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Posts Tagged ‘2013’

Although well into the New Year, I wanted to take a moment and conclude writing about my experience with Three Crane Grove’s Yule Along.

My family spent some time honoring our Goddess of the hearth, Brighid, and the Shining Ones. I became a little mixed up at the end.  Three Cranes said they had miscounted or something, and I, in Typical Ditzy Druid fashion, didn’t notice.  I also think the business of the holidays in general threw me off and we somehow missed the day associated with the boar and warriors.  Funnily enough, with regards to my twelve card divination for the new year, it was framed by the boar.  I drew the boar for January and December!  I generally interpret this card as associated with the warrior, a hunt, challenges, possible danger, and even leadership.  This year I intend to refer to the results of the readings at the end of each month and reflect on how close they were.  I should also check going into each month to be on the lookout for the blessings or challenges in store…

New Year’s Eve was spent cleaning the home as best as we could to ensure that we could bring as much cleanliness as possible into 2014.  No easy task with a little one to look after!  While I’m proud of what we accomplished, I’m also proud of myself for just embracing the reality of the situation.  Having a baby who is just starting to crawl will not lend itself to the spotless home of my fantasies.  And really, being a creative person, I doubt I’ll ever have a spotless home.  By coming to terms with that, I let a nagging stress go.  There’s nothing wrong with aiming for cleanliness but to overshoot moderation and delve into a realm of constant self-critique is not healthy.  Goodbye nagging stress, hello acceptance*!

We also had a couple grovies over to ring in the New Year.  A military family, they were away from loved ones and that saddened them.  We welcomed them into our home for a super casual hang out.  One of them, Holda**, is from Germany and wanted to share some of her German New Year’s traditions with us.  We watched a black and white comedy sketch called “Dinner for One” which, apparently, plays non-stop in Germany at that time of year.  She also introduced us to molybdomancy which involves heating lead, pouring it into a container of water, and interpreting the resulting shapes as signs for the New Year.  This method of divination was new to me, and I really enjoyed experiencing it!

We melted the lead in a spoon held over the candle flame. Photo by Weretoad, 2013.

We poured the molten lead into a pot of water then removed it. We used a flashlight to see what shapes we saw and used them to predict 2014. We thought this looked like a ship. Photo by Weretoad, 2013.

The next day, Weretoad and I spent some time putting away our Winter Solstice decorations.  We put the evergreens outside and then I purified the home with some juniper incense.

Overall, observing the 12 Days of Yule was a very rewarding experience.  While not a traditionally Celtic thing to do, it helped me engage with the season in a new and meaningful way that extended beyond and blended nicely with the significance of the Winter Solstice.  It also helped to bridge my celebration with my Christian family’s Christmas by setting aside a day to celebrate the spirit of generosity on the 25th of December.  My husband participated in the rituals and that was really special to me.  I would like to do it again in 2014 but pay better attention to the number of days.

* Dear husband, no you may not use this to get out of helping me clean before we have guests! 😉

** Her Pagan pseudonym.

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Our Winter Solstice tree for the year! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013. Somehow twinkles were added… Oh well. It works.

The Ninth Day of Yule was dedicated to the evergreen trees. We remember the trees outdoors, home to other beings and shelter from the cold. They are a source of food for many such as the white tailed deer. Many people still use the white pine for tea as well which is  a great source of vitamin c in the winter.  Plenty of people chop down live trees and bring them in to decorate.  Sara Lawless shared her wonderful tradition of giving her tree, which she calls a sacrificial tree, offerings.  She then uses it as fuel and in her various herbal and craft creations.  I can definitely get behind that!  The folks at Muin Mound Grove don’t cut down a whole tree.  Rather, they give offerings then take off the top of one of the larger trees.  They do this very carefully so as to not permanently damage it.  This is also a sacrificial tree because, after the Winter Solstice, it is hoisted up their Maypole for Bealtaine, and then cut and given to the Samhain bonfire.  It’s a beautiful tradition that is tied directly to their land.  Weretoad, Bee, and I bring in our little potted dwarf spruce.  It’s wind damaged on one side, and the ornaments don’t hang on it like they would a larger tree…  So it may look rather pathetic to some!  It’s become a tradition in our home, though, and it works well considering we only have so much space.  We love it and enjoy decking it out with a handful of meaningful ornaments.  This year we added some new decorations that were gifted to us by loved ones, including several grovies!  On the Ninth Day of Yule, we spoke words of thanks and praise and put our gratitude and love into a cup of water.  We gave the water to the tree and drew our omen for September.

Observing the Twelve Days of Yule continues to be a positive practice.  It’s helped me get back into a regular routine and has made devotionals a family affair.  My husband has joined me each night and held the baby.  They’ve both helped with divination, and Weretoad is even learning the words.  It means so much to me!

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I hope everyone has been enjoying their Yuletide season!  We just returned from a lovely visit with family.  It is always difficult for me to keep up with rituals when I return home, but I did my best to be mindful of the days.

The Sixth Day of Yule

This day was dedicated to the house spirits which was apt because we prepared to leave home.  I did my best to tidy up a little and made offerings to the house spirits and prayed that they protect everything while we were away.  Upon returning, we gave another offering in thanks for that protection.

