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Author Topic: Building religious acts from the ground up  (Read 3105 times)

alexmegami

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Building religious acts from the ground up
« on: October 13, 2011, 01:45:10 am »
...or maybe not, or something else entirely. I have no idea if this is even the right forum for this, but I'm a beginner and I don't know what to think of it as except paganism, so... here goes? :o

So, I semi-jokingly refer to myself as a henotheist without a god. More or less, I accept most-to-all gods to be real enough... but none of the ones I've come across are MY god/dess, more or less. There are ones that I'm drawn to, but none that quite fit right. (I'm worried that I'm looking for a god that is me writ large. I hope to all the rest of them that no such god exists. :p)

Despite this, I have a frequent underlying nagging need to hie forth and get me some ritual in my life. The problem is, there aren't a lot of secular (or able-to-be-secular) rituals that I can think of; most of the ones I can think of involve the demarcation of time (birthdays, to a lesser extent anniversaries) or significant life milestones (weddings, funerals, graduations). And performing a ritual to a specific god I don't worship feels wrongbadnotOK to me.

Possibly you could add seasons to that, but as I said to a friend, really we only have two; winter and road work. And while I could make offerings to the spirits of the orange pylons, I don't even know what that would look like.

I'm not much of a nature-type, either (heresy, I know ;)), so a more earth-based tradition wouldn't work for me. The closest thing I've been sort of looking at is kitchen witchery, but that seems also awfully short on the ritual part I'm looking for. (And also doesn't fit with any of the gods I've tried hanging this stuff on, until I stopped trying for above-mentioned wrongbad-ick.)

So... I have no idea where to go from there. Keep looking for gods? OK, I can do that, but until then there's this big ritual-shaped space in my brain intruding and waiting to be filled. Find secular rituals? I am so open to this idea if anyone has suggestions that move beyond events that happen once or twice a year at most. Any suggestions for how to style ritual without an underlying religious belief system to set it up?

And I understand if it's hard to make sense of. It's take me several months to even be able to verbalize this much. :P

Juniperberry

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2011, 02:01:17 am »
Quote from: alexmegami;25193
...or maybe not, or something else entirely. I have no idea if this is even the right forum for this, but I'm a beginner and I don't know what to think of it as except paganism, so... here goes? :o

So, I semi-jokingly refer to myself as a henotheist without a god. More or less, I accept most-to-all gods to be real enough... but none of the ones I've come across are MY god/dess, more or less. There are ones that I'm drawn to, but none that quite fit right. (I'm worried that I'm looking for a god that is me writ large. I hope to all the rest of them that no such god exists. :p)

Despite this, I have a frequent underlying nagging need to hie forth and get me some ritual in my life. The problem is, there aren't a lot of secular (or able-to-be-secular) rituals that I can think of; most of the ones I can think of involve the demarcation of time (birthdays, to a lesser extent anniversaries) or significant life milestones (weddings, funerals, graduations). And performing a ritual to a specific god I don't worship feels wrongbadnotOK to me.

Possibly you could add seasons to that, but as I said to a friend, really we only have two; winter and road work. And while I could make offerings to the spirits of the orange pylons, I don't even know what that would look like.

I'm not much of a nature-type, either (heresy, I know ;)), so a more earth-based tradition wouldn't work for me. The closest thing I've been sort of looking at is kitchen witchery, but that seems also awfully short on the ritual part I'm looking for. (And also doesn't fit with any of the gods I've tried hanging this stuff on, until I stopped trying for above-mentioned wrongbad-ick.)

So... I have no idea where to go from there. Keep looking for gods? OK, I can do that, but until then there's this big ritual-shaped space in my brain intruding and waiting to be filled. Find secular rituals? I am so open to this idea if anyone has suggestions that move beyond events that happen once or twice a year at most. Any suggestions for how to style ritual without an underlying religious belief system to set it up?

And I understand if it's hard to make sense of. It's take me several months to even be able to verbalize this much. :P


(Long quote but it takes me forever to delete it down on my phone)

How do you feel about rituals centered around honoring your ancestors?
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2011, 03:35:18 am »
Quote from: alexmegami;25193

Possibly you could add seasons to that, but as I said to a friend, really we only have two; winter and road work. And while I could make offerings to the spirits of the orange pylons, I don't even know what that would look like.

 
Like a timmie's delivered to my husband at first break?  He doesn't work in TO very often, but he likes ritual and would definitely do some arm-waving and dust-billowing in exchange for a sweet libation.:)

As for the rest, I can't really help.  I believe in many gods but would rather they didn't notice me.  I get my ritual fix in magic, when I have time for a full meal deal effort.

