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Posts Tagged ‘keeping the flame’

From sundown on July 27 to sundown July 28, I kept Brighid’s flame.  It wasn’t a continuous, literal flame.  As the daughter of a former firefighter, cat owner, and mother, there are times when I need to put it out.  I always say a prayer when I do:

Though I put the flame out in the physical realm, it is always lit in my heart.

Some people will turn their noses up to that, but Brighid has not shown any displeasure with it.  As a protector of children, domesticated animals, and homes, being practical and not tempting fate makes sense.  Part of learning about the magic of her flame is respect, after all.  And I don’t have extra money to spend on anything that could safely allow me to burn an unattended candle.  Maybe in the future.

There are areas I’d like to improve upon.  There was a time, five or six years ago, where I would treat my flame keeping time as a retreat.  I stayed away from electronic entertainment (although I would sometimes allow myself to watch educational documentaries related to my Druidism).  I read and studied.  I spent a lot of time outside.  All of that changed, especially when I became a mother.  My quiet moments come early in the morning and at night.

Right now, my biggest focus is keeping track of my times to keep the flame, and to have some intention.  I decided to blog about it this time because a Twitter friend inspired me when she posted about her own creative work during her flame tending night.  I cannot remember who that was, but she really got me thinking.

Except for Naturalist studies and continued practice with divination, most of my more intense Druid studies have halted.  I only have so much time as a mother, teacher, and Senior Druid of a grove.  The last several months, I’ve given my spare time to writing a fictional book.  I tried my best to do that during my flame tending shift.  I also made a point to give gratitude for Brighid’s blessings of talent and inspiration.  I always ask that she continue to guide and help me nourish that to improve.

I set aside some quiet time to go through my Druid Animal Oracle cards to basically renew my relationship with them.  I thought about which of the Nine Virtues each card mostly embodied, and then thought about whether the cards where mostly connected with spirituality/intellect, creativity or fertility of the land, warfare and death, or family and community.  It was a fun exercise and I got a lot out of it!

I also used some of my time last night to do a bit of candle magic.  It’s one of the first forms of magic most of us learn, but it’s continually a favorite of mine.  It’s tried and true for me, and I can really feel my focus and the energy when I’m doing it.  It feels especially appropriate to engage in candle work in conjunction with Brighid when I’m already keeping her flame.  Added a bit of extra power.

My next shift begins August 16th.  I’m hoping the magical working I did will manifest then and help me set a new focus.  I have a good feeling.  Slowly but surely, I would like to move towards once more treating those shifts as days to focus on anything related to Brighid and my Druidism.

 

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Tonight is my night to keep Brighid’s flame.  I keep an altar for her over the stove which was looking a little grimy so I set about cleaning it as best as I could before saying my prayer and lighting the beeswax candle.

Sarah Lawless recently posted about a ritual and discussed cleaning up as part of the process.  It really grabbed my attention because I feel I need to work on that aspect of my spirituality right now.  I feel I’m always saying this in every other entry, but my life has been very busy recently.  Falling behind on household chores is a common occurrence, especially at this time of the year when there are so many reasons to travel and see family.  And all that clutter – the waiting pile of laundry, the unorganized papers on the dining room table, the unwashed dishes on the side of the sink – they contribute to this feeling of malaise.  I can’t help wondering what people with perpetually clean homes are sacrificing to maintain that image!

Just as Sarah touches on in her beautiful ritual reflection, cleanliness plays a role in many cultural rituals.  Several books I’ve read on ancient Celtic cultures include suggestions that they were very clean people in their time.  Knowing the emphasis ancient and modern Druids place(d) on hospitality, I know it’s something I’ve been weak on.  If a friend randomly showed up on my doorstep, I would want to invite them in but would feel so embarrassed at the state of things.  It’s not fun to feel that way.  Yet I invite my spirit allies into my home frequently!  One could argue spiritual beings are beyond caring about such material concerns, but my feeling of discomfort and even despair at the clutter can’t be ignored.  Liturgical order, ritual dance, and traditions like Feng Shui all exist because of some perceived need for order and some sense that what exists in the physical realm will be reflected in the spiritual.  There is a time and place for the opposite, but my home does not feel like the appropriate locale!

This weekend will begin the start of a rearranging in my home.  I need to make room for some new furniture which requires a whole new layout.  It’s stressful, on the one hand, but also exciting.  We needed to be forced into this.

I’m especially excited to move my altar back into its original home of the “art room.”  I’ve never been entirely comfortable with it in the bedroom, a place of repose compared to the very active energy of the art room.  All too often, my desire to ritualize is disrupted by my husband’s right and need to sleep.  I’ve never fought with him on that, and he has never given me a hard time about doing devotionals at night, yet I always feel a bit on display or internally rushed just so we can all settle down.  That was never the case in the art room…  Another issue was the clutter in the bedroom.  I feel as if there’s an endless shuffle of laundry constantly encroaching on my sacred corner. It is hard to get into a ritual mindset when one nearly trips over a misplaced hanger.

So bring on the fresh start!  Bring on the clean, tidy vibes!

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My life has once more become hectic.  I feel like I report that in my blog every couple weeks.  Just goes to show how cyclical things are!  This time, the stress has everything to do with getting back into my work schedule.  It’s too easy to come home and collapse!  I haven’t been as spiritually active as usual.  Again, this seems to be cyclical.   Anyway, a fellow flamekeeper’s post on the SIG e-list reminded me that last night was my shift!  So, although it was right around the time of night when hubby and I start to prepare for bed, I took some time and lit the candle for Brighid at her shrine over my stove.  I prayed.  I took several deep, calming breaths.

