You guys... you really are the best readers a blogger like me could ever have. I am sure every writer on the planet feels that way about the people who read their work but it is surely true in my case. You guys came through yesterday in the sweetest, most forgiving and supportive way possible. I have gotten a lot of questions from you guys, some I can answer right away, some that are going to need some time and research and some which I have answered before but which could admittedly use a bit more love. In the coming days, I am going to try to go through all of them as the mood strikes me, and I want to thank you for giving me so many prompts to write about. It's wonderful! If you missed yesterday's blog post, still feel free to ask me questions; it makes everything so much easier. Yesterday was a very good day in general, and it has worked wonders in restoring my desire to write, so thank you so much if you were one of the many people who wrote me yesterday; it really means a lot.

I got a lot of wonderful questions yesterday, but I am going to start off with something personal, simply because it's easier to wrap my head around today. Jacen Versailles, a long time reader of my blog asked me yesterday:

"How do you feel about Hellenismos in modern neo paganism? As loathing as I am to identify this way if anyone took a look at me and my circles practices it would be easy to see that we sort of have to teeter the line between the two. We always take khernips before we make libations or sacrifice and Hestia is always honored first and last before we give libations to the other Gods. However we also still cast circle, call elements, call the Theoi to witness our magickal rites and ask them for aid (when it's appropriate.) I know that those were not Hellenic practices and I wonder a lot about the Greek thoughts on Magic and Witchcraft. Is it all bad? And mostly at the end of the day, do the Theoi really mind how we practice as long as they are being honored and cherished?"

I have gone on record before saying that I think Hellenismos is part of the Pagan banner, not so much because we define as such, but because the outside world sees us as part of it. There are many ways to look at our inclusion in Neo-Paganism, however: one could make a case for being outside of it but also within it. Neo-Paganism is so undefined that it can encompass any religion or tradition looking to be a part of it; as long as it is at its core non-Abrahamic, it can qualify--even though that line is muddled and not very useful to begin with. I think Hellenismos is moving away from Neo-Paganism slowly but surely; we're growing as a religion, and we are unifying in a way that was previously unheard of. I feel this has a lot to do with the rupture that went through the Neo-Pagan movement as a whole a while back with the whole 'Pagan vs. Polytheists'-thing. While that debate seems to have mostly died down now, it did leave a desire in many Reconstructionists to focus more on practices and traditions similar to ours instead of the more nature-based other half of Neo-Paganism. I see more calls for Recon events now, or for Recons to have more (or a separate) say in events already hosted. Recon blogs are more vocal now, and we are becoming far more mainstream.

That said, the line between the 'classical' Neo-Pagan traditions like Wicca, Neo-Wicca, shamanism and even Druidism and the Recon faiths is thin; it's far more likely these days that modern Recons came from one of these traditions than straight into Reconstructionism itself. Many of us--myself included--wandered through many forms of Neo-Paganism before ending up here and for some the ability and/or desire to shake those previous practices was greater than others. The same holds true if you came here from Christianity or any of the other religions known to man.

How much we are looking to preserve from our previous practice is a personal question only you can answer, and it defines the level of reconstruction you put in your Reconstructionism. I'm a Traditionalist and have shed the practice of my previous traditions as much as I possibly could. Jacen, for example, and many with him, falls somewhere to the left on that curve, incorporating many practices from the 'other' side of Neo-Paganism in his practice.

I have no opinion on this besides 'rock on!'; I am in no position to dictate, correct, or otherwise influence the religion of others. I am a Traditionalist because that is what works for me; I try to reconstruct a practice as close to the ancient Hellenes as I possibly can because I feel that it's the most truthful way to honour the Gods. Just because I feel this way, however, does not make it true.

I feel I should also address witchcraft and magic again, if only to link to a few post that discusses my thoughts on its inclusion in Traditional Hellenismos (take note of the Traditional part!). I would like to first link to my blog post on katadesmoi, which was about as close to 'magic' as the common ancient Hellen came, and secondly to my post about magic in the Odysseia where I sum up my ambivalent feelings about the inclusion of modern magical practices. From that latter post:

"[T]here was 'magic' and 'witchcraft' in ancient Hellas and its mythology, but not in the way we know it now; this was divine magic; a manifestation of a trait major Gods manifest with a thought. These lesser deities require a medium to manifest their powers, but their powers are still the powers of a God. This is exactly why I feel we, as Hellenists, should pray to the Gods for any aid we might require, and blessings we would wish upon our lives; to practice magic ourselves would be to equate ourselves with the (minor) Gods, and Hellenismos is clear upon the status of humans: we are human, not divine. To practice magic, is to practice hubris, and that is decidedly dangerous in a Hellenistic context."

Again, I want to stress that this concerns Traditional Hellenismos--as everything on this blog does. That is my practice, and it is what I understand best.

I don't know if the Gods appreciate me going back to the old ways; who knows, it could be incredibly boring to them. Perhaps they are sitting on snowy Olympos yawning at my rituals but sending some kharis my way for good effort. It's entirely possible that the Gods gleefully attend modern Neo-Pagan rituals, happy to finally something different after years upon years of receiving the same type of worship. I don't have a direct line to Zeus, so I have no idea. All I can tell you is to ask yourself the age old Dr. Phil question: how's that working for ya? Are you happy in your practice? Do you get things done? Do you feel safe and protected by the Gods and does your practice enrich your life? If the answer is 'yes', you are doing religion right, no matter what you are actually doing. If the answer is 'no', it might be time to revaluate some religious choices.

I am afraid that religion is often considered universal within itself, and that is decidedly untrue. Especially within a fractured tradition like Hellenismos--which grew to maturity in many different parts of the world and was affected not only by its practitioners but also its location--there are major differences to consider. In Greece, Hellenismos has an entirely different identity than in the US, and my practice differs from both because I had to construct most of it on my own. I use a few labels--like Traditional--to at least narrow the scope but the truth is that the ancient Hellenic ideal of being able to join in with any Hellenic religious ritual no matter the town you visited is long lost. I'd be lost if I joined Jacen in one of his rituals, just as I would be if I visited one in Greece. I would not mind either way, though, because I'd be giving honour to the Gods we share and at the end of the day that it what matters to me, not the details of our worship.