Friday, May 28, 2010

Hubris? Meet 2x4

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat--I am a Hellene but I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a hardcore reconstructionist. I am a revivalist.

In that vein:

Although I have a deep respect for reconstructionists of any stripe, there is a certain attitude among most Hellenic recons that does not sit well with me and is one of the primary reasons I do not count myself among their ranks. A good many recons I have come in contact with tend to ascribe to the notion that it is necessary to fear and appease Theoi in order to please them. I have no doubt this was a part of the ancient mindset. My fiancee and I were watching an episode of Carnivale last night that featured a horrendous dust-bowl storm. I thought, "If you didn't have the technology to know better, how could you not attribute something like that to angry Gods?" But, the thing is, we do have the technology to know better now--to know that natural disasters are either Gaia doin' her thing to sustain and renew herself or us screwing that process up. So why do some Hellenic recons still approach Theoi as if their worship will abate the storm? Why must we hold on to the ancient belief that we worship the way we worship mainly to keep Theoi from squashing us?

In the eyes of Theoi, I believe it is more offensive to hold onto this attitude when they have inspired us with the means to know better. Perhaps it was OK for the ancients to approach them that way because it gave them some comfort in a world to which they were extremely vulnerable--but what purpose does it serve now to attribute, say, devastating tornadoes to Zeus and allow the fear of same to distance our hearts from him?

But then, I am apparently very liberal about this sort of thing--believing that, in reality, it is almost impossible to offend Theoi unless you allow hubris (your perfectionism, your intellect, your fear), to keep you from a sincere and consistent practice.

Look, Theoi know you--every gritty little earth-bound nook and cranny. Attempting to hide these from them is foolish on the face of it and will severely handicap your relationship with them. Yes, it is good and respectful to wash in the khernips before ritual or prayer, but you must come to that prayer with both of your washed hands open--holding nothing back--not even the unwashed parts, inside and out.

I speak these things passionately because I have been guilty of them and I know firsthand how a raging, arrogant perfectionism can strangle a meaningful relationship with Theoi.  Many are the times I have needed, and received, a solid whack upside the head with a spiritual 2x4 when I have allowed that hubris, or worries over “not getting it right”, to get between me and my Theoi and stop us from talking.

I have discovered that If we humbly open ourselves up and keep calling upon Theoi, it will be given to us what it is they require of us, and usually it isn’t much except to stay in touch and honor the gifts they have bestowed.

Blessed by the Mystery,
(and the spiritual 2x4)
-M. Ashley


  1. I whole-heartedly agree -- and I call myself a recon-revivalist. I do feel that many people do not really understand the ancients very well. Now, I was a history major and have studied religion, theology and philosophy. There were probably as many different ideas about the gods as we have today. Any attempt to create a so-called universal hellenic cultural view will go down in flames because there never was such a thing -- and it changed over the centuries. I am more at home in the archaic era, others in the neo-platonic, etc. The only thing that holds us all together is gathering around Hestia's flames in order to worship the gods.

  2. Wonderful. A very valuable 2x4!

    I identify as recon but as time goes on, I move farther away from the hard and fast rules and rely on what my own gods teach me- things like this post, which you can't get from any book, but come to as a result of experience and a sincere relationship with your gods.

    So yeah, awesome. :)