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Archive for the ‘Tribe’ Category

Weretoad and I had a lovely Winter Solstice!  I was so excited and in a festive mood.  While he was away at work, I finished wrapping gifts, put on some Solstice music, and lit the tree.  It’s the only night we leave it on and it’s a great reminder of what we’re celebrating.

I also busied myself preparing the feast you see at left.  I made a vegetarian roast with baked scallions, carrots, and potatoes.  I also made fresh bread, steamed brussels sprouts, and bread pudding.  Mmmm…carbs… Magical, wonderful carbs!

In addition, I brought home cranberries and made popcorn to turn into garlands.  We did that after our ritual.  After discussing what we should do, Weretoad and I decided to honor the Nature Spirits who have to struggle through the bitter cold.  It is a hard time to be wild.  Many creatures die.  Food is scarce.  We forget that in our warm homes with our stocked larders.  Our main offering was the garland which we put on the little spruce we keep on our patio.  Next year I would like to do more for deities as well but I’m still uncertain as to who I should honor.  Should I visit the Norse deities of my Germanic ancestors and honor Odin as he rides through the sky?  Should I honor the Cailleach as the crone of winter?  Should I give praise to Angus as he is associated with New Grange and thus the Winter Solstice?  I lean more towards the latter two…  I guess we’ll see what next year brings.

We went a bit overboard on gifts this year.  In years past we kept a tradition – three large gifts and three stocking stuffers.  This year…  we kind of forgot and got lost in the joy of giving to each other.  We really need to restrain ourselves next year.  That said – I got some lovely gifts from my husband!  In addition to some shiny and practical items, he also contributed to my growing Pagan library. I got a recycled three ring cardboard binder – something I want to use to make my new Druidic grimoire.  I also received The Black Pullet (an old grimoire) and Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl Ph.D.  (For my birthday a week ago, he gave me Toads and Toadstools: The Natural History, Mythology and Cultural Oddities of this Strange Association by Adrian Morgan.)  Needless to say, I have a ton of new books to enjoy and learn from!  Squee!

Today I am busying myself with last minute gift sewing and wrapping.  Yes, I still “celebrate” Christmas with my vaguely Christian family.  I love the excuse to see them. They know I consider the gifts I give them to be Solstice gifts just as the ones they give me are for their own holiday of giving and love.  We somehow meet on common ground.  At the same time, I look forward to having my own large home and throwing wonderful Winter Solstice parties for the whole family…  Some day…  This year, I enjoyed my quiet Solstice with Weretoad. 🙂

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

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I’m back from a successful and amazing craft show!  I will post more about that some other time.  For now I need to catch up on the 21 Days of Solstice Music!  Eeep!

Let’s start off something psychedelic.

http://www.youtube.com/v/PVvmTv4iKsI?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00
“Shaman Spirit Reindeer of Siberia” by Magicfolk is one of the most interesting holidays songs I’ve ever heard.  The music video is bizarre but playful*.  I can’t help but love it.  You see, each December I find myself contemplating the complex origins of Santa Claus.  Was he a Christian saint?  Is he the modernized, transformed winter Odin or Thor?  Is he a demi-God?  Or was he originally a reindeer shaman in Siberia?  (There are whole books dedicated to that possibility.)

The next selection cannot be embedded so I’ll link it here.  It’s Jesse L. Martin singing “Abundance and Charity” from “The Christmas Carol” musical.  I’m posting this because the Ghost of Christmas Present reminds me of An Dagda.  The actor in this video isn’t how I imagine An Dagda looking, but the Good God is all about providing for the tribe.  His cauldron makes sure everyone gets what they’re due.  Sometimes that magic manifests in us and inspires us to take care of each other.  (Perhaps there’s a little bit of An Dagda in Santa?)  He is also, in my experience, all about enjoying life.  Food (his cauldron and ability to pack it in), music (his magical harp), and sex/flirting are some of his specialties.  The actor in this clip really captures that.

http://www.youtube.com/v/t_KiHRHwaAs?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b

Here’s a classic – “The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams. It’s another one of those songs that can (should) be common ground for multi-religious families.  It captures the real meaning of this time of year – coming together as a tribe, no matter our differences, to celebrate the season and love.

http://www.youtube.com/v/n6j4TGqVl5g?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01

Finally, I couldn’t celebrate the Winter Solstice and the sun without George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.”  Ok, so it’s not what most consider a traditional holiday tune, but 1) I’m a huge Beatles fan and 2) it’s all about the sun and how its “coming” gives us happiness and reassurance – even in the cold of winter.

