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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Reconstruction

How to engage the reconstructionist / historical-based pagan and not get your feelings hurt:

Lesson 1: Learn to discern the differences between fact and opinion, history and UPG/experience.


You may not have realised that you were presenting a subjective statement as an objective one.  Especially in the United States, the stress on this aspect of language arts in schools is often failing, but so if pop culture, to be frank.

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  • Candi
    Candi says #
    Part 1 of How to Engage the Other Kinds of Mod/Recon Pagans: 1. Reference the all mighty shiny fact of power. 2. Be nice to tho
  • Candi
    Candi says #
    (I mean no insult, I'm just throwing in my two cents on the foucault bit. very frustrating to read, probably because i'm incredibl
  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy says #
    He's not only incredibly abstract, he's Abstract For Your Own Good!™ I can make perfect sense out of nonsense like Zardoz, or Liq
Making Sense of the Modernist Reconstructionist (Part 1)

Before I address the title, let me first address a fact that was illuminated in some fairly recent conversations:  I am old.  Chronologically, I'm just a bit over thirty, which isn't really anyone's idea of old --and contrary to the prevalent misconceptions of ancient longevity (which is an average) generally speaking, people who could survive past the age of 15 all through the Archaic and Classical eras could typically expect to live into their sixties, so this isn't even "old" by historical standards, but I'm old.  I'm old because I retain this stubborn identity of "Hellenic reconstructionist" even though many people my age and younger, even (sometimes especially) if they practise by the same general methods I do have long eschewed the term because of reasons.  I all get to those reasons very shortly.  I'm old because I've acquired greater measures of both patience and cynicism in my approach to dealing with others, largely because of persistent misconceptions of who and what I am and am about, and when I don't have the patience to explain it, I don't get angry, I just shrug and think oh well, this isn't news and frankly I don't think they're worth explaining it to, and then I ask the other person "Hey, let's agree to disagree?"  But the good thing about being an ageing cynic (but not really a Cynic, though I do appreciate some of their teachings --my philosophy is based largely on Kyrenaic Hedonism with equal parts Empedocles, Democritus, Kirkegaard, Sartre, Camus, Crisp, and Jarman filling in the gaps, and also a huge stress on aesthetic arts bringing joy and meaning taken from famous Dandies including, but not limited to, Beau Brummel, Oscar Wilde, and Lord Whimsy)...  [coughs]  Yes, the good thing about being an ageing cynic with a blog, is I get to make things as clear as i need to, update and revise as I need to, and point people to said blog when I don't feel like dealing with them right now.

I want to make clear what religious reconstruction is and is not, because in spite of being pretty active for about the last five years in trying to promote this method of practise as both a perfectly valid and relevant "pagan path", it seems I've been met with more gross and appalling misconceptions in this last year than the previous four combined.  Now, I have some suspicions on key players who may be a large part responsible for this, but this isn't about naming names, this is about using the position afforded me on PaganSquare to clarify, perhaps even educate.  In this, I also want to stress (though I doubt that I could ever stress enough for some people) that identifying with a reconstructionist method is not synonymous with being ultra-conservative, traditionalist, neo-luddite, or regressionist.

Religious reconstruction is a method of practise, not a religious doctrine in and of itself.

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  • Conor O'Bryan Warren
    Conor O'Bryan Warren says #
    What a *fabulous* post. I was very confused when I saw certain people calling it Hellenic Orthodoxy. I scratched my head and sneez
  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy says #
    I've concluded that the "Hellenic orthodoxy" thing is one of those made-up terms from people who want to feel superior about follo
  • Conor O'Bryan Warren
    Conor O'Bryan Warren says #
    I know, I think they were trying to invoke the image of 'Orthodox Christianity' and all the negative connotations that has in the

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Those of you who have been visiting this blog for a while are most likely aware I have a pretty Reconstructionistic approach to Reconstructionism. I came to Hellenismos from a Neo-Wiccan/Eclectic Religious Witchcraft path and have never been subject to the restrictions religion seems to have brought to those who came here through Christianity or other major religions. Because of this, I have no qualms in surrendering part of my autonomy to serve the Theoi (and other Gods, before my progression into Hellenismos). Today I want to talk about finding the balance between yourself and your Deities, a balance that is different for everyone.

