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Author Topic: Dedications, Professions, Oaths, Oh My!  (Read 16320 times)
Hyacinth Belle
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« Topic Start: December 28, 2009, 07:14:44 pm »

This was inspired in part by the Jump Starting Your Faith? thread, but thought it worthy of a new discussion. There is also a similar, excellent thread here from a few years ago. I don't claim to have read it all yet, but it seems a bit different than what I'm thinking here...

  • If you have dedicated yourself (professed, sworn an oath, et. al.), how did you know you were ready?
  • More specifically, I'm somewhat interested in if anyone has dedicated to a specific path or religion, rather than a specific god/dess as appears more common on TC. (I'm thinking more like an Asatru profession or Christian confirmation.) How did you come to that decision? If you like, feel free to share what you did or what that entailed.
  • Alternately, if you have NOT professed or dedicated yourself, why not? Do you think you would in the future, why or why not?

I'm curious because I don't think I am, and haven't really ever thought I was, currently in a state to dedicate myself to a patron deity. I just have a hunch like that's not something I would do. And there is lots of other discussion around here about doing that. On the other hand, I could see myself professing or making an oath with Asatru or the Aesir and Vanir more generally. I'm also interested in how people make such a decision, how you knew it was time.

Don't hesitate to add anything else, of course. Thanks in advance!
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15

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« Reply #1: December 28, 2009, 09:11:48 pm »

  • If you have dedicated yourself (professed, sworn an oath, et. al.), how did you know you were ready?

This may not be exactly the type of answer you were looking for, but I dedicated myself to a certain way of life as opposed to a certain religion. I admit it did have spiritual connotations, but it was much more a path/journey I dedicated myself to as opposed to a certain religion.

I did this at a pretty young age and I did it because at that time it seemed a crucial thing to do to, quite simply, in order to help me feel worth something. And so I dedicated myself to the path of a seeker, in particularly a seeker of knowledge and understanding, but it was also a path of one who will think about the actions they take and to try to step lightly upon the earth. I also dedicated myself to honouring my God with my deeds as best as I could. In one way I suppose this is somewhat like a dedication to a deity, although this was not the focal point.

Considering I was so young when I did it I sometimes read over the ritual in the journal I kept and laugh at all of my hyperbole and pomp. However, the key aspects of my dedication still hold true to me today and so I'm not upset that I did it. In fact in a lot of ways it seems like quite an important turning point in my life.


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« Reply #2: December 28, 2009, 11:34:38 pm »


As I posted in the thread you link (not the Jumpstarting one, but the older one by Moon Ivy) I did do what I considered a formal dedication to Brighid and Lugh. An Mhorrigan wasn't so much a formal dedication as her saying "You're Mine." The others that I work with, I either have a very informal relationship with, or I'm just laying down the groundwork to see if a relationship would work out. As far as my two intentional dedications, I don't know that I ever thought about being ready, really. It wasn't something that crossed my mind. I admit that I feel a certain disconnect now, though- not from my gods, but from the ritual dedication. I'm not sure why. Possibly because I was working in a decidedly Wiccan context despite it feeling off at the time? I don't know.

The idea of dedicating oneself to a path, as opposed to deity or community, just doesn't click in my head. I certainly believe that it could work for others, but it's not something that would work for me, I don't think. I suppose because I see a dedication as a specific kind of oath, and an oath is something made between two parties, and how can a path function as a party? I'm not sure I'm being clear here- I've been ill on top of my normal coherency issues, so just poke me if I'm talking in circles instead of making any sense.

After a lot of consideration I've decided that I'll be making an oath on the First Day (one of my holydays) that will be embodied in a piece of jewelry to wear daily; the oath will basically be a promise to myself and my gods on what I'm going to do with myself for the next year. I haven't actually written the oath yet, as decongestants have the wonderful ability to shut down my brain, but I've decided it's time. I have floated along, doing very little by way of practice, with no real commitments; I know I, and I have a very strong feeling my gods, are ready for a change.
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« Reply #3: December 29, 2009, 07:55:04 am »

  • If you have dedicated yourself (professed, sworn an oath, et. al.), how did you know you were ready?
  • More specifically, I'm somewhat interested in if anyone has dedicated to a specific path or religion, rather than a specific god/dess as appears more common on TC. (I'm thinking more like an Asatru profession or Christian confirmation.) How did you come to that decision? If you like, feel free to share what you did or what that entailed.
  • Alternately, if you have NOT professed or dedicated yourself, why not? Do you think you would in the future, why or why not?

