Week 20 – DPWotY

This week sees us looking at the Nine Noble Virtues again, the virtue for the week is Vision which Our Own Druidry defines as ‘The ability to broaden one’s perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present, and future.’

The Oxford dictionary online defines vision literally as ‘The faculty or state of being able to see.’ or what is more in context with what we are looking at as ‘The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.’

DPWotY asks us to read the Our Own Druidry version until we think we have some understanding of it, then we need to decide whether this covers vision in our own eyes. Is it just a matter of seeing and understanding or is there more to it?

I would say that the Our Own Druidry definition is a decent one, especially in a religious context but it isn’t enough to just see our place/role in the cosmos, we need to see how we can use that to better things, to give back to the Earth Mother in some way and for that we need to be able to use the Oxford dictionary idea of planning with imagination or wisdom, probably a little of both.

Dangler then asks us what we think understanding our place/role in the cosmos means and whether it sits comfortably. Also whether we understand the use of past, present and future in the definition.

I think it is important for us to try and realize that as an Earth Mother/Nature Worshipping religion that we are a small part of a larger whole. I suspect it is trying to get us to take a holistic approach to things in some ways. Our actions affect the planet, the ecosystem and each other and our role should be to help protect all of these things responsibly and to look after them.

The use of past, present and future is I suspect continuing on the holistic approach, we need to understand what has happened in the past, is happening in the present to be able to think about what to do in the future.

Do these terms sit well with me? Yes, I think they are trying to teach us responsible practice and to think outside the box. Therefor they sit quite well.

For me vision is a dual thing, on one hand it is seeing, we see things around us, what has happened and what could happen. On the other hand we envision with our imagination and see what could be, plan, think, hope, pray and scheme ways to make something a reality. I think both of these work well in a religious aspect, and as a noble virtue because it helps make practitioners think and plan and not blindly follow.

A good example of someone who is a visionary is our local Senior Druid, she had a vision to found a grove in Australia and for ten years has worked on that vision, making it a successful reality. She looked at what had come before, what existed now and planned for a better future. Some might argue that it is a small vision but not all visionaries have to accomplish earth shattering things, sometimes one small step leads to another, and another until they have accomplished a number of things that has a large affect.

I’ve worked in Event Management, I sometimes feel this requires a lot of vision, to pull together a team, a venue and everything else and run a successful event takes a lot of effort, planning and imagination. Acheiving it feels amazing, I wouldn’t have ever thought of it as being visionary until this essay, I certainly didn’t think of it as a virtue.

I’ve been part of a team that failed at succeeding to pull off an event, it was bitterly disappointing and the failure stung, we had a vision, we just didn’t have a strong team effort, or plan to pull it all together. I kicked myself for months over not assuming the leadership role, when it was shown that we were lacking a strong leader, I think it was a fear based choice not to.

I suppose really vision is a virtue that is required in neo-paganism and neo-druidry, we are creating something, not just for ourselves, but for others and for future generations. This requires vision, planning and dedication to ensure we are leaving something for those that come after. So if vision is necessary for this, which it is, therefore it is most certainly a virtue.

Week 19 – DPWotY

This week is a short week as far as the blog, week 19 has us taking our first looks at the Dedicant Oath and what it means to us, much as we are looking at what Our Druidry is to us and what our Hearth Culture means to us.

Although the Dedicant Oath is a while off yet (another 20 odd weeks from memory) Rev. Dangler suggests beginnning to look at it now, to figure out what talks to us about the ‘Old Ways’ and how our other paths interact with Neo-Pagan druidry if they do at all.

He also suggests that we consider our patrons and what they might like to see in our oaths, although it is strongly recommended not to make an oath to any particular one or thing in the Dedicant Oath it doesn’t mean that we can’t consider aspects that our patrons find favourable such as patience, wit and cunning (those three are examples I chose, not suggested by Rev. Dangler) and find a way that they fit into the Oath.

Finally we are doing more work on the ‘Inner Grove’ working towards finding a tool, this is continuing on from other weeks. I’ve downloaded the audio for this but haven’t had a whirl at it yet.

So to the questions we go!

What aspects of the Old Ways appeal to you most?

The sheer reverence for nature and the world around us, the fact that nature was important to our ancestors, even if someone of it could be said to be based on needing to understand the wild places and the harshness of their lands. They found wonder in life, the seasons and nature and through it a spiritual balance. Perhaps this is just me romantacising it but the joy and wonder I experience working in nature makes me certain I’m not.

Have you encountered any sorts of powers that have aided you?

