Today, 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. Neopaganism is an esoteric occult movement with fragments of ethnic religions, as perceived by pagans. We Hellenes have often explained that we reject this movement and its attitude towards ethnic traditions (cultural appropriation, distortion and entitlement mentality). We also explained that the American group “Neo-Hellenic Polytheism” does not belong to our culture 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 various derivations of western Christianity. Furthermore, Hellenismos or Hellenism is not only religion, but also our ethnic identity, our customs, language, history, music, art, architecture and way of life, and thus not “pagan” at all. The term “paganism” was fabricated by the Christians in order to humiliate ethnic religions. It would be absurd to use this term to define ourselves, especially since it was not used in Greece at all. “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. The very western perspective of the term cannot be applied to Hellenism.
Many ethnic Hellenes perceive neopaganism and all the other para-Christian paths as various forms of the current cultural imperialism (Cultural globalization), which among other things is manifesting itself in the neopagan intolerance, that is the attempt of “correcting” indigenous religion into paganism. “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 disturbing to see this particular group still holding on to its old attitude. I would like the “Society For The Protection and Promotion of Polytheism” to correct its post. Hellenism is an indigenous culture. Neopaganism, on the other hand, emerged, as stated many times before, in the early 20th century from the “Western Magical Tradition” or occultism, which is the magic system of the western Christian culture. The Christian magician Agrippa von Nettesheim was the founder of occultism, while the Christian freemason Eliphas Levi is hailed as the “father” of its modern form. The Greeks did not practise paganism, paganism itself has no Greek origin, therefore it cannot be considered part of Hellenic culture. Anything else is ethnologically ignorant. Hellenism was never linked to paganism. Paganism is not ancient, not indigenous, not ethnic, not Hellenic. Appropriating our ethnonym does not change anything about it.
This is not about the way some individuals choose to practice their particular form of paganism nor ist it about right or wrong “believes,” since there is no such thing as “Hellenic faith.” It is about label fraud, bad imitation, misrepresentation and false claims. One of these false claims is the representation of Hellenismos as “the belief in the Greek gods,” but Hellenismos is not a religion and its religion is not about “faith.” The core of Hellenic religion lies in its orthopraxy (“right practice”). Hellenes do not practice in “my” or in “your” way, but eiothotos, i.e. in the ancestral way. It is the orthopraxy and the culturally accurate way to practice that defines the Hellenic religion, which, by the way, differs from tribe to tribe.
What we call “Hellenic religion” is the sum of all the religious practices and views of all Hellenic tribes, clans and phratries. Paganism’s post-modern individualistic approach stands in complete contradiction to Hellenism’s collectivistic culture. The polis, the community comes always first. Greek religion was not a matter of personal likes or dislikes. Individualism has no 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). The same, of course, applies to all derivations of western Christianity. Occultism, paganism and the New Age movement simply do not concern Hellenism.
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.
The “Society For The Protection and Promotion of Polytheism” deleted the contentious post. We thank them for saying no to pagan intolerance and misinformation.