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Posts Tagged ‘2013’

YuleAlongDay1

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

If you read my post from yesterday about getting ready for the Winter Solstice, you’ll remember that I’m (virtually) joining with the Three Cranes Grove to take part in their annual Yule Along.  Today is the day to begin and welcome the winter wanderer.  Since a day to celebrate winter and snow comes later, I felt that, although An Cailleach fits the role of winter wanderer, she is better suited to the later.  Instead, my family gave offerings to Manannán mac Lir.  As a gatekeeper deity, it seemed fitting to honor him as we start our winter festivities.  We prayed that he help us focus on the Kindreds and the truly important aspects of the season rather than becoming distracted by anything that would close the doors on our spiritual connections – gift anxiety, family drama, baking stress…

We also decided to adopt a tradition our German grovie Holda taught us.  Each day of the Yule Along (essentially the “Twelve Days” everyone sings about), we’ll draw a card that corresponds to one month of the coming year.  Tonight we drew a card for January 2014.  The boar brings tidings of challenges but also the warrior spirit, indicating that we have what it takes to survive.

You’ll notice I haven’t had a chance to decorate my altar yet.  By the time we finished dinner, it was dark out and we needed to get groceries for our feasting! Thankfully, my other grovie Tara gave each of us a rock painted with mistletoe!  That is on my altar and standing in for all the beautiful greenery I’ve yet to collect.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  It is “Mother’s Night” and I’m going to honor my own mother, my ancestral mothers, prepare the home and, somehow, make some time for myself.

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I’ve decided to try and reinvigorate my spiritual practice by joining the Three Cranes Grove and their “Yule Along”.  They came up with a Norse-inspired schedule but have invited others to experiment with their own hearth cultures.  So as I prepare for my normal Winter Solstice celebration, I’m also preparing for several days worth of spiritual work.  It will likely consist of a lot of offerings and prayers.  If possible, I will meditate.  My plan is to work with my husband to set aside some time each night for quiet contemplation and togetherness.  No tv, no video games, no movies, no social networking.  Thankfully, this falls during my holiday vacation so I will have more free time throughout the day!

As I gear up, I am going to make sure I have enough offerings.  I’m also going to add some seasonal decor to my altar in the form of evergreen boughs.  Finally, I am planning my family Solstice meal.  This year, I’m preparing to make a quiche.  Weretoad has expressed an interest in making pecan pie – one of my favorites!  I also want to start some new Solstice traditions that Bee can enjoy for years to come – family games, story telling, and maybe some singing.

Here is the rough draft of my schedule:

12/19 Greeting the winter wanderer – I am going to make offerings to Manannán mac Lir as the gatekeeper, tidy up the home, and mentally prepare myself

12/20 Mother’s night/Solstice vigil (which I can totally do because it happens on a WEEKEND!) – Call my mother, make offerings to my ancestors, especially my ancestral mothers, take a relaxing shower (since I’m a mother), and get ready for vigil

12/21 Solstice Day – family gathering with feasting and honoring Angus

12/22 Nature Spirits – take a walk outside and give offerings

12/23 Feast of Fools – not sure what to do here yet…  Thoughts from fellow ADFers who have done the Yule Along before?

12/24 House spirits – offerings and tidying up

12/25 Spirit of hospitality and gifting – offerings to An Dagda and time with family

12/26 Celebrations of winter/snow – another walk outside and offerings made to An Cailleach

12/27 Celebration of the evergreen – special offerings to the evergreen trees

12/28 God/desses of the household (Brighid) – offerings made at her shrine in my kitchen, meditation if possible

12/29 Shining ones – offerings at the main altar

12/30 Bringing in the boar (Lugh – deities/spirits concerning oaths) – offerings made

12/31 Twelfth Night — Resolutions, divination, remembrances, gratitudes – a celebration with friends

1/1 New Year’s Day — Returning the home to regular time, putting evergreens back outside, cleaning the home, and thanking the gatekeeper

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Photos by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Our Solstice isn’t complete without our beloved Yule goat or the sun my father made me a couple years ago. Also starting to display the cards we get!
Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

papersuns

Check out the paper suns we made! Don’t they look great in a window? Inspired by Ozark Pagan Mama, we made some with faces! Photo by Grey Catsidhe. 2013.

