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9 – Describe the intention and function of the Three Kindreds invocations, and give a short description of each of the Kindreds. (minimum 100 words for each of the Three Kindreds)

The three kindreds invocations serve as ways to name and identify the kindreds by type, function, and role in the ritual and in the lives of the participants/the world. They primarily take the form of lists of attributes, titles, great works, or other specific identification markers (like names, realms of influence, type) as ways for us to remember them and for them to be identified and called specifically to our rituals. None of the Kindred are omniscient or omnipresent, or we would not need to invite them to our rituals specifically, nor ask them for specific blessings.

Ancestors: Often called the Mighty Ones or the Mighty Dead, these are the spirits of our past. They can be of several types: ancestors of blood – our direct progenitors and family members, ancestors of heart – those people who were not family but were close to us in life, ancestors of mind – people who taught and inspired us, and ancestors of spirit – people with whom we share a spiritual path, as well as the ancestors of the place in which we currently live or do ritual. We call upon all the different Ancestors in ritual (sometimes specifically, sometimes all together as one category) and ask their blessings and protection. The ancestors are typically beings who are concerned with the well-being of their descendants, and can be reliable allies in life (Corrigan “Worlds”). Offerings to them should be tailored to their specific likes in life (if they are being called by name) or, more often, general offerings of food and drink (to show that they are welcome at our table and to spiritually feed them from our own bounty). The Ancestors are invited to connect us to the past and to the ever present spirits of those who have gone before (Bonewits “Step”). They provide a link to all the previous priests and druids who have gone before, and ask their presence and blessing and guardianship over the ritual.

Nature Spirits: Often called the Noble Ones, these are the spirits of land and place that inhabit the middle realm with us (Corrigan “Worlds”). They can be of myriad types, from house spirits and land spirits to animals and plants, to elves and fae, depending on the ritual and the person(s) performing it (Bonewits “Step”). Sometimes mischievous, other times aloof, they do not depend on human interaction, but are instead honored as part of the world that we inhabit and call home. The non-animal Nature Spirits, in particular, have specific ways they like to be addressed and given offerings, and when those preferences are upheld, they are often friendly and helpful spirits to us. The Nature Spirits are invited to give us the comfort, knowledge, and blessings that we will need to accomplish our goals for the rest of the ceremony (Bonewits “Step”).

Deities: Often called the Shining Ones, First Children of the Mother, these are the beings most often honored as “spirits of the occasion” in ADF rituals (Corrigan “Worlds”). They are the gods and goddesses that we honor and worship, and from whom we expect the greatest blessings and protection. They are the great heroes of myth and legend, and we relate their stories as a way to honor and remember them. They are all separate (or mostly separate) and each has his or her own personality, likes and dislikes, and function within their respective pantheons. By these attributes, we relate to them and make offerings to them (Bonewits “Step”). The Dieties are invited to provide us with power and blessings, especially power and blessings particular to the rite to which they are invited (Bonewits “Step”). As well, they fulfill the goal of ritual that seeks to exalt the ritual attendees spiritually (Bonewits “Step” Corrigan “Intentions”).

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The Ancestors play an important part in my spiritual practice. Under many names – the Ancestors, the Mighty Ones, the Mighty Dead, Idesa and Alfar – they are one of ADF’s Three Kindreds and an important practice in the Norse and Anglo-Saxon cultures.

The Mighty Ones are the Ancestors, those of our folk who are presently resting in the Land of the Dead. They watch over their descendants and lend their power to aid us. It is proper for every Druidic worshipper to honor her immediate ancestors, her Grandmothers and Grandfathers, as well as the Heroes, those great women and men who are honored by her folk. – The Worlds and the Kindreds

Some articles and references for the Ancestors, particularly the Disir/Idesa/Matronae (Female ancestors and guardians)

Historically, the Norse/Germanic/Anglo-Saxon cultures had strong beliefs about their ancestors being a part of their family’s good fortune. These beings – which are sometimes confused with Nature Spirits after awhile, especially if they are connected to a burial mound or site – watch over their descendents and protect them in life, often interfering to bring good fortune or luck in battle. If you wanted to speak with a particular Dis, you would go out and sit all night on her burial mound, seeking her council (a practice called out-sitting).

