Friday, June 6, 2008

Divisiveness

There are people ranting about the Hellenic communities right now. Why is this newsworthy? Well, technically it isn't. It's much the same as what happened within the vaunted halls of the Wiccan religion about 30 to 40 years ago, when the American Wiccans were battling the British Wiccans and various factions of Wicca were spinning off the more traditional versions. Witch wars happened, people hurt others, lashed back, and it was just pretty nasty. The reverberations of that 'war' lasted until very recently, and in some cases, continue even today.

Does Hellenismos and Hellenic polytheism need to go through these birth pangs? In a way, yes. While I dislike such in-fighting, it is a part of the growing and defining process. It is unlikely that the rigid definition of Hellenismos touted by some, will win this fight. The question is whether any definition will win, or if Hellenismos will go the way of Wicca, and become so fractured that it almost falls apart.

I do not think that the various Hellenic traditions will fracture. Unlike Wicca (or at least public Wicca), there are set Gods and Goddesses that are worshiped within the Hellenic traditions. There is a vast amount of historical and mythological information there, both primary and secondary texts, which Wicca did not have. There are many scholarly books which describe what the Greeks and Romans did throughout the Hellenic ages, in great detail, from a non-religious point of view, again something which Wicca never had.

As we learn more about the Greeks and Romans, and the way they lived throughout the Hellenic ages, we will refine our practices. The basic forms of Hellenic worship are fairly clearly delineated, although most of what is written was for larger groups. Modern archaeologists are finally beginning to find evidence of home worship, though, and are providing us with new details each week. It's exciting, watching a dead religion come back to life!

On the other hand, is it right, is it correct, for us to simply resurrect the dead Greek religion, and put it on a shelf to look at from time to time? I say NO! If we purport to believe in these Gods, then we must provide them with living worship. Living worship cannot be stagnant, by definition. Therefore, if the religion is to be practiced, as opposed to just admired or written about, it is necessary for it to grow and change.

I believe it is our responsibility to be connected strongly to the past, but to find the paideia and arete of our own world, and apply that to that past knowledge. Only then will we have a truly living religion, one which can be practiced by a wide variety of pious people, in the here and now. Only then can we truly say that Hellenic polytheism and Hellenismos are a burgeoning world religion.
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