I thought with this post I would continue my exploration of the Dragonlance Tarot. Again this Tarot is not for sale, and was not meant to be a profitable venture. It was meant merely as a way for me to investigate the lessons gleaned from a world of good, evil, and neutrality; heroism, courage, and villainy.
If you read this blog, you noticed that I left ADF a few years ago, chronicled here: Updates, Memberships, and Resignations. What you may not know is that I joined again in June 2015. I rejoined because I found myself still thinking and practicing as an ADFer, using the same format for my daily devotionals and seasonal rites. I lived with my decision to leave for a year, thinking through my decision,and making sure that rejoining was a positive choice.
I rejoined just after a horrible decision to consolidate the power of the organization at the ‘top’ in a vote that came from the very people the bylaw was changed to benefit. I can no longer be part of an organization that fails to live by it’s own established set of virtues. Clergy that would undermine the membership the way they did deserve to have the title of Clergy revoked. I can no longer be a member of an organization that is morally and ethically empty.
A very good summary of the events can be found here: Nerdy Druid: Community before Clergy
Many members have left over this decision and honestly I would have never returned had I known of this Bylaw change. The Archdruid, under whose hand this Bylaw was passed will go down as the worst AD in the organization. He splintered the organization, created a Hierarchy that mimics that of the majority religion, and caused groves and members to leave out of protest. ADF is now an organization that ignores its membership and rules with a heavy hand from the Mother Grove:
From the Sixth piece of business of the February 2015-April 2015, Mother Grove Minutes –
Point was raised that by making the proposed changes to the positions of AD and VAD, by a board of mostly clergy members, this would look like the clergy protecting themselves.
It was pointed out that adding the requirement of clergy would shrink the pool of candidates to approximately 30 people, that are their own gatekeepers to whom gets into the group without any input from the membership.
These statements point to the fact that concerns were raised by MG members and Clergy in attendance, but were summarily ignored. The change to the organization was done anyway…virtue be damned. Let’s be clear, this ruling limits the highest offices to a sliver of the actual membership. It limits the office of the AD and VAD to members who have the time to dedicate to the pseudo-Academic training of the organization, training programs with little to no oversight. And the vote came from those having the capacity and resources to attend MG activities and festivals…
It’s one thing to join an organization that already has this type of Bylaw on the books, it is another to ask members to remain following such a fundamental change to the organization they’ve been part of for 10/20/25 years, a change without vote or member consideration or notice.
If ADF’s plan was to institute a Caste System similar to that of the ancient Indo-Europeans it has succeeded, there is now an “Us” and a “Them” within its circles and groves of worship.
I for one can no longer be part of such an organization.
Pagans love their symbols. I gave a workshop not to long ago on Tarot, after the short work shop was over a participant asked what a specific symbol meant. My answer, which was not appreciated, was to say that it could mean many things, it all depends on what books you’ve read and what Religious/Magickal/Cultural system you’re working in.
Those who have been involved in Magickal/Mystical/Faith research for many years understand that symbolism is a tool, and there are no sure meanings for anything, especially symbols.
There are really two main symbols of modern Druid practice and philosophy. The Druid Sigil and the Awen. Are there more, yes…but this is not meant to be an all inclusive historical blog post, merely my insights on the two that I use most often.
The Druid Sigil
This symbol was the invention of the Reformed Druids working from out of the Carleton College Druid group. This symbol resonants for me, and always has. I think its power is in the fact that it has no true meaning. One can contemplate its two lines and circle for years and come up with several working paradigms for reflection and utilization. One question is why this symbol came out of the mind of a NeoDruid in the first place – that in itself is a thing worth contemplating.
There are several ways that I utilize the Druid Sigil; As a symbol of meditative contemplation, a Gate symbol, a symbol of blessing, and as a symbol of consecration/hallowing/purification. When working acts of Sorcery I invoke it prior to whatever work I’m planning as a way to hallow an area and separate it from mundane space. I’m not one for outbursts or directional declaration so I simply trace the figure and extend it out into the area I’m working. A mental image of peace in all spheres of existence and all directions may follow the invocation of the symbol, but it’s not a hard and fast ritualistic affair.
Being that the symbol itself has no set meaning it is an apt sigil for the nebulousness of Druidry and it’s philosophy. I like the fact that it is probably a completely post-modern creation, that because of that it addresses the mystery of Druidry and modern pagan faith expressions. Like Druidry the Druid Sigil reminds those who consider themselves Druidish that they practice a philosophy/faith/cult that is itself a mystery demanding to be scrutinized and understood through the lens of inspiration, practiced with a hint of academic obfuscation. After all the history of modern Druidry is a complex thing, sometimes serious and at other times silly, I like the fact that the Druid Sigil is a very serious/non-serious symbol of ‘who-knows-what’.
The Awen is symbol I don’t utilize to much, but it has it’s place in my practice. The symbol is also a modern creation, but one with an ineresting past. Essentially, according to the inspired mythos put forward by Iolo Morganwyg the Awen represents the knowledge attained by a giant (the first being) from the All/God/Creator. I won’t rehash the mythology, but it is certainly a myth that easily fits with those who study and implement Indo-European mythology and cosmology into their practices.
I see the Awen as symbol of inspired lore. Usually it is used to mean Inspiration and is intoned to reflect this idea. For me it is a reflection of the wisdom and meta-language of Rune wisdom. It’s rays coincide with the three Aetts and it’s story – that it is fundamentally a matrix of lore of all existence, and that it was given to Einigan ( a giant or Jotun) and then discovered by another traveler (Odin) after the Giants destruction. I’m not saying that the Awen is actually the Rune row, but it is a mental association that I have come to utilize and may be helpful to others that incorporate a Revival era Druid knowledge into a Heathen religious practice.
