Updates, Memberships, and Resignations.

The biggest thing on my mind lately related to this blog is my standing with ADF at the moment.  Not that the Org cares so much, but I’m deeply considering my place within it.  I am burdened by questions that do not have easy answers.  ADF has been a big part of my life for almost a decade…This post has been a long time coming, a few years I would say.  I have long pondered whether being a part of this particular Org is a benefit and this post is about choosing not to ignore the questions that have arisen.

After having detailed some of my concerns with the study programs to those who oversee them no reply came.  It’s not this alone that is upsetting me about my affiliation with ADF these days, but it certainly does not help.  My overall concern is that ADF is, or is becoming, the very thing I depise in large Orgs of this sort.   Eventually the Office and Overseers of large Orgs don’t care about the average member.  Is paganism perhaps not well represented by large Orgs?…I’m beginning to think that the idea of Orgs built to hold Pagans beneath an immense canopy of relateable philosophies is an erroneous endeavor.  Perhaps Paganism is best understood locally and via small personal cells of like-minded persons.

But then I also ask myself if Pagans do better when affiliated with a large Org.  Do we need the power of a large Org to protect and further the goals of Paganism in our modern day?  Does the meer existence and membership with Orgs as large as ADF insure a political power that Pagans may be without otherwise?  Does my membership in ADF say anything of relevance?

Another post of mine Contemplation of Continuance had me writing a bit about what thoughts cause me to re-up my ADF membership every year.  I’d thought I’d ask those same questions again in light of my current mindset…

This post tends to be tough on ADF.  And I don’t necessarily mean it to be that way.  I’m not ranting on what ADF is or has become, merely on my place within it and where I am on my Pagan path these days.

Have I grown as a religious person because of membership?  I can honestly say No here.  I have not been challenged by my activity and membership for a few years now.  Does there need to be a constant state of growth…no, but what good is being a part of something if it’s only my money that an Org has.  Being that ADF cannot get it’s act together in terms of Study Courses, I see no other way to answer this.  The bigger question should be if I think ADF should even try to better it’s programs…this is one of the things I’m wrestling with.

Is ADF an organization that does good? Um..I’m not sure.  The Groves within ADF certainly address the local Pagan communities need in a way.  I’m not sure that it’s doing good by being so obviously elitist in it’s theology and ordination process, however.  I’ve had the sense from the very beginning with ADF that it was the home of snobbish academics, even experiencing it directly..and that feeling has only grown through the years.  So I think I’m on the fence with this question.  I think perhaps the philosophy of ADF is good; Open ritual, academic honesty, reconstructionism curbed by modern culture.  Is it enough to keep me passionate about my membership?

Have I learned?  I think I’ve learned in spite of belonging to the Org.  Not good…not good at all.

Is ADF fun? No.  It’s getting to be a chore.  This very debate that I’m having with myself about the benefits of being or not being a member is an example of that.  At this point in my ADF career I am almost ashamed of calling myself a member. When I say I’m an ADF member that instantly says to people that I’m probably one of the those scholarly tight ass Pagan types that can’t practice anything unless there’s some archelogical evidence for it.  I get that…I really do.

I’ve heard stories of other members having a rough time of the programs as well and leaving to pursue other avenues of study and ordination.  For me it’s not ordination at all cost, or by the easiest means possible.  I’ve been a Pagan for all of my adult life, and I’ve never thought that an Org can declare a person clergy…that is up to the Community itself not to an Org thousands of miles away.

In the time it took me to type this up and ponder what my ongoing affiliation with ADF means I’ve come to the realization that perhaps it is time to sever my time with ADF, that maybe I have learned all I can during my stay and that I am actually excited by the prospect of being out from under it’s canopy.  I’ve thus sent an email to the ADF Office resigning my membership and await confirmation.

