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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Personal Reflections

This is the final part of my Personal Brythonic Relationships series and represents my thoughts (at this time) in relation to all that I have posted before.

Personal Reflections

It is my contention that the adoption of a polytheistic approach when creating a Brythonic framework with which to nurture a relationship with both / either deity or landscape, is probably more conducive and more relative for the understanding of the of the earlier generations ideas and possible interactions, than a monotheistic approach which would place it’s emphasis upon the interactions with a single entity. This idea would not have been representative of the ideas of those earlier generations.

One may not actually have particularly strong polytheistic belief’s, but if the framework is as accurate as we can construct from current available information, this would then appear to offer the best potential from which constructive interactions could be based upon, and one would hope, create an acceptable and usable format for both parties.

If the basic premise of deity being present in the environment is accepted by the individual through either personal interactions or qualified through reasoned subjective discussion, then it would appear to be consistent to assume that using the model of life on Earth as one’s basis, there could be the potential for a multitude of life forms that could meet the criteria used to qualify those same life forms with earlier and modern definitions of deity.

The difficulty is that the mindset of the modern individual, I suspect, would be different in both it’s approach and understanding of what actually constitutes “life” from earlier generations. The reasoned rational approach would tend to disqualify a lot of interactions as nothing more than coincidence or chance, and indeed, that would probably be correct in a lot of instances. The recent approach that separate entities work independently of and from each other, is now being challenged through the framework of quantum physics and anomalies such as quantum entanglement seem to suggest that this premise is not correct. This would, therefore, not only provide a challenge for that same individual to understand and develop their own framework, but would also challenge how that relationship was to be structured from both parties.

Unfortunately, the rationalist approach sometimes lends itself to a blanket approach to all interactions, with rationality taking precedence in the thought processes and therefore placing before the individual, several alternative explanations.

The resultant increase in options may lead to a sense of further egoic isolation as the individual struggles to create a coherent structure with which to base all these differing inputs. The result often leads to the abandonment of any frames of reference in which the individual considers interactions of a “supernatural” context to be present and that same individual may then may actively restrict their terms of reference to actual biological processes both qualified and quantifiable by the present scientific processes.

However, the numbers of people now actively engaged in trying to work in different frames of reference through the myriad of alternative concepts, would tend to lend itself to the suggestion that, indeed, the terms of reference are in the process of being changed, possibly by both parties.

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Brythonic

 

Relationship with Polytheism

This is another part of my Personal Brythonic Relationships series and builds upon my Relationship with Landscape piece.

Relationship with Polytheism.

We have many examples of the belief’s of earlier generations in the British isles. For the majority of that history, it clear from the archaeological evidence that there was a common belief in the existence of multiple deities. Inscriptions can give us clues as to the identity of those deities, although the inscriptions are sometimes the interpretations of non-native occupying forces translated into a form that may not accurately represent the true meaning from the original language.

The nature of this polytheistic relationship, I suspect, would be one of a practical nature involving the invoking of various deities to favour the outcomes of everyday living. For peoples whose circumstances meant that a large part of the outcomes of everyday living lay outside their own spheres of influence, one of the means by which lay a possible avenue to influence these events would have been a “working” knowledge of the various deities associated with their localities.

Because we know that literacy was not generally present amongst the indigenous populations, this knowledge would have taken the form of an oral tradition. To the local populations, this oral tradition may have presented some perceived advantages over the non-native written traditions.

Through the myriad of local traditions present throughout the tribal societies for the majority of prehistory in Britain, the idea of committing specific information (power) to the written form may have represented anathema.

