Personal Religion

Mar 13, 2016
I’m coming at this whole training at a different angle from the Dedicant Path guide; I joined ADF because my personal paganism was already Celtic and Irish, and therefore druidry seemed like a logical next step. I’ve always had a broad range of interests, but Irish mythology has been an abiding one since I was a child. I still have some of the books of Irish fairy stories and legends from my childhood, actually - although I’ve been supplementing them with better-researched, more historically accurate versions for a while now. In college, I spent a semester abroad in Ireland, and I took the opportunity to visit all the sacred sites I could find. (I still want to climb Croagh Patrick one day.) It’s always seemed to me the perfect combination of knowable - the archaeological record is rich, and there are a number of written legends - and mysterious - so different from the Classical mythology I learned first, its deities so complex and difficult to pin down! So choosing a hearth culture for my ADF practice is pretty simple - Irish paganism it is.

Of course it’s not that simple. I’ve also been interested, on and off, in Anglo-Saxon and Norse paganism. I admit, sometimes because the Norse religion is just better attested in history than the Irish, and it’s similar enough to get me through. But there’s a lot of cross-pollination between Ireland and northern Europe - Dublin was a Viking city, after all - and between Ireland and Britain. Welsh mythology has never quite done it for me, for some reason, but the Anglo-Saxon stuff I find interesting. Well, all that and a lot more - but those are the pantheons I feel drawn to, the gods and spirits who seem to speak to me.

When I was a teenager I dedicated myself to Macha with a blood sacrifice - just a few drops, but that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re a teenage Pagan. Still, it’s not a relationship I can abandon. I haven’t felt connected to Macha in some time, but in truth I am working on some emotional blocks right now that I feel could use the touch of a war goddess.

My more abiding patron has been Brigid, goddess of the fire and the well. I’ve always been a creative person, and Brigid’s fire has meant much to me. My relationship with her has waxed and waned; it’s feeling a little weak at the moment.

But I think my closest, friendliest relationship with a diety has been with Ogma, an Irish god known as both a warrior and as the inventor of the ogam script. I became intrigued by Ogma when first learning ogam, and quickly found him to be a welcoming, protective, encouraging force. I think of him as akin to, and possibly also a patron of, Bikers Against Child Abuse. He’s also one of the few deities who seem wholly embodied when I interact with them. His strengths are those of the world, and he still lives in it.

I plan to use ADF’s teachings and practices to deepen my knowledge of and connection with these deities and the Irish Pagan culture generally, and to learn more about Norse and Anglo-Saxon traditions so that I can incorporate those into my own practice instead of just thinking about them. Reflecting on the First Oath I took at Samhain, I’m pleased at where I am and the work that I’ve done. I may not be matching the onward march of the guidebook, but far from abandoning the work as I’d feared, I’ve carried my practice forward and I’m excited to see what I can still learn to do. We’re coming up on a year since I’ve joined ADF, it has been a fulfilling, challenging year. I can’t wait to see where the work takes me next.

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