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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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Introduction:

This course is the first of two intended to provide an introduction to the practice of liturgical writing. Topics covered in this first course are primarily foundational: the purposes of ritual; the use of source materials; and the nature and forms of heightened language (or, for the purposes of this course, poetics) applied to writing liturgical material, such as prayers.

This course also assumes a familiarity with the ADF order of ritual and completion of the ADF Dedicant Program. While much of the content of this study guide is couched in general terms, the student will be asked to apply those general concepts to a consideration of how they are exemplified by ADF liturgical practices and having those practices in mind while reading the material will be helpful.

Course Objectives

  • Students will analyze and discuss a variety of purposes fulfilled by the ADF Core Order of Ritual.
  • Students will identify techniques utilized within effective poetic expression and begin to incorporate these techniques within their liturgical writing.
  • Students will be able to create a prayer appropriate for use in high day ritual and select an appropriate offering to accompany the prayer.

1.    Describe how ADF’s order of ritual expresses the following concepts: “Serving the people”; “Reaffirming shared beliefs”; “Reestablishing the cosmic order”; “Building enthusiasm”. (Min. 500 words)

  “Serving the People”

ADF’s Core Order of Ritual is a type of service in and of itself, for it was designed to be a shared, public Neopagan liturgy. Isaac’s vision was one where ADF groves held rituals in public, for their entire communities, in a way that was normal and affirming to all who might come and worship the kindreds with us. Public ritual is a service that groves provide, and a service that ADF clergy provides at festivals, to the various communities that they serve and are a part of.  This service allows people to strengthen their ties to the kindreds and to their gods and spirits through offerings and receiving the blessings, and it facilitates the building of social structures as well, which are ever more and more important in today’s often frantic society.

“Reaffirming Shared Beliefs”

The first steps of the Core Order are about reaffirming shared beliefs. We process into the space together, often in song, as a show of solidarity of spirit and purpose. Each member is purified, but then we create the group mind, often through the Two Powers meditation, establishing our connection to each other, to the powers of the Earth and Sky, and maintaining our sacred space within the worlds. We then state our purpose for being in ritual, a step that is both about reaffirming our shared purpose and beliefs and that teaches newcomers what to expect in the ritual. These steps form the “set up” at the beginning of any Core Order ritual and provide a shared system of belief and a feeling of community that pervades the rest of the ritual. As each offering is made, the community responds in kind – “Accept this offering” and “Accept this sacrifice” – as each offering is both personal and communal. Our shared beliefs are upheld when we make offerings together. (Newburg)

“Reestablishing the cosmic order”

The cosmic order is maintained through our ritual actions each time we do ritual, in the “middle” of the setup of a Core Order ritual, after the affirmation of shared beliefs and the introductory parts of the ritual.

While world-creating aspects of liturgy “are sometimes present just to commemorate the creation… more often they are also meant to orient the ritual participants to other parts of the universe and to all the other beings in it” (Bonewits 31). Bonewits says that the first step of this part of the ritual is “defining a ritual center,” which ADF does through creating the sacred center in the Fire, the Well, and the Tree, as well as the three “worlds” of Land, Sea, and Sky. This requires creating a “center of the world” (Eliade, in Bonewits 31), which is the place where the deities created everything and a place where you can have access to anywhere in the various worlds. This is usually represented by the axis mundi – the Tree in ADF’s cosmology, which can be represented by any number of axes, including Yggdrasil, Irminsul, Omphalos, and Bile.

ADF then completes this sacred center by opening up a gate, with the aid of a Gatekeeper spirit (or spirits), through which all of the energy of the ritual will flow, both inwards to the other realms and then back outwards to the participants in the ritual.