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veggiewolf

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2011, 08:53:47 am »
Quote from: alexmegami;25193
...I'm not much of a nature-type, either (heresy, I know ;))...


Not heresy - not all pagans have nature-based practices.

There are tons of fantastic resources out there for seekers - one I recommend regularly was created by one of our members.  Jenett's Seeking: first Pagan steps and tools is a huge help for people just starting out.

IMO, a good starting point is to examine what you believe and then explore paganism to see where your beliefs might overlap with existing practices of others.  F'ex, if you believe in the gods of orange roadwork cones you might explore whether others do as well and, if they do, how they are honored (libations at roadwork sites, candles on top of said cones, etc.)

I hope that helps!
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alexmegami

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2011, 12:10:13 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;25195
How do you feel about rituals centered around honoring your ancestors?

 
This is actually something I hadn't entirely considered. I'll have to explore it more. Definite maybe, so thank you for the suggestion! :)

alexmegami

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2011, 12:15:28 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;25198
Like a timmie's delivered to my husband at first break?  He doesn't work in TO very often, but he likes ritual and would definitely do some arm-waving and dust-billowing in exchange for a sweet libation.:)


*laughs* I'll see what I can do when he's here next then! ;)

Quote
As for the rest, I can't really help.  I believe in many gods but would rather they didn't notice me.  I get my ritual fix in magic, when I have time for a full meal deal effort.

 
Yeah. I wonder if I might not be better served by ritual magic rather than worship, but I guess the 'style' of magic I see most often leaves me a bit cold, so even if I went that route I'd be building it from the ground up for myself, yanno?

alexmegami

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2011, 12:49:16 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;25223
Not heresy - not all pagans have nature-based practices.


I know. That was the reason for the wink. :) (The idea of there being any heresy for paganism as a whole seems kind of counterintuitive - maybe it would be possible for specific groups, but there's no central dogma of paganism to be heretical against.)

Quote
There are tons of fantastic resources out there for seekers - one I recommend regularly was created by one of our members.  Jenett's Seeking: first Pagan steps and tools is a huge help for people just starting out.


*nod* I've read through it a few times, and while bits and pieces are useful, most of the ritual parts seem grounded in a seasonal and moon cycle that doesn't really work for me.

Quote
IMO, a good starting point is to examine what you believe and then explore paganism to see where your beliefs might overlap with existing practices of others.  F'ex, if you believe in the gods of orange roadwork cones you might explore whether others do as well and, if they do, how they are honored (libations at roadwork sites, candles on top of said cones, etc.)

I hope that helps!

 
I think I might have to start looking into local groups - part of the problem might be trying to do this solo isn't working for me, and having outside... reinforcements? assistance? ...might be useful.

Juniperberry

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2011, 02:08:41 pm »
Quote from: alexmegami;25247
This is actually something I hadn't entirely considered. I'll have to explore it more. Definite maybe, so thank you for the suggestion! :)

 
No problem. :)

It's actually a good time to look into it with all the holidays coming up--and I don't mean seasonally, or magically,  or thinner veil,wild hunt, god type things---but just because holidays are about family and gathering and gifting.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2011, 08:15:02 pm »
Quote from: alexmegami;25253

*nod* I've read through it a few times, and while bits and pieces are useful, most of the ritual parts seem grounded in a seasonal and moon cycle that doesn't really work for me.


Actually, yes and no - I write about the stuff I know, and the stuff I do.

Being part of a tradition that celebrates Esbats, Sabbats, and Gods, my personal examples of what I myself do naturally draw from that, and it's naturally a part of what I discuss. But that's.. 6 pages, maybe, out of 140+ on the site.

For people who are not interested in a Sabbat/Esbat type ritual structure, or those who are not interested in deity work, I usually suggest checking out the more general theory (why, how, where we might do ritual. A bunch of the daily/core skills work, etc.) Not all of them apply to everyone (and again, examples draw from what I do, partly so that the essays are 2000 words, and not ten times that length...), but I've tried to make sure there are bits in there that are useful to a variety of perspectives.

I do want to expand into other discussions of ritual practice, but the cross-country move+new job from 2.5 months ago is still sort of eating my brain. Better discussion of creating meaningful ritual for yourself, creating a daily practice in more detail, and some things around ancestor-related practice are pretty high on my list of topics once I can manage work + writing again reliably. If there's other topics that'd help you, I definitely take suggestions.

