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I do consider Samhain to be the beginning of my spiritual year, but I also cannot deny the status quo in regards to modern society.  Generations have looked to the point between December and January as the threshold to a new year and the continual existence of all. I can’t deny the power associated with such a movement, even if I don’t always observe it with much excitement.  Last year I spent it quietly with my husband.  We relaxed.  This year, I’ll likely spend it helping my sister move and then celebrating with some of my tribe.

Another thing I want to do is clean my home as best as I can.  Many people believe that what you do at the end of the old year will follow you into the new year, and that we should strive to surround ourselves with the qualities we want to fill our lives with.  I want my apartment to be cleaner and I want to take more time making it thus.  I spent some time today cleaning and organizing the kitchen.  There is still work to be done but it’s slowly getting better and more user-friendly.

I also find myself looking forward to the green half of the year.  With the Winter Solstice pretty much over (I plan to take my decorations down on the 6th.  There’s an old Irish belief that it’s unlucky to do so before or after.), I find myself excited for Beltaine.  I feel a bit bad about that since I don’t feel as giddy over the next high day, Imbolc, which is sacred to my blessed Lady Brighid, but to me that’s more of a quiet holiday for counting one’s blessings.  The Spring Equinox has never been that festive to me either.  Beltaine, though, is another story completely.  The ground will finally be completely or in the process of thawing.  The leaves will be blossoming and the robins will assuredly be back by then.  It is when my grove erects a May Pole and we dance about it to provoke the Earth Mother into fecundity.  It is a flirtatious and celebratory time!  I find myself excitedly looking through seed catalogs and humming Jonathan Coulton’s “First of May”…

This time of year is also when I find myself a new calendar.  This year I am going to use  The Artisans Guild of Ár nDraíocht Féin 2011 Calendar.  It supports the guild I belong to and features the work of several amazing Pagan artists – including a couple of my dolls!

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Brighid: My Muse

By Grey Catsidhe

6/24/10

 

Ever since I felt myself welcomed at the hearth fires of the Tuatha Dé Danann, one Goddess has stood out as a kind of mother figure and muse to my heart – Brighid.  She was a popular Goddess in the past and remains so in the present.  This should hardly be surprising as she presides over a plethora of important activities including the arts.  For this reason, she is the perfect muse as I explore the path of the artist.

Many Celtic tribes honored Brighid (also known as Brigit, Brigid, Brig, Brigantia, and other names).  She was so beloved that she was Christianized in the form of St. Brigit who presided over the abbey in Kildare (Cill Dara) where her sacred fires burn in her memory (Duinn 16).  The Goddess and saint also share a feast day, Imbolc, which falls on February 1st and is a celebration of fertility as demonstrated by the agricultural rituals that take place then (19-30).  She was equated to the Roman Goddess Minerva by Caesar, and was worshiped by poets, metal smiths, and musicians (Markale 275).  Furthermore, she is considered a patroness of healing, arts and crafts in general, and even divination (Ellis 103).

I used to be a bit confused by her strong presence in my life.  There is such emphasis on her blacksmithing skills.  I am a seamstress and fiber artist by nature.  Was Brighid really a good muse for me, or was I trying too hard to make her a Goddess of all arts and crafts?  My research concludes that Brighid is indeed a patroness of many arts, including fiber arts.

In some parts of Ireland, people claimed that, traditionally, one was not supposed to perform any work involving a wheel on Imbolc.  The household spinning wheel was dismantled and put away on the eve of the celebration.  In fact, one man, Seán Segersiúin from Killarney, claims that people believed Brighid had first taught women the art of turning wool into clothing (Duinn 177).  This belief is backed up by the folk tradition of girls making miniature spinning wheels out of reeds to help men divine their future brides on Imbolc – Brighid’s holy day (194).  Furthermore, there is evidence that Imbolc, “was celebrated when the first sign of milk was observed in the ewes, and the newborn lambs, harbingers of spring, were ready to suckle” (Ellison 113).  This connection to sheep, in my opinion, solidifies Brighid’s place as a patroness of spinning, dying, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and, ultimately, sewing. Caesar’s comparison of Brighid to Minerva, a Roman Goddess known for weaving, provides further evidence for the argument.  Additionally, when considering the other “womanly” chores Brighid is associated with, including presiding over childbirth (Sjoestedt 25), it makes sense to include what are traditionally considered as “feminine arts” to be within her influence.

Fabric in general plays an important role in Brighid’s rites.  It was believed that Brighid would visit households on or around Imbolc.  Families often left fabric outside which they believed would be blessed by Brighid’s otherworldly powers.  The brat Bhríde (Bride’s mantle), as it was called, then acted as a charm of protection or as a treatment for illness (Duinn 26).  Instead of putting out a large piece of cloth, some people left ribbons or handkerchiefs outside for similar blessings (35).  Brighid played such an important role in the health and prosperity of the people.  It is understandable why fabric would take a large role in her rites as well.  Fabric warms people and helps keep them comforted during the coldest parts of the year.   As Brighid is already associated with health and warmth, fabric becomes an extension of those qualities.

