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Archive for the ‘Druidism’ Category

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Dawn on December 22nd, 2019. Photo by Grey Catsidhe. 

Today my family welcomed the reborn sun following the longest night. It’s always a joyous occasion. We rose before the sun, drummed, and cheered for its ascension. Then I made waffles because they’re golden and round!

We would have celebrated with our grove last night, but many of us are ill so we decided to cancel. I’m always sad to do that, but I must admit I wasn’t as disappointed this time. Perhaps it’s because, compared to other occasions when the weather kept us apart, feeling more or less sick for a month has nearly worn me to hermit-like mentality.

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Candles and offerings for Winter Solstice. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019.

And so, like animals hibernating, I felt a desire to turn inward and embrace the darkness yesterday. It brings the space for introspection. It is the silence I crave to dream up stories. It is the peace of not rushing anywhere to do anything. I needed it. I think many of us did.  My family and I did a tiny ritual together last night – one with minimal stress on our tired throats and lungs.

Today I feel a sense of renewal and hope. I look forward to more time with my grovemates in the coming year. I embrace where my Druidry is taking me. I give thanks for light, warmth, and inspiration. Also, I have gratitude for quiet times for healing and thought.

Blessings to you this Solstice season! May the new year find us healthier.

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Sunset on the shortest day, Dec 21st 2019. Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

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Identity

I’ve been ruminating on my identify for the last month. Much of it has involved my association with ADF. You can read about what happened on The Social Justice Druid’s Patreon. Many of us in the community are still processing it all.  I know some have decided to leave. Some are stepping back. The whole situation is discouraging and depressing.

And yet, my grove remains a positive place. I recently ran into a man who  visited our grove a couple times in the past. It wasn’t for him, but we move in the same circles. He asked how the group is doing, and I explained that we’re still around; that we’re a small grove, but we get along. Whenever we do our toast and boast, many express gratitude for the group, describing it as a spiritual family. That’s what it feels like to me. We feel safe to be ourselves, and we keep working to make it a safe space for others who may seek us.

So I’ve been experiencing this odd, disconnected feeling. I’ve talked a bit about it with my grovemates – my worry about being associated with the very real issues that ADF needs to work through. However, I’m also really impressed with the positive work some people are doing to make change or  move forward. Missy Ashton recently shared her own reflections, and they really helped me.

It was time for me to renew my ADF membership. Missy posted her thoughts the day it was due, which seemed like a sign to me. I lapsed, mostly because I forgot due to other things happening in my life, but also because I was still processing.

I literally just renewed. I still possess a lot of trepidation about it, but for now, I’m mostly doing it for my grove after talking to them.

The year going forward, I will continue to watch and reflect. Not just about ADF, but about even calling myself a Druid. I keep worrying that I’m doing a disservice to Gaelic speaking communities using that descriptor… So I’m trying to get back into my studies, learning  more about the authentic folk practices of  my ancestors*. I continue studying Gaeilge (Irish) one Duolingo lesson at a time. I just bought Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland to better inform my practice. I’m so excited to dig in!

As we near a new decade, it seems a prudent time to reflect and reevaluate. Yet I do so with hope and optimism. I prepare to step past the threshold between 2019 and 2020 with a grove of spiritual siblings to support me as we continue our journey together to honor the deities, beloved dead, and land.

*I feel it’s important to remind readers that, although I have been inspired to research and embrace the folk practices of my Irish ancestors, DNA is not a prerequisite for this spiritual path. All you need are an earnest respect for, and desire to learn directly from, the living culture.

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Turning on the Heat

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The inside of one of our baseboard heaters. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019

Last weekend, my husband and I performed an annual ritual: cleaning the heaters and turning on the heat. We were extra thorough this year. He dismantled and even removed them from the wall to perform additional maintenance. I cleaned the inside, wiping the metallic vertebrae that distributes heat.

I used this time to reflect on how we warm our home in the colder months. For better or worse, the house we bought uses electric heat. As I understand it, we’re lucky to be on municipal power. The warmth doesn’t come from a central flame, but it is heat all the same – and that, in my spirituality, is Brigid’s power.

Perhaps, in the future, I will mentally prepare myself for this yearly rite. Maybe I’ll write a formal prayer with rhyme and meter to recite as I perform my chore. Perhaps I’ll do it some cold winter day as I reflect on how blessed I am to live in a cozy home. This year,  I didn’t make the connection that this could be a sacred act until I was in the middle of it.

As I turned the dial on each unit, I quietly prayed to Brigid – a simple declaration of gratitude for her warmth and safety. Though I lamented my lack of foresight, I walked away feeling satisfied – and warm.

 

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I tweeted this a few weeks ago, but I really should share it here, too! I’m proud to post that my short story, “Lemon Balm Tea,” is going to be published in issue 1 of the new eZine Stone, Root, and Bone!

Shannon has struggled with public speaking since she was a girl in school. Poised to give an important presentation as an adult, she reflects on the lessons she learned in her grandmother’s garden.