The Seventh Day of Yule

My family celebrates Christmas.  Some are Christian and attend mass, while others are agnostic or atheist and embrace it as a secular holiday.  Observing the Twelve Days of Yule has helped me better reintegrate the day into my own practices.  As so many have already said, gift giving is an ancient winter custom and, when you have family who celebrate Christmas, it’s difficult to avoid doing it ont he 25th of December!   This was a day to honor the spirits of generosity and abundance.  For me, that would include the modern amalgamation that is Santa and An Dagda of the Tuatha dé Danann.  While I did not get to make an offering until returning home, the spirits of generosity were very much present.  We received many lovely gifts and I had fun giving my family some handmade items such as this table runner I quilted for my mother.

Photo Dec 25, 1 55 46 PM

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

 

The Eighth Day of Yule

A time to honor the spirits of snow and ice!  Driving home from our visit, lake effect snow started to hit our region.  Big fluffy flakes have been falling upon the land, covering the crusty layer of ice from earlier in the week.  The North Country hasn’t fully thawed out.  The ice still clings to buildings and trees.  Many of the later are still bent over and, in some cases, broken.  I looked out the car window and thought about An Cailleach and all of her power.  The snow and ice is all at once beautiful and destructive.  These weather conditions are good reminders for the many seemingly opposite qualities of magic, myth, and nature.

I had hoped to go for a walk in the snow today, but scheduling, slippery ice, and baby care made that difficult.  We poured offerings for An Cailleach inside and spoke words of praise.  

 

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My Family Gets Me

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Seed, herb, and apple mandala. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Today is the fourth day of Three Crane Grove’s “Yule Along,” and I’m still following! Today is a day to honor the Nature Spirits. Here in Northern NY, it’s certainly a good day to do that. We’re experiencing a big ice storm. The ice casing everything outside is literally 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick! Nature is both beautiful and deadly. Many people have been or still are without power. (Thankfully, we still have power and a warm hearth and home… but the lights have flickered a bit…) Many trees outside are bowed over with the weight of the ice. Many are broken. The roads are slick and people are urged to stay in except in cases of emergency. Days like today give me pause. Despite the cold, the freezing rain, and the miserable conditions outside, Nature will persevere. The plants will be reborn in the spring, and there will still be deer, lady bugs, chickadees, and coyotes when the ice melts. How do they survive? It just amazes me.

As a small offering for any small creatures out looking for something to eat that isn’t encased in ice, I made a little mandala out of seeds, dried apples, and herbs. The act of making a mandala, however simple and rustic mine is, required me to take off my gloves to place the items. I stooped over for a few minutes to do this and, while it wasn’t that long, it was time enough to meditate on the survival of our brother and sister Nature Spirits.  I wish them strength and thank them for inspiring my own strength.

And just to give you an idea of the ice we have, here are a couple photos:

One of our potted trees, completely iced over. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

A spiral of ice. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

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A blessed Winter Solstice to my readers! The sun is reborn and we rejoice in the lengthening days!

Hoof prints guide me. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Yesterday was a hard day for us because of Potion’s passing.  But we persevered and, after a long day of work, delved into preparations for today.  There were gifts to finish, floors to clean, and evergreens to be collected.  Although an ice storm was on the way, and the ground was already starting to freeze, Potion’s death made me want to take a walk in the woods even more.  As I told my father, who offered to come with me, sometimes I like to go alone.  Getting away from other people and spending some silent time with the trees can be very meditative.  It also allowed me to get in touch with my spirit guide.  The snow was crusted over and hard, but I followed the deer tracks in and around the woods.  I made offerings to my spirit guide and the local Nature kin.  I collected the evergreens from the ground, considering them gifts from the deer who pull the branches down to feed.  I have no need to cut from the actual trees.

A basket full of green! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

I added the greenery to my altar and over my hutch where my Yule goat and wooden sun hang out. In the future, when I have more time, energy, and Bee is old enough to help, I would love to gather enough to make big garlands to drape over the dining room window and along the stairway.

Following Three Crane Grove’s Twelve Days of Yule, yesterday was for remembering mothers. I put some special mementos and photos on my altar to pay homage to my ancestral mothers and the spirit of motherhood. I also took some me-time and had a warm, relaxing shower. Offerings were poured and words were said.

My altar grows ever more festive! Photo by Weretoad, 2013.

I was very excited to stay up and keep vigil for the sun, but between the emotional exhaustion, all the prep for today, and general infant care, I found myself increasingly exhausted. I went to bed but set an alarm and was able to greet the sun in my own way – singing “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison with Bee grinning ear to ear!  This was followed by some more napping, a breakfast of waffles, our gift exchange, watching “Love Actually,” and our Winter Solstice feast!  My wonderful husband, who is an amazing baker, made me a pecan pie as a gift.  I made a spinach and mushroom quiche.  Not pictured are the roasted potatoes I made or the salad my father put together!

