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View Full Version : Shortcomings and reconciling reconstruction when it doesn't fit.



HetHert
January 5th, 2010, 03:52 PM
I was just pondering this as an eclectic with a foot in the Egyptian/Kemetic world. For me the path has been a road of self-discovery, student/dedicate, initiate and priestess. Along this road I've come to discover that as much as I want to recreate the Egyptian rituals and work my whiles as a hedge/green witch this doesn't always jive. The seasons for the Egyptians were nothing like we experience seasons on the side of the world I reside. While I can honor most calendar dates and occurrences the fit seems to be skewed since Sothis rising has little to do with announcing an inundation in Texas, as much as I want it to, it just doesn't. Therefore I find it less fulfilling to me to try to adhere to the Kemetic calendar on the whole when the Green witch inside is keenly tied to the seasons and a traditional celtic seasonal observance. Obviously I'm not alone in this as there are several books out there that will help you overlay appropriate rituals and celebrations with the season.

I get torn by the desire to be a reconstructist and the practicality of its application.

Does anyone else encounter this and if so, what do you usually do to reconcile?

*If you feel this thread would be better serviced in another forum please feel free to move it.

David19
January 5th, 2010, 09:43 PM
Well, right now, I don't really define myself as anything, but, I know what you're going through, as, I was a Sumerian recon, but, just felt a pull to other areas, and just felt what I wanted to do wouldn't make me a recon so I left it, and, now, I think I'm just going to see where I end up. I definitely know what it's like to be pulled between 2 different directions, on the one hand, doing things in the traditional manner, on the other, doing what you're heart wants, etc.

I'm not sure if that contributed much to the thread, but, I know what you're going through :).

thepuck
January 6th, 2010, 02:23 PM
The rites of various cultures grew out of their lived experiences. You can't share that lived experience. Thus, for you, those rites are not "true".

Reconstructionists will run into this at every place the modern era and their modern lives conflict with the lives of those whose systems they are attempting to reconstruct.

Personally, I don't see the point. We are, simply by being in time and space and the recipients and participants of culture and history, situated. We cannot, for example, no matter how hard we try, be a 13th century samurai. We can dress like one, try to act like one, and try to force others to treat us like one, but we will never be one because the structures for that possible life are simply not available to us. We are what, when, and where we are; escapism is not religion (unless you think religion is playacting; if so, none of this is any of your concern).

If you want your religion to be "true" for you, it has to relate truthfully to your life as it is, not how you might fantasize about it being thousands of years and thousands of miles distant from you. This applies to the seasons, the implications of language and myth, and the very formulae of the magick itself.

You CAN, however, bring those formula into your modern life. True gods are eternal. But the way of doing this is to understand those gods directly, not by aping the worship of another era. Osiris is here, not some entity of the past or another location. If I were you, I would attempt mysticism with my chosen gods and ask them how they wish me to worship. That is, after all, what the ancients did originally.

*oonagh*
January 15th, 2010, 10:12 AM
We are, simply by being in time and space and the recipients and participants of culture and history, situated. We cannot, for example, no matter how hard we try, be a 13th century samurai. We can dress like one, try to act like one, and try to force others to treat us like one, but we will never be one because the structures for that possible life are simply not available to us. We are what, when, and where we are; escapism is not religion (unless you think religion is playacting; if so, none of this is any of your concern).

If you want your religion to be "true" for you, it has to relate truthfully to your life as it is, not how you might fantasize about it being thousands of years and thousands of miles distant from you. This applies to the seasons, the implications of language and myth, and the very formulae of the magick itself.

