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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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Learning to perform the Two Powers Meditation was not difficult for me.  As a former Wiccan I was often exposed to different meditations and guided visualizations.  One of the most common meditations, the Tree of Life, shares some characteristics of the Two Powers Meditation of ADF.  Each asks us to reach into the upper and lower realms and absorb some of that world’s energy.  It wasn’t until I started working with the ADF model that I began to consider the symbolic implications of such an exercise.

Regardless of whether I stand or sit, I first feel myself firmly on the Earth’s surface.  I take three deep breaths to establish a mindset.  In this way I am telling myself that it is time to work and think in the symbolic world – the spiritual world.  I feel myself connected to the middle realm – to Midgar, if I may use the term from Norse cosmology.  Two Powers or Tree of Life, I think of myself as the world tree – as Yggdrasil or the Bile. I am suspended between the depth of the underworld and the sky.  I am of the earth and live in a realm of plants, soil, and animals. Whether I see myself as a human being or the actual tree, I am still very much a being of the middle world, pressing my body into the underworld and stretching up to the upperworld.

I imagine that the powers of the underworld are always available to us.  They are deep beneath the surface for spiritual taproots to drink up and they undulate across the earth to seep through our feet.  I experience the energy as a pulse or vibration that crawls (and sometimes shoots) up my legs.  It spirals in my loins, heart, and skull.  This power is both chaotic and ordered.  I imagine the first current as water.  It has the disruptive potential of a tsunami or raging rapids, yet it is also the same calming, healing, and organized power that trickles out of the earth in the form of sacred wells and rivers – the same forces that determine where many settlements are located.  It is the playfulness of the otter and the wisdom of the salmon.  The energies of the underworld are therefore powerful and deep, calming and healing.  Because of the underworld’s association with the dead, this current has a connection to such energies – the potential for rejuvenation and transformation.  The energies are the mysteries of Hades and the creative potential of dwarven smiths.  It is as masculine as the cauldron of An Dagda and as feminine as the holy waters of the Boyne.

When I lift up my hands, fingers outstretched, I call on the energies of the sky – the upperworld.  I reach to the sun and guiding stars.  I cannot say that I feel a temperature from the underworld current but I definitely feel a heat from the upperworld.  It is subtle but there.  Like the first power, the second pulses and sometimes shoots through my body, spiraling in my skull, heart, and loins.  I see it as fire.  It is the chaotic energy of a wildfire or an explosive star, yet it is also the protective campfire and meditative candle.  It is the transformative flame of the alchemists’ lab and Ceridwen’s cooking fire.  It is the passionate energy of lovers, the rage of a warrior in battle, and the inspirational fire in the head.  It is the might of dueling dragons and the all encompassing sight of the high-flying eagle.  It has the masculine energy of Helios’ chariot and Lugh’s spear, but the feminine energy of Brighid and Vesta’s sacred flames and protective hearth fires.

I believe that the primary difference between the Two Powers is that one is more visible and accessible to us.  The powers of the upper world are equated to the sky.  Although the numerous stars that appear at night are distant to us, we can see them and we know our place within the vastness of their territory.  The sun and moon, which are even more noticeable, determine our daily routines.  A layman can look up and try to predict the weather.  The underworld, on the other hand, though equated with water (something very visible to us) seems more concerned with what lies below the land and the surface of the water.  It is very mysterious to us.  The plants grow out of it, caves delve deeply within it, and we bury our dead there.  We cannot quite grasp it in the way we can the upperworld.  That is not to say that the heavens don’t offer any wonder or mystery, but the underworld is certainly more hidden and, I think, spiritually harder to access in a comprehensive way.  This is why the ancients were both amazed and fearful of their blacksmiths, the priests and artisans of the underworld.

When I perform the Two Powers I am able to concentrate on and experience the deep symbolism of the energies.  I believe that the exercise is called the Two Powers because we call on the energies of the upperworld and underworld into ourselves, we being of the middle world – a third power.  Yet as beings familiar with the middle world, it is the powers of the upper and lower realms that truly inspire, empower, and awaken us, hence two powers rather than three.  We are already the third and we seek union with the other two.  By connecting with the upperworld and underworld, I am essentially recreating the cosmology I believe in and thus deepening my spiritual understanding of the other worlds.  The Two Powers not only connect me to the literal realms of upper, lower, and middle worlds, but to the spiritual realms of the Three Kindreds.  This is a wonderful exercise for simple meditations, and it also works well in ritual as it reminds all who participate of our interconnectivity with the realms and Kindreds.

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What follows is the journal I started for the purposes of recording my experiences with developing mental discipline.  I made a point to meditate as much as possible over a five month period as part of my Dedicant Program.  Since it was a journal the language may at times seem informal or even grammatically incorrect.  I read through it a few times to check for spelling errors and to remove erroneous material.  Some entries were written the next day but are organized according to the day described.

 

1/2/08

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve  written anything here.  It’s also been awhile since I’ve seriously sat down to meditate.  It’s hard to do it during the semester.  I get so tired and stressed out – it’s really hard to try and relax my body and mind. Yet I know that it’s something I need to do.  My body and mind need to relax, especially during such stressful times.  It’d be better for me than vegging out in front of a tv or game.  My soul craves it during the semester.  Without it, I seem to become extra sensitive and edgy.

I’m alone in Ron’s apartment.  After some lazing about, I decided it was time.  It was a good opportunity.  I was alone and the house was quiet.  I was wide awake.  I made an offering to the kindreds to ask them for peace through meditation.  I gathered some matches, a candle, and some incense.  Preparing Ron’s room, I washed my hands as an act of purification.  I then put on some meditation music and sat with my back against a pillowed wall.

My thoughts ran wild, but slowed to a sleep-like state afterwards.  I must have meditated for twenty or so minutes, which was good.  I didn’t want to do too little because I feel that’s been the case for the past few months.  Yet I didn’t want to do too much.  I was starting to fall asleep – I was a little too relaxed!  I need to ease myself back into it and make it a common practice, even if it’s every other day.

I feel peaceful, accomplished, and sleepy all at once.  I saw some images as I started to settle: A tree, a flower girl with her arms outstretched, a bearded man, and a woman with long hair.

 

1/8/08

 

I attempted to meditate before bed last night.  I felt my mind start to slip into that all familiar, high-like state where my body feels light.  However my body was so very tired that I decided it was best to go to sleep.  I decided to try again the next day.

 

1/9/08

 

Ron and I meditated together!

I’m so glad I got him to do it with me.  It wasn’t a tree of life or Two Powers meditation per se.  I want to go slowly, especially with him.  He doesn’t meditate very much at all.  I decided it would be best to put on a meditation instrumental for a few minutes.  We would relax and breathe deeply just for one song.  I hope to work up to several songs in a row.

While I breathed, I quickly fell into a relaxed though mindful state.  Towards the end, I suddenly envisioned myself as a tree.  I was very pastel – all soft browns and oranges.   My green branches reached into the sky and pulled down the sun’s rays.  I felt buzzing inside of me.  Then my roots extended and sucked up the life giving water.  I felt so close to the world outside, even though I’m in a city.

 

1/10/08

Meditated before bed.  Just a simple Two Powers.  Really tired.  Not much to say.  In some ways I felt like I was just going through the motions…  I’m sorry to admit that.

