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Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice in ADF, Question 3

What arguments does Ceisiwr Serith make in support of set prayers (as opposed to spontaneous prayers)? Discuss how these arguments apply (or do not apply) to solitary Pagan prayer. (Minimum 200 words)

Memorized (or "set") prayers have an uncanny ability to cause things to jump out at you in the middle of recitation. (Serith, 18) It is quite often that I will be repeating a prayer that I know by heart and will suddenly see a deeper meaning to the words than I did only moments ago. An interesting parallel in song might be my recent realization that the Pinball Wizard was "deaf, dumb and blind," a line I knew and had sung many times over, but did not realize that he was a "wizard" because of his disability, not because he wore a robe and a pointed hat, as I had so often envisioned.

Memorization also allows us to retrieve words when words fail us. (Serith, 66) At times in our lives that we need words the most to express ourselves and comfort ourselves, we often find solace in prayers, songs, and scriptures that are memorized. Serith calls this "deepening," when prayer becomes subconscious and a part of you. (Serith, 67) Spontaneous prayer cannot become a part of you in the way that memorized/set prayers can. It leads to a clarity and an understanding of problems in a whole other way. A good parallel might be the Jewish practice of memorizing scripture: it becomes so well-ingrained in their mind that it affects their worldview, and someone with a large selection of memorized scripture will often recall the scripture in order to solve a problem.

Prayer for a group also requires that prayers be set, as it is difficult for a group of two or more to arrive at the same inspiration at the same time, thus making repeating the same inspired prayer rather difficult.

These particular advantages of set prayers can generally be applied to Solitary persons, as well. "Deepening," for instance, is an almost exclusively personal and solitary action. Recalling words when words are failing, too, is a solitary action. Even the issues with group prayer can affect solitaries, who may "remotely" join in on a distant rite. A prime example is the ADF Unity Rite, which has a set time and things that solitaries can say at the same time in order to be part of the community at that time. These prayers cannot be spontaneous if the solitary is to achieve "remote access."


Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Weiser, 2003.


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