Doyle doesn’t look anywhere as interested as I am!
Posts Tagged ‘Study Programs’
Posted in Druidism, tagged ADF, artisan guild study program, arts and crafts, generalist study program, initiate study program, Naturalist Guild study program, Study Programs, tribe on April 10, 2013 | 6 Comments »
I seem to go through a cycle of three settings – study, experience, and lazy bum. Occasionally the study and experience join forces and I truly feel like I’m living the path of a Druid, balancing the two in a beautiful dance of books, meditations, walks in the forest, and discussion groups. Recently, I’ve been going through one of those rare periods which is exciting. Having Northern Rivers Protogrove so close to home definitely helps. It motivates me to continue my studies, organize opportunities for others to learn and grow, and insists that I keep practicing so that I can live up to the work I’m trying to do.
Spring break helped too. It’s amazing what I was able to get done… For example, my Liturgy 1 essay for the Naturalist Guild study program was approved after a couple revisions. I’m very proud of the work I did on that essay! I may share it eventually, but I’m waiting for the same essay to get reviewed for the Initiate and Generalist study programs.
I’ve also realized just how much I do on a weekly basis that can count towards some of my ADF study program essays. Journaling about time in nature? Why wasn’t I working on that sooner. Hell, I might just go back through my blog and find the various entries I’ve done on such experiences to flesh it out. Journal about a piece of art made for a grove? Why didn’t I start that sooner? Like when I made that altar cloth for Samhain!? Record and reflect on divination I’ve done? I could have finished the required amount of work for that essay long ago had I been journaling consistently!
I’m hoping I can keep this pace up for a bit. I know that my priorities will be shifting very soon and a new setting will dominate my focus – mama.
When we decided to try having a baby, my husband and I were well aware of the fact that doing so would mean putting some of ourselves aside (at least for a little while). We must re-prioritize how we spend our excess money and time. Traveling will be a little difficult for a few years. Spontaneous nights out at the movies will stop until the little one is old enough to come along (here’s hoping there are some good children’s movies in the making!). I’d like to think I’ll still be able to do the crafting I like, but even now my energy levels aren’t what they usually were. Any sewing or fiber work I’ve done has been for the baby or my future niece (although I did take time to make my friend Corinne a pair of owl earrings). I don’t see that changing any time soon. My desire to vend has vanished for the time being. I’m planning to “close” my certificate of authority allowing me to sell at craft fairs. I will probably make more pieces to put in the ADF store or other local shops in the area, but I’m no longer taking consignments. Any free time I have to craft, I intend to spend it expressing myself just how I want, making things for the protogrove, or for my baby.
A fellow blogger, Octopusdance, wrote about “Pagan Monasticism” the other day and it got me thinking. I remember a younger me wishing I could just go away from the rest of society and focus intently on my spiritual path. I would spend my time in a self-sufficient community of like-minded individuals. We would grow and prepare our own food, tend a garden sanctuary to the Nature Spirits, make our own tools, teach each other our specialties, commune with the Spirit World, meditate, and study. And of course, nights would be spent around the fire telling stories, singing songs, and drinking our own homemade meads, ales, and wines.
What a dream, right? Now, initially I was thinking of such places as child and spouse-free because, let’s face it, family creates distraction. Monastic life couldn’t be for me, at least not in this life.
Then something dawned on me. I was thinking of a deeply spiritual life through the lens of Christianity and Buddhism. I suddenly recalled reading about the ancient Druids’ ability to marry and have children (Ellis, 82). Indeed, Irish stories are full of Druids having liaisons and children, and the Gods themselves were constantly trysting and marrying. Why would the Druids limit themselves if they didn’t want to? Now, of course, we know the ancient Druids held a high place in society. Fosterage was probably a common practice among them just as it was with other high ranking families. There’s evidence that Medieval Irish children were given to foster parents around the age of seven (Bitel, 86). Did this practice exist among the ancient Druids? If it did, seven year olds are far more independent than infants. If a female Druid had a baby, did she take a break? Were her duties lessened? Did the community help her? We may never know.
