Fun fact: this was going to be a quick post, but it got rambly. I summarized the important parts in bold if you want to skim and see the ‘sense’ behind all the whining.

Solstice is here, and my ritual is not yet prepared. According to the ADF’s Dedicant Path ‘rules’ (I guess they’re just best practices, born of experience) I can perform my own ADF ritual within a week of the actual calendar date and have it ‘count.’

But, really, I expect more from myself.

Also, who has time one week after the winter solstice? I might no longer view Christmas as a religious holiday, but I’ll have family at home, and they will certainly view it as a family holiday, requiring my presence enough that I probably can’t ‘sneak off’ to the woods for a few hours for a ritual.

Summary: I’d like to do my ritual tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday.

Here’s the problem: I’ve been drifting. A lot of thinking, combined with asking Brigid for an omen, has convinced me that I need to ‘try out’ a new hearth culture. The local ADF protogrove organizer didn’t see it as a problem: “try a ritual with the Norse Gods, try one with the Roman Gods, see what works for you.”

It was a good idea, but it didn’t fit into my idea of reverence. My hearth culture, I think, should be more than a pair of shoes that I pull on for the occasion and then discard. Not that I was planning to ‘become’ a celt when I was working with the celtic hearth culture, but I was reading celtic mythology, trying to identify the values of the celts and at least ask myself if they were values I could adopt. (I was a bit put off by all of the killing, and I wonder if there’s a historic culture who’s understanding of manhood is close to my own.)

There was one more obstacle. I’ve been using the tarot cards a lot to try and work more with my ancestors — since my hearth has been ‘orphaned’ they’ve been who I’ve asked for omens — and the omen I got (Prince of Pentacles, if you want to look it up) suggested that I need to focus on the magic ‘under my feet.’

I took that as an indication that I needed to get back to what drew me to Druidry in the first place: reverence for the Earth Mother and the nature spirits.

But for an ADF ritual I need a gatekeeper. And, despite the assurance that I could use a crane (“Why not an oak?” I asked the grove leader. “Sounds interesting. Give it a try.” Was the answer. I’m not confident enough to begin giving things a try.)

Summary: I felt the need for a hearth culture, but it seemed that my ancestors were telling me to not let that become the focus of my spirituality.

When I thought about paganism at first, I felt drawn to the Roman pantheon. Only when I realized that ‘real’ druids are Celtic did I make the change. Now, in retrospect, I see other ways that the Roman pantheon fits me: there’s more to learn in the open-a-book-and-read sense, and I missed that scafolding with the celtic pantheon. There’s also a lot more known about the actual practice. Even more, the Romans were a (flawed, but) cosmopolitan people, accoustomed to moving away from their homelands (as I have done) and were early masters of what we now call cultural appropriation. Which, basically, is what I’m doing.

So, I fired up the candle and — having nevere asked a diety for an omen without praying to it for quite a while first — asked my ancestors for help as I asked Janus for an omen to contemplate as I considered asking him to serve as my gatekeeper.

The omen wasn’t good:

nine swords

It’s the Nine of Swords and it’s not the kind of card you have to open the book to see if it’s promising or not. (I did wind up opening both my tarot books, I take communications offered to me by a God pretty seriously.)


Poking around the ADF website and the greater Pagan internet, I realized that some used another gatekeeper: Proserpina (you can find more if you google the Greek goddess from whom she inherited a lot of her mythology and traits: Persephone)

The same thing again, this time feeling even more stupid because I was afraid I’d get her name wrong, make an idiot of myself. Still, I liked the idea of getting her input on the idea before writing her into a ritual.

The omen was more promising. The ten of pentacles.

ten pentacles

Just the image looks much nicer. Turns out that it suggests either creating or inheriting a legacy. Both of which, I think, are things a dad would like to think he’s doing as he looks for a hearth culture.

So, I still have a lot to learn, and I haven’t forgotten the admonition of my ancestors to keep my spirituality more about honoring the Earth Goddess (Tellus Mater? I’m not ready to go that far down the Roman path just yet. I’ve come to appreciate her as the Earth Mother) and the nature spirits (Numens? Not yet!)

Now, I have to get the ritual written — there are some beautiful rituals on the ADF site — cleanse myself, get centered and perform it and see how it goes.


2 thoughts on “The Search for a Gatekeeper

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