Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An Unexpected Response (and a hope for the future)

For those of you who are my friend on Facebook, you are probably aware that I work at my University bookstore. Last week I was working a very long shift and was just exhausted at the end of the day. I had worked 10:30-7:30 and was just ready to go home. After I punched out, I headed down the stairs of the Union and ran into an old friend. We began talking and we (somehow) got onto the subject of my faith. From memory, the exchange went something like this (I will call him A for the sake of privacy)

A: Aren't you Wiccan or something?
Me: No, no, no. 
A: I thought you worshiped the Greek Gods
Me: I do.
A: Well, you're something like Wicca, something weird like that?
Me: No, I'm a Hellenistos, I have more in common with Catholics than I do Wiccans.

Then we started talking about stand-up, D&D, and re-organizing our group, then we parted ways.

I had been mulling over for several days why I responded the way I did, and the truth of it all. Theologically, I'm pretty far apart from the Catholic church, but the way the Church treats their God, but. . .in terms of practice the comparison is true. I mean, Hellenismos is in no way very similar to Catholicism, but we have a couple of similarities (which shouldn't be surprising considering the Church's Roman roots and the Greek and Romans influencing each other.) now with Wicca, what similarities do we have? We *might* worship the same Gods as some branches of Wicca, but a lot treat them as "aspects" or as "archetypes" and our rituals are pretty different from theirs, in feel, and in layout, at least from my experience. They do "magick" by and large Hellenistai don't. Our only similarity, I've discovered is our  connection through the worship of Gods, and even that can be a stretch.

I paused at this realization though. I turned it over like a pretty rock in my hand, what does this mean for me? For my relationship to the larger Pagan community? After a while, I kept the rock, I accepted that when it comes down to it, we are very different, but despite the difference I have a greater interest.

It made me realize that I have a few hopes.
I hope for the to be a temple to the 12 Olympians (with both Dionysus and Hestia being counted as the "12". So, it'd be for 13 Gods, but that is the most common variation on the 12 I've seen)
I hope that this temple can be operated in such a way that Hellenistai, Wiccans, Druids, and Eclectics can come and leave their votive gifts to the Gods no matter their affiliation.
I hope for my faith to grow, and to re-establish the cults of some of the Gods, for their rites of dedication to be re-established, for their faithful to grow, and for their devotees being recognized by the acts of goodness that they bring into the world.

I want the worship of the Gods to grow.

The longer I'm in the community, the more I get a feel for what I want out of it, and for what I hope to give. I am of course, quite uncertain of whether or not I will be able to give anything substantial, but by the Gods I am going to try.

First though, I have some biases and prejudices to work through. I need to be able to say, after a long day of work, "I'm not a Wiccan, but they are a good bunch." instead of "No, no, no"

Monday, January 28, 2013


Due to being busy last week I wasn't able to review anything! Reviews will return starting next Monday!

To make up for it. . .remember Astronaut Sloth? Here is something completely unreleated

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The First Time

On Monday I celebrated Isonomia, which is an Ancient Greek word that roughly translates to "equality of status". Now, this was/is a modern celebration, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we honored Zeus and Hera for their roles in justice and we honored Dr. King, for obvious reasons. It was. . .very meaningful to me, very special.

Firstly, it was very special to me because it was the first ritual I have written for a public setting. Prior to that it had been simple devotionals, it had been Noumenia and Hekate's Deipnon, important lunar occurrances, but they were for me and me alone. This was so much different.  It was, like an art in a way, like acting. Not in the sense that I was faking anything,  but in the sense that I knew that whatever I came up with other people would enjoy (or endure). I wanted desperately for everyone who came to enjoy themselves, and as far as I can tell, they did. That meant a lot to me.

Secondly,  it was special because for all the months of struggling and dealing with the loneliness and being frustrated by feeling isolated in my own religious practice, doing this one little celebration, this one little ritual with just a couple of other people (there were 3 of us) and honoring the Gods in the way that is right for me, honoring them in the way that a Hellenistos does, that was enough to make me finally be able to say "it isn't so hard." I know now that whatever I do, there is a community of us, and with a little reaching out, planning, effort, and a bit of organization, I can find them, or they me, and we can be brought together by the act of worship. I didn't know very well one of the people that attended, but we found a common bond through our faith, and after the ritual ended I came away with the feeling of "Hey, I'd help this guy move if he needed it". It was exactly what I needed actually. It also sort of swooshed away all those concerns about "Pagan" "polytheist" "not-pagan" debate that had been going on and I had still been thinking about. I sort of felt, well, it doesn't really matter if the label applies or not. Ultimately, I will have my group of people who I worship with, and whether they call themselves Pagan or Polytheist or Jujumakaschu, at the end of it all, they are my fellow Hellenists, and they'll be that to me before anything else, and I can only hope I will be the same to them.

