I like to watch Neo-pagan, Heathen, and Reconstructionist videos on YouTube. And, we have customers who follow these and related paths.
It’s all very magical and mystical and romantic, but it seems a mirage to me. I’m a minority voice here. We know so little and no one likes to hear that the light on their path is coming from within themselves and not from an ancient tradition.
I’ll give just one, negligible example. A few months ago a woman on Twitter, a self-identifying Heathen, was moaning because someone she knows, a Jewish woman, used the Valknut. Very sus, she thought, because the woman doesn’t even know what it means. That should strike us all as bizarre, but it’s a level of naïveté I see every day. Truth is, none of us know what the Valknut signified. We only know the various meanings the Heathen community today has invented.
Those old religions cannot realistically be reconstructed. Maybe just a few pieces used for glitter and spice in a modern path. Thomas O’Loughlin, writing about Celtic Christianity, says it very well.
“Because we are dealing with fragments and trying to overhear the conversations of faith of a past era, there can be no question of producing a ‘Celtic Path’ of spirituality. A path assumes that you can cover the ground, and map its ups and down, and give a fullsome description. Rather, we are going to look at individual events and texts on different topics: we are going, as it were, to chat to walkers here and there along the path which we cannot see in its entirely.” (O’Loughlin, 33)
Going further along the same lines, “spirituality is always embedded in a place, within a culture and its hopes, fears and expectations.” (O’Loughlin, 49) We’ll all learn that; I’m sure of it.
- Thomas O’Loughlin, Journeys on the Edges: The Celtic Tradition (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2000).