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Posts Tagged ‘ADF’

Truly, the last ten years have been transformation for me, and 2019 was, overall, a grand end.

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The famous entrance stone in front of New Grange. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2011

 

I entered the decade a newly married woman with a new job, new apartment, and new community. I had to start from scratch making friends and learning the land. My Druidry grew, especially in the first five years. Before I had my daughter, I did some intense magical and meditative work. I created and acquired some of my most cherished tools. I had profound experiences with the land and spirits that pushed me onward. My husband and I even traveled to Ireland! It urged me to start a Druid study group and find kindred spirits. This ultimately resulted in Northern Rivers Grove! Connecting with others who wish to commune with the Kindreds and serve the land in a positive, safe environment has been such a blessing and sense of pride. As I continue to read about others who struggle(d) with toxic circles, I count myself lucky and intend to remain vigilant to protect my grove.  Though my official studies within ADF have stagnated since having my daughter, I’ve continued to grow on a personal level to serve my spiritual family by writing liturgies, performing rites, and practicing with divination. I rediscovered the value of simple but powerful folk magic and devotionals, and I placed the academics on the back burner for now.

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A Bealtaine ritual with Northern Rivers Grove, ADF. Photo by Grey Catsidhe

Becoming a mother was the most defining aspect of the 2010s. While it slowed my progress in magic and trance, it taught me patience, endurance, and perseverance I never knew I was capable of. My blog’s focus turned to Pagan parenting for a bit, and I continue to reflect and share on that topic with my readers.

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Airmid (OoaK Fabric Art Doll) sewn by Grey Catsidhe. 2010

I began the decade with a flurry of sewing, and I had the pleasure of vending at small festivals and through Etsy. My husband was always a tireless support, even sitting with me at my stall. Once I had my daughter, my priorities shifted. My sewing slowed, but Brigid woke my love and drive for creative writing. I believe my Druidry nurtured this and gave me a natural outlet at rituals and within ADF as a whole. I shared work with my grove, published material in Oak Leaves, and took part in some #Prayeraday challenges!

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As 2019 comes to a close, I am full of gratitude for my growth as a writer. I attended a conference, joined a writing society, participated in #pitchwars and #pitmad, and even queried a few agents and publishers. Networking has been helpful. I haven’t felt so connected to other writers since college! I’m still tweaking my manuscript after some kind rejections, but I’m very proud of my work. Beta readers are giving me helpful suggestions and positive feedback which is encouraging. I don’t often talk about my geeky side on Ditzy Druid, but I’ve even written some highly reviewed fan fics! Finally, I’m incredibly proud to say I published a short story in the first issue of Stone, Root, and Bone magazine through Hagstone Publishing. 

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I intend to continue improving and achieving as a writer. My greatest focus remains creating stories about contemporary Pagans. 2020 and the coming decade promises more writing, and that includes my blog! I’m honored that you’ve joined me for some of my journey. Thank you.

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A full moon working in summer, 2019.

May the coming decade be full of growth, kindness, good stories, and time outside. Kindreds bless! Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh – Happy New Year!

(Oh my gods, I never even gushed about all my gardening!)

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A lovely little potato and pea harvest from 2016! Photo by Grey Catsidhe

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Identity

I’ve been ruminating on my identify for the last month. Much of it has involved my association with ADF. You can read about what happened on The Social Justice Druid’s Patreon. Many of us in the community are still processing it all.  I know some have decided to leave. Some are stepping back. The whole situation is discouraging and depressing.

And yet, my grove remains a positive place. I recently ran into a man who  visited our grove a couple times in the past. It wasn’t for him, but we move in the same circles. He asked how the group is doing, and I explained that we’re still around; that we’re a small grove, but we get along. Whenever we do our toast and boast, many express gratitude for the group, describing it as a spiritual family. That’s what it feels like to me. We feel safe to be ourselves, and we keep working to make it a safe space for others who may seek us.

So I’ve been experiencing this odd, disconnected feeling. I’ve talked a bit about it with my grovemates – my worry about being associated with the very real issues that ADF needs to work through. However, I’m also really impressed with the positive work some people are doing to make change or  move forward. Missy Ashton recently shared her own reflections, and they really helped me.

It was time for me to renew my ADF membership. Missy posted her thoughts the day it was due, which seemed like a sign to me. I lapsed, mostly because I forgot due to other things happening in my life, but also because I was still processing.

I literally just renewed. I still possess a lot of trepidation about it, but for now, I’m mostly doing it for my grove after talking to them.

The year going forward, I will continue to watch and reflect. Not just about ADF, but about even calling myself a Druid. I keep worrying that I’m doing a disservice to Gaelic speaking communities using that descriptor… So I’m trying to get back into my studies, learning  more about the authentic folk practices of  my ancestors*. I continue studying Gaeilge (Irish) one Duolingo lesson at a time. I just bought Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland to better inform my practice. I’m so excited to dig in!

As we near a new decade, it seems a prudent time to reflect and reevaluate. Yet I do so with hope and optimism. I prepare to step past the threshold between 2019 and 2020 with a grove of spiritual siblings to support me as we continue our journey together to honor the deities, beloved dead, and land.

*I feel it’s important to remind readers that, although I have been inspired to research and embrace the folk practices of my Irish ancestors, DNA is not a prerequisite for this spiritual path. All you need are an earnest respect for, and desire to learn directly from, the living culture.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m working through the Initiate Path of ADF. The Dedicant Path took me three years to complete. The IP is taking much longer. The biggest hurdle for me is finding the quiet time and mental space to complete the work. My career is exhausting. Keeping house is exhausting. My daughter – I love her- is exhausting. When I do have free time, most of it goes to my fiction writing these days. It’s fulfilling, and has given me a different way to connect with my spirituality. I thank Brighid daily for the inspiration she’s blessed me with. Other hobbies are easier for me to do surrounded by the chaos of childhood – belly dance, gardening, watching anime. Reading and responding to academic texts is so, so hard most of the time. I lost count how many times I was interrupted as I tried to write this…

Yet I still aspire toward completing the IP, and eventually I would like to work through the clergy training program. I need goals for when my daughter is less mommy focused, right?

I’ve had to restart my Divination 2 journal several times. Today, I decided to restart it again. The reason is probably one many of you are familiar with. At first, you consistently record entries for a few weeks, then something happens. You’re tired one day, then family visits, then you’re sick… Before you know it, you’re looking at three weeks of no entries, and no recollection. Flubbing it is antithetical to the purpose.  And so, if you’re like me, you grumble and start again because perseverance is a virtue.

But so is wisdom.Wisdom is gained through the triad of learning, experience, and reflection. So I thought about what was and wasn’t working. The most frustrating thing about my having to restart the journal is that I do a daily divination almost every day as part of my devotional! I’m doing the work, but failing to document it! I prefer typing, so my journal has been housed on my computer. I do not turn my computer on when going to work. On weekends, my family gets so busy, that I often fail to think of documenting my divination!

I recently bought a set of two little Moleskine journals. I’ve carried one in my purse for over a year, filling it with random inspiration, thoughts, and dreams. It was nearing time to replace it, but the set came with two. What to do with the other? Today I realized the second would be my divination journal. I’ve even placed it on my altar so I see and remember to record. Even if I quickly jot down the ogham I draw, I can come back to it later in the day to ruminate further. Let’s hope this is the time I actually keep my journal for five months.

 

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Ah, that crazy time leading up to a ritual.  As Senior Druid of Northern Rivers Grove, organizing the celebrations is often my responsibility.  I embrace it, though it is quite an offering of time and energy.  There was recently a conversation on one of the ADF groups about how ritual leaders feel following ceremonies.  Many describe feeling drained, and that is usually how I feel.  Even when things go well, I need to spend a lot of time in my pjs the next day.

Preparation is hard work, especially because our rituals aren’t held on grove property.  We have to carry our tools, food, cutlery, workshop materials, and membership information to a building that often serves another purpose.  They do not have room to house our materials, nor should they.  Many tools need cleaning, physically or spiritually, after our gatherings, after all.  Liturgies need to be written, and chant sheets prepared. Group offerings and magical materials packed. I need to check on all the celebrants prior to our ritual.

