Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are Greeks Closet Polytheists?

I have a dear friend and folk-harp colleague, Patrice Haan, who shared a vacation story with me once at a folk harp weekend that I found very interesting.

How do you describe a goddess? Patrice, in addition to being a very talented harper, singer, and performer, is a woman of striking beauty. I am about 5' 11'' tall, and the top of my head comes up to her chin. I'll let the photo cover the 1,000 words of florid description that I could have written about her, and stick to the things that the photo can't show you. She moves with precision and a reserved grace that makes everyone around her seem a little schlumpy in comparison. No one minds, though, because within minutes of meeting Patrice, they all know that they're in the presence of a great spirit. She elevates you just by being herself.

Υποδοχή στην Ελλάδα! Welcome to Greece! Patrice was vacationing in Greece, and had just arrived in an out-of-the-way village. A man picked her out of the crowd, approached her and knelt before her in reverence, exclaiming "Athene! Athene! We knew you would come back to us! We never stopped worshipping you!" Apparently, he thought that the dark age of horrors Christian Era had passed and the Olympians were coming back to set things right. Anyone could be excused for mistaking Patrice for an avatar of the Goddess of Wisdom, but it went a bit beyond that for this guy. He seemed convinced that her denials were a kind of test of his devotion. For the duration of her visit, he continued to worship her.

Patrice and I have never discussed her own religious leanings explicitly, but I get the strong feeling that she herself wouldn't be opposed to throwing a pinch of incense on the brazier at the altar of Hera. I might be speaking out of turn there; wouldn't be the first time.

More Information
  • Patrice Haan Learn more about The Avatar of Athene and buy her CDs
  • Dodekatheism "a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past." — Father Eustathios Kollas
  • Religious freedom in modern Greece Give it a read. Doesn't sound too free to me.
So here's my question: given the choice, would Greeks (some? a bunch? a majority?) return to their native religion? Rebuild the Acropolis? Spark up a few doobies at Delphi and finally get some good advice? There are some folks, notably in Greece itself, who are working to re-establish the worship of their own Gods. The Greek Orthodox Church has noticed, but doesn't seem too threatened just yet. What do you think, Corps of Discovery?


Hippy Goodwife said...

You know, I just don't think it is that big of a leap. So many Christian customs are direct descendants of pagan ideas, especially in the Eastern Orthodox church. I think it is a bit far fetched to expect Greeks to return to the old ways en masse but I wouldn't be surprised to see groups marching to Delphi. Maybe they'll start there own version of the Glastonburry rites. Too many pilgrims of the old ways there to count.

michael sean morris said...

I've always thought that Hellenic deity emanated from the rocks and trees and environment of the Greek Isles and Eastern Mediterranean (much in the same way they do everywhere); given half a chance I think the old religion would flourish again.

The truth of those gods and goddesses speaks to so many people that it's like those painters couldn't wait for the Renaissance to get going to bring them back.

Seumas Gagne said...

Your comment about the Renaissance is telling. The Church actually got quite put out about the abundance of veneration for the Greek Gods at that time.