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Author Topic: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice  (Read 2384 times)

Mountain Cat

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Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« on: January 06, 2016, 07:54:42 pm »
I've only just yesterday begun to admit that my practice is probably going to have to veer off into eclecticism if I want something that feels whole and fulfilling. It's not something I'm comfortable with yet. I tried recon several years back and, as a solitary, it just didn't work. I was learning about Asatru and found that it wasn't right for me. I ended up in OBOD.

But, even though I love OBOD to bits, I have a few issues there, too. I don't follow a Celtic path. My Gods are Norse. It's very hard to make a spiritual practice fusing two things that don't go together, so I've kept them--Norse Pagan and OBOD--separate.

So here's the issue: I think I have to learn about Celtic Recon, just as I've learned about Norse Recon and I have to find somewhere in the middle to meet with ritual. I know I won't combine, say a Norse Blot with Celtic gods, but what I'm looking for is a way of structuring a personal ritual practice to use as a framework for offerings and prayer and the like. Something that is original but can be used in ceremonies and celebrations. I already don't bother with such things as Blot or Sumbel, because they feel ridiculous without other people. I don't perform OBOD rituals because they feel empty without deities and have a Wiccan-derived feeling that doesn't really work for me.

I can't say for certain that I'll end up following an eclectic path, but if I do, I need for there to be research done that satisfies my need to be non-offensive and reasonably accurate. I think perhaps if I can come up with a relatively generic ritual form, I can still keep both practices separate, but joined, through the commonality of ritual that is Celtic flavoured for one thing and Norse for another. That just made me cringe. I don't know how comfortable I'll be with that idea. But I should at least investigate the possibilities.

Can anyone recommend any good CR links or books for research? (I prefer to be at least recon-derived and non-offensive to deities and cultural ideals)

Can anyone offer me any ideas and/or advice on restructuring ritual to fit a generic eclectic practice? Or maybe something unique and beautiful? :)

Thanks.

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2016, 12:37:45 am »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;184673
Can anyone offer me any ideas and/or advice on restructuring ritual to fit a generic eclectic practice? Or maybe something unique and beautiful? :)

 
This essay offers very general advice about how to manage one's eclecticism, rather than specific advice about restructuring ritual, but if you haven't already read it, you'll probably find it very helpful.

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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2016, 07:32:50 am »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;184673

Can anyone offer me any ideas and/or advice on restructuring ritual to fit a generic eclectic practice? Or maybe something unique and beautiful? :)

Thanks.

I can only assist with one small detail.

From medieaval Scandinavian calendar-staffs and Icelandic sources, we know that one type of the pre-Christian Norse calendar divided the year into four quarters (another calendar - the age of which I am not entirely sure - made use of a division in half-years), and that courts of justice, religious festivals and sacrifices were associated with at least three of these quarter days or quarter seasons. Icelanders in the 13th century believed that a religious festival which included drinking was associated with the remaining quarter day or quarter season, but there are no descriptions that any sacrifices of animals used to happen at this remaining point of the year. If you read Swedish, the source material is quoted or described in detail in Andreas Nordberg's Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning.

Unlike the speculative obsession with equinoxes and solstices among both 19th century Meso-Druids and their contemporary Scandinavian romanticists, these Norse quarter days were not held at the equinoxes and solstices, but 3-4 weeks later.
 
I have been wondering if these four Norse quarter days share some sort of common Indo-European origin with the four Celtic quarter days known from Irish sources (although the Celtic ones occur 2 weeks later than the Norse ones).

The four ancient Norse quarter festivals were:
  • Winter Sacrifice - mid- to late January
  • Victory Sacrifice, also known as Disablot in eastern Scandinavia, and possibly related to the Anglo-Saxon Ostara-festival - mid- to late April
  • Midsummer - mid- to late July (and shall, despite the name, not be confused with the present-day Midsummer 3-4 weeks earlier)
  • Sacrifice to the Elves, probably including the Volse-ritual, also known as Disablot in western Scandinavia - mid- to late October
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 07:35:18 am by RecycledBenedict »

Mountain Cat

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2016, 04:20:15 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;184699
This essay offers very general advice about how to manage one's eclecticism, rather than specific advice about restructuring ritual, but if you haven't already read it, you'll probably find it very helpful.

