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.
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.
This post will be a ramble of recent thoughts and reflections on certain practices of mine that have been deepening with time. To include such topics as Taoist Alchemy, Stadhagaldr, non-violence, meditation, and the power of the Breath…I apologize ahead of time for any possible incoherence along the way.
I am a practitioner of Stadhagaldr and that’s where this begins. After having practiced this form of Rune wisdom for several years now I’ve come to realize that it is not merely a mnemonic device for learning Runes. It has become a central part of my Pagan practice out of which everything else arises. In my head, I see it as a form of western QiGong, that branch of eastern Taoist metaphysics that brings energy into the body through movement and stances. SG accomplishes many of the same benefits for the practitioner, but also some unique ones;
Rune activation in the outer world
Rune activation in the inner world
Manipulation of self time
The True Man breathes through the heels, the common man breathes through the throat. (Tao Te Ching 61)
One of the main lessons of SG is that of breath and True Breathing. Breathing is a way to peace and stillness, to rejuvenation and insight, to calm and active intent. In Celtic lore we have the idea of the Cauldrons of Poesy, points of inspiration and power born into every individual; The Cauldron of Warming, of Motion, and Wisdom. These points are easily accessible and fill-able through manipulation of the breath, just as in the practice of chakra enhancement or balancing. In Taoist Alchemical texts we also see the Three Treasures of Essence, Breath, and Spirit, specifically Taoism links the activation of these three treasure in the human with the cultivation of Spirit, breath being the sole tool of development. The Rune Row also has it’s three’s, the entirety of all it’s mystery is found in the order and chaos of three’s..The Aett system is born out of both the physical nature of the world and also the lessons of the multiverse and it’s esoteric components. Breathing becomes a way to activate the body and it’s points of well-ness that inherently reside within. It’s not important to realize these three points, but only to understand that breathing moves and passes through the body and invigorates the self in a progressive manner.
With this in mind, I have found that SG is most powerfully integrated into the self when the breath is not constrained. This means that one should not be focused on deep breathing, or on rhythmic breathing patterns such as 4 seconds in, hold for 2, then out for another 4. It means allowing the breath and body to determine the need of breathing. SG then becomes a way for you to train yourself to be conscious of your breathing and not to hold it or force it, but instead to allow it to move through your body with cause when necessary or with unnoticed ease.
The gentle outlasts the strong.
The obscure outlasts the obvious.
The soft overcomes the hard.
The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just allow people to see the results. (Tao te Ching 36)
A lesson gained from this comes also from a previous post of mine on a dream insight I was given. ” With no enemies, we know peace.” or simply, “No Enemies Know Peace”. If we begin to cultivate peace within ourselves, accepting for ourselves a non-violent attitude toward our own selves, we can begin to overcome outside violence with others and our environments. This is predicate upon understanding that violence is not only physical. We do violence to ourselves with our own thoughts, with what we eat, with our failure to exercise and meditate. Once one begins to focus on the breath as the beginning of peace with ourselves, we begin to make peace with the world at large. When we hold our breath and do not allow it to flow our hearts beat faster, stress invades the body, anxiousness escalates. Learning to release the breath by allowing it to roll untethered is the harbinger of non-violence within and without.
Cultivating Power and Peace with Stadhagaldar
My method of SD is to practice it outside whenever possible, the connection to the land can be a vital part of developing internal power and Rune resonance.
My SG practice:
Stand with arms at your side feet hip width apart. Move your awareness into your feet and breath in and out three times with easy steady breaths. The breath should be thought of as entering the feet and rising into the belly, the exhale then moves up into the chest and out through the top of the head. We want to become the conduit between earth and sky and the breath is how we accomplish this task.
The point here is to become settled with the breath and body, take as long as you need here, evaluate your steadiness and your bodies state of calm.
A single Rune for me has two parts to it’s activation and mingling with the body. The In breath and the Out breath. When we form a Rune we become the lesson prevalent in it’s physical appearance, we are literally bringing that Rune into existence, giving it a tangible appearance and feeling in the world and energizing our selves as well.