There are other crafts associated with Brighid as well.  The weaving of Brighid crosses is a well-known tradition that is still observed in parts of Ireland.  It was believed that they helped to protect a home from storms and terrible winds (Duinn 108) and I have met many present day Pagans who insist they are charms against house fires.  Historically, the crosses were also helpful in crop and dairy fertility (128-129).   Crosses are not the only traditional Imbolc craft.   In many villages, “girls of the townland fashion[ed] a sheaf of corn into the likeness of a woman. They dress[ed] and deck[ed] the figure with shining shells, sparkling crystals, primroses, snowdrops, and any greenery they may [have] obtain[ed]” (Carmichael 166).  Clearly, one of the best ways to honor this Goddess is through creating art.

As stated, I am a fiber artist.  I have practiced such crafts as sewing, knitting, crocheting, and weaving since I was very little.  They are an important part of my life and my religious expression.  Discovering the influence Brighid has over fabric made a lot of sense to me.  I was no longer confused as to why she continually whispered inspirations into my ear or why she seemed to smile at me from beyond the veil as I toiled away at my sewing machine.  I now truly believe that Brighid’s talents are so varied that any artists can seek her aid and inspiration so long as they honor her in their work.

When Brighid’s influence in my life first became apparent, I was not sure how to thank her.  I said a word or two to her in my daily devotionals, but it somehow didn’t seem like enough.  As she is multi-talented, I felt her even when I wasn’t crafting.  I felt the need to honor her exclusively at certain times.  Luckily, I wasn’t alone in this calling.  Other Druids in ADF called out for a flame keeping SIG.  Through its formation, we devotees of Brighid follow in the steps of our predecessors from Kildare and light a flame in her name on certain nights each month.  This was a powerful way to grow closer to my muse and inspired me to go a step further.

I firmly believe that Brighid somehow influences every creative idea I have.  I feel that she is a spirit of inspiration and that she provides me with topics to explore.  I then add my own ideas to them and seek her guidance throughout the process.  When I am in the midst of art, I feel as if I am having a conversation with my Goddess.  I felt that, due to such collaboration, she deserved more than what I was giving her.  After all, crafting is one of my greatest sources of happiness!  Such a blessing should be celebrated tenfold!

Based on my flame keeping practices, I developed a short ritual that I perform when involved in my creativity.  I usually light a candle when keeping Brighid’s flame.  To thank her for the imbas, the divine inspiration in my head, I usually light her a stick of incense.  I say words of thanks and ask that I bring her honor “in all I say and do.”

Brighid is a Goddess with many talents.  Her influence is vast and my UPG tells me that she is willing to work with anyone as long as they honor her for her blessings.  Brighid is my muse and I will strive to learn more about her and admire her as I explore the ways of the Druid artisan.

 

 

Works Cited

Carmichael, Alexander.  Carmina Gadelica.  1900.  Sacred Texts. .   4 June 2010.

<http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg1/index.htm&gt;

Ellis, Peter Berresford.  A Brief History of the Druids.  New York: Carroll & Graf, 2002.

Ellison, Rev. Robert Lee (Skip).  The Solitary Druid.  New York: Kensington

Publishing Corp., 2005.

Markale, Jean.  The Celts Uncovering the Mythic and Historic Origins of Western

Culture.  Trans. C. Hauch.  Rochester: Inner Traditions International, 1978

Ó Duinn, Seán.  The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint. Dublin: Columba Press, 2005.

Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise.  Celtic Godsand Heroes.  Mineola: Dover Publications Inc.,

2000.

 

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As part of the Art Guild study program requirements, I am to choose two mediums to focus on.  It was suggested they should force me to focus on different dimensions, brain power, and physical movements.  Choosing a first medium was effortless.  Deciding on a second was a little more challenging, but I think I have found something that will prove helpful and complimentary to my studies.

I’ve been sewing since I was four or five. When I was younger it was my mother who first taught me how to thread a needle and do a basic stitch.  I made a pillow and, quite ambitiously, declared that we should call the local museum and ask about submitting it for their exhibit.  I still have the ratty pillow as a reminder of how proud sewing has always made me, and how a simple craft can inspire me to reach for the stars.  As I’ve grown, I’ve explored other fiber arts such as knitting, crochet, and embroidery.  Textiles is my medium of choice and I’m filled with such joy and purpose whenever I’m engaged in it.  Of course there are frustrating moments – jammed bobbins, uneven seams, knots, misread patterns – but the end product and the feeling of having created something beautiful, unique, and, possibly, useful is so fulfilling.  I am excited that the Artisan Guild study program exists as it gives me an excuse to further explore my favorite craft and how it can become a greater expression of my spirituality.

