Week 10 – DPWotY

Week ten is the post ritual wrap-up for the second High Day in the DP, having either performed a ritual, or as is the case here attended one and participated I am now to reflect on how the ritual went, what happened, what did I learn, what was the format, who were the patron dieties, how did it feel, how did the blessing go, etc.

So once again I set out in 41 degree celsius heat for a two hour drive to the nemeton of the closest grove to me, grooving to Damh the Bard, as only an overly enthusiastic pagan can. We took a cake, oat biscuits and banana bread with us to share at the post ritual picnic, all things we thought could survive the heat once we arrived.

We arrived with little time to spare, eight minutes before starting time, however due to problems with public transport some of the others were running late and had messaged ahead to let the Senior Druid know. We all waited patiently in the shade of the gum trees using the ritual handouts as fans for the stragglers and chatting about our lives.

As the last of the people our Senior Druid was certain was coming arrived we worked out roles for our very small gathering, my drink bottle unfortunately has leaked a little on my notes so the number of attendees I am having to put down by recollection as being only 6 people.

How did the ritual go in terms of structure?
The ritual followed the ADF core order since it was held by a ADF Grove.

What things went wrong?
Nothing went overly wrong with the ritual, there were a few fumbled lines (including one of mine) and one of the people doing offerings to the Kindred’s almost forgot to give one but nothing big, cetainly nothing the detracted from the ritual or ruined it in any way.

Who were the patrons of the ritual and who was the Gatekeeper?
The patron of the ritual was the Dagda and the Gatekeeper was Mannan mac Lir

Did you have trouble saying the words? Did everything come out smoothly?
No and no. I didn’t have trouble saying the words for the parts I spoke or sung in, I never have because I wouldn’t participate in something that I wasn’t comfortable with. Did everything come out smoothly, also no, I honestly don’t think the answer will ever be yes unless I have memorized my lines by rote, my mild dyslexia is always going to trip me up, the good thing about it though is the grove are understanding and I’m not the only one that has this issue.

If you were with a group what part did you play?
I was with a grove and I played the part of the Nature Spirits, as well as participating in the songs and parts where everyone speaks. I really like welcoming them in as part of the Kindreds, like I’m greeting friends.

What did you feel during the ritual?
So Rev Dangler does elaborate on this question more in the booklet but I like the smaller headings so I’m going to phrase the question simply and cover a few things.

As for feelings of confidence or anxiety, I would say I had mixed feelings, I had some anxiety at the pre-ritual briefing that carried into the ritual, right up to the point where I started my part of welcoming in the nature spirits, it was like I kicked over into teacher mode where there was no space for anxiety. I spoke clearly and projected my voice so all could hear me and after I started I was filled with a feeling of confidence, it was like I was among friends and there was no need to be worried, given I have crippling anxiety this was such a liberating feeling.

As I was welcoming in the nature spirits I got a wonderful warm feeling, like I was with friends, it filled me with so much joy and happiness and it felt like I was really connected to the space, I felt hyper aware of the birds in the trees and the gently movement of the trees around us, the feeling of the dirt beneath our feet and the space we were standing in. Suddenly the gentle trickle of the creek seemed so much clearer, like the gently chiming of crystals on a chandelier as they clinked softly against each other in a wafting breeze. I like to think that this was the presence of the nature spirits responding to our call to join us in ritual.

What omens were drawn?
The seer drew the Vine which she said was about celebrating the bounty of the season, of fellowship and of connectedness. It was agreed that this was a positive omen and that our offerings had been accepted.

One other thing of note was that I got to take the well offerings down to the creek near the nemeton to make the secondary offering to our local waterway, casting the water and silver into the gently trickling stream that was much lower than normal and clear as glass.

With that I have finished recap number two of the High Days.

Week 9 – DPWotY

So here I am again furiously typing and writing trying to catch up on what has been going on , I have pages from books, corners from diaries and sticky notes forming all the notes I need to convert into blog posts before they become sensless gibberish.

Week nine has us looking at the second high day for the wheel, in my case in the Southern Hemisphere that is Summer Solstice or Midsummer.

