Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mythology’

20150130-160239.jpg

Look what came in the mail today! Yes, that’s “Patterns in Comparative Religion” by Eliade! It’s for an advanced ADF study course. And yes, actually, I’m excited to read it! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

 

I purposefully photographed my personal library’s latest addition for a reason.  Even though I’m working hard to take care of a busy toddler, and making sure she has interesting and wholesome stimuli, I’m still making time for myself.  It’s taken over a year, but I’ve finally started to reestablish a routine that allows me to maintain  personally meaningful, deep spiritual connections.  It was difficult, and I still have a lot of work to do to return to where I was before pregnancy, even before graduate school, but I am getting there.  It’s also a little different since some of my daily rituals involve prayers that are more childlike to promote Bee’s understanding of Gaelic polytheism as well as her early literacy skills.  Morning and evening prayers are simple and melodic.  Motherhood has given me a new appreciation for nursery rhymes and ritual gestures.  So the experiential and the experimental are going well.

The hardest habits to reestablish are my academic studies.  Between six months and a year, Bee suddenly became very active.  That’s only increased.  Finding peaceful time to read has been problematic.  I’m still nursing her, so there are times, during the day, when I may fit in some reading, but she usually wants to play with her hands.  Seriously, she grabs and pinches everything.  Everything.  Imagine a cat laying on the book you’re reading.  Now imagine the same scenario, but give your cat opposable thumbs.  Get the picture?  My new plan is to try to read more in bed at night with my trusty reading lamp.  I spend too much time trying to catch up with social media at night, and for what?  To see all the quiz results people want to share?  Psh.  Between the uselessness of that and recent studies showing how detrimental screen time before bed can be, I think I seriously need to make a change.  This great post on sacrifice from the Agora blog really drove that home to me.

Thankfully, I have allies to encourage these revived and improving habits!  A fellow ADFer started an Initiate Program study group through Schoology to help people like myself get through it.  The study program is a beast but this group, and her breakdown, is just what I needed.  Some of the books on the ADF reading list are very academic and require focus when reading.  I have no choice but making time, during Bee’s sleep, to read.  This study group has really helped reinvigorate me, thus my latest purchase towards the course “Indo-European Mythology 1.”  I scanned the table of contents and I’m already excited!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Film poster. (Fair Use)

 

Many of my favorite anime titles involve spiritual elements.  The Hayao Miyazaki films, such as My Neighbor Tototor and Princess Mononoke, were greatly inspired by animistic beliefs native to Japan.  The interaction between the human and spirit world are important elements to the stories, and I find a lot to compare to Druidism – old and new.   Someone online suggested to my husband that we check out A Letter to Momo.  While watching the preview, we couldn’t help but compare it to Miyazaki’s style.  It wasn’t just the whimsical art or the coming of age story – it was the thin line between this world and the next.  We had to watch it.

In the film, a young girl named Momo is dealing with the unresolved argument she had with her father right before his untimely death.  The dramatic change in her life, and her need to adjust, are made concrete when she and her mother move to the small island of Shio, where her grandparents live.  Along for the ride are three spirits on a mysterious mission.  Unlike just about everyone else around her, Momo can see them.  While this chance encounter with the Otherworld creates (often comical) challenges, it ultimately helps both Momo and her mother heal.

One element that intrigues me with A Letter to Momo, and indeed the same element that helps to endear Miyazaki films to me, is the proximity between this world and the spirit world. Set on a rural island, there are scenes at shrines, examples of ancestor veneration, and discussions of Japanese mythology.  The spirits, comparable to Irish lore, are neither totally benevolent nor malicious – they simply are.  They have their own histories, motivations, biases, and faults.  What separates them from the humans they interact with are their powers and Otherworldly jobs.  The three take a shining to Momo in part because of how she comes to interact with them – which includes some offerings of food.   Less obvious but still there, mixed in with all the modern farming equipment, phones, and Japanese snack foods, are little spirit homes people built once upon a time.  One of the major scenes of Momo features an old community tradition in which the families send straw boats with lanterns that they made as offerings into the sea.  I’m assuming it is part of the Japanese Obon celebration, a festival for the dead.  It’s never really explained – it’s just there, part of the culture.  The movie’s purpose is not to explain Japanese customs and beliefs to curious Americans, after all.  They just exist, as they have existed in some way for generations, embedded in the story.

