Archive for the ‘Earth Mother’ Category



I love working in my kitchen.  When I’m there, I feel close to Brighid, my patroness and guardian of the hearth.  Over the years, I’ve turned into a real foodie.  I love making my own food.  If I can grow it, that’s even better!  The kitchen is a great place to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.  Although we’re not perfect, Weretoad and I have been making considerable efforts!

I was really, really pleased to get a food dehydrator as a holiday gift from my parents.  Drying is one of the oldest forms of food preservation.  I’ve been doing a bit myself the old fashioned way – mostly with herbs and chili peppers from my garden.  This new dehydrator will allow me to dry larger quantities of food quickly and using very little energy.  Last night we dried two bunches of mini bananas that were on their way out and dirt cheap at the grocery store.  Sure they’re not local.  They weren’t organic either.  But using old bananas that would have been thrown out anyway is very sustainable!  They are so delicious too.  They aren’t like the typical banana chips bought in stores, which are usually fried before drying.  These are chewy like a gummy candy!




As I write this, I’m making tonight’s dinner – stew and dumplings thanks to my father’s dumpling recipe.  A few years ago, I was more likely to make some sort of vegetarian hamburger helper type meal – something from a package.  To a busy gal more focused on literature than food, they seemed healthy.  As I’ve grown, I’ve become more interested in what is on my plate.  Where did it come from?  What’s in it?  Is it really good for me?  Again, we’re not perfect, but we’ve made huge strides in making a majority of our meals from scratch or from local/organic products.  Making food in the traditional way, I feel, brings me closer to the Kindreds.  Working in the kitchen, as I said, strengthens my relationship to Brighid of the hearth.  Using better ingredients brings me closer to the Nature Spirits.  Preparing meals from scratch rather than from a box and becoming more and more familiar with traditional methods brings me closer to my ancestors.

We don’t feel that we’re perfect (we have lazy moments) and our journey towards better sustainability continues.  It is a very Druidic journey, in my opinion.  Witches and Druids who strive for a closeness with the Earth should take such a journey.  Some of you may disagree with me, but it’s something I believe very strongly.


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Offerings to gather:

Earth Mother: herbs

Outdwellers: beer (to be placed in a separate bowl)

Earth: salt

Sea: water

Sky: incense

Manannan (Gatekeeper): beer

Nature Spirits: bird seed

Ancestors: fruit (apples?)

Gods: Whiskey

Brighid: Token I made

An Dagda: Token I made

Return offerings: Oil

Additional Needs:

Ogham for the omen

Wine for the return flow

A ring for the oath

Before the Ritual: I will purify myself with water and incense.

  1. Processional

We Approach The Sacred Grove

(Words and music by Sean Miller)

We approach the Sacred Grove
With hearts and minds and flesh and bone
Join us now in ways of old
We have come home.

2.      Opening Prayer / Statement of Purpose

I am here today to honor the Kindreds and to make an oath to the ways of Druidism, Irish polytheism, the Old Ways, and the Old Gods.

  1. Purification

[Prayer and offering to be made in the south where an offering bowl will be placed]

Outdwellers!  Powers of chaos!  Although I recognize your purpose in the world, I desire peace for my ritual.  I respectfully ask that you leave me and my rite in peace.  Please accept this beer and let us be.

  1. Honoring the Earth Mother

[I will call to and honor the Earth Mother with a chant]

Earth Mother (Author Unknown)

Earth Mother, we honor your body
Earth Mother, we honor your bones
Earth Mother, we sing to your spirit
Earth Mother, we sing to your stones

[I will then give the Earth Mother a kiss.]

Earth Mother, you are the source of all life.  I am grateful for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me and I give you this offering of herbs in thanks.  Earth mother, I honor you!


  1. (Re)Creating the Cosmos
    • Establish the Sacred Center

[This will be done with the Two Powers meditation.  I will speak it aloud.]

    • Acknowledge the three realms

May the Earth not open up and swallow us! [Chanted while an offering of salt is given.]

May the Seas not rise up and drown us! [Chanted while an offering of water is given.]

May the Sky not fall down upon us! [Chanted while an offering of incense is given.]


    • Establishing the Vertical Axis:

[I will chant and make the offerings simultaneously.]

Portal Song (Words by Ian Corrigan) –

Come we now to the well
The eye and the mouth of earth
Come we now to the well
And silver we bring
Come we now to the well
The waters of rebirth
Come we now to the well
Together we sing

By fire and by water between the earth and sky
We stand like the world tree ,
Rooted deep, crowned high
By fire and by water between the earth and sky
We stand like the world tree ,
Rooted deep, crowned high

We will kindle a fire
Bless, all and with harm to none
We will kindle a fire
And offering pour
We will kindle a fire
A light ‘neath the moon and sun
We will kindle a fire
Our spirits will soar


Gather we at the tree
The root and the crown of all
Gather we at the tree
Below and above
Gather we at the tree
Together we make our call
Gather we at the tree
In wisdom and love



  1. Opening the Gates

[I will call to Manannan Mac Lir as Gatekeeper.]

I call to Manannan Mac Lir, he who walks between the worlds!  He who rides the waves like horses!  He whose cloak separates the realms!

Manannan, I humbly ask that you allow me to reach the Other World so that I may make offerings and give honor to the Kindreds.  Please protect me as I walk the path and aid me in my rite!  I give you this offering of beer to thank you for your help.

Manannan Mac Lir, I ask that you join your magic with mine, and when our magic is joined: let the fire open as a gate to the upper world; let the bowl open as a gate to the under world, and let the wand grow into the World Tree which connects the upper, middle, and lower worlds.

