I spend a lot of time worrying about how “normal people” will react when finding out that I am a Hellenic Polytheist. What will they think? What will they say? How will they judge me? But despite this fear, I’m actually incredibly open with my beliefs, especially with people I’m beginning friendships with. If you talk to me for more than five minutes, it’s apparent that I operate in the world a bit differently than them. Usually the reason for that will come up in conversation. How can I avoid it when most of my contribution to workplace conversation is in the form of historical fun facts, explaining what the symbols on my necklaces mean, and my daily rant about Mythic Consciousness? What can I say, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and my heart has been branded by the Theoi. Looking the way I do, living where I live, I enjoy a level of religious freedom not many do. When there is a mosque down the street, a Buddhist temple around the corner, and large Shinto and Hindu populations in the neighborhood, people are less likely to judge, or at least more likely to keep their judgments to themselves. But I am blessed to have been met with nothing but acceptance, and usually an unexpected sense of curiosity. “What is Hellenic Polytheism? Does that mean the Greek Gods? Which ones are they, is that Thor? Zeus?? Why?” and on and on. I love these questions. However, the one I get the most often after telling people about my religious life is, perhaps, the least relevant.
How do you know they are real?
The answer is really very simple; I don’t and it doesn’t matter.
I feel that this question immediately operates on a false basis. It implies not only a certain burden of proof but that proof itself is possible. I know that the Theoi exist. I wouldn’t be here having this conversation if I didn’t, I would not have structured my life around Their foundation or, honestly, wasted so much time. I do not fling prayers at the Universe as I did for so many years before Hera found me, I pray to the Theoi and know They hear me. I feel Them in my heart, I see Their signs in the world and Their marks on the heavens. That is how I built my practice, on the foundations of life from this pantheon that is so active in the lives of Their people. All of this means nothing to the Asker of that Least Relevant Question.
I’m not sure what they expect when they ask this. I don’t have a story of Apollon literally materializing in front of me, never been physically pursued by Zeus, never felt the literal wrath of Hera, what proof are they looking for? Would they ask a Christian how they know Capital G God is real? If so, could they expect an answer different than the one I give? I honestly don’t think so. And I’m not worrying my head trying to come up with a better answer, because I don’t need one. When I talk about my religion, it is not with the purpose of converting anyone else. If I aired a laundry list of “Reasons The Theoi Are Real” to everyone I met, I would be proselytizing in as little words. That is not my job, especially not with “normal people” I’m just having a conversation with. When I say I have no concrete proof, it is not with doubt in my own convictions.
I say this is the Least Relevant Question because, for me, nothing could matter less than the Theoi proving Their existence to me. If Their existence was categorically disproved to me, not only by general “science”, but if everything I’d ever experienced with Them was walked through and explained away, I would continue to live my life this way. I don’t offer because I expect reward, I don’t sing the praises of the Gods because I need to hear Them cheer or hope, one day, They will sing my praises back to me. Even though it’s a common and traditional polytheist practice to give and receive, that’s not how I’ve structured my practice or my life. I give and I love and I adore because I love Them. They are awesome. They are worthy of all the love and adoration and gifts the world has to give Them. So even if I found the Theoi were truly all archetypes, different from my worldview as a Hard Polytheist, or even that They were nothing at all, it would be irrelevant. I would worship anyway.
I would rather worship at Their altar than anyone else’s, including all the makeshift altars that have been constructed by pop culture in an attempt to bridge the deficit. I am lucky to have seen the Theoi at work, so that I don’t have to base my practice on blind faith alone, but if blind faith were all I had, it would be enough. To quote that show I’ve never watched, “I want to believe”. It’s not really up to me whether anyone else does or not.
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