Monday, September 23, 2013

The Theogony -- The Gods Created Themselves

One of the major reasons why I love this religion is Hesiod.  The beginning cosmology myth is so satisfying, I just breath in and know in my heart the truth of it.  The Gods created themselves as the Universe started to create itself.  There was no pre-existent divine being creating out of nothing.  Nothing existed -- then, there was something.  It is beautiful because no negative dogmas can be created out of it.  There is no good or evil.  It just is.  Thales also opined that the number of Gods must be more than all the grains of sand.  Of course, that must be true, as they were being born along with the Universe.  However, as billions of years expanded onward, more creatures continued to be created/evolved in this Universe.  Eventually, one of these creatures developed the ability to think and to recognize the Gods.  It took a long time for these first people to develop pantheons.  The Gods had been alone since the beginning of time and thought that they were alone.  Many horrible things were done at first (human sacrifice).  Eventually, it became known through the Oracles that the Gods were displeased with this type of sacrifice.  Sacrifice then became the offering of the purest of the animal stock and that was sufficient.
As time went on, problems within the human community arose and we saw the rise of the philosophers.  We wanted to know how to a good and wise life.  Great sages such as Solon and the 7 Sages of Delphi left their marks on the temple walls of our cultural ancestors.  We owe to them the beginning of Western civilization.  They are as much a part of us now in the 21st century.  Let us honour them as heroes along with our Gods, for they will help us put to rights a civilization that is but a dust-bin. 

The Liturgy of Sacrifice

There have been recent postings on Hellenic Pagan and on Hellenion_Chat which have led me down various trails of thought on ritual and its liturgy.
The major part of an Hellenic festival ritual liturgy is the time of sacrifice.  This is the prime focus.  Most modern people will claim to know nothing about this.  Of course, this is not true.  It is a case of bad religious education, as most Hellenistos and modern "pagans" were former Christians.  This is especially so for Roman Catholics, the Orthodox and members of "High" Protestant churches: Episcopalian, Anglican, and Lutheran.  It was especially clear in the Roman Church before Vatican II (yes, I do remember that far back) that the Mass was far more of a mystical mystery to enter than it has since become.  Anyway, the replication of Jesus' sacrifice is central to those services along with all the other theological understandings which come with it.
Our understanding of sacrifice is, of course, quite different.  It is the community offering to develop and further the reciprocal relationship with a group of the Gods from the pantheon.  These are the Gods of whom the stories are told of what they did for the community in days long ago.
Now, I will never be a main-stream "Politically Correct" individual."  The only reason I use fat and bone scraps cut from my meat is because I do not know how to butcher a chicken.  My Grandmother knew how, though, because she came from Russia.  Even my Grandfather had to ask neighbours to butcher his hogs and an occasional cow.  It is not something most of us know how to do anymore.  I know several Asatru groups who do have access to a co-religionist who is a butcher who will ritually slay a lamb or goat.  That may be a good way to go.  Ritual purity is usually equal across the lines; however, if you are acting as priest or priestess I would say that you should be there for the event, otherwise you are a hypocrite.  Of course, the Pythagoreans did not give meat sacrifice; but, IMHO, they were weird.  For those of us in the Northeast, I plan on sacrificing lobsters to Poseidon.  So far so good this hurricane season -- the steam will please him, YUM!.  Finally,  ask the Gods involved what they would like.  No one has even broached that most obvious of answers.