‘Dedicants Program’ Posts

 

DP Approved

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Please join me in congratulating

~~~Crystal ###### ~~~
of CedarLight Grove, ADF

who has successfully completed the documentation requirements of the Ár nDraíocht Féin Dedicant Path.

As Preceptor of Ár nDraíocht Féin, I’d like to welcome Crystal among those folks who’ve taken the time to learn what ADF is all about and make it a major part of their lives’ spiritual paths.

N.B. PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND DIRECTLY TO THIS EMAIL, but send your congratulations to Crystal directly.

Best wishes,
Raven Mann
ADF Preceptor

I’m #92 of the current active members to complete the program. One of the first 100!

 

Original Hearth Culture Essay

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This essay was not approved for the DP, but I am keeping it here for my own reference.

As explained in my “about” page concerning this dedicant’s journal, I technically pull from many different hearth cultures. My patron, Athena, a Greek Goddess of war and wisdom. My Grove, CedarLight, mainly Celtic, with some dabblings in Norse. My other patron (I’m not worried about being politically correct here), I’ve been exploring Odin, also a God of War in the Nordic culture. And then there’s the lifestyle and purpose in which I choose to serve, which is strongly Native American. When it came time to write an essay about one ore two of these, it was a bit of a task choosing which one.

But the one with the most influence, is surely the Native American.

I feel the need to include a disclaimer on such a topic though. I am part Cherokee, and am even learning to speak Cherokee, but I was mostly raised a plain white farm girl. I have never lived on a reservation, I’ve never been taught by an Elder, and I don’t claim to be a teacher or expert on Native American Spirituality. I’m a student seeking knowledge in the most respectful way possible. I am fully aware that most Native Americans do not like the neo-pagan movement and it’s ability to cut and paste spiritual concepts from different cultures and make it their own. I’m aware that most people make a mockery of any type of religion or spiritual practice that is not of their own roots and culture. I’m also aware that if I’m going to learn a spiritual practice and live that way of life, I need to learn from the source.

I -have- been in semi-regular contact with a Lakota-Sioux elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Before that most of my study has been from books with a very cautious eye, as well as the teachings of my father. I do hope to eventually live near a reservation so that I can correctly understand the culture of the original America’s, as I would do for any culture I had interest in.

I chose this particular Hearth Culture because of my ancestry, because of my strong warrior roots, and because of my strong survival instincts, all which are (in my mind) intertwined with this way of life.

That being said, my choice of culture is probably one of the most difficult to integrate into ADF style liturgy and mindset. There are so many different tribes that worship many different ways. A lot of private experimentation and research is in order to even match the two styles of worship.

Almost all Native American tribes acknowledge some form of the Earth Mother and Sky Father. There is an embedded balance there, much like in neo-pagan worship. You could even compare some types of Native American Deity to Wicca, in the fact that they see the spirit as all encompassing of both male and female energies. In the Sioux tribe, their term for the great spirit is Wakan Tanka, yet they also hold reverence for the White Buffalo Calf Woman who came to their ancestors and gave them the 7 rituals of the Lakota people as well as the peace pipe.

This gave me a little room to work with, if I was to try and integrate Native American spirituality into ADF style liturgy.

But the reality of it is, I don’t see the need or have the desire to combine the two cultures. My spirituality is more of a way of life, how I live each day, rather than trying to cram it into another cultural style. I may go worship in a Celtic fashion 8 times a year, but everyday I live and breathe the way my ancestors have instilled it in my blood. I worship the Earth Mother and the Sky Father by teaching myself the skills and method in which my ancestors used, such as brain tanning, archery hunting, and not being wasteful in anything that I do.

That’s the purpose of all spiritual worship, to learn from the past and to live the best life that I can through a moral code.

(Word Count: 685)

 

Book Review: Comparative Mythology

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I picked Comparative Mythology as my final book review, at the recommendation of my friend Zalon Draconis. While in-depth and interesting, I found this book to be the most difficult read out of any of the books I chose. So much that there was very little in the first chapter that sunk in or I even understood. Which widely contradicts several reviews I’ve seen for the book, which attempt to insinuate that this is an easy and entertaining read.

