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The text of the Dedicant’s Oath Rite and a self-evaluation of the Dedicant’s performance of the rite. (500 word min.) I am not including the oath rite or the oath text itself here on the blog, as they feel rather personal. I may change my mind at a later date. These will be included in my DP submission, as they are part of the requirement. What follows is merely the ritual write up that I did following the performance of my Dedicant Oath.

I completed this ritual on Friday, September 20, 2013, just under a year after I joined ADF and started this Dedicant Path. The ritual was done as a solitary, and though originally planned to be an outdoor ritual, rain moved it inside to my usual altar space. The ritual honored the Three Kindreds in general (as Ancestors (Alfar and Disir), Landvaettir/Land Sprits, and Aesir and Vanir) as well as specifically honoring Ing Frey/Freyr, who has become close to me through this last year of work. While I do not know if he will become (or has become) my Patron, working with him has brought depth to my path, and I wanted His presence specifically at this rite.

For offerings, I brought the following:

  • Silver for the well
  • Incense for the fire
  • Whiskey for Heimdallr, the Gatekeeper
  • A bottle of good, local beer for the Ancestors
  • A blend of homegrown herbs for the Land Spirits (basil, thyme, rosemary)
  • Whiskey for the Aesir and Vanir
  • A bottle of Aranciata Soda – an Italian orange juice soda similar to Orangina – for Freyr and for my final sacrifice, as well as for the cup of blessings.

I used a combination of written rituals to create my Oath rite, including Ian Corrigan’s Solitary Blessing Rite and the sample DP Oath Rite from Our Own Druidry, as well as adding in my own poetry in a few places and giving it more of a Norse flavor throughout. The oath text itself is a combination of other published oaths, the sample oath, and some of my own writing. I was actually very pleased with the original sample oath text, so I kept a lot of it the same.

The ritual itself was very powerful, especially because I was already familiar with a lot of the text, and did a lot of preparation so I would know how the rhythm of the various parts went as speech.

I felt the two powers very strongly when I began this ritual, and my gate-opening was stronger as a result. Between good poetry and a good connection to the Two Powers, I think this was my best gate-opening to date. Overall the whole ritual was infused with a level of power and gravity that I haven’t felt in ritual before, and it was really very powerful and meaningful. It was almost as if someone had given my voice new depth when I spoke my oath – or like I was speaking into a large cavern, where my voice had an echo effect, even though I was standing at the same altar that I always use. I didn’t feel any strong emotion, other than a sort of tingling excitement once I finished my oath and moved into the omen and blessing portion of the ritual. It felt ‘right’ to have taken the oath today, and the text felt right as well.

For the omen, I used runes. I asked the question “Answer me now, O spirits, what blessing do you offer me, in return for my oath and offerings?” and drew the following three runes:

  • Jera: Year, the harvest, hard work – Each is given their proper due in full measure, good or ill. The golden crop, sown in the past, has come to fruition and is now the full harvest; the results of earlier efforts are realized. Natural cycles will always spin, and the year will always turn again, but for now all is well. The order of the cosmos is maintained, and everyone reaps the benefits of hard work and has a chance to build a new harvest for next year.
  • Fehu: Cattle, Wealth, Generosity – The “order of the cosmos” is maintained through reciprocity – the giving and receiving of wealth. This is movable wealth – like cows or coins – wealth that you can and should share as part of the greater whole. It is a sign of hope and plenty, and of income, but in the present or very near future.
  • Algiz: Elk-sedge, Offensive/Defensive Balance – Protection in an active sense – the best defense is a good offense. Warding off evil, a shield or guardian. Maintain a position won or earned against any who would topple you. Close yourself off if you need to, and only lash out if necessary.

I take this to be a very good omen, especially Jera, and take Fehu as meaning that now that I have completed this step in my Druid studies, I need to share the knowledge I have gained, and be willing to stand up for what I’ve done and the work I’ve completed. I also am inspired to get better at using Runes as I go forward on this Path, since I didn’t recognize Algiz when I drew it, and had to look it up.

Overall I think it was an excellent ritual – it went pretty much exactly according to plan, and I found a lot of meaning and worth in having done it. I do wish I could have had the experience of taking an Oath in front of my community, but they are all online at this point, so a solitary ritual was the best I could do. I don’t mind practicing as a solitary, but this oath feels like something that should be part of a community.

The only flub in the entire ritual happened after I was finished. I was taking the (very full) offering bowls and well outside to put them in the garden, and the cat knocked into me and got herby-beer-soda-whiskey all over himself. And the only thing I had handy to wash him off? Was the well water, which I promptly upended over his head. He didn’t seem too offended, and other than water all over the porch, no harm came from it. I got a good laugh though, and was reminded never to take myself too seriously. Even when making a serious oath, the Kindreds have a sense of humor.

