Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Professional Helping Skills 1


  1. Empowerment is defined as the "process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals, families, and communities can take action to improve their situations" (Gutierrez, 202). Compare and contrast the definition of empowerment with the following terms: rescuing, advising, and codependency (minimum 100 words each)

Rescuing

Rescuing is defined as “to free from confinement, danger, or evil” (Merriam-Webster).  Essentially, rescuing is the act of saving someone from a situation in order to try to protect them from hazards.  By rescuing someone from a situation, they often don’t have to take responsibility for their own circumstances, or make any decisions on their own.  By taking the decision away from them, you also remove the opportunity for empowerment.  Rescuing is not always a negative thing and definitely has its place in the world, as seen in the actions of firefighters and paramedics.  However, when it comes to helping people with day-to-day situations, empowering them to make their own decisions and to improve their world on their own gives them the opportunity to succeed on their own instead of relying on someone else to “save” them when things turn out poorly.

Advising
Advising is defined as “to give an opinion or suggestion to someone about what should be done” (Merriam-Webster).  Advising is giving your personal opinion to someone about a specific situation.  I do believe that advising can still allow someone to feel empowered if presented in the correct way. The advisor needs to allow the advisee to have freedom to do whatever they choose with the recommendations given.  Advising should be a collaborative effort between the advisor and advisee in order to empower the advisee to make their own decision with some level of confidence.  However, an advisor also needs to be aware of their role and the effect it is having on the advisee because frequent advising could potentially lead to codependency.  
Codependency
Codependency is defined as “a psychological condition in which someone is in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship that involves living with or providing care for another person” (Merriam-Webster).  In a codependent relationship, the dependent person relies on someone else to make decisions and resolve situations for them.  The dependent person is rarely empowered in this situation. When someone feels empowered, they are more confident in their ability to manage themselves and their situations.  However, when they feel powerless, they may have trouble making decisions and attach themselves to someone who is willing to make the decisions for them (Lancer).  By empowering someone, they may become more willing to make decisions and take responsibility for themselves, which would allow them to reduce their codependency.

  1. Provide a definition for each and compare and contrast the terms sympathy and empathy. Discuss how each of these terms is or is not related to empowerment. (minimum 100 words)

Sympathy
Sympathy is defined as “the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else’s trouble, grief, misfortune, etc.” (Merriam-Webster).  Being sympathetic allows someone feel an emotion with the person (Kennedy and Charles 5).  While sometimes it is nice to feel that someone understands how you feel, it can also distract the person who is trying to help by overwhelming them with their own emotions.  Changing this focus does not empower the person living with the circumstance, and can often make them feel looked down upon instead.
Empathy
Empathy is defined as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions” (Merriam-Webster).  Someone who is empathetic is able to understand the way someone else is feeling, while not necessarily feeling that emotion themselves sympathetically (Kennedy and Charles 5). Empathy gives people the power to feel their own emotions, and empowers them to take charge of their own lives.  Empathy also allows the helper to aid in the situation without allowing it to overwhelm them.
  1. Discuss how empowering individuals, families and communities to take action does or does not resonate with the role of ADF Clergy (minimum 100 words)

Gutierrez defines empowerment as the “process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals, families, and communities can take action to improve their situations” (Gutierrez).   Essentially, empowerment is the process in which people gain confidence in their ability to control more of their life and make decisions.  I think that empowering people definitely aligns with the role of ADF Clergy.  Most ADF Clergy are not licensed therapists, but despite this, as clergy, many people look to us for guidance in their lives.  Naturally, we want to help people but we do not necessarily have the training to give them a lot of guidance in certain situations.  It is important to understand that different people will need different solutions for similar situations (Sadan 117).  Empowerment gives us the opportunity to help people resolve their problems on their own without telling them what to do, because empowerment is cooperation between the helpers and the helped.
  1. Discuss the following empowerment techniques, how they might be helpful in your work as Clergy and provide an illustrative example of each: focusing on strengths, working collaboratively, building personal power and providing options. (minimum 100 words each)

Focusing on Strengths
Empowerment through focusing on strengths can be a helpful tool within Clergy work. Focusing on the strengths allow the helper to emphasize the gifts and abilities of the person they are working with instead of concentrating on the problems or issues that they are currently dealing with.  These strengths may be in many different areas, including “general functioning, coping with challenging situations, cultural identities, and overcoming adversity” (DuBois and Miley).  
Example:  Susie is trying to complete the Dedicant Program, but she feels as if she is not able to do it.  Instead of just reassuring her that she can do it, I would express the strengths she has that could allow her to be successful.  Express that she is well organized or good at writing, which will allow her to write the essays easily.  Perhaps she already has a strong personal practice, or is an excellent researcher.  Point out these things to her and help her see that these tools are things that could be useful for resolving her issue.  She may tell you that she is terrible at meditation, but try to re-direct the focus to her persistence and how sometimes just trying to do it is just as good as succeeding.

