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As a note – this post is pretty personal. It is 100% my personal opinions and experiences, and does not represent anyone other than me and where I am right now. Please take it for what it is, and know that I am sharing out of a desire to help myself process what I’ve been through. 

I’ve been an ADF priest for just over a year now. In that time, I’ve also become first a Dedicant and then an Initiate in another tradition (that is currently closed, so beyond calling it a polytheist religious order, I can’t say much about that other than that it was an intense experience and extremely powerful).

Also in that time, my grove has lost all of its founding members, and most of its regular members as well. At the time of my ordination, we pulled together a ritual team of almost 15 people to perform the ordination/May Day rite. This May Day we have – on a good week – 7 people. Our ritual attendance is down from 30+ to 10+. I have lost friends, deep heart-friends who I thought I could not run a grove without, and here I am… without them. I am burned out on service, and the grove is taking the whole month of May off to regroup, that I might come back ready to be their priest fully and with my whole heart.

ADF is a hard place to be right now, especially as a Mother Grove member – we had a hotly contested election where the people who I believe were looking to bring ADF forward into a more modern and streamlined version of a religious nonprofit (and who were eminently qualified to do so) lost their elections. I don’t think the people who won are terrible, and many of them are my friends, but I worry for the future of the organization that I’ve spent the last seven years devoted to, and through which I have my priestly credentials. I will continue to serve, because that is what I was elected to do, but deep worries niggle at my heart.

I’m going to quote Elie Wiesel here, because it says what I think I feel about all of this:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

And in the midst of all that, my Gods have gone quiet. I was warned that Herself would do so after my Initiation – that she wanted me to make my oaths and then she’d be off until She needed me. But Himself usually has lots on his plate during this growing time of year, and I’ve felt so distant from it.

I’ve also felt distance from the Clergy Order work – I’ve missed our mutual trance journeys multiple times, nobody is really talking. I have supportive friends, but it seems like we’re all struggling right now.

In many ways I feel like I need to go seeking again – I’ve had these huge goals set before me, and step-by-step I’ve achieved them, despite sometimes insurmountable odds (bipolar disorder, getting divorced, massive life upheaval). And now that I am without a goal, without something I’m working towards, I find myself looking for the next thing as though what I am is somehow not enough.

But I am a Priest – I am a Priest of a deity who called me seven years ago and who showed up in my living room in 2017 and said “why aren’t you my priest yet” and then took from me the oaths He wanted. I am a sworn druid, witch, and client queen to a goddess I never saw myself working with, and who made no bones about exactly who and what She wanted my life to look like (which is not being Her priest, but is certainly a pile of responsibility). I carry the sickle and the black-handled dagger, both as weapons and as art upon my body – I made oaths, and I will keep them.

I am a Priest of ADF – oathed to serve the Gods, the Folk, and the Land – an oath I repeat to myself frequently, as it defines the core of my spiritual practice. I serve a Grove – even if that Grove looks nothing like the Grove that my heart-siblings and I set out to build when we started it. I serve a community, on interfaith councils and through open ritual. My work is grounded in being a priest of the Many Gods, in serving the Folk, in honoring the Land. I wear and honor the stola of a priest, and have the sigils of the cosmos permanently inked upon my arms that I may be always the sacred center itself.

I am an Initiate of the Henge of the Cobbled Path, with more work and one more step ahead of me on that path. Work that is deep and old and new and strange and strong. Work that sets a part of my life aside as “other” and sacred, and yet is 100% a part of everything else that I do. I am a standing stone, one of many who together make a place of great devotion and magic.

I am the Druid of the Swamp, a Druid of the Bayous, a devotee of the Bayou Woman and the deep sovereignty that flows in her waters. I have always talked about being the Druid of This Place, and since I moved into this apartment I don’t have land, and so I’ve set about becoming the druid of my local waterways – and that means the bayous that surround me, the salt marsh, the brackish waters and the liminal waterbirds. I slip between the worlds, the cormorant who slips into the water in search of her prey, who nests in the trees around the bayous.

And that should be enough.

I need to go deeper into the things that I already am – I have so much growth to do. So much that I need to learn, and practice, and do. I am no mystic, and yet I have one foot in that world, and I will do my best to serve where I am called.

So tonight, I will go to the otherworld, and I will find the fires and tend them. I will do the work that is called of me. And I will try to understand that I am enough – and if I am not enough, then that work will be set before me. I have been told to rest, that I am not needed yet, that I have the work of a devotee to do, and no more for now. That is and must be enough for me right now. And when They come calling, I will – hopefully – be able to answer fully with all of the things that I have become and learned and integrated into my being.

