Conversation Between Hellene and “hellenic” Neopagan
An online conversation between ethnic Hellene Stilian Ariston and “hellenic” NeoPagan Chris Aldridge. (The permission to publicize this conversation was given by Stilian Ariston.) The conversation started when the Facebook Group “Society For The Protection and Promotion of Polytheism” presented a new “neopagan” group identifying itself as hellenic polytheistic. The Text has been rectified.
Society For The Protection and Promotion of Polytheism (Facebook): Temple Of The Greek Gods.
The mistake was corrected. The mentioned Society finally deleted the contentious message.
The ethnic Hellene Stilian Ariston responded on the wall post: They are “NeoPagans” playing Hellenic polytheists. Hellenic polytheism is Hellenic polytheism – not “neopagan” practices. They should not use the word Hellenism to promote their beliefs. It’s indecent. We ethnic Hellenes don’t want “neopagan” groups to use our names and symbols, and distort our religious identity. It is sad that the “Society For The Protection and Promotion of Polytheism” presents them as being part of Greek polytheism. It’s outrageous and I hope the mods will correct this post. We Hellenes have often explained that we reject “NeoPaganism”, “neopagan” intolerance (“I am part of your tradition, whether you like it or not”) and stated that the so-called “Neo-Hellenic Polytheism” does not concern us. So please do not present them as hellenic polytheists, for they are “NeoPagans”.
Chris Aldridge, founder of the mentioned Group responded: Stilian, I am the founder and Priest of this temple, and I am Hellene by blood, pal. I have it running through my veins. Most Hellenic Reconstructionists here in America are probably English muffin inside, so don’t tell me I am not Hellenic. I worship the Hellenic Gods and I have Hellenic blood. I am bound to Hellas by my very being, whether you like that or not. My ancestors came from Zante aka Zakynthos. So you can take your ignorant intolerance somewhere else. And the last I checked, the Greek Gods do not belong to you or to me. They are the Greek Gods and there are many different ways to worship Them. You have no right to tell Them who is relevant to Them. They will decide that.
What you fail to realize and fail to present to people is the fact that Greece was not a unified nation in ancient times. There was no “one correct practice” or “one correct belief” that all Greeks agreed upon. Each City State had its own calendar, practices and even myths, therefore there are many different ways to be Hellenic. Furthermore, you clearly don’t know the practices of my temple either. We uphold many of the old beliefs and practices, and we don’t go too far outside of the realm of ancient Greece. We just believe in spiritual relevance instead of conformity.
And why am I not a Greek Polytheist? I only worship the Greek Gods and I draw my practice and ethics from ancient Hellas and its philosophies. The problem is that people like you want a right of claim to it, you want to unite Hellas all under your name and your way. That did not fly in ancient times and it won’t fly today. Polytheism refers to Theism. If someone only worshiped the Christian God, they would be a Christian Theist, would they not? Then why is someone who only worships the Greek Gods not considered a Greek Polytheist? Ridiculous. Good day.
Stilian Ariston: I know who you are Chris Aldridge, and let me tell you this: I don’t care about your “blood”. I am not a nationalist. Modern Greeks have no or at least not only greek blood in our veins, it’s a neo-greek legend. We concentrate on the ethos, not on blood. And your ethos is not hellenic at all. Modern Greece and Hellenismos are two different things. My father is “Greek” and my mother too, but until the day I decided to embrace Hellenismos, I was Christian, a Hellene only on paper. Blood is not an argument.
And yes, there are many ways within Hellenism to honour the Theoi, but “NeoPaganism” is not one of them. You are blaming me for being ignorant and telling me that the Gods don’t belong to me. Did I ever say anything like that? No. You can claim that you “believe” in the Gods, that’s not the issue here. Labelling your “neopagan” cult or group as “Hellenic polytheistic” is the problem. If you would have been honest, we wouldn’t be arguing right now. The “nation” is a modern concept. The Hellenes were an ETHNOS, a group with common religion, culture, language and customs. Yes, there was a correct way to practice, and orthopraxy was the core of Hellenic piety. The way you describe Hellenismos applies to EVERY ethnic religion, for they are not homogeneous, but diverse, just like nature. This diversity doesn’t include “NeoPaganism” that didn’t exist in ancient times. Hellenismos evolved, because it had to. It was always specific, but it became more specific in late antiquity (the time Julian established “Hellenismos” as the official name of Hellenic tradition) and in the time of Pletho and Marullus.
