It means what one does (and how one does it) matters more than what one's personal beliefs are regarding the nature of the gods, and the nature of their relationship to mortals. Philosophy is the system of examining and communicating those beliefs, and is intertwined with religious practice and the lessons of myth. Religion is the ritual practice, philosophy is the belief, and both inform and inspire the other. Church is a word that I don't really use in my practice, except as a shorthand term regarding legal matters. When referring to a group of worshippers, I normally use the words congregation or community, and for a building I use the English word temple or sometimes the Greek naos.
  7. After a discussion about how fundamentalist Christians can make people uncomfortable in this group and attempt to push people out, I made the point that whether they realize it or not, atheists often do the same thing to those of us who are religious but not Christian (or Abrahamic monotheists) in the course of their arguments against fundamentalist Christianity. When the word religion is defined in such a specific way by both groups, that drowns out the voice of those of us who don't fit that definition. Can't you see how that could make us feel just as delegitimized and uncomfortable in a supposedly inclusive interfaith group? When "the religious" as a whole are supposed to believe that mortal souls are imperiled by the devil, where does that leave those of us who have no such creature in our myths?
  8. Seriously? I give up.
  9. Without the ULC, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to officiate the marriage of those closest to me. I'm very grateful that this organization exits, so those of us practicing minority religions are able to be ordained, and to participate in the interfaith community that has been built up by the various members of the ULC over the years. It is an honor to be part of this group. May the Theoi bless the ULC with many more productive years to come.
  10. I practice Hellenic polytheism, and while I don't hold public services or ministry, I do routinely perform rituals of the domestic household cult. At the beginning of my daily offerings to the household gods, I recite the two Homeric Hymns to Hestia. The first is: Hestia, you tend the sacred dwelling of the far-shooting lord, Apollon, at holy Pytho, as from your tresses flowing oil ever drips down. Come to this house! Come in gentle spirit with resourceful Zeus and give grace to my song! The second hymn includes a prayer to Hermes as well: Hestia, in the lofty dwelling of all, both of immortal gods and of men who walk on the earth, you have gained an eternal abode and the highest honor, together with a fair and honorific prize: for without you there can be no feasts for mortals, if at the beginning yours is not the first and last libation of honey-sweet wine. And you, Argeiphontes, son of Zeus and Maia, messenger of the blessed gods, golden-staffed giver of things good, dwell with Hestia in beautiful houses, with loving hearts. Be favorable and help, both you, and reverend and dear Hestia. Since both of you know the good works of the men of this earth, accompany them with youthful mind. Hail, O daughter of Kronos, both you and Hermes of the golden wand!
  11. Many Buddhists are atheist and believe in reincarnation. Atheism only refers to non-belief in deities.
  12. I have doubts about the connection. For one thing, the name Isis comes from the Greek version of the actual Egyptian name of this goddess (Aset), much like Jesus is the English transliteration of the Greek transliteration of his Hebrew name. Every year in the spring I see memes that erroneously declare that the word Easter derives from the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. I've also seen it going around that the Greek name of Jesus really means "son of Zeus" when really it is just a Greek transliteration of his Hebrew name. These things seem to be at least partially based on how the names are coincidentally pronounced in English.
  13. As someone who practices an orthopraxic religion, that's a topic I would be interested in discussing.
  14. My beliefs require that I use my own wisdom to determine when and how I apply the Hellenic virtues that I hold dear. So far nothing really has changed in the past year aside from juggling a new relationship and the complexities that go along with that. I speak out against what I perceive to be injustice and ignorance the same as I always have.
  15. I'd also add that the emoluments Athenian priestesses would receive, which would vary from cult to cult, were fairly equal to those their male counterparts would have generally received. These could include monetary payments, rations of grain or other food usually given in offering at the temple, the hides of sacrificed animals (or money from the sale of those hides), choice cuts of meat from sacrifices, and reserved seating at the theater. The role of religious official was one of the socially acceptable means by which Athenian women could earn their own salary.