|Schola Aetii -School of Priests, Augurs and Orators Opening!
SCHOLA AETII·THURSDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2018
OPENING OF THE SCHOLA AETII - School of Priests, Augurs and Orators
Vale my friends,
we all live in troubled times, some say interesting times, but whatever your walk of life is, I hope the benevolent Gods shine over you. Let me introduce myself first, so you know who is addressing you, and I promise to make it brief.
I am Gaius Florius Aetius, Sacerdos Apollon (I shall explain why I use this form instead of the classically correct Latin, soon), I have been a Pagan Priest for 30 years, first as Asatru, then more generally Pagan and for a number of years I am a Roman Cultor, which means a follower of Roman Polytheism. The esteemed organization “Roman Republic” had elected me as Sacerdos of Apollo, and after the nomination I went in a six months spiritual retreat, which I finished by achieving blessing and contact with my Lord Apollo, completing the formal status of Sacerdos. In my civil life I am known as Holger Schnepf, I live in Berlin, Germany, where I tend a shrine of Apollo, and I am also otherwise known as Elikal. I say this, though I hope to be none other than Gaius Florius Aetius to you, so you really know who speaks to you, and not merely some strange alias.
I shall not write in any tiring length about the ongoings in the circles of Roman Cultors, for we all must look to the future, to create. But alas, let me say so much, that for many reasons, I found that the community of the Roman Cultors did not really advance in the years I have joined them. As a new member, for long I shied away from taking a lead, or making a stand, but the hour has now come that I create something of formality. For long I was uncertain what form this work of mine should have, and if you know my Facebook Site “Schola Aetii”, I already started to held Public Lessons. At one point it just became clear. I cannot create a religious organization at this time. It would be hubris. Such a thing needs time and above all well educated people as founders, who share similar views. So I am here now creating a formal School of Priesthood. That is what I am announcing today. The creation of the “Schola Aetii – Collegium Sacerdotum Romanorum”.
Magister C Florius Aetius
Berlin, Ides of September, 2771 auc
PAGANISM AND POLYTHEISM
Let me come to these basic terms first. For they are both used in our circles, and I will try to make clear how I intend to use them here. You are, of course, free to have your own preferred definition, but when I use terms it is helpful to say a word about them, especially since a number of Roman and Hellenic Polytheists feel the term Pagan as derogatory or not fitting to them. I personally do not share this view, so let me suggest the different definition I suggest.
Polytheism shall here be defined as subgroup of Paganism. So while all Polytheists are Pagans, not all Pagans are Polytheists.
Let me explain. Polytheism is clearly in the word, the adoration of a plurality of Gods. Pagan in the contrary is a less sharp term, and I shall now use it as Indigenous Religions both in traditional and reformed forms. This includes for instance all forms of Henotheism, like a Mithraist prays only to Mithra, but accepts the existence and worthiness of all Gods. Or some form of Wicca or Witches who pray only to their Goddess, but accept the other Gods are there, just the same. And then of course those who follow Pagan Shamanic paths, and again we shall here not discriminate whether your Pagan Pathway is traditional or reformist, for I believe the term Pagan should embrace all people of these pathways, trying to reinvigorate Pagan alternatives.
I want to emphasize this statement, that all Pagans and Polytheists are here taught to respect all the ways of the other Pagans and Polytheists, even they are not your ways. Each man's and women's pathway to the Gods is equal in its worth, and we must develop respect in our large community towards other paths. Bickering and slandering other Pagan Ways is neither honorable nor fruitful. I say this with such emphasis, because another thing that follows will be difficult to accept for some: I stand clearly for the view that Paganism is superior to Monotheism, especially the so called Book Religions. Paganism is wholesome and spiritually healthy, both for the individual and for a culture to adapt. So we have a “product”, so to speak, which has great qualities to offer and which I am entirely convinced offers a better way for a society, than the restricting and oppressive ways of especially Christianity and Islam. While I do not want to see them as enemy – even though they often see us as such – I clearly see them as Competition, and replacing their spread with Pagan and Polytheist views is clearly a personal goal, and one I would recommend to take to your heart.