Yes as I have discussed previously I have two patrons, of varying steadyness. I also feel that I have a firm grasp on a relationship with nature spirits, I deal with them almost daily gardening here on the edges of a small town. I’ve always made them welcome and tried to do things that they enjoy, like not using harsh chemicals if I can avoid it, providing food and shelter for wildlife and slowly building up the plants that are beneficial to bees, butterflies and birds. In return they always respond happily when I call on them and I seem to have more luck with my garden than me neighbours, despite the fact I have less money to spend on it.

Have you setttled on a specific Hearth Culture?

Yes. I came to ADF as a Heathen and I have retained that hearth culture, however my grove that I attend has a Celtic slant to it and I have ended up with a Celtic Patron, so although I tend to focus on Heathen aspects in my practice I try to make sure I keep balance with the Morrigan too. Whether this means that I will end up with a dual Hearth Culture practice at home I do not know. However I think that the hearth cultures work in well with ADF and Neo-Pagan druidry, and that there can be a balance maintained.

Do you have a/some patron(s)? What would they like to see in your oath do you think?

Yes. I have two. The first patron is Loki and the second and more recent one is the Morrigan.

I think the Morrigan wants to see honesty and realism, no promises made that cannot be kept. She is pragmatic in my experience, but also brave. I think she would like to see something about not shying away from challenges and being brave when it matters. Not foolish types of bravery though.

I think Loki wants to see people learn and grow and not lose the joy and wonder of the world. I think he would like to see some consideration to being just and fair, along with some modesty. Perhaps a desire to continue learning new things and not to assume that you know best, to listen when others speak. Finally to laugh and bring laughter, remember not to take everything too seriously at the expense of never enjoying anything.

Finally, do these thoughts and views conflict with the virtues and commitments of Neo-Pagan Druidry?

I don’t think so, none of these aspects are mean spririted and a lot of them tie into the vitues in some way, certainly none of these undermine the virtues in any way, only re-enforces them further.

So apparently we need to have finished our IE text in six weeks time, I’m not too worried about that, I’m more worried that in six weeks time makes it week 25 and we have two more texts to go. Eeep!

Week 18 & 2 (revisited) – DPWotY

So this week is reviewing our personal religion, as such some of the questions that Rev. Dangler puts to us involve the First Oath, which was meant to happen in the second week, however due to personal feelings on the matter I didn’t make it at the time. However I am now one third of the way through the DP and it now feels like it is time to make it, to reaffirm why I am doing this, and to keep on track.

This unfortunately for anyone reading this means this will be a long entry, I’ll be dealing with the First Oath and the unfinished components of week two first and then going on to look at the week eighteen content properly.

So the first oath is meant as a affirmation more than a solemn vow and we are discouraged from writing an oath that explicitly states we will finish the DP or that will finish it by a certain date. Being this far into the DP I can certainly see why they do so, it is a large commitment that takes up a fair amount of time. Not to say it isn’t a worthwhile endeavor, far from it.

The oath is something we are encouraged to do, when we are comfortable with it, to get practice working in the style used by ADF and to help re-enforce in our minds why we are doing this. It can be a generic affirmation not naming particular gods or a partiular pantheon, or it can be before your chosen pantheon (if you have one yet). It really is quite flexible and there are a variety of ones already written and available including one in Our Own Druidry and in Through the Wheel of the Year.

I have opted to go for a variation of the one in Our Own Druidry, the appeal of that one was that it was short and sweet but made it’s point. It is a generic salutation, in that it doesn’t address any particular deities, not even ones I consider to be patrons. It is not meant as a slight or to give me wriggle room or a loop hole. Simply it leaves it open to whoever wants to hear the oath.

This ritual uses minimal tools but still shows reverence appropriately, I’ve reached a point in my life where I acknowledge it is too easy to get bogged down in pointless details and over the top excess. The only concession to extra symbolism is that I am doing it on the full moon two nights from now.

So week eighteen, personal religion. The week does ask us to review our feelings on the first oath we were supposed to make on week two, obviously I cannot do that. However it does go on to ask some more questions which I will put below with responses.

Write down your feelings on Hearth Culture:

Do you feel you have one? Or do you know you have one?

Yes I do know I have one, as I’ve stated previously in this blog I was lucky enough to come to ADF as a Heathen and still identify that way, so I have a Hearth culture, one that works for me, even if I am still learning and growing as I move down the path. It was this path that ultimately led me to ADF. I also do a decent amount of work with a Celtic pantheon at the grove I attend, since their main focus is the Celtic God(s)/ess(es), although I do not consider myself to follow that path.

What makes you so certain, and what still makes you a bit insecure?

