A Brief Aside
Before I jump into the heart of my homework, I first should bring up a few interesting points: ‘Through The Wheel Of The Year (TTWOTY)’ is a guide through the Dedicant Program offered by Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) as an introductory course to Druidry. The book where all my assignments come from, ‘The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year,’ written by Rev. Michael J. Dangler, is a tool to help Dedicants (such as myself) feel their way through the waters of ADF and all it offers.
So, before I begin, there is one other thing I must add.
TTWOTY has weekly assignments. Each week, for me, runs from Sunday to the Saturday, which means, as I’m sure you all guessed, that yesterday was the end of Week One and Today marked the start of Week Two. However, because this blog is new, I’ll go ahead and jump into the content needed.
So let’s jump to the meat of this post before I have to run away to work.
Week One: Personal Religion and an Introduction
‘The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year’ starts with key information, such as ‘Required Reading’ and ‘Suggested Reading.’ There’s even a list of supplies each Dedicant should have on hand to help them get through their studies. One of the supplies is a priceless one: have a library card. Some of the books can be rather pricey, so being a member of the local library is a good thing. Being able to check out books is helpful.
Or, if you’re like me, you’ll just buy the books.
There’s also the helpful advice of each Dediant being able to have a mentor to help them along their chosen path. I’m working on that one, at the moment. ADF is good at keeping up with its members when we’re communicating with one another. However, after that, it jumps into a series of questions we all should consider.
- Why Have You Chosen To Take The First Step On The Dedicant Path?
- Is This A Step On Your Path Or Will This Become The Path Itself?
- What Do You Expect To Learn?
- What Would You Like To Get Out Of This Journey?
- Do You Know Where This Path Will Take You?
- If You Just Joined ADF, Why Have You Chosen To Work On This Immediately?
- If You joined ADF Some Time Ago, Why Are You Starting Now?
- Does It Look Hard Or Easy?
- Do You Have Doubts, Questions, Or Concerns You Need To Ask About?
After that list of questions, the lesson prompts each Dedicant to stop and consider each question carefully. We have to be honest about this. For those who already have a Mentor, we can talk to them about this. For those who don’t have one, myself included, we are encouraged to take a few days to stop and think about each question.
To let it set in.
I’ve had more than a week for this to bounce around in my head. I’ve had months of time to consider this, given I joined ADF two years ago this upcoming November. I’ve had time to consider all of those questions in one way or another. I’ve had time to ask myself those very questions, so “Week One” for me is more of a reflection of the things I’ve already had to ask myself. Now it’s time I put those answers down.
Why Have You Chosen To Take The First Step On The Dedicant Path?
Frankly, the first question I would have asked is ‘Why did you join ADF?’ Aside from that, I can take a look at this question and pause for a few minutes to turn over the answer in my head. Why the Dedicant Path (DP)? When I first joined ADF, back in 2015, my first thought was ‘Why Not?’ When I started to get to know the organization a bit more, I saw ADF had some other programs that are all very interesting.
After the DP, there is the General Studies Program (GSP), the Initiates Program, and the Clergy Training Program. There are Guilds, too. The DP needs to be completed to go further in any program, be it GSP or Initiates or Clergy. Which is why I wanted to do the Dedicant Path, in the beginning. I’m interested in quite a lot of different things ADF offers, but to get there…I need to get through the DP and submit it.
Guilds offered by ADF:
All the above are subgroups and each is a way to bring our spirituality into our lives. I find several of them to be interesting. I find all of them interesting, though the top five, Naturalists and Seers are the ones I am most curious about. I’m creative, I’m spiritual, and I’m interested in holistic healing and health. Through ADF (and my sister), I am learning how to become the person I have always wanted to be.
However, I have another reason why I wanted to do the Dedicant Program.
I want to learn. There is this path ahead of me, filled with light and wonder and raw magic. This path, however, is one I wary of walking. I see all the light and beauty, I can hear the whispers of the Old Ones, but I am unsure on where I should set my feet. I know little about the world I am tentatively stepping into.
That’s why I decided to the DP.
Through this program, I can learn about the world I am dipping my fingers into. I can learn about what my ancestors did, how they lived. I can learn what it means to be a pagan, to be a Druid. I can learn how to apply this to my life every day of the year, something I had thought impossible until recently. Now I know I can live my days, each and every one of them, as a pagan. I know, now, that it doesn’t have to be reserved for holidays or for the turning of the seasons.
I can learn how to see the world around me, I can learn how to live, as a pagan.
That’s why I chose to step onto this Path. And here I will remain, for as long as I am able.
Is This A Step On Your Path Or Will This Become The Path Itself?
