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Author Topic: The "Reformed" Moniker?  (Read 10670 times)
CaelumRainieri
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« Topic Start: August 24, 2007, 02:34:58 pm »

As an Aztec Reconstructionist, I've had my share of heated exchanges with other Recons of various stripes over what the term means, and yet this is the first time that I've seen the qualifying term "Reformed" added to "Reconstructionist". I'm curious as to why you felt that was necessary? Isn't reconstructing an ancient religion a de facto "reformed" undertaking since in almost all cases it's impossible to know all of the original practices?

Additionally, I note that this SIG's description says "does attempt to strictly reconstruct ancient practices." whereas the Reformed Kemeticism SIG's description says "does not attempt to strictly reconstruct ancient practices."

Am I reading that correctly or is the word "not" simply missing from your SIG's description?
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« Reply #1: August 24, 2007, 03:03:22 pm »

As an Aztec Reconstructionist, I've had my share of heated exchanges with other Recons of various stripes over what the term means, and yet this is the first time that I've seen the qualifying term "Reformed" added to "Reconstructionist".

The 'reformed' groups are starting from the principle that strict reconstruction is not a plausible thing in the world as it is, for various reasons, and thus endeavouring to work with things that are more plausible.   The phrasing is Randall's, as is likely the 'not' issue, as he misses them a lot.

I came up with the concept of neo-reconstructionism a while before Randall posted his reformed Hellenism proposal, because my opinion is that the concept of Nisut is completely broken in the modern era, and thus something that retains some of the essential theological principles but recasts the issue significantly needed to be done to produce working results.  The reconstructionist groups all have a Nisut, a priest functioning as a Nisut, or a group of priests functioning as a Nisut; all of these, to my observation, produce the same sorts of failures.

The Celts have the problem of inadequate materials for doing reconstruction well -- my partner who has CR inclinations does not think that anything other than a neo-recon approach is possible.  I forget all of Randall's issues which went into reformed Hellenism (you may be able to find that in the Ta Hiera group), but one was the lack of large Hellenic cities to do major festivals, which completely recasts the religion (and is also an issue for Egyptian and Roman groups).
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« Reply #2: August 24, 2007, 04:01:58 pm »

The Celts have the problem of inadequate materials for doing reconstruction well -- my partner who has CR inclinations does not think that anything other than a neo-recon approach is possible.  I forget all of Randall's issues which went into reformed Hellenism (you may be able to find that in the Ta Hiera group), but one was the lack of large Hellenic cities to do major festivals, which completely recasts the religion (and is also an issue for Egyptian and Roman groups).

Aztec Reconstructionism has many of the same problems (i.e., almost all pre-Colonial primary source material was destroyed, and all post-Colonial material has to be re-interpreted in light of the Spanish Christian gloss). Clearly, we cannot continue the old forms of worship which included human sacrifice. So in reality, how much are we reconstructing? On the other hand, Reconstructionism is a relatively new term when it comes to pagan religions so most of these limits are inherent for any Reconstruction effort. What's the distinction then between Reconstruction and Neo- or Reformed- Reconstruction? It seems like there is none!

I've actually written a paper on this that I've just submitted for publication here at The Cauldron entitled "The Reconstructionist's Dilemma" where I address 3 primary problems with every Reconstructionist effort: (1) Lack of primary source material, (2) Issues of Translation, and (3) The Observer Effect.

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« Reply #3: August 24, 2007, 04:49:34 pm »

The 'reformed' groups are starting from the principle that strict reconstruction is not a plausible thing in the world as it is, for various reasons, and thus endeavouring to work with things that are more plausible.   The phrasing is Randall's, as is likely the 'not' issue, as he misses them a lot.

I suspect it got lost in the setup for this SIG. As I can't proofread, I'd never notice. Sad

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The Celts have the problem of inadequate materials for doing reconstruction well -- my partner who has CR inclinations does not think that anything other than a neo-recon approach is possible.  I forget all of Randall's issues which went into reformed Hellenism (you may be able to find that in the Ta Hiera group), but one was the lack of large Hellenic cities to do major festivals, which completely recasts the religion (and is also an issue for Egyptian and Roman groups).

Here's a link to the post and discussion you mention: Is It Time For a "Reformed" Hellenic Paganism?
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« Reply #4: August 28, 2007, 09:38:11 pm »

As an Aztec Reconstructionist, I've had my share of heated exchanges with other Recons of various stripes over what the term means, and yet this is the first time that I've seen the qualifying term "Reformed" added to "Reconstructionist".

I didn't start the SIG, so take my response as the personal interjection it is...