Depending on your Tradition (and I'm just going to assume that since you're reading this, you have allowed the Gods in your life), you will describe your relationship with the Gods in a myriad of ways; work with, commune with, meet with, talk with, worship, appease, etc. I serve. I worship, too, and I appease. Sometimes, I talk to the Theoi, but above all, I serve.

Funnily enough, I'm not a submissive person. I'm a caring person, true, and I will gladly put others ahead of myself, but I do that from a place of personal strength and confidence. I choose to put others' needs ahead of my own at times, but I claim my own space and rights when I need to. I have boundaries that no one ever crosses, unless I allow them. I learned to do this the hard way, when I was still a child. Yet, when it comes to the Theoi (and other Gods before Them), I seem to be completely without boundaries.

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  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    "Who am I to go against His wishes ...?" You are a beautiful and incredible human being is who you are. Who is he to say you ha
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Cross-reply between here and http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/the-role-of-faith-and-hubris-in-paganism Thank you for

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

             (This is a column I meant to post about eight days ago, when all the other great ancestor-related readings were being proliferated.. but I suppose this is my “fashionably late” addition to the season.)

             A lot of my time as a spirit-worker and teacher involves helping people to come to a better relationship with their blessed dead – ancestors of both blood and “other-than-blood relation” – and in general addressing many of the issues that arise in the typical 21st century American “spiritual seeker” around such things. My own religious and spiritual work is deeply entrenched in “theism”, but I tend not to default to deity work with most people whom I am seeing as either clients or students. The reasons for this are various, but the main element is that in my tradition, one must prepare oneself before approaching the gods. Many of these preparations should have been undergone in our developing years – e.g. as children and teens going through a process of enculturation and initiation-based rites of passage – but as most of us in America did not grow up with the benefit of a traditional polytheistic or animist upbringing, we need to return to these basic principles as adults. This process, in my experience and observation, can involve years of developing foundational platforms of spiritual and personal/emotional essentials.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This blog post is the third installment in a very loose series focussing on the practice of reconstruction. The other parts can be found here: Standardizing Hellenismos and Thinking like a Recon. In this third--and probably final part--I will talk about trying to figure out which practices should be reconstructed, and which should not be. I can't speak for all Recon faiths on this, and I can only offer my opinion on Hellenismos. Others will disagree. In order to illustrate some of the points in this post, I will use the ancient practice of animal sacrifice. I have spoken about the practical and ethical difficulties of reviving that practice before, but it is such a fantastic example, I can not ignore it.

With the disclaimer out of the way, lets get on with this post, shall we? As previously discussed, Reconstructionist faiths work on a basic premise: those who practiced it first, practiced it best. If we want to worship these Gods, we should do it in a way which the Gods are used to and expect of us. Yet, society has changed. Other religions have come and gone. People have changed. Some practices have no place in current society but... how do we decide which practices should or should not be revived? And is it really up to us to decide this?

There are a few factors which influence the decisions of modern Recon practitioners when it comes to answering these questions. Influencing factors are current laws, the time period which the practitioner is trying to reconstruct, if the practice was part of the culture or the religion and--somewhat unfortunately-- the preference of the practitioner.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    If I may be permitted to interject once again from the Théodish perspective on Reconstructionism, animal sacrifice (Old Norse blót
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Thank you for your reply! I am sorry that I am responding to it this late; I had a bit of a tough weekend. I really appreciate the
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    I think a great example of how to modernize Hellenismos is to look to the Jewish and Catholic religions. Recently we had a reform

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I have written before about the differences between general (Neo-)Wiccan/Witchcraft Traditions and Reconstruction. In that blog post, I focussed on the practical, on the part you can see. This is not the most important part of Reconstruction Traditions, though. It's a part of it, but it only exists because of a mental component. It's this component I want to talk about today.

In general, 'reconstruction' is the practice of rebuilding something. This can be a crime-scene, a broken vase or any number of things. In Paganism, Reconstruction means the practice of reviving lost religious, social and practical practices from a specific time period or people. It is not that different from reconstructing a vase, actually, and I will be using that analogy a lot today.

Imagine this; long ago, a potter made a vase. He needed to make one because he had something which needed a holder. He shaped it in a specific form, inspired by his culture and need, and when the shape was done, he decorated it with imagery that was also culturally inspired. Somewhere over the years, the vase broke into a dozen pieces. There was no need for that particular vase anymore, so no one put it back together. Now, people need a holder again, and it seems logical to put the original holder back together instead of making a new one, because the first one functioned very well. They realize that in order to put the vase back together, they need to understand the culture and whatever was going on in the head of the potter who made it; without that knowledge, they won't be able to figure out how the pieces fit together and they can't restore the imagery without knowing what the potter created in the first place.

