Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Joy

Today a joy swells in my breast. A sudden, beautiful joy that rolls and boils, like a convection current, it rises, and it falls slightly, and rises again. This cycle continues again, and again, and again. It will not stop. What has caused this?

A few things

There are a wonderful group of kids that I get to well, sort of teach, I guess, I just ask them questions mainly, I don't have to handle the curriculum.  At any rate today they were selling shirts, and we joked around and talked, I placed an order for their shirt. They were working together so they could go on a trip for the Youth Group, and let me tell you, seeing those kids working together like that made me happy.

A woman was moved by me telling her of my dad's improving social conditions and of him finally getting a car. She was genuinely happy for him, so much so that she teared up a little bit. That moved me, and made me feel joy knowing that there are people who can rejoice in other people's joy like that. That made me happy.

A new family came to the UU Church today, a wonderful and gregarious Jewish woman. We talked for a while at some length, we smile, joked, and I asked her about Judaism. She invited me over for Sabbath Dinner sometime, and that, well that made me happy that someone would be so readily hospitable.

Reverend Pamela Watt and the intern Scottie MacIntyre Johnson gave a wonderful sermon today about overcoming the little challenges of life, and she helped even me relate to the story of Jesus's Resurrection. She showed me (and everyone else in attendance) about how it can be used as a jumping off point for behaving more kindly towards our fellows, and overcoming things that seem impossible to face sometimes. It touched me, it moved me, and it brought me joy.

Most of all though, I am happy knowing that if I walk for about two minutes, I can be at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Foundation. It makes me so happy to know that I am part of such a wonderful, beautiful, diverse, and vibrant group of people, and knowing that, that brings me more joy than I can possibly describe.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Theology of Conor: Benevolence

Are the Gods Good? Are they Bad? I sure as hell don't know, but I can tell you what I believe.

Firstly, and most importantly, I believe the Gods have flaws, their own ambitions and interests, and their own plans. They have their own reasons for doing what they do that exceeds what we mortals can now. They are also not omniscient, and don't know for certain what is going to happen in the future, though I feel that their educated guesses have a far better chance of being accurate than ours do. Again though, I reiterate that we should not confuse this improved accuracy (mostly due to their  superior insight and wisdom due to being around for such a long time) with omniscience.

The fact that they aren't omniscient means that the Gods can and do make mistakes, and the fact that they aren't all powerful means that they can't just snap their fingers and fix things. If they make a mistake, they make a mistake and we suffer the consequences.

Following from this, most (but I don't think all) Gods feel benevolence towards their worshipers, and neutrality towards those who do not, in fact, worship them (mostly, anyway). Gods bestow their blessings as they see fit, and do not invoke their wrath among people for petty reasons. A God may curse a mortal for impious acts, and behave wrathfully towards a human for any number of things including general impiety, extreme hubris, oath-breaking, and murder. General behaviors which are displeasing to a God (but which aren't 'wrath' worthy) will not invoke wrath from the deity, but rather simply cause them to cease blessing the mortal and will cause them to revoke their protection from  the mortal (and possibly his or her children as well). Deities also may set-up situations which are intended to test the mortal and make them stronger or groom them for a purpose that the God has in mind. These situations are not meant to punish, but rather make the person into a stronger human being for whatever purpose. Moving on from this, we have to ask ourselves, how do we figure out which is which? How do you figure out if your conduct is just poor or if you've actually elicited the wrath of a deity? Simply put, divination. While we may be tempted to simply sit and try to commune with the God in question, sometimes our own desires and what we want to hear can get in the way of what we should be hearing. We then stumble upon divination as the most objective way to get our answer, though if you have the capability to commune and divine, I would suggest a combination of the two.

All this in mind, I think the vast majority of Gods feel benevolent towards their worshipers and neutral about their non-worshipers(unless they wrong a devotee of theirs), does that make them good or evil? Well, no, no more than me feeling benevolent towards dogs makes me an intrinsically good or evil person. Good or evil becomes a matter of the person describing the God and not a matter of the God himself. A person seeing me as good or evil does not make me good or evil. Some people think I'm evil simply on account of being gay, for example, but that doesn't make it so. Thus, I find talking about the Immortals being 'good' or 'evil' to be useless, rather, lets talk about the benevolence, malevolence, or general nature of a God towards their worshipers.

Amaterasu leaving the cave, source: Wikipedia

Thursday, March 28, 2013


So, now, I'm starting to suspect that that Dog-God and Divine Bitch which have been plaguing my dreams (I took a nap and had another dream about them) are both actual, somethings. Gods or daimons or spirits or SOMETHING that exist and have some associations or are highly concerned with wolves or canines. I don't have a clue what they are or how they are, all I know is that they are. Maybe I need to propitiate them. I don't know.

Bad Dreams

I've been having bad dreams lately.

Mind you, I have several dreams a night, but for about a week now one of those dreams has always involved one of two characters. Now, they don't actually have names, but I've given them names.
The first character is Dog-God. He isn't a gentle, happy, friendly dog. He is the God of Dogs, he is ferocious, he is terrifying and territorial and defensive, but he can be gentle and kind too. He is very ancient, and very protective of his charges. He may appear as a wolf or a dog of any sort. The other character is the Divine-Bitch, she is the consort of Dog-God. She, like he, can appear as a wolf or dog and carries many of the same traits. Sometimes she has pups with her, sometimes she doesn't.

I've been having reoccuring dreams about these two characters. Unpleasant dreams usually. I'm being chased and hunted down by them, or I'm in a position where I have to fight them off. They are ferocious, and terrifying in all of their grandeur, and it is seriously messing up my sleeping habits. I keep tossing and turning (at least, if the state of my covers is any indicator), waking up just before these Divine Canines snap me into two pieces.

The dreams involving them aren't always bad though, for example, in one dream Dog-God brought back to life my Chihuahua that has been dead for several years. That was a pleasant dream.