Working Collaboratively
Working collaboratively is an empowerment technique that I feel is more involved than strength-based helping.  When you work collaboratively, you create a plan of action in which allows you to work with the person you are helping to resolve a problem or situation. Clerck describes nine aspects of people-centric collaboration: choice, confidence, convenience, consistency, continuity, connection, comprehension, change, and culture (Clerck).  By giving people choices on how to proceed, you help build the confidence they need to be able to succeed.  Collaboration also requires convenience and consistency, as no one is going to want to work with you if you are hard to work with, or if you give him or her a different message every time they contact you.  Additionally, you need to make sure that they comprehend the plan or collaboration cannot be successful.  Finally, the helper and the person receiving help must be willing to make the changes necessary to work together and foster a collaborative culture between them.  I think this type of working relationship is vital both for Clergy working with members of ADF, and within the Clergy Council itself.  I have seen much conflict between people since I joined the council, and the animosity is very apparent and off-putting.  If the entire council was willing to make the changes necessary to work collaboratively, it could help tremendously.
Example:  Using the example above where Susie wants to work through the Dedicant Path but is not confident in her ability to do so could be resolved using a collaborative working relationship, or in this case, a mentorship.  If Susie needs a plan put in place for her,  you could work together to set realistic goals on essay completion, perhaps allowing you to review the essays for her as she goes to prepare them for submission while also allowing her to progress through the process.

Building Personal Power
Building personal power can be a challenge for someone who lacks self-esteem or faith in their own abilities to be successful.  Cattaneo and Chapman describe empowerment as a process where someone who lacks personal power sets a goal, takes action toward that goal, and reflects on the impact of that action (Cattaneo and Chapman).   This definition shows that in order to feel personal empowerment, you have to not only feel empowered, but also taking action and seeing success from those actions.  To attain personal empowerment, they also describe six separate steps.  You begin by identifying a goal in which to work toward.  You then build the knowledge you need to be successful.  The next step described is “self-efficacy” which is someone’s belief in their ability to succeed.  If the person you are working with truly does not believe the process will work, they are setting themselves up for failure.  Building competency is the next step, and may help with self-efficacy.  If you know you have the skills to do something, it can definitely improve your faith in your own abilities.  The final two steps are to take action, and review the impact that action has.  
Example:  Back to Susie, she has decided she would like to work through the Dedicant Path on her own.  Using the steps listed above, a plan of action could be utilized to give her the tools to complete the program by setting her goal, gaining the necessary knowledge, and putting the plan into action. Personally, I feel that this model of empowerment could be combined with collaboration to create a plan of action and work through it together.

Providing Options
The final empowerment technique that we will review is providing options.  Sometimes people get incredibly overwhelmed by the multitude of paths that are available to them, which causes them to take no action at all. Providing them a clear set of options to choose from still empowers them to make their own decision in how to proceed while also narrowing the focus and reduces how overwhelming the options may be.  I think this method of empowerment could be very useful as Clergy as it gives us the chance to give our advice on which paths we think someone could be successful in while still allowing the person to feel empowered in their own actions.
Example:  Once more, we return to Susie. She has completed her Dedicant Path, but is now completely overwhelmed by what study program she wants to undertake next.  Knowing her strengths, weaknesses, and interests, I could recommend a few of the ADF Study Programs that I think not only would interest her but that I think she could be successful in.  Ultimately she gets to choose which path to take and can easily take any, all, or none of my suggestions, but it narrows the focus some and may help her make a decision to move forward.

  1. Contact the Department of Human Resources or Other Human Service organization closest to the community you serve and inquire about the existence of a human service resource guide and crisis hotline, which individuals in need of help might contact for assistance in locating resources.  (no minimum word count)

Contact person:  Val
Phone Number: (402) 471-3121
Agency:  Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
Does a resource guide exist for your area?:  Yes!

Name of resource guide:  Omaha Area Resources
Who compiled it?:  Bridge to Independence – Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services


Does a hotline number exist for your area?:  Yes!  
Hotline number: (800) 254-4202
3 Internet resources available in your community:  

  • Douglas County General Assistance Programs:
    • Resource to provide for the poor of the county who are not eligible for any other governmental assistance and do not have a parent or spouse responsible for their support.  They provide assistance for housing, job training, cremation assistance, and other services.

  • Boys Town:
    • Resources for children, parents and families in difficult situations.  They provide in-home family services, national crisis hotlines, parenting assistance, foster family services, and so many other programs.

  1. Identify and discuss at least three contemporary social issues that impact the role of an ADF Clergy. Summarize each issue, explain its significance to your role as an ADF Clergy and discuss how you plan to address the needs of individuals and families within your local Neopagan community affected by these issues. Examples of contemporary social issues include, but are not limited too: homelessness, violence, teen pregnancy, poverty etc. (minimum 300 words)

