Let’s Talk Vocation: Mentoring

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that part of my Vocation, part of my Call, is mentoring. That thread of passion has woven it’s way through many aspects of my life, from coaching to college organizations to my professional life in teaching and into my role as an Initiate and a Priest. Being a mentor can be a tough job, but it is immensely rewarding work for me. It is one of the things that drives me.

I want to be helpful to others, to aid them in their growth, and to give them the tools and skills they need to do the work they want to do. In a way, I want to put myself out of job, though I know that new people, new mentees, will continue to come along. But there is great joy and a sense of accomplishment, in seeing a mentee reach a point where you can step back because they no longer need you.

As mentors, we seek to help our mentees feel welcomed, valued, and part of their own learning process. We walk alongside them, providing support and insight, and encouraging reflection, risk-taking, and confidence in their growing skills. The mentorship relationship will grow and change with time, and that is a good thing. The way that relationship between mentor and mentee develops allows for learning to flow back and forth, and for a guided, yet organic, method of growth to occur.

When I mentor someone I talk with them. I prod them when they need it. I’m a sounding board. They are the team leader and I’m their point person, their support person. When they need something I can’t do, or I don’t know, I find them that resource, or that other person that does know something more, or even different than me, and I make that connection.

When you’re a mentor, you’re in it for the long game, and certainly not for any sense of immediate glory. You start with your mentee, where ever they may be along their path, and you walk with them. Within many organizations, there is this push as a mentor to get your mentee over the threshold of whatever it is that you’re mentoring them for. Whether you’re mentoring them as a prospective leader of your organization, as a student teacher, or as an aspiring priest. The push is to get them to that new position. To get them to and through that Rite of Passage.

But that isn’t enough. It isn’t good enough for the mentor to lead that person, their mentee, up to the threshold of this new position in their life, and then shove them over it. Especially when there may or may not be someone on the other side to catch them, and reintegrate them back into their organization, or society, or church as a person with this new role. When you go through a transition, a Rite of Passage, there is a state of liminality that occurs. And after the state of liminality there is a state of communitas, of being part of the community.

Part of the role of a mentor, and especially for me with how I view my role as an Initiate, is to walk with that person up to the threshold, through the liminal space and time with them, and be there for them on the other side as well, to help them adjust to their new role.

I’ve had some great mentors, especially as I’ve entered the ADF Priesthood. They’ve encouraged me and given me the opportunity to grow and learn and take chances. They’ve been there for me when I struggle, and cheered me one when I’ve succeeded. The best have also been the ones that walked with me at the beginning of my path, and have continued to walk with me at each successive step along the way. These mentors, they’ve helped me navigate these waters and come to grips with my Vocation, my Calling. They’ve become my peers.

So, what are some dispositions and qualities that good mentors have? What does being a good mentor look like? What does a good mentor do, especially internally? Here are some ideas:

Picture on a green background with ADF "Why Not Empathy" logo in the bottom corner that reads: Mentors of New & Aspiring Clergy Should: - Consistently reflect on their practice and performance of ritual to identify areas of potential growth. - Engage in ongoing learning and continually strive to improve their own practice. - Know and use a wide repertoire of effective liturgical and pastoral strategies. - Be approachable, patient, and trustworthy. - Share skills, knowledge, and resources with their community and peers. - Exhibit a positive attitude and passion for clergy work. - Attentively and actively listen. - Be skillful at coaching that generates reflection. - Value the opinions and ideas of others and be able to accept an aspirant priest as a developing member of the clergy. - Invest their time and commit to supporting an aspirant priests spiritual and liturgical growth.

Leaders are Always Growing

This is excerpted from my Leadership Development course, and refers to what I see as my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, particularly as a leader within ADF.

When considering how I fit within the context of leadership in ADF, especially as it pertains to the organization as a whole and its members, I think I am strongest in Strategy, Shared Values, and Strengths/Skills.  I have ideas how to keep moving us forward as a religion, and work to implement them, especially on a local level, with my peers.  I identify strongly with ADFs Shared Values as stated in our Mission and Vision statements, and work to align my personal work with those shared values.  I think the greatest strength of our church is our individual members.  Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we can grow stronger as an organization by using these skills and making sure all feel like valued and contributing members.

I still have a lot I think I can improve on in Staff, Systems, and Style, as it relates to leadership.  Because Staff refers to the people within an organization, and the general skill sets that they all have, I think that, although I am a people-person, this is someone that every one of us can continually improve on.  I’ve been trying to make a point of making myself available to people who don’t have a local community.  I spend time following and engaging in conversations with folks who I’m unfamiliar with, especially when they are seeking help, advice, or just other like-minded people practicing Druidry. I also do my best to make it to rituals at others groves, and to festivals, though I recognize that they are only a very small percentage of our membership, and so it must be coupled with distance communication with solitary and faraway members.

Because I believe our greatest strength as an organization is the people who are in it, I think it’s absolutely vital to continually get to know those people, and make sure that they have the opportunity to become familiar with me, and know that I’m someone they can reach out to at any point without fear of awkwardness or judgment. I love discussing Our Druidry with people, so I want continue to learn about the individuals of our membership: what their path is looking like, where they want to go, how to help them get there, what they’re carrying with them (skills, knowledge, burdens) on the journey.  I’m an extrovert most of the time, but prefer in depth one on one conversations, so in order to improve this particular Leadership Skill I need to be cognizant of my inclination to want to continue long in depth conversations with people I know, and be able and willing to step outside that comfort zone and make myself available to others.

As far as improving Systems, I think there is a lot to be done as far as the organization itself is concerned to improve these, and I have ideas on how to help.  I can improve this by continuing to follow my vocation and drive, and work on not sitting quietly, but instead taking a more active role in the changes that can and are happening.  I see our study programs continuing to grow and evolve as we get more members, and more specialized knowledge.  I see those study courses each having a rubric, both to help the student as they’re writing, and to help the reviewer as they are evaluating.  Most of all, I see more active work happening as far as creation of useful materials for members, especially solitaries.  The more practical and supplemental help we can provide for those walking the path of Our Druidry, like prayers, ritual scripts, meditations, tools, and other ideas, the better.  The focus here is on contributing more towards improving the Systems that allow each individual member to more fully and accessibly experience Our Druidry.

Because I tend to be rather quiet (indirect and reserved) in many situations within ADF, in order to improve my leadership Style, what I need to work on most here is navigating when to flex that style.  I need to work on flexing from indirect to direct so that my voice gets heard and taken seriously amongst all the other loud, forceful, and passionate voices.  I also need to work on allowing my outgoing side to take precedence more often in non-in-person scenarios.  It isn’t often a problem when I am with other people and conversing in-person.  However, since due to the small and spread out nature of our organization, online and other distance communications are more regularly used, and in those situations I tend towards reserved.  So working on being more outgoing when communicating over distance is another area of focused improvement for this.

What Makes a Good Leader in ADF?

This is excerpted from my Leadership Development course, which, as a whole, I found fascinating and useful in many different parts of my life.

When I think of leadership, the image that is in the forefront of my mind is the one where the leader is reaching down to pull others up the mountain. I think, above anything else, our job as leaders is ensure that we have a healthy community.  There are many other things that go into it, of course, but you can’t be a leader of none.  Leadership is service, especially in the context of an ADF Priest.

boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain (“Boss Leader”)

Some of the qualities and skills that go into being a good leader are a strong focus on introspection and self-reflection, being aware of and knowledgeable about your community and members, and assuming positive intent.

When talking about introspection and self-reflection begin integral to leadership, there are many reasons why.  When we work understand ourselves, we are able to not only engage in self-care, but are also better able to understand others.  Self-reflection is important when dealing with potential burnout in yourself.  You need to know when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, and allow yourself a time out to kindle your own flame.  You must keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others it’s light.

You need self-reflection as well because you need to be aware that your words and your actions have weight, and you must be careful how you use that weight and influence. If others view you as a leader, then they are more likely to ascribe more weight to your words.

Introspection and self-reflection also allow you to continue to expand your worldview, and reach an understanding with multiple viewpoints.  Be engaging in introspection, you can allow your views to continually change as needed to be adaptable to the situations at hand.  You are better equipped to remain nonjudgmental in the face of adversity.  You are more able to be as Teutates, the Gentle Gardener and Tender of the Tribe, and help new, innovative, and strong ideas to blossom and grow.

As a leader, you must be aware or your staff and their skill sets.  This is a two-fold need for leaders.  Not only does it allow you to know whom you can lean on for support, especially if you are pushing up against burnout, but it also means that you know the potential of the future.  You will know who, and how, to build up and encourage those skilled individuals towards leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, it is important for leaders to assume positive intent, not nefarious motivations, in others.  Oftentimes leaders are so passionate about their work that they get caught up in the details of the process, and can sometimes lose sight of the vision, of the bigger picture.  It is vitally important for the health of the team and the larger community that the leader assumes we are all working towards the same bright vision, and though we may have different ideas on how to achieve it, each person is honestly doing their best.

Leadership Development 1

Leadership Development 1

1)  Define consensus and collaboration in your own words, give an example of how each can be applied in a grove setting, and explain which you prefer and why. (min. 250 words)

 Consensus: noun

1) majority of opinion;

2) general agree or concord; harmony

collaboration: noun

1) the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

2) traitorous cooperation with an enemy.

Consensus is when, in a group setting, all the members of the group come together to make a decision on a specific issue, action, or situation.  While consensus doesn’t have to be unanimous (though it can be) it is often the result of common thought and compromise.  The connotation of consensus implies that while not everyone may agree on all points unequivocally, they are in general agreement with and can accept the decision.  Consensus can be used in a grove setting where the group is brainstorming ideas for new projects, since that is a situation where ideas and issues can be brought up early on, so as to not interfere with the decision making process too much.  We use consensus when we write the new stanza for our grove poem each year.  Everyone can contribute new ideas, and then we mix them until everyone agrees.  Poetry by committee is entertaining to the say the least, and somewhat exemplifies why I prefer collaboration to consensus.  Consensus takes a long time, involves more compromise than is necessarily good, can be hung up by a single person who can’t or won’t agree to the compromises, an can leave less direct individuals feeling like their opinion and voice wasn’t heard.

Collaboration is when a small group comes together, often guided by a lead member, to create something or solve a problem that has arisen.  It involves taking input from many sources and encouraging creativity and new ideas.  It is most often goal driven, and the teams involved in collaboration may change based on what needs to be done.  A grove can use collaboration when planning rituals.  We often use the system of ritual teams, where we have a Druid-in-Charge (laity), a Priest-in-Charge, and 2-3 supporting ritual team members. This ritual team plans, writes, and assigns out parts for each of our high day rituals.   I prefer collaboration to consensus because it allows a small group to come together to focus on tackling a specific project.  There are less personalities involved, making the process smoother, and because the focus is more often on solving a problem, or entertaining multiple creative ideas in order to find a good outcome, rather than on finding something everyone can agree to, there is less hurt on a personal level.

 

2)  Describe the following traits of leadership.  Describe the types which best fit you. (minimum 100 words for each trait, and 100 words for the self-description)

There are Four Traits of leadership, with each trait divided into two opposing preferences.  These preferences are expressed on a continuum, with most people falling somewhere between the two extremes.

Influencing

The Influencing Trait ranges from Indirect to Direct, and qualifies how you express thoughts, present ideas, and assert yourself.  It has to do with communication.  It is not a measure of how influential someone is, but refers how they prefer to go about influencing others.  The Influencing Trait does not measure assertiveness, power, or self-confidence (Handley “Training” 17-8).

a) Direct – A direct style of influencing involves straightforward talk and body language.  The direct individual is willing to debate ideas, is confident and self-assured, and tends to tell people what to do, rather than ask them.  They are bold, and will say exactly what they mean without dancing around the topic.  A direct individual is good at taking charge, especially in situations that need a clear direction or someone to take point on decision-making.  They are good at getting issues out in the open, especially issues that other more indirect individuals may feel more hesitant abut broaching.  They are good at encouraging frank discussion of issues, and encourage all participants to lay all their cards on the table.  Direct individuals need to be conscious of how blunt they are being, as well as how much air time they are using.  Are they allowing other more indirect individuals openings and opportunities to talk, engage in discussions, and be heard? (Handley “Training”26-34)

b) Indirect – An indirect style of influence involves more diplomacy than a direct style of influence.  The indirect individual is more likely to be intimately aware of how their word choice, phrasing, and timing will effect their communication and ability to influence someone to their way of thinking.  They are tactful, modest, and approachable people, often open to negotiation and hearing multiple sides of an issue before nudging the conversation in the direction they want to see it going.  Indirect individuals use a supportive approach, guiding conversation so that others think ideas are theirs, and then supporting them in making that idea reality.  They are likely to present their ideas in an unassuming, often Socratic, manner.  They will ask for tasks to be done rather than telling people to do them. They are good at facilitating discussion and mediating conflicts.  Indirect individuals need to be conscious of their unassuming nature and diplomacy to be sure they don’t drift into the realm of manipulation.  They should also be aware that their gentle approach may be mistaken for a lack of confidence in their opinions, and sometimes not worthy of consideration because of that (Handley “Training”18-25).

