Monday, June 10, 2013

Reciprocal Relationships

          One of the most fundamental principles in ADF Druidry is that of reciprocal relationships. It is through the establishment of these relationships that our Druidry affords us the benefits of our connections with the Kindred. First let us take a moment to define reciprocal relationship. Merriam-Webster defines reciprocal as: "2 : shared, felt, or shown by both sides  3 : serving to reciprocate : consisting of or functioning as a return in kind...  4 : mutually corresponding..." Basically each party working to create a give and take type relationship, even if not friendly it is respectful.But what makes reciprocal relationship work? Where else can reciprocal relationships develop?

          So with this base understanding of reciprocal relationships, let us take a deeper look at what makes a reciprocal relationship work. Is it giving gifts of equal value? Well that is a great question... but not one that is so easy to answer. Take for example the creation of a reciprocal relationship between the gods and humanity. In giving sacrifices we give to the Kindred what is of value to us, something that to a degree is a hardship. This could be butter we worked to create, or breads, or a brew... but it is something not easy to replace. That is the point of sacrifice. If what we give is no more important that a piece of paper you trash without a second thought it is not a very meaningful sacrifice. So, say you give a gift that is truly a sacrifice for you to give. Then the Kindred are obligated to give a gift of themselves that is just as much as sacrifice to them as our gift is to us. It is not about equal value of the exchange but the equality of that exchange. If you give your best then the return should be given to you; In the case of the Kindred that could be considerably more than what you are capable of giving. Now, with that said we give these gifts and sacrifices without demanding the reciprocation. That is part of being a good host, see how hospitality comes into play? And being a good guest, the Kindred give in return. We also create this reciprocal relationship through regular devotions and rituals, especially in those where we are not requesting specific aid but simply showing honor.
         Now here is a question for you... can you only create reciprocal relationships with the Kindred? Are they the only beings in which this kind of relationship is desired? Well that really depends on what Druid you ask. As for myself... well honestly I view things like this: I believe anyone can create a reciprocal relationship... one that benefits both parties involved and where each is giving something to the other in turn. I believe this includes those that we in ADF call Outdwellers or Outsiders. The reason for this line of thinking is this; the best possible way to prevent someone or something from being disruptive is to give them a gift and in return they gift you with peace, for a disruptive being this really is a huge sacrifice for them. An example of this in a more mundane way of thinking: I use to live in a great apartment complex that was filled with slightly older people who enjoyed their peace and quiet. Well I was going to throw a dinner party one weekend but was worried I would bother these neighbors... one in particular was always complaining even when I walked about in my apartment. So I came up with a great idea. I have her a gift card for the movie theater and gave her a nice bottle of wine ( had seen her carrying empty bottles of wine out regularly). So she went to the movies during my dinner party and when she got back from the movie, drank her wine. She was happy that I had given her the gift... I was happy I had gotten to have my dinner party... and we were able to both have what we wanted. When I give offering in ritual to the Outdwellers I always make sure it is just as much a sacrifice as those I plan on giving in ritual. I do not want to often those that I would prefer stay away from my workings. I believe by doing this I begin to create a reciprocal relationship: I get peace (major sacrifice from disruptive beings) and they get offerings they normally would got without. We both benefit from this.

          Reciprocal relationships do not always have be between those we wish to move closer too. They can be formed between groups that would normally be at odds with each other. Through reciprocal relationships we can create a common ground that can benefit all involved. If we observe our virtues of hospitality, vision and wisdom we will find there are always the opportunity to create mutually beneficial connections.
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