Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Show today 7/31 at 5:30 PM

Have a show today, 7/31 at 5:30 PM. I will be re-telling a variety of Greek myths!

Have a listen, it'll be fun!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dare [Poetry]

How dare the waves crash upon the shore!
How dare the tide roll in and out!
When you've lost all you've known
How dare the world continue on its own

How dare the sun rise in the east!
How dare the moon be full and bright!
Death is the harshest mortal plight
The darkest midnight a man ever knows

How dare I continue to live?
How dare they continue to give.
The asymmetry of experience and lifetimes
Uneveness, of this we can be certain

Oh Gods, wonderful and great
A boy so wicked I never did see
Than that handsome fellow in the mirror
Who dares pose as me

Monday, July 29, 2013

Know Your Opportunity (Καιρον γνωθι)

(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)

Maxim: Καιρον γνωθι or "Know your opportunity"

How many times have you missed out on something great (or at least something good) merely because you did not hear the faint knock of opportunity at your door? I know that I have had this happen time and time again. The reasons are many and varied, but the most common and tragic reason for missing out on something wonderful is simply fear.

It is one of the eternals of the human condition. To survive and thrive we must be cautious and plan carefully, but to truly prosper we have to take a chance and take advantage of the opportunities we are given. Oftentimes doing this can be hard and scary. We have to wade into cold and sometimes unforgiving waters where we may have to struggle to fully take advantage of the situation we have  been given.

In this maxim there is also a warning to be cautious. When you take it into conjunction with the "Know yourself" maxim that we previously looked at, it is a clear call to truly know what opportunities are and are not yours to take. Sometimes we get greedy or overambitious and get ourselves into places and things that are more than we can handle and we end up damaging ourselves (mentally or physically) and more often than not damaging those around us. Hence being honest with yourself is essential in assessing and determining if you should or should not take a chance.

Think twice, leap once.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I'm a Jerk

I'm a jerk.

For real. When I play Monopoly, I go for blood every time. Be I in first place or last place, I am merciless, conniving, and absolutely eat my opponents alive. I hold no prisoners, everyone is executed on the spot and as soon as possible. When someone is terribly, terribly, terribly incorrect about something, I just don't let them know, I let everyone else know too. I once bullied a girl in high school because she was weird and had a mustache.

Oh forgive me father, for I have sinned.

See, the thing about the internet is that you only know as much or as little as I am willing to tell you. I can paint the portrait of myself however I please, be it what I write on here or what I write on social media. The above paragraph could have just as easily been lauding my own virtues. I could have made myself seem like a caring and nurturing person. A lovely and compassionate boy with nothing but goodness in his heart.

But I'm not. I'm human.

So is everyone else you read and interact with online.

Everyone is painting a picture of how they want to be perceived and looked at, whether they or we are aware of it or not. We are all shooting for a particular image, be it the compassionate and contemplative wanderer, the mindful druid,  the savior of the faith, or the crazed priest of Dionysos.  We are all making an image.

Now this isn't to say that these things are fake or not real. Often times our image is an outward and acted expression of who we are inside, but we do do things to reinforce, repair, salvage, or establish certain traits that we want to have associated with our personal image. Whether the image is true or false time will eventually bare witness to it, but online you can go for years (truly, years) without your image being exposed as phony. You have more time to think about actions when you are online, to think about posts and points. When you meet someone in person you get a more balanced view of who they are, a deeper fullness of character. The more time you spend with someone, the more you fully realize who they are fully and wholly. It is why two people can be madly in love and then six months later be repulsed with one another, and why two people can feel no chemistry at first glance and be getting married three years later and then staying married.

It is why they say never meet your idols. Their humanity destroys your idealization of them. It tears down the image that they have created and that you have credited as being their wholeness. You realize that what you thought you knew was merely illusion, with certain traits being upplayed and others being cast into shadow. Throughout this all, through this realization, I ponder, what kind of image have I created? Do I care? As much as I would like to say I don't, a small part of me does. Another part of me wishes that my readers could see me as who I am more fully. I wish I could sit down and have coffee with many of my readers and many of the people I read myself. But I can't, not yet anyway. Maybe someday.

