The Apollonian Hermetic Maenad (kyrene) wrote in sanegreekrecons,
The Apollonian Hermetic Maenad

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Beyond reconstructionism?

Pondering over this dream I had posted about more than a year ago:

And it brings to mind the following questions: at what point do we stop reconstructing and move beyond it? How far should we be taking reconstructionism? What is the best approach to genuinely make the pieces fit and have a living, growing tradition--emphasis on the growing?

At what point do you move beyond reconstructing? And is there such a point? Tradition is important to Hellenismos, but Hellenismos had many traditions associated with it. New traditions, myths, epiphets for the gods, and approaches occurred all of the time in the ancient world. So why not now?

All thoughts and ideas welcomed.
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I think there should be a place for it.... and call a spade a spade: Neo-Hellenismos.

1) A place for Spiritual marriage. It traditional Hellenismos it's only hypocracy.

2) Animal sacrifice. Let's be honest - no one is doing it, and we are totally disconnected to the "why".

3) Equal rights for women. Again, we try to wind our way around the landminds and see what we want to. "Rule your wife"? Bite me. I have heard some really offensive comments along that line. How about "rule your gay man"? How would that be taken.

My personal issues

* And then are the giant gaping holes.... rights of passage?

* I have my own personal quibbles about needing something more "earth based" which is only being satisfied by "leaving" the urban classical focus of one city (Athens), and studying the 95% of the population POV- agrarian.

* Fixed solar calendar would be handy. The lunar one is hell. No, not the witchy poo one, but someting a little closer to knowing something like Dec 24-25 I will be busy".

gotta go!
1) agreed

2) I dunno about that...I'm in touch with someone who knows two Pagans who run a farm. It's got potential. :)

3) Also agreed.

As far as needing more earthiness...we already have that. A lot of recons just ignore the stuff on river gods, nature spirits, nymphs, et cetera.

Marriage? Takes care of itself. We don't have THEIR marriage system or expectations; we aren't THEM. We just use the basics, ask the Gods to bless our marriages, Hera particularly, as well as the Kourotrophoi that will nurture the union and the children to come, and you have a big feast. No problemo; clean, and clear. And it is in every respect probably just as authentic as clam pie, because no two villages, clans, or city states in ye olde days probably had a standard wedding rite. The authenticity in this case is found in the heart, in the spirit of the thing.

Animal Sacrifice? A joke. Not only unnecessary, but almost unworkable. I have written extensively on this topic. I think that we can easily and deeply reconstruct the "Why"; I have just completed an essay on Dionysos and Sacrifice in which (following Burkert and a few others) I pretty much hit that nail on the nose. But all the understanding in the world means SHITE when it comes to who and what WE ARE TODAY as opposed to then. Spare the animals; preservation of life is as much a sacrifice today as taking it ever was; goodness knows the Gods need us to make better, deeper motions towards them. What sacrifice was meant to do can be accomplished, TOTALLY, with bloodless sacrifice. And this isn't "Neo" anything; many people in YE OLDE DAYS didn't agree with animal sacrifice.

Equal rights for women? Are you mad?? Don't you see what women do when they start... thinking.... and shit, I don't know, READING and dreaming that things could be better for them? I mean damn, they can DRIVE now....

Just kidding. OF COURSE women need equal rights, and all men who think to stand in the way of that must be (I believe) imprisoned or executed by being staked to giant antpiles, alongside husbands who beat their wives. The return of Paganism will bring the needed spiritual restoration of the dignity of the feminine- starting on the spiritual level and moving on down. I'm sorry that SOME of the ancient Hellenes, post-aryan invasion, were assholes to their women. In earlier times, it was not like that, and it's not like that now- and with the grace of the Holy Kore, it will never be that way again.

Rites of Passage? We know enough for honest reconstructions.

Rural Paganism? Damn Skippy!! That's where it started! "City Based" stuff is, in my opinion, boring crap. The Rural Dionysia, the ORIGINAL Eleusinian mysteries, the Rites of other Hoofed and Horned Divinities, the power of the TRUE Serpent-like and Wolf-like Apollo, all these Gods, Zeus the great Serpent, the Cthonios, Demeter clothed in forest and field... damn man... It's as earth based as you can get, or at least, it was.

Calendars? LUNAR CALENDARS RULE! I can show you how to make them work. I am a specialist on them. They aren't nearly as bad as you think.