In watching these films, so full of Japanese customs and folklore, I can’t help but find things to compare to the living fairy faith in Ireland, or think about how things could have been if the Pagan tradition there had not been so altered by Christianity.  What can we, as modern Druids, learn from cultures who have living animistic traditions?  It’s something to contemplate after watching the film.

I highly recommend A Letter to Momo.  It’s heartfelt, humorous, and appropriate for the whole family.  It would be especially appropriate to watch near Samhain because of the ancestral veneration.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

A grovie commissioned me to make a small Persephone doll.  I wanted to share some of my process.  Every doll I make starts with an idea.  They are usually inspired by mythology, nature, or a combination.  I sometimes translate them into concept drawings but not always.

Next comes fabric selection.  As I’m still working with my client on clothing, I worry about the actual doll body first.  She’ll be wearing a peplos and I wanted the rest of her body to look natural as opposed to using different colored fabric for legs (stockings).  I used some tea and coffee grounds to dye white knit fabric to a more fleshy color.  The result was a pale cream.  Perhaps not quite Mediterranean, but she is an Underworld deity.  😉

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

Next comes the pattern. I’ve been working hard to develop my own doll patterns. Using other peoples’ is generally frowned upon. Many are protected and, therefore, illegal to use when making work to sell. I seem to always be tweaking my designs. The proportions, the shape of the chin, the fingers, the feet, the breast size… I’m always tweaking.

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012

Sometimes, even after cutting out the fabric pieces, even after stitching everything together, I’m not happy.  I have a few doll heads floating around because I didn’t like the size compared to the rest of the body.  Sometimes the shape is just wrong.  After stitching this doll together, I decided the torso was too long and adjusted it.
After stitching and adjusting, I’ve got a simple doll form ready for facial features, hair, and clothing!  That’s my favorite part.  My bigger dolls are much more complicated with breasts, more fabric sculpting, eyelids, articulated fingers, etc.  These smaller forms are fun, though, in that they aren’t as frustrating!

As I craft my dolls, I light incense and say prayers to Brighid, patroness of the arts.  While making a deity idol such as this, I meditate and chant during some of the work.  It’s up to the eventual owner to do further work with the deity to truly make it their home, but I start the process with love and care.

I intend to update as Persephone comes into being.  Stay tuned!

Read Full Post »

“Neptune” by SJ Tucker

If you’re new to Pagan music, or if you’ve heard of SJ Tucker but never gave her a chance – check out her latest music video. It’s absolutely gorgeous and accompanies one of my favorite songs. I think its fantastic that she’s making her own music videos now. If you like it, support the artist and buy the song or album, “Mischief.” I highly recommend it!

Read Full Post »

Blodeuwedd’s Body

I’ve been working on a commission today – a doll version of Blodeuwedd.  I’m having a lot of fun designing and creating her based on my customer’s desires.  I will be emphasizing her owl form.  I’ll continue  to share photos of my progress.  Here’s her assembled body with built-in stand.  I’ll begin her face and attach the head soon.

Read Full Post »

Can’t get your head around the Oak/Holly King cycle? « The Bardic Blog.

I generally don’t consider the Oak and Holly King in my rituals. They don’t seem to be part of traditional Celtic lore. At least, I haven’t seen them anywhere… That said, the actual trees do play a role in our seasonal observations. Damh’s thoughts have been helpful to me in rethinking their place in modern Druidic lore. Perhaps I should think less of them as Gods, as seems to be the case in Wicca, and more as Nature Spirits?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »