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An Cailleach is wide awake and busy! We woke to a winter wonderland.  My daughter got that excited, magical look in her eyes, and her chief goal for the day was go go outside and sled.  As for myself, I knew I had to make offerings to An Cailleach and get into the trees.

I had already made an offering of bread yesterday.  My UPG is that the goddess loves homemade bread, and she often demands it.  I thanked her for the upcoming beauty and lessons, and I prayed that she would be gentle to my family this year.

Today, after making some offerings at my altar as part of my daily devotional, I brought some maple whiskey outside and poured an offering to her.  I have a bowl in my garden shrine area.  It was full of snow, so it felt very appropriate. I then brought offerings of birdseed, peanuts, and apple outside for the nature spirits, including something for the deer who are sacred to An Cailleach.

The forest pulled me, so I let my feet carry me onto the ATV trail.  There were fresh tracks, but it was delightfully quiet when I was there – quiet save for the pleasant chirp of birds seeking food and a small, gurgling creek I hadn’t known was there before.  The silence of winter gives us the opportunity to explore forests in ways we can’t, or won’t, in the warmer months when they are filled with thorns, tall grass, ticks, mosquitoes, and such. I’m still getting to know the woods around my new home, and I’m glad I gave in to my wanderlust just a bit.

A gurgling stream created a meditative spot in the woods.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

 

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Gratitude For Herbs

I’ve been under the weather all week. Thankfully, I’m not entirely helpless. 

My grandmother first introduced me to the magic of herbs. I turn to them when I’m feeling the weight of a cold. I don’t shun modern medicine, but I tend to look to plant allies first. I’m so grateful to my grandmother for giving me the gift of herbal experiences and gardening. May I always strive to learn and improve to heal myself and my family. 

An infusion of lemon, ginger, and sage. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I’ve been pretty quiet lately, and it’s largely because I’ve been so busy with projects. For one, I’m all about costumes. As a large part my family’s celebration involves dressing up, I put a lot of time and energy into costumes for my daughter and myself. I’ve also needed to finish editing and revising the book I had been working on for about a year. As today is November 1st, NaNoWriMo kicks off, and I’m participating! I wanted to finish the first book before beginning the sequel. It feels very appropriate to start a new spiritual year with a new writing project to feed my soul.  An omen from my Ancestors spoke directly about listening to my inner call, after all.

I also completed refinishing a cabinet that became my altar in our new home. I made it my goal to have it up and ready by Samhain, and it feels good to have accomplished that. It is in our kitchen, the spiritual center of the home. There are still things I want to do to improve the area. I intend to hang my tree tapestry over it, and I would like to install a small shelf or two nearby to act as shrines.  But having it up, painted, and filled with all my tools helps me feel more settled.

Our jack-o-lanterns kept away all the mischievous boogies.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

We kept our tradition of carving pumpkins. I also carved a turnip for inside and outside our home. I brought one up to the border between us and the cemetery, but I waited until sunrise Samhain morning. Last night, after my sleepy trick-or-treater fell asleep, I went outside to peek at the land under the light of the moon. I could just barely make out the headstones, but something kept me from going up there. They wanted their space, it seemed.  When I placed the turnip at the border, I made sure to also bring offerings of drink and apple for the dead who wish us no ill.  I still need to go for a walk in the cemetery itself.

 

Set up our Ancestor shrine just in time!  Photo by Grey Catsideh, 2017.

Along with my main altar, I also got the Ancestor shrine sorted. I have some photos to hang, but it’s mostly the way it was at the old apartment. My daughter helped me make offerings, both last night and this morning. I made pancakes for breakfast today, and she got a little bowl for all of us to put some in. She also stood with me before the shrine to welcome the beloved dead and thank them for their continued guidance and protection. While she slept, I did divination as is traditional. It looks like a good year is in store for us. I certainly pray that comes to pass!

Our Samhain festivities will continue this weekend when we gather with our grove to celebrate.  It’s always an emotional ritual as we call to the newly deceased.  I think I should add a box of tissues to our supply box…  Still, it will be cathartic.  If we don’t confront death head on, life is unbalanced.  Besides, we have much to celebrate, too!  Our beloved dead come back to us, and we have much to learn from them.

