Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ADF Dedicant Pathy Questions Stuff

*Dusts off Journal*

I haven't used this thing in a while and I need a place to do an ADF Dedicant Path Journal so this blog is reactivated and rededicated to that purpose. Perhaps I might even turn this into a decent blog when this stuff is all said and done. Anyways, I've grabbed Rev. Michael J. Dangler's The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year and one of the first exercises is a set of questions so might as well as get crackin'.

Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?

Because it's something I want to accomplish so I can look into getting more involved with the ADF and perhaps join a guild and take their training courses. Also doing this is an attempt to get my spiritual life back in order after falling off the wagon and getting lax during a period where I had some dark times.

Is this a step on your path, or will this become the Path itself?

Oh definitely a step on the path, as I stated before I'm mostly doing this so I can move on to better things after rebuilding my basics of practice.

What do you expect to learn?

From the study material I'm not expecting to learn much more than I've already learned and studied. I've already read a lot including checking out more than a few of the books on the DP Reading List for my own personal edification. Instead what I hope to learn is how to re-balance my life. Part of the reason I came to fall off the wagon was trying to focus too much energy into side events and having a kind of chaotic schedule which tossed me to the proverbial waves. I'm hoping getting back to basics will help me right my spiritual ship and help with getting a lot of other things back on track.

What would you like to get out of this journey?

As I said above getting my spiritual ship righted and rebuilding my currently messy foundation.  From there I'd like to get more involved in the ADF and the general neo-pagan community again.

Do you know where this path will take you?

Nope. But I believe that's where the fun lies. :p

If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?
If you have been in ADF for a long time, why are you starting only now? 

I've been in the ADF for quite a while and I've attempted to do the DP several times. My biggest stumbling block is really finding a good connection with an IE Hearth Culture. My worship has been across the map and I tend to take interest in what I call bridge deities such as Epona, Saravati, or Mithra(s) who manage to jump cultures. Not only that I find myself often looking towards rather 'mixed' cultures such as the Indo-Greek Kingdom in Gandhara, Roman Britain, or Hellenistic Egypt.
No one particular IE culture has really felt as a solid home to me.

The culture question has always been a big stumbling block with me and the ADF since at least to me it feels like hearth cultures are almost treated as if they're solid things that do not mix and don't really change over time when in reality cultures show a good bit of variation in both time and place. Each Greek polis had varying myths and a few disagreement on who was one of the 12 Olympians, not to mention the fact that the Greek religion of Bronze Age looked rather different from the practices in the Hellenistic period. Not to mention the fact that telling the difference between a Celt and German in the border areas was a very fuzzy thing. Boiling everything down to ideal version of these cultures is a useful tool but it also feels kind of modern. I also suspect that Ronald Hutton's suspicions are correct when he speculates that the whole concept of a Irish-Celtic in the Tuatha de Danaan was possibly invented by storytellers in the early Christian era who brought various intenational and local deities together in a systemic pantheon influnced by the Greco-Roman myths.* Again, it's useful but it tends to paint a more homogeneous picture of the Irish Celts then probably ever existed in practice.

I also have issues with the the stance that I see popping up in the ADF calling Hinduism not IE when it's very much a living and evolving set of religions which spawned from an IE base. To me declaring that it's not IE because it has a lot of non-IE elements seems to be a very reaching argument. If we applied this standard to other IE religions would we not have to toss out say a good chunk of Greek myths and practices since they were influenced by both non-IE local peoples of what became Greece and other nearby non-IE peoples such as the Phonecians and others from the Ancient Near East? That is not to say that modern Hinduisms should be accorded a place in the ADF the Vedic period is a good stopping point to avoid stepping on the toes of modern ethnic practitioners.

Again it's just that our clear cut views of culture seem to be fairly modern inventions when in practice the reality seems to have been a lot more fuzzy and varied. Yes, they're useful and certainly great for study but I worry that we're projecting our ideal versions of culture back on to an idealized version of the past while we're trying to build a religion in a modern era.

A neat answer to culture is a can of worms to me maybe it's because identify a lot with the fox - a very liminal animal - that leads me to focus on messy 'liminal cultures' of boarder areas/periods and shines a questionable light on a lot of the neat cherished cultural ideals by noticing the fuzzy. I don't have any problems with these modern homogenized reconstructions as modern practices but I find myself highly acutely aware of the more fuzzy nature of culture.

If I were to look at my ancestors for a guide besides a dash of Cherokee, my ancestors were pretty much all from the British Isles. But that's it's own can of worms since there I have Welsh, Scottish (Ulster-Scot), and English ancestors. Not to mention the fact that Roman culture was dominant for a period in the southern part of the isle of Britain. It's a mess but if I have to find a hearth culture to use it's probably going to be from that crazy mixed up island. I could do Vedic since I'm very close to Saravati but I'm close to her more modern forms and a write up would probably turn into a rambling rant like this question that I should just end here.

*Ronald Hutton, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 152.

Does it look hard or easy? 

On bare paper it looks very easy... However keeping it up will probably be hard. As will be the cultural questions I rambled about above.

Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy? 

 The book reviews and knowledge essays look very easy as I've been in the ADF a while and read a few of the books. The difficult one is going to be the essay on developing a spiritual practice as that is something I'm going to have to work at and struggle with finding a "solid" hearth culture.

 Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about? 

Probably the cultural questions which I rambled about earlier.