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Even though I did the Liturgy Practicum 1 journal requirement back in 2014 (for the IP), I never turned it in, and I’ve decided to re-do the process over the next four months. As well, I will be combining it with my Trance 1 journal requirement (five months). Like I did for my Dedicant Path, this journaling will happen on Mondays, so that I can keep track of it.

Trance 1 – Question 9: Keep a journal for five months detailing the trance work that you have done. Write an essay based off those journals that examines your practice over the time you journaled. In this essay, explain how you can apply the trance work to divination, magic, and other workings you do in ritual and personally. Entries occurring less than weekly will not count toward completion of this requirement. Your journal must include work from the exercises found in the support material for this course. (min. 1000 words)

Liturgy Practicum 1 – Requirement #2: Documenting personal ritual practice: 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.

Trance 1 Entry:

First week means none of my supplemental materials for this course have arrived yet – in fact, since I got almost all of them used, I won’t have most of them until the first week of June, since they’re shipping third class media mail. (Also, I really hope the one that came really well recommended was worth the expense – some out of print books are very inexpensive, and others… are not.) That said, looking over the list of acceptable trance practices, breathing is one of the options, and I don’t need any additional material to do that, so I went with that this week. I used the 9 step trance induction technique that Nick Egelhoff introduces in one of his videos in preparation for the Druid Moon Cast practice. It goes as follows:

Progressive Relaxation – the process of progressively relaxing each part of your body to facilitate a light trance state suitable for ritual. Good for a visionary/inhibitory trance state that is good for journeying. This practice involves counting up to nine, with a series of visualizations spent on each number as you progressively relax your body. As you move your thoughts/awareness down through your body, take time to think about and intentionally relax each area on each number. Then when you get to nine, hold your whole body in awareness.

  1. Relax your head (face muscles, skull, scalp) – while thinking “one” on each exhale
  2. Relax your neck, shoulders, and back – down your spine into the small of your back, while thinking “two” on each exhale
  3. Relax your arms (both arms) from fingertips to shoulders – while thinking “three” on each exhale
  4. Relax your chest (upper chest/torso) – while thinking “four” on each exhale
  5. Relax your stomach and abdomen – while thinking “five” on each exhale
  6. Relax your hips and buttocks – while thinking “six” on each exhale
  7. Relax your legs (thighs, knees, calves) – while thinking “seven” on each exhale
  8. Relax your feet – while thinking “eight” on each exhale
  9. Relax your whole body – while thinking “nine” on each exhale

To come OUT of this trance state, slowly count down from nine to one, breathing deeply, wiggling your fingers and toes. By the time you reach one, you should be fully aware and awake, with eyes open.

Most of the exercises in the Trance course seem to require at least 15 minutes of practice, but I’m still rebuilding my meditation muscles to be able to focus for that long. For this week’s exercise, which was a pure exercise in maintaining a trance state just to “see what happens”, I set a meditation timer for 15 minutes, lay on the floor (which is the most reliable way for me to get into a trance state), and settled myself into my mental grove, and just waited to see what happened. As usual for mental grove work for me (which is preparatory for journeying, but doesn’t actually involve a journey) various animals came in and out of my mental grove – this time it was mostly a rabbit, poking about under the giant arms of the oak tree in the grove.

The 15 minutes passed surprisingly quickly, but it wasn’t a particularly deep trance. I like this practice for starting to journey, and it’s one I’ve used in the past with good effect. I will be trying other exercises, of course, as part of this journaling experiment, but until I have the resources, this one seems to work well.

As with meditation, I get the best result from lying down, but I can manage if I need to be sitting up. Other things I’d like to try are drumming and other auditory trance cues, as I tend to respond well to sounds. I have an old iPhone that has the Drum Journey app on it that I can use, but I’ve also purchased a CD with a 60 minute drum track for this purpose (again, not here yet).

