Imbolc 2018

So, when Imbolc was a way off, I had plans. Big plans. The way you do, when you aren’t responsible for implementing those plans, yet.

As it approached, however, I just wasn’t feeling it. I like the idea of constructing my own quasi-Roman holiday, naming it Februaria, and honoring the Earth Mother, the dieties of light, and, of course, the ancestors. But I didn’t really form any full ideas.

Then the day got nearer.

Yesterday, I blocked out time to do it today.

Then today came, and I let myself get distracted. Was I going to not celebrate it?

Sorry, kindreds, I’m just not feeling it today

I almost stepped in front of the altar and said some version of that. It wasn’t a holiday that resonated with me, and I could persuade myself that the kindred didn’t want forced praise and thanks, did they?

Then I remembered the word orthopraxic and I thought, I want to be the kind of guy who does the right thing, whether he feels like it or not. How often have I stood in front of the altar and said some version of “I praise you, for it is good that a mortal should praise the Gods”? Call it integrity — my commitment to be my most full self — that made me get in front of the altar and do something.

A spontaneous ritual

Spontaneous rituals seem to get the most emotional response from me. Even the rituals that I write myself don’t have the emotional content of me thinking on my feet. (See Samhain 2016) That’s not why I chose to go spontaneous, it was really because I almost didn’t do anything.

So, in front of my altar, I praised Vestas and got a good omen when I lit the candle on the first try (these things matter to me) and then, with just the fire and the tree, I proceeded to ask Proserpine to assist as the gatekeeper. Then, with nothing to offer but praise, I offered praise to the deities of light, beginning with Vestas, then Sol, Luna, Apollo and Diana.

Finally, I took an omen to ask Vestas for a bit of wisdom as I consider how to more genuinely worship her. I got the Knight of Wands.


omen vestas
Knight of Wands

I had a good feeling about the card but didn’t look it up until the ritual was finished. Then, I wound the ritual down, genuinely glad that I’d done more than just call it off.

The Omen

Later, I looked up the knight of wands in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom and was well pleased. Realizing that Wands are the suit of Fire was nice. Here is the bit that gave me encouragement:

Because Fire itself symbolizes movement, the knight of Wands shows this quality in the extreme. He represents eagerness, action, movement for its own sake, adventure and travel.


Notice that on his shirt the salamanders’ tails do not touch their mouths, symbolizing incomplete action, unformed plans. In contrast to the King, the Knight has only begun his adventures.

That seems to be an omen that I can work with as I try to find ways to honor Vestas in my own home, at my own hearth.


Very few beliefs to be a witch…

In the process of reading Drawing Down the Moon for my Dedicant’s Path, I realized that there were passages jumping out at me and that I should probably record them. As I’m not blogging a lot here, this seemed a good place to do it.

This is from the end of a chapter on Wicca called “The Craft Today” and is from a letter that was written to the author.

It sounds as if there are really very few eiefs that one needs to be a Witch. In fact–correct me if I’m wrong–the only thing one really needs, the only thing all varieties of Witches have in common, is a belief in the power of what I shall call the moon principle (for lack of a better term)–that from which springs the intuitive, the psychic, the mysterious, that which is somehow aligned with the female, the hidden, the unknown.

This is a vague concept, tue, but I think necessarily so, for two reasons: (1) Our culture, being so strongly based on the antithetical principle, has few means of dealing with this side of life other than to clothe it in ambiguous shadowy terms or condemn it as evil. (2) Being so vague, it is closer to being universal than the more rigidly defined religions or philosophies; more different types of people, as you found, cann associate themselves with it.

As more things catch my eye, it seems to make sense that I write them down here.

Hazle flowers

So, after seeing what I think are hazle flowers in my local park and thinking “isn’t it early for them? What time did they come out last year?” I realized that maybe I should start keeping track of these things.

For that reason, allow me to present to your some hazle flowers, as witnessed on January 5th, 2018:

hazle flowes

Updated Solstice Ritual

I’ve been putting off getting ready for the winter solstice. The fact of the matter is, I’ve never done a ritual with the family at home (unless I myself was doing the ritual in the woods) and I’ve had family home for quite a while.

Nonetheless, we had our Yule dinner last Saturday (a full week early, but it fit social schedules) and I’d like to have he solstice ritual before my sister arrives this Thursday. So, in preparation for the Yule dinner I drew the two of cups and needed quite a bit of time to make any sense of it.