In my personal practice, the Ancestors are a part of my daily life. I make regular offerings to a group of Idesa I call my “Prairie Godmothers” – women whose strength and courage helped bring their families to the United States, where they lived as pioneers. Every time I clean my kitchen, I light a candle to them, and make them a small offering of thanks. I want to channel their courage and inner fortitude in my own life, so I invite them in regularly.

I’ve also been called directly (through a blog-friend who does Seidhr) to work more with my dead and spend time with my ancestors. I don’t know exactly what this means, but I have tried to incorporate more work with them into my practice, and to spend additional time with them when I do ritual. I’m not very good at it yet, but I am trying to make this more a focus of my practice. As part of this, I’ve been collecting family genealogy from both my and my husband’s family in a central location in our home. Keeping this information current and easy to reference helps me connect to my direct ancestors. I would like to expand this practice to more spiritual ancestors, whether they be ancients or just other figures in history who can guide me in my spiritual work. Hopefully this will help me fulfill the request to pay more attention to my dead.

I put a lot of stock and respect in the answers I got from Beth on the subject (prompted by my constantly receiving the rune Hagalaz while not seeing elements of destruction and chaos around), so I trust that this is important, both to my ancestors and the mighty dead, and to Hela herself, as the goddess of the underworld. Admittedly, I’m a little intimidated by cultivating a relationship with a Goddess of Death, but I am well aware that my being uncomfortable is either something she doesn’t much care about, or is actively seeking. It’s definitely outside my comfort zone.

I had some particularly interesting dreams about two ancestors of spirit, back when I was practicing Wicca, but I haven’t seen or sought them out again. I need to begin seeking some Anglo-Saxon and Norse ancestors, particularly women ancestors (for some reason I am very drawn to them). I don’t know much else to do beyond granting them offerings and paying attention to them, but as I develop better trance and meditative listening/journeying skills I hope I will have some better ideas of things I can do – and maybe even names or personalities I can begin to associate with them.

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I celebrated my Lammas ritual at around 5pm on Saturday, July 27. Normally I try to do my rituals when I have time alone in the house, and I had extra time this weekend where I was by myself, so I did my ritual then. This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the COoR. I used the Solitary Norse Ritual template found here as the basis for my ritual, and added in special sections in honor of Freyr, as he was the god of the occasion, being that his is the sacrifice that goes with the first harvest. I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother and Heimdallr as the gatekeeper. I brought incense for the fire and silver for the well, whiskey for Bragi and Heimdallr, a can of soda for the outdwellers, and shared a bottle of ginger beer as my primary offering. I also baked a loaf of corn bread to offer Freyr, which I then placed around the corners of my house as a blessing.

I liked this ritual template better for this ritual than I did when I used it for Ewemeolc. I still stumbled over the words some, which a practice run would have helped alleviate. I had real trouble getting the Two Powers to feel present, though I didn’t have much trouble feeling distracted – which is miraculous, as I forgot to feed the cat before my ritual, and he interrupted it. I made a cat-food offering at the same time as I offered (outside) to the outdwellers, and that worked fairly well. I used some of my own poetry to Freyr, as well as other published poems that I had collected, and used that as my primary offering and the centerpiece of the rite.

I wonder, in hindsight, if I shouldn’t have saved the loaf of bread for a magical working, after receiving the blessings. The loaf of bread was a sacrifice, but it was also used to bless my home afterwards (with chunks of the bread placed at each corner of the house).

After making my offerings, I asked the Kindreds to “give to me of your blessings” and drew the following runes:

  • Hagalaz: Hail – Destruction, death, an early Winter.
  • Mannaz: Man/Mortality – The self. A sense of resignation, of orlog, or fate. The way of the world, an inescapable cycle of events. The power of humans together to attempt to make a difference, to take control of things within their power.
  • Nauthiz: Need/Lessons Learned – work without reward, oppressive forces that cannot be avoided, hardship. Lessons can be learned from this situation, but they are hard won.

Yikes. I noted that this was decidedly less of a glowing review of my ritual, made some extra offerings of incense to the fire, and closed out the ritual without much further ado.

This is the first time I’ve gotten three “doom-y” runes in a row, and the first time I’ve ever pulled hagalaz as an omen in a ritual, so I’m a little shaken up. I find Hagalaz to be particularly disturbing at this, the first harvest festival, since a late hailstorm can totally ruin a year’s worth of work.