Midsummer from a Heathen perspective can look at things like the tales of Baldr, who in a lot of modern resources is linked to Midsummer, a number of groups burn a model viking long ship with offerings inside linking to the Gylfaginning saga where Baldr is killed. Likening his life cycle and role in the destruction of the world at Ragnarok and participation in making a new one afterwards to the role of the sun in other IE traditions.

Midsummer for me means that it is a hot, dry time and that we are beginning the slow march to the wet cold months, it means weeks or months without any rain and the promise of glorious summer thunder storms. It is also a time of danger, of being alert, not only due to the increased snake activity but because it is the beginning of the peak fire danger period, where any day you could find a out of control bushfire threatining your home and community.

Midsummer isn’t really a time of year I look forward to normally, as I am not great with any heat over 22 degrees celsius as a general rule. However this time, I was really excited about Midsummer, it is the second High Day I’ve celebrated with an ADF grove since I became a member, and it is a part of my continuing learning.

By the time Midsummer rolls around the days have been getting longer and hotter, the air is drier and you can taste summer in the air, a dry dusty flavour tinged with woodsmoke and ozone. We’ve often had our first big storm for the season and everything has either turned golden and brown or is well on the way as heatwaves roll in.

The grove I have been attending always sees a drop in attendance for ritual at Midsummer, apparently it has been that way since the very beginning. They seem to treat it is a much more relaxed ritual, there is a sense of festivity in the air as everyone is getting ready to spend holiday time with their families. They still follow the usual format of pre-ritual breifing and assigning of roles, ritual and then post ritual picnic near the nemeton where everyone brings something to share and we eat, chat and enjoy each others company.

So now I have supposedly written my next High Day essay, in reality this is just the beginning I think but it is nice to have taken a look at the festival before hand and to have something to draw upon for the actual essay.

Week 8 – DPWotY

So week eight of the outline given by Rev Dangler is all about meditation, my plan has been to try many different forms of meditation throughout the DP so I will have a broader understanding of the forms and later I can settle on a preferred type or types.

So for the first session I used a guided meditation, using the structure that the grove I attend does. I really enjoy the visualisation of this form, becoming a tree essentially, growing roots out into the ground and branches up into the sky, connecting with everything around you. It is very peaceful.

So something I’ve found so far with meditation is that breathing is important, long deep breaths seem to work best for getting into the ‘zone’ so to speak.

There is something so peaceful about the sensations while meditating, the animals around you, the feel of the air on your skin, the sounds of the trees whispering, their leaves rustling against each other gently, the feel of the earth beneath you.

Rev. Dangler suggests making note of what animals appear around you and what you sense during these meditations. Not surprisingly ravens (I follow a Heathen path) were involved in my first meditation, I had stopped by the oldest oak in the oak gully I like to visit and I could hear them nearby as I meditated, and sure enough when I opened my eyes there they were, three ravens perched on a lower hanging branch watching me curiously.

Anyway that is enough for this post, I have a lot more coming as I catch up on my blogging for the DP.

Interlude

So I’ve been very quiet on here lately, unintentionally for the most part, certainly quieter than I meant to be. I’ve almost finished reading A Pagan Journey Through Europe by Prudence Jones and will be starting to write up my book review for it soon. My next book arrived in the post today so thankfully there won’t be a gap where I am without a DP book. So my next book is a Hearth Culture book – The Saga of the Volsungs: The Legend of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and the magic ring of power.

I’m in the process of finding a safer nature spot for the summer here because there are an unusually high number of snakes (This is Australia and they are quite venomous snakes – feel free to google Eastern Brown Snakes and Eastern Tiger Snakes to see why I’m not keen on tangling with them) about this summer in my normal spot. I’ve been making do by sitting under the giant willow in my garden for now.

I haven’t had a chance to do the weeks in the Through the Wheel of the Year for the solstice yet, but went to my local groves solstice and took part (I had the part of the Nature Spirits and got to make the secondary offering to the creek near our circle). So I’ll be writing properly about that soon.

I recently made an Earth Mother statue out of clay for my altar and she has since been decorated and added to the set-up. I’ve also put doors on the altar so that the cats can’t get in, however I’ve used a wire centre on them so that it remains visible and doesn’t feel cut off from the world.

