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cesara
October 17th, 2007, 10:46 PM
I hope you don't mind, but in order to avoid sidetracking another thread, I have asked a few questions about the Recon traditions and started a thread here.

Everyone is welcome to chime in. I am in the process of researching an article and would greatly appreciate any and all thoughts and opinions.


I'm enjoying this conversation, Cesara...thank you.
And thanks to you for sharing your thoughts, as well. :)

I hope you don't mind me asking some questions.



I also follow my gnosis, but it doesn't trump correct (traditional) practice.
Why not? What is it about orthopraxis that is more valuable to you than gnosis where spirituality is concerned?



Because of my own personal feelings, I feel that the best path for me is Hellenic Reconstruction.
So, was it a 'feeling' that brought you to Hellenism? Gnosis? Logic?



Those that value their gnosis over practice would probably not find Hellenic Reconstruction to their liking...and that's OK.
I would agree. And yes, it is certainly OK.



One is not better than the other...they are just different.
Sorry, I must have misread your previous posts. Earlier referred to the article and said:

Honestly what you're doing is taking the focus off the message...which is that self proclaimed eclectics pulling from cultures without proper understanding and respect is wrong....and is not true Eclecticism.
Do you agree with the sentiment of the article you outline above?

As an aside, what is 'true' eclecticism to you? For you, does 'true' eclecticism insist on an understanding of an entire culture before one implements the desired practices and beliefs? Some of the culture? If so, how much?

Would it be acceptable for someone to learn and understand the parts of the culture they are interested in and then work with a god from it's pantheon in a non-conventional way, dismissing Hellenic orthopraxis? Why? Why not?




We really can't know what the gods like or dislike. I suppose this is where personal gnosis comes into play. For example, my personal feeling is that Hermes likes crystallized ginger as an offering. That is not proven historically, but my personal gnosis tells me so. So...I offer Hermes the ginger, in the correct way. This is an acceptable practice for the Hellenic Recon. The Ancient Greeks offered what they had, they shared with the gods...so as a Recon, I don't see anything wrong with offering tobacco, or chocolate. See what I'm saying? The Ancient Greeks didn't view the gods in the same way from city state to city state. And that's fine....we can see from their epithets that they were viewed in many different aspects. As Recons, we can do the same, even create new epithets if we were so inclined.
Thanks for sharing this insight into acceptable Neo-Hellenic practice. I am sensing it is a fine line that many Reconstructionalists may walk.




I'm not saying that my way is the only way or the best way. I'm saying that it's the best way for ME....and probably some others who feel the same as I do.
Absolutely.




What I am saying is that regardless of what the gods like or dislike, they are still worthy of respect.
Why?

Is this idea held to gods outside your Recon pantheon?




Part of showing respect is to understand them as they were worshiped, the culture they came from.
Why do you feel this matters to them? Further, is it common in Recon circles to see the gods as the result of a culture and not infinite beings?




I don't believe that that is out of line.
Not at all. And, I don't think rejecting that idea is, either. :)

As I said, any and all thoughts are appreciated. :)

Twinkle
October 17th, 2007, 11:26 PM
I feel like such a dork...I have no idea how to multiquote on this forum, but I will do my best to answer your questions. Please note that I do not attempt to speak for all Reconstructionists. Also...please note that some Reconstructionists may not agree with everything I say...this is my perspective based on what I know. While some Reconstructionists are intellectuals and scholars, I make no such claim for myself.

OK...here we go. :)

1. I think I need to clarify that my personal gnosis is extremely important to me. My relationship with my gods is deeply personal and valuable to me. Since I was a child I had a deep love for Greek mythology and culture, and to me personally, the best way for me to honor the Gods is to worship them the way they were worshipped in Ancient Greece.

2. What brought me to Hellenic Reconstruction was, in retrospect, a long "love affair" with Greek mythology and culture. As an 11 and 12 year old I devoured books on Greek Mythology. My parents would take me to museums, I'd look at the artwork and be able to rattle off the myths. I remember...even at the age of 18 that I loved the gods and was sorry that people didn't worship them anymore.

As the years went on I sort of wandered around Pagandom...I was a Satanist, A Wiccan, A Christian Wiccan....then I went back to Christianity for a brief period. I was lost. I knew that I was not Christian...I didn't know what I was. Then I found Hellenic Reconstruction...and it was like "coming home". I never left. In retrospect, I was having gnosis of the gods for years...I just didn't acknowledge or recognize what it was. Hermes, specifically....has always been around. I love him dearly.

So, ultimately, personal gnosis is what brought me to Hellenic Reconstruction.