Therefore, oral traditions probably offered the most practical method of knowledge, handed down from generation to generation. Of course that may have meant that the power of these deities could have been kept with the local populations, as the identity and attributes of these deities would not have been committed to a medium resulting in the potential for other populations gaining access to these localized deities. With the natural evolving of language over time, the identities of those deities were kept “current” with continual usage, as opposed to remaining static on a medium. This idea of repressing deity by means of a physical medium may also possibly have been viewed as having a restricting action upon those deities influence and interactions. This oral tradition may also have been perceived as returning some part of the interacting persons life force back to those deities by means of active participation through living communication. Therefore, interactions with deities would have been actualized by constant interactions, a more dynamic relationship based upon everyday activities.

Some of these deities may have taken the shape of what we may now consider to be localized spirits, for example, local to rivers or valleys. As such, it is probable that their identity may never be known again, and that certainly applies to those from pre-Christian societies. One suspects that it is possible that their identities may have actually have been known up to comparatively recent times.

The adoption of a monotheistic culture in later times suggests that the relationship between people and their deities broke down. The new religion would appear to have held out the prospect of better living conditions and possibly, for the first time, a common framework usable by large sections of the population under common terms of reference (even if some of these may have been applied under duress to some localized populations).

It is possible that the goal being offered by the new religion, as opposed to being just a localized outcome for the person invoking, represented a larger long term goal (plus of course, the materialistic advantages of working for the new religion, possibly the most influential player around at the time). The goal would be larger because the perceived sphere of influence would be proportionally larger, as opposed to the localized sphere of influence evidenced by the earlier tribal societies.

So the new religion’s aspired outcome influenced the local populations by the scale of the perceived goal. Why would you work for the benefit of a localized deity, for whom the sphere of influence was proportional to the area, when you could work for a deity whose influence was said to permeate the whole of the earth and the rewards would therefore be proportionally greater?

And so we witness the influence of a materialistic goal oriented reward system upon a general population. To some, this still represents a preferable route, giving direction to the actions of the many, with a perceived benefit to the majority choosing to live their lives through the teachings and directions of the framework of the controlling religion.

However, if we accept the premise suggested in the previous section about the effects of interactions upon the landscape and the possibility of these interactions actually taking on some form of physicality, one reaches the inescapable conclusion that interactions made in the locality of sites important to the controlling religion must also have contributed some layers to that same locality. It must represent some part of the signature of the environment.

In some areas, such as designated buildings of worship, it may represent the majority of that localities signature. In others it may have no, or minimal, influence. The positioning of some of those buildings, directly upon the sites of earlier generation’s places of reverence, suggest a directed intention to alter the focus of these localized areas to the benefit of the emerging controlling religion. So, although the assertions were that there was but one controlling deity, the actions suggest implied recognition of the influence of other external entities.

Explicit wording forbidding interaction with other deities / idols etc made in the writings of other religions, back up the implied recognition. The only question remaining would appear to be whether the individual accepts the existence of external, as yet unquantified, independent entities. To a large extent, this is probably dependent upon the subjective experiences of the individual at this moment in time.

If one does accept the potential existence of these external entities, through direct or indirect experiences, how could the nature of that relationship be structured?

In earlier times under the influence of the monotheistic religions, the emphasis was based upon theological or divinatory interpretation. To a large extent, the majority of the followers were expected to follow the decrees of those in a position of authority. This was not different from the earlier generations and earlier religions as such, but the difference now was that the actions of the individual were structured more rigorously in larger numbers reflecting the larger aspirations of the religion.

One major difference however, was the size of the sphere of influence accredited to the mainly, localized deities of the earlier generations. This perceived localized sphere placed those same deities more on an equal footing with the inhabitants of the time, in terms of influence and qualities. The new religion’s deity was placed exclusively in a supernatural or other world context, outside of the local environment and therefore out of reach for the majority and as such, reflected the global aspirations of the new religion.

One may reasonably suspect that the nature of that earlier relationship was more of one that acknowledged the different qualities of any one deity without necessarily accrediting them with major supernatural qualities. For the newer religions, it was important that the goal on offer was proportionally larger, because of the accreditation of the one deity having control over all creation would place that deity in a position to grant reward on a larger scale than previously available.

