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Ok, so this might not be authentically Druidic, but I really want to add more yoga to my life.  I find the blend of exercise, meditation, and focused breathing to be invigorating!  My life needs more of that.  It’s been a difficult winter, so making the 30+ minute drive to any yoga studio just feels daunting, especially on work nights when I want to spend time with my family.

So I had the bright idea of looking for some kid-friendly yoga videos so my daughter, who is an incredibly active toddler, could play along.  I really like Cosmic Kids videos I stumbled upon.  While not as relaxing and stereotypically spiritual as I like my yoga to be, it is very kid friendly.  Not only is it silly and active, but the story the instructor tells basically introduces children to guided meditation while encouraging kids to try various poses – traditional and playfully modern seeming.  Each session starts with the “secret yoga word” – namaste.  There’s also some emphasis on breathing and letting tension go – all in kid-friendly language.

I wasn’t sure whether or not the videos would capture Bee’s interest.  They don’t involve curious monkeys or trolly-riding tigers, but she seemed to enjoy following along with her mama.  That’s key here.  Children learn through play and imitation, and if they can do what their beloved parents are doing, they are tickled pink.  While she can’t do all the poses exactly, she has fun trying and pretending to be various animals.  The best part?  Seeing my stinking cute daughter fold her hands over her heart when we say, “namaste.”  So.  Stinking.  Cute.

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Good thing I’m a mythology nerd. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

 

I’m still working my way through Patterns of Comparative Religion by Eliade.  It is quite the beast, but very interesting.  There is a lot of fascinating information within its pages, but it is not focused on Indo-European mythology the way Jaan Puhvel’s book is supposed to be.  I’m hoping that I find it a little more helpful as I continue to trudge through Indo-European Mythology 1 – one of ADF’s advanced study programs.  It’s taking me a long time, but I’m learning so much.  So much.

Collecting the Ogham

A growing ogham collection. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Slowly, slowly, my understanding of the ogham grows. As that flourishes, so does my collection of ogham wood.  Since the summer, I’ve started to locate trees named in the ogham system, seek their fallen branches, made offerings to the trees, and learned more about them.  Birch (beith) and ash (nion) came down during summer storms.  Willow (sail) was found bellow a beautiful tree on the St. Lawrence River.

Today we experienced a bit of a heat wave in Northern NY: 20 degrees F!  Oooh baby!  In all seriousness, it was truly a more comfortable day to get some fresh air.  Gone was the biting, icy breath of An Cailleach.  The softly falling snow insulated the land.  While Bee enthusiastically chopped the snowbanks, I spied a small branch dangling from a nearby apple tree, hanging by just a thread of bark.  I trudged through the high banks, asked the apple tree if I could have the branch, and it quickly separated.  I felt that was a resounding “yes!”  I didn’t have anything with me, so I promised future offerings and gave a song.  When we left, Bee and I said “bye bye” to the apple tree.  (I absolutely love how she talks to trees like her mama.)  The thickest portion of the branch is now with the rest of my growing ogham collection, waiting to be sanded a bit and labeled – apple – ceirt.

I’m undecided on whether or not I will utilize these tools for divination.  Author and friend Skip Ellison of ADF advises on using uniform disks so as to avoid the possibility of memorizing the shape of different twigs and drawing what is desired rather than what is needed, even unconsciously.  Others argue that the ogham symbols should truly be represented by the trees themselves, but that seems dismissive of their having been carved into stone, and their representing other things, such as animals and rivers, as well.  Still studying and making up my own mind.  One thing is for certain – I’m planning to work with these ogham sticks for magic.  Say I want to charge something for a specific purpose.  I could sprinkle an object with sacred water using a specific ogham stick, place them in a bag together, etc.  I could place an ogham stick under my pillow to help direct my dreams, or carry one in a pocket to help me with a situation.  So many possibilities!

My search for the ogham will continue.  I already know where I will obtain oak, elder, and rowan.  Others, such as mistletoe and blackthorn, will be a real challenge.

As part of my devotional, I meditated. I started with a Two Powers, visualizing myself at my inner grove. I felt at peace, and enjoyed feeling the sun on my face. Eventually, images of myself making candles appeared. I’ve been feeling compelled to try that recently.

