*This will be a tiny bit long winded as it is a first post, but in future I will probably be a little more direct...maybe haha* You can skip to the end if you are here just to read my Week 1 assignment.
Oh dear it has been a while since I have formally blogged about anything that wasn't relationship related. But to be honest, it has been far longer since I have put a ton of thought in to my religious ideas and if I am facing one right now, why not the other as well, right?
I have always considered myself "Pagan" because I wasn't "Christian." I resented titles because I never felt like I fit nicely into one category. From an early age I felt more connected with climbing trees, playing outside, going hiking and camping, and generally I have always used nature to help sooth me when I feel unbalanced. Living in the Pacific NW allowed me every resource within a couple miles that I could ask for. I grew up visiting the ocean, spelunking in caves, climbing huge trees, going to desert areas to find fossils, fishing and collecting salamanders and frogs in hidden ponds and runing away from the city to watch shooting stars at night. Nature called to me far more than church did. So I decided that my "religion" was closer to a thankful worship of the unity in natural balance. I was thankful for the seasons changing, I was thankful for the beauty all around me, and being aware of all the little things helped me find joy when everything else stressed me out. Details; like a dew drop on a spider web, like the complex color patterns on the petals of a flower, like the various colors of minerals in riverbed rocks became meditative to me. Nature became my reminder to SLOW DOWN and appreciate the details of everything.
This is crucial to someone like me as I am a very high anxiety, people pleasing, extrovert. My life is ALWAYS chaos. I am always balancing a million things at once. If there is genuinely nothing going on in my life, I am miserable, so I am never dormant.
This is where religion and nature has helped me find the strength to power through the chaos.
I discovered ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) last fall when a friend of mine suggested we go to a public
Lughnasadh ritual. To be honest...I had no idea what that meant. I was loosely familiar with the Wiccan holiday Lammas but I had no idea what lughasadh was. All I knew was that this group was a public druid group and that I wanted to find a local community of people who liked nature as much as I did. During this ritual I learned that Lughnasadh was a Celtic holiday and it was very similar to Lammas and I learned that this local ADF protogrove cycled through various hearth cultures; Celtic, Norse (Vikings!), Roman, Hellenic, etc. This combined both the Nature Loving community and the HISTORY/RELIGION academic love I have deep in my heart.
ADF, Columbia Protogrove, would give me something that religion has never done; It encouraged me to grow organically and learn from and with others.
It encouraged personal religion growth and religious acceptance and understanding.
Have you ever gone to a Baptist church and have your pastor say "Next week's sermon will be Lutheran. We all believe in Christianity so we want to provide a community for ALL Christians and encourage everyone to learn various denominations and follow the one that feels best to them while understanding the others as well"
Most likely not. But this grove did that and both my inner Pagan and Anthropologist squealed with delight!
A few public rituals later, I decided to learn more about what ADF actually was. I enjoyed the public community, but what was this religious label that I was becoming more and more immersed in? I had heard they were a Druid group. I had always thought of Druids as Nature loving, Academic, Magical Priests. "Druid" is a title that is very symbiotic with "Witch" in my mind with the difference being that Witches cast spells and Druids study, a lot. As weird as it sounds to some, I am very drawn to academia. I am a nerd, an over achiever, my GPA has always been high and I thrive when challenged. I liked that Druids were Academic. When I discovered that ADF had a Dedicant program; an entire year devoted to understanding your faith, with book reports, essays, journal entries and accountability, I literally freaked out!
This path would encourage me to truly shape my religious ideas. To GROW and LEARN instead of follow doctrine in a public space. Churches teach you how to follow their faith, ADF teaches you ways to find your faith and encourages you to dissect it. There is also a week by week program to follow that breaks the year of academic growth into small chunks. I like that. So without further adeu,
Week 1 Assignment:
Answer the following questions.
Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?
- Because I am eager to learn more about Druidry, ADF and shape my own beliefs. I think right now is as good a time as ever and its ideal as I have a lovely study group to bounce ideas around with.
Is this a step on your path, or will this become the path itself?
-Interesting question, while I think this is a path in itself I am human and thus I will change my ideas over time likely so this will be only the start of my spirituality.
What do you expect to learn?
- I expect to learn more about Celtic history (the history of my heritage and a history that has called to me but I have not looked into researching near enough). I expect to learn ways to incorporate meditation and religion into my daily life. I expect to learn more about my thoughts on religion in general and myself.
What would you like to get out of this journey?
-From an academic standpoint, a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge to support my religious decisions and ideas. From a spiritual standpoint, I hope to get a sense of direction in my all-over-the-place, somewhat ADD, religious ideas.
Do you know where this path will take you?
-No. And I don't want too. All paths worth taking in life will take you through uncharted waters, through roads less traveled, and through darkness without lanterns, it is through these challenging paths that we truly learn about ourselves. If I knew the end of my story I would never start it or never learn from mistakes. I want to grow and I want the ability to grow outside my original ideas.
If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediatly?
-Mostly because of timing. I have the joy of having a study group community and there are several of us doing the Dedicant program all at once. :) I basically fell down the rabbit hole of "holy crap this sounds awesome" and would have started on my own though had I not had this group.
If you have been ADF for a long time, why are you starting only now?
-This one does not apply to me.
Does it look hard or easy?
-Parts look easy, others hard. My life is very busy, but I think a lot. I'm a creature of analysis and of balance but time is always my restrictive area. I also think it will be rather hard to write less on topics that I am passionate about haha.
Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?
-It will be difficult to find time to meditate. It will be difficult to write concisely instead of creatively. It will be difficult to not fall behind because I can be rather lazy. It will be easy to research High Days. (because they are interesting!) It will be easy to reflect on High Day rituals. It will be easy to find my heart in the reading.
Do you have doubts, questions, concerns that you need to talk about?
-Not really, my biggest doubt is that I am leading our study group and I am really afraid of falling behind and letting others down. On the flip side, I think this study group will keep me motivated and I really do need that as I have a bad habit of ADD all over the place thinking despite my love for organized academic focus. haha
That's it for week 1!