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Author Topic: Celtic Recon and Celtic Polytheism  (Read 6164 times)
Smoke
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« Topic Start: July 12, 2010, 10:15:45 am »

Is there a difference between Celtic Recon and Celtic Polytheism? If so what is it? I did some research on what CR is(and it confused me) and then I heard someone talk about Celtic Polytheism. Are the two the same thing or are they different? Sorry if this seems like a stupid queston.
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« Reply #1: July 12, 2010, 11:54:59 am »

Is there a difference between Celtic Recon and Celtic Polytheism? If so what is it? I did some research on what CR is(and it confused me) and then I heard someone talk about Celtic Polytheism. Are the two the same thing or are they different? Sorry if this seems like a stupid queston.

I'm not Celtic myself, so there may be some nuances I'm missing here, but mostly:

Reconstructionism means attempting to worship the gods (of whichever culture one is reconstructing) in a manner as close to the ways the ancients did as possible.  Usually that doesn't mean recreating everything exactly--that's often impossible for a lot of reasons.  For one thing, especially in the case of CR, there may be gaps in what we know about ancient ways, so we may not know exactly what the ancients did.  For another, the world is a very different place now and that requires a little adjustment.  Most reconstructionists, when faced with this, will try to fill in the blanks with something that's at least in the spirit of the way the ancients did things even if they can't duplicate what the ancients did exactly.

Polytheism just means believing in many gods.  It doesn't mean that a person worships in any particular way; it just means they believe there are many gods.  Reconstructionists are likely to be polytheists, but not all polytheists are reconstructionists.  It's sort of like the difference between monotheism and Christianity; Christianity is one specific monotheistic (it believes in one god) approach to religion.  Reconstructionism is one specific polytheistic approach to religion.

Does that help?  If not--if you can tell us what's confusing you, or ask specific questions about things that are unclear to you, that might help us be more helpful to you.  Smiley
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« Reply #2: July 12, 2010, 12:01:32 pm »

I'm not Celtic myself, so there may be some nuances I'm missing here, but mostly:

Reconstructionism means attempting to worship the gods (of whichever culture one is reconstructing) in a manner as close to the ways the ancients did as possible.  Usually that doesn't mean recreating everything exactly--that's often impossible for a lot of reasons.  For one thing, especially in the case of CR, there may be gaps in what we know about ancient ways, so we may not know exactly what the ancients did.  For another, the world is a very different place now and that requires a little adjustment.  Most reconstructionists, when faced with this, will try to fill in the blanks with something that's at least in the spirit of the way the ancients did things even if they can't duplicate what the ancients did exactly.

Polytheism just means believing in many gods.  It doesn't mean that a person worships in any particular way; it just means they believe there are many gods.  Reconstructionists are likely to be polytheists, but not all polytheists are reconstructionists.  It's sort of like the difference between monotheism and Christianity; Christianity is one specific monotheistic (it believes in one god) approach to religion.  Reconstructionism is one specific polytheistic approach to religion.

Does that help?  If not--if you can tell us what's confusing you, or ask specific questions about things that are unclear to you, that might help us be more helpful to you.  Smiley


So Reconstructionalism is when you follow the culture and worship the Gods/desses of the particular group you're focused on while as Polytheism is just believing in them?
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« Reply #3: July 12, 2010, 12:36:01 pm »

So Reconstructionalism is when you follow the culture and worship the Gods/desses of the particular group you're focused on while as Polytheism is just believing in them?

Some people refer to themselves as "[Culture] polytheists" because while they are inclined to reconstruction, they do not believe that reproducing the ancient ways is possible and thus don't want to mislead people.

Some do so because they don't expect others to understand what "reconstructionist" means.

Some do so because, as you suggest, they are devoted to a particular pantheon but their practices are more nebulous or still in development.
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« Reply #4: July 12, 2010, 12:43:53 pm »

Some people refer to themselves as "[Culture] polytheists" because while they are inclined to reconstruction, they do not believe that reproducing the ancient ways is possible and thus don't want to mislead people.

Some do so because they don't expect others to understand what "reconstructionist" means.

Some do so because, as you suggest, they are devoted to a particular pantheon but their practices are more nebulous or still in development.


So if I believed and worshiped the Celtic Gods/desses but didn't try to reproduce the ancient ways I'd be a Celtic Polytheist?
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« Reply #5: July 12, 2010, 12:47:36 pm »

So if I believed and worshiped the Celtic Gods/desses but didn't try to reproduce the ancient ways I'd be a Celtic Polytheist?

