Category Archives: Paganism

My Year of Divine Consciousness

I celebrate the return of the sun on the third night of Yule; that being the night following the first day that was longer than the previous day. I prefer to “confirm” that the day’s are getting longer before I rejoice. In other words, I don’t count my eggs before they hatch, as the old saying goes.

Once I have borne witness to Sunne’s renewed strength, I ask her what her return heralds for the coming year. This is the first year in which I have practiced this method of yearly-omen taking, but I plan to maintain it as a tradition going forth. I take my monthly omens from Móna (the god of the moon), so it seems appropriate to take yearly omens from Sunne.

This year, it turns out, is the year of ᚩ (Ós). Ós is the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the Elder-Futhark ᚨ (Ansuz).

OS (The God) is the creator of all language,
widom’s fountain and consolation of sages
and every man’s joy and trust.1

After receiving the rune omen, I proceeded to come up with a theme for 2018 that embodies the essence of it. In the past, I’ve let my yearly omen set a tone for the year and act as a lens through which I interpret various events, but I’ve never actively used it to set my intentions or resolutions.

I really like the idea of a New Year’s theme in place of a resolution, so I decided to go that route this year. It took me some time and contemplation to come up with a word or, rather, a noun phrase that worked. I considered “communication”, “divine inspiration”, and “awareness”, among others, but none of these really captures the entirety of Ós. I finally settled on “divine consciousness,” having also considered higher/heightened consciousness. “Consciousness” assumes awareness and “divine” assumes a higher state of it. “Divine consciousness” reminds me that the breath of divine inspiration flows through me and that I, though not a god myself, am the result of an unbroken chain going back to the divine source. Concequently, I have access not only to the guidance of the gods, but also to that of my ancestors. My focus this year will be on developing, accessing, and learning from this state consciousness.

Because this is a theme and not a resolution, I have no objective goal to meet. I imagine it would be difficult to objectify progress in heightened states of consciousness anyway. But the theme will inform my monthly intentions, interpretation of future omens, and over all spiritual journey this coming year.  It’s going to be an awesome year!

Footnotes:
1. From the Old English rune poem as translated by Alaric Albertson

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My Morning Devotional

I never thought I would make it to the point where I write my own devotionals. But with all the druids participating in #prayeraday this month, I felt motivated try my hand at using my own words.

I begin my devotional as usual, lighting a candle as I say a Flames of Unity chant. The words I use for this are not the ones I find in most sources around the web. I first came across this chant on one of the ADF Facebook pages, but have not seen it written the same elsewhere.

I end all of my devotionals with closing words inspired by the Carmina Gadelica and as modified by Ozark Pagan Mamma:  “As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be, with the ebb, with the flow, blessed be.” I absolutely love this closing.

Without further ado, here is my current morning devotional:

*Light Candle*

Kindled from the great flame
Kept by prudent skill
Living on our common hearth
That these flames be one!

Earth Mother, as the light of dawn brings color to your horizon once more, I greet this new day in reverence of your power and beauty. I thank you for your support in this rite as in all things. Hail to you Great Mother!

By the fire of the gods,
May my spirit be kindled
That I might follow a virtuous path towards enlightenment.

By the deep waters of the Ancestors,
May my mind be asperged
That I might receive the wisdom of those who have gone before.

By the sacred tree of the cosmos,
May my body be rooted
That I might be as one with the spirits of land, sea, and sky. *

By Fire, Well, and Sacred tree,
I send my love, thanks, and devotion to the Kindreds Three!
May I navigate this day with Their guidance and be worthy of Their blessings.

Love and Peace to all beings!
As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be
With the ebb, with the flow,

Blessed be.

*at this point, I will ask via pendulum if any of the Kindreds have a message for me that day. I will then draw an omen (or omens) accordingly. I always take omen during major rites, but I think it is overkill to expect a message every single day. Asking if there is a message for me in advance helps to reduce the static that often accompanies daily omen-taking.

Feel free to use and modify this rite for personal use. Please give credit when sharing publicly.