There were different ways to be Hellenic, but none of these ways were “Neopagan”. “NeoPaganism” arose from Occultism, the magic system of the western christian world and has nothing to do with Hellenic identity or ethos. Unless you can prove that “NeoPaganism” was part of the Religion of the Greeks. You have to practice Hellenic polytheism in order to be a Hellenic polytheist, not “NeoPaganism”, Occultism or Christianity. If you don’t practice / honour the Gods in the GREEK way, you are not Hellenic at all (unless you confuse “Hellenism” with what you called “Hellenic blood”). The problem with intolerant people like you is that you are unwilling to take “no” for an answer. No, we don’t want “NeoPaganism” in our tradition, “no”, we don’t want to embrace “neopagan” concepts or terms. No, we won’t allow you or anyone else to alienate or ridicule our identity. Hellenism is not a game, but our cultural identity, language and our way of life. So the best answer we can offer to people with your “I can be X, but label myself Y and incorporate my cult in your tradition, whether you like it or not”-attitude, is the Lakota’s respond to your movement in their “Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality” http://spiritofthelakepeople.blogspot.de/2010/01/declaration-of-war-against-exploiters.html We are getting back on our feet again and we will protect our culture from monotheism and its many “faces” (Occultism, New age, “NeoPaganism”). Thank you.
Chris Aldridge: And why am I not a Greek Polytheist? I only worship the Greek Gods and I draw my practice and ethics from ancient Hellas and its philosophies. The problem is that people like you want a right of claim to it, you want to unite Hellas all under your name and your way. That did not fly in ancient times and it won’t fly today. Polytheism refers to Theism, not to practices. If someone only worshiped the Christian God, they would be a Christian Theist would they not? Then why is someone who only worships the Greek Gods not a Greek Polytheist? Ridiculous.
So just keep running your mouth because that’s all you are is mouth.
Stilian Ariston: You can run your propaganda, exploit and deceive only because Hellenismos is not a recognized statutory Body yet, so you can take advantage of our situation. Fine, but know that there are people out there you can not deceive, because they are ethnic Hellenes, Hellenic Polytheists or just People who know about Hellenism. So, for now we can’t take legal action against your unacceptable behaviour. But I myself, the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes, Timothy Alexander and others won’t allow you ruining our profile and exploiting our tradition. We will warn people and protect our selves and our tradition. We didn’t risk our lives, our safety and health to open Hellenismos to a “neopagan” cult with ignorant leaders.
Chris Aldridge: I AM AN ETHNIC HELLENE! Do you understand that? I am Hellenic by blood, so to say I am not Hellenic is completely false. All you have pushed against me and my temple is nothing but propaganda, and yet you accuse me of pushing such things. What deceit have I done? I have never told anyone I am something I am not. Never claimed to be a Reconstructionist, never tried to take anything from anyone. In fact, I have had people come to me seeking the traditional path and I directed them to the proper sources for that. All we have done is practice our religion. Tell people we are NeoPagans because we tell them the same thing. Tell them we are not Reconstructionists because we tell them the same thing. You will not tell anything to anyone that we ourselves have not already told them. This whole “cult conspiracy” is all in your head, dude.
Timothy Alexander is a self-published lulu author and not considered a scholar on ancient Greek religion. I’ve tried to debate him before when he and his followers have attacked us and he blocks us. But since you bring him up, he also says in his book that there is no “one true way” to worship the Greek Gods. So which is it, do you ascribe to a doctrine so to speak or do you not? You can’t tell people that there is no one true way and then fault them for not doing it your way. I think you do in fact want a “one true way” but are disguising it as otherwise.
Lastly, I have Hellenic friends in Greece who are Reconstructionists and they are not like you. They do not attack me and ascribe to the hate, elitism and intolerance that you do. Read the Maxims Of Delphi sometime, like the part about dealing kindly with others and not speaking ill of another. Yes, I called you all mouth and that was wrong, but then again I don’t make it my life’s mission to attack others like you do just because they are different. People like you break the Maxims constantly.
: Yes, I have Hellenic blood and I worship only the Hellenic Gods. How am I not Hellenic?
