Monday, July 15, 2013

Dewdrops in the Moonlight

The Pagan Prayer book I ordered arrived on the same day as my copy of Game of Thrones and the Hobbit Moleskine I'd ordered, so that was a good day. I've had some time to play around with it now and edit a few of the prayers, but it's the sort of thing that will be a bit organic in how I go through and choose this one or edit that one or take the other one as inspiration.

I was meant to start the hours today and I forgot all about it. Of course, now I have the book, it turns out the hours are almost exclusively sun-focused and there's nothing Goddess-oriented in the mix! So I've had to add my own. Such is life!

Shanddaramon's brand of witchcraft is actually tri-theistic - or possibly monotheistic with a trinity concept, it's not totally clear to me. At any rate, the third entity is something called "the Child", explained as the manifestation of the God and Goddess, which doesn't... I mean, most ditheistic Pagan witches lean towards imminence of deity, so why would there need to be a separate deity to symbolise manifestation? And how could a third deity symbolise manifestation if the first two can't? It's peculiar. There are a few references to the Child in various prayers, and a couple dedicated to it specifically, but these can easily be ignored or rewritten. He calls the new moon the "Astor", which I had not heard before. That's not important but I thought I'd mention it.

Shanddaramon shines best when he doesn't rhyme his prayers. He doesn't seem to have the knack for rhyming and keeping metre at the same time, and should stay far far away from trying to rhyme. It's awkward and unpleasant. There's not one of these I can use as-is; I've re-written one or two but most just have to be jettisoned, they're so bad. It's a bit of a shame.

There are two major issues I personally have with his prayers when it comes to using them in my witchcraft tradition. The first is that his deities are very much stuck with one word each. His god is a god of light, and his goddess a goddess of love. All his prayers involve these concepts somewhere. Fair enough - but while my God is a God of Light He is also a God of Darkness; darkness, not light, is where wisdom lies in my tradition. My Goddess is more a Goddess of Passion than of Love; while passion as a concept does (or at least can) include love it is in no way limited to it. This isn't a particular problem within any one prayer; it's more the repetition that got to me in the end. The second issue is that Shanddaramon is very community-oriented in his faith expression. Community is fab, for some of us anyway, but Shanddaramon's prayers ask for blessings in a pan-community way that makes me quite uncomfortable. What does the Hindu family down the street want with my deities' blessings, let alone the Christian couple next door or the atheist on the bus? I'm not comfortable asking for blessings for people I don't know - Hel, I'm not even comfortable when it comes to most people I do know! So for the most part, lines about the community or world at large get left out or edited. Truth be told, when you read that many "and please bless mummy and daddy and give us world peace" type prayers you start to feel a little like someone's been copy-pasting from a Christian prayerbook. And if you're going to copy-paste from a Christian prayerbook you may as well do it from the Book of Common Prayer or something. 

For example, here is a few lines from (and I kid you not) a prayer for World Peace:
"For only in peace can we praise and worship.
God of light, reveal this truth within us.
Goddess of love, show us how to live together."
Now as a Heathen, I can't be going around saying things like "only in peace can we praise and worship" with a straight face. The gods would disown me. It may be true for Shanddaramon, but I'm not sure how one would explain that to all the war gods and goddesses in the world. Especially smirk-making for me is that he begins the prayer "O gods of all nations and all peoples, unite!". Err...

But for all that I rather like it. It's short and far from perfect, and some of the prayers are badly written and others are very keyed to his particular religion, but they're easy to edit and give you a base to build your own prayers upon, which, I believe, was his main intention. He's succeeded in that. Mine has scribbles all over it already, in erasable purple ink: crossing out this, adding that, jotting down notes for new prayers and lines to add in to incorporate, say, my Goddess into a God prayer so that it is for both of Them, or making a "child" prayer work for my God. 

After complaining a little, I feel like I should share a couple of good ones. Shanddaramon (Digivolve to..!) doesn't capitalise pronouns, but I shall.

Here's one for gardeners:

O Lady,
though I set the garden,
it is from You that the plants must come.
O Lord,
though I plant the seeds,
it is through Your light that they grow.
These things I recognise:
that through my work
and with Your blessing
these plans shall take root and grow.
I marvel at the miracle in which I take part.

And here is one for a night without a moon:

O great and silent mystery
that is the core for all life,
teach me to embrace the dark.
Show me how to live in the unknown.
Let me know the wonder of the many stars 
that shine down upon me.
Through these things may I come to know and honour you.

Though, even most of the rather good ones now have scribbles of personalisation on them. For example, the one for the night without a moon I have changed very slightly to include a mention to my Goddess and another half-line about walking in shadows, because I felt like it needed it. Shanddaramon says in his introduction to prayer, "I encourage you to adopt them to suit your own personal theological understanding" and am taking to it with gusto. He also provides a basic outline of how he writes his prayers to help the supplicant write his or her own, which was nice. For a person given to working with words, it's like messing about in a garden, trimming this and planting that and pulling some weeds here and there, and in doing so, something takes shape. Perhaps not for everyone, but I'm enjoying the process.

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