Devotion Gone South

I’m sure it happens to Pagans of all varieties from time to time, but to have a morning ritual just go utterly south feels so disappointing.

I’ve read of similar instances from my dear friend – and the primary reason I started into ADF – the Druid in the Swamp, that it /does/ happen.

As she states in her Trance and Liturgy Journal:

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“Murphy’s Law of Wells

If:

  • You are already close to running late
  • Your well didn’t get water in it yesterday because you forgot to fill the cup
  • You do your devotional at 5:30 am before caffeine
  • You are trying to establish a regular practice but still get to work on time
  • Your well is a beautiful wooden bowl made of pieced woods in different colors that was a gift you can never replace

Then:

  • Your wooden well will have cracked along a seam in the bottom from having water left in it the last time you did ritual
  • You will not notice this until half the well has emptied out the crack in the bottom, soaking the entire top of your altar
  • You will be out of paper towels in your altar room, and will have to make a mad dash to the kitchen to get some
  • Your old ceramic well will be full of wine corks, which have no other place to go, so you will have to leave them in a pile on the counter
  • When you empty your old well, it will be full of cork dust, so you will need to wash it

And then:

  • By the time you finally get back to your devotional, you will have forgotten what steps you did and have to start over
  • Making you at least 10 minutes late getting out the door”

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Granted, it’s the weekend, so time wasn’t really my issue, so much as the disruption of my offering bowl sliding off one side of the stand and pouring my gift to the Ancestors on the porch. My first was flickering so I emptied some of the excess wax away from the wick and got paraffin all over my fingers and the votive holding the candle. Then I poured out the Outdweller’s beer near where I’d returned the other offerings to the earth, vs on the other side of the porch like I’d been doing.

And I basically just spent the entire ritual and the few minutes after it, apologizing over and over, and was really glad that I hadn’t intended to ask for anything from the start. I just wanted to give and it felt like I’d fumbled the wrapping on the gifts, forgotten to remove the price stickers, and then tripped and dropped everything on my way to give them.

I’m sure it’s all part of the learning process, especially since I’ve never been the ritual type, so almost all of this is completely new to me. But until today the devotionals had been, well, very calming, even though I wasn’t getting the words right and was probably doing a lot of stuff out of order. Today it feels a bit more like I went into it nicely dressed and came out with my hair in a muss and dirt and wax everywhere.

Fortunately I have two solid weeks to work the kinks out of things before celebrating Ancestor’s Night, so that’ll be a good thing.

~Blessings
Quin

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First Devotional

I did my first Devotional today.

I feel very relaxed afterward, even if I felt a little clumsy and intrusive during the ritual itself.

I cleansed the area I was working in (my apartment patio) with a sage smudge stick, asking for guidance while I worked.

I’m sure I got something out of order, because I wasn’t sure if I setup my offerings before or after opening the Gate. I opened it first, filled the bowl with water, lit the candle, acknowledge my stand-in tree, and then burnt the offering of incense.

I babbled to Heimdall, or any ancestors or other spirits who may have been willing to listen the entire time. I went with Heimdall because the Norse pantheon spoke to me the most while I was reading up on things, and maybe it spoke a bit louder because according to a DNA test that’s where the bulk of “me” comes from.

What little I know so far leads me to believe that Heimdall sees a lot – if not everything – if I was going to be a tiny little unsure speck in the vastness I wanted to make sure someone who was good at noticing could hear me.

I spoke about my concerns, about my desire to honor the gods, to honor the cosmos, to honor life. I spoke about how clumsy and unsure I was, and I asked for guidance and help in this journey so that I could both grow and be useful in whatever capacity I could.

Finally, after I felt calm I listened for a few long moments. The clouds blocked the sun, the wind blew – it didn’t feel like a bad omen, there was something comforting about it. More like I was being protected by the clouds and that stale air was being blown away to make room for something new, or different. Something came across my vision, a bird of some kind, but I couldn’t open my eyes to see it until it had left.

I drew three runes and set them in front of myself.  I don’t know any of the runes off the top of my head so I had no idea what I was looking at. I forgot to thank everyone for their help (I think, I might have said something but I don’t remember right now). I took a sip from the bowl because it seemed right to share it and be a part of it – I don’t even know why I did it, other than it felt the thing to do.

I put out the candle, poured the bowl out, and let the incense be. I closed the gate and sat on the patio for a long moment before pulling out a book to see what my runes might mean in relation to what I talked about and felt.

runes

The first is how they came out, the second is just flipping over the one that was face down.

The first is Naudhiz which according to Taking Up The Runes is a sign of frustrations, blocks, but may also be hopeful as a chance for growth and change.

