Now here, too, we are dealing with spheres wherein change has already, or must inevitably occur.
As applies the former, we can point quite directly to the Shatapatha Brahmana literature dealing with the Vedic metaphysics of sacrifice – and the allowable shift and progression which has taken place from various forms of live-animal offering, through to vegetarian preparations. It is interesting to note that these are at pains to emphasize that the ‘essence’ of the offering has significantly remained unchanged; although I would add to that by observing that there are indeed some perhaps peripheral differences of ‘essence’ between slaughtering an animal and offering desserts or fruits that should be acknowledged.
And as applies the latter, in those revivalist areas wherein the authentic and archaic religious rite has not been passed down to us, then any endeavour at reconstruction is quite logically running upon exactly this: getting the ‘spirit’, the ‘essence’, the ‘point’ and the ‘purpose’ and as much of the relevant metaphysics of the rite right , while acknowledging that the fulsome exterior ‘forms’ and their attendant metaphysical imputations, are by force of necessity, having to shift so that we may perform something instead of nothing at all.
It is a fraught business, and personally I am glad that over here in the Hindu-sphere, we do not have this problem. We have many the ancient rites passed down unbroken and understood, for some three and a half, four thousand years now. We do not need to engage in full-scale metaphysical archaeology as some other Indo-European religious efforts do even to have more than the most basic ‘performative’ core.
However, that does not mean that ‘innovation’ does not occur for us. At the lower end of the spectrum, I have occasionally been amused to see Cadbury chocolate bars offered along with fruits to the Murtis at Mandir … or, perhaps more fittingly, Lewis Rd Creamery chocolate milk turn up proximate to the ShivLing (for our international readership, this is a New Zealand brand of chocolate milk that .. is apparently so good that when it was released here, supermarkets were posting security guards at the milk-fridges due to fights breaking out over it in the aisles).
More interestingly, there have also been various services offered by proper Pandits in India for the Hindu Diaspora,wherein a Puja [‘ritual’/’prayer’] is carried out via Skype – the logic being that as much of what ‘entangles’ the recipient of the rite therein, is a combination of what is said by both Priest and supplicant, as well as certain physical gestures, and of course, the Intent and Understanding of the Practitioner … a video-call provides a decent conduit across physical space to enable even people located on opposite sides of the planet to participate in the same ritual occurrence.
My position on that is that while I can see how the ‘Essence’ is significantly maintained (and there are some other theological precepts that may make it all rather more viable than it might otherwise perhaps seem) even through the significant updating in ‘form’ and ‘functionality’ which integrating a webcam into proceedings obviously entails … I am nevertheless of the opinion that a Puja carried out via such means is a substitute rather than a true equivalent to the authentic and proper experience.
The ‘core’ essence may have remained the same, yet some of those peripherals have unquestionably altered somewhat, and in a manner that I do not think it prudent to entirely discount.
But one area wherein the updating of ‘forms’ and the continuation of ‘essence’ applies to both Weapons and Rites (weapons, it must be said, of a somewhat different sort), is in the Hindu practice of Astra Puja – ‘Weapons Worship’/Blessing.
The Blessing of Weapons (or, for that matter other tools of one’s profession) is hardly unique to Hinduism, even in this Modern Age. Clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church carry out such benedictions upon the rifles and bombs of that country’s military with regularity – although there has been recent discussion around the Priesthood potentially refraining from blessing nuclear weapons in future.
It would also not surprise me to find that Germanic revivalists might mark a service weapon with a Tiwaz rune.
We often speak, somewhat memetically, of “Bronze Age Solutions For Modern Problems” – which is another way of saying the application of ancient ‘essence’ to modern circumstances. Yet as the ‘expression’ of that ‘essence’ has had to alter somewhat – shifting from swords raised in defence of the Motherland, to assault rifles wielded for same – it could fairly be suggested that the application of a Puja such as this to a modern machine gun represents a ‘Bronze-ifying’ (certainly, an older Indo-European-izing) of a Modern problem-solving tool.
A “Bronze Age Augmentation” for a modern solution to an age-old problem.
Yet with the enduring ‘essence(s)’ of Piety and of Martial Vigour which is both intrinsic and immanent to (Proto-Indo-European) ‘Men’.
There is much more that can and should be said upon pretty much all of the above.
But continuing with my apparent theme of unorthodox sources of edifying orthodoxy, there are a words of a certain recent US President which I have found perhaps surprisingly apt for the situation:
“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends […] these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”