The First Oath

I’ve never been one for oaths when it comes to deities. Not really. I think it relates to the fact that, as a child, I made a sort of oath to the Christian God when I was “saved” and we can all see how that turned out, haha. And then when I first began exploring Paganism, I tried to make an oath to Na Mórrígna and frankly had no idea what I was doin. Thankfully, the ritual was a complete trainwreck and it never really happened; I think they knew I was well-intentioned, but completely unprepared or maybe some other cosmic somethin did. I realize now how much of a colossal mistake that could have been and therefore don’t approach the topic lightly. And as my practice has evolved, I’ve realized I don’t feel the need to be oathed. I think my place within the Gaelic Polytheist community is as a teacher and scholar, possibly even a leader or priest one day, all realizations I came to organically as my practice was continually pulled in so many directions. As such, I honor a wide variety of Gaelic deities, but not in any kind of exclusive way. And part of that is due to my studies, though that’s also sometimes a crutch I use as an excuse at times, too.

So when the idea of the “First Oath” popped up in ADF, I balked. I almost instantly decided I’d just skip that part. Nope. Not for me. However, the more I thought about it and took the time to read, I realized that this oath can be what I need it to be now. It doesn’t have to be anything outrageous or complicated, which is exactly what I need. My life is in a state of flux at the moment and I don’t wanna make an oath I can’t keep, yet I also don’t wanna keep puttin this process off. So, I decided to make the oath to myself.

I, as openly as possible, acknowledge myself a Polytheist
A seeker of ancestral paths and connections, and a bridge to the present. 
I seek to continue my years long path of honoring na Dé ocus Andé,
This oath serving as a marker of that intention.

I vow to seek virtue in my life, to honor the humanity of all,
To fight injustice wherever it arises, and to incorporate that reality into my religion.
I vow to do my best to practice and study, while also recognizing my limitations,
That this path isn’t leaving and that a pause is sometimes needed.

I promise these things to myself, to honor na Dé ocus Andé, the ancestors, humanity, and the world. 

In some ways, I worry this might feel too secular, but it’s what I can reasonably vow right now. As a graduate student, my free time waxes and wanes, but unlike the moon, I can and will hit the pause button when need be. And considering my academic work is also focused on modern Paganisms, it’s reasonable to assert that the separation between my own practice and study with that of my professional commitments is anything but solid.

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A New Endeavor

It’s been almost 17 years since I last stepped foot in a church as someone who truly considered themselves a Christian. But it wasn’t long before I found myself longing for a sense of community again. And I find myself still searching for that. I’ve found good friends along the way (shoutout to my CI folks, haha), but I still yearn for a more organized community. Part of me can’t even believe I’m sayin that. The last time I tried to join a religious organization, I wound up enmeshed in a months long situation where I, and others, were stalked online, were lied to, and were manipulated when we dared to speak out about transphobia. And to make it worse, the initial encounter that sparked the whole thing likely could have been worked through cause it very much seemed to stem from cultural differences rather than a truly bigoted place, yet organizational leadership showed their true colors and displayed some truly vile behavior. And yet here I am, on the precipice of tryin again.

So, back in August, almost a year ago now, I joined ADF, but I”m just now in a place where I can dedicate some time to starting the Dedicant Path. I doubt that this will be the end of a journey for me, but simply a new avenue of exploration. I’m still not convinved the organization is for me, though I’ve certainly ascertained that the local Grove is not and chances are, when I move again in a year, there won’t be a Grove anywhere near me. But I still think it’s worth exploring. I have no idea where this path will lead or if it’s simply a bypass that will rejoin the larger path I’ve been on for more than half my life now. It’s actually weird to think about it in those terms, but that doesn’t change the reality. Tbh, even if I love everything about ADF, as an academic and perpetually curious person, I know that I’ll likely investigate other organizations like OBOD, AODA, etc. It took years to shake the Christian conception that you can only belong to one religious structure at a time, but I’m there now. I guess time will tell what all I find, but I’m excited and ready to see what comes next.

Featured Image: “Great Blue Heron on Reelfoot Lake” by Byron Jorjorian via The Nature Conservancy