The Three Kindreds and My Theology

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” I, King, have dealt with the Gods for three generations of men, and I know that they dazzle our eyes and flow in and out of one another like eddies on a river, and nothing that is said clearly can be said truly about them.” C. S. Lewis, Til We Have Faces

In ADF we refer to the “Kindreds”, the three classifications of spiritual beings that we honor and work with in our rituals.  The three categories of Kindred are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones.  By and large all three have some representation in most Indo-European Pagan cultures and their practice and worship.  I’ll explain how they tie in to my personal theology later; for the moment let me describe them and my understanding of them in general as well as with an eye to Norse Hearth Culture (in ADF we often associate with a particular Indo-European culture for the purposes of study, worldview, and practice).

The Ancestors

The Ancestors are venerated in most cultures across the globe.  The term Ancestor literally refers to those of your physical lineage; those whose blood runs through your veins.  It is widely believed that of all categories of spiritual beings, they are the ones most likely to take interest in your day-to-day activities and the ones who care the most directly about you.

In Heathenry the Ancestors are given a special place of veneration.  They are often those called upon first in any sort of rite as they are kin and Germanic Paganisms hold the value of familial bonds in high regard.  In the Eddas and Sagas we see great importance placed on your direct ancestors as well as those married in to your blood line; all seem to be honored together.

There is a tendency in modern Heathenry to compartmentalize them into Alfar (male ancestors) and Disir (female ancestors).  This is not part of my practice or belief for a multitude of reasons.  First and foremost, as a transgender person I am aware that there are and have always been people who do not identify as either male or female (what we often refer to nowadays as “nonbinary” people).  The sharp gender divide excludes them as Ancestors just as sharp gender divides exclude them from participation in many activities and organizations nowadays.  In addition, I have found far more reference to the Alfar as nonhuman supernatural beings in the Eddas and Sagas (such as Delling, the Red Elf of Dawn) and there have been recent discussions that have suggested that either “Alf” was a synonym for “Van” (one of the primary tribes of Norse Gods) or an entirely different classification of divine beings.  As for the Disir, while they do seem to encompass some of the female dead, human ancestors are not the only figures given that title.  I believe that the confusion arises from the fact that the feminine protective spirits that are the Disir are often inherited or carried along family lines.

In addition, this system leaves little room for veneration of the dead that are not direct ancestors or ancestors by marriage.  There are many dead heroes who are honored throughout the Sagas as well as in our modern daily life and I feel that having no legitimate category for them excludes an important part of human veneration for the dead.

As my understanding of the dead does not fit well within the Hearth culture that I have chosen to practice, I have had to adopt compromises in my practice.  I honor the Ancestors of Blood; those of my family line and those who were married or otherwise bonded to them.  I also honor the Ancestors of Heart; the Beloved Dead, those who I have loved in life who may not have been direct ancestors of mine but who have passed on from this world.  The dead who I have not known personally but whose words and actions have inspired me I refer to as Ancestors of Spirit, or Heroes, and they receive my veneration and offerings as well.

The dead cling to us; we have a unique connection to them in that what we are now, they once were.  The Ancestors surround us, as they have interest in what goes on in the halls of the living.  The Ancestors care about us and respond to us, as we are their current physical connections to this world.  We are their eyes and ears and hands and mouths in both a literal and metaphysical fashion.

The Nature Spirits

It is not unusual to come to a natural place and feel a powerful presence there.  Even when alone, it seems that the very air around you is listening and paying attention to you.  This is a sign of the attention of the Nature Spirits, those spirits tied to locations and aspects of the natural world.

Most Indo-European cultures acknowledge spirits of individual locales.  The Germanic cultures held them in high regard as well, with the Norse referring to them as landvaettir (or land-wights) and making offering to them and attempting to heed their wisdom.

I find this category frustrating because often it seems to be used as a catch-all for those who are neither fish nor fowl, so to speak.  There are many spirits of different types that are spoken of in our mythologies that do not fit aptly into any of the categories provided, and in ADF practice I often see them relegated to the status of Nature spirits.  Among the Germanic and Scandanavian cultures there are many hosts of these beings from the huldafok (or hidden people) to the Alfar (again, the name is used in many different contexts), the mosswives (who lead men to their doom through their comely but ultimately hollow bodies) and the dveger (the dwarves who dwell beneath the earth, misshapen crafters of great skill).

