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Author Topic: Reformed Hellenismos  (Read 5263 times)

Ouroboros

Reformed Hellenismos
« on: August 01, 2011, 10:18:47 am »
Over the past few years of studying modern Hellenismos, I have come to a personal understanding about Hellenic Polytheism, and the movement that surrounds it.

There are two main interpretations of Hellenismos that I have continually observed:

Traditionalist Hellenismos
AND
Reformed Hellenismos

Traditional Hellenismos takes the most literal, orthodox, and exoteric approach to spirituality within Hellenismos, and as a result is generally unconcerned with practices considered esoteric, mystical, and most especially magical. The tendency of this approach is, as I've heard it put, to focus on "authenticity over inclusion", and is very conservative in the traditional sense (from my experience).

Though I'd like to stress that magical practice is not the only point of contention between the two, it forms much of the basis of the argument in debates I've seen and been apart of. That being said, there are also issues surrounding the implementation of festivals, the structure of ritual, and socio-political issues, just to name a few.

I think it's time that a real attempt is made to approach Hellenismos from a more balanced and pragmatic perspective, and although I know of several wonderful people who do indeed implement pragmatic philosophy with regards to Hellenic Religion, very little in the way of exposure to such an idea is really given.

Personally, I think that defining this approach as Reformed Hellenismos, or something similar, will be an important step in the right direction, as will defining Traditional Hellenismos for point of comparison. I believe that Traditionalist Hellenismos is a valid approach, albeit too rigid for my tastes, but there needs to be something solid as an alternative to such an approach for those who desire it.

To me, Reformed Hellenismos is an approach that allows for a diversity of opinions about religious practices, and is less concerned about the "right belief", and more concerned with establishing orthopraxy. Personal interpretations of said orthopraxy are just that... personal - as is what other practices a person does or does not do in addition to their religious ones.

Whatever you think about this idea, I would like to hear your opinions...

Looking forward to your responses,
- Ouro
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 12:58:10 pm by RandallS »

Melamphoros

Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 10:33:53 am »
Quote from: Ouroboros;9904


 
You may find this thread on our archive board interesting:

Is It Time For a "Reformed" Hellenic Paganism?


Jesus saves, Allah forgives, Cthulhu thinks you will make a great sandwich.
My Spiritual Blog

Ouroboros

Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 10:38:41 am »
Quote from: Melamphoros;9910
You may find this thread on our archive board interesting:

Is It Time For a "Reformed" Hellenic Paganism?

 
Thanks :)

Nyktelios

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2011, 11:25:02 am »
Quote from: Ouroboros;9904
Over the past few years of studying modern Hellenismos, I have come to a personal understanding about Hellenic Polytheism, and the movement that surrounds it.

There are two main interpretations of Hellenismos that I have continually observed:

Traditionalist Hellenismos
AND
Reformed Hellenismos

Traditional Hellenismos takes the most literal, orthodox, and exoteric approach to spirituality within Hellenismos, and as a result is generally unconcerned with practices considered esoteric, mystical, and most especially magical. The tendency of this approach is, as I've heard it put, to focus on "authenticity over inclusion", and is very conservative in the traditional sense (from my experience).


In my experience, people who consider themselves to be following "Traditional Hellenismos" are often closer to conservative Christian fundamentalists in Hellenic guise. I've said this before in another thread, but modern Greece is a very conservative and heavily Christian nation, and quite different than ancient Greek culture in a lot of ways, and people don't make the distinction. The US also tends to also be a very conservative Christian nation, and the American version of being conservative and traditional is the same as being a Christian fundamentalist and corporate capitalist.

I don't really want to go into capitalism, because I'm no expert, but the ancient Greek economy definitely wasn't structured that way. Not that I'm saying the Greek economic structure should be revived, as it was based on land-owner elites who controlled the agriculture, and slave labour. All I'm saying is one thing shouldn't be mistaken for another. Modern conservatism is not ancient Greek conservatism.

What bothers me the most is when these so-called "authentic, traditional Hellenics" use a Christian moral discourse when it comes to things like marriage, abortion and even magic. While abortion and the practice of magic may not always have been socially acceptable in ancient Greece, they were not considered "immoral" or "anti-religious" like in Christian tradition. Although marriage could be accompanied by acts of worship, it was mainly a civic contract, not a sacrament or religious institution like in the Christian church. Marriage was the foundation of the family unit and civilization as a whole, and the vehicle of producing legitimate children, but there was no religiously ordained, unchanging model of what marriage should be.

Of course, I don't have a problem with Christianity, I just wish these so-called "traditionalists" would stop confusing it with Hellenism. This is mainly why I've lost faith in Reconstructionism, as Recons usually aren't any less ignorant about ancient culture than any other kind of pagan.

Astani

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2011, 03:24:27 pm »
Quote from: Ouroboros;9904


To me, Reformed Hellenismos is an approach that allows for a diversity of opinions about religious practices, and is less concerned about the "right belief", and more concerned with establishing orthopraxy. Personal interpretations of said orthopraxy are just that... personal - as is what other practices a person does or does not do in addition to their religious ones.