Responding

The Responding Trait ranges from Reserved to Outgoing, and qualifies how you approach and respond to others, particularly groups.  In other personality tests this is the same scale that measures introversion and extroversion. (Handley “Training” 35).

c) Reserved -A reserved style of responding describes an individual who prefers deep one-on-one discussions and prefers to have the time to thoroughly think out their responses to people before voicing an opinion.  They tend to be quiet in large groups, but very engaged in small groups.  They recharge from stress by taking time for themselves.  In addition to their style of verbally communicating, they also tend to have reserved body language, minimized facial expressions, and use few gestures.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling emotions, but rather that they don’t tend to show those emotions publicly.  Reserved individuals often do not share a lot about themselves, and may take a long time to build a trusting relationship with and get to know. One thing that is important to note is that the reserved trait is not the same as shyness or lack of self-esteem.  A reserved individual just doesn’t talk when they don’t feel like talking, and tends to abhor small talk (Handley “Training” 35-42).

d) Outgoing – An outgoing style of responding describes an individual who on other personality scales is often referred to as “extroverted.”  They tend to be talkative and enjoy group settings.  When working through issues and problems, they are far more likely to talk out the issue, rather than think it over by themselves in order to clarify how they feel.  They are more likely to verbally process information. They recharge from stress by finding like-minded people to be around, discuss their stresses with, and generally socialize and connect with people. Outgoing individuals are open and expressive, and the often use large gestures when communicating. They stay in contact with friends, family, and acquaintances easily and frequently, and are good at making others feel at ease around them (Handley “Training” 43-48).

Pacing

The Pacing Trait ranges from Urgent to Steady, and qualifies the speed at which you make decisions and take action.  It has to do with how an individual goes about their tasks.  It is not a measure of energy level, soundness of decision-making skills, or productivity.  To judge those qualities it is more useful to look at how dedicated and motivated an individual is (Handley “Training” 49-50).

e) Urgent -An urgent style of pacing describes an individual who is able to make quick decision by considering only the most important information.   Too many choices and alternative options don’t bog them down because they prioritize importance well.  They are able to act quickly and easily adapt to change.  Urgent individuals do well in leadership roles that have many short-term projects.  They are good at jumping at opportunities as they arise and working with many projects at the same time.  They can move an organization quickly towards a goal.  Because they are quick to react, they do need to be aware of how their emotions and frustration effect their communication, as they are often described as having short fuses (Handley “Training” 50-56).

 f) Steady -A steady style of pacing describes an individual who is persistent, deliberate, and loyal.  They are not slow, but rather carefully consider as many options as possible before making a decision, and are not impulsive.  They would rather be sure that all research has been done well, and are willing to wait for other options to open up, rather than jump to a hasty conclusion. Steady individual have an excellent long view, and are good at seeing the bigger picture and how cascading decisions may play out down the road.  They do well with long-term projects that require careful research, and more easily overcome boredom associated with drawn out tasks.  They have long fuses, and are slow to get emotional and frustrated about situations, but also often have long memories when they do reach a breaking point. They often appear easy going, calm, and amiable (Handley “Training” 57-64).

Organizing

The Organizing Trait ranges from Unstructured to Precise, and how you structure time, organize tasks, and handle details.  It has a lot to do with task achievement and how details for completing those tasks are managed.  It is not a measure of performance, results, or quality, which are better predicted by intelligence, experience, and motivation  (Handley “Training” 65).

g) Unstructured – An unstructured style of organizing describes an individual who prefers flexibility, diving straight into projects and tasks, and is focused on the outcome rather than the process.  They are good at coping with rapidly changing environments and are creative at finding new and different solutions to projects.  They often will let little tasks pile up, but are good at taking care of emergency things right away.  They are also good sources for creative thinking, and can function well in disorganized environments.  They prefer to be given a task and then turned loose to solve it.  As leaders, they trust their team to get the job done, and will just expect the results at the end.  Unstructured individuals need to be aware when a task and process has been well researched and if it would be better to follow the set guidelines to save themselves trouble, or if something is new and different, and their approach will be a good opportunity to discover new ways to do things (Handley “Training” 65-72).

 h) Precise -A precise style of organizing describes an individual who prefers to have a schedule and structure to how they manage time, tasks, and details.  They are timely in their work and feedback, and seek to carefully schedule and plan.  They have a method for each thing that needs to be done, and systems in place to make them more efficient in their work.  Precise individuals see organization as a priority because it will allow everything else to flow smoothly.  The seek order in their tasks and situations, and prefer predictability to change.  They seek to improve systems and policies to benefit organizations as a whole (Handley “Training” 73-79).

Self-Description – I lean heavily toward being and steady and structured individual no matter what the situation is.  Interestingly, in the professional world I tend towards being direct and reserved, but in my personal life I am the reverse of that, tending to be indirect and outgoing.  These results are from taking the insight inventory for myself, and I certainly have a spectrum of traits. Within ADF I seem to be steady, structured, indirect, and then I flex pretty easily between reserved and outgoing as needed by the situation, though I am more frequently reserved in my leadership capacity within the organization (Handley “Interpretive”).

All of this together means that my strengths as a leader are my ability: to facilitate discussions without letting my personal thoughts and emotions get involved; to carefully phrase comments to present ideas in a non-conflicting manner; to do a lot of listening and let others talk more than me; to hold information confidential; to make others feel important and valued; to understand and empathize with the variety of factors that may be influencing peoples lives; to keep an open mind to alternative methods and solutions; to bring order and structure to disorganized or chaotic situations; and to see and establish ways to improve systems and policies that help make work flow more smoothly (Handley “Training” 2-5).

 

3)  Define the seven primary skills of leadership.

These seven primary skills of leadership are based on the McKinsey 7S Model.  They are divided into Hard and Soft skills.  The hard skills are Strategy, Structure, and Systems, and are typically easier to define and management can directly influence them.  The soft skills are Shared Values, Strengths/Skills, Style, and Staff, and are less tangible and more influenced by culture within the organization.  The idea is that for an organization to perform well, these elements need to be aligned and will reinforce each other (Mind Tools).

Strategy – This is the plan to move the organization forward.  In ADF it includes the plan to keep us a viable public neo-pagan religion, as far as how we provide training, run our business, and gain and retain our members.

Structure – This is the way the organization is structured on all levels; the hierarchy or who reports to whom.

Systems – These are the standard operating procedures for the organization.  The things in place to keep tasks running smoothly.

Shared Values – These are the core values of the organization as seen in the work ethic and culture of the organization.  Within ADF, this can be seen in our Vision and Mission Statement, as well as how various members interact with the subgroups and organization as a whole.

Strengths/Skills – These are the skills and competencies of each individual person within the organization.  Within ADF, we have a huge variety of skilled individuals who all bring something to contribute to the table.

Style – This refers to the style of leadership within the organization.  This varies within ADF depending on who the leader is in each specific role.

Staff – This refers to the people within the organization and the general skill sets they all have.  For ADF, this can refer to each individual member and how their presence strengthens us as an organization.

a) Identify the three skills that you are strongest in.

I think I am strongest in Strategy, Shared Values, and Strengths/Skills.  I have ideas how to keep moving us forward as a religion, and work to implement them, especially on a local level, with my peers.  I identify strongly with ADFs Shared Values as stated in our Mission and Vision statements, and work to align my personal work with those shared values.  I think the greatest strength of our church is our individual members.  Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we can grow stronger as an organization by using these skills and making sure all feel like valued and contributing members.

b)  Identify the three you are the weakest in and explain how you plan to improve these skills  (min. 400 words describing improvement outlined in section “b” of this question)

I think I could use the most improvement in Staff, Systems, and Style.

Because Staff refers to the people within an organization, and the general skill sets that they all have, I think that, although I am a people-person, this is someone that every one of us can continually improve on.  I’ve been trying to make a point of making myself available to people who don’t have a local community.  I spend time following and engaging in conversations with folks who I’m unfamiliar with, especially when they are seeking help, advice, or just other like-minded people practicing Druidry. I also do my best to make it to rituals at others groves, and to festivals, though I recognize that they are only a very small percentage of our membership, and so it must be coupled with distance communication with solitary and faraway members.

Because I believe our greatest strength as an organization is the people who are in it, I think it’s absolutely vital to continually get to know those people, and make sure that they have the opportunity to become familiar with me, and know that I’m someone they can reach out to at any point without fear of awkwardness or judgment. I love discussing Our Druidry with people, so I want continue to learn about the individuals of our membership: what their path is looking like, where they want to go, how to help them get there, what they’re carrying with them (skills, knowledge, burdens) on the journey.  I’m an extrovert most of the time, but prefer in depth one on one conversations, so in order to improve this particular Leadership Skill I need to be cognizant of my inclination to want to continue long in depth conversations with people I know, and be able and willing to step outside that comfort zone and make myself available to others.

As far as improving Systems, I think there is a lot to be done as far as the organization itself is concerned to improve these, and I have ideas on how to help.  I can improve this by continuing to follow my vocation and drive, and work on not sitting quietly, but instead taking a more active role in the changes that can and are happening.  I see our study programs continuing to grow and evolve as we get more members, and more specialized knowledge.  I see those study courses each having a rubric, both to help the student as they’re writing, and to help the reviewer as they are evaluating.  Most of all, I see more active work happening as far as creation of useful materials for members, especially solitaries.  The more practical and supplemental help we can provide for those walking the path of Our Druidry, like prayers, ritual scripts, meditations, tools, and other ideas, the better.  The focus here is on contributing more towards improving the Systems that allow each individual member to more fully and accessibly experience Our Druidry.

Because I tend to be rather quiet (indirect and reserved) in many situations within ADF, in order to improve my leadership Style, what I need to work on most here is navigating when to flex that style.  I need to work on flexing from indirect to direct so that my voice gets heard and taken seriously amongst all the other loud, forceful, and passionate voices.  I also need to work on allowing my outgoing side to take precedence more often in non-in-person scenarios.  It isn’t often a problem when I am with other people and conversing in-person.  However, since due to the small and spread out nature of our organization, online and other distance communications are more regularly used, and in those situations I tend towards reserved.  So working on being more outgoing when communicating over distance is another area of focused improvement for this.

 

4)  Define the stages of burnout. Identify how you can utilize the strengths and skills of team members to avoid burnout in yourself and others. (minimum 200 words)

People who are involved in helping professions, like teaching, social work, medicine, and clergy work, face significantly higher risks for burnout.  Often this is because they got into those fields of work because they are very passionate.  However, the very fact that they care deeply, were ‘on fire’, puts them at greater risk for burnout (Hatfield).

Burnout is defined as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved work stress, resulting in:

  • Depleted energy and emotional exhaustion
  • Lowered resistance to illness
  • Increased depersonalization in interpersonal relationships
  • Increased dissatisfaction and pessimism
  • Increased absenteeism and work inefficiency” (Hatfield)

There are many different ways to divide up the stages of Burnout, however Hatfield and Gray, using the work of Veninga and Spradley, break burnout into the following five stages:

Stage 1: Honeymoon – The honeymoon stage is the baseline stage.  This is where you have high job satisfaction, and even though there are stresses in the job, you develop coping strategies to manage them.

Stage 2: Balancing Act – In this stage you begin to notice that some days are better than others at your job, and how you’re dealing with the stresses varies day to day.  There is a noticeable increase in job dissatisfaction, work inefficiency, fatigue and trouble sleeping, and engaging in various escapist activities.

Stage 3: Chronic Symptoms – In this stage, some of the same things that became noticeable in the Balancing Act Stage intensify, including chronic exhaustion, physical illness, and anger and/or depression.

Stage 4: Crisis – At this point, the symptoms from the previous two stages as they relate to your work life become critical and spread even further into all aspects of your life.  The physical symptoms of burnout intensify or increase in number, you’re constantly obsessing over the frustrations with your job, you’re pessimistic and full of self-doubt, and you seek ways to just get out.

Stage 5: Enmeshment – In the enmeshment stage, the symptoms of severe burnout are so entangled in your life that you’re more likely to be diagnosed as having some other physical or mental ailment, than you are to be labeled as a burnout case (Hatfield).

Burnout is a serious problem in organizations, and especially in those organizations that are involved in the business of helping people.  According to Maslach and Leiter, burnout occurs when there are mismatches between the nature of the job and the nature of the person doing the job (Maslach 9).  Often the value of the worker, the human, comes far behind the value of the job itself, especially when money is involved.  These mismatches happen when we feel overloaded, when we lack control over what we do, when we are not rewarded for our work, when we’re experiencing a breakdown in community, when we aren’t treated fairly, and when we’re dealing with conflicting values.  Burnout is an erosion of the soul, as we lose value, dignity, spirit, and will, and the further it goes, the more difficult it is to recover from.  People who are burned out become exhausted, cynical, and ineffective (Maslach 9-17).

Dealing with and preventing burnout is a team effort. Because burnout is a problem with the social environment of the job, there needs to be a shift in culture to help prevent and treat burnout.  Burnout says a lot about the conditions that workers are in, and it is not the individual that needs to change, but rather the organization as a whole (Maslach 18-21). The steps to navigate the process often start with one person sharing their dissatisfaction and gathering a group together to work on coming up with ways to solve burnout factors.  They then connect those proposed solutions to the organization as a whole and work to affect the related mismatches that are causing burnout.  And, because things in the work keep changing, the outcome of this process remains a process, continuing to work towards reducing the burnout factors for those in the organization (Maslach 79-83).

If you are experiencing burnout, you can lean on your team members for support in dealing with the job stressors when you’re in the early stages of burnout, but in order to mitigate the underlying problem, and not just the symptoms, a team effort is needed.  It can start with you as an individual, but will need to progress with the support of a team, and the organization as a whole, to continue to help manage the reasons burnout is occurring.

 

5)  Using the information you have learned in this course, what do you feel makes a person an effective leader in ADF? (min. 200 words)

When I think of leadership, the image that is in the forefront of my mind is the one where the leader is reaching down to pull others up the mountain. I think, above anything else, our job as leaders is ensure that we have a healthy community.  There are many other things that go into it, of course, but you can’t be a leader of none.  Leadership is service, especially in the context of an ADF Priest.

boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain (“Boss Leader”)

Some of the qualities and skills that go into being a good leader are a strong focus on introspection and self-reflection, being aware of and knowledgeable about your community and members, and assuming positive intent.