While I understand how many of these beings do not fit well into the other categories, I do not associate them with “Nature Spirits” simply because they (often, but not always) dwell outside the bounds of human civilization.  When I think of land spirits I think of beings tied to particular locations, or those who watch over particular breeds of animal or varieties of vegetation.  I share the world with them, as I walk through their terrain every day; most houses have their own spirits, as well as the land that they are on and the region that they are in.  In addition, there is suggestion among modern spirit-workers who spend time building ties with them that there is some kind of local hierarchy, something that I have experienced in my own practice when working with the nature spirits of the Genesee Valley.

The Shining Ones

“Shining Ones” is a term that we use for the mighty Gods, beings of great power and (often) wisdom, whose wills and powers shake the world around them and change the world.  Nearly every culture has analagous beings, often described in very human terms of tribe and lineage, of personality and connection.

Among the Norse there were two primary tribes of Gods: the Aesir and the Vanir.  The Aesir have been described by some as Gods of civilization; many of their qualities and stories relate to aspects of human life such as sovereignty, poetry, and war.  The Vanir have been described as Gods of Nature, as those whom we know of are venerated in prayers for fertility, prosperity, love, and weather.

I am personally distrustful of the “God of X” construct.  I prefer to try and know a God through lore and direct experience rather than reducing them to what feels like a mail-order catalogue list of attributes that they are called upon for.  Thus the distinction of “Gods of Nature” and “Gods of Civilization” falls flat for me.  The Vanir are Gods who work with more than just the cycles of the world; Freyja is a lady whose powers of magic are well known and whose ties to war are indisputable, Freyja, Freyr, and Njord are all associated with gold and material wealth, and in the one line that refers to him as such Heimdall is said to be skilled in foresight “like the other Vanir”.  The Aesir are likewise more than mere “Gods of Civilization”; Thor’s power is tied to the thunders that shake our heavens, and Odhinn provides breath and is considered by some to be a master of the wind itself, Gefion brings about the good from the Earth and Hodur is often called a God of winter and darkness.  When personal stories and attributes of the Gods are investigated, these simplified tags that we use to describe them tend to lose their significance.  They are all powerful, complex beings in their own rights.

Personal Theology and Understanding

My personal communion with the land spirits has provided me with an understanding and perspective that has helped to tie things together for me.  At one point while sitting with them I asked why it felt like I was two things; why I was sure that my body was of this earth but that there was a part of me that no matter what felt separated from the physical aspects of this world.

Many parts of their explanation go beyond the scope of this essay. However, parts of it helped me to understand the world in ways that I hadn’t before.  It gave me perspective on spiritual matters that revealed an underlying theme in my polytheism.  The spirits claimed explained that the divisions we make are based wholly on our perspective.  Where we see different varieties of spirits, they understand as the same sort of being at different stages of their development and existence.

To the vaettir I spoke with, an Ancestor was merely a spirit who had done time as a human being.  A God was a powerful spirit (or perhaps many spirits who answered to the same name and had similar goals).  A land spirit was a spirit who inhabited a part of the land.  Some Nature spirits were spirits that had incarnated as animals or who watched over plants.  Some spirits fit into parts of the Universe that we as living humans have no connection to or cannot even comprehend.  Different spirits did different things over the course of their existence, and the vaettir alluded to some Great Dance of the spirits, as they changed roles or performed different tasks over time.

Living humans fit in too, part of us is a spirit bound into flesh.  This explains why sometimes dead humans may become Gods, how Gods can become incarnate as humans, how humans may become associated with the spirits of the land, how a living human may feel that they were once a wolf, and many more things.  We spirits change positions in the dance, and while those positions influence our history and other qualities we are not limited to single roles.  We flow endlessly around and through one another, incarnating and discarnating and choosing or being assigned roles by some authority or authorities beyond my ken.

We are all part of the same dance and process, and the inner part of us is shared with the mightiest of Shining Ones as well as the baby born this very moment.  That does not mean that our roles are irrelevant; far from it – they are valuable and powerful and important for us to carry out.  We are separate and discrete entities, except that we may take the same role as others at points in our existence.  We are all different, except that those differences are defined by the functions that we take on.  We are all the same, in that we come from the same place and dance the same dance as the rest of the spirits, though when we clothe ourselves in flesh or other substances the whole of the dance becomes more difficult for us to see.

It is right that we call them Kindred as well as the Kindreds, because we are all of a kind, just holding different positions at this time.  They are our kin, our family, and ourselves.

