Upper Midwest Retreat 2018 – Athens, Wisconsin

 

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Attendees at the 2018 ADF Upper Midwest Retreat

 

Overview

The 2018 ADF Upper Midwest Retreat was held May 11-13th at Deeply Rooted Church in Athens, WI. 

The retreat was attended by 16 ADF members and friends and organized by Protogrove of the Whispering Spirits in Appleton, WI and Wild Onion Grove in Chicago. Grove members from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan were among those present. In addition, the caretakers/staff of Deeply Rooted Church were with us throughout the weekend.

Deeply Rooted Church

Deeply Rooted Church is an organization that describes itself as an intentional pagan community. They host a number of groups who are seeking the quietude, space, and accommodations required for spiritual gatherings, but individuals may also visit by first checking their calendar and making a reservation ahead of time.

Deeply Rooted consists of acres of secluded woodlands and some simple, rustic facilities. There is dedicated space for tent camping, as well as a central lodge in which guests can reserve a bed in a communal sleeping space. The lodge also consists of a kitchen area with a gas stove, spaces for gathering, and many, many books.

There is no running water at Deeply Rooted, so it’s necessary to bring potable water with you. This also means that there are no flush toilets; instead, the site features a composting outhouse and a designated whizzing tree. An enormous iron stove provides ample warmth inside the main lodge.

 

In addition to the facilities, Deeply also features some designated devotional spaces including a shrine and two areas for rituals.

What Happened at the Retreat…

Since much of the ADF membership in the Midwest is scattered or solitary, one critical aspect of this retreat was simply having time to connect with and engage fellow druids. The retreat organizers provided a schedule and framework for our discussions, but from the beginning people it was clear that people were interested in talking, sharing, and getting to know one another.

The opening ritual on Friday evening allowed everyone an opportunity to introduce themselves and to reveal a little about their hearth cultures and interests. This provided a natural transition into our Friday night retreat topic: hospitality and gifting within our various traditions.

Saturday began with fruit, homemade crepes, and coffee (but not biscuits, alas!) We spent the day exploring consent culture and healthy boundaries in the pagan community, enjoying a demonstration of weaving techniques on an inkle loom, and discussing personal devotional practices.

Main Ritual

Our main ritual on Saturday afternoon took place in the Oak Grove, a dedicated ritual space in the woods behind the lodge. Our presiders were Amy and Drum, and the ritual was designed and organized by Dale. Mary served as our diviner and other members lent their assistance to help make our Indo-European hearth rite a success.

 

What Else?

After our ritual, the community enjoyed a pot-luck feast and the company of their fellow druids. The iron stove kept us warm inside the lodge, while a bonfire outside gave us an additional opportunity for fellowship with each other and the staff of Deeply Rooted Church.

 

 

 

The Reading That Told Me It Was Time to Quit My Job

A few months ago, I realized that it was probably time for me to make a career move. I’d been working for a software company in B2B sales, but I was not happy. The money was pretty good, but the work…well, it was miserable.

I won’t go too far into the specifics, but I’d decided that for the purpose of my own health, I had to make a change. But when? That was a critical question. Like everyone else, I have bills to pay and can’t rely on anyone else to help me out. So I kept putting the decision off. Maybe next month. Maybe at the end of the summer. 

In the meantime, I was having to force myself out of bed every morning. I hated going to my cubicle and I hated what I did all day, every day. I’d recently started delving back in to studying the tarot and kept a deck at my desk. I’d gotten into the habit of doing a quick reading each morning before things got underway. It was a nice way to get things going and keep myself focused on my tarot practice.

So here I was, going through the motions and trying not to lose my mind. I wanted to look for other work, but my position kept me busy for about 60 hours a week, plus I was teaching as an adjunct on the side. I had neither the time nor energy to look for other opportunities. I was stuck.

One evening, after a particularly heinous day, I decided to do some meditation to try and relax a bit. I’d recently started using tarot as an entry point into my meditation practice by drawing a single card and mentally focusing on its symbolism and significance for a few moments before transitioning into mindfulness.

On this particular night, I’d taken a hot bath and was in a good place for some meditation. I started to draw a single card, but on a whim pulled three for a simple reading of the kind Robert M. Place describes as a “Three Card Message” in his book Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination. 2005, Penguin.

In this simple spread, three cards are drawn but no immediate value or significance is assigned to any aspect of the cards. In other words, even the position of the cards is up for interpretation. Instead, Place suggests that there are six possible patterns. I won’t delve into all of them here (buy his book–it’s worth it) so I’ll just focus on what I saw in the reading.

Here goes:

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In my reading, the first thing I noticed was that the character of the central card, the Four of Pentacles, was facing outward. Looking directly at me, as a matter of fact. As I read this card, two meanings emerge. First, this card signified my situation and I’d go so far as to say even myself. The Four of Pentacles can indicate someone who is focused too closely on money or material possession. Voila! I was continuing to work a job I hated out of fear for what it might mean for my financial situation. This character is surrounded by thoughts of money and security: beneath his feet, on his lap, and above his head are pentacles. Pretty accurate so far. 

Up next: the Ten of Cups. A couple of things jumped out at me immediately. First, while the figure in the Four of Pentacles stands in front of an urban landscape, the family (not an individual, but a group of people) are looking out over what appears to be a rural setting. This caught my eye because I’ve also been considering relocating out of the downtown urban area where I live for someplace that offers a little more peace and quiet.

The Ten of Cups is often read as a good omen, as the materialization of joy, contentment, or desire. In other words, good things. In any case, it looks like the folks on this card are happy, healthy, and having a good time. That’s all I really want! 

On the other hand, the Ten of Cups is contrasted by the third card in the spread, The Devil. As I understand this card, it represents some pretty negative experiences: unhappiness, loss of freedom (enslavement?), and general bad news. Don’t want any of that, thanks! 

My takeaway from this reading was that my situation was a choice between continuing what I’d been doing and remaining unhappy, or taking a chance at something new. I had delayed making that choice out of fear and a (not entirely unreasonable) preoccupation with my financial resources.

Ok, ok. So I knew that this was the situation before I ever did this card reading. I knew it in my blood and my bones. But the reading gave me an opportunity to reflect on my dilemma, my choice, and the two possible outcomes in a different way.

I’m not a person who operates entirely on caprice, so I made sure my savings were at a comfortable level, I checked to make sure I could afford to keep my health insurance, and refreshed my resume. Then I quit my job.