Pagan Paths

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.

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What do you owe? And what do you own?

I am in debt. Even when I do not count my study loans, I'm chronically--but not deeply-- in the red on my bank account. I don't have credit card loans, however, and I don't owe money or goods to anyone. I have had a tough year, but it's slowly getting better. Although I work, next to getting an education, my income does not cover all my costs. I am extremely lucky, though: I have a working partner who will gladly jump in and cover costs until my education is done and I can get an actual job that pays the bills.

I don't like being in debt. It's against the spirit of Hellenismos--or at least the two were antagonistic in ancient Hellas. Debts were paid off at the Deipnon--the end of the month--and those who could not pay them became serfs to their creditors. It was one of the main ways a citizen could become a slave.

It sounds a bit harsh, becoming a slave because of a missed payment. Yet, is modern life any different? Am I not tied to all people, companies and foundations who pull money from my bank account on a regular basis? Will not strong men and/or women show up on my doorstep if I can not afford to pay my bills and take items I own to pay off the debt? If all else fails, won't the government take my freedom? Aren't all of us a little enslaved to a economy which requires monthly contributions for protection, huge debts for housing and education, and for an ever-increasing number of people; financial support from their government simply to eat and have a roof to sleep under?

Debt has become normal; most of us owe at least some money. In the current economic climate, it's hard to avoid, and if you do, call yourself lucky. I live in the Netherlands, where the credit card hasn't really made its rise yet, but I know that across the globe, many people live off of credit.

One of my Hellenistic goals is to be debt-free as soon as I can. I want to break even around the Deipnon, and pay off those study loans with as much money I can spare off of my pay-check after graduation. I don't want to be indebted to any person or company. It makes me feel enslaved.

The economic beast we live in is fickle. It's build on fear, false promises and an unsustainable ideal of global prosperity. Now the house of cards is collapsing, it's good to take a look at what you owe and what you own, especially if you're Hellenistic. If you lost your income right now, would you have a house over your head in a few months? Would you have a car to drive if you need one daily? Would you be able to eat? The economic crash is bad, but we will recover from it. When we do, some of the hot air that artificially inflated our economy, will be gone. Take it as an opportunity to start anew; to value what you own and pay off what you owe. We are our own people, proud citizens of the world, and should be enslaved to no one.

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Elani Temperance is a twenty-seven year old woman, who lives with her partner in The Netherlands. She has been Pagan for a little over twelve years and has explored Neo-Wicca, Technopaganism, Hedge Witchery and Eclectic Religious Witchcraft before progressing to Hellenismos. Although her home practice is fully Hellenic, she has an online Neo-Pagan magazine called 'Little Witch magazine' ( in which she and several co-writers try to cover the whole gamut of Neo-Paganism. Baring the Aegis is also on Facebook:


  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley Thursday, 01 November 2012

    We're lucky enough to live debt free. It's true that 'stuff' can get repossessed, but in the U.S. at least, you cannot lose your freedom for lack of payment on a debt, even a secured one. I've found for our situation, the key to living debt free is not have a bunch of 'stuff'. I've read where others think that I mean live in perpetual purposeful poverty, but that's not what I mean at all. In fact, that usually comes from people who think the right way to live is with thousands owed in debt because everyone else does it. I actually love seeing the look of faces of people who find out we're debt's as though we're freaks!

    Luckily, we've always planned for the future, we don't rely on our local economy for much of our income, but even if that stopped coming in, we have no financial obligations besides power and heat, and we have alternatives for both of those readily available. We also keep about a years worth of food and have a well for water.

    If there is any reason to go into debt, if only temporarily, it is for improving your future, like getting an education or even buying a plot of land which you will develop into a productive homestead, other than that, I can't see the benefits, but I can see plenty of downsides.

    Thanks for another great post!

  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance Friday, 02 November 2012

    It's fantastic to hear your story, and I'm glad you have managed to find a place in the world where you and your family can be independent and self-sustaining. It's good to hear it's possible. It gives a woman hope ;)

  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan Friday, 02 November 2012

    Excellent post, especially as we approach the time of year when people worry about spending money on "stuff".

    We are mostly debt-free. We will be by next spring, and then we will incur debts related to settling down and buying a home. Having planned accordingly, we are minimizing this by providing a down payment on a home, even though our VA loan benefit means we do not have to do this.

    When we return to the U.S., I must return to working outside the home so my husband can go to veterinary school. We've already placed "stuff" (as we are both collectors - classic video games and consoles for him; antique books for me) far, far down our list of priorities over the past year. Instead, with an eye toward the future, we have saved and saved and saved.

    With the end of his military enlistment in sight, our focus has been preparing ourselves, emotionally, mentally and financially. Stuff can wait.

  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance Friday, 02 November 2012

    It's wonderful you are so far on your way to being debt-free! I feel your pain in not indulging your passions; I've had to put those way down on the list as well. We're not in a position to save yet, but we will, once the education part is over. Good luck with the transition you two will be going through. It looks like you're in a good place to get that started.

  • Mea English
    Mea English Friday, 02 November 2012

    i am placed in the debt free column also. i don't make much money but i have never owed anyone anything. which means i have no credit either. hm. anyway i find if i have more money i overspend. i own my own house, car and am building a trimaran sailboat. i ride my bike a lot and only drive to the market once a week or so. having magick on my side has helped and tuned me into a lot of stuff. and i don't have a ego problem which is also nice; so i don't have to prove anything to anyone. used to get into trouble with that!

  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Sunday, 08 September 2013

    Give a pledge, and ruin is near. It's as true today as when it was first written, but our complex economic system makes it seem otherwise. Despite Peter's claims to the contrary, we can and do lose our freedom to debt in the USA. We no longer have debtor's prisons, but we are enslaved by our choices for years to come. Not having something right now rails against everything our culture teaches us, and our very society conspires to obfuscate the enslavement, but debt and freedom cannot coexist in this or any other society.

  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley Sunday, 08 September 2013

    It's not even a fine line between the 'freedom' I was talking about, and the 'enslavement' you were, Terence.

  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Sunday, 08 September 2013

    My phrase "to the contrary" was likely a bit hasty. As you said, Peter, people think freedom from debt is unnatural now; we have built much stronger prisons than we ever could with bricks and bars.

  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy Sunday, 12 August 2018

    Actually they do have debtors prisons in the U.S. for legal/court fines & fees, as well as cash bail for misdemeanors. There's tons of ways in which poverty is criminalized in the U.S. Then there's having one's credit rating held against you when you are trying to find a job, even when it may have involved a roommate who didn't pay their share of the rent or escaping an abusive relationship. It's probably more insidious than how poor people were treated in the Victorian era, but people make the same arguments about the "undeserving poor".

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