Text of my Dedicant Oath.
“I come into this sacred grove among those who seek the elder ways. I come to the fire and approach the gods with pride and wonder, as a seeker of blessing. I come to the Well among all my ancestors; I come to the Tree to commune and honor all the spirits of the land.
I am here to make this oath of dedication to the path of wisdom, the path of the Druid
I ask my gods and you all to bear witness to my oath, and guide and ward my way.
Let the Kindreds three, my deities, and all of you look on me kindly as I make my oath
I bring offerings today to the Goddess Brighid who has been my passion, my fire, and my support.
I bring offerings to the many Morrigan who have shaped this path to their will and who have challenged me.
I am a child of earth. I come before my friends, my Gods and my Kindred to make an oath to the powers of the worlds.
My name is Amber, known by many names including Spider, and it is my will to walk to Pagan way. So I swear by the gods, and by the dead, and by the land spirits. I swear to live by the virtues, to strive to live well and to do good.
I swear to acknowledge the High Days, keeping the wheel of the year. I swear to seek the truth of the elder ways and learn from my ancestors, ever growing my wisdom.
These things I swear by the well that flows in me, by the fire that burns in me, and the tree that roots and crowns my soul.
Before all the powers and especially before Brighid and the Morrigans, I swear it. May the three kindred rise against me if I am forsworn. So be it!
Let my voice arise on the fire, let my voice resound in the well, let my words pass the boundary to the spirits. Mighty, Noble and Shining ones, accept my sacrifices and my oath.”
Dedicant Oath Self Evaluation:
I decided to host my Dedicant Oath ADF ritual in my home and invited several friends and members of my grove to join me, there were 10 of us all together. I was nervous to start despite the f act that I had completed 2 run-throughs before my guests even showed up because I kept thinking I was going to forget an offering or some small detail. Thankfully, as the ritual started, my nerves calmed and I fell into the familiar flow of the ADF Core Order of Ritual and could feel myself connecting. We called upon Lugh as our warrior and offered him Irish whiskey. We called upon Danu as our Earth Mother and Columbia (A Sovereign Goddess of our land) and offered them both milk.
The only upset that happened during the ritual itself was with the Two Power’s meditation. I had planned on everyone listening to an audio recording, but after getting about a minute into it, the technology failed me and I couldn’t get it to play. This was actually a blessing in disguise as my instinct was to come up with a Two Power meditation on the spot. I was really nervous and trembled a bit, I do alterations to a basic Two Power meditation often in my own practice, but in ritual environments I have always used a script. This time I had neither resource; audio or script, and people already had their eyes closed, waiting for the meditation to resume. So I just started speaking and feeling the meditation myself. What I felt came out as words for others to take back into themselves. I could literally feel the energy flow throughout the room. It was powerful. It was the most powerful meditation I have ever been part of in terms of genuinely feeling the circuit of rejuvenating energy that the Two Powers meditation is used for. After the ritual was over, several of my grove members asked me to write down my meditation so that we could use it for the next main grove High Day. I am very proud of my perseverance in the moment, rather than letting the upset ruin the entire experience or break ritual focus.
We hallowed the Well, Tree, and Fire portals with silver, birdseed and oil. We called upon Manannán mac Lir as our Gatekeeper and offered him Irish whiskey. We made offerings to the Three Kindred once the gates had been opened. We offered beer to the Ancestors, nuts, seeds and mushrooms to the Nature Spirits, and Irish whiskey to the Gods and Goddesses.
I called upon my matron Goddesses, Brigid and The Morrigan and I had special shrines set up to each one. To Brigid, I offered fire by lighting a candle specific to this rite, I offered milk as proper as we enter into Imbolc, and lastly I offered dried flower petals from spring flowers last year. It is too early for our bulbs to be blooming yet but I wanted her to have some of the beauty that is on its way because of her earth’s warming.
To The Morrigan sisters, I offered Irish whiskey, as they always want the spirits when I offer. I offered to them Chrysanthemums flowers as they are flowers for the dead and dying and lastly I offered a slightly taboo offering in a modern pagan world, I offered bullets as they are a symbol of a modern warrior.
I made my oath with much more force behind my words than I had expected and everything seemed to fit in its place. The whole ritual flowed and the energy traveled like a circuit around the room started with the energy raised in the Two Powers meditation.