These are, as I mentioned, dark times, confusing times. As Pagans and Polytheists, it is our duty to work for the healing of the world, the Earth and all the creatures in it. Paganism and Polytheism stand for TRUE diversity, for the preserved culture and careful adaption, the balance between tradition and progress. We stand for the better religious alternatives with all our Pagan and Polytheist ways, where people are freed of the oppressive and irrational doctrines of commands and superstitious regulations by some Alien Maker God. While I clearly advocate that we have respect to our Christian brothers, family members and fellow citizens, we all know that if Paganism can shape the future, we must convince people that the Pagan Religions are the better alternative. Not through slander, hate-mongering or lies, but by calm truthfulness, through demonstrating personal piety, by explaining our system, our ideas, and – where necessary – highlighting the flaws of the Book Religions. So we take a stand. I regard this a duty for myself, and I hope to invigorate this duty in others. For the state of the world demands that Pagans stand up, end their silence and self indulgence. Nihilism, anti-humane movements of all sorts are rising up, and the strong armed Book Religions do not have answers the people need in our times, we Pagans and Polytheists do, and in trying times such as these, I call all to get out of the closet, to develop the courage to show yourself, and as living example, armed with knowledge and wisdom, help people understand our ways, so it is laid before them as a choice, an alternative to live, as individual, and as a perspective for a better society. I shall write about the ideas on how to spread our ideas and what this means in detail.
TEACHINGS OF THE SCHOLA AETII CSR
The aim of the Schola Aetii CSR is based on four pillars. We aim to give arguments for Paganism and Polytheism through official publications. This part has already begun in the publications on our Facebook Site “Schola Aetii”, where I wrote articles on various subjects, some on more general views, some more closely to the Roman Polytheism. Such articles serve anyone to educate him- or herself what Pagan and Polytheist pathways can mean, while other articles are more specific about the Roman Religion. This sort of Public Education and PR is and shall remain an integral task of the Schola Aetii.
The other three pillars, which are formally opened today at the Ides of September 2771 auc (2018 ev) are the creation of three courses. As headmaster (Magister) of the School, I will invite people who are interested in a personal education, and I will run three different courses, based on the different interest levels of people who want to join the School as Students. The exact formalities of this will be developed in the coming time, but anyone interested in Enrolling in the School, can now apply, and depending on the numbers, the formal system will adapt to that.
Enrolled Students of the Schola Aetii CSR can take three different courses, which aim to end first in a probation certificate and then, after two years of practiced the prospect of a permanent certificate will be given. While this sounds all very formal, it has become my understanding, that the former practice to just name people Priest (Sacerdos) without a formal training and some level of test, has proven to be flawed. And while I personally respect any group who gives out the duty of Sacerdos based on different premises, the Schola Aetii is formed to train both the education and help people to get a true understanding of what it actually means to become Sacerdos (Priest) of the Gods. I found some people took the duty of Priest upon them who were not really prepared for the duty, or some felt it more as a fancy, and this does not do well for Polytheism. The School is entirely rooted in Roman Polytheism, with the exception of the first course, which I shall explain now.
The Three Courses are: Orator, Sacerdos and Augur. They are titles you can achieve after going through the course with success. While there is at this time no time limit given, expect the training to be at least one year. But that expects regular contact, regular work and training, so the length of the course depends on your own dedication. When I certify a person as worthy to hold the Office of Sacerdos, Augur or Orator, I want to be sure I know the person, hence it is a personal training, not like some online language course. I want to be sure to know you, as you come to know me. Religious duties are very personal things, and the character of the person will be taken into consideration. While this may sound stern, do not fear, I am an open minded person, but personal character issues need to be revealed and in private worked on, or they will catch up with you and can shed a bad light on Paganism/Polytheism, and this is one reason why I formed this School. Each Course will respect your personal preferences, so it is not entirely rigid, but of course my 30 years experience as Priest has given me a good insight into what may be traps you are unaware of. (As such, voice contact is expected now and then. Contact through typed in chat and mail alone is not sufficient. I want to talk to you at least voice to voice sometimes.)