I found my Hearth Culture by virtue of my first Patron, a somewhat controversial one in the Heathen community – Loki. I actually started down this path as a Lokean, rather than a Heathen or Asatruar, in time as I licked my wounds, both physical and psychologically and put my life back together I found purpose and meaning through the Norse pantheon. It was this that gave me my certainty that I had found my place and that I did belong, a great treasure for which I am thankful for.

I sometimes still experience doubt as to whether I am doing things right, whether I am devout enough, offering enough back to the Kindreds and the Earth mother. I have found that the best thing I can do is to continue to work through it, not give into paralysing doubt. Perhaps the answer to some of those questions is sometimes no, that’s ok. I just have to find ways to fix or improve it, never give up. I experienced a major crisis on New Years Day, something that has made me feel very insecure and that I have been slowly addressing. I felt a presence during my Nature Awareness, one that wasn’t familiar to me but was anything but hostile either. I didn’t know what it was at the time and resolved to keep my senses open to figuring out what it was. The next time I meditated I was doing a guided meditation and a raven appeared and landed in my branches (I was a tree). I offered thanks, thinking it was a message from Odin. It felt wrong. I tried to discover what it meant through my Northern Shadows tarot deck but found nothing. Ravens kept turning up everywhere from then on, until a few weeks ago when I finally realized I was being visited by the Morrigan. I went home and immediately put a painting of a raven I had done last year on my altar. A sense of peace and rightness followed immediately. I am now working on building a relationship with the Morrigan, slowly and carefully, which has been frightening, partly because of some of my misguided ideas about her (I’ve been reading books about the Morrigan since then and realised I didn’t know anywhere near as much as I thought) and also because she isn’t part of my pantheon so I have to make sure I keep all parties happy.

What do you like about the cultures you have chosen? What do you dislike?

I think one of the main things I like about having become a Heathen is the sense of belonging that I have gotten from it, I am a member of a community, I’ve made friends and in some cases have got a new family from it. It has forced me to break down walls I had put up for self-defense and to learn to be generous again and hospitable. I like that often there is a no-nonsense approach to things.

I dislike that there are fractitious elements in the global Heathen community, I’m not going to say who is right or wrong (or even if anyone is right or wrong). Only that this in fighting and hostility seems pointless and harmful to all involved and even in some ways to those who are trying to not be involved. However I don’t know if you can class that as part of your chosesn culture or not really.

Patrons – do you like/dislike the word? Do you have one? Do you have more than one? Does patron fit with the way you think of dieties? What do you know of your patron(s)?

I think as far as words go patron works, and it works on a few levels. Oxford dictionary online defines a patron as ‘A person who gives financial or other support to a person, orginization, or cause’. I think this works because although they aren’t giving financial support to people they are providing other support and guidance. I also think it works because it is indicative of the respect and or reverence that they are due.

I know there are plenty of people out there who develop ‘friendships’ with deities and that seems to work for them, however for whatever reason, possibly having been raised as a devout catholic, I don’t feel comfortable with that approach.

For me patron fits well with the way I think of deities, they are an other wordly being, that has existed for goodness knows how long and are providing guidance and support. For example while I maintain a relationship with an employer, through polite discourse, slight reverence where applicable and following guidlines laid out by them I do not consider them my equal.

It is not a balanced relationship, they are in a position of power and I could never be flipant or casual in my approach. I also think that we need to show our appreciation for the services rendered (so to speak) so offerings and prayers are a good place to start, but so is respect.

Although the flipside to that of course is that you do have rights, they aren’t automatically entitled to run roughshod all over you just because they turned up and are ready to be a patron. If you feel that you are getting the rough end of the stick then this patronage isn’t working and you need to find a way to leave it without causing more problems, this isn’t a situation I am in, only a thought that has come up in my rambling answer to the original question.

Moving on to me personally ass it stands I have one patron that I consider to be in a rock solid arrangement with and I have one that is tentative and new. As you might have guessed from earlier things in this entry I consider myself to have a rock solid arrangement with Loki. My new and tentative patron is Morrigan, I don’t feel an tentativeness on her behalf, that is coming from me, in part from aprehension and in part from caution gathered from people who already have her as a patron. They aren’t trying to scare me off, only cue me into what to expect from her. I feel that this relationship/patronage has the possibility to become as solid as the one I have with Loki as long as I don’t focus only on one of them, I have to maintain balance with both of them.

As for what do I know of my patrons, well not as much as I would like, I devour information available to me on the subject, and through trial and error try to learn about them and what they want. For instance Loki doesn’t need me to wear a token to represent him or even have one on the altar, that I learnt through trial and error. He seems happier without any symbology for him at this time. Morrigan really appreciates offerings and symbols that have been made by me, this I did learn from reading and talking to others and tried out for myself. I could go on and on about what I have learnt from working with them but there isn’t a lot of written work I’ve come across that supports this. All I can do is read things as they come up and discuss it with people that I meet.

