On my personal Facebook page I get feeds from a few different pagan and heathen (or related) pages and profiles and one that I’ve been seeing just by sheer chance more than others the last few days is one which regularly puts up a daily prayer post… thing… Each day they put up a new thread with some kind of theme, calling it the Xday Prayer Thread.
Being me, I immediately wonder if the word ‘prayer’ applies to what Pagans and Heathens practice?
I don’t mean this in a ‘Oh, prayer is a word that belongs only to X’ kind of way, I mean it in a more technical kind of way – Does my using runes constitute a prayer, even though I am not calling upon (strictly speaking) divine aid to achieve my ends. The runes themselves are a medium by which specific ends can be achieved, sans divine intervention. Which is not to say that runes CAN’T be used in that way, but rather to ask: Does the act of using the runes constitute a form of prayer?
Typically a person thinks of prayer as directly addressing, for lack of a better phrase, a particular divine personage and asking them to do something. The most commonly known… approaches, to prayer are the Abrahamic methods, although from what (very, very little) I understand of other religions such as Hinduism the process is similar (though not exactly the same). In it’s most fundamental form, prayer by this understanding is the equivalent of a beggar on the street holding their hand out and waiting for a passerby to drop a coin in their hand – in this example the person praying would be the beggar and the universe and all the deities within it are the street and passersby.
From what I’ve seen and experienced and researched, Pagans and Heathens are far more direct in their approach to interacting with divinity. A few people I know would say that it is because what Pagans and Heathens do is an exchange of energy with deity (I’ve kept that sentence in its simplest form for the sake of not abusing my / button). A pagan/heathen does ‘their practice’ for a specific thing, to bring about a particular effect for a prescribed purpose. Like choosing the right tool for the job or medicine for the sickness.
So, does prayer apply all that much to Pagans and Heathens? Certainly, there is a shared appellative quality (appealing for help) to Pagan and Heathen practices and prayer, but is there an implication (explicit or otherwise) in prayer that you’re leaving everything up to whoever you are praying to – even whether or not what you prayed for gets done?
This could almost become another long term topic…