We have already established that certain doom is sent by the Gods and should be suffered through. But there is another kind of doom, sent not by the Gods, but by fellow men. And against this, one is absolutely encouraged to fight.
I've experimented with magic since I first started practicing when I was sixteen. I'd buy books at the local occult shop, voraciously read them and try the exercises out. Afterwards, I'd think about how I could improve the exercises or change them or experiment with them. I was never satisfied with other people's explanations of how magic worked. I'm still not satisfied with most of the explanations about how magic works, and that includes some of my explanations. That dissatisfaction, as well as an insatiable curiosity drives my desire to experiment with magic.
Magic is perceived by some as a spiritual force that complements their religious practices, and by others it is perceived as a practical methodology used to achieve measurable results that improve the lives of the practitioners. Still others think of it as a spiritual practice that allows them to commune with the world and the divine. Beyond all of that though it is a discipline, a field of study that many people contribute to on a regular basis. The challenge with any discipline is figuring out how you keep it relevant to the times and to the needs of the people.
When we look at magic as a discipline, we see that it is relevant through the diversity of the community. Whether its the reconstruction of a particular culture and its spiritual practices, or the melding of Eastern and Western magical practices, or the evolution of a given tradition as that tradition adapts to the times, there is clearly relevance in magic as a spiritual and practical discipline. So the question may come up: Why experiment with magic, especially if the practices we have already work? Do we really need to fix something that isn't broke? Aren't we just reinventing the wheel?...
During the writing of yesterday's post on Reconstruction, an example of my changed mindset came to mind which I couldn't find a place for in that post. I told you all before about my path. Most of my religious life was spent as a Neo-Pagan or some form of Eclectic Witch. I enjoyed it a lot and some practices were so engrained into my life, I only realized I had them when I transitioned to Hellenismos. One of these practices was to buy (almost) only second-hand religious items for my practice.
The thought process behind it was that, everything I stumbled upon, be it boxes, chalices or books, was provided to me by the Gods. The only things that were exempt were my Athame, candles and incense. Especially in the case of books, I felt that the books I found in thrift or second-hand stores were the books I was supposed to find at that time in my life and religious practice. I took them as signs. In true Neo-Pagan manner, I also didn't haggle on the cost of any item I bought for religious purposes. It was a wonderful way of magickal living.
As I transitioned into Hellenismos, however, the change in mindset caused me to drop both practices without conscious thought. I knew what my path was, now. I didn't need that specific type of guidance. I left general Pagan books on the shelve that I would have bought only a week ago. With my new shopping list in hand, I still found myself in a veritable Elysium of possibilities. I also couldn't think up a single reason why I shouldn't try and haggle when the opportunity arose. In fact: it seemed like a perfectly valid Hellenic thing to do. And all of that over the course of, maybe, a week.
I have written before about the differences between general (Neo-)Wiccan/Witchcraft Traditions and Reconstruction. In that blog post, I focussed on the practical, on the part you can see. This is not the most important part of Reconstruction Traditions, though. It's a part of it, but it only exists because of a mental component. It's this component I want to talk about today.
In general, 'reconstruction' is the practice of rebuilding something. This can be a crime-scene, a broken vase or any number of things. In Paganism, Reconstruction means the practice of reviving lost religious, social and practical practices from a specific time period or people. It is not that different from reconstructing a vase, actually, and I will be using that analogy a lot today.
Imagine this; long ago, a potter made a vase. He needed to make one because he had something which needed a holder. He shaped it in a specific form, inspired by his culture and need, and when the shape was done, he decorated it with imagery that was also culturally inspired. Somewhere over the years, the vase broke into a dozen pieces. There was no need for that particular vase anymore, so no one put it back together. Now, people need a holder again, and it seems logical to put the original holder back together instead of making a new one, because the first one functioned very well. They realize that in order to put the vase back together, they need to understand the culture and whatever was going on in the head of the potter who made it; without that knowledge, they won't be able to figure out how the pieces fit together and they can't restore the imagery without knowing what the potter created in the first place.
Pop Quiz: What’s more magical – a redwood tree or a subway?
Which is more part of nature – a dirt path through the woods or a downtown street?
If you chose the first of each pair, you’re missing half of the story. Because the correct answer is – all of the above....