Wellspring 2015

I was hoping to start this post with something like, “Pagan Church Lady, reporting on location at Brushwood Folklore Center for Wellspring 2015!”  Sadly, I could find no wifi and neither my lovely Fraulein (that’s my laptop) nor my Kindle (I don’t have a name for her yet) were up to the task of connecting to the Grand Interwebs.  It was probably for the best – I wasn’t allowed to hide behind a screen or avoid the notice of others.

Too much went on for me to record how I felt about all of it, so I’m going to give you the highlights of what I witnessed and participated in.  I know that I won’t be able to include everything worthy of note and I’m sorry for what I missed (most notably the Warrior games and Bardic stuff). I didn’t realize how insanely busy I’d be if I decided to participate in everything that I wanted to, but I slept solidly every night (except the night where it dropped below freezing) as a result.

Getting to meet everyone was wonderful.  I often had to tell people that I was “glad to put a voice to the words” since I know so many fellow ADFers through Facebook and their writing.  It was an honor and a privilege to be in good company like that.

So, highlights:

Opening Ritual:

We processed from the crossroads to the ADF Nemeton, and singing, filed in.  The rite was warm and welcoming.  It kind of felt like it was the “Initiating the Rite” “Purification”, “Establishing Group Mind”, and “Statement of Purpose” for the whole festival (for those of you familiar with the ADF Core Order of Ritual).  With the rite’s focus on the Earth Mother and the spirits of the land at Brushwood (which was a theme in many of the rites I attended, which made my happy) it also felt like the “Honoring the Earth Mother” – again, appropriate for an opening since it’s one of the things we do first in ritual.

I got to stand in a circle and sing the portal song with maybe thirty or forty other people while folks whose names and works I’d only read before honored the Sacred Center and helped to open the gates between the worlds.  Although I’ve attended three Groves’ rites now (and numerous large-scale public Pagan rites), there was a power in it that I’ve never experienced elsewhere, and it set a tone for the whole festival.

Stone Creed Grove’s tent

On the coldest night of the festival we were lead by the siren call of voices raised in song (yeah, Druids sing a lot apparently – fortunately there are usually enough of them that they can’t tell that I can’t sing when I join in).  On a frigid night it lead us across the campgrounds to the tent of Stone Creed Grove, where we were welcomed and waved in and joined in as a completely packed tent (I counted over twenty folks at one point) drummed, played guitar, messed with noisemakers, and sang Pagan campfire songs/ritual chants.  The faces were red with enthusiasm and joy and voices were raised in fellowship.

Some of the songs were familiar, and some were new (one of the ones that stood out in my mind out was a song about Isaac Bonewitz’ wake).  The tent was tightly packed – at one point I was sitting between a pair of swinging hips on one side and the violently jerking elbow of a drummer on the other and worried that my head might be pulped if ever the two met (there wasn’t much room to move without being even more awkward), but I came out of the tent later unscathed and refreshed.  The brief time I had in Stone Creed’s tent that night did as much to make me feel at home and part of the fellowship as much as any of the grand rites did.

Hecate Rite

We went to the crossroads, because that’s where we assumed that a rite for Hecate would begin processing.  We were wrong, but one of the clergy came and found us and lead us to where it was beginning.  We trailed through the assembled Druids, picking people up and waving them in for a spectacular twilight rite to Hecate Soteira.  It was interesting timing, as I had just completed a term of devotional service to her, and I felt far more comfortable at the rite than I would have before this past year.

I’ve never been to an Hellenic rite before, and while I don’t feel a pull in that direction it had a beauty and power that I appreciated.  I have a deep respect for Hecate and for the clergy who performed the rite and I’ll never forget the depths and clarity of the sky as we called to Ouranous nor the fading/lingering daylight as it slowly slipped away through the rite.

Norse Kin Meeting

It was wonderful to meet other members of the Norse Hearth Kin and discuss updates and future plans with them.  We discussed the dearth of information available on mainland Germanic mythology (as opposed to Norse, something that we’re still working to track down more sources for), increasing discussion of trance/seidh, magic, runework, and other esoteric practices, Rodney Cox’s Order of the Raven and Falcon (a magical order within ADF dedicated to Odhinn and Freyja) and other things that are slipping my mind (but I’m sure we’ll catch up on).

We also did a blot and trance right after the Unity rite.  It involved working with the places that ADF imagery and Norse imagery overlap particularly well (Flame, Well, and Tree, the Hallows).  I’m used to using Yggdrasil for journey work, but this was the first time for some folks.  It was a private journey for each of us that bore some surprising fruit for me (those who were there will understand).  It was also good to just be doing esoteric work with other Norsey people, Heathen or otherwise.