 

1/11/08

Attempted a better Two Powers meditation.  It was a bit improved, although I have to do these things earlier in the day.  I feel that I rushed myself so I could just go to bed and, therefore, did not get much out of it.

 

1/12/08

 

I’ve started to do a Two Powers meditation before my daily devotionals again.  I really need to put in the effort to do it if I’m to develop the skill.

It felt great to do it.  I didn’t so much see but feel the sky and earth energy flowing into me.  It was really relaxing.  I found it helpful to focus on the fact that I’m connecting to nature and all of the spiritual realm.  I think it’s good to remember that before doing the ritual.  The meaning is brought to the fore.

 

1/13/08

 

There was a Mohawk Valley Pagan Network meeting tonight.  We did a ritual with meditation.  The purpose was to sort of …  reestablish our connection to each other and infuse blessings upon each person present.  There were some slightly awkward moments as two of the newer members were nervous and unsure of what to say or do.  We made it through and I had a pleasant, spiritual experience.

I enjoy guided meditations.  I’m able to just let my mind go with only a slight, fuzzy focus on the speaker.  We began by visualizing a rock.  This is a typical MVPN meditation which I enjoy.  I always envision a light grey rock covered in Celtic spirals.  We were then told to walk around the rock, clockwise, until we found a door.  We entered the door and explored the innards of the rock.  There was a chamber for us to meditate in, but we passed that for the time being.  We entered another chamber where we met the spirit of the rock.  It was the same spirit I’ve always met when visiting this rock.  He’s obviously Celtic.  He speaks English to me, but he has a strange, Irish-Scottish accent.  He has a big, red beard and a friendly, hearty personality.  He greeted me with a heavy pat on the back and a deep, booming hello.  He bid me to sit by him and asked if I brought him some whiskey.  I asked him if Druidry was the path for me, and he said, basically, “Why not?!”  He explained that it was associated with my ancestors and that it doesn’t insult him.  He asked that I remember him in my worship.  I gave him a spiritual gift of whiskey, but I would like to offer him real whiskey sometime.

We then entered a silent, unguided meditation.  I found myself in a swirl of dancing Tuatha De Danna.  It was mesmerizing and lovely to feel like I was really there in their halls.

 

1/14/08

Before my daily devotional, I sat before my home shrine and breathed, preparing my body and soul for the Two Powers meditation.  It was strange.  I was tired, yes, but my new-found determination seemed to override that factor a little bit.  I say a little because there were times when it was hard to simply not fall asleep, but for the most part, I was easily able to slip into that “in-between state” where awareness seems to go inward and expand outward.

I felt the stretch of spiritual branches from my head as I reached to the stars for the sky energy.  I’ve begun to reach for the sky before the ground.  I’m not sure why, yet.  Maybe because I do the earth first and I’d like a change.  I don’t think it matters.  If anything, it invigorates me more as I view the sky energy as fire energy, and I’ve always had a special connection to fire.

I felt the tingle in my head, heart, and loins as the fire energy coiled in them.  I felt the same when I pulled up that cold, earth energy.  I basked in the brilliance, knowing that I was connected to the sky and to the earth – to the whole cosmos.  I don’t think that I only am so during these meditations or rituals.  I think we always are, but these exercises serve as powerful, visceral reminders.

 

1/15/08

 

I tried to get Ron to meditate with me before bed, but by the time he seemed ready, it was very late and I was very tired.  I needed to do my daily devotional and that would require the last of my energy so we put that activity off for the next day.

I prepared myself for the Two Powers, again, by breathing deeply.  I find myself breathing in threes.  Everything is in threes.  It’s very reflective of my hearth culture.

Anyway, the meditation went well.  Better than yesterday, I think, except that I had a cat on my lap.  This was ironic as my devotional was dedicated to the Nature Spirits that night.  However his weight was a bit distracting until I adjusted.  Then I just fell into that meditative state…  It was hard to come out to do the actual ritual.  It felt good to just float.

 

1/16/08

 

I meditated before my evening daily devotional.  I felt rushed due to fatigue, but at the same time, I actually felt the heat of the sky energy and the coolness of the earth energy.  In retrospect, I find it strange that the earth energy is cool as, when considering molten lava, the center of the earth is quite hot.  I suppose it makes sense when taking the coldness of a rock into account.  Perhaps it has something to do with the ground’s frozen quality at the moment (it is winter, after all…).

 

1/17/08

 

Again, a two powers meditation before the daily devotional.  I felt the heat and coolness of the sky and earth energies, respectively, but I can’t help but wonder if the energy really feels that way, or if I’m making myself believe it feels that way.  I also wonder if the energy is really there…

The funny thing is, I have no problems believing in, and even feeling, quite powerfully, the existence of deities, nature spirits, etc…  Yet sometimes energy is a bit harder.  It’s not that I don’t believe in energy.  Energy is all around as is made evident by the fire of my altar candles, the heat of sex, the attraction of lovers, or the biting winter air.  And yet, are we really able to direct it so much?  Am I really pulling down sky and earth energy, or is it just a symbolic gesture to acknowledge my connection?  Would it matter if that’s all it was?  These are questions I must sort out for myself.

 

1/18/08

 

The more I meditate, the more I feel the temperature of the different energies.  I really don’t know what to make of it, but I guess, in the end, that is the basis of faith.  One experiences something that is hard to explain.  By accepting that oddity, they put faith in something that others would scoff at.

In continuing my thoughts from the previous entry, I’ve started to wonder if, instead of directing energy, I’m simply opening myself up to it?  Slipping into that “in-between” state has become easier and easier, and so perhaps that’s why I’ve been better able to feel the tingling, and now hot or cold, sensations of the energy.

 

1/19/08

 

Meditating while grumpy and sick feeling isn’t easy.  I tried my best, even if I decided to forgo the Two Powers Meditation and simply do some deep breathing.  It relaxed me so much that, by the time I was done with the meditation and my daily ritual, I felt really relaxed and all of my tension had gone.  For the time being, I felt fine.

 

1/20/08

 

I felt really sick on this day.  My head was pounding and this was making me nauseous.  I just wanted to go to sleep.  All the same, I didn’t want to fall out of the habit of honoring the Kindreds.  Deciding to do a simple ritual rather than open the gates and do a meditation, I simply decided to breathe easy and light a candle for Brighid.  I was pleased that I was able to do that before crashing into bed.

I then felt guilty for not doing a full mediation.  It’s something I want to do more of, after all.  And it had made me feel a bit better the night before.  So I laid on my back and attempted to meditate but simply could not due to the pounding headache I had.  It was too much and I’m afraid that I’m not mentally disciplined enough to focus on something other than the pounding.  I tried and just could not.

 

1/21/08

 

Meditating again!  It felt good to do it after the short break due to illness.  I can still feel coolness and heat in the energy I allow to circulate through me.

 

1/22/08

 

I did my meditation after opening the gates.  I had been meditating before opening the gates but doing it after seems to make more sense to me.  I envisioned myself reaching up or down through the gates to gather the energy.  It was a more powerful experience.  I think I will continue to order my rituals that way.

 

1/23/08

 

I felt that I rushed my meditation this night.  I was really tired from having stayed up so late, and nervous about getting enough sleep before school, so I rushed through my meditation.  Doing this started the decline in my daily devotionals last semester.  Great way to start out spring.  I really need to stay disciplined!