You CAN, however, bring those formula into your modern life. True gods are eternal. But the way of doing this is to understand those gods directly, not by aping the worship of another era. Osiris is here, not some entity of the past or another location. If I were you, I would attempt mysticism with my chosen gods and ask them how they wish me to worship. That is, after all, what the ancients did originally.

this.
and...just as a side note...this is true in all aspects of life.

skilly-nilly
January 15th, 2010, 12:03 PM
Along this road I've come to discover that as much as I want to recreate the Egyptian rituals and work my whiles as a hedge/green witch this doesn't always jive. The seasons for the Egyptians were nothing like we experience seasons on the side of the world I reside. ...
Therefore I find it less fulfilling to me to try to adhere to the Kemetic calendar on the whole when the Green witch inside is keenly tied to the seasons and a traditional celtic seasonal observance.

I'm an Irish ReConstructionist and I think you have it backwards (no dishonour intended). IMO, it's not 'how can I most exactly and precisely follow thousands of year old rituals' but 'how can I recreate the world-view that informed those rituals'.

For example, because I live in a much colder climate than Ireland :bundled: I can't celebrate Imbolc as 'the start of Spring'. In reality, I can't celebrate the Vernal Equinox as 'the start of Spring' either, actually :frosty:. So I celebrate the tipping of the year and return of the sun at Imbolc and the Day of Balance at the Equinox because to me being a reconstructionist isn't mindlessly following a ritual but understanding what was celebrated, and celebrating my here-and-now in the same spirit.

I don't know very much about ancient Egyptians, but (at one level) they were people very like us and so what they were celebrating is accessible to your comprehension. Surely they weren't just marking the flood-day but also celebrating the refreshment of the land and the renewed possibility of growing things; something that should chime in very well with Hedge-Witchery. On a different level, belief informs perception. Their beliefs would have made their world-view very different from post-modern technology. Did they think that their Gods sent the flood from love to help them? Do you think that the Gods sent things to you to help you?

I am mildly familiar with the end-of-life feather weighing and the possibility of being eaten by the Crocodile God. To me this is very understandable-- I believe that living one's life honourably is vitally important and so did they. I believe that intent is more important to being a reconstructionist than liturgical correctness.

jmo, ymmv.

Son of Goddess
January 15th, 2010, 09:08 PM
Reconstructionists will run into this at every place the modern era and their modern lives conflict with the lives of those whose systems they are attempting to reconstruct.

Personally, I don't see the point. We are, simply by being in time and space and the recipients and participants of culture and history, situated. We cannot, for example, no matter how hard we try, be a 13th century samurai. We can dress like one, try to act like one, and try to force others to treat us like one, but we will never be one because the structures for that possible life are simply not available to us. We are what, when, and where we are; escapism is not religion (unless you think religion is playacting; if so, none of this is any of your concern).

I certainly disagree and this is where you can tell eclectics don't know much about Reconstructionism. It isn't about dressing like or playing the part; it is NOT re-enactment, and for those who think it is they are complete and utter failures, sorry.

Our world has inherited the culture and societies of those ancient peoples. Egypt may be another story completely, but the ethnic identity and social constructs of the European peoples have not changed drastically in my opinion.

Looking at a traditional Italian family and comparing its Roman predecessor, you will find much of the same ideals and view points. The father is the master of his family, the mother runs the household, the children obey or are punished. That is just a quick example, but you get the point. The attitude towards the divine hasn't changed much either, in fact you'll find a wealth of the familiar practices of the Cultus Deorum in Roman Catholicism. (Which is not the say that Catholics are "pagans", that is a ridiculous statement and completely based in Protestant propaganda.)

Perhaps the issue stems from the fact that too many people get carried away with reconstructing and only focus upon the public and state cults; they're thinking too big. This is the downfall of Nova Roma. There's no need to celebrate the inundation of the Nile, there's no need to hold rites for sowing of the seeds and etc... Why? Are we farmers? Well, I'm not. And think about it, even back then there were hundreds of people who lived in the cities and never stepped foot outside the city walls. Not much has changed really.

What matters is your cult to the Gods, in this instance, the cult of the household. That is where you should start and that is where any reconstructionist should remain until there is a group that can reconstruct those public rituals in a modern context.

