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Author Topic: Honouring Irish Gods  (Read 2822 times)

Nyktelios

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Honouring Irish Gods
« on: August 10, 2011, 12:38:44 am »
Long story short, many years ago I was very interested in Irish gods and culture, and felt a strong collection with Danu, Dagda and Morrigan. Around this time, I started pursuing a Hellenic Recon path since I felt my connection to the Greeks gods was stronger, however, now that I'm loosening up again when it comes to how I view the universe, the gods and religious practice, I'm interested in honouring these gods again.

The problem is I don't really know how. I've read a few books on Irish paganism, but they don't really specify how one actually worships the gods. My first instinct is to honour them like I would a Greek deity, with incense and libations, although I don't think incense would have been used that far north, traditionally. Not that I think it matters that much, but I would like to be as culturally appropriate as possible.

Any advice?

Micheál

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2011, 02:33:05 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;11894
My first instinct is to honour them like I would a Greek deity, with incense and libations, although I don't think incense would have been used that far north, traditionally. Not that I think it matters that much, but I would like to be as culturally appropriate as possible.

Any advice?

Oddly enough many Celtic Recon's do adopt Hellenic reconstructionist practices, usually from comparative studies whilst trying to fill gaps that they are uncertain with. Truth is the cultures are very different, and we can find sufficient information, but their hearts are in the right place, and there are some similarities in regards to offerings.

Incense and libations would be fine. Incense is worked into traditional practices, and the Continental Celts were involved in a lot of trade with the Mediterranean, and other places that spread into the Insular regions. Altars and shrines tended to be in natural settings, not unlike the contemporary tradition of visiting sacred wells, and decorating trees,  and we've uncovered many artefacts that were deposited in lakes as votive offerings, not unlike leaving coins in wells. Offerings today can consist of libations of milk, or alcohol, and offerings ranging from salt, meat, grains, e.t.c. Exotic foods that aren't native to Ireland could still be appropriate because value was placed on exotic goods for that reason, similar to why they're imported today They can also consist of coins, jewellery, something that you've crafted, poems&adorations.

Hope that helps a bit, and a lot of it comes down to from what path you're approaching it. A friend of mine, Lora O'Brien, has a book called Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch that gets into Irish deities&myth, traditional culture, and witchcraft. In a more reconstructionist approach, our Seren has a great site that might answer some of the questions as to how you go about worshipping.
http://www.tairis.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=101:welcome&catid=35:home&Itemid=1

Good luck with it :)

Nyktelios

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2011, 08:25:45 am »
Quote from: Micheál;12175
Oddly enough many Celtic Recon's do adopt Hellenic reconstructionist practices, usually from comparative studies whilst trying to fill gaps that they are uncertain with. Truth is the cultures are very different, and we can find sufficient information, but their hearts are in the right place, and there are some similarities in regards to offerings.

Incense and libations would be fine. Incense is worked into traditional practices, and the Continental Celts were involved in a lot of trade with the Mediterranean, and other places that spread into the Insular regions. Altars and shrines tended to be in natural settings, not unlike the contemporary tradition of visiting sacred wells, and decorating trees,  and we've uncovered many artefacts that were deposited in lakes as votive offerings, not unlike leaving coins in wells. Offerings today can consist of libations of milk, or alcohol, and offerings ranging from salt, meat, grains, e.t.c. Exotic foods that aren't native to Ireland could still be appropriate because value was placed on exotic goods for that reason, similar to why they're imported today They can also consist of coins, jewellery, something that you've crafted, poems&adorations.

Hope that helps a bit, and a lot of it comes down to from what path you're approaching it. A friend of mine, Lora O'Brien, has a book called Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch that gets into Irish deities&myth, traditional culture, and witchcraft. In a more reconstructionist approach, our Seren has a great site that might answer some of the questions as to how you go about worshipping.
http://www.tairis.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=101:welcome&catid=35:home&Itemid=1

Good luck with it :)


Thanks, Micheál!

