Sunday, August 12, 2012

Who are the Kindred you ask? Well let me tell you....

I am so often asked who we worship as Druids. Well in the tradition I follow, Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), we worship and honor the Kindred. Who are the Kindred you ask? Well let me tell you... 

Three Kindreds: Ancestors

The thought of honoring the Ancestors was new to me when I came to ADF.  I had always seen them simply as those of my bloodline that were in the distant past. They were the ones that had brought life to our family name. I didn’t really see the Ancestors for what they could truly be. The Ancestors, according to my new understanding from ADF, are all of those people who came before us that created the foundation throughout for our modern world. There are many wonderful aspects to the Ancestors.

They are our links to the past and the factors that will lead us into the future. They can bring their knowledge, history, and stories from the Underworld to us, so that we may learn from them. Through meditation and ritual we can connect with the Ancestors. Once we have connected with them we can then ask for those from ancient Greek culture – as an example-- to come forth and teach us about the world during their lives. We can learn more about the details of their daily activities, of their spiritual life, and their understanding of the world. We can also call upon them to guide us as we walk our current paths in life.

Also through the veneration and worship of them we can find peace about what awaits us after this life. There are so many people seeking to know what lies beyond our current existence. Through connection with the Ancestors we can commune with them to find knowledge of what the next life is like for them. It gives us the knowledge that there is something beyond this life.

I have found comfort working with the Ancestors. I have always known there was a life after this one, but that knowledge becomes more meaningful when you have connected with those that have passed on to that new world before you. I have had the chance as well to tell people that passed suddenly that I love and they will always be in my heart. And they are able to tell me as well. I have also learned to respect myself and my background more through connecting with the Ancestors knowing they approve of the path I have taken.

Three Kindreds Essay: Spirits of Nature

Our connection with the Kindreds is a very important part of our spiritual practice. It allows us to link with those that have come before us, the ones we came from, and those that live around us. Though all three are very important, I feel the connection with the Spirits of Nature to be the most important on a day-to-day basis. The Spirits of Nature are not beings that we contact only during devotions or ritual. We need not open a gate to them. They are the beings with which we share this world. When we revere and connect with them we are forming a connection with all of life and creating bonds that we can rely on in the future. They are the animals, plants, and spirits that along with us, weave the tapestry we call Earth.

Plants, to many people, are considered lower lifeforms. This is because many only see them as mindless growing vegetation that are either in the way of humanity or are a food supply. Yet plants are so much more. They are the oxygen generators that help to keep the air rich with the life giving gas we need, in return we give them carbon-dioxide to breathe. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. Though not on the same level of intelligence as more advanced forms of life, each plant has its own very unique way of interacting with the world. While some plants provide food for other lifeforms, other plants help to form structures that keep the world bound together. A prime example would be sea oats. One of their most important functions is to help keep the sand dunes from being completely eroded by the wind and sea, in turn the sand dunes form a barrier to help slow the progress of storms from the ocean.  This does not make them a lower life form, just a different and amazing one. Plants bring growth, balance, and fertility into the world. To honor them is to honor the driving life force of the planet. When honoring them we are connecting with the world in which we live. 

The animals that fill the world are also here as more than just a food source for humanity. Animals have been honored, as have plants, from the beginning of human history. Though many of them can be lethal to us, they all provide fuel to the ever-cycling forces of life. Animals act as our guides, friends, and in many cases they become family members. Anyone who has pets knows that animals are all about give and take. They have been known to even save their human companions in times of stress and danger. They also watch out for us when there are things we cannot pick up with our human senses. In return we provide them with love, a warm home, food, and lots of attention. But pets are not the only animals that need reverence. Creatures in the wild -- be they on land, air or sea -- need to have the same type of reverence for the roles they play in our world. For all living things give to the cycles of life what is needed and for these gifts they should be honored.

Spirits of Nature are a force that Pagans have called upon throughout time. They are the beings that help maintain the balances of all life in the mortal realms. They have been seen as salamanders to wind sprites, just depending on the culture. But no matter the culture, Spirits of Nature have always held a place of reverence until modern times. Reconnecting with these wonderful creatures gives us a renewed relationship with the land that has been long lost to us as a race. This lost connection has given us a false sense of mastery over our world. To reconnect with the Spirits of Nature not only helps us as a people find our way back to a healthy path but it also awakens the land, allowing all life to grow and flourish as it should. With the connection made, we can work with our spiritual brethren to find the wounds of the planet and those around us so that we will know where healing is needed.

As beings of the middle world, we owe it to ourselves as well as those we share this realm with to regain our lost connections. This will not only bring empowerment to us but also back to the land. With the relationships rebuilt with the Spirits of Nature we will gain powerful allies that we will be friends in need as well as help us grow as a species.

Three Kindreds Essay: The Gods

My studies in the Dedicant Program for ADF I have changed my view of the gods. My studies have changed who and what the gods are to me. Also they have changed my view on how they relate to us on an individual level.

When I was a follower of the Wiccan path I saw the gods simply as different facets of the ultimate male and female deities. I didn’t have a true polytheistic view of Paganism. Male and female deities were only divided facets of one true deity. Though I still see all things as coming from one source, I see the gods now as separate individuals, children of the source. One of the other views I had on deities has changed as well. For example, I used to see the Greek goddess Hestia as the Roman goddess Vesta. Since they were only facets of the same female deity there was no need to see them as individuals, as separate goddesses that were tied to their own cultures. Now I have learned to see each god as a separate living, breathing being, each with his or her own place within the fabric of the universe.

Before, I saw no true need to get to know any deities because of my previously held view. As my outlook changed on the gods, so did my connection with Them. As I opened my mind and viewpoint of the divine, individual deities began showing Themselves to me. Once opened to the idea, I found myself being drawn to certain deities. They called to me. Though I had been drawn to certain deities because of Their dominion over things such as art, magic or nature; or simply for the imagery that depicted Them, such as with the Hindu god Ganesha, this was different in the fact that the gods Themselves were coming to me and attention. This was the event that unraveled the last of the old views that I had held about the divine for many years.

I now have a close relationship with my patrons. Every day I find more and more strength from my connection and devotion to them. I can now truly see the gifts that the gods have given to me in return for my love and devotion to Them.

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