Seidh Lecture

I had mentioned that I was excited that Patricia Lafayllve was going to be there, and she surely didn’t dissapoint.  She did a presentation on the aspects of seidh that are rarely discussed nowadays (including all of the cursey and negative stuff) – a lot of it read like a list of things that witches and shamans the world over claim to be able to do, which I appreciated.

Another interesting aspect of the lecture was the connection between the Finns/Saami people and seidh.  She discussed places where the Saami were mentioned in Sagas and how their practices, appearance, and how the Northmen felt about them may have influenced both modern and old Northern Pagan faiths.  I can’t wait to read and hear more about it – my roomate Jim and I geeked out about references to the Finns in the Sagas once I returned to Buffalo and I’m sure that there will be more discussions and inquiry sparked by it.

Oracular Seidh

Patty also did an oracular seidh rite.  I always appreciate seeing different styles of trance and variations within traditions.  It was certainly different from the seidh/oracular work that I’ve witnessed, participated in, and trained in myself.  There was no bringing the entire group with her to where she went (she actually asked us very specifically not to follow her), nor were there lots of songs (other than when she called to Freyja at the beginning of the rite).

The answers that I received from my own questions were heavy and have left me pondering and “puzzling ’till my puzzler was sore”, and I’m grateful for them.  I appreciate being able to be there for what I consider an important form of “magical community service” and to witness a skilled seeress in action.

I did walk away with serious amber envy.  I thought I was all Freyja-blinged out with my amber earrings and ring and sunstone bracelet… nope.  Patty had enough amber strung on her apron dress (there we go again with the apron dresses!  One of these days…) to practically form armor, and every other woman with an association with the Lady came with ropes of the stuff (or so it seemed).  I felt very small when the observation was made that amber was a sign of a woman’s wealth in the old days – but then again, most of what I find of it goes to Freyja’s horde anyway (and given my current financial situation, it wasn’t entirely inappropriate).  Maybe I should let myself keep some occasionally, too.

Freyja’s Ve

It’s always threes, or at least it should be – Patricia also brought her travelling ve (basically a shrine) to Freyja.  While I’ve been aware of Freyja since my childhood the serious devotional relationship and dedication to her that I’ve developed lately started the first summer that I encountered that ve (which I believe was 2009(.  It was also involved in many other important wheels turning in my and others’ lives, so I have a history with it and it was good to see it and use it again.

Within the tent is a godpost for Freyja, bedecked with ropes of amber and other bright jewels.  Spread out on a cloth around the post are a wide variety of treasures that people have dedicated to her – jewelry, bottles of liquor, artwork, shiny things, and of course, amber everywhere. Soft rugs and shawls lined the corners of the tent.  I made some private offerings and had some time to commune with her in a place where she is closer than normal.  I also brought charcoal and a cauldron to light it in and offered her some small pieces of amber through the coals. That’s a scent I will never forget – the scent of a sap of a tree millions of years old, sweet and piney and pure, sacrificed to the Giver.  I could never bear to made burnt offering with it before, but like they say, if it hurts, it’s a good sacrifice.

People of the Purple Feather Ritual

The People of the Purple Feather is the LGBT special interest group within ADF.  We had a meeting where we got to introduce ourselves and discuss plans and hopes for the future, and the idea of doing a ritual for our SIG came up.  While it was too late to do something official, a few of us wanted to do something anyway, so Chris from Wild Onion Grove and I spent the next couple of days discussing and planning it and spreading the word.

We were given the stone circle right by Druid Heights to perform the rite, a very public and open place.  As a result we had people join who had just wandered in, unsure of what was going on.  Each of them ended up having something important to contribute, however.

The rite was dedicated to the LGBT dead, and was done in Norse Hearth Culture (calling to and honoring Norse deities for certain parts of the rite, specifically Bragi for inspiration and Heimdall as our gatekeeper).  The rainbow-based invocation of Heimdall was especially beautiful, and we also called to Oscar Wilde as a queer ancestor for inspiration.  When it was time to call the Beings of the Occasion, we each named LGBT Ancestors of blood, of heart (chosen family) and of spirit (those who have inspired us) and called them to join this rite in their honor.  We called to people who have been outcast and confused and hurt, to those whose lives were publicized and to those whose names we’ve never heard, to those who died of violence, of suicide, or of other causes, to those who shouldn’t have had to be alone and might have spent their entire lives feeling that way.  We called to the homosexual people, the bi and pan people, the trans people, the agendered and asexual people, and every color of the rainbow that we could think of, and we each offered water into the great offering bowl for them as part of the Key Offering.  Afterwards we made individual toasts to those who had passed.

