Monday, September 5, 2011

Why the Dedicant's Path?

We're using Rev. Michael Dangler's study guide to help put some structure around the ADF Dedicant manual. For the first week, after some introductory reading, he wants us to ponder some questions.   Sunday night, we sat in the backyard grilling some corn and chicken for dinner and had a conversation about these.

1. Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant path?

M. I've been interested in Druidry for a while now, and even had joined ADF once before, in 2008, though I didn't get very far with it at the time. The reason I want to begin again is that I want a systematic approach to delving into a religious practice. As a UU, I get a good religious community and exposure to a breadth of theological opinions. From ADF, I hope for less breadth and more depth. I think the two together may be a good fit.

L.  Honestly, I've always been a bit leery about joining anything - so something is definitely altering for me this year when I've joined (happily) both our local UU congregation and ADF as a year long commitment to the Dedicant's path.  I can't deny that having someone on the path with me helps me make that choice, but I also am feeling an increased desire to develop an actual religious practice.  Oddly, the Adult Religious Education ("Sunday School") class we've been taking this summer really motivated me to look for some sort of concrete religious practice, so UU and ADF are playing nicely together so far.

2. Is this a step on your path or will it become the path itself?

M. Hard to say. I'm not sure I fully understand the question. But tentatively I will say it is a step.

L.  I am deliberately saying "I don't know yet."  I see one of the goals of this path being to answer this question.  But I also don't think it's a step OR the path but more the terrain and scenery that surrounds the path we're already on, if that makes any sense.

3. What do you expect to learn?

M. On the surface, the answer is obvious: I expect to learn the theory and practice of ADF Druidry. But in addition to that, I expect to learn how it feels to walk a pagan path for a long period, something I've not done before.

L. I've regarded myself as pagan for several years now, but without ever solidly trying to define what that means to me.  I expect to have some committed time to read mindfully a few books I might otherwise have not chosen at a purely recreational level, and to learn better discipline about actually carrying out acts of piety, and also more about the Druid variety of neo-pagan thinking, which I think will provide some good balance with the more Wiccan-style paganism that is most commonly available.

4. What would you like to get out of this journey?

M. A sense of whether or not this is a path I want to continue growing within.

L.  I agree - you'd mentioned regarding it as an exploratory study, and I think that's the way I see it too.  I expect to gain  some solid grounding in understanding and practice, and again, discipline in a religious practice - even if at the end of this I decide Druidry is not for me, I want to take that much away with me, and that makes it entirely worth the time spent!

5. Do you know where this path will take you?
M. Not at all. Which is part of the intrigue.

L. Nope, me neither - and again, deliberately leaving that an open question, but I'm eager to see where it leads!

6. If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?

M. As I said above, this is both new and three years delayed. But as I have just rejoined, I'll say because it's the structured study that most appeals to me. Why would I delay?

L. For me, the ability to enter into this course of study is why I chose to join ADF. 

7. Does it look hard or easy? Which requirements look hard and which look easy?

M. It looks challenging. It is a lot of new ways of thinking to settle into, along with a significant amount of reading. But it doesn't look overwhelming.

L. Challenging, for sure - challenging to my internal procrastinator, and I welcome that challenge.  The material looks like it provides enough 'stretch' to come out at the other end having grown quite a bit, but not so hard it feels like a painful slog.  The harder parts for me are where it gets into actually writing ritual... I never had, and the idea is intimidating, so I look forward to pushing myself there.  There will also be some challenge around holiday times, where we are likely to have a lot of visiting family members that make make it difficult to stick to any path other than keeping the dishes washed.  But we're accounting for that and will just add time as needed to make up for busy periods.

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

M: About the program itself, no. About whether it will ultimately prove to be the path I stay with, sure, but since I'm just on the front doorstep at this point, that's to be expected.

L.  My only real concern was (I am less concerned after looking over the material than I was even a week ago) whether or not this is a separate path than what I've been on, and if I'd be needing to set aside understandings that are important to me for the duration - I tend to be Goddess centered.  But what I'm seeing here is that Druidry offers plenty of room for that, while giving fair time to the Gods as well, and I look forward to acquainting myself to that aspect of deity.

I'm sure we'll have plenty of questions as we go, though.

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