The First Day of Autumn

Today is the day of the Autumn Equinox. The exact time of the astronomical event is 22:02 UTC (That’s 2:02pm Mountain Time for me). According to Google (and to my brother for whom Google is never wrong) this is the first day of Autumn. Although Google certainly has creepy mass mind-control powers, I don’t get the impression it has convinced most of the U.S. that this is the first day of Autumn. Popular culture seems to be in agreement that Autumn begins either on September 1st or after Labor Day at the very latest. Starbucks, another mass-mind control powerhouse (lol), delivers Autumn with the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte on the first of the month. The overlords of fashion dictate that we wear no white (read: Summer) clothing after Labor Day. Validating pop-culture Autumn are the dependable scientific minds of the Meteorological community, who, for ease of comparing seasons year-to-year, define Autumn as a static three month period neatly consuming the months of September, October, and November.

And then there’s me. A rebel among rebels, welcoming Autumn in August. My fellow Indo-European-based pagans should be with me on this, but it seems even among my own kind, I am not well supported. Undeterred, I continue to follow my own path. My logic blends phenology with ancient custom. The seasons are not as static as the ideological meteorologists would have them, but phenological seasons are a bummer to keep track of.

I, like the meteorologists, quite like a cut-and-dry static model for the seasons. As a pagan, however, I can’t help but notice that the seasons themselves don’t adhere to unequivocal models. They vary each year, but unlike the calendar dates of the solstices and equinoxes, phenological seasons cannot be calculated in advanced, nor can phenologists agree on an exact start date even after the season has begun. Way to be elusive Mother Nature! XD Even if we could pinpoint the exact first day of a season in a particular area, the date would be different in every region. Social species that we are, standard dates for celebration bring us together across long distances.

My first method of approach to seasonal reckoning was to stick with the ancient Celtic calendar (according to which seasons begin on the cross-quarter days) and back it up with the logic that, despite the weather, the longest days of the year should encompass Summer, the shortest, Winter. And yet, I couldn’t help but be distracted by both conflicting weather and conflicting opinions. What to do?

I decided to continue as I had been, welcoming in the seasons at the cross –quarters. At Hlæfmæst (Lammas), I call for Autumn. I bid it to hurry along because I have missed it so. Similarly, I may ask a particular season not to leave yet, because I am not ready. Not that I expect Mother Nature to adhere to my every whim, but the idea of it is in line with the way ancient pagans prayed for longer or shorter seasons per their agricultural needs.

As I welcome the onset of the phenological season, which may or may not begin right away, I consider the “official” start of a season to factor in the length of days as well as the cultural atmosphere. In August, Autumn themes begin to appear in the media, harvest decor creeps into shops around town, and people begin preparing for the onset of the full season. Autumn weather or not, the signs of Autumn appear in August, whether in the balancing length of days (which straddle the equinox) or in the cultural environment.

I may have been wrong to call August unequivocally Autumn in the past, but so too are others for calling it Summer. I witnessed Autumn begin while Summer continued. The cross-quarter months are liminal months. The secular world, too, acknowledges this liminality with Groundhog Day in February. If everyone is so confident that February fits squarely in Winter, then why the superstition concerning groundhogs and early Spring?

The cross-quarter months contain the endings ~and~ beginning of seasons. By all means, wish me a happy Autumn anytime in September, but don’t tell me that it didn’t begin in August or even that Summer is finally over now, as late as the equinox. My liminal-months model, while closer to Nature, still doesn’t box Her in.

Dedicant Oath-Rite Recap

I spoke my Dedicant’s Oath during my grove’s Harvest Home ritual. I completed my full year of High-Day attendance at Midsummer and had originally planned to give my oath during Lughnasadh. But as Lughnasadh approached, I realized I wasn’t going to have all of the required reading done in time. I decided to re-schedule my oath for Harvest Home. In hindsight, this was probably best. Although the Cross-Quarter High Day in August has always been one of my favorites, my grove always celebrates it as a Celtic Rite. Norse may not be my hearth-culture either, but most of the Norse gods are also my gods, so it was a better fit in the end. The patron of the rite was Tyr and the Gatekeeper, Heimdall.

