My dragon pumpkin. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
I had a wonderful Samhain with loved ones. My husband and I carved pumpkins, with the help of Bee (who enjoyed scooping out seeds and guts). I used some of the insides to make pumpkin orzo for dinner the day of. My sister and niece visited and, since the little ones can walk, we took them trick-or-treating to a few nearby homes in my neighborhood. I don’t think indulging in a few sweets from time to time is a bad thing, so I let Bee nibble some chocolate. We returned to our own home to hand out treats to other children – candy, pretzels, and stickers. I was really happy to share this old tradition with my daughter.
Before dinner, I said a prayer to our Ancestors and made an offering of food to them, placing it on our shrine. We shared stories of the Ancestors and enjoyed each other’s company.
I felt bad that I completely forgot about keeping my flame to Brighid… I was really distracted by entertaining my family and preparing for our Samhain ritual the next day. I did make an offering to Brighid at the ritual, though… It’s always difficult when my flamekeeping shift falls on a High Day. I haven’t felt any anger from Brighid; she’s pretty forgiving and I do make offerings to her frequently. I’m trying my best, after all! I’m sure she’s aware of my resolve to do a better job next time.
The ritual with Northern Rivers went really well. It was cold and even a little rainy, but we went outside and circled a cozy bonfire. I enjoyed time with my grovies, making new friends, and honoring our Ancestors. Our bonds grow stronger and stronger! We’re hoping to work on our bylaws and turn into a fully-fledged grove soon!
Weretoad’s dapper skull jack-o-lantern. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
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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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Posted in Druidism, tagged baby, daily devotionals, liturgy, magic, nature walks, offerings, prayers, Samhain, Study Programs, trance, tribe on October 19, 2014 |
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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.
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Posted in Druidism, tagged Autumn Equinox, Earth Mother, food, gardening, Nature Awareness, Nature Spirits, Pagan parenting, Samhain, traditions, tribe on October 5, 2014 |
Rowan tree in Alexandria Bay, NY. The leaves haven’t really changed, but the berries are bright red! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
This is my favorite time of year, so naturally I’m over the moon when it comes to sharing it with my little one. It’s hard to enjoy traditions, old or new, with an infant, however. This year is a whole new experience! She’s able to interact with the world around her, so it’s a great time to introduce her to all things autumn. Here are some of the things we’ve been doing. Teaching little ones about the cycle of the year, the sacredness of Nature, and our holidays is as easy as seasonal pie!
Autumn Fun with a One Year Old
- Take nature walks and look at the trees. Say hello and even give them hugs. Point out the different colors.
- Pick apples, clumps of rowan berries, or acorns, and thank the trees for their bounty. In fact, get in the habit of always saying prayers of thanks with your child.
- Run through piles of crinkly leaves. (I’d love to make a labyrinth like these people did!)
- Show your toddler how dried leaves turn into dust when you crinkle them in your fingers.
- Visit a local apple cider press. Learn how apple cider is made (Bee was scared of the noisy machines), or at least smell that intoxicating aroma! Give your little one a tiny taste of an apple cider donut. Just a tiny one.
- Visit your local pumpkin patch and let your tot pick out her own pumpkin. Show her how varied pumpkins can be. The warty ones are especially fun to touch!
- We haven’t done this yet, but my plan is let Bee decorate her own pumpkin via finger painting. (There are some lovely toddler pumpkin ideas here.)
- Sing fun songs about the season. An easy one, which goes to the tune of “10 Little Indians,” goes like this:
One little, two little, three little pumpkins.
Four little, five little, six little pumpkins.
Seven little, eight little, nine little pumpkins.
Ten little pumpkin pals!
- Find milkweed seeds and make wishes together when you blow them away.
- Pick the last of the harvest together. Let your little one eat a few goodies fresh from the vines. Bee loves cherry tomatoes.
- Wave goodbye to the Canada geese as they fly south.
- Make a Samhain playlist and dance to it together.
- Last year, I chose what my child was wearing for Samhain. This year, although Bee can’t exactly articulate what she wants to dress as herself, I decided to make a costume based on something she really loves – cats! Sure, I could dress her up as a favorite fantasy character, but I would rather she recognize what she’s pretending to be.
