Druish and those Druids

I’ve been doing tons of soul searching these days about this Druish (Druid) thing –   Is it important to have in my life? And why? And what does that mean?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is important in my life and not in the way that it has been previously.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that for me Druidry is not a Religion in and of itself, at least not to someone like myself who practices a very Heathen/Norse Religion.  For me Druid/Druish goes beyond any kind of specific tenet or dogma or even mythology.  It carries with it a history of Nature, Truth, and Mysticism that has a definition hundreds of years long through many varied changes, organizations, and minds.  It’s difficult to say for me that any particular era in that long history is any more relevant than another…

orig-14199131

I’ve been trying on the operations and rituals of a few different Druid groups. Most have very Wiccan-esque, Golden Dawn inspired aspects that just don’t sit well with me.  I mainly stick with a Fire, Well, Tree composition as the basis for much of my religious work, which stems from studies of Indo-european mytho constructs.  I’m just not well suited to a Hermetically inspired religious framework I’m finding, so most of the revival era Druidisms are not cutting it.  More than anything I’m personally finding that Druidry is not a central focus of my practice but an addition.  My practice is not going to change drastically and if you’ve read my Morning Devotional posts you’re more or less familiar with it.  I am very happy with my Religious practice as it is and I’m not going to pepper it with components that don’t jive with it such as directional honorings or elemental correspondences or cabalistic craziness.  I’m still working on a personal definition of Druid –  but Nature, Truth, Mysticism (a definition that sat well with me some 10-15years ago) pretty much sums it up,  though one of Peace, Knowledge, and Power sounds good too. Those definitions don’t contain a ‘this is how Druids do ritual’ or this is what they believe slogan, it merely holds a philosophical outlook.

So where does that leave me.  I think it leaves me with RDNA, or it’s like; A non-hierarchical, non-dogmatic, and a very non-specific form of Druishishness that is not Revival based, but is Reformed and open.  The one thing I didn’t like about ADF is that it calls itself a Religion ” ADF will be a Neopagan religion..,” in the words of it’s founder, Isaac Bonewits.  I can respect that vision, but it’s not what Druid means to me.

I’m left wondering still if I need to belong to or support a Druid organization or if my current practice is enough.  Druidry does not modify my practice but energizes it, it is not a practice in and of itself but a mindset…in the end perhaps it really doesn’t matter one way or another.

 

Morning Everyday Practice

My daily morning practice:

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

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

-Light Candle-

Well

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

Fire

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

Tree

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

Brief pause for reflection on Well, Tree, and Fire

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

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

Brief pause for reflection on opening of gates.

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

Once the work is finished I close the devotional

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

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

 

Yggdrasil
Yggdrasil

Contemplation of Continuance

My ADF membership is up next month.  I’m going on eight years of membership with the organization known as Ár nDraíocht Féin, but I’m not a joiner by nature and when confronted with the request to update my membership I pause and reflect.

Me (gray shirt)+ the Grove Organizer of EDPG @ ADF/Grove info booth PPD 2009

Have I grown as a religious person because of membership?

The short answer is yes.  I have been challenged by the organization and I think I may have challenged it along the way.  My practice is more focused and deeper because of my stay with the ‘Druid’ organization.  I am more pious, more devoted, and more fruitful in my practice.

Is ADF an organization that does good?

If I’m a member of something I damn well feel that the org should be good.  And I mean that in every aspect…It must be good for the membership as a whole and it must be good for the person.  More importantly it must be good for the religious community and not just the ‘Pagan’ one.

I have found ADF to be overall good.  There are always those who rock the boat, who place self above  the whole, and who may seek ambition in spite of the general good…but overall my experience with ADF has been positive, and I do believe that its members seek the highest good and progress for others.

Have I learned?

Yes.  I completed the Dedicant Program a few years into my membership.  In my mind the DP is one of the best learning programs in the ‘Pagan’ sphere of education.  ADF does not seek to bolster it’s own hypothesis of  what ‘Paganism” should be, instead it presents courses that require academic and scholarly brashness.  Certainly there is a bit of ADF attitude involved in the programs – it’s liturgy is somewhat specialized, but it is also an example of the academic evolution one sees in the organization.  The honesty of the training and the work involved in accomplishing ADF’s offered courses is stellar and comparable in my mind to college level research and course work.

My plan was and still is to continue my studies with ADF – moving toward clergy or initiate status when time permits.

