It’s about fucking time

Sorry to interrupt the regularly scheduled Bolanalia merriment, but even though it’s still in the “hopeful’ stages, this is such good news to me that I had to share:

Greece moves to ban far-right Golden Dawn party

Government to table emergency legislation after murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas at ultra-nationalist rally

The Greek government has hinted that it will seek to ban Golden Dawn after the far-right party was linked to the murder of a leading leftwing musician in Athens.

As violence erupted on the streets and demonstrators protested after the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a prominent anti-fascist, the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, cancelled a trip abroad saying the government would table emergency legislation that would seek to outlaw the group.

Amid renewed political tensions between the extreme left and right, the new law would re-evaluate what constituted a criminal gang, he said.

“Neither the state will tolerate, nor society accept, acts and practices that undermine the legal system,” the minister told reporters, adding that the attack showed “in the clearest way the [party’s] intentions”.

Earlier in the day, police raided Golden Dawn offices across the country, with media reporting running street battles outside branches in Crete, Thessaloniki and Patras.

Voted into the Greek parliament for the first time last June, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn has been widely accused of employing violence to further its ratings in the polls.

The socialist Pasok party, the junior member of Antonis Samaras’s two-party coalition, has campaigned openly for it to be banned, saying it should be considered a criminal gang.

The 34-year-old rapper died within minutes of being stabbed in the chest when he and a group of seven friends were set upon by around 30 black-clad supporters of Golden Dawn in the working-class district of Keratsini.

Eyewitnesses said the singer was stabbed several times by a man who suddenly appeared in a car after being phoned by members of the mob. The attack bore all the hallmarks of a premeditated assault, they said.

The alleged perpetrator, a 45-year-old man who was arrested when police rushed to the scene, later confessed to being a member of Golden Dawn. His wife, who was also detained, admitted having attempted to hide incriminating evidence, including party credentials linking her husband to the extremist organisation, when he called her, panic stricken, after the murder. Greek media cited police as saying the man was not only a sympathiser of Golden Dawn but visited its offices in Keratsini “five or six times” a week.

With parties across Greece’s entire political spectrum condemning the killing, the far-right group vehemently denied it had any connection with the crime or the alleged culprit. In a rare intervention, the president, Karolos Papoulias, warned: “It is our duty not to allow any space whatsoever to fascism – not even an inch.”

Fyssas, who performed under the stage name Killah P, would be the first Greek to have died at the hands of Golden Dawn, which until recently reserved its venom exclusively for migrants. Within hours of his death sending shockwaves through Greek society, the killing was being described as an “assassination.”

The article continues, but I really everything goes through to recognise those xenophobic Nazi THUGS as the “criminal gang” they’re more akin to than a legitimate political party.

And really, OF COURSE Golden Dawn is going to deny any connections whatsoever to the assassin —since 1946, Nazis tend not to admit that they’re, you know, Nazis. Racists tend to couch their racism in “I’m not a racist but…” soundbites than name themselves as racists –hell, even the KKK, in recent years, tends to deny that they’re a racist organisation but claims to merely be “sticking up for their own”.

I shall pray to Nemesis for Divine retribution against the fascist assassin. I shall pray to Athene and Zeus and Astraea and the Praxidikae for justice. I shall pray to Zeus Xenios that those who believe they are honouring the deathless Theoi, as individuals or organisations, yet behave in manners that reject the stranger-friendship that is the virtue of xenia Zeus stands for by affiliating with or even supporting Golden Dawn and similar groups in and outside of Hellas are made to either change their hearts and minds or have justice delivered swiftly upon them.

The fact that there are Hellenists who are affiliated with and support the filth that is Hellas’ Golden Dawn is a blight and a shame, and Americans Hellenists, content with their relative removal from the situation in Hellas and only barely more than paying lip-service to the notion of “engaging the culture” when it’s cute to do so (going to a Mediterranean restaurant after your monthly Hellenion libations? That is NOT engaging the culture), and so ignore this elephant in the room ought to be ashamed of themselves. If you don’t care about this issue, you are a hypocrite before the altars of Zeus who doesn’t care about the virtue of xenia –it’s really that simple.