When talking about introspection and self-reflection begin integral to leadership, there are many reasons why.  When we work understand ourselves, we are able to not only engage in self-care, but are also better able to understand others.  Self-reflection is important when dealing with potential burnout in yourself.  You need to know when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, and allow yourself a time out to kindle your own flame.  You must keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others it’s light.

You need self-reflection as well because you need to be aware that your words and your actions have weight, and you must be careful how you use that weight and influence. If others view you as a leader, then they are more likely to ascribe more weight to your words.

Introspection and self-reflection also allow you to continue to expand your worldview, and reach an understanding with multiple viewpoints.  Be engaging in introspection, you can allow your views to continually change as needed to be adaptable to the situations at hand.  You are better equipped to remain nonjudgmental in the face of adversity.  You are more able to be as Teutates, the Gentle Gardener and Tender of the Tribe, and help new, innovative, and strong ideas to blossom and grow.

As a leader, you must be aware or your staff and their skill sets.  This is a two-fold need for leaders.  Not only does it allow you to know whom you can lean on for support, especially if you are pushing up against burnout, but it also means that you know the potential of the future.  You will know who, and how, to build up and encourage those skilled individuals towards leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, it is important for leaders to assume positive intent, not nefarious motivations, in others.  Oftentimes leaders are so passionate about their work that they get caught up in the details of the process, and can sometimes lose sight of the vision, of the bigger picture.  It is vitally important for the health of the team and the larger community that the leader assumes we are all working towards the same bright vision, and though we may have different ideas on how to achieve it, each person is honestly doing their best.

 

Works Cited:

“Boss Leader Difference Climbing a Mountain.” StareCat.com. N.p., 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://starecat.com/boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain/>.

“collaboration.” Dictionary.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

“consensus.” Dictionary.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Handley, Patrick, Ph.D. “Interpretive Guide.” Insight Inventory. Insight Institute, 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. <http://www.insightinstitute.com/successcenter/manuals-guides/eInsight/ Participant-booklet-2012-V12.indd/index.html>.

Handley, Patrick, Ph.D. “Training Guide.” Insight Inventory. Insight Institute, 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. <http://www.insightinstitute.com/successcenter/manuals-guides/Insight-Training-G-2012.indb/index.html#/18/>.

Hatfield, Tim, Ph.D., and Lee Gray, Ed.D. “Burnout.” Stress Management Website. Winona State University, 18 May 1998. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. <http://www.winona.edu/stress/ 9Burnout.HTML>.

Maslach, Christina, and Michael P. Leiter. The Truth about Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do about It. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1997. Print.

Mind Tools Editorial Team. “The McKinsey 7-S Framework.” Mind Tools. Mind Tools Ltd., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. <https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm>.

 

Using Indo-European Liturgical Language

Using Indo-European Liturgical Language

1) Translate the following liturgical phrases into your Hearth Culture language:

Modern Greek – dictionary used noted in the Bibliography section

  1. We are here to honor the Gods.
    1. Είμαστε εδώ για να τιμήσει τους Θεούς – Eímaste edó gia na timísei tous Theoús
  2. So Be It. (or a similar finalizing statement)
    1. Let it be! – έστω – ésto
  3. Ancestors, accept our offering!
    1. Ancestors, accept this sacrifice! – πρόγονοί, αποδεχθεί αυτή θυσία – prógonoi, apodechtheí aftí thysía
  4. Nature Spirits, accept our offering!
    1. Spirits of Nature, accept this sacrifice! – πνεύματα της φύσης, αποδεχθεί αυτή θυσία – pnévmata tis fýsis, apodechtheí aftí thysía
  5. Gods (Deities), accept our offering!
    1. Gods, accept this sacrifice! – θεοι, αποδεχθεί αυτή θυσία – theoi, apodechtheí aftí thysía
  6. Sacred Well, flow within us!
    1. ιερή πηγάδι, ροή μέσα μας – ierí pigádi, roí mésa mas
  7. Sacred Tree, grow within us!
    1. Sacred tree, grow within us – ιερή δέντρονα, φτάσει σε ύψος μέσα μας – ierí déntro, na ftásei se ýpsos mésa mas
    2. Sacred mountain, rise within us – ιερή βουνό, υψώνομαι μέσα μας – ierí vounó, ypsónomai mésa mas
  8. Sacred Fire, burn within us!
    1. ιερή φωτιά, καίγεται μέσα μας – ierí fotiá, kaígetai mésa mas
  9. Let the Gates be open!
    1. Let the way between/path be open! – προκαλούν οι διαδρομές για να ανοίξετε – prokaloún oi diadromés gia na anoíxete
  10. Gods, give us the Waters!
    1. θεοι, μας δίνουν την αγιασμός – theoi, mas dínoun tin agiasmós
  11. Behold, the Waters of Life!
    1. ιδού το αγιασμός της ζωής – idoú to agiasmós tis zoís
  12. Ancestors, we thank you.
    1. Ancestors, we thank you – πρόγονοί, εμείς σας ευχαριστούμε – prógonoi, emeís sas efcharistoúme
  13. Nature Spirits, we thank you.
    1. Spirits of Nature, we thank you – πνεύματα της φύσης, εμείς σας ευχαριστούμε – pnévmata tis fýsis, emeís sas efcharistoúme
  14. Gods (Deities), we thank you.
    1. Gods, we thank you – θεοι, εμείς σας ευχαριστούμε – theoi, emeís sas efcharistoúme
  15. Let the Gates be closed!
    1. Let the way between/path be closed! – προκαλούν οι διαδρομές για να κλείσει –  prokaloún oi diadromés gia na kleísei

 

2)  What do you consider to be the importance of using phrases in a hearth culture language other than Modern English (or your own native language) in ADF ritual? (Minimum 200 words)

Because all ADF rituals follow the same order of ritual, they often look very similar.  This is important because it allows us a commonality of practice with ADF.  However, the importance of using hearth culture language within an ADF ritual stems from the ability to add that hearth culture flavor to the ritual.  This can allow the folk to connect more deeply to the spirits and hearth culture in general, however it can also cause confusion and disconnect from the ritual as a whole if the language becomes a barrier to understanding and engagement. The benefits of using your non-native language within a ritual I think largely depend on the size of the ritual and familiarity of the group.

In a large group ritual, I think hearth culture language should be kept to a minimum. It works best when it is short, and/or doesn’t carry important liturgical meaning. Simple phrases, like “so be it!” often work well.  They are short, to the point, and often easy to repeat.  However, longer phrases that are important to the liturgy, especially if the folk are expected to repeat them, can make it more difficult to connect.  This is particularly true of folks who do not follow the hearth culture in question.  If the folk don’t know what is being said, they will have a harder time focusing their intent and staying engaged with the ritual.  The phrases within this course are often the ones that we use as call and response phrases in our grove.  I wouldn’t want to use them in a large group ritual because those call and response phrases are an important part of our liturgical flow, and help bring the folk and their energy into the ritual.  I think it’s important that they know what the phrases they’re saying mean.  For instance, when connecting to the Fire, Well, and Tree, and we say “Sacred Tree, Grow within me!”, if the folk don’t know what that phrase means, they will not have the benefit of that guided and deepening connection. The trouble with using your non-native language in ritual can be seen historically as well with the Catholic Church, who had trouble with its congregants due in large part to a language barrier (Placher 186-7).

In a small group ritual, where all the participants are familiar with both the ritual structure, and the phrases being used, I think it can be a powerful tool. The use of hearth culture language can help the folk feel more deeply connected to a specific hearth culture.  There is some intense power and group-mind building that can happen when all in the ritual know what is going on.  I have felt this when I practiced with my Hellenic Demos, and the language came easily, we all knew what it meant, and it was tied to our own practice.  I have also felt the power in it a little bit when I’ve attended a ritual put on my Grove of the Midnight Sun, and they’ve made calls in Old Norse.  The difference there I think is that I didn’t have to repeat the phrases, and sometimes the phrases were translated into English for us following the Old Norse.  I could feel the energy shift, though still felt a slight sense of disconnect from the ritual itself due to not understanding what had been said.

Bibliography

“English to Greek.” Word Reference. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.

“Google Translate.” Google Translate. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

Negre, Xaiver. “Modern Greek Dictionary Online Translation.” Words and Wonders of the World. Lexilogos, 2002. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

Placher, William C. Readings in the History of Christian Theology. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1988. Google Books. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

Sophistes, Apollonius. “Hellenic Magic Ritual.” Hellenic Magical Ritual. Biblioteca Arcana, 2000. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

Sophistes, Apollonius, and Thexalon. “Ritual Phrases in Greek.” Oi Asproi Koukouvayies: White Owls Kin. Ár NDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

Theater for Ritual 1

1) Describe the origins of theatre and how it relates to ritual in at least one ancient Indo-European culture. (300 words minimum)

We don’t have too much direct evidence of early theater, but from what sources remain, mainly wall paintings and other artifacts, we can surmise that theater began as a way to relate events and stories that the culture considered important to preserve.  The relation of stories and events was cyclical in ancient cultures, and as the actions of the storytellers, or ritualists, were carried out, so was the actual act within our world manifested.  Thus, these ceremonies where experiences were related were also a way of making sure those experiences would happen, such with a hunting ritual echoing the desired outcome of the hunt.  “These actions moved from habit, to tradition, and then on to ceremony and ritual.” Then, as ritual and theater became entwined, as the ceremonies and stories began to be valued for their entertainment, and as the rehearsal and repetition of the stories continued to grow, they moved more towards what we see as the basis for modern theater, as seen in Ancient Greece and other Indo-European cultures (Robinson).

 

Within Ancient Greece, theater, ritual, and myth were well entwined, and drama itself became a way to honor Dionysos, one of the Greek gods, particularly during Dionysia ta astika, the City Dionysia.  During this festival one of the big things that would happen was a competition of various dramatic works.  It should be noted that the temple for Dionysos in Athens was within the theater precinct, indicating a distinct overlap in the use of theater and ritual.  The plays that were performed “were never secular entertainment but always taught piety, morality and moderation, and the comedies afforded the poet a chance to make political statements that might not otherwise have been tolerated” (M, Sean). Interestingly, this was a festival that foreigners, outsiders, were able to take part in, whereas many of the civic celebrations in Ancient Greece were reserved for citizens and their families.  Civic religion in Ancient Greece was notably separated from household worship, but in the case of ritual, the civic festivals contained elements of theater so that they would be accessible to all citizens within the city.  The ritual honoring Dionysos came first, and was only later that this became an event more focused on entertainment, and thus, theater. We see this in the festivals like Dionysian ta astika where the entertainment that grew out of them was informed by the rituals that were their foundation.

 

2) Explain “intentional movement” and why it is important in ritual. Include how movement can both aid and detract from the ritual experience. (100 words minimum)

Intentional movement in the context of ritual is when all movements, from small gestures to full body movement, are performed with intent and focus.  This means that when you gesture in ritual you only do so if it’s necessary, and you make the movement complete, rather than half-attempted, or half-hearted.  This lends confidence and authority to your speech and any magical actions you may be making, and helps the audience focus on your words and better direct their own energy to the task at hand. It can also help solidify the look of a ritual, and get all celebrant and ritualists in the same headspace, if all celebrants are making the same gestures and motions.   For example, if you include a gesture when praying to the Shining Ones, such as raising your arms, raise them completely into position, and be willing and able to hold that position for the whole invocation.  Don’t be surprised if many of the other celebrants and Folk copy your motions. Likewise, when you move in ritual, you should only move when necessary to get from point A to point B, such as to make an offering or take the Waters around to the Folk.  When gesture and movement are not intentional, this has a number of effects, including making the ritual and ritualist look unpolished and unsure of themselves, as well as distracting the Folk gathered and thus disrupting the flow of energy in the ritual (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).

 

3) Explain your understanding of the circles of concentration. (200 words minimum)

The Circles of Concentration, as Rev. Thomas describes, are about finding a focus in ritual in order to both lead and experience a better ritual in terms of energy and logistics.  There are four circles that exist in a ritual with more than one or two people.  The first circle encompasses the self.  The focus on this level is all about your own awareness (where you are, what you’re saying, etc.), and being able to continue to act without giving in to the critic that is babbling away in the back of your mind about all the things you might be doing wrong.  I would also say that the focus on the self in this first circle is important to maintain the self, especially in the face of doing intense trance or magical work, where the boundaries between what is you, and what is another may blur (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

The second circle encompasses not only the self, but also the other celebrants in the rite.  The focus on this level is about staying aware of the other celebrants for logistical purposes, but also feeling connected to them on an energetic level so that you are able to work in harmony with each other.  This harmony between all the celebrants leads to a more fulfilling rite both amongst themselves, and for the ritual attendees (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

Which brings us to the third circle, which encompasses not only the self and the other celebrants, but also the Folk.  The focus on this level is about being attuned to the Folk.  Can they hear? Can they see? Are they engaged?  This is the circle that I often refer to as the “Bardic Lasso.”  When I am acting in the role of Bard for a rite, it is not simply the person who brings the lyrics to pass out and leads the songs.  The Bard is the person who is intimately aware of the energy level and engagement of the Folk, and helps to hold everyone together in the ritual, and bring the energy level up and down as needed throughout the rite (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

The fourth circle encompasses not only all the human players at a rite, but also the otherworldly participants, the spirits.  The focus on this level is where the purpose of the rite often is: feeling a connection with the spirits.  A strong fourth circle will allow the celebrant to effectively call to a spirit, and as they see the spirit approach, because they are still connected to the second and third circles, so too will the other celebrants and the Folk.  This allows everyone present at the ritual to feel that connection (Thomas “Circles of Concentration”).

