What are the historical roots of neopaganism

Mos Maiorum

The term Reconstructionism (or in English Reconstructionism) seems a bit cumbersome at first glance and is used in different ways and also in a differently religiously defined context, so that we want to go into this term at this point to make it clear what we mean by it and why we use it.

The term - origins and content

If you enter the term in an Internet search engine, you will find results such as Jewish reconstructionism, Christian reconstructionism, polytheistic reconstructionism etc., so that it quickly becomes clear that we are not dealing with something that is typical of a certain religion, but that it is a term that describes something that can be found across traditions.

Basically, a reconstructionist attitude means that you go to the Roots of a religion returns, or to what a certain person or group understands by it, whereby this religion is not viewed separately from its cultural environment, but rather both have a special relationship with one another.

Rousas Rushdoony (1916–2001) - founder and thought leader of Christian Reconstructionism

In this sense, for example, understands itself Christian reconstructionismthat as ultra-fundamentalist, evangelical Current can be found in the USA. This movement, which can be traced back to the strongly Calvinist theologian Rousas Rushdoony, strives to establish a theonomy, if not even theocracy and a strict application of the Mosaic Law in today's time and society, i.e. a society based on the rejection of the unbiblical democracy to redesign the ideas to be found in the Bible, to "reconstruct" them in their sense. The Bible is not only understood here as an expression of the divine will, but a whole culture can be found in it, which is considered to be normative for this movement. Christian reconstructionism therefore sees itself quite consciously as a worldview related to this culture, which wants to enforce its goals also and specifically politically, as it does so as a self-description of its theological orientation, the so-called Dominion Theologyexpresses.

Mordecai Menahem Kaplan (1881-1983) - founder of Jewish reconstructionism

Reconstructionism as own Jewish direction (in addition to Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism), on the other hand, is found on the completely opposite side of this spectrum: it is a movement that supports theprogressive Judaism is close and was founded by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. In contrast to a fundamentalist reading, religion is understood here as part of the general Jewish culture and belonging to this culture defines the individual's worldview. What is written in the Torah, for example, is not regarded as a historical fact or as irrefutably true, but is viewed as an expression of the thoughts of one's own ancestors. Statements about God or the description of the Exodus, for example, are always primarily statements from a very specific time and from people who report about it, i.e. one's own culture understood as the history of the reception of the experiences of individual members of this culture.

It is not a question of preserving these ideas in our day and age just because they are recorded in the holy scriptures, but rather of arriving at your own ideas against the background of a Jewish culture that has developed through history and thus contributing to the development of this culture and keep moving forward. What is reconstructed here is much more a cultural self-image that also includes religious ideas, but is not exhausted therein. Kaplan summarized the basic principle of his reconstructionist approach, understood in this way, of understanding Judaism as a model of civilization, in three words programmatically:belonging, behaving, believing

In the first place is the affiliation (belonging) to Jewish culture, this leads to occupation with the values ​​handed down in its history, which offer a framework for one's own positioning in society. These ideals and values ​​that one adheres to (behaving) in turn establish the context within which personal religious beliefs can develop (believing).

This form of a reconstructionist approach is similar in certain points to what interests us here - Reconstructionism in Paganism, more precisely, of course, in the Roman context.

An interesting fact to note is that all of these ideas close together in time occurred because it is the 70s to 90s of the 20th century that both the Christian fundamentalist, the Jewish progressive, as well as the pagan Have produced or established variants of reconstructionism, although they have only rudiments in common with each other.

Although Aleister Crowley referred to the "ancient Egyptian" mysteries, he saw the pagan religions as well as Christianity as outdated by his new teaching

in the Neopaganism, so in the movements whose concerns the Revival of pre-Christian / pagan religions is, there is also a discussion at this time that revolved around how one can actually live these original religious ideas and practices in our time, yes, whether that is even possible or even makes sense and, above all, what actually goes about them original aspects heard and what not.

The roots of the "Neo-pagan" Ideas are in the 18th and 19th Century in the currents of philhellenism, classicism and romanticism, although here an - often enthusiastic - return to antiquity was limited to architecture, literature and art and it was not a movement that offered a religious alternative in a special form would have, or wanted to offer.

In the esoteric-hermetic communities, such as the Rosicrucians or that Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which became active towards the end of the 19th century, there is an idea that saw the ancient religions as the keepers of a special - esoteric - knowledge, but remained primarily fascinated and oriented towards Egyptian mysteries. Aleister Crowley spoke, albeit in subordinate clauses, generally of the advantages of pagan religions over Christianity, but regarded both traditions as superseded and outdated by his thelema revelation. The first were formed in England Druid Order Based on the Freemasonry and combined the concept of brotherhood with a general enthusiasm for the Celts, without any actual revival of the Celtic religion being practiced.

Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884–1964) - "father" of the Wicca movement

Not until the occultist Gerald Gardner the WiccanMove and appeared publicly with the assertion that he had been initiated into such an “ancient pagan line of tradition” in England, the indigenous religions, apart from the mysterious mysteries of Egypt, came to the fore.

But since it quickly became clear to those interested in this area that Wicca is not dealing with a pagan tradition that has survived underground, but rather one syncretistic new creation consists of mythological set pieces with strong borrowings from hermetic magic and general occult aspects, fundamental questions quickly arose. On the one hand, these consisted of checking the claims of the so-called "witch religion" for their historical relevance and validity and, on the other hand, of generally considering how indigenous pagan traditions probably would have evolved if it weren't for one Christianization would have come and what concrete traces they actually left after this.

Such considerations were the beginning of the fact that individuals began to deal particularly with what specific cultural traditions - i.e. those of the Teutons, the Celts, the Romans, etc. - still in their “legacy”, so to speak, in terms of ideas and practices for the present day could offer.

Traditions between myths and fairy tales

Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson (1924–1993) - founder of the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið

As a result, it was mainly for theGermanic religion - which was very early and strongly present in the neo-pagan spectrum - tries a certain unbroken line of tradition which was believed to be hidden under an apparently superficial Christian coat of paint.

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