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Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Achrelus on Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:57 pm

I would say that the conversation from which I have derived this topic has run its course, it got to the point where it was even off of its own topic and to a point of questioning individuals character. However, what I think the question is, is an interesting one to pose and I think is an important one. I will ask it in a simple way, and forgetting what was said in former descussion, you alll can awnser it free of the emotions of before.

How should one decide what is appropriate practice? And beyond that, who and what decides what is and isn't appropriate?

These seemed to be overpowering ideas in old descussion, and I know they are the same question but asking it two ways may give direction to the discussion. Also, as I am sure you know, people don't wantt only personal oppinions. Don't fret from providing evidence or even analogies. Enjoy!
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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Erodius on Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:13 am

This should be interesting — I hope.

I think it would be fitting, at least, if I explained what exactly I *do* believe on this matter.

First off, let me start by saying that I am an adherent of a Mystery religion, which, though Mystery cults were a major element of Antique religion, as a whole, they differ fundamentally in most ways from what is typically thought of/generalized as ‘ancient Greek/Roman religion.’ But, rather than rambling about this for multiple paragraphs, I’ll get straight to responding to the actual question.

How should one decide what is appropriate practice?

In the Orphic religion, the practices of religion (Grk: θρησκεία) are a part of the First Pillar of instruction — the Things Heard (Grk: Ακοή) that are transmitted from mentor to student/catechumen. According to what we teach, this lineage of transmission reaches back to Orpheus, our founder and prophet, who, according to one suggestion in our tradition, lived in the area of Thrace around the early second millennium BCE. He was sent as a messenger of religious truth throughout the regions of Greece and neighboring countries as a direct emissary of the Gods to bring the Mysteria — the underlying meaning, truth and purpose of religion, to the people, after they had, through inborn mortal character, gradually fallen away from and forgotten them. The Mysteria make up not only our teaching, but are also reflected in our liturgical practice, wherein almost every action, ritual, and symbol — even the smallest, simplest, or most outwardly mundane looking to the non-initiate — has important symbolism, religious meaning, and divine, transformative purpose. The full set of our liturgical practices is broad, encompassing a variety of situations and needs.

And beyond that, who and what decides what is and isn't appropriate?

Our liturgies, as I have experienced, address the spectrum of religious needs, from celebratory, to matrimonial, to routine, to sacramental, to meditative, to ecstatic, to funerary/memorial, to ‘last rites’, and others. As such, an appropriate practice is any of the array of rites and ceremonies of our religion conducted to the best of one’s ability in a given situation and set of circumstances. As we teach it, we believe our tradition is a fully complete system, transmitted ultimately from Divinity Itself — truth, which is Virtue, comes as a gift of grace from the Gods. There is rather little that would not have some sort of analogous practice in the tradition of Orpheus. What is outside of our tradition is just that, outside of it, and while we absolutely see manifestations of the Orphic Logos in other religions, to us, they are essentially irrelevant. It is good to give others information about the Orphic Way, but beyond that, it is the Gods’ business who seeks to join us. Whoever is meant and ready to come, will come. We do not, customarily, concern ourselves with those who are not interested in the Bios.

In our tradition, ultimately God decides what is and is not right and appropriate — in any situation, not just religious praxis — and this decision, which constitutes a part of the greater Virtue, is transmitted to us by Orpheus and his successors, the ektheotic Sages (Musaeus, Linus, Pythagoras, Platon, Porphyrios, Iamblikhos, Proklos, and certain others), and beyond that, in the individual Rational Soul, having been cultivated and by their instruction and guidance — their Akoê.

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-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  spokane89 on Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:55 am

An interesting query, I would have to say that the Gods are of course the ultimate deciders of acceptability. But, lacking and divinely mandated decrees, how do we decipher this? Being mortals, we do the best we can, with what we have. What we have are the many writings and schools of thought handed down from the ancients who helped shape our religion into it's various "forms." I wager that we base what we find acceptable from what we have and what can be extrapolated from within this, and stick to that as closely as we can.
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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Erodius on Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:07 am

But, lacking any divinely mandated decrees

This would be an example of a major point of divergence — in the tradition of which I am part, yes, actually, it is considered that there most certainly are divinely-mandated decrees, plenty of them.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  spokane89 on Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:27 pm