Mostly though, they are unpleasant, and wholly because it is causing my sleep to be unrestful.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Cosmogony of Conor


The Unfathomable neither existed or was non-existent. It preceded the Universe, and will return when Existence is no more. The Unfathomable cannot exist within time or space and is far removed from the universe. Where reality has not been created, there resides the Unfathomable. It is neither conscious, real, fake, knowing or unknowing. The Unfathomable is. It remains when all else has ceased, and it disappears when time and space begins.

From the Unfathomable sprang our Universe, which started at the Big Bang, which was the destruction of the Unfathomable. Arising from this Big Bang were the first two Gods, Order and Chaos. Order reigned supreme, slowly shaping the Universe by its laws, but Chaos too had its use. Under the watchful eye of Order, Chaos shaped debris into planets and stars, galaxies, comets, asteroids. All things which came to be, came to be by the union of Order and Chaos. Order and Chaos enjoyed what they had set in motion, but they were tired, and had put the whole of themselves into their creation. They soaked into the Universe in restful peace.

After the Big Bang, but some time after Order and Chaos took rule, came countless Immortals. The Immortals wandered the Universe, having no purpose yet, simply being. They were young, and foolish, unfit to rule yet, but they observed. They watched Chaos and Order create, they watched them grow weak, and they saw them go to sleep. From this the Immortals understood the nature of things, what has grown conscious, must grow unconscious. What was will always be, but it will not be what it always was. The Immortals were content with this knowledge, and looked to the Universe for purpose, having in their observations become worthy to take charge.

As the stars and some planets formed, a few Immortals found their purpose. Some shared the stars and planets, knowing full well that one day, these would fade and once again they would have to seek purpose. Our star is shared by Sunna, and Helios, Amaterasu and Ra, and many others. Our planet is shared by Gaea and Danu, Terra Mater and Yhi and many others. To every planet an Immortal, or many Immortals, took solace and pride, to every star, an Immortal or many Immortals, took care and duty. In this way some Gods found purpose, but many were left without.


As time passed and Order and Chaos did their work in slumber, planets began to change. On them came weather and water, and in these things some Immortals found their place. After much time, there began to arise complex molecules, and then from there came life. Life beget other life, but at the same time destroyed other life, in this way life mimics the primordial Order and Chaos. As life grew and evolved more Immortals began to take interest. Those Immortals with an affinity for the Seas and Oceans delighted in the fish that swam in their realms, and many took them under their care and influence, and other Immortals took delight in the bacteria and virus, and in them found their place. Other Immortals delighted in the plants which began to creep upon the Earth and which existed in the depths of the oceans and in these things some Immortals found their place. As more varieties of life began to arise, more Immortals found their place. Some found their place in the beasts themselves, and others found their place in the actions and interactions of these beasts. Some even delighted in the diseases which happened, some delighted in the aggression of life, and others in their procreation. For almost every function of life some Immortal found their place and purpose.

As time went on, some Immortals took interest in other things, and thus began to have several domains. There was little conflict in this, the Immortals had no quarrels about sharing, for they had no motivation not to share. The whole of creation delighted them, and even far from our planet, other Immortals found their place on other planets, which contain creatures and things we cannot know, and Immortals who we will never know.


One day, after billions of years after the springing of Order and Chaos, things which could die took notice of that which could not. They gave offerings and sung to the Immortals, giving them names and asking for them to help. Some Immortals delighted in this, and vowed the protection and support of these creatures. As they were worshiped, they found a joy and happiness, and in this joy they found more strength. The learned these creatures were called man. Different men called the Immortals by different names, and as such some immortals may answer to many names, and some to one, and others to none at all for they took no interest in men, and thus men took no interest in them. Man made requests to the Immortals, and the Immortals fulfilled them as best they could, whenever they felt compelled. They took note of what the mortals did, and what it meant to them. Offerings and libations delighted them, and in this delight they grew stronger. Things which showed devotion delighted them and so they grew stronger, and in this dynamic the Immortals and Man formed their eternally reciprocal relationship.

As man developed, other Immortals found their delight in governing and influencing their crafts, their emotions, their loves, their desires. Some sought to be the fire which brought to fullness the inkling of concepts man had begun to have. Things like Justice and Victory and Hope and Honor. Some Immortals found their place in the many activities of man, things like War, and Farming, others found their place in the states of man, like Inebriation and Rage. Few Immortals relegated themselves to one domain only, but in this the Immortals found no conflict.

Specific groups of Immortals may have been heavily worshiped by a certain group of people, thus these Gods had to work together extensively to fulfill their requests. The Immortals inspired Man with inklings of stories so that their cooperation would be known, among their other natures. Some Immortals cooperated with many groups, others with one. In this cooperation and desire to delight men and delight in them, the Immortals sometimes found conflict. These conflicts were not met with violence among Immortals, but were met with negotiations and compromise. Some Immortals swayed others by retaliating against their worshipers and making their lives miserable, but this was a final resort. As man grew and developed, so did the number of Immortals attracted to him. The Immortals guided him, helped him, and he in turn developed rules of worship so that he could approach the Immortals with a pure heart and spirit.

While the Immortals did delight in being worshiped, and while this delight did strengthen them, they agreed that a worshiper forced into worshiping was not a delight at all, and thus the Immortals agreed that none of them will seek to steal the worshipers of the other, but rather let the hearts and minds of men come as they will. 


Man, unlike the Immortals could not live forever. If hunger, disease, war, nature, or other harsh things did not take his life, time eventually would. The Immortals of Death delighted at first, in receiving the spirits of men as companions. They, however, began to pity him and his plight, and thus conspired together on what should be done. Those who govern death decided that men would have options in death. They decided that man could be sent back to Earth to be born into a new body, and some did choose this, and thus man discovered reincarnation. They decided that man could exist on Earth with his family, and thus man discovered ancestral spirits. They decided that man could take a rest in the Underworld before making a decision, thus man came to know of this realm and these Gods. Finally, they decided that especially virtuous men and women may become Immortals in their own right, if the Immortals so choose but this must be agreed upon by all the Immortals. In this, man found some comfort.



