Solitary Articles

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Where does the solitary gather the energy to maintain his religious fervor? Though there are as many methods as there are solitaries, one sure way is to maintain a steady and daily connection with the natural world.Living as I now do in a new home seven hundred miles from my pagan friends, I am clutching at the gifts of the world around me on a daily basis. And they soothe and nourish my loneliness and the strangeness of this new world in which I know no one. Last week was blue. First, a giant butterfly freshly emerged from its cocoon, stretched against the trunk of a tree, drying its wings -- indigo with a border of black. Then a pale blue butterfly the size of the nail on my pinky finger and another and another, feeding on the nectar of some medium blue wildflowers. Then, I spotted my first bluebird (a species that did not exist in my former home), and I was breathless. I don't believe that until that moment I have ever truly known the color "blue."My new world is rich with ravens, and being a child of the Morrighan, I am careful to pay attention when they approach me as they sometimes do, fixing me in their shiny black eyes, heads cocked, chiding me in raucous voices to pay heed. To what? That's the catch. Figure it out. Read the sign. I listen when ravens speak. I chose an apartment that faces a small wood and one early morning while walking the dog, was rewarded with two doe, more curious about my funny little Pug and me than frightened of us. There they stood in the morning mist, not six feet away. One followed us along the wood's edge, her lovely head cocked in interest, chewing her cud, looking slightly amused, as if we were old friends.Yes, I am lucky to live in such a lovely place, but the natural world is everywhere. There are gifts in the trees that surround the high school where I stand cafeteria duty for an hour each day and outside the windows as I teach American literature and outside the windows of my car as I drive home each afternoon. These things sustain us as Solitaries, and I am eager to know more. I have invested in a pile of field guides to my area, and my studies have become intimately connected to maintaining my piety.What can I learn today about my world? That is my mantra. I believe there are certain things every Druid should know. What follows is only a partial list, and you may disagree, but I think that knowing these things brings us closer to the sacred. Answering these questions pulls us into the now and the reality of a world that doesn't depend on fast food and videos and fashion - into a world that is far more important. How many can you answer?1. Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap. 2. How many days till the moon is full (plus or minus a couple of days)? 3. Describe the soil around your home. 4. From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region? 5. Where does your garbage go? 6. How long is the growing season where you live? 7. Name 5 resident birds and any migratory birds in your area. 8. What primary geological event/process influenced the land form where you live. 9. From where you are reading this, point north. 10. Were the stars out last night?Having read the questions, what do you need to learn? There are many spiritual hours to be spent in learning the answersHappy seeking!
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info-manager's picture
While tools are not absolutely necessary to being a Druid- (I have always proclaimed loudly and insistently that worship and magick can be created anywhere and with nothing as long as one knows what she's doing), they are certainly pleasant to have and a pleasure to acquire. My own "Druidic" treasures have been collected over a number of years and include the following sorts of items (which are practical or decorative or both):1. a nemeton: a spot of sacred ground for worship. In the past I have used: an oak-filled, stone walled space that, luckily, was my own backyard; an enclosed herb garden with a sawn tree trunk for an altar; a screened porch; an apartment balcony; a spot of deserted beach; an old, closed bridge that spanned a harbor; a sunroom; a stream running through a city park; a clearing in a wood. I think you get the point. You can establish your nemeton ANYWHERE. Simply bring your devotion, and you create holiness.2. a costume for worship: This is not a necessity. In fact, I feel more than slightly awkward running about in fantastical Druidic garb. I'm more the Druid-in blue-jeans type and save my tunics and robes for big deals like performing weddings; but to some folks, putting on a uniform of sorts helps them to adjust their mental framework, to "see" themselves as a sacred being. You might choose a