An ADF Druid's trials, tribulations, musings, and victories

New Blog

I added an update to the previous post, but I realize most people didn’t see it.

This blog will no longer be updated, but will remain online. My new blog, Adventures in Dru-Witchery, documents my new journey as both Witch and Druid. Check it out at http://adventuresindruwitchery.wordpress.com! Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been doing some reading and thinking lately, and I’ve realized that I’m not really of the Druidic sort.  I am a Witch–not Wiccan.  I am not really interested in Wiccan ways with the duotheistic God and Goddess, though I will experiment with a Wiccan ritual later today.  I’m more interested in the “kitchen witch” variety of traditional Witchcraft.

I’ve been looking for a Path of magic and mystery.  I also enjoy working with herbs and candle magic.  I feel that books on kitchen witchery would be a useful read.  A friend suggested Ann Moura’s Green Witchcraft series of books, which I will get soon.  I’m also thinking about getting Garden Witchery:  Magick from the Ground Up, Garden Witch’s Herbal:  Green Magick, Herbalism & Spirituality, and Cottage Witchery:  Natural Magick for Hearth and Home all by Ellen Dugan.  This is more the path that I’ve been looking for and which drew me to Paganism in the first place.

I never heard back from OBOD about my financial situation, but I realize it’s perhaps for a good reason.  I’m not really looking for Druidic study anymore.

I plan to start a new blog soon, but I haven’t yet decided on a name for it.  When I have created it, I will update this post with a link to it. (UPDATE 11/16/2013:  My new blog, Adventures in Dru-Witchery, is now online!)  I will leave this site online, in case others might find it useful.

Blessings, Victoria

There has been a lot of inner turmoil for me the past few days.  I was involved in some drama on one of the ADF email lists, which convinced me finally to leave the organization.  I have been struggling for the past several months with practice, meditation, and other things.  I could no longer put up with intolerance of my five mental diagnoses, so I announced to Facebook that though I am still officially a member (my membership expires next year), I plan to let my membership lapse.

At this time, I plan to join OBOD, the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, though I am currently trying to contact the office to see if I can get materials for free because of my financial situation.  I have also managed to convince my mother to go with me to the local Unitarian Universalist church and attend Sunday services there.  They have a Pagan group that I would like to look into joining.  Finally, I have found a local British Traditional Wicca coven called Terra and Luna, that I will contact for further information.  I’m not so sure I want to go back to Wicca at this time, but I will try anything, as I’m no longer sure of my views of Deity/ies.

My world has turned upside down, but for the better.

Many blessings on your individual Path, Victoria

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rosemary1987:

Obvious Christian slant, but considering birds’ hidden or symbolic meanings is a form of augury, or divination by the appearance and movements of certain animals. Augury specifically with birds is called ornithomancy.

Originally posted on CNN Belief Blog:

Opinion by Debbie Blue, special to CNN

(CNN) – As long as humans have been breathing, they’ve invested birds with meaning.

They fly all over the Bible — from beginning to end — and they have a prominent place in the founding narratives of almost every culture and religion. They are not just bones and feathers. They are strength or hope, omen and oracle.

In the Bible’s first book, Genesis, God hovers over the face of the water like a dove, the Jewish sages suggest in the Talmud. In its final book, birds gorge on the flesh of the defeated “beast” in Book of Revelation.

Birds are the currency of mercy, sacrificed to God in the hopes of winning blessings or forgiveness. They bring bread to the prophets. Abraham has to shoo them away from his offering, and a pigeon accompanies Jesus on his first visit to the temple.

Jesus…

View original 916 more words

image

The mist is a physical representation of the thinning veil between this world and the Otherworld. Perfect for Samhain. I could almost hear the calls of the spirits when I went outside to take his picture. Photo taken by Victoria Laughlin-Casares, 2013

A realization

After some discussion with my husband about my Path and the fact that I feel so down about it a lot of the time, I’ve come to an important realization:

I am eternally indecisive.

I’ve known this for a long, long time, but it finally hit me that this applies to me spiritually as well.  I honestly don’t feel much of a kinship with Norse deities other than Sunna and Freyja.  When I worshiped the Hellenic pantheon, I didn’t feel much of a connection there either, except perhaps to Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory.  (I have been thinking of taking up worship of her again.)  What little I know about the Celtic, Roman, and Vedic pantheons doesn’t resonate with me either, though more research is perhaps needed there to make sure.

