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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice  (Read 906 times)

BubbleCow

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Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« on: January 30, 2019, 02:35:20 pm »
Hello all,
Everyone was so nice and so helpful last time I posted so when I came to some hitches with my practice I figured this was the place to go. I’m just going to kind of conglomerate all my questions

-When you pray to your dieties (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like? Like, do you speak out loud? Speak casually like you would to a friend, or very formally? Do you recite prayers written by others for them? Do you sit in silence and say nothing at all?
I suppose I’m always worried that I’m praying ‘wrong’. I’m very awkward all the time.

-Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar? I know the important thing is connecting with the gods and not any material things, but I’m a very tangible and visual person- I feel like I’m offering the most when I add things to the altar, caring for it, etc. I’d like to someday have a beautiful and full altar, though I worry that me being so focused on that material aspect is a bad thing, spiritually.

-Do you think using modernized representations of the gods in statues and pictures for altars is bad? I know sone only use imGes from original cultures but especially with Egyptian art I have a hard time connecting with it, as opposed to more modernized depictions with I suppose more dimension to them. Not sexualized or fantasized, just not in traditional Egyptian style.

-this ones random; what’s the consensus of getting a tattoo of a god or representing them? Is that considered disrespectful or as a tribute to your worship? I’m a huge body art person and it’s something I’d like to do one day if it’s not a bad thing to do.

Thank you all for any answers you may have  :)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 02:37:37 pm by BubbleCow »

Kylara

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2019, 04:29:16 pm »
Hello all,
Everyone was so nice and so helpful last time I posted so when I came to some hitches with my practice I figured this was the place to go. I’m just going to kind of conglomerate all my questions

-When you pray to your dieties (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like? Like, do you speak out loud? Speak casually like you would to a friend, or very formally? Do you recite prayers written by others for them? Do you sit in silence and say nothing at all?
I suppose I’m always worried that I’m praying ‘wrong’. I’m very awkward all the time.

-Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar? I know the important thing is connecting with the gods and not any material things, but I’m a very tangible and visual person- I feel like I’m offering the most when I add things to the altar, caring for it, etc. I’d like to someday have a beautiful and full altar, though I worry that me being so focused on that material aspect is a bad thing, spiritually.

-Do you think using modernized representations of the gods in statues and pictures for altars is bad? I know sone only use imGes from original cultures but especially with Egyptian art I have a hard time connecting with it, as opposed to more modernized depictions with I suppose more dimension to them. Not sexualized or fantasized, just not in traditional Egyptian style.

-this ones random; what’s the consensus of getting a tattoo of a god or representing them? Is that considered disrespectful or as a tribute to your worship? I’m a huge body art person and it’s something I’d like to do one day if it’s not a bad thing to do.

Thank you all for any answers you may have  :)

Many people will have different opinions on these, so here is my personal two cents!

I pray in a conversational voice, as if I were talking to a friend.  It is very casual.  I will do out loud if I am alone, or I will do in my head if I am not alone (hubby isn't Pagan, and my prayers are often private, so I prefer not to share).  I have used prayers other people have written, and I love having a few memorized, but for me that is more veneration than prayer.  I do also sit in silence for a bit after praying, in order to be open to any response I may feel.

I used to feel very awkward about prayer, but then I just sort of started doing it, and for me, the big turn was switching to a more conversational voice.  Just talking about my day, about what went well, what went poorly and what I may need help on the next day or might be excited about...that helped me a lot.

I don't think it's bad to be bookmarking things you find lovely and would want for your altar!  I would say that I woudln't recommend waiting until you have 'all the things' to start working.  I have lots of "Ooooh that's beautiful, I'd love to have it" items saved on websites and bookmarks....but I still maintain an altar, and lots of the things on it are found, upcycled or home made (like my little salt dough Odin statue).  You can start where you are, and when you are able to add other things, you can work those in then!

