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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in temple worship

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Buy CraftVatika Gold Metal Panch Aarti ...

4, 2, 3, 7.

That's how you offer the lamp to a Hindu god.

Puja, also known as arati, is the major Hindu rite of temple service, in which various items—water, incense, fire, a flower (read: water, air, fire, earth) are presented to the deity indwelling the murti (statue), and then consumed by the worshiper herself.

(There's an entire theology encoded in this ritual, but I'll leave you to suss that for yourself.)

Each item is circled in the air—sunwise, of course—before the deity a certain number of times. That's where the numbers cited above come in.

  • Four small circles to the god's feet.
  • Two small circles to the god's navel.
  • Three small circles to the god's face.
  • Seven large circles around the god's entire body.

Why, I asked my friend, head pujari at the local ISCKON center, those particular numbers to those particular parts of the god?

My friend didn't know. He had, in fact, asked the same question of his teacher, who likewise did not know. While in altar training, my friend had asked all around. No one in the community seemed to know.

(This isn't really surprising. Sometimes things become so ingrained in a tradition that it simply never occurs to anyone to ask.)

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see to the heart of a given matter. I'm a ritualist myself, of a different, though related, tradition. So here, for what it's worth, is my best guess as to the meanings:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 The Five Seals of Temple Worship

(In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Goes All Mystical on the Reader, or Something)


See here in the mosaic floor before the altar, these five inset seals in a line, marking a path to Holiness, and from it.

These are the five stations of the daily offerings.

Here, farthest from the altar, you stand to make the offering.

Next, before it, is where you touch, bowing to touch the ground.

Upon the third, three paces from the first, you stand to make the prayers. (Having offered, you now draw near, to offer up prayers for the people.)

Before it, fourth, is where you touch, bowing to touch the ground.

And here, fifth, nearest the altar, is where, at the end—prayers spoken, offering made—you kiss the Earth.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The Smoke Medicine of Your Ancestors — Sacred Ancestry


“Mm, your hair smells good,” says my coven-sib as we share a post-ritual hug.

“Really?” I ask, “like what?”

(Back in the day when we used to hold rituals down on the banks of the Mississippi, my boyfriend said to me one morning: “Is it a pagan holiday today?” “Yeah, Lunasa,” I replied. “How did you know?” “Oh, your hair always smells like smoke,” he said.)

She takes another snuff.

“Incense,” she says.

I'm a little surprised to hear it, given that we burned no incense tonight, and that it's been more than 12 hours since I made the morning offering.

“Your house always smells like that, too: so good,” adds another coven-sib.

Dion Fortune talks in Moon Magic about how in time the entire fabric of the temple becomes imbued with the redolence of frankincense. For us of the Old Ways, there's no prayer without offering. Twice daily I offer incense, with prayer, at Temple of the Moon, where I live: morning and evening, day in, day out, year upon year upon year.

I sometimes wonder about the long-term health effects of such operational piety. Will I be seeing, in age, the priestly equivalent of black lung? A hieratic occupational hazard? Oh well: I burn the best quality stuff I can afford, and try to get plenty of lung exercise in the meantime. Let the sandalwood chips fall where they may.

I suppose it's not surprising, given that my house smells like incense, that I don't even notice it any more: the way, I suppose, fish don't notice the water they swim in, either. Funny, how in the end we become our environment.

Well, there are worse things to smell like than prayer. Living in the odor of sanctity sure sounds like my idea of the good life. Perhaps, over time, the body, like the temple, becomes imbued with the redolence of ritual.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Egypt Civilization - Min, God of Fertility, Min -Egyptian mnw- is an  ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in the predynastic period - 4th  millennium BCE- He was represented in many different

The “Tantra” of Temple Worship


Hey, do me a favor, would you? You're still working on that spell for summoning the dead, aren't you?

Well, when you finally perfect it, would you let me know?

Oh, nobody in particular. Pretty much any ancient Egyptian priest would do, I should think.

Well, yeah...I do have a question about...ah, temple protocol, you could call it, that I'd like to ask him. You know, offerings and such?

Say: you've got a home temple, don't you? Do you pray and make offerings there on a daily basis?

Just off and on, eh? Hmm. Well...let me ask you anyway.

So...when you make the prayers and offerings, do you ever find yourself getting...well, physically aroused?

OK, whew. So it's not just me. I mean, it makes perfect sense, of course: serpent power and all. Every temple offering's a Great Rite, right?

Still, I mean, we're witches, serving witch gods. I mean: Old Hornie, “lord of the skull and the phallus”, right? He pretty much is Arousal, right? Like god, like priest?

