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Author Topic: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?  (Read 3318 times)

Trollkarl

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2012, 10:06:27 pm »
Quote from: Megatherium;71876
Wow, I didn't really expect the Hellenic worldview to be so similar to that of the Germanics. I'm sure there were major differences based on climate, economic and political structure, etc., but the basic commonalities of ancestor veneration, acknowledgement of local spirits, and polytheism seem to be fairly similar.

 
It shouldn't. Both ultimately derive from the Indo-Europeans, and thus should be expected to share a lot of commonalities. Ditto with the Romans and Celts.

As far as the notion that an afterlife outside of the grave mound is a more recent, perhaps Christian innovation, it's obviously impossible to say with certainty, but the fact that other IE cultures had such beliefs would tend to argue in favor of the general tradition being native to the Germanic cultures. Of course some of the specifics may have been brought in, since most of the literary sources are post-Christianity, but again, it's probably impossible to untangle just what were, if any.

Of course, that brings up the whole issue of just what are we as Reconstructionists reconstructing? Do we pick a specific date and place and say "This is what we're doing"? If so, you're going to need to bring in material from other times and places to fill in the multitude of gaps, which would seem to defeat the purpose of picking a date and place.

On the other hand, if one is "intra-culturally eclectic" (pan-Germanic, or pan-Celtic, or whatever, but eschewing other cultures), it brings up the issue of what is out of bounds. Do we go with Tacitus, who says the Germanii have no temples? Or do we go with the archaeological and late literary source record that says they did? Just because it's older doesn't necessarily make it less authentic.

I don't claim to have an answer. Just posing the question.

Megatherium

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2012, 06:39:10 pm »
Quote from: Jezebel;71931
There's some discussion about where the idea originally came from, and it most likely did trickle in from more eastern influences. I don't think it was a sole Greek idea, they just made it their own and built on it as they were want to do with ideas they liked.

 
Thanks for the response, again, very interesting. It makes me wonder if Northern European cultures (if reincarnation was in fact a common idea at any time in Northern Europe outside of the present) received the idea of reincarnation from the Greeks, or perhaps from Central Asian nomads, or both. If it was a "foreign" idea that hovered around the edges of Northern European societies, this may explain why reincarnation seemed to coexist with the "dead in the mound" and "other realm" (ie. hades, hel, etc.). Again, it seems to me that several ideas about the afterlife coexisted in many Pre-Christian European societies. Of course, I may well be utterly wrong about this.
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Megatherium

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2012, 06:45:16 pm »
Quote from: Trollkarl;72043
It shouldn't. Both ultimately derive from the Indo-Europeans, and thus should be expected to share a lot of commonalities. Ditto with the Romans and Celts.

As far as the notion that an afterlife outside of the grave mound is a more recent, perhaps Christian innovation, it's obviously impossible to say with certainty, but the fact that other IE cultures had such beliefs would tend to argue in favor of the general tradition being native to the Germanic cultures. Of course some of the specifics may have been brought in, since most of the literary sources are post-Christianity, but again, it's probably impossible to untangle just what were, if any.

Of course, that brings up the whole issue of just what are we as Reconstructionists reconstructing? Do we pick a specific date and place and say "This is what we're doing"? If so, you're going to need to bring in material from other times and places to fill in the multitude of gaps, which would seem to defeat the purpose of picking a date and place.

On the other hand, if one is "intra-culturally eclectic" (pan-Germanic, or pan-Celtic, or whatever, but eschewing other cultures), it brings up the issue of what is out of bounds. Do we go with Tacitus, who says the Germanii have no temples? Or do we go with the archaeological and late literary source record that says they did? Just because it's older doesn't necessarily make it less authentic.

I don't claim to have an answer. Just posing the question.


This really seems to get at the crux of the matter for me. At first I really liked the idea of trying to reconstruct the view of a specific time and place. This seems to be possible for Roman and hellenic reckons, given the wealth of written sources about these cultures, but in Northern Europe...well...unless one is trying to reconstruct a Christian influenced, slightly post-conversion idea of Icelandic heathenry, there really doesn't seem to be enough information to fully develop a modern worldview/religious practice. Which leads to the questions of what and what is not acceptable to borrow, etc.

