Awards, Service, and a Walk in the Woods

We have mentioned before just how important it really is to us that we do regular community service. As we like to say, it’s about “honouring the Kindreds through work in this realm.” This past year, we won our second ADF Founder’s Award for Exceptional Public Service in the past three years, and we felt truly blessed to receive it.

This weekend, our Grove took a walk down our adopted trail, the Lower Scioto Multi-Use Trail, which runs approximately five miles down the primary river in Columbus. The cleanup is always rough: carrying forty- or sixty-gallon bags full of garbage down the trail is never fun, but we always manage to find it very rewarding.

I suppose that’s the central paradox of community service: for all the work and sweat you put into it, you always get so much more out of it than you could ever dream.

Also this week, we took a “Walk in the Woods,” having a class in plant identification and herbal uses in the Columbus Topiary Garden. We spent two hours lying in the grass, discussing various plants and what they were once used for, chatting, and enjoying the summer weather. We then took a short walking tour of the gardens, identifying trees and learning their history.

Study is at the heart of ADF Druidry: we work hard to learn about the world we live in, and in doing so, we also learn to love and cherish it. While the name of a plant may seem useless to some, knowing it brings about a deeper, more intimate connection. Rather than being a simple “plant,” it begins to have a personality, a way of existing that cannot be described as mere objectification.

What we learn about, we know. What we know, we will protect and love.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

A Divination Meet-Up

This past week, our visit to the local Diviantion Meetup went very well: there were many people there, and Shawneen and I discussed both runes and ogham, as well as the general way we look at divination within Druidic ritual.

While each individual seer will seek the omen in the way that they know best, and through the methods that they know best, we generally see the omen as a communication between individuals. In much the same way that we make offerings to individual deities, spirits, and powers, when we communicate with them (and receive responses back), these also come from individuals.

One of the most important things about taking an omen is understanding that it is a communication between yourself and another being. As a result, you must come to your own agreement with the Powers about what each sign and symbol means: you cannot simply assume that what you learned from the book that came with your runes is accurate to the beings you wish to converse with. Much as both Americans and the British speak English, what you learn in an American English class is unlikely to prepare you for conversing with a speaker of British English (when your British friend asks you to place the groceries into the “boot”, you’ll know what I mean).

What we need to do is enter into conversations with the Powers, to get to know them and their manner of speaking. If we do this, then we will find ourselves richer in knowledge of what they are saying to us, and less likely to misinterpret their statements to us.

    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Passing the DP, and Community Outreach

This week, one of our members, Nick, passed his Dedicant Path documentation.

The Dedicant Path is ADF’s initial study program, focusing on learning how to live a Druidic life. This way of life is focused on virtue and piety, along with dedication to the Kindreds. It is also the first step toward further study within a specialized program, whether in a Guild, Kin, or even entering our Clergy Training Program.

When a member takes his or her Dedicant Oath, the commitment made is not one to be taken lightly. Knowing how seriously Nick took his oath, I look forward to seeing the direction his life takes in the future.

We’re proud of you, Nick.

This coming week, we will begin discussing our next High Day ritual, and we have also been asked to give a description of Druidic ideas of divination to a local divination group on Monday (7/14/08). Shawneen and I will be attending the meeting, with him describing the use of Ogham, and me describing the use of runes. We have been enjoying the chance to get out into the community recently, giving the occasional class and talking about how we do things.

Part of being an ADF Grove is getting out into the community. 3CG is very active in our community service, and we try to make sure that our community outreach is also a vibrant part of who we are. After all, how public can your rituals really be if no one knows you’re around?

As we grow and do more, we find ourselves more and more visible in the community, which helps us serve the community that supports us.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler

Celebrating the Goddess Liberty

This week saw a celebration of one goddess who many of us remember from our childhoods: Liberty. Often conflated with Freedom, Equality, Justice, and Columbia or Brittania (as well as other national deities), here in the States we celebrate her holy day, July 4th by blowing stuff up.

Liberty even has her own Wikipedia article.

Early depictions of Liberty show a bare-breasted woman, often carrying a flag and urging the people forward and leading them by example. There has always been something beautiful and clearly exposed about Liberty. This tradition continued up until very modern times, with the most recent and balatant change in the way we view Liberty occurring when the Department of Justice covered a nude statue of Liberty shortly after September 11th.

It can be said that how we treat the icons of a goddess is much like how we interact with her on our own. Do we revel in her, no matter how she may appear, or do we sometimes wonder what others might think of us if we stand beside them?

Each year around this time, I like to go back to some sacred texts: the Declaration of Independence, in particular, and its long discussion of the injustices of monarchy; the Constitution with its clear preamble, which indicates that it is the People who give authority to those in power through the “Blessings of Liberty” (capitalizations original); the Bill of Rights, which (while part of the Constitution) is important to read as a document of its own; and a little-known, poorly understood document called the Treaty of Tripoli (though this may be because I really like article 11). I’m sure that others have their own traditions, but it has always seemed to me that those of us who truly wish to honour the goddess Liberty, as well as those who have gone before us and died to secure it, should spend some time reading these documents.

We celebrate Liberty not because it’s fun to blow things up, but rather because she has so much to offer us. We read the documents that tell us what our national idea of Liberty is not because they are assigned in classes, but because they are a part of our identity as people who celebrate Liberty. We remember the ideals set forth in them, and depicted in the icons of Liberty all over the nation (and beyond), because doing so honours the ancestors who fought and died so that we might know this goddess.

So I hope that, as we enjoy this time of family and friendship (and blowing stuff up) that we remember why we do so, and in whose honour we do it.

May the blessings of the goddess Liberty shine forth, as a beacon for the world to wonder at and strive for.
    -Rev. Michael J Dangler