Personally, I'm all for modern interpretations of gods.  But I tend a bit towards Chaos, so "use what works" is definitely a moto of mine.  I work with mainly Norse deities, and I definitely don't connect with some of the original statues/art.  There are lots of modern representations (especially with the Avengers and such being so popular), and some of them I really like.  I have never felt that they are wrong or inappropriate...for me and my relationship with the deities I work with.  I would say trust your heart, and if an image speaks to you, then it works for you.

I have tattoos, and mine have spiritual meaning for me.  My view on tattoos is this:  they represent how I feel and what is important to me....at the time when I got them.  So, yes, I think very long and hard on what I ink on my skin...but I also don't fret about the commonly asked "What if you change your mind when you are 90????", because this time period is a part of me and will shape who I become, and so even if I change, I won't feel sad at having a reminder of who I was on me.  I do think it's important to consider that marking yourself with a symbol of devotion to a specific deity may bring their attention more firmly towards you, so be sure this is a thing you really want before you get it done.
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Jainarayan

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2019, 04:30:05 pm »
This is all from my pov...


-When you pray to your dieties (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like? Like, do you speak out loud? Speak casually like you would to a friend, or very formally? Do you recite prayers written by others for them? Do you sit in silence and say nothing at all?
I suppose I’m always worried that I’m praying ‘wrong’. I’m very awkward all the time.

I sometimes speak out loud, if I'm alone or someplace I won't get weird looks for talking to myself, like a park or the beach. I chant Sanskrit hymns, mantras and other kinds of prayers. These are usually very ancient. Sometimes I do sit and just listen. There is no wrong way to pray.

Quote
-Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar? I know the important thing is connecting with the gods and not any material things, but I’m a very tangible and visual person- I feel like I’m offering the most when I add things to the altar, caring for it, etc. I’d like to someday have a beautiful and full altar, though I worry that me being so focused on that material aspect is a bad thing, spiritually.

I'd consider it a problem when it becomes and end in itself. I'm a collector of things too. I've always felt the need to collect images of all the gods and goddesses I feel either a connection to or have some significance to some aspect of my life. Some day I want to have a dedicated shrine room, even if it's nothing more than a tiny bedroom. I would have several tables for statues, and framed pictures on the walls. This would be my area where I see God in all his/her forms (most Hindus believe there is only one God who takes countless forms). As long as it doesn't become a showcase of objets d'art and lose its sacred purpose, I think it's fine.

Quote
-Do you think using modernized representations of the gods in statues and pictures for altars is bad? I know sone only use imGes from original cultures but especially with Egyptian art I have a hard time connecting with it, as opposed to more modernized depictions with I suppose more dimension to them. Not sexualized or fantasized, just not in traditional Egyptian style.

I'm more a traditionalist partial to traditional depictions. But that's me, because Hindu iconography is created according to traditional and accepted forms. The reason is that it depicts the powers and attributes of the gods, and tells their stories... "a picture is worth a thousand words". But that's only my tradition. Imo it's not bad, just a little non-traditional.

Quote
-this ones random; what’s the consensus of getting a tattoo of a god or representing them? Is that considered disrespectful or as a tribute to your worship? I’m a huge body art person and it’s something I’d like to do one day if it’s not a bad thing to do.

We (Hindus, I can't speak for other traditions) tend to see tattoos placed anywhere below the waist as extremely bad form and disrespectful. I have the OM symbol on my right shoulder. But again, that's a Hindu perspective. Of course, anyone is free to do whatever they feel comfortable with.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

BubbleCow

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2019, 04:54:40 pm »
Many people will have different opinions on these, so here is my personal two cents!

I pray in a conversational voice, as if I were talking to a friend.  It is very casual.  I will do out loud if I am alone, or I will do in my head if I am not alone (hubby isn't Pagan, and my prayers are often private, so I prefer not to share).  I have used prayers other people have written, and I love having a few memorized, but for me that is more veneration than prayer.  I do also sit in silence for a bit after praying, in order to be open to any response I may feel.

I used to feel very awkward about prayer, but then I just sort of started doing it, and for me, the big turn was switching to a more conversational voice.  Just talking about my day, about what went well, what went poorly and what I may need help on the next day or might be excited about...that helped me a lot.