Liturgy Practicum 1 Entry:

This is a bit odd, as I’ve already essentially done this course, but doing it again won’t hurt anything. For my first week, I did my daily devotional practice (which happens on weekdays) every day. It goes as follows:

(Three breaths to center self)
(Light lamp)

Hail to you, Eorþan Modor – may I always be supported as I walk in your ways. (Touch earth)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The flame lights the way! (Bless lamp)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The well flows within! (Bless well)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The tree spans the world! (Bless tree)

Let us pray with a good fire! (Light incense)

Hail to you, Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn. Hold fast these gates that I may speak into the worlds. (Open gates with hands)

I make offering to the gods.
May their power be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the ancestors.
May their wisdom be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

I make offering to the nature spirits.
May their blessing be with me this day. (Cense altar shelf)

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.

Mighty, Noble, and Shining Ones, thank you for your blessings and your presence.
Eostre, Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, thank you for keeping fast the ways. (Close gates with hands)
Eorþan Modor, mother of all – thank you for upholding me always. (Touch earth)

(Three breaths to center self)
(Extinguish lamp)

I’ve recently added the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper to this practice in preparation for the Clergy Student Discipline requirements, which (among other things) are about working with those two beings in preparation for ADF priesthood. As such, I thought it would be appropriate to honor them in my daily rituals.

I’m still working the kinks out of a weekend ritual to do each week, and I have a ritual script that I’ve used for awhile for monthly retreat weekends, but I’m not super happy with either just yet, so I’ll be working on those as this course progresses. I’d also like to add in an evening devotional that I can do as I get into bed at night.

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Six months ago I made a promise to the internet. In light of having received a pirated copy of a book (that I literally could not get any other way) I promised to purchase two copies of the next edition if/when it came out.

Well, the second edition of Visions of Vanaheim is available for sale, and I have purchased two copies. (One for myself, and one I gave to Yngvi.)

On first read through, I think I connected more with the first edition, but I am still very excited to have the second edition, and am very glad that Lokason has decided to share his experience with the Vanir with us again. I wish him lots of success with this book!

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I got a new book this weekend. Or rather, I should say, one of my study group mates found someone who had a PDF of a book I’ve been looking for since I started down the path of working with Ing Frea, and that person was willing to share copies of the PDF with us.

This… bothers me a bit.

The book is Visions of Vanaheim, by Svartesol. It is out of print, was only in print for a very short time, and is nearly impossible to find. Yngvi and I have both worked at a used bookstore, and he’s been looking for it consistently for several years. I check all the usual hotspots for rare books online regularly, and have never seen a copy. (Not that I couldn’t afford it, I have literally never even SEEN it.)

Ethically, I am against pirating books. I think people who write books should be paid for their time and effort, because I like reading books, and I want people who write good books to write more good books for me to read.  So far, Visions of Vanaheim has been a treasure trove of information – good, well marked, sourced info from archaeological and literary sources, mixed with well marked UPG that I’ve found pretty enlightening. It’s matched up with some of my personal UPG, which is nifty (it’s fun to have someone else say “Hey, I have that same UPG!”) I haven’t gotten to the sections on Frey/Ing Frea yet, but I am eagerly reading towards them.

(This book alone has made me want to work more with the Vanir/Wans specifically as part of my practice, which is fun and exciting. To my knowledge, the Anglo-Saxons didn’t make a really clear distinction between Wans and Ases, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work with the Wanic group more in my own practice. Or at least, know more about them alongside their more popular Aseic counterparts. My attraction to the Vanir/Wans alone will probably keep me from ever being fully in the Anglo-Saxon camp, because there’s so much more information from other Norse/Scandinavian/Germanic sources.)

So this is me making a promise.

If Svartesol comes out with a second edition of Visions of Vanaheim (which is rumored that he will), I will purchase TWO copies of that book in print, if I can get them. (One for the new edition, and one to pay him for the first edition that I didn’t have to pay for.) If I could pay him for my current copy of his book, I would. But since I can’t, I am putting it out there that if he ever gives me the chance, I’ll pay for it.