I go forth from this ritual with a renewed sense of purpose. I am surprised by how powerful a ritual it was, and by how different I feel having completed my oath. I didn’t expect to have this dramatic of a response, and I feel newly reminted as a Druid and a Pagan, like an old coin that someone polished and brought into bright light. I am renewed in my goals to complete further study with ADF, and possibly to guide other Dedicants along this path. It has been an excellent ending to a year of hard work. This last essay is the only bit of the DP I had remaining to write when I performed the ritual, and I am glad to have experienced it as a sort of capstone on the course work.

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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 read this article on The Wild Hunt this morning, and it just made my skin crawl. The short summary is that (infamous) psychic Sylvia Browne, on the Montel Williams show, told a mother that her child was dead, and implied that the child was murdered. That child turned out to be Amanda Berry, one of three women rescued from being held captive in a house for the last ten years.

I know little or nothing about Sylvia Browne, though I hold a healthy degree of skepticism against out of the blue psychics who claim to communicate with spirits and the like, especially for high publicity jobs like those on “reality” TV shows. I hold this skepticism at the same time as I actively read tarot cards for others online (for friends and through forums, and not usually for pay) and am attempting to learn runes. I am large, and contain multitudes, I guess.

Granted, I think there’s a difference between “psychics” and performing divination – especially in the Druidic sense. When I am asking the Kindreds for their guidance, I’m specifically asking other beings that I trust to give me guidance in the form of cards or runes. I also tend to run those guidances through my own personal filters of “does this make sense”, and ask my teachers and other people whose opinions I trust if those guidances make sense. That’s for religious matters, but I do tarot readings for non-religious questions as well, and for people for whom a card reading is just a card reading, not an encounter with the divine.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, when it comes to reading for other people, it’s that I have to set boundaries. There are subjects about which I won’t read, because it is just too fuzzy, too ambiguous, and too likely to be incredibly damaging if I’m wrong. A teacher I once had called these things the “Three D’s”: Death, Disease, and Divorce. I won’t do a reading to tell you if you have cancer (go to a doctor), I won’t do a reading to tell you if you’re going to get a divorce (go to a counselor, or see a lawyer), and I won’t do a reading to tell you if someone is or is not going to die/has already died.

I also won’t do readings for people who aren’t actually there to hear them. If you want me to do a reading to look into your relationship with your mother-in-law, I’ll do that, but it will be focused on you, your actions, and how you contribute to that relationship (and whether or not your taking steps might mend or break that relationship). I will not do a reading to see how your sister is getting along with her husband, because a) that’s a huge breach of privacy – she may not want you to know that, and b) why don’t you just ask your sister? If you’re estranged from your sister, see above about a reading about mending a relationship.

And I always couch these readings with the strong statement that the cards I’m reading are only looking into how the situation looks right now. I strongly believe that even a ‘future outcome’ spread has the potential to change drastically based on how you respond to it, and that a tarot reading is never set in stone. For me, divination serves two functions – it serves as a tool for communicating with specific Gods and spirits that I trust, and it serves as a way to look into current situations and attempt to bring unseen aspects of those to light, for consideration and reflection.

Maybe I’m having too strong of a “squick” reaction to this case simply because it’s so egregiously bad. I know or know of several intuitive readers who have strong ethics and aren’t out for sensationalism. But this is just bothering me on a lot of levels.

I certainly don’t expect that everyone who reads cards or does divination work will have the same sets of boundaries and guidelines that I do – I know that kind of thing is very personal. I just really hope that people who take on this kind of responsibility will do so ethically and responsibly – in a way that suits their own boundaries and is beneficial to the person for whom they are reading. It just strikes me as highly irresponsible to tell someone that their missing loved one is dead and murdered, on national TV, and then say “well I’ve helped lots of other people, so I guess I was just wrong about that one” when it comes up as wrong.

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My Spring Equinox ritual was performed at 4pm on Friday, March 22, 2013, just after I had gotten home from work. This was a solitary ADF style ritual following the full CoOR. Using the published ritual template provided by the Solitary Druid Fellowship for the Equinox, I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother, Heimdall as the Gatekeeper, and Eostre, Freyr, and Honey bee as the patrons of the occasion. I brought incense for the fire and silver for the well, mead and poetry for the Kindreds and the Beings of the Occasion, and a handful of sweet smelling flowers for Honey Bee.

After my Imbolc ritual, which felt a bit too complicated, I went with a much simpler format – both for the ritual poetry itself and for the offerings. I had a much more solid connection to this ritual than the last one I did, and I really felt like my offerings were received well (though I think the Ancestors liked the brownie better than the mead). I gave myself a good bit of time after I got home from work to decompress before I started the ritual, and that seemed to go very well. I felt very grounded, especially at the beginning of the ritual.