I don't think it's bad to be bookmarking things you find lovely and would want for your altar!  I would say that I woudln't recommend waiting until you have 'all the things' to start working.  I have lots of "Ooooh that's beautiful, I'd love to have it" items saved on websites and bookmarks....but I still maintain an altar, and lots of the things on it are found, upcycled or home made (like my little salt dough Odin statue).  You can start where you are, and when you are able to add other things, you can work those in then!

Personally, I'm all for modern interpretations of gods.  But I tend a bit towards Chaos, so "use what works" is definitely a moto of mine.  I work with mainly Norse deities, and I definitely don't connect with some of the original statues/art.  There are lots of modern representations (especially with the Avengers and such being so popular), and some of them I really like.  I have never felt that they are wrong or inappropriate...for me and my relationship with the deities I work with.  I would say trust your heart, and if an image speaks to you, then it works for you.

I have tattoos, and mine have spiritual meaning for me.  My view on tattoos is this:  they represent how I feel and what is important to me....at the time when I got them.  So, yes, I think very long and hard on what I ink on my skin...but I also don't fret about the commonly asked "What if you change your mind when you are 90????", because this time period is a part of me and will shape who I become, and so even if I change, I won't feel sad at having a reminder of who I was on me.  I do think it's important to consider that marking yourself with a symbol of devotion to a specific deity may bring their attention more firmly towards you, so be sure this is a thing you really want before you get it done.

This was all very insightful, thank you! :) I'm glad there are others who are very casual, I felt so odd doing so. I definitley would never wait for any items for my altar- I started worshipping before I had any altar at all! :D Plus I think my altar will never be totally finite or complete, so I'd be waiting forever.
That's a good point about the tattoos- and personally if I do get one I'd wait and have worked with a diety for years before getting it.

I'm a 'use what works' person as well! Generally what petrified me into not even practicing when I decided to convert was the not knowing if what I was doing was 'right' (and as you can see, it's still quite the issue :D) but I've come to think that I should just try to do what feels right and hope the gods see me as the bumbler I am and appreciate the effort lol.

BubbleCow

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2019, 05:00:25 pm »
This is all from my pov...

I sometimes speak out loud, if I'm alone or someplace I won't get weird looks for talking to myself, like a park or the beach. I chant Sanskrit hymns, mantras and other kinds of prayers. These are usually very ancient. Sometimes I do sit and just listen. There is no wrong way to pray.

I'd consider it a problem when it becomes and end in itself. I'm a collector of things too. I've always felt the need to collect images of all the gods and goddesses I feel either a connection to or have some significance to some aspect of my life. Some day I want to have a dedicated shrine room, even if it's nothing more than a tiny bedroom. I would have several tables for statues, and framed pictures on the walls. This would be my area where I see God in all his/her forms (most Hindus believe there is only one God who takes countless forms). As long as it doesn't become a showcase of objets d'art and lose its sacred purpose, I think it's fine.

I'm more a traditionalist partial to traditional depictions. But that's me, because Hindu iconography is created according to traditional and accepted forms. The reason is that it depicts the powers and attributes of the gods, and tells their stories... "a picture is worth a thousand words". But that's only my tradition. Imo it's not bad, just a little non-traditional.

We (Hindus, I can't speak for other traditions) tend to see tattoos placed anywhere below the waist as extremely bad form and disrespectful. I have the OM symbol on my right shoulder. But again, that's a Hindu perspective. Of course, anyone is free to do whatever they feel comfortable with.


I think that's a great way to look at the altar thing. I too really feel like I want to have statues of all my gods and goddesses :)
With the tattoo thing (I'm just a master of the English language, aren't I?) I think that's actually a really great viewpoint.

I see your perspective on the images of gods as well. For me I think the balance would be still respecting the classic and original images even in my use of the modern, how to balance that I don't yet know  :P

Your reply was very insightful too, thank you so much :)

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2019, 08:45:16 pm »
When you pray to your dieties (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like? Like, do you speak out loud? Speak casually like you would to a friend, or very formally? Do you recite prayers written by others for them? Do you sit in silence and say nothing at all?

