Happy Monday! I hope you are all doing well! I work in education, so August tends to be a very busy time of year, and this year that is most definitely amplified. I'm grateful for any sort of "normalcy" I can find, including my weekly omen. It's been a couple weeks since I shared, and I'm happy to be back on track. Below is the message I received today:
Welcome back to my Learning Ogham series. This week we continue down the path of the diagonal Ogham as we explore Ruis.
Ruis is the symbol of the elder tree. It represents rebirth and resilience. It is new growth after hardships. It's a symbol of the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another.
Below are a few attributes of this symbol:
Happy Monday! Suddenly we are more than half way through July. 2020 has been chaos, but right now it feels like it's flying past. This week, I'm excited to share a new deck that I just received, the Rupaul's Drag Race Tarot Cards by Paul Borchers . Below is the message I received:
I am a RPDR fanatic, so this deck is a lot of fun for me. Seeing imagery of the different queens and relating their stories to the meaning of the cards has been an interesting exercise so far.
The Queen of Wands speaks of energy and cheerfulness. On her season of Drag Race, Pearl was often told that she was boring and essentially sleeping through the contest. She responded "You just told me I had no personality, and that doesn't really make me feel good or give me confidence." To me, that interaction shows that we need be aware of how we are presenting ourselves. While no one expects us to be cheerful all the time, there are moments that showing excitement is definitely the appropriate response. It's ok to be happy, even when things are hard.
The Hanged Man shows us sacrifice and letting go of things. During her first season, Eureka O'Hara injured herself during a challenge (torn ACL) and had to be eliminated so she could have surgery. She let go of her place in the competition in order to take care of herself. It forced her to change her perspective and sacrifice her chance to be healthy.
The High Priestess is a message of femininity and intuition. It speaks of following your instincts. Katya is a queen who embraces her femininity and her sexuality, often without a filter. She said that she "Stands here, a charismatic woman of grace and dignity, with a unique sense of humor and point of view." Additionally, Katya has been very open with her struggles with substance abuse, and I can't help but feel like assigning her to the High Priestess is a nod do those struggles. Ultimately though, today's message is all about embracing your femininity and trusting your instincts.
To summarize, it's ok to be cheerful when things are hard, and sometimes you need to look at things from another perspective, but trust your instincts and it will all work out ok.
If this message speaks to you, or if you have some other interpretation, I would love to hear from you! I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Welcome back to my Learning Ogham series. This week we continue down the path of the diagonal Ogham as we explore Straif.
Straif is the symbol of the blackthorn. It represents discomfort and unpleasant decisions. It speaks of hardships and darkness. It also represents some sort of karmic force or outside influence teaching a lesson.
Below are a few attributes of this symbol:
Happy Monday! Wow....somehow we've made it to July. The summer has gone by so quickly so far, and I know the next month will bring.....but this week's omen gives me hope for some brighter future ahead. Below is the message I received:
This week's omen feels so much more positive than I have felt myself. Hermera is the return of daylight to the world. It's rebirth and light, which is wonderful to consider in the darkness of the world around us right now. Chiron speaks of healing and finding ways to allow the pain to fade. Healing may not happen the way that we're used to, but we have to let go of what hurts us in order to move forward. Apollo speaks of foresight and looking ahead into the future.
Ultimately, there is change coming, a time of light and rebirth. We need to find ways to heal in the future.
If this message speaks to you, or if you have some other interpretation, I would love to hear from you! I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Welcome back to my Learning Ogham series. This week we continue down the path of the diagonal Ogham as we explore Ngetal.
Ngetal is the symbol of the reed. It represents truth and directness. The correlations of the reed to water show a connection to the subconscious and femininity. The reed symbolizes someone on a journey with a defined goal. It shows strong conviction and following those convictions to fruition.
