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

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