Posts Tagged ‘study program’

This course will prepare the student for part of the Initiatory Tests by informing how they perform ritual and why.


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As of this morning, I have officially completed ADF’s preliminary program that leads up to the First Circle of the Clergy Training Program. All of that coursework is now posted here (apologies for the post spam, but I figured the only way I’d get around to posting it was all at once).

My next step, once my coursework is reviewed and I am marked complete for CTP-Prelim, will be to submit my intention letter and to allow the Clergy Council 2+ weeks to review my work and determine my eligibility for the Clergy Training Program. I will post that letter here once it has been approved (I imagine there will be some discussion about it).

Huge thanks to all of you who have helped me out with this, and been patient while I took a year sabbatical from my own studies to start Nine Waves Protogrove. I wanted to finish this in six months, and – minus the year off to start a protogrove – it took about eight months of active work to complete the Prelim courses. While it’s not the way I imagined this going, I’m very happy with how things worked out.

The First Circle of ADF’s Clergy Training program contains eleven courses, one of which I have already completed (from when I was pursuing Initiation) – Divination I is already posted here. For the rest, I have:

  • Discipline 1
  • Liturgy Practicum 1: Domestic Cult Practice
  • Ethics 1
  • Crisis Response
  • Ritual Mechanics
  • Liturgical Writing 1
  • Indo-European Myth 2
  • Bardic Studies for Liturgists
  • Magic 1 for Priests
  • Trance 1

Trance 1 and the Liturgy Practicum course both require journaling, which I may post here just as an accountability for keeping my journaling practice regular. I actually already completed Liturgy Practicum, in 2014, but since I switched study programs, I never finished the course, so I will be re-doing it.

I’m really excited to have completed this step, and looking forward to moving on into the first circle of training.

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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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1.    Describe the purpose and function of ritual. (minimum 300 words)

Ritual can have many, many purposes and functions, depending on how widely you define ritual. Limiting it to sacred/religious ritual, the list is still pretty long – from 30 second morning devotionals said in the elevator on the way to the 9th floor to extended group magical workings and high day rites, there are as many different purposes as there are rituals, really. Each ritual will fill a function in the lives of the humans that perform it (otherwise, why perform the ritual?). That said, I think generally ritual serves as a place to connect – to connect humans to each other, and to connect humans to the sacred forces that inhabit this world (Corrigan “Intentions”).

If we look at ADF Core Order ritual, for a high day or other high occasion, we’re still primarily looking at those two purposes. The group mind and group energy serves to connect us to each other, to strengthen our friendships and bonds, and to be the backbone of our religious communities (Brooks, “Goals”). The offerings made and blessings received serve to connect us to the spirits around us, Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities, and to create a baseline relationship for us to use in those contexts (Brooks, “Goals”). When we stand at the sacred center, especially in a group with a united mind and purpose, we have the opportunity to fulfil both functions of ritual in a profound way.

Other rituals will fit into different places along those spectrums, where a solo ritual done to a Patron is almost entirely about connection to that one sacred spirit, but a community ritual to welcome a newborn (or other rite of passage) is almost entirely about connection as a group and community (Corrigan “Intentions”).

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention a third function of ADF Core Order ritual specifically, which is the recreation and restrengthening of order in the cosmos (Dangler). Our rituals mirror the creation and ordering of the cosmos, and in doing so serve as a way to strengthen that order. While there is a place for chaos in the cosmos as well (for order without chaos will die, just as chaos without order will never accomplish anything), our rituals are primarily orderly and serve to reinforce that order.


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This week was challenging. I did my morning practice every day, which went well. Also, as per “Murphy’s Law of Wells”, I now have a NEW well for my altar. This one is a sage green, blue, and brown glazed clay bowl, and it’s both pretty and won’t crack from having water in it all week. Which, yay, no more panicked mornings with water all over the place.

I’m finding, though, that daily practice has changed how I view ADF and my responsibilities to it. This week was also the week of the Solstice, which was the first ritual I’ve written for our Protogrove, and that was challenging as well. I didn’t get a lot of direction on what kind of rituals they usually do, but then when I sent the ritual around, they had a good bit of input on what traditions they typically did. Fortunately the ritual itself went very well. The Study Group ritual went brilliantly as well, and was perhaps our best ritual to date. The omens were appropriately fantastic at both rituals too, which was nice.

For my own practice, I made cornbread and left some out as an offering on the Solstice, but with two group rituals to run in two days (the 20th and 21st) one of which I drove almost 2 hours for (the PG ritual was on a beach some distance from here), I didn’t do much in the way of a home practice for the actual day of. I see the sunrise every day right now, which is nice, but it didn’t make the actual solstice feel very different than any other morning.

I talked to my husband about seeing if he wanted to do any of these practices with me, and he said no. He is still marginally Christian (though he has no interest in going to church), but he’s supportive of my work with ADF. He does get frustrated on these busy weeks though, when I spend more time on ADF stuff (ritual rehearsals, study group, gone all day on the Solstice for ritual) than I do on spending time with him.