I would say that I'm reasonably dedicated to the path I've chosen, but I haven't made formal profession of that.  (Dedication to deity, that's different, but not what you're looking for here.)  That's partly because I look at "reconstructionism" less as a religion in and of itself, and more as an approach to religion, so there isn't a group I'm claiming membership in or anything.  That means there's less reason to go through a formal dedication; I know where I'm going, the Gods know it, and that's what's necessary.  There isn't any commitment to other people that needs to be made, nor does a declaration of what is seem necessary.  In addition, I'm not really aware of any particular dedication ceremony required by Hellenic reconstructionism itself, so...  I just don't see the need.  ::shrug::
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« Reply #4: December 29, 2009, 08:00:31 am »

The idea of dedicating oneself to a path, as opposed to deity or community, just doesn't click in my head. I certainly believe that it could work for others, but it's not something that would work for me, I don't think. I suppose because I see a dedication as a specific kind of oath, and an oath is something made between two parties, and how can a path function as a party?

I think in that sense if I were dedicating to a path I'd see it as an oath shared with the community associated with that path.  I could also, though, see dedicating oneself to a path in the sense of simply making a commitment (to oneself, I suppose, and/or the Gods) that this is the way religious life is going to be now.  Less an oath shared with others than a declaration of "this is where I am going now".  Think of it as dedication to a task, maybe, in the sense of being the quality of being committed to and focused on that task, rather than as an oath shared with others?
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« Reply #5: December 29, 2009, 09:23:06 am »


  • If you have dedicated yourself (professed, sworn an oath, et. al.), how did you know you were ready?
  • More specifically, I'm somewhat interested in if anyone has dedicated to a specific path or religion, rather than a specific god/dess as appears more common on TC. (I'm thinking more like an Asatru profession or Christian confirmation.) How did you come to that decision? If you like, feel free to share what you did or what that entailed.
  • Alternately, if you have NOT professed or dedicated yourself, why not? Do you think you would in the future, why or why not?

Going to ramble here, probably.

When I first started exploring Wicca, I wanted to dedicate myself, because I was so enthusiastic that I was willing to pretty much do anything.  See, learn from this, lol.  Control your passions Wink  Looking back now, I probably shouldn't have went ahead with the dedication, because it really wasn't anything special.  I was ill-prepared and was constantly worried (f'ex, will the cat drink out of my water goblet; will my mother catch me and wonder what in heck I'm doing...), so I don't feel like "it took".  Nowadays, I actually seriously think and weight the options before jumping into something.  I don't want to say, "I will" if it is completely wrong for me.  Jumping into things half-assed is never a good idea and making vows you can't keep does not look favorable to the Divine.  I don't want to be stuck in something.  This time is different, though.  I have given this some serious though and I am willing to do the Work set before me.  I choose to dedicate myself to creating my Tradition, to give it a name and life--maybe teach others, who knows?  I am dedicating myself to the Deities in my life, to do Their work as best as I can (though the Trad and the Work seem to collide at times).  I understand that this is a marriage and that I am committed to Them as long as we need each other.  How do I know I am ready?  Because I still want to do this six months later Smiley

I hope I answered your questions somewhere in that rant. Smiley
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« Reply #6: December 29, 2009, 10:43:16 am »

  • Alternately, if you have NOT professed or dedicated yourself, why not? Do you think you would in the future, why or why not?

I have not dedicated myself. I thought about it lots of times, but I think I'm not ready. Why? Because I still live at my parents house, and I have little to no privacy. I can't even light a candle without someone to come and ask what am I doing. Also, right now I'm going through a time of changes, most of the gods I used to work with are not around anymore (at least for now), and I think someone else is coming (but I'm still trying to find out who s/he is).

