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Posts Tagged ‘CTP-Prelim’

10.    Describe other possible models for the “Filling Out the Cosmic Picture” sections. (minimum 100 words)

Filling out the cosmic picture is the way in which we call the various beings into our ritual center to take place in our rite. Most typically, this is done in three invocations to the three kindreds. This could also be done as three invocations to the beings of Land, Sea, and Sky (particularly if the ritual was of a Celtic bent) (Corrigan “Worlds”), or by invocations to the beings of the Underworld, Middleworld, and Upperworld (Dangler), since depending on the cosmology, there are deities in all three places, and ancestors can go to various homes, such as going to Folkvangr/Valhalla instead of to Helheim (in the underworld). If the ritual is to be Germanic/Norse in hearth, there might be nine worlds that are opened/called upon, instead of the usual three, or an Irish ritual might call upon the five provinces. The ritual could also use pictures or representations of the three kindred instead of (or in addition to) doing called/vocal invocations, especially for a ritual that included large groups of people, as this would connect with different senses than just sound and imagination.

11.    Discuss how one would choose the focus (or focuses) for the Key Offerings. (minimum 100 words)

Generally speaking, the focus of the key offerings should match the beings of the occasion, the purpose of the ritual, or both (Newburg). For the 8 high days, there is commonly attributed lore for what kind of deities and offerings would be appropriate (calling upon fertility deities and offering seeds and flowers at Beltane, for example). For magical workings, there are myriad lists of magical correspondences that would fit into the general paradigm of the working itself, or the previously listed lore for what certain deities might like as offerings. There is also the opportunity to do meditative work on the various beings to think of ways that you might please the spirits who are the focus of the ritual. Though this would generally be classified as unverified personal gnosis, it may also fall under the “common sense” category, depending on what you come up with (healing herbs as an offering in a healing ritual, for example). In general, though, it’s best to match your key offerings either to the occasion or to the beings that are central to the ritual in a way that makes sense for the purpose of your ritual, and go from there.

12.    Discuss your understanding of Sacrifice, and its place in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

Sacrifice means “to do/make sacred” and is the process by which things are set apart for the spirits that we are making sacrifices to/for. I typically see this represented as Gebo/Gyfu – as the Havamal says, “a gift calls for a gift” – where we are entering into a relationship with these spirits that is categorized by gift-giving on both sides. We make sacrifices and offerings; they give us blessings in return. It is a relationship of reciprocity, though not in a “tit for tat” sort of way, but in the manner of a cultivated friendship. When you are close friends or family with someone, you don’t keep a tally of the things you do for each other, but you reciprocate good things with other good things, perhaps taking turns covering a dinner bill, or paying for a friend’s dinner so you can use their washing machine because yours is broken. It’s not a direct one for one relationship of equality, but a relationship where each gives according to their own measure. This relationship is central to ADF’s liturgy, and forms the backbone of our ritual structure. We create the sacred center, invite in the various spirits and powers, and then create a space for sacrifice, where we give of ourselves (whether physical items or gifts of time and energy (like dance, poetry or song)) and they, in return, offer blessings. These sacrifices should have meaning, either to us or to the spirits they are offered to, or both, though they may not come at great monetary cost (Newburg).

Sacrifice is also the act that creates the cosmos, as in the lore when “twin” is portioned out to create the world. The sacrifices we make in our rituals mirror this act of creation and help to reinforce the right order of the cosmos (Thomas). Each act of sacrifice is distributed among the cosmos, reinforcing and re-energizing it with order.

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9 – Describe the intention and function of the Three Kindreds invocations, and give a short description of each of the Kindreds. (minimum 100 words for each of the Three Kindreds)

The three kindreds invocations serve as ways to name and identify the kindreds by type, function, and role in the ritual and in the lives of the participants/the world. They primarily take the form of lists of attributes, titles, great works, or other specific identification markers (like names, realms of influence, type) as ways for us to remember them and for them to be identified and called specifically to our rituals. None of the Kindred are omniscient or omnipresent, or we would not need to invite them to our rituals specifically, nor ask them for specific blessings.

