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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in reconstructionist

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I'm writing in response to Tess Dawson's excellent post about honoring the differences among the numerous Pagan paths. There are many tributaries of this mighty river: Druidry, Wicca, Heathen, Asatru, Kemeticism, Thelema...the list could go on and on. Even within each of those tributaries, there are several streams that feed into it. Just within Wicca, there are Gardnerians, Dianics, Reclaiming, and more.

I agree very much with Dawson: our paths are not the same path. I believe that the right path is the path that sings in your heart; like Nature, I believe diversity is strength. I don't need to make every path the same in order to respect it.

However, we are linked in some way. Why else are we represented on this very website? Many have tried to find that spring from which our various streams have emerged, but apparently they have failed. We are not all Earth-based. We are not all polytheists. We are not all reconstructing an ancient religion, nor are we creating a new one. Perhaps one day, as our paths have been trod by more generations, someone will find that common source. But really, it's not important.

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  • Dominique Pierson
    Dominique Pierson says #
    I'm liking this idea. As to the question of what binds us, why are we in this community together? The same question could be aske
  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    So the question is how many letters in our acronym - meaning, which categories will work? Would all Earth-centered religions be ha
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Oh, yeah, also... you left out non-theists. (Gaians, humanist Pagans, Jungian Pagans, and atheist Pagans.) Given that for a good f
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

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

I was raised with the understanding that religion is, at its core, a thing that exists in order to facilitate relation between a person and something other than that person. This relation manifests in a myriad set of expressions and forms, from the most obvious and essential of relating to the divine powers, to the (perhaps equally important!) social side of relating to your corporeal community, and a thousand shades of grey between these two polarities. Religion that does not promote, facilitate and structure a person's relation to something which is both bigger than and at least in some way separate from themselves is, by my definitions, not religion at all.

My father, a Protestant Christian preacher, taught me – drawing upon the philosophies of his grandfather, also a preacher – of a "trinity" of religious relational foundations which was altogether a different thing than the usual "trinity" spoken of in Christianity. He taught me about the equal importance of relation with the divine (or invisible) world, relation with the human (social, communal) world, and relation with the natural (physical, visible, non-human) world. This, which in so many ways served as the first three swings of the machete through the heavy brush obscuring the paths of my own polytheistic religious calling, was my first encounter with truly ancestral wisdom.

The inherent requisites of this three-fold paradigm are clear: for relation to the gods, relation to humanity, and relation to the natural world, one must accept that all three of these are real. "Belief" (orthodoxy) is of less importance than practical acknowledgment (orthopraxy,) whether through full submission or reluctant choice to not contest or challenge these things. Belief can certainly be helpful (or even preferable) in many cases, but one does not need to believe in al-Girtas to be in relation with them! A second essential and perhaps more subtle requisite postulation is the suggestion that these three-tiered worlds can indeed relate back to you.

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  • Robert Scott
    Robert Scott says #
    I appreciate your impressions and comments applicable to recon, thank you.
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Very nice post!!!! And I second Rebecca's notion. Also, just in case you were unaware because it comes from a small publisher in
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Hi Rose! Thank you for your comments and support. I am familiar with the book and have a pre-order placed; the author is the co-fo

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