I was about to dedicate myself to Odin last year... or was it the year before? Anyway, I really wanted to do it, but He didn't completely agree with me, so I didn't do it. And really, I wasn't ready, but I just wanted to do something "important", because I couldn't do much more than that. Not a good reason, and now I'm glad that I didn't do it.
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« Reply #7: December 29, 2009, 11:20:14 am »


  • If you have dedicated yourself (professed, sworn an oath, et. al.), how did you know you were ready?
  • More specifically, I'm somewhat interested in if anyone has dedicated to a specific path or religion, rather than a specific god/dess as appears more common on TC. (I'm thinking more like an Asatru profession or Christian confirmation.) How did you come to that decision? If you like, feel free to share what you did or what that entailed.

My trad initiations - and particularly my 3rd degree - are commitments to path, not to specific deities.

Some of it, naturally, was the people doing the initiation feeling I was ready, but with my 3rd in particular, one of my own requirements for myself was that I be in a position to keep those commitments, and that I'd sorted out other areas of my life so that I could continue to do that in the future.

For me, that meant:
- Finishing grad school first, because doing so would have a long-term impact on job stability, income, and other resources that would allow me a more stable base for that commitment to tradition.

- Recognising that it's going to limit some other choices (for example, I cannot see having a relationship partner ever again who doesn't deeply understand and value my commitment to the path: those promises come first in a lot of ways.)

I got separated/divorced right around my 2nd degree for a number of reasons, but I'm convinced that part of it was that my ex-husband simply wasn't able to be the kind of partner to someone with those religious commitments. (I'm not talking about 'sharing the tradition' though these days, that'd be my strong preference for a bunch of practical reasons, but simple stuff like picking up the slack if I was out helping in a crisis, being willing to share errands rather than leaving most of them to me, that kind of thing.)

- Getting other parts of my life in order (repaying debt, mostly marriage related, getting my living situation in a position where I could teach/priestess in a way that was reasonably sustainable.) In other words, getting my day to day life in line with the commitments I wanted to take on.

- Being really really sure, over a period of months that this particular commitment was what I both wanted and needed to do. If I couldn't sustain the desire for that commitment (and living as if I'd already made it) for a period of time, I wouldn't think I was ready for it. Both my 2nd and 3rd degrees had a period of nearly a year prior where I was consciously trying to live in accord with those commitments (taking on further responsibility, doing my best to learn skills that would be needed, etc.) first.

There was also an issue of timing: for my 3rd, I really wanted to spread out the 'initiatory experience of finishing grad school' and the 'initiatory experience of the 3rd degree' because both were pretty significant changes. (My 2nd, the separation, divorce, and 2nd degree were all tangled together: it worked out okay, but it was a really hard 2 years or so.) So we very deliberately separated them by about 4 months (August to late November) even though my initiators would have been fine with doing it earlier.
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« Reply #8: December 29, 2009, 11:31:19 am »

Think of it as dedication to a task, maybe, in the sense of being the quality of being committed to and focused on that task, rather than as an oath shared with others?

That makes sense, thanks.
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« Reply #9: December 29, 2009, 09:19:25 pm »

I could also, though, see dedicating oneself to a path in the sense of simply making a commitment (to oneself, I suppose, and/or the Gods) that this is the way religious life is going to be now.  Less an oath shared with others than a declaration of "this is where I am going now".  Think of it as dedication to a task, maybe, in the sense of being the quality of being committed to and focused on that task, rather than as an oath shared with others?

This makes a lot of sense to me, and it is how I viewed my dedication to my own spiritual path.
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« Reply #10: December 29, 2009, 09:30:06 pm »

Alternately, if you have NOT professed or dedicated yourself, why not? Do you think you would in the future, why or why not?

I was a dedicated Christian until I had an eye-opening experience. I was clinically dead for a period of time after a serious asthma attack. I remember the entire time very, very clearly. I was approached by Heimdall during that time. You could call it an instant religious 180. My involvement with paganism has deepened steadily ever since. I feel the need to dedicate myself in someway, but I am unsure how - and I also don't feel it's entirely necessary. Personally, I just think it would help me to feel more involved in my beliefs and practices.

