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Author Topic: Is this Syncretism?  (Read 1990 times)

EclecticWheel

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Is this Syncretism?
« on: August 05, 2013, 06:02:57 pm »
I understand the basic concept of syncretism.  Some cultures have had natural interchanges that have resulted in syncretism.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Romans and Greeks had this kind of relationship.

I have also seen the word "syncretism" to define paths of individuals who blend different traditions or perhaps worship deities of multiple pantheons, honoring each one according to their own tradition as best as possible.

I wonder if syncretism might describe another combination.  Let's say a person practices a traditional path, like Buddhism, but the person has created other rituals and concepts relevant to hir and has maybe even written rituals and stories for entities that don't come from any mythology or culture or religion but are based purely on personal experience.  These additional beliefs and rituals are added as a supplement and commentary on the person's religion, creating a worldview complete in itself.

This is largely my own situation.  Is this syncretism or is it something else since it doesn't involve borrowing from other cultural traditions?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 06:38:22 pm by RandallS »
My personal moral code:

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Materialist

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2013, 12:16:09 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;117987
 Is this syncretism or is it something else since it doesn't involve borrowing from other cultural traditions?


Fascinating question. Never thought of it, though it applies to me. I use Cthulhu Mythos and DC Comics stuff in my practice, and I'm also making my own nature spirit system. These various elements were fused together when I performed a kamyasraddha (to ask the ancestors-as-gods a question according to Grhya).

So, technically, this is syncretism, mixing in non-Grhya stuff to perform the rite. Now, for stuff one makes up oneself...hm, it's true that no religion is in a vacuum, so it's most likely that one's innovations are inspired by outside religious elements, even if on a subconscious level. Still, that's a tricky question. Using your Buddhist example, if the person were making new rituals and stuff solely in the context of Buddhism, based on the diversity in religions that originated in India, I would say it would be considered a new denomination of Buddhism, and not syncretic.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2013, 01:29:31 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;118279
Fascinating question. Never thought of it, though it applies to me. I use Cthulhu Mythos and DC Comics stuff in my practice, and I'm also making my own nature spirit system. These various elements were fused together when I performed a kamyasraddha (to ask the ancestors-as-gods a question according to Grhya).

So, technically, this is syncretism, mixing in non-Grhya stuff to perform the rite. Now, for stuff one makes up oneself...hm, it's true that no religion is in a vacuum, so it's most likely that one's innovations are inspired by outside religious elements, even if on a subconscious level. Still, that's a tricky question. Using your Buddhist example, if the person were making new rituals and stuff solely in the context of Buddhism, based on the diversity in religions that originated in India, I would say it would be considered a new denomination of Buddhism, and not syncretic.

Very interesting!  I, too, have drawn from fiction in my path, using it as a framework to get a deeper understanding of some of the spirits I have a relationship with.  By your definition I suppose this might count as syncretism, although if it does, it's a different definition than usually applies.  I started out with some of these spirits working totally with them as fictional characters.  Eventually, they became something more, taking on other attributes, but I still largely view them through the lens of some of the fiction I incorporated into my path.  In particular, I drew from Alice in Wonderland.  The main characters of that story largely inform the spirits I work with.  I chose that story because its fluid reality and chaotic nature describe my view of the subjective nature of reality.  I also incorporated imagery and themes from Tolkien.

Though I don't compartmentalize my religious beliefs -- they are all united into a coherent whole -- there are other rituals of mine that are more explicitly Christian, but originate from my experiences only.  I guess you would call this a "new denomination," and I think that's accurate in many ways, even if it's a denomination of one. ;)

I will also say prayers from any source that is compatible with my spirituality, including prayers from Dune.

Anyway it's cool to find someone else who has drawn on fiction for ritual!  When I first began to explore it, I had never heard of it anywhere else, so it's good not to be alone.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 01:34:30 pm by EclecticWheel »
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Materialist

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2013, 02:59:56 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;118291

Anyway it's cool to find someone else who has drawn on fiction for ritual!  When I first began to explore it, I had never heard of it anywhere else, so it's good not to be alone.


The Truth speaks for itself, and it is for us to listen, is what I always say. Finding the sacred in the mundane might not be so easy, in general. In tantra yoga, only those who have achieved complete liberation can see the sacred in everything. I guess we're higher up on the ladder than some.

I'm currently rereading the graphic novel "Bone" by Jeff Smith. His ideas about dragons might be the next to get incorporated. One group of my ancestors worshiped the constellation Draco, so interesting things might come out of it.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2013, 05:17:20 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;118302
The Truth speaks for itself, and it is for us to listen, is what I always say. Finding the sacred in the mundane might not be so easy, in general. In tantra yoga, only those who have achieved complete liberation can see the sacred in everything. I guess we're higher up on the ladder than some.

