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Early September harvest featuring hot peppers, a tomato, a cucumber, an eggplant, and apples from the backyard. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I might not be able to fill my cupboards with food for the winter, but what I am able to grow and wildharvest really helps connect me to the land and the changing seasons. Thanks Nature Spirits! Thanks Mother Earth!

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Cherry tomatoes from a past garden. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

 

My toddler daughter is mastering walking (and running), and loves going outside to walk around my garden.  She’s also mastering her fine motor skills, which has made for some mildly stressful walks.  She’s seen me harvest enough food from the garden to understand that you can pick things and eat them.  Thankfully, she doesn’t put just anything in her mouth these days, but she knows that tomatoes are a good thing to pick and pop in your mouth.  As a result, several little green tomatoes have left the mother vine before their time.  It’s taken a lot of patience and modeling, but I think Bee is starting to understand that we want to pick the red tomatoes.  Any red tomatoes in her sight are hers – at least that’s what she thinks.  I try to pick as many as I can for our salads, but I make sure she can find one or two.  The pride on her face when she finds one is so heartwarming, and the grin that forms when she sucks in that delicious, fresh tomato juice …  I’ve always felt that it was a summer elixir, and it shows on her face.  It feels wonderful to know that she is developing an appreciation for homegrown food.  Seasonal foods play an important role in our holiday rituals, so this is a simple but important step to understanding and celebrating our relationship with the natural world.

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The view from Wellesley Island, NY. Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

Like most people in America, I spent some time outdoors with my family this Labor Day weekend. We decided to explore one of the larger islands in the 1000 Islands – Wellesley Island. We chose to take a late afternoon hike on one of the shorter trails at the Minna Anthony Nature Center. We arrived shortly before the building closed, but we were able to take a quick peek at the butterfly house. There weren’t many butterflies in there, but we did enjoy what we saw. Honestly, the highlight for me was finally seeing a positively identified nettle in person. There’s a world of a difference between looking at field guides and live specimens. Now I have a better sense of what to look for when I go foraging again!

Since we had toddlers with us and none of us were dressed for a longer hike, we decided to take a short trail. You can lengthen your hike by continuing on to a lookout over Eel Bay, but we turned towards a dock*. All the while, the St. Lawrence River was just visible through the still green trees, it’s gentle waves hushing the chattering squirrels. There were several large oak trees near the path. We stopped to admire them – even hug them. I’ve been teaching Bee that trees are important Nature Spirits. We say hello to them, and I teach her their names as we do this. “Hello oak!” She always waves.

We were delighted at how quiet the dock was. Perhaps it was the time of day, or perhaps most people were busy swimming or having picnics. Had it only been myself, my husband, and daughter, I would have asked for some quiet time to meditate. It’s a great spot for just that. We put our feet in and caught some sun on our faces. Land, sea, and sky – an island is a great place to connect with the Three Realms.

Weretoad and I intend to return on our own in the future. We want to hike the longer trail to Eel Bay, and I would like to do some meditation. It’s a large state park, and there seem to be plenty of quiet areas where a Druid or even a very small group could go to meditate.

*We discovered afterwards that the dock is also accessible via an even shorter trail right behind the center itself.

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A lovely Mother Goddess statue from Brigid’s Grove, gifted to me by a dear friend. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I’ve been reading and enjoying Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon.” Several people in my protogrove decided to read it towards various ADF study programs and to honor Adler as an Ancestor.  I know I’ll have more to discuss when I’m finished.  For now, I’m nearing the end of the section on Feminist Witchcraft.  I consider myself a feminist, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very informed on the philosophy.  Basically, I want women to have equality with men, and I want us to live in harmony.  A lot has happened in my family the past couple of years that has only made me feel stronger about this, yet I’m not a political feminist.  Perhaps I should be?  Perhaps I will be one day.  To me, it seems inextricably linked to environmentalism, which is something I’ve been somewhat political about.  That said, I don’t feel like I have the vocabulary to fully explore these thoughts yet.  There’s a lot in the chapter that both resonates with me, but there’s a lot more that makes me uncomfortable or uncertain.

