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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Grateful for Warmth and Light

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Candlelight – photo by M. A. Phillips – 2020

The power came back on a few minutes ago. It’s been out since ten in the morning. Where we live, electricity is pretty cheap, so that’s how we heat our home. Unfortunately, we’re at a disadvantage when the power goes out in the winter.

It didn’t really bother us until a few hours in. Then the house grew noticeably colder. We dressed in multiple layers, found our flashlights, and lit candles. The cats lounged with us under blankets on the couch. It was quite cozy, but I worried about the pipes and everyone’s comfort during bedtime.

There are things I’d like to do to better prepare for such instances. My long term goal is to add an extension to the house and include a wood stove in the plans. Not only is it a reliable, safe source of warmth in these emergencies, it would have allowed us to cook.

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Cheerful winter offerings. Photo by M. A. Phillips – 2020

Brigid and the Winter Crone were in my thoughts today. I made offerings and prayed for warmth, to give thanks for what we have, and for safety. Losing the power during a blizzard for most of the day is an inconvenience for us, but nothing serious. None of us rely on any equipment for our health. We had shelter from the storm. We had plenty to eat, and my husband picked up some warm dinner on his way from work. We had our phones and a robust data plan, but I did stop using mine after a while just in case. We’re remarkably blessed.

Had it gone on more than a day, things could have been bad, especially for the pipes. I’m grateful to Brigid for warmth and light, to An Cailleach for wintry lessons of humility, and to all the people out there working to restore power.

Sometimes it takes annoyances to put everything into perspective.

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Dawn on December 22nd, 2019. Photo by Grey Catsidhe. 

Today my family welcomed the reborn sun following the longest night. It’s always a joyous occasion. We rose before the sun, drummed, and cheered for its ascension. Then I made waffles because they’re golden and round!

We would have celebrated with our grove last night, but many of us are ill so we decided to cancel. I’m always sad to do that, but I must admit I wasn’t as disappointed this time. Perhaps it’s because, compared to other occasions when the weather kept us apart, feeling more or less sick for a month has nearly worn me to hermit-like mentality.

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Candles and offerings for Winter Solstice. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2019.

And so, like animals hibernating, I felt a desire to turn inward and embrace the darkness yesterday. It brings the space for introspection. It is the silence I crave to dream up stories. It is the peace of not rushing anywhere to do anything. I needed it. I think many of us did.  My family and I did a tiny ritual together last night – one with minimal stress on our tired throats and lungs.

Today I feel a sense of renewal and hope. I look forward to more time with my grovemates in the coming year. I embrace where my Druidry is taking me. I give thanks for light, warmth, and inspiration. Also, I have gratitude for quiet times for healing and thought.

Blessings to you this Solstice season! May the new year find us healthier.

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Sunset on the shortest day, Dec 21st 2019. Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

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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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When I woke up this morning, after going about my toilette, I approached my altar, but decided I would hold off on my usual devotional.  I felt unsettled, so I went outside.  I contemplated yoga, but my inner voice urged me to stretch up to the sun, to feel the dewy grass on my feet, then pour a libation instead.  That felt good.  I said a prayer of thanksgiving.

I returned to contemplate my altar.  I’ve been in my home for just over a year, now, and the corner altar in my kitchen has stood for about that long.  I examined the buildup of incense dust and cobwebs.  I work with my altar daily, but bits of rituals past cling in the shadows of rocks, offering bowls, and statuary.  When spiders move in, I tend to welcome them.  My mother always taught me that, unless they present a danger, they are good luck. I offer hospitality,  but that means their webbing, shed skin, and bits of dust linger when they move on.

My eyes took all of this in, and I began to consider how this time of year – September in particular – always finds me  slightly detached from my practice. My work life reclaims much of my energy.  I have little else to give when I return from a long day of teaching and nurturing children.  I view what I do as an extension of my relationship with Brighid.  My values, my beliefs, they do not go away.  They inform me, guide me… and yet, my time and energy to do deeper spirit work diminishes.

It is a frustrating part of my own personal wheel of the year.

I am missing Pagan Pride Day today.  Ever since I had a child, it’s been hit or miss for me.  I’m exhausted.  My family is exhausted.  We’ve all been exposed to everyone else’s germs at school, and my daughter is not feeling her best.  So I’m putting our health first, knowing that we will be with our grove to celebrate the Autumn Equinox next weekend.  That will reinvigorate me further, and carry me into the Samhain season, renewed and ready for rebirth.

Back to the dusty altar.  The dust, I realize, represented something more.  Yes, that sort of thing accumulates through life and ritual (especially when incense is involved).  Yet there was more – it was the miasma of magic past made manifest.  The spiders, drawn to the corner to catch fruit flies opportunistically sipping from my offering bowls, were telling me I needed to tidy up.

So I did.  This morning, I did not light any incense.  I did not make any offerings of food or drink at my altar.  I gave time and care.  I dusted each item with love.  I washed away residue.  I replaced each sacred object tenderly, kissing some, stroking others.  I made sure my allies knew they were still very much welcomed.

