Wisdom as a Virtue

“Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”

by Miles Kington

There is a component of wisdom that is about understanding the best response in a given situation. It’s also about knowing the best way to engage with a situation. The quote above neglects to realize that there are recipes for fruit salad that include tomatoes. 

Wisdom is more than common sense. It’s also an awareness of self and of the situation. The quote above shares that it takes knowledge to know that a tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegetable. (It has to do with the part of the plant that grows to create the tomato.) However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t put a tomato in a fruit salad – you just have to consider what makes sense.

Most people consider tomatoes to be a vegetable, and they are mostly used in savory applications. But just because a tomato is usually savory doesn’t mean that it can’t also be in something sweet. We see chocolate used in savory dishes when it usually used in sweet dishes, so why not tomatoes in sweet recipes?  

Looking at wisdom as a virtue drives us to understand ourselves better. It also encourages us toward critical thinking and discernment. Wisdom helps us to navigate the world and helps us to avoid making poor choices.

So grab that tomato, and decide what you want to do with it.

Minimalist Ritual

I often hear that ADF style rituals are complicated or too hard. I wrote this very basic, minimalist ritual to demonstrate how you can do a quick Core Order of Ritual rite almost anywhere.

If you’re interested in seeing how this breaks down, I’ve mapped it to the Hearthkeepers organization of the Core Order of Ritual which combines a few of the steps into one in some cases to make it a bit easier to understand.

A single candle on my altar
A single candle is all you need for this ritual

Needed for the Ritual:

  • Candle or other symbol of fire. Electric candles work well if you’re in a space where an open flame isn’t a good idea or not allowed. A red rock or other symbol of fire also works.
  • A cup of water or another drinkable beverage.  You’ll need about a ½ cup.  I’ve used tea, water, and wine equally well for this.
  • A bell (phone apps work well as substitutes if you don’t have a bell)
  • Divination tool (Check out the various phone apps or the Nine x Nine divination set on the ADF Website if you don’t have something to use)

Some notes:

  • You are invited to replace the more generic titles, such as Gatekeeper, with names of the specific deities or beings that you work with in those roles.
  • I called Cerridwen as my Being of the Occasion as she is the one I wished to worship in this rite. You are welcome to call to any Spirit or Deity that makes sense for your ritual.I was going for the ultra-minimalist ritual here, so a lot of this is done in your head. 
  • Please note that ALL of this can be done in your head to varying degrees of results.  I recommend at least having a symbol of fire and pouring out offerings of water
  • I have included the optional step of calling to Inspiration, but I did not do the, optional, Outsider component as I did this ritual at my shrine.
  • Stage directions are in curly brackets “{ }” everything else is spoken aloud

The Ritual

I pray to the Kindreds, may you Bless me as I do you Honor.

{light your candle or touch your fire symbol as you say the following}

Kindled from the Great Flame, kept by prudent skill,
join with our common Hearth, that these flames be one.

{ring a bell three times and feel the sound clear the space}

Earth Mother, may you join my rite and lend your Blessings.
Inspiration, may you join my rite and lend your Blessings.
Allies of my Hearth, may you join my rite and lend your Blessings.

We come before you to thank you for your Blessings.

Between Order and Chaos, I stand at the center of the Worlds.
Gatekeeper, I call to you to aid our work and guard the Ways between.

{in your mind’s eye, see your hallows – Well, Fire, and Tree. Feel their textures and hear the sounds.}

As the Fire opens as a gate, as the Well opens as a gate, as the Tree opens as a gate, so the GATES ARE OPEN!
I call to the Kindreds, Ancestors, Noble Ones, Shining ones, may you join my rite and lend Your Blessings.
Cerridwen, Creatrix of Awen, I call to you. May you join my rite and lend Your Blessings.
Cerridwen, Great Goddess, to you I do honor. May you accept this sacrifice as a token of my devotion.

{make an offering of water}

To all the Kindreds here, to you I do honor. May you accept this sacrifice as a token of my respect.

{make an offering of water}

May the Kindreds share Their Wisdom with me.

{take an omen}

{touch or hold up the water}

Mighty Kindreds, you have shared your Wisdom with me, and I ask that you share your Blessings. May you bless this water as you bless me.


