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

Archive for the ‘ADF’ Category

Devotional Omen for 4/5/2015

First off, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Easter, even though it is a Christian holiday.  If you’re like me, you still have family who celebrates and familial obligations require you to celebrate alongside your family.  If you prefer not to celebrate Easter, then have a happy day!  Spring is upon us!

I had a special altar set up for today, since yesterday I bought some tulips at the grocery:

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Our tulips served as the Tree, a candle as the Fire, and a small cauldron filled with water as the Well.  My husband’s and my blessing cups are in front.  The omen is on the left side in front of the little bag, and the bowl contains our offerings that we made during the ritual.  The white sage bundle was used to smudge the altar and ourselves before the ritual started.

We used the brief ritual liturgy from the Solitary Druid Fellowship.  As soon as I sat down next to my husband to perform the ritual, I felt a shift in awareness take place.  I also noticed (for the first time) that as I read the words for grounding and centering I visualized what I was saying.  I’ve never had that happen to me in a ritual before, so that must mean I’m getting better at it.

We offered bread to the Earth Mother and Ancestors, garden sage for the Nature Spirits, mead for Heimdall (our Gatekeeper), Freyja, Sunna, and the Shining Ones in genera, and Yukon Jack whiskey for the final offering.

Our omen was as follows:

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The Ancestors gave us Wunjo, on the left, which is joy.  The Nature Spirits gave us Hagalaz, hail.  I see Hagalaz as a rune of something oppressive “melting” into something of benefit.  The Gods and Goddesses gave us Thurisaz, thorn, and a rune of Thor.  Overall, I see this as a positive omen, though Hagalaz portends caution.

I wasn’t feeling well last week, so I hadn’t done ritual.  As a result, my week wasn’t as good.  I found myself in a sad mood more than usual during the week.  I made sure to find time today to perform ritual even though my husband and I had to spend time with our families today for Easter.  I feel confident that my week will be better this time around.

Blessings, Rosemary

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On Being a Solitary Druid

Sometimes it’s nice to be solitary.  The lack of other people in your practice means that you can practice however you want, whenever you want.  You can be as eclectic and ecstatic as you like; you can honor the beings you wish.  However, solitary Druidry is lonely.  There is no one to share rites, joys, and sorrows with.  There is no one to talk to about the vision or flash of insight you had one night.

Though I am a member of Ar nDraoicht Fein, I choose to practice as a solitary.  This is for various personal reasons.  Being a solitary member of a Druidic organization does have its perks.  There are other people to chat with and ask questions of.  There are clergy who can support you in tough times. There is one major disadvantage:  the cliquish nature of groves (local congregations).

Groves are where all the action happens.  They host rituals at festivals, workshops, study groups, and more.  The people in a grove are usually kind to us solitaries, as they understand some of us just prefer to work alone.  I call them cliquish because I was recently in an organization-wide chat where many of the participants were in the same grove.  They chatted amongst themselves without bothering to try to talk to the other people there.  Since the majority of ADF’s members are in groves (or protogroves, basically a small congregation just forming), solitaries tend to get forgotten a lot.  The Solitary Druid Fellowship was one attempt to remedy this situation, but, as far as I can tell, has made little difference.

It is difficult to be a solitary Druid.  I hope that perhaps I can make a difference for fellow solitaries.  One idea I have is to offer virtual study sessions (something some of the larger groves offer in person), either through text or video chat.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Blessings, Rosemary

Devotional Omen for 3/15/2015

Today I performed my first ritual that follows the ADF Core Order of Ritual in more than a year.  I used a basic liturgy available from the Solitary Druid Fellowship (SDF) website.  My husband and I performed the rite together.  We offered bread to the Earth Mother and Nature Spirits, coffee to the Ancestors, mead for Heimdall (our Gatekeeper), Freyja, Sunna, the Shining Ones in general, and homegrown dried thyme for Cerridwen (who has drawn my attention lately).  We also used mead for the Final Offering.  I must admit, it felt very familiar and comforting to perform the rite.  I am confident the Kindreds (Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities) appreciated it.  Here was our Omen:

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The rune on the left, Berkano, is the Omen from the Ancestors.  Berkano stands for feminine strength, grace, and wisdom.  The Nature Spirits gave us Wunjo, joy, in the middle.  Finally, the Shining Ones gave us Nauthiz on the right.  I am struggling to interpret this rune.  Nauthiz is a rune of necessity, so perhaps we will be forced to deal with something that needs dealing with or doing something that has to be done.