Boeotian Theoi: Haides

I know, I know, it’s cheesy to do the “spooky” deities around this time of the year, but as in most incidents in life, I just re-assure myself: It could’ve been worse. Also: Better to do cheesy stereotypical actions as an insider than as an outsider.

So, Haides, eh?

The cult and temples to Hekate was small, but Haides’ cult is TINY, in comparison. TINY. The primary reason for this is obvious: Death is a spiritual pollutant, so while the Lord of the Dead must be afforded His due measure, one isn’t really given an incentive to do more than that, is one? Those called to His service, even today, are regarded suspiciously or, at best, as “odd, but necessary”. For some reason, the screenplay-writing industry, especially since about 1985, wants to make Haides synonymous with the Christian “Satan”, even though this is probably the sloppiest parallel that could be drawn (the Abrahamic tale of Adam and Eve’s fall from Eden by the aid of the serpent, unnamed in Genesis, but commonly syncretised with “Satan” by most Christians, comes closer to the mythos of Prometheus, for example, — but that’s another story for another time), as Haides’ role in Hellenic mythology? He is Lord of the Dead and His domains most commonly include funerary rites and necromancy. His epithets even include Νεκρων Σωτηρ (Nekrôn Sôtêr), “Saviour of the Dead”. It’s clear that Haides wants little, if anything, to do with human beings until we’ve passed on, so the only reason I can figure why His name has become synonymous with the Christian “Hell” and linked to an Abrahamic daimon that first gives people knowledge, and then tests individuals’ virtue (and by Jewish tradition, this is clearly in a context of testing man for G-d, as Jehovah’s servant) is pure, unadulterated ignorance.

Hesiod described this son of Kronos and Rhea as “strong Haides, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth”, and some translators feel that Hesiod’s use of “Zeus Khthonios”, “Zeus Who dwells within/under the earth”, in Works & Days is another name for Haides — which makes sense, as Zeus’ domain is clearly as a Sky-God within Hesiod, and so this could extend Haides’ domain to the fertility of the earth, which logically, He’d also be connected to via the mythos of Persephone, whose return to Demetre’s side on Olympos heralds the spring thaw. This also makes sense biologically, as the decay of bodies both animal and vegetable renews the earth’s fertility; death and decay are thus part of the cycle of life.

Another name for Haides that I see in the works of Hesiod, Aidoneus, is translated by Theoi Project as “the Unseen”. I’m unsure if this is the reason for or the result of the ancient custom to avert one’s eyes when sacrificing to Haides, but either way, it seems fitting; the Host of the dead is unseen to those still living.

Boeotian Theoi: Aphrodite


I) THEBES Chief City of Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 3 :
“At Thebes [in Boiotia] are three wooden images of Aphrodite, so very ancient that they are actually said to be votive offerings of [the mythical queen] Harmonia, and the story is that they were made out of the wooden figure-heads on the ships of Kadmos. They call the first Ourania (Heavenly), the second Pandemos (Common), and the third Apostrophia (Rejecter). Harmoina gave to Aphrodite the surname of Ourania (Heavenly) to signify a love pure and free from bodily lust; that of Pandemos (Common), to denote sexual intercourse; the third, that of Apostrophia (Rejecter), that mankind might reject unlawful passion and sinful acts. For Harmonia knew of many crimes already perpetrated not only among foreigners but even by Greeks, similar to those attributed later by legend to the mother of Adonis, to Phaidra, the daughter of Minos, and to the Thrakian Tereus.”

II) TANAGRA Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 2. 1 :
“Beside the sanctuary of Dionysos at Tanagra [in Boiotia] are three temples, one of Themis, another of Aphrodite, and the third of Apollon.”

III) THESPIAI Village in Boiotia

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 27. 5 :
“Here [at Thespiai, Boiotia] too are statues made by Praxiteles himself, one of Aphrodite and one of Phryne [historic lover of Praxiteles], both Phryne and the goddess being of stone. Elsewhere too is a sanctuary of Aphrodite Melainis (Black), with a theater and a market-place, well worth seeing.”

