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.
Through a fellow blogger, I came upon an article about an author's loathing for the Pagan sellers of all the Witchcraft stuff one can buy. The post boiled down to saying that monetizing your faith takes power away from you, and simply buying your equipment will lead to hollowed out rituals. The post is here.
There is a long discussion in this from the Witchcraft perspective, but I'm not going there. I'm not going there because I left that path behind and the more I look back, I realize what a tangled--but beautiful--mess it is. Instead, I'm going to write about this from the Hellenistic point of view and take you back to Ye Olden Days when the Ancient Hellens still practiced their faith in their temples.
Religion was entwined with daily life to such an extend that you'd be hard pressed to find a pottery seller who had not depicted one or more of the Theoi on his work. Near just about every temple was a stand which sold small statues which one could sacrifice to the Theoi at said temple. Every temple complex had a treasury where the various gifts of the devoted were stored. Religion, back in the day, was big business--as it should be. It helped instill the presence of the Theoi in daily life.
I have said before that I wish more people would turn to monetizing Hellenismos. I'm still looking for that pendant, I still can't find decent statuary that I don't have to fly in from America or China, the thrift store is still my best friend in terms of finding items I can actually use in ritual, and I am still very happy for my semi-local new age bookstore annex supply shop, so I can at least find the incense I need for my daily devotionals.
I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money from your faith. If you're good at writing, I encourage you to write. If you're good at dry-walling, I encourage you to dry-wall. If you're good at religion, make your money that way. I'm at the point where I'm saving up so I can ask a jewelry maker to make me that dodecagram pendant I keep being nudged about wearing.
I do understand the author's frustration, though. Witchcraft is becoming a sated market where a lot of stuff has little meaning to the actual practice. I think I would prefer being on that end of the spectrum compared to the black marketing hole of nothingness where Hellenismos is located. I'd rather wade through the crap than find myself in an extremely limited religious position where the tools I feel the Theoi deserve, are none-existent, improvised or too rich for my blood.
I make no money off of either Baring the Aegis or Little Witch magazine, and I'm okay with that. Making money off of your faith, I feel, should always be for the best interest of said faith. I won't cheapen Hellenismos by letting Google randomly place advertisements on my blog. I feel this may be where the original author is absolutely right for saying that The Stuff is becoming more important than the faith: making money from your faith in a way that is in line with your faith is fine. Using your faith as a marketing strategy? Not that great.
All in all, the issue is complicated. I may not agree on flooding the market with items that make money off of faith, but, like Jason at The Wild Hunt, I believe that good work deserves good pay. So here is to hoping the Hellenistic community raises its artists to a new level. And because I'm still so partial to her work, check out Esma Designs when you get the chance. She may not be Hellenistic, but she makes incredible Hellenic jewelry.
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