“Building Enthusiasm”

Building enthusiasm is the creation of energy that is raised for the benefit of the spirit or spirits that are the central focus of the ritual itself. This preliminary power raising can be done by “singing or chanting, by a sacred dance, or by formal evocations or invocations” (Bonewits 33). In ADF ritual this is typically done through a combination of song and evocative prayers, where calls are made and energy is raised through offerings that are poured into the fire. Drama is key here, and a boring evocation with no poetry or ‘magic’ will often fall flat, where the same or similar evocation given with oomph and a flair for the poetry of the situation can be truly inspiring. The peak of this power-raising is the Prayer of Sacrifice, where all of the good intent, offerings, energy, love, and praise of the community is focused through the gates in a big final push to the gathered spirits (Newburg).

ADF ritual also builds another kind of enthusiasm – the enthusiasm for community and shared experience. Often if a group is feeling flat or dull, performing ritual together can spark life and energy back into the core of the group. This enthusiasm is built through our ritual structures, and brings us back full circle on this question, as it feeds back into the idea of serving the people.

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2.    Create a prayer of praise, offering, or thanksgiving to a deity modeled on a mythic, folkloric, or other literary source of at least 75 words. Include a summary of what your sources were and how you utilized them (summary at least 150 words).

Hail Frey, Lord of the fields!
Beautiful lord of the Vanir
Golden of hair as the fields of wheat and corn,
Bringing riches of heart and hearth to the folk.

We hail you with the grain that springs forth
And falls again to nourish us.
We hail you, mighty boar in flight,
Lord of Frith that is bound to land,
You who can warm the cold heart,
Warrior without a weapon
Who give your prosperity to all of your kin,
You guide and sustain your descendants.

Lord Ing, Providing god,
God of the bees and the barley,
You who make the grain spring forth,
We sacrifice this, our first loaf,  to you
As the grains are sacrificed for us each year.

I have an ever deepening relationship with Frey, and have since I was working on my Mental Discipline requirement for my Dedicant work in 2012. Over the years, I’ve collected a number of books about him, and read all of his myths multiple times, but I’ve found that in popular culture this multi-faceted deity gets flattened to only be about fertility.  Ann Sheffield, in her Frey: God of the World, summarizes the kennings that are used to describe Frey in the Poetic and Prose Eddas. I consulted this list extensively. Some of the kennings that Sheffield quotes include:

  • Most renowned, most glorious among gods
  • Harvest-god, god of prosperity
  • Foremost, best of gods
  • Beli’s bane
  • Bright
  • Sacrifice-priest
  • Freyja’s brother
  • Battle-wise
  • Wealth-giver
  • (one who) guides, governs the people
  • People’s ruler of the gods
  • Fair, beautiful
  • Wise
  • Temple-priest
  • Chieftain
  • Mighty
  • Providing
  • Shining
  • Njordh’s son
  • Vanir-god
  • God of the world
  • Weaponless, unarmed

These kennings and bynames come from the Skirnismal, Gylfaginning, Ynglinga Saga, Grimnismal, Skaldskaparmal sections of the Poetic and Prose Eddas, by Snorri Sturlusun, or poets that he quotes (Sheffield 2-3). I noted that most of these references are to Frey as a giver of wealth and prosperity, and thus made that the focus of this prayer of offering, which references as well the first-loaves that were a common offering around this time of year (early August). I also make reference to Gullinbursti – Frey’s boar of golden bristles – which also comes from the Skaldskaparmal section of the Prose Edda. The reference to Bee and Barley is a reference to Beyla and Byggvir, Frey’s servants as quoted in the Lokasenna portion of the Prose Edda. The reference to warming the cold heart is to the story in Skirnismal where Frey sends his servant Skirnir to woo the Jotun-maid Gerda, who then becomes his wife.

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3.    Discuss a poem of at least eight lines as to its use of poetic elements (as defined by Watkins): formulaics, metrics, and stylistics. Pay particular attention to use of meter and phonetic devices, such as rhyme and alliteration. (Minimum 100 words beyond the poem itself.)