My omen’s were a bit more abstract in their interpretation and instead of drawing 3 cards (one for each Kindred) I drew 5 (including Brigid and The Morrigan). All of them seemed to point into the direction that I am letting my heart guide me a bit too much and its causing unnecessary turmoil in my life and that I need to be thinking more critically and logically AND remembering to slow down and see the world for what is actually going on. The omen that really stood out to me the most was the card drawn for the Ancestors. It happened to be an “extra” card in my Oracle deck, and as such, had no specific meaning attached to it. But looking into the card I saw that it was chosen for a reason. I have a very strong fondness of mushrooms and this card was covered in them along a forest floor. It reminded me of the world’s largest organism being a mushroom here in Oregon. This fungus grows under the soil, where the bones of the ancestors lie. It spans across miles and shows a strong connection to nature and to the dead. I interpret this card as a message of support and friendship, of the natural cycles of death and decomposition, and of rebirth.
After the Omen, I consumed the Waters of Life, blessed by the messages of the Kindred and also blessed a wooden token to serve as a reminder of my oath and of my path moving forward. We thanked all the Kindreds and concluded the rite.
Every ritual has it’s mistakes or unexpected moments. I think that it was exactly those moments that really brought depth to this ritual. I was when I was caught off guard and had to rely on my knowledge, on energy levels, and on the Virtues that the ritual really developed past a script on a piece of paper. I am tremendously thankful of all I have learned through my Dedicant Path and how it prepared me for such a powerful moment in my spiritual life. This ritual has meant the world to me.
Book Review: Modern Paganism
The book I have chosen for the Modern Paganism requirement of the ADF Dedicant Path is Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler.
When I was just starting out as a budding pagan I was recommended this book and never got around to reading it. This is something that I now regret as it really is a great overview of the progression of modern paganism.
While not a small book, it is very easy to read to a degree that I power read it within a couple days. In the chapter Neo-Pagan World Views I found one of the very things that drew me to paganism to begin with, scholarly work. The term “hands-in-the-dirt archaeologists” digging out odd facts and titled “scholars without degrees” (pg 37) really hit close to home for me as I was previously an Anthropology major who’s passion has never died despite the fact that I did not obtain that degree. Its very true that all the pagans I know, read. I cannot say the same about the Christians that I know.
My ears pearked up any time that Isaac Bonewits was mentioned and I enjoyed reading about his involvement with both the Pagan revival and Druidic movements (and ADF creation). These are areas of interest to me but I didn’t expect to learn that his relationship with the Wiccans/the Craft was so stormy (pg 67). It made sense, however, as Bonewits was more focused on scholarly work (often seen as spiritually inflexible) as opposed to more free-thought spiritualties. He valued order and historically accurate knowledge and wrote a book on the “Myth of Wicca”, which naturally made waves and enemies of practitioners of the Craft.
The whole chapter on interviewing the modern witch was very outdated and not very useful to help me understand modern practice, but that is also because there is such a wide variety of modern ways to practice witchcraft/wicca/the Craft.
The chapter on Women, Feminism, and the Craft opened my eyes a bit to the political link between the 60’s and 70’s rise of feminism in America in general opposing a patriarchal system of government. Feminist witches began to state that “Witchcraft is not incompatible with politics” and that “the Craft is a religion historically conceived in rebellion therefore it continues the ancient fight against oppression” (pg 178). While I agree that this is a very important way to think I did get a lot of man-bashing on an overall level in this chapter and the exclusion (and sometimes outright denial) of men in Witchcraft practice. Such was the case of witch Z Budapest when she declared the craft to be “Wimmins Religion” not open to men. (pg 178) I have witnessed this first hand in modern Wicca/Witchcraft groups as well and does not reflect my views on true feminism equality.
In contrast to the chapter on Women Feminism and the Craft was the chapter on Radical Faeries and the Growth of Men’s Spirituality. I was very disappointed with the size of this chapter for the very reasons listed above. Men began to feel like the pagan “Goddess” focus was a bit too extreme in only one direction and that male “God” deities had been forgotten and/or shunned outright despite historical evidence to their practice. One of the reasons I am particularly fond of ADF Druidry is that it is not strictly Goddess centered and instead includes focus on both female and male (sometimes other genders as well) deities. This chapter talked about men who felt very isolated and rejected in their practice and their wanting to work with their Sisters on issues that effect everyone (pg 339). I was a somewhat relived to read about witch Z Budapest’s inclusion of male practitioners in the 1980’s as guardians and protectors of the skyclad women in the circle but then frustrated that they were not allowed to participate within the rite itself. The statement from one man, “If you think it’s hard to free yourself rom being the oppressed, think how much harder it is to free yourself from being the oppressor” (pg 348) really sums up the uphill battle that men have been fighting to be included in modern pagan practice. It is nice to see so many men at the pagan events I attend in modern day, but the prejudice is still out there for sure.
