So I finally got around to thinking about my next steps within ADF. I was waffling between the Initiate Path and the Clergy Path, and many people suggested that I just work on both. However I try to live by the axiom Know Thyself, and I know myself well enough to be slightly skeptical of my ability right now to be clergy. It may very well be something that I can overcome, but I’ve decided to move forward on the Initiate Path for the time being.
So, for those interested, here is my letter of intention.
I have known myself to be a Pagan almost since the first time I understood that it was still a viable option to worship the old Gods. That was getting on some 30 years ago now. I spent a few years attending weekly Wiccan rituals, but while I enjoyed them immensely I never felt that Wicca was the right path for me, and I never actually made any serious effort to practice. I eventually drifted away from that community and spent many, many years as a ‘lay’ Pagan; honouring the Gods and Goddesses in small ways but not really doing anything to deepen my relationship with them.
Then, a few years ago — about the time I turned 40, I started to feel that I really needed to find a path that would allow me to explore my spirituality, and this eventually resulted in my joining ADF. I immediately found in the Dedicant Path a way forward. It wasn’t so structured as to be stifling, but was structured enough that it prodded me and encouraged me and challenged me. Even the aspects of it that I initially felt would be just so much paperwork turned into opportunities to re-think long held opinions or to try new things.
The Dedicant Path quite honestly changed my life, but when I was finished with it, my immediate thought was primarily “is that all?” The Dedicant Path is broad and wide but not particularly deep…. it only barely touches on subjects such as liturgical design, divination, and magic. So, what draws me to the Initiate Path? It is to continue the journey that that the DP started me on.
And what does the idea of being an ‘Initiate’ mean to me? This was is easy; absolutely nothing. It is the journey that is what is important, not a designation obtained along the way — and I do not expect the journey to come to an end upon becoming an Initiate.
Finally, how would I use this training in the service of my community? Taking the Dedicant Path directly led me to help bring together a group of local Pagans to form a Druid group, of which I am now the Grove Organizer and Chief Liturgist. So this question is relatively simple as well; I believe that the training will help me create more effective rituals; rituals that will help my attendees to make the sacred journey that is a Pagan ritual, to connect to the Ancestors, the Spirits, and the Gods. I want to create rituals that people will walk away from with feelings of awe, of peace, of spiritual connection to the land. Too many modern Pagans do not have access to group ritual, and when they do experience group ritual, too often it is a mediocre experience; priests and priestesses emotionlessly reading the liturgical text for the first time from scraps of paper, attempts to get participants to engage in overly complicated chants or dances with comical results, and long energy-draining delays to get props to work properly. So I look to the Initiate Path to help me prepare myself to create excellent rituals.
But ritual is not just about spiritual connection; ritual is also a venue for workings, be it magic or divination, and in this regard too I expect the Initiate Path training to enable me to provide further service to my community.