Choosing a second medium to focus on in the art guild has been a challenge.  There are many arts I would love to learn about  – many of which would compliment my sewing.  At first I thought about sculpting, an art I’ve had experience in and would like to pursue once more.  Jewelry making was also something I considered.  Each would help me create more involved dolls and costume accessories.  When I discussed this with a fellow artist and ADF member, she suggested to me that, although they would be helpful to my sewing, they were three-dimensional mediums and that I am already engaged in such a process when creating dolls and clothing.  I am basically sculpting with fabric when I create my dolls or costumes.

Thinking along these lines, I decided to revisit drawing.  I studied art all through public school and even took a drawing class in college.  Although never a blue ribbon artist, I did develop an understanding and enjoyment for drawing.  I’m proud of some of the pieces I completed.

Although sculpting and jewelry making are obvious compliments to doll making and costuming, drawing will be just as helpful.  Having focused more on textiles than anything else, the drawing skills that were so practiced in high school have suffered.  I would like to practice more so as to be better able to sketch designs for dolls and costumes.  Learning more about perspective and proportions will help me perfect my understanding of anatomy – an important aspect of dolls and costume design!

 

Will you be able to take classes at a local art center?

 

Although I’ve had several years of experience, I realize that I have much to learn and that I have many areas to improve upon.  I was lucky to have both a mother and a father who sewed.  I learned a lot from them and a few other family members.  As I grew I started looking at books for further inspiration and technique.  In college I was blessed to meet a fellow sewing enthusiast who shared some of her own tricks with me.  Now I’m an adult, moved away from home, and living in a new town in Northern NY, far from my old teachers and peers.  I am left on my own with my books, websites, and how-to internet videos.   That said, I’ve recently learned about the Thousand Island Arts Center and it seems like just what the proverbial doctor ordered. Although their website is being reconfigured and their classes have yet to be updated, last year there were courses on weaving, spinning, quilt making, pattern drafting, and all manner of traditional arts. Quilting, weaving, and spinning are skills I would love to learn about, and taking any classes would undoubtedly provide me with an opportunity to perfect my skills under master teachers.

As stated, I’ve already taken plenty of drawing classes throughout my educational history. I’m definitely not close-minded to taking more!  Should I see a class that focuses on a skill I feel lacking in, I would be inclined to take it.  I believe I already have an understanding for the basics that most introductory classes present, and that I would most benefit from workshops focusing on a certain area such as portraits, figure drawing, or landscaping.  I would also like to learn how to better use the materials.  As with sewing, the Thousand Island Arts Center has offered pertinent classes in the past and I look forward to seeing their updated calendar for possible consideration.


Will you need to use well-illustrated how-to books and the rigorous school of trial and error?

 

I’m hopeful that the art center will update its website and class information soon.  In the meantime I have to rely on tutorials, trial and error, and my own tenacious creativity. It’s part of the game, I suppose. Luckily I already have some wonderful books that can help me with the more technical annoyances of sewing such as the Signer Sewing Book by Jessie Hutton and Gladys Cunningham.  It’s old but full of useful information.  I would like to find books on spinning and natural dying.

I am definitely opened to using books to better understand certain drawing techniques.  I think well-illustrated books would be especially helpful with anatomy.  Otherwise I will rely on trial and error to perfect my shading, perspective, and other such skills.
How available, affordable and sustainable are the materials you will need?

I already have many tools. My husband recently revived my old sewing machine, and my father fixed another that will arrive at my home sooner or later. I also do a lot of hand stitching lately which is, I’m sure, more sustainable than using electricity.   I have various sized crochet hooks and knitting needles.  I like to buy fabric and thread from garage sales and second hand stores. I also like to recycle clothing and scraps. Unfortunately this doesn’t always meet my needs and I do buy a lot of fabric and other materials from art and craft stores. I try to research sustainable and organic materials but, unfortunately, many of them are a bit too expensive for me at the moment.

 

Some more sustainable and affordable materials have crossed my radar recently. I’ve noticed more felt made of recycled plastic for example. There are also some recycled buttons. I’ve found a few skeins of organic/bamboo yarn.

Luckily, as long as I can find thread and keep my needles straight, I will be able to sew. There are always scraps around.  Plastic bags can be turned into “plarn” for knitting or crochet. I would love to learn how to spin wool and eventually weave my own fabric. In Northern NY, there seem to be plenty of sheep and alpaca farmers with homespun wool for purchasing.