Remember, even Oprah poops.

by Joe Crimmings Photography on flickr

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hymn to Zeus [Original Hymn]

Zeus, much honored king
Bringer of Justice
How shall I sing of your gifts?
How shall I know your justice?
Father of many
Proud and terrible God
How many before me have called to you?
How many after me will?
Only you know, glorious king
Hail, loud-thundering Zeus.

Zeus taken by crafterm on Flickr

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Equate with Care

Recently, I've been seeing some talk on if deities like Helios, Ra, and Sol Invictus are all the same God or entirely separate Gods. The biggest driving force behind this seems to be the small little fact that we only have one sun. If we only have one sun, then it kind of makes it hard to maintain a completely hard polytheistic stance for certain individuals. Therefore, they equate solar deities with relative disregard for whether or not those deities share the same domains or fulfill similar roles. You also run into the fact that in some cultures the sun deity is female and not male. The most two prominent examples for me are Sunna and Amateratsu. So if your logic is simply "All Sun deities are the same deity" and you equate Ra with Amateratsu then you are generating a bit of a problem.

Generally when folks equate two deities they equate deities of the same gender. Hence why people don't tend to say that Hera is the same as Indra or that Isis is the same as Apollon. However, by saying that Amateratsu is the same as Ra you 'break' this 'rule' and therefore have to open yourself up to other interpretations. If we are equating gods only on what natural phenomena they are associated with, why don't we equate say Zeus and Pele? Maybe Brigid and Hephaestus? Even equating based on role and function can get kind of messy, Brigid and Hephaestus are both smithing Gods, can we equate them on these grounds? I think most people would say no.

Then what does it mean for these Gods who rule over domains that there is only one of?  How do we potentially reconcile this dissonance? Well, I don't know how much this will help you, dear reader, but this is the ways in which I can reconcile it.

In the case of ruling over things which there are only one of, such as the Sun, or ruling over phenomena, I think it is best to look at those things as symbols of the God's power. For Ra the Sun represents his immense and mighty power, for Helios the Sun represents his watchful eye (and those two examples are way oversimplified, I know.) I have seen folks use the symbolism explanation for Zeus's association with lightning and rain taking those as symbols for his might and fertility (respectively). I just don't see why they can't do that for Gods so obviously different as Ra and Helios and Amateratsu.

In the same vein as this, they could very well 'share' the role. The example I saw used was Hades and Anubis, does that mean that there are different afterlives assuming of course, that they aren't the same. I'd have to answer with a resounding 'yes'. We don't give the gods a lot of credit sometimes, is it so hard to believe that beings with the power and ability to act with agency on our lives wouldn't be capable of 'creating' multiple afterlife scenarios? Does that mean I think that there is an afterlife for each and every Death God and Goddess? Absolutely not, however I wouldn't be surprised if there were in fact multiple possibilities for the afterlife. 

In the case of having similar roles, I think it could very well be an expression of a different God in a different culture, however I think that you have to examine that God or Goddess in their entirety and really meditate on whether or not they are truly the same entity and not make snap judgements by going "Hearth Goddess, Hearth Goddess, definitely equal". You must examine the God or Goddess fully and then really decide if it is the same as a God or Goddess within your own pantheon. After all, just because I am a student doesn't mean that all other students are me. Likewise, we know each doctor is an individual. Dr. Martinez is not Dr. Li simply because they have the same role in life.

So then, that comes to the question of how many Gods and Goddesses exist. I have heard some Hellenists state 12, 24, or 36 with all other Gods being aspects of those. Some Hindus state that there is only one God with all other Gods being aspects of that one God. Many Shintoists would state that there are 8 million gods(kami), if you translate the phrase literally at least. Colloquially it means that they consider there to be a practically infinite number of Gods(kami).