white tunic or robe signaling fairness in judgment and truth, a cloak made of linen, cotton, or wool (natural materials) -or speckled bull-skin if you can get it . A tartan would be appropriate- in your clan colors- or red, white, and green (the colors of energy, truth, and fertility). Don't settle for a bed sheet; save for the real thing. It took me years to get a fully lined, hooded, flowing cloak of soft green wool; but it was worth the wait.3. an altar: a flat stone on which one can stand is nice for oath-takings; a natural standing stone with a flat top is wonderful; I have two stones that we dragged with us from Pennsylvania to South Carolina and through four moves since then- one I found deep in a wood and spent three days gradually rolling it out. It was worth it! A sawn tree trunk is great also. My current altar is a concrete garden statue of the kneeling baby Pan, holding a cushion above his head; it was a very expensive gift from an old lover who saw me drooling over it in a garden nursery and bought it for me a month later. Since Pan "called me" to the woods, it is highly symbolic. Use whatever feels 'right' to you- I have even used a small corner bookshelf that served no other purpose or spread a cloth over the coffee table when needed.4. the sacred well: a cauldron: gourmet kitchen supply stores often sell cast-iron 'chili pots' which are perfect miniature cauldrons; just don't leave it outside because it will rust. A nicely shaped bowl will do as well. For years, I used an earthenware bowl enameled midnight blue inside. It was also good for scrying.5. the bile: My bile is a bundle of birch twigs tied with raffia. I stand them upright on the altar. A carved stick, a bonsai, a tiny statue of a tree, even a good stick of wood can all serve as the bile.6. the fire: I have used a lantern, a burning bowl, a simple candle, a votive. We become good at collecting candles and fire-makers. It's addictive. What is a Pagan without candles? I have holders of metal with stars cut into the side that splash star shadows on the wall when lit; I have indigo blue glasses scattered with golden stars and suns; I have colored glass and scented pillars. A Druid never has to worry about the electricity going out.7. a wand: the 'slat' is a straight white stick of birch, yew, hazel, rowan, or ash approximately an inch in diameter, about 2 feet long, with a rounded bottom and a blunt top- phallic rather than "pretty."8. a triskelle or tryfot: the three-legged sunwheel.9. a 'craebh bec': the branch of an oak used to sprinkle blessings; to this you should also attach small bells. I recently officiated at a Pagan wedding and made mine silver for the occasion, wound with tiny white flowers and hung with tiny golden bells. I found the bells in the sewing section of Walmart among the specialty buttons. The branch was quite beautiful and made a lovely little sound that was a blessing in itself.10. a hearth: a fireplace is a wonderful luxury, a place to burn sacred wood and herbs and a fire on which to meditate.11. mead: nothing beats the real thing, brewed in Ireland; I carried home several bottles from my last trip (along with a smuggled bottle of 'poteen,' the Irish potato whiskey, purchased from a wandering gypsy with a pony-drawn cart followed by goats); mead is for heaven; for earth, serve beer, ale ('coirm'), or apple cider ('nenadmin') in a fanciful flagon or pitcher.12. goblets or cups: I have a wooden cup carved by a friend; I also have a wine glass with a golden star for a stem .13. a knife: I bought my first one in a tiny cellar shop in Edinburgh, Scotland, from a man who made it by hand; the handle was made from the horn of a roe deer.The rest is fun stuff:stones: I own hundreds of them, some gathered from wonderful places like Glastonbury Tor and an old stone fort in Wales; others I have purchased in gem shows or in stores when the vibrations are exactly right; some are gifts from friends and family; I often use them as charms which I give to those in need or as protection for loved ones.totems: my totem animal is the toad (duh:), and I have a number of toad and frog statues and pictures given to me by family or students or friends or found on my travels; each one has a story behind it, and their presence keeps fond memories alive.miscellaneous: plants, baskets, figurines, flasks; sun, star, and moon images; feathers and shells; herbs and dried berries; old keys; wind chimes; dragon-shaped bells; wall-hangings and paintings; sculptures; acorns and mosses; dried flowers and branches- If you collect these things over time and with love, they bring with them the power of nature and the memories of what you have experienced within them. They bless your living space and are constant reminders of what you ARE... Druid.