 

4) Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the three ritual configurations (proscenium, thrust, and round). Note how a ritualist can maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages of each configuration. Offer at least one type of ritual that would work best in each configuration. (100 words min. for each configuration)

The three types of ritual configurations are proscenium, thrust, and round.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each configuration.

A proscenium configuration is where the audience is arranged in rows facing a (often raised) stage.  This is the configuration that Three Cranes Grove uses in our Dublin Irish Festival Lughnassadh Rite, which typically draws between 300 and 400 people.  Some advantages that make this the configuration that makes the most sense, particularly for this ritual, are that the majority of the audience has no problem seeing the celebrants, and since we are mic’ed, hearing us as well.  Some disadvantages to this configuration are the possibility of being accidentally upstaged by another celebrant who is onstage as they move or fidget, as well as the distance from the celebrants to the audience lessening the energy flow between the two and a decrease in the interactiveness on the part of the audience.  Another disadvantage that we’ve had to account for by having rehearsals is the stage size and amount of celebrants with speaking parts.  When the stage is small, only so many people can be active celebrants in order to minimize time between parts.  We also have to rehearse movement and blocking so that everyone knows where they should be, and how to get from Point A to Point B when they have to move (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).

A thrust configuration is where three sides of the ritual space have audience members, and the altar typically takes up the fourth side, pushed slightly forward.  This is the configuration we use for the vast majority of our public rituals in Three Cranes Grove.  One advantage is that when a celebrant has to speak they can put their back either to the altar or to the fourth side, so that no audience members are behind them.  We often stand in front of the altar for all speaking parts that don’t requiring working at the altar, such as taking the Omen or working the Return Flow.  This could be a disadvantage, and does require awareness on the part of the speaking celebrant that they don’t turn to make an offering as they are still speaking because this turns their back to a portion of the audience while they are still talking, and thus those people can’t easily hear them.  There is also the advantage to this configuration as it relates to energy flow and participation of the audience.  The audience can feel a part of the action (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).

A round configuration is where the action and speaking all happens within the center of a circle (or egg shape, as a lot of our “rounds” end up being).  This is the configuration we use in a lot of the semi-public and private rituals, such as members-only Druid Moon rites, at Three Cranes Grove.  When we set up this space it is most often outside, and the fire is at the center.  If we have a more formal altar, it is either at the center near the fire or off to one side of the ritual space.  Because this space has a lot of disadvantages as far as the audience being able to effectively hear or see what is going on, we rarely use it for larger rites, and try to stick to rite where all the audience members are intimately familiar with the ritual structure and often will all have some part that requires participation as well. The advantages we experience using this space is that each person is a part of the action, and in these smaller rites, folks can make personal offerings to the Kindreds from all sides of the fire without the awkwardness that often happens with folks waiting in line to approach the fire.  I find this configuration is also extremely useful in magical work because the energy flow is so much better.  The person who is leading the magical working stands at the center to direct (both the folk and the energy), making sure to turn their head and body as needed so all in the circle can see and hear (Thomas “Well Trained Ritualist”).

 

5) Choose a being of the occasion appropriate to a specific high day of your choosing and describe a theatrical method of conveying the mythology of that being to others during a public performance. (300 words minimum)

For Three Cranes Grove Spring Equinox Rite in 2015, we chose to honor the Vedic Gods, specifically Indra.  Indra is a Thunder-God, and the being that won the Waters for the Folk in Vedic Lore.  We get many spring thunderstorms in Central Ohio (along with the occasional tornado, derecho, and general rainy weather), and as such Indra seemed like a deity that many could find a connection with, even if they did not follow the Vedic Gods in particular.  The story of Winning the Waters is one that is not only common across Indo-European cultures, but also essential to our understanding of the Waters of Life within ADF.  This meant that the Folk were already familiar with the idea of these Blessed Waters being given to us by the Shining Ones, and that they could make connections of that winning of Waters to their own gods.

Because we’ve been working on incorporating children’s programming into every ritual, and because the Vedic mythology is not something that many in our community are familiar with (most leaning Celtic or Norse in their practice), this was an excellent opportunity to tell this story in a way that involved the children of our Grove as well as was easily understandable by all attendees.  To this end I wrote a short play with three main parts, and a selection of other less involved or optional parts, to tell the story of Indra winning the Waters during the Return Flow section of the ritual. I kept the lexile (reading level) of the play low in order to help the children learn their lines and to make it easier for everyone to understand.  I referred to the Rig Veda (1.32) when writing the text in order to pull lore-specific imagery in to the text.  (I have included the text of the playlet below.)

The ritual was performed in the thrust configuration, and thus so was the play itself.  The audience was arrayed in a general arch shape around the altar and the performers.  This made it fairly easy for everyone to see and hear, though we did have to account for some rather strong winds, and make an extra effort to speak loudly and clearly.  The part of Indra and Vrtra were played by two of our older children, and they rehearsed their lines beforehand, and were quite confident.  I was the officiant for this ritual, and employed the Circle of Concentration in this role.  It was imperative, particularly because not only was I telling the story, but I was also working the magic for the Return Flow.  Thus, I was aware of myself in my speaking role, aware of the children performing alongside me, aware of the folk watching the ritual, and aware (very keenly) of Indra as the Waters were infused with the blessings we received.  It took a lot of concentration and a lot of energy to be able to old all of that energy and focus together, but I also felt it worked extremely well for relating the mythology of Indra winning the Waters and performing the magic of the Return Flow.

“Indra Wins the Waters”

This playlet was written for the children’s programming for Three Cranes Grove 2015 Spring Equinox Ritual honoring Indra.

 Lexile: 680L (late 3rd grade, early 4th grade reading level)

Cast:

OFFICIANT: The person who is doing the Return Flow portion of the Ritual

INDRA: The Vedic Storm God

VRTRA: The Dragon

CELEBRANTS: The folk at the ritual

STORM-BRINGERS: sounds of the storm (can be the same as the CELEBRANTS if needed)

Optional Cast:

DRAGONS: Vrtra’s family

SACRED COWS: to represent the Waters and Blessings

*following the Seer’s pronouncement of a positive Omen*

OFFICIANT: These are indeed good omens.

OFFICIANT: But you should know that until Indra won the Waters for us, we could not have received these blessings because Vrtra the Dragon hoarded them all for himself and his family.

OFFICIANT: Here is Vrtra now, and he is holding onto [omen], [omen], and [omen].

VRTRA: These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: But the people wanted the blessings too, and they knew only the mighty Indra could help them now.  So they called out with one voice: “Indra, Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: Listen: Do you hear him coming?  Here comes Indra the Storm-Bringer!

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers as Indra enters the stage*

OFFICIANT: In the thundering clouds with his lightning bolt in hand, Indra demands:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: Vrtra roars mightily and retorts:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: And the people knew Vrtra was going to hold onto those gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] with all of his might.  So they again called out: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: And Indra heard their plea and prepared to do whatever was necessary to win the waters for the people.  He again shouted to Vrtra:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: But Vrtra again roared his denial and shrieked:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: Indra grew angry that Vrtra wouldn’t share the blessings with everyone, and as his anger grew, so too did the sound of the storm.

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers*

OFFICIANT: The people knew now was the moment.  Now was the time to give Indra all their support.  And so they called out one final time: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: The storm rumbled as Indra went into battle with the mighty Vrtra, his lightning bolt held high.  With a flash he struck down Vrtra with his lightning bolt.  The Dragon bellowed as he fell.

OFFICIANT: The waters, the blessings, the gifts were now free.  The mighty Indra won them away from Vrtra the Dragon and brought them to us.

*INDRA brings Waters to OFFICIANT*

OFFICIANT: These Waters are infused with the blessings of [omen], [omen], and [omen].  “Behold! The Waters of Life!”

OFFICIANT: As these Waters are poured out for each of us, remember how they were won for us, and how we sing the praises of the Storm God who won them.

OFFICIANT: See how the gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] can flow into our lives.  See how they can flow into our grove.  See how they can flow into our community.  See how you and the world can be renewed and rejuvenated by these Waters so courageously won and freely given.

OFFICIANT: Drink deep, Children of Earth, and be blessed!

 

6) Explain how you would prepare and deliver three of the following pieces for public performance, and include an audio or video clip of your performance of each. (50 words min. each explanation) 

Audio for all 3 pieces: https://youtu.be/g1Wum-1ukZ4

 a) Strong meter and strong rhythm: selection 1

Ye who love the haunts of Nature,

Love the sunshine of the meadow,

Love the shadow of the forest,

Love the wind among the branches,

And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,

And the rushing of great rivers

Through their palisades of pine-trees,

And the thunder in the mountains,

Whose innumerable echoes

Flap like eagles in their eyries;-

Listen to these wild traditions,

To this Song of Hiawatha!

When reading a text with strong meter and rhythm it is important to take note of the punctuation, and when delivering it, speak to the end of the punctuation, not just to the end of the line.  You must plan beats and word emphasis.  In this piece in particular, that means lines 6 to 7 and lines 9 to 10 should be read through without undue pause at the line break.  It is also important to note where there are literary devices that are included for emphasis in the poem, for example, the parallel structure in lines 2, 3, and 4 with “Love the…” and the alliteration in lines 6, 7, and 10 with “rushing…rivers”, “palisades…pine”, and “eagles…eyries”.

c) Complex thought with complex meter: selection 3

Context: Hamlet has discovered that his uncle murdered his father to gain the throne. Hamlet is wracked with indecision about how to avenge his father and has gone into a deep depression, which stifles any action he might take. In this speech he has just seen a Player enact an emotional scene about the death of Hecuba, queen of Troy.

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!

Is it not monstrous that this player here,

But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,

Could force his soul so to his own conceit

That from her working all his visage wann’d,

Tears in his eyes, distraction in’s aspect,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting

With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing! For Hecuba!

What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,

That he should weep for her? What would he do,

Had he the motive and the cue for passion

That I have? He would drown the stage with tears

And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,

Make mad the guilty and appall the free,

Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed

The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,

Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,

And can say nothing;

Again, it is important to take note of the punctuation, and when delivering it, speak to the end of the punctuation, not just to the end of the line.  Hamlet is speaking here in angst, not just in poetic meter.  It is also important to know the emotion that is meant to be conveyed in the text and relate that in voice and tone, as well as words spoken.  In this case, Hamlet in self-deprecating and indecisive, not sure what to do as he’s preoccupied still with his father’s death.

 d) Prose: selection 4

But Skadi, daughter of giant Thiassi, took helmet and mail-coat and all weapons of war and went to Asgard to avenge her father. But the Aesir offered her atonement and compensation, the first item of which was that she was to choose herself a husband out of the Aesir and choose by the feet and see nothing else of them. Then she saw one person’s feet that were exceptionally beautiful and said:

“I choose that one; there can be little that is ugly about Baldr.” But it was Niord of Noatun.

It was also in her terms of settlement that the Aesir were to do something that she thought they would not be able to do, that was to make her laugh. Then Loki did as follows: he tied a cord round the beard of a certain nanny-goat and the other end round his testicles, and they drew each other back and forth and both squealed loudly. Then Loki let himself drop into Skadi’s lap, and she laughed. Then the atonement with her on the part of the Aesir was complete.

It is said that Odin, as compensation for her, did this: he took Thiassi’s eyes and threw them up into the sky and out of them made two stars.

In this one, it is again important to note what the emotion is in the story.  In this case, there are points of the story that are humorous, and so knowing where that humor is, and acknowledging it with your facial expressions, is important in conveying it.  I also had to check pronunciation on a few of the names in this one (Thiassi and Noatun), being unfamiliar with them.  Generally, this means that I needed to work on speaking through them with confidence.

 

7) Write a statement of purpose for a rite of your choosing and one invitation for each of the Three Kindreds. Submit a video (of no more than ten minutes of total length) of your performance of all four pieces.

Hellenic Full Moon Rite Statement of Purpose: https://youtu.be/xXOxwc6NJko

O Makares, Blessed Ones,

I call out to you on this night of the full moon,

As it grows in power, ever luminescent.

 

We come to you each month

As the moon waxes and wanes

marking this time as sacred

and this place as sacred.

 

We come now to makes offerings

as our ancestors did before.

To reforge the sacred *ghosti bond.

 

Be welcome Theoi

and join us in our rite.

 

Ancestors: https://youtu.be/qgcf2vBUPoA

The Children of the Earth call out to the Ancestors!

Those of our blood and our bone,

Those of our heart and your hearth,

Those of our friends and our folk.

 

We call out to those Mighty Dead and Ancient Wise

Poets and Priests

Those who have walked this path before us

and have use the way

Ancestors, Mighty Dead,

Accept our offering.

 

Nature Spirits: https://youtu.be/t_C_BeAqk0E

The Children of the Earth call out to the Nature Spirits,

Those Beings who swim and crawl and wriggle and fly.

All the beings of the this Earth wherever they may come from.

Those who dwell in light and those who dwell in shadow,

Seen and unseen.

 

Natures Spirits:

Animal friends, Mineral friends,

Plant kin and Earth kin.

You who walk with us in all that we do

showing us the ways that we might honor the gods.

Nature Spirits, we honor you.

 

Shining Ones: https://youtu.be/t91JWEnaCPc

The Children of the Earth call out to the Shining Ones:

Bright and Mighty Theoi!

You who are the first children of the Mother,

Eldest and brightest.

 

You of craft-folk, you of grain,

you of hearth, you of sea, you of land.

Hunter, gatherers,

forge-tenders, grain guarders.

 

Gods and Goddesses all:

We call out to you as you share your wisdom and your love.

Shining Ones, accept our offering!

 

Works Cited

Griffith, Ralph T.H. Rig Veda. Sacred Texts, 1896. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/&gt;.

