I have decided to write this post about the "Cult" after having followed many discussions about this issue in many blogs. In particular I'd like to reflect about this idea also considering the way through which many italian neo-pagan associations tend to discuss this topic.
The word "Cult" and its meaning derive from the concept of "ColereDeos/Deas". This is a very complex concept and its complexity derives also by the fact that in the modern languages there are no adequate words useful to correctly describe its inner sense and meaning. We have to use symbols or verbal imageries (sometimes with a strong poetic value) in the effort to describe its meaning.
Of course, I've got no intention to discuss here the concept of "Colere Deos/Deas" (some personal considerations about it can be found here). It is important to highlight however that Cult is not a "way", a "tool", " a "goal": Cult is essentially a "practice".
For this reason, the idea of Cult is totally different from the idea of "preyer" in a conventional and profane sense: Cult has no link with the possibility to satisfy a desire, there is nothing to request, nobody is implored.
Nonetheless, above all many reconstructionist associations tend to identify the Cult (and the related rites) through very detailed instructions to be carefully followed. Sometimes they are inspired to a such a formal strictness to exclude those considered not enough adherent to these rules. It means that an exaggerated importance is given solely to the formal side of the Cult: they are forgetting the essence of the Traditional Cult and the rites.
I believe that establishing a personal Cult following, in an obtuse way, a structure of rigid rules is a great mistake. Similarly I think that such approach shows that the real essence of the Traditional Roman Cult has been lost or at least misunderstood.
It's clear enough that following certain indications, at the base of a Cult's structure, is surely fundamental to make this Cult a "Via". These indications remain critical elements because they compose our "compass" to direct us during our walking along the "path": we find them in our rites and in the modalities through which we approach the Divine and how we can acknowledge Gods and Goddesses in the World.
It is thus important to give the right role and value to the Formal Cult materialized into these rites. Similarly, it is however important not to forget that another Cult may emerge beyond the formal rites, a Cult appearing in the everyday life. Having a meal, our relations in the family and with friends, our social relations, how we express our civil and political duties, our relations with the natural environment: all this is part of the Cult. It is essential not to forget it.
The Traditional Roman Religion ripudiates violence, intolerance, fanaticism, stupidity, discrimination. These are typical features of the most dangerous follies of the spirit: greed and rage. It is not possible to follow the Via without this necessary spiritual honesty: maybe someone will play acting like a Roman, but surely he/she is not practicing the Cult.
When we have a profund and sound Fides, a clear awareness, a quiet force inspiring us, then our Inner Cult will fill every activity of our life, even those not directly involved with formal rites. It is not a problem of faith: it important to stop distinguishing formal rites from everyday activities.Our entire life may become a liturgy.
A strong Inner Cult can give a sense and value to formal rites as well as to any action we make in our everyday life. Some time ago I wrote to a Cultor that the first Lararium we have to built is inside our heart. Otherwise we will remain definitively blocked in a folkloristic dimension.
No morbose devotion, suggestion, humiliation are necessary to achieve such a result. it is important to be able to make our inner voice audible and in harmony with the Gods' and Goddesses' voices within an inner silence. This inner peace and immobility, this status of calmness, is a specific experience varying from person to person having however the power to direct the individual action. It is very difficult to put in practice this condition as well as awakening the personal Inner Cult: it is impossible to learn it from books. It is necessary high perseverance and a magister's support.
The most important thing however is, in rituals as well as in everyday life to create, achieve and maintain a condition of "personal inner peace" in any condition we are. Surely this is a good start.