Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pagan Survey Responses

So Elizabeth over on Twilight and Fire is conducting a survey. I highly suggest that you go check it out and send it to her! These are my responses. 

1. Name (real or “Craft name”)
Conor O'Bryan Warren

2. VALID email address (Please write it here even if it’s the same one you’re emailing me from! I ask for this so that I can contact you if I have a question about your replies.)

3. Age, gender, geographic location (country, state/province, and/or city).
20, Male, North Texas

4. How long have you been Pagan/polytheistic?
Since February 2012

5. What is your tradition (i.e. Wiccan, reconstructionist Heathen, eclectic, etc.)

6. Do you have any patron gods/goddesses or deities you are especially close to? If so, who are They?
'Patron' deities are different than in the Pan-Pagan community. My patrons (due to my various statuses) are Aphrodite, Athene, Hermes, Apollo, and Zeus. Gods I feel very close to are Athene, Hermes, and Aphrodite

7. How do you define your own relationship(s) to the gods? For instance, do you view one or more of Them as your beloved or spouse, or are They more like parents to you? Do you consider Them friends, allies, mentors? All of the above? None of the above? How does this differ between various gods?
To me the Gods are ultimately the Gods, defining them as a whole in terms of human relationships is very strange and complicated to me. Ultimately, to express it in clearest terms I think they are a kind of mentor, but also the giver of good things. They want us to learn and better ourselves and bless us with good things but will also not coddle us. Of the Olympians my feelings are as follows. Athene feels like a mentor and guide to me. Hermes feels like a 'buddy' and protector. Aphrodite feels *almost* like a mother to me, or something very grand and very compassionate and very kind towards me. Ares I feel distant towards. Zeus is a complex God who confuses me and I have difficulty connecting to at all, but I also recognize his power, and the same goes for Hera. They are a grand and complicated pair whose power and might is underestimated among some, they are the King and Queen for a reason. Apollo is a powerful God who I respect, but who I also feel a confusing mixture of closeness and distance to. Artemis I have had little experience with. Demeter I sense as being a motherly and mighty figure, while I have not had enough interaction with Poseidon to make an assessment. Hephaestus seems to be a diligent and good God and Hestia I have come to know as gentle, kind, with a quiet and stern might. Her power is great and her nature is very gentle and sympathetic.

8. How do you define “piety” as it relates to Paganism/modern polytheism?
For me piety is honoring the Gods as you should. It is giving them worship and respect, it is thanking them for the good things in your life and giving back a bit of what they give to you. It is acknowledging them and thanking them for their blessings. In addition it also consists of behaving properly, upholding oaths and promises, and performing specific acts for their honor alone.

9. Do you find this to be a useful or relevant term concerning your own relationship with the gods? Is it relevant to Paganism/modern polytheism in general?
Goodness yes it is relevant, important, and vital to all Pagan faiths in my opinion. When you remove the pious nature of acts, rituals, and thanksgiving you wind up doing it just to entertain yourself or for theatrical reasons and that is kind of disgusting in my opinion. We need to focus more on piety and less on ourselves in my opinion, the modern pagan movement is very much an egotistical movement. I think this is due to many folks coming to it out of a reaction rather than for theological reasons (as many people leave the church not for theological reasons but for social ones.) Those of us who left the church due to theology and embraced a 'pagan' faith due to theology tend to be more focused on piety in my opinion.

10. Is it possible to be pious without an established dogma or authority? Why or why not?
Yes, however I think it can be a tad more difficult. The fact of the matter is that EVERY pagan has dogma to some degree or the other, it is just the way of things, however being pious for a Hellenist consists of just making offerings and observing the household rites. We don't need an authority. Move on to the Cananite and Middle Eastern polytheistic faiths and well, things change. It depends on the tradition, but authority figures can and do help.

11. Is there anything you consider impious (i.e. behavior, modes of worship)? Why?
Oh Gods yes, people who are doing things simply for the 'entertainment' value of it are being impious as they are disrespecting the sacred nature of rites and sacrifices. Folks who render due honor in a respectful manner are being pious, folks who do it in a disrespectful way are being impious. I consider performing ritual and sacrifice while tainted with miasma to be impious(purity is essential. The Gods do not look favorably upon prayers when you are tainted with miasma), and I also consider conflating one's self with the Gods to be impious (for reasons that should be obvious).

12. Are you for or against the establishment and observance of rules about piety in your particular tradition and/or within Pagan/polytheist religion in general? Please explain your response.
Yes and no. On the one hand I think it could be helpful in curtailing some ego-centric behaviors, on the other hand I think it could cause even more fracturing within certain groups and schisms that would just be awful. Furthermore, there is a lot of complexity in actually defining this stuff, I mean, who decides what? How? With a central authority? What about people who don't comply? It simply wouldn't work. I lean far more towards no on this, I think we should curtail impious behavior within our own temples/temenos/demos/maestrum/jinja/etc by simply talking with folks and keeping ourselves real and honest about what we do and don't want.

13. Further comments, thoughts, observances?
I think a lot of the fear of piety comes from the Christian background of many Pagans and the fact that they left as a reaction and not due to theological reasons. Anything that remotely resembles Christianity they will decry and they will always, always, always decry it because it reminds them of that which they didn't like and so they assume it must be inherently 'un-Pagan' while being unaware of the fact that most pre-Christian polytheistic cultures did have standards and regulations for piety and impiety, and many current polytheistic faiths have standards for piety and impiety. To pretend they didn't is to deny history and deny the way things have been and currently are. Our standards will develop for our own individual faiths in their own time, some of us have standards already, others will have to wait, and others won't ever care enough to develop standards of piety.

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