Dominus Ingui: ritual tools

The purpose of this post is to list the main ritual tools of Ingui’s Latinized cult, in what is both an exercise on practically and symbolism. The former because it allows posts on ceremonies to focus on the sequence of gestures and words, as a constantly interrupted or fragmented explanation is a bad one; the latter because ritual tools are also a good way to represent religious practices. Consider, for instance, how the lituus was both an instrument and a symbol of the augurs in ancient Rome. Or how the mitre and the crosier are used by Christian bishops and employed on clerical heraldry.

Wheat wreath
Just as laurel wreaths are used in ritus graecus, I enjoy the idea of wearing a wheat wreath in Ingui’s ceremonies. For one, because it’s highly symbolic: He’s the god of the fertile land, of the seed and crops, of death that nurtures life, of abundance, generosity and prosperity, all of which can be conveyed by one of the most enduring symbols of agricultural work and success. It’s also a practical material: even if there are no wheat fields in your area, flower shops usually sell wheat ears and they can last years. As an extra, you can decorate your wreath with strings and ribbons, especially if they’re green, golden or brown.

Bell
Bells, as mentioned here, are not without precedent in Ingui’s cult and even if the medieval source is far from ideal. As a ritual tool, it can lend depth and a distinctive sound-quality to a ceremony – especially if two or more people take part and at least one bell is rang at key moments. Add the constant sound of a drum throughout the entire religious performance, much like flute-playing accompanied rites in ancient Rome, and there’s a good chance you can create a sense of veneration.

Branch
The use of tree branches in religious ceremonies is not unheard of in Norse polytheism. According to Snorri Sturluson, in chapter 14 of the Saga of Hákon the Good, the old heathens made hlautteinar or twigs with which they sprinkled the blood of sacrificed animals on temple walls and people. In my Latinized cult of Ingui, the branch serves the purpose of spreading the smoke at the start of the ceremony, which is opened with an initial offering and call to peace. There are several options as to which tree can supply the branch: the laurel is highly symbolic in Roman polytheism, the hazel and the pine are good Norse alternatives. It might be an issue of choosing a locally abundant species with a relevant meaning (divinity, peace, protection, life) and it doesn’t have to be big: something about the size of your hand does the job perfectly.

Hazel wand
The hazel, as said here, was used in the north to mark hallowed ground. In Ingui’s Latinized ceremonies, I use a small hazel wand to consecrate the offerings, much like a knife was used in ancient Rome to consecrate sacrificial animals.

There are, of course, other ritual instruments, such as spoons, a bowl or candles, but these are the most characteristic of my Latinized cult to Ingui. This is also not a closed list, since I may add more tools as I write new ceremonies.


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