Doing research, I found an entire list of contemporary social problems, which gave me a lot to consider.  Ultimately, I decided to focus on three social issues that I think impact not just the role of ADF Clergy, but the Neopagan community in general: Poverty, Same-sex marriage, and drinking and driving (University of Maryland Libraries Guides).
Poverty
Poverty is defined as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions” (Merriam-Webster).   I think this is a problem that we find, not only within our organization, but within the greater Neopagan population in general.  From my experience, there is a large population of the Neopagan community that faces poverty regularly.  My local community has many members who are unemployed or work in lower paying positions, making financial problems quite prevalent.  Knowing that poverty is such a problem, I work very hard to not make it so people cannot participate because of money issues.  Our grove provides all of our public events and classes free of charge to the community.  We will occasionally hold a raffle to make money for our group, but do not require anyone to purchase these tickets.  Additionally, when I provide services such as weddings or baby blessings I do not have a set price, but instead tell people that I know it’s expensive and stressful so they can pay me what they can afford, and if that answer is nothing, I’m ok with that.  I did not become clergy to make money, and I do not need the extra money, so I do what I can to make it less stressful on our low-income community.
Same Sex Marriage
Same sex marriage is a social issue that I feel effects not just the Neopagan community, but the general community in the United States.  At this point, same-sex marriages are legalized nationally, but that definitely does not mean that they are accepted on the same scale. Living in Nebraska, many people that I meet on a day-to-day basis thinks homosexuality is a sin and they are avidly against the legalization of same-sex marriages.  Many churches and pastors will not provide these services to anyone.  I feel passionately that any couple that wishes to be married should be allowed to, despite their gender identity.  This is one of the reasons that I was so strongly drawn to become a member of clergy when I did, I want to be able to provide marriage services to people who may otherwise have a difficult time finding a celebrant.  Within ADF, I think we have a positive and open community when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, but I know this is not the case locally so I do my best to try to be available to the community.
Drunk Driving
While drunk driving may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about social issues, it is something that I feel truly does have an impact in the Neopagan community.  In 2014, 9967 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the United States, including 1070 children age 0 to 14 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  So how does this affect the Neopagan community and my work as ADF Clergy?  ADF festival, rituals, and general functions are known to regularly include alcohol in some form or another.  Many people use alcohol as their waters of life, and may also offer alcoholic beverages in the pre or post ritual socialization.  Regularly, most of those people imbibing then have to drive home.   While I see no problem with having a drink with supper before driving yourself home, not everyone is willing or able to recognize their own limits with alcohol, which is hazardous not only to them, but to the other people on the road.  As a member of ADF Clergy, I work hard to set a good example for others.  I refuse to drink if I know that I have to drive anywhere.  I always provide alcohol-free options for those who have to do the same.  Additionally, I have learned to be ok telling someone that I do not feel they are safe to drive and have offered to drive them home myself.  Other times, I have stopped their consumption before they hit that point.  It does not always make me the most popular person at a party, but I would rather know everyone made it home safe.   While I do not think everyone that drinks in excess has a drinking problem, I have also gathered resources for alcoholism in my community just in case.

  1. For each of the contemporary social issues above explain where you would refer individuals or families affected by these issues for help in your local community. Discuss why you feel the resources you have chosen would be appropriate and how someone would access each resource provided. (minimum 200 words)
Poverty
Poverty can be a touchy subject with many people.  If they were interested in resources though, I would point them toward the Omaha Housing Authority, which can help them gain housing assistance and may even help them find a job.  The Omaha Housing Authority does require an application to be filled out to see if you qualify.  Another source is the Siena/Francis House, which has shelters, food and clothing banks, a healthcare clinic, and employment training which may aid their struggles.  This resource allows walk-ins to stop by and start the process to get them the help they need. The third resource I would give them would be the Food Bank for the Heartland.  This food bank has mobile pantry hours and a backpack program for children.  You can contact the local United Way for location and time information for this service.  

Same-Sex Marriage
Nebraska now recognizes all same-sex marriages, so the initial resource for couples would be the Douglas County Courthouse where they could get their marriage license.  Additionally, Heartland Pride puts out a guide each year, including advertisements to vendors who are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.  These resources may be helpful in wedding planning in the city.
Drunk Driving
I am not entirely sure that I would make a referral to someone who I have asked not to drink and drive.  As I mentioned before, not all people who get drunk have a drinking problem.  However, after growing up with an alcoholic I do not take the situation lightly.  There are a large number of resources that I could provide to someone if I felt that they did have a drinking problem and needed assistance.  There are addiction and recovery services here in town to treat both adults and adolescents, so giving them the phone number would be all that is necessary to schedule an appointment.  There are also al-anon/alateen and other family groups that meet across the city and allow people to simply walk in and join.   These resources may be helpful, but again may not be necessary.  I may instead show them statistics to explain the effect that their poor choices may have on them and others.

Works Cited

Cattaneo, L.B. and A.R. Chapman. "The Process of Empowerment: A Model for Use in Research and Practice." American Psychologist (2010): 646-659.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Impaired Driving: Get the Facts. 26 January 2017. March 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html>.

Clerck, J-P De. Worker empowerment: 9 Cs of people-centric collaboration. 2016. March 2017. <https://www.i-scoop.eu/worker-empowerment-8-cs-people-centric-collaboration/>.

DuBois, Brenda L. and Karla Krogsrud Miley. Social Work: An Empowering Profession. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005.

Gutierrez, Lorraine M. "Understanding the Empowerment Process: Does Consciousness make a difference?" Social Work Research 19.4 (1995): 229-237.

Kennedy, Eugene and Sara C. Charles. On Becoming a Counselor. Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001.

Lancer, Darlene. Power, Control & Codeppendency. October 2015. March 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/power-control-codependency/>.

Merriam-Webster. Dictionary. n.d. March 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary>.

Sadan, Elisheva. Empowerment and Community Planning. 2004.