And yet, perhaps we modern Druids can continue to be (or at least try to be) deeply spiritual while acting as parents. It’s not monastic life, but then again, we modern Druids have embraced an idea of reveling in all of life’s blessings (within moderation) rather than denying them to ourselves. Parenthood is just another joy to be experienced, another lesson to be learned, and another way of experiencing the Kindreds.
So, no, I don’t see myself sacrificing my spiritual life.
Northern Rivers Protogrove remains a priority to me. It doesn’t rank as high as the baby, of course, but I set this whole thing in motion last year with the study group and I don’t intend to see it fall on its face. Thankfully, everyone involved is also very dedicated and very supportive of my pregnancy. My protogrove sisters are excited to help plan a Mother Blessing ceremony for me, and I am hoping to having a baby saining ritual later in the year. I have confidence in them that if I ever need to be absent from a rite, they will perform beautifully! I’ve even had offers from nearby ADFers to come and help with a summer High Day should I not feel up to it as I approach delivery. Even after the baby is born, we plan our rites ahead of time. I’m sure a family member will be able to babysit for a few hours while we celebrate. Bringing baby to workshops, study sessions, and business meetings won’t deter me. I’m hoping to carry baby close, and my husband can easily take a fussy babe away for a moment if needed. Thank goodness for Weretoad! Thus I intend to remain a facilitator and “priestess type figure” for my little community. I do not, however, intend to become clergy anytime soon. I will continue to work on my Initiate Study Program to better serve my community and deepen my spiritual practices, but the clergy training program, and the demands of clergy responsibility, are a bit beyond me right now. Those are goals for later in life.
But what about my personal practices? I guess I won’t really know until the baby arrives. I’ve read and heard that the first few weeks are the hardest. My world will revolve around the baby and recovering. I imagine any energy I have left could go towards a prayer before my altar or a lit candle on Brighid’s shrine. Seems appropriate. After that, I may just set aside some time each week, like a Saturday morning, for meditation and ritual. I am hopeful that I can continue my daily devotionals. Things may be a bit touch and go for the first year or so, but I imagine it will settle out eventually and I’ll be able to have a routine again. It will be a new routine, but it will exist.
My life as I knew it is going to change – already is changing – and some things must be sacrificed for the new life I’m bringing into the world – at least for a little while. Yet I don’t intend for my spirituality to be one of them. If anything, I can see the baby strengthening my Druidism.
I guess only time will tell!
Bitel, Lisa M. Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY. 1998.
Ellis, Peter B. A Brief History of the Druids. Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York, NY. 2002.
Today I received word that my Devotional Practice essay passed review! I’m posting it here for you to read.
Since completing my “Art Muse Essay” in 2010, I’ve been working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits, most of which involve fabric and fiber. Seán Ó Duinn, author of The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint, explained several Irish customs and beliefs linking Brighid to fabric, fiber, and traditionally female art, in addition to her well-known association with blacksmithing. Upon learning about her textile associations, I felt even more strongly that I should thank her for the talent and inspiration she blesses me with. In an effort to build a stronger relationship with her, I’ve done my best to perform a very simple rite each time I embark on creative projects.
In my “Art Muse Essay”, I explained that I was lighting a candle for her prior to artistic work. This practice has evolved over that last few years. Originally, I was using the same candle I light on my flame keeping shift as part of my work with the Brighid’s Hearth SIG. I have since decided that I want to save that candle for my flame keeping shifts or healing work. They are less frequent whereas I am always sewing, crocheting, felting, or drawing something! I required an alternative – something specific to my artistic rite.
