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Author Topic: What's wrong with being eclectic?  (Read 7667 times)

Aett of Cups

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What's wrong with being eclectic?
« on: August 03, 2013, 11:31:27 pm »
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2013, 11:58:10 pm »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

 
There's nothing at all wrong with being eclectic, if that's what suits a person. Some people are more inclined to it than others.

I think the criticism stems from a fear of being perceived as "fluffy" if aligned with, or even just positively inclined towards, eclecticism; I'd say it stems from the knee-jerk reactions of the recon community, but I really don't know the history well enough to say for sure. It's also that eclecticism is very easy to do badly. Kiya's article "On Eclecticism" talks about a lot of the more common pitfalls.
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 01:20:19 am »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

 
There's nothing wrong. Just a bunch of people who frankly need to back off and leave eclectics alone.
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2013, 11:07:10 am »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

 
Following an eclectic path is completely, perfectly, fine. It is your life, your beliefs, your inner world, and your understanding. You define yourself and everyone else can just deal with it.

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2013, 01:52:48 pm »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.


There is nothing wrong with being eclectic, I am eclectic myself. I tried in all earnesty to be reconstructionist and it just wasn't for me. I am glad that there are people out there who are trying to reconstruct the pre-christian European religions they should be preserved but it isn't everyone's cup of tea just as the eclectic path isn't for everyone.

Do not worry too much about what others think of your path no matter what path you follow someone out there will be critical of it..

Fionnbharr

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2013, 02:53:54 pm »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

 
I would say do not worry. Some are just not comfortable about being honest with themselves and project their insecurities, because how is any kind of neo-paganism not eclectic?
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2013, 03:37:15 pm »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

I don't think eclecticism in itself is a problem, but there can be a problem if there is a living culture, especially one that has been dominated and exploited like the Native Americans, is offended.  Their traditions belong to them.  They get to draw the lines.

But it is not always black and white where to draw the line. Celtic Reconstructionism was largely started by members of the Celtic diaspora in America.  The community has healthy relations with the living Celtic cultures and many Celts are Reconstructionists.

I tend to think dead cultures are okay to draw from, too.  I've been reading the Greek myths and I love them.  They are where our Western mindset comes from, there is something I can identify with in it, and it's very much part of the cultural heritage of the West, the names of the gods making themselves even into the English language.

This is how I draw my line when I'm invited to a eclectic ritual by my friends.  They have invited me to eclectic and reconstructionist rites and I never had a problem.  It might be different if it was a different group, though.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 03:38:13 pm by EclecticWheel »
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2013, 04:09:45 pm »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

 
Pretty much what everyone else has said.  There are some very fair criticisms of eclecticism that center around whether or not eclectics do their research.  But a lot of the time, I feel like criticism takes on a "I worship X pantheon.  How dare you worship X pantheon while not being a part of my religion?!" vibe that frankly comes off as pretty controlling to me.

SerpentineSorcerer

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2013, 08:09:46 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;117868
I don't think eclecticism in itself is a problem, but there can be a problem if there is a living culture, especially one that has been dominated and exploited like the Native Americans, is offended.  Their traditions belong to them.  They get to draw the lines.

But it is not always black and white where to draw the line. Celtic Reconstructionism was largely started by members of the Celtic diaspora in America.  The community has healthy relations with the living Celtic cultures and many Celts are Reconstructionists.

I tend to think dead cultures are okay to draw from, too.  I've been reading the Greek myths and I love them.  They are where our Western mindset comes from, there is something I can identify with in it, and it's very much part of the cultural heritage of the West, the names of the gods making themselves even into the English language.

I do believe this is often the heart of the matter when someone, anyone, talks about having a problem with eclecticism. In the circles I've been in and interacted with the critique often brought up was that eclecticism often missed out on specific contexts of the different theologies they took parts from to make the whole of their religious practice and system of belief. To me it raises a good point that one should be mindful of what is actually being said and done in theological context, and that trying to marry together very different concepts from different theologies often doesn't work unless you know and understand the concepts involved in the religious parts you wish to marry together from both inside their original theologies and from outside the theologies.

Then there is the whole bag of snakes that is cultural appropriation from living cultures (The First Nations being a prime example). But that's something that's been so commonly talked about and EclecticWheel has pretty well hit the nail on the head in mentioning it. The next biggest thing I've often heard is the fear that eclecticism is often used as license to just make up shit. I'm not talking about making up connections and structures that are a creative but insightful and well thought-out and reasoned way to get around theology snarls. I'm talking about cloudcuckoolander, whacky mescaline trip with alien jesus and flying pyramids stuff on one hand, and in the other hand the close-but-not quite beliefs about a certain cultural practice or theological concept but has been doctored by either ideological agenda, cronyism, or just mistaken information into something very different than what it might have been. The things that you hear and you just go "dafuq". I've only ever seen eclecticism used as this once or twice, but that fear gets circulated quickly and before you know it it has become the latest thing to use to gauge whether or not someone is "up to snuff" in terms of their paganism. Personally I feel looking at eclecticsm in that kind of a light is pretty short-sighted, and blaming everyone else for one chummer's fantasyplay.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 08:14:08 pm by SerpentineSorcerer »
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2013, 08:12:44 am »
Quote from: SerpentineSorcerer;117880
I do believe this is often the heart of the matter when someone, anyone, talks about having a problem with eclecticism. In the circles I've been in and interacted with the critique often brought up was that eclecticism often missed out on specific contexts of the different theologies they took parts from to make the whole of their religious practice and system of belief.