I need to add some additional book resources, it looks like - but if you look at the suggested reading list on the site, it mentions several excellent books about ritual, some of which are probably not a good fit, but a couple of which are (in particular, I'd suggest Dianne Sylvan's _Circle Within_ (which does reference deity work, but can be adapted in various ways otherwise) - or Starhawk and Hilary Valentine's _Twelve Wild Swans_ (of which there's about to be an upcoming discussion on the forum.)

Both are working outside that Sabbat/Esbat model, though both use Wiccan-derived ritual models as a basic starting place.
 
Quote

I think I might have to start looking into local groups - part of the problem might be trying to do this solo isn't working for me, and having outside... reinforcements? assistance? ...might be useful.

 
That can be a good way to go - the one thing to be aware of is that many of the groups you'll find are likely to be at least somewhat like Wicca . (There are certainly other options out there, but they're often fewer and further between, and it's both harder to figure out where they are, and what they're trying to do.)
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alexmegami

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2011, 12:49:35 am »
Quote from: Jenett;25307
Actually, yes and no - I write about the stuff I know, and the stuff I do.

Being part of a tradition that celebrates Esbats, Sabbats, and Gods, my personal examples of what I myself do naturally draw from that, and it's naturally a part of what I discuss. But that's.. 6 pages, maybe, out of 140+ on the site.

For people who are not interested in a Sabbat/Esbat type ritual structure, or those who are not interested in deity work, I usually suggest checking out the more general theory (why, how, where we might do ritual. A bunch of the daily/core skills work, etc.) Not all of them apply to everyone (and again, examples draw from what I do, partly so that the essays are 2000 words, and not ten times that length...), but I've tried to make sure there are bits in there that are useful to a variety of perspectives.


*nod* I don't want to make it sound like, "oh, none of it was useful at all" - like I said, I did read through a lot of it, some of them several times - but I guess for me, without the "what" and "why" aspects it's really difficult to extrapolate the "where" and "how" - these things have to synchronize somehow. (I may not have been that clear that it was useful for how to at least approach the question, just that the answer given requires... a basic groundwork that I don't even have to work from, I guess. If I had, like, a distinct connection to a god, or the seasons, or something at all to construct around, it would be easier... so I'm still looking for that.)

Quote
I do want to expand into other discussions of ritual practice, but the cross-country move+new job from 2.5 months ago is still sort of eating my brain. Better discussion of creating meaningful ritual for yourself, creating a daily practice in more detail, and some things around ancestor-related practice are pretty high on my list of topics once I can manage work + writing again reliably. If there's other topics that'd help you, I definitely take suggestions.


Those all sound excellent. :) But yeah, with that on your plate it's no wonder you haven't had time to write more! If I think of anything else, I'll let you know... but like I said, it's hard for me to even get the words to verbalize this stuff, so expecting someone else to lightning-bolt for me is some order of wishful thinking :P But I'll look forward to those essays when you do have a chance to write them.

Quote
I need to add some additional book resources, it looks like - but if you look at the suggested reading list on the site, it mentions several excellent books about ritual, some of which are probably not a good fit, but a couple of which are (in particular, I'd suggest Dianne Sylvan's _Circle Within_ (which does reference deity work, but can be adapted in various ways otherwise) - or Starhawk and Hilary Valentine's _Twelve Wild Swans_ (of which there's about to be an upcoming discussion on the forum.)


Now that I am out of school and have time for reading again, I will have to see if the local library has either of those (or any of the others).

Quote
Both are working outside that Sabbat/Esbat model, though both use Wiccan-derived ritual models as a basic starting place.

 
I'm interpreting this as things like, calling the quarters, elemental magic, will focusing, that sort of thing?
 
Quote
That can be a good way to go - the one thing to be aware of is that many of the groups you'll find are likely to be at least somewhat like Wicca . (There are certainly other options out there, but they're often fewer and further between, and it's both harder to figure out where they are, and what they're trying to do.)

 
*nod* That's sort of what I expect, but at this point I'll take whatever options I can get if it helps at all. :/

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2011, 04:37:51 am »
Quote from: alexmegami;25193

So, I semi-jokingly refer to myself as a henotheist without a god. More or less, I accept most-to-all gods to be real enough... but none of the ones I've come across are MY god/dess, more or less. There are ones that I'm drawn to, but none that quite fit right. (I'm worried that I'm looking for a god that is me writ large. I hope to all the rest of them that no such god exists. :p)

Despite this, I have a frequent underlying nagging need to hie forth and get me some ritual in my life. The problem is, there aren't a lot of secular (or able-to-be-secular) rituals that I can think of; most of the ones I can think of involve the demarcation of time (birthdays, to a lesser extent anniversaries) or significant life milestones (weddings, funerals, graduations). And performing a ritual to a specific god I don't worship feels wrongbadnotOK to me.

