DP Week 5: Nature awareness 1

Willow tree looking imposing

Willow tree looking imposing

This week’s Dedicant Path homework was to begin to practice ‘nature awareness’ by spending time outdoors in a natural setting, such as a woodland, park or garden. Since we go for long hikes in the local woods and fields regularly anyway, for this exercise my partner and I decided to simply sit in a spot in our back garden and see what creatures we share our space with.

Our garden is set up for wildlife as much as possible, with woodpiles, compost heaps, wildflower beds, a mixed lawn and a small designated ‘wilderness’ area of overgrowth, all overlooked by a towering willow tree. Location-wise, it’s nothing special, just another garden in a suburban development. Yet I was amazed at how much life there was all around us, when you stop to notice it.

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Ancient organisms

I came across this brilliant post on HuffPo via Jerry Coyne, over at Why Evolution is True and just had to share it. Photographer Rachel Sussman has travelled the globe taking images of the world’s oldest living organisms. The pics are great and the age of these amazing life-forms really bring home how small and brief human life is in comparison.

Edit: Don’t read the comments on the original article, they seem to have been hijacked by creationists. Sigh.

Baobab tree approx. 2,000 years old. Credit: Rachel Sussman

Baobab tree approx. 2,000 years old. Credit: Rachel Sussman

DP Week 3-4: High Day essay, Spring Equinox

Running just a little bit late, here’s my required essay for the Spring Equinox High Day. It’s a bit longer than the required word-count, so I’ve put it under the photo of the (very seasonal) quail chick:

Credit: Wikimedia commons

Credit: Wikimedia commons

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DP week 3-4: first High Day recap, Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox by  Amanda Clark at 'Earth Angels Art'

Spring Equinox by Amanda Clark at ‘Earth Angels Art’

OK, so I missed Week 3 so I’m sort of doing the weeks in reverse order since I celebrated my first ADF High Day this weekend. This week is the ritual recap, and next week I’ll post the High Day essay.

As the weather is starting to feel like spring outside (although today is dark and rainy), it’s time to celebrate the Vernal Equinox. While the astronomical equinox happened on Thursday 20 March, this is the closest weekend to the date so was the most practical time to do a ritual.

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Hayao Miyazaki and the Nature discourse

Treeshrew:

I just wanted to reblog this wonderful little article about nature and animism in the Studio Ghibli films of Hayao Miyazaki. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, check out ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ and ‘Princess Mononoke’ as a first place to start. They both have lots of environmental and nature spirituality goodness!

Originally posted on Treading the green path...:

Hayao Miyazaki is retiring after a long and wonderful career making beautiful films. After seeing the below compilation of his films, I wanted to write about the environmental and nature themes that his films evoke and how relevant they are to druids and the wider pagan community. Of course, there may be spoilers!

But first, pretty things.

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DP week two: The first oath

This week, the DP assignment was to make the First Oath. I admit to being pretty nervous about making a ‘binding oath’ at this early stage in the journey, especially since I have previous experience of starting a new spiritual commitment and it not quite working out for me. However, I was reassured to read that the oath is emphatically not an oath to ADF or a vow to finish the DP, but rather a sign of commitment and dedication to your own path.

The wording of the ‘standard’ oath in the DP manual, whilst very nice, was not quite what I wanted to say and since the DP encourages you to personalise your oath, I used it as the basis to write my own version.

The most significant change is that I describe myself as seeking the wisdom of the Gods, not as worshipping them. I am more of a pantheist/animist and archetypal or ‘mythological polytheist’, so I am not sure that I could describe my relationship with the Gods as one of worship, but I can certainly seek wisdom from the old myths in which they appear, and the powers and strengths that they symbolise. I also let myself have a ‘loophole’ written in that allows me to stop if I feel the DP is not for me at any point. All in all, I am very happy with the wording of my oath, which I have posted below the cut:

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My first ADF working

For ‘extra credit’ because I’ve always been one of those students (I know, I can’t help it!), my partner and I decided to do the first ritual suggested in Our Own Druidry, the DP handbook. This ritual is simply called ‘Your first Druidic working’ and is a very simple devotional that makes use of some of the key concepts in ADF Druidry such as the two powers of fire and water, and the three Kindreds of ancestors, nature-spirits and deities. Here’s our first attempt at a home shrine/altar set up:

Shrine. Credit: Crypticraven

Shrine. Credit: Crypticraven

We’ve got a version of the ADF triple hallows with the fire represented by three candles, the well being a lovely blue stoneware bowl with a seashell in it that my partner picked up on the beach on holiday (so the water is symbolically connected to the sea) and the world-tree being a houseplant that is growing far too big for his (yes I personify my houseplants) pot. When he gets re-potted and moved I’d like to have a Bonsai there. The skull is covered in Celtic knotwork and represents the ancestors. On the right is a fossil ammonite which serves as a reminder of our evolutionary origins and the deep age of the earth, and a small figure of a meditating wizard/druid that we picked up in a little shop in Cornwall.

The ritual itself was incredibly simple, and beautiful in its simplicity. There was no Wiccanate ‘faff’ with set-up, no casting circles, consecrations, or calling quarters, just lighting the candles and silvering the well. I drank a toast of beer to the ancestors, nature-spirits and deities and that was that more or less. It felt like something I could see myself doing as a daily devotional in the mornings and/or evenings. As a first experience with doing ritual in an ADF style, it was very positive.