WEEKLY GROUP RITUAL

A new weekly ritual will be posted here each week, which we will use in our Sunday meetings. For more information on these meetings, see the Get Involved page.

Preparation:
It is recommended that you have two bowls: one with pure water, another empty. You will also need a glass with your offering to the Gods. Typical offerings are wine, milk, or water, but the offering can be specific to the deity you are addressing. It is also appropriate to have a candle and incense.

Wash your hands in the bowl of water to purify yourself before the gods.

————

Music, a stanza from Hávamál, and the ringing of a bell start the meeting.

***

43. Be a friend
to your friend
and also to his friend,
but never be a friend
to the enemy
of your friend.

*

First, we worship our Gods,
pay reverence to the noble Heroes,
we greet the spirits of the Dead,
and honor our meeting’s Patron.
So let us offer this libation,
for the honor of their power
and communion with their souls.

Today’s libation is to Saulė (eng. Sun). (The Big Book of Pagan Prayer and Ritual by Ceisiwr Serith) (Saulė, in Baltic religion and mythology, the sun goddess, who determines the well-being and regeneration of all life on earth. According to Baltic myth, Saulė, the sun, rides each day through the sky on a chariot with copper wheels, drawn by horses who neither tire nor rest nor sweat.)

We strengthen Saulė with prayers, with offerings,
rising as smoke from sacrificial fires
lit at this time of growing darkness.
Golden woman, we offer as well this gold;
when we wear it, we will be showing how beautiful you are,
and how beautiful you make those who are faithful to you.
Even though you may dwindle in the sky
you will not dwindle in our hearts:
Lovely goddess.

As you give to us, so we give back to you!

Pour some of your offering into the empty bowl.

Neither earth nor heaven were,
when chaos ruled the empty space.
But from the two that shape and form –
from light and darkness, sky and soil –
the world was forged and ordered.
So shall we be brought to order,
As we partake of this drink.

The remainder of the drink is consumed.

ᛜᛜᛜ

A bell is rung to initiate the reading.

Today’s reading is poem “Seasons” by Kristijonas Donelaitis.

Kristijonas Donelaitis (Latin: Christian Donalitius; 1 January 1714 – 18 February 1780) was a Prussian Lithuanian poet and Lutheran pastor. He lived and worked in Lithuania Minor, a territory in the Kingdom of Prussia, that had a sizable Lithuanian-speaking minority. He wrote the first classic Lithuanian language poem, The Seasons (Lithuanian: Metai), which became one of the principal works of Lithuanian poetry. The poem, a classic work of Lithuanian literature, depicts everyday life of Lithuanian peasants, their struggle with serfdom, and the annual cycle of life.

None of Donelaitis’s works were published during his lifetime. Donelaitis wrote at least three poems in the German language (An der Amstrath Donalitius nach dem Verlust seiner Gattin, Der Gott der Finsterniss, and Unschuld sei mein ganzes Leben). His Lithuanian works consist of six fables and the poem The Seasons. His major work, The Seasons, was titled by Ludwig Rheza. It consisted of four idylls, totaling 2,997 hexameters. The work was a long-term project, often revised and rewritten, without a clear beginning or ending. Only two original idylls survive. The other two were destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars. The full work is known from a copy made by Pastor Hohlfeldt after 1794. 

For newcomers:
Each person who chooses to read will read one paragraph from asterisk to asterisk. One person will read at a time. We will read in alphabetical order and repeat this order as many times as needed till the reading is complete.

***

Now the sun rose again to rouse the world
And laughed to topple down chill winter’s labors.
And cold’s creations, with the ice, diminished
As foam of snow changed everywhere to nothing.
Soon the bland weather stroked and woke the fields,
Called up herbs of all species from the dead.

*

Thickets and every heath bestirred themselves;
Hill, meadow, dale threw down their sheepskin jackets.
All that had perished in foul autumn, tearful,
In the lake clung to life the winter through,
Or in some burrow slept beneath a bush,
Crept forth in crowd and throng to welcome summer.

*

And rats with skunks walked out of their cold crannies
As crows, ravens and magpies, with the owls,
Mice and their offspring and the moles, praised warmth.
Beetles, mosquitos, flies, a bounce of fleas
Formed their batallions everywhere to plague us
And sting both peasant and his genteel Sir.

*

And the queen bee remembered to awaken
Her hive and send it forth to gainful labor.
Through chink and opening they swarmed in clouds
To play their tuneful pipes in the mild air.
Spiders, in corners motionless, wove yarn
Or soundless, climbed the scaffolds of their snares.

