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Posts Tagged ‘SDF’

I celebrated my Autumn Equinox ritual in the early afternoon on Friday, September 20, 2013. This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the CoOR. I used the Solitary Druid Fellowship’s Autumn Equinox ritual and devotional for this rite, since I wanted a simpler observance for this High Day. I brought silver for the well, incense for the fire, and a bottle of handcrafted ginger ale for the Spirits. As well as honoring Nerthus as the Earth Mother and Heimdallr as the Gatekeeper, I honored the Vanir as a pantheon for this High Day, since they are closely related to fertility and the harvest, which is celebrated at this time of year.

I did this ritual just prior to completing a separate ritual for my Dedicant Oath, and I was a little nervous about both. I didn’t ever really settle into a rhythm, even though the SDF ritual uses lovely poetry and text as part of the celebration. For it’s purposes, I feel like I celebrated other High Days better, and will spend more time on personal offerings when I use this ritual format in the future. Overall it was a good, if somewhat shorter than usual, celebration. I almost poured out ALL of the ginger ale in my last offering and had to remember to save a few mouthfuls for the blessing! That’s what comes of pouring offerings out of the bottle instead of out of my own cup. When I use my cup, I know how much I have to keep back for the blessing!

In the future, before celebrating this holiday, I will also take time to get my “fall” decorations up in my house. It doesn’t feel like fall outside, so having those decorations up (and in my ritual room) helps me feel the changing seasons more than the weather does. I will definitely be using the SDF Autumn Equinox devotional in my future rituals, as I really liked the poetry and imagery for this holiday. It stressed the balance of the Equinox, between light and dark, in a way that I felt was very meaningful.

For the Omen, I said “Great Kindreds, grant me true seeing that I may know what blessings you have for me.” I then drew the following three runes:

  • Isa – Ice – beautiful but dangerous – Something has the appearance of beauty, but danger lurks beneath the surface if you are careless enough to break it. Deceit may be nearby, or a time of frozen standstill. Things aren’t changing – they have the appearance of being fine, but are frozen. Clarity. Make sure your choices are correct and made with consideration and forethought.
  • Hagalaz – Hail – Destruction, death, an early Winter. Destructive, uncontrolled forces of chaos disrupt the natural order – but may renew that order in the end. Disruption of the unconscious.
  • Pertho – Dice cup, vulva, joy, uncertainty – A secret thing, hidden matters, an unseen destiny. Initiation and the unknown changes it will bring. The gamble that is any new beginning. Female mysteries.

Ensure that you know the truth of the situation, what looks beautiful may be hiding danger; the time of destruction is not yet over. The outcome is unknown and will result from your actions – roll the dice carefully, you’re treading on new territory.

Another warning message in the form of a blessing, I think I know what this is referring to – things have been tough recently, in new and different ways, and it’s challenging to go through. But I think the outcome will be good if I continue to work on it and myself, becoming stronger and continuing on my path. This is a pretty personal omen though, so I won’t discuss it further.

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I conducted my Maitag ritual in midafternoon on Friday, May 3. I specifically took half a day’s vacation for this, since doing a ritual after work seems to cause me to struggle with grounding. This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the Core Order of Ritual. I used a combination of sources to create this ritual, including the Solitary Ritual Outline on ADF’s website, a published Maitag ritual, and the Solitary Druid Fellowship’s Beltane devotional supplement. I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother, Heimdall as the gatekeeper, and Frey and Freyja as the Deities of the Occasion. I brought incense for the fire, but forgot the silver for the well (oops!), and mead and poetry for the kindreds and honored deities.

I am really glad I took the time to put together a ritual I liked out of bits and pieces of other published rituals. I still haven’t made the (seemingly insurmountable) step of completely crafting a ritual from scratch, but I added in some sections that I just thought worked really well from rituals I’d done in the past. I will continue to use that language going forward, specifically the language and hand motions I used to open the gates after invoking the gatekeeper. I totally forgot about using the two powers to feed the opening gate, but I will try to remember to use that imagery going forward.

That said, I definitely got little chills once I got the gate open. I think my greater familiarity with this ritual and my increasing familiarity with the CoOR in general is helping with my ability to connect. (I also am having a much lower anxiety level today, and that helped as well.) My grounding and centering took much less time than I’d expected to reach a stable light trance. My overall focus was good as well, though I didn’t maintain the trance state all the way through the ritual. That will take practice.

I also think I like the SDF calling of the Kindreds better than the one I used this time, so I’ll be using that in the future.

