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Posts Tagged ‘Gods’

I wanted to make an offering for Lugh that reflected his association with lightning as well as the seasonal association with grain. The lightning aspect was important to me because the lore shows him as a champion of justice. He strikes down those who do not reciprocate hospitality and goodwill. I prayed to him last year, asking for justice. He has been good to us, so I took out my sewing supplies and did my best to make this quilt and appliqué piece. May it please him!

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Shrine to Airmed. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

 

Last year, I felt called to begin building a shrine to honor Airmed.  For those who are unfamiliar with her, she is an Irish Goddess – one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  Along with her brother, Miach, and her father, Dian Cecht, she helped to heal the other Tuatha Dé Danann.  The King of the Tuatha Dé Danann, Nuada, lost his arm in battle and, as a result, was seen as unfit to rule.  Dian Cecht made him a metal arm to compensate, but his son, Miach, was a more talented healer.  He made Nuada a new arm of flesh and blood so that he could once more resume his place as leader.  Dian Cecht was driven mad with jealousy; he murdered his son.  From Miach’s body grew all the healing herbs, each growing from the body part it is capable of healing.  Wise Airmed gathered them on her mantle according to their function.  Still jealous at the knowledge of his children, Dian Cecht flung the mantle and scattered the herbs so that others could not easily know the knowledge of the herbs.  Only Airmed, who so tenderly gathered and organize the plants in tribute to her brother, knew their secrets.

Because of her herbal wisdom and healing knowledge, Airmed is an excellent ally for herbalists of all levels.  I’m still very much a novice, and cultivating a relationship with her feels important.  Using a broken bit of concrete I found nearby, I painted a simple figure to represent her.  I placed this in a pot and surrounded it with some cilantro and dill that were growing wild in the mulch in my front shade/fairy garden.  Since I rent and strangers periodically come through to weed-whack anything I’m not growing in a container, I wanted to give the plants a better chance.  They look a little limp right now, but I’m hoping love from myself and Airmed will give them the strength they need to adapt and persevere.  I placed a small, leaf-shaped dish in front of her for offerings, then built a spiral of stones in front of that.

There is more I would like to do, but that will entail surrounding her with even more herbs!  I love how the shrine is taking shape.  It adds so much magic to my home, and I pray that Airmed is pleased.

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I’ve decided to try and reinvigorate my spiritual practice by joining the Three Cranes Grove and their “Yule Along”.  They came up with a Norse-inspired schedule but have invited others to experiment with their own hearth cultures.  So as I prepare for my normal Winter Solstice celebration, I’m also preparing for several days worth of spiritual work.  It will likely consist of a lot of offerings and prayers.  If possible, I will meditate.  My plan is to work with my husband to set aside some time each night for quiet contemplation and togetherness.  No tv, no video games, no movies, no social networking.  Thankfully, this falls during my holiday vacation so I will have more free time throughout the day!

As I gear up, I am going to make sure I have enough offerings.  I’m also going to add some seasonal decor to my altar in the form of evergreen boughs.  Finally, I am planning my family Solstice meal.  This year, I’m preparing to make a quiche.  Weretoad has expressed an interest in making pecan pie – one of my favorites!  I also want to start some new Solstice traditions that Bee can enjoy for years to come – family games, story telling, and maybe some singing.

Here is the rough draft of my schedule:

12/19 Greeting the winter wanderer – I am going to make offerings to Manannán mac Lir as the gatekeeper, tidy up the home, and mentally prepare myself

12/20 Mother’s night/Solstice vigil (which I can totally do because it happens on a WEEKEND!) – Call my mother, make offerings to my ancestors, especially my ancestral mothers, take a relaxing shower (since I’m a mother), and get ready for vigil

12/21 Solstice Day – family gathering with feasting and honoring Angus

12/22 Nature Spirits – take a walk outside and give offerings

12/23 Feast of Fools – not sure what to do here yet…  Thoughts from fellow ADFers who have done the Yule Along before?

12/24 House spirits – offerings and tidying up

12/25 Spirit of hospitality and gifting – offerings to An Dagda and time with family

12/26 Celebrations of winter/snow – another walk outside and offerings made to An Cailleach

12/27 Celebration of the evergreen – special offerings to the evergreen trees

12/28 God/desses of the household (Brighid) – offerings made at her shrine in my kitchen, meditation if possible

12/29 Shining ones – offerings at the main altar

12/30 Bringing in the boar (Lugh – deities/spirits concerning oaths) – offerings made

12/31 Twelfth Night — Resolutions, divination, remembrances, gratitudes – a celebration with friends

1/1 New Year’s Day — Returning the home to regular time, putting evergreens back outside, cleaning the home, and thanking the gatekeeper

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What is a crane bag?

The answer: not hard.

The lovely Aoife was turned into a crane and lived about the seas of Manannan Mac Lir for many hard years.  When she died, the great Sea Lord took her skin and made a magical bag that could hold his most beloved treasures.  It’s said to be bottomless.

Many Druids and Celtic Reconstructionists, especially those who are called by Manannan and the symbolism of the crane, make crane bags to wear on their person.  An individual may place his or her most sacred charms and amulets inside; objects of personal power and significance.