How then do you decide who is right? Most people simply go with whatever their particular faith says or model the number off their faith's 'central' Gods. Though many faiths don't require the adherent to 'come up with' a number. That is something that is completely and totally going to vary from person to person. Me? I'm going to just say I flat out don't know, and am only equating when I just feel really strongly about it. So far I've only equated Neith-Athene-Saraswati and Hanuman-Hermes-Mercury and Sol-Helios. That's it. I used to equate Freyja and Aphrodite but I've since pulled that back for further examination. Regardless of the equating I have made though, I won't begin to worship Athena in an Egyptian or Hindu fashion. I will treat them separately and as if they are all distinct individual goddesses, because at the end of the day I'm just incapable of being one hundred percent certain. I'd hate to rob a god or goddess of what they rightly deserve because I've made a mistake and confused them for some other deity.

Our ancestors used equating the gods as a means to understand foreign gods and cultures. I'm also sure that there must have been some dissonance in finding out that someone else also believed that their gods and goddesses had absolute control over the universe. Instead of taking the route of 'shared power' they took the route of 'same gods, different names'. I personally suspect that the first answer is right for some gods and the second is right for others. Which is which for which particular god and goddess is up for us to deduce on our own.

I guess if you could take anything from this it would be two simple things. Treat each God and Goddess as if they are distinct and equate them with care. 

Athena by nattywoohoo on Flickr 

Neith and Amun by risotto al caviale on Flickr

Saraswati by Delphine Wa-Dag on Flickr

Monday, July 22, 2013

Heat Struck

I sit here, my head throbbing from being out in the heat too long today. I've had two glasses of cool water and some acetaminophen, they've taken the edge off, sadly they haven't done more than that.

I sit her in relative silence, my roommates have left for the summer and so during the week I'm alone. The only noise I get is from my Netflix  movies, the video games I play, and the cicadas outside my window. I don't get to interact with people much lately, at least not on the level of friends. If I'm lucky I will get to before my labs, but during the week I just don't speak to folks much. Thankfully, on the weekends I get to see my boyfriend.

So all these things combined together, it means I get to think a lot and I get to read a lot. I get to think, relatively uninterrupted. I get to think about all manner of things too. My relationship with the gods, their actuality, how I am, how I'm happy, how I might strengthen my community, the ambiguity of words. Sometimes, the ambiguity of polytheism itself. The  strangeness and uncertainty of things.
My place in this world, my place in my own faith, my place in the pagan community.

I think about folks who have helped me grow, who have angered me and frustrated me. Folks I've treated with contempt for saying just downright stupid stuff. Folks who I haven't given as much due as they should have gotten. Folks who I've fawned on too much.

There is something that is almost magical about waking up each morning and doing my devotions. There is something magical about spending a lazy Sunday afternoon in your lover's arms. There is something magical about a person in your organization taking the time out of their day to chat with you and help you sort your own personal stuff out.

Even in all the turmoil, the stress, the failures, the money problems. Even in all this I realize how truly lucky I am, and I am truly grateful to the gods, to my friends, to everyone who has helped. I have a lot to be grateful for. When I express this sentiment and someone quips "Well yeah, but you still have to put up with those things though. They could be so much better." Yes, they could be, but they could also be so much worse. Only by the chance occurrences, have I made it through any of this okay. My own actions have harmed me, but the small little things I've done and the tiny choices I've made have helped me, and likewise the tiny choices others have made have helped me. I'm incredibly blessed.

Call it luck, I'll  call it kharis.

The Weapons of Zeus [Haiku]

The triumph of Zeus
In the thundering rain we see
His mighty weapon

Friday, July 19, 2013

Game of Choices

In life you must make lots of choices.
Make lots of little sacrifices and decisions. What you are willing to do without for something or someone. What you are willing to give up, not for the benefit of the self, but rather for the benefit of the other.
Yes, life is about choices.

Often times we make a choice thinking that we might get to have it all, but the fact of the matter is that we don't get to have it all. Sometimes when we make a choice we must deny ourselves certain pleasures and luxuries. When we proclaim certain things sometimes it comes with a sacrifice or a sort of abstinence that we were unaware that would be required. Sometimes our choices come with added requirements and stipulations we knew nothing about. Sometimes we are the illiterate farmer scratching an X on a document.

