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Posts Tagged ‘Brighid’

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An offering of locally made whiskey for An Cailleach.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

We had an unseasonably spring-like Imbolc, but An Cailleach isn’t done with us yet!  Northern NY will experience some seriously frigid temperatures tonight into tomorrow, and we’re experiencing lake effect snow today.  Visibility has been pretty poor around my home.  Many local businesses and offices closed or never opened today, and I was fortunate enough to stay home.  Perhaps that colors my judgement today, but I try to stay positive about the winter weather.

Since I’m an animist and a polytheist, I find it really difficult to moan too much about what Nature does. It just feels seriously disrespectful. Sure, I grumble a bit when I have to brush and scrape the car, then drive in potentially hazardous conditions… but if I want to maintain a healthy relationship with Nature and the spirit realm, I need to find the silver lining and give gratitude for blessings known and unknown.  I need to accept Nature’s rhythms to truly learn and grow in my Druidism.

An Cailleach surely blesses us with snow.  Northern climates need this as it will help with the later harvest.  It helps to control populations of parasites and disease carrying critters.  Many seeds require cold to germinate later.  Furthermore, the snow and cold teachers us humility and patience.  In our modern world, so full of conveniences, few things shake humanity out of the illusion of control like difficult weather!  And really, I feel quite blessed to live in a place that experiences an occasional ice storm or blizzard compared to hurricanes or tsunamis.  Man oh man, it must be hard to find the blessings in that! (I’d be curious if readers in other climates and locations have found blessings and would be willing to share.)

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Snow Day Snowman – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

A snowy day is a great day to get in touch with your inner child, too.  Having a little one forces me to reconnect with the whimsy of winter!  Taking the time to catch snowflakes on our tongues, make snow fairies, and build snowmen is still so much fun!  (Although rolling balls for snowmen really makes me feel my age.  Choose the pain you’d like to experience later – knees or back!)

After making offerings to the Nature Spirits and playing in the snow, it’s so nice to come inside, peel off those wet gloves, and enjoy some hot cocoa.  My husband makes a delicious batch from scratch!  As I hold the mug, I feel Brighid’s warmth flowing into me.  I feel gratitude for the lessons and blessings that come with enjoying An Cailleach’s wintry weather and Brighid’s warm, sheltering hearth.

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Look What I Won!

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Doesn’t it haven’t a 
beautiful cover?

I’m so excited to share that I won a free autographed copy of Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess by Courtney Weber. A friend on Twitter brought the author and contest to my attention after I posted about my recent Imbolc reflections and activities.  I decided to enter because why wouldn’t a flame keeper want to get her hands on a book about Brighid?!

Plus, Inciting a Riot described it as such: “Think Eat, Pray, Love meets Mists of Avalon.”  Um…yes please?
I found it waiting for me yesterday and I hope to start reading it tonight.  What a delightful Imbolc blessing!  I’ll be sure to let you know what I think about it when I finish.  If you’re too curious to wait, you can order a copy from Courtney’s website!

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The Brighid doll I made for my protogrove.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Many of us associate Imbolc with milk in part because, as tradition has it, the holiday falls when the sheep in Ireland are lactating.  As a result, a favorite family activity in many Pagan households is making butter, and many of us offer cow, sheep, or goat milk to Brighid.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve found myself reflecting on the milk my body produces.  Brighid has connections to motherhood and midwifery, too, and as someone who already looked to Brighid with gratitude for inspiration and warmth, I naturally embraced this other side of her.  Every year since giving birth to Bee, Imbolc is a special time for me to reflect on my ability to produce nourishment for my little one*.

Meditating on the magic of lactation took a new direction this Imbolc as I readied my Hygeia breast pump for a friend, protogrove mate, and new mama to use!  I was so happy to share this pump.  I bought it in part because it’s one of the few in the market that is meant to be shared; one of the few that is FDA approved to be shared (provided each person using buy replacement flanges and such).  I realized that this same woman watched me openly breastfeed my daughter at every protogrove event.  Part of my ability to do that was the encouragement my previous grove gave me, and their openness in letting me nurse without covering up.  It also came from watching a coven-mate nurse her daughter back from my days in an eclectic circle.  I brought that behavior to my own protogrove, and everyone was very supportive, especially members who had had children before our founding. We worked to normalize the behavior in our group and emphasize that it was natural and beautiful.  The menfolk showed their support, too, and never showed any discomfort.  In fact, I know they would all stand up for me if someone tried to tell me I should cover up.

At our last Imbolc rite, I witnessed my friend breastfeed her little one.  My daughter saw it, as did the other children.  They will grow up knowing it’s normal.  In fact, as you can read in the article I linked below, part of why so many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding is that they’ve never seen it before!  Think about it.  As children, we learn so much through imitation.  Naturally, people are reluctant to try things they’ve never seen, and many are discouraged when first attempts don’t succeed.  This is why creating a positive, nurturing environment for families is so important, and that includes mothers, fathers, doulas, lactation consultants, and midwives.