Although my Druidic studies have slowed lately, I’ve noted a growing connection to Manannan.  The more I work with trance and magic, the more I study, he seems to nod approvingly at me.  And of course, Brighid remains an incredibly significant part of my life.  For the last few months, I’ve felt compelled by my relationships with these deities to create a devotional object to have at my labor.  Had I the ability to attempt a home birth, rest assured I would have created an altar to motherhood, my labor, Brighid, the baby, and our spirit guides.  (For some lovely examples, look here and here!)  Although some people have made some beautiful travel-friendly birth altars, making a crane bag – something relevant to my path and my Gods that I could create with a favorite hobby – seemed like the right thing for me to do.  Everything will be secure inside the bag.  I can take one item out to hold, rub, and focus on, or I can hold the entire bag.  It’s made of very soft pink velvet and feels very comforting.  Much of my reading has suggested that women hoping for a natural birth should have some sort of focal point to assist in managing pain.  A crane bag holding many special objects to focus on is just my style!  Not only that –  it’s very discreet.

My finished motherhood crane bag. I reused fabric from an old, velvet blazer and some swirling pink for the lining (not photographed).  The pink is supposed to represent my uterus.  The drawstring method seemed best since the uterus can stretch and contract. On the front, I attached three antique buttons I purchased years ago. I knew I was saving them for something special! They fit the bag perfectly. Not only do they work with the color scheme, but symbolically an open flower is supposed to magically encourage the cervix to open.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Detail of the button I used as the clasp when the bag is tightened. A Celtic knot seemed most appropriate as it connects me to my hearth culture and gives me strength.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Although my crane bag is not bottomless, I’ve been able to fit quite a bit in there! I included the Goddess stone from my friend RavynStar, a yonic dandelion charm (the yoni is demurely facing away from the camera), the mother blessing beads from everyone at my baby shower, a sterling silver ring (now broken but still precious to me) that belonged to my mother when she was younger, a tooth from a doe, a bracelet from my late aunt, an collage of Brighid made by a fellow ADF Druid artisan, and my baby’s first photo! Everything is very significant to me symbolically. They are to remind me of the strong women in my life, my Goddess, the Earth Mother, the creative powers within me, my own strength, my spirit guide, and the ultimate goal – a healthy, happy baby. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

I also included these lovely talismans made by fellow flame keeper and Druid, Grey Wren. She completely surprised me with these beauties! The bloodstone with coral is to give me strength during and after labor. The rose quartz is to help with bonding, peace, and love. A friend taught her to associate it with motherhood. The white chalcedony with the pearl is supposed to help with lactation and sleep.  It will also be very appropriate for baby since she is supposed to be born in the sign of Cancer – a water sign! I am thinking about attaching the last to the baby’s mobile since sleep and nutrition are going to be hugely important to her, and we’ll need all the help we can get!  It could also go with some water symbolism. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

 

A birth and motherhood crane bag is very easy to make.  All you need are some special objects that bring you comfort and courage, and a bag to put them in!  As always, I encourage you to make your own bag as you’ll put your own energy into it.  Red or pink are particularly appropriate symbolically, but choose what fits your own needs.

Have you made a birth altar or crane bag?  I would love to see it!

For More Information on crane bags:

Make Your Own Crane Bag and Discover the Purpose of the Incarnation You are Currently Living” by Elen Sentier.  A good introduction.

The Crane Bag” by Dr. John Gilbert – How one Druidic tradition utilizes this tool.

The Crane Bag” – a poem about its lore and origins from Tairis Tales.  Definitely read this for an understanding of its significance within Celtic lore.

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Ice on the car windshield. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

 

We woke up to any icy world. An Cailleach exhaled her frosty breath over Northern NY and made it glisten. The trees shimmered like glass and the grass looked sugar dusted. As I scraped the car, I noticed how the ice fell away, tinkling like marbles. Winter’s hold is weakening, but this reminder of its power also reminded me of its magic and beauty.

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Although I celebrated with Northern Rivers Protogrove this past weekend, I’ve been acknowledging the change in the season on my own as well. We still have snow in the North Country.  Some people complain about it, and indeed I look forward to the return of warmth and green, but find complaining about what Mother Nature does to be a bit laughable.  One might as well complain that the moon is a particular phase.  What can you do about it except go with the flow and enjoy the ride?  I think it’s far more productive to think about what Mother Earth is trying to tell us when that happens.

Last winter was very difficult.  It’s not that we received piles and piles of snow – quite the opposite!  Because the snow was so minimal last winter, and the temperatures higher, many farmers struggled.  I remember concerns about the maple syrup harvest and apple trees not producing as usual.  Our ecosystem was also impacted. Ticks were a huge problem in 2012 due to the mild snow.  The land needed more snow this year.  In December, Northern Rivers (then the North Country Druidic Study Group) honored An Cailleach and prayed for the snow our region needed.  Boy did she deliver!

On the eve of the Spring Equinox, I made an offering to the Winter Hag in thanks for what she blessed us with.  I am grateful for the snow, for the challenges that test us, for the biting cold that brings us together for warmth and fellowship, and for the silent beauty of a forest pregnant with snow.

Truly, spring has been creeping upon us for over a month.  The signs are all around, but they often require slowing down and looking hard.  We modern folk don’t do that as often as we should, and so the winter seems to last all that much longer.

Tonight I will make an offering to the spirits of spring who I have been revealing themselves here and there, and who I look forward to seeing more of during the green part of the year!

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Tairis: Sheelah’s Day

Now this is very interesting and worth the read!  Is there a connection between the Spring Equinox,  the Cailleach, and Sheela-na-gig?

 

Tairis: Sheelah’s Day.

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