I’m trying to delegate more, but I’ve always been a bit of a control freak.  I like things done a certain way, and I’m learning to let go a bit.  It’s important to do that as I won’t be the Senior Druid forever, and the grove belongs to all its members.  Still, I forget about little jobs that I could hand out.  Things like greeting guests and explaining things often fall to me by default.  Sometimes it seems people need permission to handle some tasks because they’re used to me handling them.  I’ve read other groves assign the role of host/hostess to someone not in charge of ritual, and I think that’s brilliant!  This time, another member is taking charge of the workshop, while another is handling the kid activity.  Wooo!  I can breathe a bit.

Anyway, in the spirit of making sure everything is ready, here’s a prayer I wrote today.  I’m participating in the #prayeraday challenge that many ADFers are contributing to.  I hope you enjoy my Pre-Ritual Prayer!

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Pre-Ritual Prayer

I pray our liturgy complete,
The tools lovingly packed.
I pray the meal is cooked to eat,
The plates carefully stacked.

I pray the chants we chose today
Inspire and uplift.
I pray my offerings in tow.
Kindreds, accept my gift!

I pray our guests are kind of heart-
Find solace in our light.
I pray we all arrive on time,
Then reach home safe at night.

By Grey Catsidhe

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It’s interesting to look back to last summer. At this time, we were preparing to make an offer on our home. We were heading into new territory and some of the worst stress I remember experiencing. It was a lesson on patience and austerity, that’s for sure, but it was worth it. Here we are, a year later, transforming our yard into beautiful gardens, shrines, and pollinator habitats. (And a few play areas for the little one!) Last summer was all boxes and uncertainty. This summer, as I stand on my porch to gaze at the small batch of abundance I’ve been cultivating, I feel a sense of peace. I feel that I’m  rediscovering my niche after a long period of stress and flailing.

My nasturtiums are very happy in their herb spiral garden home.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

Having the freedom to garden as I desire has been wonderful. Even when I returned home from work riddled with stress and fatigue, a little time in the garden always restored my connection to the Kindred and my own sense of self. Working to form a lasting relationship with this new land has been rejuvenating. It’s reawakened my love of herbalism, and I’m throwing myself back into my casual studies with gusto!  Just a couple months ago, it seemed summer was a distant dream.

I inherited my late grandfather’s map of Ireland and related books.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

I’m looking forward to furthering my Druid studies this summer. When I visited my family in the Utica area, these heirlooms from my late grandfather seemed to further point me toward that. He worked tirelessly on my family’s genealogy, something I didn’t appreciate until I was older and started to honor my ancestors. My sister told me she felt my taking these would make him happy, and as I walked around the hallow home where he lived and died, I spoke to him of my intentions, and I got a strong sense of approval.

In addition to the map and books, I also picked up some old artwork for my home, and was given permission to transplant some plants in my garden. I brought some of my grandmother’s lily of the valley for the shade garden, and some comfrey for my herb garden. The lilies seem to be taking well. The comfrey looks a tad wilted with the stress of the move. I’ve not lost hope, though. I’ve read they are quite prolific, and even a little section of root can grow. This particular plant is one of the first that my grandmother, an herbal enthusiast herself, taught me about, so if I can establish a patch from her own garden, it would be very meaningful to me.

Burning grove offerings in my backyard fire pit.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

Speaking of Druid studies, my grove is growing strong! My friend and grovie, Cassandra, lead our Summer Solstice ritual. We honored Manannan, and asked him to help us as we reestablished our open doors to communities who need safe places, such as the LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities. It was a moving ceremony, but also one with much joy and laughter. Some of our members identify as part of the former community, including one of our elders who proudly told us about some of the first Gay Pride marches he attended.

It was a rainy day, so we held the ritual indoors. I brought many offerings meant for the fire to my home, and I made sure they got to their intended destination last night under the light of a waxing moon. I poured a libation to Brighd to help me with the work – the work of a Senior Druid. Hearing the way Northern Rivers Grove has positively impacted people gives me so much hope. I’m working to improve my practice so that I can serve my community.

As I reflect on where I was at this time last year, I feel excited for the relative peace this summer promises.  I will continue to work with my new plant allies and the land spirits.  I will throw myself further into my Initiate Studies with ADF.  Right now, I’m working on Trance 1 and Divination 2, but I know I will have to augment some of the previously completed courses as the whole study program is undergoing change.  It’s all good, though.  It will all help me become a better Druid and a better person in general!

