Posts Tagged ‘ogham’

I’m asking my dear readers to indulge me in a brief, new agey digression.  We all experience them from time to time, right?

Astrology is one of those things that intrigues me but never holds my interest.  It’s very involved.  Many who dismiss it outright are only familiar with the Sunday newspaper variety.  It wasn’t until my old friend Katrina did a workshop on making a natal chart that I realized how much work goes into it!  Put aside any thoughts you have on the validity* and just look at what astrologers put themselves through!  All their charts, longitude, latitude, angles, etc…  Okay, my own ignorance is probably showing and badly.  I’ve never been a mathematical person (despite what my rising sign seems to say), so astrology will probably always be one of those things I appreciate as a curiosity but never seriously practice myself.  I acknowledge it and sometimes feel its influence – especially when things go retrograde.

There is evidence that the ancient Druids knew about and even practiced astrology (Ellis).  They were known for being talented and knowledgable with the ways of the stars and planets.  (Here’s a short but interesting essay by Ellis about it:http://www.radical-astrology.com/irish/miscellany/ellis.html)  Their astrology was certainly not the Celtic Tree Calendar that Robert Graves popularized in The White Goddess (Blamires).  It really is amazing how many people still think that’s authentic…  Anyway, I am very interested in learning about the Irish names for celestial bodies and perhaps gardening according to their movements.  As a side note, I came across this website about creating zodiac gardens according to one’s sun sign.  I was intrigued that two of my favorite trees, birch and oak, were associated with my sign as well as my spirit animal, deer.  Deer makes sense considering Sagittarius’ association with horses and hoofed animals.  I don’t know about the other correspondences…  Might have something to do with fire and strength?   At the moment, I’m slowly working on gardening according to the moon using the methodology suggested to me by local herbalist Sue-Ryn Burns.  I enjoy it purely as a way to better connect with and experience the energies of the lunar cycle.

Today I went to dinner with a couple gal pals.  One of them, Corinne of F that S, is interested in astrology so it occasionally comes up in our conversations.  We were talking about sun signs and how natal charts are made up of more than just that.  She admitted some surprise at my being a Sagittarius and was curious how my chart actually looks.  I dug the old chart Katrina helped me with using http://alabe.com/freechart and found that, in addition to having my sun sign in Sagittarius, Uranus, Venus, and Saturn are also there.  While Neptune is in Virgo, Pisces and my moon sign are in Aquarius (which is also my rising sign).  I have something called the N. Node in Cancer (which is apparently what makes me very loyal and somewhat introverted).  The rest of my chart, Neptune, Pluto, and Mars are in Scorpio (my husband’s sign).  Looking at my chart, it’s very top heavy and a good mix of fire and water with a dash of earth and air.   It’s fun to think about…

Do you ever tinker with or think about astrology?

Some resources: 
Blamires, Steve.  Celtic Tree Mysteries Secrets of the Ogham. Llewellyn, 1997. 
Ellis, Peter Berresford.  A Brief History of The Druids.  Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1994.
Ellis, Peter Berresford.  "Early Irish Astrology: An Historical Argument."  Réalta vol 3 no.3 1996

* I once took a critical thinking class in college (philosophy 101).  The professor made us pick from a list of topics, then research and write about why they are not logical.  I’ve a healthy dose of skepticism, but the limited choices available were pretty insulting.  I ended up choosing to “debunk” astrology purely so I could learn more about it!

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This makes my night.  Geeky Druid squeal!


The Skeptical Druid: The d20 Ogham.

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Nearly a month ago, I posted about visiting a local antique shop and purchasing twin brass bowls.  I knew nothing of their previous use.  How many hands had passed them?  I did not feel anything inherently negative about them (I doubt I would have purchased them if I had), but unless I craft a tool, I like to purify it.  Think what you will of energy, positive or negative: this is what I do and believe.

In 2010, I posted about the moon with regards to Druidism.  Since then, I’ve been trying to work with its energies and phases.  Ian Corrigan created The Nine Moons discipline for would-be initiates of ADF.  The system is still being experimented with, but I’ve lapsed from practice due to the demands of college, family, and work.  The system is either not entirely for me or not meant for me now.  Despite that, I benefited from my time toying with it.  I really connected to my ancestors in a way I never had, and I started to work with the moon.  I paid more attention to it, to my feelings, to the energies around me.  I started to work with it.

The waning moon felt like a perfect time to purify my brass bowls.  Many traditions posit that workings meant to decrease or banish should take place during the waning moon – the time when the lunar wheel appears to decrease.  It is a very sympathetic magic – “like begets like”.  It’s a very symbolic way of going about magic.