Sunflower

 

Thanks for that. I read it ages ago but wasn't sure where to find it again. Eclecticism is not an easy thing to manage and on some level I don't feel right doing it. I feel that there should be something in either the Druidry or the Heathenism that would make a full and complete path for me but there are too many personal reasons--and UPG--as to why this isn't so.

The article is helpful in reminding me that eclecticism can work, even if I don't fully embrace that path. Thanks!

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2016, 04:25:58 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;184718
I can only assist with one small detail.

From medieaval Scandinavian calendar-staffs and Icelandic sources, we know that one type of the pre-Christian Norse calendar divided the year into four quarters (another calendar - the age of which I am not entirely sure - made use of a division in half-years), and that courts of justice, religious festivals and sacrifices were associated with at least three of these quarter days or quarter seasons. Icelanders in the 13th century believed that a religious festival which included drinking was associated with the remaining quarter day or quarter season, but there are no descriptions that any sacrifices of animals used to happen at this remaining point of the year. If you read Swedish, the source material is quoted or described in detail in Andreas Nordberg's Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning.

Unlike the speculative obsession with equinoxes and solstices among both 19th century Meso-Druids and their contemporary Scandinavian romanticists, these Norse quarter days were not held at the equinoxes and solstices, but 3-4 weeks later.
 
I have been wondering if these four Norse quarter days share some sort of common Indo-European origin with the four Celtic quarter days known from Irish sources (although the Celtic ones occur 2 weeks later than the Norse ones).

The four ancient Norse quarter festivals were:
  • Winter Sacrifice - mid- to late January
  • Victory Sacrifice, also known as Disablot in eastern Scandinavia, and possibly related to the Anglo-Saxon Ostara-festival - mid- to late April
  • Midsummer - mid- to late July (and shall, despite the name, not be confused with the present-day Midsummer 3-4 weeks earlier)
  • Sacrifice to the Elves, probably including the Volse-ritual, also known as Disablot in western Scandinavia - mid- to late October

 
Sources on that?
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2016, 04:31:08 pm »
Quote from: Elding;184767
Sources on that?


As I told Mountain Cat:

Quote
If you read Swedish, the source material is quoted or described in detail in Andreas Nordberg's Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning.


And you obviously read Swedish. Nordberg quotes all the sources in that book. It is an excellent read.

Mountain Cat

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2016, 04:36:52 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;184718
I can only assist with one small detail.

From medieaval Scandinavian calendar-staffs and Icelandic sources, we know that one type of the pre-Christian Norse calendar divided the year into four quarters (another calendar - the age of which I am not entirely sure - made use of a division in half-years), and that courts of justice, religious festivals and sacrifices were associated with at least three of these quarter days or quarter seasons. Icelanders in the 13th century believed that a religious festival which included drinking was associated with the remaining quarter day or quarter season, but there are no descriptions that any sacrifices of animals used to happen at this remaining point of the year. If you read Swedish, the source material is quoted or described in detail in Andreas Nordberg's Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning.

Unlike the speculative obsession with equinoxes and solstices among both 19th century Meso-Druids and their contemporary Scandinavian romanticists, these Norse quarter days were not held at the equinoxes and solstices, but 3-4 weeks later.
 
I have been wondering if these four Norse quarter days share some sort of common Indo-European origin with the four Celtic quarter days known from Irish sources (although the Celtic ones occur 2 weeks later than the Norse ones).

