Week Two of A Dedicant’s Path

This week’s lesson focused on the optional “First Oath” of the Dedicant’s Path.  The purpose of this oath is not to obligate one to any specific deity or hearth culture, but to obligate one to a life of spirituality, study, and to establish a link to the Gods, Earth, spirits, and ancestors.  After much thought and consulting with a long time Druid on one of our email lists, I decided not to do it.  The Dedicant’s Path through the Wheel of the Year suggests it should be done in the context of a ritual, and although a sample one is provided, I do not feel comfortable in performing an ADF ritual yet.  I simply do not know enough to properly put one together.  Secondly, I still have no idea which deities or hearth culture I am comfortable in dealing with.  Although an example is given of conducting a ritual and making an oath to the Gods/Goddesses in general, I do not feel comfortable with doing that.  I believe that many deities do exist that people made religions around and I just do not feel comfortable obligating myself in the presence of them all.  In my opinion Thoth is just as real as Zeus, Thor, and the host of deities worshiped throughout time.  In a ADF ritual a doorway of sorts is opened to the otherworld and there is a gatekeeper who is trusted to be in charge of this.  I simply am not comfortable to assigning this task to a generic someone whom I know nothing about.  As one who was a follower of Yahweh until recently, I certainly do not want him coming through that gateway because he is admittedly jealous in the extreme, and is accredited with doing terrible things out of vengeance; however, I do intend to take the First Oath when I at least have some leanings to a particular pantheon and know enough about its deities to pick one to call to my presence and make an offering to.

 

To the ends of beginning to at least start learning about the history and Gods/Goddesses of pagan Europe, I ordered the book  A History of Pagan Europe by Prudence Jones.  This is one of the few books that give at least some attention to all the major cults of pre-Christian Europe.  It is on the book list that I have to pick three books from to write essays on.  Moreover, it looks like a great place to start.  This way I can get a feel for all that is out there.  The reviews on GoodReads.com say it gives a wealth of information not found anywhere else, but that it is somewhat difficult to follow as the author wanders off the topic of each chapter pretty regularly.  I found an excellent deal on this through a used bookseller on Amazon.  I paid less than a dollar and a half for the book which is described as being in very good condition; while new copies sell for right under forty dollars. I try to buy used books whenever possible both to save money and trees.   While I was at it I bought the hardcopy of the Dedicant’s Manual even though it is free on the ADF’s website, because I hate reading on the computer.  I also purchased a copy of former Archdruid, Rev. Skip Ellison’s The Solitary Druid.  I also found an excellent deal on that used also.  Rev. Ellison’s book is not on the list I can chose from to write the three essays on, but it is a recommended book to read. 

Next week’s lesson will constitute study of the celebration of my first high day–Mabon, the autumn equinox, which will occur on September 22.    Since I do have some time to prepare I think I may do something more than what I had originally planned.   Perhaps I will be ready for a formal ritual;  I do not know at this point.  I will have to study the recommended readings, which thankfully there is still enough time to do and make plans.     

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Week One of A Dedicant’s Path

During the course of this week’s studies I reviewed the requirements for documentation of assignments for the Dedicant Path Training Program, read an article on the ADF member website on the importance of journaling, and looked at the book list of available titles from which I have to pick three to write book reports on.  This week’s highlight though was reading “Uncertainty and the Dedicants’ Journey” by Arthur Shipkowski.  All I can say is Wow! Mr. Shipkowski must have read my mind.  As I set out on this journey as a total novice Pagan, I, like the people the author addresses in this article, am so unsure of myself in many ways.  I have no historical ethnic group I can say I identify with or am drawn to their culture; I have no religious hearth pantheon I am acquainted with, let alone drawn to, and I am apprehensive that I may never find one.  Mr. Shipkowski reassures us that many of us starting out on the Dedicant’s Path share that experience and it is nothing to worry about.  After all, we all had to start somewhere, unless of course we were one of the very few people born into a family practicing Paganism and was taught it as a child.   One simply has to begin exploring, and to that end I chose my first book to read from the reading list choices that I think will help me at least get my feet wet with the individual cultures’ beliefs of the followers of the old gods:  A History of Pagan Europe: by Prudence Jones.  This gives an overview of the history, cultures, and beliefs of the Pagan peoples of Europe.  Look for a book report in a few weeks. 

