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Posts Tagged ‘altar’

This week I have decided to add a little to my daily practice, and then I may stick with it for awhile.

My (almost) daily routine is as follows:

Light lamp
Light incense

Cosmos Prayer:

The waters support and surround me
The land extends about me
The sky stretches out above me
At the center burns a living flame
May all the kindreds bless me
May my worship be true
May my actions be just
May my love be pure
Blessings, and honor, and worship to the holy ones

Prayers to Earth Mother and Gatekeeper, the two beings that I am tasked with developing relationships with as part of this journey through Clergy 1:

Eorthan Modor, I am your child. Uphold me today and always, as I honor you and walk the elder ways.

Eostre, She who walks the paths of Dawn. Guide me today and always, and may your light shine upon my path as I walk the elder ways.

This week in the grove meeting we are doing a full moon ritual, which should be fun and also good practice. Everyone who wants a speaking part will be drawing randomly from a hat, and we’re going to try to get everyone used to improvising our ritual pieces.

Last weekend, I got to practice my clergy discipline routine of having a monthly “retreat day”. It was spread out over two days, because it’s hard for me to take 24 hours entirely out of my (admittedly probably overscheduled) life, at least every single month.

This is the basic text of the monthly retreat ritual that I am working on. As I change and update it, I will update here. I’m actually pretty happy with this ritual though – it’s a full core order, takes about 20 minutes to do. I typically go for more explicitly poetic ritual pieces, but for some reason this one is what I came up with. It’s a variation on another ritual that I used to use, and I’m really happy with how it turned out for solo practice.

(more…)

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So I have completely dropped the ball on my ADF study work since getting accepted into CTP-1. (Other than getting Div 1 approved, which I’d already completed). It’s been almost a year, and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things after my life completely upended and started over. I have a new job in a new field/career, have packed up everything I owned and moved, am finalizing a divorce after the end of a 10 year marriage, and have, in that time, also shepherded Nine Waves through the final steps of our Grove Charter. We had 22 people at our May Day ritual.

It’s been… a lot.

My routines adapted at first, and then fell by the wayside as I managed in crisis mode for so long, only to have my life finally starting to settle into place now, in mid-May, and my not really have any idea what I’m doing. Other than “too much” and “not enough” simultaneously.

I’ve talked to a couple of ADF’s priests about it, and that’s been very helpful. I’m holding too tightly to some things, and need to rediscover others. So, if you’ll permit me the diversion to not be perhaps the world’s most motivated clergy student, I’m going to start that process – and this blog – up again with something simple.

One of the courses in CTP-1 is called Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice.

Students will develop new (or document existing) personal and/or family worship customs, such as morning devotions, meal offerings, or seasonal observances. Students will research worship customs of ADF and/or from a chosen Indo-European culture-whether historical or reconstructed and begin to implement these customs within the home setting (or other personal, rather than large group, context). These personal and/or household rituals or other observances may be either reconstructions of culturally specific practices, or based more upon modern ADF liturgical format, or a combination of the two. Household practices and rituals should include all interested members of the household, with options for the inclusion of children encouraged when applicable. Worship should be practiced weekly at a minimum, although daily practice is encouraged.

A specific aim of this course is to experiment and expand practice where possible: to that end, new practices and prayers should be a large part of the journal turned in for the final question.

NOTE: This course assumes the student is working with at least one hearth culture. In completing the Dedicant Path documentation, the student will have begun to explore this culture, including the reading of at least one book as the subject for a review. For students who may wish for further study—or who may wish to explore another cultural focus—the following books are possible resources to consult as needed.

The primary goal of this course is for students to develop and implement regular personal and/or family worship customs in the home setting.

Requirement #1: Key concepts from required reading:

  1. What three factors (“subcategories”) does Bonewits identify as determining the impact of “familiarity” on the success of a ritual? Briefly discuss the ways in which personal or family-only ritual is aided or hindered by these factors when compared to public group ritual. (Minimum 100 words)
  2. What six methods of prayer does Ceisiwr Serith describe? Briefly suggest an example of how you might employ each in your personal worship practices. You may include worship with a group if applicable. (Minimum 200 words)
  3. What arguments does Ceisiwr Serith make in support of set prayers (as opposed to spontaneous prayers)? Discuss how these arguments apply (or do not apply) to solitary Pagan prayer. (Minimum 200 words)

Requirement #2: Documenting personal ritual practice:

  1. Keep and submit for review a journal documenting the development and observance of the personal/household worship customs described above covering a period of not less than four months, including one observance of a seasonal festival, such as one of the eight ADF High Days. Entries are to be not less than weekly. The text of individual prayers and longer devotional rituals should be provided as frequently as possible. Regular practices occurring less than weekly will be considered if they are documented as revivals or reconstructions of historically-attested observances occurring less than weekly.

