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Thread: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

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    Post Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    IN THE shadow of Mount Olympus the toga-clad worshippers sway to the beating of a drum as the bearded man leading the ceremony throws a pinch of grain into a torch, then circles his hand above the flames.

    While the group, dressed in yellow, red and blue robes, may appear to be taking part in some bewildering historical re-enactment, they are members a growing pagan movement dedicated to resurrecting the religion and way of life of ancient Greece.

    The pagans have gathered in a meadow near the sacred mountain where their ancestors believed the gods lived and held court to perform a naming ceremony for a nine-month-old boy, Nikoforos Xanthopoulos.

    The bearded man officiating, Tryphon Olympios, 58, from Skliva in southern Greece, was a philosophy professor at Stockholm University for 25 years.

    "May he be worthy of being Greek" Olympios calls out.

    "Worthy," the crowd roars in response.

    Leaders of the "return of the Hellenes" movement say they have 2,000 "hard-core" practising followers, about 5,000 who travel to Mount Olympus, 100km southwest of the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, for the annual celebration, and 100,000 "sympathisers" who support their ideas.

    The colourful Hellenes are viewed with interest by many in Greek society but largely ridiculed by the media. Yet their unsuccessful efforts to be recognised as an "official" Greek religion highlight Greece’s intolerance of the expression of non-Christian religions.

    Olympios - now his legal name - is one of the founders of the revival. He first attracted national media attention when he publicly married his wife in an ancient ceremony in 1987.

    "We want to take the world view, concepts, ideas, religion and values of the ancient Greeks, the founders of western civilisation, and adapt them to today," Olympios explained. "The Greek way is to establish a scientific society. Christianity today is hostile to science."

    The Hellenes have dozens of websites and books on ancient history, culture and ideas. Ancient Greek language courses and unofficial associations are popping up throughout the country. They also hold ancient ceremonies for weddings and funerals, although only the rites of Greek Orthodox Christian clergy are legally recognised.

    "We think of Carl Sagan as a Greek, and all the people in the world who love knowledge and don’t hate others," said Giannis Psomiadis, 48, a medical doctor at the naming ceremony. "We wouldn’t have Socrates or Plato without polytheism."

    One of the group’s followers is Cornelia Buschbeck. The 32-year-old from Chemnitz, in the former East Germany, was wearing a white T-shirt showing a picture of a bust of Zeus.

    She started teaching herself Greek at 15, and later obtained university degrees in Greek and archeology. She moved to Thessaloniki eight years ago.

    "It’s a religion from here," said Buschbeck, placing a hand on her heart, "rather than here," pointing to her head.

    Buschbeck explained that Hellenes do not worship the pantheon of 12 gods as deities. Rather, each god represents a natural phenomena or human value.

    The movement appeals to many different tastes: for some it provides an intellectually satisfying philosophy, for others an antidote to the Greek Church’s political power, New Age reverence for the ancient or something exotic for the curiosity-seeker.

    However, the movement has also attracted a small number of more sinister followers; right-wing nationalists who believe their anti-Semitic views are reflected in its rejection of the Judeo-Christian religion.

    Meanwhile, the Hellenes are viewed with disdain by the Greek Orthodox Church.

    About 200 yards from the meadow where the naming ceremony was being held, a small crowd filed out of a stone Christian church, following a baptism. When the priest was asked for comment, he responded with hostility: "I have only one word to say about them: idolaters."

    The Hellenes still mourn the end of their civilisation in the 4th Century AD, when Christians representing the new official religion of the Roman Empire began destroying their temples, statues and libraries.

    "The Greek Orthodox Christian Church is still at the scene of the crime," said Vlassis Rassias, a human resources manager at a bank, who writes books about ancient Greek history. The 44-year-old is indignant that the Greek Orthodox Church today builds new churches at every site where an ancient temple is uncovered.

    One group of Hellenes, led by Panaghiotis Marinis, from the Committee for the Recognition of the Greek Religion Dodecatheon, applied two years ago for the movement to be officially recognised. The Greek government has still to make a decision on the application and, without official recognition, the group cannot build temples, have an office, or hold public ceremonies.

    "We are the only religion in the world not allowed to visit our sacred sites," said Marinis. He intends to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if the Greek government does not act.

    According to the US State Department’s 2002 human rights report on Greece: "Laws restrictive of freedom of speech remained in force, and some legal restrictions and administrative obstacles on freedom of religion persisted."

    Making Greek society more tolerant will not be easy. According to official figures, 98% of Greeks are Greek Orthodox Christians. And Hellenes report occasional harassment. During one ceremony at a lake near Mount Olympus, Buschbeck recalls, the local Greek Orthodox Christian Bishop and some monks led a group of 100 people to the other side of the lake to oppose them. The Bishop shouted at them through a megaphone, and played cloister music through a PA system to drown out their ceremony.

    "The Bishop said they would have to throw a cross in the lake to cleanse it of us," Buschbeck said. When the Hellenes complained to police, they were told it would be better that they leave, rather than have a stand-off with the Bishop.

    At the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, Konstantinos Kontogiannis, general director of the religion directorate, claimed recognition of the movement was being considered "at the highest levels". But he added:

    "We might love Manchester United, but we can’t say it’s a religion."



    MATTHEW BRUNWASSER IN TRICHORO, GREECE

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    Great !

    I guess it is very important that the pagan local religions remain alive next to the christian cultures in our Europe.
    However they are an imortant part of our identity an explains where we come from.

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    GREAT post thanks for sharing~

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    I wish I could see something like that going on in Serbia.
    However, conflicting with Christianity and whining about it isn't the way to go.
    Either avoid and ignore, or show a dose of respect. That will work in the end,
    all long-term antagonism, however based in reality, will end in bitterness and deterioration.

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    Quote Originally Posted by Awar
    I wish I could see something like that going on in Serbia.
    Is there a pagan movement in Serbia?I know nothing about the pre-christian religion of Serbs

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    It is good to see fighting for the Polytheist religions being Greek or other, but there must be a firm peace and respect between Polytheist and Christians.

    Agression between the two peoples bring nothing good but more misfortune

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    Quote Originally Posted by Alkman
    Is there a pagan movement in Serbia?I know nothing about the pre-christian religion of Serbs
    No serious movements.

    The Serbian paganism is basically Slavic. The supreme god is Perun, equal to Greek titan Hyperion, and Germanic Thorburn, Celtic Taran. Indo-European all the way.

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    Quote Originally Posted by OraclePhilosophy
    It is good to see fighting for the Polytheist religions being Greek or other, but there must be a firm peace and respect between Polytheist and Christians.

    Agression between the two peoples bring nothing good but more misfortune
    Your are damned right.
    One missing chance to life together in site by site (2000 years ago) is enough.

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    Post Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    I am a convert to Orthodoxy, I think that this intolerance towards Paganism is not good. The Greek people should have the right to choose.

    I disagree with the statement said that "Christianity" is afraid of Science or that we Oppose them"

    This also depends on which denomination of Christianity your speaking of, Generalizing all denominations into 1 catagory is almost as me saying all Germans are into ***** porn just because 1 or 2 are into it.

    Greek Orthodox Christian intolerance is good in the aspect that it protects racial preservation in Greek Territory , Thus there is no Muslims or Jews in Greece as we speak as a majority. Intolerance can serve as a very strong key to Preservation of Race, Whether by Religion or by Politics.
    Last edited by QuietWind; Sunday, September 25th, 2005 at 05:40 AM.

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    Re: Pagans Fight for Divine Rights of Old Greek Gods

    Why such things don't happen in Italy?


    Don't Worry, Be Herac


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