ONE essay describing the Dedicants understanding of and relationship to EACH of the Three Kindreds: the Spirits of Nature, the Ancestors and the Gods. (300 words min. for each Kindred and 1000 words total)
ADF views the Shining Ones as the “eldest, mightiest, and wisest of the beings.” They are the Gods and Goddesses of every kin and culture. The Shining Ones are the Kindred that is held in the highest regard and given the highest worship. Working through the Dedicant Path has helped me to further investigate my own ideas about the Shining Ones, which to me is quite helpful despite the fact that I am still uncertain about some aspects of them.
My understanding of Deity has always been difficult to define. I find it difficult to be certain in my idea that the Shining Ones are individuals and not part of a collective consciousness in some way that I may never understand. I do not believe that they are necessarily omnipresent and omniscient, but how am I do be sure of that? It is these challenges that have made building a strong faith harder for me in the past. All I can be sure of is the personal experience that I have had and the impressions they have left on me. I know that these higher conscious beings exist. I have a very caring, loving, respectful relationship with some of them, especially my patron. It is incredibly important to me that those relationships are built on a foundation of love and respect. For me, it is unbelievably difficult to try to explain what deity is and what they mean to me. If you can’t see the beauty and graciousness of deity within the world around you then there are no words for me to be able to accurately explain it. I’m not particularly concerned if someone believes in one god, one thousand gods, or no gods at all, but sometimes you have to believe that there is something extraordinary and magical in our world, our universe, and our lives. If that is deity, magic, or just nature at its finest, who am I to say? The Shining Ones are typically associated with the “upper” realm, however they are present in each of the realms. For example, Hades would be a part of the upper realm because of his existence as a deity, but he would also be associated with the lower realm because of his responsibilities with the ancestors. And Demeter is a Goddess, however her ties to nature would also build a connection to the middle realm. Needless to say, my thoughts are somewhat scattered and even after all these years I am still trying to fully develop my beliefs, but I have better understanding now than I ever have before. I know that these beings are very present in my life and in the world around me. I understand the importance of having them in my life and in my worship. (382 words).
ADF describes the Nature Spirits as the non-human spirits that inhabit the middle realm along with us. This includes both the mortal beings and those that are not. The Nature Spirits kindred involves many different types of spirits, including those of the plants and animals, and the Dryads, Nymphs, Fauns, and otherworld beings. They should be approached with honor and respect.
Of the three Kindreds, the spirits of nature are the ones that I am most familiar and comfortable with. I grew up in a time where summers were spent outside running through the grass and dancing in the rain, and in a place where the natural world had not yet been overtaken by modern life. I grew up knowing that the plants and animals were important to the world around me and that they do not need voices to speak. I can’t say I have an “animal guide” or anything along those lines, but instead I look at the appearance of animals as a symbol or message that I may need to hear. The spirits of nature, I believe, are the easiest to contact and honor, and to observe and appreciate. However, all too often they are the first ones forgotten. The feelings of connection and comfort I get when interacting or even appreciating my fellow mid-realm inhabitants is incredible. The ancient world understood this connection as well as the importance of the nature spirits in a way that most of modern mankind can only imagine. They understood that there are natural spirits around us: in the trees, in the flowers, in the animals, in the waters, etc. They also understood that the natural world was responsible for our lives. Nature is quite literally the giver of life. It is the food that nourishes and the water that sustains us. It’s the air that we breathe and the sun that warms us. It is also the place we called home. I would love to see more people get back to that point, back to where nature is revered and cared for with the love and respect it deserves. For me, the nature spirits are almost as familiar as friends. Very few things can brighten my mood and bring back happy memories faster than stumbling outside to find the sun shining, the birds singing, and the plants dancing in the wind. (330 words)
ADF explains that the Ancestors are those who have passed on before us and are currently resting in the Land of the Dead. I’m very pleased that our Ancestors include those connected by blood, spirit, and land, and not just those that we have a biological relationship with. They should be honored and remembered as they have the power to guide and protect us.
Before joining ADF I had never considered the ancestors as a regular part of my spirituality. They were a part of my life, and me and were remembered on Samhain, but took a back seat the rest of the year. I am incredibly grateful to now have a place for them in my worship. My family has always been one to gather together and tell stories of the past. We have photos of the ancestors that have passed on shelves intermingled with photos of the living as a way of reminding us that they are still important and with us. I often wonder if those loved ones I’ve lost may still be watching and listening. I don’t have a definitive answer, but I feel in my heart that the people I love are still guiding me when I am lost. They come and go, almost like visitors, and want me to know they are here. They remind me with a glimpse of a song or a scent on the wind, but do not intrude. I think it helps that most of my ancestors are the type that would be perfectly happy being remembered by sharing their stories and inviting them to take part in your activities but not making a big fuss about it. I think they are different from the other two kindred because at one point or another they shared the same physical space that we exist in and have since moved on to a different place. We have known many of them and have been able to share moments of our lives with them in a way that takes nearly no effort. They are also different because sometimes there is still pain associated with this kindred. These differences don’t make them any less meaningful or important, only different. I think the most important thing I can do to keep them both in my life and in my worship is to tell my son about those that have passed and let him have a feeling for whom they are without ever having had the chance to know them for himself. That is the only way that their legacy lives on, even after I pass myself. (367 words -- 1070 words total)