Thinking through

I have been thinking about renewing my ADF membership.  This is not an easy decision for me – I have been hard on Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship in the past…but I think that ADF has attempted to address some of the concerns I had, the concerns of many other members. I do not confront this choice flippantly, but it is an honest one that I feel I must address.

From the ADF website, frontpage:

“Our vision is that the Gods and Spirits are served in the modern world through:

  • Public temple worship with a skilled priesthood
  • Accessible religious training for all
  • A spiritual relationship with the Earth
  • Sustainable Pagan institutions
  • A flourishing family and community Pagan culture

We value:

  • Commonality of ritual practice
  • Honoring the Earth Mother
  • Scholarship and research
  • Reciprocity with the Gods and Spirits
  • Respect for others through living our virtues
  • Service to the community, land, and the Gods and Spirits” (2018)

These are ADF’s core ideals as a Church.  As a Pagan, how do I feel about these?  Do I feel these fit into what I think Paganism is and should move toward? Yes and No.

Thinking about each of those statements…..

“Our vision is that the Gods and Spirits are served in the modern world through” I’m not too hip on the fact that ADF right out of the gate presents its sole purpose as serving the gods (which should be lower case btw) and spirits.  Service to the community, yes.  Service and commitment to improving the self and others through learning and empowerment, yes.  The gods quite frankly can take care of themselves – granted I worship the gods and give offerings to many of them on a weekly/daily basis and understand the reciprocity that takes place between god (thing) and worshipper, but its not my primary goal in life to serve the gods every minute of the day.  In fact our pagan gods tell us directly not to be overly dependent upon them.

Public Temple Worship with ‘skilled’ priesthood – This is good for the most part.  Just what is meant by ‘Skilled’ priesthood I’m not sure – I’ve had horrendous experiences with ADF’s clergy programs – so I’m not convinced of ADF’s program oversight or that who is conferred priesthood necessarily is deserving. Pagans should inherently be wary of organizations that create hierarchies as Neo-Paganism is so much about personal understanding and in my opinion should be a revolt against the emulation of systems that are built on segregating members into various groups and intelligenstia. (0)

Accessible Training – Of course I agree with this (2)

A Spiritual relationship with the Earth – Fundamental to Pagan thought and practice and especially any org using the ‘Druid’ moniker. (2)

Sustainable Pagan Institutions – Not too sure what this means, rather an obtuse statement.  (0)

Flourishing Pagan culture – As long as it is good and serves the community, great. (2)

The We Value section are all ‘I agree’s’ for sure.  However, the ritual liturgy found in ADF is dry.  Quite frankly it’s rather boring, and the participant can sometimes feel left out because much of the attention is placed outside of the self, away from ones awareness.  One of the large complaints of mine is the Order of Ritual found in ADF – it inadvertantly sets up robotic worship, a congregational mode of religiosity that forces some into a watcher mode.  Being a Watcher is not Pagansim – the immediacy of Paganism is its power; doing, working, existing with the gods, ancestors, spirits.

ADF’s constant look toward growing and bettering, making their religion more visible as a public Indo-European religion is sometimes a blinding goal.  I’ve had my share of experiences with ADF personages who are so hell-bent on its active tenets of building and growing that they forget or ignore the tenets of virtue and humility and sincerity that religious practice synthesizes within the self – but that’s neither here nor there, and generally pagans, in my experience, are boastful people and can be bold in their actions, this may be different overseas and I’m usually the quite one…so this may just be my thing.

So, I’m still thinking about this – I always felt ADF was a good fit with me.  I keep telling myself that a member can’t like everything about the organization he’s part of…but I’m not quite sure yet how much I’m able to ignore in order to count myself back in the fold.

Advertisements

Sphere of Protection

As a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) you will eventually be exposed to one of its fundamental practices; the Sphere of Protection.  The SoP, as it’s usually referred to within the AODA, is a very Western Hermetic/Esoteric practice (nothing new if you’ve been exposed to Golden Dawn style ritual or readings) of enlivening the self and the psyche.  The main practice in the SoP is the formation of an Elemental Cross within the the practitioner that is then used to construct extending lines of Intent (light) into the Horizontal, Vertical, and Extra Dimensional spheres of existence that are meant to seal up (and enlarge) the individual within time and space.