Riddle Forty-three:

Ic wat indryhtne              aethelum deorne
giest in geardum,            tham se grimma ne maeg
hungor scethan                 ne se hata thurst,
yldo ne adle.                  Gif him arlice
esne thenath,               se the agan sceal
on tham sithfate,             hy gesunde aet ham
findath witode him         wiste ond blisse,
cnosles unrim,               care, gif se esne
his hlaforde                hyreth yfle,
frean on fore.                  Ne wile forth wesan
brothor othrum;              him thate bam scetheth
thonne hy from bearme          begen hweorfath
anre magan                       ellorfuse,
moddor on sweostor.    Mon, se the wille,
cythe cynewordum        hu se Cuma hatte,
edtha se esne,                 the ic her ymb sprice.

(Porter 74)

I know of a lofty stranger
in the yards, beloved by noblemen,
whom sharp hunger cannot harm,
nor hot thirst, old age or sickness.

If the servant serves him kindly,
who must go away on that journey —
they will find at home, certain
and unharmed, happiness
and a hot meal, countless children.
But sorrow, if the servants
obeys his lord poorly,
his master along their way.

Brother does not fear brother,
who injures them both,
when they both depart, eager for yonder
from the lap of a single kinsman,
mother and sister.

Let the one who wishes to
name this stranger in familiar words,
or else the servant,
who I’m talking about here.

(Hostetter)

John Porter calls the Anglo Saxon riddles a collection of “lyric poems”, and defines these riddles as “metaphor, transformation and analogy, poetic perception, verbal play, language under creative imagination, ‘making it new’” (Porter 7). These poems are the essence of Old English poetry, and provide classic examples of the highest valued portions of their poetic forms – primarily alliteration and rhythmic forms. I have included both the Anglo-Saxon original and a readable translation for the analysis here, since it’s hard to analyze alliteration in a translation.

Formulaics is the use of repeated words and phrases, sometimes across languages, which serve as a poetic cue to the reader and to the poet (Watkins 12-19). While Watkins primarily compares the Vedic and Greek poetry for shared words and phrases that share syntax and meaning, the Old English literature is not discussed – perhaps because by the time it was written down it had branched so far from the original languages as to only share formulas with closer, sister-languages such as Old Norse and other Germanic languages.

Even so, this riddle is an exercise in poetic formulas from top to bottom, and – in fact – is a sort of poetic formula by its very nature, being that a riddle is in some ways an elaborate kenning for a greater topic. As well, there are formulaic pieces within the riddle as well, the most prominent of which is part of the key to solving the riddle. John Porter says that the answer to this riddle is “the body and the soul” (the stranger and the servant). Thus would the “single kinsman, mother and sister” be the earth itself (Porter 135). The oral traditions of poetry that Watkins discusses were incredibly successful thanks to these formulas, and the Anglo-Saxon language is no exception. There is very little written in Anglo-Saxon, and what we do have was written post-conversion.

Metrics is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetic forms, as well as the use of pauses, or caesura, mid-line (Watkins 19-21). The basic pattern of the lines in Riddle Forty-three is two half lines that are connected by alliteration (consonants with consonants, vowels with vowels), where the alliterated words have more stress. Each line includes a caesura mid-line.

Stylistics is all of the other linguistic features that distinguish poetry in a language, like alliteration, parallel structure, simile and metaphor, rhyme, repetition, and others (Watkins 21-27). As is typical of Old English poetry, there is no rhyme scheme in this 16 line riddle – and in fact there is no rhyme scheme in any of the riddles, which vary dramatically in length. Alliteration, however, there is in plenty – giest, geardum, grimma, maeg (line 2), his, hlaforde, hyreth (line 9), bearme, begen (line 12). The greater style of all of the riddles is one of extended metaphor – the subject of the riddle is compared to or described as many things in an attempt to get the listener to correctly guess the riddle’s subject.

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4.    Create a prayer suitable for the main offering of a High Day rite which includes invocation of at least one deity suitable to the occasion, description of the offering and its suitability to the occasion, and the purpose of the offering, totaling at least 100 words. Any stage directions necessary for performance of the offering should be included.

This invocation was made to Sunna at Nine Waves’ Midsummer ritual in 2016 and 2017.

