Autumn Equinox

I’ve already posted an overview of my experience at Sweetwood Temenos here. But for the purposes of my Dedicant Program, here’s a review of our ritual.

The community and rituals at Sweetwood are based in the Church of All Worlds tradition, and although I know a thing or two about CAW, this was the first time I’ve attended an event in this style.

The ritual structure was similar to what I’ve encountered at Wiccan events. We were purified by smudging and anointing before entering the circle. It is at this point that I had my only moment of awkwardness: after being smudged with sage, I stood before a young man who anointed my forehead with oil and said, “thou are god.”

I’ve been to a lot of pagan rituals over the years, but this is the first time that these words have been said to me. Not being used to the greeting, I did not know how to respond. I simply smiled and said, “thank you.” The anointer was definitely not expecting that, lol!

I didn’t know what else to say. In my own practice, not only is such a phrase not used (within the context of ADF or as a solitary) but as a Hellenic Druid there is quite a mythological history of NOT equating oneself with the gods. It never ends well. But I know (I think) that this isn’t exactly what the greeting was meant to convey, so I just politely said thanks and continued to enjoy the ceremony. Plurality and adaptability are essential pagan qualities, if you ask me.

After our purification and entrance, we had a bit of drumming and music. We were lead by a priest and priestess who talked about the agricultural cycle, but their main point of focus was on solar and lunar deities. In the tradition of this particular group, the priest and priestess are untethered from gender-assigned mythological roles. In other words, they preferred not to think of the sun as masculine and the moon as feminine, but instead traded roles each year. (At this particular time, the priest was connecting with lunar energy, while the priestess was in tune with solar deities.)

The group conducted an energy raising exercise, shared a communal cup of wine, and closed the ceremony with drumming and dancing. Most of the participants were camping, so the drumming and fellowship lasted late into the evening.


My Indo-European ancestry

For many Druids and other Neopagans, ancestry is a focal point of their spiritual practice and one that determines the tradition or culture in which he or she practices. They feel a direct connection to their ancestors and try to honor their ways as best they can.

My experience has been quite different. My family did not preserve records of our past, and information about my heritage beyond three or four generations was difficult to obtain. This is due in part to illiteracy, poverty, and unreliable record keeping up through the beginning of the 20th century. My people had no family bibles to call upon, no important historical figures to which our name was tied, and no close relatives in another country to help keep our past alive.

To illustrate, I have copies of my third great grandfather’s enlistment and discharge papers from the Confederate Army. He was a wheelwright by trade, but a sharecropper in reality. He was illiterate and could not sign his own name, so the land owner to whom he was in debt had to sign for him. My grandfather simply marked an “X” for his signature. I believe my grandfather needed his landlord’s permission because he was in debt to him. Unconfirmed, but I’d place a wager on it.

So when people are not creating their own written records, the past gets lost. I have long suspected, based on the surnames present in our family tree, that my family was predominantly Western European, with an emphasis on the British Isles. So I did one of those DNA tests, and…


The test confirmed my suspicion that much of my family originated in the British Isles. About half of my DNA is common in Ireland, Britain, and Wales. But the other half, well there were some surprises there.

The remaining half of my DNA comes from across Europe and Western Asia. I have genetic connections to Finland, Greece, Eastern Europe, and Turkey.

In short, I’m a Euro mutt.