Recently, I saw a post by answersfromvanaheim.tumblr about the differences between reconstructionism and revivalism, and I’ve realised I’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other in the time I’ve been Heathen. I started out quite reconstructionist, and I’ve become more revivalist – and I think there’s a very good reason for it.
Coming into a new religion, you want lots of information, lots of context, lots of references for how you should do things and what to believe and what’s okay or not. Unfortunately, Heathenry does not have a lot of that. As someone just learning the cardinal directions, spiritually, who had never been in a religion before, I clung to all the references and context that I could – namely, the historical sources. But since then, my focus has changed, and I’ve become more comfortable with my religion and with my practice.
I now know my goals within Heathenism: namely, to practice in a way that develops me. I cater the religion to my own spiritual needs.
That’s pretty vague, but rest assured, my Heathenry is still markedly Heathenry. I wouldn’t be in this religion if it didn’t ring true down to my core. But maybe there are things that I don’t do much of (blóts, sumbel, rituals) and things that I do a lot of (meditation, introspection, offerings, rune magic). I gravitate towards the gods that resonate with me, either in general or in specific circumstances (I am a life-long friend to Heimdall, but my time with Baldr and Hödr was temporary, and my time with Tyr will be, too. Probably). I suppose my version of Heathenry is more “touchy-feely”, in that I am less focused on going out and doing things and more focused on getting my inner self straightened out. To put this into revivalist/recon-derived terms, my gods come from the historical record, but my way of dealing with them is very personal, and not necessarily historically attested.
This is not to say that reconstructionism is bad, or somehow less developed – just that there’s a different focus. I’m very much solitary. I’d probably be a hermit way back when.
We recon-derived (or post-recon, or revivalist) practitioners have a reputation for being fluffy, or not very serious. I don’t know why. But I am very, very serious about my religion. That’s precisely why my style has changed and developed the way it has. My religion changes and lives with me, because it’s a part of my life. It’s not separate to me. It’s a part of me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.