Iariâ Delu̯iâs/Delu̯ânon (Icon dedication)
While there aren’t many examples of pre-Roman Celtic iconography for explicit temple or hearth cultus, we understand that during the Gallo-Roman period experienced an emergence of altars with epigraphy and art work dedicated to gods by certain people in a votum format.
Senobessus Bolgon encourages whatever stance the Bolgos/Bolga/Bolgon takes, whether they be iconic or aniconic. For those who will use icons, in this piece we will innovate a formula for one to sacralize and dedicate a delu̯â (icon/image) towards a deu̯on (neuter form of ‘god) and/or scâxlon.
Prāṅa pratiṣṭha is a Hinduism ceremony in which a god is invited to be a guest in the murti (image/icon/vessel for god). It is a lengthy process which in simplest terms treats the god as a guest. A similar process for Jain’s is the añjana śalākā, in which the goal is to open the eyes of the murti. Both processes utilize hospitality as well as an awakening involving a mixture of ghee butter, honey, and water being coated on the eyes of the murti, and then removed to ‘awaken’ the god .
Germanic sacralization has very little attestation, but the bits we do have are interesting to say the least. Christianized Franks, at least in one instance involving King Clovis, utilized a tossing of a Francisca. Where it landed, Clovis vowed to build a church. One can’t say for certain if this is a pre-Christian methodology of sacralization, but it is reminiscent of a ritual done by the Lombards:
They expressed a religious veneration to a golden viper, and prostrated themselves before it: they paid also a superstitious honour to a tree, on which they hung the skin of a wild beast, and these ceremonies were closed by public games, in which the skin served for a mark at which bowmen shot arrows over their shoulder.
There is also an instance recorded by Bede involving Coifi, an Anglo-Saxon priest of Woden, in which he throws a spear at the temple altar and then burns it to the ground.
What the author takes from this is that the passing of weapons over a place or object seems to be the motif for dedication and sacralization (as well as DE-sacralization) in some religious instances for the Germanic speaking peoples. This would then rationalize one more reason as to why weapons were not allowed in the sacred space once consecrated in many Indo-European faiths.
The author could not find many examples of Celtic dedicatory rites, though Jean Louis Brunaux has an interesting story:
The first necessity was a roof, which was for a long time the principal feature of temples, as it is of houses. This is particularly clear in the story that Strabo retells from Posidonius: there was a temple on an island opposite the mouth of the Loire, which was maintained exclusively by women.
Once a year they removed the roof of the temple and had to reconstruct it before sunset on the same day, working altogether. Each woman had to bring her load of roofing material, which she was forbidden to drop. If this happened, her companions immediately fell upon her, tore her limb from limb, and ran around the temple brandishing the remains like furies. We must surely not see in this a description of an actual ritual, but more likely a mythological explanation for a festival that consisted of the symbolic reconstruction of the temple by changing what was surely an outmoded roof of leaves and branches.
This once again hammers the idea that circumambulating around the sacred center is a key component in ritual, and must be involved in dedication to the sacred.
We therefore have three components to dedications of delu̯âs;
- Passing weapons over the icon.
- Hospitality towards the god who is invited to rest inside the delu̯â.
- Circumambulation of sorts.
Before the icon dedication can begin, we would inscribe the icon with whom we are dedicating it to. It would be appropriate to use the attested Gaulish epigraphic dedicatory inscription formula found in Gallo-Greek examples as well; _____ (nominative dedicator) dedê/dede _____ (theonym in dative) bratoudekantem (or bratou as attestedly abbreviated).
It could also be further shortened potentially to first letters like the Romans did with VSLM.
After the ‘inscription’ on the icon is made, we can then begin the dedication.
Coros (Weapons throw/placement) – Any weapon may do. This is symbolic gesture of how the deu̯on can not be hurt by weaponry but also that they are protected by guest rights/hospitality (Oigetocariâ). After which, this can be said aloud: Arna-mi sin delu̯in ____ (theonym in dative).
Oigetocariâ (Hospitality) – This is a three day period in which food offerings are made to the god in question, while a mixture of honey, ghee (clarified butter) and water are rubbed on the eyes of the delu̯â. This is a mixture that ‘cleans/bathes’ the god. Food offerings can be simple or elaborate, depending on dedicant circumstances. It’s recommended the icon is located in a central area, but it is not a dealbreaker otherwise.
Dexiu̯osu̯elos (Circumambulation) – This is a simultaneous action within Oigetocariâ; a clockwise orientation around the delu̯â which ends in a presentation of the offering to the god.
After the three days are completed, the mixture can be removed from the eyes. This completes the dedication.
- Murti Pratishtha – https://www.baps.org/cultureandheritage/Traditions/HinduPractices/MurtiPratishtha.aspx
- “An Overview of the Jain Purāṇas,” in Purāṇa Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts ed. Wendy Doniger p. 197
- Liber Historiae Francorum – Concerning God’s Miracles revealed to Clovis a result of which he defeated the Goths and killed Alaric p. 50
- The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints: Vol.I by Rev. Alban Butler
- Who’s who in Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England by Richard A. Fletcher p.35
- Ecclesiastical History of the English People by the Venerable Bede
- The Celtic Gauls: Gods, Rites, and Sanctuaries 1987 by Jean Louis Brunaux p. 31