Practice Makes Perfect… I Hope.

I told myself I would do two rituals this week, even if they were ‘little’ ones.

Today’s did not go so well.

I was following Melissa Burchfield’s Adopting the Core Order of Ritual for Solitary Use guide, combined in part with the Solitary Self Blessing Rite from the DP guide. I think the combined ritual itself would be okay if I hadn’t mucked it up so badly. After a nice, calming purification, which my meditation practice helped me to achieve almost easily,  the statement of purpose went something like this:

“I seek the blessing of the Ancestors, of the Landspirits, and of the Shining Gods and Goddesses. I seek to be cleansed of ill, and filled with the fire and water of the ancient blessing, that I may grow in health and wealth and wisdom, in wisdom and love and power, in service to the spirits and to the folk and to my own being. …Gods and Dead and Might Spirits, Powers of — oh, crap, the Earth Mother! I’m sorry! Damn it!”

And then I started over. But I was so flustered from messing up the first time that I spilled the offerings and never particularly felt connected to the Kindreds. If they were present at my altar, well, I’m sure it was just to watch the show. They probably had popcorn.

The DP guide has a line in the opening that I wish I’d kept:

Be with me, Oh Shining Ones, in my working; forgive any errors, and grant me, I pray, your blessing.

Maybe if I’d said that line, if I had consciously asked the Kindreds for a  little guidance, it would have gone a little more smoothly. Now I know, though, and I’m not likely to forget again.

Meditation Week 2

Well, I managed to meditate every day, and it went really well. I think it’s helping me learn to ‘let go’ of thoughts I’ve fixated on, negative and positive. As a semi-neurotic personality, I tend to get fixated on things, especially negative things like student loan payments and the troubles I’m having with a given scene. Still, the practice is helping, especially the exercise in the DP manual that suggests I imagine my thoughts as points of light and ‘extinguish’ them when I become fixated.

Two days, I practiced meditating without the audio guide, and it went quite well. To my surprise,  my ‘happy place’ turned out to be a sunny meadow filled with flowers and birds. The dark woods I would’ve expected are within sight, but as I’m meditating, I’m lying on the grass with the sun on my face. Very nice.

My goal for the coming week is to continue meditating daily, but this week I’d like to add a devotional on two days. We’ll see how it goes.

Solitary Yule

I celebrated the Solstice by my lonesome today. It was my first High Day celebration and my first full ADF rite, and, to build up the pressure even more, I conducted my first oath (not the required Dedicant oath) during the rite.

It wasn’t fantastic, but it was pretty okay. Everything went smoothly — except when I realized I’d forgotten a tarot deck for taking an omen and when I had to smoosh the slice of orange I’d brought as offering for Sulis into the cup I use for offerings — and I felt good about the whole process.

I stole a Solitary Yule rite from Rev. Michael Dangler and worked the first oath into it after the return flow. The two went nicely together, I thought, partly because Yule/Christmas has always been a special holiday for me and partly because the energy of a full High Day rite added a little more weight to the first oath.

I haven’t clearly coalesced my thoughts into any solid conclusions, so I think for now I’ll just list a few observations.

  • I love tarot, but it just doesn’t seem to ‘gel’ that well with the ADF rite. At least not for me.
  • I think I might actually enjoy writing my own rites, which I wouldn’t have expected. But there was a distance between me and the words I spoke, and I think speaking my own words would solve that pretty easily
  • I need to work on memorization. Reading from a script is just… well… reading from a script.
  • My altar space doesn’t feel like home to me yet. It feels like a start, but it’s definitely incomplete.

Omens (taken as suggested for first oath):

  • Ancestors: The Star. Hope, inspiration, and serenity.
  • Nature Spirits: Three of Wands. Foresight, exploration, and a journey.
  • Deities: Seven of Cups. Dreams, fantasies, and wishes. (This one needs some thought.)

The lunar eclipse last night was stunning, and felt like another good omen.

That’s it for now. Happy Solstice and Yule, and more thoughts on the High Day will come soon.

Meditation Week 1

Well, I think the novelty has worn off, and it’s time to settle into the real work of druidry.

I was pretty sporadic with the meditation and the rituals this week. The first time I worked through the Two Powers meditation, it was new and exhilarating and exciting. The visualization worked very well for me, because in my excitement to begin, I was concentrating on nothing else.

Generally, though, meditation is very hard for me. I have a very hard time quieting my mind. The inner mind-noise is starting to bubble back up as the novelty wears off and the druid meditation becomes just plain, old, difficult meditation.

Meditation in bed is no good. It helps me concentrate if I do the extra little bit of work of setting up the well and fire. It makes it a little more ritual-like, and more like a serious spiritual practice.

Goal for this week: meditation every day.

I’m going to need more candles…

Last week, eager to begin the Dedicant Path before I even received my welcome packet, I rushed out and bought some white votive candles and three holders,  a little bowl for my well, and a little table to use for my altar. I chose two wands to be my tree and even stripped the bark off a nice little aspen branch.

Then I started looking at images of other people’s altars and descriptions of rituals. And realized, yes, I am going to need more candles.

I realize it’s not all about the trappings, but I want to do this right. The altar is a personal proclamation of piety, and I take that seriously. I attempted my first little ritual last night, the first Druidic Working included in the DP Manual, a simple blessing and an affirmation of my presence on the path, as the book says. It did not go well. I spilled my water, drank to the Holy Powers in the wrong order, and couldn’t concentrate… and I was reading the script off my laptop. I had too much water in my cup, and had to gulp for about 45 seconds to finish it all. If it had been about the trappings, I would have felt pretty bad about myself after this attempt.

With a little encouragement from my fiancé, I tried it again, with better success. This time, I went slowly, and just let the experience wash over and fill me. I expected to feel serene at the end, but somehow, I felt excited.

I think I’m on the path home.