A few weeks ago (give or take), after I"d posted about one of House Sankofa's rituals, one of my readers asked me a really insightful question. He was curious about what differences I might have noticed between the Greek/Mediterranean Powers as opposed to the Norse Powers to Whom I am given. I'd never thought about it much, beyond acknowledging that there were two very distinct protocols to follow, but I have to say, after having participated in several Hellenic rituals, there is a marked difference in the feel of the Numinous Powers involved.
Of course, this is subjective. I can only describe those sensory differences by trying to describe, to the best of my ability, the information gleaned by virtue of my sensorium: sight, sound, smell, taste, feel. Not having discussed this with anyone else familiar with both families of Deities, I'm not sure that others' experiences would yield the same sensory description. Still, it was an intriguing question so I'm going to give it a go.
I think the most obvious difference for me is that the Greek Powers when compared with the Norse Powers have a dramatically different "frequency" of energy. The kinesthetic feel of Their Presence is completely different. For me, the difference in experiencing the Norse and Greek Powers is like moving from a frozen tundra, a stony cliff hewn cave temple to an open air mountain shrine. It's the difference between ice capped stone and chilly, clean, bright wind. That's the best analogy I can come up with right now. It's different, but They are all different Gods so that makes sense.
Of course there's different ritual protocol, and there seems to be more emphasis on ritual cleanliness before, during, and after rites involving Greek Deities. I've never been pushed to physically cleanse (often with use of kernips or lustral water) prior to a ritual with the Norse (though I might personally choose to do so) whereas this is usually very, very strong prior to rites involving the Greek Powers. I personally also find the Norse Powers heavier and denser in feel when They are present and the Greek Powers brighter and broader but that's very subjective kinesthetic experience, and also me trying to put into the net of language what is very difficult to express. I did find that because I'm not accustomed to the Greek Deities so much, it took much less exposure to Their presence, and the energy of the ritual to get me light headed. I have a fairly strong tolerance for the type of liminal flow of things that occurs in a competent ritual setting when the Powers are properly invoked. I'm usually the one responsible for holding the container of the ritual space so really, this tolerance is a necessity and it's one built up over twenty years of ongoing ritual and devotional work. It's the spiritual equivalent of working out regularly to build up one's muscles! Because of that experience I can withstand a significant degree of numinous energy before either falling into a deeply altered state or becoming radically ungrounded. That is not the case with the Greek Powers. When I am dealing with the Greek Powers, I go hard and fast into an altered state, because I am not accustomed to Them and Their Presence yet. At the same time, I am extremely sensitive to the feel of Their Presence. I think these two things go hand in hand in contributing to how easily I fall into liminality in Their presence.
There are other differences that translate to my senses in terms of shading but words are inadequate to the telling. I have found that the Greek Powers tend to want things a bit more orderly than the Norse and there is more of a sense of everything and everyone in its place (not in terms of rank, but in terms of structure and flow of the ritual). This doesn't *always* hold true (depends on the Deity) but often. For both, the idea of ancestor cultus is present, and with the Greeks there was more of a devotional push toward hero cultus as well. I'm culling these impressions in retrospect from the rituals in which I've participated. Certainly navigating between two different ritual protocols has made me far more aware of my own behavior and mindful participation during any ritual. That to me, is a blessing.
I would love to hear from others who have experience with both the Greek and Norse Powers. How would you describe the differences in feel?