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Author Topic: Pagan ritual in sedar format  (Read 7509 times)
sailor_tech
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« Topic Start: December 30, 2009, 08:39:11 pm »

This is from "Being different from other religions" http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=10944.msg188187#msg188187

In simple form, yes, it's a ritualized meal with symbolic foods and actions that relates an important piece of Jewish history/myth to the next generation.

When I wanted to create a pagan ritual based upon the sedar format I got variations of:
- Samhain meal for the dead where a plate / meal is left out for the dead. objection is that there is no real ritual built around the people eating a meal.

- do some ritual, then break for a meal and then continue the ritual. foods would be tied to the season (depending upon how you look at the foods). again, it was a meal between parts of the ritual, not a meal

- mostly suggestions of foods to eat after a ritual where the foods had some connection with the holiday / season.
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« Reply #1: December 30, 2009, 08:59:01 pm »

This is from "Being different from other religions" http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=10944.msg188187#msg188187

In simple form, yes, it's a ritualized meal with symbolic foods and actions that relates an important piece of Jewish history/myth to the next generation.

I wasn't sure; I go to Passover Seder every year with a Jewish family I'm close with, and it's led by the rabbi in the family, but all I know about it is from my own participation and observation. I don't even know what kind of Jews they are- only the rabbi and his wife keep kosher, f'ex. And the songs are some strange ones (Christmas tunes, Beatles' tunes... all sorts of stuff.)

When I wanted to create a pagan ritual based upon the sedar format I got variations of:
- Samhain meal for the dead where a plate / meal is left out for the dead. objection is that there is no real ritual built around the people eating a meal.

I don't see why they'd object; food for the dead is a long standing tradition, and feasts were always part of major Celtic rituals.

- do some ritual, then break for a meal and then continue the ritual. foods would be tied to the season (depending upon how you look at the foods). again, it was a meal between parts of the ritual, not a meal

This I can understand a little more- I think it would be jarring to take a break to eat in the middle of the ritual, but I'm also coming at that with the visual of doing ritual around/at the altar, then go inside to have a bite, then go back outside... when it's integrated like it is for the seder, though, it flows pretty smoothly.

At any rate, I'm really glad you brought this up- Passover is one of my favorite times of year, and it never occurred to me to do a seder-like ritual in my own path.
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« Reply #2: December 30, 2009, 09:18:12 pm »

In simple form, yes, it's a ritualized meal with symbolic foods and actions that relates an important piece of Jewish history/myth to the next generation.

I don't see why such a ritualized meal could not work for many Pagan religions. If nothing else, one might be able to retell a myth with food served at appropriate symbolic times. For example, a Greek myth might have food related to the deities and places invoked served as they come up in the myth.
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« Reply #3: December 30, 2009, 09:38:19 pm »

I wasn't sure; I go to Passover Seder every year with a Jewish family I'm close with, and it's led by the rabbi in the family, but all I know about it is from my own participation and observation. I don't even know what kind of Jews they are- only the rabbi and his wife keep kosher, f'ex. And the songs are some strange ones (Christmas tunes, Beatles' tunes... all sorts of stuff.)

I don't see why they'd object; food for the dead is a long standing tradition, and feasts were always part of major Celtic rituals.

This I can understand a little more- I think it would be jarring to take a break to eat in the middle of the ritual, but I'm also coming at that with the visual of doing ritual around/at the altar, then go inside to have a bite, then go back outside... when it's integrated like it is for the seder, though, it flows pretty smoothly.

At any rate, I'm really glad you brought this up- Passover is one of my favorite times of year, and it never occurred to me to do a seder-like ritual in my own path.

The objections were mine. And were that they were not even close to the sedar format.

