Tuesday, September 9, 2014

From its beginnings, ADF has defined itself in relation to Indo-European pagan traditions. What relevance do you think historical and reconstructed IE traditions from the past have in constructing or reconstructing a Pagan spirituality for the present and future?

                There are many opinions on the relevance or validity of historical reconstruction of IE cultures and their influences on modern Paganism. They are as varied as there are those who study these paths. In some traditions of Paganism actual historical evidence is of little importance compared to the personal experiences of those involved. While in other traditions the historical evidence and reconstruction of the ‘old ways’ far outweighs any of the personal side. ADF’s goal is to create a tradition that is inclusive of all the Indo-European cultures by creating a common set of practices that were  shared by most, if not all, of these cultures. To a degree there has to be a modern reconstruction of the past to even begin to make this possible.

Much of what we know about IE Cultures points to the importance of ancestry and tradition. These traditions come from years and generations of practice that are handed down over time. To create a modern tradition that resembles these IE cultures we have to look at the past. We have to ask ourselves “What did our ancestors do? What did they believe? Why did they do these things?” Without these basic questions being answered we cannot hope to start creating a modern practice based on the past. Even to understand the body of mythologies we have from the ancient cultures, we have to look at the past to understand the context in which they were created. When modern people just take the mythologies for what they see, much of the original meanings can be lost.

When I first began my study of Druidry, specifically ADF, I believed that the attempt to use historical evidence to reconstruct traditional practices was impossible and not nearly as important as what I might experience on a personal level. Through my studies in the Clergy program I began to realize what Indo-European cultures were, how they were all linked, and that through study we could create a foundation based on the past that could work. It has allowed me to develop a much more meaningful and powerful personal religious practice that is based upon ancient Hellenic traditions.

Even today we can see hints of ancient IE culture, though perhaps perverted from their original form. When we look at Hindu culture, there is still very much a separation of class. They are still very polytheistic in the majority of their spiritual paths. In most of Europe and America you can see hints of the class separations. There are the ruling classes, the warriors, and then the ‘commoners’. Even in the dominate religion Christianity; you can see the tripartition of the divine. And if you look at the languages of these nations you will see there are still a great many similarities in structure and words. The example I gave is from Mark Damen in Question 1 of this series is: One of the primary examples Mark Damen from Utah State University uses is the term “three”. In his example he says:

"Threes," again, demonstrate the point well. Besides Latin (tres), Greek (treis) and Sanskrit (trayas), there are Spanish (tres), Danish, Italian and Swedish (tre), French (trois), German (drei), Dutch (drie), Russian (tri), English (three) and several other permutations all based on Indo-European *trejes. That these words are cognate is self-evident, especially when they're compared to "three" in non-Indo-European languages, such as Turkish (uc), Hebrew (shelosh), Malay (tiga) and Chinese (san).” (Damen, 2013)

He goes on further to talk about how the  words for mother and father show a similar root.

And though this comparison is from past language, not much has changed in the modern structure of the cultures and nations.

Works Cited

Damen, M. (2013, December 2). Section 7 The Indo-Europeans and Historical Linguistics. Retrieved 6 27, 2014, from Utah State University: http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320hist&Civ/chapters/07IE.htm
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