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Author Topic: Combining Cultures/Dual Paths  (Read 9103 times)
darashand
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« Topic Start: May 03, 2010, 01:27:48 pm »

I know there are many people who take the label of "eclectic pagan" readily, but there are those who take much consideration into what practices they incorportate into their beliefs.  For some a dual path is fulfilling.  I may be one of those people.  I find it very interesting that some people think that the Irish people and the Native American people had a lot in common.  It may be something I look into one day, but my religion is set up to be specifically Irish.  For those already in a dual or ecclectic path or those who would consider it, some questions for you to answer (please!),

1.  Would one culture take prevelence over the other?
2.  How would you practice your beliefs, gather information, etc without breaking "cultural integrity"?
3.  Would you consider taking two complete opposite faiths rather than two similiar ones?
4.  Those who consider themselves ecclectic, why did you chose this rather than a reconstuctist path?
5.  Those who consider themselves reconstructionist, would you ever consider doing an ecclectic practice or combining more than one culture? 

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« Reply #1: May 03, 2010, 01:50:27 pm »

4.  Those who consider themselves ecclectic, why did you chose this rather than a reconstuctist path?
5.  Those who consider themselves reconstructionist, would you ever consider doing an ecclectic practice or combining more than one culture? 

I want to first point out that here, you're using the terms "eclectic" and "reconstructionist" as though these are the only two possibilities, but that's not really the case.  Reconstructionism is one approach to paganism that eschews eclecticism; there are others as well.

To answer your final question (the only one I feel I can answer):  I've done eclectic, and it just wasn't for me.  So no, I wouldn't be very likely to consider it again.  If I wanted to do something else, I would do it alongside the reconstructionism.  Being a recon doesn't exclude my doing other things sometimes, it just means that I don't combine other things with the traditional Hellenic stuff I'm doing.  So, for example, if I felt the need to do something in honor of a Norse deity, I would find out how that deity was typically worshiped within their home culture rather than trying to work them into my Hellenic worship, and likewise I'd continue worshiping the Greek gods in the way I already do rather than combining that with Norse elements. 

I suppose the exception would be cases where there is historical syncretism between the Greeks and other cultures (Egyptian, for example).  I'd be more likely to consider a combination in that case, but even then I'd still be guided by what was done historically rather than putting it together myself; it's not really the same thing as being eclectic.  I haven't really felt the need to go anywhere but Greece since deciding to follow a reconstructionist path, though, so it's kind of a moot point for me at the moment.
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« Reply #2: May 03, 2010, 01:56:41 pm »

1.  Would one culture take prevelence over the other?
2.  How would you practice your beliefs, gather information, etc without breaking "cultural integrity"?
3.  Would you consider taking two complete opposite faiths rather than two similiar ones?
4.  Those who consider themselves ecclectic, why did you chose this rather than a reconstuctist path?

1. Yes. I think it's because I'm more familiar with the Egyptian culture, but I focus more heavily on it than on Celtic culture.

2. Cultural integrity? I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I don't, for example, worship Brighid alongside Anpu. I worship Her and Anpu, and the only times I say Their names in the same breathe are for general devotions. If it was Imbolc, Anpu wouldn't even factor into the equation, and if it was Wep Ronpet, I wouldn't even think of honoring Brighid.

3. I have, yes.

4. I chose eclecticism because I can't for the life of me devote so much time to researching for a Recon path. I know that sounds lazy, but even if I did do research, sometimes the information I get doesn't resonate with me. A large part of my spirituality is, "If it feels right, then it is right." This is why I honor Brighid but none of the other Celtic Gods, and why I'm learning runic divination despite its Nordic origin. I tried to get into ceremonial magick a couple of weeks ago, but even though the ancient Egyptians were very talented magicians, it didn't feel right. Meanwhile, when I instead turned to crystals, divination, chakras, and energy, something clicked.
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« Reply #3: May 03, 2010, 02:06:50 pm »

I want to first point out that here, you're using the terms "eclectic" and "reconstructionist" as though these are the only two possibilities, but that's not really the case.  Reconstructionism is one approach to paganism that eschews eclecticism; there are others as well.

