Posts Tagged ‘Nature Spirits’
Ever since Muin Mound Grove made candles with old candle wax for an Imbolc workshop years ago, I decided that I should try my hand at the hobby. It felt so right given my growing relationship with Brighid. A friend of mine made candles for awhile – huge, beautiful pieces of art, really. She gifted some to me, and the care she put into them… They were and are full of magic, whether she believes in that or not. I don’t think she’s made any for awhile, but they really inspired me. A grovemate made some in tins last year and gifted one to me before she moved away. I remember telling her that I kept meaning to try my hand at it again, and she was very encouraging.
This Winter Solstice, some family members thoughtfully gave me gift cards to arts and craft stores. I used some of the money toward a candle making kit. It was a very simple kit with enough ingredients to make six soy votives in glass candle holders. I broke into it today and had a lot of fun. Before I started, I made an offering to Brighid as I consider this devotional work.
The kit was very easy to use. I know I need to improve my method of securing the wicks to their dowels. Soy was very easy to work with, and I always prefer soy to paraffin, but I know I want to focus mostly on beeswax as it is one of the safest, cleanest waxes to use. I also know there are several beekeepers in the area, and working with a local, sustainable material that supports local bee populations is incredibly important to me. I’m not concerned with scents so I did not use the vanilla scent block that came with the kit. I’m not sure what it’s made out of and I’m very concerned with the purity of ingredients. As I learn, I may experiment with using natural fragrances for magical purposes, but I’m a huge fan of that simple beeswax smell.
I have a growing list of tools I need to improve as well as other things I want to try. I’m hoping to pop in the local antique store this week. The owner has some kitchen bowls that aren’t too much money, if I remember correctly. That way I could reuse older materials without contaminating my kitchenware.
My next goal is to make simple hand-dipped candles for Imbolc, and my grove is also talking about making some soy crystal candles for our holiday workshop.
‘Tis the season for new beginnings and new activities, and as the wheel turns toward Imbolc, it’s such an appropriate time for me to learn these skills and incorporate them into my practice.
Posted in Druidism, tagged ADF, Celtic mythology, Christianity, Christmas, Druidism, Gods and Goddesses, Nature Spirits, Norse mythology, Pagan parenting, stress, traditions, winter, Winter Solstice, Yule on November 25, 2016| 5 Comments »
I posted this on my private FB feed today, but I decided that I wanted to share it here too. If you are a friend or you happen to follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been very supportive of the Water Protectors in North Dakota. You know I’ve been sharing news stories that, otherwise, many may not be exposed to on television. I have not done anything on my blog, so I wanted to share this because, every year, I seem to do an annual grumble about Thanksgiving. So ’tis the season! Seriously, though, I feel very strongly about this. It feels hypocritical.
I shared this link to “The Women of Standing Rock are Midwifing a Global Movement” and said this on it:
“A nation isn’t defeated until the hearts of their women are on the ground.” Powerful words. Watch the videos in the link.
Going into the month of November, ideas swirl in my mind. I think of Thanksgiving, something that has, symbolically, become more unsavory as I grow and learn. Autumn Equinox is when my immediate family and my people get together to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest – literal and metaphorical. This other day of gratitude in November is so tied up with the dominant culture’s damaging lies, perpetuating the idea that everyone got together and it’s all okay. I don’t think I can do that this year, not anymore, not even as a facade to make family happy, when this is happening. Even if it only gets my family to think about it more… but imagine if more of us said no. We didn’t go to or tune into Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade; we didn’t buy all those turkeys and canned sweet potatoes; we didn’t fuel the greed machine by participating in Black Friday. Imagine the message that would send… I think that’s something I need to consider doing and sticking to this year. If not now, when?
Know that I will not judge those of you who still want to gather with your family. Being with family is always a good thing. Giving thanks is always a good thing. Do use the time to discuss and meditate on the cultural symbolism of the day, though. You cannot ignore that, especially with everything going on. I can’t leave my home, my family, and my job to join the protest – even somewhat local gatherings. I have responsibilities in the form of loans and rent to pay. I keep lamenting that I don’t have enough money to send the Water Protectors to help them maintain their camps and pay their legal fees, but what if we didn’t spend some money on factory farmed turkeys (or Tofurkeys in my case) and, instead, sent that to the camp? What if we all did that act?
Either way, if you support the Water Protectors like I do, let’s send a strong message this November and show our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters that our love of the Earth, the Nature Spirits, and Ancestors of Place is not just lip service.
I traveled to Lake Placid with my husband and daughter this past weekend. On our way, we stopped to climb Mt. Arab near Tupper Lake, NY. It’s a small mountain, but the trail is maintained, it’s very family-friendly, and the view is worth it. Plus, it’s part of the Tupper Lake Triad! Completing it will motivate us to hold onto our dream of becoming 46ers (someday)!
