I first began my work on the Dedicant's Path in 2012, when I originally joined ADF. I had been Pagan for years or so prior to that, but I had never felt called to a particular pantheon or group of deities; instead my spirituality was largely centered around nature spirits and the Earth Mother, and a reverence for the mythology of JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion. I stayed in this place for a long time, trying to reconcile my generalized understanding of deity with ADF's emphasis on treating the gods as individuals. In July of 2013, uncertain of whether or not ADF was truly for me, I posted a question about Tolkien's mythology on the general facebook page. It engendered a wonderful discussion, and set me on a path to develop a new way of thinking about the gods and spirits; and also encouraged me in the pursuit of study with ADF.
One particular piece of advice I received was to look to the cultures and mythology that Tolkien was inspired by. I decided to pursue this idea, and ended up studying the Germanic deities, eventually arriving at the conclusion that my Earth Mother who I had honored for so long was Nerthus. I also began flamekeeping for Brigid with a group on the forum eCauldron, and pursued a relationship with Manannán mac Lir. As I continued to study and practice, I also began forming relationships with Frige (Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Frigga) and Thunor (Anglo-Saxon Thor) by offering to Them in both traditional and non-traditional ways: usually beer for Thunor and time spend crocheting for Frige. As I learned more about traditional Germanic views of land wights through reading Kvedulf Gundarsson's Elves, Wights, and Trolls, I also began honoring my local landvaettir in a more traditional way; pouring offerings over a stone in my backyard once per week. I did a great deal of genealogy work, learning about my ancestors and my past, talking to my grandmother about how she was raised and all the people she loved and remembered who were now passed; and working to build relationships with them through offerings as well.
As the summer unfolded into winter, and winter to spring, I continued to feel called to honor more deities of both the Irish, Anglo-Saxon, and other Germanic pantheons; to the point where my devotional and ritual schedule got a little crazy. I would offer to the Germanic, the Irish and the land wights as separate groups once a week, and also add in individual offerings to those deities I particularly honored, which had now grown to include the Cailleach, Danu, Oghma, Skadhi, Frey and Freyja, Eostre, and Hreda. It was an incredibly busy schedule, and soon began to be unsustainable while also caring for my three children and keeping up with the housework (usually as an offering to the house wights)!
Near the end of May of this year, my computer suddenly went caput, putting me out of contact with most of my Pagan friends and cutting off my primary avenue of research (not to mention completely arresting my progress on the DP). Getting a new one right away was not financially feasible, so I made do with what I had, and as the weather grew warmer and the sunshine stronger I spent more and more time out of doors connecting with Nerthus and the landvaettir. Now, I do not possess a 'god-phone' as some call it who hear the deities speak directly to them or can easily meet the gods on otherworld journeys. But I spent a great deal of time this summer just sensing, and meditating on the nature of the gods.
Later that month, my grandfather died. I withdrew from almost everything around me, stopped offering to most of the deities I had honored before, and focused my attention on what I knew I needed to get through my grief: the spirit of my grandfather, Nerthus, and the land. A few weeks after his passing, I went to the place where his ashes were scattered (the graves of my great-grandparents), and performed my own version of the ritual 'sitting-out' of the Germanic peoples. I kept vigil on the graves through the night, meditating and sharing offerings of Crown Royale, asking the spirit of my grandfather to visit me. And eventually, he did. Not in a physical or even auditory manifestation, but as a presence I could sense was him, just as you'd know without looking if your mother walked into a room. I told him I missed him, and then felt there was no need, because he would be with me as long as I remembered him. I came out of the cemetery that morning knowing just where to go next.
Later that week, I made time for a ritual devoted to communicating with Nerthus through divination. I asked Her, with the runes, how I should steer my personal practice going forward; since the way I had been doing things was unsustainable for me. Her message was very clear: I have always loved Her and loved the land, and my focus should rest on Her and the gods of the land, Her children and the gods of Her pantheon.
Since that time, I have kept up my offerings to my Ancestors (especially my grandfather) and my offerings to the local land wights. I also continue to offer specifically to Nerthus, by thanking Her for each meal and leaving a small bit of it to be composted. I have begun a new weekly practice of ritual and offering to specific members of Germanic pantheons: Frey and Freyja, Thunor, Sunne, Njordh, Gerda, and Jord – which is still a rather long list, but having one ritual of offering to all simplifies things greatly. I also honor Sunne, Eostre, and Earendel (possibly an Anglo-Saxon god of the morning star, but that's largely my UPG) with a quick prayer to the dawn every morning. It's certainly possible that in the future the scope of deities that I honor will once again widen further; but for now, this is where Nerthus wants me to be – and I believe that in pursuing this goal, I will be able to form an even deeper relationship with the Kindred that I honor.