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Author Topic: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors  (Read 1482 times)

Kitta

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Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« on: July 22, 2016, 11:44:55 pm »
So, I am an Asatruar, and a large part of my path as such has been in understanding and identifying my ancestors.  Though I do have Norse ancestry, I also have a significant amount of Italian and Irish blood.  I am not looking to practice other religions, persay, or maybe I am, I don't know really.  

I guess what I want to to find people that follow the ancient religions of those people, and to try to understand the worldview and ideology that may have been important to my ancestors.  I am not even sure where to start, to be honest.  When I came to paganism, it was through Freyja who called me directly to Asatru, so I never really explored other aspects under the pagan umbrella.  In my limited elementary-school-history-class knowledge base, I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?

Anyone who has information on where I should look for beginner level explanations or anyone who practices those religions who would be willing to do a Q&A for me would be greatly appreciated.
"There is no greater a friend one can have than a store of common sense." - Havamal

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2016, 07:15:12 am »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
In my limited elementary-school-history-class knowledge base, I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?

Anyone who has information on where I should look for beginner level explanations or anyone who practices those religions who would be willing to do a Q&A for me would be greatly appreciated.


Beginner level is the tricky bit. Regarding the Irish, Lady Gregory wrote a beginner-level (not academic) book about Irish mythology, called Gods and Fighting Men, and you find it online:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/gafm/index.htm

This is just mythology, and you will find no information about sacrifices, ethics etc.

For the Romans, I am not sure where to begin. Have you read Leslie & Roy Adkins: Dictionary of Roman religion? It is scholarly, but useful for beginners.

I will follow this up with short summaries of my own, if health permits.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2016, 08:21:20 am »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?

Roman religion, part one

Pre-Christian religion in the Italian peninsula wasn't static over time. Initially, it wasn't homogenous either, since each corner of the peninsula practiced different religions.

In the north-west there were Celtic Gauls (Gallia Cisalpina).

In the north-east there were the Veneti tribe, who caused the name of the city Venice.

A considerable part of northern-to-middle Italy was inhabited by Etruscans, who spoke a non-Indoeuropean language and practiced a religion assumed to have been founded by a prophet called Tages. Etruscan religion influenced early Roman religion.

Rome was strategically located were the borders of the Etruscan, Latin and Sabine tribes met, but was also the capital for the Latin tribe (Latium). After a series of, not well-attested, wars, the Sabines were assimilated by the Latins from 490 BCE, or thereabout.

East of Rome lived the Umbrian tribe, and their name (but not their language) still lives in the name of Umbria. After 300 BCE both the Etruscans and the Umbrians were assimilated by the Latins.

Several tribes south-east of Rome spoke Oscan. The most famous Oscan-speaking tribe was called the Samnites, but they were subdued by the Romans in the 4th century (the third war ending in 290 BCE).  

In Sicily, Apulia, Calabria and Basilicata there were Greeks.

Original Roman religion was a synthesis of a Latin-speaking Indo-European religion and Etruscan religion, but originally Roman and Greek religions were two distinct religions. Early on, the Greeks influenced the Etruscans, and in the centuries BCE the Romans in Latium became gradually hellenised, too. At the time of the poet Ovid and Emperor Augustus, the fusion of Roman and Greek religion was complete. Even after that, the Romans kept the Roman way of performing sacrifices and the Greek way of performing sacrifices apart, even if both methods were part of Roman worship.

When Romans in the Republic and in the Empire later looked back on their past, they attributed the institution of Roman religion to a mythological king, Numa Pompilius, in a distant past. Originally, twenty-one deities were of special importance for the city of Rome: Janus, Vesta, Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus, Juno, Minerva, Ceres, Liber, Libera, Carmenta, Falacer, Flora, Furrina, Palatua, Pomona, Portunus, Vulcanus, Volturnus and two unknown - the names of whom have been lost.

