Posts Tagged ‘Kripalu Yoga Center’

My otter drum.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017

I put many things on the back-burner after having my daughter.  Attending drum circles at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center was one such thing because it’s meant for adults.  The purpose of their monthly circles is to trance, and most of us know that kids do not mix well with that practice.  My husband graciously offered to keep our little one busy while I headed to the drumming I had been craving for months.

The circle always starts with prayers and offerings.  The style is determined by the facilitator who often looks to lore surrounding the seasons and full moon.   He then leads a guided meditation which may or may not help participants find a focus for the drumming.  Mine centered around horse imagery.  A horse approached me and told me that it’s time to reclaim my Sagittarius nature; I need to get out there and have the adventures my soul  needs to stay happy.  Drum circle is something I’ve been wanting to get back to, and it’s something that allows me to have adventures of spirit and mind.

Although I have tried to revamp my trance practice, and I do engage with different techniques on my own, it seems that something always interrupts my routine.  I’m hoping that I can continue to attend monthly drum circles to reinvigorate my momentum and share with like-minded people. It will feed my Sagittarius soul.

To further drive home the horse energy, drumming brought out an unexpected visitor in the form of Macha. I found myself on her, riding her through a verdant field.  I remember the tops of grass whipping against my legs and the wind in my hair. I typically do not work with goddesses associated with war.  I’ve done some work with An Morrigan in the past when facing difficult situations, but my closest divine relationship is with Brighid and, in particular, her domestic and artistic sides.  My experience with Macha was one of physical power.  She took me for a ride and I got a sense that I would need such strength soon.  She is a goddess you do not mess with or else she will curse you.  She is associated with the land of my ancestors from County Armagh.  I need to pull my books out and learn more.

I will have to contemplate her visit and what it means for me.  Based on what I see from other peoples’ visions and dreams lately, I think many of us need to call on our inner warriors to stay strong in times of difficulty.


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My Summer Solstice celebration started on Saturday. We woke early and headed to Alexandria Bay for Family Day at Boldt Castle. We had to stand in a long line to purchase boat tickets first as the castle is on an island. It was a bright, sunny day… Standing and waiting was exhausting and uncomfortable, but once we boarded the boat, things started to cool down.

We enjoyed our visit but we couldn’t stay very long. I usually take my time to admire the views and architecture of the castle, but we had to run to the Yoga Center for Northern Rivers’ celebration. Still, we had a lovely time in the shade. Bee loved hugging various PBS characters, crafts, and garden activities.


I did take a moment to admire the new garden with statues depicting the four seasons as maidens.  How very Pagan.  😉  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Riding on the boats and spending time along the St. Lawrence was a perfect beginning to our summer festivities. The cool air in my hair, the motion of the water, flying terns, and several swimming ducks… Although our section of the St. Lawrence is fresh water, it reaches into the Atlantic up in Canada. I felt the spirit of Manannan, and carried that joy with me to the ritual later.


 and baby ducks on the St. Lawrence River.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Ritual with the protogrove went well. We had our ritual closer to the Yoga Center’s main building in the shade of several maple trees. Many of us missed the stone circle, but it was such a hot day, especially for our youngest guests. We honored Manannan mac Lir with offerings of song, whiskey, and a wreath (wheel) of yellow flowers to pay our “rent.” For our magical working, we made small paper doors with our goals for the season. We verbalized those goals, putting our intentions out there, and prayed that Manannan will help clear the mist and doors that may block our way. It was a new working for us, but many people expressed approval. Some were quite moved by the experience.


altar to Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Last night’s full moon called my little family outside. We followed fireflies and giggled as some crawled on our hands and feet. We pranced in the cool evening air…

Today, the day of the Solstice, I went outside in the morning to greet the sun and harvest some herbs – lemon balm, sage, and mugwort. After work, I took a small side trip to the local river near my home. I walked to the edge and took a deep breath. Calling to the local river spirit and Manannan, I spoke of my gratitude for their many blessings. I dropped three yellow leaves into the river. I found them along the bank and assigned love, gratitude, and reverence to each. I left with a bit of litter in my hands. When dealing with local spirits, I’ve found the best offerings are care and respect. For dinner tonight – a cooling salad so I don’t have to cook in the heat!

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice if you’re south of the equator)! I hope you get outside and truly experience the season.

