Discerning the pseudo-Hellenes and 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 Hellenic life haven’t been translated into English. Most books on Hellenismos available in English are not written by Hellenes, and also full of inaccurate statements, omissions and distortions. On the internet there are many imposters, influencers and podcast gurus that 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.

Thus people searching for more information about Hellenismos often end up being deceived and subjected to the narratives spread by imposters who pose as something they are not. Hellenes see through this masquerade, since we know our culture and people. But people lacking the internal perspective, especially young people, 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.

But in the the end, the narcissists and imposters tend to get what they crave for, 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 claims 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 and ethnocentrism. 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 you 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 you, you need to be careful when listening to someone who is talking or lecturing about Hellenismos. Always verify the information you get and check the claims made.

The characteristics of pseudo-Hellenists

1. Pseudo-Hellenists reduce Hellenism to religion, ignoring the rest (language, customs, ancestry, music etc.)
2. can’t tell the difference between Hellenic and Hellenistic, or Hellenes and Hellenists
3. misuse the Hellenic ethnonym to describe 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. deny or ignore the culturally determined perspective and perception of people
7. ignore the cultural and historical contextuality of Hellenism
8. overlook anthropological realities and historically grown conditions
9. subordinate the collective ethos (tradition) to the primacy of personal likes and dislikes
10. engage in cultural appropriation and anti-Hellenism.

11. Pseudo-Hellenists think Hellenism is their property due to the narrative of «Western civilization»
12. exploit Hellenism 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 such as ethnic or ethnic Hellenes, ancestral and indigenous as racist or even fascist
16. think somehow that the artificial opposites of the Western world (leninism ≠ capitalism, state ≠ market, patriotism ≠ globalism, «left» ≠ «right» etc.) are relevant to ethnic religions
17. drag Hellenism into the ideological fights of their own culture
18. don’t respect the Hellenes‘ right to self-determination
19. lecture Hellenes on their own culture
20. try to «correct» Hellenes into themselves.

21. Pseudo-Hellenists try to change Hellenic values, words or the language itself according to their worldview
22. project recent western concepts, for instance «race,» on to Hellenism
23. try to impose their lifestyle and ideological fetish (white race, classless society etc.) upon Hellenism
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 Hellenism
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 practice according to what feels right to them, instead of eiothotos (according to the ancestral customs)
32. aren’t able to distinguish their personal needs from the needs of the Hellenic people
33. mistake re-Indigenization for revivalism, and revitalization for reenactment
34. call themselves Hellenists even though they don’t speak Greek
35. regard the Hellenic religion as «faith» or «belief in the twelve gods»
36. think that Homer’s Odyssey is the Hellenic «bible»
37. think that pagan concepts have any place in Hellenism (soft/hard polytheism, reconstructionism, revivalism, folkism, universalism etc.)
38. hold on to Christian or pagan concepts and try to import them into Hellenism
39. mix what they consider Hellenism with paganism or occultism, or Romiosyni
40. «adapt» what they consider Hellenism to the «modern» world, i.e. their particular gusto or lifestyle, which is the manifestation of an attempt to westernize or paganize, i.e. assimilate, Hellenism from the outside.

41. Pseudo-Hellenists consider tarot cards to be a Hellenic tool of divination or legit in the context of Hellenic religion
42. don’t recognize today’s Hellenism as Hellenism because it differs from the image they have of «ancient Greece»
43. think of paganism, «magic» or satanism as being part of Hellenism
44. can’t or choose not to distinguish between their culture’s notion of «magic» from that of the Mediterranean cultures
45. homogenize ethnic religions due to their aversion against historically grown diversity and Otherness.