On the flip side, just because we don't see the inundation of the Nile does not mean it isn't happening in Egypt. Osiris hails from Egypt, so perhaps one should think less of how this involves me-me-me (ie, the ego) and a little more on how it shows honor and reverence to those whom we worship? Just a thought.

David19
January 16th, 2010, 09:40 PM
I certainly disagree and this is where you can tell eclectics don't know much about Reconstructionism. It isn't about dressing like or playing the part; it is NOT re-enactment, and for those who think it is they are complete and utter failures, sorry.

Our world has inherited the culture and societies of those ancient peoples. Egypt may be another story completely, but the ethnic identity and social constructs of the European peoples have not changed drastically in my opinion.

While I do agree with the majority of your post, and think you made some great points, I'd kind of disagree with this point about European identities and social constructs being similar to the ancient ones. In the ancient world, barring maybe ancient Rome, it was pretty likely most people in a given area were of the same ethnic type, e.g. you were unlikely to find someone from ancient Israel within Britain, or Africans within Ireland, etc. The majority of countries now are multicultural (Ireland is lesser so than Britain and other countries, but, definitely more so than a 1000 years ago), and most people do have more than 1 ethnic group within them, myself included.

So, I'd say modern cultures and ancient are quite different in many ways, it might be different for both Itaty and Hellas/Greece, as I've heard family traditions are very similar to the ancient ways there.

Just wanted to add that.

thepuck
January 17th, 2010, 05:58 AM
I certainly disagree and this is where you can tell eclectics don't know much about Reconstructionism. It isn't about dressing like or playing the part; it is NOT re-enactment, and for those who think it is they are complete and utter failures, sorry.

Our world has inherited the culture and societies of those ancient peoples. Egypt may be another story completely, but the ethnic identity and social constructs of the European peoples have not changed drastically in my opinion.

Looking at a traditional Italian family and comparing its Roman predecessor, you will find much of the same ideals and view points. The father is the master of his family, the mother runs the household, the children obey or are punished. That is just a quick example, but you get the point. The attitude towards the divine hasn't changed much either, in fact you'll find a wealth of the familiar practices of the Cultus Deorum in Roman Catholicism. (Which is not the say that Catholics are "pagans", that is a ridiculous statement and completely based in Protestant propaganda.)

Perhaps the issue stems from the fact that too many people get carried away with reconstructing and only focus upon the public and state cults; they're thinking too big. This is the downfall of Nova Roma. There's no need to celebrate the inundation of the Nile, there's no need to hold rites for sowing of the seeds and etc... Why? Are we farmers? Well, I'm not. And think about it, even back then there were hundreds of people who lived in the cities and never stepped foot outside the city walls. Not much has changed really.

What matters is your cult to the Gods, in this instance, the cult of the household. That is where you should start and that is where any reconstructionist should remain until there is a group that can reconstruct those public rituals in a modern context.

On the flip side, just because we don't see the inundation of the Nile does not mean it isn't happening in Egypt. Osiris hails from Egypt, so perhaps one should think less of how this involves me-me-me (ie, the ego) and a little more on how it shows honor and reverence to those whom we worship? Just a thought.

I think we must have a different understanding of what a "god" is. I think Osiris is an objectively existing metaphysical principle, a "person" who's personhood relates to mine as the shape of a cube relates to that of a square (a difference not just of degree but extensionality). Metaphysical principles of existence don't have addresses. He does not "hail from Egypt". Some instantiations of Osiris's cult existed in Egypt. There is a difference.

However, if you wish to claim that particular gods seem to have "chosen peoples", I can't disagree with that. Thing is, I can only remember one god who actually said so, Yahweh, while other gods were gods of principles of existence (Sky, Sun, Earth, Sea, Love, War, etc). That was one of the reasons the early Christians were looked down on by their pagan contemporaries...their religion made a tribal god into the only god, but kept all the properties of a tribal god, thus forcing people like St. Paul to come along with a little neoplatonism and sweeten the pill, a job finished by St. Augustine at the end of a pen and Emperor Constantine at the end of sword.

