Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Text of Oath Rite

Initiating the Rite: 
      (3 chimes each for the Ancestors, the Spirits of the Land, and The Shining Ones)

     Two Powers Meditation
     Opening Prayer: 
Power of creativity that attends us
Voice of the Well of Wisdom
Voice of the Fire of Inspiration
I call you to place the clear heart in me
Come into my heart's shrine
Guide my rite in the way of truth
O power of inspiration in this holy place
O power of inspiration at this holy time
So Be It! 

     Purification: (use mugwort to smudge three times around ritual area and then self) 
Likewise I acknowledge in myself
Weakness and doubt
Hatred and spite
Cowardice and ignorance.
I contemplate these ills and enemies
And for this sacred time
I purify myself
And set them aside.

          By the might of the smoke of the fire, this ritual is made whole and holy.

Honoring the Earth MotherMatka Ziemia - I am your child, born of your womb and nourished by your abundance.  You are the foundation of each day, as I place my feet upon you and walk this world.  I pray that you bless and uphold my rite today, as you uphold the whole world.  Matka Ziemia - accept my sacrifice!  (sprinkle barley on the ground)

Statement of Purpose:  As the ancient wise ones did before me, so I seek to do now.  I, Michelle - known to you also as Marzena - approach the gods in pride and wonder, as a seeker of blessing, bringing offerings in honor of all of the kins of spirits. I come to the well and kindle fire to make an oath of dedication to the path of the old wisdom, the eternal way. I come to give my worship to the gods and goddesses, to the beloved and wise dead, and to all the Kindreds and spirits with whom I share the worlds. Especially I bring offerings to Perun, Mokosz, Dazhbog, Marzenna and Veles. I ask them to bear witness to my oath, and guide and ward my way.
Recreating the Cosmos:
Deep water of the well - your living water saturates down into the ground, nourishing tender roots and seeds even while they slumber. And you flow beyond, past soil and stone into a land of memory and shadow, the land of our ancestors. Without you our world would be barren and lonely. Please accept this gift of silver as receipt of my gratitude. (put ring in the well)

Fire burning brightly - you above all others, have the ability to transform offerings into that which is acceptable.  I thank you for the transformation of my sacrifices and offer you this oil in gratitude. (pour oil into the fire)

Mighty tree - you which weaves all worlds together.  Your branches stretch and reach towards Tthe shining Gods and Goddesses, your roots meander deep into the soft earth beckoning to the ancestors, and your trunk connects them all here, with us, in our world today among ourselves and the spirits of this land.  I offer you this incense in deep appreciation of your services both in the past and that which you will provide here today. (light incense and place in front of tree)

Opening the Gate: You who are opposed to this rite, I acknowledge you and offer to you this, to occupy you during my work here today. (pour whiskey on the ground)

Zorya - bright morning and evening stars, mighty sisters who guard the gates of the hellhound, come to my fire.  I ask that you keep the boundaries firm against those who wish ill fortune upon this work, and open the gates so the the Kindred Three may join me here and witness my oath.  I offer you these flowers in appreciation for your assistance. (put flowers in the fire)

Let the gates be open. The water, the fire and the tree flow and flame and grow within me. Feel roots burrow deep, draw up the water of life, and stretch branches towards the fire of the sky.

(Note to Self:  take a moment to recenter/ground if necessary)

Offerings to the Kindreds:
     Ancestors - A child of the Earth calls out to the mighty dead. Hear me, I pray, O ancestors, my kindred. To those whose blood is my blood, to those from far away lands that offered the first sacrifice and learned the proper ways to honor the Slavic gods and goddesses - you are welcome here at my fire!  I greet you with a joyous heart and kind words.  I ask you to hear my voice and witness my oath. I pray to you to guide my ways as I walk the path of the Old Ways.  Mighty dead, accept my offering (pour ale  and breadcrumbs into hole in the earth)

     Nature Spirits - A child of the Earth calls out to the tribes of spirits. Hear me, I pray, O companions, my allies.  Spirits of this land, you who live among the trees, in the tall grasses and deep withing the native waters, you have a place here at my fire.  To the Kindreds of stone and stream; to those of leaf and root and shoot, to those of fur and feather and scale. To all, I give welcome at my sacred fire.  I offer to you, lovely wild ones. I ask you to hear my voice and witness my oath. I pray that you will open my way as I walk the way of the earth in reverence. Nature Spirits, I give you honor and welcome you with sacrifice.  (sprinkle salt on the ground)

     Deities - A child of the Earth calls out to the Shining Ones. Hear me, I pray, gods and goddesses of old time.  You who are worthy of worship, you who make all things possible - your glory is brighter than all creation and inspires greatness in those who follow you.  The first children of the Mother, the wisest and mightiest; to all the deities of this land, known or unknown - you are welcome here at my fire.  Eldest and brightest, mighty ones who watch over me, I ask you to hear my voice and witness my oath. I pray you empower my ways as I walk the path of divine magic, the way of the elders. Accept this sacrifice and know that my heart calls for you. (place incense packet in the fire)

