An Intro to Indo-European Myths

Three weeks into my explorations of ADF, I find a need to better understand what these Indo-European myths and traditions are all about, so picked up and and started reading one of their recommended texts for their Dedicant Path studies, Comparative Mythology by Jaan Puhvel.

Just when I thought my studies of myth were over, I find myself now seeing connections I had never noticed before, namely related to the links between, across, and amongst various traditions spanning the European and Asian landmasses.

What would possibly bring me to an academic book like this, beyond my proclivity to things academic anyway? Well, ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)) styles itself as a Pagan church based on ancient Indo-European traditions expressed through public worship, study, and fellowship, and thus its focus on Indo-European traditions is somewhat central.

May as well know more about what I am thinking of getting myself into!

For those who may have no idea what this means, myself amongst them only a week ago, I propose this basic understanding — the languages of Europe, Iran, and India have certain similarity, and this history also speaks to related myths and cultures that somehow connect in ancient times. That ADF faith traditions form from that broad galaxy of interconnected worlds means that I need to at least holistically grok how they relate.

One initial area of learning that I think I always knew but has become more informed through my reading — Celtic traditions are far from being only in Ireland and the UK. In fact, the Celtic peoples stretched from there across France (Gaul, my spiritual home!), much of central and western Europe, and even into Italy, Greece, and Turkey. How, in my former days as a Christian, could I have not noticed that Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was just that — a letter to a group of Celts in Asia Minor?

Nothing like learning new things to connect many formerly disparate pieces of knowledge!

One Toe Further Toward ADF…

I mentioned earlier this week that I am starting to look at ADF, Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, after somehow never having it really feel like a possible venue for my Druidic path.

How time changes things, or perhaps how we make sense of things differently over time.

I was inspired by Lauren’ The Druid Swamp blog over the years, and how she explored her ADF studies in a rather public way. While I work in open education as part of my professional identity, I am familiar with and at times comfortable with learning in the open, so decided to see how others have explored a long affiliation with and path of a modern Druid using the somewhat structured ADF materials, and was surprised to find a number of examples.

Some of those that reached out to me for one reason or another include The Ditzy Druid, Hazel & Rowan, Druish in the Desert, and Into the Mound, and while I have not yet committed to starting the Dedicant Path, ADF’s beginning training program that is intended to be a year-long introduction to the beliefs and practices of Our Druidry, I have been carrying the books with me in my all week. Somehow their structured openness fits me right now.

While having spent years working across The Druid Network (which I proudly remain as an active member), AODA (the Ancient Order of Druids in America, of which I am also quite happy to be an active part of), RDNA (The Reformed Druids of North America – let’s face it, they have had a valuable effect on many), and OBOD (where I have a bit more of a conflicted relationship, quite oddly in many ways), I find myself strangely attracted to the structure of ADF. Yes, religions need to have certain spiritual practices and beliefs that resonate with us, though the notion of democratic leadership and diversity of perspectives that expand across many related traditions resonates quite well with me right now.

Not sure where they may lead or what tomorrow may bring, but I am comfortable right now with how they are starting. Even with my two outreaches to the community over the past three weeks, I found a quirky and encouraging group of people who somehow managed to make me feel welcome while knowing very little about me, my life, my wants, nor my needs. How good is that, being encouraged to explore a wide ranging family of spiritual paths without judgment?!

Again, we do not know how this may develop, but something about it feels right, even if that means right for now. Hey, something must be working here for me to post on Through the Distant Woods twice in the same week!!

Explorations in ADF

I have looked at and explored many of the large (and not so large) Druid communities out there, though somehow I have missed doing that with Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, commonly called ADF.

While I have only started to read these and chat with a few members from a distance, what I have seen so far does resonate.

We shall see . . .

Reflections on Animism via Berlin

I wrote this post a week ago (related to some reflection for a course on animism I am taking) while I was in Berlin for the Wikimedia (Wikipedia) Conference, when I went for an early morning walk before the sessions started.

I am mentioning this as I cannot think of Berlin without considering the pain and suffering that happened to countless people here during the 20th Century, between the wars and Holocaust and Wall, struggle and oppression and violation seem almost palpable under the surface of the kind people and welcoming it seems many immigrants experience here. Granted, for anybody who may have traveled to Germany in the past number of years, the people are lovely and they have gone over and above most of their neighbors at helping with the needs of those fleeing brutal persecution in the Middle East.

I am starting with this as it is easy to miss the animistic notions of life or suffering that I saw some of my classmate colleagues mentioning this week, and one way of sensitizing to the suffering of other than human persons may be by noticing the sufferings of human person and, with that empathy, expanding it in wider ways.

I live in the middle of Manhattan, and the noise and energy that pulsates through the city has a way of drowning out the quiet that is needed for me to be present to suffering and those who are not loud or calling for attention. In this way, when I went for a morning walk through Berlin yesterday morning, I found myself in an amazing inner-city cemetery that felt more like a park as it had grass and plants and trees without seemingly everything in lines or order or over-planning,

and it was in this liminal (in-between) space between life — the birds chirping, the breeze rustling through the trees, the energy of the sun, the little bugs walking on the stone — and death, where I paused to say my morning intentions to the Spirits of Place,

that I had the opportunity to ground myself, breathe deeply, and be more present to the living presence of the earth around me.

I find that when I am in the countryside for longer periods of time, I get used to these things and they lose parts of their mystery as they become the new normal. Only when I bring myself apart in some way that the normal becomes somehow new or unusual (even if it is not markedly special in any single way) and I am able to think of and feel a presence much greater than I am.

Also on:

Animism and Earth Reconnection Course

Animism and Earth Reconnection Online CourseI am taking a new online course, Animism and Earth Reconnection, that begins today. As a Druid, I have a certain connection to the land and nature, though have not experientially studied animism per se, it has been more through formal educational studies. I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my horizons, and while I do not practice, nor plan to practice, anything that I would consider shamanic at all, I thought this course description spoke to me:

Animism is a way of approaching life that emphasizes relationships. Animists see the world as full of persons, both human and other-than-human, and prioritize living in respectful ways with these others. Animism is largely about ethics or core values that get expressed through more or less fancy practices, rituals, and traditions.

Will look forward to sharing some of what I learn over the next couple months here on my blog.