I am lucky to have a couple craft stores in the nearby city of Watertown, NY, one of which has a plethora of drawing materials.  In addition, the city of Syracuse, NY, which is about an hour and a half away from my home, has an amazing art supply store with even more materials.  There are plenty of graphite and charcoal pencils, watercolor pencils, and inks for my use.  The art store in Syracuse has an amazing selection of canvases and specialty paper should I ever feel so inclined.

 

I recently purchased some watercolor pencils and noticed that some brands guarantee that the wood did not come from rain forests.  I favor those brands as deforestation is a very real problem and I want to do all in my power not to contribute to it.  I am not aware of where the pigment comes from, but this is something I would love to learn more about.  I know that some drawing paper is recycled and I would prefer to purchase this should I find it.

 

Is there anyone in your community who can serve as a resource for you?

The Art Center I mentioned before will, I hope, become a resource. There are also bound to be other local artisans I have yet to meet. Within my own tribe there are plenty of crafty, needle-happy people. My friend Parallax is an accomplished seamstress who also has a degree in art. My mother and father are both talented and are my original sewing teachers. My aunt used to make her own clothing. My husband also studied some art in school.  Although he focused on photography, he has a keen eye for detail and notices when things don’t seem quite right.  In addition, my sister, Sara, her fiancé, Trevor, and my grandmother are all artistic.  My sister and her fiancé majored in art and are rarely seen without a sketchpad.  Sara focuses on interior designs and Trevor’s interest is character design.  My grandmother, though mostly a painter, always starts with a sketch.  These people will be the first I turn to for suggestions and help.  If that fails, there is also the internet with its many tutorials and forums.

Are there opportunities to work and learn collectively with other novices?

Should the Art Center offer more classes, then yes.  I also have my eye on local colleges as many have non-credit classes open to the community and there have been quilting or fiber arts classes offered before.

What kind of assistance or advice will you want/need from the Artisan Guild, if any?

I would expect the guild to be a community of learners at various levels of expertise. I would love to bounce ideas off others and receive honest feedback as well as encouragement. I am always open to advice and help.

By Grey Catsidhe 3/22/10

 

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IP Letter of Intent

1)   What draws you to the path of Initiation within ADF?

 

When I stumbled upon ADF it was during a time that I felt I was in a sort of spiritual limbo.  I knew that Paganism was the right place for me but the generality of the term was not enough.  I had left Wicca due to academic dissatisfaction.  After finding ADF, I thought about its message for several months before joining, and even then I waited several more before seriously starting the Dedicant Program.  I didn’t want to jump in – I wanted to wait and make sure that this was right for me.  The more I meditated on it, the more I realized how right it felt.  I recognized a calling from the ancestors and the Old Ones of Ireland.  I began my journey through study and, even before I had finished the Dedicant Program, I knew that I would want more.

Once I completed that first step I took some time off from academics and essay writing to accomplish a few other things in life and to think about what I wanted next in my Druidic studies.  I did not want to jump into anything I wasn’t truly called to.

After a lot of deep thought I came to the conclusion that I should take a serious step towards greater involvement and greater knowledge of the Kindreds.  Although I am a Dedicant I realize that there are many things left to learn.  The Dedicant Program has helped me find a home within ADF and I am beginning to satisfy the academic side of spirituality I so craved.  However that was only the beginning of my journey and I am aware of my weaknesses.  I find myself desirous of improvement, especially in regards to the spiritual side of religion – the mysticism.  I realized that, having dedicated myself to this religion, it is important for me to continue learning, growing, and improving myself.  Druidism has become so important to my life that I want to show my elders and the Kindreds my commitment to its beauty.  I feel that taking the path of initiation will help me to grow, learn, and give back to the Kindreds and my community.

 

2)   What does being an Initiate mean to you?

 

 

Being an Initiate means that I am committed to Druidism and to the Kindreds.  It means that I have a desire to learn more.  It means that I seek inner improvement.   As an Initiate, I would take the lessons I learned and, to the best of my capabilities, give back to others.  This brings me to community.  Taking this step towards greater involvement means that I will grow in intimacy with my spiritual community, especially in fellowship with others who are working to develop a modern, Druidic “current.”

 

3)    What services do you hope to provide to your community with this training?

 

I am hopeful to provide for my community in many ways.  I recently started to become more involved with ADF.  I have submitted a few pieces to Tribeways and am now an editor for Oak Leaves.  It is my hope to contribute more to these valuable publications and I have no doubt that my work in the Initiate Study Program will inspire me to produce essays fit for sharing with others.

