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Archive for the ‘Cat Vacuuming’ Category

I don’t currently have any tattoos. This surprises none of you, for though I may be a flaming pinko commie on the political spectrum, when it comes to how I live my life, I’m quiet, conservative, and reserved.

Going out on a limb and having purple hair for awhile was a HUGE radical change. (That part of my life is done, now that I’m covering my hair.*)

But when I started this path in ADF there was an image that caught my eye, and I fell in love with it. With what it means, and with what it looks like – it’s just an aesthetically pleasing image to me.

cosmos sigil

Ian Corrigan created it – affectionately known as the Cosmos Sigil – and it is unofficially the symbol used by ADF priests and groves. It’s the primary symbol on the stole of an ADF priest, and many of us have it carved or painted on world pillars or pieces of art that we use on our altars.

 

And I looked at it and thought “I want that as a tattoo”. But I was new to ADF, and I figured impulsive tattoo getting was both a) dumb and b) really out of character, so I filed it away and nursed the idea and let it grow. A few years ago, when I got serious about my path as a priest, I started to really consider this a thing that I would be doing. I made it about a goal. I would get this tattoo when I was ordained, as a gift to myself, and as a symbol of my ordination.

 

I meditated on it. I had a friend who is good with henna dry-run the tattoos for me twice, to make sure I liked them, liked where they were placed. And I did. Having them on me was just right – it was how things were supposed to be. So I settled down to wait until I finished the first circle of Clergy Training, so that I could formalize the arrangement.

 

Well, that time is upon us, but my tattoo artist (that I picked out after seeing wonderful work that he’d done for friends) was booked through until May, so I was going to get the tattoos as a reward for having been ordained.

Until this morning.

I messaged him about something, and he got all excited – he’d had a cancellation this Saturday, and did I want to come in and get them done now, so they’d be all healed and glorious for my ordination ceremony. After a quick check in with the friends I want to go with me, I agreed.

So on Saturday I go to formalize an arrangement I’ve made with the Gods and Spirits, in a way that is permanent. I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited. One more step on the process that is taking me from where I was to where I’m going.

*Yes, I’m covering my hair full time right now. This is not a religious mandate (yet) but something I have felt called to do, and that makes me feel beautiful. So I do it! So far nobody has commented negatively on it, probably because I’m wrapping Tichel style and not Hijab style. 

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I’ve been reading Kathleen Norris’ (wonderful) book The Cloister Walk, about monastic spirituality, as a sort of side piece to all of the work I’ve been doing and to kind of keep me sane as I prepare for ordination and all the rest of the hoopla that is my religious life right now. And one of the things she talks about is the idea that, at least for Benedictine spirituality, formation is endless – the conversion of the self is a process that takes a lifetime.

So I sat down and looked at a typical formation process for someone in the Catholic faith vs what I’ve done, and realized there are some similarities. With apologies for generalizing, as each community really does have its own rules, and because what I’ve done is nowhere NEAR as dedicated as true monastic life, it still struck me that there were things that I could relate to.

My dedicant year was the equivalent of basic religious education – it gave me the tools to get started on the path, and set me up with a spirituality that I could practice satisfactorily for the rest of my life. This only took me a year, but for others it is the work of a lifetime, and that’s more than okay.

The 2 years I spent working CTP-Prelim were my postulancy – where I figured out whether this whole priesting thing was really going to be for me. It was a longer process, but like all processes – like all formation – it takes however long it takes. I did a lot of work, internally and externally, between August 2014 and August 2016, and I don’t want to shy away from that. It involved a lot of confirmation that what I was doing was really the right thing, and set me up with a lot of the spirit relationships that have continued to nourish me through to today.

From August 2016 to March 2018, I was a novice – not yet having taken any formal vows, but having applied and been accepted to my community of faith and living as best I could the life and spirituality of a priest in my community. I did the clergy student discipline, I spoke with mentors who assisted with my formation and my growth. I studied hard, got handed a few massive life-lessons in the process. I served my community in such a way that they could see my building ministry and vocation, and they allowed me to learn and grow.

And now I sit in the liminal space before taking my oaths as a priest – before being vested with the stola of a priest (which is given to me by the folk). I will step into the role of a junior professed, whose path is renewed every year through continuing education. I wonder what this life will look like in a year, or two, or five. Or twenty. I’ve been “in formation” since 2012. In five-odd years, I’ve come an awful long way, but yet there’s still so much that I don’t know. I’m still so new at this.

