Personal Religion

X. Personal Religion

There are likely as many individual paths and methods in Druidry as there are meso and neo druids.  Though I think the general public would think of Druidry as a grove/group practice, there is a census that says our ADF druids are nearly half solitary, and I fall into that category.   I am not solitary because I lack a grove nearby.  I know a few in my area.  There is in fact an ADF and a non-ADF grove in here in the Pacific Northwest, but they fall into the “Pantheon of Agreement” category as Rev. Michael J. Dangler so well puts it, and though I have tried acknowledging pantheons other than of my own chosen Celtic hearth in the name of community, it tasted very little of spirituality for me and more of political compromise.  Now I must point out here that I mean a spiritual and political compromise on my part, not of any slight at all by the groves.  It’s just my own idiosyncrasy.  And though it is said that a druid has a duty towards community building, for me, community building is something I must do in areas other than my personal spirituality.  In this year of following the DP course, I found I just cannot “go through the motions” of rituals to pantheon’s I cannot relate to and be true to myself doing rites that do not bring me to spiritual level that I find in doing solitary work.

I come from a Wiccan background, as many of us in ADF have, and in this year of the DP study course I have found that there are similarities in ADF and Wiccan and in Christianity rituals that do not work well for me.  Again, it is the “go through the motions” that does not take me to the spiritual level that I prefer.  Now I know it works quite well for others and there are those that say perhaps I must not be “doing it right.”  Well I have 30 years of experience in ritual (I am 51 years old), and I’ve had some stellar successes and wonderful experiences with it, but it does not consistently bring me to my Kindred in the depth and strength as I have learned to do with meditational trance, a deeper spirit-walk trance that I have learned how to achieve during this past year thanks to the requirement to document Mental Training.  I continued that meditation work past the documented 5 months when a virtual light-bulb exploded in my being and Spirit Walking became so important to me. That journal and my work towards developing my meditation practice in this course are far and above my greatest personal success through the ADF and I count it as a blessing.  There are instances where full blown ritual works well for me, weddings, blessings/religious blessings of babies, and funerals and specific rites.  These are special ceremonies that mark important occasions.  There are also specific High Days where I do indeed do full rituals as they too are special occasions between my Kindred and me, those being Samhain, Yule, and Beltane and I will do them ADF style with the COoR.  In fact, I’m looking into learning beading (maybe even join the arts guild?) to make a set of COoR/COoM (I explain COoM later) prayer beads for myself.   As for the other five High Days, while they are important in marking the turning of our year’s wheel, they have more meaning for me observed without formal high ritual pageantry, being celebrated instead with my meditative method of devotions along with my usual family traditions.

That all being said, do I believe in the COoR as liturgy that I can embrace?  There has been a discussion recently on the boards about it.  Are there elements in the COoR that are adverse to my beliefs?  Absolutely not!  As far as high-ritual goes when full regalia is called for, the COoR is the method of choice for me.  Were it not, were there any elements to the liturgy or to the tenants that make ADF what it is, unique among any other groups, I would not be ADF.  I might be a “club member” but a “believer,” no.   But the fact remains, I believe in the ADF ideology, and so here is where I will remain in spiritual fellowship.

Meditation has become such an important part of my personal religion that I have spent some time questioning if I should be on a Druidic path or if I should study paths that are built upon a foundation of meditation rather than ritual, but in researching the beliefs of those religions I found that Druidry still rings truer in to my beliefs, if not in practical rite-practice.  I embrace the realms of Land, Sea and Sky.  When I start my meditations with the Two Powers, I see and feel the power of the vertical Two Powers uniting those three realms, and I seeing a flash and feel the burst of power shooting across a horizontal axis as I’ve described in my meditation journal.  It is more than a belief for me but is a fact.  My relationship with Danu, Bel, Dagda, and my new relationship with Brigit are strong and real to my core belief system.  I know without any doubts that my ancestral Kindred surround me they have been speaking to me the whole of my life before anyone could tell me as a child that “there’s no such thing as ghosts.”   I have also seen and felt and heard the Kindred of Nature since before I was of an age for anyone to try and sway my innocent childhood beliefs against them either.  My daughter’s little friend Pixel has moved with me from house to house for a quarter of a century.  My draconic-kindred are old, old friends.  And the Sun!  I definitely feel the power in the solar energy through its course through the year much, much stronger than the lunar energy and I’ve always been that way, always, since childhood.  But back to the matter of formal ritual…it’s just the nature of formal ritual that doesn’t fit strongly into my personal belief system as being a moving religious event.  Trance, however, now that is another story.  Trance meditation is THE ritual for me that brings me deep into spiritual experiences and celebrations.  Spirit walking is something that has naturally occurred with me but I had no power to control when it would happen or how to initiate it.  It would just happen whenever my Kindred held enough energy to get through to me or whenever I hit things just right and got that veil open.  The practice of meditation and the Two Powers has become the essential key that has opened that door to my ability to consistently spirit walk and reach my Kindred personally.