Yes this seems the be the largest chasm between our stances Razz I do concede that all inspiration comes from the Gods, and if not all most certainly the writings of the Ancients that show us the way to the Gods. I simply cannot go without my grain of salt however. Mortals are still intrinsically "lesser beings" (for lack of a better term). I do not think that the words come out of mortal mouthpieces untainted by the views of mere mortals. I would like to ask, is there, in the general Hesiodic/Homeric sect of the faith, a set code of cans and cannot for rites and rituals? I am aware of there being basic laid out portions such as honoring Hestia and the open and close and the cleansing of one's self etc etc but is there a compiled form that gives us these "rules."
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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Erodius on Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:15 pm

I would like to ask, is there, in the general Hesiodic/Homeric sect of the faith, a set code of cans and cannot for rites and rituals? I am aware of there being basic laid out portions such as honoring Hestia and the open and close and the cleansing of one's self etc etc but is there a compiled form that gives us these "rules."

The customs of exoteric/Homeric/Hesiodian religion are just that, customs. For most individuals, it would not have been necessary (or even possible) to write them/read them in a textual form; they were simply acquired by upbringing. However, a great many of the most basic customs and practices appear in the Homeric Poems (Iliad, Odyssey, Hymns), and in Hesiod's Works & Days, and a few parts of his Theogony.

Yes this seems the be the largest chasm between our stances I do concede that all inspiration comes from the Gods, and if not all most certainly the writings of the Ancients that show us the way to the Gods. I simply cannot go without my grain of salt however. Mortals are still intrinsically "lesser beings" (for lack of a better term). I do not think that the words come out of mortal mouthpieces untainted by the views of mere mortals.

This would be another major difference, and a difference that sometimes brings up allegations of blasphemy against the Orphic religion — in our faith, the division between mortal and god is much less clear cut. A core tenet of the Orphic faith, perhaps the most blasphemous to outsiders, is that every soul, no matter how great or small, is a fallen god, imprisoned in a mortal body due to an ancient crime, bound to birth and death until anamnesis is achieved and Soul rejoins Divinity (we call this 'ektheosis'), thereby ceasing the cycle. The fall of Souls is a cosmic imbalance, and Divinity moves to restore the balance both by sending Sôtêres to the world, as well as through the actions of those who have already achieved salvation, but choose to return the world in order to assist those who remain behind. These already-saved Souls, because they have achieved anamnesis, in our theological reckoning, are literally incarnate gods; their words are purely divine, and they themselves are gods in the same manner as any other god. They receive worship, prayer, and even sacrifice.

I can understand why, whether I believe it or not, some religious scholars suggest that the form and character that Christianity ultimately took was deeply shaped by the belief in incarnate gods that appears in Orphic religion, because the Christians' understanding of Jesus does not seem to have any foundation in Judaism, but features prominently in Orphism, which would likely have been familiar to many of the gentile converts to early Christianity.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Callisto on Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:08 pm

I was going to create a topic in response to the last post of the previous topic. But since this one has been created, I'll post my response here:

[in response to Erodius' post]:If you're talking about witnessing naivete on this board, or even the previous one, I would not agree. I have seen very young people, as in teens, who certainly need more assistance, that I would agree. However as far as adults that have come along, I would say most often level-headedness and the ability to comprehend without being assumed lacking has been demonstrated. Between being on various sites and dealings IRL with Recon and Neopagans, I'm very well acquainted with the problems ranging from naivete to willful ignorance. And the one thing I have found to be consistently true is that, by far, individuals attracted to Reconstructionist religions tend to exhibit significantly greater inclination towards serious research and critical exploration, and the aptitude for it, than can be said of some other practices. And certainly just comparing this board (and the previous one) to other boards I spend comparable time on, the instances of naivete or lack of critical thought is pretty much non-existent here in comparison.

I don't think we disagree with assuming to offer help, but I think where we differ is in approach and the automatic assumption that someone is lacking. Most often individuals who find themselves in hot water are those drawn to dabbling in magic and the like, looking for a quick fix or working under some fantasy-based notion. For the most part, those interested in Reconstructionisms are drawn to proper practice and know they need to learn before doing. Those I've experienced commonly are still seeking to flesh out their knowledge of proper practice, but haven't gotten themselves into hot water. Perhaps an example of what you deem "hot water" would help?

