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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

A new book arrived for me in the mail today: Magic in the Ancient World by Fritz Graf.  It’s recommended reading for Magic 1 in ADF’s Initiate Program.  I’ve read many titles about the history and folklore of magic in Europe – mostly focusing on the north-eastern parts.  This latest book focuses on the Mediterranean world.  All I know about magic from Greece and Rome is the mythological side – the famous witches like Circe and Medea.  I’m excited to delve into it… as soon as I finish Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales by Rees and Rees towards my Indo-European Mythology class.

I’ve also been reading from my massive art history book every night.  I finished the chapter on the Egyptians a couple nights ago and am about to explore Aegean art.

Aaaaand while doing all of that, I also picked up The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring finally.  I read and immensely enjoyed The Hobbit when I was in fifth or sixth grade, and I always meant to read the trilogy…  I’m loving it so far!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Hail to Isaac!

I have a few other entries I would like to write, but today I must reflect on the passing of ADF’s beloved founder, Isaac Bonewits.

I never had the pleasure to meet him in person, but like many others in the Pagan community, I was profoundly influenced by his work.    When I was a complete novice, I understood that he was a VIP*.  It wasn’t until my friend Parallax lent me her copy of Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism that he truly inspired me.  At the time I was searching for something.  Wicca wasn’t it for me** and I was feeling a pull from my Irish ancestors.  Through his vision of modern Druidism, and the organization he founded – Ár nDraíocht Féin – I found a spiritual home.    With that came a real sense of belonging and community.  I wish I could have met him in person on this plane to thank him.

His other books I read, NeoPagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals That Work, The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters, and Drummers, and most recently Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic were all incredibly influential on my spirituality.  NeoPagan Rites facilitated my understanding of the importance of well-thought-out liturgy and the effect that good theater can have on one’s psyche.  My husband originally wanted to read The Pagan Man and, while I don’t think he got very far, I read the whole thing, reveling in the exploration of the spiritual male in a Pagan world that seems so focused on the female.  It’s probably strange for a woman to say that, but hey – I’m just as drawn to the Gods as I am to the Goddesses!  I loved that Bonewits created such an important resource for men seeking spiritual guidance within Paganism.  FinallyI picked up Real Magic at the most recent Wellspring Gathering.  As some of you may remember, I’m working though ADF’s Initiate Program, and am trying to complete Magic 1. Isaac’s first book really changed the way I thought about magic.  His exploration of magic as divided into a spectrum of skill rather than morality was especially formative for me.

One of my Live Journal friends, prophet_maid, commented on the awkwardness she feels about mourning a celebrity, and that’s very much what Isaac was/is within the Pagan community.  I never met him and yet I felt profoundly moved by his life and death.  It seems strange to mourn for someone I never met, but to those of us in ADF, he was an elder – a spiritual father, even.  He shared his vision and paved the way for us.  I can’t exactly articulate what that means to me, but it was powerful enough that I lit candles and prayed for him to my patrons.  I now consider him one of my ancestors to be honored.  As prophet_maid said of herself, Isaac shaped me into the woman I am today and that cannot be ignored.

If any of you weren’t able to participate in the rolling coins movement to help pay for his medical costs, I urge you to make a donation.  I couldn’t give much during the rolling coin drive, but I did what I could because I respect him as an elder and know how hard it is for a family when someone passes away due to cancer.  My aunt died at 40 from bone cancer, and it was an expensive ordeal, in part because she spent her last months at home with the help of Hospice.  Giving a tiny bit to his family is probably the best way to honor him as an ancestor at this point.

Isaac, I thank you for your influence and inspiration.  May you continue to guide us as an ancestor and may we honor you in all we say and do!

* “Very Important Pagan,” of course!
** Bonewits was a practicing Wiccan, I believe, and also authored a book or two on the religion.  He was actually very educated on numerous forms of Pagan religion.  


[ Photo from ADF’s website.  It was taken by Ava Francesca.]
( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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It is well known that Wiccans hold special rituals during the full and new moons.  Many Neo-Pagans and traditional witches observe certain lunar practices.  For example, some spells are thought to be more effective when performed on a specific day of the moon’s cycle.  What did the ancient Druids do and what can/do modern Druids practice?  The moon, with its dramatic and observable changes, has held spiritual significance to many cultures all over the world, yet it is not something Druids within my own tradition seem to actively explore, at least not publicly.  There are a few documented lunar rituals on the ADF website, and our founder, Isaac Bonewits, noted that some groves celebrate the phases of the moon (ADF Q&A).