3. I do ultimately agree with the essay's message. Claiming to be eclectic as a cover for being a lazy sod, to me at least...is reprehensible.

"True eclecticism"...and I probably have a much more strict view than others....is worshiping deities from different pantheons with historical accuracy. To be a true eclectic means to switch your paradigm and practice to match the deity and culture you're pulling from. Eclectism, by definition, differs from syncretism in that there is no attempt to resolve cultural conflict.

I don't believe that one necessarily has to be an expert on the culture that they are pulling from...if we waited until we were all sure of everything then we would never practice. I do believe that one should at least have basic knowledge of proper worship, and understand the origin and aspects of the deity being pulled.

It would be acceptible to understand the culture of a deity, and then decide not to worship in the correct cultural context. I would not call that Eclecticism, though....I would call that "making it up as you go". Being a reconstructionist, I work within my paradigm. If someone told me they were invoking Aphrodite for love spells...knowing full well that the Ancient Greeks frowned upon this practice...then I would wish them well....but I would tell them that for me...that behavior is impious and would earn me a smackdown.

So...t answer your question, it would not be acceptable for ME.,...and I would probably cringe if I knew someone was doing that with Aphrodite. It would be acceptable for someone else. We'd probably get in some debates over it and someone would cry spiritual elitism....but that's sometimes how things go when discussing religion. :)

4. I don't worship Gods outside my Pantheon. I know there are some Syncretists out there that worship Egyptian Gods along with the Greek Gods...and those Egyptian Gods are treated with the same respect as the Greek ones...of course, they are considered the same Gods....so...I don't know. One person's god should be shown respect...even if it's not mine. That would include the Christian God. I'm not gonna be worshipping 'em....but I'm certainly not going to dismiss someone's deity as not being important to them, and I would expect that if someone is worshipping Quan Yin along with Odin that they treat those Deities with the same respect that I would treat my own.

5. I don't know that the Gods care one way or another...quite honestly. The Gods truly don't need anything from us. I think treating them with respect, and worshiping the way I do has more to do with us and our relationship to the Gods. Because I understand my relationship with the gods to be in line with how they were worshipped in Ancient Greece. I practice the same way....building a relationship with them through offerings and sacrifice, starting a relationship of Reciprocity. The second part of your question really depends on who you're talking to. The philosophers had all sorts of ideas as to what the Gods were and how they related to us and our culture. With Hellenic Recons, personal theology may vary. In fact, it does vary.


Please let me know if I missed something, or if I can clarify anything for you.

Seren_
October 18th, 2007, 05:32 AM
Why not? What is it about orthopraxis that is more valuable to you than gnosis where spirituality is concerned?

I wouldn't say it's a matter of 'value', I would say it's a matter of methodology. If you're saying you're reconstructing a religion of a particular culture then obviously you have to look at what they believed and how they expressed that belief; it will be your first port of call, so to speak. That doesn't invalidate UPG (though as a Celtic Recon maybe I have to work with it more than other paths), but naturally it takes a back seat to some extent.


So, was it a 'feeling' that brought you to Hellenism? Gnosis? Logic?All of the above? What brings anyone to a path?

In my travels through various paths I found that a lot of the books put great weight on 'history' and 'tradition'. While I liked the idea of there being a historical connection to what I was doing I often found the history was wrong. Reconstructionism just seemed to be a natural path to explore and I found that it was the right fit for me. For the first time I felt I was actually connecting with the gods in more than just a hit and miss manner than I had done before, and ultimately that was the deciding factor. It's just what feels right to me.

Reconstructionism involves a lot of work and research, especially since the path I follow is still so young. As well as fitting with my beliefs, the approach fits my personality and interests, so I feel it gives me a rounded approach to my spirituality.



As an aside, what is 'true' eclecticism to you? For you, does 'true' eclecticism insist on an understanding of an entire culture before one implements the desired practices and beliefs? Some of the culture? If so, how much?

Would it be acceptable for someone to learn and understand the parts of the culture they are interested in and then work with a god from it's pantheon in a non-conventional way, dismissing Hellenic orthopraxis? Why? Why not?How someone else pursues a relationship with the gods is frankly no concern of mine. Before I was a recon I was a Wiccan, a 'generic' pagan, I even looked into Ceremonial Magic. In my travels I had very genuine (to me, obviously) religious experiences. I didn't get struck down by lightning for not doing it 'right' or anything like that. It's just I found reconstructionism to be a better fit as far as my beliefs are concerned, and the way in which I express those beliefs.


Why?

Is this idea held to gods outside your Recon pantheon?Gods are gods. They're bigger than me :p While I feel called to a particular pantheon, I respect all gods, and all beliefs (at least, I hope I do - though I'm not saying I don't disagree sometimes). On the few occasions I've been in other countries and visited shrines or temples to other deities I've paid my respects to them.