Aphrodite, as per Hesiod, is not the mother of Eros. This seems pretty consistent with other Boiotian writers. This seems to be of Attic origin, and Attika certainly ensured that myth’s popularity.

Like Adonis’ cult, Aphrodite’s was most likely a Near Eastern import via the island of Kypris, and Aphrodite’s Roxk is still a prominent attraction off the coast of the island, as it’s regarded as the Goddess’ legendary birthplace, formed from the sea-foam created of the castrated loins of Ouranos. Her conception is sort of the opposite of parthenogenesis, which is the conception of a baby without a male counterpart — indeed, She was created of three males: The seed of Ouranos, the skin of Okeanos, and the hand of Zeus. This is probably what lends well to the Second Wave Anti-sex Feminist dismissal of Aphrodite as “every man’s fantasy”, but I posit that She is something deeper than that.

Even in science, parthenogenic birth makes sense, either as a design of the species or in cloning, because females possess a womb, and/or the ability to lay eggs. It is thus that Aphrodite is an impossible thing: Even the ancient Hellenes, in spite of their faulty understanding of how conception actually works, formed mythology that has no shortage of parthenogenesis, and displays at least a squintable understanding that infants need to be nourished by the human body —thus Zeus had to swallow Metis to birth Athene, and had to sew Dionysos into His thigh (which my house-mate insists is code for weiner, but that’s another story for another time). Aphrodite, even by the internal logic of mythology, is thus an impossible thing, and yet She was born as fully-formed as Athene, and exists as plainly as Dionysos; by all reasoning, She shouldn’t be, and yet She is.

30 Day Paganism Meme: Day 15 ~ Pantheon – Every-One Else

I’m at a loss for words on this one, so I’m going to do a run-down of as many Theoi and Titans as I can think of, and a quick line or two (or possibly three) on how I see Them, my thoughts, etc…:

Zeus: Mythologically, He’s the God who puts his dick in everything. In real life, He’s a multi-faceted Father God who can be The Stern, Mean Judge one minute, and then crack bad Dad Jokes the next.
Hera: She’s a goddess of marriage, of fidelity, and of traditions. I get the impression that She’s more of a monarchist than Zeus.
Athene: Athene is like the Cool Older Sister who goes to political rallies and fights for civil justice. People who aren’t close to Her also seem to think She’s “kinda butch”, but I get the impression that She doesn’t see Herself that way. I tried to forge something with Her, but it was never meant to be that deep, apparently.
Aphrodite: As I said in my Eros post, I see Her bond with Eros as familial in spirit — They share a lot of common ground, but I’ve never seen them as mother-and-child deities. In fact, that one picture I added to yesterday’s post, with Eros comforting an exhausted Aphrodite, I think that says a lot.
Hermes: A god of the in-betweens: Travellers, story-telling, commerce — which is the exchange of money rather than the acquisition of said. A protector of thieves, but specifically those who are so out of necessity, not sloth.
Dionysos: Patron of theatre, wine, and all in life that proves delicious.
Hephaestos: God of smiths, craftsmen, labourers, the blue-collar working classes. A patron of those who overcome obstacles.
Ares: God of war, fighting for self-protection (rather than sport), and machismo.
Poseidon: Rules of the seas, bringer of earthquakes, creator of horses. A protector of many Hellenic cities.
Demeter: Goddess of the corn (grains), harvest, agriculture. She who prepares for the changing of the seasons.
Artemis: Goddess of the hunt, archery (for necessity, rather than sport — which is Apollon’s domain), protector of children (especially young girls) and all wild things. Always struck me as a bit of a wild thing, herself, and the glimpses of Her I’ve had, She struck me as all but feral.
Hestia: Goddess of the hearth and home; “the rock” that holds families together. Her givt to humanity are the domestic arts, especially cooking and baking.
Hades: Lord of the dead and ruler of all places inside and under the face of Gaea. Perhaps not the cuddliest deity, but certainly not the Hollywood “substitute Satan”.
Persephone: Goddess of changes. She turns winter into springtime, She transforms girls into young women.
Asklepios: Son of Apollon the Healer, and patron God of medicine and doctors; according to legend, He was the first.
Pan: God of shitting in the woods. God of wild things, shepherds, mountains, primitive musics. Consort of Kybele.
Herakles: Steve Reeves. Theban heros. By Thespian tradition, He is the father of all fifty grandsons of legendary first king of Thespiae, Thespius, by each of Thespius’ fifty daughters. By the account of Parthenius of Nicaea, He is also the father of the Keltoi via the daughter of “Bretannus” (though this story is apparently one of backward-etymology, considering that Hellenes had referred to the British Isles [including Ireland] as “Βρεττανίαι (Brettaniai)” for about three centuries prior to the appearance of this story). Herakles is a deity of responsibilities, physical greatness (as opposed to mere fitness), and obstacles.
Ganymedes & Hebe: God and Goddess of youth. Cup-bearers of Olympos.
Moirai: The fates. They Who spin the threads of each individual’s life and then weaves it into an immense tapestry of humanity.
Horai: Two sets of goddesses; the eldest keep the seasons, and the youngest keep the hours
Kharites: The three goddesses of Beauty, Merriment, and Festivities.
Hekate: Goddess of magics, witchcraft, ghosts, nighttime, necromancy; and according to Hesiod, “Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods”. Protector from bad omens and harmful spells. Eternally youthful, but mother of
Kirke: Goddess pharmakeia — often translated as “witch” or “sorceress”, but is the root for “pharmacy” and means “user or giver of drugs and medicines”. Wife of Odysseus. Her cult seems to have been rooted in herbal magics and medicines.
Hypnos: God of Sleep, protector of insomniacs. Older brother of
The Oneroi: The givers of dreams and omens. Older, but only very slightly, than
Thanatos: Bringer of death, typically a peaceful death.
Helios, Eos, Selene, The Asterea: Celestial Titans of The Sun, Dawn, The Moon, and the Stars.