- Ouro

 
I thought Hellenismos, in general, was more concerned with orthopraxy than "right belief." And that the trads were even more so.

Anyway, I think a good first step in making a Reformed Hellenismos is making a calendar for holidays. Just like the one suggested in that thread that Melamphoros linked!

Shadow

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 06:23:35 pm »
Quote from: Melamphoros;9910
You may find this thread on our archive board interesting:

Is It Time For a "Reformed" Hellenic Paganism?

 
Thanks for posting this. I have really enjoyed reading this and it has given me a lot to think about and work with :)

Ouroboros

Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 07:21:58 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;9928
In my experience, people who consider themselves to be following "Traditional Hellenismos" are often closer to conservative Christian fundamentalists in Hellenic guise. I've said this before in another thread, but modern Greece is a very conservative and heavily Christian nation, and quite different than ancient Greek culture in a lot of ways, and people don't make the distinction. The US also tends to also be a very conservative Christian nation, and the American version of being conservative and traditional is the same as being a Christian fundamentalist and corporate capitalist.

I don't really want to go into capitalism, because I'm no expert, but the ancient Greek economy definitely wasn't structured that way. Not that I'm saying the Greek economic structure should be revived, as it was based on land-owner elites who controlled the agriculture, and slave labour. All I'm saying is one thing shouldn't be mistaken for another. Modern conservatism is not ancient Greek conservatism.

What bothers me the most is when these so-called "authentic, traditional Hellenics" use a Christian moral discourse when it comes to things like marriage, abortion and even magic. While abortion and the practice of magic may not always have been socially acceptable in ancient Greece, they were not considered "immoral" or "anti-religious" like in Christian tradition. Although marriage could be accompanied by acts of worship, it was mainly a civic contract, not a sacrament or religious institution like in the Christian church. Marriage was the foundation of the family unit and civilization as a whole, and the vehicle of producing legitimate children, but there was no religiously ordained, unchanging model of what marriage should be.

Of course, I don't have a problem with Christianity, I just wish these so-called "traditionalists" would stop confusing it with Hellenism. This is mainly why I've lost faith in Reconstructionism, as Recons usually aren't any less ignorant about ancient culture than any other kind of pagan.

I completely agree. In many ways, Traditionalist or Orthodox Hellenismos, if you will, is very influenced by the conservative aspects of modern culture. Still, as much as I dislike it, people who profess it have just as much of a right to do so as those, like us, who lean a little more towards a Reformed Hellenismos.

For me, many of these wedge issues, especially socio-political ones, are going to vary widely from person to person. The problem I see with the traditionalist perspective, is that it is indeed trying to create an orthodoxy of sorts, instead of allowing differences of opinion. Now, more than ever, this kind of alternative approach is needed.

After thinking about this for a while, I decided that it might be a good idea to create a facebook community page dedicated to Reformed Hellenismos:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reformed-Hellenismos/136239793129939?sk=wall
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 07:25:18 pm by Ouroboros »

drekfletch

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 11:19:54 pm »
Quote from: Astani;9981
Anyway, I think a good first step in making a Reformed Hellenismos is making a calendar for holidays. Just like the one suggested in that thread that Melamphoros linked!

 
The main problem with that, is that it tends to isolate the gods.  Their celebrations and holidays were occasions to include them in society.  A calendar as put forth in the mentioned thread, does a decent job of creating an online community of Hellenists.  But most people don't live most of their lives online.

An online calendar doesn't take into account the various RL events that happen concurrently.  First to mind is Anthesteria.  It's a celebration heavily connected to spring, and first flowers.  But first flowers happens at much different times in Dallas vs Boston, vs Athens which has a different climate cycle than both.

It also is a break from how the ancients lived as distinct polities, with different calendars for every location.

It becomes a question of which is more important, a non-existant religious community that exists in tandem with one's local community, or the existant online community of co-religionists that is disconnected from most of one's life.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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Chapter 91 of The Order War by L.E.Modesitt jr.  If I could quote the entire thing I would.

Astani

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2011, 03:12:21 am »
Quote from: drekfletch;10309
It becomes a question of which is more important, a non-existant religious community that exists in tandem with one's local community, or the existant online community of co-religionists that is disconnected from most of one's life.

How exactly does it become that question?

Quote
It also is a break from how the ancients lived as distinct polities, with different calendars for every location.

We all know that each city-state had their own calendar. No one has to keep regurgitating that. And just because we don't live in city-states doesn't mean we can't have calendars. We don't need to emulate everything the ancients had. I'm sure not every festival was dependent on climate.

Quote
The main problem with that, is that it tends to isolate the gods.  Their celebrations and holidays were occasions to include them in society.  A calendar as put forth in the mentioned thread, does a decent job of creating an online community of Hellenists.  But most people don't live most of their lives online.

I don't get how the calendar would isolate the gods. An online community of Hellenists is what is most visible for most of us. I'm pretty sure if someone is celebrating a holiday online, they're including the gods into their online community.

Plus I don't think you can really create a community of Hellenists offline if you don't know any. If we could then yeah, I would include them in my rl society. But my rl society doesn't much care.