To these may be added Fortuna (under several titles), Dea Dia, Saturn, Ops, Consus, Sol Indiges, Fons, Terminus, Nerina, Bona Dea, Neptune and Salacia (happy Neptunalia!), Summanus, Vejovis, Tiberinus, Fornax, Acca Larentia, Pales and Vertumnus. As you might notice, in the early stages, Roman religion was quite different from the Greek one.

The abovementioned deities were important for Roman religion on the public level, but, on the domestic level, Roman worship focussed on the following deities: Janus, Vesta, the Genius of the paterfamilias (Rome wasn't egalitarian), the Lares, the Penates and the Genius Loci of the farm. The exact nature of the Lares and Penates are still under discussion, and in the old sources it seems like not even the old Romans themselves could agree on the matter, but these minor deities protected the household and storage rooms. They might have something to do with ancestors.

To be continued
« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 08:30:36 am by RecycledBenedict »

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2016, 08:46:20 am »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;194335
the Lares, the Penates and the Genius Loci of the farm.


@Kitta: As an Asatruar, you may notice the similarity between these three categories of Roman deities and the Norse Tomte (the farm wight).

Mediaeval sources describe how the Norse Tomte was believed to take the shape of a snake. Roman religious art used in peoples' homes, depict either the Genius Loci of the farm or a penate as a snake. There might be a common Indo-European root behind this. The Lares, on the other hand, are depicted as two beings of human shape holding objects.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2016, 09:53:46 am »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?


Roman religion, part two

The public and official face of Roman religion was very formal - juridical, even.

Modern Pagans coming from an Evangelical background wrongly expects all religions to be deeply devoted, emotional and sentimental ('having a relationship with one's deity'), but this does not apply to the state-controlled expressions of Roman religion. A priest appointed by the Roman republic - called a flamen or a pontifex - was a (often young) politician, who performed his part-time priestly office for a limited term of office as one step in his career. With a handful of exceptions (Flamen Dialis, Rex Sacrorum, their wives and the Vestal priestesses) most Roman state-sponsored priests only had to perform sacrifices and other rituals once or twice a year, and their office had more to do with maintenance of public temple buildings or shrines, than deeply personal religious feelings.

On the other hand, there existed a category of priests - sacerdotes - who perfomed their duty on the behalf of a private group of believers - not on the behalf of the state. There could exist both legal sacerdotes and illegal sacerdotes. The latter (and their groups of co-religionists) could periodically be persecuted or exiled: Some devotees of Bacchus and some devotees of Isis and Osiris fell victim to this in the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE, respectively.

Roman worship was highly juridical. By performing the traditionally prescribed rites, human beings fulfilled their contractual obligation, and the deities were expected to fulfil their part of the agreement. Jokingly, I often describe sacrificial formulae among the old Romans and among modern cultores deorum as similar to modern software businesses' Terms-and-Agreement documents you have to click on.

The ancient Romans didn't claim to know everything (or anything) about their deities, including their names or genders. When one addressed a deity, it was customarily to include expressions like 'regardless of if you are a god or a goddess, and under whichever name you prefer to be addressed'. This Agnostic quality of Roman religion is something I appreciate.

As I wrote in my former answer, Roman religion didn't remain static.

Like many (presumeably most) pagans in the past, the Romans believed that deities are translatable from one language to another. Jews didn't like that idea, and resisted Roman attempts to identify God with Jupiter, Saturn or Pater Liber (the three most commonly occurring 'translations'). Most ancient pagans accepted the idea of translateability (and it is known to have existed among the Hittites already in the 13th century BCE). When the Greeks translated deities worshipped by non-Greeks, it is called Interpretatio Graeca, and when Romans translated deities worshipped by non-Romans, it is called Interpretatio Romana.