University of Maryland Libraries Guides. SOCY 105: Introduction to Contemporary Social Problems. 16 December 2016. March 2017. <http://lib.guides.umd.edu/c.php?g=326995&p=2194601>.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Second Circle Portfolio

Portfolio for the Second Circle Clergy Training Program
Rev. Amber Doty

The application again consists of a portfolio of work done, including:

1. A personal statement of Vocation as a Consecrated Priest, answering the following questions:

  •  What calls you to become an ADF Consecrated Priest? 
  • How does this step fit with your calling as an ADF Priest? 
  • How have the specializations you chose within the CTP prepared you for the deeper work of an ADF Consecrated Priest? 
  • What does your inner work look like? 
  • How has your inner work prepared you for greater outer work with the community of ADF? 
  • What further skills would you like to develop as an ADF Consecrated Priest, and how will these skills help grow Our Druidry?
2. Your answer to the exit standard for Discipline 2

3. Your answer to Ethics 2, exit standard 3, situation 4

4. One entry from your Divination 2, Magic 2, or Trance 2 journal that you feel represents your personal work best.

5. The prayers written for Liturgical Writing 2, exit standards 2 and 3.

6. The performance reviews (with contact information) from Liturgical Practicum 2, exit standard 7.

7. Your answer to Magic 2, exit standard 5.

8. A link to the videos requested in Theatre for Ritual, exit standard 7.

My Vocational Statement

What calls you to become an ADF Consecrated Priest? How does this step fit with your calling as an ADF Priest?

When I made the decision to begin working through the Clergy Training Program, I said that it felt like a natural progression of my path within ADF, and I truly feel like becoming an ADF Consecrated Priest is the next step in that journey.  I live in a place where Pagans are few and far between, as do most of the people in my region.  Acting as a priest in general has allowed me to serve a need in my community that is greatly unfulfilled in general.  Becoming an ADF Priest has given me a new set of tools and abilities that improve my ability to serve the community.  Becoming a Consecrated Priest will allow me to deepen my personal practice and my knowledge base even further, which will allow me to become a more effective clergy person in general. The title itself honestly isn’t as important to me as the continued work and development that come with this next step. I think this continued work is vitally important to my practice.

From a more personal perspective, in my ordination portfolio I had also said that becoming a member of clergy is not the end of the journey for me, but is instead a very important crossroad along the very long path.  Over the past few years I have continued to develop and evolve my spirituality through this work, and I wish to continue maintaining this practice while continuing to study to further develop and grow along my spiritual journey.  While I know this is possible without becoming a Consecrated Priest, I seek the deeper level of information that comes with the advanced work in the future.

How have the specializations you chose within the CTP prepared you for the deeper work of an ADF Consecrated Priest?

When I applied for ordination, I stated that my vocation as Clergy would be that of a community builder.   Following that expectation, I chose to begin my specializations with Leadership Development.  This course allowed me to dig into the different leadership styles and become more aware of my own personal leadership traits, strengths, and weaknesses. Working through this course allowed me to become more effective in my community, further giving me the opportunity to be better leader, which allows me to more easily help with community building and creating connections with other people.  I’ve continued


my work as Senior Druid for my local grove, while also acting as an officer for several of the ADF Subgroups.  This course has allowed me to be more effective and successful in those roles.  All these opportunities give me the chance to get to know people and build relationships with them, both locally and internationally.  It is these types of relationships that allow a community to form and grow.

I also chose to complete the Scholar course History of NeoPaganism and Druidry.  I believe this course allowed me to deepen my understanding of the Pagan community and the history that brought us to where we are today.  As someone who is younger than many of my peers, gaining this insight has expanded my ability to understand the perspective of others, and appreciate the struggles and triumphs that previous generations went through so that I can have the practice that I have today. I think having this base knowledge will also allow me to better understand how to continue to move our community into the future, while respecting our past.

What does your inner work look like? How has your inner work prepared you for greater outer work with the community of ADF?

My inner work is quite personal and often very challenging.  As I mention briefly in the Discipline essay below, I wrote a series of trance and magical workings based on The Odyssey.  Each chapter has its own exercise to fit the theme of that chapter, ranging from the building a raft to represent all of those things that help keep me afloat when life is rough, to visiting the ancestors at the gateway to Hades to hear their wisdom and see where I should travel next.  I’ve battled personal monsters, confronted my past, and am still working to reach the shores of “home” or a happy inner world.  By working through these rites, I have learned a lot about myself, my struggles, and my abilities.  I have also worked through some personal issues that I had suppressed for many years.  By doing this inner work, I feel like I have become not only a better priest, but a better person.  Dealing with these struggles and facing the internal issues head on in such a vivid way has made me stronger and helped me get past problems that I thought would be there forever. All these things will allow me to be a more focused, positive, and professional priest for those people in the ADF community. Additionally, on a more practical level, this continued work has improved my trance and magical skills as well, which will make me a more effective priest and ritualist in general.  

What further skills would you like to develop as an ADF Consecrated Priest, and how will these skills help grow Our Druidry?

There are many skills that I know I would like to continue to build as I work through as an ADF Consecrated Priest.  The first is the completion of Professional Helping Skills.  I believe that this course will give me the tools to be better able to help those in need on a spiritual level, while also maintaining the appropriate boundaries required of clergy who are not counsellors.  This course holds a lot of valuable information that I believe would allow me to be a better resource for our community, which will help Our Druidry both to grow and to be stronger.  
Additionally, I would like to complete Magicians Guild Study Program.  I believe that this program has very interesting tools that can be taught through its completion.  By working through the courses here, I believe I will improve my magical skills and knowledge, which will again allow me to be a better, more helpful resource for our community.  
Finally, as someone who lives far away from the “center” of activity in ADF, I often find myself practicing with a much smaller group than those who have access to large groves or festivals.  Because of that, while I’m comfortable with small group practice I know that I have some skills that I would like to develop to be more proficient and comfortable in a large group setting.  We have amazing ritualists in our organization, and my hope is that I can help bring some of that to the smaller region that I live in as well.

