|Homework: Write about your feelings regarding your First Oath in your Dedicant Notebook. Answer the questions about it above. Also, compare where you are now with your answers from the first week. Write about any feelings you have or changes you would make to the answers you gave. Write down your feelings on Hearth Culture. Do you think you have one? Do you know you have one? What makes you so certain, and what makes you still feel a bit insecure? What do you like about the culture(s), if you have chosen one or two? What do you dislike about them? If you are unsure about your cultures, would it help to do a compare/contrast chart to weigh several cultures against one another? Try it and see. Finally, is there a pantheon that you have heard calling you? Is there a specific Patron? How do you feel about the word “Patron” itself? Does it fit the way you think about deity? Is there a single Patron, or are there many? Do you know anything about this particular deity (or group of deities)?
The Wheel of the Year is spinning quickly and time goes fast! It’s been already more than 3 months since the restart of my Dedicant Path for ADF Druidry and many things changed since the beginning of my Druidic studies. I’ve made a lot of researches and studies on my own to satisfy my curiosity and answers questions I had. Having done that, I’m now easily able to differentiate Wicca from Druidry. To be able to understand and differentiate the major Neopagan traditions, I’ve made a timeline including historical events related to Druidism, Neo-Druidry, Witchcraft and Wicca and read about the different Druidic organizations other than ADF (NRDNA, RDNA, AODA, ADF, OBOD, etc.) and on the different Wicca Traditions (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Georgian, Saex, Dianic, etc.). I’ve also read a lot on Heathenism (Germanic Paganism), particularly on Odinism and Ásatrú. I’ve made researches on Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, on Gaelic languages (mainly Irish and Welsh) and on the Celtic culture in general. I’ve even read about Druidcraft, a concept regrouping elements from Celtic Druidry and a form of Eclectic Wicca tradition. Having read about all of this, I can fully affirm that my spiritual path is really Druidry, and not Wicca, Heathenism or Druidcraft. Not that these paths are wrong or bad, it’s just that I am a Hard Polytheist and I’m more spiritually inclined by the Druidic path. I have a lot of respect for Wiccans and Heathens, and I know I’ll still read on these subjects in the future.
After fully switching from Wicca to Druidry, the hardest part for me was to completely eliminate the alchemistic concept of the “Four Classical Elements” (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) which is still largely used by modern Wiccans. At the beginning of my Druidic path, I was still comparing the Druidic Three Hallows as part of these four elements. I was associating the Well Hallow (which is connected with the realm of the Sea/Underworld) with Water; the Tree hallow (connected with the realm of the Land/Midworld) with Earth. But what about the Fire Hallow? The Fire Hallow is represented by a flame (Fire) and is connected with the realm of the Sky/Upperworld, which is associated with Air. I was struggling with the fact that Sky was merging two elements instead of having something for Air and something else for Fire. Looking at the pictures of my home shrine from Week 7 and Week 14, you can clearly see that I was still retaining some Wiccan concepts and elements on my altar. The Well was always on the west side (water), the Tree at the north direction (Earth), the Fire at the south (Fire) or and my Incense at the East (Air). The real problem is that I was comparing a Paleodruidic concept used to define the cosmology with a modern concept which was representing the elements. Two very different things! When I understood the logical differences between these ideologies, I could peacefully discard all my concepts based on the four elements! Now my shrine fully embraces the Celtic Way! My Fire Hallow is located at the far side of the altar, my Tree Hallow is at the very center, and the Well Hallow is near me. They are, in fact, divided by three invisible bands, representing the Celtic Realms: Sky, Land and Sea.
Another painful transition was the tools used in rituals. All these lovely tools used in Wicca are more or less useless in Druidic practice. My home shrine went through a lot of changes and I now have completely cleaned off all the Wiccan tools and also the cardinal/elemental concepts from my altar. On the right side, I have the offering bowls/glasses for the three Kindreds and for my Matron Goddess Morrígan, and also an iron cauldron for incense offerings to Manannán. On the left, I have my divination/omen tool (which is now ogham), my ceremonial cup to drink during rituals and some crystals for grounding energies. I only kept the wand to help me canalizing energies. By the way, I encourage you to read an interesting post by Ian Corrigan about the Druid’s Wand.
