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Author Topic: Ancestor Worship in Modern Society  (Read 22746 times)
Hyacinth Belle
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« Reply #15: January 29, 2010, 06:53:37 pm »

If you ever get a chance to see Colonial Williamsburg or any other sort of historical reenactment site, I'd definitely recommend going. While I'm not about to suggest that the people involved with CW or other sites consider themselves involved with "worship," I do think there's a strong respect and connection to the past. If anything, if one approaches learning as a sacred task, I'd definitely say that brushing up on history could be considered a form of ancestor worship. Maybe not in a strictly Heathen/whatever context, though.
OMG, I *love* Colonial Williamsburg!!! Cheesy I went there on an extended field trip in middle school and have been wanting to go back ever since. We also went to Jamestown.

I really love living history museums; there's a local Civil War living history farm near me that I've been to a few times and it is so neat. And Gettysburg is not that terribly far from me.

I agree it puts you in a certain mindset conducive to honoring ancestors. Smiley
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15

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Hyacinth Belle
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« Reply #16: January 29, 2010, 07:00:47 pm »

Fostering is well in evidence in the lore, and I wouldn't be surprised if some element of the family luck isn't passed down to its foster children aswell as it's biological children. I think our obsession with the biological element is partly due to our modern understanding of genetics and is not necessarily relevant to the descent of the familial luck. I'm talking (writing?) speculatively now though so don't ask for supporting lore!  Tongue
Interesting thought about how our modern understanding of genetics could impact what makes  "family."

And you bring up another point I might have thought to include in my initial post: What, if any, do you consider to be the role of family wyrd or frith? I'm honestly not sure of my stand on that... I think I could see it argued both ways.
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #17: January 29, 2010, 08:10:53 pm »

The idea of ancestors, disir, alfar, etc. is something I have always somewhat struggled with.
~ Why do you honor the Ancestors (big A or little a)? If you don't, why not?

I honor the ancestors because what they did gave us a foundation to build upon.  In a Heathen book I've read stated that the family luck is inherited through the family line and what one does will effect that familial, communal luck and the descendants of that line.  Also if I'm not mistaken, we can be reborn as our descendants.  We are our ancestors in more ways than one. 

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~ How do you honor them?

I pour libations of water to them. 

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~ Do you think modern, capitalist culture inhibits one's connection to the Ancestors?

I'm a mutt.  I feel that I don't have a cultural heritage.  Capitalist culture definitely inhibits ancestor veneration. 

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~ What about people who are adopted? What Ancestors would they worship and why?

People can adopt someone into a tribe and into a family.  My view is adopted people have two sets of ancestors--one blood related, one adopted. 

I also would like to point out that the ancestors are more than just people we know about, they go back to the beginning.  There are blood ties, adopted ties, marriage ties and other relationships we don't know about.  So to cover everyone, I just say "Hail the ancestors, known and unknown, named and unnamed" or something like that.  I also honor Frigga and the Disir/Mothers on Mothers' Night.
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« Reply #18: January 29, 2010, 10:07:56 pm »

What do you find is the difference? I mean, I see there would be a difference, but I'm curious as to what exactly that might be.
Exactly.

When I honor my ancestors, I study genealogy, and remember them actively. I use things they have taught me, like my grandma's recipes. Largely it's respectful, fond memories and thoughts. I don't really leave offerings, though I could see burning incense for them.

When I honor and worship my deities I thank them for the good things in life, crediting them for the ability to influence how things turn out, and lead me where I need to end up. I pour libations and ask for their blessings, or for help with things, or protection, whichever is needed at the time. 

I think a lot of the difference is scale. I don't view my ancestors as having active control of my life now. Which I don't think matches the Heathen worldview, but I'm still new to that perspective Smiley  Again, I'm also really stuck on the fact that my ancestors were Christian, but I would like to get more in tune with my Ancestors.
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« Reply #19: January 29, 2010, 10:32:11 pm »

Again, I'm also really stuck on the fact that my ancestors were Christian, but I would like to get more in tune with my Ancestors.

