Oct 062012

There are of course many differences between NeoPagans (Wiccans, etc.) and Recons (Sinnsreachd, Asatru, Hellenism, etc.). To me though there is one that stands out above all others: the gods.

Last week I mentioned a guy that thought that pagans were silly people that worshiped themselves. It irritated me that he would even think that. I know where he gets the notion of course, some pagans can be pretty “out there”, but “ourselves and trees and stuff”?? Exaggeration, surely. Then I saw a clip of the cast of a new pagan television channel that is in the works. One of the cast members, with stars in her eyes, said that they “honor ourselves, the Earth and each other”*. Wow.

That’s when I understood that the primary difference between NeoPagans and Recons is that they don’t believe in the gods, not really. I can here some Wiccans screaming in the background, so let me clarify. They don’t believe that the gods are real, individual beings with Their own wills and Their own wants and desires. To most NeoPagans the gods are thought-forms, archetypes, projections of our psyche, etc.–anything except actual beings. So, in their rituals they focus primarily on themselves (personal projections of power) or the Earth (sometimes called a goddess, but really a personification of nature). This also comes out in their preoccupation with magic. I have always said that magic is prayer for those that don’t believe in the gods.

By contrast, Recons believe the gods to be as real as we are. They may not always be personified, but They actually exist and have will. They often have a direct interest in us, although I haven’t made up my mind how often They actually interact with us as opposed to how often we think they do. Throughout time people have sought to interact directly with the gods, to praise Them, ask Them for help. We do not seek to connect to some Jungian super-consciousness (I remember it being called The All, or maybe The One, back when I was Wiccan). In our rituals, our primary focus, our primary reason to have ritual, is to interact with the gods in some way. It is not about “raising power”, “turning the wheel”, or “expanding our consciousness”. It is about honoring the gods.

NeoPagans sometimes insist that what they do is not a religion. Maybe that’s true. Every religion is about the relationship between us and the gods. {I do not consider Buddhism, etc. to be religions. Rather, they are spiritual philosophies. This is mainly because they do not worship gods.}

Another similar perspective on this is an old blog post I keep referring back to, if only in spirit at times (I am certainly not THAT kind of pagan.). Good reading: Not That Kind of Pagan by The Infamous Brad


*Maddenly, I cannot find that clip now. If anyone knows what I’m talking about please send me a link and I’ll update this post.

Dáire Hobbs is the Taoiseach and Druí of Túath nDáirine in Northern Virginia. As a father of nine he also heads what is arguably the largest single household in Sinnsreachd. He and his family are actively turning their semi-rural half-acre yard into an urban homestead. He is also active on the Sinnsreachd forums at Yahoo Groups and Facebook.