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Posts Tagged ‘daily devotionals’

Oh my goodness.  Where has the time gone?  For those curious, I’m all moved into my new home!  Huzzah!  It was a stressful process that disrupted my spiritual practice, but sacrifice is necessary for change.  I’m starting to get back into things, though.  With that, I want to tie up loose ends and finish the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge.  I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I still have boxes to unpack!  My focus will be how I’ve kept up (or struggled) with the following topics through the move.

Day 16: Connect with Mother Earth

Sometimes, I just took a moment to stand or sit outside, admiring my new yard.  Sometimes that’s all you need.

Day 17: Raise some energy

After I got my keys, the first thing I did was do a saining to purify and bless my home, and make peace with the spirits within and without.  I think I raised a decent amount of energy doing that, all things considered…

Day 18: Elemental magic

While I acknowledge the importance of the four elements in many traditions, I typically work with the Three Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky, as well as the Triple Hallows of Fire, Well, and Tree.  I often see them as corresponding with each other.  Today, I briefly meditated on them as I began putting my daily practice back together.

Day 19: Sacred Space/Circle Casting

I recreate the cosmos as is traditional in ADF Druid rites.  This is largely based on what we know about Indo-European ritual.  I haven’t done much of this lately…  But I did move in a circle when I sained my home.  Circles are sacred.  I like circles.

Day 20: Ethics

I should really reflect on the Nine Virtues and how they relate to moving…  This could be a future blog post.

Day 21: Symbols

Fire, water, trees, and spirals.  I’ve been especially connected to trees lately.  Connecting to them has been easiest for me at the moment.  Fire, and its connection to the heart and home, has also been significant to me.

Day 22: Self-Purification

Ahhh… that first shower after moving was certainly purifying.

Day 23: Book of Shadows/Grimoire

As I packed and unpacked, I rediscovered my first grimoire.  My first boyfriend gave me the journal for my birthday, and I filled that book with what I studied and my own illustrations.  It’s a beautiful piece that I treasure.  I haven’t updated my current grimoire.  I really should…

Day 24: Sabbats

I’ve been talking with my grove about making this the next workshop topic, specifically what our local wheel of the year is like.

Day 25: Esbats

For the last month, I’ve simply been going outside to observe and say some words.  I took note of my surroundings, trying to capture the view to memory.

Day 26: Create a sigil

Have not done this yet.  Thinking about making something to represent protection for my home…  I imagine something I could trace on my door when I leave.

Day 27: Healing

I’ve been all about self-care lately as we recover…  Tea, warm showers, chocolate…

Day 28: Magical Podcasts

I don’t listen to many, lately.  I don’t have a lot of time to devote to them.  I did listen to a lot of music while cleaning and painting, though…  My daughter and I like to dance and sing.  I don’t think she’d have patience for a podcast at this age.

Day 29: Astrology

My sun sign is Sagittarius.  I was instructed to look into my moon sign which is Aquarius.  Much to ponder…

Day 30: Make a commitment to yourself

Now that the pile of boxes is on the decline, my family and I are starting to settle.  As I returned to work and thus my routine this morning, I decided to revive my daily devotional.  I have not erected an altar yet because everything is in such a state of flux.  I’m working on a cabinet to serve such a role.  In the meantime, I simply stepped outside and poured an offering of my tea and bird seed.  I said prayers and took an omen for the day.  It felt right to start my day that way once more.
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Time for another edition of the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge!  I’m trying not to go out of my mind while I wait for details on the closing.  I’ve always heard that moving is one of the most stressful ordeals, and I believe it because it’s been that way in the past.  But buying a house on top of moving takes the cake.

Day 7 – Yoga Pose

I enjoy many yoga poses.  Tree pose feels very Druidic, and it’s a great way to impress kids, but my absolute favorite is child’s pose.  It is my go-to for grounding, so I’ve already touched on this a bit.  When sending energy back into the Earth after a devotional or spellwork, it feels essential for me to get right down and rest on the Mother.  I haven’t taken an actual yoga class in months, but my favorite moments are entering this post and sitting there for several minutes.  I swear, if I could stop time, I would just to stay a bit longer…

Day 8 – Meditation

No matter how many guided meditations I experience, I always go back to the Two-Powers / Tree Meditations, and simply visiting my inner grove.  They are basic, foundational meditations, but they are essential to my practice.  I can always tailor them to my needs – whether it’s solo or group work, seasonal, energy work, or moving into a trance.  They are good places to start, and a safe base camp for trance.  If I’m away from my altar, I always have my inner grove.  Everything I need is there, really.