Below are a few attributes of this symbol:
Happy Monday! It's hard to believe that we are at the end of June, and we are already halfway through 2020. We don't know what the rest of the year will hold, but I'm hoping for more sunshine and some positivity. *fingers crossed*. It's time once again for our weekly divination. Below is the message I received:
For me, this week's omen speaks of my mood right now. The world is still scary and we are far from "normal", but I'm trying to be hopeful for healing and positive change in the future. The Queen of Pentacles shows that we need to be nurturing and kind to each other right now, taking care of one another in order to make these changes. The Ace of Wands tells us that it's time to take a chance on the things we've been considering. I know for me, quarantine has made it feel difficult to move forward and this omen tells us that now is the time.
Ultimately, it's ok to have hope right now. We need to be kind and nurturing, both to ourselves and those around us right now as we begin to move forward and take chances.
These cards & interpretations come from the Otherkin Tarot by Siolo Thompson! If this message speaks to you, or if you have some other interpretation, I would love to hear from you!
I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Welcome back to my Learning Ogham series. This week we continue down the path of the diagonal Ogham as we explore Gort.
Gort is the symbol of ivy. It represents the search for yourself. Ivy is a resilient plant that can even grow in poor soil conditions. It only requires light. As an omen, Gort represents looking deep inside yourself too find the appropriate "Way" for you.
Below are a few attributes of this symbol:
I hope you all had a joyful Midsummer. I love spring, but I'm very happy to have finally made it to summer.
This week's omen came a simple Greek Alphabet Oracle set. This is my "default" preferred method of divination, and have spent the past five years developing a relationship with these wooden lots. Here is the message from this week:
As I've said before, the Greek Alphabet oracle often has multiple meanings that can be hidden deep inside of the mythology. Eta is a reminder that we aren't alone, that the bright sun above us watches and sees us for who we truly are. However, Helios is also the deity responsible for overseeing oaths and promises. For those who may be dishonest in their intent, this can be a threat...Helios sees you and knows what you're doing. Upsilon speaks tells us that the work we are doing is noble. We may have decisions to make, or issues to resolve, but we are on the right path. Beta is a message that we aren't alone, and that we may have others who are willing to help us out. However, we have to take those steps to make things happen...it isn't going to happen on it's own. Beta also mentions Apollo, originally translated to mean "With the help of Tyche, you will have an assistant, the Pythian (Apollo). This ties the omen to the oracle of Delphi and may represent some sort of prophecy involved.
Ultimately, to summarize, to me this is a positive omen. It's a reminder that the sun is shining and the gods are watching. We're doing good things, we are taking the right steps, but if we need help, don't be afraid to ask for it. We aren't in this alone.
I hope you are all staying safe and taking care of yourselves. Have a wonderful week.
1. Choose a primary source from one Indo-European hearth culture that discusses or provides a suggested code of conduct or ethics. Select at least 3 different points from it and discuss how they may have applied in that culture and time period, and how they may or may not apply to or influence your personal ethics now. (min 150 words each, quoted text does not count towards word count)
Ancient Indo-European cultures had a vast array of different codes of conduct and depictions of ethical behavior. Within the Hellenic hearth, one example is the Delphic Maxims. The Delphic Maxims are a set of 147 phrases that are inscribed in the temple of Apollo at Delphi (Hellenic Faith). These phrases described a set of societal expectations and acted as a code of conduct for Greek citizens. Choosing just three phrases from this list was a very interesting challenge for me, but ultimately, I narrowed it down to just the following:
Maxim 2: Obey the Law
Ancient Greece had a number of laws in place, as well as a formal court system to give trials to those people who did not abide by the rules of society. People were able to bring private claims against their fellow citizens for some situations, such as property damaged. There were also public trials available for crimes in which “the state had an interest in punishing a wrongdoer,” such as murders (Lambert). Cities like Athens relied on their citizens obeying the law to maintain order and keep their citizens safe and unified.
I believe this same expectation is held today. We have a number of laws in our country, as well as state and local laws that are in place to protect our citizens and keep our people and property unharmed. Personally, I do tend to be someone who tries to obey the law as often as possible. I try to set a good example for my children, and do my part in society. However, I do recognize that there are outlying circumstances in every situation that have to be assessed. If someone steals bread to feed their starving children, how can they be punished? We all need to find a balance in life, and do the best we can for our fellow humans.