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Prayer a Day – Week 1

Every year, ADF priests and others get together to celebrate the month of November by writing a prayer a day. Started by Rev. Jan Avende, this year marks the third year of this prayer-writing festival, and is something I look forward to doing each year.

Things are a little tough for me right now, so I expect a lot of my prayers will reflect that, and also this year I was out of town from Nov 1- Nov 4, so I’m one prayer behind still (today’s the 8th and I’ve published 7 prayers).

But here are the first week of prayer images for this year’s Prayer A Day. I hope you enjoy them. Feel free to share, but please leave the attributions on the images, or attribute the written text to Rev. Lauren Mart, ADF.

Enjoy!

*****

An Airport Prayer –

Liminal spirits of the airport, hear this prayer of mine. I make you this offering that my flight may be on time, my seatmates pleasant, and my phone battery not run out. And should I be delayed, I pray for patience and calm, that I may make it home today.

11-04 Airport Prayer

A Daylight Saving Time Prayer

I say this prayer to ease the transition from one time to the next. The clocks have fallen back and the streetlights come on early. May we all ease into this time of transition and find respite in the ever shortening days.

11-04 Daylight Saving

A Day of Rest Prayer

For the beauty of a day of rest, away from the chaos and noise of the wider world, I thank you today, oh spirits. May I care for myself today, that in the coming days I may rejoin the world with a fighting spirit and a hunger for what is just and true and right.

11-05 Self Care

A Prayer for Election Day

To the three sisters whose spirits guide our country, today we pray. Hail Liberty; Hail Columbia; Hail Justice. May we each make our voices heard. May our votes ring out like the sound of many beating wings; the sound of freedom, lifting us to fulfill the dreams we have for our country and our fellow citizens. May we, today, speak truth to power – truth that does not need to yell for it to resound through the halls of government like the strike of a bell. May we always seek to lift up what is true. what is just, what is right, and what is honorable. To you we pray, Liberty, Columbia, Justice, for the future of our nation and all nations.

11-06 Election

A Prayer for Election Night

Tonight, as the world rages around us, spun up into a froth about so many (important) things, let me remember to breathe. Let me make tea and drink it, allowing only space for myself and the tea, that I may find my center. And then tomorrow, let me go back to work, no matter the outcome of tonight. Let there be stillness. Let there be peace. And then, from the stillness, let us move in the direction of justice.

11-06 Make Tea

A Cold Front Prayer

Oh Winter Winds, whose arrival is heralded this day by the sounds of far away thunder, come to visit my city. Bring your chill that we may know the blessings of warmth, bring your rain that we may be renewed, bring your darkness that we may appreciate the light. As you blow cold through my city, turning leaves to amber and gold, I welcome you, first winds of winter. May you renew us over these next months, that we may appreciate the spring.

11-07 Cold Front

A Prayer for Loneliness

May my loneliness be transformed to solitude
May my suffering be transformed to compassion
May the experiences which have changed me help me to become whole
May I know peace, and wisdom, and clarity of mind
Oh spirits, I place all these things as offerings

11-08 Loneliness

In light of the many, horrific, recent events (Trump administration looking to erase transgender people, bombs sent to prominent Democrats and CNN, shooting more unarmed black people, shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue) I feel that I need to make my stances perfectly clear.

I stand with the minorities, be they racial, religious, or sexual orientation and gender identity.  I fight with them where I can, and when I can’t, I try to raise awareness.  I stand against all who do not, and denounce those that attack any of them.

Unfortunately this past week is not anything new, and it has only happened more often and on larger scale over the past few years.  We have an administration that won on xenophobia and white nationalism, or in plainer terms, by imitating the Nazis.  Unfortunately this is not a uniquely American problem.  I really wish it was.  This kind of thing is showing its face throughout the world.  In Germany, we had a far right “Nazi” party win seats in their parliament last year.  We had the conservatives push for Brexit in the United Kingdom.  Just this week we had the far right win the presidency of Brazil.

America as a nation is stronger for its immigrant history.  We will only get stronger when we open ourselves up to the ideas and culture that future immigrants will bring.  Our problems are not because of immigrants, they are in large part due to greed by wealthy people and corporations along with the policies to support that greed.  For that reason alone, everyone should vote, and vote against those that support this greed.