I may add to this later, but for now, will close with a quote from my favourite science fiction series:

“Gods by the bushel! Gods by the pound! When every day is a fight for survival, you need all the gods you can get.” — Londo Mollari, Babylon 5

List behind cut:
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30-Day Paganism Meme: Day 3, Beliefs – Deities

I’m at a bit of a loss on this.

Why didn’t I change this one?

See, I’ve been putting this one off because I’m not sure how to essay this.

The simplest and most bleeding obvious would be to explain that I believe in multiple deities and multiple tribal pantheons, but that’s pretty obvious from previous posts. I guess I could extrapolate on that….

See, when I first started looking into Celtic mythology, I first tried to think of ways to compare them to Hellenic deities — and that was full of fail on my part. First off, there is no one Celtic mythology; you can say that there are two main Celtic mythologies, Gaelic (Irish, Scottish, and Manx tribes) and British (Welsh, Cornish, and Briton tribes), though some would argue that the Gauls were Celts, as well, and then there are some deities that seem quite apparently Pan-Celtic, even moreso than certain Hellenic deities, but if you ask around, there are still distinct tribal names, even if the differences between names seems minute to a non-speaker. Trying to put Celtic deities in a Hellenic model is asking for headache. Some are easy, like Aerten/Aeron (Welsh/Cornish Goddess of Fate) is easy to correlate to the Hellenic Tykhe, in domain if not narrative mythos. Then you get to Brighd/Banfile, and She’s the Goddess of both the hearth and of martial arts, of fertility, and of “all feminine arts and crafts” — which Hellenic Goddess is she most like? Athene? Hestia? Hera? Ask five different people, I doubt you’ll get the same answer from every single one of them. Lugh/Llaw Gyffes is another one like Banfile — He’s got sun and light, and that’s easy to sync up to Apollon, but He’s also a “god of many skills”, which just screams “Hermes” to me (indeed, the Romans likened Him to Mercury), and He’s a god of metallurgy, which brings to mind Hephaistos; he’s also considered chief of the Tuatha de Dannan in the Irish cycles, which is an easy similarity to Zeus. This is where certain brands of syncretism and / or “soft polytheism” fail me; the important thing to remember about polytheism is the “poly-“, the many — really, it’s far too easy to look at a deity worshipped by another culture and pick some of that deity’s aspects, but not truly learn about all of them (much less get up-close-n-personal with said God/dess) and say, “oh yeah, your deity A is like our Deity Z”. Maybe this gave some common worshippers among the ancients a neat little frame-work to have at least some peace with their neighbours, and maybe it gave the “Educated” Elite of Hellas (who pretty much dominated the philosophy scene) some kind of ego-stroke to believe that it was truly their Gods who were worshipped everywhere, and the Hellenic form is the purest of these deities — and hey, by hand-picking a few of Brighd’s traits and assigning them to the notion that “Brighd is Minerva and/or Athene”, it creates the illusion of knowing about your neighbour’s culture without actually troubling yourself with getting down with them and really and truly learning about their culture.