 

1/24/08

 

Meditation was really good tonight.  I made sure that I had time and energy to do it, however it was late at night before bed, so I felt that it was easier to fall into that “in between state.”

It’s easier and easier to work with the energy of sky and earth.  I tend to pull the sky energy down first.  Along with the temperature, I’m able to feel the pulse and swirl.  Like sparks.  I felt that I could have meditated for longer after doing the Two Powers, but I needed to go to bed.  I’d like to make time for deeper, longer meditations.

 

1/25/08

 

Meditation is becoming shorter again…  Stress levels from college rising…

 

1/26/08

 

I was able to meditate a little bit today.  I’ve shortened my ritual with the intention of doing a full one each week.  I still hope to meditate before the rituals, though.  I just did a basic two powers meditation before lighting candles for the Kindreds.  I don’t think that doing the Two Powers without opening the gates is a bad thing.  However my experience is beginning to teach me that I can feel the powers of earth and sky more when the gates are opened.

 

1/27/08

 

I specifically honored Brigid in my devotional today.  After lighting her a candle, I meditated on her for a bit.  She expressed the desire for me to make her a doll as an offering for Imbolc.  I shall begin the doll soon.  I think it’s important for me to honor her desire.  I was pleased to receive this vision from her and feel close to her after honoring her.

 

1/28/08

 

I did some deep breathing today.  I was really stressed out from school work and figured that it would help.  I didn’t “see” anything, but I did feel myself relax a bit.

 

1/29/08

 

I didn’t even meditate this day.  I was so tired after having stayed up too late that I did a short devotional and went right to bed after.  I tried to meditate in bed, feeling guilty, but fell asleep.  I don’t want this to happen with such frequency.  Last semester, I stopped meditating almost entirely due to fatigue and poor time management skills.

 

 

1/30/08

 

Why do my energy levels have to fall to such a low this time of year!?  And why does stress have to make meditation so difficult?!  It’s truly frustrating that I can’t focus or discipline myself enough to start earlier.

 

2/1/08

 

I made sure to do my ritual and meditate today.  For Gods’ sake – I’m leading a ritual on Sunday and I need to be on top of my game.  Meditation will help me prepare and relax.  It was easy to get into a relaxed state today, and I think it’s because I hadn’t done anything all day.  No classes, no work…  I was free to do as I pleased.  Those days are the best for me when it comes to spiritual growth.

I had been working on the write-up for my upcoming Imbolc ritual when I realized how late it was.  I went to my altar, sat before it, took three deep breaths for relaxation, and then jumped into a Two Powers meditation.  It felt quick in some ways.  It seemed that as soon as I had stretched out my spiritual roots and branches the Two Powers came thundering through me.  In some ways it was disconcerting.  Why so fast?  Why at the same time?  It felt really nice after a few days of failing to meditate, that’s for sure.

 

2/2/08

 

I opted not to go to the Muin Mound Imbolc ritual today due to dubious weather. I decided to do a private run-through of my upcoming ritual.  This included a Two Powers meditation.  For the most part, everything went really smoothly with the ritual.  The meditation went really well too. In addition to the Two Powers, I am planning to guide a meditation.  As I went through this I spoke aloud to myself.  I’ve found that speaking aloud while meditating is a strange experience.  Sometimes it can be effective, but I find that it’s more distracting for me to lead myself.  I’m more focused on what I’m doing rather than just meditating and relaxing.  Maybe this will change one day.

 

2/3/08

My ritual went so well!  Everyone was really pleased with it.

I had meant to do the Two Powers meditation before making offerings to the Kindreds, but due to a little slip up, we did it after.  No one seemed to notice, however.  It all went really smoothly.

Standing up while meditating is still strange to me, no matter how many times I do it.  Coupled with actually leading the meditation, and thus speaking aloud, it was all odd.  I felt something but it wasn’t as intense as when another person leads or I do it on my own in silence.

All the same I’m glad that everyone else enjoyed it.

 

2/4/08

 

I attended my first Crafting Magic and Ritual class today.  It’s lead by my Wiccan friend, Katrina.  We introduced ourselves and then delved into some deep questions about life, Paganism, magic, and who we are.

We then went into a meditation lead by Katrina. It was a tree of life meditation, one I’m quite familiar with, but it seemed really long and drawn-out in some parts.  It started off really well.  We imagined that we were trees with tap roots. In the meditation she explained that most trees don’t have a tap root.  It seemed distracting and besides the point.  All the same, I intend to read about roots soon.  We then went on with the standard stretching of our roots and pulling up energy.  But then it went in a direction I wasn’t anticipating and it was kind of distracting.

We stretched out runner roots, four in total, to each of the cardinal directions.  I was visualizing myself as the world tree, thus a huge plant that was enormous on the globe.  Katrina warned not to tangle our roots, but it was too late.  I’d already envisioned myself as THE tree.  I don’t know what that says about my personality, but I wasn’t getting tangled with the other peoples’ roots – I was dominating them.  It was really strange.  Perhaps it had something to do with my level of experience within Paganism compared to the others, yet I know that sounds haughty and I don’t want to seem that way…

We then prolonged the meditation further by making the sounds we consider a tree to make.  Most people were reluctant to do this, and so it seemed like a long, unnecessary, and even intimidating meditation for newcomers.  The meditation ended with many people feeling sore.  Not a good sign, I don’t think…

 

2/5/08

 

Oh gosh…  I was so tired last night, I could barely meditate.  I did my ritual quickly and went to bed…  I think stress makes meditation harder because stress makes me dwell on all the things I need to do or should do.  It makes focusing on the Two Powers or anything spiritual very hard.

 

2/6/08

 

Repeat of last night…  I am annoyed with myself.

 

2/7/08

I tried to meditate.  I really did.  But, being so tired, I fell asleep while doing it.  I should have sat up by my altar to do it.

 

2/8/08

 

Yay!  I managed to meditate.  I sat before my altar and quieted my mind before my ritual through some deep breathing.  I breathed in, held my breath, and released each for a count of four.  I did a Two Powers meditation while envisioning myself as a tree.  I think that meditation works best when it’s to the point.  I’d rather do it that way than imaging my roots spreading out to different directions and such.  I felt the energies happily flowing through my body.  It was simple but powerful.

 

2/9/08

 

I meant to meditate but fell asleep…  That’s what I get for putting it off and then feeling tired…

 

 

2/11/08

 

I went to Katrina’s class today.  As usual she lead a meditation.  We did the rock meditation.   I’ve actually become quite fond of it because it’s always the same rock and the same spirit within.  The rock is covered in Celtic spirals.  I walked around it clockwise while feeling the texture.  It’s always grainy and I can feel the bumps of the carvings.  Eventually, the rock formed a door.  I entered a chamber, passing a room or two.  When I got to the main chamber, I found the spirit of the rock.

For me, it’s always this middle-aged, Celtic warrior with red hair, a long mustache, and beard.  He’s in some armor but is jolly and hospitable.  He always greets me with a hug and calls me daughter.  I think that he is both an ancestor and a God – he hinted at being An Dagda this time.  This makes me feel good because I’ve been feeling distant from him lately.  Not on purpose, of course!  But with Imbolc and my flame keeping, I seem to put a lot of emphasis on Brighid.  Luckily, An Dagda seems loving towards me all the same.  He is a male deity and perhaps he feels it best for me to be closer to a female deity.