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MissyAshton's picture
There are several challenges specific to Solitaries when it comes to completing the Dedicant Path. One of the largest is performing at least four High Day Rites following the Core Order of Ritual, which includes all of the minimum requirements for a rite to be considered ADF in style. If you are new to ADF and have never seen a full rite using the Core Order of Ritual, or COoR, this can be quite daunting. When I first started the Dedicant Path, I performed (I use the word loosely) a full ADF high day style rite. How hard could it be? Well, it was awful! I made numerous mistakes, I was uncomfortable, and I think I even heard laughing as I closed the gates—before thanking the Kindred, mind you. Yup, I slammed the door right in their faces. Needless to say, I needed to start smaller. . . much smaller. I had three months until the next high day, and I wanted to be able to have a successful and fulfilling experience by then. I devised a plan to teach myself the full Core Order of Ritual, from memory, in three months using daily devotionals, no less than four per week, at my home shrine. I hope this method will help you on your path. At the end of this essay, I have also included a generic text of a full ADF COoR Solitary Rite that will fulfill the requirements of the Dedicant Program, when adapted to the seasonal occasions. Keep in mind that I am no liturgist, and you may add, remove or change whatever you like as you go along. If you do not already have a ritual space, now is the time to set one up. If it needs to be portable, find a shoebox or laundry basket you can designate to hold your ritual items. Laundry baskets are nice because you can flip them over and use them as a table when performing your rite. At this stage, be sure you have a representation of the fire (such as a candle) and offerings for the Kindred. Don't forget the matches/lighter! Fire is one of the most important elements of a druidic rite. If you are inside, you will need something to put your offerings in once they have been offered. If you desire, find representations of each of the Kindred and the Earth Mother to put on your shrine. You may also wish to get a bell or some other item to make a sound that initiates the rite. For the first step, we will include the following steps: Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands Light candle Purification - Breathe deeply, nine times to center and clear the mind. Honoring the Earth Mother Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods." Inviting the Kindred Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred Thanking the Beings - In reverse order Thanking the Earth Mother Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended." This simple ritual will take approximately fifteen minutes. I find it is helpful to tape a small piece of paper to the wall with the above numbered steps on it in front of your shrine to help you keep track of what comes next. After you have been doing this for at least a week, try doing it without the paper. Advice from a seasoned veteran: "Something I know about myself and many other people is that as long as the paper is there, they will need the paper. I might suggest doing it for a week with the paper, then trying it once a week without the paper, then twice a week without it, and so on until you're doing it without the paper being taped up there. Paper is a notoroious crutch to the ritualist: getting intimate with the COoR requires that you occasionally kick the script."       -Rev. Michael J Dangler When you can perform this ritual without that piece of paper consistently, you know you are ready to add the next few steps. During this time, learn about recreating the cosmos with the fire, the well and the tree symbology. This information is included in the Dedicant Manual and in the Core Order of Ritual Tutorial.  If you learn "The Portal Song" by Ian Corrigan, it will help you remember what is necessary to firmly establish this sacred center. For the second tier, you will need to add a representation of the well (such as a bowl of water), and a representation of the tree (such as a stick, a portrait, a natural wood wand, etc.). When you are ready for the second tier of your devotionals, we will flesh it out to include the following: Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands Purification - Nine breaths centering Honoring the Earth Mother Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods." (Re)Creating the Cosmos - Fire, Well and Tree Inviting the Kindred Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred Thanking the Beings - In reverse order Thanking the Earth Mother Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended." This ritual form will take approximately twenty minutes, depending on how quickly you get through "The Portal Song." Again, when this can be done without the paper on the wall, you are ready to move on. Hopefully, this will take you one week. During this time, it is important to consider whom you would like to call on to act as Gatekeeper. I suggest choosing a Gatekeeper with whom you will work on a regular basis. Creating a relationship with your Gatekeeper can be as