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Archive for the ‘Druidism’ Category

I feel like there’s a maelstrom swirling around inside me lately.  Along with relaxing to some of my favorite shows, I’ve been throwing myself into writing.  Writing anything – my book, blog updates, tweets, even my first fanfic – just to keep that swirl of stressful worries from tearing me open.  With that in mind, here’s the next bit of the Magical Roots Challenge.

  • Day 12 – Deity

 

Photo and doll by Grey Catsidhe

I’m a polytheist, usually leaning towards the hard side, but somewhat soft in regards to PanCeltic deities I suppose (for example, I see Brighid being the same as Brigantia).  I primarily work with Brighid, and I consider myself her priestess.  I’m always working to improve in this aspect.  I’ve been trying to revitalize my flamekeeping practices to make them more reflective and spiritually oriented, but it’s difficult as a mother.  I mean… you can’t meditate all day when the child wants to watch cartoons or would prefer to race you up and down the sidewalk instead of taking a walk along the hedge.  But I try, and consider motherhood one of the challenges she has given me through which to learn and grow as an individual.  I also work with her as my primary muse, the protector of our hearth and home, and unofficial grove patron*.  I even work with her as my gatekeeper in most rituals simply because of the closeness I feel to her, and her connection to all three hallows.  It just makes sense to me.  It’s worked really well in my personal and grove rites.  Rather than a poem, I’m including a photo of a simple doll I made to represent her.  She sits on my altar, always a reminder and focal point during my flametending work.  I should write a poem to her though… The thoughts are there, especially with what I’m going through and all the chaos in the world… I just need to organize them.  I’ve also been thinking about a short story… Soon, my friends.  Soon.

 

  • Day 13 – Stone/Crystal

Photo by Grey Catsidhe


I don’t often work with crystals.  In fact, I usually don’t buy them anymore.  I’ve written in the past on the reasons and why I prefer to work with stones I find in the forest, in lakes, or rivers.  I do some work with my quartz crystal ball, though.  I brought him home years ago from one of my favorite and most trusted mineral stores – Sticks n Stones.  I put him in the window during the full moon to charge, and he usually hangs out on my altar to energize things as I need.  Fun fact – he has a bit of a crack.  I got him on a discount, but I love him all the same.  As a young Pagan just finding my way, I thought having a crystal ball would be très chic, and I was curious about scrying.  I wouldn’t have been able to afford one of the flawless balls, so I adopted what most people would have overlooked as a flawed piece.  Regardless, he still came from the Earth mother and is one of my treasures.

  • Day 14 – Incense
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Photo and incense by Grey Catsidhe

Incense is one of my favorite offerings to give.  As a Sagittarius, I’m drawn to flames. I love the way my prayers spiral upward and outward to the spirits on perfumed smoke. Brighid often requests it.  UPG- she loves spicy scents like cinnamon.  This prompted me to try making cones with ground cinnamon.  So easy!   I aspire to make more incense by hand.  I attempted some simple kyphi, but it didn’t turn out well.  My goal is to get makko powder and experiment with that, and I would really like to work with resin from local trees.

  • Day 15 – Kitchen Witchery 
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Photo and cookies by Grey Catsidhe

I fancy myself a bit of a kitchen witch.  Much of what I do revolves around the hearth, and it’s a natural extension of my work with Brighid.  (I mean, really… weren’t most of our ancestral mothers doing folk magic in the kitchen at some point?)  Along with candle magic, doing work with food or tea is one of my favorites.  It’s easy and practical.  Feeling ill?  Make a tea to help you physically and spiritually.  Stir some energy and say a prayer over that ginger, lemon, and honey.  Cut some sigils into your dough.  Stir the pot of soup a certain number of times as you add seasonings and pray for blessings and nourishment.  Make special dishes to reflect the seasons, and be sure to give some as an offering!  Most importantly, say prayers of gratitude before eating and, if possible, start to compost and garden so you can bring the magic of the plant world and its cycles into your kitchen.  Connect to the land during the high days – literally and not just metaphorically.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

*The only reason I say Brighid is our unofficial grove patroness is because, while many of us work with her, many others are not dedicated to her.  Some of our members are of other hearth cultures, even though we have an Irish focus.  So, out of respect to grove members, we haven’t pushed that.  We do give her a lot of offerings though…

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The air sizzles with tension.  I see so much hatred on the news.  I see and hear about rising conflicts in the world.  I hear the noise from the nearby military base as they practice, and it makes my gut twist.

Rev. Melissa Hill of ADF wrote a great piece that really sums up a lot of my feelings, and highlights how I, and so many, could do more to improve things.

