The Gods

4 03 2014

In ADF the Gods are referred to as the Shining Ones. They are associated with the fire, the upperworld and the realm of the sky. They represent the order of the sky power. ADF, and paganism as a whole, is a polytheist religion which believes in and honours many different gods rather than the one god of the abrahamic monotheistic faiths. They are the most powerful spirits, the eldest and wisest beings in the universe, who are remembered for their love, help and power. They can be both male or female and in Celtic culture, they are often found in triple form. In Norse/ Anglo-Saxon mythology they are seen as the ancestors of humanity as Odin and his brothers created the first humans. Meanwhile in the Gaelic celtic culture the gods are called the Tuatha De Danaan, the tribe of Dana. They are the first children of the Earth Mother. Most of the myths of these cultures tell the stories of gods and heroes. They are not seen as the god of one particular aspect, but have many interests and areas of expertise just as humans do. They are seen as distinct personalities. They have their own desires and goals, and while they can sometimes help humans, they are not seen as “spiritual cash machines.” They are not perfect but are capable of both vice and virtue. They are not immortal but are often renewed through magical feasts such as eating the apples of Idun.

I tend towards an atheistic or pantheistic view of the universe, and it is the universe or Mother Nature that is ultimately worthy of my respect and worship. However I do incorporate soft polytheism into my practice in that I believe that if there are gods, they would be manifestations of the one source – the cosmos. It is certainly easier to relate to nature by breaking it down into parts – the gods. It was this emphasis on honouring the earth that drew me to paganism in the first place, and I see the earth as sacred, which is why I love the fact that ADF honours the Earth Mother at the beginning and end of every ritual. Some of the best places to honour the gods with offerings are on hilltops, at rivers or in other unique natural features that command our respect. In ancient Celtic cultures, the main river of an area was associated with the land or sovereignty goddess and so it makes sense to honour and seek to connect with the Earth Mother at nearby water sources. In my personal practice, I seek to honour the gods by making offerings each time I do a ritual and by seeking to live my life according to the virtues.

Nature Awareness Update 12th April 2013

12 04 2013

I tried the nature awareness hour twice this week, firstly on Thursday but it began to rain very heavily so I came back on Friday at 5.15pm. The weather was sunny and there were a few big white and light grey clouds in the mostly blue sky. There was a gentle breeze but it was warm enough to have only a jumper on rather than a coat, which is one of the first times its been warm enough to do so this year.

It was a lot quieter today as its no longer the school holidays and as its early evening I think many people were having tea. I really enjoyed the time out in nature today and some words kept going through my mind which proved to be quite prophetic. They were “the graces of the Earth Mother” and I believe it was a message from Mother Nature. I understand “grace” from a Christian point of view i.e. getting something nice that we don’t deserve…and that’s exactly how I felt the hour went.

Horse Chestnut in Spring

Horse Chestnut in Spring (Photo credit: bbusschots)

I noticed a lot of new things about nature today – I noticed there were two more Horse Chestnut trees in the nature reserve and many of their buds had burst. The buds were huge and their “five finger like” leaves were now out. I also noticed there were lots of Dock leaves around and many Buttercups and Dandelions too. On the way there I saw many Daffodils beginning to die off, but the ones in the reserve were still going strong and I saw a new lot there too. The reserve also has some bramble areas that I hadn’t previously noticed.

When I first arrived there were at least four different distinct birds singing, there was a Moot Swan sat on its nest sunbathing and periodically adding bits to it. There were no birds in the pond at first but I was later joined by four Mallard Ducks and two Moor-Hens who were swimming, cleaning themselves and eating plants in the pond. There were Sea Gulls flying over head and a few wood pigeons in the trees. During the course of the hour the Wood Pigeons would fly between the trees and the ground. Unfortunately there was also a dead Wood Pigeon up one of the trees too :(.

Great Tit

Great Tit (Photo credit: AntoGros)

An amazing sight I saw today were a few Great Tits. One in particular flew to a nest box very close to me. It went inside for about 20 seconds, then popped its head out, flew on top of the nest box and then off elsewhere. When it flew it went in an up-down motion like a wave. It returned many times throughout the hour and each time flew away in a different direction. I love the colours on these birds so it was a real treat to see.

