‘Clergy Program’ Posts

 

Trance 1: #5

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Describe three ways trance can be used in personal spiritual practice. (min. 100 words each)

One basic way to use Trance in personal spiritual practice is through meditation.  This requires an internal focus to quiet your thoughts and mind, and focus on being still and silent in a reflective moment.  Meditation is something I have been working on throughout this course, and it definitely improves through repetitious use, though I suspect for me it’s taking longer than most because my mind simply doesn’t like to lay still.  However, I am determined to keep focus on meditation to help reduce stress and keep my mind sharp, eased, and focused.  This will, in turn, benefit my mundane life and career and allow me to handle situations (particularly those of stress) with more ease.

(Word Count: 116)

Another method of trance work is one that my Grove does on a regular basis before each high rite, but I am not as fond of.  This is the use of trance journeying.  In this particular case (the Grove), they journey to meet the deities before each high rite to familiarize themselves with them and open up communication about the upcoming rite.  We also do journeys to the mound as Clergy, which I maintain when I can, but is my only particular form of journey-work that I do on any regular basis.  However, the more I read about other peoples successful journey’s, the more it does make me want to give it another shot to see if I can improve on this particular skill-set.

(Word Count: 124)

Lastly, possession is another form of trance that people will incorporate into their personal spiritual practice, though it is not one I incorporate into mine.  I know several local heathens, Laurel Mendes and Cat Heath specifically, that use Seiðr as a form of  “possessive trance” in ritual to help answer questions from the divine during local heathen festivals.  Donald and I were able to participate in one of these, though it was late at night and it was freezing, so my ability to absorb myself into the ritual was beyond what I could control and adapt.  We were able to watch as the chief liturgist performed this particular trance state and connect to the divine for us to all connect in our own way to have answers given.  Note to all future Seiðr people, please do these where we can all be comfy and receptive 🙂

(Word Count: 128)

 

Trance 1: #3

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Describe the ethical issues surrounding neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis. (min. 150 words)

C. Roy Hunter gives a very good encompassing and appropriate simple defining rule to ethics in hypnosis:

Do for the client what you would want done if the roles were reversed.

This pretty much wedges perfectly in the type of ethics in ADF spirituality and priesthood which we are trying to accomplish.  The National Guild of Hypnotists created an outline of ethics to follow to help keep the industry and trade safe and maintain the integrity of the practice.  One of the biggest potential threats that someone may experience while under a trance-like state is sexual misconduct if approached by an unethical hypnotist (Hunter, 145). Though, really, any method of taking advantage of a patient while they are under a trance-induced state is unethical.  Beyond sexual misconduct, this could mean financial/fraud manipulation and emotional manipulation.

The ethical standards are also important for the safety of the practitioner.  You could get sued for any of the above and risk your entire career if found guilty of client misconduct.  So  all it’s very important (in really all forms of business and counseling) to conduct yourself with the highest moral integrity, especially acting as a representative to the Gods.

(Word Count: 194)

 

Trance 1: #2

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Give a brief history of hypnosis. (min. 300 words)

The technique of hypnosis has been around for thousands of years, the earliest records dating back to ancient Egypt and China.  Ancient Greece has remnants of a temple of Asklepios dedicated to a healing God as a sleep healing temple.   The purpose of this temple was to force the patients to prepare relax silently on a stone lounge in order to meet Asklepios.  He would come to them and then declare their symptoms changed, depending on what they were.  This declaration was a form of hypnosis to change the mindset of the patient for an alternative outcome.

Over time, however, the most prevalent influence on the “discovery” and development of hypnosis was Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer from the 1800’s.  During this time, he put a lot of research and investigation into what he called “animal magnetism”, where he used magnets to manipulate energy with power of suggestion to heal people. He’d use various methods such as touch trance-inducing, or waving magnetic wands over his patients during his experiments. While his name for this was inaccurate and weird, and what he did was considered very controversial to its time, he did a lot of experimentation that resulted in good foundation work for trance.

The word “hypnosis” has varied hypothesis on where the term was coined exactly.  Some say that Mesmer’s work was picked up by a Scottish surgeon named James Braid who was the original creator of the term “hypnosis”, from the Greek God Hypnos who was a God of sleep.  He issued this name under the assumption that people who were in a Trance state were asleep, which was inaccurate but the name stuck.  The other hypothesis was that “hypnosis” was coined by a french physician named de Cuvillers.

