Life in review: the Quickening Moon

In the perennial druidry course, this moon is the Quickening Moon, which only comes every four years and is dedicated to review. In Orr’s words:

Although the Quickening Moon comes every four years, at each of these moons we review the past seven years. The reason for this is that every seven years we have renewed through regeneration every cell in our bodies.

So, the last seven years in review. That’s hard, because I feel so… constant. Still, as I began looking at photos from seven years ago, one big change in my life occured to me:

Children. I could talk a lot about how children changed me, but I’m assuming that, if you don’t have children yourself, you know someone (your parents?) who have children and you’ve heard enough on the subject.

There is one thing I want to say: having kids really encouraged me to actively rethink my life. Constant improvement has always been part of my personal mythology, but having kids, an audience, being a role model, these things have made me really think about being the best me I can be.

With kids, I no longer bike without a helmet, because if they can’t, I can’t. With kids, I realized that I was a spiritual person and, while I don’t need an answer to what that looks like for me right now, I needed to be looking, and including them in that. Not that we all arrive at the same destination, but that they understand the importance of journey.

Journey as lifestyle might be what I most take away from the birth of my kids. I mean, there’s the journey you know about — my constant searching for a way to live as a quietly pagan man — but there are things like trying to teach myself programming, amateur radio. Working to improve my mathematical abilities and understanding of the ecosystem’s complexities. Trying to get in shape, and to understand what that even means for a man of my age and physical requirements.

All of these are things that I try to include my children in, not because any of them are the right journeys to be on, but because I think it’s important to actively — if gently — work to avoid giving the impression that ‘growth’ is synonymous with ‘school’ and that when the latter is finished, so is the former.

Conclusion. I’d like to write on this more, see more photos, think about who I was and who I became, but, if I don’t make the time for that, I think it was nice that this moon helped me realize that the last seven years were years in which I decided not to work towards perfection, but to work towards always working towards something.

My Autumn Equinox

So, I suppose it’s a bit late to be writing this up, but it’s been on my list of things to do for a while.

My strongest memory of the autumn equinox was my sense of nervousness. The script included an up-or-down omen on whether the offerings were accepted and that will continue to frighten me for a while. (Remember the drama of my first autumn equinox ritual and the following Samhain? Sure, it led to me working with a pantheon I’m very comfortable with, but it was still uncomfortable.)

So, there was that and the fact that I was expanding a little on my bare-bones Core Order or Ritual format. I should be writing these omens down, but I remember that I took an omen before incorporating my little pseudo Eleusinian mysteries into the ritual. But, even with the positive omen, it was outside my comfort zone.

I’m not going to keep you in suspense: the ritual went well and my offerings were accepted. It was another really positive ritual of the sort where, in the moment everything felt right and it felt like I was part of something bigger than me, but now, reflecting on it, I don’t know what exactly I felt.

Still, I have an affinity for Proserpine and I am glad to have observed this particular part of the wheel of the year the way I did.

Autumn Equinox Script

So, autumn equinox has come and gone, and I spent a good bit of it very frustrated with the way ADF members (or not?) responded to one person asking if ADF would consider supporting Black Lives Matter.

I’m not proud of that.

However, for the dedicant’s path, I have a week to hold my ritual, so I’ve been busy scripting away — mostly modifying the script of last year’s disasterous ritual — at a script I can use when I have some time to myself tomorrow.

I’ve decided this year, to observe something of the Eleusian Mysteries in the ritual, giving myself some purpose to a high day that seems popular only in the opportunity it gives ‘reconstructionists’ to be disparaging.

The mysteries, obviously, are mysterious. We don’t know exactly what they taught, but I did find this quote from Cicero:

For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called “initiations,” so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope.

Cicero, Laws II, xiv, 36

Somewhere — in a book by Robert Graves, perhaps — I’ve read something about the Eleusian Mysteries promising something similar to the Christian ‘eternal life.’ The best I could find is this:

When Demeter came to our land, in her wandering after the rape of Kore, and, being moved to kindness towards our ancestors by services which may not be told save to her initiates, gave these two gifts, the greatest in the world – the fruits of the earth, which have enabled us to rise above the life of the beasts, and the holy rite which inspires in those who partake of it sweeter hopes regarding both the end of life and all eternity, – our city was not only so beloved of the gods but also so devoted to mankind that, having been endowed with these great blessings, she did not begrudge them to the rest of the world, but shared with all men what she had received. The mystic rite we continue even now, each year, to reveal to the initiates; and as for the fruits of the earth, our city has, in a word, instructed the world, in their uses, their cultivation, and the benefits derived from them.
(Panegyricus 28-29)

So, I have no intention at all of preparing a ritual which will ensure eternal life. But, I’ve read suggestions that it’s the combination of Demeter as a giver-of-life here on the surface and Persephone as Queen of the Underworld that suggests we are forever in the care of the two.

