The First Oath in ADF

While it may appear early or even unseemly to take or make an oath, and while I have generally avoided these sorts of things under the guise of needing more information or data or a feeling of not being ready to commit, the powers that be in ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship) suggest it is time for one.

This is a personal commitment to Druidry, and while I have practiced spiritually and religiously as a Druid in one form or another since 2009 initially as a Fwd: Checking inmember of OBOD and then as a member of The Druid Network and the Ancient Order of Druids in America (both TDN and AODA I remain committed to and involved in), it seems high time to take this step. ADF suggests it fitting to do this early during the Dedicant Path, one that is made between the student and his or her own Gods and Spirits, and since I have long been committed to the path of Druidry, now is the time.

A photo of me taken in Carnac, France, during the summer of 2018.
A photo of me taken in Carnac, France, during the summer of 2018.

This First Oath involves a pledge the Three Ways core to ADF work:

  1. Virtue: to do right and live well – this seems fair, and even a good thing to be virtuous.
  2. Piety: to keep the customs and work of the Pagan Way – why not be pious if we recognize there are greater spiritual forces beyond ourselves?
  3. Study: to seek to increase Pagan knowledge and skill – I live for intellectuality, so this makes perfect sense to me as well.

OK, nothing outrageous there or beyond my ability to do at this time, so onward I go. I did this on Sunday, August 26, 2018. I have been a member of ADF for a couple months now, but here is my First Oath, one that happened amidst a short ritual which I did on the roof of my building. Druidry can be expressed in cities just as strongly as it can in remote groves or henges.

Before this assembly of Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits, I declare myself to be a Druid, a seeker of the Old Ways, a worshiper of the wonders of nature, and student of those before us who celebrated Pagan ways. May I build upon these into the future.

With this holy oath I set my foot upon this path, the Druid’s Way, and I vow to make my dedication plain and clear.

I vow to seek virtue in my life, to do right by my community.

I vow to make my Druidry real, by keeping the rites and works that call to me.

I vow to deepen my understanding of the Ways through study, to fill my mind with truths revealed in the Elder Paths.

These things I swear to the Gods, the Ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. So be it. Awen

OK, here we go. Onward and Upward!

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!!

Final Paper Submitted for Pagan Ministry Course

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Hurray; the paper for the summer course I took is now done and submitted! As I recently recounted, this course expanded some of my thinking and boundaries, and I am happy to report it is now complete!

The paper was ultimately called Pagan Ministry and Service to the Earth: An Actor-Network Explication of Ministering to the Spiritual Agency of Nature. It continues an idea I have been exploring, namely ways of thinking about Paganism from an actor-network theory perspective.

I have written many papers in my day (one that continues, thankfully!), though this is the first one in some time I can recall looking forward to the feedback from the professor. You see, I hope to expand upon this and submit it for a couple conferences / publications, so am actually looking forward to critically-helpful feedback this time.

Hope to eventually share it!

BTW, in case you may be wondering, I am using a fresco of St. Francis of Assisi (one who has distinct Pagan tendencies, to be sure!) as his sermon to the birds is about as Pagan as one can get. Hey, who doesn’t talk to birds?! It is along the lines of actor-network theory when we consider how our speaking to them is only one part of a very complex set of network experiences. With so many people looking forward to the Eclipse tomorrow, it is easier to envision how non-human agency moves us to act across networks. When this happens in a way that influences our spiritual response? Now THAT is approaching the area of inquiry in my paper!

This posting is part of my ongoing, shared journaling related to the Formations for Modern Pagan Ministry course I am taking during the summer of 2017 at Cherry Hill Seminary.

You are welcome to join me on this journey!

Implications for Ministry (Beyond People)

While my course on Pagan Ministry is drawing to an end, the questions for my next steps are just the opposite . . . I now have more questions and areas of possible exploration than I anticipated! I consider this a successful course, as I really appreciate learning enough in a course that I end it with deeper and more informed questions!

After all, who wants to take course to learn something new and NOT have any more questions or areas of future inquiry as a result?!?!

When I started the course, I began by thinking of ministry, or ministering to others, in a fairly traditional (i.e., Christian) way. How was I not to think of it as akin to my previous experiences?! Ministering to people was shorthand for helping people to spiritually move forward in a shared direction, and while good-intentioned, often was realized as a form of proselytizing. What better way to spiritually help people than by helping them to accept the same truth as I already have.

Ahh, how limited!!

Like medicine, where we go to a doctor for him/her to help us to the doctor’s perception of what is the best health (for us), or for us to take a taxi (where we go with the trust that they will bring us where we need to go, following the best directions they have based on their navigation apps). If we could do it all on our own, we would not need to seek the help of others, into whose hands we give ourselves. This works similarly with ministry, where it is also common to go to somebody in our tradition for their help to guide us in advancing through our tradition. This assumes that there are people who want to embody this role, though that may be a question for another day.

Yes, I have learned this is not the case when we speak about Pagan Ministry. We may know part of the journey ahead, or aspects of the path, though the ministry–better thought about as spiritual facilitation, support, or advisor–helps us advance in ways that are most comfortable and accessible for our needs. As this involves Pagan practices, which are in various Druidic traditions in my own case, there is less an emphasis on a single, correct path, and more a focus on a single, spiritual path for me right now. This would be even more important if seeking spiritual support and guidance from somebody from another pathway within Paganism itself! In this way, Pagan Ministry would not seek to make a Mini-Me, but rather help me to achieve the spiritual best of me, in whatever way that makes the most sense to me.