(Note to Self: pause to meditate for a while on the presence of the host of spirits called. Speak in your heart to whichever of them may present themselves and listen for their voice)

Key Offerings:

Mighty Perun - God of lightning, dispenser of justice.  With your mighty powers you conquer the serpent which threatens to destroy our world in confusion and drought.  You hold chaos at bay and bring order to this world. Come to my fire and witness my oath.  Accept this sacrifice in gratitude of your presence and assistance - in the past, here today and in the future.  Perun, accept my sacrifice. (pour the mead into the fire along with the Perun envelope that contains incense)

Mokosz - Goddess of grain, you who germinates and gestates the seeds, roots and shoots that brings life and beauty to our world. Your gifts are abundant and provide nourishment and enjoyment both for our bodies and our souls.  Come to my fire and witness my oath.  Accept this sacrifice for all that you give. Mokosz, accept my sacrifice! (place Mokosz envelope with vegetable seeds and embroidery thread in the fire)

Dazhbog - Mighty blacksmith, brilliant inventor - you who gave fire to mankind and continues to inspire our works.  Our world would be dark and lifeless without your daily pulling of the sun across the sky in your chariot.  Come to my fire and witness my oath.  I offer this sacrifice in gratitude for your generosity.  Dazhbog, accept my sacrifice! (place Dazhbog envelope with metal beads in the fire)

Marzanna - Goddess of winter and death, mistress of visions.  You who weave winter across this land and blanket the fields in frost and slumber.  Come to my fire and witness my oath.  I offer you this gift, in appreciation for the essential workings that you craft so well.  Marzanna, accept my sacrifice (place Marzanna envelope with bone and incense in the fire)

Veles -  God of cattle, magic, poetry and music.  Punisher of broken oaths, mighty god of liminality and master of the gates between the living and the dead.  Come to my fire and witness my oath.  From early in this journey of mine you have kept watch over me and provided me assistance.  Even when I was not aware, you patiently led me on to where I needed to be.  You have been my keeper, tending to a member of your herd like the good shepherd that you are.  Please accept this offering, in sincere gratitude for all that you have done, and will continue to do.  Veles, accept my sacrifice! (pour vodka into the file along with Veles envelope with oats)

The Oath Sacrifice: 
A child of the Earth comes here to make an oath to the powers of the worlds. I come by the road of seeking, through the door of new learning, to the fire of inspiration, to the well of wisdom, to the gates between the worlds.
Hear me, O powers, as I offer up this sacrifice.  I give you my oath as an offering in your honor. O mighty, noble and shining ones, hear me, I pray.  I am Michelle, sometimes known to you as Marzena, and it is my will to walk the Pagan way.  I swear by the gods and by the dead and by all the spirits. I swear to live by the virtues given by tradition, to strive to live well and do good. I swear to keep the Old Ways, to keep the feasts and observances and the wheel of the year. I swear to seek the truth of the elder ways, to learn the lore and meaning of our ancestors' wisdom. These things I swear by the well that flows in me, by the fire that shines in me, by the tree that roots and crowns my soul.
Before all the powers, and especially before my gods Perun, Mokosz, Dazhbog, Marzenna, and Veles,  I swear it. Before the blessed Mother Earth, Matka Ziemia, I swear it and whisper it to her. (Kneel and whisper oath to the earth)  Like the ancients of old I take a piece of her within me to seal this oath.  (with knife take a small piece of earth and eat it)  May the three worlds rise against me if I am forsworn, and may Veles punish me if my word be broken.  So be it!
Mighty, noble and shining ones, accept my sacrifice and my oath!

The Omens:  
I ask that the Kindreds speak to me.  (go through questions with the cards)

     What wisdom do you share with me?
     What blessings do you offer?
     What do you request of me to further our work together?

Charm for Hallowing of the Water:  
As a child of the Earth I call for the blessings of the Kindreds to impregnate this water.  I fill the belly of my spirit with this drink - O Holy Ones, give as I have given to you!  Let this vessel receive your blessings! (drink some from the cup)

The Blessing:
(Note to Self: as you sip renew your center, and feel yourself drinking in the power of the gods and spirits)

Take up the dedication token and anoint it with the waters from the cup.

I dedicate this necklace as a symbol and reminder of my oath here today.  As in ancient days, this lunula I will wear as a child of the Earth and as a Slavic woman.  May it serve always to remind me of my oath.  Let the blessing of the powers shine and flow in it, turning aside ill and kindling wisdom, love and power in my spirit. (put necklace on)

(Note to Self: meditate for a time on the whole work: on the surroundings, and the spirits and the pagan path)

Affirmation of the Blessings:  
By this work I am blessed.  To all that have aided me here today, I give thanks. 

Thanking the Beings:
Perun, Mokosz, Dazhbog, Marzenna and Veles - may I always be right in my worship and the recipient of your blessings.

Ancestors and the Spirits of the Land - thank you for witnessing my oath and participating in this rite.