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  • Robert Scott
    Robert Scott says #
    Very good points which I think apply to any variety of recon, thank you.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Over the last couple of weeks, I have seen the inside of a lot of museums. The summer holidays do that to my life. About half of those museums were museums focussing on the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and/or Islamic periods in our history. Needless to say, the Greek parts interested me most.

I saw pieces of temples to Artemis and Athena, visited the Pergamon and marveled at a lot of pottery from ancient Greece. It was marvelous... and I felt no religious connection to any of it. In fact, I was shocked at how little connection I felt to it at all. It was as if the many visitors had sucked every drop of authenticity from the very stone. As if the worship which took place on and around these stones lost even the echo of their previous function. Worse still, I looked for clues on how to practice my religion and found none.

Seeing these relics of the past drove home just how lost the ancient Greek religion is to us. It cemented my resolve to revive it in a form which fits into this cultural framework. I also realized there is no going back to the past. The temples of old are gone. The grander of those days is lost to us and that is a depressing thought.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Dearest Elani, You have just described *exactly* the way I felt at Glastonbury Tor. I went there, having cut my Pagan teeth on no

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Interestingly enough, I had already written half of this post when Anne commented on yesterday's post, mentioning that practicing by UPG, to her, is more important than practicing by the ancient sources. I've been thinking about UPG a lot lately, in the same thought stream that produced yesterday's post of standardizing Hellenismos.

I have a love/hate relationship with Unverified Personal Gnosis (or UPG, for short). On the one hand, I believe, with every fiber of my being, in the knowledge I have been made privy of by the Gods. I believe in my experiences and they are sacred to me. They run anywhere from synchronicious events to detailed biographies and some of them I will never share with anyone, they were that special. Throughout my practice, I have allowed UGP to push me forward in my path. Much of what I know, have done or now practice is directly related to a UPG event, this blog and Little Witch magazine included.

On the other hand, there is UPG out there that contradicts mine, that I personally think is completely incorrect or that questions everything I believe in. Needless to say, this is UPG I struggle with. I can't view it as invalid; I respect everyone's path too much for that, but where does it fit in with my believes? We are talking about the same Gods, right?

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  • Sarah Avery
    Sarah Avery says #
    How unified was the worship of the Hellenic gods before Christianity? I ask as a curious and humble dilettante--I can barely limp
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Dear Sarah, Thank you for your thoughtful and inquisitive reply. I am going to do my best answering it but also realize I could w
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    You give me hope: if anyone can make a tradition-based religion open and compassionate, it will be people like you. Being "deeply

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Yesterday, I wrote about my experiences at Pagan festivals and I got a lot of thoughtful and understanding replies on it, both on Facebook and PaganSquare as well as off-line. It got me thinking about my Recon Tradition and how Recon I can make it. This was also inspired by a comment by Rebecca Buchanan on another post of mine at PaganSquare whose thoughtful reply made me scratch at an itch I have been refusing to scratch for a while now.

Hellenismos is a Recon Tradition; it's founded upon religious practice, as practiced by the ancient Hellens in a culture where this religious practice blended in effortlessly. Myself, I'm not Greek. I don't live in Greece. I'm a lesbian woman living in a culture which is incredibly far removed from that of ancient Hellas. I also practice alone and I have to substitute a lot of practices and sacrifices with something socially acceptable.

I'm going to say something now that I do not take lightly but I do stand behind. If practiced correctly and without prolonged suffering for the animal, I am in favor of animal sacrifice in religious worship. In all honesty, I think it's a beautiful practice. I would not relish the kill at all, and I think that if I ever had to do it, I would really, really struggle with it. But I would do it, out of respect for the Gods and because it was part of the practice of the ancient Hellens.

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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    As a qadish (a practitioner of Natib Qadish, Canaanite polytheism) I understand where you're coming from on a number of points. If
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    As more of an eclectic Hellenic I search for ways to bring an ancient idea into the modern world. I have a hard time thinking alo
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    OY! This sentence: However, I do think that the act of sacrificing an animal to the Gods is something that lessens our own society

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