"Whom the Gods destroy they first make mad" — a post on hubris

I have been thinking recently on the subject of hubris. Why? For several reasons really. One of them is directly relating to myself and the other relating to others in the Hellenic Polytheist communities.

First, my other half called me a “Priestess of Hestia” the other day and that lead to a discussion where I said that I felt I had not EARNED the title in my opinion. There is a Clergy Education program I want to complete BEFORE I feel I can claim the title which includes a requirement to lead at least 6 rituals and to document them. Another friend has called me “Lady of Hestia” and even though I have told him this is inappropriate will probably repeat that in the future.

Being a priestess or a lady is hard work and is not something that can be rightfully claimed for oneself without arrogance. And considering that there is a great deal of debate as to what MAKES a “priest/ess”, this is hardly something that I wish to claim without putting in the work needed to become ordained with something other than the instant on-line variety of ordination (which I also have so that I can legally perform weddings if asked until I can RIGHTFULLY use the title of priestess). It is also because this debate exists that I come to my second reason. When using the term “Hellenic Priest/ess” what does the FIRST part of the term mean? And, more importantly, who defines it?

For years now in the United States there have been people who have had a very narrow view of what being a follower of Hellenismos is and for that reason I typically do not use the term when talking about myself and instead go with Hellenic Polytheist. It is these people who, with their “One True Way” attitude, also tend to act with arrogance towards others in the community, belittling persons and groups who do not agree with them – and with particular vehemence attacking those who once were close to them and moved away over time. This is abuse and arrogance, but unfortunately because they claim the term “Hellenismos” as their own, their hubris poisons the well for those of us who do not follow their lead by potentially turning away people who might otherwise grow into followers of the Theoi in their own right.

I cannot claim to know all there is to know about Hellenic Polytheism, nor would I wish to. It is too broad a subject for a woman focused on Hestia and Hera with how they influence our lives. However, when my UPG jibes with the little found in ancient texts about Hestia, I tend to think that honest discussion instead of dismissal is more humble.

But maybe that is just hubris on my part.

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