In addition to producing more material for ADF, I am interested in taking on more responsibilities within my grove and providing more support for the senior Druid.  When I first began attending Muin Mound I was very quiet.  After awhile, I was invited to participate in ritual in small ways.  When I completed my DP, Skip encouraged me to call to the Gods in ritual.  I felt honored to be asked and, once I had done it, I found myself feeling closer to the Kindreds and to the grove.  I would like to do more and feel that further study would help me.  Practice with trance and meditation would aid me in leading the Two Powers.  Divinatory studies would give me confidence to take omens.  Perhaps one day I will even lead a ritual for the grove.

Finally, I am opening up to the idea of teaching.  Although I know that I will always be a student, I have found a confidence in myself and recognize that I do have knowledge and skills.  As I am a teacher in a public school, teaching is part of my identity.  I enjoy doing it and would be open to helping others complete their Dedicant Programs, and perhaps lead workshops at festivals. Perhaps one day I will even become clergy.  Becoming an initiate would help me refine my studies and skills so that I would be better prepared to help others in these ways.

 

~Grey Catsidhe 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ásatrú Alliance of Independent Kindreds, The.  “2257 Runic Era Calendar Feast Days and Days

of Observance.”  The Ásatrú Alliance. 18 Jun. 2008  < http://www.asatru.org/ >.

Clifton, Chas S.  Her Hidden Children The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America.  Lanham:

AltaMira Press, 2006.

Ellis, Peter Berresford.  A Brief History of the Druids. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers,

2003.

Ellison, Robert Lee.  The Solitary Druid.  Kensington Publishing Corp.  New York, NY.  2005.

Freeman, Mara.  Kindling the Celtic Spirit. Harper Collins. New York, NY.  2000.

Hutton, Ronald.  The Stations of the Sun A History of the Ritual Year in Britain.  Oxford

University Press, Oxford.  1996.

Johnson, Helen Sewell.  “November Eve Beliefs and Customs in Irish Life and

Literature.”  The Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 81, No. 320.  1968.

Jones, Prudence, and Nigel Pennick.  A History of Pagan Europe.  New York: Barnes & Noble,

1995.

Mac an tSaoir, Iain.  “Samhain.”  Clannada na Gadelica. 1999-2007.  18 Jun. 2008

<  http://www.clannada.org/bof_samhain.php >.

Markale, Jean.  The Epics of Celtic Ireland. Inner Traditions International.  Rochester,      Vermont.  2000.

Rolleston, T.W.  Celtic Myths and Legends. Dover Publications, NY.  1990.

Thesmophoria.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 18 Jun. 2008

<http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/591846/Thesmophoria>.

 

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I sat down with the intent to write out the script for my Dedicant Oath Rite a few months ago, after I finished a final book review, but the timing didn’t feel right.  I wasn’t motivated to do it.  I’m not sure why, but I’m sure it had something to do with college.  I also think that I simply wasn’t ready for it.  I needed to go through a period of introspection to make sure that I really wanted to pursue this path and I’m glad that I gave myself that time.  It made the ritual all the more meaningful because I decided that, yes, Druidism is the path for me.

The real push for me to finally perform the ritual was the discovery of a ring.  I had read about a few other Dedicants using rings as symbols of their oath and I really liked the idea.  I never remove my rings and it would therefore be the perfect way for me to display my devotion to the Old Ways and have a continual reminder of my oath.  It took me awhile to find exactly what I was looking for, but when I found it I knew that the time to finish my Dedicant Program had come.  The ring suited my path perfectly.  In the center is a spiral.  Spirals have always felt significant to me – they’re symbols of the cycle of life, the turning of the seasons, and the movements of celestial bodies.  On either side of the spiral is a triquetra, another important symbol to me as it represents the sacred three that show up again and again in my hearth culture’s lore.  I’m naturally drawn to these symbols and their existence together in one ring was perfect for my spiritual expression.

After acquiring the ring and finishing the script, I set about making offerings.  As an artistic person, it was important for me to make the offerings given to my patrons.  For the Winter Solstice I had made my mother a pendant out of clay.  I decided to make similar charms for my patrons Brighid and An Dagda.  One side of Brighid’s pendant is decorated with a triple spiral to symbolize her triple nature.  The other side has a flame as I have been participating in a flame keeping group for the past year and her association with fire has become important to me.  An Dagda’s charm is decorated with his club of death and rebirth on one side, and his cauldron of abundance on the other.

I decided to perform the Dedicant Oath Rite on Tuesday January 6th 2009.  It was the perfect evening for the occasion as my fiancé was at work, leaving me alone.  I wouldn’t have to worry about disturbing him or being disturbed. After I came home from work and did some cleaning, I printed out a copy of my script and set about preparing for the ritual.  First I gathered all of my offerings and made sure everything was on or near my altar.  I then took a cleansing shower all the while focusing on purification.  After the shower I put on a ritual robe.  I’ve never worn a ritual robe for my home rituals and it made the occasion all the more significant.  Before officially starting my rite I lit several candles throughout the room, further purified myself with incense, and shut the lights off.

