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Everything posted by LeopardBoy

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Atheism in itself may not be a religion, but there are atheist religions, and religious people can be atheist.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. Seriously? I give up.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. Many Buddhists are atheist and believe in reincarnation. Atheism only refers to non-belief in deities.
  14. 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.
  15. As someone who practices an orthopraxic religion, that's a topic I would be interested in discussing.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. It's a bit inaccurate, as least as far as my studies on Athens goes. The first identifiable priestess of the cult of Athena Polias was a woman named Lysimache, and we know of her because a statue of her was erected on the acropolis in honor of her 64 years of service. She died at the age of 88, and since that cult appointed priestesses for life terms, she was around 24 years old when she was elected to the office. We also know she was married, and had borne four children during her service to the cult. According to Robert Garland's study of the cult records of Athens in his article 'Religious Authority in Archaic and Classical Athens', priests and priestesses could be elected to office (presumably with male family members submitting the names of potential priestesses), or selected by drawing lots. The criteria the candidates would have had to meet would differ according to each cult, but could include age, marital status, health, and sometimes which tribe they come from. Certain priestesses, including that of Athena Polias, were tied to a particular tribe involved in its founding, either historically or in myth. Appointments weren't always for life, either. In fact, most appointments to religious office lasted only a year.
  19. That might be the case in parts of the Northern European world, but it's not universal. Ancient Athenian society was very oppressive toward women, long before Christianity set foot there, and the patroness of the city was Athena, a goddess. The cult of Athena Polias was the most socially powerful cult in the city, and there is an account of a priestess banishing a king from the temple grounds on the acropolis because he was deemed ritually unsuited to be there. While the women in religious office held a certain amount of social power in Athens, that wasn't the case for the common women, who had no political voice of their own and were considered the property of a male family member. Goddess-worship in itself doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with women's rights or social and political equality.
  20. The phrase "God helps those who help themselves" isn't biblical, but rather originated in Greek tragedy and the fables of Aesop, specifically Heracles and the Wagoner.
  21. My personal heritage and ethnicity don't match the reconstructionist polytheistic religion I practice. Being considered Hellenic was more about speaking the language and observing Greek religious and social customs than where and to whom a person was born; though birth and heritage determined things like citizenship in a polis and a host of rights and social obligations attached to that. I'm of the opinion that holding an appropriate spiritual and cultural worldview is more important than heritage and ethnicity, though I will add that honoring one's ancestors is a very important part of my religious practice.
  22. I usually worship in the home, focusing my daily rites toward the Theoi and daimones that reside in the household, as well as the ancestral spirits of my family. Occasionally I will also worship outdoors, pouring libations at a local park to the nymphai that reside in the area. Currently I have no temples or groves at which to conduct worship.
  23. The concept of ministry in itself is foreign to my religion as well, and the roles of clergy are very different from what is expected of priests or ministers following a Christian concept of clergy. Hellenic priests and priestesses aren't spiritual counselors or "shepherds to a flock", for one thing. They are caretakers of a temple or other sacred site (as well as the inventory of votive gifts, monies, and other offerings made to the deity or spirit of that specific site), and leaders of rituals related to the specific cult they are elected to serve. In most cases, their terms also have a set limit before another priest or priestess is elected to the position. Only a few very exceptional cults would have had a lifetime position for clergy. Hellenic priests and priestesses also wouldn't be involved in those domestic functions which modern Christian-influenced culture tends to associate with clergy; such as weddings, naming ceremonies, and funerals. Those functions were the spiritual responsibility of the family itself as part of the domestic cult of each household. The idea of a solitary minister or priest wouldn't make sense in my religion, since priesthood is bound to a specific cult, and priests and priestesses are elected by the community of worshipers (either from eligible members of the general public or eligible members of a specific family descended from the founders of the cult). The average, everyday Hellenic worshiper is also responsible for making their own offerings and prayers, and approaching deities and daimones in worship for themselves or on behalf of their household and family, so really there is no need for the role of solitary minister or priest in my religion.
  24. So far, my plan for Halloween is to hang out at my friends' place. My best friend's stepchildren are supposed to visit for the weekend, and we have plans on watching movies or doing some other kid-friendly activity with them. After they're in bed, we plan to have a few drinks and watch slasher films, and at some point the event will probably shape into our usual symposium of good conversation and humorous antics. Other than perhaps pouring a few libations while drinking or making an offering before partaking of meals (ritual actions I would perform anyway), I really don't observe the day in any religiously significant way, as neither Halloween nor Samhain are Hellenic holidays.
  25. There are many polytheistic religions that are centered on praxis, not orthodoxy, and thus allow for a multitude of individual beliefs and philosophies.