Let the Gates be open! [I will say this loudly while gesturing with my hands that the Gates have been opened.]

  1. Inviting the Three Kindreds

Nature Spirits

Nature spirits, you have always been with me.  From the beginnings of my life, you have inspired me to be creative and imitate you.  I have always wanted to be one with you, to shape shift into you.  I will forever try to channel your energy so that I can emulate you, my brothers and sisters.  I know that our relationship is imperfect, but every day I try harder to live in better harmony with you.

Please join me as I perform this oath rite.  Nature spirits, please accept this offering of bird seed.  Nature spirits, I honor you!

Triad Chant (Words by Phoenix)

Earth child, Wild one, born of the Earth
Call to us, and sing to us, creatures of the Earth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh


Ancient Ancestors! The more I study your homelands, the more I honor and respect you, Ancestors, and oh how I long to set my feet upon your homelands so that I can be closer to you.    Every day, I feel your old ways and thought patterns entering into my own.  I am grateful for your lessons.  Recent Ancestors!  As my connection to our older kin grows, I learn to value you more and more, especially those of you who I knew in this realm.  I know that death is not an end and that we are ever entwined.  Rest assured that I will continue to honor you, and that you will always have a bite to eat at Samhain.

Please join me as I perform this oath rite.  Ancestors, please accept this offering of fruit.  Ancestors, I honor you!

Triad Chant (Words by Phoenix)

Ancestors, Spirit, Blood, one with the Earth
Call to us, and dream with us, teach us of our worth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh


Shining Ones!  Since I was very young I have felt a connection to you.  Mighty Tuatha de Dannan, it took me awhile to find you, but your pull kept me searching.  I never gave up.  You inspired me to question the status quo, to learn, to create, and to grow as an individual.  You gave art a greater meaning, you gave love a greater meaning, and you gave life a greater meaning.  I will continue to ponder our connection all my days, but rest assured, I will never turn my back on you.  I have felt you too strongly.  Even Gods of other tribes, I have felt them too – felt their arms around me, felt their care for humanity, felt their desire for contact, and felt their existence.  Great Ones, I believe that you inspire me and bless me.  I believe that you protect me and guide me when you feel that I need it.  I believe that I am a part of your tribe in the mortal realm and that, as elders and powerful Druids, you deserve honor, respect, and love.

Please join me as I perform this oath rite.  Great ones, please accept this offering of whiskey.  Mighty Gods, I honor you!

Triad Chant (Words by Phoenix)

Shining one, wisdom filled, healers of the Earth
Call to us, and be with us, show us what we’re worth
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh
Ay ya, Ay ya Oh

  1. Offerings to my Patrons


Brighid: Goddess of hearth, home, and healing well; Goddess of poetry, crafts, and divination – I call to you!  I invite you here to witness my oath rite.

Brighid, I feel you in the art that I create, in the food that I cook, and in poetry and song.  I feel you in fire and water.  You inspire me to create.  Every day, I strive to honor you and emulate your sacred ways. I hope that our relationship grows.  Brighid, I give you this offering in thanks for your many blessings.  Brighid, I honor you!

An Dagda

An Dagda: laughing God of magic; God of life and death; God of abundance; God of virility – I call to you!  I invite you here to witness my oath rite.

I have felt your presence much this past year.  You always seem to be watching over me, protecting a member of your mortal tribe.  I feel you when I receive gifts, in the cycles of life, and in the arms of my mate.  Every day, I strive for your attitude and humor.  Every day, I strive to honor and emulate your sacred ways.  May our connection grow.  An Dagda, I give you this offering in thanks for your many blessings.  An Dagda, I honor you!


  1. Omen

[I will chant while drawing ogham.  Once the ogham has been drawn, I will stop chanting and meditate on the meaning.]

Speak To Me (Words by Phoenix)

Speak to me,
Speak to me Goddesses.
Speak to me,
Speak to me all the Gods.


  1. Return Flow

Kindreds, I have given my gifts to you.  And as my tribe says, a gift calls for a gift.  As I have given to you, I know you will send greater blessings to me.  I am forever grateful for them.

[I will hold up a glass of wine and visualize the Kindreds who have gathered standing with me.  I will see their blessings flow into the glass.]

Behold – the waters of life!

[I will drink.]

  1. Oath

Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Gods, and Patrons: I have called you here so that you may hear this oath that I make to you.

Kindreds, I declare to you my devotion to the ways of Druidism and Irish Polytheism.  I declare myself a Pagan, a walker of the old paths, a seeker of the old knowledge.  I worship the Old Gods and honor my ancestors and the spirits of nature.  I believe in the sanctity of life and the value and spirit of Nature.  I swear to the Gods my tribe swears by  to keep the sacred ways and maintain the holy rites.

This ring symbolizes my spirituality.  In the center is the holy spiral, symbolic of the cycles of life.  From childhood through adulthood, I have always been attracted to the spiral.  I would doodle them in notebooks, spin them on the lawn, and trace them in foggy windows.  On either side of the spiral is a triquetra, a symbol of the three realms, the three Kindreds, and many other triads.

This ring is symbolic of my spirituality, and by placing it on my finger, I declare my devotion to my path. Let it be known that Grey Catsidhe is a follower of Druidism, a priestess to the Tuatha de Dannan, and a child of the Earth.

If I should ever fail you by bringing shame to my path or my tribe, may the Earth open up and swallow me, may the Sea rise up to drown me, and may the sky fall down upon me.

Kindreds, witness my devotion!

[I will place the ring on my right middle finger.  My right hand is my most used and thus I pay more attention to it.  The index finger wears a ring from my mother and my ring finger wears a birth stone from my parents.  My middle finger, as the longest finger of my most used hand, becomes a suitable seat for the symbol of my spirituality.  I will end by chanting.]