This was my first ritual with my new tools, and I think they work swimmingly. Instead of a ton of small bowls for offerings, I now have one large bowl to collect the offerings (which is MUCH easier to handle) and my new goblet works splendidly for pouring offerings out to the Kindreds. I also purchased some new incense to use, and I am extremely pleased with it. It’s available on etsy, and I can’t recommend the seller highly enough. There was a problem with my shipment, and after two weeks she shipped me a second one – rush delivery – to make sure I’d have it in time for Beltane.

For the omens, I asked “What blessings do you have for me today?” and drew the following runes:

  • Ancestors: Tiwaz (Tyr): Guidance, Justice, Navigation – The right direction, spiritual guidance, the path that leads to right action and justice. The cosmic order is being maintained. Things will be set to right, so long as you live with deep integrity. Willingness to self-sacrifice for the greater good. Victory and success.
  • Nature Spirits: Jera (Year): Year, the harvest, hard work – Each is given their proper due in full measure, good or ill. The golden crop, sown in the past, has come to fruition and is now the full harvest; the results of earlier efforts are realized. Natural cycles will always spin, and the year will always turn again, but for now all is well. The order of the cosmos is maintained, and everyone reaps the benefits of hard work and has a chance to build a new harvest for next year.
  • Gods and Goddesses: Pertho (dice cup, vulva): Chance, the unknown – A secret thing, hidden matters, an unseen destiny. Initiation and the unknown changes it will bring. The gamble that is any new beginning. Female mysteries.

When I set my rune bag down, the following rune “jumped” out, so I am considering it part of the blessing:

  • Gebo (Gift): Gift, Reciprocity – You have given freely and will gain freely in return. The cosmos is in harmony, and you are working properly within it. Sacrifice and generosity, and the balance between them.

Since I asked essentially three separate questions this time, I feel that I’m being given three separate answers. That the Ancestors will provide guidance, justice and navigation – spiritual guidance and the knowledge of the right path to take forward. The Nature Spirits will grant a full blessing, and my hard work will be rewarded. (I hope this means my garden will do well!) The Gods and Goddesses have a hidden agenda for me, but I am on that path, and they will reveal it in time. Perhaps that will lead to an initiation, formal or informal, in time.

Having Gebo “jump out” at me suggests that my ritual was well received, and that my work on it was appreciated. I felt good about this ritual, and I think the Kindreds agreed. All the omens were fairly positive, and I am encouraged about continuing to figure out where my next step will be.

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I was working on my Ostara ritual last night and just not finding the connection I wanted. I’m going to be using the full SDF ritual this time, instead of trying to piece together my own (more Norse flavored) rite, and I just couldn’t find anything that seemed to be working, from any of the Kindreds, for the ties to the awakening of Spring that I wanted to bring to my offerings.

So I went outside to my gardens and tried to find inspiration there, and it sort of hit me all at once.

Honey bees.

We talk a lot about honoring specific deities in ritual, but it’s always seemed to me like we could do the same with any of the Kindreds (or with a Kindred as a whole, like we honor the Ancestors at Samhain). So while I will still honor Eostre and make offerings to Frey as his energy returns to the earth and brings forth the first plants that will later become his harvest, I am going to make a specific offering to honeybees.

First, because I like bees. I’ve always thought they are cute and fascinating, and I grew up in a family that frequently kept bees for honey and pollination.

Mostly, however, I’ll be making offerings because right now the bees are in trouble (this article is a good starting point if you’re unfamiliar). Whether it’s from a fungus, a virus, a combination of commercial pesticides, climate change, or some massive combination therein, honeybees are in decline, and that’s bad. They’re a crucial part of the food chain, as one of the major pollinators that we have for flowering plants to become the vegetables we eat.  There are a number of theories for what’s behind Colony Collapse Disorder – a phenomenon that has been sharply on the rise for the last decade, where honey bees leave their hive and just disappear, leaving behind a queen and ample storage space and honey. The answer could be any, or some combination of all, of the factors – but the final result is that bees are hurting, and our environment is threatened by the lack of bees. CCD, combined with the devastating effects of a particularly nasty mite that sucks the life out of the bees, is just bad news all around.

So as a response, I’ll be doing both honoring of honey bees as part of the Nature Spirits that are important to this holiday (especially in my area, where everything is blooming *sneezes*), I’ll be offering some of the blessing to them as well. I’ll also be making sure that my bee garden is up to date and planting some new bee-friendly plants to help attract them. My main offering will, of course, be mead, but I’ll also be offering local honey and some sweet smelling flowers from my garden.