Somewhere along the way I decided that incense would be a good offering. Unverified personal gnosis told me to offer “fiery” blends. Brighid seems very pleased with cinnamon, clove, and sunny-smelling lemongrass. I’ve offered floral blends before, such as heather, and the incense tends not to burn fully. It’s as if Brighid says she’s had enough and pinches it out. Occasionally, when I am feeling ill and worry that incense will bother my senses, I have offered cups of herbal tea. Once more, I use cinnamon or other “fiery spices.” The blend of fire, water, and herbs is very pleasing to her and I have had good experiences with this offering as well.
Prior to beginning my work, I stand before Brighid’s altar. It sits above my stove, which feels like the most appropriate place given her fiery associations. I then light a stick or cone of incense and say the prayer I wrote. Like my ritual of thanks, it has gone through several revisions.
Great Goddess of arts and crafts
You who put the fire in my head
You who bless me with talent and inspiration -
I thank you for your blessings.
I pray that you continue to bless me with talent and inspiration.
I pray that my art improves and continues to bring a smile to you.
May you know my love, gratitude, and worship in all I say and do.
May I bring honor to you in my work!
Lady Brighid, please accept my offering!
I then place the incense in its holder and begin my workings. The scent wafts through my home and reminds me of her presence. I try my best to do this act of devotion every day I set about artistic pursuits. Although I have not felt the need, I can imagine myself using this rite, with an altered prayer, to ask for inspiration. Thus far, Brighid puts the fire in my head almost every day, and there has been no drought of projects for me to embark on!
Since beginning to perform this personal rite, I have felt my bond with Brighid grow and strengthen. I frequently receive bursts of inspiration and feel her warmth regularly. I believe this to be reciprocity. I ask for inspiration, receive it, and send her my thanks and gifts of incense purchases especially for her. The cycle continues! I’ve felt a deeper connection to my artistic pursuits – and not just with regards to Brighid. I have started to recognize a deepening bond to my female ancestors, especially when I practice very traditional arts such as hand stitching and spinning with a drop spindle. I wonder about my old Irish ancestors. Did they remember Brighid, as the Goddess or Saint, on Imbolc? Did they think of her when they knit a warm sweater? Did they have a cherished bit of fabric that they put out each Imbolc eve to use as a healing object? I wonder, imagine, and feel myself becoming a part of a large tapestry of tradition going back into antiquity.
The only negative aspect of my artistic rite to Brighid is that I feel my relationship with my other patron has been ignored. I do not feel as bonded and this must be remedied. Working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits has taught me what it means to live Paganism. I do not just pay lip service to her on Imbolc, but honor her and thank her each day. I know I can do this in other areas of my life, thus deepening my bonds with other deities and Kindred. Brighid has inspired me again!
Ó Duinn, Seán. The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint. Dublin:
Columba Press, 2005.
The following is an excerpt from my Initiate Studies trance journal from August 27, 2012.
What an odd experience!
Tonight I set out to do my trance work on the couch and avoid the disturbances of my tossing and turning husband. He has to wake up early tomorrow so I had an hour or two to myself before my own desired bedtime. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get some introspective work done.
Boy was I wrong.
I prepared myself by gathering my iphone and earbuds. I planned to listen to a recorded drum beat called “Third Meditation” by Richard C. Schrei. It was a free purchase I bought a year or so ago from Amazon for the purposes of meditating. It’s a bit fast paced, perhaps, but it is fairly consistent which helps me maintain a breathing pattern.
I lit some incense on the family/seasonal altar in the living room then turned the lights out. This is normally how I do things. A spicy scent and darkness are my favored mental keys for altered states.
As I was settling on the couch, I thought that I should probably ground myself using the Two Powers meditation first. I wanted to put myself in the right frame of mind to engage in the work before simply delving in. Just as I was getting into that, I noticed a tall, dark shadow out of the corner of my eye. I turned and squinted, fear clenching at my heart. “Oh shit!” I remember thinking. “It’s too late!” In my panic, I worried that something materialized because I didn’t ground myself.
I can’t help but laugh at myself as I think back on it… but I’ve read about those “shit just got real” moments others have experienced. I don’t think things like that are impossible.