To answer your final question (the only one I feel I can answer):  I've done eclectic, and it just wasn't for me.  So no, I wouldn't be very likely to consider it again.  If I wanted to do something else, I would do it alongside the reconstructionism.  Being a recon doesn't exclude my doing other things sometimes, it just means that I don't combine other things with the traditional Hellenic stuff I'm doing.  So, for example, if I felt the need to do something in honor of a Norse deity, I would find out how that deity was typically worshiped within their home culture rather than trying to work them into my Hellenic worship, and likewise I'd continue worshiping the Greek gods in the way I already do rather than combining that with Norse elements. 

I suppose the exception would be cases where there is historical syncretism between the Greeks and other cultures (Egyptian, for example).  I'd be more likely to consider a combination in that case, but even then I'd still be guided by what was done historically rather than putting it together myself; it's not really the same thing as being eclectic.  I haven't really felt the need to go anywhere but Greece since deciding to follow a reconstructionist path, though, so it's kind of a moot point for me at the moment.

^What she said.

I primarily worship the Greek Pantheon in a Hellenic context.  If I decided to give in to the tiny pull I sometimes get from a certain Egyptian god, I would worship Him in a Kemetic context.  If I were to feel a pull from.....let's say The Morrigan, Freyr, or Shiva, I would worship them in a Celtic, Norse, or Hindu context, respectively.  To me, worshipping in a cultural context (or at least as close as one can get to one) is easier because you get a ritual framework the individual gods already know and (presumably) are comfortable with.  I think it's a sign of respect, more than anything.

That is, if I still actively practiced any religion Undecided
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« Reply #4: May 03, 2010, 02:17:22 pm »


For reference, I consider myself neither eclectic nor recon; I do draw from multiple cultural sources (Celtic, Egyptian and Greek) and my own modern influence, but I personally define "eclectic" as drawing from a potentially unlimited number of sources- mine are limited and defined. Others might disagree and consider me eclectic, though, I can't really say.

1. No. All of the cultures I work with, including my own, have equal importance and influence.
2. I'm not sure what you mean by "cultural integrity" so I'll skip this one.
3. Completely opposite? Probably not. All faiths have differences; as long as I can reconcile those differences for myself, it's fine. I would not personally be able to practice two paths in tandem with radically different belief systems.
4. I chose not to stick with a recon path because it simply didn't feel right for me.
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« Reply #5: May 03, 2010, 03:38:57 pm »

1.  Would one culture take prevelence over the other?

For a true dual-path syncretic eclecticism, I think this is a bad idea.  Especially in the case where the path considered superior is a European one, and the superceded one is indigenous.  It is the absolute responsibility of a responsible eclectic to figure out how to combine those two religions in a matter that is respectful both; if they can't figure out how to do that and still want to do the two things, then it would be best to deal with them as distinct, uncombined religions, in which case the relationship with each individual religion can work out for itself so long as one doesn't discard something critical.

A note: a practitioner of a dual-path syncretic eclecticism will probably wind up not being a follower of either source religion, due to the compromises required.  Or, if they are, it will be dual path: the source religion, and the derived one.

In cases of a non-syncretic approach, it gets more complicated.  For example:  I have no draw to my ancestral religious structures, per se; those gods do not speak to me.  However, folk customs and outlook and folk magic from my heritage are increasingly important to me.  In that case, I am not doing multiple paths, but enriching my own personal spirituality with things drawn from my heritages.  Some people have similar relationships with the historical forces of the places they live, though, again, this has to be considered with extreme sensitivity due to the issues of colonialism and appropriation.

Quote
2.  How would you practice your beliefs, gather information, etc without breaking "cultural integrity"?

Define your terms.

But if you're dealing with an indigenous practice where there are living people who are still doing it, I think it's appropriate to ask the people involved what level of engagement it is appropriate for an outsider to have.

Quote
3.  Would you consider taking two complete opposite faiths rather than two similiar ones?

What on earth is the opposite of a religion?

