A Bit of a Prayer-Card Conundrum

So I love the prayer card project that I’ve been working on for the past few years and I’ve had some really great artists and poets and prayer-writers contribute, some amazing people stepping forward to sponsor cards, and lots of requests to add Deities to my ‘to-do’ list but now I have a bit of a conundrum. I’m posting here because I’m looking for insight and I’m hoping some of you will share your thoughts on this matter.

Before I left for my pilgrimage, a colleague requested that I do a prayer card for my adopted mom Fuensanta. Many of us honor her as a sancta, a saint and many people have told me how much she’s helped them even after death with their devotional lives. I was a bit floored and sort of sat with the request for quite some time, finally doing divination on it. The answer is no, as much as I agree that she is a sancta, I won’t be making a prayer card for her.

My main reason for deciding not to, is that she would be sooo pissed if I did! Seriously, folks, she was intensely devoted to her Gods and would be horrified, absolutely horrified at the thought of being given reverence instead of having that put to the Gods. She also hated having photos of herself taken, and very much wanted to go to her Gods when she died leaving no part of herself here in Midgard. To her, I think the idea of venerating her in this way would be deeply troubling if not offensive. I respect that. Moreover, just to be sure, I did extensive divination and it was definitely a no on making her a card. In fact, it couldn’t have been a more emphatic no.

I think, knowing my mom as I did, that so long as there was a single one of our Gods not receiving veneration, so long as there was a single one of our Gods without prayer cards and statues and the like, she would refuse one of her own. I respect that, and I will abide by her wishes. This does bring up an interesting question though: how do you all feel about cards for our sancti, our holy men and women?

I understand the need for these guides and models and to me, it’s almost an extension of hero cultus, but I have no idea how I’d even manage to work it into the cards. Is it something that you all want?

I think there is power in reverencing our saints and heroes. I think it is right and proper to venerate our dead but I’m not quite sure how to work that into the cards or if that’s even an appropriate venue at this time. So what are everyone’s thoughts? I didn’t expect this to come up, but since it has, I welcome your insights.

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Posted on August 9, 2015, in Prayer cards and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I honestly think that it’s a great idea. I have found myself wishing for a roll of recent Pagan and Polytheist Ancestors, and have been considering starting one up as the communities that I have belonged to definitely have their own beloved and guiding Dead.

    The cards don’t necessarily need a prayer to them; you could include a quote or piece of liturgy that they are widely known for. Or you could include prayers to them; I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t.

    You are very consciously connected to the Ancestors and I’d trust your judgement in choosing which ones are all right with this project. Are there any others that you’ve asked?

    Liked by 1 person

    • ganglerisgrove

      Laine, i keep a list of our Pagan and Polytheist heroes and martyrs where I try to keep updated list of our recent dead…..I’m still pondering this and i’m grateful for everyone’s input here, btw. it’s giving me a lot to think about.

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  2. I’m fine with it, as it’s basically a focus within Ancestor Reverence.

    It makes sense to do divination, first, to be certain that the person A: Is ready, having joined the ancestors and all, and B: Is willing (although I’m a little bloody-minded about it. Some people refuse the honors and respect they fully deserve, and that’s not actually a good thing about them).

    I agree that we don’t necessarily have to have them be prayers TO them, especially if they’re not comfortable with it. It could be quoting them, as Laine suggests, or a brief bio reminding us of their influence in life.

    We could carry them as part of portable ancestor altars.

    If you were wary of them being the same as god cards, you could have some kind of Ancestor framing device that makes it clear they’re part of an Ancestors of Spirit set. Or have them be a different shape or size from the deity cards.

    I like the idea of the images of them being drawn, even if they’re based on photos, rather than using photos directly. It has a certain… it feels like the kind of transition from living to ancestor? The photo reflects them as living, the portrait as an ancestor…

    -E-

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good question, Galina. In the past, I had thought about e-mailing you re. creating prayer cards for the Emperor Julian and Hypatia. But then I decided not to e-mail you because there are a lot of Gods who still need prayer cards and it is a costly project.