The worship of the Greek god Apollo was added to Etruscan religion already in the 6th century BCE, and the first temple to Apollo in Rome was dedicated in 431 BCE. The Roman goddess Diana, who initially had her own characteristics, gradually came to be identified with Apollo's sister Artemis. By identification with the Greek Hermes, the Roman god Mercurius rose in importance. By 217 BCE, a group of twelve deities - the Dii Consentes - had rose to importance overshadowing some of the deities initially important in the Roman Kingdom and the Roman republic:
Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva, Mars, Venus, Apollo, Diana, Vulcan, Vesta, Mercury and Ceres.

A particular interpretation of the Sibylline Books (a divination tool) lead the Roman Senate to officially adopt the worship of the Anatolian goddess Cybele shortly before 200 BCE, under the Latin title Magna Mater - The Great Mother, and she is ascribed the Roman victory over Carthage in the second Punic war.

In years to come, the Romans would gradually adopt the worship of all and every deity around the Mediterranean Sea, at least on the private and inofficial level.

To be continued

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2016, 12:11:43 pm »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?


Roman religion, part three

Some aspects of domestic cult had counterparts on state level.

Just as each home had a hearth where sacrifices to Vesta were performed, the Roman state had a fire temple to Vesta, staffed by a group of unmarried, celibate priestesses, the Vestals.

Just as a family venerated their family lares in their domestic lararium, the Roman state venerated the lares of crossroads (Lares Compitales), The Military Lar (Lar Militaris), the Heavenly Lar (Lar Caelestis) and The Lar of Everything (Lar Omnium Cunctalis).

Just as the family venerated the genius of the paterfamilias and the juno of his wife, the Roman state venerated the Genius of the Roman People, Genius Populi Romani.

The Roman Republic integrated provinces by several means, and then changed into an Empire. In the imperial age, religion was a way to express fidelity to the Roman state. Inhabitants of the Empire were expected to express this sign of citizenship by burning some incense to the goddess Roma - the patron deity of Rome - and to the genius of the Emperor. Jews were excused, and expressed their citizenship in other ways. When Christians refused, they were seen as slightly weird, but their refusal only caused persecution when a governor or emperor found it opportune to pursue such a course. Diocletian was especially harsh in this regard.

Most practices concerning the official and public state religion were performed with only some persons present, mainly state officials. Roman religion was not a spectator activity, and the purpose of temples was to house a statue of a deity, not to serve as gathering rooms for religious adherents. Most public sacrifices took place outdoors, in front of the entrance to the temple concerned.

Modern Pagans, coming from a Christian background, expect religious festivals to commemorate religiously significant mythological events. Though a very small number of Roman festivals commemorated such events, in general festivals did not. Most dates for festivals were chosen to commemorate the dedication of a particular temple building (called its birthday), nothing else. Wiccans, modern Druids and Pantheists, who expect festivals to be associated with seasonal changes in nature, will not find much of that, when they survey ancient Roman festivals. There exist a few exceptions to this, of course. After all, Roman religion emerged in an agricultural society, and a small number of festivals have to do with plowing, wheat rust and wine. Among the ancient Roman festivals, there exist at least four occasions to become incredibly drunk.

To be continued

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2016, 01:08:14 pm »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?

Roman religion, part four

I have already mentioned Interpretatio Romana: One and the same deity may be known under several different regional names, but there also existed the view, that several different - but similar - deities may share one and the same name. The famous Roman orator Cicero posed as a Stoic, since that was what he - as an upper class Roman - was expected to do in the last century BCE, but in reality he was a Platonist with some doubts about humankind's ability to reach knowledge about the divine. There exist an excellent diagram, showing how an educated Roman contemporary to Cicero could perceive mythology:



There existed no mandatory dogma within Roman religion. Some concepts and ideas were, however, more frequently held than others: Exactly which ones changed over time.

