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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria Bay NY’

My Summer Solstice celebration started on Saturday. We woke early and headed to Alexandria Bay for Family Day at Boldt Castle. We had to stand in a long line to purchase boat tickets first as the castle is on an island. It was a bright, sunny day… Standing and waiting was exhausting and uncomfortable, but once we boarded the boat, things started to cool down.

We enjoyed our visit but we couldn’t stay very long. I usually take my time to admire the views and architecture of the castle, but we had to run to the Yoga Center for Northern Rivers’ celebration. Still, we had a lovely time in the shade. Bee loved hugging various PBS characters, crafts, and garden activities.

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I did take a moment to admire the new garden with statues depicting the four seasons as maidens.  How very Pagan.  😉  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Riding on the boats and spending time along the St. Lawrence was a perfect beginning to our summer festivities. The cool air in my hair, the motion of the water, flying terns, and several swimming ducks… Although our section of the St. Lawrence is fresh water, it reaches into the Atlantic up in Canada. I felt the spirit of Manannan, and carried that joy with me to the ritual later.

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Mama
 and baby ducks on the St. Lawrence River.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Ritual with the protogrove went well. We had our ritual closer to the Yoga Center’s main building in the shade of several maple trees. Many of us missed the stone circle, but it was such a hot day, especially for our youngest guests. We honored Manannan mac Lir with offerings of song, whiskey, and a wreath (wheel) of yellow flowers to pay our “rent.” For our magical working, we made small paper doors with our goals for the season. We verbalized those goals, putting our intentions out there, and prayed that Manannan will help clear the mist and doors that may block our way. It was a new working for us, but many people expressed approval. Some were quite moved by the experience.

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Our 
altar to Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Last night’s full moon called my little family outside. We followed fireflies and giggled as some crawled on our hands and feet. We pranced in the cool evening air…

Today, the day of the Solstice, I went outside in the morning to greet the sun and harvest some herbs – lemon balm, sage, and mugwort. After work, I took a small side trip to the local river near my home. I walked to the edge and took a deep breath. Calling to the local river spirit and Manannan, I spoke of my gratitude for their many blessings. I dropped three yellow leaves into the river. I found them along the bank and assigned love, gratitude, and reverence to each. I left with a bit of litter in my hands. When dealing with local spirits, I’ve found the best offerings are care and respect. For dinner tonight – a cooling salad so I don’t have to cook in the heat!

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice if you’re south of the equator)! I hope you get outside and truly experience the season.

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This past weekend, I spent a couple days at different beaches along the St. Lawrence River. On Friday, I put my feet in the public beach at Alexandria Bay. On Sunday, I went swimming with friends at Grass Point State Park. It was a fantastic way to spend some of my remaining vacation, especially as it was so hot. Both times, as I stood in the blissfully cool waters and felt the warm sun on my skin, I was reminded of the Two Powers meditation. I remember how I struggled with that once upon a time. Turns out, the more I did it, the better I became at visualization and even sensing the energies flowing through me. Part of my improvement over the years has been through mindfully storing memories.

As I stood in the waters, I did my best to be present at that time, capturing details of the experience for later reference. When the bitter cold winter sets in, I will need memories of summer at the river to help me connect with the cooling waters and warm sun, just as I rely on my winter experiences to supplement my summer meditations on hot, sticky days. As we move into the cooler half of the year, I hope you take some time to reflect on your experiences in places where you connected with the sky and water energies.

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A view of Alexandria Bay and Casino Island. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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My yoga mat on a soft bed of moss.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

My yoga mat on a soft bed of moss. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Today I did something special. Special for me. I gave myself permission to leave my toddler with my husband for a couple hours so I could do some yoga. The Thousand Islands Land Trust teamed up with River Yoga to offer some “Yoga Treks.” Basically, they were monthly outdoor yoga sessions, each taking place in one of TILT’s nature preserves. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend June or July’s offering, but I made sure I got to attend today’s.  It was held at their new Otter Creek Preserve  in Alexandria Bay, NY.  Although still under construction (there’s currently no parking lot and a sign that you will miss if you aren’t looking carefully), it was an amazing place*.  I wasn’t able to see all of it as we only entered a clearing in a forest to do our yoga.  Everyone was wearing yoga shorts and flip flops – not exactly what you’d want to wear on trails that consist of the woody remains of plants poking up to stab your toes.

The clearing reminded me of the Adirondacks.  The soil was dominated by a thick, soft bed of moss that occasionally opened up to reveal stone painted in an earthy mosaic of lichens.  Here and there, baby oak and white pine pushed upwards, promising that this clearing will have more shade someday.  I unrolled my seldom-used yoga mat on some of that delightful moss.  Getting comfortable, I realized I selected a spot next to a mother and chid white oak.

The class was lead by yoga instructor Liz Price-Kellogg.  The moment I saw her, I felt her nurturing energy.  She had a kind, patient voice and an approachability about her.  I knew I needn’t feel self-conscious about my rustiness and inexperience.  This class emphasized the philosophy of yoga, and her focus was on yoga as a moving meditation rather than simply exercise.  She gently lead us through grounding and centering exercises, invited us to listen to our inner messages, to the Earth’s voice.  The experience was so earthy, so animistic, so, well, Pagan feeling that I sometimes thought I was at a Pagan pride event!

As I lay on my back, starring up at the cerulean sky and oak branches brimming with green acorns, I realized how much I needed this.  I spend so much time organizing rituals and leading others.  At home, I meditate on my own, but it’s still my voice, my own inexperienced guidance, so often interrupted by household noises.  To spend this long in meditation, guided by another’s experience and perspective, was liberating, inspirational, and deeply informative.  At times, it was difficult to relax since I have a very busy and talkative mind, but that eventually hushed so that the only obstacles were the sun sometimes shining too brightly on my face, and the ants crawling over my body.  Yoga outside was, as Liz said, a humbling experience.  Laying on the Earth Mother, surrounded by forest and wildlife, was precisely the intimate retreat this Druid needed.  I need to give myself permission for this more often.

Although the yoga treks are done for this year, both TILT and Liz are poised to offer them again.  I definitely plan to take part as often as possible, and am already thinking about when I can fit more regular yoga classes into my life.

* When the trail is completed, there will be a lookout point and a suspension bridge.  It will be amazing and I can’t wait to explore the whole thing!  Expect a “North Country Druid” post when I do!

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