Saturday, May 7, 2016

Honoring -- and not honoring -- the Ancestors

               When I first came to Druidry, I ran into a stumbling block that had me questioning my decision for a while.  That was the honoring of the Ancestors.  Like most people in our culture, I had only thought of “ancestors” as being the people from whom I am biologically descended.  That, for me, was a serious problem.  I come from a long line of abusive and dysfunctional relatives, and there was no way whatsoever that I was going to include those people in my religious practice.  I did not want them to be part of what I turned to for strength and comfort.  These people, during their lives, had been the sort to upset and tear down others – especially me and certain other of their relatives – and I had no reason to think that death had changed them in that regard.
                At my grove’s rituals, I took part in the group offerings to the Ancestors, but my heart was never in it.  My personal devotionals and rituals did not even include Ancestor offerings or acknowledgement of any sort.  I didn’t want to call my ancestors into my home and life.  I had made conscious, deliberate decisions to remove myself from their influence, and to remove their influence from me.  The fact that I would always carry genetic material passed down from them was pretty much the extent of what I was willing to have of them in my life. 
                Then there was a moment that changed my view of the matter.  I’m a writer, and I have a favorite author whose work has always been very important to me.  I was re-reading one of her books and thinking of her – we had met and struck up a wonderful friendship which lasted until her death – and I had the thought “This woman has had more impact on my life than my own family.”  That’s when it struck me.  This was one of my Ancestors!  Not related to me in the biological or genetic sense, but someone instrumental in making me the person I am.  She had had an influence in my chosen work of writing.  She had been kind to me.  We cared about one another.
                This was one of my Ancestors!
                That one moment of realization changed everything.  Suddenly I could see the title of Ancestor applying to so many more people than just those to whom I was related.  It applied to anyone who had had any influence on who and what I had become.  Mentors and teachers, historical figures, even friends who had passed on…these were all among my Ancestors if they had shaped me into the person I am now.
                A moment of revelation.  And one that changed my entire view on the practice of Ancestor reverence.  Shortly after this revelation – mere minutes after, actually – I went to my altar to do personal ritual.  For the first time, I eagerly made offerings to the Ancestors.  And, also for the first time, I didn’t feel cold and distanced from the action.  I felt the approval of the few I had called upon and to whom I had given offerings.  I had made offerings to my Ancestors, and for the first time, they had responded positively.  It was because this was the first time I had made offerings to the Ancestors who were truly important to me. 

                Don’t think this one moment completely removed my problems with honoring the Ancestors.  It didn’t.  I still have some issues with it, because I still harbor some very hurt and unpleasant feelings toward my direct personal ancestors.  But this gave me a starting point.  My relationship with the Ancestors has improved since that day and continues to do so.  At least I can now say that honoring the Ancestors is a part of my regular personal practice.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

(Part of the Reason) Why I'm A Druid

               “I don’t see why you’re a Druid.  It would be so much easier just to be a Christian.”
                I hear this almost every time I go to any family event.  My relatives cannot understand my having left Christianity and fervently embracing Druidry.  In their lives, religion is something that you claim and profess to other people, and defend if anyone disagrees with it.  But that is almost the full extent of it.  There are some few principles one is supposed to incorporate into one’s life, but nothing more than lip service is paid to those ideas.  (This is far from the only problem my relatives have with my religious choice, but the others aren't appropriate for this post.  Maybe at some other time I will write about them.)
                That, least, was always the impression I got from it, and this was the religion in which I grew up, my first exposure to the concept of religion.
                What originally drew me toward Paganism in general was the more open and inclusive approach to belief.  But I soon realized that most Pagan religions were as likely to tell you what to believe as the Christian religion in which I had grown up.  That wasn’t what I wanted.  I didn’t want answer to be given to me.  I didn’t want “easy”.  I didn’t want answers to be given to me.  I wanted to search for them, and find them on my own.  Oh, I didn’t mind being given direction for that search, but I needed to find knowledge, not be spoon-fed.
                And so my search for a religious path continued.  I did a lot of research and finally realized that a Druidic path was closest to what I wanted.  Further research down that avenue brought to my attention the group knowns as Ar nDraiocht Fein, or ADF as it is more commonly called.  Reading everything on their public website pretty much made up my mind that this was the kind of group I needed.  I kept this group in mind while I searched other Druidic traditions.  Eventually, I came back to it, having decided that ADF was the group I needed.  I joined it and began seeking the knowledge I wanted.
                The practice of Our Druidry does not dictate belief.  This Druidry is a religion of practice.  What one does to honor the Gods is important.  How one lives one’s life is important.  What one believes – the opinions one holds – is not a matter for the church to decide.
                This fit me perfectly.  I had found a format for worship that could be shared with a community, but at no point did it dictate what I could do in my own personal religious practice.  I find so much power, peace, fulfillment, and joy in the Three Kindreds (Gods, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits), the Three Realms (Land, Sea, and Sky), and the Three Hallows (Fire, Well, and Tree) that I cannot imagine that I would ever seek out any other form of worship.
                I will be writing about these nine concepts, as well as all the other things that I find in Druidry in upcoming installments of this blog.

                So, as to why I am a Druid:  it is the spiritual practice, the religion, through which I can most fully and powerfully approach the gods to which I am drawn, and the system of practice through which I build relationships with Them.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Starting Things Off

I am one Druid, and these are my thoughts.  This blog is a place for me to post my thoughts and ideas about my spiritual, religious, and magical practice, as well as other thoughts that might even remotely pertain to such things.  This means that I will be posting my own musings, quotes from various sources, recommendations of books/movies/blogs, and links to sites of interest to me and perhaps to those who share some of my interests.  There’s also a chance that I will post some of my short fiction.  You have been warned.  LOL

Honestly, I don’t know if anyone but me will ever read this.  And it doesn’t really matter.  Of course, I would like to have lots of people reading it, but that’s not the real purpose behind this.  But…if you do read, please feel free to comment.  Even if you want to disagree with me, conversation is not a bad thing.