Anyway normal updates following the Through the Wheel of the Year weeks will resume soon.

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.

 

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.

Week Four – DPWotY

So I attended my first High Day as a newly minted ADF member and Dedicant Path walker yesterday (30th of October). The sun was high and for the first time this year I felt like it was hot, a good day for Beltane celebrations. We made the two-hour trek with our contributions to the post ritual meal and socialization sitting carefully packed in the car. Unfortunately it didn’t save the carrot and walnut cake I’d baked from being assaulted by a box of books and made substantially thinner, which gave people a good chuckle when we arrived.

We arrived at the ritual area with ten minutes to spare and liberally applied bug repellent, which we ended up sharing around because there were large, hungry mosquitoes preying on the other druids. Apparently this is the first time they’ve ever had mosquitoes bother them at the site in ten years. The floods our state had experienced earlier this month apparently had left ideal conditions for them though.

We had a chance to socialize for about twenty minutes prior to the ritual starting due to late runners. During which time the senior druid handed out the copies of the ritual for everyone so they could follow along, join in at the appropriate moments and in case they weren’t familiar with the songs to be sung.

The ritual went smoothly for the most part and the excitement and joviality was palpable in the air. (I’ll go into the actual ritual more below when I answer the questions required and the homework questions from Through the Wheel of the Year). Our blessing was accepted and a positive omen was received, everyone was thrilled. After the ritual finished we departed to the area where we were going to share our meal singing the recessional song.

We spent a good hour or so breaking bread and chatting happily in the sunshine before it was time to pack up and depart. It was a truly positive experience and I think a further step towards making good solid friendships, I intend to get to as many High Days with the Grove as possible and other events they run because they are such a wonderful community but they were very accepting of the distance and cost of travelling so far and that I wouldn’t be able to make them all.

Homework

How did the rite go in terms of structure?

The rite was written by senior druids of the grove and followed the the ADF Core Order of Ritual. So we had the following (I may have missed some of it and/or misunderstood where parts fit into the order but this is what I’ve interpreted as happening):
– Processional
– Establishment of Group Mind/Statement of Purpose
– Honoring the Earth Mother
– Centering/Grounding/Purification
– Establishing the Sacred Centre
– Opening the Gates
– Inviting the Kindreds (Placating the Outdwellers)
– Key Offerings
– Prayer of Sacrifice
– Seeking the Omen
– Calling for Blessings
– Hallowing the Blessing
– Affirmation of the Blessing
– Thanking the Beings
– Closing the Gates
– Closing the Rites
– Recessional

What things went wrong during the ritual? 

Nothing major went wrong with the ritual, there were a few lines that were stumbled on but corrected and one part the person doing the parts for the Nature Spirits needed prompting for one of his lines, the only other thing that happened which I don’t know if can be interpreted as going wrong or not was the tree that was used for building the cosmos shed a large amount of bark as we were closing the gates.

Who were the patrons of the rite, and who was the gatekeeper?

The gatekeeper was Manannan mac Lir for this ritual and the patron was Danu.

Did you have problems with saying the words without stumbling, or did everything come out smoothly? 

For the most part I went well with the parts I got to speak for although I did get tongue tied once or twice when we were singing songs during the rite.

Did you forget to bring a sacrifice? 

I didn’t forget to bring a sacrifice, I didn’t feel comfortable doing so and thankfully it was optional for individuals to make sacrifices as the Grove made a number as part of the ritual.

Were you alone, or with a group?

I was with an ADF Grove for this ritual, which made it feel even more special as my first ritual since joining ADF that I celebrated a High Day with a Grove.

If you were with a group, did you say anything or do anything?

I have to confess to being too shy to have a speaking role this time around, I was worried my mild dyslexia would flare up from nerves and that I’d mangle it, so I only spoke or sung during the parts of ritual where we were all meant to do so. The senior druid has encouraged me to accept a speaking role next time I attend a ritual with them though and I agreed.

Did you feel anything during the ritual?

I felt a lot of joy and love during the ritual, I honestly cannot say if it was from the working done by the grove or if it was just pure excitement at being there with the Grove participating in Beltane.

Did you experience doubt or confidence? 