I’ve been mentally exhausted lately.  Sometimes I feel too weighed down by my own stress to feel that I can make a difference. Sometimes I just want to lose myself in my writing, in fantasy stories from others…  Hill’s piece renewed my strength.  Until I’m financially in a place to give monetary support, I will continue to do my best to speak out when I see racism and oppression.  I’ll do my best to give my students a safe place to be themselves and discuss their worries.  I’ll work to communicate better with parents, to show them that I value diversity, respect their language, their cultures, and try to include them in the school community more often.  I’ll continue to make sure others know my grove strives to be a safe, inclusive place.  As I work on my book, I’ll try to be more mindful of diversity.  I will remain open and receptive when others approach me with ways to improve in these areas.

Be it so.

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Time for another edition of the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge!  I’m trying not to go out of my mind while I wait for details on the closing.  I’ve always heard that moving is one of the most stressful ordeals, and I believe it because it’s been that way in the past.  But buying a house on top of moving takes the cake.

Day 7 – Yoga Pose

I enjoy many yoga poses.  Tree pose feels very Druidic, and it’s a great way to impress kids, but my absolute favorite is child’s pose.  It is my go-to for grounding, so I’ve already touched on this a bit.  When sending energy back into the Earth after a devotional or spellwork, it feels essential for me to get right down and rest on the Mother.  I haven’t taken an actual yoga class in months, but my favorite moments are entering this post and sitting there for several minutes.  I swear, if I could stop time, I would just to stay a bit longer…

Day 8 – Meditation

No matter how many guided meditations I experience, I always go back to the Two-Powers / Tree Meditations, and simply visiting my inner grove.  They are basic, foundational meditations, but they are essential to my practice.  I can always tailor them to my needs – whether it’s solo or group work, seasonal, energy work, or moving into a trance.  They are good places to start, and a safe base camp for trance.  If I’m away from my altar, I always have my inner grove.  Everything I need is there, really.

Day 9 – Daily Practices

Much of what I’ve already written about for this challenge encompasses my daily practice.  Unless I’m ill or something has disrupted my routine, I start each day in a similar way.  My devotional consists of sitting before my altar, lighting a candle, and filling a bowl with water.  I wave my hand over the flame and touch the water.  I also touch my wand or another representation of the tree.  I’ll usually do a Two Powers meditation which then moves into shielding through the Druid Egg.  I make offerings to the Three Kindred, and say prayers of gratitude.  I may ask for help in some way.
I will then say a divination prayer before shuffling and pulling my daily card from the Druid Animal Oracle deck.  I will briefly reflect on this, give thanks, and ground.

Day 10 – Herb/Plant/Tree

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Mugwort smudge wand – Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I feel very blessed to have mugwort growing in my garden.  I know many other witches and Druids who would love some (although they all seem to have stashes of nettle or comfrey).  Someone saw fit to introduce me to mugwort, so I am working with her.  I want to get to know her better, and this is the time for it.  She’s grown quite tall, but she has not produced flowers yet.  Once she does, I will harvest some of her for later workings.  I made smudge wands last year, and will likely make more.  According to Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, mugwort is traditionally used on the Isle of Man for purification.  On the practical side, many small, annoying flies dislike it.  I also want to experiment with mugwort tea for dream and trancework.

Day 11 – Write a Spell

I came up with this earlier after my daughter jammed her fingers in her dresser door.  I took her fingers between my hands, visualizing healing powers flowing into her.  Then I chanted, “Booboos be gone.  Ouchies too.  You will feel better the whole day through.”  Short and sweet, but it instantly cheered her up after experiencing one of life’s lesser pains.  Always useful with wee ones.

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Wow, August is just speeding by, and summer is slipping through my fingers like sand at the beach I visited a couple days ago.  I’m still participating in the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge,  but as predicted, I’m combining days into sporadic updates. I’ve had a busy few days of visiting family, going to the beach in Alexandria Bay, grocery shopping, and celebrating Lughnasadh with my friends at Muin Mound Grove in Syracuse, NY.  Ah, that was a grand day full of laughter with old friends, offerings, song, fire, and mead.  But anyway…

Day 3: Centering and Breath Work

This is something I strive to do each day.  I’m more successful some days than others. Goodness, there are times when I wake up early for work, feeling like a zombie, and I can barely focus on anything let alone my breath.  Most of the time, however, this is an important part of my daily devotional (which also includes grounding and divination, as discussed in my last blog post). I tend to start each working, whether it’s a formal ritual or a prayer of gratitude, with three deep breaths.  If I’m going to do trance or magic work, I will likely go into a focused meditation.