I agree that it's jarring to take a break, although at least some ideas were to eat the meal within the circle. Turning cakes and ale into a full meal doesn't really add to the ritual in my opinion, nor is it similar to a sedar.
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« Reply #4: December 30, 2009, 09:41:49 pm »

I don't see why such a ritualized meal could not work for many Pagan religions. If nothing else, one might be able to retell a myth with food served at appropriate symbolic times. For example, a Greek myth might have food related to the deities and places invoked served as they come up in the myth.

It should be able to work, but you have to think of it as an integrated whole.

On a Greek note, you might re-create the Odessy, with a different type of dish for each major event and reading each major event before / during the serving eating. So lamb for the cyclops, pig for Circe, etc.
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« Reply #5: December 30, 2009, 09:49:20 pm »

The objections were mine. And were that they were not even close to the sedar format.

I agree that it's jarring to take a break, although at least some ideas were to eat the meal within the circle. Turning cakes and ale into a full meal doesn't really add to the ritual in my opinion, nor is it similar to a sedar.

Ah, I understand. And I agree. Simply leaving food for the dead, coupled with a Samhain rite, does not a seder make.
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« Reply #6: December 30, 2009, 09:55:39 pm »

- do some ritual, then break for a meal and then continue the ritual. foods would be tied to the season (depending upon how you look at the foods). again, it was a meal between parts of the ritual, not a meal

We did something like this for Lammas a couple of years ago but with a bit better integration: we started with the ingredients for bread, had everyone pass them around, touch them, smell them, etc. then mixed them. While the bread was rising, we divided people into roughly random groups (but making sure that each group had at least one person with extensive experience who'd be able to help guide things along [1]) and had them draw slips of myths and stories related to the ingredients.

The ones I remember:
- The folktale about love being better than salt, rather than honey. (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/salt.html has variations)
- A simplified retelling of one of the theories of the discovery of bread rising due to yeast (it being near a window that overlooked a brewery)
- a simple version of the sun and the moon and how they switch places
- Demeter teaching Triptolemus the principles of agriculture while searching for Persephone.
and several others I forget at the moment, and am not finding my notes for right now: I think we started with 8 options, and had 5 groups. (We drew mostly from Greek and Egyptian myth, because of the group's ongoing work with those pantheons.)

We gathered a bunch of simple props: construction paper, tape, scissors, miscellanous pieces of fabric, cloaks, tabards, etc. that the group had handy anyway, a few boxes for set design, and let people go to it for 45 minutes to plan, then brought them back to deflate the bread and let it rise again, and then acted things out during the second rise. We then baked it, and had food in ritual and then closed everything down, and went on to do more snacking on the non-ritual food items people brought for after. If I did it again (and I'd like to, once I figure out a format that works for a smaller group), I'd like to do the entire feast in ritual, and have people bring things that can go on the bread.

We had a *blast* with them - and people did everything from skits to puppet shows to incorporating the household dogs, and even the people who normally dislike being asked to be creative had fun, because it was a combined group effort.

One thing I'd also consider is if there's anyone in the group who has food allergies that would affect something like this: a Passover Seder happens to avoid a lot of the common ones or it's easy to give up one item if you have to and still enjoy the food and the process. We knew the group didn't have anyone who needed to avoid gluten at the time: if we did, I'd either consider two loaves (one with wheat flour, and one with gluten-free options), or I'd look at having a gluten-free option (nut-based crackers, for example) for them to eat everything else on. Which one I picked would depend a lot on the specifics of the group, and exactly how gluten-avoidant they felt they had to be, since I know people's tolerances vary a lot: 'not in the same room with' requires a different approach than 'I can eat a token bite just fine, but need to put my cheese, etc. on gluten free options.')  

[1] The way we do this, in case it's useful, is to have a bunch of different colors of yarn/embroidery floss to represent the groups - say, red, yellow, blue, and green. Go around to the group elders and experienced initiates first, with just enough pieces for them (in a range of colors, and there may be overlaps if you've got, say, 6 people with extensive experience and 4 groups). Then go around again for people with some experience, but who probably wouldn't be comfortable nudging a group along into a plan if they had to do it on their own (for us, this would be recent initiates, and people nearing potential initiation). And then finally go around for newer students and guests. (Experienced guests, like the HP's husband who visits for Sabbats fairly regularly, get treated by their level of experience, but usually with someone else from the group in their small group.)