I experienced some pre-ritual doubt, which caused me to decline a speaking role in the ritual. I kind of regret letting doubt get to me like that but I am not going to let it ruin the experience. As I already said earlier I have agreed to take a speaking role next time.

 

What omens were drawn (if any), and what did they tell you?

The senior druid played the part of the seer and using an ogham card deck drew the omen. We got Apple which was interpreted as a very good sign. They said it was the symbol new beginnings and growth and that the apple is often one of the first trees to flower. Apparently, other meanings that can be taken from the Apple are the pursuit of beautiful things, and the anticipation of reaping the beauty later that we sow today.

Could you feel the presence of any deities, spirits, or powers?

I didn’t feel the presence of any Shining Ones but I suspect that may be because I am not familiar with the Celtic pantheon and don’t work with them personally. I thought I could feel the presence of something during the parts where we were honoring the nature spirits though, like a warm, gentle presence.

What else about the rite struck you, or do you want to share?

I cannot think of anything else that I want to say about the ritual that I haven’t already.

Week Three – DPWotY

Ok, the last post for this week I promise!

So this week’s lesson is all about preparing for your first High Day, which as we established in the last post will be Beltane or  Walpurgisnacht. As promised by Rev Michael J Dangler it is a big week, there was a lot of reading to cover, which I suspect not all of sunk in yet. :/

So apparently all the questions for this week can be merged together into the first essay on the High Days. Seems simple enough on the surface, however it means carefully considering my answers as I go. Thankfully I can revise everything here as I assemble my final document to submit for consideration so if I gain greater insights I can incorporate them. It is kind of comforting knowing that I can come back to this with new eyes.

Are there any myths that are celebrated in connection with this feast?  If so, what are they, and how do they fit in? 

While I’m sure that there are myths connected to this feast I’ve not been able to find any that have any real merit (in other words they were not backed up with any kind of evidence, links to historical documents or passages in the Sagas and Eddas).

What does this holiday or time of year mean to you?

For me, this holiday means that the weather is finally going to turn better, that I can plant out seeds for plants that can’t tolerate frost because we should not be getting more frost. It also means an end to being trapped indoors day after day due to heavy rain, hail or snow and the freedom to get out into nature again, to see my favourite haunts in nature and that I get to attend Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering.

Do you look forward to it?

Yes. Always, I think this is easily one of my favourite times of the year. The energy of Beltane is always so joyful, I can’t help but look forward to it. I associate Beltane with the emotions joy and happiness and so it always feels like a celebration when this time of year comes around.

Are there secular aspects of the holiday that mean a lot to you, or perhaps holdovers or memories of your childhood that you cherish?

I suppose there are, I grew up on a cattle farm and we were always told to play outside during the day. We would leave the house after breakfast and only return to the house for lunch and again in the evening for dinner. This time of year was always great because frogs would be spawning in the dams and the creek, plants were budding and flowering and some animals were giving birth already. For us, as children, this was all magical and we loved exploring the countryside during this season, we’d spent all winter making games in barns or tree houses and now we were free.

How do you know when this day arrives?

The land starts to dry out, the rains ease off and the land begins to wake up. At home the fruit trees start to get new growth, the Hawthorn by the back gate likewise gets a flush of growth and usually has its first flush of flowers just in time for Beltane. Also, there is a lightness of the soul that I always feel at this time of year without fail.

Do you look at the calendar, or do you just know it has come?

Without looking at the calendar you know it has come, the signs are there, combined with a feeling. However the fact that the annual Beltane celebration I go to is marked on my calendar also provides a constant reminder and helps build the sense of excitement as the date gets closer and closer.

If you have children (or wish to have children), what key traditions do you wish to pass down to them?

I don’t have children and it doesn’t seem likely that they will be on the cards for me but if I did have children I would love to pass on to them the sense of celebration and joy this time of year brings, show them that the land is waking up, teach them to dance the Maypole and enjoy the magic happening around them.

What, if anything, is spiritual or religious to you about this High Day or time of year, and how do you show that?

For me the land around me waking up after a long cold winter is very spiritual, I show this by spending time outdoors, talking to trees, tending my garden and making sure it is well, going out into the forest and meditating, singing and dancing to share my joy with the nature spirits.