Whereas it is not my intention to suggest that relationship with the land through the framework of Christianity or any other monotheistic religion cannot be achieved, it is my contention that the adoption of a polytheistic approach in the context of a Brythonic frame of reference, favouring a more localized connection, would be in keeping with the aspirations of the individual to explore relationship with the British landscape through a framework that may represent a form recognizable to previous generations.

With the advent of the culture of the individual in recent times, many now reject the “authority” of the major religions, preferring instead to cultivate a relationship in context more in keeping with modern structures of living. More people are now accepting the responsibility of creating their own frames of reference to use to cultivate their understanding of the realm of spirit.

For some, this is represented by a solitary path, which best provides them with the majority of their spiritual needs and also provides for them the method by which to experience the divine nature of existence.

For others however, the relationship may be enhanced by a joining of like minded individuals whose experiences may be similar, with enough common terms of reference to advance and enhance their continuing developing understanding of their shared terms of reference.

What has changed though, is the moving away from a subservient style of interaction, to one that requires more of an equal or even proactive basis from both parties. This implies recognition from spirit that the nature of the interaction is changing, or maybe humanity is creating a change in consciousness which is resulting in a change of context in the nature and method of these interactions.

One further impact is represented by the means of communication available through the medium of modern technology that now gives individuals access to a wider section of the global society with which to share perspectives. Earlier generations were more restricted by the physical limitations of their locality and the opportunity of discovering different perspectives was restricted by this physicality. The technological age has provided the means by which to explore shared terms of reference between people who may not share a common physical location.

Why then, could polytheism be seen as a preferable means by which to explore their potential spirituality? Well, personal experiences may demonstrate to them that the communication they experience as a result of their interactions with deity and / or landscape, emanates from more than one source. Of course, this is purely subjective at this time and relies upon the individual’s reasoning to qualify this position. But, if it is demonstrated to work, and the modern approach would place emphasis upon the analysis of results, it would then seem logical to adopt this framework.

It would also appear to be logical to suggest that by rigorously sourcing as much current information as is available at this time, backed up by the modern scientific areas of expertise that can give guidance to the probable accuracy of that information, we can strive to construct a working model in a modern context. This approach in following all available sources may help create a framework that would have it’s foundations built upon credible evidence, thus helping to construct a form that may be recognizable to earlier generations, enabling us to pay them proper respect and affording them the opportunity to further interact with us.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in Brythonic

 

Stonehenge by Rosemary Hill

I have recently read this book in an attempt to better my limited understanding of this site. The author has written this with an objective to better demonstrate the viewpoints and motivations behind the various historical individuals and groups who have made contributions into the continuing efforts to better understand Stonehenge’s enigmatic history. Much in the style of Ronald Hutton, she presents the documented facts with as much clarity as possible, but unlike Hutton, refrains from personal comments, preferring to present the possible / probable motivations and consequences for others to form their own idea’s. For this, in my opinion, she should be applauded and she only makes any sort of conclusion at the end of the book, with a keenly observed hypothesis about the relationship between the Durrington Walls and Stonehenge, that to me, is entirely convincing.

At just over 200 pages long, this was a hugely enjoyable read and much like Hutton’s recent book on the Druids, brings reality back into the considerations of this aging reader. Highly recommended.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Book Reviews

 

Relationship with the Land

What follows is part of a series that I have done broadly entitled Personal Brythonic Relationships. This series is around 4000 words so i have decided to post these in sections. I have posted earlier versions of these elsewhere, but this is the final version . It is always difficult to try to describe something so personally subjective as connection and relationship and earlier attempts to post this have not resulted in much discussions, I suspect the reason being my useage of both subjective, historical and scientific perspectives creating a perspective difficult to comprehend in it’s entireity. However, I post here and invite comments from interested parties.

Relationship with the Land.