Maxim 13: Honor the Hearth/Hestia
Hestia is the Greek goddess of the hearth and home, and honoring her was an important part of ancient Greek spiritual practices. As goddess of the sacred fire, she was the one who oversaw all offerings, so the first offering was always made to her (Atsma). The hearth was the center of the home, bringing warmth and light and cooking a family’s food. It is here that guests and hosts gathered together in community. As the goddess of the hearth, all of these parts of life fell under her jurisdiction. By honoring Hestia, you are fostering and supporting our virtue of hospitality. Often within ADF, we see this described as *ghosti, but the ancient Greeks used the term “xenia” to explain the relationship and responsibilities of hospitality (Biggs, Joseph and Bennet). In my personal ethics, hospitality is an important virtue. It is through hospitality that we build our relationships with the Kindred, as well as our interpersonal relationships within our community.
Maxim 43: Be accommodating in everything
When I read this maxim, I begin to think of the ancient Greek ideas of reciprocity and hospitality, a concept they called “xenia.” Xenia is described the reciprocal relationship between guest and host, or a “guest-friendship” (Biggs, Joseph and Bennet). One example of xenia can be found in the Odyssey where an expectation of reciprocity is described as Odysseus approaches Eumaeus, the swineherd. Eumaeus welcomes Odysseus, even though he doesn’t recognize him by saying that it would be wrong to turn a guest away. He expresses the idea that every stranger is sent from Zeus and a gift is expected. Odysseus shows his gratitude by calling upon Zeus directly “May Zeus and the other gods give you your heart’s desire, sir, since you welcome me so warmly” (Homer).
The idea of hospitality and xenia are very important parts of my personal practice. It’s important to recognize the give and take, the respect, and the balance that we are all working to build in our relationships with the Kindred and the world around us.
2. Write on the concept of reciprocity and why it is important in our lives as modern Druids and modern Magicians. (min 350 word)
Reciprocity is a concept that is vital to my personal practice, both as a modern Druid and Magician. I consistently work to build reciprocal relationships with the universe, the Kindreds and with my community. I give offerings to those beings who I call out to in ritual, and those who I ask to aid me in magical work. I try to act as a good host and guest to the nature spirits who live on my land. I honor the memory of my ancestors by sharing their stories and showing my gratitude for them. I volunteer for projects in my local community that gives me so much in return. These are just a few small examples of the small acts of reciprocity that are woven into my practice.
The importance of reciprocity and hospitality is well based on the practices of the ancient Indo-European people. Ancient Greece had a concept called “xenia” which I have explored in other questions of this course (Biggs, Joseph and Bennet). Within our organization, we see the word *ghosti used to describe a similar idea. Ghosti is defined as a “Proto-Indo-European word which refers to the reciprocal relationship of hospitality” (Thomas). This reciprocal relationship again applies to both relationships built with the Kindreds and a relationships built within a community. The concept of ghosti also allows us to define our own boundaries and determine which relationships are appropriate for us to work with, and which ones we can refuse.
The importance of the guest-host relationship, and the divine can also be found in many different pieces of mythology, including the Eleusinian Mysteries. The Pheneatian sanctuary to Demeter is where the Mysteries first began. The myth tied to this temple indicated that Demeter had visited, and was shown hospitality by Trisaules and Damithales. In return for that hospitality, she showed them the wisdom of the mysteries and how to grow many crops. They built the temple in her honor and to share those Mysteries with others.
Additionally, the idea of reciprocity is found throughout ADF. For example, one of the earliest concepts we introduce to new members through the Dedicant Program is the Nine Virtues of ADF. Within this list of virtues, we express many different ideas for positive interactions and behavior including the concept of hospitality. This virtue is simple: we should behave both as a good host to those in our care, and a gracious guest when being hosted. This could apply to every aspect of our lives, from our interactions within our community, to our public and private rituals.