I Am Of the Earth – by Grey Catsidhe

I am of the Earth

I am of the Earth

I am of the Earth

Oh I am of the Earth…

  1. Thanking the Beings

An Dagda

An Dagda, I am grateful for your joining me.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  An Dagda, I thank you!


Blessed Brighid, I am grateful for your presence.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Brighid, I thank you!

Shining Ones

Great Gods, I thank you for your presence today.  I hope that you enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return. Gods, I thank you!


Mighty Dead, I thank you for joining me.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Ancestors, I thank you!

Nature Spirits

Beings of land, sea, and sky, I thank you for joining me.  I hope that you have enjoyed my gifts and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Nature spirits, I thank you!

  1. Closing the Gates

I call to you once more, Manannan Mac Lir, guardian of the veil!  I thank you for your protection and aid to me as I made my oath rite.  I hope that the offerings I made were to your liking and that you accept my oath.  Please accept this offering of oil in thanks.  I give it to you in love while asking nothing in return.  Manannan, I thank you!

[Offering is made.]

Manannan, son of Lir, I ask that your join your magic with mine.  When our magic is joined, let the gate to the upper world be but a candle.  Let the gate to the under world be but a bowl.  And let the tree that connects the upper, middle, and lower worlds be but a branch.  Let everything be as it once was.

Let the Gates be closed!

[The closing of the Gates will be accompanied by a hand gesture.]

  1. Thanking the Earth Mother

Earth Mother, source of life, I thank you for your blessings as you witnessed my rite.  I hope that my gifts and my oath have been acceptable.  To you, I give all remaining offerings as it is your due.  Earth Mother, I thank you!

  1. Closing the Rite

Walk With Wisdom (Words by Sable)

Walk with wisdom, from this hallowed place.
Walk not in sorrow, our roots shall ere embrace.
May strength be your brother, and honor be your friend,
And luck be your lover, until we meet again.


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Ireland has captured my imagination, for better or for worse.  A few years earlier, I never would have believed that I would be seriously studying Irish lore, Irish history, considering learning the Irish language, and worshiping the Irish Gods.  A few years ago, the Irish Gods were “the strange Gods with even stranger names.”  In a society that seems to idolize the Greeks and Romans, we’re just more familiar with their mythology and history.  As a fledgling Pagan, I really tried to make those cultures central to my worship.  In the end, Ireland finally got the attention I now realize it was trying to get all along.

It isn’t that I hated Ireland as a younger me.  In fact, I was very much enamored with anything medieval, and Ireland started to attract me then.  In middle school I went through a phase where I had to read about medieval castles, swords, history, and clothing. I was obsessed with the legend of King Arthur and Merlin.  Above all, I was captivated by Irish music, especially harp music.

Upon finding ADF I felt like I was already feeling a call from the Tuatha de Danann.  I wasn’t sure what to do with this calling, but ADF gave me helpful hints and I began to read voraciously about Ireland.  My interest in medieval culture came back, along with an even greater interest in Ancient Ireland.  At first, the books I read were confusing.  Again, I was dealing with “those strange Gods with the even stranger names.”  As I went along, I soon realized that I was growing more and more familiar, and thus comfortable, with the culture and the Gods.

I first realized how akin the old Irish ideas about the world were to my own.  The Irish respected and even venerated nature as do I.  They didn’t see a separation of the mundane and the magical/spiritual, and nor do I.  The old Irish were polytheistic and so am I.  They felt that art, knowledge, and truth were some of the most important and powerful things, and so do I.  Yet there was more than that.  Something just clicked.

Before I knew it, the ADF rituals started to make sense.  When I first attended a grove, although it was a lovely experience, I was reminded of long, Catholic masses full of mystery.  Through studying the lore and history, I realized that there was a pattern being followed.  I started to understand Gatekeepers, the three realms, the three Kindreds, and so many other theological subjects within ADF through a Celtic, especially Irish, frame of mind.  Somehow, during the voracious reading I was doing, I started to internalize the culture bit by bit.  I found that I believed in the Otherworld, fairies, and even found myself a bit fearful of the Pooka around Samhain.  I pray to the Gods and thank them often.  Slowly but surely, Irish concepts are leaking into my art.  I’ve been sewing dolls that resemble the Tuatha de Danann and incorporating spirals into my projects.   The number three has become very important to me.  I don’t feel like I forced myself to think in this way – I believe that it happened slowly and over time.  I know I will never actually be Irish, but I think it’s important to have a good grasp of a pantheon’s culture, and through the study of said culture, I find myself adopting its ways, however small.  I intend to continue my Irish cultural studies and I’m sure that, by doing so, my perception of the world will shift even more.

Academics aside, I do put a lot of effort into spiritual practice as well.  I try to meditate as often as possible.  It’s sometimes difficult to make the time, but when I do it is very relaxing and refreshing.  I am hoping to study trance in the near future.

I now have a lovely altar in my room.  Every day, usually at night, I perform a simple daily devotional in which I light candles for the Three Kindreds.  I’ve started to form a relationship with the Goddess Brighid and her father The Dagda.  I have representations of them on my altar, a doll of Brighid that I made and a large rock I found on a hike which I dedicated to The Dagda.  I think about their influence in my life a lot and try to learn as much about them as I can.  In Brighid’s case, I’ve joined a flame-keeping group and light a special candle for her each month.  I also feel that practicing a form of art is a way to worship Brighid as she is a Goddess of creativity and crafts.  I bought a small lap harp at an Irish Festival a year ago.  It seemed appropriate because of my love of Irish harp playing and The Dagda’s relationship to harps.  Every so often, I pick the instrument up and attempt to learn something new which I feel is a way to honor him. I pray a lot as well.  In some ways that may be a carry-over from my Catholic upbringing, but I don’t see praying as a negative thing.  I believe that talking to the Gods strengthens our bonds with them.  Every morning, I have a prayer ritual in which I put on the Brighid talisman I have while saying:

I thank the Three Kindreds for their guidance, protection, blessings, and inspiration.