I gave him a gift of the first thing I thought of from my spiritual pocket.  I pulled out chocolate hearts.  He liked them, but was confused with the tin foil wrappings.  He kept them anyway, considering them precious metals.  We bid each other farewell until the next time.

I then went into another chamber of the rock where I grounded.  We later entered the meditation again, working on shielding ourselves with energy.

I imagined the energy like a yellowed web.  It surrounded me and yet, like a dream catcher, allowed good in while keeping the negative out.

We also worked in partners, trying to feel each others’ energy fields.  I felt buzzing and fuzziness.  My partner felt temperatures, especially heat.  It was interesting.

All in all, the meditation this week was much better.  It seemed more focused and I was better able to relax.

 

2/12/08

 

I meditated very, very quickly today.  I was grateful to the Gods for protecting me as I traveled through bad weather (mostly slippery snow).  When I returned home, I offered them whiskey out of thanks and took a moment to breathe.

 

2/13/08

 

Quick meditation before bed.  I did a Two Powers.  I felt rushed but I could still feel the energy.  I then lit the candles for my devotional.

 

2/14/08

 

I sat on my bed, my back against a wall, and took three deep breaths after closing my eyes.  I kept breathing, focusing on three.  Eventually I fell into that beautiful state where you feel as if you could almost float away.

I did a Two Powers meditation.  This time I did something I don’t usually do.  When I pull the earth and sky energy into me, I visualize it curling in my loins, heart, and head.  I usually, when letting it go, just let it go.  But this time I visualized it uncurling out of these areas.  It seemed to make the meditation all the more powerful.

 

2/15/08

 

I made sure to meditate today, although I was tired.  It was okay – but college is really burning me out.  There’s got to be a better way to balance everything…

 

2/16/08

 

I managed to do some deep breathing before my altar today.  It was relaxing.  Perhaps, some days, our bodies just don’t want/need to meditate?  Or perhaps that is just an excuse on my behalf…

 

2/17/08

 

Quick breathing exercise before bed.  I hate this…  The exercise usually relaxes me, but I’m too stressed out for even that.  Maybe Buddhist monks are better able to meditate because they devote their lives to it?

 

2/18/08

 

Meditation at Katrina’s today.  Heidi led the grounding and focused on earth, it seemed.  We went inside a mountain and met the spirit of the mountain.  I sat in a crystal chair.  The meditation felt awkward for me, mostly because her descriptions were full of light and I imagine the inside of a mountain to be dark or at least dimly light with firelight.  This is where guided meditations kind of fail, in my opinion.  When the leader is too descriptive it can throw off someone’s instincts and own personal perceptions.  The vaguer the guided meditation, the better.

Katrina lead us on an elemental meditation, focusing on the four elements of Wiccan theology.  I’ve done this so many times that I figured it would be the same for me.  When I got to fire and water, however, Brighid and Danu were there.  They were powerful, passionate women.  It felt great to connect with them so vividly.  Especially Danu.  I never work with her…

 

2/19/08

 

In preparation for a ritual with Katrina and some other Pagans, I had to come up with a grounding ritual, but they wanted something other than a tree or a rock.  As we were celebrating the eclipse and the moon, a lunar meditation seemed best.  After thinking about it, I decided to walk myself through it while lying in bed.  Unfortunately, I was so tired that I fell asleep halfway through.  I was too tired to feel much more than fatigue during the first half, though…

 

2/20/08

 

Ron and I went to the lunar ritual at Katrina’s.  It was more of an Esbat fashioned after a Wiccan rite, but it was still an experience and is therefore valid, in my ever-evolving opinion.

My grounding ritual seemed to go over well, but I felt really awkward about it.  I’m not used to meditating on moon beams…  As my friend Gina said afterwards (she’s also in ADF), it’s good to try new things and experiment.  I do agree with her, but I don’t think it was exactly my thing.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve not tweaked the meditation.

All the same, leading a meditation feels so different.  Unlike my Imbolc ceremony, I invited everyone to sit down.  I’m much better at meditating while seated.  While leading, I felt my body buzz and spin.  I usually only feel this while I’m leading a ritual.  Perhaps I induce a special type of trance-state onto myself.

 

2/21/08

 

I made the point to meditate before bed.  It’s easier when classes and work are over and I have a few days off ahead of me.  I feel lighter and less exhausted.  Refreshed, I guess.

So I made the point to meditate before bed.  I shut the lights off and sat in my bed, letting my mind quiet down.  Then I went into a Two Powers meditation.  It was a bit hard to relax and fully lose myself in it.  I guess, even when classes are over and I have some time off, I still have a lot to work on between homework and costumes for an upcoming play…  Tomorrow I have my flame keeping ritual for Brighid.  I hope I can relax a bit for that…

 

2/22/08

 

Meditation before bed was short and sweet.  My purpose was to connect to the realms and Kindreds and I think I accomplished that.

 

2/23/08

I tried to meditate but fell asleep.  I stayed up too late sewing and reading.

2/24/08

 

I was able to do a really quick Two Powers meditation before my short ritual.  It’s amazing how much practice has helped.  I feel better able to tap into the energies of sky and earth.  Sitting before the altar allows for a better experience compared to doing it while laying down in bed.  I always fall sleep then…

 

2/25/08

 

I found out that ADF was doing podcasts.  I got a hold of the Imbolc edition and was pleasantly surprised to find a guided meditation at the end lead by Ian Corrigan, I believe.  It was a very basic meditation meant to relax the body before trance.  First, I relaxed my feet, then my legs, and I moved upwards.  It felt really good, and even helped me to distress after a terribly stressful day.  Even my jaw, a body part that’s been aching a lot lately, seemed fine for a moment.

 

2/26/08

 

My boyfriend needed to go to bed earlier than I’m used to last night.  That being the case, I was able to successfully meditate while laying in bed!  It felt good to do so, actually.  I’m always more comfortable meditating while laying down rather than standing.  Sitting up is okay, but only if I have really good back support, like a wall.  Unfortunately I usually fall asleep doing it in bed.  Luckily I was awake for a change!

I combined the relaxation meditation from the podcast with the Two Powers.  The relaxation came first as a way to prepare my body.  I then did the Two Powers.  Although my back feels more supported while lying down, The Two Powers is hard to do in such a state.  It’s the only downside to meditating in this way while in bed.  I imagined roots coming out of my tail bone, and a tree growing out of my naval.  The rest of my body acted as runner roots, I suppose.  It wasn’t that powerful of a meditation but it was relaxing.  While I like to meditate lying down, sometimes it’s not always the best for experience.   That said, the imagery it created was interesting…

 

2/27/08

 

I did some deep breathing before bed, but I didn’t meditate…

 

2/28/08

 

I was feeling stressed out so I just did some deep breathing again.  I will try to meditate tomorrow.

 

2/29/08

 

Very brief Two Powers meditation at my devotional.  Even though it was fast, I felt that I was able to connect and feel the flow of energy.

