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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions  (Read 293 times)

Kaio

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Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« on: September 11, 2017, 12:37:58 am »
 (I don't know much about non-reconstructed Pagan religions' purity requirements.)
 I don't see purity laws and requirements discussed very often among reconstructionists.

 Many reconstructed religions had purity requirements when they were widely practiced, and maybe some of them are specially difficult for modern people to observe, for several reasons.

 The Greek religion is one of the religions for which there is a great amount of extant, first-hand information regarding purity requirements. Some situations that make people impure in Greek religion involve bewitchment, birth, blood, curses, divine vengeance, death, sacrilege and sex (Parker 1996, p. vii). Many of these purity requirements concern temples, but there are also purity rules regarding religion at home (idem, p. 76-77).
 In Rome there is evidence that sex with one's spouse on the preceding night was not allowed if one was going to worship in one's lararium on the morning (Bodel 2008, p. 263). Also in Rome people appointed to receive an image of a Goddess were supposed to be pure, or to perform ablutions and to don white vestments beforehand (Weddle 2010, p. 130 and p. 157).
 According to two sagas bloodshed, the presence of criminals and the presence of weapons in holy places of at least one God worshiped in North Germanic religion were thought of as events that could bring about this God's wrath upon people accountable for the occurrence at hand (Davidson 2004, p. 87).

 Since most reconstructionists don't go to temples, I assume most have a home altar. And maybe one doesn't know, for instance, whether a guest - say, a non-close friend or a friend's friend in the context of a party - has just had sex or is a petty criminal and is near one's home altar, or in the room where one's home altar is. What would you do in a situation like this? How do you deal with purity requirements in your daily life?

References:

Bodel, J. P. Cicero's Minerva, Penates, and the Mother of the Lares: An Outline of Roman Domestic Religion. In: Bodel, J. P.; Olyan, S. M. (ed.) Household and family religion in antiquity: contextual and comparative perspectives. S.l.: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.
Davidson, H. R. E. Deuses e mitos do Norte da Europa ("Gods and Myths of Northern Europe"). Marcos Malvezzi Leal (translator). São Paulo: Madras, 2004 [1964].
Parker, R. Miasma: pollution and purification in early Greek religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996 [1983].
Weddle, P. (2010) Touching the Gods: physical interaction with cult statues in the Roman world,
Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/555/

 
When in Rome do as the Romans do. (Ambrose)

Darkhawk

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2017, 11:09:24 am »
(I don't know much about non-reconstructed Pagan religions' purity requirements.)
 I don't see purity laws and requirements discussed very often among reconstructionists.

It's actually one of the major 101 topics in Kemetic circles, for what it's worth.

Quote
Since most reconstructionists don't go to temples, I assume most have a home altar. And maybe one doesn't know, for instance, whether a guest - say, a non-close friend or a friend's friend in the context of a party - has just had sex or is a petty criminal and is near one's home altar, or in the room where one's home altar is. What would you do in a situation like this? How do you deal with purity requirements in your daily life?

So there are a couple of things I would note for things:

There is no physical way that a home altar would be structured with the same magical architecture as an ancient Egyptian temple.  There are tremendous requirements to put something together like that - depths of foundations, alignments with the stars, multiply layered galleries, and such - and something that doesn't have those traits doesn't have the cosmic unity required to be actually dangerous puritywise.  The scale is necessarily smaller.

Further, most people do not have open/ensouled statues.  An ordinary icon is not going to have the same care requirements or necessities.

Additionally, most people are not mortuary workers or tomb crafters, and thus do not have the super-strict requirements of balancing their home life with the sacred death work and keeping each clear from contamination by the other.

Generally speaking, I do ritual purifications before formal ritual, and aside from that it's superfluous.  I'm not a priest, I don't have an open statue, and I'm not at risk of crossing the streams.  People who are priests, or have open statues, or who work with mortuary materials would have other concerns.

And nobody's got a proper temple.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Sobekemiti

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 11:23:50 am »
Since most reconstructionists don't go to temples, I assume most have a home altar. And maybe one doesn't know, for instance, whether a guest - say, a non-close friend or a friend's friend in the context of a party - has just had sex or is a petty criminal and is near one's home altar, or in the room where one's home altar is. What would you do in a situation like this? How do you deal with purity requirements in your daily life?

