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.

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Week Two – DPWotY

Ok so clearly it hasn’t been a week since I did the last entry, I’m squishing the first few lessons together into the space of a few days because one of the High Days is pretty much here, Beltane or for those following the Norse perspective Walpurgisnacht. I’ve actually already had one Beltane this year, last weekend at the oldest free neo-pagan gathering in the world. However it was before I became a member of ADF so I view it as cheating to use that. As such I’m attending my local groves* Beltane celebration this weekend.

* By local I mean a good two hours drive away, I’m fortunate to live that close to the only ADF Grove in Australia at present.

So week two’s lesson asked for us to make an oath, the First Oath. I’m choosing not to do this at this time for a variety of reasons that all basically add up to – I’m not ready yet. If I’d started this path of study a decade earlier I would have done so without thought, nowadays though I take such actions much more seriously and I never make a promise I don’t intend to keep.

This doesn’t mean I won’t make the oath but I want to get further down the path first, I cannot say with any accuracy exactly how far down I need to be before I’m happy to do it but I think much like joining ADF I’ll know it is time and then I’ll make appropriate preparations and perform it.

So I’ve been looking at the prescribed reading lists to ascertain what books I want to look at from each category so I can start working towards acquiring copies of them. The first book I’m looking for is A History of Pagan Europe by Prudence Jones. So far the cheapest I’ve been able to find it for is $35, the Australia tax hits again. After that I will be looking at The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer by Jesse L Byock and, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H.R Ellis-Davidson. For the final category I will look at Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today by Margot Adler. Finally, I also want to look at Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans by Ceisiwr Serith.

Just a touch of reading to do. 😉