Yes, you did say essentially that the Gods belong to you because you claim that my worship is invalid and that I am not doing it right, but rather that YOUR way of worship is the correct way to honor the Gods. So yes, you did lay claim to the Greek Gods, which is by far the most hubristic thing I can think of. Like I said, we have not deceived anyone, we are completely honest about who we are and what we believe and practice. You’re just another hateful bigot who can’t stand diversity. You say you used to be a Christian, I can tell, the hateful fundamentalism that you were probably exposed to has still not left you. It’s bleeding over into your Hellenic path.
You say you don’t want me in your tradition and yet I have not tried to enter it. You are falsely accusing me of trying to be traditional when I have never been. You still can’t seem to get that through your head. You are traditional, I am Neo. Understand? Because what you fail to realize still is simply this: There is NO one way to be Hellenic. You won’t tell anyone anything I have not already told them about myself, and Timothy Alexander is a self-published lulu author and not a scholar. But he also says in his book that there’s no one true way to worship the Greek Gods.
Stilian Ariston: Mr. Aldridge, an ethnic Hellene is someone who participates in the ETHOS of the Hellenes. Your blood can’t be Hellenic, because nobody’s blood is Hellenic. Modern Greeks – including my parents and yours – have turkish, vlachic, arvanitic and gothic blood in their veins, their religion is christianity and their culture is romiosyni. Your blood is every bit hellenic as your cult. “Ethnic Hellene” is synonymous to “hellenic Ethnicus”, and you are not an Ethnicus. I really don’t care about your nationalist fantasies, the issue here is calling your cult “hellenic polytheism” and not practicing Hellenic. Hellenic Polytheism is what the ancient Greeks, Pletho etc. practiced and not “NeoPaganism” in Hellenic cloak. Hellenic polytheists can only be what you call “reconstructionists”, I prefer to call them just Hellenic Polytheists, because I don’t use “neopagan” terms and concepts.
Otherwise Hellenismos would not be the name of Hellenic tradition. We practice something that was already there, not something new we’ve created ourselves. And you can read about what was there in scientific books (in which you won’t find any “neopagan” element). Timothy Alexander is a Hellenic Polytheist and self-published Author like you are, but he is a true hellenic Polytheist, that’s the difference. Yes, there is no “true way” to honour the Gods, but there is orthopraxy; hellenic can only be what’s historical correct. People in Sparta practiced different than people in Athens, but they followed their own genuine orthopraxy. You can choose the spartan or athenian way, it’s all hellenic. If you think you can be a Hellenic polytheist without practicing Hellenic Polytheism, you are wrong. If you are not honouring the Gods in the Greek way you can not be a Hellenic polytheist. It’s that simple. The “true” way in Hellenismos is the Greek way. Now, if you honour the Gods in “neopagan”, “christian” or whatsoever ways, then you don’t practice Hellenismos, but something else. The core of eusebeia is not the “belief” in Gods, but practice in the ways of “our fathers”. Hellenismos is a traditional religion. You can call me what you like, our issue is not a personal one.
Chris Aldridge: Let me ask you some questions. You care greatly about proper Hellenic practice, do you not?
In one breath you tell me I am not Hellenic, then in the next you tell me there is no one correct way to be Hellenic. You can’t have it both ways. I WILL continue to call myself a Hellenic Polytheist because that’s what I am.
Yes, I am a self-published lulu author too, but the difference is that I don’t claim myself to be a master of truth and knowledge and a judge of all those around me. Let me ask you some questions, you care greatly about proper Hellenic practice, yes?
And by the way, an Ethnic group is defined as people who share a common heritage or bloodline.
And more so, how do you know the practices of me or my temple if you’ve never seen me in person or been to any of our events? I am willing to bet you will be surprised that it’s not that different from your own practices.
Belief and practice are not the same thing. Belief is basically Theism, practice is action. This is why I call myself a Hellenic Polytheist, because Polytheism is about Theism and belief in Gods, it’s not about practice. Certainly, it’s part of traditional Hellenic practice, but it is not exclusively tied to one. Someone who believes in the Christian God, for example, would be a Christian Theist. They may not be a Catholic or a Protestant, but they are Christian.