My ritual began nicely.  I processed into the room with my altar, circled the ritual space, and stated my purpose.  As I began, a horn sounded and some red lights flashed outside.  I stopped and starred, unsure of what was going on and whether or not I should continue.  The lights weren’t going anywhere – they continued to flash an obnoxious red that rivaled the comfortable glow of the candles I had lit.  Confident of the fact that I could enter and exit my ritual space with comfort, I peeked out of a window and noticed that a policeman had pulled someone over.  Annoyed at having been disturbed, I returned to my altar and took a few breaths before resuming.  I was just at the point where I had to acknowledge the Outsiders.  To my amusement and surprise, I had placed the offering bowl in the same direction as the scene outside.  I felt that the Outsiders were really making themselves known before the ritual.  I gave them an offering of beer, asked for peace, and everything else went really well!  If the Outsiders wanted to make me nervous and edgy before my ritual, they certainly accomplished it!

Although I had written everything ahead of time, speaking the words aloud to the Kindreds was a powerful experience – one that I’m not used to.  I usually perform my rituals from memory and let my words come naturally. Sometimes I get caught up in the structure of the ritual and so I fumble for words.  That didn’t happen this time.  The script allowed me to focus on the words I had written specifically for this day without getting nervous or frustrated.  I did, however, perform the Two Powers meditation from memory without a script.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a longer or more fulfilling Two Powers meditation.  After the disturbance from the police lights, the meditation allowed me to really relax and let go of my anxiety.  I felt myself grow calm in the flow of Earth and Sky energy.  I must have sat there for several minutes just basking in it.

After I made the offerings I took an omen using ogham.  The Nature Spirits and Ancestors emphasized the natural world and rebirth through Yew and Gooseberry.  It made sense considering the purpose of the ritual.  This rite marked a transition, a rebirth into my spirituality, and as a follower of Druidism I am to be more concerned with the natural world than the average person.  From the Gods I received the Oak ogham, symbolic of strength and wisdom. This seemed like a positive omen considering that Druids strive for both attributes.

Following the omen I made my oath.  Declaring my promise to stay true to the Kindreds and the Old Ways, I placed the ring on the longest finger of my dominant hand.  While I won’t say that I felt a grand transformation, I honestly did feel that I was entering a new phase of my spirituality.  When the ritual had finished, I felt as if I could call myself a Druid for the first time.  Prior to the Dedicant Rite, I always felt that I didn’t have enough experience.  Now that I’ve finished my Dedicant Program, and considering that I’ll be graduating from college in the Spring, I feel that I’ve gained enough wisdom and experience to place myself within the ranks of Druids.  I know that I’m only a young Druid with much to learn, but I finally feel prepared to be a part of that learning experience.  I left my altar feeling proud of myself, at peace, and absolutely at home within my spirituality.  The words I sang as I processed to my altar echoed in my head with renewed significance: “We have come home.”

 

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Preparation:

Offerings to gather:

Earth Mother: herbs

Outdwellers: beer (to be placed in a separate bowl)

Earth: salt

Sea: water

Sky: incense

Manannan (Gatekeeper): beer

Nature Spirits: bird seed

Ancestors: fruit (apples?)

Gods: Whiskey

Brighid: Token I made

An Dagda: Token I made

Return offerings: Oil

Additional Needs:

Ogham for the omen

Wine for the return flow

A ring for the oath

Before the Ritual: I will purify myself with water and incense.

  1. Processional

We Approach The Sacred Grove

(Words and music by Sean Miller)

We approach the Sacred Grove
With hearts and minds and flesh and bone
Join us now in ways of old
We have come home.

2.      Opening Prayer / Statement of Purpose

I am here today to honor the Kindreds and to make an oath to the ways of Druidism, Irish polytheism, the Old Ways, and the Old Gods.

  1. Purification

[Prayer and offering to be made in the south where an offering bowl will be placed]

Outdwellers!  Powers of chaos!  Although I recognize your purpose in the world, I desire peace for my ritual.  I respectfully ask that you leave me and my rite in peace.  Please accept this beer and let us be.

  1. Honoring the Earth Mother

[I will call to and honor the Earth Mother with a chant]

Earth Mother (Author Unknown)

Earth Mother, we honor your body
Earth Mother, we honor your bones
Earth Mother, we sing to your spirit
Earth Mother, we sing to your stones

[I will then give the Earth Mother a kiss.]

Earth Mother, you are the source of all life.  I am grateful for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me and I give you this offering of herbs in thanks.  Earth mother, I honor you!

 

  1. (Re)Creating the Cosmos
    • Establish the Sacred Center

[This will be done with the Two Powers meditation.  I will speak it aloud.]