But this is where I see the problem: someone considers him/herself to follow X-tradition (whether or not he/she actually does), and then applies this ‘distributive property’ to mean that anything he/she tacks onto it becomes a part of X, saying that, “well, it might not have been a part of X originally, but it is from now on!”

If you'll note, I previously commented on drawing the distinction between what a person chooses to do in the personal practice vs claiming it is part of the tradition. Again, it's not been my experience that those inclined to Recon practices fall into this error of labeling anything as the tradition simply because they do it. It's been my experience that those who are inclined to label anything "Hellenic" come from Eclectic inclinations and find Hellenismos isn't what they're actually wanting. I.e., they're "Hellenic" because the gods are, even though their practices & beliefs are from non-Hellenic sources. Those individuals commonly end up denouncing Recons and flee sites like this one. One of the first things most people learn when investigating Recon practices is that foremost emphasis is verifiable information, primary and secondary sources, not UPG. Which differs from Eclectic practices which rely primarily (and frequently solely) on UPG with valid research a (distant) second, and they don't hang around boards like this for long.

In this particular instance, the issue of bead use is like asking if it is acceptable in X-religion to draw a picture of a dinosaur on your face.

It was explained that it is not a part of the religion, by both POVs. I stated there's a distinction between what someone chooses to adapt in regards to himself for personal reasons versus what can be said is part of the religion. There will inevitably be issues which we cannot control nor offer comment on beyond "that isn't part of the religion" and "it's not something I would do because I think it's _reason here_".

I affirm variation of opinion where I see that there is cause for variation of opinion, and I am disinclined to it where I do not see there are such grounds.

Which you're entitled to hold, of course. However, you cannot speak for others unless you are presenting yourself as reigning authority who's POV all must abide by and intend to censor what members discuss. Ultimately there will be interpretations of established practice and discussion of other topics in which there will there will be divided opinion.

I will always discourage someone from taking simple internet searching with any weight. There is a reason that, at least in my department, for many projects I have been specifically disallowed from using any public internet sources — cite-able and verified academic journals (most of which require a password) notwithstanding. Taken to the n-th degree, in the religious studies department, I and others in a class were disallowed even from using e-books of verifiable and authoritative hard-copy publications, which even I agree is a bit extreme.

That would be partially correct at best. "Simple internet searching" wasn't implied. Just about every active member here has provided links to quite useful information. Also, by your line of reasoning, any information provided here should also be assumed to likely carry no weight since the internet in general is rife with grabage and individuals are presumed to be too naive to know how to critically view information.

Disallowing internet searches precludes valid source material which also happens to be online. Part of learning is being put in a position to develop one's skills. People tend to learn more by developing them than from simply being told what someone else adheres to. And yes, that sometimes means making mistakes but I've yet to hear of anyone who has learned without doing so, whether online on in life in general.

Also, I think there ARE issues outside of the religion that do need to be discussed because we live in a time in which anything polytheistic or "pagan" is lumped under "Neopaganism" - or even more erroneously as "Wicca" (a term itself wrongly applied even regarding the religion it's meant to identify). Frankly, I would encourage discussion even though the topic may prove, in the context of actual religious practice, non-applicable because traditions such as ours are splattered by the disinformation that stems from elsewhere. On a societal level it's essential to be able to be well informed and speak intelligently about those non-Hellenic practices beyond simple personal bias of "that's not what we do." I've found being knowledgeable and able to articulate concrete information about practices outside of my own better enables the listener to better grasp what the religion is and what it entails. This is vitally important for traditions that are smaller in number, unless individuals have no interest in expanding recognition of the religion in its own right.

Here I suppose we also just differ at a basic level, because I generally do assume that… But ultimately, yes, I believe the assumption that a person is intelligent, reverent, and seeking to learn is a naïve one.

No offense offered, unfortunately I can only say how that comes across, which that it sounds highly self-righteous and a bit ignorant in its own right. It presents the potential to needlessly offend which is a good way to make people disinclined to listen regardless of how correct the message might actually be. Most people simply do not respond well if they gather their intelligence is being questioned or that the speaker perceives himself to be superior in some way. After all, this is the internet and there are a lot of claims and, per your line of reasoning, people can't distinguish fact from fiction. So why should anyone assume you or anyone else here is well informed, because we say so?



