November 2011

Reconstructionist Pagans

The New Old Religion

Reconstructionism has always been part of neopaganism to one degree or another, but its increased prominence in recent years has largely been a reaction against the eclecticism of Wicca, and to a lesser extent against its politics. Wiccans tend to combine all goddesses together as aspects of a single Goddess, and all gods as aspects of a single God.

 

While this is theologically defensible (and was done to some extent in ancient times, as witnessed by the long prayer to all the goddesses of the world as aspects of Isis near the end of Lucius Apuleius' “Golden Ass”) it is not very accurate to the way most ancient pagans saw their deities or their religion.

The Modern Pagan Warrior

What Do Those Words Mean?

Last week we established that there actually is such a thing as a pagan warrior, or at least there was. The next question is how the concept of the pagan warrior can still be relevant, for those who feel drawn to the warrior's path.

 

The most obvious application of the pagan warrior concept is to pagans serving in the military. While this does seem to make some people uncomfortable, there is no obvious or inevitable connection between paganism and pacifism, or between pagan religion and left-wing politics. There are conservative pagans, pagans in the military, and military pagans who are politically conservative. It should be fairly obvious why a pagan soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan might identify with the warrior path. But is there any other application of the term?

Pagan Warriors- A Contradiction?

Ancient Pagan Societies Were Not Pacifistic!

One of the strangest things about neopaganism in comparison with ancient paganism is in the attitude to war and conflict. Because neopaganism received a major influx of new members from the counterculture movements of the 1960s, many Wiccans and other neopagans not only embrace a doctrine of philosophical pacifism, they specifically think of this as a defining pagan worldview.

 

What's odd about this is that the pagan religions of the ancient world were universally associated with heroic values and warrior societies. If you read the Iliad or the Eddas or the Cattle Raid of Cooley, you will see that our pagan ancestors glorified the warrior way of life and viewed heroism in battle as the highest good. There is no precedent in ancient paganism for a pacifist worldview.

"These Things Never Happened, But Always Are"

Sallust on Pagan Theology

“Now these things never happened, but always are.” These profound words, which have been paraphrased as “myth is that which never was, but always is” can be found in the writings of Sallust, a late Pagan philosopher who was associated with the Emperor Julian. Sallust's work “On the Gods and the World” is a short essay on Pagan theology based on Neoplatonist philosophy.