***

There are a few courses in the Clergy Training Program that require weekly work, and I have, in the past, attempted to combine them all into one big mega journaling experiment, with multiple entries for the various courses each week. I can not sustain that level of effort right now. I am literally rebuilding from ground zero. My practice is nonexistent. Week 1’s entry is literally “setting up and getting started”. But for the next four months, I will focus on this. I will focus on MY practice – what is it that I do, as an ADF dedicant, as a clergy student, as a senior druid of a grove. What does my domestic practice look like?

The freedom to rebuild that from the ground up is a little staggering, but in a good way I think. I can’t do this “wrong” – I have experience from over a decade of pagan practice to guide me as I rebuild. And at the end of four months, I will have a documented journal to turn in to my reviewer, and one that I hopefully will be able to turn in proudly, as evidence that even after literally everything has changed, the work still needs to be done, and I am still capable of doing it.

  • Gear – the harvest, reward for hard work
  • Feoh – wealth that must be shared and is movable
  • Eolh – good boundaries and strong protections

Those were the omens I drew when I made my oath as a dedicant. May they guide me here now, as I work the next step of my training.

Liturgy Practicum 1: Week 1 (May 15, 2017)

We begin… at the beginning. (I’m told it’s a very good place to start.) My altar is set up, and in my new living space – a one bedroom apartment – there is no ignoring it unless I’m being obtuse. I have to walk past it to get to the bathroom from my desk! My task, this week, has been simply to pause and breathe there a few times a day. No prayers required. Incense optional. Rebuild the habit of pausing there to ground and center. It will take a little while for this to truly be ingrained, but as a hearth practice goes, it’s at least getting me to pay attention.

My altar space is pretty much exactly what it was in the old house, just in a new location. I also have a new oil lamp for my fire that I picked up at the TX Imbolc Retreat in February. Otherwise, it is simply the space that I have, on top of a bookshelf, to pray, to make offerings, and to find my center.

It feels really really good.

I’m fighting the urge to throw myself into things – to do too much too fast. But a thing worth doing is worth doing well, and trying to do too much is only going to result in me flaming out in three weeks. Next week, I will re-examine prayers. This week, just light the flame and breathe.

I can tell already I’m going to need another jar of lamp oil.

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A brief description, with photos if possible, of the Dedicant’s home shrine and plans for future improvements. (150 words min.)

My Druid altar sits in my “craft” room (it is a craft room both in the sense of sewing and knitting and in the sense of magical craft). The room is just off the main hallway of my home, and I walk by it several times each day going to and from our office. It is, by necessity, in a room that’s easy to close off when we have guests – both because it is not anywhere near appropriate for a small child, and because I am still a closeted Druid, and do not wish to share my religion with my (very Christian) family.

The altar itself sits on a bookshelf on the eastern wall, and I use the bookshelf to store all of my magical and religious tools as well as other less obviously religious books (like my mythology books). I try to have it keep a low profile, though my more recent updates have it looking more obviously altar-like and less like just a cluttered bookshelf.

I perform all of my ADF rituals here, as well as most of my meditation (I keep a cushion on the floor in front of the bookshelf for seated meditation). The shelf is standing-height accessible, so I stand for all of my ritual observances.

altar4-13a(The room my altar is in is yellow, so it’s hard not to get very yellow tinged pictures!)

On the altar I have a (handmade) metal Tree that hangs on the wall, a trio of votive candles as my Fire (along with an incense burner) and a Well handmade by a carpenter of carefully jointed wooden pieces. I also have two small Tree of Life wood-burned tree pieces from The Magical Druid, to help balance the altar and because I like having the extra representations of trees there. There are as well a set of tingshas I use as my musical signal to begin my rituals, a goblet for offerings and receiving blessings, some small bowls and a tiny pitcher for offerings, and a large wooden bowl to accept offerings, since it seems unwise to pour them on the carpet. I keep my runes on the altar as well, plus a large “holey” stone that a good friend of mine brought back from a military trip. I am sure he thought I was weird to ask him to bring me a rock with a natural hole in it, but he’s a geologist, so I figured he’d be sympathetic.

On the second shelf I have two larger candles, mostly because I like candles, as well as some owl figurines (a Nature Spirit I am particularly close to), some amber jewelry (to help me connect with Freya), a wooden acorn (to represent ADF Druidry) and a small green man figure.

