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Divisions

There have been some divisions within the Hellenic recon community over the last...year or so? This isn't a bad thing at all, it means that folks are working on finding a specific way of worship that works for them, and giving more thought to what it really means to practice a reconstructionist faith.

The main division seems to be between those folks who want to stick quite strictly to a recreation of polis religion rather than individual cult activity, adhering as much as possible to what is known about ancient practice and with only minimal innovation, and those folks who have a more mystical or individual focus and/or a higher tolerance for or a greater perceived need for innovation.

Someone, I think, compared this to the main division within heathenry--folkish vs. non-folkish heathenry, and while there are some similarities, I'd hope that people aren't equating the two.

For one thing, heathenry also has the traditionalist vs. innovation division, and while there may be a very general tendency for the folkish to be traditionalist and the non-folkish to be woo-friendly, there are plenty of non-folkish traditionalists and even more folkish mystics.

For another, while the traditionalist/innovator division is the main one we see here in the US (because the majority of US Hellenics are not of Greek heritage, it has not been an issue), folkish Hellenism does exist--it's those people who resent non-Greeks practicing it at all. It may not be an issue that will be as pervasive within our community here, but it is out there.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
kyrene
Aug. 27th, 2004 05:16 pm (UTC)
And I seem to be in neither camp as you describe them--lol. I'm extremely strict about where I get my practices from, and I rarely innovate with the exception of things such as what to do for animal sacrifices and the like. I just happen to be a mystic, and am currently attempting to get some reconstructionist mystical practices going as far as that's concerned via research.

I understand both sides of the debate much better than I did before, and I think what I'm going to have to do is spell out these differences on my website very clearly. There are many ways to go about being a reconstructionist, and mine is one of many. For some I'm being too strict, and for others, I'm not being strict enough because I do have mystical practices regardless of how reconstructionist they are. They aren't the focus of my religion, but they're in there--and they were present in ancient times.

I'll be posting shortly some great quotes from Guthrie's book, who saw these divisions in ancient Hellenismos and commented on them. I think that they set a great precedent for those who are seeking various ways to practice reconstructionist Hellenism.
hearthstone
Aug. 27th, 2004 05:34 pm (UTC)
And I seem to be in neither camp as you describe them--lol.

Well, yeah, I gave extreme examples :). I think most people are somewhere in the mid-range.

I suspect that the main issue that the traditionalists have with mysticism is not its nature (since it clearly existed in period) but simply the lack of information on it.

If a description existed of what went on in the mysteries similar to those that exist of what happened during festivals, I think it would be different. You'd still have folks with no interest in it, even folks who objected to it, but it wouldn't be on the same basis, it would be more simply a difference of opinion on which legitimate focus to attempt to recreate.

I'm looking forward to hearing what you learn from Guthrie's book!
kyrene
Aug. 27th, 2004 05:44 pm (UTC)
Well, yeah, I gave extreme examples :). I think most people are somewhere in the mid-range.

*grins* Yeah. Most people I know are conservative or liberal leaning. I've been rapidly moving away from conservative towards more of an orthodox camp as I do more research and have more access to sources. I'm hoping to make that approach as accessible as possible from my website with enough details so that people who are more innovative can figure out how to make the practice more meaningful for them.

I suspect that the main issue that the traditionalists have with mysticism is not its nature (since it clearly existed in period) but simply the lack of information on it.

That and frankly, not everyone wants to be a mystic--they just want to pray and worship, and honor the gods in a more mainstream way. Which is completely fine! I know of many incredibly spiritual people who are by no means mystics.

There is enough information from what I've been studying to actually have a practice or series of practices. It's a lot harder to find than mainstream religion, but it's definitely out there. If there's any innovation to be had, it'll be taken from ancient sources and not from modern. I really want what I do to not have any modern stuff in it if I can help it. I'm very burnt out from trying various modern sources and finding it either unacceptable to my religion or simply incompatible.

The problem with mysticism is that much of the practice of mysticism you can't really call a practice. It just *happens*. It's the conditioning and preparation of a mystic that can be called the practice, whether that's meditation, a specialized diet, certain rituals or practices, or whatever.

Being a devotee of Apollo and Dionysos can have its ups and downs. ;)

If a description existed of what went on in the mysteries similar to those that exist of what happened during festivals, I think it would be different. You'd still have folks with no interest in it, even folks who objected to it, but it wouldn't be on the same basis, it would be more simply a difference of opinion on which legitimate focus to attempt to recreate.

Well, the mysteries is one aspect of mystical culture in Hellenismos, but isn't the only aspect (are you on my Hellenismos_theurgy list by any chance?)--and frankly right now I don't think that we have any shot of doing anything with the mysteries. Wait a few decades or something, I don't know. I think it's putting the cart before the horse, or something like that.


I'm looking forward to hearing what you learn from Guthrie's book!


I'll be posting it momentarily along with hashing out what is a good description of traditionalist/Homeric reconstructionism so that I can put it on my website and traditionialists will be happy with it. There are zillions of quotes in here, but I will choose the ones which seem the most apt in describing the practice they wish to have.
hearthstone
Aug. 27th, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)
That and frankly, not everyone wants to be a mystic--they just want to pray and worship, and honor the gods in a more mainstream way. Which is completely fine! I know of many incredibly spiritual people who are by no means mystics.

Yeah, it does seem like some folks see it as an either/or proposition, which is too bad. I do think that the mystic angle probably does add some complexity, and I think I have it easier than some other dual-faith folks who are mystics. :)
weofodthignen
Aug. 31st, 2004 01:37 am (UTC)
There are always exceptions, but since in folkish heathenry the appeal to legitimacy is via blood and leadership, folkish heathens by and large have a very limited appetite for scholarship and the traditions they actually hearken back to are those of the 70s and 80s when McNallen, Murray, et al. were making pronouncements on what was valid and what wasn't. So they draw on Rydberg but not on other scholars . . . and they lose patience pretty soon with the minutiæ of reconstruction, because they think the established modern traditions have authority, and they are impatient with hairsplitting on what that tradition regards as non-essential. (An example I care about as a scholar and a heathen is the meaning of ergi.)

Not that it matters much because your focus here is on Hellenism, and as you point out both divisions are present there as they are in heathenry, it's just the "folkish-universalist" one goes almost unnoticed.

Frith,
M
hearthstone
Aug. 31st, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
Oooh, that's a really good point! I was focusing on the "woo vs. no-woo" thing--most of the people who claim that the gods don't call people and so forth are folkish--but you're exactly right.
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