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02 December, 2012

S is for Syncretism

A lot of pagans are pretty down on eclectic pagans.  With good reason, of course, because a lot of eclecticism is done really crappily, with a lot of shallow cherry-picking of shiny objects out of their context and not a whole lot of thinking through systems and their implications.

One of the nice things about syncretic practice is that it requires at least one reasonably whole system.  One coherent worldview resonates with another set of practices, or even a few singular things, and eventually they can glom together tidily.

I started out what I thought of as dual path a number of years ago.  And the thing I found was that the more work I put into each path, the more it resembled the other.  While the trappings - the structure of ritual, say - were very different, a lot of the values, core goals, and even symbolism were very similar, so I find myself now reaching from one system into the other when I perceive a gap or something more directly addressed by one system.

It's all one thing.

It's hard to talk about what it is, though.  I talk a lot about my reconstructionist stuff, in part because I think it is an obligation as a reconstructionist to talk about my practices, my sources, and so on, in order to make the entire structure more accessible to others who can then build upon it and elaborate to meet their own needs.  I don't talk about my Craft stuff as much, because it's more personal and harder to talk about, and because other people don't need to know.  But actually as I do the work with these things, they're the same, and it's not straightforward to draw a line and say 'this is reconstruction' and 'that is Craft'.

I'm pretty sure I'm Not A Real Recon by a lot of people's standards, because I have this other stuff that threads through, and I patch my gaps with something other than whistling and vigorously flapping academic books over the holes in the hope that nobody will notice the vacancy.  And the 'other stuff' isn't academic - patching with different cultures' academic works would probably be more okay, if it's all "Okay instead of Egyptian I'm going to do Graeco-Egyptian and extrapolate back a bit" - which I also do.  But talking about a line with a nameable founder, that's way too woo and recent for a lot of reconstruction.

(To which I say "Unscrew you, at least I put footnotes in my work so you can fucking well go check my references yourself.  I may not be recon enough, but that's more than most of the 'legitimate' recons can be bothered with doing.")

It's nice to have the resonance box that can be built between multiple systems, especially when they're the same instrument in the end.

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