The last way, is through the act of writing the ritual, through study and contemplation about it, I realized that Dr.King and the movement he was a part of helped pave the way for the Gay Rights movement to take its stand. It made me appreciate even more what he and the people he banded together with did, and the waves of which have a direct influence on my life today. It also made me realize it is quite a shame that he isn't honored more, even in the secular way, which is a tad sad when I think about everything that came merely out of his speeches, and how he served as a uniting, empowering, and strong figure.

Despite all the sublime feelings, all the realizations though, at the end of the day, it was still about Dr.King and the Civil Rights Movement, and honoring his memory, and thus his movement.

Friday, January 18, 2013

[SPOILERS] Jujube wins in my heart. . .

Watched Ru Paul's Drag Race and just finished it. My queen didn't win. . .but Jujubee is a winner in my heart. Tyra, probably "deserved" to win, but I just hated her attitude

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I will not be able to write the post I wanted to. I will post it this weekend. To make up for it, here is a picture of a sloth astronaut

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Shinto

Buy it here
Due to time constraints caused by classes and work resuming, I will be doing a very abridged review.

TITLE: Shinto
AUTHOR: C. Scott Littleton
SCORE: 7/10
THE GOOD: This book would make a great text for those who haven't a single clue about Shinto or what it is about. It provides a very broad survey in easy to understand language with relatively interesting and relevant pictures. The reading level I would peg at around 7th or 8th grade, but don't let that deter you from the book, despite its simplicity it is very easy to read and quite entertaining

THE BAD: It doesn't really provide a lot of info. If one was looking to actively practice Shinto, this is not the book for him or her, it only touches upon the broad concepts and doesn't really indicate much of the practice of the religion other than the parading of the mikoshi and the order of purification of body parts before approaching a shrine or temple.

OVERALL: Get this book if you want to get a nice framework to study Shinto from. Avoid this book if you are well-acquainted with the religion and its basic concepts, as you will not likely get much out of it. I would highly recommend this book if you are wanting to help your teen (12-14) get interested in world religions.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Shrine to Dionysus Update

My shrine to Dionysus has grown these past few months and seeing as I didn't have time to compile some entertainment links, I think I'm going to take this chance to show it. A nice little basic set-up, very simple. I feel that anyone who wants to set up a shrine could follow the basic set up. One thing for burning incense, two bowls for offerings (one for libations and one for food offerings) one flame source, and one container to keep water in for creating khernips. Very basic and works well. The wine bottle, stones, and medals are votive gifts and thus not "needed" for the basic shrine set-up, but remember that votive gifts are a way of showing thanks, and thus any shrine you set-up will probably wind up with a few.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Predictions of Community

I've been thinking quite a bit about where the Pagan community as a whole is going, and where individual groups are going. Many of us try to pretend that our actions concern only us, but that simply is not the truth or case, our actions will inevitably affect those who we share the community with and will affect some individuals or groups desires to be associated with the neo-Pagan community and movement. I have a few predictions that I"m going to make, with the possible hope of bringing in dialogue and with the definite purpose of sorting my own thoughts about the whole issue out. Here are my predictions based on nothing more than my own observations. No divination was used, nothing like that.

  • Eclecticism in the general sense is probably going to die out. The community in of itself is probably going to cool down and settle to some sort of similar practice, theology, and cosmology. Variations will arise (see Theravada Buddhism vs Vajrayana Buddhism for example) but there will be some sort of common base. A group similar to ADF (if not ADF themselves) will likely be the torch-bearer for the whole she-bang. Smaller factional groups will likely arise, but they will share many of the "solidified" elements of their Pagan base and will remain in "brotherhood" with their religious "cousins"  Wicca will either be a large denomination or will be consumed by the large group that is the torch-bearer. We can easily see all of these tendencies by looking at your standard fare at a Pagan Pride Day or at a general Pagan convention.

  •  Reconstructionist religions will attach themselves (at least partially) to the Neo-Pagan movement until they are big enough to stand on their own. Reconstructionist groups, while very small, will have to rely on the Pagan "tent" to provide recruitment, limited-protection, and a limited sense of community. In exchange the general Pagan community will pilfer elements from the groups to enrich their own traditions. Reconstructionist groups will reach a "critical mass" point to where the members of the religion realize they don't need the Pagan tent anymore, and will slowly begin to distance themselves from the Pagan community and adopt a more "this is us, that is them" mentality towards the Neo-Pagan community. We are already seeing this trend beginning in the Asatru/Heathen communities in which many members are starting to cut ties with the Pagan community at large. Reconstructionist religions will also be forced to form some sort of unifying head for their particular religion (i.e. Asatru and Hellenismos would not have the same unifying head). This unifying group will provide a loose definition of what the religion consists of to outsiders, and will provide the members of the religion a means of building community and organizing themselves. Those who do not do this will remain small. 

