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I finished reading Alaric Albertsson’s Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan last night, and I have to say, I am highly intrigued. This is an easy read, and a charming book, with solid information about the Anglo Saxon path (with common sense advice mixed in) as well as how to take that information and turn it into a modern practice. Albertsson is a member of ADF, so I shouldn’t be surprised to find the ritual structure is familiar, but the book just felt *right* while I was reading it.

This is, of course, especially interesting considering that while I do not have any (known) Norse direct ancestors (I have Germanic ones by marriage), I have ancestors in Britain – and with the usual speculation of how hard it is to date things back that far – to pre-Norman Britain. Granted those might have been Christian ancestors, I have no idea and no real way to tell – I didn’t do the research myself, but it’s likely that their names and records came from church record keeping, so it’s certainly likely.

Still, I felt a real connection to what I was reading. It’s very close to what I’ve already been working with in the Norse hearth (and I don’t know that I’d abandon that entirely), but I may add some Anglo-Saxon flavor into my ADF workings and see what happens. With Midsummer approaching, I’ve plenty of time to work in a ritual that would make sense.

On the other hand, I don’t know how hard a polytheist I am about it – the Gods of the Anglo-Saxons are certainly familiar to someone who has studied the Norse hearth. Do I think Woden and Odin, or Thunor and Thor, or Ing and Freyr, or Freyja and Freo are the same gods or different gods? They have both similarities and differences. The lack of knowledge about the Anglo Saxon culture also seems to lead to a good bit of borrowing from the Germanic myths, just so that there’s enough information to fill out a practice. In that light, I’ve ordered a copy of Brian Branston’s Lost Gods of England to see if I can fill out my knowledge a bit. It’s another approved ADF DP book, so its probably not a waste of time to read. Since it’s out of print, it’ll be a bit before it gets here (the best price for best quality book I could find is being sold by a bookseller in London, so it’s got a trip to make!).

In the meantime I think I’m going to read Albertsson’s other book Wyrdworking, and possibly Diana Paxston’s Trance-portation. (Both of which arrived yesterday! Yay books!) I’ve got a lot to learn, and I tend to read a lot in the summer – it’s quite hot, and I enjoy sitting in the sun with a book and a cool, tasty drink in the afternoons. Bonus points if I drive down to the beach to do it.

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A challenging week, but a good one for meditation and prayer. I spent a lot of time at my altar this week, lighting candles and incense. It was trying, especially being so far away from things that are happening, and having no real recourse but to watch and wait (in horror).

As much as I appreciate our ability to know so much about the world we live in, I’m still not sure that 24-hour instant by instant news is really good for us as humans. We’re not wired to experience that kind of anxiety and stress, especially about things we have no ability to impact. It’s certainly not good for my sanity, even with the extra grounding and prayer.

I also had a pretty substantial conversation with a friend this week about the DP, and it was challenging in a good way. Not challenging as in “hard”, but challenging as in “made me think”. Especially about where I’m going and what I intend to do as I travel this Druid path. I think I will probably be re-incorporating some elements of witchcraft back into my path eventually, since there are things I really miss that don’t conflict with ADF and that I think are good skills for me to continue to have as a magic worker.

I still have this lingering feeling that I don’t know really where I’m headed, and that’s a bit unnerving. I certainly have the goal to complete the DP – but I don’t really know if that goal is in order to truly transform myself into a practicing Druid (which I’d argue I probably already am), or just as something I’m doing to learn as much as I can from and then move on to something else. My friend (hi Yngvi!) argues that this is an element of the virtue of Vision, and I can’t say I disagree with him. It’s a question both of “what path am I actually on right now” and “where do I want to be going”? I may revisit that essay as I work on this, but the answer to both questions right now is “I don’t know”.

Maybe I need to focus my meditations on THAT this week, now that crisis management mode is dwindling down.

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From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

VISION
1

  • a : something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; especially : a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation
  • b : a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination
  • c : a manifestation to the senses of something immaterial <look, not at visions, but at realities — Edith Wharton>

2

  • a : the act or power of imagination
  • b (1) : mode of seeing or conceiving (2) : unusual discernment or foresight <a person of vision>
  • c : direct mystical awareness of the supernatural usually in visible form

3

  • a : the act or power of seeing : sight
  • b : the special sense by which the qualities of an object (as color, luminosity, shape, and size) constituting its appearance are perceived through a process in which light rays entering the eye are transformed by the retina into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve

4

  • a : something seen
  • b : a lovely or charming sight

From Our Own Druidry (82)

Vision: The ability to broaden one’s perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present, and future.

Vision strikes me as a complicated concept as a virtue since it has so many potential meanings, from the ability to see physically to a more intangible ability to dream and plan for the future. I really like how the ADF definition of this virtue incorporates many of the dictionary definitions in a succinct way – it’s both the physical act of seeing and the spiritual act of foresight and discernment (there’s wisdom again), combined with placing ourselves in the greater path of the Kindreds and the cosmos. I especially like the idea of vision as a manifestation to the senses of something immaterial, since I see my work as a Druid being one of manifesting the immaterial in material ways. Rituals – both big and small – take the forms and ideas about the Kindreds and the Cosmos and make them present as material realities: Fire, Well, and Tree, offerings and blessings.