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Leaving the GSP behind

When I drew the Runes Algiz and Daeg I knew I was going to have a challenge waiting for me.  While I may have been focused on my goal (Algiz) the universe was letting me know that perhaps a divergent (Daeg) goal was in my future.  I took it for what it was without alot of over thinking…there was only one thing on my mind that day, and I knew what it meant. And I realize it even clearer now…

Whether my GSP submission was approved or not I was going to leave ADF’s training programs .  Why?  I’m not going to blast the programs, nor am I going to ridicule ADF…because both have merit.  I also enjoy ADF generally and I believe deeply that what it provides to the pagan community is important.

The challenge of working through an  ADF program is that there is no apparent rubric for the advanced courses, anything can warrant a  failure to meet the requirement.  Unlike say normal institutions of learning and advancement where a clear standard is presented.  Yes, ADF gives you the questions to answer with an expected word length to properly address said question, beyond that however ADF’s reviewer can pretty much do what they want with a submission.  One person with only his/her writing abilities, research history, knowledge, and academic preferences can quite easily become a submitters dream come true or tentacled nightmare.   Dream or nightmare I think both are unacceptable when preparing clergy for an organization the size of ADF.

It’s certainly a difficult task for a religious org like ADF to determine what is or is not acceptable from submitters.  They don’t want just anyone to get through the process I’m sure, so a certain amount of academic proficiency must be seen from those in training as a starting point, and this I accept and wholly expect.  At the same time those reviewing material must ask themselves what skills clergy need in order to serve a religious community.

 

 

 

 

 

A Game of Tarot: Video follow-up

A video follow-up to my other post, A Game of Tarot concerning the game Queens of Fate: A solitaire Tarot game.

This is by no means a How to Play tutorial.  It’s merely meant to give you a look at the setup and a fast play through to get you started.

 

 

Rules for the game can be found here: http://voices.yahoo.com/a-tarot-game-queens-fate-4787196.html?cat=34

A Game of Tarot

Here’s a good little solitaire game that will give you some time with Tarot.  It’s called Queens of Fate.  It’s a good metaphysical and Occult themed game that even though it’s mundane in aspect really carries alot of symbolism if your paying attention.  I’ve been playing it for some time and even though the rules at first are strange, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

So, if you have a bit of free time and want to give it a go, the rules can be found here: Queens of Fate

Perhaps I’ll do a Youtube video on it.  It’s a pretty challenging game, and I like to use it as teaching aid.  When a card comes up I’ll go over its meaning and depending on the time I have I’ll see how it interacts with whats already on the table.  It’s also fun to see what cards ‘defeat’ others or work together to clear another from play.

This is me playing Queens of Fate with my Star Wars Tarot deck:

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Queens of Fate

The main focus of the game takes place with the cards on the blue mat > I keep my Queens at the top, the next layer down are the Court cards, and the next the Minors that come into play.  On the left of the mat the draw pile (Destiny) is on the bottom left, drawn cards go directly to the right (challenge area), and Fate cards above that. My two discarded piles are for Major Arcana which with this Tarot deck are the black boarder cards face up, and the one laying horizontal on the top left face down are the minors along with the court cards – basically anything not a Major Arcana.  My play area differs a little from the rules, but I accomplish the same thing.

I’m not gonna go over the rules, because it takes a bit of practice to understand them fully.  I may post a video shortly playing a few hands.

Overall this is a fun game to play that if you’re open enough can not only be entertaining but also enlightening.

Portable Rune Magic(K): Sitting within Yggdrasil

Follow up post in the spirit of another : Cosmological Contrivances and Magickal Mechanisms

After having given a quick workshop on the magic(K)al work discussed in my Cosmological Contrivances and Magickal Mechanisms post, I was asked by an attendee for a possible Rune working that accomplished the same goals; that being magic(K) on the fly without any tools but Runes (and a more Pagan rather than Hermetic working).

