Dedicant Oath

DEDICANT OATH

Initiating the Rite –Procession/Meditation
Purification – anointing with water
Honoring the earth mother – kneel, touch forehead

Statement of Purpose – I have come to this place to make a vow.

(Re)Creating the Cosmos
And as I come I sing the world:
the fire of creation
The well of memory
The tree of worlds
I sing the bones of existence.
Hail, fire!
Hail, well!
Hail, tree!
I sing the order of the world!

Opening the Gates
River of the once-white sands! I ask for your aid – May the gates be open!

Inviting the Kindreds
Shining ones, I call out to you!
Ancestors, I call out to you!
Spirits of the world, I call out to you!
That all may come and witness
That all may know of my vow.

Main Occasion/Working –

I come, a child of this old dark earth:
Mother, I come on my knees.
To you, beginning and end, first and last, I pledge myself and my own two hands.

Old gods, I have seen you; your might and your knowledge bring me awe. To you I offer my respect.

Spirits, I have seen you wandering our world, in wind and rain and leaf and light, turning the wheels of the world. To you I pledge action.

Ancestors, lineage that has loved and watched from time that has passed to time that is to come, I have known you all my life. To you I pledge the good use of your strength.

And all of you, witness:
I pledge my feet to the green path.
I will keep the sacred fires.
I will renew the echoes in the living well.
I will put my hand to the world tree.
I will walk the way of years forgotten.
I will keep my ear to the shadows.

If I renege on this, may I be dealt with as befits my offense.

Omen – where does my work begin?

Thanking the Beings
Closing the Gate(s)
Closing the Rite

For my Dedicant Oath Rite I chose to do a slightly modified COoR ritual on a dam in the middle of the river I have been trying to work with for the past few months. I had intended to drive to a state park and make my vows in a sandstone ravine that I love, but as the day approached I found myself gravitating towards the river. I had dreams about standing on a rock in the middle of rushing water. Two days before I planned to make my oath, I was with a friend driving along the river when I saw the dam. The sound of rushing water rose in my ears and I knew I had found the right place. Early that Saturday, on a full moon, a friend and I hiked a few miles along the river to the dam. It’s not particularly tall – made of the weathered, water-rounded remnants of several old stone bridges piled up at a bend in the river. It’s a tenth of a mile across, maybe a little more. The rushing sound of the water between the rocks is awesome. You can only get on to the dam from one side – the rocks are sparser and far apart, so getting to the main of the dam is a bit precarious. Originally I wanted to go around and walk out from the more solid side of the dam, because I was a little bit afraid of climbing across giant mossy rocks in such high water. There was no way to access the more solid side of the dam. It felt a little bit like an ordeal, or a challenge – like I had thought it was going to be too easy and needed a reminder that the vow I was making would not always allow the easy path. It took me fifteen minutes to figure out how to get towards the bigger part of the dam. I ended up getting a staff and using it as an extra-long arm to keep my balance while working my way out to the middle of the river. A flying leap from the main of the dam I found a long, square, flat rock that was just the right place, so I sat down, took off my shoes, laid down my staff, and started to meditate. After anointing myself with river water for purification, I opened the rite by honoring the Mother and said why I had come. I sang the hallows, opened the swirling gate, and invited the Kindreds to witness. Then I made my vow and waited for an omen. I had asked the question, “where does my work begin?” Sitting, watching the river, I got the impression that I needed to focus on my work with it – specifically in relation to cleanup efforts. The way I received this impression was a mix of feelings and observations and really sort of difficult to articulate – there were patterns of bubbles, and dirty foam on my feet, and ripples in the water, and above all a feeling.
It’s weird to do rituals in the Core Order: I never think they’re going to work. But I kneel to greet the Mother and it’s like something gets into my bones. I can hear my voice echo. I felt like I was sort of stuck between the mundane and metaphysical worlds in this rite, that I couldn’t quite get all the way. Maybe that was the nature of this vow; that feeling has carried over into the everyday. The rite felt surprisingly earthy, instead of airy and otherworldly as I have come to expect. But the oath, I think – the oath was right. It felt heavy, like a good blanket, a sound binding. I feel like I did well. When I began this path a little more than a year ago I didn’t feel serious; over the past year I’ve become both more relaxed about where my path leads and more bold about following and explaining it. Editing my Dedicant documentation was the first time I ever held an entire year’s worth of work in my hands at one time and was truly, honestly proud of what I had accomplished and how I had grown. I feel more grounded since I made my oath; more sure. Like I have a basis from which to speak.
I’ve never felt like I belong to this Indiana land; I was born between NJ and Pennsylvania, and that’s the air that smells right – the land that rings under my feet. But I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years, and in the past six months have felt increasingly as if I’m sinking in to this ground. There’s a weight to it – a rootedness – that I was missing before. I feel a little less like a transplant. And when I slapped the altar rock – /This rite is ended!/ – I felt it resound. I feel the weight of the oath-ring I wear – /I belong to this ground./ It’s given me a whole new perspective. My partner and I are getting ready to move: where do we need to move, he asks me, and the answer that comes out, even before “near work” is /somewhere near the river; I have work to do./