Radiant Sunna, whose rays wash the land in light,
All nature vibrates with your energies
And the Earth is bathed with warmth and life
Fire of sky and air, your brightness draws us forth.
You are called ever-glow, day-star, and all-bright seen
Daughter of Mundilfari, you mark our days,
And with your brother you tell the time for us

Shine brightly upon us, Sunna,
On this the feast of your strength and speed
Your longest journey is today,
Let your light shine upon the fields in our hearts and minds
And may the harvest grow strong and tall there
Let your light shine upon the land around us
And may the harvest grow strong and tall there

May your blessing fall on our homes and all the crops we have sown
Until the time of harvest draws near.

Shining Sunna, accept our sacrifice!

(Throw sunflowers into the fire.)

(163)

Works Consulted

–. Anglo-Saxon Riddles. Trans John Porter. Little Downham, Ely, Cambs: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2003. Print.

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

Dickins, Bruce. Runic and Heroic Poems. London: Cambridge University Press, 1915. Print.

Hostetter, Dr. Aaron K. “Exeter Book Riddles.” Rutgers University. Web. 1 August 2017.
<https://anglosaxonpoetry.camden.rutgers.edu/exeter-book-riddles/&gt;.

Newburg, Brandon. “Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ár nDraíocht Féin.” ADF. Web. 1 August 2017. <https://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutorial/index.html&gt;.

–. The Poetic Edda. Trans. Carolyne Larrington. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

–. The Poetic Edda. Trans. Lee M Hollander. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1990. Print.

Sheffield, Ann Groa. Frey: God of the World. Lulu.com, 2007. Print.

Sturluson, Snorri. Edda. Trans. Anthony Faulkes. Clarendon, VT: Everyman Press, 1995.

Watkins, Calvert. How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

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As I write this, I am home again.

All told, I was gone for 10 days – I left on Thursday, returned home on Saturday. Today is Sunday, and my apartment is mostly set to rights again. I had no damage to the building, though my entire garden on the balcony is pretty much destroyed. I’ve gone grocery shopping, mostly replenished the stuff that I had to throw away, and have done some laundry. I’m very happily wearing an outfit that didn’t come out of a suitcase.

This whole experience was exceptionally disruptive to my spiritual practice. (Duh?) I spent 10 days without a way to kindle a fire, no way to light incense, and in the home of family who are so devoutly Christian that the room I was staying in has been decorated in what I jokingly refer to as “ostentatious Hobby Lobby chic”. Crosses all over everything. Bible verses everywhere. Angels in all of the art. My parents are wonderful people, and they know that I’m no longer Christian, but it was very jarring to wake up and have an artfully arranged display of crosses be the first thing my eyes set on every morning.

It wasn’t an unpleasant week, all things considered, but it was a challenging one. Being at the mercy of nature (and the electric company). Being displaced from your home with no way to tell what was going on. I’m one of the lucky ones who had a home to go back to – many in coastal Texas this week are not so fortunate. I’m left thinking about what my private devotions *should* look like in such a situation, and all told I think I did pretty well. While my parents said their very-Christian grace over dinner each night, I said my own in my head, or said the Cosmos prayer if I couldn’t think of a meal blessing.

Actually, I said the cosmos prayer a lot.

I think, if I had to make a bug-out kit for future hurricanes, I’d include Ceisiwr Seriths A Book of Pagan Prayer in there, just for some variation. Writing prayers to help others is easy, but writing prayers for yourself when you’re in the middle of trouble is much harder.

I did write a prayer that I sent out to my grove though:

Mighty Kindred, we pray your help and blessings on all those in Houston and all of southeast Texas. May your spirits come to those in need, whether in the form of mental comfort or in the form of aid and rescuers, whatever they may need. Bless all those who are helping their neighbors, human and animal alike, that they may be safe, and that they may bring succor and safety to others.

Ancestors, blood of our blood and spirit of our spirit, we pray you give us strength – you were people who knew the challenge of building and rebuilding. As we enter the last phase of this storm, and move to facing what’s next, may we find your resilience and courage as we seek to re-order our lives.