Fehu for instance, for me, begins with arms outstretched just as it usually appears. My In breath comes both from the feet and from the lower of the two arms – the In breath meets where the staff of the Rune and the lower arm meet – the Out breath leaves the body through the upper arm and the remaining staff out through the head.
Uruz In breath through the feet and the Out breath through the arms back to the earth.
Thurisaz formed by clasping hand before the chest to create the “O”.
In breath through the feet and to the upper arm, halfway down the turn. The Out breath moves through the rest of the turn and down to the staff, then up and out through the head. For Runes that bare links and “O” shapes, I feel and envision a magnification of energy in the space.
Ansuz In breath is much like Fehu, in through the feet and the lower of the arms. Out breath travels the rest of the staff to the head and out through the upper arm back to the earth.
Raidho form has one foot extended before the other and hands clasped at the crown of the head, elbows bent in front of face. In breath is through both feet. Out breath is energized by the “O” and visualized as being kept within the torso and head.
I’m not going to go through them all, but you get the picture. Once you begin to realize that breathing = intention, and the less you try to force it the calmer and steadier, yet more energetic you’ll be you can move on to a more fluid movement with the Runes. Just remember not to hold the breath, ever, but to allow it to calmly move within the body as needed.
This blog has never been about defining what Paganism is or what MagicK is, it’s always been about what I’m doing in terms of practice. To put it bluntly both MagicK and Paganism and all Religion for that matter are about doing not just about how smart your reading and research is. The two R’s certainly have a place in any practice and philosophical lifestyle, but when it comes down to it if you consider yourself a Magician, an Occultist, or a Pagan and you don’t DO anything, you’re not any of those things. MagicK is Yoga for your head, it stretches your perception, it changes your perspective and that only happens through DOing.
For many years I’ve been using the Tarot as a Mandala for MagicKal work, again by MagicK I mean merely the awakening of perception toward different modes of awareness. This work began with my reading of Donald Tyson’s Portable Magic and became quit quickly a launch point toward a more mystical look at the Tarot and how it is a road map of how the Western Occult tradition has been crafted. For those willing to see the Tarot in this way, both from an esoteric and exoteric standpoint, the Tarot adopts a staggering amount of symbolism that goes beyond the normal prescribed dictates of the ‘this card means that’ profanity. I mention also the term Mandala here as I perceive the formation of the Tarot circle akin to the Mandalas found in Tibetan Buddhism, a form that lends itself to powerful contemplation during it’s construction, in it’s finished state, and in it’s destruction.
With that brief introduction out of the way…I’m beginning what may be a year long working with the Tarot and this form of Mandalic MagicK (that’s a fancy term I just made up). This working entails the summoning or evoking of the 36 Elementals of the Tarot as symbolized and conceptualized through the Minor Arcana. This practice will have several beneficial repercussions:
Disciplined MagicKal practice
Deepening of Tarot knowledge
Contemplation of Elemental Correspondences
Strengthening of Meditative/Visualization skills
The one negative is that this practice does not sit with my Religious practice. This would be wholly a MagicKal practice and not so much a Religious one. Certainly it’s effects will not be static and only mental, they will bleed into the spiritual as well. As this Mandalic MagicK uses Golden Dawn symbolism and therefore stems (primarily) from Kabbalistic wisdom. I’ve convinced myself not to dwell on this too much and make every attempt to view the Tarot in the ways I’ve already described. It wasn’t only the Golden Dawn (and it’s Kabbalistic leanings) that saw things in Elemental standards, and this knowledge predates Jewish mysticism having begun first among the Babylonians as discussed in the Enuma Elish and later developed by the Greeks. So the elemental standard is old and therefore has merit outside of it’s later, and limited, Modern Occult – Golden Dawn – Kabbalah definitions. The division of the internal and outer worlds into Fours and with the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water is very Pagan, as old as society itself, and essential to the human understanding of the world in which we live.
