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Archive for the ‘Druidism’ Category

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Sun shimmering on ice. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

As my path is bound to the land, I continually work to pay attention to the seasons. In Druidry and other polytheistic paths, we tune into the cycles. Tradition emphasizes agricultural shifts, but they are always linked to whatever song the bioregion is singing at the time.

In elementary school, teachers taught us about the four seasons. I don’t doubt that my parents taught me first, but I distinctly remember dividing a circle into four equal parts and filling it with different colored balls of scrunched up tissue paper in a primary classroom. Yellow flowers, green leaves, orange leaves, and white snow. As I grew up and embraced a polytheistic view, everything become more complex. In a good way!

Many of us modern Pagans subscribe to some form of the Wheel of the Year. I’m not here to untangle that cultural knot, but there’s no denying many of us celebrate roughly eight holidays. Some may practice more or less depending on cultural focus. Then there is the emphasis some place on the lunar cycle.

This time of year, where I live, it is still winter. While others around the globe post photos of flowers or spring floods, we have a foot or two of snow on the ground. In my opinion, February is the hardest month. Many of us in Upstate New York are at our limit of tolerance for the white stuff. Even while I strive to find the silver lining and embrace the Winter Crone’s lessons, her teaching is arduous and painful at times. February brings more daylight. The sun melts the snow, but the temperatures drop below zero at night. Each morning, there’s a new layer of ice. The photo above is my driveway. It’s a sheet of hazardous winter glass hungry for broken bones. To get to my car, I’ve started wearing a pair of ice fishing cleats.

Our winter is more nuanced than a picturesque Christmas card. December, January, February, and March each have their own defining characteristics. The Winter Crone performs a different spell for each and alters her teachings. Paying attention to the subtle changes can enrich our daily practice. As we develop a ritual of mindful observation each month or lunar cycle, we should start to notice patterns – seasons within seasons. These will fuel our traditional practices and perhaps inspire new customs.

 

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Here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday – three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure! Three is a magic number, right?

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Offerings at an outdoor shrine in the backyard. Photo by M. A. Phillips

 

Keep Making Offerings: The sun is shining, but if you go outside, the bitter cold will slap you in the face. Still, I felt compelled to put some offerings at the shrine. It’s important to listen to those urges as it helps us build and maintain relations with our spirit allies. I kept sensing a hunger from my closest magical companion. Sidebar: my husband helped me make that weathered sign for a local Faery festival. It now sits proudly by the shrine, adding a touch of whimsy to what is otherwise a half barrel filled with snow this time of year.

Writing Update: Since I’m on vacation this week, I’ve spent a lot of it editing my novel. I’m really proud of my progress as a writer, and sharing excerpts throughout February is both a testament to, and a balm for, my confidence. I’m glad that a story about contemporary Pagans is resonating with others.

River Magic _Famous Quote

An excerpt from my novel, RIVER MAGIC:
“What should we do?” he asked. “Make an offering?”
“We shouldn’t leave anything. ‘Leave nothing but footprints,'” she quoted.
He winced at his own folly.
“But I think a little drop of our water wouldn’t hurt.”

Slow Seeing: I loved this NPR article called “A Photographer’s Guide to Slow Seeing the Beauty in Everyday Nature.” I think many polytheists and animists will relate to the poetry of it, and those who are interested in this spiritual path should consider it. Along with editing, I plan to take my daughter outside to do some slow seeing today!

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Nimue Brown really captures my feelings on the subgenre of magical realism. It’s the closest I’ve come to describing my fiction writing.

Druid Life

A guest post from Laura Perry

I’m a writer, and a portion of what I write is fiction that qualifies as magical realism. My most recent novel, The Bed (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/the-bed), definitely qualifies. I’ve had a few people question that term, suggesting that it’s a contradiction. After all, according to mainstream society and “common sense,” magic isn’t real.