My Altar (April 2016)
Okay, back on track! This week’s homework is about answering questions related to our Dedicant Path, our first oath, and the hearth culture/pantheon that we have chosen to work with.
1. Questions about the Dedicant Path (Same questions as Week 1)
1.1 – Why have you chosen to undertake the Dedicant Path? Today, I can say that I have chosen this particular path to learn more about the Celtic Ways and to practice my spirituality based on ancient Irish Pagan traditions. I know that Neopaganism is a way to recreate what was practiced before, similar to Celtic Reconstructionism, adding new elements to fill the empty gaps on what is still unknown. ADF is very selective on the scholarly materials they choose to recreate the beliefs systems and the rituals, so I feel on the right path by being part of that organization again.
1.2 – Is this a step on your path, or will this become the path itself? I’m more and more certain that the Druidic path is the one that I will follow forever. I might still include some Wiccan elements, notably during Esbats or Moon celebrations, but my Sabbats (High Days Festivals) will follow the Druidic Path. The last three months, I’ve spent much time, like written earlier, to compare what is available in term of Neopaganism traditions, and the ADF Druidry is something I totally can relate to!
1.3 – What do you expect to learn? I already learned a lot with the Dedicant Path homeworks, and I know I still have a lot to learn. I want to know more on the Celtic cultures, lore and legends, the Deities and the language. I started learning the modern Irish language with the Rosetta Stone application, and with the Collins Dictionary, Verbs and Grammar books.
1.4 – What would you like to get out of this journey? Do you know where this path will take you? I would like to gain more of knowledge on Druidry, genuine information about Celtic cultures, deities and mythology. I also want to learn more about Ogham as divination/omen tools. I’m more and more intrigued by the guilds programs offered by ADF. I’m seriously envisaging continuing my learning path with the Seers Guild after my Dedicant Path.
1.5 – If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately? Starting right away in 2013 seemed to be the best thing to do. I eventually stopped my training, but now I’m back, and I know ADF is right for me! My knowledge about Paganism and Druidry has extremely increased by a drastic learning curve, and I like this!
1.6 – Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy? Dividing and separating the concepts of Wicca and Druidry was more complex that I had thoughts at the beginning, but with my newly gained knowledge on both subjects, I can easily make the difference now. The book reviews are also more work than I could have expected, but it’s a nice challenge! The essays on the High Days are easier for me, but the hard part is to respect the maximum words count!
1.7 – Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that I can help you with? I have no doubts or concerns. I still have more questions about the traditions from the different cultures, like the cosmology, the deities, the myths and legends, etc. but my future researches will help me in finding the answers I seek!
1.8 – Are the answers to these questions still the same? Not really! My goals are different and I know more on Druidry now than when I started my first Dedicant Path in 2013.
1.9 – Are you finding this course of study harder, or easier than it was at first? The ADF course of study is perfect for me. It’s neither too challenging nor too easy. It’s a perfect balance and a great way to learn. I go at my own rhythm, meaning that I’m not only following the Wheel of the Year guide, I also do a lot of personal researches to learn more! I like to increase my knowledge on subjects that I’m interested into.
1.10 – Are you starting to get what you wanted out of this path? Yes! Knowledge is one principle that I cherish, and ADF Druidry is clearly encouraging this with its learning process.
1.11 – Are there nagging questions that you need answered? Nothing!
2. Questions about the first oath
2.1 – Do you feel that you are upholding that Oath? Not at all, everything I stated in my oath is easy to follow based on my lifestyle.
2.2 – Are there ways to better observe it? In my oath, I stated that: “I vow to live a virtuous life, and to do right by my kin”, “I vow to live a Pagan life by honoring the high days and rituals” and “[I vow] to deepen my understanding of the Ways”. I vowed to live by virtue, piety and study and I can easily say that I am doing exactly this!