Blessings, Rosemary

Revisiting Druidry

I recently rejoined the Pagan Druid organization Ar nDraiocht Fein:  A Druid Fellowship.  At first I was apprehensive about returning because I had some unsavory social interactions with other members in the past.  I had also begun to struggle with ritual and other practices of the Druidic Path.  I decided to come back to ADF after more than a year because I had felt a pulling to read more about Druids of old and to study Indo-European mythology more in depth.  Now that I am back, I realized I missed the community, even though I felt it had treated me badly at times.  I missed the Druid Way and the beauty to be found in it.  I also wanted to complete some of the study programs available to ADF members.  For the most part, I am happy to be back.  I am still somewhat apprehensive about the social aspect of membership, but I am glad to have returned home.  We’ll see in the coming weeks if I am welcomed with open arms.

Blessings, Rosemary

A feeling of peace

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

An Initiate’s Path

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.

My casting cloth is finished!

I was finally able to finish my casting cloth yesterday.  Here’s a picture:

finished casting cloth

The silver triskele primarily represents (in this instance) the three Hallows (Fire, Well, and Tree), which form the Sacred Center of ritual.  In case you can’t tell, the Tree is at the top, the Fire is at the bottom left, and the Well–a waterfall–is at the bottom right.  The dividers between the three sections represent the Three Realms–grass for Land, clouds for Sky, and waves for Sea.  In ADF tradition, each of these Realms and Hallows is associated with different groups of beings:  Land & Tree with Nature Spirits; Sky & Fire with Gods and Goddesses; Sea & Well with Ancestors.  (If you would like more information, please see this post.)

As you can see, though the design is simple, a ton of meaning is embedded in my cloth.  I gave an example of how this would work in a previous post, though I can give another example.  Say the hammer landed near the Tree with the raincloud.  The raincloud normally means depression or sadness, but in this instance I would take it to mean a storm (since it’s in the Land section).  The hammer would mean that the Nature Spirits would protect me from this storm.  It is very hard to explain theoretical examples without actually trying it out, though.

I will bless the cards and cloth during a full ritual today, then try the set later to get a feel for how it works.  I will probably post a picture of the results.

Many blessings, Victoria

Opportunity lost, knowledge gained

I lost the election for ADF Members’ Advocate.  I’m not really surprised.  People perceive me as arrogant and selfish, though I’ve explained that I am not that way intentionally.  Somehow I managed to get 14% of the votes, which was somewhere around 300 votes (each member gets multiple votes).  I’ve never gotten that many votes for anything in my life.  I ended up in third place, behind the other two candidates, but ahead of random write-in votes.

This is an opportunity that I have lost to serve ADF and the Mother Grove.  Despite this, I have learned a lot about myself and online forums.  I learned that I should just keep my mouth shut most of the time.  You hardly ever see the person on who won the position for which I ran.  I learned that not everyone is ready for a leader who speaks her mind online (the capacity in which I am known).

Though I lost, I wanted to show people that I’m not a sore loser and congratulated the winners through mailing lists and Facebook.  I thanked the people who voted for me and ADF for giving me the opportunity.  I ended my message by stating, “May we all help make Isaac’s Vision a reality.”

My loss also means that I can mentor people currently working on the Dedicant’s Path, since I won’t be overwhelmed with a Mother Grove position while trying to learn how to mentor.  I hope to begin learning how to mentor soon.

May you all be blessed, Victoria

F – Fertility

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I had a terrible time sleeping last night, so I’m going to use the extra time I have this morning to catch up on my Pagan Blog Project post.  This week, I’m writing about Fertility.  Fertility can be more than just having children; it can also be fertility of mind, body, and spirit.

I explain this more fully in my essay written on Fertility for ADF’s Dedicant’s Path (DP):

The Dedicant’s Guide* defines Fertility as “[b]ounty of mind, body[,] and spirit involving creativity and industry, an appreciation of the physical and sensual, nurturing these qualities in others” (13).  I feel that this definition adequately captures a Pagan view of Fertility.  The Dedicant’s Guide definition is very similar to that of Wiktionary’s:  “1. (uncountable) The condition, or the degree of being fertile” (“Fertility”).

Children are a perfect example of creative Fertility.  They continuously explore their creativity in tangible ways, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and building.  Fertility, for children, describes their tendency to produce many creative works.

Yet Fertility isn’t just about the imagination.  It is also about appreciating and not fearing sensuality, whether by one’s self or between consenting adults.  For Pagans, an appreciation of sensuality might be anything from the ritual sex performed in Gardnerian covens known as the Great Rite, to performing sex magic, to simply enjoying sex (instead of being fearful of it).

To conclude, Fertility should be a Virtue.  By declaring it as such, ADF recognizes the Pagan tendency to see sensuality and creativity as qualities to appreciate and cultivate.

Next week, I’ll delve more deeply into this ADF Virtue (which has relevance for Pagans outside of ADF).