 

With that we are at the end of week eighteen, there is the usual nature awareness and meditation reminders, as well as the reminder to continue working on our IE text, however I don’t tend to bring that here unless WotY asks it.

Week 17 – DPWotY

So I’m finally, finally, finally typing up the week for the blog on time, meaning I have caught up on the blog entries. It is kind of scary because this the third High Day done and dusted, week 17 is pretty much the one third mark for doing the DP, well I say that but I honestly think that even once all the requirements have been met from the point of view of attending rituals, meditating, maintaining nature awareness, etc. there will still be a lot of work to do. The essays will need to be written properly, the journals polished and the book reviews tightened up into a coherently explanatory essay.

That being said it is kind of exciting, Beltane is seven months away and that was my goal, to be ready to submit the DP course work at Beltane. I think I’m in equal parts terror and excitement at this stage, a deer in the headlights possibly.

So anyway. The recap.

This was Lughnassa for us here in the SH and on Sunday 5th it was a warm (32 degrees celsius) muggy day (78% humidity) with large storms threatening (they held off until we were driving home), I was there in plenty of time since I had dance rehersals with my Morris Side before hand in the same park that the ritual was to take place in.

It was a decent turnout of people at the ritual, having been well advertised, there were a large number of non-ADF members there but it was still very exciting. I lost track but I’m pretty sure by the time ritual started there were sixteen of us there, seventeen if you count the doggo that was there. 🙂

So being run by an ADF grove it ran following the core order of ritual, celebrating Celtic pantheon. This ritual ran very smoothly, possibly the smoothest one I’ve been to since I was a member of ADF, and despite the large number of non-members at the ritual. There was the usual fumbled line here and there but it really was the only thing that went wrong. There were no interuptions, no panicked people needing to leave, the tree didn’t shed parts this time and even the fire lit smoothly. Now that I’m feeling more relaxed with the grove I didn’t fumble a single thing, which was really pleasing.

Lugh was the diety of the occassion for this ritual, which is fitting really and Mannan mac Lir was once again the Gatekeeper for the ritual.

The grove likes to share skills for this ritual so we had a variety of ‘offerings’, one person gave a piece of obsidian to the grove treasures and an athame hand crafted out of birch wood, another gave everyone home made frankincense pouches, another offered some mugwort from thier garden to the flames, a farrier of the group offered up a horseshoe to the grove treasures, someone offered up chocolates, one of the members offered up a herbal smudge they had made to the flames, there was a zucchini slice offered made from produce that came from their property, a tale of Lugh by the senior druid, a poem by another and I offered up herbs and rhubarb from my garden.

The omen was once again drawn from Ogham Oracle cards, this time we drew Alder which was pronounced to mean shield, guidance and protection. This was decided that it meant that we were being guided and protected and was thus a postive omen and was accepted.

Once again I could feel the Nature Spirits during the ritual but I also felt like I could sense Lugh there, I like to think he was pleased by the groves tradition of sharing our skills with each other and the kindreds.

I really loved the skill sharing part of offerings that the grove does for Lughnassa, it really added to the feeling of community that the grove has and was a marvellous idea. It took me weeks to decide what I was going to do for my skill share and I think it is a great way to get people to think about what skills the posses and what they have to offer to their community.

With that I think I have reached the end of the recap.

Week 16 – DPWotY

Wow we are upto the third High Day preparation, sadly I was so behind on my blog that I hadn’t done this entry before I went to the High Day on Sunday, I’d only made some notes on it and what it means from a Heathen perspective. So for me here in the Southern Hemisphere we were celebrating Lughnassa/Lughnadsa/Lammas/Loaf-fest/Frayfaxi or whatever other name you want to give it. I have a friend who refers to this as ‘the bread one’, I guess the name isn’t that important so much as that we celebrate it.

This High Day is a harvest festival/celebration, the crops are being harvested and bread and ale are being made for the first time since the stores ran out. Offerings are made in the fields and waterways to appease the Spirits and to the Kindreds too, to celebrate the successful harvest and ward off damaging storms, blight and vermin from damaging the next one.

There are some sources that say in Heathen culture this day was celebrated with horse sports and could be better attributed to Freyr, Thor and Sif. The wights are also important in this celebration.

We make offereings from our crops as thanks, and grains, breads and ales are also a good choice at this time, especially if you make your own. At home I made offerings from my tomatoes which I have just been able to start harvesting from my garden, along with a wreath of herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and mint)

This is definitely an agrarian holdiay, supposedly the away season had ended and the Vikings that had gone of raiding were back to help harvest the crops that had been growing in thier absence.

