Monthly Archives: April 2016

ADF Dedicant Path: Nine Virtues (Courage)

Our Own Druidry defines courage as,

The ability to act appropriately

in the face of danger.

Merriam-Webster defines courage as,

mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

ADF’s definition is far too vague for me. What does it mean to “act appropriately?” This has a myriad of subjective interpretations, some of which might not even fit the definition of “courage.” ADFs definition seems to assume that everyone agrees courage is the appropriate response to danger. Virtuous behavior is subjective, so the term “appropriate” should be explained in this context.

The dictionary definition is better, except for its use of the word “withstand.” One does not need to withstand a dangerous situation in order to be courageous. If they die in battle, for example, they did not withstand the danger, though they may have fought courageously.

As with vision, the definition of courage as a virtue should include a willingness in addition to a strength or ability. A courageous and virtuous person should be willing to venture out of their comfort zones. This does not mean to venture for the sake of seeking out danger, but to be willing to encounter danger along the way as necessary.

ADF Dedicant Path: Personal Religion (Essay Prep.)

When I started out on the DP, I was already confident about my choice to follow an Anglo Saxon hearth culture. But I was also curious about the Norse and tentatively planning to add Celtic deities to my personal pantheon at some point.

Yet, as delve deeper into a regular devotional practice, I find that I am becoming increasingly more settled into the Anglo Saxon path. Even the Norse deity-names I held onto out of familiarity are fading from my tongue. It used to feel weird to refer to Freyja as “Freó.” The name was to foreign to me, but now I am beginning to use it comfortably. Mona I referred to variably as either Mani and Mona, with no particular preference. Now, however, I definitely favor “Mona.” Woden and Thunor were always “Woden” and “Thunor” to me, so no change there. I immediately used the Saxon names for deities who joined my personal pantheon most recently.

I mingled with Loki and his family for a brief time. I even purchased a devotional piece of jewelry for Loki. But Hel is the only one of his posse with whom I have remained close. I still wear my Loki necklace, though, to signify that I am Loki-friendly.

I have what I feel is a complete personal pantheon. I dedicate one day of the week to each of my Hearth Gods. I have also dedicated a High Day to each of them. Since I do not have a single patron deity and I consider all of my hearth gods to be matrons and patrons in a sense, figuring out how to handle praise offerings, especially in group ritual, was about to become a challenge. Until now, I made High Day offerings to each deity as I became acquainted with Him or Her. The offering was my way of acknowledging that deity’s significance in my life and formally admitting them to my pantheon. On a few occasions, I made more than one praise offering, but as I move into the future with a fully formed pantheon of 7, I need to work out a system for public High Day offerings that isn’t too excessive or exclusive. This is what I came up with:

Walpurgis/Summerdaeg: Fréo

  • Because she is a goddess of witchcraft and fertility.

Liða/Midsummer: Mona

  • At first I wasn’t sure whom to honor at Midsummer. Additionally, I couldn’t figure out where to fit Mona into the High Day rights. I thought about offering to Sunne as a default, but she isn’t one of my patrons. I also didn’t just want to fit Mona arbitrarily into a leftover day. Then it occurred to me that the moon and Midsummer are a perfect pairing. Sometimes I need time for such correspondences to occur to me. The moon was an important Motif in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. A whole play named for Sunne’s time of year, but in it, the night and the moon take the lead.

Hláfmaest: Thunor

  • My favorite high day paired with my first deity ally. He tends to be associated with all my other favorite things, so why not a High Day too? Also, this is a harvest day, and Thunor is a harvest deity among other titles.

Harvest Home: Frige

  • I was going to offer to Frige on Modraniht, which aligns with Yule, but I already have that time of the year set aside for Mona and Woden. Harvest Home felt like the next best option since it has a domestic feel to it.

Winterfylleþ: Hel and Ancestors

  • Yet another obvious correspondence.

Yule: Woden

  • Obviously

Ewemeolc: Eorðe

  • Because traditional activities around this time of year are especially Earth-Centric: preparing the land for planting and burying offerings, especially cakes, in the ground.

Eostre: Hrethe

  • Eostre is technically for “Eostre,” but the Spring Equinox when we celebrate this High Day falls in March, which is Hrethe’s month.

 

Nature Spirit Tarot: Deck Interview

OMG, you guys! I love my Nature Spirit tarot deck even more than when I first found it. I got it back in August, my first RW-style tarot deck. The artwork called to me. It was love at first sight.

But when I started to use it, I became overwhelmed with the complexity of tarot. I put it aside for a while and returned to my runes. Last night, I decided it was time for me and my deck to get properly acquainted. So I did an interview spread. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I’ve been afraid. I came across some interview spreads other people have done that indicated tough-love sort of decks, or decks that apparently “hated” them. I didn’t want to find out that the first ever tarot deck that called to me was going to be a difficult one to work with. But it was time. It was time to finally find out. And I am so so so happy with the results.

