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Archive for the ‘Clergy Training Program’ Category

I spent a lot of time this last week in contemplation, just of things in general. I got back my Liturgical Writing 1 submission, which is exciting, and I’ll be sharing it here, but otherwise it was a quiet week of offerings, prayers, and a lot of mantra meditation. I’ve been working on my Trance practice (not journaling it on the blog because it’s been a lot more of a learning process, and I didn’t feel like I wanted that out in the open), and working on what it means, or will mean, to be an ADF Priest, and to be a priest in general.

There’s a lot of quiet, personal work that is being asked of me right now – a lot of divination, a lot of meditation and prayer. I feel like I’m being “geared up” to do something bigger in time, but for now I’m getting used to a deeper relationship with Ing Frey, and what it means to serve a god of frith, a god of prosperity, a god of protection, a god of harvest. I wrote a prayer to him for my LW submission that I think I’d like to share, because it’s encompassed so many aspects of this deity that has become the central focus of my practice. (House spirits and ancestors always get offerings, but right now He is demanding a lot of attention.)

Hail Frey, Lord of the fields!
Beautiful lord of the Vanir
Golden of hair as the fields of wheat and corn,
Bringing riches of heart and hearth to the folk.

We hail you with the grain that springs forth
And falls again to nourish us.
We hail you, on your mighty boar in flight,
Lord of Frith that is bound to land,
You who can warm the cold heart,
Warrior without a weapon
Who give your prosperity to all of your kin,
You guide and sustain your descendants.

Lord Ing, Providing god,
God of the bees and the barley,
You who make the grain spring forth,
We sacrifice this, our first loaf,  to you
As the grains are sacrificed for us each year.

It is late summer here, and my plants are spent – in need of pruning, fertilizing, and resetting for the autumn growing season. In many ways, I am preparing for the inward turn that winter brings – but also the outward turn that is being asked of me in my work in leading Nine Waves grove.

My rune readings for last week were:

  • Wynn – Joy – contentment, having enough, being fulfilled
  • Lagu – The Sea – an uncertain time, one that may feel unsettled and uprooted
  • Sigel – The Sun – victory, good advice

Find joy in this time in your life, despite the upheaval that surrounds you in your path. Look for those who can guide you and give good advice, for theirs is the way to victory.

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My friend John Beckett is known for saying “It’s hard to meditate when your roof is leaking.”

My roof has been leaking this week. It’s been a nonstop slog of divorce bullshit and work bullshit, and I am just flat worn out. My spiritual practice this week has been “move the St. Expedite candle from the altar to the bathtub so it can continue to burn overnight” and my daily rounds of offerings to Ing Frey and my housewights. That’s all I’ve been able to manage, but it’s going to have to be enough.

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Sometimes, when you get asked to do something, you don’t always know the outcome, but you know that the answer is to say yes. So I did. We’ll see what shakes out from that decision.

On more seasonal subjects, my Lammas sacrifice was accepted – I drew the rune “Wynn” (Joy) when I made the offering. I hope that I can keep to it, but like any practice, I expect that it will be something that I struggle with and possibly will fail at sometimes. But I hope that it will be of benefit to me, and that my addition to the sacrifice will aid in the overall sacrifice of the year.

This year, the grove ritual was to Ing Frea, and I got to give the main offering, which was particularly nice. I celebrated at home as well, using a variation of the Core Order Ritual that I use in my monthly and weekly rituals. Obviously instead of the main offering being to the earth mother and gatekeeper, though, this ritual was for Ing Frea. I didn’t actually write down the invitation I used, choosing instead to speak improvisationally. It came out well, I think.

The omens for the ritual were as follows:

  • Have my offerings been accepted: Daeg – The Day – Light which shines upon everyone equally, with blessing and bounty.
  • What blessings do the ancestors offer me: Mann – Mankind – The ancestors offer community, which is the delight of community, and give us each other for strength. My voice was joined with all those who raised their voices to the Kindreds tonight, and our Wyrd was strengthened as a result.
  • What blessings do the nature spirits offer me: Ur – the aurochs – The nature spirits offer strength, the strength that charges, bull-headed towards an obstacle and forces its way through. It is stubborn strength and a hard fought victory.
  • What blessings do the deities offer me: Ior – the beaver – flexibility, adaptability. The beaver lives in the water, but forages on the land, and thus must I be willing to adapt to our situations to find the blessings and the victory to triumph.

I also, as was the custom for the Anglo-Saxons, baked cornbread, blessed it with the waters from the ritual, and placed it in the four corners of my home as a spell of protection for the next year. My “Loaf Fest” isn’t from the wheat harvest, because I don’t keep wheat flour in my home (celiac), but it still felt right to do. I’ve done a variation on this as part of my personal practice for several years now, and it always feels like “August” is really here when I do it.