*also known as Our Own Druidry

Works Cited

Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship. Our Own Druidry: An Introduction to Ar nDraiocht Fein and the Druid Path. Tucson, AZ: ADF Publishing, 2009. Print.

“Fertility.” 9 February 2013. Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Web. 13 February 2013.

A new status

I have officially become a Dedicant of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), a Pagan Druid organization.  I have worked very hard for around 15 months to achieve this status.  I wrote in my journal some reflections on my journey through the Dedicant Path work, prompted by some questions.

Looking at all the things you’ve done, what was the hardest requirement to yoU?  Was it one you expected?  Do you feel that you fully understand the requirement, or is there room for improvement?

The Two Powers essay, about my experiences with and understanding of ADF’s form of “grounding and centering,” actually turned out to be the most difficult.  I originally thought that keeping a regular (at least weekly) practice would be the most difficult because I have trouble doing almost anything regularly.  I think the Two Powers essay turned out to be the most difficult because it was the one I was resisting the most.  It was also the exercise I think I had the highest expectations of.  I was expecting to have some profound connection with the universe, which does not happen in only 15 months of work.  I realize now that experiences like that will take lots of work and time.  There is definitely room for improvement in my experience, like forging a deeper connection with each Power.

What was the easiest requirement for you?  Do you feel that you learned something from it?  Describe the value of the requirement in a way that has meaning to you.

The easiest requirement, for me, was the High Day rituals.  The High Days are often called “sabbats” in other Pagan traditions.  Since I wanted to celebrate each High Day anyway, I rearranged my schedule or altered my observance of the High Day as needed so I could celebrate each of them.  I learned a lot from the requirement about the Core Order of Ritual, ADF’s ritual structure, and proper Beings to honor at various times of the year.  I was also able to experience greater communion with the Earth Mother by observing the seasons in this way.  Interestingly, I thought that writing accounts of the High Day rituals I performed would be one of the easier requirements when I began the work.

Which requirement surprised you the most?

The mental discipline essay definitely surprised me the most.  I didn’t expect to complete it in the first few months of my journey.  I was also surprised I found it fairly easy to keep a weekly practice.  I was really eager to just begin some sort of regular practice, even though it wasn’t daily, and managed to stick with it for five months.

What things did you learn that you would most like to continue with?

I learned I can have a a fulfilling practice by performing weekly devotional rites and keeping the eight High Days.  A daily practice isn’t needed.  Keeping weekly devotionals and the eight High Days is something I would love to continue doing.  The devotional rituals definitely keep me connected to the Three Kindreds (Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities).

Now that you have given your Dedicant Oath before your gods and your community, how do you see yourself living that Oath daily?  What sort of things will you do to fulfill the Oath you took?

My Dedicant’s Oath can be found at the top right hand corner of the page, next to “About the Druid.”

I will continue to study Druidry, including the ways of the ancient and modern Druids.  I will do this by undertaking ADF’s Generalist Study Program, which delves more in-depth into the history of the ancient Druids and mythologies of multiple Indo-European cultures.  I will continue to observe the Wheel of the Year and adjust observances and scheduling as necessary to do so.  I plan to learn the art of seidh (Norse divination through trance; similar to the Greek Oracle at Delphi) and deepen my skills in Seership, through the ADF Seers’ Guild, to more fully “walk between the worlds.”

Have you considered starting a Grove (or helping to lead your current one)?  Is there a leadership position in a Guild or a SIG (Special Interest Group) that you’re interested in?

I’ve thought about starting a Grove (local ADF congregation that hosts public rites for the community), but that is not something I am interested in at this time.  I am currently organizing Sacred Feast SIG, which focuses on the concept of hospitality and cooking as sacred practice.  I also currently am running for office in ADF, that of Members’ Advocate (MA).  The MA is someone who fairly represents the general ADF membership and reports complaints from them to the ADF Board of Directors (also known as the Mother Grove).

Where do you see the skills you learned as a Dedicant being the most useful?  Will they primarily be useful to you, your community, to ADF, or to other Dedicants?

The skills I learned while working on the DP will be useful to me, sure, but also to other Dedicants.  I can share my experiences with them to help them find their own ways within Druidry.

What are the next goals you wish to set for yourself, either personally, spiritually, or within ADF?

The next goal for me is to begin to understand the use of ogham (often known as the “Celtic tree oracle”) for divination.  This I am doing through a weekly correspondence course offered by a fellow ADF member.  I am also planning to complete the Generalist Study Program, as I mentioned earlier, along with the Seers’ Guild Study Program.  Also, I seem to slowly be gaining awareness of my leadership skills (which are much better than I thought they were), so another goal is to develop these skills more through active involvement within ADF.  Finally, I would also like to develop a deeper relationship with Freyja, my Lady.

Thanks to everyone who helped me complete the DP!

Blessings, Victoria

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