July 21, 2013

DP Requirements: Personal Religion

My personal religion has always been centred around observation. Even when I was Christian, I had a sort of “language” going with God that I would take certain things to mean certain things, and this has simply morphed to fit into my new Pagan hat. I am keenly aware of signs, and this has taken me far in my faith, whatever you would tend to call said faith at any given time.

I first came by Druidry after happening across a deck of Philip Carr-Gomm's Oracle Cards at the bookstore. I was very into Doreen Virtue's Angel Cards at the time, which, let's face it, is basically Tarot-lite for the Christian-minded. I was amazed that Druidry was a “thing”, and immediately knew I wanted to know more about it.

Fast forward a few years, and I was finding myself restless with OBOD, and had ADF in the back of my mind. I wanted to try to meet some actual Pagan folk in the area, which brought me to what would become Northern Rivers Protogrove. The organizer was an ADF member, and gave me the experiential knowledge I needed to join myself. Somehow, I had found a group, and the Kindreds smacked me upside the head with the proof I needed that ADF was a good choice for me.

Since then, I've been trying to keep up with my guidepost method. Our Protogrove is almost entirely Celtic, so I learn a lot from our rituals. We have a ritual each High Day, and usually some sort of meeting or get-together in between. I've attended most of them, and they've been great opportunities to grow in my faith as well as my fellowship with other pagan-minded people. So far, I've had the chance to write the liturgy for and lead one ritual, which was for Summer Solstice. We focussed on Manannan Mac Lir, and it was both difficult and enlightening for me to be put in the situation of forming a relationship with a deity on a tighter schedule.

One of the most important reasons I joined ADF is for the inclusion of the Vedic hearth culture. I keep bouncing between these two cultures as which seems to be more prevalent at any given time, but I've formed relationships with Brighid to some degree, and the Morrigan in a bigger way. The Vedic Pantheon I am still trying to figure out. As a yoga instructor, I've had much exposure to the Hindu gods, and I haven't neglected my old relationships despite the distinction between Vedism and Hinduism. I've been working with the concept of Prthivi as the Earth Mother, and am moving more towards calling her in my personal work. I've worked a lot with Agni as well, and call to him each time I light a candle. Mostly, my work towards knowing the deities of the Vedic pantheon consists of reading about them, to see which direction I feel pulled.

The Morrigan is the goddess I feel most called to work with. I started doing some daily devotionals to her, as I felt called to explore some of my own inner “warrior goddess”. I offer her alcohol of some sort if I happen to have it, and if not, my appreciation and affection. Back to the theme of guideposts: I have often since seen ravens in groups of three when I most need reassurance. Strangely enough, during one particularly stressful hospital appointment, the nurse started talking about how much she liked ravens, and how she thought they were the smartest and most handsome of the birds, and how she had no idea why she just told me that. I take signs like this as good evidence that I'm working in the right direction.

Probably the simplest and most important part of my spiritual practice, aside from my work with the deities, is communing with nature. At the very least, it is easily accessible to me in the form of my dogs (we just love howling), and in my backyard when the weather is favourable. I've had the opportunity this year to build a shrine for each of the three Kindreds in my rock garden, as well as a sidhe garden, in which I've let everything grow as wild as it likes. My little sidhe garden has tons of little flowers blossoming in it, and I've noticed an upturn in growth in general in that part of my lawn. Purple Sweet Peas and Queen Anne's Lace and beautiful green vines that had never grown there before, are now plentiful. I take time as often as I can to say “hi” to them, and to thank them for their healing presence.

My relationship with the Ancestors ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I feel very called to venerate those that came before, and other times, it feels less like celebration and more like attending their funeral in my thoughts once again, and intensely painful. I suppose my Christian upbringing doesn't help that concept much, but I'm trying to align my heart with my head as far as things like the Otherworld are concerned, and even reincarnation. My altar is covered in pictures of the Ancestors of my heart and of my blood.

Going forward, I would like to move towards a more solid foundation in what I actually personally believe to be true. I have a hard time forming relationships with the Shining Ones especially, because I'm not one hundred percent sure whether I'm in the hard or soft polytheist camp. Pantheist, or Panentheist, though I think I lean towards the latter. It would be useful to be able to feel driven one way or the other, but these things have to come about in their own time, so I can be patient. I'm sure whenever they deem it necessary, I'll be given another not-so-subtle sign, as usual.

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