Stilian Ariston: You can’t have Hellenic blood, unless you are an ancient Greek. Blood is not a provider of ethos, worldview, religion or language. Even if you’ve had “hellenic blood” – what an absurd Idea! -, your ethos is not hellenic at all. That’s all I need to know. You can believe in anything you want and practice anything you like, that’s your problem, but calling your cult “Hellenic” and presenting your group as “hellenic polytheistic” is an issue for us, because your false claim harms our profile and people may think that Hellenic religion includes a traditional and a non-traditional branch, which is not the case. You don’t need any blood to be a Hellenic Polytheist, but the ethos and worldview of the Hellenes. And if you want to be an ethnic Hellene, you also have to speak the Hellenic language.
In order to be a Hellenic Polytheist, your WAY honouring the gods must be the Greek way. Julian (origin: roman), Sallustius (origin: roman), Porphyry (origin: phoenician) and Iamblichus (origin: syrian) haven’t had Greek blood in their veins, but they were Hellenes. Why? Because of their ethos and worldview. The ethnos itself is a group of people who share a common religion, culture and virtue system. We Hellenes don’t “believe” in the Gods, we recognize and honour them in the GREEK WAY, otherwise we wouldn’t practice Hellenismos, but something else. Hellenismos means “of the Greeks, Hellenism […]. II. use of a pure Greek style and idiom […].” H. G. Liddell, R. Scott: A Greek-English Lexicon. p. 536, Oxford University Press, New York 1996. In Hellenismos, religion is not a matter of personal likes and dislikes. “My” way has to be the way of my ethnos. If I am a bigot, then the Lakota are bigots too. You are intolerant and can’t take no for an answer. We have enough diversity in Hellenism so we don’t need a new one. There are many ways to be Hellenic, and all these ways come from ancient Greece, otherwise they wouldn’t be hellenic. So prove me that “NeoPaganism” is (ancient) Greek. I am just an ordinary Hellene; every Hellene is a traditionalist, because our religion is traditional one, what else could we be than traditionalists?
You don’t understand: Hellenic Polytheism is ancient, so if you practice H.P., you practice an ancient and historical-known religion. Hellenismos has many ways, the way of sparta, athens, and so on, but it contains no “neopagan” or “islamic” or whatsoever way. Diversity doesn’t mean that every new cult is Hellenic, it means that in ancient times the Hellenic ethnos had, not countless, but many ways to honour the gods. But these ways were Hellenic. There may be no “true ways” in a universalistic sense, but our way has to be Greek. That’s all we need.
Chris Aldridge: So all of the ways to be Hellenic come from the ancient Greeks. So all of the City States are able to instruct on correct practice?
Stilian Ariston: Hey, you can call yourself what you like. The orthodox christians say they are Hellenes, too. You can call yourself a Hindu and believe in Allah, an Atheist an believe in Jesus or a Hellene who practices “NeoPaganism”. I don’t want to change your mind, I want to inform people about you. In Hellenism the term ethnos means a group of people with common religion, customs, culture and heritage.
I said, there are many ways WITHIN Hellenismos to practice correct in the way “of our fathers”, not that you can honour the gods in selfmade or “neopagan” ways and call it then “Hellenism”. You are wrong: the concept of “believing” is alien to my culture. The core of our piety is orthopraxy, which defines our cult. The Hellenes used the verb “nomizein”, which means recognize. You can’t compare an ethnic Religion/Ethnicum like Hellenism with Christianity, as they are totally different systems. The core of eusebeia/piety was and still is orthopraxy (“correct practice”).
Chris Aldridge: But I don’t call myself a Hindu who believes in Allah or an Orthodox Christian who believes in Hellenism. I call myself a Hellenic Polytheist who believes in the Hellenic Gods. I call myself a follower of Hellenism who believes in Hellenism. “Warn people” about me LOL. Exactly what are you warning them about? The fact that I am not a traditional Hellenist like I have told everyone? The fact that I am a NeoPagan like I have told everyone already? You know nothing of me or my temple, you’ve never been to any of our rituals, festivals or seen me practice, yet you claim to know all about it. I invite you to come to one of our events sometime, you will see it’s not that different from yourself. Otherwise, stop claiming to know something you don’t.
My question for you, if you will answer, is this; all of the City States, while believing in the same Gods, had different practices, yet you will call all of them Hellenic. So, upon what basis did the practice in each city vary? What determined the practices of the cities? Was it region, relevance, or what?