Nobody starts off as perfect Priest, and that is not expected. But an open mind, honesty and the true will to learn and work, to truly dedicate yourself to the Gods and your service to the people must be clear if you take any such office upon you. You are NOT made member of a Cult, a Group or an Organization. After the course ended you will get into two years probation, which can be reduced to one year if you work really well, and then the Certificate will be permanent. Priest and Augurs will be given an Initiation and Blessing rite, and of course rites and techniques to connect to the Gods to find their guidance. But again, we are NOT a religious group as such, this is just a school, you pass through, you finish and what you do with the skill and certificate is entirely up to you. We believe in the free responsibility of the individual.
The Orator is the most basic course, and it is so to speak the layman's course. It is a title that is new and did not exist in the past. The Orator is educated entirely in theory, there are no ritual practices, no initiations or exercises. The office or duty of the Orator is to explain the Roman Religion to people, to show its benefits and trying to spread views of the Roman Religion but also the ethical and philosophical ideas of classic Rome and Greece. These are the foremost tasks of the Orator, but also generally he supports arguments for Paganism and Polytheism in general, and where necessary, also speaks of flaws of the Book Religions and the flaws of nihilistic materialism.
The School will guard the character and mindset of the Orator, to make sure he or she is not guided by hate or spite. How Orators appear in public is of the greatest importance, for while we will train your how to argue in favor of Paganism and Polytheism and against Nihilism and the Book Religions, only if that Orator appears as a respectful personality can he or she reflect well on our cause. The Orator not only needs to convince through words and arguments, but by exemplifying the Roman (and at large Pagan) Values as a person. The Orator, while expected to be a Roman Polytheist, and spreading it first and foremost, is expected to give also general arguments. He is not supposed to lead people to Roman Polytheism alone. If the preference of some people he listens to go more to other forms of Polytheism, he supports them in their choice, be it Kemeticism, Asatru, Rodnoveri or whatever. As the School emphasizes the equality of all Polytheist ways, we do not “persuade” people to become a Roman Cultor, but we do highlight its benefits. Still the role of the Orator is serving the entire Polytheist Community with arguments, by trying to see the benefits to people who are for now either Nihilists or Monotheists, and while not trying to “talk them over”, he advocates for our cause.
The training of the Orator is twofold, it contains intellectual training, learning facts and lines of argument, but it is also a test of the character, so that we can be sure the Orator gives a positive, inspiring example, and not drives people rather away through his character.
Sacerdos is the name of the Roman Priest. Originally the terms and duties of the Roman Sacerdoti were quite formal, but we have to built this all from the ground up and adapt to the demands of modern times. That means, our education will be as traditional as possible and as reformed as necessary. As a friend of individual responsibility, this is to a degree a matter of negotiation between Student and Teacher. The ideal of this School is to lead each Sacerdos to be the Priest he or she wants to be. Again, we are no religious group, so after the course and trial you get a certificate on probation and then later a permanent one. You can then create a group or serve in an existing group of your choice. If you practice traditional or reformist Roman Polytheism, is up to you, but the School will teach you both.
The education of the Sacerdos is first in the traditional lore, and from then on we expand into the reformed systems which are adapted to our times. We will cover the relation of Priest and Gods and Priest and the followers. The Priest is generally servant of both, the Gods and the Community, a helper and guide of the Cultors and of all the people who seek his guidance. The times were a Priest was just a sort of functionary are past. We seek active Priests, who enjoy this work with enthusiasm and bring their own ideas into the work. As with the Orator, the personal issues of each Student must be worked on. Nobody is perfect, but it is expected that the Student is willing to look at his issues and acknowledge them. Working in the line of a Priest, it can do great harm if you are not constantly ready to work on yourself.
A word to formality. As it was custom, each Sacerdos dedicates himself to one God or Goddess. Adapting to modern times, each Sacerdos is open to every gender. The minimum age to become Sacerdos is 20. While a Sacerdos becomes Priest of one God, like myself Sacerdos Apollon, he or she is Priest in the name of all the Roman Gods, in particular of the 12 Dei Consentes, or the Twelve Olympian Gods, who are the main Gods. So any Sacerdos is able and privileged to do any priestly service, and there is no difference in level between the Sacerdoti. It is expected to become Sacerdos of one of the 12 Dei Consentes; exceptions can be made, but only on very good grounds, though it has to be a Roman God. We do not use the classic grammar, as it has a strange sound in our time, so it is Sacerdos Apollon, not Apollini Sacerdos, as it was in classic times, and so forth with all the Gods. (Sacerdos Jupiter, Sacerdos Minerva asf.) It makes it easier for people not knowing the Roman Religion to discern the matter.