Lastly, I would like to comment on an element in Appendix III that I found particularly fascinating; Isaac Bonewits’s “Cult Danger Evaluation Frame” checklist. When I first saw this list I chuckled to myself thinking about how many times I have been accused of joining a cult by my Christian/Atheist/Agnostic friends. Upon really reading the list I felt that there were a lot of really good points listed. One of the main ones to me is “Wisdom Claimed” by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared about decisions. This is so fundamentally anti-ADF from my perspective as ADF cultural understanding is constantly being updated by modern archaeology and open to so many new ideas. Unlike books of the bible, we allow Archaeology to change our perspectives or at the very least, encourage practitioners to know the most accurate, proven information not strictly in a religious context.
Overall, I really liked this book. I learned a massive amount about early Wicca movements and about Druidry movements as well. I wish there had been more written about ADF Druidry but I was thankful to have so much content on Isaac Bonewits to read about. I understand why this book was recommended to me and would highly recommend it to others.
Adler, Margot. Drawing down the Moon: witches, Druids, goddess-worshippers, and other pagans in America today. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. Print.
Book Review: Indo-European History
The book I have chosen for the Indo-European history requirement of the ADF Dedicant Path is A History of Pagan Europe by Prudence Jones & Nigel Pennick.
The very first line of this book states;
“In this book we describe the hidden history of Europe, the persistence of its native religion in various forms from ancient times right up to present day” (pg 1)
This is not only an accurate overview but also provides the reader the perspective of Indo European Europe not only as a historical account, but also written with a strong focus that these religions are practiced today as well. A major argument this title proposes is that not only is paganism rooted in Indo-European Practice still practiced but that it is actually flourishing more and more openly practiced in present day.
This book focuses on a great deal of Indo-European cultures including the Greeks and Eastern Mediterranean, Rome and the Western Mediterranean and the Roman Empire, the Celtic and Later Celtic world, the Germanic Peoples and late Germanic Lands, and the Baltic lands and Russia. While I was familiar with some of these cultures, many were new to me on a scholarly paganism level and this book gave a great look into how similar styles of paganism were practiced within the Indo-European spectrum. It is not hard to infer religious importance from neighboring cultures that share a similar language pattern when our historical information is missing.
I really enjoyed reading about Russia and the Balkans as this was an area of religious study that I had not studied before. I was surprised to read that celebrating Midsummer as a national holiday was abolished as recently as the 1960s by the Soviets and that Paganism in generally only began to experience some toleration around 1988 or so. An interesting point I noticed regarding deities was that like Germanic pantheons, the moon is a masculine deity and the sun is feminine which makes sense given their proximity as opposed to the Mediterranean pantheons.
One thing I did not particularly care for with this book was the literary pace in which deities seemed to be “thrown at” the reader. While reading through the Celtic World chapter in particular I had to stop a few times because the content was so condensed and multiple gods were introduced very quickly in such a way that it was really hard to keep up. I am someone rather familiar with these particular deities so the fact that I struggled to keep up is concerning in how I feel the average reader might perceive this or any other chapters. I felt this way with several other cultures in the book as well but I had wondered if my unfamiliarity with the deities was the issue, however, when I got to the Celtic chapters I realized that it was an overall writing style and it did not work for me. This writing style could likely have been remedied had this book been another 50-100 pages longer or so in length.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants some good basic information about a variety of different cultures and their practices of Paganisim following the Indo-European language patterns. I would caution them, however, that the content moves very quickly and that skimming the text may not be beneficial to good learning. While it may be enjoyable for some readers to focus on one culture in great depth forsaking the others, this book provides a lot of good information about neighboring cultures that help paint a more complete picture of what pagan faith was like in days of old. I believe that it is through understanding this history that modern pagans can respectfully honor the old ways in a modern world with genuine cultural acknowledgement.
Jones, Prudence, and Nigel Pennick. A history of pagan Europe. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.
Mental Discipline Final Essay
6: Meditation/Mental Discipline Essay
Meditation has never come easy to me. I have always been a bit of a hyper person and I’ve struggled with maintaining regular breathing in Yoga and even in childbirth with my son. I have always had an issue with “calming down” and finding deep ways to maintain focus. The Dedicant Path focus on mental discipline and meditation was one of the requirements I feared I may not be able to complete. I would try my best, but I did not have high hopes.
When I started the Dedicant path in January 2016 I decided to try listening to audio recordings of the Two Power meditation and while I enjoyed the words, I did not have any real meaningful experience in the beginning and found my thoughts wander around to anything else. I tried putting in earphones to help drown out distractions, but it still did not always help a whole lot. Those first few weeks from January 6th to around February 1st I tried and tried to just use the Two Powers meditation to orient myself with it. Finally as I entered into week 4, I started visualizing the meditation as a circuit and feeling “cold” and “warm” travel through my body. It was a surreal experience and when I first “snapped out of it” and realized that I had removed myself from all outside distractions for the first time. I was really proud of myself.