I saw many other small birds flying between the trees, landing on the reeds and then flying down to the ground. One was definitely a Chaffinch – it was brown, white and orange. I think the others were Wrens or Dunnocks and Long Tailed Tits. They were too far away from me to see clearly though.

A black bird that was either a Raven or Crow flew over and I also saw another brown bird up close but couldn’t identify it. It may have been a House Sparrow.

Another amazing sight was a heron flew over head and caused a commotion among the Sea Gulls in a lake nearby. I never expected to see one of those around. Then came the final “grace of the Earth Mother”. Just after 6pm I saw either a Pipistrelle Bat or a Greater Horseshoe Bat. It flew over the pond and circled it a couple of times diving down to the water twice before it flew off. I felt very blessed to see it as I have only seen bats in the wild once before in my life.

I felt very peaceful during the hour as well as being in awe of the graces of the Earth Mother today. Seeing the Bat, Heron and Great Tits was amazing. On the way home I noticed a small piece of rubbish so I picked that up too.

Dedicant Path Week 3 – Nature Awareness

4 04 2013

The fifth part of the ADF Dedicant Path “Through the Wheel of the Year” Supplement is Nature Awareness (parts 3 and 4 are the high day so i’ll do them at the beginning of May.) For the Nature Awareness part, we are asked to go to a local nature spot and spend at least an hour there, listening and watching, and record our experiences. We should do this once per week. The aim is to connect with the Earth Mother and the Spirits of Nature.

I am very fortunate to live in an area that has beaches, parks, woodland and a nature reserve all within a mile of my home. I chose to go to a local park that is next to a beach but also includes a nature conservation area. This should give me a whole mixture of nature to see. The nature conservation area is a wetland/ marshland area, however a large percentage of it is reeds which are currently dead because its only early spring and the place looks pretty bare. There are some trees around, several ponds and some grassy areas.

I chose to go at 2pm this afternoon (4th April). The weather was cold and windy and the sky was covered in light grey clouds. I could hear a few birds singing throughout most of the time I was there. As its easter holidays there were lots of children around and the bumper boats were making noise so it wasn’t the most peaceful afternoon.

The trees in the area were beginning to bud, one had some catkins on it and a horse chestnut already had many leaves on. I could see where the leaves were breaking out of the buds on some of the trees.


Coot (Photo credit: Sergey Yeliseev)

I sat down near one of the ponds and began to observe what happened around me. There were a few marshland birds around including coots, ducks and swans. I observed the coot swimming around, drinking and bobbing its head backwards and forwards as it swam. Later it went onto the land area and began eating some small green leaves from a plant. There were two more coots in another pond which were staying close to the edge, swimming, eating and drinking.

There were half a dozen mallard ducks in the pond. Mainly males, but one female who they tried a few times to mate with. The ducks were swimming, drinking water and pruning themselves.

I also saw two large white moot swans. At first they appeared to be sleeping on what looked like a nest. They began to build more bits onto the nest and then after a while one came to the pond to swim. It also tried to attack the ducks which then stayed away from it for the rest of the hour. The swan appeared to gargle when it drank water and then shook its head. It also used its flipper to scratch the top of its head which I think was it trying to clean itself. I noticed that while ducks are very noisy, the swans and coots were very quiet.

Pied Wagtail

Pied Wagtail (Photo credit: oldbilluk)

There were some wood pigeons about – some in the trees and other on the ground eating. Seagulls were flying above and I saw a few male blackbirds flying between trees. There were two small black and white birds with long tails which flew around. I think they were pied wagtails. There was also a very small brown bird which landed on a nearby tree, which I am sure was a wren.

One thing that surprised me was I didn’t really see any insects and there appeared to be no life on top of the pond. However there were some bubbles appearing in the pond which suggested to me that something was alive in the water.

There were some daffodils out in bloom and a few dandelions around too.

I said hi to the Nature Spirits when I arrived and thanked them and Mother Nature when I left. I didn’t really have any mystical experiences or feel much besides the cold, however at one point I got a little frustrated at the birds not staying in place long enough for me to work out what they were and that led me to a realisation, which was perhaps the earth mother or the spirits of nature talking. The realisation was – Nature isn’t here for me, its a privilege to experience what I do in nature and I should be thankful. That may sound obvious but I think its often easy to forget it so I think the gentle reminder was important.

I decided it was important to bring a field guide with me next time and to spend some time in meditation/ being open, rather than just writing down everything i saw.