What I'm curious about... for people who have no mass religion, or who practice alone, how have you dedicated yourself personally?
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« Reply #11: December 30, 2009, 07:30:44 pm »

I think in that sense if I were dedicating to a path I'd see it as an oath shared with the community associated with that path.  I could also, though, see dedicating oneself to a path in the sense of simply making a commitment (to oneself, I suppose, and/or the Gods) that this is the way religious life is going to be now.  Less an oath shared with others than a declaration of "this is where I am going now".  Think of it as dedication to a task, maybe, in the sense of being the quality of being committed to and focused on that task, rather than as an oath shared with others?
Yes, this is how I see it. If I were to make an oath, as a Heathen, I see it as a dedication to the pantheon as a whole instead of singling out a patron. Same idea as dedicating to a single deity, but with them all. And then of course committing oneself to the community and the religion itself, more or less leaving other religions/paths.

The idea of dedicating oneself to a path, as opposed to deity or community, just doesn't click in my head. I certainly believe that it could work for others, but it's not something that would work for me, I don't think. I suppose because I see a dedication as a specific kind of oath, and an oath is something made between two parties, and how can a path function as a party?
Some might disagree with me somewhat, but I'd see the parties as myself and the Aesir and the Vanir first and foremost. Committing to Asatru and its community sort of comes along with that then (although I'd imagine you could dedicate yourself to them without being an Asatruar, to play devil's advocate...).
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« Reply #12: December 30, 2009, 07:34:38 pm »

... I also dedicated myself to honouring my God with my deeds as best as I could. In one way I suppose this is somewhat like a dedication to a deity, although this was not the focal point.

Considering I was so young when I did it I sometimes read over the ritual in the journal I kept and laugh at all of my hyperbole and pomp. However, the key aspects of my dedication still hold true to me today and so I'm not upset that I did it. In fact in a lot of ways it seems like quite an important turning point in my life.
I did a similar dedication when I was very young. Although I sort of don't think I was "ready" enough for it to actually stick, for better or worse. It was all in a passion. But like you, I don't think the spirit of that dedication has ever really left me.
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #13: December 30, 2009, 07:41:54 pm »

When I first started exploring Wicca, I wanted to dedicate myself, because I was so enthusiastic that I was willing to pretty much do anything.  See, learn from this, lol.  Control your passions Wink  Looking back now, I probably shouldn't have went ahead with the dedication, because it really wasn't anything special.  I was ill-prepared and was constantly worried (f'ex, will the cat drink out of my water goblet; will my mother catch me and wonder what in heck I'm doing...), so I don't feel like "it took". 
haha. Made my previous post before seriously reading this, but this sounds pretty much like me too!

Quote
How do I know I am ready?  Because I still want to do this six months later Smiley
Yes, pure and simple time is a big deal. But there's got to be more to it than that, for me anyway. While I have been doing the pagan thing for a decent (I think?!) amount of time now, I've never felt like I had the time or resources to really do it the way I would like to do it or how I think I should do it. I guess that's just part of integrating life and religion, but I feel like I'm always wanting more or like I'm never doing enough. I always kind of feel like I'm scrambling, unsettled.

I guess, in short, I don't feel worthy. Or in other words, I don't feel "experienced enough" for any sort of meaningful dedication, not just an Asatru profession.

hmmm.... *mulling*
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #14: December 30, 2009, 09:53:39 pm »

I guess, in short, I don't feel worthy. Or in other words, I don't feel "experienced enough" for any sort of meaningful dedication, not just an Asatru profession.

I had an issue with worthiness for a while, too.  (Still do, sometimes.)  What I discovered was when I brought that issue up with Brighid, Her response was something like "Well, then BE worthy.  What's the problem?  What are you waiting for?"

Essentially, I think She was saying that "worthiness" is a choice, and I was copping out by claiming to not be worthy.  Whatever that means.

"Experienced enough" is a different thing, I think.  How will you know when you have enough experience?  And what kind of experience do you need to acquire?
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