Modern Rites

In the past, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the validity of worshiping ancient gods with modern rites. I have wondered if it is right to take Them out of the framework of the culture where They first appeared and import them into a new land and honour Them with new rituals. I have wondered if this appropriation is disrespectful to both the gods and Their original culture.

I soon began to realize that often times we don’t have any real say over what gods call to us. And They are very aware that we are (most often) not of the culture where They were originally worshipped. And if this is okay with Them, shouldn’t it be okay with me? I’ve come to realize that the answer is “yes”, with a big qualifier.

Now, I know that a lot of people out there may say that I have no right telling another person how to honour their gods. Each of us has a personal relationship with the divine that no other person can truly understand. But, when it comes to throwing symbols together willy-nilly without regard for the historical worship of a deity, I start to get a little worked up. There is a lot of bad scholarship out there.

This brings me back to my early concern about not reproducing or honouring the original rites dedicated to a god. I have lately come to realize that this is not necessary. The gods know we live in different times, and because of this different actions will have the same meaning of us as those original actions had for their earlier worshipers. For example, a god who once called for the sacrifice of an animal as a way to show respect might now ask Their follower to sacrifice an item in their posession or a habit or the like. In each case, the devotee is giving up something that is important to them.

My thoughts on this are still a little fuzzy, but I am starting to get a clearer understand of how one worships and ancient god in a modern way.


3 Responses

  1. Serenity says:

    I completely agree with your post!!! I hope you continue this discussion, or post mor eon it, because I have always felt this way, but felt like the lone voice crying out in the desert to no avail.
    Great post!

  2. I agree, too. It’s not the ritual, it’s the relationship.
    (Glad to have found your blog. Looks interesting.)

  3. Bec says:

    I agree and find it really unfortunate that so few people both reading secular history and simply take the word of a badly informed Pagan author.

    Having said that, I’d also that even the ancients worshipped gods that belonged to different regions. This is why you have so many “versions” of Isis (for example) all over the world. As a group migrated they took their already existing religon and culture with them. Over time it all became intermingled, this seems to be what’s happening now, only now there really isn’t much rhyme or reason to it. (Some) People choose deities because they think the name sounds pretty.