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Everything posted by LeopardBoy

  1. This really isn’t a problem for polytheists, what with our Zeus who dwells on the mountaintop and the Zeus who dwells in the household pantry. Not to mention the Zeus of different cities, or the Zeus of foreigners who know him in their own “barbaric” tongue.
  2. Why only the two choices, no afterlife at all or the Christian version of an afterlife?
  3. LeopardBoy

    Agnostics, Atheists, Brights, Free Thinkers

    I also think the term religion in these type of polls seems to be defined too narrowly. In many cultures, religious practice is intertwined with the culture itself, so a person answering the polls might not define the everyday spiritual practices they perform as a “religion” separate from their culture. I see countries like China and Japan listed as secular-majority countries, yet both cultures are steeped in spiritual practices that could be described as religious, if one is defining the word religion more broadly than the context Westerners apply the term.
  4. LeopardBoy

    Agnostics, Atheists, Brights, Free Thinkers

    I can understand doing that. When I meet someone new and a friendship begins to develop, I try to work in the topic of my own homosexuality in a tactful way to gauge their response to it. It doesn’t mean that my bringing up the subject early is a statement that it’s the most important part about me, but that I want to get that out of the way before I develop an emotional attachment to someone. I’ve lost longtime friends when they found out I’m gay. Because years of friendship and emotional connection can be erased by that one truth about myself. Especially with male friends. Suddenly every display of affection is retroactively viewed as me “making a pass” and even a simple compliment becomes seen as a flirtation. It just gets awkward and painful for everyone.
  5. In Hellenic polytheism, dekatai are voluntary thank-offerings of a tenth of an acquired enterprise or fortuitous windfall (either in goods or its value in cash), made to a god and given to a temple. It’s the closest thing I can think of to the typical 10% tithe of Christianity, though a dekate wouldn’t normally be given as part of regular religious practice. Personal acts of charity really aren’t considered part of the general Hellenic public cult. Philanthropia is an Hellenic virtue, but it isn’t tied to temples or any specific religious practice.
  6. The festival calendar I follow is based on the Attic festival calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar used by the ancient Athenians to determine their holidays. The first thing to remember is that unlike today, when our day begins at midnight, the Attic day begins at sunset. This is important to keep in mind each year when I calculate my festival calendar, because the Attic day begins the night before the current day in the Gregorian calendar. Each Attic month begins with the first sighting of the crescent moon after the new moon. This day is referred to as Noumenia. The year begins with the first Noumenia after the summer solstice. Tying the cycle of lunar months to a fixed point in the solar year allows for each month to fit somewhat within a certain season, with some variation. There are typically twelve Attic lunar months, listed here in order: Hekatombaion Metageitnion Boedromion Pyanepsion Maimakterion Poseideon Gamelion Anthesterion Elaphebolion Mounikhion Thargelion Skirophorion Because a cycle of twelve lunar months is eleven days short of a solar year, there is a thirteenth intercalated month about every three years. This extra month is a repeat of the sixth month in early winter, known as Poseideon Beta, also rendered Poseideon B or Poseideon 2 in modern calculations of the calendar. Because the moon orbits the earth in 29.5 days, each Attic lunar month has either 29 or 30 days. The months with 30 days are called full, and the months with 29 days are called hollow. Each full month is further divided into three "weeks" of ten days, or in the case of hollow months, two ten-day weeks and a third week of nine days. The last day of each Attic month, when the moon is dark, is called Hene Kai Nea, which translates to "the old and the new." A cycle of four Attic years is grouped as an Olympiad, which corresponds to the four-year cycle of the Pan-Hellenic Olympic Games.
  7. LeopardBoy

    Favorite Playwrights

    Aristophanes. His comedies paint a convincing portrait of Athenian life at the time. He also ridiculed and satirized his political opponents and contemporaries, a trend that continues in comedy to this day. I'm also a fan of Shakespeare's plays. Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, and the Scottish play are my favorites.
  8. LeopardBoy

