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July 8th, 2004


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03:10 pm - New Essay
Just posted this to Dedicants, but I also want a broader, more personal set of responses to this essay:

Creating the Desire for Worship

Let me know what you think, please. I'd like to clean it up for Oak Leaves.
Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: "My Lovely Lady", -JB

(22 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:July 9th, 2004 05:26 am (UTC)
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it claims to be the only book of Pagan Prayer yet published

Is that from the back of the book? If so, Cei sometimes makes a point about how the back cover was written by the publisher, and he didn't have any say in it. The thing he thought was funniest, though, was the first phrase: "Steeped in tradition," as it certainly is not.

Here's a question, though: Are those other books centered on prayer? Do they fully describe how to write prayers, and do they analyze prayers of the ancients? Having not read them, but looking at your description ("contains an entire chapter on prayer") seems to indicate that they aren't prayer books.

Besides, Cei's book isn't a Druid take on prayer. Cei did extensive research on how Pagans have prayed throughout history, and wrote prayers specifically for several different types of Paganism (just look at all the "Great Goddess" prayers in there. I have a few of his notes (on a photocopied book he gave me) that include some Indo-Iranian stuff that turned into one of the prayers.

Actually, most people claim that it's "Too Wicca oriented."

As for the Celtic Devotional, I have that one, I think. It's terribly un-original, and it's all prayers from manuscripts, I think. Most of them are rather Christian, aren't they? I only skimmed it, because Caitlin Matthews bores me out of my skull when I read her. She's never said anything truly interesting or inspiring, at least I haven't thought so.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:July 10th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)

book(s) of pagan prayer

(Link)
Yeah, on the back cover it says, "As Serith writes, 'There are many books of rituals, but there never before has been a book on the most basic of Pagan practices: prayers and offerings.'"

But also the first sentence of the introduction says, "I hope this book is only the first in a long line of books of Pagan prayers, by one author or anthologies, that will come out of our religion as it grows."

I'm not sure about the other books nontacitare mentioned, but obviously the Matthews book (whether you like the book or not) is entirely centered on prayer. No, it's not analysis or how to write prayers, but that's not the claim in Serith's introduction to his book.

I've only skimmed a bit of it, but I see Serith's book as much more ADF than Wiccan because of the emphasis on offerings. Offerings, of course, are an important part of ADF but not really a part of Wicca.

I hear Karen pray from Matthews' book nearly every night (when I'm still awake), and none of it sounds Christian to me.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:July 13th, 2004 07:21 am (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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I see Serith's book as much more ADF than Wiccan because of the emphasis on offerings.

That's not an ADF thing; that's a religion thing. I've never, ever come across a religion that doesn't make offerings. Even Christians do. Of course, Cei is speaking about (almost) exclusively material offerings, but he never once mentions it as something ADF does. In fact, I believe that ADF is only mentioned in one place in the book: the back cover.

His arguments for why Pagans should make offerings are based on the idea that Paganism is not a religion based on belief, but based on actions. Right action is what endears us to the Gods, not belief. Part of that right action, according to him, is the idea that you should be hospitable and make offerings to the deities you invite, just as the ancients did.

For a quick read on this, pages 8 and 9 are of a section entitled "why offerings".

Cei sees this as a lack within Paganism, that we don't make offerings enough, and he states that we are very likely to have better relationships if we do.

But the book is about prayer, not offerings.

the Matthews book . . . is entirely centered on prayer.

Interesting, I'll have to pick it up.

From nontacitare's post:
"Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings," by Caitlin Matthews, published in 1996

(Now that I'm positive which Mathew's book we're talking about, since there are so many that are nearly *exactly* alike. . .) Actually, from what I understand, it went out of print between 1998 and early 2004, when it came back in. If that's true, then at the time of publish, Cei's could discount that one :)
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:July 13th, 2004 08:28 am (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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I've never, ever come across a religion that doesn't make offerings.

Like I said, as far as I've seen it's not really a big part of Wicca the way it is in ADF. (But then I'm neither, so I could have missed it.)

I believe that ADF is only mentioned in one place in the book: the back cover.

Sure, but he doesn't have to mention ADF for the belief system to be based on ADF teachings. (C.S. Lewis never mentions Jesus or Christianity in "The Lion, With Witch, And The Wardrobe", but that book is universally recognized as a very Christian book.) It's not a bad thing for the book to be based on ADF, but that's why someone outside ADF might see parts of it as outside their own belief system.

His arguments for why Pagans should make offerings are based on the idea that Paganism is not a religion based on belief, but based on actions. Right action is what endears us to the Gods, not belief. Part of that right action, according to him, is the idea that you should be hospitable and make offerings to the deities you invite, just as the ancients did.... Cei sees this as a lack within Paganism, that we don't make offerings enough, and he states that we are very likely to have better relationships if we do.

But the point is that all that comes directly from ADF belief. That's fine, but they don't necessarily mean as much to someone outside ADF.

Many Pagans don't care what the ancients did. Many Pagans aren't looking to endear themselves to the Gods, but just to coexist peacefully with them. Many Pagans base their Paganism on what they believe, not on what they do. Now maybe according to ADF these are bad pagans or just not getting all they could out of it, but ADF isn't the only measure of that.

Of course, there are lots of "Pagan" books out there whose points of view come straight from Wicca, containing beliefs that a Druid would find foreign. Everyone has their point of view.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:July 13th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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Sure, but he doesn't have to mention ADF for the belief system to be based on ADF teachings.

