Discerning pseudo-Hellenists

As Angelo Nasios rightly said, the dominant voices «in the anglosphere in regards to Hellenism aren’t Greek, and that is why everyone is confused about nearly everything Greek.» Many of the relevant sources regarding Hellenismos are only available in Greek. Most books available in English are not written by Hellenes, and also full of inaccurate statements and omissions. On the internet there are many imposters and influencers who stage themselves as Hellenists or even as Hellenes, selling their particular kind of paganism or opinion as «Hellenism,» as Hellenismos is called in the Angloamerican world. Some of the reasons for the lack of English material on Hellenismos written by actual Hellenes is founded in the subject itself: Hellenismos does not engage in proselytism and has no need for self-advertisement. But the lack of English material gave rise to a gap, which imposters seek to fill. In turn this led to the absurd situation as described above by Nasios. The challenge for Hellenes now is to begin explaining Hellenismos to the outside world, while defending it against imposters whose business model is basically grounded in exploitation and desacralization.

In order to make life and business difficult for them, I would like to explain two of the most important terms they use to keep their money-making scam running: Hellenes and Hellenists. What is striking about their comical yet fraudulent machinations is the avoidance of definitions, a precise wording and unambiguous language. In my view, the reason for this is simple: an ambiguous language provides the best means of fishing in muddy waters. Thus, it is very useful for us to keep publicizing and sharing the definitions of these terms, again and again. In short, a Hellene is a member of the Hellenic ethnos, and therefore carrier of an ethno-cultural identity. A Hellenist is a person of non-Greek ethnicity or descent who is Hellenic in culture, language and religion. Pseudo-Hellenists do not speak Greek nor do they practice the religion of the Hellenes and have no connection to Hellenic culture, which they often despise. However, the lack of knowledge about the meanings of these and other terms makes it easy for them to deceive their customers or followers.

Thus people searching for information about Hellenismos often end up being deceived and subjected to the narratives spread by imposters who pose as something they are not and pretend to be members of the Hellenic community. Hellenes see through this masquerade, since we know our culture and people. But people, especially young people, lacking the internal perspective tend to fall for the tricks of bloggers and YouTubers who use their audience in order to satisfy their narcissistic needs of social validation and feedback, which in turn provides them the possibility of highlighting their supposed singularity. They have read some books about some aspects of the past of some Hellenic regions, and seem to think that this may help them to play their roles well. Yet for an ethnologically trained eye it is easy to see their product for what it is, especially when, on top of that, they claim that Hellenism is a «category of paganism» [sic], since Hellenism and paganism are differentiated from each other culturally, historically, and by time: paganism emerged from occultism, which is a by-product of Western Christianity. Hellenism, on the other hand, is part of the broader Mediterranean cultural mosaic that emerged from the commingling of Mycenaean, Minoan and other Helladic cultures.

In the the end, the narcissists and imposters tend to get what they crave for (attention, validation, money), while people searching for answers never learn about the living Hellenic presence. On the contrary, they start to show ill will towards those Hellenes who confront the false statements concerning their own culture by «dismantling» them piece by piece. The charlatans who are making these false statements frequently combine their stories with anti-Hellenism, ethnocentrism and a colonial attitude towards Hellenic people. The end product is a toxic mixture being passed off as open-mindedness and acceptance, whereas in truth it is intolerance and colonialism in its purest form.

People have a difficult time distinguishing Hellenists from imposters. Therefore, I have hit upon the idea of writing down the points with which one can distinguish in clear and precise terms what is actually authentic and what is a New Age imitation. If several of the below applies to a person lecturing about Hellenismos, one should be very careful. Always verify the information you get and check the claims made.