With that in mind, I set about my task.  I called to my spiritual allies, made offerings, and went into a light trance.  I used ogham to divine whether this was indeed a good time for such a working and the signs indicated that it was.  I placed the brass bowls on a slab of stone I use to draw sigils of purification on*.  I blessed the bowls in the name of the three realms and the three kindreds.  I blessed them in the name of fire and water while passing them through incense and anointing them with water from my blessed well.  I declared the bowls “whole and holy” and dedicated them to the service of my path.  I let them sit on the slab with sigils overnight.

The bowls will now be put to work on my altar. They are perfect for holding incense and are just the thing I’ve been looking for.  Is there something you’ve been hoping to find for your altar?  Rather than going to a big box store, why not see what’s available at  nearby antique shops?  You’ll never know what treasures you may find, and reusing is very good for Mama Earth.  Use a ritual of purification to welcome the tools to your altar and make them your own!

*There are many ways to make sigils in rituals space.  There are woodcuts of alchemists with various sigils and conjuration patterns on their floors.  I live in an apartment and can't draw on my floors.  It would be a pain to vacuum loose powders out of the carpet.  The stone slab, which gave me permission to bring it inside for magical work, is a great way to get around that and connect to earthy energies.  I use chalk to draw oghams on it according to my purposes.  Outside, you can make sigils on the ground using herbs, differently colored soil, bird seed or twigs.

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Monday was not a fun day.  Well, there were moments of fun, particularly at the end when Weretoad and I started to watch an adorable anime series about a cat named Chi.  Otherwise, it was not a good day.  I don’t feel like going into it – at least right now – but I was definitely not in the right mindset for anything meditative.  I just wanted to sleep.  I did manage to do some divination and my nightly devotional.  Someone I respect once told me that, during the moments when one least wants to pray – those are the moments when one must.  Indeed, the Kindreds bring me strength.

Today I caught up and did my retreat.  Better late than never, right?  I had a much better day.  I feel that my relationship with the Kindreds is growing.  The Ancestors are very interactive when you start giving them more attention.  Actually, a new ancestor greeted me in trance – which was strange because she often had trouble remembering who I was in life.  She thanked me for my hospitality and told me to say hello to my husband on her behalf.  It was very unexpected.  I asked her if she minded that I placed a memento of hers on a Pagan altar (since she was Christian).  She just grinned at me as if that were a stupid thing to ask.

I feel that my eyes and ears have been more opened to the Nature Spirits.  I learn a lot from them about magic and life in general.  After such a stressful Monday, my nature walk was incredibly healing today.  I stayed longer than I thought I would.  Time loses its meaning in the forest.  Pain is less noticeable.  I lose myself in the pine needles, bird song, trout lilies, and mud. I would have stayed longer had I not been spooked by two men running around the forest.  I’m not sure if they saw or heard me, but I did not want to be out with them.  It was a sour reminder of how I must share this forest with others – many complete strangers.  I wonder if they saw/heard me talking to trees?

I felt the Gods strongly during my ritual tonight.  I called to them and felt my blood tingle.  In trance, Brighid and An Dagda came to comfort me about the previous day’s annoyances and uncertainties.  My patrons are sources of strength and encouragement.  They spoke to me of other things – art and trees, mostly.

DSC_0260 I also did some sewing.  I’ve been wanting to make a pouch for my ogham.  Brighid finally put the fire in my head and I got to work!  It’s decorated with felt oak leaves, gold and silver bells (the spirits so love bells), a silver knotwork button, and gold ribbons.  It can be tied over a shoulder or around the hips.

I also started a new tree spirit plush!  I know… it’s been awhile.  They are so much fun to make and I need a new supply for Wellspring and the Etsy shop I keep saying I will open.

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I went to the old birch tree and got the impression that I should visit a younger birch tree so I did.  It wasn’t much younger, but it was closer to the edge of the woods where the many slender birch trees stand, bathing in the winter sun.  Its white bark was hanging off in certain places.  One larger branch had fallen over and was beginning to rot.  Shelf mushrooms bloomed from its pale hide.

Here was the birch as it is often understood in magic.  This birch tree was simultaneously dead and alive.  The dead branch was also transforming into new life – that of mushrooms who will help turn the branch into soil.  That soil will give rise to new trees – possibly bigger, stronger trees who can withstand the North Country weather a little longer than the birch could.  In time, those trees will fall and, eventually, the birch will be the first tree to pioneer the new forest.  That is the way of the birch.

I asked permission to take part of the fallen branch – the part that had yet to succumb to rot – and brought it inside.  I had been contemplating why I was inspired to do that.  What was I going to do with so much birch?  I suddenly realized that I should somehow use part of it to make an offering to the still living part of the birch tree for its very vivid lesson to me.  It seems fitting.  Perhaps I will use the rest to make a wand and some charms for magical workings.  I am still very new to working with ogham and trees but the more I get out into the forest, the more I understand and the more I want to learn.

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