Jun. 4th, 2010

eosin: (Default)
There is a trend that I've noticed within the Heathen community, but it applies to most pagans as well. Basically, many pagan paths today (particularly reconstructions) that are disconnected from their original historical ways of life often substitute the practitioner's current values, beliefs, and way of life to 'fill in' for the ones of the original pagans of the past. In other words, it just so happens that the witches of centuries ago were Communist vegan pacifistic polyamorist nudists just like today, and it just so happens that the pagan Norse were all macho chest-thumping mead-puking fight-picking brutes just like today, and so on, and so on...

Of course, to be fair, we see the same thing in less-informed versions of Christianity, where of course Jesus was an outright Communist, and of course his primary purpose was to encourage random law-breaking of all kinds, and of course he preached forced conversion, and of course he was a supporter of Big Business, and of course he was a supporter of Big Government, and of course he was a supporter of anarchy, and of course he supported every sexual deviance known to man, and of course he supported crushing levels of taxation, etc.

Good-sounding bad history is still bad history. But more importantly, if one is to be honest about a historical pagan path, one needs to go beyond ritual and basic theology, and look at the way of life that a god's worshiper followed. Gods of fertility and agriculture weren't just about saying "Food and Sex, Yeah!!!", but about being in touch with the land, it's properties, the local weather patterns, visiting critters, the practical significance of agricultural holidays, and other important details. A hunting god would be followed not just by someone who says "I like archery", but by someone who learned the ways of the local wildlife in great detail, spending a lot of time in the field pursuing his quarry. A war god would typically be followed by some kind of man-at-arms who spent a lot of time getting thumped in practice, far more than the amount of time spent with exaggerated bragging.

Technology has changed over time and affected the way we live compared to yesteryear, but we're still as human as before, and the role of the gods in their spheres of influence is still the same. We would do well to work with a god or goddess that's relevant to how we live, as well as learn something about the prior worshipers of the same, especially with experiencing what they did before. Conversely, I believe it's disrespectful to invoke a god simply to justify one's own bad behavior and pretend that it's somehow divinely blessed.

I acknowledge that reconstruction is hard, but it's far more honest (and far more interesting) to look at all the details of living that a follower of a particular god would typically do, and try them out if practical.

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The Pedantic Swordsman

March 2013

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