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Posts Tagged ‘30 Days of Druidry’

I sometimes find it awkward to discuss elements in regards to Druidism.  There are Druids who use the four classical elements.  There could be different reasons for it.  It works quite nicely in OBOD, I guess, or they could be interested in Hellenic culture.  Druids influenced by CR  tend to view things differently though.  I would generally consider the elements to be the same as the realms.  They are interrelated, after all.  If the elements are what make up the world, then then it makes sense to view the realms, which make up the world, as the elements.

Sky = Fire

Sea = Water

Land = er…Land.

At this point you say, “But Grey!  What about air?!  Surely your ancestors understood the importance of air!”

To that I say – I don’t know!  I think Sky adequately covers air as well.  It is funny to think about air taking a back seat to earth, fire, and water.  Life could not exist without it, just as much as it couldn’t exist without the others.  It’s something I’ve always been a little curious about…

 

Any other Druids and/or Recons want to take a stab at this?

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Earth – The Middle Realm

This is where we start.  We humans are born here between the Upper and and Underworlds.  As a Druid in training of Northern NY, I am surrounded by trees, boulders, fields, rivers, lakes, and some mountains.  It is a dynamic territory.  We share the middle realm with the Nature Spirits.  We must learn to work together and live in better harmony.  It is difficult, but we must keep trying.  The Middle Realm is teeming with life and possibility.  Although usually associated with the Nature Kin, there are also Land Gods.  Pan.  Cernunnos.  Flidais.  Land Goddesses.  We must also remember the ancestors who come out to wander in this realm, especially when the veil that separates the worlds is thin.  From the Middle Realm grows the sacred tree – the bíle– which connects the Upper and Lower Worlds.

Sky – The Upperworld

Some Irish lore says that the Tuatha de Dannan came from the sky, possibly on a ship made (or obscured by) mist.  It makes them sound a bit extraterrestrial, doesn’t it?  Symbolically, this sky has always had a strong connection to the spirit realm.  It is full of mist (clouds) and, for much of human history, incomprehensible orbs of light.  The stars have aided humans in navigation spiritually and physically. To the modern Druid, the sky is still a sacred realm.  It is the home of the life giving sun – the fire.  The fire is a source of inspiration and transformation.  Through it, civilizations can form, plants can grow, and animals can feed.  The sky is one source of life for those of us in the Middle Realm.  Though commonly associated with the Gods of many pantheons, we must not forget the Nature Spirits who have access to it – the hawks, eagles, seagulls, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, locusts, etc…

Sea – The Underworld

Bodies of water – the sea, wells, bogs, rivers – have traditionally been associated with the Underworld; the land of the dead – our ancestors.  It is dark and full of unknowns.  In many ways, it is similar to our human perception of death.  Bodies of water, especially seas, large lakes, and rivers, can also symbolize emotion.  One moment, they are a writhing mess of mist, spray, and bone crushing waves.  The next, they are serene sanctuaries of life.  Like the orbs of light in the sky,  the sea can be a source of civilization and life or a source of destruction.  Though connected to the Ancestors, there are plenty of Gods associated with this realm.  Manannan Mac Lir, Neptune, Poseidon, The Lady of the Lake, Boann, even Venus – they all have some connection to the Waters of Life.  Nature spirits also live in this realm – whales, dolphins, sharks, urchins, coral, algae…

The sacred tree branches out and connects us to the Upperworld.  The sacred tree spreads its roots and connects us to the Underworld.  We are all connected through these realms and there are many grey areas as to who has dominion over what.  All I know is that we must work together to live in balance.  You cannot have too much sea, or sky, or earth.  Each depends on the other to create life.

I apologize if this post is full of errors or slightly incomprehensible.  I’m recovering from my oral surgery and am battling bouts of fatigue, weakness, and nausea.

