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Thread: Cherry-Picking Vs. Traditionalism

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Nixie View Post
    There's a lot of debate going on in this thread, but I just want to go over my own opinion and how I personally approach the situation.

    Neither "cherry-picking" or "traditionalism" are bad, both have the potential to be good, bad, fulfilling, disrespectful, etc. Yes, there are eclectics that do not put a lot of thought into what they're doing, but as long as they're not advertising their practices as a great thing to do, I don't think that anybody else needs to worry about them. If they piss off the Gods or f-up, that's essentially their problem, unless they're leading themselves into a dangerous situation where intervention may be considered. We can offer advice and food for thought, but condemning them may make them run the other way. In the end we can only present our ideas to each other, the individual is ultimently going to do what feels right to them. On the other side of the spectrum, some traditionalists feel that their own path is the only "proper" way to go about things, which is something I don't agree with. I've been on a forum where the members essentially flip out if you make any mention of any non-traditional form of Wicca, or of certain people honoring certain deities because that deity comes from a "closed-culture" even if that culture is a part of their heritage but they never truly can because of reasons a b and c. While some of their arguments bring up good points, I think it goes too far sometimes. Neither liberalism or conservatism should be taken into the extremes, in my opinion.

    And then you have responsible eclectics and traditionalists (and each path may contain elements of both). If we're going to criticize anybody, it should be those who go about their path in an irresponsible manner, it shouldn't matter what path that is. The responsibility applies to the individual, to the Gods/forces they're aligning themselves with, and to how they approach other pathways and individuals.

    I would describe myself as being fairly eclectic, but I do not like the term "cherry-picking". Cherry-picking implies that I'm just grabbing whatever looks nice and shoving it down my throat without even thinking about it. "Cherry-picking" sounds like taking what just looks appealing on the surface. I think that eclectics who are responsible and take themselves seriously will do a certain degree of research and self-reflection before pursuing something as their own. I can't say how much or how often, but I don't think we should count "fluffy" as the definition of eclectic, or treat it as such.

    In the past, and still to this day, I have had difficulty with honoring Gods of different pantheons because I do not want to disrespect them. I'm not really a soft polytheist or hard polytheist-rather I'm somewhere in the middle with my own experiences and philosophies. I tend to be very critical and I'm careful of what I do. I have always been drawn to the Gods of many different cultures, and while I feel that it has its limits (at least for me) I have found ways for it to work out. Some Gods are compatible and some aren't. Some Gods don't want me worshiping certain other Gods and some don't care. I don't call different Gods into the same space, I treat them as individuals that deserve respect. I do research and see how I feel, as well as receive permission, before moving forward. It can be challenging, but it certainly is doable. It can, and is very fulfilling. That's just one example. I also think we should respect other cultures and titles that belong to another belief system.

    I have to agree with you on that -- you can do things respectfully or disrespectfully. Not only to the Gods themselves, but to the culture that created the path. One of the big things is that you try to get permission if possible before doing something -- if what you're doing is giving the trads the heebeejeebees, then find another way. If what you're doing isn't the same as what the practicioners of Trad X are doing, then it isn't Trad X.

    I can't really call what I do recon, because although I try to do things in a Roman way, there are some things I just can't do Romanly, so I use other things (praise Iove for ADF). That's why I call my path Religio Romano Revivalismo. It's not traditional, but it is Roman, at least I try to be Roman.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allytria View Post
    I cannot read Cuneiform. That doesn't stop me from working with Mesopotamian deities. I do not claim that my stuff is 3000 years old. I do not claim my Way is the only Way. I *am* interested in reading anthropology to find out how they used to do it, so I can modify what I do, but I am not a reconstructionist. My Way is only correct for *me*. I also don't claim to be of a Religion I am not practicing.
    This is how I view my path. I can't claim how old my tradition or path is, I work with Polish traditions and deities. I learned much from my grandparents who actually came from the old country, and my Mother. My Mom and I actually made modifications on many things, but yet we kept the core there.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaosxmage View Post
    It's very difficult to "cherry pick" any religious thought when their is a 1,000 year black hole between you and your ancient brethren.

