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Posts Tagged ‘druid’

I am not, very often, a dreamer. I’ve tried all the usual things – notebooks by the bedside, intentions before sleep, mugwort tea, valerian capsules, etc. I’d blame it on the medicine I take for neuropathic pain that keeps me in deep stage sleep longer, but I wasn’t a dreamer growing up either, so it’s not like much has changed. (I had night terrors as a child/teen, but I only very rarely remembered what they were about, only that I woke up terrified.)

But then, every once in a great while, I have a DREAM. In this case, an exceptionally vivid one that – three hours later – is only just now starting to fade.

In this dream, I was working with an artisan to create a rosary to Cerridwen (I think) and Herne.

This is interesting for a few reasons, beyond just the fact that I remembered a dream very vividly.

I haven’t worked with Cerridwen and Herne for several years. They have a space on my altar still, of course, as a tiny cauldron and a wooden acorn, but they aren’t Gods I typically associate with my current practice. Herne is not far off my current Anglo-Saxon practice, being an English God, and being that it is Wild Hunt Season, but it was curious to hear from Cerridwen. (On a night just after the full moon, on the eve of Samhain, so maybe not so curious.)

Their names are the names that I used for the God and Goddess in my days as a Wiccan. (I am not an initiated Witch, and I am Quite Sure these names are not the oathbound names that witches are affiliated with.)

Now. I’m not exactly much of a Wiccan anymore. I occasionally do Witchy magic, but my following the wheel of the year has a distinctly Druid flavor, and I’m pretty entrenched in ADF and the Anglo-Saxon hearth culture.

But my practice has been pretty stagnant recently, and when I consulted people who are skilled at divination, the common answer was “you’re doing too much, you need to take care of your own practice, find your big Why, and turn inward for awhile.” They also said not to be tempted by “spiritual squirrel syndrome” – where anything shiny and new seemed exciting and worth pursuing. (I asked three diviners, and got three VERY similar answers, from three completely different systems of divination. I’m inclined to trust that answer.)

So why, suddenly, are these Gods from my past knocking at my door again?

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Last year I wrote this piece on what it’s like being a Pagan with mental illness.

Just ran across this vlog from Thorn where she tackles it in video form, and I thought it was good, especially the pseudo-victim-blamey “Oh if only you were closer to nature/drank this tea/balanced your chakras you wouldn’t be depressed” bullshit that seems to get tossed around a lot.

Though old, this piece on WitchVox pretty neatly writes out exactly what the stigma is against mental illness in the pagan community – especially among covens and BTW groups. (Specifically this line, quoting from a coven’s guidelines for seekers: “if you cannot function as a fully responsible adult individual in the mundane reality then you cannot function effectively in the magical/mystical realities and should not even attempt to do so until you have all your oars in the water and they are working all in proper tandem” which was pretty much exactly what I was told in the phone call where I split off from the group I was in outer court with.)

Rant pants on: I dunno what qualifies as “fully responsible adult individual”. Would it be better if I went off the medications and stopped doing the therapy that has kept me from having a major mood episode in almost a year? Do I need to show you my credit rating and my pay stubs to prove that I have a good job and pay my bills on time? What exactly is a “fully responsible adult individual” if it’s not someone who takes care of their shit (mental, physical, or otherwise) to the best of their abilities?

Full honesty here – I miss my witchy people. I love ADF, and I love the study I’m doing and the group I lead, but it’s tiring being in charge when I’ve only been doing this 4 years this month. Sure that’s nothing to sneeze at, but I’m only getting the training I do myself, and there’s not a whole lot of mentorship that goes on, especially on the spiritual side. And I know I’m building a good group, and we’re working on having more spiritual and less scholarly experiences, but I’ve still yet to experience anything that quite matches a group of skilled Witches in a circle. Druids rarely seem to be “up to something” quite the same way that Witches tend to get “up to something”.

For some reason, it’s just hard to move on from that. I’ve gone through a period of intense change in the last few months (up to and including getting a new job), which has put my ADF studies on hold, and still I go back to the 18 or so months that I spent in Outer Court and wonder what life would be like without the bipolar label.

