kyrene: (Default)
We don't live in ancient Hellas. We will never truly and fully comprehend the mindset of someone living in ancient Hellas. None of us were raised in that culture nor would any of us conceive of living in the sorts of conditions that people in ancient times lived under.

Someone on the lists recently made the amusing remark that they really, truly do comprehend the ancient paradigm. I find this attitude to be naive at best and delusional at worst. While this person was rambling about how much they, like, really understood how the ancients thought, I heard Bill Shatner in my head:

Beginning of the lyrics to 'Common People' )
Are you sure you want to live like common people?
You want to see whatever common people see?
You want to sleep with common people?
You want to sleep with common people, like me?
But, she didn't understand,

She just smiled and held my hand.

Rent a flat above a shop.
Cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool.
Pretend you never went to school.

But still, you'll never get it right.
When you're lying in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall,
if you called your Dad he could stop it all.

You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do.
You'll never fail like common people.
You'll never watch your life slide out of view,
and dance and drink and screw
the rest of the lyrics... )

We'll never know what it's like to never have access to a supermarket, the Internet, cars, technology, or be able to think outside of the culture in which we were raised. Sure you can drop yourself off in the middle of the woods but at any time you can head back to your SUV and head to Starbucks where you can drink your mocha latte and post silly statements on emailing lists using their Wi-Fi connection about how much you, like, totally get the ancient mindset.

You can turn reconstructionism into a bullshit religious version of the SCA complete with garb and replicas of ancient Greek drinking cups to make your "totally ancient" reproduction of a Greek religious rite complete, but let's face it, you bought that replica on eBay and your garb from Joann's Fabrics.

We live in the 21st century. It's not a bad place to be, so deal. I mean, let's face it, if you live in the States and you're a woman you actually have RIGHTS. Most women didn't have those in ancient times except in a few places such as Sparta--and you didn't want to live in Sparta, trust me:

SPARTA: In ancient Sparta, the purpose of education was to produce a well-drilled, well-disciplined marching army. Spartans believed in a life of discipline, self-denial, and simplicity. They were very loyal to the state of Sparta. Every Spartan, male or female, was required to have a perfect body. When babies were born in ancient Sparta, Spartan soldiers would come by the house and check the baby. If the baby did not appear healthy and strong, the infant was taken away, and left to die on a hillside, or taken away to be trained as a slave (a helot). Babies who passed this examination were assigned membership in a brotherhood or sisterhood, usually the same one to which their father or mother belonged.

Sounds totally cool, doesn't it? I bet you pro-lifers out there are positively cringing at that paragraph.

Oh, and here's about what happened to their women:

Spartan Girls: In Sparta, girls also went to school at age 6 or 7. They lived, slept and trained in their sisterhood's barracks. No one knows if their school was as cruel or as rugged as the boys school, but the girls were taught wrestling, gymnastics and combat skills. Some historians believe the two schools were very similar, and that an attempt was made to train the girls as thoroughly as they trained the boys. In any case, the Spartans believed that strong young women would produce strong babies.

At age 18, if a Sparta girl passed her skills and fitness test, she would be assigned a husband and allowed to return home. If she failed, she would lose her rights as a citizen, and became a perioikos, a member of the middle class. In most of the other Greek city-states, women were required to stay inside their homes most of their lives. In Sparta, citizen women were free to move around, and enjoyed a great deal of freedom, as their husbands did not live at home.


Sounds like a great place to live, huh gals? Pack your bags and set your time machine!

We should be DAMNED thankful that we don't comprehend the ancient mindset, which included the idea that women were either second rate pieces of property to be owned by men or had to pass skills and fitness tests (which I doubt ANY of you couch-potato Net-posters can pass, with few exceptions) so that they could keep their rights, where slavery was considered to be a-ok, and human sacrifice at one point was practiced.

So don't babble about how much you comprehend the ancient mindset--because you only look like an moron when you do.
kyrene: (Default)
I see about as much knee-jerking against Neopaganism in the Hellenic
community as I do Christianity, I think from way too many people who
joined Hellenism as a rebellion against those religions. Every time
someone brings up something in Hellenism that is similar to something
used in Neopaganism, people go up in arms and refuse to support
it--even if that was what was done in ancient times. I've seen
supposedly hardcore reconstructionists exhibit this behavior as well.

Here's the 411 on recent history: the Golden Dawn was greatly
influenced by Greek mysticism as well as other mystical traditions,
and their officer names were even the same as in the Eleusinian
Mysteries. This was not by accident. Wicca and other Neopaganism
traditions are and have been greatly influenced by both the Golden
Dawn and the OTO as we know of it today, which was revamped by Crowley
after he left the Golden Dawn. Here's a rundown on the similarities:

1) The elements and their properties. The Greeks are to blame for
this, specifically a guy named Empedocles in 5th century BC.

2) Casting a circle also done during Greek circumambulation. People
like to knee-jerk and poke holes and claim that they're not the same
thing, but in reality they are. Deal.

3) Syncretism in Neopagan faiths stems from ancient Greek thought,
albeit misinterpreted. This really comes from Dion Fortune's line
about "All gods being one god and one goddesses being one goddess."
She wasn't saying that Thor is the same as Lugh is the same as Zeus;
she was saying that everything emanates from a single source which
Neoplatonists refer to as "the One" but doing it in a Qabalistic way.
The Qabalah is really to blame for the popularized polarity between
God and Goddess, as the union of the One is expressed in sexual
alchemical terms between a masculine and a feminine principle.

As far as syncretism in Greek culture was concerned, they didn't have
a term for it. It was more like "Oh, cool! You call Dionysos Osiris
and have Mysteries for him too? Wow! Can we participate? We love
Dionysos!" It didn't mean "converting" to someone else's religion; it
was more of an expansive viewing of the gods.

In short, hard polytheism is a modern philosophy. It doesn't make it
WRONG any more than syncretism or any other view of the divine is
wrong; it just means that it's not in line with ancient tradition.

4) Mystery schools existed in ancient Greece and much of their thought
has been transmuted and has inspired modern day Mystery schools,
including the initiatory religion of Wicca, Golden Dawn, and OTO.
Some of these groups even put on their modern take of the Eleusinian

I'm sure others can babble further. I've long given up on the idea of
establishing "recon" mystery schools or whatever and have just gone
and joined up with their modern day equivalents, provided of course
that they are non-denominational.


kyrene: (Default)

September 2010

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