Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Ministry

Ministry is defined as “Work or vocation of a minister of religion”.  As I am coming toward the completion of my first circle clergy training with ADF I am beginning to envision what my work, my ministry, will look like.  Some of it is forming organically as needs of the grove become evident, such as the need to teach a class on the dedicant's path. I see my ministry with two main streams; the stream of public ritual and the stream of private practice. 
                My ministry in public ritual is to write and lead public rites for each of the eight highdays.  It is also to do other types of rituals as well such as hand-fastings, funerary rites, coming of age and transitional ceremonies, as well as personal rites of purification and blessing. When called upon I will lend my skill as a sorcerer.  This stream is perhaps the most obvious parts of my ministry. 
                The other stream of my ministry is going to be about helping people with their personal practice.  In this I see myself as a coach.  I will teach techniques, such as meditation, prayers, and rituals for personal use.  I will also encourage people to do the work of Druidry, just as a coach encourages his players to practice and train.  As part of this I also see myself performing pastoral counseling.  In this counseling I will make use of the philosophies, stories, and skills of Druidry to help people navigate the issues and crisis of their lives. 

                What you won’t see in my ministry is me telling you how to believe.  You won’t see me telling you are wrong for feeling a certain way.  I won’t make you feel small, ashamed, or try to enslave you.  My ministry is empowerment and giving a person the tools they need to feel spiritually fulfilled. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How Druidry has helped me in my own healing process

A reader of this blog asked me recently on an old post how has this spiritual path helped me to heal, and do I have suggestions.  Here is my answer. 
                First Druidry got me back in-touch with myself and got me to see who I was, who I am, and who I want to be.  It also, and this is a big one, got me back in touch with feeling at one with nature.  This was very much a balm to my tortured soul and ego.  I did this by spending time quietly in nature.  Hours of hiking some place quiet and just sitting, stilling the thoughts and emotions, just listening to the nothing and everything that is nature.  The two powers exercise got me in touch with the energies of nature and of magick. 
                Shamanic work has been and still is a key component to my healing process.  Through Shamanic techniques I have come to the realization that I was just running through the forest shooting everything I came across with arrows.  Years later I was able to face my shadow self for the first time, and then again not so long ago.  Shamanic journeys taught me that at the heart of the greatest evil could be found good intent. This was a seed to forgiving my ex. 
                Druidry has given me a system for doing daily work with the holy kindred made up of the gods, land spirits and the ancestors.  All of these beings have spoken to me at different times guiding me to be a better person.  All have brought blessings and challenges my way. 
                Paganism and Druidry have brought the most amazing friendships my way that I have ever had.  Friendships that have let me tell and retell the pain and suffering that I needed to get out.  Friendships that have loved me when I couldn’t love myself. 
                How do I know I have healed?  I know because the buttons the ex use to push so easily no longer work.  Nor do I anger as easily as I once did.  I find my days filled with joy and laughter. I wake up in the mornings excited for the day and looking forward to what may come.  Recently I have found myself growing ever more compassionate.  When I hear things that would have in the past made me feel angry and or indignant about something someone did, I now only feel empathy toward them and wonder what pain they must be in to behave such. 
                One thing is that is key, absolutely essential, and this applies to any spiritual practice that is going to bring about healing is that you have to DO IT!  I mean really do it and do it every day.  You have to live it, eat it, breathe it, sleep with it.  It has to become a part of what you do every day, of who you are. Do it when you’re board with it. Do it when it’s raining, hot, cold, stinky.  I don’t care if it’s raining bombs out…do it.  I do it when I am sick, when I am stressed, when I am mad, when I happy, when I am tired. When I am busy, I just get out of bed earlier.  It’s not enough to read a book, or watch a youtube video, or just think about doing it.  You have to actually DO THE WORK.  Any spiritual system in the world can lead one to healing, but even the most powerful one won’t do anything if you don’t DO THE WORK.  Most days I enjoy it, but some days I understand why it’s called “work”.  There are so many things out there that will try to distract you.  Kids are a huge one, work, significant others, pets, chores, TV shows.  All of these things are only distractions and obstacles if you allow them to be.  They all have solutions.  They are all just excuses why you didn’t/don’t do the work. 

