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Posts Tagged ‘essays’

I received notice yesterday that my IP Enrollment application has passed through the voting stage, and is approved! I’m very excited to start this new process in my Druidry. It’ll be a big step up from what I’ve done, both in intensity and study, but I’m oddly looking forward to the challenge (for the most part).

I’ll actually be doing an online ritual with my IP reviewer (Nick Egelhoff) this weekend, so that’s a fun way to get to know him for the first time. If anyone is interested, the Norse Kin is doing an ADF Druid Moon ritual on Saturday evening at 7 EST (6 central) on the ADF Google+ page, via the hangout system. Our trial run looks like it has a lot of possibility, and it’ll be set up so that people can hang out and chat with us after the ritual, and can participate at home as we do the work. It’ll be a ritual honoring Freyr, in his role as Frith-maker, to bring together the online community and build our presence online. (For those unable to come, it will be available on the ADF YouTube page afterward as well.) I don’t have a very big part, mostly because I got out-volunteered (and because I’m a new face to all the people involved), but I’m excited to be part of this, and hope to take a bigger part in future rituals.

I think my first course in the IP is going to be IE Language – for which I’m told I don’t need pre-approval on my book choices, so I can freely use the Anglo-Saxon textbooks that I picked up to complete the course. I’m excited, since I’ve wanted to learn Anglo-Saxon for awhile (years actually) and this will finally get me some experience with the language AND some ritual phrases I can use on a regular basis, I hope. I’ve always been fascinated with the language, since some parts of it sound so much like English and some parts are so clearly lost to the modern ear. I’m going to have to step up my reading time in order to make solid progress on this path, but that’s just a matter of scheduling, not of desire.

The Trance 1 and 2 classes still intimidate me, since I find trance to be so difficult. I’m hoping that following the process will lead me to a place where I know what works and what doesn’t work for me, trance-wise, but I also hesitate, knowing that I have some non-neurotypical issues (and medications) that can sometimes get in the way. I definitely meditate better without meds, but I’m not willing to trade off my quality of life for one skill. Where there’s a will, there’s a way though, and it may just take me trying a lot of different things until I get to a place of comfort working in Trance. My renewed practice of my mental grove has gone well, and I’m starting to add in the concept of the mists surrounding the area where I am sitting, to help me begin the process of journeying. My energy work in ritual has been good and solid, even in groups, so I’ve obviously gotten past whatever weird issues I was having two or three years ago (though I think I figured out what was causing that, and it wasn’t ritual energy).

Magic 1 and 2 should also be interesting, especially with my renewed interest in bringing more magic into my ADF rituals. Working in ADF’s format for magic will be new for me, but I think it will be a good exercise, and help me develop my own flavor of magical practice. I got started by doing some more serious ancestor work with my solitary Hallows ritual, and that felt much better – taking time, making individual offerings and having conversations with my specific ancestors.

There are four courses that require substantial journaling requirements for completion – Magic 2, Trance 2, Liturgy Practicum, and Divination 2. Sustained journaling will be something I likely upkeep on this blog, since having a weekly check in really helps keep me focused, but I haven’t decided which of these I’ll be tackling first. I’m inclined to say Divination, since I really want to be more proficient with Runes (more on that in a later post). I have considered doing some of my journaling by hand this time as well, but I know that’s harder for me to stick with (both because I tend to put off doing it and because I can’t jot off a quick post about what I thought while I’m at work).

I’ll probably end up having to set aside specific times during the week to work on this, though with the holidays coming up, that may be hard. Still, it’s the dark time of the year, and I’m always more into reading and study when the evenings are dark and cozy and I can curl up with a mug of tea and a notebook.  I’m not giving myself a time-bound goal of when I need to be done with the IP though. With so many long-term requirements that I am probably going to have to tackle one at a time (due to my schedule), I know it will take me at least 20 months just to get through those, and that doesn’t include the reading and studying requirements! I’m glad to have the support of the ADF Study groups to help keep me motivated though, and hopefully some readers here on the blog will help keep me on track if I get too bogged down.

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A short evaluation of where I am on the Dedicant Path after somewhere around 7 months of work. These are the actual DP requirements, followed by a little bit about where I am towards completing them.

Written discussions of the Dedicant’s understanding of each of the following nine virtues: wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation and fertility. The Dedicant may also include other virtues, if desired, and compare them to these nine. (125 words min. each)

These are complete, as of yesterday’s posting of the Fertility essay. Some will need some editing, but I think I’d rather run a little long and have good, real life examples than cut out the meat of the essay just to make it fit the word count.