Modern hypnosis is attributed to Clark Hull, who wrote the book “Hypnosis and Suggestibility“, which was subsequently used to help train doctors on using hypnosis to aid in surgical procedures during World War II when morphine was not available, and rather successfully.  It was because of this success that the “Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis” which became an international organization of various types of physicians and doctors dedicated to the practice of hypnosis and what it provides for modern medicine (Gurgevich).

(Word Count: 371)

 

Trance 1: #1

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Define the following terms in your own words: “Trance,” “meditation,” and “hypnosis.” (min. 25 words per definition, dictionary definition does not count toward final word count.)

Trance

Dictionary Definition from Merriam:
noun, a sleeplike state (as of deep hypnosis) usually characterized by partly suspended animation with diminished or absent sensory and motor activity

Trance (to me) is the state of mind where external influences are reduced and internal influences are brought to the forefront to achieve a state of alternate “being” or “consciousness” that allows your mind to develop and access alternative methods of thinking and functioning that might otherwise be inaccessible.

(Word Count: 49)

Meditation

Dictionary Definition from Merriam
noun, act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating

Meditation (to me) is a trance process of stilling your own mind, removing all thoughts, and allowing a natural state of alert consciousness to occur through a natural clean slate of thought.

(Word Count: 32)

Hypnosis

Dictionary Definition from Merriam
noun, a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject

Hypnosis (to me) is a trance process of someone else inducing the stillness of your mind and thought process that allows them to manipulate the direction of your mind from a clean slate of thought.

(Word Count: 35)

 

 

Indo-European Studies 1: #5

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 From its beginnings, ADF has defined itself in relation to Indo-European pagan traditions. What relevance do you think historical and reconstructed IE traditions from the past have in constructing or reconstructing a Pagan spirituality for the present and future? (minimum 600 words)

What ADF is trying to create is a much needed thing in the modern neo-pagan community.  The re-creation of a scholarly polytheistic faith based on Indo-European traditions and research, and is organized in a way that can cater to modern neo-pagans faith and community.  The biggest selling point for me was the fact that it’s not a organization for Druids, because Heathens, Hellenes, and other such IE faiths can all worship under the same common  umbrella.  This is a very well-researched organization that puts great emphasis on legit scholarly research to discuss points on religion, the Gods, societies, and mythologies to help us all better understand where we came from and where we are going.  There is wiggle room for UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis), but not to the detriment of legit research.  It’s the best of both worlds, really.

Personally, I am not a reconstructionist, but I love the idea of doing things closely to how my Ancestors did.  It’s another way for us to connect with the Ancestors, and Ancestors are an important part of our worship.  Why anyone would want to ignore most of what was historically done by their own ancestors, while still incorporating modern ideals and new traditions is a foreign concept to me.  My research of my Germanic lineage led me to my Anglo-Saxon kindred, and I have found more spiritual significance, familiarity, and fulfillment there than I ever did in Irish Grove. Obviously there are certain aspects of ancient worship that are not appropriate for modern worship, such as animal sacrifice in public worship (private Blots are another story), be-headings like in Celtic lore, and other more violent actions no longer legal or accepted in our modern society.  As a whole though, there are some wonderful traditions, mythologies, and religious practices that are wonderful for us to bring into our personal worship from IE cultures of all kinds.

To that point, it has always made me wonder why we put such emphasis on the term “Druid” in ADF.  Yes, I understand it is part of the organization name, but names can change.  Or at the very least the tagline and description could make it more clear that this organization involves more than just Celtic Druids.  I think it would behoove us to open up our public relations to understand this point so that we could benefit from the growth in membership outside of those of Celtic influence.  The IE focus replacing the idea of a Druid focus would be a great move for ADF in terms of member retention and growth.  When people hear about ADF, they think of Irish Celtic Druids only.  I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it, and each time I have to explain because that’s the impression we give them.  Isn’t this what the entire concept of Indo-European Studies is about?  Showing the similarities and cross-contamination of the various IE cultures and how they’ve influenced each other over centuries.

Aside from those differences on wording within ADF, I think using a foundation of accurate historical traditions to build up a comparative modern pagan tradition is the purpose and glory of ADF and what ADF can accomplish in the future.  We can have Priests of varying traditions, Groves who worship a variety of pantheons, provide study programs through our Kins that enhance the IE cultural influence in our practice and provide a home for all IE pagans regardless of their pantheon so long as it is Indo-European.  I look forward to seeing books and rituals published to the public that show what ADF is capable of when catering to all of the IE traditions and not just seen as an organization of druids.

(Word Count: 611)

 

Indo-European Studies 1: Citations

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Dume?zil, Georges. Gods of the Ancient Northmen. Berkeley: U of California, 1973. Print.

