So in addition to being a Pagan, I am a Unitarian Universalist. Recently I blogged on my personal blog about the process of becoming a Worship Associate at 1U Orlando and some of the things I learned about myself in writing and preaching a Sermon on Hospitality and Radical Hospitality.
In the Sermon I go into detail onto how I as a Polytheist see Hospitality as integrated into my worship and faith…
“In addition to being a Unitatian Universalist, I am also a Contemporary Pagan and Polytheist. In my own spiritual journey I look not only to the Worlds Religions, but also the the Religions of the Ancient World and centuries long tradions of Western Mysticism and Occultism for inspiration and guidance. In my daily life Hospitality is not just the field I work in, it is also the fertile ground that I grow from Spiritualy and Religiously.
In Polytheistic worship and practice, the Gods are called out to with poetry and praise. Called upon by their names and attributes, and invited to come and join the worshipers in celebration of the relationship between worshiper and Worshiped, and of the special events in our lives. Offerings are made, of poetry, of song, of incense, and of water or wine and food. The gods are given their portions and those worshiping also partake of the food and beverages. A Polytheist shares what bounty and blessings he or she has with both their fellow worshipers and with the Divine, and thus the offerings and blessings are multiplied in love and respect and fellowship.
Worship is seen as being in some form of active and ongoing and MUTUAL relationship with that which is Divine.
For me as for most Polytheists, as long as you are engaging in whatever the agreed upon practices of hospitality and offering are for you particular group and faith, your actual beliefs about what the Gods are not that important. Whether you see them as Beings on some other level of reality, or if you see Them as inspiring Ideas and personifications of what we might now-a-days call the Web of being… that does not matter. How you understand Them does not matter. It is the respecting of The Gods, and your fellow Worshipers, and the act of being hospitable and gracious and in Right Relationship, in worship and in your daily life… that is what matters.
As a U.U. Pagan, I also take some inspiration today from the fact that for myself as for many Polytheists… there is no challenge or disrispect implied in Worshiping differently from ones neighbors. Indeed, for many Polytheists, when in another land or house it is simply being a good guest and not at all disrespectful, to honor or at least be respectful of the Gods of that land or house.
You can look at the history of the Ancient World and see how this form of religious pluralism was the assumed rule, and not the exception. It was thought only natural that people of widely different beliefs and faiths and philosophies and experiences, could live and work together.”
The journey of writing this Sermon was very interesting to me as I discovered some interesting paralels between ancient Pagan thought and values and those I encounter in the contemporary world.
Frith, when you get right down to it has some startling similarities to ideas and ideals of The Beloved Community.
The idea that Peace can come through people being in Right Relationship to one another…
Or how universal the custom and practice of Hospitality was in the ancient world…
Hospitality and Community….
It seems like there is always some new scandal or schism in contemporary Paganism, I think that too often we let our practices and faiths, despite their ancient sources and inspirations, get clouded with the fears and insecurities of the contemporary overculture. What if we dug deep into the wisdom and cultures of our Pagan ancestors and practiced a bone deep hospitality? What if we welcomed the Stranger and sought to be in right relationship with others even as we acknowledged the ambiguity of our relationships with others who are neither stranger nor friend, Xenos as the ancient greeks said… what if we STILL welcomed them and showed them Xenia, and STILL sought those right relationships that can bring peace?