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What are Hearth Cultures and Pantheons?
Submitted by Pfenix on Mon, 2012-02-06 10:48
When you’ve decided to follow a path and begun acquiring ritual tools, meditation, spiritual awareness, etc, it’s time to start directing that energy to finding the beings to whom we wish to worship and ally ourselves. Through the relationship and contact of other realm powers (gods, goddesses, ancestors, and spirits), more specific and direct spiritual work is possible.
This may be identified as the heritage or culture that makes up part of who you are. We all have a familial culture be it from another country or from here in America. American culture is a mixture of aspects of all cultures that have settled here blurring them together to become an eclectic blend that also developed its own identity with the type of people and country America has become in the last 200 years. As the generations of an immigrant remain in a place, the origin culture diminishes by assimilation, marriage, or choice.
Example: Compare the cultures of an immigrant family from a country and that of people of the same heritage that have been here for generations. They are vastly different. Or compare a bi-cultural marriage: often one becomes dominate in the home (generally that of the mother) or they merge or are abandoned for something else.
Culture is influenced and maintained through traditions, people, experiences, trials, art, music, and language. As we come from different heritage, many seek to reconnect with the hearth of our ancestors. Identifying this hearth heritage and culture will help in personal ritual, spiritual practice and relationships, and discovering ancestors, pantheons and allies.
ADF seeks to rebuild polytheistic religious practices for modern people. It views the gods and goddesses as independent, self-existent beings with whom we share the worlds. They are not examples in allegory, a collective consciousness or aspects, faces of one great Divine—being or that of one god and one goddess. They are individuals with personalities and character.
A “pantheon” is a word describing the set of all the gods of a particular religion or mythology (meaning religious lore not made-up stories). Something that is constant in tradition and history in all cultures is that of Hearth practice—the construction of a personal pantheon (in addition to the common pantheon to a wider people group) of gods, spirits, and beings.
Since ADF was started by people of European heritage its focus is on the European Pantheons in practice—indigenous European gods and goddesses. These include Irish, Welsh, Brittan, Gaulic (the Celts), Teutonic/ Germanic, Norse, Baltic, Vedic, Roman, Greek, Indo-Iranian, Slavic, etc.
Groupings in the Pantheons
Greater/Common – Shining and Chthonic Ones:
These are the family of gods and goddesses and heroes of the Pantheon that are generally widely recognized by the general region or people group regardless of personal and local beings.
Local – Land Spirits and Beings:
These are localized deities and beings that are connected with the lands in which we live. They are connected to mountains, rivers, valleys, lakes, shores, and other places of spiritual power or crossings. These Beings were worshiped and honored in addition to the greater gods and included the Fairy folk, sidhe, nymphs, etc.
Household/Personal – Ancestors, Mighty Dead, and Family Gods:
Clans and households had their patron gods and spirits that would guide and oversee the clan/family throughout its generations. These were worshiped at the hearth (home) shrine and with the clan at festivals and rituals. These were personal and related to the clan and needn’t be imposed upon others.
Why Hearth Worship?
Personal relationships with the Powers are one of the foundations of a strong spiritual path. By having these personal relationships, the worshiper invites wisdom, love and power into their lives and home. We seek the hearth gods for strength, comfort, blessing and wisdom. As the relationship grows, and they speak to you in omens and visions, you can tap into the magic and empowerment they provide. Of course, we must realize that this comes with responsibility, devotion, and giving back. It’s not a wishing well or a power we twitch our nose with.
With so many, this could be a daunting or intimidating task to discover who to connect with. How can we – mortals- approach these powers and how do we determine who to go to?
Heritage is important to us in ADF because we believe in working with our ancestors. The wisdom, love, experience and advice of our ancestors passes on and is a part of our make up. So a good start is to determine your heritage and begin there to discover your hearth. For those who are unaware of heritage (by adoption perhaps), do the best you can, or seek out in vision quest and guided meditation your ancestors to help you. With mixed heritage, seek out that which speaks out the strongest to you. Work on the heritage that speaks to you and your family. Make that your hearth or take aspects of others to develop what’s best for you.
Discovering your hearth Pantheon will take a lot more introspection and meditation, unless something speaks to you strongly already. A good start would be to seek out the gods of your heritage. Irish? Seek the Celtic pantheon. German? Look to Teutonic, Anglo or Norse. Italian? Roman, etc. Perhaps they are already reaching out to you via your blood and spirit lines. By being familiar with music, lore, food, history, ancestors, and customs, the gods can speak to you more readily by accessing those familiarities.
Varied cultural influence or American merged culture? Seek what has interested you. As with divination, the gods speak to us through what we know and what is within us. Have you had an interest or affinity for a particular culture or set of gods? Look into your life for these clues as to how the gods are reaching out to you. When I was a kid, I read comic books. I was interested in the gods of Wonder Woman, who is of Greek origin. These stories set groundwork for me to know that they were beings once truly worshiped and loved, and I wondered what if they were to still be available for worship today. And they ARE!
Explore these ideas with meditation and study. Be sure to use the best scholarly resources, lore, and tales you can. Often rumors, myth and urban legend can be reported as fact or tradition and repeated even with no historical basis. Set aside time to seek inspiration for this goal. Study the gods that interest you and what ways they were worshiped.
Symbols may also guide you to the gods. Explore those leads as well. Tarot, ogams, runes, ruins, stories, etc. may inspire or stir something within. Don’t ignore – or act solely- upon those those things, but add them to your meditations and spiritual seeking. Vision quests, guided meditations, ritual, spells, are all ways to explore contact. But also take practice to reach the state necessary to accomplish the goal.
I’ve Made Contact – Now What?
Now that you have established interest and guidance for a pantheon, what’s next? It is time to get to know them and build relationships. This will come with learning about them via poems, lore, history, how the ancients worshipped and the cultures they come from.
Start to work with them in your ritual, give them offerings, seek their guidance, add them to your life. Relationships come by spending time with them. Hearth Pantheons are those that will be the main influence in our lives. But know that gods and goddesses of other pantheons may seek to relate and work with us. Don’t reject those allies. Accept those friendly gestures and work with them. They will also have something to teach us, guide us and will be able to help us in the works we need to do in our lives. They may be able to add a power to our workings that only they can give.
In addition to the gods and goddesses, seek the aid and relationships with your ancestor, spirit guides, animal guides, and local land spirits including them within your spiritual network.
The process of developing the hearth culture and pantheons will provide the gods a great opportunity to teach and empower us. The first ones we associate with will be very important and special to us. As with our mortal relationships, our spiritual allies and guides may change. Some may move out of our lives forever, temporarily, or just step aside to let others help in specific area of personal work and needs. With the many gods, goddesses, and spirits of all the realms to guide us, here is room to grow and learn our entire lives as we are willing to seek their aid.