Quote
4.  Those who consider themselves ecclectic, why did you chose this rather than a reconstuctist path?

For the record, I'm eclectic and a reconstructionist.

Quote
5.  Those who consider themselves reconstructionist, would you ever consider doing an ecclectic practice or combining more than one culture? 

I was straight recon for a while and then I went dual-trad, and then I started building something in the intersection space.

I went dual-trad because one of my gods told me to.

Building something in the intersection space was sort of an inevitable consequence and He laughed at me so hard when I said, "HEY.  THIS THING, WAS THAT WHAT YOU WERE AFTER?"
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« Reply #6: May 03, 2010, 03:58:50 pm »

1.  Would one culture take prevelence over the other?
2.  How would you practice your beliefs, gather information, etc without breaking "cultural integrity"?
3.  Would you consider taking two complete opposite faiths rather than two similiar ones?
4.  Those who consider themselves ecclectic, why did you chose this rather than a reconstuctist path?
I'm very, very eclectic. It's all about finding what works for me, what brings me personally closer to the Deities. The whole 'eclectic' thing comes very naturally to me, maybe because sifting through large amounts of loosely-related information and taking only what I need is part of my job. Reconciling concepts that don't immediately seem to go together is also part of my work.

1. I feel most drawn to Greek culture, but that wouldn't necessarily take precedence over all else. If I really liked something from another culture I'd find a way to reconcile it with my Greek beliefs. Like I said above, that's what I do.
2. What cultural integrity? I'm American. I have no particular culture to hold to.
3. That depends on what you mean by 'opposite'. I don't study or practice anything from non-polytheistic religions, and all the ancient pantheons have some basic similarities, so I don't think any of them are 'opposites'. To be truly opposite you'd have to take a monotheistic faith and a hard polytheistic faith. Even my reconciliation skills would fail at that, I think.
4. All kinds of reasons, not the least of which being I hate rules.  Grin And this isn't ancient Greece (far from it!), so I don't see how it's possible to recreate the ancient methods of worship. I can be a real perfectionist, and I'm sure the impossibility of exactly recreating the ancient rituals would drive me absolutely batty, lol. How personal and individual eclectic polytheism can be is one of the things I like best about it.
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« Reply #7: May 03, 2010, 04:27:18 pm »

What on earth is the opposite of a religion?

*snort*

I suspect "fundamentally contradictory" may have been closer to the meaning intended by the OP...
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« Reply #8: May 03, 2010, 05:00:45 pm »

all the ancient pantheons have some basic similarities, so I don't think any of them are 'opposites'.

Not answering the questions, but this made me think the OP might be interested in this book.  I haven't read it, of course, but it might help reconcile some of the conflicts you're sensing, or at least give you some helpful info.

Just a thought.
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« Reply #9: May 03, 2010, 07:04:38 pm »

1.  Would one culture take prevelence over the other?

I'm Kemetic Orthodox first then an Orisha devotee and then a Heathen.  I keep these practices separate.  Kemetic deities and practices would take precedence over the others.

Quote
2.  How would you practice your beliefs, gather information, etc without breaking "cultural integrity"?

What is cultural integrity? 

I don't worship Oya, an Orisha, in a Kemetic context, if that's what you're getting at. 

Quote
3.  Would you consider taking two complete opposite faiths rather than two similiar ones?

I guess that would depend on how much the core concepts of a religion conflict. 

Quote
4.  Those who consider themselves ecclectic, why did you chose this rather than a reconstuctist path?

I'm not really eclectic, I follow a dual path. 

Quote
5.  Those who consider themselves reconstructionist, would you ever consider doing an ecclectic practice or combining more than one culture? 

I tried being an eclectic pagan at one time.  I find I need more structure so I don't think an eclectic path would work for me. 

If I were to become a syncretist, I guess I would combine more than one recon religion, but I think it would make more sense  if there was a historical basis for it. 

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« Reply #10: May 04, 2010, 08:52:39 am »

I want to first point out that here, you're using the terms "eclectic" and "reconstructionist" as though these are the only two possibilities, but that's not really the case.  Reconstructionism is one approach to paganism that eschews eclecticism; there are others as well.