The four ancient Norse quarter festivals were:
  • Winter Sacrifice - mid- to late January
  • Victory Sacrifice, also known as Disablot in eastern Scandinavia, and possibly related to the Anglo-Saxon Ostara-festival - mid- to late April
  • Midsummer - mid- to late July (and shall, despite the name, not be confused with the present-day Midsummer 3-4 weeks earlier)
  • Sacrifice to the Elves, probably including the Volse-ritual, also known as Disablot in western Scandinavia - mid- to late October

 
This is really interesting. I mean, I know about the days already, but I don't have the source or the history you mentioned. There is often so much in the way of bad information and speculation on the internet. And often that has come from, or winds up in, books that sell themselves as authoritative. I've read the heathen lore several times, but, as I'm not recon, I don't spend a lot of time in study or debate on the matter. I've found myself sort of flailing around, trying to figure out when to celebrate heathen festivals and how to do it.

I'm going to look into this a little more again, and see if I can find something that helps. Thank you!

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2016, 05:43:42 pm »
Quote from: Elding;184767
Sources on that?


And I may add, that the sacrificial animals connected to the Volse-ritual was horse (the phallus in that case). In another saga Hakon the good inhale the scent of boiled horse-liver,  in the Hervara-saga a tree is painted red with horse-blood, and in Hravnkel Freysgodi's saga a horse is thrown off a cliff into a lake. The associations with Frey are clear, but in the research of Gro Steinsland and Kari Vogt sacrifices to giantesses married to vanir gods are also a part of the ritual content: Skadi (under the suggested name Marn) and Gerd, the wife of Frey.

In Gisle Sursson's saga Torgrim sacrifices to Frey when the winter-halfyear begins in the end of October.

In the Saga of Viga-Glum and the saga of Egil Skallagrimsson, the festival in the end of October is called a Disablot (although that word is used differently in eastern Scandinavia).

In Sigvat Tordarson's Österfaravisor sacrifice to the elves occur in several farms in the autumn.

In Kormak's saga the proper sacrifice to the elves are oxblood. The boiled ox itself is eaten by human participants.

Nordberg suggests that the drinking of jul (yule for the English speaking readers) originally ocurred at the first new moon after winter solstice, while the Winter sacrifice ocurred at the full moon, two weeks later, but that these two points, unless they are not identical, were later fixed to the solar calendar. In years when the moon was growing during winter solstice, the next new moon wouldn't occur until almost a month later, and the full moon further two weeks, causing the Winter sacrifice to move into the first week of February, but in years when the dark moon occurred the day after winter solstice, the full moon would occur already in early January. A large part of his book is concerned with an hypothesized earlier stage of calendarical development, in which the moon was important for time-reckoning.

That the exact date and nature of the pre-Christian jul is hard to decipher from the source material, and definitely not obvious, is shown by that Folke Ström, who, decades before Nordberg wrote his book, argued that the original jul had nothing to do with December or January, but was identical to the Alvablót in October. Nordberg's study has also caused the calendarical information in Britt-Marie Näsström's study Blot somewhat dated.

In Hervararsaga a pig, associated with Frey and Freya, is sacrificed at jul/yule.
 
After the fixation of the The Winter sacrifice to the solar calendar, it was tied to the Friday falling 15-22 January (Gregorian dates. The original have Julian dates).
Victory sacrifice: The Thursday falling 15-21 April. An agrarian ceremony was still performed by Christian farmers in Norway on 16th of April in the 17th century, in order to hail the summer-halfyear and pray for the harvest.
Midsummer: The Sunday falling 19-26 July.
Sacrifice to Elves (and probably Frey and giantesses): The Saturday falling 17-24 October.

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2016, 01:47:39 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;184673
I've only just yesterday begun to admit that my practice is probably going to have to veer off into eclecticism if I want something that feels whole and fulfilling. It's not something I'm comfortable with yet. I tried recon several years back and, as a solitary, it just didn't work. I was learning about Asatru and found that it wasn't right for me. I ended up in OBOD.

But, even though I love OBOD to bits, I have a few issues there, too. I don't follow a Celtic path. My Gods are Norse. It's very hard to make a spiritual practice fusing two things that don't go together, so I've kept them--Norse Pagan and OBOD--separate.

