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A Little Bit of Magic

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Want to share the joy and magic of jack-o-lanterns with a toddler? No need for knives. Just put some paper on the kitchen floor, strip your little one down to a diaper, and put some non-toxic paint on the paper. Finger paint your pumpkin!

Bee really enjoyed this. I helped her make a face, and she went free form for the rest. As she painted and laughed, I told her why we make jack-o-lanterns: to light the way for our visiting ancestors, to scare away naughty spirits, and to have a good time!

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Earth Mother’s Bones

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

Weretoad and I had another fun evening carving turnips, an old Irish Samhain tradition.  I carved a face because I’m old fashioned.  My husband, who is often more humorous than I am, couldn’t come up with any ideas, so he decided to label his vegetable.  Last year, I was given a pumpkin carving kit, and that made creating a face so much easier (I imagine it made Weretoad’s letters easier to carve as well)! As detailed in my tutorial last year, I hallowed the inside out with a sturdy metal spoon.  We added the innards to some roasted veggies.  Yum!

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My first jar of elderberry syrup. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

My little family is feeling under the weather, so I figured it was time to finally try my hand at making elderberry syrup. It’s an old herbal remedy to help prevent and cope with colds*. I followed Mountain Rose Herbs’ video recipe.  As the mixture simmered, the divine aroma of berries, cinnamon, ginger, and clove wafted through the home.  So not only can it help internally, but this simmering syrup will add a festive atmosphere to your abode when you may otherwise feel blah.  According to European folk tradition, elder has been used to ward off negative spirits.  So think of cooking it as a sort of spiritual fumigation.  Yet another way to create a purifying fragrance without the use of incense during the winter months?  Hmmm…

As for the syrup itself, it’s delicious.  A whole cup of local honey will do that!  Even my little Bee enjoys a teaspoon here and there…

*It is not meant to replace stronger medicines should the need arise.

Fast as an Oak Tree

When life gets busy, I tend to feel that my spirituality comes out of focus. Socializing, driving from place to place, and my day job all distract me from my studies. Being a mother and keeping my home is exhausting. So often, I find myself snuggled in a bathrobe, on the couch, watching something on Netflix.  When I log on to the internet, I see others in my tradition discussing the various ADF study programs that they’re working through, and I think of how long it’s taking me…  I’m about ready to give up on trance and magic for now.  I just can’t seem to adhere to a routine with my fussy toddler teething so frequently.  It can be really discouraging…

When I went into the forest to do my devotional on Sunday, I found myself dwelling on everything I wasn’t doing enough of: practicing meditation or trance, magical work, studying Irish, studying herbalism…  My ritual itself felt a little melancholy.  It was such a chilly, overcast day. All the lovely autumn colors from the last couple weeks had blown away. Ravens chuckled in the distance, reminding me at once of An Morrigan and her connection to death.  The veil is thin, Samhain is coming, and the natural world both dies and prepares for slumber.

Once inside, I gradually began to realize all the ways that I am living and growing spiritually.  I am doing my best to maintain a positive relationship with the Kindreds by giving offerings and saying prayers of gratitude.  I practice simple, practical forms of magic – folk magic, kitchen magic, basic shielding and grounding.  I may not be actively studying Irish each day, but I’m learning when I can.  I may not be reading as much as I used to, but I’m fitting that in when I can as well.  I’ve started to journal each Sunday afternoon, and my liturgy journal shows growth and reflection.  Most importantly, I’m sharing the joy of life’s most basic magic with my daughter.  We sing and dance to music, delight in simple stories, and enjoy expressing our creativity with art.  We explore nature together, and her complete awe in everything has awakened something deep inside me.  Lately, a majority of the books I read are my child’s.  We read them together – fiction and non-fiction, verse and prose.   She hears my prayers and sees me make offerings.

My Druidism is growing as fast as an oak, which is okay.  The experience of tending to my little acorn is just part of my journey.  It is teaching me to be patient and nurturing, and to reconnect to the world’s most primal and joyful magic.

I don’t normally reblog, but this post from John Beckett of “Under the Ancient Oaks: Musings of a Pagan, Druid, and Unitarian Universalist,” was just too good.  A friend and grovie sent it to me because she felt I am a Druid warrior.  That really made my day.  I’m definitely not a passive tree-hugger.  I do what I can to protect my tribe and the Earth Mother.

The Dark Side of Druidry.

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