I am not sure were we are coming or going from each other so I will try to be clear.

marriage We don't have THEIR marriage system or expectations; we aren't THEM. and The authenticity in this case is found in the heart, in the spirit of the thing.
And that isn't recon - it's neo

yeah for neo! who would want to recon marriage?

Animal Sacrifice? hey I agree with you, but what you are describing ain't recon.

Rites of Passage? We know enough for honest reconstructions. really? I haven't heard anyone mention any sources. But between how they treated women/girls..... and too many cities were peachy about man-boy love..... I have my guesses about how much I would be thrilled about.

Rural Paganism? The online Hellenic recon groups don't reflect that. It's the polar opposite to the crazy stuff on my nightstand. "Attic Festivals of Dememter" seems to be someone's thesis photocopied into a book. That and fun tracks (non religous) about how the hoplite farmer is the foundation of all western civ. but that brings us to the calendar.....

actually the farmers didn't follow the lunar one. It was pretty much solar, some rising and setting of stars and the return of swallows and woodpeckers. Those bird's and stars line up w/in a week of each other (weather permitting) which is MUCH closer than the wild swings the lunar calendar made.

The answer to this apparent dillema is in how you see "recon", in how "hard" You want your terminology to be.

Copying something straight from history and then "doing it with no change" is not "recon". That is technically "revivalism" or maybe "Parroting".

'Reconstruction', in the purest sense that I have encountered it, means moving in the same lines of thinking and feeling that this earlier group was moving in, while you live your life, practise your religion, whatever. You can't reconstruct the eternal truths, or the eternal gods. They don't need reconstructing. The only thing you can do is reconstruct the spirit, the modes of feeling and understanding, that these things were approached in.

Yeah, yeah, I know that people think "recon" is like "we look at this source and do what it says", A then B. But that can't be right because there are few, if any first-hand accounts of rites or rituals; we have poets describing some; POETS, to emphasize; we have second hand accounts, or scholarly reconstructions based on certain evidence... what you end up reconstructing is someone's rounded-out idea of someone's account of someone's practise.

Suuuucky...... What are we after? Burkert, the Atheist? Someone's thesis? Or the spirit of being in the fellowship of the Gods, close to the spiritual powers of Nature, close to the particularly "Greek" way of bearing the burdens and joys of being human?

You don't need a time machine, you don't need to parrot what you read. You need to get into a "Mode" that is poetically aligned precisely with the Greek Spirit. It's NOT neo. It's VERY old, the concept of "Greek-ness". The worldview SURVIVED, even if the culture that was an outgrowth of it did not. Any liberal arts college that is worth the name can help you understand "Greekness".

By the definition of "neo" being "something new or innovated, unique to your modern time and place", then every greek ritual done in the old days was neo, because no two were the same, nor could they have been. Every situation is different.

No two marriages today are the same; new variations are tried with each one. But having attended many weddings, there is a common spirit, of unity, of sacredness, of festivity, of new life potential, taken to a new level, of two families coming together.

It is done in the name of a power or powers that the people gathered find holy. There is love there. That is a marriage, not a rote ritual based on some older ways of doing things. No two greek villages could have had the same "rote" for marriages. To be honest, love might have had little to do with it back then; it might have been more political and sociological, especially in big settlements. In fact, you can bet it was. But it's not like that today.

If the gathered Hellenes believe in the forces of Aphrodite, Zeus, Hera... then they are invoked to bless a union. A sacrifice is made on behalf of the union, everyone feasts. That's as recon as you are going to get, and no less (or more) "neo" than some little marriage feast that happened at some little village in Thrace 2300 years ago.

Nothing is "neo" about the spirit of a being, a place, a people, which is the only reality that is meaningful.

My notion of animal sacrifice is recon; the Pythagoreans were Greeks, they wouldn't do it; ditto with Empedocles and his followers; ditto with others. Compassion for animals (as well as people! Think of Achilles) is not a new idea, nor an idea that only won praise recently. Our ancestors always thought life was sacred. How they expressed it changed over time; if they had been allowed to continue to now- they would have arrived where we have arrived; animal sacrifice in the modern world would be at a minimum; changing socio-economics would have made it happen, if nothing else. Christians and Muslims have radically (in some cases) changed in their conception of "God"; Jews CERTAINLY have, (except for those beastly zionists). Pagans would have, as well. In fact, if Pagan India is any example, religion and ideas about sacrifice can change RADICALLY; in Vedic times, they had sacrifice as much as the Greeks; now, they don't do it, at all.