And this is where I have to disagree with a lot of ancient writers, who commonly made a habit of taking a deity from another pantheon and likening Them to one of their own. Now, technically, I’m rather forgiving of this practise amongst Hellenes, and maybe that’s where my arbitrary line is drawn, but this is an opinion piece, of sorts. In my own experiences, Lugh and Apollon, Hermes, Hephaistos, and Zeus are all very different from each-other — and most importantly, I get pushed away by Lugh. Plus, the number of people I’ve encountered who have similarly experiences separate entities far outnumber those who are happy to believe that Lugh is Llaw Gyffes is Apollon, and I do believe that means something.

I will say, though, and maybe this is me “outing” myself as “not a pure recon”, but though I’ve yet to find any rituals to perform to Him, I do connect with Oengus Og, indeed, He’s the only Celtic deity I ever really have, and I feel Him very differently than I do Eros, but then, I’ve mentioned this before, haven’t I?

There are deities everywhere, and for everything. Some of their spheres of influence will overlap with that of several others, some tribal deities will be perfect matches with others.

I believe each deity exists in Their own right and their own form, but this form is largely incorporeal and They may shift form to better relate to mortals — still, I see some constants among those who have become close to one deity or another, probably so that humans may become closer through that bond (like Hermes with red hair).

I believe that each deity, though ultimately incomprehensible, does have a range of relatable emotions and personality traits that we, in our egotism, ascribe as “human-like”.

I believe, ultimately, that They love us.

0. Intro to meme
1. Beliefs – Why Hellenismos?
2. Beliefs – Cosmology
3. Beliefs – Deities
4. Beliefs – Birth, death and rebirth
5. Beliefs – Sacred sexuality
6. Beliefs – Divination, mysticism and various woo shit
7. Beliefs – The power of prayer/reciprocity
8. Beliefs – Festivals
9. Environmentalism
10. Patrons – Eros
11. Patrons – Apollon
12. Pantheon – Mousai
13. Pantheon – Adonis
14. Pantheon – Nyx & Kybele
15. Pantheon – Every-One Else
16. Nature spirits, Khthonoi, & The Dead
17. My ways of worship
18. Community
19. Hellenismos and my family/friends
20. Hellenismos and my love life
21. Other paths I’ve explored
22. Hellenismos and major life events
23. Ethics
24. Personal aesthetics and Hellenismos
25. Favoured ritual tools, and why
26. Any “secular” pastimes with religious significance, and why
27. How your faith has helped you in difficult times
28. One misconception about Hellenismos you’d like to clear up
29. The future of Hellenismos
30. Advice for seekers

30-Day Paganism Meme: Day 1, Beliefs – Why Hellenismos?

Why Hellenismos?

Well, the “tl;dr” version that I usually give people is “because these are the only deities who’ve ever been receptive to my worship”.

The long version goes something like this:

I was raised in a predominantly pair of Anglo-/Catholic households. My father was Catholic, though raised Episcopalian (and would often trash-talk non-Irish Catholics), my mother was raised in Catholic churches, but only because my maternal grandparents were so entrenched in an Anglican identity that they had a sort of pseudo-nationalistic issue with the Episcopalian church, and my grandparents had a more influential hand in raising me. I went to Catholic school, but on a choral charity, and while I went through first confession and communion, I was never forced by my father to have a confirmation when I was about thirteen, cos at that point, he had remarried and could tell that I preferred my step-mother’s meeting house (she was Quaker), and making me go through a confirmation that I wasn’t into would have been a greater heresy to him than letting me go to Meeting House — plus, even though I never formally threatened to, I think he was afraid that I’d make a scene if he made me do it.

