What’s going on with my DP?

This past year I have taken a close examination of many things in my life, have dropped some, have altered some, and have embraced others.

It’s no secret that I have really struggled with the idea of making the oath. I had basically quit ADF, by allowing my membership to quietly expire.

I have some issues with ADF, almost entirely to do with ritual structure and the Oath for the DP.

Now, to be clear, ADF has been very good to me. I love the people of ADF. I love the culture of ADF. My issues were never with the organisation as a whole, but more with my own struggle to define my spirituality.

I don’t like the ritual structure. In fact, I HATE it. I don’t like the memorizing of multiple pages. I don’t like the dryness. My personal rituals are a whole lot more visceral, and a whole lot less pageantry. Performing these rituals, whether solo as a requirement of the DP, or as a part of a group has felt forced and uninspired.

I feel weird about the whole concept of “Earth Mother”, which is an entirely modern concept, placed at the heart of every ADF ritual.

I feel uneasy that Manannan, my new patron deity, is assigned to the position of bouncer, and then ignored for the entire ritual.

And then there is the oath. I will not, will not, WILL NOT make an oath to be a life long part of any religion. As I have mentioned before, I made that mistake when I was 15 with Christianity, and felt very not okay with breaking an oath. I have no idea where my spirituality is headed. I know that it is headed further and further away from Neo-Paganism. Making an oath to any religion would only hinder my development.

But… it is important to me to finish what I start. I am half way through the DP. I could finish by summer. But I do need to make an oath. That’s the finishing test for the DP.

I had a talk with Lisa W-M (as my other mentor randomly unfriended me a few months ago after initiating daily conversations with me while I was at work for 2 years. oooookay? Whatevs) Lisa said that I do not have to make an oath to neo-paganism. I had thought about making an oath to my ancestors, but what if I decide all this is bullshit in 10 years? I will still have to live with the oath for the rest of my life. Lisa had said that someone had made an oath to the 9 virtues. THAT I can do. The virtues are very much in line with my personal values. I can absolutely make an oath to live these throughout my life. Also, I am fully comfortable making an oath towards excellence. Excellence is a core value of ADF, and in line with my motto “Mediocrity killed the cat”. We can all use to be more excellent in our lives. I think this rectifies the problem nicely. Well, at least the oath part can be rectified.

I am unsure of my future with ADF. Like I said, ADF has been good to me. I harbour no ill feelings, and no drama. I am just not sure it fits with my current spiritual cosmology. I suppose I will make a decision after the oath.

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Book Review 2- Hearth culture book

For my hearth culture book I chose “A Brief History of the Celts” by Peter Berrisford Ellis.  It is not actually on the DP reading list, so I sought special permission from the preceptor to use this book.  His other book, “A brief history of the Druids” is on the list.  I owned this book, and was looking for a chance to read it anyway, so it worked out well.

Each chapter describes one area of ancient Celtic life, depicting such topics as agriculture, roads, warfare and architecture.  There are three chapters relating to various spiritual dimensions  a chapter on the Druids, on the myths, and on the religious life of the average Celtic layperson.  

He discusses women in great detail, which is a great complement and contrast to the PIE book I read.  He sites many examples of women leaders, and other women who made history, typically by doing something appalling to the Romans.  It is very clear that, though women did not hold equality with men, Celtic noble women certainly enjoyed much more freedom and power than their Roman and Greek counterparts.  He sites Brehon laws which state that women could own property, administer religious rites as Druids, and even divorce their husbands for reasons such as snoring.  It seems that, though men still “wore the pants”, the freedom that Celtic  women experienced could be compared to women in today, where men still rule most of the countries and have most of the property, but women are far from powerless.

I know that many take issue with some of Berrisford Ellis’s pro-Celtic bias.  But, I’m a Celtophile myself, so this fit well.  I don’t think that the bias was that evident, but that instead he was seeking to balance much of the anti-Celtic historical documentation written mostly by the conquering Romans.  Berrisford Ellis strives for a great deal of academic accuracy in his writing, specifically in regards to the names of rulers, language translations, and the dates and outcomes of major battles.  He cites his sources well.  If he does have bias, he has the academic clout to back it up.

There were two matters in which I disagreed with this writer, both of which were rare times when he did not cite his sources.  My background is in psych and neuroscience, not archaeology, so I trust Berrisford Ellis’s judgement better than my own.  He further continues the belief that the end of harvest/ beginning of winter celebration, Samhain was named in honour of the Feast God- Samhaim, and disputes the theory that Samhain translates to “Summer’s End”.  I was under the impression than any entity named Samhain had been thoroughly ruled out, and that Samhain did in fact mean “end of summer”.  Despite Berrisford Ellis’s theory, I will continue to believe in the latter.

