This past weekend I finally threw my Dedication to Freya feast. I had dedicated to her privately about a month or so earlier; so this, like a wedding reception, was primarily for the guests–my community. It was held at a gorgeous private picnic site at a local park, and we were blessed with perfect mid-70s sunny weather. Almost 20 people attended; while this is no means my entire community, it was a good chunk of the people who I will either be working with as fellow priests or the people whom I will be serving. At my goddess’ mandate, I had far too much food: mustard & five spice pulled pork; chicken apple sausages; egg frittata; guac, spinach dip, crackers (GF and regular), chips, roasted nuts, salad; cheesecake, white cake, candied fruits, chocolate; apple cider, sparkling fruit juice, beer, Coke; and, for our blot, community-brewed pomegranate melomel. Yes, it was a tad too much food, but I had invited over 25 people and I was a tad paranoid about not having enough to feed everyone. (Luckily, most of the leftovers will keep for a while, and I will have enough food to bring to potlucks for months.)
Also at my Goddess’ request, I let guests know that gifts would be appropriate (but not expected) as with a graduation ceremony, and that they should expect to donate $5-10 to help cover the cost of the food and the space. I was overwhelmed on both counts. I honestly hadn’t thought that many people would bring gifts, but pretty much everyone did, and I got some pretty nifty things, if I do say so myself. Even my parents, who are nominally Christians and are still considering this whole Heathenism thing a phase (a fifteen+ year phase, at this point; but still a phase), sent me a gift. I guess I was not the only one who was taking this life change seriously. It was both a pleasant surprise and a relief.
In many Heathen groups, there’s no standardized hierarchy to climb, no degrees to earn (unless you consider academic degrees), no standardized initiations to participate in, no official path to follow. That’s one of the many things that separates us from Wiccan groups. Which leaves the question of “Who is qualified to be a priest/ess (gothi/gythia)?” kind of up in the air. Who is qualified to be a priest/ess? The joke when I first started hanging out with Heathens in the late 90s was that, if you stood up in front of your community and said that you were a priestess, and no one told to sit back down, well, then, you were a priestess! My Dedication ceremony wasn’t that simple, but essentially, that’s what I did. I gathered as much of my pagan community as I could on a Sunday afternoon, fed them well, told them I was a priestess, shared my vows, and hoped they accepted it.
(Don’t worry–they did.)
Granted, I put in quite a bit of time, both spiritually and socially, preparing for this event. I had been tapped by my Goddess back in October of 2013 to visit and get things started. Or, as she put it, “You are VERY WELCOME in Vanaheim. Please visit SOON.” Subtlety, thy name is Freya. One of the local heathen groups had been going through a series of journeys to the Nine Worlds, and in October (or possibly September?) of 2013 we visited Vanaheim, and I got a chance to talk with her directly. She requested that I visit her every day for two weeks. It seemed pretty innocuous, so I agreed to it without giving it a lot of thought. However, this kicked off a long, intense series of events, experiences, conversations, activities, and new friends and spiritual groups, which culminated in me officially dedicating myself to her in March of this year. I’m not saying that’s how it will happen with every priestess or Freyasperson, but it’s how it happened with me. (Word to the wise, though–careful what you agree to in journeyspace.)
In any event, after my private Dedication to her, I did another series of journeys to talk about how this whole Dedication Feast thing should go. She had a few things that really mattered to her–that there be: tons of food; many members of the community attending; the giving of what turned out to be arm-rings (more on that in another post); guests giving gifts and helping to pay for the feast; seidh or some other kind of divination happening. (Surprisingly, she could care less about where it was held or whether I read any version of my vows at the Feast; who knew?) I did read the group a version of my vows to her, and also stated what I would do for my community and what I expected from them in return. Nobody told me to sit back down, so I’m thinking it all went over pretty well.
I was also given quite a bit of love, compliments, and advice during the second round of horn passing (the first round was to honor Freya herself; the second was to honor me as a new priestess). I received a lot of compliments from the community–which I now have to live up to–and several words of advice from those who have already been walking the priest/ess path for a while. One of my favorite compliments, actually, was from a friend who is a Wiccan High Priest; he said that I was already walking this path, and walking it well. It’s good to know that my efforts have been noticed, even in the larger Modern Pagan community in this area.
All in all, it was a successful event and everything that I (and my Goddess) had set out to do was accomplished.