For example, on page 133 he states “Myth presents her (Athena) born from Zeus’s aching head under the obstetric ministrations of Hephaisto’s sledgehammer”, which in laymens terms just means that Athena was born from Zeus’s head after an uber headache given to him when Hephaistos’ whacked him in the head with his legendary sledgehammer. I’m exaggerating a bit here, but all the same I think the writing style of Puhvel is certainly out of my league and understanding.

The book itself is littered with proper cultural phrases from that particular mythos, and while it’s important to be introduced to these phrases and words, I found them distracting from the actual content.

As far as actual content goes, I thought Puhvel’s understandable comparisons between mythos were enlightening. I had never realized before Comparative Mythology, the concept of Universal Mythology and how several different cultures, even Native American and Greek (as stated on page 3) had similarities and patterns in their stories, even though they were leagues apart. It inexplicably shows that there is a common core to a lot of the beliefs from many cultures, and on the same token, that our ancestors were very similar. Unlike modern times where everyone puts so many dividers and obstacles between them and other cultures.

I’m hesitant to recommend this book to other dedicant’s. It is a great resource, and invaluable to ADF students and scholars. But I’m of the mind that literature should be made accessible to all, not just people with a masters degree of the English language.

(Word Count: 330)

 

My Oath Rite

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I decided to do my Oath rite in song. Music is one thing that I’m fairly known for in my various communities, and it’s a huge part of who I am. When I was thinking of how I would even begin writing my Oath Rite, I kept comparing it to writing a song. I kept trying to decide whether it would be even more difficult than songwriting, or if they were equally difficult. Then it hit me, why not use my gift as an offering to my path.

Dedicant Oath, sung while playing guitar, pausing between each section to give offering

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Oh ancient Ancestors, those who walked the land before me,
those who influence my life
You gave me strength and gave me knowledge, you showed me the ways of old
you will never be forgotten

I offer you this gift of song, to show my devotion to the Old Ways

(pour Jack Daniels)

Oh sacred nature spirits, kindred that share the land around me,
around me and everywhere
Those who walk, fly, swim and crawl, my brothers of this land that I share with
May we always live in harmony

I offer you this gift of song, to show my devotion to the Old Ways

(offer piles of birdseed )

Oh bright and shining ones, the Gods of a thousand names remembered
remembered and a thousand forgotten
I offer you a life of service, for showing me the path which I’m to follow
To follow and honor in spirit

I offer you this gift of song, to show my devotion to the Old Ways

(burn mishma)

Self-Evaluation of the Oath

It should be noted that I’m not much of a liturgist, and prefer being the main musical accompaniment for rituals rather than writing them. It should also be noted that I almost feel the text written for song might be inadequate as far as size is concerned. When I look back at the sample in the dedicant’s manual, I wonder to myself whether what I’ve written suffices, but I’m hoping that the fact it was actually placed within a song helps make up for that.

Sacred SpaceMy oath rite was performed outdoors in my sacred space, which you can see a picture of on my journal. My physical offerings were of spiritual significance for me.

For the Ancestors, I offered whiskey. Jack Daniels was the drink of choice for my father as a youngling. It then became a drink of choice for me as a youngling as well. It seemed appropriate that such an offering was made (either whiskey or moonshine) to the Ancestors, as it holds spiritual significance within my family roots.

My father is an avid birder, it’s one of his simple pleasures. Birdseed seemed the obvious choice of offering for the Nature Spirits since our home is always home to local birdlife and wildlife in general.

And lastly, the Mishma, which is one of 117 sacred pipe mixtures used by pipe carriers in the Nipowaken Medicine Lodges. It is a form of KinnickKinnick, a blend of herbs for smoking that contain no tobacco. It is a natural relaxant and is thought to be a gift from Spirit by many native tribes, which is why it was my offering to the Gods, since it was part of my Hearth Culture.

