Week Seven – DPWotY

So week seven is happening, at least I’m working on week seven in between continuing to read the IE text and gather notes for the book report.

Week seven takes a first look at the home shrine(s) and what we currently have as our working shrine, the meaning behind the items chosen to use on it and the changes and plans we have for it in future. It also came with a few readings on the topic.

So the first article was ‘Placement of the Home Shrine.’ by Rev. Michael Dangler

Michael talks about how altars are ultimately a very personal item and so should be done in a way that makes you comfortable, although if you are doing the DP you probably need to be honest about your faith and have a permanent altar rather than hide it away.

It should if it can be somewhere central although that is not always practical, a bedroom or elsewhere is fine, although having an entire room locked away from the world might send the wrong message, no matter how well intentioned.

Facing direction is part of the personal choice factor, if you are used to north face north, decorations and items are likewise personal choice.

The second article was ‘Creating the Desire for Worship’ by Rev Michael Dangler

The author talks about creating the desire to do daily devotions and meditations, to help create a healthy habit and provides a few suggestions on his thoughts about how to achieve this.

The final article was ‘Taking it All Home’ by Kami Landy

This is an interesting article that would work a lot better if you lived alone or in an all pagan household. Ultimately most of this felt inapplicable for me in my situation. The only thing I might consider is the idea of a bonsai as the world tree for the shrine once I have the doors on it to protect it from the cats. This is not to say that there weren’t some great ideas, there were, ones that I would utilize if the person that shared my house wasn’t an atheist that has an alarming tendency to mess up people’s home shrines.

There were two suggested readings from books that haven’t arrived yet so I’ve had to skip those for now and continue on with week seven without them.

This brings us to the ‘Homework’ for the week. My home shrines, what they look like, what I want to change etc.

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So this is my current indoor/main shrine as it currently stands.

So I have the painting of a tree that currently works as my tree for ritual, although I would love to move to something better later I am making do with this painting I did. My thoughts for the new tree are kind of scattered at the present, I considered the idea of the stick, like many a beginner before me but it felt wrong for me. I currently am considering a bonsai oak tree but have seen some excellent carved rods that might also work.

The bronze looking bucket on the right is my well for this altar. It may not be ideal, I really don’t know but it does the trick until like the tree I find something better, I’m hoping that I will be somewhere one day and the new well will jump out at me so to speak.

The three candle holders at the front and the green lump are for the fire, the green lump is a incense holder. I’d love to have a more appropriately themed incense stick holder but this is the only one that made it to the new house.

The green plate and bowl in the back left are for offerings that are later taken out the back and put at the outdoor altar. It isn’t visible from this angle but they are carved with Norse/Celtic inspired designs.

The blue and white striped vessel in front of that is the vessel for drinks and such during ritual. I’d love to get another drinking horn to replace this viking period replica cup, which is replacing the drinking horn that was stolen from our last house.

Besides that is my Northern Shadows tarot deck for drawing omens with a squirrel sitting on top to represent Ratatosk who I’ve had on my altar since I found the Norse pantheon were ones that I felt a connection with. I found him a few months after and he came home to try and foster a better relationship with him since he is supposed to run up and down Yggdrasil carrying messages.

On the shelf at the back is an image of Odin and Frigga who are the deities I’m working on my relationships with at the moment along with a wood carving I did of Odin.

The other bits and pieces on the shelf are things that I have collected for the spirits at this house that felt ‘right’ and bought home for them.

The final feature worth mentioning is the cloth covering the altar, which is one of four to represent each of the seasons.

The large shelf above the altar is where I currently store my books and other tarot cards, along with various other bits and pieces.

An addition I am planning for the alter is to make a pair of cat-proof doors with some kind of opaque screen. It will allow the altar to remain undisturbed by them while letting the altar be visible and not fully closed away, it doesn’t seem right locking my altar, which is my main source of communication with the ancestors, gods and spirits away fully but it has become necessary to be able to keep the cats out since one of our cats is a thief and steals and hides things.

The second altar I have is an outdoor space that is a work in progress and is not able to be used all the time due to household routine.

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The beginnings of a stone cairn you can see in this photo is made of rocks that have been dug up as we have been landscaping the garden. This one started completely by accident, I put the first few rocks under this tree planning to move them somewhere else later and it felt right they were there, so I added more as I found them in the garden.

I plan to add a firebox and an altar to this setup eventually, as well as keep adding the rocks as they are dug up.

I was given a plaque with an image of Bacchus on it that will find a home here eventually too, despite the fact he isn’t a Norse god I feel that he came to me for a reason.

The final thing I plan to do for this altar is to plant some more screening plants to give it some privacy so that I can do more outdoors work undisturbed as well as clear out the weeds and maybe add a few plants that appeal to the nature spirits.

I’m sure as I progress down the DP I will change and grow my altars and the ideas for them but this is how it stands at present.