 

3/1/08

 

I did a meditation while in bed but fell asleep.  I’ve been very busy at play rehearsals and was just zonked…

 

3/2/08

 

I Did some deep breathing before my altar while lighting candles as offerings to the Kindreds.  Sometimes it’s all I need to do to feel connected.  I suppose an actual meditation would have been better, but focusing on my breathing is a way of practicing, right?  I need to exercise that skill so that I can continue doing deeper meditations.

 

3/3/08

I went to my crafting magic and ritual class at Katrina’s.  We did a strange grounding and meditation that I didn’t really like.  We had to visualize ourselves sitting in front of an apple tree.  I know it was tying into her discussion on the wheel of the year, but I just wasn’t digging the meditation.  I was able to visualize just fine but I didn’t feel anything.

 

You know, I think the biggest issue was that my back hurt.  I really need to lean against a wall to meditate while sitting.  Otherwise I slouch and don’t breathe as well.

 

3/4/08

 

I did a very quick meditation that was more like deep breathing. I first took three deep breaths to ready myself. I then breathed in, imagining my feet as roots digging into the earth, then breathed out, imagining earth energy flowing up through me.  I breathed in again, only this time reaching into the sky.  I breathed in sky energy.  The last set of breaths was to release any negative energy.  I should probably do that first.

It was quick but I felt the energies.  Every time I do a meditation it feels easier, so long as I’m comfortable.

 

3/5/08

 

I breathed deeply before my altar at night.  At least I had the energy to do that…  I find myself breathing in on a count of three, holding for three, and breathing out on a count of three.  Everything is turning into threes!

 

3/6/08

 

Thursday nights are always better.  I’m done with college for a few days, and it’s such a relief.  I usually find the time to meditate on Thursdays.  I did so today.  I can’t think of anything to say about it (it was mostly relaxing…  nothing profound).

 

3/7/08

 

I’ve been trying to do deep breathing before I do any sort of artwork.  I breathed while focusing on Brighid and her energy, and I thanked her for her gifts.  If anything, it helped me feel really connected to her and to Imbas.  I’m starting to think that the act of sewing, something I enjoy very much, is a form of meditation.

 

3/8/08

 

I didn’t meditate today and I feel really guilty about it.  At least I’m being honest…

 

3/9/08

 

I tried to meditate while focusing on the moon.  It’s waxing right now.  It was a bit challenging.  To begin with, I’m always more perceptive and in tune to the moon when it’s full.  It seems more powerful then.  Perhaps that’s the problem – I’m not as connected as I could be and only focus on the climax.  Anyway, I attempted to meditate on the moon and it wasn’t that great or deep of a meditation.

I decided it would be more fruitful to do a full ritual at my altar.  I’ve not done it in awhile because of college.  I breathe before my altar and light candles for the Kindreds – it’s much shorter than the usual ritual I do – but I feel a bit less disciplined and connected when I do things that way.

I sat before my altar and did the whole thing, even giving offerings of oil to the gatekeeper.  I faltered a little bit but it felt good to reach out to the otherworld like that again.  I did the tree of life meditation during this and it felt slightly rushed, but I was able to connect all the same.

 

3/10/08

 

Katrina led us through a lunar meditation tonight.  That’s why I was trying it last night; she wanted us to practice.  I wasn’t that keen on it even when she led it.  We were supposed to imagine ourselves on the moon – I can do that but the moon is so barren in my opinion.  Maybe it’s just because I react very positively to forests and fields but not desert-like environments.  Then again, there’s life in a desert – but not so on the moon.  It felt hostile and desolate.

When we visualized ourselves going into the moon, I was able to connect better.  We were to meet the moon spirit.  She seemed childlike and carefree.  She gave me a drink that seemed to have a narcotic in it because it gave me a momentary buzz so that I felt I was floating.  I gave her a marble.

 

3/11/08

 

I breathed before my altar today.  I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I don’t know if I could focus on meditation if I wanted to…

 

3/12/08

 

I did that exercise where I focus on each part of my body and then release the stress in that area, thus relaxing it.  It’s quickly become one of my most favorite meditation exercises.  I really feel, at least for a moment, as if I’m relaxing my whole body.  It’s a great way to practice focus and visualization in relation to one’s body, I think.

 

3/13/08

 

I did some deep breathing today.  I think I’m getting really good at focusing on my breath.

 

3/14/08

 

I must work on my discipline…  Breathing before my altar is nice and works to connect me, if only very simply, to the Kindreds, but I think full meditation is the best and most powerful way.

 

3/15/08

 

I wrote out a meditation for the upcoming final ritual at Katrina’s.  It’s the core of the ritual – a meditation that walks us through the woods.  We’re each on our own individual path until we come to a gathering where everyone is celebrating life and spirituality.  We join them in a chant.  We end it by returning to our paths, knowing that we are different and yet interlaced.  I hope they like it…  Since it’s a group meditation I won’t really know how effective it is until the ritual.  When I did it by myself I think I felt more during the solitary portions while walking through a spiritual forest in my head.

 

3/16/08

 

I did the relaxation meditation before sleeping this day.  I can’t remember much of how it felt, but it certainly helped lull me into a restful state.  When lying down I prefer that meditation to the Two Powers and Tree of Life.

 

3/17/08

 

Today was my last magic and ritual class at Katrina’s.  I was sad to see it end, but all things end and I’m in dire need of some free time.

The purpose of our final ritual was to dedicate/rededicate ourselves to our path.  I came up with the idea because it seemed more appropriate for a final class ritual than anything else.  It was Wiccan-inspired, but I wanted to make sure we were tolerant and open to other ways.  Obviously, it was important because we don’t all identify ourselves with Wicca.  I’m on a Druidic path, Dave is a Presbyterian with Pagan-leanings, and Jess is somewhere between Wicca and Buddhism.  I decided to, for my part in the ritual, lead a meditation focusing on this theme.

After closing our eyes, I started us out by walking, in our mind, into a dark forest.  We were to take note of the vegetation, the energy, any symbols in the environment…  We were to take note that we were on a path, no matter how well worn.  Eventually, I directed everyone to imagine distant music.  We walked towards it and found people celebrating.  I directed everyone to join in a chant.  I started, softly at first, with “I am of the earth,” a one-lined chant that I came up with for the event.  Everyone joined in and took it where they needed.  I felt it really added a powerful energy to our rite.  I felt buzzed during it, as if I would float away.  I want to incorporate the chant into a future ritual.  I felt that it added so much to the meditation.  Chanting while meditating!  What an amazing combination!

 

3/18/08

 

I did a Two Powers meditation before bed.  I was able to feel the energies, but I feel bad because I didn’t put much time into it.

 

3/19/08

 

I decided to do the relaxation meditation this night.  I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep right away so it felt like a perfect thing to do while lying in bed.  I’m not sure if I finished…  I think I drifted off…

 

3/20/08

 

I was really bad and didn’t do anything today…  I’m just…worn out, stressed, and tired.  I will try to make up for it tomorrow as I celebrate Ostara.  I can’t seem to focus or quiet my mind.  There are too many things bothering me and I’m the sort of person who has a hard time relaxing when I know there are things I need to do…

 

3/21/08

 

Having not done any meditations or offerings the day before, I was really guilty and sorry feeling.  After waking up and going through my more mundane morning ritual, I did a full devotional at my altar.  Of course, I included the Two Powers.

It felt strange to do it all in daylight.  I’m used to doing rituals at night now.