I’ll begin by looking at the ancient Celts.  As always, it is important to note that we have little information on what the ancient Celts believed due to a limited amount of pre-Christian documentation.  Most of what is known comes from artifacts, the contemporary writing of antagonistic leaders or outsiders, and Christianized Celts.  Details from the last two sources, especially, must be taken with a grain of salt.

Pliny the Elder wrote about the Gaulish Druids.  His work includes the famous piece about Druids harvesting mistletoe on the 6th day of the moon (Ellis, Celts 54).  Jean Markale analyzed the symbolism of the harvest ritual, noting that the sickle used to cut the plant would have been reminiscent of the crescent moon (Markale 131).  Modern Druids from the Henge of Keltria equate this with the first quarter and celebrate the Mistletoe rite on such evenings.  They explain that “mistletoe was known as `all heal,'” and take advantage of such evenings to perform remedial ceremonies.  They have a second lunar ritual, the Vervain Rites.

Our other lunar rite is the Vervain Rite. The time of this rite was also chosen from classical descriptions of ancient Druidic practices. It was written that vervain was gathered when neither sun nor moon were in the sky. This occurs sometime during each night, except when the moon is full. We generally celebrate this around the 3rd quarter. This gives ample time for the rite during the evening hours. It also places this rite opposite the Mistletoe Rite in the lunar cycle. Vervain is said to be of aid in working magic. Thus, the Vervain Rite is our time for working magic. The purpose of magic in a Druidic sense is more like prayer. We work magic to help effect change in our lives. Druidic magic may involve contemplation, meditation, ritual or ecstatic dance (The Henge of Keltria FAQ).

Pliny’s writing aside, there is more evidence that the moon was important to the ancient Celts.  The Welsh Goddess Arianrhod may have been a lunar deity.  Some look to Proto-Celtic linguistics and argue that her name means silver wheel – an obvious reference to the moon (Wikipedia).  Others are less convinced due to the variability of her name (Mary Jones).

Cerridwen is another possible Welsh deity with lunar associations.  Etymologically speaking, her name may mean “bent white one” (Mary Jones), a possible reference to the crescent moon.  When considering the symbolism of her transformations, a lunar link could be possible.

The Coligny Calendar may be the most concrete example we have of lunar observation among the ancient Celtic tribes.

Produced before the Roman conquest of Gaul, this calendar is far more elaborate than the rudimentary Julian calendar and has a highly sophisticated five-year synchronisation of lunation with the solar year (Ellis, Druids 230).

Peter Berresford Ellis also notes that Caesar and Pliny the Elder both commented on how the Gauls measured time according to nights and the moon.

Thus we have strong evidence for the moon as a time piece, but  less on other ritual or magical significance.   I am assuming that Carmina Gadelica  will have more moon lore, albeit Christianized.  The moon continued to play an important role in surviving folk magic which has inspired a plethora of modern magical traditions.  The moon seems central to magical thought and I am hopeful to learn more.

Works Cited
Aranrhod ferch Don.  2009.  Mary Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia.  10 Aug. 2010        <http://www.maryjones.us/jce/cerridwen.html>.


Arianrhod.  13 April 2010.  Wikipedia.  10 Aug. 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianrhod>

Berresford, Ellis.  The Celts A History.  New York: Carroll and Graf, 2004.
—.  A Brief History of the Druids.  New York: Carroll and Graf, 2002.
Bonewits, Isaac. “Questions and Answers about ADF.”  Ár nDraíocht Féin.  10 Aug. 2010      <http://www.adf.org/about/basics/qa.html>.

Cerridwen.  2004.  Mary Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia.  10 Aug. 2010

<http://www.maryjones.us/jce/cerridwen.html>.

Frequently Asked Questions.  The Henge of Keltria.  10 Aug. 2010
Markale, Jean.  The Druids Celtic Priests of Nature.  Rochester: Inner Traditions Int., 1999.
 

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Inspiring Words…

I need to remember these as I continue to meditate.