Ancestors: Often called the Mighty Ones or the Mighty Dead, these are the spirits of our past. They can be of several types: ancestors of blood – our direct progenitors and family members, ancestors of heart – those people who were not family but were close to us in life, ancestors of mind – people who taught and inspired us, and ancestors of spirit – people with whom we share a spiritual path, as well as the ancestors of the place in which we currently live or do ritual. We call upon all the different Ancestors in ritual (sometimes specifically, sometimes all together as one category) and ask their blessings and protection. The ancestors are typically beings who are concerned with the well-being of their descendants, and can be reliable allies in life (Corrigan “Worlds”). Offerings to them should be tailored to their specific likes in life (if they are being called by name) or, more often, general offerings of food and drink (to show that they are welcome at our table and to spiritually feed them from our own bounty). The Ancestors are invited to connect us to the past and to the ever present spirits of those who have gone before (Bonewits “Step”). They provide a link to all the previous priests and druids who have gone before, and ask their presence and blessing and guardianship over the ritual.

Nature Spirits: Often called the Noble Ones, these are the spirits of land and place that inhabit the middle realm with us (Corrigan “Worlds”). They can be of myriad types, from house spirits and land spirits to animals and plants, to elves and fae, depending on the ritual and the person(s) performing it (Bonewits “Step”). Sometimes mischievous, other times aloof, they do not depend on human interaction, but are instead honored as part of the world that we inhabit and call home. The non-animal Nature Spirits, in particular, have specific ways they like to be addressed and given offerings, and when those preferences are upheld, they are often friendly and helpful spirits to us. The Nature Spirits are invited to give us the comfort, knowledge, and blessings that we will need to accomplish our goals for the rest of the ceremony (Bonewits “Step”).

Deities: Often called the Shining Ones, First Children of the Mother, these are the beings most often honored as “spirits of the occasion” in ADF rituals (Corrigan “Worlds”). They are the gods and goddesses that we honor and worship, and from whom we expect the greatest blessings and protection. They are the great heroes of myth and legend, and we relate their stories as a way to honor and remember them. They are all separate (or mostly separate) and each has his or her own personality, likes and dislikes, and function within their respective pantheons. By these attributes, we relate to them and make offerings to them (Bonewits “Step”). The Dieties are invited to provide us with power and blessings, especially power and blessings particular to the rite to which they are invited (Bonewits “Step”). As well, they fulfill the goal of ritual that seeks to exalt the ritual attendees spiritually (Bonewits “Step” Corrigan “Intentions”).

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8.    Discuss the Outdwellers and their significance in ritual (or not, as the case may be). (minimum 100 words)

Outdwellers are representatives of the forces of chaos, and generally are seen as beings that would act contrary to the rite that is being performed (specifically to the order that ADF ritual seeks to create) (Newburg). While some view them as specifically malevolent or chaotic beings, others view them as simply “anyone we’re not actively making offerings to today” (Newburg). Some groups also include human feelings and impulses (like anger or jealousy) that would have a negative impact on the rite as part of the outdwellers (Newburg), though making offerings to those feelings seems odd to me. The outdwellers can be a significant (or not) portion of ADF worship depending on how they are viewed by any particular group that is performing the ritual. Some groups make offerings to the outdwellers directly, some groups make offerings to a protective god/ess or spirit to protect the sacred rite from the influence of the outdwellers, and some groups ignore them entirely, preferring not to name those forces and thus garner their attention. I usually do some of the first two – I make an offering to the outdwellers directly (usually beer or soda or cider), and then ask Thunor’s protection of my ritual space – which is something of a threat, considering how Thunor usually deals with things that disrupt the order of the universe.

Added 7/15: Our protogrove has chosen simply to ward our ritual space through an offering and song to Thunor, which is based on an Anglo Saxon hallowing charm, set to music. We tried several other methods of offerings, and nothing felt quite right, but we also didn’t feel right completely ignoring the idea of the outdwellers, and so we settled on using a guardian deity whose function is the protection of the middle world to specifically protect our ritual space. We make these offerings to Thunor both at the beginning of the ritual (asking for protection) and at the end (thanks for protection), as well as singing the charm and carrying fire around the space.