The card pulled for the omen was that of the Peyote Ceremony. Peyote was used by some tribes to achieve a mental state in which to contact the spirit realm. For my rite, this symbolizes that my spiritual blockades are now removed. It states I am now able to grow spiritually and discover my inner-self. To me, this was a very good omen, and acknowledgment that I have completed this phase of my spiritual journey, and am now ready for the next.

To the Ancestors, I devoted to always remember them, and the lessons they taught. To the Nature Spirits, I vowed to always live in harmony with them and with the land. And to the Shining Ones, I offered my life in service, and to always walk the path of the Old Ways.

I felt this rite as a whole was very symbolic, more like a Rite of Passage signifying that I am now ready to further my path of the Old Ways.

(Word Count: 601, of the Rite and Evaluation only)

 

Book Review: The Druids

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I think by the time I had gotten to this book review, my second to last essay, I’ve finally started to realize the significance and importance of the dedicant’s program. I’ve learned more over the last several weeks, that it really lays to rest any doubts I might have had about my path.

My second book report was the 1994 edition “The Druids” by Peter Berresford Ellis. I had been told that this was a dry read, so I was somewhat apprehensive in reading it, as I’m not remotely a philosophical pagan.

My impressions after spending a good two weeks immersed in this book are somewhat conflicting. I found the book to be filled with sometimes dry referenced material, as well as names of Celtic places, terms, and even unknown (to me) past historical figures. Because of so much content relating to the above, it was almost impossible to read or interpret several passages throughout the book.

However, I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of historical story and detail within the book, of which I absorbed the most of. For example, Ellis seems very adamant about explaining with as much historical comparison as possible that there are indeed no historical facts that relate the Druids to human sacrifice (as noted on Page 17). He goes on to explain that much of what we know of Celtic history, or what the modern world knows in general, had been written by those that are “hostile to Celtic Culture” (as noted on page 14) such as the Romans and Greeks. I would assume that much of the negative history we have seen about the Druids was nothing more than a scare tactic used by the Roman and Greek governments to help denounce what they viewed as a threat. The Celts were not illiterate nor were they barbarians like their circus-craving nemesis. The Author Strabo even comments that “the Druids are considered the most just of men.” If anything, after reading this book, it would almost seem to me like the Druid society was more ideal than our own government.

I also learned that, even though I have no way to really legitimate Ellis’ facts, that he presents a very convincing look at many pieces of Celtic History. It made me realize that before reading this book, I knew very little about theorized OR factual Celtic History. He proposes information on Women in Celtic culture and how they were almost treated as equals, as opposed to other societies where men could not even look at women for fear of seeing the devil. He continues with the religion of the Druids, and the lack of a story of creation or the fact that the Celts looked upon their Gods as their ancestors or heroes, rather than their creators (as noted on Page 115-116).

The most interesting realization throughout many sections of “The Druids” is that the Druids were in fact very revered during the climax of their society. In one story about the King of Ulster, it is stated that even the King could not speak to the assembly before his Druid Cathbad (as noted on Page 75).

I’m sorry to read about how oppressed the Irish were for so many centuries, even up to the 19th century. Irish children could not be taught, Irish books could not be read. It’s no wonder that so much of their culture and history was passed on to each generation vocally, and eventually lost over time.

The Druids was a very informative book, and though dry at times due to much referenced material, I highly recommend it for anyone wanting an unbiased glimpse at Celtic history (though I can’t vouch for the validity of Ellis’ information).

(Word Count: 600 without page notations)

 

Relationship and Understanding of the Three Kindred

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I feel most satisfied in everything I do when all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. It’s the need for balance in me that makes my life more full-filling when everything is in balance. I think that’s why the sacred trine of all things is so special to me. The three realms, the three worlds, and the three kindred’s all fit together in a cosmological puzzle that just makes sense.

The Three Kindred inparticular often take precedence in daily piety and practice. Every day I am influenced by the Shining Ones, the Nature Spirits, and the Ancestors.