Friday, March 22, 2013

Late Night (Poetry)

Half-formed sentences roll off my lips
A deep breath, a gasp
Pleasure, a pause
Rolling in the darkness of late night
My hands trail along your skin, smooth
Except where my hand meets hair

I wake in the middle of the night
Just enough light to make out a silhouette
Even in outline I can see your beauty
I lie there, listening to your breathing
I rub my hand across your chest and let it rest
Lying inert on your breast
I feel your heart
I close my eyes

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crossroads (Poetry)

We talked for a time
Then we parted ways
I recall a sweet scent
A gentle smile
I was a child then
A scared boy
Afraid of his classmates
Afraid of getting hurt

You built me up
You gave me hope and strength
Where I found fear and timidity
You lit a fire in a feeble heart
You started an inferno that would
(In its due time)
Consume all. A fire not to be put out
You gave me inspiration where I found stone
You gave me challenge where I found ease

You left me alone
As must happen in the course of life
We parted ways, not out of want
Out of necessity
You showed me joy in failure
What did I show you?

Maybe nothing
Maybe everything

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where You Make Your House

Reconstructionism is a method, not a religion.

In treating it as a religion, we run into a variety of problems. We begin to develop a mind-set of one-wayism. We begin to tell others around us that they are wrong, that there is a proper way to worship Demeter or Zeus or Eos or Ares or Athena. There isn't.

Now, don't get me wrong, there is and there isn't proper ways to worship the gods when you are specifically talking about the reconstructionist methodology. Embracing this methodology does not give you the ability or prerogative to criticize non-reconstructionist methods of worship. As we shift to calling reconstructionism a method for faith as opposed to a faith in of itself, I think we will better be able to tolerate and gasp,  like and enjoy the folks who are worshiping in a different manner than we are. As I said in this post, no one has a monopoly on the Gods.

Of course, I don't suggest we stop calling ourselves as such. A reconstructionist is one who reconstructs, just as an actor is one who acts. We should however, stop treating it as a religious identity.

What then, is Hellenismos? A faith which uses the reconstructionist method to revive and bring the practices of ancient Greece into the modern era, simple as that. One can be a Hellenistai and worship other Gods, be they Gaelic, Gaulish, German, Slavic, Japanese, or Roman, what you branch out into and venture into does not matter. What matters is where you've made your home.

Sihathor understands this concept easily and well. In the linked post he talks about his religious life being an "open temple". He says:
"Through the temple windows and from between the temple columns, I could see the world outside. The temple is my home, and has even been sculpted by generations of devout priests and pious people to look rather like the world in some ways,  but  is not itself the world. I found that I can bring in stones from other places to add to my Temple, or even to build roads to take me from the Temple to farther places still. I can do all this, and still return to my Temple, keeping the stones of knowledge I have gained in my travels. This is where I am now"

 I had been ruminating on this for several days now, on what is Hellenismos? How am I? Where are the boundaries of the faith? How many are there? I propose a simple concept, look at where your spiritual roots are. Ask yourself, "If I had kids, what would I teach them?" What concepts, festivals, rituals, and rites would you teach your child? Where is your house? What rites of passage would you have your child undertake as an infant? As a 5 year old? As a teen? As a young man or woman? (I'd like to add that I'm not advocating 'forcing' beliefs on kids, I am a UU as well after all.)

 I think it is useful to ask yourself these questions even if you can't or never intend to have kids. When we ask ourselves these questions we discern where our religious and spiritual cottage in. When I have kids, if I am so lucky, I will introduce them to the hearth, when they are a few years old, they will enjoy their first sip of (very) watered down wine on Anthesteria, and when they are of age, their hair will be ceremoniously cut.

This is where I've chosen to make my home, to build my house, and what I will hopefully raise my kids in. Whether I also choose to worship Epona or Odin or Baron Samedi is of no consequence, they will not be what I choose to teach my children. I don't worship any other Gods, but if I did my child would only participate with me if he or she asked to.

This is my metaphorical home. I am still building it, and it has a long way to go, I still haven't found the person to build it with yet (but, then again, maybe I have) and the process is slow, sometimes I worry the house is shaky, but no matter what I have my foundation.

Hellenism is the foundation that I have chosen to build my home on. I may choose to bring back little bits of worship from other faiths to help build my house, but Hestia is the one who lights my hearth. Not Brigid, not Vesta, only glorious and gentle Hestia.
Photo by Stephanski on Flickr

Know What You Have Learned (Γνωθι μαθων)

(DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be an expert on anything. I'm merely giving my opinions and interpretations as I see them as being applicable. We are not an absolutist faith, nor do I personally regard the Maxims as "infallible"  hence why I see the need to update things to a modern equivalency)

Maxim:  Γνωθι μαθων or "Know what you have learned"

Modern Interpretation: Don't just memorize information, understand it.

It is easy to memorize information. In fact, a lot of the typical American Public Education system is centered around and focused on simply memorizing things (though, this paradigm is shifting). This also extends to the college environment to some degree. You don't have to analyze the information sometimes, you just have to memorize it. Knowing it, well that is a different story. I can memorize the rules of logic, but can I apply them to my own arguments? Often times when people take a foreign language they just focus on literally translating words and obeying syntax as best they can. They don't attempt to fully understand the words, the cultural contexts, the connotations of the words. They focus on memorizing them.

This is an alright mode of thinking, but it doesn't lead to great things. If you just memorize information and you don't synthesize it with reasoning and your understanding in other fields you aren't doing anything with it. You aren't putting your knowledge to work or advantage. No one ever invented something new simply by memorizing facts, by understanding these facts in depth in relation to themselves and the world around them, they achieved the ability and means to realize and create new possibilities and potential. Memorization will get you by. Application, understanding, and synthesis will bring you to new horizons and possibilities.

This is a useful maxim indeed.
Created by opensourceway on Flickr

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Conor's Super Boring Aphrodite Story

I don't trust mystics.

"Oh Conor dearest, what does that have to do with your story?"