Are there any traditions that your Grove has for this High Day?

I don’t belong to a grove yet, I may not either, it will depend on how compatible we are as to whether I will consider myself to belong to my local grove. As for traditions it has? I will have to learn that, I suspect they will have them because they too seem to get a lot of joy out of this time of year.

Finally, is there anything else about this holiday that you would like to add?

It would seem that Freyja is one of the deities most commonly associated with Beltane for those of a Norse perspective, so it would do well to make sure that she is offered sacrifice. Although I already was aware that Beltane was a time of love, it would seem from my reading that it is also a time for healing and foretelling.

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. 😉

Week One – DPWotY

So here I am, a newly signed up member of the ADF, the excitement of joining still fresh writing my first entry on my journey down the Dedicant Path. After a good rummage around on the member’s section of the website, a read of Our Own Druidry and Through the Wheel of the Year I’ve started to understand exactly how big a task I have set for myself.

I recently spoke to several ADF members at a local pagan gathering that were in various points of completing the Dedicants Path along with senior ADF members who had never completed it. They were all thrilled that after six months of agonizing over the decision to join that I had come down on the side of joining and had almost finished saving up to do so. As strange as it might sound to some at that moment, with those people I realized I had come home. I couldn’t wait to start. So here I am, a newly joined member jumping in the deep end. Again.

I’ve decided to work through the workbook of Through the Wheel of the Year, despite the fact it is ‘more work’ because it offers up a comfortingly structured approach to the DP. Week One readings were sections of Our Own Druidry but were followed up by two suggested readings, one on journaling our experiences as Druids and the other on the uncertainty of facing the Dedicants Path.

Both were interesting, the second one because it spoke to some of my insecurities going in. Although I come to the ADF with thirteen years as an eclectic pagan under my belt and two years identifying as a Heathen, which meant I had my pantheon and a lot of my experimenting out of my system I am still walking into the unknown with no certainty that I am doing the right thing or doing this right. However, I look at the tagline ‘Why not excellence?’ and think I’ll give this my best and if I fail I’ll do it trying my darndest.

So now that I’ve shared some of my thoughts it is time for the Week 1 questions:

Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?

This answer can be broken down into three parts. The first part is that I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few ADF public rituals already so I knew I liked the way the ADF ran rituals and was keen to learn more. The second part has to do with my own personal journey, I had been feeling like my growth as a pagan had halted and that I was plateauing and was looking for a way to continue on, rather than stagnating like I had seen friends do. The third and final reason really is simple. I paid to be a member, I want to make sure I get something out of that sacrifice (I am on a low income so joining ADF was a financial sacrifice, one that I made willingly after careful consideration).

Is this a step on your path, or will this become the Path itself?

My crystal ball is in the shop for repairs so I’ll have to wing this one. It is a step on my path certainly, but I won’t know for know at least if this will become the path itself. I guess in some ways it could be both, only time and perseverance will tell.

What do you expect to learn?

I expect to learn better skills in running ritual, meditation and communicating with my gods and goddesses as well as the world around me. I *hope* that I will also learn more about myself as well.

What would I like to get out of this journey?

A healthier personal practice and an ability to understand my fellow ADF members own practices.

Do you know where this journey will take you?

Honestly? No idea, but that is ok, it is like an adventure. I may not actually be a hobbit and there probably isn’t a mountain out there with a dragon sitting on a hoard of gold but with luck it will change me for the better.

If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?

I think in all honesty I joined the ADF so I could undergo the Dedicants Path, I had read all the publicly available information on it before I joined. So now I’m a member I see no point in putting it off.

Does it look hard or easy?

A little of both I think, hopefully using Through the Wheel of the Year it will be easier because it gives me structure and a plan despite the extra work. However if it is hard, well not everything comes easy and that is ok.

Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy? 

The Oath Rite and the Meditation Journal both scare the heck out of me at the moment and seem hard at this point in time. I’ll probably eat my words later but the rest seems pretty straight forward and easy at this stage, a sentiment I’m sure I’ll re-evaluate later and laugh at my naivety.

Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?

That I need to ask about no, that are probably completely unfounded and silly yes.