This makes sense to me because I was frustrated and blocked coming into the my first devotion. I felt lost and was stumbling because of that. Outside of the immediate however, I have personally felt a bit off. Not horribly so, but enough that I’ve been questioning if my art is really the way to go for me. This run makes me feel like I need to persevere in both endeavors, and that there will be times when neither will be easy, but the rewards for my self, my spirit and my life will be worth it.

Next was Othala, and it was face down AND upside down. I’m not sure how to take that at this point, if I should’ve read it differently, but we’ll see. According to the book it’s basically full of meaning – from one’s place in their family or community, to their place in a group or with the land or even to their inheritance (be it land, psychological, physiological, etc), or inner nature and essence.

I’m cemented soundly in my family, always have been. Community maybe a bit less, but I’ve the desire to improve on that especially as of late. I’m not sure about the inheritance, but to me the inner nature and essence just kind of leaped out at me.

It was upside down and turned over, in a knot, like I am. I’m walking along to find myself and to figure out where I fit and how I can be a better me, and it’s like the path solidifies when I plant my foot, but I’m never really sure where to plant it, and the path keeps shifting and changing while I’m trying to make up my mind.

But I’m going to find it, this is the feeling I get from Othala – that I’m tending to things and there’ll be a learning curve, but this is my center, my inheritance, and I’m making my way toward it even if I’m stumbling along the way.

Finally I drew Jera and it’s meaning is summer, the year, the movement of time and the flow of energy.

Jera to me is the last nail I needed. It’s the reassurance that I will find my flow – it’s reassurance that devoting a Year to walking the ADF path was the correct way to go. It quietly assures me that this is the correct path, while affirming that the result will be equivalent to what I give. I can’t just half-ass this and expect a ginormous return.

And maybe – though this might just be me being dramatic – Jera gives me the sense that I have a natural gift for the Flow. Maybe not in manipulating it, but in seeing it and knowing that it exists. That there’s definitively this cosmic connection from star to planet to person to bug to death to life and it’s not necessarily in that /order/, that there’s not exactly an order at all, but it’s all connected. That we’re all bits of billions of stars that are bits of us and there’s this heart beat if you can just hear it.

Validation

This is about to get pretty personal, and pretty gritty, and has almost nothing to do with searching for one’s faith. So, I apologize for diving into the dark, but you’re welcome to take this as a warning and stop reading here, or come into this walk with me – I promise, the ending is good.

 

 

My biological parents split when I was crazy young – for reasons between them and no one else, in my opinion. When I was almost 6 my father married Woman A. Woman A was a bit of a nightmare, though I will admit she did do some good things for me and her mother was probably the best I could’ve hoped for.

For ten years Woman A was unpleasant. She threw me down stairs on two occasions I can remember, beat me bloody with a spaghetti spoon at least three times, and informed me on several occasions that I was quite worthless and fat and stupid. When I was 12 she informed me that I’d grow up to be a worthless homosexual failure like my mom.

In her defense, I wasn’t an angelic child. Self-preservation has done its best to convince me that what I did wrong was mostly reactionary, but experience has taught me that I can be irritating. Though, I imagine you could argue that experience is based on being who I am now which was influenced by who I was.

Regardless of its source, it took a long time for me to start to realize that I didn’t deserve that treatment. I had my flaws, and I still do, but no one deserves to be made to feel as though the very act of breathing is an inconvenience.

Some years ago, Woman A apologized. Tears, sincerity, and pain as she spoke. Apologizing for what I endured, what I never deserved, what was a flaw of hers and not mine. I felt vindicated for the first time in decades. I thanked her, at the time, and left without saying much, but it was nearly a week before I stopped crying. Twice during the ten years I’d been living with her I had attempted to take my life, and this might be the first time I’ve admitted to that.

Last Saturday something similar happened. My grandfather – a man I admire and respect even if I’m fully aware of his flaws and shortcomings – told me he was proud of me. That I was doing “Excellent.”

I used to joke that most people set the bar _ here, and grandpa set the bar – here,  but if you were Family, grandpa set the bar somewhere in the Title Bar of this post. Not because he was mean, but because he wanted you to constantly be the absolute best you could be. It guaranteed that you’d succeed, and that’s what he wanted for his family.

Unfortunately for him, I spent most of my life feeling like a complete and utter failure, a total waste of space and life and a terrible inconvenience forced upon the rest of the world. So my grandfather’s hopes for me beat angrily against a darkness – made worse by how I didn’t talk to people about any of this because I didn’t want to be a pest.

But here I am.
Vindicated.
By a woman whose apology lifted the weight of the world from me,
And by a loving Grandfather who made sure I knew.

So, maybe not the way I meant to kick off Blaugust, but it is what it is.