Overall I’m finding that this week felt like there was “too much” ADF going on – between daily practices, working on meal blessings (more on that in another entry), working on my prairie godmothers practice, ritual practices, study group ritual, and protogrove ritual, ADF consumed my entire week. I think in the future I’ll need to give myself more space on weeks where there are lots of ADF responsibilities.

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Dickins, Bruce. Runic and Heroic Poems. London: Cambridge University Press, 1915. Print.

Ellis, Peter Berresford. The Druids. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1996. Print.

Paxson, Diana L. Taking up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2005. Print.

The Poetic Edda. Trans. Carolyne Larrington. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

The Poetic Edda. Trans. Lee M Hollander. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1990. Print.

The Sagas of the Icelanders. Ed. Ornolfur Thorsson. New York: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing Ltd., 1997. Print.

Serith, Ceisiwr. Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Ancient Europeans. Tuscon, AZ: ADF Publishing, 2007. Print.

Tacitus. The Agricola and the Germania. Trans. H. Mattingly. New York: Penguin Books, 1970. Print.

Thorsson, Edred. Futhark, a Handbook of Rune Magic. York Beach, Me.: S. Weiser, 1984. Print.

Upanisads. Trans. Patrick Olivelle. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

Virgil. Aeneid. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

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8.    Discuss the relative importance and effect of divination within your personal spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)

In my personal spiritual practice I use divination on a fairly regular basis. I try to do weekly readings when I make offerings, out of a desire to see what elements of my life or work I should be focused on (or perhaps warned about). I also do divination for my study group when we do rituals, to determine the blessings we receive in return for our offerings. As well, I do divination before I attempt any magical working, to determine the probable outcome. While it was not a runic divination, I have called off magical workings in the past if a tarot reading was decidedly unfavorable to the work I was intending to do. For me, divination is a way to check in with my gods and spirits to see what they think is important for me to pay attention to, so I try to do it whenever I am doing anything of religious significance.

9.    Discuss your view and understanding of the function of the Seer. (minimum 100 words)

The function of a seer is to take omens and – most crucially – to interpret them, using a combination of knowledge, experience, and intuition. Divination rarely gives a clear-cut answer (unless you’re flipping coins for a yes/no question), and it is the function of the seer to take the symbols as drawn and turn them from esoteric symbols into something of meaning for the audience of the divination, whether that’s in a private consultation or a public ritual. A seer can be called upon whenever a querent has a difficult question on which they would like the spirits and Kindreds to weigh in, and as such they take on a consultory role within the community.

10.    Discuss the importance and value of divination as it relates to ADF. (minimum 100 words)

Divination within ADF is critical to the practice of our basic order of ritual, as it provides a method by which the Kindreds can express their pleasure (or displeasure) with our offerings. It lets us know whether we have done right by the spirits we set out to make offerings to, and it gives us feedback in the form of the omen to know what the spirits will offer us in return. Within a ritual, the seer’s job is extremely valuable, as their knowledge, experience, and intuition determine whether a ritual has been done properly or not (which may include signs or symbols other than just the omens that are drawn) and whether additional offerings need to be made or the ritual format changed before the next ritual takes place. Divination gives us the response we need from our Kindreds to know the specifics of the exchange of gifts that we are partaking in. A skilled seer takes an invaluable place in the ADF community as it is their job to interpret the omens given by the Kindreds in ritual, to determine if offerings have been accepted and what blessings have been given in return – and not just what the blessings are, but if any actions need to be taken as a result of those blessings.

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I fleshed out my morning devotional this week to be something like a miniature core order. I have used a prayer that Rev. Mike Dangler shared on Facebook (it’s actually a song, but I am using it without music for now), as well as some of the bits from Ceisiwr Serith’s A Simplified Version of ADF Ritual. This ritual is clearly designed to be done at my home altar, but I have a copy of it saved on my phone for use at work. I am working on getting a tiny hallows (mint-tin altar setup) that I can use for these situations. I am not sure how I’d do the offerings when I’m not at my altar, but ideally I’ll be dragging my butt out of bed 5 minutes earlier in order to do this ritual before I leave the house. That happened most mornings this week.

It only takes about 3 minutes, which is perfect for me for a morning ritual.

Here is the current format:

(Three breaths to center self)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The flame lights the way! (Light candle)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The well flows within! (Fill/touch well)

The earth is below me, the heavens above me,
The tree spans the world! (Bless tree)

Let us pray with a good fire! (Light incense)

I make offering to the gods.
May their power be with me this day. (Make offering)

I make offering to the ancestors.
May their wisdom be with me this day. (Make offering)

I make offering to the nature spirits.
May their blessing be with me this day. (Make offering)

The waters support and surround us
The land extends about us
The sky stretches out above us
At the center burns a living flame
May all the kindreds bless us.
May our worship be true
May our actions be just
May our love be pure
Blessings and honor and worship to the holy ones.

