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Author Topic: Reconstructionism vs Revivalism  (Read 1985 times)

Offline Riley.rifle

  • Remetj
  • Country: us
Reconstructionism vs Revivalism
« on: March 11, 2018, 02:55:09 pm »
Em hotep all,

I was just curious what the differences between reconstructionism and revivalist are? Like I have a general idea of what makes something reconstructionist, but revivalism seems a bit more elusive... can someone explain the differences to me. Particularly any functional differences?

Thank you and senebty,

Dua Ra!
Dua Netjer!

Offline Tai'awepwawet

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: scotland
Re: Reconstructionism vs Revivalism
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2018, 03:21:48 pm »
The way I've always distinguished it, is in reconstructionism, you're looking to get as close to the thing as you can. What they did, how they did it, historical references everywhere.

With revivalism, you're looking to get as close to the spirit of the thing as you can. What they did, why they did it, updates, revisions, and improvisations everywhere.

A good functional difference would be to look at KO, which is revivalist. We have the likes of the RPD, of Senut. These are not historically attested per se, but they are effective in what they were designed to do. They are about reviving a living Kemetic religion, not about reconstructing a perfectly accurate historical version.

Where reconstructionism guides you to hold closely to translations and dig for knowledge on how to perform your practice, revivalism encourages you to let a mix of modern life, practical considerations, and historical information all blend together to inform your practice.

Another practical example might be the fact that clean clothes are technically allowed in Senut if we don't have ritual whites. This is a reflection of modern laundering practices, and more revivalist than reconstructionist.

None of this is to say that a revivalist religion is always super flexible by the way. Many revivalists are quite easy going, but revivalism itself just means you're not beholden to following ancient sources to the letter. As seen in KO, you can still create a revivalist religion that has plenty of formal limits.
Isha (they) | Selene (she)

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Reconstructionism vs Revivalism
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2018, 09:01:48 pm »
Em hotep nefer, Riley! :D

Copypasta'ing something I posted to Reddit donkey's years ago about the distinctions:

A Revival is the growth of something or an increase in the activity of something after a long period of no growth or activity. In this sense, Reconstructionism is "a Revivalism." What distinguishes Reconstructionism within the broader category of "Revivalism" is that Reconstructionism relies much more heavily on historical matter than other forms and does not wish to depart a micrometer from "traditional forms" as gleaned (and, to be frank as an Historical Scientist myself, frequently misunderstood and poorly-applied) from textual and archaeological evidence deemed "relevant" through whatever processes of rationalization. Reconstructionism seeks legitimization in the eyes of the Modern World through claims to historicity, primarily, since, as a "religious process" (one which usually advocates polytheistic models of religion, considered antiquated at best by much of the Modern World), it cannot claim much less obtain legitimization through established culture and other iterations of continuity in the way that the major religions of the world can (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.).

Moreover, Reconstructionism as a process inevitably seeks to recreate most elements of specific time periods to better understand the religion(s) in question. The primary danger of this, however, is anachronism, and confusing the process for "the" end-goal of the process. Reconstructionism is, ideally, intended to be a process that leads to the establishment of a coherent religion with functional rituals and institutions, etc., while also allowing for future growth and innovation. Unfortunately, that's not what usually happens with attempts at Reconstructionism -- that is, so far in Modern "Pagan" history.

This is to be contrasted with Revivalisms falling along the lines of "Eclecticism" -- something of a four-letter-word for Modern "Pagan"-types, much like the term "Neopagan" is for many -- which aren't usually reliant upon historical sources much at all and tend to be personal/individualistic, varying a great deal and lacking overall theological and praxical coherency as such.

Reconstructionism and Eclecticism aren't the only forms of Revivalism. Esotericisms like Thelema (a fusion of "Eastern" and "Western" Mysticisms with heavy emphasis on ritualism [in the form of "Ceremonial Magic"]) and "Pagan" Theosophy are also Revivalisms. Then there are "historically-informed Revivalisms" (Kemetic Orthodoxy being one such example) which seek to distance themselves both from "hardline Reconstructionism" and Eclecticism, as well as Esoteric movements like Thelema and "Pagan" Theosophy. It's a mess of a spectrum, really.

Once more for emphasis: Reconstructionism IS a Revivalism, and it relies on historical documentation for answers concerning form and function more than most approaches.

Revivalism for our purposes here (not to be confused with Christian Revivals; they're an entirely separate can of worms) is a category for "Pagan" religions that have no "continuous tradition." In other words, "Pagan" religions that went "extinct" and are being brought back in some form, to some degree. They're all Modern approaches, after a fashion. They exist in contrast to, say, Thai polytheistic religion(s) and African traditional religions (ATRs), which are distinctly not considered nor categorized as "Pagan" much less "Revivalist," irrespective of the number of Gods and spirits venerated in these religions. While religions such as Thai religion(s) and ATRs have not remained unchanged over the centuries, and have "kept up with the times" in their own ways, they have not gone particularly "extinct" as, say, polytheistic Mesopotamian religions have, and as Scandinavian polytheistic religion(s) have.

I hope this clarifies the issue for you somewhat! ;D

« Last Edit: March 11, 2018, 09:03:48 pm by Sedjfaiemitui »
"Endowed by Two Fathers"
𓁣 𓁠
Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Herishef, Wesir-Narefy, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu


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