May they continue to bless myself, those I love, and the land,

And may I honor them with all I say and do.

Before meals, I say a prayer of thanks that was inspired by Isaac Bonewits’ book Pagan Man:

I thank the Earth Mother for the food before me,

I thank the men and women who toiled in field, farm, and kitchen to bring this meal to me,

And I thank the plants and animals that had to die so that I could live.

I also have a special prayer that I say to myself when I am on the road, taking a walk, or doing any sort of traveling.  While I don’t necessarily focus on a Gaulish culture, Cernunos has always been very important to me as the Lord of Animals.  And in my readings, I’ve learned that Lugh is a protector of travelers and merchants.  Whenever I transport myself in any way I say, “May Lugh and Cernunos protect me while I travel.”

Aside from my bedroom altar, there are also a couple of shrines I’ve set up outside.  One is right outside the door.  Using a pot, soil, and a fairy statue, I created a shrine for the house spirit.  I felt that it was important for her shrine to be situated in a threshold of sorts because I see her as both a protector of the indoors and the outdoors around my home.  I always acknowledge her as I enter and exit my home.  I sometimes leave offerings of flowers, petals, stones, or other such things.  Further back, as you walk into the forest behind my home, there is another shrine I set up.  I like to give offerings to the Kindreds there, and I feel that it is an especially sacred spot because once, while meditating under that tree, I opened my eyes to see a whole herd of deer standing around me.  It was truly amazing and I felt that the ground was sacred because of that experience.    However, due to the leafy and uneven consistency of the forest floor, I generally don’t do my full rituals there because a flame of any sort would seem dangerous.  I tend to perform outside rituals by my garden under an oak tree using a candle to represent the fire.

Luckily, there are a few groves in Upstate NY.  As of yet, there isn’t one in my hometown of Utica, but I started to visit Muin Mound in Syracuse.  I felt immediately welcomed there.  They tend to perform Celtic rituals for Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lughnasadh, and Norse rituals for the Solstices and Equinoxes.  This is interesting for me because I get to learn about another culture besides my own.  The experiences with them have helped solidify a lot of my thoughts on ADF.  Seeing an ADF ritual performed is more helpful to me than reading about one.  It’s helped me to become more familiar and comfortable with the liturgy.  So much so, in fact, that I’ve lead two Druidic rituals for the local Pagan alliance in Utica – one for Imbolc and one for Beltaine.  While I was nervous about them, they were successful and well-received.  I now feel a calling to become a clergy member within ADF and serve my local Pagan community.  This calling has grown especially strong now that I know there are at least three other ADF members in Utica who would love to see a grove form.

In the meantime, I’ve helped to organize a study group with the other local ADF members.  We are just starting out, but I hope to see it evolve.  In the meantime, it is a place to discuss our spirituality with likeminded individuals. I hope that we can begin performing some rituals, but at the same time, I hope to continue visiting Muin Mound and other groves to keep things fresh and to help inspire me.

I feel very comfortable with my hearth culture.  My world is now full of spirals, Gods, and hidden places of power, and I feel very connected to some of my ancestors.  That is…  some.  While I feel very at home with the Tuatha de Dannan and my Irish hearth culture, my ancestry is not just Celtic but also Germanic.  There are times when I feel little tugs from Norse Gods, like Thor, and I feel that it is because I’m ignoring a part of my genes.  Here and there, I’ve picked up a book on Germanic culture and lore.  I hope to one day figure out how to balance between these two hearth cultures.  It will take some time, study, and practice, but I’m sure that I will be able to do it.

As I near completing my Dedicant Program I look forward to the future and what it brings to my soul.  I can see myself serving my community, growing as an artist through spirituality, learning more and more about the world around me, growing more adept at meditation, and learning Irish.  I hope that I am one day able to help lead a nemeton and provide guidance for future Druids.  ADF has given me reason to want to serve the Pagan community at large rather than just myself.


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In my early days of Pagan study and worship, it was easiest for me to connect with and understand the Nature Spirits.  I was raised to respect them and even taught by my mother to believe in fairies and unicorns, even if they were part of a different reality than our own.  As time went by, I forged some bonds with deities, but it wasn’t until taking up the Dedicant Program that I was truly able to feel connected to and understand the Three Kindreds of Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Gods.

While I very much believed in the unseen Nature Spirits as a child, I was more aware and interested in the visible and tangible.  I have always cared deeply for plants and animals and have been an environmentalist from an early age.  As I grew, my animism developed and I came to the realization that there really was more to the natural world than met the eye.  As a child, I was bombarded with the modern myth of fairies – little, beautiful creatures with wings and fairy dust.  I am still very much attracted to this image and often incorporate such creatures into my artwork, but I’ve come to realize that the Spirits of Nature are as varied as people and that they can be perceived by humans as beautiful, silent, loud, mischievous, disgusting, and, perhaps, aggressive. While some are weaker than humans, others are much, much stronger. Studying Irish folklore and mythology has given me a more mature frame of perception in regards to the Nature Spirits.   They are, indeed, the unseen forces of nature that can be creative, like a spirit attached to a garden, or destructive, like the Pooka of Irish lore, and they can come in any guise.  In my own spiritual work, I’ve found that I believe that all beings, even the rocks and trees, have souls, and so I feel that they are also Nature Spirits worthy of respect and, in some cases, veneration.