The Shining Ones, or Deities/Gods, take on a role of inspiration and the need to serve in my life. They show me the path in life that I am to take in service of the Gods. They are the Elders of a thousand names remembered and a thousand names forgotten.

My worship of the Shining Ones involves dedication to their service. It is rare that I ask for blessings in return, as I often opt to deal with situations as they arise, much like a challenge. They are thought of as separate beings, as well as pieces of my inner self that I need to learn to harness and acknowledge. Their spiritual aspect is often the aspect within myself that I look at during worship. What do I need to improve in order to create balance and harmony in my life?

For instance, Athena, great Goddess of war, wisdom, and she who gave the world mathematics and numbers I see as a being who encourages independence and self-sufficiency. She became the most prominent when my divorce was finalized and I realized I was finally standing on my own two feet. I was making smart decisions in my life and financially, I was making strategic plans and I was fighting to make my way my own. That is what she taught me, and that was the path she set me on.

I do make it a point to honor all of the Gods, as they all serve a purpose in my life, despite my dedication to Athena.

Sometimes I even find myself honoring the Gods as a single entity or Greater Spirit, even though I am honoring them all individually. This comes from a habit instilled in me from Native traditions, and though conflicting, I’ve found that it works out in my spiritual path.

(Word Count: 303)

The Nature spirits, or “Noble Ones”, are my guides throughout my path in life. When things seem chaotic and out of place, just being outside and absorbing myself in the “now” and observing the life around me brings me back into that ethereal state of calm and collectiveness of what is most important.

The Nature Spirits are beings that I share respect with on the land. I don’t really categorize them all as non-physical, but as non-physical and physical. Many times I’ve experienced the physical presence of the spirits of the land, such as when the Great Horned Owl came to me and my father which I spoke of in my essay on the virtue of Vision. Or when the baby red-tailed hawk fell from the tree, and my father and I nursed it back to health out of respect for the creature.

The owl was of particular importance to me, as my patron is the Greek Goddess Athena. It came to me during a time where I had recently made big choices in my life, and started on a brand new path; unsure of where I was going or how I would get there. And with the owl being the polar opposite of my totem, the red-tailed hawk, I now knew that my life was coming into balance.

Much Native American culture is based around honoring the spirits of the land, more so than most cultures. Even when hunting, there was a huge respect for the prey, and it was necessary to honor the animal spirit before killing it to sustain the tribe. Many of the animals found in the world had their own symbolism attached to them, should one enter your life. Therefore all animals were revered and honored.

The non-physical Nature Spirits are often categorized as the faeries and elves of the world. Not in a Tolkien sense, but in a spiritual sense. Those little unexplained beings that we honor and often acknowledge when our car keys go missing.

(Word Count: 331)

The Ancestors or “Mighty Ones” are my teachers, in that the path that I walk on also follows in their footsteps. Everything that I am was born from them; the world and life they created before me. I learn from their lessons and their strength, and they’ve come together to make me my own unique entity.

My father and I honor our ancestors in many ways. We have a wall of pictures in our kitchen of family members, dead and living. We frame pictures of our immediate family in our living room to serve as reminders and to honor them now that they are gone. My father even tries to remember to write old stories about growing up with his family, as I do keeping my online journal now. Hearing such stories makes me connect to my ancestors a little more each time.

Though the Ancestors are not often spoke about in Native American culture out of respect, they are honored and regarded highly; so much that you could not pass over the Grave of a fallen warrior, as it would be considered desecration.

I try to retrieve information from family members regarding our ancestry and genealogy. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to convince people to share this information. I can understand wanting to keep it sacred, but to gather it and then not share it seems like a dishonor to them more than anything.

I also carry an ancestors altar at the bottom of my trine altar explained in my home shrine essay. In this lies remnants of relatives, symbols, and memories to honor those who came before me. I hope to continue to collect such memories, and to honor my blood and my teachers in a way which they deserve.