He said something else which made one eye brow raise.  It’s common knowledge that the Druids were competent astronomers.  Berrisford Ellis not only argues that, until the 1700s, astronomy and astrology were interwoven, and that not only did the Druids look to the stars for divination, but that they used the same Babylonian astrology charts that New Agers use today (ie Aries-Pisces solar year).  We know for certain that the “Celtic Astrology” of moons named after trees is entirely modern and the work of Robert Graves, but I am not convinced that the Ancient Celts would have recognized my birth in Taurus.  That sounds a little fishy to me.

Berrisford Eliis does an impressive job of recounting the numerous battles between the Romans and Celts, but fails to describe any inter tribal battles between various settlements, of which we know there were many.  Perhaps this is a bit of a white-washing of the history.

One of the most promising tidbits of this book was about the mythology.  Most Celtic Pagans are very aware of the richness of the mythology, even if only surviving through Christ-coloured glasses.  But, we have about 150 myths available to us.  That’s about 1/4 of all the existing Celtic myths.  There are about 450 more in vaults and libraries awaiting translation.  Essentially, we lack the academic knowledge, time and funding to have them translated.  How cool is that?  For a society famous for not writing stuff down, 600 surviving myths is impressive, even if they weren’t the ones who penned them.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book.  I found it academic, but not dry.  Insightful and to the point.  I think that this book should absolutely be added to the DP Celtic Hearth Culture reading list, along with its Druidic companion.

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PIE Book Review: The Myth of the Matriarchal Prehistory

I remember talking to this woman once about men. She said something like “Don’t you know how things were back in ancient times? All women were goddesses!” I rolled my eyes. I knew she was wrong. I knew that she ahd been mislead by New Age pseudohistory. But, I lacked the source material to have the intelligent debate. Now, I know what to say.

For my Proto-IndoEuropean book review, I read The Myth of the Matriarchal PreHistory: How an invented past won’t give women a future, by Cynthia Eller, and despite my procrastination to complete assigned academic reading, I am very glad that I chose this book. I seriously want to keep 5 copies in my purse for when New Agers start naively blathering on about “Ancient Goddess Religion” and all of the false, anecdotal evidence that “proves it”.

I was a student for a very long time. I had to read. It was in my job description to read. After I finished school, the last thing that I wanted to do was pick up a book. After a full year of non-academic reading, I slowly began to enjoy books again. And then I HAD to read a book. I had to read a book with dry language, big words, and cited references. Don’t get me wrong, I love knowledge. I buy books like some other women buy shoes, but I had a hard time reading something again that was required reading. It took me a full six months to get through this book of less than 300 pages.

This book seeks to debunk the myth of the matriarchal prehistory, the idea that, 5000 years ago, there was a Matriarchal, femal based society that was overthrown by patriarchy. Eller very carefully examines all evidence, from the conclusions drawn by femininist matriarchal researchers, to art historians and archaeologists. Mythology, art and stereotype are widely called into question. Eller shows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that not a shred of evidence for a prehistorical matriarchy ever existed. It is just simply a false, half-baked idea with no founding in actual history.

One way she demonstrates this is to look at prehistorical art with an unbiased eye. Those matriarchal researchers (such as Marija Gimbutas) like to point out that prehistorical art was “full of goddess symbols”. But to Gimbutas, everything is a goddess symbol, including both straight lined and wavy lines. Eller askes “Is there any other way to draw a line?” We can see that much of the Matriarchal “conclusions” simply lack hard evidence of any kind. Though there were certainly deities of both genders in many ancient cultures, those with stronger female goddesses actual treated their women poorer than cultures without these warrior goddesses. Rich women may have had some rights, but poor women were nothing more than chattle. At no point in history was there a patriarchal uprising or a monotheistic “Mother Goddess”.

Much of the modern reasoning of those who perpetuate the myth of the matriarchal prehistory is actually very harmful to the modern woman. They reinforce stereotypes and are incredibly sexist. “Female energy” is supposedly creative, nurturing, gentle and spiritual. “Male energy” is supposedly logical, cold, violent, and dogmatic. This teaches women that they should not explore careers such as military or accounting as they are “denying their true nature”. It also seeks to shame those who are not cis-gendered. These theories also blame women for their own cancer and reproductive issues if they are “not feminine enough”.

The purpose of this book seems to be to end the false belief of ancient “goddess traditions” and instead demand better evidence for what we choose to believe is true. Eller understands that her book is simply a starting point, and will not completely solve this problem, but will hopefully start dialogue and be a step in the right direction. She can tend to take a bit of a harsh, condescending tone, especially in the beginning of the book, but you would too if this was your field of study, constantly being walked over by pseudo-academia.

I very much enjoyed this book. I am glad that it made the reading list and would really like if it became a staple in the pagan movement.

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Just when I thought that I was back on track…

It’s Tuesday. It’s supposed to be DP day.

Work went from 1-120 almost overnight. Work ended an hour ago, but I’m still here, and will be for another few hours. There’s soooo much to do! I may not get relief until late February.

