fools & feathers
When I wake, I realize the last of the nightmares from the old house have worked themselves out of my system. Unfortunately, I also realize, I have a dream eater sitting in front of my face, almost touching my nose.
Dream eaters are a specific type of faery that, obviously, eat dreams. They can eat dreams whole, leaving big swathes of your dream memory empty, or nibble on parts of the dream so it becomes like Swiss cheese. Neutral towards humans, dreams are simply their diet. They can actually be beneficial to humans and worked out deal with us to eat our bad dreams and nightmares so that we aren’t disturbed by them when we wake. If dreaming wasn’t such an important part of my religious practices, I would probably have worked out a deal with the little guy.
As it was, I told the little one to scram. He was brown colored and spiny, with huge eyes. He was actually a wonderful guest and hovered out in the yard until I offered him some milk to leave our home entirely. Seeing as he was polite and not actively dangerous I didn’t bother to chase him out, and he’ll probably hang out in the neighborhood for a while.
The card I drew first today was 0, the Fool. I laughed aloud seeing her present herself so obviously. After yesterday’s inner turmoil and eventual decision-making, it is indeed time for me to step off the edge into the new unknown. The movement painted in this card makes me ready to go running and exploring the world. Not for the first time, she tugged me to let go off expectations and fears and just fall. Whether I find ground to land on or new wings doesn’t matter as much as learning to fall.
She also reminds me of the renewed strength I have concerning my DP work, even though I continue to face problems with it. I find myself now at a point where I am resisting ADF less while still keeping in mind the problems I see. For a while I felt choked in concern to ADF – all I could see was the problems, I didn’t find enjoyment in the practices, it was just frustration after frustration. I still see those problems, but they drown me less now.
Right now, the disparity between what is outlined in the manuals and what is done by actual ADF groves and members is one of the biggest blocks. Not once have I seen the omen used to gauge if the Kindreds are pleased with the offering, not once have I seen the omen be read in a negative light. Reading the Dedicant Manual gave me an interesting idea on why this might be:
In Druidic ritual we also often divine to determine whether the spirits are pleased with our work, whether our offerings have been accepted, whether our work is headed for a good outcome, and what kind of power is being offered by the spirits. …In a public rite of worship the omen-question [is] often: ‘What blessings do the spirits offer us in return for our offerings. …Some Groves use a slightly more complex set of questions, such as: ‘Is the offering accepted?’, ‘What blessing do you offer?’, ‘What advice do you give?’. It is good to begins imply, asking after the blessing offered.
I have only ever seen the omen-taking as a way to gauge what gifts we’re receiving. And that doesn’t sit well with me at all – I care less about the gifts we receive in return and more about pleasing the gods. The simple question isn’t, ‘What do we get in exchange for offering to you?’ (that sits so badly with me) – the simple question is, ‘Do you like this offering?’ If not, then, ‘What can we give you to please you?’
Part of what I liked about ADF on paper was that they seemed god- and community-focused. Boy did that turn out to be wrong in practice! The Core Order of Ritual turned out to be more like a plug-and-play, the community in town is more invested in bitching about past glories, and it is overwhelmingly more human-centric than I had anticipated. I had factored in a human element, obviously, but I still feel a bit – lied to.
In my practice, if a card like the Three of Swords or the Five of Wands were to appear as an omen, I would give more offerings and do more omen-taking to see if the work I was doing was against the gods’ wishes. That’s how the Dedicant Manual presents omen work.
Still, ADF has a lot to offer. Intellectual pursuits and growth, structure in ritual and learning – lots of opportunities that aren’t readily available to me in this community. Locally it provides me with the ability to see how a struggling community can either grow or fail and what role I can (am able) to play in the development of a community. Our local grove isn’t dying for lack of trying or from lack of care – our senior druid obviously cares and wants the grove to thrive again, but there’s a problem with communication between pretty much every member of the grove. It’s incredibly cliquish, and I often feel that my questions aren’t actually heard (I am consistently given answers to a question I didn’t ask and my actual inquiry is not addressed) or my voice is talked over. I’m a huge supporter of clergy and religious leaders and there are times when I desperately need a leader; I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t override whatever I am trying to say/ask by repeating something I’ve heard a thousand times before.
