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Posts Tagged ‘Druidism’

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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Wow, August is just speeding by, and summer is slipping through my fingers like sand at the beach I visited a couple days ago.  I’m still participating in the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge,  but as predicted, I’m combining days into sporadic updates. I’ve had a busy few days of visiting family, going to the beach in Alexandria Bay, grocery shopping, and celebrating Lughnasadh with my friends at Muin Mound Grove in Syracuse, NY.  Ah, that was a grand day full of laughter with old friends, offerings, song, fire, and mead.  But anyway…

Day 3: Centering and Breath Work

This is something I strive to do each day.  I’m more successful some days than others. Goodness, there are times when I wake up early for work, feeling like a zombie, and I can barely focus on anything let alone my breath.  Most of the time, however, this is an important part of my daily devotional (which also includes grounding and divination, as discussed in my last blog post). I tend to start each working, whether it’s a formal ritual or a prayer of gratitude, with three deep breaths.  If I’m going to do trance or magic work, I will likely go into a focused meditation.

Some days, when I’m irritated or stressed, it can be helpful to find a quiet place and take deep breaths…

Day 4: Intentions

I’m supposed to reflect on my intentions for completing this challenge.  That’s fair enough, but I want to start with my big intention for August: I will move into a new house without losing my mind!  Most everything is revolving around that, although I’m also the workshop coordinator for the FAE Fest once more.  Doing that while prepping for a move has been extra stressful.  With all that and this challenge in mind, my goals are to stay as calm and level-headed as possible.  Maintaining my Druidic practice, especially breathing, grounding, and shielding will be very important to my overall wellness.  In addition, I want to do some solid magical work this month.  I’ve done some work already, all towards the new home, so that will continue.  I hope it shifts to performing a house saining later this month…

Day 5: Energy Work

Ah… the old “hand rubbing” exercise.  This brings back memories.  I was chatting with a new witch friend on ye olde MSN Messenger.  I was still wet-behind-the-ears, and he suggested I try doing that.  I actually did this with my daughter a couple months ago, but she was too overtired to focus…  I should try again.  It’s fun to just experience energy in various forms.  When I start devotionals lately, I don’t just visualize fire and water – I wave my hand over the flame and put my finger in a bowl of water.  Feeling the energy directly is more meaningful to me, more intimate, and I store that memory for times when I don’t have access to them.  I suppose that’s the key to magic – the ability to summon that energy when needed.  There are plenty of times when I can’t light a candle, but I can go to that inner grove where I see and feel the flame…

Sometimes you have to go back to the basics to get stronger.  I’ll try to add the old hand rubbing exercise to my daily work and see what happens…

Day 6: Shielding

This is a skill that I really started to develop about three years ago.  You see, I had a bit of an altercation with a colleague.  We have very different personalities – she’s very type A and I’m… not, really?  There was also a definite lack of sleep due to us both having babies at home.  Anyway, it sucked.  I didn’t feel that she would purposefully attack me psychically (I don’t see her touching the magical community with a ten foot pole), but negative emotions run wild after emotional encounters like that.  I purposefully started to develop my shielding skills.  I developed my daily “Druid Egg” routine (one day I’ll do a more detailed post on the subject).  Sometimes, when especially stressed or “threatened,” I’ll take a break and renew it.  If I’m at work, the bathroom is a great place to do that.

As a Senior Druid with a grove, and as a teacher, this sort of practice is incredibly important.  If someone is upset with you, they will put off nastiness.  I hesitate to call myself an “empath,” as I don’t think I’m as perceptive as others, but I’m definitely affected by other people.  That can impact my decision making.  Shielding is a way for me to push that extra input aside and focus on what I need, who I am, and what I stand for.  I tell the gunk coming that it cannot get me.  I own my space.

Some days, I’m better at it than others… but when I set my mind to it, those wards are up.  I find that it helps to have a really good working relationship with my spirit allies as well… just in case the shield cracks.

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I decided to walk the hedge near my apartment to see what the plants were up to.  I also hoped to find certain specimens for my herbal stash.  Alas, they were not around.  It’s funny and interesting how they’ll be present one year and not the next.  I won’t be here long enough to figure out their rhythm.  Soon I’ll start to establish a relationship with new land – one that will hopefully last much longer.

As I walked the hedge, I reflected on all I’ve learned from doing just that.  I understand the blackberry’s life cycle thanks to a somewhat hidden patch nobody but me seemed to know about. I learned about jewel weed out of an obsession to identify it.  I refined my ability to distinguish between different trees.  That sort of wisdom comes from the marriage of experience and study.  Some days I walk then hit the field guides and herbal books out of curiosity.    “What was that plant?  I didn’t recognize it.”  Other times I like to look through my books.  I’ll have moments of clarity.  “Oh wow!  I saw that flower once!  Where was it again?  Time to find it.”

