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Posts Tagged ‘journaling’

I thought for this week that I’d provide a bit of trance journaling that I did after some work in my Mental Grove. This is not quite a full fledged trance journey, but does involve my closest ancestor spirit guide, and is a good example of one of the ways I use trance to try to help me with mundane world problems.

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Mentally and emotionally this was another hard week, but I did continue to practice Trance and even work a little magic. This time they were mostly separate, with the Trance being a working I was doing to go have a communication with a spirit ally (Ruby Olar, a deceased professor from college who I had a specially connection to in life and who has been a willing and eager spirit ally in death). I wanted to make sure I was making a decision to be true to myself, and so I set out to go to my Mental Grove and hopefully call to him and have a conversation with him.

My mental grove is as it always is – seasons don’t seem to have meaning here, which makes some sense, as the tree that I see in my grove is a massive Live Oak, with huge sprawling arms, like the Seven Sisters Oak or A&M’s Century Tree. The branches totally enclose the grove, setting it off from the rest of the otherworld, and so I find that I can truly relax there. After several years of practice, it has become my “home” in trance. There is a fire in a wide stone circle, firewood for tending it (neither of which ever seems to go out) and a spring that burbles up from the ground, over a round rock, and down over several rocky little pathways to the edge of the tree branches.

I did a progressive relaxation exercise to begin, and then called up the mists, and then allowed my mind to materialize into my Grove, where I found it peaceful and quiet. The light in my mental grove is often ambiguous, but this time it was clearly liminal – I believe dusk, by the way that my interactions went. I spoke to the grove, which has several inhabitants that come and go, including a large brown and white rabbit, a barred owl, a couple of different toads, and a stag. Tonight it was just the rabbit, who seems happy to be there most of the time. She and I said our greetings, and I settled myself down to the fire, and said to the grove “I would like to speak to Ruby Olar”.

Sometimes this works, and other times it doesn’t, but tonight it did work, and Ruby walked in through a small gap in the tree limbs, as spry and light on his feet as ever. A dancer and martial artist in life, I recognize Ruby as much by his face and his voice as I do by the way that he moves – a trait that stuck with him in the afterlife.

We had a long conversation, that I will not document here, but where he told me several times that I needed to “be in the moment” and that while I should be proud of being a “force of nature” to remember that nature is both still as a mountain and flows like the river. I don’t remember precisely what he told me in answer to my questions, but after a good few minutes of conversation we fell into a companionable silence. He ended the encounter by standing, and – like he did in life, and like he has always done in my grove – asking if I wanted a hug. I always accept (but he still always asks), and then he disappeared into the mists outside the grove.

I sat in the grove for awhile, made offerings of incense and whisky to the fire in thanks for my conversation with Ruby, and then allowed the grove to disappear into mists in my mind and brought myself back to my body, lying on my floor.

The journey took about 30 minutes total, and when I was done I felt both refreshed and tired. I had a cup of tea and some yogurt, and left the lamp burning on my altar long after I was done with my working.

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After six months of sitting on it, thinking about it, buying books and running out of space to put them (I have plenty of bookshelves in the main part of my house, but I like to keep my obviously druidy books in by my altar, and there’s just not enough space in there), planning what courses to do first, attending (via skype) some workshops at a study group retreat, and otherwise generally kicking around the Initiate’s Path, I decided that instead of trying to force myself to do the hard stuff first (see: Trance and Magic), maybe I’d be better off just FINISHING something.

So I did.

Over the last three weeks, I put together Divination I and submitted it for review last night. I didn’t have to work too hard, though a few questions required more books for source material, and overall it was really satisfying to just get SOMETHING done.

I haven’t decided if I’m posting my IP work here or not. I can definitely post my works cited list for each course, but the courses are long, and each question (there were 11 for Div I) can be one or several blog posts in length, so I’m not sure exactly how to approach that.

As for what’s next, I’m reading the books required for Liturgy I and Liturgy Practicum while I wait for Div I to be reviewed. (I can’t submit anything else until my currently submitted course actually passes.) Liturgy I looks to be mainly an understanding of the different parts of the COoR, which I think I have a pretty good handle on, so hopefully finishing that will just require actually sitting down and writing it out.