Many times I go to the grave sites of my ancestors to honor them as well. Sometimes to have a picnic with them or to just feel their much-needed presence. And lately I’ve taken it upon myself to use my digital recorder to record my father when he speaks about the good old days, as I know these tales will become a treasure in their own right to my children.

(Word Count: 365)

(Total Word Count: 1097)

 

Two Powers Meditation

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This had to be one of the most difficult portions of the dedicant’s program, as it forces me to try and adapt to a guided meditation. As mentioned in my building mental discipline essay, I am incapable of performing silent meditations. It’s not for lack of trying, but unless I am actively doing something rhythmic other than breathing, I am lost to many different types of distractions.

I did try, and I got as far as feeling the roots of the earth within my feet and legs. Even the deep rhythmic breathing was calming to a point. But then I began to focus on nerve twinges or outside sounds. If I’m not totally entranced by some sort of drumming or music, I’m far too easily distracted.

The goal of the Two Powers meditation is to basically interlink my body and spirit to the aboveworld and the underworld. I can also see it as a way of linking up the sacred trine of sky, earth, and sea, or shining ones, nature spirits, and ancestors, which would then make it a Triple Powers meditation. It’s a connection or intersection of the earth and sky, like you would imagine a tree with its roots embedded in the sacred ground, with its limbs reaching far into the clouds. This allows all of the participants and the ritual itself to create a smooth path for the energy to flow.

As far as I can tell, the Grove does not really do this specific type of meditation. We do guided meditations yes, which I guess can be considered a two powers meditation. But more often than not, other parts of the ritual where I am able to drum are more focusing and relaxing for me that the former. Sometimes I get lucky and the meditation calls for a faint heartbeat rhythm with my drum. That’s when I can really get into the meditation.

What’s even more remotely strange is I have no problem with visualization at all. I have a very vivid imagination, which I guess is why I’m able to create my MUD which consists of a unique medieval fantasy world from scratch. But even with those visualizations, my mind will flicker back to the mundane world due to stress or the inability to focus.

So I am sorry to say that I fail at this type of meditation. But if someone wants me to do some drumming for them to keep everyone’s energies in sync, I’m your gal.

(Word Count: 414)

 

Exploring a Hearth Culture

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As explained in my “about” page concerning this dedicant’s journal, I technically pull from many different hearth cultures. My patron, Athena, a Greek Goddess of war and wisdom. My Grove, CedarLight, mainly Celtic, with some dabblings in Norse. My other patron (I’m not worried about being politically correct here), I’ve been exploring Odin, also a God of War in the Nordic culture. And then there’s the lifestyle and purpose in which I choose to serve, which is strongly Native American. When it came time to write an essay about one ore two of these, it was a bit of a task choosing which one.

When I had originally written this essay, I did so for the Native American culture. It meant a lot to me to do so because of my strong Cherokee heritage, but was unacceptable for the purpose of the Dedicant’s Program because it was not indo-european. So I was forced to choose a separate culture for this purpose, but I accept any challenge, and was glad to do so.

The requirements say that need to give a brief account on my efforts to develop and explore a spiritual practice, drawn from a culture or combination of cultures.

Despite not being Hellenic, my next strongest spiritual affiliation is with Athena. I’ve been to a Hellenic ritual or two, but must say they aren’t my style. To me they are very dry, with little room for the “back to the earth” type of spirituality that seems to embrace me so.

Since I am not well-versed in the Hellenic tradition, and am honestly not that interested in it, I will speak on my relationship with Athena and its history and how it reflects in my day to day life.

When I was 12 years old, which to note is the age I stopped going to my Baptist church, I was in a class that was studying Mythology. We were reading all of the old Greek myths, which are some of my favorite stories. One of our class projects was to take the essence of one of the Greek Gods, but which Greek God you represented was chosen by your classmates, based on what type of personality you had. I was chosen as Athena, thus my journey started.

Since then she’s been fairly adamant in my life, and is always there in the foundation of everything that I do. My thought process, my pioneering will, even anger have all been influenced by her in some way.