  • Neo-Druidry and Wiccan traditions will either meld into one tradition or will both become large denominations for the Pagan community. We will start to see a sort of middle-ground between soft, hard, and archetypal polytheism and systems of theology and cosmology will arise which accommodates these strikingly different view points. "Borrowing" from other religions will begin to slow down and eventually cease (as in, completely new influences being brought in) as Paganism gets its own sense of "this is what we do"  

  • There will be a decrease in the acceptance and tolerance of traditions which are discriminatory in terms of gender and/or sexual orientation. Therefore, I predict that the Goddess tradition will either diminish in number or break away from the Pagan umbrella and that the Dianic tradition will greatly diminish in number. I am uncertain if they will become "extinct" but I definitely feel that they will be seen as "radicals" and "not really *us*" much as liberal-Christians feel about hard-right Evangelicals. 

Thoughts? Comments? Leave them below.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

CD Review-What We Saw From the Cheap Seats


                What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is singer/songwriter Regina Spektor’s most recent album was released on May 29, 2012. The album overall has a more poppy feel than her previous albums, but still has the typical Regina style.
                The album opens with “Small Town Moon”. This song, I feel, sets a certain tone for  the rest of the album, the softer and more gentle verses being interrupted with a slightly harsher sounding chorus giving the song a sort of tension and energy, This is followed by the strange “Oh Marcello”, whose lyrics I cannot make heads or tails of. I think it might be about Hitler’s mom, but I’m not entirely sure. It also includes the hook from a Nina Simon song, and part of me wonders if the whole song was created as an excuse for that hook. We then come to the rather tropical feeling, but otherwise unremarkable song “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, which is actually a newer version of the one found on her album “Songs”.  The lyrics and tune are kind of catchy, but the song just feels pretty plain to me.  “Firewood” “Patron Saint” and “How” are all rather typical from what you expect from Spektor. Then we come to “All the Rowboats”
                This song actually gives me goosebumps. The lyrics and the feel of the song is kind of dark in of themselves, lamenting the fact that beautiful art never gets to be appreciated or used by people, but rather just gets stuck in stuffy museums. The price of greatness comes out to be a life of eventual boredom and stagnation which one might not have to face if they hadn’t achieved such greatness. The person is lost behind their art, they don’t become a person, but rather become an art piece. That being said, ole Regina got a little carried away with the percussion instruments and making explodey noises with her mouth in this one, so the ending of the songs falls a tad. . .flat, because of that.
                “Ballad of a Politician” is another example of Regina displaying her quirkiness that made me fall in love with her music.  “Open” is another haunting song, and easily my favorite on the album. “The Party” and “Jessica” overall are not good ways to end the album. Both are a sudden departure from the previous songs which we were hearing and are kind of unremarkable in a way.
                Now looking at the album in a whole, it is definitely going to be a lot more accessible to mainstream listeners. It only has a couple of quirky songs on it, but the majority of it seems a little too “poppy” for my liking. Nothing as bad as Ke$ha or Minaj (both of which I find laughable excuses for musicians) but the influence is there. The album has a slightly less varied “feeling” to it than previous albums like “Songs” or “Far”, but this doesn’t detract overall. I was slightly disappointed, but it is definitely worth adding to your collection, and might be a good introduction to Regina for the standard Pop listener. 

You can buy the album here

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Where'd I Go? (And New Posting Schedule)

WHELP. Turns out life got a bit crazy and out of hand at the end of the year, but I've resolved the issues, and will begin posting according to this new schedule.

MONDAY: Reviews! I will post reviews using a scale of 1-10 with 5 being average. Books and CDS will be reviewed regardless of how old or new they are. Video games will be reviewed as long as they are less than 6 months old or if they are older than 4 years old. Movies will be reviewed as long as they are less than 3 months old or as long as they are older than 10 years old.

WEDNESDAY: Thoughts and Musings(and personal stories)! This will be the day when I post any musings/ramblings or thoughts on religious, social, political, or other issues which no one will likely read or care about but I will post them anyway because I like talking to myself.

FRIDAY: Entertainment! Saccharine, mindless, and/or silly stuff will be posted these days. It won't have (much) commentary. I promise. Personal photos or other things may also be posted on this day.

Weekends I'll post whatever I please.


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A young man living in North Texas. He is an actor, a Hellenistos, and a proud member of Hellenion.