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Celebrating Festivals Without A God - ??


Guest MissCheeva
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I would be interesting in hearing from Xalle, Wyrdwoman, Barnowl and any other pagans that don't believe in a god as such. I would like to understand how they celebrate the festivals. Again most of what I have read have involved haveing to pay homage to a god and I don't feel comfortable with that.

 

I do feel that being a pagan is right for me, but I want to celebrate the festivals without worshiping a god. Currently I just make sure I appreciate the day for what it is and eat nice food and drink wine with my hubby. I would like to mark the day in some way personal.

 

Any suggestions would be welcomed.

 

MissCheeva

 

P.S. any ideas for a Samhain meal wouldb be great

Edited by MissCheeva
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Well, I AM a theist, but can quite easily leave that aside for the purpose of answering your question :o_rofl:

 

To me, the festivals are "markers" in the year. They celebrate specific instances, depending on what path you follow, but many paths mark seasonal events: the solstices, beginning of spring, harvest, times when the veil is thin etc.

 

You don't "need" to worship a god to mark the passing of the year, to celebrate an abundant harvest, to show delight at the longest day, relief and joy at the sun making a reappearance after the longest night :)

 

Your appreciating the days for what they are, planning a lovely meal for family at Samhain, sounds absolutely spot on to me, and no need for any deity to play any role either :rolleyes: :)

 

As for ideas for a Samhain meal - there're lots of recipes here on the site, and as well, any cookery magazine tends to have lots of lovely seasonal ideas - basically think about what's in season and what you could make from those ingredients :)

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You can acknowledge the gods without "worshipping" or "paying homage".

 

Many pagans treat their gods respectfully, but as mates.

 

And if you don't believe in gods then, as Pomona says, treat the festivals as a time to reflect on the passing of time and the seasons with your loved ones.

 

Alternatively, you could reject this narrow, linear view of time and just feast and carouse for the sake of it!

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Well lets see.

 

I celebrate Yule and Samhain thats about it.

 

Samhain is a time for me to remember people gone, family and friends. I have a feast and celebrate their lives, the influences they have had on me...

 

Yule is a time for me to celebrate those still with me. Yule is just another Xmas, with a big feed, lots of drink, family and friends round to the house, Yule is just Xmas for me on a different day only we dont exchange gifts. Yule and Samhain for me are really just times to remember what and who I am.

 

I still celebrate Xmas with my family, same as I celebrate Diwali with a Hindu friend and take my Chinese friends kids money envelopes on their new year. I go, I take part, doesnt mean I have to believe in it... my family is secular, mostly atheists, but its a family day so why the hell not.

 

Pomona is completely right when she says you dont need gods to celebrate the festivals. Appreciate them for what they mean to you.

 

As for a Samhain feast. I make lots of sweet stuff at Samhain, my personal nod to those gone is to make something I know they would love. For example some of the stuff I will be making this year is;

 

Beef Stew (my grandfathers favourite)

Sticky Toffee Pudding (grandmothers favourite)

Turkish Delight (great grandmothers favourite)

Apple Pie and Custard (other grandfathers favourite)

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I lean towards the Norse tradition (although I'm in a state of flux at the moment :lol: ) and Mr S is eclectic. We never really did much to celebrate the festivals but now we have a child we wanted to establish some traditions that would suit both of us and give a good framework to the year. We decided thus:

 

Mr S to get days off work for each festival and week each for Yule & Summer Solstice (his firm are really good in that they give all the bank holidays as just extra days so he can modify them to the festivals).

 

Some form of trip out to a natural or ancient place over the festival - woods, the beach whatever. Try to be out of doors for Solstice sunrises (quite hard with a very small boy).

 

Small present for the boy for each festival (also gets Xmas presents from Mr S's family and his birthday is the week after Summer Solstice which is quite nice).

 

Inclusion of traditional festival stuff - tree & log at Yule, painted eggs for Ostara, carved pumpkin lanterns for Samhain - and suitable decorations for altar/living room.

 

Some kind of ritual to do with family life - acknowledgement of achievements and gains, plans for the future, protections, remembrance etc.

 

So far it's worked really well. I feel much less vague and fluffy about things having a proper structure and that we are really living our faith as a family instead of as separate individuals. We also managed to celebrate Yule and Beltane in an open circle with others which was great. I think it's about whatever it means to you, and how you want to do things. Go for it - be inventive :lol:

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I didn't celebrate gods as such during the festivals and esbats - I spent time with the spirits of the land and the genius locii as it was the seasons and the land changing and they are that land. It's the anima of the place you're living that changes and changes you as the seasons go by. Grass-roots level, bottom-up approach ^_^

 

I usually spent them at a standing stone somewhere secluded or out walking. Full moons for a couple of years were always Tinkinswood. When you're with Her at a time like that you can't turn your head away to think about gods up in the sky; her lover, the Moon, comes down right between her legs - sometimes rising blood red to bright orange to crisp, pure white. It's a phenomenal sight.

