I am very nearly finished with one of the advanced ADF study programs – Liturgy Practicum 1. I lost track of time, and when I saw that I had journaled for over the required four months, I was surprised to see that it’s time to submit! What once seemed daunting is now nearly over!
Liturgy practicum 1 has been incredibly useful to me in my Druidic studies. It helped me rediscover my spiritual discipline after a long lapse due to grad school stress, pregnancy, and then getting used to being a mother. Tackling the work forced me to evaluate my routines and priorities, and to make changes so that I could be more attentive to my spiritual needs. At first, finding or making time for the work was a challenge, but then it became second nature. Just as combing my hair makes me feel better before I leave my home, saying prayers of gratitude before my altar each morning helped me mentally prepare for the day. It has became such a positive part of my life, and it really helped to strengthen me during some difficult times.
Supportive family helped with my success. My husband understands that I want to do my smooring rite each night, for example, and he never complains when I linger downstairs to tidy the stove and say my prayers to Brighid while he gets our daughter changed and ready for bed. It is the same on weekends. When I tell him that I would like quiet time before my altar or out in the forest, he takes charge of holding or entertaining our tot while I recharge and do my thing. Of course, there were many times when I saved my weekly full ritual for Saturday nights after my daughter fell asleep.
I intend to continue my work, not only because it will help carry me through other practical courses in the ISP, GSP and, eventually, clergy training, but I feel that it’s made me a stronger ritual leader, and it has deepend my connection to the Kindreds. There is definitely room for improvement, though. I’m constantly reflecting on and revising the prayers I write, for example. I would love to continue my studies of Irish folk magic and include more traditional prayers – perhaps even learn them in Gaelic! Speaking of Irish, I’ve at least learned an English translation of a smooring prayer, and I’ve committed a couple short, useful Irish phrases to heart to utilize in my rites. They are small steps but help me feel connected to my hearth culture and Ancestors.
I would also like to strengthen my bonds with specific spirit allies. Although I say prayers of gratitute to all Kindreds in the morning, other prayers and routines throughout the day are focused on my relationship to Brighid specifically, the Earth Mother, or the Nature Spirits. I recently noticed that I wasn’t paying enough attention to the Ancestors. I started to include them in my prayers for safe travels and to protect the home, but I would like to develope a weekly ritual, perhaps, in which I stand before their shrine and make special offerings to them. I have done that during the course of Liturgy Practicum 1, but not with any regularity. That needs to change. Some ADFers have described a daily or weekly ritual in which they drink tea or coffee at or near their ancestral shrine. That really inspires me and appeals to my love of tea!
This course has given me the confidence to know that I still have the capacity to maintain a religious routine as a mother. What’s more – it’s taught me that I can include my daughter in my practices! Some of my favorite prayers or spiritual routines involve my daughter. My child-friendly nighttime prayer was written with her in mind. We say it every night. While she doesn’t know all the words yet, she often initiates it by pointing to my altar or saying “tree.” We always blow a kiss to the Kindreds when we finish, and it really makes me feel all fuzzy inside when she does it with enthusiasm. It’s part of my spiritual routine, but it’s also part of her bedtime ritual. It helps her feel safe and know that it’s time to rest.
If you’re considering the advanced study programs in ADF but aren’t sure if you can tackle this time commitment, I challenge you to try. It may be hard at first, and it may force you to change your routines – maybe even wake up earlier in the morning- but I promise it is worth it. Your connection to your spirituality will be deepened in a profound way, and you’ll truly feel that you are living your Druidism each and every day.