As a Celtic recon I believe that local spirits and deities should be honoured in my practices, because honouring the land is an integral part of my beliefs and those spirits and deities that are part of the land are worthy of respect. For those who don't happen to live in the same country as the one they're focusing on, this means honouring spirits, or at the very least respecting the traditions, outside of that culture. For example, in America I hear that a lot of CRs don't pour libations of alcohol onto the ground because in Native American belief it's regarded as a poison. Alcohol was a very common offering in Ireland, however, so I understand the libation is poured into fire to burn it instead of 'poisoning' the earth.

Some recons also feel called to honour the some of the deities of their ancestors, and often, while they wouldn't say they're dedicated to those gods, and don't incorporate them into CR practice, they do honour them in some way separate to CR practice.



Why do you feel this matters to them? Further, is it common in Recon circles to see the gods as the result of a culture and not infinite beings?I see the gods as timeless beings. I don't see them as being a result (in terms of them being an 'invention', not existing before the culture came along) of the culture so much as a see them interpreted through the lense of that culture....if that makes sense. That's why I see understanding the culture - the myths, the beliefs, the expressions of those beliefs as being an integral part of my practice (or maybe it's more correct to say the methodology of my approach to practice)...

odubhain
November 28th, 2007, 07:31 AM
Why not? What is it about orthopraxis that is more valuable to you than gnosis where spirituality is concerned?

Tradition is certainly one leg of knowledge and one that must be reconstructed at times if it has been hidden or lost. At other times, a second leg of knowledge known as experience, supports reconstruction. Our ancestors learned from their experiences and changed their ways if new ways were better. This change was obviously conservative of tradition in the case of Druids and Celtic culture but it did and has occurred. That's why any reconstruction must take into account personal awareness against past and present cultural backgrounds. The third leg of knowledge that should be a part of any reconstruction effort IMO is inquiry. Investigation, imbas and criticism help us to discover and test new ways to see if they would help or hinder our traditions. In most traditions there are actually well defined ways for doing this type of knowledge seeking as well as standards for how any new knowledge should be evaluated.

What has been known in a tradition has stood the tests of time. What can be known should be the upper reaches of a tradition and not its foundations if one seeks to reconstruct. The way to build and advance a tradition or a culture is by holding true to how the culture was established and maintained by itself while avoiding the traps and pitfalls that diminished it in the past. It takes a cultural memory, a cultural awareness and a cultural foresight to have a living breathing culture.


Further, is it common in Recon circles to see the gods as the result of a culture and not infinite beings?

The gods are who they are without us defining them. Cultures call them by many names. People and tribes use the names that are best suited to honoring the gods locally and as groups. Sometimes the gods live among the people within bodies while at other times the gods represent themselves through different forms of being.

The language of a culture is closely akin to its spirit so the names of the gods within a culture are also spiritually engendered and chosen aspects of deity for that culture. These names are cultural truth in that respect.

Searles O'Dubhain

Son of Goddess
November 28th, 2007, 11:19 PM
1. Orthopraxy vs Gnosis. My personal gnosis is extremely important and valuable to me because that is what is cultivated from my relationship with my Gods. I practice as the ancients practiced because the Gods are perfect, in otherwords They are unerring and unchangeable. Because of the Gods' perfection what was acceptable back in the day is by default acceptable now, if it wasn't that would mean the Gods have changed, and if something has changed it does so for the better or worse. If it changes for the better, that means it wasn't perfect to begin with, and if it changes for the worse that means it was already imperfect. A little twist on Sallustius for everyone :)

However, I do think that modern innovation is a good thing. For instance, most domestic Roman rituals require a hearth, but most homes these days do not have fireplaces, and if they do most are fueled by gas. The modern day oven serves the same purpose as the ancient hearth once did. But I think that modern innovation to the point of completely and utterly altering the Traditional methods is not in the spirit of Reconstructionism.

2. What brought you to _______? The Gods of course! :) (I'm a Roman Recon for those who don't know.)

3. Eclecticism. Twinkle said it the best. Shifting paradigms and all that jazz.

4. Are the Gods worthy of respect? But of course. Are the Gods not the ones who created and maintain our very world? Are They not the forces that operate in our lives?

5. Does the culture the Gods come from matter to Them, Does the worship once given to Them matter? It may or it may not, I am not a God and so I cannot answer for the Gods. However, I think if one were to worship Zeus, it would be respectful to approach Him in the manner in which He is accustomed. Doing so shows an amount of respect one has for the deity in question, it shows a particular level of devotion and interest.