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.
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 memorization
- Rune activation in the outer world
- Rune activation in the inner world
- Body awareness
- Breath awareness
- 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.
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.
A few good online sources for this 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.