My personal omen draw for the week is as follows:

  • Nyd – a need – I typically draw this rune in one of two ways – either there is a need that is unmet, and that I must seek to meet it, or a warning of impending hardship that can be avoided through careful work and planning.
  • Peordh – a dice cup/unknown – The rune poem reference in this one is of companions playing dice in a hall; a friendly game of chance. It is the rune of Luck, and of unknown outcomes, but often has positive connotations when I see it. If anything, it’s a surprise coming my way that I can’t really plan for.
  • Os – a mouth/a god – I typically read this rune as “wise speech”, as it is Woden’s rune, and cunning and cleverness are his hallmarks. It can also mean conversations, and inspiration.

I’ll be honest, this reading is a little troubling – I’m not usually one for cunning or wise speech – I’m a pretty straightforward person. And the runes of Need and Luck in the same reading… could mean things are about to go pear shaped. Or perhaps I’ll have a need and it will be met in an unexpected way.

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Sometimes the universe just hits you with a clue-by-four. I’ll save that for another day, but suffice to say that I’m about to get a lot busier with my spiritual practice.

As a check in, my current practice includes:

  • Full COoR ritual once a week (usually Tuesday nights, sometimes Fridays too), which includes divination
  • “Crowdsourced” Full Moon rituals with my grove
  • Weekly study meetings with my grove
  • Daily practice even if it’s just 3 minutes at my altar to light some incense
  • Regular offerings to the Gatekeeper, Earthmother, my three primary deities (Ingwe Frea, Frige, Hela), and to my house spirits
  • High day rituals with my grove (which I write and coordinate)

Which is honestly a pretty full slate of ritual practices, now that I look at it. I’ve come a long way in the last almost three months, and it’s kind of startling to think that I’ve been rebuilding this fast (and at the same time it feels almost painfully slow).

If I can keep up this level of enthusiasm and motivation, I will be thrilled, but I do know that some of what is coming will be a slog. But that’s okay.

On the celebratory front, this weekend is Lammas! This is my favorite high day, I think, which is funny as there’s been a number of posts around the pagan blogosphere about how Lammas is one of the “forgotten” high days. I guess because I’ve never associated it with Lugh at all, and instead celebrate the first harvest, and the sacrifice of that harvest, it’s always been a different thing for me.

My very first Lammas celebration included my having to “make a sacrifice” – both monetary (the destruction of something of monetary value – in that case, a silver mercury dime) and metaphysical – as part of the coven I was working with, and I have kept to that practice every year, using the harvest season as a time of “giving up” something. I know what I need to give up this year, but it will be challenging. But if that’s not what spiritual disciplines are for, I don’t know what would be. I will be keeping this “sacrifice” from Lammas through Samhain.

There is a lot of UPG floating around about how Freyr (Ingwe Frea) is the lord of the first harvest, the golden grain god who is cut down as a sacrifice. While I don’t know what I think about that as UPG, the general idea of him being at his height – and then cut down – at this time of year appeals to me. The story of John Barleycorn is old – possibly all the way back to Anglo-Saxon paganism and the myth surrounding Beowa (Barley, with some association with Frey). And so it is with both joy and sorrow that I see the first harvest, the sacrifice of the grain, which then blesses and feeds us throughout the year.

My personal celebration of this high day is similar to the one the Anglo-Saxons would have done. I bake a loaf (in my celiac-disease-having state, a loaf of cornbread), bless it, and sacrifice it to the earth at the four corners of my home as protection throughout the coming winter. Since I live in an apartment now, that means depositing cornbread outside, but my neighbors already think I’m odd.

So as we move into August, let’s remember the sacrifice of the grain, of John Barleycorn, and perhaps consider making a sacrifice of our own, to ensure a good harvest and the continuation of our communities.

 

This week’s divination is as follows:

  • Ior – the eel (or beaver) – flexibility/adaptability
  • Rad – the journey – a journey or path, something that might seem easy from the outside but is a challenge to do
  • Gyfu – the gift – reciprocity, hospitality (and the rune I have consistently drawn regarding my path to the priesthood)

I know that, on some level, rune drawing is random – I’m pulling random symbols out of a bag. But sometimes they speak so strongly.

Be flexible, adapt to your situation and to those around you; you’re on a long journey to priesthood, but this is the journey you need to take. 

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This week has been defined for me with conversations I’ve had with various grove members about hospitality, about frith, about community, about relationships.

Our annual attendance at the Lunasa retreat has fallen through (as has the retreat as a whole), and so we find ourselves without this weekend to spend deepening the bonds we share as a group. As well, there have been “conversations”, or at least, I should say, I’ve been praying a lot. Lighting a lot of candles, burning a lot of incense. Not a lot of formal prayers, but more spontaneous, extemporaneous praying, as though I’m having a conversation with these beings that surround me.

