Had a “Ha!” moment

I’m not the kind of reconstructionist who takes the past as gospel, including on ritual matters. The world has changed and changed a lot since Theodosius and, if modern European and Mediterranean polytheistic religions are to be living and thriving traditions, they must live in the modern world and not inside a dome of historical re-enactment. It’s true that this may be interpreted as a creative carte blanche, which I don’t have a problem with, as long as it is presented as a modern creation, but personally I enjoy the historical closeness of religious practice when one is reviving what was once dead. However, on the other side of the scale is the creativity that fills in the inevitable blanks and responds to the necessary modernization, which is often needed given the social, political, and moral differences that separate us from the ancient world. Hence, for instance, the ideas expressed here.

So you’ll understand my joy when today I saw this at the National Archaeology Museum in Lisbon:

The tallest of them is no bigger than 8 inches, around 20 centimetres, and were found in ruins of the Roman city of Conimbriga, near modern-day Coimbra (Portugal). They’ve been dated from the second century and remind me of my own small home altars. Not that seeing something different at the museum would have drastically changed my portable set, as they were a practical solution to the problem posed by me moving in to a house in Lisbon where I have no way to make an actual ritual fire; at least not without leaving my room full of smoke. But, for a reconstructionist, and I still see myself as one even if some feel I’m too “open” or “modern”, there’s the inevitable smile when you do something believing it to be an innovation and – surprise surprise! – later find out that others have done similar things in the past.


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