Despite having grown up with an obviously very devout father, my mother was never that into it, and I never really was, either — church was where I went to sing and develop my love of tacky art. I rarely paid attention to the mass, and since I was never quizzed on it, I had no interest in doing so.

I first learned that there were options besides Christianity when I was five and my sister started dating the HK Chinese exchange student, whose family is Taoist and retained a lot of the Chinese polytheistic traits in their household religion and mixed in some Confucianist philosophies (for some reason, I didn’t realise that there were still Jewish people until I was seven and my father bought The Sound of Music on VHS, and I got a lesson about Nazis from my mother and grandmother, I guess I just believed, until then, that after Jesus “rose again”, Jews converted — like I said, I was seven). The Chinese are pretty well-known for their very personal approach to religion — take what works for you, and as long as it doesn’t make you a burden to those communities, have at it. This strikes me as a tad ironic when you consider that the reason that Chinese Communism works for China is that their society was very Collectivist to begin with, but then I suppose this kind of makes a little sense when you consider that you can best serve the collective when you’re at most peace with yourself, and so an individualistic approach to religion can work for a collectivist society in that sense — but I digress. It was shortly after my sister married Chan when I was six (yep, pretty much right after she finished high school, as she’s about thirteen years my senior) that I started becoming conscious of other religions, but not really looking too much into it, if only cos of the hissy-fit my father put up that his step-kid “married a heathen”.

Now, in my Catholic school, as I said, I was there on a charity program, and my family was pretty poor, even for the charity cases. My father dumpster-dived and our larder had Government Cheese, Government Peanut Butter, and these ominous cans of Government Pork — my mother was a registered nurse, but my father was an odd-job man throughout the 1980s, I have a younger sister, another half-sister (who spent summers and alternating school holiday weeks with us), and after Nik moved out, we often had a couch-surfer (usually my father’s sister Karon, occasionally one of his AA buddies), so my mother’s salary didn’t go very far, and when she lost her hospital gig, the Salvation Army Rehab Clinic she then worked at paid even less. A couple of the nuns at St. Adalbert felt sorry for me, this gifted kid (both in voice an with a 157 IQ) from a dirt-poor family, who had barely any books of his own. I was often offered doubles of less-popular titles or “beaten up, but still readable” copies from the donations to the school library; one of the nuns offered me a copy of D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths when I was about eight, and yeah, it was a little below my reading level, but I took it because I loved the paintings that illustrated it. Eventually, I started reading it, and fell in love with Apollon and Hermes and Narkissos, the Gaia & Ouranos painting has made a lasting impression on me and how I regard Them. Their version of the Judgement of Paris and the war with Troy I don’t recall as being as Bowdlerised as it could have been (but then, it’s been years since I had a copy of that book, so don’t quote me on that). It broke my heart when my mother told me that the Greek gods “weren’t real” and that even the people of ancient Greece “eventually learned better” — which I now find rather odd, as my mother’s typical views on religion were rather agnostic.

Like I said, my mother’s words were kinda crushing, and so I was just kinda spiritually flailing. When my parents divorced, that was ugly, and at least at my Catholic school, I would have been better off as a bastard than with divorced parents, socially — if it wasn’t for the fact that I already didn’t get the appeal of Catholicism, I would have rejected it right then and there, cos kids can be fucking ridiculous. I saw all the after-school specials, I knew that what my parents were doing had no reflection on me as a person, but try explaining that to a bunch of vicious tykes your own age who can’t stand the fact that your teachers are reminding them all that you’re smarter than them, oh, and add to that the fact that you’re a runty kid, so yeah, I sure was popular that year. Still, aside from that, I knew Christianity and I didn’t fit, cos a lot of it made no sense, especially when you start getting to the arguments that “Jesus = Son of God = God”:

Did you watch the video? That’s seriously how much sense all of that shit makes. It’s one big logic fail, and when you have a ten-year-old pointing this out to his father, and the only explanation he can offer is “but it’s true”, serioiusly…. Needless to say, at about the age of eleven or twelve, I started looking for a new religion fast. The problem with that is, at that age, no matter what kind of a genius you are, the books in the adult section are dry and boring, and trying to find adults willing to tell you about things like that without parental consent are rather hard to come by — nay, impossible. Thankfully, this was the 1990s, and so I had a then-primitive Internet (accessed by the Lenawee County Public Library, after a heart-breaking move from Toledo, Ohio, a city which I loved very much), which gave me access to all sorts of lovely things.

Now, for some reason, I got an idea in my head that since my family is Northern Irish, English, and Cornish, I was going to go with some flavour of Celtic polytheism — and hey, I was able to find information on that on-line. I printed out some info on Celtic ritual, deities, a few holidays, and I attempted for a few years to learn about and commune with those gods and goddesses. For three or four years, in private, I tried and failed, and ultimately got a message I interpreted as a very firm “No”.

There was a big agnostic/atheistic dry-spell for me (more about that on Day 21), and this reached a sort of climax after I had spent two years in several different cities (though mostly Los Angeles; Cadillac, Michigan; and Chicago), I was in Charlottesville, Virginia, and had all but solidified a decision to move back to Ann Arbor (a move I still insist is temporary, despite now entering my sixth year back) and had one doozy of a week, so I bought myself a new set of clothes in an attempt to cheer myself up, and when I got back to the apartment of the friend whose couch I was staying on, I discovered she wasn’t back yet, and I had forgotten the spare key to get in, and it was starting to rain. I started muttering this really hopeless little prayer to Zeus, as that was honestly the only name that popped into my head, and as I was wrapping it up, my friend’s boyfriend came out (apparently he had overslept and was running late — but I had assumed the place was empty, so I didn’t knock) and the rain let up to a bright sun.

When I returned to Ann Arbor, I was stubborn for about the first year, and gave very little mind to the Charlottesville incident, but the important growth there was that I had pretty much stopped identifying my religion as anything I had previously done before. Then one night in 2005, on my computer, I was reading some batshit gay-related site a friend had sent me, and for some reason, the only thing that stuck with me was the Greek references and how this prompted searched for Hellenic polytheist groups. I found Kyrene’s site and joined HellenicPagan, Neokoroi, and Hellenic_Recons pretty much instantly, then KyklosApollon and other groups, and that’s how I ended up in the Hellenismos community.

But that’s not the question — the question wasn’t “how”, it was “why?”

The fact of the matter is, the only philosopher who ever really appealed to me was Diogenes, so the “virtue and ethics” that many Hellenists go all chest-thumpy on matter a whole lot less to me — plus, there’s a quote that Kyrene has always kept in her sig-file on the e-mail lists that always stuck with me:

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” -Marcus Aurelius

…I’m not into intellectual masturbation, and that’s what I see from the overwhelming majority of the people stressing the importance of philosophy (especially Platonic philosophy); just a bunch of gas-bags who’d rather chest-thump and argue, and look down on every-one while trotting out maxims that include “down-look no-one”. Obviously, it’s not the philosophy that draws me.

The community, I’ve learned to live with. As far as I’m concerned, the on-line Hellenismos community that I’ve come to be a part of is really not that much different from my own family (which, unlike the Hellenic community, I am thankfully estranged from): You’ve got members who love each-other, members who aren’t crazy about each-other but can still get along, members who barely put up with each-other, members who outright can’t stand each-other. I like to think I’m some-one who has settled into a position that most people aren’t crazy about me, and a handful have grown to love and accept me for various reasons; there are only a few people I consider myself close to, but like I said, it’s kind of an ersatz family — but I wasn’t really looking for that, either.

I’ve also tried to intellectualise polytheism versus monotheism; the best explanation I’ve come to is that if we look at the universe as beginning with One, and that One was a perfect deity, then becoming Two and then Many was not forced upon One, or that would mean either a) that One was never One to begin with, and/or b) that One would be imperfect to just fall into becoming Two; therefore, becoming Two and then Many was a perfect decision, and Many is what is perfect. Even male-male pairings in birds will adopt eggs so that Two can become Three, then Four, then Countless.