One of the main thrusts of mainstream religions is the potential for the redemption of the individual through the adoption of the teachings of the (usually) divines representative(s). Some of these teachings could be viewed as profound for their ability to transcend time with a universal truth and as such are valid as metaphor for various experiences. However, the adoption of these religions by the individual may involve a (sometimes) unconscious admission of previous inherent fault by that individual, with the teachings leading that same individual to a reward system qualified by subsequent actions that determine the quality of the reward.

Some of the great thinkers in the field of spirituality, and indeed some of those same appointed prophets from those very religions, convey the concept that the accumulation of materials is illusionary, and that part of humanities real goal is to achieve a form of connection with the spiritual aspect of life that needs no physical limitations for interaction. For example Jesus is quoted as saying his kingdom was of a spiritual nature and not a material one, the inference being that materialistic gains were illusionary and of secondary importance.

These mainstream religions offer differing frameworks by which to experience the spiritual aspect of life, but it is usual for the individual to have to make cultural and behavioural changes to initiate this aspect.

It would initially appear therefore, that the premise imposes upon the individual some implied admission of intentional / unintentional fault qualified by the previous methods and processes of living, and it therefore gains a psychological advantage rendering the relationship unequal at the outset. To achieve the desired outcome, the individual has to first admit to the implied fault, thus handing personal power over to the religion’s representative in the understanding that the other party has the tools, through the teachings of the nominated religion, to change the faulty perceptions, actions and thoughts of the individual, leading to redemption in the form of the reward used as the goal.

Whilst this approach may lead to a system favoured by many, increasingly many others are now looking for a different approach based upon a more equal relationship between spiritual and physical realms.

Living conditions for earlier generations meant that they were more exposed to the whims of nature for their existence. Weather patterns could, for example, lead to the deaths of civilizations through floods, famines etc.

Therefore, relationship with deity would have been of a more directly “intense” nature with the reality that your life could be ended on the altar dedicated to a particular deity / deities if it was considered, through a form of divination, to be appropriate for appeasement. We have many examples of this throughout the world including, of course, the British Isles.

This type of interaction was largely based upon the physicality of the times. Natural weather conditions, because they were not subject to human whims, were placed in the realms of the Gods. Therefore those same Gods had to be placated to insure favourable living and growing conditions.

Throughout written history, the individual is furnished with the locations of various sites that were the setting for specific acts. Some locations have acquired this status through subsequent archaeological finds, usually, though not exclusively, more so if that archaeology backed up the “historical” data on offer.

These sacred sites around the world have long been said to possess an “atmosphere”. Of course, this may not represent anything apart from the pre-conceived expectation of the individual, a psychological predetermination of what may be present. However, it is being increasingly speculated, through some current scientific approaches, that a framework may exist that furnishes a hypothesis that suggests that previous interactions made at a site may have left some residual traces of (emotional) interactions, not currently quantifiable, but no less possible.

One possible useful analogy to use here, would be in the formation, transmission and storage of information. This has it’s origins, it’s method of transmission and it’s destination. The origin could be represented by human or non human interactions. The method of transmission would be through the biological or psychological processes of the originator (if known) and the result would be present in the environment at it’s destination but changed by the interactions (processes). The action of transmission into the environment may leave that information present in that same environment but not necessarily perceptible or quantifiable without the correct “equipment”. Therefore, there may a multitude of physical information left in the environment and that information may be present for an indeterminate amount of time, accessible only by the right “equipment”. Norbert Weiner and Claude Shannon, primarily in the late 1940’s, set out the position that all information has a physical reality and from this came the actualization of the computer, the “right equipment” borne from this physical reality.

Using the computer to refine our analogy, we may consider the environment as the hard-drive, the medium used to store the information in a physical form. The human or non human processes may represent the operating system, used to both deposit and retrieve information into or from the environmental hard drive and the original interactions represent the input creating the “raw” information.