The Two Powers meditation started being something I would do weekly, listening to a recorded version, using headphones, sometimes at home and other times at school. The week of February 22nd I found that I could remove myself much easier when sitting in a quiet area at school than I could in my own home. After a while of listening to the same audio meditation over and over I grew bored, and knew I needed to find new ways to meditate.
From the beginning of March until well into April, I began to flounder with meditation again for a while. I was so hung up on how to do a meditation “right” and worried I was doing something wrong because I simply couldn’t focus anymore. I tried an audio-guided trance meditation on March 23rd with good intentions but then laughed at some of the wording the recording artist had used and realized I had ruined the meditation for myself.
I had this idea of “failing” a meditation that I couldn’t move past and I struggled for several weeks. I would get mad at myself and went back to my old ways of thinking “I just can’t meditate.” ( I actually wrote those words on two entries in March, on the 20th and 29th!) On April 14th I asked my husband for help as he had just went to a Meditation Retreat and he had came back with some amazing ideas.
He suggested that I try different ways to meditate than simply sitting in a room and listening to an audio recording. I was introduced to the idea of meditation by physical movement, by repetitive processes, by using senses other than just auditory.
The week of April 25th, I began to try running and meditating. I removed my headphones and set out to run knowing I would be able to focus on my breath. When I run I always go to a sort of “trance-like” place anyway, so why not try meditating during it? As I ran past the city and trees in the park I opened my mind and felt a pounding connection with the earth each time my foot hit the pavement. I felt the earth shake; I felt roots from my feet go deep into the earth. I felt the sun’s daylight above me shining down one me urging me to keep going. I felt the same sort of connection I had with the Two Powers meditation simply by being outside and running. My heart raced, I truly felt like an energized circuit and I realized that physical meditation is something that comes to me quite easily. At the end of my run, not only did I feel proud of the physical exercise (like I generally do), but I felt spiritually energized and rejuvenated too. My meditation had reset my day and given me a new perspective.
I continued to run and meditate several days a week into May. Some days I would repeat a mantra to a deity and visualize them in front of me, or running beside me. On May 30th I decided to try meditating on a virtue and go to a place where I could let my thoughts flow freely. It worked really well and I cycled through the virtues while I ran twice a week into June.
This new form of meditation caused me to consider other methods as well. Repetition became another meditation tool that I began to use. On June 23rd I tried to draw not knowing what I was intending to create, I just opened my mind to whatever my pen wanted to draw. I drew some of the most amazing artworks while my thoughts moved from one deity to the next, one virtue to the next, one element of my spirituality to another.
On July 2nd I noted that I was practicing focused meditation at least 3 days a week and I had been writing down my experiences, thoughts, and collecting my drawings into a journal that was filling up rapidly. I revisited the Two Powers meditation that week and found a new connection to it again because I wasn’t so convinced that “just couldn’t meditate.” I tried trance meditations again on July 21st and realized just how powerful they could be for journey work. Once I found some meditation tools that worked for me easily, I began to know what sort of spiritual and emotional space I needed to be in to meditate in ways I had “failed” before.
A very important meditation moment for myself was on May 17th when I was standing at the Vista House in the Columbia Gorge in Oregon. From the top of a cliff you can look down at the Columbia River as far as the eye can see before being obstructed by trees. It was sunset and the sky was a salmon pink color. It was breathtaking and I was there to take photos for Columbia Grove’s website. I put all other things aside (mentally and physically) and took a moment to meditate in that environment. The gorgeous view, the smells of the gorge, the breeze blowing across my skin, the sound of the trees near me creaking; I took it all in. I saw a vision of a woman walking up to her waist through the water. She had on a salmon colored dress, like the sunset, and her fingertips were dancing on the water as fish swam around them. She had darker skin, like the indigenous peoples of our area and she had a long feather in her hair. As soon as I saw her, I knew her to be the Goddess Columbia, our grove’s goddess of sovereignty. It was a short meditation but it felt like I watched her for a much longer time. On the way home I kept that image of her in my mind and upon getting home I brought out my pens and began drawing her. The image I drew is now our Grove’s logo. I am a woman who never thought she could meditate, and now my grove uses a piece of artwork that came to me through a meditation, this is a very big deal to me.
This journey of building mental discipline and practicing regular meditation has helped in many areas of my life. It has helped me slow down, quiet my mind, and pay attention to details more. It has helped me “feel” more clearly with all of my senses and it has deepened my spiritual relationship to the Kindred because I have taken the time to open myself up to them.