But how to I meld my belief system of Druidry with a practice not based in ritual but based in meditation practices?  My shrine/altar formerly displayed a plethora of paraphernalia and symbolism.  I’d collected so much during my Wiccan years.  Oddly enough, I once wore my burgeoning jewelry collection of assorted neo-pagan symbolism all over my person the way I burgeoned my altar with all the ritual paraphernalia and regalia too.  But during my yearlong study of the Dedicant Path my shrine started whittling down and now mirrors that peeling away of my outer dressings and reflects the inner simplicity I have found that resonates more strongly with me.  My once-shrine table is now a meditation table with only the barest of symbolic ADF touches as required to qualify as ADF style, and I’m far happier with it this way.  I find the lack of clutter more peaceful.   Again, this is something new to me since joining ADF.  Furthermore, I find that I carry that peace from that table with me as though through its simplicity, when I step away from it, there is an ethereal echo of it that I feel carried away with me as though that simplistic shrine becomes portable and travels with me.  Because of this there is little separation now between mundane and spiritual.  It is easier to walk with a foot in both mindsets.  Now of course, my personal religion aside, I expect that with community and/or grove functions I may attend in the future where the fully enacted ADF COoR is enacted, I will of course follow along and honor what Gods/esses they invoke.  But for my personal religion I’d rather reserve the fully high-ritual style version of the COoR for the High Days that are particularly important to me,  and will continue  celebrating the remaining High Days with a rite I’ve found works well as a compromise of the COoR and of my meditative-trances.  It is still the 18 steps, but abbreviated to a minimalist solitary version, and while the steps are minimal, the longer amount of time is spent in the working part, the spirit-walk.  Instead of COoR, I think of it as COoM, or my Core Order of Meditation.  I will celebrate my personal relationship with my Kindreds through this meditative practice of communication rather than the dance of high ceremonial ritual and devotion communication.

For me, there is very much a difference between ritual-rites and meditative-rites.  Rather than opening a gate and inviting them through to our side, it is a process of drawing Two Powers, of thinning the membrane between me and my kindred and me walking my spirit through to their side.    My personal Druidic religion is not so much as a neo-pagan priestess I suppose, but is rather that combination of neo-Celtic Shaman in practice, and my journey is more inward into that veil with a spirit-walk instead of the outer physical rites.   Spirits have surrounded me the whole of my life.  The membrane that separates our realms is very, very thin for me.  I don’t know why that is, I only know that it is, and has been the whole of my life.  And I accept that now.

Now, here’s one last bit of irony…never had an allergy in my life, until ten years ago (when I hit the 40’s).  Besides the latex allergy acquired from my profession, while everyone else is sneezing and wheezing at grasses and cats, I’m sneezing and wheezing instead when nature brings the blooming of…trees.  I’m a druid that’s allergic to walnut and cottonwood trees.  Go ahead…laugh.  My Kindred are laughing with you.

As for this DP course, I daresay that I would not have been able to have built my own personal practice with any lasting effects were it not for this course.  It’s helped me stay focused and kept me building upon the Celtic foundation in the Tuatha de Danann I’d already laid in my younger years, and though ADF Druidry is Celtic and Indo-Europeon, this ADF Dedicant study, oddly enough, has brought forward my Native American heritage with the Noble Kindred of our country and my relationship with my Grandmother’s Matron, Grandmother Spider.

What you may find odd in my reports on my rites is that though I follow a Celtic pantheon, I do not throw in Celtic elements and attributes, there are no offerings or symbolisms or tools of specific woods or using specific herbs with Celtic attributes that is reported by sources to be dear to my specific deities.  There is a reason for this.   My mission I was sent into this lifetime to complete has been of severing many past life ties, and my Kindred have not wanted me to focus keeping ethereal umbilicals to the past, how do I explain this?  It’s all been about acknowledging something or someone, examine it, then letting it go.  It’s about cleaning out the karmic and spiritual closet so I will start cleaner with less spiritual baggage in the next round of lifetimes.  I am moving on, spiritually, from certain people and elements that have been repeated in lifetimes and have held bad elements coming back in a loop. I need to break that loop, and the influence on this spiritual cycling.  My Kindred want me to look ahead, not behind.  That does not mean leaving my Kindred behind, but rather they will be moving forward with me, together.  It does not matter to Them if I use time-honored traditions, a willow wand for this, a copper chalice for that, a red candle or a green one.  In fact I’m using mostly pure clear glass and pure white candles on my shrine.  I will be moving forward with a much narrower core-group into the next incarnations.  They tell me that while it is a good thing for others, indeed, it is important to many folks  to look to the attributes and elements, and to reconstructing ways of the past, it’s not such a good thing for me in particular, clinging to romantic trappings of past ways of doing things.  It is the spirit of the religion I must embrace, not the echoes of it. That is what my Kindred want me to focus on.

I have fine tuned my foundation into a stronger spiritual house as I now build some Taoist principles to my Hearth.  Yes, Taoism is not of the IE sector (but then neither is Grandmother Spider), but  I do believe that there are elements in ancient Druidry that came from the East (ala Stuart Piggot’s theories in “The Druids”) and can be applied to a Western Celtic practice.  I would expect that it sounds a bit screwy to some.  How does one meld a druid belief system with a Celtic pantheon, Taoist principles and instead of highly ceremonial neo-pagan rituals would rather spirit walk through the smoke of North American sage to cross the veil and join the Kindred there on their own hunting ground?   Well it does work for me, and this is, after all, my Druidry.

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~ by Spider Lily on August 29, 2010.

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