Holiness

I was having a discussion with a friend about the meaning of the term “holy,” and we concur that it in part means someone that is “set apart” or “separate.”  Similarly, the term “sacred” often involves objects or places set apart for religious purposes.  My Christian friend’s understanding is that God is holy in that God is transcendent and “set apart” or “separate” in that sense.  In his view everything in the universe is holy, but only insofar as those things point toward and partake of the transcendence underlying reality.

I was searching the Internet to get a feel for how pantheists describe their relationship to Reality, and I come across descriptions of the whole of reality as sacred, but reality as a whole is not set apart from anything, so the language is evolving or being used in a different sense.

I tend to think of the whole of reality as sacred in the sense that it induces awe in me and it underlies everything in my life that is particular and set apart and which I cherish and value.  It is the basis of what is sacred to me.  Perhaps it is not the best word, but that is the one I use to describe my response to Reality.

In a part of my prayers I sum it up thus: “No one is holy!  Everyone is holy!  Nothing is sacred!  Everything is sacred!”  In other words, I respond to reality the way people have responded to what is considered set apart, transcendent, holy, or sacred, even though the whole of reality is not itself in my view necessarily set apart from anything.

In the following link are lyrics by Peter Mayer that capture how I feel.

https://www.lyricsmania.com/holy_now_lyrics_peter_mayer.html

Do the terms “holy” or “sacred” mean anything to you in your path?

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Boy’s removal from church service spurs UK debate on welcoming those with autism

While this article is about autism and a Christian church, I have seen far too many Pagan groups in my life who did not want to accommodate people with disabilities.

Quote

King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University has one of the most famous choirs in Britain, known around the world for its Christmas Eve service, which the BBC has been broadcasting for the past 70 years. When Paul Rimmer decided to take his two sons to a choral evensong at the chapel two weeks ago (June 16), he expected his music-loving son Tristan would enjoy the service.

Instead the Rimmers’ visit brought headlines and an apology from the dean of the chapel and inspired a debate about how churches treat children and adults with autism after Rimmer was asked to remove 9-year-old Tristan, who has autism, for making too much noise.

Read the entire article

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Apotheosis

I was curious about what people might think about apotheosis and if there is a divine nature in human beings. I have some Judeo-Christian UPG regarding this. Since the Book says that “man was made in God’s image” that we humans are therefore god-like, or smaller versions of God.

I wonder if there is a Pagan view or views on this: do Human Beings have divine nature? Can Humans become like Gods? What is the relation between Humans and Gods in this context?

Again, in some forms of Christianity you have some mortals becoming Saints or deified in some ways. Is there a similar apotheosis for Humans in any Pagan beliefs?

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hot weather prediction – working with sun god(dess)

Hey,

Weather predictions for next week in my region forcast very hot (more then 30 degrees Celsius) weather for 5 ongoing days.
I’m thinking of doing some work with Sunna in the evenings. Still need to figure out what/how.

If you work with a sun God/Goddess – what rituals do you do? From what pantheon is he/she? Do you do something on a regular basis? Do you worship in balance with the weather?

Thanks for sharing!

F_S

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Ritual Schedule for the Lone Mexica

Ritual Schedule for the Lone Mexica

Introduction:

One of the most challenging, and ironic, part of my current practice, is that I follow a communal religion, but I have to worship individually. This makes keeping a ritual schedule very difficult, and it is easy to forget important festival dates. To further complicate matters, it is quite a challenge to even know how to go about celebrating a ritual that is supposed to involve feasting, dancing, and other group activities. In response, I have decided to do a study of the major Nahua festival days and distil their core elements into something an individual or small group can manage. Hopefully, I will make these ritual accessible to people while retaining their core identities. Nevertheless, I wanted to share some of my ideas with the community here to see if any improvements can be made, and to gain some feedback from other solo practitioners, who are already experienced in these matters.

Ritual Basics:

Before I pick a ceremony to recreate, I want to examine the basic elements of a ritual and understand how they can be used and adapted for modern small group worship. In ‘Religions of Mesoamerica,’ Davíd Carrasco identifies three core ritual elements of Mesoamerican religion: Worldmaking, Worldcentering, and Worldrenewing. These are difficult concepts to explain succinctly, especially without reference to Mesoamerican theology. However, to put it shortly, Worldmaking refers to a concept of how the cosmos (including the Earth) was organized by supernatural forces, Worldcentering to the places of worship (temples and sacred sites) and those centres were to be maintained by specialists who managed the supernatural forces (priests or lords). The last one, Worldrenewing, referred to the purpose of the ritual. This was to recreate and reorder the cosmos, thus ensuring continued fertility/prosperity.