Quintus Mucius Scaevola served as Pontifex Maximus (head priest) in Rome 89-82 BCE, and his division of theology became influential. He made a distinction between
  • Theologia Fabularis (mythological theology)
  • Theologia Civilis (theology of the public worship)
  • Theologia Naturalis (the theology by the philosophers)

According to Scaevola and his influential disciple Marcus Terentius Varro, myths are not supposed to tell us any literal and factual thruths about the deities, but it is possible to extract allegorical interpretations from the myths, and the recitation of myths at festivals serve the purpose of honouring the deities. Some Greeks, Romans, Syrians and Egyptians attempted to explain the myths as tales about human beings apotheised after death. That is called Euhemerism.

The names and enumeration of deities used by the public cult serve the purpose to maintain the rites and customs the Romans (and other people) have inherited from their forbears. I have already touched upon the essentially Agnostic nature of Roman worship. It is perfectly possible, that several gods or goddesses spoken about as separate beings in Roman rituals, might be different names of one and the same deity.

This is especially true regarding Tacita, Diva Angerona, Mania, Larunda and Acca Larentia. Likewise, it is especially true about Dea Dia, Ceres, Tellus, Bona Dea and Fauna.

I just mentioned the Stoics and the Platonists. Thanks to the Greeks, philosophy spread over the Roman Empire, and gave educated people from different parts of the Empire a common system of reference.

In Stoicism, the entire Nature is one with a world soul, known as The Logos. This thought is not dissimilar to Hinduism. The Stoic Cleanthes identified The Logos with Zeus (Jupiter for Roman Stoics). In the centuries CE it became usual to identify The Logos with the goddess Natura (Mother Nature), so in the works by Statius (45-96 CE), Mesomedes (first half of 2nd century CE) and Claudian (370-404 CE). Regardless of if Jupiter or Natura is the preferred address to The Logos - which is a useless thing to quarrel about - the Stoics agree that all gods and goddesses are manifestations or aspects of The Logos.

By time, the Platonists made a distinction between the World Soul and a higher, demiurgic principle conventionally known as Nous - The Mind. The Chaldaean Oracles, which is a book written by two Graeco-Syrian authors called Julian in the 180s CE, a distinction is made between The First Mind (also known as The Father) and The Second Mind. In the thought of the Neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus (204-270 CE), a fully developed chain of emanations appear:

  • The One (similar to The First Mind in the Chaldaean oracles)
  • The Mind
  • The World Soul (equivalent to the Stoic Logos)
  • The material realm

The thought of Plotinus would become incredibly influential in the 4th century.

To be continued
« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 01:09:25 pm by RecycledBenedict »

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2016, 04:47:48 pm »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side, and ... followers of the Roman pantheon on the Italian side?

Thank you, for allowing me be of some use for someone, despite my bad health today!

Roman religion, part five

During the late stage of Roman religion, it was characterised by - among other things - astrology, mystery religions and a blurring of the boundary between polytheism and monotheism (if such a boundary ever existed).

Astrology, as we know it, had come into existence by the mixing of Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek influences in the Greek-speaking kingdoms Egypt and Syria around 300 BCE, and quickly spread back to Greece and to Rome. The existence of twelve Signs of the Zodiac and seven astrological planets (only five of which would be known as 'planets' today) became part of a shared worldview.

Five Roman deities gave their names to planets, and we still use them today: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury. The Latin name of the Moon was Luna, and the Latin name of the Sun was Sol. The initial distinction between Luna and Diana, and between Sol and Apollo, became increasingly blurred by time.

Syria became a part of Rome in 68 BCE. Mesopaotamia was a part of Rome in 116-117 CE and 98-637 CE. In both Syria and Mesopotamia a week consisting of seven days, each associated to an astrological planet, was used in order to reckon time. Under Syrian and Mesopotamian influence, the seven day week spread through the Roman Empire unofficially long before it was adopted officially in 321 CE. The weekdays were named after the same deities as the planets. The planetary associations of each weekday had obviously become important already by the time the Roman mysteries of Mithra emerged shortly before 100 CE, since Mithraists celebrated the Sun in Sundays.

