If you’re ever in the 1000 Islands, visit the Thousand Islands Art Center in Clayton, NY. They have exhibits and offer a variety of classes. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
Last Sunday, I was called on by a friend in my community and protogrove to sain her workspace – the pottery studio at the Thousand Islands Art Center. It was a wonderful experience for both of us, and I learned a lot!
I was extremely humbled when she asked me to perform this ritual. She told me she felt I had the experience and that she trusted me. Not only did this make me feel good about myself and the rituals I’ve been leading in the area, but it reminded me of why I started Northern Rivers Protogrove. It’s always been for community. Not only is gathering with like-minded people to celebrate the seasonal changes and honor the Kindreds deeply fulfilling to me, but it is to others as well. When I started the study group that would evolve into Northern Rivers, the growing interest and feedback I received clearly showed that there was something lacking in the area. I returned to my Initiate Letter of Intent in thinking about this because I remember writing a lot about community. I wanted to continue within my tradition’s study programs to grow in my spirituality and to give back to others. Agreeing to help my friend really reawakened that awareness of “calling” in me. It takes a lot of work and preparation to serve the community, and there are challenges as I need to balance it with the needs of my other career and my family, but it’s still very important and deeply gratifying.
Before I agreed to help, I first asked why she wanted the saining. I wanted to know if she desired a general blessing because of new beginnings and old, negative energy, or if she felt there was something darker there – an angry ghost, perhaps. I very honestly told her that I have very little experience with such things and do not currently feel comfortably taking that on. We have mutual trust and she also honestly told me that it wasn’t anything of the sort. Because I never want to put my own sanity or my family’s safety in harm’s way, I don’t see myself performing sainings for anyone I haven’t known for a little while. That trust is important. Maybe, down the road, I’ll feel more comfortable helping strangers, but I just lack the experience right now. It’s important to know your limits and establish your own boundaries based on what you honestly feel are your current skills. Having done a yearly saining of my own home around the New Years (both secular and religious), I felt confident in my abilities, and my relationship with the Kindreds, for her needs.
Like I said, this was a positive experience for both of us. She felt that the space was on the mend, and I felt myself putting my magical training to good use for a wonderful person. It can be intimidating to do magic and ritual for others, but leading seasonal rites for Northern Rivers has taught me that the best rituals are when I do what feels best in my heart and listen to my intuition. That’s exactly what I did. As soon as I allowed for that to happen, symbols started to jump out at me from the environment. In our discussion after the ritual, it was revealed that many of my feelings had a real basis in what my friend was experiencing. The omen, as well, was also very telling to both of us. When that happens, it feels damn good!
Now I did learn some things to help me improve for the future. Next time, I should tour the entire space beforehand. I thought we would sain the studio only, but in reality she also wanted to attend to another storage area that belongs to the studio but was across the hallway. I felt a bit clumsy and annoyed with myself when she revealed this mid-ritual, but it was easy to fix and incorporate into the rite. As I always tell my grovies, we have to be able to think on-the-fly in ritual when necessary. I also forgot to bring a separate bowl for offerings. Thankfully, I set up a working altar right by a door so we were able to pour offerings in the garden nearby.
Gifts from a friend. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
Let me point out that, regardless of my belief that our clergy and elders should be compensated for their work, I didn’t go about this for any other reasons than to help a friend and hone my skills. She surprised me after it all by gifting me with some of her favorite (locally made) incense and a dish that she made in the studio. I was absolutely giddy with her gifts since they are things I can use in future magical workings! These gifts are precious to me and will remind me of how good and fulfilling it is to give mack to my community. Furthermore, this whole experience will help me complete some of my advanced Druidic studies within ADF! Like Magic 2! Go me!
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