There has been a lot of talk about mental illness recently in one online forum where I frequently post. And while most people there are fairly laid-back about mental illness, comments from others have had me thinking about the effect of mental illness on worship in Hellenic Polytheism. This is especially important to me considering that I have been diagnosed with mental illness myself and the question of miasmais certainly relevant considering that I aspire to be clergy within the HP community. I am stable on my medication and therapy regimen even though I still have the occasional “bad day” (although even people without mental illness can have those as well).
The underlying question is that of whether mental illness itself is “madness” and therefore carries miasmaor whether it is the more difficult UNTREATED symptoms that are the “madness”. As Dionysus inspires both sobriety and madness I would posit that it is not the illness but the lack of control that causes the issue. And if it is such then I also feel that those who are willing to seek treatment are seeking to have control over themselves and are struggling towards their own arête.
This struggle is a worthy one, but is invisible to most people in a way that the struggles of people with other difficulties, such as blindness, are not. Does this make the person less worthy than someone with a different difficulty? I would say not. I also do not say it makes them more worthy.
What makes a person not worthy is the failure to struggle against their difficulties. That is where miasmaenters the picture and that is what we need to purify ourselves from – that and our actions while they are not under our control.
Once we take the steps to purify ourselves, then we are worthy of worshipping the Theoi as THEY deserve to be worshipped.