 Homework this week from the dpWotY was to answer the following questions:

 • Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?

This is a simple one for me.  I know nothing about Paganism and the Dedicant’s Path gives a structured way to learn about it.  I don’t focus well without structure when it comes to learning.

• Is this a step on your path, or will this become the Path itself?

Paradoxically, both are correct.  While this is just one step which I have taken, all paths connect to each other in some form or another which makes them one big path.  The only question is, where  will I end up when finished?  Of course you only stop walking the path of your life when you pass on to the other world.    

• What do you expect to learn?

I expect to learn a lot about pre-Christian religions of Europe, find the one I identify with the most, find my patron, and how to properly honor him/her in modern times. 

• What would you like to get out of this journey?

A workable religious system and world view that will truly be my own.

• Do you know where this path will take you?

I don’t have a clue, but finding out will be fun. 

• If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?

If I didn’t want to learn about my new religion I would not have joined.  Holy day celebrations are fun, but if you don’t know who, what, and why you’re celebrating there is no point.

• Does it look hard or easy?

Finding time to do it will be hard, but I love to learn so I will at least be motivated to keep going when I am challenged.

• Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?

Journaling on meditation experiences for eight months seems like it will be difficult.  I have experiences while meditating that are difficult to put into words.  Reading three books and doing reports on them seems easy enough; what will be difficult is keeping it to just three.

• Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?

I don’t have any doubts or anything that I need to ask about at this time.  I think most of my questions will be answered from within when I get to know the deities, spirits, and ancestors and actually begin practicing my religion. 

Starting Out on the Dedicant Path with the WotY

I received official word that my membership in A Druid Fellowship (ADF) had been approved on August 24, 2016. I have spent several days thoroughly scouring the members’ portion of the website. I always intended since I decided to join to undergo training in the path of ADF since I know little about Indo-European paganism. As a matter of fact I know so little that I have no idea which culture’s gods, goddesses, and spirits I wish to develop a relationship with. I have a challenge laid out ahead of me in terms of both research and practice.

I have taken to heart the motto of A Druid Fellowship: “Why not excellence?” and have decided to take on the more demanding and in depth study plan by Rev. Micheal J. Dangler’s “The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year”, more commonly called The WotY. I feel it right and proper to accept the more in depth plan rather than the simpler requirements laid out in ADF’s basic Dedicant Manual for a number of reasons:

1. If I truly desire excellence in practicing my new religion I should submit myself to the most rigorous training possible.

2. I owe it to myself to learn as much as possible about the different gods and goddesses of each European ethnic group so I can make as much of an informed decision as possible as to which deities to worship and see which hearth culture truly calls to me.

3. My eventual goal at this point is to obtain clergy status and this more in-depth training will serve me well in further studies. I have known since I was a small boy I was called to be a clergymen. The exact religion I was comfortable in I never could find.

The WatY begins with a three lesson run up, and each lesson is designed to be done in a week, to the first holy day to be celebrated. The first one that I will encounter at this point will be Mabon, September 22, 2016. This is almost four weeks away as I write this. The WotY makes clear that to match up the schedules one can simply take a little more or less time with each lesson to sync up the schedule.

In accordance with the rules of ADF each member must celebrate the holidays, but it is up to each member how to do so, and how elaborate or simple that observance is. I do know one thing I am going to do; I have a very old oak tree in my back garden and I am going to honor it with a good watering, unless of course nature beats me to it. I am also going to fertilize it, something which has never been done in the twenty-two years we have lived here. That tree has supplied shade to the house and a bountiful supply of acorns to the squirrels I so love to watch all this time without me even giving it a thought. I think it is time to thank it. That will be at least one thing I do for Mabon.