I also noted that in this ritual I gave alcohol to the first offerings (Bragi and Heimdallr) but since I usually make my offerings to the kindreds from my own cup (because I like that symbolism) offered them a non-alcoholic beverage. I am currently on a medication that has some SERIOUS side effects if combined with alcohol, so I can’t drink. This is sad, because I really would like to offer more mead. And maybe I can skip my medication on the days I do ritual so I can share mead with my Kindreds (it’s the type of medicine that skipping a day is OK, I take it as I need it. I just had already taken some today). I wonder if that got me the really negative reaction, or if I’m in for a world of hurt for the next short while.

I’ve done a lot of pondering on this rune drawing in the week since my ritual, as well as asked for help from more experienced rune readers, and while the general consensus is that things are probably not good (either now or in the future), there are more positive ways to look at this reading, or ways to look at it that place it into context as more than just DOOM AND DESTRUCTION. For one thing, it could simply be that the destruction is of something that is standing in my way – which might be painful to let go of, but would be a positive-outcome in the end. Nauthiz can be the lessons I learn from that clearing away (or the fact that it really needs to happen), and Mannaz can simply mean that it has to do with me personally, as part of my self (which could be a direct reference to the fall being a time that I generally struggle with my bipolar disorder, and that this fall I’ll make some breakthroughs through hard inner work done). This could also reference the instability of my job right now, which would also make sense.

This type of nuance is something I’m not very good at with the runes, and so I intend to use future studies to really try to get a better read on how to use them well and wisely.

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I’m to the point in the Dedicant Path where I’m working on some of the bigger, meatier essays about things like my personal religion and my relationships with the Three Kindreds. It’s a bit daunting, especially now that I’ve finished writing my virtue essays (which will get published here over the next week or so). I’m going to tackle the Three Kindreds first, since I think that’s going to be the most challenging of the remaining essays for me to write – and if I’m going to take that approach, I may as well start with the one that gives me the most trouble. (That used to be the Ancestors, but I’ve been doing a lot more work with them, so I’m feeling much better connected there lately.)

Nature Spirits are a big category for ADF Druids – they are one of the “Big Three” divisions of spirits that we work with for our magic and our worship. They are a multitude of different types of spirit, from elves and wights and trolls of lore, to place-spirits and house-spirits, to the spirits of animals (particular animals and as guides). They generally occupy the middle world with us humans, and our magical workings cause us to run into them on a regular basis.

I don’t know much about this class of spirit, but I’m attempting to learn more. I’m currently reading Elves, Wights, and Trolls (Kveldulf Gundarsson) in an attempt to learn more about how my Norse and Germanic ancestors would have viewed this class of spirits. They are, by and large, an extremely diverse bunch, from friendly house wights to dangerous and trickster types who work against humans and against the Gods. Much like humans and Gods, some of them are considerably more cooperative than others. (Though I found his initial explanation on what to offer and how to behave around them very interesting, as they are quite different than the Celtic Sidhe/Fae that I’ve been more accustomed to in mythology).

I hope to incorporate them more into my practice as I learn more about them. The book is a little dense at times, but I think it’s been a good introduction to all the different roles that the different types of Spirits can have – from Jotuns/Ettins to Land Wights to Water Wights. I’m only about half way through at this point, but I think I’ve learned a lot.

I do try to keep a working relationship with my house spirits and the spirits of my little piece of earth. I don’t leave offerings as often as I should, but I try to make offerings of food – especially baked goods – and make sure that I do my best to make my home and yard a welcoming place for animals and spirits. I have several “wild” areas for bugs and birds, and I like to leave out food offerings. I also regularly thank my local house spirits when I’m cleaning my house weekly, asking to make sure that I don’t disturb them with loud things like the vacuum cleaner and sprinkling cleansing herbs and essential oils in my vacuum bag to help keep the house nice-smelling and pleasant for them. (It helps keep it nice for us humans too!)

