In the eyes of spiritual colonialists, Hellenes or other ethnicities who don’t live up to Neopagan expectations but, stubborn they are, continue to live according to their own culture and therefore they have no interest in assimilation into the Occident, are… «folkists» or even «racists» (though the concept of «race» is alien to Hellenismos, whatever). In the past we were idolaters, satanists, pagans, freemasons, and zionists, at least according to anti-Hellenes. Now we are… «folkists.» (I’ve never even heard of that term before, so I had to google it.) Well, given our history, I’m pretty sure we will survive this one too. Many names have come and gone, and yet we are still standing.
Some people just can’t accept the otherness of other cultures and thus they try to «correct» them, which means to criticize them based on the moral standards or ideas of their own culture. Based on our experiences with colonialist Neopagans and Occultists, we have discovered that ethnocentrism and monotheism’s attitude toward ethnic religions (world correction -> conversion) are typical for this brand of Neopaganism. They can’t stand otherness, they just can’t, so they try to «correct» or change us… into them. It is for this reason that many ethnic Hellenes don’t want to talk openly about their culture or even let others know they are Hellenic.
Many Neopagans still don’t understand that we are not «ancient» Greeks, we don’t practice «ancient» Hellenismos, just like modern day Hindus are not ancient Hindus or the Japanese don’t practice «ancient» Shinto. They ignore Plethon, Marullus, the Hellenic Jacobins and so many other things, some even call us «Hellenic reconstructionists» [sic] (we have no idea what that is, anyway), and they write articles or make videos on YouTube where they «inform» people about the tradition they exploit and pretend to be part of, and make us believe just how «wrong» the members of that particular tradition are to be… who they are.
They say, the «ancient Greeks» did this or the «ancient Greeks» believed that… without ever being concrete. What exactly do they mean by «ancient Greeks»? The Spartans of the Archaic period? The Athenians of the Classical Period? Or maybe the Corinthians of the Hellenistic period? And what about the different tribes (phylai)? Even so, how is that relevant here? Should we somehow photographically reproduce «ancient Greece»? Play «ancient Greeks»? And which of them? And Why? It seems, they confuse revitalization with reenactment. They have read one or two books on this subject, so now they are convinced they know our culture better than we do – because they’ve read some texts about our history. By the way, most or almost all sources regarding modern era Hellenismos (1500 to 1800) are only available in Greek.
It is quite obvious, that they have no idea what they are talking about. And it is also clear, that they don’t understand the meaning of terms like «Re-Indigenization,» «living tradition» or «ethos.» In the video below, we hear a Neopagan giving a lecture about her own ignorance, which leads her to argue against things no one of the adressed Hellenes even mentioned, and thus to arbitrary interpretations deeply rooted in her own conscious or unconscious biases. The result: «racism.» She doesn’t even know what the Hellenic word «ethnos» or the adjective «ethnic» means in our language but that doesn’t stop her from having an opinion though. «Ethnos,» in our culture, is a group of people sharing a common ethos (ancestry, language, religion, way of life). But instead of talking about «ethos» she rather chooses to express her thoughts on chromosome and blood.
Why? She simply doesn’t know what «ethnic» means to us. She doesn’t know that the late Vlassis G. Rassias, YSEE’s secretary, was the author of the first Hellenic book against nationalism in Greece (1996), in which he defined ethnic identity on the grounds of virtue system, language, and ethos. That neo-Nazis and nationalists in Greece misuse the indigenous Hellenic culture for their propaganda, that the YSEE opposes political monotheism (nationalism, internationalism etc.) or that it is considered to be «anti-fascist» (Kolonaki-Press) or that some of us receive death threats from nationalists due to our effort to protect our culture against the abusive ideologies of political monotheism.
She doesn’t even seem to know the difference between a Hellenist and a Hellene. Probably she doesn’t care. But she is not the only one. There are many persons out there who make public statements on «behalf» of Hellenismos, though they are not members of Hellenismos, but Occultists, Neopagans, «Witches,» in short: people who «are simply disguised as ‹Hellenists› for reasons that exist hidden within the depths of their own minds» (YSEE). The funny thing is, most of these individuals think of themselves as being open-minded and sophisticated. In reality, however, they are intolerant and not even interested in learning the reasons why we think the way we do. To be honest, we have no desire to engage with people who can’t stand diversity and cultural alterity, whether they are aware of their intolerance or not.
