How do you Reconstruct?

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by sword and silver, Sep 13, 2004.

  1. Erynn

    Erynn Professional Madwoman

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    I don't know what culture you're referring to, but it certainly isn't one I live in. People who want plain coffee order black coffee all the time, though usually they order coffee with cream or with milk or with creamer, to specify which they want. There are definite differences in taste and texture.

    Though, around here, they use latte-speak most of the time because your average person isn't into plain coffee (Americano, brewed, or drip) at all. We talk about grandes and mochas and double-shots and things like that. Plain coffee is generally seen as the last resport of the desperate.

    Me, I take tea. With cream. Though sometimes I take it black.
     
  2. Erynn

    Erynn Professional Madwoman

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    So it would seem. Can't say that I see my spiritual practices as "posturing," as Mat calls it, though.
     
  3. Erynn

    Erynn Professional Madwoman

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    Sure, any way you like.

    Let's call the column "Singer of Tales" -- it connects a lot of things for me. I can talk about them here and there in the column as time goes by. I'll get something for the first one to you very soon.
     
  4. WHKeith

    WHKeith New Member

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    This is an interesting concept . . . picking up spiritual connections from ancestors.

    Some cultures do hold to this notion closely. Many Celtic groups, I believe, felt that members of the tribe were reborn to that same tribe, and the same is true for some Native Americans. In fact, I think this is pretty common world-wide among more tribally-oriented cultures. Might this represent the idea of culturally-oriented incarnations, or might it simply reflect those tribes’ relatively narrow worldview, or even of their “them or us” mindset?

    I know the discussion is centered on the idea of being drawn to a particular cultural worldview because of a blood relationship with that group. Allow me to expand the idea a wee bit to incorporate a concept accepted by many pagans—that of reincarnation.

    Some purely subjective evidence might be found in past-life memories. Since we have no objective way of proving their reality, they don’t count as formal argument. Still, for me they are highly suggestive.

    I’ve mentioned before on this board my work with past-life memories. Several of my own recovered memories are centered around Native American past lives, which fits, I suppose, since I have Native American blood. However, my strongest and most objectively verifiable memories [i.e. aspects of those memories were verified historically by independent means later] are of a Lene Lenape medicine man [known to whites as the Delaware] from the 18th century, while my blood descent is from the Choctaw. Different tribe, different religion, different origins, and somewhat different ethnic morphology. The first past life memories I ever recovered—I have NOT been able to verify these objectively—were of life as a 16th-century samurai in Japan. I have no Asian blood of which I’m aware.

    My first Wiccan experiences were with an eclectic mix that included Celtic gods and goddesses, most of whom I'd never heard of, with occasional visitors from other pantheons. I was interested in Scottish/Gaelic culture because of my Scots family background, but had never been particularly drawn to the Celtic mythos. Later, I explored Celtic beliefs fairly deeply; some I resonate with, with some I do not. I connect VERY strongly with some Native American practices, but do not worship or conduct ritual in that venue because, for Native Americans, there ARE spiritual laws about blood and the right to conduct ceremonies, and I choose to respect those boundaries. I also connect strongly with some ancient Egyptian belief, but have no known Egyptian blood ties. I'm actually fairly comfortable with a variety of mythologies . . . but probably most so with generic Celtic because that was the primary basis of my initial training as a witch.

    My ex-wife is thoroughly English/Scottish WASP, but she has long had VERY strong connections with African tribal dance and religion, and though she has no recovered memories, she believes she was black in several previous lives, and resonates strongly with certain African art and musical motifs.

    As I say, no proof, but suggestive.

    I’ve shared with this group before my interest in the Journey of Souls/Destiny of Souls books by a therapist who used hypnotic regression to get information from the between-life period, as opposed to regression to past lives. Again, hypnotic evidence cannot be considered definitive and its validity is questioned by many; still, the suggestion is that we are incarnated as part of a “soul group,” repeating lives with other closely linked souls who are our family, spouse, and acquaintances. If so, it makes sense that many lives may be spent as part of a single tribe, clan, or ethnic group over a period of time, since the incarnate lives of each soul would imperfectly overlap with those of the others in the group. But I don’t think this is a hard and fast rule. And some souls do appear to “freelance,” operating more or less alone.

    I think all any of this does is raise a further question. If we feel drawn to a particular worldview or mythos, is that because:

    1. We have a biological blood-tie with that group?

    2. We already have a romantic or intellectual interest in that culture? Perhaps it's a purely intellectual interest engendered by stories or cultural environment from childhood, or we're captivated early on by the romance of the ancient Celts, the Highland Scots, the ancient Egyptians, or someone else.