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Before Reading the Runes

Hail to the knower,

Hail to the seer –

Hail to the hanger on the windy tree.

I make you this offering,

recalling your hanging –

a gift calls for a gift.

Blanketmaking Prayer

May the hands of my thousands of ancestors

(who made blankets for warmth before me)

be on mine – and may our hands, joined together,

put into my making these things:

skill, protection, peace;

a fire in winter, and warmth in the belly.

Adorations: Freyr

I adore you, honeyed god.
I adore you, who offered up your sword.
I adore you, who spills your seed in agony.
I adore you, who meets death unafraid.
I adore you, sweet and terrible.
I adore you, willing hostage.
I adore you, openhearted.
I adore you, delight of women.
I adore you, son of the sea.
I adore you, god of good seasons.
I adore you, spirit of the fields.
I adore you, man of harvest.
I adore you, god of the world.
I adore you, Freyr.

Adorations: Odin

I adore you, Old Man.
I adore you, rune-maker.
I adore you, raven-eyed.
I adore you, madman.
I adore you, who hung on the tree.
I adore you, who watches from the high seat.
I adore you, who seeks knowledge at any price.
I adore you, ravenous.
I adore you, leader of the hunt.
I adore you, who laughs.
I adore you, Odin.

Things for Thinking II

“Prayer is whatever is expressed between a person and the greater universe – whatever their God is, whatever their heart feels, however they express their wonder.”
– Sarah Wilson

“We are, each of us, the modern-day result of generations, and generations, and generations untold of survivors. We can call on that.
Each of us is here because we come from an ancient line of survivors, our DNA stretching all the way back to Africa. We come from ancestors who survived Ice Ages, who survived slavery, who survived retreating glaciers, who survived Rome, who survived the Dark Ages and the cutting down of Europe’s forests and acorn parks, who survived the Burning Times, who survived the Long Passage, who survived indenture, who survived famine, who survived smallpox-infested blankets, who survived childbed fever, who survived the trip out West in Conestoga wagons, who survived the African diaspora, who survived driving railroad stakes day in and day out, who survived World War I and mustard gas, who survived the Depression and the dustbowl, who survived World War II and Fat Boy, who survived Selma, who survived Kent State, who survived . . . .I refuse to be hopeless, because to be hopeless would dishonor those who’ve gone before us.” – hecatedemeter.wordpress.com

“Masha, listen to me. Cosmetics are an extension of the will. Why do you think all men paint themselves when they go to fight? When I paint my eyes to match my soup, it is not because I have nothing better to do than worry over trifles. It says, I belong here, and you will not deny me. When I streak my lips red as foxgloves, I say, Come here, male. I am your mate, and you will not deny me. When I pinch my cheeks and dust them with mother-of-pearl, I say, Death, keep off, I am your enemy, and you will not deny me. I say these things, and the world listens, Masha. Because my magic is as strong as an arm. I am never denied. …All this time, and you speak to me as though I were a flighty pinprick of a girl. I am a magician! Did you never think, even once, that I loved lipstick and rouge for more than their color alone? I am a student of their lore, and it is arcane and hermetic beyond the dreams of alchemists. Did you never wonder why I gave you so many pots, so many creams, so much perfume? Blue is for cruel bargains; green is for daring what you oughtn’t; violet is for brute force. I will say to you: Coral coaxes; pink insists; red compels. I will say to you: You are dear to me as attar of roses. Please do not get eaten.” – Catherynne Valente, Deathless

