How Do My Gods Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways.

In my post on what kind of blogger/theologian/future cult leader I want to be, I talked about how one of my goals is to inspire my readers to play “a little more smoochy schmoo” with their gods—“a little more, ‘How do I love thee?’”

It occurred to me today that perhaps I should share a little of my own smoochy schmoo to lighten things up after my last few posts have been a little on the, let’s say, shady side.

Rather than doing, “How do I love thee,” I do “How do my gods love me?” Every Sunday I sit down and write out my gratitude to the big 13 of my gods. It’s a way for me to count out and record everything my gods have individually done for me that week and over my lifetime—or to give it a good effort anyway. Here’s an example from last week:

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Posted in Aphrodite, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysos, Goddesses, Gods, Hellenic Gods, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenism, Hephaistos, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Poseidon, Zeus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soul Bites Quotes: Dear God

“Dear God, I remember climbing up those shoulders—coming up under you like a lion—coming down like we were dyin’. Dear God.” Mason Jennings, Birds Flying Away

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Pagan Before the Pearly Gates

My philosophy on the afterlife is: In the end, we’re all going to be surprised.

I plan on going to Elysium. Elysium is supposed to be for heroes and stuff, so it must also be for exceptional future cult leaders, such as me.

That’s my plan anyway, but you know what they say about plans: A plan is a list of things that don’t happen. (From the movie The Way of the Gun.)

But what if I’m wrong? What if my belief in multiple “heavens” turns out to be false after all and Christian heaven really is the only heaven there is and Yahweh really is the only god there is? What if I have to stand before St. Peter one day at the pearly gates holding my Hestia candle in one hand and cradling my Demeter statuette in my arm?

I’d be sheepish.

“Well,” I would say. “I did my best. I tried to do good things in the world. I tried to be a good steward of the earth. I tried to be good to everyone… except those people I hated almost immediately for no good reason. You ever get that St. Peter? Is it chemical? Pheromones? Do you know or do I have to wait to ask the big G… if you let me in, that is.

I would clear my throat. “As I was saying: I tried to be good to everyone. I really tried.

“I loved all religions worthy of love—all trees that bore good fruit—any religion that did not abuse its followers either physically or mentally. That was my rubric and I believe it was a good one.

“And finally, although I may have been praying to idols or demons or simply to the empty air, I loved my gods and I loved them well. Surely I have a green checkmark or two for that.”

Do you think he would let me in, or would he look down at me with the squinty eyes and open the trapdoor beneath me?

“As I fall past, remember me.” -Andrew Hudgins, Praying Drunk

-M.

Future Cult Leader and Resident of Elysium

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Things I Don’t Believe In … In My Own Religion

I should put a disclaimer here that my religion is more Hellenist-leaning than actual Hellenic reconstruction. I respect reconstructionists for all their study and hard work, but that’s not something I do or find personal value in. In other words: it doesn’t blow my skirt up the way it does for some other people. My religion is more like a revival than a reconstruction. The gods to whom I am devoted are the gods of Hellas. I keep some ancient practices such as libations and honoring Hestia first and last before any formal prayer or ritual. I celebrate the Hellenic holidays—one way or another—usually in small acts and offerings to charity. I keep a jar in my cupboard for Zeus, to thank him that my pantry is always full. I think that’s about it. I pray. I pray pray pray. I pray informally, but I do pray.

But, as teased, here’s the big list of things I don’t believe in or do:

I don’t make lustral water. I don’t always remember to wash my hands before I pray.

I don’t wear robes to do rituals. I hardly ever do rituals.

I don’t make burnt offerings. I don’t set aside part of my meals for Hestia. (I really should though. That is a practice I embrace.)

I don’t believe the gods are all how they are described in the various hymns, epic poems, and myths. I believe those things give us some idea about the nature of the gods, but the gods reveal themselves differently a lot of the time.

What else don’t I do?

I don’t believe in miasma. I believe a good god who is a “friend of humanity” understands that we’re dirty creatures and that sometimes we need them most when we’re dirtiest. I don’t believe a god discriminates based on whether or not you smell of sugar and spice or sun and sweat.

That’s an important one.

Other than candles or incense, I don’t give material offerings at my shrine. I don’t believe offerings of that kind are in the spirit of ancient offerings. I believe offerings are, in part, about sacrifice. What sacrifice is an orange and a flower to me when I can just go to the grocery store and get more anytime? I believe the money spent on things like fruit and flowers that would rot and go to waste is better spent on a charity in the god’s sphere of influence.

I don’t say things in Greek because I would butcher the pronunciation and because I don’t think it’s necessary. I believe addressing the gods in your native tongue is an intimacy.

I don’t believe gods get offended by a whole lot except active ingratitude and hubris. I don’t believe there is such a thing as sin and, therefore, it is impossible to sin against the gods.

While I do believe in divine retribution, I think you have to really, really push the limits in order for it to be enacted on you. If you’re worried about incurring divine retribution, you probably haven’t done anything near awful enough to incur it.

That was weird—making a list of things about my own religion that I don’t believe in. Like a backward, hand-walking catechism.

I’m sure if I have any Hellenic Reconstructionist followers, they can give me another whole big giant list of things I don’t do. My practice is, admittedly, awfully minimalistic and my spiritual beliefs are broad and extremely liberal. (Lazy future cult leader’s way out.)

What don’t you believe about your own religion? I’m fascinated to find out. Let’s go to our cult clubhouse, sit on our lily pads, and discuss. I’ll make French onion soup, (I make a mean French onion soup), and this time I’ll even remember to save a bowl for Hestia.

-M.

Posted in Fiuture Cult Leader, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenism, Offerings, Theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Losing The Sacred Canopy

Put The Sacred Canopy sociology of religion book down for intractable arrogance and picked up an intro to the sociology of religion textbook instead. It’s a much more pleasant read. It’s also a much easier read, but that’s not why I like it better. I swear.

-M.

Future Cult Leader

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Couldn’t Remember Today…

…who the main guy is in The Odyssey. … Really.

Starts with an “O,” Michelle. Starts with an “O.”

Posted in Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenism, Humor, MysticLife, Mythology, Soul Bites Book Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bodhi Day—All the Enlightenment in All the World

Today is Bodhi Day. It marks the day when the Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. Today is a day for meditation, reflection, and spiritual peace. Here are some ways to celebrate:

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