(Three breaths to center self)
(Extinguish candle)

I feel like it’s still unfinished at this point in time. I’m not sure what I need to add, but it feels like there needs to be one more closing statement, perhaps something to mirror the Fire/Well/Tree imagery from the opening. It certainly works as a mini-ritual though, and I like all the various parts.

I need to be careful and remember that this practice has to be built over time. I can easily see myself letting this morning ritual get longer and longer, until it’s no longer really something I can fit into my weekday mornings. Which defeats the purpose of having a regular devotional practice. It has to be doable/attainable to become habit. It’s really easy for me to throw myself into 40 new practices all at once, and then burn out and stop doing all of them. I’m trying with this to start slowly, with just a morning devotional/ritual, and we’ll see where I feel like I can add other bits of ritual practice into my day/week.

I should also mention that I do a regular devotional practice to my female ancestors, particularly when I clean the kitchen (which happens every few days). It feels right to honor them then, at my “hearth” (stove), so I light a candle or some incense and say a small impromptu prayer. Perhaps eventually I’ll write up a set prayer for this specific practice.

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7.    Discuss your view of the purpose of divination. (minimum 100 words)

Divination serves two interconnected purposes – to divine the will of the Kindreds, and to divine greater guidance about mundane situations. In the first instance, it is used to determine if offerings have been accepted, if gifts need to be given, and if a situation is seen as favorable or unfavorable. In the second, divination gives a human seer the ability to look beyond the obvious elements of a situation, to “see beneath the surface” and bring forth greater insights into how to act or respond to a situation. Obviously the second method, while not directly asking the will of the gods, can involve the intercession of one or more of the Kindreds, especially the ancestors. Both methods can be used in a religious sense, though I do not think divination is, itself, inherently religious. Religions whose practice involves direct communication with gods will be greatly enhanced by a divinatory practice of some form.

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6. Describe the results of three divinations performed by you. These divinations may be text assisted. (minimum 100 words each)

5/5/2014, 7pm – Question from a friend

“My 90 days at Job2 is going to be up soon, and I’ll have health insurance. Should I turn in my 2 weeks today at Job1, or work both jobs for an extra 2 weeks and save up some extra money?”

  • Peorth – an unpredictable outcome, a gamble
  • Gyfu – a gift, reciprocity
  • Eoh – yew tree, reliability, overlooked resources
  • Rad – the journey

I’d say for sure you are supposed to stick it out at Job1 for another two weeks. There’s some risk to doing so, probably to your health (nobody likes working 2 jobs), but you’re doing your due diligence there and proving to be a reliable asset. And you shouldn’t overlook the resources that are an extra two week’s pay! You’re still on the journey to your new home with Job2, but you haven’t arrived yet.

5/2/2014, 8pm – Beltane Ritual, Live Oaks Study Group (not text assisted)

What blessings do the Ancestors offer us? Daeg – The Day, blessings that shine upon the poor and the wealthy alike. We are favored by the ancestors at this time, though it may not be for anything special that we are doing.

What blessings do the Nature Spirits offer us? Ear – The grave, finality, endings, sadness. This is a challenging blessing, but I see it representing the end of our study group as a separate entity. We will have growing pains as we integrate with the protogrove, and that may not be trivial, and will come with some amount of sadness.

What blessings do the Deities offer us? Rad – The journey. Even though there may be some challenges in front of us, the eventual outcome is that we’ll be where we’re needed most. And that place will become a home for us.

Note: After discussing the Omen, we decided to make additional offerings, as Ear seemed ill suited as a blessing. We drew an additional rune afterward, to see if those offerings were enough, and drew Is – things are not as nice as they seem, take careful action, go no further. We determined that this was a “tentatively yes, but get your stuff better organized next time” answer. (The ritual’s offerings were not well put together, and several had been left off of the organization list, and got skipped during the ritual.)

5/9/14, 6pm – Reading for a friend

Can you give me some insight into how to build my relationship with the kindreds?

  • Cen (face down) – Torch – light, fire, creation, if uncontrolled – destruction
  • Eoh (face down) – Yew – reliability, something overlooked, “all that is gold does not glitter”
  • Gear (face down) – Year – fulfillment, reward for hard work, plenty, right order
  • Eolh (face down) – Elk Sedge – protection, danger, careful action, warning
  • Ior – Beaver/Eel – Adaptability, Flexibility

Fire in the head, reliable offerings, reward for hard work, protection/careful action, adaptability.

BE FLEXIBLE. The only rune face up in this reading suggests that this is the biggest sticking point, though I think the others are important as well. Make offerings, be reliable, don’t rush the outcome, be careful not to rush in, and everything will work out in the end.

Altogether, these runes made a reverse Nyd rune based on their position when I threw them on the table – Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

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