“The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is – it must be something you cannot possibly do.” – Henry Moore

“Words heard by chance have been known to change lives.” – Phil Cousineau

“He went out…not for himself but for his people. He heard the call of the eagle and he went, just like that. He didn’t ask any questions; he knew his people needed healing, so he went.” – Vincent Parker

“I love being born again, and I practice it. …Changing names, places of residence, body shapes, opinions…what endless delight.” – Andrei Codrescu

“Practice listening – to your friends, your children, music, the wind, your dreams, the ancient wisdom of sacred texts. Listen as though your life depended on it. It does.” – Phil Cousineau

“Well we’ve acknowledged that the problems are big, now where’s the big solution? When you ask the question what is the big answer, then you’re implying that we can impose the answer. But that’s the problem we’re in to start with, we’ve tried to impose the answers. The answers will come not from walking up to your farm and saying this is what I want and this is what I expect from you. You walk up and you say what do you need. And you commit yourself to say all right, I’m not going to do any extensive damage here until I know what it is that you are asking of me. And this can’t be hurried. This is the dreadful situation that young people are in. I think of them and I say well, the situation you’re in now is a situation that’s going to call for a lot of patience. And to be patient in an emergency is a terrible trial. … I say to the young people, don’t get into this with the idea that you’re going to save it and solve all the problems even in your lifetime. The important thing to do is to learn all you can about where you are and if you’re going to work there it becomes even more important to learn everything you can about that place to make common cause with that place and then resigning yourself, becoming patient enough to work with it over a long time. And then what you do is increase the possibility that you will make a good example and what we’re looking for in this is good examples.” – WB

“Ours is a practice grounded in the land, in the web of spirit relationships, in plant and insect and animal and bird. This is where we must orientate our actions. This is where our loyalty lies. …Witchcraft has never been about turning the other cheek: the witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it.” -Apocalyptic Witchcraft

“There’s no justification for the permanent destruction of the world. My belief and I’ve written out of it for many years is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts. We have the world to live in and the use of it to live from on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it and we have to know how to take care of it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” – Wendell Berry

“‘To develop the taste and appreciation of what there is enough of’ – this has always been a pillar of ecosophical education. …something of central importance in the rich industrial society: to assist you thin the warm appreciation and understanding of basic natural processes such as beautiful solutions, miraculous transformations of some substance into others, and the recreation of thousands of beautiful colors and dyes. Those who are offered an opportunity for such experiences are changed, their life enhanced. They can love with less dependence on what there is not enough of for all.” – Arne Naess

“Dissidents…are necessary but not because they are a threat. When rebels are eliminated, other nonconformists must be found. Power without resistance becomes meaningless.” – David Loy

“If we are saved not by accepting the truth of spiritual stories but in being changed by them, then the novel and it’s siblings offer an alternative to sacred scripture..”
– David Loy

“Our experience of pain for the world springs from our inter-connectedness with all beings, from which also arises our powers to act on their behalf. When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or treat it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished.” – Joanna Macy

“Such is the way it sometimes goes. We’re never allowed to forget where we’ve been and what we’ve gone through. We’re never allowed to forget the price we’ve paid for our skills. We’re never allowed to separate ourselves from the process and the moment lest we forget…” – Galina Krasskova

“To understand how this came about, you must first understand the enormous single-mindedness, the innocence with which he approached any problem. He was not naive, he merely permitted himself no distractions. He wasn’t brave; he merely had that singlemindedness and caution. …It became apparent to them that he was not a madman totally, just mad enough to be holy.” – Dune

“When will we solve this? [they] asked. When will we see [this place] as a paradise?
In the manner of a teacher answering a child who has asked the sum of two plus two [he] told them, ‘From three to five hundred years.’
A lesser folk might have howled in dismay. But they had learned patience… It was a bit longer than they had anticipated, but they could all see that the day was coming. They tightened their sashes and went back to work.”
– Dune

Work Song, Part 2: A Vision
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.
– Wendell Berry

Adorations: Brighid

I adore you, Bright Arrow.