Day 9 – Daily Practices

Much of what I’ve already written about for this challenge encompasses my daily practice.  Unless I’m ill or something has disrupted my routine, I start each day in a similar way.  My devotional consists of sitting before my altar, lighting a candle, and filling a bowl with water.  I wave my hand over the flame and touch the water.  I also touch my wand or another representation of the tree.  I’ll usually do a Two Powers meditation which then moves into shielding through the Druid Egg.  I make offerings to the Three Kindred, and say prayers of gratitude.  I may ask for help in some way.
I will then say a divination prayer before shuffling and pulling my daily card from the Druid Animal Oracle deck.  I will briefly reflect on this, give thanks, and ground.

Day 10 – Herb/Plant/Tree

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Mugwort smudge wand – Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I feel very blessed to have mugwort growing in my garden.  I know many other witches and Druids who would love some (although they all seem to have stashes of nettle or comfrey).  Someone saw fit to introduce me to mugwort, so I am working with her.  I want to get to know her better, and this is the time for it.  She’s grown quite tall, but she has not produced flowers yet.  Once she does, I will harvest some of her for later workings.  I made smudge wands last year, and will likely make more.  According to Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, mugwort is traditionally used on the Isle of Man for purification.  On the practical side, many small, annoying flies dislike it.  I also want to experiment with mugwort tea for dream and trancework.

Day 11 – Write a Spell

I came up with this earlier after my daughter jammed her fingers in her dresser door.  I took her fingers between my hands, visualizing healing powers flowing into her.  Then I chanted, “Booboos be gone.  Ouchies too.  You will feel better the whole day through.”  Short and sweet, but it instantly cheered her up after experiencing one of life’s lesser pains.  Always useful with wee ones.

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Elderberry syrup in progress. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

As I write this, the year’s first real snowfall is blanketing the land. It’s a time of rest and introspection. Spiritually, it’s a new year. As with our secular New Year, it’s custom to reflect on various aspects of our lives, how we’ve changed, and where we’re going. Recently, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my path and why I blog about it. Some of this came about through discussions with Lady Althea via Twitter, specifically about how motherhood has changed our paths, and how our spirituality should be more about doing than keeping up with appearances. Some of my thoughts came through an interview I did with my friend Corinne for her upcoming podcast – Who’s Your Mama? The focus of the podcast is on mothers and how they find a balance between their mamahood and various life passions. Corinne is interviewing friends from around the country first to get into the groove, as it were, and thought my story about finding time to further my Druidic pursuits and found a protogrove, all while raising a little one, was inspiring. I felt that I rambled a bit, but she said it was great! I’ll be sure that share that when it comes out in January.

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My little one joins me at my altar for a daily devotional. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

My religious practices haven’t changed much in the last year, but the way I engage with them has.  The same time restricting forces that limit my blogging also limit the amount of time I have for involved ritual, magic, meditation, and trance. I’ve had to get creative in how I engage with my spirituality, and that’s only deepened my understanding of something I already knew to be true – magic and ritual is in everything. When we approach our daily tasks mindfully, aware of the interconnections, we are engaged with our spirit allies.  I’ve also worked on my self-discipline.  While accepting my limitations in time and energy at this point in time, I’ve managed to strike a balance.  My trance studies are on hold for the time being, but I’ve worked hard to maintain the devotional practices I revitalized through ADF’s liturgical study program.  I’m also working on my divination journal, focusing more on the practical work until I have a little extra time for the academic side of my Druidism.  As a result, my understanding of the Druid Animal Oracle and ogham is improving.

One area that I’ve improved on in the past year is my hearth or kitchen magic.  I’m working on incorporating more holistic approaches to cleaning and health; and I’ve continued to make mostly home-cooked meals, often utilizing local ingredients.  This has helped me grow in my herbal knowledge and connection to the land.  Sharing these processes with my youngster, and showing her how to put love and intention into all we do, only strengthens my own focus.