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7. Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)

Fire: The Fire forms one of the gates in ADF’s sacred center. It is the connection to the upperworlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Deities. It is the hearth fire and the essence of change, the spark that creates life (Paradox). Fire burns away impurities and makes things sacred. The sacred fire is the recipient of many of our offerings, which burn into smoke that feeds the deities in the nature of the Vedic sacrifices to and through Agni. Fire was highly important in Indo-European cultures, and many sacred fires are found in the mythology, from Agni (who is fire itself) to the Roman hearth fires and Vestal fires (Dangler).

Well: The Well forms one of the gates in ADF’s sacred center. It is the connection to the underworlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Ancestors, who go “below” and from whom we get wisdom and memory. It is also affiliated with chthonic deities and their underworld realms. Water from the well washes away impurities and makes things sacred. The well is represented in the mythology by the three wells that feed the World Tree Yggdrasil, from which Odin gains wisdom and the Norns get the mud that repairs the world tree’s roots. It is also similar to the watery otherworld that the Irish see as the home of the Ancestors. (Paradox)

Tree: The Tree holds fast the ways between the worlds. It stands at the center and connects all the worlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Nature Spirits, who live in and among its branches. The tree spans the worlds, from the watery depths of the well to the fiery heights of the sky. It is particularly well represented by Yggdrasil, the great World Tree, whose inhabitants include the dragon (Nidhogg), the squirrel (Ratatosk), the unnamed eagle, and the four stags (Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór) (Paradox). The Irish also have an ancient sacred tree, the Bile, found growing over a holy well or fort (MacCulloch).

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6. Discuss the ritual significance of Fire and Water in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The first instance of Fire and Water in ADF Ritual is typically the purification step, where we purify first with water (usually by sprinkling), and then with fire (in the form of incense) (Newburg). Where water washes and cleanses, incense purifies and fills us with sacred fire, and we are renewed by this step of the ritual and made ready to participate in the offerings that come afterward.

Fire and water are also the two most common representations of ADF’s Two Powers – the powers we draw upon for our magical workings and energetic currents (Newburg). The fire is the sky power, the power of the upperworld, of order and craft, and of the expression of will. The water is the underworld power, the power of chaos and potential. When these two powers meet, as they do in each participant in an ADF liturgy, they provide the magical current from which we have the power to do the work of making sacrifices and opening the gates. They also provide a grounding and centering aspect to ADF ritual, which  prepares the ritual participants for working together and mentally calms and prepares them for the energetic work that we do in each ritual (Bonewits “Step”, Newburg). These mirror nicely the two worlds that existed before the creation of the world in the Norse myths – the realm of ice (water) and the realm of fire, from which all things were made.

Fire is also the primary means of sacrifice to the upperworld, as it transforms our offerings into a form that the spirits can use. As well, at the end of each ritual, we imbibe the waters of life – waters which have been transformed by blessings (which often come from the otherworlds, and can be represented by fire) and which send us out into the world renewed and re-energized. By fire we give our offerings to the spirits, and by water they return blessings to us.

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5.    Discuss the Earth Mother and her significance in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The Earth Mother is probably the most obviously Neopagan part of the ADF liturgy, but She is an extremely significant part of Druidic culture and worship. While there are people who see Her as a thought-form, a goddess, an ecological organism, a local body of water, and an archetype (or some combination of the above) (Newburg), She typically takes the first and last offerings in ADF’s liturgy and is given the respect of the eternal All Mother from whom we all emerge and to whom we all return. This is not to say that there is no historical present for an Earth Mother figure (and, in fact, Tacitus calls Nerthus the Earth Mother to the Germans, and Gaia can serve in the role of Earth Mother to the Greeks), but that her role and primacy in ADF ritual is more reminiscent of modern than ancient worship. This element of our rituals helps ground the ecological and naturalistic currents in ADF’s population, and the presence of the Earth Mother places ADF squarely among the other Neopagan traditions with Earth/Environmentalism as the center of their worship, though ADF also worships more historically based god/esses (Newburg) and often participates in more historically flavored (if not actually derived) practices.

