1) Describe your discipline practice as an ADF Priest. Explain what you have learned from this practice, describe how your connection with the Court of the Sky has grown and changed over the time you have worked with them, and reflect on your journals and omens over the period. (min. 600 words)
In the past year, my discipline has continued on the same trajectory that it has been on for many years. On my grove based spiritual work, I have continued to work as the grove priest. I have continued to be the person that runs the rituals, and works with the members to increase their ritual abilities. This is of course not something that can be done by ones self, and I've had the fortune of my SD, Gretchen, helping immensely. We have gained new members, and will be running our grove vigil after the next high day to induct them as full members of the grove.
As part of my grove work, I have brought in some of my personal trance work towards an ADF Seidhr practice. This culminated with our Yule ritual including seidhr work. As with whenever one does oracular trance work, there is trepidation that you won't get an answer, or in the case of asking questions of specific ancestors, not finding the right ancestor. The training that I got from Diana Paxon and the work I've been doing to get myself set for this all payed off, and I was able to successfully do the work for about 6 people. More on that work in my future Trance 2 submission.
As for my personal spiritual work, I have maintained doing periodic personal blessing rituals. I have found that doing these rituals on an artificial schedule (e.g. weekly) comes across as disingenuous. So, for the last year I have been doing these rites as needed, not on a schedule, has worked much better for me. What this has done though is increase the number of small prayers I do on a regular basis. Most of these are prayers of thanks, but sometimes they are prayers asking for help, and that usually ends up causing the need for the rituals.
I have also continued my work with the Ancient Wise and the mound journies. As I have been doing for a while now, I don't do these on the Monday after the new moon. That schedule just does not work for me for many reasons, the biggest being that when I get home from work, especially on Mondays, I am exhausted and in no place to do any kind of trance work. What I do instead though is as part of my grounding/centering in ritual prep, I do the trance journey then. In cases of personal ritual, this has occasionally replaced the ritual I was going to do as what I needed was found there. In the case of grove rituals, it has given me what I needed to do the ritual we were doing. The best example of this is our Summer Solstice this year. During this ritual, we had uninvited disturbances in the form of a Christian disrupting our ritual. The strength I got from doing the trance work at the start of the ritual helped me deal with the disruption.
The court of the sky is a completely different situation though. I have tried to connect to the court of the sky through various trance works since it was first thought of at the clergy retreat many years ago. At that retreat, I had absolutely no connection to them. I've attempted to make a connection to them many times since, and every time I try, I again get no connection and no signs I can find that they even exist for me. I do have connections to Mani and Sunna, so it is not like I don't have connections to celestial beings, but I have been unable to get a connection to the court of the sky though. I believe that this is likely due to my having a strong chthonic connection. This may be preventing me from forming connections to the court of the sky. The other aspect of that though is that it has aided me with my seidhr work as that tends to deal with the underworld.