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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Ritual protocol

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

House Sankofa is a mixed House. I think from what I've already shared about our House that it's pretty clear what that might mean, but to be fair I'll explain. In the founding of the House, our goal was to create a sanctuary, a welcoming devotional space where all the Gods and ancestors were welcome, and where They would each be venerated and honored according to the customs and protocols They preferred. To date, we have very strong Norse, African, and Mediterranean lines. What that means in actual practice is that slowly but surely we're all growing fluent and, i hope, fluid in moving from one religious language and set of protocols to another. I am purposely avoiding the use of the word 'eclectic.' It's come to have such a pejorative sense in the various Pagan communities that I do not think it furthers dialogue and, as we've already established in previous debates, words and their meanings are important. Rather, let's call this polytheism as our ancestors would have done it. 

Were I living several centuries before Christianity was a blip on the timeline of religious history, I would have naturally been polytheistic. I would have lived in a society, a community, a culture that was also polytheistic. It would have been the default setting for how we all viewed, engaged with, and processed our world. I would have honored my ancestors in whatever way was customary in my native culture; I would have honored my ancestral Gods, the Gods of my forefathers and foremothers.  I would also very likely have honored other Gods, possibly foreign ones, whose cultus were popular in my city. Were I to visit neighboring tribes, villages, or cities, it is not inconceivable that I would participate in foreign religious rites as well, honoring the Gods of the land in which i lived and moved. Then of course, there were whatever mystery cultus I may have initiated into. All in all, my personal practices and devotions may very well have been a diverse patchwork based on a number of factors. Ancient polytheisms were, in many ways, defined by their diversity. 

Now I don't mean that they lacked protocol and even some measure of exclusivity. Certainly one would not honor say Sekhmet in a temple of Vesta. There were civic and cultural constructs and protocols that were respectfully maintained within the individual temples. Preserving the cultus of that country's Gods was essential to preserving the country. Within the bounds of one's own personal practice, however, there was fluidity and a remarkable blending of practices. Polytheism meant and means 'many Gods' and that's exactly what people had. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Great article!
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I would definitely like that.
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    I hope one day to do Communalia with House Sankofa on behalf of the Ekklesía Antínoou.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
More on Ritual Praxis


So my recent Heathen Heretic article and its reception  (both of which you may find here: http://www.witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Paths-Blogs/beltane-offerings-not-the-post-i-intended-to-write.html)  led me to a certain epiphany with regard to the way so many of us approach ritual. Let me begin by saying that I'm always surprised when people purposely, or so it often seems, miss the point of my articles. A colleague recently pointed out that much of my writing provokes people past their comfort zones and that too rather surprised me: that people would draw lines against experience and narrow their worlds down to such small, grey places. Oh well. we do and everything in our world encourages us to do this so I guess i shouldn't be surprised. Still, there is nothing in my practice that should be radical to someone engaged in deep devotion with their Gods. Nothing. 

So when my call for respect and piety as part of the ritual process raised such a din, I was rather surprised. Then I realized, that as with so much else, it all comes down to what one determines is the purpose of ritual. It's more than just determining to place the Gods at the center of the experience, though that is a huge part of it, rather it's understanding why we are doing any of this ritual "stuff" in the first place. What's the point? Whom does it benefit? Obviously I believe it's if not crucial, at least desirable or I wouldn't be doing it. I think we forget that there are two sides of the equation in any ritual process: the human side and the Other (Gods, ancestors). The ritual itself is a conversation, ideally a dance between those two factions. It's a means of communication and experience. I suspect that's what makes rituals that are focused on the Gods so threatening to some: they put something greater than we above the sum total of our limited human experience. They connect us with that Other. 

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  • Candi
    Candi says #
    "Why does this imparting their own morality or decision making process as a mean to judge others need be a negative? If experience
  • Candi
    Candi says #
    I forgot to mention that there are rituals out there that don't involve the Gods. They involve personal transformation. That b
  • Tim Schneider
    Tim Schneider says #
    "That being said, when I see or hear the words "[blank] should be [x]," a red flag goes up. I respectfully wish to relate that whe
Beltane Offerings- Not the Post I Intended to Write

I recently posted a question on my Facebook, asking what recipes and dishes folks would suggest be made as offerings to Freya for Beltane. Cooking for the Gods, cooking up offerings is such a sacred rite in and of itself, and I can't help but wonder if our ancestors didn't have certain traditional foods or customary dishes (beyond roast pig)  that were prepared for the various Powers. If they did, of course, we've lost that knowledge, but that doesn't mean that over time we won't regain it through the wisdom of our ancestors and inspiration of our Deities nor does it mean that we shouldn't give thought to what might please the various Gods and Goddesses the best right now. I very strongly believe that it's by engaging in devotion and working hard to strengthen the tradition and restore the lineage that such knowledge will be returned to us.  Devotion is a powerful teacher in and of itself. So as I'm planning my House's Beltane celebration, I wanted to find out what foods other people customarily made for Freya at this time of year.


I had hoped (expected even) to get suggestions of specific dishes and some folks did come through to some extent. I came away from the conversation with a number of ideas that I wouldn't otherwise have had and which I"ll share with you at the end of this article. Unexpectedly, however, the conversation also highlighted yet another aspect of the devotional deficit so prevalent in contemporary Heathenry. I was really bowled over, though I suppose I shouldn't have been.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • sannion
    sannion says #
    I think you're misunderstanding my point, which is very easy to do with this imprecise medium of communication. So, to clarify,
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    I have a fairly new practice and am still working out a lot of things. It's very helpful to have writers like Galina and Sannion g
  • Laura P
    Laura P says #
    Why is it so controversial to love and respect the Gods and put the proper emphasis on the need to serve them well? It baffles me,

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