Craig pointed out that in the ancient world, deities from different regions were often worshiped side-by-side, like Isis in the case of the Romans.  Also, the peasants didn’t necessarily know everything about the lore that modern Pagans do.  He pointed out that there is no need for me to memorize the Eddas or the Homeric Hymns to be “a good Pagan.”  I am not much different than the average peasant in those days, and I need to come to terms with that.

I am currently waiting on some books I ordered.  One is DruidCraft by Phillip Carr Gomm, which is a synthesis of Druidry and Wicca.  The other books I ordered are about Traditional Witchcraft, a path I am interested in exploring further.  I think tying myself down to one tradition does not suit me well, and I shouldn’t hesitate to learn and grow within other traditions, such as witchcraft.

I have never been one set in her ways.  I go to sleep, wake up, get coffee, and have three meals a day.  Those are about the only consistent things for me, besides doing those things with my husband.  I don’t even manage to brush my teeth everyday, and a daily, full-time job just does not suit me.  Now I’m realizing that it’s okay to extend this approach to my spirituality.  :)

Blessings, Victoria <3

Today I got back into the habit of weekly devotionals.  The liturgy I used was the Solitary Druid Fellowship’s February Cross-Quarter liturgy (available here; scroll down to get to it), since that’s what I pulled out of my ritual bag.  I obviously modified it so that there wouldn’t be mention of any High Days and had a more “devotional” feel.

Here’s a list of offerings I gave to everyone:

Purification–lavender

Heimdall (Gatekeeper)–Oliver Winery’s sangria

Well–quarter dated 1989 (my husband’s birth year)

Fire–frankincense cone

Tree–sprinkle with water from Well and smudge with frankincense smoke

Ancestors–some “berry blend” loose leaf tea I found in my bag

Nature Spirits–lavender

Shining Ones–special Shining Ones blend incense from a fellow ADF member

Freyja & Sunna (my Patrons)–Oliver Winery’s sangria

Final Offering–also sangria

As I was setting up my shrine, I could feel myself entering an altered state.  I also get a sense of excitement when I’m about to begin ritual.  Throughout the rite, I felt very calm.  My voice seemed to resound in the Three Worlds as I did the first half of the liturgy.  I was confident and sure.

When making offerings to my Ladies, Freyja and Sunna, I apologized for not honoring them with weekly devotionals and asked they accepted my offering as both apology and praise.  I talked a bit about how each of them helps me get through tough times.

For the Omen, I asked three simple questions, one at a time.  After each question I pulled a card from the Vibrational Energy Oracle.

The questions I asked were:

Ancestors, what blessings do you have for me?

Nature Spirits, what blessings do you have for me?

Shining Ones, what blessings do you have for me?

Ancestors:  Dream Catchers, Nature Spirits:  Driving Force, Shining Ones:  Messenger

Vibrational Energy Oracle is copyright Debbie A. Anderson and Melissa Brewster, 2013. Photo taken by Victoria M. Laughlin-Casares, 2013.

The Ancestors gave me Dream Catchers.  This card I couldn’t figure out within ritual, so I am taking the time now to see what the deck’s author says.  “Without dreams, there is no future.”  That’s from page 31 of the booklet.  Perhaps the Ancestors are telling me to pay attention to my night dreams for I may receive clues about the future.  This phrase also seems to refer to the fact that every future starts out as a dream in someone’s mind.  I should go pursue those dreams.

The Nature Spirits gave me Driving Force.  To me, this means that they will compel me to do something.  Consulting the booklet tells me basically to be aware of my goals and to keep pushing towards them.

Finally, the Shining Ones give me Messenger.  This vaguely reminds me of my Hellenic days, when I honored Hermes as Gatekeeper.  Hermes is the Messenger of the Greeks.  Maybe Hermes is coming back into my life.  This card could also simply mean the Shining Ones are messengers of the Heavens and they will be sending me some important messages I need to watch for.

All in all, I feel like the Omen was pretty positive.  After taking it, I wrapped up the ritual and took the offerings outside, since my shrine is too small to have a fire pot in which I can burn them.

I feel so much better about myself and my practice after completing this ritual.  It is just what I needed.

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while–I got married at the end of September and so I was busy with wedding planning!  After that I started a temporary job which only lasted two weeks, so now I have time to post.

I completed the Dedicant’s Path of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) on March 14 of this year.  Last Tuesday, October 15, I submitted my letter for the next step of my training–the Initiate’s Path (IP).  ADF’s IP is a training program that is much more in-depth than the DP, especially in the areas of trance, magic, and divination.  I will also learn more about ADF liturgy and myths of the Indo-Europeans.  The IP is a very personal path, one that only I can walk.  I expect to be confronted with my deepest fears and my happiest dreams.  If you would like to read my letter, I will be posting it at the top with my First Oath and Dedicant’s Oath shortly after I finish this post.