With my primary deity work, I find fixed prayers actually really destructive to the relationship. With deities I'm honouring or working with for specific reasons, I find them more helpful (especially in the early stages of getting to know them), but I'll often do more casual conversations.

For my primary deity work, sometimes I think it, sometimes I say it out loud. One of the factors for me is that speaking actually resonates our entire boy - something you can't get from just thinking. It aligns our breath, our thoughts, the vibrations of our body in making sound, the way it resonates in our head and chest. That gives a lot more space for making something real and more solid than thinking, so even if I end up speaking quietly, I often prefer speaking to silence.

Quote
Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar?
Bookmarking's fine!

One big reason to take your time (besides the fact that lots of stuff does not actually make a better practice) is to get a better sense of what tools you like, what matters to you in each tool. It's a lot easier to explore that with simpler, less expensive options and then once you know what you want, go and do the right thing in better materials or whatever that takes more specifics/money/time to find.

Quote
this ones random; what’s the consensus of getting a tattoo of a god or representing them? Is that considered disrespectful or as a tribute to your worship? I’m a huge body art person and it’s something I’d like to do one day if it’s not a bad thing to do.

The trick with it is that it is a very long-term choice, and you may well want to give yourself space to develop in other ways as well (and a tattoo that's too focused can limit those options.) This is the same argument about people who take Craft names not taking deity names directly, but something that's a step removed (A symbol, an association, something that reflects something important).

It's also something where I'd personally want to look closely at the role of tattoos in that society, as much as feasible, because different cultures have very different takes on this kind of thing. And whatever the answers are, you'd want to know what they were so you could make informed choices about modern practice (and your body.)
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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2019, 08:48:29 pm »
I suppose I’m always worried that I’m praying ‘wrong’. I’m very awkward all the time.

Practices associated with prayer vary immensely among traditions. If you're building your own path, as most of us in modern paganism are to some degree doing, ultimately the only one who can determine whether you're praying "wrong" is you. So do what works for you and your Powers--and you'll have to find out what that is through research, discussion, and practical experimentation.

Quote
-Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar? I know the important thing is connecting with the gods and not any material things, but I’m a very tangible and visual person- I feel like I’m offering the most when I add things to the altar, caring for it, etc. I’d like to someday have a beautiful and full altar, though I worry that me being so focused on that material aspect is a bad thing, spiritually.

I don't think that's a bad thing to wish for at all. I would even suggest that the idea that "material things" cannot be a meaningful part of connecting with the gods is flawed. The gods enjoy it when we put our thoughts and happiness into our gifts to them. Personally, I'm quite proud of my shrine and altar setup; they're both lovely spaces as well as functional parts of my practice.

That said, you are on to a valid concern here in some cases. Shrine and altar clutter can become a problem if you get too caught up in acquiring every shiny thing that might please your gods, and it drains both your wallet and the functionality of the sacred space. As you build up your altar, it's a good idea to try to get to know it so that you can sense what kind of things are really appropriate for it, then focus on acquiring those. Just bookmarking things in your browser seems pretty harmless, though.

Quote
-Do you think using modernized representations of the gods in statues and pictures for altars is bad? I know sone only use imGes from original cultures but especially with Egyptian art I have a hard time connecting with it, as opposed to more modernized depictions with I suppose more dimension to them. Not sexualized or fantasized, just not in traditional Egyptian style.

I suspect I am not your target audience for this question, since my primary Power manifested as a human being for forty-five years relatively recently and we have a lot of great pictures of him. So all I can say is that it really depends on what works for you. Try using a few different depictions and see what resonates the best.

Quote
-this ones random; what’s the consensus of getting a tattoo of a god or representing them? Is that considered disrespectful or as a tribute to your worship? I’m a huge body art person and it’s something I’d like to do one day if it’s not a bad thing to do.