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Last night, I joined some of my grovies from Northern Rivers as guests for Kripalu Yoga Center’s Summer Solstice celebration. It was a very different and eclectic ritual style, but it was good-natured and fun. It’s important to the group to show support for the Yoga Center as they have been very welcoming to us. Heck, they even included us in their event by asking us to help start the bonfire. My friend Cas and I were happy to oblige. While the others continued around the trail to visit each of the landmarks on their walking trail, we built the fire, prayed to Brighid, and chanted a little. It was incredibly fulfilling to do that, even with the intense heat of the day.

I spent the actual Solstice with my family. Being Father’s Day, it seemed right. Despite the threat of rain, it’s been gorgeous, albeit humid.  We spent a lot of time outside.  Since daylight will start to decline after today, we might as well make the most of it, right?


I harvested some of the first crops from my container garden this week. Earlier, it was some herbs – traditional to harvest at this time. Today, I plucked the first snap peas from the vines. What a blessing! And it meant I had some “first fruits” to offer the local spirits. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.


I performed a small ritual on my own at my altar. I gave offerings of seeds, herbs, grain, whiskey, flowers, first fruits, and incense. I made a special offering to my Ancestral Fathers at their shrine, and another special offering to the male deities in my life – namely An Dagda, Lugh, and Manannan. The omens spoke much on my need to pay attention to my inner motivations and instincts, to accept that things are ending, but that I will be able to rise above that turbulence to embrace a higher level of nobility. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.


I brought some incense outside to offer to Airmed, Goddess of herbs and tending gardens. I often honor her at Summer Solstice time. With all the rain we’ve been getting, I wasn’t very worried about putting some incense out, and I wasn’t too far away while it burned. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.


Later, we went to Clayton to spend some time along the St. Lawrence River. It was there that I made an offering of yellow flowers to Manannan, a traditional way to “pay the rent” to him. I always feel close to him when near the St. Lawrence. As a major river that directly connects to the Atlantic, I feel that it’s easier to commune with him there than many of the other lakes and ponds in the area. Just my own personal UPG. I’m also mindful that the area has many connections to Native communities and their lore. I don’t feel that it’s Manannan’s river, but I do feel that he likes to visit often. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Whatever you did to celebrate the Summer Solstice, I hope you were able to enjoy some time outside. Don’t take the warmth and sun for granted. Get out there to literally smell the flowers! Maybe even eat some snap peas right of the vine!

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Walk through the veil of trees to get to the stone circle… Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

We joined our friends at the Kripalu Yoga Center for an enjoyable evening of camaraderie, feasting, music, and fun.  A gentleman gave a didgeridoo demonstration and discussed some of the tradition surrounding the instrument.  That was quite fascinating!  I’d never heard one in person before and it was surprisingly meditative.  My little one slept through the performance!

Before that, we took a walk through the trees to visit the stone circle where Northern Rivers Protogrove has many of its seasonal rituals.  We celebrated Lughnasadh with Muin Mound in Syracuse earlier this month and we missed the lovely ritual space we’ve come to know.  I left an offering to the local spirits, assuring them that they were loved and we would be back soon!

The fire pit at the stone circle. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

There were some changes to the circle – mainly in the form of some new stones! What a surprise! We were also amused by this sign next to one of the stones:

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Apparently some nature spirits had moved in while we were away! One of our yoga center friends said he politely asked them to leave and they seem to have complied!  At least, we didn’t see any while visiting…  perhaps it has more to do with the cold temperatures at night?Di

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I’ve had a busy but wonderful weekend full of learning, beautiful weather, and old friends.  I feel exhausted, and my feet hurt, but it sure beats lazing around with Netflix all day!

Yesterday I attended the first in a series of meditation workshops at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center.  Local reiki practitioner and long-time meditator, Cherie Schneckenburger, lead us through an explanation of the many practical benefits of meditation, some of the research major universities have done and are continuing to do on the subject (especially in regards to pain management), and some practical exercises to help us strengthen our visualization skills.  Much of this initial workshop was review for me, but some of the activities were new and I found them to be very effective.  I’ve filed them away in my brain for future reference!  They will surely help me help others down the road.  I also wanted some review as I once more get back into my meditative and light trance practices.  I really feel that I’ve been neglecting that side of me lately.  My recent meditation on Ériu was a leap from months of relative idleness.  I’ve been attempting to maintain a weekly practice, but most of it has been in the form of prayer and offerings of gratitude.  There’s nothing wrong with this, of course – it’s certainly kept me very connected!  My meditations are rare, short, and usually focused on grounding and centering, and I’m feeling that I need to start working on those skills again.  Not only do I need to for the Initiate Study Program, but I’m hoping to use meditation as a pain management tool during labor – at least initially.  I am looking forward to the next workshops in this meditation series.  I’m ready to dust off my meditation skills, hone them, and go further with some experienced guidance!