I adore you, fire in the head.

I adore you, unquenchable flame.

I adore you, daughter of the Red God.

I adore you, inspiration.

I adore you, brilliance.

I adore you, woman of poetry.

I adore you, strength and grace.

I adore you, fierce and tender.

I adore you, radiant and doughty.

I adore you, iron-shaper.

I adore you, fire in the night.

I adore you, mother of craftsmen.

I adore you, whistler.

I adore you, loyal friend.

I adore you, brave companion.

I adore you, peacekeeper.

I adore you, sovereignty.

I adore you, matriarch.

I adore you, Brighid.

Adorations: Freyja

I adore you, Lady.

I adore you, who bestows herself like a queen. 

I adore you, who will not be denied.

I adore you, who knows her own worth.

I adore you, witch.

I adore you, wanderer. 

I adore you, seether.

I adore you, falcon-skinned.

I adore you, mistress of cats.

I adore you, necklace-wearer.

I adore you, shatterer of gems.  

I adore you, woman of desire.

I adore you, lover of ecstasy.

I adore you, who walks from the fire unburnt.

I adore you, who flies by night. 

I adore you, who cannot be shamed.

I adore you, Freyja. 

 

Mental Discipline Essay [Dedicant Path Requirement]

My mental discipline practice spanned a period of just over 5 months – February 10th to July 10th. It was by far the most difficult piece of my Dedicant work. I’ve always thought of myself as a strong-willed person, but undertaking a meditation practice showed me that I still have a long way to go in terms of sharpening my will. During my official period of mental discipline practice, I set aside at least ten minutes for meditation at least twice a week using one of the methods I detail below. Often the time was longer or the sessions more frequent, but it was extremely variable. I used multiple methods of meditation as well: the Two Powers meditation, in various forms; moving meditation, both in terms of yoga and in terms of walking and other conscious mundane movement; sitting with the breath, sometimes with no-mind, sometimes focusing on an object; pulse control meditation; putting yet awareness in different parts of my body; and an energy center meditation method I picked up from Castaneda’s the Art of Dreaming. I think that using so many different kinds of meditation gave me a better grasp of what a state of focus or concentration feels like. The Two Powers meditation is familiar and comfortable to me. (“tried to do Two Powers meditation before bed, and I got things to separate on the inside but never quite got them to actually connect on the outside. I should not meditate in bed. Although I do wonder – if you get rooted strongly enough, and then sleep, do you expand, or contract? Do you travel in dreams? Could it create a sort of healing trance if you grounded enough?”) It’s easy to do when I’m calm and centered – natural – but getting to calm and centered is a totally different matter, so I decided to focus on other forms of meditation. Initially, I chose to use moving meditation, yoga, to fulfill my meditation requirement. I deal with severe anxiety, and my experience has been that if the body isn’t moving, the mind is running wild. Moving meditation seemed a natural place to begin. Results were variable – entries in my journal from this period are alternately irritated (“I took a coffee-break practice this morning, but my brain wouldn’t shut up and breathing didn’t work – it sucked.”) and satisfied (“Practiced for an hour and a half today, stayed right with my breath and nothing else. It was really good. Immense concentration of energy.”) A couple of times I decided to shake up my moving meditation practice and did things like walking the labyrinth at the local UU church, which was a turning point. Labyrinth-walking produced the most immediate snap into a trance space that I have ever experienced. (“It was mesmerizing in the most literal sense of the word. It was like being hypnotized, like falling. I don’t even know how to describe it; my mind went totally still, like walking a tightrope…”) At some point in the second month I decided that sitting with the breath meditation would be good forms moral fiber, so I started doing that at least once a week. That rapidly became the entirety of my meditation practice – a few minutes set aside every day to sit and breathe, or to sit and feel the trees, or the river flowing. This practice allowed me to make contact with land-wights in a totally new way – not much luck with the rivers, but with spirits of place and spirits of trees? Yes. (“..these pines are my friends. I can feel campus’ head land spirit in a way I never could before. It’s a feminine presence, unlike on the other side of the river, where the main spirit is overwhelmingly masculine. A staff with an owl just begging to be carved from the top appeared to be left for me after I’d spent a lot of time picking up litter on campus; I think it was a gift…”) Another thing I picked up in this period was a type of breathing my yoga teacher taught us for meditation – in four, hold four to eight, out four – which, when combined with pulse meditation, is hypnotically soothing and makes it really easy to slip into a meditative trance. This is still probably the method I use most often, if I’m sitting somewhere with nothing to do. Towards the end of my five months, a friend gave me a book called The Art of Dreaming, and in reading it I gained two more methods of meditation that I use regularly. The first was something I did as a kid, although I wouldn’t have called it meditation then: trying to ‘see’ out of different parts of my body. (My preferred method is to focus on seeing things as if my eyes were positioned in my neck, under my chin. It takes a surprising amount of concentration and mental flexibility to maintain this perspective.) The second is something I had never encountered before but have had huge and fascinating results with. The author of the book posits that the human’s energetic center and center of consciousness is contained in an energetic ball about six inches directly behind and in the center of their shoulder blades. Most recently I have been meditating by focusing on that ball; doing so produces a lot of crackling energetic noise that feels very similar to the quaking I sometimes experience when meditating in lotus position with certain mudras – almost as if you’re vibrating out of your body. This and pulse meditation are probably the two methods I use most often in my practice.
When I started this requirement, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through five months of regimented meditation with my monkey mind. It’s funny how, even though I don’t have to meditate anymore, the instinct to do so surfaces often. It’s habit – if I’m bored or upset or sitting, instead of just screwing around on my phone or trying to think about other things, my response is almost automatically to stop, and sit, and breathe. Prior yoga practice had taught me the value and importance of sitting down at a table with my uncomfortable feelings, or even of leaning into them, but it hadn’t become habit. Meditation covers those times as well as the empty spaces that sneak into the day. I’m actually a little surprised by how much meditation has snuck into my life. I think I’m beginning to understand something I read in a Buddhist manual on meditation several years ago – meditation is a constant state of awareness, clarity, focus. Everything that disrupts you is simply a bell bringing you back to awareness. You wouldn’t think that we need so much help learning to breathe, to be quiet, to sit and think, but it really is a discipline – the hardest, I think. While this was a difficult requirement to fulfill, I think that, for me, it may have been the most valuable.

