Using Statues in Shrines and on Altars

Cult Statue of Zeus Hypsistos
Zeus Hypsistos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you use statues to represent deities on shrines and altars, and if so, what benefit do they have for you? Do you care for them as temple idols that literally contain the spirit of the deities, or are they more of a visual focal point for prayers?

Personally, I feel like I’m pulling away from using statues to represent deities in my own practice. I’ve collected quite a few, but I don’t feel like they really enhanced my practice that much, especially in relation to how expensive they tend to be. A candle of an appropriate colour and a symbol from nature can be just as effective.

Re-Thinking Neo-Pagan Practice

Wheel of the Year
Wheel of the Year (Photo credit: nearlywildlife)

This thought occurs to me whenever I take part in a public group ritual, or watch Youtube videos of modern pagan rituals. I find that there are a lot of declamations, gestures, and standing around in circles singing funny songs and chanting, this kind of thing doesn’t do anything for me, and these rituals have very little in common with historical paganism. In my opinion, they more resemble a church service than a pagan religious festival, with a shepherd leading the flock and focusing the group mind rather than actually honouring a deity. I’m guessing a lot of modern ritual structure comes from Christian influence in western religion in general, but also ceremonial magick, which influenced Wicca, which in turn influenced modern paganism as a whole. Even Hellenic Recon rituals I’ve seen videos of tend to have people standing around in circles chanting and narrating the purpose of the ritual with feeling like it’s a stage performance. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, but I would like to point out a few things.

First of all, the festivals of pagan antiquity weren’t so much like a church service in which people follow a leader in tedious ritualized actions that go on and on. Festivals were more like celebrations, with processions of the temple idols through public streets, kind of like a parade so that the common people could have a visual experience of the deity. There would also be public sacrifices and feasting, in which the community would take part in order to celebrate and propitiate the deity. It wasn’t so much about standing in circles chanting and making declamations, although maybe those arose as a substitute to blood sacrifices in the modern age. I don’t think animal sacrifices are necessary, as people could offer incense, grain, and fruit/vegetables, and even burn them in a large flame if they wanted to do a fire ritual. Also, ancient pagan rituals were about honouring a deity more than working towards a magical goal, so many elements of modern ceremonial magick-influenced neo-pagan ritual were not relevant.

The role of priests also differed among pagan antiquity, and while it varied by culture, generally the priests served the deities by working in temples, they weren’t really spiritual leaders for the general public. People maintained their own private shrines to the gods at home, where they gave offerings and made their personal prayers. The priestly intermediaries were not necessary. They did perform the big public sacrifices for the community to witness, but they weren’t really necessary to lead “rituals” or religious observances. Not like modern paganism, where you have High Priestess or High Druid so-and-so, ordained to lead and serve their community. Nonsense. Wise teachers are always good to have, but pagan priests aren’t like Christian ones who are shepherds for the flock. They serve the deity, not the people.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts on the matter. Take them or leave them.

Demeter, Despoina & Persephone (aka We are Family…)

photograph of a relief of Demeter in her horse...
Demeter in her horse drawn chariot with her daughter, Kore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been working with Demeter for the last few months and it’s been great, it just feels like a natural fit. Which is great, granted I need to put more effort in, but She’s very patient…luckily for me.

However recently, and I mean really recently I’ve started to read up about Persephone and Despoina. I guess it just seems like a natural progression as Persephone and Demeter’s myth are so firmly linked together. As for Despoina, well I guess I find her interesting as there is scant information on her.

Which leads me nicely to my question; who works with Persephone and/or Despoina? What are they like to work with?

Also, on a slightly related note has anyone found themselves drawn to deities that are connected to a deity they already worship? E.g siblings, consorts, offspring etc… If so what drew you to them?

Quick Meditation Question on Visualization

Meditation
Meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been working on counting breaths and visual meditation.

What exactly does visual mean when it comes to meditation. I can *think* about an image, but not actually see it. I cannot form a red triangle in my mind, for example. All I see is darkness with random white patches.

Do you actually see things during a visual meditation, or just think about them? Like when people use guided meditation to see their deity or whatever, it doesn’t make sense to me.

I appreciate any help. Thanks!

Religion in Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire

Works based on A Song of Ice and Fire
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While not technically real pagan religions, I’m interested in the religious themes that appear in the show and the books, although they don’t really go too deeply into religion in the show. I’m only part of the way through the first book, so I haven’t come across explicit explanations of the religions of the characters, except vaguely when a character mentions praying to “the seven faces of god” or something along those lines.

From what I’ve read online, the main religion practiced in the series is the Faith of the Seven, which involves the worship of seven deities who appear to be facets of one ultimate godhead. They include the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, a triad quite familiar to modern pagans, as well as the Father, Smith, and Warrior on the male side, and the genderless god called the Stranger, who represents mystery and death. Temples of the Seven are called “septs” (from the Latin word for “seven”), and priests are called septons and priestesses septas.

