Monthly Archives: August 2015

ADF Dedicant Path: Home Shrine

I have been slowly acquiring the things I need for my Wéofad (altar) over the summer. I just received the last “essential” item this evening, a gift from my husband. Almost all of my alter items have been gifts from him. He is not pagan himself, but he respects and supports my own spirituality.

The altar itself is a three tier oak table, which I have placed in my study on the ledge that runs along the wall. I had the altar custom built to fit on the ledge. It’s not a lot of working space, but I like the aesthetic. For practical reasons, I can’t arrange the sacred center exactly as suggested by ADF. The candles have to be on the bottom shelf, where the open flame won’t be under another shelf. The tree only fits at the top – which is not too far off from suggested orientation – and the well is sort of in limbo for now. I have it tentatively placed on the middle shelf so that it fits in line, if not in perfect orientation, with the rest of the center. Eventually, I would like to get a Wéoh (representation of a divinity) to place on the middle shelf. Although not essential per ADF rules, Alaric Albertsson reminds me that it’s not a Wéofad without a Wéoh 😉 . When I get a Wéoh, I may move the well to sit among the three candles such that the candles sit as they are now, with the well directly behind them.

Home Shrine

Description of items:

The tree: a miniature artificial bonsai. This is the very first item that I received for my altar. Eventually, I’d like to get a couple more in order to change them for the seasons (the same seller from which the current tree came also sells a cherry blossom tree and a tree with autumn foliage). The tree I have now would then be for summer and winter.

The fire: Three tea lights in yew-wood candle holders. I love the natural and rustic feeling that the candle holders add.

The well: The cutest ever tiny tea cup with little feet on it. I want to get some of these tea cups for actual tea too. I chose a teacup for the well because I love tea so much. It seemed like an appropriate personal touch.

Offering bowl: A copper bowl with triquetra symbol. I thought the triquetra to be especially suitable for my alter since it has various neopagan, celtic, and germanic associations.

Other items:

  • A chime trio for initiating ritual or meditation.
  • The Sowilo rune gifted to me when I attended my very first ADH High Day (Midsummer) with the Silver Branch Golden Horn grove.
  • Incense holder for incense offerings.

Future plans:

  • place a decorative cloth or mat under the alter
  • obtain a Wéoh – preferably one of Thunor modeled after the Eyrarland statue (yes, I know it’s not Anglo-Saxon, but I like it).
  • obtain a chalice or drinking horn
  • add two shelves, mounted to the wall on either side of the altar to set up shrines to specific spirits or gods if and when I develop a close devotional relationship to any of them.

ADF Dedicant Path: First Book

There was no specific writing assigned for this week. My only task was to pick out my Indo-European studies text from the ADF recommended reading list.

I chose A History of Pagan Europe by Prudence Jones:

A History of Pagan Europe

I have no particularly interesting reason for why I chose it except that it was available on Amazon, the price was right, and I liked the cover. I’ll probably end up reading the entire recommended reading list on my own eventually, so the choices for my DP work are largely arbitrary.

In other reading news, most of my school texts have arrived in the post. Classes start next week and I am hoping not to fall too far behind on the DP during the school semester. If I do, it’s not a terribly big deal. The biggest conflict will be keeping up with requirements that have to be completed in a consecutive, non stop fashion (such as the 5 months of meditation work or all High Days celebrated in one calendar year). If it turns out that I can’t meet the official requirements because of school conflicts, I may or may not start over for the sake of obtaining recognition from ADF. I am doing this for my own personal needs, not a piece of paper.

Where Did the Summer Go?

It’s the middle of August, the hottest month of the year in much of the Northern Hemisphere, and here I am asking, “where did the summer go?” Maybe it’s a side effect of capitalist enterprise and the need of retail establishments to market upcoming seasons well before they arrive, but I tend to feel like I am already in the next season well before the last one is over.

I have a habit of paying more attention to the future than to the present. My whole life revolves around what is to come while I struggle to appreciate what already is. I suppose this can be expected, considering that I am an INTJ personality type. We tend to lose sight of the trees for the forest. Whatever I have in front of me now, I perceive in light of what it will become as soon as I obtain the missing pieces (literally or figuratively). On the other hand, one of my more braggable superpowers entails the ability to notice every possible detail Sherlock-Holmes style in addition to the big picture. Perhaps this is ASD related. With Aspergers and an INTJ personality, I couldn’t be more prepared to take over the world (I hear this is what INTJs are supposed to aspire to do 😉 ).