I love this holiday because it means the worst of summer is over and we can look forward to cooling nights, enjoying our crops that we harvest from the garden, cooking with produce we grew ourselves and storms to see in the close of summer. Despite having been baked for months by the harsh Australian sun the garden looks vibrant, many plants are flowering or just finishing and from now on we begin to prune in the garden.

The grove I attend tends to follow a Celtic path, so this time of year they celebrate Lugh and his getting into Tara. They have a tradition of skill sharing, whether it is reading a poem you have read, reciting a favourite part of a myth or tale, singing, dancing, cooking or other skills. I feed and watered my herbs and rhubarb profusely for weeks in preparation of this celebration as the skill I wanted to share was gardening. I took offerings of fresh herbs and rhubarb to the  ritual, I had meant to take some seedlings too but forgot.

I think this season is growing in favor with me and now is up there with Yule for me as a favourite seasonal celebration/high day.

Anyway that is it for now, I’ll be writing about how the celebration went soon enough. 🙂

Week 15 – DPWotY

This weeks lesson has us looking at the second of the Nine Virtues and furthering our understanding of their role in ADF and why they are held to be important. The virtue that we are looking at for this week is piety, something that on the surface may seem simple but I suspect is actually going to be a bit deep than it first seems.

We of course have readings from Our Own Druidry to complete for this task, however in addition there are several articles from the ADF site that are recommended to be read too, all of them written by Rev Dangler. However for some reason I can only find one of the articles. Hoping it is the gem of the three. :/

So the definition of piety from Our Own Druidry is as follows ‘Correct observance of ritual and social traditions, the maintenance of the agreements (both personal and societal) we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty.’ and for comparisons sake the Oxford Online Dictionary defines piety as ‘The quality of being religious or reverent.’

I have to say that the ADF definition feels cold and academic to me, more like they are saying that if you complete this sequence of events in exactly the right amount with the precise actions and a pinch of showmanship that you are pious. There is nothing there about belief, about forging strong bonds with the Kindreds and the deeply moving experiences that these can bring. It almost sounds like an atheist could do ADF and have some kind of success, how can anything work without belief?

While I respect that there is duty in our path and that there are agreements that need to maintained, I feel that there would have to be a better way to phrase it. This isn’t a dry dusty religion like many branches of Christianity have become, it is a living breathing religion, practiced both in our homes and in our groves, and there needs to be a conviction of belief.

The thing that struck a chord with me in the Oxford definition was the word reverent, faith is somewhat about reverence, we are forging bonds with supernatural powers, Gods, Nature Spirits and the Ancestors, we ask them for blessings at ritual, heck we even make offerings to the Outdwellers. Reverence doesn’t mean we have to be scared of them, simply that we are respectful and fufil our part of the whole deal, bring them sacrifices and offerings at ritual or times of the year that are important to them. Now this does I guess tie into the whole duty and maintenance of agreements thing from Our Own Druidry. However I think reverence is a good word because you believe that what you are doing is important, you believe that the Kindreds are worth honoring and that you should take the duties seriously.

Of course piety is not something that can be easily encaptulated in a few words, how does one capture all that piety means to them in a sentance? Reverence, honor, belief and observation would have to make it’s way into my description of piety but even then there is that niggling feeling that it doesn’t cover it entirely.

I know a few people personally that I would consider pious, part of that is the fact that thier faith, observations, and little things they do to honor the Kindreds is worked into their daily life. They make regular offerings, they do daily observances, the maintain a permanent shrine and are always working on their relationship with the Kindreds because it is important to them, they believe that it is important too, it isn’t about showmanship or showing off to others, a lot of them don’t talk about what they do all the time but it is noticable to those of us who follow similar paths what they are doing.

So Rev. Dangler suggest that we explore our own view, are we pious? How? Do you need to be pious to understand piety? Well that is a tough one, I think piety is important, however I don’t think I have reached a point where I could describe myself as pious. I think I have a long way to go to be pious, I try to work things into my personal life, little observations and actions to show the Kindreds I care and am being reverant to them. However I also think there is more I could be doing. As for do you need to be pious to understand piety, well I suspect that is subjective. I think that you don’t need to be pious to understand the concept, however I also suspect that if you aren’t remotely pious you aren’t going to be in a position to understand exactly how important or why it is, it is going to be a more dry and academic understanding of the virtue.

If I had to choose between whether going through the motions was more important or putting your heart and soul into it I would have to go with the latter. I’m a great believer in actions speaking louder than words, however in this situation I think heart and soul driven observance is going to speak louder than a perfectly enacted ritual with lack of reverence. You have to show that it is important and that you care about what you are doing, and if that means that you are away from home and can’t do a precise ceremony with all the accoutrements doing what you can with what you have but working it like it is still just as important.

