My experiences will reflect the fact I'm pretty solitary!
*I've never been to a naming ceremony and don't plan on having children. If I could organise a naming ceremony I'd ideally hold it at the altar to the Mothers that is used as a baptismal font at the church in Lund. *I've never been to a public initiation. My own have been between me and the gods and spirits. The first, my dedication to Gwyn as my patron at the White Spring in Glastonbury, was planned and involved a specific set of vows. My second, to my path as an awenydd, was more of a spontaneous epiphany - it happened on a winter solstice morning on Castle Hill (a local fairy site) in Penwortham. I'd been contemplating whether I was an awenydd and, there, felt Gwyn's presence and his confirmation I was an awenydd and that of the spirits of place. All I needed to do was accept their confirmation. *I've been never been to a handfasting and am not planning on getting handfasted. I'm no good with love between partners and romance and couldn't even begin to imagine how to organise a handfasting! *I've never been to a pagan funeral, but my grove have discussed performing each other's funeral rites and preparing each other's bodies. We're hoping to organise a weekend in the North West with Kristoffer Hughes later in the year where three of us (myself included) will train in death midwifery alongside other local druids/pagans. I've written my funeral plan and funeral rites, including a call to the spirits of place, Belisama, my local river goddess (I'm planning to be buried in the woodland burial ground I helped to plant in Penwortham) and to Gwyn as my personal patron and a Brythonic god of the dead and gatherer of souls.
I have experience of all four of the categories Lorna identifies but not all of them in a Brythonic context. I think the problem we have here is that we are for the most part solitary practioners, or work in groups that are not related to each other in a way that would allow us to develop a common practice.
Naming Rites We did simple naming rites for our children when they were babies, but this was a familiy thing rather than anything public and reflected my practice at the time which I suppose is best characterised as post-wiccan but not yet self-consciously Brythonic.
Initiation I have one experience of public initiation which goes back even further than that: I was initiated into the old OBOD order in a ceremony on Glastonbury Tor by the then Archdruid Ross Nichols. The public 'initiation' was in one sense simply a formal entry into the Order, but also reflected training received in preparation for this under the direct guidance of the Archdruid and other senior members of the Order (there were no courses as such then). That is the initiate is recognised as being ready for initiation when this becomes clear both to the trainee and the trainers - it is as much a personal thing as it is the meeting of set criteria. So when Lorna says that for her it has come from meetings with particular gods, I would concur and say that this is the only true initiation. But to reflect this in a public ceremony requires there be some way of recognising it in a group context or having it personally recognised by a trusted co-celebrant who can take part in the ceremony.
The old OBOD dissolved after Ross Nichol's death and by then I had moved to Wales and become involved in the largely wiccan practice of The Pagan Movement. There initiation was a shared thing for the members of the core group, recognised in each other and in the shared practices of the group. Also by taking on the role of deities in the psycho-dramatic seasonal rites we performed which were public in that any member of the Movement could attend them, though private in that they were held on private land and so only accessible to members who booked to come.
Funerals In most funerals I have attended for family members I have said my personal devotions for them privately as well as taking part in the formal ceremony which was organised for them (my father and my brother both died while I was at University). In the more recent case of my mother I recorded my sense of her passing with Epona on my blog HERE.
My one experience of a pagan funeral was that of Tony Kelly who led The Pagan Movement and who wished for his body to be buried in the woodland he had created on his land in Carmarthenshire where we held the rites. The Movement was defunct before his death but a few remaining ex-members and some members of a local coven who had been visiting him a nursing home came together to plan the funeral with him when it was clear he was dying. What happened after his death is a lesson in what preparations people may need to make if they want a pagan funeral or want to ensure that one takes place. Shortly before his death he had been moved to another nursing home farther way so we were not immediately informed when he died. In the meantime members of his family organised a cremation. Our support group fell out with each about what to do next, including a suggestion that we should take the body and bury it ourselves, which had obvious practical obstacles to it! The witches managed to get to the funeral parlour and hold their own rite but took no further part in the funeral arrangements. In the end the rest of us were able to negotiate the burying of his ashes with a tree on his land in a rite based on the one originally planned and including, at Tony's request, a scottish bagpiper who played a powerful lament at key parts of the rite.
I relate all this in a simplified version of what was a complicated sequence of events to warn that conducting pagan funerals may not be a straight-forward as simply following the dead person's wishes. As I am getting to the age when I should be coming to terms with my own death I am considering the purchase of a plot for woodland burial in the one site where this is possible in my area and where my wife also wishes to be buried. Paying in advance for what you want is one way of ensuring that the surviving family know what to do. But as for the ceremony, well I suppose that has to be left to those who are still around to do what they need to do, though I have considered specifying something to be read. In the end, if we are solitary practitioners we can only hope to be able commend ourselves to the gods as we pass. And if we practice with others, that they are able to do what we would wish them to do, and what their practice requires of them, by way of a committal. Handfasting This is obviously a lot easier! My only experience of a Brythonic ceremony was at the wedding of Potia and Redraven where I was honoured to be able to take part in giving the blessing of Epona. But perhaps they will want to say something about that.
I've had the privilege of being the celebrant for a number of Pagan rites of passage. I've led baby namings, performed wedding ceremonies and had the honour of leading funeral rites both for those I knew and for those I didn't know in life. All were put together for the individual or family in question. All were unique and of deep meaning to the core people taking part. For me that would have to be the key aspect of any rite of passage regardless of whether it was Brythonic or not.
The only rite of passage that has been specifically Brythonic is our wedding as Heron mentions above. In that rite a number of non-physical beings were invited and libations offered to them. Those were the spirits of the place, the ancestors, Epona Rigantona, Maponos, Brigantia and An Cailleach. Neil invited the ancestors himself. The spirits of place were invited by a friend of ours who comes from Ardrossan. Heron was asked to invite and do the libation for Epona Rigantona, another friend Lesley did the libation for Maponos, my mum did the one for Brigantia and another friend Vicki did the one for An Cailleach. Each of those chosen were asked because of their own relationships to those being invited.
For me in particular it was important that just as I wanted my physical family and close friends with me to witness our marriage vows so also did I want my spiritual, non-physical family
@ Heron - What a shame about the conflict surrounding Tony Kelly's funeral plans. I've already made sure both my family (through my mum who's on a similar wavelength) and grove are in agreement on my mine. Yes, a cautionary story we could all do to heed.
@ Potia - Yes, I guess as a celebrant your role would be to create the celebration the individual and family wanted and it would be rare to be asked to do Brythonic rites as Brythonic polytheists are few and far between. Your wedding celebration sounded wonderful. I'd have wanted my spiritual family present too
'Imagine if you can't remember' - Charlotte Hussey
Post by mrpasserby on May 21, 2017 17:41:08 GMT -1
"I have experience of all four of the categories Lorna identifies but not all of them in a Brythonic context. I think the problem we have here is that we are for the most part solitary practitioners, or work in groups that are not related to each other in a way that would allow us to develop a common practice."
Heron-Thanks I could not have said it better myself (No I really couldn't have).
Last Edit: May 22, 2017 14:58:40 GMT -1 by mrpasserby