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Thread: Reconstructionism's Role in Modern Heathenry

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    Reconstructionism's Role in Modern Heathenry

    Reconstructionism's Role in Modern Heathenry by Bil Linzie 07.13.07


    Abstract

    Reconstructionism is a term which has become very common among modern heathens over the past decade. This short article explains the rationale behind the philosophical approach to studying ancient heathenry and its role in the ongoing development of modern heathenry. In spite of its recent popularity, it has limitations which are inherent. These limits when built into experimental design can function as a prophylactic feature preventing the revitalization of heathenry from becoming mixed with the various strains of 'alternative religions' while assuring that modern heathenry continues to develop in a manner consistent with the moral and ethics of modern culture.
    :Überschöpfung:



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    These limits when built into experimental design can function as a prophylactic feature preventing the revitalization of heathenry from becoming mixed with the various strains of 'alternative religions' while assuring that modern heathenry continues to develop in a manner consistent with the moral and ethics of modern culture.
    And this is why "reconstructionism" will ultimately fail.
    To practice magic is to be a quack; to know magic is to be a sage. - Eliphas Lévi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter
    And this is why "reconstructionism" will ultimately fail.
    Please elaborate.
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Quote Originally Posted by velvet View Post
    Please elaborate.
    What is there to elaborate?

    There is too little that is truly authentic or Traditional within modern Reconstructionist religious ideas for them to ever succeed at reconstructing anything.

    Reconstructionism relies upon the socially- and culturally-driven assumptions of modern historians and the unreliable records of Christian scribes for its foundations.

    To sum it up nicely...
    Quote Originally Posted by Julius Evola, "The Misunderstandings of the New Paganism"
    One should consider, then, that "paganism" is a fundamentally tendentious and artificial concept that scarcely corresponds to the historical reality of what the pre-Christian world always was in its normal manifestations, apart from a few decadent elements and aspects that derived from the degenerate remains of older cultures.

    Once we are clear about this, we come today to a paradoxical realization: that this imaginary paganism that never existed, but was invented by Christian apologists, is now serving as the starting-point for certain so-called pagan circles, and is thus threatening for the first time in history to become a reality--no more and no less than that.
    To practice magic is to be a quack; to know magic is to be a sage. - Eliphas Lévi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter
    What is there to elaborate?
    The reasoning for this statement

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter
    There is too little that is truly authentic or Traditional within modern Reconstructionist religious ideas for them to ever succeed at reconstructing anything.
    Then the question begs asking, what you are refering to in your profile with "Politics: radical traditionalist / Religion: Arya-Sophia"?

    What is the "tradition" you are adhering to, where did you took it from, how did you build your "religion", on what sources?

    Is this Arya-Sophia the early Catholic branche, the Aryosophie of Steiner and Blavatsky or is this your very own fantasy product?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter
    Reconstructionism relies upon the socially- and culturally-driven assumptions of modern historians and the unreliable records of Christian scribes for its foundations.
    I guess you didnt even look into that pdf, because then you would have known that the author critisizes exactly that as well. This certainly was the case in the beginning of reconstructionism, but the very most people engaging in that realised these shortcomings and employ other methods now.

    And what I really do appreciate about serious constructionism is that "gaps" arent blindly filled by some New Age nonsense or from other religions. If there's gap, there's a gap, and methinks this is the only serious approach one can take when trying to reconstruct the worldview of ancient Germanics.
    Ein Leben ist nichts, deine Sprosse sind alles
    Aller Sturm nimmt nichts, weil dein Wurzelgriff zu stark ist
    und endet meine Frist, weiss ich dass du noch da bist
    Gefürchtet von der Zeit, mein Baum, mein Stamm in Ewigkeit

    my signature

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter View Post
    What is there to elaborate?
    Although there is a strong tendency among modern heathens to wrongly interpret some of the aspects of our native heritage, articles like these serve the purpose to advocate a proper direction when dealing with ancestral culture.
    It's a different side of the story that through time it has been inevitably influenced by some new-age hippie movements, turning it into the shape we know today, a clown show for mystic idiots.
    The sources are still available, germanic folk culture still exists so most importantly a proper reinterpretation of these aspects what is truly missing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter View Post
    There is too little that is truly authentic or Traditional within modern Reconstructionist religious ideas for them to ever succeed at reconstructing anything.
    Wrong. Reconstructionism implies that the sources are limited, therefore the situation is not ideal, that's why an objective reconstructionist approach is needed, which btw is not a religious study based on religious ideas.
    :Überschöpfung:



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    Quote Originally Posted by Hrodnand View Post
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter
    There is too little that is truly authentic or Traditional within modern Reconstructionist religious ideas for them to ever succeed at reconstructing anything.

