I just sent the message below to various Hellenic email lists. There may also be some interested folks in this lj group who are not on the other lists. I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in forming a Heifer International team devoted to charitable contributions in the name of polytheistic religions. Heifer is a charity that gives livestock (as an economic base) to the needy in developing countries. Those who receive such aid agree to help others by passing on livestock offspring and knowledge. What makes Heifer particularly suited to polytheistic religions with a tradition of sacrifice is that you can choose which type of animal you give (chicks, goat, pig, cow, water buffalo, etc.). This means you can offer an animal appropriate to the deity or festival you are currently honoring, as a modern form of sacrifice. For example, in an Eleusinian Mysteries rite you might offer a small store-bought ham to Demeter and Kore during the rite, then go home and offer by a live pig by donating through Heifer. In this way, you can honor the ancient tradition of animal sacrifice in a modern way, while making a concrete contribution to world welfare, all in the name of the gods. This is something that some polytheists already do individually through Heifer. The benefits of donating together as a team, as I see them, would include: *mutual encouragement *donating in the name of the gods (rather than only in our own names) *coordination - making it possible to give a full animal between a group of fellows, even if each individual can only afford a share--which is much more satisfying in a ritual than saying "Here, Zeus, take this offering of 1/10th of a cow, since I'm kinda broke." *raising awareness and generating good PR for our religions - insofar as a team would be more visible, and charitable giving is respected even among those who do not share our ways I have already created a team, as a test, that can serve as a beginning or as an example for what we could begin. It's called Gifts to the Gods. To find it, go to www.heifer.org. Click Give > Team Heifer > Find a Team, and then enter my full name: Brandon Newberg. You should then be given a link to my Gifts to the Gods home page. There are other options than the way I have set this up. For example, it might be possible to have different teams for different deities, etc. At the moment I am posting to various Hellenic groups, as these are the contacts I have and sacrifice plays a significant part in much modern Hellenic worship. Whether this will stay within the Hellenic community or not is yet to be decided. Please let me know if you are interested in this. Or, if you think it's not such a great idea, let me know that too. I'm trying to find out if this team idea will garner enough interest to merit its doing. And by the way, even if you'd rather not be part of a team, please check out Heifer International and consider donating. Thanks. ;-)
Yes, I have done this before myself and I've occasionally seen the same done by other polytheistic orgs. I think it's a great idea!
P.S. This is another one I like. It doesn't involve giving animals, but I think the clean water gifts are appropriate donations to Gods of engineering-type disciplines such as Hephastios or Athena, and the medical gifts are appropriate for Apollo or Asclepius.http://www.seva.org
Wow. This is an interesting concept.