While I respect the intention of having piety as one of the Nine Virtues I do wonder if it is perfectly suited to a Neo-Pagan setting. I’ve met an awful lot of neo-pagans who are constantly doing spellwork with the intention of getting something out of it, they execute elaborate rituals with fancy set-ups but lack the faith to back it up. They don’t work on reverence, they don’t forge relationships with the dieties they invoke, I sometimes wonder if they even believe in them. I also wonder whether it could be a virtue that attracts a misguided attitude to Neo-Pagan religion, a metaphorical club that people whack each other over the head with, ‘You are not a real pagan, because you don’t do such and such.’ type situations. Just because we choose to observe something one way doesn’t mean it is the right way, or that other people are doing it wrong and piety could be a type of weapon for sparring with. I think ultimately it is better that it is one of the nine but I think it is a double edged sword.

Anyway that turned out to be a long rambly post, this is going to need to be perfected a lot before it can be an essay for the virtues. I think I need to reflect more on this virtue, I have a lot of conflicting ideas on it and struggle to find the words to say what I mean.

 

 

Week 14 – DPWotY

Week fourteen is revisiting the home shrine and documenting changes, I’ll put a photo below this and then the questions from Rev Dangler’s Through the Wheel of the Year and my responses below that. The home shrine has changed already in the weeks since we first looked at it, some changes for the better, others, well I’m not sure about them.

befunky-collage

Top: Altar after first joining ADF and clearing it all out and starting afresh trying to follow what I’d read so far.
Bottom: Altar as it currently looks.

There have only been a few changes really to the alter since the last visit to this topic, the first one I will address is the new doors (You can’t really see them well in the image) that are meant to keep the cats out of the altar space, the use of wire in a frame was meant so that the altar wasn’t really locked away behind doors. This has not worked as effectively as I would like and I haven’t come up with a new plan to deal with it yet. The wire and doors bothers me, it feels like I’m caging away the gods and spirits and separating them from my life. Something I’d tried to avoid by having the wire doors. The other problem is the wire itself, the cats can sneak paws in to knock things over and try and steal other items. I feel that this has been a failed attempt, somewhat disheartening.

The next big change is the addition of a representation of the Earth Mother to the altar, I discussed what other ADF members who also follow a Heathen path do with them and read a bit more about it and then reflected on what felt right for me personally. I came down on the side of adding a representation, due to budget constraints I couldn’t afford to buy any of the ones I liked and had seen so I decided to make one.img_4596

I had seen several beautifully designed ones online, hand-crafted by pagans, however the cost was beyond my budget. So I set out to design one that incorporated everything I liked about the ones I had seen and some elements of my own. She is made from air dry clay, and took about three weeks to make, I made the clay form in a few hours but due to the thickness of her I had to dry her in controlled environment so she didn’t crack or crumble. Once she was completely dry I decorated her with acrylic artists paints and sealed her with a satin-gloss varnish. I tried to visualise and work in elements that made me think of the Earth Mother during her creation, and I have to say I’m thrilled with the end result. I think she is now one of my favourite items on the altar.

One of the other new additions is a painting of a raven that I added, I’ve been feeling a pull to the Morrigan as I have progressed along the DP, which at first felt odd since I had declared myself to be a Heathen. However I decided to explore her presence in my life, since it would be rude to shun a deity that had shown an interest in me. It is a new relationship, one that is fragile and I am working on understanding better. The raven painting was one I painted and decided to put on the altar to indicate that I was willing to explore her presence further, as well as a focul point to contemplate.

I also added a drinking horn to the altar now, I found an old one from my re-enacting days and decided to re-purpose it, I cleansed it, reapplied beeswax to the interior and blessed it ready for use.

I’ve also added a stag statue to the altar, it just felt right that it be there, I found it at an antique fair recently and have since been looking into the aspects of Stags in the saga’s, mythology and symbology of the Heathen hearth culture.

I think my altar is going to undergo some considerable changes again before the end of the DP, I don’t have a solid image in my head at present of what it will look like when it is finished, only that as I grow and learn I seem to change my mind on what works for me. So this is my current version of the alter as it stands. I’m sure next time we revisit it, there will be new changes.