In my opinion, the entire premise of the Core Order of Ritual is devoted to this idea of hospitality and reciprocity. Throughout the rite we invite many different beings to our rituals, give them offerings and thank them for joining us. Each of these actions is intended to build our relationships, show respect, and act as good hosts to those attending. Additionally, in the center of our rite, our role changes and we receive blessings from these same beings in return for our gifts to them. Reciprocity, respect, and hospitality are key to these rites.
Hospitality and reciprocity are easy concepts for us to forget or ignore, but I truly believe that they are the very heart of my practice as a Druid and Magician. It’s important to recognize the give and take, the respect, and the balance that we are all working to build in our personal spiritual paths.
3. Explain how you determine if a magical working is the proper action in the situation you wish to apply it to. Describe your method of determining the proper magical course of action, from start to finish, as well as any particular exercises (such as divination) you go through to ensure that your actions are correct. (min. 300 words)
Magical work is something that I take very seriously. To determine if a magical working is the appropriate action, we have to take into consideration whether the working is needed, if it is ethical to perform, and if the action is virtuous. Before I decide if magic is an appropriate action to take, I make sure that the situation I am approaching can’t be resolved through simple mundane effort. At the very least, even if normal actions can’t be used to resolve a situation, I try to combine my magical acts with “real world” activities. For example, if I’m doing a working to find a new job, I make sure that I am actively posting resumes and applying for jobs in addition to performing the magical working. The magic in this case is used to aid my search and I have no expectation that a career will appear without mundane action on my part.
My next step is to consider my personal code of ethics to determine if the action is something that I should be doing. In that moment, I treat magic the same as every day action. If I would not do the action physically if I was able to, then I will not take magical action. If it doesn’t follow my ethical expectations of myself and others, then I will not proceed with the work I am considering. However, if it fits with my personal ethical standards, then I move forward with further consideration.
I then consider the nine virtues and whether the action I am taking is virtuous. I verify that the action is based in wisdom, vision, piety, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation, and fertility before proceeding. Occasionally the magical act doesn’t meet these standards so no action will be taken.
The final thing I do before taking action is to take an omen, asking each of the Kindred if magic is the appropriate action in the situation. If the omen is negative, I don’t proceed. If it is positive, I take the omen a step further and ask if the specific type of magic I have planned is appropriate or if I should take a different route. Once all of those questions are answered, I can finally begin my magical work.
4. Describe how self-reflection plays into your personal ethics. (min 300 words)
Self-reflection is an important part of establishing and upholding personal ethics. I believe the ability to reflect on your own words and actions is key in any leadership role, but especially in a position such as magician or clergy where you may be asked to do magical workings on behalf of other people. We need to be able to step back and review how our actions and interactions can be interpreted by others, both positively and negatively. We also need to be able to reflect and understand the impact we may have on the world around us. This requires us to have a good understanding of our personal ethics, boundaries, and biases, as well as how we communicate with others.
Personally, I believe self-reflection should be both the first and last step of any magical working. We should reflect on our ethics and actions prior to undertaking a magical work to determine why we are doing the magic in the first place and whether the acts align with our personal ethics. If we find that the magic doesn’t meet our expectations for ourselves, we should not pursue it further. And again, once a magical working is completed, we should take the time to reflect on the magic itself and the work we have done. We should reflect upon the ritual to see if it were effective or if there are areas we can improve in the future. We should also reflect upon the outcome and how it ties to our efforts, asking ourselves if the resolution matches the efforts we put into the work. This gives us the opportunity evaluate our magical skills for both those things we did well and those areas that need improvement or changes we need to make.
Self-reflection may also come into play when it comes to ethical issues like confidentiality. We need to be able to honestly look at ourselves and determine how situations may impact us, and how our actions may impact others. We have to be confident in our abilities to look at ourselves and our actions and determine the ethical impact that they have.
5. Create a personal code of ethics for your use as a Magician, using the information you learned in questions 1-4 as a starting point. Personal Code must include at least 3 distinct points. (no minimum word count)
Code of Ethics for Rev. Amber Doty:
Preamble: This code of conduct is developed in an effort to give a clear and decisive guideline for actions and reactions to circumstances encountered while working as a Magician.