Nature Sprits, you who are also displaced and affected by this storm, we pray you will be our allies, and that we can be yours. May we, as kindred of this middle realm, know that we are neighbors, and may we look out for each other as we rebuild, finding both our own place and yours after the storm

Deities, known and unknown, first children of the Mother, we pray you will give us guidance and comfort. Grant your wisdom to those who are helping, and your patience to those who have nothing to do but wait. As we move to rebuild, grant your strength to us all, that we may do the most good where it is most needed. Most especially, we pray that you who rule over releasing the waters will guide the last of these waters so that they will do the least amount of harm.

Kindreds all, we look to you now, and we ask that you bless each of us according to our needs – strength, patience, guidance, comfort. May we live our virtues in this time of trouble, and may we, as your kin, look to you now as we endure the last that this storm has to offer, and may we look to you always, as we rebuild and bring our lives back together.

Be it so!

And so we move forward. The storm is past, and now it is up to us to recover. To serve those who need help, and to piece together what we can of the old and create something new from it. (Easy for me to say, from my apartment which has power and internet working again already.)

My practice did not suffer for spending 10 days displaced, though it did adapt and change.

My runes for this week are:

  • Peordh – the dice cup, an uncertain outcome
  • Is – ice, stasis/beauty/danger
  • Ur – the aurochs, strength and stubbornness

The outcome of any storm is never certain – may you know when to be still and wait and when to fight with the stubbornness of the aurochs, that you may overcome the challenges ahead of you.

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I spent a lot of time this last week in contemplation, just of things in general. I got back my Liturgical Writing 1 submission, which is exciting, and I’ll be sharing it here, but otherwise it was a quiet week of offerings, prayers, and a lot of mantra meditation. I’ve been working on my Trance practice (not journaling it on the blog because it’s been a lot more of a learning process, and I didn’t feel like I wanted that out in the open), and working on what it means, or will mean, to be an ADF Priest, and to be a priest in general.

There’s a lot of quiet, personal work that is being asked of me right now – a lot of divination, a lot of meditation and prayer. I feel like I’m being “geared up” to do something bigger in time, but for now I’m getting used to a deeper relationship with Ing Frey, and what it means to serve a god of frith, a god of prosperity, a god of protection, a god of harvest. I wrote a prayer to him for my LW submission that I think I’d like to share, because it’s encompassed so many aspects of this deity that has become the central focus of my practice. (House spirits and ancestors always get offerings, but right now He is demanding a lot of attention.)

Hail Frey, Lord of the fields!
Beautiful lord of the Vanir
Golden of hair as the fields of wheat and corn,
Bringing riches of heart and hearth to the folk.

We hail you with the grain that springs forth
And falls again to nourish us.
We hail you, on your mighty boar in flight,
Lord of Frith that is bound to land,
You who can warm the cold heart,
Warrior without a weapon
Who give your prosperity to all of your kin,
You guide and sustain your descendants.

Lord Ing, Providing god,
God of the bees and the barley,
You who make the grain spring forth,
We sacrifice this, our first loaf,  to you
As the grains are sacrificed for us each year.

It is late summer here, and my plants are spent – in need of pruning, fertilizing, and resetting for the autumn growing season. In many ways, I am preparing for the inward turn that winter brings – but also the outward turn that is being asked of me in my work in leading Nine Waves grove.

My rune readings for last week were:

  • Wynn – Joy – contentment, having enough, being fulfilled
  • Lagu – The Sea – an uncertain time, one that may feel unsettled and uprooted
  • Sigel – The Sun – victory, good advice

Find joy in this time in your life, despite the upheaval that surrounds you in your path. Look for those who can guide you and give good advice, for theirs is the way to victory.

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My apartment got struck by lightning on Tuesday night.