2.3 – Did you make any mistakes in the way you wrote it? Reading that oath again, I can say that I’m still very happy by it. I would not change anything.
2.4 – Are you still comfortable with it? Yes, I’m very comfortable with my first oath.
3. Questions about the chosen hearth culture
3.1 – Do you think/know you have one? I am interested by the Celtic Irish culture. The Tuatha Dé Danann are the Irish gods and the ones in which I feel the most connected. Luckily enough, the ADF grove in which I’ll soon be a member is also working with, at least, this culture.
3.2 – What makes you so certain, and what makes you still feel a bit insecure? In 2013, began my Druidic Path using the Norse culture as my main focus, with only few Celtic notions retained. But now, I learned much about the Celtic Irish culture, and the more I know, the more I’m attracted to this one. The Norse culture is very interesting, but I am now associating it more with Heathenism than Druidism. The Celtic culture is the strong basis of Druidry and I like the traditions and stories related to it.
3.3 – What do you like about the culture(s), if you have chosen one or two? I like the mythology stories and the runes from the Norse culture, but I prefer the history, the language, the cosmology and the deities from the Celtic culture. I can now affirm that I’m specifically following the Celtic Irish culture. I feel uncomfortable to works with deities from different pantheons. I’m a follower of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and The Morrígan is the Triple Goddess who chosen to guide me through my spiritual path.
3.4 – What do you dislike about them? Not really a “dislike” but more an incompatibility or trouble with some elements. I know this is part of an old way of thinking, but the ideology behind the cosmology of the Norse culture is a little too “imaginary” to my taste. Also, I think I had more difficulties connecting with the Norse deities because some of them are regarded as personifications of sentiments or astronomical concepts. That’s one of the reasons why I’m now only following a Celtic culture. Now, if I look at the pantheons from the Celtic cultures (Gaulish, Brythonic, Welsh and Gaelic), there is so many deities that it makes it a lot harder when it’s time to study them. To fix that issue, I opted to focus my energies on the Gaelic/Irish pantheon only.
3.5 – If you are unsure about your cultures, would it help to do a compare/contrast chart to weigh several cultures against one another? I did it already and my main focus when it was the time to choose a preferred culture, I went by the “look and feel” I had for them. It can be regarded as an odd way to choose a culture, but if you think about movies or novels related to these cultures, you’ll know which one(s) you like simply based on the interest you have from the feeling of these! Movies set in Celtic lands are my favorite ones! So, Irish was an easy choice!
4. Questions about the chosen Pantheon
4.1 – Finally, is there a pantheon that you have heard calling you? The Celtic Irish pantheon is now my main focus point.
4.2 – Is there a specific Patron? Is there a single Patron, or are there many? Yes! When I was studying the Norse mythology in 2013-2014, I had the impression that Nótt was guiding me. But I knew it was a mistake. Then, I felt connected with Cerridwen (Welsh goddess of knowledge, transformation and inspiration) but again, it was not it. All my life I was surrounded by raven or crow imagery. I then knew who it was, or who they were! The Morrígan, Triple Goddesses of War and Sovereignty, is my matron guide. The primary themes associated with the Morrígan are battle, strife, and sovereignty. She sometimes appears in the form of a crow, flying above the warriors, and in the Ulster Cycle she also takes the forms of an eel, a wolf and a cow. She is often depicted as a trio of individuals, all sisters. Although membership of the triad varies, the most common combination is Anu (maiden), Badb (mother) and Macha (crone). I feel particularly connected with Badb (which is often equated with the Greek goddess Hecate or the Welsh goddess Cerridwen – which could explain my feeling with Cerridwen at first). The Morrígan is celebrated during Samhain, which is one of my two favorite High Days.
4.3 – How do you feel about the word “Patron” itself? I still prefer using the word “Patron” for the gods and “Matron” for the goddesses, even if I know the true definition of “Patron”.
4.4 – Does it fit the way you think about deity? Yes, absolutely!
4.5 – Do you know anything about this particular deity (or group of deities)? I only know the basic stories about them. I plan to learn more about them in the next weeks!