6. Detail your understanding of the warning signs of a con artist, and provide an explanation of how you would deal with a client who appeared to have been taken advantage of by a con artist. (min 300 words)
The term con artist is defined as “a person who tricks other people in order to get their money” (Merriam-Webster). That is an easy enough concept to understand, but it can be much more difficult to see a con artist in action. Unfortunately, there are numerous methods that con artists use to take advantage of unsuspecting “customers” when it comes to magical practices. They may give someone a canned reading that use the same phrases and symbols, no matter what the omen itself actually says. They may even take it a step further and indicate that there is darkness, such as a curse or “bad energy” that is surrounding them that can only be cured through the skills of the “psychic,” of course for a price. This type of con will often will require a follow-up appointments to make sure the “bad energy” is gone (often it isn’t) and each visit has an additional fee (Yronwode). If a reader is asking for more and more money, it’s often a very clear sign that their actions are fraudulent. If they indicate that their spells are guaranteed, or make promises that the magic will work, it’s another sign that you are dealing with a con artist.
As the internet has become more and more prevalent in our world, online con artists have also come up with new ways to defraud their clientele without even meeting them. Sometimes they will have websites with little more information on them than a Paypal link for you to send them money. Other sites may offer free magical workings to entice their customers. Often these works are stolen from other authors. They may also utilize fake credentials to make their practices seem more legitimate to the unsuspecting contacts (Yronwode).
Working with a client who has been taken advantage of can be quite challenging. Often they are convinced that the person they were working with is legitimate, so you have to be sensitive and professional. I would first listen to their experience, and then try to delicately explain that I believe they had been taken advantage of. If they still feel like the worker was legitimate, I may point them to some references that describe magical cons and see if that helps. However, most importantly, I would not pursue any magic that the con artist had indicated should be done on the client’s behalf.
7. Choose at least one scenario from each category below and for each describe how you would determine a course of action, how you would respond to the person in question, and how your personal ethics and techniques would inform your response. (min 200 words each)
Category A i A young woman comes to you, obviously flustered. She asks for a reading, which is normal and uneventful. At the end of the reading, she says that she was just at a psychic up the street who told her that she had a malignant spirit hanging around her, and that she had been cursed since the womb. She's already paid $150 to the psychic to have the curse removed, and seems unsure about your reading because it wasn't as dire as the last one, but she wants to go back to the other reader and use you as a second opinion on the psychic's work.
As I indicated in my previous question, working with someone who has been taken advantage of can be challenging because they often truly believe the words of the con artist and are emotionally invested in the magical acts that they have been promised. However, I would as tactfully and patiently as possible try to explain that they have been scammed. I would provide resources that explain the type of scam that they have encountered. In reading this scenario, I’m not entirely sure if the client is asking to just share my reading information with the psychic, or if they are asking me to go to the psychic with them as a second opinion. If they are trying to take the information from my reading back to the con artist, I would also try to dissuade them from going back for any reason, explaining that the psychic would likely try to take more money from the client. If the client is asking me to go with them to the psychic, I would personally have to decline. I see no benefit in visiting an establishment like this and essentially making a client choose who to believe in that situation. Additionally, if the client was to take my advice to not return to the psychic, but instead asked me to perform the working to remove the malignant spirit, I would gently refuse to do any such working and further explain that it is unnecessary.
Category B ii. A new Grove member comes to you asking if you can help them do a ritual to the mother aspect of The Morrigan so they can get pregnant.
I feel that there are a couple layers to this scenario that need to be addressed. First, if I did determine that I was willing to do any sort of working for this member, I would begin by asking them to do some additional research on the Morrigan to clarify her role and their expectations for this rite. The Morrigan is not a goddess who has a “mother” aspect in any sort of historical writing that I am familiar with. I would be willing to help them find resources and guide them to learn, but until we fully understood what their expectations were and who we should be working with, I would not proceed with any sort of magical acts.