Nervously, I gasped my husband’s name because the more rational side of my brain started to work again.
He giggled at me and I collapsed into the couch, my heart racing. “Damnit!” I said. “Don’t ever do that again!” He apologized and explained that he wondered what I was doing. The lights turned off but I never came in the bedroom. He wanted to make sure I was ok. I guess he didn’t realize I was going to trance.
I went about my work after that but had to turn a light on. I was just too spooked. Meditating or engaging in trance while on edge is not fun and I don’t feel like I accomplished anything or saw any growth in myself as a result.
The moral of the story is to make sure everyone in your home is aware that you do not want to be disturbed before doing trance work. Especially if you’re weak of heart. If I were elderly I probably would have died!
I’m very excited to say that I passed Magic 1 which is a research heavy course part of the ADF Initiatory track. Its purpose is to give students a greater understanding of the history of magic. I read way more books than I actually used as references in my paper, but there’s still so much more to learn! Same as with the Dedicant Program, I’ll be sharing my essays as they pass. They will be archived in the Druidic Studies section.
By Grey Catsidhe
1) Discuss the importance of the action of the magico-religious function as it is seen within the context of the general Indo-European culture (minimum 100 words).
The importance and action of the magico-religious function in Indo-European society depends on the culture and time period studied. This is because magic’s role, and indeed its relationship to religion, was not static in history.
In ancient Greece and Rome, the actions and role of the sorcerer were different from those of the priest involved with the state religion. While healing, love and weather charms were permissible, there were strict laws against the malignant magic practiced in secrecy, such as anything involving poison (Graf 46-47). The sorcerer practiced at night and in relative privacy, whereas the established, approved religious practices were held in the day or at least for the public (77). The sorcerer was usually someone on the fringe of society (22) and was seen as dangerously intimate with the divine world (83-84). He was knowledgeable of the Otherworld and feared for it.
The separation between magic and religion in other Indo-European societies is not as clear. Many of the socially unacceptable forms of magic in the Mediterranean world are found often in Celtic literature. For example, the Druids, the religious leaders in Celtic communities, interacted with Gods and sidhe (Spense 89) – beings that some interpret to be the dead (80). Funeral rites aside, only the sorcerers of Greece and Rome dared seek contact with the departed (Graf 197). The Romans would sometimes refer to a Druid as a magus (Spense 36) – a pejorative word in much of Rome (Graf 21). Yet the Druids also had a reputation of practicing magic that would have been more acceptable to Romans such as charms to control the weather (13).
While the perception of magic changes from culture to culture, it is clear that its function in the religious world involves boundaries. Those who practice magic cross or determine the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, divine, powerful, and taboo. Sorcerers often dare to test the boundaries of society in order to bring about change. Whether that is positive or negative is culturally relative.
2) Discuss your understanding of the evolution of the magician from early to late periods within one Indo-European culture (minimum 300 words).
Since the dawn of civilization, individuals have taken on the role of the magician. Research on cave paintings, such as those found in Lascaux, France, have lead many to believe that the art has a magico-religious purpose – possibly related to hunting and/or fertility magic (Janson 6). Humans have basic needs and magic has always been one way to obtain them. Some individuals, either through genuine talent, charisma, or a mixture of both, became specialists, and every Indo-European society had a special group of such people.
As human civilization grew and changed, certain magical practices became elevated. For the ancient Celts, that practice was Druidism. We know little of its practitioners because they committed very little to writing (Ellis 14). Once more looking to such sites as the Lascaux caves, we can make the assumption that Druidism, like all Pagan religions, grew out of something far older and even less understood. The Druids grew into a specialized, intelligent, and privileged class of people, much like the Brahmin of Hindu culture (29). They were likely elevated because their cunning enabled the rest of their society to flourish (39). Although our knowledge on this social class is limited, Druids did practice magic. There is evidence of wand usage due to stories of a silver branch that could grant access to the Other World (Spence 28). There is also evidence that the Druids practiced shape shifting (59), oversaw public sacrifices (70), used trance (96-98), and determined the will of the Gods through such practices as augury (102) and “omen sticks” (106).