Ultimately, I don't think answers to these questions can ever be fully answered, but wrestling with them seems to be an important intellectual component of any modernized version of European Paganism. I believe that contemporary paganism will continue to be a growing, and eventually more important part of modern Western religious life, given its roots in ancient traditions, but I think it will take centuries of exploration to develop them fully.
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Trollkarl

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2012, 12:02:31 pm »
Quote from: Megatherium;72210
Thanks for the response, again, very interesting. It makes me wonder if Northern European cultures (if reincarnation was in fact a common idea at any time in Northern Europe outside of the present) received the idea of reincarnation from the Greeks, or perhaps from Central Asian nomads, or both.

 
Why would a belief in reincarnation (or anything else, for that matter) have to "come from" some other culture?

Once one accepts the notion that reincarnation is, in fact, a real phenomenon (and I do not; just putting this out there for the sake of argument), then anyone should be able to figure out that reality without needing to be told by someone else. Beware of relying too heavily on anthropology when informing Pagan or Heathen beliefs and practices; it can lead to a reductionism that can ultimately undermine those beliefs themselves.

One sees this problem when dealing with the runes as well. Are they just an alphabet that the Germans copied from the Romans, or the Etruscans, or some other culture? If so, that tends to undermine the notion that the symbols themselves represent a spiritual reality as well as a linguistic one.

MattyG

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2012, 02:28:01 pm »
Quote from: Trollkarl;74233
Why would a belief in reincarnation (or anything else, for that matter) have to "come from" some other culture?

Once one accepts the notion that reincarnation is, in fact, a real phenomenon (and I do not; just putting this out there for the sake of argument), then anyone should be able to figure out that reality without needing to be told by someone else. Beware of relying too heavily on anthropology when informing Pagan or Heathen beliefs and practices; it can lead to a reductionism that can ultimately undermine those beliefs themselves.

One sees this problem when dealing with the runes as well. Are they just an alphabet that the Germans copied from the Romans, or the Etruscans, or some other culture? If so, that tends to undermine the notion that the symbols themselves represent a spiritual reality as well as a linguistic one.

 
I don't believe that borrowing ideas or symbols from other cultures in any way reduces the spiritual integrity of a group. I mean, if you trace the human race back far enough, we all come from one group of homo sapiens in Africa. What's wrong about cultures diverging, evolving, and intermingling?

Nyktipolos

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2012, 10:11:44 pm »
Quote from: MattyG;74236
I don't believe that borrowing ideas or symbols from other cultures in any way reduces the spiritual integrity of a group. I mean, if you trace the human race back far enough, we all come from one group of homo sapiens in Africa. What's wrong about cultures diverging, evolving, and intermingling?

Because at the moment I do not have the spoons to do this again personally:

You should check out our previous threads on cultural appropriation (we've had at least two here, I believe), and have delved into this briefly on other threads about racism.

Cultural appropriation is a specific *thing*. It is not cultural exchange. It is about deliberately taking and/or mis-using cultural items or roles without respect to the people they belong to, most often done by an oppressive group.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 10:12:30 pm by Nyktipolos »
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MattyG

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Re: Differences between Germanic/Hellenic/Celtic traditions?
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2012, 10:59:51 pm »
Quote from: Nyktipolos;74271
Because at the moment I do not have the spoons to do this again personally:

You should check out our previous threads on cultural appropriation (we've had at least two here, I believe), and have delved into this briefly on other threads about racism.

Cultural appropriation is a specific *thing*. It is not cultural exchange. It is about deliberately taking and/or mis-using cultural items or roles without respect to the people they belong to, most often done by an oppressive group.

 
Well, yes, I agree entirely about the cultural appropriation thing, but I don't think that that's really what this topic is about. The Germanic tribes and the Celtic tribes were close, geographic groups. As far as I know, there's no evidence of either oppressing the other, so why wouldn't it make sense for some of their theological or philosophical ideas to intermingle? And if it's something particularly useful, like an alphabet, then it wouldn't it just be plain foolish to not take it, adapt it, and make it your own?

Now definitely, if you just steal their thing outright and claim it was always yours, that's just preposterous. Imagine Celts just trying to apply a Hellenic calender to their geographic region. But if you do make sufficient adaptations to the thing, making it make sense for your particular group, then I don't think that it's any less valid. The Nordic runes are clearly not the same as the Latin alphabet. If they did borrow from the Romans (which I honestly don't know if they did), they clearly made it their own, and I don't think that it's any weaker spiritually.

Also, if you look at similar gods, Lugh and Odin for example, then that would lead us to believe that the gods have some similar origin. However, that doesn't make them any weaker. Odin is clearly a Nordic figure, and Lugh clearly Celtic. Their similarities don't invalidate their differences.

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