    • Acknowledge the three realms

May the Earth not open up and swallow us! [Chanted while an offering of salt is given.]

May the Seas not rise up and drown us! [Chanted while an offering of water is given.]

May the Sky not fall down upon us! [Chanted while an offering of incense is given.]

 

    • Establishing the Vertical Axis:

[I will chant and make the offerings simultaneously.]

Portal Song (Words by Ian Corrigan) –

Come we now to the well
The eye and the mouth of earth
Come we now to the well
And silver we bring
Come we now to the well
The waters of rebirth
Come we now to the well
Together we sing

Chorus:
By fire and by water between the earth and sky
We stand like the world tree ,
Rooted deep, crowned high
By fire and by water between the earth and sky
We stand like the world tree ,
Rooted deep, crowned high

We will kindle a fire
Bless, all and with harm to none
We will kindle a fire
And offering pour
We will kindle a fire
A light ‘neath the moon and sun
We will kindle a fire
Our spirits will soar

Chorus

Gather we at the tree
The root and the crown of all
Gather we at the tree
Below and above
Gather we at the tree
Together we make our call
Gather we at the tree
In wisdom and love

Chorus

 

  1. Opening the Gates

[I will call to Manannan Mac Lir as Gatekeeper.]

I call to Manannan Mac Lir, he who walks between the worlds!  He who rides the waves like horses!  He whose cloak separates the realms!

Manannan, I humbly ask that you allow me to reach the Other World so that I may make offerings and give honor to the Kindreds.  Please protect me as I walk the path and aid me in my rite!  I give you this offering of beer to thank you for your help.

Manannan Mac Lir, I ask that you join your magic with mine, and when our magic is joined: let the fire open as a gate to the upper world; let the bowl open as a gate to the under world, and let the wand grow into the World Tree which connects the upper, middle, and lower worlds.

Let the Gates be open! [I will say this loudly while gesturing with my hands that the Gates have been opened.]

  1. Inviting the Three Kindreds

Nature Spirits

Nature spirits, you have always been with me.  From the beginnings of my life, you have inspired me to be creative and imitate you.  I have always wanted to be one with you, to shape shift into you.  I will forever try to channel your energy so that I can emulate you, my brothers and sisters.  I know that our relationship is imperfect, but every day I try harder to live in better harmony with you.

Please join me as I perform this oath rite.  Nature spirits, please accept this offering of bird seed.  Nature spirits, I honor you!

Triad Chant (Words by Phoenix)

Earth child, Wild one, born of the Earth
Call to us, and sing to us, creatures of the Earth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh

Ancestors

Ancient Ancestors! The more I study your homelands, the more I honor and respect you, Ancestors, and oh how I long to set my feet upon your homelands so that I can be closer to you.    Every day, I feel your old ways and thought patterns entering into my own.  I am grateful for your lessons.  Recent Ancestors!  As my connection to our older kin grows, I learn to value you more and more, especially those of you who I knew in this realm.  I know that death is not an end and that we are ever entwined.  Rest assured that I will continue to honor you, and that you will always have a bite to eat at Samhain.

Please join me as I perform this oath rite.  Ancestors, please accept this offering of fruit.  Ancestors, I honor you!

Triad Chant (Words by Phoenix)

Ancestors, Spirit, Blood, one with the Earth
Call to us, and dream with us, teach us of our worth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh

Gods

Shining Ones!  Since I was very young I have felt a connection to you.  Mighty Tuatha de Dannan, it took me awhile to find you, but your pull kept me searching.  I never gave up.  You inspired me to question the status quo, to learn, to create, and to grow as an individual.  You gave art a greater meaning, you gave love a greater meaning, and you gave life a greater meaning.  I will continue to ponder our connection all my days, but rest assured, I will never turn my back on you.  I have felt you too strongly.  Even Gods of other tribes, I have felt them too – felt their arms around me, felt their care for humanity, felt their desire for contact, and felt their existence.  Great Ones, I believe that you inspire me and bless me.  I believe that you protect me and guide me when you feel that I need it.  I believe that I am a part of your tribe in the mortal realm and that, as elders and powerful Druids, you deserve honor, respect, and love.

Please join me as I perform this oath rite.  Great ones, please accept this offering of whiskey.  Mighty Gods, I honor you!

Triad Chant (Words by Phoenix)

Shining one, wisdom filled, healers of the Earth
Call to us, and be with us, show us what we’re worth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh

  1. Offerings to my Patrons

Brighid

Brighid: Goddess of hearth, home, and healing well; Goddess of poetry, crafts, and divination – I call to you!  I invite you here to witness my oath rite.