As explained by Fritz Graf in Magic in the Ancient World, the Romans saw magicians as outsiders and referred to them in Latin as magus. Although we must be careful when viewing the Celts through the lens of their conquerors, it is perhaps telling that the Romans used the word magi (the plural form of magus) when referring to Druids (Spense 36). While it is true that the Romans desired to conquer the Celts, the Druids must have had some practices that seemed reprehensible to the Romans such as cursing and working with the dead. Shortly after conquering the Gualish Celts, the Romans suppressed Druidism (Kondratiev 19) probably because some of its practices resembled magical traditions already outlawed in Roman society and thus undermined Roman control. Although the Romans distinguished a division between acceptable and unacceptable magic, such distinctions are less obvious in the Celtic world. The only evidence we have for magical societal divisions are accounts by Romans such as Diodorus Siculus who observed that Druids must be in attendance at a sacrifice, hinting that they were somehow necessary to commune with the Gods (Ellis 52).
The Druids flourished longer in Ireland but were soon absorbed into Irish Christianity. Many of the old Gods were Christianized and the magic of the Druids was transferred to the new priestly class in the name of Christ (Ellis 250). Interestingly, these same priests enabled us to learn more about their Pagan predecessors by finally putting the old tales into writing. Although Christianized, we do find examples of how the Druids were seen retrospectively. In “The Second Battle of Mag Tuired,” for instance, we learn that four wizards/poets/Druids (depending on the translation) taught the Gods of the Irish – the Tuatha De Dannan – magic. Indeed, even the Gods had Druids! Through this lore, we learn that the Christian Irish, at least, saw the Druids as specialists in magic. While Christianity began to take its foothold in Ireland, true practitioners of the old beliefs were pushed further and further to the sidelines as the years marched by. “Bardic schools,” which have existed on and off in Celtic lands since the coming of Christianity, have been argued to be influenced by Pagan ideas. Its teachers taught such practices as poetic incantations, divination, and leech craft (Ellis 159). These were eventually suppressed and replaced with even more secretive “hedge schools” (160). Just as in Rome, magicians became those practicing outside the religious status quo.
Celtic Christianity had some differences from its Roman counterpart, such as the celebration of Easter and the ideas of free will and conscience (Kondratiev 30-32). These differences were undoubtedly colored by old local traditions and Druidic philosophy. Eventually, pressure from Rome would do away with these beliefs. Those who practiced a very Celtic form of Christianity became the outsiders and were eventually suppressed like their Pagan ancestors.
Although the Christian priests remain the dominant “magicians” in what is or once was Celtic territory, Druidic magicians have been slowly making a comeback in different forms (251-281). The evolving tradition, while undoubtedly different from the original, can arguably be classified as a counterculture. Thus the modern Druid remains an outsider – seen as many to be subversive and potentially dabbling in things that make the rest of society uncomfortable – and is thus what many in our Roman-influenced world would consider a magician.
3) Compare and Contrast the culturally institutionalized position of the magician within at least two Indo-European cultures (300 words minimum).
Although all Indo-European societies had magicians, they were treated differently depending on the culture in consideration. In Rome, magicians were often outsiders who threatened the status quo set by the priests or, at the very least, performed the least desirable religious functions. Among the Celts, magicians were among the most powerful people in their societies.
In the Roman world, magic could be used for “positive” means such as finding love and manipulating the weather (Graf 1). Although herbalism was occasionally suspect, healing was also an acceptable form of magic (46). Everything else, especially anything secretive that could cause harm to an individual’s body or property, was deemed illegal (42). Books on magic and divination were often outlawed (4). Anyone suspected of using poisons or curses was labeled a maleficus – a practitioner of evil (55).