The official, public state-religion didn't have any initiation rituals, and didn't give any significance to spiritual experiences. The mystery religions did.

As I mentioned before, persons were allowed to form private associations of religious adherents - collegia - which were allowed to appoint sacerdotes. Most collegia performed rituals open for the general public, and, in general, didn't sacerdotes retain their priestly office for life. In Greece there were a handful of exceptions to this rule: The priests performing the mysteries of Demeter in Eleusis and the priests performing the mysteries in Samothrace.

When the Greek encountered priests who officiated for life in Egypt, they - erroneously - believed, that the Egyptian religion was a mystery religion after the pattern of Eleusis and Samothrace. Ironically, this erroneous assumption gave rise to an international pan-Roman mystery religion of Isis and Osiris/Serapis. The author Apuleius (c. 124- c. 170 CE) gives a famous account of the mysteries of Isis in his book The Golden Ass.

The Roman government had expressed hesitation (and outright persecution) against the idea of including the Egyptian deities in the public Roman religion 64 BCE-19 CE, but by 38 CE, when Emperor Caligula dedicated a temple to Isis in Rome, this initial hesitation had melted away. In the following centuries, the number of Roman public festivals dedicated to Egyptian deities increased. Isis Pelagia was especially popular among mariners. This is an example of, how many deities could be part of both public and secret rites.

Mitra is today a minor god in Hinduism, once a major god in the Vedic religion, before Hinduism got its current shape. Within Zoroastrism exist the angelic god Mithra, the name of whom is related to the Indian Mitra. Both most probably evolved out of a common Proto-Indo-European god. In Greek-speaking parts of Anatolia (today Turkey), the Levant and Egypt, the spelling Mithras emerged in the centuries BCE, and it is assumed, that pirates in Cilicia (today southern Turkey and northern Syria) practiced some (non-Roman) form of mysteries connected to the Persian Mithra, or a hellenised version thereof, in the decades BCE. The Roman mysteries of Mithras, however, are not attested before 80 or 90 CE, when the poet Statius mentioned them. The oldest archaeological remains of the Roman mysteries of Mithras are dated to, at the earliest, 98 CE. The symbolism, myths and beliefs of the Roman mysteries of Mithras had a distinctiveness of their own - such as the bull-slaying myth - not just a derivation from Persian sources. The mysteries of Mithras were only open to men, especially lower government officials and soldiers.

Magna Mater had been a part of official and public Roman religion since about 200 BCE, but in the 150s CE her consort, the castrated vegetation god Attis, got a mystery religion of his own. Some rites (in late March) were performed in public, and became a part of the official Roman calendar of festivals.

Something similar happened at the same time to the Syrian goddess Atargatis and her consort Adonis.

Emperor Hadrian's dead lover Antinous was apotheosised in 130 CE, and included in the Roman pantheon.

During the 2nd century CE, Jupiter Dolichenus (a fusion of the hittite storm god Tarhunt, the Syrian thunder god Baal, the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda, the Greek Zeus and the Roman Jupiter) was very popular among the Roman troops, but, during the reign of Emperor Maximus Thrax (235-238 CE), they were persecuted, and Jupiter Dolichenus never entirely recovered his former popularity after that.

Among the philosophers, there existed the concept of a Prime Mover (first written about by Aristotle), the Form of the Good (first written about by Plato) and The One (first written about by Plotinus). Also among the general population there was a trend towards acknowledgeing a First Cause beyond the gods and the goddesses. Personally, I find the words monotheism and polytheism useless: None of them are particularly good in order to describe any actually existing religion. Among devotees of the Egyptian deities, either Heikton (aka Heka), Kneph (aka Kematef), Vulcan-Ptah, Jupiter Ammon or Isis were regarded as the only deity, of which all others were aspects, emanations or creations. A cult of Zeus Hypsistos (Zeus The Most High) is attested in Athens since 50 CE, and a cult of Theos Hypsistos (God The Most High) is attested in Thessaloniki since 66 CE, but both spread to the entire Roman Empire. A particularly frequent devotion to Theos Hypsistos is attested from 2nd and 3d century Phrygia.

