What six methods of prayer does Ceisiwr Serith describe? Briefly suggest an example of how you might employ each in your personal worship practices. You may include worship with a group if applicable. (Minimum 200 words)
Ceisiwr Serith gives a good synopsis of the six methods of prayer in his book “A Book of Pagan Prayer” in order to explain why it is that we pray. Many of these are fairly straight forward and self-explanatory. He describes his six methods as:
- Prayer through Words
- Prayer through Posture
- Prayer through Motion
- Prayer through Dance
- Prayer through Music
- Prayer through Gestures
Prayer through Words
You can speak your prayer through words loudly, you may speak softly, you can semi-chant your words like a song, or you can pray silently. His main emphasis, no matter what type of prayer through words you choose, is that you speak distinctly and deliberately. Don’t put too much focus on your words as to take away from the emotion behind them, but always be clear. In public ritual it is just as important to speak distinctly so that participants can hear and participate in the focus and meaning of the words.
In my private practice at home, if I am alone, the prayers are usually silent. However, with the incorporation of my fiance over the last 2 years or so, having someone to participate in ritual with me allows me to put more focus on a “group mind”, rather than just my own. Our words are spoken together in our ritual space and in a normal tone.
I am also grossly involved in two public groups with kin. My ADF Grove, CedarLight, and my Anglo-Saxon Kindred, Great Valley. In these settings, where I have to also incorporate the energies of new and old guests, and on a very regular basis, my words must be projected for all of the participants.
Prayer through Posture
Prayer through Posture is purposefully positioning your body to send a correct message (say that 5 times fast). Ceisiwr uses the example of being called into a bosses office, and whether you would stand respectfully or slouch while speaking to them. The same type of logical mindset is present in our rituals with the Gods that we worship. The position of your body can send a message with your prayer, it can enhance your prayer in your own mental state, and it can show a message to anyone gathered with you in public ritual. If you are disrespectful or perceivingly bored, it will affect the entire flow of ritual.
A popular Western posture, and even in some of the ADF rites I’ve seen, kneeling is a preferred posture of prayer. For me, however, my knees are too ruined for me to sustain such as position and still be able to establish the flow of ritual succinctly. My preferred method of prayer is standing straight with my arms bent forward in front of me and my palms to the sky. The body would be straight and purposeful, not dull and lazy. This is also the same position I would use in public ritual, as it is familiar to most participants and easy for most everyone to do, even if they are handicapped.
Prayer through Motion
Motion in prayer is like a signal showing that something has changed or is meant to move into a new direction. Serith also explains that the motion can also convey that the change matters enough to justify making an extra effort. Some examples of motions I’ve seen in our public rites are the procession as a prayer of motion acknowledging the gathering of the people. We often use sickles to represent the three gates and will motion them as being pulled a part as a representation of the gates being opened. During many of our invocations, Caryn and I will walk around the sacred space to not only make sure everyone in the circle can hear us, but also as a ritual motion depending on what our invocation dictates.
In my personal practice at home, motion is less of a part of ritual unless it is to smudge, drink from the horn, raise the horn, or a relative act that signifies an important part of ritual. The motions seem more necessary in public rites for public participants.
Prayer through Dance
Dancing is a very energetic and appropriate method of prayer, but is not included in my personal practice at home at all. However, we use it often at CedarLight in public ritual. We are limited in our motions in public ritual when including the entire group, due to group dynamics and size, but it is still very effective. This shows that even subtle movements are very powerful, indicating this as a very important type of prayer. I’ve seen dance uses as an offering, such as a special dance for a particular deity. The idea of dance as a prayer is like a sacrifice of energy as part of the prayer, which can only enhance it’s potency.
Prayer through Music
Music, for me is probably one of the most sacred forms of prayer. Music is very mathematical, and there is no getting around having proper calculations in order to create music. These types of calculations include rhythms and harmonies of notes, which require forethought and mental acuity. It is my very passionate opinion that rhythm is the #1 method for establish a group mind, usually through drumming. It is also the #1 method of keeping the group mind established through the entire course of the ritual. The heartbeat of the earth is what can link all of our heartbeats together. It can raise energy and it can ground energy, either way it will direct the energy in any way you wish it to go. The creation of custom songs for offering, the participation of ritual attendees in raising energy through song, and the enjoyment of the ritual goers and the Gods at the entertainment, all make up the powerful aspects of Prayer through Music.
Prayer through Gestures
Prayer through Motions and Prayer through Gestures are pretty much the same thing, except perhaps more subtle and more for ritual dramatics than anything. My gestures are fairly similar to what I spoke about earlier. They may change depending on the point of ritual I am in at the time. My palms are usually faced upwards if I am sending energy upwards, and they are facing down if I am directing energy downwards, such as when honoring the Ancestors. I may direct them in front of me when creating the cosmos with the fire, well, and tree, but they are always purposeful and not overpowering to the ritual flow.
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