“The intention of the Elemental Cross Ritual is to create a spiritual space where negative energies cannot exist and to enhance positive energies for the benefit of the ritualist. The ritual is composed of seven distinct steps” (aoda.org)

  1. Preparation
  2. Touch your forehead – Usually assoc. with Mature Male energies/Spirit Above
  3. Touch your lower abdomen – Usually assoc. with Young Male energies/Spirit Below
  4. Touch your right shoulder – Usually assoc. with Mature Female energies
  5. Touch your left shoulder – Usually assoc. with Young Female energies
  6. Form a standing cross
  7. Complete the ritual

I’ve incorporated similar practices in the past, but more from an Indo-european standpoint, so the importance was placed on three’s not on fours and not on a Western understanding of the Elements.  I’ve attempted to work with the SoP ever since joining the AODA (and prior) but the use of godforms for the practice – being that my godforms are more in line with attributions of threes – just was not going to work because the SoP calls for a godform to be associated with the Head, Abdomen, Right and Left shoulders.  The AODA is very open to finding attributions that work for the ritualist/member – some people use animals, elements, plants, trees, directions just to name a few.

For a long time now I’ve been utilizing a similar empowerment rite, gleaned from the symbol of the Awen that fits my Heathen IE sensibilities and my Druid philosophy.  However, now that I am becoming more focused on AODA as a philosophical adjunct and gateway by which to practice some of my more Western magikal leanings, I’ve been struggling to come up with an SoP that works with the AODA recommendation in order that I might continue through the grades of the Order sincerely.

Runes are the primary lens through which I view my Heathen practice, Tarot is the lens through which I see my Western Magikal practice and being that AODA is a revival Druid order much of its ritual and teachings fit with modern Tarot wisdom due to a shared history.  These are two very different ways in which to perceive the world – The Runic much more tribal, the Tarot much more Western/modern. I’ve also for some time been conducting a practice in the evenings that incorporates the four tools of Tarot (sword, staff, cup, disc) as devices of empowerment due to the fact that my Western Magikal practice uses Tarot  as a vehicle through which evocation and meditation is accomplished.

My Sphere of Protection

Being that I feel Druidry is a philosophy of the natural world and the immediate surroundings I came up with an SoP that reflects this that still has Elemental and Tarot significance.

  1. Preparation
  2. Forehead – “Sun” (Staff)
  3. Abdomen – “Earth” (Disc)
  4. Right Shoulder – “Star” (Sword)
  5. Left Shoulder – “Moon” (Cup)
  6. Cross – Arms up and out, hands down.  Imagine the light from above and below moving into infinity and the same for the horizontal. Say, ” I am Restored by the Cup of Sympathy, Strengthened by the Disc of Valor, Armed with the Sword of Reason, Supported with the Staff of Intuition.”  A third line of infinite light is imagined extending to the front and behind you.  These lines of radiant light begin to encompass you and create the Sphere of Protection spinning about and within you.
  7. Closing – Breath in the light, calmly enter your normal consciousness.  ” I walk by Moon, Earth, Star, and Sun – with Sympathy, Valor, Reason, and Intuition this day.”
  8. Finish “May all Beings know Peace, Truth, and Dignity.”

I don’t bother with the summoning/banishing of the elements in their appropriate directions as is called for by the full AODA SoP – this doesn’t sit well with me – proclaiming peace, trust, and dignity in all worlds to all beings is enough for me to feel like I’ve acknowledged all realities/allies and been acknowledged in return.