Keep in mind that one of the things OBOD stresses is that you are free to modify their ritual structure however you see fit.  They just give you something to start off as a template.  If you like the idea of the "peace in the [direction]" but don't like the "stag of the south" business you can keep what you like and toss what you don't.  If you want to invite deities you're welcome to do so.  

I don't think with OBOD you really have to learn about Celtic Reconstructionism.  Since they operate out of the UK they're going to draw heavily on Celtic mythology and themes since they are actually in the area that grew out of.  I don't know if you are actually doing the bardic grade course, but if you are I would say look for the themes they bring forth with the Celtic mythology and then look for similar ones in the Norse mythology if that speaks to you more.

Quote
Can anyone offer me any ideas and/or advice on restructuring ritual to fit a generic eclectic practice? Or maybe something unique and beautiful?

Have you looked at ADF?  They're kind of to America what OBOD is to the UK, but they have a different and generally more rigid structure.  Rather than drawing exclusively from Celtic mythologies and figures, they focus on an array of Indo-European groups including the Norse peoples and pantheon.  There are a lot of people in ADF who follow the Norse path but did not care for "mainstream" Asatru or Heathenry.  Many of them found ADF to provide the structure that they needed for research, personal practice, and ritual but without a lot of the negative stuff that can crop up with Asatru and Heathen groups.

Since you've indicated the Wiccan-flavored stuff from OBOD (the founder, Ross Nichols, was friend of Gerald Gardner, so the overlaps are unsurprising) doesn't do it for you I'll mention that ADF ritual structure does not involve calling quarters, casting circles, and the like.  Their structure, which they call the Core Order of Ritual (COoR), hallows and protects ritual space by the use of a gatekeeper (your entity of choice) and the gateways of the well, tree, and flame.  Many people in ADF had a similar distaste for Wiccan-style ritual and have found the COoR to work nicely for them.  And you can invite deities as part of the three Kindreds (ancestors, nature spirits, and shining ones) as well as "guests of honor," such as Sunna at Midsummer, Ullr and Skadi at Yule, and so on.

Mountain Cat

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2016, 04:36:35 pm »
Quote from: StagTracker;187033
Keep in mind that one of the things OBOD stresses is that you are free to modify their ritual structure however you see fit.  They just give you something to start off as a template.  If you like the idea of the "peace in the [direction]" but don't like the "stag of the south" business you can keep what you like and toss what you don't.  If you want to invite deities you're welcome to do so.  

I don't think with OBOD you really have to learn about Celtic Reconstructionism.  Since they operate out of the UK they're going to draw heavily on Celtic mythology and themes since they are actually in the area that grew out of.  I don't know if you are actually doing the bardic grade course, but if you are I would say look for the themes they bring forth with the Celtic mythology and then look for similar ones in the Norse mythology if that speaks to you more.


I've finished my bardic grade and I'm actually part way through the Ovate grade. So much about OBOD is perfect for me and just what I need for spiritual growth and fulfillment. It's just the clash that I feel when I try to do OBOD ritual that bothers me. Since I first wrote this post I've spent a lot of time reading about and studying ritual, liturgy and the like. I've got some good ideas on how to restructure my rituals, but nothing solid yet.

I don't feel that Celtic Recon is right for me at the moment: I have great difficulty with any kind of recon for several reasons, though I do respect it.


Quote
Have you looked at ADF?  They're kind of to America what OBOD is to the UK, but they have a different and generally more rigid structure.  Rather than drawing exclusively from Celtic mythologies and figures, they focus on an array of Indo-European groups including the Norse peoples and pantheon.  There are a lot of people in ADF who follow the Norse path but did not care for "mainstream" Asatru or Heathenry.  Many of them found ADF to provide the structure that they needed for research, personal practice, and ritual but without a lot of the negative stuff that can crop up with Asatru and Heathen groups.