Brighid, I feel you in the art that I create, in the food that I cook, and in poetry and song.  I feel you in fire and water.  You inspire me to create.  Every day, I strive to honor you and emulate your sacred ways. I hope that our relationship grows.  Brighid, I give you this offering in thanks for your many blessings.  Brighid, I honor you!

An Dagda

An Dagda: laughing God of magic; God of life and death; God of abundance; God of virility – I call to you!  I invite you here to witness my oath rite.

I have felt your presence much this past year.  You always seem to be watching over me, protecting a member of your mortal tribe.  I feel you when I receive gifts, in the cycles of life, and in the arms of my mate.  Every day, I strive for your attitude and humor.  Every day, I strive to honor and emulate your sacred ways.  May our connection grow.  An Dagda, I give you this offering in thanks for your many blessings.  An Dagda, I honor you!

 

  1. Omen

[I will chant while drawing ogham.  Once the ogham has been drawn, I will stop chanting and meditate on the meaning.]

Speak To Me (Words by Phoenix)

Speak to me,
Speak to me Goddesses.
Speak to me,
Speak to me all the Gods.

 

  1. Return Flow

Kindreds, I have given my gifts to you.  And as my tribe says, a gift calls for a gift.  As I have given to you, I know you will send greater blessings to me.  I am forever grateful for them.

[I will hold up a glass of wine and visualize the Kindreds who have gathered standing with me.  I will see their blessings flow into the glass.]

Behold – the waters of life!

[I will drink.]

  1. Oath

Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Gods, and Patrons: I have called you here so that you may hear this oath that I make to you.

Kindreds, I declare to you my devotion to the ways of Druidism and Irish Polytheism.  I declare myself a Pagan, a walker of the old paths, a seeker of the old knowledge.  I worship the Old Gods and honor my ancestors and the spirits of nature.  I believe in the sanctity of life and the value and spirit of Nature.  I swear to the Gods my tribe swears by  to keep the sacred ways and maintain the holy rites.

This ring symbolizes my spirituality.  In the center is the holy spiral, symbolic of the cycles of life.  From childhood through adulthood, I have always been attracted to the spiral.  I would doodle them in notebooks, spin them on the lawn, and trace them in foggy windows.  On either side of the spiral is a triquetra, a symbol of the three realms, the three Kindreds, and many other triads.

This ring is symbolic of my spirituality, and by placing it on my finger, I declare my devotion to my path. Let it be known that Grey Catsidhe is a follower of Druidism, a priestess to the Tuatha de Dannan, and a child of the Earth.

If I should ever fail you by bringing shame to my path or my tribe, may the Earth open up and swallow me, may the Sea rise up to drown me, and may the sky fall down upon me.

Kindreds, witness my devotion!

[I will place the ring on my right middle finger.  My right hand is my most used and thus I pay more attention to it.  The index finger wears a ring from my mother and my ring finger wears a birth stone from my parents.  My middle finger, as the longest finger of my most used hand, becomes a suitable seat for the symbol of my spirituality.  I will end by chanting.]

I Am Of the Earth – by Grey Catsidhe

I am of the Earth

I am of the Earth

I am of the Earth

Oh I am of the Earth…

  1. Thanking the Beings

An Dagda

An Dagda, I am grateful for your joining me.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  An Dagda, I thank you!

Brighid

Blessed Brighid, I am grateful for your presence.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Brighid, I thank you!

Shining Ones

Great Gods, I thank you for your presence today.  I hope that you enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return. Gods, I thank you!

Ancestors

Mighty Dead, I thank you for joining me.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Ancestors, I thank you!

Nature Spirits

Beings of land, sea, and sky, I thank you for joining me.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Nature spirits, I thank you!

  1. Closing the Gates

I call to you once more, Manannan Mac Lir, guardian of the veil!  I thank you for your protection and aid to me as I made my oath rite.  I hope that the offerings I made were to your liking and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil in thanks.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Manannan, I thank you!

[Offering is made.]

Manannan, son of Lir, I ask that your join your magic with mine.  When our magic is joined, let the gate to the upper world be but a candle.  Let the gate to the under world be but a bowl.  And let the tree that connects the upper, middle, and lower worlds be but a branch.  Let everything be as it once was.

Let the Gates be closed!

[The closing of the Gates will be accompanied by a hand gesture.]

  1. Thanking the Earth Mother

Earth Mother, source of life, I thank you for your blessings as you witnessed my rite.  I hope that my gifts and my oath have been acceptable.  To you, I give all remaining offerings as it is your due.  Earth Mother, I thank you!

  1. Closing the Rite

Walk With Wisdom (Words by Sable)

Walk with wisdom, from this hallowed place.
Walk not in sorrow, our roots shall ere embrace.
May strength be your brother, and honor be your friend,
And luck be your lover, until we meet again.

 

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