Some days, when I’m irritated or stressed, it can be helpful to find a quiet place and take deep breaths…

Day 4: Intentions

I’m supposed to reflect on my intentions for completing this challenge.  That’s fair enough, but I want to start with my big intention for August: I will move into a new house without losing my mind!  Most everything is revolving around that, although I’m also the workshop coordinator for the FAE Fest once more.  Doing that while prepping for a move has been extra stressful.  With all that and this challenge in mind, my goals are to stay as calm and level-headed as possible.  Maintaining my Druidic practice, especially breathing, grounding, and shielding will be very important to my overall wellness.  In addition, I want to do some solid magical work this month.  I’ve done some work already, all towards the new home, so that will continue.  I hope it shifts to performing a house saining later this month…

Day 5: Energy Work

Ah… the old “hand rubbing” exercise.  This brings back memories.  I was chatting with a new witch friend on ye olde MSN Messenger.  I was still wet-behind-the-ears, and he suggested I try doing that.  I actually did this with my daughter a couple months ago, but she was too overtired to focus…  I should try again.  It’s fun to just experience energy in various forms.  When I start devotionals lately, I don’t just visualize fire and water – I wave my hand over the flame and put my finger in a bowl of water.  Feeling the energy directly is more meaningful to me, more intimate, and I store that memory for times when I don’t have access to them.  I suppose that’s the key to magic – the ability to summon that energy when needed.  There are plenty of times when I can’t light a candle, but I can go to that inner grove where I see and feel the flame…

Sometimes you have to go back to the basics to get stronger.  I’ll try to add the old hand rubbing exercise to my daily work and see what happens…

Day 6: Shielding

This is a skill that I really started to develop about three years ago.  You see, I had a bit of an altercation with a colleague.  We have very different personalities – she’s very type A and I’m… not, really?  There was also a definite lack of sleep due to us both having babies at home.  Anyway, it sucked.  I didn’t feel that she would purposefully attack me psychically (I don’t see her touching the magical community with a ten foot pole), but negative emotions run wild after emotional encounters like that.  I purposefully started to develop my shielding skills.  I developed my daily “Druid Egg” routine (one day I’ll do a more detailed post on the subject).  Sometimes, when especially stressed or “threatened,” I’ll take a break and renew it.  If I’m at work, the bathroom is a great place to do that.

As a Senior Druid with a grove, and as a teacher, this sort of practice is incredibly important.  If someone is upset with you, they will put off nastiness.  I hesitate to call myself an “empath,” as I don’t think I’m as perceptive as others, but I’m definitely affected by other people.  That can impact my decision making.  Shielding is a way for me to push that extra input aside and focus on what I need, who I am, and what I stand for.  I tell the gunk coming that it cannot get me.  I own my space.

Some days, I’m better at it than others… but when I set my mind to it, those wards are up.  I find that it helps to have a really good working relationship with my spirit allies as well… just in case the shield cracks.

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The #30DaysMagicalRoots challenge started yesterday.  True to form, I’m a bit late!  Given that it was a major holiday in my tradition, I feel that’s entirely forgivable, right?  Right.  My family had a lovely, low-key Lughnasadh full of blueberry pancakes, board games, and a big dinner.  I also made offerings and went on a run, which felt particularly appropriate on a day for competitions.  Only, I was competing against myself.

So, day 1 of the 30 Days Magical Roots challenge is all about Divination.  I mostly work with the Druid Animal Oracle.  The symbolism resonates with me.  My focus this month is definitely moving.  The waiting is stressing me out.  I asked for insight into that and drew the otter – a card of play.  The Kindreds seemed to tell me to try and enjoy the process, and to not take everything so seriously.  I’m trying… but it is very difficult.

Today is day 2 and the focus is grounding.  My absolute favorite way to ground is through movement.  I reach up to the sky and let the fiery sky energy return to where it is needed.  Then I move into the yoga movement called child’s pose on the floor or ground. I let the watery, underworld energy seep back into the Earth Mother.  It is especially potent outside when you can feel the heat from the sun and the moisture in the grass or soil.

 

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From sundown on July 27 to sundown July 28, I kept Brighid’s flame.  It wasn’t a continuous, literal flame.  As the daughter of a former firefighter, cat owner, and mother, there are times when I need to put it out.  I always say a prayer when I do:

Though I put the flame out in the physical realm, it is always lit in my heart.

Some people will turn their noses up to that, but Brighid has not shown any displeasure with it.  As a protector of children, domesticated animals, and homes, being practical and not tempting fate makes sense.  Part of learning about the magic of her flame is respect, after all.  And I don’t have extra money to spend on anything that could safely allow me to burn an unattended candle.  Maybe in the future.