    3. Or we experienced a past life as a member of that group, and so feel drawn to or comfortable with those gods and cultural motifs?

    Put it another way: Long before I became interested in reincarnation, I wrote a book with a strong Japanese cultural background. Was my interest in feudal Japan due to the fact that I'd lived there and then? Or did my intellectual interest in ancient Japan come first and fuel my belief in reincarnation? Or do I have secret Asian blood?

    Of these three possibilities, number 2 would be most acceptable from a strictly psychological viewpoint. Number 3 seems viable to me based on my personal experience. Number 1 is certainly popular with groups that believe in reincarnation and hold that rebirth can or often or always occurs within a particular clan, tribe, or nation.

    For the record, I do not believe anyone here is charging anyone else with racism. I dislike the idiocies of “political correctness” and usually laugh at them. [I gather that there was a move afoot in Canada a few years back that would have prohibited, by law, a writer from writing from the viewpoint of any ethnic group or gender not his own in order to avoid offending anyone. As a professional writer, I find this absurd and insulting. I sincerely hope the story is apocryphal!]

    At the same time, our current scientific thinking about variations within the human genome is slowly but finally clawing its way out of the straitjacket imposed by 19th-century views on the subject of race, which in most popular venues are still dominated by the old Victorian four-races-of-mankind silliness. [Or is it five? They never did know what to do with the !kung!] Speaking for myself, I prefer to believe there is one race—the human race—of which I am a member, possessing an extraordinary and wonderful morphological and cultural diversity. This is in my view neither racist nor politically correct, but seems best to reflect what we currently understand about both biology and ethnicity.

    Of course, scientific worldviews come and go out of fashion just as do other human concepts. Who knows what will be popular a century from now?

    Peace!

    --Bill
     
  5. MatTheCat

    MatTheCat New Member

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    Yeah Brian, you are right about the Jungian thinking. However, I thought this way long before I ever read anything that discussed the theorising of Carl Jung. Like I have mentioned before, I tend to look towards books to back up my own personal ideas and experiences. Which brings me back to the orignal theme of this thread that i interpreted as being the 'validity of reconstructionism'.

    Focusing on the role of deities in neo-pagan practices, I will firstly state that I believe that deity figures are mans way of building arms and legs onto certain phenomena in order that our minds can understand and communicate with such phenomena. I can personally vouch to have had many 'deity' experiences. These experiences can fall into two broad categories:

    1) Deity encounters that come from within ones self. For example, when I was 20 years old, I dropped an LSD tab at around midnight on March 20th-21st. I then proceeded to have a 'deity encounter' which markedly altered my mental posturing, hence altering the way that I behaved. I visualised this particular deity figure that had seeped through my subconscious, as alternating between a stag god and a ram god. From later reading, I have found that my experience falls pretty much into line with the Celtic 'Cernunnos' deity. (Although this god did not announce himself to me as being called 'Cernunnos'). This is an example of what Jung would term as being an 'archetypal image'. Now, how likely would it be for someone of say overwhelmingly West African descent to have such a deity experience visualising the heads of beasts that are not native to their homelands? Therefore, I believe this first catgory of possible deity experience depends greatly on an individuals genetic inheritance.

    2) Deity encounters that are specific to the area of land that an individual is standing upon. To keep this short and simple, I will just state that if a modern day sentient neo-pagan is paying homage to a particular sacred site where the ancients once worshipped a giant silver haired bear like yeti being, then along with feeling the same energy as the ancients experienced, the chances are that the modern day pagan will also visualise a deity image very similar to that visualised by the ancients!


    Of course, many people would claim that a third viable category of deity experience would be deity encounters through pagan 'reconstructionism'. My point of view is that pagan reconstructionism is just as viable a spiritual path as say Islam or Catholicism. But then again, I view both these mainstream religions as a form of 'book idolism' and although there are many variations in the ways their respective relgious doctrines are interpreted, ultimately both these institutionalised faiths exert a social and mental control that simply cannot be conducive to good spiritual health. I recognise that an essential difference with Pagan Reconstructionism is that practitioners can develop a set of practices that reflects thier own individual needs. Indeed, as W H Keith has mentioned in one of his many excellent posts:

    " I believe the answer there is that people who embrace a deliberately reconstructed religion do so looking for what I think of as “handles” to help them grab hold of and manipulate their own deep unconscious, the seat of magic, of our perception of reality, and of our understanding of who and what we are. My Celto-Roman friends know they are not exactly recreating genuine 1st-century practice, but it gives them a useful gateway into the depths of their own souls." (WH Keith) pos

    Just as WH Keith has stated, although reconstructionism may provide people with such spiritual handles, I do not believe this is the same thing as a 'real' deity experience. Ultimately, when reconstructionists enter their own 'deep unconscious, the seat of magic', they will be entering the realm of their own particular inherited ancestral spiritual heritage!