Is ADF fun?Copy of adf-roots-enc

ADF holds the ideal of openness in ritual and grove conduct.  This allows for gatherings of friends and strangers alike.  Like our ‘Pagan’ ancestors ritual is open and calls the people of a community to worship and renew bonds between people, the land, their gods, and ancestors.  In this case ADF excels in bringing people together and also therefore in respecting the fellowship and differences that can be highlighted by such ventures.

The rites I first led were ADF inspired within a small grove, in fact some of the largest rites I’ve attended were ADF rites under a blue sky in the light of mid-day.  I was proud to be a ‘Pagan’ in those rites, and I still am because of ADF’s need to serve the community in the open, not arrogantly displaying their faith but honorably devoted to ancient truths and wisdom once again explored and acknowledged.

Yes or No?

In the end I will rejoin.  Though I don’t call myself a Druid, ADF is more about honestly looking toward the Indo-European mindset and practice.  It is not beholden to it however, and the organization does allow for the wisdom that modernity has given to humanity.  I think it does good, and I think there is more to learn within the organization that perhaps I would not learn outside of it.

Power and Posture

Lately I’ve been incorporating Stadhagaldr – or Rune Yoga – into my weekly outdoor runs.  I’ve gotten into the habit of performing the 24 stances of the Elder Futhark at the park around which I run.  Taking a few minutes to pause and stand near one of the older large trees, I establish myself in the area by taking a few breaths and commence with the positions.

For a few years now Rune Yoga has been a staple of my practice, but mainly an indoor one.  Performing this practice outside has allowed me to to garner a new insight from this practice.  Articulating that new insight is difficult, but it has to do with understanding that the Runes at once are both representative of the Mysteries of Self and Soul and also of the Mysteries that concretely expose the practitioner to the wonder of Nature and Universe.

Post Modern/Modern Stadhagaldr

The practice of Rune Yoga has a rich history.  In the early years of the Germanic Runic and Occult revival magicians such as F.B Marby and S.A. Kummer were exploring the practice of stadhagaldr.  Others have proposed that Rune Yoga may have been practiced by the paleopagan Rune magicians as well…this hypothesis is one I’m not ready to agree with, but historical practice is not always the best way to legitimize a modern practice anyway.   There is some evidence that the modern habit of teaching Scandinavian children the alphabet by encouraging them to assume letter postures stems from the ancient practice of stadhagaldr…another factoid I’m not willing to give 100% credence too but interesting nonetheless.

A modern martial arts form has also been established that includes the use of Runes as its basis for technique and form.  This practice is called Stav.

“Ivar Hafskjold learned the essentials of Stav as a young man in the post war period. He later spent 14 years in Japan where he went to advance his martial skills to the highest possible level. When he returned to Europe and settled in the UK in the early 1990s he realised that if Stav were not taught outside of the family it would be lost altogether. In order to ensure the contiuity of the tradition Ivar taught a small number of students who have developed the tradition according to their own needs and talents.”

Now the importance of all these modern Rune techniques is not found in their historical truth or in an implied heritage or tradition.  The importance for me is the realization that Runes are not a stagnant wisdom/mystery and that the establishment of an  individual (unique) practice is vital to the Rune magician, seeker, or practitioner.  Remember that Odin, the primary Rune Magician did not invent the Runes, he “Won” them.  The sincere Runester therefore, in a manner that incorporates a process of intuitive practice via the Self, should consider ways to  emulate the effort of Odin’s winning  toward his or her own Runic winning and WONder.

Jan Fries in Seidways contemplates the nature of Seid – that form of Teutonic magic linked with shamanic activity and the womanly sphere of wisdom.  He postulates that Seid, translated to seeth, literally is a kind of  self-induced shaking.  In chapter 12 of Seidways he lists several effects of Seething or Shaking: To Release Strain and Tension – To Change Perception – To Get Some Rest – For Controlled Muscle Activity – To Stay Warm – To Enjoy Long Trances – To See Eidetic Visions – To Imagine and Visualize – To change the State of the Mind – To Simulate Crisis or Disillusionment; some of these are mundane in their application and others can lead to trance states and visionary experiences.  Fries also talks of friends who use light body tremors in order attune to and to properly see an environments energy or as a way to determine a places sacredness.hagal

The reason why I bring up Fries’ book is because it conforms to my understanding that embodying Runes via stadhagladr can be a powerful component in the manipulation of the physical body allowing for the union of mind, thought, understanding, memory, soul, and deep ancestral wisdom.  There is nothing inherently magic(K)al about this process, it is only a form of thoughtful physical meditation.  But as Fries discusses in his book certain postures may also force the body to tremble, and may therefore effect some kind of change in consciousness.  I have experimented with this hypothesis by using the Runes as Seething instigators but have yet to develop a series of movements or stationary forms that force a lapse in waking consciousness.