When I first entered Hellenismos, I wasn't aware of there being so few people. I wasn't aware that overall, we are a pretty damn small community, we are a minority within a minority. Where Kemetics and Heathens seem to be able to band together and have at least one meet-up in a state, Hellenists seem very lucky to have one regular group in a three-state region. When I made the choice to be a Hellenist, I wasn't quite aware that I was also making the choice to feel religiously isolated and alone in my own faith, however untrue my logical brain knows that to be. Now, to a lot of people this doesn't seem so bad. A lot of people seem perfectly capable of managing on their own, I am not a lot of people. I need some regular form of interaction. I would like some knowledge that my faith isn't going to be struggling for survival fifty years from now (because, lets face it, we are.) and it scares me. Yes, I'll admit it, it does scare me quite a bit.

But, I did make a choice, and now knowing full well what lies in wait and what the consequences are, I continue to make a choice. Every single new moon I make the same choice, whether I know it or not. Only in ruminating on choice did I realize this. Every new moon I am making a choice to choose loneliness, and choose uncertainty about the future of my faith. Why? To what end? Most rational people I suppose would simply say that the best option is probably to turn to something else, something that fulfills more of my needs. As I told a friend though, simply put, I can't. It would be like forcing yourself to fall out of love with someone you are madly in love with simply because you saw someone fifteen percent more attractive.

I have these struggles with feeling alone and isolated about every two months I've noticed, and I've realized that is okay. Because each time it does pass. Each time I do get better. It is only in this time that I've realized that I have choice, totally, fully, and completely, and every time I am choosing of my own volition to continue doing what I'm doing. And I take a certain weird kind of pleasure in denying myself.

I feel like I may just have to accept that lack of community may be a part of it for a very long time. The sooner I make peace with that, the happier I will be.

After all, what will happen, will happen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Watch this video first

What did you feel? How did it make you feel? Did you find it easier to empathize with Ceres and/or Demeter? Has it given you any ability to better understand that story? Listen carefully to the lyrics once again. How did it make you feel? Leave your answer in the comments

Music is an important religious tool. Music can help us come closer to our Gods, it can make us better to able understand them. It can be an expression of devotion and adoration. Music is a wonderful gift that we humans have in understanding divinity. It aids us.

What is more beautiful? This song, or one sung by a woman by herself while pouring out libations? Which one do you think the Gods rejoice in more?

I'm beginning to understand why a couple of folks elder than myself have told me that the best music at a ritual is that music which you make yourself. Even if it isn't beautiful or breathtaking, music we create ourselves is an offering from the heart to the Gods. Music carefully selected for a rite is one too, though in my opinion a lesser one, and music picked haphazardly isn't one at all.

This isn't meant to discount beautiful songs like this one though. On the contrary. Music like this can help us draw closer to the Gods when we are by ourselves and better able to immerse ourselves fully into it, when we aren't making it as an offering to the Gods, and when we are just trying to understand them and meditate on them. It can be a huge help.

Remember the power that music can have.

Early Mornings [Haiku]

Sleep follows me down
The road early in the dawn
Please sleep, stay at home

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sacred Band [Lyrics]

(Currently looking for a musician to bring these to life) 

Gentle water upon my brow
Gentle rain upon my cheek
I smile towards the sky
Gentle rain on the scorched earth

We don't have much time
And I can't quite say it
Lets stand side by side
As the giants slay us
And we take our place
Deep inside Ge

The heavens opened up
And the rain became a pour
And the pour became deluge
All light in heaven subsumed

We will not win this war
We both know that, don't we?

We don't have much time
And I can't quite say it
Lets stand side by side
As the giants slay us
And we take our place
Deep inside Ge

We never stood a chance, did we?
You and I, as we fought
Overpowered, outnumbered
We never stood a chance, did we?

Now for you I swear it
Tonight if you die here, I will too

We don't have much time
And I can't quite say it
Lets stand side by side
As the giants slay us
And we take our place
Deep inside Ge

Gentle water upon my brow
Gentle rain upon my cheek
I smile towards the sky
Gentle rain on four tired eyes

These last few moments
I could not be happier

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Earth [Haiku]

I see your sprigs now
Poking through the gentle Earth
Hello Demeter

Friday, July 12, 2013

Zeus [View on the Gods Series]

I have realized that it would be quite difficult to analyze the Gods relations to each other unless I first analyze how I relate to the Gods and view them, and have come to know them at this time in my life. I'm sure that as I grow older and gain more experience with them and more knowledge of them my views will change, but here I go anyway.