So how do I perceive the Nature Spirits?  They are the birds and the song that they sing.  They are the rocks in the earth.  They are the drops of rain.  They are the wind rustling the trees.  They are the sequins of sunlight that splash through the forest canopy.  They are the trees, alive and decaying.  They are the dandelions poking up through cement sidewalks.  They are the ferrets cohabiting with me in my bedroom.  They are the unseen creatures that move my things without any explanation. They are the rotting corpses of animals on the streets.  They are the diseases that we get.  They are the unseen forces in the dark.  They are at work outside making the flowers and vegetables grow. They are present within the upper, middle, and lower worlds and represent all the elements.  I believe that my existence is inextricably linked to theirs and so they deserve to be honored and treated with respect, like brothers and sisters who have their own wants, needs, and motivations.  I may not always like what the Nature Spirits have in store, but I’m sure they don’t always agree with me either!  As with human siblings, we have to give and take equally and learn to live in harmony with each other.

I am always trying to stay connected with my brothers and sisters or nature, as well as the Earth Mother, whom I see as a Goddess and mother of all life.  I try to learn about the seen and unseen Nature Spirits, and I try to live in harmony with them through environmentalism and vegetarianism.  I thank them before eating.  I remember them in my rituals and make offerings to them.  I’ve kept in mind that some offerings may be harmful to nature spirits, and so I avoid chocolate and sharp objects left out in the open.  My favorite offerings to give are flowers and birdseed.

I will speak of the Gods next, not because they are less important than the Ancestors, but because my relationship and familiarity with them was the easiest for me to experience next.  Despite my Roman Catholic upbringing, I always had a fascination with mythology from a very early age.  One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons was a series of animated Greek and Roman myths.  The exploits of Herakles, Castor, Pollox, and Jason mesmerized me and the Gods captivated my imagination.  Visiting museums and seeing statues from Egypt amazed me.  Who were these mysterious beings?  The statues exuded a power.  For me, this power was a calling and made me want to dance. I continually felt the pull of the Old Gods.  The more I read about them and devoted time to them, the more they seemed to “talk” to me. At first, it was difficult to go from monotheism to the duotheism of Wicca.  There was a certain taboo about it and, with it, a certain fear of the unknown.  Gradually, I started to form a relationship with Gods and Goddesses.  First it was the Greek and Egyptian Gods, probably because I was most familiar with them.  I had dreams of Dionysus and Bast.  It was easy as an eclectic Wiccan to worship both at the same time, but it wouldn’t satisfy me for long.

Here I am, a few years later, worshiping the Tuatha de Danann of the Irish.  I don’t know how it happened, and it was probably through my love of Irish music and Arthurian myth, but I was called by the Old Gods of the Green Isle, the home of my ancestors.  As with the Nature Spirits, studying Irish myth and legend has helped me to understand the Tuatha de Danann immensely.  Studying the myths and legends of other cultures has deepened my awareness of many other deities.  My Roman Catholicism and its veneration of various saints helped ease me into polytheism, and I now consider myself a hard polytheist.  I believe that, for the most part, the Gods can reside in any of the three realms and often interact with and interbreed with the Nature Spirits.  Because the Gods are so tied to the land and various natural phenomena, they further sanctify the environment.  Some of the Gods, like the Tuatha de Danann, are local deities and so I’ve come to believe that they mostly live in Ireland.  The same is probably true for other deities as well, such as Aphrodite dwelling primarily on the island of Cyprus.  However, as the Gods are more powerful than humans, I believe that they can interact with humans who are far from their sanctuaries.  While I don’t believe that you have to be Irish to love and worship the Tuatha de Danann, I can’t help but feel that my connection to them is partially due to my blood ties to Ireland.  I feel that it enables an easier connection. I also feel that repeated ritual and interaction with certain deities at an altar or through a talisman can, in some way, create a home away from home for them and that their energy becomes imbibed in foreign places where they are frequently made welcome (such as the powerful seeming statues in museums).  I also think that Gods associated with certain energies, such as arts, can manifest while a person is tapping into those energies.  I believe that the Gods are the most powerful and wise of the Three Kindreds and that they know how to use magic in ways that humans can only dream of.  Like the Nature Spirits, and like human beings, I believe that the Gods are all individual and have their own personalities, faults, and motivations.  Many, like Brighid, Odin, Thor, or Prometheus, have given us different arts and protect humanity.  Others, like the Morrigan or Loki, are a bit harder for me to understand and seem more interested in protecting the land or chaos rather than the tribe.  I don’t consider them evil – they have their place, but they can be hard for humans to relate to. As a former Catholic, it is hard for me not to subjugate myself to the Gods.  I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to do, but I think the Tuatha de Danann, or the Gods of any other Pagan culture, prefer that their followers view them more as kin – incredibly powerful and wise kin – but kin all the same.  I envision them to be a bit like parents, teachers, or tribal leaders.

