• Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by LeopardBoy

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Atheism in itself may not be a religion, but there are atheist religions, and religious people can be atheist.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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?
  19. 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.
  20. 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!
  21. Many Buddhists are atheist and believe in reincarnation. Atheism only refers to non-belief in deities.
  22. 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.
  23. As someone who practices an orthopraxic religion, that's a topic I would be interested in discussing.