Learning the land’s rhythm has been essential to my growth as a Druid.  In addition to increasing my understanding and wisdom, I try to pick up trash along the way.  Today I found some discarded plastic toys – a crushed sand castle mold and an empty bubble container.  Kids.  Sheesh.  Cleaning is usually my offering to the land in exchange for the teachings.

I’m excited to really introduce myself to a new yard, new hedge, and new forest.  I’ll take the lessons I learned here and build on them.

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I was in high school when I started to seriously study and practice any form of Paganism.  I was solitary except for a few experiments with an equally curious friend.  I didn’t meet any other Pagans in person until college.  The introductory books did not prepare me for the diversity in our community.  I remember an elder  looking down his nose at me when I blurted out a socially awkward “Blessed be!” in the local metaphysical store after I heard what he was talking about.  (We later had a very positive relationship.)  I vividly remember the first time I met a self-proclaimed Vampire.  (It was really uncomfortable.)

Although I never experienced witch wars or anything like that, I occasionally butt heads with people in the eclectic group I belonged to in Utica.  I came to realize Wicca did not resonate with me, but many people in the group embraced it or its teachings.  I realized I was a polytheist, a liberal reconstructionist with a blossoming interest (calling?  obsession?) in Irish culture.  I no longer embraced the Law of Three or the Rede.  Fueled by youthful passion, I wanted to remind everyone, whenever I could, that I didn’t always share their perspectives. While I seldom work a curse, studying Irish (and other Indo-European lore) revealed that it was part of those cultures and not demonized in any way.  Indeed, some of the earliest Irish curses are against inhospitable rulers who were not treating their people with dignity.

The moment you admit any of that, the moment you dismiss the Law of Three, the moment you stand in contrast to Wicca (by your ethics, your tools, your methods,  etc), lines form.  I don’t always mean for that to happen, but it’s been part of my learning curve.  It became painfully divisive whenever I shared my concerns of cultural appropriation when we planned eclectic rituals.   It was exhausting, but I loved everyone I worked with.  They were patient with me, encouraged me to share my own interests, and we always strove to be respectful, even when things became heated.  I’m really lucky that my first foray into the Pagan community was like that.  It could have been worse.  I know many people who refuse to celebrate with others because of really bad experiences.

Now that I’m a little older, I hope that I’m a little wiser.  I realize there is strength in our diversity.  It forces us to think and not become mired in tradition.  It’s good to see things from other perspectives.  Although I prefer to work with and learn from fellow Druids, polytheists, and traditional witches, some of the kindest, smartest, and most talented ritualists I know are Wiccan or influenced by those teachings.  While I find the sacred in the forests and rivers, I now understand that many find it in city streets.  I may be a vegetarian, but I know many who very respectfully hunt or lovingly raise animals, then offer some of the flesh.  I may lean towards hard polytheism, but I understand and appreciate that others see all gods as aspects of one spirit.

If you haven’t already, you should read “Undoing the Hard Work of Pagan Pioneers” by Bekah Evie Bel.  (Fair warning – it’s a Patheos blog update.  They always slow my browser.)  The author explores a topic that I and others sometimes think about.  How society sees us, and how we see each other, play a role in the novel I’ve been writing.  More people are talking about “rewilding” our traditions.  Some are calling anew to Aradia.  In our fight for rights and recognition in larger society, many worry that we have declawed ourselves in the process.  Why is it somehow possible for  Western people to accept that cultures in other countries make offerings, revere their ancestors, talk to plants, or dance while their gods ride them?  When it happens in other countries, it’s interesting, entertaining, it’s so  weird you can’t look away, it’s exotic.  When it happens in a Western country, especially in your own backyard, it’s suddenly alarming to many.  (Obviously, indigenous people live here, but the dominant culture tends to treat their traditions as exotic, too.)  Within our own Pagan community, certain practices will draw ire – you may even be ostracized.  Most people regard Paganism as a monoculture.  Heck, many people within our own community still view it that way, leading to culture shock and conflict upon encountering different traditions.

I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this…  just that I’ve been thinking about these topics.  I seem to come back to them every once in awhile as I reflect on my growth.  While there are definitely certain practices that must stay in the past based on laws and evolved perceptions of human decency, I think it’s important that individuals within the Pagan community continue to grow in a spirit of mutual respect.  We don’t have to agree all the time, but recognizing that not everyone will embrace the same practices or traditions is important to our preservation.  It’s important that we continue to learn about each other and come together to celebrate our diversity.  When we can do that, we’re better able to brainstorm and ameliorate issues concerning race, gender identity, cultural appropriation, elder care, and others challenging our growth. It’s part of why I’m involved in my local FAE Fest and enthusiastically attend PPD – to promote education so we learn about each other, celebrate our similarities and differences, and support each other.