My mind moved to something that has been bothering me recently – a few days ago my words failed me. It’s like my mind fell into a puddle for a moment, and the wrong words came out. I felt so stupid, especially as this was at a work meeting and I’m supposed to be well spoken in my field. Nobody said anything, but I stressed about it – and continue to. I hate the possibility that others might think I’m stupid, or might question my abilities. Mostly, I hate feeling that eloquence failed me. It’s as if I let Brighid down in some way, as she is a Goddess who favors the bards. I usually pray to her before rituals or public speaking situations, and usually, as my husband puts it, my tongue “drips with honey.” However, situations like this often overshadow any successes I may have experienced. I find myself wishing I didn’t stumble over my words, that I were wittier, that I were more intelligent. I guess I’m having a moment of inadequacy.

During my meditation, as I dwelled on these worries, Brighid appeared to me. She reminded me that I’m still young, that people make mistakes, and that I need to learn from it but move on. She gave me a wooden disk with the ogham luis – rowan – on it. After I finished my meditation and devotional, I delved into information on luis to verify and add to my understanding of it. It’s association with fire and Brighid seem incredibly specific to the situation. I need to work more with that energy, and allow myself to shine as the symbol encourages. There is also the obvious protective element of rowan. Brighid has my back, and perhaps I shouldn’t allow myself to feel so vulnerable due to a little verbal misstep. Those things happen. I need to pick myself up, learn from my mistakes, and allow my inner flame to shine on!

Art Between Friends

Small Brighid Doll by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Although I don’t have much time to craft these days, I gleefully signed up for the ADF Artisan Guild Imbolc exchange. The group decided that everyone should make something small, and we decided on the amount of time it should take and the general cost.  I was excited enough to participate and do a little sewing, but was absolutely over the moon when I saw that my partner was my dear friend, R!  She and I got back to my Utica days, when I was first exploring Paganism.  We bonded over an interest in ADF, and she encouraged me to make the drive to Muin Mound in Syracuse.  Life took us to different corners of NY, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, but we still bond over our shared interests and meet up whenever we can.

R indicated that, despite her Norse hearth culture, she has an interest in Brighid.  I decided to make her a small Brighid doll, since the exchange was for Imbolc.  I repurposed a blue wool sweater by felting it, and used a little for Brighid’s body. Folk art inspired me to leave the face blank.  I usually love painting faces on my dolls, but I really think my decision works for this small doll.  It gives her a very solemn look, and the individual regarding the doll will inherently known how they feel she should look.

R’s Fairy Cottage, 2015

In exchange, R surprised me with this adorable fairy cottage made with polymer clay and a repurposed jar.  I love all the whimsical details – right down to the woodgrain on the door! There are even little windows on each side, and Bee loves to peer in.  It has be excited for spring with all the pink flowers!

Funnily enough, we actually were able to meet up a couple weeks after receiving our gifts.  Her girlfriend happened to have a hockey tournament in the area, so we met for lunch.  It felt wonderful to reconnect.  Hoping to do more of that come the warmer weather!

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Goddess symbols on my altar. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

 

This may seem frivolous to some. Like Valentine’s day, love between lady friends should be celebrated all year. However, unlike the love between romantic partners, especially that shared by people who see each other every day, it can be hard to express fondness for people who have become distant through the complications of life.  Work schedules, childcare, personal hobbies, and family obligations can really stretch a person thin!  I feel like, if it weren’t for the internet, I would have lost touch with a lot of my beloved gal pals.  Although we don’t get together as often as I’d like, I just want to send out a special bit of love to all the ladies who are very dear to me.  I wish it were easier for us to get together more regularly, whether it’s to chat over tea or dance around a fire.  Preferably both.  Maybe with wine.  So I’m sending out this little bit of love to the ladies in my life – not just my mother and sister, but also my soul sisters, my spiritual teachers, my like-minded learners, my fellow eccentric artists, priestesses, flame tenders, witches, bitches, Earth warriors, tree huggers, whimsical dreamers, and all around amazing people.  I feel like I spend so much time surrounded by people with whom I can never feel entirely comfortable or myself.  Whenever I’m with my soul sisters, I feel such joy and kinship.  The ladies this goes out to all beam with blessings from the Goddesses, and I’m lucky for how you’ve touched my life.  A toast to you, my lady friends.  I wish we were all together right now.

It’s very cold outside. The snow is very deep. I actually have decided to do my devotional inside today. I watched a small herd of deer struggling to get through the deep snow in the woods, and I took that as a sign from my spirit allies to stay in. I was sick a few days ago and shouldn’t push myself today anyway.

To be honest, I’m ready for spring. I love winter, but I’m starting to miss things like my garden, tree frogs, toads, drinking tea by the river, foraging for food, and going out barefoot at night to hail the moon.

Soon. Soon.

In the meantime, I found some new friends who are helping me get through the final stretch of the dark half of the year. I put them on my family altar to celebrate the coming Spring Equinox.

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