Ghosti is one concept from my ancestors that I learned about during my time studying along the ADF Druidic path. It is an excellent word to describe hospitality and the guest / host relationship as it applies to our dealings with the Kindred ( Our Ancestors, Gods and Nature Spirits) as well as with one another. I hope to pass this along to others.
This somewhat strange looking word, ghos-ti, is an early Indo-European one which refers to the guest and host relationship of hospitality. As a matter of fact our modern words “guest” and “host” both come from this word. When we speak of the concepts of being both a good host and a good guest these concepts have their root in this ancient Indo-European word and proper conduct on both sides of this relationship have long been laid out in the religions of those whose ancestry stems from this source.
The idea of offering food and drink to a guest in one’s home as well as that of bringing a gift when visiting someone’s home come from this ancient concept of ghosti. Also, the history of the hunger strike derives from the old indo-European practice of refusing food and drink in protest if a host has treated one poorly. Hence the reason some cultures feel insulted if one refuses their hospitality of food and drink while visiting.
There also exists within this concept of ghosti, the idea of “a gift for a gift,” where we seek to give to the Kindred so that we may open a relationship in which they may reciprocate (not in the knowledge that they will reciprocate, but in the hope). Our interactions with the Kindred are based on the idea that “the same hands that reach out to give also reach out to receive.”
A “gift for a gift” is not a one-to-one exchange, though. It is not “I bought you a $15 meal yesterday: today, you have to buy me $15 worth of food.” You would not participate in that relationship very long, and neither will the Kindreds. A ghosti relationship is more like having a friend with whom you have been to dinner so many times that neither one of you remembers whose turn it is to pick up the check. When the check arrives, you do not break out your tally sheets and calculators, seeking to determine who owes what and who paid for which meal last; instead, one person simply grabs the check and, should the other protest, the response is always, “Oh, I’ve got this one. You can get the next one.” In these cases, the relationship is more valuable than the check could possibly be, and the understanding is that the second person values the relationship just as much and would have done the exact same thing if he’d been a hair faster.
Our relationship with our gods, ancestors and nature spirits is one of reciprocity, much like the friends sharing dinner.
The previous two paragraphs are from the ADF website at: https://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nine-tenets.html
Here is another informative article on the subject as well:
For more great articles on topics of this nature check out Ceisiwr Serith’s Homepage.