What about the ancestors before there was Christianity? 
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« Reply #20: January 30, 2010, 03:19:28 am »

And you bring up another point I might have thought to include in my initial post: What, if any, do you consider to be the role of family wyrd or frith? I'm honestly not sure of my stand on that... I think I could see it argued both ways.
I don't understand it well enough yet to really comment, though I think the term is Orlog? Frith isn't the inherited luck - it's a quality a bit like peace but more complicated, AFAIK. What do you mean by argued both ways?
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« Reply #21: January 30, 2010, 03:51:08 am »

I don't understand it well enough yet to really comment, though I think the term is Orlog? Frith isn't the inherited luck - it's a quality a bit like peace but more complicated, AFAIK. What do you mean by argued both ways?
Couple of AL threads that might help here:
A short thread including a succinct definition of orlog, wyrd and the difference: http://www.asatrulore.org/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=2424&highlight=orlog
A thread on kin-frith which also includes discussion of family orlog, more relevant to current family relations than ancestral ones, but interesting nonetheless:
http://www.asatrulore.org/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=4706&highlight=orlog
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My new blog: Maytheweed's Words

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« Reply #22: January 30, 2010, 09:23:57 am »

What about the ancestors before there was Christianity? 

Oops, I should have clarified, that was the 'Ancestors' (ancient historical) vs 'ancestors' (recent), and I would like to get more in tune with my ancient Ancestors, I just need to take some time to focus on that area of my practice and learn more about that aspect of Heathenism and other branches of Polytheism/Paganism...
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« Reply #23: January 30, 2010, 12:09:46 pm »


Chiming in as a non-heathen, so take my opinion as you will Cheesy

I don't know much about my family line. Apparently there's a family tree on both sides that are floating around, but I've been unable to get my hands on them so far. Neither my father's side nor my mother's side is terribly concerned with the idea of family or ancestry; my step-father's side is unhealthily concerned with immediate family, but anyone outside that circle is irrelevant. So I don't have a lot to work with. On top of that, I'm a mutt- I can't count on two hands the number of countries that my ancestors have come from, there's just too many of them. And while I have no doubt that many, if not all, of them have been Christian for a very long time, I have no idea what kind of Christian. I don't have family heritage, I don't have cultural heritage.

Knowing that, I still wanted to honor my ancestors (and Ancestors Smiley) as it's an important aspect of both Celtic and Kemetic paganism (though in different ways). So I honor my Beloved Dead, who are the family members and friends that I personally knew in this life, as well as the Forgotten Dead, whose names and lives have been lost to me. I don't deny that my interaction with the Beloved Dead is much more intimate and meaningful for me than my Forgotten Dead, but those forgotten still influenced my life in ways I cannot really know, and they deserve my attention.

I honor my Beloved Dead primarily by offerings of flame; as all of them were Christian of some variety, I don't think they would be offended by my lighting a candle in their memory. Also, on their birth and death days, I do things that are specific to them and their memory. My practice involving the Forgotten Dead is more nebulous; I study history, and I try to learn more about them based on the little I know (mostly locational- where they came from and where they went). I have some ideas for improving/increasing my involvement with both, but I haven't decided on anything just yet.

I do think that modern society makes it harder. We're taught that the important place to focus is the present, and the future; the past plays little role in the lives of most people I know. When something bad or unpleasant happens, we're supposed to move on as fast as we can and not look back. The past is seen as obsolete, with nothing to teach us except to be amused at the quaintness of life without a particular gadget or technology.
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« Reply #24: January 30, 2010, 01:57:44 pm »

Couple of AL threads that might help here:
A short thread including a succinct definition of orlog, wyrd and the difference: http://www.asatrulore.org/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=2424&highlight=orlog
A thread on kin-frith which also includes discussion of family orlog, more relevant to current family relations than ancestral ones, but interesting nonetheless:
http://www.asatrulore.org/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=4706&highlight=orlog

Thanks for these... very helpful!
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« Reply #25: January 30, 2010, 03:31:48 pm »

I don't understand it well enough yet to really comment, though I think the term is Orlog? Frith isn't the inherited luck - it's a quality a bit like peace but more complicated, AFAIK. What do you mean by argued both ways?
Ah, my mistake on wyrd vs. orlog; thank you! But I think I meant frith when I said it. And I'm honestly not sure what I meant about arguing both ways...  Embarrassed wth.