Stilian Ariston: As far as I know, the City-States didn’t exist in Plethos‘ time… Hellenic can be only something that comes from Greek culture itself. And we can only reconstruct something, we know many things about. Most things we know regarding Greek Religion is the religious practice in Classical Athens. But Hellenismos evolved and its latest updates were compiled by Pletho who renewed Hellenic Religion. You can’t look only at classic Greece and ignore late antiquity and the middle ages.
Chris Aldridge: That’s good, because I’ve never said that I am a follower of modern Hellenic Reconstructionism, or Hellenismos as you call it. You’re still not getting this lol. Why do you keep insisting that I am claiming to be a follower of your path? I have not stated such a thing, I am a follower of my own path to the Hellenic Gods based on my own personal belief and relevance, which is what I HAVE ALWAYS told people.
So I fail to see what your big blow against me is other than to state what I have stated over and over again to everyone. I do draw heavily from ancient Greece, but I don’t call myself a traditionalist like you. But even though we don’t know the practices of Sparta or Corinth as much as we may do about Athens, the fact remains that they were all Hellenic, so what makes Athens more or less Hellenic than Sparta?
Stilian Ariston: Your practice is important and not in what you believe in, for Hellenismos is an orthopraxic religion. You are a polytheist, but not a Hellene. Your practice stems not from the Hellenic ethnos. I am warning people, that there is a group of people practicing “NeoPaganism” but calling it “Hellenic Polytheism”. I have read many things you wrote down, I’ve seen pictures of your rituals, I know that you practice “neopagan” magic and I’m reading very carefully your responses – I don’t know everything, but enough to forge an opinion.
Chris Aldridge: Have you taken time to read the FAQ page on our website? It says specifically that we are NeoPagans and not Reconstructionists. So unless you simply hate NeoPagans, I don’t see what your contempt is.
Stilian Ariston: HELLENISMOS is the NAME Emperor Julian gave to Hellenic Religion. You stated that you are a Hellenic Polytheist, an ethnic Hellene and that you have Hellenic blood in your veins. Yes, you follow your OWN path, exactly, but Hellenism is the path of the Hellenic ethnos, not something created by “NeoPagans” few months ago. I already have answered that question: Sparta was as much Hellenic as Athens was. In contrast to “NeoPaganism” they were all part of Hellenism. But “NeoPaganism”, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc. weren’t parts of Hellenism and therefore they are not Hellenic, because their origin is not Hellenic. Every Hellene is a traditionalist, what else could we be? Our religion is a traditional one, and we’ve reconstructed something that has been already there, we did not create something new. And “NeoPaganism” wasn’t there and therefore it can not be Hellenic.
Chris Aldridge: There are so many things wrong with your last post. Once again you keep insisting that I have declared us to be followers of the orthopraxic Hellenic religion when we have not. Second, belief is not important to Hellenism? Alright, so if I did not believe in the Greek Gods at all, would I still be a Hellenist by your standards just because I performed a ritual a certain way? You practice the way you do because of what you believe, so belief is extremely important. Ridiculous.
Also, as stated on our website, we are open to all kinds of Hellenic Polytheists, this includes NeoPagans AND even Reconstructionists as we do have some Reconstructionists in our temple. In Tim’s book, which you cite, he points out that there are different kinds of Hellenic practitioners even though they are not all Reconstructionist. So traditionalism is not the only path which can hold the title of Hellenic. And what’s all this about “NeoPagan magic”? Personally, magick is not a significant part of my practice, but I don’t tell others they can’t practice it of course. Once again, you have assumed you know all about me when really you know nothing about me.
If I am not Hellenic because I have Hellenic blood, then is an Indian not Indian even though he or she has Native blood? Blood and religion are different, yes, but I did not mix the two either. I said I am Hellenic both by blood and theological belief.
“Hellenic Polytheists are those that, at the very least, share specific concepts and beliefs with the ancient Greeks. They will most often be hard polytheists and will share, most likely, an Emanationist belief of cosmology. While a Hellenic Polytheist may also identify as a Reconstructionist, the label does not imply that. A Hellenic Polytheist, while having an understanding of the ancient Greek religion and an influence of it in their personal practice, may not necessarily be attempting to recreate the religion.” – A Beginner’s Guide To Hellenismos, Tim Alexander, page 19.