Join me tomorrow for the final selection!

* I totally own the dragon plush they use…

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

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Another chunk of songs for your Solstice enjoyment!

We’ll start with something more serious.  This one was a suggestion from a reader (onelittlepagan) – a Paganized version of “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Craig Olson.  The images of an actual Solstice celebration are beautiful.  What a lovely home!  Thanks for sharing, onelittlepagan!  I had only ever heard the Christian version and this cover, I find, works well.

http://www.youtube.com/v/zwCYKYru1nw?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6

How about a song about nissers, spirits from Norway and Denmark who are basically gnomes?  They’ve become associated with both Christmas and Solstice.  Many families leave porridge with a pat of butter out for them during the holidays.  Perhaps nissers are in Santa’s spiritual DNA?  I wouldn’t discount it.  I don’t know if I have any Norwegian blood in me (if I do, it’s from a very, very long time ago…) but my husband does.  I wonder if there are nissers around, just waiting for us to befriend them?  Anyway, this adorable little song is called “Jeg Tror Der Findes Nisser” (“I Think There are Gnomes”) by Thomas Kjellerup.

http://www.youtube.com/v/yADC2uP3fdo?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00

And while we’re dealing with European spirits, what Solstice would be complete without The Krampus Christmas Song?  While Nissers can have a malicious streak if crossed, the Krampus is a bit terrifying.  Meeting him and his birch whipping rod is way worse than getting coal.  Krampus is a huge tradition in parts of Europe (and even some parts of America).  On a certain day of the year, several adults will dress up as Krampus and roam the streets to frighten children with old chains.  Some even lightly hit people.  Sounds fun, to me!

http://www.youtube.com/v/6EmqsEHl3P8?fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b

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

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Excited for Tonight

Visiting family usually means that my mental discipline goes out the window.  Not that I’ve had much recently in regards to religion…  With a craft show coming up, my free time is filled with more sewing than meditation, ritual, or spellwork.  I even brought my work with me so I can create while visiting family.  So far I’ve made a small dragon and another mushroom spirit.  I’m in the middle of working on a larger doll.  I think I’ll have a nice collection of whimsy available for the craft show!

Obviously I have my hands full and am mentally distracted.  I brought my traveling altar with me and did a quick devotional on Thursday evening.  Otherwise it’s hard to find a private, quiet time to do anything.  I pray or chant to myself.  My Gods, while they do like attention, are not so full of condemnation when I cannot visit my altar each day.  They hear my whispered prayers, I think.  They are tribal Gods and seem to understand the importance of family time.  My patroness is pleased by art and, to me, sewing is a way of bringing her honor because she is my muse.  It is a different sort of ritual and I am coming to terms with that.  There is a sort of magic in art – that cannot be denied. 

  My family is not Pagan, although some of them have animistic tendencies.  They are accepting of my beliefs, and I am free to talk about them, but I do not go out of my way to rub their noses in it.  I may pray in front of them from time to time, as I did for Thanksgiving, or discuss my ways, but I generally find myself a quiet corner to perform any rites in.  I prefer it that way.  I don’t want to be a spectacle. 

