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Author Topic: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today  (Read 2973 times)

GoldenSiren

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How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« on: June 19, 2012, 03:54:44 pm »
Hello there! :D:

I was reading a thread that mentioned the literature of today and how it might apply to spirituality. I had a few different thoughts on the topic, and thanks to some advice by a staff member (thanks again, Absent ;) ) I decided to start a totally different thread on the topic.

So, my question to you is:
The published stories of today about the gods (such as those ever-famous Greek Mythology books, or the stories about the legend of Thor's Hammer or information on the different pantheons or or or... anything similar) do they affect how you view or worship your god/desses? If, say, one worshiped Thor and read the stories about him, would you then take that information and add to your rituals or otherwise incorporate it into your life? Or would you simply go with "Cool story bro" and set it aside to read with your kids for kicks and giggles?

If the literature DOES affect your worship, how so? How have you (or haven't you) incorporated myths into your life/rituals/views on a particular god or goddess/etc?


(Side note: If I have failed to put this thread into the correct category again, feel free to move it :p still working this out)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 03:57:00 pm by GoldenSiren »
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Shine

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2012, 04:16:56 pm »
Quote from: GoldenSiren;60834
So, my question to you is:
The published stories of today about the gods (such as those ever-famous Greek Mythology books, or the stories about the legend of Thor's Hammer or information on the different pantheons or or or... anything similar) do they affect how you view or worship your god/desses? If, say, one worshiped Thor and read the stories about him, would you then take that information and add to your rituals or otherwise incorporate it into your life? Or would you simply go with "Cool story bro" and set it aside to read with your kids for kicks and giggles?

If the literature DOES affect your worship, how so? How have you (or haven't you) incorporated myths into your life/rituals/views on a particular god or goddess/etc?

 
Yes and no, but maybe I've got a weird view of literature in respect to my practices derived in part by my understanding of the Kemetic worldview.

With the Kemetic worldview, a story isn't necessarily just a story. It can be a context in which you can place yourself to achieve an end. And since virtually every act of worship (at least in my personal practice) has some mythical context behind it, stories are deeply incorporated with my path, even when I don't actively acknowledge the fact. Gosh, I hope I just made sense. . .

As to my views of the Netjeru themselves, it's mixed. A lot of my beliefs about Bast and Anpu are definitely from myths and stories--as much as we have available to us--but I have picked up plenty of stuff just on UPG or from reading other people's opinions and saying, "yeah, I agree". For me, it's important to find a way to mix what we know about the Netjeru from history and what we know from our own personal experiences. I won't say I've gotten the right mixture, but I've gotten to a point where it seems to be working.

It's different with my tentative Hellenic practices, but I don't feel comfortable enough to talk about it. (I do have an opinion, of course.)
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Juniperberry

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2012, 04:19:07 pm »
Quote from: GoldenSiren;60834
Hm

So, my question to you is:
The published stories of today about the gods (such as those ever-famous Greek Mythology books, or the stories about the legend of Thor's Hammer or information on the different pantheons or or or... anything similar) do they affect how you view or worship your god/desses? If, say, one worshiped Thor and read the stories about him, would you then take that information and add to your rituals or otherwise incorporate it into your life?
)


Yes. But first it has to be deconstructed; I want to understand the original context, filter out external influences, find corroboration for any theories I might develop, and examine it against any information I've already gathered and feel confident in.
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2012, 04:29:43 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;60836
Yes. But first it has to be deconstructed; I want to understand the original context, filter out external influences, find corroboration for any theories I might develop, and examine it against any information I've already gathered and feel confident in.

 
So your approach is fairly scientific? Do you ever just roll with it on a "feeling" or do you always use that kind of approach?
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GoldenSiren

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2012, 04:38:01 pm »
Quote from: Shine;60835
Yes and no, but maybe I've got a weird view of literature in respect to my practices derived in part by my understanding of the Kemetic worldview.

With the Kemetic worldview, a story isn't necessarily just a story. It can be a context in which you can place yourself to achieve an end. And since virtually every act of worship (at least in my personal practice) has some mythical context behind it, stories are deeply incorporated with my path, even when I don't actively acknowledge the fact. Gosh, I hope I just made sense. . .

As to my views of the Netjeru themselves, it's mixed. A lot of my beliefs about Bast and Anpu are definitely from myths and stories--as much as we have available to us--but I have picked up plenty of stuff just on UPG or from reading other people's opinions and saying, "yeah, I agree". For me, it's important to find a way to mix what we know about the Netjeru from history and what we know from our own personal experiences. I won't say I've gotten the right mixture, but I've gotten to a point where it seems to be working.

It's different with my tentative Hellenic practices, but I don't feel comfortable enough to talk about it. (I do have an opinion, of course.)


