The Value of Spiritual Roots

First I want to say that I don’t necessarily identify as a Reconstructionalist..the reason being is that I am not necessarily concerned with mimicking the practices done by a particular polis at a particular time. That said, as one who is concerned with the revival of Hellenic polytheism, I am interested in and concerned with the underlying procedures and modes of piety and worship as expressed by the varying city-states and their colonies.  There was a certain connection of worship and values that bound everyone together as recognizably of the same religious worship even with the understanding that nuances of differentiation could be found in each locality that was particular to the locality and its own Kharis with the gods. Much of this was concerned with hereditary myths of the people and the region itself (specifically what areas were haunts of particular deities for whatever reason, or were sacred to a given deity as a rearing and birth place of said deity).  Yet the commonality between them made co-worship among those from varying regions to be not only possible but something done, especially at sacred sites. It was a think recognizable as being pertaining to the particular deity because of the common thread shared within the overlaying recognized Hellenic culture.

As modern polytheists, we lack this stable root system of traditional values, mores and modes of piety. Things such as the Delphic Maxims and sacred literature are often reduced to relics of the past as much as the ruins of the sacred sites and temples. They become a curiosity, or even an ornament, for worship without any relevancy given to them by the majority. So many people out there just aren’t interested in the historical traditional roots of a given cultural polytheism without the leg-work and dedication for the establishment of solid foundation roots. To just pray and benefit from the gods without procedures, and even without a recognition of the divine hierarchy in the relationship between gods and men. For all the amusement with the gods that the Hellenes portrayed in their various plays (and usually in terms of the gods interacting with each other), this was with also the understanding of the supremacy of the gods and respects paid to the gods otherwise rather than a wholesale dismissive displacement of the gods. Having a strong lineage of tradition reared generations in understanding their place in the cosmos and their place in relation to the gods (which is reaffirmed when we look at source material such as the Delphic Maxims). Having stable roots of traditional worship provided a framework of understanding one’s duties to the gods, and those duties mandated by the gods in their relationship with their community, families, ancestors, and elders. As well as certain protocol and respect given towards spiritual specialists who invested their lives in the service of the gods rather than participating as a lay worshiper (such as proper respect given to artisans and diviners for instance as well as devotees who provide services on behalf of their deity).  This does not imply that there is anything wrong with your average lay worshiper, but rather this was a fundamental way of life in the average spirituality…but as such it recognized the benefits provided by those devoted to service of the gods, rather than viewing what is provided by such individuals with a perspective of entitlement. There is value in the lay worshiper that cannot be ignored but with it comes with its own responsibilities and respect, but also those that serve the gods must also have recognized respect for the responsibilities that they have taken upon themselves (rather than tendency of happily absorbing what they have to offer and offering no exchange of respect in return).

We certainly live in a world where new converts can have an attitude of entitlement to whatever knowledge is possessed by those who have it, or to be given the same level of respect newly coming as those who have invested much of themselves have earned over years (a causality in which everyone who reads a book goes around calling themselves priest/priestess of x rather than devoting significant time to said deity and making the personal sacrifices for the purpose of their devotion and yet still expect to enter a level playing field in a dialogue that they cannot keep up with). Whereas exiting Christianity has the effect that people want to put aside the hierarchy and traditional procedures that they consider to be traps of their previous religious experience, in many ways it is an approach that throws the baby out with the bathwater because  in entering a relationship with the gods they neither desire nor recognize that polytheism traditions all have (albeit broken) lineage in a similar manner of respect of passage of knowledge between generations and in the manner in which people communicate and relate to the gods. This is the piety that establishes the Pax Deorum of Religio Romana, this is part what establishes Kharis. It is the passage of the appropriate spiritual tools of the tradition that one may most effectively establish their worship to the benefit of the self and their community. As such the reality is that there are no special snowflakes, but rather just an organic system of piety and the transmission of such with its values and standards as part of sustaining and furthering the relationship between the people and the gods.

To reject all of this and say that one does not need this lineage foundation, these roots of tradition, in order to establish their relationship with the gods is to dismiss the importance of roots. To know where one is coming from, to have (even on a spiritual level) an ancestral heritage of bonds with the gods that sets the tone for generations to come. Does this mean it has to mimic to the letter the ancient religions? No, not at all. But before you can build further on tradition, one needs those roots and foundation to be stable first. Today I made an analogy of whether one would graft fruit onto a tree that does not a possess a stable strong root system. This is very much the point to me, before you can evaluate and adjust a tradition to fit into the modern life style, before you can further develop your own personal spiritual experience with the deity(ies) there is a necessity for the most basic roots and foundation. To understand the basic components of purification (even something as simple as washing your  hands), to understand the various forms of miasma and how each may or may not be detrimental towards one’s reception of a deity (since it does vary depending on the deities involved) and how it may be corrected or resolved. To understand the organic posts of the gods  in one’s daily life in the household. Unarguably the household life is perhaps the most regular responsibility of piety that a person has, more so than attending public feasts or great celebrations…it is honoring the gods that preserve the family. To give proper offerings to the gods of the door way and the gods at the center of the house. of the hearth, pantry, walls and ceiling. To honor the days of the household gods starting with the Noumenia, and the Agathos Daimon…and not to forget the Erinyes among the proceeding of deities to whom each day of the month is sacred. It is an establishment of the music basic sacred duties that we have as worshipers for the well being of ourselves on an individual level, for our families on a larger level, and of our communities on a larger social level. It is about understand the methods that we employee for the grace of the gods from the post birth purification and naming of a babe, through its childhood, up through the ceremonies of dealing with the passage of family members, as well as appropriate procedures for making inquiries and asking boons of the gods. These are the very things one would have been exposed to from childhood, and for which is necessary to be the most basic foundation to revive.

The roots are the most basic and common components of a traditional polytheistic life, and as such they are the most necessary which can not be replaced with a whole modernistic approach that favors creating new traditions to reviving and building upon the roots of our ancestors. It is a way of being able to appreciate and build a successful thriving future for polytheistic religions with such open ways for free expression and growth as new limbs and branches sprout from the foundation of the roots if we want something that will last into following generations without each generation being in the place of having to recreate something new as our own individual way dies with us. It is not a fight against change or cultural adaption, but rather to begin in the most organic way…from the very roots and foundation,

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One thought on “The Value of Spiritual Roots

  1. Reblogged this on Gangleri's Grove and commented:
    This is an excellent article by Lykeia. It discusses the need to build a solid basic foundation for our polytheisms, what that means, and why the concepts of lineage and tradition are so important.

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