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Posts Tagged ‘Druidry’

Just a brief post to check in. Some major new developments have happened in the last two weeks (alongside the entire world going to hell in a handbasket), and I think you’ll start to see more and different flavor of posts here as I get going.

First – I got laid off last week. There’s a possibility that I’ll get rehired in August, but I’m proceeding as though that won’t happen. I’ve got my resume up and running, and I’m pretty happy with it, but obviously the job market is… not great right now.

As a result, I’m moving immediately, as soon as I can get packed and get up to North Texas, instead of waiting until my lease expires in mid-May. Not having a job, I’ve got plenty of time to pack, but even that has left me with more loose time than I’d like.

I’ve gotten in contact with Blackland Prairie Grove – the ADF grove that meets in Arlington. They’ll be about a 60-75 minute drive from where I’ll be living, unfortunately, but I’ll hopefully get to see them on occasion. Obviously, my job when I meet them is to learn the way they do things, but I’ve offered the use of some of my live-meet technology expertise as they start planning a Beltane ritual.

That’s all mostly mechanical though – on a spiritual front, I’ve been called to do deeper work, and that deeper work needs to be something structured. As such, I’ve spoken with the ADF Initiate’s Preceptor, Rev. Jan Avende (who some of you will know is also the priest who ordained me), and re-upped my study program membership with ADF’s Initiates Program.

A lot of the coursework is duplicated with my clergy training work, but all of the Initiate coursework has practicum elements that I’ll be doing. I’ll be starting ASAP with Initiate Liturgy 1, which my longtime readers will know harkens back to Liturgy 1 that I fulfilled for the Clergy Prelim program in 2014.

I’m intentionally going into these with fresh eyes though – with the focus on becoming an initiate – a spirit worker, a resource, a magical practitioner. I’ve done the work with the focus on being a clergy person, and I think I’ve proven in the last few years that I’m capable of that. So even though there’s a good bit of overlap, I’ll definitely be refreshing all the work, and you’ll start seeing study program courses posted here as I pass them.

I’m really excited about this. I like achieving things – I especially like working on my spiritual pursuits. I like digging my claws into the nuts and bolts of what makes magic and trance work, and this kind of work will absolutely enhance the work I do in ADF, in the wider pagan community, and as a Senior Initiate in the Henge of the Cobbled Path.

So wish me luck! There’s lots of good that could come out of this, so let’s hope it ends with less heartache than it is beginning with.

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Every year, ADF priests and others get together to celebrate the month of November by writing a prayer a day. Started by Rev. Jan Avende, this year marks the third year of this prayer-writing festival, and is something I look forward to doing each year.

Things are a little tough for me right now, so I expect a lot of my prayers will reflect that, and also this year I was out of town from Nov 1- Nov 4, so I’m one prayer behind still (today’s the 8th and I’ve published 7 prayers).

But here are the first week of prayer images for this year’s Prayer A Day. I hope you enjoy them. Feel free to share, but please leave the attributions on the images, or attribute the written text to Rev. Lauren Mart, ADF.

Enjoy!

*****

An Airport Prayer –

Liminal spirits of the airport, hear this prayer of mine. I make you this offering that my flight may be on time, my seatmates pleasant, and my phone battery not run out. And should I be delayed, I pray for patience and calm, that I may make it home today.

11-04 Airport Prayer

A Daylight Saving Time Prayer

I say this prayer to ease the transition from one time to the next. The clocks have fallen back and the streetlights come on early. May we all ease into this time of transition and find respite in the ever shortening days.

11-04 Daylight Saving

A Day of Rest Prayer

For the beauty of a day of rest, away from the chaos and noise of the wider world, I thank you today, oh spirits. May I care for myself today, that in the coming days I may rejoin the world with a fighting spirit and a hunger for what is just and true and right.

11-05 Self Care

A Prayer for Election Day

To the three sisters whose spirits guide our country, today we pray. Hail Liberty; Hail Columbia; Hail Justice. May we each make our voices heard. May our votes ring out like the sound of many beating wings; the sound of freedom, lifting us to fulfill the dreams we have for our country and our fellow citizens. May we, today, speak truth to power – truth that does not need to yell for it to resound through the halls of government like the strike of a bell. May we always seek to lift up what is true. what is just, what is right, and what is honorable. To you we pray, Liberty, Columbia, Justice, for the future of our nation and all nations.

11-06 Election

A Prayer for Election Night

Tonight, as the world rages around us, spun up into a froth about so many (important) things, let me remember to breathe. Let me make tea and drink it, allowing only space for myself and the tea, that I may find my center. And then tomorrow, let me go back to work, no matter the outcome of tonight. Let there be stillness. Let there be peace. And then, from the stillness, let us move in the direction of justice.

