- 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)
What I’ve learned from this practice:
There are many things that I learned from keeping a regular devotional practice. A large part of this preliminary building of this practice happened when I was working through the initiate program, and holding to that same level of practice has continued to serve me well as I embarked at the clergy training program.
One of the things I learned from building this practice is that I enjoy speaking my prayers out loud. It sounds simple and perhaps like a no-brainer, but when you’re at your shrine or altar and by yourself, there doesn’t seem to be a need to say anything out loud. You could theoretically just say it in your head. But I’ve found that not only do I really enjoy speaking aloud even in my solo rituals, I also get more out of my work and my practice when I engage with my practice verbally. It brings it more to life for me.
Another one of the things I reaffirmed when continuing this practice is that there is true value in regular practice. I noticed this when I was preparing for initiation and drastically increased the number of full core order rituals I did each week to nearly one a day. I have backed off a bit from that since then, but it has been more because school started up again and I’m limited in the amount of time I can sacrifice during the school year. I still do at least one full ritual a week, and try for two to three. I’ve found that the more I pray, the better I feel, and the better I feel the more I desire to pray. It is a cycle that builds on itself, building my practice and helping me grow in the process.
Something new in this practice has been the addition of retreat days. I’ve enjoyed adding the monthly retreat day to my practice, though I’ve found it more difficult than I was expecting. Initially I tried to take the whole day and devote it entirely to my spiritual practice. That didn’t go well. With a child under the age of two, I just couldn’t take that continuous chunk of time away. I should have remembered going through that same process when my daughter was even younger as I was starting on the Initiate Path. I relearned, or maybe reaffirmed, that in order for my spiritual practice to work it has to be part of my life, not apart from it. While it is important to set time aside for just me in my spiritual studies and devotional practice, it is also important to kindle that flame in all parts of my life and let it brighten everything from there. The following months, as I learned to incorporate the work of the retreat days into my life, began flowing smoother and becoming another part of my spiritual practice.
How my connections with the Earth Mother and Gate Keeper have grown and changed:
As I started the clergy training program, and began incorporating the Earth Mother and the Gatekeeper into my rites in a different way, a more prominent way, than I had before, I began to see changes in how I viewed them. Shortly before completing the IP I made the decision that I would pursue the clergy path following my initiation. So, when I started on the CTP, I began working with the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper I had just met. They are distinct and different from whom I typically call in ritual to work with in the roles of Earth Mother and Gatekeeper (Gaea and Hekate, respectively).
This Earth Mother I met seems to exude an overwhelming sense of soft, warm, and motherly love. She is less fierce than Gaea, and is who I have started working with in clergy work. She is her own distinct being, and somehow seems even more all-encompassing, and all-mothery than an individual hearth-centric deity does. I also met, during the course of this work, a much darker and more primordial Earth Mother. She was awful and haunting and fierce. She is, I believe, a different being that the Earth Mother I’ve been working on building a closer relationship with. She is much more mysterious than the Earth Mother, and seems to be just a small step past Chaos. She holds the seeds of potential and shepherds them as a fierce and protective Mother to their fertile soil and into the care of the things or people that will help them grow.
The Gatekeeper I’ve been working with throughout the course of this is also the one I met during initiation. He seemed partially made of mist. He may have been the inspiration for Manannan, or Manannan for him, but they were clearly not the same being. He is the Lord of Wisdom and Opener of Ways. He is a sharp contrast in a lot of ways from my usual way of working with the Gatekeeper, probably in large part because I work with a female Gatekeeper most often in ritual. When I work with Hekate as a Gatekeeper, there is still that mixing and mingling of magic to do the work. When she walks between the realms, she literally moves between them, and exists fully in each one that she enters, and not existing in multiple realms at once. In working with her, she will guide you from place to place, from realm to realm. However, with the Gatekeeper, he is much more liminal. He can exist in multiple realms at once, and when you work with him, you also are able to drift like the mists and exist in the place between those realms as well as having a feel of existing in multiple realms at once.
My reflection on journals and omens from the period of this work:
During each full ritual I did throughout this work I drew an omen, of either 1 or 3 symbols, which was every few days. One of the things I’ve done to analyze my omens from this period is compile all of the symbols I drew into a frequency graph. A large percentage of those omens contain Eta, Beta, Iota, and Mu (see graph). Eta is the oath symbol, and while I was working on Divination 2 I found that when I did readings for current priests I almost always pulled Eta in their readings. Eta literally means: “Helios who watches all, watches you.” Beta is the helping gods that support you on your path. Iota and Mu are both work. Iota is the external work that is done and allows you to pursue excellence. Mu is the internal work that is done and allows you to make admirable changes within yourself. I did not drawn Omicron at all throughout the course of taking omens during this time period, which I find both interesting and applicable. Omicron is literally “There are no crops that are not sown.” Because I have been doing the work (Iota and Mu), have been supported by the helping gods of my path (Beta), and am keeping my current oaths as I prepare to take another (Eta) I have no need to worry about not having laid the proper groundwork to proceed on my path.