It does a good job of making fairly random groups, without having all the experienced folk clustered together or a group of people who are nervous enough to be unsure about taking a few creative risks.
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« Reply #7: December 30, 2009, 10:09:40 pm »

We did something like this for Lammas a couple of years ago but with a bit better integration: we started with the ingredients for bread, had everyone pass them around, touch them, smell them, etc. then mixed them. While the bread was rising, we divided people into roughly random groups (but making sure that each group had at least one person with extensive experience who'd be able to help guide things along [1]) and had them draw slips of myths and stories related to the ingredients.

The ones I remember:
- The folktale about love being better than salt, rather than honey. (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/salt.html has variations)
- A simplified retelling of one of the theories of the discovery of bread rising due to yeast (it being near a window that overlooked a brewery)
- a simple version of the sun and the moon and how they switch places
- Demeter teaching Triptolemus the principles of agriculture while searching for Persephone.
and several others I forget at the moment, and am not finding my notes for right now: I think we started with 8 options, and had 5 groups. (We drew mostly from Greek and Egyptian myth, because of the group's ongoing work with those pantheons.)

(snip)
One thing I'd also consider is if there's anyone in the group who has food allergies that would affect something like this: a Passover Seder happens to avoid a lot of the common ones or it's easy to give up one item if you have to and still enjoy the food and the process.

Except gluten. Can't have a Passover sedar without matzos which is made from flour (wheat, rye, etc). While particpation of eating matzos could be skipped, you'd have it on the table and in the house.
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« Reply #8: December 30, 2009, 11:11:53 pm »

Ah, I understand. And I agree. Simply leaving food for the dead, coupled with a Samhain rite, does not a seder make.


When we did the samhain thing, we did a full dumb supper.  BUt we talked about it, the purpose of it, and so on, after setting it up, setting up the circle and so on. 
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« Reply #9: December 31, 2009, 08:19:37 am »

On a Greek note, you might re-create the Odessy, with a different type of dish for each major event and reading each major event before / during the serving eating. So lamb for the cyclops, pig for Circe, etc.

I really don't see why something like this could not work in most Pagan religions.
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« Reply #10: December 31, 2009, 11:39:49 am »

I really don't see why something like this could not work in most Pagan religions.

It could, but you have to have the concept of what a sedar is instead of a dumb supper, or feast after a ritual, etc.
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« Reply #11: December 31, 2009, 10:17:36 pm »

It could, but you have to have the concept of what a sedar is instead of a dumb supper, or feast after a ritual, etc.

well, it's kinda hard to have the talking, questioning and explaining of a dumb supper in the middle of it, since you are supposed to be silent during it.  However, one could do ritualized questioning and explaining of it after the circle was cast, but before the actual silent part started.I get that an important part of the Seder is the ritualized questions and answers.
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« Reply #12: January 01, 2010, 01:10:31 am »

I get that an important part of the Seder is the ritualized questions and answers.

Well, sort of. It's prayers, questions & answers built around a meal. There are only 4 questions anyways.

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« Reply #13: January 01, 2010, 01:43:53 pm »

Well, sort of. It's prayers, questions & answers built around a meal. There are only 4 questions anyways.



right, so you could do a dumb supper that way.  BUild in questions, prayers and ritual around the dumb supper. Just not during the actual serving and eating part of it.
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« Reply #14: January 01, 2010, 02:28:04 pm »

right, so you could do a dumb supper that way.  BUild in questions, prayers and ritual around the dumb supper. Just not during the actual serving and eating part of it.

Yes, probably.
Maybe you could ask a question around why each piece of food is put out as it's put on the plate.
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