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4.    Discuss why ADF rituals need not have a defined outer boundary, or “circle” and the sacralization of space in ritual. (minimum 100 words)

By creating a sacred center, we eliminate the need to create an outer boundary. In fact, much like you can represent the three dimensions on a graph that extends to infinity, with one point in the center, the sacred center aligns the worlds and extends to cover them all. Instead of creating a boundary layer and separating the ritual from the world, which is, in a way, a rejection of the world as an appropriate place for magical workings, we work in the center that envelops the world and all the other worlds as well. Any place where the worlds meet – as they do at the sacred center – is already a sacred place, which we affirm as part of our rituals.

Also, ADF ritual is typically theurgist (per Issac Bonewits’ definition that theurgy is magic done for religious and/or psychotherapeutic purposes (Bonewits Neopagan 7)) and does not typically require raising energy that needs to be contained and then released in one great burst (which necessitates a containment device like a circle). This choice of a loose boundary (as opposed to a tight one, like a circle) is usually used since the energy raised in an ADF ritual doesn’t need to be contained to build up in one place before release (Bonewits Neopagan 26), and in fact would travel through the sacred center in waves with each sacrifice. This also eliminates the problem of energy dissipating before it arrives at its target in thaumaturgical (mundane) ADF rituals, since the energy travels directly through the sacred center in the ritual space to the sacred center at the target (Bonewits Neopagan 149). While this requires some coordination among the ritual participants, to ensure that the single burst of energy is raised and released at the same time, it avoids the problems often found with raising a “cone of power” within a circle.

As well, this openness to sacred space means that people can come and go easily from our rites, which is an important consideration with groups larger than 5-10, groups where families and children are present, or groups with people of differing bladder sizes (Bonewits “Step”).

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3. Describe the concepts of the Center and the Gates in ADF’s Standard Liturgical Outline. (minimum 300 words)

ADF’s ritual structure revolves around a recreated “sacred center” that exists at the center of all worlds (rather than between the worlds, or in a liminal space, as most neopagans do). This sacred center is the axis mundi – the axis about which all the worlds revolve, and through which we access the magical and energetic currents found in each of the worlds (the number of which usually depends on the hearth culture, but most often three or a multiple of three). The sacred centers that we use in ritual allow us an orientation in the world and a fixed point from which to observe and participate in the cosmos (Dangler). The axis mundi itself, the axis of the world, can only exist at the center of the universe and “all things extend about it”, it’s presence is not an ordering force, but a break that “allows the sacred to pour into and destroy the homogeneity of space” (Dangler). In this way the axis mundi is both a type of sacred center, and a type of gate through which we encounter the otherworlds.

This central axis is represented by the sacred fire, which transforms offerings so that they may be consumed in the upperworld, the sacred well, which transmits offerings so that they may be consumed in the underworld/lower world, and the sacred tree, which forms the pathway across all the worlds and holds the ways open. These three “hallows” are recreated in each ADF ritual as part of the ordering of the cosmos and creating the sacred center, transforming an ordinary fire, well and tree into their sacred counterparts. The fire, well, and tree together form the Center of All Worlds, the creation/recognition of which is recognized as a crucial part of ADF liturgy. (Paradox)

Once we have affirmed the Center, we then open the gates. The gates function as a way to “tune” the groupmind’s psychic powers to whatever “wavelength” the ancestors, spirits, and/or gods will be communicating on” (Bonewits “Step”). Depending on the ritual, there may be one gate (or portal), or three, or more. Some ADF rituals open one central gate in the center of the ritual space, while others call upon both the fire and the well to open as gates, with the tree holding them open as the axis between them or opening as a gate to the far reaches of the middle realm (or both). These gates are the portals to the otherworlds (however many of them you need) through which we make our offerings and from which we receive blessings. The gates can be considered plural insofar as they are triple (Fire, Well, and Tree) or singular insofar as they together open a single portal (Newburg). When we make offerings to the well or to the fire, their energy passes through those gates and is available to the Ancestors, Dieties, and Nature Spirits to consume as sacrifices. In return, They give of Their energy and nature to bless us in return (Newburg). This transaction happens through the open gate(s).

