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Moonsmith

Revived, reconstructed or constructed?

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Moonsmith

First and foremost there is no hierarchy intended in the three words of the title.  We believe what we believe and leave others to do the same regardless of the source of those beliefs.

Prompted by a remark in a post by Ellinas:

Is your Paganism:

A revival of something that went before but has faded.  A revivalist [for this purpose] would be working with a practice/format/thinking which is known.

A reconstruction of something that is known to have existed but for which [most of?] the practice/format/thinking has not been used for more than the [say] memory of a human being, probably very much longer.

A construction of your own creation.

OK so it might well be all of the above but how do you think of your beliefs as you practice/use/involve yourself in them.  On those days when your beliefs seem to be so appropriate, what  is the bedrock?  [Or vessel that keeps you afloat for the more fluid thinkers!]

I am very happy to admit that my own Pagan belief is a thing of my own construction.  I further admit to influence by mostly living acquaintance and recent authors.  There is behind that a barely perceptible thread of thinking stretching from the past but it isn't strong enough to bear the weight of my skepticism.  It carries others easily.  Perhaps I am metaphysically obese; dance on the head of a pin I cannot.

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DavidMcCann

An interesting set of questions!

I consider my Hellenic practice a denomination or sect within polytheism. Obviously worshiping Greek gods doesn't imply denying Japanese or Yoruba ones: Hellenism is closer to Shinto than Catholicism is to Evangelical Protestantism. Also the practice is very similar: my altar only needs a change of statues to look like a Hindu one.

Incidentally, Hellenism didn't fade: it was the victim of an attempted murder by Christianity. I say attempted because there is evidence that there were always some polytheists in Byzantium.

My view on the benefits of selecting a specific pantheon are

1. Raised in a basically Christian society, we absorb Christian attitudes without noticing it. By choosing a complete package, as it were, whether Hellenism or Shinto, we can immerse ourselves in it and learn to see things differently.:

2. If Athena was worshiped by the Greeks rather than the Romans or the Egyptians, then either they found her easier to relate to or she found them easier to relate to. By looking at the culture that worshiped a god, we can learn more about that god.

3. Any polytheistic religion can accept cults from outside — the Greeks took up Carian Hekate, Phoenican Aphrodite, and Egyptian Amun — but adopting a completely pick and mix approach does have the risk of not giving a spiritually balanced diet. By worshiping all the major gods of one pantheon, I remind myself that there values that do not come naturally to be and open myself to them.

So, are my practices revived, reconstructed, or constructed? I'd say revived, and also refurbished.

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Ffred_Clegg
6 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Is your Paganism:

A revival of something that went before but has faded.  A revivalist [for this purpose] would be working with a practice/format/thinking which is known.

A reconstruction of something that is known to have existed but for which [most of?] the practice/format/thinking has not been used for more than the [say] memory of a human being, probably very much longer.

A construction of your own creation.

 

Interesting conundrum!

Not something of my own creation - there are probably bits of UPG supporting my practice (and maybe even some drawings that I can't admit belong in the tradition - I suspect that there is more than a bit of Wiccan influence kicking around at the back there) - but I wouldn't ever advance anything that contradicts things that we actually know about the past.

Not something that's reconstructed either - I do tend to sit at the recon table in discussions but much of what we know about the Celts is stuff that was of its time and couldn't be easily brought into modern parlance ("Ffred, you know that pit in your front garden full of dead cow bones....")

Revived - well in the sense that there are all sorts of strands of unauthorised belief that have been lost into the historial record, then yes, but also fitted together with what can be reconstructed from the wider traditions of European Paganism (eg the spring/tree/stone triad in a sacred place), hints from the bardic tradition and also from the cunning craft.

So if you're forcing me to vote for one of the above, then the first one's probably closest!

gwyn eich byd

Ffred

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Ellinas

Short answer is "don't know".

I'm not a reconstructionist.  I occasionally refer to "Athens pickled in aspic" to describe my attitude to trying to reconstruct an ancient religion.  Bottom line is that, whatever it was, and had it not been the victim of the attempted (and not far off completely successful) murder that Mr McCann describes, it would now likely be very different from anything that anyone is trying to reconstruct.  Ancient Hellenism suited the society of the day, and is best left there, from where I'm looking.

But...

There are myths and legends that carry as much meaning now as they did in the past (though modern eyes might see a range of meanings different to those perceived a couple of thousand years ago).  There are philosophies and thought processes that are foundational to modern ideas.  There's a whole outlook (which, in my view, tends to be quite rationalistic in the Hellenic economy) that is perfectly applicable in pretty well any time that is prepared to countenance the Hellenic deities.

Does that make me a revivalist?  Not really, I suspect.  In reality, I'm taking what I deem appropriate to the me in the here and now and creating my own version of a spirituality out of that.  Maybe that is nearer to self-constructed, albeit to a large part with the recycling of old building materials.

Perhaps it also fits better with my preference to consider my Hellenism a personal belief system rather than a religion.  I'm not fond of doctrines.

This is all off the top of my head.  I might think something different tomorrow...

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Moonsmith

Just for completeness perhaps I should have added "adoption". - the more or less complete acceptance of a practice/format/thought process revived, reconstructed or created by another.  I doubt that there are many Pagans who have "swallowed anything whole!"

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