Describe your discipline practice as an ADF Clergy Student. Explain what you have learned from this practice, describe how your connections with the Earth Mother and the Gate Keeper have grown and changed over the time you have worked with them, and reflect on your journals and omens over the period. (min. 600 words)
Since I am a relatively new Clergy in my mind, my practice and the subsequent discipline are constantly ongoing and evolving. I’m working through the Core Order of Ritual to find my personal niches and prayers, I’m figuring out what daily pious activities fit into my hectic schedule, and then also where I’d eventually like to be as a Clergyperson. Growth is a wonderful thing, and I imagine all Clergy are constantly growing and changing with the seasons.
That said, the biggest area I am lacking is daily devotionals and personal practice. I have been working on a morning affirmation to start my day, but I’d certainly like to incorporate more practice throughout my day to sorta reinforce the bond between the mundane and the spiritual. There is more motivation now especially since the man in my life moved in and has been exploring his Norse Hearth culture, and my desire to foster that and watch it grow. Because of his involvement, I find myself wanting to be even more spiritual so he has a hands-on learning experience.
We started with his desire to want to develop a reciprocal relationship with a deity. So we started doing daily rune pulls to see if we could identify a pattern. Every single one of them pointed to Freyr/Ing in some fashion, so that opened up a pathway for us to communicate with Freyr on a regular basis. A “breaking the ice” if you will.
So my role as a Clergyperson has certainly improved or increased since taking someone under my wing to develop their path into neopaganism. The best way I’ve found to want to improve at something is to try and be an example, and we as Clergy should always be that example.
My first major spiritual work as Clergy was directly after my ordination and my first journey to the mound with my fellow Clergypersons at Trillium in 2010. It was somewhat comical, using an American flag as a tree, a tealight as the fire, and a water bottle for water, but it was functional. Ian did some drumming for my meditation, since that is the most successful method of meditation for me, and onward we went.
My Ogham pulled during this journey was a Blackthorn. I have not developed much of a relationship with this particular tree yet, but it is in the works.
My vision of the Gatekeeper and the Earth Mother were a bit odd. I instantly envisioned the Earth Mother as “Gaia” from the show “Captain Planet”. She was a very exotic earthy woman, stubborn but powerful and gentle at the same time. Mananan was the obvious Gatekeeper at the time, though I have not developed as much of a relationship with any particular Gatekeeper at this time, unless you consider Thor as a Gatekeeper of sorts since he has a strong relationship between the worlds as a protector of mankind. Mananan was dressed in a blue and white hooded robe, I could not see his face, but he held a lantern of sorts to help guide my way through the mists.
I find it somewhat odd that Mananan was the Gatekeeper for this particular journey, as my hearth culture is Norse and my patron is Athena. But he is one we have reciprocated a relationship with at my Grove frequently, so I suppose he is familiar and safe for me to get my feet wet with.
Additional daily work I’ve tried to incorporate are prayers associated with meals. My dad has been a farmer all of his life, so I’ve grown up with a special relationship to the land and spirits. My life ebbed with the changing of the seasons, the availability of produce, the hunting seasons, the droughts and floods. To me it is as much of a natural ingrained process as breathing is, so to understand the spiritual significance behind even the most crucial yet under-appreciated tasks, eating food, is something I am well aware of.
At my Grove, we do weekly morning devotionals we call “Walk With the Old Ones”, which is generally a small 30 minute ADF “Lite” ritual of honoring the Earth Mother, the Kindred, meditating, and giving praise and offering healing. This is a ritual that I enjoy because it allows me to renew that connection within my Grove, and watch them renew their connection to the land since they are not farmers, and to do so as a community. I find this a very important feature of community devotionals, it really strengthens the bond and even offers a training period for upcoming liturgists to take on leading a “WWTOO” so they are more comfortable with eventually leading High Days.
There are also our 8 High Days at CedarLight, which are epic in their own proportions. We work hard to train our members to lead rituals and get experience with ritual parts so they we can develop future clergy and liturgists. It’s a wonderful thing to witness, and I am proud to watch their own personal discipline grow in that fashion. We record all omens we take, and reflect on them a week after the rite (after they have sunken in), and use them to guide the prayer for our next High Day.
Some of the more minor episodes of pious prayer I’ve noticed, are things such as the wearing of and prayer while holding my Thor’s hammer, especially during flight (particularly the landing part, I always wonder if my plane is going to fly off the runway :D). Donald thinks this is cute, but it’s something that is important to me. I do not like to travel without my Thor’s hammer, as it gives me a feeling of protection from would-be troubles.
My future intended work is to obviously work on the daily devotionals, but also to incorporate more of the High Days into my personal practice. I am devout at my involvement with them at my Grove, but have done very little at home in my hearth. I want to share those energies within my home as well, and feel it has been neglected.
I also want to develop more of a relationship with Heimdall or Hama in the Anglo-Saxon culture, as I am oathed to an Anglo-Saxon Kindred in the area (as is Donald), and feel a very strong draw to build up that relationship more. My relationship with the Earth is so strong, I really need to buff up my relationship with Heimdall to better strengthen my spiritual path in general.
I used to journal my thoughts regularly after each high rite, but that has been slack as well and it is a practice I wish to keep up so I can share and record my own thoughts on not only the Rite itself, but the omen and how it affects my personal journey. Journaling is one of our most powerful tools on this path, side by side with doing the work.
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