The scenario also indicates that this is a “new” Grove member. This type of request is quite personal for someone who I am not very familiar with and may not know much about. If that is the case, I would decline to take on this magical working because I am personally not comfortable doing any sort of magical working for someone when I do not know very well, especially for an act as life changing as pregnancy. I would gently explain my stance and specify that I feel that this type of work is too intimate for me to pursue at this time. I would also explain that I may be willing to assist in the future as we get to know each other and better understand the circumstances.
Category C i. After a discussion of magical techniques, a young man asks if you can explain to him how to create servitors or work with spirit allies to make his roommate so uncomfortable that he will leave. He mentions he'd really like to do a ritual called the "Black Sacrament" from the Elder Scrolls video game (http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Black_Sacrament), and use that to make his roommate leave.
There are multiple red flags in this scenario, and unfortunately I’ve had similar experiences to what is described here. The first, and I believe easiest, thing to address is the intent of this requested working. Working to make someone else uncomfortable goes against my personal code of conduct. I will not perform workings that are intended to do harm to other, be it physical or emotional, even if it is only a discomfort. That alone makes it easy to say that I am not interested in helping with this cause. The second point, using a ritual from a video game, is something I have encountered. It isn’t always easy to explain to someone that magic in real life does not work the same way it does in a video game, but it is necessary. Explain to them that they would need to pursue other avenues to learn about how magic works. However, reading the text of that ritual itself is much more concerning. The ritual itself calls for the use of actual human body parts. With that information, I would really have to examine the conversation with this person. If I felt that they were a danger to their roommate, I would try to contact them if I had any way to do so to explain my concerns. Otherwise, if I genuinely believed that this person was dangerous to themselves or others and capable of doing harm, I would contact the local authorities with the information I had. Either way, I would try to be cautious and thorough in explaining that I am unable to assist them with the task at hand.
Category D ii. A man comes to you and asks for an exorcism: he says he feels a presence in him that he would like out, that he's not happy with how it makes him feel. He comes from Haiti, so he's familiar and comfortable with exorcism in general, and asks you to do the exorcism in a Hatian Voodoo style.
To begin with, I would thank the man for having enough confidence in me to believe that I was able to assist him. However, ethically I would not be able to perform the exorcism as requested. I am not a Voodoo practioner and would not be willing to pretend I have those skills in order to assist the man. I would explain to him that I don’t have the skillset necessary to do a Voodoo-style ritual. I would be willing to discuss how we could work together using my own practice if he is interested, but would be understanding if he’d rather find someone who could do his preferred type of magic.
For me, morally, this is an easy question to answer. I recognize that this is not my skillset, and have a responsibility to be honest about that. Additionally, as someone who does not have any cultural ties to Haiti, I would not want to appropriate that culture in a way that is disrespectful, so I wouldn’t take on the task even if I knew how. If the man decided that he would rather pursue someone who could assist him with Voodoo, I would give him resources from the local community to help him find someone to assist him better than I can.
Atsma, Aaron. Hestia. 2011. January 2020. <https://www.theoi.com/Flora1.html>.
Biggs, Cory, et al. The Value of Hospitality. 2002. 2019. <https://minerva.union.edu/wareht/gkcultur/guide/8/web1.html>.
Hellenic Faith. Delphic Maxims. n.d. 2020. <https://hellenicfaith.com/delphic-maxims/>.
Lambert, Kelly. Law and Courts in Ancient Athens: A Brief Overview. 20 September 2018. June 2020. <https://kosmossociety.chs.harvard.edu/?p=40452>.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam Webster Dictionary. 2020. June 2020. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/con%20artist>.
Srinivas, Hari. The Problem Solving Process. n.d. January 2016. <http://www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html>.
Thomas, Kirk. Ghosti! n.d. September 2014. <https://www.adf.org/articles/identity/ghosti-cheer.html>.
Yronwode, Catherine. Lucky Mojo Curio Co. 2014. 2020. <https://www.luckymojo.com/blackgypsies.html>.