I've actually just been reading Lora O'Brien's book. I'm only about halfway through, but I like it so far.

Micheál

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2011, 12:27:13 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;12197
Thanks, Micheál!

I've actually just been reading Lora O'Brien's book. I'm only about halfway through, but I like it so far.

Anytime! And good stuff, she'd be glad to hear :)

Aster Breo

Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2011, 12:26:18 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;11894

Any advice?

 
There are a number of us here on TC who honor one or more of the Irish god/desses.  If you haven't found it yet, we have a SIG specifically for Celtic polytheism, so you should take a look there.  I'm not sure how many relevant threads have been started since we moved to this software, so you might want to go back into the SIG's archive on the old board.

Even better, one of TC's regulars, Seren, has put together a fantastic website on the practice of Celtic polytheism.  It will almost definitely help you.

I actually typed this response last night, but my computer crashed before I could hit post.  So I see that Micheál beat me to it w/r/t recommending Seren's site.  But another thumbs up never hurts.  ;)

Hope this helps!

~ Aster
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible
[/B]

Nyktelios

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2011, 09:46:46 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;12385

Hope this helps!


Thanks!

AlisonLeighLilly

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2011, 04:38:34 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;11894
Long story short, many years ago I was very interested in Irish gods and culture, and felt a strong collection with Danu, Dagda and Morrigan. Around this time, I started pursuing a Hellenic Recon path since I felt my connection to the Greeks gods was stronger, however, now that I'm loosening up again when it comes to how I view the universe, the gods and religious practice, I'm interested in honouring these gods again.

The problem is I don't really know how. I've read a few books on Irish paganism, but they don't really specify how one actually worships the gods. My first instinct is to honour them like I would a Greek deity, with incense and libations, although I don't think incense would have been used that far north, traditionally. Not that I think it matters that much, but I would like to be as culturally appropriate as possible.

Any advice?

 
My practice is not even remotely Recon, so I'm not sure how helpful my advice will be.... but wanted to share anyway. :)

When I first began making offerings regularly, I almost always just used a libation of water (usually spring water or local stream water, though sometimes regular ol' tap water when that's all that was on hand). In fact, early on in my practice, I didn't make offerings to any gods in particular, I just took a moment every morning to pour a libation over a small cairn of stones outside my back door as an offering to the land. This was my way of inviting the gods into my life by showing a willingness to engage in prayer and offerings, and very gradually my relationships with certain deities in particular began to grow as a result of that. As those relationships developed, I listened to my gods themselves for guidance and advice about what offerings they wanted (though I continue to do research on traditional offerings as well, because doing research is often when I'll get that *spark* of recognition that grabs my attention). My offerings these days tend to be: water, candles, homemade incense, beer, chocolate, prayer and creative work or poetry. Sometimes I'll go out of my way to get some (organic, local, cruelty-free) butter or milk, though usually we're primarily vegan in our household.

I also see myself as having a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to the kinds of offerings and such that I make, though. I will not perform rituals or make offerings that pollute the environment, for instance. This rules out many rituals and offerings (such as silver or other non-biodegradable objects in lakes, rivers or wells, or leaving ribbons tied to trees that might be synthetic or dyed using toxic chemical processes). Even though they're technically traditional, I feel that as someone living in the modern world I can't ignore the environmental consequences of those actions. I also don't offer meat, since I'm a vegetarian/vegan for political and environmental reasons. I know there are other CR folks who will make offerings of meat and such if their gods ask them to even if they themselves don't eat it.... so not everyone approaches that question the same way. If I have a sense that that kind of offering is asked of me, I take it as an opportunity to negotiate and push back - since I'm not obligated to be subservient to my gods, usually they appreciate my willingness to stick by my principles and things work out just fine. :)

That's my approach (sorry if it's not very articulate - I am pretty sleep-deprived at the moment!).

--Ali

AlisonLeighLilly

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 11:23:10 am »
Quote from: AlisonLeighLilly;12452


 
So today this article showed up in my feed reader, and it reminded me of the conversation here, so I wanted to share it!