After the test and the initiation, the Sacerdos is expected to vow to work as Priest for a period of his choosing, this can be two years, five years or ten years. The suggestion is, that anyone below 30 years of age, is either two or five years, and no more; anyone up to 40 years of age can chose up to ten years, and only people above 40 are suggested to take lifetime oaths, like I did. Understand that these are serious duties, but it is a test of character and a sort of payback to the Gods and their guidance. After the period of the oath you are free to follow your civil way as ever you please. Understand that the Gods take this very seriously, and I chose this duty to make sure only people who really want to be Priest take this path.
The Augur is one who learns to hear the will of the Gods. While the School recommends that anyone who takes an Augury course also takes one as Priest, it is not mandatory. The Augury course will contain a lot the same knowledge of the Priest, as each Augur must know the role of the Priest and the elements of the Roman Religion. An Augur is not bound to one certain God as Patron like a Priest, but the School educates General Augurs. Though an Augur may decide to dedicate himself to a God specifically, I suggest not to be overly fixated. Augurs train to have very close contact and communication with the Gods, and there is always the risk to be too much involved. Augury needs a careful training of the character, to be able to give yourself to the Gods requires a great level of trust, but then also step back and look at the material you got critically, otherwise any fancy dream or idea might be seen as “divine voice” and that level of superstition must be avoided at all cost.
Cicero differed in his writings “On Divination” two ways, the natural and the artificial systems of Divination. Natural are dreams and trances, the artificial are all system with use items or refer to occurrences. In the past this was Bird Flying, Bird voices, entrails of animals and natural omens, but the School does not teach these, for practical reasons. We adapt to the modern world as the School gives the options of: Tarot, Scrying in Crystal Ball, I Ching, Astrology and Natural Omens as the proven methods of Artificial Augury, and Dreams and Trances and the methods of Natural Augury. (Other methods may be taken up later.) This is probably the most diverting path from classic Augury. As Magister of the School I share the view of the Stoic School, that the Gods want to guide us, and so they speak to us in changing ways which are of our times, and these are pathways where people in our times have way more experience and gathering of data, whereas in the classic Roman methods, we have almost no data to compare it, and that would make using such old ways far too experimental and unsafe.
Either the use of natural or artificial methods of Augury require a very great level of personal dedication. We use these things not lightly, but with rigorous training and the character ability of skepticism. The Augur must be weary to discern between real omens and sights and projections of his own fantasy, and the Augury Course will put great emphasis on this element. In the end, the final choice to whom the Gods speak, lies with the Gods themselves, and to that level, it is not entirely in your hands if you can become Augur or not. We do not put oaths to the Augur to remain in duty, as to the Sacerdos, as the daily training is already quite a task of work, and we trust the Augurs to follow the Gods as they guide him or her.
I hope I have interested people in enrolling into the School as Students. The Schola Aetii will also continue its publications in the interest of the Roman Polytheism and Paganism in general. Please feel free to contact me and I will gladly answer any questions you may have. Keep in mind that this project has just started. The details of all these things may change, as I just keep on learning myself just the same. With initial small numbers, the courses will be entirely individual lessons and personal guidance, though if more people should enroll, a mix of personal training and community training can be established. This is a work on the go. Spread the word to all who might be interested in becoming a Student. You can apply by writing me a PM on Facebook or alternatively via Email: sarnokh
Also, if you are already Sacerdos or Augur, you may contact me if you want to become Auxiliary Teacher. If you have any special area you want to teach, I am most happy to look to you to apply to the School as Teacher, if you agree to the general ideas of the School.
May Mother Vesta and Father Janus bless us, as I pray to our great founders Romulus and Numa for guidance!