Of some flavor, yes.  That would be one accurate way of referring to yourself.
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« Reply #6: July 12, 2010, 12:54:26 pm »

Of some flavor, yes.  That would be one accurate way of referring to yourself.


Okay that makes sense.
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« Reply #7: July 12, 2010, 01:05:27 pm »

So if I believed and worshiped the Celtic Gods/desses but didn't try to reproduce the ancient ways I'd be a Celtic Polytheist?

Yes.

Just to reiterate what Star and Darkhawk said, while Celtic Recons do attempt to worship the ancient Celtic gods with practices that are as close as possible to the ways in which the Iron or Bronze Age Celts worshiped them, it's almost impossible to do that.  The ancient Celts did not write much down.  They preferred to transfer knowledge in spoken form -- through poems, songs, stories, etc.  

In some other cultural reconstructionisms, like Hellenic (Greek), a lot of information about the religion was written down and survives.  So those recons have a lot of info on which to base their practices.  They still have to make adaptations, though for various reasons.  For example, our current society frowns on animal or human sacrifice.  So someone reconstructing an ancient religion that included that kind of sacrifice would have to find another way to meet that need.

Since we know very little for sure about how the Celts worshiped (or did anything else, really), CRs have to rely on other kinds of information to sort of fill in the gaps.  So they look at how other, closely related cultures did things.  They look at info written by people who were alive in the same time period but who were from a different culture.  They look at archeological clues.  Things like that.

I just wanted to flesh out a little more what the challenges are to Celtic Reconstructionism, so you'd have a better idea of what people are doing.

Again, I strongly recommend that you read the CR FAQ.  It's very good at explaining what CR is and what CRs do.  It will help you understand if you want to explore a recon approach.  Even if you decide you don't, the reading list at the end of the FAQ is very comprehensive and will give you some idea of the kinds of reading you might want to do to learn more about the Celtic god/desses.

Also, there are a number of people working on Celtic paths of various kinds here at TC.  So if you have more specific questions, we'll try to answer them.  Be aware that we approach Celtic polytheism in a variety of ways, though.  There are people here who are strict recons, Celtic Wiccans, etc.  Each has a different perspective.  As I mentioned in the other thread, I'm not a strict recon.  My "practice" is completely focused on Brighid.  I believe in the other god/desses, but don't actively worship them.  Other people do honor more than one god/dess, or the entire pantheon.

You'll have to figure out what works for you.  We can help you with some of your questions, but you'll still need to do a fair bit of research and thinking to work it all out for yourself.

I hope this makes some sense.   Cheesy
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« Reply #8: July 12, 2010, 01:13:04 pm »

Yes.

Just to reiterate what Star and Darkhawk said, while Celtic Recons do attempt to worship the ancient Celtic gods with practices that are as close as possible to the ways in which the Iron or Bronze Age Celts worshiped them, it's almost impossible to do that.  The ancient Celts did not write much down.  They preferred to transfer knowledge in spoken form -- through poems, songs, stories, etc.  

In some other cultural reconstructionisms, like Hellenic (Greek), a lot of information about the religion was written down and survives.  So those recons have a lot of info on which to base their practices.  They still have to make adaptations, though for various reasons.  For example, our current society frowns on animal or human sacrifice.  So someone reconstructing an ancient religion that included that kind of sacrifice would have to find another way to meet that need.

Since we know very little for sure about how the Celts worshiped (or did anything else, really), CRs have to rely on other kinds of information to sort of fill in the gaps.  So they look at how other, closely related cultures did things.  They look at info written by people who were alive in the same time period but who were from a different culture.  They look at archeological clues.  Things like that.

I just wanted to flesh out a little more what the challenges are to Celtic Reconstructionism, so you'd have a better idea of what people are doing.

Again, I strongly recommend that you read the CR FAQ.  It's very good at explaining what CR is and what CRs do.  It will help you understand if you want to explore a recon approach.  Even if you decide you don't, the reading list at the end of the FAQ is very comprehensive and will give you some idea of the kinds of reading you might want to do to learn more about the Celtic god/desses.

Also, there are a number of people working on Celtic paths of various kinds here at TC.  So if you have more specific questions, we'll try to answer them.  Be aware that we approach Celtic polytheism in a variety of ways, though.  There are people here who are strict recons, Celtic Wiccans, etc.  Each has a different perspective.  As I mentioned in the other thread, I'm not a strict recon.  My "practice" is completely focused on Brighid.  I believe in the other god/desses, but don't actively worship them.  Other people do honor more than one god/dess, or the entire pantheon.

