The term 'Traditional Hellenismos' is one I frequently use on this blog, as it is the way I identify religiously. It is also the way this blog is written, so for the long explination of the term, please review the contents of this blog or even just its tags; it will tell you everything you need to know about the term. that said, I would like to dedicate a post to it that I can refer to to in the future, because there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the term.

I have tried to define Traditional Hellenismos before, but mostly in relation to Reformed Hellenismos, and while the terminology works, I have since become more aware of the way the term should be used. To quote from the original blog post:

"Two branches of Hellenismos are emerging: Traditional Hellenismos and Reformed Hellenismos. Traditional Hellenismos refers to those who strictly adhere to the ancient ways. This means animal sacrifice when appropriate, out-door sacrifices, and communal worship. Those who can't--or will not--practice Hellenismos this way, but who reconstruct everything else, practice Reformed Hellenismos."

The definition is correct, but far too generalized. An attempt at a better definition of Traditional Hellenismos:

"Traditional Hellenismos is a manner of Reconstructionism, where the practices of the ancient Hellenic peoples are understood and applied as much as possible in the modern day setting. This method of Reconstructionism requires knowledge of the ancient ways, but even more so, an understanding of it, so any modern adaption can be undertaken in the spirit of the ancient Hellenic practice."

Better, at least as far as I am concerned, but it requires more of an explination. I believe that those who practice Traditional Hellenismos have an obligation to learn as much about ancient Hellas and its religious practices as possible. They need to be aware of the full meaning of core principles like 'miasma', 'kharis', 'arate' and 'xenia', and appy these in their daily and religious life. By fostering this understanding of ancient Hellas, it becomes possible to judge modern influences on their ability to be integrated into a Traditional approach to Hellenismos, and find creative solutions to modern day difficulties in reconstructing the ancient ways.

Take animal sacrifice mentioned above. In a Traditional practice, I still feel animal sacrifice has a place. If I raised animals for meat, they would most certainly be sacrificed to the Gods when they came to the end of their lifespans. That said, I live in a moderately urban area; all I have is a lawn and a bunch of housemates who will undoubtedly disagree with me slaughtering an animal, and even if I could, I am not legally allowed to. This part of the ancient practice, I cannot reconstruct. That said, especially near therise of the Roman empire, more and more ancient Hellenes opted for non-animal sacrifices for celebration and honoring. They offered cakes, a pancarpia, or panspermia. All of these, we can reconstruct without breaking the rules of Traditional Hellenismos.

Traditional Hellenismos is about learning and understanding the past so you can design your future. A large part of that is the ancient hellenic culture and this is also the reason why I go on and on about ancient Hellas. These people lived by strict societal rules that were interwoven with their religious views and we can gain a very valuable understanding of Hellenismos by studying these ancient ways. So we study mythology for the message these stories convey, we study modern scholarly work so we can improve out understanding, we study the art the ancient Hellenes left behind, read the works of their philosophers and poets to compare their views, and practice in the most traditional way we can, because experience is often the best teaching tool.

By practicing you go from abstract knowledge to internalized wisdom. You learn to feel miasma on you, better yourself as a human being by practicing arate, develop socially by practicing xenia, and establish a bond with the Gods by practicing kharis.

I am a Traditional Hellenist. This is how I chose--or was chosen--to worship; others are not drawn to this, and that is perfectly fine with me. Traditional practice works for me, but may be too constricting or irrelevant to others. In general, I relate better with other Traditionalists, but that it is not a nessecity by far to share practice, knowledge and pleasant conversation. What I care about is if you honnor the Theoi, and if I at least recognise something of my practice in yours; do you practice katharmos? Do you honor the Theoi with libations and other sacrifices? Do you live an honest life? These are the things I care about. If you fill these in in a Reformed or even Neo-Pagan way, I can look beyond that, and we can at least talk.

Traditional worship is not dogmatic, it is not unchangeable; in fact, because we reconstruct in the spirit of the ancient Hellenes, we have a plethora of options at our disposal, which allowes us to adapt well to the present. That said, I will not take part in meditations to the Underworld or 'working with' the Hellenic Gods in a circle sealed by watchtowers. For me, that breaks kharis, and it would be a breach of arete, and in that way, we are most certainly not Neo-Pagan/Wiccanish.

A Traditional approach needs to become part of your person so you become aware subconciously of the right thing to do in any given circumstance, according to the ancient Hellenic rules of society and religion. It takes commitment, time, and the will to learn. It is also very rewarding, and that is why I do it. It gives me structure, helps me build lasting kharis with the Theoi, allowes me to teach others in a structured and wholesome manner, and has generally enriched my life. This is why I am a Traditionalist, and why I promote it on my blog: it has helped me so much; to become a better person, to live a concious and conscientious life, and to relate to others. That is what being a Traditionalist means to me.