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Posts Tagged ‘change’

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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Today is Earth Day – a holiday I have serious mixed feelings about.

On one hand, hooray Earth Day! Let’s all be responsible to the planet! Let’s recycle! Go Druidry! Go Earth Mother! Yay!

On the other? Is this kind of popular activism actually changing anything? Somehow I don’t think so.

Earth Day really strikes me as a big fat cop out a lot of the time. Like Earth Hour (where you use no electricity for one hour on one evening in March), it’s a day where people can pretend to do things that are good for the Earth and feel good about themselves, and then go right back to doing whatever they were doing before. It’s about the warm fuzzy feelings, and not about meaningful change.

For example, today in celebration of Earth Day my office “environmental team” is handing out “Earth-colored” cupcakes and cookies. That’s how we’re celebrating. Who knows what kind of dyes are in the coloring for the cookies and cupcakes, or where they were purchased, or if they come wrapped in plastic.  It’s Earth Day! Any excuse for baked goods is a good excuse! Oh and there’s a contest for the best Earth Day poster, created by the child of an employee.

Still, the sentiment is a good one, and so I’m torn about it. It’s good to do even little things to help the Earth. But I don’t want to overstate the importance of things like Earth Day in the face of very real activism and the very real changes that need to happen to reduce our impact on the planet.

If we keep going how we’re going, we’re going to quickly run out of planet to take advantage of. We’re already pushing close to (or past) peak oil – the point after which the amount of oil we can get out of the ground can no longer continue to expand, but after which our desires for oil and electricity aren’t going to go down. It’s a scary thought, but one that is bolstered by alternative and nontraditional energy sources (of which I think there won’t be “one star savior”, but it will take a combination of energies and conservation attempts and changes in our lifestyle to make work).

In the face of things like that, or the rash of oil related disasters, or the floating trash “islands” or the constant degradation of our wetlands (like the swamp near which I live), it’s hard to be really positive about Earth Day, because I don’t feel like it provokes meaningful change. It’s a great thing to teach kids, but as adults, it loses some of it’s oomph for being just another social excuse and day of pointless social-media-activism.

Of course, I have no better ideas about how to provoke meaningful change from people who aren’t interested in changing. In fact, I think that exercise is pretty fruitless, so maybe it’s through campaigns like Earth Day that we find little handholds and footholds for bigger environmental projects.

And I’m always drawn back to the words of the great Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax:

UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.

The whole point of the Lorax is individual change, and the impact that one person can have – good or bad – on the world around them. And maybe that’s the whole point of Earth Day – maybe it’s fruitless and silly and superficial, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t personally take it as a challenge to myself as a Child of the Earth.

In short, I want my own Druidry to be a recognition of Unless. I’m going to take up the mantle of Unless, and use today as a reconfirmation of the things that I CAN do to protect the Earth and reduce my footprint, even as a cubicle-working, long-commute-driving, suburb-living Druid.

I CAN compost, and plant trees, and garden organically, and turn lights off, and use LED bulbs, and recycle as much as I can (and try to buy less plastic too). I CAN re-use produce bags and bring my own grocery sacks. I CAN combine errands so that I’m not doing unnecessary driving, and make sure my car is in good working order for my long (70 mile round trip) commute, so that I pollute as little as possible. I CAN work from home when I’m allowed, to save gas. I CAN work on hobbies and crafts that promote reusing things, repurposing things, and valuing the hard work that goes into them. I CAN donate my clothes to goodwill when they no longer fit, instead of throwing them away. I CAN work to value people, time, and experiences over things, money, and stuff. I CAN spend time with my landbase, and support organizations that take care of it and the wildlife who live here.

I can’t change how other people react (or don’t) to Earth Day or Earth Hour or whatever other pop-culture, warm-fuzzy environmentalism that gets tossed around on Facebook but doesn’t create any progress. In the face of the overwhelming mess that we’ve made of the planet, something like Earth Day can seem silly – and maybe it is.

The changes made for one day are only useful if they truly become changes made for every day. A tree planted on Earth Day, but left untended, will die of lack of water in the Texas heat.

I can’t change what Earth Day has become, and I can’t make other people change their habits or live up to the cute graphics they post on social media.

But I can take up the mantle of Unless for myself.

Will you?

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