For the return flow (the blessings that we receive when we make offering) we stuck our fingers in the Well, the Gate to the Underworld, and asked for inspiration and blessings from the LGBT Dead and sat in meditation to listen and hear if any of them bore messages for us.  It was an especially powerful experience for me as an Ancestor that I’ve been working with for a little while came forward in a big way and made herself heard to me (I’ll talk more about her at another point).

Not an eye was dry, and for an impromptu rite I think we did some powerful mojo.  It felt good to get together with another tribe that I am a part of and celebrate and honor the Dead that we share.  I’ve often wanted for queer pagan space and rites.  I pray that their inspiration and blessings pour out through us into the rest of our communities.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll emphasize it now – especially for our folk, reach out to your Ancestors.  They are grateful to be known, to be celebrated, to be heard, to be honored to be acknowledged at all, and they have so much to give us.  They want to, and they will, and all we need to do is open the way and ask.  You don’t even need to know any of them by name.

Unity Rite

The main rite on the last night was a powerful experience.  Gifts were brought from the various regions that ADFers occupy to honor the land spirits in those places, and many varieties of Ancestors and Shining Ones were called to and honored.  I was excited to see Kirk Thomas (the Archdruid)’s Gate Opening and Closing – I’ve heard that they do it differently on the west coast and that he is the origin of that style, and it was wonderful and powerful to witness in person.  The ecstatic spinning with the robe and staff was very reminiscent of Sufi dances that I’ve seen.

Drawing that connection between earth and sky, Cosmos and Chaos, between us and each other, between all of our groves and solitaries (who were mentioned first in the roll call!) was immenseley powerful, and I felt the web that we worked to reinforce radiating outward from its burning center across the world.  I’ve participating in long-distance linking rites before during my time with the Fellowship of Isis and it’s one of my favorite types of large-scale workings – I like the feeling of drawing our disparate wyrds more tightly together.

I was happy to see the Nemeton in full use.  I’ve been going to Brushwood since ’99 and before this Wellspring only saw it used once before (by Whispering Lakes Grove for Beltaine of 2010).  It’s a beautiful space, but one that is made even more so by putting it to the use that it was intended.

Chenille Canopy

So, I didn’t go. (Long term readers will know that this is something that I’ve been agonizing over).

I am a genuinely (as in diagnosed) bipolar person and those dizzying (and sometimes dangerous) heights are often accompanied with soul-crushing lows, and I was experiencing one of the latter while the Chenile Canopy meeting (ADF’s unofficial womens’ group) was happening.  I was fighting my inner demons of dypshoria and low self-esteem, coping with bad brain chemicals, and couldn’t make myself go to a space where I was afraid that I would have to justify my presence – it happens a lot for trans women in womens’ space.  When we’re not specifically made welcome we assume that we are not welcome at all, because it’s often easier than having to fight for it and be turned away because someone uses an aspect of our anatomy to define our identities.

I do, however, regret not going.

I know that others who I’ve met online have told me that it would be accepting, but it was different to hear it in person.  When I expressed my concerns later I was taken aside by one of the organizers and vigorously encouraged to attend whenever I had the chance.  She explained to me that it is open to anyone who identifies as a woman, and that trans women are never a problem there.  Having someone talk to me about it and convey it in person made all of the difference for me.

I miss womens’ space, and I especially miss Pagan/spiritual womens’ space.  It’s a wonderful and powerful thing and I’ve had far too little of it over my life.   If I ever get a chance again to go to a Chenille event I’ll be there in a heartbeat.  If you’re a trans woman and a member of ADF and have the inclination, please do so also – not only are we very specifically welcome, but our voices are needed there too.  All women, regardless of anatomy, are welcome to be a part of it.

Other notes:

Doing multiple big trance rites in a day means you should be grounding hardcore and all the time.  I thought, “It’s okay, I can take it.  I’ll be fine and it’ll be cool and trippy.”  It was indeed cool and trippy, but I had to be physically guided back to the tent when my limbs stopped listening well and just kind of wobbled in place; I could barely walk.  It was embarrassing and uncomfortable and hope to prepare better next time.