There is no consensus. Different faiths have very different rules. Traditionally Judaism forbids tattoos, but I'm only a semi-observant Jew and I've found them extremely powerful as a magical tool.
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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2019, 01:13:17 pm »
-When you pray to your dieties (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like? Like, do you speak out loud? Speak casually like you would to a friend, or very formally? Do you recite prayers written by others for them? Do you sit in silence and say nothing at all?
I suppose I’m always worried that I’m praying ‘wrong’. I’m very awkward all the time.

All of the above, depending on context. Sometimes I talk to them out loud, sometimes I chant out loud using traditional mantras, sometimes I pray in an informal way, and sometimes I do these things privately in my head.

-Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar? I know the important thing is connecting with the gods and not any material things, but I’m a very tangible and visual person- I feel like I’m offering the most when I add things to the altar, caring for it, etc. I’d like to someday have a beautiful and full altar, though I worry that me being so focused on that material aspect is a bad thing, spiritually.

No, that's not bad as long as you are financially responsible about it! Make sure you don't spend more money on your altar than you can safely afford, however; your Gods probably wouldn't want you do financially harm yourself for the sake of a fancy altar!

-this ones random; what’s the consensus of getting a tattoo of a god or representing them? Is that considered disrespectful or as a tribute to your worship? I’m a huge body art person and it’s something I’d like to do one day if it’s not a bad thing to do.

There is no consensus! Different people, groups, and traditions have very different views on this issue (and most others!)

My personal opinion is that it's totally fine; many modern Hindus get tattoos of Shiva, the Om character, the Dharma wheel, and other religious symbols and images.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 01:17:18 pm by EnderDragonFire »
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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 01:28:07 pm »
I'm more a traditionalist partial to traditional depictions. But that's me, because Hindu iconography is created according to traditional and accepted forms. The reason is that it depicts the powers and attributes of the gods, and tells their stories... "a picture is worth a thousand words". But that's only my tradition. Imo it's not bad, just a little non-traditional.

I see where you are coming from, but I personally respectfully disagree:

My issue with the concept of 'traditional' images is that images from five hundred, or even only one or two hundred years ago, are treated (by most Hindus) as being just as valid as images from one or two thousand years ago. People will happily use medieval, colonial, classical, and Vedic-era iconography side-by-side.

However, if you actually look at these images, it's clear that there have been dramatic aesthetic and stylistic shifts over the centuries; an icon from 1600 CE looks nothing like an icon from 1600 BCE! So, why should we arbitrarily say that any style of art after the mid 20th century is not traditional? Why should we try and prevent artistic innovation when we've been allowing it to happen since the Bronze age?

When you consider how drastically different regional variations in iconography can be, I feel like it become even less meaningful to cling to tradition. The way Shiva, for example, is depicted in Gujarat is very different from the way he is depicted in Lanka, Nepal, or Bengal!

If there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of 'legitimate' traditional ways to depict a given deity, which have developed and changed as a result of wider socio-cultural developments in Indian society, why shouldn't modern ways of depicting those deities, which reflect modern cultural sensibilities, also be acceptable?

If a medieval Bengali can project his ideas about Kali onto his art, and create a very different image than one that a Bronze-Age Nepali would've created, why can't a modern American, British, or Indian Hindu similarly re-contextualize the way they depict the Gods?
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2019, 09:45:34 am »
I see where you are coming from, but I personally respectfully disagree:

My issue with the concept of 'traditional' images is that images from five hundred, or even only one or two hundred years ago, are treated (by most Hindus) as being just as valid as images from one or two thousand years ago. People will happily use medieval, colonial, classical, and Vedic-era iconography side-by-side.

There are also aniconic traditions within Hinduism, and the brahmin I follow on twitter has noted the tradition of representing the gods with five stones (which stone is placed centrally in the arrangement depends on one's branch).  I can't remember what the stones were for (Ganesha, the sun, the Mother, Shiva, Vishnu, maybe? that's what the Panchayatana puja Wikipedia article suggests at least, but all I remember from his lecture was the sun and the Mother) or what substances he said were traditional, but.

