Developing a framing persona for reconstruction

There's been talk recently about how having a framing device, a narrative persona you can use as a coat rack to develop your own polytheist reconstruction with a strong sense of time and place. I happen to have done this in the past without knowing it was a common practice, so here's how I worked out my own. Maybe it'll help someone.

I got introduced to heathenry by Norse heathens, but I didn't want to be Norse-oriented. I reflexively want to be useful, and to me that means not doubling up on effort. I ended up wanting to worship a deity that wasn't getting any love.

There was plenty of choice, but I picked Viradectis because she was the closest 'obscure' Goddess to where I grew up, and because I knew her worshipper total sat at zero. She does have a few inscriptions on votive stones, but nothing that really gives a strong indicator of her personality.

That put me in the Tungri tribe, and I wanted to be able to fall back on Tacitus' Germania, so I picked 100 CE, around when it was written. However, I didn't want to limit myself entirely to that neck of the woods, so I went looking for a way to explore the faiths of neighboring places, and this is where I figured out the idea of constructing a persona.

I didn't want to commit to things if they weren't not needed, to avoid the feeling that I was roleplaying. In order to be able to roam, though, I understood that my persona should either be military or trade-based.

I ended up liking several deities of the neighboring Treveri, as well as Nehalennia, so I eventually opted for 'trader' since I wanted to able able to move outside of the warrior archetype. Of course, I could have gone with the warrior - the Treveri were soldiers too, and a lot of their deities have martial aspects. The deity I felt most attracted to was Lenus Mars, however, and I decided to use the trader frame to stop it from becoming too warlike.

Doing this research lead me to learn more about the Tungri themselves, and made me decide to place my frame-self into the Condrusi pagus, since Viradectis-worship was localized there and I still wanted to use it as a main anchor-point.

And the last thing I decided was gender - I'd been trying to take a gender-neutral optic before but I ended up seriously wanting to embrace a feminine point of view. I used to feel more ambivalent about embracing the persona, but I started wondering about how virtually all the deities I gave cult to were coded male. I still give cult to, say, Lenus Mars, but I involve Ancamna as well, and my focus is more on divine couples.

Strictly speaking, the framing self doesn't make sense: the Condrusi were Celts not Germanic, and there's no real attestation of 'woman traders' of the kind I envisioned. But I felt out every step of the way and ended up with something internally coherent and suited to my needs. These days, I've gone a little beyond the frame but it served me very well, and when I want to recenter my beliefs, it helps to meditate on it.

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