DPWOTY Week 3: An Essay on the Autumnal Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox occurs near to September 21st each year and marks the day in which the time shared between the light of day and the dark of night stand in equal balance. Known in some Neopagan groups as Mabon, it is a time to recognize efforts made throughout the year and to give thanks on what one has harvested through those efforts. It is also a time to reflect on missteps taken and consider how to do your planting, literally and figuratively, when winter passes once again.

In my Gaulish Hearth Culture there does not seem to be a particularly notable feast or celebration associated with this season apart from Diocomrextio or Tiocobrextio depending on your interpretation. This event, suggested to additionally take place at other times of the year, is focused on the righting of wrongdoings and renewing old or breached contracts. Evidence on the Roman calendar suggests working with several different gods throughout this time of year with Jupiter (Taranis in the Gaulish pantheon) coming up regularly. As he is commonly associated with the wheel and the sun I find this particularly fitting, as one might give thanks to him for the warmth given throughout the growing season.

I have been with my Grove at this time for a little over a year and as such have had the pleasure of celebrating this high day with them twice. Raven’s Cry often honors different pantheons throughout the wheel of the year but since I have known them we have celebrated it in a Welsh fashion, as Alban Elfed “The Light of the Water”. In this rite we would give thanks to both Beli Mawr and Llyr, of the houses of Light and Dark respectively, and give thanks for what we have harvested in addition to asking Llyr for support in His time of darkness and cold.

It is for both my Grove and for myself personally a time that is much looked forward to. In the part of the country in which we live the summer season (and a good portion of the fall season) is quite hot. While we do love the bright sun of the Southwest, the turning of the season promises cooler breezes and beloved most of all – rain. It is also a time of strong reflection after the busy summer season. It is a time to slow down and look back and see what worked and didn’t work. For me I find it a time of rest where I can reap the effort and time spent through an incredibly taxing summer work season and begin planning things for the coming year. With Samhain and the end of the Pagan calendar coming fast and the American Christmas season coming shortly thereafter it is a good reminder to take a breath and contemplate as the bookends of the year fast approach.

While my involvement in agriculture is nonexistent I still observe the harvest themes fiscally as the summer is one of my busiest times work-wise, so it fits nicely into my personal life rhythm. I also very much enjoy the increase in cool breezes and the rain, rare as it is, is one of my favorite elements of the dark half of the year. While storage for winter is not a specific need for our climate there is some preparation to be made for winter. Financial planning for potential family visits or end of year gift giving is smart, as is preparing the home for potential invasion by pests as the weather cools. It is also, of course, the time of year to dig out hats and scarves!

Should I have the pleasure of passing down any traditions from this time of year I would emphasize strongly the elements of harvesting, reflection, planning, and honoring the forces of balance as that balance shifts. With modern lives as busy and complex as they are having a definite season to put on the brakes, reap what has been sown, acknowledge successes and failures, and plan for next year is a valuable thing to have. Seeing and communicating with the spirits of light and darkness and acknowledging their role and relationship to one another, to the Earth Mother, and those who are nourished by Her, is just as important. I feel these are the key things to take note of for the Autumnal Equinox and a strong foundation for growing further practice around this high day.

All in all this is my favorite time of the year. Even in a completely non-spiritual context I feel that there is a calm and a comfort in the air to this season unlike any other. While in the past I rarely looked forward to this time particularly it always hit me once it was upon me how much I loved autumn. Now that I have an active pagan practice at home it comes with a handy holiday attached, allowing me to better acknowledge and embrace the magic that comes with the turning of the leaves.

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Revisiting the DPWOTY – Week 1

The Dedicant Path, while not required to be a practicing Druid nor a Druid in the ADF tradition, is certainly a useful tool for educating oneself on the history of Paganism, and Druidry and is a required step for those seeking to become clergy like myself. As I am incredibly rusty as a student and look to framework in order to ease my learning process I am looking to use Rev. Michael Dangler’s “The ADF Dedicant Path Through The Wheel Of The Year” which will provide reading assignments, homework, and guidance through writing the necessary documentation required for completing the program. It is my intent to use a portion of this Druidry weblog to document my weekly work and share my progress as I move along week by week, hoping to complete the course work required by the start of next year. Continue reading “Revisiting the DPWOTY – Week 1”

10/17/16 – The Oath and The Ledge

Today I renewed my Dedicant’s Oath before The Kindreds using my personalized Oath. It was a quiet, intimate morning ritual kept to simple offerings of love and a tiny LED flame as my giant cat decided he wanted to take part as well and I couldn’t well reach most of my altar with him on my lap. Still though, despite it being a little weird, it was a nice ritual. It felt good to do the Oath again, now in a more comfortable mood than I had been in months prior.