Oh hey I managed to find the thread.  Vishnu's traditional aniconic representation is the shaligram, a fossil ammonite.  Southern Indian traditions sometimes add a sixth stone for Murugan.  (Wikipedia says a sixth stone could also be a personal god.)  Shiva gets an oblong lingam-type stone of course, Surya a crystal, Ganesha a red stone, and Devi a polished metallic grey stone (hematite, I'm guessing).
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2019, 02:01:42 am »
-When you pray to your deities (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like?
It depends on who I'm addressing, but in most rituals I'm being somewhat formal with gods I don't have a strong personal connection to. So I usually use a traditional formula to invocation and prayer. I do speak in vernacular, rather than Latin.

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Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar?
Gotta plan for the future somehow.

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Do you think using modernized representations of the gods in statues and pictures for altars is bad?
The thing we often forget is that the ways the gods were depicted in Antiquity often used clothing, styles, appearances that would have been contemporary to ancient people. Yes, some of which was ancient-ish, but for the most part fashion and clothing did not change much from the Classical period to Late Antiquity.
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with, say, depicting Mars in modern battle armor; or Zeus in a business suit.

Jainarayan

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2019, 10:04:18 am »
There are also aniconic traditions within Hinduism

Yes, most Shaivas worship Shiva in the form of the lingam. My temple has a huge lingam in its own sanctum. It's really only Puranic Hinduism that anthropomorphizes him.

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, and the brahmin I follow on twitter has noted the tradition of representing the gods with five stones (which stone is placed centrally in the arrangement depends on one's branch).  I can't remember what the stones were for (Ganesha, the sun, the Mother, Shiva, Vishnu, maybe? that's what the Panchayatana puja Wikipedia article suggests at least, but all I remember from his lecture was the sun and the Mother) or what substances he said were traditional, but.

Yes, that is the Smarta tradition. Smarta is from smrt, memory or "things remembered", as compared to shruti, "heard" [by the sages}.The Smarta tradition usually worships Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu, Devi (Goddess in any of her forms), Surya (the sun), and sometimes Murugan aka Subramaniya aka Kartikeya as Brahman and ones ishta-devata (personal favorite deity). Worship may be rotational, or dedicated to one. But they're all considered equal. They're usually placed in a particular order on the altar, in the sanctum or shrine. It was Adi Shankara who started the Smarta tradition to unite the three traditions of Shaivism (Shiva), Vaishnavism (Vishnu) and Shaktism (Goddess) and stop the arguing of "my god is better than your god". He wasn't entirely successful. Just ask ISKCON.  ::)

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Oh hey I managed to find the thread.  Vishnu's traditional aniconic representation is the shaligram, a fossil ammonite.  Southern Indian traditions sometimes add a sixth stone for Murugan.  (Wikipedia says a sixth stone could also be a personal god.)  Shiva gets an oblong lingam-type stone of course, Surya a crystal, Ganesha a red stone, and Devi a polished metallic grey stone (hematite, I'm guessing).

Exactly right.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

arete

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Re: Are these things ‘bad’? Also just seeking advice
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2019, 11:41:19 am »
-When you pray to your dieties (if you do so) what’s your dialogue like? Like, do you speak out loud? Speak casually like you would to a friend, or very formally? Do you recite prayers written by others for them? Do you sit in silence and say nothing at all?
I suppose I’m always worried that I’m praying ‘wrong’. I’m very awkward all the time.
The prayer should come from the heart. Just follow your heart.

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-Is it bad that I’m excitedly bookmarking things I’d like to eventually add to my altar? I know the important thing is connecting with the gods and not any material things, but I’m a very tangible and visual person- I feel like I’m offering the most when I add things to the altar, caring for it, etc. I’d like to someday have a beautiful and full altar, though I worry that me being so focused on that material aspect is a bad thing, spiritually.
Add whatever you like. Matter isn't mundane. Matter is divinely sourced too.  :)

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-Do you think using modernized representations of the gods in statues and pictures for altars is bad? I know sone only use imGes from original cultures but especially with Egyptian art I have a hard time connecting with it, as opposed to more modernized depictions with I suppose more dimension to them. Not sexualized or fantasized, just not in traditional Egyptian style.
Bad? No.

in my opinion  :)

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