What will my life-long formation as a polytheist priest look like?

Because I am not done. If anything, the wheels of change in my life are spinning at a rate that is almost dizzying. New doors are opening up for me, with new opportunities to study and practice my spirituality. This is a watershed moment that I am preparing for, yes, but it is only the beginning.

To coin a phrase, this isn’t even my final form.

I wonder what that will look like.

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Toad Dandelion

toad dandelion

As a new pagan in the early 2000’s, I was aware that I ought to have a magical name, but I never gave myself one. Nothing ever fit.

Then, one day, in a fit of pique over yet another Lady Onyx Raven Wolfmoon, I decided to call myself Toad Dandelion.

I’ve used the name on and off over the years, always in jest, but it seems that if you jest about something long enough, it might stick.

Hi, I’m Toad.

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So I’m not a priest.

Yet.

But I’m kind of a priest? I’m a devotional priest, but you get that through a relationship with your deity, not through an ordaining organization.

I do a lot of priest-work. But I’m not an actual priest in a way that anyone outside of my grove would really ever recognize. They see me as one, but I don’t have the credentials yet.

Anyway. My final essay, the capstone Discipline course, is currently being graded for ADF’s first circle Clergy Training Program.

Which puts me in an odd, liminal space right now where I’m not really sure what I am, or what to do. I’ve finished all the work, but my ordination won’t be for another six weeks or so (shooting for April 28, if all goes well). It’s exciting – I turned in my first CTP-Prelim course in August 2014, three and a half years ago. So much of my life has changed since then, so much of who I am has changed since then.

I’m really proud of what I’ve done, of who I’ve turned into, and yet this process is only just beginning.

After all, I’m not a priest yet. There’s an ordination, an oath, a change of status for me with respects to my religious organization and to the world. I get to add “Rev.” in front of my name (though I have to figure out where and when I’m going to want that, if at all). It’s a beginning – of a lifetime of dedication, of work, of service.

“I pledge to love the land, to serve the folk, and to honor the gods. To this I dedicate my head, my heart, and my hands.”

It’s a simple oath, really. But a heavy one.

Planning an ordination is not unlike planning any other large event. You send out invitations, you figure out who is bringing what. You make arrangements for friends coming in from out of town. But somehow there’s a lurking terror beneath the excitement and busyness and planning.

What if I can’t hack it? Of course, I think I can, or I wouldn’t be trying, but what if I can’t. What if I bonk out of priesthood? What if I can’t live up to that oath, or the virtues and ethics I’ve set for myself? Thinking about it is intimidating.

I have two great priests coming to my ordination (at least). Rev. Jan Avende will hear my oath upon her sickle, and do the official work of ordaining me. And my good friend and spiritual mentor Rev. William Ashton will be there to witness it, to guide me, and because I came onto this path at his urging and wouldn’t want to formalize it without him there. (I have invited another priest, but he is unsure if he will be able to attend.)

But I haven’t met either of them in person before. Neither of these priests have seen me do ritual. Neither has seen my grove in action. Heard our songs and liturgy. Watched us work like the family we’ve become. And so I am nervous – what impression will we make. What impression will I make on these two who are coming from so far away to confer this ritual upon my head, to witness my oath.

And so as I enter into this liminal space – where my coursework is done, but I am not yet ordained, I find myself turning inward. To ritual, to trance work, to my allies and the spirits that surround and aid me. I’m doing more full rituals, because it feels right to do them, even if they’re the 5 minute kind and not the elaborate kind.

There is preparation to do, both in this world and the other, and it just feels right to amp all that up as I get ready to make this step into a new role in my life and in my grove and in my community.

We call through the mist to the Ancient Wise,
To Poets, Magicians, and Priests.
We, too, keep the fire of the Ancient Ways,
We have honored you well at our feasts.

Wisdom and love we have gained in the work,
But greater from you we now seek.
The voice of the wise has been stilled for too long,
And with it we now hope to speak.

So lead us, and speak to us, open our eyes,
Guide us in mind, heart and hand.
Teach us, we pray you, the ways of the wise
For the Gods, for the Folk, for the Land.

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A friend on Facebook was talking about how a lot of people describe their spiritual work as happy and sunny and bright, and how hers felt more like sliding down a hillside in the rain and landing on her arse in a pile of dead leaves.