Personal Religion Final Essay
10: Personal Spirituality Essay
I was a druid looking for a scholarly-based group before I even knew that’s what ADF was. I didn’t identify as a druid when I stumbled into my first ADF ritual but I had had a bad experience with a wicca coven around 2006 and had stayed away from any organized group ever since. I was a free-spirit eclectic witch with deep-rooted passions in botany and history.
A friend suggested we attend a public ADF ritual with a new group local to me and although I was hesitant, I decided to give it a shot. What I experienced at that ritual was a group of what felt like everyday normal people, doing magical workings and teaching stories at the same time. I had never been to a druid ritual before and I had never learned so many new things about specific gods and goddesses in a ritual environment either. This ritual was Columbia Grove’s Lughnassadh (2013), honoring the Irish Celtic hearth. I watched offerings being made, I witnessed group meditations in ritual and most important to me, I learned about Lugh, and Danu and about The Morrigan. Even though I was unfamiliar with these deities, a spark was lit and I wanted to know more about their history and worship.
I spoke with the ritual leader after the rite was over and he explained to me that Columbia grove did all eight High Days publically and cycled through different cultures. I was over the moon excited as I had been an anthropology major previously and I loved the idea of learning about different cultures as well as being part of a pagan community.
I dove headfirst into learning about ADF and the differences between Druidry and Wicca. I learned about the Dedicant study path and I knew I wanted to do it. I am scholarly driven and I enjoy a good book on history and religion. I have always struggled with meditations, and putting my spiritual emotions into words, but this group brought out the scholar side of me and a brief introduction to the Dedicant Path had me eager to start.
I attended 2 ADF rituals with Columbia, and then an ADF ritual at Trout Lake Abby for Samhain lead by former Archdruid Kirk Thomas. If I had not already felt pulled to ADF druidry by Columbia Grove, it was Kirk’s ritual that drove the nail home. I had never had a genuine religious connection in ritual until that Samhain when he opened the gates as the sun was setting. Mount Addams seemed to glow, the waning moon was visible in a cloudless sky and a hawk flew overhead as Kirk drew energy from the crowd and from Manannán mac Lir. We were surrounded by trees and nature and I felt, for the first time, connected spiritually with where I was suppose to be in that moment. I felt at home. This was the first ritual I felt like I could be a Druid.
Imbolc of 2014 I officially joined ADF and Columbia Grove as a member of both. I started looking at the Dedicant path but was pulled several ways as Columbia needed some strong members to put in the time and work to lead public rituals and work with the community. In many ways, I was thrown into the deep end before learning to swim. I had just joined Columbia officially right before Imbolc and the grove leader had asked me to preform a small task of handing out stones and receiving messages for Brigid. I was nervous, and I decided to start praying to her to see if I could form a relationship to her. I researched Brigid, I sang to her, I gave her offerings of milk and I began to feel that she were with me telling me that I was strong and that she supported me in my role.
I collected earth from beneath an oak tree and hollowed out a bowl shape to make an earthen candle. I also decided to drag out my sewing machine and to sew a gown inspired by Brigid’s fire. It was a milk white gown with long red flame-like sleeves. The first gown I had made in years.
My first ritual as a member resulted in me taking a lot more responsibility than simply a priestess of Brigid, I became a face for Columbia and found my place as a budding ritual leader. It felt amazing to feel so much, both from a personal experience and from a community standpoint. I realized I was doing something that I desperately needed to be doing.
It was after that first ritual that I decided that in an act of personal piety, I would not only take as many parts as possible in the year’s rituals, but I would learn about different deities and sew a gown inspired by each high day for the entire year. I did far more than succeed at that. I found myself at Beltane co-leading my first ritual ever (with a broken foot none-the-less). I began work on my Dedicant path. I learned about public ritual from the outside in, and learned about ADF and the history of modern paganism from the inside out. Both of these elements went through me like an electric current and I wanted to learn and do as much as I could.
That entire first year of my membership with Columbia, I helped it grow strong and draw in some truly amazing people that would later become members as well. My focus was always on community work and providing the best researched rituals that I could. My Dedicant work fell a bit to the wayside as I was out doing the work instead of writing about it. I had never felt a deity, called to them, or heard them call to me before honoring Brigid that first Imbolc. I work with Brigid daily now and have a shrine to her beside my ADF home shrine.
Working through the Dedicant path helped in many other areas of my spirituality outside the public community and ritual performance. I learned different ways to meditate; something I had always felt was a spiritual dead end for me. I learned new books to read on the Indo-European history and the Irish Celtic culture. I learned how to honor, respect and understand the three Kindred even though I struggled with connection to the Ancestors until I started taking college courses on Native American prehistory and could begin to honor the dead spirits of this land.
