The more I hang out with Neo-Pagan folks, talk to them, discuss with them the more I realize that they are indeed, in fact, undoubtedly, definitely different from the various Hellenistai I know. The more I hang out with them though, the more familiar I get with their ways of doing things, their way of seeing things, and yes, their modes of worship. I was talking to a friend today, and in the course of the conversation I remarked "It is disappointing that many reconstructionists divorce themselves from the Neo-Pagan community" I know I'm probably going to get some flak from some people for making that statement, but I wholly believe it.
They know more than you think.
Okay, some (read, one, and I haven't talked to her face to face since High School) of my real life Neo-Pagan friends ARE kind of fluffy. They have a lot of misinformation about certain things, and they white-wash deities of all their darker characteristics, I will readily admit to that. On the other hand, the vast majority (indeed, probably 70-90 percent) of Neo-Pagans that I have talked to KNOW their stuff, and I mean KNOW it, they are versed in the lore, some ancient practice, ancient cultures, influences, even taboos. It goes on, they know what they are talking about, and if they DON'T know something, they are more than willing to learn, they don't remain willfully ignorant, they go "Oh, that's cool" and the discussion continues. I'm going to let out a little secret, the crazy, annoying, and willfully ignorant fluffsters largely exist within the realms of cyberspace. These means that yes, they do exist in real life, but online can make it seem like there are so many more of them than are actually out there.
We also sometimes worship the same Gods. This morning while I was waiting for the service to start at my local UU church, a friend and I had a short discussion on Hestia. It struck me very suddenly that despite our differences in practices, we both "know" her the same. We both remarked on her gentleness, her mildness. We both remarked on her gentle warmth, and discussed how different she is from Brigid. I have come to "know" her through the offerings I give her, and through the honor I pay her. My friend had come to know her through a Drawing Down ritual. From my understanding, a Drawing Down ritual is vastly different from the usual Hellenic offering rite. Yet there we are, both praising her for her gentle nature.
Sure, sometimes Gods like Hekate, or Artemis are (usually) viewed wildly differently among Neo-Pagans than they are (usually) viewed among reconstructionists, and these differences are perfectly alright. As long as they aren't disrespectful, it doesn't matter. How do we know they are wrong? Many recons try to claim a certain supremacy over Neo-Pagans due to our practice being rooted in tradition, and being somewhat consistent. I don't think that is okay, I think it is an attempt to claim more legitimacy than Neo-Pagans, which I don't think is true. If Athena, or Hermes, or Helios had an issue with being worshiped in a Wiccan circle, don't you think they'd be able to show that themselves? I think they would, I think the Gods are fully capable of making their displeasure known, if they have any at all.
Why then am I a Reconstructionist? Firstly, community, for myself, for my children, a shared faith and practice is important to me. I find satisfaction and pleasure in it. I also feel called to it, as odd as that may sound. I do think that the Gods would like their traditions revived and brought back. It is UPG, yes, but it is what I feel. However, I also feel that the Gods don't mind, and support (yes support) their worship in the Neo-Pagan movement. Why? As I told Ms. Coyle on Teo Bishop's blog Post "It takes all sorts" and I firmly believe that. Reconstructionism is for certain folks, and the Neo-Pagan flavors are for certain folks, and I want both of us to thrive. In the worship of the Gods, we DO have to find what suits US and do it, we have to figure out what we want, and do it. I am fully confident that the Gods will lead us to where we are best suited, but to do that the options have to be out there. Reconstructionism is not superior to Druidry or Eclecticism or Wicca, if it was I imagine the Gods would tell those folks. Plus, how can I flat out say they are wrong? I'm sure the Gods are more grand, big, and complex than I can picture.
These Neo-Pagans are my friends, I go to their circles, and when I remember I help them clean up trash. Some of them give me advice when I need it, some of them help me prep for drag shows, some of them let me sit in their plant room and soak up the sun during the winter. These people are my friends. I, and no one else, has the right to look at them and say "you are doing it wrong". These people are utterly devoted to their Gods, they give honor and praise. They are hospitable, kind, and patient with me, and I am ever thankful for it. Many of them exhibit the virtues that us Hellenistai hold most dear, and certain recons can't even demonstrate xenia to a curious Neo-Pagan.
These are my friends.