The Old Gods worshiped in the north are nameless deities, and this faith has more in common with animism than organized polytheism and the worship of specific, named gods. Trees called “Weirwood trees” are religious symbols, and there are no temples for organized worship.

There are also the Red God/Lord of Light, who seems a little sinister in the show, judging by the woman who follows him. From what I’ve read, this religion is more ecstatic and involves prophecy. There is also the Drowned God, worshiped as a local deity on the Iron Islands, which we haven’t seen much of yet in the show.

Anyway, I thought this was interesting, and clearly there is a lot of pagan influence in these fictional religious traditions, and elements relevant to a discussion of pagan religions.

A Medieval Mind Set vs. Not Believing in Anything

Medieval display
Medieval display (Photo credit: One lucky guy)

I had a heated discussion with a friend about Religion and Non Believers. The discussion went from the current Abrahamic Religions to the Egyptians, Sumerians and Witchcraft. He believes there is no such thing as Witches and that it is all a psychological matter. He also doesn’t believe in life after death. I’m not sure where some people get the philosophy that there is no life after death because I have heard this same philosophy from other people.

He then goes onward by stating that the Human race would be light years ahead if there weren’t any religions. I personally believe that some aspects of his beliefs are true because of the fact that things like stem cell research and cannabis are both persecuted as acts of crime, yet both offer vast amounts of healing.

I was told that I have a Medieval frame of mind because I believe in evil spirits and other dimensions. I also got into a heated exchange about Witchcraft having so many facets and that earliest forms of medicine stemmed from Witchcraft. Alchemy is another facet that evolved into chemistry. Modern physics has already demonstrated that there are other realms.

So am I really thinking with a Medieval Mind?

Beginning Magic?

English: 1848 painting of a folk magic ritual,...
1848 painting of a folk magic ritual (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been instructed (by the bossiest Goddess in the Universe) to start doing magic. When I pointed out that I don’t know anything about magic I got a terse “learn” as a reply.

So I’m looking for books, web sites, or tips on beginning magic.

For background I’m interested in herbs, candle magic, folk magic (and folklore), weather magic (that is, not doing magic to affect the weather but using the weather in magic as I am an uncannily accurate weather forecaster.) I’m not really interested in ceremonial magic stuff and I don’t work overtly with the four elements (in that I don’t make sure they are represented in all magic/ritual work).

Also is it okay to talk about magical workings as I am doing them? Some say this makes them less effective but I don’t understand why this would be?

Questions about Hellenic Polytheism

Category:Ancient Greek buildings and structure...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been studying Wicca on and off since I was in 8th Grade. Now that I’m going to be a freshman in college this fall, I’m jumping back into my studies and have recently found Hellenism. I’ve had a fascination with mythology, mainly Greek mythology, since I was in elementary school.

So, with that said, I’m not exactly sure where to start. I’ve been researching the gods and goddesses and have found a lot of hymns to the gods and I was wondering if anyone had any book/website suggestions or just advice/information about festivals, altars, rituals, etc.

The Hunter vs The Farmer?

Winter morning
Winter morning (Photo credit: blmiers2)

I’ve been around the pagan scene for awhile and I’ve noticed that there’s been a lot of emphasis on the growing season and the Spring and Summer months. Which I’m not knocking, if that’s what work for people, then that what works for them.

However, it seems that the Fall and Winter months seem to get neglected, the part of the year that I believe belongs to The Hunter. In the Spring and Summer farmers and field workers plant and grow their crops and reap them in the late Summer early Fall. However in the fall and winter, hunters hunt for their food.

Yes it is the season for death, as plants wilt their leaves, and the hunters do slain the animals when the earth becomes cold. However, I think this time has it’s own form of magic that I believe is being unappreciated.

The cold and dark days do have their own cycle, which heightens at the Winter Solstice and then makes way for the Warm season.

Just as the warm season’s magic is at it’s strongest during the Summer Solstice, so is the Cold Season’s magic is at it’s strongest during the Winter Solstice.

Honestly I have a stronger connection to the cold season because I love the Fall and Winter and I work with dogs, who are descendents from the wolves. Wolves seem to be more in tuned with the Cold Season than they do with the Warm Season, but maybe I’m off on that?

I just feel more in tuned with the Hunter than I do with the Farmer.

Christo-Pagans?

tarot
tarot (Photo credit: terriem)

I could not think of a better term than Christo-Pagan, although I only worship Christ.

I struggled a lot with Christianity growing up, because of the way it was presented to me. I dabbled in Agnosticism here and there, but always believed in a Higher Power. I was drawn out of my Protestant upbringing to the Catholic Church. From there, I found the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.

At that Church, I feel like I am home. I feel intense peace and belonging. Yet, I still believe that religious beliefs fall on a spectrum. I dabble in energy work and Tarot cards still, but not in anyway that runs contrary to Christianity. I use energy work and Tarot readings as my own inner insight.

Is anyone else like this? I still feel weird about it, because I know many Christians would reject me upon hearing this, but at the same time, they are my true feelings.