A Traditional Imbolc


Skip sent this wonderful video to Muin Mound members. It shows a traditional Imbolc celebration held every year in Donegal. Listen to the bilingualism! I love seeing how the whole community gathers to honor Brighid – saint or Goddess.

Cros Bhríde from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.

Sewing Projects

I recently posted about a doll I’ve been working on. I’ve decided that she is Sif of the golden hair – the wife of Thor from Norse mythology. While researching the linen dresses and apron skirts worn by Viking women, I started to wonder about the clothing of my own hearth culture. What did the ancient Celts wear?

One of my artistic goals for the year is to make myself an outfit to wear to rituals and festivals. I started to look through SCA resources and found some good sites with a lot of helpful information. I ordered some cream colored linen and some green flannel wool to make a léine and a brat respectively. I’m really excited about this project! It also gives me a good excuse to study embroidery to decorate the léine.

Eee! I can’t wait until my fabric arrives!

Diana Paxson on Animal Spirits

“Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse are the heirs of Br’er Rabbit and Anansi. We give our children toy ducks to protect them in the bath, and Teddy Bears to ward their sleep. When small, my grandchildren were guarded by a tattered toy in the shape of a bear that belonged to their great-grandmother when she was a girl.

“I have vivid memories of an afternoon in the Cornish town of Padstow, when a friend and I watched the procession of the Padstow “Hobby Horse.” This is a stylized horse-shaped construction that has been carried through the streets to bless the town every May 1 for centuries. We listened to a young man from the procession explain very seriously to his young son why the “‘Oss” was more powerful than Spiderman. We have been conditioned to believe in and trust our animal helpers since we were very small.

“In animals, we see the wisdom that comes from an unbroken connection with nature and the innocence of beings uncorrupted by the human world. We relate to them in a visceral and preverbal way that bypasses conscious inhibitions. By developing your connections with the animal powers, you expand your capacities without losing the advantages of living in the human world…”

Page 99 of Trance-Portation.

MVPN – It’s Official

Why am I, the self-titled “North Country Pagan,” so interested in what is going on with the Utica Pagan community? I still consider it my home, albeit a distant one now. I found my path in Utica and I made spiritual ties in Utica. My tribe is very much in the Mohawk Valley.

Today, the council of MVPN released an official statement about the future of MVPN*.

Although I am supportive and understanding of this move, change is sometimes hard to swallow. Perhaps it is that, despite my growing fondness of and involvement in ADF, I still feel isolated in Northern NY. As far as I know, I’m the only ADF druid up here. I’ve heard of some people calling themselves druids, but from what I can tell they are really Wiccan. No CRs, no ADFers, no Keltrians… Not even any OBODies as far as I can tell. That’s what I would want, I guess – Druids attached to a tradition I understand, one that is even a little CR in nature. So, back to my original point, perhaps I am simply wishing that I could have a more path-specific group closer to my new home. I am happy for my Wiccan friends, but also a little envious.

Right now, the plan seems to be for my husband and I to stay put for a couple years. If everything continues to go well where I work, we will possibly move closer to Watertown. This would mean more of a commute to my job, but we would be closer to everything else – my husband’s job, shopping centers, a big library, a theater, etc… And ultimately closer to Syracuse, home of Muin Mound, the grove I attend. Where I currently live adds an additional 30ish minutes of driving to and from Syracuse. Oh, how I wish the government would hurry up and build high-speed public trains…

To my Wiccan friends in the Mohawk Valley – I wish you the best of luck and the most sincere wish that this new group you are forming is spiritually satisfying to you. I also hope that I am welcome to join you from time to time in the spirit of friendship and a mutual wish to celebrate the turning of the wheel with you. Although we walk different Pagan paths, you are still my brothers and sisters. Kindreds bless you all.

*For my friends on Live Journal: http://mvpn.yuku.com/topic/263

Rain rain rain

I mentioned in my last post that I have an ear infection. I got a prescription from the doctor and it’s helping a lot. I feel my body fighting back and feeling better bit by bit.

Last night it started to rain. When I woke up today it was still raining. Most of the snow has been washed away, just like my sickness. There’s a literary term for this… When writers link the occurrences of the natural world to their own… It’s escaping me at present…

Anyway, for some reason the rain has further invigorated me. As soon as I looked out the window, I thought “spring!” and felt some sort of emotional/chemical reaction in my being.

We are almost out of the dark half of the year. As much as I enjoy snow, it makes my heart skip a beat for soon it will be Beltaine!

Mars in Retrograde and Spirit Guides

My friend Katrina is pretty good when it comes to astrology. She and her husband have been studying it for quite some time. She brought it to my attention that Mars is in retrograde. I did a little bit of reading up about it and, apparently, this causes stagnation of projects, a lack of energy, arguments, and illness. I have been feeling so out of it recently. Earlier this week I had an upset stomach. By the weekend I had an ear infection and a fever. Goodness gracious – early March, hurry it up!

