How I Am Making My Own Tradition (Part 2)

My new practice is still a work in progress. In part 1, I talked about the time periods and pantheons I was drawing from, and came up with a provisional list of the entities I’d like to include in my worship. In this part, I’ll lay out the cosmology, worldview, and related aspects that I’ve chosen.

There’s two approaches I took to this. 1) Find things that Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic practices have in common (focus on Germanic and Celtic), and 2) Choose things from individual practices that resonate with me.

For instance, I’m an animist, which is absolutely part of each of these traditions. I am also borrowing from their ‘ancestor’ culture and partially using a Proto-Indo-European ritual structure (thanks to Ceisiwr Serith); what Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic traditions have in common there is that they’re all daughters of PIE. However, something like ritual cleanliness, which is a thing in Celtic practice but much less of a thing in Germanic and I’m not sure about Slavic, is something I’m trialling as part of ritual.

Enough rambling. Let’s get messy. Did I mention this is a work in progress?

Cosmology

Basically, there are three worlds in Gaulish thought: this one, the one above, and the one below. Borrowing from Bessus Nouiogalation, these can be called *Bitus (this world), *Albios or Nemos (the one above), and *Dumnos or Antumnos (the world below; the underworld). (Those with asterisks are reconstructed; those without are attested.) Click through to BNG for more information.

I also call our world Mittangard (Old High German) or Midjagardaz (Proto-Germanic), much as the Norse called it Miðgarð. The ‘middle enclosure’.

I’m big on the idea that there is a great tree at the centre of the universe. Bessus Nouiogalation posits the Celtic name Drus, or we could call it Irminsul, which the Saxons called certain sacred trees which may or may not have symbolised the universal tree. This is all conjectural, but I like it. (Why not ‘Yggdrasil’? Because that’s Norse, and it’s not the right historical period.)

Afterlife

There are similar ideas in Slavic, Celtic, and I think some Germanic sources that say the place where the dead reside is across the sea, over the waters, and is perhaps an island of green meadow. Procopius relayed the notion that, among those who dwelt on the southern coast of the North Sea, there was the belief that the souls of the dead had to be ferried across the water to the island of Britain. Now, I’m not taking that account detail-for-detail, but I do think it rings true given similar beliefs in the area. It’s relevant to me, too, that Nehalennia, whose shrines are found on the Zeeland coast, is depicted with what could be funerary imagery. Therefore, to me, Nehalennia is the one who ferries the dead across the North Sea to the land of the dead. By extension, She also carries the dead across “the waters” (no matter where you live geographically) to the underworld, which is ruled by Veles.

Holidays

I’m awful at holidays. Also I don’t really care. But with this new path, I’d like to celebrate some major holidays. I’ve picked a choice few from Slavic and Germanic traditions. I admit, I like the Wheel of the Year, so I’ve adjusted the dates to fit. The ones I’ve picked are below, along with dates for the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Velesa Den (St Blaise’s Day, adapted): Feb 11
    • I borrowed this one from Solntsa Roschcha. Since Veles was sort of ‘absorbed’ by St Blaise in a lot of ways, it’s fitting to use St Blaise’s feast day as a feast day for Veles.
  • Modraniht: held on Christmas Eve historically, though now held on the night before Yule, ~20 June
    • An Anglo-Saxon holiday recorded by Bede. Presumably practitioners honoured their ancestral mothers and perhaps ancestors in general; the name brings to mind the Matres and Matronae.
  • Yule/Ġeola: Winter Solstice, ~ 21 June
    • You know what Yule is, I’m guessing. The Proto-Germanic name is *Jehwlą, and I assume the Germanic people of ~100 CE had winter celebrations, but we can’t be sure what they called them. ‘Yule’ will work for me.
  • Midsumor/Liða: Summer Solstice, ~ 21 Dec
    • For me, this celebration is much more like the Wheel of the Year Litha, and not particularly the Anglo-Saxon Liða, although it’s possible they’re pretty similar. I don’t know, this is just my first year.

The reason this is all so messy is partially due to the inherently abstract nature of things like cosmology and worldview, and partially because, when it comes to the above aspects, I don’t care as much about historical accuracy as I do about current, real-world practicality. Thus, I’ve followed my nose and haven’t worried too much about sources.

And there you have it.

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