My thanks to you Lady Cerridwen, for your aid in this rite.
My thanks to you, Ancestors, Noble Ones, Shining Ones, for your aid in this rite.
Gatekeeper, I ask your aid one more time.

As the Fire becomes flame, the Well becomes Water, and the Tree becomes as a tree again. So, the gates are CLOSED.

My thanks to you, Gatekeeper, for guarding the Ways and lending your aid.

My thanks to the Allies of my Hearth, for your aid in this rite.
My thanks to Inspiration, for your aid in this rite.
My thanks to the Earth Mother, who supports us always, for your aid in this rite.

This rite is ended.

Further Resources

Do You Really Need a Patron?

Cerridwen Statue on my altar
Cerridwen Statue on my altar

Admittedly, this is a bit of a hot button topic for me. In the Pagan world, I find a lot of people using the terms “Patron” or “Matron” to refer to a particular god or goddess that they are working closely with.

The traditional meaning of patron that I learned is an individual who is your supporter and protector. There’s a very deep level of relationship between the patron and the individual. When I’ve heard people use the word “Matron” in this context, they usually mean a female patron. There are individuals who have this depth of relationship with a god or goddess. Many of these individuals call themselves a priest or priestess of their god, but not all do.

In ADF, we often talk about finding your patron god as part of your journey, but do we really need one? Need? No.

Consider your relationships with the gods in the same light that you have relationships with people. Sometimes we have one really close friend, sometimes we have a couple of really close friends, and sometimes we have a lot of relatively close friends. And then we have all the other people with whom we have different levels of relationships.  The gods and goddess are similar to that. The exact nature of the relationship is a little different in how we interact, but there is a range of relationships from super close, BFFs, to individuals who you just casually wave from across the room. What relationships you have with the gods and goddess is up to you. The amount of effort you put into the relationships may affect the closeness, but like with humans, not every relationship works out perfectly.

Work on your relationships – with whatever beings you desire – and see what happens.

Daily devotions

Freya altar with runes (image by me)

As part of my spiritual practices, I spend time every day connecting with the Kindreds. Depending on what’s going on and the time of year, my methods change slightly.

During the winter – the rainy months – I tend to do devotionals all indoors. I have altars set up in my bedroom and in my craft room. Because I work with multiple Gods, Spirits and Ancestors, I will do devotionals to different beings on different days. I’m trying to keep to a weekly cycle – so Wednesday is Odin’s day, Friday is Freya’s day, etc … In addition to the gods that I work with, I also put time aside for my Ancestors and the spirits of the land.

My indoor devotions are pretty simple. I greet the Kindreds and call upon the particular being that I am doing a devotional for that day. I will make an offering for the being while talking about my relationship with that being. Offerings can include water, grains, herbs, incense, or sometimes something that I have created. Usually, I keep the items that take more time to create for when I’m doing a deeper working or when I’m asking for something specifically. I then thank the being and say goodbye.

When it’s not raining and is a relatively warm temperature outside, I will do devotionals to the tree and the plants in my patio container garden. In these cases, my offerings are usually water that has sat overnight in a copper cup. I use a small silver bowl to pour the water towards the tree or in my patio plants.

I think that it doesn’t matter how you view the god(s), spending time with the various spirits, beings, archetypes that you do believe in is a big part of deepening your spirituality.

I’d love to hear how you do your daily devotions.

It’s time for the Witches Yuletide Ball!

Greetings to you! If you’re joining us for the Witches Yuletide Ball, Welcome! If you’re not, please click on the Witches Ball image and check out the other wonderful witchy blogs that are joining us in this Ball!

Yule is a fantastic time of year. It’s a time when a lot of our community celebrates with us. Even if they’re not celebrating Yule, they’re often celebrating something! Pagans celebrate Yule, Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and on and on.  Most religions have something to celebrate around the time of the Winter Solstice.

The Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year, the shortest day and longest night.  Starting the very next day, the hours of daylight become longer as the Earth continues it’s swing around the Sun.  Many religions, including many Pagan religions, celebrate this time of year with the birth of a God, or the return of a God.

