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Posts Tagged ‘Grovemates’

Identity

I’ve been ruminating on my identify for the last month. Much of it has involved my association with ADF. You can read about what happened on The Social Justice Druid’s Patreon. Many of us in the community are still processing it all.  I know some have decided to leave. Some are stepping back. The whole situation is discouraging and depressing.

And yet, my grove remains a positive place. I recently ran into a man who  visited our grove a couple times in the past. It wasn’t for him, but we move in the same circles. He asked how the group is doing, and I explained that we’re still around; that we’re a small grove, but we get along. Whenever we do our toast and boast, many express gratitude for the group, describing it as a spiritual family. That’s what it feels like to me. We feel safe to be ourselves, and we keep working to make it a safe space for others who may seek us.

So I’ve been experiencing this odd, disconnected feeling. I’ve talked a bit about it with my grovemates – my worry about being associated with the very real issues that ADF needs to work through. However, I’m also really impressed with the positive work some people are doing to make change or  move forward. Missy Ashton recently shared her own reflections, and they really helped me.

It was time for me to renew my ADF membership. Missy posted her thoughts the day it was due, which seemed like a sign to me. I lapsed, mostly because I forgot due to other things happening in my life, but also because I was still processing.

I literally just renewed. I still possess a lot of trepidation about it, but for now, I’m mostly doing it for my grove after talking to them.

The year going forward, I will continue to watch and reflect. Not just about ADF, but about even calling myself a Druid. I keep worrying that I’m doing a disservice to Gaelic speaking communities using that descriptor… So I’m trying to get back into my studies, learning  more about the authentic folk practices of  my ancestors*. I continue studying Gaeilge (Irish) one Duolingo lesson at a time. I just bought Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland to better inform my practice. I’m so excited to dig in!

As we near a new decade, it seems a prudent time to reflect and reevaluate. Yet I do so with hope and optimism. I prepare to step past the threshold between 2019 and 2020 with a grove of spiritual siblings to support me as we continue our journey together to honor the deities, beloved dead, and land.

*I feel it’s important to remind readers that, although I have been inspired to research and embrace the folk practices of my Irish ancestors, DNA is not a prerequisite for this spiritual path. All you need are an earnest respect for, and desire to learn directly from, the living culture.

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DanielsDragonGarden_JohnCrump

Daniel’s Memorial Dragon Garden – Photo by John Crump, 2017.

The transition from winter to spring was marked by a tragedy within my own community and grove. A friend, someone I started studying Paganism with back when I was in college, suddenly passed away.  It was very sudden and heartbreaking, especially as he left my friend (his wife), and their daughter on the corporeal realm.  After discussing his wife and daughter’s wishes, the grove (of which he was a member) came up with the idea to create a memorial dragon garden in his memory.  The Yoga Center, where we have most of our rituals, allowed us to keep it on their land near the fairy gardens.

We gathered for the Spring Equinox and created it as a magical working.  It was part to memorialize our friend, part to heal our hearts, and part to strengthen our bonds.  In addition to studying Wicca with him when I was in Utica, he attended Muin Mound Grove for many years, then joined Northern Rivers Grove last year.  The two groves came together to honor him in our working.  It was probably the hardest ritual I ever lead.    As we took turns placing stones or figurines in the garden, we shared memories.  There were many tears and hugs.

I spotted these daffodils growing in the hedge.  I wonder if someone tossed a potted plant and now they’ve gone feral.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

We focus so much on rebirth at this time of year. The death of a friend and grovemate has had me focusing on the death part that is so necessary for the cycle to renew. We get caught up with the flowers in the spring that we can forget the decaying leaves that nourish the plants. Honestly, thinking about how I will go back to the Earth and contribute to that gives me a strange comfort. All the same, it doesn’t make these partings any easier.

No buds, but the wildflowers were growing in late April.  I need to go back and visit…  Red trilliums are such a beauty to behold.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I collected big, heavy bag of trash in the woods for Earth Day.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I went into the woods around Earth Day to keep with my tradition of picking up some trash that time of year. I usually try to pick up some trash whenever I go into the woods, but I put in extra effort around Earth Day. The effort is my offering to the local spirits. I wondered if any of the Dead lingered in the woods, watching me remove the garbage…

We celebrated Bealtaine with laughter and joy. We danced around a Maypole and we jumped the embers for cleansing and good luck. We missed old friends, those who moved away, and our friend who passed beyond the veil. We called on the fertility of the land, and I contemplated the role our Ancestors have in abundance.

Shortly after Bealtaine, I took part in my friend’s very small and private funeral. We met up with his family, another grovie, and a friend from the eclectic circle in Utica. There were elderly people and babies gathered in a small circle of mud boots and umbrellas.  We were surrounded by trees that held great significance to my departed grovemate and the most magical balancing stones. The sky cried buckets.  While others moved soil, everyone chanted:

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
And fire my spirit…

I thought of all the Dead around us, mingling with the soil, the waters, the air, and in our own spirits…  It was a sublime moment.  One that will stay with me forever.

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