Saturday, March 10, 2012
Week One of the ADF Dedicant Path
I've chosen to use Rev. Michael J. Dangler's ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year as a basis for my ADF Dedicant Path studies. It's a nice 52-week program that goes above and beyond the requirements of the Dedicant Path; plus I'm hoping that it will keep me on track! I'm notoriously terrible at things without a set timeline, but knowing I've got two or three hours of work each week will help me to schedule everything a bit better. So, without further ado, here is my homework from the first week's lesson: a series of questions about my relationship to the Dedicant Path.
"Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?"
I have chosen to because I want to grow in my spiritual practice. I have been Pagan for many years, but my practice is sorely lacking in focus and commitment. I am hoping this course of study can help me acquire the tools I need to have a truly fulfilling daily practice. I am also hoping that through this course and the ADF organization, I will find a community that I can connect with under the broader Pagan umbrella.
"Is this a step on your path, or will this become the Path itself?"
For me, this course is a step on the Path. While I'd like to be a member of ADF for a long time to come, I have other spiritual ventures and needs that I must also explore. Druidry is wonderful, but I think it will be only one part of my ultimate practice.
"What do you expect to learn?"
From ADF, I hope to gain much more knowledge about ancient ideas, practices, and Gods and Goddesses. I have never taken the time to explore the cultures of my ancestors, and I hope this path will provide me with the framework to do so. I also hope that, through the Dedicant's Wheel of the Year book, I will develop the discipline to establish and maintain daily practice.
"What would you like to get out of this journey?"
Again, a deeper knowledge of the myths and cultures of ancient Europe, as well as the discipline to maintain a practical daily ritual. So far, in my personal practice I have been making most of it up as I go along; and while I feel this can be a valid path and it has sustained me for many years, I think it would be helpful for me, at this time, to learn more about ancient ideas and practices.
"Do you know where this path will take you?"
Trick question, right? Honestly, I have no idea! My spiritual ideas, despite having been thought about and honed for years, are still very much in a state of flux. I feel, however, that the 'destination' is not really important for me - perhaps I will never settle down with one religion. What's important to me is the mental and spiritual journey; the self-examination and contemplation of the cosmos that may never yield any solid answers, but will nonetheless improve my life greatly.
"If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?"
A big part of the reason I chose to join ADF was because of this structured study method. While I also value the community highly, since I am very far from any Groves or festivals, it is the study and potential for spiritual growth this work provides was the main draw.
"Does it look hard or easy?"
In terms of the actual work involved, I wouldn't say that it will be easy, but it also doesn't appear overly difficult. It seems tuned just right for a few hours of work each week, which is ideal for me. Actually sticking with the work and disciplining myself into sitting down each week to do it, however, will prove to be a huge challenge for me. I certainly hope to overcome it, and I think the structure of the work will help me with that.
"Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?"
Most of the requirements appear fairly simple and straight-forward. The most difficult for me will be the ones requiring long-term work: the Mental Discipline and High Day Attendance requirements. Maintaining a journal of meditation for five months, as the Mental Discipline requirement asks, will be a huge challenge. Eight consecutive High Days will also be difficult, but more manageable. I am also a bit concerned about the ending Dedicant's Oath, but I suppose as I learn more about Druidry, this will seem less daunting. The book reviews, essays, and nature awareness requirements seem much easier to me - these are things I'm very used to and comfortable doing; so they will be less of a challenge, though still useful and thought-provoking.
"Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?"
I do have some doubts as to how my personal beliefs will fit in with ADF's requirements. The three worlds and three Kindreds, for example, seem to be taken quite literally in most of the ADF's online material; I tend to be less literal in my approach to deity. However, reading over the mailing lists, I have seen that there are many members with differing beliefs about polytheism, which allays my concerns somewhat. Also, who knows - in working with the Kindreds and the three realms, I may come to view them much more literally than I do now! I am certainly very open to this change.
I'm really liking the ADF program so far! There's a whole lot of material to work through, especially in the Wheel of the Year book. The Spring Equinox is coming up in a few weeks, and I'm hoping to do my first ADF High Day ritual - stay tuned!
Rev. Dangler, Michael J. (2010). Week 1: Personal Religion and an Introduction, The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year [kindle version]. Retrieved from http://adf.org