Stop interrupting me, first of all, secondly it has a lot to do with my story. I don't trust mystical experiences, and I certainly have an extremely hard time trusting any person online who claims to be in divine communion with and regularly speak to God X or Y in plain English, especially if it is a God I worship. I demand proof, and it is simple to provide proof when I worship the God or Goddess on a regular basis "Name a deal I made with them" I may ask, or I may request some other piece of knowledge that would only be between that God and I. I'm highly distrustful of mystics. I've had deeply emotional experiences with Gods, yes, I have wept during offerings before. Did the God or Goddess make me weep? Not at all, feelings of extreme reverence and awe made me weep. The most I've had was dizzy spells and the general feelings of presence of specific Gods.

Also, in case you missed it, I distrust mystics.

That may be part of the reason why the Gods communicate (when they do at all) with only what I can describe as stirrings in my heart. Things which bubble from the deep and are brought forth. That is the clearest I get usually. Even then, at times, there are certain situations which call for more concrete 'answers'.  I have found that at these times, birds give me those answers.

That is where the story begins.

September was nearing its end

I had recently broken up with a guy I had been dating for several months. We had been seeing each other every weekend practically, I helped him move, I helped  his buddy move, I even crashed at his place for a week when I was waiting to move into my house. It was wonderful, then one day, inexplicably and suddenly, he dumped me. By text message. That was. . .hard to say the least, and I took it hard. I was upset, I prayed to Aphrodite, I asked her, why did this happen to me? Why does she dislike me so much? I got no response. Nothing welled up inside me, nadda, zilch. I was disappointed, and hurt. I felt like I had no one there for real support, and I felt like I didn't have much in terms of comfort.

A couple days later, I was sitting outside, minding my business, when I suddenly noticed a folk of sparrows cavorting in the bushes. I watched them a while, and then fed them a bit of my muffin that I had been eating. Immediately, they lunged for the chunks, fighting and squabbling with each other over it. Each trying to get their piece. One hopped up near me to get hers, and I gave it, then she flew away. The next day, I did the same, and the next day I did the same. After a few days, something clicked, and I realized that I need to watch the birds, so I did.

Sparrows are marvelous little birds. They look cute, but they can and will gladly attack one another for a few scraps of food. They could perch on the brick walls and they would, then when they decided the threat was gone they'd go back to their little bush area. Frequently though, they'd hop forwards towards me, we'd make eye contact (or at least I thought we were) and then they'd fly away. It was strange, I connected with the little birds that way. I was confused though, at the time, I was bitter, and hurt, and angry because of my ex. I was confident that Aphrodite would have no part in that, so I looked up other Gods and Goddesses, and found nothing that matched better. After doing this for about a week, I would have my answer.

After my daily routine of staring at the sparrows while I ate lunch, I headed home for the day. It was a nice day, so I had my blinds open and was cleaning up my room, when suddenly I heard a slight tap-tap-tapping on my window. I looked, and there was this little sparrow just standing there. I looked at it, and it looked at me, and for a brief moment I understood. Everything would be fine, things would work in their course. Aphrodite had my best interests at heart. Stop worrying, let go.

It was a strange epiphany.

The bird flew away and never came back, but I had finally gotten the answer to my question. Aphrodite held no disdain for me, she was simply working in her order and her way, and that was a good enough answer for me. In the loss of lovers, I have lessons to learn. Things that are being taught to me, the pain had a purpose. I behaved foolishly in ever starting the relationship, because all signs pointed towards the end result, but I kept the rose-colored glasses on. I learned that you cannot ignore the signs of arrogance and selfishness. I learned a lot.

A short time after this, I went on another date. The first guy I gave a chance after Mr. Text-Message break-up. We have been together since mid-October.  I'm grateful for him in my life. I have no worries other than being the best boyfriend I can be. What Aphrodite wills, will be.

I only need look at a sparrow to be reminded of this.
By Kitty Terwolbeck

Sunday, March 17, 2013

These are my Friends

The more I hang out with Neo-Pagan folks, talk to them, discuss with them the more I realize that they are indeed, in fact, undoubtedly, definitely different from the various Hellenistai I know. The more I hang out with them though, the more familiar I get with their ways of doing things, their way of seeing things, and yes, their modes of worship. I was talking to a friend today, and in the course of the conversation I remarked "It is disappointing that many reconstructionists divorce themselves from the Neo-Pagan community" I know I'm probably going to get some flak from some people for making that statement, but I wholly believe it.

They know more than you think.

Okay, some (read, one, and I haven't talked to her face to face since High School)  of my real life Neo-Pagan friends ARE kind of fluffy. They have a lot of misinformation about certain things, and they white-wash deities of all their darker characteristics, I will readily admit to that. On the other hand, the vast majority (indeed, probably 70-90 percent) of Neo-Pagans that I have talked to KNOW their stuff, and I mean KNOW it, they are versed in the lore, some ancient practice, ancient cultures, influences, even taboos. It goes on, they know what they are talking about, and if they DON'T know something, they are more than willing to learn, they don't remain willfully ignorant, they go "Oh, that's cool" and the discussion continues. I'm going to let out a little secret, the crazy, annoying, and willfully ignorant fluffsters largely exist within the realms of cyberspace. These means that yes, they do exist in real life, but online can make it seem like there are so many more of them than are actually out there.

We also sometimes worship the same Gods. This morning while I was waiting for the service to start at my local UU church, a friend and I had a short discussion on Hestia. It struck me very suddenly that despite our differences in practices, we both "know" her the same. We both remarked on her gentleness, her mildness. We both remarked on her gentle warmth, and discussed how different she is from Brigid. I have come to "know" her through the offerings I give her, and through the honor I pay her. My friend had come to know her through a Drawing Down ritual. From my understanding, a Drawing Down ritual is vastly different from the usual Hellenic offering rite. Yet there we are, both praising her for her gentle nature.