M, Sean. “Dionysia Ta Astika.” Temenos. Hellenion, 8 Nov. 2008. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <https://sites.google.com/site/hellenionstemenos/Home/festivals/dionysia-ta-astika&gt;.

Robinson, Scott R. “Origins of Theatre.” Origins of Theatre. Central Washington University, 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cwu.edu/~robinsos/ppages/resources/Theatre_History/Theahis_1.html&gt;.

Thomas, Kirk. “Concentration in Ritual.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF, December 22, 2009. PDF file. 03 Jan. 2016. <https://www.adf.org/system/files/public/rituals/explanations/Concentration-In-Ritual.pdf&gt;.

Thomas, Kirk. “The Well-Trained Ritualist” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF, November 19, 2009. PDF file. 03 Jan. 2016. <https://www.adf.org/system/files/public/rituals/explanations/Well-Trained-Ritualist.pdf&gt;.

 

Liturgical Writing 2

1) Define “votive offering” and write a prayer (including stage directions if applicable) for a votive offering. (100 words for definition; minimum 75 words for prayer)
A votive offering is made as bargain with the spirits, and is typically phrased as an “if-then” statement. This means that if the spirits do something for you, then you promise to give or do something in return, rather than giving something first and asking that they do. A votive offering relies less on having a *ghosti relationship with a spirit, and more on an economical transaction and promise to pay after the service is rendered. In some ways this reverses the concept of “I give so that you may give” and instead phrases it as “if you give then I can give.”

Mighty Theoi, Brilliant Shining Gods,
To this end do I petition you:
Help me to find a new home for me and my family.
I shall sing your praises should you aid me!

Hestia, Goddess of my Hearth, I call out to you!
As we are seeking a new home, one that we can call our own,
Continue to burn bright here, and light the fires at those others hearths
so that they may become welcoming to us.
When we find a new home, I will give you sweet oil and barley
and tend your flame each morning.

Zeus, Protector of my Home and my Family, I call out to you!
You’ve kept us safe in our dwelling, and aided us in finding gainful employment,
I ask now that you continue your support of me and my family,
and help us in our search to find a home of our own.
We when find a new home, I will give you libations of deep red wine,
and burn sweet incense so the smoke may fill you.

Hermes, Traveler and Trader, I call out to you!
Guide my feet as the search for a home continues,
and when it is found, honey my words, O silver-tongued one,
That our offer may be accepted and we may proceed with making the home our own.
When the home is found, and our offer accepted, I will give you ripe strawberries,
Dipped in barley and cream, that the sweetness may spread through you.

Mighty Theoi, Brilliant Shining Gods,
Lend your strength to this task at hand
and you shall partake of the gifts I bring!

2) Write three prayers, one each for three of the following occasions (no minimum word count):
lighting a sacrificial fire: “Calling Hestia”
I call out now to Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth and Keeper of the Sacred Flame.
You burn ever bright within my heart, and I ask now that you burn brightly upon my hearth.
A flame, kindled upon the earth, pillar of smoke reaching to the Heavens
that it may connect us to the realm above so our voices may be heard.
I make this first offering to you, Hestia, as you prepare to accept the sacrifices made today
And see them carried to the mighty Theoi.
Hestia, be welcome here as you become the Good Fire around which I pray.

a meal blessing: “A Children’s Mealtime Prayer”
Mother Earth gives us grain and bread
And all the food that keeps us fed.
Now the meal is about to start,
So we thank her from our heart.

remembering a recently-passed ancestor: “For Dan’s Crossing” (Sept 10, 2014)
Beloved Dead, Ancient Wise, Ancestors:
One of our own begins his journey tonight.
He comes to join you, wrapped in Crane-feathered cloak.
Borne aloft to cross the veil by the sweet and gentle wings of Garanus,
And held safe and secure within those wings for the journey.
His passage has been paid by kith and kin
As we set his spirit free to join you.

Light the fires along the way,
To brighten his path as he travels.
Prepare the hall for a great feast,
To welcome him when he arrives.
Show him the way, and where to drink,
And guide him in this new role.
Watch over him as he makes this transition,
As he begins this adventure.

Dan, the Ancestors await, to greet you with joy in their hearts.
Fly now, and know you will be welcomed.
Fly now, and know we will celebrate your time with us.
Dan, farewell for now, and safe travels on your journey.

3) Write two prayers, one each for two of the following occasions (no minimum word count):
opening a Grove business meeting
As we gather tonight to continue the good work we do as a Grove,
Let us remember that all here are Children of the Earth.
As we speak, let our voices carry respect;
As we listen, let our ears hear honestly;
As we think, let our mind seek what is best for the community.
So be it!

for blessing a house (the middle part of this borrows heavily from MJD’s work in the Crane Breviary “Anagantios Moon”)
*flame is kindled just before crossing the threshold of the house*

I call out to Hestia as I kindle this fire here,
that she may light and warm this hearth
and bring blessings for all who dwell here.
Hestia, as I enter this place, I ask that you enter with me
Filling this home with your light, protection, and hospitality.

*flame is carried to each room in the house, ending in the kitchen. charm below is spoken in each room*

May this flame brighten the lives of those who dwell here,
May its light fill this space: from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.

*upon entering the kitchen, light a new candle for the individual/family*

May this flame brighten the lives of all those who live or visit here,
May its light fill this home: each room from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.
Hestia, flame kindled here on this hearth,
be welcome as the Good Fire as you light and warm this home.

The hearth kindled and brightened,
I call out now to Zeus Ktesios, who protects the wealth and possessions of this home,
And to Oikoyro Ophi, who protects the individual/family in this home.
Strong Father of Justice, Faithful House Serpant,
enter this home where the Fire burns bright
and grant this hearth, home, and individual/family the blessings of bounty
as you lend your protection to all those who dwell here.
Let your power and protection be bound to this Oikos
for as long as they dwell here.

4) Write a magical working for a full ADF rite suitable for use in a group setting, including stage directions as appropriate. (no minimum word count)
For the Full Moon honoring Hepheastos, the Smith God and Crafter, we will be making ink from the ashes left from our burnt offerings and the Waters gained the Return Flow. This ink can then be used focusing the intent for other magical work, from sigil work to staining divination tools to spelled tablets or prints.

Items Needed:
1 part ash from burnt offerings
1 part water from Return Flow
1 drop white vinegar (optional for ink stability)
bowl that can be stained (for mixing)
hard-bristled brush (for mixing)

To being mixing the ink put the ash in the bowl, add the water. Each person participating in the working will stir and mix the ink with the brush while saying the charm below (the charm can then also be said when reconstituting the mixture or making more). When it looks like ink, mix in a drop of vinegar, and you’re done.

CHARM:
Great and Mighty Hephaestos, Master of the Tempering Flame
Sooty God, who is famed in many crafts,
Renowned metal-smith and skillful worker,
Inventive and Resourceful One,
Your fame and glory resound with each strike of your hammer on anvil.

We have made offerings, consumed by the Fire.
Our gifts have risen on smokey pillar to the Heavens above.
All that remains here is charcoal and ash.
Take what is left, Skillful Creator,
Take the leavings, the forgotten, the dross
And guide our hands in finding use for this too.

Now mix your magic with our
as we seek to create tools from the discarded.
Ash from the Sacred Fire,
*put ash in the bowl*
Water from the Holy Well,
*put water in the bowl*
Bound now together as we chant these words:
*begin stirring and mixing as you chant. repeat as necessary until it is well mixed*

Aithaloeis Theos! Sooty Hephaestos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
Polymetis! Resourceful Hepheastos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
Klytoteknes! Famed in Crafting Hepheastos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
Polyphron! Ingenius and Inventive Hephaestos!
Grant us your skill as we mix this ash!
*once ink is made, add drop of vinegar if desired to stabilize the mixture*

With this ink thus created
Let us not forget the power of sacrifices made.
Let us not forget the power of Hepheastos, the Crafter,
In his ability to create powerful tools
From even those things considered useless or waste.

With this ink, we may now focus our intent for future tasks.

5) Write one complete ritual for an ADF High Day. The ritual must be substantially original and suitable for use in a group setting. (no minimum word count)

Vedic Spring Equinox: Honoring Indra
(This ritual was performed at Three Cranes Grove in March 2015: all parts written here are by Jan Avende unless otherwise noted)

Opening Prayer (Three Cranes Liturgy)
The spirits of the sky are above us.
The spirits of the land are around us.
The spirits of the waters flow below us.
Surrounded by all the numinous beings of earth and sea and sky,
Our hearts tied together as one,
Let us pray with a good fire.

Statement of Purpose
Children of Earth, we come together today, when the world hangs in balance, and all is seeking to be renewed and rejuvenated. We come to honor Indra today, the Vedic God of the Storm. He who won the Waters for us and has made it possible for us to receive the blessings of the gods. In the springtime, the storms often rage, and rain pounds to the earth. From these storms we are given the life-sustaining Waters that renew the land, wash clean our beings, and rejuvenate our spirits. So, on this Spring Equinox at the Good Fire we have kindled, let us honor the Kindreds with reverence and love in our hearts.

Purification
*participants walk between two people, being censed and asperged. Cleansed by the waters, and filled with the smoke*

Earth Mother
The Children of the Earth call out to Prithivi!
Prithivi, we are your Children!
You span the heights, and give sustenance to all beings.
Rich Earth Mother, upheld through Sacrifice.
Born of the Waters, birthing the Waters, home to the Waters,
Pour out for us now delicious nectar and fill us with your splendor.
Agni who dwells deep within you:
The Fire at your heart and ours.
We sing praises of your woodlands and hills.
We sing praises of your mountains and streams.
All who worship and make sacrifice do so on your bosom,
You come from Order and maintain Order in your seasons and cycles,
Gold-breasted Prithivi, keeper and giver of treasures
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Prithivi, Accept our Sacrifice!

Inspiration: Soma Pavamana
Sweet, purifying Soma,
Roaring into everlasting, immortal life.
Bringer of gods. Bringer of light.
Light like the yellow tawniness of the fire.
Bright like the shining Sharyanavat.

Sweet, purifying Soma,
I drink you, intoxicating elixir.
Giver of life. Giver of strength.
Honey-sweet and thick, sliding down my throat
Filling me with Hero’s wealth.

Sweet, purifying Soma,
Flowing and freeing in your stream of juices.
Receiver of praise. Receiver of sacrifice.
Your joyous draught overflowing in creativity
Makes us better than we are.

Soma, fill us with your exilir!
Suffuse us with your body
As we seek to make sacrifice and honor the Gods.
Soma, accept our sacrifice!

Attunement 
Breathe deep, finding your center. Let your body relax. Breathe deep, feeling the tension drain from your shoulders. Breathe deep, feeling the tension drain from your face. Breathe deep, feeling the tensions drain from you arms and legs. Breathe deep, feeling the tension drain from your hands and feet. Breathe deep, and just be for a moment.

*Pause*

Calm now, at peace and centered, see in your minds eye mists rolling in around you, the wisps licking across your skin and obscuring your vision. Allow yourself to exist for a moment in this liminal space, expanding and reaching out for clarity without seeing.

*Pause*

A brightness begins to solidify in the mists: As you focus on it, it grows and you see it is a flame, glowing and flickering with warmth and power. This is the fire of your hearth. The fire of your community. The fire of sacrifice. Let its glow wash over you.

*Pause*

The colors of the fire ripple and dance in and out. See the spirits of the Fire as they reveal themselves. These are the spirits of your home, who cleanses and blesses your space. The spirits of your community who strengthen the ties amongst the Folk. The spirits of sacrifice, who carry your offerings to the gods. As you watch the spirits of the flames, see the colors dance in your mind’s eye. See the white hot spark of inspiration. See the warm orange glow of the burning hearth fire. See the bright yellow spirit of dance and joy. See the deep red glow of community. See the brilliant blue flame that is focused in the night. See the rippling black across the embers. See the shining lights of colors that only you have seen. Listen to the crackle and pop of the fire as the spirits call out to you.

*Brief Pause*

Feel the power of the fire brighten within you as the warm envelopes to you and dances around your limbs. See around the roaring fire the faces of those who worship in this space with you. See as the glow touches each of them and you, brightening us, and filling us with warmth.

*Brief pause*

Now step away from the flames and head back towards the edge of the firelight, as the mists thicken again. Feel the wisps licking across your skin and obscuring your vision. Breathe deep and become again aware of your hands and feet. Breathe deep and become again aware of your arms and legs. Breathe deep and become again aware of yourself. See the mists roll back as you again exist in this place warmed by the Fire, and surrounded by all those who pray around it.

ReCreation of the Cosmos 
The world was made from the Great Being Purusha!
The Lord of Immortality, who through his sacrifice, gave birth to the world!
His Head became the Heavens, where the Ancestors dwell;
His Body became the Atmosphere, where the Shining Gods dwell;
His Feet became the Earth, where the Spirits of the Land dwell.
Springing forth from his mouth, Agni, the Priest of the Gods, leapt into the world
and a Fire was kindled upon the Earth.
A Fire for Hospitality.
A Fire for Protection.
A Fire for Sacrifice.
These three Fires burn at the Center.
Their light stretches out through all the realms,
and their smoke carries our words and sacrifices to all the realms.
These three Fires mark this place as our Sacred Center.

Gates 
Now, with the Fires burning and the Center we look to the sky as we call out for our Gatekeeper.
One who stands at the boundaries and walks the liminal places between the Realms.
Ushas! O Daughter of the Sky!
You who arise from your bath each morning dripping dew upon the land.
Rosy maid, your brilliant face breaks through the Clouds,
Parting them to shine your light upon the world.
Hopeful Dawn comes: ever rising, ever resplendent,
Still there, breathing life into the world with your radiance.
Burning away the gloom that seems it will never leave.
Imperceptibly you lightens the clouds from grey to pink,
Caressing them to life, until suddenly
The sky is alight and singing new songs of hope.
As you awaken the world to life, and rekindle the Fires upon the Land each morn,
So too do you awaken our pious spirits to sing the praises of the Gods.
Ushas, Accept our Sacrifice!