Short essays on each of the eight ADF High Days including a discussion of the meaning of each feast. (125 words min. each)

Completed: Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Eostara, Beltane, Midsummer. All I have left are the last two (Lammas/Lughnassadh and Fall Equinox/Mabon). These are fairly standard, since I’ve been pagan for awhile, so they don’t take too long. Making sure I include some hearth-culture information is important, but I’ve changed hearths a few times so they’re a bit eclectic.

Short book reviews on at least: 1 Indo-European studies title, 1 preferred ethnic study title and 1 modern Paganism title. These titles can be selected from the recommended reading list in the Dedicant Program manual or the ADF web site, or chosen by the student, with prior approval of the Preceptor. (325 word min. each)

Complete. Book reviews include Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Comparative Mythology, and Drawing Down the Moon. I may complete some other book reviews (particularly of Anglo-Saxon specific books) but those will be more for myself and/or for Oak Leaves.

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

Completed and posted here. Pictures attained of my altar as it was first set up, as it was in progress, and as it exists now (which is likely how it will exist for awhile). I have plans to add some actual God statues or symbols, but that will have to wait on budget and finding ones I like.

An essay focusing on the Dedicants understanding of the meaning of the “Two Powers” meditation or other form of ‘grounding and centering’, as used in meditation and ritual. This account should include impressions and insights that the Dedicant gained from practical experience. (300 word min)

Completed and posted here.

An essay or journal covering the Dedicant’s personal experience of building mental discipline, through the use of meditation, trance, or other systematic techniques on a regular basis. The experiences in the essay or journal should cover at least a five months period. (800 words min.)

Completed and posted here.

An account of the Dedicant’s efforts to work with nature, honor the Earth, and understand the impacts and effects of the Dedicant’s lifestyle choices on the environment and/or the local ecosystem and how she or he could make a difference to the environment on a local level. (500 word min)

Not completed, but I have notes started for this, plus several preparatory posts that I’ve put up here about my landbase and how I interact with it. This will probably be my next “big” essay that I tackle.

A brief account of each High Day ritual attended or performed by the Dedicant in a twelve month period. High Days attended/performed might be celebrated with a local grove, privately, or with another Neopagan group. At least 4 of the rituals attended/performed during the training period must be ADF-style. (100 words min. each)

Completed: Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Eostara, Beltane/Maitag, Midsummer. Next will be Lammas/Lughnassadh and the Fall Equinox. I don’t expect these will be troublesome, as I write them up immediately following my rituals. I am shooting to have all 8 rituals be ADF COoR style, though they represent a few different hearth cultures.

ONE essay describing the Dedicants understanding of and relationship to EACH of the Three Kindreds: the Spirits of Nature, the Ancestors and the Gods. (300 words min. for each Kindred and 1000 words total)

I’ve posted several preparatory essays for this, but have not yet started on formulating the final essay. I’m a little intimidated by this requirement, since I don’t always feel like my attachments to the kindreds are “deep enough” or “good enough” yet to write this essay, but I know that I’m expected only to be DEVELOPING that relationship, not to have everything worked out. It’s only a year long program after all. I’ll probably attack this one after I do my Nature Awareness essay. I have some notes prepared for this as well.

A brief account of the efforts of the Dedicant to develop and explore a personal (or Grove-centered) spiritual practice, drawn from a specific culture or combination of cultures. (600 words min.)

Another requirement that feels HUGE to get started on. I’m not sure how I want to write about this, but since it’s an experiential essay, I imagine there’s not a lot that I can do wrong. Will need to make sure I document my travels through a few hearth cultures as I figured out where I belong (at least where I think I belong at the moment). Also, I need to talk about my experience as a solitary by choice, since that is figuring large in my practice, and in how I am searching for a long-distance Druid community as well. My notes on what does and doesn’t work for me in ritual will probably come in handy here.

The text of the Dedicant’s Oath Rite and a self-evaluation of the Dedicant’s performance of the rite. (500 word min.)

This is the one I have no idea how to approach. I’m wary of oath-making in general, so it will definitely be the last requirement I complete, because I want to make sure I have everything else feeling solid and finished. I’m going to be very careful about how I approach this, and honestly will be asking for advice on how to write an oath that I can feel comfortable with. If there was anything that would prohibit me from completing the DP, it would be this requirement – not too long ago I was getting prepared to take an oath to a different tradition, and that turned out poorly (before any oaths were made, fortunately). I don’t want the same thing to happen again, so I think I will continue to be hesitant about doing this. Still, the longer I practice this, the more comfortable it is (which is to be expected).