I don’t mind being in a position of student and actually thrive in it. I don’t thrive if I’m hearing the same lesson repeated exactly the same. This is why I have studied on my own with the DP; I don’t want to have to politely nod along while we cover what is basically overview of ADF Druidy 101 for the [x]th time.
So there is a lot to be done still with ADF and the DP, and I’m excited for it at the same time I am ambivalent. Currently, it feels like I am shaking my head at an irritating friend who you care about but who never learns a new joke.
As a part of my deepening work with the Shadowscapes Tarot, I’m working on more elaborate spreads to read with. Today I’ve focused on a four card spread that can be found in the book accompanying the deck.
The cards drawn are: 1) Six of Swords (body), 2) Nine of Swords (heart), 3) Five of Wands (mind), 4) XI, Justice (soul).
(I was worried when first seeing the cards that it would turn out to be entirely swords, which has consistently heralded rough times for me.)
The two sword cards in this spread are both related to a level of despondency and fear. Here, the Six of Swords is telling me about the way I treat and interact with my body, and the message is that I need to start playing an active role. For most of my life, and especially recently, I have let my health be the focus of other people and not cared much for what I do to my body. The problems and issues surrounding body image and my health have been glossed over, but now I have to begin to play a more active role. This means I should begin to head towards the strict diet and medication regimen I was on last year – a diet of mostly vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as meat and cheese, and about 30 different vitamins throughout the day. I can’t drift through life and expect my body to respond perfectly unless I act to keep it in good condition.
The Nine of Swords hints at the trial I put myself through yesterday, in which I was afraid to accept my faith and experiences. The fear and hesitancy I felt have now given away to my ability to carve my own path and throw critical voices away. While the card represents fear to take charge and the reminder of past betrayals and regrets, it reminds me in this position and time that I have overcome those fears to move forward as I wish. This card is connected to the Two of Wands in that it speaks about personal power, but where the Two of Wands tells us that we are able to use our power effectively and wisely this card shows us the fear we have of our own power and urges us to overcome it.
Moving to the relationship with the mind and intellect we find the Five of Wands, a card of conflict and ‘little distractions’. Representing the small trials and tribulations we face in daily life, this card allows me to better understand how I am interacting and understanding my thoughts in relation to the world and community. Right now I feel that I am going against the common flow and established beliefs and carving out my own path, but the truth is much simpler and less glorified: I’m simply fighting with my own engrained patterns of thought. This card also reminds me to be aware of the little joys and distractions in life so as not to find myself suddenly overwhelmed with details I have ignored.
Finally, we come to the soul card: XI, Justice. This card was the lesson card yesterday, and she gave me the question, ‘Have you changed or are you the same wound refashioned?’ This card fills me with a certain sense of foreboding – my heart is about to be weighed by the feather-sword in her hand, and I fear I may be found wanting.
Though this is also a card of evening out different parts of our life and balance, she comes now as a judge to me. Her crossed wings represent that I am grounded, at the moment, and not able to journey to all parts of Faeryland. I have obligations I made and did not keep, and she is preparing to see if I am still fit for the duties I was given. She asks me if I have made any true change, and if I am prepared to go forth on this journey. If my heart hesitates she will bar the way, and any entrance I try to make will be much harder. (She is speaking here specifically about my work in the Faerylands, rather than the other religious work I do.)
Thankfully, I already have a case presented that will be able to sway her judgement in my favor. Still, when we are faced with seeing ourselves truly as we are, everyone becomes nervous. The prevalence of butterflies on the card and the number I have seen the past month lend me hope, though.
[1 - my post on moving into our new home is still yet to come, but expect some interesting dives into dreaming when it comes!]