Forgive my incoherency!
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #26: January 30, 2010, 03:37:58 pm »

I honor my Beloved Dead primarily by offerings of flame; as all of them were Christian of some variety, I don't think they would be offended by my lighting a candle in their memory. Also, on their birth and death days, I do things that are specific to them and their memory. My practice involving the Forgotten Dead is more nebulous; I study history, and I try to learn more about them based on the little I know (mostly locational- where they came from and where they went). I have some ideas for improving/increasing my involvement with both, but I haven't decided on anything just yet.
I don't know the birth or death days of any recently deceased relatives, but I think your ideas on that are great!

Quote
I do think that modern society makes it harder. We're taught that the important place to focus is the present, and the future; the past plays little role in the lives of most people I know. When something bad or unpleasant happens, we're supposed to move on as fast as we can and not look back. The past is seen as obsolete, with nothing to teach us except to be amused at the quaintness of life without a particular gadget or technology.
This reminds me of something I learned in an anthropology course. When you ask most Americans where they associate themselves in relation to time, it's always "facing ahead to the future." By contrast, in a lot of Asian countries (I think the survey was with China), they'll say they are always looking back toward the past. I think that's so interesting, and this attitude I thought was beautifully rendered in that astounding opening ceremony at the Bejing Olympics'.

Another interesting comparison I remember: the saying "The squeaky wheel gets oiled" vs. "The nail that stands up gets hammered down." Anyway, I digress!
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #27: January 30, 2010, 05:38:20 pm »

Knowing that, I still wanted to honor my ancestors (and Ancestors Smiley) as it's an important aspect of both Celtic and Kemetic paganism (though in different ways). So I honor my Beloved Dead, who are the family members and friends that I personally knew in this life.

In a more abstract view, I think history is very important, especially since it's so disregarded in America. Knowing who we are as a country, (and as a state) what's made us that way, and what we're doing now is more important to me than knowing who my blood family was.

Unless learning history is a form of ancestor worship, I don't practice it.

Also not a heathen.  Wink

Yanking both quotes because both contributed to the lightbulb:

I've never really had an interest in ancestor worship, and despite my knowledge that Celtic paganism relied heavily on it, I've only had a little bit of worry over not honoring them. Like many here, I only know so far back into my family tree, and all of them would probably glare at me sternly and tell me to get back to church if I was to try to do something for them.  Tongue

But if I think about it, in terms of Juni's "Beloved Dead", I kind of do honor my ancestors. I honor one of my spiritual/cultural ancestors, JRR Tolkien, when I drink a toast on Tolkien's birthday every year, and on September 22 (LotR geeks will know what day that is). I also say prayers for two deceased friends on Samhain every year.

And if I take Cyndaquil's observation about learning history as a form of ancestor worship, then I've been worshipping ancestors from several great eras whenever I study history from all the times I am fascinated with: medieval and Renaissance literature, and even steampunk (and the 19th century reality that influences it). I honor their contributions to culture, their knowledge and wisdom. And I suppose that's the whole point of honoring your ancestors in the first place.


I'm not sure why I'm posting this, as it's just a realization I've had, and possibly an amelioration of my own lack of ancestor worship.  Wink
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« Reply #28: January 30, 2010, 05:58:03 pm »

Ah, my mistake on wyrd vs. orlog; thank you! But I think I meant frith when I said it. And I'm honestly not sure what I meant about arguing both ways...  Embarrassed wth.

Forgive my incoherency!

I believe Hamingja is the term for family luck.  Someone please correct me if I am mistaken. 
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« Reply #29: January 30, 2010, 08:37:42 pm »

I believe Hamingja is the term for family luck.  Someone please correct me if I am mistaken. 
So what do you think that should be exchanged with?

When I originally said frith I didn't mean "inherited luck," I meant... well, frith. Or what I suppose you could classify as specifically "family frith." Is there a better term for "family frith"? I don't claim to be very familiar with the concepts of either orlog or hamingja, but from what I can quickly glean they're not quite what I meant; they seem to have more to do with wyrd.

I'm sorry if I'm only increasing confusion. ha. Help?
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15

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