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Posts Tagged ‘North Country’

 

 

We weren’t the only family enjoying a nice walk by the pond on the trail. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

If you live in the Watertown area of Jefferson County, NY, and you’re looking for an easy hike to commune with nature away from the crowds that usually populate Thompson Park, I highly suggest the Calcium Trail.  Right off Rt. 11, it’s very accessible and relatively private.  There’s a parking lot and the trail is very well-maintained.  We went in the early afternoon.  While there were a few other people jogging, it was a very quiet place.  Several markers line the gravel path indicating the length you’ve traveled or highlighting the biodiversity.  There’s a lot of that: wildflowers, songbirds, squirrels, waterfowl, and rodents (we saw a few dead voles… were they hit by bikers in the dark?  Kind of weird…)

The Calcium Trail is 2.1 miles all the way.  Since we’re getting back into shape and had Bee with us (snug in her carrier), we decided to walk half the trail and turn around.  In total, we walked roughly 2 miles.  It is not a loop, so you’ll have to plan on turning around regardless of whether you walk the whole length or not.  Along with the trail makers, there are some places for you to stop and enjoy the natural surroundings – wooden bridges, benches, and a gazebo area with picnic tables.  If you are in the Watertown area and seeking a quiet place to meditate or commune with nature that isn’t very busy, this seems like an excellent trail to visit.  While we just went to walk and enjoy nature, I definitely want to revisit and do some meditation.

A few caveats:

1) There wasn’t a restroom at the end we explored, so make sure you take that into consideration.

2) There is also a very small playground at the gazebo area, meaning you may go expecting quiet and discover some noisy children playing.  That said, there are plenty of other quiet areas to enjoy.

3) There isn’t a lot of shade on the Rt. 11 end, so dress appropriately, especially if you’re bringing a little one along for the ride!

4) Fire is not allowed.  If you are hoping to do a private or small group ritual, you’ll need to find an alternative to bonfires or candles.  Given the picnic table, a small birthday cake style candle probably wouldn’t attract much negative attention.  Otherwise, don’t forget that the sun is the Earth’s original sacred fire!

5) Similar to the fire rule, visitors are asked not to leave anything.  This is a conservation area, so keep that in mind if you intend to make an offering.  Consider charging some water with your gratitude so as to not disrupt the environment.

 

 

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If you’ve been reading my blog for the past year, you know I’ve been working towards building an ADF Druidic community here in the North Country.  It started in June with a “coffee hour,” and progressed into a few study group meetings – the first in Watertown and the second in Carthage.  Our Facebook group has grown and, while discussion comes and goes, the interest remains.  We’ve even attracted someone right across the border in Canada!

Our next gathering is coming up this weekend and it is going to be a bit more than a study group meeting – I’m actually planning a ritual to frame the opening and closing of our time together.  The purpose is to celebrate the new season and honor the Nature Spirits for their bounty.  Since the group has been discussing Nature Spirits, it seemed right to make them the focus of this ritual.  We’ll also discuss our next planned ritual, Samhain.

Last weekend, I met with two of the study group members.  They have both been very involved since the very first meeting – I felt they were ready to help me organize something bigger.  The Autumn Equinox rite coming up is going to be very casual so as to “blend in” at the public park we’re meeting in.  Since it’s our first ritual, I don’t want it to be too involved.  Everyone is still learning and the less they have to keep track of, the better it will be.  All the same, I will be sure everyone is involved in some way so they experience a sense of ownership and I don’t feel alone on stage.  I’m hoping this only grows at Samhain.  We’re still working on finding a more private yet accessible location for that rite… and we have a possibility in the works.

When Weretoad and I left Muin Mound’s Autumn Equinox rite, he lamented the possibility of growing apart from them through forming a new group.  I worried the same thing.  We discussed it some as we took the long drive home.  I asked him if he would be happier if I abandoned the possibility of starting a protogrove, but he insisted that I shouldn’t because he knows it’s important to me.  I found myself asking why is it important.  Am I just looking to play leader?