Including a toddler in seasonal and daily religious observances can be tricky, especially when they involve fire, but, in retrospect, I’m amazed at what I’ve been able to share with her. Bee is learning how to calm and focus her breathing.  With my assistance, she uses a candle snuffer to assist in our symbolic smooring rite each evening.  I explain to her what is a good task for her, and what is definitely a grownup job. She can snuff, but she cannot light the candle.  These realities may be upsetting to her at first, but with repetition, she accepts them. This is teaching her respect for fire, that she has skills to grow into, and that there are times for quiet and action in ritual.  Best of all, she’s learned to say “thank you” for abundance, inspiration, and beauty.  It warms my heart when she reminds me that it’s time to do our “Brighid prayer” or when she randomly thanks the Earth Mother on our short walks outside.

So while I sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough, or sharing enough – in reality, I have a lot to celebrate about the last year!  I hope you take some time to reflect on your own practice and growth over the year.

 

 

 

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I am very nearly finished with one of the advanced ADF study programs – Liturgy Practicum 1.  I lost track of time, and when I saw that I had journaled for over the required four months, I was surprised to see that it’s time to submit!  What once seemed daunting is now nearly over!

Liturgy practicum 1 has been incredibly useful to me in my Druidic studies.  It helped me rediscover my spiritual discipline after a long lapse due to grad school stress, pregnancy, and then getting used to being a mother.  Tackling the work forced me to evaluate my routines and priorities, and to make changes so that I could be more attentive to my spiritual needs.  At first, finding or making time for the work was a challenge, but then it became second nature.  Just as combing my hair makes me feel better before I leave my home, saying prayers of gratitude before my altar each morning helped me mentally prepare for the day.  It has became such a positive part of my life, and it really helped to strengthen me during some difficult times.

Supportive family helped with my success.  My husband understands that I want to do my smooring rite each night, for example, and he never complains when I linger downstairs to tidy the stove and say my prayers to Brighid while he gets our daughter changed and ready for bed.  It is the same on weekends.  When I tell him that I would like quiet time before my altar or out in the forest, he takes charge of holding or entertaining our tot while I recharge and do my thing.  Of course, there were many times when I saved my weekly full ritual for Saturday nights after my daughter fell asleep.

I intend to continue my work, not only because it will help carry me through other practical courses in the ISP, GSP and, eventually, clergy training, but I feel that it’s made me a stronger ritual leader, and it has deepend my connection to the Kindreds.  There is definitely room for improvement, though.  I’m constantly reflecting on and revising the prayers I write, for example.  I would love to continue my studies of Irish folk magic and include more traditional prayers – perhaps even learn them in Gaelic! Speaking of Irish, I’ve at least learned an English translation of a smooring prayer, and I’ve committed a couple short, useful Irish phrases to heart to utilize in my rites.  They are small steps but help me feel connected to my hearth culture and Ancestors.

I would also like to strengthen my bonds with specific spirit allies.  Although I say prayers of gratitute to all Kindreds in the morning, other prayers and routines throughout the day are focused on my relationship to Brighid specifically, the Earth Mother, or the Nature Spirits.  I recently noticed that I wasn’t paying enough attention to the Ancestors.  I started to include them in my prayers for safe travels and to protect the home, but I would like to develope a weekly ritual, perhaps, in which I stand before their shrine and make special offerings to them.  I have done that during the course of Liturgy Practicum 1, but not with any regularity.  That needs to change.  Some ADFers have described a daily or weekly ritual in which they drink tea or coffee at or near their ancestral shrine.  That really inspires me and appeals to my love of tea!

This course has given me the confidence to know that I still have the capacity to maintain a religious routine as a mother.  What’s more – it’s taught me that I can include my daughter in my practices!  Some of my favorite prayers or spiritual routines involve my daughter.  My child-friendly nighttime prayer was written with her in mind.  We say it every night.  While she doesn’t know all the words yet, she often initiates it by pointing to my altar or saying “tree.”  We always blow a kiss to the Kindreds when we finish, and it really makes me feel all fuzzy inside when she does it with enthusiasm.  It’s part of my spiritual routine, but it’s also part of her bedtime ritual.  It helps her feel safe and know that it’s time to rest.

If you’re considering the advanced study programs in ADF but aren’t sure if you can tackle this time commitment, I challenge you to try.  It may be hard at first, and it may force you to change your routines – maybe even wake up earlier in the morning- but I promise it is worth it.  Your connection to your spirituality will be deepened in a profound way, and you’ll truly feel that you are living your Druidism each and every day.