Later, in the evening, I attended an Ostara ritual led by my friend Gina.  She’s also in ADF and this was her first public ritual.  I really liked her Two Powers meditation.  She has a very relaxing voice, even though she read it off from a paper.  For most people, that detracts from the meditation, I think, but Gina’s voice makes up for it.  It’s very relaxing.

 

3/22/08

 

Ron and I went to Muin Mound to celebrate Ostara today.  I was happy to go because I didn’t get to for Imbolc.  It was nice to see everyone and be remembered.

I had a hard time meditating and relaxing, though.  The children who inevitably attend were really rambunctious tonight and it was rather distracting.  I don’t fault anyone for it, of course.  Family is important, and I feel that children should be exposed to such things.  However the energy was just too high strung for me to focus…  It helped when I shut my eyes.  My inner eye was better able to put me in a more relaxed, open state.  I envisioned the fire, well, and tree transforming into portals.  They looked like swirling vortexes to me.

 

3/23/08

 

I’ve been trying to pay homage to Brighid before any artistic pursuits.  I sometimes breathe in front of her statue and ask for her inspiration and aid.  I sometimes light a candle or incense.  I would like to develop this into an actual meditation sometime down the road.  Perhaps, before beginning a new project, I could light a candle or incense, pray to her for inspiration, then meditate on what to do.

As always, these meditations take discipline.  My discipline seems to fade during the semester.  It frustrates me that I can’t seem to bring myself to meditate every day.  I try to do something relaxing and spiritual, of course, but to feel that I have no energy so that I can’t even meditate is just not right.

 

3/24/08

 

I’m stressed about going back to college after spring break.  I feel like I barely had any time to myself to meditate or anything.  It’s really my fault.  I keep myself too busy with too many commitments.

I like my free days, though.  I’m able to stand before my altar and breathe for awhile.  Today I did a Two Powers meditation before my altar.  I felt the energies swirl through me.

I do so many ritualized activities in threes.  I started doing it to revere my Celtic path and ancestors.  Now it’s so internalized that it’s nearly obsessive.  I need to start and end every meditation with three deep breaths, for instance.  I don’t feel purged of enough excess energy if I don’t take three breaths.  Irrational, perhaps, but it helps.

 

3/25/08

 

College.  Work.  Blah.  Nothing like a double whammy of going back to the grind stone.  Needless to say, I was pooped by the time I returned home.  I lit candles on my altar and took some deep breaths, but nothing long and drawn out. It helped to ground me for a bit but I once more feel stressed.

 

3/26/08

 

When I went to bed on this day, I laid down feeling terribly stressed.  After a few deep breaths, I started the relaxation meditation I’ve grown so fond of.  It may only serve as a temporary relief, but it’s something.

I’m starting to wonder if I need a massage. I’ve found that I notice the aches in my back more when I’m meditating.  I wonder if it’s simply because I constrain myself to a certain position for several moments and so the stiffness becomes worse.

 

3/27/08

 

I stayed home from college.  I was drained.  My sleeping habits are screwed up.  I feel like I have so much going on and I’m overwhelmed.  I write short blurbs about these feelings and worries because I think they directly affect my meditation.  Or at least they are an indication of my inability to relax.

Staying home helped me to calm my nerves.  I was able to complete several things that I had been putting off.  With that out of the way, I lit my altar candles, did some breathing, then did a relaxing Two Powers meditation.  I feel that the Two Powers works really well before my altar and during ritual.  It’s a way to remind myself of the connection I already have with the cosmos.  The exercise strengthens that connection.  I feel the energies of earth and sky run up and down me like electricity.

 

3/28/08

 

Sometimes it seems that making love is a form of meditation.  It is a great form of magic.  I can feel the electric bond between us…  It’s beautiful and can be very relaxing.  I seem to remember reading about people who can meditate during an activity like walking.  Perhaps this is similar?  And yet perhaps it is not meditation after all.  Perhaps making love is ritual and emotional/spiritual magic.  Maybe sometimes meditation and ritual are separate?

 

3/29/08

 

I told Ron about my difficulties with letting go of things that have yet to be completed or taken care of before meditating.  I explained that these difficulties make it really hard to experience the deep meditations that are so relaxing and so profound.    He said that that is sad and that I should work on that.  I know I should, but I don’t know how…

I tried to do a relaxation meditation in bed on this day, but I must have fallen asleep because I really don’t remember it…

 

3/30/08

 

I lit the candles on my altar and breathed before it, standing as I did the Two Powers meditation. I wanted to practice standing up today since it seems to be an area I could work on.  I felt the energy move through me, but I felt that I was rushing it.  I don’t think this had anything to do with standing or sitting.  I feel that my spiritual life has been put on the back burner, and I don’t like that feeling.  My altar area is cluttered so that I have to move books to sit before it.  I’ve turned my daily devotional into a really quick ritual that I’ve even skipped a couple times due to fatigue or illness.  Skipping because of illness is fine, I think, but just because I’m tired it shouldn’t be an excuse.  I need to make the time.  I think my failing stems from staying up too late and spending too much time watching late night television with my boyfriend rather than winding down.  I need to be able to watch the news and say, “Ok, I’m going to meditate.  Then we should go to bed.”

 

3/31/08

 

While at Ron’s, I took advantage of his high powered internet connection and downloaded the latest ADF podcast.  I look forward to another meditation.

After listening to some of the podcast, I felt really inspired to go up to my room and do a proper daily devotional.  I filled a blue glass pitcher that a friend had given me as a gift with oil.  It now sits on my altar, ready to give offerings.  I used it to give offerings to the gate keeper, Brighid, and An Dagda.  I lit candles for the Kindreds.  I realize now that I’ve left out the Earth Mother…

I did the whole devotional last night after a Two Powers meditation.  It felt wonderful to partake in the ritual again.  After, I decided to create a cycle for my devotionals.  Keeping in mind that I am to keep Brighid’s flame for a flame-keeping group on the 2nd of April, I put together a schedule in my head.  This night I honored everyone (sans the Earth Mother, but I shall make amends on the next round).  Tomorrow I will pay homage to An Dagda.  On the 2nd, I will honor Brighid as part of my flame keeping duty.  Then on Thursday, I shall honor the nature spirits, Friday for the ancestors, and Saturday for the Gods.  I think I will honor the Earth Mother on Sunday, then everyone on Monday.  I hope this works out.

 

4/1/08

 

Today was Dagda’s day.  I still opened the gates and meditated beforehand.  I didn’t want to do a typical two powers, though.  Instead, I walked until I saw a door.  It was rounded and had a big, brass door knob.  I realized that the door was in a tree.  I entered and found myself in the hallow of a large tree.  I continued to breath and then connected with the earth and sky spirits.  It was different in that I wasn’t extending roots or reaching up to the sky – the powers entered through the tree and then entered me.  Perhaps I will try this again down the road.

The meditation was really relaxing.  I took some time to breathe away all of my worries.  I would dedicate one breath to each annoyance and push it away with a soft exhalation.  I only did my ritual once I felt free of burden.