Yeah I think I understood that :p so the acts of worship you participate in ARE in fact entrenched in myth, however that was something already established by others, and therefore you may or may not be aware of the mythology involved (Yes? No? Did I get that right? :confused: )


Quote from: Shine;60841
So your approach is fairly scientific? Do you ever just roll with it on a "feeling" or do you always use that kind of approach?


and I'm also curious as to this too ^^ interesting concept... hmm
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Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2012, 04:56:59 pm »
Quote from: GoldenSiren;60834

If the literature DOES affect your worship, how so? How have you (or haven't you) incorporated myths into your life/rituals/views on a particular god or goddess/etc?



First, I should make it clear that I'm not talking about written literature here.  I'm talking about my baby stories, which were a mixed bag of Native and European (specifically British Isles) legends.  They shaped a lot of how I look at the world and what qualities I value.

My only clue which world we were in when I was a kid was that European fairy tales tended to start with 'once upon a time' and end with 'and they lived happily ever after', and the Native ones usually started either with 'back before we were here' (for god stories) or 'in my grandfather's/mother's time' for fairy tales, and usually ended with 'and that is why....'.  Both might have been family convention, but it was my signal.  

I thought Robin Hood and Hiawatha were buddies, I saw the woman with cold feet and Janet from Tam Lin as personal heroes.  Nobody bothered to differentiate, and I think they didn't bother with adherence to original stories either.  Most things were thrown together where they fit, and a large family full of storytellers were bound to twist and bend a bit.  (I'm not leaving myself out of that either - my stories are always bent to fit the time or events which bring them to voice.)

But, while I don't have actual written literature to point to, the stories I do have are tightly bound up in the things I believe and the virtues I hold.  It's kind of organic.  I'm not in the habit of introspection, and don't worry about whether my practice of my religion agrees with my cousin's or my mother's.  I don't tend to think about it.  If I am faithful to the guides I have, which boils down to 'if I act like the characters in the stories that I approve of', then I am doing it right.

A lot of my values are a bit 'off' of what is considered virtuous in modern pagandom, but they fit the stories I was raised with.  Without those stories I might be the same person.  Maybe.  But with them it's like I have backing for the person I am.  I know how it turns out. :)

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« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 04:59:02 pm by Marilyn/Absentminded »
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 04:59:48 pm »
Quote from: GoldenSiren;60843
Yeah I think I understood that :p so the acts of worship you participate in ARE in fact entrenched in myth, however that was something already established by others, and therefore you may or may not be aware of the mythology involved (Yes? No? Did I get that right? :confused: )


 
Basically. Almost every ritual action, whether done in worship or in a magical spell, has its basis in stories (or, more specifically, myth). And when you're in ritual, you place yourself in that context and play the part of whatever deity happens to be involved. In other words, we're talking about interaction between deities, not between human and deity ("The Conception of God in Ancient Egypt" by Jan Assman is where I learned this, I believe.)

That doesn't mean that every interaction is like that--just the more formalized, ritualized ones. Me kneeling at the shrine to say good afternoon, or to ask for patience and graciousness, etc. doesn't have any mythical basis as far as I know. Historically, personal piety seems to be more human to deity kind of interaction while the priesthood had the deity to deity interactions.

From what I can tell, a lot of modern worshippers see it more as an act. In other words, I act like Djehuty when I remove the offerings from the shrine. Or I act like Aset when casting a healing spell and my patient is acting like Heru-sa-Aset. I kind of see it as putting on a hat. You put on the god hat and become that god, but only in that limited context.

Mythical context is actually everywhere in ancient Egypt. For example, burial rites are closely related to the story of Ausir, especially the techniques used to bury him, such as the act of mummification. These acts set a precedent for everyone else so that, by putting yourself, at this present moment, into that ancient act, you can invoke that power and become effective.

At the end of it all, whether you realize it or not, you're participating, more or less, in a kind of mythical drama. It's drama at a smaller scale since we're just mortals.
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 05:10:06 pm »
Quote from: Shine;60835

As to my views of the Netjeru themselves, it's mixed. A lot of my beliefs about Bast and Anpu are definitely from myths and stories--as much as we have available to us--but I have picked up plenty of stuff just on UPG or from reading other people's opinions and saying, "yeah, I agree". For me, it's important to find a way to mix what we know about the Netjeru from history and what we know from our own personal experiences. I won't say I've gotten the right mixture, but I've gotten to a point where it seems to be working.

 
It's actively complicated with the netjeru, of course, because unlike the Greeks and such, there isn't a literary corpus as such.  These weren't stories that were written down, though they may have been rendered orally - there's a bit in Herodotus that goes 'about this there is a sacred story told' about a festival, though of course he says nothing about what the story was - but stories that were referred to, talked about.

