deoridhe: (Runic Eclipse)
One of the interesting challenges of a reconstructional religion from Europe or North Africa is that, to put it bluntly, we're not in Europe or North Africa.

The religions of conversion - Christianity, Buddhism, and to a lesser extent Islam - are non-specific. They carry a quality of universality with them. Buddha's stories are non-local specific. Jesus' parables are non-local specific. The daily prayers of the Muslim, while turned toward Mecca, may be done anywhere in the planet. Especially in application, these religions have become more and more abstract and cut off from the physical context of the person belonging to it.

By contrast, indigenous and tribal religions often reference actually physical objects or aspects of the land. The gods live in this mountain and man was formed from this stream bed. Even if the local isn't specifically mentioned, the very character of the myths seems appropriate for certain locations and climates; the assumptions of them point to a physical location even without explicit references to this mountain or that river.

As a person reconstructing a religion on a continent alien to my religion's origin, I find the tenor of the land is another strand to weave into the mesh of my religion. To give a simple example, my fylgia - that part of me which is animalistic and intangible - is a snake. For the land where my gods were worshipped long ago, snakes are feared or reviled; the wyrm is an enemy - not a friend - even when dripping venom on the face of a god for punishment. By contrast, the land where I find myself now has appreciation and liking of the snake as a part of many of the indigenous religions and cultures. Althought a bear or a raven might be more historically viable, the influence of my home (for this continent is my home, not Germany or Denmark - for all I loved the land when I was there) is a part of my basic existence.

I think this is something important to keep in mind when reconstructing a religion. Although we bring the gods with us, and we call them here, we are still of the here and now, not the then and there.

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Edited to Add: I've decided to do a meme, because crantz rules my pantz:

When you see this on your f'list, quote something from Shakespeare.

"I could be shut up in a nutshell and count myself King of infinite space were it not that I have bad dreams."

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Deoridhe

September 2007

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