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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Achrelus on Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:01 pm

The discussion of the the former topic is over and I would ask that you address only what this topic is talking about. But there is a point to be made here. In the general term of Hellenism, there are so many brands of thought on the religion and the general culture. Should there be an established system, with established teachers?? For instance:
General introduction to myth and thought.
Deeper look into different philosophical schools and their beliefs.
Look at ssimilar schools of your choice.
Deeper study into particular school of choice.

I feel there is a benefit to having teacher to student contact on a personal level, and I would like to know what you think about my basic system and about the general idea of the teacher to student relationship. Erodius, I'm not saying you can't comment to this initial post but it may be redundant. For others he adresses the idea in an above post on this thread.
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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Callisto on Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:10 pm

The last post of the previous discussion seemed to suggest continuing the discussion elsewhere and I took (or misread) your initial post here as indicating the other topic had ended because of the digression and to move here, thus the reason posting my response here. But whatever.

Moving on, I doubt that there can be one universal system for the reasons you cite. Possibly there would be more than one formalized tradition that arose, especially since practitioners are quite spread out. There would likely be various attempts, most of which would likely quickly die, then among the few (I doubt more than 2 or 3) that were well developed (qualified teachers etc.) would become established consensus and probably an umbrella fellowship organization.

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Re: Deciding Appropriate Practice

Post  Erodius on Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:20 pm

Αχρηλος wrote: In the general term of Hellenism, there are so many brands of thought on the religion and the general culture. Should there be an established system, with established teachers?? For instance:
General introduction to myth and thought.
Deeper look into different philosophical schools and their beliefs.
Look at ssimilar schools of your choice.
Deeper study into particular school of choice.

I feel there is a benefit to having teacher to student contact on a personal level, and I would like to know what you think about my basic system and about the general idea of the teacher to student relationship.

I don't think a system like this to be workable on an ecumenical scale — but, on a smaller scale, I think this logically is and ought to be the progression of study, whether individually or otherwise, because it follows a gradual focusing from generalities to specifics.

A reading of only a few core mythological works (Hesiod, Homer, Pseudo-Apollodorus and Ovid) will give anyone a good basis-foundation in the vast majority of what anyone would need to know about mythology, and all of these works are readily available. In terms of nonspecific study of various religio-philosophical traditions, the independent intricacy of each tradition, and issues of varied levels of current extant-ness, make it so that general surveys of these, from those I have read, are very general surveys. Good, but very general.

Beyond such overviews, I think the level of specificity and intricacy that will be encountered would probably preclude the feasibility of any umbrella system of specific instruction in the various theological/philosophical traditions — even major universities have issues finding a 'complete set' of experts in these esoteric and complex fields, that, honestly, just are not especially popular subjects of study. Resources and experts in Platonism, Aristotelianism and Stoicism are reasonably numerous and easily found via a library, bookstore or university/academic resource. Epicureanism and Classical Cynicism are a measure less prominent, but still study-able. Regarding Mystery religions, it becomes exponentially more difficult, because, for most of them, there is just not that much available to be studied in the first place, and their lineages are long since dead. In terms of those that are extant and possess some sort of intact lineage, (i.e. Gnosticism, Hermetism, Orphism, Esoteric Judaism, and, as I have learned, Manichaeism) the amount of resources available to those not engaged in formal, religious/catechumenate study varies, and the resources that are can tend to be hard to find and on the pricey end to access. To study these, it takes dedication from the get-go, at times a decent bank account, and then the certainty and devotion to take the plunge into formal reception into the religion, with the addition of a requirement of a certain measure of free time to devote to whatever amount of studies the catechumency prescribes, which, of course, not everyone has.

Regarding the real life teacher student relationship, this is deeply stressed in Orphism, and to my knowledge in Gnosticism and Esoteric Judaism (genuine Kabbalah), a bit less so in Hermetism (the Classical Hermetic tradition I am familiar with gives access, for a fee, to materials for a guided study, supplemented with access to a teacher — as such, they do much more in the way of 'assigned homework' rather than 'in-class work' so to speak), and I cannot speak with regard to the Manichaeans' system.

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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