There was a distinction between the state sanctioned priests – who worked in public – and the unscrupulous, surreptitious magicians. While the priests had the obvious function of working with the Gods on behalf of the laypeople, magicians sought what the Romans felt to be an abnormally intimate relationship with the deities. As a result, magicians were thought to have a dangerous knowledge of and/or power over the Gods. Such knowledge and skill were feared in Rome (Graf 83).
The magi (magicians) weren’t always forced to be so secretive. There were times when they acted as soothsayers for the aristocrats of Roman society (Graf 196). Even when less tolerated, many people sought magicians because of their skilled reputation in working with the dead (197), a taboo act. Such transactions served a dual purpose in that they allowed the magician to further his or her intimacy with a spirit or deity while a customer did not have to get his or her hands dirty.
In the Celtic world, the Druids were magicians and priests – as well as poets, historians, judges, and doctors (Ellis 158). Obviously they were the intellectuals of their world. Claiming Druidic status meant spending at least twenty years studying (55). Their knowledge gave them power which afforded them many privileges such as the right to own land (Spenser 151) and speak before kings (Ellis 75).
According to Jean Markale, a Druid was akin to a “medicine man” or “shaman” (31). Druids performed divination, healing, and trance work on behalf of the community. The lore also indicates that Druids were very much concerned with traveling to the Otherworld and working with the dead. There are various myths which describe bringing warriors back from the dead, and there were spells associated with such practices (Spence, 31). The Druids also practiced magic to bring death to an enemy (37) and thus protect the community.
Along with obtaining wisdom through study, protecting and serving the community seem chief among the Druid’s tasks. It seems that he or she was to examine and uphold the balance of nature. It was the Druid who bestowed heroes and kings with geas, or sacred prohibitions. These were in place to keep the peace between the divine and human worlds (Spence, 59). Druids also had the duty of determining the next king through trance. By wrapping him or herself in the hide of a freshly slaughtered bull, the Druid would meditate on the next ruler (96). Once more, the Druid’s magic influenced the whole tribe. Not only was the Druid’s work accepted by the population, it seems that it was necessary to maintain societal norms.
4) Identify the terms used within one Indo-European language to identify ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ examining what these terms indicate about the position of the magician and the practice of his or her art (100 words minimum).
The ancient Celts called their class of priests and magicians “Druids.” The meaning of this word has been a matter of debate. The most widely held belief seems to be that the word comes from druidae. According to Peter Berresford Ellis, Pliny the Elder “believed that it was cognate with the Greek drus, ‘an oak’” (37). Some more contemporary Celtic scholars think it derives from roots dru, again signifying the oak, and wid which means “to know” or “to see,” possibly making Druid mean “oak knowledge” (37) harking back to the days when the Druids would have been responsible for helping their people locate acorns to harvest for food (39). If so, the word implies an intimate relationship between the Druids and the natural word with regards to the survival of the tribe.
Medieval Irish terms for three classes of Druids shed further light on the matter. Bard was the title given to poets and musicians. Fáith, fáidh, or filí referred to the prophets (70), who were responsible for divination and sacrifice (51). The druí were the magicians (70). Despite this distinction, there is evidence for the bards also practicing magic, including curses (CR FAQ). These classes may indicate that the Druids specialized in specific forms of magical work.
Irish lore also speaks of sorcerers, using the word corrguinech, who practice magic, or corrguine (Ellis 248). Linguistically, there does not seem to be a major link to the Druids, implying that there existed others outside the order who practiced magic. Indeed, magic specific to Druids seems to include an adjectival word, druidechta/draoichta, or “druidic”. Thus the ceo druidechta was the Druidic fog and the slat an draoichta was the Druidic wand (248-249).
To the Romans, the Druids were referred to in Latin as magus which translates to magician (Spence 36). According to Fritz Graf, the word originates from Persia. There, the magi were the learned men and priests (20-21). However, by the 5th century, the meaning of magi and magus changed into something more negative and secretive (21). It became associated with barbarism (24) which tells us much about how the Romans saw Druids.
