Rubens take on Ops

Rubens: Abundance

Last night we did our Lughnassadh, only we did it as a Roman festival to Ops Mater. For years we’ve celebrated Lughnasa as the death and rebirth of the Corn King– John Barleycorn must die and all that. But since we’ve learned that this is totally wrong, I’ve felt even more disconnected from my Celtic heritage than ever.  I am hoping that my last remaining Celtic holiday, Samhain, isn’t going to be more of the same as in– everything I know is wrong, I’ve been celebrating wrongly all these years with messed up ideas based on bad research by spotty authors who led us all astray en masse. Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa– they’re all dead to me in the face of superior research. So what to do but look for Roman equivalents? If I can’t be a proper neo-Celtic pagan, and it seems pretty conclusive that I can’t, I can at least embrace my Western European Classic heritage.

So, Ops. We did our very best to construct an ADF style ritual, following the Core Order of Ritual, to this Sabine goddess of abundance, fertility and wealth. A Chthonic deity, she was at one time the leading goddess of the Sabines. There were two festivals for her in August, one on August 10th and another on the 25th, as well as a third in December. The Consus in OpiConsivia is a god who protects grain storehouses, especially underground ones.

The ritual itself was cobbled together from extant Roman ADF rituals on the website and prayers to Ops found there and elsewhere. We got the nine of pentacles/disks as our omen, an excellent omen for this ritual and one that greatly cheered up everyone present. I wish we would have had more music, but skipping the whole John Barleycorn/lord of the harvest theme made modern pagan music very difficult to find. Even the folksongs that we know, such as “Band o’ Shearers”, aren’t really the right flavor. Maybe by next year I’ll have found something different.

Some of my adjustment to ADF has been very rugged. The worst of it has been realizing my lack in things Celtic. But we move on, learn and grow. Ah, what the heck. Have a Band o’ Shearers on me! 😉


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kévin Silverstag
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 06:55:24

    Yup, most of the modern Wicca-inspired high day themes are no more rooted in history than the Druid Revival stuff.

    I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though… religion should have Mysteries to be revealed through experience, but we’ve lost all of the authentic Mysteries. Trying to recreate them based on the merest scraps of real information is impossible, so its hard to fault people for trying to recreate them even when it means using almost complete flights of fancy.

    We can fault them for passing these new creations off as historical accurate, of course. However, I think that modern Paganism will be much the poorer if we stick to only what we know about the Ancients and end up with sterile rituals because we don’t trust ourselves to create a new Mystery tradition.


    • tlryder
      Aug 03, 2011 @ 08:10:11

      Greetings and thanks very much for your comment!

      I realized the other day that I have been really, really grumpy about all my mostly WIccan-based holiday celebrations being “wrong”. I’m an Anthropologist by training, so I know that none of that stuff about ancient traditions handed down or the witchcult surviving in secrecy is anything other than romanticism and a desire for legitimization. You’ve hit right on what I realized yesterday though– the reason that being told that my previous Lughnasa experiences were not “authentic” leaves me feeling so grumpy and lost is that at the time, they were very authentic and uplifting for us participants.

      It is terribly wrong to pass these things off as ancient tradition or the authentic rituals of the Celts or what have you. But on the other hand, they are authentic rituals of a late 19th-20th century romantic revival that is responsible for paganism being a viable religious movement today. They worked for us then. Perhaps it’s just because we didn’t know any better, or perhaps it’s because the traditions were created in a framework that resonated for the participants.

      The thing I think I’m feeling hostile about is when people make pronouncements based on the latest research on things that really don’t have all that much to do with the latest research. I’m a big research geek; learning new things is like candy to me. I think it’s great that people have figured out that Lughnasa games were originally all about Lugh honoring his foster mother, and I definitely think new research should be incorporated in how we practice. We can always improve, but perhaps we can do it without needing to pronounce other people’s previous spiritual experiences as “wrong”. 🙂


  2. Kévin Silverstag
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 10:04:42

    John Michael Greer has a great quote. Admittedly he is acting as an apologist for the Revivalists, but I do think that there is at least a grain of truth in these words:

    “In fact, though, the spiritual validity of Druidry does not depend on history. The content of a spiritual tradition, not its pedigree, determines its validity. A tradition can be gray with the dust of centuries and still be useless, or even actively harmful, while another tradition freshly devised by some modern visionary can be a wholly valid path.”

    Many in ADF may turn up their noses at this quote, but how much of the core order of ritual comes from the fanciful imagination of RDNA rather than from scholarly research on actual Indo-European practices?


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