An Update 3/23/18

I’ve made a few changes to my SoP Practice that seem to be working a little better for me:

6. Cross – Instead of using the symbolism and the statement of the “Cup, Disc, Sword, and Staff” I am vocalizing “Light (to coincide with the Sun statement), Life ( Earth), Law (Star), Love (Moon)” – This was inspired by RJ Stewart’s The Way of Merlin (p.83) – as I envision the three dimensional lines extending out and into a sphere of light around me.

7. Closing – Hold hands palm together at chest (namaste pose) and dwell in the light and knowledgeof the sphere of protection created within and without.

8. Finish “May all Beings know Peace, Truth, and Dignity.”

If done in the morning this practice is done twice – Prior to my Stadhagaldr practice and then after.

 

10628072_689764817771541_2600130319204128151_n

 

 

A Little Focus

I was happy to find that my song Chrystalimir Morning found its way onto the OBOD Druidcast for February. I’ve meant for years to get some material recorded for a simple album, perhaps this will help push me in that direction.

I’m working on a few articles for pagan publications and working on my AODA 2nd circle material – Also working on my Masters thesis that is moving slower than I hoped and will probably take longer to complete than I planned. I’m trying to reign in my need to be pulled in so many directions, having multiple projects in my head and on paper at once doesn’t do me any good.

I recently did a webcast on google Hangouts for the tarot game Queesn of Fate and plan to do other such tutorials for similar Tarot and Rune games in the future.  I’ll post those updates here as well going forward.

I’ve also been refining a Rune working that utilizes the Runes in a very mandalic based setup.  I probably won’t be sharing to much of that here, as I’m planning to get it written up along with many other practices that I’ve developed into somethng coherent for modern Erilars (runersters).  Something is not quite right with it, it’s taking too much effort to accomplish what I want through the current interface of Runes and I’m rethinking some of the associations I’ve made.

 

Living Druidry

This year I’m doing a few things to deepen my path.  I have decided to move through the ‘Living Druidry’ course over on the Druid Network.  This is a year long course that focuses on the periods from New Moon to New Moon and is meant to be a seasonal meditation.  Several topics are explored during the month: Moon, Festival, Season, Perception, Element, Humanity, Environment, Self, Creativity, Ethics, and a Review.

Along with this program I’m also developing a practice to cultivate relationships with the handmaidens of Frigga.  I won’t go into detail about these goddesses, only to say that there are twelve, thirteen with Frigg.  Each goddess will be given a moon cycle to commune with and study coinciding nicely with the already mentioned course; the Druidic and the Heathen meditations will work nicely together.

Even though the Living Druidry course is a basic one, I am drawn to it.  Druidry should allow for a conversation with nature, and that should be simple and easy in spirit, a practice that embraces silence, contemplation, and joy.

So there will be at least a monthly post that discusses my monthly movement with the Living Druidry course and how it has deepened my path along with an entry on the handmaiden and the relationship established.

tree

Living Gratitude

Gratitude should be a cultivated virtue by those living a religious life; Gratitude for the earth that sustains us, for the sky that protects us, for the life we live and the challenges we are blessed with and brave enough to overcome.

One of the ways I display my gratitude for the life I live is by leaving gifts of offering.  To digress just a touch, I use prayer beads.  Usually these are beads in the form of a bracelet, sometimes I make them, sometimes I buy them.  They get used alot; when driving, when walking, sometimes when in line at the post office.  I use them mainly to recite the Runes to myself, to ground myself, to stabilize my breathing.  Anyway there comes a time when they fall apart…when they do I gather the beads and carry them in a matchbox in my pocket.

matchbox beads

I’ve got a lot of beads in there now.  So, to continue, I carry these around with me, these beads that I’ve spent hours (probably) turning and spinning with intention and sometimes meditatively, that now have very little use.  What are these beads good for?  Well, as I go about my day I’ll leave them in places as an offering to a place or a person, a building or a parks genius loci,  or a tree that I sit next to for a time.

This is a way for me to cultivate gratitude in my life for the places, things, and events that normally I would take for granted.  I’ve left them in cars, at my workplace, outside when taking a walk, in school rooms, even in bathrooms that were in the right place at the right time – anywhere that I feel needs to be honored for what it has given to me – I say a small prayer of thanks or a prayer of acknowledgment and try to place the bead somewhere out of the way, somewhere safe if possible.