stockings

We hung the stockings, including a new one for Bee! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

tree

Finally, we brought in our little potted tree to decorate. It’s small but it’s perfect for our apartment. I’m also not the biggest fan of chopping a tree down just to decorate with. It would be one thing if I also had a wood stove, but I can’t justify it. So we have our little potted friend! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

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On Saturday night, Northern Rivers Protogrove gathered to celebrate Samhain and honor the Ancestors. We decided to have the rite indoors as the rain and cold were quite intense. We are aiming to be more family-friendly and we wanted the little ones to be safe and comfortable.  I used to look down my nose at “fair weather Pagans,” but my tune is changing.  I’m all for communing with Nature in the rain and snow, and there’s definitely a time and place for that, but when you practice a tribal religion, the needs of the many must come first.  Although
I missed the stone circle, we set up a beautiful altar inside the Kripalu Yoga Center.

We called to An Morrigan as the gatekeeper. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

We also set up a special shrine for the visiting Ancestors.  Guests brought photographs, skulls, and other mementos.  I happened to see an announcement that this Samhain marked ADF’s 30th year, so I grabbed the copy of Oak Leaves that eulogizes our late founder, Isaac Bonewits.  He’s definitely an ancestor of the heart for many an ADF grove and protogrove!

We made offerings to the Ancestors and made a special temporary shrine for them. Here you see just one of many mementos brought – a photo of ADF’s late founder, Isaac Bonewits. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

My friend Tara lead the rite and she did a fantastic job.  She even made some wonderful favors for guests in the form of little skulls painted on stones she gathered from a lake.  This Samhain Northern Rivers Protogrove met another milestone in that we have been having our High Day rituals at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center for an entire year!  It’s been a beautiful partnership and I’m so grateful for their hospitality.  Between the growth in ritual attendees and the outstanding participation and leadership of fellow members, I am so proud of us.  On a personal note, since I wasn’t leading the rite, I took the opportunity to write and memorize an invocation to the Ancestors.  I was told I did a wonderful job, and people were moved by my delivery.  It’s always good to hear!  My favorite part of every Samhain, however, is the spiritual and emotional release that comes with honoring our beloved dead and accepting the beauty and inevitably of death as well as the promise of life’s renewal.

Here’s to a new liturgical year full of new and wonderful developments with Northern Rivers Protogrove!

We paid special reverence to the new Ancestors, those who passed away this year. Using a tradition I learned from Muin Mound Grove, everyone announced the name of a new Ancestor while placing a clove into an apple. We invited them to “come to the light” so that they could join the other Ancestors and cross over to the Otherworld. As always, it was very moving. Photo, Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

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Blessed Samhain!

2013 pumpkins

Carved pumpkins and turnips scare away the negative and light the way for our beloved dead. Photo by Weretoad, 2013.

Photo Oct 31, 5 16 10 PM

Hospitality for the Ancestors and offerings from our meal. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

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Honoring One of My Irish Ancestors

Some of you may remember that I have an ancestor from Ireland buried right here in Watertown. I try to visit with an offering each Samhain season. This year felt particularly important because of my late grandfather who worked so hard to find and preserve her grave. I now honor both through this tradition.

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Pepper Plant Photo by Greycatsidhe 2013

The growing season isn’t quite over, but I call uncle.  This year’s garden was the most difficult to maintain and the least productive I’ve had in years.  I have very good reasons, of course.  I moved early in the season and then, just a few days later, gave birth.  The result was an extremely exhausted and achey Grey who was in no condition to do much.  Not to mention, my husband and I had our hands full with a newborn!

Still, I’m a bit sad I wasn’t more successful this year.  That said, I grew one little zucchini (which I really ought to shred for something) and had great success with my herbs and woodland tobacco.  My sugar snap peas did amazing early on, and I should really plant some more now that it’s cooler.   I suddenly have some green tomatoes on the vines, even as some die off from increasingly cold evenings.    My peppers are finally showing some productivity, which is promising.  I planted the bottoms of leeks a month ago and they’re growing.  So it’s not a complete loss and I need to celebrate my accomplishments.  My garden, as always, is a sanctuary for me and helps me feel connected to the Nature Spirits and agricultural cycles.

Still, I’m more hopeful for next year.  I’m also looking forward to a curious little one year old who would like to come outside with mama while she gardens!  I’m also hopeful to make it to more of the farmers’ markets and get back into canning.

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