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Posts Tagged ‘hospitality’

I’ve started and stopped this post three or four times today, so I’m going to give it one more go and see how it turns out. If it’s terrible, I’ll just delete back to this point and say “yup, still trying to do this stuff” and post it.

So I’ve been in this rebuilding phase, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. I’ve done some magical work, plus some ritual work, and all told I feel like I’m a little better grounded than I have been in awhile. (Which is good, because this is week seven of practice, and I only have to journal for four months, so it’d be a real shame if I got through all four months and never figured out my practice.)

This week was my lunar retreat week, and I got the following runes:

  • Eoh – the Yew: something reliable, but that is easily overlooked. (All that is gold does not glitter)
  • Mann – Man/Mankind/Humanity: Community, other people, support and strength in numbers, relationships (can be positive or negative)
  • Rad – the Journey: the journey is always hardest when you’re actually doing it, and seems easy to the people who are not actually there with you

I haven’t put them in my spreadsheet yet, but I’m feeling like they’re pretty pertinent to where I am on this spiritual journey right now. I do know that my tribe has been a huge source of strength, and that this does feel like a journey.

Part of me wonders if the overlooked part of this has been my relationship with my gods – while I’ve done some small things for them, I haven’t been nearly as connected as I was in the past. Some of this is due to not really knowing how my relationship with them will continue to work, especially Frige. As a goddess of hearth and home, it’s weird to be living in an apartment I don’t own, as well as to be in the process of getting divorced. It’s an odd dichotomy to the life I used to live, and I’m finding that I don’t know how to relate to her like I did when I was “running a home”. (Even though I still work from home, it doesn’t feel the same as it did when I was more domestically focused.)

Same goes, to some extent, for Ing-Frea, though he has seemed closer lately. Without my garden, it’s harder to connect to the earth (and I’m on the third floor, so pots on the porch are literally the best I can do). He was the first deity to “knock on my door”, so to speak, and so it’s always easy to just lay things out for him, but it doesn’t feel the same after all that I’ve been through.

My relationship with Hela has been very much an as-needed one, unlike the other two, and I have not felt called to her work so much lately – which is odd, as you would think she would welcome this level of life transformation. But the connection is not really there either.

The change doesn’t seem to be on *their* parts so much as it is on mine though, hence my thinking this is the part of my practice that I’ve overlooked. Hopefully I can begin working on that over the next few weeks, add some meditation back into my weekly routine, and see whether those relationships are going to continue or if that aspect of my life is going to change again.

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*Ghosti is a concept we hear a lot about in ADF. (The asterisk is used to denote that it is not an attested word, but instead is a linguistically reconstructed word from the Proto-Indo-European language.) Our English words “guest” and “host” both come from this word. Mutual obligations between people are expressed with this concept, as well as the relationship between worshipers and gods.

From an article by Ceisiwr Serith:

*ghosti- is a word in Proto-Indo-European which translates as “someone with whom one has a reciprocal obligation of hospitality.” The English “guest” and “host” both come from this root. That describes the ghosti-relationship nicely. We are both guest and host to those with whom we have a ghosti-relationship; guest on one occasion, and host on another

And the ghosti-principle operates in the relationship between human and divine. We give gifts to the gods, and they give gifts to us. We offer a share of the sacrifice, and they grant us blessings. We are the hosts today, and they are the hosts tomorrow. Sometimes this is called a “do ut des” relationship — “I give that you might give.” It is seen as a cosmic buying off — we pay the gods to get what we want.

There is so much more to it than that, though. It is not a mere business transaction. Exchange is what Indo-European friendships are made of. By engaging in ghosti-relationships with the gods, we become their friends. And since in Indo-European society the king must give more in such a relationship than a commoner, the Great and Shining Ones grant marvelous blessings in return for our more humble gifts.

For me, *ghosti is tied into the virtues that I strive to practice on a daily basis – it is part of piety and hospitality especially, because it defines my relationships with both other humans and the gods and spirits. If I’m honest, I’m not always good at the truly reciprocal form of hospitality with my friends, and I am terrible about remembering people’s birthdays, but I tend to buy random gifts when I find something that strikes me as something that someone I know would love. Or buy them dinner or whatever. I also try very hard to support my friends who are artisans, even when it’s something I could technically make or purchase less expensively elsewhere, because I believe it’s important to support people who are doing and making beautiful things (though that’s less about *ghosti and more about me wanting to support my friends… which I guess is a form of *ghosti in a way).

One of the things that drew me to ADF (and has kept me here) is the idea of a transactional, reciprocal relationship with the gods and spirits around me. I need them and they need me, we mutually support each other through gifts, sacrifice, blessings, and offerings. If I uphold my end of the bargain, they will uphold theirs, in a very mutually beneficial sort of way. This way of thinking just makes sense to me, and it’s been one of the things I was looking for in a religion since before I was part of ADF. Having that relationship, based on mutual respect and “gift giving”, where sometimes I am the gracious guest, and sometimes I am the gracious host, just works for me.

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From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

Hospitality: : hospitable treatment, reception, or disposition

Hospitable:
1 a : given to generous and cordial reception of guests
b : promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome
c : offering a pleasant or sustaining environment
2 : readily receptive : open <hospitable to new ideas>

From Our Own Druidry (83)

Acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humor, and the honoring of “a gift for a gift”

(Note: I chose to use the dictionary definition of “Hospitable” as the definition of “Hospitality” was rather slim and circularly defining, and I found the definitions of Hospitable to be more in line with the way this virtue is actually practiced in ADF and in my life.)

In this, the first of the “producer class” virtues, I think we start to see the other virtues come to light as part of an active society. Where integrity and courage are virtues you define as actions you take yourself, hospitality requires interaction with others – a fundamental part of Druidry, whether you interact online or in person.

This is a virtue I try actively to cultivate, as I think it is often forgotten in our modern culture. I appreciate being cared for as a guest, and I enjoy caring for my guests. A gracious host provides for their guest, and an appreciative guest brings a token to show their appreciation, and maybe offers to help with the dishes. The relationship we have is one of mutual honor and respect, and I think it is an extremely important virtue for the internet-inclined Druid. It is so very easy to forget to be hospitable, to forget to be gracious and appreciative of others, especially those who create friendly spaces online (like blogs and forums) and take the time to moderate and run them. This virtue goes a long way towards keeping the peace, even amidst disagreements, if mutual respect is maintained.

I do not, however, think that this virtue should be seen as “becoming a doormat” – one can be a gracious host or an appreciative guest while still maintaining one’s individual opinions and living according to one’s own integrity. In fact, it could be seen as an act of courage to maintain a disagreement while still honoring that you are a guest (or a host) and should behave accordingly. One can still say “please” and “thank you” while having a debate about the nature of something or other.

In terms of ADF’s basis in the *ghos-ti relationship, hospitality is the virtue that stems directly from *ghos-ti. It defines not only our interactions with each other, but our interactions with the Earth and our interactions with the Kindreds, whereby we accept and expect to be treated accordingly to our own offerings. It is a bit like the relationship that you have between friends, where you might keep a loose running tab of whose turn it is to pick up dinner, but you are both contributing to the relationship, and it is one of balance, commonality, and respect.

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