First I am tackling what should be tackled first, the King. Zeus is a multifaceted and complex God as is reflected by his various epithets, a few of which include "Of the Rain" "Savior" "Giver of Good" "Warlike" "Of the House" and "Contriver" to give you just a very shallow and quick idea of the diversity of his roles. They extend beyond these though, and his epithets are many and varied.

Who is Zeus then? He is the King of the Gods. Through Zeus things come to fruition I believe. This is not to say that he is all powerful, but the other Gods do not do things if they go against his will and desires (whatever those may be). He is regarded as a very wise and just God, so his decisions are to be trusted. Now, this does not mean that I think Athena and Aphrodite and Dionysos are all checking in with Zeus 24/7 for every single one of their actions, but I do think that the Gods are wise enough to know what would and what would not violate the will of Zeus and thus because of his position as king they respect and obey his decisions. So I, in turn, definitely see him as king of the theoi and I trust that he makes fair, just, and wise decisions most of the time.

I also find him to be a very difficult God to understand. In worship and when I simply pay respect I often feel nothing during the rite (except for gratitude of course). I feel no stirring or presence within me usually, and whenever I do whatever stirs up is just a confusing feeling. Sort of like I can't understand something or comprehend it, but not quite that. From that, I've come to see Zeus as a very mysterious and powerful God, yet also a distant one. I'm sure there are folks who feel quite close to Zeus and frequently feel his presence at their rites, but I am not one of those folks. For me he is almost as distant as Yahweh was, except Zeus has actually graced my rites with his presence on a couple of occasions.

In terms of function I largely view Zeus as the protector of my house, I believe he has the ability to influence (but not control) the weather. I believe he (like most of the Gods) can give us courage and strength, and can help us pull through times of intense hardship or other extremely difficult situations (one of his epithets is Savior, remember?). He, with Hera, also governs marriage in its more pragmatic aspects, the functional aspects of it that while perhaps not as exciting or as passionate as love, are none the less vital to a marriage being successful (at least from what I've seen of relatively happy and lengthy marriages). I also view him as having some influence and sway on male virility and potency. And to these things a number of other things, such as protection, wealth, prosperity, luck, happiness, and justice.

All that aside though, Zeus is Zeus, and even him I make certain lines and see him as certain things, I'm certain he is much more than that. I, after all, am but a man and he is a God. I'm almost certain he exceeds the things I've assigned to him, and I'm quite satisfied with knowing that my understanding of him will continue to change and grow. I do, after all, love to learn.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

[Movie Review] Sita Sings the Blues

So due to some groups I'm in I stumbled across this charming little movie titled "Sita Sings the Blues".

Now where to begin? I guess from the start right? Well, the movie makes its style seen and heard at the very top of the film where (I think it is Lakshimi) emerges from the water accompanied by a peacock record player which begins spouting Annete Henshaw. When she fixes it an explosion happens and we go through the cosmos and creation then to Earth.

Oh yeah, and it is animated in quite a beautiful style. The whole film is, in fact. 

That sets the stage and tone, and if that sounds uninteresting let me know because it really is kind of a cool scene.

The movie has two story lines, it follows Sita's story from the epic Ramayana. It is a tale of loss, duty, rejection, and devotion that really is quite intense and heart breaking, yet the serious tone is set-off by the director's choice of having many key moments and plot points expressed by Sita singing Annete Henshaw's songs (get the title yet?) which really helps detract from things like Rama killing millions of demons. The second story is that of Nina and Dave, a couple. Dave eventually gets whisked off to India for a job. I won't give away too much, but lets say that Nina's story mirrors Sita's in some ways. . .

Along with this we also have 3 shadow-puppets who pop-up and narrate the story for us from time to time, setting the stage, explaining things, that sort of stuff. They really are QUITE hilarious and narrate in the matter of three very confused puppets trying to sort this story out, bickering a bit and correcting each other. It really is just some brilliant work that they do.