Not in some metaphorical, I had a flash of inspiration, great grand things are happening sense. In the literal, bolt of lightning blew a hole in the roof and blasted through my ceiling, exploded a phone jack, and fried all my electronics sense. This was followed by a massive water leak in my kitchen (see: giant hole blown in roof during thunderstorm).

My apartment is, yet again, covered in drywall and insulation debris as a result. But far fewer things are truly broken or dead than you’d expect from a direct lightning strike, and tomorrow they’re coming to try to get the internet working again. Until then, I’m on my phone.

This journal is supposed to be one of recording my steps toward a domestic cult practice, and I promise I’ll get around to that part, but before I get there, I want to talk a little bit about intuition.

Tuesday night at around 7:45pm I got a warning that a tornado had been spotted in an oncoming storm, and to seek shelter. Normally, tornado warnings aren’t something I take too seriously – Houston rarely gets tornadoes. My town doesn’t even have tornado sirens. But I pulled up the radar, saw the storm (which had three little hook-like shapes extending out from the front of the storm) and thought… NOPE.

I don’t know why I thought nope, but I noped right out of there. I grabbed the cats, my phone, and a portable charger, and the three of us went to go sit in the closet with the door closed and the lights off. I was texting with a friend, and she was updating me on the storm, and at about 8:15, the warning expired. And still I thought… NOPE.

So I stayed in the closet, and at 8:20, lightning struck my kitchen. There was a blinding flash and a simultaneous massive explosion, followed by the fire alarms all going nuts and my apartment filling with the smell of electrical smoke.

I fled, calling 911.

(The electrical smoke was most likely from the phone jack that took the brunt of the strike. The cover is melted.)

I can’t tell you why I had the ooky feelings about that storm on the radar. I work through thunderstorms all the time. Hell, I’ve been through hurricanes. Storms don’t bother me. But this one? It did. And I don’t know what little part of my brain got the signal that my rational brain did not, but I’m glad for it. If I’d been standing in my kitchen making dinner, I could be hospitalized or dead instead of dealing with a construction mess.

All that, however, leads me to the second bit. The actual practice bit.

I have rarely, in my entire life, felt less like I wanted to do anything related to prayer or ritual practice than I have this week. I am exhausted. Exhausted on that deep, mental level that you really only get after months and months of burning the candle at both ends. I have nothing to give my grove. Nothing to give my practice. I am depressed – and not because of my mental illness (which I’m happy to talk about) but simply because some things are just utterly overwhelming and stressful, and dealing with that is hard.

I will journal this though. At least four months. No less than weekly.

Rev. Michael J Dangler is known to say “when you least feel like praying is when you need it the most,” and maybe that’s true. But this week, I have no words to give, and so for week 2, I am lighting the lamp, taking a breath, and trying (mostly unsuccessfully) not to cry.

Let that be my prayer for this week. I’ll try again next week with words.

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“Oh You Mothers…”

This is the prayer I use when leaving offerings for my own ancestors.

Oh you mothers, all my mothers

Those who sleep in heavy soil,

Those who went to death so weary

All you thought was no more toil,

Those who danced with joy and laughter,

Those who fought to break the chains

Though you’ll know no more hereafters,

Here a part of you remains.

 

Oh you fathers, all my fathers

Those who dream in wet, black earth,

Those who let their dreams go hungry

So that mine could come to birth,

Those who died in rage and sorrow

Those who laughed and wandered free,

Though you’ll know no more tomorrows

Your tomorrows live in me.

 

All of you who came before me,

Though I know your names or not.

All who added to my story

Giving blood or deed or thought.

Take this food and drink I give you,

Share it with me, take your fill.

Though your verses may have ended

Yet the song continues still.

– Christopher Scott Thompson

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(While rubbing hands under running/pouring water, say:)​

May I be pure, that I might cross through the sacred.

(Bring hands to face, feeling the refreshing, cleansing waters, saying:)

May I cross through the sacred, that I may attain the holy.​

(Stand for a complete breath, and appreciate the moment of blessings, while saying:)

May I attain the holy, that I may be blessed in all things.​

-Rev William Ashton

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