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Eclecticism, Syncreticism, and Inter-Cultural Transmission

By Marc

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 and mutated into a personalized belief. It is also not a focus on religious terminology, but

I’m of the mind that eclecticism cannot be truly obtained in an individual polytheistic practice. Conversely, I am not personally of the mind that syncretism is intrinsic to polytheism and I dispute the application of the term “syncretic” with the use of source material derived from outside the religion itself. I believe that the polytheist approach allows a great deal more give-and-take in terms of inter-cultural transmission and is probably one of the greatest beauties of the theistic understanding it provides.

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