*

And wolves and bears hopped to the forest-edge,
Joyful that someone might be there to rend
It was a wondrous thing that of the endless flock
None of the warblers wept when reaching our dear shore.
No; not to weep, but to rejoice they all came here.

*

For now the winter’s chills and frosts were at an end,
And the enchanting spring wrought wonders everywhere.
Ah, now in every place new life was all athrob;
The air was filled with tunes of songsters on the wing.
Some sang in lower key, some soared to heights of tone: 
Some flew far, far above, up to the silvery clouds:
Some on a low bough perched — and all of them praised God.

*

As yet the food was scarce, but none of them complained.
Some had returned in worn and shabby feathered garb,
Some carried back a maimed or broken wing or crest,
Though in the fields they found but little sustenance,
They did not grieve and no heart-breaking tears were shed;
They all sang their merry melodies.

*

And the stork, returning gladly with his neighbors,
On the straw roof, landlordlike, clattered his bill.
And his wife, already, as he stood rejoicing,
Clambered once again out of the cold household,
Greeting with her pointed beak her loved companion.
They discovered the straw roof grieviously damaged,

*

And their new home, built a mere two years before,
Weather-beaten, torn, and broken — almost ruined.
Walls and braces, beams, and many solid rafters
Winter gales had loosened from the roof of straw.
Doors were ajar, the windows and the sills had fallen;
Somehow, everywhere, the whole abode seemed crooked.

*

So they both at once, like all good homemakers,
Turned to the task: everything to rebuild again.
Soon the husband gathered boughs and twigs in armfuls,
While, without delay, his wife patched up their home.

*

Then the two, after their heavy toil and labor,
Flew off swiftly to a marsh, to fish their dinner.
Then, when they had eaten some few toads and froglets,
They thanked God with all their faith and hearts.
Trivial man, thou, learn at last to be contented!
And in tastier satisfactions, think on God.

***

This completes our reading. We will pause a moment for silent contemplation.

If the program leader would like to make a comment on the reading or libation, they can briefly do so here before moving on to the conclusion.

***Since Donelaitis was a pastor, it is natural that his work contains reflections of the Christian world outlook. It should be highlighted that Donelaitis’ narrative poem opens with the cosmic images of the wheel of the sun and the awakening nature, and closes with God, which means that it possesses a unified soteriological structure. (Soteriology (/soʊˌtɪri ɒlədʒi/; Greek: σωτηρία sōtēria “salvation” from σωτήρ sōtēr “savior, preserver” and λόγος logos “study” or “word”[1]) is the study of religious doctrines of salvation. Salvation theory occupies a place of special significance in many religions. In the academic field of religious studies, soteriology is understood by scholars as representing a key theme in a number of different religions and is often studied in a comparative context; that is, comparing various ideas about what salvation is and how it is obtained.)

59. God-given fire. It is said in lines 4.216–219 that it was God who had given us the fire. In the Lithuanian tradition, fire was given to the human by Perkūnas or by God himself, and is sometimes called Perkūno dukrelė ‘Perkūnas’s daughter’ (in Lithuanian, ugnis is usually a feminine word), or Dievaitis, literally ‘God-son’ or ‘the son of God’ (whenoccasionallyugnis is understood as a masculine word). In general, the Sun is the heavenly fire and approaching Christmas is the best time to remember its birth.

63. The Heavenly Father. At the very end of “The Seasonsˮ (4.666–682) Donelaitis writes that without God’s help, the human (a farmer) cannot hope for harvest or success in various labours in the coming year, and he appeals for that help to God. The passage amounts to a paraphrase of the tradicional tale (ATU 830A) that is well known in Lithuania (83 variants recorded). Moreover, God is called the Heavenly Father, as he had been addressed in the oldest surviving sources of the Indo-European tradition (Vedic Dyaus pitā, Greek Zeus patēr, Latin Diespiter, Diouis pater > Iup(p)iter etc.). Donelaitis’ tėtutis, the diminutive of tėtis ‘dad, papa’, is\ known in folklore and in old historical sources of Lithuanian mythology and, in its turn, reminds of the Hittite tatiš ‘father’ in the compound tatiš Tiwaz‘God the Father’.

***

As we conclude our meeting –
in honour of our Gods,
of our Ancestors, and the World,
which is an image of the Gods –
let us remember how to live
with justice, wisdom, temperance,
with holy thoughts and valiant deeds.

A bell is rung to signal the end of the meeting.

The offering can be left in the bowl for some time. Later, it can be poured outside into the earth.

————

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