So, by one of your leader’s own words, Hellenic Polytheism is not directly tied to Reconstructionism.
Stilian Ariston: No. 1. you declared that you are a Hellenic Polytheist which you obviously are not. 2. Yes, if you honour the gods and recognize them, you are a Hellenic Polytheist. As I told you before, the concept of “believing” is alien to my culture. 2. I practice the way I do, because it is the historical correct way. Because I am a Hellene and I honour reality, which includes the gods. It may be ridiculous to other ethnicities, but we don’t have to apologize to “NeoPagans” for our way of life. 3. All kinds of Hellenic Polytheists? By this I understand only stoic, platonic and other Polytheists, but not “NeoPagans”, Christians or Muslims.
Every Hellene is a “Reconstructionist”, simply because, in contrast to you, we aren’t creating something new, we are simply practicing something that already has been there, something we have inherited. Only the ancient Greeks weren’t reconstructionists. Was it me who cited Mr. Alexander? I just mentioned him once. Our official and most important organization, the YSEE, made very clear statements: there is no Hellenism without orthopraxy. Ask YSEE’s secretary Vlassis G. Rassias if you don’t believe me. Without YSEE, Hellenismos wouldn’t exist today.
Mr. Aldridge, Nationalism is irrelevant to Hellenism. You didn’t read my answers. I already told you that there is no “Hellenic Blood”, unless you consider turkish, arvanitic, vlachic and gothic blood to be hellenic. Blood doesn’t matter in Hellenismos, because blood is not a provider of ethos.
Chris Aldridge: “Yes, if you honor the gods and recognize them, you are a Hellenic Polytheist.” Very well, we have agreed that I am a Hellenic Polytheist. Good day.
Stilian Ariston: Mr. Alexander has the right to have his own opinions. He is a Hellenic Polytheist, not an ethnic Hellene. And by the way, ethnic Religions like Hellenismos have no leaders, you should know that.
Chris Aldridge: I could just as easily say your side is speaking through their own opinions and beliefs. I know clergy does not act as leaders, but there are people who do speak for the community, such as Tim. Even if he is not intending to, he is speaking for your community by writing books, and since you cited him, I thought I’d quote him. In my temple, clergy are also not considered representatives, holy people, or dictators. Here’s why I am a Hellenic Polytheist.
Hellenic as defined – “of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the ancient Greeks or their language, culture, thought, etc”.
Polytheist as defined – “he doctrine of or belief in more than one god or in many gods”.
Now if we put those two words together, what do we come up with?
I believe in and only worship the Hellenic Gods, and yet I am not a Hellenic Polytheist. Ridiculous. That’s like telling a Kemetic that they are not an Egyptian Polytheist. I don’t think most people in the modern Polytheistic and Pagan community would agree with you that I am not a Hellenic Polytheist. Anyway, I am tired of arguing this petty nonsense over titles. The Gods would exist with or without religion. Goodness to you and yours.
Stilian Ariston: YOU cited him, I cited the YSEE. “Hellenism(os): of the Greeks, Hellenism […]. II. use of a pure Greek style and idiom […].” Liddell, Scott: A Greek-English Lexicon. p. 536, Oxford University Press, New York 1996. In fact, Hellenismos‘ real characteristic is not polytheism, but something some modern scholars call “cosmotheism”. You don’t practice the religion of the ancient Greeks ergo you are not a Hellenic Polytheist.
Your practice has to be hellenic, not your “belief”. Hellenic Religion is an orthopraxic Religion. Nilsson and Veyne stressed that orthopraxy lies in the core of Hellenismos. I don’t belong to the modern polytheistic or pagan community, nor to the christian one. So I don’t care If alien movements agree with me or not. My community and the community of Hellenismos is the ECER (European Congress of Ethnic Religions). The Gods are not the topic, but the way we honour them.
Chris Aldridge: You brought up Tim first, as anyone can clearly see if they read the comment posts. You declared him to be a real Hellenic Polytheist, so I quoted what he had to say about what constitutes a Hellenic Polytheist. By his definition in his book, I am Hellenic, period, and Hellenic is not only bound to traditionalism or Reconstructionism. Although he does not always seem to espouse what he writes, so I don’t know if he really means that. Bottom line, you can’t be a Hellenic Polytheist without believing in the Hellenic Gods.