Trying to assemble all of an Egyptian myth is a little bit like taking a pile of quotations ascribed to Shakespeare and things people think are literary allusions and, from that, assembling a script for Hamlet.
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2012, 05:23:41 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;60850
It's actively complicated with the netjeru, of course, because unlike the Greeks and such, there isn't a literary corpus as such.  These weren't stories that were written down, though they may have been rendered orally - there's a bit in Herodotus that goes 'about this there is a sacred story told' about a festival, though of course he says nothing about what the story was - but stories that were referred to, talked about.

Trying to assemble all of an Egyptian myth is a little bit like taking a pile of quotations ascribed to Shakespeare and things people think are literary allusions and, from that, assembling a script for Hamlet.

 
Oh yes, indeed. We do have allusions and what not to different myths, and that's generally what I go off of. I've noticed there's not a lot on Bast. :( But it's possible to find some good stuff on Anpu. The "big" gods, such as Ausir and Amun-Ra, have a lot more stories surrounding them, but we can't always know if the versions we've got are the traditional Kemetic ones. Didn't Ausir's story evolve over centuries until it was finally committed to paper and embellished by Plutarch?

Makes me wish the ancient Egyptians had the equivalent of a Hesiod, or even a Homer. Would be better than nothing. . .
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Juniperberry

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2012, 05:41:42 pm »
Quote from: Shine;60841
So your approach is fairly scientific? Do you ever just roll with it on a "feeling" or do you always use that kind of approach?

 
Well, yeah. My feelings determine what aspects I want to look at more closely. If I get a "feeling" that the Jotuns are actually dead deities than I'm going to research it. But I don't go around stating it as UPG fact. If I feel that I've seen my fetch than I'm going to look at that pretty closely. If I feel something I don't have an answer for, I just keep it in the back of my mind.

Take the Deity Drama thread for example... Either people feel it was Loki or they don't. It can't be both. And maybe its something no one has even considered yet and so they wouldn't have even developed a feeling about that. When I'm looking into the concept of the fylgja/separate soul, I really enjoy coming across a paper that suggests that the fylgja was the placenta/that which attends. I *never* would have considered that on my own. When Thor crosses the river between the giant's legs? Probably wouldn't have assumed it was menstrual blood. It helps me spiritually to dive into them the way that I do, and opens a whole new world.

And really, there also has to be some sort of emotional connection to the mythology and literature to even get involved in the first place. But I wasn't born and raised in that belief system, I can't trust my feelings on something to be 100% the whole story. And if my feeling about something was wrong, it just means there's more to consider.

Is that what you were asking about? I think its a pretty common thing in reconstructionism, but now I feel like I said something weird. :p
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GoldenSiren

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2012, 05:59:26 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;60861
Well, yeah. My feelings determine what aspects I want to look at more closely. If I get a "feeling" that the Jotuns are actually dead deities than I'm going to research it. But I don't go around stating it as UPG fact. If I feel that I've seen my fetch than I'm going to look at that pretty closely. If I feel something I don't have an answer for, I just keep it in the back of my mind.

Take the Deity Drama thread for example... Either people feel it was Loki or they don't. It can't be both. And maybe its something no one has even considered yet and so they wouldn't have even developed a feeling about that. When I'm looking into the concept of the fylgja/separate soul, I really enjoy coming across a paper that suggests that the fylgja was the placenta/that which attends. I *never* would have considered that on my own. When Thor crosses the river between the giant's legs? Probably wouldn't have assumed it was menstrual blood. It helps me spiritually to dive into them the way that I do, and opens a whole new world.

And really, there also has to be some sort of emotional connection to the mythology and literature to even get involved in the first place. But I wasn't born and raised in that belief system, I can't trust my feelings on something to be 100% the whole story. And if my feeling about something was wrong, it just means there's more to consider.

Is that what you were asking about? I think its a pretty common thing in reconstructionism, but now I feel like I said something weird. :p


Very good points. I do that myself actually, and agree totally with what you're saying. I don't think you said something weird, per se, more like your first post sounded very analytic in the same sense as a scientist examines a hypothesis and breaks it down with carefully planned experiments to determine if said hypothesis was indeed correct. It was intriguing, since I never looked at mythological tales and religious worship with that intent in mind. So therefore further explanation was asked. It DOES in fact explain what I do, just that I never have looked at it from that almost scientific angle :)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 06:01:59 pm by GoldenSiren »
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 06:07:21 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;60861
Well, yeah. My feelings determine what aspects I want to look at more closely. If I get a "feeling" that the Jotuns are actually dead deities than I'm going to research it. But I don't go around stating it as UPG fact. If I feel that I've seen my fetch than I'm going to look at that pretty closely. If I feel something I don't have an answer for, I just keep it in the back of my mind.


I find your POV interesting.
 