Daily Stadhagaldr

The 3 components of successful Stadhagaldr practice are Vocalization – Concentration – Movement

Vocalization of the Rune – This should be done either out loud or internally when assuming the Rune position

Concentration upon the Rune – Fixation upon the Runes meaning and its esoteric and/or exoteric meaning when assuming the Rune form.

Movement – This is obviously the assumption of the Rune forms.

I would encourage any Runester to begin a rigorous practice of exploration with stadhagaldr. Only through implementation and practice does one begin to understand how to propel oneself into the mytho-psychological paradigm associated with the mystery of the Runes.

At times I liken Stadhagaldr to the Yoga of the east, at other times I associate it with a Martial Art form, and quite often I use it in a way comparable to Qi-Gong.  I sing the runes, just hum them, or internally vocalize them; I concentrate on their physical appearance,  or in an attempt to fully embody them I visualize them within me as I form them, and I send them out into the environment to empower, bless, or manipulate an area.

This is a rich subject, one that cannot be fully addressed within a simple blog posting.   To bring this post back to it’s genesis I would say that my effort to bring stadhagaldr into an outdoor and public setting has allowed a much richer and more powerful synthesis between myself and the wider reality.  A Communion with the earth and sky and that which is between seems to make stadhagaldr even that much more focused and intentional.

Faith and Title: What I don’t want

After reading John’s fantastic post “Why we need a statement of Pagan “first principles” over at the Allergic Pagan, a great blog by the way, I felt the need to spew about the nature of Paganism as a defining word.

What frightens and annoys me the most about modern Pagans and Neo-Pagans:

The need to be labeled

The need to be justified

The need to be heard

There are other things but these three things are at the top of the list.

The need to be labeled is something that we’ve picked up from other religious systems and communities.  We have to be different and we have to be uniquely apart from the rest.  “Our faith is different and we have to prove it!” the Pagans say with fists clenched – But who are the Pagans?  What would they be wearing, what symbol sets them apart, what tenets do these monolithic Pagans hold dear?

Why do we need to label ourselves? And what if the labels we pick fail to describe anything at all?

The trend I’m seeing is that people who would have considered themselves Pagan ten to fifteen years ago, and even five years ago, are now choosing to leave that term behind.  I see this happening not because the terms Pagan and Neo-pagan fail in their description but because Pagan is now a label growing on it’s own and moving at  incredible pace outside of the control of those who had once chosen to incorporate it.  This effect is a kind of cultural engine not only changing the community under it’s banner but  the Religious world in which its bubble of uniqueness exists alongside other bubbles.  So, then you may ask, shouldn’t we mold Pagan into a term that is ours to define so that others don’t use it incorrectly?

John Hagee recently used the word Paganism in connotation with the evils of environmentalism (his words)..along with a host of even more blatant falsehoods about Buddhism and Islam.  Here’s the problem with labeling an entire conclave of religions under the banner of Paganism.  It’s generic and the term becomes misused – Pagan is not only a noun but an adjective that describes a type of belief and not a specific one.  The difference Pagans have with their self described label as compared to other faiths is that an individuals Paganism may be a complete 180 from her neighbors.

My conclusion is that the only thing the label Pagan does is obfuscate the sincerity of Joe the generic Pagan’s path.  We want labels because we live in a world that demands concise material to hold onto and understand.  A Christian believes in Christs redemptive properties, a Buddhist believes that Siddartha Gautama reached enlightenment and thus so can she, a Muslim holds that Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah.  Unlike Christians, or Buddhists, or Muslims there is not one thing that we all can agree on, because Pagan is not a term like Christian or Muslim, it does not say to those outside of my community that I’m an Odinist or that I’m a follower of Artemis or that I don’t care about divinity at all, nor does it specify my practice limiting it to one set of beliefs or delusions.  But, don’t all Pagans consider the Earth sacred?  No they don’t, again Pagan has no central dogmatic principle…even though our “leaders” have tried extremely hard to provide one.

More opinions to come…

Developing ritual

Getting a group off the ground is difficult.

One challenge has been to develop a ritual that is honest to what the group focus will be.  One thing I hope to avoid is an overtly Wiccanized form of ritual – that is a ritual with four corners (watchtowers) and other western occult forms.  Also limitations of organizational liturgy are to have little place in the group.  In other words the group is not being formed in order to adhere to already established forms of ritual.  Specifically here, I didn’t want my practice and experience with ADF to color my ritual format for the group.  Also the vision for the group is to allow members to worship and develop a ritual format of their own that comes from their own studies.  Eventually, the hope is not to have an established form of ritual but merely one that conforms to the point of the group, that point being to honor and worship in the Heathen way.