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I’ve been sitting with my lack of knowledge a lot lately, inspired in part by conversations with Rev. William Ashton, ADF’s newest ordained priest (and someone I’m coming to call a friend, which is pretty neat). There’s just a lot I don’t know, and as someone who is obsessively academic (especially in school-type situations) this bothers me on a deep level. And yet, philosophically, I know that learning and discovery happen on the interface of what is known and what is unknown.

So I have been encouraged to really allow the discomfort of not knowing things to be present, in the hopes of becoming more comfortable with it. Because there’s just so much out there to know, and knowing what you don’t know is the first step towards learning.

In reality, I’ve been a practicing Druid just shy of two years, a practicing Pagan for close to ten. I have completed only the most rudimentary study program that ADF offers and am only just beginning the real coursework of the Initiate’s Path. The ancient Druids were the intelligentsia of their societies, and I’d like my own modern practice to follow in those footsteps (once I’ve done more of it, obviously), but I am still, essentially, a newbie, and there is a LOT that I don’t know. And yet I’m (co)leading a study group – something I think I’m singularly unqualified to do – and trying my best to steer these potential dedicants (and other assorted studiers of things Druidic) into productive and useful practices, and get them acquainted with as much knowledge as they are interested in pursuing.

And on top of that, just this last week, in a discussion about the priesthood and ADF’s clergy training program, one of my groupmates looked me square in the face and said “So are you planning on doing that?” I stammered out something incoherent, and Yngvi replied for me, “Eventually.” I can’t deny I have a calling to it in some form. I know what it means to be a minister (my grandfather is one), and yet I’ve still toyed with ministry (in various forms) in every spiritual pursuit I’ve ever undertaken, from contemplating Methodist seminary, to considering whether I had a Catholic vocation, to pursuing Wiccan initiation, and now to pursuing initiation and possibly clergy training under ADF’s model. In every spiritual path I’ve been part of, I have seriously considered ministry or priest(ess)hood in some form. (I take this to mean that my calling is to serve the folk, not to serve a particular God or set of gods, but that’s just my own interpretation.) Whether that calling will be satisfied with initiation or not, only time will tell. I just don’t know right now.

For some reason that bothers me. I like control, and planning ahead, and knowing where I’m going. I want cold, hard answers to things that just don’t have cold hard answers. The idea that the path will reveal itself as it is walked just makes me inherently uneasy. But the reality is? Two years ago I wouldn’t have ever guessed I’d be where I am (and neither would anyone else I knew, for that matter), so who knows where I’ll be in two years, let alone five or more. (At this rate, still working on the IP; I really need to get moving.)

Until then, though, I can add in the CTP retreat days to help strengthen my spiritual practice, do the coursework, keep my practice alive, and just see where things end up.

And when someone asks me something I don’t know the answer to? Well, that’s just more time to practice this virtue of not knowing.

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(Missed Friday’s post for the Pagan Blog Project due to life getting in the way. I’ll publish two “D” posts this week to make up!)

So, I’m a member of ADF. Therefore I am a Druid, right?

Except I’m not always so comfortable with the term. It’s got different baggage than “Witch” (Which Ci Cyfarth neatly talks about here, so I’ll let you go read over at Land Sea and Sky), but there’s definitely still some confusion around the term.

An excerpt:

So here in the early 21st century, when we use the word “Druid,” we might mean one or more of the following:

– A historical person from antiquity, who may or may not be well-documented by Classical neighbors, but definitely didn’t leave any useful notebooks laying around, but would have been very well educated and would have had a reasonably well-defined role in their community. (Hint: these don’t exist anymore, and if someone claims to be one, look for a TARDIS.)
– A person who’s part of the Eisteddfod movement, which is non-religious and focused on the arts.
– A person who’s a part of the fraternal Druidry movement, which is non-religious and philanthropic/social.
– A person practicing Revival Druidry, which is the non-sectarian spiritual/philosophical movement that came out of the fusion of lodges, nationalism, culture revival, Unitarian Christianity, enthusiasm about henges, and the poetic stylings of that guy I mentioned earlier with the laudanum. Revival-style orders include OBOD, AODA, BDO, etc.
– A person practicing a religious form of Pagan Druidry, which emerged from the larger Pagan community. Pagan Druid groups include ADF, Henge of Keltria, Order of WhiteOak, etc.
– A person who uses the term “druid” for other reasons, which may range from quite complex to “I just like it better than ‘witch.’”

