Devotional Omen 4/19/2015

Last week I was so busy I didn’t have a chance to do a devotional.  This week my husband and I performed a shorter, less formal devotional rite where we simply honored the Three Kindreds–Ancestors, Nature Spirits, Deities–and I honored Freyja and Sunna personally.  We did use the traditional ADF setup with three Hallows (Fire, Well, and Tree).  Here’s a picture:


Our Tree is a lavender plant we had just bought today to put in the garden.  We also asked for a blessing and drank the blessed water out of the two cups.  We had a small bowl for offerings.

The Ancestors got some mugwort, the Nature Spirits received thyme, and the Deities were given frankincense.  I offered two cinnamon sticks to Freyja and Sunna.  We asked what the blessings were for the week.  This is what we were given:


The first rune drawn on the far left was Uruz, manifestation.  Something we’ve been planning will come into fruition this week.  The middle rune is Othala, a rune of the Ancestors and inheritance.  This reinforces their presence during our small rite.  The last rune on the right is Thurisaz, a rune of Thor and protection.

We asked that we be filled with these blessings when we drank the water in our cups.  We then thanked each being we had invited in reverse order.

It was a simple ritual, but I feel it was effective.  I believe the Kindreds liked our offerings.  I felt my awareness shift as soon as I lit the candle.

May you be blessed, Rosemary


Reflections on Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities

Today I will share with you an essay I wrote about my understanding of and relationship to the Three Kindreds, ADF’s collective term for the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities.  Reflecting on the nature of the Kindreds proved spiritually fruitful.  Also, this is my personal understanding only.  It does not reflect the spiritual diversity found in ADF as a whole.  You will see references to the Upperworld/Heavens, the Midworld, and the Underworld.  These Worlds are simply a way to approximate locations for the Kindreds (and make Them easier for us humans to understand).

The Three Kindreds are categories of Beings that ADF uses to distinguish Them from each other.  These Beings are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Gods and Goddesses.  All Three Kindreds reside in the Otherworld, the spiritual plane that is beyond our normal senses but overlaps with our world.  Each of the Kindreds can be reached through formal ritual or informal spoken or silent prayer that may or may not include offerings.  For some people, meditation may be an ideal means of contact, though I personally have difficulties meditating.  In my experience, appropriate offerings include coffee, milk, and water for the Kindreds in general.  All of the Kindreds have provided me with blessings throughout my practice, such as assistance getting a bachelor’s degree, healing loved ones, and comfort in difficult times.

The first specific Kindred I will discuss is that of the Ancestors.  I personally divide Ancestors into three groups:  those of blood, those of heart, and those of spirit.  Ancestors of blood are those to whom I am biologically related, like my paternal grandfather or the Vikings (known through a DNA test).  Ancestors of heart are friends and pets who have passed, like my dog Sammy who was put to sleep, or my friend Phil who died during a kidney transplant.  Ancestors of spirit are those peoples who have influenced my spiritual practice, like the Ancient Druids, the Vikings, and even Isaac Bonewits, ADF’s Founder.  Most often, I offer coffee to the Ancestors because that is something more recent Ancestors would have liked in life.  I have offered Them white sage before, since the herb reminds me of my small percentage of Native American heritage.

My personal relationship with the Ancestors is a bit odd.  In many cases, I didn’t like my relatives much in life.  Once these same relatives died, however, I immediately mourned for their loss and respected them.  Now that I am older, I realize that without my Ancestors, I would not exist, at least not as I am today.  The mere existence of the Ancestors has taught me to be grateful for the family and friends with whom I am alive.

I associate the Ancestors with the Underworld because the bodies of Ancestors are generally buried within the Earth to become part of the material that nourishes Life.  This is Their way of providing sustenance for the Nature Spirits that once sustained Them (the Ancestors) in life.  I associate the Ancestors with the Land because They provide this sustenance for the Spirits, and They are buried within the Land itself.  To me, the Ancestors are also associated with the Sea.  Ellis Davidson mentions in various places in her book Gods and Myths of Northern Europe that many Vikings were buried in a ship or even cremated with a ship set to sea, resulting in my association of the two.

The next specific Kindred I will discuss is that of the Nature Spirits.  I feel that They are often overlooked in people’s personal practice that isn’t officially within ADF, since much discussion on the mailing lists seems to center on hearth culture and ritual in general.  The Nature Spirits provide sustenance for humans in the form of food and drink.  They also provide us with timber for shelter and fibers for warm clothing.  They make our lives possible, and thus deserve more respect and worship.

I feel as if I don’t have a close relationship with the Nature Spirits, but as I wrote in my nature awareness essay, I have a relationship with Them nonetheless.  I take a moment to look for birds in the tree outside my window when I get up.  I observe the sun’s position in the sky at the same general times of day throughout the year.  I pay attention to the phases of the moon.  I am happier on long sunny days, especially those in spring, because I am filled with joy and hope as I see new life appearing.  I maintain this relationship in a number of ways, one of which is making offerings to Them both within and outside of ritual.  Usually I offer bread, though They also seem to like organic lavender flowers and simple bottled water.

I associate the Nature Spirits with the Midworld because we humans interact with nature on a daily basis, though often just in the form of road conditions or temperature.  Of the Three Realms, Nature Spirits are associated most often with the Land, where most of Them live.  I also associate Them with the Sky because birds and rain (and other forms of precipitation) have strong ties to the Sky.  Precipitation ties the Nature Spirits to the Shining Ones.  Precipitation is formed by Nature Spirits put into motion by Shining Ones such as Thor, Zeus, or Frey (gentle rains).  In addition, the sun is usually personified by a Deity.  Its warmth helps plants (Nature Spirits) grow.

The final specific Kindred I will discuss is that of the Shining Ones, the Gods and Goddesses of various Indo-European cultures.  The Shining Ones are generally Whom we call upon for strength, fertility, extra money for bills, and matters of the heart.  Individually, They often choose a group of people who will dedicate themselves to Their service.  They also help ensure the Order of the Cosmos remains by Their power and magic.

My relationship with the Deities is generally one of asking for assistance with life issues.  However, I do offer Them simple praise and worship many times through the year, not just on High Days.  When I do ask for something, it is always accompanied by an offering, whether a lit candle left to burn itself out, food, a beverage, or just a few words of praise.  When I was working with the Hellenic pantheon, I often offered wine (red and white), bay leaves, and olive oil.  Now I commonly offer the Norse Shining Ones herbal incense made with wormwood, thistle, and dandelion, as well as mead on High Days.  I believe I have also offered Them frankincense a few times.

I personally see the Deities both around me (as the wind or fertility) and above me, so I associate Them with the Upperworld/Heavens and the Midworld, though They also have a presence in the Underworld as “ruler” of the Ancestors.  Related to this idea are the two groups of Deities of the Norse:  the Aesir and the Vanir.  The Aesir are the Deities of Asgard, the Norse version of the Heavens, Who govern abstract concepts like wisdom and war. The Vanir are Deities Who govern concepts like death and fertility, related to the Earth.  They have a special hall called Vanaheim.  I see the Shining Ones in all Three Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky.  They are in the Land as fertility and as the Earth Mother Herself.  They are in the Sea as rulers of the Realm and the winds blowing across the water.  They are in the Sky as the sun, rain, thunder, and lightning.

Works Cited

Davidson, H.R. Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books, 1964. Kindle edition.



This morning I lit a “Witches’ Sight” candle I found on Etsy, a website that features handmade items from many different sellers, instead of smudging with sage.  As I let the scent of the candle permeate the room, I got my Shrine ready for my devotional ritual. I performed my Two Powers exercise, but I […]

Autistic Druidry: Feeling the Kindreds

Today’s post is about connecting to what ADF calls the Three Kindreds:  Ancestors,  Nature Spirits, and Deities.  Special thanks goes to Rev. Ayliah “Amber” Cannon of ADF for providing these suggestions.

The Nature Spirits are perhaps the easiest to feel, in a tactile way.  Feathers, fur, bone, and other physical attributes of animals can be touched and contemplated.  I have a cat, a sort of resident Nature Spirit in the home, so I will try this next time she is wanting attention.  🙂  For non-animal Nature Spirits, I can touch the bark, branches, or leaves of a tree.  I can run my hands through the blades of grass in the backyard (before it gets mowed and when it’s warmer).  I could also smell flowers and herbs (I have a strong sense of smell as well), in addition to touching those to feel the silkiness of petals or the needle-like leaves of rosemary.

The Ancestors are also fairly easy to feel.  I know where my paternal grandfather is buried (he died a few years ago), and it’s not too far away.  I can visit his grave and trace the letters of his name with my finger.  I could also take some paper and a crayon along to make a rubbing of his stone.  (For more information, eHow has an article on how to make a gravestone rubbing.)  Another possible way of connecting with Ancestors is to hold the container of their ashes, if you have a relative that has been cremated.

Deities can be physically experienced as well.  To feel Thor, God of Storms, I might go outside in a thunderstorm and feel the drops of rain on my skin.  (If you do this, wait until the lightning has passed!)  For Njord, the Norse God of the Sea, Wind, and Fire, I could hold my hands over a flame or pay attention to a gust as it blows by.

Other Deities might be more difficult to experience in a concrete way.  Examples would be Odin, Heimdall, and Baldr.  If I find ways to experience these Deities, I will write a new post.

Blessings, Victoria

A new (for me) way to worship

I have been trying to find a way to incorporate a daily devotional practice into my Druidry.  It occurred to me that I can use prayer beads shortly after waking to honor the Kindreds.  I already have a set of Muslim prayer beads given to me by an owner of a gift shop while I was in Jordan this past summer.


I know the picture isn’t the best, but it works.  Each set of eleven oval beads is separated by one skinny rectangular bead, except at the bottom.  At the bottom there is just one large bead and then a tassel.  The original Muslim use of these beads involves chanting the 99 names of god.  Each rectangular bead lets the user know when they have completed one set of 11.  Since there are 99 names, the whole strand is to be completed three times.