One of the things I’m realizing is that these questions will really make me stop and think. I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words, though speaking them would be far harder for me to do. So the question presented is one I have to ponder (as I have done for the last few years).
Is ADF a step on the Path I’m walking…
…or will ADF become the Path I walk upon with my head held high?
Two years ago, I would have said it was a step on my path. Back then, ADF was simply a way for me to learn more about the world I was a part of. Today, however, things have changed. I can thank two people for that: Mike Kaan, a friend I’ve known for shy of two years who’s blog is much like mine, and Alaric Albertsson (the author of three of my favorite books who is also a Druid within ADF).
One is a Norse Druid and the other is Anglo-Saxon.
Through them both, I’ve come to see ADF as my home. It is where others like me are able to reside and learn, a community spread out around the world yet still connected on a level that was impossible for our ancestors. The love I’ve felt from them towards their Path, towards our home within ADF, has drawn me in deeper than I thought possible.
So ADF will become the Path itself, a road I’ll walk happily.
What Do You Expect To Learn?
As far as learning goes, I expect to learn everything I possibly can. I expect to get my hands on books and stories, to meet others who are like me (and one day meet them), to live holistically and healthily, and to be a positive influence on others around me. ADF has given me hope. ADF has given me the means to see the world ahead of me that isn’t controlled by the black-and-white film I was taught was ‘The Natural Order’ from my childhood. I know, now, that nothing is strictly good and nothing is strictly evil. All I know, now, is that there is a fire burning in my heart and hope for the things to come.
I hope to dance under Mona’s light (the God of the Moon), celebrating the influence He has over the natural order of life. I hope to rune beneath Sunne’s sunny rays, to kayak down the rivers as Her heat washes over my skin. I hope to hear the whisper of the Shining Folk, the Elves, and the Dwarves. I hope to hear the laughter of the fairies and see spirit animals race across a realm of spirit and magic.
I expect to learn all I can so I can embrace the Path ahead of me. I expect to be able to hold this world in my hands, in awe of its wonders and beauty, as I had when I was a child. These are the things I expect to learn, the things I know I’ll be able to do once I open myself up existence in all its wondrous, thriving layers.
What Would You Like To Get Out Of This Journey?
Every journey we take has a reward. Some of us know what we want when we embark on a new journey, we know where we want to go and where the overgrown paths will lead us (that’s the next question). Some of us don’t. Either way, it’s alright.
Do I know what I want out of this Path? I believe I answered that in the last question. I know what I want. I know what I want to experience, I know the joy I’m seeking (and getting, slowly but surely). One thing I do know I want to get out of this is a sense of community, a feeling of being part of a group.
This is something I haven’t had, really. I’ve always been the odd one, the black sheep in a family of white lambs. I’m looking for a connection, a sense of family in a path I have never truly had. I’ve found people like me, who believe and think as I do. Now I only have to get out there a bit more, to reach further than I ever have.
Do You Know Where This Path Will Take You?
Do I know where I’ll go? No, I don’t. I have ideas. I’m only twenty-four (almost twenty-five, by this point) and I have my entire life ahead of me. All I can do is take this one step at a time. And that’s what I’ll do. Take it one step at a time.
If You joined ADF Some Time Ago, Why Are You Starting Now?
To be honest, I started it two other times. Got side-tracked during both of them. So I’m on round three. And everyone knows that ‘Three Times, Charmed’ is a saying that’s been around for a long time. I’m hoping this time will be the final time. I’m starting again because I want to go further than I have before, I want to make my way up the pole and be a part a Guild. So here I am, doing the DP once again.
Does It Look Hard Or Easy?
It’s a mixture, really. Some of it is easy enough. Others are going to be more difficult. I’m already in college, working towards getting a degree as a Medical Biller & Coder Specialist. So doing the DP on top of this (and working on this blog and Wandering Worlds) will be a chore. I’m ready to jump on it, though. Doing the work every week will be difficult. The rituals for the High Days will also be a bit difficult, as I’m not one to keep an eye on the passing days. So I need to get a calendar just for that.
The essays, the reading, the studying…that’ll be easy enough for me. It’s something I enjoy, the theories behind what we do. The practicals, however, are going to be the real work I’ll be tackling. And I’m looking forward to it.
Do You Have Doubts, Questions, Or Concerns You Need To Ask About?
Do I have doubts? No, not really. Questions? Plenty. Concerns? Always. I’ll get through it, though. I always manage to find a way forward, a way to push on even when it feels like the world is trying to force me to the ground. I’ll be asking ADF about getting a mentor, I have other members I can talk to (and others I can help encourage) and I have a whole world that is wide open. So am I scared or unsure? Not anymore, I’m not.
I’m ready to run forward, eager to embrace the Path I’ve been called to walk upon.