I hope my readers have a blessed Samhain as well!

The actual Autumn Equinox felt more like Summer’s last gasp.  The leaves were changing, but the heat was intense for September in Upstate NY.  It makes me glad that my grove decided to celebrate a week later.  Yesterday was perfect.  The air was finally cool; the wind had a bite.  The sun shined through flocks of happy clouds.  It was the perfect day to stand around a bonfire surrounded by standing stones.

Before ritual, my daughter had seen me working on offerings throughout the week.  I embroidered a token and an ornament.  I decorated a stone.  She saw me go into a liquor store to get Brighid’s favorite.  She decided she wanted to make offerings, too.  Without any prompting, she started to draw pictures for Brighid and the Nature Spirits.  It was so precious.  She even wanted to roll them up and tie them with pretty yarn.  It made my chest swell with pride to see her so interested in giving back to say thank you for all our blessings.  My husband and I even saw her singing along to some of our chants during ritual.

My friend Cassandra lead the rite.  She did a remarkable job, as always.  I’m so proud of her.  She recently completed her Dedicant Path, and now I have a study buddy for the Initiate Program!

Our ritual honored the Earth Mother and gave thanks for the harvest.  Our magical working was to send healing wherever it was needed, and to keep that light with us so that we could remember ways to help.  With everything happening in the world, I feel like I went to a dark place with my ritual parts. We called to various Indo-European Earth Mothers.  I called to Gaia and Macha – both goddesses who were mistreated by others, be they other gods/Titans, or kings and other men.  Gaia was in an abusive relationship.  Macha was betrayed and forced to hurt herself while pregnant, resulting in a curse on all the men of Ulster.  I spoke of outwitting oppressors, and escaping victim-hood.  I spoke of  the Earth as the ultimate mistress, who will always have the last laugh if we mistreat her.  When I called to the Gods, I felt compelled to talk about how we strive to emulate their better qualities rather than their failings, much as children should do with their own parents.  Clearly, the news is getting to me, but I always see ritual as an important time to reflect on the lore, how it relates to what is happening in the now, and how it all translates to our Druidism.

I see the darkness, but I also see my daughter’s growing involvement.  Like a little candle herself, she gives me strength and hope.

My Autumn Harvest

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We already went to the cider mill a couple weeks ago. It’s become an important autumn tradition to my family since we moved up here. The apple cider and donuts are decadent! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

Today is the Autumn Equinox.  It was chilly when I went outside to perform my morning devotional.  The leaves are changing.  Apples are ready to harvest in Upstate NY.  Be that as it may, our afternoons have felt particularly summery lately.  It’s tempting to run off to the beach this weekend, but I think we’ll return to our favorite local cider mill instead.

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The oak tree starting to change over our work-in-progress compost pile. Time to toss more brown matter on top! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

We’re mostly settled into our new home. There are still some boxes to sort through and rooms to organize, but at least we’re all moved in! As with all of life’s great changes, moving has disrupted my personal practice. I’m only starting to reestablish my routines, but it’s been difficult when my altar is still in a state of flux. That said,  I have everything I need  to engage with my spirit allies and give gratitude. That’s a huge part of what the Autumn Equinox means to me – giving thanks for what we’ve harvested all season.

 

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My outdoor shrine at the moment. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

In the meantime, I’ve set up an evolving shrine in my backyard.  The yard is one thing I’ve “harvested” that I’m particularly grateful for. It may not be acre upon acre of forest, but it’s safe for my daughter and relatively private. I have shaded areas thanks to some lovely trees, and I have sunny spaces for a garden. I plan to plant a small grove of trees in the back. There is a lot of untapped magical potential in the land. As much of nature prepares to sleep, I’m excited to see what will grow in the spring. I look forward to working with the land to create even more fertile spaces for my family and the nature spirits who already live here.

I’m grateful to my little container garden. We had a good harvest of potatoes and snow peas this year. I also have a decent pot of sage, and even some dill. We grew more tomatoes last year; moving really distracted me from carefully tending the garden as usual. Still, I’m pleased with what we have and the lessons I learned.

