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Liturgy Practicum 2, Requirement 1.2

Explain the importance of a shared worldview or cosmology within group ritual, and what can be done to help foster that shared cosmology. (Minimum 200 words)

A shared worldview provides everyone with a "starting place" for the ritual actions taking place: if everyone has the same conception of the cosmos, if the world looks the same to every person, then the actions done in ritual will have the same (apparent) effect to (or on) every person in the ritual. Basically, it sets up the "rules of the game" so that when something is done, everyone knows what will effect it will cause. To do this, in ADF we tend to make what I call "ritual assumptions" and impress those through a variety of means on our attendees.

Druidic ritual doesn't follow a set of beliefs: we are not an orthodox (right belief) religion, but a religion that values orthopraxy (right practice). As a result, we do not have a set of "things you must believe in" so much as a set of ritual assumptions that make Druidic ritual structures work. This will leave us at a disadvantage compared to other faiths when it comes to drawing people into that cosmos, because the focus is not on belief but on action. This is why explaining or expanding on our ritual assumptions is so important to helping create a shared worldview among the Folk.

Conveying this set of assumptions that make up our shared worldview begins in our pre-ritual briefing, where the principle of *ghosti- is described to the Folk, and they are told what the cosmos looks like in general. We often explain what our hearth culture is, who we are sacrificing to, and what we hope to receive in return.

During the rite, we do attunements to make sure that everyone is "on the same page" as everyone else in ritual. This means that a good attunement (particularly for public ritual) will give an excellent description of the cosmos that the ritual is operating in. For more private rites, an attunement can be a bit more relaxed, because people will already understand the cosmos.

Additionally, our rituals are not built on symbols, but rather on exemplifications. Rather than describe the fire, well, and tree as signifying something in the cosmos, we recognize that each part of the sacred center is made up of the “stuff” of the cosmos. Just as a swatch of cloth does not symbolize the cloth, but is a piece of the cloth itself, our ritual items and tools are not symbols, but actual samples of cosmic realities. In our rituals, the Tree is not a symbol of the World Tree, but its wood is a part of the cosmic World Tree. The waters of the Well are not symbolic of the cosmic waters, but they are drawn from the cosmic Waters. The Fire at the center of our ritual is not a symbol of the cosmic Fire, but rather a spark that exemplifies the cosmic Fire.

The easiest way to think about this is to compare how we talk about the sacred center in ritual as opposed to how we talk about a country’s flag. When we speak of the well, we call it “eye and mouth of earth,” “cauldron of inspiration,” and ask it to “flow within us.” We do not speak of what it “represents” or what it is “like;” rather, we speak of what it is. When we speak about a country’s flag, we talk about what the colours mean and what the flag as a whole stands for.

By speaking of what things are rather than what they symbolize, we help to foster the assumptions that make up our shared cosmovision.


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