Talking About Reconstruction

I promised this a while back, but have been so busy and now realize nearly a month has passed. So…

 I talked about exploring some Celtic practices upon North American land, like encountering the local land goddess in whichever land we live on, working with river and creek deities/spirits, springs and other local spirits; ways of offering to them, based on years of my own experience and experiments. I also talking about what reconstructionist methodology is and what some of the very serious pitfalls are such as the reenactment mindset, being unaware how deeply different we are from ancient peoples, being incognizant of scholarly perspectives and inevitable historiographical interpretations, as well as reading the lore like it was gospel…and discussed the experimental approach as one way to avoid such, and to simply get things going: try something out and see if there is result and what kind of result. Then I opened it up to discussion and sharing. A strong takeaway is that there are religions that have sufficient common ground so it is easy to talk together, and without any apparent misunderstandings, or anything major at any rate. That actual polytheist religions, and not only reconstructed ones of European and Near Eastern origins, but those generated in many parts of the world share so much. Often these are sacrificial and liturgical in orientation, and have profound local affinities; offerings important to all of the ones I have encountered.


Although the presentation was scheduled rather late into a Friday night (recon/devotional polytheist events are often scheduled early in the morning or late in the evening or at opening or closing spots when many have not arrived or many have already left), when many convention goers were partying or attending concerts, we staked out a space for serious discussion and interactions that I found encouraging. It was great to hear the experiences of a woman reconstructing Indo-Iranian practices, and the perspectives of heathenchinese (check out his blog at, as well as from those with a Celtic focus, and also some heathens. PSV Lupus was there and had plenty of good things to share too (unsurprisingly) Again, the ability to share language and not having terrible times understanding one another’s words is so different an experience from the debates in the ‘umbrella pagan’ sphere (or for that matter at the Wiccanate Privilege session). I find that people involved in various reconstructions (and those who are more engaged in restoration of existing traditions) are able to converse fruitfully.


There were people also who attended to simply get some idea of reconstruction. One asked a question that kind of surprised me: Why do reconstructionists want to revive these old traditions? I didn’t actually answer the following, but I thought because old things are really cool! (well, not everything, but you know). I did say a lot of us want something that is different than the dominant culture and its values. Perhaps this is a conceptual divide that is very hard to cross and is one of the difficulties in communicating with eclectic Wiccanate neopagans who want something that easily fits into the superficial instant of the consumer culture.