Am I really a Hellenist? Or perhaps, starting another polytheist path?

A personal article, giving you a glimpse into my process of discernment.

Lucy the Oracle
7 min readJan 11, 2024
Photo by Darryl Low on Unsplash

This photo shows Classical columns not for their beauty, but for their function as a barrier against the outside world. It almost feels like a prison… Although “prison” is, I suppose, a fatalistic word to use here. Too intense, perhaps? I’m not talking about a problem or “a thing to fight against”, per se; It’s more like a thing I understand and validate, but peacefully walk away from. I can’t come up with a better word for the time being (feel free to suggest). Either way, the image depicts how I am currently feeling.

The feeling of being held back from achieving my full potential is familiar and didn’t start with my dabbling in Hellenism. In fact, it has been present during the years I spent exploring Celtic Reconstructionism, befriending people in Afro-Diasporic traditions, or even learning some of what I know about herbal medicine with Curanderas (and spirits, of course. Notoriously the Picts, here). I don’t want you to think I fell out of love with Hellenism, because that’s not true; If it were, I’d have to repeat the same for all the other traditions I’ve learned about and almost joined… But still like and respect. It is a fact, nonetheless, that this feeling has accompanied me since I was a toddler.

There is only one area of my spiritual life where it hasn’t ever been felt: Buddhism. In case you didn’t know, I’m a Buddhist (it’s in the bio but anyway, repeating here). I did actually join the religion and a local Sangha, back in 2020. I took this step after several decades of ignoring the signs that I should pursue it. Buddhist is… a pretty damn well regulated religion! I know there is no unified holy book to it, but nonetheless it’s full of hierarchies and structure. This has puzzled me for a good while, because I used to think my longing for freedom in spirituality came from dealing with rigidity… but Buddhism can be quite rigid. And yet, it doesn’t bother me at all. So, it must be something else that makes me feel limited and held back.


Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

I’ve come to a conclusion, with oracular help as usual, but also in my own discernment. It’s not permanent (nothing is), but makes sense for the time being:

I like Buddhist philosophy. I’m not in it for the cultural aspects.

I can say that with respect to Buddhism (even Tibetan Buddhism, more specifically) because it is one of the bigger religions in the world. Therefore, gone are the days when it used to be associated with only this or that ethnic group. Anyone from any ethnicity can join as long as they agree to live by the rules of the religion.

Now, if I contrast it to Hellenism… Ok, ok, I hear you. This is what I anticipate some people will say: “but Hellenism isn’t only associated with one culture! It was adopted by the Roman Empire and spread very far”. True in theory… But when push comes to shove, this is only actually true in Antiquity. What happened after Antiquity? Exactly. Christianity took over and became the new universal fad in the West; still is the new universal fad in the West.

…Which implies that everything else ends up being considered fringe in this day-and-age here and now. Including Hellenism.

You see, I’m not interested in making any part of my identity about ethnic stuff. Never was. A lot of people wrongfully assume I am, because I’m friendly with indigenous communities everywhere I go. But there’s a difference between being friendly VS being a member, as you might already know. There was a period of my life (and you’ll even find some of it here on Medium, if you dive deep and unearth my first articles. They’re almost archaeological finds at this point. #kidding) when I would joke that I was a modern Pict — I even used to have a social media presence with this Pictish persona. You can deadname me all you want, I don’t dislike that first name — but that was because I used to (and still do) communicate with local spirits. Their culture is dead and has been dead for centuries. Everybody knows that. There’s nothing to appropriate.

I no longer do that because I got tired of dealing with the ethnocentric folks who thought that just because they (probably? There’s no way to be sure, guys) have “Pictish blood”, they could gatekeep it.

Cultural gatekeeping can also serve as a “feel-good” facade that hides people’s egotism: when we judge other groups of people based on our dogma (like the Christian do, “there’s only one god because MY holy book said so. Me, me, me”; Or like some occultists, shamans, etc also do — “there are only two genders because my tradition said so; There’s only one way to go about initiations because my tradition said so; There’s only one way to interpret this or that thing because my tradition said so; Me, me, me”)… This is ego. This is not spiritual evolution. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’ll pass. I’ve got enough ego issues already, I don’t need any extra ego problems coming from a community.