Hubby really liked the way the wax melted so he snapped this photo.  I think it’s a really beautiful photo and wanted to share it with you.

Photo by Weretoad, 2012

 

 

 

Occasionally, we all feel too busy, too tired, too stressed.  In reality, you probably have a couple minutes to stop and connect with whatever spiritual powers you like.  Chances are you need to.  Go ahead and take that time for yourself.  And don’t feel guilty when you can’t.

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I recently posted about how I was anticipating Wellspring as a way to rejuvenate my Druidic studies and practice.  Weretoad and I were able to attend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.  For those of you who don’t know, Wellspring is a major ADF Druid festival held at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY.  There are large rituals, initiations, consecrations, workshops, competitions, concerts, and potlucks.  Always a good time!   This year was a busy and sometimes frustrating weekend, but it’s all worth it for the learning, fellowship, and reinvigoration that occurs.  I also got to meet fellow blogger Inahawksi!   I took a few photos to share but am quickly realizing that I much prefer a digital SLR to the built-in camera on my iphone.  It works well but it’s so hard to hold still and focus – especially in the sun.  I apologize for the blurry ones!

Stonecreed Grove, the hosts of the event, have been making improvements to the old nemeton. They’ve replaced the rotting, wooden idols of the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper with new stone versions made by an ADF artisan. They’re visually striking as you approach!  At night, when the flames shine upon them, they are truly breathtaking.

The  Gatekeeper with offerings.
The Earth Mother with offerings.
A major activity I helped to organize was weekend-long flametending  through the Brighid special interest group (SIG).  Fellow member, Bonnie, was absolutely amazing at coordinating with Stonecreed  Grove, providing incense for people to give as offerings  when needed, and working with The Magical Druid  to obtain special Brighid tokens as thank-yous for people who took part.  This kept me very busy as I made a point to tend to the shrine three to four times a day, sometimes meeting with other members.  It was wonderful to put faces to names and join them in such a sacred act.    We learned much from our first year of this and want to continue, possibly expanding to other ADF festivals.  It was interesting and moving to watch the shrine grow with offerings over the weekend.  Brighid is very much adored by many Druids.
As I said, there were competitions.  The Warriors Guild  showed their physical prowess on the field but I did not get an opportunity to attend what with all the other activities.  I participated in the Artisan Competition (I submitted the doll Blodeuwedd I’ve shown before).  That was a really stunning art show.  So many beautiful pieces in different mediums!  Meeting with my fellow Artisans was fun and we came up with a lot of great ideas for the next year.  Finally, Wellspring is known for its bardic competition.  Adults and children alike competed  and there were some excellent examples of voice, composition, poetry, and storytelling.  Ian Corrigan won in the end  so congrats to him!  He’s got such an impressive voice and personality.   Truly, ADF has so many talented folk.  I am very proud of us!
Near the nemeton is the Runestead – an area Heathens use to worship the Norse Gods.  I just love the runic fence!  Hubby and I made a visit to pay our respects to the Gods of the rest of our bloodline.  We especially wanted to say hello to Thor.
In  a shaded area, towards the back of the forest, is a dark, ghostly figure – a crone-like Goddess with sagging breasts  and decaying limbs.  She is an impressive, powerful idol.  I always feel a bit apprehensive approaching her.  I half suspect she’ll suddenly look up or reach out…!
Because of timing, I was only able to attend one workshop this year – but it was an interesting one for both me and my husband – brewing!  Robb (far left) lead the workshop, demonstrating how to make beer but also discussing the methods used to make wine and mead.  Robb is certified to judge brewing and actually handles yet another ADF competition – the Brewers’ Guild competition!  (I sampled a few entries – delish!)    He was very encouraging and knowledgable.  I really want to try my hand at mead soon!  Weretoad is interested in making beers.
A special, commemorative pin everyone received!  I was sad for a bit… I thought I lost it in the mad rush to change from ritual garb so I could dance around the bonfire in the drum circle!    I found it this morning mixed in with my makeup.  Figures!

It was a wonderful weekend.  I’m so happy we had a chance to go.  I feel a stronger bond with my grove, better connections with fellow ADF Druids from all over, a deeper relationship with Brighid, and a greater drive to study, practice, and worship.  I’m pumped to dive back into the Initiate study program!  If you live near Sherman, NY and have an interest in Druidism, I strongly encourage you to consider attending!  If not, I invite you to look into other Pagan festivals or conferences.  They are great sources of fun, education, inspiration, and friendship.

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I’m keeping Brighid’s flame tonight. I did not attempt trancing. Instead I decided do some cleaning and crafting. I keep a small altar dedicated to Brighid over my stove and it was looking a bit frightful. Tonight seemed perfect for cleaning it in her name. I even cleaned the walls. In addition to the candle, I light a lot of incense around there. Whenever I’m having guests, doing serious cleaning, or being crafty I make offerings which can leave soot and ash. I think I’m going to make cleaning the hearth on flame keeping nights a tradition. I really should do it more often. The kitchen was traditionally the center of the home and should be treated with reverence, especially if you are dedicated to a hearth deity. Not to mention the sanitary benefits of such a “mundane” ritual!

Cleaning in such a ritualized fashion reminded me that I want to make some magically charged, natural cleaning solutions. Perhaps that will be my goal for the coming new moon. What better time to create a concoction meant to decrease the physical and spiritual dust that builds up? I will have to research some traditional recipes for ideas.

Along with the above, I’ve been working on a little doll. I think she’s turning into a wee witch which I quite like. She’s a very dainty little witch. A child witch. I used to like playing witch when I was little. It drove my father crazy…

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