The thing I find most daunting about it is that you do it on your own. Granted for most of my life as a Pagan I've been solo, but I feel drawn enough to ADF that I'm actually scared of screwing it up. With the other traditions that I've read about I never had that fear, so it's new to me.
Luckily there is a supplemental publication that gives framework to the Dedicant Path: The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year, by Rev. Michael J. Dangler. More importantly it gives that structure in increments of weeks. I do well when I have that kind of time bound structure. Most of my friends and acquaintances do better freestyle, but for me structure gives me a sense of momentum and accomplishment I don't feel otherwise.
So I have homework now. Different questions, actions, meditations and the like to do over the next year. While I'm not certain if doing the Dedicant Path "officially" is something that I want to do yet; I do know that it's something that I want to do for myself.
So, without further ado, my homework for the week. (Since so many people are chomping at the bit to see my blog right? Hi bots!)
1. Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?
At first I was just fascinated by the idea of ADF druidry. My first exposure to Paganism was Wiccan, or more accurately Pagan-with-Wiccan-flavoring, and it never really engrossed me. I'd just left Christianity and the idea of duo-theism, of every God as one God and every Goddess as one Goddess was close enough to some liberal forms of Christian thought that I withdrew from it instinctively. At the time I attributed it to discomfort with those echos of Christianity. Looking back I was a budding hard-polytheist.
Through the years I studied, or attempted to study, everything Pagan I could get my hands on. I read about shamanism, Heathenry, and OBOD druidism. None of them fit me. Then I stumbled on a blog that linked to ADF.org. So I went there, read everything on the site, and joined the next day.
Though I've only been a member for a few days now, I do feel that I recognize within the DP something that calls to me. From the very first day, The first prayer and offering at an altar cobbled together from votive candles, a renfaire goblet, a bonsai tree and sandalwood incense, the DP feels right in a way that nothing has for me before. So I plan to follow it as best I'm able and hopefully grow in knowledge of ADF and my own spirit as I do so.
2. Is this a step on your path, or will it become the Path itself?
I don't know. I'm sure that if I finish the Dedicant Path that I'll still always want to learn and expand my daily practice. Will that be in ADF style or something else? I don't know yet. If the DP is as rewarding to me mentally and spiritually as I expect it to be I will likely take the Generalist study program later, but I won't rule out taking Reclaiming classes or the like.
As of this moment I'm leaning toward this being a part of my path going onward, but not becoming the path itself. The Dedicant Path doesn't seem like something that ends really, you just find more to add to it. More study, new daily devotions, new group or solo rituals. That's clear as mud right?
3. What do you expect to learn?
First I'd expect to learn more about Indo-European cultures and people. Above all else ADF literature lets you know that they're creating a system of ritual and practice based on all that they can learn about religious, social, and creative practices of the various Indo-European peoples modeled to work in modern life. Study of history would be crucial for anyone attempting the Dedicant Path.
I'd expect to learn new ways of approaching the Gods and Ancestors. The Three Kindreds fascinate me. (Yes, I'm guilty of skipping ahead a bit in my manual. That's why time-bound structure is useful to reel me in.)
I want to know everything I can learn about them, and that's a lot. I don't know if one lifetime will be enough to satisfy my curiosity and awe for them.
I expect to learn, or train myself, to write better ritual. Right now I kind of suck at it. I can create devotionals and prayers that speak to me, but when I try to write ritual I become overwhelmed with a feeling of awkwardness and a sense that I just don't know enough to attempt what I'm doing. Low self-esteem thy name is Mark.
On that topic, by deepening my daily practice and utilizing the Core Order of Ritual when writing my own rituals I expect to become more at home in my own skin when I'm embarking on a work or celebration. No more feeling like a kid dressed up as an adult. Well, that might be a little over-reach. Let's say no more feeling like a kid playing dress up most of the time. We all have off days right?
Lastly... well not really, but I could keep writing things I want to learn all afternoon. I hope to learn, or begin learning, how to utilize the gifts that I have to help and support those around me. The Pagan community in particular. No one can know us if we don't make ourselves known to them first.
4. What would you like to get out of this journey?
Ummm.... see number 3? I would like to have a rewarding spiritual practice. One that challenges me at times and that I feel invested in. I want to look back at the DP years from now and recognize it as a formative part of my life. Something that changed me and helped me figure out more about my self. I want a better relationship with the Gods, and to remember their influence in my life even when my life is going to pot. I want to remember my Ancestors, both of blood and heart, and find ways to dedicate parts of my daily life to them. I don't expect the DP to magically grant all of this, or for myself to turn around and be a new person a year from now, but it's certainly a start.
5. Do you know where this path will take you?
Nope, and I'm happy about that. I don't know where I'll be even just six months along this path and I'm okay with that. I'll find out when I get there.
6. If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to start on this immediately?
It feels right to do so. In the first pages of the Dedicant Path Manual you are invited to start right away. So I did. That's really all there is to it. I looked ahead, liked what I saw and broke into a run.
7. Does it look hard or easy?
It doesn't look easy, that's for certain. Committing a year of free time to anything is difficult. Something that requires more dedicated study that college did will be even more-so. I look forward to the challenges though. Doing hard work intellectually and spiritually is fulfilling in and of itself. Plus a year gives plenty of time to indulge my trashy romance novel addiction on the side.
8. Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?
Daily practice and meditation will be easiest. I try to do devotions each morning so adding ADF structure and offerings won't be that hard. Learning a new approach to the Gods, Spirits and Ancestors will be harder. The spirits will likely be the hardest. My approach to them currently is a blend between the Saints of my childhood and the "messengers of the Goddess" stories I've heard and read about. Knowing them to be powers in their own right will take time to digest.
So that's my homework. If you want to look into ADF yourself you can find it at ADF.org. If you're interested in general information on paganism, or any other religion, try Patheos.com.
That's everything for today.
Be happy and blessed!