To this list I would like to add two of my own: Mythic Recreation. Most rituals, in one form or another, were a symbolic recreation of a primal myth. The New Fire Ceremony is a good example of this, as it was intended to recreate the birth of the 5th sun. The second one is Performance and Participation. This is relatively simple. Rituals were essentially performances (including actual performances), and people could participate in them. So, they were active events. Of course, the concept that underpinned all of this was Nextlahualli, which means debt-payment. The idea is that life and the earth were given to humanity as a gift from the gods (at great cost), and that humans had to repay that debt with offerings and rituals. All these elements combine to give Mesoamerican religions their unique character.

What does this mean in practise? To be honest, many of these values are timeless, and really serve as principles to ensure a modern ritual is functioning the correct way. For example, Worldcentering would dictate that each ritual should occur in a set sacred space, and be led by a priest. This isn’t surprising, most modern polytheists have altars and a few even have priests. The hard part is Performance and Participation. Obviously, being an individual would make participating in a collective event quite difficult. I mean, you could dance in front of an altar, but I don’t think it would have quite the same effect. Therefore, this element will have to be carefully adapted on a case by case basis.

So now that we have the plan, let’s pick a ritual. I have decided on:

Tozoztontli – Lesser Perforation

This is one of the lesser known Nahua festivals. It likely began on April 4th, which was also the main feast day, and continued until April 23rd. This festival was dedicated to earth deities, in particular Coatlicue. Let’s begin with a recap.

According to Sahagún, this festival had several key elements. Following on from Tlacaxipehualiztli, flowers were offered at the Temple of Yopico, after which the people feasted on tamales of wild amaranth seeds. This was also an opportunity to clean-up after the previous ritual. The decaying remains of the left-over human skins were left to decay at Yopico, while the priests washed themselves. Incense was then carried through the temple with incense ladles, partly to honour the gods, and partly to remove the smell. This incense was presented to the four directions and to the sky. Older people were permitted to drink heavily, and there was singing at the temples.

Diego Durán adds that people went out to plant certain early-harvest crops on their fields. This was accompanied by several rituals that occurred within the fields and surrounding forests. Usually, this took the form of effigies, or cotton figures (paper figures in modern Mexico), which were hung from trees. Farmers then purified their fields with incense as well as rubber, food, pulque, and of course, flowers. He also adds that there was a general fast until midday, after which there was feasting among the populace.

They not a highly detailed descriptions, compared to some other rituals. Its not a particularly complex ceremony either. But that can be an advantage as we can focus on a few key elements which we can use for adaptation. The first step is to find a location (Worldcentering). In the original ritual, Yopico was the focus. However, that was for the imperial ceremony. Citizens celebrated in their fields, and we can do the same. The performance element of the ritual is the feasting on tamales, the presentation of incense to the four directions, and the creation of paper effigies. Rubber, food, flowers, and pulque serve as the material for debt-payment.

So, what would a modern variation of this ritual look like? It would begin with the creation of paper effigies, cut in the vague shape people (I believe that Alan Sandstrom’s Corn is Our Blood has some examples). This could be done before the ritual day, or even on the morning. The historical records were unclear about exactly what time, but we can get some idea of the order. Durán explicitly states that the main feast happened at midday, before which the people fasted (tortillas and water was permitted). The putting up on effigies seemed to happen before this, followed immediately by offerings. The waving of incense to the four directions probably happened at this time. I’m guessing that the feast continued with drinking, dancing, and singing late into the night. These are all activities that can be done either alone, or in a small group, thus allowing a reconstructionist to participate in structured worship.

There is one other element, bloodletting. The name of the ceremony refers to the bloodletting of children under 12 years old. Since none here should be under 18, and the bloodletting occurred within a society prepared to deal with it, this part of the ritual probably should be skipped. Although, blood offerings can be included as part of the offerings, as a substitute.