All the offerings, once made into their various bowls, were spread in my gardens as part of the blessing of the coming spring. I hope the added blessings will give lots of oomph to my seedlings, and they will come up strong and stable and produce lots of veggies.

I really liked the SDF ritual format – I was able to do a little bit of improv around some of the shorter sections, where I felt I wanted to fill things out a bit, but I didn’t feel tied down to just “reading” a bunch of poetry. Also I really like the poetry I chose as offerings, some of which I modified to better fit what I wanted to say. I liked doing poetry as an additional praise offering, even if I didn’t fully write it myself, since it gave the ritual more depth. It also made the “focus” of the ritual longer, something I had wanted to do after Imbolc.

I lost focus about halfway through the ritual, but I think that was largely because my neighbor started mowing his yard right by my windows, and it distracted me. While I can’t control that in the future, hopefully as my focus grows I’ll be able to tune out lawnmowers better.

I drew runes as the omen for this ritual and got the following:

  • Kenaz: Torch, Ulcer, Cheer, Pain, Death. Kenaz can be read either as torch (from some rune poems) or ulcer (from other rune poems). As the torch it is power to create your own reality, the power of light. Open to new strength, energy, and power now; the fire of regeneration or the warmth of a hearth fire. It can also be a beacon that draws you home or illumines the dangers of your path. Kenaz provides a clear warning of danger, but danger that can be avoided. It can also be death, a sore that eats away at your insides, a battle that goes poorly. This rune’s dual meanings means it must be read in context, and often is up to a great deal of interpretation.
  • Berkano: Birch, Strength, Flexibility, Resourcefulness. This is the rune of resourcefulness and making something from nothing, and Rev. Dangler speaks of it as the rune of “female strength” (Very Basics of Runes 47). It speaks of birth and rebirth, and physical or mental growth. There is also an element of strength and pride to this rune meaning, alongside the current of fertility and creativity, that you can see in the last two lines of the rune poem. I see self-sufficiency as well, in the first lines of the poem (the tree that brings forth new trees generated from its own leaves)
  • Othila: Stationary Wealth, Ancestors, Completion. This is inherited wealth or property, the kind of wealth that is passed from generation to generation and is stable and secure. Safety, increase, and abundance, or perhaps the completion of a task in such a way that it is stable and secure. Acting from your center, with all the support of your ancestors and your heritage, and being secure in their values.

There are many possible pitfalls on this path, but if you are wary and careful, you will be given the strength and resourcefulness to overcome them, and you will end in a place of completion and wealth.

I swear I mixed the runes up really well, but these are the same runes I’ve drawn for my most recent weekly rune drawings. I can’t help but think there’s a message they’re trying to tell me, but I’m not sure I know what it is.

The question I asked was “What blessings do the Kindreds give to me?”

I’m starting to think I just have a block against interpreting runes. I know what the meanings are (obviously), but actually coming up with how they apply to anything, or make a story together is another thing altogether. Especially when I keep drawing the rune that means “either a good thing or a really bad thing, you figure it out”. I do think there is a middle way to read Kenaz, or at least there could be – it could be that there are dangers and troubles, but that Kenaz will illumine them if you are careful and watchful.

The best sentence I could come up with for this reading is basically a rehash of the rune drawing I did for Imbolc, but with different runes and a slightly more positive spin or outcome. At best, I can take away that I’m going in the right direction, but that hardships aren’t over yet.

Another possibility is that I need to spend some extra time getting in touch with my Disir (Female Ancestors), and that they can help me with this struggle. This particular way of reading could be pointing at some of my mental health problems, though I’m not sure how that specifically answers the “blessings” question.

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Last week’s rune was Berkano, the rune of female strength, flexibility, and resourcefulness. I see that rune reflected both in my relationships last week (during which I spent specific time strengthening my female friendships) and in how I handled what could have been a day-ruining weather event on Saturday. In fact, my entire group of friends showed a remarkable level of general flexibility on Saturday, as we tried several times to get a cookout going (but ended up back at my house, as the wind was so strong we couldn’t get the park grill to cook anything). We made the best of it, and ended up having a really wonderful time.

This week’s rune is Othila – Stationary Wealth, Ancestors, Completion. This is inherited wealth or property, the kind of wealth that is passed from generation to generation and is stable and secure. Safety, increase, and abundance, or perhaps the completion of a task in such a way that it is stable and secure. Acting from your center, with all the support of your ancestors and your heritage, and being secure in their values.

I am starting to think about changing this practice slightly. While it’s useful for me to draw a rune, I am finding that without a specific situation to apply these runes to, they seem to just exist in a void at the beginning of the week. I have no idea how Othila may or may not manifest itself this week, so I’ll just have to see what happens.

