Archive for August, 2012
I was curious to see what other people had to say about Outsiders, here are some things I found:
An essay on the ADF website- he also discusses the idea of outsiders as emotions, and talks about the social/anthropological aspects as well as cosmological.
Earrach of Pittsburgh- Senior Druid of the Sassafras Grove- gives some explanations and instructions on this part of ADF ritual. Similar to the above, pretty standard ADF viewpoints. He makes a good point of recommending calling it “acknowledgement” of the outsiders rather than invocation or offering. He affirms that we are trying not to draw their attention.
Outsiders: What, Like It’s Hard or Something? Goofy post- but makes a good point that who the outsiders are depends on the focus of the ritual. Amusingly, she calls herself the “Elle Woods of the Occult” (from Legally Blonde)
Adapting the ADF Ritual Format for Families– Tressa Belle thinks the Outsider step is unnecessary, and suggests instead a blessing of the space for protection. She says simpler rituals are best for families, and I must agree. Long, complex rituals = not kid-friendly, which makes typical ADF rites a problem. Nice blog overall. Though I don’t have kids currently, I often find family-oriented Pagan resources to be useful- I am kind of a big kid myself!
From the Celtic Reconstructionist FAQ “Some CRs strive to make “treaty” with such beings, usually at the boundaries of their property or some distance from a ritual site. This is done to make an agreement that if the Spirits take the offering, They are promising to not disrupt the home or ritual.”
So, it’s not just an ADF thing. This section also describes Outsider as an ancient & modern social role. To differentiate from this, some folks in ADF use the term “Outdweller” for these spirits. It looks like others are having some of the same feelings/thoughts as I am on this.
In most Indo-European mythologies, there is a primordial battle between the older forces of darkness & chaos and the younger forces of order and light. For example, the Jotuns vs. the Aesir, the Fomorians vs. the Tuatha De Danann, the Titans vs. the Olympians. Neither is strictly good or evil, it is really a story being told of the universe being brought into order.
In ADF, there is a phase of the ritual structure in which these “Outsiders” or “Outdwellers” the spirits of chaos, are given offerings so as to discourage them from disrupting the ritual. We do this instead of casting a circle, as they do in Wicca.
In the (non-ADF) Druid grove I participate in, we do neither. Some of the members have mentioned that they think it is the idea that evil spirits need to be placated before ritual is just silly. I think they believe we have nothing to fear from them.
I have mixed feelings about this as well. For one, it seems rather superstitious to me. Also, some Druids have beings/gods they worship like Eris and Loki, which would be considered Outsiders. In each of these mythologies, the two races are interrelated- the Gods are usually the children of the chaotic beings. Also by addressing them, and giving them an offering, we may be drawing their attention when otherwise they might’ve just left us alone. I also question if the reason for including this step in the Core Order of Ritual (COoR) is based more on theology/philosophy or Isaac’s desire to include as many elements of IE cosmology as he could in the ritual format.
I’d consider identifying the Outsiders with emotions and other issues we want to set aside before the ritual- anxiety, anger, rivalry, worries about money etc. Another possibility occurred to me yesterday while weeding the garden. We could identify the Outsiders with invasive species. Not just any non-native species, but ones that are disrupting the ecosystem- around here these would include- milfoil, buckthorn, zebra mussels and Asian carp, and emerald ash-borer. In these mythologies, even after being defeated in the primal war, the Outsider races still continued to make efforts to destroy the world. Human beings are actually the ones working on this, and these species which we’ve brought in, whether intentionally or accidentally, are doing their part as well.
Psychology can be useful in understanding of our spiritual and emotional development. Spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, prayer and spiritual communities can be of great help in maintaining and recovering mental health. Yet practices that fall outside the “mainstream” may be seen as evidence of insanity- such as: communication with spirits, ritual possession, journeying to the otherworld.
There is a point at which these types of practices can become unhealthy, but it may be tricky for a therapist to tell unless they are familiar with the person’s religion.
In the past, shamans* often lived on the edge of society, and due to their way of life, may not have supported themselves economically- so the community supported them. In modern society, such people may be seen as mentally ill, and our society is not set up to support them.
Erynn Laurie, Celtic Reconstructionist author, gives an example of this in her description of the “geilt” of the Irish.
There is a concept in some cultures called “soul loss” which corresponds to our idea of depression. I believe there can be bio-chemical causes of depression, but I also think the stresses and spiritual alienation of post-modern societies contribute as well. Sociologists speak of “anomie” a state of normlessness- alienation, purposelessness, a lack of social connection,
We don’t have roots, we don’t know we are. We aren’t connected enough to our families and communities. We change jobs, homes, spouses. We have more choices and seemingly more freedom than our ancestors, but we don’t know what to do with it.
We often too easily trust that anyone with a Ph.D or medical degree is an expert that will have all the answers. As one who has had many dealings with mental health practicioners, I have at times, found them to be wrong after doing my own research and following my own reason and intuition. We need to find a balance between accepting guidance from psychology and trusting our own spiritual truths.
*Note: I am using the term “shaman” for lack of a better term across cultural boundaries. I mean no disrespect.
This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project