Today, I read a blog post by Cara Schulz about choosing to remain under the Pagan umbrella. I wrote about this issue before and, like Cara, I too think we Hellenics should stay where we are. We have things to add to the umbrella as well as take from it. I recognize her catch-22 issue. This is not my issue with this post. My issue, or question, with this post is in the following paragraph (emphasis mine):
"If people ask me if I’m Pagan I answer “yes.” In the first paragraph I talked about friendships lost. I’ve talked to one of the people I inadvertently stepped on since that day and what she explained to me has only increased my desire to stay part of the Pagan community. She told me she felt so hurt and betrayed because she realized that polytheists like me could ‘pass’ in mainstream society. If we all left, Wiccans would have a much harder time gaining acceptance on their own. Most polytheists, when asked about their religion, don’t have all that tough of a time in the USA. When I’m asked, I say I’m Hellenion and that’s a bit like taking the church service of a Catholic but throwing in multiple gods like the Hindu faith. She’s right, people don’t even blink. They understand and accept that as legitimate. We blend right in with the mainstream, for the most part."
I think the USA is a very different country than the country I live in; the Netherlands. Here, saying you're Wiccan--hell, saying you're a witch--is much easier than saying you're Hellenic. I'm going to try explaining my religion as it as written above, the next time someone asks about it; as someone who follows multiple Gods like the Hindu faith but with rituals that resemble the church service of the Catholics. I'm willing to bet that the other person will blink. Heck; I think they'd probably be offended or at least highly confused.
Also, I've never been Catholic and I haven't attended many Catholic services, but where is the resemblance, exactly? Is it in the throwing of barley? In the fire that I place my offerings into? In the offerings themselves which are eaten with the Gods? Or in the concept of impurity that can be washed away by men?
This is not an attack on Schulz; I have the utter most respect for her ability to write like she does, her opinion and her experiences--heck, she's the one who send me some information on Hellenismos to get me started!--but I can't understand this statement. I have very little against Christianity. I admit to having my share of difficulties with certain Christians but that, to me, is unrelated to the faith itself. I can see the beauty in Christianity but while it was inspired in a little way by Hellenismos, it is not the same in any of the major points. In my experience, not even the services are alike.
In the Netherlands, Hellenismos is one of the fringiest of fringe religions, like any of the Recon faiths. Lending it credibility by linking it to a well known religion like Catholicism is not something I want to do. In fact, it's something I actively oppose. Hellenismos can stand on its own. It doesn't need to be introduced in regards to other faiths like Catholicism or Hinduism. I didn't do this when I was a Neo-Wiccan, a Technopagan, a Hedgewitch or an Eclectic Religious Witch and I'll be damned if I will start now I'm Hellenic. I believe in labels, in correctly naming things. When I explain my religion, I will explain it as is; the active worship of the Theoi by recreating the rituals and practices the ancient Hellens used. It's not Christian, Hindu, Buddhistic, Kemetic, Asatru or any other religion. It's Hellenismos.
This is my opinion. I respect Schulz for having hers, as I respect you for having yours. But it are issues like these that make me feel very close to Ares; overcome by something I believe in. I don't blend in to the mainstream at all. I would like to, but I don't. And I'm fine with that. I'm Hellenic and I'm proud of my Gods.