Sure, sometimes Gods like Hekate, or Artemis are (usually) viewed wildly differently among Neo-Pagans than they are (usually) viewed among reconstructionists, and these differences are perfectly alright. As long as they aren't disrespectful, it doesn't matter. How do we know they are wrong? Many recons try to claim a certain supremacy over Neo-Pagans due to our practice being rooted in tradition, and being somewhat consistent. I don't think that is okay, I think it is an attempt to claim more legitimacy than Neo-Pagans, which I don't think is true. If Athena, or Hermes, or Helios had an issue with being worshiped in a Wiccan circle, don't you think they'd be able to show that themselves? I think they would, I think the Gods are fully capable of making their displeasure known, if they have any at all.

Why then am I a Reconstructionist? Firstly, community, for myself, for my children, a shared faith and practice is important to me. I find satisfaction and pleasure in it. I also feel called to it, as odd as that may sound. I do think that the Gods would like their traditions revived and brought back. It is UPG, yes, but it is what I feel. However, I also feel that the Gods don't mind, and support (yes support) their worship in the Neo-Pagan movement. Why? As I told Ms. Coyle on Teo Bishop's blog Post "It takes all sorts" and I firmly believe that. Reconstructionism is for certain folks, and the Neo-Pagan flavors are for certain folks, and I want both of us to thrive. In the worship of the Gods, we DO have to find what suits US and do it, we have to figure out what we want, and do it. I am fully confident that the Gods will lead us to where we are best suited, but to do that the options have to be out there. Reconstructionism is not superior to Druidry or Eclecticism or Wicca, if it was I imagine the Gods would tell those folks. Plus, how can I flat out say they are wrong? I'm sure the Gods are more grand, big, and complex than I can picture.

These Neo-Pagans are my friends, I go to their circles, and when I remember I help them clean up trash. Some of them give me advice when I need it, some of them help me prep for drag shows, some of them let me sit in their plant room and soak up the sun during the winter. These people are my friends. I, and no one else, has the right to look at them and say "you are doing it wrong". These people are utterly devoted to their Gods, they give honor and praise. They are hospitable, kind, and patient with me, and I am ever thankful for it. Many of them exhibit the virtues that us Hellenistai hold most dear, and certain recons can't even demonstrate xenia to a curious Neo-Pagan.

These are my friends.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Respect Your Parents (Γονεις αιδου)

(DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be an expert on anything. I'm merely giving my opinions and interpretations as I see them as being applicable. We are not an absolutist faith, nor do I personally regard the Maxims as "infallible"  hence why I see the need to update things to a modern equivalency)

Maxim:  Γονεις αιδου or "Respect your Parents"

Modern Interpretation: Respect your Parents

Truth be told, this maxim is one of the more difficult ones for me. My dad has not been a role model, he is a substance abuser, let my sister drop out of high school, he was emotionally and verbally abusive (physically too on occasion) growing up, was terrible with finances. . .the list goes on. I sit there and ask myself "how can I respect a man like that?" So I had to ask myself, can I actually respect and put this maxim into play in my life?

I eventually decided that I could.

Respect means not just holding someone in high-esteem, but it can also mean holding them in special regard. Even if my dad is a person that I can't respect by the common definition, I can respect him by giving him a special status. He and my mother brought me into this world, so both are held in special esteem and they both get specially honored at times (though, my mother more often as the dead get honored more frequently). I, however, have very little filial piety when it comes to my father. I consider his requests, but I do not defer to him, I am independent of him (one of the advantages of being dirt poor. You achieve independence quicker.) and I am the head of the family, he and I've discussed this, it is understood. This complex dynamic is yet another reason that this maxim is more difficult to apply to my life, but, it has been possible.

Hopefully he will shape up into the man who makes this sort of thing easy.

Since I feel like I aired out some dirty laundry, here is a picture of some dirty laundry.

Pillow Non-Talk (Poetry)

You run your hands through my hair
Fingers get locked on tangles
Yet you push through
We both stare blankly for a moment
The moment lulls
And we enjoy each others presence
Before I become dashing and chatty
Before we both become. . .embroiled

The moment lulls
And like smoke, my anxieties

Nothing so strange

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I took a puff. Just an E-Cigarette, nothing too nasty or harmful.
I exhaled it quickly, a cloud of smoke came trailing out, in a rush towards my computer screen, then dispersed throughout the air.
I took another puff. This time I let it slowly trickle out of my mouth at its own pace, flowing out like smoke from a campfire.
I took another puff. Now, I did not let it out of my mouth, but rather, out through my nostrils. The flavor, is mint, and it leaves them feeling open, refreshed, gentle, alive.

Something feels right about the smoke, the image it creates. The sight of it, the feeling of inhaling. I find myself wishing I could get something without the nicotine, in it, something that will just let me inhale, and exhale smoke.

I continued watching the smoke, watched it tendril. form shapes and forms before dissolving away. I've been thinking for months now, about who I am. At my core. What I will be. Where I'm going. Longer than a few months I suppose, a lot longer, but it has been building these past few months.

There is a fire in me. I can't help but wonder, is my passion, my desire the expression? Or is it the fuel?

Only one way to find out.

Lesson 19: Hellenion the Organization Part 1

1. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of Reconstructionism?
What attracts you to it?
2. Hellenion's Mission Statement allows for a very broad range of historical
beliefs and practices. What challenges does this present? What makes an
inclusive, "big tent" approach work (if you think it does)?

1) The strengths of reconstructionism are apparent, we have traditions to
extract from, we have a "this is us, this is not us" and we have guidelines we
can follow and traditions that (some at least) are well documented and attested
to. Thus, we can say that while we are a "new" religion, we are at the same time
building from an old one, which helps avert some the derision that faiths like
Mormonism and Scientology get for being more recent. On the downside,
reconstructionism breeds rigidity, it breeds hostility by people trying to
decide if someone is "Hellenic" enough. It also creates a false dilemma, one
that is largely due to our Christian culture. The "issue" stems from many recons
automatically assuming /believing that because a person worships a non-Hellenic
God they cannot be a recon. They may make exceptions for Egyptian and Roman
deities, but Gaelic, Germanic, or Japanese deities are "off-limits" to these
folks. That is just silly. If the Greeks had "access" and a thorough
understanding of Japanese Gods, I have no doubts that they would have eventually
found their way into Greek religion. If Greece was next to Japan and Germany
we'd be in the same boat (regarding syncreticism with them or acceptance of
their influence). I reiterate, reconstructionism is not mimicry, and we don't
have to hold the same personal beliefs as the Greeks. Reconstructionism's
greatest flaw is its tendency among some to devolve into mere imitation and

As for my draw towards reconstructionism, I can't quite say entirely. There is
of course, the support, the knowledge of a shared practice, and the focus on the
group and family over it being all about your spiritual development that is
quite nice, but there is something more. Something about it that just feels
inherently right for me, despite the struggles that come with it.