There is a discussion period of at least two weeks after the letter is submitted to determine my suitability for the Path of the Initiate.  This time period will also see a review of my Dedicant’s Path work to determine if it is the required caliber.  I plan to begin reading for the course I plan to undertake first, Divination 1, while I am waiting for my letter to be approved.  I’m also getting back into weekly devotionals (finally!) starting today, later in the afternoon.  I will probably post a recap of the ritual here afterwards.

This past Thor’s Day, I did a divination with my new oracle deck, the Vibrational Energy Oracle by Debbie A. Anderson and Heather Brewster.  I’ll be honest:  the name of the deck, along with the booklet it came with, is pretty New Age.  However, I found the illustrations spoke to me in a way the runes and various tarot decks have not.  I mostly use my own interpretations from the pictures, and only turn to the booklet when I am really not sure of something.

Back to the divination.  The question I asked was:  What should I expect from the IP?

This was my result (apologies for the blurry picture; it’s from my phone):

Perfect Storm, Homeward Bound, Rain Dance

Vibrational Energy Oracle cards are copyright Debbie A. Anderson and Heather Brewster, 2013. Photo taken by Victoria M. Laughlin-Casares (my new name!), 2013.

 

I needed help with Perfect Storm, so I turned to the booklet.  My interpretation of this is that it is the right time for a sudden change.  A storm is perfect when all the necessary elements are in place, resulting in an intense natural phenomenon.  This extends to my decision to complete the IP.

Homeward Bound says, to me, that I will find my true spiritual home after completing the IP.  The IP itself is the Path that will lead me to this home.

Finally we have Rain Dance.  An innocent child is seen dancing in the rain without a care in the world.  The rain symbolizes the difficulties I will face along this Path, but I will be the child–delighting in the knowledge and experience I will gain about myself and the Path I have chosen.

I feel that taken together, the results of my divination indicate that beginning the IP is the correct thing for me to do at this time, and this Path will be difficult, but worth it.

If any of you are still following my blog, you might have noticed lately that I haven’t been posting much.  I’d like to offer an explanation as to why.

When I first became Pagan, I did rituals to the best of my ability.  I tried to feel energy while casting circles and visualize as I worked spells.  I called to the Goddess and the God and asked for help with various things.  I made charm bags and took purification baths.

None of this was very effective for me.  When I became an ADF Druid, I did the same thing:  performed rituals and other workings to the best of my ability.  I still couldn’t really “feel” the presence of the Kindreds during my rituals, or direct energy, or visualize very well.  It would seem to some that I am not a very spiritual person, then, since I don’t have many “experiences.”

My experiences outside of ritual suggest otherwise.  I often have flashes of insight or just happen to guess things (like who’s calling without looking at the phone, or how many times something happened to someone during the day) correctly.  I have also had real results come of my prayers, offerings, and rituals (like rain 10 minutes after I prayed to Thor after a drought), though I’ve never really “felt” a single presence.

What about all those Pagan bloggers, Facebookers, tweeters, etc. out there who beg to differ that you can’t perform effective ritual without mysticism?  I think they are a very vocal minority that make it seem like everyone has profound and intense mystical experiences, and that you’re “not a real Pagan” or “not Pagan enough” if you don’t have these sorts of experiences.  However, this vocal minority has affected me to such a degree that I now shy away from reading others’ blogs, Facebook posts, and emails for fear of becoming discouraged yet again in my own practice.  I have not been logging into WordPress much lately so I can avoid looking at the first page that comes up after logging in:  the Reader, where I can read the blogs I’m following.  It is these very blogs that have been contributing to my sense of inadequacy.  However, I will continue to blog about my non-mystic version of Paganism in the hopes of raising my own self-esteem (an issue I have struggled with for my entire life).

I mentioned above that my rituals are effective.  “Why?” you ask.  The answer is this:  faith.  I know it sounds very Christian, but sometimes just having faith is the way to get things done.  I perform rituals in faith that I am upholding an ancient bargain with the Kindreds, one of exchanging gifts.  I perform rituals in faith that the Kindreds I call during ritual are actually present, since I can’t really “feel” them.  I perform rituals in faith that they hear my words and receive my offerings, and in turn are pleased by them.

The bottom line is this:  religion is about faith, whether Pagan or Christian, Muslim or Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist.

Blessings always, Victoria

 

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