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When life gets busy, I tend to feel that my spirituality comes out of focus. Socializing, driving from place to place, and my day job all distract me from my studies. Being a mother and keeping my home is exhausting. So often, I find myself snuggled in a bathrobe, on the couch, watching something on Netflix.  When I log on to the internet, I see others in my tradition discussing the various ADF study programs that they’re working through, and I think of how long it’s taking me…  I’m about ready to give up on trance and magic for now.  I just can’t seem to adhere to a routine with my fussy toddler teething so frequently.  It can be really discouraging…

When I went into the forest to do my devotional on Sunday, I found myself dwelling on everything I wasn’t doing enough of: practicing meditation or trance, magical work, studying Irish, studying herbalism…  My ritual itself felt a little melancholy.  It was such a chilly, overcast day. All the lovely autumn colors from the last couple weeks had blown away. Ravens chuckled in the distance, reminding me at once of An Morrigan and her connection to death.  The veil is thin, Samhain is coming, and the natural world both dies and prepares for slumber.

Once inside, I gradually began to realize all the ways that I am living and growing spiritually.  I am doing my best to maintain a positive relationship with the Kindreds by giving offerings and saying prayers of gratitude.  I practice simple, practical forms of magic – folk magic, kitchen magic, basic shielding and grounding.  I may not be actively studying Irish each day, but I’m learning when I can.  I may not be reading as much as I used to, but I’m fitting that in when I can as well.  I’ve started to journal each Sunday afternoon, and my liturgy journal shows growth and reflection.  Most importantly, I’m sharing the joy of life’s most basic magic with my daughter.  We sing and dance to music, delight in simple stories, and enjoy expressing our creativity with art.  We explore nature together, and her complete awe in everything has awakened something deep inside me.  Lately, a majority of the books I read are my child’s.  We read them together – fiction and non-fiction, verse and prose.   She hears my prayers and sees me make offerings.

My Druidism is growing as fast as an oak, which is okay.  The experience of tending to my little acorn is just part of my journey.  It is teaching me to be patient and nurturing, and to reconnect to the world’s most primal and joyful magic.

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The altar I set up in my new home. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

At my baby shower, one piece of advice that was repeated again and again was, “rest when the baby is resting.”  It’s easier said than done in part because I’ve always been a very productive, project-oriented person.  I’ve had to embrace raising my baby as the most important project in my life at this time, and I certainly try to rest when I can.  Often this means lounging on the couch to catch up on reading or watching things with my husband.

Lately, that also means fitting in rituals or mini devotionals when baby is sleeping.

A couple weeks ago, after her umbilical chord fell off, I did a rite in which I formally introduced Baby Bee to my home altar*.  She was awake at the time, but winding down.  I sprinkled sacred water on her forehead and blessed her in the name of land, sea, and sky.  She seemed to enjoy my soft chanting, prayers, and the jingle of my bell wand.

It was a good time of day for ritual.  My husband was at work and she clearly enjoys napping then.  I decided to set aside a few minutes in the early afternoons for devotionals.  My devotionals are always fairly short.  What would make them long would be more emphasis on meditation.  I never utilize ADF’s liturgy unless I’m doing a public ADF rite or a more formal working at home (which tend to take on a more serious tone – requests for something or more “heavy” works of magic).  A lot of what I do at home on a day-to-day basis is pretty relaxed anyway.

The point is, I used to do my devotionals in the evening.  That’s become difficult now that I’m on baby’s schedule.  Nighttimes are full of me trying to get as much sleep as possible between baby’s frequent evening feedings and her desire for cuddles.  Until she gets a little older and ready for more order, I’m on baby’s schedule.  There’s no way around that.  And even when I introduce a new schedule into her life, it will be for her benefit and my wants will have to be scheduled around that.  Thankfully, baby wearing seems to help so I’m sure I’ll do more of that as she grows ever more wakeful during the daylight.  We’ll see what happens to my devotionals when work starts up again but, for now, I think I’ve found a way to once more make them a part of my daily life!

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When we decided to try having a baby, my husband and I were well aware of the fact that doing so would mean putting some of ourselves aside (at least for a little while).  We must re-prioritize how we spend our excess money and time.  Traveling will be a little difficult for a few years.  Spontaneous nights out at the movies will stop until the little one is old enough to come along (here’s hoping there are some good children’s movies in the making!).  I’d like to think I’ll still be able to do the crafting I like, but even now my energy levels aren’t what they usually were. Any sewing or fiber work I’ve done has been for the baby or my future niece (although I did take time to make my friend Corinne a pair of owl earrings).  I don’t see that changing any time soon.  My desire to vend has vanished for the time being. I’m planning to “close” my certificate of authority allowing me to sell at craft fairs.  I will probably make more pieces to put in the ADF store or other local shops in the area, but I’m no longer taking consignments.  Any free time I have to craft, I intend to spend it expressing myself just how I want, making things for the protogrove, or for my baby.