I have several animal “spirits” that I have an affinity with. I wouldn’t call them guides, so much as presences that I’ve noticed in my life. I turn to them for advice at times, or just see them frequently in my Mental Grove workings. In particular, I see Owl, Rabbit and Toad, and occasionally Stag. I have the closest relationship with Owl and Rabbit, whom I have spoken with and gotten wisdom from, but I hesitate to call them true “guides”, other than that they have acted as guides for me in trance meditations when I am out exploring the worlds around my Mental Grove.

One ritual I do consistently is a note of respect to the dead that I find. This usually means I’m doing the ritual in my car, so it has to be a quick ritual, but I find that I get a feeling of comfort from it. When I see an animal that has been killed on the road (or other places, but most often it’s on the road), I kiss my hand and say a prayer of comfort and release for that animal, willing it to be at peace and to travel onward toward its next life.  I should actually write up a prayer to say for this, in light of yesterdays post about writing more prayers.

I have a strong working relationship with Nature herself, as a gardener and as someone generally concerned with the well-being of both the planet and of my little patch of earth, but working with the particular personal spirits that make up this Kindred is something I don’t have a lot of experience with yet, and it’s something I hope to grow and encourage as my practice deepens. I would especially like to create relationships with particular plants and trees around my home. Perhaps it’s time to start making more offerings, hugging more trees, and lighting more candles!

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I’ve felt a strong pull toward working with the Ancestors recently, I think brought on by finding some genealogical research that my family has done. My mom and my (paternal) uncle have done a lot of research into our family histories recently, and it’s been really interesting to see where people have been. My husband’s mother and aunt are both extremely interested in family history as well, so I have pretty well documented family trees that go back several hundred years (in most cases) to the various places of our ancestry.

My heritage is pretty well mixed, but the largest parts of it are Scottish and Italian, with some English, Irish, and Dutch, and possibly French or Belgian (I have an adopted grandparent, so it gets confusing). My husband is German (Frisian) and Danish, with some French (Huguenot) as well. (He looks like a Viking. I look like an Italian peasant. It works out!) At this point both of our families are pretty jumbled up, even though my Italian family didn’t come to the United States until around World War I, and his German family has been in Texas since just before Texas joined the US (in 1846).

Which, of course, makes it a little harder to say “I’m working in this strain of Paganism because I have family heritage there”. Though I certainly have English and Dutch relatives, some of whom have been in the US since New York was called New Amsterdam, I have no idea if they were Germanic (Angles/Saxons) or Celts or Gauls in descent, though there’s some rumor that my ancestral family ended up in England via William the Conqueror’s army. (Alternately William the Bastard, depending on your preferred side in that conflict.)

What I do know, however, is that I am descended from hard working people in both my birth and married families. My (mostly Scottish) grandmother grew up on a farm in the Great Depression, and my husband’s family is still farming in South Texas. While his family no longer speaks German, his father grew up speaking it a little bit at home, and they are very well connected to their history in the hill country of Texas.

So while I am sure I have ancestral ties to my pagan forebears, I have no idea what their religion might have been! It’s likely that they are a pretty mixed bunch at this point.

Still, some (admittedly basic) internet research says that most of north west Europe had a devotion to the “Mothers” (Matres and Matrones), and that’s something I’d like to continue, especially since this seems to have been a very widespread practice (and, if the shrines of gratitude are any suggestion, a successful one).

I’d also like to continue to honor my American “Matrones” – the women whose hard work brought their families here to this country and kept them alive. My grandmother and great grandmothers were strong, determined, independent women who I am proud to be related to – and I have begun to feel the same way towards the mothers of my husband’s family too. Life was hard in the hill country, and they made it work.

I’m especially drawn to find strength from my ancestors (whether Matrones or Disir) when I’m struggling with my mental health, since I need all the extra strength I can get to continue to advocate on my own behalf and work towards balance and wellness. It’s a combination of needing strength and protection, which fall into the sphere of the family pretty nicely.

My first steps toward growing that practice has been lighting a jar candle on my hearth (stove) every time I’m in the kitchen. I light it and say a prayer for guidance from the Ancestral Mothers and for their protection over my home and family. (This makes my kitchen smell nice too, which is a fun side-effect).

I’ve also specifically been mentioning them when I light incense (almost daily), and when I do my morning devotions with my tea at work. I’d like to build a small shrine to them somewhere in my house or yard (and also make an effort to get all my family genealogy gathered into one place in the house).