A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).
I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.
Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.
Hellenismos, as a modern Recon Tradition, is young. It's only a decade or two old and while it's starting to get off of the ground and come together, there are a lot of issues which have not been worked out yet. I broached this in my post about suicide and I want to delve deeper into it today. There is a promise of greatness in Hellenismos, but unlike the slightly older Wicca and its younger cousin Neo-Wicca, Hellenismos can't function on a 'coven-by-coven'-basis. This means it needs a doctrine.
The definition of Paganism I use is the one from the Cauldron;
Emphasis on 'self-identifies'. If you feel your practice fits under the Pagan banner, you are free to call yourself Pagan. It's not a protected term like Wicca is, and Hellenismos should be. Above, I stated that Hellenismos can't function on a 'coven-by-coven'-basis. What I meant to say with that is that the few Hellenic organizations there are can, of course, function wonderfully on their own, but they will both be practicing something different; their own versions of Hellenismos which are, most likely, incompatible. They don't form a whole, a unified religion. They would practice on that 'coven-to-coven' basis which, in my opinion, does not work with a Recon tradition.
I woke up this morning with absolutely zero inspiration. It happens every once in a while when you write a blog post every day and try not to work ahead as much as possible. Zero inspiration gives me the opportunity to look around and find something that I simply love to do, to read or to watch and blog about that. As I've been on a Falling Skies binge lately, trying to fill the void of the Olympics, that show fueled this post, although it's not much about that show.
Falling Skies, if you will indulge me the introduction, revolves around the survivors of an alien invasion as they deal with the constant threat of the aliens, the threat of humanity driven to the brink, and the challenges of reconstructing civilization.
I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories and a big fan of their respective series, movies and books. Anything from Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, Carriers, Resident Evil, The Hunger Games, The Books of Amber (books preferred), The Stand, Dark Angel, and The Book of Eli, to games like Fallout, books like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds and even T.V. series like Lost. But it's not all about entertainment; it's about a very important (religious) question: what would you do?
No, that title is not a typo. I do mean theoilogy.
Theology, to quote the ever-handy Wikipedia, derives "from Ancient Greek Θεός meaning "God" and λόγος, -logy, meaning "study of." God. Singular. By its very nature, at its very root, the word assumes a single Godhead. As such, I find the term best suited only to those religious systems which are explicitly monotheistic or monistic, eg Islam, most strains of Christianity, some branches of Judaism, and some sects within Hinduism.*
But, it is an ill-fit with explicitly polytheistic or even duotheistic systems, such as some branches of Judaism, some Christian sects, most sects within Hinduism, and the majority of Pagan and indigenous traditions. When I write about the nature of Zeus, I am not engaging in theology -- I am engaging in theoilogy. Zeus is not God Alone. He is part of a vast family of Deities; He is part of a web of relationships and responsibilities, and I cannot even begin to comprehend him outside of that web. Thus, theoilogy, from the Ancient Greek Θεοί meaning "Gods." Plural....
Today's Hekate's Deipnon and I have a lot to do for it so I'm keeping this post brief. Since my progression into Hellenismos, I have started to consider language in Pagan practice. Although I am Dutch, I have nearly always practiced in English. I love this language; it's softer, more poetic, more fluid than Dutch. It has synonyms that make sense. 'Practicing in English' became part of my practice. When I set out onto the Hellenic path, I naturally started practicing in English. I can't read or pronounce Greek yet so it made sense. Since about a week, I am not so sure anymore.
I tried an on-the-spot translation into Dutch of my daily prayers and hymns and felt a deeper connection to Deity than I had felt before within this practice. I started wondering why that was as I stumbled through my translations this week. I think... that especially Hestia appreciates my Dutch prayers and hymns because Dutch is the language that is spoken in this household. It's part of our Oikos. I'm not sure the others care very much.
Of course, I would rather practice in ancient Greek. I got myself a home study course and will be attempting to learn as much as I can on my own before taking a language course. It's not mandatory in Hellenismos to speak Greek but I would love to be able to read the hymns, myths and plays I base my practice on in their original language and form. Translations are lovely but there is always artistic freedom. Besides, for me, it's the language of the Gods.