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Archive for the ‘Druidism’ Category

Keeping the Flame

Something told me to check the calendar.  I’m glad I trusted in my intuition; it’s my night to keep Brighid’s flame. So much has happened over the past several weeks. So much has exhausted me. It was easy to lose track. 

How fitting and profound to tend the light the night after we lost power for hours. 

My night has been full of Brighid. I worked to clean my kitchen a bit. I made bread. I worked on the Spring Equinox liturgy. I sang in the shower. 

Thank you for the joy, warmth, and light, Brighid. 

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I was up too late last night. Don’t judge me, but I was reading a really compelling fan fic on my phone. Just like any good story, I couldn’t put it down. On top of that, my daughter is getting over a cold. She coughs a lot which makes me toss and turn. When I finally woke up, my eyes were irritated. For some reason, it impacted my overall mood this morning. I felt a bit grouchy. It’s times like that when the forest’s call grows loud and insistent.

Donning my winter coat, scarf, gloves, crane bag, and walking stick, I got out of the house, away from the screens, the messes waiting to be cleaned, and everything that annoyingly reminds me that I’m renting and not owning right now. The sun is out, but the air is bitter cold.  The neighborhood was quiet since most people don’t want to be out on such a day.  I felt assured of solitude.

The universe said, “nope.”

I crossed the hedge, carefully stepping on exposed logs and rocks to avoid the icy sheen of a frozen puddle.  I always ask permission to enter, and felt the familiar pull.  I was a bit apprehensive to return, honestly.  Last week, my husband and I believe we found bear droppings.  I took an omen before I went out today and was basically told to have courage because I needed this excursion.

The forest near my apartment is accessible to anyone who lives in my neighborhood. I’m grateful for the opportunity to take nature walks whenever I want, but sharing it with other people (people who don’t all respect the woods) is irritating.  There is a never-ending supply of trash to clean.  I take it upon myself to bring a small bag with me when I visit.  I collect what I can as an offering.

After making some other offerings at a large tree, I leaned against its trunk to breathe.  The relaxation was short lived, unfortunately.  Some kids noisily entered the woods and set about smashing things into trees.  Ugh.  I surprised them by stepping out from behind the tree and went deeper into the woods.

Their shock made me grin.  I was grateful they left me to my wandering.

No signs of bear this time.  Noisy kids aside, it was nice to return to the forest.  It’s a bit like a moving meditation.  I definitely don’t sit and meditate here.  You never know who may show up, after all.  I try not to let my guard down, especially when there’s possibly a bear around (not to mention coyotes and coydogs).  A snap of twigs in the distance gets the blood pumping and makes me feel so alive…

Closer to home, I inspected the garden.  Most of the pots are frozen.  The compost bin is unworkable at the moment.  And yet, despite how bitter cold everything is today, the chives are pushing their way towards the sky.  What hardy little plants.  They always  promise me that spring is near.  They appear even before the trout lilies in the woods.  Seeing them made me so happy and reminded me that it’s time to order seeds.

Gods, I can’t wait to garden again…

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It’s been quite a week, but I’ve been meaning to write a more substantial update here for some time.  I figure I should finish and publish this as I move into another week and a new lunar cycle.  Much of this entry has been hanging out in my draft folder for several days.  Why the delay?  My Grove has been saddened by the loss of a grovemate and friend, so we’ve been coming to terms with that. I will write more on our friend and the transition another day. Northern Rivers Grove will honor him during our Spring Equinox celebration. It’s bound to be one of the hardest rituals I’ve ever lead, but it’s important to mark this passage.  My thoughts have been dwelling on death, rebirth, and how to best support my grovemates.

Today I want to share some of the other work I’ve been doing to deepen my Druidry. I’ve continued my slow progress through Trance-Portation by Paxson.  I’ve forced myself to take time on the initial exercises.  I think it’s important to revisit the basics once in awhile, and I know there’s much I could improve.  Shielding, grounding, centering, and visualizing are foundational, and I think I’ve really strengthened these areas since January.  Sometimes I falter, and emotional upsets crack the shell I wrap myself in each morning, but on a whole, it always makes me feel confident and strong.

My new oak leaf and Herkimer diamond pendant from Stellar Creations.

For the last few weeks, my work within Trance 1 and Magic 2 of ADF’s study programs has heavily revolved around creating talismans. It just happened that way, and it’s helped me jump back into the practice after stumbling in my routines around December. One talisman was for a friend.   The other, a custom-made oak leaf pendant with Herkimer diamond, is for myself. It was lovingly crafted by the local artist of Stellar Creations.  I highly recommend her work, and she put a lot of love and meditation into it.  I could definitely feel the energy upon receiving the pendant.