    The Attic Festival Calendar

    A number of days in each Attic month are sacred to certain gods and heroes: Noumenia: the first day of each Attic month is sacred to Selene, Apollon Noumenios, Zeus Ktesios, Zeus Herkeios, Hestia, and other household gods and spirits. This is also a day many modern practitioners of Hellenic polytheism choose to fill the kathiskos, a jar of various food items which serves as the household altar to Zeus Ktesios (an aspect of Zeus that guards the pantry and brings prosperity in the form of a bountiful food supply). The second day of each Attic month is sacred to the Agathos Daimon, a serpentine household spirit that protects the house itself. The typical offering to the Agathos Daimon is a libation of unmixed wine (Greeks typically drank wine diluted with water) after the last meal of the day, poured directly onto an earthen floor. In my modern house, I keep a libation bucket to receive this offering. The third day is sacred to Athena, and a common offering to this goddess is a libation of olive oil. The fourth day is sacred to Aphrodite, Eros, Herakles, and Hermes. The fifth day is sacred to the Erinyes, Horkos, and Eris. Fifth days were considered unlucky, and the Athenians were hesitant to conduct major business or swear oaths on these days. This also includes the fifteenth and twenty-fifth days of the month. The sixth and twenty-sixth days are sacred to Artemis, and the seventh and twenty-seventh days are sacred to her twin brother, Apollon. The eighth day is sacred to Poseidon, Asklepios, and the hero Theseus. The ninth day is sacred to the Titan-Queen Rhea, Helios, and the nine Mousai (Muses). The eleventh day is sacred to the three Moirai (Fates). The seventeenth day is sacred to Apollon, Asklepios, and Demeter. Hene Kai Nea, the last day of the Attic month (either the twenty-ninth or thirtieth day) is sacred to Hekate and the dead. Hekate's deipnon (supper) offering is made at the end of this day, typically left at a crossroads. Household shrines and altars are traditionally swept on this day, and the dust and debris is collected and given in offering to Hekate, either at a crossroads or upon a grave. Food and drink offerings to ancestors and other spirits of the dead are also appropriate. Many modern practitioners choose this last day of the month to empty their kathiskos jar as part of the cleaning of household shrines.
  9. LeopardBoy

    Authentic self

    Knowing myself is a balancing act between my own perceptions of myself, and what others around me might tell me they perceive of me. In more than a few cases, I trust my own perceptions of myself over those of my community, because many of my core beliefs are at odds with theirs. In some cases, others see things about me or the way I act that I might not notice unless they bring it to my attention. I also keep in mind that the Delphic maxim that is often translated to "know thyself" is not just a call to introspection, but also a warning against hubris. Knowing yourself is also knowing your limitations, flaws, and any bias you might have that colors your perceptions.
  10. LeopardBoy

    Misunderstandings in civilized community

    Some of us have also been raised in different cultures, either as immigrants or by immigrant families, with our own social conventions and manners. I've gotten some weird looks because my reflex is to bow instead of shake hands when I meet someone for the first time. Table manners also vary widely between cultures, and what passes for etiquette to one may seem rude (or barbaric) to another.
  11. There's no ancient source for Hekate as a crone goddess. In fact, the entire maiden, mother, and crone three-in-one goddess concept seems to have its origins in the 20th century.
  12. LeopardBoy

    Does the human soul exist?

    In some ways, such as in those examples, polytheism does still have an influence over our culture. But monotheism's grasp on the word "god" itself, even in the context of polytheistic deities, would make most people hesitant to even consider using the term for these myriad personifications that continue to exist in our language. When I use the word Zeus, most people would think of a bearded man in the sky hurling lightning, an artistic expression that did indeed exist in ancient times. But they think that image is the beginning and the end of the ancient understanding of Zeus. A superhuman figure, to use the dictionary definition of the gods of polytheism. That is the influence of monotheism, trapping our view of polytheistic gods in literal interpetations of myth.
  13. LeopardBoy

    Does the human soul exist?

    Our common culture might not take Zeus and Poseidon seriously, but our language still uses colorful phrases alluding to the personification of ideals or natural phenomena. Their influence is still alive, even if hidden behind terms like Lady Luck (Tykhe/Fortuna) or Mother Earth (Gaia). In America particularly we speak of Liberty in almost religious terms, and even have a colossal cult statue of her image. Modern sailors and seamen still give personification to the sea and storm, and we give hurricanes personal names. Justice is spoken of as blind, and revered in our courts, complete with ritual actions in her honor.
  14. LeopardBoy

    Does the human soul exist?

    Ah, I see. I'm used to piety in the context of the Greek term eusebia, the customary acts of worship given to the gods, or giving the gods what is due to them. Sometimes what is due to them is nothing, depending on the situation. Blind faith and self-righteousness doesn't really come into play, as eusebia in the Classical usage of the word is more about religious actions and behavior than faith.
  15. LeopardBoy

    Does the human soul exist?

    What's so bad about piety?
  16. I haven't had any direct, personal experiences or revelations from the gods I worship, and honestly I don't expect to have any. My religion really isn't reliant upon individual mystical experience, but private and community acts of devotion. Sure one could point to the ecstasy of the mystery cults or the phenomenon of nympholepsy, or oracular visions and insights, but those were historically rare and happened in specific settings. The vast majority just worshipped according to whatever level of piety suited them, and went about their lives never having grand mystical experiences. I think a lot of the reason mysticism and personal divine experiences and revelations are so prominent in the pagan community, is that the gateway to the community for the most part is still Wicca, and those pagan religions that are influenced and inspired by Wicca. A religion with no laity, where everyone is a priest or priestess, and the focus of the religion as it relates to their god and goddess is on ecstatic experience (drawing down the moon, the practice of magic, etc.) I had also been among the online pagan community long enough to be very skeptical about the majority of the claims people make about their direct experiences with gods or demons, etc. I've seen many a wild claim accepted almost blindly and affirmed by others in the community out of some sense of inclusiveness and solidarity. Many a forum became an echo chamber for ridiculousness, and I grew very disenchanted with the community because of it.
  17. LeopardBoy

    Does the human soul exist?