    With the right philosophical approach, I'm sure paths of modern Paganism can be more clearly defined. Asatru's Nine Noble Virtues area good example. Cherry Picking ideas aside, I can look to the Nine Noble Virtues and identify people on the Northern Path. How they approach their Gods, hold rituals, celebrate holidays, or what tools rest on their altar is their business.--Kaos
    You could on one hand say that I have taken from the Norse or Asatru traditions, but if you were to study what some of my old Polish ancestors did you would say that they did. They worshiped in circles and groves but throughout their history they did blots and sumbels, they have a slightly different world tree, they worked with runes. You can see how their religious beliefs evolved, but at the same time there are no records, at the most you have to go through their Christian festivals with a fine tooth comb and cross your fingers that you can pull out the pagan elements, but of course you are also missing other elements that have been dropped, you have to fill it in yourself from what you have learned or read somewhere that you feel fits. Cherry-picking.. I don't like that term. I am not a re-constructionist, I am not trying to reconstruct my ancestors religion, that's not feasible, times have changed, so did their religion over the centuries. What I do have is elements that my family followed their old traditions and I hold onto those and have built from there, hopefully with respect and honor to the old ones.

  3. #103
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    I personally use what calls to me and my own filter.. I believe we are each set along our own paths for a reason.. if one particular path calls to you in exclusion of all others thats wonderful. I myself am what I like to Call Eclectic pagan
    I consider myself a Witch amongst other things and I practice what my heart and my deities/guardians help me to discover..every person thinks and feels differantly.
    And as such a beleif system created by a specific person is only naturally going to fit them better than one created by another.

    but thats just my two cents

  4. #104
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    "Conversely, does holding onto the traditions from maybe thousands of years in the past keep us from moving forward? Should we take what we like, what is of use, and discard the rest?"

    Yes, yes it does, and yes, yes we should.

    Religion changes slower than society and in the end holds it back. Tradition keeps people locked into old mentalities. Some of these notions get so firmly held by generations that the inhabitants of that time period actually have to die off before new ideas can take place, and that reason is because of fiercely held traditions, often held in place by the iron hand of religious momentum.

    We didn't even speak the same LANGUAGE 1000 years ago. Ever tried to read the Beowulf in the original Old English? If we were holding to the same societal standards there would be a few issues. Tradition is a very pretty notion, but ultimately one that is not sustainable. The same people who created the Norse Gods also had a penchant for slavery, human sacrifice, warfare and the occasional rape and pillage session. The Celts created a beautiful mythology and also like to terrorize the Romans and keep the heads of the defeated generals in boxes for display.

    People like tradition because it gives them something other than themselves to rely on, and that is a very powerful evolved instinct from the time our species were packs of our tribal ancestors. It is human nature to want to wrap ourselves in something bigger than ourselves, whether it is gods, nature, leaders, or tradition.

    The beauty of Paganism is that traditions don't need to apply. The mentality that we need to keep in line with a guy who died 60 years ago now, who died a drug addict and seen as a loon from the outside, during a time when women were still objects and black people weren't allowed on tv, is a disgrace to everything society has accomplished and wants to accomplish in the neverending march of time and progress.

    "Humanity. They follow leaders -- queens or kings, chiefs or emperors. We tell them what to do, and they do it. We know no more than they than they, but still they follow us, blindly as people lost in the catacombs would follow a child carrying a flaming torch" - Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, "August"

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlassMinotaur View Post
    "Conversely, does holding onto the traditions from maybe thousands of years in the past keep us from moving forward? Should we take what we like, what is of use, and discard the rest?"

