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 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.