I’m thankful to our Neo-Pagan elders and all they did to help us get where we are today, but I’m ready for certain stigmas to go away within our own diverse community.  The greater misconceptions are more likely to vanish from public opinion when we ourselves stop perpetuating the falsehood that we all believe or practice the same way.

 

 

 

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It’s been quite a week, but I’ve been meaning to write a more substantial update here for some time.  I figure I should finish and publish this as I move into another week and a new lunar cycle.  Much of this entry has been hanging out in my draft folder for several days.  Why the delay?  My Grove has been saddened by the loss of a grovemate and friend, so we’ve been coming to terms with that. I will write more on our friend and the transition another day. Northern Rivers Grove will honor him during our Spring Equinox celebration. It’s bound to be one of the hardest rituals I’ve ever lead, but it’s important to mark this passage.  My thoughts have been dwelling on death, rebirth, and how to best support my grovemates.

Today I want to share some of the other work I’ve been doing to deepen my Druidry. I’ve continued my slow progress through Trance-Portation by Paxson.  I’ve forced myself to take time on the initial exercises.  I think it’s important to revisit the basics once in awhile, and I know there’s much I could improve.  Shielding, grounding, centering, and visualizing are foundational, and I think I’ve really strengthened these areas since January.  Sometimes I falter, and emotional upsets crack the shell I wrap myself in each morning, but on a whole, it always makes me feel confident and strong.

My new oak leaf and Herkimer diamond pendant from Stellar Creations.

For the last few weeks, my work within Trance 1 and Magic 2 of ADF’s study programs has heavily revolved around creating talismans. It just happened that way, and it’s helped me jump back into the practice after stumbling in my routines around December. One talisman was for a friend.   The other, a custom-made oak leaf pendant with Herkimer diamond, is for myself. It was lovingly crafted by the local artist of Stellar Creations.  I highly recommend her work, and she put a lot of love and meditation into it.  I could definitely feel the energy upon receiving the pendant.

I had been meaning to consecrate a creativity talisman for some time – ever since I started Trance 1 and Magic 2, actually.  It seemed like the perfect working given my many talents and hobbies.  In addition to sewing and crochet, I recently delved back into creative writing.  Since November, I’ve been working on a novel, something I haven’t done since I was in high school.  It’s still a work in progress, but I’m having so much fun.*  And no, I’m not ready to discuss the plot!

I’m a big believer in mental keys.  The smell of incense relaxes my nerves and tells me that it’s time to meditate or ritualize.  Yoga poses signal my body to relax and heal.  Certain pieces of clothing and jewelry can also help us to access parts of our brain, inner realms, or spirit allies.  Ideally, we can grow beyond the need of such talismans, but they are extremely useful to me as a harried mother who works full-time outside of the home…  Sometimes I feel too mired in the demands of this realm, so these tools help me relax, let go, and, in the case of my oak leaf charm, focus on my creativity.

 

*Someday, I will write about how writing has become a form of trance for me…

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2016 has been a strange one for many of us.  It feels disingenuous to type that, though, when I’ve lead a very comfortable life all year.  Considering the atrocities faced by people in Syria, for example…  Yet 2017, as most years, will also throw some difficulties at us, challenges that can feel insurmountable.  Sometimes they will be, and they will crush us mentally, physically, and spiritually.  More often, though, I think we can take the challenges and ride them with grace, learning the required lessons and, perhaps, teaching others along the way.  2016 saw us lose many heroes and inspirations.  Some of us lost family members or friends to various circumstances.  Many of us saw 2016 as a battering ram of defeat, and the tumult reached me on a personal level right at the very end.

I have not done my annual saining and divinatory reading for the New Year.  I have not yet looked for insight into what is coming, but I am optimistic.  Typical to my Sagittarius sign, I always look on the bright side, even after a painful situation.  To me, every hurt is a lesson.  I realize I’m showing a lot of privilege in saying that given that I’m not in a war zone or scared to use the bathroom at night…  I have gratitude for the blessings I’ve been given and I want to do more to help those in need.  It’s a theme that’s continued to show up in my magical work.  I’m looking forward to growing as a person in 2017.  I’m looking forward to growing in my spirituality and strengthening my grove.  My grove!  We became a grove in 2016.  I must focus on the successes and learn from the failures.  I will continue to work through the Nine Virtues to be the best I can be!

“Turn, Turn, Turn” – performed by the Byrds and written by Pete Seeger – came to mind today.  Despite its biblical origins, I’ve always felt the song is very Pagan.  Life is full of comings and goings, beginnings and endings, as painful as that can be.  Perhaps our paths will cross again one day, but for now, all I can think of is the wheel turning… and the work that I must continue.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late
Wherever you are, whoever you are, I wish you a very blessed 2017.  May we all grow and improve in our paths and in kindness to each other.

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