powerful as the relationships you establish with your patrons. A Gatekeeper is a deity who can move freely between realms, and thus they are easier to contact with the gates closed. In the Hellenic Hearth, for example, many Druids use Hermes, the Messenger. He carries messages from the Gods to the people and even to the Underworld. Write a few lines that say something about the character of your Gatekeeper and why you chose him/her. Also, it has been helpful for some members to include a hand gesture or visualization to aid in focusing your energy for the actual opening of the gates. There are several articles that address this topic available on the ADF website. You may add a representation of the Gatekeeper to your shrine, if desired. Now, you are ready to open the Gates! The third tier of your ritual looks like this: Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands Purification - Nine breaths centering Honoring the Earth Mother Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods." (Re)Creating the Cosmos - Fire, Well and Tree Opening the Gates - Call Gatekeeper, Make Offering, Open Gates Inviting the Kindred Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred Thanking the Beings - In reverse order Closing the Gates - and thank the Gatekeeper Thanking the Earth Mother Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended." I found a lot more power behind my rituals when I added the opening and closing of the gates. It really makes a difference. Hopefully, it will not take long to get used to opening the gates. This addition to the ritual brings the total time to a whopping seventeen minutes. And again, when you can do this comfortably without the paper, you are ready to move on. This may only take a week if the gate symbology is familiar to you, or you feel immediately comfortable with the Gatekeeper motif. For the next step, we are going to be adding a "Deity of the Occasion." Each High Day has specific deities associated with it. It is fitting to call on these deities and give them praise and offerings in their time. If you have a patron(s), they can be honored here in the daily devotional format. Be sure to prepare yourself with the stories and lore behind the chosen Deity. It will help you give proper praise and offerings that He/She will find pleasing. We also add the Prayer of Sacrifice, or final sacrifice. This is a short but powerfully made statement claiming that all your offerings have been given, like adding a concluding statement to an essay, and one final material sacrifice. Many groves like to use something dramatic like oil or whiskey added to the flame. This is not necessary, but it can help to elevate the amount of power raised. This is the height of a full rite, energy at its highest point. You can also add an item to represent your Patrons or other Deities as well as a secondary bowl for offerings to them. I use one bowl for all my offerings. The Final Prayer of Sacrifice offering is to everyone, and I think it should go in a central location. It is up to you. A typical way that I do my offerings for a daily devotional is to choose one thing to offer, like a small bowl of steel cut oats. I pour out an aliquot for the Earth Mother, the Gatekeeper, each of the Kindred, and each of my patrons. When I do the final sacrifice, I offer the rest. After my rite, I take them outside and scatter them in the grass or on a spot of earth. The Fourth Tier: Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands Purification - Nine breaths centering Honoring the Earth Mother Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods." (Re)Creating the Cosmos - Fire, Well and Tree Opening the Gates - Call Gatekeeper, Make Offering, Open Gates Inviting the Kindred - Offerings to each as called Key Offerings - Call and offer to the Deity of the Occasion Prayer of Sacrifice - One final offering to all whom you have called "Mighty Kindred! Accept my Offering!" Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred Thanking the Beings - In reverse order Closing the Gates - and thank the Gatekeeper Thanking the Earth Mother Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended." Depending on how involved your deity of the occasion praise and offerings are, this will bring you to about twenty minutes. Many members have a chosen system of divination that they work with. If you do not, now is the time to consider what will work best for you. It may take several different tools before you find the one that is right for you. It might be helpful, if you have a Hearth Culture, to try what they used. A note on omens: A common way for beginners to take omens is to draw three times, one for each Kindred. The omens drawn are then interpreted for general meanings rather than as answers to specific questions. I use three questions posed to all the Kindred: Is my offering accepted? What gifts do you offer in return? What further needs do you have of me? Omens are a very valuable tool to help you discover your personal strengths and weaknesses. I still have to look up every omen I draw, but I am beginning to learn what they mean. There is no time limit when reading your omens. Most importantly, keep a journal of your omens and the impressions they give