August of 2006 I had a rather large omen from Athena, when a Great Horned Owl was brought into my life. It had been coming after our chickens and killed off many of our guinea fowl. Eventually it got itself caught up in one of our cages and my father and I caught it. I was able to take some pictures of this incredible omen, and just being able to be face to face with such an amazing beast was very spiritual for me.
http://tawodi.org/2006/08/07/the-owl/
http://tawodi.org/2006/08/08/more-owl-pictures/

What amuses me the most is my totem has always been the red-tailed hawk, which in the mundane world, is the polar opposite of the Great Horned Owl. They share the same territory, but where one is a day feeder, the other is night. The Great Horned Owl will even take over the nest of the Red-Tailed Hawk.

So I remember my place, and now realize that both have spiritual significance with me.

Having both spirit animals and guides in my life create a significant balance for me spiritually. The Red-Tailed Hawk is my totem, and my sun sign in the Native Americn zodiac, just as the Great Horned Owl is a symbol of my patron, Athena.

Athena is not just another War Goddess, and even as a War Goddess she represents more of strategic involvement. Her influence in my life has been one of strength and strategy. She’s also said to have given the world math and numbers, which was a big influence on my ability to reach the point I have with my finances. Even my Grovemates come to me for financial discussion and advice, and I’ve received letters from my online journal giving thanks for inspiring them to take hold of their financial future. It may seem like such a minute thing, but inspiring people to better themselves in the mundane world financially is a path that I seem to have been given.

I’ve reworked a small invocation to Athena to be used when we have our monthly Grove meetings, as some of them can be fairly negative and Athena is often a Goddess of Justice:
Blessed Athena. Give us the wisdom to listen to and hear other’s opinions. Help us find the common ground so that all may be free of dispute.

Justice and Fairness are a large part of my warrior path, even though I am not particularly involved in the Warrior’s Guild. I think both are potent parts of my spiritual journey as a Warrior.

(Word Count: 830)

 

Working with Nature

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When I told some of my Grovemates that I would be working on this piece soon, they all laughed and said “Are you kidding? You could do that one with your eyes closed.” It was a good feeling, because it lets me know that an example on my part has been set. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still a good one.

To put it bluntly, I’ve been working with nature all my life. My family is full of generation after generation of farmers, and it’s instilled in my blood. My dream is to own a ranch where I too can develop my own farm (albeit on a more eco-conscience foundation) and be one with the land.

So where exactly do I start an essay that would essentially cover all of the different stages of my life?

As a child, I was a pure-bred tomboy. I grew up in the spirit of many native american principles. The eco-conscience decisions were merely an everyday thing. We were farmers, so we couldn’t afford expensive medications, so we made due with old medicinal folklore. We grew our own food and cattle, so we were never caught up in the consumerist grocery expenditures. We had a big family so clothes were always handed down. And if something broke, we fixed it, instead of throwing it out.

I am so grateful for the childhood I was given, because it taught me a lot about independence and living with the land. As children we would often hike far away from home in the large reservoir that surrounded our farm. So much that our parents hung up large church bells at the main house that they could ring when it was time for dinner so we knew to start heading back home.

Those values and that experience still live on today, and I intend to instill them in my own children should I ever have them. My father and I do not live on such a big farm now, but this is our home. Hopefully one day we will own it, but for now I am grateful for what we have.

We grow our own vegetables, just last week we harvested our first corn of the season. Next week I will be canning tomatoes for the upcoming winter. We raise laying hens, so we always have a fresh stock of farm fresh eggs. We have a decent sized customer-base for our eggs as well, which means they aren’t supporting the unethical chicken factories either. My co-workers and our egg customers have learned to bring back their egg cartons to be reused in the next batch, which helps keep trash out of landfills. We even use the styrofoam ones, because I figure it’s better that they are being used to the brim instead of sitting in some landfill somewhere.