The Discipline of an ADF Priest


Describe your discipline practice as an ADF Priest. Explain what you have learned from this practice, describe how your connections with the Court of the Sky has grown and changed over the time you have worked with them, and reflect on your journals and omens over the period.

*Please note: certain portions of this course have been removed as it contains information that is shared only with ADF Clergy.  Sorry!*

            I completed the first circle of the Clergy Training Program in February 2015, nearly two years ago as I write this.  The past two years have been transformational and moving in a way that I never anticipated they could be.  As I have worked through the second circle of the CTP and other study programs, my practice has changed and adapted as I developed a deeper understanding of my own spirituality and how I wanted my path to progress. 
My practice currently involves several small rituals that are practiced at different times of the week or month.  I have continued performing monthly retreat days during the first week of every month, involving both a full COoR rite and prayers throughout the day.  These rituals help me continue my relationship with the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper, while also helping to remind myself of my goals and responsibilities as ADF Clergy.  
In addition to these monthly retreat days, I have continued to do other workings on a weekly basis.  Most recently, I have rituals that I do four days a week, with other days set aside for the monthly practices.  The days may vary depending on schedules and how life works out, but I try to adhere to my schedule so I don’t fall away from the practices.  Each Sunday, I wake in the morning and have tea or coffee with my ancestors.  This gives me the opportunity to further my relationship with them and reconnect with those I have lost.  My grandfather very recently passed away, so this ritual is now quite painful but it has also become even more important to my practice.  On Wednesday evenings, I am currently working with Demeter and the Meeting Demeter meditation for the Demeter and Eleusinian Order to work through their study program.  Building a relationship with Demeter and the theoi associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries has been very interesting, and I look forward to continuing that development beyond this submission. 
Thursdays are reserved for magical workings, including trance work, healing, or other magical work that I feel is important at that time. Those rituals are the ones that vary the most depending on where life is at that moment and what work I feel I need to be doing.  My final ritual of the week is on Saturday where I have spent the past couple years working with a trance and magical journey I have written to follow the story of the Odyssey.  It has been transformative and challenging work that has taken much longer than I anticipated, but I am quite proud of this project.  What I do feel necessary to say though is that this is just my current practice and isn’t the same as what I was doing two years ago, and my not be the same as what I am doing in six months.  Essentially, my practice is continually changing and evolving as I learn more about my spirituality and the world around me, but I feel that is important to me, both to have the flexibility to grow, and to continue to keep the practice interesting and involved. 
Continuing to journal through this process has been challenging, but vitally important in order to remember everything.  It allows me to go back to failures to try to figure out where things went wrong, and to reflect on the positive outcomes of other workings.  Looking back at these experiences helps me continue to form my path going forward and helps me to improve my work.  It also helps me to remember small details or moments that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but grew to hold a much more important meaning.  It has become a small glimpse into my spiritual life, showing me both at my best and my worst, pleading for aid and gushing with gratitude.   
During the past two years, I have also taken the opportunity to complete the Seers Guild Study Program 1st Circle, which I feel definitely deepened my divinatory practice and helped me become much more comfortable with my skills.  For my divination practices, I primarily work with the Greek Alphabet Oracle, dabbling in other methods when it seems appropriate.  My omens have definitely varied over the past few years, giving me guidance and encouragement when things are going well, and seeming to reprimand me when I’m not doing what I need to be doing.  Additionally, my Oracle set seems to have developed its own unique sense of humor, telling me to “Flee the storm” when doing ritual in the rain.  It seems to fit my own personality, so I really enjoy it.  I can see through my writings that I have grown more confident in my ability to use the Greek Alphabet Oracle in my personal practice, as well as during my grove’s public rituals.  This development is incredibly useful on a practical level, allowing me to perform better rituals and better serve my community.   It seems strange to say, but I have grown to love these little wooden disks and have developed a very personal relationship with them.  Not only do they fit the hearth that I am most comfortable in, but the disks themselves were made for me by Rev. Jon Drum as a gift at my ordination, so I feel an emotional attachment to them as well. 
Ultimately, when I began on this journey in 2015, two years seemed like a long time, and this journey seemed daunting and nearly impossible.  Today, I stand on the other side of it wondering where the last two years have gone.  Realistically, I know I still have so much to learn, and I hope to continue growing and expanding my knowledge as I move forward.  However, I know that all of my practices, my hard work, and the relationships I have built have helped to reaffirm my path and to establish a stronger sense of my own spirituality.  I also think that they have allowed me to develop into a better person who is now more comfortable and prepared to continue doing the work of ADF Clergy.

Ethical Situation

Please provide your answer to Ethics 2, exit standard 3, situation 4.

A) Problem and Resolution:

  • Problem Definition – A woman in a wheelchair would like to attend an upcoming public ritual.  The ritual is being held somewhere that is not currently wheelchair accessible.  The woman’s attendant also does not wish to be involved with the rite.