Littleton, C. Scott. The New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dume?zil. Berkeley: U of California, 1982. Print.

Fortson, Benjamin W. Indo-european Language and Culture: An Introduction. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Print.

Mallory, J. P. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989. Print.

Kaliff, Anders. Fire, Water, Heaven and Earth: Ritual Practice and Cosmology in Ancient Scandinavia: An Indo-European Perspective. Stockholm, Sweden: Riksantikvariea?mbetet, 2007. Print.

“Anglo-Saxons.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.

“Kingdom of England.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Sept. 2014. Web. 27 Sept. 2014.

“Ancient Greek Democracy.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2014. <http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/ancient-greece-democracy>.

“Cleisthenes and the 10 Tribes of Athens.” About. About.com, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2014. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/riseofdemocracy/a/aa121900a.htm>.

“The Social Order and Government of Early Athens.” About. About.com, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2014. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/riseofdemocracy/p/aa041399Athens.htm>.

 

Indo European Studies 1: #4

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Choose one other Indo-European culture and compare and contrast it to the culture discussed in question 3 above with respect to each culture’s Indo-European nature. (minimum 300 words)

Fortson uses a lot of Greek examples to compare IE culture requirements, so in comparison with the northern traditions, we can find a lot of similar IE classifications.  One example is within the idea of exchange and reciprocity.  “A gift for a gift”, the exchange was not actually the act of giving or the act of taking, but the process of an exchange.  The Greek nemetai or ‘allots’ in comparison to the German nehmen or ‘take’.  From a religious standpoint, the Greek culture places Zeus, a sky god, as the “chieftain” or head of the IE pantheon.  In the Norse, we have Tyr, another sky god who was the former chieftain of the Norse pantheon (Fortson, 25).   At the same time, there are some simple yet important differences in how deities are represented if you compare the Sun god in Greek culture (Helios) with the Sun Goddess in Norse culture (Sunna), then you have a male versus female comparison.  Further religious comparison shows similarities between Norse and Greek culture in terms of the afterlife, or at least the method of getting to our afterlife destinations.  Here, a body of water is crossed to reach an afterlife that is gated by some form of guardian, though in Greek there is some form of payment is due to reach that destination, so even then we have some slight differences.

Aside from moral or divine appropriations, we can look at social units and how Germanic “tribes” existed as smaller groups of their inner culture.  Greeks had an early social system that consisted of Households, Clans, Villages, and Tribes.  Cleisthenes eventually developed an Athenian Democracy through the creation of the 10 Athenian tribes that were named after 10 heroes of Athens.  This was one of the initial glimpses into the development of what we now know as modern Democracy.  There was emphasis on familial obligation and namesake here that also expanded out into community tribal relations, like the Germanic cultures(Cleisthenes and the 10 Tribes of Athens).

(Word Count: 326)

 

Indo-European Studies 1: #3

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Choose one Indo-European culture and describe briefly the influences that have shaped it and distinguish it from other Indo-European derived cultures. Examples include migration, contact with other cultures, changes in religion, language, and political factors. Is there any sense in which this culture can be said to have stopped being an Indo-European culture? (minimum 300 words)

Scandinavian culture has had several examples of influence from external forces in its cultural and religious development. Kaliff discusses this somewhat while referring to material from Fabech that controversially points out breaks in religious tradition such as votive customs and ritual sites (Kaliff, 59).  These particular results are widely debated and not generally recognized with specific examples, however.  You can continue the concept of Northern culture being influenced with outside forces by looking at the Germanic tribes which migrated to the southern part of Great Britain in the 5th century, creating the Anglo-Saxons.  Granted the cultural appropriation they experienced during this time was due to their own actions and not necessarily outside forces coming in, but them opening themselves up to it.

The Anglo-Saxons created and spoke their own Angl0-Saxon language, and acted as a perfect example of a divergent group of individuals that came together to create their own culture (Anglo-Saxons, Wikipedia).  After the establishment of this new Anglo-Saxon culture, the unification of the first kingdoms started to develop, which eventually developed into what we now know as modern day England (Kingdom of England, Wikipedia).  So already here we have examples of language creation and societal caste creation (or development) with a migration of Germanic tribes to lead into the Angl0-Saxon culture.  Of course a lot of this , at least as far as the development of the first kingdoms goes, happened after the adoption of Christianity.

