Ghosti – hospitality & reciprocity in paganism

Reciprocity is at the root of our relationship with other people and with the gods, and at the nature of the cosmos. IE spirituality doesn’t follow religious texts, but rather a fluid understanding of order, disorder, sacrifice, reciprocity and hospitality. It is so crucial that our PIE ancestors even had a word for it – ghosti, or the ghosti principle. The word means “one with whom one has a reciprocal obligation of hospitality”. Etymologically ghosti is actually the root of both guest and host at the same time. And this is exactly what it implies – that relations are created through the exchange of gifts, of receiving and being obliged to reciprocate those gifts. The virtue of generosity. There is an interaction among people, and between people and the gods, according to the laws of hospitality. Reality lies in relationships. And those relationships are beautiful only if reciprocal. Reality is about exchange, on every level from that between Chaos and Cosmos to that between friends. Society is bound together by an exchange of gifts, by acting as guest on one occasion and host on another. Just like dharma it designates behaviors necessary for the order of things in the universe. That which all beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. Paganism is about understanding life and the divine by observing nature. And in nature we of course also see this reciprocity, harmony and exchange. We see it in the form of balance.


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