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Religious Conflict

by Eleni Vamvakari
*Please note that, despite being born and brought up in America, and lacking
Hellenic blood, I am a Greek patriot and nationalist, and unless otherwise stated, my
works are written from that perspective.*
I posted this in a few religious groups, and figured it was only fair for me to turn it
into a note. That said, while I may revise it in the future, currently, this is not a
formal essay, so will be very rough in grammar and flow.
I've been wanting to write this for the longest time, and yet, every time I tried,
something held me back. Awhile ago, I wrote this essay, which explains the religious
end of things.
A Crisis of Faith
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10151309012597371&refid=21
More recently, I wrote on my views on studying the ancients. Fortunately, that
seemed to have helped solve some of my problems and I'm now beginning to
resume my studies of the ancients without any serious difficulties.
On Studying the Ancients
https://www.facebook.com/notes/eleni-vamvakari/on-studying-theancients/10152386856572371/?refid=21
*Note that the above can also be found here on Scribd.* But my issues with religion
still remain. I kept thinking "maybe if I read more, or worshiped more, or tried to
find The Gods in my daily life, things would somehow get better." But it's not
happening. Part of it is that I haven't really tried, and part is that I lack that spark
that makes me really love something, or at the very least, want to learn about
something.
I have very different views from most people on The Gods. I believe that some
kind of higher power exists, and that we as mortals can never truly understand it.
So it comes to us in ways that we can comprehend. In our case, we follow the
Hellenic pantheon, so we believe in The Gods. I do as well, in that I know they're
not just fantasies, and I also pray to Them for serious things that are beyond the
abilities of any mortal (including spirits). Yet I've given up on trying to make sense
of the myths, with their contradictions (and even different theologies in some cases),
the differences in calendars, festivals, cultures among city states, etc. I crave unity
as a nation and guidance from wise people, not confusion, chaos, and an "anything
goes" mentality. When I read the myths, I truly enjoy them, and feel that I am
reading a good story. Yet they don't truly move me in an emotional sense.
I was not brought up with a religion, but I somehow felt that The Gods would be
angry with me if I said that out loud, so it took me a long time to admit it, even to
myself. It sounds like blasphemy. But honesty is one of the main cornerstones of
my life, and running way from problems never solves them. I am far more
interested in ancient Hellenic history and culture, and how the myths relate to reality,
than in actually worshiping. I fully believe in the spiritual realm, where people go
when they die, and I feel far closer to them than to The Gods. Plus, my main
interest is modern Hellenic civilisation.

I'm not sure what all of this means. Should I continue to call myself a Hellenic
Polytheist? Is it right to only pray to The Gods when I really need them, and to the
spirits for everything else, or am I doing the former a disservice? Should I try to
actually follow a calendar and do worship, or should I just settle for being a
nationalist and continue my studies in a scholarly manner? If Ellada was a goddess,
all of my worship would go to her and this crisis would end in an instant! *smile*
Commentary
These are comments from the various discussions. Since I have not been given
permission from the other participants to post their responses, I will post mine, and
paraphrase when necessary. Note that when I say spirits, I am referring to the souls
of mortals who have died, not to nymphs, etc. Also, I don't hear little voices in my
head. But I can tell when a spirit is present. Mostly, I just pray to them as
Christians might to The Saints or angels.
"I'm not really looking for a faith. But I am drawn to the spirits, and have been able
to tell when they're present since I was 14. When I engage them, particularly when
I ask our national saviours for things, I always give back. When I make promises,
but especially to them, they're always kept, unless there's a very good reason for not
doing so. I pray to them when I am in need of guidance, inspiration, or help. But I
still don't see them as gods."
"I could never truly relate to monotheism, particularly in the Christian sense. One
god, who is perfect, and who truly doesn't understand humanity, watches over us
and does everything. The Gods always made sense to me because They are like us.
Even in government, I prefer an oligarchy, not an autocracy, since two heads are
better than one (and three are better still), and in that case, what happens if the
ruler becomes sick or dies? Obviously, that's not true with The Gods, but They do
hold different domains. I just don't feel Them in my life as I do with the spirits, but
I'm afraid of either Them turning Their backs on me entirely, or of me doing the
same. I don't want Them to punish me. At the same time, you're absolutely right
about being a fair weather friend. I have never believed in doing that to anyone."
"As for Ellada, though, I suppose that would be a form of monotheism. Yet I can say
that I love Her more than anything else in this or any other world, including myself.
Everything I do is in Her honour, and She is always on my mind, one way or another.
She is sacred and eternal."
"Yes. Hero cultus sounds right. I actually have a list of heroes (some ancient and
some modern) whom I honour, though not in the traditional way, as most were
Christians. ... I never thought of creating a religion or spiritual path. That is quite
interesting, to say the least! I always just considered my views to be patriotism, with
my ultimate goal being to learn about, to preserve, and to promote Hellenism."
"I never heard of anyone having such a crisis, and it bothered me that I felt so
indecisive and couldn't really explain it properly. I kept trying to fix it, until I learned
that I had better accept it or it would drive me mad! My next step is to figure out
what to do, now that I know where I stand. I wanted to be a reconstructionist, but
lacked the motivation and love to do so. It used to bother me that I never had these
great spiritual encounters with The Gods that so many had, or that I didn't have an
overwhelming desire to learn about Them. This is especially true because of my love

of history and scholarly works! I enjoy the myths, as I said, but they haven't effected
me in that special way for a long time. You also made an excellent point about The
Gods being too high up. I can't relate to them, but I can relate very well to spirits
who were once mortal, and in most cases, who are historically verifiable."
I could never relate to soft polytheists, Neoplatonists, and the like. I think this is one
of the things that really frustrates me about our religion. For me, if you're a
polytheist, then you believe in different gods, with their own distinct personalities.
So even though I think that we cannot truly understand the divine, if I'm worshiping
a pantheon of different gods and goddesses, that is exactly what I will do. There is
no "all is one" in my line of thinking if I am talking about Hellenic Polytheism, and
also no such thing as a Prime Mover, and so on."
Since I mentioned it, here is my list of heroes. They're mostly in chronological order,
except the first. But he started everything for me, so deserves that place of honour,
even if he's not a hero for others. *smile*
Markos Vamvakaris
the Dioscuri
Lycurgus of Sparta
Leonidas I of Sparta
Peisistratos
Cynaegirus
Nicias
Sokrates
Adamantios Korais
General Theodoros Kolokotronis
General Yiannis Makriyannis
Nikitas Stamatelopoulos (Tourkofagos)
Ioannis Kapodistrias
John Maynard Keynes.
General Ioannis Metaxas
Theologos Nikoloudis
Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos
Brigadier General Stylianos Pattakos
Colonel Nikolaos Makarezos
General Georgios Zoitakis
General Odysseas Angelis
If you've enjoyed this essay, and would like to read my other works, they can be
found here and at the below Facebook link. As always, please feel free to comment
on and share any of them. A wide variety of topics are discussed, so there's
something for everyone.
Essays Categorised
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150338713317371&refid=21