Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oath Rite Review and Evaluation

Ah, the oath rite.  For many it is the last requirement to check off the list of DP necessities and I was no exception.  I had been thinking about my oath off and on for the better part of nine months, and very seriously for the last two months or so.  After lots of contemplation and a few focused meditation sessions I came up with my plan.  I was to take February 28th off work and perform the ritual outside at home once my kids had been dropped off at their respective schools (I wanted the solitude to make it easier to concentrate).  I had the full ritual written over two weeks prior to date of the rite.  I had worked with an artist on Etsy to get a small, silver crescent-shaped pendant for my significant symbol of the oath - not only was it visually appealing but harkened back to the lunula pendants commonly found in the graves of Slavic women from the 10th through 12th centuries.  It hung from my jewelry tree for a month as I put the pieces of the oath rite together.  I often looked at the necklace as a reminder of what was to come, and longed for the time when I could wear it.

Flowers for the Zorya and barley for Matka Ziemia
Early in the oath rite week it became clear that a change of plans may be needed; the weather forecast spoke of increasing cold and freezing rain/snow for the 28th.  I would either need to change my date for the ritual or consider having it indoors.  It had always been very important to me to perform the rite outside on the property my family owns and I wondered if the change in the weather was Marzanna's way of telling me to just get on with it.  I decided to complete the oath rite on the evening of the 26th - it was a beautiful winter day with highs near 40 and bright sun (the last nice day of the week).  I gathered my materials together and began laying out the make-shift altar as my husband graciously built the fire up. 

Not long into setting up the space I realized that the necklace - the specially requested, very symbolic, beautiful oath rite necklace - had slipped off my arm sometime in the trek from the house to the fire (about 80 yards).  Dismayed, I scoured the ground over and over again, looking for the necklace.  After a half hour of frantic searching (and with help from my husband) it became clear that I would have to let it go (at least for now) in order to get the rite completed.  I quickly grabbed a ring from my jewelry stash and determined that I would reword that portion of the ritual to make clear that the ring would be a temporary symbol until I could find/obtain a lunula.

Make-shift altar
 So, after all that I began the ritual a bit later than intended.  At the start of the ritual the wind chill was around 30 degrees, so I had layered up and put on extra pairs of socks, hoping that this would be enough to get me through.  The fire was big and bright and the sky was that glorious mix of blue and purple that announces the start of the sunset.

The ritual began smoothly as I purified myself and the area and recreated the cosmos.  I had forgotten to bring salt for the nature spirits, so I offered them a portion of mead originally set aside for Perun and noted its ingredient of honey.  I also forgot to do the Two Powers meditation at the beginning, so I did it just before the opening of the gates.  For the gate opening I called on the Zorya - goddesses that, in all honesty, I have not worked with that much.  Despite this I felt like they were very much present and active and found my sacrifice of flowers pleasing.

By the time of the key offerings the chill was definitely creeping into my bones and I was beginning to stumble on a few words because of this.  Due to the darkness it was also becoming increasingly difficult to read the script.  I managed my way through the oath sacrifice and onto the omens.  For the omens I used the Wildwood Tarot deck and asked/received the following:

What wisdom do you share with me?
      Answer:  Ace of Bows*Spark of Life
          "By shaping, directing and persevering with the tool that both hunts and nurtures fire, we kindle the spark that starts the process of creation and empowerment...Be prepared to learn new skills, adapt to a changing environment and focus and tune your instincts to the task at hand."

This omen serves as a reminder that, while many see the oath rite as a ending place (the final piece of the DP puzzle), this is not really a stopping point.  Learning, practice, patience and change are all required and to be expected as I continue on this path.

What blessing do you offer?
     Answer:  Ten of Arrows*Instruction
          "Instruction and communication are required between the generations to help use old skills in new ways...we must take a conscious effort to pass on traditional wisdom and skills and make the relationship with those disciplines as vital as ever."

I see this omen as two-fold; first as an invitation from the ancestors concerning their willingness to serve as teachers as I continue my path and begin exploring in more detail the role of seer.  Secondly, I also see it as a reminder that we must keep our faith a living and breathing tradition and include our children so that knowledge is not lost.


What do you request of me to further our work together?
     Answer:  Page of Stones*Lynx
          "Pay attention to the physical realm, and be aware of the effects generated by everything you do.  A strain of wildness and lack of forethought can sometimes hamper your forward passage, but careful consideration redresses the balance."

With this omen I see the kindred asking me to remain diligent and reflective about my work within the faith (rather than a relaxed, seat-of-my-pants, willy-nilly approach).  Whether it is comments on Facebook, working with our local grove or studying the Seers Guild study program I should remain mindful and aware of the consequences of my actions.

Overall, I felt that the omens were very positive and helpful.

By this time the cold was becoming unbearable as the windchill hovered near 20 degrees.  Despite multiple layers on my hands and feet my fingers and toes were changing from tingly-numb to tingly-painful.  This made the drinking of the blessing a bit challenging, but I purposefully made myself go slow so that I wasn't rushing through things and not really being present.  When it came time to dedicate the token I changed the wording some to make clear that the ring would stand in temporarily until a lunula was available.

After this I finished the ritual and quickly gathered up important items to take in, along with throwing any extra water from the well/cup onto the fire.  My fingers and toes were excruciatingly in pain and I headed to the shower to warm up and wash off the smell of the fire.

Later, I realized that I had thrown the water in the well onto the fire before removing my treasured ring that had silvered the well.  And my husband also reported that his cell phone went missing some time near the end of getting the fire ready.  The ring was eventually recovered in the ashes of the fire, but the lunula pendant and cell phone are still missing at the time of this writing (despite three days of treasure hunting sessions by both me and my husband).  I've prayed for the pendant's return, and also made an offering to the polevik to aid in the search.  Yesterday in a meditation session I asked the Kindred for assistance and, surprisingly, Baba Yaga showed up.  I have not had any previous workings with her, so it was a bit of a curveball.  The card I drew afterwards for clarification was the Page of Bows*Stoat card - one I have never previously drawn.  It speaks of dreams and vision and the appearance of a stranger.  All of this seems very fitting with Baba Yaga and suggests that I need to forge some relationship with her.

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