Personal Religion and Hearth Culture

A brief account of the efforts of the Dedicant to develop and explore a personal (or Grove-centered) spiritual practice, drawn from a specific culture or combination of cultures. (600 word min)

Inadequate Adequate Excellent
·      Word length under
·      Uninvolved, lack of practical application
·      Lack of spirituality or spiritual growth
·      Word length adequate
·      Research and practice with one or more hearth cultures
·      Observable spiritual growth over the course of the training period
·      Publishable quality reviews
·      Deep/unique insight
·      Development of a working personal spiritual system with a particular hearth culture

When I finally joined ADF and Three Cranes Grove it was after much deliberation.  I’d been attending rites for almost 5 years, but had been putting off joining mostly out of fear that I’d become attached to the people and then have to move.  That is what has happened.  I was only in Columbus for about another year, but my time spent in close vicinity to my Grove allowed me to form bonds that I have maintained even after moving. 

After moving, I realized that I being with Three Cranes built a very strong foundation for me, and that now being away from them I was/am able to branch out.  My solitary practice has blossomed over the past year.  I still connect with my Grove, and my Delos (the Hellenic group I work with), but it is the foundation that they helped to build that has proved most beneficial.  Even now, working within the structure of ADF, most of my full core order of rituals happen on the High Days and Druid Moons with the Grove.  In the beginning, I needed the guidance of my Grove and my Grove mates to feel comfortable in this format. It was helpful to experience ritual with them leading and guiding the rest of us. Slowly I was assigned more and more involved parts, moving from Earth Mother, to the Kindreds, to Outdwellers, and up into Two Powers and Attunement, Re-Creating the Cosmos, and Opening the Gates. For our public rituals I started out writing my parts before hand and reading them from that script in ritual. Now I’ve grown into still writing before hand, but I rarely use it during ritual. It’s just my back up piece in case I freeze up. Our Grove also does monthly Druid Moons, and during these we are rarely assigned parts before we get there. We are able to just get together and perform a ritual in the common framework that ADF gives us. I really like this, though it was nerve wrecking at first, because there is so much less pressure, and you really can just speak from the heart.

I do a kind of modified core order for most of my full on rituals at home, though more often than not I’m doing more devotional type works at home rather than full rituals. When I’m working at home, I almost never acknowledge the Outdwellers except in the sense of calming myself and entering a state in my own mind that is free from things that would distract me during the ritual. I honor the Three Kindreds, as well as specific deities and patrons. Most of my work at home takes the form of devotionals for an individual God or Goddess, or for a pair or set of related Gods or Goddesses.

The hearth culture I work in is Hellenic.  I’ve learned a great deal about the Greek Gods and Hellenic religion by studying and researching ways to fit Hellenic Reconstruction and ADF methodology together.  Working with the Delos I co-founded with Irisa has been instrumental in my understanding of my chosen hearth culture. We’re all working together to learn more about our Deities and the customs and rituals that were traditionally done to honor them. Most of the Delos members are also ADF members, so we all have a general sense of how ADF ritual works, and are learning how Hellenic Reconstructionists perform rituals. A lot of what we’ve done has been a sort of mix between the two. We incorporate some of the parts of ADF ritual that we really connect to, and then leave out other bits that don’t make as much sense for rituals. For instance, when we recreate the cosmos, we will often just place the omphalos as the center of the world and then use our sacred fire for offerings. We also always honor Hestia first and last, whereas in ADF core order, the Earth Mother is honored first and last. We try to get together as least once a month, where we celebrate Noumenia, a festival that honors the agricultural aspect of Zeus. It is a time for fellowship, honoring the gods, and blessing our homes.

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