Not tonight!  Tonight will be full of magic and socializing – with my witchy friends in Utica!  Since moving to the North Country, my old Pagan pals stopped meeting openly.  The high priestess*, my dear friend, has learned a lot from her teachers and she is forming her own coven/circle/study group**.  They’ve continually made it known to me that, no matter my path or where I roam, I’m always welcomed to join them.  I’ve started to take them up on that offer.  I miss the frequent magic and Pagan fellowship.  Between ADF rituals and amidst so much work, this is exactly what I need. I cannot exactly put into words exactly what I feel about working with them all except to say that we’ve all grown.  There is a palpable trust and understanding between us which allows me to feel very comfortable and welcomed despite my different ways.  I think we intersect on our love of folk magic and academic study.  The high priestess and one of the others seem more and more influenced by traditional witchcraft – something I am also continually drawn to.  I feel like Druidism is my religious path, but traditional witchcraft can fit very nicely in there.  This is something I’m still exploring, and the group in Utica is just what I need.  I’m so excited for later.  🙂

*I am not sure if she is comfortable being called such, but, to me, that is what she is and that is the role she plays.  In my opinion, it sounds less cult-like than “leader.”  😛

** They are not actively calling it a coven, but I can see it going that way. And you know what?  I’ve grown spiritually since a couple years ago and find myself comfortable being a part of that.  Totally another entry for another day…

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

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We spent Thanksgiving with our parents this year.  Weretoad’s mother visited us and we all went down to my parents’.  Weretoad and I brought the tofurky.  I cooked it in a crock pot surrounded by sweet potatoes and carrots.  Oh my Gods, it was delicious!  We don’t eat many processed faux meats.  We tend to stick with straight beans or homemade bean patties.  When I’m feeling a bit lazy, or when Thanksgiving rolls around, Tofurky is relatively guilt free.  While it’s still a processed product, it’s not made from genetically modified or non-organic soy.  I feel pretty good about eating it. 

I’ve been learning more about Buddhism recently.  I don’t know why, but my interest in it has increased.  There are obvious differences between it and modern Druidism, but there are also similarities.  It fascinates me, especially in regards to compassion.  There is a story about The Buddha attending a planting festival.  Instead of watching the dancers, he focused on the bugs and their eggs.  He thought about how the people digging into the soil had to disturb them, possibly kill them, in order to grow their crops.  This event is said to have helped inspire his philosophy on compassion.  This, in turn, inspired many Buddhists to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently.  No matter how hard I try to be compassionate towards the natural world, I can only do so much without killing myself.  Even the most dedicated fruititarian will inevitably harm one creature, if only through the cultivation of vegetable matter to consume.  Some may look at this and say, “Well then why give up meat?  You cannot escape the circle of life entirely.  You might as well embrace it.”  The thing is, I’m not trying to escape the cycles of nature – I am still a part of them but in a different why than a meat eater.  I experience the cycles differently now that I try not to consume the flesh of my fellow brother and sister animals.  I do what I can  – I seek a balance. There must be a balance of compassion for the Nature Spirits and ourselves.  That balance will be different for each of us depending on the lessons we need to learn and the diet our bodies need.  We should not punish our bodies.  Even The Buddha recognized that killing our bodies for spiritual goals was not healthy.  Everything must be balanced.

We have entered to season of death.  Our ancestors culled the herds and this tradition continues to this day with hunting season.  Since moving to the North Country, I have seen more deer hanging from trees in front of homes.  Every time I see one, I think of Odin hanging from the World Tree, starring down at the roots, seeking wisdom.  I wonder where the deers’ souls have ventured as the blood drains from their bodies.  I marvel that the corvid family is not there to taste their flesh.  As the nights grow colder and hunters work to stock their freezers, I’ve seen them peel the flesh from the deer.  I’ve seen the gleaming muscles and tendons revealed.  Weretoad looks away.  He has his reasons and I respect them.  I stare.  I find myself fascinated with the process.  I feel for the deer, but there is something fundamentally more sacred about the relationship between the hunter and the hunted than the shopper and the package of meat. I think of that as I stare.   That is not to say that I don’t respect the people buying locally farmed and butchered animals – that is also better than buying factory farmed meat.  But one must admit – when it is you hunting/raising, killing, and then skinning the animal…  you enter an intimate dance with the forces of life and death.  It is more than simply being in touch with the land and the agricultural cycles – you are getting in touch with the real essence of mortality. Some of this may be my romanticized, Paganized, outsider perspective, but have talked to people who hunt or raise their own food – some of whom are very close friends and family – I am not alone in thinking these things.