A view of Onondaga Lake in Liverpool, NY. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Today, Weretoad and I went to Syracuse and Liverpool to see some friends – grovies from Muin Mound!  It was serendipitous how it all worked out.  One was originally going to come up this way to bring me a breast pump she didn’t need.  Well, she only gave birth two weeks prior and I felt silly having her travel to me, so we decided to go to her!  Suddenly, the old gang was organizing a bit of a nature walk along the Onondaga Lake in Liverpool.  My friend and I decided it was a perfect opportunity to get together and see others from the grove!

I’m so glad we made the trip.  Not only did I get to hang out with my friend and her lovely family, but I was able to visit with other grovies who I haven’t seen in months!  It was great to catch up and take in the beautiful day!  The air was chilly at times but I found myself unbuttoning my coat repeatedly.  The ice and snow were melting, the ducks were out, and people were everywhere enjoying the change in weather!  And to top it off, I got some things I needed like the breast pump (yay!) and some exercise!

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Our Winter Solstice Altar.  Each time we set up, it gets a little better.  My goal for the next ritual is to add more seasonal embellishments!    Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

On Saturday, the North Country Druidic Study group gathered to celebrate the Winter Solstice.  It was our third ever public ritual and, although it was the lowest attended, it went really well!  Some last minute changes threw us off a little bit, but we bounced back and made the most of it!  For the last time until spring, we gathered at the beloved stone circle at the Kripalu Yoga Center*.

A bit of snow around the stone circle.  The Winter Hag was there!  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

The sun was shining and there was only a sprinkling of snow on the ground.  Despite a warm start to the day, it grew cold as the sun set.  Determined to celebrate among the elements, we toughed it out!  By the end of the rite, our fingers felt clumsy and our tootsies were chilled!  Really makes me appreciate the warmth!

A chilly night presided over by the waxing moon.  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

We honored An Cailleach and An Dagda – the Winter Hag and the God of abundance (among other things), respectively.  We also paid tribute to the sun and did a working to send peace and healing to the victims of the tragedies the week prior.  These moments were very moving, and yet we also managed to fit in a festive spirit here and there.  We chuckled with An Dagda a lot and sang “Deck the Halls” as we ended the rite.  We acknowledged the finite nature of the sun, but that there is hope attached to it – hope that it will rise another day.  We equated that hope with our wish that the world will become a more loving place.

The blessing garland the group put together.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

We transferred those wishes into the garlands we made and a white candle Daughter RavynStar brought to charge.  The garlands were to be hung on the Yoga Center’s blessing (clootie) tree, and the candle was burnt during and after our feast to send healing to those in need.

A Winter Solstice feast!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

Although the group was small, there was an abundance of food (Thanks An Dagda!) – including a birthday cake one of our members made for me!  I feel truly lucky that our little study group is turning into a real spiritual family.  We care about each other, support one another, and have become real friends!  Just as important, everyone is willing to lend a hand.  Without asking, people were setting up, vacuuming at the end, putting things away, washing dishes – how spectacular is that?!  I so often read about organizers feeling as if they have to do everything.  I feel very sorry for those groups.  When ours becomes a grove, it will truly belong to everyone involved!

Winter Solstice gifts!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

Gifts were exchanged as is the spirit of the season.  I came up with a tag system so that those participating selected an ogham from a metal tree.  A small part of the tag was put into a basket which we drew from to find our gift as well as the ogham which carried a message for us the coming season!  There are some kinks to be worked out, but I hope to utilize it again next year!

Though it was small, our Winter Solstice ritual was wonderful.  I’m looking forward to the new year and the growth of our study group!

The Yoga Center’s altar, including the healing candle charged by the group.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.


* We still plan to have our Imbolc ritual at the Yoga Center, but it will be held just behind the building for ease of setup, proximity to warmth if needed, and light.  Huzzah for portable fire pits!

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Recently I attended a drum circle/trance session at the Yoga Center.  The man leading the drumming explained that life is all about change, and without it we would die.  It’s very true when you stop and think about all the transformative processes necessary for sustaining life.

My life is changing in a big way now.  It all seems accented by the new season.

Change is usually accompanied by discomfort.  It’s part of that process – going into the cauldron, feeling the fire, breaking down with the liquid, and turning into something new.  New roles, new experiences, new expectations, new worries, and new joys.

I will write more about these changes in time.  For now, I’m praying the changes aren’t too uncomfortable.

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