The Imperfect Druid

Last October, a week before Samhain, I joined ADF, an international druid fellowship.  I was looking to learn more about the neo-pagan community and hoping to meet some pagan folks in town.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but I went forward with the thought that I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try.  ADF has an academic path that you can follow if you want to get deeper into the classes of the organization referred to as the dedicant’s path.  You don’t have to do the dedicant’s path, but it is laid out for any who like the challenge and want to pursue further study within the organization.  I haven’t followed it like I originally intended.

I made a promise to Hekate to try out the druid way for a year.  I have done some study, but I have not done all of the required writing to go along with it.  At times, I seem to forget about it entirely until the next wheel of the year holiday.  I have been able to attend a local ADF group that holds some of their holidays in my hometown.  This has introduced me to a few other pagans and educated me more about the local pagan community.  I am still so shy that venturing out of my little group seems like a stretch.  Even going to the holiday rituals that my proto-grove holds the next city over (only 45 minutes away) has been too scary for me to attempt yet.  I feel like an outsider, and yet I still feel a part of the rituals.

When I was younger, preserving the ecosystem was very important to me.  Twenty years later, I feel so out-of-step with the young want-to-be-activist that I was.  As a member of ADF, I could call myself a druid, but I have a hard time referring myself as such.  I don’t recycle as much as I should or could.  Going to some place new to do something that I haven’t done before seems overwhelming, whether it is dropping off cans at the recycling center or dropping clothes off at the local Goodwill.  I recycle more than I did before I joined, but I am still working through my fears.

ADF is focused on Indo-European pantheons, so my Kemetic leanings make me feel out of place at times.  When I joined ADF, I was much more focused on the Greek pantheon.  Right now, I don’t have a specific Indo-European pantheon that I explicitly focus on for ADF.  My proto-grove changes up which pantheon it focuses on for different holidays.  I will probably stick to the Greeks or the Norse to include Hekate or Loki.  I currently don’t feel comfortable performing a full ADF ritual solo, though I do like celebrating as a group.  I could add less intense druid rituals to my practice.  I don’t know if I will.  I do plan on putting more time into researching the core ideas of ADF.

I”m going to the Midnight Flame Festival, a regional ADF festival put on in September by the Grove of the Midnight Sun.  It will be my first big pagan gathering.  I’m driving up to Michigan with some local ADF members.  I am very excited.  The pantheon being honored is the Norse pantheon, so I’m hoping it will bring me closer to Loki.  Hekate has been very patient with my multiple interests.  I do feel that she led me to the Netjeru.  However, I still feel obligated to learn more about neo-druidry while I am a member of ADF and possibly see how it could fit in with Kemeticism.

A Kemetic Update

I’ve been doing my daily divinations and then ignoring them recently.  Create!  Create!  keeps echoing back to me, but I’m so scared of doing it wrong.  Today I am going to fight the fear, put my trust in my Gods, and try to get some information onto my blog.  I picked up some books relatively recently, including How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Mark Collier and Bill Manley.  I’m trying to make time for more research on the kemetic side of things.  I’ve been spending some time on tumblr, meeting fellow kemetics and gleaning some information there.

Imhotep, the healing card from my Book of Doors deck, popped up again a few days ago.  Apparently, I’m afraid of enlightenment.  I have to admit that as much as I always seem to want change, I am also afraid of how it will look if it happens.  I want to get closer to my Gods, but what will the results look like?  I think that I blame the Christian/Catholic God for my bipolar illness, even though I know that is silly.  When I got sick in my late teens and early 20s, I felt completely abandoned.  I’m afraid of getting closer to other Deities and then feeling abandoned again.  I know that my illness is biological and not anyone’s fault.  It’s hard to remember sometimes that support is out there.

I classify myself as a hard polytheist, and yet I worship Sekhmet-Mut as a syncretic deity.  I’m still trying to sort that all out.  It’s easier for me to be on the hard polytheist end of things, but I don’t know if that is where I’ll stay.  At some point, I will have to investigate Hermeticism, and see where it fits into all of this.  I’ve also found people that practice Kemeticism and still include some Christianity in their devotions.  I’m not sure if this means anything for my future.  Right now I am focusing on building relationships with the deities that I currently worship.  However, I did go through baptism and confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church, and someday I may have to address that.  I also still talk to and depend on my guardian angel.

I feel that my Kemetic Deities have been gentle and protective of me recently.  Perhaps it is because I had a little more trouble taking care of myself lately.  I’m doing better now and thinking more clearly.  I am trying to hold onto the thought that my Gods return my love.   All I should need to know is that I love Them, but it is nice to feel Their love in return.  Kemeticism is not the only area that I have been working on, but it still has taken precedence in my practice.