The characteristics of pseudo-Hellenists

1. Pseudo-Hellenists reduce Hellenismos to religion, ignoring the rest (language, customs, ancestry, music etc.),
2. they can’t tell the difference between Hellenic and Hellenistic, or Hellenes and Hellenists,
3. misuse the Hellenic ethnonym to label themselves or their religious practice, even though they are not related to Hellenic culture,
4. are fixed on an undefined ancient past,
5. ignore recent Greek history
6. ignore the culturally determined perception of people,
7. ignore the cultural and historical contextuality of Hellenismos,
8. overlook anthropological realities and historically grown conditions,
9. subordinate the collective ethos to the primacy of personal likes and dislikes
10. and engage in cultural appropriation or anti-Hellenism.

11. Pseudo-Hellenists think Hellenismos is their property due to the narrative of «Western civilization,» which places Hellenism at the beginning of their culture,
12. they exploit Hellenismos to promote their preferred branch of political monotheism (conservatism, liberalism, nationalism, internationalism),
13. interpret Hellenes through the lens of political monotheism,
14. evaluate Hellenes based on the standards, morals and customs of their own culture (ethnocentrism),
15. interpret words like ethnic or designations such as ethnic Hellenes as racist or even fascist,
16. believe that the artificial opposites of the Western world (leninism ≠ capitalism, state ≠ market, patriotism ≠ globalism, «left» ≠ «right» etc.) are relevant to ethnic religions,
17. drag Hellenismos into the ideological fights within their own cultures,
18. are not familiar with the actual problems, needs and interests of Hellenic culture,
19. lecture Hellenes on their own culture
20. and try to «correct» them into themselves.

21. Pseudo-Hellenists attempt to change Hellenic language, the meanings of words or traditional values according to their worldviews or ideologies,
22. they project recent western concepts, for instance «race,» on to Hellenismos,
23. try to impose their lifestyle and ideological fetish (white race, classless society etc.) upon Hellenismos,
24. never heard of Plethon, Marullus or Cyriacus of Ancona, but know everything about Crowley, Fortune and Gardner,
25. apply the attitude that is typical of occultism, paganism and the New Age movement to Hellenismos,
26. «work» with gods,
27. feel drawn to or called by «deities,»
28. mistake the gods for their buddies or servants,
29. the myths for the gods themselves
30. and the public office of the priest with RPGs.

31. Pseudo-Hellenists perform their religious practice, misrepresented as Hellenism, according to what feels right to them, instead of eiothotos (according to the ancestral customs),
32. they aren’t able to distinguish their own needs from the needs of the Hellenic people,
33. confuse re-Indigenization with reenactment and revitalization with revivalism,
34. call themselves Hellenists even though they don’t speak Greek,
35. regard  Hellenic religion as «faith» or «belief in the Olympian gods,»
36. believe that Homer’s Odyssey is the Hellenic «bible,»
37. think that pagan concepts have a place in Hellenismos (soft polytheism, hard polytheism, reconstructionism, revivalism, folkism, universalism etc.),
38. hold on to Christian or Christian-derived pagan concepts and try to import them into Hellenismos,
39. mix what they consider «Hellenism» with paganism, occultism or western ideologies,
40. and «adapt» their «Hellenism» to the «modern world,» i.e. their particular individual gusto or life-style, which is the manifestation of an attempt to westernize or paganize, that is, assimilate Hellenismos from the outside.

41. Pseudo-Hellenists don’t recognize contemporary Hellenism as Hellenism since the Hellenic reality differs from their fetishized image of an undefined «ancient Greece,»
42. they deny the Greeks‘ right to self-determination,
43. believe that Greeks have no right to define their own culture,
44. have no relation to the living Hellenic tradition,
45. slander Hellenic organizations that play a major role in the Hellenic re-indigenization movement,
46. deny Greek genocide in order to rationalize their ahistorical approach to Hellenismos,
47. attempt to homogenize ethnic religions due to their aversion against historically grown diversity and Otherness,
48. think of paganism, «witchcraft» or even satanism as part of Hellenismos,
49. are not willing or able to distinguish between their culture’s notion of «magic» from that of the Mediterranean cultures
50. and consider tarot cards to be a Hellenic tool of divination or legit in the context of Hellenic religion.