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Posts Tagged ‘clergy training program’

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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Trance Journal

Still waiting on my books to come in, so I don’t have much new to report this week on techniques. I did, however, get a CD of drumming with a callback. The drumming is 60 minutes long, so what I did for my journey was count back how long I wanted the drum track to play for (in this case 20 minutes), set my mp3 player to the 40 minute mark, and then just let the CD finish out, 20 minutes of drumming and then the call back signal. Since I’m doing this on my computer, I set up my headphones and just sat in my chair, cross legged, and tried to relax and listen to the drumming for the 20 minutes.

It was actually exceptionally ineffective, either because I did it at the end of a work day, or because of the particular drum beat, or something. It was annoying to listen to, and I never settled in. Even trying to listen to the beat variations (the track is several different drums sounding together) didn’t get me anywhere. I had a better trance experience last week just meditating and visualizing my mental grove.

A bit annoyed, as I spent $16 on this CD, but I’ll give it a few more tries before I give up on it. I was really hoping the drumming would be helpful, and it just wasn’t. I actually think I felt more anxious, rather than relaxed or in a trance state, having listened to it.

Liturgy Journal

Did not manage to get my weekend ritual done this week, due to being out of town. I’m a little disappointed. My daily practice was fine all week long, but again got dropped over the weekend in lieu of traveling. (My twin niece and nephew turned one this weekend, so we drove to Waco to help celebrate.) The Druid Moon Cast also got rescheduled this week, which I was a little sad about – the telecast rituals are something I look forward to each month.

My daily practice still feels like it fits my lifestyle pretty well – I’d like to add more prayers throughout the day, such as a morning prayer to Eostre:

Eostre is the first of all to wake;
She tramples over transitory night
the mighty goddess, bringer of the light,
beholding every thing from heaven’s height,
the ever youthful, all reviving Dawn,
to every invocation She comes first.

I’m just not often up at the actual Dawn (Right now I get up around 8:15, to be at work by 9). Perhaps just a wake-up prayer would suit instead.

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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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7. Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)

Fire: The Fire forms one of the gates in ADF’s sacred center. It is the connection to the upperworlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Deities. It is the hearth fire and the essence of change, the spark that creates life (Paradox). Fire burns away impurities and makes things sacred. The sacred fire is the recipient of many of our offerings, which burn into smoke that feeds the deities in the nature of the Vedic sacrifices to and through Agni. Fire was highly important in Indo-European cultures, and many sacred fires are found in the mythology, from Agni (who is fire itself) to the Roman hearth fires and Vestal fires (Dangler).

Well: The Well forms one of the gates in ADF’s sacred center. It is the connection to the underworlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Ancestors, who go “below” and from whom we get wisdom and memory. It is also affiliated with chthonic deities and their underworld realms. Water from the well washes away impurities and makes things sacred. The well is represented in the mythology by the three wells that feed the World Tree Yggdrasil, from which Odin gains wisdom and the Norns get the mud that repairs the world tree’s roots. It is also similar to the watery otherworld that the Irish see as the home of the Ancestors. (Paradox)

Tree: The Tree holds fast the ways between the worlds. It stands at the center and connects all the worlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Nature Spirits, who live in and among its branches. The tree spans the worlds, from the watery depths of the well to the fiery heights of the sky. It is particularly well represented by Yggdrasil, the great World Tree, whose inhabitants include the dragon (Nidhogg), the squirrel (Ratatosk), the unnamed eagle, and the four stags (Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór) (Paradox). The Irish also have an ancient sacred tree, the Bile, found growing over a holy well or fort (MacCulloch).