Ok.  Thank you for pointing that out.  I'll need to clarify what I meant.  I was thinking of following two reconstructionist paths separately rather than together/mixing the two cultures.   
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« Reply #11: May 04, 2010, 08:56:02 am »

2.  How would you practice your beliefs, gather information, etc without breaking "cultural integrity"?

One of the main problems with ecclectic paganism is that some people feel it is committing "cultural rape" for lack of better words.  "Integrity" in this case would be "the whole"  and to break the whole would mean to take little things from each culture without giving proper respect to its people, etc.
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« Reply #12: May 04, 2010, 03:43:41 pm »

One of the main problems with ecclectic paganism is that some people feel it is committing "cultural rape" for lack of better words.  "Integrity" in this case would be "the whole"  and to break the whole would mean to take little things from each culture without giving proper respect to its people, etc.
Well, 'some people' are very, very wrong, IMO. First, I'm practicing a religion, not a culture. The two are totally different things. My culture is that of modern-day America. I couldn't change that even if I wanted to (and I don't). The cultures I've taken my religion from no longer exist, and haven't existed for millenniums.

Really, there are three options for how to handle practicing an ancient religion in 2010. 1) Invent a time machine, so you can go back to ancient Greece (or wherever) and practice the religion exactly as it was practiced originally. 2) Adapt the religion to be practiced in the modern world (how much you feel you need to adapt it is up to you). 3) Give up.

I assume even the strictest reconstructionists are doing option #2, because there are lots of rituals which absolutely can't be done in their original form in the modern world. Some rituals were done in a specific place, which is many thousands of miles away from where most of us live. Some rituals required hundreds of people, and there simply aren't that many of us left. Even simple things, like keeping a fire burning at all times, may be impractical to the point of impossible in the modern world. Also, a lot of cultures didn't leave us enough documentation to accurately recreate them no matter how much we want to.
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« Reply #13: May 04, 2010, 04:07:14 pm »

Well, 'some people' are very, very wrong, IMO. First, I'm practicing a religion, not a culture. The two are totally different things. My culture is that of modern-day America. I couldn't change that even if I wanted to (and I don't). The cultures I've taken my religion from no longer exist, and haven't existed for millenniums.

I have a few problems with this statement. One, religions are shaped by the culture that they originate in- they are not "totally" different. Culture and religion are distinct, certainly, but they are strongly related. Two, you may not be able to completely change your culture, but you can make choices and change your worldview to align more with another culture than your own. And three, not all cultures that pagans draw from are extinct. The major appropriation flag I see flown (with good reason) is when pagans try to adopt Native American practices. Celtic culture and Greek culture both still exist- they aren't the same as they were in pagan times, sure, but they're still there.
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« Reply #14: May 04, 2010, 04:34:29 pm »

I have a few problems with this statement. One, religions are shaped by the culture that they originate in- they are not "totally" different. Culture and religion are distinct, certainly, but they are strongly related. Two, you may not be able to completely change your culture, but you can make choices and change your worldview to align more with another culture than your own. And three, not all cultures that pagans draw from are extinct. The major appropriation flag I see flown (with good reason) is when pagans try to adopt Native American practices. Celtic culture and Greek culture both still exist- they aren't the same as they were in pagan times, sure, but they're still there.

Adding to this, to trully understand various mythologies you need to look at them in a cultural context.  Hell, you have to do the same to understand the different componants of many religions and often times the religions themselves.  And this is true for even the United States -- look at how conservative brands of Christianity affect American culture at large and vice-versa.

And I think what darashand meant was that quite a few eclectics take aspects from various religion willy-nilly without understanding the historical/cultural context.  For many people this is a sign of deep disrespect to the various religions' original followers.  Most eclectics that I have know on this forum over the years DO show respect for the historical/cultural context.  I have learned a lot from them over the years and I am thankful that I have their friendship.  However, there are enough of the disrespectful type out there to perpetuate certain stereotypes about eclectic paganism.
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