You may wonder if I considered the moon phase or astrological sign.  You may nod with approval as I did this before a High Day.  You may shake your head at me for the informality of it all.  However, what I did felt right, and listening to your heart, your instincts, then acting on them, using what is at hand, is an important part of my practice, I feel.  Considering that I am putting a lot of thought into the Autumn Equinox ritual next weekend, this very off-the-cuff cleansing ritual felt like a needed juxtaposition.

Tonight, I am planning to ritually sain and mark the anniversary of our moving here.  I will honor the spirits in my home, and re-consecrate that space.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit and pour an offering to myself: a well-deserved cup of tea.

 

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Hyde Lake in Theresa, NY.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

Between difficulties with our car, cleaning at home, and going back to work a few weeks early, my summer is ending before I’m ready. I have no right to complain, though. Life is relatively good, and the summer fun I did have was wonderful and exciting! And rather than mope, I try my best to seize the day. Because my car, the only one with a roof rack, was in the shop for several weeks, we didn’t get to do much kayaking this year. Today, we changed that with a trip to nearby Hyde Lake.

There’s a lot of nature to explore, even at the boat launch.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

My daughter hadn’t been here since she was a baby, so she was excited to explore a “new” landscape.  We even saw a weasel while in our boat.

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It turns out, time on a lake was just what I needed. I felt really stressed a few days ago, and I’m making some changes in life because of it.  There’s been a lot of that in the air, I gather.   Anyway, I plan to post a bit about that eventually, but today it was all about finding a slice of paradise.  My husband and daughter were excited to head out with me for a little adventure near home.  Where land, water, and sky meet, I felt rejuvenated.

I await autumn with open arms, but the stress of an increased workload comes along with all the apples, pumpkins, and spiced chai lattes.  Make sure you get outside and reconnect with the people, and places, who mean a lot to you.

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Emerging hyacinth.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

For the last decade or so, my Bealtaine celebrations have been punctuated by an explosion of green. Every year, I dance the Maypole, all the while taking note of the leaves finally reaching out in praise of sun and rain. This year, I did not dance the Maypole until the weekend after, but I spent the 1st welcoming signs of spring at my new home. This was our first Bealtaine here. My daughter helped me greet the flowers we planted in the autumn. We spent so much of March and April looking at their bed with longing; it was very satisfying to see them emerge and eventually blossom into a colorful display!  The bees certainly approved of our efforts.

Giving offerings to Airmed.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018.

When working with my garden and the plants who grow around my home, my mind and heart swing to Airmed, a goddess fraternally connected to our plant allies. We made a space for her. Bee helped put offerings of gratitude in the little bowls we put out on her stone.

Outside shrine for spirit allies.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

My husband helped me move this half barrel into a corner of our yard. This followed us from our last two apartments. I’ve been placing offerings into it for years, and I even buried my ferrets in it. Renting, I had no other choice! So the little ones follow me, joining our spirit allies. I usually plant foxglove or woodland tobacco in it.

Our May Bush.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2018

This is a new tradition for us – it’s something we couldn’t easily do at our apartment – make a May bush! Ours is slightly different from traditional Irish May bushes, mostly that it’s not Hawthorn and isn’t something we paraded around. However, we tied some cloth to the branches of this established bush – mostly ribbons Bee helped me choose. We danced around it, thanked the local spirits, and prayed for good luck upon our home, especially in regards to the productivity of the land we live upon.  It was a show of love and gratitude for the patch of land we call our home.  The bush has since burst into life.  We have decided to treat the ribbons as we do those of our grove’s Maypole – which is based on the tradition of my first grove, Muin Mound – we will remove the ribbons around Samhain and put them into the fire, thus returning the fertility to the land.

Each High Day, I think back to how I spent it as a renter.  I looked forward to owning my own home and having space to establish deeper relationships with the land.  I did what I could before, with container gardens, a failed attempt at worm bins, and delving deep into the apartment complex’s wooded land to make peace there… but now I can finally live out more of my dreams.  We planted seeds in the earth.  We planted trees and blueberry bushes in the earth.  We have a compost pile.  Finally, finally, I can start interacting with the yard I was so excited to work with when we moved in at the end of August last year.

 

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March melted away like all the ice we had. Spring is officially here, but it doesn’t yet feel like it. In fact, a chill remains in the air, and we had more snow this afternoon. I find that these transitional times are always a bit messy around Upstate NY. It can also be draining as we look forward to the the coming season with optimism even while we grow dreary of the old.

For that reason, I was grateful for the opportunity to attend a yoga retreat for mothers (of all ages). The focus was on loving kindness, first to ourselves, and then to others. When we stop to care for ourselves, we can project that love outward. I definitely welcomed an opportunity to go somewhere quiet to meditate and do some restorative yoga.  The teacher had such a peaceful presence that I immediately felt at ease.  She had a very eclectic approach that was very informed by a grounding in Yogic and Hindu tradition, but it was also very inclusive, allowing us to explore our inner worlds, speak to our inner guides, etc.  I left feeling refreshed and inspired.  I’ve incorporated some of the meditation into my daily devotionals.

My daughter and I welcomed Spring by building an Equinox shrine.  She was very excited to help.  Before that, we stopped at a gardening center and I let her pick out a pot and some flower seeds.  We planted them and invited Spring to grow.  We’re very excited to start the rest of our garden.  Now that it’s April, soon I will start more seeds and clean the yard in preparation.

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