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[personal profile] eosin
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.

Date: 2010-06-04 03:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tepintzin.livejournal.com
I agree with this post. I find Thor to have been a comforting deity while I've been away on deployment. It doesn't hurt that one of the indigenous gods here is a sky thunderer to whom goats are sacred. I have to read more to figure out if Imra is an earlier iteration of Thor.

Date: 2010-06-04 06:32 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I agree with most of this - so of course only the phrase that annoys me motivates me to comment.

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.

Rather a large number of people, present and especially past would probably consider my existence to be "bad behaviour" - I'm neither a broodmare nor a helpmate, even though this is the role a large number of cultures consider to be dictated by my genetics. And they can, quite frankly, get stuffed. Their gods can too, to the extent that their gods actually mandate proper "feminine" behaviour.

The older I get - and the more I see so-called "feminists" pushing the same agenda as sexists, except with the values reversed - the more I become a single agenda person. Because I am a person, not a collection of gender traits that unfortunately dares to have inappropriate desires and ambitions.

But as it happens, I also remain polytheist, and have some kind of contact with some of these reconstructable gods. This can be a bit of a quandry, given their cultures. But it's my quandry - not the quandry of someone who has pre-decided what is "good" and what is "bad", and insists that anyone who disagrees is simply using their gods as an excuse. Some people's idea of "good" is incompatible with me - but that doesn't mean that I know my idea is 100% right. I wish others had the same amount of realism.

Date: 2010-06-04 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ertla.livejournal.com
I just posted a long comment about gender roles - not noticing that LJ had logged me out, and it was "screened". Acknowledging the comment, which I don''t have time to reconstruct and repost.

Date: 2010-06-04 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winterlion.livejournal.com
Yes!

I'll toss out that there's a lot of "appears good" bad history out there. The Romantics LOVED to make a hash like this of anything that caught their fancy - and a LOT of stuff caught their fancy. Toss in the Bowlderizations of the Victorians and ....

well, I'm finding evidence that a lot of current culture in Scandinavia anyway is - pretty close - to the same as it always was. Change has never been very deep, there. I don't know what it's like elsewhere - but as I understand it, Ireland in its own way is like that too. (mind, they've been Christian for 1500-1700 years or so, depending - if I remember my dates correctly which I might not)
Thing is - there's stuff that's distinctly modern. Schooling was radically redone in the Industrial revolution - and while our universities carry a heritage of structure back to ancient Greece, they do NOT operate the same, or with the same agendas. Almost anything to do with budget or money is (by and large) modern-ish. There are a huge whackload of other things too - varying from some uses of language (but not as many as people think - "ain't" apparently follows either formal British or formal Saxon grammer, I don't remember which) to some highly critical every day stuff we take for granted.

I'm speaking as one who grew up on a farm where we lived on what we grew, made our own clothes from scratch and traded with others for what we couldn't get. I'm speaking as one caught - as a "neutral priest" amongst gang wars more like historical wars (not bloody - but brutal in their own ways). In other words - yes, my connection with my Teacher (a certain one-eyed one) has seemed consistent even though even mentioning His name was said to doom many.
That said, I'm glad that my life these days is modern. I'm back a-nomading again though so that's ... well to be expected I guess?

I wish in many ways though that modern culture had guestrights and hostrights. That's been - mostly - and sadly - lost. Nomads are very rare, and we don't have the culture to deal with it anymore.
Most of our ancestral cultures (but not all) were nomadic, as I understand it.

Date: 2010-06-05 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ciarin.livejournal.com
Good post, man.

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The Pedantic Swordsman

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