The animation is stylized and strange, and beautiful. I can't really describe it since I don't have the correct terms, but it is an adorable and unique kind of cartoony. Layered in-between these segments we have animation that heavily draws from more traditional Hindu art and culture, which is usually used when the shadow puppets are explaining things. The cartoony style is usually used for when the characters (Sita, Rama, Nina, Dave, Hanuman etc) are acting as themselves Nina and Dave also have a different animation style than Sita and Rama, which makes everything clearly delineated.

I really have no true complaints with this movie, it stands out, it is unique and charming, and it does its job of entertaining while giving us a truly moving story.

Watch it, it is free on Youtube and I'll make it easy and even put up the video for you.

Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Worldviews, Nationalists, and Anger

So lately around the ole internet I have, for whatever reason, been seeing a HUGE increase in the amount of Greek Nationalists co-opting the religion or people claiming that you *must* be Greek to be a True Hellenist™. This argument usually centers around the claim that they are a True Hellenist™ and everyone else isn't because (they claim) that they have reconstructed an 'authentic' Greek worldview, culture, and religion that has experienced the kathartic release from the Greek Christian and Modern Greek culture. Allow me to be blunt, I call bullshit, for a variety of reasons.

First lets look at this whole 'worldview' claim and that anyone else with a deviating worldview isn't a True Hellenist™. The claim usually centers around the statements "The Athenians had a particular worldview, we have it too. Anyone who disagrees with us and doesn't share our worldview isn't a real Hellenist" or something pretty dang close to that. First, there is no *way* that you have the same worldview as the Athenians or *any* other Greek City-State. Worldview is HUGELY shaped by culture and religion (which in turn shape each other) and is also heavily dependent on external factors such as is your group worried about getting enough to eat, are you under constant threat of war, is there a lot of good drinking water in your area, and what is the prevalence of disease in your region to name just a few things.  This means that likely each generation will have a *slightly* different worldview from the previous, and even if Hellenismos (though it wouldn't have that name I suppose) had survived into the modern age, the modern Hellenistai would have a different world view than their predecessors 2300-2500 years ago and this is assuming that a large portion of the worldview was preserved through societal reinforcements. The worldview from 2500 years ago is NOT going to be the same as it was today.

Now lets get onto the cultural bit which is really important. First let me tell you about a good friend of mine though. He is a 72 year old man, bright, intelligent, and Canadian. He has traveled all over the world, but has settled in America. He has LIVED in America for quite some time (40 or 50 years I think) and still does not have a good grasp on American culture, on our nuances and subtleties, as well as certain parts of our own worldview (If you think this is out of place, re-read the above paragraph). It simply doesn't make sense to him sometimes, it confuses him, and this guy is no idiot. I know, we've had conversations spanning a couple of hours that just make my head spin and I'm no moron. This isn't an isolated incident though, even when you move to a country that speaks your language, most folks never fully integrate or understand the native culture even if they are living in the country for decades. Baring this in mind, the fact that some folks have the audacity to say that they have reconstructed the Athenian culture, embraced it, and shed themselves of their old culture is the absolutely most ridiculous claim I have ever seen in my life. It doesn't matter how many books you read, how many things you try  to imitate, you aren't going to bring back that culture fully. You may augment your own cultural background with these things, generating a distinct hybrid of culture by discarding some of the nasty things but to say that you have a 'genuine' Athenian culture is disingenuous and quite frankly ludicrous. When you can't get it be living in a country for 50 years you sure as hell aren't going to get it by reading books for 30.

Moving onto the last point, the religious bit. Many of the folks making these claims are from YSEE I have noticed. Which is kind of funny since I have seen YSEE members in the various Yahoo! Groups come in and outright say that they aren't recons but following a tradition that can be traced back to the 1600s.

So what do we do?

There are some things to consider here. The first is that American Hellenismos will differ from Greek Hellenismos and Australian Hellenismos because we are from different countries and have different backgrounds. Shinto heavily varies from region to region, it does not make one person less of a Shintoist because they practice in an Osaka fashion instead of a Kyoto fashion. The same goes for Hinduism, different regions have different ways and viewpoints. This should be expected, it is just an effect of geography and distance. There is NO need to bring ourselves in line with our Greek brethren because we are not Greeks. We do not live in Greece and we were not born there. We do not need to defer to them on matters, we do not need to seek their opinions on everything, and we do not need to look at them as some kind of god damned chosen and 'special' people for our faith, because they aren't. And you know what, if we keep treating them like they are, we AMERICAN HELLENISTS are going to lose some good folks, we are going to miss out on some good people joining the faith and sticking to it because they don't want to defer to somebody simply because of where they were born geographically.