Davies, Penelope J., Denny, Walter B., Hofrichter, Frima F., Jacobs, Joseph, Roberts,
Ann M., Simon, David L. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition. 7th ed.
New Jersey: Pearson Education inc., 2007. Print.
Ellis, Peter Berresford. A Brief History of the Druids. 1994. New York: Carroll & Graf
Publishers, 2002. Print.
Graf, Fritz. Magic in the Ancient World. 1994. Trans. Franklin Philip. Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997. Print.
Kondratiev, Alexei. Celtic Rituals: An Authentic Guide to Ancient Celtic Spirituality.
Collins Press, 1998. Print.
Markale, Jean. The Celts: Uncovering the Mythic and Historic Origins of Western
Culture. 1976. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1993.
NicDhàna, Laurie, Vermeers and ní Dhoireann. The CR FAQ. 2006. Web. 17 July
Spence, Lewis. The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain. 1945. Mineola, New York: Dover
Publications, 1999. Print.
I recently posted about how I was anticipating Wellspring as a way to rejuvenate my Druidic studies and practice. Weretoad and I were able to attend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. For those of you who don’t know, Wellspring is a major ADF Druid festival held at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY. There are large rituals, initiations, consecrations, workshops, competitions, concerts, and potlucks. Always a good time! This year was a busy and sometimes frustrating weekend, but it’s all worth it for the learning, fellowship, and reinvigoration that occurs. I also got to meet fellow blogger Inahawksi! I took a few photos to share but am quickly realizing that I much prefer a digital SLR to the built-in camera on my iphone. It works well but it’s so hard to hold still and focus – especially in the sun. I apologize for the blurry ones!
Stonecreed Grove, the hosts of the event, have been making improvements to the old nemeton. They’ve replaced the rotting, wooden idols of the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper with new stone versions made by an ADF artisan. They’re visually striking as you approach! At night, when the flames shine upon them, they are truly breathtaking.
|The Gatekeeper with offerings.|
|The Earth Mother with offerings.|
|A major activity I helped to organize was weekend-long flametending through the Brighid special interest group (SIG). Fellow member, Bonnie, was absolutely amazing at coordinating with Stonecreed Grove, providing incense for people to give as offerings when needed, and working with The Magical Druid to obtain special Brighid tokens as thank-yous for people who took part. This kept me very busy as I made a point to tend to the shrine three to four times a day, sometimes meeting with other members. It was wonderful to put faces to names and join them in such a sacred act. We learned much from our first year of this and want to continue, possibly expanding to other ADF festivals. It was interesting and moving to watch the shrine grow with offerings over the weekend. Brighid is very much adored by many Druids.|
|Near the nemeton is the Runestead – an area Heathens use to worship the Norse Gods. I just love the runic fence! Hubby and I made a visit to pay our respects to the Gods of the rest of our bloodline. We especially wanted to say hello to Thor.|
|A special, commemorative pin everyone received! I was sad for a bit… I thought I lost it in the mad rush to change from ritual garb so I could dance around the bonfire in the drum circle! I found it this morning mixed in with my makeup. Figures!|
It was a wonderful weekend. I’m so happy we had a chance to go. I feel a stronger bond with my grove, better connections with fellow ADF Druids from all over, a deeper relationship with Brighid, and a greater drive to study, practice, and worship. I’m pumped to dive back into the Initiate study program! If you live near Sherman, NY and have an interest in Druidism, I strongly encourage you to consider attending! If not, I invite you to look into other Pagan festivals or conferences. They are great sources of fun, education, inspiration, and friendship.
I am not ashamed to admit that I very much look forward to, and even feel a need, for Wellspring. Graduate classes and graduation are done, yet getting back into my spiritual discipline has been difficult. There’s always so much going on… The fellowship with my fellow Druids in ritual, art, song, dance, and play always rejuvenates me in a big way. Then I will have the whole summer to throw myself back into my studies and deeper practice. Exciting!