My druidry is a living thing that I have allowed to thrive. I have tended to my growing beliefs and cultivated new ideas as they present themselves. I have no doubt that even though I have accomplished so much within only a few years that this is only one step on my spiritual path. The Dedicant Path is a path all on its own, but it has opened my eyes to so much more. There are worlds left to discover about myself, and about my spirituality through the eyes of an ADF Druid.
The Kindreds Final Essay
9: Three Kindred Essay
At the very core of ADF druidry is the importance of building relationships with the Three Kindred. The Three Kindred, collectively known as the Kindreds, are different groups of spirits consisting of the Shining Ones (Deities/Gods and Goddesses), The Noble Ones (Nature/Land Spirits), and the Mighty Ones (Ancestors). In ritual there are three objects or representations that connect our world to the world of the Kindreds; a fire to the Deities, a well to the Ancestors and a tree to the Nature Spirits.
While these representations are simple earthly things, a gatekeeper is called during ritual to walk between the worlds/realms of the Kindreds and open the gates to those worlds so that we may commune with them. These mundane objects are made sacred portals that act as a conduit to the three realms by his magic combined with the ritual performer and/or guests. The fire is the portal of communication up to the realm of the Gods and Goddesses, the well becomes the portal of communication down to the realm of the Dead, and the tree becomes the portal of communication to the Nature Spirits of earth.
The Gods and Goddesses are associated with the sky realm and offerings are given to the sacred fire to rise up through the smoke and flames to the deities above. In days of old there were elaborate temples and areas of worship erected for many of the Indo-European gods and goddesses and other many other more primitive sacred sites but the average ADF devotee cannot travel or relocate to Europe so it is tremendously more accessible to hallow a fire in ADF fashion to communicate to the gods and goddesses.
Understanding and connecting to the deities involves some research and spiritual connection unique to the devotee. Offerings to them can vary depending on how different each one is or what is asked.
When meditating to the gods and goddesses I do a lot of guided trance work to connect to them individually. It’s the most effective way I have found to genuinely visualize them and commune without the distractions of my earthly life. When using the ADF Two Powers meditation the Deities are reflective of the electric sky power of the Sun/Moon/Stars, of passion and of a sense of drive drawn down into your being to mix with the cool waters and wisdom of the Ancestors. I often have vivid dreams about the deities that I work with closely.
When I think of the gods, I think of them as both ancient answers to life's challenges and also personification of specific characteristics put into human form. There are exceptions to the human-form idea but for the most part I see the Gods as spirits, that when spoken about in modern times, are kept alive and their power is kept strong.
I believe the gods I work with the most take an active role in my life. I honor Brigid when I am in good spirits and ask her for healing and strength when I am in need of assistance. I speak to Brigid at my shrine daily and often see her as a maternal guardian almost always at my shoulder when called to. I also honor the Morrigan sisters and many times I feel them at my side speaking into my ear. Sometimes I see her/them in the mirror beside me and feel her/them resonate inside me as my own personal shadow. I don't see my gods as locked into a location but more as free moving spirits that come and go as needed or at their will. While I often call to Brigid, the reverse is true of The Morrigan, she calls me when there is reason, often times against my own enjoyment or will.
The Ancestors, the Mighty Dead, are associated with the earth power, and offerings are given to the sacred well to flow down through the waters into the earth to the ancestors below. Wells were sacred to many Indo-European cultures to carry messages to the ancestors. Wells were places of magic and of reflection, of wisdom and growth. While travel to European sacred wells is not accessible to most Americans, the well portal that is hallowed during ritual serves in similar fashion as the mouthpiece to the Ancestors of blood, bone and spirit.
Blood, bone and spirit are some of the ancestor’s referred too in ADF druidry. They are the ancestors of your blood, those whom you are connected to by family ties and bloodlines. Ancestors of bone are those of the bones in the earth around you. I see these as the indigenous people of the American land. They are dead, but not forgotten for their sacrifices and I honor them to keep their memory alive. The Ancestors of spirit refer to those dead that we turn to for inspiration; public historical figures of significance, heroes we look up too.
When using the ADF Two Powers meditation the Ancestors are reflective of the cool waters of earth power, of change, wisdom, and mystery, drawn up into your being to mix with the warm electric power of the sky.
After several public rituals with my local grove, I found myself struggling to connect to the Ancestors on a personal level. Death, has avoided my tiny close family thus far and I see no ancestors of blood in my mind and heart when it comes to offerings to Ancestors.
Ancestors of spirit; people of the past that inspire me, historical figures, famous people passed on also leave me feeling disconnected. I can imagine people in the news who have been lost to violence, tragedy or accidents, but it all feels...lacking in personal connection. I wanted to feel more.