I’ve written before about Pagans who practice magic but don’t actually believe in it, a habit that can lead to very unpleasant side effects (http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/single-post/2016/02/10/Pagans-who-dont-believe-in-magic-but-use-it-anyway). Mainstream society puts a great deal of pressure on us to conform to the materialist viewpoint that anything that can’t be experienced through our five physical senses or detected via scientific instruments simply doesn’t exist or is, at best, some sort of hallucination. So it’s an uphill battle against cultural pressure just to consider the possibility that magic is a real thing.

There’s a…

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Locally found or made magical objects. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

Valentine’s Day brings a focus on relationships. Though I don’t observe the holiday with my husband (my daughter is obsessed with it), I’ve spent the week thinking about my connection to the land. Perhaps it’s the lingering winter and my desire to garden and forage again, or maybe it comes from my discipline kicking in when I don’t want to trudge through frigid snow with offerings.

My spirituality is very much concerned with the earth, and so it makes sense that most of what I work with is locally grown and made. Whenever I go through bouts of “distance” with my path, I always restore it in the garden or forest.

When I took the recent Imbolc course on Irish Pagan School, author and teacher Lora O’Brien discussed her issue with pipe cleaner Brigid crosses. My grove has done them in the past – mostly because they’re easier for the little kids – yet I’ve always preferred using actual wheat or local grasses. O’brien really hit the nail on the head for me when she described the plants, traditionally reeds, as a way to connect with the symbolism of the goddess and holiday. She was really critical of adults (without any mobility issues) taking a shortcut that is normally so rooted in nature’s seasonal changes, yet she tempered this with compassion. We are all learning. To paraphrase, she challenged those without access to reeds or something similar to begin planning for next year to secure a local source. (Provided you have permission, it’s a sustainable source, etc)

In Northern NY, where the windchill was -20 last night, now is a perfect time to contemplate the warmer half of the year. What do we need to do to deepen our relationship with nature? What are your long term magical goals, and what allies do you need to cultivate? What tools or offerings do you wish to procure for the upcoming holidays? When will the plants be ready to harvest? What do the spirits you wish to work with desire in return?

When I look back at some of what I’ve gathered, it fills me with warmth. Rowan branches collected on a nearby island following a storm. Stones from rivers and lakes right here as opposed to a distant pit and mined by child laborers. Beeswax candles from local keepers. Mugwort wands from my own garden. I’m excited to strengthen my bonds with the spirits of this place, but it must be done thoughtfully.

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Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

A warm cup of tea on a cold day. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

Kitchen Magic With My Daughter

Bee is showing more interest in both cooking and magic, so showing her how they can mix is a no brainer! Tonight I taught her how to boil water in the kettle (with supervision, of course). She likes to make things for other people, so I suggested she prepare me a cup of tea while I bake. I instructed her to focus on the water and send a happy wish for me into the beverage. Watching her concentrate was adorable, and she was so proud of herself!

spring equinox river magic excerpt

A dusting of snow fell the morning of ritual, but the group was determined to meet outside among the trees. They gathered at the trail they recently walked in Alexandria Bay. Crimson buds dotted some branches, but the lack of leaves gave their Vernal Equinox an ironic, wintry character.” – Excerpt from RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

Writing Community

Over on Instagram, I’m participating in a couple writing challenges. It’s been a great way to make new connections in the writing community. It comes with so much inspiration, feedback, and support! I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts, especially the excerpts from my writing. Furthermore, I was touched this week when two more wonderful people stepped forward to beta read my manuscript! As the cherry on top, many others sent me messages of encouragement and excitement as I strive toward my dreams. I’m pleased to inspire others. The writing community is such a vibrant and beautiful place.

“Mercury in Gatorade”

 

My friend Artemis Fox in Watertown recently started a Pagan podcast called “Fire Burn Cauldron Bubble.” He and Luna Hawks are three episodes in, and their most recent episode was particularly interesting. Cheekily titled “Mercury in Gatorade,” they interview astrologer @illexxandra about the notorious Mercury in Retrograde. I learned a lot! Be forewarned, this show is for adults. They occasionally swear, so you may want to save this until the kiddos are in bed! There are a couple audio issues in places, but they don’t detract from the content. You can download or subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Libsyn.

