Some Thoughts on Eclecticism, Syncreticism, and Inter-Cultural Transmission

Of Axe and Plough

Alternative Title: Get the Blog Juices Flowing!

And now for a bit of a “no duh” post..that will more than likely just sort of ramble.

Eclecticism has become something of a dirty word within reconstructionist/recon-derived communities, where it is viewed with distaste because of the appropriationist and culturally insensitive actions of the New Age community and the Wiccan boom of the 1990s. And this kind of mentality has come to dominate approaches towards methodologies like syncretic belief. Syncretism is well attested as kind of an intercultural transmission between different groups in classical antiquity, and even that is an overly used and misunderstood terminology.

Which is unfortunate, really, because eclecticism denotes a lack of rigidity and dogmatist allegiance to a singular set of paradigms. It is also not a new phenomenon: the Greeks viewed it as choosing the best of things. And it transcends cultural or religious methods that are taken…

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From Cicero’s De Natura Deorum

As for your deriving religion from the sky and stars, do you not see what a long way this takes you? You say that the sun and moon are deities, and the Greeks identify the former with Apollo and the latter with Diana. But if the Moon is a goddess, then Lucifer also and the rest of the planets will have to be counted gods; and if so, then the fixed stars as well. But why should not the glorious Rainbow be included among the gods ? it is beautiful enough, and its marvelous loveliness has given rise to the legend that Iris is the daughter of Thaumas.

And if the rainbow is a divinity, what will you do about the clouds? The rainbow itself is caused by some coloration of the clouds ; and also a cloud is fabled to have given birth to the Centaurs. But if you enroll the clouds among the gods, you will undoubtedly have to enroll the seasons, which have been deified in the national ritual of Rome. If so, then rain and tempest, storm and whirlwind must be deemed divine.