Because I honor seven deities equally in my home practice rather than having a single patron, I gave separate offerings to each as well as to my ancestors and the nature spirits. I felt a little uncomfortable taking up so much time making these offerings. By the time I got around to speaking the oath itself, I felt like I had outstayed my welcome as the center of attention.

There was some confusion concerning when I would be giving the oath during the ritual. I got the impression that the officiant (who was not the senior druid this time) was not even aware that I would be doing my oath that day until I got there. This only increased my anxiety about taking up too much time. I ended up consuming all of eight minutes for my oath and its surrounding activities, which really isn’t all that long, but I felt like it was at the time.

I had all of the words for my praise offerings and the oath memorized. My anxiety about being the center of attention for so long was somewhat alleviated by the fact that I didn’t mess up my words. I brought a print-out of the text with me just in case, but I never needed to consult it. I had pre-planed the order I would give the offerings and the only mistake, if I can call it that, was that I switched the order of two of them. No one in the group could have known, but I picked up the offering for Frigg when I meant to pick up the one for Fréo. As I was about to speak my praise to Fréo, I noticed I had the wrong item in my hands. I froze up on the inside for what felt like a long time, but it wasn’t. To onlookers, everything ran smoothly. I hardly consider myself articulate on an average day, so some muse must have been with me that day to help all the words come out right.

I am especially happy that I have a recording of the whole affair, well most of it anyway. I probably would be writing a much more critical review of myself had I not the video to assess myself from a different perspective. All of the thoughts going through my head would be all I have to go on. I wouldn’t have known that my “very long time” was only 8 minutes. I wouldn’t have known that my words came out more confident-sounding than I perceived them at the time.

My husband was the camera man, as he had been at previous rituals since he, as an agnostic, doesn’t participate in the ritual itself. I always ask that he use my phone to take photos and to film. This time, he used his own phone, which had little space left on it for media. As a result, my post-oath omen-taking was cut off. When he first told me, I thought he missed more than just the omens. I was distraught and let it be known before apologizing to the group for inviting negative energy into the ritual.

I took omen after speaking my oath but before blessing the pendants I had acquired specifically for the purpose. I used my own handmade set of Anglo-Saxon runes to take omen and I asked the following questions:

  • Do the Kindreds accept my oath and sacrifices?
  • What do they offer in return?
  • What more do they ask of me?

The responses were Ger, Tir, and Yr respectively. Ger corresponds to the Elder Futhark Gera and Tir to Tiwaz. Yr is unique to the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc. I took Ger to mean that my oath and sacrifices were accepted but also to be a reminder that my oath is a lifetime commitment. As Tyr was patron of the rite, I took his rune to indicate that the Kindreds offer me their support; that they are present in my life and listening. Amazingly enough, the omen taken by the officiant for the rite as a whole was also Tir/Tiwaz. Tyr was definitely with us that day. Yr indicates that the Kindreds ask me to continue my studies and perhaps specialize in a particular skill set. Yr represents the English longbow, mastery of which, at the time the rune-poem was written, was limited to a select few.

After taking omen, I asked the Kindreds to bless two Thunor’s hammer pendants, one in silver and one in bronze. I got two so that I can always wear one no matter the colors of my outfit. The pendants are modeled after the 6th century hammer found in Kent, England. Up to this point, I had been wearing a Norse Mjölnir, but I wanted something specific to my hearth culture for my oath.

As I wrap up this final essay for my DP documentation, I feel accomplished and amazed that I actually did it all, but I also feel the sweet sorrow that accompanies the completion of any chapter of one’s journey. I may pursue further studies within ADF, in fact, I am almost certain that I will. But not right away. For now, I am going to focus on my hearth practice as it is and appreciate what I have accomplished up to this point.

OATH RITE TEXT:                                                                                                                                           I stand here at the Sacred Center to make an Oath to the Kindreds that I hold most dear to my heart. Beloved Kindreds, hear my call and join me as I offer up these sacrifices and give my oath as an offering in your honor.

 Mighty Ancestors, you of my blood and you of my heart, accept this offering and my good will.

 Noble Ones, Fae of this place, accept this offering and my good will.

 Thunor, Middangeard’s protector, you who has been my guide long before I knew your name, accept my offering.

 Fréo, beautiful Lady, you who has taught me much about self-love and respect, accept my offering.

 Hela, Mistress of the Underworld, you who has motivated me to learn about my ancestors, accept my offering.

 Frige, Queen of Ésengeard, you who encourages me to be self-reliant, accept my offering.

 Móna, shimmering God of the Moon, you who has been there for me in my darkest hours, accept my offering.

 Hrethe, mysterious Lady, you who has taught me never to give up hope, no matter how grim the situation, accept my offering.

 Woden, wise All-Father, you who pushes me to face the hard truths for my own good, accept my offering.

 

 And now, before all in attendance here, I make my oath.

I oath: to keep the feasts and observances of Saxon Druidry, following the Wheel of the Year; to seek the Old Ways and adapt them to modern life; and to keep the memory of my ancestors alive in my heart.

 These things I swear by the well that flows in me, by the fire that shines in me, and by the tree that roots and crowns my soul. Before all the Powers here, I swear it, lest the three Worlds rise against me! Mighty Kindreds, accept my sacrifice and oath!

Omens:

Do the Kindreds accept my offerings? Ger                                                                              

What do they offer me in return? Tir

What more do the they ask of me? Yr

 Finally, I ask that the Powers gathered here bless these þunreslecg pendants as a symbol of my devotion and a reminder of the oath I have made today.

 Oath offerings:

Ancestors – tea

Noble Ones – oatmeal

Frige – home-baked brownie

Mona – Sambuca

Hrethe- ribbon bow in yellow and purple

Woden – rune

Thunor – beer

Freya – ribbon bow

Hela – rose from my rose bush

 

ADF Dedicant Path: Book Review #3

Albertsson, Alaric. Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2009. Print.

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Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan provides pagans new to the path with a brief introduction to the practices of modern Anglo-Saxon paganism. While the author, Alaric Albertsson, references ancient practices and history for context, his focus is on modern practice. He is careful to note that the information he presents reflects the practices of his own inhīred (a group of practicing Saxon pagans) and is neither universal, nor indicative of exactly what ancient pagans would have done. Topics covered include cosmology, deities, altar set-up, Holy Tides, ritual format, and mead-making. Although broad rather than deep, the material covered is just enough to get the aspiring Saxon pagan onto his or her feet with a living practice.

The most frequent criticism of this book is of its cursory nature. Indeed, no topic is covered in depth. Instead, the text (hopefully) whets the reader’s appetite for more, provided that Saxon paganism is the right path for them. Someone new to paganism, Saxon paganism, or both is not looking for a heavy coverage of lore and history.

The to-the-point manner of this text is most-likely why it is recommended reading for ADF’s Dedicant Path (DP) program. The DP program does not assume that new members come into it knowing what hearth culture is right for them. This book is intended for those who are initially drawn to or curious about Anglo-Saxon paganism and who would like to get started with active practice right away before delving in deeper.

I appreciate this book for what it is, but by they time I got around to reading it, I was already certain of and decently well-read in my hearth culture. I came into the DP considering Norse, Saxon, and Gaelic hearth cultures. I purchased this book right away along with several others and used it for reference occasionally, but found myself fully immersed in the world of the Saxon pagan long before I picked it up for a proper read-through. For this reason, I sometimes disagreed with Albertsson, but my biases in no way negate the merit of this text. My disagreements were not over matters of fact or “correct” methods. For example, I recognize Hrethe as a different deity than Hertha/Eorðe, while Albertsson introduces her as the as Hertha. Scholars do not agree on this matter, so either view is viable.

Although short on scholarly details, I highly recommend this book to any pagan wishing to get their feet wet with Saxon pagan practices. Lore and history is certainly important, but at the heart of any polytheistic religion is a relationship with the gods, ancestors, and nature spirits. This book will get you started with building such a relationship, while providing just enough detail to set it apart as uniquely Anglo-Saxon.

 

ADF Dedicant Path: Book Review #2

Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2006. Print.

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Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America follows the rise of Wicca and other neopagan religions from their beginnings in the early 20th century to the present day, with especial focus on developments in the 1960s and 70s. While the story of Wicca itself is the driving force of the text, Author Chris Clifton could hardly ignore Wicca’s influence on and by other pagan religions, thus resulting in a well-researched comprehensive text chronicling the growth of many of the biggest Neopagan religions to take root in American soil during the 20th century.

This text takes a much needed comparative-studies approach to American pagan practices. Studies of pre-Christian, European pagan religions are necessarily comparative in nature, so too should be the studies of the neopagan religions inspired by them. There is an unfortunate tendency for followers of non-Wiccan pagan paths to distance themselves from Wicca as much as possible. It is this distance which Clifton successfully bridges by demonstrating how Wicca has touched, however indirectly, all American Pagans, from the “traditional” witches claiming a pre-Wiccan lineage to the reconstructionist Heathens who refuse to associate with the broader pagan umbrella, much less Wicca.

Although Clifton gives more attention to some (non-Wiccan) religions than others, with reconstructionist-based paths receiving the least of it, the over-all scope of the text is impressive for its size. Clifton, in fact, addresses this very issue in his introduction by means of a clever island analogy wherein he concludes that “to tell one story . . . is to tell many stories” (4). And hence, the story of Wicca becomes the story of American Paganism. Or rather, the story of a British mystery tradition which makes its way to American soil and evolves into the nature religion we recognize it as today.

I highly recommend this book to all Indo-European-based Neopagans, Wiccan and non-Wiccan alike. Don’t let preconceived notions or biases put you off. I, myself, came to this text with little enthusiasm. Had it not been recommended reading for my Dedicant Path studies, I may never have picked this book up on my own. I hope that my review can convince others not to pass this one by!

ADF Dedicant Path: Book Review #1

I’ve been putting off the book-review portion of the DP for some time now. I was/am not sure if I still plan to submit my essays for official approval, so it hasn’t been a priority. But I haven’t been writing anything else on my blog recently, so I figured I may as well write a book review.

Jones, Prudence, and Nigel Pennick. A History of Pagan Europe. London: Routledge,an Imprint of Taylor & Francis, 2011. Print.

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A History of Pagan Europe gives a broad but detailed overview of the culture, politics, and religious practices of pagans in Europe before Christian conversion. The book is organized more or less by geographical region. The focus varies from region to region, with some chapters focusing more on religious practices and others on politics, but the overall effect is a picture of how these and culture as a whole are interrelated. The authors’ primary aim, besides documenting history, is to examine how some pagan practices have survived the centuries relatively unchanged despite political opposition and forced religious conversion.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this book is its holistic approach to history. Anthropology, sociology, religious studies, and the cold hard facts of history come together to provide a vibrant glimpse into times long gone. This book is of value to both academics and neopagans alike. Although neopagans do not live in the same time as pre-Christian pagans, it is important that they have an understanding of the context from which the practices they immerse themselves in today come. It is easier to adapt old customs to modern life if we understand their original purpose. And since the purpose of religious customs cannot be separated from culture and politics, knowledge of these is also essential.

Having a long and arduous academic history (in comparative literature among other subjects), this book was not especially eye-opening to me, but I did gain some insight none the less. A lot of it was review, but review of things that I had forgotten. I had a basic understanding of the interconnectedness of all Indo-European religions, but it was fascinating to read the particulars, like a puzzle coming together. For example, I know the number nine is significant in Germanic paganism and is a multiple of three, which is significant to the Celts, but I learned from this book about a Romanian ceremony that lasted nine days and involved nine boundary points (190). It was the random, seemingly trivial facts like these that were of the most interest to me in this text.

I recommend this book to all neo-pagans interested in an European-based pagan spirituality. It isn’t a quick read, but it is worth the effort. A lot of information is contained in the 200+ pages. I ended up reading though the book twice. The first time was a speed-read in order to form an outline in my head to fill in during the second read-through. It may also be helpful to keep a notebook on hand to write down important dates, events, and names, since the book jumps around a lot in time and some names recur often enough that it is helpful to have a reference point. For those lucky few with a superb short term memory, notes may still come in handy for future research endeavors. Regardless of how one choses to tackle this book, s/he will not regret it!

Let us Tend the World Hearth Flame

I have a candle that was lit at the Brigid Shrine in Kildare. I received it as a gift from my Grove last Imbolc. I haven’t done anything with it until now. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I know it is sacred, something special, something I needed to hold onto. But my hearth culture is Anglo Saxon and Brigid is not one of my patrons. Today, however, as I was thinking about the post-election stress, about friends and family dividing over politics, about issues that I feel so small standing up against. I thought of that Brigid candle and felt strongly compelled to light it. A candle that holds the energy of a shrine to which both Christians and Pagans make pilgrimages. A place that unites people despite their differences; dedicated to a Goddess (or Saint) of inspiration, healing, and the hearth-flame among other things.

Brigid seemed like exactly the Goddess to call upon for matters beyond my personal needs. She is not my personal patron, but she is a one that my Grove honors and she is one I will now call on whenever I wish to light a candle for others. Her flame, to me, represents the hearth flame of the world. A hearth that unites rather than divides. We can and should still have our independent hearth cults. But it is never a good idea to segregate oneself so much that the “other” becomes the enemy.

The Earth Mother is host to the World Hearth, and Brigid is one of the deities I believe tends to it. In recognition of this, I dressed a new candle with Cypress oil to be lit with the flame from my original Brigid candle. Cypress oil is my ritual oil for Imbolc, the Holy Tide when I honor the Earth mother and, with my Grove, Brigid. I then invited Brigid to my devotional and told her my intentions.

I was nervous inviting a new deity to my private rituals. Although I honor Brigid in group ritual, I did not know how she would take to me asking so much from her privately. I lit the candle and spoke my prayers without any expectation. I prayed that she might inspire people in whatever way necessary to unite them despite their differences. I asked if she might lend her healing energy to my grandfather in-law who recently broke his hip and to my friends and family who are suffering from broken relationships in the aftermath of election day. I offered wine and I took an omen. I asked her if my request was received favorably. Her response?  The rune, Gyfu (aka Gebo), which means “gift.” I have heard it said that Brigid rewards all offerings to her. Perhaps this omen was confirmation of this. A gift calls for a gift. I offered her wine, but I also offered my love. My love for my family, friends, my country, and the world. My love that I give irregardless of others’ religions, politics, and identities. The omen I received in return yielded a sigh of relief from me.

Please, people, try to put love first. Don’t go immediately into battle while filled with rage. Try to see yourself in your would-be enemies. Try to understand their side. Ask yourselves if hate is really the answer right now. And, like I have said before in this post, do not think that condescending or smug language is going to be met with open ears. I know you are mad. I know you think you are right. But only respectful dialogue can bring another to consider your point of view.

ADF Dedicant Path: Personal Religion

I found ADF after having spent several years as a non-practicing pagan. I had pagan beliefs, but rarely applied them to my life. I had no altar, no garden, and no group with which to celebrate pagan holidays. Though I dabbled in Wicca and Eastern spiritual practices, I did so as I teenager seeking association with something cool and exotic, while lacking true commitment. Eventually, I lost interest in Wicca, but I didn’t know where to go from there. Eastern religions remained of interest, but a feeling of cultural disconnect kept me from fully embracing any of them as my own. I labeled myself an eclectic witch and pagan, but I felt lost in the sea of spiritual practices. Eclecticism was not right for me either. I tried to resign myself to a secular life, but I couldn’t do it. I returned to my spiritual quest in early 2015 with more resolve than ever before.

Having already explored Eastern spirituality and eclecticism, I knew I needed something more focused and culturally relevant. I first came across Germanic and Celtic reconstructionist paths, which were almost what I wanted, but I didn’t want to give up eclectic and neopagan influences entirely. I wanted focus with a healthy dose of flexibility. Fortunately, ADF offers exactly this. I don’t remember exactly how it was that I came upon ADF; I am inclined to say it was pure chance. At any rate, I knew almost immediately that it was exactly what I sought. I paid for membership and began the Dedicant Path (DP) within a week of discovering ADF’s website.

My first altar was a TV tray. I gathered up what I could find around the house to serve as the recommended altar items and set up my rudimentary altar outside under my Ash tree to give my initial oath. I was so excited to finally be doing, rather than just believing. The energy was notably strong that day. The sky was overcast and it thundered. Since Thunor played no small role in leading me to my Hearth Culture, I took the weather to be a good sign. It wasn’t long before I had a permanent altar set up indoors.

I began the DP fairly confident that Anglo-Saxon would my Hearth Culture, but I also considered a dual Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Hearth Culture. I decided to focus on one at a time, beginning with Anglo-Saxon. I became discouraged fairly early on with the lack of information available about Saxon paganism relative to Norse paganism. Even more troubling was the lack of community. Most of my online Germanic-pagan acquaintances follow a Norse path and the Grove that I joined focuses on the Norse and Celtic. I tired of having to translate all of my Saxon terminology to Norse in order to communicate with my Grove and on my blog. I considered going the Norse route myself in order to go with the grain for once in my life. This was a very short-lived consideration. I felt overwhelmingly compelled to return to the Anglo-Saxon Hearth. I feel at home with this Hearth Culture. I feel like I belong here, like the Gods (especially Thunor) want me here. It is still possible that I will integrate the Celtic pantheon into my private practice later on, but for now it is enough that my Grove recognizes it.

Although I have an especially close relationship with Thunor and at least one other deity, I have not formally accepted a patron. I refer to all seven of my personal pantheon as my matrons and patrons in the sense that I focus my worship on these seven among the larger Anglo-Saxon pantheon. Also, in the last month so, I’ve decided to decrease the frequency of my matron and patron devotionals in order to increase my focus on the other two Kindreds. A dedicated patron type of relationship is not right for me at this time, though I am not ruling it out.

Nothing about my spiritual practice is set in stone. I may return my focus to the Gods, and I may not. I might accept a single patron and I might not. I trust that the Kindreds will guide me and I will adjust my practice accordingly. For the time being, I am immensely satisfied with my paganism. I never thought that I would get to this point, but here I am!

 

 

ADF Dedicant Path: The Three Kindreds

The Three Kindreds of ADF Druidry are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones. Each of these play a different role in our lives, some being more involved with us than others. My own understanding of and relationship to Kindreds has changed since I first started out on this path.

The Ancestors: The Ancestors are the departed souls of our own blood lineage, of our cultural lands, and the heroes of our hearts regardless of relationship. There are many places our Ancestors might end up after death. Some are reincarnated to live among us once again, while others might be taken into the hall of one of the Gods to be of service to that particular deity. Therefore, not all of them are able to be of assistance to their descendants. Some, however, join the ranks of the Ylfe (Alfar) and Idesa (Disir), semi-divine beings who are able and willing to watch over us. Given that the term Ylfe refers to the entire race of Light Elves, our ancestral guardians might also be counted as one of the Nature Spirits, indicating that the three Kindreds do not exist as isolated groups with unrelated duties and motives.

I did not always take an interest in ancestor worship. This has changed significantly since joining ADF. I did not know how to connect to or relate to beings that I have little in common with besides genetics. I did not accept that blood should create a default connection between people. As far as immediate family is concerned, it makes sense that there is a connection because we live(d) together – strong bonds are bound to develop. I attribute my feelings towards blood ancestors to the modern world. Families don’t stay together the way they did a two thousand years ago. Even the nuclear family breaks apart as children grow up and move away. The ancestral bonds that the ancient pagans felt were likely a result of having remained in the same area together for many generations. The bond was more than blood.

Nevertheless, my Dedicant Path (DP) studies inspired me to learn more about my blood lineage. I am exceptionally fortunate to have a mother who maintains all of our genealogical records and collects stories about our Ancestors whenever she can. I do not necessarily feel a connection to every Ancestor she tells me of, but some I can imagine getting along with well if I had met them during their lifetime. I have learned much about where I came from and I feel a lot better about honoring those who had a hand in bringing me here, whether I can relate to them otherwise or not. Also, the concept of an ancestor being anyone who helped get me to where I am, blood relative or not, was one I had not considered before my DP studies. This too has increased my interest in Ancestor worship.

The Nature Spirits:  This is somewhat of a catch-all category for spirits who are neither Gods nor Ancestors. The title “nature spirit” seems self-explanatory enough. One would think it refers to spirits whose domain and primary concern is nature. Indeed, such spirits are part of the Nature Spirit Kindred, but so are many other wights. The general consensus seems to be that the Nature Spirit Kindred is the one least interested in, and sometimes hostile towards humans. I do not think this is a fair assessment considering the diversity of spirits which fall into this category. I’ve already noted above that some of our ancestors join the ranks of the Nature Kin, and the Cofgodas (household gods) are, by their very title, particularly concerned with human and domestic affairs. Considering that only a small portion of human spirits are part of ones Ancestral lineage, it seems to me that there must be as many, if not more Nature Kin interested in human affairs as there are Ancestors.

Because this Kindred includes so many different classes of wight, my relationship with it is somewhat complex. For most of my indoor ADF-style rituals, I have called on the Nature Kin, using this exact term, but I felt odd doing so. Though I know this Kindred includes more than the Landwihta (land wights), I have a hard time not thinking only of them when I use the term “Nature Spirits.” I noticed that Our Own Druidry refers to them as “The Noble Spirits” (42), in one section of the text, but this term too does not agree with me as it seems descriptive of all three Kindreds.

Since I already honor the Cofgodas at a shrine over my hearth and since any other wight of this Kindred, apart from the Alfar (which are already included as Ancestors) will probably not be present at my indoor rituals, it seems superfluous to call on the Nature Spirits for my main altar devotionals.  The Gods and Ancestors might keep an ear out for the call of humans around the globe, but the Nature Spirits are very much localized beings whose acquaintance we make only by visiting their domain. When I want to honor or make offerings to the Nature Spirits on my own land, I go outside and talk to my trees and other plants. I make offerings to the Earth before I plant seedlings. I sit outside and simply feel my connection with them.

The Shining Ones: These are the Gods and Goddesses and are among the most powerful of all the Spirits. As with the other two Kindreds, the Shining Ones do not fit exclusively into their own category. Ing Fréa, for example, is ruler of the Ylfe and may even be considered one of them by association. Some Gods and Goddesses are part Ettin, a race whose power matches that of the Gods but who are not necessarily allies of Gods or humans. Some still, such as Sunne and Móna, were even once human.

This is the Kindred I was most keen on interacting with when I began the DP. They were less obscure to me than the others, even if significantly higher up in the chain of hierarchy. I was familiar with their names and their stories. They are the flashy, powerful, and famous ones among the spirits. As I got to know my own personal pantheon and came close to taking a single patron, my relationship with the other two Kindreds also grew. I became less dependent on the familiarity of the Shining Ones and more curious about the others. I had hoped, early on, that I would be one of the special “chosen ones” of a God or Goddess. I must admit that I am the type who craves the spotlight as long as it doesn’t interfere with my introversion. But as time went on, my desire for this type of relationship lessened. I no longer hope for it as I did before, but I am open to the possibility if the opportunity presents itself.

I still hold devotionals for the seven deities of my personal pantheon, but not as frequently as I did originally. Initially, I had dedicated one day of the week to each of my matrons and patrons (I use these terms loosely to refer to the deities of my solitary devotionals) and held devotionals daily. I have recently decided to change my devotional schedule to every 8 days, so that I still honor my matrons and patrons on the days I associate with them, but I am not overwhelming them with contact and making subpar offerings. I also hope that the omens I take from any one deity every 56 days will be more meaningful.

 

 

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