Sacred sites could, therefore, be candidates for greater concentrations of these interactions, resulting in an environment that may contain a multitude of different layers of interactions. These layers may be both positive and negative in nature and the balance could affect the perception of the individual experiencing the physicality of the environment.

If we accept this premise, then the subjective senses of the individual may be receptive to some areas and its interactions and not others. The biology of the individual may determine how the experiences are perceived, and a certain combination of interactions and / or biological processes could be responsible for how a person interacts with the physicality of their environment.

Logically, following on from this, the description of what represents a sacred environment may be open to a more subjective interpretation, as opposed to it being based primarily upon a historical context. A certain combination of these interactions, coupled with the “tuning” of the individual’s biological and mental processes, sometimes achieved through training from different various sources, could result in what may be described as a sympathetic resonance with the environment. This could give some limited explanation as to the basis of one aspect of an individuals potential spiritual relationship with the landscape.

For those of us who believe that their relationship with the British Isles maybe experienced somewhat differently to some other cultures from other areas of the world, this may give us some clues as to why. The environment of the British Isles and the history of inter-tribal hostilities, attested through, for example, the coinage finds made, represent a large period of prehistory through to early mediaeval times, indicating changing and shifting populations. Even in the relatively “stable” years of Christianity, feuding and hostilities continued with greater numbers of people constantly engaged in warfare, thus adding the potential for more interactions to be layered into the environment.

This doesn’t lead us to assume there were greater numbers of people around to create these interactions, but the enclosed nature of island living and smaller land mass, give us an idea as to the potential volume of these emotional interactions.

Earlier British generations considered places where the elements of Earth, Water and Air met to be special places where one could potentially experience connection with deity. The geology of the British Isles lends itself to provide an abundance of such places which meet the aforementioned criteria.

For areas of the world with a long history of stable inhabitation by native populations, we observe very specific and powerful rituals. Ceremonies and interactions based upon many lifetimes of nurturing from both sides use many elements from their local environment as a common denominator by which a means of exchange can be arrived at.

From a British point of view, our history is one that has seen many changes of populations, both genetically and culturally. This has led to a mixing of spiritual belief systems, contributing to the layers previously discussed, each distinct in it’s effects and yet contributing to the bigger picture of the environmental landscape.

Thus we have the potential available that is not dependent upon a single or relatively small number of sources for a “perceived complete answer”, but a vast database, the land, with which to use to create one’s own spiritual framework. It is my contention that to develop a relationship with the land, a nurturing process be built around rituals and ceremonies (personal or otherwise) specific to that landscape. It is possible that because of the volume of interactions created through the myriad of different belief systems throughout the history of the British Isles, there lies the potential for these to be experienced in many forms.

The amount of potential information also available through the current technological advances mean that we should, through a reasoned, logical and methodical approach, be in a position to better structure these into a form appropriate for our intentions.

If the individual has now rejected a goal orientated reward system that promises gain through servitude, then relationship with the land may offer that same individual an experience that is not dependent upon the outcome but is based more around the experience.

Relationship with the land offers the opportunity to experience interaction without the expectation of material gain as a consequence and may, in fact, offer the individual the opportunity to contribute some of their own influence / experiences into the layers of their locality. This, I would suggest, may provide a route which could represent the opportunity to widen one’s own experiences of living and also experience the act of connection in a structured subjective level based through a local environmental context.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2010 in Brythonic

 

Polytheism – A Personal Liberty?

One of the descriptions used by myself to attempt to convey my still developing world view is the term polytheist. Historically, the term referred to the worship of multiple deities, the pantheon of Gods evidenced by, for example, the Norse traditions.

 

 

I suspect that this interaction took the form of what may be thought of as a practical living arrangement. That is to say, votive offerings and communication, either through the individual concerned or the religious figure of the community acting as intermediary for the individual concerned. Unlike the structured ritualistic services of the Abrahamic religions designed for the attendance of multiple individuals, I suspect that the nature of these earlier interactions took the form of either the individual or at the most, the family unit.