Breastfeeding has become part of my grove’s culture, and seeing my friend nurse so openly as well made it feel very communal.  I truly feel that each time mothers nurse in front of others, especially women and girls, or each time we stand up for the rights of a mother to nurse, we take on the role of the midwife in some way, birthing a new generation of nurturing people.

For more info on breastfeeding: http://www.mothering.com/articles/natural-breastfeeding/

*Yes, I’m still breastfeeding!  Going for the natural weaning approach because it works for my family.

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Bonfire Under Full Moon

It’s a work night, so we can’t stay up to enjoy the whole lunar eclipse. However, we simply had to take advantage of the excellent viewing conditions to catch the beginning. What a great excuse for family time around a bonfire? Before building the fire, I gave an offering of milk to Brighid, and prayed for a warm, safe fire this night. We stayed out until the moon was half obscured by Earth’s shadow. It’s always so humbling to look up and out. Such events bring us closer, I think.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve shared any of my arts and crafts.  Creativity is a large part of my Druidism, especially as a devotee of Brighid.  Constantly improving my skills, and making items to help my family and friends, gives me a very fulfilled feeling. As I learn old arts, especially, it helps me feel closer to my ancestors.

I recently finished knitting my first pair of socks.  This is a huge achievement for me.  I’ve been working towards this for years.  I started and stopped many times. (Perseverance is a virtue, after all!) Double-pointed needles felt intimidating and complicated, so I tried other options…  Nothing was working for me.  Finally, I found a good youtube video about making simple socks with double-pointed needles.  It wasn’t that bad at all!  Everything, including that evasive heel-turning, suddenly makes sense.  I’m definitely the type of learner who needs demonstrations.

The finished socks aren’t much to look at.  I didn’t use any fancy stitches, and I could improve the toes… They’re bulky, and more accurately called “slipper socks.”  But by gosh, they are socks with cuffs and actual heels! I can’t wait to get smaller needles and finer yarn to make socks I can actually wear with my shoes.

My first pair of knitted socks. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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As part of my devotional, I meditated. I started with a Two Powers, visualizing myself at my inner grove. I felt at peace, and enjoyed feeling the sun on my face. Eventually, images of myself making candles appeared. I’ve been feeling compelled to try that recently.

My mind moved to something that has been bothering me recently – a few days ago my words failed me. It’s like my mind fell into a puddle for a moment, and the wrong words came out. I felt so stupid, especially as this was at a work meeting and I’m supposed to be well spoken in my field. Nobody said anything, but I stressed about it – and continue to. I hate the possibility that others might think I’m stupid, or might question my abilities. Mostly, I hate feeling that eloquence failed me. It’s as if I let Brighid down in some way, as she is a Goddess who favors the bards. I usually pray to her before rituals or public speaking situations, and usually, as my husband puts it, my tongue “drips with honey.” However, situations like this often overshadow any successes I may have experienced. I find myself wishing I didn’t stumble over my words, that I were wittier, that I were more intelligent. I guess I’m having a moment of inadequacy.

During my meditation, as I dwelled on these worries, Brighid appeared to me. She reminded me that I’m still young, that people make mistakes, and that I need to learn from it but move on. She gave me a wooden disk with the ogham luis – rowan – on it. After I finished my meditation and devotional, I delved into information on luis to verify and add to my understanding of it. It’s association with fire and Brighid seem incredibly specific to the situation. I need to work more with that energy, and allow myself to shine as the symbol encourages. There is also the obvious protective element of rowan. Brighid has my back, and perhaps I shouldn’t allow myself to feel so vulnerable due to a little verbal misstep. Those things happen. I need to pick myself up, learn from my mistakes, and allow my inner flame to shine on!

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Small Brighid Doll by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Although I don’t have much time to craft these days, I gleefully signed up for the ADF Artisan Guild Imbolc exchange. The group decided that everyone should make something small, and we decided on the amount of time it should take and the general cost.  I was excited enough to participate and do a little sewing, but was absolutely over the moon when I saw that my partner was my dear friend, R!  She and I got back to my Utica days, when I was first exploring Paganism.  We bonded over an interest in ADF, and she encouraged me to make the drive to Muin Mound in Syracuse.  Life took us to different corners of NY, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, but we still bond over our shared interests and meet up whenever we can.

R indicated that, despite her Norse hearth culture, she has an interest in Brighid.  I decided to make her a small Brighid doll, since the exchange was for Imbolc.  I repurposed a blue wool sweater by felting it, and used a little for Brighid’s body. Folk art inspired me to leave the face blank.  I usually love painting faces on my dolls, but I really think my decision works for this small doll.  It gives her a very solemn look, and the individual regarding the doll will inherently known how they feel she should look.

R’s Fairy Cottage, 2015

In exchange, R surprised me with this adorable fairy cottage made with polymer clay and a repurposed jar.  I love all the whimsical details – right down to the woodgrain on the door! There are even little windows on each side, and Bee loves to peer in.  It has be excited for spring with all the pink flowers!

Funnily enough, we actually were able to meet up a couple weeks after receiving our gifts.  Her girlfriend happened to have a hockey tournament in the area, so we met for lunch.  It felt wonderful to reconnect.  Hoping to do more of that come the warmer weather!

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