  • In Japan, Amaterasu returns from her seclusion and brings the Sun back with her.
  • The Norse believe that Freyr rides across the skies, bringing light and hope back to the world.
  • Hanukkah is a festival of lights, where Jews celebrate the miracle of the ever-burning lamp.
  • In Sweden, they celebrate Lucia, where a young woman is selected to play Lucia who chases away the winter and brings back the sun.
  • In Iranian mythology, Mithra was born on the Winter Solstice at the end of a war between the light and the dark.
  • Many modern pagans follow the cycle of the Oak King and the Holly King, where the two aspects of the Horned God do battle throughout the year in reflection of the changing of the balance between light and dark.
  • Christians celebrate the birth of their savior, Jesus

In almost every case, the season is celebrated with parties, drinking, eating, friendship and gift giving. This is a great time to connect with your neighbors and fellow pagans over a glass of something and a bit of something tasty!

To help your celebrations, here is a drink that is traditional for my family.  Enjoy!

Punch a Creme


    4 tins light Evaporated milk
    3 tins – Fat free Condensed milk
    4 eggs
    1 reg. size of white rum (I use Barcardi – but any decent rum will do)
    Angostura bitters to taste.
    Peel of 1 lime


* Beat eggs with lime peel in a mixer – until WELL mixed.
* Remove ALL lime rind, and add all other ingredients.
* You can serve jsut like this in a glass with over ice or mix in a blender with ice
* Sprinkle with fresh grated nutmeg and a cherry

Finding Nature in things

As part of the Dedicant’s Program for ADF, we are expected to connect to nature.  I’m an urban druid .. very much so!  I did inherit a rose bush with my current home and I’m going to try to keep that going, but a nature spot?

There is a park across the street, and that would be a possibility, but much of what I do is to get my urban-ness to work with my pagan-ness.  Which makes me think that maybe sitting in a manicured park isn’t the way to go.  Maybe instead I should sit outside in my patio and work with the dirt there … and just maybe grow something.

These photos are of my current patio “garden”.  There’s three live plants that I inherited with the condo, and I’d like to put up some more.  I’ve got a rose plant, and a couple others that I’m not sure what they are, but I’d like to encourage them to grow.  I’m going to do a bit of research on what plants will grow well in containers and see if I can’t get a few more shrubs, some herbs, and maybe even something like Kale or similar.

On Compassion

Part of the ADF Dedicant’s program is essays on the discussion of virtues.  This is one of my essays.

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” (Dalai Lama)( 1)

Soldier's CompassionCompassion is defined as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it” (2).  In other descriptions, “Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy (for the suffering of others) are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.” (3)

To me, compassion comes from love, and thus from strength.  Some people consider compassion a weakness: something that can prevent you from making the hard decision or the tough choice.   But it’s not.  Compassion is what helps us to bring our humanity to conflict, to those hard decisions.  It allows us to see our fellows and our opponents as humans, to understand if there is a better resolution to a conflict, and to honor the sacrifice (ours or theirs) if one is necessarily.

Without compassion, it’s too easy to view the people on the other side of any conflict as objects, as things to be used, or to be converted.  But they’re just people.  People with their own needs, and wants, and desire for survival.  Understanding who they are, understanding their situation, and understanding their desires helps to bring out a better resolution for everyone.

Compassion does not mean doing anything to make people around you feel better.  Compassion sometimes means not helping them, so they will learn to stand on their feet.  Compassion also, sometimes, means understanding what help should be provided.  Doing a task for someone won’t help them learn to do that task better, but maybe they just need to not have to worry about it for a while.  Only through love and compassion can you really understand what is best.

There is also the other aspect to compassion.  In order to have compassion for those around us, it is necessary for us to have compassion for ourselves.  Each of us is human, none of us are perfect, and each of us have love to share.

One of the hardest things to do is to love ourselves.  That inner critical voice is harsh and hard to ignore.  While there is some benefit in recognizing that inner critic, we must also remember that sometimes we’re not going to be perfect … and that’s okay.  If our body isn’t perfect, our speech not exact, our skills not as grand as we desire, it’s okay.  It’s okay to forget sometimes, and to hurt, and be in pain.  Sometimes we just need to let ourselves experience, to feel, to understand that sometimes life isn’t great.  And to know, that we still love ourselves, we still understand, and we can get through it and feel better.

Compassion is also allowing ourselves to feel, to experience, and to be not perfect.

We say that we love others even with their faults … the harder part is, can we love ourselves, even with our faults?

A lack of compassion will tear us apart.  Through compassion, we can build something together.