Work comes first. I love my job. But this also means that my DP is going back on the backburner.

However, I still have an oath to fulfill. I WILL be finished by January 26th, 2014.

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I’m Back. Crisis Averted

Just as my friend S was getting annoyed by popular bloggers having a public crisis of faith, I come out with this, go figure. I’m just a small beans blogger compared with others, but my blog does get around. Here you go S, my public crisis of faith, and how I resolved it with the help of Facebook.

I took a long break from my DP. I needed to. I had to sort some stuff out. There were two issues holding me back. One was an easy fix, the other, not so much. Until last night.

The easy issue: I lost my PIE book. I was reading “The Myth of the Matriarchal PreHistory” By Cynthia Eller. I lost the book. It was due week 26. Well, not really. It’s due when I am finished my DP, which is when I choose. But, in following Dangler’s WOTY, it is suggested to have it done at week 26. I could have bought another copy, or read another book. But, I was liking the one that I was reading. It was driving me nuts not finding it! I tore the house apart! But, it turns out that it was in my suitcase, in the pocket I never (well rarely use). I now have it and have started reading again from where I left off. I may need to just start the whole thing again. I used to be a voracious reader, but being a student for so long, when I had to read for 3 hours at least a day, I lost my appetite for reading. I still buy books at almost a hoarders capacity, but I just don’t have the same motivation to read that I did before school.

The hard issue: My dedicant oath. I blogged about this a few times. I take my oaths and promises very seriously. My word matters. I made an oath to “give my heart to Jesus” when I was 15. I spent the next few years in a fundamentalist Christian cult. I was young. I made a mistake. Leaving the church was the best thing that I did for myself. But, I need to live with the fact that I broke an oath to the gods. This is a big deal to me. But, at 15, I never would have dreamed that in 6 years, I would want nothing to do with the curch, and be rather disgusted by the stance on homosexuality, sex-shame and politics. I didn’t know how I was going to change. I made a decision about my faith only based on who I was at that moment. I made a terrible mistake that will never go away.

Now, I’m a member in good standing with ADF. I really enjoy being a part of ADF. There are a few things I take issue with (A Roman Druid? Didn’t they have their own priestly class?) but ADF really emphasizes self-direction. I do what works for me. If someone wants to call themselves a Roman Druid, it’s not my damned business. I like the culture of ADF. I like the philosphies of ADF. I like the emphasis on academia in ADF. For me, right now, ADF is where I need to be. But can I make an oath about my faith that I will agree with in 15 years?

Now, I am not asked to make an Oath to ADF. I am asked to make an oath between me and my kindred. Thing is, in 10 years, will I even believe in kindred? Maybe I’ll move towards atheism. Maybe I’ll convert to Catholicism. Maybe I’ll become a Buddhist. I don’t know. What I do know is that I am evolving. What I do know is that the person I am now, who is typing at this very keyboard, will not be the same person in 10 years. To believe anything else would be unhealthy.

I had originally thought that I would do some sort of dedication to myself and my evolution, or maybe even to my ancestors. But, that felt like a wishy-washy cop-out. Then D- a fellow ADFer- recommended that I put a 5 year time cap on my oath. What a great idea! 5 years is still a long time. I started to think about making my dedication at “a year and a day”. But, the “year and a day” wording felt really hoaky to me. Instead, I will renew my vow every January 26th. Why that day? That is the day my ADF membership fees are due. If I have some sort of change of heart about Druidry and my oath, it stands to reason that I would not be renewing my membership with ADF. Both my membership and oath would expire at the same time. This makes abundant sense. What’s more, I HAVE made an oath to complete my Dedicant path by the time my next membership payment rolls around, January 26th, 2014. I have bad habit of fighting tooth and nail for something, completing 90% and then flaking out. Even when I am reading a book or making a craft, I seem to fizzle at the 90% mark. I need to finish my DP and I need to do so before I finish 3 years. January 26th, 2014. This will be the date that I finish my DPP. This will be the day I make my dedicant oath to expire after one year.

I like this plan.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Taking a break

Hello folks!

I was really good at getting my DP stuff out every Tuesday, but I’ve decided that I need a little break.  I’m working on a lot o stuff with the Quantum Life Science Institute as well as the Dedicant Path.  I’m just about half way through my DP.  Probably after Samhain I’ll get back on track.

Just so everyone knows, everything is peachy.  Life is actually quite awesome at the moment.  There is no good reason for me to take a break, other than the fact that I feel like it.  Well, that and I haven’t started book one, and haven’t done the Two Powers meditation in ages.  I still have a (mostly) daily practice, just with a different meditation.

This means that I will not have completed my DP in a year, but there are no ADF police ready to chastize me for taking a tad longer.  In fact, I remember hearing the stat that only 15% of ADF members even complete the DP at all.

So, just give me some time to catch up and rest, and I’ll be back in Dedicant form before you know it.

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