Saturday, January 21, 2012

Helio Pires

Hello and Happy Saturday!

First up I wish to thank Manuel Araujo for his really interesting interview last week. It was wonderful to learn more of your faith. Thanks for sharing Manuel!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Helio Pires. Helio is a Roman Polytheist and I know you'll enjoy his interview as well!

Here Is Helio Pires's Introduction:

In a quick label-rich introduction of myself, I'm an academic in
training in Medieval History and a Roman polytheist, born and raised
in Portugal and currently living in Lisbon. I'm also an
environmentalist, a gay rights activist, the occasional guide for lost
tourists and curious friends, an amateur potter every now and then, a
big fan of humour on just about anything (including religion), a dog
person, and a literal tree-hugger and kisser (it's ways of saluting
the local wights).

1) What religion do you practice?
Roman polytheism, AKA Religio Romana.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion?
If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you
practice prior to converting?
A convert, but with no ceremony to mark that step. I simply started
worshipping ancient Roman deities and it grew from there. Before I
was already a polytheist, but a Norse one.

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,
conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences
between the degrees of observance?
There's something of the sort in terms of degrees of reconstructionism
in modern-day Roman polytheism: a stricter one that calls for the
(re)creation of ancient Roman political and social structures, a
conservative trend that takes orthopraxy to the extreme of wishing a
return to the exact ritual practices of the past, and a more liberal
group that does a lot of concessions to the modern world, seeking to
adapt ancient Roman religious ways to today's context. And, of course,
there are a lot of grey areas in-between these three categories.

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie.
Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this
degree of observance?
I'm a liberal in that I have no desire to reconstruct political and
social structures of 2000 years ago nor do I think that ritual
practices should be immune to the modern world. To put it simply, I think
that ritualistic traditions must conform to the social morality.

5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what
happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment?
(such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
There's no dogma on that and I personally believe there are several
options when it comes to the afterlife: the underworld, becoming a
local wight, joining different gods, reincarnation, etc. There may be
places of punishment and there may be rewards, but it may normally be a
neutral thing.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If
they do not, why?
If by paradise you mean joining one's ancestors and/or chosen gods in
a sort of blissful existence, then I believe people generally do.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
Its diversity of gods and paths, its cultural connection (since I'm
native to a Latin culture), its openness towards other gods and
religions, the freedom it grants with regards to one's choices, and
its respects towards personal identity traits.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
That's a long list.... On a monthly basis, I celebrate the 1st, 5th or
7th, and 13th or 15th day (Calends, Nones, and Ides), plus an offering
to Freyr and other Vanir every month. But then there are also yearly
festivals like New Year's, Parentalia in February, Quinquatria in
March, Mercuralia in May, a sacrifice to Juno on June 1st, Neptunalia
in June, and Saturnalia in December. I don't celebrate every ancient
Roman holiday, but only those that were dedicated to gods Whom are
part of my personal pantheon and also add dates that are meaningful to
me (like the anniversary of the fulfilment of a vow to a god).

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Religion is not a criterion for friendship. At least not to me.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of
their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes, because I'm not an exclusivist and I recognize sacredness and
divinity in others' rituals and gods.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
To be honest, I find the burka disgusting because it is removes women
from role in public life by denying them a basic element: a publicly
know face! As for Shariah, I'm a big fan of a secular State, so I
don't think religious law should rule civil life.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister,
rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Traditionally, yes, but to what extent is a matter that will get
different answers depending on whom you're asking. Personally, I see
no problem with women taking on a priestly role in almost every cult.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
I'm mostly solitary, so I don't usually have a collective place of
worship. But, traditionally, some cults had exclusively male rituals
(like Hercules', if my mind serves me right) and some exclusively
female (like Bona Dea's).

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much
thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any
way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
It's present in my daily life, it affects it by means of ritual,
sacred etiquette (if you will) towards urban and natural elements
(trees, rocks, crossroads, etc.), by means of the Gods' inspiration,
or by asking Them directly for advise (usually through some form of
divination). Then again, I also like to keep a critical eye, so Their
input is taken with a grain of salt.

As for topics like gay marriage or abortion, it s my conviction that
moral is essentially social, so I tend to discuss those topics beyond
the religious context, even if I may get some input from it.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside
your religion?
My only concern would be the degree of freedom the child would have.
Is the other person’s religion respectful towards his/her choices?
His/her sexual orientation and that of family members? These are the
questions that matter to me and not the simple fact that it’s another

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Hell as in a place of punishment... no! And I'll say it again: no!

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and
why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do
you agree with them or not?
I'm aware that different people have different degrees of ritual
practice, but that's usually a personal matter that I don't get
involved in. As for people who speak for Roman polytheism, even if not
a sacred leader of any sort, there's Piscinus, who blogs at «Religio
et Pietas»

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Definitely not!

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Yes! Some gods are particularly good at that.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I like to keep the option on the table. For one, because I believe
there are various possibilities with regards to the afterlife
(underworld, godly realm, turning into a local wight, etc.) and,
secondly, because I do not claim to know the absolute truth of things,
so I don't rule out reincarnation.

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