    Wrong. Reconstructionism implies that the sources are limited, therefore the situation is not ideal, that's why an objective reconstructionist approach is needed, which btw is not a religious study based on religious ideas.
    Correct on both counts. Reconstructionism has little to do with the folkway and much more to do with the worldview of the time. By reconstructing the worldview, running the 'test worldview' through the experiments provided by experiential anthropology and then resetting the 'test worldview,' the info gained therefrom is immense and is the major reason why Germanistik has grown so much in the past 35 yrs.

    Reconstructionism has provided the woldview, ie, the logic for functioning in and perception of the world, which were the foundations for the various Germanic folkways in the first place. Reconstructionism has provided modern heathenry with many corrections in philosophy/ thought processes over the past 20 yrs. and has been able to demonstrate empirically the roots of clap-trap such as rune reading, reincarnation, the hammer-rite, the invasion of the wiccan calendar into heathenry, etc. Although actual rites will never be reconstructed, we now know that the rites themselves did not resemble those of the Catholic Church, Wicca, or even shamanism.

    Granted, reconstructionism does have it's shortcomings; however, it has 'cleaned up' a lot of BS dragged into heathenry over the years.

    Re: the quip about that "there is too little that is truly authentic or Traditional within modern Reconstructionist religious ideas for them to ever succeed at reconstructing anything": this is utter nonsense. The very first good experiment was to reconstruct a viking longship to test its abilities on the open sea (with ballast) and the ability for them to travel quickly up rivers with ca 14" draft by offing ballast. The experiments with steel-making, bows, swords, boats, the availability of natural gathered foods and what seasons, etc. have all gone to provide the modern researcher with information re how the viking age man perceived his world, regarded danger, regarded the seasons, regarded trade with foreigners, regarded handling oneself among other cultures, regarded economics and the rationale for taking up opprtunities --- ie, regarding the worldview that gave birth to the germanic religious views through the last centuries of heathenry as well as the influences on Christianity as it was imported/ accepted.

    lewwe woohl un faahr mit de Gedder,
    davidk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev. Jupiter View Post
    And this is why "reconstructionism" will ultimately fail.
    Nonsense. This is the reason why modern heathenry is succeeding and will probably outlast any approach taken prior to 1995.

    A reconstructionist's goal is to take 'an approach used by viking age man' and test to see if it is still viable in the modern era.

    Take something as simple as sourdough bread. Qu: Is it possible to work with pure sourdough bread given the the hectic schedules of modern, civilized man? An: Yup. If one sits down to figure out the time schedules. Qu: Is it possible to utilize viking age medicine in the modern era? An: Yup. I just saved a guy's life by utilizing purely the theories of Hippocrates and Galen in a modern setting. Qu: Is it possible to utilize the Germanic sense of honor in the modern era as first outlined in detail by Grönbech in the 30's? Yup. It works at both the community and the family level -- to the point where we now have a heathen congresswoman and a heathen councilman in the USA. Qu: Does reconstructionism help reduce the newage sewage in modern heathenry and help prevent heathenry from becoming another 'alternative religion'? An: Yup. It's done away with or severely dented rune-readings, the BS wiccan calendar as being heathen, the hammer-rite (by showing its history), the stupid 'glitzy rituals' by showing their origins. Qu: Does reconstructionism provide a grounding for historical heathenry (as opposed to 'newage heathenry)? An: Yup -- 'nuff said.

    Reconstructionism won't fail and hasn't failed for one reason: it's already put modern heathenry in line with historical fact. The only failures will be those who are unable to shift from the 1980s BS to the late 1990s.

    Although the heathenry of the 1980s was a foundation for modern heathenry, it was a joke compared to we now know of the Germanic religions of the viking age as well as those from 125 BCE - 500 CE.

    lewwe woohl un faahr mit de Gedder,
    davidk

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    Viable reconstruction as an -ism? you bet!

