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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Reconstruction

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
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I think that as long as people keep thinking about and questioning what they are doing, they will be able to avoid most of the pit
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Elani, Thanks for your generous and gracious response. Honestly, I wish I *could* believe in "tradition" but having given up my

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
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    That correction does bring a different light to that sentence As a pretty darn hard polytheist, I truly believe in all three poi

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