“If you’re a modernist, why do you practice traditionalist religion?”
“If you’re a liberal / Socialist / progressive, why are you a recon?”
OK, those are the most common versions of what amounts to the same dumb question, and here’s the skinny: You might as well be asking me “Hey, Ruadhán, if you suck cock, why do you like pineapple?” As far as I’m concerned, there in no contradiction there.
There are gods and spirits —the “spiritual world”— but there is also the ancestors, both directly linked by blood and those who worshipped the same deities I do. The idea that I practise reconstructionist or historical-based polytheist for the sake of history alone is all wrong. Maybe that’s what some people do, or maybe they do it because they’ve reasoned to themselves that it’s “most conservative” (similar to how Guy Maddin’s style, which revives film techniques of the silent and early talkie era, has been referred to as “ultra-conventional” or like), but that’s not where I’m coming from.
There is an ancestral consciousness that I wholeheartedly believe I’m tapping into with this method. If it was ever just about the gods and spirits, then I’d see no inherent issue with making it up as I go along, and refining things as I believed the theoi were directing me to. On the other hand, the ancestral lines had a bit to say, as well, and this is also a bond I’m forming between 200BCE and 2013CE, and that’s no less important, to me.
Now, true, my “blood ancestry” is mostly from the British Isles, not the Mediterranean (at least not since the migration of groups from the Mediterranean first reached the Isles long pre-history), but this is the resolution I feel led to —better to practise something far closer to what they might’ve recognised, if ever interacting with Hellenes, than something I’ve just made up whole-cloth. And furthermore, in practising this way, I also honour the legacy of my “spiritual ancestry”, as well. They worked hard to build these traditions, so the least I can do to honour them is, well, not to scrap it for something indisputably newer just for the sake of doing something new.