In a strange sort of way, I often feel like I am simultaneously in the present and not there at all. I forget to smell the roses, but I notice everything. Most of the time. Sometimes I really am gone. Ok, a lot of the time I am gone. As in, not in the present tense. But I tune in often enough to catch more details than your average Joe.

Anyway, back to summer. Or maybe I should say, “back to school.” That’s the real problem here. School is starting up again. Of course it feels like summer is over. Summer is hopelessly tied with the concept of vacation and if there is no vacation going on, it can’t possibly still be summer, no matter how badly I am melting in the sun while reading Hegel.

Speaking of melting, I certainly did plenty of that this morning. Yikes, was it hot or what?! Usually, if I can get out for my run before 10am, it’s not too bad, but today reminded me that I really ought to consider an earlier running time. I have to, anyway, with my school-year schedule coming up. I started running in the later morning because the mornings were still so cold in May and June. They’ll be cooling off quite a bit again soon and I will have no choice but to run in the cold. It seems I just can’t win. I get cold really easy and I get too hot really easy too. I have Raynaud’s, so getting cold is not advisable, but I hate melting too. I need very carefully calibrated climate control for maximum productivity.

I’ll just be grateful that I haven’t had too many run ins with wasps this year. A few, but I survived. I think wasps are the number one reason that I don’t like summer. If there were no aggressive flying insects in the world, summer could be my second favorite season. Or not. We’ll never know 😉

ADF Dedicant Path: Nature Awareness 1

I’ve been actively seeking out natural areas near me for months. I have yet to really explore what’s available far out of the metro area due to time constraints. I hear that there are some good hiking trails around Boulder, where I go to school. However, I don’t live in Boulder and driving there for any purpose outside of school isn’t convenient.

When I moved to the Denver area, I thought that it would be the best of both worlds – nature and city. Instead, I live in a suburb that isn’t conveniently located to much of anything city or nature-related. There are a few grocery stores near by, but I don’t feel much better off here than I did when I was in Wyoming as far as access to city stuff. It takes forever to drive anywhere in city traffic. It’s kind of ironic that I used to think the two hour drive from my old Wyoming house to Denver for yearly mall shopping was a long journey. Now I am here, technically in Denver, yet I spent two hours today just going to Whole Foods for groceries. One hour of my time lost just with driving there and back.

I’d say I miss Wyoming, but I really don’t. It was nice that I could easily drive out of the town and find nature without much ado, but the wind there was fierce and made being outside unpleasant most of the time. I also wasn’t terribly impressed with the scenery. It was flat and full of tumble weeds.

I was spoiled having grown up in Montana. I am terribly picky about my scenery. If it’s not Montana, it isn’t good enough. I miss it there so much! Most of my family is there. I might have ended up back there too if they hadn’t moved to Wyoming while I was away. After getting married, I insisted that my husband promise to take me back to Montana as soon as possible. I thought this would mean in a few years, after he finished school in Florida. But my family moved while I was away and being near them was more important than Montana. Then life happened, as it tends to do, and my family made it back to my beloved Montana before I could.

The promise is still pending, not forgotten. I will get back there eventually! I will have some land and a horse. And pretty mountains everywhere. ❤

In the mean time, I am trying to make the best of the Denver situation. In my old hometown, I could drive ten or fifteen minutes and be in the untamed wild. Here, I can find a few parks, open spaces, and nature preserves within a reasonable distance, but they are not the wilderness I am used to. No matter how wild a particular spot may seem, seeing houses and streets on the horizon is disappointing.

My DP homework for this week was to seek out a nature spot that I can return to easily on a regular basis. Over the summer, I discovered one of the few non-concrete trails of a substantial enough length for jogging in my area. It happens to be around a lake and nature preserve, which means no fishing, which is nice. My previous jogging trail was shorter and crowded with swarms of old fishing dudes with their fishing dude posses.

Today, I took some time to walk around the lake and observe the area more closely than jogging with headphones allows. The wildlife in the area is diverse. There are several species of birds, bull snakes, bull frogs, and coyotes. There are signs all along the trail warning about coyotes in the area, but I hadn’t seen or heard any until today. While walking access a bridge that I don’t normally cross when jogging, I heard a whole lot of racket coming from the tall grass. At first I thought it sounded much like one of my own dogs (who has a unique sort of barking and yipping), except in stereo. Then it hit me that it was probably coyotes. There must have been at least two or three in the tall grass. I didn’t make an effort to look for them since I didn’t want to draw extra attention to myself, but it was pretty exciting to hear them as I walked past.