I’m back from my sister’s lovely wedding and back to feeling out of sorts. This is just not my year with regards to health, is it? In addition to a cold or allergies, I’ve been experiencing some stomach discomfort. Before heading to the wedding, I was lucky enough to get an appointment with my doctor who thinks the cause is due to the medications I was taking after my oral surgery. Oh hurray! The wisdom teeth fun continues. (It’s been over a month and I still can’t feel my lower right lip or chin. I guess you can’t go into any surgery, no matter how minor, and expect to come out of it like before.) I have to do some tests to make sure it isn’t anything worse, and in the meantime my diet’s been restricted and I’ve been instructed to rest as much as possible… Difficult to do, but necessary. Unfortunately, I’ve felt compelled to rescind my RSVP for my grove’s Autumn Equinox ritual and a folk-only camping trip at the end of the month. My schedule is so hectic right now thanks to grad classes. I feel that I barely have enough time to do homework. I’m stressed and uncomfortable… The last thing I need is to rush off after weekend classes all the way to Syracuse or the Adirondacks before having to rush back for another week of work and night classes! I’m sad about it, but I have to prioritize my health and college this month.
In the meantime, I can focus a bit more on my Nine Moons work while I’m relaxing at home. The last quarter starts this week and I’ll be using it to catch up on the previous week’s ritual, some journaling, and reading. I’ll also celebrate the turn of the seasons in my own little way. I brought a few potted herbs in since the temperature is dropping dramatically. The hag of winter is waking up and shaking the icy dust from her blankets. Last night I witnessed frosted fields. The farmers are starting to mew their cornfields. Tonight I heard some Canada geese heading south for the winter…
As usual, my schedule makes doing the Nine Moons as prescribed by Ian challenging. Often, I’ve had to alter things to fit my needs. This week, for example, I’m once more taking college courses at night (twice a week) and have a wedding to attend over the weekend. A busy time to be sure!
This week I’ve decided to spread my retreat out. I suppose that makes it less retreat-like in that I’m not dedicating a day to it, but I’m finding it harder and harder to do that what with the demands of work, school, and family. My wonderful husband, patient and supportive though he is, misses me when I’m away for classes, and another day apart, even while physically in the same location, seems to mildly depress him. It’s much easier for both of us, at this time, if I take an hourish out of our time together to spend on magic, meditation, and the like. I’ve started to use my mornings alone for my shrine devotional and that’s also working out really well.
This week I’ve been focusing on the ancestors. It’s hard not to given all the memorials going on for the victims of 9/11. It’s as if the veil was thinned due to attention. And, of course, Samhain slowly approaches. Images of the dead are showing up everywhere. The veil is naturally thinning as we approach that sacred time.
Yesterday, between running other errands with Weretoad, we stopped to gather some graveyard dirt. I didn’t want to get it from an unfamiliar grave. I felt more comfortable asking an ancestor. Thankfully, I have such connections in Watertown! I’ve been meaning to once more visit my ancestor, Susan, and this felt like an excellent excuse. I filled a basket with supplies to gather the dirt and gifts to give her. My husband, bless his patience, waited under a tree while I meditated over her grave and whispered my intentions to her. I very clearly felt/heard her approval so I filled a jar with soil, left my gifts, and built a wee cairn on her stone. I enjoyed our short visit. The grounds are well-kept despite the fact that it’s a very old graveyard that is no longer being added to. It’s in a lovely, shaded spot guarded by generations of chipmunks. I felt welcomed as soon as I arrived.
What is graveyard dirt for? It’s a common ingredient in many spells such as goofer dust. There are different methods for obtaining it which often depend on your relationship to the grave, your intent, and tradition. I’m going to use it in some ancestral workings. Nobody really bothers me so I’ve no need for goofer dust right now.