I’m actually starting to wonder if runes are going to be a good fit for me again. I still read tarot, and it’s just EASIER. Probably because it’s both more situational/relational and because I’ve been reading the cards for close to 10 years. Still, I feel like I “should” like the runes, being that I’m working in a Norse hearth, so I want to give them more than a few week’s worth of trying. I really like my actual set of runes as well, which usually helps. Maybe I just need to do more readings with them to feel like I can understand how to read and interpret them. It really does feel totally different than the readings I’m used to doing with tarot cards.

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Since I’ve been thinking about where I fit into ADF, and what my future paths will be and how those are or aren’t affected by ADF, I thought I’d try doing a more introspective sort of Rune drawing. Normally I use a set of cedar runes that I got from The Magical Druid, but I had the inspiration while I was away from home, so I tried a drawing with the app Runes, by Netistry.

I thought for awhile on how to phrase a question. What I want is insight into where I am on this path, and where I’m supposed to be going. So I ended up doing just that – asking the runes for insight into my spiritual path. It’s not the most specific of questions, but I couldn’t find anything more focused that still had the same feeling to it. I guess I wanted to leave the question a bit open ended and see what happened.

These are the runes that I drew:

  • Jera – Year, the harvest, hard work – Each is given their proper due in full measure, good or ill. The golden crop, sown in the past, has come to fruition and is now the full harvest; the results of earlier efforts are realized. Natural cycles will always spin, and the year will always turn again, but for now all is well. The order of the cosmos is maintained, and everyone reaps the benefits of hard work and has a chance to build a new harvest for next year.
  • Ehwaz – The horse, transportation, an easy journey – Mind your connection to animal spirits as helpers and partners. Successful partnerships require care and respect – neglect your allies at your peril. Keep a level head and do not be reckless – gradual change and continued progress is at hand, and will lead you to your goals. Remember that you travel with help, and those allies can make the journey easy for you.
  • Sowilo – The sun – Energy, clarity, and satisfaction. In the absence of obstacles and distractions, realize that your sustained, focused efforts have resulted in success. In the light of the sun, you can see to the horizon. The Sun’s power is available to you to make changes that will lead to renewed life and victory. Wholeness; all is right with the world.

I’ll be honest, getting such an unabashedly positive reading startled me at this point. I’ve been floundering a little with regards to what path I should take and where I should go, and I’ve not had hugely positive readings when I’ve asked similar questions over the last year or so. I try not to do this reading too often, so I don’t get weird results, but every few months or so I’m trying to check in and see what I’m missing, or need to be paying attention to, or how I’m doing. This is the first time I’ve drawn an entirely positive spread for this, which hopefully means that things are looking up, and I’ll be able to get some clarity and sense of feeling settled in.

If I apply a “past, present, future” template to this reading, it actually makes a lot of sense.

You did a lot of spiritual work in the past, it was very good, and it has allowed you to move on into a new “harvest” for the future. Use your allies and those around you to help you and guide you on this path, and all of your efforts will be successful in the end.

Of course, there’s no definite answer to what success actually IS in this situation, being that I asked a really open ended question, but for now I’m content with the idea that I’m moving in the right direction, and that the work I’m doing isn’t going unnoticed. I can’t say for sure that this reading is ADF specific, since I didn’t ask the question that way, but I think it suggests good things to come, and that I’m doing the right thing (for now) in studying and working on this path.

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Last week’s rune was Dagaz – the rune of daylight and hope. Aside from an amusing (and frustrating) correlation to problems I had with the power company on Tuesday (whereby I literally had to deal with “the lights”), I’m not sure I get a strong feeling where this rune applies to last week. There are a few situations that are minorly improving or showing signs of awareness of a need for improvement, but no great realizations or hopefulness or anything. Perhaps drawing the rune was little more than a joke about keeping the lights on.

This week’s rune is Berkano: Birch, Strength, Flexibility, Resourcefulness

      The poplar bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers,
   for it is generated from its leaves.
   Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned
   its lofty crown which reaches to the skies. – Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem

This is the rune of resourcefulness and making something from nothing, and Rev. Dangler speaks of it as the rune of “female strength” (Very Basics of Runes 47). It speaks of birth and rebirth, and physical or mental growth. There is also an element of strength and pride to this rune meaning, alongside the current of fertility and creativity, that you can see in the last two lines of the rune poem. I see self-sufficiency as well, in the first lines of the poem (the tree that brings forth new trees generated from its own leaves).

I have a scheduled “girl’s date” this week that I hope will be reflected in this poem – though admittedly that will be a gathering of female strength and about sharing our burdens and working together as much as it will about self-sufficiency. The self-sufficiency aspect I hope will be more reflected in my work this week, as I could use a dose of this sort of energy in my professional life in a big way. Hopefully both of those will come about this week.

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