Hel, or Hella, is the Norse Goddess of the Underworld who watches over and cares for all those souls who come to Her hall, Helheim, a peaceful realm where the dead are give a chance to rest and reunite with loved ones prior to possible reincarnation. The “Highway to Hel” is something that every person walks from the moment they’re born. It is the care with which we cultivate our souls, and the gratitude and courage with which we live each day of our lives.
The past few years have seen a number of lovely devotionals being written within Hellenismos. Those new to Paganism may not realize just how monumental an accomplishment this actually is. For one thing, it means our religions have grown and evolved to the point that the Gods are calling individuals into specific cultic worship. (I use cultus in the ancient sense, to indicate focused worship of a particular Deity). It also means that there are those willing to move beyond conventional community suspicion of devotional work to embrace a relationship with their Gods that is both passionate and personal. These are good and proper things, an expression of piety that I personally believe should burn at the center of any healthy faith. Then of course, there’s the fact that organizations now exist that can and will publish this type of work. There’s a market for it, albeit a small one. This wouldn’t have happened a decade ago, and I say that having written the first contemporary devotional to Odin within Heathenry. This is an extraordinary phenomenon. This flowering of devotional texts is something beautiful and it speaks to the organic development of our faiths. It’s something to well and truly celebrate. For this reason, I take great pleasure in interviewing authors of these devotionals.
The majority of Hellenic devotionals have been published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the publishing branch of a Pagan organization called Neos Alexandria (New Alexandria: named so after the great ancient city of learning and philosophy). Among the books available are extensive devotionals to Artemis, Hekate, Dionysos, and Isis and Serapis to name but a few of the Deities so honored. Soon, the first contemporary devotional to the God Zeus will be added to their collection. Zeus was a very important Deity to the ancient Greeks, the Father of the Gods and head of the Olympian pantheon. The publication of the first devotional to Him since the initial stirrings of Pagan reconstruction is indeed an act worthy of celebration and honor.
Editor Melia Suez was kind enough to sit down with me this week and answer a few of my questions. This interview was conducted on November 1, 2010.
To begin with, since many of the readers may not be familiar with your work, tell me a little bit about yourself and your work, specifically, how did you come to Hellenismos?
I am a stay-at-home mom of an almost 4-year-old living high up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with my wonderful hard-working husband. I started writing fairly steadily not long after I got on the Hellenic Pagan path. I stumbled up this road after attending a workshop and ritual involving Dionysos. To expand my knowledge of the Greek gods, I participated in a “God of the Month” club where you choose a deity to study for a month. One month Zeus came up and never really left. Since that time I joined Neos Alexandria, started a LiveJournal dedicated to Zeus, and volunteered to co-edit a devotional anthology to Zeus through NA’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina imprint. Eventually I started a blog where many of my writings go, along with anything else that interests me, closed down my LiveJournal, and become sole editor of the Zeus devotional.
What motivated you to edit a devotional to Zeus?
Mostly the irritation that people tend to see Him as nothing more than a philandering divinity who just happens to be King of the Gods. He isn’t as the myths tend to portray Him; at least He has never tried to bed me!
I have a couple of questions about that in a bit, but first, can you tell me a little bit about your own personal relationship with Him?
I have been oathed to Zeus for a couple of years now. I have found Him to be both loving and encouraging. Having Him in my spiritual life makes me happy and encourages me to be a better person. To elaborate, I am happy with Him and want Him to be happy with me so I try not to do things that He would frown upon, such as lying, cheating, stealing, etc. -- the usual moral no-nos. Rarely am I asked why I honor Zeus. People usually are so stunned that they just flounder, so I have never had to put it into words. I honor Zeus because He called me. I like what I found and so continue to honor Him highly.