Here is the spread:

IMG_7764.jpg

Right away, I was stunned by the presence of three cards from my favorite suit in this deck (the wands) and three of my favorite major arcana cards (the strength card is my especial favorite from this deck). As I began to interpret the cards, I realized that me and this deck, we are going to be friends forever.

Here are the questions and my interpreted answers:

  1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?
    • Ace of Wands: I am the latent potential of your creative and spiritual development and a guide to mental clarity.
  2. What are your strengths?
    • II of Wands: My strength lies in helping you to learn from your past experiences and to build from them. I am your guide to new beginnings built on a foundation of your past.
  3. What are your limits?
    • VIII of wands: My strength is aiding your spiritual growth from within, not from without. Don’t expect intervention from an external divine source in your readings.
  4. What do you bring to the table — What are you here to teach me?
    • The Star: I am here to teach you spiritual wisdom and mastery of a quiet mind.
  5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?
    • Strength: You must use your own inner strength to tame the beast within and acquire the mental discipline needed to follow the path on which I will lead you.
  6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
    • You will learn to quiet your mind, to slow down, observe, meditate, and reflect before taking action. With my guidance, you will find inner peace and perpetual spiritual growth.

How lovely is all that? This is a very spiritual deck and will help me more with internal than external concerns. This is exactly what I need at this time. This is what I have needed for a long time. I have severe anxiety and stress. I can do very little without fretting so much about messing up, that I really do mess up. I am rarely relaxed even when doing something I love. I worry about perfection even when I am the only one to witness what I am doing. I really really really need to access my inner strength and find inner peace. I need to seriously chill out, detach from all the stresses around me, and get a grip. :p With the guidance of this tarot deck, I may finally be able to do this! \(^^)/

ADF Dedicant Path: Seventh High Day Essay (Spring Cross-Quarter)

 

The Spring-Cross quarter is most commonly known as Beltane in the neopagan community. It corresponds with our modern May Day and with the German Walpurgis Night. Although the Cross-Quarter days have more historical significance to the Celtic peoples than to the Germanic peoples, the most iconic element of this High Day today is the Maypole, which originated in Germanic lands. The original symbolic meaning of the maypole was lost when it was adapted into a Christian context, though some scholars suggest it had something to do with a reverence for trees or was representative of the world tree, Ygdrassil. Some even suggest that it was a phallic symbol, which would correspond well with our current understanding of Beltane as a fertility festival.

Unlike Eostre, which is also a fertility festival, Beltane celebrates the fertility of the people rather than of the land. This is a logical correspondence for ancient pagans, since the first major planting of the year would have been completed, leaving time for more personal pursuits. Even today, Neopagans retain these associations, despite not being as dependent on the land. We may not have to base our entire livelihoods on our crops, but many of us maintain our own gardens and have plenty of work to keep us busy in early springtime.

The Germanic counterpart to Beltane, Walpurgis Night, is named for the 8th century saint, Walpurga, whose feast was celebrated the following day. Although Christian in origin, the Eve of Walpurga’s feast was and is a night for pagan-based festivities. Germanic pagans believe it is on this night when Witches gather for a celebration on Brocken mountain. It is a night, much like Samhain, when the vail between the worlds is thin and marks the end of Woden’s Wild Hunt, which began on Samhain.

ADF Dedicant Path: Nine Virtues (Vision)

Our Own Druidry defines Vision as,

the ability to broaden one’s perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present, and future.

Merriam-Webster defines Vision as,

  1. the ability to see:  sight or eyesight
  2. something that you imagine: a picture that you see in your mind
  3. something that you see or dream especially as part of a religious experience

Dictionary.com also includes the following definition after vision as eyesight,

     2. the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic          vision, the vision of an entrepreneur.

ADF’s definition of vision is a combination of these four dictionary definitions with the addition of it’s own interpretation. Although it makes perfect sense to me now, the part about “relating to the past, present, and future,” gave me trouble at first, in that I associated vision almost exclusively with the future. After stepping away from the definition for a few days and returning to it with a fresh, and more vision-oriented mindset, I focused less on the details of individual parts and more on the definition in its entirety. Vision is about seeing the big picture and not losing sight of the forest for the trees. The future is an important part of vision, but it is not the only part, nor is the full timeline of past, present, and future. Vision, to me, is the willingness to see time, place, self, and other all in perspective such that one can and will make a wise decision for the future. My own definition is similar to ADF’s except that I think vision, as a virtue, should involve a willingness moreso than an ability. I also believe that vision involves action based on “a greater understanding.” Having an understanding, like having an ability, is not enough in-and-of-itself to be a virtue. To be virtuous is to actively use our understandings and abilities.

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