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I’m going to cheat a little bit today and link to a couple previous posts.  When I started to think about what I could say about this topic, I realized that I already wrote about it as part of my DP.  I’ve done more writing about my growing relationship with Nature and the Earth Mother, such as my recent post, The Divine in the North Country, but my original essay on Working with Nature still rings true.  I’ve grown some since writing it.  I’m married, in a new home, a stricter vegetarian, and more experienced in my path.  I’ve started to make some of my own cleaning products now.  I’ve started to eat more locally and favor handmade or local crafting materials when possible.  My once little garden is, while still small, much bigger than it used to be.  Nature continues to be one of the most important spiritual experiences in my life.  Nature nurtures my soul, teaches me, calms me, and inspires me.  It’s why I am who I am.

Forgive me for simply reposting old material, but I’m not sure if I could say it any better.  Perhaps when I’m five or ten years older, my perceptions will change even more and warrant a more thoughtful reexamination.  For now, I need to relax and prepare myself for a minor oral surgery tomorrow.  When I last visited my oral surgeon for a consultation, I had a good view out of the window.  I could see the trees.  I hope I can see them tomorrow as I lose consciousness…

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Newgrange Entrance Stone

The entrance stone at Newgrange. Photo by me - 2011.

What is my place in this world?  Where does my tribe belong?

The answer?  Not hard.

We were born of the ancestors, the wise ones of blood, heart, and place.  The ancestors share their wisdom and lore.  The ancestors inspire us.  The ancestors teach us what is and isn’t worthy.

The ancestors were born of the Gods. The Gods, beyond human death, flow with ever-growing wisdom.  They are the keepers of secret knowledge. They share their blessings with the honorable.  They smile upon the hospitable, generous, pious, moderate, and loyal.  They love the courageous, curious, and talented.  They teach us like a master smith shapes metal.

The Nature Spirits were born of the Gods.  We are the brothers and sisters of the Nature Kin and must give them their due respect.  We walk, run, dig, swim, fly, hop, crawl, slither, and grow upon the Earth Mother,together, united in the sacred dance of life and death.  We are the hunters and hunted alike.

We grow under the sky…

We grow surrounded by sea…

Above us the Upperworld…

Below us the Underworld…

We are of the middle world with our brothers and sisters.

When I go to the grove – when I go to my altar – I remember the order of things.  I light the sacred fire to remember all sacred fires.  I silver the well to remember all sacred wells.

They are the sources of life, community, civilization, art, healing, inspiration, magic, passion, cleansing, and transformation.  They belong to my lady, Brighid.  They are to be honored and respected.  Though a source of our humanity, they are full of the chaotic potential for destruction. They may rain upon us, drown us, swallow us…

Life…death…life…death…  That is the way of things.

When I go to the grove – when I go to my altar – I remember the order of things.  I make offerings to the tree, the bíle, an ancient fellow in the middle realm who reaches to the Upper and Lower Worlds.  The tree connects us to the realms.  It shares with us food, shelter, and, if you listen, wisdom.  Honor the trees and tread lightly in their realms!

Look to the tree and know your place in the world.  Sky above, Earth below, Sea around.

I am a Druid, a child of fire, water, and tree.  I am a Druid, a lover of the Nature, Ancestors, and Gods.

I know this is late…  This will probably turn out to be the “Dispersed, Random 30 Days of Druidism.”  I also toyed with the idea of writing more of a theoretical explanation for why I do what I do – something based on lore, historical records, and archaeology…  But that is done so much. Furthermore, there is little known on the origins of Celtic myth.  We do not have a Theogony or a Genesis.  Much of our cosmology is UPG or based on bits and pieces of lore, archaeology, history…  I decided to write a narrative of sorts… If you want to know more about the whys, I encourage you to look through the articles of Ár nDraíocht Féin, the CR FAQ, IMBAS, as well as such texts as Cath Maige Tuired Táin Bó Cúalnge, etc…

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First off, let me just say that I tend to refer to what I practice as Druidism.  Some people will discuss differences between “Druidry” and “Druidism” – one as a philosophy and the other as a religion.  I ascribe to the latter, but the word choice doesn’t really matter.  I just wanted to clear that up from the start.