We had a picnic lunch near the summit. We were blessed with a beautiful autumn day – it was even a little warm. Something about sitting on bare mountain makes me feel closet to Mama Earth.
There’s a fire tower at the top, allowing for even more spectacular views of some of the high peaks of the Adirondacks in the distance. The photos doesn’t do it justice, unfortunately! Bee grew fearful of the wind up in the fire tower, so I didn’t get to gaze out as long as I would have liked. Luckily, there are plenty of rocky areas with views such as the first image I shared. I could have sat there for while; I would have loved to meditate. Unfortunately, due to the agreeable weather on a weekend, it was a busy destination. Between that and Bee’s antsy toddler antics, I didn’t have a lot of time for quiet contemplation.
Still, it was a great opportunity to get outside and commune with nature in one of my favorite places on Earth. Bee did a fantastic job climbing the mountain. My husband carried her for a bit to the summit, but she did most of the mile round-trip hike independently. I’m so proud of her! There was plenty of nature to inspire all of us – huge boulders, some with interesting patterns, tiny mushrooms, woodpeckers, and, or course, the magnificent autumn foliage!
Even though I didn’t get to treat the hike like a spiritual, stress-free retreat, I realize how lucky I am to take my family on such excursions. We are healthy, we have transportation, and we have weekends off to enjoy the outdoors together. We live relatively close to the amazing Adirondacks! This is the foundation, and I hope it helps Bee continue to form a meaningful relationship to the natural world.
There’s something hauntingly beautiful about the Adirondack Mountains. I used to spend just about every weekend of my childhood summers swimming in lakes, fishing off docks, climbing small mountains, and hiking through forest trails. It was where I first learned to truly treasure the wild places that have, in many areas, vanished. It was where I grew into an animist. I always felt a sense of something there – spirits. Very old spirits. I felt how sacred and connected it all was, and I felt it flow in and through me. It is different from the forests around my childhood home and my new home. They are very special to me as well, but they are less wild. There is more sound and light pollution. Roads interrupt their power. Not that the Adirondacks lacks that, but there’s a greater effort to reduce it. (Although I could be romancing it as someone who does not live there…) When I’m away for long, I feel it calling. I feel the mountains and lakes calling. When driving on Rt 11 through Lewis County, I always look towards the Adirondack Mountains in the distance, rising beyond the rolling hills. Last week, we returned to answer the call and renew our wild spirit. Here are some of our experiences.
Decay never looked so magical. My husband and I mused on the nature of animism, life, and death while hiking near the Raquette River in Tupper Lake. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.
It’s a bit blurry, but I was proud to stumble upon some Indian Pipe flowers in the forest. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.
I learned a little more about a new spirit ally at the Wild Center. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.
Some of the High Peaks as seen from the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY. We all enjoyed our time there. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.
We also visited the Ausable River. There’s a place to pull off on the road and a very short trail into the trees. It’s a catch and release area, but we just wanted to see the river. I had to sit quietly for a bit to take her in, then sang a song of offering. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.
On a whim, we decided to explore a trail across the street from the Ausable River. It lead to the Copperas Pond. I wouldn’t call it an easy hike, as it went up some slight inclines and involved some scrambling over very rocky terrain. It was challenging with a three-year-old, but she was so determined to do most of it by herself. The end result was worth it – an isolated pond free from motor boats. It was so quiet… we couldn’t even hear the traffic on the other side of the wooded hill we climbed over. It’s apparently a popular hike, as there were other people in and out, but the traffic wasn’t so much that we weren’t able to enjoy lots of peaceful moments. I definitely had to take off my hiking shoes and put my feet in to fully immerse myself in the Three Realms. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.
I already look forward to returning, possibly in the Autumn. We hope to climb a small mountain now that Bee has officially caught the hiking spirit. With any luck, she feels the pull of the mountain too, and the family tradition of exploring and honoring the Adirondacks will continue.
As Lughnasadh starts to turn us towards the Autumn Equinox, and as it is the beginning of the major harvests, I find myself reflecting on the successes and failures of our little container garden. Each year, we learn more about our plant allies. Each year, through a mixture of experience and research, we recognize opportunities for growth and improvement.Not pictured is the basket of tomatoes we gathered, mostly from my husband’s hydroponic buckets. In addition, I also gathered some basil and sage which I hung to dry. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our own cupboards.
I’m also thinking on my metaphorical harvest. I’ve had a fairly productive and joyful summer. My family hasn’t faced as many struggles this season. I have had more opportunities to do things that make my soul sing. I have room to improve, but the harvest is stil good. As we move toward Autumn, I’m already preparing a fall garden. I’m also making new goals – things to sew, books to finish, essays to write… May my next harvest be just as, or more, successful!