I try to connect to the Gods in many ways.  The first is through study.  My fascination with mythology and ancient history has eclipsed all other academic interests.  Not only am I learning about other cultures and world history, but I am having fun as it is intrinsically satisfying.  Perhaps it is because through study that I am able to get to know the Gods and the other Kindreds and so my soul becomes happy.  I also connect to the Gods through ritual, meditation, prayer, art, and dance.  In ritual, I am able to express my love for the Gods and honor them for their many blessings.  In meditation, I am able to contemplate and maybe even receive a message from them.  In prayer, I talk to them.  I mostly thank them for any number of things, but there are times when I ask for help as well.  I always ask that Lugh, protector of travelers, and Cernunos, the Gaulish God of animals, protect me or those I love while on the road.  I also pray in thanks before each meal.  I feel that I’m able to connect to the Gods through art and dance because those activities connect me to a very spiritual part of my brain and soul and allow me to open up to the inspiration of the Gods, especially to Brighid.  Dance is especially helpful because it can put me into a trance and open me up in ways similar to meditation.  Another way I show the Gods I care is through service to them and the other Kindreds.  By leading rituals and keeping to my oaths, I am building lifelong relationships with allies who deserve to be honored due to their many positive influences in my life.  I no longer consider myself an eclectic Wiccan duotheist but a hard polytheist, a priestess to the Tuatha de Danann, and a Druid in training with Celtic Reconstructionist tendencies.  I feel that the Tuatha de Danann called me to this.

Finally, ADF has helped me form a closer bond with my ancestors.  When I began to study and practice Paganism, I didn’t consider my ancestors as part of my belief system.  I knew that Native Americans and Shintos highly honored their dead and, in some instances, created altars for them.  The only real emphasis on the ancestors in Wicca was to remember them on Samhain.  There were a few Samhains where, indeed, I felt their presence strongly. Some books recommended that special altars be made, or that places be set aside for the ancestors at a Samhain meal.  I never really did that – at most I threw some bread out for the souls of the dead as an afterthought.  As a whole, it felt that Wicca only honored the ancestors on a certain holiday and forgot about them for the rest of the year.  Because of this, my connection with the ancestors was not considered and not developed until I began my Druidic studies.

A year or so before my calling to Druidry, my Aunt Debbie died of cancer and I felt that I should do something special for her on Samhain.  I made her a bouquet of evergreens as I felt they symbolized never ending life.  I wasn’t sure where her grave stone was (indeed, she had yet to have a stone installed), so I tossed the bouquet into the air and did not look back at where it landed, content to believe she caught it.  I did not even think that throwing it meant the bouquet was trash rather than a gift.  To me, it was the easiest way to make an offering to her.

As I’ve progressed through ADF, I’ve felt a stronger pull to my ancestors.  It feels as if they are happy to be part of my daily practice.  I light a candle for my ancestors as part of my daily ritual.  At larger holidays, more is offered.  I feel like the ancestors really do watch over us.  Whether they are right with us or watching from a distance when they feel it necessary, I do not know.   Celtic lore says that the dead go to the Otherworld, and I do believe in such a place, but I can’t help but feel that they are able to communicate with us in some way, especially around Samhain and Beltaine.   I believe that care and concern do not end at death.  I also believe that some of the dead can get trapped in the world of the living as ghosts.

I would like to honor more of my ancestors on Samhain such as my Grandmother and Grandfather.  Truly, I think of my ancestors every day now, but I feel that the entire day of Samhain should be planned around visiting the graves of relatives.  Honoring ancestors needn’t only be about immediate relatives or even recent friends and relations.  When I visited England a few years ago, I felt very connected to the land.  I was very much aware of a presence linked to my own blood.  As I toured historical landmarks like White Tower, Westminster Abbey, or even Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris or St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, I felt as if I was connecting with people from long ago.  I was so aware of the feet that had walked where I was walking, wearing down the stone steps until they were smooth with time.

Today I do my best to honor and remember my ancestors.  I make offerings, verbally thank the ancestors, read their stories, research their land, and anticipate visiting my ancestral homelands.  We are here because of our ancestors and we should not limit our celebration of them to one day in the year.

Because the ancestors are human, it seems that they would have been the easiest for me to connect to.  It may have something to do with my grandfather’s obsessive interest in genealogy.  I’ve had my ancestors pounded into my head since a very young age, so I may have been resistant to thinking any more about them.  I’ve also considered their humanity to be a deterrent, possibly because I’ve viewed them as just mundane humans who died a long time ago. To a younger me, otherworldly beings were infinitely more fascinating.  Having matured, I’ve realized the importance of family and heritage.  I am proud of where I come from.  I often ponder my Irish and Germanic background.  I worship the Tuatha de Danann, but I sometimes feel the pull of my Germanic ancestors.  I sometimes wonder if there is an easy way to integrate the two hearth cultures together to satisfy my gene pool.

The Three Kindreds have many differences, and yet they have many similarities too.  This essay could extend for pages as I contemplate the many ways that they overlap.  Their main similarity, as far as I’m concerned, is that they have made my spiritual path seem whole and balanced.  Honoring the Three Kindreds not only helps me to form bonds with the Gods, but it keeps me connected to the Nature Spirits with whom I cohabit, and helps me to remember my very large, very extended family.  I am grateful to have grown closer to the Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Gods and hope that my ability to honor, love, and worship them deepens and matures with the years.


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It was always easy for me to connect with The Nature Spirits.  Upon reflection, I must confess that it was the Nature Spirits who originally helped me decide to turn to Paganism.  I’ve always been an environmentalist.  At a very early age, I started to learn about animals, ecosystems, and the huge amount of damage humans were inflicting upon the Earth Mother and her children.  At the age of five, I was making “Save the Rainforest” posters with crayons and construction paper.  I hung these at the local ice cream and candy shop.  At the age of eight, I became a “beady-eyed vegetarian” and only ate white meat.  At seventeen, I became a full-fledged vegetarian and am still one to this day for environmental reasons.

