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Posts Tagged ‘practice’

This week (or next week) marks the half-way point of my journaling for Liturgy Practicum 1. My first entry was for the week of 13 June, which was 8 weeks ago. The journal has to be for four months, so the week of 13 October should be my last “official” recorded week.

Though like with many practices in ADF, the journaling is supposed to be the beginning or the documentation, not the culmination of the practice. I’ve created practices with this work that I hope will stick with me, but I’ll admit to being a little discouraged at how “simple” my practice is. I make offerings at my altar most days, to the Kindreds, to the Eorthan Modor, and to Eostre. I make offerings at my hearth most days, to my house spirits (who seem very fond of oatmeal, so I’ve been eating that for breakfast more). I am rekindling my deity practices – my prayer beads are on my altar, and I’ve been developing a series of prayers to say with them. (Look for those in a future week.)

But it doesn’t feel like it’s “enough”.

And, of course, the next thing I think of is Rev. Jan Avende’s song “All Things are Sacred

You should know that all things can be offered.
You should know that all things are sacred.
You should know that you’ve given the best
Of yourself
And it’s enough.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I worry that I’m going to turn in this journal, and it’s going to be deemed “too simple” or “too basic”. That this practice that I’m developing will not be enough. But I’ve always set expectations for myself that are unrealistic, and finding the balance of “this practice is meaningful” and “this practice shows enough regular devotion to warrant my place in the CTP” is something I knew from the get-go that I would struggle with.

I can think of many things that I’d like to be able to say my practice includes. Some of those things – like regular meditation – are things I’ve done in the past and can likely do again. (In fact, I’d argue that I’ll absolutely HAVE to start doing regular meditation again before I can get my Trance and Magic work done.) Other things? Like a full Core Order ritual every day? They just seem utterly unreachable – whether because I don’t have the time or because I just don’t have the willpower to set up that kind of a devotional habit (which I know those of you with small children at home will just laugh at, but we each have our own struggles).

Self doubt is a part of any practice though, and I know this. Today it seems huge, and so, in response, I’m going to go and sit my butt on a cushion and just be for awhile. Just breathe. After all, that’s why they call it “practice” right? You have to take the time to get good at it.

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I started in on this on twitter, but realized there was a lot more than I could cover in even a series of tweets here.

ADF is, at its core, welcoming to Pagan laity. We hold public high day rituals because we want people to come and worship the Gods. We don’t force everyone who comes to our rituals to join ADF, and we don’t force everyone who joins to complete their Dedicant work, and we don’t even require attendance at regular study meetings, let alone mandatory ritual celebration (solitary or in groups). Can you spend a lot of time studying in ADF? Absolutely. And I think there’s a ton of value there. But if you just want to show up, get your worship on, and then go home and continue with your life… THAT’S OKAY.

It is 100% okay to want to be a practicing Pagan and just do your thing, practice your devotions to your gods, and live your life.

ADF is a public Pagan church. That inherently includes both priests and laity. And this is good! Not all Pagan groups are run with laity in mind!

So let’s knock off the shit about how we’re more spiritually enlightened because we have bookshelves worth of study materials and enjoy debating the finer points of paleo-religious theory. You can be pretty damn spiritually enlightened with a small home altar, some candles or a triple hallows, and heartfelt devotion to the Kindreds or your spiritual beings of choice. And, in fact, if you’re actually practicing and doing the religious devotional work, you might even be MORE spiritually enlightened than someone who never does any actual religious work but spends all their time reading without applying or doing anything with what they’re learning.

ALSO WHILE I’M WEARING THE RANT PANTS.

Someone believing in the disproved “Great Ancient Mother Goddess Religion” of Gimbutas and her ilk DOES NOT MAKE THEM WICCAN. It makes them ignorant of current scholarship. There are lots of ways to be Wiccan (of various flavors and types – it’s a hugely diverse religion), and most of those ways are at least duotheistic, if not truly polytheistic (the Trad coven I was part of the outer court with was polytheist). Also there is an entire religion devoted to a Great Mother God that has nothing to do with Wicca.

(Also with the “this person believes a stupid thing about a goddess therefore WICCA”? WTF? Wiccans are not uneducated morons.)

If someone says “I believe in the Goddess, but I’m not Wiccan” you say “okay”. You are not the arbiter of other people’s religion. You don’t try to force them to change their mind about how they’re really secretly Wiccan. Double especially if you’re trying to convince them to be Wiccan because they’re disruptive and embarrassing, and you just want them to go away and stop coming to your particular group’s meetings. Be straight with people about their behavior. If they’re a pain in the ass, tell them so and ask them to shape up or stop coming. The Wiccans don’t want embarrassingly disruptive people either.

So. Let’s be welcoming to the laity, and encourage them on their spiritual path(s). Let’s encourage, rather than one-up, each other, and remember that studying might make you knowledgeable, but it doesn’t make you a better person. And let’s quit it with the ridiculous assumptions about Wiccans. Many Wiccans (especially coven/Trad Wiccans) have just as much homework as the more well-known-for-being “studious” traditions, and often more spiritual discipline to go with it.

And in case it wasn’t painstakingly clear from the rest of this post, if you choose to use my comments section to bash Wicca, I will send your comments straight into the spam oubliette.

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If:

  • You are already close to running late
  • Your well didn’t get water in it yesterday because you forgot to fill the cup
  • You do your devotional at 5:30 am before caffeine
  • You are trying to establish a regular practice but still get to work on time
  • Your well is a beautiful wooden bowl made of pieced woods in different colors that was a gift you can never replace

Then:

  • Your wooden well will have cracked along a seam in the bottom from having water left in it the last time you did ritual
  • You will not notice this until half the well has emptied out the crack in the bottom, soaking the entire top of your altar
  • You will be out of paper towels in your altar room, and will have to make a mad dash to the kitchen to get some
  • Your old ceramic well will be full of wine corks, which have no other place to go, so you will have to leave them in a pile on the counter
  • When you empty your old well, it will be full of cork dust, so you will need to wash it

And then:

  • By the time you finally get back to your devotional, you will have forgotten what steps you did and have to start over
  • Making you at least 10 minutes late getting out the door

 

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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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