  • Problem Analysis – While the grove offers open to the public rituals, this rite has not been set up in a way that is accessible to everyone.  Another Neopagan group has already turned down the woman.  Where I live, there are not many ritual spaces readily available without forethought and planning involved.  

  • Generating Solutions – Try to find a new handicap accessible ritual space, continue with this rite as planned without the woman and try to find a resolution for the future, allow the woman to attend and try to get her to the ritual space, request that she bring someone with her who can care for her during the ritual, make the current location wheelchair friendly, hold a second ritual at a later date in a wheelchair accessible location.

Analyzing Solutions

  • Find a new ritual space:

    • Pros:  The woman would be able to attend the ritual

    • Cons:  Would require last minute changes potentially inconveniencing everyone else planning to attend, additional costs, ritual spaces are limited and difficult to find without planning

  • Continue with the rite as planned:

    • Pros:  None of the regular participants are affected.

    • Cons:  The woman won’t be able to participate, which is poor hospitality, so she may not try to attend in the future

  • Try to get her to the ritual space:

    • Pros:  The woman may get to participate

    • Cons:  It may be hazardous for people who are not familiar with her to try to move her/her wheelchair into a space.  Additionally, there may be issues getting her back out if she has a medical emergency in the ritual space.

  • Request a different caregiver:

    • Pros:  The woman would get to participate and someone would be available to help take care of her.  

    • Cons:  Getting her to the ritual space will still be a challenge if the location isn’t also changed.

  • Make the current location wheelchair friendly.

    • Pros:  The woman could access the ritual space on her own.

    • Cons:  This may be lot of hard work if it is possible, and if using public land, etc. it may not be possible at all.

  • Hold a second ritual in a different location at a future date

    • Pros:  The ritual gets to go on as planned, but another ritual is set up for the woman to participate in.  

    • Cons:  Creating an additional ritual does create extra work; she may not be able to attend on another date.

Selecting Solution

Overall, while it may not be the most gracious solution, I believe the best solution is to hold a second ritual in a different location at a future date to allow her to participate.  Carrying her into the ritual space provides health hazards that I don’t want anyone to feel responsible for.  Moving the ritual last minute is unprofessional and difficult to do.  Creating a new route is impractical.  

Planning the Next Course of Action

I would explain the situation to the woman thoroughly; express my disappointment that I can’t make the existing ritual work for her, while also giving her an opportunity to participate in the near future.

B) Code of Ethics:

My code of ethics addresses this type of situation in the first section.  It states, “I will ensure the equal treatment of all people no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc.  I will avoid actions that could be viewed as discrimination to the best of my abilities.”  This statement makes it quite clear that I need to do everything in my power to make sure that all people are treated equally and given the appropriate aid in order to be able to participate.  I want to be sure that everyone feels comfortable in our rituals, and that I am treating everyone fairly. This is part of why I want to be sure to make accommodations for the woman to participate in the future, without causing problems for those who are already attending.

C) Ethical Dilemma?

I do not personally see this particular situation as an ethical dilemma, so much as another dilemma of hospitality.  As hosts, we want to be able to provide a positive experience to our guests if

possible.  We want to be sure our environment is welcoming and open to all who wish to participate.  However, as a guest it is also important to understand the limitations of the host and to expect only reasonable requests from them.  For me, hospitality dictates that as a host we work to accommodate this woman in the future to ensure her participation.  The most important part of this situation for me is communication.  We want to be clear in explaining what the limitations are for her participation, while also expressing that we want her to be a part of our celebration and giving her opportunities to do so in a way that is safe for her.

Journal Entry

One entry from your Divination 2, Magic 2, or Trance 2 journal that you feel represents your personal work best.

March 1, 2016

Chapter 5, Part 2Working – Calypso talks with Odysseus and Builds a Raft:

Being of Occasion:  Calypso, goddess nymph of the mythical island of Ogygia, a daughter of the Titan Atlas.  Concealer, seductress, and rescuer combined, I ask you to join me for this rite.  As you invited men and gods alike to join you at your hearth, I ask that you join me at mine.

Working:  After meeting with Hermes, Calypso knew she had to talk with Odysseus.  She goes to him and finds him sitting upon the shore, crying.  She calls to him, “Odysseus, man of my heart whom I love so, while I long to keep you here, I will set you free.  Together we will build a raft.  I will give you food and drink and you can venture home.”  Odysseus tells her he won’t embark without an oath that she won’t work mischief against him.  Calypso swears on the river Styx that she will care for Odysseus and not challenge him through further mischief.  However, she also asks him why he wants to leave.  Odysseus responds “I long for the day of my homecoming, and if some gods wreck me again I will endure it for I have a patient mind.  I have suffered many troubles and hardships.”  With that, Odysseus begins the work of building a raft.  

As Odysseus did, we will now build a raft.  Enter a light trance state and focus your attention on those things that help keep you afloat when life gives you trouble.  Think of those positive aspects of your life that help you to endure, even when it seems impossible.  Take the time to carve the name or symbol of each of those things into the clay logs that we have here.  After you’ve inscribed each of the logs, use the twine to tie them all together to create your raft. Keep this raft in a safe place to remember the positive things that exist when life is hard, and to bring happiness to your life when things are sad.  