    There isn't any nuance or detail in those dictionary definitions though. No discussion about the various omni-qualities that go along with a monotheistic god but don't represent polytheistic gods. No discussion about deities having "superhuman" descriptions in myth, but not all religions have taken these mythic or poetic descriptions literally. You can't fit these kinds of theological discussions, including major differences in the way religions define what a god is, into one or two oversimplified lines in a dictionary.
  18. Eventually I'll get around to posting about the Greek concept of xenia, hospitality and the guest/host relationship, and ritualized friendship as it relates to the foreign guest-friend, and the almost kinship-like bond that such relationships form. It really is fascinating how these subjects cross through many cultures.
  19. In his Works and Days, Hesiod refers to humans as "men who eat bread," and both wheat and barley bread was a staple of the Ancient Greek diet. It isn't surprising that grain, bread, and cakes play an important role in Hellenic religion as well. Barley grains were used in purification ceremonies. During religious processions, tricorn baskets of barley were carried by kanephoroi (basket-carriers), unmarried maidens, in a ritual that also served to present girls of marriageable age to potential suitors at religious festivals. At the bottom of the baskets of barley were the ritual knives used to perform the animal sacrifice. Before the ritual act, the kanephoroi would allow the gathered worshippers to take a handful of barley, and as a group they would cast the grains upon the altar, any objects brought for burnt offerings, and the sacrificial victim to purify them. The most common religious offering by the poor was pelanos, a simple porridge of water and barley, sometimes sweetened with honey. Healing deities and rustic gods were also traditionally offered pelanos because they were primarily associated with the needs of the poor. As time passed and travel became more widespread, a monetary offering to shrines and temples in lieu of this traditional porridge also came to be called pelanos. Pemmata were flat round cakes made with water and flour, and were widely consumed during religious festivals and private banquets. They were given in offering to Zeus, Demeter, and Athena, and were even thrown in graves during funerals as offerings to the dead. Itrion was a light, crumbly cake or biscuit made with flour, sesame seeds, and honey. Crumbled itria were also used to bind together pankarpia, spherical balls of boiled dried fruit and honey that were traditionally given in offering to the domestic aspects of Zeus in the household. The Ancient Greeks were also fond of cheesecake. The fifth-century BC physician Aegimus even wrote a book on the various preparation of cheesecake, a work that is referenced by Athenaeus, but sadly has been lost to time. Plakous was the most common cheesecake, and was a layered cake of creamed cheese and sheets of wheat flour dough and sweetened with honey. It was offered alongside sacrifices as trapezomata (table offerings that could be consumed by priests), and was given in offering to Apollon on the occasion of a boy's first haircut. Kribinai were Spartan cheesecakes formed into the shape of a woman's breast, and were eaten during women's religious festivals and carried in bridal processions at wedding feasts. Amphiphontes were round cheesecakes of a type slightly more familiar to us in the modern day, and were decorated with lit candles and given in offering to Artemis during her full moon festival in the Attic month of Mounukhion in the spring. Kreion was a sweet loaf of bread served with honey, and given by Argive brides to their bridegrooms as part of the wedding ceremony. Elaphos was a stag-shaped biscuit made with spelt flour, sesame seeds, and honey, and was given in offering to Artemis during the Elaphebolia festival as a symbolic representation of a stag sacrifice. Myllos was a sesame cake in the shape of female genitalia made in the Greek colonies in Sicily. It was traditionally given in offering to Demeter and Persephone. Melitoutta were cakes made with milk and honey, and were traditionally given in offering to the dead and the spirits and deities of the Underworld during funeral rites. In myth, Psykhe took melitoutta with her during her quest to the Underworld to feed and pacify Kerberos, the three-headed hound of Hades. Pyramis was a pyramid-shaped pie that was given as a reward to those who managed to stay awake during nighttime religious vigils (pannykhis). Basynias was a honey and spelt flour cake into which was mixed pomegranate seeds, and it was decorated with a dried fig and three nuts. This was given in offering to Iris, the rainbow messenger-goddess, by the people of Delos. Enkhytos was a creamed cheese and spelt flour dough extruded through a funnel as spiral sticks into a large vat of hot oil or lard. These were typically served with honey at festivals. Diakonion was a round cake of barley meal given in offering to Apollon by Athenian boys twice a year as part of the Eiresione ceremony, where they go door to door giving out decorated sticks as a blessing to their neighbors and receiving money in return.
  20. I'm not a big fan of the "many paths up the same mountain" metaphor for religion. I get where the sentiment comes from, but I also personally see it as an erasure of the many differences between religions. Not all religions have the same end goal for worshippers, so not all would meet at the same summit. I've also seen the metaphor used as an "inclusive" way of saying there is one monotheistic deity (who just so happens to be the god of the Bible), and other theists are all worshiping him in their own way with their own names for him. So no matter what path we take, we all meet the same Abrahamic deity at the end.
  21. This is a difficult question for me to answer, because the clergy of my religion are so different from those of Christianity. An Hellenic priest or priestess is primarily concerned with ritual cult worship (including the practice of sacrifices), tending the duties of the temple or shrine where they are elected, taking inventory of gifts and offerings (and seeing to their disposal if they grow too numerous or become damaged over time), overseeing temple finances, and enforcing any sacred laws regarding the temple. They aren't really concerned with ministry to the worshippers so much as their duty to the temple or shrine and the gods or spirits to whom the temple or shrine belong. They also don't perform weddings, funerals, or naming ceremonies, because those are part of private domestic worship and not public cult worship.
  22. LeopardBoy