It seems obvious, but there is a difference between killing a plant and an animal.  The only difference is that we can relate more to the animal because of its similarities to us.  I stop and stare at the gutted, dripping, shimmering corpses.  They are like me.  That could be me.  I am reminded of Ricky Fitts from “American Beauty” and his facination with dead people and animals.  When asked why he films them, he says, “It’s like God’s looking right at you, just for a second, and if you’re careful… you can look right back.”  He admits to seeing beauty in what is otherwise uncomfortable and grotesque.  I still feel uncomfortable, but I look anyway and try to feel what the hunter might have felt (if he was the respectful sort like my soon to be brother-in-law).

I read a blog entry recently about what is arguably the most humane way to kill a turkey.  The author described the event, how the animal’s brain died before its body.  The convulsions made a woman who had never seen this cry and feel for the animal.  Even the author admitted to always feeling something of pity for the creature.  He explained that being there to witness the death of the animal is the price a human should pay for eating it.  To eat the fruit of death, a human must pay the price of being reminded of his or her own mortality.  It was a fascinating perspective, and one perfectly in-line with Druidism’ belief in a gift calls for a gift or sacrifice. 

I think that is why I stare.  I don’t experience that exchange as vividly in my garden.  If I kill anything as I till or dig, I do not see it.  I move anything large enough to see.  I experience the death of flesh distantly, but I still feel I must somehow experience it and whisper soft prayers for the departed.  I must be reminded of my own mortality – not through animal activist videos – but through the vivid dance of the hunter and the deer.

In some ways, I suppose I stare for the same reason I stare in awe at the multitudes of stars at night.  I like to be reminded of how small I really am.  For some reason, that feeling is like a hug. 

Gods bless the deer and other game who have fed the multitudes this season.  May you run wild in the Other World!

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

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Little Things

When I have guests over, I do the usual and clean the apartment.  I take care of the physical tidiness, but I also do a little extra for the spiritual side of things.  Although having company resulted in a stressful Tuesday full of cleaning, fatigue, and the self-loathing that resulted in this post,  I made a point to do a little magic today.

Quite simply, I made an offering.  I chose a blend of incense known for it’s purifying properties and offered it to Brighid.  She is my patroness but also a Goddess of the hearth and home.  I prayed to her that the negativity in our home be purified, and that it – and we – be as hospitable as possible to our guests.  A little thing like that can go a long way.  Amidst the hustle and bustle, I took a moment to stop and connect.  I feel that Brighid responded.

It is definitely the little things.

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

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Letter to the Kindreds

Dear Kindreds,

I know I’ve been a bit distant recently.  My ritual last week was tired and rushed.  I forgot my usual peace offering for the Outdwellers.  I forgot to honor the bardic spirit until after I made an offering to the ancestors.  I forgot the ale but, luckily, had whiskey on hand.  It felt like one of my first rituals.  I was embarrassed and felt defeated.  My daily devotionals have been lackluster.  I’ve waited until the last moments to do them before I lazily drag myself to bed far too late.  I speak in hushed tones or in my head because my husband is often there getting ready for sleep.  The altar is in the bedroom and I feel exposed and/or distracted at times.  I know I should do my rituals and devotionals earlier when my husband is at work or busy in the living room, but I spend my time doing other things.  There are things that need to be done, like cleaning.  There are things that I feel called to do, like sew.  There are also huge wastes of time…  Most days, I just want to sit and relax after a long day of work.

I would blame leaving home and visiting family over the weekend for my disrupted routines, but it’s really my own lack of discipline.

I hope you know that you’re never far from my thoughts.  I see you in the trees, feel you on the breeze, hear you in my dreams, and experience you in my art.  I try to keep close, but sometimes I feel like a boat that, while tethered to the dock, has floated lazily away.  I don’t know how others do it.  How do they complete their study programs so quickly?  How do they meditate so regularly without falling asleep?  How do they write articles and books?  How do they do all that while having a job and social life?

Great Kindreds, I will work harder to spend more time with you.  I will work on taking better care of myself and getting to bed sooner.  I will try to waste less time online. I will try harder…

With love,
Grey Catsidhe

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

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