October 5th, 2009


Initial digestation of an Initiation

It took me twenty-four hours for my body to get back to where it was before my initiation: until about 8 PM last night, I was so exhausted, emotionally and physically, that it was hard to smile or converse. The drive back down to Columbus seemed to take all day (though the company of kargach and romandruid was exceedingly welcome and helped immensely), and I found myself stretching my back, wiggling my fingers, and cracking my joints as often as possible just to relieve some of the pressure that seemed to be everywhere on my tired, worn out body. I don't think I have ever been quite so exhausted.

I really feel like I should have taken Monday off of work, giving myself two full days to recover from the experience. I also need to take a good look at my robe, as I fear that this initiation may have been its last ritual: I was not kind to it throughout the rite, and it may be stained and torn beyond simple washing and repair.

I am, of course, still processing everything. As a result, expect to see three journal entries shortly as I describe what three particular lessons I've learned, and the work that will go along with them. I've already mentioned them before, but feel a need to go more in depth on what they (broadly) mean to me: focus, center, and joy.

I'm not sure what else I'll post publicly about. It is not up to me to reveal the three tests I underwent, though the Clergy Council witnessed two of them and I suspect that word will get around as we initiate others when uninitiated witnesses speak of the tests they've seen (the third was witnessed only by my initiators and, partially, by my fellow initiate): in hindsight it was pleasant to be surprised by the form these tests took, and what they were in particular (I had been ignoring all posts related to the Initiation purposely). I wouldn't want to "spoil" it for anyone, but suffice to say that anyone who has done the work and been dilligent about completeness and depth will pass the first two. The third is harder to prepare for, though Trance 1 and 2 will likely bring the candidate the required skills.

I do suspect that I will post about the omens I received. I am still digesting them, and taking them to heart: two were generally positive, two were generally worrisome, but all were promising to an optimistic reader. . . and those who took the omens were optomistic, so I don't have to read that optimism into the spreads on my own.

I'm looking forward to hearing my oath (it was mostly extemporaneous, but recorded) so that I can go back and write it down and keep the wording with me. Fortunately, the journey upon which it was based leaves a solid impression, and I need not worry about the general notions behind it being forgotten any time soon.

Two things were taken with me into the initiation that I wish to mention, though. First, when I was consecrated as a Dedicant Priest within ADF, I was given a bottle of mead by tlachtga. I did not drink it then, but held onto it, with an intent to break it open to celebrate my ordination as an ADF Priest in a few years, when I took that next step. As I thought of the sacrifices I must make, though, I knew that this bottle was not for me to keep, but for me to offer: something that I had attached such a special significance to, something that I had held onto for so long, and it became the ideal sacrifice to the Ancient Wise. . . for I offered to them a gift I meant to share with my closest friends, from one of the most special occasions, from someone I respected deeply. This drew them nearer to me, and brought them into that *ghos-ti relationship in a way I have always wanted to do. It was a matter of breaking out the best of the best, the "special" drink you have been saving for just the right moment. . . and that moment was perfectly right.

Second: About a year ago, sleepingwolf sent me a bull pin. I had never worn it before Saturday, but something told me to grab it before I left. As I underwent the most frightening portion of my Ordeal, I felt weight of this pin, and the pin of three silver cranes my Grove presented to me at my consecration, upon my breast. That weight reminded me that no matter how scared I was, no matter how much I wanted to call out, I was supported by friends, family, and the Kindreds in ways I had never known before. These two pins were the only ritual items I took with me, and their presence was a deep assurance as I faced that fear.

To all those who were with me at this rite, in prayer, in silence, or in spirit, thank you. Without my community, I know that I would not have passed even the first test this past weekend.

The first of three lessons: Focus

I learned three lessons during my journey as my mettle was tested as an ADF Initiate. These lessons were not the lessons I expected, nor are they specifically private to me alone: these are guiding lessons that I must take forward, that must draw me along as I go forth as an ADF Initiate, and by my oath I will use them in service to others. The lessons offered to each Initiate will be different for each individual Initiate, based on that individual's needs and the work they must do.

The first lesson of my initiation is Focus.

As I my journey began, I was instructed very carefully to learn focus. There were specific things I learned I must focus on from the Kindreds, but those things were spoken to me alone, and won't be passed along except to those who are directly affected by things I was explicitly told to fix. I was told, though, that I am not a focused person: I am both poorly organized and highly unreliable. I have difficulty staying on task and greater difficulty in concentration.

I have great trouble focusing on individuals (including myself): often, e-mail conversations will simply dissipate over time; I fail to make phone calls to friends and family "just to say hi;" the membership of ADF has expressed a feeling that I've ignored them; I spent a great deal of the year not doing my sunrise/sunset devotionals; I cannot even keep myself to a set of specified goals for CTP course completion; and my work has suffered from a lack of detail-focus. Yes, the last few months (since about February, when I officially took this job) have been hell, but that is no excuse. I need to learn to focus, compartmentalize, and move forward on projects that need to be completed and be more open to people I need to be available to. . . in my personal life, my spiritual life, and my work life.

Of particular note is that my trancework is not done: there is more to do. Completion of the trancework practicums, Trance 1 and Trance 2, does not entitle me to say I'm done with it. Indeed, it is clear that more work needs to be done, and it must be done in a focused way. I must work the Trance journal I have started and supplement it with additional regular practice, and bring that practice to others.

Another place that I have noticed focus must be brought is in my religious speech, particularly in ritual. I've been strongly bitten by the elusive AwenBug recently, and as a result have been waxing on with a lack of focus, trusting my gut to understand the way an invitation to the Kindreds or a purpose must go. This has become an issue, actually, where even though everything I say in ritual is related, it is not focused. I've been given a charge to start speaking in a more specific manner in ritual.

Some improvements occurred prior to this rite (as the work was completed), but this rite is likely to have induced lasting change in my behavior on this front.

So these are the ways, visible to the community, that I will work to fulfill the first charge the Kindreds placed upon me during my initiation.