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>> In which the Druid in the Swamp reveals that she is, in fact, a complete barking moonbat. Enjoy. <<

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

I am breathing in a long, slow in-breath. I am breathing out a smooth, calm out-breath.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

You’re still thinking about breathing.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

Find the stillness. Think about trees. Remember the mental grove? Big tree. Oak tree, loooooong limbs that stretch out all around, breathe into the limbs, breathe into your toes and grow roots, breathe in, breathe out. Be inside the tree, reach out to the water and the sky, breathe in, breathe out.

Still thinking.

Breathe in, breathe out.

That’s better.

Stop thinking about better. Just breathe, dammit.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Hi.

!

Uh.  Hi? Hi! What am I supposed to say now? Who are you?

You know who I am.

Really? Ok, well I figured I was still guessing. I’ll guess that’s right for now, or at least stick with it.

… now what am I supposed to say? Oh great… thing… god? You ARE a god, right?

<laughter>

So I’m supposed to be talking to you. I guess this is like praying, right? I introduce myself and say hi and then tell you all about… what? My desk job? How boring am I, really. I’m glad you liked the cedar incense though. Do you like the pine as well?

<pause>

I like the pine AND the cedar. Maybe I’ll burn both together?

<pause>

Ok, mental note to buy more cedar incense. Um. Now what do I say? Do you… uh… do you like tea?

<laughter> Yes, I like tea. And honey and mead, but you knew that already.

I did? Oh. I guess I did, yeah. Ok, so honey with your tea. What about cider?

<pause> Mead is better.

Ok, Mead. Though you won’t mind if I drink the cider myself right? And maybe share some?

Of course that is fine.

If I can find some, I’ll bring you some raspberry mead. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s amazing. I guess I get to learn about meads now, too. Hey I have tea every morning, maybe I can … um … say something when I drink it? If you don’t hate my office building? Which would be OK, I kind of hate my office building.

<laughter> Just good morning is a start.

I can do that.

>>To be continued (maybe) <<

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I was thinking about my post last week, and about how I never made the first oath to start the Dedicant path, even though it was given as an assignment in the WOTY book and suggested on the website.

I’m oath-shy, I guess? I didn’t want to promise anything that I couldn’t fulfill to any Gods who might want to be listening. I take that very seriously, and at the time I didn’t think I could honestly promise anything more than to give it a try and see what happened.

I’m still not sure I’d make much more oath than that.

This week’s assignment is to start thinking about the Dedicant Oath, taken as the last step on the Dedicant Path. I know I don’t need to be ready for that step yet, but I’m really not looking forward to it right now. It’s probably the thing that will hold me up on completing the DP – all the other work is fairly methodical and finishable, but an oath? That’s much more complicated.

For one thing, it’s not just you that makes an oath – it’s a resounding sort of thing that you’re swearing to the Kindreds that you’ll uphold, and they will hold you to it. That’s pretty serious business, and I hesitate to make an oath that will be binding for the rest of my life when I really don’t know how the rest of my life will shape up. I know I can word it so that I’m only on this path as long as I want to travel it, but it still makes me altogether uneasy. I especially don’t want my words to be twisted to mean more than I intend, or to be held to a promise I didn’t intend to make, so there’s a lot of deliberation here.

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be, that it should be a little uncomfortable and challenging, something to take the step forward into being recognized as a Dedicant (though I think what I’m doing now is a pretty full practice of ADF style Druidry, I’m just not labeled as having completed a particular set of coursework yet). And maybe I’m a little bit afraid of commitment (I’ll admit to that much).

I know the Norse took oaths very seriously, and if I end up actually making an oath, I intend to do so very seriously as well. I’m just not really in a place with Druidry where I’m ready to swear anything to anyone about it, yet. Maybe I will get there and maybe not, and I really do have quite a while to make these decisions. It seems a bit early to be thinking about it, honestly, but I guess for some people this comes much more easily.

My tendency to overthink things may be kicking in here, but I feel like I should really mean it if I’m going to make an actual, serious, legitimate oath. What I want, more than anything, is to find the place that I fit into paganism (regardless of what that path is). Maybe in 6 months I’ll be more sure of how I want to address the Dedicant Oath and my eventual place in ADF.

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