There are areas I’d like to improve upon.  There was a time, five or six years ago, where I would treat my flame keeping time as a retreat.  I stayed away from electronic entertainment (although I would sometimes allow myself to watch educational documentaries related to my Druidism).  I read and studied.  I spent a lot of time outside.  All of that changed, especially when I became a mother.  My quiet moments come early in the morning and at night.

Right now, my biggest focus is keeping track of my times to keep the flame, and to have some intention.  I decided to blog about it this time because a Twitter friend inspired me when she posted about her own creative work during her flame tending night.  I cannot remember who that was, but she really got me thinking.

Except for Naturalist studies and continued practice with divination, most of my more intense Druid studies have halted.  I only have so much time as a mother, teacher, and Senior Druid of a grove.  The last several months, I’ve given my spare time to writing a fictional book.  I tried my best to do that during my flame tending shift.  I also made a point to give gratitude for Brighid’s blessings of talent and inspiration.  I always ask that she continue to guide and help me nourish that to improve.

I set aside some quiet time to go through my Druid Animal Oracle cards to basically renew my relationship with them.  I thought about which of the Nine Virtues each card mostly embodied, and then thought about whether the cards where mostly connected with spirituality/intellect, creativity or fertility of the land, warfare and death, or family and community.  It was a fun exercise and I got a lot out of it!

I also used some of my time last night to do a bit of candle magic.  It’s one of the first forms of magic most of us learn, but it’s continually a favorite of mine.  It’s tried and true for me, and I can really feel my focus and the energy when I’m doing it.  It feels especially appropriate to engage in candle work in conjunction with Brighid when I’m already keeping her flame.  Added a bit of extra power.

My next shift begins August 16th.  I’m hoping the magical working I did will manifest then and help me set a new focus.  I have a good feeling.  Slowly but surely, I would like to move towards once more treating those shifts as days to focus on anything related to Brighid and my Druidism.

 

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Ghost Flowers at Otter Creek Preserve.  Once upon a time, I had no idea what these were.  I didn’t merely shrug and forget – I took photos and looked them up after a hike.  Now I can easily identify them.  It’s a great feeling. – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

I read an article today that captured the spirit and concern of one of my recent posts.  It relates to Britain specifically, but I see a similar disconnect between people and nature in the United States.  It amazes me how many adults (who have lived in Upstate NY all their lives) don’t know the difference between an oak and a maple tree.  These are some of the most common trees around!  Or they can’t name any of the wildflowers that grow near them.

It’s really… strange to me, I guess, but then I think of all the other skills I’m surprised people lack.  Like…hearing that someone intends to throw out a shirt because a button fell off…  Say what?  Reading the article linked above made me realize how lucky I was as a child to learn about the nature around me.  My parents and even grandparents were very involved and passed down their wisdom – the names of plants and animals, how to garden, what not to touch, and even some wild edibles.  I’m always trying to add to that knowledge and pass on more to my own daughter.

There’s definitely some privilege there.  I understand that I was very lucky to have involved parents.  They could afford for my mother to stay home and raise my sister and me.  My father had a good job with benefits so he didn’t need to take any more employment.  My grandparents lived close and were able to retire, giving them plenty of time to teach me and my sibling how to sew, paint fences, weed, press flowers, etc.  Not only did we have access to green space, but we were surrounded by it and actively went on weekend excursions into the Adirondacks to learn more.  We went to the library and museums.  I realize not everyone is able to do those things for a variety of reasons.

I’m thinking about how I can help improve the situation.  Continuing to talk with my daughter about the plants and animals around us is a huge priority to me.  Reading and getting outside as I discussed in that recent post to improve my own understanding, for sure.  Perhaps I should do more with my own grove?  Going on a nature walk together and pooling our collective knowledge would be a great activity.  (Honestly, I want us to get out more together anyway.)  As a teacher, perhaps I should take my students outside.  Perhaps we’ll take advantage of the wooded trail on campus and keep a weekly or even monthly nature journal to improve their writing skills…  Simply getting outside and taking the time to observe can be so powerful*.  There are many possibilities.  Every little bit counts.

What are you doing to improve your connection to nature?  What else could you do to pass on your knowledge to others?

*I once took some little kids out on the playground with magnifying glasses just to observe the insects and spiders.  After calming them, they were entranced by a bumblebee, admitting that they never actually looked at one up close before.  It was one of the most amazing, humbling, and emotional experiences to me as a teacher.

 

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