What is Neos Alexandria? Neos Alexandria is a community for Greco-Egyptians, Hellenics, Kemetics, Romans, Neopagans and others interested in learning about the Gods; their ancient and contemporary forms of worship; Greco-Egyptian culture; and in sharing our personal experiences and insights.
The model for the group is ancient Alexandria in Egypt, the first truly cosmopolitan city in antiquity, which stood at the crossroads of the Mediterranean. People from all parts of the ancient world flooded into her streets, shops, schools, and temples, producing a glorious multicultural society which fused the best of Greek, Egyptian, Roman, and Near Eastern ideas into a powerful synthesis that would go on to inspire history’s greatest minds down through the centuries.
What is Greco-Egyptian polytheism? Greco-Egyptian polytheism refers to the worship of the various Mediterranean Gods, spirits, and divinized mortals of antiquity, with a particular emphasis on the forms they took during the Ptolemaic and Greco-Roman periods of Egypt’s history. We call this tradition “Greco-Egyptian” because Greece and Egypt serve as the two most important sources that led to the establishment of this syncretic culture. However, contributions were also made by Romans, Jews, and other people from the Middle East, so it is not a truly comprehensive designation — but anything more than that would just be an unwieldy mouthful. Although the guiding source of inspiration for Neos Alexandria is the Greco-Egyptian tradition, our group is fluid in regard to how it maintains the Gods should be understood and worshipped. It views tradition as a continuum, with “Greco-Egyptian” serving as a single focal point in the midst of that. One can choose to draw on all of the material leading up to that point, and/or the point itself, as well as what comes after. Neos Alexandria holds open the possibility that new and varied understandings of our Gods are still possible, informed by our contemporary society and its culture — though such new evidence must be carefully weighed against the spirit of ancient tradition and what it teaches us about the nature of the Gods.
Is This Different From Greco-Egyptian Syncreticism? Many people use the terms Greco-Egyptian polytheism and Greco-Egyptian syncreticism interchangeably, while others feel that these have very distinct meanings. The truth is — both sides have a point. Greco-Egyptian polytheism is fundamentally syncretic since it represents the harmonious blending of different cultural traditions. However, one can be a Greco-Egyptian polytheist without espousing theological syncreticism; thus some choose not to employ this term as their preferred designation.
Does Neos Alexandria Make Any Claims to Exclusivity? As it states in our principles, Neos Alexandria is a non-exclusive group. Its membership is open to anyone who honors the Greco-Egyptian Gods, as well as anyone interested in fellowshipping with those of us who do. Members may belong to any group in addition to Neos Alexandria that want. They may also choose to use whatever identifying terms they prefer. Consequently, we have a diverse membership, and that is reflected in the content on our website.
Therefore, just because a certain individual happens to be a member of Neos Alexandria this should not automatically disqualify them from inclusion in the mainstream Hellenic polytheist, Kemetic, or Roman communities. Many of our members are just as orthodox, orthopraxic, and solidly reconstructionist as anyone else in those communities. Many also belong to and actively contribute to a number of the same online and real world groups. All members are encouraged to contribute their research, essays, poetry, rituals, and devotional writings to our website. We do not enforce ideological consistency on our authors, preferring to let them speak in their own voice and share their own insights and experiences. Consequently, even though Neos Alexandria clearly identifies itself and its website as Greco-Egyptian, one may often find contributions discussing issues specific to, and identifying their authors as, practitioners of Hellenismos, Kemeticism, and Romanitas among other polytheistic religious perspectives. These should be taken as expressive of the beliefs and experiences of the individual author, and not of Neos Alexandria as a whole. When something is reflective of the group in its entirety — for instance our various policy statements — it is clearly labeled as such.
Is Neos Alexandria a Reconstructionist Group? No. Reconstructionism is a methodology employed in the revival of any number of culturally-specific forms of polytheism. It tends to be conservative in outlook, favoring academic research and a strong emphasis on primary source material.
Reconstructionism is not the religion itself. It is a way to practice that religion. Neos Alexandria considers the reconstructionist methodology a valuable tool in reviving Greco-Egyptian polytheism. We seek to know everything that we can about the religion as it was practiced in the Ptolemaic and Greco-Roman periods. The writing on our website reflects this appreciation for scholarly research and academic discipline — and carries over into the conversations on our e-mail list. People understand that they need to back up their extraordinary claims with reputable source material. There is a lively exchange of ideas, often resulting in refinement and progression of beliefs through healthy criticism and peer review. When someone goes beyond what the sources say or comes up with his/her own novel interpretation of things, the individual clearly label it as such, and the rest of the group can judge the validity of such claims for themselves. However, many of our members do not consider themselves reconstructionists. They may identify as non-recon Hellenic, Roman, or Kemetic polytheists, or may come from other faith traditions such as Neopaganism, Wicca, Thelema, Feri, etc. Our primary concern at Neos Alexandria is honoring the Gods, giving them the most pleasing form of worship possible. In many cases, it appears that what the Gods like best are the ancient ways — but that is not always the case.
Our Gods are living beings with an independent will of their own. As such we recognize that different Gods are going to favor different kinds of worship, and that the Gods may ask different things of different people, particularly over long stretches of time. Therefore, as much as we value reconstructionism, we do not limit ourselves to just that methodology.
