I was born a Greek Orthodox Christian. I eventually separated myself from that religion, but I did not stray too far. In fact, I found spiritual deeper roots within my cultural. This is my story, a continuous process of spiritual evolution.
Long ago when I was filling out my Facebook “about me” details I had trouble filling out their “religious views” section. What do I put here? Essentially, I had to label and identify my religious views into a box. Do I put Orthodox Christian to save face, or should I be honest and put something more accurate? As long as I have been on my spiritual quest, I could not label myself.
Why did a move away from Christianity? I do not like organized religions, doctrines and authority. I felt that the Church did not provide me with the spiritual life I needed. Plus the premise and beliefs are dubious and questionable to say the least. Not my cup of tea. I do however love Christian history and learning about Christian theology along with Judaism but this is the religious scholar in me.
When I began to walk my own path and think my own thoughts about religion, I played it sort of safe and went the Gnostic route. They are still Christians right? Not to the Orthodox, they are heretics, but alas, they believed in Jesus, just different things. So I was Gnostic for a bit. Gnosticism represents the esoteric face to the normal exoteric Christianity you see in church. However, I wanted to get to the roots of Gnosticism were based on.
I had a brief stint in Wicca, but it was quick and my focus was more on spellcasting than anything religious. I studied Kabbalah, but never felt too comfortable in that camp. Mainly because the popular books from a certain Centre claimed that Plato learned his Philosophy from the Kabbala. I smelled bullshit and took what was said with salt, lots of it. I also love to study Buddhism, but can’t call myself a Buddhist. Sounds like I may be eclectic?
More recently, within the last two or three years I began to embrace Paganism more and more. I find that my own worldview and ways of thinking align with Paganism. The one thing that sort of turned me off though was the Neo-Paganism. I felt that most of it was out of context with cultural that the pantheons originated from. Pulling from different traditions, mixing and matching was a worrisome. I felt it was different then the syncretism that was seen in the past in such places like the Roman Empire.
I was also turned off by the mentality of the universal concepts that all gods represent “The God” and all goddesses are manifestations of “The Goddess”. I like to individuality of each god, their uniqueness. When you universalize something the differences get overlooked. The differences are important and should not be overlooked. For example, when the religions of the Greeks and Romans began to merge and were officially declared by the State to be one, some gods got a promotion. Neptune became one with Poseidon, god of the sea. But Neptune was not a god of the sea in Rome, Neptune played a smaller role. He gets a big promotion when he became connected with Poseidon. Differences matter.
Right now, I am moving towards rediscovering my roots. I recently discovered that there are Hellenic Reconstructionist groups which work towards the revival of the ancient religion in Greece. This interests me greatly because at the core, I want to connect more with my Greek culture. Christianity is an import to Greece, it is not domestic. Greek mythology is my mythology. The Greek gods and goddess are my deities. Plato, Aristotle and all the rest of those wise cracking toga wearing bitches, they are my Philosophers! I realized I did not have not venture far and wide to fulfill my spiritual needs. I just need to look in my own backyard (I am in New York, this is a figure of speech).
So now, I read and learn about Platonism and other philosophies like Stoicism and the sort. I also am researching and learning more about Greek polytheistic practices. There is just one problem, my main goddess is Egyptian. I was introduced to the goddess Isis a while back and She is the only deity to visit me in my dreams and reveal Herself. But here is the thing, the cult of Isis spread all over the Roman Empire, her popularity was great. The statue I have of her is of the Greco-Roman Isis, which fits well in my Greek cultural frame.
The more I study history, philosophy and religion, I realized I don’t see myself as a Classical Greek, I am a Greek of the Hellenistic Age. The time when, after Alexander the Great moved his empire across the east and into Egypt. Alexandria, his city, was a home for the mixing of all sorts of ideas. Pagans, Jews and Christians all mingled about in the streets. The blending of Greek and Egyptian religions created Hermeticism.
So where am I now? The short answer, Pagan. The long answer, Neo-Alexandrian/Hellenic Polytheist with eclectic tendencies. I hope I don’t change my mind again, this is an ongoing process, but right now I feel very much at home with it.