I was originally going to post about Integrity today, but I feel very strongly about this Declaration of Interdependence from naturalpantheist that I decided to post it instead. Next week, I will write about the Virtue of Integrity.
Last week, I talked a little bit about Hospitality and how it applies to our relationships with other humans. Hospitality isn’t just a Virtue for human interaction, though. It plays a big part in our interactions with Deities, Nature Spirits, and Ancestors.
In an ADF ritual, offerings–gifts–are made to these beings in the hope of receiving blessings–the Kindreds’ gift to us–in return. We do not offer to the Kindreds in the hopes of averting punishment and ensuring only “good” things happen to us. We offer to them to show we appreciate their guidance, their strength, their beauty, and their power. In return, the Kindreds’ give us gifts of their own, like strength, wisdom, comfort, and even challenges that allow us to better ourselves.
(I apologize for this being so short; my brain isn’t functioning very well today.)
Hospitality is the third of ADF’s Nine Virtues that I will discuss. ADF defines Hospitality as: “Acting as both gracious host and appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humor, and the honoring of a gift for a gift.”
Notice that this definition isn’t just about the host welcoming guests. Guests have a duty to uphold their end of the bargain: appreciating what the host has offered. A guest shouldn’t be rude to the host because they didn’t like something that was painstakingly put together–the guest should show appreciation and gratitude that something special was done just for them.
There’s also this part about “honoring a gift for a gift.” What is that all about? Well, let’s say a friend takes you out for dinner on your birthday. That is your friend’s gift to you. Now you have an obligation to take your friend out for dinner on their birthday; though it’s later in the year, you’re still “paying back” your friend for dinner on your own birthday. ADF calls this *ghosti, which comes from Proto-Indo-European.
Next week, I’ll delve more deeply into how ADF’s idea of Hospitality applies to the Three Kindreds–Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Deities.
Last week I began my discussion of the Gods and Goddesses with a short post about their nature, as I see it. This week, I will write about my feelings towards some of the Norse Deities.
I’ll begin with Freyja, the Lady of the Vanir (the fertility deities). I definitely relate more to Freyja as the one who ensures the fertility of the soil rather than in her roles of war-maiden and chooser of the slain. I think this is because the soil’s fertility is easy for me to see around me. I live in Indiana, USA, where fields of ripe corn and soybeans are a common sight in the summer. The soil’s fertility means a great deal to the many farmers in this state. If I was in the military, however, I would perhaps see more of Freyja’s “darker” sides since I would be in direct contact with war and death. I relate to Freyr in a similar role. He brings the light rains that nourish the fields.
The Goddess Sunna is the Sun herself. I relate to Sunna as a giver of light and warmth, in addition to assisting with fertility. I personally love to go outside on a sunny day (preferably warm, of course!) and feel her rays on my skin. I also take note of her light and warmth waxing and waning throughout the year. I was a college student for many years, so the amount of sunlight and the temperature outside could affect my day profusely. I was never much of a “night owl,” so I don’t feel much connection to Mani, the moon and Sunna’s brother.
Thor is one of the Aesir (the sky deities). I see him mostly as a protector with giant’s strength and a big hammer. 🙂 I also relate to him as God of Storms, since Indiana is known for devastating tornadoes that evolve out of strong storms. I don’t think Thor is punishing anyone with these storms–he is simply tearing down the old to make way for the new.
Odin and Frigga I don’t really connect with much. I tend to see Odin associated with death most of the time (especially death in battle). No one in my family is in danger of death, outside of random chance. Frigga is the Lady of the hearth, where food is prepared and everyone gathers. I don’t cook much (unless you count the microwave), and I don’t really “hang out” with everyone in the family much since I’m not that social. Other Deities, such as Loki and Hel, I am ambivalent toward. I understand their necessity, but I choose not to work with them.
The Gods and Goddesses are the second of ADF’s Three Kindred that I will write about. (For the first Kindred, the Ancestors, click here.)
The Gods and Goddesses are not omniscient (all-knowing) or omnipotent (all-powerful). If they did know everything, then there would be no need to pray to them since they would already know what we wanted! If they could do anything, then it would make no sense to have different deities in charge of different aspects of life. For example, my Lady Freyja is in charge of sex, beauty, fertility, war, and death. Her brother Freyr also holds sway over fertility, in addition to marriage and childbirth (according to H. R. Ellis Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe ). One would not prey to Freyr for something in Freyja’s domain. I don’t feel the Gods and Goddesses exist everywhere at all times either. If they did, it would make no sense to call them to ritual, then bid them farewell at its close.
Next week I will continue my exploration of the Gods and Goddesses.
After some Internet problems last week, I am finally posting my continuation of the discussion of Fertility from the previous week!
Fertility is especially important around the Spring Equinox, which we just celebrated! Signs of the Earth Mother’s fertility are everywhere. Just look at the daffodils and crocuses blooming, the trees budding, and the fascination with eggs and rabbits this time of year.