Litha 2014 [Dedicant Path Requirement]

The focus of my midsummer ritual was honoring the sun as life-giver, light-bringer, and hope-bearer. I think it’s important to focus on that and retain a piece of it through the darker months….and here, at the crescendo of the sun’s power and beauty, is time to revel in that bounty. I followed the COoR, as usual…Secret Garden’s the Gates of Dawn was my musical signal, initiating the rite, and I smudged for purification. I gave honor to the Earth Mother, stated my purpose – to honor the sun – and sanctified my hallows (fire, well, and tree). I called on Firefly as my gatekeeper with an offering of sugar, asking for her liminal power of light in darkness to open the gates. I honored the Kindreds and made my offerings and songs to the sun. When I drew the omen asking if my gifts and words had been satisfactory, I received the Knight of Cups, which I saw as positive. I also drew a card asking for guidance in this liminal period of my life, wanting to know what I should focused my energy on, and received the Hierophant. The blessing – in the form of a glass of water – was shared between me, the cats, the house, and the yard. Then I thanked the beings, closed the gates, and ended the rite.
This was my last DP high day! I feel so much more comfortable with the COoR – it’s more flexible than I ever imagined it being at the beginning of this. Comfortable. I am also continuing to be amazed at the aptness of divination. Drawing the Hierophant at a time when I’m beginning to turn my attention towards the CTP is a nice piece of confirmation. Sort of a smack in the face with a wet fish, but funny all the same. At the beginning of the rite I worried I wouldn’t get to the rite headspace, but I’m starting to have a ritual switch. You can feel yourself sliding in. Everything is coming full circle.