It’s a contemporary realistic fiction piece, and I hope you enjoy it. I love stories about actual Pagans, polytheists, and animists. Sure, I enjoy the Hollywood interpretations, but I find myself most drawn to writing about who we really are and how we interact with the world around us.

In addition to my story, you’ll find other pieces (including non-fiction!) from fantastic authors. Just check out the headlines on the cover reveal! Intrigued? You can pre-order a copy for $5 here and support an indie publication made by and for polytheists.

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Earthy gems – dried peas to plant next year. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019.

I was working in the garden this afternoon. Specifically, I was pulling out the dried pea plants and shelling the pods to save seeds. No matter how frequently we pick and eat fresh snap peas through June and July, the plants are usually tired and brown a few weeks following Lughnasadh. The final harvest is a meditative experience filled with intermittent chanting and prayerful gratitude.

I randomly remembered a comment on my blog years and years ago. I’d posted something about my then container garden. One reply basically asked when my blog switched over to gardening instead of Druidry. It left me confounded.

Years later, my relationship with my garden has deepened. It’s a major part of my Druidry, and I can’t imagine it any other way. I enjoy speaking about mythology and liturgy as much as the next Druid, but I’ve noticed myself blogging more about how I live my Druidry everyday. Druidry isn’t simply philosophy divorced from life – it’s an experience intertwined with everything. Not all magic occurs in a fire-lit circle. This time of year, for me, it revolves around the garden.

Mornings and evenings have felt particularly autumnal these last few days. Some leaves are changing, and apples blush on the branches. The cider mill is open. My garden is moving into a new phase. The late summer crops ripen, and the fall plants embrace the cool air and rise to prominence. The final pea harvest always marks a turning point for me.

If you’re still reading my blog, I hope you enjoy seeing my garden. I hope it inspires you to get your hands dirty and join me in the ritual of life and renewal.

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A few pea pods aren’t dry enough to shell, so they’re hanging on my fence. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019.

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I killed a bird today.

I never meant to, but it happened. Earlier this summer, I bought some netting in an attempt to protect some berry bushes, and I also put it over my squash after a chipmunk got the only fruit on the vine. I was discouraged and just wanted to protect my harvest. With all the awful news about climate change, I often worry I’m not growing enough food for my family just in case…

So I put the netting up. I was ambivalent about it from the start. It was plastic, and I’ve been trying to avoid that when possible. Yet I hoped I could use it each year. I envisioned it as a shield.

Instead, it has more in common with fly tape. Shortly after putting it up, I had to free a tangled chipmunk. The little guy was fine, but it left me shaken. I started checking every day until it seemed that all was well.

Until today. I found the sparrow while watering the garden. The poor bird struggled to escape. Using garden gloves and scissors, I carefully snipped the net and spoke calmly. I hoped that would be all, just like the chipmunk. Then I noticed its bloodied wing. She couldn’t fly and struggled to stand. Fighting against the sinking feeling, I called the local wildlife rehab and prepared to transport the sparrow. I opened the box I put her in just before we left and found her stiff, lifeless body.

I felt awful. I still feel awful. I cried and my husband hugged me.

The thing is, I kept pulling regular omens relating to warnings from the land spirits. I couldn’t figure out what it was. The consistency was alarming, and I started to wonder if it could be a larger warming due to everything else going on in the world. Today, when I held that tiny lifeless bird, it all solidified.

They’d been telling me, begging me, to take it down. I should have done it after the chipmunk. I should have known…

When I called the rehab to let her know what happened, she comforted me and shared a similar story. Only she listened to the first one. She said the bird bit her, telling her to take it down.

The netting is gone. We buried the bird beneath the birch sapling, a symbol of new beginnings. I promised to get rid of it, and I did. I ripped it all off and put it away. I have to figure out what to do with it. Perhaps I can re purpose it elsewhere in the home to keep it out of the landfills. The thought of other creatures, especially ocean animals, getting tangled in it, horrifies me. I felt so guilty while I untangled the bird. It wasn’t fair. She wasn’t even going after my squash – she was eating the bugs! Thinking of the many, many animals tangled up in garden and fishing netting … it breaks my heart. And I just contributed to that atrocity.

It’s not worth it. I need to find a way to share. I think of the vineyard where I went blueberry picking. Nothing is covered in netting, but there’s enough to go around. I just need to add more blueberries, plant more squash, and plan to share with my wild cousins.

There has to be a better way. We all have to find a better way.

We all need to be better listeners…

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I wanted to use my patio table as a temporary altar to do some work under the full moon. I had forgotten the potatoes I harvested and left there (oops). Then I realized this was perfect! My magic could tap into that fertile potato crop energy. With a clear sky, a bright moon, and a chorus of crickets, I set to work with the help of the potatoes that I lovingly tended for several months. I still have some dirt under my fingernails to prove it! My time outside with the moon and my spirit allies was fantastic. One of the best solo rites I’ve performed in awhile. I felt so connected and in the moment. It’s exactly what I needed.

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Full Moon Rite with Potatoes – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019

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