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5.    Discuss the Earth Mother and her significance in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The Earth Mother is probably the most obviously Neopagan part of the ADF liturgy, but She is an extremely significant part of Druidic culture and worship. While there are people who see Her as a thought-form, a goddess, an ecological organism, a local body of water, and an archetype (or some combination of the above) (Newburg), She typically takes the first and last offerings in ADF’s liturgy and is given the respect of the eternal All Mother from whom we all emerge and to whom we all return. This is not to say that there is no historical present for an Earth Mother figure (and, in fact, Tacitus calls Nerthus the Earth Mother to the Germans, and Gaia can serve in the role of Earth Mother to the Greeks), but that her role and primacy in ADF ritual is more reminiscent of modern than ancient worship. This element of our rituals helps ground the ecological and naturalistic currents in ADF’s population, and the presence of the Earth Mother places ADF squarely among the other Neopagan traditions with Earth/Environmentalism as the center of their worship, though ADF also worships more historically based god/esses (Newburg) and often participates in more historically flavored (if not actually derived) practices.

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A year ago I applied for and was accepted into the Initiate’s Program as my next step upon finishing the DP. I set out to do the IP work as a placeholder and a way to continue my studies and start to suss out whether I really did have a vocation to doing the Clergy Training Program. (I have questioned whether I have a vocation to clergy in every religion I’ve been part of, from mainstream Protestantism, to questioning if I would have a Catholic vocation, to seeking initiation in a Wiccan tradition.) I was solitary when I finished my DP, and initiation seemed the most logical step. To those ends, I completed (or partially completed) a portion of the study work in that time (Namely Divination I (posted here), Liturgy I (partially posted here) and Liturgy Practicum 1 (partially posted here)).

Over the last year, however, a lot has changed. I took up leadership of a study group, mentoring DP students and acting as a spiritual leader – writing rituals, providing divination and basic spiritual guidance, and acting as a guide and mentor. I also began participating with the local protogrove when I can (my job makes rituals on work nights nearly impossible in a city as large as Houston). They’ve been supportive of our study group, and it’s been an interesting experience to see how a more Neopagan protogrove operates (versus our more devotional polytheist leaning study group).

As well, I’ve struck up a friendship with Rev. William Ashton, who has been mentoring me in my steps toward leadership. This leadership, as well as the work with the local protogrove and my conversations with Rev. William, has dramatically reduced my fears over being a public pagan face in my area, and the spiritual leadership has done nothing but cement that I have a vocation to service on a clergy level.

In short, I am not sure the Initiate’s Path is where I need to be anymore – I think I need to be working towards becoming a part of ADF’s clergy.

As such, I have enrolled in the CTP-Preliminary coursework (6 courses, followed by an intention letter). I expect it will take me about 6 months to complete this work – or at least, that’s my goal. My Liturgy 1 work already counts toward the completion of CTP-Prelim, though it is being re-reviewed currently, since Clergy students have different expectations than Initiate students, and must be reviewed by a Clergy reviewer.

As such, I won’t be posting any more of my Liturgy 1 work until I have received word that it is up to snuff. My Divination I course will need to be re-reviewed as well, if I am accepted into the first circle of clergy training (henceforth CTP1). I was counseled to finish working on Liturgy Practicum 1 for now, simply so that it wasn’t a waste of 3 months of journaling, but to revisit the journal after I’ve finished the preliminary coursework for clergy training and decide (possibly with the help of my reviewer) if I need to re-do things.

Fortunately I do not have to abandon the Initiate’s Path – the courses that cross over will still cross over, and if I should seek initiation in the future, that path is still open to me.

I won’t lie and say that making this decision was easy. Well, that’s not exactly true – it was easy enough to sign up in the study program tracker, and easy enough to talk to the Preceptor about transferring my work over. But I’m more than a little intimidated by this step, both for the amount of work involved and the amount of scrutiny that I will be subjected to. Still, I’m fairly certain this is what I need to be doing, and the path I need to walk.

I’m going to leave this post tagged with both the Initiate’s Path and the Clergy Training Program. I’m leaving my coursework tagged on the page at the top of the site, and will be starting a second page for my CTP work. At this time I’ve completed Cosmology 1 as my next course to submit, and I’m working on IE Studies. (IE Myth is the course that intimidates me the most right now.)

I’ll continue to post my progress here though, as well as things I’m learning and struggling with. After all, journaling is a big part of this program, and while I can’t share everything publicly, I’ve come to appreciate comments and links that I get through this blog.

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