There are many things I miss about the work we used to do as part of the Diana’s Grove Mystery School, but one of the things I looked forward to every year was dedicating to both an element and a deity. Generally, the element was one we chose (or were chosen by) in the spring. We would spend several months really getting to know Air, Fire, Water, or Earth – knowing that by deepening a relationship with one, we would ultimately deepen our relationship with all of them. I loved it.

After we chose an element, the next month was about dedicating to a deity. This was arguably one of the best parts of my Mystery School year for me. Being an eclectic tradition where you could as easily find yourself standing next to an atheist or secular humanist as you could a Pagan, deity dedications in Mystery School were always a little tricky to make inclusive. We expanded the idea of “deity” to also include “archetypes” or “qualities.” A Pagan deist like me might dedicate to Aphrodite while the agnostic across the circle dedicated to a character from Star Trek who represented values they wanted to bring into their lives. (Inclusive traditions are awesome.) I loved this practice of dedicating to a quality I wanted to embrace, an archetype I wanted to explore, or a relationship I wanted to form with a particular aspect of Mystery.

I’m usually not one for new year’s resolutions, but this year I’m setting an intention to rekindle that dedication practice. It often surprised me how something so simple could have such a large impact on my day-to-day life. So here I am once again, standing at the altar and preparing to dedicate myself to a relationship with Earth and strengthen my dedication to Artemis.

When I think about the personal work that I want to focus on in the coming year, it all fits in nicely with my personal associations with Earth. I want to strengthen and bring my body back to health after a challenging year dealing with medical issues. I want to have a healthier relationship to money. I want to eat better. I want to find more opportunities to be in the natural world. I have plenty of ideas of how to do it, from taking up weight-lifting to following through on my plans for a container garden on my back deck.

Artemis and I go way back, so this is more of a re-dedication than anything else. Right now, however, I need her lessons about cycles, stillness, heightened awareness, connection to the wild, not to mention physical strength and agility. Our relationship goes even deeper than these attributes, but this is what I want her help with right now. I’m aching to reopen those parts of my soul.

While so much of my dedication practice in the past had an internal focus, this time I want to expand that practice to an external one as well, particularly in light of the discussions we’ve been having both here on the Expanding Inward blog and at our recent weekend intensive with Pandora. If one of Earth’s aspects is stillness, then I want to be still and listen. I want to be able to hold space for difficult conversations and challenging social dynamics, be that issues of societal privilege or setting boundaries with a loved one. If being in touch with my body and athleticism is part of my relationship with Artemis, then I want to be able to have more open and public conversations about subjects like fat-shaming and body acceptance. It’s one thing to bring the work in, it’s another thing entirely to take the work out. Now, more than ever, I feel it’s important for me to commit to doing both personal and global work.

If you care to join me in a dedication this year, I would absolutely love to hear about your intention and your experiences. What are you pledging? Where will you focus? What do you hope to gain from your practice? What about this process speaks to you? I am very curious to hear from you, if you’re at all called to share.

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6 thoughts on “Dedication

  1. Jo December 31, 2014

    I have been toying with the idea of a dedication to Narcissus — trying to figure out what that might look like. He’s not one of the gods that has been given a ton of positive spin already, but maybe he’s due for some.

    Loving myself, accepting myself. Julia Cameron talks about “artist dates”, where you set aside special time to create delight for your inner artist — what would it be like to date myself? Do dress every day as if it was a special occasion? Where I paid attention to the colors and patterns that I like, and wore them as a special gift? Where I paid attention and noticed what I liked and don’t like, what suits me and what doesn’t? Where I spoke my love languages to myself — gifts, and acts of service, and words of affirmation and value.

    Sounds … a little dorky. A lot self-centered. Kind of exhausting, frankly. And boy, those kind of sound like excuses.

    Not committing to anything yet. But … contemplating.

    • River Roberts December 31, 2014

      I love the idea of dedicating to gods/mythological figures that get a bad rap. Narcissus doesn’t tell his own story. We only hear it through an observer. It would be interesting to see his take on falling in love. I love your dedication idea, and it sounds like something manageable. (Small, workable steps that build up over time rather than one grandiose act tend to work best for me with dedication practices.) Good luck! If you take it on, I’d love to hear about it more.

  2. Jason Frey December 31, 2014

    I’ve been thinking about making 2015 an Earth year, myself. As someone who doesn’t have deep personal relationships with deity, I find it easier to connect to an elemental dedication instead. Earth is probably the element that I spend the most time AVOIDING, so it seems appropriate to spend some time embracing that which I so often ignore.

    For me, this will likely be about setting some repeatable patterns related to food, money, physical activity and connecting to the world around me. I’ve done this before, of course – I’ve said that I want to be stronger, save some money, connect with the natural world. This time around, I’m really focusing on specifics of what I’ll do. I’ve even created a private calendar for my dedication, and I’ll be scheduling regular check-ins with myself to review how it’s going. This approach sounds a little more like a corporate performance review than I’m really comfortable with, but I’ll do my best to avoid using words like “leverage” and “synergy” along the way.

    • River Roberts December 31, 2014

      If there ever was an element that would go well with a corporate performance review, it’s Earth. Or maybe, Air… but whatever. I still love the idea. 🙂

      Having some measure of accountability is really good for me, as well. The calendar idea is a great one – and setting up regular check-ins with yourself or someone else is a really nice way to keep things on track. All wonderful ideas. (Some of which I might be stealing.) Thanks, Jason!

  3. Epiphany Paris January 1, 2015

    Thanks for this post! I have been spending some time contemplating these questions.

    For an element dedication, my first instinct was fire (as I’m about to enter grad school for cinema production, which is going to be a lot of fire and passion blazing), but the fire itself tends to come easy for me. What is challenging for me is the container for the fire, the fire pit or the rock that holds the flame. Something I’ve learned in the last couple years is that the best way to tend my fire is to focus on my Earth. When I make my physical surroundings beautiful and take care of my body, my fire feels safe and grounded and can burn more steadily while still allowing me breathing room to take care of other aspects of my life as well. So, I’d like to dedicate to Earth, and specifically the ways that Earth supports Fire.

    I hope you don’t feel like I’m being a copycat, River, but I also feel really called to Artemis. It could partly be because you got me thinking about her, but since I started thinking about her, I couldn’t stop. This image in particular has really, really resonated with me for years:

    I love the tension in her arms that reflects the tension in the bow. The quiet waitfulness. The sense of sureness, confidence, vision. Her eyes, like hawk’s eyes, focus forward with an intensity of pure intention that I can feel thrumming through my body when I look at this. Her comfort in her body, her strength and prowess. Her connection and communication with nature and her sense of one-ness within herself. All of these qualities that I feel like I see in this picture are all qualities that I am ready to cultivate in myself.

    Thank you, again, for this opportunity to reflect in this way and share our reflections with others! It is such a thrill to have such great opportunities (both through this blog and through the events) to align my spiritual self with my LIVING LIFE actions.

    Blessed be!

  4. River Roberts January 1, 2015

    I don’t think you’re being a copycat at all. Artemis is absolutely wonderful, and I have enjoyed a deep and impactful relationship with her for years. I hope that your experience with her is a powerful one, and I’d love to hear more about it after you’ve had a chance to work with her for a while. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck with your dedications!


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