So anyway, there’s lots of things that a Druid can mean. It can mean something as free-form as New Reformed Druids of North America (Nature is Good), or something as structured as formal high ritual in ADF, or something completely different.

Of course, the term “Witch” is just as fraught with baggage in our language. I came to a sort-of peace with the term when I was actively seeking a Wiccan initiation, and still consider myself a witch (lowercase “w”) when I do certain types of magic.

But since I am still in the treehouse (HA! I’m not in the Broom Closet, I’m in the Treehouse! Get it? Druid? Tree? Har har? I think I finally found a solution to my terminology problem), I don’t talk openly about my druidry to most people. And there’s the added layer of confusion that I work with (primarily) Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian Gods, yet call myself a Druid. There is a word for Druid in Anglo-Saxon, but it wasn’t necessarily a term for someone who practiced the AS religion. More like they knew that Druids existed (at least to my knowledge).

But I am a practicing member of ADF, and leading a decidedly druidic study group, so I guess the word fits me pretty well. As a descriptor for my practice, Druidry fits about as well as anything else, and fits nicely into the Neopagan umbrella as well. So I guess I’ll stick with it.

After all, I do like to hug trees.

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Last night some friends and I (Hi Yngvi!) did a group ritual to celebrate Hallows. It went well, minus one quick trip to the kitchen for a forgotten offering, but it brought to mind some of what I miss about previous ritual groups I’ve worked with, and something I feel I’m missing out on as a solitary Druid.

In the Core Order, you do a lot of work to set up a ritual – warding, honoring, recreating the cosmos and hallows, etc. Then you welcome in the Kindreds… and then it seems like there’s a short working where you make offerings to the deities or spirits of the occasion and then it’s right on to the omen and blessing part of the ritual, take everything down and you’re done. The middle part – the actual working in honor of the high day – is fairly short (or nearly nonexistent) compared to the rest of the work.

In my previous work, there was always setup involved, distributed to members of the group (or done by the leaders, depending on the step), but the main focus of the work was definitely on the High Day working – and it was definitely WORKING. There was decidedly magic involved. Maybe because my previous group was Wiccan, and a Witch Turns The Wheel, but I miss that feeling of purpose, and of magic, in my ADF rituals.

I also miss sitting with my groupmates after the working as we discussed the working and all things magical, winding down the energy and grounding. Last night we did a small ancestor toast, but that was really it, and we were on to dismissing the hallows and taking down the ritual. There are definitely reasons for that – some of which I didn’t know before hand (like we were only doing one round of toasting, so I should name everyone in the first round instead of just starting with the first one and then being like “whoops! now we’re done?”). Plus we were short on time. But it still felt like the “guts” of the ritual weren’t the important focus that they could have been. (This is not a criticism of my friends’ ritual skills – I was co-leading the ritual, so it’s just as much my fault!)

I am finally getting to where I have parts of the COoR that I use consistently (though I just got a new ritual template from another Anglo-Saxon Druid, and I’m totally stealing parts of that for my own use), and there are even parts I can improv offhand without a script, but I haven’t found a good way to feel the “magic” of High Day rituals.

Maybe that’s just a difference in focus – the high days are about honoring and giving gifts and receiving blessings, not about actively, magically turning the wheel of the year. The ADF rituals I’ve done where I’ve had magical workings to do – especially my oath rite – have been much more powerful. High days feel more like a ritual of obligation and less like they spring from a magical need. It feels like a Druid honors, offers, celebrates… but a Witch works.

