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Neo-paganism and ancient religion

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Gurkhal, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I have an idea.

    Could it be useful to read modern neo-pagan literature of a more serious as supplement to scholarly works on ancient religion?

    The reason I ask is that I feel that scholarly takes on subjects might be to dry and that supplementing it with works by religious people might help me as the author to make ancient religions come more alive for my readers.

    But I thought that I should check for some other perspectives on this before I make any decision.
     
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    As long as you're not claiming one to be the other in any informative capacity, and this is purely for use in your own fiction, you should feel free to do so.

    The problem I see here is that many neopagans already wish to practice their faith in as close a manner as possible to the faiths they are reviving. These neopagans are called reconstructionist. If you focus on them, you will find comparatively little religious innovation, except on fronts where sufficient sources are lacking or the old ways of doing things are no longer considered ethical (animal sacrifice for instance). On these fronts they will innovate, but such innovation is purposefully kept minimal. Many heathens and hellenists fall in the reconstructionist category.

    The other end of neopaganism is ecclecticism, which consists of religious traditions that are informed through the practicioner's personal experiences instead of ancient source material. Syncretism between faiths, claims to personal divine revelation and invention of tradition are common features of faith on the ecclectic end. There are a ecclectic traditions you can choose to take a look at in nearly any neopagan faith, but the various wiccan traditions, stregheria, goddess worship, thelema and ringing cedars' Anastasians would make for a good overview.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  3. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I have no intention of claiming anything as anything other than what it is. Nor do I have intentions of copy-pasting anything into my own fiction.

    While there's much literature I can find about, for example, Christianity written by Christians today and historically and thus gain another opinion on what they actually think and how they actually reason and feel about issues there's little to no such literature about ancient polytheism available to me. Hence why I considered that neo-pagan literature might help to essentially take polytheism from only dry facts to perhaps gain a bit better opinion of how people may relate to it.
     
  4. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Entirely fine then. Might I ask which pagan religions you have been looking at in your research? For the old Norse religion, one wonderful work that has been preserved that is often overlooked is the Hávamál which gives great insight into the philosophy of the old Norse.
     
  5. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    You, and others, are free to ask. I'm mostly looking at Greco-Roman traditions in particular, the Mediterranean ones in general and possibly also looking a bit north as well.
     
  6. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Are you exclusively interested in the standard mythology as it has been passed down, or are you also interested in the faiths and philosophies that spawned from it? In the latter case I would recommend you look into the Neo-Platonist, Orphic and Hermeticist religions. While wildly divergent and not at all representative of the ancient hellenic faith, all three of those religions partially worked with the legacy of Greco-Roman mythology and have been relatively well-preserved. Texts for all three should be available online. Feel free to disregard this if you wish to focus on neopaganism exclusively.
     
  7. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I am always interested in everything Greco-Roman so I am taking notes of this. :)
     
    Ban likes this.

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