you. After you have been keeping track of your omens for a time, go back over them and see if there are patterns that can give you even more information about how you are doing, what you are doing right and what you need to change. When your offering is not accepted—and it will happen, as they say in The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy: "Don't Panic." If you have chosen a divination set such as runes, oghams or tarot cards, look more closely at the chosen item. Besides no, what further information can you gain from it? In other words, look at the drawn item to find out why? For example, if you use Runes and you draw Isa (like I do all the time), you can interpret this to mean: "No, because you are cold, like ice. Your heart is not in it, and you are not paying attention to what you are doing. You are being stingy." So, to compensate for this, "warm up." Did you forget something? Are you distracted? Are you in a hurry to be done and is that affecting your concentration? Most importantly, don't take it personally. It is an answer to a question, not a statement about who you are. The Fifth Tier: Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands Purification - Nine breaths centering Honoring the Earth Mother Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods." (Re)Creating the Cosmos - Fire, Well and Tree Opening the Gates - Call Gatekeeper, Make Offering, Open Gates Inviting the Kindred - Offerings to each as called Key Offerings - Call and offer to the Deity of the Occasion Prayer of Sacrifice - One final offering to all whom you have called Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred Omen - draw three times Thanking the Beings - In reverse order Closing the Gates - and thank the Gatekeeper Thanking the Earth Mother Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended." Record your omens! Depending on your speed with the omens, our devotional time is up to twenty-five minutes. The omens may take quite a while to learn and should be addressed separately. For our purposes here, once you have gotten the hang of taking them, interpreting and recording them, you are ready to move on. It may take several months or longer to fully learn a divination tool. You may also try one out and find that it is not working for you. I suggest doing the fifth tier for a week. The last stage of adopting the Core Order of Ritual is adding the Waters of Life, or Return Flow portion. "Having given offerings to the Kindred, you hope that blessings will flow back to you, magnified many times" (Ellison, 125). It is divided in the COoR as three separate steps-and they may be separate steps in a full grove rite. As a solitary, I find that the three steps of the Waters of Life/Return Flow portion flows into a cohesive whole. As listed, the steps are: Calling for the Blessing - remind the Kindred of the ghosti relationship: a gift for a gift Hallowing the Blessing - acknowledge that the blessings are in the cup: "Behold the Waters of Life!" Drink them down. Affirmation of the Blessing - Blessing has been received and internalized. These three steps are a triad of energy flow, harnessed in the cup, consumed, and acknowledged. They are most powerful when the three are treated as parts of a whole Also, immediately following the return flow is the time for any additional workings such as magic spells and oaths. The flow is pouring back at you. Now is the time to harness it, if you wish. If you do have workings or oaths planned for the working portion of your rite, it should be stated in your statement of purpose at the front of the rite. Add a drinking vessel to your shrine. Some members have a pitcher that they pour from and into their cup. You may choose whichever works best for you. I do not use a pitcher for devotionals, but I do for High Days. For daily devotionals I use a cup that already has water in it. The final tier, full ADF Rite per the Core Order of Ritual: Initiating the Rite – Bell Ring, clap of the hands Purification - Nine breaths centering Honoring the Earth Mother Statement of Purpose - "I have come to honor the gods." (Re)Creating the Cosmos - Fire, Well and Tree Opening the Gates - Call Gatekeeper, Make Offering, Open Gates Inviting the Kindred - Offerings to each as called Key Offerings - Call and offer to the Deity of the Occasion Prayer of Sacrifice - One final offering to all whom you have called Key Offerings - Made to the Kindred Omen - draw three times Calling for the Blessing - Call for a gift in return for your gift Hallowing the Blessing - Acknowledge that the blessings are in the cup "Behold the Waters of Life!" (drink) Affirmation of the Blessing - Blessings have been received and internalized Workings, if any Thanking the Beings - In reverse order Closing the Gates - and thank the Gatekeeper Thanking the Earth Mother Closing the Rite - "The rite is ended." Record your omens! Congratulations! You just did a successful ADF Core Order of Ritual Solitary Rite! If you are performing your rite away from your shrine, it is important that you "mark your territory" before you begin. Walk the perimeter of your site and focus your energy on removing/pushing out any negativity from the area as well as from yourself. During the