I was recently introduced to a blog called Feral Druidry.  The author,  Seillean Ioho, is unlike me in several ways.  He* is from the Midwest, and I from the North East.  He is more interested in revival Druidism whereas I lean more towards reconstructionism**.  He’s of OBOD and I’m in ADF.  He is less comfortable with Celtic cultures whereas I have embraced them – past and present.  He seems more interested in solitary practices whereas I work with a grove as well as on my own.  What do we share in common besides the name?  What unites us in some way?

Seillean and Alison Leigh Lilly both wrote about the archetype of the Druid in their respective blogs.  There is power in that image.  It is what called me to Druidism in the first place.

Eight or nine years ago, a friend and I dappled with Wicca.  Her interest would wane but my involvement in Paganism would grow and flourish.  Originally, it was nature who called me to Paganism.  I will always be on an Earth-Centered path.  From my childhood upwards, I’ve always been in love with the natural world.  I hugged and played in the trees.  I sympathized for the plants and animals and argued with a Catholic priest that they have souls.  My mother used to say I must have been a Native American in a previous life *** because of how I would pretend to be an animal and dance around the house.

Yet I was not called by my Cree ancestors.  As interested as I’ve always been, it was not for me.  I looked elsewhere.  The Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians seemed too urban.   Witchcraft…  Now that held my attention, and still does…  A person of power… yet on the edges.  An outcast in much of history.  A woman scorned.  No, that was not for me either though there is perfect validity in that practice.  Much of it overlaps with what I do.

 

Enter the Druid, that mysterious, mythologized figure from our ancient past…  He or she is of the trees.  The Druid knows their language and worships in nature.  They channel the divine world.  The Druid, a priest shrouded in the mists of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, The Isle of Mann, Gaul…  Those priests and priestesses of the Ancient Celts who met Caesar and other ancient historians and warlords.  The Druids…  The fathers and mothers of Merlin.

Did I mention my childhood adoration of Arthurian legend?

Much of my original understanding of Druids was romanticized.  Turns out they weren’t just a bunch of tree-hugging dirt worshippers.  But then again…  that’s not all I do either, is it?  Sure it’s a huge part of what I do, but the more I read about Druids, the more I realized I had in common with them.  They were the learned people.  They studied for years and years to become the judges, historians, teachers, and, yes, priests of their people – a people with a dynamic culture of art, bard-craft, and warrior skill.  The Druids themselves could be multitalented.  And there I was, a young woman in college – learning to serve my people.  An artist, a writer, a priestess devoted to the Gods within my own home.

At first, the solitary, woodland mystique drew me to the Ancient Wise.  As I grow in skill and erudition, my understanding of their history improves.  I found a home for both my love of nature and culture.  I can be a champion of the forest and an artist, teacher, and tribeswoman.  Somehow, the two can intertwine in a balanced harmony – like a spiraling knot.

So here I am: an American mutt drawn to the romance of Celtic myth, legend, and culture – especially of Ireland – and the call of the Ancient Wise – the Druids.  In reality, they were not perfect.  They were not a bunch of pacifists as some would tell you.  They were arguably not environmentalists.   Yet they came from an animistic people who knew that there was a balance to be kept.  As many modern Celts embrace the need to defend and spiritualize the wilds, so do I.  So, in a roundabout way, that’s why I have embraced Druidism – a modern Druidism with room for the magic, the lone walks in the forests, the books, and the blogs.

* Seillean, if I have your gender wrong, I apologize profusely.  Let me know and I’ll correct it right away.

** I am not a strict Celtic Reconstructionist – hence my membership with ADF.  I prefer a balance, but when the cards are on the table, I will always lean heavily towards CR.

*** I have Cree ancestors, actually…

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