Whether what I understood is the same as what the ancestors wanted to tell me is not clear, but I wanted to make Yule as much about the Earth Mother as about Sol. And, so I doctored the script I used two years ago, to this final version, and hope to have the ritual tomorrow.

Connectedness might mean seeing things individually

Since my Samhain ritual, I have been hoping to see the connections between things more. And, yes, perhaps I’ve been forcing it more than I should.

My experience

My experience with it this far is that I’ve gone from seeing ‘a biker’ when I’m out on a run, to seeing ‘a biker in nice clothes, probably going home from work.’ And, admittedly, I feel a bit more connected.

The moment when I think I know what it’s like to just want to be at home makes me feel more connected to the biker, and, by association, the world at large. And, realizing that the biker is there for a reason, accomplishing a goal, makes me understand that there are millions of invisible connections (bikers, walkers, animal droppings) between seemingly unrelated areas in the city.


Here’s the thing: I don’t think I’m genuinely connecting to anything more than myself. I mean, the biker could just as easily be on the way to a date, or to help her mother set up WiFi. I’m assigning an emotion and then rewarding myself for thinking “gosh, I know just how he or she feels.”

And, even the other ‘connections’ I’m seeing originate with me. I’m not getting out into the world and having inspirations. I’m just applying what I already know.

When I think about it that way, it doesn’t feel so much like progress.


The long and the short of the story is this: it’s clearly progress of some kind. But, at the same time, it’s not the finish line. I think I should read more to find connections that don’t originate with me.

And, as I pursue a feeling of connectedness, maybe more meditation and less ‘pure intellectualism’ is a good idea.

A hearth culture

I’ve been meaning to write about the term hearth culture for a while now. It’s one of those ADF artifacts in my practice that I might not have thought of on my own.

ADF requires that dedicants chose a hearth culture during their dedicant’s path work. Initially, I equated hearth culture with ‘pantheon.’ I figured that I picked a set of Gods and that was it. Initially, I thought I’d “give the Celtic Gods a go” and went with them. That didn’t work out, and I eventually switched to the Roman pantheon.

Finished, right?

But, in trying to draw closer to my Gods, to understand them and to understand how I can form a relationship with them, I found myself sinking further and further into the culture part of the thing. Culture is defined as:

  • the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively
  • the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society

And, slowly, that’s what I’m getting into. I’m a big fan of anything that promises to help me “think like a Roman.” I cooked Roman food. I read Roman history. I contemplated Roman virtus.

Initially, I liked the idea that “the Romans belong to nobody.” Being an outsider in Germany was enough. I didn’t want to also be an outsider in another culture, as well. Blah.

Eventually, I found myself frustrated to think that I was emulating a culture that embraced slavery. I had to become critical of what I praised and chose to emulate about the Romans. I found myself fascinated as what I learned about the Romans grew enough to be a ‘second cultural lens’ through which I could view the world around me. Super helpful.

And then I started contemplating the word “hearth.” It’s equated with the idea of home in the expression “hearth and home,” but what is it?

I don’t have an answer, yet, but it’s basically the fire, with all that entails, at the center of your home. And, I have to say that I’ll welcome a lot of people into my home — my landlord, various handymen, the delivery guy, neighbors, missionaries — who I wouldn’t want to sit around my fire with me.

My conclusion: A hearth is more intimate than a home.

And, throw the word ‘culture’ on there, with the good and the bad that that entails, and you get the “culture of your intimate space.”

A better writer, or a more well-thought out post, would tie all this up with a bow. I don’t have that.

I just like the idea that I started off with a set of Gods — probably not even the most important part of my spiritual path — and wound up with the culture of my intimate space.

ADF Artifacts

Prompted by discussions on ADF member boards about whether ADF is worth the money ($30/year, and yes it is) I’ve started thinking of what I think of as ADF artifacts.

By this, I mean the things that I do that I probably wouldn’t have thought or known to do, if I had simply gone with “finding my own way” in paganism. There’s no question that the Dedicant’s Path helped me to progress faster than I would have, and that the required reading (I’ve read more from the list than was required… but then, reading is one thing that I’m abnormally good at) has been beneficial. But, I mean simple things that I find really valuable.

For example, the simple phrase “the light rises in me” when I blow out a candle. I don’t think it’s ADF specific, but that’s where I got it, and I’m glad for it.

Or, the concept of the outdwellers or of a hearth culture. I don’t think I’ve heard (or read) those terms outside of ADF, and I’m sure I wouldn’t think of them on my own.

So, the long and the short of it is: if you’ve been considering joining ADF, I recommend it wholeheartedly!