Reflecting on my life, I always end up in such positions.  I dare say it’s natural for me.  I started clubs as a child, was elected president of a literature club in college, and was elected scribe in two Pagan groups.  I naturally like to facilitate and organize, especially when I see a desire in the community.  Someone has to step up and help make things happen.  I like to make things happen, even when it stresses me out.  (Don’t even get me started on organizing parties – I love doing that too…)

But it isn’t just my desire to make things happen.  There really is a desire in the North Country for something other than Wicca.  Not only that, but there’s a desire for open community.  Covens are hard to find, but ADF Druidism is all about opening its doors. This doesn’t come without some complications, but it’s necessary for such a group to be out there.  I think most Pagans are into security and safety, but not everyone is into extreme secrecy.  Some of us just want to come together, form friendships, educate/learn, work magic, and worship the Kindreds.  I read about other groves who meet every month – sometimes twice a month! – to share discussion, healing, and fellowship.  I used to be part of such a group in the Utica area and I loved it.  I still get excited to see the people I met through that group.  It’s not that I don’t get excited to see my grovemates in Syracuse – but I can’t see them as often because of proximity.  I miss being able to meet without it being a big day trip.  I miss being able to say, “Hey, who wants to meet for tea and casual Pagan discussion tonight?” without worrying about gas prices and getting home at a decent time for bed.

I truly hope this study group turns into something more.  Like my husband, I will miss seeing Muin Mound as often when the study group matures… but I know we won’t lose touch.  Hell, I’m already plotting ways for the North Country group and Muin Mound to get together!

At the same time, I’m not going to count my chickens before they hatch.  The study group still has a lot of work to do to become something more.  I don’t want to embark on the protogrove boat alone – I need to know everyone has my back and that we’re in it together.  Perhaps by next June, we’ll be ready.

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Today, the Watertown Daily times reported that there’s going to be a haunted walk in historic Sackets Harbor!  Based on actual ghost stories from the area, local drama students will lead guests through the streets by lantern.  It’s supposed to be a similar experience to the Haunted Walks in Ottawa and Kingston.  Considering that there is a battlefield from the War of 1812 in town, I’m sure there will be some good stories!  And here I was just telling my friends that such an event should exist in the North Country!  Ask and receive, I guess?

If you’re from the Watertown area and have an interest in the paranormal, this is an event you’ll want to make!  It will be a great way to celebrate the Samhain spirit.  Not only that, but the admission will go towards the drama students.

For more information, check out the article.

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Wellspring did more than invigorate my desire and need for further study and practice – it woke up a desire to create community.

Before I moved to the North Country, a couple friends and I started to play with the idea of starting a protogrove in the Mohawk Valley.  I requested that a fellow Druid to do a reading for me, asking if this was the right time.  Normally, I’m more DIY about such things, but he is a grove leader, number one, and needed to do readings for others as part of his initiation.  The omens suggested that it was not the right time.  I knew it was correct in my heart.  I was planning my wedding, preparing to graduate and find a full-time job…  Little did I know then that I would be moving out of the area!  Shortly after the reading, my other friends moved to Albany and that was that.  I concentrated on my other obligations and strengthened my bonds with Muin Mound Grove in Syracuse.  They’ve become a family to me, which makes it hard to even consider going in this direction, but I don’t anticipate any drastic changes in the near future.  Growth will be as fast as a speeding oak!  Focusing on Muin Mound helped mature me, preparing me for this possibility.  Not only do I feel more grounded in and knowledgable about Druidism and ADF, but I feel stronger spiritually than I did then.  I’m more practiced and experienced.  There are many miles and twists on the path before me, but I’m in a better place to once more feel the waters – one toe at a time!

As I attended ADF’s national meeting at Wellspring, hearing about the newly formed groves filled me with inspiration.  Could that happen in the North Country?  So often, I hear about solo Druids who send out feelers…then suddenly there’s a grove! With grad school done, I suddenly felt in my heart that it’s the right time to explore.

I recently joined two local Pagan groups on FB – purely for networking and forming friendships in my area.  Whenever I’ve introduced myself to new people, there’s always been one or two who said, “That sounds interesting!  I’d love to learn more!”  I shared my thoughts with my husband, who is also an ADF member now, and he encouraged me to look into it.  Suddenly, I found myself taking the initiative and setting up a Druidic “coffee hour” for this weekend.  A few people have responded that they intend to be there!  I’m very excited.  Who knows if this will turn into anything bigger, but it’s a positive step in the right directions.  I have to take the initiative.  As much as I love my grove, I yearn for local community.  Seeing how tight and active other groves are made me wish I were closer to Muin Mound for weekly or bi-monthly gatherings.  Right now, it’s impossible for us!  As we grow, and possibly expand our family, I’m sure it will become harder.  Something here would be amazing!  And Muin Mound would be a day trip away for two-grove gatherings, games, rituals etc.

I’m planning to keep things very informal and basic for this first meeting.  I want to get to know the interested people and share rather than lecture.  I pray Brighid grants me grace and eloquence  and helps me, possibly, start to form a tribe in the North Country.  How awesome would that be?  I can’t really count my chickens before they hatch, but I can dream, right?

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Communal Spirit: Upcoming Lecture Series at the North Country Arts Council « F that S.

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