Despite these dubious feelings, Adler’s anecdotes made me nostalgic for a time when I belonged to a small, eclectic women’s circle.  When I say small, I mean it was myself and my budding interest in Irish polytheism, a friend just starting to explore Greek polytheism and Heathenism (R), and another who was very into the Reclaiming movement (K).  Each of us took our spirituality seriously and valued experiential learning, creative expression, and scholarship.  This was, and continues to be, a rare combination in NeoPaganism.  We clicked right away.  Every so often, another woman would join us for one or two meetings, but usually it was just the three of us.  This was before K started her formal study through a coven,  before I officially joined ADF, before I was engaged…  K had had 5-10 years of experience more than myself at the time, but she never lorded it over us.  She acted as a guide and encouraged us in our own journeys.  As a first “teacher,” I was very lucky in that she wasn’t interested in a power trip or manipulating us.  I learned so much from her just with regards to facilitating a group.  We meditated, explored energy, did some very focused magic, and even tried some trance together.  Yes, we occasionally talked about very feminine topics like our periods, but it was so much more than that.  We laughed a lot, learned a lot, and drank a lot of tea.  All three of us became very close friends.

Eventually, the group evolved into a gender-inclusive coven of sorts.  K was working her way through three degrees of priestesshood in a coven a few hours away, and her talent was growing.  A few more people got involved, including K’s husband, another married pair, and two other young women.  Shortly after this, my schedule grew tight due to work and an internship.  I joined ADF and, since those rituals were philosophically more meaningful to me, I decided to attend those rituals rather than the eclectic Wiccan rituals the group was doing.  Then I moved away.

I continue to stay in touch with my friends from Utica, especially the two women who helped me build a solid foundation. Both took time out of their busy schedules to take major roles in my wedding.  R is also an ADF member, so we have bonded a lot through that.  We continue to see each other from time to time at ADF events.  The small coven-like group stopped meeting because of schedule conflicts – mostly because K went back to college, yet we touch base online and at other Pagan happenings.  (Thank goodness for Pagan Pride, right?)

My experience with this women’s circle was so important to my spiritual development.  I think our lives are a spectrum of intense spiritual learning and just as intense hibernation, like the waxing and waning of the moon.  My time with K and R was one of a couple intense periods that I’ve experienced so far.  I learned so much from them that has helped me organize Northern Rivers Protogrove.  I sometimes think about trying to organize a small women’s circle for the core female members of our group.  I don’t know when we could ever meet since we’re already so busy, and planning open meetups for everyone is difficult enough.  I guess I just miss that intimacy, and that intense feminine bonding that took place.  It was easy to relax and be myself, which meant we could raise a lot of energy.  I rarely feel that in open Pagan gatherings.  There’s too much shielding and feeling out newcomers.  With regards to men, it’s not that I’m against working with them on intense magical projects…  but none of the active men in the group are as into it as the women.  It’s rare for me to meet men who are as interested in magic and spirituality who I also agree with philosophically and intellectually.  I also admit to having trust issues with heterosexual men, so if you’re not attached to a close female friend I trust, or if you’re not in my family, it will take me some time to feel completely comfortable with you!

Weird, huh?  And so I come back to my original uncertain thoughts about feminine witchcraft and exclusive women’s circles.  I suppose I find them necessary, but not the basis of my spirituality.  Clearly, I embrace the idea of open, gender-inclusive, family-oriented Pagan gatherings because I embrace ADF.  Perhaps I should explore the concept of occasional retreats with the women in the group*?

*For me, this would include anyone who identifies as a woman.

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Slowly Moving

As you may or may not notice (depending on how you receive my posts), I’ve started to move from Blogger to this – WordPress.  I used Blogger for awhile and was familiar with it.  As time went by, I noticed how nice WordPress blogs/sites looked.  My husband fooled around with one for awhile and had nothing but good things to say about it.  It just seems more user-friendly compared to, well, any blog sites I’ve experimented with.

Things will be a little dodgy for awhile.  Weretoad is going to make me a banner and I will undoubtedly fool around with the format.  I’m also going to move my old website over and integrate it in WordPress.  Please be patient with me as I go about this.  🙂

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Testing…

Ignore this.

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I guess I’m as ready for Wellspring as I’ll ever be.  I spent the last several hours rushing to get tags on my dolls, clothes packed, and a car rented.  It’s supposed to be in the 80s all week and I just can’t tolerate being in a hot car without AC for five and a half hours…

I emailed Skip last night about just giving him the W-9 rather than scanning and emailing it.  I feel weird emailing something with my social security number on it, you know?  A game account of mine was recently hacked and it made me feel concerned about security.  I haven’t heard back from him about it so I hope it’s okay!

Ok…  here’s hoping I can get some sleep!  I’m so excited to meet other ADFers and have a fun, Pagan time!

[ For my LJ friends, please visit me at: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ ]

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