Of course, perhaps you think a different sun shines on Egypt than England and a different moon pulls different tides for Peru and China. If so, then our difference of understanding extends to more than metaphysics.

HetHert
January 17th, 2010, 10:31 AM
I think we must have a different understanding of what a "god" is. I think Osiris is an objectively existing metaphysical principle, a "person" who's personhood relates to mine as the shape of a cube relates to that of a square (a difference not just of degree but extensionality). Metaphysical principles of existence don't have addresses. He does not "hail from Egypt". Some instantiations of Osiris's cult existed in Egypt. There is a difference.

However, if you wish to claim that particular gods seem to have "chosen peoples", I can't disagree with that. Thing is, I can only remember one god who actually said so, Yahweh, while other gods were gods of principles of existence (Sky, Sun, Earth, Sea, Love, War, etc). That was one of the reasons the early Christians were looked down on by their pagan contemporaries...their religion made a tribal god into the only god, but kept all the properties of a tribal god, thus forcing people like St. Paul to come along with a little neoplatonism and sweeten the pill, a job finished by St. Augustine at the end of a pen and Emperor Constantine at the end of sword.

Of course, perhaps you think a different sun shines on Egypt than England and a different moon pulls different tides for Peru and China. If so, then our difference of understanding extends to more than metaphysics.

Spot on Puck! The Neters of Egypt are principles and forces of Nature and this is how I have come to know them. For me Egyptian works well with my affinity for honoring that which is Nature without having to extricate each individual God as a being separate from Nature and humanity. It is also, for me, a hermetical understanding as I follow the as above, so below, as within, so without principles of metaphysics. Therefore the Gods/esses are capable of residing as much within as they do without.

Well put Puck!

I want to thank you all for some very wonderful observations and perspectives. All of your words have helped me immensely!

Skilly your words, as always, are invaluable! Thank you for shifting my perspective around. I think I just got stuck on this idea, tunnel vision if you will, and really forgot about honoring the spirit of Sothis.

SonofGoddess thank you for your insights as well, I'm not sure that I completely agree but I think that has to do with the philosophical differences as Puck pointed out. However you did remind me that perhaps I need to take this back to Sothis herself and let her reveal a little more about how her principles can work on my side of the globe.

Thank you Beyond Ashes for sharing your experiences and understanding, it is truly appreciated! Beautiful insights!

David I always value your input! Always! :hugz:

Son of Goddess
January 20th, 2010, 06:07 PM
I think we must have a different understanding of what a "god" is. I think Osiris is an objectively existing metaphysical principle, a "person" who's personhood relates to mine as the shape of a cube relates to that of a square (a difference not just of degree but extensionality). Metaphysical principles of existence don't have addresses. He does not "hail from Egypt". Some instantiations of Osiris's cult existed in Egypt. There is a difference.

However, if you wish to claim that particular gods seem to have "chosen peoples", I can't disagree with that. Thing is, I can only remember one god who actually said so, Yahweh, while other gods were gods of principles of existence (Sky, Sun, Earth, Sea, Love, War, etc). That was one of the reasons the early Christians were looked down on by their pagan contemporaries...their religion made a tribal god into the only god, but kept all the properties of a tribal god, thus forcing people like St. Paul to come along with a little neoplatonism and sweeten the pill, a job finished by St. Augustine at the end of a pen and Emperor Constantine at the end of sword.

Of course, perhaps you think a different sun shines on Egypt than England and a different moon pulls different tides for Peru and China. If so, then our difference of understanding extends to more than metaphysics.

And therein lies the issue then, I don't believe the Gods to be principles, ethereal substances, concepts or archetypes or any other reductive metaphysical New Age idea. I regard the Gods as the ancients did, a race of beings far more divine than ourselves that create and maintain the natural world and order whilst living within it. I also believe in the divinity of a single pantheon that has revealed itself to every culture via that particular culture's means and understandings; thus one sun and one sun deity and one moon and one moon deity.