After making offerings, I meditated on the Dagda.  I’ve only done this once or twice before.  For the most part, I feel that I have a good, growing relationship with Brighid, but I’ve become a bit distant with Dagda.  I always had a hard time envisioning him.  When I closed my eyes this time, he seemed to move before me – and there he was!  His description actually matches the lore, as well.  He had semi-long hair and a beard.  He was roundish.  He didn’t look like my grove leader, though, who could also match such a description!  An Dagda wore a tunic that was just about too short because you could sometimes see his masculinity peeking out from underneath.  He was hearty and greeted me.  He also made it known that he’d like ale or whiskey.  I promised I would find him some.  It was a good ritual and meditation, I think!

 

4/2/08

This was Brighid’s day.  I meditated after making offerings, but didn’t have the vivid vision I had had the night before with the Dagda.  I sometimes wonder if I’m just forcing visions.  I get worried that I’m not “seeing” anything, and so I worry that suddenly I make myself see things.  I suppose it could be half and half.  You don’t see anything and your worry of disconnect heightens your need and thus your call, and the deities are more likely to hear you – maybe.  Then again, that could be truly detrimental to people susceptible of delusions and such.

 

4/3/08

 

I honored the nature spirits today.  I was tired and didn’t really meditate.  I did a Two Powers meditation. I can’t help but wonder if meditating every day is good or not.  Some Buddhist monks train to meditate for hours every day.  Yet I wonder if it’s as spiritual every day.  All the same, the mind needs discipline.  That being said, I feel myself slipping out of my pattern again…

 

4/4/08

 

I was tired on this day.  I went to bed vowing to meditate and do a devotional the next day.

 

4/5/08

 

I dedicated this day to the ancestors and the Gods.  I felt guilty about skipping my ritual last night, so I decided to honor these Kindreds together in one day.  I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad or disrespectful choice.  In my opinion, the Gods are a type of specialized ancestor.  I hope they didn’t mind.  I felt that my meditation was, again, rushed.  I am stressed about homework and an upcoming craft show.  When they’re over, I hope to regain my focus.

 

4/6/08

 

The Earth Mother is my ritual’s focus this evening. I gave her a kiss as is customary in Muin Mound as well as some oil.  I would like to offer more herbs, but it seems impractical for me to keep them readily available in my room.  For starters, my room is very small and so I only have so much surface area to work with.  As a result, many of my herbs are stored in a cabinet.  The cabinet is hard to get in and out of due to piles of books stationed in front of it, and then the basket with the herbs is also hard to get out due to a box of gems.  The process seems too annoying to repeat every day.  Leaving the herbs out in an unclosed container is out of the question due to the cats and ferrets.  I should look for another jar with a lid.  Or maybe I should stop being lazy and just build up this darn mental discipline I’m supposed to be working on…

I know this doesn’t have much to do with meditation, but the practical side of ritual is just as important in many ways.

 

4/7/08

 

I laid in bed on this day and did some deep breathing.  I inhaled, held, and exhaled my breath using a count of four.  The pattern must have lulled me into a deep sleep because I don’t remember any dreams.  I don’t know why I decided to focus on four rather than three.  I used to do that all the time and I found it a bit easier to breathe because of it.

 

4/8/08

 

I did some deep breathing and a quick Two Powers meditation before my altar.  I say “quick” because it was one of those instances where the energies suddenly rush through me.  My whole body seems to shiver on such occasions.  I find that it happens after not doing a Two Powers meditation for one or two days.  I think it may also have to do with my visualizations which have grown quite vivid.

I’ve been meaning to make a note of visualization.  I am able to see things very clearly but I cannot hold them for long.  Perhaps this is something that I need to work on more.

 

4/9/08

I performed a full devotional rite for the Kindreds today.  I did some deep breathing before the ritual began to help put myself in the mindset and prepare my faculties. I’ve had a lot of stress to deal with lately.  An upcoming craft show, homework, money…  it all adds up and makes it really difficult to stay on task with meditation, a skill that takes focus. Some focused breathing before the ritual seemed to really help.

I like to envision myself breathing my frustrations away into space.  I really do feel so relieved after visualizing my stress floating away like a ball…

 

4/10/08

 

I am disappointed in myself today because I did not meditate.

 

4/11/08

 

On this day I meditated and performed a small ritual before bed.  I felt that it would have been wrong to not acknowledge the Gods in any way before a major event (a craft fair).  I feel that Brigid, especially, inspired me in much of my work.  I wanted to thank her and ask for both her help and Lugh’s as he is a God of crafts and even merchants (or so I’ve read in some sources).  I gave an offering of Irish cream.  I did not feel as if I entered a trance-like state, but the meditation certainly made me feel better.

While I’m thinking about it, I’m noticing that I feel something when I open and close the gates.  It’s very subtle but it is something – even if it’s only a shift in my focus.

 

4/12/08

 

Today I focused on the spindle ogham.  I pictured it in my mind while I did a deep breathing exercise using a count of four.  I experienced a lot of lucid thoughts during this exercise that I think had to do with the ogham – home, doing artwork in the home, and caring for family.

 

4/13/08

 

I was really exhausted today.  I didn’t want to go to bed until doing a ritual though.  I lit candles for the Kindreds.  Now that I’m developing relationships with the spirits, it seems rude to randomly ignore them.  I did not meditate but I think I’m realizing that doing a devotional ritual just about every night is a form of discipline.  My mind may not be prepared for deep focus but the act of going to the altar and taking that time to say “thank you” helps to connect me.

 

4/14/08

 

I did a Two Powers meditation as part of a ritual.  I feel that I can do it faster and feel connected so much faster.  I’m used to meditation and mental work being a slow, relaxing process, but I’ve found the two powers to be electric and energizing.  Having practiced with it, I feel better able to realize the connection I have with the powers of land and sky more readily.

I remember feeling surprised when I first visited a grove.  The Wiccan rituals I’ve attended in the past spent a long time working through guided meditations.  In ADF rites, at least on the high days, the focus is more on honoring the Kindreds.  The Two Powers meditations are very fast but I’m now finding them to be effective in formal ritual.

 

4/15/08

I wanted to try the new meditation from the ADF podcast.  I can’t remember who lead it, but it focused on the cauldrons.  The inner cauldrons are a concept that seems similar to the Eastern Chakra system, only we only worked with three cauldrons – one in the loins, one in the heart, and one in the head.  I can’t remember what they each represented – I will have to work with it again.

I couldn’t feel myself that drawn into the meditation, though.  Beforehand, the host of the podcast warned that such a meditation can lead into a trance and that the practitioner should be in a safe environment before listening.  I felt relaxed but not trancelike.  Maybe next time.

 

 

4/16/08

 

I did a very short meditation as part of my daily devotional today.  Again, I felt the quickly reaffirmed connection with the earth and sky.  It’s like a buzz of electricity.

 

4/17/08

 

Feeling like I had enough energy, I tried to meditate before bed and after doing my devotional.  I must have fallen asleep while attempting to meditate.  How disappointing…

 

4/18/08

 

I meditated while standing before my altar.  I never fall asleep doing it that way, but I also never feel that I can do a nice, long meditation standing either.  It’s always very quick and meant to reestablish my connection to the earth and sky.  I’m glad that I’ve gotten back into the habit of honoring the Kindreds before bed.

 

4/19/08

 

On this day, I made another attempt at meditating in bed.  It always seems like a good idea at the time.  I’ll have been lying in bed for awhile, unable to fall asleep.  I’ll decide to meditate as a way to relax my body and further my spiritual growth.  I’ll do a simple relaxation meditation.  Next thing I know (or don’t know) I’m asleep.  I woke up realizing that it had happened again.  At least it relaxed me!