 

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Week Five & Six – DPWotY

I’m combining week five and six because week six is the beginning of the Indio-European studies text, which I’ve chosen to read A Pagan Journey Through Europe for. While there is a good deal of reading to do there isn’t a lot of ‘homework’ for week six.

So week five is about starting to begin our Nature Awareness component, getting out into nature, observing, learning to switch off and observe and reflect on what is happening all around us in nature and finding a nature spot.

To help us with this there were a few articles to read from the website, the first of which was Urban Druid by Mary Jones. At first I thought this was not going to be applicable to me since I live in the country, however after a read and reflect on the article I realised that despite not living in an urban area there were some things of value for me.

Mary tells us that no matter where we go, we are never completely cut off from nature, there will always be the cycle of the sun, stars and moon. The ever-changing seasons and things like the wind and the rain. Even some animals that have adapted to the constructed environment.

She recommends that we should be more aware of what sustains us in a constructed environment, things like – where your water source comes from, what farms produce things nearby. By taking the time to understand these things and to observe the glimpses of nature we begin to see nature everywhere.

We are also given the idea that as members of a nature centric religion that we should consider ways to cut down on our impact on the environment such as public transport, walking, or cycling instead of driving. Recycling as much as possible and cutting back on what we send to landfill.

The final thing I took from the article was her part about plants, that even if you live in a small apartment, you can help your connection to nature by keeping some small plants, doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact if you like it can be practical like herbs, they oxygenate, they give you a link to nature and they can be eaten.

After that there was the article Honoring the Environment Through Religion by Sylvan. It was definitely an interesting read, I have many notes in my Dedicant Path notebook but I’ll just share the one gem from this article. If we as ADF members revere the Earth Mother always, we include her in every ritual, then we must look after her. This is part of our adoration for her, and an important one.

Which was kind of the same gem from the article that followed called Loving Our Mother by Marae Price. What are we doing as Groves and individuals to help her, protect her and look after her.

The last article to read for week five was Learning From the Trees by Judith Anderson Morris. Which really was a good article to finish with before going out to find our nature spot. She talks about the concept of truly understanding that something is alive. The article tells us of a task she sets her writing students to help them understand this, of going out and finding a tree and hugging it, then recording what happens.

The experience usually helps transform the concept of alive from an abstract notion to a more rooted reality. Judith then goes on to say that it is worth hugging different trees and different types of trees, to help you feel the different energies that happen depending on the environment as well as species.

Finally, she talks about spending time with trees, reflecting and perhaps sharing some medative time with them and shares an anecdote of how she has a favourite tree she spends time with and that she often leaves it a small offering because it gives her affirmations and help.

This of course leads to the homework section.

Did you have problems focusing (on being aware of nature and tuning out man made noises)? 

The spot I’ve chosen as my nature spot is a quiet area, there are rarely any man made noises, so this was a plus. I find it very easy to listen to the noises of nature here away from people deep in the forest.

Did you have trouble finding your spot?

I’m fortunate that I found this spot not long after we bought our house in this town and already enjoy strolling through the forest with no purpose or care other than being there ‘forest bathing’ as it were.

Try drawing a map from your house or your office to this spot, but don’t include street names or man-made objects; instead, use natural landmarks to remind yourself how to get there in the future.

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You’ll have to ignore the erased part of one of the creek names, for the sake of anonymity I’ve taken it out because the creek is named after our town.

So if I was to use this map I would use the following prompts:

  1. Head south and cross the small creek.
  2. Keep the creek on your right you should come to a point where it connects to Spring Gully just after you spot the giant hawthorne on the flood plains.
  3. Follow Spring Gully keeping park lake on your left.
  4. About 150m after you finish walking past park lake turn left, crossing spring gully.
  5. Walk over the hill and down into the forest until you hit the oak gully, that follows the natural valley. The Douglas Firs and Maritime Pines will guide you.

Were you able to hear things you’d never heard before?

Unfortunately no, probably in part because I’m already familiar with the sound the pines on the tops of the valley ridges make as they whisper to each other in the wind and the quite creaking of the trees shifting slightly. The sound of the kookaburras laughing up in the pines and the tree creepers hunting bugs.

I do hope though that as I progress along the Dedicants Path that my experiences and relationship with this place will grow and improve over time.

Week six – I’ve been keeping a lot of notes about the things I find interesting in Prudence Jones’ book in my Dedicant Notebook. It is a long time since I’ve read an academic text at this level so it has been a little slow going but I’m really enjoying it, the book is full of interesting insights into the IE practices and the roots of some of the practices that are present in ADF today. It becomes increasingly clear with each chapter why this is a recommended IE text for the DP.

I’ll not be posting my notes on the IE text as I go because they are going to be long and out of context for anyone not familiar with the book. I’ll be starting week seven soon too because as much as I wish I could read all of A Pagan Journey Through Europe in a week, it isn’t going to happen and I want to keep going with the course work.