Personal Paganism

Standing stone on Tresco. Photo by me.

Standing stone on Tresco. Photo by me.

This week, the Dedicant Path through the Wheel of the Year book asks me to reflect on the questions I considered way back at the start of the DP course.

Looking back, I wrote that I hoped to learn new ways to connect with nature and the seasons, and create a meaningful relationship with the natural world. I think that the continued Nature Awareness exercises have certainly made me more aware of nature in my local area, and the fellow-creatures I share my space with.

Meditation has proven to be difficult, as I expected, and I’ve stopped and started the Mental Discipline requirement several times. Currently, I’m working more on doing a short daily devotional in the mornings, with a very brief meditation, rather than anything more intense. Showing up to the shrine is half the struggle!

The DP allows you to personalise your Paganism, to focus on what speaks to you and develop a relationship with a particular “hearth culture”. Despite my Irish heritage, the Irish/Gaelic gods have never really seemed accessible to me, and for a while I worked with a Gaulish/Brythonic culture, as it is the closest historically to the area of the UK in which I live. But after visiting Norway recently, I am feeling drawn to explore a Norse hearth a bit more, especially the Vanir as they seem more like the “gods of nature” as opposed to the Aesir as “gods of civilisation”. What this might lead to in time, I have no idea.

As I have written before, I consider myself a naturalist and a deeply sceptical agnostic (I joke that I’m a godless heathen), so I don’t see the gods as literally existing beings, but as mythic personifications of the forces and powers of nature itself. In this way, Thor (for instance) is not a “god of thunder”, he is the thunder itself. This is probably a minority view in ADF, and I do occasionally struggle with the language of realist “hard” polytheism used, but I take comfort in the fact that the DP handbook says:

None of this ‘doctrine’ is required for the work. We present it here only as a core game-rule around which are systems have been developed, and by which they operate.

I am happy to use this language and “game rule” as a thought experiment for now and see if my experiences change my views over timeThere is an exercise given for this part of the DP to attune oneself to the Three Kindreds by way of a simple ritual. I intend to do this in place of my standard daily devotional for the next few weeks, so I will let you know how it works out!

The other thing this week asks is to reflect on the First Oath, supposed to have been made at the start of the course.I’ll admit I’ve been putting this one off. I have started and drifted away from other Druid or Pagan study programmes before, and feel awkward about making any oaths or promises, but I should really revisit this at some point soon.

Sign in woods near Bergen. Photo by me.

Sign in woods near Bergen. Photo by me.

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