This week’s rune draw was done specifically in relation to some of the feelings I’ve been having surrounding deity relationships and other spirit relationships. Mostly to try to figure out what a particular deity has been hanging around for, and what they would like from me. I drew:

  • Ur: The aurochs – strength, stamina, stubbornness, a test of strength
  • Gyfu: The gift – reciprocity, hospitality, relationships, *ghosti
  • Eh: The horse – partnership, working together to achieve a goal, a strong ally

Gyfu is a rune that has been drawn for me a lot with regards to my clergy work and clergy training. It often has the connotation that I need to be in right relationship with my grove, with the spirits and beings I honor and worship, and with the world.

Honestly, I see in this reading a mirror for my clergy training in general – it is a test of strength, and a test of my stubbornness to see it through and finish it, so that I can give my gifts in service to the gods, the folk, and the land. And to do it, I will need the partnership and allies that I have gathered around me.

An inspiring reading to get, honestly, and one that makes me think that perhaps a certain Person who has been nudging at my brain is attempting to kick me in the metaphorical butt, to get me working on more than just this course. I have the time right now to do so, though I am unsure of which course to pick “next”. They’ll all require a good bit of reading, and for me to dig out my books from storage, but that’s alright. I need a bookshelf anyway.

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Or rather, not meditating enough, but the attempt was made. In the past, I’ve done mostly mindfulness meditation, but I’ve also been reading up on what John Michael Greer calls discursive meditation, which is something like “thoughtful, focused meditation on a particular subject”.

In particular, I’ve been working a few bits from the blogger Hecate’s guided meditations for her Magical Battle of America. I know it’d be smarter probably to work on something with the Earth Mother, or the Gatekeeper, but this was on my mind this week, so I’ve decided to run with it. After all, ADF has a long history of activism, and Hecate’s posts are about the magical guardians and mental constructs that are particularly strongly rooted in the American consciousness.

I’m not sure it was particularly fruitful discourse, but I did at least DO it, so that’s a good start.

On Wednesday, I did some divination – just a simple three rune pull like I’ve been doing recently. I’ve been feeling called to do more divination in general, so I’m trying to make sure I do at least a quick rune pull once a week for myself. I drew the following runes:

  • Ac – the acorn: adequate resources, resourcefulness
  • Eolh – the elk-sedge: active protection, careful boundaries
  • Lagu – the sea: trepidation, uncertainty – could mean bounty, could also mean storms

I’ll be honest, I had some trouble interpreting this. In general, I read Ac positively, and Eolh as well, though Lagu is often a bit of a mixed blessing. I didn’t ask a specific question, just for “guidance”, so I guess that’s partially my own fault. That said, if I tried to make a sentence or coherent statement out of it, it would be “You will have adequate resources to meet the situation, but will need to be careful of your boundaries and possibly strive to be resourceful with what you have – the outcome is in flux, but the reward for success could be very great.”

We’ll see how that plays out in the next week.

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This week (or next week) marks the half-way point of my journaling for Liturgy Practicum 1. My first entry was for the week of 13 June, which was 8 weeks ago. The journal has to be for four months, so the week of 13 October should be my last “official” recorded week.

Though like with many practices in ADF, the journaling is supposed to be the beginning or the documentation, not the culmination of the practice. I’ve created practices with this work that I hope will stick with me, but I’ll admit to being a little discouraged at how “simple” my practice is. I make offerings at my altar most days, to the Kindreds, to the Eorthan Modor, and to Eostre. I make offerings at my hearth most days, to my house spirits (who seem very fond of oatmeal, so I’ve been eating that for breakfast more). I am rekindling my deity practices – my prayer beads are on my altar, and I’ve been developing a series of prayers to say with them. (Look for those in a future week.)

But it doesn’t feel like it’s “enough”.

And, of course, the next thing I think of is Rev. Jan Avende’s song “All Things are Sacred

You should know that all things can be offered.
You should know that all things are sacred.
You should know that you’ve given the best
Of yourself
And it’s enough.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I worry that I’m going to turn in this journal, and it’s going to be deemed “too simple” or “too basic”. That this practice that I’m developing will not be enough. But I’ve always set expectations for myself that are unrealistic, and finding the balance of “this practice is meaningful” and “this practice shows enough regular devotion to warrant my place in the CTP” is something I knew from the get-go that I would struggle with.

I can think of many things that I’d like to be able to say my practice includes. Some of those things – like regular meditation – are things I’ve done in the past and can likely do again. (In fact, I’d argue that I’ll absolutely HAVE to start doing regular meditation again before I can get my Trance and Magic work done.) Other things? Like a full Core Order ritual every day? They just seem utterly unreachable – whether because I don’t have the time or because I just don’t have the willpower to set up that kind of a devotional habit (which I know those of you with small children at home will just laugh at, but we each have our own struggles).

Self doubt is a part of any practice though, and I know this. Today it seems huge, and so, in response, I’m going to go and sit my butt on a cushion and just be for awhile. Just breathe. After all, that’s why they call it “practice” right? You have to take the time to get good at it.

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