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About Mystic Reconstructionism

Note: I’ve developed this concept a significant amount since this essay was originally posted. I pulled this page down for revision, but then people kept linking to it! Dead links aren’t hospitable, so here it is, with the proviso that version 2.0 is forthcoming.

My intent here is to explore “mystic reconstructionist Paganism” as a unified concept. For discussion of the meaning of those three words as individual concepts, I suggest the resources below as good starting points:

Mysticism: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Polytheistic Reconstructionism: Wikipedia
Paganism: ReligiousTolerance.org

 

 


“Mystic Reconstructionist Pagan” is a term that – as far as I know – I coined myself in 2010, because none of the existing ones I knew fit my practice. If I’m in error, please let me know and I will seek to give credit where it is due.

The polytheist reconstructionism movement in general has within it a schism between those who place highest validity on academically provable authenticity and those who place highest validity on personal spiritual experiences. Uncomfortably often, this seems to degenerate into an us-versus-them debate from the polarities of opinion.

I think that it’s a fair point that reconstructionism when it started was focused primarily on materials found within the historical records. It therefore can seem misleading when people who do not consider study to be their core inspiration use that specific term in an imprecise, potentially conflicting manner.

On the other hand, a Pagan can have a practice that is significantly inspired and informed by the academic materials without considering adherence to those materials as the ultimate measure of value. I would say that other factors aside, this person is more of a reconstructionist than they are not.

As a proponent of polyvalent logic, I would like to see the uncomfortable ambiguity resolved not by the awarding of the “true” usage of the term to one side or another, but by clarifying a means of legitimate use of the term by both sides – while also making space for other points of view to be included should they come along in future.

We already use cultural adjectives as modifiers to make clearer what kind of reconstructionist we are – Baltic, Graeco-Roman, etc. Why not follow that model by using other adjectives that that specify the manner in which we pursue our reconstructionism?

I call myself a mystic reconstructionist because I appreciate both the insight I get through my personal experiences of the Otherworld and from scholarship. I list mystic first, because if a conflict comes up between the two, I am ultimately most likely to go with what information I get from my trancework. If one values the lore over personal experience, the term scholastic reconstructionist seems like it would offer an similarly clear distinction.

I also call myself a mystic reconstructionist – rather than a Kemetic, Celtic or Heathen one – because it is my mystical experiences that prevent me from being able declare primary spiritual allegiance to a single culture.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2011 5:49 AM

    This is very excellent, and a good distinction!

    However, I find myself somewhat stymied–the academic and “traditional” stuff I’ve found and liked has not yet contradicted any of the UPG or mysticism I’ve experienced…in fact, the mysticism has usually supplemented rather than supplanted the research. So, what would that make me?

    Hmm…?!? ;) (I look forward to discussing this further on Thursday, perhaps over food at Denny’s? It’ll be fun, wherever it happens!)

    • February 12, 2011 8:25 PM

      *grin* Well, it’s a working definition. There’s room to tinker.

      IMO if you like the title you can still rightfully call yourself one; you certainly have mystical connections with allies from different pantheons that keep you from being 100% devoted to a single culture (or a single set of syncretized ones).

      There doesn’t *have* to be a conflict between one’s mystical experiences and one’s research. Perhaps that needs to be stated a bit more moderately. Certainly, calling one’s self a mystic reconstructionist seems to imply an agreement with the idea that UPG not only could, but actively does, have *a* valid place in intellectually responsible reconstructionism. . . at least in the abstract. What that place is can vary given the specific situation. Putting credence in mysticism doesn’t mean one is a relativist. ;)

      • February 12, 2011 8:54 PM

        Indeed…

        I will be linking to your discussion here in the near future on my blog, as it is a really important set of questions to be asking. (As well as the other multi-pantheon discussion you referenced in your recent entry here…) Loads of good stuff to consider!

  2. Faoladh permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:21 PM

    An excellent choice of terminology. I am going to consider more intently what I should call my own practices. No doubt “lycanthropic” will be a part of it!

  3. Soli permalink
    March 23, 2011 6:58 AM

    I’ve self-identified as a mystic for several years alongside being a recon and hard polytheist and never saw contradiction in any of it. I think it’s part of the flow of the experience: some want the “proof” documented in outside sources, some don’t feel the need for it.

    We should definitely be communicating more about this stuff.

Trackbacks

  1. Reconstructionism, Polytheism, and Mysticism… « Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous
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