That may not be how you see it, or even how your group sees it, but that doesn’t mean that a Hellenic Polytheist is not a Hellenic Polytheist. Theism has NOTHING to do with practice. It has everything to do with the Gods or God you believe in. I am done with this issue. There will always be people who don’t accept one another for any given reason. In all religions, there are people who tell others they are not doing it right, so Hellenism is no different in those regards. I am not going to sit here and play the “Yes I am, No you’re not” game. Have a nice day, sir.
Stilian Ariston: I mentioned him, you cited him. Yes, that’s right, YOU quoted him. And I told you, he has the right to have his own opinions, but it is not the opinion of a single man that counts, but the collective. You have created your own “Hellenic Religion” and you don’t even know, that the concept of “believing” is alien to Hellenism. That’s not how I see it, for the opinions of Individuals are not that much important in a collectivistic culture (Hellenism). It is the worldview of the ethnos that counts. “Polytheism” is a term the ancient Greeks did not use. They used the word “Eusebeia” (Piety) or “Threskeia” (Cult) to describe their religion. Hellenism is not a mere Religion or belief system and you can not separate Hellenic religion from its culture, because it’s an aspect of Hellenic Identity. You must embrace the whole packet, not only the elements you like. Your practice defines you, at least in Hellenism. Good night.
Chris Aldridge: And I didn’t say that my belief defined Hellenic culture, or that Hellenic culture was determined by belief. I basically said that it only makes logical sense that someone who only believes in the Hellenic Gods would be a Hellenic Polytheist.
Oh really? How many Oxen have you slaughtered at your latest ritual? Do you spread dove’s blood on your temple or shrine or altar during the festival of Aphrodite? Do you practice arranged marriages? How about that? I doubt it. You guys do not embrace all of Hellenic practice either, but rather you change and adopt to suit your own beliefs and modern society. You too “only accept the elements you like”.
Anyone who reads Walter Burkert will see that there are TONS of things in Hellenic culture that you guys either do not do or have changed. So don’t gimme that garbage about being defined by practice.
Stilian Ariston: You don’t have to say it, you do try to define Hellenic Religion. I’m telling you that I don’t believe in the Gods, I nomizo them. You are very good misinformed. There were people in ancient times (Pythagoreans), who didn’t slaughter animals. In late antiquity, only a few sacrificed animals to the gods. The development of Hellenismos didn’t stop in Hellenistic times. By the way, the Pythagoreans and others have created the perfect solution to avoid miasma. We only reconstruct elements that can survive in the modern world. Hellenismos is the Religion of the ancient Greeks, restored and adapted to the present age to a certain degree, so our tradition can survive. Even Evangelos Voulgarakis stated, that the YSEE “is doing it’s best” (regarding orthopraxy). And Mr. Voulgarakis is surely not a friend of Hellenismos. In Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical time, Walter Burkert deals with Greek Religion in the ARCHAIC and CLASSICAL time. So yes, your practice defines what you are. Pletho, Marullus etc. were Hellenes too, you know. Well, you have no Idea about Hellenism. But I didn’t expect something else.
Chris Aldridge: You only reconstruct elements that can survive in the modern World? Great, so you don’t reconstruct all of ancient practice, yet you claim such a fault is the basis for telling someone else they are not Hellenic. You can’t claim ancient practice is the basis for calling yourself Hellenic and then only construct the parts you like, not to mention faulting others for not following all of ancient tradition.
Stilian Ariston: We don’t reconstruct random ancient elements, but only elements that can exist today. For example: we don’t have sanctuaries. Contemporary active hellenic temples do not exist in our time, so we had have to reconstruct orthopraxy as good as we possibly can, even if that means that we can not practice our religion within sanctuaries and instead chose mobile altars or outdoor shrines in natural areas. So we make sure, that the altars are as authentic as possible. But our culture still is collectivistic, though we live in a modern world. Other ancient practices can’t be reconstructed (the mysteries, theurgy etc.) and are gone forever. As I told you before: We have reconstructed something that has been already there up to a certain point, so Hellenism can be revitalized. We don’t incorporate new things or new style statues in our practice.