I believe the "reformed" is in there to distinguish what we're doing from other attempts at CR. From what I've seen of CR, they can be rather hostile to personal gnosis (correct me if I'm wrong, someone...) and what we're doing here is accepting of personal gnosis as long as it doesn't outright contradict known facets of Celtic paths (such as claiming the Morrighan is a loving mother goddess). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, y'all... I've not been paying as much attention to my religious stuff as I should have been the last few months and might be missing something.

Karen
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Aster Breo
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« Reply #5: August 30, 2007, 12:06:10 am »

I didn't start the SIG, so take my response as the personal interjection it is...

I believe the "reformed" is in there to distinguish what we're doing from other attempts at CR. From what I've seen of CR, they can be rather hostile to personal gnosis (correct me if I'm wrong, someone...) and what we're doing here is accepting of personal gnosis as long as it doesn't outright contradict known facets of Celtic paths (such as claiming the Morrighan is a loving mother goddess). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, y'all... I've not been paying as much attention to my religious stuff as I should have been the last few months and might be missing something.

Karen

I think this is a pretty accurate explanation.  The "reformed" is meant to differentiate our disccussions here at TC from other CR groups and conversations, many of which are more closely tied to scholarly research.
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« Reply #6: September 15, 2007, 11:59:28 am »

I didn't start the SIG, so take my response as the personal interjection it is...

I believe the "reformed" is in there to distinguish what we're doing from other attempts at CR. From what I've seen of CR, they can be rather hostile to personal gnosis (correct me if I'm wrong, someone...) and what we're doing here is accepting of personal gnosis as long as it doesn't outright contradict known facets of Celtic paths (such as claiming the Morrighan is a loving mother goddess). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, y'all... I've not been paying as much attention to my religious stuff as I should have been the last few months and might be missing something.

Karen

I don't think it's so much as hostility towards personal gnosis but it's the fact that it's just that -- personal gnosis and not fact or true for everyone else.

I've been reading through the threads on this board (which I've never even seen before. I thought it was new but I see threads dating from months ago?) and I honestly don't see much of a difference between reformed and reconstruction. Could someone please provide me with a clear-cut explanation of the differences?
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« Reply #7: September 15, 2007, 05:09:44 pm »

I honestly don't see much of a difference between reformed and reconstruction. Could someone please provide me with a clear-cut explanation of the differences?

It's quite possible that "reformed" is a somewhat misleading word in this context.  The idea behind this SIG is that there are Celtic Recon groups out there that are not hospitable to an approach that is less than completely grounded in the archeological record, the whole archeological record, and only the archeological record.

Nobody here is discounting that as a viable option for folks.  However, some people who are CR-ish are less inclined toward the scholarly extreme, and more inclined to be a bit more relaxed about their reconstructionism.  For those people, they might not have time to learn Old Irish and read all the myths in their original form or something like that, but are quite willing to read the books written by the CRs who HAVE been able to do that sort of difficult primary research.

For example, I personally, do not speak Irish or any other Celtic language.  Nor do I think it's likely that I will ever learn more than a few phrases -- I'm terrible at languages and I simply don't have the time to devote to trying to overcome my non-giftedness in that arena.  Nor am I an archeologist or an historian.  I have never been to Ireland.

However, I have no doubt in my mind that Brighid has called me to Her service -- a small part of which is to learn what I can about Ireland's ancient history and that of other Celtic areas.  A much larger part is to learn what I can about Her and what it meant to be Her dedicant 2000 years ago and what it means today.  Another part is to share what I have learned about Her -- which is the area in which I've focused my own personal research. The biggest part is to live my life in a way that will please Her.

I have some practices that are reconstructionist (keeping Her flame, f'ex), and others that are of my own inspiration.  I believe each is valid, and I'm very clear in my understanding of which is which.

However, I do not have any relationships with any of the other Celtic deities -- at Brighid's direction.  But I *am* learning the Norse trance technique of oracular seidh -- also at Her direction.

Am I a CR?  Depends on the definition.  But I don't really care anymore.  I doubt that I would pass muster with some of the CRs I've met IRL and online who are much more stringent about academic research.  As it happens, I actually *am* part of several online CR communities (under a different screen name), and I've seen the "I'm more recon than you" attitude play out repeatedly. 

Please understand that I am NOT saying that all CRs are "holier than thou" -- in fact, I believe most of the ones I have contact with are extremely happy to share information with those of us who can't do that primary research.  I think the CR community as a whole is getting markedly better about being more inclusive and more user-friendly.

So, the idea behind this SIG is to have a place here at the Cauldron where we can discuss Celtic-based spirituality, without feeling like we're being dissed for not being CR enough.  Possibly "reformed" was a bad word choice -- hence the very long thread in which we discussed (and never reached a conclusion on) a better name.   Cheesy

Does that make any more sense?
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« Reply #8: September 15, 2007, 05:21:40 pm »

I've been reading through the threads on this board (which I've never even seen before. I thought it was new but I see threads dating from months ago?) and I honestly don't see much of a difference between reformed and reconstruction. Could someone please provide me with a clear-cut explanation of the differences?

