[Welcome to our column, Talking My Path. Here, polytheists, witches, and Pagans of any tradition are invited to discuss and celebrate their spirituality in a series of five short questions. If you would like to participate, don’t hesitate to email us firstname.lastname@example.org.]
ev0ke: How do you define your particular tradition or path? Does it have a specific name?
KC: I am a Hellenic Polytheist. I also have a Unitarian Universalist background, so I respond to a variety of traditions. My beliefs have been Helllenic Polytheist for over twenty years.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits are honored in your tradition?
KC: My tradition honors the Greek pantheon headed by Zeus. Within the tradition, there is a big tent approach with some honoring nature spirits, among other spirits, and heroes, as well. Other believers may focus on the Theoi, such as the Olympian twelve, for example. Still others may choose to be solely dedicated to one of the deities. Again, a big tent allows varied approaches among a tradition’s polythiests.
ev0ke: Among the various festivals and holy days celebrated in your tradition, which is the most important to you, and why?
KC: I recently participated in an online Greater Panathenaia festival. I haven’t settled on a favorite one yet.
ev0ke: Which texts, websites, or other resources would you recommend to someone interested in your traditions?
KC: My opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I don’t speak from any position of authority in my tradition, nor for any organization in which I’m a member.
For websites, I suggest theoi.com and hellenion.org. I personally recommend joining Hellenion. Yet, there is no requirement to belong to any organization in the tradition.
There are a huge number of texts and resources on general Hellenic Polytheism. After understanding a basic overview, I’d suggest choosing a few deities or subjects, and pursuing those.
With a chosen focus, read books or articles on that to reach beyond the usual summary descriptions to get deeper. I found depth on one subject to be more fruitful. For example, with Aphrodite, one can read more complex and academic texts, such as Brill’s Companion to Aphrodite or Breitenberger’s Aphrodite and Eros. Or one can read more mainstream and accessible works such as Rozenzweig’s Worshipping Aphrodite and Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Blood and Roses. Or one can even read more whimsical pieces such as George O’Connor’s comic, Aphrodite: Goddess of Love. Or why not pursue all of the above?
ev0ke: Is there anything you would like to add, such as creative projects you are undertaking, festivals or events you will be attending, and so on?
KC: Working with formally registered organizations in polytheistic tradition communities is sorely needed. While some may disdain formal religion given past experiences, many find community there. I understand the hesitation. I waited a while myself before joining organizations in my polytheistic faith.
Organizations are what may endure beyond the lives of a tradition’s practitioners. In light of what other faiths have, people usually desire to belong to faith communities. I believe my faith is worth having. So, others may enjoy having it readily available through established organizations, as well. Religions are a group endeavor. While spirituality may be practiced by an individual alone, organizations foster common welfare within community. That is not a lone enterprise.
Our polytheistic traditions need more than recognizable lone voices, as valued as those voices are. They need recognized organizations expected to outlast their members’ lives.
The Powers That Be allowed the varied voices of polytheistic traditions to go dark and mute for generations at a time. There’s no guarantee they wouldn’t allow that again. It is up to believers to build common practice together. Doing this will lift up organizations, their members, and help religious traditions thrive. Such efforts in community foster healing, ethical living, a life of love, and the general common welfare. That is my personal experience.
I hope others will join together and support polytheistic tradition organizations. I feel doing so strengthens one’s faith practice beyond what practicing alone yields. Our collective voices are needed together.