Within the circle, ways of journeying into the three realms of land, sea and sky are taught. These are powerful tools for seeking wisdom and developing and deepening our connection with the earth. The techniques take time, as do aLL worthwhile things. No promises of instant success or enlightenment are made. The most significant accomplishment within the circle Lies in contemplative repetition, using its gentle rhythm to reach a peaceful state of consciousness for sorting through the cares of the day and affirming that tomorrow our work can be done in greater harmony with the world around us.

 Erynn Rowan Laurie
A Circle of Stones

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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1) As stated earlier, I’m an official member of Muin Mound Grove.  That means I can plan rituals and run for office.  So, I am running for grove secretary – unopposed.  LOL  Our current secretary is going to be the new Senior Druid since the old one is MIA.  Some of you who know me may remember that I was MVPN’s secretary.  I had a laptop at the time but have since converted back to a desktop.  I will have to take notes the old fashioned way.

2) I volunteered to make the main offering for Lughnasadh – a doll of Tailtiu.  I’m really excited!  Part of my oath to Muin Mound Grove at my welcoming ceremony was that I would bring my art to help the grove.  I already have ideas!  It’s so exciting.  She will be minimally armatured.  I will probably use a stick or dowel for her spine so that she sits up, but otherwise…  Everything has to be flammable and safe for the fire.  The front hem of her skirt will be stitched to her hands so that everyone can place small harvest items in it.

3) I’m officially a Dedicant Program reviewer!  I have my first DP to look at and am impressed thus far!  The individual is an excellent writer.  I’ve only read one essay but it’s left a very good taste in my mouth.

4) Slowly but surely, I’m delving into Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition.   I’m very much engaged with it, in part  because I’ve always been motivated to take a history of art class but never had the time or maneuverability in my college scheduling.  I finished the first chapter which was a brief explanation about why art is important and how one should take a varied approach when judging its worth.  I’m getting into the second which is all about prehistoric art.  In the meantime, I’m waiting for judgement on my muse essay…

So, yes.  I’m getting more and more involved with ADF.  I love it and it makes me happy.  🙂

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First of all, here is my new Deviant Art page.  I still have a lot of dolls to upload (not to mention some profile tweaking) but those are the most recent works.  I’m currently stitching a new fairy doll.  Fairies were the most popular (as far as sales and compliments went) at Wellspring, and I realized that I haven’t made a fairy in a long, long time.  Last summer I made a pair of fairy wings out of nylon with the help of my friend/sister-in-law.  I need to take those semi-new skills and apply them to my dolls!

In other news, I’ve been working hard on the study programs.  Still no word about my muse essay, but I’ve been reading and organizing notes for Art History and Magic I.  The study programs fill the void that was college.  I miss academia and, though I’m planning to go to graduate school next year, I feel lucky to be part of a religious tradition that values study just as much as it values spirituality, artistry, and magic.  I’m currently working my way through Real Magic by Isaac Bonewits and the gargantuan Janson’s History of Art. I recently finished The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence.  I found it to be helpful in better understanding some aspects of Celtic belief, such as the Otherworld, fairies/spirits, and the “second sight,” and was mildly, if wryly, amused by the out of date nationalism and/or racism.  The author kept talking about how amazing Britain is and how superior the Celtic beliefs/practices/philosophies are to other “barbaric” cultures.  Yay for 1945!  The art history book is proving to be interesting and inspiring even though I’ve barely put a dent in it.  Uncle Isaac’s work (his first published book) is also interesting.  I dig his humor and even his mild elitism (and older and wiser Bonewits apologizes for it in the forward), and find it heartening to know that I’m not the only crazy who believes in multiple truths and universes.  I’m only up to chapter three, but I’m really gaining a lot from his insights.

While in the shower this evening, I realized just how much I get back from ADF and the study programs.  I feel like I’ve learned so much and I know I will learn more.  The beauty is that it’s learning for the sake of it.  I’m not doing it because society tells me I need a job or because it’s “the logical thing to do” after high school.  I really enjoy it and want to make it a bigger part of my life.

[ For my LJ friends, please visit me at: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ ]

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Books books books!

I need to find a new, large bookshelf.  My Pagan library is already large and I just ordered four (or was it five?) new books for my study programs.  Eeee!

[ For my LJ friends, please visit me at: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ ]

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