In the 3d century CE Cornelius Labeo developed the pagan theology, that all deities are aspects of The Sun under many names. A summary of this may be found in Macrobius' The Saturnalia, written in about 430 CE. Several expressions of solar worship emerged in the 3d century: Emperor Heliogabalus introduced the worship of the Syrian sun god El Gabal into the Roman pantheon in 218 CE, Private cultus of Sol Invictus flourished; and in 274 Emperor Aurelian included Sol Invictus in the public Roman pantheon by dedicating a new temple in Rome, and by instituting an entirely new governmental collegium of pontifices.

The old religion didn't have any particular name before the time of the growth of Christianity. In the 360s Emperor Julian suggested the name Hellenismos to denote the pre-Christian Roman religion (All educated people spoke Greek). Sallustius' On the gods and the world is a good summary of frequently prevalent beliefs among pagans of Emperor Julian's generation. You find it online, here:

http://www.goddess-athena.org/Encyclopedia/Friends/Sallustius/index.htm

Public sacrifices were outlawed in the Roman Empire in 392 CE. Theoretically, private sacrifices were outlawed too, but as long as no one disturbed their neighbours, the state didn't look actively for culprits. The philosophers Proclus (410-485 CE) and Damascius (458-538 CE) (and their circles of associates) kept intellectual forms of Roman paganism alive for some time.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 04:55:41 pm by RecycledBenedict »

Kitta

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2016, 12:52:30 am »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;194351
Thank you, for allowing me be of some use for someone, despite my bad health today!

 

Oh wow, that explains a lot!  I am deeply grateful for your time and effort - that must have taken a lot of it!  Thank you very much.

So, one thing that I've found really interesting is how much overlap there really was among the many religions.  I thought the Norse, Irish, and Roman religions would be rigidly separate things with perhaps only similarities, but I learned from a Druid that there are actually regions that had a very Norse flavor to the Druidry and now I learn that the Romans did not shy from inclusiveness either.

The attitude about religion that you describe in the Romans is something I find quite intriguing.  The officialism, the lack of an 'emotional' worship - I honestly find the idea very hard to come to terms with in my mind.  Where you said they place no significance on spiritual experiences, I find it so odd to think about that - it is such an alien concept.  The mystery religions I find interesting, though all of it's kind of fascinating.  I will definitely be doing some research and meditations on that whole idea though, as I truly want to understand as best I can how my Ancestors thought, how they practiced, and what their attitudes would be like about it.

This does, however, make it a little more difficult to complete my quest.  It seems Roman mythology is a lot more than my elementary school world history teacher lead me to believe, lol!

I read through it once, but it will take me a couple times reading over before I really internalize it - then I might come back to you for questions.  It's a lot to take in all at once, but it's exactly what I needed, so thank you again. :D
"There is no greater a friend one can have than a store of common sense." - Havamal

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2016, 08:08:26 am »
Quote from: Kitta;194355
So, one thing that I've found really interesting is how much overlap there really was among the many religions.  I thought the Norse, Irish, and Roman religions would be rigidly separate things with perhaps only similarities, but I learned from a Druid that there are actually regions that had a very Norse flavor to the Druidry and now I learn that the Romans did not shy from inclusiveness either.


There must have emerged Roman forms of West-Germanic religion in the provinces of Germania Superior and Germania Interior. Germanic legionaries were stationed in what is now northern England, and they left inscriptions mentioning the Germanic gods Mars Thingsus (supposed to be Tyr) and the (supposed) goddess Fimmilena.

Quote from: Kitta;194355
Where you said they place no significance on spiritual experiences, I find it so odd to think about that - it is such an alien concept.