Ushas, Goddess of the Dawn,
Come to us now on this holy day when the world hangs in balance.
Break through the clouds and aid us in rekindling the Fires upon the Earth
As we seek to Open the Gates, Walk Between the Worlds, and make Sacrifice.
Call Agni, the Priest of the Gods, to us, so that we might pour forth our offerings.

Rekindle the Fire of Hospitality, and let it burn here and within us,
Connecting us to the Spirits of the Land, with whom we walk in balance.
Rekindle the Fire of Protection, and let it burn here and within us,
connecting us to our Heavenly Ancestors, who’s knowledge guides our steps.
Rekindle the Fire of Sacrifice, and let it burn here and within us,
Connecting us to the Shining Gods, who we make offerings to.

Three Fires kindled and burning strong,
Connecting us to the Earth, the Heaven, and the Atmosphere.
These flames burning here and in all the Realms.
Ushas, part the Clouds and Open the Ways,
so that our Sacrifices may be carried forth and our voices heard!
Let the Gates be Open!

Earth (Spirits of Forest)
The Children of the Earth call out to the Spirits of Forest!
You who dwell on the Earth and fill the lands about us.
Allies and guides, whether you be of flesh, stone, or plant.
May the Sun warm you, and the Waters fill you,
The Mountains protect you, and the Earth support you.
We come into this space that is yours,
To be as you are in our honoring of the Kindreds.
We see you, Spirits of Forest, All you Sylvan Things
Stepping through the seven regions of the Earth
out across the many-colored grasses
where the Waters flow down from the mountains and out to the sea.
We see you rising in the east to greatness
with a hundred, thousand branches as we lift our ladles and bring you gifts.
Come to our Fire, Spirits, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Spirits of Forest, Accept our Sacrifice!

Atmospheric (Deities)
The Children of the Earth call out to the Shining Ones!
You who dwell in the Atmosphere and fill our every breath with divinity.
Brilliant, Mighty, and Awful, we sing your praises.
Bright and splendid, burning and flowing
We see your power and beseech you to come to us,
Gracious and kindly-hearted, and partake of our sacrifice.
We call and call thee, bliss-bestowers,
come to us at dawn and midday, at dusk and midnight.
Be with us as fires strengthen our prayer and our sacrifice:
Wise and Mighty, Loving and Kind, Ancient and Powerful.
You are streaming with abundance, pouring out treasures untold.
Come to our Fire, Shining Ones, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Shining Ones, Accept our Sacrifice!

Heavens (Ancestors)
The Children of the Earth call out to the Ancestors!
You who dwell in the Heavens and inspire us to reach for the stars.
Sons of mighty Asura, supporting the heavens,
Bound by the life-giving Waters
You search out the path to glory and lead the way.
Come Fathers, and sit on the grass with us
Join us in the warmth of the sun and sweetness of the waters.
We see you as Yama’s hounds roam among us, brindled and dark-eyed,
as they seek those who would ever dwell in the sunlight.
Come to our Fire, Ancestors, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Ancestors, Accept our Sacrifice!

DotO: Indra 
The Children of the Earth call out to Indra, the Cloud Rider!
On eagles’ wings, borne across the land,
You rush up from the sea upon the very clouds
That bear the waters.
Mighty Indra, Bright as Suns,
Come to us and stand by us in our need.
You are drawn onward by the tawny coursers,
sparks that strike the sky, O Tempest God,
We call to you!
Come down to us from the skies, O Wanderer,
making light where there was none,
making form where there was none.
Golden and Thunder-armed Indra,
You who struck down the Dragon,
and won the Waters for us,
Come, come!
Burst forth from the Clouds and drive us on to glory
as a bull drives on the herds.
Bright Thunderer, full of Soma,
We hear the cows roaring, bellowing, at your victory as you approach.
Come to our Fire, Indra, and meet us at the boundary
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our Good Fire.
Aid us and Guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Indra, Accept our Sacrifice!

Prayer of Sacrifice: Agni 
Agni, Bright One, Priest of the Gods,
We have given of our love and our wealth to the Kindreds.
Now, as this sacrifice is poured out, take it, and carry our voices to all the realms:
Through the Forest, where the Spirits may partake of it,
Through the Atmosphere, where the Shining Ones may partake of it,
Through the Heavens, where the Ancestors may partake of it.
Kindreds all, Accept our Sacrifice!

Omen (Fire scrying)
*seer makes an offering to the Fire of Hospitality and seeks the wisdom and blessings there*

*seer makes an offering to the Fire of Protection and seeks the wisdom and blessings there*

*seer makes an offering to the Fire of Sacrifice and seeks the wisdom and blessings there*

Return Flow 
**note: this portion of the rite was performed as a children’s ritual playlet during the rite in March 2015**

Cast:
OFFICIANT: The person who is doing the Return Flow portion of the Ritual
INDRA: The Vedic Storm God
VRTRA: The Dragon
CELEBRANTS: The folk at the ritual
STORM-BRINGERS: sounds of the storm (can be the same as the CELEBRANTS if needed)
Optional Cast:
DRAGONS: Vrtra’s family
SACRED COWS: to represent the Waters and Blessings

*following the Seer’s pronouncement of a positive Omen*

OFFICIANT: These are indeed good omens.

OFFICIANT: But you should know that until Indra won the Waters for us, we could not have received these blessings because Vrtra the Dragon hoarded them all for himself and his family.

OFFICIANT: Here is Vrtra now, and he is holding onto [omen], [omen], and [omen].

VRTRA: These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: But the people wanted the blessings too, and they knew only the mighty Indra could help them now. So they called out with one voice: “Indra, Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: Listen: Do you hear him coming? Here comes Indra the Storm-Bringer!

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers as Indra enters the stage*

OFFICIANT: In the thundering clouds with his lightning bolt in hand, Indra demands:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: Vrtra roars mightily and retorts:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: And the people knew Vrtra was going to hold onto those gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] with all of his might. So they again called out: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: And Indra heard their plea and prepared to do whatever was necessary to win the waters for the people. He again shouted to Vrtra:

INDRA: Vrtra! You have to share the blessings!

OFFICIANT: But Vrtra again roared his denial and shrieked:

VRTRA: No! These gifts are mine! All mine!

OFFICIANT: Indra grew angry that Vrtra wouldn’t share the blessings with everyone, and as his anger grew, so too did the sound of the storm.

*STORM-BRINGERS shake noisemakers*

OFFICIANT: The people knew now was the moment. Now was the time to give Indra all their support. And so they called out one final time: “Indra! Give us the Waters!”

CELEBRANTS: Indra! Give us the Waters!

OFFICIANT: The storm rumbled as Indra went into battle with the mighty Vrtra, his lightning bolt held high. With a flash he struck down Vrtra with his lightning bolt. The Dragon bellowed as he fell.

OFFICIANT: The waters, the blessings, the gifts were now free. The mighty Indra won them away from Vrtra the Dragon and brought them to us.

*INDRA brings Waters to OFFICIANT*

OFFICIANT: These Waters are infused with the blessings of [omen], [omen], and [omen]. “Behold! The Waters of Life!”

OFFICIANT: As these Waters are poured out for each of us, remember how they were won for us, and how we sing the praises of the Storm God who won them.

OFFICIANT: See how the gifts of [omen], [omen], and [omen] can flow into our lives. See how they can flow into our grove. See how they can flow into our community. See how you and the world can be renewed and rejuvenated by these Waters so courageously won and freely given.

OFFICIANT: Drink deep, Children of Earth, and be blessed!

Thank DotO 
Mighty Indra, Thunderer, Drinker of the Soma Juice,
You who have won the Waters for us.
For joining us today, raining down your blessings upon us,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Indra! We thank you!

Thank Ancestors 
Mighty Ancestors, you who have delighted
in the sunlight with us this day:
For joining us today, sharing your knowledge and joy with us,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Ancestors! We thank you!

Thank Deities
Brilliant Shining Ones, bliss-bestowers,
so full of the riches you’ve freely poured out:
For joining us today, kindling a fire of piety with us,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Shining Ones! We thank you!

Thank Spirits of the Forest
Spirits of Forest, moving softly through the realms of the land,
and rising in greatness like the great trees:
For joining us today, teaching s to walk in balance with the Earth,
and lending your Magic to our work as we step forth into our lives,
We say, Spirits of Forest! We thank you!

Close Gates 
Now, with the Fires still burning and the Center we look to the sky
As we call out once more for our Gatekeeper.
One who stands at the boundaries and walks the liminal places between the Realms.
Ratri! O Child of Heaven!
Your Sister, Bright Ushas aided us in our arrival, as is her due.
Now we ask that you aid us in our depature, O Ratri, as is your due.
Twinkling-eyed Goddess, adorned in all beauty
You bring Order to the World as you guide us from Dusk to Dawn.
So watch over us, Ratri, as we seek to close the Gates.
Shepherd us safely on until we come to this shared space of brightness and worship again.
Ratri, Accept our Sacrifice!

Now, Child of Heaven, Goddess of the Glittering Night,
Come to us and aid us as we Seek to bid farewell to Agni,
Walk Between the Worlds once more, and Close the Gates.
Agni has kindled three brilliant flames before us, bright and strong.
They have been well-fed of our sacrifices, and consumed with delight.
Now let these fires once more become but flame.

Let the Fire of Sacrifice no longer burn here and within us,
but dissipate out into the Atmosphere.
Let the Fire of Protection no longer burn here and within us,
but dissipate out amongst the Heavens.
Let the Fire of Hospitality no longer burn here and within us,
but dissipate out across the Land.

Ratri, as this, our Sacred Center, is no longer lit and shining brightly with Sacrifice,
As we travel between, no Fire at our Center,
Let the Gates be Closed!

Thank Inspiration
Sweet, purifying Soma, bright and potent and overflowing,
Honey-sweet intoxicating elixir:
For joining us today, filling us with the joyous draught of Hero’s wealth,
and lending your Magic to our work as we sang the praises of the Gods,
We say, Soma! We thank you!

Thank Earth Mother 
Rich and Bountiful Prithivi, we are your children, and you are our Mother,
We growth and flourish as you growth and flourish.
For joining us today as you do every day, and supporting us always in our work,
Earth Mother, we return to you all that is unused as we seek to continue to walk in balance.
Prithivi, Earth Mother! We thank you!

Closing the Rite (Three Crane Liturgy)
Go now in Peace and Love and Fellowship, Children of the Earth,
This rite is ended!

Works Cited:
Thomas, Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice”. Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. ADF. 2011. Web. 4 Apr 2015. <http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html&gt;.

My Vocational Statement

When did you hear the call to the path of ADF Priesthood? What did it sound like?

When I was first considering what direction to go following the approval of my Dedicant Path documentation I waffled for a long while between the Initiate Path and the Clergy Path.  I talked to current initiates and priests.  I asked questions.  I did divination, journaled, and wrote a lot.  When I asked the counsel of my gods, it was obvious to me: I needed to do the Initiate work.  I didn’t feel ready, and didn’t know that I would ever feel ready, to embark on the path of clergy.  I still felt like I had a call for it then, but it was quiet and I questioned whether it was actually there.  I wanted to do the Initiate work first.  I needed to solidify my own practice before I could truly listen to see if the call was true.

 

The closer I got to completing the course requirements for the Initiate Path, the more I noticed that as I was growing in my own work, the louder the call was getting, and the more insistent.  As my own practice grew, I began seeing places where I could offer my knowledge and skills to those around me.  I feel that, next to walking your walk and owning your path, it is imperative to help others walk their path as well.  I found myself seeing voids in the community, and they were voids that I could fill.  I began leading Full Moon rituals every month, with the focus for those rituals being the magical work that we didn’t really get to do or engage in elsewhere.  It was also a place where I have fostered a “no fail” zone.  I wanted to help others find their voice, the way I felt like I was finding mine.

 

As I reached the final months of journaling for the Initiate Path, my call to the work of the priest solidified.  It felt just as obvious to me as my initial decision to embark on the Initiate Path first.  I knew without a doubt that I needed to first complete that work, and that I could then allow my focus to shift and set my foot upon the path of clergy work.  The paths all merge.  The work of the Dedicant is the first stream.  As it flows along, other rivers join it, bringing with their new waters new inspiration, new knowledge, and wider banks.  The Dedicant stream continues to flow strong in the river of my own Druidry, and will always flow in my river as its headwaters.  It has been joined by the Initiate Current, which brings a deeper understanding and a deeper level of work.  These two rivers flow, their waters mingling, and yet each flowing just as strong, now a single river.  As I encounter new waters, like the work of the Clergy, the river will continue to flow, and grow stronger as all the waters mingle.  My work as a Dedicant is a constant, ever continuing path, as is my work as an Initiate now, feeding the river.  I see the work of a priest the same way: once joined they are ever flowing, becoming just as much an integral part of the river as the other waters.

 

I want to be a priest because I want to help others on their path, whatever that path may look like to them.  I want to provide liturgy to folks who are having trouble coming up with something fitting on their own.  I want to provide my knowledge and skills to those who need them.  I want to help grow our children in our tradition.  I have built my strong foundation, and the pull has intensified.  I understand why so many people refer to it as a “Call.”