Our worldviews will be different but have commonalities for certain. That is perfectly okay and to be expected. It would be unnatural to expect the worldview of an American Hellenist and a Greek Hellenist to be the exact same. This does not make me or my coreligionist here any LESS of Hellenistai than those over in Greece. Because guess what? We don't have to defer to them.

We American Hellenists are Americans, we do not need to defer to the Greeks. We are our own branch, and things will develop as they will. 

I don't need a Greek to confirm or approve things for me.
You best believe that.

Zeus by takbggg on flickr

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Have a show Sunday 7/7!

I am going to be having John Beckett about Druidry on my show tomorrow at 5:30 PM

I'm really looking forward to having him on!

Show Link:

John Beckett photo by Tesa Morin

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Life with Death

At a very young age I realized I would die.

I recall at the time I was around five years old, and we were living out in rural Virginia. I awoke in the middle of the night once from a bad dream, I had seen myself as an old man in a casket. I looked like I lived to a ripe old age but five year old me didn't care about that. I woke up with a jolt and realized (at the age of five) that someday I will die. I recall bursting into tears and waking my mom up. She came to where I was sleeping (which if memory serves correctly was on a pallet in the living room) and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had a nightmare. She asked about what and I wouldn't tell her. I don't remember why. I just wouldn't.

When my mother died I took the news with mixed and confusing reactions in only the way a child can. I was saddened and upset, yet after I had my moments I went along playing like nothing happened. I understood that her being dead meant she wasn't coming back and that I wouldn't see her, but I didn't quite think about the whole picture. Again in the course of my early childhood I realized that I was going to die someday, but the second time around it didn't make me cry. It made me a little sad, but the second time I didn't cry.

After my mother died some years later I last more folks and pets. Three of my dogs died ( one his chain got wrapped around a tree when we took a day trip and he dehydrated to death, one got out of the fence and got offed by neighborhood dogs, and another got killed by our neighbors out of revenge). I also lost three more family members (my great-grandmother, a cousin, and an Uncle.) I was in a wreck that if the vehicle had been a different model I would not be writing this right now. Death has been present enough in my life to make me keenly aware of it (Though thankfully not as present as it could be. Still haven't had siblings, friends, or a lover die on me yet.) So I ruminate on death a lot.

It changes how you look at others for a start. I find that it makes it almost impossible for me to take my lover for granted. Each moment we are together living, breathing, smiling, laughing, having sex, and talking to one another is a divine gift which I am thankful for. I am distinctly aware that when we part there is no guarantee that we will see one another again which is why even when we argue or get into little spats when we see each other I try my damndest to make sure we end on a good and pleasant note. If something happened to either of us it might wind up being a heavy burden to carry around the regret that the last time you saw one another you were cross with that person. That is what happened to my dad when my mother died. It happens. Never end on a bad note regardless of whether the person is a lover or friend.

It also makes you realize that there is really no appropriate thing you can say to a grieving person. The only thing you can do for them is be there and provide support and comfort as best as you can, but nothing you say can make it better. They are going to be hurt, angry, confused, and maybe a bit lost. Do not tell them "Well, James is in heaven now" in the hopes that it will make them feel better. It doesn't change the fact that a mother no longer has her child in her arms. Do not tell them "Everything happens for a reason" because even if everything DOES happen for a reason, that fact isn't going to help the who has to sleep alone now. It isn't going to change the fact that he still refuses to change the sheets because the left side of the bed still smell's like his wife. It will not make him feel any less disoriented and confused and bewildered. To him there is no reason, and the sun still rising each morning perplexes him because to him it feels like the world has ended. Sometimes the best thing to say is absolutely nothing at all.