    As an off shoot to this post, I am going to post a thread based on my ideas about reincarnation which I typed up for another web-forum not too long ago.

    The final thing I wish to say relating to genetic inheritance influencing a group of peoples spirituality is this:

    Why is it that although the Maltese are devout Catholics, their society and attitudes are very similar to that of an Islamic society and why is it that although the Croatians are Muslim, their attitudes and society is much more like a Christian society? Could the fact that the Maltese are essentially Arabic in ethnicity and the Croats are essentially Serbs or Slavonic in ethnicity have anything to do with the matter.


     
  6. Erynn

    Erynn Professional Madwoman

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    So am I to understand that unless we believe we are experiencing a Jungian archetype of the collective unconscious built into our ancestry, or having a powerful experience with a specific land spirit, we are not having "real" deity experiences?

    I beg to differ. I believe that deity exists outside of ourselves -- that it isn't just our imagination speaking, clothed in anthropopmorphic form. I believe that deities are powerful enough to manifest to whomever, wherever they choose. I believe that deities are powerful enough to contact anyone they choose, regardless of the color of their skin or the place in which they originated.

    My ex was well acquainted with a Native Pima woman. She was enrolled with the tribe, but she felt an extreme pull to Irish deities. Her native spiritual path didn't sing to her at all. He describes her having quite a shouting fit one day, that ended with her waving her arms and shouting that she was really an Irish Celt, dammit -- it didn't matter what she looked like on the outside. Is her experience false? Is she lying or deluded?

    I believe she was just experiencing a great deal of frustration about people denying that her experience could be real and valid, because she wasn't the right color.

    Why is it that so many people choose to define experiences outside of their own as impossible or not real?
     
  7. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    We had ourselves a real die-hard neo-Nazi here a while back and his arguments were entirely different - I figured from the start you were talking in Jungian terms. Hence why it seemed worth blatantly stating so, to prevent mis-understanding. :)
     
  8. Erynn

    Erynn Professional Madwoman

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    A word from Herman Hesse, in his novel Demian:

    This is a voice with soul, and with wisdom.
     
  9. Lady_Selune

    Lady_Selune New Member

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    I tend to agree with you here. It think what you are seeing is the same thing that we see in a lot of religions, they all seem to have some characteristics that are shared but that does by no means make them the same.

    hmm, well I have to disagree with you here. My ancestors did not have any trouble lumping all light skin people together as "whites" well before the Civil War. Now I do agree with that that from the lighter skin view point there was no concept of a white race.
     
  10. Lady_Selune

    Lady_Selune New Member

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    Perhaps I can be of some help here (hehe ok, so perhaps I will add my two cents worth and confuse things further).

    I am what is referred to as Native America by outsiders and as one of the People from the inside. I am not a pure blood, one of my grandmothers is German. Although almost everyone in the family is christian, my father's father is not, he was shaman. I followed in his footsteps and became shaman. My grandfather passed a great deal of knowledge to me beofre he died, however, there is a break in that knowledge.

    The break occurred when our poeple were all but compeletely wiped out. Those that remained were herded onto small plots of land and forbidden to speak thier native tongue and or to practice any religious beleifs other then the one handed to them by the missionaries. The penalty for breaking the rules was death period. What this means is that a great deal of knowledge was lost. Some survived as is the way of knowledge. But for those of us that seek to find that knowledge now it is all but forgotten, dead with those that held it.

    As has been pointed out, different tribes had different beleif systems. I have yet to find even one book that even pretends to offer up anything on my tribes language (which I still remember vaguely from my grandfather's teaching) or beleif systems. What I have found is this, when I practice those things that my grandfather taught me other things come to me as well. Is this racial memory? I don't think so, I see it as more or less common sense. Other knowledge I find by seeking the knowledge of others like me, yes we do compare notes from time to time, although there is only a handful of us spread across the US. We are all very happy for the advent of the internet.:D

    My point is this, race is nice is this instants, I am sure it opened many doors for me that I would not have otherwise had opened. But I do not believe that I follow this path because of my race, I follow it in spite of my race. I seek to reconstruct that which once was to fill me with understanding, not because those practices are needed today. Most certainly many of them were land me in jail.