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Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

1) Hagstone Publishing recently released a little interview with me. In it, I share one of the most significant, spiritual moments of my life. It actually inspired part of my recent short story, “Through the Brambles,” which you can find in issue 2 of “Stone, Root, and Bone” magazine. It’s part of their “Meet the Authors” series. I’m thrilled to be included, and it’s been fun reading about my fellow creative polytheists. I know it’s not the greatest photo, but it’s the first I shared with Hagstone when I participated in the Plant Spirit Challenge last summer. I really need to hire one of my photographer friends to get some decent shots.


2) I spend an inordinate amount of time inside slouched over a keyboard as I write, revise, and edit. For my own sanity and health, I need to get outside. Many of my characters are polytheists, so it’s important to me that I stay connected with my spirituality and remain authentically tied to my stories. My short walks are meditative affirmations on what I do and why. They provide me an opportunity to breathe in fresh air and make offerings to the land. The last time I made my circuit, I caught myself admiring the brown and gray remnants of our pollinator garden. Many people seem to cut their gardens back. The dead, dry ends of spent flowers offend them, I suppose. Perhaps they clashed with their Christmas decor. I’ve learned to leave them. The seeds provide food for wildlife, and they may propagate and fill the garden out more in the spring! The stems and leaves also provide nesting materials for hibernating insects and then birds when it’s time to lay eggs. I love my gardens in all seasons!

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3)Pagan Parenting with Waffles! Due to illness, transportation issues, and other conflicts, my grove canceled our public celebration. Though I was sad to miss my grovemates, and uncomfortable due to a health concern, I soldiered through and made the most of the special day! We kept our tradition of weaving Brigid crosses (Cros Bríde) and adding on to our Brigid cloaks (brat bhríde). We did those activities on Brigid’s eve. On February first, I gave my daughter the choice of pancakes or waffles for breakfast. As you can tell from the photo, she chose the later. She was enthusiastic about helping. The night before, we talked about three as a magical number, so we stirred three times for each of the Kindred and prayed for their blessings. We then discussed the importance of discipline with magic, and I did the old “visualize the apple” lesson. Big ritual with other druids is wonderful, but my path is also about those small, quiet moments with family – with my daughter. Teaching her about folk magic and carrying on our ancestral traditions is so beautiful. It warmed my heart.

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Three Things Thursday

Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

  • Preparing for Imbolc
    In preparation for Imbolc this year, I signed up for a virtual class called “Imbolc in Ireland” by Lora O’Brien of Irish Pagan School. It was the first time I paid for one of her courses, and I really enjoyed myself. I haven’t completed the meditation yet (the class went a bit late, and I had to go for family dinner), but I can access it anytime I want. I plan to try it tomorrow night. The class was a great review for someone who has already read a bit about the holiday and Brigid, but I also learned more traditions, more of the linguistics behind the holiday name, and had great discussions with others of like mind. I highly recommend you look into the site if you haven’t already!
  • Lost Tooth!

    My daughter lost her first tooth! My family has opted not to do the tooth fairy tradition as others since, you know… giving body parts to the Good Folk doesn’t seem like the smartest idea! We’ve discussed it with our daughter for months in anticipation. We explained that other parents do this, kind of like Santa, and she’s already used to our stance on that. Instead, we’re going to plant the teeth to go back to Mama Earth. My daughter wants us to put them in a pot where she can plant flowers for now. That said, she’s still asking me for a dollar… So…

  • Writing Update
    I’ve been slow in my writing and editing this week. I just haven’t felt well. That said, I plunk away on my keyboard each day to do what I can. Since my short story, “Through the Brambles” came out in Stone, Root, and Bone last week, I gave myself permission to relax a little. My body needed it. On a related note, one of my beta readers sent me more feedback on my manuscript! She’s eager to read more. It keeps me going!

Wishing you all a bright and blessed Imbolc! I look forward to sharing more with you next week.

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