Interesting point: Cei has actually been one of the big players in ADF for a long time. He's been in for, I think, about 20 years. Rather than reflecting ADF teachings, the ADF teachings probably reflect him to some extent.

Many Pagans aren't looking to endear themselves to the Gods, but just to coexist peacefully with them.

Honestly, I fail to understand how such a relationship is even remotely fulfilling. No judgement on it, really, just a lack of understanding.

Many Pagans base their Paganism on what they believe, not on what they do.

If I believe in "harm none," but I don't act on that, that's okay? Christianity has "salvation through faith alone" (if you're Protestant), and that means, in the most simple sense, that no matter what you do, if you have faith, you don't need actions.

I think Pagans place their weight on actions and practices, rather than on beliefs.

Belief in the Gods is all well and good, but it doesn't build a relationship. What we do with and for the Gods does.

Now maybe according to ADF these are bad pagans or just not getting all they could out of it, but ADF isn't the only measure of that.

Nah. They just have a different path. ADF is far from perfect, and we have our share of bad Pagans, but we decide on those through their actions in relation to us, not through what they believe. After all, the number of Wiccans in ADF alone should show just how little we care what a person believes.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:July 13th, 2004 09:37 am (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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the ADF teachings probably reflect him to some extent.

Which makes "his writing shows an ADF worldview" almost a tautology.

Many Pagans base their Paganism on what they believe, not on what they do.

If I believe in "harm none," but I don't act on that, that's okay?

You're talking about ethics, which is separable from religion.

I'd argue (as a non-Wiccan) that "harm none" isn't the basis for Wicca, but rather the ethical component of it. (If that were the basis of Wicca I might be more willing to call myself Wiccan.) The basis (if I may be so bold as to state a generic basis of Wicca) is a worldview of male and female deity coming together to produce all that is part of the natural world, and that natural world being sacred. I'd argue that the latter belief is what generally defines Pagans.

I think Pagans place their weight on actions and practices, rather than on beliefs.

Some do. Some don't. Those who don't may (hopefully) still act ethically; that's a separate question.

If you're talking about actions and practices relating to other people in everyday life, then I consider that a question of ethics rather than religion. If you're talking about actions and practices relating to deities or spirits, that's religion, and that's where different Pagans may have very different emphasis about actions vs beliefs.

After all, the number of Wiccans in ADF alone should show just how little we care what a person believes.

How many Christians are in ADF? :-)
The basic belief systems in ADF and Wicca and other forms of neo-paganism are close enough that they are fairly compatible despite the occasional disagreement or misunderstanding. The belief system of Christianity is quite incompatible with that of pagans, as far as I can see, despite some efforts to reconcile them. On the other hand, the ethical systems of Paganism and Christianity can be quite compatible.
[User Picture]
From:nontacitare
Date:July 13th, 2004 11:45 pm (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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I think rfunk has been doing a very good job in this disussion, so I'll just clarify a bit about the Matthews book.

It's designed to be an inclusive Celtic prayer book, drawing inspiration from both Pagan Celtic mythology and Celtic Christianity. In the prayers, there is usually both a male and female deity, or deity as nature; however, Matthews does not name any specific deity, leaving that to the reader. This, understandably, might make it less than useful for those in ADF, where there is a strict concept of deities being separate individuals. Here is a sample prayer, for Lughnasadh:

"Lady of the Land, open the door,/Lord of the Forest, come you in.
Let there be welcome to the bountiful compassion,/ Let there be welcome to the Autumn of the Year.
In fruit and grain you are traveling,/ In ferment and bread you will arrive." There's more, but I don't want to annoy people with a long post.

For me, it's Pagan enough. I bought the book in 2000 for my mother, and then the following year for myself when I got tired of copying everything I found useful in my book of shadows. Recently, an expanded edition, with a lot of new material, was released.

I find that the Matthews book works best for my daily practice, and the Smith book for specific need or function-based prayers. They are both excellent books, in my opinion, but I understand they wouldn't work for everyone.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:July 14th, 2004 05:51 am (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

(Link)
I think rfunk has been doing a very good job in this disussion

Haha. You make it sound like a contest :)

This, understandably, might make it less than useful for those in ADF, where there is a strict concept of deities being separate individuals.

Well, if you're invoking the Wiccan God/dess pair, then it sounds like they're every bit as specific as an invocation to Esus would be. Remember, that divine pair is also a pair of individuals. Of course, depending on who you ask.

I bought the book in 2000 ... and then the following year

Where'd you get it? I was told it was out of print for a while, seriously.
[User Picture]
From:nontacitare
Date:July 14th, 2004 08:41 pm (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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Regarding rfunk, I just meant that he was doing a pretty good job of discussing two books he hasn't read and how they relate to two religions he doesn't practice. I'm very impressed. ;-)

I bought the Matthews book at Fly-by-Night; it could be that she had old copies on hand or something.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:July 14th, 2004 10:45 pm (UTC)

Re: book(s) of pagan prayer

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Hey wait a minute, I've at least skimmed the Serith book, and heard you read from the Matthews book for quite a while now.

And I've been to enough Wiccan and ADF rituals to see the differences between them, not to mention all my reading, though that's been more about Wicca than Druids.

Gee, talk about a backhanded compliment.... :-)

But hey, if it's not a contest after all, forget I said anything. ;-)

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