Ministering helps people, yet insofar as Pagans engage in the living earth as the source and end of energy and life and spirituality, then so to does ministry need to engage with this broader environment for where, or how, or for whom / what ministry entails. As Pagans are often solitary and eclectic in their practices, to engage in useful and helpful ministry must also encompass an awareness and acceptance of a diversity of meaning-making. If I were engaged in ministry, that means working with people and/or spirits in the earth and world around us.

In this way, ministry does not only involve groves or covens or groups of people, but the very real, spiritual being(s) in and around us. This is the main take away and area for further inquiry that I see coming from this course in Pagan Ministry. As my own understand has broadened, so have those implications and richness in how the experiences can be so much more inclusive than only with people.

As a result, ministry and the spiritual care and support of others has as the most important element–others. One cannot care for nothing, it must be for something . . . yet this something does not have to be limited in human capacity. We can minster to the earth, to the other living and spiritual forces in and around us, and to one another.

Ministry is much richer than I initially suspected, and as a result, I find it broader and more inclusive than simply limiting it to other people, like me. Ministry can be to others, to the Earth, the Spirits of Place, plants, animals, or any who need (spiritual) support.

I really need to consider this in new and expanded ways . . .

This posting is part of my ongoing, shared journaling related to the Formations for Modern Pagan Ministry course I am taking during the summer of 2017 at Cherry Hill Seminary.

You are welcome to join me on this journey!











PantheaCon 2017 Reflection

This was my first PantheaCon, and I have never met a warmer, welcoming, and spirited group seeking to share and learn / experience together the richness of what it means to be Pagan.

I had the opportunity to attend PantheaCon 2017 last weekend, and have been thinking about it and processing the experience all week. For anybody who is not familiar with it, this is the largest (indoor) Pagan conference in the country, and with over 2,000 attendees, it may also be the most inclusive. There were young people and older people, those with various (dis)abilities, shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, creeds, and levels of understanding and intensities. Children and dogs were present and welcome, too!

Yes, there was a diversity of practices, belief systems, and religious plurality as well!

Given this festive event over President’s Weekend in San Jose, California, and given I took a flight before the sun came up on Friday morning and then back home after the sun went down for the red eye on Sunday evening, I felt I was intentional in my actions enough to embrace all the experiences I was able, while also not doing it to an extent that I did not take care of my own needs and comfort levels. In this manner, it was a success.

There were several people, sessions, rituals, and experiences that really made the time memorable for me. Moreover, many of these continue to have an effect on me, and before we get too far from PantheaCon, I want to share my top 8 memories from the event. Like the Wheel of the Year that helps us orient time in quarters and cross-quarters, I will do similarly, also in some loosely related order of their happening (and not necessarily in order of importance or impact).

I will not make any claim that one was better than the other, but my PantheaCon experience would have been lessened had any of these not been present.

      1. ADO Triskelion Ritual Connecting with Land, Sea & Sky & the Awen— I had been wanting to experience one of the Anglesey Druid Order’s rituals, and as it was led by Kristoffer Hughes, it could not have been more reverent, prayful, and hysterically funny than it was. That I met Kris in person after knowing him from a distance for many years made it only more special.
      2. The Awen I sing from the Deep I bring it — The second of the two sessions I attended of Kris’, and this time I was able to get two of his books I did not have. Again, for anybody who has never heard Kris present, he has a way of taking very serious material and making it so funny and fitting, that I can only wish I presented more like him. Next stop, Wales!
      3. Magickal drumming – Ritual/Ceremonial Drumming workshop — Don Schulz did such a wonderful session that I bought one of the drums he used during this before I left on Sunday evening.
      4. Into The Labyrinth: Change Through Movement — Laura “Tempest” Zakroff had me moving in ways that I usually do not. Nothing revealing or the like, but as I spend so much time living in my head instead of in my body, this helped me experience something that I often try to avoid, namely bodily movement and feeling comfortable in my own skin.
      5. Thanks to the Aquarian Tabernacle Church for hosting their “Drunken Divination Party.” Lots of fun, snacks, and drinks, along with the sense that there was a healthy community present; kudos Dusty! Not only was I able to get a fantastic reading from Phaedra Bonewits (she was spot on before even sharing my question for the cards), but I  also had the opportunity to spend time and many laughs with Shade, Cotodia, and Rick, all of whom contributed more than I was able to share back! Ever have the feeling that you have known folks much longer than the calendar indicates?
      6. My visit to the SHARANYA Hospitality Suite was a rich, rich experience, finally allowing me to meet with Chandra, the greatest spiritual nonprofit and fundraising professional I know!
      7. I was able to spend two occasions with my colleagues from AODA (Ancient Order of Druids in America) — Larisa, Mizket, Pkford, Carmiac, and Oliver. How good is that — speak and learn with and through these distant grove-mates over the years and finally meet, informally more than once, at PantheaCon! Next year we should schedule something as well, perhaps for the benefit of the larger Con!
      8. Finally, I had the opportunity and privilege to have deep and exciting conversations with Laura, who was kind enough to offer me a ride to and from the airport to the conference. Truly paying Karma forward and most humbly passing it on.

There are many others who I met along the way whose presence added to my experience, but I wanted to share this while we were still within the week from the Con. Thanks to the many who helped make this such a spectacular event. I hope to take what I learned and share it back tenfold.


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