It may not be a *historical* way to celebrate Ostara, but to my modern sensibilities, it only makes sense to combine my offerings with my intentions and actions to help the honey bees.

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I did the Solitary Druid morning devotional this morning in my car. It was dark in the parking garage, and raining, so there wasn’t much sun to speak of, but I think I will continue doing them. I put together a little cauldron, a piece of orange fabric, and a tiny metal leaf for my traveling hallows – it’s not ideal, but they seem to work well in the car, and they all fit in a bag about the size of a pack of cards, which is perfect for keeping in the arm rest of my car. There fortunately aren’t very many people in the parking garage at 7am, so nobody will bother me!

Overall I like the devotion, though the “we are one in solitude” thing wears on me a little. I know it really appeals to some of the other solitaries, but for some reason I find it a bit… saccharine. If I don’t warm to it after doing it a few times, I may just skip that part and work only with the attunement to the hallows. Or edit it to be more to my liking.

I also definitely want to add a prayer to Sunna, and I found one that I like at NorthernPaganism.org

Morning Prayer to Sunna
by Galina Krasskova

Hail the rising of the Sun,
Great Goddess, Bestower of all good things,
Shining brightly, You traverse the heavens
Driving back the blanket of night.
Mighty Sunna, be my pace-setter.
Help me to structure my day rightly
With time to work, and play, and pray.
Let me not lose myself to the hammering call
Of all that has to be done.
Help me to follow Your rhythms,
For You are wise and practical
And Your presence blesses us all.

I’m going to write this up on an index card that I can keep in my car. Hopefully with a few repetitions I’ll have memorized it. (I may let my artsy side out and decorate the card a little too, since it will essentially be a prayer card, and that deserves to be pretty!) Even if I don’t get it memorized very quickly, I can add it to the end of my other morning devotions in the car.

Maybe I’ll make TWO index cards, one with the SDF devotional and one my prayer card to Sunna. That will be a fun little project.

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There’s been a lot of talk this week about Teo Bishop’s new project, the Solitary Druid Fellowship. It’s designed not to be an online community, but more of a spiritual resource for solitary Druids. There will be posted liturgies to use for each of the High Days, as well as blog posts – but no comments except on certain occasions (namely High Days).

I’m not sure what I think about their reluctance to become an online community. I understand that a threaded forum or email list isn’t everyone’s idea of a way to stay connected, but I’m also not sure there will feel like much of a connection simply through using a pre-created liturgy, especially since the liturgies will need to be customized to an individual’s hearth culture. (I also understand that the desire to avoid a community avoids the need for staff to moderate threads and forums and comments, which is a very real thing and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.)

On the other hand, having resources for working as a solitary is a good thing. I struggle with working in a vacuum, and it’s been the connection to other Druids, through the DP and the Discuss and Dedicants lists, as well as email, that have kept me thinking about my own Druidry past the initial period of interest.

Having a shared liturgy, one that uses the CooR, is an interesting idea as well. It brings to mind that idea of the Sacred Center, and of being in a shared “sacred space” when we’re all participating in ritual at a Hallows. I definitely like the idea of a shared practice, but then I haven’t seen the liturgy yet either.

I guess the part that makes me wonder how this will work as a shared path is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of opportunity for actual sharing. Yes we would all be doing the same liturgy (or variations on a theme, as it were), but without the chance to talk about it, unless they’re expecting us all to become bloggers, I don’t know that it will feel much like a community.

I definitely think it will be a good resource, and I’m looking forward to the various blog posts. I especially liked the recent post about how a community fire is fed by individual fires, and the importance of a solitary practice even for Druids who have access to a Grove. Cultivating a strong individual practice is something that’s important to me, and has been for several years.

Grove work is an odd subject for me at the moment. I’ve had trouble getting responses from my local Grove about much of anything, and I’d rather not have my first meeting with them at someone’s house (for safety and comfort reasons, call me paranoid). So while I have the ability to access a Grove, for now I’m essentially solitary. And I’m OK with that, though I do think having a community is important as well. I think best in conversation, and it’s important to me to have people to discuss my ideas with. (This is part of why I blog as well.)  I’m also paranoid, extremely uneasy in groups of people I don’t know, and reluctant to really settle into a group, for fear that it will not work out again. So I go back and forth about the Grove thing. Fortunately there’s no requirement to join one, even if there is one nearby.

Hopefully the SDF will become another resource to me as a solitary and will inform and guide my practice in a meaningful way. I have my doubts about it’s ability to feel like a fellowship, but I can see how it could become a very useful place and starting point for solitaries.

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