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Posts Tagged ‘initiate’s path’

8.    Discuss the Outdwellers and their significance in ritual (or not, as the case may be). (minimum 100 words)

Outdwellers are representatives of the forces of chaos, and generally are seen as beings that would act contrary to the rite that is being performed (specifically to the order that ADF ritual seeks to create) (Newburg). While some view them as specifically malevolent or chaotic beings, others view them as simply “anyone we’re not actively making offerings to today” (Newburg). Some groups also include human feelings and impulses (like anger or jealousy) that would have a negative impact on the rite as part of the outdwellers (Newburg), though making offerings to those feelings seems odd to me. The outdwellers can be a significant (or not) portion of ADF worship depending on how they are viewed by any particular group that is performing the ritual. Some groups make offerings to the outdwellers directly, some groups make offerings to a protective god/ess or spirit to protect the sacred rite from the influence of the outdwellers, and some groups ignore them entirely, preferring not to name those forces and thus garner their attention. I usually do some of the first two – I make an offering to the outdwellers directly (usually beer or soda or cider), and then ask Thunor’s protection of my ritual space – which is something of a threat, considering how Thunor usually deals with things that disrupt the order of the universe.

Added 7/15: Our protogrove has chosen simply to ward our ritual space through an offering and song to Thunor, which is based on an Anglo Saxon hallowing charm, set to music. We tried several other methods of offerings, and nothing felt quite right, but we also didn’t feel right completely ignoring the idea of the outdwellers, and so we settled on using a guardian deity whose function is the protection of the middle world to specifically protect our ritual space. We make these offerings to Thunor both at the beginning of the ritual (asking for protection) and at the end (thanks for protection), as well as singing the charm and carrying fire around the space.

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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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6. Discuss the ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The first instance of Fire and Water in ADF Ritual is typically the purification step, where we purify first with water (usually by sprinkling), and then with fire (in the form of incense) (Newburg). Where water washes and cleanses, incense purifies and fills us with sacred fire, and we are renewed by this step of the ritual and made ready to participate in the offerings that come afterward.

Fire and water are also the two most common representations of ADF’s Two Powers – the powers we draw upon for our magical workings and energetic currents (Newburg). The fire is the sky power, the power of the upperworld, of order and craft, and of the expression of will. The water is the underworld power, the power of chaos and potential. When these two powers meet, as they do in each participant in an ADF liturgy, they provide the magical current from which we have the power to do the work of making sacrifices and opening the gates. They also provide a grounding and centering aspect to ADF ritual, which  prepares the ritual participants for working together and mentally calms and prepares them for the energetic work that we do in each ritual (Bonewits “Step”, Newburg). These mirror nicely the two worlds that existed before the creation of the world in the Norse myths – the realm of ice (water) and the realm of fire, from which all things were made.

Fire is also the primary means of sacrifice to the upperworld, as it transforms our offerings into a form that the spirits can use. As well, at the end of each ritual, we imbibe the waters of life – waters which have been transformed by blessings (which often come from the otherworlds, and can be represented by fire) and which send us out into the world renewed and re-energized. By fire we give our offerings to the spirits, and by water they return blessings to us.

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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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2. Describe some of the roles individuals might take on within the context of ritual. (minimum 100 words)

Priest/ess – The person leading the ritual, who is often (but not always) the leader of the group. S/he will make the primary sacrifices, and will be in charge of making sure the rest of the liturgy goes off as planned. Also in charge of improv/control when things get out of hand. The Priest/ess is responsible for the energy created in a ritual, and usually directs that energy as needed or determined by the purpose of the rite.

Bard – The person who leads the chants and praise offerings. Preferably someone with a strong voice and some ability to sing. Skill with an instrument is beneficial, but not required. May lead magical workings, depending on the working involved.

Seer – The person who takes the omens and interprets them for the group. May also have other roles in the ritual.

Fire Warden – The person who makes and tends the fire. Also the person who puts the fire out, if it gets unruly. Arm this person with a fire extinguisher, especially in an enclosed or otherwise flammable space. Especially necessary in windy or difficult conditions, it’s important to have someone specifically assigned to control the fire so that the other ritual participants don’t have to worry about it. This is a crucial role and one to which a single dedicated person should be assigned, and they should be able to keep at least part of their attention on the fire at all times.

Liturgist – The person who writes the liturgy itself. This role can be performed by any of the above, depending on the number of willing volunteers in a group, and may or may not overlap, as this is a pre-ritual position primarily. (This is the function that I am most often tasked with, and also most worried about doing – a well written ritual can be easily ruined by bad participants, but a poorly written ritual is hard to save.)

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1.    Describe the purpose and function of ritual. (minimum 300 words)

Ritual can have many, many purposes and functions, depending on how widely you define ritual. Limiting it to sacred/religious ritual, the list is still pretty long – from 30 second morning devotionals said in the elevator on the way to the 9th floor to extended group magical workings and high day rites, there are as many different purposes as there are rituals, really. Each ritual will fill a function in the lives of the humans that perform it (otherwise, why perform the ritual?). That said, I think generally ritual serves as a place to connect – to connect humans to each other, and to connect humans to the sacred forces that inhabit this world (Corrigan “Intentions”).