While the gate(s) aren’t strictly necessary – you can communicate with the otherworlds without them – they make that communication easier, much like phoning ahead before you go to visit friends and family makes it more likely that they will be home to receive you and will not be elsewhere or busy or sleeping. In ritual, when we want the specific attention of the powers and spirits of the otherworld, it makes good sense to open the gates and inform Them that we want Their presence and attention.

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A year ago I applied for and was accepted into the Initiate’s Program as my next step upon finishing the DP. I set out to do the IP work as a placeholder and a way to continue my studies and start to suss out whether I really did have a vocation to doing the Clergy Training Program. (I have questioned whether I have a vocation to clergy in every religion I’ve been part of, from mainstream Protestantism, to questioning if I would have a Catholic vocation, to seeking initiation in a Wiccan tradition.) I was solitary when I finished my DP, and initiation seemed the most logical step. To those ends, I completed (or partially completed) a portion of the study work in that time (Namely Divination I (posted here), Liturgy I (partially posted here) and Liturgy Practicum 1 (partially posted here)).

Over the last year, however, a lot has changed. I took up leadership of a study group, mentoring DP students and acting as a spiritual leader – writing rituals, providing divination and basic spiritual guidance, and acting as a guide and mentor. I also began participating with the local protogrove when I can (my job makes rituals on work nights nearly impossible in a city as large as Houston). They’ve been supportive of our study group, and it’s been an interesting experience to see how a more Neopagan protogrove operates (versus our more devotional polytheist leaning study group).

As well, I’ve struck up a friendship with Rev. William Ashton, who has been mentoring me in my steps toward leadership. This leadership, as well as the work with the local protogrove and my conversations with Rev. William, has dramatically reduced my fears over being a public pagan face in my area, and the spiritual leadership has done nothing but cement that I have a vocation to service on a clergy level.

In short, I am not sure the Initiate’s Path is where I need to be anymore – I think I need to be working towards becoming a part of ADF’s clergy.

As such, I have enrolled in the CTP-Preliminary coursework (6 courses, followed by an intention letter). I expect it will take me about 6 months to complete this work – or at least, that’s my goal. My Liturgy 1 work already counts toward the completion of CTP-Prelim, though it is being re-reviewed currently, since Clergy students have different expectations than Initiate students, and must be reviewed by a Clergy reviewer.

As such, I won’t be posting any more of my Liturgy 1 work until I have received word that it is up to snuff. My Divination I course will need to be re-reviewed as well, if I am accepted into the first circle of clergy training (henceforth CTP1). I was counseled to finish working on Liturgy Practicum 1 for now, simply so that it wasn’t a waste of 3 months of journaling, but to revisit the journal after I’ve finished the preliminary coursework for clergy training and decide (possibly with the help of my reviewer) if I need to re-do things.

Fortunately I do not have to abandon the Initiate’s Path – the courses that cross over will still cross over, and if I should seek initiation in the future, that path is still open to me.

I won’t lie and say that making this decision was easy. Well, that’s not exactly true – it was easy enough to sign up in the study program tracker, and easy enough to talk to the Preceptor about transferring my work over. But I’m more than a little intimidated by this step, both for the amount of work involved and the amount of scrutiny that I will be subjected to. Still, I’m fairly certain this is what I need to be doing, and the path I need to walk.

I’m going to leave this post tagged with both the Initiate’s Path and the Clergy Training Program. I’m leaving my coursework tagged on the page at the top of the site, and will be starting a second page for my CTP work. At this time I’ve completed Cosmology 1 as my next course to submit, and I’m working on IE Studies. (IE Myth is the course that intimidates me the most right now.)

I’ll continue to post my progress here though, as well as things I’m learning and struggling with. After all, journaling is a big part of this program, and while I can’t share everything publicly, I’ve come to appreciate comments and links that I get through this blog.

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