I walked towards the lake itself and found a quaint look out area with several large boulders on which one could sit. I stayed there for a while and appreciated the light breeze while watching the ducks on the lake. On my way back to my car, I took several pictures:

Coreless Incense

As I mentioned previously, I ordered some coreless incense to see if I can tolerate it better than my usual Nag Champa.

It arrived today and I tried one of the two scents right away for an impromptu house cleansing (I got some sage for this purpose, but have yet to use it – and I don’t have a dish or shell to burn it in yet). I wanted to allow this stuff it’s full power over me to determine if it will aggravate my sensitivities. Carrying it around the house right near my face is perfect for this purpose.

Believe it or not, I have not needed to rush to the washroom to rinse out my contacts and let my eyes breath like I usually do after burning incense. This is fantastic news. I am a little sad that I can’t get my beloved Nag Champa as a coreless, but the Vanilla that I purchased from pureincenceandoils.com is NagChampa-esque. It is vaguely reminiscent of the generic new-age store smell. The other scent I purchased is called “raindrops.” I haven’t burned it yet, but the stick smells like your usual, commercial, febreze-type air freshener. Not necessarily a bad smell, if you are into that kind of scent. The website sells over 40 different coreless scents and there are also some highly recommended Japanese-brand coreless sticks, so I have plenty of options.

I was going to go with Japanese incense originally, but I went with the brand i did because the containers come with these nifty adaptors that fit into standard incense holders in order to accommodate a thicker end. Here’s a picture:

Incense in Holder

My other issue with incense, of course, is health related. Just because I’m not physically suffering at the moment doesn’t mean it’s good for me. I usually reason that if I am going to do something unhealthy, it better be damn-good and near nirvanic. This is why I don’t get it when other people eat a sub-par sweet and say, it was “OK.” Seriously, if I am going to dump a bunch of sugar and/or food coloring into my body – that sweet better be the best (I am very picky about my sweets). Now that I have found an incense that isn’t physically unpleasant to use, I will make the occasional exception to my usual good-health habits in order to burn it.

It is nice that I can easily break these sticks to burn shorter portions, or even flip a full stick over to smother the end in the adaptor when I am done with it.

if any of you are considering buying incense from the same place as I, you should know that the end of the adaptor that fits into the holder is a screw – so it might enlarge the hole on your holder a little when you twist it for a secure fit. You’ll probably want to dedicate a holder just for use with the adaptor.

i’m quite pleased to have found an incense that I can use. 🙂

ADF Dedicant Path: First High Day Recap (Lughnasadh)

ADF Lughnasadh Altar

I celebrated Lughnasadh with the Silver Branch Golden Horn (SBGH) grove on August 4th.

The rite was Celtic and honored the god Lugh as patron. The sea-god Manannán mac Lir was the gatekeeper.

Before beginning, our senior druid told us about the god Lugh for the benefit of new members or anyone not familiar with Celtic lore.

For my own part, I gave silent praise offerings to my ancestors and to a particular deity with whom I tentatively wish to establish a relationship. I’ve been actively shutting out my affinity for this deity until now since she is not of my hearth culture. But I decided that it can’t hurt to open myself up to communication and see where it goes.

This rite included a supplemental working, wherein we each got to hit a piñata representation of the one-eyed giant, Balor, who represented a personal obstacle which would prevent us from harvesting the fruits of upcoming endeavors. The piñata was filled with candy and runes. We each grabbed a few runes, without first looking at what they were.

I picked up Mannaz, Eihwaz, and Inguz. I also drew Eihwaz and Inguz during my solitary First Oath ritual. Apparently the powers are really trying to tell me something, I just don’t know exactly what it is yet, but both of these are positive runes, so I am encouraged. Eihwaz is a rune of stability and longevity. It is old, mysterious, and reliable. Whatever it is I need to learn from it, I get the impression that I have time to work it out.

The omen (rune) drawn for the group as a whole was Wunjo. We accidentally did the supplemental working before receiving blessing since our leader forgot his script guide, but the ritual ran smoothly otherwise and the omen of Wunjo can’t be interpreted as anything but positive.

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