I never did a formal “first oath” when I started the DP – I just promised myself that I would finish it, and I think I can see the end in sight at this point. I’m well over half way done, and well ahead of the Wheel of the Year book in several regards. Now it’s just time to knock out some of the bigger essays that really show progress and how far I’ve come in the months that I’ve been on this journey.

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So this week’s assignment in the Wheel of the Year book has you revisiting a lot of the whys and wherefors of the Dedicant Path, with questions about why you got started and how you think you’re doing.

It’s gotten me thinking, since a lot of my practices have changed to be more in line with ADF since I began, but I don’t know how much I really feel like this is going to be the end path for me. I’m not going to rule it out, but after four months, I still feel strongly drawn to the Wicca tradition that I was previously part of. Thing is, I’m not sure I can go back. Not that I don’t want to, but that I’m not sure there’s a place for me there, and with a close knit coven, you can’t ask them to change their mind about something like this. (And solitary work wasn’t really working out.)

Also, I decided to do this “Druid thing” for a year, and I’m going to stick to that. I think I’ve done pretty well at keeping up with the various requirements, and I’m nearly done with several of them. I didn’t take a “First Oath” because I didn’t feel particularly prepared to make any oaths at that point, though I did promise myself that I’d give ADF a try for a year, which I guess is kind of oath-like. On that level, I’ve done pretty well so far, since I’ve made good progress on all of the essays (and am even ahead on some, like the book reports).

I’ve found what I think will be my hearth culture, after some experimentation, and I’m working on deciphering Who it is from that culture that has been visiting my meditations. (I have a pretty good gut feeling, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions. So I’m going to read more and meditate more, and maybe draw some runes.) I like the idea of having a focused few Gods that I work with regularly, while still having a Pantheon to draw from if I need them.

The requirements so far haven’t been particularly hard or challenging, though some of them have made me think a bit (which is the point). Honestly, I’ve done more thinking and questioning outside of the actual DP requirements than I have for the actual essays. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, since I know that self-discovery comes from that kind of introspection and questioning, but it wasn’t what I expected. I’m feeling a little like the actual requirements are just elaborate hoop jumping, on some levels. I understand why those hoops are there, but many of them are little more than pagan busy-work. But, of course, finishing the Dedicant Path is as much about having completed a course of study, so I’m not too upset about it.

Overall, I’m pleased with the last four months of work and feeling like I’m making some progress towards the end goal. Or at least AN end goal, as I don’t really know what my eventual end goal actually is!

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From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Wisdom:

1:
a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge
b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight
c : good sense : judgment
d : generally accepted belief <challenges what has become accepted wisdom among many historians — Robert Darnton>

2: a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3: the teachings of the ancient wise men

From Our Own Druidry (82):

Wisdom: Good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about, and decide on the correct response

I directly disagree with the first definition of Wisdom from the dictionary, at least as it functions as a virtue. Perhaps it is presumptuous of me, but I see wisdom as distinct from knowledge – though knowledge is certainly necessary to make wise choices, it’s not knowledge itself. The two have very different functions. Knowledge functions to inform, where wisdom functions to discern; knowledge is knowing what to say, and wisdom is knowing how to say it, and whether or not to say it at all.

Perhaps this comes from my experience with roleplaying games, where Wisdom and Intelligence are counted as two separate abilities, and you can be very strong in one without necessarily being strong in the other. I agree with that division, and believe that the ability to understand the truth of a situation can be enhanced by knowledge about it (or knowledge about similar situations), but that ultimately the virtue of wisdom lies in perceiving the immediate truth. As a result, I rather like the definition from Our Own Druidry – particularly the bit about perceiving people and situations correctly. It takes a great deal of wisdom to see the truth in a situation, and to discern what is real and what is not. Many times wisdom is seen in the final outcome of a situation – it looks farther ahead than the immediate part or challenge and strives to see the whole in its entirety.

Practicing wisdom is something I see as crucial to any religious undertaking, especially one as complex as Our Druidry. When working with complex systems and a variety of myths and Gods, it’s important to step back and remember the whole. Also, as a Druid, I seek to embody wisdom in my relationships with others, helping them make wise choices whenever I can (though it is often easier to be wise about someone else’s problems than your own). Applying a discerning, wise eye to my own life is more difficult, and why I strongly agree with practicing wisdom as part of my Druidry.

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