I'm handwavey on how recon I really am these days, but for the most part, I do what works with my living situation. My shrines are in my bedroom, since that's all the space I have. I work within a Kemetic framework, and I will do formal purifications if I need them, but for the most part, I tend to just make sure I'm clean, and if I'm not, or otherwise not able to be pure, I take the day off. But I'm also working in a priestly framework, too, so for anyone who's more of a lay practitioner, they probably wouldn't need to adhere to the same level of purification standards.

If/when I am able to set up a separate shrine room, that's when the purity requirements will kick in with a little more formality, since I'll be able to isolate that room from the rest of the living areas, and it'll be much easier to keep it pure, and that means more formal purification rites. Given this room will contain an open statue that is, in essense, a house for Sobek, you can't fk around with purity. But that's not really my life at the moment. I feel very much like I'm in training for that, and putting policies and practices in place now that I can work with later when the shrine room becomes a reality.

And no, it won't be a temple. It'll just be a shrine room. Unless I have others living with me who can also tend to an actual temple (of any size), you can't tend a temple with only one person. So it'll just be a separate shrine room I'll have to deal with. But that's fine. That'll be more than enough to deal with, since it will still have stricter purity requirements than I'm currently able to maintain right now. That's more than enough for one person.

As for the purity of others who might come near my shrines, well. Mostly, this is a non-issue. I honestly don't really worry about it. My shrines are in my room, and it's easy enough to close off if I have to. But then my room makes it more of a private space, too, so people, I've found, are less willing to intrude. The only time I would be pedantic about ritual purity for guests before the shrine is if they were going to join me in ritual together. Outside of that, it's not something I worry about.

I see those sort of 'random person pops over' or other uncontrolled non-ritual guest visits as just part of every day life. I work in retail, so I see it much like that. It's just the every day stuff that you collect when interacting with people. You just wash it all off at the end of the day like normal. Unless we're doing ritual together, I really don't care about your ritual purity, because you're not me, and you don't have my religious practice, so it's not something to worry about. For the most part, they won't be coming anywhere near my shrines, so why worry about it? And if they pop their head in to say hi, and maybe glance at my shrines, well, so what? It's no harm to me or them or the shrines. Maybe this is a lax way to approach it, but that's how I see it. There's too much else to worry about that has a higher importance and priority than this for me and my life, at any rate.
Sobekemiti Isetemsaf | Queer Polytheist and Sobek Devotee | My pronouns are xe/hir/xem
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Darkhawk

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2017, 11:32:29 am »
I see those sort of 'random person pops over' or other uncontrolled non-ritual guest visits as just part of every day life. I work in retail, so I see it much like that. It's just the every day stuff that you collect when interacting with people. You just wash it all off at the end of the day like normal.

And I mean ancient home shrines were, like, a niche in the living room, best we can figure.  It's obvious that this was not an OMG PURITY situation.
as the water grinds the stone
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Sobekemiti

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 12:22:04 pm »
And I mean ancient home shrines were, like, a niche in the living room, best we can figure.  It's obvious that this was not an OMG PURITY situation.

This, pretty much. I have no open icons, so they're just shrines right now. Yes, there's a certain amount of delineating the space and keeping things as clean as I can manage so it's not messy and untidy. But it's not a temple, so I don't worry about maintaining temple-levels of purifications.
Sobekemiti Isetemsaf | Queer Polytheist and Sobek Devotee | My pronouns are xe/hir/xem
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Darkhawk

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 01:46:05 pm »
But it's not a temple, so I don't worry about maintaining temple-levels of purifications.

Should I start a thread Kemetic-side about the basic magical architecture of an Egyptian temple?  'Cos that shit is hella cool.
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Sefiru

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 06:28:35 pm »
Should I start a thread Kemetic-side about the basic magical architecture of an Egyptian temple?  'Cos that shit is hella cool.

Go for it.

Yei

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Re: Purity requirements and reconstructed religions
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 07:53:14 pm »
Should I start a thread Kemetic-side about the basic magical architecture of an Egyptian temple?  'Cos that shit is hella cool.

I'd like to see it. I could compare and contrast it with Mesoamerican temples.

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