Posts filed under ‘Ritual’
Thanks to everyone for this discussion- Galina Krasskova has written a post clarifying the Cuban origins of the ancestor elevation ritual, (though she is not the one organizing it) I don’t feel there is any cultural disrespect going on here, in fact I think people are being very intentionally respectful in honoring people who otherwise might be forgotten. I’m making a list of links of Trans* Memorial Rituals- both for the Ancestor Elevation one as well as others. Blessings to everyone participating.
Alice Coltrane Memorial blog by Sylvan- “Alice Coltrane Memorial Colosseum & Wazoo is a live-in performance, ritual, and art space in Portland (Or), housed in an ex-Hare Krishna Temple once attended by a college-aged Steve Jobs. We maintain, under the blessings and protections of our spiritual headmistress SwamiTuriyasangitananda Alice Coltrane, a public altar space dedicated to our artistic ancestors and inspirations. In a tradition of experimental, improvisational, and conceptual transgressors particularly in sonic experimentation, many of our Honored Dead are also cisgendered males (as are all the current monks of the Colosseum). I have been trying to subvert this equation, and our alliance to the Transgendered Rite of Ancestor Elevation is an act in that direction.”
Paganarch/Rhyd Wildermuth- For the Trans Dead
Yes, I spelled that right- Chalica (chal-ick-a)
It’s a new(ish) winter holiday (2005) honoring the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism and our symbol, the Flaming Chalice. It was started by a group of young adult UUs who wanted our own winter holiday. Groups or individuals light a chalice (or candles from a central chalice) each day for a week (starting the first Monday of December) for each principle, discuss the principle and take an action related to it. The last part isn’t always included, but I saw the idea in one of the articles and thought it was a good one. Another unique winter holiday is IllUUmination, celebrated by the UU church of Little Rock, Arkansas since 1994.
OK, I admit the first time I heard of it I thought it sounded really silly and contrived. There are some criticisms that it’s a rip-off of Hannukah, especially with the rough similarity of the name, but if you’re going to go that route, accuse Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa first. Kwanzaa bears more of a resemblance to Chalica, with its focus on a different set of seven principles, the Nguzo Saba. Some UU congregations do observe Kwanzaa, particularly if they have more African-American members. However given how white our congregations tend to be, and the simple fact that few African-Americans grow up celebrating Kwanzaa, I don’t think it’s that common among UUs. Many Jewish UUs celebrate Hannukah, and Pagans and atheists/humanists celebrate the Winter or Summer Solstice with mythic or scientific slants as they prefer. I’ve also heard of Humanlight, a specifically Humanist* holiday, celebrated on December 23rd. Seriously, that name is worse than Chalica! Most atheist & humanist groups that I’m aware of stick with the solstice.
And yes, a lot of us still celebrate Christmas! It’s just as much are holiday as it is for all the “proper” Christians. Heck, it was a Unitarian, Charles Dickens who single-handedly re-invented the holiday for the English-speaking world with his book, A Christmas Carol. Before that, it was like 12 days of Mardi Gras, and the Puritans banned it both in Britain and the American colonies when they ran things! Dickens re-oriented it towards family and charity for the poor. My church, Unity Unitarian is waaay into Christmas, we even have an extra hymnal for carols that the UUA took out of the official hymnal ‘cuz they were too old-school! We even have a traditional pageant, with Mary, Joseph, shepherds and angels. I haven’t been to it yet.
Come to think of it, I wonder if it would be better for Chalica to be celebrated at a different time of year with less holidays. Christmas, Winter/Summer Solstice, Hannukah and Kwanzaa are all valid holidays for UUs to celebrate. Our calendar is already so lop-sided, and we only have two other uniquely UU celebrations of Flower & Water Communion. I think we could in general use some more liturgical “oomph” for both of these.
*Trust me, there’s a difference between capital H ones and lowercase ones.
References & Resources:
UU World– Chalica
The Chalica song (if it has a song, then it’s a real holiday!)
A better Chalica song (amazing how he fits in those long-winded principles!)
Why Do We (UUs) Have So Many Winter Holidays? Sermon by Rev. Amy Zucker Morganstern
Info about animal sacrifice/ritual slaughter in various religions:
What is Voodoo? Understanding a Misunderstood Religion, Pt 1, Part 2 by Saumya Arya Haas
What is Halal? (Islamic dietary laws)
Discussion on Pagan and Polytheist Blogs– if not obvious, religions are noted in parentheses
The Wild Hunt: Perspectives: Blood Sacrifice in Modern Paganisms
(Magna Graecian Bacchic Orphism) Sannion/House of Vines: The red thread of our tradition
(Heathen/Northern Tradition shaman) Galina Krasskova: On the Nature of Sacrifice
(Hellenic) Of Thespiae: A story about the power of sacrifice
Thracian Exodus: Let us find a better way
(Hellenic) Gargarean- Animal Sacrifice
Northeast Heathen: On Blood Sacrifice
Writings of a Pagan Witch: Making Sacrifices to the Gods
Church of Asphodel: Towards a Better Understanding:Animal Sacrifice & the Community
To add to the self-care virtues, let’s start talking about practice that goes well with self-care. Often-times when we are focused on self-care, the idea of spiritual practice seems like too much to take on. We may be preoccupied with time, space, privacy and money considerations. The key is to start out small and keep it simple. I myself have been trying to keep in the habit of saying a prayer in the morning to Brighid from the Clann Bhride Book of Hours. However it’s on my tablet, and I find it awkward to grab, so I do plan on buying a print copy at some point. I also prefer speaking them aloud, and feel self-conscious saying my prayers in front of my agnostic partner. That’s something I may just need to get over, it’s another aspect of personal insecurity that I need to deal with.
Another tip: Do not worry about what other people think about your spiritual practice. Avoid pagan groups (online or offline) that are negatively focused on ripping each other apart, calling each other fluffy etc. Save being a hard-core scholar/warrior/magician etc. for another day and just do what helps you take care of you and feel good about yourself.
Worshiping with Limited Space & Money– by Conor Warren, Hellenic polytheist
Minimalism by Nornoriel Lokason, Norse polytheist and spirit-worker
Magical Decorating on the Cheap by Tressa Belle, ADF Druid/Heathen
Her blog in general has lots of craft & recipe ideas that are easy and kid-friendly!
Dorm Room Druidism by Michael J. Dangler, ADF Druid Priest
(the following are by the same author)
Creating the Desire for Worship– how to keep going (important for those of us with depression!)
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.