11-06 Make Tea

A Cold Front Prayer

Oh Winter Winds, whose arrival is heralded this day by the sounds of far away thunder, come to visit my city. Bring your chill that we may know the blessings of warmth, bring your rain that we may be renewed, bring your darkness that we may appreciate the light. As you blow cold through my city, turning leaves to amber and gold, I welcome you, first winds of winter. May you renew us over these next months, that we may appreciate the spring.

11-07 Cold Front

A Prayer for Loneliness

May my loneliness be transformed to solitude
May my suffering be transformed to compassion
May the experiences which have changed me help me to become whole
May I know peace, and wisdom, and clarity of mind
Oh spirits, I place all these things as offerings

11-08 Loneliness

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I’ve long thought about writing up the holidays that I celebrate, as an Anglo-Saxon pagan druid with a strong English folk bent. So here you go – the wheel of the year, with the names I call each holiday and what I do primarily to celebrate each one.

  • Yule – greenery, lights, candles, and 12 days of preparation to begin the new year
  • Candlemas – the celebration of the returning light. Buying and preparing candles, cleaning oil lamps, blessing the home with light.
  • Eostara – the celebration of the dawn, the radiant dawn maiden Eostre, and the balancing towards the growing light of the year. Sometimes just “Spring Equinox”
  • May Day – For summer is a comin’ in and winter’s gone away-oh. Celebration of summer, and also of the first harvests of vegetables in Texas, planted back in February.
  • Midsummer – bonfires, grilling, burned herbs for protection, and protection against hurricanes and tropical storms. Purification by fire, dawn and sunset rituals.
  • Lammas – John Barleycorn, the sacrifice of Ing, the first grain harvest. Loaves baked and sacrificed for the blessings of the harvest for the whole season. Sacrifice – personal and as a group – made to ensure the prosperity of the group.
  • Harvest Home – very much a mini-Thanksgiving, this is the height of the harvest, and the middle of the second growing season in Texas. Naming a harvest queen, drawing her around in a wagon to bless the town. The “holy month” of the harvest.
  • Hallows – Ancestor’s night, the welcoming in of winter, the blood harvest and final sacrifice. Celebration of prosperity (hopefully) and of a year well spent. Entering into a liminal time between Hallows and Yule in preparation for beginning the cycle again.

I should note that a lot of this calendar is UPG and modern Neopaganism derived, just with an English-folk flavor to it. It works for me, and makes me feel connected to the ancestors of spirit from whom I draw my practice.

I also observe the Anglo-Saxon Lunar Months, which begin on the new moon – the true new moon, not the dark moon (so 2-3 days after the actual “dark moon”, when the first crescent is visible in the sky). You can find out when those dates are here.

This lunar calendar is given to us by Bede, so your mileage may vary as to how accurate it is, but I find it meshes well with the 8 holidays I celebrate above:

January, Bede explained, corresponds to an Anglo-Saxon month known as Æftera Geola, or “After Yule”—the month, quite literally, after Christmas.

February was Sōlmōnath, a name that apparently derived from an Old English word for wet sand or mud, sōl; according to Bede, it meant “the month of cakes,” when ritual offerings of savory cakes and loaves of bread would be made to ensure a good year’s harvest. The connection between Old English mud and Bede’s “month of cakes” has long confused scholars of Old English, with some claiming that Bede could even have gotten the name wrong—but it’s plausible that the name Sōlmōnath might have referred to the cakes’ sandy, gritty texture.

March was Hrēðmonath to the ancient Anglo-Saxons, and was named in honor of a little-known pagan fertility goddess named Hreða, or Rheda. Her name eventually became Lide in some southern dialects of English, and the name Lide or Lide-month was still being used locally in parts of southwest England until as recently as the 19th century.

April corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon Eostremonath, which took its name from another mysterious pagan deity named Eostre. She is thought to have been a goddess of the dawn who was honored with a festival around the time of the spring equinox, which, according to some accounts, eventually morphed into our festival of Easter. Oddly, no account of Eostre is recorded anywhere else outside of Bede’s writings, casting some doubt on the reliability of his account—but as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, “it seems unlikely that Bede would have invented a fictitious pagan festival in order to account for a Christian one.”

May was Thrimilce, or “the month of three milkings,” when livestock were often so well fed on fresh spring grass that they could be milked three times a day.

June and July were together known as Liða, an Old English word meaning “mild” or “gentle,” which referred to the period of warm, seasonable weather either side of Midsummer. To differentiate between the two, June was sometimes known as Ærraliða, or “before-mild,” and July was Æfteraliða, or “after-mild;” in some years a “leap month” was added to the calendar at the height of the summer, which was Thriliða, or the “third-mild.”

August was Weodmonath or the “plant month.”

After that came September, or Hāligmonath, meaning “holy month,” when celebrations and religious festivals would be held to celebrate a successful summer’s crop.
October was Winterfylleth, or the “winter full moon,” because, as Bede explained, winter was said to begin on the first full moon in October.