Future altar updates include adding statuary for the various Gods I work with, particularly Freyr (I am thinking of looking for a small boar to represent him, as that will provoke fewer questions than an obviously phallic statue would) and something for Njord. A small wagon would be appropriate for Nerthus as well. These additions are waiting mostly on budget and on finding statues I like – I tend to find a lot of the things online too shiney or modern or just don’t like them much. I figure I can afford to be picky when it comes to my Gods. I don’t know where exactly I will PUT all of these things, but perhaps it will be time for my owls to move elsewhere, or for me to expand to a bigger surface. Right now, though, this version of my altar is highly functional, and I am always happy to settle into my rituals here. The setup is easy to use, and not too cluttered, but still contains everything I need.

I should note that I also keep a “hearth shrine” at my stove, where I light candles daily as part of my remembrance of my ancestors. There are no ritual objects there, only the candles I burn and my dedication to keeping the stove clean and the area tidy. I try not to light candles there if the kitchen is not clean, out of honor for my Disir.

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I’ve made some pretty serious updates and changes to my main altar space lately. It was getting extremely cluttered, and I wanted it to have a different feeling than it had previously. You can see my first and second altar updates at those links, respectively.

This is what it looks like now (apologies for the yellow tone – the room my altar is in is actually painted yellow, and taking pictures in there at night makes the whole place feel like it’s lit by firelight. This is quite cool! But makes for very yellow pictures!)

altar4-13a

That’s the entire altar area. I moved a lot of the meaningful but not functional items up to the shelf above the altar. Eventually I’d like to add some God/dess statues there instead of just the little owls and the green man and the acorn, but for now it works. It also got the taller candles up out of the way, and leaves my actual working space looking like this:altar4-13b

The new things on the altar are as follows:

  • A new World Tree – this one is made of a recycled oil drum, through a craft group in Haiti. It’s something I’ve gone back and forth on, but ultimately decided I liked it. Plus, since it’s wall mounted, it doesn’t take up any extra space on the actual working surface.
  • A new offering bowl – I was using a collection of small bowls, and that was just too much of a pain to work with. I bought this wooden bowl and have been much happier with it.
  • A new goblet – I still have some small bowls and a tiny pitcher for offerings, but most of the time I’m offering drink (lately mead) and so I’m pouring it out of my own cup. This was rather unimpressive when I ended up using a regular drinking glass, so I purchased this aluminum goblet. It works VERY nicely. Eventually I’d like a handmade ceramic one, but this is a good in-between.
  • A new incense burner – one that does specifically well with the type of incense I usually burn. (that’s the little silver disc on the right). I’ve been burning loose incense for actual rituals, in the little blue cauldron burner, but I burn stick incense as offerings during the week. (You can see two unburned sticks in the top picture)
  • A set of tingshas (only visible in the top picture) – I couldn’t find a bell I liked, and wanted some sort of musical signal to start my rituals. These tingshas were inexpensive and make a very bright clear sound. I’m quite happy with them (if not yet always good at striking them properly).

Overall, I think these changes have increased both the visual appeal of my altar space (it’s less cluttered) and the overall functionality of it. I still have the things that are meaningful to me, but I have a more clear working space and better flow for doing ritual.

I know an altar space is always a work in progress. I’d love to get some little Norse statues, especially of the type similar to god-posts or figurines found from the Viking age. I’d also like to get some more symbols for Freyr. I know as time goes on, this little altar will evolve, and other altars are already starting to spring up in my house. I’ve got my “hearth”, which is really just a collection of candles on my stove right now, but it serves as a place for me to keep my hearth-fire lit. And I’d like to add some sort of Ancestor altar somewhere – though finding a good, cat-proof spot for it may be challenging.

I like the process of evolving it though. A good altar is a place where Work happens, and is a functional as well as a beautiful space. I think mine is getting there!

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I didn’t write this – Rev. Michael Dangler did. You can read the rest of his post here, and I highly suggest you do go read it. It says a lot toward what we expect of our Priests in times of grief, and what we can expect of each other.

A Prayer for Boston
Rev. Michael J Dangler

Artio, a Child of the Earth calls out to you.
Today, there has been pain and suffering,
And it weighs on my heart and soul.

I call out to you, Healing One,
Protector of your folk.
Be there for those who are in need,
And comfort those who seek it.

Wrap those in pain in your healing arms.
Bring them warmth if they are cold,
And soothe their fears.
Let those hurting never be alone.

Artio, Bear-Lady, I call to you:
Be there for those in need.