One may now consider it to be reasonable to assume that the arrangement was one that mirrored the practical nature of the existence of life at that time. That is to say, the names and personalities of their Gods would have been as well known and talked about as much as the family living across from them. Their Gods would have taken on different personalities or qualities and would have been accessed when the need arose, with specific rituals saved for specific times and the attendance of multiple individuals.

 

The rise and subsequent popularity of the Abrahamic religions, took away this practical daily interaction and placed the deity into the realms of the supernatural, making access available, primarily through the appointed representative of said religion. The consequences of this were obvious, not least, placing control of the individual’s access to deity through the structure of an organization that spanned large areas of inhabitation. The teachings of said religion was one that took it’s basis from the documented scriptures, thus, interpretations of the meanings of these scriptures to the general populace was placed in the hands of those very same appointed representatives.

 

As this viewpoint, placing a single deity at the centre of theological discourse, took prevalence over the general populace, the names and personalities of these earlier Gods restricted themselves to the smaller groups of individuals who, for whatever reason, chose to continue with this earlier form of interaction. So, polytheism found itself restricted very much to isolated local populations or individuals. This is now representative of today’s society.

 

The change in cultural ideas in the 20th century and beyond and the emergence of the scientific method have led people to reconsider and redefine their relationship with the realms of the spiritual. Their method of consideration is now based upon the notion of reason and it’s application. This has led many to reject the literal truth of the scriptures because of the obvious inconsistencies involved therein and to a certain extent, resort back to a relationship mirrored in earlier times, i.e. one of a personal practical nature.

 

My own viewpoint has followed this route also. The prevalence of the scientific viewpoint, and more importantly, it’s methodology, leads one to base one’s reasoning within the structures of what is reasonably evidenced. To some, this takes priority over all methods and their reasoning strictly adheres to this. I suspect that most of us display the qualities shown by our ancestors generally, that is to say, a pragmatic approach.

 

So, why am I self identifying as a polytheist now? Well, my polytheism is now subject to a modern interpretation. I have never been able to either identify to or interact with, the anthropological identification of deity. Using the strict interpretation of polytheism, my self identification may now look to be on even unsure foundations. Why should this be? Well, over a period of time, I have come to realize my own interactions are based more about what would be considered to be spirits of place or the Genius Loci of Roman description.

 

These were placed in the realms of the Gods under the general interpretation of polytheism, so as such, I consider the description to still be relevant for my own use.

Using the model of life evidenced to us by the scientific method, we observe that life, however it manifests itself in the natural world, rarely, if ever, stops at a single example. The nature of life is one of diversity and reproductive success through a variety of processes and therefore, one may reasonably assume that there only need to be one form of life to be identified and it is more than reasonable to predict further examples of life resulting from this initial example.

 

Therefore, if evidence of a life form is placed before me that meets the criteria to qualify as an independent entity, I would consider it to be reasonable to assume there would be further examples of said life forms and as such, meet my definition of polytheism. My polytheism therefore, is defined by the reasoned assumption that the entities experienced by me are independent existing entities and using the example of life as we perceive it on Earth, I cannot perceive of it as a single example. Therefore, they must exist in multiples.

 

My modernistic viewpoint, however, also structures me to the conclusion that my relationship with said life forms take the form of a relationship based, as far as reasonably practicable, on an equal basis with both parties contributing without compromising the other by a subservient approach.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2010 in Cosmological Worldview

 

Greetings & Welcome

Welcome to the site of a Brythonic polytheist. My usual name has been taken previously, so the title of this site may be unfamiliar to you initially. However, the clues are in that very same title. If I mention the name Red Raven, then you may better place me!

This site will be the home to some of my continuing meanderings through life, combined with my, sometimes, unusual worldviews. You are cordially invited to participate with a view to further both of our experiences.

RR

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2010 in General