Perhaps my words were chosen in an infelicitous way: Some experiences were important even in the public expressions of Roman religion, such as the flight of birds, sudden thunder during the ritual, and so on - the Romans were very interested in (and scared of) omens. What I meant with 'no significance on spiritual experiences', is that you shouldn't expect any similarities with a Tibetan Buddhist yidam meditation session or an Evangelical revival meeting at a sacrifice performed more Romano: It is a contract - a duty to be performed according the terms and agreements - not an opportunity to have mystical or ecstatic experiences.

Since the 180s CE, the importance of theurgy (a mix of meditation and private offerings) grew in the Roman Empire, but that was a part of private expressions of religion, not mandatory, official and public ones. Theurgy wasn't something everyone perfomed. Plotinus recommended meditation sessions. Iamblichus combined both theurgy and meditation, but the philosopher Porphyry had doubts about the usefulness of theurgy.

Quote from: Kitta;194355
This does, however, make it a little more difficult to complete my quest.  It seems Roman mythology is a lot more than my elementary school world history teacher lead me to believe


Indeed it is! The oldest layers of Roman religion - which I touched upon in the first part of my description - are very different from the form hybridised with Greek religion, that is often taught in school. It is true, that Roman and Greek religion fused, but that happened in a later stage, and then a continued fusion with Anatolian, Syrian and Egyptian elements happened, which are mentioned rather sparsely in school. That cause the risk of having a one-sided picture of Roman Religion/Hellenismos.

In my posts above, I haven't even mentioned the importance of virtues and abstractions in Roman religion: It was commonly occurring, to erect temples or shrines to abstractions such as victory (Victoria), good events (Bonus Eventus), peace (Pax), justice (Justitia), fortitude (Fortitudo), and so on. You can take practically every abstraction and worship it as a Roman deity.

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2016, 10:17:52 pm »
Quote from: Kitta;194327
I assume I am looking for Druids on the Irish side,

 
Modern druidry may have overlap in some cases with Celtic recon, but it is not in fact related so much to ancient religious practice.  For one thing, there is no actual data about what ancient druids actually did ritually; also "druid" was a complicated profession covering far more than just 'does religious stuff'.  There is druidry, and there is Celtic recon, and they are distinct, if somewhat related, things.
as the water grinds the stone
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Darkhawk

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2016, 10:22:11 pm »
Quote from: Kitta;194355
So, one thing that I've found really interesting is how much overlap there really was among the many religions.  I thought the Norse, Irish, and Roman religions would be rigidly separate things with perhaps only similarities, but I learned from a Druid that there are actually regions that had a very Norse flavor to the Druidry and now I learn that the Romans did not shy from inclusiveness either.

 
The idea that there are clear and distinct lines between religions and easy distinctions - especially polytheistic religions - has no place in the ancient world.  Human beings who meet other human beings trade ideas, stuff, concepts, understandings of the world; this certainly includes gods.  Some exchanges are more friendly than others.

You get people from different cultural backgrounds living in the same area, and they start to swap things up.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Kitta

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Re: Seeking Information on the religions of my Ancestors
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2016, 11:46:07 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;194391
Modern druidry may have overlap in some cases with Celtic recon, but it is not in fact related so much to ancient religious practice.  For one thing, there is no actual data about what ancient druids actually did ritually; also "druid" was a complicated profession covering far more than just 'does religious stuff'.  There is druidry, and there is Celtic recon, and they are distinct, if somewhat related, things.

 

I have noticed - it seems clear now that there is not much information on the ancient druids.  I have been reading about Celtic recon, and have been pleasantly surprised to see that again there is so much more overlap that I had previously anticipated.  

Some of what I read, too, really resonates with me, and I have been working on ways to incorporate some principles of both Celtic and Roman worship in my current practice - both as honoring my ancestors, and to give my faith the fluffing it needed.  I was feeling like something was missing, and I feel like now I am finding it.
"There is no greater a friend one can have than a store of common sense." - Havamal

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