We so easily take things for granted living in a society that caters to our every whim.  My gratitude beads allow me to reflect on the beauty around me daily, and to acknowledge the blessings that go ignored.

 

 

 

Pentangled Practicum – A Tolkien Tribute

A few months back, nearly a year back at this point,  I was looking through John Michael Greer’s book The Celtic Golden Dawn and felt terrible for leaving it sit on the shelf, ignored.  Even though I couldn’t get my head around using it ‘as is’, I thought that there must be something I could do with it. So,very sincerely, I began plugging Tolkien’s Legendarium into it and came up with a personal system I was calling Calaquendi.

I wouldn’t say that this is a dead practice for me, but at this point it has been several months since I practiced it in any legitimate manner.  I merely wanted to post it here and give others a foundation with which to start experimenting with this magic(k)al expression. What I present here is just the first slice of what I had developed.  Perhaps I will begin sharing the many pages of notes I had compiled if interest grows; those regarding altar structure, kabbalistic assignments, and much more…Much of what follows is not explained, but those familiar with Tolkien symbolism will understand why the Awen and the Pentangle are used, or can be used to some effect in a Legendarium based practice.

So, here are some of those original notes —- Any questions or criticisms are always welcome.

(-)

It is a magic(K)al current utilizing the Legendarium of Tolkien. It is highly influenced by the Golden Dawn practicum, but far less rigid and less preoccupied with the toys usually associated with such endeavors.  The impetus with this practice is not worship of the archetypes of the Legendarium but of the building of a bridge between the working area of the magician/practitioner with the liminal world of Tolkien’s mythos.

My foundation for the practice is the book The Celtic Golden Dawn by John Michael Greer.  Because this book attempts to place the Golden Dawn material into a more naturalistic sensibility the modifications needed to make this work are minor.

It’s important to note that Calaquendi is not a Religious quest, it is a magic(K)al one.  By magic(K)al I do not mean hocus pocus and the limited selfishness of material need.  Gareth Knight states in his book The Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend “Magic…is the technique of the control of images and imagination…”(1983). Magic in this sense is then a tool of personal Gnosis and not merely meant to be a path toward the inflation of self for the sole purpose of ego enrichment.  Magic(K) here, and within Calaquendi, is meant to stretch awareness and perspective toward a mythos that grows self in a positive manner and brings the richness of the Legendarium closer to the everyday reality of those practicing such techniques.

Things changed

The core changes have to do with the names and titles of many of the practices from a Druid Revivalist pseudo welsh to Quenya (or an honest attempt to do so) such as those related to practices of the LBRP, Rite of the Rays, and Kabbalah associations. Along these lines, associations found within Greer’s material and the original Golden Dawn material are being modified to suit the mythology of Arda – incorporation of the Two Trees, Silmarils, the Rings, Istari, Vala, etc.

Initial Steps

A preview of  Greer’s The Celtic Golden Dawn can be found here – In order to view the references in the following examples.

One of the first practices within any Golden Dawn derived system is the Magician’s implementation of the Cabbalistic Cross and the Lesser Banishing/Summoning Ritual of the Pentagram. Greer rewrites the Cabbalistic Cross to be the Rite of the Rays within the Celtic Golden Dawn (CGD) which makes use of the modern Druid symbol of Awen:BW-Awen-smallIn the Calaquendi version we will use the Awen symbol as well, but will rewrite some of the terms to work with the Legendarium.