If we look at ADF Core Order ritual, for a high day or other high occasion, we’re still primarily looking at those two purposes. The group mind and group energy serves to connect us to each other, to strengthen our friendships and bonds, and to be the backbone of our religious communities (Brooks, “Goals”). The offerings made and blessings received serve to connect us to the spirits around us, Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities, and to create a baseline relationship for us to use in those contexts (Brooks, “Goals”). When we stand at the sacred center, especially in a group with a united mind and purpose, we have the opportunity to fulfil both functions of ritual in a profound way.

Other rituals will fit into different places along those spectrums, where a solo ritual done to a Patron is almost entirely about connection to that one sacred spirit, but a community ritual to welcome a newborn (or other rite of passage) is almost entirely about connection as a group and community (Corrigan “Intentions”).

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention a third function of ADF Core Order ritual specifically, which is the recreation and restrengthening of order in the cosmos (Dangler). Our rituals mirror the creation and ordering of the cosmos, and in doing so serve as a way to strengthen that order. While there is a place for chaos in the cosmos as well (for order without chaos will die, just as chaos without order will never accomplish anything), our rituals are primarily orderly and serve to reinforce that order.

 

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Wow, what a week. Lots of things to think about this week.

My daily practice has been mostly out of sorts this week, between returning from vacation and getting sick (airport crud, yuck). I did manage I think two days, but it was just an off week altogether for my regular practice.

Lesson learned: I’m good at routines, and when my routines go out the window, so does any kind of regular anything I’m used to doing (exercise included in this category). Doubly so for any practice I haven’t fully established yet.

I have started preparing for Lammas though, and what I’m going to do as a solo practitioner. I know I need to do at least one solo high day during this journaling process, and I’ll only be doing the study group ritual for Lammas (the protogrove is doing an all-day festival 2 hours north of my house, and after spending two weekends on vacation or being part of a wedding, I can’t for my own mental health give up a third weekend in a row. More on that later). Since I won’t be coordinating two group rituals, and Yngvi is doing most of the legwork for our Scandinavian celebration with the Study Group, I have time to prep for a solo ritual. I’ll be using my standard Anglo-Saxon template, but I haven’t decided how I want to modify it just yet. Something I’m thinking about.

Then, as I was getting over being sick, I spent all of Friday and Saturday being a bridesmaid in a Very Big Catholic Wedding. This was… exceedingly taxing mentally and physically, and left me feeling very out of sorts with my druid practice. I grew up protestant, but joined the Catholic church in college, because I fell in love with the Mass and the Rosary and the Saints. Also because I had a wonderful church where I was feeling really spiritually nourished. Unfortunately that blew up in my face spectacularly. (I was severely traumatized, and when I went to tell someone about it, I was told that “Maybe God was trying to teach me something” and people sided with my abuser. It was devastating.) I left the church, and then Christianity altogether. (Obviously, as I’m clearly now a Druid.)

However, being back in a very traditional church for a very traditional ceremony, with the candles and the plainchant and the responses and everything? Really hit a sore nerve. It’s not that I have any interest in being Catholic again. I really don’t. (I spent the entire homily trying not to roll my eyes at the priest.) But there’s a lot of nostalgia there that I haven’t quite figured out how to enjoy without feeling horrible about myself as a person. This is compounded by the fact that I know if my family found out that I have left the church for good, they would be devastated, and even at 30 years old, I still have trouble when I disappoint people and don’t live up to their expectations, especially my parents. Religion is HUGELY IMPORTANT to them.

Also, after the wedding, I spent a good amount of time talking to my husband about religion and faith and what I’m doing, and he basically told me that he won’t stop me from doing what I think I need to do about my religion, but he wants no part of it and has no interest in doing any of it with me. My home based practice will be solo, for good. He is extremely independent, and mostly a Humanist, and as long as I’m happy and fulfilled, he’s fine, but he won’t be joining in with any of my high days or little ceremonies at all. He’s pretty much done with any kind of religion, and only really is interested in studying things for the sake of learning. While this isn’t really surprising, the fact that he’s not even interested in learning about what it is that I do and believe was a little hard. It is good that he is okay with me doing what I feel is right for me, and following my own path, but it’s also a little sad that he doesn’t even care to know what Druidry is at all. But that’s his choice, and I can live with it. I’m not sure what it will mean in the future if we have kids, but that’s mostly something we can discuss when we actually decide whether or not we’re having any kids at all.

So while this week wasn’t one much where I did a lot of actual home based practice, I did a lot of very deep thinking about my Druidry, and what going forward on this path may mean. I’m still processing all of it, and I suspect will be for awhile. There’s a lot to parse here.

While I do that though, I’m going to remember some very good advice given to me by Rev. Michael Dangler:

When you don’t know what to do, wash your hands, light a candle, and hug a tree.

 

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