She ended the post by asking:

Anyone else want to share an analogy for their spirituality that isn’t a motivational poster?

This is my response:

Being perpetually lost in fog, in scrubby hill country with patches of trees and patches of open air. Sometimes there’s a river to follow, other times a building rises out of the mists. Sometimes I go into the forests, but as often as not those are Places Not To Go. I’m never 100% sure of my footing, and rarely glimpse the path more than a few feet ahead of me. The mists are my constant companion, but at least they’re not cold.

There are moments of scintillating brilliance though – when the sun comes out and illuminates the world, and everything sparkles in a way that makes it seem too beautiful to touch.

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I’ve been working in trance/meditation lately, looking for a more active guide – I have a stable mental grove, and lots of things come to visit me there, but I am rarely led to leave the boundaries of that space, and I know I need to be able to do that kind of journeying as I work toward my Clergy vocation and eventually my Initiate’s work.

So I’m doing a lot of listening, and seeing who shows up, and I have an ancestor who seems interested (not surprising) but his work is very internally focused, so we often do work within my mental grove instead of going out into the Worlds. But I seem to have another spirit guide who wants to help, and this one is … uh … well. She’s showing up as a brindle and white French Bulldog. Which has got to be the most unimpressive spirit guide ever. But she keeps nudging me towards the boundaries of my space, so I’m going to try following her and seeing where we go.

I’ve always maintained that I was the worlds most dunderheaded trance/meditation spirit worker. Now, apparently, I am attracting adorable puppies as spirit guides.

5279cb72ea57ca0325acd10b80e754c6

The part that I *didn’t* share on Facebook? And that makes me feel like I”m a total whackjob barking moonbat?

Is that this little french bulldog started showing up after I added Carrie Fisher to my regular ancestor offerings after Hallows. (It’s traditional to refrain from honoring the dead from the last year until Hallows, so I hadn’t been making offerings for her, but I did a big public one at Hallows, and then ordered an “icon” of her and have her up on my shrine.) I don’t think the bulldog _IS_ Carrie, but I’m kinda wondering if she sent me a puppy.

25069473568_6033450794_o

It’s just weird and a big adjustment because I have longstanding relationships with rabbit, owl, rooster, and toad. So I always expected if I was going to have a spirit ally that was going to lead me into the worlds, it would be something like that. An animal I already have an affinity with, not one that I think is utterly ridiculous and silly and kind of … well, ridiculous. (And I’ve had plenty of experiences in my mental grove with ALL of those animals, but they clearly came THERE to VISIT me. Whereas this bulldog? she wants to GO PLACES. SEE ALL THE THINGS.)

So I have a new adventure buddy, and we’re gonna go explore all the things. I really do think she’s a good fit, because she’s quirky and inquisitive, and dogs make great companions – all things that I’ve needed in my spiritual life. I need an enthusiastic friend who will encourage me to take risks, and who will – if needed – be very protective if we get into trouble.

But I still feel pretty silly about it.

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Decided to take the advice of a friend (regarding my current deity quandary), and make a special offering to Frige. After all, as associated as She is with Divine Queenship, She’s gotta be familiar with the whole divorce thing? Germanic women could (and did) get divorced. And it’s not like I’m not still industriously running a household, it’s just a household of one (plus two cats) and all my responsibilities to my extended family and grove.

When I offer things, I typically like to share them, and it’s been the kind of day that’s called for white sangria, so I made a glass for me, and a glass for Her. I took some time on my lunch break to just sit and share it in silence, in a quiet apartment which is darkened by shades but clearly fighting off the summer heat (the heat index here today is 113F).

I can not shake the immediate feeling that she is very pleased with this offering (which has peaches and strawberries in it, and is very good for a hot summer day). I have it sitting on my altar, and every time I walk by, I get the good tinglies on the back of my neck.

Thus is born new UPG, I guess?

***

White Sangria for Two

  • 1 oz vodka (peach is nice, plain is fine)
  • 1 oz orange liquor
  • 3 oz white zinfandel
  • 3 oz cranberry juice cocktail (I don’t actually measure this)
  • sliced strawberries and peaches (can be frozen)
  • 2 glasses with lots of ice

Mix all ingredients except fruit in a cocktail shaker. Shake gently with ice, then pour into glasses filled with ice and fruit. Serves 2.

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