Finally, I’m grateful for the house itself! Last year, I didn’t think home ownership would be in the cards for another decade. My husband and I have worked so hard paying off debt, managing our money, and making ends meet. I may not have much of a literal harvest this year, but what did come into fruition is pretty darn spectacular!

I hope my readers have a very blessed Equinox!

Oh my goodness.  Where has the time gone?  For those curious, I’m all moved into my new home!  Huzzah!  It was a stressful process that disrupted my spiritual practice, but sacrifice is necessary for change.  I’m starting to get back into things, though.  With that, I want to tie up loose ends and finish the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge.  I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I still have boxes to unpack!  My focus will be how I’ve kept up (or struggled) with the following topics through the move.

Day 16: Connect with Mother Earth

Sometimes, I just took a moment to stand or sit outside, admiring my new yard.  Sometimes that’s all you need.

Day 17: Raise some energy

After I got my keys, the first thing I did was do a saining to purify and bless my home, and make peace with the spirits within and without.  I think I raised a decent amount of energy doing that, all things considered…

Day 18: Elemental magic

While I acknowledge the importance of the four elements in many traditions, I typically work with the Three Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky, as well as the Triple Hallows of Fire, Well, and Tree.  I often see them as corresponding with each other.  Today, I briefly meditated on them as I began putting my daily practice back together.

Day 19: Sacred Space/Circle Casting

I recreate the cosmos as is traditional in ADF Druid rites.  This is largely based on what we know about Indo-European ritual.  I haven’t done much of this lately…  But I did move in a circle when I sained my home.  Circles are sacred.  I like circles.

Day 20: Ethics

I should really reflect on the Nine Virtues and how they relate to moving…  This could be a future blog post.

Day 21: Symbols

Fire, water, trees, and spirals.  I’ve been especially connected to trees lately.  Connecting to them has been easiest for me at the moment.  Fire, and its connection to the heart and home, has also been significant to me.

Day 22: Self-Purification

Ahhh… that first shower after moving was certainly purifying.

Day 23: Book of Shadows/Grimoire

As I packed and unpacked, I rediscovered my first grimoire.  My first boyfriend gave me the journal for my birthday, and I filled that book with what I studied and my own illustrations.  It’s a beautiful piece that I treasure.  I haven’t updated my current grimoire.  I really should…

Day 24: Sabbats

I’ve been talking with my grove about making this the next workshop topic, specifically what our local wheel of the year is like.

Day 25: Esbats

For the last month, I’ve simply been going outside to observe and say some words.  I took note of my surroundings, trying to capture the view to memory.

Day 26: Create a sigil

Have not done this yet.  Thinking about making something to represent protection for my home…  I imagine something I could trace on my door when I leave.

Day 27: Healing

I’ve been all about self-care lately as we recover…  Tea, warm showers, chocolate…

Day 28: Magical Podcasts

I don’t listen to many, lately.  I don’t have a lot of time to devote to them.  I did listen to a lot of music while cleaning and painting, though…  My daughter and I like to dance and sing.  I don’t think she’d have patience for a podcast at this age.

Day 29: Astrology

My sun sign is Sagittarius.  I was instructed to look into my moon sign which is Aquarius.  Much to ponder…

Day 30: Make a commitment to yourself

Now that the pile of boxes is on the decline, my family and I are starting to settle.  As I returned to work and thus my routine this morning, I decided to revive my daily devotional.  I have not erected an altar yet because everything is in such a state of flux.  I’m working on a cabinet to serve such a role.  In the meantime, I simply stepped outside and poured an offering of my tea and bird seed.  I said prayers and took an omen for the day.  It felt right to start my day that way once more.

Meeting the Land

We explored a wooded trail near our new home today. It was lovely. I look forward to visiting again, especially in the autumn when it’s not so buggy. We went right down to the Indian River and said hello.  Next time I go down the trail, I need to bring a bag. So much trash. It’s a real shame. Time to form a positive relationship with a new patch of land.