My parents raised me to care about nature to some degree or another.  My mother taught me compassion for all living things.  I was warned to never to step on an ant because, one day, I might be that ant.  I learned very quickly that animals do have a soul and emotions.
Even now I can’t help but put myself in their place and imagine how they feel.  My father taught me how to grow gardens full of vegetables. Out of his interest in camping, he taught me simple survival techniques such as fishing, boating, and how to make fires.  He always did so with reverence.  He was a volunteer fireman and taught me that nature, like fire, was to be honored and respected because, just as it could give life, it could also take it away.

I took the teachings of my parents to the next level and came to the conclusion that nature was worthy of worship.  I discovered Paganism around the same time I was becoming a full-fledged vegetarian.  I was amazed that there were contemporary religions in existence that not only honored but worshiped the Earth Mother and her creatures.  I felt like I had come home. This went along well with my maturing environmentalism and vegetarianism.  While I will be the first to say that Pagans aren’t required to be vegetarians (nor should all vegetarians be Pagan!), I do think that environmentalism and, therefore, conscious eating, should be a requirement.  This also isn’t to say that all environmentalists must give up eating meat – simply that it’s important for us to consider where our food comes from.  This train of thinking carried me to vegetarianism, but if it carries others to hunt for or raise their own meat, I believe that those are also conscious, eco-friendly approaches to eating.

Eating local vegetables and fruits has also become important to me.  While it’s harder to do so in the winter, I do my best to purchase organic food to avoid chemicals. My goal is to one day eat locally and within season.  Some environmentally-minded friends and I are going to learn how to can and preserve food this autumn so that we can eat local food in the winter.  In the meantime, I’m working on a small vegetable garden.  Working with the soil, water, and sun to bring life out of little seeds has helped me to connect to the life cycles of nature.  Politically, I’ve started to write letters concerning agriculture and the environment to my representatives, and I am currently working on a letter to send to a local Pagan Pride event in regards to the food offered.

I feel lucky to have grown up in a largely rural area.  While I’m certainly not a scholar on the local flora and fauna, I’m always surprised when Pagan authors suggest that a good way to start forming a relationship with the Earth is to learn about such things as what type of birds live in one’s area, what the first flowers to appear in the spring are, and what plants you can eat.  I sometimes take it for granted that I was able to observe these things first hand or learn about them from knowledgeable adults.  I’ve always been a student of nature but I still have much to learn.  I have an interest in sustainable living and thus I would like to learn about the many edible plants in my own yard.  I’ve purchased some books and have gone to some workshops, resulting in some interesting experimental salads!

In addition to healthy, conscious eating habits, my fiancé and I are also trying to be conscious consumers.  We do our best to recycle, research products, and find eco-friendly merchandise.  I’ve switched to eco-friendly deodorants, shampoos, makeup, and toothpaste.  We are also trying to switch to eco-friendly cleaning products.  At the same time, we know it’s important not to waste and so we continue to use those products that we already own.  We have also made an effort to reduce the number of plastic bags we use by limiting how much we purchase, carrying products without a bag, or using reusable canvas bags.  As far as cars are concerned, we share my little Saturn and get 30-35 mpg. We try to carpool or walk to as many places as possible.  It’s difficult where work is concerned, but I believe that every little bit helps and that even baby steps are a step in the right direction.

I said that I still have much to learn.  Some of my latest lessons in nature have come from the city.  My fiancé lives in the city of Utica and I spend a lot of time at his apartment.  These past few years have presented new lessons – lessons about the flora and fauna of the city. I’m now learning that people in the city aren’t as cut off from nature as I once believed.  In fact I think that urban Pagans who are able to find a connection in a city are probably more appreciative than those of us who live in the country.  The more time I spend in the city, the more I’ve come to appreciate the value of my parents’ forested backyard.  I’ve started to consciously look for examples of nature within the city so that I can maintain my connection.  I pay attention to what the trees are doing, I notice and praise the dandelions poking through the sidewalk, and I smile when I see a skunk ambling across the street at night.  Nature spirits are everywhere and one need only look.

My practical experiences are very spiritual.  When I first started to read about ancient Pagans, I remember reading about how they didn’t categorize activities as either spiritual or mundane – they were all spiritual in some way.  I feel myself entering that frame of mind.  When I am in my garden watering the seedlings, I am engaging in an age-old ritual and connecting to the spirits of the land.  When it rains, I thank the rain because it is helping everything to grow.  When it snows, I pray that the snow spirits will be kind to me.  I think that, while I’ve always had animistic tendencies, Druidry has helped me to develop them to the point where I really do feel that everything has some sort of soul or energy.  I feel intertwined with it all and it makes me even more aware of the delicate balance that exists on Earth.  My conscious efforts to be an eco-minded consumer are ways of affirming my connection and devotion to the Earth Mother and her children.

Of course I also feel happiness simply existing in nature.  I love to go for walks in the forest behind my home.  I have a little shrine set up by a tree – a boundary marker, really.  I feel that it is the true entrance into the forest.  I make offerings there from time to time and visit often to feel the presence of the unseen world around me.  I love to meditate outside, to feel the wind through my hair, to make offerings to the fairies. I feel more alive in the forests, mountains, and lakes. In many ways, the Nature Spirits are my first love and it only makes sense for me to dedicate my life to them as a priestess.  However, without the acts of conscious eating and consuming, the offerings and nature walks would be little more than empty gestures.  ADF has helped me to see that my life’s work is, above all else, to honor, worship, and serve the spirits of Earth.


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Creating a shrine was not a difficult requirement for me as I’ve been making altars for a few years.  The challenge, however, was making an altar in accordance with a hearth culture and within a Druidic framework.  Having started on a Pagan path through Wicca, I was used to having certain articles on my altar.  When I realized that Wicca was not the path for me, I abandoned some of the traditional tools, such as the athame, and turned my altar into a mishmash of significance.  It was only through the deep introspection and study of mythology encouraged by ADF that I was able to build a shrine that was truly important to me and symbolic of my faith.