Since you've indicated the Wiccan-flavored stuff from OBOD (the founder, Ross Nichols, was friend of Gerald Gardner, so the overlaps are unsurprising) doesn't do it for you I'll mention that ADF ritual structure does not involve calling quarters, casting circles, and the like.  Their structure, which they call the Core Order of Ritual (COoR), hallows and protects ritual space by the use of a gatekeeper (your entity of choice) and the gateways of the well, tree, and flame.  Many people in ADF had a similar distaste for Wiccan-style ritual and have found the COoR to work nicely for them.  And you can invite deities as part of the three Kindreds (ancestors, nature spirits, and shining ones) as well as "guests of honor," such as Sunna at Midsummer, Ullr and Skadi at Yule, and so on.

 

I keep looking in to ADF, thinking it would be just about perfect, but something feels a bit off, and I can't really put my finger on it. I might be the thing about gatekeepers. I'm really not sure. I think I'll just have to look more deeply into it, because it sounds like it should work for me. I'll have a look at the link you supplied. Thanks!

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2016, 01:54:35 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;187035
I've finished my bardic grade and I'm actually part way through the Ovate grade. So much about OBOD is perfect for me and just what I need for spiritual growth and fulfillment. It's just the clash that I feel when I try to do OBOD ritual that bothers me. Since I first wrote this post I've spent a lot of time reading about and studying ritual, liturgy and the like. I've got some good ideas on how to restructure my rituals, but nothing solid yet.

I don't feel that Celtic Recon is right for me at the moment: I have great difficulty with any kind of recon for several reasons, though I do respect it.

I keep looking in to ADF, thinking it would be just about perfect, but something feels a bit off, and I can't really put my finger on it. I might be the thing about gatekeepers. I'm really not sure. I think I'll just have to look more deeply into it, because it sounds like it should work for me. I'll have a look at the link you supplied. Thanks!

ADF has some good stuff, but I will say overall it isn't for me.  OBOD serves more as a platform for personal spirituality.  ADF is more of a religious structure.  It works well if your personal spirituality aligns to their religious structures, but if it doesn't I don't personally find it to be spiritually rewarding.  To put it another way, I find OBOD to focus more in internal stuff and ADF to focus more on external stuff.  But, the two can also compliment each other if you can ignore ADF's rather dogmatic overculture and just take what you like and leave the rest.

They do get a little full of themselves when it comes to the idea of, "Hurr, we're doing it the OLD ways!"  In reality, they're just as Neo-Pagan as the rest.  They do place more emphasis on research, archaeology, and that sort of thing to inform their work than some Neo-Pagan groups, but Isaac Bonewits himself freely admitted that a lot of their ritual structure was lifted from Catholic masses and such.  (Kind of the frog DNA in their ritualistic dinosaur.)

In terms of the gatekeepers, it's basically the idea that you ask spirits to help you in your ritual since they can be more gifted in operating between worlds.  It's not too much different than asking the powers of the elements or guardian spirits or something in circle casting.  ADF kind of fixates on asking deities to be gatekeepers, but you can also ask other kinds of spirits.  My grove just last night was talking about how ancestors, nature spirits, or even our higher selves may be suitable for gatekeepers.  Not to push the idea of using gatekeepers... just trying to summarize the idea.

I'd say give it a look and see what sort of stuff they have that you think you can use and toss the rest.  They have some good ideas, but like any Neo-Pagan path it's not the end-all, be-all some fancy it to be.  One problem I've had with following them until recently was a lot of their stuff just doesn't really strike home with me.  It just seems like religious LARPing.

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2016, 04:25:12 pm »
Quote from: StagTracker;187062
ADF has some good stuff, but I will say overall it isn't for me.  OBOD serves more as a platform for personal spirituality.  ADF is more of a religious structure.  It works well if your personal spirituality aligns to their religious structures, but if it doesn't I don't personally find it to be spiritually rewarding.  To put it another way, I find OBOD to focus more in internal stuff and ADF to focus more on external stuff.  But, the two can also compliment each other if you can ignore ADF's rather dogmatic overculture and just take what you like and leave the rest.

