Baring the Aegis: Hellenismos
Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.
Self, in relation to Deity
Those of you who have been visiting this blog for a while are most likely aware I have a pretty Reconstructionistic approach to Reconstructionism. I came to Hellenismos from a Neo-Wiccan/Eclectic Religious Witchcraft path and have never been subject to the restrictions religion seems to have brought to those who came here through Christianity or other major religions. Because of this, I have no qualms in surrendering part of my autonomy to serve the Theoi (and other Gods, before my progression into Hellenismos). Today I want to talk about finding the balance between yourself and your Deities, a balance that is different for everyone.
Depending on your Tradition (and I'm just going to assume that since you're reading this, you have allowed the Gods in your life), you will describe your relationship with the Gods in a myriad of ways; work with, commune with, meet with, talk with, worship, appease, etc. I serve. I worship, too, and I appease. Sometimes, I talk to the Theoi, but above all, I serve.
Funnily enough, I'm not a submissive person. I'm a caring person, true, and I will gladly put others ahead of myself, but I do that from a place of personal strength and confidence. I choose to put others' needs ahead of my own at times, but I claim my own space and rights when I need to. I have boundaries that no one ever crosses, unless I allow them. I learned to do this the hard way, when I was still a child. Yet, when it comes to the Theoi (and other Gods before Them), I seem to be completely without boundaries.
This means that--when it comes to the Theoi--I say 'how high' when They say 'jump', regardless of what is requested of me. It also means that I put my faith in Them. When I pray and sacrifice to Zeus the Thunderer for a day without rain as I do my rounds outside, I don't bring an umbrella. I trust that Zeus will either honor my prayer through kharis, or will have good reason not to. Who am I to go against His wishes and stay dry, regardless? To me, that is hubris.
One of the most controversial posts on this blog, 'How far would you go to appease the Gods?', was so controversial because of this notion. While this extreme is important in my relation to Deity, there is no reason why your practice should be the same. If you're in a Tradition where 'working with the Gods' is a big thing, you'll most likely give up a lot less of your autonomy to the Gods. Your relationship is more personal, more equal, than many Hellenists will ever have (although, I guess, there are exceptions to that as well, within the Hellenistic community).
I think it's fair to say that practitioners of Reconstructionistic Traditions always give up more of their autonomy to the Gods than their non-Reconstructionistic counterparts within the Pagan community. This is one of the reasons why Reconstructionism is not for everyone. I'm not doubting anyone's faith here, but a religious Recon approach forces you to to really believe in the Gods. If you secretly think They aren't real after all, or are archetypes or constructed personas, you're going to burn out. A Recon approach is a lot to take on if you don't have faith.
The Pagan community is wonderful, especially because of its many facets. The question of who serves whom is largely Tradition based, but where you fall on the scale depends greatly on your person. To know where you stand on this issue may be helpful in your practice, especially if you're trying to build any type of relationship with Gods. Asking yourself (and Them) about Their nature, your role in Their worship, Their role in your life and the relationship between you and Deity are essential to a healthy and fulfilling religious life. Some of these questions are questions we'd rather not ask ourselves, because we fear the answers, but being truthful to yourself and the Gods is one of the first steps to kharis and trust. Don't avoid the hard questions; they teach us the most about ourselves, our lives, our worship, and our Gods.
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