Fertility is basically an ability to create. This can be biological creation or imaginative creation. When we create, though, it’s important to remember that something else dies so the creation can be realized. If we sculpt something out of a block of clay, we will create a sculpture. However, we no longer have the block of clay. If we write something on paper, the blank page must “die” so that we can have a page with writing on it. In terms of (human) biological creation, the individual unfertilized egg dies (as does the sperm) to result in a fertilized egg!
Just some food for thought. 🙂
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
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.
As many of you know, I am a Druid. I strive to be in touch with Nature and the beings of the Otherworld, which describes a lot of Pagans. However, something that I find lacking within my own personal Path is enchantment.
What is enchantment? For me, enchantment is a worldview that is whimsical and magical. An enchanted world is one in which faeries roam, causing whimsy and playful mischief to remind us humans to not take everything so seriously. An enchanted world is also full of wonder and magic.
I have found that my practice, as well as that of others, seems to be very serious and rigid. I am trying to figure out how I may incorporate more laughter and fun (and a more organic structure) into my rituals.
Enchantment is what brought me to Paganism in the first place. I read about it in Starhawk’s Spiral Dance and Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon (which I am currently in the process of finishing). The sense of whimsy combined with organic experiences sounds amazing and like something of which I would like to be a part.
If I may ask, do you consider your practice enchanted? Why or why not?
Though I am a Druid and don’t recognize the four elements–Air, Earth, Water, and Fire–in my practice, I do recognize them as forces that shape the Cosmos in various ways. Each force has positive (pleasurable) and negative (painful) sides. These forces are more like emotions, for the Earth Mother. They reflect Her various moods and allow Her to express Herself to us.
Air’s pleasurable side is a warm hug or a caress of the skin. I’m sure many of you have been to the beach on a warm day for vacation, or perhaps you live nearby. In any case, you relish each time a cool breeze floats by. That is what I’m referring to here. This caress is much like a hug. Air’s painful side is a slap to the body. On a windy day in the cold of a Midwestern winter, the wind beats you up so much that you can barely walk through it, if the wind is strong enough. Think also of a tornado that shreds houses to pieces. Not only is this figuratively painful to the houses, it is literally quite painful to the humans who called those houses home.
Earth’s pleasurable side is a mother’s touch. Earth is the womb in which we plant seeds and that nurtures those seeds so they may grow. The resulting plants provide food and shelter for both humans and animals, keeping them safe and healthy, as a mother does for her children. Yet even mothers get angry. Earth’s painful side shows itself when buildings–the same ones that keep us safe–collapse during an earthquake, which may put lives in danger. Earth can also be smothering, as a pool of quicksand is.
Fire’s pleasurable side is warmth that allows us cook food or keeps our body temperature from dropping too low. Think of a cozy fire in a fireplace on a cold winter night or the heat from a grill for cooking a backyard barbecue. The rippling movement of the flames can be likened to that of smooth silk. However, Fire consumes fuel fairly quickly, revealing its hunger. Fire’s only desire is to consume so that it may grow larger. All things are consumed–food, shelter, people–causing pain to others.
Water’s pleasurable side is an even and balanced temper. Water does not have a need to consume, as Fire does. It simply flows wherever there is room. If you fill a watering can with water, it won’t overflow until there is no longer room in the can. It won’t actively consume the can. When you take the watering can out to the garden, you must tip the can so the water will flow out onto the plants. The water in the can decreases while the water in the garden increases–balance. Water’s balance can be tipped too far, though, and result in weather like tsunamis and hurricanes. So much water is being deprived from another area that floods occur in the area where these disasters happen.
This understanding of the four elements came from a discussion with my fiance over Skype about how we personally see each of them. I found our discussion enlightening and enjoyable.
Now I must ask: how do you view the elements?
I realize I am late with this post. I was busy during the week, so I didn’t have a chance to work on the post!
A good ritual is like a good play: it is dramatic. I use “dramatic” in the sense of emotional impact here. The start of the ritual sets into motion an emotional experience that builds up to a high point, then tapers off.
Regardless of tradition, Pagan ritual has five main parts:
- Creation of Sacred Space
- Work to Be Done (whether it is simply worship or an act of magic)
- Deconstruction of Sacred Space
Preparation consists of gathering materials needed for the ritual, purification of participants, and setting up the physical space. Once sacred space is created, through casting a circle or other means, the buildup to the climax of the ritual begins. The climax itself, the emotional high point and the most dramatic moment of the ritual, occurs in the middle of step 3, the reason the ritual is being conducted.
After this dramatic high point, a process begins that gradually returns the participants to a more normal emotional state. In many cases the last half of the ritual serves to help participants reflect on the work done. In ADF this is done using divination; in Wicca this is usually during Cakes and Ale/Wine.
Sacred space is begun to be dismantled by thanking any Otherworldly beings that were invited. Then the space is energetically and spiritually returned to how it was before the ritual. The drama completely disappears during cleanup, which physically returns the space to its pre-ritual state.
Since drama is arguably the most crucial part of a ritual, care must be taken to ensure proper buildup to it. “Proper buildup” means that the ritual’s participants are sufficiently prepared emotionally for the climax. If participants are not prepared, they may be confused or overwhelmed once the rite’s climax occurs, perhaps resulting in fewer participants at the next ritual.
If you have questions or comments, please share them!