I’d been working on something like this for some time and had yet to finalize my notes into a coherent system that could be easily worked and understood.  The difference between the Tarot and Runes is a fairly stark one.  Modern Tarot is greatly influenced by Hermeticism and correspondences developed by the Golden Dawn that reflect a judeo-christian/Kabbalistic sensibility.  Runes are a more tribal wisdom, and a more pagan/indo-european tool and esoteric paradigm.  It’s important to be aware of these differences when trying to use either in the way we want to with this practice, as they each require a different approach and outlook.

Donald Tyson puts forward in his book Portable Magic a fast and quick system of magic(K) that utilizes only Tarot as it’s tool.  Tarot is used to create the ceremonial area, to represent all the tools of the magician, and to enable complex workings to be simplified.  The crux of the system is in the Tarot representing the universe by means of the astrological symbolism found within the Major Arcana.  The Major Arcana become the Magicians circle, the Minor Arcana the things the Mage wants to bring into his life, the Aces the altar upon which the Mage works.  Another key component of Tyson’s portable magic(K) is not only the physical working of the cards and their setup, but the Magician is also asked to create a life size Astral ritual area that correlates directly with the physical working so that both are working together.

 

Portable Rune Magic(K)

The ritual area:  The circle is fundamental to Tyson’s system, but not necessarily so to the more Pagan version of his working that I wanted to recreate.  To get an idea of the circle take a look at the picture provided.  We are not trying to recreate the cosmos as Tyson does in his Ceremonial/Hermetic system but instead recreating the Multiverse and it’s many worlds as per Teutonic wisdom.  The Magician sits within his circle, but also within the mandala of Yggdrasil and among the nine worlds.  The horizontal access is represented by Niflheim in the north, Muspellheim in the south, Jotunheim in the east, and Vanaheim in the west.  Asgard, Lossalfheim, Svartalfheim, and Hel should be thought of as vertical.

Midgard is within the circle where the Mage stands.  Jera and Eiwhaz represent Midgard, Jera the turning of seasons and Eiwhaz the Axis upon which the world moves.  Othal is the Magician herself standing upon Midgard in the center of the Worlds.  The Altar is built using the Runes that embody the Aetts and their wisdom; Fehu, Hagal, and Tyr.

 

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Working Area – Yggdrasil

Example of a working

A working begins by laying out your Runes in the pattern described.  Before beginning take a few breaths to reach a calm state of mind.  Realize that you sit before a circle of stones, place the card that is meant to represent yourself upon Jera and Eiwhaz, you are now within that circle, upon Midgard.

Touch each card vocalizing or singing the Rune (exclude the Altar Runes for now), in your minds eye see it rise in light upon the stone.  Once finished pause and reflect on the power of the Rune and their presence around you.  Again touch the cards but this time name the world it represents.  See the circle becoming a living presence, it may take on the resemblance of Yggrdasil – the living tree and holder of all worlds…or each world may take the place of the stones, or the stones may remain – however you mentally or astrally see this just be sure that you realize that the worlds are here and now and you stand among them and before them.  If you are using the Rune Mandala for meditation or contemplation you can stay at this point, if you’re using this practice for magic(K)al reasons you can move on.

The Altar is utlized to realize the Magicians will.  From the remaining Runes choose one (or more for compounding or clarifying the focus) that symbolizes your need or desire, you can also create your desire from paper or draw a picture, or use your imagination.  Before placing the focus of your will (and the reason for the rite) upon the Rune altar touch each Rune of the altar and vocalize it’s name.  In your minds eye ignite the stone altar to life, the Runes alight upon or within it as you sing or say them.

Once the altar is activated your object, card, or imagining will be placed on the altar.  Your focus will be on that item alone, your will should be pushed toward the item with all the clarity you can muster.  It’s important to note that the Magician’s power is not due to the circle or the power of the worlds; the power for this is generated from the knowledge gained by standing within the Multiverse, she is not a slave to their powers but an awakened participant in the Multiverse and it’s creative and pulsing existence.  This is the power of the Runester.