    True reconstruction of any religion is hard to do, but hey, if a book can set your feet on a path that you fell good about taking, then by all means take the path. Besides, does it truly matter if the religion is as pure as it once was? What matters is if the religion is serving the purpose that all religion should serve.
     
  11. sword and silver

    sword and silver Courage, Wisdom, Love

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    Thanks, everyone, for your input, ideas, and information. I've been curious about the pagan paths for a long time because I don't fit well with Christianity and have found the pagan philosophies fit better with my world perspective than others.

    Still, it seems the whole matter is a bit more complex than I'd expected. It's unfortunate so much spiritual information has been lost from the past.

    I see alot of debate over spiritual paths that stem from books, and from pure experience, and discussions on the purity of a path as well as some interesting comments on Jungian archetypes. I didn't realize when I'd started this that there was so much room for argument and debate. I see now that the matter is more complicated than just historical perspective and broken lines of tradition. It almost seems to me that a better question might be "what qualifies as reconstruction?" rather than "how do you reconstruct?". I'm also surprised to see so much debate over whether or not reconstruction is a valid tradition or not. Add to that, I'm still not entirely certain how race got involved in this question, and just for the record the "pure racial origin" comment wasn't aimed at anyone in particular.

    I really appreciate everyone's thoughts on this subject.
     
  12. Guenthecat

    Guenthecat New Member

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    Hi folks. I just wanted to put my two cents in on the original question. How do we reconstruct? And I'll speak on that subject in the terms of Why I chose to reconstruct.

    I was raised on a farm on the border of Texas and Arkansas. My father was a farmer and a youth minister for my local Church of Christ church. I was raised with a very strong Church of Christ background. I was also raised to revere the earth and that everything we need can come from the earth if we know how to treat it. Little did my dad know, he was instilling in me what I believe to be the basics in pagan spirituality. As soon as I was able to think for myself - which was something my dad Always encouraged - I found that Christianity didn't have the answers to my spiritual questions. It didn't make sense to me much in the same way as Math doesn't make any sense to me. But what DID make sense to me was what I believed to be a simple thought process of the pagans of old. I didn't find it in a book. It just came naturally-from the earth. I simply understood Why pre-christians would have believed in the many spiritual entities that they did. I understood the simple (although civilized) culture of the time. For years I have been looking for someone out there to help me put my thoughts into the right order so I could make sense out of it other than just Knowing what I feel. I am very new to Celtic Reconstructionism so I can't even begin to portray myself as having even half of the answers. But what Celtic Reconstructionism has done for me is to give me a structure in studying the culture that I identify with. The spirituality/practice that I am building is not something that I am following from a book. It is something that I have been devising in my head for a long time with no direction. The history and research is only to clarify and give purpose - not meaning.

    Although I think it improper to categorize everyone following one belief system under one big umbrella, it was mentioned in an earlier post that wiccans follow books as Christians do and therefore it is just as bad. I can't completely disagree with that as I have met a LOT of wiccans who read Scott Cunningham and SIlver Ravenwolf as if they were the lost prophets of the "old religion." Although not everyone does this, it is why I didn't last very long in the practice of wicca as well as the outright anger I found in many of the wiccans turning away from Christianity. Reconstructionism, while following books for research, allows for questioning. It encourages new theories and discussion. It supports comparison with other religions and cultures. It allows itself to evolve with the culture of now knowing full well that cultures do change and meld and Must do so to stay alive. It is the practice of history being re-incarnated until it has gotten things right.

    As far as how? I have been directed to several reading lists to get me started in my research. I have also been advised to keep in touch with the various forums to find other gems of converstaion/information. What I have found in doing this, is that eventhough it feels as though I am just studying history and not the spirituality, it is the culture and the war and the language and the education that drives the spirituality of the times. So just reading a "how to" book really isn't going to give you the essence of the spirituality of the people. And that's really what Reconstructionism is about. Connecting with a spirituality and culture and embracing it as much as our current culture will allow.

    Anyways, that 's my random little tidbit. I didn't really want to get involved in some of the other topics as I'm still new to the path and study.

    Guen ~:)
     
  13. Guenthecat

    Guenthecat New Member

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    Oh! And I forgot to post my thoughts on Re-incarnation as it relates to our spiritual beliefs.

    I personally believe that we are born and re-born with similar basic spiritual beliefs. That's the only way I can explain that I'm the only person in my family of 3 sisters raised in the same manner on the farm that has left Christianity. I believe I was born with a tie to the earth. And I also believe that everytime I am re-born I come into a better understanding of what my spirituality is. The rest I have not come to an understanding on yet so I can't comment any further.