 

So long as the experience in genuine and real; not contrived - that's the important thing.

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I've always been interested in 'Liminal Zones'. Certain times of the year are more so than others.

 

I don't celebrate except by taking very long walks or if it's night, sitting outside and just...feeling the changes.

 

Every day is different. Sometimes a there is a longer or shorter 'Liminal' time (besides the diurnal variations) - I like to catch those. The two strongest are (in temperate climes) the end of Autumn and the middle of what we call 'Spring' now. I do like to get out and about at those times. Although we no longer live by the 'agricultural calendar' I don't think it necessary to chuck it out as the plants are still the best harbingers of yearly changes. That and the colour of the sky and the ocean .

 

I don't know enough about horticulture in general to say, but I always find it interesting that certain seasons tend towards specific colour groupings . I sometimes wonder if the blaze of red, yellows and orange in flowers (but not trees - I know why that happens) at the end of Autumn is either to draw the last bees and birds or just happenstance.

 

So I guess I'm very ,hmm, aware? of these changes and that alone is a quiet celebration.

 

I do believe that humans are still very much 'of nature' and respond to it's changes.I like to recognize that - it makes me feel more a part of it and less separated by the artificial. For me, it's a way 'inward' towards my self and certain times I feel it much more strongly than others - with all that implies.

 

Marto

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What Andy says.

 

"Worship" is a very weird Levantine approach to divinity which caught on in the West after Paul mickey-finned the Roman Empire with some subversive Oriental cult.

 

A few of us here came to paganism through Buddhism. There is a "Broad Church" Buddhism which accepts pretty much any god that comes its way, but the puritan Theravadin approach is "Gods may exist, but really you should have nothing to do with them".

 

Since I've started my explorations, I'm satisfied in myself that their are other entities around us that are not quite on our plane of existence. I don't see why I should worship them. Maybe they should worship me!

 

But no. I pay my respects. We are neighbours. We may have need of each other.

 

That should be sufficient. An offering now and then, of incense, or sweetgrass, is only politeness.

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I go largely with the seasons, feeling the passing, changing nature. I don't really do specific festivals as such, obviously Samhain, as Xalle said, I remember those now gone, and Yule, it's a great time for just getting together with my loved ones on a quieter scale than actual xmas ( which we still have but obviously not on a religious basis, it's my family's time and I respect that).

 

I really am far too random to follow specifics, and tend just to touch base...

 

Barnx :)

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I would be interested to read any sources etc that conclusively proves that the quarter and cross quarter days have had anything whatsoever to do with gods in the history of the UK. I understand that many of them now have plenty to do with them - Candlemas being linked to Brigid, Beltaine to, well, Bel, and so on. But it is my understanding that the quarter days were celebrated as much for relief as for anything else (especially Yule, being the time that the days would start getting longer), and the cross quarter days are agricultural (lambing, crop harvest, veg harvest, and meat harvest).

 

Therefore it is more reasonable to celebrate these festivals without resorting to worship of a deity, especially if we wish to be historically accurate. I can eat lamb, have sex, weave a corn dolly, make bread, and remember my forebears all without even the slightest twinge of theistic urges, because I celebrate what the holidays originally meant to our paleo-pagan ancestors. If neo-pagans wish to honour their patrons and matrons on these days then good for them, but I somehow doubt, in the UK at least, the days were ever considered 'holy' like Christmas and Easter are to the Christians.

 

I must re-read my copy of Stations of the Sun. I could be talking complete codswallop for all I know. :) But my personal POV is that I don't have trouble celebrating sans gods, as the festivals have never been exclusively about gods.

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I would be interested to read any sources etc that conclusively proves that the quarter and cross quarter days have had anything whatsoever to do with gods in the history of the UK. I understand that many of them now have plenty to do with them - Candlemas being linked to Brigid, Beltaine to, well, Bel, and so on.

 

 

Candlemass in ireland is La Fheile Bríd and has been connected to Kildare and the centre of brigidine worship since early times. there's no question that the day is linked to brigid, even the early chuch wrote about the kildare centre.

Bel has not been "linked" to bealtine it is the root word in Irish from which the name of the festival springs, the other way round ;) In irish the words Lughnasagh, and bealtine (beltaine, beltine) are linked to gods, and the festival of Samhain is linked to a place, Tara, and was a gathering of the leinster clans /all ireland clans depending what source you read. It has an inferred link to the gods of Tara and the hill of Ward in old sagas but the word itself isn't derived from a god, iykwim :)

I think festivals evolve. lughnasagh wasn't a harvest festival it was the funeral games of Tailtiu of Tealtown and Ward; and I would imagine realistically all festivals had lots of meanings and significance not just one dimensional, not just meaning, samhain remained politcally important into christian times, I would say enjoy them.

