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Thread: Reviving Old Rituals Vs. Developing New Ones

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wynterwade View Post
    Watch this episode "Is There a Creator" from the TV series "Inside the Wormhole" and start at 21 minutes into the video. Click on part two and watch the beginning of that. It explains the biological part of the brain that lets us feel the god feeling.

    I've only felt the feeling once when I was little the day I decided I wanted to be baptized and said the lords prayer with a group of religious leaders. You really have to believe that what you're doing is sacred and it helps if you're in a group preforming the ritual. I'm not sure I'm able to feel it again because my belief isn't there anymore.

    Is There a Creator
    Actually, you did post the second part and thank you. Prosit.


  2. #32
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    (Yes, blatant thread revival)

    Unfortunately we are left, to a great degree, to 'make it up as we go along'. We can cite this or that source as inspiration, but we have little we can point to and say definitively THIS is how it's done (as opposed to, say, the established Catholic order of worship and such). We can draw on a basic mythology/ cosmology/ theology and such, but beyond that in a broad sense we ARE making it up as we go in an attempt to revive (and in some more learned circles, reconstruct) a religious world-view that hasn't been active for a thousand years or better.

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    Senior Member Skärmträl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johan the Blind View Post
    (Yes, blatant thread revival)
    Much appreciated by any of us who weren't here from the start.

    I'll dig in as well because I think the original poster's perspective may need some comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by Feyn View Post
    when i see neopagans I often see that they try to revive old rituals they have found in all kinds of old texts. They try to follow it to the letter, only when parts are unknown they develop something new. Sorry for being so blunt, but i think thats nonsense. Often they dont know why they are doing certain things , but they do them anyway, because our ancestors did them. I think that doesnt make sense.
    Rituals are symbolic and have meaning, if you just mimic the rituals without understanding why it is done this way and what the runes, the movements, the dances mean your tiuals itself is meaningless. Much more important then the act itself is what is behing this act. The reasons you do certain things the way you do them.
    There is reason to believe that pagan rituals did not have very deep meanings or symbolism to them at all.

    We like to think that the rituals of the ancient past were conjured by some elders who put deep thought into what the rituals were meant to represent. But that's likely to be us projecting our modern way of thinking onto these old practices. The inclination to analyze an object, behavior or phenomenon and explore what's "underneath" or "behind" it (possibly to find its utility) is a very modern thing to do.

    Ancient, organically developed religions without an identifiable originator seem to evolve from very simple snippets of ideas, much like an internet meme: after a few generations it's hard to trace its origins and its original meaning is no longer very relevant. It's just a random memetic nugget that entices our brains for one reason or another. And so it develops through copying and little mutations are added or removed as centuries go by.

    The point is that it's not unlikely that even our ancestors didn't know what their rituals really "meant", that they copied them to posterity exactly because "our ancestors did them".

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    It's on us, then, to forge a few 'new traditions' in our practice (or lack of, as the case may be). The problem, though, is that we- as a community- are so sparse and focused on individual interpretations that MY new tradition is very likely to be very different from YOUR new tradition and if we're not careful we'll run into that same old Grendel of "You're doing it wrong!" which helps no one. But even if we worked together to hammer out some sure-fire basic beliefs and rituals and such, we're never going to get anywhere as a larger community unless we have numbers and some sort of organization on our side. Without the numbers (as Islam has, but lacks organization) or organization (as does Christianity, but with dwindling numbers) we will be forced to remain on the fringes of religious society.

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    A formulation for "deity" must precede everything else in a religious reform.

    The undesirable way is to emulate the Christians, putting god on a distant pedestal and showering him with lofty meaningless expressions and titles. They say there is one god and that he is infinite, supreme, eternal, everlasting, incorporeal, etc. Joseph Smith put it best: "The simple doctrine of the Christian Godhead, set forth in the New Testament is corrupted by the meaningless jargon of these creeds, and their explanations."

    The easiest way to deal with this question without impiety is to adopt the muslim/agnostic/deist position. They do not deign to define "god" and demonstrate better judgment in this affair.

    But the hardest way will require an unprecedented formulation. But who is up to the task? Whatever one may think of Hitler, he has a point here.

    "It’s impossible to escape the problem of God... We must have something perfect both in thought and in form." - Hitler's Table Talk, Jan. 1-2, 1942

    It must be inspiring, of course. It shouldn't be an essay or a wall of text (which I personally prefer), the people's natural instinct for beauty must be appealed to and cultivated. Imagery can help with that. Phrases like Ultimate Reality, Absolute Truth, Sublime Source, etc. have no effect on the human consciousness. These are just the maxims of confused philosophers who make Spinoza look like a saint in comparison.

    Rituals and rites performed without emotional and mental impact will be dead religion.

    If all are gods, we must begin to distinguish between different kinds of gods and also acknowledge a hierarchy among the gods.

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    Regarding rites and rituals, I agree that they should be meaningful and relevant; without a personal connection you're simply going through the motions.

    As for the gods themselves (noted in your last sentence) the only distinction I deign to make is between my gods and the god(s) of others. I do not claim that the Christian/Muslim/Jewish god- or those of the Hindus or others- is false, only that their gods are not mine.

    It is, though, a pet theory of mine that the power of a god or gods is derived from the strength of their followers. The ancient Egyptian god Ra, for example, has little power as there are few- if any- of his worshipers remaining. The Abrahamic god, on the other hand, currently enjoys great power. The Old Gods- our gods- are for the time being less powerful, but not so much as one might think due to the strength of faith in their followers. To put it in other terms, a god may have 100 followers but of a so-so level of faith- while another god may have only a handful of followers but is much more powerful because those few followers are far more devout than those hundred whose faith is wavering. While realizing that my gods may not be the biggest kid on the block today, I'm sticking with them secure in the knowledge that if I stay with them they will stay with me in the end.

    As they say, you have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

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