 

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Druids have book problems. My reading list for the Initiate’s Path is not anywhere near fully collected, and it’s already stacked up all over my desk (and the floor…) Books, books, more books. Two translations of the Poetic Edda, just to see what the translation differences are. Plus an extra book of Norse Myth retellings so I can read them as modern-language stories. A few study books on particular aspects of Germanic paganism. Add to that books about meditation, trance, magic working, running Neopagan rites, historical paganism and archaeology, language textbooks, and that’s only what I can remember offhand. Granted, I can get some of them from the library, but I am a writer-in-books.

I know, this makes some people batty, and I don’t highlight with horrible colored markers, but I like to highlight with colored pencils, and make notes with regular pencil, especially if something is particularly academic and dense. This means I make very good use of my local used bookstore. (Where my friend Yngvi works. I used to work there as well, actually).

Add to that reading beginning books on other hearth cultures to help my study group, plus reading for pleasure, and I go through a lot of books.

Some of those books (especially fiction books) I tend to stick with my Nook reader, because it’s very portable, and if I need to make notes I can, but for academic reading, even with a note-taking-capability, I tend to prefer dead-tree-books. Also it’s hard to get the kind of academic books I need for ADF as dead-tree-books.

Suffice it to say, though, that I love books. I love reading them, studying them, collecting them. My house is full of them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I submitted my Initiates Path Intention Letter a few weeks ago, and it has passed from “discussion” into “voting” at this point. I’m trying to take this waiting in stride (though it was hard to have my DP go through review again, this time to see if my work was deemed adequate for the greater work of the Initiate’s Path).  There is a chance I could be denied entry into the program, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Over the last few weeks I’ve done a lot of thinking about what kinds of things I want to get out of the IP going forward, about what my expectations are going in. It’s hard, since I have to define my own level of service to the ADF community, but I think I’d like to be part of the web-presence of ADF (since I’m primarily solitary) and possibly work as a mentor for Dedicants as well.

I have also done a lot of book buying, purchasing Anglo-Saxon texts and reference material, with the goal of completing my Indo-European Language course before I start any of the other courses. There isn’t currently an ADF approved list for using Anglo-Saxon for the IP, but since it’s an accepted ADF Hearth Culture, I guess I’m going to forge new ground in that regard.

As well, my good pagan friend here (who is of the Vanatru persuasion, which would probably be where I’d end up without ADF) has joined up with ADF and will be starting on his Dedicant Path work, which is exciting.  We’ll be able to support each other as we go through these classes and challenges.

If I’m quite frank, the Trance I and Trance II requirements of the IP are quite terrifying for me. Meditation I can do, but trance work has always been beyond me. I know part of the process is learning to do it, and learning different methods and what works for you for achieving trance states. As practice for that requirement, I’ve re-upped my Mental Grove practice, and am beginning to build around that hallows towards the outer edges of the low-hanging tree branches, placing doors and arches and entryways into a mist-filled beyond that space.

IE Language will be hopefully fun (I love languages) and allow me to start using Anglo-Saxon phrases in my rituals, a goal I’ve had for awhile. I’m also going to use the Wheel of the Year format followed by Cranberry Protogrove, since it works well, and will honor the biggest patron of my path (Ing Frea) as part of the high days in Autumn. I like the balance it provides, and intend to use this next year’s ritual observances to really get to know these new aspects of the Gods. (I am especially interested in getting to know Frige – she strikes me as a fairly differently aspected Goddess as either Freyja or Frigg, and I’d like to work with her and see if she has guidance for me in the part of my life where I’m responsible for a home).

What purpose this blog will serve in my further studies I don’t yet know. I’ll be posting my Initiates Intention Letter for sure, but I don’t know if I’ll post all of my coursework – but perhaps just reflections on it as I’m progressing. I don’t expect to move through the IP particularly quickly, as it’s much more in-depth and requires a lot more reading and study than did the DP. Plus there’s a good bit more work that I don’t know I’ll be okay talking about until it’s been well past (namely the Magic 1 and Magic 2 work). Some of the classes are extremely scholarly, and I’m already collecting those books as I can find them at my local used bookstore. My “to read” pile is growing at an astounding rate.

