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.