 

It is not a loud resounding gong, nor a can I necessarily put my finger on an exact moment that I felt called, but it is a constant and insistent part of my being now.  It is a constant ringing in my ears and a constant throbbing in my being. The clergy serve the gods the folk and the land, and that is what I feel drawn towards, pulled towards, called towards.  I’ve grown in my understanding of this faith community, and I’ve come to realize that what I want to do and who I want to be can’t be done elsewhere.  The sound of the call was when I heard the sound of that need in my community, when people started looking to me in that role, and when I was able to begin seeing myself in that more confident and capable place.  When I understood that by becoming an ordained priest I would be able to answer that call and fulfill that need, it felt right. The call encompasses the sounds of multiple melodic lines weaving together in harmony as the gods, the folk, and the land all sing together in my soul.

 

What form do you expect your vocation to take?

I have been doing a lot of work as an Initiate that has revolves around part of the oath that states “…and with these tools I will lead others to the flame.”  My vocation I expect will continue to reflect this work.  I will be involved in making Our Druidry accessible to any who seek it.  For any who seek the flame, I will act as a guide on their path, aiding where I can, challenging when I need to, and supporting always.  I will be involved in the educational programs that we have (in the form of the DP, IP, CTP, and Guild SPs), and with those that are just now blossoming (such as children’s programming, especially locally). I want to help grow ADF into a church that my children can be a part of and feel connected to from a young age.  I want to help develop programming that engages our new members, particularly those who are being raised in our traditions.  One of the biggest draws to ADF for me is its inclusiveness and family-friendly nature, and I want to help grow that.

 

There is great joy and potential in the balance that exists within ADF between faith and scholarship, between practice and study.  I want to help others see that same joy.  I want to help others in ADF blossom in their practice, and should they decide to embark on the course of higher study within ADF, I want to make sure that the coursework is accessible to them in a way that they can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. I want to help others feel capable and confident in adapting their hearth culture and practice into the greater whole that is ADF practice. I want to help others find their voice.

 

Do you feel prepared to become an ADF Priest now? Do you see further work that you will need to do to prepare yourself for the work ahead?

I feel as ready as I can without having actually set foot on the path yet.  I know that I am going to run into obstacles and challenges, but I feel confident that while I won’t be prepared in the sense that the challenge wouldn’t have happened, that I am prepared in that I will be able to work with or around the issues that arise.

 

There is always work to do, and there is always room for more growth.  I don’t think I will ever be done learning and improving.  There are always new things to learn, and new things to experiment with.  There are specific experiences that I lack, but that I’m not sure can be gained before ordination.  I’ve never married anyone, though I witnessed folks declare themselves for each other.  I’ve never helped anyone cross the veil, though I’ve sat with those left on this side.  I’ve never done conflict resolution from a religious point of view, though I it do it on a regular basis at my job and amongst my friends.

 

These are life experiences, and I think they simply take time.  I cannot say with certainly how I will handle them when the time comes, but I feel that I have been well prepared, and have a solid support network of my own in the form of current Priests and the Kindreds to draw on when I need help or guidance along the way.

 

Clergy is not all weddings and funerals.  It’s not that glamorous or that that clear cut.  It’s listening and liturgy.  It’s meditation and magic.  It’s the interactions and relationships you develop.  It’s about the day-to-day work – the hundreds of small differences that you are able to make in the lives of those around you.  It’s about fostering a community and growing and tending what you have.  It’s about the thousands of minute details and small-scale actions you take each and every day to serve the gods, the folk, and the land. That I am prepared for.

 

We are all students, and all continually growing beings. There is nothing wrong with, and perhaps even something good about, accepting that the path we walk doesn’t have a clear end and that there is something new around every twist and turn.  I am prepared in this sense, because I have faith that I can handle the experiences that are to come with the skills that I have gained along the way.

Discipline 1

Discipline 1

 

  1. 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.

CTP Omens

Ethics 1

(note: I occasionally reflect on my ethics in a formal way.  You can find those reflections here, and my most up to date Personal Code of Ethics here.)

1) Find and provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide illustrative examples for each of the following seven terms: morals, values, personal bias, professional boundaries, confidentiality, right and wrong (100 words each minimum, not including definitions)

 

Morals: 

“those values that give voice to the needs and legitimate expectation of ourselves and others” (Weston 3)

moral (Merriam-Webster)

: concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior

: based on what you think is right and good

: considered right and good by most people : agreeing with a standard of right behavior

Morals are those things within ourselves that help guide us on an ethical path.  There is a reason the term “moral compass” is a fairly common phrase.  Morals can be a tricky issue because what is in line with an individual’s personal morals, may not be in line with the morals of society.  In those cases the line blurs between which route should be taken when making decisions (ie: a “moral dilemma”).  This is partially where the idea of the moral compass comes from: this idea that we have a set of internal values and morals that guide us when we feel there are injustices being done in the wider scheme of things.  Morals guide us in how to act when we consider what it is that we value.  Morals are often tied tightly to hot-button issues (like gay rights and abortion) since they can differ from person to person with each having strong arguments to why they are right, which in turn leads to discussions of moral dilemmas.

 

Values:

“those things we care about; those things that matter to us; those goals or ideals we aspire to and measure ourselves or others or our society by.” (Weston 3)

value (Merriam-Webster)

: relative worth, utility, or importance

Values are often big-picture ideas.  They are the things that we aspire to make better in ourselves and in the world, because they are things that we are passionate about and believe will help make the world a better place, or help us to make our microcosm a better place.  These can be things like equality, happiness, and education.  For example, I value education, and think that everyone should have the equal opportunity to learn with the least amount of obstacles in their path.  This means for me in pursuance of my values I will do what I can to make knowledge, learning, and training as accessible as possible for those around me who desire to better themselves in this way.

 

Personal Bias:

bias (Merriam-Webster)

: a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly

Personal biases are beliefs that predispose us to think or feel a certain way.  What it means is that with a personal bias we go into a situation already holding some beliefs about it.  This clouds our ability to be objective and impairs us when we seek to approach all on equal footing.  It may impair our ability to treat others in a fair and just manner.  It is often drawn from a place of privilege, and thus becomes extremely important for us to be aware of our personal biases so that we can compensate for them in our interactions.  This can be seen especially in instances of working with individuals who in some way aren’t like us.  An example that is seen all too commonly in our society and in the media is that blacks in America are often viewed suspiciously, and that view is nearly always based on nothing more than the color of their skin and the personal bias that whites and white society has against them.

 

Professional Boundaries:

boundary (Merriam-Webster)

boundaries : unofficial rules about what should not be done : limits that define acceptable behavior

Professional boundaries are lines that we should not cross when we are acting in a professional capacity.  This often refers to things that are acceptable when we are not in our professional role, but that are considered out of line when we are. This can be things like drinking in public, close friendships, and romantic/sexual relationships.  If professional boundaries are set early in a professional relationship they are less likely to be broken since all parties will know where they stand.  For example, with my students, professional boundaries are clearly established from the outset.  They understand the dynamic, and even when working with my high school students, where those boundaries can relax a bit, there is still a line in our conversations and interactions that cannot be crossed.

 

Confidentiality:

confidential (Merriam-Webster)

: showing that you are saying something that is secret or private

: trusted with secret or private information

: marked by intimacy or willingness to confide

: entrusted with confidences

Confidentiality is when information is told by one person to another and the second person agrees to keep that information private.  In some cases confidentiality is explicitly understood.  This is often because it is either marked that way (often seen in the case of government secure documents) or the person sharing the information initiates the conversation with a phrase something along the lines of “can I tell you something in private?”  Confidentiality can also be implicitly understood.  This happens often in one of two ways.  Either the two parties are involved in some sort of relationship (romantically, platonically, professionally, or otherwise) where there is an expectation that information shared in conversation won’t be shared, or the information that is shared is expected to be recognized as confidential information due to it’s nature (often emotional or related to others relationships). In some states confidentiality between clergy and their congregation is also protected by law.

 

Right:

right (Merriam-Webster)

: morally or socially correct or acceptable

: righteous, upright

: being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper

Right is more subjective than other moral indicators. When something is right, it is often judged by a single person and determined based on whether or not it is in line with their worldview.  Right is often a qualifier to other words, such as socially right, morally right, financially right, etc.  Things that are right worldview are influenced by our ethnicity, our religion, our socioeconomic class, our education, among others things.  The different mix of these variables will lead to each person have a variable sense of what is right.  An example something that is viewed as ‘right’ is the belief that we should be sure that every person can receive the care they need to be healthy.  People may differ on how we go about that, but in general many, if not most, can probably agree that it is right for everyone to not suffer due to lack of care.

Wrong:

wrong (Merriam-Webster)

: behavior that is not morally good or correct

: an injurious, unfair, or unjust act : action or conduct inflicting harm without due provocation or just cause

: something wrong, immoral, or unethical; especially : principles, practices, or conduct contrary to justice, goodness, equity, or law

Like the indicator of right, wrong is also more subjective than other moral indicators. Something is wrong when it goes against an individual’s worldview.  This once again is often a qualifier for other words (social, moral, financial, etc.).  Things that are wrong in our worldview are again influenced by our background (ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, education, etc.).  The different mix of these variables will lead to each person have a variable sense of what is wrong.  An example of something that is viewed as wrong is murder.  Even if there are sometimes morally gray areas about whether or not someone should have been killed, murder is generally agreed upon as wrong, even if there is justification for it.

 

 

2) Self-awareness is key to the implementation of professional ethics. Discuss how your personal morals, values, bias and ability to maintain adequate boundaries, confidentiality and determine right from wrong might both positively and negatively impact your professional relationships. (200 words minimum)

 

My own personal morals and values have been helping me determine right from wrong for quite sometime now.  They are growing and shifting as I gain more life experience, and I hope that I will continue to be able to fine-tune them as I continue to grow.  I currently work in a field (education) where I have to work with a large variety of people, many of whom come from very different backgrounds than me.  I fell that this has made me more adaptable when it comes to understanding my personal bias on issues as well as negotiating the line of professional boundaries.  I’ve had to engage with my biases and work to understand how they are influencing me and how to overcome and account for them.  I’ve taken the time to unpack my invisible backpack and examine the privileges that I have in my life (McIntosh).  The fact that I’ve already done a lot of this work, and continue to do it in my profession everyday positively impacts my ability to carry over this knowledge into the professional relationships that I will develop as a priest.

The point that I think I will have the hardest time doing, and so will have to continue to be self-aware of, is working on maintaining professional boundaries.  In teaching, this hasn’t been a problem because from the very outset, the line is already there with my students and my coworkers.  This will be the same for people that I meet in the new role as priest.  I think the fuzzy line that I will have to carefully walk is with those people who I already have some sort of relationship with.  The folks that I am already friends with in my local community when they begin interacting with me in the way they would with a priest, I will have to walk that line.  I don’t foresee a problem regarding any romantic relationships forming within my local community, so while it is something to be aware of, it shouldn’t be a problem.  I will have to be careful that any favoritism I show, perceived or actual, is kept to a minimum because it will likely reflect on this new role.  This would negatively impact the professional relationships that I will develop as a priest.

 

 

3) Discuss how an individual learns to determine right from wrong and explain the factors that influence this determination? (100 words minimum)

 

As individuals we are conditioned from a young age.  We learn as children, both directly and through observing others, the way to act and how to speak.  Through positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment we learn what things lead to good results and what things lead to bad results.  As we continue to develop as adolescents and young adults we begin to learn more about determining right from wrong as we become more in tune with social pressure.  We learn that there are gray areas, and ways that we believe differently from those around us, or from the world as a whole.  This is evidenced by the multitude of posters that hang up around school buildings that say “What is right is not always popular.  What is popular is not always right.”  Throughout our lives we learn to determine right from wrong based on the values we place on others things in our lives.  For example, those who are religiously devout (or were raised in a religiously devout environment) often drawn on the knowledge gained in their religious studies to help inform their sense of right and wrong.

4) Describe several reasons why an individual would strive to “do the right thing”? (100 words minimum)

 

A huge driving factor in the motivation to do anything is “because it feels good.”  Part of our conditioning when learning to do the right thing builds on making us feel good when we do so.  It isn’t always a straight line, and there are several other factors that may go into striving to do the right thing because it feels good, but that is a huge part of it.  Sometimes a person will strive to do the right thing because it directly benefits them, and that makes them feel good.  Sometimes a person will strive to do the right thing because it will benefit their community, and doing good makes them feel good.  Sometimes a person will strive to do the right thing because they want to conform to the social pressure to do the right thing, and the level of stress that exists when we are fighting social norms and peer pressure isn’t there, so that feels good.  Sometimes people will strive to do the right thing because of a belief in karma, or “if I do good now, surely the universe will pay me back in kind later” and that reassures them, giving them hope, and thus making them feel good.

 

 

 

5) Discuss how an individual’s values relate to the decision-making process. (100 words minimum)

Because values are “those things we care about; those things that matter to us; those goals or ideals we aspire to and measure ourselves or others or our society by,” it is those values that allow us to classify each action as right or wrong, moral or immoral (Weston 3).  Our values guide our conscience, our moral compass.  When we are considering what action to take, or if we should take an action, we consult our moral compass, and what things we see as valuable.  If we value honesty, then we would be less likely to lie to someone because that would go against our view of what is moral.  By having a set of values that we can identify, we are able to consult those values when determining how our actions reflect or agree with them.

6) Discuss the importance of ethics to the clergy-lay relationship. Do you believe a clergy person has ethical responsibilities? If so, what are these responsibilities? (300 words minimum)

 

I think all people have ethical responsibilities, and this is especially true for people who have a professional relationship with others where there is a perceived or actual power imbalance.  Because priests within ADF are granted the mantle of priesthood by the Folk, it is essential that we interact with them in an ethical manner.  It is imperative that we approach the Folk with respect and fairness.  While being an ADF Priest does not necessarily make one a role model or a leader by virtue of holding that title, there are many who still place weight on the actions and words of those who wear the stole.  Whether or not it is asked for, having the title of Priest means that there is often an implicit trust that comes with it when dealing with the Folk.