Natural, organic change is not "neo" in the sense of "made up out of our ass". It's a natural convention of culture.

Do you think we need Rites of Passage today, for boys and girls?

Rural paganism??? Eleusinion's TOTAL approach is rural! Our altars are piles of wood and bonfires, piles of ash, and the occasional big stone; and our Temenos are groves and areas marked out on turf, fields, and clearings. The closest we get to Urban is our home shrines, and even then, that's pushing it.

We actually USE scythes and wooden posts with animal skulls! :) Man, you haven't seen the Bacchanalia until you've seen the clothing-optional and mud-streaked, paint-streaked, ash-and-sweat streaked, blood-streaked madness that people turn into once they've drank enough Blackberry Brandy laced with Vanilla extract and sweet port wine, and topped it off with some fine absinthe. Goat Gods? You betcha.
Copying something straight from history and then "doing it with no change" is not "recon". That is technically "revivalism" or maybe "Parroting".

Thank you. You have summed up my feeling on the matter quite well.

1) Seems you and I wrap very differnt baggage around the terms "neo" and "recon".

2) Please start using "one" and stop using YOU. For example, since YOU do not know me, the below is extremely preachy.
You don't need a time machine, you don't need to parrot what you read. You need to get into a "Mode" that is poetically aligned precisely with the Greek Spirit.
It comes across like you know what I believe, so when you preach to me that I belive stuff I very much don't - it's extemely off putting.
Try this

One doesn't need a time machine, and don't need to parrot what you read. One simply needs to get into a "Mode" that is poetically aligned precisely with the Greek Spirit.

I swear most of the writers in this "community" make me looney.

We take the boat across the water, to the far shore, and when we get to our destination, we don't pick the boat up and keep carrying it. We get off the boat, and enjoy the destination, walking freely into it. The boat is discarded or left behind, or perhaps sent back for others to get to the destination as well.

That is what system and tradition does; it is a vehicle to get you to a certain place, condition, understanding. When you have truly arrived, it becomes superflous for you, but no so for others.

Woe to they who think the vehicle is the destination;

Woe to they who think the vehicle is unimportant.

Woe, woe, woe.

hi, i'm suz, a hellenic neopagan moving sort of into recon. i'm also a computer idiot and have no clue how to join this community. a friend of mine sent me the link.
i'm responding to kyrene's post, not out of any sense that i might be helpful but because i've read your stuff around the internet and am a groupie.
i'm coming at this question from the other direction, from being a modern american cunningham-variety witch and wanting to incorporate more authentic greek elements into my rituals to honor my gods. i looked into recon several years ago and ran into a lot of 'to join us you must spin your own flax out of yak hair and then weave your own ritual robe or you're not serious enough to be a REAL recon.'
and apparently i'm not.
at this point i've cobbled together some ritual elements, using the sacred info available from hesiod, homer and the blessed sannion's sanctuary, and am still working with how 'authentic' i'm wanting to go. lustration, pouring out wine, epithets, all of this seems to be very well received.
the fact is, fluffy that i am, i LIKE the sparkling moonlit beauty of american neowicca, and am not yet ready to give it up altogether, and am truly only an egg.
i'm delighted to find this community and one day maybe i'll even figure out how to POST instead of just respond. but in the meantime, i'll be reading with fascination.
:) blessed be
lol I like you :) I've added you to my friends list, hope that you don't mind.

There's nothing wrong, IMHO, with worshipping the Greek gods in the context of neo-Wicca...and I'm hugely glad that you're using that appelation and don't have a problem with it. I have a few friends who are trad, and I agree with them that there's a difference between Wicca and neo-Wicca, and that the two labels should exist to begin with.

Joining the community is easy... go to the user info of this community and click on the link that says "join" on top. :)
::::boinging ponderously about office::::::::
i'm thrilled that you friended me and have done likewise!
AND joined the community!
:) bb
Welcome! We're a fun and friendly bunch but have been quiet as of late. Hoping that will change...
I think its extremely important to look to what the ancients did-but i think that there comes a point in which its time to start adding modern elements-

That is to say-the ancients didnt have a static religion-it grew and adapted as times and attitudes changed-and i think perhaps we should start doing the same-

That would, i think, start creating traditions that are meaningful to us as well as keep to what was meaningful to the ancients..

does that make any Sense?
Yes, yes it does make sense.