"Keep your silver. Write me a poem."

The writer takes a really interesting approach to rituals and offerings in the Celtic/Druidic context and responds to some of the more traditional arguments about appropriate offerings. She also links to a really fascinating article in the New York Times that came out a couple weeks ago, about the Hindu residents in Queens using the local bay for sacred offerings, and the conflict that can arise between religious observance and ecological responsibility.

--Ali

Nyktelios

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 11:27:23 am »
Quote from: AlisonLeighLilly;12803



Cool, thanks for your input :)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 11:28:06 am by Nyktelios »

Seren

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Re: Honouring Irish Gods
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2011, 07:55:05 am »
Quote from: Micheál;12175
Oddly enough many Celtic Recon's do adopt Hellenic reconstructionist practices, usually from comparative studies whilst trying to fill gaps that they are uncertain with. Truth is the cultures are very different, and we can find sufficient information, but their hearts are in the right place, and there are some similarities in regards to offerings.

While CRs might refer to other cultures during research, practices aren't just co-opted from other cultures to fill in the gaps. It's more like we see what evidence there is in other cultures to help us find examples in the Celtic culture we're concentrating on; it helps us get an idea of what we're looking for.

The only example I can think of right now (of course, not the best example either!) is looking for evidence of creation myths, say; we look to Indo-European evidence, Norse myth, and see that there are many parallels surviving in Irish myth. Not surprising, since they're all I-E cultures, but they're all expressed in different ways. Of course, we'll likely never have a complete picture of an Irish creation myth, if such ever existed, but what we do find can help us understand the cosmology a little better.

Quote
Exotic foods that aren't native to Ireland could still be appropriate because value was placed on exotic goods for that reason, similar to why they're imported today They can also consist of coins, jewellery, something that you've crafted, poems&adorations.

Yes, I think there's also something to consider about the kind of things the person likes, when giving offerings. It might not be traditional per se, but if it's something you like then it has more meaning when you offer it. Or else, it could be traditional, made specially.

A good offering for the Dagda would be porridge - he's said to love porridge (in The Second Battle of Mag Tured), but bear in mind that the kind of porridge referred to then is different to what we know as porridge; their porridge would have had meat in it as well. Kind of like a very stodgy stew, as far as I can tell.

Alcohol is always a good libation, but depending where you are in the world, local, native peoples might have their own taboos against alcohol being poured on the ground, or something like that. A lot of CRs take this sort of thing into consideration so as not to cause offence to local spirits.

Quote
In a more reconstructionist approach, our Seren has a great site that might answer some of the questions as to how you go about worshipping.
http://www.tairis.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=101:welcome&catid=35:home&Itemid=1

Thanks!

Quote from: Carnelian;11894
The problem is I don't really know how. I've read a few books on Irish paganism, but they don't really specify how one actually worships the gods. My first instinct is to honour them like I would a Greek deity, with incense and libations, although I don't think incense would have been used that far north, traditionally. Not that I think it matters that much, but I would like to be as culturally appropriate as possible.

Any advice?

Offerings are a good place to start, though I don't think incense is a typical offering in a Gaelic context (juniper is sometimes burnt in Scotland, but that has specific contexts). Libations of alcohol - whisky or beer especially - or milk, and food offerings are traditional. Keep it simple, with something like bread (like soda bread, say) and butter, meat, and seasonal fruits, perhaps. Or if you have an idea of something they might like, try it! I know a few CR folk who have certain offerings they give to particular deities that wouldn't be considered to be traditional, but are well-received nonetheless. One of my regular offerings is coffee grounds, for example.

ETA: I forgot to say: One thing in particular that might be different from Greek practice is that we don't eat or drink offerings ourselves. Once an offering is made, we tend to put it outside and leave it well alone. In a Gaelic context, it's believed that the 'toradh' - the essence, or goodness - is taken, so while the food might remain, the goodness is gone and it's not considered fit for consumption.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 07:58:24 am by Seren »

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