Growing Up: The Maturation of Reconstructionism

I was inspired to write this blog by my dear friend and his most recent publication: http://coloradocelt.wordpress.com/

In it he brought up some very real issues that face the Reconstructionist community. Being a Heathen, I felt I would post my own ramblings on the subject at hand: the maturation and growth of Reconstructionism in general, and specifically Heathenism, as this is my area of expertise.

 

In the Recon community, there seems to be a doctrinal vehemence against Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis (UPG). Many within our communities look askance at the spiritual insights gifted to devotees as frivilous and vain self-aggrandizement. All I can say in regards to this disturbing trend is: STOP!

We cannot think to grow as a religion and spirituality if we stifle our seers, prophets and volvae! We must dig our roots deep in the lore, but realize that for our sapling religion to grow it must reach it’s branches towards the Heavens (and subsequently, the Gods).  UPG is a powerful and life sustaining gift, it is the water of the spirit realm, and without it we would surely shrivel and fade away.

 

I understand why this stigma was attached to UPG. In the days of neopagan infancy, there was a plague of charlatans, the spiritual marketplace was rife with con-artists selling High Priesthood for a buck and a blowjob. Thus Reconstructionism came about to address a community of spiritual seekers who wanted more than “channeled messages from Seth” and revisionist history lessons. Many found the conservative, scholarly approach to the Pagan revival a breath of fresh air. Many who founded this new movement had been hurt and damaged by the irresponsible teachings and internal politics of infant “witchdom”, and unfortunately passed these traumas onto the next generation in the form of dogmatism and rigid interpretations of the Lore. What began as a solution to one problem became  another. This post hopes to begin the dialogue required to reverse the damage done.

 

Many in the Reconstructionist communities have fled their overbearing Lore-thumping mentality, hoping to find solace in the arms of another tradition or spiritual pathway. Some of these refugees found the succor they sought, others discovered only more disappointment and atop this – lies and empty fantasy. Those who found no peace in the myriad “revealed”, “channeled” and “eclectic” traditions were doomed to wander the foggy roads of dismay and confusion, unable to believe the New Age psychobabble most NeoPagan groups are fond of, and unable to return to Reconstructionism for fear of being mocked for their visions.

 

Either way, our religion lost these bright stars. In the ancient times, those gifted with the Caul or Sight were honored, sent to be trained by the mystery schools and hailed as great intermediaries upon their return. Why then should we thin our ranks and weaken our spirituality by scorning the gifts of the Gods?

 

I am aware, that the Human mind is often vulnerable to fantasy, and am not suggesting that we Recons throw all our hard-won research away and embrace flights of fancy as truth. I am however saying that we must achieve a balance between the two extremes.

 

Our roots are the Lore, History and Folktale and we should never forget the lessons our ancestors teach, whispering through the dust-laden halls of time and tradition. However this does not mean that we cannot listen to our peers, elders and younglings. With discernment and wisdom we can continue to thrive, and our religion can live. Our Gods are not dead, they are not interred in the graves the Christian Church sought to dig for them. Nay, they thrive and prosper! They languish in our bones, sing in our blood and beat in our hearts! They are speaking to us all the time, in the soft whisper of an autumn wind, or the budding of the first flower in spring. Thor’s mighty hammer still flashes above us in the Heavens, and the Jotuns still quake at the sound of his thundering chariot! Shame on those who persecute they who would merely heed the call of their Elder Gods! Let not avarice or envy color our perceptions of these gifted siblings, but rather let us rejoice in the affirmation of our folkway and seek deeper communion with our Shining Ones.

 

So long as we utilize Wisdom and discernment, always being informed and edified by the Lore, we have nothing to lose in fostering the gifts of the Gods.

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4 Responses to “Growing Up: The Maturation of Reconstructionism”

  1. Bjorn,

    I agree with everything here. I think there is only one other thing I would add to this. We must remember that in both Asatrú and Celtic Reconstructionism we both come from American culture and all of the perspectives it gives and takes. There are many modern day Gaelic speakers who really see the entire Celtic pagan revival as cultural rape. In the same way that Native Americans get really tired of white “Shamans” coming along and professing to teach the “Way of the White Bear” or some other such nonsense.

    Now I will never, no matter how long I study or live a Celtic inspired life, ever claim to know more about the Celtic worldview than a native Gaelic speaker from the Highlands regardless of his Christian outlook. In the end I am a Coloradoan and an American.

    Ancestral work, for me, is where this begins. I think that there is a tremendous idealization of or Ancestors in a lot of CR. Recons tend to skip over all there Christian ancestors in favor of pagan ones of long ago. The folly in this is that so much of who we are (our weaknesses, habits, speech patterns, gifts, interests) is bound to the lives *all* of our ancestors lived. Even the alcoholic Christian ones! 😉

    You make an excellent point about the need for Recon traditions to stop harping on the more mantic insights of many of it’s members. This is, as you say a tough line to walk between outright fantasy and rigid dogmatism.