...

So... I have no idea where to go from there. Keep looking for gods? OK, I can do that, but until then there's this big ritual-shaped space in my brain intruding and waiting to be filled. Find secular rituals? I am so open to this idea if anyone has suggestions that move beyond events that happen once or twice a year at most. Any suggestions for how to style ritual without an underlying religious belief system to set it up?

 
I think the simplest starting point for someone in your position would be regular meditation. There's a lot of room to personalize and ritualize meditation to suit your needs, whether in terms of actions and tools (candles, bells, incense, etc) or your goals and intentions. Plus, it will prepare you for doing other kinds of rituals later, if that's what you ultimately choose. (And be aware that there is a good diversity of magical systems and practices in Western occultism outside of your typical dancing-under-the-moonlight or your knife-and-cup variety. And that there's no reason you can't just make up your own rules as you go along.)

Also - and this is me assuming you haven't tried anything like this yet - I don't think it's at all wrong to do something for a god you've never worshiped before. (I mean, how else do you start worshiping a god?) I understand if it's something you're just not ready or inspired to start doing for anyone. I just don't think you need to feel any anxiety over it. I know folks who have occasionally honored deities from other religions/pantheons, just to share in the experience and show respect, without making a big commitment. None of them have been struck by lightning yet. :)

Even if it doesn't end up being a good fit, you might get something out of it if you try making an offering or praying to someone. I'm sure plenty of people here have been pointed in the right direction by deities they ended up not having much to do with afterward. Sometimes a deity ends up being very different from what you expected, too - you never know for sure unless you chat them up. You won't always get a response, but as long as your offerings and gestures are respectful and appropriate, you have nothing to be afraid of.

alexmegami

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2011, 10:34:36 am »
Quote from: Malkin;25505
I think the simplest starting point for someone in your position would be regular meditation. There's a lot of room to personalize and ritualize meditation to suit your needs, whether in terms of actions and tools (candles, bells, incense, etc) or your goals and intentions. Plus, it will prepare you for doing other kinds of rituals later, if that's what you ultimately choose. (And be aware that there is a good diversity of magical systems and practices in Western occultism outside of your typical dancing-under-the-moonlight or your knife-and-cup variety. And that there's no reason you can't just make up your own rules as you go along.)


This is probably also a good idea. Meditation is somewhat difficult for me, but maybe finding a means of focusing myself better will help with the problem.

Quote
Also - and this is me assuming you haven't tried anything like this yet - I don't think it's at all wrong to do something for a god you've never worshiped before. (I mean, how else do you start worshiping a god?) I understand if it's something you're just not ready or inspired to start doing for anyone. I just don't think you need to feel any anxiety over it. I know folks who have occasionally honored deities from other religions/pantheons, just to share in the experience and show respect, without making a big commitment. None of them have been struck by lightning yet. :)

Even if it doesn't end up being a good fit, you might get something out of it if you try making an offering or praying to someone. I'm sure plenty of people here have been pointed in the right direction by deities they ended up not having much to do with afterward. Sometimes a deity ends up being very different from what you expected, too - you never know for sure unless you chat them up. You won't always get a response, but as long as your offerings and gestures are respectful and appropriate, you have nothing to be afraid of.


Heh, not worried about the lightning strike! But I have tried, at various times, honoring different deities (from some very different pantheons, as well as attempting to try out various types of Christianity) and it ranges from "nothing about this speaks to me" to "everything about this feels wrong and gross". My response to these has usually been mitigated by the presence of others (e.g. going to church with other people USUALLY but not always felt less "bad/awkward" than solitary prayer, group ritual the few times I tried it seemed... uhh, I'm going to say "more palpable", as in I could feel the energy, but I still felt very much like an outsider to that energy). That sort of thing.

I wonder if the problem might be less with the gods that I have tried offering/praying to and more with the actual format of the ritual/prayer attempts themselves. Food for thought anyway.

And thank you again to everyone who's commented - I know it's kind of a weird question, so thank you for taking it on :)

alexmegami

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Re: Building religious acts from the ground up
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2011, 01:25:11 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;25195
(Long quote but it takes me forever to delete it down on my phone)

How do you feel about rituals centered around honoring your ancestors?

 

As an aside, I've been thinking about this since you mentioned it, and apparently this has taken the form of 1) cleaning my parents' storage room and 2) fixing all the photo albums. ;)

(Seriously, though, they haven't put together any of their photos in an album since they got married... 25 years ago.)

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