Rite of the Rays (p.31)Calaquendi version performed just as listed in book, but the with changes to the vocalizations;

First Vocalization = Menel (the heavens, firmament, sky)

Second Vocalization = Rainë (peace, good will)

Third Vocalization = Laurë (light)

Fourth Vocalization = Vérë (bond, troth,honor)

Fifth Vocalization = Mi Silmë Maruvan (In starlight I will abide)

Final Vocalization = Eä (pronounced [ˈe.a]) (the world)

 

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (p.32) – Calaquendi version performed just as listed in book, but with changes to the vocalization; Normally a godform is intoned at each direction following the tracing of the Pentagram, instead we are intoning the name of a Vala or Valie.  Once each direction has been signed with a Pentagram and a Vala/Valie vocalized the next process is to vocalize the Element and a Maiar (more immediate beings of earthly interaction) that coincide with both the Element and Vala/Valie.  In the Calaquendi system these Maiar are the Istari, the Wizards that walk among man/elf/dwarf and effect the lands of Arda/Middle Earth directly.  Again this is done exactly as in the CGD – Tracing of Pentagram with Valar vocalized in each direction – then facing the east and the vocalization of the Element and naming the Maiar associated with the Vala the direction and element.

East Vocalizations = Manwë – Air – Olórion

South Vocalizations = Aulë – Fire – Curunír

West Vocalizations = Ulmo – Water – Uinen or Ossë (As Ossë has been tainted by Melkor and is somewhat aggressive due to this I would recommend using Uinen, his consort.)

North Vocalizations = Yavanna Kementári (Q, pron. N [jaˈvanːa ˌkemenˈtaːri] – Earth – Aiwendil

~elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo~

 

A Magikal Dis-Course

I’m pretty much finished attempting to be part of a greater religious community.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that over the last few years my form of practice is entirely personal and rooted in my own studies and understandings.

That’s the same with ‘magik’ practice. For many years I kept my ‘magik’ practice and my religious practice separate, but more and more I’ve come to realize that the perception that they accomplish different goals is false. ‘Magik’ for me these days and for the better part of the last 5-10 years, has come to mean and be a practice of intentionally modifying, or re-discovering consciousness in order to slough off the muck of everyday living.  I’m not saying that what we experience on a day to day basis is false and ‘bad’ only that the activities of outer existence and societal norms begin to stick to us and slowly eat away at the truth of our beings. Religious practice is an engine of ideas that utilizes myth and story to embolden and strengthen us…Magik is similar, but unlike Religion whose myth and story is generated from an outside source, magik cultivates a personal mythic persona of knowledge(s) from within one’s own self following and while in the practice of Doing.

Magik is nothing more than, as Terence Mckenna states “making the Internal External and External Internal.”  Magik is a practice, it’s a Verb not a Noun.  It’s not a Thing but an Action that is done by the Magician. In much the same way that the Psychonaut uses DMT to turn ones own body and mind into an alchemical academy of new insights, Magik is a set of ‘doings’ and learned actions meant to allow the Magician to intentionally re-organize him/herself and repair the damage inflicted by the modern hypnotists of madness. Magikal practice is therefore radical in nature.  It, in my opinion, is an absolute revolt against modernity and consumerism, two powerful ideas that have completely obliterated the Person and the powerful wonder of being and instead replaced these with the idea that Self is discovered through the purchasing of goods, what we choose to clothe ourselves in, and what we choose to drive.  Magik reminds us, when practiced, that we are immensely mysterious beings, that we cannot and should not be limited by the roles we are presented with via advertising and television dramas, that most of what we encounter during our 9 to 5 lives is false and intentionally made to be so.  True experience of the infinite begins once we allow ourselves to return to ourselves; magik is one of the ways that economic systems become powerless, that false avatars of advertising fall, and success becomes redefined.

My magik practice these days is entirely solitary.  I create Mandalic images, either from Tarot or Runes, and seat myself actively or mentally within them. By doing this I force my consciousness to filter away the limits of daily understanding and enter into mythic worlds that are storehouses of ignored wisdom.  In these worlds, as the Magician, I reclaim what has been forgotten, and if necessary or wanted, once reinvigorated, converse with gods or perform acts of focused Intention. Setting oneself apart from others with the goal of renewal and personal rejuvenation is an extremely powerful act in a world that constantly wants us to be connected and defined through endless, usually banal, communication.