I am an Initiate. This is what I do.

It happens fairly often now, where someone asks what my personal practice looks like.  Normally I respond in the general: well, here’s what I typically do each day or so.  I describe my home hearth practice.  And it occurs to me now, that I don’t often talk about what my practice as an Initiate looks like.  Or what my practice as a Priest looks like.  Or what the dove-tail looks like in my practice as an Initiate-Priest.  And not only am I not talking about it, I realized with some of the current discussion going on about The Spirit of ADF, no one appears to have talked about it much.

When you apply for entrance into these programs, you’re asked to respond to things like “What does being an Initiate mean to you?”, “Why do you want to be an ADF Priest?”, and “What form do you think your vocation will take?”  in your intention letters and vocational statements.  You’re asked to talk about what these things are without having been there yet.  And that is incredibly difficult.  If you’d like to read mine, you can find them here: Initiate Intention Letter, Clergy Intention Letter, and Vocational Statement. It is interesting that my Initiate Intention Letter still rings true for me.  Now having undergone the Ordeals and been tapped in to the Current, my Path was brightened and focused, but the root of it hasn’t wavered.

I know when I was an Initiate Candidate, I had no idea what Initiate Work looked like.  And even with several ADF Grove Priests in my Grove, when I was working through our Clergy Training Program, I had no idea what the personal Work of a Priest looked like.  Now, the obvious caveat here is that this experience will vary from initiate to initiate (especially) and priest to priest.  That’s part of the beautiful diversity of our organization.  But, we do have some commonalities, and I’d like to talk about them without getting into the Mystery of each specific Order.

So, as an Initiate, what do I do?  I’d like to start by talking about my Initiate Oath.  Each Initiate makes an Oath following third, and final Ordeal, that completes their initiation. It is book ended the same for each Initiate “I come from the Fire at the Center of Worlds… And with these tools I shall lead others to the Flame.”  We each fill in the middle of that Oreo cookie with imagery regarding the tools we gained.  Here is my full oath:

I come from the fire at the center of worlds,
Where the burning stars fall from the heavens to the seas.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the oak tree stands upon the mound.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the fire rages amongst the storm of lights and rain.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the stranger in the darkness stands as guide.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the heartbeat of the Mother ignites the fire within.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
With these tools I shall lead others to the flame.

So, in the external work that I do, I am focusing on bringing others to the Flame.  That is the guiding statement for almost all of my work as an Initiate.  To me, this means that not only am I doing what I can to be a mentor to folks within our organization in general, wherever they may be on their path, but I am also specifically focusing on those who have expressed and interest in becoming Initiate’s themselves.  I have focused heavily on making sure that the path to Initiation is accessible to all who wish to walk it.  While it falls much more in the mundane realm of things, and not in the spirit worker realm, one of the things I did, that I think has had the most benefit thus far, is I fleshed out and built a fully structured syllabus and class that guides the beginning Candidate through all the required coursework and offers supplemental activities to make the work more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and ensure that the Candidate is as prepared as possible for the Three Ordeals they must undergo for Initiation.

“That’s great,” you say, “but what does being an Initiate in your actual spiritual practice look like? What do you do? What is an Initiate?”

I’m glad you asked! 😉 As an Initiate, I see myself as a Spirit Worker within an ADF context.  This means, that first and foremost, I work with the Current.  What is the Current you ask?  Well, here is an article that describes it’s establishment: https://www.adf.org/articles/working/initiatory-current.html  Notably, what is mentioned in the article is that at the culmination of a Candidate’s training, they will undergo a ritual of initiation that will tap them into a spiritual Current that unifies all ADF Initiates and that they would be able to use as the “juice” for their Work.  Because it was also an ADF Unity Rite, all of ADF was also joined into this work.  The Current is described as “flowing through ADF.”

I had just joined ADF when the Current was established, and was not there for that rite.  I came after, so I can only speak to what I know about it from my own experience and what I’ve learned about it along the way from my own Initiation and from the spirit work that has followed.  For me, the Current is the energy of the organization itself, and of the other Initiates who have been tapped in to this Current. It is a source of power for magic, divination, and trance journeying.  It is a connection to other Initiates.  Each Initiate sees it and works with it in a different way.  For me it most closely resembles the Mists of Magic that flow in the liminal spaces between the worlds.  It is referenced in my oath when I say “Mists to open.  Mists to bind.”  I weave the Mist of the Current into my magic.  I let it flow through me when I do divination.  It flows all about me and through me when I do trance work, and I use it as a tool to aid me in my journeys.  The Current is an integral part of my practice as an Initiate.

So, in my regular practice, what do I do as an Initiate?  I do Initiate-specific trance work, and make the attempt to do this a couple a times a week, though like most things, it ebbs and flows with what is going on in my life.  Since beginning the Initiate Work, my delineation between trance, magic, and divination has blurred.  They each tend to feed into the other. My trance work contains bits of magic and divination.  When I do magic or divination, I am certainly in a trance state.

So, this Initiate trance work for me generally takes the form of me traveling out from my Inner Grove with my spirit allies, and doing other spirit work, which may or may not include magic or divination.  Sometimes I go to places I know, sometimes I go to new places.  I seek new spirits who desire to work with me, or who may be beneficial in my own work. If I am doing helping work, I may seek out a spirit who can help me with that.  If I’m doing bardic work, I may seek out inspiration in the Otherworld.

I seek tools that will help me as I journey.  Do I need a way to bring the light of the Fire with me wherever I go (literally and metaphorically)?  Then I will seek that out.  I seek advice from spirits I know.  How should I approach this problem?  What direction should I focus my creative efforts?  I explore symbols and sigils in the Otherworld.  One of the cool things I’ve done and have just started writing up is I have journeyed focused on each symbol within the Greek Alphabet Oracle, and deepened my connection to the symbol set, finding new and more nuanced meanings for interpretation.  Each symbol has a location and vision in the Otherworld.  I occasionally engage in tandem-trance, where I journey with other Initiates (whether we are physically present in the same space or not) and we exchange experiences and visions. This allows us to build our Otherworld maps, and find the places where they overlap.  We can meet the spirits that another has met, and begin working with them independently.

Like most of the work I do as an ADF Druid in general, my goal with my trance work is to deepen my relationships with the Kindreds, and as an Initiate, it often becomes experimental.  I use my experience, knowledge, and devotion to gather around me powers that help me further the deeper work of trance, magic, and divination. This in turn deepens my practice further and as I find things that work for me, I share that with others so that more can benefit from it.  Sometimes this means introducing people to new spirits I’ve met.  Sometimes it means sharing new ideas for divination with others.  Trying them out in this world, rather than the Otherworld.  Sometimes it’s writing a song, or prayer, or piece of poetry that will help others connect to Our Druidry in a way they hadn’t before.

All of this to me is leading others to the flame with the tools that I have gained as an Initiate.  This post ended up longer than I anticipated, so I’ll post what I do as Clergy in a later one.


2 thoughts on “I am an Initiate. This is what I do.

  1. Mike Bierschenk

    It just be difficult, to write about a mystery without naming the mystery. But this really does give insight into the Initiatory Current in a useful way, and I’m quite grateful for it.


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