They do get a little full of themselves when it comes to the idea of, "Hurr, we're doing it the OLD ways!"  In reality, they're just as Neo-Pagan as the rest.  They do place more emphasis on research, archaeology, and that sort of thing to inform their work than some Neo-Pagan groups, but Isaac Bonewits himself freely admitted that a lot of their ritual structure was lifted from Catholic masses and such.  (Kind of the frog DNA in their ritualistic dinosaur.)


Yeah, I keep looking at ADF, thinking it is just what I'm looking for, only to realise it isn't, after all. I like the idea of hearth cultures. I do like that it's a religion and not just a spiritual path, but something about all the bits and pieces doesn't fall into the correct pattern for me.

I am reading a book by Bonewits right now and liking it, but I can see some areas that don't work for me (mana?) but not everything has to work for everyone, right? I'm just trying to figure out what I need. I think I need to re-work my OBOD rituals somewhat. They do give tons of info and ways to adapt things, so I think I can do that. But what I also need is a way to follow my religious path, as well. It seems so empty. I have to go over Asatru and Heathen stuff, yet again, and see if I can find a way to make things more formal and 'religious-y'.

Quote
In terms of the gatekeepers, it's basically the idea that you ask spirits to help you in your ritual since they can be more gifted in operating between worlds.  It's not too much different than asking the powers of the elements or guardian spirits or something in circle casting.  ADF kind of fixates on asking deities to be gatekeepers, but you can also ask other kinds of spirits.  My grove just last night was talking about how ancestors, nature spirits, or even our higher selves may be suitable for gatekeepers.  Not to push the idea of using gatekeepers... just trying to summarize the idea.


Yeah, gatekeepers of any sort don't work for me. I don't know if it's that I haven't found the right ones, if it's 'not right now', or something else. It feels awkward and intrusive. Maybe I haven't found the right situation/ritual/occasion for gatekeepers.

Quote
I'd say give it a look and see what sort of stuff they have that you think you can use and toss the rest.  They have some good ideas, but like any Neo-Pagan path it's not the end-all, be-all some fancy it to be.  One problem I've had with following them until recently was a lot of their stuff just doesn't really strike home with me.  It just seems like religious LARPing.


That's a really good way of describing things when a ritual doesn't work for you but you try it anyways: religious LARPing. Sometimes things just take time to get used to. Sometimes they just don't work and nothing you do will make them feel authentic--to the detriment of your ritual. Like you're just doing something to be doing it, whether or not it's right for you. That's probably why recon doesn't work for me. I can't get the right mindset. I just feel silly.

Now I'm going to go, have some tea, and try to find the pieces of ritual that *do* work for me and see if I can make anything work. Somewhere in my mind I want to divide things into different categories of ritual: OBOD rituals both light and more serious, magic-working rituals, and religious Norse Pagan rituals.

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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2016, 05:47:40 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;184673

So here's the issue: I think I have to learn about Celtic Recon, just as I've learned about Norse Recon and I have to find somewhere in the middle to meet with ritual.

Celtic recon is included as one of the religious communities in heathenry. I know quite a few hardcore-fundie recons as well as relaxed recons who are primarily Celtic, or who incorporate Celtic, Germanic, Hungarian, Russian and Nordic elements in their personal practice. (And call themselves heathens.)

I don't know if that's helpful to you in anyway, but the quoted but  just didn't strike me as eclectic.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2016, 05:48:19 pm by Juniperberry »
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Re: Problems with Ritual and Eclectic Practice
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2016, 01:04:44 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;187119
Now I'm going to go, have some tea, and try to find the pieces of ritual that *do* work for me and see if I can make anything work. Somewhere in my mind I want to divide things into different categories of ritual: OBOD rituals both light and more serious, magic-working rituals, and religious Norse Pagan rituals.

It may be that you just have to have different ritual setups for different purposes.  Going back to ADF, their stuff is mostly centered around celebration, honoring, and offering.  It can be adapted for magic working, but that's not one of their big things.  So it may be that, rather than one ritual format for all purposes, you might need to lay out ones for the purposes you cited - one for high days and other celebrations/honoring, one for magic working, and one or two for Norse-focused stuff.

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