Little Oaks: A Religious Education Program for Young Pagans

This year has been rough in a lot of ways, but through those difficulties some opportunities have opened up. One of the really hard decisions folks have been making right now is what to do about school for their children. The likelihood is high in my part of the world that we’ll have some or all eLearning this year, and many are considering pulling their kids out to homeschool entirely. With schooling at home, whether it’s full-on homeschool, school provided virtual school, or supplemental activities, there has been a lot of momentum about how to provide the best learning opportunities for our children. I’ve looked at homeschool curriculums, and plan on at least supplementing my daughter’s experience with one, and my son (who would have started preschool this year) will be doing homeschool completely.

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The *ghosti of Our Own Druidry

Five Gifts

Reciprocity is an essential component to walking the path of Our Own Druidry.  This is familiar to many of us in the context of ritual: we give gifts to the Spirits that we may build a relationship with them, and receive their gifts in turn.  This relationship of reciprocity is also important in how we interact with each other and with our community as a whole.  A healthy community is supported by the gifts of its folk so that it may then support each of those individuals.  There are many ways to engage in this *ghosti relationship.  Many ways to give, and many ways to receive.  We can give the Gift of Prayer.  We can give the Gift of Inspiration.  We can give the Gift of Community.  We can give the Gift of Wealth.  We can give the Gift of Service.  The more we strive to share these Gifts, the stronger our community will grow, and the more fulfilled we will be in Our Own Druidry.

The Gift of PrayerRta.  We maintain right action and right relationship with the Gods and Spirits.  It is important work to ensure that the proper sacrifices are made at the proper times.  We write liturgy and lead rituals.  We know the cycles and seasons, and we keep the High Days.  We pray on behalf of those who need and request it. When we commune with the Kindreds and engage in a *ghosti relationship with them, we are giving the Gift of Prayer and upholding the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Inspiration– Lead others to the flame.  We give workshops and create teaching materials.  We do community outreach and explain our beliefs to the curious.  We welcome those seekers of the Old Ways into our path.  When we ignite the fire within others that they may walk the path of Our Own Druidry, we are giving the Gift of Inspiration and brightening the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Community – One fire.  One hearth.  Our community with each other is what makes us strong.  We embody the spirit of Hospitality.  We can give the gift of community by being present and thoughtful in our online pagan communities, by attending and participating in our local pagan communities, and by being a listening ear and a sounding board to others in our community.  When we are consistently present in the lives of those practicing Our Own Druidry, we are giving the Gift of Community and being part of the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Wealth – Wealth that is hoarded is not wealth at all.  This is a common theme across our Indo-European Hearth Cultures.  When we give of our wealth, our tangible resources, we are manifesting the essence of “movable wealth.”  Do ut des.  “I give so that you may give” means that as we give in support of our community, they in turn will be able to give in support of us.  When we give of our monetary resources, we are giving the Gift of Wealth and supporting the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

The Gift of Service– Everyone in ADF is an expert at something.  Everyone has a talent or skill that can benefit others.  Sharing our special knowledge and our time is something that everyone can do.  There are many tasks in the work of Our Own Druidry that just require someone to donate their time, or their specific skill set, to see a task through.  We help set-up and tear-down ritual space.  We organize potlucks and take dishes home to wash.  We schedule and attend meetings.  We hold an office in a grove or subgroup.  We review coursework.  When we share our talents and our time, we are giving the Gift of Service and contributing to the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

Five Gifts: Prayer, Inspiration, Community, Wealth, and Service.  These are ways that we can give of ourselves to support the Work and Vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin.  In sharing these things we will find that we are given great blessings in return as our community is strengthened, we are valued and supported, and the path of Our Own Druidry is brightened.

Devotee vs. Patron

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is the difference between being a devotee and having a patron, and where they overlap. I tend to prefer saying “I am a devotee of ____” rather than “____ is my patron.” I think a lot of people probably use these terms interchangeably, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Often when I’m speaking in general conversation I will say that Poseidon is my patron because that is more understandable in most pagan circles than calling myself a devotee.

It is a small semantic difference I think, but a lot of it in my brain comes down to who belongs to who. When I say I am a devotee what it feels like I am saying is “I belong to Poseidon.” The line of power flows from me to him, and when things are unbalanced in our relationship, they weight towards him. When I say I have a patron what I feel like I am saying is “Poseidon belongs to me.” The line of power flow from him to me, and when things are unbalanced in our relationship, they weight towards me. I think another part of it for me is that there is little bit of fear laced in the idea of having a patron. Or maybe just with having Poseidon as a patron. The ocean is huge, unfathomable, and powerful. I don’t particularly want all of that focus on me. It is an awesome power to be able to tap into, but it is also treacherous. There is perhaps a likelihood that he is my patron in all of these ways that I shy away from, but I am still, after all these years, surprised at it.  I can say that I have no doubt that he supports me.  I have no doubt that he has been an integral part of my development in my spiritual life.  I have no doubt that he walks beside me and that I will continue to honor him.

The nature of our *ghosti relationship stays pretty even, and pretty balanced. There is give and take. I certainly feel like he looks out for me, has taken a special interest in me, and walks with me on my path. I honor him, I worship him, I make offerings to him, and I call on him when I have a need. Our relationship has certainly gotten more balanced than I think it used to be. I used to feel like he was demanding more of me than I was willing or able to give. I think most of the time now we’ve reached a comfortable balance. I am willing to give more, and he is willing to ask less, though he is still a demanding god. I think our relationship is at as comfortable a place as can be expected between a human and a God of the Sea.