I'm currently rereading the graphic novel "Bone" by Jeff Smith. His ideas about dragons might be the next to get incorporated. One group of my ancestors worshiped the constellation Draco, so interesting things might come out of it.

 
Well I don't know that I'd say I'm higher up the ladder.  I would say rather that we are all the center of our own fluctuating reality, some even shift between multiple realities, but no one person's reality is higher or lower than another, right or wrong.  And yet in the practical sphere at least, most of us, including myself, make such judgments all the time.  It's a paradox.

I will start reading some of these comics.  They sound really good.

Do you draw solely on fiction in your religious practice?
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Materialist

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2013, 03:49:33 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;118312
Well I don't know that I'd say I'm higher up the ladder.  I would say rather that we are all the center of our own fluctuating reality, some even shift between multiple realities, but no one person's reality is higher or lower than another, right or wrong.  And yet in the practical sphere at least, most of us, including myself, make such judgments all the time.  It's a paradox.

I will start reading some of these comics.  They sound really good.

Do you draw solely on fiction in your religious practice?

 
No, most of it is tedious historical research for the past thirteen years. Reconstructionist stuff. I focus exclusively on first millennium sources, which involves tracking down original texts, being prepared to translate various languages, and finding descriptions of archaeological artifacts. And reading so many books that it's obscene. But I enjoy it immensely. Hopefully I'll be able to post my findings on British and Moroccan religion, when I feel like I know enough.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2013, 05:07:50 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;118583
No, most of it is tedious historical research for the past thirteen years. Reconstructionist stuff. I focus exclusively on first millennium sources, which involves tracking down original texts, being prepared to translate various languages, and finding descriptions of archaeological artifacts. And reading so many books that it's obscene. But I enjoy it immensely. Hopefully I'll be able to post my findings on British and Moroccan religion, when I feel like I know enough.

 
Fascinating.  I'm sure there are others, but you're the first person I've come across online who integrates reconstructionist religion with fiction.

I dabbled in Celtic Reconstructionism.  It wasn't for me, but it did give me the idea to construct religious frameworks for entities based on fictional characters that didn't begin in a religious or mythological framework in the first place.  It really is a lot of fun.

I admire your research and creativity.  It takes a lot of time to make these spiritual efforts.
My personal moral code:

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Materialist

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2013, 10:07:22 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;118588

I dabbled in Celtic Reconstructionism.  It wasn't for me, but it did give me the idea to construct religious frameworks for entities based on fictional characters that didn't begin in a religious or mythological framework in the first place.  It really is a lot of fun.


I started out reading books about reconstructionist religions-Celtic, Germanic, Semitic, but I realized that these were modern religions, made by modern people, and had nothing to do with my ancestors, so I went my own way.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2013, 01:06:42 am »
Quote from: Materialist;119072
I started out reading books about reconstructionist religions-Celtic, Germanic, Semitic, but I realized that these were modern religions, made by modern people, and had nothing to do with my ancestors, so I went my own way.

Yes, they are modern religions.  It was just too alien to me to base my spirituality on a culture I didn't feel I was truly connected to or a part of.  I do respect reconstructionist efforts, especially Celtic Reconstructionism, but I have noticed on several reconstructionist websites where it says these like, "X Reconstructionism is the ancient religion revived again in modern times."  I think claims like that are misleading.

As my spiritual practices grow -- which involves me filling in parts where my religion doesn't address a certain topic or experience I've had -- I draw on my own intuition and what I can find in my culture that I can relate to, even if it's from comics, or I write my own stories, and these become a focus for how I interact with the spirits.  In this way I can localize my spirituality to some extent, base it on what is already familiar, create my own American way of relating to the nature spirits, etc..  Overall, this has been the best approach for me, more relevant and familiar, easier to do, and less chance of accidental cultural misappropriation.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2013, 01:10:23 am by EclecticWheel »
My personal moral code:

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Aeronis

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2013, 01:57:55 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;118291

I will also say prayers from any source that is compatible with my spirituality, including prayers from Dune.

 
Ah! You're not the only one in that respect.

Caroline

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2013, 02:01:18 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;117987

I have also seen the word "syncretism" to define paths of individuals who blend different traditions or perhaps worship deities of multiple pantheons, honoring each one according to their own tradition as best as possible.


Personally, I'd describe that as 'eclectic' rather than 'syncretic'. IMO the former is more about specific, deliberate, individual choice over a relatively short period of time, while the latter develops more organically, over a much longer period of time, involving greater numbers of people and shared experience.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Is this Syncretism?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2013, 12:43:44 am »
Quote from: Caroline;124495
Personally, I'd describe that as 'eclectic' rather than 'syncretic'. IMO the former is more about specific, deliberate, individual choice over a relatively short period of time, while the latter develops more organically, over a much longer period of time, involving greater numbers of people and shared experience.


Good distinction.  I have pondered this myself, though online I have seen the word "syncretism" applied to both.  I think it is more helpful to distinguish the two.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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