purification portion (step 2), you may offer to the Outdwellers, if desired. Do this away from your ritual site, and ask them to take your offering in exchange for being left alone. If you are working with the Two Powers Meditation, you may perform this in place of the Nine Breaths Centering. Many groves do this to establish a group mind. I like to do a Two Powers Meditation and move into a "Parting of the Mists" in which I conjure a mist in a visualization and then part it to reveal my Gatekeeper (ala Three Cranes Grove, ADF). Once you have attained this level of control over the format, the only writings you will need to bring with you are the praise offerings specific to the Deities of the occasion. Feel free to beg, borrow and "steal" prayers and stories from anywhere you desire to flesh out your rites and make them your own. Be sure that any writings you use that are not your own have the source properly cited, especially if you plan to publish it. If you are a writer, write your own prayers to make this more personal. The search tool on the ADF website is an excellent way to learn more about any of the parts of the Core Order as well as prayers, stories and many other ritual needs. I hope that you will find the Core Order of Ritual is highly adaptable. Once you have made it routine, the real spiritual work begins. When your eyes are free to move from the physical world into the beyond, and your actions become fluid and second nature, you will reap the benefits of learning to meet the Kindred in this way. Bibliography There are many links to resources for solitaries through the Solitaries SIG. Bonewits, Isaac. "Step by Step through A Druid Worship Ceremony" (Originally published in Druid's Progress #4) Corrigan, Ian. "Portal Song" Dangler, Michael, arr. The Fire on Our Hearth: Devotional of Three Cranes Grove, ADF. Garanus Publishing: Columbus, OH. 2008. (available at https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Our-Hearth-Devotional-Cranes/dp/0615879799) Ellison, Robert Lee (Skip). A Solitary Druid. Citadel Press: New York, 2005. Dangler, Michael J. "The Outline of Druidic Rites" Newberg, Brandon et al. Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual for Ar nDraiocht Fein Special thanks to Michael J Dangler for consulting, editing, and pushing me beyond my limits, to Shawn Scott for editing and encouragement, and to Brandon Newberg for inspiring me to write this article!
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none's picture
The following articles are all written by or for solitaries on the path of Our Druidry.Adopting the Core Order of Ritual for Solitary UseOn the Solitary Path - Oak Leaves 14On the Solitary Path - Oak Leaves 15On the Spiritual Path . . . Footnotes to a Spiritual Life
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MichaelJDangler's picture
Many times, I have heard solitaries in ADF react with envy to the ease in which Grove-affiliated members can find community in their worship, especially if said solitaries are geographically isolated and not solitary by choice.It can be a hard thing (as I well remember) to be a solitary member of ADF. The email lists do not create the feeling of connectedness that a warm handshake or the friendly hug of a fellow Druid can create. Articles in Oak Leaves tend to discuss Grove formation and talk about Grove spirituality. At festivals, it is sometimes hard for the solitary to find a place. But we Grove members have something to be envious of, as well.The process of running a Grove is no easy task, and neither is being an active member. For the majority of Grove-affiliated members, the Grove rites become our High Day rites. They fall on days that are mutually convenient for us, not often on the High Day itself. We sometimes simply attend rather than participate, especially when it's been a long week or a trying day. At the end of the day, we collapse on our couch, exhausted from the planning, work, and general stress of putting on a public rite.How many of us remember our own needs at the end of such a long day of stress, worry, and work?Are our obligations fulfilled, not only to our Gods, but also to ourselves?What are we missing?When we attend these rites, worshipping with the community, we are fulfilling our obligations to the Gods. There's no question there. ADF is primarily about public worship in the Elder Ways, and that is what we do at these High Day rites. The Groves are partially fulfilling ADF's obligations and their own when they hold these public rites. But what is it that the Groves are not necessarily doing in these rites that a solitary practitioner does in every rite she holds? I recognized that something was lacking at Yule in 2004.With my brother graduating from college on the same day as the Grove's Saturnalia rite, I was unable to attend our group worship. I recognized that there is an obligation that we have to our Gods, and that obligation is part of the world that I live in.My obligation, of course, is that I need to provide due worship to the Shining Ones each of the eight High Days. I have held this obligation since my Dedicant Oath in 2002, and I did not feel that, "Oh, well, I can't attend with my Grove," was a good enough excuse for breaking