Ultimately, it was always about the gods for me. It was the gods who piqued my interest when I was a small child. It was the gods who made their presence known to me in their own ways. It’s the gods who I feel are assuring me that I’m “at home” with worshipping this pantheon.

Maybe I didn’t realise it at the time, but I first started to feel the presence of Apollon and the Mousai when I started singing, and even when I was singing Catholic hymns, it was Them I was worshipping — i only became conscious of this later.

I honestly believe that my prayer to Zeus in Charlottesville was answered by Him.

I don’t remember when I first started communicating with Eros, but somehow I know that He’s always been a part of my life, even when I wasn’t yet aware that He was there.

Sometimes the “how” makes little sense to me. I have no real Greek family background (unless you’re one of those whack-a-doodles who believes that the Hellenes and the Keltoi share more in common than a Proto-Indo-European background, like the Milesians of Anatolia are the same thing as the Irish mythological Milesians [seriously, I’ve seen this from some people]), and it’s not like I have a background in Popular Wicca or ADF or even Norse paganism. I didn’t get a classics degree (no, I dropped out of an English major), and aside from Diogenes, the ancient philosophers are of little interest to me, and I’m more of a Diogenes groupie than one who follows his teachings to the letter (after all, I like my possessions too much to free myself of them) — though I have no problem with those who genuinely use Hellenic philosophy to truly better their lives.

The history, though it’s something that Western culture likes to chest-thump about, is still truly fascinating to me, but it’s not just the history for me. Ultimately, it’s about the Gods, the Heroes, the Daimones, all of these faces and personalities that weave their very essences into the universe and drive it. The gods were how I learned about this religion and all of its own facets and tribal sects, and the gods will be here long after the philosophies are forgotten or rendered redundant, and long after all else has ceased to be. They are the deathless ones, and I’m a part of this religion not to chest-thump and wank intellectually, but to worship those deathless ones.

Maybe not every single facet of my life is entwined with religion, but ultimately, I live this life for them, and on their gifts, and I recognise that, and I love them for it, so that’s why.

Now why I came to the Boeotian tribes was ultimately my love for Eros. His cult led me to learning about Thespiae and Boeotia, which led me to an ever-growing love of those tribes. There is no way for me to do things in perfect replication of ancient Boeotia, but I can make it as close as I can, and that’s all I’ve ever tried to do.

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How Eros has Affected My General Worship: Chloris

Somehow, I think that the especial cult reverence that I afford Eros and the Erotes has helped me to see how the Theoi are connected and interact. One Goddess, Whom I now feel is often overlooked, Chloris (Flora, in Latin), the Goddess of Flowers, is one who I only really noticed after gravitating toward Eros cultus.

After noticing Chloris, it seemed quite obvious why She should be afforded at least some reverence in Erote worship: Many (and I do mean many) love stories in the mythos of ancient Hellas involve a metamorphisis into flowers. Many flowers are sacred to Aphrodite and the Erotes. Even in modern rituals that many people regard as being totally secular, flowers are often given in romance — and, interestingly, flowers are left for our dead. Again, we come to a relationship between Eros and Thanatos, Love and Death, a relationship which is far more pronounced in Gaelig mythology, and as we can see in the sources on, Ovid -in heavily implying Greek origin of this mythology (indeed, he implies it all over the place)- associates Chloris with the Isles of the Blessed in Elysium, and according to Wikipaedia, She is associated with not only Flowers, but also Spring and New Growth — an incredibly apt Goddess to associate with mythos often interpreted as life-death-rebirth mythos, such as Adonis or Hyakinthos, or even Narkissos.

In connecting Chloris to Eros, the nymphai of the flowers are next, then the nymphai as a whole, Apollon, Dionysos, Hermes, Artemis… basically any other Theos with strong connections to the nymphai. In connecting Him to Chloris, we bring Him together with the Seasons, the Winds, the Weather Theoi, Zeus. All roads lead to Eros: Love and Creation.