My father is here visiting at the moment. Since he reads this blog, a few of our conversations have orbited around what I write here, as well as the concept of reconstructionism and so on, and from there into discussions of what the point is in religion anyway.
His comment was that religion was a conversation about ourselves; mine that religion is about relationships and meaning. (His response was that that was probably the same thing he was saying.) And that reconstruction is interesting because it’s a process of picking up a line of conversation that’s been dropped for, well, a while. (What’s a couple thousand years between friends?)
I don’t often talk directly about gods. I mean, I will refer to the Powers, I will talk about the Powers, and hell, anything tagged ‘lessons’ is actually directly referential to a very specific Power whether or not you can put a name to ’em or even notice that I’m doing it that way. I’ve got more than a few strong opinions about appropriate ways of looking at the gods.
But when I’m talking religion, I’m not typically talking about gods. The Powers are numbered among the sorts of things that we can have relationships with, and the important thing is right relationship. Solving the problem of right relationship as a general case is more important than specific personal relationships with the Powers. When you have the right relationship problem solved, right relationship with the Powers will follow. (That being said, I will probably write about right relationship with the Powers eventually … when I’ve written enough groundwork for it.)
In the general sense, the Powers are part of our framework for observing the world. This is not that Jungian archetype thing unless you take it that way; it is simple recognition of what it means to be an immanent deity with complex interrelationships not only with other immanent deities, but natural events, psychological phenomena, social concepts, and various other things. To start out with, a sound relationship with the world is a necessary foundation to a relationship with the Powers.
This is meaning: to look at the interlacings of, say, life and death as revealed in the Mysteries of Wesir and take that out into the relationship with the world. The establishment of the king of the Duat is the same as the planting of the grain; the great destruction of the hacking up of the earth by the Rivals is the plowing and harrowing. There’s a lot of stuff that we can pull from this, as a handy for-example, and that’s part of the conversation that we have about ourselves, about the world: the way that to eat is to kill, and the way that life emerges from death. That means things, and it means things to us on a human level – something that we can understand about the Powers involved, yes, but something that has important human significance.
I am not going to have a personal relationship with each of the three thousand or so entities whose names or titles we have recovered from monuments (if I’m remembering that number correctly). But I can learn to look at the world in a way that is amenable to the dialogue that is opened by these names.