I had been meaning to consecrate a creativity talisman for some time – ever since I started Trance 1 and Magic 2, actually.  It seemed like the perfect working given my many talents and hobbies.  In addition to sewing and crochet, I recently delved back into creative writing.  Since November, I’ve been working on a novel, something I haven’t done since I was in high school.  It’s still a work in progress, but I’m having so much fun.*  And no, I’m not ready to discuss the plot!

I’m a big believer in mental keys.  The smell of incense relaxes my nerves and tells me that it’s time to meditate or ritualize.  Yoga poses signal my body to relax and heal.  Certain pieces of clothing and jewelry can also help us to access parts of our brain, inner realms, or spirit allies.  Ideally, we can grow beyond the need of such talismans, but they are extremely useful to me as a harried mother who works full-time outside of the home…  Sometimes I feel too mired in the demands of this realm, so these tools help me relax, let go, and, in the case of my oak leaf charm, focus on my creativity.

 

*Someday, I will write about how writing has become a form of trance for me…

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

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I didn’t wear the right footwear to trek into the woods behind my parents’ home, but I didn’t let that stop me. The house was chaotic and our schedule today is packed. I needed a moment, so I locked myself in my childhood room as I did as a teenager. The weather was springlike today. I found myself wondering why I brought my wool coat. I let the breeze waft over me as I faced the woods. I studied the gray branches of maple trees etched against a cloudless, cerulean sky. 

I easily found myself transported to my inner grove. I walked the familiar trail to a mighty oak. On the right, a fire pit circled by smooth stones. The flame magically stays a manageable height. At the left is a semi-circle stone wall built into the river. Water seeps through openings, creating a small wading pool; not a well, by it’s what my mind has constructed in its place. I walk in and let my the energy of water and sun meet me in the center. 

Just like that, all was well within and without. Even though I couldn’t easily go into the forest and my day was packed, I made the most looking through a window. 

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My husband and I shared our first date on Valentine’s Day about a decade ago. It was a few days after my third boyfriend broke up with me – following a Valentine’s Day dance, of all things. After encouragement from a friend, he rushed into the tutoring room on campus where I worked. He caught his breath and bashfully asked me to come over for dinner.  I accepted his invitation since I thought he was cute and was starting to enjoy his company.  At the time, I was exploring different Pagan paths, but he knew I had been working with a Wiccan circle.  The clever guy decided on the topic of Wicca for a college research paper and asked to interview me for more information.  (I like to remind him of his adorable plot from time to time.)  He and his two brothers made dinner for two other girls and me.  Then we played board games.  It was really sweet and I’ll never forget that date, even though we didn’t become a serious couple for another month or so.  After a couple years, we stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day.  We were content to avoid the commercialism, and the Catholic overtones irritated me.  I came to preferred the amorous, May holiday of Bealtaine instead.

Along came Bee…

Once more, another ambiguously secular holiday has arrived, and my daughter is entranced by the dominant culture. It’s hard to avoid Valentine’s Day. The colorful pink and red hearts, bears, and flowers quickly fill a festive gap left by Christmas. My daughter was excited about Imbolc, but she is a girly girl who absolutely adores anything pink. She’s learned about Valentine’s Day from several favorite kid shows and can’t stop talking about it.

So what to do?

I started to read more about Lupercalia, the Roman fertility celebration and ritual associated with Faunus.  It’s very interesting, but not very child-friendly (except, of course, for making children)!  And Valentine’s Day is associated with a Christian saint…  Some of my readings spoke of the gradual transformation of Lupercalia to Candlemas, a day many equate with Imbolc… but I know that’s controversial as many insist that Imbolc is not the same as Candlemas despite some similarities.  Besides, my family already celebrated Imbolc.  I don’t feel it’s very similar to Valentine’s Day at all…

A paper heart made for the gods and goddesses.  Bee said the one-eyed face is a god and the other is a goddess.  Brighid got her own special heart.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I have decided to keep it simple this year.  My daughter can handle celebrating love in general.  I have some treats for her, and we’ve enjoyed making paper hearts.  Actually, it’s a great way to help her with her hand-eye coordination and scissor skills.  I fold the paper in half, draw the half-heart shape, and she cuts.  For our first round, she practiced writing ABCs – just the initial letter in names of people she loves.  M for mama, D for daddy, etc…  Today, we made hearts for the Three Kindreds and I let her hang them wherever she wanted.  She knew who I was talking about because she would say, “Here Brighid!  I made you a heart!  This one is for the Ancestors.  Look how happy the Ancestors are!”  Makes my heart melt.  I’m thinking about bringing her outside to make a birdseed heart in the snow for the Nature Spirits.

I’m really curious as to what other Pagan parents, especially those who follow a Celtic hearth culture, do at this time of year.  Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Have you found any sources on how the Romanized Gauls may have participated in Lupercalia?  Something else, if anything?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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It’s a very snowy day, so I relaxed indoors and worked on her all morning and afternoon.  I made her for my daughter so she can decorate her little altar for Imbolc.

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