I don’t plan to document every aspect of my evocations here, but may update this blog on occasion with tidbits gathered from the work.
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.
I was thinking one day about the effects of story upon our lives. In today’s era it’s difficult to find good examples of heroism and honor, humility, and what power really is. As a young man I had some good people in my life that were examples of how people should act…but I was probing why I feel the way I do about deeper issues of faith, community, religion, education, and honor. Being over forty, I was even more curious about why things from my youth are still with me, why interests that I had and why stories I enjoyed way back when still live with me on a daily basis.
One of the ways by which I think about stories is through the lens of Tarot (Runes as well, but modern man is more easily definable via the Tarot). The Tarot path holds many lessons and the archetypes found within it arise from history and fiction, religion and humanism, esotericism and exotericism and therefore Tarot encapsulates the whole of modern western culture. Once one is familiar with the symbolism of the Tarot it can be placed like a transparent layer over any story or experience in order to pull out nuances of subtle wisdom.
This post is about me creating a Tarot deck from the Dragonlance series – Which I did, and which is a physical deck that I currently own and conduct readings with. It was born out of me wanting to personally define the importance of it’s characters in my life and why this fictional world (among others) continues to be one that I think about. It is a world of moral questions, of gods and dragons, knights and wizards…I’ll admit I don’t read much (or any) of it these days, but I believe that like any loved story in ones past it still influences me to this day.
I am refraining from posting images of the deck, simply because I wouldn’t want them to be copied, printed, and sold (I have included a snapshot from an online reading done for a client). But I thought I would share some thoughts on the cards I chose and what changes I made. Unlike my Star Wars Tarot which was constructed from already published playing card decks, the Dragonlance Tarot is a cobbled together deck from well known Dragonlance images. Creating a Tarot deck is an interesting task, it was a process of growth that forced me to examine these stories with a new eye. rather than just being entertained by these stories I was looking below the surface, probing the motivations of characters, wondering why the authors built the world the way they did, why it functions the way it does.
It is a complete set of Tarot, 78 cards. It uses only well known Dragonlance images and novel cover art, but for the Moon and Sun cards. The Minor Arcana, the pips, are not images, but like older decks are merely numbered.
The cards: Lances = Wands and the courts are represented by Heroes. Orbs = Cups and are represented by wizards and clerics; Swords = Swords and represented by knights; Pentacles = Discs and represented by Dragons.
Court Cards: Lances = King is Tanis, Queen is Laurana, Knight is Gilthas, Page is Gerard; Orbs = King is Dalamar, Queen = Crysania, Knight= Palin, Page= Elistan; Swords = King is Sturm, Queen is Kitiara, Knight is Steele, Page is Mina; Discs = King is Aurican, Queen is Malys, Knight is Skie, Page is Chaos dragon/draconian.
Major Arcana: 0 = Tas, 1= Raistlin, 2= Goldmoon, 3 = Heart/Silvara/Humas Tomb, 4= Huma, 5= Flint, 6=Caramon and Tika, 7= Citadel, 8= Kerianseray, 9=Porthios, 10= Stars of Krynn, 11= Cataclysm, 12= Kerrick, 13= soth, 14= Caramon, 15= Takhisis, 16= High Clerists tower, 17=Lost Citadel, 18=Tower of Moon/Takaluras, 19= Tower of the Sun/Qualinost, 20= Kingpriest, 21= Inn of the Last Home/Solace.
If you’ve read my Star Wars tarot posts you know that I go into some detail about why certain cards were used. Being that this deck is so unique I th0ught I’d do the same.
Highlights of the Major Arcana:
the Fool: Tasslehoff Burrfoot is the Fool. He exemplifies the idea of Wanderlust (as does the Fool), moving before thinking just for the sake of the experience and new adventure. He is also changed by his voyages and perhaps in the end the most wise of all the archetypes. Is the Fool the beginning of wisdom or the end result of life’s adventures?
the Magician: Raistlin. The Magician doesn’t necessarily have to be a good character but merely one who understands power and the elements by which power is attained/accomplished. Raistlin here is depicted in his study within the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas, ready to delve deeper into the mysteries of existence and magic.
Strength: This is Kerianseray a Kagonesti elf (wild elf) and rebel. Her nickname is the Lioness. She is a servant when we first meet her in the series, behind the scenes she however is a warrior fighting for her people. Strength is the card that holds the wisdom of subtle power, a power that comes from gentleness rather than physical force, a strength of intellect that is like a yoke for physical prowess – brute force tempered with knowledge and patience.
the Hangman: This card depicts Kerrick, a dark elf (outcast) of Silvanesti. The image shows him floating on a bit of ice following his exile and on his way to Icewall. Along with the unsteady nature of the ice and water, Kerrick much like the Hangman is unsure of where he will start or end his journey.
Temperance: Caramon. Caramon is a man of heart and action. His greatest asset is compassion and the love he has for his friends and brother. Like the lessons of Temperance Caramon tries to balance many things in his life that sometimes cannot be reconciled. In the end he realizes that some things must be left behind in order to find happiness.
the Tower: Probably one of the heaviest scenes in all of Dragonlance. I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read Dragons of Winter Nights. The tower here is the High Clerists Tower and it’s being tested by the armies of Takhisis. Sometimes destruction and obstacles make us stronger and force us to rebuild or reconfigure our lives.
the Moon: This is the Tower of the Moon found in Dargonesti (I believe), it is the residence of the Speaker of the Moon. These elves are water elves and their cities are undersea. The moon card has a deep relationship with water and its illusory nature.
Judgmenet: The Kingpriest is depicted here. Judgement is not justice and it doesn’t mean a balanced or wise indivisual is dispensing it. Judgement merely tells us that it’s time to choose something- good, indifferent, or bad.
the World: This shows Solace, more specifically the Inn of the Last Home. The home, or at least the base for the heroes. Solace is the example by which right and justice are evaluated in Dragonlance. It’s a place of beauty and ‘home’, the place where the adventure begins, and what the heroes are fighting to maintain as the example of social order.
This deck being based off of Rider-Waite symbolism I thought some direct comparisons would be interesting:
The pic I used for the High Priestess depicting Goldmoon in this role is from the cover of Dragons of Autumn Twilight:
Goldmoon mirrors the original RW example very well. She is the holder of ancient wisdom and the medium between which the old worlds and the new communicate, the gateway through which the old gods return to a world that has forgotten them, the balance between opposites. Both cards depict the HP holding the important occult vessels, important artifacts of hidden lore. Some quotes from Waite’s The Pictorial Key to the Tarot illustrate how closely these versions relate to one another:
“The scroll in her hands is inscribed with the word Tora, signifying the Greater Law, the Secret Law and the second sense of the Word.”(1)…According to Kabalism, there is a Shekinah both above and below. In the superior world it is called Binah, the Supernal Understanding which reflects to the emanations that are beneath. In the lower world it is MaIkuth–that world being, for this purpose, understood as a blessed Kingdom that with which it is made blessed being the Indwelling Glory.”(2)
This passage directly discusses the power of the HP to unit heaven and earth which can be seen signified by the Blue Crystal Staff held by Goldmoon in the picture touching the earth and the sky. Further… “Mystically speaking, the Shekinah is the Spiritual Bride of the just man, and when he reads the Law she gives the Divine meaning.”(3)
Elistan (portrayed as the Page of Orbs in the DL Tarot) who is healed by Goldmoon via the Staff and the power of the old gods, eventually is able to read the Discs of Mishakal which relate the laws of the old gods.
The previous example is exactly how a seeker after the mystery of the Tarot delves into symbolism. It begins with a concrete image and begins to flower into a mosaic of pieces that fit together in odd correspondences.
Perhaps I will post a second DL Tarot article that compares other cards shortly.
1,2,3.Arthur Edward Waite (2014-06-15). The Pictorial Key To The Tarot (Illustrated) (p. 39). . Kindle Edition.