More fundamentally, for me, the Awen also represents three tenets of Druidry that I think are important: Peace, Knowledge, and Power or Truth, Illumination, and Will or The Gods, Ancestors, and Nature. These symbols are powerful and as you can see, personal.
Here’s a bit of personal Rune wisdom. I look for relationships among the Runes; relationships of opposites, of like themes, relationships that detail a progression from one idea to the next. If you’re path is Indo-European oriented and not just modern Occult or Wiccan influenced you’re probably not dealing in the paradigm that utilizes the four elements as it’s base. Instead you’ve probably come to the conclusion that 3 is the magic number, the elemental standard and the idea of 4 was not so much an Indo-European idea but certainly was in use in the ancient middle east and greatly influenced the Hermetic traditions.
The Runes hold this wisdom. Not just in the apparent setup of the Aetts, which literally means Clan, and displays the common social structure found in many Indo-european cultures; The Aett of Fehu = Farmer (workers, laborers, land-tenders), The Aett of Hagal = Warriors, and The Aett of Tyr = Wise Rulers (Kings, Lawyers, Priests). If one understands the Runes well enough, they begin to reveal patterns among themselves, these patterns blossom from Aett to Aett, between and among Runes that at first seem to have little in common and are not in the same Aett.
In my previous post A Rune Meditation I discussed one such relationship between Eiwhaz and Jera. However, other important Rune combinations are found using Runes not in pairs that may contradict each either, such as the pair relationships that begin with Eiwhaz and Jera and working outward through the Rune row, threesome combinations also divulge a deeper knowledge and display a coherence among the Runes that invalidates any inklings of randomness to the order of the Futhark.
A very important threesome in my practice is the Raidho, Eiwhaz, and Laguz threesome. These Runes are all fourth in their particular Aetts and afford a wealth of knowledge to the Runester. The complex revealed here in a not so occult manner is the ancient concept of Sky, Sea, and Stone or Fire, Well, and Tree or Upper, Mid, and Under Worlds.
Raidho is the wheel and holds the mysteries of not only travel and change but also the esoteric relevance of Cosmic Movement and the Order of the heavens above, represented by the Cosmic Wheel of the Sun and Stars, order out of chaos.
Eiwhaz is the axis, that which unites below and above, chaos and reason, and all polarities. It is Yggdrassil the great holder of Worlds, that which extends from the great wells of chaotic mystery and wisdom to the heights of Asgard and the realms of Reason.
Laguz is the water of the psychic current found within mankind and Esoterically represents the Wells of original unbridled and ancient wisdom. That which is embodied by the Underworld and the water of chaos.
Meditation upon this threesome can be an eye opening experience. I’d recommend laying out the entire Rune row vertically to begin understanding this threesome better. A meditation with the three can begin by taking 3 breaths to develop awareness of the Well symbolized by Laguz beneath you, 3 breaths to realize the Tree symbolized by Eiwhaz within you, and 3 breaths to become aware of the turning of Raidho above you followed by 9 breaths to link them together. Breath in bringing up the powers of Laguz (the Well) through Eiwhaz ( the Tree) to Raidho (the Fires of cosmic light and reason). The out breath then begins with Raidho down through Eiwhaz and to Laguz. So awareness of the world beneath, the body, and the head and beyond becomes a powerful tool for self awareness and balance.
So, it’s been about a month since leaving ADF. I’m not sure yet where I stand…kind of odd to still be using much of the liturgy found within the Org and yet not officially being a part of it. But then the ritual structure of Fire, Well, Tree: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, Gods – certainly is not ADF exclusive as it has it’s roots in Indo-european myth and cosmology and can be easily found with very little research.
I have contemplated more than once why I don’t just rejoin if my practice is going to be similar to what it’s been for the near decade of my membership. But then my leaving wasn’t necessarily based on my agreement or disagreement with the philosophy behind the Orgs ritual frame (although I do have certain issues with it and have for years trimmed away much of what I didn’t like)….it was more on the current motivating vision found in the physical Org.
It’s been rather cathartic being a freelance pagan again. Though no member of any Org should ever feel locked into a certain mode of religious practice – not being a card holding member of this or that feels a bit boundless. I’ve thought about membership in a few other Orgs…AODA, The Troth, FoDLA, OBOD, RDNA to name a few. I did join the Troth, as I feel the richness of the membership pool and the openness of their ritual form still allows me the freedom to pursue a practice that is mine. Also the Troth is of value to me in that it is specifically Germanic/Norse/Teutonic based, and positive in it’s outlook. One of the things that annoyed me about being in ADF was that I had to explain what my membership meant. I’ve never considered myself a ‘Druid’ and I’m not a Celtophile, I’d always have to add a cavaet about being a Heathen within a primarily Celtic/Druid leaning organization, it gets tiring.
If I were to join a ‘Druid’ org again it would probably be along the lines of RDNA or OBOD, a more philosophically based form of Druidry that is more personal and less dogmatic, and not as Theistic. However I don’t feel the need to belong to any of these yet or to support them with my dues or membership…I’m still trying to cleanse my palate a bit. If there’s one thing I’m questioning after leaving ADF is my Hard Polytheist stance while under it’s banner. That’s not to say that I’m not as pious in my practice only that it seems to be changing.
I’m also thinking deeply about getting an independent Heathen group off the ground in my area, a challenging endeavor that has failed in the past.
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 (I perhaps fall into this category on occasion), even experiencing it directly…and that feeling has only grown through the years. That’s not to say that I’m not proud to be a member (or past member) of an academically rigourous Org, but it has its place. 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.
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, and this is by far not the be all end all reason for thinking of moving on and out of the Org. 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.
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.
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.