Love it or hate it, we don’t live in the same world the ancients once inhabited. Do you shun all modern conveniences in your religious practice, or do you embrace them? That’s really up to you to decide. In actual practice, most people find some kind of compromise between past and present.
The ancients certainly didn’t have MP3 players and stereos to play music during their rites. But would they have used them if they had been available? That probably depends on the situation. Live performers do bring something special to an event that recorded music never will. However, when it’s just me at home in my room, I do turn the stereo on. It’s relaxing. It sets the mood. Sometimes I even get requests for certain songs. It adds something that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
I’ve heard of some pagans keeping their ritual words on their iPads. I know someone who uses electric tealights on their altar, so the cats don’t get into real candles and set their tails on fire! I also knew a Wiccan priestess who would not allow any electric thing inside her grove.
Recently, I finished digging a fish pond. I lined it with a heavy duty plastic liner. I dedicated the pond to Sobek, the Kemetic crocodile god, and one of my personal deities. That certainly wasn’t the way they used to make such pools, but I think if I had to do it the old-fashioned way, it simply wouldn’t have gotten done. I’m just one person.
Now that the pond is done, I can move on to the next project. I finally ordered my kiln! Learning to make Egyptian faience is my next project. They didn’t have electric kilns back then. Once again, if I had to have a big, wood fired deal in my backyard, it wouldn’t happen. I’m sure the city officials would have something to say if I tried it. But you know what? Faience itself is a man made material, one of the first ever invented. Old Kemet didn’t turn its nose up at new technology. They made all kinds of advances in medicine, writing, art, architecture, transportation, beauty and more. Would those old faience artisans look at my kiln and be jealous? Probably. Though I bet they’d like the larger ones better.
And yet, learning about faience is a nod to the past. I’d rather do this than Sculpey. I do like the sense of connection to the old ways. I like the sense of purity that comes with being able to pronounce the names of the few chemicals I’ll be playing with. There’s nothing wrong with Sculpey, or resin, figurines exactly. The ancients probably would have used them if they had them too. I’ve even given one as an offering. It was good because it was hand made and that’s what I had on hand. But if I make a similar one out of faience, then there’s that extra link to the old days. It makes a good thing better.
With most things in life, this is a subject to be taken as it comes. You do have to be practical and use what’s on hand. Technology really does make some things work better. Looking back and making connections has its benefits too.