I made a small offering at Isaac Bonewitz’ memorial and felt deeply frustrated that we had been at the same camp at the same time numerous times and I never met or spoke to him.  I’m grateful to him for getting the ball rolling on this, and for a lot of his other work as well.

Sometimes doing loads of spiritual stuff makes me crave the touch of the mundane just a bit.  I found myself thinking at one point, “I need to do something left-brained.  I need to do math or something.”  It probably would have been helpful.

I don’t know if it was just the space and people used to dealing with trans people but I didn’t get misgendered once the entire weekend and I didn’t need to tell anyone what pronouns to use for me; they figured it out on their own.  I had long stretches of time where I was relaxed enough that I didn’t need to think about gender stuff at all.  May it someday be that way for everyone who wishes it so, all the time.  It certainly made me feel comfortable, at home, and not awkward in a way that I’m rarely not awkward outside of queer space (I had ninety-nine other social awkwardness factors but gender wasn’t one!)

Wellspring had so many powerful events and moments that no matter how much I write I’m going to feel like I’ve left things out.  The brewers’ competition, Emerald’s fantastic class on ritual crafting, Kirk’s impressive class on sacrifice and offerings, the fire at Druid heights, the late night, drunken, nerdy conversations, the piquancy of the closing rite and wrapup all deserve honorable mention but even so I feel like I’m not doing it justice.  I’m in love with the land at Brushwood and have been for a long time, and I feel at home with the other members of Ár nDraíocht Féin (even when we don’t agree, and even when we don’t agree very loudly and in each others’ faces) and that’s a new but welcome feeling.  It felt like an unexpected homecoming, a Wellspring of frith and community love and stories (oh so many new stories!) and new friends and family.

I also would like to give a special thanks to the readers who came up to me to chat.  Being recognized like that gave me the warm and fuzzies in a huge way, and I hope that someday soon someone does something that nice for you.

Ghosti!

Virtue: Integrity

(Following is my essay on the virtue of integrity, one of the Nine Virtues honored by ADF and one of the most important to me).

Integrity has at least two common definitions.  The first is the quality of being morally upright, honest, honorable, and having strong moral principles.  The second is the quality of being whole and undivided.  For my definition and understanding of integrity as a virtue I find that the second definition will be more helpful.

What do honoring oaths, honesty, and maintaining strength in your own identity and convictions hold in common?  They are all qualities of a person who is whole.  To lie to others by speaking untruths and to lie to yourself by violating your own principles renders you less than whole.  As thinking beings, much of the world and how we interact with it is created by our thoughts, both shared and private.  Rendering those thoughts false in the face of reality devalues them, and makes us less than whole.  Violating the trust that another holds either by not properly representing the truth or by breaking a promise to them devalues the bonds that you hold with that person – and those bonds of trust are as real as anything that we construct and that influences our lives.  Devaluing those bonds erodes both the identity of both the violator and the violated.

Maintaining integrity is a matter of making sure that your words and thoughts match your actions and reality.  It is  is a necessary quality to cultivate to have a healthy and wholesome relationship with yourself and others, and thus is one of the most important aspects of the foundation of community.

The Ár nDraíocht Féin Dedicant’s Path

So in this post I’m going to talk a little about the ADF Dedicant’s Path, because at least one thing that I will be doing regularly on this blog is adding postings relevant to it.

Ár nDraíocht Féin is a pagan church and organization.  It emphasizes lore and scholarship and embraces all pantheons and cultures that are results of the Proto-Indo Europeans, from the Vedic cultures of the Indus Valley to the Celtic and Norse cultures of Europe.  The founders wanted a rigorous program of study for the clergy, one that other organizations would admire and seek to pursue as well.

The Dedicant’s Path is a course of study and practice that opens the way to the rest of the organization; once you’ve completed it you can move on to the Clergy or Initiates’ programs, or join a Guild or Order.  You don’t need to complete the Dedicant’s work to be a lay member, but you do if you plan on advancing in the organization and finding further training.

It was a boon to me to find a course of self-regulated, structured study; I haven’t had anything like that since my time in college.  I was encouraged to join by my (non-Indo European) Matron Goddess, Isis, at a time when I was feeling a lack of community and path.  This certainly fulfilled my need, as now I’m a Grove Organizer and have more community nationally and worldwide than I can handle sometimes.

Anyway, some of the requirements of the Dedicant’s Path include essays on the organization’s virtues, holy days, required reading, and other pertinent subjects.  I will be sharing some of them here, under the Dedicant’s Path tag and other appropriate tags.  I hope that you find as much value in reading them as I did in writing them.