Posts Tagged ‘2012’

I’m very proud to say that the North Country Druidic Study Group’s first ritual went well!  We celebrated the autumn season and honored the Nature Spirits, thanking them for the harvest.  There were 11 of us in total.  For 7 attendees, this was their first time joining the group.  It was also a first exposure to ADF Druidic ritual in many cases.  This made things a bit awkward at times, simply because everyone is learning – including myself with regards to properly explaining roles, chants, and expectations.  My usual ditziness reared its ugly head, of course, but I like to think it makes for a more relaxed environment.  😛  We have some growing to do, but our first ritual went well and several people told me afterwards that they loved it and are so excited to be involved.  Some have also expressed gratitude that I’ve started this group since finding things alternative to Wicca is very difficult in the North Country.  I’m happy to oblige.

Washing local potatoes for a vegan, gluten-free potato salad!  No Druidic gathering is complete without a potluck.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012
The finished product.  It was delicious!  Everyone who came was very generous.  I wish I had taken a photo of the spread.  There were scrumptious homemade rolls, cake, pies, apple flatbread, apple  strudel, veggies, teas, and salads.  Mmmmm!  Just about everyone remembered to bring their own plates, cutlery, and cups.  I’m really trying to cut down on waste out of respect for the Nature Spirits.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
The group’s first ever altar!  Because everyone is learning, I took charge of bringing all the ritual tools – including a cornucopia to house our key offerings.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
A closeup of the offerings in the cornucopia.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
Later, I brought the offerings into the forest near my home.  I carried them to the shrine I visit and carefully laid the items out.  Look at the group’s generosity – tomatoes, squash, peppers, flowers, herbs, berries, and pumpkin seeds!  They go back to the Earth Mother and the Nature Spirits.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

Future gatherings are already in the works! We’re planning a coffee hour this month and we will be celebrating Samhain early November. Wish us luck as our acorn of a group germinates into a sprout!

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Stones from a pet cemetery near my parents’ home.
A well in the pet cemetery.
Activity from the seed tray!  I love seeing the seeds move , then roots!
Chive blossoms!  In March!  Wow!  What a lovely sight.

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The Vernal Equinox approaches and, as is customary because of our modern schedules, Muin Mound is to celebrate on the weekend – March 17th, to be exact.  For those of you who live under a rock, that’s St. Patrick’s Day.

A column from the General Post Office in Dublin on O’Connel St.   If you look close, you can see the bullet holes from the Easter Rising in 1916.    Although the story is more complicated than religious differences, such tension plays a part as Catholic Ireland wanted independence from Protestant England.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

Last year, I posted about why I use this day to celebrate my Irish heritage.  I also discussed why I no longer buy into the celebration of “All Snakes Day” or “Return of the Snakes.”  To summarize, it all comes down to a desire not to focus on religious divisiveness and instead celebrate a commonality.

A few days before Muin Mound’s Imbolc celebration, I woke up from a dream and felt very moved to lead the Spring Equinox Rite to honor Éire, Ireland herself.  What better time than when so much energy is focused on her (albeit mixed with racial stereotypes and green beer)?  My grove was favorable of the suggestion so I’ve been working on the ritual outline for the upcoming occasion (despite all my other obligations.  My ancestors insisted quite a bit.).  In addition to honoring Éire, we’ll also pay respect to Amergin, the ancient bard who made a pact with her which allowed our Irish ancestors to settle there.  In my opinion, this began a tradition of reciprocity between us and the land.  For allowing the Míl to live on Ireland (and defeat the Tuatha de Dannan in war), Amergin promised Éire (and her sisters Banba and Fódla) that Ireland would forever carry her name.

The challenge for me was how to include the celebration of Spring into this mix.  Many in the grove still wanted that emphasized which made sense to me.  I decided to include language that praises the green of Ireland while also welcoming the return of our own green here in America.  I also focused on a rebirth of our spirituality, inspired by Ireland, just as the spring marks new life.  Thus, we will meditate on physical and spiritual rebirth.
Another challenge was a grovemate’s request that I teach a tutorial on making felted Ostara eggs.  True, this would take place early in the day and well before the rite.  Yet the expectation is likely that many will use these as offerings.  Indeed, I made one to be the main offering!  Of course, there’s the very Anglo-Saxon energy of Ostara eggs which is not, at first thought, compatible with a rite to honor Ireland.  What to do, what to do…?

I remembered reading about the supposed Druid Egg, a magical stone/egg produced by snakes and used by Druids.  The snake, in many cultures, represents rebirth and is as good a spring symbol as the chicken!  And I find myself, in trying to avoid an “All Snakes Day” celebration, making felted, Ostara-inspired, snake eggs.

There is cosmic humor in this.

Still, our recent Irish ancestors, influenced by Germanic settlers, did dye eggs to mark Easter. So we will be honoring the ancient and more recent ancestors of Ireland.

If you are looking for a way to tap into the energy of St. Patrick’s Day without the Catholicism or mixture with Spring Equinox customs, I highly suggest reading this post, “Liberalia, Hero-Feast of Cú Chulainn” by Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous.  It’s inspired me to do a private devotional to Cú Chulainn this month.