EDIT: Completly forgot to talk about whether I prefer working indoors or outdoors and whether nature feels accessible on my altar. I love working outdoors, I spent the majority of most days outside anyway so I get plenty of nature access, if I could have a workable outdoor ritual area I would but things aren’t working that way here despite my initial optimism when we bought the place, I do still plan to work towards having an outdoor area. However that being said I feel my indoor altar does work, I often bring items from nature in and have them on the altar for particular occassions but also just because I get an urge that I must have this thing on my altar. They stay there until the urge dies down and then go out onto the cairne in my yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 13 -DPWotY

This entry is week thirteen and brings me ever so closer to being caught up on all my notes being turned into blog entries, I really have been quite slack at the blog aspect of this journey, something I hope to improve upon as we travel through to the end of the DP and wherever I go after.

Week thirteen is the first of the Nine Virtues which I often think of as the Nine Noble Virtues due to the books on Asatru I have read often refering to them as being noble. The first virtue we are looking at is not one that appears in the nine of Heathenry, and is Wisdom.

Our Own Druidry sums Wisdom up as ‘good judgement, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate and decide on the correct response.’ The Oxford Online Dictionary defines this noun as ‘The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise’.

Wisdom or being wise, is about utilising one’s experiences and drawing upon the experiences of others from sources such as the written account and historic sources to form an opinion or judgment that is informed. It is an objective thing, considered from multiple angles and taking in opinions other than our own to assess a situation.

The dedicant manual and the Oxford dictionary agree that wisdom is good judgement, I think that the experiences Oxford cites as part of wisdom tie in niecly to the remainder of the dedicant manual description of wisdom. A person’s experiences will give them a unique perspective, however it will also allow them to draw upon these past situations to help see to the heart of a person and/or situation more clearly. It may also provide them with fuel to consider in deliberations when trying to decide the correct response.

Wisdom is something that should grow with age, the more a person has experienced the more resources they have to draw on, to enable them to see to the heart of the matter, or to see the potential pitfalls and problems with an idea or situation. I don’t think it is a skill that is ever perfected, as no one person is perfect and we all bring a unique mix of experiences to our practice, I think we have to acknowledge that we can be wise, but never to wise to learn new things.

Certainly I can see why it should be a pagan virtue, even if it isn’t a heathen one, wisdom is needed certainly by our leadership since they often make decisions on our behalf, but also by us as individuals, so that we can question and grow as a person but also as a grove or orginisation. We need to be able to question if something is right, not just accept it blindly, to learn from our experiences so we can let others benefit from them and to grow healthily on our journey.

Wisdom can occur at any age, as a child I was the youngest sibling, and often had adventures across the country side with my older siblings. I remember we would get in bulls every year to breed with our heifers and cows, the bulls would be very aggressive, because we would always have two, one for the heifers who was smaller and less aggressive and one for the cows who was bigger and stronger and usually a testosterone driven monster.
Some cousins from the city came to stay with us one year and we were playing in the fields when one of the cousins decided we should play by the creek. The quickest route to the creek was through one of the paddocks that had a bull in it, my cousins wanted to go through that paddock but I strived persuade them how bad an idea it would be.
You see I remembered what had happened to a farm hand a few years earlier who strolled into a bulls paddock without any thought for the danger. He had ended up in the emergency room bruised and with three broken ribs. Thankfully it kept them occupied long enough that one of my older siblings arrived who they listened to because they were older and therefore perceived as more knowledgeable in the eyes of children.
We were able to draw upon these experiences and realize that although cutting through the paddock would be the quickest route, it would not be the wisest due to the danger it posed.

I think wisdom is important as being the first of the virtues because it is so interconnected with the others, that it teaches us to look for the pattern, the connection between them all, wisdom tells us why moderation is good, helps us understand vision, tempers our courage, lets us maintain and grow integrity, understand our mistakes while we perservere and I’m sure it ties into hospitality, piety and fertility in ways I haven’t even discovered yet. This realisation of connectedness is important because it teaches us to take a more holistic approach to things, but also that everything is connected, we are connected to our family, our grove, our friends and this planet on so many levels, it is wisdom that helps us navigate all of this with some level of success.

Week 12 – DPWotY

Week twelve is looking at one of the Kindreds, the Ancestors or the Might Dead. At the end of the DP we will have written about our understanding of the Three Kindreds, so it is good that we are able to explore and learn about them slowly over the twelve months (or longer) that we take to do the Dedicant Path.

So for this week we are as always reading sections of Our Own Druidry and are given some optional readings, the ones I’m doing are – Ancestors Invocations by Jennifer Ellison, A Beginners Guide to Geneological Research: Or How I Connected to My Ancestors by Meghan E. M, and Ancestors for Those Without Ancestors by Renee Rhodes.

So the first of these is literally a sample invocation that you can use when working with or invoking the ancestors, certainly I would be having a printout of this invocation on hand as a script if I were to use it because it is too long to memorise. It is actually a fairly simple invocation and feels respectfully worded.