In other news, I’ve moved on in Paxson’s book Trance-Portation. Before I became so dreadfully ill this weekend, I started to revisit my spirit guides. “Revisit” should tell you that I’ve done work with them before. Now, spirit guides, animal totems, or whatever you want to call them have a nasty New Age reputation. For good reason! It’s an easy meditation that newbies can do and is usually one of the first trance exercises introduced to people in self-help type circles. Just think of that scene in “Fight Club” where the lead character has a vision of a penguin who tells him “slide.” Things like that make it seem very ridiculous, but I think it can be approached in deeper, more fulfilling ways than is portrayed by the media. I find myself agreeing with Paxson’s sentiment – regardless of whether or not we create the spirit guides with our own unconsciousness, they can be helpful in communicating with that side of our being. Think of them as the adult imaginary friends if you want. And cultures all over the world have legends about meeting animals on heroic journeys. My own hearth culture is filled with sacred prohibitions and bonds (gease) with dogs and birds. There are cats guarding treasures and otherworldly entrances. There are salmon full of knowledge and magical deer. As myth can be a symbol for the heroic journey we must take internally from time to time, I find no problem with meeting spirit guides in an Indo-European context. Just ask my friend Dubhlainn who recently had a very powerful spiritual experience with a blue heron.

So I’ve started to interact with my spirit guides again. The first time I did such an exercise, I met a dove. I’ve never seen that creature since. The one creature who has had staying power is the lynx. The last two times I called out on my inner journeys, I met … a beaver. It was quite unexpected, let me tell you, but he has prodded me both times with messages about productivity, creating, and rebuilding. I’m starting to wonder if it has something to do with my house… I really should get around to making curtains…

The lynx showed up as well. I don’t know the beaver’s name, but the lynx gave me one. Only… it’s not in English. It has something to do with wind and grass. I feel a comfort that the lynx is still there. The appearance of a beaver in my mental landscape adds to the population of North America, specifically NY, fauna.

Eating Local

Eating local has become an important goal for me. My husband and I watched Food Inc. I had been meaning to watch it for months but …oh you know how that goes. Anyway, it was really well-done. Much was not a surprise or I already knew about it, but there were plenty of “woah” moments for me. Those who know me know that my husband and I are vegetarians for environmental and ethical reasons. I often think I’m a bit more liberal about it than my husband in that I’m always quick to tell people that I’m not anti-hunting or against small, sustainable, humane meat farms. A lot of people expect a barrage of anti-meat talk from me and, though I do consider vegetarianism to be one of the best environmental approaches at the moment, I understand that some people really don’t want to or, in some cases, physically can’t. Long story short, this documentary isn’t anti-meat – it’s anti-factory farming and anti-fast food. There were very few gory scenes of slaughter if any at all. There was definitely some footage of the animals’ living conditions (toned down – most factory farms won’t let just anyone wander in) and some food processing footage. So “icky scenes” shouldn’t be a concern.

Anyway, the movie reinvigorated my desire to eat locally. As much as I miss my old stomping ground, there are an abundant number of small, local farms who participate in markets and will sell you meat, eggs, and, in some rare cases, milk from their own cows.

But it’s getting to be the end of January! It’s cold! What could possibly be in season right now?

Well, according to Sustainable Table there are several things! All thanks to “hothouses” and storage, apples, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips, and winter squash are in season. That’s a lot of stew and soup! And mixed with dried legumes…. mmmm!

First Contact

When I moved to the North Country I started to poke around Witcvox’s directory to see who was around here. I do so every few weeks out of boredom and, sometimes, loneliness. I soon became aware of a shop called Moontide in Watertown. My work schedule and unfamiliarity with the area made it difficult for me to find. A few days ago, my husband and I explored an indoor shopping area and, lo and behold, there was Moontide.

The owner, who struck me as an intensely new agey but kind-hearted individual, dedicates half of her store to crystals, incense, and various New Age and Pagan knick knacks. The other half is full of romantic, vampiric clothing. I must admit, I want to go back and try some things on. I like ruffled blouses and long flowing skirts.

I bought a few small boxes of incense to replenish my supply, including dragon blood, a favorite of mine. I also engaged in small talk about the community and how we were new to it. She seemed glad that I didn’t complain about the snow.

I asked her about CUUPs and, while she hasn’t been in awhile, she recommends that I check it out. I got the impression that it is full of Wiccans which really isn’t a surprise. Either that or she isn’t aware that not all Pagans are Wiccan.

Anyway, that was my first venture into the local Pagan culture. There is a CUUPs meeting on Tuesday but I’m feeling under the weather today. I may not feel up to going. You may think that’s just another excuse for me to avoid socializing, but really, I do feel quite ill. Although… I must admit I’m wondering if I really should go. The very active ADF chats have been keeping me quite happy recently…

Prepping for Imbolc: Part 2

I’m not finished with it yet, but here is a photo of the Brighid cross project I’m working on.

The pattern on the brown/gold fabric may not be the best for the project but I’m determined to see it through and perhaps add some embroider to embellish it. I usually don’t do things like this – appliqué and quilt techniques are new for me.

And here’s a photo of my Brigihd altar so far. This isn’t anything Imbolc specific – I’ve been adding to it since moving here. It’s situated over my stove for obvious reasons. I do my flame keeping here.