Journal:

I completed a Core Order ritual using Calypso as the being of occasion (invocation above).  When I got to the workings, I took three deep breaths and allowed myself to fade into a trance state.  I had previously rolled some clay into log shapes, so I took them in my hands, one at a time and carved the names of those I loved and the things that bring joy to my life into the different logs.  I wrote about my family and friends, my spirituality…I even included those things that I like about myself.  All throughout this, Calypso stood by my side, speaking words of encouragement to me.  I tried to focus my energy on the joy and hope that each thing brings to my world and imbue each log with the love in my heart.  Once I had written on all of the logs, I picked up the twine and began to wrap the logs, tying them together.  This was

much harder than I anticipated.  Sometimes, the logs wouldn’t line up correctly, or just didn’t want to stay together, but after trial and error I finally found a way to make them stay in place.  I saw just how much this is like life…that sometimes things doing go as we anticipated, but if we continue working we can find the joy and hope in life and tie it to us.  I saw myself in that thread and realized that it represented my tie to each of these things.  There was no intent to keep those things bound to me, but just an observation that they already felt tied so closely to my heart at this time in my life.  By the time everything was bound together, I found myself crying happy tears, overwhelmed with the love and joy in my heart.  This was such a positive working, so different than the darker images that I’ve faced and know I have to face next.  

This small, hand sized raft now sits upon my altar. It’s ugly and impractical, but it’s mine and makes me happy and that is what matters right now.  I know going forward that even when times are hard, there is a little hidden joy and comfort in each of those logs.   

Omen:  
  • Mu – Hard work brings good return
    • I’m working hard to complete these workings, even when they are difficult, and the Kindreds see this effort.  This work will bring good things.
  • Zeta – Flee the storm
    • While initially this seems to tell me to avoid the conflict, I know that the next working has me facing a storm at sea and trying to survive that battle.  I see this as a reminder of the work to come, that while I’m doing good work, there are still fights to be had.
  • Iota – The work is never done
    • Unsurprisingly, there is still work to do.  I’ve only made it to chapter 5 of this 24 chapter journey with many more steps along the way, and even if I complete this, there is no knowing what journey I will be sent on next.  
Liturgical Writing Prayers

The prayers written for Liturgical Writing 2, exit standards 2 and 3.

Lighting a Sacrificial Fire

Mighty Hestia, goddess of the living flame,
and keeper of the home,
guide us with your light.
By lighting this fire,
We claim this space as our own,
And with your name and your blessing,
the fire is lit, a hearth ablaze,
in the heart of this sacred space.
{Light Fire}
With this fire, may our hearts be warmed,
And our homes bright.
By worshiping at our communal hearth
may our community be strong and unified.

Meal Blessing

Earth mother, glorious goddess who supports and sustains all living things,
Thank you for providing us with nourishment and fulfillment,
And the gift of this wonderful food.  
We are grateful for your blessings,
and the blessings of the nature spirits who have given their lives so we can live.
May this food bring strength, joy, and peace to each of us.
Earth mother, we thank you!

Remembering a Recently-Passed Ancestor

Sly Fox, quick to spring, quick to act,
And quick to disappear.
You came into our world, unexpected,
And left us all too soon,
With a void that can never be filled.

But, silly Fox, your departure is not your end,
For your memory lives on,
In the hearts of all of those you left behind,
And your name echoes,
In the dreams that we’ve fulfilled.

Old Fox, my promise to you is one I won’t forget,
The tales will still be told,
And the story will continue
Travel well, dear friend,
I’ll look for you in the shadows.  

This is a prayer that I wrote to my mentor when he passed away.  He often went by the name “Fox.”   Fox and I had big dreams of being able to start a grove together, and he passed away before that was able to happen.  However, I continued with that dream, created a grove, and named it after his production company, Prairie Shadow.  

First Day at School

Mighty Kindreds,
Today my son steps into the world,
Starting the foundation for his future.
I ask that you watch over him, and guide him.
Grant him patience and perseverance
For those times where school is hard.
Grant him joy and laughter
To spread to those around him,
And let him have fun
And enjoy these moments
That I know will pass too quickly.
Mighty Kindreds, thank you for standing by his side
When I cannot be there to hold his hand.

Blessing a House

{Light candle}
A flame is lit, to bring light and warmth to this home,
Mighty Hestia, glorious goddess of the hearth,
We ask that you bless this home and all who dwell here.
You who embody home and harmonious community,
Guide this family with your light.
And let your hospitality be shown through them.
Through this flame, let their hearts be warmed,
Through this flame, let their home be bright.
Mighty Hestia, bless this house.  

Performance Reviews

The performance reviews (with contact information) from Liturgy Practicum 2, exit standard 7.

#1  Molly

This past Summer Solstice, Prairie Shadow Grove held a Panathenaia ritual written and put on by Amber Doty. As with many Greek rites, Hestia was honored first, Gaia was welcomed as the Earth Mother, and Hermes was asked to be our Gatekeeper. To celebrate Athena, the deity of the occasion, first the story of Her birth was told. Then during the ‘workings’ section of the rite, we all sat together to craft beautiful sunwheels (or flowers, or whatever you wanted them to be) from paper plates and yarn.
I really enjoyed this ritual, particularly because it was our Grove’s first foray into using a lot of chant and song during the rite and I felt it went fantastically well. The craft was also a great idea and went very well; we had a wonderful time bonding as a group as we celebrated together. In the future, I think a bit more rehearsal of chants beforehand would help the group hold together better during the ritual itself.
Overall, I think the rite was a great success, and accomplished the purpose of honoring Athena wonderfully. Through Her birth story and our work at weaving, we were able to honor different aspects of Her; and I know that I felt the spirit of the holiday.


