Even though I technically ‘cracked’ the books open almost a month ago, due to travelling and being incredibly sick I felt like my proper academic work with the Dedicant Path coursework itself had not really begun yet. With my health taking a turn for the better and a good chunk of time finding it’s way to me this week I figured it was as good a time as any to really sit down, do some reading, and start documenting my process.
As suggested by my friend and mentor I am using Rev. Michael J. Dangler’s workbook “The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year” along side the Dedicant Manual “Our Own Druidry”. I’m fairly out of touch with academia and feel, very often, that I need a lot of structure to succeed with anything. I’m praying this is something I can free myself from in time, as I simply cannot picture myself truly growing in the future if I must rely on asking others all the time how to proceed. For now, though, I welcome Rev. Dangler’s work to help guide my focus as I go forward.
Concluding the first week of required reading a series of questions are posed to the Dedicant. They are meant to help expand my own thoughts on the process, the religion, and my future and serve as something to look back on as the course work proceeds over the weeks and months to come.
Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?
For years since my grandmother’s death I’ve been looking for a way to honor her and follow in her footsteps. I searched on my own for a while, finding myself at spiritual dead ends and loose practices that never truly felt right. When I was introduced to Druidry and the people of the ADF I came to realize that this was the warmest, brightest path I’d come across yet. Despite my inexperience and hesitation I quickly found myself drawn quite strongly to the ways and words of those I spoke to and read from. The work I have already participated in and witnessed is real and potent and has brought so much wisdom and strength to myself and my home. I now wish to devote my time to learning the ways, following the Dedicant’s Path, and perhaps even satisfy my childhood dreams of priesthood.
Is this a step on your path, or will this become the Path itself?
I am hoping this will be the first of many steps in my journey. I would like very much to grow stronger to not only better myself but the whole world that surrounds me as I, too, strengthen my bonds with the Powers.
What do you expect to learn?
I expect to learn a great deal of things. I expect to learn what practices best suit myself and my home and what practices those around me utilize to, perhaps, expand on and refine my own. I expect to learn history, that of my own ancestry, the Gods and Goddesses I walk with, those that they walked with, and the many Powers in the many pantheons that are served all around the world. I also expect to learn new skills that I have been sorely lacking in my adult years like gardening, cooking, and basic methods of aid to protect my kin and the Earth.
What would you like to get out of this journey?
I would like to say I have a strong grasp on many of the skills mentioned above as well as a strong, unwavering bond with the Gods. I wish to be confident in my ability to support myself and others, to be a healer and a guardian of life and happiness, and pass the care and effort that has gone into nurturing my faith onto others looking to a guide as I have.
Do you know where this path will take you?
Not as such, no. Until recently I hardly had a steady path to walk along let alone see down. I have my intentions and my hopes but I cannot truly say I know where my steps will land until I get there.
If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work this immediately?
Part of the lure was having something academic to broaden my mind with. I haven’t been in school for well over a decade and the idea of having a framework for academia that also follows a spiritual growth that I’ve been seeking for some time was very appealing to me. I feel, at this time, walking the Dedicant Path is the strongest start for how I, personally, learn.
Does it look hard or easy?
I must be honest much of it is daunting to me. I feel like a foreigner thrust into an alien world, surrounded by an untold number of religious practitioners with much more confidence and power than I could ever imagine to have… But as the days go on and I read, speak with others, and do the work, I find my hesitation weakening and my strength (albeit slowly) building.
Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?
Off the top of my head the book reports seem fairly intimidating. It’s been ages since I wrote anything like that. In general I have a bit of a fear of the process as a whole, as I am constantly dealing with a sense of helplessness and incompetence. I worry that I am and/or will be doing it wrong and disrespecting all in the process. But as I have told myself, and been reminded regularly, one’s faith is only as strong as one allows it to be. That, I feel, is my greatest enemy. My own uncertainty.
The easy parts of the process, at this point, seem to largely be those centered around documenting my process. Recording meditations, rituals attended, omens recieved and the like. Writing regularly is, as of now, not a 100% effortless and common practice for me, but I do not forsee it being particularly challenging. Famous last words, I know.
Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?
I do have doubts, as stated above… But they are my own to do battle with. Thankfully I have come to have two good friends and mentors who are excellent about providing me with answers to my many questions. I have faith that as time goes on and my concerns about ‘doing the wrong thing’ fade that my strength will only grow, my learning broadening.
In summary these questions serve mostly to reinforce what I already know regarding my hopes, strengths and weaknesses. My greatest enemy at this point in time is my own hesitation. I hesitate because I feel uneducated. I fear making a fool of myself before my peers and before the Great Powers I seek to walk with. I fear what I learn, what I do, what I hear will somehow invalidate my faith and leave me empty.
“You’re not doing it wrong.” One of the most resonant things I have learned in my teachings. I have been told that it matters more that you do. Our Druidry is specifically outlined as an Orthopraxic practice and I am assured that as long as I am persistent, honest, and do the work that I cannot be doing harm. Now I just need to tear that fear from me. Even if I have to excise it every single day.