So… am I just a Buddhist now?

Well, no. This is not to say that being a Buddhist isn’t enough of a commitment to stand on its own in someone’s spiritual journey. I could very well become “just a Buddhist” someday and be perfectly happy. However, there is another, simultaneous calling which I can’t shake or ignore: the calling to work with the gods.

(Yes, I’m using “working with” here. I don’t care what you think. I don’t “work for”, I’m not their employee. Our relationship is mutually beneficial and not transactional, and I was never Christian to have this residual guilt some people draw from in order to think we should always be passive before a deity. Now go troll somebody else). *hiss*

Buddhism informs my philosophy, worldview, moral compass, and beliefs about the afterlife. These are, of course, theoretical ideals. The practical aspect of my faith is a lot more… let’s say instinctive.

Photo by NEOM on Unsplash

I’m not reconstructing the past. I’m writing on a blank page — the future.

Of course I learn a lot from the past. It’s important to honour our ancestors, and never forget where we’ve been. However, a lot of people these days are taking it to a twee, romanticised extreme… And I’m not sure I want to join them.

Some teachings are timeless and do actually seem to come from a divine, non-human source; Other ones… Eh, not so much.

For example, just because “everyone makes khernips” and “everyone has always done it” [and insert here other argument based on nothing but… I guess… repetition over the centuries?], do I think it’s always a must? No. No, I don’t. I’m not against it, either — it’s a very harmless practice! Why should I care? — and I’m not discrediting it… But have I been successful at getting my offerings and whatnot accepted even when I skipped it? Yes. Several times.

Instead of clinging to “the scriptures” (aka the surviving manuscripts, but yes, the Bible pun was VERY intended), my approach is more along the lines of trial and error. Sure, it’s informed by History to some extent — but it’s for the sole reason that what is already tried and tested, uhh, doesn’t need to be tried and tested again. Obviously. It’s not coming from a place of romanticism or longing for a quaint and idyllic distant past where everything was simpler and the air was purer and people were [allegedly] happier. See where I’m going?

I couldn’t care less about what robes I wear (Robes! This gave me a good chuckle. Would you be disappointed to know I perform my rituals in clothing of perfectly modern cuts, colours and materials?), or impressing my guests with old-timey tools (unless you’re considering a veil made in India in the 1990s vintage now? Or this random kylix made in Greece in 2021…you get the idea). I don’t want flower crowns, instagrammable oil lamps or what-have-you. If you give me these things, I’ll cherish them, but I won’t take the initiative to go look for them myself. I don’t even have statues for all the gods I have contacted. They know where their offerings are, human visitors don’t necessarily need to know.

Don’t get me wrong — not saying I’m shrugging at the “presentation” aspect of things; My sacred space is clean and tidy, with beautiful bits and bobs, the best quality I can afford; it’s just not old-timey. I’m not looking for escapism, I think the beauty of the present day is more than enough. The spiritual aspect that comes in is only in terms of energy work. Hence, if you’re not sensitive, you’ll probably feel bored. That’s intentional. I don’t make performances. (No hate on the religious people who do. They can very well be legit; Just not my cup of tea).

“But Lucy, what about publicity”, maybe you ask.

I’ll let my service speak for itself. Did the reading resonate/come true? Well, then.

I’m not looking for an aesthetic, a statement of identity politics, a subculture, or escapism.

I’m literally just going about my religious routine the way I learned with the gods I worship. It doesn’t need a “wow” factor. In fact, it’d better NOT have a “wow” factor. They made that mistake in the past and ended up attracting too many greedy rich-and-powerful customers. I’m good, thanks. I’d rather help those who truly need me.

The above realisation makes me think, with an increasing certainty, that maybe I shouldn’t fit in with “the Neopagan crowd” at all. Our objectives are at odds with one another. So, let’s go our own separate ways.



Lucy the Oracle

Oracle learner / spirit worker based in Ireland. Buddhist/polytheist. I don't read minds. I don't change minds. I don't sugarcoat. Take my message or leave it.