Pete, over at Aspis of Ares recently wrote such a wonderful article, I have to share the highlights with you today. His post is about some of the things that he has learned during his years in the Hellenic Polytheist community, and the beginning of his devotional practice. It is aptly titled: 'S**t I Wish I had Known'. His main points:
  1. Devote yourself to the Gods, and also to people
  2. Keep a diary and record your experiences and offerings you give
  3. Start slow
  4. Be patient and persevere
  5. Pack your big-kid underpants
  6. Don’t forget the Gods
When I first started out, I dove in head first. For me, that works: I take everything I know I should be doing and do it to the best of my abilities and knowledge. Along the way, my practice got refined, and slowly, I start taking out some things that were not Recon enough and added others in their place. I don't like starting slow. That said, in a way, I have done that: I keep adding Gods to my daily prayers as I learn more about Their influence on my life and household worship in general, and I slowly reach out more and more to the community that is available to me on-line. That said, there are a few things that I wish someone had told me when I started out, and that I would like to tell you today.
  • Practicing Hellenismos as a lifestyle is easy. There are few new ideas to wrap your head around--the most important being arête, kharis, and xenia--and then you can basically live a Hellenistic life.
  • The ancient Hellenes used things in their household worship that were available to them. When you start out, you don't have to invest hardly any money: take two bowls from your kitchen, one for pouring, one for pouring into. Buy wine if you can, use water for libations if you must. Burn what is in your spice rack for incense. Money should never be a reason to delay your active practice.
  • Focus on your household worship. This is the cornerstone of our faith. Routinely sacrifice to the Theoi, say a few words to Hermes a you leave the house, provide all your shrines with regular offerings. Practice the Hene kai Nea, Noumenia and Agathós Daímōn. Find a routine, and stick to it.
  • The festivals are great, but it took me a while to realize that most of us are not part of a large enough community to reconstruct the festivals. We can, however, celebrate household versions of it by pouring libations to the Theoi honored during them.
  • You don't have to be a scholar to practice Hellenismos: others in the community will be scholars for you, and most of them will be wiling to share. Frequent blogs, join groups, ask any question that comes into your head. Many of us, myself included, are willing to help you if you ask nicely.
  • Philosophy is an important part of Hellenismos, but if it doesn't appeal to you, leave it be for the time being. Get back to it when you are ready.
  • Mythology is an important part of Hellenismos, but if it doesn't appeal to you, leave it be for the time being. Get back to it when you are ready.
  • There is no 'wrong' or 'right' way to practice Hellenic Polytheism, only people who think there is.
  • There are, however, guidelines to practicing Traditional, or Reconstructive, Hellenismos. Anything with watchtowers, athames, or other Neo-Pagan influences is not part of Hellenismos. If you don't follow the basic ritual structure, your practice might not apply either. that said:
  • There is nothing wrong with a non-Traditional practice. Period. And let no one tell you otherwise.
  • 'Community' is not just religious. Get involved in your city. Do volunteer work. Pick up litter. Keep your city and the people in it in your prayers.
  • Never forget your immediate family in your prayers. The people who are actually part of your oikos should be on the top of your prayer list.
  • Pray for your friends and family. It's a big no-no in the Neo-Pagan world, but your friends and family are part of your extended oikos, and you can extend your kharis with the Gods to them.
  • No matter how passionately you feel about your viewpoints, be a good person. Practice arête in your religious community. Don't be a jerk.
I will add more to this list in coming years, I suspect, or I might make a new post entirely. That said, are there things you wish you had known when you first started out?