    I am left with the question: What exactly is CR trying to accomplish? Preserving Celtic culture? Why? What human needs is it going to start addressing rather than endlessly debating recent archaeological discoveries, and manuscript translations? When is it going to start developing a theology or outlook that inspires people who are *not* interested (initially anyway) in Celtic culture.

    Great post man.

  2. nakedwoadwarrior Says:

    “…What exactly is CR trying to accomplish?”
    I can’t speak for CR, as I am very new to it, but I can approach this from a Heathen perspective and attempt to generalize it from there. In Heathenism, the goal is to reintegrate ourselves into the ancestral Deep Mind, to reconnect ourselves to the Tribal Consciousness, and thus, our Gods. In Heathenism it is believed that the Gods are our original ancestors, that they literally seeded primordial man in a series of trysts, thus becoming mythological Fathers and Mothers of our Teutonic Tribes, so returning to the Old Ways is in a way, reunion with Spirit.

    I find Animism and Polytheism to be a supremely engaging belief system. What it offers the world is manifold. To list a few, but certainly not all of them – as I see them:

    1) Heathenism calls to the blood and bones of those of Northern and Western European descent, it offers a re-orientation in the world from a nihilistic / (insert foreign philosophy here) outlook to a life-affirming worldview where there *is* something to fight for, there is a raison d’etre, and no matter how bad things get, there is the pride that comes from a firm belief in divine ancestry.

    2) Animism encourages environmentalism and responsible consumerism. When everything in life, all matter, has a spirit, a daemon, or wight, it encourages those who believe to think twice before sullying a stream with a coke bottle, or tossing the cigarette butt on the ground. It also encourages people to fight for sustainable farming, for protection of old growth forests, and preservation of wildlife. Animism takes the environmental cause and gives it a new focus. We aren’t campaigning for protection of “another dumb animal”, we are campaigning for the protection of a sentient, incarnate spirit.

    3) Polytheism encourages respect and diversity. Polytheism – the belief in many Gods, can be philosophically extrapolated to encompass the belief in all Gods. That is what I believe. I believe that all Gods exist and are real. These Gods need their people’s adoration and care just as much as the people need the Gods succor. If one believes in this manner, then to hate or perpetuate violence against an ethnicity is to do so to their Gods. It engenders true respect, without the tedious habit many New Agers have of appropriating those “respected” culture’s folkways piecemeal. Polytheism engenders a holistic worldview, that religions aren’t swap-meets or all-you-can-eat buffets, but rather self-contained spiritual eco-systems where each part and parcel is essential to the wellbeing of the entire system. This view also encourages more pride in one’s own tradition, and discourages envy of other culture’s ways.

    I think that where CR, Heathenism, Hellenic Recon, Khemetic Orthodoxy etc. becomes relevant to today is in it’s tribal consciousness. Human beings are, first and foremost, Tribal in nature. Regardless of how de-segregated we become, how pluralistic our cities are, we still seek out those who we identify with. Whether this be by common heritage, common sports team affiliation or musical scene/genre, we will seek out those who understand us and share our passions. As a general rule, people drawn to Paganism tend to become dissatisfied with the sweet “cotton-candy” teachings of the New Age movement, they will eventually become dissatisfied with the random appropriation seen in eclectic Wicca. Then they will begin looking for something more “traditional”, and they find Recon. What group they choose to affiliate with depends on a lot of factors, but being a firm believer in metagenetics, I believe that most lean towards the traditions of their ancestors. The Recon communities offer that sense of homecoming to the new “re-converts” that they have always been seeking. It should be Recons’ duty to not let those starry-eyed newbies down, we shouldn’t scare them away with rigid dogmatism or over-intellectualizing. They need to be eased into traditional thought, and to see that there is no ceiling, no moderator telling them how high they can fly with the Gods.

    I myself don’t believe in preaching on street corners, but I do think that Recons need to get off their butts, put down the feis beer or drinking horn (lol, guilty as charged) and get out into society, start doing some good for it instead of critiquing it from the sidelines. We need to be out there, cleaning the public parks, serving at the soup kitchens, volunteering for Salvation Army. All the while we need to be physically representing our religion with t-shirts, jewelry, and perhaps one day, tribal banners. People need to know who it is that is making their community better, who it is that cares about the old growth forest being cut down in Oregon.

    These are my opinions on where CR, Heathenism, and other Recon faiths should be going and what our relevance is to society in 21st Century America.

  3. Great post, Bjorn, and great follow-up.

  4. […] Growing Up: The Maturation of Reconstructionism Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post This entry was posted in Essays. Bookmark the permalink. ← Colorado Gives Day […]

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