Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cultural Practices

The following is an essay that is about how I started down a path which lead me to become a Hellenic Druid.

Cultural Practices

Before coming to ADF, I had never considered focusing my spiritual practice on any one specific culture. In Wicca I learned that spirituality was a matter of picking and choosing aspects of cultures that you wanted to use, then adapting them to your personal practice. Every aspect of my studies had become eclectic. Even magic and ritual were a mixture of things I had put together. And to be totally honest, there was not much difference in my workings of magical ritual and worship. They were pretty much the same as far as I was concerned.

For many years, living with this type of spirituality was perfectly fine. But I started to wonder if there was something different out there so I started searching. I wanted to find a path that would allow me to find a true connection to divine powers as well as a connection to nature. I wanted to find a path that would lead me into a strong spirituality through more than just the working of magic. I learned that what I had was not really a religion, but an occult practice which in the end was not what I was truly seeking. Through my search I found ADF through a new friend I had made on-line, James Lock. He talked with me about ADF and said that from what he understood from our conversations that it might very much be what I was looking for.

So I began reading about ADF.  James is Senior Druid of the Grove of the Red Earth, ADF, and after some time I began attending some of their rituals.  For my birthday James gave me my first year’s membership to ADF. Once I started my DP program I started learning about Hearth Cultures. Interestingly enough, I found that there was a culture that I had already been drawn to:  that of the Greek.  Though my practice has included deities from the Hindu and the Celtic cultures, the majority have been those of the Greek.

At first I was a little confused on having a Hearth Culture because the Grove of the Red Earth is a Pan-Indo-European grove. There are members that have Hearth Cultures ranging from Celtic to Norse. But as I worked with the grove, and ended up joining, I found that it was fairly easy to have the different cultures. The mixture also taught me the importance of connection with one’s Hearth Culture and that by sharing with others’ Hearth Cultures my understanding of their importance began to grow.

In time I began joining some of the Yahoo groups that are centered on the Greek deities. There are groups devoted to individual deities as well as the Hellenic culture in general where they discuss the foundations of Hellenistic religion as it was in ancient times. From these I have found a lot of information on the structure of Greek culture and how it influenced their daily religious lives. Many times they didn’t stop to do daily ritual, at least not among the non-priests, but did devotions and made offerings. Those offerings ranged from incense to grains to meat and sacrificed animals, even art in some cases, such as offerings to the Muses. I have started using what I have learned there to create prayers, hymns, and rituals that center around individual deities.

Through daily devotionals and offerings I have begun to change my perception of my connection to the divine. I have started setting up individual shrines to the deities that have made themselves known to me, requesting that I connect to them. After a relaxing meditation I light a candle on each shrine; for those without a shrine, I light a candle on my main altar. With the candlelight, I call to the god through a prayer hymn that I have either written or found from an outside source that speaks to me. Once the prayer has been made I give my offerings of incenses and other gifts to the god. I then like to spend time just communing with the gods individually allowing whatever inspiration or knowledge they wish for me to have to flow into my mind’s eye.

As for ritual, I am slowly beginning to create a style that reflects some of the ancient Greek culture that works with the ADF ritual format. As I learn more I will be able to allow this to grow into something that is beneficial to both the deities and myself. I feel that through working with my new Hearth Culture to fit into the ADF format I will be able to help with the return of the Greek gods into the lives of people who seek them. I can be a part of the creation of a new tradition in the image of the Greek deities.

Also, the more I learn about the Greeks and their culture the more I am able to find connections with the deities that have chosen  to be my patrons. It has also allowed me the knowledge to find those deities that were calling me that I couldn’t understand. There were references and images that were being shown to me that would allow me to identify who they were, but I could not do so, since many of those were references to cultural myths.   I have since started finding their identities one by one the more I learn of the culture.

Though in the beginning I don’t know anything about Hearth Culture or their importance in my studies, this has changed with the changing of my path. The more I walk the ADF path the more I understand the importance of connecting with a culture and its deities.
Post a Comment