And every September through December when hunting season starts, my father and I both grab a rifle and you’ll find us out in the woods at 5am in the cold, looking for our next game. That meat will provide us through the winter, and the fur will give me more practice with my tanning knowledge, and warmth when the snows come.

Granted hunting and killing game may not be considered an eco-friendly decision to some people. In fact I have a cousin who is adamantly against it and often chides me for it, because he says it is unethical. Yet I find humor in his hypocrisy because he is not a vegetarian, so he eats meat from the grocery store. Such meat has been treated far worse and done more damage to the environment than anything I could ever be capable of.

We also kill some of our rabbits several times a year for meat and fur. We sell whole rabbits to a series of customers, which I know they enjoy knowing where their meat and eggs come from.

During the summer months, my father and I conserve water by using gray water on our plants. It’s a bit of a pain because I have to bucket out the water every morning after I shower. Eventually I’d like to have a system installed where it would be stored in its own tank and I can pull directly from there, but for now I enjoy the extra physical labor.

We split our own firewood every fall, but only from fallen trees that we’ve drug up from the woods with the tractor. We’ve never cut a live tree (the wood would be too green anyway), and this means we are conserving energy because we do not pay for heat.

My father has a slight obsession with our local bird population. I’d say we have at least 10 different bird feeders that are tended to everyday, with another 4 bird baths. He could spout off the name of every bird that flies through (another trait I hope to pick up, when I have time to sit around and watch birds all day like he does).

I have also downgraded from my 1978 full size bronco to a more environmentally friendly v6 mustang. I still have the bronco, but have taken it off the road temporarily to fix it up. I would have invested in a hybrid vehicle, but even they are ridiculously expensive, and I had to buy used. Fortunately it gets decent gas mileage, which certainly helps out the environment, compared to the v8 351 modified engine I was driving before 🙂

I use almost all organic/natural products in our home. From soy-based toilet cleaner, to organic soap that I barter feathers for that my friend Anna makes. We use Seventh Generation detergent, though I intend to start making my own. We raise guinea fowl to help deplete the insect (especially ticks) population, as I refuse to use any harmful chemicals around my home.

I even do small things like, save our grocery bags if the only option we have is plastic. These make great trash bags later on. Otherwise I try to use a canvas bag or two instead. I also saved some of those little black plastic dishes with a lid that restaurants give you if you order carry-out, and those make perfect lunch containers. I also bring my own metal drinking container to work instead of using masses of paper and plastic cups like my co-workers (though trying to get them to do the same thing is not so easy).

One thing I’d also like to have here, if we owned this property, is solar panels. There’s a lot of investing I would do to make our home have a softer footprint on the earth, but I can’t see myself spending that type of money on a place we don’t even own (even if we’ve been living here for 28 years).

I’d also like to have enough space to be completely self-sufficient as far as food (and everything, really). I intend to build a smokehouse, greenhouse, and raise small amounts of various stock and game. My home will be built in a manner which compliments Mother Nature, and will not be dependent on standard heat and air conditioning, but instead the natural terrain of the earth itself.

But the biggest contribution I can make to the environment, is education. Educating myself and learning the skills I want to learn to walk softly on the earth. And then to teach and lead by example, to not only my children, but to my peers and everyone who would listen.

But those types of plans are reserved for the future. It is after all, a way of life.

(Word Count: 1,267)

 

Ritual: Midsummer 2006

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My sister during Midsummer 2006There is one word to describe this High Rite. Rain. It rained and it poured and it was lush with water. We gave up trying to stay dry or hide under umbrellas and jackets. Instead we plopped, stomped, danced, and drummed in the rain. It felt so good, as I’m often the victim of playing out in rain and thunderstorms due to my love for them. It felt very powerful, like we were sincerely connecting with nature on another level.

Our primary invocations were Dionysus and Selene, and this marked the 17 year anniversary of CedarLight Grove. Caryn told the story of CedarLight Grove and how the name came to be when our founder was on the banks of the Potomac in 1989 for our first ritual. The energy was high, and this was truly what rituals are about to me.

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