Someone in the Elaion Facebook group brought in a valid point: while some universal ideals and ideas about Hellenismos seem to be shared between various groups and individual followers of the Hellenic Gods, there are also huge differences. How much deviation can there realistically be before you are no longer practicing the same thing? What follows is my personal opinion and doesn't have a single fact in it. That said, this is one of those issues that need to be addressed every now and again, because we're reestablishing a shared religion and the focus should be on both 'religion' and 'shared'.

This post is going to rehash some points from a post I wrote in August of 2012 of standardizing Hellenismos. As I said then, Hellenismos does not have the luxury of being a 'do as thou wilt' religion. As a Reconstructionistic Tradition, Hellenismos has source material it needs to draw from in order for it to truly reconstruct anything. I have spoke to you about my problems with reconstruction before but it bears repeating; I greatly believe and fear that reconstruction is only possible within the confines of modern day society, thus limiting its validity by default.

We're a diverse bunch, even though we all use the same terms to describe ourselves; various Traditions popped up in various places and it's only logical that all groups took the available source material and ran with it in their own way. The situation in Hellas is much different from the situation in North America, and judging by the minimal availablitity of Hellenists in the Benelux, Traditions where I live are going to be different from the previous two. It happens; we're all people trying to figure it out.

What I hear often when this issue is brought up is that the religion of the ancient Hellenes varied so much from city-state to city-state--and even city to city--that any differences that we have in practices today are completely fine. I am on the fence about that. A part of me agrees; there is nothing wrong with a difference in practice, and as logn as we all worship the Hellenic Gods in a way that is at least Reformed Hellenistic, we should be good, right? That said, as a Traditional Hellenist, there are rituals I will not participate in--even if they are Hellenic. Worshipping the Khthonic deities as a part of standard practice, for example, especially if They are worshipped in the same manner or breath as the Ouranic deities. That is not my religion. Is it Hellenic, though? Now there is the big question.

My way is not the 'right' way; there is no 'right' way. None of us traveled the whole of ancient Hellas and brought back their practices. We are missing a lot of information. Fact remains, though, that a métoikos or traveller joining a ritual in a city(-state) not his or her own would have recognized the general structure. They would know in broad strokes what was going to happen and what was expected of them. Procession, hymns and prayers, purification, (animal) sacrifice, etc. There were some things that were universal even though the weight placed on certain Gods differed, festivals had different dates, and local cusoms were often unknown to these métoikos.

I wonder if, if I joined in with a Labrys festival in Hellas or a Hellenion one in the US, if I would know what to do. How great would the differences be with how I do things? What differences in ethics would we have? Would I be asked to do things I can't do because of my interpretation of the religion? I see videos of group rituals sometimes, and while it's always interesting to watch, I often feel like I am watching something entirely unrelated to my religion.

When I talked about standardizing Hellenismos, I didn't look to do that because I think there is something wrong with what we are doing now; I was saying it because these differences will only increase in the years to come. Those are the laws of natural development. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does fracture an already small religion. Personally, I thinkw e are too young to start falling apart into denominations.

We all worship the ancient Hellenic Gods, and essentially, that should be enough. We are all equal but different because of the focus we have and the culture we practice in. The availability of sources, the availability of others, all these things influence what we do and how we think. There is beauty in diversity, but I do stress that we need to be mindful of each other. I still think we would benefit from a frew guidelines that stretch the globe; guidelines that visitors can hold on to and not suddenly get confronted with an animal sacrifice or hymns to Hades. We need some standard practices and some warning labels, that way we can all enjoy our religion while knowing we at least connect to (all) other practicioners around the globe.