When I first started to think about putting together an altar for ADF, I knew it would have to be different from my past altars.  It would require space for offering bowls, something I’d never dealt with before.  My altars used to be built on top of slender bookshelves.  After moving into a new apartment, I decided to use an old vanity that I was not using.

My altar is in the kitchen, the hearth of my home, near the stove.  In the very center of my altar is a representation of the Bile, the world tree.  It is a wand I made from an apple branch, wire, and silver bells, similar to the wand given to Cormac in Irish mythology.  To the right of the tree is a doll/statue I made to represent Brighid.  Below her is a dish with a candle so that I can keep her flame once every month. To the Bile’s left is a large stone representing An Dagda.  I found the stone during a hike I dedicated to him.  Atop the stone is a ring of black twine that is also significant from that hike.  Behind the stone is a lap harp I bought at an Irish Festival.  It always reminds me of An Dagda and his harp of seasons.  Perhaps I will learn to play it one day and I will be able to incorporate it into my rituals!

There is also a representation of the fire and the well on my altar in the form of a candle and a cauldron.  Towards the front of the altar are three small bowls containing tea lights that represent the three Kindreds.  The center candle represents the Gods while the right candle represents the ancestors and the left represents the nature spirits.  In addition to these there is a fourth bowl on the altar into which offerings are given.  There are also a few small incense holders. Everything sits atop a beautiful green altar cloth with black Celtic knots swirling over its surface.  On the wall above my altar are photos of some of my ancestors and a candle that I can light when I want to specifically pay homage to them.  I think the photos serve as poignant reminders of my ancestors and enable me to really connect with them spiritually and emotionally.

All of the items on my altar are significant because they represent something spiritually important whether it’s symbolic of a deity, spirit, or simply the connection I have to the other world or my hearth culture. Seeing these symbols reconnects me and mentally prepares me for the rituals and mediations held before the altar.

I don’t feel that my altar is complete.  There are many improvements that I would like to make to it.  To begin with, I would like to locate more photos of ancestors to put on my wall.  I would also like to find better storage compartments for underneath the altar.  Currently all of my candles are in a cardboard box and everything else is in baskets just sitting there, vulnerable to my two curious cats and all of the fur they shed.  I also look forward to the day when I have a larger home and will have room to expand my altar.  Perhaps I will move it from the kitchen area to the living room to make it more central and accessible to larger worship.  Ideally, it would have its own room one day, complete with prayer mats, a library of Pagan-related books, and soundproof walls for meditation.  One can dream, right?

I have enjoyed creating my Druidic altar.  It has become such a significant focal point in my spiritual life.  Never before did I interact with an altar on a daily basis.  Never before was an altar so important to me.  The altar is not only a shrine to the Kindreds, but a peaceful sanctuary for me.



My altar as of March 2010.

I moved my altar in the autumn of 2010. Here it is incomplete.


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Reading predictions about the future scares me.  Anything about peak oil, the collapse of society as we know it, and/or the dystopian reality we’re supposedly headed to depresses me.  It also fascinates me and inspires me to continue to develop my gardening and other DIY skills.  Signs point to their necessity in the future.

But even if the proverbial shit hits the fan, I still won’t feel ready.  Perhaps that’s why a lot of people tune out environmentalism.  There’s so much doom and gloom.  People don’t want to think about changing their routines, perspectives, and diets because it’s hard.  People don’t like hard.

Not all of us let the difficulty stop us from attempting to change.  We care about the health of our Earth Mother and brother and sister Nature Spirits.  We accept the responsibility.  We stop eating so much garbage and start eating more local/organic/veggie.  We start to make our own cosmetics and cleaning products out of more natural and less harmful materials.  We slowly phase out our use of plastic bags and  paper towels in favor of cloth bags and rags.  We refuse to buy new furniture from Walmart and Target in favor of antiques.  We try to drive less/walk more/bike more/purchase more fuel efficient vehicles.

And yet despite all of those very important baby steps, many of us sometimes feel like we’re floundering.

I once got into an argument with a complete stranger.  She argued that the government isn’t responsible for changing the way people behave.  Individuals need to make better and more informed choices and the smallest changes are the most important.  I agreed with her that making small changes is, indeed, a very important part of moving our society towards sustainability, but I disagreed vehemently about the place of government.  The government’s arguably miniscule changes in environmental policy this past decade are what gets me so depressed.  I can make all the little changes I can stand but, in the end, the government needs to make big changes.

My biggest pet peeve in Northern NY is the lack of mass transit.  There are buses but they are the least convenient things in the world.  Our ability to utilize them is severely limited, rendering them practically useless.  As I wrote yesterday, I want to walk to work more.  We finally have a local farmers’ market but they are still very small.  We were able to go once and walked there, which was wonderful.  We can walk or bike to the post office or the library.  Otherwise, we cannot walk to our local organic/local markets, to the hospital, to the vet, the pharmacy, art supply shops…  We are left dependent on cars.  While I’m very excited about my new car, I lament my continued financial support of the status quo.  I sometimes feel stuck, even while taking control of so many other changes in my life.  My desire for a higher education meant I needed loans which now need paying off.  The economic environment meant I had to move away from a more pedestrian-friendly environment to a rural area because that’s the best I could do.  Stuck stuck stuck.

At least I live in an agricultural wonderland full of many local, organic farmers.  At least I get to breath in fresh country air.  At least my house is powered by the local river.  There.  I’m being optimistic.  🙂

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

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