Q/A with a Hellenic and Norse Pagan

An Interview with Hellenic and Norse pagan, Warren S. 

“The Gods of polytheism and paganism aren’t ‘all good’ or ‘all powerful.’ The probability and possibility of one so-called ‘true God’ is low, but many extremely powerful but limited Gods is highly plausible.

I don’t understand much of the world but I feel the connection to this in my being. I never could connect with Christianity as much I tried. Time and again, I tried only to fail. How can the tiger change its stripes? How can the wolf stop eating the lamb? You can’t change your nature. Polytheism, even in ancient times, let people believe in and worship many beings, adhere to philosophies that agree with their beliefs, accept other’s beliefs and Gods even if they didn’t worship them like their own.”

Q: Do you worship any one god as being the ‘chief’ or ‘superior’ god?

A: No, I don’t worship any of the Gods as superior even though I do fully acknowledge that there are many Gods who are more powerful than others. For example, we know Zeus is the chief of the Greek pantheon but even though I don’t worship him, I still acknowledge his sovereignty over that pantheon.

Q: How do the gods coexist?

A: The Gods aren’t the same as us, even though the Gods of paganism and polytheism are in many cases, human-like in attitude. They all have different goals, foci, spheres of influence and that in itself brings them together. For example, in the Norse pantheon Thor is the God of thunder, lightning and downpours while Freyr is the God of gentle rains and none of those would be cause for a conflict due to both being needed at different times.

Q: How do all afterlives exist?

A: I believe all afterlives exist due to several things. One: there isn’t ever just one of anything. Two: who knows what the make up of the astral plane is and how vast it is? Three: how can we deny Valhalla and the fields of Asphodel but say the Egyptian duat is the only real one? To me, that’s just logical–being able to accept the existence of all afterlives. I could go on about the complexities of many different afterlives to illustrate they aren’t the same, but that’s neither here nor there.

Q: What is the founding myth that you believe?

A: Do you mean the creation myth? If so, then there’s several different ones and I will be hard pressed to give you an adequate answer.

Q: How would you describe your worship? Are there any sacred rituals?

A: To be clear, my worship isn’t an everyday thing like some polytheists. I worship about 3 times a week maybe more, depending. But there’s nothing in paganism or polytheism today or 4000 years ago that dictates the amount of household worship that has to be done.

As for sacred rituals, in Hellenism there’s a plethora of them but it’s up to the devotee. I normally always make Khernips before I formally worship Poseidon at my home altar, then I follow a well documented formula of prayer that was used back then. It starts with an invocation to the God/Goddess, followed by the use of his/her epithets, then I say my prayers and ask for whatever or just talk to them. After that, I tell them what I’m offering them and ask them to accept the offering as well as the prayer. For Poseidon, he was historically offered myrrh and frankincense as well as certain types of Greek wine as libations.

Q: How often must you pray? Do you pray to all gods at one time?

A: As I said before, there isn’t a set number of prayers to do as in Islam. No, I don’t pray to all the Gods at once and many of us don’t worship even all of the pantheon we are devoted to. Most of us have patron Gods and Goddesses we’re devoted to.

Q: Have you always been a Hellenic and Norse pagan?  

A: I, like many other polytheists today, started out as Christian or in some other monotheistic faith. But my upbringing wasn’t strictly religious and later in life around 2009, I tried to take Christianity seriously, as in, follow the bible carefully, accept Jesus, pray etc., but I felt nothing and this went on until the middle of 2012, when I met a pagan. It was then I got introduced and the seeds were planted. So around early 2013, I found out about Hellenism. After researching Christianity, as well as history and other religions, I converted to Hellenism. It touched my being in ways Christianity never did or could. Then around 2014, I met a guy who was into Asatru and was introduced to Norse paganism. Since I have both Greek and Scandinavian blood, I looked into it. I felt connected to it just like Hellenism and it was then I became both.

Q: Are there other pagans where you live? How is the community of like-minded believers?

A: Yes, there are plenty of pagans in New Jersey, but we’re spread out. So far, I’ve only interacted with some pagans in person in New Jersey. I dealt with an Asatru kindred in 2017 and they had about 30 members. But I do meet up with a friend of mine who is a professor at Rutgers University and he’s a Roman polytheist (Religio Romana) and I talk to a couple other Asatru personally. It’s pretty diverse when it comes to the different types of pagans.

Q: Do you go to a temple?

A: So far, there aren’t any Norse or Greek temples in the USA that I know of, but many of these religions are legally recognized here. I do know a Norse pagan who has a small temple he built, but it was only for his kindred.

Q: How does your belief influence the way you look at the world?

A: My beliefs influence the way I look at the world in a couple of ways. I try to always live by the four cardinal virtues:

temperance: σωφροσύνη (sōphrosynē)

prudence: φρόνησις (phronēsis)

courage: ἀνδρεία (andreia)

justice: δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē).

I know my actions should always glorify my Gods. For example, Zeus is a punisher of oath-breakers. He’s also a God of law, order and justice, so it’s in my best interest to live a life according to this knowledge.

Q: Worship and prayer aside, how else do you show fealty to the gods?

A: I show my devotion through actions, as I’ve said, through edification and that’s about it.

Q: Why do you believe what you do?

A: I believe in my Gods, due in part to the fact that my distant ancestors weren’t Christian and Christianity was forced on most everyone by physical means, economic or political force. The belief in them, I believe, runs in my blood. It’s my honor to be able to devote myself to them.

Q: Have you ever convinced someone to convert? Is trying to convert others a part of your duty as a believer?

A: We don’t seek converts like Islam or Christianity, but I’ve helped people who were looking for a reason to believe in this. I’ve given them information that they asked for that obviously resonated with them and they converted.

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