I have read with regret that the Facebook page “Society For The Protection and Promotion of Polytheism” presented the “Neopagan” group “Neo-Hellenic Polytheism” (NHP) as being part of Greek Polytheism. We Hellenes have often explained that we reject “Neopaganism” and the “Neopagan” attitude towards Ethnic traditions (cultural appropriation, distortion and the “I am a member of your tradition, whether you like it or not”-mentality). We also explained that the so-called “Neo-Hellenic Polytheism” does not belong to our tradition and that Hellenismos is not “interested in having any relationship” with the so-called “Pagan community.” First of all, and despite all the Christian-originated stereotypes of modernity, we are Hellenes, an ethnos, not “Pagans” or members of the New religious movements of the Occident. And second, Hellenismos is not only religion, but also our identity, our customs, language, history and way of life, and thus not “Neopagan” or “Pagan” at all. The term “Paganism” was fabricated by the Christians in order to humiliate Ethnic religions. We would never use this term to define ourselves (except maybe by few Hellenes for very rare exceptions), for it was imposed on our ancestors who were persecuted, tortured and slaughtered as “Pagans,” “idolaters” and “devil worshippers.” “Paganism” never existed, except, of course, in the minds of the so-called “Monotheists.” Therefore it must always be enclosed in double quotes. The word itself transports all the categories of thinking of the current dominant culture, its imagination and the alienating power of its colonialist mindset.
Many ethnic Hellenes and Hellenists perceive “Neopaganism” and similar parachristian paths as the religious forms of the current cultural imperialism (Cultural globalization). “Neopaganism and the New Age are closely related, and often interwoven, quasi-religious movements born from the actions of Medieval Christian mystics and various occult societies, such as Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Freemasonry … While much of Neopaganism and the New Age have abandoned Christian doctrine, they still very much embrace a Christian worldview, and interpret the religiosity and spirituality of cultural and indigenous religions using Christian superstitions and misrepresentations … Criticism of Neopaganism and the New Age come from around the Globe … an ever growing list of indigenous practices and traditions see these movements as either not fully understanding, deliberately trivializing, or distorting their disciplines … However, I believe the biggest threat from these movements comes in the form of the globalization of religion into a universalism, where practices and traditions must be stripped of their cultural perspective … In my opinion, the Neopagan and New Age movements are the mirror image of Christianity’s attempt at stomp out indigenous and cultural religions.” (Interview with Timothy Jay Alexander for Ideon Antron Magazine, January 13, “2011”)
It is outrageous to see that this particular “Neopagan” group still holds onto its old attitude. I very much hope that the “Society” will correct its post. Hellenism is an indigenous culture. “Neopaganism,” on the other hand, arose, as stated many times before, in the early 20th century from the “Western Magical Tradition” or Occultism, which is the magic system of the Christian western culture or Occident (the Christian magician Agrippa von Nettesheim was the founder of early Occultism, the Christian freemason Eliphas Levi is hailed as the “father” of its modern form). The Greeks did not practise “Neopaganism,” “Neopaganism” itself has no Greek origin, therefore it can not be considered as part of Hellenic culture. Hellenism was never linked to “Neopaganism.” On the contrary, “Neopaganism” represents the homogenizing aspect of global monotheism. “Neopaganism” is not ancient, not indigenous, not ethnic at all. And if its not ancient, it can not be Hellenic. Period.
This issue is not personal nor is it about “believing” in the right or wrong way, but practicing Hellenismos in a historical and cultural accurate way, for Hellenismos is an orthopraxic tradition and it is orthopraxy (“right practice”) that defines Hellenismos. This new “Neopagan” group labels itself as “Hellenic,” while it is “Neopagan.” This kind of bogus claim is characteristic of “Neopaganism.” If someone doesn’t practice Hellenic religion in the right way, meaining the Greek way, it should be apparent to everyone the he or she does not practice Hellenic Polytheism at all, but something else.
We don’t practice Hellenic Religion in “my” or in “your” way, but in the way of the Greeks. Hellenism is a collectivistic culture. The Polis stands above the singular citizen, the community stands above the individual. Greek Religion wasn’t a matter of personal likes and dislikes. The Hellenes were eager to practice their religion “in the ways of our ancestors.” Today, we would say: In the way the Hellenes practiced. And that’s what Hellenic religion is all about: Honoring the Greek Gods in the Greek Way. Orthopraxy lies in the heart of Hellenic piety. Individualism is in the wrong place here. “The intellectual principle of the Greeks is not individualism,” (Werner Jaeger: Paideia: The ideals of Greek culture, Vol. I: Archaic Greece, the mind of Athens, p. XXIII, Oxford 1946).
Therefore we say “NO” to the exploitation and colonialization of Hellenic tradition. In this, we follow the example of the Lakotas by protecting ourselves, our tradition and identity from desacralization and distortion caused by disrespectful individuals and groups who can’t take No for an answer (see: Declaration of War against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality).
Native traditions, stand up and protect your heritage!
1. “The term ‘Pagan’, which in the original Latin is derived from Paganus (peasant), is yet another insult used by the victorious Christians since the 4th Century, to belittle what remained of the Native Religions. They used this to label all those remaining loyal to their Ethnic Traditions, to imply that they were uneducated and uncouth villagers. The term was used for centuries in most European languages to refer to the Ethnikoi. In the 20th Century, it was reintroduced with the suffix neo (viz. Neopaganism), by various Christian-inspired devotees of Esotericism and the New Age. ‘Neopaganism’ doesn’t concern us. It may even be a manufactured ploy to detract from the current world rule of the so-called ‘Monotheists’.” (Supreme Council of the ethnic Hellenes, FAQ 24).
2. “The polish reporter Wojciech Jan Rudny interviews a constitutional member of the Supreme Council of the ethnic Hellenes (YSEE) on behalf of the polish ‘GNIAZDO’ magazine.”
Wojciech Jan Rudny: I’ve heard about many American Hellenists (people that they believe in the Greek Gods). What do you think about them?
YSEE: Some of these people that you mention are not true Hellenists but rather members of the so-called Wicca or other “neo-pagan” groups who are simply disguised as “Hellenists” for reasons that exist hidden within the depths of their own minds. Obviously we are not interested in having any relationship with these people. Our Tradition, Religion and Values should not be exploited in any manner, in much the same way that no other ethnic Tradition, Religion and Values should be exploited.
3. “Neopaganism”, Occultism and the New-Age-Movement simply do not concern Hellenism.
The “Society” finally deleted the contentious message. We thank the “Society” for protecting Hellenismos and saying No to “Neopagan” intolerance.