It feels good, again, to be (hopefully) starting on this new journey around Samhain – regardless of how long it takes me, I think I will want to finish my studies (and hopefully be accepted as an Initiation candidate) in the fall. It always feels like a time of beginnings and endings to me.

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I’ve not been so good about two parts of my practice recently – both blogging and my meditation time have suffered as my commitments in life have ramped up. Those two things are related, since they both represent time I spend in thought and contemplation about my path (or just about my breath), and I’ve not been doing a lot of that recently. Quite frankly, I think it’s time to swing back that direction. My meditation practice is directly tied in with my daily offerings, so you can imagine that those have been less as well, and frequently have been getting skipped.

I’m not sure exactly where the balance is, but I know right now I’m not on it. I have some health issues going on that are taking up more time than usual, and that means rebalancing my time to make sure I’m making time to do the things I need to do. I’ve also had some personal issues getting in the way of my devotional practice. They’re intensely personal, so I’m not sure I will talk about them much here, but suffice to say it’s been very difficult to maintain a devotional practice with regards to Ingvi Frey lately. I am hoping to get some guidance on that front, but it’s been challenging. I’m hoping that with a bit of guidance I can find a way to do those devotions in a way that is also protective of and safe for me mentally.

My ancestor devotions are about where they were – I’m definitely going through a lot more candles in the kitchen on my hearth lately!

As well, the two books I ordered on Anglo-Saxon paganism have come in, so I am anxious to get started reading them. I think it’ll be good to read something more scholarly after having immersed myself in fiction with the Iron Druid Chronicles. Those were fun – and spiritually interesting – but as with all things, balance is good.

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I finished reading Alaric Albertsson’s Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan last night, and I have to say, I am highly intrigued. This is an easy read, and a charming book, with solid information about the Anglo Saxon path (with common sense advice mixed in) as well as how to take that information and turn it into a modern practice. Albertsson is a member of ADF, so I shouldn’t be surprised to find the ritual structure is familiar, but the book just felt *right* while I was reading it.

This is, of course, especially interesting considering that while I do not have any (known) Norse direct ancestors (I have Germanic ones by marriage), I have ancestors in Britain – and with the usual speculation of how hard it is to date things back that far – to pre-Norman Britain. Granted those might have been Christian ancestors, I have no idea and no real way to tell – I didn’t do the research myself, but it’s likely that their names and records came from church record keeping, so it’s certainly likely.

Still, I felt a real connection to what I was reading. It’s very close to what I’ve already been working with in the Norse hearth (and I don’t know that I’d abandon that entirely), but I may add some Anglo-Saxon flavor into my ADF workings and see what happens. With Midsummer approaching, I’ve plenty of time to work in a ritual that would make sense.

On the other hand, I don’t know how hard a polytheist I am about it – the Gods of the Anglo-Saxons are certainly familiar to someone who has studied the Norse hearth. Do I think Woden and Odin, or Thunor and Thor, or Ing and Freyr, or Freyja and Freo are the same gods or different gods? They have both similarities and differences. The lack of knowledge about the Anglo Saxon culture also seems to lead to a good bit of borrowing from the Germanic myths, just so that there’s enough information to fill out a practice. In that light, I’ve ordered a copy of Brian Branston’s Lost Gods of England to see if I can fill out my knowledge a bit. It’s another approved ADF DP book, so its probably not a waste of time to read. Since it’s out of print, it’ll be a bit before it gets here (the best price for best quality book I could find is being sold by a bookseller in London, so it’s got a trip to make!).

In the meantime I think I’m going to read Albertsson’s other book Wyrdworking, and possibly Diana Paxston’s Trance-portation. (Both of which arrived yesterday! Yay books!) I’ve got a lot to learn, and I tend to read a lot in the summer – it’s quite hot, and I enjoy sitting in the sun with a book and a cool, tasty drink in the afternoons. Bonus points if I drive down to the beach to do it.

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