Hellenism and paganism – Two different worlds

Hellenism and paganism – Two different worlds. My response to The Washington Post.
May 29, 2021

On May 26, 2021 The Washington Post published a story about Pagan politics in the U.S. online. For reasons unknown to me, Heather Greene, the writer responsible for the article, included Hellenismos in it, «a religion based on ancient Greek beliefs.» I think a writer working for a newspaper of that caliber should have done some research before writing the article. There are many problematic points and false assumptions in the text. I am going to address some of them in this post to clarify a few things and neutralize some quite serious misunderstandings regarding Hellenismos.

1) First and foremost, Hellenismos is the indigenous Hellenic culture, including its ancestral cults. It is not a «religion based on ancient Greek beliefs,» but our language, identity, value system, political imagination, customs, way of life and, yes, our ancestral religion.

2) Hellenismos has nothing to do with paganism and does not belong to the pagan community, just as it does not belong to the Christian or Jewish community. Hellenes have their own community, their own affairs, topics and issues. Hellenism is a Mediterranean culture that emerged from the commingling of Mycenaean, Minoan and other Helladic cultures. Paganism emerged from occultism, which is a by-product of Western Christianity. They are differentiated from each other culturally, historically, and by time.

3) You cannot put a whole cultural group in an article about the U.S. pagan community and thus artificially create the misleading impression that Hellenes are pagans. We are not. What you call «paganism» does not exist in our minds.

4) Our religion belongs to the category of Ethnic religions and lies in the heart of Hellenic re-Indigenization, known as «re-Hellenization» (Epanellinisi). Paganism or neopaganism, on the other side, is a New religious movement that has its derivation from western Christianity or, to be more accurate, Christian esoteric and occult groups. There is simply no connecting line between the two.

5) Hellenes have a different understanding of politics. That difference derives from our different cultural, historical and linguistic backgrounds. It seems to be true that pagan religious identity shapes political views. That, in turn, is the very reason why Hellenic and pagan political views are different. Therefore, you cannot ascribe the various political views and ideologies within the U.S. pagan community to Hellenismos. It would be inaccurate. That’s why your article is partially incorrect and therefore misleading.

Dear Ms Heather Greene, the next time you write an article about pagans, Christians, the Sikhs or any other group, please make sure to not include Hellenismos in it. If you are unsure about a subject, whether it be a religion or culture, read and learn about it as much as you can, or address your questions directly to members of the respective culture or religion. Get all the needed information from reliable sources. And last but not least, verify your information before you publish a story.

Sincerely yours,

Stilian Ariston Korovilas