All she does is interpreting texts based on her own worlview and stereotypes. For instance, she interprets YSEE’s statement that Christianity is the «expansionist» form of «Jewish monotheism» as… anti-Semitic. (She even thinks that YSEE’s book on the Hellenic ethnic religion, the book which she quotes, is «it’s holy book.») And, of course, she has a problem with the decision of the YSEE to not «perform same-sex marriages.» Well, it would have been a good thing to study what the institution of «marriage» means within Hellenismos before making this video. LGBTQ has no place in the ancestral cult, it’s just irrelevant. The cult of the ancestral gods is not a political party, ideology or lobby group. One’s sexual orientation, eating habits or philosophical affiliations doesn’t and can’t concern the ancestral cult. It’s absurd.
She doesn’t have to like it, we don’t seek her permission. Hellenismos is what it is. Take it or leave it. The way people express their spirituality is not our business, they just shouldn’t drag us down into it or import their personal beliefs into other people’s tradition. But why accept other cultures‘ otherness, their way of life? Why not slander them for daring to be what they are, right? It becomes more and more clear, that Neopaganism evolves into a threat to ethnic religions. The homogenization of the ethnosphere ruins its very foundation: the natural and beautiful diversity of mankind. In this Neopaganism walks along the paths of Monotheism, which is no surprise when you consider that Occultism and Neopaganism are emanations of Monotheism (von Nettesheim, Levi, Fortune etc.).
But we are not the only ones targeted by spiritual colonialists. The Celtic tradition, for example, faces the same problem. If you defend yourself against cultural appropriation and expropriation, you are «racist» (though ethnic Hellenes don’t define ourselves through this foreign concept of the 17th century), that’s the new narrative they share, the sound of the broken record of Neopagan intolerance.
But nothing could be farther from the truth, as this quote from a Celtic organization demonstrates: «some of us were sick of the rampant cultural appropriation in the Neopagan community, and wished to devote ourselves to something that was our own, that honored the ways of our ancestors without needing to rip off anyone else’s ancestors or cultures in the process. There is no ethnic or cultural requirement for anyone to practice CR — we do not believe that ‹blood› has any bearing in spirituality or in who might be called to a particular path. And as Celtic identity is a matter of language and culture, ‹blood› really has nothing to do with whether or not an individual or tradition is Celtic. No matter where your ancestors were from, or what your ethnic background, you are welcome to practice CR with us.» (http://www.paganachd.com/faq/misconceptions.html#racist) I could not express it better myself. It is really time for all of us to respect other people’s culture, even if we don’t agree with their worldview or religion. This is something that should be taken for granted rather than be made as a call or advice. Unfortunately we live in times of great confusion and intolerance, so we must insist on it.
If the Neopagan «Hellenists» knew anything about Hellenismos, they wouldn’t be even mentioning «genetics» or «blood.» But people tend to «understand» what their mind allows them to understand. Ethnic Hellenes have nothing to be ashamed of or apologize for. We are who we are, whether some people on the Internet like it or not. Period. Cultural heritage maybe «folkism» to some, we on other hand know that it is an important aspect of our collective identity. They don’t get that, we understand. They lack the internal perspective. When Hellenismos is alienated and destroyed, Neopagans can return to their own culture. They will have a place to go and be safe, we won’t, because Hellenismos is the home we live in, without it we are «homeless.» That’s the difference. They may have the privilege of evoking thoughts on «cultural gatekeeping.» We, on the other side, have real problems to deal with.
We really don’t need people trying to «correct» us, telling us what to think or how to live. We are not here to serve or satisfy new religious movements, foreign ideologies (conservatism, liberalism, nationalism, internationalism), artificial opposites (capitalism vs. leninism, market vs. state etc.) or narcissists‘ needs for self-promotion and social feedback. Nor are we obligated to live according to other people’s ideals. We have our own virtue system, our own cultural imagination, and our very own interests. Eventually, they will learn to endure other people’s alterity and culture. They will also learn to endure the fact that ethnicities have the right to define and defend their own culture. Because we are here to stay.
«The Hellenic tradition is, like any other ethnic tradition, only accountable to itself and does not depend on what others think about it.»
Vlassis G. Rassias: From a lecture that was held at the Hellenic philosophical institution «Hekatēvólos» on June 9, 2018, in Athens, Greece.
Original source: Hellenismos (Facebook page), August 22, 2020. Last time checked: October 18, 2020. Published with the permission of the owner.