Our racial minorities are continuously under attack.  I support Black Lives Matter wholeheartedly.  They are not saying that non-black lives don’t matter, but they are bringing into focus that there is a significant bias against them, especially from the police.  What is worse, when it is the police they are dealing with, they have good cause to fear for their lives. This is not limited to blacks though as most racial minorities have similar fears.  We need to embrace this movement and work towards more equitable policing, especially in predominately minority areas.

I firmly denounce any and all bigotry to any religion. The antisemitism of the synagogue shooting is horrific.  In this day and age there should be no reason to hate a person because they are Jewish.  For that matter, nobody should hate someone because of their religion at all.  We need to realize that if someone is truly following the teachings of their religion, and not a perversion of it that is meant to control others or perverted for political purposes, there is much more in common than different, especially when you are talking about the values the religions teach.

For anyone that is transgender.  I support you too.  There is no reason to not believe that you are not the gender you identify with.  I fully support you living as the gender that you identify with, and to be yourself and to be comfortable with yourself.  I find it abhorrent that anyone would think otherwise, and I will continue to do what I can to make sure you can be who you are.  I will do what I can in the fight that is currently going on, and I am more than willing to listen and learn from you.

With all of that, I will again make this offer to anyone that is reading this.  I live in a state that is likely to be minimally screwed by the current administration.  I offer you refuge here, and will help you transition to a more liberal area of the country if you feel the need.  My home is always open to everyone that does not hold a xenophobic, white nationalist, or similar belief.  I can always get a cup of tea, coffee, alcohol, and/or food here.  I pledge to help however I can and however you want, be it just sit here and let you vent or a shared brainstorm on what to do next.

In closing, I hear you, I support you, and I am here for you.

*Originally posted by Rev. Robb Lewis, who gave me permission to post it here, and to say that I agree with and stand behind his words. I’m sorry to not have the eloquence to be able to give my own words to this situation, but I offer these instead. 

I’ve long thought about writing up the holidays that I celebrate, as an Anglo-Saxon pagan druid with a strong English folk bent. So here you go – the wheel of the year, with the names I call each holiday and what I do primarily to celebrate each one.

  • Yule – greenery, lights, candles, and 12 days of preparation to begin the new year
  • Candlemas – the celebration of the returning light. Buying and preparing candles, cleaning oil lamps, blessing the home with light.
  • Eostara – the celebration of the dawn, the radiant dawn maiden Eostre, and the balancing towards the growing light of the year. Sometimes just “Spring Equinox”
  • May Day – For summer is a comin’ in and winter’s gone away-oh. Celebration of summer, and also of the first harvests of vegetables in Texas, planted back in February.
  • Midsummer – bonfires, grilling, burned herbs for protection, and protection against hurricanes and tropical storms. Purification by fire, dawn and sunset rituals.
  • Lammas – John Barleycorn, the sacrifice of Ing, the first grain harvest. Loaves baked and sacrificed for the blessings of the harvest for the whole season. Sacrifice – personal and as a group – made to ensure the prosperity of the group.
  • Harvest Home – very much a mini-Thanksgiving, this is the height of the harvest, and the middle of the second growing season in Texas. Naming a harvest queen, drawing her around in a wagon to bless the town. The “holy month” of the harvest.
  • Hallows – Ancestor’s night, the welcoming in of winter, the blood harvest and final sacrifice. Celebration of prosperity (hopefully) and of a year well spent. Entering into a liminal time between Hallows and Yule in preparation for beginning the cycle again.

I should note that a lot of this calendar is UPG and modern Neopaganism derived, just with an English-folk flavor to it. It works for me, and makes me feel connected to the ancestors of spirit from whom I draw my practice.

I also observe the Anglo-Saxon Lunar Months, which begin on the new moon – the true new moon, not the dark moon (so 2-3 days after the actual “dark moon”, when the first crescent is visible in the sky). You can find out when those dates are here.

This lunar calendar is given to us by Bede, so your mileage may vary as to how accurate it is, but I find it meshes well with the 8 holidays I celebrate above:

January, Bede explained, corresponds to an Anglo-Saxon month known as Æftera Geola, or “After Yule”—the month, quite literally, after Christmas.

February was Sōlmōnath, a name that apparently derived from an Old English word for wet sand or mud, sōl; according to Bede, it meant “the month of cakes,” when ritual offerings of savory cakes and loaves of bread would be made to ensure a good year’s harvest. The connection between Old English mud and Bede’s “month of cakes” has long confused scholars of Old English, with some claiming that Bede could even have gotten the name wrong—but it’s plausible that the name Sōlmōnath might have referred to the cakes’ sandy, gritty texture.