Loving Gods

What does it mean to me to love my Gods?  Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I was taught to love the Christian God above all.  The teaching of putting the Divine first has stayed with me.  To me, loving Gods means to put Them first in my life.  I don’t have to always agree with Them (They don’t always agree with each other), but They have wisdom beyond my abilities.  Because I love Them, I want to please Them.  This means trying to improve my life in ways that They would approve of and trying to follow Their advice.  This also means giving Them gifts and sharing with Them both because I want to and because it pleases Them.

To love my Gods means to feel joy simply from knowing of Their existence.  I bask in Their presence.  I strive to please Them.  I praise Them because my heart runs over with happiness.  They deserve honor.  I thank Them for all the gifts that They have given to me.  I make offerings to Them in order to share a part of myself and my life with Them in a small way.  Sometimes the love that I have for my Gods is like the respectful love that I have for my parents.  I am in awe of Their abilities and the traits that They hold dear.  I seek out Their protection and advice.  I want to bring Them honor.  Other times it is like the intimate love that I have for my close friends.  They make me laugh and cheer me up.  They make me take a serious look at my actions.  They make me want to reflect back the love that I feel from Them.  I would never classify my love as purely one way or another.  My Gods fill my life in so many different capacities that it would be impossible to pigeonhole Them into one area.

I feel love for my Gods when I see Their fingerprints on my life and the world around me.  This love fosters love and respect for Their handiwork.  A book reminds me of my love for Djehuty, which causes me to cherish the book more.  His love for knowledge is encouraging me to go back to school.  A strong, compassionate act of a friend reminds me of my love for Sekhmet-Mut, and I cherish this friend more as she embodies one of the traits I love about my Goddess.  The sunny day reminds me of Shu and Ra.  I feel a love for the brightness that They bring to life.  My coworker who likes to play practical jokes reminds me of Loki when he cheers me up.  I ask for help, and it shows up.  My Gods are present in my life, and I feel Their love.  How can I respond in any other way than loving Them back?

Living in Ma’at

Written Yesterday, 9 May 2014

I understand ma’at to mean balance.  My life has been rather unbalanced of late.  Today was the first time I did any worship at my altar in five days.  I haven’t been taking my medicine to keep my bipolar disorder in check.  For me, living in ma’at begins with taking care of myself.  This means keeping up my hygiene and taking my medicine.  It extends to getting to the grocery store and doing some basic cleaning in the home.  Spending time at my altar is also part of living in ma’at for me.  I’ve been talking to my Gods, but there is something special for me about taking time to do more formalized worship at my altar and divine my Gods’ advice and responses.  I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with work and life lately, so I have been withdrawing.  I gave primary importance to less important things and forgot the importance of caring for myself.  I can’t help others or my Gods if I’m not taking care of myself.  I finally took my medicine this morning.  This afternoon I sat at my altar, offering incense, candle flames, and prayers.  I did some basic divination.  My Gods are not mad at me.  They understand that I struggle at times to live in ma’at.  Now that I’m feeling better, however, it is time for action.

Part of living in ma’at with bipolar disorder is taking advantage of the times when I’m feeling better.  My divinations confirmed that it is time for me to act.  I feel somewhat like I’m starting over at the beginning, trying to build a balanced life and practice.  Every step is movement forward, even if I’ve taken those same steps forward in the past.  I can’t say that I’m out of the dark yet.  Living in ma’at with bipolar disorder requires constant adjustment.  I must push myself when I can and remember to nurture myself when the most I can do is get out of bed.  I imagine that living in ma’at presents different challenges for different individuals.  I don’t think that my challenges are any easier or more difficult than anyone else’s difficulties.  They are just mine.

I’ve enrolled in a full load of summer classes.  This will require me to find balance in order to succeed at the classes and my other projects without becoming overwhelmed.  When my life is in order, I can contribute to the order of others and the universe.  I have a month until classes start.  It is time for me to start easing myself back into a healthier routine.

Written Today, 10 May 2014

Balance seems like only an initial descriptor for living in ma’at.  I’m not sure how else to define it.  Perhaps balance with integrity.  It is sometimes translated at truth, order, or justice.  I am trying to learn what it means to live in ma’at with spiritual and moral integrity.  I need to work on making the right choices even when it doesn’t always feel good.  I have been having a lot of issues with anger recently.  I am striving to make the choices that I know will lead to order even though I want to make the choices that make me feel vindicated.  I need to put my ego aside and choose what it right for the overall good.  I have let a lot of resentment built up from not speaking up for myself in the past.  Now that I am finding my voice, I am going too far in the opposite direction.  I am trying to learn how to maintain balance without sacrificing my voice.  It is a challenge.  I am looking to my Gods for support and guidance.  Living in ma’at takes work.