Welcome to the latest in our on-going column, ev0king the Question. Here, we invite regular ev0ke contributors and guests to share their thoughts on a particular question. Sometimes, it will be silly. Sometimes, it will be serious. Sometimes, a little bit of both.
Below, find this month’s question, and answers from Pagans and polytheists from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. Do you have thoughts of your own? If so, please feel free to share them below.
The Question: If you could revive one ancient practice relating to the Gods, what would it be?
[Rebecca Buchanan, author and regular contributor to ev0ke]
My answer to this question is — perhaps unexpectedly — no. To my knowledge, virtually every ancient practice (or at least all that have survived in the written and archaeological records) has been revived, at least to an extent. We have priests and priestesses and other dedicants. We have sacred sites: public temples, private temples, personal shrines. We have oracles and seers we can consult. We have festivals to attend.
What I do wish, though, is that there was more of all of that — dedicated holy people, sacred sites, oracles, festivals — and that it was more accepted and respected by mainstream society. I know plenty of Pagans, polytheists, and witches who have to lie to their employer about why they want a particular day or week off, as it’s not safe to admit “I’m celebrating the Summer Solstice” or “I’m attending a witchcraft retreat.”
[Ashley Nicole Hunter is the founder of ev0ke.]
There’s something to be said about sharing a communal meal, and even more so when the animals being served lead good lives and met a gentle end. If I could revive one ancient practice related to the gods, it would be the raising, ritual sacrifice, offering of, and devouring of sacred animals. So much of the meat we consume today came from animals that lived in appalling conditions and which were slaughtered while terrified…all of which seems less than ideal if we’re honoring the animal and our gods. I would love to see the lives of the animals respected more by having specially raised creatures treated with all the respect and gentle love we associate with the raising of prime Wagyu beef. Even if those cows aren’t actually massaged and serenaded, why would we not give that kind of devotion to a special animal that we offer up in sacrifice to the gods and share the meat of amongst our community?
[Sheldon Slinkard is an author and the public relations manager of ev0ke]
In the course of human history, ancient pagan societies cultivated a deep connection with nature and the spiritual realm through communal rituals. These practices were not only religious in nature but also served as a means to celebrate, unify, and foster a sense of belonging. Reviving the ancient pagan practice of communal rituals in our modern world holds immense potential for individuals seeking a deeper connection with nature, community, and the divine.
Ancient pagan practices were deeply rooted in reverence for the natural world. Reviving communal rituals provides an opportunity to reconnect with the wisdom of nature and regain a sense of ecological harmony. By honoring the cycles of the seasons, celestial events, and the elements, we can cultivate a renewed appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living beings and our responsibility as stewards of the Earth.
In our increasingly individualistic society, communal rituals offer a powerful antidote by promoting a sense of community and shared experience. Ancient pagan societies understood the value of coming together to celebrate and honor their beliefs. Reviving communal rituals can strengthen bonds among individuals, fostering a sense of belonging and unity. These rituals create spaces where people can connect, support one another, and find solace in a shared spiritual journey.
The ancient pagan world embraced a diverse array of beliefs and practices, often adapting to local customs and regional deities. Reviving communal rituals can celebrate this diversity, promoting inclusivity and respect for different spiritual paths. By welcoming individuals from various backgrounds, we can create a space that embraces the richness of human experience and fosters a spirit of acceptance and understanding.
In a world where institutionalized religions often dominate the spiritual landscape, reviving ancient pagan communal rituals provides an alternative for individuals seeking a more personal and experiential connection with the divine. These rituals encourage individuals to explore their own spirituality, connect with their inner selves, and forge a direct relationship with the sacred. By reviving these practices, we open avenues for personal growth, self-discovery, and a deeper understanding of our place in the universe.
Ancient pagan communal rituals were replete with symbolism, imbuing each action with meaning and intention. Reviving these practices allows us to rediscover the power of ritual and symbolism in our lives. By engaging in communal ceremonies, we tap into the transformative potential of ritualistic acts, creating space for introspection, healing, and personal transformation.
Reviving the ancient pagan practice of communal rituals is an opportunity to reconnect with our shared human heritage, embrace the wisdom of nature, foster community, celebrate diversity, and deepen our personal spirituality. These rituals provide a way to harmonize our modern lives with the timeless rhythms of the natural world and to find solace, meaning, and connection in a rapidly changing world. By reviving these ancient practices, we can reawaken a profound sense of wonder, reverence, and harmony that has the power to transform both individuals and society at large.
If you would like to research more about Ancient Practices here are a few references:
1. “The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion” by James George Frazer
2. “Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice” edited by Jennifer Larson
3. “Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide” edited by Sarah Iles Johnston
4. “The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners” by Margaret Visser
5. “The Sacred and the Feminine in Ancient Greece” edited by Sue Blundell and Margaret Williamson
6. “Greek Religion” by Walter Burkert
7. “The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook of Sacred Texts” edited by Marvin W. Meyer
8. “The Cults of the Roman Empire” by Robert Turcan
9. “Religions of Rome: A History” by Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price
10. “The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy” by Ronald Hutton
These references delve into the rituals and religious practices of various ancient pagan cultures, such as Greece, Rome, and the British Isles. They explore topics such as sacrifice, sacred texts, mystery cults, and the role of the feminine in ancient pagan rituals. These works provide valuable insights into the beliefs, customs, and communal celebrations of ancient pagan communities.