March was Hrēðmonath to the ancient Anglo-Saxons, and was named in honor of a little-known pagan fertility goddess named Hreða, or Rheda. Her name eventually became Lide in some southern dialects of English, and the name Lide or Lide-month was still being used locally in parts of southwest England until as recently as the 19th century.

April corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon Eostremonath, which took its name from another mysterious pagan deity named Eostre. She is thought to have been a goddess of the dawn who was honored with a festival around the time of the spring equinox, which, according to some accounts, eventually morphed into our festival of Easter. Oddly, no account of Eostre is recorded anywhere else outside of Bede’s writings, casting some doubt on the reliability of his account—but as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, “it seems unlikely that Bede would have invented a fictitious pagan festival in order to account for a Christian one.”

May was Thrimilce, or “the month of three milkings,” when livestock were often so well fed on fresh spring grass that they could be milked three times a day.

June and July were together known as Liða, an Old English word meaning “mild” or “gentle,” which referred to the period of warm, seasonable weather either side of Midsummer. To differentiate between the two, June was sometimes known as Ærraliða, or “before-mild,” and July was Æfteraliða, or “after-mild;” in some years a “leap month” was added to the calendar at the height of the summer, which was Thriliða, or the “third-mild.”

August was Weodmonath or the “plant month.”

After that came September, or Hāligmonath, meaning “holy month,” when celebrations and religious festivals would be held to celebrate a successful summer’s crop.
October was Winterfylleth, or the “winter full moon,” because, as Bede explained, winter was said to begin on the first full moon in October.

November was Blōtmonath, or “the month of blood sacrifices.” No one is quite sure what the purpose of this late autumnal sacrifice would have been, but it’s likely that any older or infirm livestock that seemed unlikely to see out bad weather ahead would be killed both as a stockpile of food, and as an offering for a safe and mild winter.

And December, finally, was Ærra Geola or the month “before Yule,” after which Æftera Geola would come round again.

An excerpt from the lovely pre-ordination rite that Rev. Jan Avende wrote for me, performed by a small circle of close friends and mentors, in preparation that my ordination and my priesthood would be blessed and strengthened:

Blessing and Spirit Gifts

Blessing – one person speaks while another purifies with incense and water

May your feet be washed clean and purified,
as you stand ready to embark on your new path.

May your legs be washed clean and purified,
As you draw strength from the earth in this work.

May your hands be washed clean and purified,
as you prepare to do the work of serving the Folk.

May your heart be washed clean and purified,
as you open yourself to the love of the Land

May your lips be washed clean and purified,
as you sing praises to honor the Gods.

May your eyes be washed clean and purified,
as you see the way open before you.

May your head be washed clean and purified,
As your judgments be just and sure.

Individual gifts:

Each individual places their hand on their heart and reaches a hand toward the individual and states the gift that they give. You may speak these words as written, or use your own that better reflect the intent of your gift.

The work of a priest, while challenging, is fulfilling in many ways. May you find beauty and contentment in your vocation.

You will be challenged in many ways, and by many people in this work. May you be blessed with the confidence to hold your ground and be firm in your beliefs and your work.

Some things have no easy answer, especially in the work of a Priest. May you be blessed with the knowledge that you have a fair heart and strong will. They will serve you well.

You are a Priest, soon to have the blessing and burden of responsibility to the Folk. May you be filled with strength and courage to be surefooted along the path you set out to walk, knowing that we support you in your work, and that we trust in your vision.

Though the road may be uncertain at times, know that the path will reveal itself in time. May you be blessed with patience as you find your way, and may you never stagnate in your growth.

Priesthood can be lonely, and requires sacrifice. May you know that you’ve got allies in this world, as well as in the Otherworld to support you in your work.

As you find yourself changed after this rite of passage, know that your words carry weight. May you be filled with the deep voice that speaks to the spirits and invites them into your work.

Let it be so!

I have done the thing. My hand guides the heaven-bound boat. My feet walk the paths of the earth mother. I am a priest of the people of ADF, and I have sworn my oath before them and all of my spirit allies.

May I always remember how it feels to be this blessed.

New Priest - Jan's photo

2018 Election Results

It is with great pleasure and humility that I announce I have been elected to serve in the position of Non-Officer Director to ADF’s Mother Grove, the international Board of Directors of our organization. I look forward to serving ADF and all its members for the next two years, and to whatever hopefully beautiful things are coming for this organization.

ADF Members, you can see the results here at this link – the results are also being posted to the Announce list, but must have moderator approval first.