    Having said that, I think having prayer cards for our ancestors, and saints is a good idea and worthwhile. I guess it depends on the timing and the cost.

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    • Good point about the costs involved. Could we perhaps instead have a sort of community project of the Ancestor cards being images people choose to make and post for community Commons, and anyone who wants it can print it or not at their own expense? The quality would be quite a bit more varied, but that would make it a different kind and nature of effort than the God cards that would further serve to differentiate, while opening the project up to whoever a person wishes to honor in this manner…

      -E-

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      • ganglerisgrove

        we need also to be aware of legalities. The last thing anyone needs is someone’s estate coming after one of us. (and don’t tell me it couldn’t happen; yes, it could).

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      • Of course it could! Although it would naturally depend on how and what information was used. I mean, anyone can *try* suing in the US, but not all efforts have legal legs to stand on. If you’re not transgressing any copyrights, nor maligning anyone, they’re not going to get very far, and some amount of quoting work is fair use. Which is part of why it might be more functional if they’re made on a totally no-profit basis, actually… -E-

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  4. I think prayer cards for our ancestors, Saints, and Heroes is a wonderful idea. I would even like to see prayer cards for the land wights. Any tool for the worship of our Powers is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. The more we have the better.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think it’s a great idea in general… there’s a precedent for it in the reverence for Marie Laveau amongst New Orleans Vodouisants. But people like that “belong to the ages” (words used about one of our national Mighty Dead)… It may be that as long as there are living people who have a direct connection with the ancestor in question, it may be too soon, or at least the matter should be approached with divination and consideration. Certainly proceeding the way you did is going to be a good idea in almost all cases.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ganglerisgrove

    what i might do in the interim is a standard ancestor card….got a couple of ideas

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m actually a little surprised to hear that there aren’t already at least one Ancestor and one Landvaettir card. I can see a use for several categories of them, still general enough to not be transgressing any personal boundaries. A card for each category of Ancestors much the way PSVL did at MGW, or the way it’s broken down in the prayer I use, or the posts several have made…

      -E-

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      • ganglerisgrove

        I have two page list of Gods to do still. I just haven’t gotten around to it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sure, I’m not arguing that you’ve done things in the wrong order or anything! Just that yeah, there may be ways to handle this on a non-incidental but still general basis.

        I assume if someone hands you suitable artwork, that bumps the card up in the queue? -E-

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  7. ganglerisgrove

    Ember, an estate could still cause a great deal of financial hardship. I can guarantee that all it would take is one family objecting to the Pagan or Polytheist use of a deceased family member’s name/image, etc. and there would be a court battle. they might lose, but it would still be costly. (I hadn’t thought of this, but it was actually something my attorney cautioned).

    I’m going to sit with this for a bit. In the meantime, I’ll work on a generic ancestor card.

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  8. ganglerisgrove

    Yes and i’ve had quite a few donations of art work. The artists i’m working with have been very, very generous and several people have stepped forward to donate art.

    I have turned down some art due to lack of suitability but I’ve had some lovely donations. Several people have stepped forward to sponsor cards too (even when the art is donated, the cards don’t print themselves), which has been lovely. I expect this project will be ongoing for quite some time.

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  9. What about using symbols instead of images of people?

    For example, a prayer card for the Disir might have an ornate bunch of keys, or a spindle and ball of yarn or thread. A card for one’s nisse could have a drawing of a candle next to a steaming bowl. One could use drawings of birds, plants (maybe use ‘state ‘ Or national birds/ animals/ plants for land or protective vaettir) in the cases of local folk heroes, there’s usually an object associated with the hero. Drawings of objects might minimize legal risks, though some may feel that’s too abstract.

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  1. Pingback: Prayers to the Landvaettir | Sarenth Odinsson's Blog

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