Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Order of the Shield

For many Pagans, including many of us Hellenistoi, the ideal religion is one that is also somewhat organized. This is not accidental, the Western World has been under the influence of organized religions for nearly two millennia, and in the middle east, the semi-organized influence of Islam stretching East into Asia and Ocenania has created a culture of expectation, expectations of similarity and unity, that does not necessarily exist in the Pagan and Traditional religions of the world.

I am not saying that traditional religions don’t have a culture of similarity, they would not be traditional if they didn’t, but the Traditional Religions (think Hinduism, Daoism, Shinto, etc.) are much more open to differences. These are religions that are cult centered rather than theology centered. The cults of gods, spirits, ancestors, etc., can and do exist almost on their own, yet connected to the rest by the culture of the people. So cults and even entire philosophies and theologies of particular deities can exist side by side, even if they contradict each other, yet be accepted by the population without a lot of question because they either accept that the gods are all part of a greater thing (The Universe, the Brahmin, Heaven, etc.) and/or they accept that not everything is clear and understandable and that they are free to search for the “truth” in many different places.

Ancient pagan religions were like this too. Some nations, like Egypt, had stricter notions of what was acceptable because they had a long and conservative history of Pharaonic control, but even there there were a variety of cults that often told different myths and held to different ideas about the nature of divinity, and in ancient Greece not only did every city have its own civic and religious calendar, but every city also had a huge variety of cults, often offering highly specific ideas about what it meant to worship, how that worship was accepted, etc. This didn’t destabilize Greek culture, Greek culture accepted this as part of every day life, that different cults offered bits of a reality they understood existed, but did not have the means to fully understand.

Pagans, and I mean neo-pagans, often try to form organizations, to find out what is the “correct” way to do things, but in reality that is the church’s influences on our culture. The churches of Christendom seek to organize, teach, and control the population through zealotry and intolerance of difference, and part of what they teach is that worship requires a commonality of belief.

This is not the case. You and I don’t have to believe the same things about the nature of the Gods, the nature of their power, the origins of life, the existence of an afterlife, etc., and our religions do not rely on these commonalities. We don’t have to be of the same cultures, languages, genders, sexual orientations, etc., we just have to want to worship.

This is what cults provide us, and within these cults we can agree to certain realities, certain ideas, certain beliefs while those very same things do not have to apply to another cult, even when it is a cult to the same deity.

We need to get back to this.

Many churches, even the biggies like the Catholic church, have orders. Orders of monks, of nuns, of believers of specific aspects of the faith that operate, often, as separate from the whole, and this is so for a reason, because no church, no matter how apparently monolithic, will ever quench the desire of people to explore the different aspects of the divine.

As Pagans, we are, or should be, already on the edge of this, because our religions are not supposed to be based on monolithic hierarchical structures, but on the desire to worship and share in the infinite variety of the the divine beings we call Gods.

So, I propose we found the Pagan Orders. Deities, each immensely different and immensely variable, having his or her own orders/cults not under some umbrella organization imposing rules, but simply as a means to worship them.

I should like to propose first the Order of the Shield, in honor of Athena as protector and warrior. A cult whose purpose is not to put forward any kind of theology, but to honor, thank, and worship Athena Poliouchos, Athena Areia, and Athena Alalcomenis.

War dances, shield banging, and games of strength and the warrior spirit in all of us. But more importantly, worship and encourage in ourselves the spirit of protection welcoming toward others.

Thanks for listening...

Saturday, September 19, 2015



Sing today a song to Aphrodite, goddess of the dazzling smile, who rose from the sea and brought with her beauty and the scent of flowers.

Sing too to Hera, whose stern power binds those who pledge undying love, for in that bond lies a future of hope and joyful communion.

And to Demeter, mother of the corn, giver of sustenance, who you rely on for every morsel you taste, yet too often take for granted.