this oath to maintain my piety. I had not, however, done a solitary ritual for a High Day since 2002. Always, I knew that my obligation to the Gods was fulfilled by attending (and especially leading) the rites of my Grove. Yes, I have done daily devotional rites, but those are simply not the same.The devotional is informal and simple. A High Day rite is a celebration and a connection to deity in a mythological framework. High Days take planning, and you set them off specially from the rest of the year. Well, I sat down and wrote the ritual I intended to use and set about with preparations as I usually do for any ritual. I expected this rite to be the same as any other rite I have done. Open gates, insert patron, close gates. I think, to some extent, that I was seeing this rite as an obligation to the Gods, not as an obligation to myself.And so I began, describing the sacred space, attuning myself to the Two Powers, and opening the gates. When I came to the invocation to Sulis, however, I realized that something special was happening. I was connecting with this deity in a way I had never connected before. It was as if I was being filled up with the light of the sun. It was when I went to light the candles, though, that the real connection brought me up short. All at once, it was a feeling of, "Stop. Listen. Tell me about it all." And I did.I stopped and listened to Sulis, felt her warmth on my face. I poured out my problems. I chatted about things important and insignificant all at once. The ritual ground to a halt as I simply experienced the goddess of the sun. And it hit me: this is the other part of piety that I have been missing. There are obligations to the Gods that we must fulfill, but there are also obligations to ourselves.This one-on-one time I had with Sulis is something that should happen more often. In group rituals, there is pressure to move on, to get the job done. People have places to go and things to do. Individual attention to the Gods can drag a Grove ritual into a long, boring hour of downtime for everyone except the person receiving the experience. Such experiences are not impossible to achieve in a group ritual, but they are somewhat uncommon for many Groves to be able to achieve. Piety is a two-way street: it involves obligation to the Gods and obligation to the self.We are thinking, feeling creatures, and as such, we need that individual connection to keep going. A big part of fulfilling obligations to the Gods is holding and attending the public rituals our Groves put on, but similarly, we need to remember that there are reasons that some ADF members choose to remain solitary, and the obligations to the Gods can be fulfilled just as well by a solitary rite, and often the obligation to the self can be fulfilled much better with one. So when you consider your own piety, your own obligations to the Gods, remember that piety requires that you gain from it, as well.
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Member-1586's picture
I am Druid. I am neither wealthy nor wise, neither beautiful nor famous. I have not traveled the world nor sat at the feet of the celebrated. I have not been toasted for my achievements nor have I experienced an illustrious career. But for lack of all that, I still have an extraordinary life. I am Druid, and my life is rich with the possibilities of the ordinary.What I offer to you are simply the footnotes. Reap from them the richness of texture, the flavor of what can be and carry away what you wish to add to your own life as a Druid.Slow down.Lie in bed in the light of morning and anticipate the treasures of the day. Stretch luxuriously and thank your body for its gifts. Then rise and greet the light with open arms.Take a walk.Watch a tree change with the seasons.Water the garden and watch droplets bead on the leaves of plants and soak into the thirsty ground. Listen for the garden's response to your watering.Sit alone in the sunlight and listen through the silence.Listen to the music of a stream or fountain.Buy fresh flowers for no particular reason but for the love of color and scent and the way they look against the backdrop of your wall. Buy them even if you have little money and be fed on their richness.Buy a loaf of freshly baked bread and share it with the birds. Taste its rich grain and the sun and wind and rain and earth that nourished it.Pluck a tomato ripe from the vine and eat it immediately. Let the juice run down your chin.Lie down in the grass with your ear to the ground and listen to the rhythms of the earth.Sleep under the stars.Lose yourself in thought.Cup your cold hands around a warm mug and breathe with gratitude.Choose to be cheerful, even when circumstances demand otherwise.Determine to learn one new thing that day.Smile at a stranger. Smile at everyone you meet today.Smile at nothing in particular.Read something that lifts your spirits.Yearn with holy longing to know the meaning of your life.Fold your hands in prayer and be glad."If we had a keen vision of all ordinary life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of the roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well-wadded with stupidity." George Eliot
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