If, like Tiro and I, you’re a reconstructionist, we have a discussion point for you. Actually it’s not one exclusively for reconstructionists, but it’s perhaps most relevant to them. Chances are that your gods once walked this world and were a daily part of ordinary lives. Back then, certain values and practices were accepted and encouraged as the proper and right way to conduct yourself. As a reconstructionist, you will probably try to emulate that style of living, and reflect those values as closely as you can.
For example, the ancient Norse put great store in the ultimate goal of an honourable death in battle, which they hoped would ensure that they came to the favourable attention of Odin All-Father. There are relatively few opportunities for such an end in the modern world, and society would likely frown at someone who expressed an ambition like that. The Egyptians would be called to account when Ma’at, the Goddess of Justice, weighed their heart against a feather. If the heart was lighter, indicating purity, the dead spirit was permitted into the Duat, the Field of Reeds; and there’s the innards-in-bottles thing from the Book of the Dead: not the sort of thing your modern undertaker would likely entertain. The Romans followed a strictly prescribed religious practice, ordained by the state and supervised by a complex network of priests and temples. In particular, the latter revolved around sacrifice to the gods – mostly blood sacrifice of animals; which is a little tricky in modern western society…
Thing is, the world has changed since their peak of popularity; as the human race, we have developed technology. created political borders and hold the ability to use a thousand gadgets which we take for granted, such as a telephone, train, computer, car, and so on. We work and pay tax — nothing new — but we also pay National Insurance, and probably into a pension.
So, having been called by a particular pantheon or deity, which existed before the modern world, how do you reconcile this difference in your own life?
- Understand the gods as unchanging eternals — they will forever uphold the values and practices with which they are associated;
- Understand that the world has changed and so the gods — being the essence of the world — have adapted to this new place? With people still praising them, the gods will survive and adapt. The values are the same; the methods by which they are achieved have changed.
To what extent do you see your reconstructed religion as separate from the state to which it belonged? Can you properly reconstruct as a lone individual without the benefit of a state infrastructure? If you are in touch with others who hold the same belief, do you research and grow in knowledge together? If the religion you follow once was indifferent to, or actively hated, another, do you adopt that value or replace it with a tolerant view?
And this applies to you Druids, too; and Wiccans, for that matter. However accurately modern Druidry might reflect the practices of the pre-Christian Europeans, changes have happened. Society isn’t what it was. It doesn’t necessarily appreciate the role of the Druid as the ancients would have. And Wicca, too, however well it might reflect the practice of European rural witchcraft, has dealt with significant shifts in social outlook even since Gardner’s time.
What do you think? How do you deal with this? Answers on a piece of batter pudding to anybody but us*. Goodnight.
* All right: we want your answers. But sometimes there are Goons and you just can’t help yourself...