2) The biggest challenge comes from people having this illusion of uniformness
of belief and practice, and when that illusion is shattered it can create quite
a bit of dissonance for some folks. It also means that when people move from
town to town they may have to go through a period of adjustment to the new
Demos's way of doing things. They may come from a Demos that relies heavily on
Boetian sources, for example, or maybe Spartan, but their new Demos may rely
heavily on Athenian or be Panhellenic in practice. This thought and fact may
take some getting used to. As for the "Big Tent" that we have in Hellenion, I'd
say it works fine as long as we approach one another with respect and realize
that we are all drawn together and united by our worship of the Immortals. We
are united by their blessings and graces, and keeping that in mind will make it
far easier to respect, support, and encourage our other members, keep our
general morale up, and grow as an organization.

I may have gotten excited and pinned my welcome letter to my wall. Maybe.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Devotional to Athena

This is a daily devotional to Athena that I designed. I have had a couple people make requests for devotionals and stuff, so this is the first one I have decided to make available.I would also like to note that all this was/is hand-written in a blank journal so I can't just copy/paste things for y'all. I feel that writing it down in a journal first is a great thing, because it makes you think very carefully about what you have written and selected to include in the devotional.

A few more notes, as I have typed this as I have it written a few personal assumptions are made, because I wrote it myself. This is mainly evident in the THUSIA section. I assumed that incense would be burned, and libations would be made. Also be aware that this is designed to be performed at a personal shrine, hence why there is no procession and why the purification is more simple. I have not designed it to be performed at a blazing altar, but it could easily be altered (see what I did there?) to be done as so.

Wash hands and face with khernips. Sprinkle water around shrine.


Homeric Hymn to Hestia:
Hail, daughter of Kronos, Now I will remember you, and another song also.

Homeric Hymn to Athena:
Of Pallas Athena, guardian of the city, I begin to sing. Dread is she, and with Ares she loves the deeds of war, the sack of cities and the battle. It is she who saves the people as they go to war and come back. Hail, goddess, and give us good fortune and happiness.

Orphic Hymn to Athena:
Only-begotten, noble race of Zeus, blessed and fierce, who joyest in caves to rove
O warlike Pallas, whose illustrious kind, ineffable and effable we find
Magnanamous and famed, the rocky height, and groves, and shady mountains thee delight
In arms rejoicing, who with furies dine and wild souls of mortals dost inspire. Gymnastic virgin of terrific mind, dire Gorgon's bane, unmarried, blessed, kind
 Mother of arts, impetuous; understood as fury by the bad, but wisdom by the good. Female and male, the arts of war are thine, o much-formed Drakina, inspired divine
Over the Phlegraion gigantes, roused to ire, thy courses driving dire. Tritogenia of splended mien, purger of vils, all victorious queen. Hear me, o Goddess, when to thee I pray, with supplicating voice, both night and day, and in my latest hour give peace and health, propitious times, and necessary wealth, and ever present be thy votaries aid, o much implored, art's parent, blue-eyed maid.

Homeric Hymn to Athena:
I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, savior of cities, courageous, Tritogenia. From his awful head wise Zeus himself bare her arrayed in warlike arms of flashing gold, and awe seized all the gods as they gazed. But Athena sprang quickly from the immortal head and stood before Zeus who holds the aegis, shaking a sharp spear
 Great Olympos began to reel horribly at the might of the grey-eyed goddess, and Earth round about cried fearfully, and the sea was moved and tossed with dark waves, while foam burst forth suddenly.
The bright son of Hyperion stopped his swift-footed horses a long while, until the maiden Pallas Athena had strippede the heavenly armor from her immortal shoulders. And wise Zeus was glad. Hail to you, daughter of Zeus who holds the aigis

Orphic Hymn to Hestia
Daughter of Kronos, venerable dame, who dwellest amidst great fire's eternal flame; in sacred rites these ministers are thine, mystics much blessed, holy and divine. In thee the Gods have fixed their dwelling place, strong, stable basis of the mortal race. Eternal, much formed, ever florid queen, laughing and blessed, and of lovely mien; accept these rites, accord each just desire, and gentle helath and needful good inspire.

Give thanksgiving and prayers to Athena

'Athena! Come now and accept my offering!'
Give to Hestia the first, then to Athena, then to Hestia the last.

Sit, contemplate, and then leave silently

Shrine to Hermes

My shrine to Hermes. Fun story, I bought the bowls through amazon. Whoever the seller was Engrished it up, and I thought they were about 1/5th the size that they actually are. So all the other shrines have these about 2 inch diameter bowls, Hermes' shrine has bowls that are well, far bigger, as you can see

A Brief History of Myself (Part One)

I've gained quite a few readers these past few months.
I know often times we "dehumanize" bloggers. We forget that they are people with names, faces, personalities, and histories.
Let me try to prevent that.
I'm going to be real with everyone, and this post is going to be very personal.

I was conceived out of wedlock. My mom was 18 at the time, and my dad was 23, they struck quite an odd pair. My dad, a 6 foot 2 inch roofer, blonde and stout. My mom, a petite brunette, who even (later) at 25, made more than a few people think she was a teen-mom. After my mom and dad found out they had conceived a child, they got married. There was no wedding, they went to the courthouse, got the paper work done, and that was that.

My birth was as unexpected as the pregnancy. I got off to a rough start, you see. I was born on June 22nd, they were expecting me to be born on August 25th. Even being so pre-mature, my mom still had to have a C-Section. The doctors told my parents that they should be prepared to lose me, and my early birth had more than a few members of my family worried. Apparently, my grandmother prayed incessantly, and my dad was relatively confident that I would survive. Obviously, I did, and I still bare the scars from all the needles they had in me on my hands and feet.