- Read interactive books about the season together. I just gave her I Love You, Little Pumpkin, and she adores it. It introduces the idea of dressing up, which is one of the most easily accessible childhood traditions. She especially likes the little mirror at the end of the book.
- If you haven’t already, make an ancestral altar. Visit it often as a family. If possible, take a trip to a family grave. Pray to the Ancestors together, and make offerings.
- Make some delicious applesauce and enjoy it together.
- When you wake up to morning frost, tell your toddler a simple story about An Cailleach. They may not understand everything, but it builds a foundation. I simply say, “Oooh, An Cailleach is waking up! Soon, she’ll bring winter back!”
What are some of your favorite ways to share Autumn and Samhain traditions with your little one? I can’t wait to add to my list and do even more sophisticated things with Bee next year!
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It arrived! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.
I’m ashamed to say that I never read the late Adler’s groundbreaking book, Drawing Down the Moon. The news of her sudden death moved me to order it immediately. I needed to read it; I needed to honor one of our community’s elders – now ancestors. I had admired her as a journalist on NPR, now I definitely needed to explore this other side of her.
It arrived today! I’m very excited to start. I’m not sure how I will fit it in with my other projects – the various ADF study programs, sewing, crocheting, and managing a protogrove… but I’m committed to finish it by Samhain. In fact, I invited my grovies to join me in reading or rereading it with me. We’ll periodically discuss things that jump out at us on our Facebook group, and have a final discussion towards the end of October. We’ll then honor her further at our Samhain ritual.
I can’t believe it took me this long…
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Posted in Druidism, tagged 2013, ADF, altars, ancestors, autumn, Northern Rivers, rituals, Samhain, tribe, winter on November 4, 2013 |
On Saturday night, Northern Rivers Protogrove gathered to celebrate Samhain and honor the Ancestors. We decided to have the rite indoors as the rain and cold were quite intense. We are aiming to be more family-friendly and we wanted the little ones to be safe and comfortable. I used to look down my nose at “fair weather Pagans,” but my tune is changing. I’m all for communing with Nature in the rain and snow, and there’s definitely a time and place for that, but when you practice a tribal religion, the needs of the many must come first. Although
I missed the stone circle, we set up a beautiful altar inside the Kripalu Yoga Center.
We called to An Morrigan as the gatekeeper. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.
We also set up a special shrine for the visiting Ancestors. Guests brought photographs, skulls, and other mementos. I happened to see an announcement that this Samhain marked ADF’s 30th year, so I grabbed the copy of Oak Leaves that eulogizes our late founder, Isaac Bonewits. He’s definitely an ancestor of the heart for many an ADF grove and protogrove!
We made offerings to the Ancestors and made a special temporary shrine for them. Here you see just one of many mementos brought – a photo of ADF’s late founder, Isaac Bonewits. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.
My friend Tara lead the rite and she did a fantastic job. She even made some wonderful favors for guests in the form of little skulls painted on stones she gathered from a lake. This Samhain Northern Rivers Protogrove met another milestone in that we have been having our High Day rituals at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center for an entire year! It’s been a beautiful partnership and I’m so grateful for their hospitality. Between the growth in ritual attendees and the outstanding participation and leadership of fellow members, I am so proud of us. On a personal note, since I wasn’t leading the rite, I took the opportunity to write and memorize an invocation to the Ancestors. I was told I did a wonderful job, and people were moved by my delivery. It’s always good to hear! My favorite part of every Samhain, however, is the spiritual and emotional release that comes with honoring our beloved dead and accepting the beauty and inevitably of death as well as the promise of life’s renewal.
Here’s to a new liturgical year full of new and wonderful developments with Northern Rivers Protogrove!
We paid special reverence to the new Ancestors, those who passed away this year. Using a tradition I learned from Muin Mound Grove, everyone announced the name of a new Ancestor while placing a clove into an apple. We invited them to “come to the light” so that they could join the other Ancestors and cross over to the Otherworld. As always, it was very moving. Photo, Grey Catsidhe, 2013.
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Carved pumpkins and turnips scare away the negative and light the way for our beloved dead. Photo by Weretoad, 2013.
Hospitality for the Ancestors and offerings from our meal. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.
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