#2 – Emily
Amber Doty’s Hellenic ritual for the Midsummer festival was truly inspired.  The ritual set up was gorgeous.  Poles of fire lit the pathway to the altar.  As we processed in and washed our hands, her son held the drying towel.  The ritual was very inclusive of the children that were present.  The project that we did in the ritual space connected deeply with Athena.  Amber found a simple weaving project online and provided the supplies so that we could all partake in it.  I felt a great deal of fellowship as we wove our projects in the sacred space.  It was also a project that caused me to be mindful and set me in meditative state thinking about Athena and all of her abilities.  The songs that Amber found and included in the ritual also brought it to life.  It made the ritual feel more inclusive.  Amber’s ritual was very heartfelt and added elements to the ritual that we will look to inspire us in future rituals.  It definitely created a lasting memory.

Instances of Magic

Discuss three different instances of magic done in every ADF ritual, how the magic is accomplished, and what makes that particular work magic. (min. 150 words each instance)

ADF rituals using the Core Order of Ritual use several different small magical workings throughout the rite, including the opening of the gates, the return flow, and taking omens.  

Opening the Gates

Opening the gates is an important part of an ADF COoR rite.  By opening the gates, we are connecting each of the realms to the sacred center of our ritual space.  By opening the gates and connecting the realms we are better able to communicate with the Kindreds, and to more easily give and receive the gifts that we share.   Bonewits describes this process as syncing the group mind to the wavelength that the Kindreds will be communicating through (Bonewits). Within this ritual, we regularly call upon the aid of a Gatekeeper.  A Gatekeeper is a being that can aid us in opening and closing the gates.   

We begin this magical working by calling to the Gatekeeper.  In my rituals, I prefer to do an invocation of the Gatekeeper, which gives me the opportunity to make offerings to them.  I then ask them to join their magic with mine, as we open the gates using the fire, well, and tree as doorways to the realms of the Kindreds.  Using my energy and that of the Gatekeeper, I visualize the opening of the gates around us, and when it feels appropriate, I release the energy proclaiming “Let the Gates be open!” It is this manipulation of energy that lets me believe that this is a magical act.  At the end of the ritual, this work is reversed with each of the three gates being closed and separated from our mundane world.  I then thank the Gatekeeper for their aid in the work we did together.

Omen

The omen acts as the pinnacle of the ritual, where the energy build up from the ritual reaches its peak.   The omen allows us to validate the work we have done, and to receive messages from the Kindreds about the gifts they wish to give us in return.  

The omen is done as an act of divination, performed by a seer in the middle of the ritual.  There are numerous methods to perform the omen, ranging from tarot to fire scrying.  In my grove rituals, we typically ask “Do the Kindreds accept our offerings?” before receiving our Omens.  We use this as a tool to verify that we have done work that is appropriate.  We then ask what gifts they give to us in return.   Divination is an act of magic, allowing us to use or energy to communicate with the Kindreds and the world around us to gain knowledge or gather information that we may not have access to otherwise.  

Return Flow

After we have received an affirmation that our offerings have been accepted, and we know what gifts the Kindreds have to offer us in return, those gifts are channeled into a vessel to be shared with the participants through a process we call the “Return Flow.”  The ADF Core Order of Ritual actually breaks this magical act into three separate steps: calling for the blessings, hallowing the blessings, and affirming the blessings.  

Calling for the blessings is the process that we petition the Kindreds and ask them to give us their gifts. Often, we acknowledge the *ghosti relationship we are working to build with the Kindreds in this

portion of the working, saying something like “a gift calls for a gift” (Dangler).   After the call is made, we move onto hallowing the waters.  In this step we use our magic skills to channel those gifts into a specific vessel for us to use and share with the participants.  After the blessings are received, we announce that they have arrived typically by saying “Behold the waters of life” or something similar and showing the participants the vessel that they have been directed into. The final step in this process is affirming the blessings.  During the affirmation of the blessings, we ask the participants if they are willing to receive the gifts they have been offered, and allow them to accept or decline.   All of this work is done to receive the energies of the Kindreds, and allow them to be channeled into our lives in some way.   
Theatre for Ritual Video

Write a statement of purpose for a rite of your choosing and one invitation for each of the Three Kindreds. Submit a video (of no more than ten minutes of total length) of your performance of all four pieces.

The video for the following pieces can be found here:  https://youtu.be/MfIRDI8Nz54

Statement of Purpose

We come here tonight, unified as a community to deepen our spiritual practice, and foster our relationships with the Kindreds.  May this ritual help to build positive relationships, both with those Kindreds and among all of us.

Three Kindreds:  Ancestors
Ancestors, you who passed before us, ancestors of blood, land, and heart, you who guide us with your wisdom and your experiences, we ask that you join us in this rite. Welcome, Ancestors!

Three Kindreds: Nature Spirits

Nature Spirits, you who share this realm with us, spirits of land, sea, and sky, you who provide us both sustenance and companionship, we ask that you join us in this rite.  Welcome, Nature Spirits!

Three Kindreds: Shining Ones

Shining ones, great gods and goddesses, deities of our hearths, and others, both known and unknown, we ask that you join us in this rite.  Welcome, Shining Ones!