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas. 

I don't remember much from my early-childhood, I recall my brother being born (but not my sister), I recall getting an Etch-A-Sketch and attempting to call my "Pretzels" on the phone, but like I said, I don't remember much. My most fond memories though, are with my mom. She is probably the biggest reason why I love video games so much, she got me started early. I remember playing A Link to the Past with her, Yoshi's Island, various Mario Games, I remember my dad fixing the cartridge when it malfunctioned. I remember when they got me a Nintendo 64 for my fifth birthday (I think it was my 5th). My mom home-schooled me too, for a while anyway.

I didn't have many friends growing up. Just dogs. And stuffed animals.

We traveled with my dad a lot, we lived everywhere. From Georgia, to Rising Star, Texas, to Virginia, to Indiana, to Arizona. We traveled, a lot. It stopped for a time though when we moved to Corisicana, Texas. We stayed in this trailer on some property that my cousin owned, and we had dogs, specifically pit bulls, and we had a lot of them. I got to ride around on a four-wheeler some days and feed them. As a child, it was fun. My dad was into dog fighting though. That, that was not fun. It was terrifying to watch, though my dad eagerly wanted us to go along with him. I recall seeing it once, then never wanting to see it again.

Dad and mom argued, a lot. They yelled at each other, sometimes my mom would wail on my dad, they bickered and fought, and it was terrifying. To this day, yelling gets me pretty distraught. Eventually, it all culminated and came to a head, my mom moved out into a different house, still in Corisicana as far as I know.

It was boring in this house, and sometimes we didn't have much food. I remember eating a lot of pancakes, and my mom tried everything to spice them up. I remember her mixing applesauce in with them once, I don't remember what they taste like. I had my video games, of course, but that is all I had. The only kids around were my siblings and I. We played outside a lot, we'd lie on the ground and see if we could convince vultures we were dead (which to us was when they circled over you in the sky) and I played with bugs. My dad got us on the weekends, life was uneventful.

I got grounded one week, from my Nintendo. Forbidden to play it, my only real source of entertainment, it was, as I recall, from hiding in a clothes rack and getting separated from my mom while in a store. I was very upset about this, especially whenever I understood fully what grounding meant. At any rate, my dad came to pick us up, and I was still pretty mad about the whole getting grounded thing honestly. That weekend visit lasted a lot longer than usual.

That weekend, my mother died.

At the time, rumors were flying, some people had accused my dad of killing her, some people were saying she got stung by bees, some were saying that she fell into a ditch drunk with fire ants and had been eaten alive. The truth is that she had overdosed on methamphetamine while partying at our landlord's house. I didn't find this out until I was 15 and I had stumbled across the death certificate.

My dad broke the news. At the time, I was playing a computer game (we didn't have a computer, I was fascinated by them). I was told my dad needed to tell us something, and he told us "mom died". I thought he was talking about his mom, and at that age, I didn't care much. I didn't cry, then I realized he was talking about my mom, and I did cry. Not a lot, but enough to wet my face.  After, I went back to playing my computer game. It had a bus.

I don't remember much of anything for a while after this.

One of the few pictures I have of my mom.
My first time stepping foot into a public school was 3rd Grade. Castleberry Elementary. My first teacher was Ms. Skilles, and whose name I could not pronounce due to a speech impediment. I called her Ms. Sk-Skittles. At the time, my family (all four of us) was living in a small trailer in a trailer park. It was in River Oaks, if I remember right, pretty close to the levy. I had a hard time fitting in with the other students. I was extremely awkward ( a good student though) and didn't have a lot of social finesse. I made friends, eventually, then around January we moved. To Arlington, to Dunn Elementary. If memory serves correct, our address was 2412 Southcrest.

I had a hard time making friends.

A very hard time, in fact, I had none. 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade I was at this school, and I never made a single friend. I got bullied a lot though, I had a lisp, I stuttered, I was awkward. I was a good student though. I was well-behaved. We had money at this time too, you see, my dad had started working for the cartel. I don't know what he was doing (and I still don't) but I do know he was involved, we had a nice house. He had a nice suburban vehicle with a TV in it. We had nice things, he could afford Chrystal and hookers (and I don't say either of those as a joke.) We didn't have to worry about food. Then one day, the money stopped. I don't know what happened exactly, but I know he stopped working for the guy. A lot of their guys were getting killed, and it scared my dad enough apparently. The guy owed him a nice chunk of money that my dad never got. We wound up eating a lot of rice and beans, my dad ended up defaulting on his mortgage for the house, he wound up totaling his suburban, and he pretty much lost everything. This happened in the 5th grade. We wound up living with my grandparents for a while, then wound up back in River Oaks.

That neighborhood had a lot of drugs.

We lived in duplexes, poor, cheap, and run-down duplexes. Our neighbor was a schizophrenic. A nice man though. My dad had a lot of friends around, and he had started experimenting with some drugs. I don't know what he took one day, but it made him hallucinate. He thought there were snakes everywhere in the  house, he tried killing them. He destroyed a lot of stuff, it was terrifying. None of us really knew what was going on, and after it was all said and done we were a bit more afraid of the house because of it. Eventually my dad lost this duplex as well, he couldn't pay, and we wound up staying with an aunt, than my grandmother, then Hurricane Rita hit and my dad had another storm to chase. 

It went down-hill from there.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lesson 18: Community Resources Part 2

1) Do you know of any lists, boards, etc. that are supportive of our religion?
2) Have any of these forums been particularly helpful to you in learning about
Hellenic polytheism?Do you know other lists that you think should be included
here for the next class?