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Persevering

My spiritual community was recently rocked with news on allegations of sexual misconduct by our late founder, Isaac Bonewits.  While the initial accusations occurred before ADF was founded, others have come forth with more experiences.  Like others in ADF, I’ve felt a mixed bag of emotions.  Mostly, disappointment, sadness for the victims, confusion, listlessness, and even anger.

Despite it all, I continued to drag myself to my altar in the mornings to perform my daily devotionals.  The first time was difficult.  I hesitated as I called to the ancestors.  I had to consider my words carefully.

I never met Bonewits, but his ideas have had a major influence on my life.  One of my dear friends lent me his classic Essential Guide to Druidism.  I eagerly read about, then joined, ADF.  It clicked with me, and the community was already widespread and active compared to the still small and fragmented Celtic Recon community that also interests me.  As I worked my way through study programs, I found myself learning more from his other works, especially NeoPagan Rites.  He inspired me.

I remembered hearing a story about Bonewits bringing a bag full of condoms to a festival, but I didn’t really think much of it at the time.  It made me chuckle.  It reveals my naivety about sexual relations in the past.  I’ve been lucky that my sexual experiences have all been consensual.  Back then, my idea of rape was that it was always forced, either through violence or the imposition of mind altering substances.  My mother taught me to fight – kick, bite, scratch, and do anything necessary to get away.  Reading about other peoples’ experiences would later teach me that it wasn’t always violent.  It could simply involve fear, an imbalance in power, coercion, etc.  I hadn’t thought of the condom story for years, but I recalled it with each new allegation, and it was no longer amusing.

Like many in my community, I’m still processing everything.  I’ve read reactions from people who have been friends with Bonewits, victims of sexual harassment and abuse, people who worry about due process, and people who work with convicted sex offenders.   We are experiencing something that the rest of my country is also grappling with.  Change is afoot, and transformation is often messy.  Mistakes will be made, but hopefully, lessons will be learned.  My hope is that ADF, like the rest of the country, can move towards something better for the next generation.

I want to help make the world a better place for my own child.  I’m pleased with the Mother Grove’s responses to this, and the work they’re doing to strengthen our sexual misconduct policy with training on creating a culture of consent.  As a senior druid, I look forward to future training and bringing it back to my own grove.

As others have said, I believe that ADF is more than Bonewits.  We cannot ignore or hide our past, but our roots go even deeper than our founder.  The ideas that he organized were inspired by older teachings.   He stood on the shoulders of others, just as we all do.  We each contribute but none of us represents the whole picture.  And beyond it all, the gods and goddesses themselves stir the cauldron of wisdom and ignite the flames of inspiration.  We have more to draw on than the work of one man.    My brothers, sisters, and teachers at Muin Mound Grove shared their hospitality with me for years, helping me grow on the path.  My dear friend in Ithaca who is now starting her own grove continues to grow with me.  All the fellow Dedicants I’ve worked with as a reviewer have shared their own perspectives with me.  The priests, priestesses, initiates, solitaries, bards, artisans, warriors, flamekeepers, and many, many others who have played a part in my own spiritual journey.  And, of course, my own grovemates who are a spiritual family to me.  I’m so proud of the work we have done to grow, not only in developing our liturgical style and traditions, but in creating a safe, family-friendly atmosphere.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s been more rewarding than not.  I intend to keep up the work, not for the sake of our flawed founder, but for the sake of my community, and the spirits who called me to do the work, to persevere.

May Brighid wrap her healing mantle around the victims.  

May she bless us with the warmth of compassion.

May Lugh bring justice as it is deserved.

May he teach us the skills we need to improve and build.

May Morrighan wake our inner warriors with her mighty call.

May she grant us the courage to continue the hard work ahead.

– Grey Catsidhe, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

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Sigil of the Cosmos wall hanging.

I’ve been reviewing Dedicant Path submissions for several years now. Since I already feel stretched thin with life’s demands and acting as a Senior Druid for my grove, doing this feels like a good way to give back to my religious community.  While I had a couple frustrating ordeals, the overall experience has been positive.  I learn something from each submission, even if it’s only gaining new perspective on familiar topics.  Viewing photos of peoples’ home shrines always inspires me.

Today I got a thank you letter and handmade gift from the author of the last DP I reviewed.  It meant so much to know that my feedback was helpful.  I’m going to treasure the letter and wall hanging.  I have so much gratitude to be part of this community.

 

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