Concluding Thoughts:

I plan to transform this brief analysis into a kind of recipe card for a ritual. Something easy to follow and perform. In turn, I would like to do this for several rituals, maybe even all of them. This way, I plan to create a ritual book that can be used for small scale celebrations by individual practitioners. In the meantime, I’d welcome any thoughts, feedback, and suggestions.

Yei

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Dragons Of Eden

I was wondering of there were any Carl Sagan fans out there? I have not read any of his books lately, but I used to read “Dragons Of Eden” over and over again back in the day. It is my favorite Sagan book. I also like “Demon Haunted World” a lot as well. Sagan’s work is what led me to study Science at the University.

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Pressure

I was not sure where to put this post, but it does have some relationship to religion.

My father has only been in my life again the past year or so.  He had legal troubles, fled the police for two years, and just recently was freed from prison.  He was out of my life since I was about 12.  He comes from an extremely conservative family.  He is not a bad man.  He simply has his troubles.

I called him yesterday to wish him a happy father’s day, and after a few minutes he began to beg me to “change your ways,” and to marry a wife and have children.  I told him that my sister is having plenty of children.  But that isn’t good enough for him because she doesn’t bear his effing last name.

I was as kind and understanding toward him as I could be.  I know that he has an extremely different worldview than I do, influenced as he is by his family’s extremely conservative Pentecostal assumptions.  I explained to him that there is no changing my gay nature.  God never did it.  Nothing ever changed it.  And the one time I did pray about the matter at 15 I didn’t receive the sort of response that would be acceptable to anyone who doesn’t accept gay people as they are and as they love.

I am inclined toward the single life even as a gay person.  I do not date, and I do not have sex at this time in my life.  I might like to given the right opportunities, but the last several years that has not been right for me.  And I do not want children adopted or otherwise.  I have to take care of myself and my mental health.  I do not want to be responsible for children.  I am delighted by my one year old nephew and newborn niece, and that is enough for me.

I create in my own way.  I create prayers and rituals.  I at least try to inspire others to grow spiritually and in healing when they reach out to me for that.  I flourish in my spiritual life.  I reach out to the wounded people in my mother’s family to somehow inspire their own flourishing.  All of this is for me a very fruitful way to live, and I don’t need children to complete me or anyone else.

I am appalled that my father cannot feel fulfilled by his own grandchildren simply because they don’t bear his name.  Then he began to beg me to do this for him. Sorry, I’m not in the business of creating children for other people.  This is my life.

I am sure I will have to revisit this topic with him again, and I hope I can find the right words to convey to him my own values and worldview, but I don’t know if it will ever get through to him.  How does one communicate well one’s views to someone whose religious and educational background is so different from the place one currently inhabits?  I will of course try to be understanding of where he is coming from and exercise empathy, but it may be the time to give him a right telling off if he doesn’t back off.

Although I have drifted from Christianity somewhat over the last year or so, I have mostly been involved in Catholicism and high church Anglicanism rather than Pentecostalism, and among the Catholic and high Anglican cultures we have a place for the unmarried.  Although less common than in Catholicism, there are Anglican priests who personally choose not to marry, including the high church Anglican priest I currently have, and there is a monastic life in the Episcopal Church.  My priest has never married, and he is mature in years.

Though my Anglican clergy have encouraged me to explore taking religious vows in a monastic setting, I have also decided that this is not my calling, though I do live a life of mostly solitary prayer.  I have much of the structure in my personal life that a monastic would, but I do this in the context of my own life in the world, and when I do interact with others in the context of my personal religious life, it is usually those who have fallen through the cracks and have no other source of spiritual nourishment.

I have found the single life congenial to these practices, and in my Anglican context I have found support for this way of life.  I am not inhibited by the needs of a family.  When someone calls me needing my prayers or a ritual, as long as I’m not at work, I’ve been able to drop everything and go to that person.  I have seen the healing effect this has had on them.  Having become accustomed to this sort of culture that has alternatives to marriage in the spiritual life, I am baffled by this sudden pressure to marry a woman and pro-create.  I have never ever encountered anything like this in the high Anglican culture I have been immersed in which has now been my culture for almost half my life.

Have you ever dealt with similar pressures?  I suppose I have become so immersed in my own little world and niches that this is a totally unexpected and bizarre pressure to have placed on me now.

When I ponder being the misfit that I am in my broader society here in the Bible belt and within my family I always take comfort in this passage from Isaiah:

“Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;

Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.”  (Isaiah 56:3-8 KJV)

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