You'll have to figure out what works for you.  We can help you with some of your questions, but you'll still need to do a fair bit of research and thinking to work it all out for yourself.

I hope this makes some sense.   Cheesy


It makes sense. I'll do some research about the whole thing and read the FAQ. As of right now from what I've learned I think I'm swaying more to the Celtic Polytheism side than the CR but I'm not going to confirm yet until I read more about both. Hopefully I can find some reliable resources since my local library has absolutly nothing about this stuff.
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« Reply #9: July 12, 2010, 01:17:37 pm »


It makes sense. I'll do some research about the whole thing and read the FAQ. As of right now from what I've learned I think I'm swaying more to the Celtic Polytheism side than the CR but I'm not going to confirm yet until I read more about both. Hopefully I can find some reliable resources since my local library has absolutly nothing about this stuff.

Something else to just keep in mind - there's no hurry to pick one and be done.  You've got as much time as you need to explore and figure out what it is you really believe.  And if you pick a path and decide later it's not the right one for you, you can change it.

Individual religions have rules, but there aren't any rules about which one you have to be or how you get there. Smiley  Take your time, look around, and RELAX.  I'm 33 and after having actively searched for about ten years, I gave up and started writing my own.  You don't have to make a decision right now - and you don't have to stick to the decision if you make one and don't like it anymore.
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« Reply #10: July 12, 2010, 01:31:28 pm »

Something else to just keep in mind - there's no hurry to pick one and be done.  You've got as much time as you need to explore and figure out what it is you really believe.  And if you pick a path and decide later it's not the right one for you, you can change it.

Individual religions have rules, but there aren't any rules about which one you have to be or how you get there. Smiley  Take your time, look around, and RELAX.  I'm 33 and after having actively searched for about ten years, I gave up and started writing my own.  You don't have to make a decision right now - and you don't have to stick to the decision if you make one and don't like it anymore.

You're right, at least I know what Deities I believe in. It's a start. I should go about this in my own pace(Which happens to be a slow one unfortunatly.)
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« Reply #11: July 12, 2010, 01:32:19 pm »

Something else to just keep in mind - there's no hurry to pick one and be done.  You've got as much time as you need to explore and figure out what it is you really believe.  And if you pick a path and decide later it's not the right one for you, you can change it.

Shadow makes a great point.  If you polled TC members, I think you'd probably find that most of us have come to our current paths after trying one or (many) more others.  

For many people, finding the right spiritual path is a process.  It evolves over time.  Very few people who are currently pagan grew up pagan for the simple reason that pagan religions are still very much in the minority.  So we have necessarily had to evaluate various religions in order to get to some form of paganism.

There's absolutely no hurry to do that.  Take your time.  Read a lot.  Discuss ideas.  Eventually, you'll begin to be drawn to a particular path.

I think you're making a great start with the research you're doing now and the questions you're asking.  Keep it up, and you'll definitely be on the right track.   Cheesy
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« Reply #12: July 12, 2010, 01:43:02 pm »

Shadow makes a great point.  If you polled TC members, I think you'd probably find that most of us have come to our current paths after trying one or (many) more others.  

For many people, finding the right spiritual path is a process.  It evolves over time.  Very few people who are currently pagan grew up pagan for the simple reason that pagan religions are still very much in the minority.  So we have necessarily had to evaluate various religions in order to get to some form of paganism.

There's absolutely no hurry to do that.  Take your time.  Read a lot.  Discuss ideas.  Eventually, you'll begin to be drawn to a particular path.

I think you're making a great start with the research you're doing now and the questions you're asking.  Keep it up, and you'll definitely be on the right track.   Cheesy

Yes I know what you mean about a spiritual path evolving over time. And I will read a lot. I like reading.  Smiley and thanks again for the great advice both of you.
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« Reply #13: July 12, 2010, 01:47:40 pm »

If you polled TC members, I think you'd probably find that most of us have come to our current paths after trying one or (many) more others.  

You know, that sounds like an interesting survey.  ::looks around::  Anyone wanna start the thread?...  I'm not sure it'll organize neatly into an actual poll, but maybe a couple of questions for free answer or something...
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« Reply #14: July 12, 2010, 01:49:06 pm »

You know, that sounds like an interesting survey.  ::looks around::  Anyone wanna start the thread?...  I'm not sure it'll organize neatly into an actual poll, but maybe a couple of questions for free answer or something...

I'll give it a whirl, I used to have a threadspinner hat around here somewhere.
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