And then once I finish Liturgy I, I’m going to work on Divination II and Liturgy Practicum journals together. They seem to dovetail nicely – 5 months of regular divination or ritual practice, documented. Those entries will probably get posted here, since I will be writing them up anyway, and they usually make nice blog post sized chunks. Also if I make it a regular feature to post about them, I’ll be more likely to actually stick with it for 5 months (or 4 in the case of Liturgy). I’ve almost completed the first month of the Div II journal (May), so that’s at least well started.

That said, since I’m going to be doing weekly (or more) divinations for the next four months, if you have questions and you don’t mind a rather amateur rune reading, I’m offering up these readings for free. They may or may not be super detailed, but I need all the practice I can get.

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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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My first missed meditation journal entry since last October! Not a bad record, if I do say so myself. I did several longer meditations this weekend, including one focused on renewing the contact I’d previously had with Freyr. Controlling my anxiety levels has gone a long way toward making these meditations more comfortable, helping me to settle in and really focus. I know that every meditation is different, and that even when I’m highly anxious, sitting down to meditate is better than doing nothing (and in fact, can help a lot), but it’s nice to feel that my practice is “working” again.

A commenter mentioned in one of my journals recently that “judging” meditations is completely counter to the way that Eastern thought approaches meditation, and I think that’s definitely true.

It’s very hard to keep an objective journal of meditation and mental discipline progress without applying some sort of judgment to your meditations though. The goal of the DP is 5 months of journaling condensed into an essay that describes your progress and what you got out of it – a fairly critical difference from the Eastern thought that you shouldn’t be judging meditation at all.

I think there’s a balance to be reached between non-judging and carefully collecting and applying yourself to a practice with the intent of learning a skill. I think Druidry is placing a different goal before its DP students, one where the practice of meditation and the ability to enter trance states is considered a skill worth developing. Progress toward that goal requires at least some analysis of what is or isn’t working (so long as you give things enough of a try to get that data).

Still, I think it’s important to keep in touch with the idea of non-judging as well – you might be thinking critically about your meditation, but you can do so without making it “wrong” or “bad” meditation – just things that work better than others, or mind states that affect your practice differently. In a class-based situation like the DP, some measurements are necessary, but going forward, I think I need to be more kind with myself, and less judgmental towards the “bad days” that inevitably happen.

Hopefully that will help both with anxiety levels and with my not wanting to meditate for fear that I’ll have a bad day and it won’t feel “productive”. Any meditation time is better than no meditation time, and distracted, anxious meditation is better than no meditation at all. It all works toward the goal of training the mind, even if it sometimes feels like a step backwards.

I also think that support for Druids who continue to meditate AFTER completing the DP would do well to remember the non-judging side of meditation practice. That it can easily just be a practice for its own sake, and that it has value as such.

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Sitting (or lying down) meditation every day this week again, or almost (I may have missed a weeknight). I do these meditations at varying times of day, though most commonly in the evenings. I light cedar and sandalwood incense, do the two powers meditation standing at my altar, and then lay on the floor for 15-30 minutes and try to focus on breathing. I’m definitely feeling a good response (mentally) to the mindfulness parts of my practice.

I haven’t had any close encounters with Freyr (or Anyone else) since I started having some mental health troubles about three weeks ago. I am pretty sure these are related – though I am frequently talking to him, I don’t have the same mental space that I would usually expect to have for him to really speak up. (Also it’s possible that he just said hi, and is content to let me continue with my daily devotionals for now) Still, I’m working to get back to a more balanced mental state so that I can resume more focused meditations.

I am intending to do some focused meditations and ask to be introduced to the other Vanir at some point, but that needs to happen after I get some of my real life issues straightened out. While I can take some amount of comfort from my spiritual practice, I’m not in a place where I can really do challenging things right now.

As an aside – this post marks 5 months since I began journaling my meditation and mental discipline experiences. (My first journal entry was November 5, 2012, and today is April 8, 2013) I haven’t decided fully, but I think I may continue the practice of weekly mental discipline journaling. It both gives me some structured time to reflect on the practice and reminds me to continually think about what I can be doing to deepen my connections. Since this is both about my meditation practice and my practice of spiritual connection with the Kindreds, I think it’s valuable. I’ll be using these five months to write my mental discipline essay, but I think the journaling practice is a good one for me to continue, especially since I’m currently intending to pursue the Initiates Path after completing the DP, and that will require extensive journaling for the Trance and Divination requirements (at least).

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