Once you feel that you’ve saturated your desire with your will, cut your tie with the Altar and setp mentally back from the altar and what you’ve worked.  Sit for a moment and gather your thoughts, come back fully into the present moment and where you sit.  After a minute or two gather up the Runes in whatever way suits you.  You should shuffle or toss the Runes together in order to diffuse the energy of the working and to further distance yourself from what you’ve worked as not to drain further energy.

 

 

Morning Everyday Practice

My daily morning practice:

-Sit or Stand before Shrine/Hallows/Altar/, My tradition calls for a representation of the Sacred Tree, Fire, and Well.

“I come this day to keep the ways of my Ancestors,
To keep the ways of the Aesir and Vanir,
and to keep the ways of the Gothi and Gothar.”

-Light Candle-

Well

” Today I sit beside the Sacred Well, waters of life,
Of first wisdom and chaos.”
– Drop coin into waters.
” May the waters of the well rise this day in this Grove and Ve.”

Fire

” I sit beside the Sacred flame of living and life,
beneath the great sun and immortal sky and the fires of reason, power, and passion.’
-Drop a pinch of spice or incense into flame-
” May the fires flame here this day in this Grove and in this Ve.”

Tree

” I sit beside the Sacred Tree, great Yggradisil,
holder of all worlds,’
-Smudge of oil onto Tree representation-
” May the Tree rise here from earth to sky, from chaos to reason this day, in this Grove and Ve.”

Brief pause for reflection on Well, Tree, and Fire

” Fire , well , and Sacred Tree
Grow and Flame and Flow in me.
I Stand between the Earth and Sky,
Rooted deep and crowned high.”

-Dip fingers into Well and aspurge area-
” May the Waters of Well open as a gate, that my words may resound within.”
-Hold hands over the flame to feel the warmth of the flame or light incense-
” May the fires of the Flame open as a gate this day that my words may a-light within.”
-hold staff or touch Tree icon-
” May the great Tree open as a Gate that this day, that all worlds may know my words and deeds.”

Brief pause for reflection on opening of gates.

At this point I conduct any work I have planned for the morning. This could be silent meditation – offerings to gods, beings, ancestors – Stadhagaldr (Rune yoga) – Blessings or Workings for health/prosperity or the like on behalf of relatives or myself.

Once the work is finished I close the devotional

“I go this day warmed by the Fire, refreshed by the Well, and sheltered by the Tree.
With Joy, Beauty, and Compassion in me.”
-This is said while feeling the warmth of the flame, touching the tree, and touching the waters.
Address any beings offered to and dismiss with love and honesty or Contemplate the brief devotional and what has occurred.

“By Will and Right, Troth and Might, finished this day is this Rite.”
-Blow out candle and wait for smoke to dissipate before leaving room, altar, or harrow.

 

Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil

Beads

Lately I’ve been utilizing prayer beads.

I created a meditation bracelet using tiger eye and a similar color of dark bead – I don’t remember what it is exactly.  I’ve different sizes to represent the things I want to focus on while meditating or while in prayer.

My prayer bead bracelet contains 58 beads:

24 beads that represent the elder futhark then a single bead to pause and reflect and another 24 for the elder futhark.  The beads for the various Runes are different sizes as I reflect on each Rune specifically.

Also I have 9 beads that are meant as meditational queues for the contemplation of the 9 virtues found within ADF liturgy, they are also used to represent the 9 worlds of Norse cosmology.

These are not just for meditation however, I wear them while working and thumb through them if I can.  I’d like to get into the habit of thumbing them around while waiting in line at the supermarket or similar such things, just to shift my consciousness to a more aware state.  I’ve had the honor of being in the presence of Buddhist monks from Tibet and Bhutan and find it a wonderful thing to see them spinning through their prayer beads while holding a conversation

For me the bracelet is a reminder that Paganism is indeed a contemplative religion and needs to be seen as a means of reconnection with Self, Time, Place and the Now.  So often we see modern Paganism as a religion of “doing”, when it is also a religion of silence and “non-ado”.  Sitting in sincere silence and contemplation is enormously beneficial to ourselves and others.