    Guen ~:)
     
  14. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Hi Guenthecat, and welcome to CR. :)
     
  15. Guard

    Guard New Member

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  16. Hustle Kong

    Hustle Kong New Member

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    "It is not racism Erynn, it is realism."

    Isn't this close to Lamarckian-ism? (spelling?)

    To suggest that specific FORMS of spirituality (rather than just the propensity to spiritual behavior, or perhaps maybe suseptibility to certain qualities in a religious belief) seems to me to fly in the face of what we know about genetics.

    And though I am fascinated by reconstructionalism, I also have trouble imagining the ability to do it with sincerity. Reading you guys' posts is a great help with that.
     
  17. gwenwifar23

    gwenwifar23 Mistress of Light & Love

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    The religion of the teutons has never been death. When king Harold of Norway turned Norway into christianity, a great number of teutons migrated to Iceland. Christians tried to remove the teutons from Iceland, but failed. Arround 1.000 AD Iceland was at the brink of a civil-war, but people came to their senses. Christians and teutons made a pact. It was stated, that no one would force another person to some faith. Everyone had the right to believe whatever he of she wanted and to follow any religion they desired.

    When the witch-hunts in europe exploded into a nightmare, there was no religious persecution on Iceland. In all history only one person was hanged for witchcraft. Not because she was a witch (there were many) but because she was believed to be evil.

    According to roman-christian law: A man owns anything on his land: wife(s), children, servants, animals, ... So women were owned by men, children were owned by their father.
    According to teutonic law: man and woman are equal. A woman is free to leave her husband whenever she wants and she has the legal rights on half of the property. Children are free and have the same rights as adults from the moment they can speak. Any free man and any free woman is equal to any other free man or free woman. An ordinary free woman is equal to a male king and has the same rights. Any free man or woman has the right to speak at the Thing (the meeting of the people of that area).

    When we compare the rights according to the
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html


    with the rights according the laws of Iceland arround 1000 AD, we see a lot of similarities.

    When I meet women from Iceland, I notice a difference with other european women. They are less docile, much more self-reliant and do not bend over backwards for "the big daddy in the sky", for the pope or for other authority-figures. They are born as warrior-women.:)

    On Iceland the teuton-religion was never broken. Many people worship the Aesir and the Vanir as did their ancestors. Some knowledge got lost. The teutons did not write. The runes were not an alphabet, they were magical symbols, not intended for writing. The oldest books in icelandic literature (Prose Edda, Heimskringla-saga) were written by people who were converted to christianity. However, a lot of ancient saga's reveal the believes and practises of the old teutons.

    In the rest of europe the teuton-heritage was persecuted and almost destroyed. But some groups gathered the knowledge and kept it quite save.

    Andreas Firewolf was initiated in a secret order at the age of 13 and trained to become a priest of the sacred fire of Atar and as high priest of Ahura Mazda. He never revealed the name of the order but referred to it as the "Ordo Mazda". For years I believed it was something he had made up. But recently the gospel according to Judas has surfaced. In 1981 Andreas Firewolf published a translation of a manuscript of the Ordo Mazda called "the gospel of Judas". It is not quite the same as the gospel of Judas as published recently

    http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf?fs=www7.nationalgeographic.com&fs=magma.nationalgeographic.com

    But there are some significant similarities. According to the translation of Andreas Firewolf, Judas and Jesus were priests of the order after Melchi-zedek. After the crusifixion Judas founded a new order. Andreas Firewolf refered to that order as the Ordo Mazda. It was in fact the european branch of the order after Melchi-zedek.
    In europe this order gathered all knowledge they could find. Andreas Firewolf claims that he had access to old manuscripts with detailed information on the magical use of the runes. In his book Runictarot he reveals much knowledge which is hard to find elsewhere. In his books about Yggdrasil he gives an elaborate cosmology. Yggdrasil (the tree of worlds) has three roots and a trunk. Together they symbolise the four elements: Ice, Fire, Sea and Wind. There are worlds on the roots and worlds on the trunk, much like the tree of the QaBaLaH. The first part of this book is made available online:

    http://www.andreas333.com/nl/cursus/yggdrasil/

    Coming back to the original topic:
    1. The teuton-religion was never lost completely, much was saved on Iceland.
    2. Knowledge about the teuton-religion and teuton-mythology has been guarded by secret orders like the Ordo Mazda. Andreas Firewolf is spreading this knowledge among those who can read dutch by the internet. A small portion of the knowledge is translated in english.
     

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