I began my (volunteer) transcription work on the second episode of Druids in Cars Going to Festivals, a new podcast put out by Rev. Jan Avende and Rev. Michael J. Dangler of Three Cranes Grove, ADF. This podcast is about various Druidic topics actually recorded in cars and on the way to and from festivals. This particular episode was about “A Drought of Work,” which basically means what happens when your practice wanes and it’s hard to get back on track.
I definitely could relate to this particular podcast. It helped me to know that even priests experience this feeling of being unconnected and like things aren’t working spiritually. I learned that having periods of disconnection is a cycle that is perfectly normal for most people, and guilt about not being able to keep up with personal practices is very common. I’ve felt this guilt for a long time before I started doing daily devotionals. I have found that starting daily devotionals this year (after being a Druid on and off for five years) really helps with that feeling of guilt and disconnection. There’s still a little something there that keeps me connected, even on bad days.
My husband is great at reminding me to do devotional if I haven’t yet done it when he gets home from work. Usually this happens because I’m either having a bad depression day or I’ve been busy and haven’t gotten to it yet. Rev. Dangler gives good advice when he says, “When you feel least like praying is that is when it is time to pray,” in the episode. I do end up feeling a little better after doing devotional on those bad days. Doing devotional on the bad days really helps avert the feeling of guilt that Rev. Avende and Rev. Dangler discuss in this episode.
I have very little experience with the practice of expiation–that of apologizing to the spirits and asking them for help to do better. I’ve done it a couple times before and that’s it. I think this is a good aspect of practice to keep in mind since I think it may help me feel better about missing devotionals occasionally. Making extra offerings alongside this apology sounds like a good plan.
The idea of divination being “a conversation between you and the spirits,” according to Rev. Avende, is one that I need to keep in mind as well. I don’t do divination outside of my daily devotionals simply because I don’t feel like I’m good enough at it to make much sense of it. I need to work on my divination skills to get more in tune with the Kindreds and the messages they have for me, and the way to do that is by doing regular divination other than drawing one card during daily devotional! I may switch up my daily draw during daily devotional. Instead of focusing on the question, “What do I need to know today?” as I shuffle, perhaps I will ask each Kindred and Freyja if they have any guidance for me today.
For example, I’ll ask, “What do the Ancestors want me to know today? What do the Nature Spirits want me to know today? What do the Vanir (I honor the Vanir specifically instead of the Shining Ones more broadly) want me to know today? What does Lady Freyja want me to know today?” This way the lines of communication are opened, I’ll get better at divination, and I will get to know each of the Kindreds and my patron better. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll ask each Kindred for their guidance after each corresponding offering (for example, after I make the offering to the Ancestors, ask, “What do the Ancestors want me to know today?”) or if I’ll ask the questions all together after I make offerings to all the Kindreds and Freyja. I’m thinking it might flow better if I ask after each offering. (Any opinions on this are welcome in the comments.)
I was also relieved to hear that “[t]here’s no shame in [losing that connection] and it is a cycle for just about everybody that you’re going to go through these times where[…]you’re just not feeling it” from Rev. Avende. I do feel bad when I can’t keep up with my personal work because it seems like everyone else is doing so much better at keeping their practices. I used to feel bad that I wasn’t doing daily devotionals but everyone else had a regular practice because I felt like I couldn’t manage keeping up a daily practice. (I’ve found this is wrong. I’ve only missed about three days in three to four months of daily devotionals.)
I will take Rev. Dangler’s words to heart–“…it happens to us all. No, it’s not a problem unless you let it become one. And, hey, you know, there’s support out there if you need it, if you want it. Reach out–the spirits will help and hold you on this.”