how should we respond to skeptics who say that it is impossible to hold a polytheistic belief system with scientific knowledge?
I mean, the ancient Greeks (and others) made huge advances in geometry, astronomy, architecture, mathematics, anthropology, transportation, medicine, civil engineering, and philosophy which in many cases continue to be influential today while holding polytheistic beliefs, so there’s that. If it’s good enough for the father of modern medicine, why shouldn’t it be good enough for me?
Plus, the sort of skeptics you’re referring to (I’ve known a few myself) probably see polytheism as outdated and ‘primitive’ which is incredibly ethnocentric to begin with considering there are plenty of modern (that is, not reconstructionist pagan but systems which have survived in an unbroken line throughout history) belief systems around the world which are polytheistic and which continue to thrive. Such beliefs are obviously still attractive and valuable to those who ascribe to them, regardless of what anyone else thinks. The implication that humanity will/has/must evolve/d beyond polytheism is pretty insulting and is the same kind of rhetoric used in attempts to forcibly assimilate and wipe out indigenous beliefs in many former colonies.
Besides, faith isn’t science. It can’t be proven, and that’s okay! It’s part of the process! The act of choosing to believe in something beyond yourself, something beautiful and unknowable and worthy of your attention and devotion, is itself a worthwhile endeavour and doesn’t require approval from anyone.
Considering the horrific past of marginalization, religious oppression, and blatant cultural appropriation between Christianity and Irish/Celtic paganism, wouldnt that mark paganism as a closed religion and practice? Considering the obliteration of most pre-Christian influenced traditional practice and cultural heritage, wouldnt blending multiple beliefs into the pagan lifestyle without proper respects being paid to the source of it all be considered continued cultural appropriation? -IVY
It sounds like you’re talking specifically about the Celtic paganisms rather than paganism as a whole, so I’m interpreting your question as, “Considering the horrific past of oppression between Christianity and Irish/Celtic polytheisms, shouldn’t those polytheisms be closed practices?”
We generally don’t answer questions about cultural appropriation
anymore but this question has a lot going on in it and, to be
fair, I don’t think we’ve talked about why the Celtic polytheisms are
open practices, considering their histories.
Defining a couple terms first:
“Celtic” polytheism includes Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man (Gaelic), Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, and the Cumbric peoples (Brythonic), and Gaul (Gaulish, obviously).
“Polytheism” is just a descriptor for a certain type of religious belief. People who call themselves polytheists tend towards a more reconstructionist-inspired attitude.
“(Neo)paganism” generally refers to a specific modern religious movement starting in the 1700s, give or take some years. People who call themselves pagans tend to fall more in line with the characteristics of neopaganism, which has less interest in academic accuracy.
Exceptions for those last two bullet points abound and not everyone agrees in the first place. This is also coming from a hard polytheist, not a pagan, so consider that.
The original draft of this post was even longer and more rambling before I managed to cut it down. Basically, I understand Gaelic (which includes Irish) paganism/polytheism to be open because:
conversion to Christianity was generally peaceful and a choice, not forced; Christianity in and of itself wasn’t a primary tool of colonial crimes, so at that time religious marginalization wasn’t a thing;
when the invasions and hardcore oppressions began, polytheism had already been replaced by Christianity (albeit a unique form of it that’s actually really interesting);
the historical line of inheritance – that is, an unbroken exchange of religious traditions between generations – was broken;
(and we shouldn’t forget that once upon a time the Irish were involved in a slave trade too, it’s not like the pre-Christian Irish were cinnamon rolls too pure for this world);
recognized names of actual Irish pagans/polytheists as well as Irish cultural organizations have said that Irish polytheism is open with the caveat that respect is maintained for the still-living people.
However, there are definitely problematic aspects:
forgetting that the native cultures themselves are still very much alive;
using cliches and stereotypes that perpetuate social and political issues to one degree or another;
exploiting those cultures in such a way that takes income and opportunities away from the native people (e.g. American pagans going over to Ireland to conduct bullshit workshops, spreading misinformation while taking away jobs from actual Irish pagans, seriously, there is so much New Age and neopagan bullshit being touted as ~authentic Irish spirituality~).
So, yeah, the Irish and other Celtic polytheisms are open practices regardless of one’s ancestry or identity as long as effort is taken to avoid the spread of misinformation that perpetuates cultural harm, particularly for those cultures still living. Did that answer your question…?
A: A rigid and strictly historically informed methodology of reconstructing the practices and world view of the past. It is revivalism of the cultures of the European-Mediterranean cultural basin. It essentially means doing your homework for the practices you’re trying to emulate.
Q: What are the beliefs of reconstructionism?
A: Reconstructionism is merely the methodology of practice; not a form of belief. It’s not a “denomination”, and it has little to do with actual belief.
Reconstructionism is a tool; not a religion.
Q: Does reconstructionism ignore the cultural differences of the past and now?
A: Reconstructionism isn’t ignoring the cultural differences between now and antiquity, nor is it trying to live like it’s the Iron Age, nor is it even practicing the precise religion of the Iron Age. It isn’t disregarding modern ethics and values.
Q: Does reconstructionism mean spiritual stagnation?
A: No. The religions that reconstructionists follow, if practiced, will be living religions. This means there will be change and adaptation, and with that spiritual progression.
Q: Why use Reconstructionist methodology in the first place if the cultures that are being reconstructed are basically dead religions? What’s the point?
A: The cultures that reconstructionist polytheist Pagans seek the emulate may be dead, but that doesn’t mean there’s isn’t any value in their philosophical world view, nor does it mean that their understanding is somehow less valuable than those that survived destruction at the hands of evangelism, proselytization and prosecution. These questions heavily display blatant ethnocentric snobbery. The idea that what we have now, the violent Protestant overculture that has stripped the world of its resources and created a system of consumerist hyper-commodification, is somehow “better” or “more acceptable” than the traditions of our ancestors is nothing more than self-indulgent pomposity.
(Special thanks to /r/Pagan for assisting with making this)
There is a post about the 12 clans and about their symbolshereand I HAD to look up stuff. I don’t know much about religions (besides Christianity and basics of others) so this is just what google tells me mostly. This is only about the flags, though I will get into the clans and their origin/location sometime in the future.
@buddhabrand i cant imagine what the experience of growing up pagan is like. like being raised by serious pagan parents. i guess it’d be neat if they were like reconstructionist pagans but most american pagans are silly wiccan stuff