 

4/20/08

 

After performing my daily devotional, I decided to meditate before bed while sitting up against a wall.  It was a good night to do it because I had the energy and the ambition.

I’m leading a Beltane ritual for my local Pagan alliance in a couple of weeks.  One of the deities to be honored is Angus.  While I make an effort to honor and grow close to the Irish Gods in a general sense, I don’t get to know them on an individual level (besides my patrons Brighid and Dagda).  My goal was to meditate on Angus.

I had a difficult time.  To begin with, I couldn’t really clear my mind.  It’s something I need to work on.  I kept refocusing on Angus and my desire to speak to him or know him in some way.  I spoke aloud to him, stating my intentions.  I didn’t really experience much.  I grew tired, I suppose, and decided to try again soon.  I hope to do that for the next day.

 

4/21/08

 

Today was a very, very special day.  Ron proposed to me on top of Bald Mountain, right by the stump where, last summer, I made an offering to An Dagda.  Prior to the proposal, I had made another offering to An Dagda at his stump.  I had collected a few mementos on my way up and left them there, along with some of the last of our water.  The stone I had offered during our last visit was still there and still nicely hidden.  I sat and meditated after that, just focusing on how good it felt to be in the Adirondacks atop a mountain while worshiping a God.  The proposal after was just perfect.  I felt that An Dagda was smiling at us.

 

4/22/08

I did a quick meditation before bed.  I did a relaxation meditation followed by a Two Powers meditation.  I realized today that I don’t seem to notice the temperatures so much anymore.  What I feel is more akin to electricity.  I feel tingling in my hands especially.

 

4/23/08

 

I attempted to meditate on Angus again.  I’m having a hard time with it.

 

4/24/08

 

Before bed I did a quick Two Powers meditation.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m rushing.  Sometimes it seems as if the buzz I feel is self-produced due to a tension I create with my muscles.  But how do I know that it doesn’t happen because I’m opening myself up to higher powers?

 

4/25/08

 

I focused more on connecting to the nature spirits through recycling today.  I did not meditate, but I did faithfully honor the Kindreds by making candle offerings to them at my altar.

 

4/26/08

 

Excited by the good weather, I brought a blanket out back and, after making offerings at my shrine, I faced the forest and meditated.  First I breathed in and out deeply three times.  I’m starting to wonder if I’m breathing properly.  I know that, when meditating, it’s often better for a person to breathe into the stomach, however sometimes it feels like such an effort for me, especially when sitting.  Am I doing it right?  Maybe my posture is bad?  Or am I just not used to it?

I then did a relaxation method, trying to focus on specific bodily regions before visualizing the tension dissipating.  Next I did a Two Powers meditation followed by some simple breathing.

I didn’t experience any visions.  Again, I had hoped to make a connection with Angus or Flower Face, but no such luck.

Later, while doing a devotional, I realized that I could find them everywhere, from the flowers, to the budding leaves, to the many beautiful things outside.  Perhaps this is the best way to feel connected to these Gods.

 

4/27/08

 

You know, I can’t recall if I meditated or did my ritual last night.  I think I fell asleep…  I feel really guilty now, and I guess saying that I had a busy weekend is no excuse…  I need to make sure, in the future, that I do my devotional beforelying in bed to read.

 

4/28/08

 

I did a meditation as part of my daily devotional.  I felt that it was too short.  Then again, I’m able to feel the connection with sky and earth very quickly.  Perhaps another type of meditation is in order.

 

4/29/08

 

Before sleeping, while lying in bed, I meditated.  I did a Two Powers meditation before my altar as part of my devotional as well.  I tried to elongate the process.  I tried to really feel and enjoy the sensation of earth and sky energy.  I tried to really feel them mingling.  It felt like a low buzzing, but very deep.

In bed, I just tried to relax my mind.  It was a bit hard as I had a cat in bed with me and he sometimes kneaded my arm.  However his purring seemed to act as chanting or drumming would and I felt nearly trance-like.

 

4/30/08

 

In preparation for my upcoming Beltaine ritual, I sort of “rehearsed” it as part of my daily devotional.  I did a Two Powers meditation, but I felt kind of discouraged with it, I guess.  I think it’s because I was nervous about the upcoming ritual.

 

5/1/08

 

I did another full ritual as a rehearsal for the Beltaine ritual tomorrow.  I feel that the meditation went much better this time, although I’m still nervous.  Instead of imagining the powers of earth coming up from the deep parts of the planet, I just imagined the earth’s surface as crawling with untapped power.   I imagined my body as already full of water.  From the sky, I pulled energy down into my head.  In this way, I reconnected myself to the land, sea, and sky.  I think I will use this tomorrow for my ritual.  Now, I just need to relax my nerves…

 

5/2/08

 

I think the ritual went really well, but there were a few minor hiccups.  I forgot to call on the Bardic deity, which may have caused the other snafus.  We were going to call on Brighid, though, as I have a good relationship with her, I hope she realized that it wasn’t on purpose.

We also forgot to do the chants after honoring the Kindreds.  It wasn’t a huge, huge deal, but I felt silly after having gone through the chants and printed up chant sheets.

I think the meditation went really well though. I discovered something that I think worked wonders.  I did what I planned to do – described energy flowing across the surface of the earth, water already in our bodies, and energy in the sky.  However, when I instructed everyone to pull the energy up or down through their bodies, I used my hands and slowly raised or lowered them as I imagined the energy moving.  I felt that it really added something to the experience for myself.

 

5/3/08

 

Today I felt really sick.  I was supposed to go to Muin Mound Grove to celebrate Beltaine with my friend Gina, but between the cold and the wet I didn’t think it would be smart for me to go and get myself in a worsened state, especially when I have to work the next day.  Instead, I did a very, very quick meditation before my altar.  I couldn’t breathe well due to congestion, so a full meditation would have been frustrating.  I wonder what Buddhist monks do when they’re congested.  Do they get congested?  They must, being human, but perhaps their minds are trained so well that they are able to disregard it…

I watched an interesting video on youtube a few days ago.  It featured a type of monk  (I’m not sure what kind) and he was using chi to chop through blocks, withstand blows, and other amazing things.  He concentrated it in certain parts of his body.  I thought it was interesting and recalled it as I thought about my hand movements during the Two Powers meditation.

 

5/4/08

 

Another quick meditation due to my congestion.  I feel bad for not doing a full meditation, but I can’t help it…  I don’t feel that meditating is very effective at all in such a state.

 

5/5/08

 

Again, I am feeling ill but not so congested.  I tried to meditate before bed.  It was relaxing, and I certainly felt myself enter a trance-like state.  However, I soon fell out of it and decided it would be best to just go to bed.  At the very least, I was relaxed.  I hadn’t had a real goal anyway.

 

5/6/08

I performed a Two Powers meditation today.  It went smoothly.  It made me more aware of how clear my nasal passage had become compared to a few days ago.

 

5/7/08

Another successful Two Powers meditation today.  I did my best to focus more and just drift in the feelings.

 

5/8/08

 

Maybe it’s because college is ending and I have a ton of finals and final projects to finish…  I just feel exceptionally exhausted.  I don’t feel like I could meditate well at all but I will try…

 

 

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