Someone once emailed me and asked me, “in your words, what does it mean to be a druid?”  My response was simply this; To be a druid you must have the heart of a poet, the will of a warrior, and the mind of a scholar.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter Solstice Update

My how the Protogrove has grown in the last year!  I re-read what I wrote about last year’s Winter Solstice rite.  At that time the Protogrove was made up of three members.  Since then we have gained some and lost some.  We are now up to eight active members besides myself.  We now have bylaws in place, and will soon be applying for Grove status with ADF.  We also now have weekly Dedicant’s path meetings, as well as once a month business and planning meetings.  Having more members has been a blessing for sure, but it also makes things more complicated in ways as well.  There are more personalities to deal with for one.  Not that this is a difficult thing per say, but it can complicate issues at times.  When planning for high day rites and festivals, there are more people to help, but also more people for me to constantly check in with to make sure things are getting done, and at the same time finding the balance so that one is not micro-managing.  I am also learning to trust others to get things done.  The last few years I have had to rely mostly on just me to make sure things get done.  Now I am having to rely on others and I am finding that at times it’s difficult.  I have had just so many experiences in my life when relying on others was a mistake.  So far however the group is going strong and all is rolling along nicely. 
                This year we are doing our winter solstice ritual in combination with KCPC the local eclectic pagan meetup.  We will be doing the ritual in ADF’s Core Order of Ritual.  As part of that however we will be doing the Oak king/Holly King battle, as well as our candle lighting ceremony which is becoming a Yule tradition.  In this ceremony, I light a candle from the sacred fire, then I light the candle to the person on my left saying “may my inner light spark your inner light”.  Then in turn do the same to the person on their left.  The lighting goes all around the circle then the last person will light a large three wick candle on the alter representing the whole of the community.  Then we give people the opportunity to honor those in the community who have helped in some way. 
                Another new adventure ahead of us this year is the building of a public temple for worship ceremonies of all the different pagan paths in the community.  I was approached by a friend who is converting an old machine shop into a dance studio/meeting hall.  It comes with a fenced dirt yard that she isn’t interested in using and asked me if we would like to use it for rituals.  I looked at it and it will be perfect!  I am in the process of bringing the idea to the community and gaining their financial support.
                On a more personal note, my personal practice continues on strong as ever.  I do morning offerings each day with two powers meditation and some trance work on other days.  I recently have noticed an opening and expanding of my “heart”.  I am feeling far more compassionate and empathic of late.  I am not sure what has brought this about.  It could be that Brigid is coming more into my life and spirit.  It could be a natural evolution of my inner work.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of the book I am currently reading about the art of blessing.  Whatever has caused it, I like it.  I still feel strong, just more loving, more patient.  I am also still chipping away on ADF’s clergy training program.  I am getting to the end of it now, and I have learned so much.  I have also begun serious thoughts on what my “ministry” will look like, but I feel that is worth a blog post in itself.  For now I will leave you with this prayer of thanks I wrote as part of my clergy training in my Liturgical Writing class. 
Sage of every art,
Master of the high seat,
I thank you for blessing me and mine with skill.

Lugh  Lámhfhada,
The eye striker,
Champion of champions,
I thank you for protecting me and mine from the powers of chaos and oppression.

Light Bringer,
Oath Keeper,
Law speaker,
I thank you for the harvest that brings bread upon this table.

As a gift calls for a gift:
My skill is your skill,
My protection is your protection,
My harvest is your harvest,

Hail Lugh of the long arm!

Summary: I drew much of the inspiration for this prayer from Cath Maige Tuired.  When the god Lugh first makes his appearance at the gates of Tara he is asked his name and replies that it is Samildanach which means “equally skilled in all arts”; which he proves to be a master of.  Once he enters Tara he takes the seat of the sage, and later that of the king.  Here I talk about the high seat of the sage and name him master as a reflex of his mastery of all skills. 
            Lugh Lamhfhada is another well known name meaning “Lugh of the long arm” and relates to his skill with the spear.  I came up with the kenning of “eye striker” because of the story in the Cath Maige Tuired where Lugh takes out the “evil eye” of his grandfather Balor.  The Tuatha De Danan were champions, but Lugh was champion above even them evidenced by his many feats in the Cath Maige Tuired, thus the title I gave him as “champion of champions”.  The title of light bringer I came up with from the possibility that the etomology of Lugh’s name comes from the Proto Indo-European *leuk  -flashing light (Wikipedia).  Though in Victorian times people thought him a solar deity I believe this *leuk refers not to the sun but to the strike of lightning.  Add to this the epitaph of “fierce striker” and that lightning storms are said to be from Lugh and Balor fighting in folk tales; I agree with Alexi Kondratiev (1997) that the light of Lugh is the sudden blinding light of the lightning flash.  “Oath Keeper” is a reference to another possible etiology of his name which means “oath” and was a god who was often invoked when contracts and business dealings were being done (Wikipedia).  The title “law speaker” I give him because of his role in the story “The sons of Tuireann” where he up holds the laws and names an eric for his father’s murderers.  The reference to the harvest has to do with the end of the Cath Maige Tuired where Bres gives up the secrets of planting, growing and harvesting.  The ending of the prayer draws upon the idea of reciprocity.  It is designed to show how the speaker and Lugh are deeply connected through this process.