    Yes, yes it does, and yes, yes we should.
    Agree as well. Refusing to evolve and adapt from the mistakes humanity has made in the past is a dangerous, disturbing notion.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benvarry View Post
    Agree as well. Refusing to evolve and adapt from the mistakes humanity has made in the past is a dangerous, disturbing notion.
    Well, true BUT adapting has its limits. I can't suddenly make Lilitu a feminist goddess becuase she isn't a goddess, and she's pretty dark. Lilitu is what Lilitu is. Kali isn't warm and fluffy, and I don't think attempts to make gods bend to what you want them to be is respectful. It seems like trying to turn your mom into a diva when she's a southern belle. It won't work and you'll both be miserable. On the other hand, it's perfectly reasonable to make the god of wine accept Vodka and Beer as his perview.

  7. #107
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    I think it's fine to practice whatever works for you. The problem comes when one claims that the changes are in line with tradition.

    Quote Originally Posted by malkookoo View Post
    Is it Wrong to stray from specified guidlines within a path?
    Will doing so tarnish a given practice? Will doing so show disrespect to those that have "done the work"?
    Should we adhere to the rules?

    Conversely, does holding onto the traditions from maybe thousands of years in the past keep us from moving forward? Should we take what we like, what is of use, and discard the rest?




    Personally, I take freedom of religion to mean just that. What was pertinent decades, and centuries, and millenia ago may not be as applicable today, it may not Reconnect us the way that religion is supposed to.

    I also think that much of the "Old Guard" enjoys their relative authority and don't want to see it taken from them. Then there are those that are comforted by structure and routine.

    But that is IMO....

    What's your's?
    Αλεξανδρα Δοροθια βωνδ
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    I begin to sing of Pallas Athene, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, saviour of cities, courageous, Tritogeneia. From his awful head wise Zeus himself bare her arrayed in warlike arms of flashing gold, and awe seized all the gods as they gazed. But Athena sprang quickly from the immortal head and stood before Zeus who holds the aegis, shaking a sharp spear: great Olympus began to reel horribly at the might of the bright-eyed goddess, and earth round about cried fearfully, and the sea was moved and tossed with dark waves, while foam burst forth suddenly: the bright Son of Hyperion stopped his swift-footed horses a long while, until the maiden Pallas Athene had stripped the heavenly armour from her immortal shoulders. And wise Zeus was glad. And so hail to you, daughter of Zeus who holds the aegis!
    - THE HOMERIC HYMNS - XXVIII. TO ATHENA

  8. #108
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    Smile

    As for my own two cents, I couldn't agree more with GlassMinotaur. It seems the religion tends to evolve with humanity... not vice versa. I don't think the deity Yahweh is offended that his followers no longer fry bulls/people in his name, even though his scriptures say it very clearly that he adores the "pleasant smell" of the aroma to that. No, it seems he has now evolved into a more forgiving and understanding deity. But these are just my own musings... I'm sure others might disagree.

    I'm sure people who stick to the traditions formulate a special bond with their deity, and vice versa. But I see them both as a 50/50 advantage with totally unique experiences/gains. For me, I couldn't go traditional when it's basically a filtered version of more primitive men who had very limited views/understanding of humanity and even their genders/races. If I wish to honor a deity who, by older tradition, believed men should act like mindless brutes... but my best friend is a poet (and a male) I would hope that deity is evolved enough to not take offense to my friend honoring her/him. Strange, eh? It's sort've like the topic of whether or not homosexuals are allowed to be Christian. Lol either the deity does not like it, or he does. Yet the problem remains in that humanity is too diverse to truly reflect a "one and only way," to connect with a deity. Perhaps those are the pros/cons to traditional/non.

    Doesn't help that "tradition" can be what eclectics are doing now in about 3,000 years.

  9. #109
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    I know I'm jumping in a bit late, but I sometimes get static for this as an Eclectic.

    I feel no inherent discomfort in blending different ideas from different belief paths. The way I see it is my soul has already been through the world however many times and the variety is a way for the soul to learn about new things it hasn't experienced before.
    "There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses one still gets wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will get the same soaking. This understanding extends to all things."

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