Monday night, I sat with others I “know” online, and we all approached our altars and lit incense and prayed together. What we do between the Worlds, and what we do in the Otherworld, affects the outcomes in this World, even when it is only in a small way. These prayers bring us comfort and reorientation in a time where we are overcome by information about which we can do nothing.

Our ancestors did not have 24 hour news channels and endlessly repeating video clips. But they knew how to pray, because so much of their lives was out of their direct control. And we can take a cue from them – the knowledge that sometimes all you can do in a situation is come together, support each other, and pray. We are Children of the Earth, and from Her, and from the Kindreds, we can take some measure of comfort.

May we all find the peace and healing we need at the hands of the Kindreds, especially those most closely affected in Boston.

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shrine2-13

Just a quick update to my altar – I’ve added a new offering pitcher (the little blue one) and a new offering bowl (the ceramic one with blue glaze). These both came out of my husband’s grandmother’s house, as we were helping to clean up her things. She passed away a few years ago, so I’m happy to have some things that represent ancestors on my altar now. I haven’t figured out quite what I’ll be using them for yet. I think the offering bowl will be one for dry offerings only, since it’s not glazed inside. The little pitcher would be great for oils though, and now that I have some charcoal discs, I may be able to give oil offerings to the fire for the high day!

I do move things around when I’m actually using the altar though, and I think it’s more than time I got a little shelf to keep some of this off my working surface. I don’t even have any statues yet, but things feel pretty cluttered. It’s a little hard to move around, and I’m always afraid I’m going to end up with my arm in the fire (again).  My Tree is incredibly tall though (almost 3 feet) so I may need to shrink it a bit in order to put a shelf above the altar. Either that, or get myself two small shelves to put on either side of the Tree.

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I’ve been working on the Ancestors essay for the DP, and finding that it’s a little hard for me to work with. I really like the division of Ancestors into different types of kin – from those whom you are actually related to by blood to those you have a spiritual connection to the ancient ones who worshiped in your chosen hearth culture. Even though I’ve had favorable interactions with them in the past, I’m still not sure exactly how I want to bring the Ancestors into my spiritual practice.

Part of this hesitation is that my blood-kin are extremely devout Protestant Christians (like the rest of my family), who would have looked very unfavorably on Druidry in life. I know I should expect that they have a different viewpoint on spiritual things from wherever they are in the afterlife, but I really don’t want to make anyone angry or upset.

At the same time, my great grandmother raised 11 kids on a farm in the Great Depression, and lived to read Peter Rabbit books with me when I was small. She was, by all accounts, a force of nature, and I’d love to have her advice on homemaking and life in general.

I think my first step will be seeing if I can track down some pictures to have with the other family pictures in my house. I don’t have a lot of experience working with the Mighty Dead, but I could sure use some extra wisdom some days.

My family doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about those who have passed away, at least not at this point in time, but I think a lot of that is because my extended family is still relatively intact. My paternal grandparents are still alive, and that’s the part of my family that has the most connection (my mom’s family consisted entirely of my maternal grandmother, who passed away some years ago, so I have no cousins or aunts and uncles to talk with about her). Both sides of my family have done some research into our family history and lineage, but it’s treated very intellectually as opposed to as a way to find family ancestors. I find myself more drawn to the photographs anyway, since I feel like I can actually get a sense of them as actual people as opposed to just names in a book.

As for the other types of ancestors, I have a few people who were mentors and teachers of mine who have since passed on. I truly value the time I spent learning from them, and am very glad I had their friendship. I don’t really have anything I can connect to them easily, though, aside from stories and experiences that I had while I was learning from them. Unfortunately I have no pictures of any of them, either. I’d like to represent them somehow on my altar, but a) it’s cluttered enough already and b) I’m not sure what I would use, since they represent a pretty diverse body of people.

Connecting to the Ancients who also practiced Druidry is something I haven’t explored at all yet, other than naming them in my Samhain ritual as part of the ancestors who were welcomed and honored at that feast. This might be an area where some focused meditation could work out well, or just working to remember them in my rituals.

This particular Kindred seems to include such a wide variety of people and entities. I think that may be why I’m struggling to get my mind around how to honor all of them. I can, of course, lump them together (as will usually happen in a High Day ritual, when one offering will be poured out for the Ancestors specifically), but I think I’d like to make a space for some of them separately as well. If nothing else, I can, when pouring out offerings to the Ancestors, pour out a little to each kind of Ancestor and remember them by type, if not by name. I’d also like to explore how the Norse remembered THEIR Ancestors, since I know they were venerated in that culture. Hopefully with a little more study I can find a balance of things that resonates with me.

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