But does it depend on which god you're serving, maybe? I mean, Min, sure, but Amun? Or Thoth? That's what I want to know.

Yeah, f*ck, that's the bitch of it. Witchery, sure, that's never gone away, but witch temples now, our tribal sanctuaries? We haven't had those for years and years.

So much lost, so much.


Back when, there would have been a senior priest to ask, but now...we just have to figure it out as we go, and try not to blow anything up in the meantime.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Flute (Medieval) – Early Music Instrument Database

Here playeth the temple orchestra.

Call it an unwritten rubric.

In the old days, of course, every endowed temple would have had its own orchestra: professional musicians whose sacred playing accompanied the daily rites.

There are offerings, and there are enhanced offerings.

Alas, in these benighted days, when temples go largely unfunded, whether by community or by generous patron, temple-keeping is largely an act of private love and devotion, with the resident priest or priestess  themselves providing most of the candles, incense, and offerings. As I say, an act of love.

But sometimes vistas of the future open suddenly before our eyes.

For the last few days my friend and colleague Frater Barrabbas has been, in advance of Paganicon 2023, guesting here at Temple of the Moon. He's a gifted guy (just wait 'til you see his forthcoming book on the inner mechanics of the Personifying priesthood: it's a stunner), and (inter alia) plays a mean flute, the throaty silver tones of which can literally lure the Horned from the woods. (I've seen it myself.)

Usually when making the morning and evening offerings before the altar, I sing, or hum, or make what composers call vocalise, and the Irish mouth music.

Now, one flute does not a temple orchestra make. Oh, but it sure beats humming.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

scattered shoes | Caseykate | caseykate | Flickr


You can tell you're entering a temple by the shoes.

Men's shoes, women's shoes. Adult shoes, children's shoes. Sandals, brogues, sneakers: even a few dress boots. All scattered, higgledy-piggledy, across the floor of the entryway. Metaphor meets reality: to reach the holy, you have to dodge the profane.

In a standing temple, the doorway would be lined with wooden shelves to hold the shoes, but this is a temporary temple: a Lutheran church lent (with a generosity and hospitality that I find, in this time of bitter division, deeply moving) to the local Hindus for their holiday celebration.

(Back in the old country, there would be a mosquito-cloud of shoe-wallahs hovering around the door: young boys who, for a small consideration, will guarantee that your shoes are still there waiting for you at your worship's end. Here in well-fed America—let us acknowledge the fact with all due gratitude— they're not needed.)

For some, taking off your shoes before you enter a holy place might be about cleanness and uncleanness—think “ritually fit” if that language makes you uncomfortable—but for me, it's a simple matter of touch. For me, a pagan—a guest at a sister community's celebration—Earth, the ground of all being, is also the source of all sanctity, and shoes come between us and her.

After the midnight worship, my friend and host—himself a temple member—retrieve, on our way out, the sandals that we'd earlier left in a corner.

(Having arrived early to help with set-up, we'd managed that prime stashing-place; we'd kicked them off because those fortunate enough to carry the god-images to the altar need to be barefoot. The pujari—priest—preceded the god each time, ringing tiny cymbals and chanting a praise-song as we went. Music accompanies gods wherever they go.)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    In general terms, bare feet as a religious practice seems to be more characteristic of Semitic-speaking, rather than Indo-European
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    God said, 'Come no nearer; take of your sandals; the place where you are standing is Holy ground.' Exodus 3:5 When did that cus

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 White House warns Russian invasion of Ukraine may be imminent


Gods, it's like watching a rape that I'm powerless to stop. I can't bring myself to look away, but the very act of looking seems in itself unclean, an act of complicity.

I feel like a war voyeur.

Putin's invasion of Ukraine has become a hideous kind of live entertainment as we watch it play out in real-time. Somehow my obsessive interest in what's happening seems to me prurient, ghoulish even. Something Nascar-ish is happening here: you don't really want wrecks, but the potential smell of blood has its own allure. In candor, the wrecks are the draw.

Well, war is interesting: a terrible truth, but a truth nonetheless. I think of the Iliad, the Mahabharata, the Táin, those culturally-foundational war epics. War is reality of the most extreme sort.

From the safety of somewhere else, I watch the suffering of others with fascinated horror. Try as I might, I feel myself in a state of perpetual uncleanness. How do I dare make offerings, do the sacred and necessary work, in such a state of mental impurity?

Yet the sacred work must still be done: without it, the world would fail. Better an imperfect offering than no offering at all. I turn off the radio, take a deep breath, wash my hands, and do my best to clear my mind as I enter the temple to make the morning offering.

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