I always thought UPG = opinion, or otherwise personal fact? And what if you can't prove something, but you feel very strongly that you've got it "right" (insofar as a person can be right about these things)? Would you integrate the idea into your worldview or practices, but keep it private?

Quote
And really, there also has to be some sort of emotional connection to the mythology and literature to even get involved in the first place. But I wasn't born and raised in that belief system, I can't trust my feelings on something to be 100% the whole story. And if my feeling about something was wrong, it just means there's more to consider.

Is that what you were asking about? I think its a pretty common thing in reconstructionism, but now I feel like I said something weird. :p


It was kind of what I was asking. I guess I'm more wondering if there's any point where a "feeling" would hold enough sway in your mind for you to integrate in your life whatever that feeling was attached to in absence of sources that would support or refute your feeling.

Obviously historical sources have greater sway in reconstructionism, but I've noticed that some recons will take feelings into consideration in absence of historical proof so long as it doesn't fly in the face of other historically known facts or isn't a huge leap in logic. From what I understood from the Deity Drama thread, that's kind of what's happening. There seem to be people who stick solely to the lore and there are others who are a bit "looser", for lack of a better term.

It might also have to do with source material available. For example, In Asatru and other northern traditions, there appears to be more sources to look into if you have a hunch about something. In others, sources are fragmentary, so followers have to take a "best guess" based off sources that are actually available.

Approaches will also probably vary depending on the kind of religion (ex: a religion centered around devotion to deity vs a religion centered more around the state or tribe), I would think.

Okay, enough rambling. Thanks for answering my questions. :)
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GoldenSiren

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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2012, 07:00:06 pm »
Quote from: Shine;60866
I find your POV interesting.
 
It was kind of what I was asking. I guess I'm more wondering if there's any point where a "feeling" would hold enough sway in your mind for you to integrate in your life whatever that feeling was attached to in absence of sources that would support or refute your feeling.

Obviously historical sources have greater sway in reconstructionism, but I've noticed that some recons will take feelings into consideration in absence of historical proof so long as it doesn't fly in the face of other historically known facts or isn't a huge leap in logic. From what I understood from the Deity Drama thread, that's kind of what's happening. There seem to be people who stick solely to the lore and there are others who are a bit "looser", for lack of a better term.


Lol I was one of the "looser" people on that thread :p maybe because I'm not as familiar with Loki so ? :whis:

I can agree with what your saying too. I'm not TOO into recon (I'm eclectic lol I mishmash) so therefore if something feels right and doesn't outright conflict with something else already established, I can easily go "that makes sense, I can believe that" and not have to research. However if it is something I never considered or conflicts with what was previously believed, I'll break it down and research as much as possible.
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2012, 07:14:25 pm »
Quote from: GoldenSiren;60873
Lol I was one of the "looser" people on that thread :p maybe because I'm not as familiar with Loki so ? :whis:

I can agree with what your saying too. I'm not TOO into recon (I'm eclectic lol I mishmash) so therefore if something feels right and doesn't outright conflict with something else already established, I can easily go "that makes sense, I can believe that" and not have to research. However if it is something I never considered or conflicts with what was previously believed, I'll break it down and research as much as possible.

 
If you're not very familiar with a god, from reading or personal experience, what other interpretation can you have other than a "loose" one? ;)

I'm reconnish, but your approach is pretty much mine when I can't find sources and have a hole in my practice to fill. Lately I've been trying to balance the hardline historical approach and the fuzzy "do what feels right" approach.

There's gotta be a balance somewhere for recons and eclectics alike, where there's history and scholarship underlying practices, but not smothering them. The proportion would depend on your personal approach.
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Re: How Myths and Stories Affect Worship Today
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2012, 10:25:57 pm »
Quote
I guess I'm more wondering if there's any point where a "feeling" would hold enough sway in your mind for you to integrate in your life whatever that feeling was attached to in absence of sources that would support or refute your feeling.


Sure. The materials were written or interpreted by non-heathens, and there's an expectation of flawed information,  so it requires a certain level of critical analysis, but it certainly isn't a gospel that has to be followed word for word. Personal traditions and personal relationships is what heathenry comes down to.

As you know, the mythology also isn't literal. So when you hear that Thor went to the edge of the forest, you need to understand what the original audience understood by forest. And that's where all the theories and crap come in. How was it understood then, and how does that change our relationship to the story and the characters now? My personal feelings aren't relevant to that question.  

If I was feeling really conflicted by the discrepancy in personal truth versus the norse mythology I probably wouldn't be a heathen. There has to be enough common ground to where any feelings don't really impact the identity of the belief system that much. Once they do, can you really claim to be a participant of that system?

Anyway, the stories are just the bones... which are fleshed out with personal traditions and experiences.
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[Non-Staff Positions]

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[Non-Staff Positions]
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Randall