I was thinking about making different calendars for different regions. Mind you they would have to be large regions to make it more universal. Like a calendar for regions with similar climates.

But the first thing in my mind was making a calendar with just universal festivals that could be celebrated regardless of climate.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2011, 03:15:17 am by Astani »

drekfletch

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2011, 01:08:48 pm »
Quote from: Astani;10331
How exactly does it become that question?


Obviously, I come down on the side of offline life.  Because I don't live my life online with fellow religionists.  I live it offline with people who don't share my beliefs.  Should I ignore the gods when I'm living my life?  Should they not be involved and celebrated for their participation in the world I inhabit?  Most attempts I've seen (including my earlier ones) rely on a mostly arbitrary selection of dates, not related to any special time.


Quote from: Astani;10331
I don't get how the calendar would isolate the gods.


I miss-spoke.  Not necessarily isolate them from their followers; but isolate the celebrations from their followers' everyday lives.

Quote from: Astani;10331
I was thinking about making different calendars for different regions. Mind you they would have to be large regions to make it more universal. Like a calendar for regions with similar climates.


That's a lot of calendars.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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Chapter 91 of The Order War by L.E.Modesitt jr.  If I could quote the entire thing I would.

Astani

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2011, 02:10:55 pm »
Quote from: drekfletch;10396
Obviously, I come down on the side of offline life.  Because I don't live my life online with fellow religionists.  I live it offline with people who don't share my beliefs.  Should I ignore the gods when I'm living my life?  Should they not be involved and celebrated for their participation in the world I inhabit?  Most attempts I've seen (including my earlier ones) rely on a mostly arbitrary selection of dates, not related to any special time.


Everyone has a life offline. I don't get where the "should one ignore the gods in their real life" question comes from at all.
 

Quote
That's a lot of calendars.


The ancients had a lot of calendars :P

drekfletch

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2011, 12:02:58 am »
Quote from: Astani;10401
Everyone has a life offline. I don't get where the "should one ignore the gods in their real life" question comes from at all.
 


AAaarrrgh.  I wish my brain would make nice, little linear arguments for me to present.  Because I don't know how to present the fuzzy tag-cloud that it does give me.  I'm coming off more extreme than I intend to.  

    Most things I can think of to celebrate and involve the gods are things that are specific to a locality.

    The calendar you said you'd like to emulate was an arbitrary order of an arbitrary list of 12 of the 15 or so main gods.  The holidays weren't connected to anything other than the god.  Whether or not it connected to the worshipper's life was left up to chance.

    A calendar for the online community gives little direction for what to do when you're not online.

    You posit that there are universal events that can be celebrated all together at one time.  I posit that there aren't enough of those to center a community.  I'm all for getting specific, because these generalities just have us circling.



Quote from: Astani;10401

The ancients had a lot of calendars :P

 
Exactly.  And that was only in an area roughly the size of NewEngland, or 1/3 that of California.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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drekfletch

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2011, 12:32:55 am »
Quote from: drekfletch;10515
Because I don't know how to present the fuzzy tag-cloud that it does give me.


Another thread on the archive board is here.  In it, I expounded on similar themes to this thread.

And the OP of this thread is relevant, also.
There is no inherent meaning to life.  Stop looking and give your life meaning.
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Astani

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Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2011, 01:27:01 am »
Quote from: drekfletch;10515

    Most things I can think of to celebrate and involve the gods are things that are specific to a locality.

    The calendar you said you'd like to emulate was an arbitrary order of an arbitrary list of 12 of the 15 or so main gods.  The holidays weren't connected to anything other than the god.  Whether or not it connected to the worshipper's life was left up to chance.

    A calendar for the online community gives little direction for what to do when you're not online.

    You posit that there are universal events that can be celebrated all together at one time.  I posit that there aren't enough of those to center a community.  I'm all for getting specific, because these generalities just have us circling.


 
Hmm. I see what you're saying now. I guess I can agree with you that there really aren't enough events to make a community.

Haganrix

Re: Reformed Hellenismos
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2011, 03:15:45 pm »
Quote from: Ouroboros;9904


To me, Reformed Hellenismos is an approach that allows for a diversity of opinions about religious practices, and is less concerned about the "right belief", and more concerned with establishing orthopraxy. Personal interpretations of said orthopraxy are just that... personal - as is what other practices a person does or does not do in addition to their religious ones.

Whatever you think about this idea, I would like to hear your opinions...

Looking forward to your responses,
- Ouro

 
To me, Reformed Hellenism is strongly guided by the philosopy of Heracleitos, Socrates and Plato, and, as far as religion is concerned, by Neoplatonism, say the evidences of Julian an Saloustios.

Heracleitos, for instance, maintains that everything flows (panta chorei kai ouden menai, that is in our times called "panta rhei" - everything fows). Thus because no one could ever step into the same river twice we are allowed to make the rites adequate to our times. And that should not be called eclectic or "bad" as long as thougths and actions harmonize. The ancients too had perfomed their ideas into forms.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 03:18:27 pm by Haganrix »

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