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What is a Reconstructionist Pagan?


When it comes to types of Pagans, most people will not distinguish between a Wiccan, a Neo-Pagan and a type that has emerged slowly since the 1970s, the Reconstructionist Pagan. Unlike Wiccans and Neo-Pagans who claim an unbroken link to antiquity, most recons know that their faith is a modern religion. While the new faiths may be modern, you would be hard pressed to find a follower without a vast array of anthropological books on their region of choice.
While Neo-Paganism is a form of nature worship, the Reconstructionist religions such as Asatru, Hellenism, Religio Romana, Kemticism and Celtic Reconstructionism try to practice the original faith as close as possible to the way the original adherents would have while making necessary concessions to modern sensibilities. Obviously, animal sacrifices are out in most cases.
The various paths may not be wide spread or well-known to most people with the group with the largest following being Asatru, worshipping the gods of Norse legend revered by most Germanic people and still remembered in the names of the weekdays in various Germanic languages. While the movement started out with good intentions, it seems to have been watered down in recent years with various former Wiccans discovering it and bringing over New Age inaccuracies often spouted on such sites with them.

Hellenism reveres the Greek gods of Mount Olympus. Perhaps the most readily accessible website for those who wish more information on it is run by a man named Sannion whose page contains a number of Anti-Wiccan rants.

While a religion worshipping the gods of ancient Roman may not seem to be necessary with a Greek reconstructionist religion, the Romans had a number of gods unique to their own peninsula and many of the rituals were quite different. What confuses the issue for practitioners of the Religio was that the Romans were not unwilling to incorporate the gods from other cultures and regions into their practice, although equating the Greek gods to Roman ones was mostly a practice of the upper classes.

Kemticism attempts to honor the gods of the Egyptian pantheon and finding information on it is difficult.

Perhaps the second largest Reconstructionist movement in the United States after Asatru is Celtic Reconstructionism. This does not mean that the people are druids necessarily, although some are. Like Asatru many people come to here from Wicca. Maybe it is because it is the cultural group, still alive, where the imagery used by many Wiccan paths comes from.

One of the easiest non-religious criticisms to levy against the movement has to do with racism. Not only do Celtic and certain types of Asatru or Norse Heathenry attract white supremacist groups. Many people who follow a reconstructionist religion feel that you either should be a descendant of the cultural groups represented or a person native to the group. Whether or not this is legitimate on theological grounds depends on who are talking to. More liberal groups such as the Asatru's Ring of Troth reject it and welcome everyone.

I cannot offer more than an extremely brief overview of the various religions here. An Internet search can lead you to various sites for each one. The next time you hear the word Pagan, however, you might not want to automatically think of the Wheel of the Year and the threefold law, not all pagans believe in that, nor do all pagans worship a god and a goddess.