1) Well, aside from the ones mentioned I know of a facebook page called Hellenic
Devotion which I co-admin, I am the moderator of r/HellenicPolytheism on reddit
as well. Aside from those two, ADF is supportive, but they definitely aren't
reconstructionists, and there are always the jillions of blogs out there as

2) Honestly, when I first started digging into stuff they were more harmful than
helpful. The folks at scared me away for a bit, and caused me to
go through a fairly rough time, which Cara thankfully helped to rectify.
Overtime, I've learned and gotten a better grasp on those people that are toxic
and those that are constructive, and that is when the forums and web groups have
started to be more constructive than harmful. I am completely biased, but I
really do think that r/HellenicPolytheism could be helpful to some folks.

The internet is a strange place

Fall (Poetry)

It broke
I heard it fall
Straight down into that chasm
The one where piglets lay rotting

It made a dull and sullen thud when it hit

It broke
I heard it fall
Straight down into that chasm
The one where steam and sulfur rises

It made a loud and sharp sound when it hit
I won't see it again

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lesson 17: Community Resources 1

1. Check out your local resources and discuss them.
2. How do Hellenic Reconstructionists interact with other Recon or non-Recon pagans? Are there any other Recon groups (Asatru, Celtic Recon, etc.) in your area?
3. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of getting involved with eclectic or pan-pagan groups? What experiences have you had, good or bad?
4. If you have a local Demos, what does it offer to the local community?

  1)      My local resources mainly consist of the CUUPS group which I attend every now and then. While I don’t necessarily share their practices, the people there have given me some lovely advice and have been instrumental in me effectively cope with the struggles that come with being a very, very, very small faith
  2)      Most Hellenic Reconstructionists tend to be very hostile towards Neo-Pagan groups (I have noticed) and tend to be cordial towards Hindus, Asatru, CRs, and the like. I think we might need to modify this schema at some point in the future as it has been a driving force behind us obsessing over folks *personal* practice being “Hellenic enough” while neglecting the fact that Hellenismos is largely group practice and world view. It has caused us to get agitated over things like magic and worshipping non-traditional deities such as Susano or Freyja. These are irrelevant. As for groups in my area, I know there are some Asatruar in Dallas and some CRs in Houston. There are Hellenists scattered throughout the state, but largely concentrated in the DFW metroplex. 

  3)      The advantages are pretty broad, you get in with various pagan groups, you raise awareness about Hellenismos, and you get to alleviate some loneliness. The raising awareness part is especially vital, I didn’t even know Reconstructionism existed at first and thought it was just a fantasy in my head.  The disadvantages include social stressors due to often radically differing opinions, and the possibility of enhancing feelings of loneliness by feeling alienated from the group. It may also sway some more malleable members from forgoing reconstructionism for Eclecticism, which I have seen happen on a couple of occasions. Overall, I’d say it is more of a boon than a bane to get involved with the Pan-Pagan community. After all, we won’t grow by just tending our own fires, we need to let people know we are a valid, fulfilling, and wonderful option. 

  4)      Right now Xenia doesn’t technically offer anything to the community, however we are currently in the process of organizing some service projects with other groups and amongst ourselves.

A participant at Xenia's recent Libation to Hephaestus

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Code of the Zombie Pirate (Review)

Recently I read a rather interesting and quirky title known as "The Code of the Zombie Pirate". The title says it all, the book is a faux guidebook on how to efficiently  and effectively run/manage a crew of zombie pirates. The book assumes a few things about zombies for its premise. First, it assumes that they are made with the assistance of "voodoo priests" (book's spelling), that they can convert people with bites and scratches, and that each zombie is bound to a person and that person can have many zombies at their bidding. Oh yeah, it also assumes it is the 1700s.

The book starts off pretty interesting and humorous, the author's writing style and language comes off easily, and it makes it pretty damn easy to read. . .to start with anyway. Kenemore is rather fond of dropping the f-bomb, and he establishes this pretty early on in the book. The first few chapters address the advantages of piracy, the reasons for it, and the advantages of having zombie pirates on your crew and why your crew should only consist of zombie pirates. The author makes a lot of silly little assumptions about how you should appear, like the "intimidating factor" of a rotting boa, and how you should wear moldy cloths that are falling apart. Not surprisingly, a lot of the advice early in the book contradicts or makes it much harder to follow the advice in the later part of the book. How are you going to hold jewels in your pocket if they are rotting? What good is a leather strap to hold guns when it is falling apart?

Now these complaints might seem a tad silly. You might be going "But Sir Doctor HRM OB/GYN Professor Counselor Lieutenant Conor, the whole thing is supposed to be a joke!" Which, to be fair, is try, but the book misses the mark a lot of times. Some parts were as dry and boring as a math textbook, while others were just hilarious. Sadly, Mr.Kenemore seems to have used up all his joke material in the first half of the book. Once you get past chapter 12 it is all the same recycled zombies are terrifying, or pirates are really grody and crude and like annoying European navies. Some of the things in the later half of the book were intriguing, engaging, and interesting (such as his suggestion on how to deal with sea monsters) but it just got so much harder to read. I had to force myself through several chapters.

Don't let my complaints fool you though, it is an entertaining enough book, but definitely not one that you just sit down and read. I'd say it is more of an airplane book or a bathroom reader.

Score: 6/10 brains

(On my scale, a 5 is average)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lesson 16: Athenian Rites of Death

1)  Do you have a will?

2) Have you spoken to friends and family about your wishes after death?

3) Is it important to you to have Hellenic rites performed?

1)      No I do not, mainly because I am 19 and not anticipating dying anytime soon. I know that I COULD die at any point technically, but the probability is pretty low, so I haven’t seen the need to make a will yet. Plus, I have no assets, and the person who would pay for the funeral at this point would be my grandparents. They wouldn’t tolerate anything but a Christian funeral, so it would be pretty useless for me to have a will at this point.

2)      Only passingly, and not too seriously. Mainly we have talked about what it would be like to die, and whether we want to be cremated or buried, stuff like that. Nothing too serious yet.

3)      At this point in my life, I would say it is very important, hence why I’m trying to put off dying until I can “die properly”. I know it can be kind of expensive, and I’m not sure of if I’ll be able  discharge the duty to a family member so hopefully I will cultivate some strong friendships between now and death.  

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About Me

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