Most recently though, it has made me ruminate on how my Gods relate to death. I've been struggling with the traditional interpretation of the Gods association with death and the rejection by the gods of death miasma. Save for a few Gods the traditional (non-philosophical accounts) seem to imply that aside from Hermes, Dionysos, Pluton, Persephone, and Demeter most of the Gods have little to do with you after you are dead. That. . .just doesn't sit well with me, and still doesn't. Surely the Gods that I have felt great compassion from, great wisdom, guidance, and tutelage from aren't going to go "LOL! BYE" when I draw my last breath, right? So, I've been sorting things out, searching and looking. I've begun looking at the Gods from the angle of a dead man because that is an inevitable thing, and I will be dead far longer than I will be alive. How will I relate to the Gods and they to me after I die? I have decided that I'm going to start seeking answers to the issue of death. Maybe the answer lies in a philosophical school. Maybe the answer lies within another faith (in which case I would become two faithed). Maybe the answer lies in some esoteric practice or magical system. Maybe no answer will suffice or ring true and I will have to cast my lot with the traditional interpretation.
Who knows, I certainly don't. I go into this with no expectations and an open mind.
If you have some idea or resource leave a comment (if the comment module isn't working, check back later).
I'll never know for sure until I die, but I need to find something that rings true to me and that I can agree with. Something that at least provides some hope that my Gods will not leave me. I need this.

Do you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sonnet for Aphrodite

(Note: This is not a TRUE sonnet since it doesn't follow the iambic pentameter)

How fair are you Aphrodite, fair rose?
I rejoice in your presence great goddess
For your gifts provide, in this world, repose
They give man the greatest joy, true goodness

And through you we come to know great pleasure 
Through you we are graced with the purest love
As our lovers consume all our leisure 
Let your beauty consume us from above

Let our souls rise as you rose from the foam
Unique, renewed, and knowing grand purpose 
Let our hearts be for love like fertile loam 
For men and women you are an axis

All of humanity longs for your gifts
To you, I and they and she and he drifts

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Cornerstone of all Virtues

The cornerstone of all virtues that one can exhibit is simply this, honesty.

Honesty is required for all virtues, be it being honest with yourself or being honest with others. Moderation (which is an important virtue for many hellenistai) requires introspection and the ability to honestly and freely admit to yourself what you can and cannot have. For an alcoholic no alcohol at all is the correct amount, for someone who handles their liquor well, maybe they can handle seven drinks. For some it may be two or three drinks. When you are on a diet and want that extra slice of cake and insist that you will 'be good tomorrow' or something like that you have to really ask yourself 'do I mean it?'. Whenever you say it, you know what you mean and whether or not you will keep that promise. It is being dishonest if you say you will and then decide not to, therefore being honest about your motivation and limits helps you act temperately.

For being a good host you must keep an honest heart. You must not over-exaggerate on what you can provide nor can you offer your guest less than you can afford. You must exhibit full candor to be a sufficient host and therefore fulfill the obligation of xenia.

Piety too requires an intense amount of honesty, and where this should be self-evident it is not to some folks. You must look inward and truly examine the gifts that the gods have bestowed upon you and sacrifice as is appropriate. If you have been neglecting sacrifices and the honors due to the gods you must have the ability to recognize this and make amends. When you have wronged the Gods or have otherwise behaved unfairly towards them you must be willing to admit this and correct it.

In order to properly revive and carry on the traditions of your faith you must be able to analyze and admit to what you will and will not be able to physically do. If animal sacrifice is not possible to you for moral or environmental reasons then don't do it. Likewise if you can do it, have the proper training, and have no ethical qualms about it then you should be doing it -assuming your faith calls for it-. Do not make your faith out to be something that it is not. Those saying that they are practicing the faith *exactly* as the ancient Athenians did (Or Thebians or Spartans or Teutons or whoever) are outright lying to you and lying to themselves. It is extremely similar perhaps, but it is not the exact same, nor should it be. Admitting and accepting this will lead you down the path to properly reconstructing (if you must) reviving and/or carrying on the traditions of your faith.

Honesty before bravery, before moderation, before wisdom.

Cultivate a spirit of honesty first, then work on the other virtues.

by Vasta 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.