(Note: I wasn't quite sure what section to post this in.)

Polytheistic Reconstructionism (“Recon”) is a category of religions among modern day polytheists who seek to restore various ancient pre-Christian folk religions. This includes reconciling those practices with being a different people of a different society and world experience than our polytheistic ancestors. The core intent is to reestablish the connection to the gods developed by ancient polytheists which for centuries were known to work. There are various Recon paths, mainly Celtic, Germanic (Heathenry), Greek (Hellenismos), Roman (Religio Romana), Egyptian (Kemetism), Finnish (Suomenusko), Slavic (Rodnovery), Middle Eastern (Semitic) and Baltic (Romuva).

Reconstructionism is generally seen as a subset of Neopaganism but there are some key distinctions. One notable difference is that while many Recons are solitary, it is not similar to solitary Neopagan Eclecticism. There is an orthopractic nature to these paths - i.e., proper ways to approach the gods (per what's known of the original religions and traditions), to make offerings, to make holy observances, and so on. This leads to another way in which Reconstructionism differs: there is less in the way of whole cloth invention and more analysis of custom and tradition. Recon paths rely foremost on primary and secondary sources to establish religious practices, which provides context and a modicum of structure which then frees the individual to explore personal gnosis. (Primary sources are ancient records - archaeological evidence, ancient texts, etc. Secondary sources are reliable, scholarly, peer reviewed research.) Whereas in Neopaganism, usually personal gnosis (personal experiences: dreams, feelings, etc.) is of foremost priority while the extent and quality of research is secondary.

Another distinction is that while Recons often do not to self-identify as "pagan" or Neopagan. “Pagan” was not used by ancient people to identify themselves or their religions, but was a pejorative used against them. Ancient cultures tended not to have a given name or equivalent for the word “religion” because there was no separation between interacting with deities and everyday life. But we’re in different times and require labels to communicate so often the word "polytheists" is preferred and/or the names noted above that have some historical basis. Some Recons are ok with the use of "pagan" as a vernacular term to the extent of acknowledging that they are "neopagans" insomuch that they are modern ("neo") polytheists.

This discussion is for Recons, anyone who interested in Reconstructionist religions, and for polytheistic traditionalists who share similar methodologies and perspectives.

Hopefully, this will prompt some new discussions!

Tags: Celtic, Heathenry, Hellenismos, Kemetism, Rodnovery, Romuva, Semitic, Suomenusko, classical, paganism, More…polytheism, traditional

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So, whatcha wanna talk about? :) 

I prefer the term historically informed polytheist :)

I practice Fyrnsidu and the problem with the reconstructionist methodology, in this case, is there is simply not enough evidence to securely say this or that was the way things were done. We can make generalities but the skeleton has to be fleshed out, so to speak, using comparative mythology and personal gnosis.

It's an interesting point you make in regards to reconstructionists not identifying with the word pagan or neopagan yet Germanic polytheists readily use the word heathen which was also coined by Christians.

Blessed be -- yes i know that is not a recon thing --- but I am very interested in high quality books and text about different varieties of Re-constructional attempt from different Western Cultures.

 I would hope you could provide a list of authors and works that you feel are worth the time and effort to read and explore.

   Thank you very much!

    MarcusAgrippa1

 

There are lots, can you narrow the field a little in regard to the cultures you wish to focus on?


MarcusAgrippa1 said:

Blessed be -- yes i know that is not a recon thing --- but I am very interested in high quality books and text about different varieties of Re-constructional attempt from different Western Cultures.

 I would hope you could provide a list of authors and works that you feel are worth the time and effort to read and explore.

   Thank you very much!

    MarcusAgrippa1

 

I'm no expert on the subject and, alas, a very knowledgeable Heathen is no longer on this board. However, there's evidence Germanic polytheists did use the word "heathen" subsequent to the arrival of Christianity in order to differentiate themselves from the foreigners:

"Within the preserved collection of skaldic poetry, there are multiple occasions on which the term 'heathen' is used.