The second aritcle discusses using geneology as a form of honoring the ancestors, by understanding where they came from, and what they did, no matter how grand or humble you begin to understand their journey and forge a bond with them. You have names and stories of your ancestors that form a personal bond between you and them. For those inclined it can be a rewarding journey to creating a stronger bond with your ancestors.

The third of the articles discusses the problem that some people face when dealing with the Three Kindreds, that they don’t know anything about their ancestry or for those like me whose family is a source of trauma. Honoring the ancestors can be hard in situations like this, the author raises some interesting points, some of which go with my own thoughts I had been cultivating on the matter.

Ancestors do not have to be blood relations, they can be historical figures, the dispossesed, the forgotten or others. You do not have to suffer quietly when dealing with ritual work and personal practice, if it makes you uncomfortable or upset to work with your own ancestors there are options.

I went to a Samhain ritual last year where I experienced a similar distress to that the author underwent. I realised that I had foolishly gone to a ritual that was focussed on the ancestors. We were expected to write names on ribbons that were to be woven into a large chain of ribbons and hung from the High Priestesses ‘ancestor tree’ later. Apart from my twin sister there was no-one I wanted to think about during the ritual. Everyone else had many many names written out and here I stood with one, I considered writing names of other family members on there but felt a heavy hostile energy settle around me at the prospect. I ended up realising that we were standing in a park that had a monument to the native Aboriginals of the area and that it would surely be acceptable to pay respects to their dead, so I did.

For weeks afterwards I fretted about the experience, internalising my discomfort about it before finally discarding it as a bad experience. Then I met someone at a pagan gathering who said that they often paid respects to the dead of the original owners of this land and that as long as you went about it right there was nothing wrong with it, it was a matter of being respectful without culturally appropriating something that isn’t yours.

I think ultimately what the article tells us is that we need to be comfortable in ritual and since every ritual honors the three kindreds, even if they don’t all focus strongly on the ancestors, you will always be working with them. So you need to find what works for you.

Finally we come to the homework for this week, how we can honor the dead, the ancestors.

We are encouraged to think of stories we like to tell of the dead, of things that our family might like to do to remember the dead and whether we think our ancestors watch over us. How do we think they might like to be remembered? Honored?

I have a candle holder that I keep, that I burn a candle in when honoring the ancestors for special occassions and I try to put something symbolic out for particular people, some people get a photo, others get a valued treasure I have from them. As it presently stands most of the people I honor are not blood relations but I still feel they deserve remembering. At some point I am going to start a cairne under one of the trees on my property where I can make offerings, lay flowers and other things for special occassions and sit and reminisce about them. I plan to hang chimes from the tree and maybe some solar lights and colourful pennants. The chimes are so that when the wind blows it sings to them if they are nearby, the colourful pennants are because we celebrate them and the cairne is because it will be a great place to leave offerings and mementos.

Week 11 – DPWotY

Week eleven of Through the Wheel of the Year has us looking at the two powers, for this we are reading the sections of Our Own Druidry that discuss the Two Powers and what they are, there are a few optional readings, however I haven’t bought any of the books that are in that sections so I’ll be looking at the Our Own Druidry information primarily and the article about Active Two Powers Meditation from the members articles of the ADF website.

Rev Dangler suggests we aren’t ready to write our Two Powers essay after reading these parts, and I agree but I’m going to leave some notes from what I’ve read so far.

The first of the two powers is the Underworld Power and this power seems to be about the deep primal powers, the waters beneath the earth that all life comes from, the Earth Mother, the place of potential. The deep burning magma that heats our planet from within, and deep in the underworld if I understand it correctly is where we find memory from all the worlds, past, present and possibly future.

The second of the two powers is the Heaven Power and this power stems from the cosmos above us, from the stars and the moon, and can be bought out by fire. This is the powers that give us individuality, it is about creativity.

It seems that when these two powers meet and combine we get chaos and raw energy that can be used for sorcery, this is the birth place of magic. This is raw potential, at this point it can be anything and when we are channeling the two powers through things like the Two Powers meditation we are filled with potential, we may gain clairty of vision, or purpose.

At this point many people find themselves at the world tree or somewhere similar and experience the joy of being connected. When this form of meditation is used in ritual (which it turns out I’ve been doing already with my grove and just didn’t realise) we are able to connect to the waters and share our energies around the circle.

I’ve been kind of lucky really because I have already been doing this form of meditation at the grove I have had the time to get the visualisation there, however now I am starting to learn more about the background of it, which will give me a greater understanding than I previously had.

I’ve enjoyed this form of meditation a lot, doing it with the others, guided by the scholar of the group each time and look forward to trying it out at my nature spot by myself.