I decided to explore the Ancestors of the land and a whole world of emotions flooded through me. Remembering that the Native peoples of this land thrived thousands of years before European contact and how they worshiped the land in similar ways that I do now. How their polytheistic religious structures are similar to my own beliefs and how easily forgotten these people have become. This is the sort of connection and respect I had been missing with the Well. I sacrifice with respect to keep their cultural history alive. I decided to explore deeper into American Pre-history and actually decided to take a college class on the subject and week after week I found new meaningful respect for the ancient peoples of this land. This class ended up being one of the most valuable classes I have taken both academically and spiritually.
The Nature Spirits kindred is associated with the world tree portal, the axis mundi between the realms and offerings are given to earth spirits at its base, trunk or branches. This is the Kindred that is most accessible to all druids as it is not completely centered in Indo-European cultures, it is everywhere. This kindred relates to the spirits that walk/grow/thrive on the earth, no matter were you live. In the Two Power meditation, the tree, the connector between the sky and earth powers, represents the nature spirits. When the powers sky and earth combine within you you become the world tree, tall and strong, connected to all.
I work with the nature spirits far more than the other Kindred. It is actually my connection to the nature spirits that lead me to Druidry to begin with. The magical side of Wicca never quite seemed to fit but the connection to stones, plants, animals, and nature have always been where I have felt true sense of belonging and spiritual connection. As a child, I would spend hours reading novels while sitting perched in trees avoiding most humans. I am an avid hiker and pause often to admire the complexity of a fern, or the shape of a flower, or watch salamanders and snails for long periods of time. Nature has always felt, quiet, and perfect. No matter how stressful my every day modern life is, I can step outside and lose myself in the elements (no matter what they are; rain, snow, wind, heat, etc). I spent my childhood living in the country on a farm, refusing to wear shoes so I could feel the grass and soil between my toes. I grew my own food in a garden that I tended, and I always felt a spiritual presence and connection there.
I've thought for years that there is magic in nature, not magic as in spells, but magic as in energies. Each element of nature, each plant, each animal, has a spiritual connection to me. I talk to trees, I talk to animals, and I talk to the wind all the time as if they are standing beside me in human form. I feel their spirits swirling around me and through me. I feel my place among them as a child of the earth, another animal on this planet, connected to this spiritual web of life.
My relationship with the nature spirits is one of reverence, respect and friendship. Often my offerings are vocal praise/invocation, water, offerings and building little shrines out of sticks and stones while focusing loving energy around me. I have also offered songs, dance, and food to the nature spirits or to the soil. I try and learn the names of plants so that I can get to know them. I learn their leaf shapes and do my best to help them grow and thrive.
I have a regular spot that I spend time in throughout the year and in this spot I have seen the seasons change. The landscape has changed as the seasons have with the trees losing their leaves and growing flowers, with the soil being frost covered to it dry and cracking under my feet. Often times I will pause to take a moment to connect with the nature around me, taking in all the sounds and smells with my eyes closed, feeling the wind and just being present. Occasionally I find myself preforming a modified Two Powers meditation, connecting me even more to the Earth power and the Sky power leaving me charged and rejuvenated.
The three Kindreds, are a central focus of ADF Druidry and they are the most important element to me in my spirituality on this path. I appreciate the emphasis on all three without suggesting that one is more important than the other. Working with the Kindreds has not always come easy to me, in some ways it has been challenging to build those relationships, but throughout this process, working through the Dedicant Path I have learned new techniques for personal growth and connection. The there Kindred; The Gods and Goddesses of the Fire, the Ancestors of the Well and the Nature Spirits of the Tree walk alongside me always and I honor them with the deepest respect.
The Nine Virtues: Fertility
125 words min, 375 words max.
Adequate/Meets Criteria Requirements:
Subjective combined with objective approach [e.g., ["This is what it means (dictionary definition); this is what it means to me."]
Note: Dictionary definitions will not be included as part of the word count.
Dedicants may also include other virtues, if desired, and compare them to the nine.
Our Own Druidry: “Bounty of Mind, body and spirit involving creativity and industry, and appreciation of the physical and sensual, nurturing these qualities in others.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary: “characterized by great resourcefulness of thought or imagination”
I have generally considered Fertility to be linked to procreation but reading the Our Own Druidry definition certainly did throw a new perspective on the word. In its procreative biological sense, fertility is literally responsible for all life on earth. This importance does make it a valuable virtue in the arsenal of ADF virtues for sure.
I was thankful that the ADF definition elaborated fertility in a number of ways; it opened my eyes to many different ways that fertility is experienced by all. A fertile mind is one that is rich with ideas and passion. Those with fertile minds share their gifts with those around them, enriching thought and ideas and which travel through the minds of others. A fertile mind is one that can lead, nurture, understand and use its ingenuity to adapt to an ever-changing world.