November was Blōtmonath, or “the month of blood sacrifices.” No one is quite sure what the purpose of this late autumnal sacrifice would have been, but it’s likely that any older or infirm livestock that seemed unlikely to see out bad weather ahead would be killed both as a stockpile of food, and as an offering for a safe and mild winter.

And December, finally, was Ærra Geola or the month “before Yule,” after which Æftera Geola would come round again.

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When did you hear the call to the path of ADF priesthood? What did it sound like?

If I may offer an answer that is slightly tongue in cheek, it sounded like a phone call to Rev. William Ashton where he asked me why the h*ll I wasn’t doing the CTP. (It was not a subtle call, that one.)

To more seriously answer the question, I need to go back to days long before my even knowing that paganism existed, to the time as a child when I first considered a calling to ministry. My paternal grandfather is a minister, and he is a wonderful example of the beauty and sacrifice that such a vocation can take. When he retired, I spoke at the party – I was eight – and read a poem about being shown the way to do things, instead of being told. I think back on that now and all the things that he showed me how to do that I am now doing in my grove, and I am thankful for him.

I think back on considering Methodist seminary, on considering whether I had a Catholic vocation to holy orders, on my days with a Trad Wicca outer court, and it is very clear to me that I’ve always been intended to be a priest, have always been called to ministry. I just had to find the right religion first.

When I began to study with ADF, it was entirely as a solitary. It wasn’t until I began working with a group – flexing my muscles as a leader – that I started to consider ADF’s priesthood. Over time, as my study group grew, as I was encouraged by other priests who provided shining examples of servant leadership, as my own spirituality grew and changed, I realized that while the path of the Initiate will one day be one that I walk (and probably soon), my little community here needed a priest, and I was willing to step up to fill that need.

ADF is my spiritual home. I’ve studied a lot of theology, and tried on a lot of religious hats, but until I found ADF – and specifically a devotional polytheist current within ADF – I never truly felt like I’d found the tradition I was supposed to plant my roots in. In ADF I’ve found a tradition that values both study and piety, ritual and action, history and inspiration. Reimagining the Indo-European religious practices has given me a depth and breadth of spiritual practice unlike anything I’ve known before – and unlike my days studying Christian theology, the more I study, the more sure I am that I’m in the right place, and that I’ve found the place where my vocation is meant to be nurtured, cultivated, and grown into a full-blown ministry.

The call itself wasn’t something that began or ended at any one time, but rather something that grew and was nurtured in me by my practice and study, by other priests, by my community, and by the Kindreds, until it was something I could no longer ignore. In August of 2014, I officially set foot on the path to become ADF clergy.

What form do you expect your vocation to take?

I expect my vocation to take a few different forms, based on my work so far in the clergy training program. My oath will be to serve the gods, the folk, and the land, and I see my vocation as falling into those categories as well.

I know that my devotional relationships with my deities will remain the central focus of my private practice. I have taken oaths to that service, and though I fully expect to “Serve the Gods” in many and different ways, I will likely always remain both a public servant priest and a devotional priest. I look forward to my vocation encompassing multiple spirits and to my service in the community continuing to be one where I am known as a polytheist priest – someone who will make offerings on behalf of the folk, and who will help people listen to the gods and spirits that are important to them, even if they are largely unknown to me.

I also expect that my vocation will continue to grow one on one, with the people to whom I act as a mentor. I have a strong history of helping people who feel “lost” find their footing again, getting them restarted in a devotional practice and helping them find a new home in paganism. That home may or may not be with ADF, but usually within a few months of working with someone they feel more confident and empowered to step out on their own and be the type of pagan they are called to be. Since I seem to attract these types of people both in-person and online, I will continue to make myself available for both in-person and virtual mentoring, and I look forward to seeing many more folks find their way.

My vocation in my community will, I hope, continue to express itself through the growth and development of Nine Waves Grove. I have tried since my first study group meetings in 2013 to empower the people in my group to lead, to study, to teach, and to perform rituals in such a way that my grove has never become “the Lauren show” – and I fully expect that to continue. With a slowly, but consistently, growing membership, I serve there as a coordinator, as a liturgist, as a spiritual counselor, and as a mentor, and I hope that my vocation to leadership in this group continues to grow along with it.

Serving the land is probably the place where my vocation feels the weakest, at least in the sense of things that are demonstrable outside of my own small spaces. I expect that I will continue to serve my local landbase, to clean roadsides and waterways, support legislation in Houston that preserves our wild spaces, and to grow what things I can in the little bits of earth I have access to. I have always sought to be the “Druid of this Place”, and I want to continue to be that druid.

Do you feel prepared to become an ADF priest now? Do you see further work that you will need to do to prepare yourself for the work ahead?