Vision is more than just divination (though that is definitely part of it). It is the integration of the past, present, and future into a path that can be traveled. There is also an element of challenge to vision, that it expects a lot from us, and does not shy away from the difficulties that create growth.

Part of me suspects, though, that this virtue gets a little bit of abuse in the form of “ADF’s greater vision” – I don’t think that individual Druids, while still displaying the virtue of Vision, will necessarily come up with things that are similar to the core “vision” of the ADF organization and it’s leaders/founders. I don’t know that I always display vision particularly well, and I think group vision is important, as we seek to find ourselves in relationships with each other as well as with the greater beings in the Cosmos, but I don’t think we all have place the same weight on each defined goal to work together in ways that are constructive. As well, I think this virtue means as much our own vision for ourselves as it does our visions as a group.

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So I’m an in-the-broom-closet pagan, and I don’t think that’s going to change. My family is loving and kind, but extremely Christian, I don’t want to end up as an abassador for neo-pagandom, and I don’t feel like discussing my religion at work.

However, if I’m going to be a Druid, I wouldn’t really be in the broom closet.

Instead, I shall be a Secret Agent Druid.

I shall practice rogue acts of secretive and subversive Druidry.

Like leaving offerings in a local park, or meditating next to the bayou (and hoping I don’t find an alligator). Or picking up some trash. Or doing the Two Powers meditation when I’m feeling low on energy at work. My work also has a “Green Team”, which I will join as soon as I figure out how. Secret Agent Druid in the Office!

I’ve already stepped up my offerings to the land spirits in my yard – they got some of the homemade venison chili I made last night. I don’t know if land spirits like chili, but it was gone this morning, so I figure they didn’t reject it! I also have an altar in my house, but it looks like a collection of pretty candles and bowls, with an incense burner, so it’s not really that suspicious unless you know what you’re looking for.

I suppose I could call it “Random Acts of Druidry”, but Secret Agent Druid sounds cooler, so I’m going to stick with that.

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Having gone through the online versions of the Dedicant Manual, I figured, given that I was on vacation, I’d just get started on this whole Dedicant Path thing, wherever I felt like it would work. Of course, given that I’ve been a member of ADF for two weeks, one of those weeks including a High Day, and one of those weeks where I was on vacation, it was a lot of flying by the seat of my pants. Very exciting, though possibly a little too high energy to be sustainable now that I’m back at work.

Of course, as soon as I get some things completed, I end up stumbling across people with Homework! Homework for the DP! This is exciting too, since that means there’s a study program somewhere. After a bit of digging around and some help from twitter, I’m now reading through the Wheel of the Year study program by Rev. Michael J. Dangler.

As expected, I did things ALL out of order. Oops.

Still, I think I can make it work. I’ll be putting up homework assignments for weeks 1-4 all in one clump over the next few days. I’ve already put together and done my first High Day rite (Samhain) where I honored Donn and the Cailleach, so I’ll have both the High Day essay and the Ritual Redux essay to put together. If I can get those done, I’ll do my first oath, and I’ll just say I did the first month out of order.

Also, I’m ahead on my book reading, since a week off meant a good excuse to plow through Puhvel’s Comparative Mythology. Which was, as mentioned, not an easy read. I’m doing an easier book next – Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon, which I’ve started in the past (and already own) but have never actually finished. Oops. Anyway, it’s nice to be reading something a little more approachable.

I’m already a meditator with a regular practice, so I’m ahead on that front as well. I’ll be posting (hopefully) weekly journal entries to that effect. For my first Druid Meditations I am starting to work with the Two Powers Meditation, which I like a lot. More on that later.

I also need to get myself set up with a mentor. I think in conversations – I’m a writer and blogger after all – and it’s always good for me to put my thoughts into words to someone else as a way to clarify what I actually think. That’s a big part of why this blog exists. Since it’s publishing to the entire internet, I need to use my words well and wisely, and that thought process really helps me clarify what I think and feel and believe. I’ll be emailing the DP Preceptor to start that process.

It feels like I’m going to have to pace myself on this, especially while everything is new and shiny. I hope the Wheel of the Year book will help me both stay on track and not burn myself out too quickly. Having a week off at the very beginning was nice, since I could take a pretty leisurely look at my first ritual and have lots of time to read a difficult book, but I’m also feeling a little bit like this breakneck pace is unsustainable. While I’m sure my current seat-of-pants style of learning Druidry would work out, having something a little more concrete will help (as will the Socratic style that the Wheel of the Year book is written in. I’m a big fan, at least when it’s not kicking my ass.)

I’ll have my first week’s questions up later today, along with my first week’s Meditation Journal.

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