You know, I’ve reached a point where I can’t help but think that maybe it’s just best for traditional polytheists, recons, and academics to separate from the greater neo-/pagan community. What good has come from this long-standing habit of continuing to hang out together, in spite of diminishing common ground? Furthermore, I’ll wager there was never really much of that to begin with, just a lot of people insisting that there was. The dowager Hekate invented by Robert Graves to enforce his “maiden-mother-crone” archetype has little in common with the maiden Hekate of traditional Hellenismos.
Yeah, I’ve seen on the periphery that the Heathens/Asatruar/Northern Polytheists/etc…, who’re actively separate from the neo-pagan community (which seems to be most of them, in spite of insistence of otherwise from many pagans, which seems largely fostered by the fact that the only Heathens, etc, that most pagans know still participate in the pagan community) have their own problems that, considering all the fun times going down in Hellas right now, what with Golden Dawn (the Greek Neonazi party, not the occult order), makes me rather apprehensive to even suggest separatism, I’m at a point where I barely read blogs from non-Hellenists, anymore, and when I do, so little resonates with me that I often wonder why I even bother, anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, separatism would also pose issues for me even here in the States, cos guess what? I’m extroverted and social and prone to get depressed from lonliness, and let’s be frank: There just aren’t that many Hellenists in Michigan; at least if I’m ostensibly open to doing things with neo-/pagans, there’s a possibility that I’ll find a few people just by walking up the street to the Triple Goddess bookstore. I forsee very little reward from cutting myself off from potential community when community ritual was a BIG part of the ancient religion. Furthermore, there are still plenty of ostensibly “neopagan” texts that I have gotten some use from, if only cos I have a talent for what some call “artistic thinking” and can easily adapt information to ancient Hellenic thinking, Classical Hedonist philosophy, and so on. Yeah, The Urban Primitive, as a quick example, was pretty far from indispensable, and has a lot of issues, in a bad way, but since I have a decent foundation in devotional Hellenismos, I found it pretty easy to adapt the good information that was in there. Other books have been a little better, some worse, most about on-par.
Community was a BIG part of the ancient Hellenic religion. “Personal patron/esse/s” were so few and far-between, unless you count things like patron deities of one’s profession, or Apollon and Artemis as the protectors of youth until adulthood, that it’s really no surprise that there’s a contingent of Hellenists who considers the mere notion “neopagan hubris”, and the very personal take on Hellenism that many people seem to prefer now…. I gotta admit, I’ve got mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the idea of a largely impersonal Deity, as it’s understood in the Western world of today, seems largely an invention of mainstream Protestant sects –while in Catholicism, God Itself requires intermediaries, such as their priesthood and Saints to contact for It, few Catholics bat an eye at the notion of people who believe that they have a very personal relationship with various Saints, or aspects of the Virgin, or even Holy Spirit. One of the exceptions is Quakerism, or rather, the Society of Friends, wherein, in a nutshell, The Holy Spirit, is the personal aspect of the universal transcendental God, and it can be so personal that no priesthood exists within Quakerism (at least not genuine Quakerism, there is a splinter of “Evangelical Friends”, which really isn’t any different from other Evangelical churches, except that they’re nominally pacifists). There may be other exceptions I’m unfamiliar with, but these are the two sects (well, plus Anglicanism / Episcopalism), that I’m most familiar with, having grown up with those sects. Amongst Hindus, as can even be plainly seen in any documentary for Westerners, personal relationships with the Diveine through one particular (face of) deity or another, are fairly commonplace, and can be plainly seen in just about any documentary series made for cable tevelision. The origins of Monotheism suggest that this was born of an enforced “henotheism”, or monolateral polytheism of Canaanite people, that very well may have origins in the personal relationships of a few people in power. Even surviving Greco-Roman texts have a plenthora of evidence that personal relationships with Deity weren’t at all uncommon, even if it’s best assumed to not have been mainstream or universal. There is certainly room in traditional Hellenismos for those with very personal relationships with the Theoi, even if it’s simply not required.
So why should Hellenism separate? What makes it feel like a good idea, at least on occasion?
Because I am tired of reading “pagan” books and almost never seeing my religion, or any other traditional polytheism represented.
Because I’m tired of rampant anti-intellectualism being status quo on most lists and fora because precious fee-fees are more important than facts, no matter how much civility is used to point out and explain these facts.
Because I’m simply bored of answering the same questions, over and over again.
Because even though I’m not a Heathen, I’m just fed up with people who conflate Neonazis and Shinheads and when Neonazis become Asareuar, people think that a clever and accurate pejorative to throw around is “Skinheathen”.
Because I’m so tired of people who are Hellenists AND who are so wrapped up in the North American pagan community that they’re willing to turn a blind eye to shit like Golden Dawn, the Greek Nazi Party, and shrug off intolerance from other Hellenists all over the globe as being somehow “fringe”, in spite of growing evidence that it’s a sizeable minority amongst the Hellenic diaspora, and a major population of traditional polytheists on the Greek peninsula and islands. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Not “your community”, so it’s not your problem, eh?
It just seems pretty clear to me that there are Pagans, a group of religions that are generally polytheistic and pre-Christian and may not identify with the term “pagan”, not even in the traditional, academic sense, and then there are pagans, a group of quasi-hippies that generally take a more “do as you like, even if not at all” approach to religion as a whole, including rituals and beliefs, and generally makes up a strong majority of “The Pagan Community” in North America.
The Pagan Community is a nice place to visit, and certainly has some useful information at times, and some really neat people within it, but it always seems that the more I pay attention to the community, much less engage it, the more I realise that while I certainly share a lot of the more socio-political ideals common within paganism, religiously, I’m far more Pagan than pagan, and it causes me unnecessary stress to keep pretending that there’s still significant common ground between my religion and the pagans of the Pagan Community.