Eyvindr [Finnsson Skáldaspillir’s] poem.., Hákonarmál was written in dedication to Hákon after he was killed in the battle of Storð around 961. [34] While Hákon was a Christian, Eyvindr was a heathen, and in a twist of fate, his dedication poem to Hákon sends the dead king off to Valhalla. In the final lines, the poem reads:

Deyr fé.
Deyja frændr,
eyðist land ok láð;
síz Hákon fór
með heiðin goð,
mörg er þjóð um þjáð.
Cattle die
Kinsmen die,
Land and lieges are whelmed;
ever since Hákon
to the heathen gods fared,
Many a liege is laid low.[35]

This is the earliest appearance of the word heiðinn in Old Norse that we have preserved. According to Christopher Abram:

The fact that Eyvindr felt the need to specify the gods were ‘heathen’ seems to indicate a new awareness that there were alternatives to traditional paganism. This term asserts the pagans’ identity as a religious group, but such an assertion of identity would hardly be necessary if their own religion was the only one they knew about.[36]

From 

“Heathen”: The Linguistic Origins and Early Context by Josh Rood an...

Odroerir: Heathen Journal 

Mercia said:

It's an interesting point you make in regards to reconstructionists not identifying with the word pagan or neopagan yet Germanic polytheists readily use the word heathen which was also coined by Christians.

Thanks Callisto, I have read that article, I don't think there are too many of us that haven't, he neatly brings together the theories on the etymology of the word heathen. 

My comment was more about Reconstructionists not identifying with the word pagan than about the modern use of the word Heathen. Though I prefer Fyrnsidu I have aslo used ASH to describe my belief system, I just assumed Reconstructionists don't like to use pagan because it was a medieval Christian label so I was contrasting the two. 

I do know Heathen was used as a descriptor in the Gothic bible and in post conversion medieval literature; both Norse and Anglo-Saxon. But having said that it also must also be noted that all Scaldic and Eddic poetry, though originally oral, was recorded in written form by Christians, so it is to be expected that the word Heathen and its derivatives were contained in these texts.

It doesn't however indicate that it was used prior to Christianisation or as Abram suggests as an 'awareness' by pagan skalds;  seems unlikely to me for a few reasons but mostly because the Norse religion was not a monolith that lent itself to a universal term such as heathen and of course these were originally oral poems told to pagan audience, so they would hardly need to be told their gods were heathen.

It is difficult to overcome the problem of Christianisation of the Norse and Anglo-Saxon texts which is why attempts to use reconstructionism as a methodology is difficult and conclusions drawn based on written texts can only be tentative. Many changes occured to Skaldic and Eddic poetry post conversion, there is an analysis on the undermining of subject matter, poetic language and style of skaldic verse after the spread of Christianisation in the link below (if anyone out there wants to read it):

http://www.ruthenia.ru/folklore/matushina5.htm

I did enjoy Myths of the Pagan North: The Gods of the Norsemen but disagree with the particular quote you have selected. 

The fact that Eyvindr specified the gods were ‘heathen" only shows that the poem was written post conversion by a Christian author, for a readership that consisted largely of literate Christians. Sadly we will never know the pre-Christian form of this poem because it was not preserved in a pagan milieu. 

Callisto said:

I'm no expert on the subject and, alas, a very knowledgeable Heathen is no longer on this board. However, there's evidence Germanic polytheists did use the word "heathen" subsequent to the arrival of Christianity in order to differentiate themselves from the foreigners:

"Within the preserved collection of skaldic poetry, there are multiple occasions on which the term 'heathen' is used.

Eyvindr [Finnsson Skáldaspillir’s] poem.., Hákonarmál was written in dedication to Hákon after he was killed in the battle of Storð around 961. [34] While Hákon was a Christian, Eyvindr was a heathen, and in a twist of fate, his dedication poem to Hákon sends the dead king off to Valhalla. In the final lines, the poem reads:

Deyr fé.
Deyja frændr,
eyðist land ok láð;
síz Hákon fór
með heiðin goð,
mörg er þjóð um þjáð.
Cattle die
Kinsmen die,
Land and lieges are whelmed;
ever since Hákon
to the heathen gods fared,
Many a liege is laid low.[35]

This is the earliest appearance of the word heiðinn in Old Norse that we have preserved. According to Christopher Abram:

The fact that Eyvindr felt the need to specify the gods were ‘heathen’ seems to indicate a new awareness that there were alternatives to traditional paganism. This term asserts the pagans’ identity as a religious group, but such an assertion of identity would hardly be necessary if their own religion was the only one they knew about.[36]

From 

“Heathen”: The Linguistic Origins and Early Context by Josh Rood an...

Odroerir: Heathen Journal 

Mercia said:

It's an interesting point you make in regards to reconstructionists not identifying with the word pagan or neopagan yet Germanic polytheists readily use the word heathen which was also coined by Christians.

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