A fertile body can procreate and bring life to a living world. A fertile spirit can share its energy with the world and help it thrive and pulse with positive energy. Fertility is often associated with women and nurturing qualities but it is also a trait that encourages nurturing carefulness no matter the gender. To nurture is to take care of, to encourage and support. Having an open mind full of thoughts and ideas is something of importance to nurture within yourself and in others of all ages. Fertility causes us to grow, thrive, and shape our world and minds into something that is both beautiful and unique and can be shared with the mind, spirit and hearts of others.
The Nine Virtues: Moderation
125 words min, 375 words max.
Adequate/Meets Criteria Requirements:
Subjective combined with objective approach [e.g., ["This is what it means (dictionary definition); this is what it means to me."]
Note: Dictionary definitions will not be included as part of the word count.
Dedicants may also include other virtues, if desired, and compare them to the nine.
Our own Druidry Definition: “Cultivating one’s appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental of physical) though excess deficiency.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary Definition: “avoiding extremes of behavior or expression: observing reasonable limits.”
Generally when the word Moderation comes up it is in response to an excess of something. When one eats too much, or imbibes too much, the word moderation comes up through the mouths of friends. “Everything in moderation” is the popular phrase. The ability to moderate self-control is a very important virtue in my mind and it goes far beyond food or drink.
Moderation is important when it comes to focus and study as well. It can be easy to become obsessed to the point of ignoring all other things when wrapped up in a passion or project. Doing so, however, generally hurts relationships and/or families in the process. One example being the father or mother that works too many hours and cannot spend quality time with their children.
A moderate temperament is also exceptionally important when dealing with others as well. Extreme emotional shifts can be unhealthy to both the person experiencing them and the recipient who experiences them as well.
I find that meditation helps me focus on how to maintain moderation in nearly all aspects of my life, and my spirituality, because it helps me slow down and focus on both sides of the situation and recognize when I am acting excessively at the expense of myself or others.
Eighth High Day Explanation (Yule)
Yule is most known and associated with Nordic culture and practice. One Nordic tradition is of swearing oaths on the god Freyr’s sacred boar. In days of old, a living boar was brought forth in a Yuletide celebration and everyone would lay their hands upon the animal and swear personal Oaths for the coming year to be sent directly to Freyr himself. After the animal was blessed with these powerful Oaths and adorned with decorations and oils, it was sacrificed to him. This tradition continues into neopagan times in the form of new years resolutions.
Another fairly well known tradition is that of the Yule log. The Yule log was originally an entire tree that was cut down and burnt in a community area over several days, giving warmth during this dark and cold time of year. Over time, smaller offerings were burnt, often times decorated lavishly with ribbons and oils. Individual wishes were made on the Yule log in hopes that they would be granted in the following New Year. The Yule log became a catalyst of hope, of dreams, and of personal desire and once lit aflame those wishes were sent up to the Gods and Goddesses to grant at their will.
Today Neopagans celebrate with much smaller versions of the Yule Log and in various forms. One form is that of a physical wooden log that is burnt for warmth and celebration and another is by making a Yule Log roll cake that is eaten at a feast or gathering in celebration of the hope of the new year. Some forgo the Yule log altogether and place an erect tree in the home and decorate it lavishly for the season.
Yule falls on Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when night is the longest, and the months are long and cold. The celebration of Yule was (and still is) crucial to keep spirits high during these difficult times and so focus is placed on the birth of the sun (rather than on the darkness) and the reminder that daylight will be returning soon enough again.
How I interact with my deities:
In ritual I wouldn't use the word "Worship" because it seems to christianized but I do often say "Honor" the gods because I am "paying respect and honoring the old ways". Some gods/esses I honor with love and others I honor at a distance as love would not be appropriate a feeling to offer.
When I think of the gods, I think of them as both ancient answers to life's challanges and also personification of specific characteristics put into human form. There are exceptions to the human-form part but for the most part I see the God's as spirits that when spoken about in modern times keeps them alive and keeps their power strong.
I believe the gods I work with the most definitely take an active role in my life as I honor Brigid when I am in good spirits and ask her for healing and strength when I am in need of assistance. I speak to Brigid at my shrine daily and often see her as a maternal guardian almost always at my shoulder when called too. I also honor The Morrigan and many times I feel Her at my side speaking into my ear and sometimes I see her in the mirror and feel her resonate inside me as my own personal shadow. I don't see my gods as locked into a location but more as free moving spirits that come and go as needed. While I often call to Brigid, the reverse is true of The Morrigan, She calls me when there is reason too, often times against my own enjoyment or will.