When I moved into meditation I called on Artio, who had previously indicated to me through the runes that she wished me to meditate, and asked her to join me in my mental grove to pass along whatever she had wanted to tell. The grove was unstable when I arrived. I knew I was having a hard time ‘tuning it in’. The creek was undulating up and down like a ribbon and I focused to ‘flatten it out’. In time the tumult settled and I sat, listening to the kayaderosseras trickle past me, feeling the grass around me. I felt very small in this moment, the grass taller around me than before.

Eventually I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. A tree had sprung up in the distance to my right. Another tree followed, followed by another. As the trees appeared so too did the earth below them pull up into a slope. There was suddenly an inclined path up off into the distance lined with tall, shady trees. I looked toward the grove as I knew it and then looked up at this new formation and willed myself to ascend the slope. I quickly reached a sharp wall of dirt that was too tall for me to mantle. I tried to get my paws up on it and could not. Perhaps I was too small at this time to climb it. I looked back down and the path back to the grove seemed darker, as night had begin to set in. I tried again to climb the ledge but I could not. Moments before I rose from the visions I saw some sort of thick, floating stone disc near me. I knew that a book was hidden inside it though I could not see it.

So as the tingles left me and I turned my eyes to the little battery-powered flame on my altar I called on Artio again, lifting my rune pouch. For my Monday omens I asked if that ledge was for me to climb or if I should remain down in the grove when next I visit that place. These runes called out:

Perpo – The Dice Cup

Fehu – Cattle

Ingwaz – Ing

As the runes were cast, Fehu was leaning atop Ingwaz.

I see this answer as “You are uncertain right now. Go and spend some of that pent up energy with others.”

Indeed I am perhaps slightly overtaxed with thoughts and concerns right now. I am on my autumn vacation and I’ve been making great effort to make it a low impact relaxing type of vacation but my sleep last night was riddled with static in my mind and my meditation today was equally rough. Bear-Mother asks me to go work out the fuzz, shake off the itchy, shedding fur and have a nice time.

We’ll talk again next time.

 

#DPWOTY – Week Two (Preparation)

It’s about time I got back on track with the WOTY course for my Dedicant Path work. Week two brings us to the First Oath. While it is true that I have been practicing and growing along the Druid’s Path for well over half a year at this point and, yes, at one point I scratched the surface of the week two writing, this weekend was firmly dedicated to for really reals reading and writing to get further along the program.

I feel doing the First Oath now/again is just as important as if I was fresh off the Druidry bus. Like one might renew their wedding vows after so many years, my understanding and love of the Kindreds, of my blessed Shining Mothers, has grown so much since I even considered the DP. The First oath of Falling Sticks circa October 2016 vs March 2016, I feel, is the brass concert of Senior Band vs 5th Grade Band. It has more confidence, more harmony, and a richer sound.

And so I prepare now, a re-dedication if you will. This oath is neither to ADF itself nor any members of the priesthood nor the Archdruid himself. This oath is a message of love and dedication to the Kindreds for whom all this practice is centered around honoring, nourishing, and befriending. What follows is my written oath, to be made in ritual once I have completed preparations:

“I declare, to all that will hear, to be a pagan, seeker of ancient ways, whom speaks with and gives of his heart to the Gods.

By this oath I set upon the Druid’s Way and make my dedication known.

I seek virtue, protecting myself and those in my life, that we may all know strength, joy, truth, and prosperity.

I seek piety, an ever-growing bond with the Kindreds, keeping the rites through the turning of the wheel.

I seek study, growing my love and practice through the truth of the elder paths.

To all here who bear witness, let my vow be heard! Let my dedication be known! Let the Ways be upheld! As my path goes ever on! So be it!”

While the framework is certainly borrowed from OOD I worked to make it my own, with words and sentiments that were comfortable and true to my vision, to my path forward. It certainly feels right, in this moment, but I fully expect to be stirred in the night with more… Or less words. For now… I sleep. Tomorrow… More reading!

Rune Divination Journal – 5/30/16

My rune reading tonight continued my saga of being warned about loss of the path. The runes fell in the pattern of an inverse Tiwaz, warning me of a loss of guidance. This path contains great amounts of old wisdom (of course) as well as strength, kinship, learning, and adaptability. Losing the way lies between a guttering flame and a joy smothered in chaos.

I came away from this reading with wisdom from my Patroness Nantosuelta. That she wishes to reinforce my bravery moving forward and not let myself wane in piety or joy, lest I lose my footing.

Which, of course, means introducing myself to Belenus very soon, cold feet be damned.

Dedicant Path Course Work: Through the Wheel of the Year – Week One

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.