    Hellenic Hero Worship

    Yes. Hero or heroine status was conferred only upon someone's death. In the case of it being given as a prize for winning the full circuit of the Pan-Hellenic Games, it was established upon the death of the athlete. A person wouldn't be subject to hero cult worship in the ancient sense while still living, because even though hero cults might share some rituals with deity cults, they are still chthonic in nature, and are meant to address the dead. There are many heroes in Greek history that were fully mortal in life (and actual historical persons), but hero cult status was only attained after they had died. In many cases, the community would democratically agree to the establishment of a new hero cult in honor of a person who had died. In other instances, a ruler or governing body would establish a new hero cult. In some cases, an oracle (such as the Pythia of Delphi) would be consulted about whether a specific deceased person was worthy of the status, given the circumstances of their life and death.
  23. Hero worship is an important aspect of Hellenic polytheism. The worship of heroes and heroines serve as a sort of bridge between ancestor worship (the chthonic rites given to deceased relatives) and the worship of the gods. I'm going to first define what exactly in meant by the word hero in an Hellenic context. A hero or heroine is a mortal who once lived and died, either in myth or history, in extraordinary circumstances. By extraordinary, I mean in the true sense of being out of the ordinary. In modern usage, the word hero has taken on a connotation of virtue. Modern heroes are expected to be "good" people, typically displaying virtues such as selflessness or charity. In an Hellenic context, heroes and heroines don't necessarily display these virtues. In fact, many heroes are deeply flawed, some to the point of committing murder and adultery. A hero need only to have lived or died in a way that was out of the ordinary, or contributed in some profound way to the culture. Babies and children could also be considered heroes and heroines if they met such criteria. The heroine Lais was a prostitute in Corinth in the fourth century BC. She was stoned to death by a mob of angry women, the wives of her clients, in the temple sanctuary of Aphrodite. Because of the taboo against murder on holy ground, the death of Lais was deemed extraordinary enough to warrant a hero cult in her honor. A shrine to Lais was erected on the grounds of the temple where she was slain. The children of Herakles were given a hero cult, because in myth they were brutally murdered by their own father during a drunken rage that was brought on by Hera. The children of Jason and Medea were also given a hero cult because a parent was responsible for their murder. Hero cult status was also a prize in the Pan-Hellenic games. An athlete who won the full circuit of the four games (Olympic, Nemean, Isthmian, and Pythian) within an Olympiad (four-year cycle) was granted the prize of a hero cult in their honor, to be established upon their death. Like ancestor worship, hero cults are typically centered around the tomb of the hero or heroine, or around a memorial shrine or monument. Unlike ancestor worship, heroes and heroines could be given worship by anyone, not just those who have familial ties to the person. Their cults also could have a priesthood attached to them, and they could be given thusia sacrifices and communal feasts in the way a heavenly god would typically be honored, even though they themselves are counted among the dead.
  24. LeopardBoy

    political correctness and communication

    I attended a Catholic school, where we had Mass in the school chapel every Wednesday morning, and began each class with a reading from the Bible. I was taught evolution in science class and biblical creation as myth and metaphor in religion class. I was also taught Classical myth over three years in Latin class, though sadly I have barely retained the language due to lack of use. I'm grateful to my parents for paying for my education, and giving me an opportunity I might not have gotten attending the local city school. I have also yet to find a use for knowledge of math beyond the most basic algebra in my life outside of school.
  25. 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.