I have a very short window to get a post up today--about half an hour--so I promise a longer and better post tomorrow. You have my apologies. In this short window of time, I would like to share in greater detail why, exactly, I progressed into Hellenismos. I want to share the story because I attended a small Pagan gathering last night and I was asked the question. Secondly, I was invited to a Mabon celebration last night where the main feature was a guided meditation to the Underworld to relive the story of Persephone and experience Her journey. If that concept does not raise the hairs on the back of your neck instantly, please read on to find out why it did mine.

My journey through the Pagan world started in 1999. I was thirteen at the time, and I discovered a little booklet about Neo-Wicca at my local new-age store. I was sold right away. By 2000, I rounded off a year-and-a-day solitary training based mostly on that book and I self-dedicated, a practice I continued every year. After that point, I walked a winding way through Paganism. I was Eclectic, but with a strong focus on the Hellenic Gods.

By 2010 I became aware that the way I was doing things, calling the Theoi into a circle, 'working with Them', summoning Them with my athame, was an incredibly disrespectful way to worship. Unsure of how to change my practice, I stopped practicing and became a bit of an 'armchair Pagan': studying, but not acting. I missed acting, though. I liked practicing--at least for festivals--so I compromised: I limited my work to the Horned God and the Goddess of (Neo-)Wicca, and studied the Hellenic Gods. It worked for a while.

Then, I was asked to aid someone with an issue. So I prayed and meditated and (UPG warning) felt Dionysos present Himself to offer help. I gladly accepted it, but decided on some actual ancient-practice research first, as I didn't want to anger the God who had just offered His help. I did the best ritual I could with limited information, and let me tell you, it was far from Recon. It did awake the fire in me to start doing it right, to leave behind--what I percieved as--the disrespect of my former practice, of summoning Gods, binding Them to circles and asking without giving the proper thank offerings.

I struggled with myself for a while longer, knowing that I was heading into Recon territory but not wanting to go there. For one, I wasn't quite sure if I was good enough, if I could devote the time and resources to it that I would need to, if I even wanted to be in that community, and if I felt comfortable leaving my own. I had also grown attached to my practice; as much as it wasn't working for me, it was still what I was comfortable with.

Then the Gods decided for me, and I progressed from questioning Eclectic to Hellenist in the span of a week. It was a whirlwind time and I found all the puzzle pieces slide willingly and easily into place: I knew this practice, I knew this frame of mind. This religion not only relected how I thought, how I worked, but it seemed absolutely destined that I would end up here eventually. It was exhilarating. I did a lot of things incorrectly in the beginning: I didn't have all the information I needed, but I firmly believe that hubris is only hubris if you are aware of your errors before you make them. In the end, I learned, and I am still learning.

Now, about the actual title topic of this post: there are many ways in which Hellenismos and (Neo-)Wicca/Witchcraft go together, but I personally believe there are more in which they do not. Take the example of a guided meditation into the Underworld: my first thought was 'oh good Gods, the miasma!'. My second thought was 'you have missed the point of the myth'. (Neo-)Wicca has a certain romaticism about it that the ancient Hellenes never ascribed to their mythology. I have long drawn out ideas about this, but it beyond the scope of this blog post--and most certainly beyond its time limit--but let me suffice in saying that, in general, I feel the myth of Persephone served three purposes: to explain the cycle of the seasons, to show the inevitability of (human) death, and to serve as a base for a mystery cult designed to deal exclusively with the fear of death and dying.

The Eleusinian Mysteries were not a cult for Hades in his Lord of Death role; in fact, I doubt they were mysteries for Persephone in her 'Queen of the dead' role. The Eleusinian mysteries were about fertility of the land, and had a decidedly 'upperworld' character, in which the initiates were prepared for death. We do not know this to be true, but I strongly feel there would have been no mock journey into the Underworld, at best the honoring of the dead.

I think the timing of the Mabon festival and the Eleusinian Mysteries this year--which occur on the same day--is wonderful, and I wish those participating in the celebration I was invited to a wonderful time. Yet, as someone who has experienced death and its miasma just a short while ago, I see no reason at all to repeat this exercise. It was a terrible feeling, and as a Hellenist, it would, indeed, be hubris to attend an event such as that. Incompatible, indeed, and I have made my choice.