How do you enact a communal meal in ritual?

2012 Thing on Thursday #6

We continue our series of questions on liturgy.  Our poll asked about the most important elements of ritual liturgy, the third most popular element was the communal meal.

The breaking of bread together could be regarded, in a broad sense, as the oldest known ritual, older even than humanity.  Its power to establish bonds of good will between participants are manifestly obvious.

What is not completely obvious is how precisely to ritualize this, with whom, and why.  That’s the point of the poll today.

There are actually three polls today, inquiring into three relevant questions.  In these polls, two terms need to be established:

  • participants refers to people present and actively taking part in the ritual
  • honored beings refers to any explicit recipient of honors in the ritual, symbolic or otherwise, be it a deity, spirit, ancestor, aspect of nature, ideal, or living person

Some may balk at first glance at a shared meal with an ideal, but think of the practice of a toast: “to health and happiness” or “to success” are perfectly common toasts.  The drink is raised in honor of this recipient (symbolically shared with it?), then imbibed by the participants.

Please vote for as many as strongly appeal to you.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Thing on Thursday

Althing in Session, by W.G. CollingwoodThis post is part of a series of councils on matters vital to the future.  The name represents both the generic term for, you know, a thingie, as well as the Old Norse term for a council of elders: a Thing.

Each week from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice, Thing on Thursday explores a new controversy.  Participation is open to all – the more minds that come together, the better.  Those who have been vocal in the comments are as welcome as those quiet-but-devoted readers who have yet to venture a word.  We value all constructive opinions.

There are only a few rules:

  • be constructive – this is a council, so treat it as such
  • be respectful – no rants or flames

Comments will be taken into consideration as we determine the new direction of Humanistic Paganism.

So please make your voice heard in the comments!

2 Comments on “How do you enact a communal meal in ritual?

  1. In the Anishinabek traditions a ‘spirit plate’ is made. Every meal is a potluck and a portion of each dish is put onto this plate (often a piece of birch bark) If there is a sacred fire burning during this meal, it is placed in the fire. If not, then it is placed in the woods, most often in the western direction where the spirits go (this direction is where the dead go so it also involves the ancestors).

    Does anyone know what other cultural traditions do? I would like to know what is customary in Korea where you are Brandon 🙂

    • >I would like to know what is customary in Korea where you are Brandon 🙂

      Ah, yes. In Buddhist tradition in both Korea and Japan, things are offered to the honored beings on the Buddhist altars, then later eaten by the participants. I suspect the same for Korean Confucian tradition, but I’m not sure since there is very little observance of Confucian ritual anymore. I haven’t had the opportunity to witness any Korean shamanic rituals yet. Then the remaining major religion is Christianity (about 1/3 the pop.), which I assume would follow communion procedures according to traditions of the denomination, but I’ve never actually witnessed any.

%d bloggers like this: