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!
Behold, the evolution of my altar:
As you can see, my altar has undergone a few changes since I first set it up. I’m still trying to keep the arrangement simple, although the over all look is definitely cozier than before.
I changed the candle style twice. The first candles were tea lights that were too short to be easily and safely lit within their wood holders. I replaced them with taller candles and discovered the hard way that different types of candles have different names for a reason. A votive candle != a pillar candle no matter how similar I think they look (#^^#). I briefly lamented my candle situation and thought that I’d have to do away with my beautiful holders. Fortunately, I discovered extended burn tea lights which are twice the size of the standard ones. Easy to light and the wax pool stays where it belongs.
The first offering bowl, pretty as it was, had to go because it became terribly discolored from holding water. I only ever used it for water offerings since that’s what I did my first rituals with. I replaced it with one, then two pretty tea cups – two for larger rituals which require more offerings.
I moved the incense burner off the altar because I ended up rarely offering incense. I tried in the beginning, but got the feeling that the Kindreds didn’t care much for the same incense as I. It now sits off to the side for personal use.
I also added several items. First, the pendulum I use for clarifying my omen interpretations, then a devotional mini Mala for Fréo, one of my patrons. And yes, i’ve decided to start using the term “patron” openly and comfortably. If I might go off on a tangent for a moment here…
Over the course of my time spent with ADF, I was at first eager to find a patron, then hesitant, then open to the idea but not in a hurry. My biggest issue was the general pagan-community’s understanding of a patron. Most of the accounts I read come across as much more of a serious priest(ess) type of relationship that what I was looking for. Outside of deity relationships, a patron is simply a person who supports, endorses, and/or protects another. Before getting too involved in the online pagan community, a patron deity to me was one who could and would offer guidance, wisdom, protection to an individual follower or community. A patron could be a deity that rules over one’s own line of work or one who has specific relevant teachings for an individual, whether temporarily or for a lifetime. But then I mingled with pagans online and realized that everyone else with a patron had made a serious oath-type commitment and was in über solemn service to that deity. I held back calling my patrons what they were for fear of ridicule online. But you know what? I’m so over that. Oh boy am I over that. Yes, there are many things I will keep private about my spiritual experiences because they are necessarily private, but I’m not going to be intimidated out of publicly expressing the non-private just because paganism is turning into a dogmatic-path-in-denial.
When I call on the Deities as part of my general invitation to the Kindreds, I say, “I call out the the Shining ones, my Matrons and my Patrons…” Because thats what they are. They are the small handful of deities out of hundreds, thousands of others who have expressed particular interest in my life and well-being. If that’s not what a patron is, then go ahead, call me a fool. But I do what I want. There are three of my seven patrons who are especially close to me: Fréo, Thunor, and Mona. I expect these three to be life long patrons. The others, Frige, Hretha, Woden, and Hel, may or may not be with me for life, but that doesn’t make them any less my patrons at this time.
Well, anyway, getting back on track now…
Because I have yet to put up shelves for individual deities, I want my current altar to have symbolic representations of my primary patrons. This is why I keep Fréo’s mala there. The altar itself is oak, and some of you may recall, I chose oak especially to represent Thunor. He was the very first deity in my life and my current gatekeeper. Speaking of oak, aaaah!! I’m so excited!! Guess what I got?? I got a baby oak tree for my front yard. I named him Atlas. Look at him, look how pretty he is:
Don’t worry, he has been properly supported since taking this picture. Yes, I know, the irony that “Atlas” should need support 😉
The dark blue ritual cord is for both Mona and the Star Goddess. The latter not a personal deity by any means, but she is the original source of ~all the things~ and if that is not reason enough, I have several more personaly relevant reasons for representing her there.
I keep other devotional items off to the side and place them on the altar only on the days I honor the particular deity associated with them.
Lastly, I added some crystals around the well. No particular reason except that I like how they look there.
I’m pretty happy with my altar the way it is now. I thought I might like to change the arrangement of the fire, well, and tree, but experience so far has led me to decide the current configuration is best.
Completely off-topic random info dump – because there are too many exciting things to share and not enough places to sneak them in above 😉
I got to learn how to make mead yesterday. \(^^)/
One of my Grove’s members is an expert brewer and has won some awards too. He led a mead-making meetup yesterday wherein we learned some basic techniques and started a five gallon batch for future Grove use. We got to sample several of his current selections. And oh my word, let me tell you, his lemon mead was possibly the best tasting anything I’ve ever had.
In other exciting news, I’m going to a goth prom on the 28th. Denver’s first annual goth prom. So so so excited. I have an awesome outfit and I got it in for alterations just in time.
And even more exciting goth-related news. VNV nation will be here in October and I am going. I saw them years ago in Atlanta when they were touring with And One. I love VNV Nation. It will be a 3 hour show 😮
My husband has another interview tomorrow. I’m really hoping he gets hired soon. I’ve done some candle magic for him and just last night, my friend and senior druid of my grove made him a rune charm to carry in his wallet. Please, if you can guys, send some positive energy my husband’s way. This job hunt has carried on much longer than we expected. We came to live in a metro area specifically so searching for an attorney job wouldn’t take too long.
Despite the little bit of sad I have over the job hunt, I have so many things to be happy for that I really can’t complain. Life is pretty good right now. 🙂
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:
- Because she is a goddess of witchcraft and fertility.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 is technically for “Eostre,” but the Spring Equinox when we celebrate this High Day falls in March, which is Hrethe’s month.
I didn’t begin my meditation practice when I said I would. Off to a bad start already! 😮 lol. I had good intentions that day. But then they day carried on and ended before I knew it. The next couple of weeks were consumed with stress and school work. Today, despite all that I need to get done, I made time for my mental training. I included it as part of my daily devotional. Ok, So I have to admit here that a “daily devotional” as such hasn’t yet existed in my practice. This is something I am also aiming to remedy, along with regular mental training and meditation.
My devotional today was slightly more elaborate than I plan for it to be in the future. But I wanted a more involved rite in order to apologize to the Powers for neglecting them and to ask what deity I should begin developing a closer relationship with. I was sort of hoping to receive confirmation that I am on the right track with Thunor, but also anxious to learn if I am ignoring another who would be better for me to work with at this time. I still feel like Thunor has been with me most of my life, but maybe I am mistaken. Or maybe he is there, but there is another I need to build a relationship with as well. There are still many questions left for me to ask.
I asked the Powers to indicate via a rune, which deity I should focus my worship on at this time. I drew the rune Wunjo, associated with the Goddess Frige, consort of Woden. (ETA: apparently it is also associated with Woden – he is a God I feel no connection to and I am too intimidated by him to start one just yet – if he is indeed the one I am supposed to notice, I feel safer getting there via Frige first). I can’t deny that her name hasn’t been in my mind recently. Also, just this morning I was particularly drawn to a beautiful piece of devotional jewelry made in her honor. But, skeptic as I am, I passed this off as nothing more than my usual “ooh pretty thing!” response. Never mind that I had put a Frige-related necklace on my wish-list a couple weeks ago as well. But I put it there because I liked it, not because of the association with Frige. All this time, I have still been strongly drawn to Thunor-related stuff, even to items I would normally not like at all. For example, Beth, whose blog I follow, sells ritual cords (among other items) on Etsy and I had absolutely no interest in them until I saw one she made for Thunor. I am probably going to buy one as soon as I get paid on Wednesday. Before I saw the Thunor cord, I thought the cords were an “other people” thing. Because my interest in these cords was based on the deity and not on the physical item itself, I took that as a sign. The Frige jewelry, on the other had, I liked regardless of its deity association and didn’t think to make the connection.
There is still that lingering complication with a goddess from another pantheon whom I feel drawn to. I did ask, during my ritual, that any non Germanic deity interested in working with me give me an obvious sign. In the mean time, I am going to focus my devotions to the Germanic deities lest I take on more than I can handle.