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 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.

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.