Hellenismos and the term «paganism»

by Stilian Ariston Korovilas, 26th Posideon 2790

The Occident (Christianity, occultism, paganism) still uses the offensive term Paganism to refer to the ethnic traditions of Europe, ignoring the fact that these were not «religions» or faiths in the modern sense, rather parts of ones ethnic identity and of the political order of the respective polis or homeland. «Paganism» was invented by early Christians to slander or «describe» those holding on to their ancestral cultures and traditions as «uncivilized» or «village idiots,» despite the fact that Hellenismos evolved into its final form within the poleis and most of the Hellenes of the Christian era lived in big cities, such as Athens or Constantinople. Anyway, most of the people today who came in contact with Hellenismos know that we reject this term because it reduces an ethnos to a mere religious community, the Hellenic identity to its misunderstood religious aspect.

On top of it all, the term «paganism» implies a unity of all ethnic religions, which is not true, and may also suggest a connection to religious movements that are alien to Hellenismos. The term is also used by «Neopagans» to refer to themselves, while mixing ethnic religions with some of the New religious movements of the Occident (mainly «Neopaganism» and the New age movement) that are incompatible with ethnic religions. The result is confusion and that people develop a false impression of what Hellenismos really is and stands for. Basically, «Paganism» can mean anything and also nothing, especially in our times where people avoid being exact and unambiguous. Therefore, using the alien term «paganism» to define ourselves is not in our interest, otherwise we would encourage Christian anti-Hellenism or the agendas of antihellenists who are trying to brand Hellenismos as «neopagan,» occult et cetera. It would also be counterproductive to do so: in order to revitalize our culture, we must get rid of the monotheistic colonization of our imagination, leave its terms and the meanings they transport, its stereotypes, schemes and clichés behind. Apart from this, we are not «Pagans» anyway, and certainly not «Neopagans.» («Neopaganism» arose from occultism, which in turn is a Christian byproduct.)

We are Hellenes just like the Lakotas are Lakotas. Indeed, Hellenismos could only be «pagan» in the sense Pierre Chuvin describes Paganism, namely as the «religion of the homeland in its narrowest sense» (P. Chuvin, A Chronicle of the Last Pagans, p. 9, Cambridge, MA /London: Harvard University Press, 1990). In Greek, we have a much better word for such religions. It is called ethnic (εθνική θρησκεία → ethnic religion). Of course, people are free to describe themselves as «pagans.» We have no problem with that. But we would not want to see this term used on us. However, as long as we know what and who we are, people can call us «devil-worshippers,» «pagans» or «idolaters» as long as they want. It will not change a thing, since «We … are Hellenes by descent, as is demonstrated by our language and ancestral education» (Georgios Gemistos-Plethon in his letter to Manuel II Palaiologos).

«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, Frequently Asked Questions about the Hellenic ethnic religion and tradition, no. 24, last time checked: July 10, «2013»).

More on this can be found at: Pagan, a controversial term