And I’m curious about my readers – how are you marking St. Patrick’s Day if at all?  What about the Spring Equinox?

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A Little Me Time

I feel like I’m always starting posts with a line about being busy and stressed and blah de blah de blah.  Well, life has been really hectic this year.  I tweeted yesterday about feeling spiritually suffocated.  During these times, I feel so disconnected.  It’s so easy to become depressed in a mire of uninteresting books, reports, and obligations.  Add crushing student loans and high rent to the equation, and it makes me want to escape into Netflix or a book most nights.

Yesterday was good, though.  I got to sleep in for a little, then had a bit of me time after work.  I used it to go into the forest and make some offerings to the local spirits.  It was a gorgeous day – strikingly warm compared to the bitter chill from earlier in the week.  I made offerings to the spirits and picked up some litter.  I smiled at the green pushing up through the brown earth and the red buds on trees.  I delighted in the song of birds.  It felt wonderful. (Still no resins to collect…)

In the evening I stepped onto the patio to observe the lovely full moon.  I actually raised my hands in the air, shut my eyes, and stretched up to that silver wheel.  It felt as if a little charge ran through me and I was ready for another, stressful day.

To be true, today was stressful – but I survived and enjoyed a delicious meal at a favorite restaurant with my husband.  When life hands us lemons, we tend to treat ourselves to dinner.  It’s how we roll.  And whenever I eat, even when stressed, I pray thanks to the spirits.

Little things like that – me time, time to connect, time to slow down – they get me through the rough patches.

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“Imbolc Crepe” photographed by Weretaod 2012

Although I was feeling too ill for serious ritual and meditation on the first of February, the calendrical beginning of Imbolc for many Pagans, I was feeling a little more ambitious on the second, what I consider to be the day my personal observations wind down.  I was still congested and groggy, but I wanted to make a special meal and a Francophone friend inspired me when she posted “Today is La Chandeleur, crepe day!” on Facebook.  La Chandeleur  is basically French for “Candlemas.”  For those new to the holiday, it celebrates Mary’s purification and the presentation of Jesus at temple.  I have vague memories of occasional Candlemas observances when I went to church – people brought candles to receive God’s blessing for the year.  It is actually very similar to what many Pagans do for Imbolc and the probable pre-Christian connection is hard to dismiss.

So what does this have to do with crepes?

Well, someone questioned my friend about le jour des crêpes and she explained that the crepes represent the sun.  What a beautiful cultural tradition on what many preindustrial European cultures considered a threshold to spring!  I did a quick search to find more information and found it on the French wikipedia entry as well as this in English. Along with the solar attributes, there are various fortune-telling activities that go along with crepes!  Très fascinant!  Then when you consider that France used to be Gaul…  Oh, it just makes the imagination go wild!

Anyway, being a Druid, former Catholic, and French student, I decided that making crepes would be a perfect way to end my Imbolc celebration (I love familiarizing myself with the cultural practices of my ancestors).  I used a basic crepe recipe but substituted the milk with almond milk and the butter with vegan margarine*.  Funnily enough, I made whipped cream using dairy products!  I prepared some fruit from the freezer but also sautéed mushrooms, greens, and onions.  That way we had dinner and dessert crepes!  They turned out amazing and were a big hit.  Definitely a good (and filling) Imbolc tradition!

Bon appétit!

*I do consume dairy, just sparingly hence the presence of these items in my fridge.  My husband prefers when I use real milk in my baking since he claims he notices a difference in taste, but we were out of his milk.  I mentioned the difference here in case any vegan friends wanted to try.  I did, however, use eggs.  I’m not sure how crepes would turn out using a substitute like flaxseed but let me know if you try it!  The almond milk worked out great!

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A Quiet Imbolc at Home

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to celebrate Brighid’s day on Saturday with my wonderful grove.  Now that the modern observation is upon us, I’ve fallen ill again.  I’ve not been up for much, unfortunately.  I always find it difficult to meditate when sick so heavy trance or long ritual really isn’t much of an option.  I meditated on Brighid and healing briefly as I lit her flame this night.  Otherwise I’ve been sewing, watching shows on Netflix, attempting to clean here and there (difficult to do when feeling like rubbish), and trying to take care of myself.

Focusing on Brighid’s healing aspects, I’ve been drinking a lot of herbal tea.  I also steamed myself using some lavender.  It really helped my sinuses and my skin feels so soft…

As I said earlier, I hope the rest of you have a wonderful Imbolc!  Here’s hoping she lays a healing hand upon me this night.

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Blessed Imbolc

Cros Bhríde from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.

Here’s a video of Imbolc customs in modern Ireland (North Donegal).  You can see the threshold rite as well as a community weaving Brighid crosses.

Here are some more Imbolc customs, including weather predictions.  It says a rainy Imbolc means a good summer.  It rained here today so I guess we’ll see what it’s like in a few months!

Blessed Imbolc everyone!

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