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I would say enjoy them.

260587[/snapback]

I would agree with this.

 

Bear in mind though that my POV is definitely Anglocentric, and August 1st is usually known as Lammas over here, derived from Loafmas, a festival to celebrate the bringing in of corn and wheat. Neo-paganism does tend towards Celtic roots for its festivals, but as I am neither neo-pagan nor Celtic I prefer to stick to the ways more usual to my heritage.

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I would say enjoy them.

260587[/snapback]

I would agree with this.

 

Bear in mind though that my POV is definitely Anglocentric, and August 1st is usually known as Lammas over here, derived from Loafmas, a festival to celebrate the bringing in of corn and wheat. Neo-paganism does tend towards Celtic roots for its festivals, but as I am neither neo-pagan nor Celtic I prefer to stick to the ways more usual to my heritage.

260588[/snapback]

 

sorry wyrdwoman it was the bel / beltaine reference, as it comes from the celtic languages that was why i quoted you, i didn;t mean to say you should be paying attention to irish festivals.

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sorry wyrdwoman it was the bel / beltaine reference, as it comes from the celtic languages that was why i quoted you, i didn;t mean to say you should be paying attention to irish festivals.

260591[/snapback]

No worries, I understood your point. The funny thing is, I berate you for foisting Irish festivals on me and then I call it Beltaine! Just goes to show how the names have crept into familiar usage. As a died-in-the-wool angosaxon, it should, of course, be Walpurgisnacht! :)

 

Or even just plain ol' May Day.

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sorry wyrdwoman it was the bel / beltaine reference, as it comes from the celtic languages that was why i quoted you, i didn;t mean to say you should be paying attention to irish festivals.

260591[/snapback]

No worries, I understood your point. The funny thing is, I berate you for foisting Irish festivals on me and then I call it Beltaine! Just goes to show how the names have crept into familiar usage. As a died-in-the-wool angosaxon, it should, of course, be Walpurgisnacht! <_<

 

Or even just plain ol' May Day.

260594[/snapback]

 

I said "yule" the other day and my partner's best friend who is native irish speaker gave me a ten minute lecture on using foreign terms. I was shamed, shamed until he said "christmas" and my lovely man snapped at him "that's as foreign, you big fat eejit"

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I was shamed, shamed until he said "christmas" and my lovely man snapped at him "that's as foreign, you big fat eejit"

260606[/snapback]

 

Bwahahahaha. Serves 'im right.

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Well, I dont do gods so I dont worship them, but I do watch the turning seasons of the year and I appreciate and enjoy them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

i dont do gods either,i celebrate the turning of the seasons mainly,although i do make offerings of thanks giving to the spirit of the land

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Nope - no god worship in my home either. :)

 

Candle lighting usually- and i may add some decoration to my alter - but i mainly just try to enjoy the day. I cook a nice meal and have friends over, perhaps meditate if i have the inclination or, as most, just try to spend time.

 

I'm glad i spotted this thread - as I had always secretly felt a bit bad for not going in for the whole "ritual celebration" thing. Just not me. I used to when i still lived at home and was just learning - but that soon petered out :D

 

And as for Samhain receipes - anything that involves a pumpkin is delish. :lol:

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i did struggle with the god/dess question for ages,it just doesnt sit right with me,but i was worried as i kept reading about people having a nudge or connection with a diety,so i asked if everyone was the same and was pleasantly surprised to find out that i can follow my path in my way by celebrating the changing of the seasons ,i also honour my loved ones who are no longer with me

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Well - I would definitly say that I have a connection/ nudge towards a deiety- that being Bastet and Buddha (not the chubby one <_< ).

I collect representations of both and have done for a long time. I suppose this could be a subconscious connection?

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I have a goddess, but she doesn't have much to do with how I celebrate the festivals - the two are separate in my mind. It was only when I read this thread that I realised this!

 

So with the festivals, I tend to give thanks - to life, to anyone I feel I want to thank, and celebrate. I try to meet up with people on or around the date if possible, to give a sense of fellowship. And yes, I try to make my activities appropriate to the festival/time of year - for example, at Mabon/Autumn equinox I baked apple cake. At Beltaine I got drunk and snogged people :)

 

I celebrate the Wheel of the Year because it gives me a structure, something to look forward to every few weeks, and a chance to stop and think. It really works for me - even if I don't do anything special to mark the date, I'm still thinking about it. Some people celebrate different dates - whatever works for them. I'm not bothered if the Wheel of the Year is ancient or modern in conception - that is totally irrelevant. What is important is that it gives me a foundation and structure within which I can operate.

 

So gods come into it if you want them to, but they don't have to.

 

<_<

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