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Archive for the ‘Druidism’ Category

Offerings of love, corn, oats, tea, and an apple at the foot of the oak tree. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

As promised, I brought An Cailleach fresh, homemade bread. I wanted to make it extra special for the Winter Hag, so I stamped it with a snowflake cookie cutter before baking. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

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Our snow girl. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

The blizzard in Northern NY stopped this afternoon and we had some time to go out and clean up. The sun even came out for a bit! Bee and I took advantage of this to have some fun in the snow. We made a big pile and, inspired by this fun post I found on Pinterest, made a snow girl with an offering of birdseed and corn in her arms.

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An Cailleach is wide awake in Northern New York, ready to teach us humility and patience. May we all learn gracefully this season! Hail and welcome!

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Despite what the modern calendar tells you, winter is here in Upstate NY.  We’ve received snow.  An Cailleach is wide awake, shaking the dust out of her skirts and cloaks.  While she has yet to show her full power, it’s coming.  You can feel it in the chilly air.  While the snow isn’t sticking for long in most places, it clings longer in the forest shadows.  I went there today to visit and take in the sights and sounds.

Snow on the ferns. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

The oak tree was bare save for a few straggling, brown leaves, clinging on for dear life. The forest seemed very gray today except for the hemlock and lingering ferns. Although the plant world is very sleepy, the animals who share the realm were quite awake! Some blue jays got into a shouting match while I was doing my devotional ritual. I couldn’t help but stop and observe. Smaller birds darted through the evergreens – one bearing some broken branches that could betray the position of a porcupine. In the distance, red squirrels tittered.

Offerings at the shrine on a chilly November day. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I left my offerings at the base of the oak – fruit, seeds, oats, and sweet red wine poured on rocks.  I also left a crow feather I found on my way there.  It felt right to give it back to Nature.

As I left, I promised An Cailleach some bread next time.  UPG I’ve experienced the last few years I’ve made offerings to her have taught me that our regional winter hag loves fresh bread.  Good thing I enjoy making it!  What’s more, it adds some extra warmth to our home while An Cailleach dances outside.

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Sweet kitchen magic in the form of homemade cheesecake topped with cherry sauce. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Each year for my husband’s birthday, I make him a New York style cheesecake.  He adores it, and each year, it gets better and better.  It’s quite a time-consuming dessert to make, which is why it’s a rare treat and one of my gifts to him.  This year was especially demanding because we don’t have a working mixer, and cream cheese can be stiff to stir, even after sitting out for a bit.  Needless to say, I put a lot of love into his birthday cake each year.

As I made the cake, I thought about this – how much effort and love go into it.  I realized that this is kitchen magic – pure and simple!  Each sunwise stir adds more intention, especially when you’re focused on making something that will give joy to the recipient.  Our daughter did some of her own kitchen magic, too – she enjoys stirring lately, so she gave it a go herself while I told her to think about daddy.  For the finishing touch, I made cherry sauce from scratch using locally grown fruit I bought at the farmers’ market and froze with my husband’s birthday in mind. No artificial coloring for us!

Although the cheesecake gets better each year because of my growing experience, I feel that part of this year’s success was due to my increased magical focus as I worked on finishing it.  To some, that may sound too woo and simple, but sometimes that’s how magic really is!

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If you live in America and have a Netflix account, you’ll be able to check out a Nature documentary called “Ireland’s Wild River.” It follows the narrator, Colin Stafford-Johnson, as he shares the beautiful Shannon River.  I watched this recently on a lazy evening while my little one napped in my arms.  The visuals are stunning and immersive.  I  caught myself wistfully sighing more than once as I imagined myself there.  Many of the documentaries I watch about Celtic lands, particularly Ireland, are concerned with history.  This program was dedicated to the plants and animals that live in and around the Shannon’s meandering waters.  While we modern folk learning about Druidism in America must explore our own local flora and fauna, it is also important that we understand the land that our ancestors came from.  We may find helpful similarities between our lands and the Nature Spirits that live here which may further inform our understanding of lore, art, holiday observations, and other folkways.  Don’t expect a lot of depth, and especially don’t look for much discussion on the old magical beliefs of Ireland, though.  However, it could be just what you need to inspire a new prayer for the Nature Spirits.  If you need to relax and have 52 minutes to lounge, why not indulge in some beautiful imagery of Ireland’s lush Shannon River?

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A practice rocket stove my father built.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe

A practice rocket stove my father built. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

 

I’ve been really curious about rocket stoves.  I see people interested in sustainability, survival skills, and camping post about them from time to time.  Turns out, my father has been interested too.  He’s more mechanically-minded than I am, so he made one using BPA-free cans (supplied by yours truly).  I also helped him by gathering fuel on my most recent nature walk.  He finally tried it and, for just a tiny test stove, it was really impressive!  Before I got my camera out, the flames were quite large.  My father feels confident that he could have boiled water with that.

I might not have a proper fire pit, but perhaps a little rocket stove could get the job done if I ever wanted a flame large enough to make offerings into.

Have you explored rocket stoves?

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