I asked around for ideas on using the beads.  I decided that I will use each section of eleven beads to represent one of the Kindreds.  One set will be for the Nature Spirits, one set will be for the Ancestors, and the last set will be for the Gods and Goddesses.  On the Nature Spirits’ section, for example, I will say eleven short prayers, each for a different Spirit or aspect of the local Land.  The rectangular beads will be points of transition, where I will somehow transition from one Kindred to another.  I don’t quite have that part worked out yet.  The large bead will probably be some sort of grounding meditation (ADF uses the Two Powers, the Earth Power and the Sky Power), though it might also be for purification.

Once I have worked with the beads for a few days, I will write about my experiences

Blessings, Victoria

Advice from the Kindreds

After thinking about my post from yesterday, it hit me later that evening to perform a runic divination to ask the Kindreds if there is anything I can do to know Them better.  I pulled out my bag of homemade runes and asked some questions.

Ancestors, what can I do to know You better?  I pulled Hagalaz.  Hagalaz literally means hail.  It often indicates a challenge that will end in harmony.  This relates directly to my feelings of not being connected.

Nature Spirits, what can I do to know You better?  I pulled Wunjo.  The literal meaning of Wunjo is joy.  Either this rune is saying that I will see joy in the future or possibly that I need to simply show more joy when relating to the Kindreds.

Shining Ones, what can I do to know You better?  I originally intended to only pull one rune from my bag, but I happened to pull two.  The first was Isa.  Isa can represent a challenge or frustration.  It can also reinforce the runes around it, which leads me to discussion of Eihwaz, the second rune I pulled.  Eihwaz shows dependability and trustworthiness.  I read these two runes together as, “You need to trust us [the Kindreds] to get the connection you are looking for.”

As you can see, the runes didn’t really relate to my questions but instead reflected my heart.  The Kindreds were saying they recognized my frustration, but not to worry about it because it will pass.  I need to joyfully perform rituals and say prayers.  I also simply need to trust the Kindreds that they will give me what I am looking for.

My fiance is spending the night tonight, since it is New Year’s Eve.  We are going to try to perform a ritual when everyone is asleep, since I had forgotten to perform ritual Friday.

Many blessings for the New Year, Victoria

Before I forget, here is the link to “Rune Meanings” from the website Runes:  Alphabet of Mystery.  This is the website I used as a guide to formulating the interpretations above.

A simple ritual

Grades for three out of my four classes are in for the semester.  I’m certain the last grade will be in the B range, so I am not worried about it.  My other grades are C, B+, and B-.   This means I am going to be a graduate on Yule (that’s when grades are “officially released)!  My degree will be a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies awarded by Indiana University.

I and many others have prayed to the Three Kindreds this semester and semesters past for assistance with college.  I decided to thank them with a simple and short ritual.  Here’s my setup:

Picture taken December 19, 2012, by Victoria Laughlin
Picture taken December 19, 2012, by Victoria Laughlin

Yes, that is an incense burner on the left (with a lit charcoal disc inside) and a lit candle on the right.  I included the candle because I conceive its flame as the Sacred Fire of ADF cosmology and liturgy.  “May you pray with a good fire” is a common statement within ADF.  The Fire transforms offerings into a form that the Kindreds will appreciate.

The ritual was very simple.  First, I gathered my materials (incense burner, tongs, charcoal, candle, candleholder, and incense).  Next I held the charcoal with the tongs and lit it.  Once I was sure the charcoal was lit I placed it into the base of the incense holder.  I put the candle in the candleholder, lit it, and said my prayer as I waited for the charcoal to stop sparking.  In my prayer, I thanked each of the Kindreds for their help over the past few years to ensure my success.  I also thanked them for the growth I have seen in myself.  I then made them an offering of herbal incense sprinkled on the charcoal disc, put on the lid, and wafted the smoke towards the flame.

I felt generous, so I made another offering of incense!  The candle is still burning while the rest of the incense burns so the Kindreds can receive all the smoke they deserve.

To finish the ritual, I will thank the Kindreds one last time and blow out the candle.

May the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones bless each and every one of you!

A family visit, part two

My fiance’s grandfather was indeed doing well.  He seemed to be enjoying the football games on TV.  I told him how I was doing in college, and I think he was glad to see me.  It was pretty hard to tell though with his near-inability to speak.

I was glad to finally see him after all the prayers and thoughts my fiance and I had sent out for him.  However, I found myself feeling awkward around him, perhaps because I have no experience with this sort of situation.

I am just grateful to the Kindreds that he is recovering, albeit slowly.

Many blessings,

A family visit, part one

Today I’m going with my fiance for a meal with his family.

This meal isn’t just any meal.

This meal will be the first time I have seen his biological grandfather since he had a stroke,paralyzing his right arm and leg and impeding his speech.

My fiance and I (as well as others) have prayed to the Kindreds for his health and recovery in the past.  The fact that I am able to share a meal with him shows me those prayers have begun to be heard.  Also I have heard that he has been steadily getting better, further reinforcing a belief in the Kindreds and their ability to heal.

I will provide an update in the form of another blog post once I return home.  I have a feeling that the Kindreds will speak to me through my fiance’s grandfather.  Perhaps not literally speaking, but providing guidance and reassurance through his manner.

May the Kindreds keep you in good health,