What I call "thoughtful eclecticism" vs "bright/shiny eclecticism". The first group pieces together their religious beliefs practices thoughtfully -- both of the original source and how what they borrow fits together with their total set of beliefs and practices. The second group generally uses anything that attracts their attention and seems interesting, often with little thought as to how it fits with their other beliefs and practices, let alone how it fit into the original system they are borrowing it from.

It's the "bright/shiny eclecticism" that people generally have the strongest objections to -- and it is sometimes the only type of eclecticism those who object to the very idea of eclecticism have seen.
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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2013, 09:58:00 am »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;117812
Hello.

I've noticed that a number of neo-pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths.  Do you feel it's ok to be on an eclectic path (either tendentially or absolutely)?  Why or why not?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

 
In addition to what everyone else has said, another reason why some pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths is the lack of work that some eclectics put into their practice that comes off as disrespectful. For example, the other day on another pagan site I'm a member of, someone wanted to join who was a Lokean who viewed Loki as a god of love.

Loki as a god of love. I'll let that sit in for a minute.

I'm all for exploring within a path or tradition, but there's exploration, and there is "I'm just gonna do whatever the hell I want because magic!" When you completely toss aside all or most of a tradition's information on deity and do what you want, you aren't being considerate to that tradition's history or to the followers of that path, and that's not cool. To me, when you can take the time and learn about the deities you are honoring in an eclectic path, it shows a certain discipline that I can respect even without agreeing with you.

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2013, 10:00:33 am »
Quote from: ALiteraryLady;117923
Loki as a god of love. I'll let that sit in for a minute.

 
Ok... My screen just had some tea... I should know better by now.

ALiteraryLady

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2013, 10:11:00 am »
Quote from: IceAngie;117925
Ok... My screen just had some tea... I should know better by now.

 
When I saw it my laptop decided to look like a coffee waterfall. It was a rough day. :)

Aiwelin

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2013, 11:03:29 am »
Quote from: ALiteraryLady;117923
In addition to what everyone else has said, another reason why some pagans seem to be critical of eclectic paths is the lack of work that some eclectics put into their practice that comes off as disrespectful.

 
Not really related to the original post, but I wanted to explore this idea further.  I've heard people many times describe eclectics as "unwilling to do the work".  On an Asatru forum I'm a part of, once in a while a newbie will come in and ask a simple question, but they'll be brushed off and told to "do their homework" and accused of being fluffy.  I see this less in the Pagan community at large, though I think it is a problem with many flavors of Reconstructionists.

I get that a lot of people have had to do a lot of work to reconstruct and bring these religions back in a form that is viable both for themselves and the modern world.  But I think there's this idea that because the pioneers had to do tons of work, that everyone who is interested in the religion or the ideas must re-cover that ground for themselves.

I don't consider myself eclectic, as the various parts of my spiritual practice are very compartmentalized; but I know there are some who would disagree.  When I visit Celtic Recon spaces, it's not because I am a Celtic Recon, but because I am looking for more accurate information to inform my spiritual practice - but there, too, I run the risk of being accused of stealing from true religious people (who have done the work, because scholarship=spirituality in some of these circles.  Perhaps I am the one in the wrong here, which is fine if that's how it is; but I'm not going to learn to read Gaelic so that I can pour over source material for myself.  If that means I can't worship Celtic deities or let Recon practice inform my own; well, then I'll just stop telling people about it :P
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MattyG

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Re: What's wrong with being eclectic?
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2013, 12:09:21 pm »
Quote from: ALiteraryLady;117923
Loki as a god of love. I'll let that sit in for a minute.

 
I once had an eclectic friend swear to me that cinnamon was sacred to Freya, and when I expressed skepticism to the idea that cinnamon would really be available to the Viking-age Norse, he scoffed at me. He told me that since he practiced actual magic, where I focus more on scholarship, he was the authority and knew better than me.

Another complaint against eclectics can simply come from a hard-polytheist vs. soft polytheist approach. Most of the eclectics I've known tend toward soft-polytheism, while most recons tend toward hard-polytheism, so they can often see some eclectic approaches as being disrespectful. Like that same friend of mine who insisted that Brigid followed the Mother-Maiden-Crone dynamic, even though there's really nothing to support that idea.

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