Our Winter Solstice Feast. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Now we’re relaxing and hoping not to lose power from the big ice storm. It gives me a lot of extra time to finish crafting gifts for family. Speaking of that, if you’re looking for some last minute gift ideas or activities to do with little ones, take a peek at these great suggestions:

Pagan Ozark Mama teaches you how to make a “Yule Heart.”  If you are influenced by a Heathen hearth culture, check out her delightful wooden Sleipnir tutorial!

8 Magical crafts to gift or adorn your Solstice tree from The Magic Onions.  Here’s 8 more that use natural materials found in the wild!

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Potion

Our beloved Potion. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 20??

 

Last night, we lost a very special little friend.  Potion the ferret has been one of our furry companions since my undergrad years.  I fell in love with her at a pet shop one day and couldn’t resist.  I had been researching ferrets already and was hoping to give one a home.  This particular ferret came from a breeder in Canada and was the only one at the independent pet store.  She was so tiny then…  And boy, was she a handful.  For such a little thing, she could sure bite.  She drew blood on more than one occasion, and it was only through the patient but stern training of my husband (who was still my boyfriend at that time) that she learned to trust us and have fun without chomping down.  After that, she was one of the most gentle little souls in our home.  She played with the cats, loved to explore inside the couch, and was always happy to lick our ears after a shower.  Later in life, she would show that same gentleness with our baby.  When she was younger, she regularly performed her “ferret war dance” with many a cluck.  Because ferrets are social animals, we brought home a friend for her – Puck.  They were the best of friends, although they also got into little spats.  It was a riot to watch them bounce around together…

When Puck passed away in the summer of 2012, it seemed like a little bit of Potion’s spark went with her.  Her friend was gone and she had less to do when we were away in the day.  We continued to take her out as often as possible and she still seemed in pretty good health.  She loved to chase and be chased by our little cat Samus.  When she got tired, she’d find a quiet place to hide and fall asleep.  This was always rather annoying because it happened before I needed to put her in her cage for the night.  It was a ritual that inevitably belated our bedtime. We used to have to coax her out by shaking a container of treats or gently kicking at the couch.  Sometimes she’d nip me through the fabric which always made my husband laugh.  She was gentle but could be a little spitfire too!

After I had my baby girl, we weren’t able to spend as much time with Potion.  We still took her out every night, but because we moved into a bigger house and had to attend to the baby, we kept her in our bedroom.  After a little while, I noticed that she was less active and seemed to be out of character.  She didn’t bounce and cluck like she used to.  She was losing fur and showing all the signs of the diseases that plague ferrets, especially the elderly.  It was everything Puck had experienced, but at a very rapid and sudden pace.  She continued to hide and fall asleep every night.  Some days it was hard to find her again.  I always feared I’d stumble upon her already dead.  I made a special point to tell her I loved her and gave her extra cuddles before bed just in case.  Puck’s death was a surprise and I’ve always felt bad that I wasn’t able to say goodbye…

A few nights ago, I noticed Potion was really out of sorts.  She didn’t seem to be eating or drinking as much.  Her stool was different.  She hardly wanted to move. I cuddled her close and stroked her head, looking into those little beady eyes that always shimmered with so much love.  I felt awful for not being able to do more for her.  Between all of our debt and medical bills, we just didn’t have the money to take her to the vet for tests that would only tell us what we already knew.  We opted to offer her the best comfort we could until the quickly approaching end.  We modified her cage so she didn’t have to climb to reach anything.  I carried her with me to the sink and gave her water right out of my hand.  We gave her soft treats which she still showed a great love for.

Last night I cuddled her close and whispered my love to her.  I noticed a couple of her nails looked long so I trimmed them to try and keep her comfortable.  I helped her into her hammock , stroked her little head, and said goodnight.

This morning I found her cold and still.  I pray she didn’t suffer long and I hope she knew how loved she was.  I hope she knew how much joy she brought to us even though the end was hard and she did not get as much of our attention after the baby.  Because it was anticipated, I don’t feel as shaken as I did when Puck passed away.  I had time to really come to terms with it.  I also firmly believe that Puck was waiting for her.  A few nights ago, she did something she’s never done – something that was Puck’s specialty: she stole something rubbery- my husband’s nice earbuds.  I was struck by how odd it was for her.  It’s like she was playing with Puck.  And last night, before going to bed, I picked up my baby and randomly started to sing “Reunited” by Peaches.  I feel like Puck was here, waiting to be reunited with her old friend.  And indeed, when the ground thaws, I will put Potion next to puck in the moon garden.

In case you’re wondering, no – I’m not planning to bring any more ferrets into my home.  Not now, anyway.  They are adorable and clever, it’s true.  They make me laugh and have so many good qualities.  They really do make great pets, however they really need a lot of attention and care – something I just can’t do with a baby.  So if you’re interested in caring for ferrets, please know that they need a lot of work.  Think about your current lifestyle as well as what you aspire for.  Think about whether or not you’ll have room in your budget for the end of life care they often need.  I didn’t think about that in college but I did the best I could …

As we enter the second day of the 12 Days of Yule and I place mementos of her around my Ancestral altar, I’m reminded of how precious life is.  No matter what you celebrate, take some time to show everyone in your life, including your smallest family members and friends, that you love them.  You never know when they will be called to the Otherworld.

 

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