A fellow blogger, Octopusdance, wrote about “Pagan Monasticism” the other day and it got me thinking.  I remember a younger me wishing I could just go away from the rest of society and focus intently on my spiritual path.  I would spend my time in a self-sufficient community of like-minded individuals.  We would grow and prepare our own food, tend a garden sanctuary to the Nature Spirits, make our own tools, teach each other our specialties, commune with the Spirit World, meditate, and study.  And of course, nights would be spent around the fire telling stories, singing songs, and drinking our own homemade meads, ales, and wines.

What a dream, right?  Now, initially I was thinking of such places as child and spouse-free because, let’s face it, family creates distraction.   Monastic life couldn’t be for me, at least not in this life.

Then something dawned on me.  I was thinking of a deeply spiritual life through the lens of Christianity and Buddhism.  I suddenly recalled reading about the ancient Druids’ ability to marry and have children (Ellis, 82).  Indeed, Irish stories are full of Druids having liaisons and children, and the Gods themselves were constantly trysting and marrying.  Why would the Druids limit themselves if they didn’t want to?  Now, of course, we know the ancient Druids held a high place in society.  Fosterage was probably a common practice among them just as it was with other high ranking families.  There’s evidence that Medieval Irish children were given to foster parents around the age of seven (Bitel, 86).  Did this practice exist among the ancient Druids?  If it did, seven year olds are far more independent than infants.  If a female Druid had a baby, did she take a break?  Were her duties lessened?  Did the community help her?  We may never know.

And yet, perhaps we modern Druids can continue to be (or at least try to be) deeply spiritual while acting as parents.  It’s not monastic life, but then again, we modern Druids have embraced an idea of reveling in all of life’s blessings (within moderation) rather than denying them to ourselves.  Parenthood is just another joy to be experienced, another lesson to be learned, and another way of experiencing the Kindreds.

So, no, I don’t see myself sacrificing my spiritual life.

Northern Rivers Protogrove remains a priority to me.  It doesn’t rank as high as the baby, of course, but I set this whole thing in motion last year with the study group and I don’t intend to see it fall on its face.  Thankfully, everyone involved is also very dedicated and very supportive of my pregnancy.  My protogrove sisters are excited to help plan a Mother Blessing ceremony for me, and I am hoping to having a baby saining ritual later in the year.  I have confidence in them that if I ever need to be absent from a rite, they will perform beautifully!  I’ve even had offers from nearby ADFers to come and help with a summer High Day should I not feel up to it as I approach delivery.  Even after the baby is born, we plan our rites ahead of time.  I’m sure a family member will be able to babysit for a few hours while we celebrate.  Bringing baby to workshops, study sessions, and business meetings won’t deter me.  I’m hoping to carry baby close, and my husband can easily take a fussy babe away for a moment if needed. Thank goodness for Weretoad!  Thus I intend to remain a facilitator and “priestess type figure” for my little community.  I do not, however, intend to become clergy anytime soon.  I will continue to work on my Initiate Study Program to better serve my community and deepen my spiritual practices, but the clergy training program, and the demands of clergy responsibility, are a bit beyond me right now.  Those are goals for later in life.

But what about my personal practices?  I guess I won’t really know until the baby arrives.  I’ve read and heard that the first few weeks are the hardest.  My world will revolve around the baby and recovering.  I imagine any energy I have left could go towards a prayer before my altar or a lit candle on Brighid’s shrine.  Seems appropriate.  After that, I may just set aside some time each week, like a Saturday morning, for meditation and ritual.  I am hopeful that I can continue my daily devotionals.  Things may be a bit touch and go for the first year or so, but I imagine it will settle out eventually and I’ll be able to have a routine again.  It will be a new routine, but it will exist.

My life as I knew it is going to change – already is changing – and some things must be sacrificed for the new life I’m bringing into the world – at least for a little while.  Yet I don’t intend for my spirituality to be one of them.  If anything, I can see the baby strengthening my Druidism.

I guess only time will tell!

Bitel, Lisa M.  Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland.  Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY.  1998.

Ellis, Peter B.  A Brief History of the Druids.  Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York, NY.  2002.

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