So after the adoption of Christianity, which is when, if you follow one of Dumezil’s requirements of a polytheistic religion requirement for IE culture, would then determine that the Anglo-Saxon culture then lost it’s classification as an Indo-European culture.  By this point it, being the culture, has migrated significantly past its original cultural, societal, and religious origins and merged significantly with the existing peoples of that land.

(Word Count: 300)

 

Indo-European Studies 1: #2

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George Dumezil’s theory of tripartition has been central to many modern approaches to Indo-European studies. Outline Dumezil’s three social functions in general, and as they appear in one particular Indo-European society. Offer your opinion as to whether you believe Dumezil’s claim that tripartition is central to IE cultures. (minimum 300 words)

Littleton outlines Dumezil’s tripartition of social castes as three fundamental classificatory principles: sovereignty (priestly caste), force (warrior caste), and nourishment (provider caste) (Littleton, 5).  These functions are not meant to be the social or behavioral strata, but the principles by which they are defined, also according to Littleton.  The order of these principles, starting with sovereignty and ending with nourishment is the actual hierarchy of these classes and the privileges and obligations that each held.  The first class, to me, would obviously have more privilege, but also more obligation, and each class afterwards having less and less.

To compare these classification in the Norse culture, Dumezil gives a complicated timeline of social classification examples with Heimdall as told in the Rigspula.  During his incognito travels as “Rig” and the various visits to homes of varying social structures, there is a clear distinction in the names of the children begat from these encounters and how they affiliate with the social position of those houses.  The poorest house names their son Thrall) (slave, the next names their son Karl (freeholder), and the third names their son Jarl (noble or earl) (Dumezil, 119).  The son from the highest classed family is not abandoned like the previous children, thus showing example of the privilege given to the highest social caste and those born into it.

The God structures in Northern Mythology had similar “castes” if you look at Odin as a Chieftan, Thor as a Warrior, and Freyr as a Producer deity.

While Dumezil’s theory has some merit and core examples in IE culture, it is by no means exhaustive.  Looking at the God structure as a very simple example, there is no fit in the three castes for Loki.  In societal function there is no role in this theory for thieves and merchants in particular that lend me to believe that there either needs to be broader classification or a reorganization if you are going to try to set society culture standards into specific groups.

(Word Count: 332)

 

Indo-European Studies 1: #1

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Describe several of the factors that define a culture as Indo-European and how those defining factors are useful in understanding that culture. (minimum 300 words)

The major factor that links Indo-European cultures together is closely related linguistics, the origins of which are traced back to a common language ancestor spoken in Eurasia around 6,000 years ago (Mallory, 7).  A sample linguistic comparison of cultures that have similar words for the same meaning, which shows trace roots back to some commonality would be use of numbers.

The number one:

Irish – aon

Welsh – un

Greek – hen

Latin – unus

Italian – uno

Spanish – uno

French – un

German – einz

Dutch – een

Swedish – en

This is a simplified example of similar sound for a word that has trickled across IE cultures from some source.

Beyond linguistics, however, there are other characteristics that flow across all IE cultures that contribute to their function as an IE culture.  Social organization is a popular one because all the scholars who have done deep research into IE culture agree that the society was hierarchical.  This means there were social class distinctions between groups of people such as slaves versus free persons, or Dumezil’s caste system of priests, warriors, and herder-cultivators.

In addition to linguistics and classes, Pan Indo-European societies were also built around small “units” organized into larger ones, however this is more largely debated.  An example of this is with clans and tribes that are more modernly seen in Celtic societies (Fortson, 21).  Furthering on the functions that are shared across IE cultures, is the idea of guest-host obligation that Fortson mentions in Indo-European Language and Culture.  Hospitality was a moral obligation that could affect the honor of the household.  It’s discussed in the Odyssey during the story of the Cyclops who ate Odysseus’s men while they were guests, or expanding on the famous story of Helen of Troy and Paris stealing the wife of Menelaos while being his guest.

So societal rules and obligations being a large indication of an IE culture, we can also compare religious similarities.  Obviously all IE religions were polytheistic, but beyond that there were shared concepts across the cultures such as a Sun deity of sorts, or the sacred implications of a fire and water opposition.  The afterlife and the journey of the soul after death across water, and some sort of guardian during this journey is also very common in IE cultures (Fortson, 28).

In reality, there are a lot of comparative mythology similarities that help distinguish IE cultures and how they all related together or are kin to each other, and that fits perfectly in what ADF has put together in a core modern spiritual path.  In fact, I think it’s a perfect reason to market ourselves beyond a ‘druid’ organization and move closer to the IE concept that helps to cater to many cultures  and pantheons that modern pagans are drawn to.

(Word Count: 467)