Polytheism: After Reconstructionism

For Western Polytheists, a lot of their time is spent trying to reconstruct the Polytheism of the ancients. They are trying to revive, reconstruct, and modernize these religions, that were taken from their ancestors. Usually, this endeavor requires a lot of research and reading. The result is that the person’s Polytheism becomes bound up in a dry intellectual tradition. The lore becomes more important than personal gnosis.

At “Axe and Plough,” Marc discusses “Post-Recon? What Happens Next.” For what comes “next,” he introduces the concepts of “renewal, restitutions, and restoration.” His aim is to have a “living breathing religion.” My interpretation of Marc’s terms is as follows. “Renewal” means to embrace the living traditions of the ancients such as piety. “Restitution” is resolving the neglect that humans have done in the cosmic ecological (Note 1) system that they are a part of. “Restoration” is the act of recreating the ancient religion for modern times. Using these concepts, a person can develop a methodology to revive their “living” Polytheisms.

His post can be found here: https://axeandplough.com/2020/05/23/post-recon-what-happens-next/

“The Soul of a Pilgrim” by Christine Valters Paintner offers suggestions on how to do this. Paintner, a Lay Benedictine and Abbess of the Abby of the Arts, writes for a Christian audience but her advice can be applied to Polytheists. In her writing, she presents eight stages of pilgrimage from “hearing the call” to “coming home.” (Note 2)

We Polytheists have responded to the call of the Gods. Our inner fires are lit as we try to relearn and recreate the Polytheism of our Ancestors. However, we do not have a map except for scraps of lore. “Reconstruction” focuses on creating a coherent map out of the scraps. To do this, Paintner advises relinquishing control, as you cross the threshold starting your journey. Then trust that the flow of greater currents will carry you home. For me, it is the direction of the Gods. When I feel lost, I consult the Ancestors and follow their direction.

While on the pilgrimage, Paintner stresses daily practice. For Polytheists recreating their religion, devotions act as touchstones that will sustain them. What offers structure to deepen our faith are the rituals and practices of our traditions.

In her writing, Paintner warns against trying to domesticate the Sacred into prayers that follow our own rules. That is, in my opinion, the problem with modern Paganism. By placing the Gods into “teacups,” people expect Them to be genteel and delicate. In so doing, the Gods become housebroken and companionable to Pagans. This is how humans separate themselves from the ecological system of the cosmos.

In her book, “Earth: Our Original Monastery,” Christine Valters Paintner explains that ecosystem. There are three circles, in her opinion. The egoic circle refers to a person’s private feelings. The next, the ecological circle is the bridge from the inner to the outer worlds. The third circle, the cosmological is where everything and everyone embrace in a sense of transcendence. Now, everything is intertwined and interwoven with everyone.

By re-entering the ecosystem, we become ready to be broken open and moved beyond our safe places. The Holy cannot be tamed. By remaining separate from the Cosmos, we can pretend that our Gods are domesticated. Then we can never encounter the Unknown Gods in their awful mysteries. Rejoining plunges us into the Great Unknowing.

Sannion (House of Vines) has discussed how he intends to construct the Starry Bear Tradition. Through personal gnosis and research, he is tracing how certain Gods such as Odin move through multiple worlds, times, and realities. Searching folk traditions and myths, he is focused on which piece fits into making the puzzle, “whose finished picture has been lost.” By beginning again, Sannion embraces the unknown on his way home to the Starry Bear Gods.

As for me, I am in the throes of an oddly-eclectic devotion. My main focus is Roman and Mesopotamian Gods. However, I have altars to Anubis, Hekate, The Morrigan, and the Gods of Canaan. I also have altars to the Ancestors, the Prehistoric Dead and the Norse Gods. I have no idea where this is going but I am on my way.

Notes:
Note 1. This ecosystem consists of Gods, Spirits, the Dead, Ancestors, humans and the Others (elves, dwarfs, etc.).

Note 2. The Eight Stages are:
Hearing the Call and Responding
Packing Lightly
Crossing the Threshold
Make the Way by Walking
Being Uncomfortable
Beginning Again
Embracing the Unknown
Coming Home

2 thoughts on “Polytheism: After Reconstructionism

  1. Pingback: Polytheism: After Reconstructionism – For Daughters of the Goddess

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