Closing the Gates
Zorya - sisters - I offer you gratitude for minding the gates so that I could honor the Kindred and make my oath today in peace.  Your work here today is done.

Thanking the Earth Mother: 
Matka Ziemia, thank you for upholding this rite and blessing me and mine daily with your generous gifts.

Statement of Ending
May the tree be just a tree, the well just water, and the fire a simple fire.  Let me leave here today with blessings upon me and peace within. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mental Discpline Essay

Let me preface this essay be explaining that over the years I had had no luck with mainstream approaches to meditation - my very active mind could never quite overcome the surrounding stimuli to result in anything productive or meaningful.  I abandoned any attempts at productive meditation about 15 years ago.  On the other hand, dreaming had, from a very early age, been an important way for me to process information, try out new situations and on some occasions, become privy to information that would otherwise not have been available to me.  In hindsight, trance work would have been a better choice.

In 2012 a fellow grove-mate introduced me meditative trance work that utilized recorded drumming sessions; using this format was challenging as I adjusted to the audio stimulus, but after 8 minutes or so I realized that I was able to shut out my surroundings and "go with the flow" of the visions.  That session only last 10 minutes but was very promising.

My first attempt to work towards the mental discipline requirement of the DP was in the fall of 2012. My plans were to use a 20 minute drum trance session at least once a week.  Over the course of a few weeks I was able to complete a few sessions and through these experiences I confirmed a relationship with the Slavic hearth culture and ancestors.  Alas, after five weeks or so of this routine my schedule changed and I found it increasingly difficult to make the time (an ensure a quite atmosphere without the kids around) to continue this practice.

After falling off the wagon (so to speak), for several months I was determined to initiate and complete the required five months of mental discipline.  I began once more in late August of 2013 and again used the 20  minute drum trance recording, followed by a simple one card reading afterwards for clarification and contemplation (all of this to be recorded in a journal).  My goal was to do this at least once a week and on the high days.  What I found very interesting was that from the beginning the realm or environment (for lack of a better word) that I found myself in during these sessions was very different from what I had experienced the previous autumn.  I began to visit with what would become a recurring figure that resided in a cottage in a shallow valley.  Over the course of the first month I began to realize that this figure was Veles, Slavic god of cattle, commerce, magic, the underworld and music.  I was a bit surprised by this, as I hadn't spent as much devotional energies towards Veles as towards some of the other Slavic deities such as Perun and Mokosz.  But time after time he appeared and clearly wanted some commitment from me.  In one particularly memorable trance I finally made a tentative oath to Veles - immediately after I made the oath I was jolted out of the trance by an extremely loud thunder/lightening strike from nearby on our property.  In ancient Slavic cultures oaths were sworn before/in the name of two deities - Perun (god of war and thunder) and Veles.  It was as if Perun made his formal witnessing of the oath known.

During the second month there was a bit more variability in my trance visions.  Sometimes the ancestors were there, and in others I was once again in the realm visited in the sessions from the fall of 2012.  Sometimes I began the session with a specific question in mind, and sometimes I just went with the flow.  I began experimenting with using the Two Powers meditation at the beginning of my sessions.  During the trances I was still frequenting Veles and his cottage; often this served as the "launch pad" for the main activity of the session.  Once during this month my MP3 player died before the drumming was over.  Lesson learned.  I did a session every week this month, plus an additional one on the autumnal equinox.

During the third month I determined that the weekly trance sessions were more effective if I did the Two Powers meditation at the beginning; I also felt like going into the session with a specific question in mind was better than not having a focus.  Some Scythian elements began to creep in to the imagery I experienced, and the amount of underground elements increased.  Once I remained the tree from the Two Powers meditation for the entire time, and it was quite serene.  I also experimented with a shorter 12 minute drum session when I was short on time (figuring a short session was better than no session at all).

At the start of the fourth month I began smudging mugwort 20 minutes or so before I began the session - this definitely seemed to enhance the trance.  I also began to feel that sometimes the 20 minute drum session wasn't long enough - sometimes I was just getting to the crux of things when the drum pattern changed to call me back.  Due to time constraints I had to miss a weekly session and definitely felt the loss - this had clearly become a habit.  I did do an "extra" session on the winter solstice.  Near the end of the month I acquired a longer drum trance recording (up to 60 minutes) and was very pleased to have the flexibility.  My relationship with Veles continued to strengthen.

During the fifth month of regular trance sessions I focused on my individual relationships with the nature spirits, the ancestors, and with the Shining Ones.  I had stopped using the mugwort smudge prior to sessions but started it back up because of what seemed a noticeable beneficial difference.  I did an extra session for the new year and I spoke with the kindred about my future practice as a Druid and what to include in my upcoming oath rite.

Going forward, I can see myself continuing this practice - although with a bit more flexibility as far as schedule.  I will definitely use this process as a resource when I need guidance or advice, or to note special holidays.  I am also interested in the possibility of exploring the role of seer, and how these practices work within that construct.