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My winter solstice ritual was performed on Thursday December 20, in the mid-morning. It was a bright, beautifully sunny day, and so it seemed an appropriate time to welcome back the Sun. Ideally I’d perform this ritual at dawn, but at dawn I was taking a sick cat to the vet, so the best laid plans didn’t quite work out.

This was a solitary rite, following the full ADF COoR. For this ritual, I honored the Earth Mother in an unnamed aspect; the Gatekeeper was Cernunnos. Sulis was the primary patron(ess) of this rite. I brought the following offerings: silver for the well, cedar incense for the fire, candles and cinnamon incense for Sulis, and a bottle of good hard cider for the Kindreds (as I can not drink ale or whiskey). The ritual, being for Sulis, is loosely based in the Gaulish hearth culture.

I was very pleased with this ritual. I felt like I had more depth and understanding of the COOR, and though I mixed up some of the offerings, I feel like it was a successful rite. (I forgot to give the silver to the well when I created the cosmos, but I rectified that after I lit the fire!) I’m finding a more comfortable voice to speak my rituals in, and I felt that adding inflection and feeling to my voice added inflection and feeling to the ritual itself. My work with increasing connection helped as well, as I definitely felt the portal open when I asked Cernunnos to open the gates. I don’t know that I felt a strong presence from any particular Kindred, but I did feel like I was doing this ritual with the presence of other beings. I also was more familiar with this ritual, so I didn’t feel as much like I was “just” reading it. Some of that probably is helped by my having put my ritual text in a nice binder, so I have something to hold that isn’t just print outs.

Things I will not do in the future – I am a little unsure if I’ll do an offering that includes alcohol at 10am. Since I used the hard cider both for the offerings and as my drink for the blessings, it was a little odd to be drinking that early in the day. I think I’d have been happier with just plain good cider, and leave the hard stuff for afternoon rituals. I also started out the ritual feeling rather rushed for some reason (probably because I was doing the ritual on a day when I was also preparing for holiday travel). I noticed it around the point of the Two Powers meditation and was able to slow myself down and really feel the energy of the rite.

Omens Drawn

  • Uath (Hawthorn) – Fear, Despair, Cleansing, Challenges
  • Onn (Gorse) – Easy Travel, Wheel, Movement, Fertility
  • Ceirt (Apple) – The Otherworld, Shelter, Choice, Vision

You are going through a period of discovery, and fear comes with all new things. This period will be cleansing for you, can be easy if you don’t fight the process, and will lead to a time of great fertility. Through this process you will gain new vision and wisdom, and see things how they really are.

I’ll admit that drawing Hawthorn is a little unsettling, but I think it’s fitting to the challenges that any new path will bring. It’s also a little odd to draw both “easy travel” and “challenges”, but if I take a very literal approach, it could just mean my holiday trips will go easily.

Overall, I think this omen is positive, indicating struggles now but a good outcome later. My instinct is to relate this somewhat to my search for a hearth culture. I’m thinking too much about it, and not letting the process of change happen. I’m actively resisting some parts of that process, which is leading to a good bit of fear. Also there are some Gods whose presence I am uncomfortable with, and one of those seems to be nudging me lately, which is definitely a bit fearful! Part of me wonders if I shouldn’t have thrown out my planning and done a different ritual, but I didn’t think of that until after I was done. Maybe I’ll do a second one and see how this other hearth culture feels.

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Recently I’ve noticed a trend of pulling the Iodhadh few in a number of readings. Iodhadh is the ogham for Yew, and can mean a number of things. It’s the “death” few (in the Celtic sense of death and rebirth more than the “you’re gonna die” sense), but it can also stand for the Ancestors.

That’s been the interpretation I’ve felt more often – that I need to be listening to the wisdom of the Ancestors. So yesterday I did a reading specifically to ask them what their guidance was. I lit incense and a candle as offerings, said a small prayer, and asked what wisdom they had for me, what perspective they thought I needed to know.

This was the result:

  • Iodhadh (again) – Yew – Ancestors, Death and Rebirth, Transformation
  • Fern – Alder – Protection, guidance
  • Luis – Rowan – Magical protection, beauty and delight

Persevere in your transformation and allow yourself to be reborn; we will protect and guide you to a place of magic and safety.

Perhaps I should be reading more as “death and rebirth and transformation” then. I suppose that’s pretty clear. (I almost get the feeling of “No, you moron, we mean death and rebirth. Really!”) The Dedicant Path is nothing if not a path of transformation. I’m hesitant to call this a reading that confirms I’m where I’m supposed to be, but internally I feel this was a reassuring sort of reading (as reassuring as it can be to get “Death”). Sort of a “stick with it and we’ll help you” message that is nice to get when you’re in the middle of things.

I also need to make myself some ogham flash cards. I’m still having to look up most of the fews. I know that will get better as I get more used to reading with them, but I could stand to speed up the process!

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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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