Either way, as the seasons are shifting here, to me it makes sense to make the two — using their Roman names Proserpine and Ceres — the focus of my ritual.

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The Iliad – Book one, part two

In this little snippet of the Iliad, we hear me ramble too much (need to tighten up my focus!) but more importantly, we witness a brief interaction between Achilles, the young and arrogant hero, and Athena.

From it, I try to moderate my expectations on what it means to have a relationship with a God — or, for that reason — with a person, probably.

Virtus – the origin of virtues

In my ancient Roman history reading, I’ve just begun reading “Dynasty” by Tom Holland. In the beginning of the book — on page 6 of my copy — he defines virtus almost in passing.

Even the humblest peasant, if he were not to see himself reflected in the miror of his fellows’ scorn, was obliged to shoulder his duties as a citizen, and prove himself a man — a vir.

Virtus, the quality of a vir, was the ultimate Roman ideal, that lustrous fusion of energy and courage which the Romans themselves identified as their chiefest strength.

So, yeah, there’s blatant sexism in that, and I don’t agree with that. But the idea that virtue defines the qualities required of a citizen… that is an idea I can get behind.

The Iliad – Book One

So, this is the beginning of Lessons from the Lore, my attempt to study the lore with the intent to see what I can learn from it.

Really, for lack of a better idea of where to begin, I’ve decided to start this as just me reading through the Iliad, looking the the relationships between mortals and Gods.

The Blood Berry Moon – Identity and Stories

Yesterday marked the start of the Blood Berry Moon in the course of perennial druidry and I felt that it was a good time for me to get back into the course which I find so valuable.

The first thing that struck me reading through the text of the Blood Berry Moon was this bit, listed under the heading of ‘Humanity.’

When we think about relationship, it is often personal connections with individuals that come to mind. However, in this moon look to the flow of history and mythology. Do you have a sense of being a member of a community, a people, a tribe, sharing a history with others, stretching back along that current of history? What are the stories that flow with that current?

At first, I took it as a sign that I should really commit to focusing on my idea of doing a little ‘Lessons from the Lore’ series (see the pilot) as I engage with the mythology that resonates with me.

Also, I like the idea of thinking about whether I belong to a community, a people or a tribe.

Initial thoughts on my belonging in a tribe
I’m an American living in Germany. And, while I speak German, I doubt I’ll ever really be considered ‘integrated’ here. The result is that I often feel ‘unmoored,’ for lack of a better term.

And I’m a white American and sometimes feel that the cultural identies that others revel in are denied to me. I’m German-Irish by descent, and it’s clear that the Germans don’t think that means much, I strongly doubt the Irish would say I belong there, either. So, while others have cultural festivals and traditions that appeal to me, my feeling has been that those who belong by birthright to those cultures would view my participation as “appropriation.” And I don’t want to do that.

Could ADF be my group? I don’t know. Maybe, one day. I’m thankful for what ADF does and for the structure it has given to my own entry into paganism. But, I peruse the group’s members chat, both in emails and on Facebook, and while I’ve greatly benefitted by what is said there, my personal experience is that none of it draws me into a feeling of community. Instead, I view it almost as an accademic organization whose work supports my spiritual growth.

That brings me to the tribe I do belong to. Basically, I view myself as belonging to my family. I have a large, tightly-knit family in the states and a smaller, younger family here and they’re the focus of my identity. And, tragically, they stand in opposition to my spirituality. (My children don’t, but mostly because the oldest is seven.)

It comes back to mythology
If anybody cares to challenge me, I do think I have a ‘birthright’ to the Grecco-Roman tradition. Both sides of my family come from areas demonstrably Romanized at one time. However, I think that’s irrelevant. In Grecco-Roman culture, I see a multi-cultural, polytheistic culture that was plagued by the same evils contemporary society has. And, because of that, I feel at home in the mythology.

Consequently, perhaps I should look for a community of people who are inspired by the mythology that inspires me. Who knows.