I don’t feel like the work I will need to do to be the best priest I can be will ever be done, but I do think that right now I have done the work that it takes to be a first-circle priest. In many ways, the work that I do for my gods and my grove already is the work of priesthood, and it is now up to me to “formalize” that relationship through ADF and ordination. I knew what priesthood often looked like when I started, having grown up in a family with a minister, and I knew what I needed to do to prepare for that and practice that, even though much of it has been external to the clergy training program courses themselves. ADF’s study programs have given me the academic foundation for my priesthood, but I expect to be challenged and continue to grow in study even as I mark this one moment of completion in my journey.

But the work of being a better priest is ongoing, and I am fully prepared to continue to study, both within ADF and with other groups, in my goal of serving the gods, the folk, and the land. I hope never to feel stagnant, never to feel like I’ve “learned it all”, because this journey is one that will change and grow as the responsibilities I have change and grow. May I never become complacent, and may I always strive for growth and the betterment of my ministry and service.

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I’ve been reading Kathleen Norris’ (wonderful) book The Cloister Walk, about monastic spirituality, as a sort of side piece to all of the work I’ve been doing and to kind of keep me sane as I prepare for ordination and all the rest of the hoopla that is my religious life right now. And one of the things she talks about is the idea that, at least for Benedictine spirituality, formation is endless – the conversion of the self is a process that takes a lifetime.

So I sat down and looked at a typical formation process for someone in the Catholic faith vs what I’ve done, and realized there are some similarities. With apologies for generalizing, as each community really does have its own rules, and because what I’ve done is nowhere NEAR as dedicated as true monastic life, it still struck me that there were things that I could relate to.

My dedicant year was the equivalent of basic religious education – it gave me the tools to get started on the path, and set me up with a spirituality that I could practice satisfactorily for the rest of my life. This only took me a year, but for others it is the work of a lifetime, and that’s more than okay.

The 2 years I spent working CTP-Prelim were my postulancy – where I figured out whether this whole priesting thing was really going to be for me. It was a longer process, but like all processes – like all formation – it takes however long it takes. I did a lot of work, internally and externally, between August 2014 and August 2016, and I don’t want to shy away from that. It involved a lot of confirmation that what I was doing was really the right thing, and set me up with a lot of the spirit relationships that have continued to nourish me through to today.

From August 2016 to March 2018, I was a novice – not yet having taken any formal vows, but having applied and been accepted to my community of faith and living as best I could the life and spirituality of a priest in my community. I did the clergy student discipline, I spoke with mentors who assisted with my formation and my growth. I studied hard, got handed a few massive life-lessons in the process. I served my community in such a way that they could see my building ministry and vocation, and they allowed me to learn and grow.

And now I sit in the liminal space before taking my oaths as a priest – before being vested with the stola of a priest (which is given to me by the folk). I will step into the role of a junior professed, whose path is renewed every year through continuing education. I wonder what this life will look like in a year, or two, or five. Or twenty. I’ve been “in formation” since 2012. In five-odd years, I’ve come an awful long way, but yet there’s still so much that I don’t know. I’m still so new at this.

What will my life-long formation as a polytheist priest look like?

Because I am not done. If anything, the wheels of change in my life are spinning at a rate that is almost dizzying. New doors are opening up for me, with new opportunities to study and practice my spirituality. This is a watershed moment that I am preparing for, yes, but it is only the beginning.

To coin a phrase, this isn’t even my final form.

I wonder what that will look like.

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Part of ADF’s core order of ritual is a moment we call Creating the Group Mind, which involves grounding and centering. Most groves work with what we call the Two Powers – fire and water – that represent the primal forces of creation. Water is down, dark, chaos, potential, swirling, magnetic. Fire is up, light, cosmos, order, creation, burning, electric. As they combine, we find the energy we use to do magic. Below is a quick and dirty two powers meditation that you’re free to use – it works well with both large groups and as a solitary practice. Enjoy!

Children of Earth, breathe deep and close your eyes. As we stand here, preparing to work the magic that is found in our ritual, let us pause and release all the tension we may be carrying. Relax your arms and shoulders, ease your jaw and your forehead, and breathe deep into your belly. Now, let us take nine breaths together, to find our center and order ourselves in this great work.

For the first breath, our roots reach deep into the earth.
For the second breath, we draw up the swirling, chaotic waters.
For the third breath, we are filled with the cool waters.

For the fourth breath, our branches reach high to the heavens.
For the fifth breath, we draw down the ordering, creative fires.
For the sixth breath, we are filled with the burning fires.

For the seventh breath, the waters and fires alight, turning into the druid’s mist.
For the eighth breath, they expand and pour fourth, filling our grove.
For the ninth breath, we open our eyes, one grove, to work our magic together.

(2018, Lauren Mart)

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