The deciding factor has always been feasibility or survivability and not our PERSONAL likes or dislikes, for the likes of an individual count not that much in a collectivistic culture. We practice every traditional, ancient Hellenic practice, we can practice (given that, there are enough reliable ancient sources). We practice in the way of our fathers – the orthopraxy hasn’t change, we just adjusted it to our financial and other capacities. We don’t have New-Age-Gaia Statues standing on our altars, we don’t show up in rituals wearing black etc. There are things that can be done, and we are reconstructing them in the best way we can, because we are accountable to history for the correctness of our orthopraxy. Otherwise, we could not be taken seriously, which means that people won’t support our movement in Greece. But we need support in order to get recognized, so we give our best, because this is what Tradition is all about. Either you practice an ethnic religion the best way you can or you create something new, but please don’t call it then “hellenic”.
Chris Aldridge: Fine, you don’t reconstruct everything from ancient times, that’s my point. You only bring forth the things which suit you in your times and places. Everyone does that. No one practices completely in accordance with history. It’s not possible. I told you previously, I have quite a load of ancient practice in my path though.
I’d rather be like Socrates, who was also accused of not being properly Hellenic, and like him, I know that I don’t know anything for certain, and I find ground in my own beliefs. I will call myself Hellenic because that’s what I am. End of story. You are also wrong that there are no modern Hellenic temples. There’s one in Thessaloniki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hellen_temple_in_Thessaloniki,_Greece.png
Secondly, if you don’t believe in building temples, you are hardly “reconstructing” traditional practices. There were scores of temples all over ancient Greece.
I don’t practice in black either, I practice in all white. In fact, I don’t remember ever practicing in black, certainly not when I was dedicated to Hellenic Polytheism anyway. As far as the “New Age Gaea statue”, even though I no longer have that and prefer more classical depictions, I don’t see a problem with it. Gaea is the living Earth, which is what that statue represented. Besides, you will be very hard pressed to find a classical statue of Gaea today, so like you said, we use what is possible to be used at this time. It’s alright for you to only use what’s possible for you, but it’s not alright for me to. That’s balanced.
Stilian Ariston: I think my statement regarding “reconstruct everything” was very clear. It is not a matter of personal likes or dislikes. We didn’t reconstruct everything, but everything we have reconstructed is ancient greek. We adjusted Hellenismos to the present age, we didn’t modernize our Tradition, for we understand our Tradition as an alternative to christianity, its religious products (Occultism, “NeoPaganism”, New age etc.) and to the western world in general.
Socrates was murdered because of political reasons. And he never stated “I know, that I know nothing”, Arkesilaos did. He just denied to be wise. The Temple in Thessaloniki belongs to the Epsilon-Followers. Epsilon is a modern “greek” phenomenon and part of the so-called “Helleno- or Archaeocentrism” (the “New age-movement” of modern Greece). The architecture of the “Temple” is hardly hellenic. Just google “greek temples” and you will see what I mean. Yes, you are a “Hellenic Polytheist” with “hellenic Blood”. And you are Superman, Wolverine and Spiderman. Of course you are.
“Secondly, if you don’t believe in building temples, you are hardly “reconstructing”” traditional practices. There were scores of temples all over ancient Greece.”
Excuse me, we Hellenes don’t “believe”, whether in Gods nor in “building temples”. It is not part of our language or culture. We want to build temples, but we have no money to buy a necessary property yet. “Me”, “You”, “I”, you don’t understand that Hellenic Religion is not a personal thing, because you are not interested to learn about Hellenism, I get it.
I think that you and I have nothing in common and that the “Greek” Gods of “NeoPaganism” are not the Gods of the Greeks. Hellenism is tradition, always has been. There are no “denominations” within today’s Hellenism, unless you prefer to call stoicism or platonism a “denomination”. You have created your own stuff, defined an other religion and presented your new cult as being part of an ethnic religion. That’s why we reject “NeoPaganism”, and that’s why the Lakota declared war against you, but you will never get it, because you don’t want to. I must apologize to you, now I begin to realise that you don’t try to deceive others, you actually believe that you are a Hellenic Polytheist. If a “neopagan” can be a Hellenic Polytheist, than Muslims and Christians can be Hellenic Polytheists too, right? They just have to “believe only in the Greek” gods, regardless of whether they PRACTICE Hellenism or honour the Gods in a christian, “neopagan” or jewish way. It is time for you to read some books of Martin Nilssons or Paul Veyne. You are incredible misinformed.