To be more specific: The group may not be limited to one ritual form.  The ritual form will grow as members work and study.  A ritual created by me will have a form different than one created by another member.  The goal is not liturgy but the development of a practical and personal way to enliven the self within the sphere of Heathenry.

The ritual form I’ve been playing with so far is:

Hallowing of the area (both within and without) Vertical axis – Niflheim, Midgard, Asgard primarily done via visualization of Yggdrasil with offerings to the Well(Niflheim), Tree (yggdrasil), and Fire (Asgard) (similar to ADF form).

Hallowing cont. – Rune-singing which is meant to establish the mythic realm upon Midgard and further develop the parting of worlds. Runes are sung in a clockwise manner.  This is not to setup a boundary but to set apart the area from the mundane surroundings.

Hallowing cont. – Hammer hallowing;  mighty Mjollnir is called upon to hallow the land.  The hammer may be swung in each direction, or its head simply placed upon the ritual center, then returned to the altar.

Offerings and gifts – Gods, ancestors, wights of the rite will be given offering and magic(k), siedr, galdr done.

Blessings returned – A portion of the libation given to the being or beings will be given to the people to share refreshment with the gods/beings called, and to receive blessing in return.

Rite closing – Beings thanked, Runes internalized, blessing given to Thor for Mjollnirs hallowing.

So that’s where I’m at with the ritual.

Other things to think about are:

Location for rituals

Monthly meetings

Discussion times that relate to the groups focus, lessons, and lore.

Membership

 

 Havamal 47.
Young and alone on a long road,
Once I lost my way:
Rich I felt when I found another;
Man rejoices in man

A kind of Magic: Followup

Wednesday night I held an ADF/Druidry style rite.  It was for the local group of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, who are mostly Wiccan.  Due to some rain and wind that rolled in just as we were about to setup, the rite was moved indoors.  About twenty people gathered in a sitting circle around the cauldron of fire and the bowl of water that served as the Well.

It went well.  My rite included many of the ADF norms and followed the COoR pretty well.  The only things I left out were the Gatekeeper and full honorings to the Kindred.  My inspiration for the ritual format came from two ADF scripts  concerning Full Moon rituals: #1  and #2

 
POHANSKÝ MĚSÍC by MIROSLAVA ZAPLETAL

The reason for leaving these out was a personal choice.  I felt that since this was meant to be an Esbat ritual, honoring the Full (harvest) Moon, it wasn’t necessary to call upon the Gatekeeper to relay our actions and part the veil between worlds.  As the Moon (Mani) is seen in Midgard as well as all the other worlds I felt our deeds and words would be readily seen and heard.  My decision to leave the Gatekeeper out naturally led to my decision to leave out offerings to the Ancestors and the gods…not because these aren’t important, but because the focus of the rite was specifically geared toward the Full Moon and Mani’s immediate and very timely effects.

We did honor the Landwights (nature spirits) simply because no rite in my opinion has any standing unless the local spirits are accepting of what is taking place.  We also honored Mani, as the Moon, being that the rite was Heathen in its cultural focus.

Three people volunteered to take up the roles of Warrior,Bard, and Seer.  They did a wonderful job.

Here’s a bit from the ritual script:

We gather as a people, as the folk of this land and place To honor the passing of time, the culmination of deeds and actions.

To begin anew.

 We gather this night, on the night of the full moon to honor Manni, he who travels the dark sky, who travels the day and reckons time, to stand within the light of mystery and the light of magic.

From the Alvissmal Manni is named;

‘Moon’ with men, ‘Flame’ with gods,

‘The Wheel’ in the house of helheim;

‘The Goer’ to the Jotuns,  ‘The Gleamer’ to the dwarfs,

and whome The elves name ‘The Teller of Time’.” 

I developed a short meditation, not unlike the Two Powers meditation, meant to meld within the participants the power/blessing of the land and Landwights with the magic and mystery of the Full Moon.   This was followed by a time of personal offerings and magic.  Many chose to participate in this, and the words of those offering sacrifice into the flame were incredibly moving.  Followed by the Omen and then the return flow of the ‘Waters of Life’.

It was a good night.

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Listening to: Medwyn Goodall – [Spring #01] Fresh Is The Morning [foobar2000 v1.0.2.1]
via FoxyTunes