Perhaps I need to work on combining some of my previous path into my ADF workings, and elaborate on the “work” part of the ADF COoR – it’s definitely got a spot built into the ritual format, but it’s not a required part of the high day. As I work out how to meld the Neopagan Wheel of the Year with the Anglo-Saxon holidays (which actually line up pretty well – no surprise there), I think I may be feeding some more Neopagan magical work into the ADF celebratory rituals. I’m more driven to do rituals that have purpose, and “Yay Ancestors, Have a Beer!” isn’t quite the purpose that I need from my rituals.

As much as I’m a working Druid (and intend to continue to be so), deep down I think I may still be a Witch – and a Witch Turns the Wheel.

Blessed Hallows!

 

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Older man, delivering pizza: Wow, I hope you have someone coming to mow that lawn soon, it needs it.

Me: It was mowed Sunday, and it’ll just have to wait until the weekend.

Pizza Man: Then you’re definitely fertilizing it too much.

Me: We don’t use chemical fertilizer, just a mulching lawn mower.

Pizza Man: Then you should stop watering it.

Me: I don’t water the lawn unless it’s horribly dry, which it hasn’t been. It just likes growing. <reaches for pizza boxes>

Pizza Man: Oh, well, here’s your pizza.

Internal Voice: They say a Druid lives here. Maybe that’s why the yard grows like crazy?

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I conducted my Midsummer ritual on Friday, June 21 as close to noon as I could arrange it, which ended up being about 3pm (the earliest I could get off work). This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the Core Order of Ritual, and was based around Ian Corrigan’s Solitary Blessing Rite, as I didn’t feel as connected to the Solitary Druid Fellowship ritual this high day. I did not honor a named Earth Mother or Gatekeeper, but I specifically honored Freyr as my patron and Sunna as the honored Deity of the rite. I brought incense for the fire and silver for the well, and the rest of the offerings were of a Peach Melomel (fruit mead) brewed not far from where I live in Texas.

I went back to a ritual that I know and love for this high day, because I couldn’t find anything I really liked – poetry or published ritual wise. Nothing was speaking to me, so I opted to work from an established template, albeit a generic ADF one and not a generic Norse one. I felt that the ritual went well – the poetry of the blessing rite is powerful and easy to read, and it flowed well in speech and in tempo of the ritual. I would have liked to do more to specifically honor Sunna, beyond a basic offering, but I didn’t have anything prepared. In hindsight, I should have improvised some praise offerings – I will remember that for my next ritual!

One thing I didn’t do (again) was remember to feed the Two Powers into the opening of the Gates, which I keep saying I need to do. Perhaps I will go back and re-read my previous ritual write ups next time before I start a high day ritual, to remember the things I’m supposed to be learning from this!

After making my offerings I asked “What blessings do you have for me in return for the offerings I have made?” and drew the following runes:

  • 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)
  • Dagaz: Day – Rising sun, New day, Deliverance. This is a rune of a bright future, of good hope and promising things to come. Also, in Dangler’s Very Basics of Runes, he speaks of a sort of divine intervention aspect to this rune, that the blessings it brings are “heaven sent” (53). The idea that light will wash away evil, and gives hope and happiness to all. Daylight clarity as opposed to nighttime uncertainty. A time to plan or embark upon an enterprise. The power of change directed by your own will, transformation. Hope/happiness, the ideal. Breakthrough, awakening, awareness.
  • 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.

We give you abundant blessings to get you through tough times. Things will end, and end well, and a new day will dawn.

I didn’t divide up the blessing questions between the Kindreds, since I was honoring both the three Kindreds and some Honored Deities. I feel like this is a pretty powerfully positive omen, which is encouraging, as a lot of things have been pretty rough going in my life of late.  I really couldn’t ask for a better blessing – strength, flexibility, resourcefulness, the brightness of a new day and new beginnings and a promising future, and the completion of a stable task (or wealth! I’m OK with wealth too!). I hope I get to see these blessings in action between now and Lammas in 6 weeks. It will be a good summer, if so.

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