What are the Core Beliefs of Neos Alexandria? The principles of Neos Alexandria have been articulated here.
Beyond those we ask only that members show respect to the Gods and to other members of the community. It is perfectly fine to disagree with someone; it is not okay to be rude about it.
Are the Members of Neos Alexandria All Required to Adhere to the Same Beliefs and Practices? Absolutely not. Just as ancient Alexandria was home to a multitude of belief systems and religious practices, we at Neos Alexandria welcome and promote diversity within our ranks. In addition to the diverse forms of polytheism, both recon and neopagan, we have some Jews and Christians in our midst who have no problem participating in conversations and devotional activities for our Gods, and contribute in their own way to the revival of Greco-Egyptian culture. We leave it up to them to sort out the details of how that fits with their personal philosophies and what they are comfortable participating in. As it says in our principles “Neos Alexandria makes no exclusions based on gender, race, sexual orientation, financial status, national origin, political ideology, philosophical creed, or religious profession. We are non-exclusionary. Members can belong to any other group provided that the aims and philosophy of such groups are not antithetical to our own. We ask only that members do not try to unduly proselytize for those groups on our discussion list or at our events, or carry ongoing conflicts from there into our hallowed neutral territory.”
What is More Important in Neos Alexandria, (Shared) Belief or (Shared) Practice? Belief — defined for the moment as an articulation of an experience or of conception of divinity — is a matter that varies greatly from individual to individual, even within a singular religious viewpoint or affiliation. Because of the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and belief styles present in Neos Alexandria, achieving a status quo of shared belief is neither possible nor desirable. However, in the creation of certain Neos Alexandria projects, like the calendar, we have striven to offer our members the chance to build a shared practice. People in New Zealand and New York doing a ritual on the same day to the same God is what the aim is; making sure that both parties do their ritual in the exact same manner, and believe the same things about the God in question, is less of a concern.
Some will say that belief and practice go hand-in-hand, which is true to an extent; but most forms of polytheism are more concerned with orthopraxy (collectively determined practice) rather than orthodoxy (collectively determined belief), both in their ancient forms as well as in more modern expressions, including in living/uninterrupted traditions like Shinto and Hinduism. Therefore, “believe” what you like — or don’t believe what you like! — but if one is a member of this religious group, joining in the various shared practices (the calendar, the God of the Month Club, devotional agon activities, weekly rituals such as the one here and here, and so forth) is probably a good idea, and one that we encourage, when and where possible.
Does One Have to Worship All the Gods of the Neos Alexandrian Pantheon to be a Member? Absolutely not. We consider that a supremely personal decision. No one should attempt to force another individual to worship any divinity -– nor seek to impede the free expression of another’s religion. As a member of Neos Alexandria one may choose to honor the whole Greco-Egyptian pantheon, a single God, or only a handful of divinities; or may primarily worship Gods from other pantheons; or choose to abstain from worship as they see fit. They may do so in whatever form they wish, and entertain whatever beliefs they feel most sensible about the Gods, provided that those beliefs are not predicated on antipathy towards the Gods in any way.
How is Neos Alexandria Organized? Neos Alexandria is a non-hierarchical religious organization. There is no cadre of elites who run the show from behind the scenes. The group is governed according to a strict principle of isopoliteia which means “equality under the law.” As such, all of our members are held to the same standards of behavior and have an equal say in determining how the group will be run. All viewpoints are given equal consideration. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been there from the start or you just joined yesterday. When it comes to making decisions that affect the group as a whole, everyone’s voice counts. All important issues are discussed by the membership. When all relevant viewpoints have been considered, the matter is put to a vote and the majority wins.
Our publishing arm, Biblioteca Alexandria, is run by a small team of volunteer editors who have final say over the content of the books and matters relating to them. However, decisions that affect the group as a whole are put to the regular members for consideration and final approval. Exacting financial records are kept and shared with the group on a monthly basis. All expenditures must be approved by the group before they can be enacted. All other positions — such as list and chat moderators, content coordinators for the website, etc — are filled on a volunteer basis. We have no official priesthood, feeling that each person is capable of offering sacrifices at his/her own altar and communicating with the Gods on their own. Neos Alexandria is governed by the will of the people: as such it has no need of an official leader.
Is Neos Alexandria Recognized by the US Government? Neos Alexandria does not currently have government recognition as a religious organization or charitable group. However, our publishing arm Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is a federally recognized 501(c)3.
What Activities Does Neos Alexandria Sponsor? Probably our most visible effort is Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which publishes both anthologies dedicated to individual Gods and groups of deities, and important new titles by contemporary authors on themes of interest to Hellenic, Roman and Kemetic polytheists such as theology, ethics, history, poetry, philosophy, and various forms of worship, both ancient and modern. For a list of our current and upcoming volumes, as well as other matters relating to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, please consult this page.
Since our members feel that it is important to be a good citizen and demonstrate philanthropy, we have set aside 25% of the proceeds from the sale of many of our Bibliotheca Alexandrina books to be donated to worthy charitable causes in the name of the Greco-Egyptian Gods. A list of the charities that we support can be found here.
In addition to the wonderful and informative conversations that our members have on our main list, we also hold impromptu chats whenever our members feel like getting together. In addition to their own personal religious practices, our members also participate in the Weekly Devotional Rite and the Gods of the Month Club. Neos Alexandria also celebrates a large collection of festivals.