    If there's one thing I have noticed in my years as a professional archaeologist, it is that there's a world of difference from the air-conditioned office to the field operation. It is all well and good to ponder the various tenets and life-ways of our ancestors from an abstract perspective at the coffee shop, and quite another to one day decide, "I want to cultivate crops grown in Scandinavia the same way they (probably) did it in AD 800". First of all, while the archaebotanical evidence may give us an idea as to what was cultivated, we have no actual idea of how our ancestors accomplished it. That's because we weren't there at the time.

    The same things apply to our steady work to re-establish and 're-construct' the spiritual traditions and beliefs of our Germanic (& sic) ancestors. No, obviously we can't ever know exactly how it was, because we simply weren't there. But by taking the data that we do have, we can fumble around with the puzzle pieces until we come up with a pattern that innately makes a degree of sense when taken in context. One thing I have for certain learned; one will never truly understand what the world-view of our ancestors was until experiencing a similar type of world that would have been familiar to them. In other words, until one has walked several miles in the shoes of an Iron Age farmer/fisher/craftsman one cannot have any conception of what the cognitive associations are that make up the panorama of the world as viewed. Horticulture is a great facillitator of a basic relationship between an individual and his gods. Try managing a simple ten foot by ten foot (100 square feet) vegetable plot; use only hand tools as would have been available, carry water, figure out irrigation system to keep from having to carry water, weed by hand, no modern fertilizer or pesticide, realize need compost heap, set up compost heap, dig up worm-dirt & compost, screen it into cart, trundle over to garden plot, spade dirt into plot, work it in, wait until first rain, now wait day and a half after first rain for soil to be right for sowing, sow seeds, fight cats who think plot is now a new litter box, go into forest and cut cart load of withes and twigs, build wattle fence around plot to keep out cats, chase birds away, weed, water, PRAY, watch for new shoots, weed after can tell good plants from undesirables, repeat all this for three months, constantly (every day) gather mature/ripe fruits/seeds/grains. Every task spawns a dozen others. For those of you with a rural background, you already know all this.

    The point is, by engaging in this set of activities, you open up your mind to the same set of problems and difficulties as our prehistoric and historic ancestors. By immersing yourself in the process of solving them, you begin to see the wants and needs peculiar to making this little plot of plants not just produce food, but represent a complex relationship between the earth, you, and the forces that interact between. The trust in the gods to help you out rises in direct proportion to the amount of hard labour & energy you invest in it. Watching the miracle of emerging and growing life on a daily basis drives home just how manifest the relationship is between people and the divine. You watch the skies, check the position of the sun, note the smell of the air, feel the direction of the wind. These are all things which our ancestors saw as manifestations of the divine. In short, if we want to make the gods real for ourselves, then we have to voluntarily put ourselves in the position to interact with them on a very real basis.

    Reconstruction, ism or not, has no inherent bad connotation to it. Much like anything else, it is how it is understood and applied that really makes the difference. I am not advocating that everyone who feels that they are heathen (or whatever one wants to self-designate) must immediately emulate our ancestors in every way. As has been mentioned in several posts on this forum I have read lately; we don't live in the AD 900s anymore, we live in the 2000s. I think most of us agree that it is the principles and ideals for moral and ethical behaviour that are appealing, coupled with a sincere belief in the Aesir, Vanir, wights, and ancestors.

    Now, when we are reconstructing, there's always the danger of sub-consciously ad-libbing it the way we think it ought to have been instead of as it was. To an archaeologist, reconstructing is replicating as closely as possible, given the available data and materials, the way it was. My profession is justly guilty of injecting personal druthers into analogous interpretation on occasion, but on the whole the majority of us try hard to do our reconstructing, our ethnoarchaeology, honestly. I think that most heathens, based on the limited number I have actually met, do it honest, too.

    Modern heathenry, whatever that actually is beyond an ideological term, inherently utilizes reconstructionism to be what it is. While I personally consider myself an Asatruar, I do work at living a heathen lifestyle based on my best ongoing understanding of it. We're fortunate to have not only archaeological evidence to show us our ancestor's material culture, but a rich body of literature that gives us a lot of insight into the archaeological material. Scholars like Gronbech and Jones, for example, have done remarkable syntheses of available evidence to paint a reasonable panorama of what life than might have been like. But just like one needs to take the road of personal commitment in faith, one equally needs to personally experiment with the lifeway experience in order to gain better understanding.

    We can't recreate the past as it was, but we can reconstruct those aspects of it we want if we are willing to do the work to really understand it.

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    Balance

    Reconstruction of a the Teutonic Zeitgeist requires the ability to effectively balance historical research with the modern application of the mythology to spiritual practice.

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