The Folk trust us to speak with them in confidence when they come to us with a personal issue.  They trust us to not use that information against them, or to gossip about them.  The Folk trust us to act with fairness.  We must be careful not to show favoritism, and to be aware of what acts may be perceived as favoritism so that we can find other approaches. The Folk trust us not to use our title for personal gain, whether in the organization’s politics or in interpersonal relationships.  We should strive to get places based on our own merit, and not through use of our title.  This means that we shouldn’t attempt to “pull rank” for something that would benefit only us.  Additionally, we should be wary of building romantic relationships with the Folk because this can lead to distrust on many levels and between many people.

As a Priest, when working within the clergy-lay relationship, it is important to always hold that trust of the Folk in mind, and carefully consider our actions and words to ensure that we are doing as little as possible to harm that trust, and as much as possible to build it.  Being in a position of perceived power has many responsibilities, and requires that person to have a strong ethical sense in order to not abuse that power and harm those who have placed that trust and responsibility on you.

 

 

7) Discuss the meaning of confidential privilege, the laws in your state that provide for this privilege and the extent to which it applies to clergy-lay communications in your community. (200 words minimum)

 

Confidential privilege is the concept that when someone divulges information to another who is bound by confidential privilege that that information will not be shared except where required by law.  It is a crucial point of trust building between the clergy and their congregation.

In Ohio, clergy are not required to divulge communications held in spiritual confidence unless they suspect or know of abuse.  However, if those communications were in confidence, or if it is part of their ministerial duties, then they don’t even need to do that if it violates sacred trust. And in this case sacred trust means something that was said directly to the cleric and in the context where sacred trust in invoked.  I’ve included the sections of law that pertain to this below, with relevant passages highlighted.  However, because we don’t have a concept of “sacred trust” in our religion, the bounds of “sacred trust” and its related confidentiality don’t apply.  Additionally, because we don’t have any documents at the national level that allow for us to provide confidential pastoral counseling or related services as part of ministerial duties, those conversations are also not legally required to be held in confidence.  Because of this, ADF Priests likely don’t have any legal protections for confidential clergy-lay communications in Ohio. This is not to say that we should not abide by confidential privilege and respecting the trust that the Folk place in us when they speak to us in private. It just means that there is some uncertainty of whether or not that confidentiality would be protected in a court of law if it was demanded that we share.

Ohio Rev. Code § 2151.421(A)(4)(b)-(d)

A cleric is not required to make a report concerning any communication the cleric receives from a penitent in a cleric-penitent relationship if, in accordance with § 2317.02(C), the cleric could not testify with respect to that communication in a civil or criminal proceeding.

The penitent in a cleric-penitent relationship is deemed to have waived any testimonial privilege with respect to any communication the cleric receives from the penitent in that cleric-penitent relationship, and the cleric shall make a report with respect to that communication if all of the following apply:

  • The penitent, at the time of the communication, is either a child under age 18 or a mentally retarded, developmentally disabled, or physically impaired person under age 21.
  • The cleric knows, or has reasonable cause to believe based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in a similar position to believe, as a result of the communication or any observations made during that communication, the penitent has suffered or faces a threat of suffering any physical or mental wound, injury, disability, or condition of a nature that reasonably indicates abuse or neglect of the penitent.
  • The abuse or neglect does not arise out of the penitent’s attempt to have an abortion performed upon a child under age 18 or upon a mentally retarded, developmentally disabled, or physically impaired person under age 21 without the notification of her parents, guardian, or custodian in accordance with § 2151.85.

The above sections do not apply in a cleric-penitent relationship when the disclosure of any communication the cleric receives from the penitent is in violation of the sacred trust.

2317.02: Privileged Communications:

2) As used in division (C) of this section:

(a) “Cleric” means a member of the clergy, rabbi, priest, Christian Science practitioner, or regularly ordained, accredited, or licensed minister of an established and legally cognizable church, denomination, or sect.

(b) “Sacred trust” means a confession or confidential communication made to a cleric in the cleric’s ecclesiastical capacity in the course of discipline enjoined by the church to which the cleric belongs, including, but not limited to, the Catholic Church, if both of the following apply:

(i) The confession or confidential communication was made directly to the cleric.

(ii) The confession or confidential communication was made in the manner and context that places the cleric specifically and strictly under a level of confidentiality that is considered inviolate by canon law or church doctrine.

Chapter 47: Occupations – Professions

Counselors, Social Workers, Marriages, and Family Therapists (R.C. § 4757.41)

Chemical Dependency Professionals  (R.C. § 4758.03)

Exemptions.

This chapter shall not apply to the following:

Rabbis, priests, Christian science practitioners, clergy, or members of religious orders and other individuals participating with them in pastoral counseling when the counseling activities are within the scope of the performance of their regular or specialized ministerial duties and are performed under the auspices or sponsorship of an established and legally cognizable church, denomination, or sect or an integrated auxiliary of a church as defined in federal tax regulations, paragraph (g)(5) of 26 C.F.R. 1.6033-2 (1995), and when the individual rendering the service remains accountable to the established authority of that church, denomination, sect, or integrated auxiliary;

 

8) One of the main principles of ethics is to “do no harm”. Discuss the meaning of this principle as it applies to the clergy-lay relationship. (100 words minimum)

 

Regarding positive ethics Isaac Bonewits said

“We believe that ethics and morality should be based upon joy, love, self-esteem, mutual respect, the avoidance of actual harm to ourselves and others, and the increase of public benefit. We try to balance people’s needs for personal autonomy and growth with the necessity of paying attention to the impact of each individual’s actions on the lives and welfare of others” (Newburg).

The Hippocratic Oath is often (mis-)quoted as containing the phrase “But first, do no harm.” All actions have consequences.  Sometimes those consequences are positive and sometimes they are negative.  More often those consequences are a mixed bag of positive and negative.  When taken in the context of the clergy-lay relationship I think we must consider that we are trying to make the choices that will cause the least harm, and benefit the most people.  In this, we can always use active listening as a first strategy.  Additionally, we must have a strong moral compass, and have developed an ethical code that we can abide by, in order to have something to fall back on to ensure that we are doing the best we can to first do no harm to ourselves, to those in our community, and to the clergy-lay relationship as a whole.

9) Compare and contrast the Nine Virtues described in the ADF Dedicant Path and prominent values in the dominant culture of the country in which you live. (200 words minimum)

 

The Nine Virtues in ADF are Wisdom, Piety, Vision, Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Moderation, Hospitality, and Fertility.  Many of these are easily agreed upon virtues in the USA as well.

There is value placed on wisdom, and as a culture we encourage people to seek out those who have gained wisdom through their life experiences.  However, as a Millennial in the USA, it is also encouraged to seek wisdom from less established sources, and instead seek wisdom through personal experience gained by risk-taking and creative problem solving.  This relates to the virtue of vision.  We value the ability to see the bigger picture, and plan out ways to make that dream a reality.  It also relates in part to the virtue of fertility. We like to encourage freethinkers and those with creative minds.

There is value placed on piety, though in ADF we define piety based on the actions we take in our religion, rather than a certain set of ascribed beliefs.  There is also value placed on integrity.  This is holding true to the things that you value and to yourself.  In the USA it is especially valued to walk to the beat of your own drum and not to let others define who you are.  We have a certain flair for independence and take pride in our ability and right to be ourselves.

There is a huge precedence for the value of perseverance in the USA.  In is contained in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence that we are each entitled to “the pursuit of happiness.”  There are stories, myths, and legends about people in America who came here with nothing and through their perseverance built a life for themselves and became rich an famous.  Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is hugely valued in the USA.

Moderation is also something that is valued here, though it seems to be a value that has a variable degree of implementation.  One can be moderate in things from drugs and drinking, to consumerism, to sex.  We tend to see a lot a press given to enforce the idea of moderation as it relates to puritan ideals such as abstaining from drinking, drugs, and sex.  This contrasts sharply with the other part of the virtue of fertility.  However, there is less social pressure put on those who engage in rampant consumerism, and in some cases, society even seems to encourage this lack of moderation.

The last virtue, hospitality, is encouraged in American society, but it seems a bit more one-sided that the value placed on in in the context of ADF and the *ghosti relationship. Hospitality is a guest-host relationship, and each party has duties to hold to.  In American society the host often seems to have more duties and the guest less.  Think of parties you’ve attended where many of the guests leave without picking up after themselves, or family gatherings where someone always seems to overstay their welcome.

 

 

10) The Nine Virtues described in the ADF Dedicant Path are proposed as a starting point for individuals embracing a value system inspired by traditions of the past. Utilizing the ADF nine virtues, develop a Code of Ethics for your use as ADF Clergy. Describe how you derived this code from the Nine Virtues and how you would apply this Code. (No minimum word count for the Code; however the Code must contain a minimum of five principles; 300 words minimum for the description)

 

  • “I will pray with the Good Fire” – I will maintain my own practice and my own relationship with the Kindreds. In this way I will have the fertile soil in which to grow into my role as a Priest.
  • “I will lead others to the Flame” – This is part of my Initiate Oath, and means that I will not hoard my knowledge or skills.  I will be a good role model, guide, and teacher for all those who seek to walk the path of neo-paganism, and I will provide services relating to this path as much as I am able.
  • “I will be kind to others” – It costs me nothing to be kind to someone.  My words and actions have the possibility of deeply affecting others, and my kindness may be the only bit of hope a person sees that day.  I will also do what I am able to be sure that kindness is a priority in interactions that I observe and am part of.
  • “I will acknowledge growth” – This is two fold: I am constantly growing and as such should strive to continue learning.  Others are also constantly growing, and I should allow in my perception of them that they are continuing to learn. I will not hold grudges.
  • “I will be an independent and responsible person” – I will be my own person, and determine my own actions.  I will walk my walk, and not let others’ vision of me influence my path. I am responsible for my own actions, and will strive to remember that I am not responsible of the actions of others.  I will also fulfill duties that make me a responsible member of society and the priesthood, especially as it relates to the law.
  • I will be loyal and hold true to my word.” – When I make a commitment, those who are depending on me should be able to be certain that I will not back out, or that if I do it is for a very good reason.  I will speak truth whenever possible, admit when I don’t know, and seek out those who do know.  I will maintain the confidence of those who have trusted me to hold space with them.

 

In addition to the Nine Virtues, other ethical codes that have influenced my own code of ethics are The Delphic Maxims (Oikonomides), The Hippocratic Oath (“Various Physicians Oaths”), and the Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators.  I have broken down the Nine Virtues below to discuss how each relates to my Code of Ethics.

Wisdom:

Most of these points can relate back to wisdom.  I am sharing the knowledge I have gained, and thus providing others with wisdom.  I am acknowledging the places where I still have room to grow, and that allows me to continue to seek wisdom. Additionally, it takes wisdom to know what path I should walk, and wisdom to examine my own values and how they apply to my path.

Piety:

The act of prayer and maintaining my relationship with the Kindreds is summed up in the first point of my Code of Ethics: “I will pray with the Good Fire.”

Vision:

I have goals, and in order to see those goals come to fruition I am acknowledging that there is always room for growth, and that there is always room for improvement.

Courage:

It takes courage to be independent and walk my walk.  It can also take courage to hold true to my word when I may be pressured to do otherwise.

Integrity:

Integrity can be summed up in the famous line from Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.”  From the Delphic Maxims, one of the most well known is maxim #8: “Know Thyself.”  If we are in tune with who we are and what we desire we have the ability to begin to sort out what our ethics are, and how to live with integrity in our own lives.  I’ve had to examine myself in order to write this Code of Ethics in the first place, and when I consider how I will be an independent person, I need to first have a good idea of who that independent person is.

Perseverance:

Perseverance can be seen alongside integrity and courage.  In determining who I am, I will need to persevere in order to maintain that sense of self despite any obstacles I may encounter.  I will need to persevere in continuing my path of growth and in continuing to challenge myself.

Moderation:

Moderation is not as explicit in my Code of Ethics, but there is the implied expectation that I will moderate my behavior to reflect these points.

Hospitality:

“I will be kind to others” draws on hospitality.  Part of building a relationship of trust does as well.

Fertility:

This encompasses my dedication to continue growing, both as a person and as a Priest, as well as my dedication to helping others grow.  It is also present when I recognize that there is growth always happening.

 

 

 

Works Cited:

“Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators.” Education.ohio.gov. Ohio Department of Education, 11 Mar. 2008. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Teaching/Educator-Conduct/Licensure-Code-of-Professional-Conduct-for-Ohio-Ed/Licensure-COPC-for-Ohio-Educators_color.pdf.aspx>.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack.” Institute for Social Research. University of Michigan, 1 Jan. 1989. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <https://www.isr.umich.edu/home/diversity/resources/white-privilege.pdf>.

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com>.

Newburg, Brandon. “Integrity: Ethics and Pastoral Support.” The ADF Leadership Handbook, Chapter 10. Tucson, AZ: ADF Publishing, 2011. PDF file.

Ohio Rev. Code. Lawriter Ohio Laws and Rules, 2014. Web. 9 September 2014.

Oikonomides, Al. N.. “Records of “The Commandments of the Seven Wise Men” in the 3rd c. B.C..” Classical Bulletin: 67-76. Web. 1 July 2014. <http://www.flyallnight.com/khaire/DelphicMaxims/DelphicMaxims_CB63-1987.pdf]] >

“Various Physicians Oaths.” Physicians Oaths. Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.aapsonline.org/ethics/oaths.htm>.

Weston, Anthony. A Practical Companion to Ethics. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2002. Print.