You might want to see this post. Is It Time For a "Reformed" Hellenic Paganism?, on our special topics board as it bis what sparked all the "reformed" boards.
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« Reply #9: September 15, 2007, 05:25:34 pm »


Does that make any more sense?

Yes, thank you very much for your informative and well-written response =).

However, I don't think creating a whole other religious movement is necessary simply because a few CR groups tend to be historically strict or unwelcoming. Couldn't you have just created a community that emphasizes personal spirituality and a more friendly approach?
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« Reply #10: September 15, 2007, 05:35:52 pm »

You might want to see this post. Is It Time For a "Reformed" Hellenic Paganism?, on our special topics board as it bis what sparked all the "reformed" boards.

Okay, that definitely helps clear the sky now.

I've been a reconstructionist/traditionalist for about three years now, and I'm a member of various CR communities but never have I encountered the idea of reconstructing ancient society or ancient societal functions such as Ard-Ri or Pharoh. For me, reconstruction is about accurately yet modernly reviving the religious practices of pre-Christian Ireland (and as a traditionalist, I also incorporate modern surviving traditions) and NOT about reviving Iron Age society or government. Am I missing something?
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« Reply #11: September 15, 2007, 05:47:29 pm »

I've been a reconstructionist/traditionalist for about three years now, and I'm a member of various CR communities but never have I encountered the idea of reconstructing ancient society or ancient societal functions such as Ard-Ri or Pharoh. For me, reconstruction is about accurately yet modernly reviving the religious practices of pre-Christian Ireland (and as a traditionalist, I also incorporate modern surviving traditions) and NOT about reviving Iron Age society or government. Am I missing something?

What I know about the Celts could be put on a few sheets of paper in large type, so I can't say if Celtic recon has the same problem that the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian religions do. These were urban cultures with strong governments that supported their respective religions. To recreate a major festival in one of these religions accurately, you need a lot of people, temples, priests to serve those temples and a lot of money and time. Without the state support the religion and its temples and festivals, this is almost impossible to accurately recreate today.  Not because you need to recreate the state and culture, but because you need the effects: -- even if it is just requiring businesses to give all employees 50-60 days a year off for the festivals, setting the economy where one family member can stay home so it is safe to keep a fire burning 24/7 etc.
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« Reply #12: September 15, 2007, 06:27:23 pm »

However, I don't think creating a whole other religious movement is necessary simply because a few CR groups tend to be historically strict or unwelcoming. Couldn't you have just created a community that emphasizes personal spirituality and a more friendly approach?

I don't think we ever intended to create a religious movement.  This was meant as a Special Interest Group within the Cauldron community, not something that we ever really thought would become a movement.

I think what we *did* do was try to create a SIG that emphasizes personal spirituality *within* a Celtic context.
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« Reply #13: September 15, 2007, 06:33:42 pm »

What I know about the Celts could be put on a few sheets of paper in large type, so I can't say if Celtic recon has the same problem that the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian religions do. These were urban cultures with strong governments that supported their respective religions. To recreate a major festival in one of these religions accurately, you need a lot of people, temples, priests to serve those temples and a lot of money and time. Without the state support the religion and its temples and festivals, this is almost impossible to accurately recreate today.  Not because you need to recreate the state and culture, but because you need the effects: -- even if it is just requiring businesses to give all employees 50-60 days a year off for the festivals, setting the economy where one family member can stay home so it is safe to keep a fire burning 24/7 etc.

It's actually a bit of a different problem with CR, as I tried to capture in the initial rules for the SIG.  There is very little that is actually known about how the ancient Celts practiced their (probably quite varied) religions. 

Unlike the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian societies, in which much was written about religious practices -- and that writing survives -- the Celts were mostly non-literate, relying on oral teaching and memory.  Virtually everything we do know about their religious practices comes from people who were outside the society (traders, conquerors, etc.) who commented on their practices, or on what little can be gleaned from the archeological record.

This makes being a strict Celtic recon extremely difficult, as so much is unknown about what rites existed, f'ex, and how they were carried out.
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« Reply #14: September 15, 2007, 06:58:37 pm »

I don't think we ever intended to create a religious movement.  This was meant as a Special Interest Group within the Cauldron community, not something that we ever really thought would become a movement.

I think what we *did* do was try to create a SIG that emphasizes personal spirituality *within* a Celtic context.

Oh, I was under the impression that you were attempting to create a different religious tradition. A thread on page two discussed the foundations and core beliefs and I assumed that's what you're doing. I apologize.
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