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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.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will increase their knowledge of personal and/or family worship customs of ADF and/or from a chosen Indo-European culture and be able to compare these customs to those of public ritual.
  2. Students will demonstrate the implementation of new (or document existing) personal and/or family worship customs through regular journal entries documenting and describing this practice.

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)

Bonewits identifies three subcategories for intra-group familiarity: knowledge, affection, and group identity (Bonewits 57). Knowledge is both knowing each other and knowing the material – if you know, for example, “how well the other members of your group can chant, or drum or visualize, you have a better idea how to blend your energies with theirs to create the group mind” (57). Affection is fairly obvious – bonds of genuine friendship or love within a group will enhance the ability to perform ritual, as the “psychic and psychological barriers that most people keep between themselves will be fewer and more easily set aside” (57). Group identity is most effective when it is most specific – Bonewits gives the example that “We are of the (Gardnerian) Wica” is more effective than just “We are all witches”.

Personal or family-only ritual is aided largely by the first two – in small group ritual, you typically know everyone (or get to know them) and that knowledge and working history creates the bonds of friendship that Bonewits calls ‘affection’ in this case. Both of these are largely lost in large group rituals, where things are most often open to the public and where complete strangers may show up. In some ways, this may actually work counter to the ideals of knowledge and affection, especially with members who are more shy or reticent around new individuals to a meeting. However, group identity, especially if it is well cultivated during the ‘creating the group mind’ step of the COOR, can be very strong within a large, even public group ritual. A well-orchestrated public ritual does its best work when everyone feels – at least for the moment – as though they are part of a community that is working together, and thus that is an obstacle that can be overcome in public group ritual.

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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)

Praying through words

Perhaps the most obvious method of prayer for me is prayer through words. I have found, through my practice, that there is power in words spoken aloud that is not there in words spoken silently ‘in your head,’ though obviously in public places like at work this is often the only option. My prayer practice is largely done out loud, even if sometimes sotto voce, which doubles as practice for group prayer. As a Senior Druid, I do a lot of group prayer with my grove, and that is done intentionally through using my voice to create atmosphere and tone for the people who have joined us around the fire.

Praying through Posture

Serith mentions both kneeling and prostration as prayer postures familiar to a Western audience, but I find that I most often stand to pray, as my altar is on top of a small bookshelf that is about waist height. I do make use of the orans position quite frequently (which I was rather appalled to learn is restricted in some churches only to priests!), both in private prayer and especially in public prayer. I also try to use my hands in group practice as directive of where the prayer is “going” – whether up to the sky for the Sky Father, down to the earth for the Earth Mother, or into the Hallows.

Praying through Motion

Serith mentions circumambulation as one type of prayer through motion, which is a type of prayer that I use more often in group ritual. In my private practice, most of my praying is done at an altar that is butted up against a wall, so it’s hard to walk about. However, if I am doing a blessing or a cleansing, I use the motion of my body to mirror the motions of the prayer through the space.

Praying through Dance

Serith calls dance the “ultimate form of praying with motion” (24), and it is a prayer form that I almost never use in my own practice, public or private, which I think I might want to reconsider. The act of dance can be very sacred, and can also facilitate a trance state that is very helpful when directing energy in prayer. This is a form of praying that I’d like to explore more, though I often feel ‘funny’, for lack of a better term, when dancing alone in my apartment.

Praying through Music

Music can be either accompaniment to dance, or the sung or chanted prayers themselves. I particularly enjoy sung prayers and have memorized a number of songs and chants to use in core order rituals. My grove uses these extensively, led by our bard and his guitar, but they are equally powerful with just a voice or voices. Praying through song changes the pace of the ritual and can add great affect to both group and private ritual, and is something I do often.

Praying through Gestures

Gestures are “somewhere between postures and motions” and are “things done with the hands and arms” that have their own meaning (Serith 27). I especially like the description of prayer gestures as a “little dance” – a dance performed with only one part of your body (27). I use gestures in ritual frequently; identifying things, showing the motion or flow of energy, directing participants, and channeling offerings.

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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)

Serith makes the argument that set prayers involve “a relationship between the pray-er, the prayer, and the one prayed to,” where this relationship is “expressed through the words of a prayer” (66). He argues that while the words of a set prayer may be identical each time they are prayed, each prayer event is “no more identical to those before it than each performance of a particular piece of music is the same as another” (66).

He also argues that ancient Paganism had set prayers – some of which have survived until today – and particularly mentions the Rg Veda and Roman prayer books. As well, there are times when we want to pray, but we can’t find the words (66-7). At these times, such as at a funeral or other times of great personal distress, set prayers allow us to be comforted and to give up having to think about or try to find the right words.

Group prayer is also, by nature, set prayer – people “need to know what to say, so they can say it together” (67). This type of prayer serves both its function as a prayer and also as a way of bringing people together.

The most important rationale, according to Serith, for set prayers is a phenomenon that he calls ‘deepening.’ “The more often a prayer is said, the deeper it sinks into your consciousness. Eventually, it sinks into your unconscious mind” (67). At that point, you are no longer simply saying a prayer; it has become a part of who you are and how you think.

In my personal, private practice I have found that there are times for set prayers, and there are times for extemporaneous prayers, and it would do my practice a huge disservice to abandon one or the other. Serith’s own Cosmos Prayer is a huge part of my practice, and is a prayer that I hope is slowly ‘deepening’ into my consciousness. As well, my daily Earth Mother and Gatekeeper prayers are fairly set at this point. However, I also find that if I want to do a core order, I am less likely to stress less about what is being said if I have a prayer to start from, but don’t feel obligated to speak it identically every time. In my journal below I have included two full Core Order rituals that I use, but I rarely use one entirely from start to finish, despite having most of them memorized. I’ll feel inspired, or be in a hurry and need to hit the high points, etc.

For myself, then, I find Serith’s arguments for set prayers to be compelling, and use them in my practice frequently, but then, I come from a Catholic background (albeit having been born in an American Baptist family) so my love of set and memorized prayers is fairly unsurprising.

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4.    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.

All Liturgy Practicum 1 Journals are previously posted on this blog, in the category Liturgy Journal 1, and can be read there.

Works Consulted

Bonewits, Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. Minneapolis: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2002. Print.

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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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Pretty boring week, actually. I managed my morning devotions Monday-Friday, but I’m having trouble establishing them on weekends, I think because I don’t have a defined morning routine on the weekends. Depending on the weekend I can be very busy, and it seems like the lack of structure is making it hard to do morning devotions in that atmosphere. (I am a creature of habit, and I like routines.)

Attempts to add in a meal blessing have fallen totally flat. I love the idea, but in execution it just hasn’t been working. I’m not remembering to do it even after I eat. It’s just kind of an afterthought at the end of the week when I do my journal entry. This is the meal blessing I settled on using:

By the mysteries of the High Ones,
Through the knowledge of the Old Ones,
From the bounty of the Green Ones,With the grace of the Earth Mother,
May this meal be blessed.

It’s simple enough, but I just don’t seem to have the focus to do it.

Also, problematically, I’m way over-committed on my weekends. It’s hard to set aside time for a weekly devotional practice when I spend pretty much all weekend running from one thing to the next. Weekends are my only “free” time (I go to bed really early, because I get up really early, so it’s not possible to do social things on weeknights), so I like to cram in as much social time as possible. The ADF DP Study Group I’m leading is, of course, good to keep doing, but I may have to make some hard decisions about the rest of it, especially since I also have to clean house on the weekends.

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