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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

I’ve been working on a nighttime prayer to say with my daughter and I think I’ve finally settled on wording that I like. What do you think?

“Goodnight Prayer” by Grey Catsidhe

Goodnight moon and goodnight sun
Goodnight every Shining One

Goodnight lake and goodnight pond
Goodnight loved ones from beyond

Goodnight Earth and goodnight tree
Goodnight nature all ’round me

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A White Coral Fungi – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013

Originally, Northern Rivers Protogrove was going to meet today for a workshop and discussion.  That’s going to be rescheduled, but it gave me some free time to engage with Druidism in other ways.   I did something I’ve not felt up to in months – I took a walk in the forest. That’s right! It’s nice and cool so I donned a sweatshirt, long pants, and sneakers and crossed the hedge with offerings stuffed in my pockets.  I’ve missed the forest greatly, especially the clarity that comes from visiting.  It has the ability to put all of my petty worries into perspective and calm me into a more rational state when the less-than-petty things pile up.  Not to mention, I really needed to reestablish contact with the local wild spirits.  It had been way too long.

I spent a majority of my spring and summer focused, as many other Pagans, on birth and life.  Indeed, there was much life in the forest – white coral fungi, the chattering of chipmunks and squirrels, green leaves clinging to trees, and lots of ravenous mosquitos!  Returning to the forest, I was suddenly struck by so much decay.  There were large gray mushrooms littered across the forest floor that had been partially eaten by other creatures.  I’d never really thought about it before – the fungi that feed on the dead are, in turn, food for the living.  Life and death are two sides of the same coin and exist together in a dance we often don’t witness or care to admit knowledge of.

Driving the point home, I came across a very sad sight – a dying red squirrel.  He or she startled me at first because I frightened the poor thing.  S/he struggled to move, flopping clumsily, face pressed into the ground, before once more collapsing into a heap.  I watched, scared stiff that I might have stumbled onto a rabid creature, yet also deeply sad for the tiny life that was passing before me.  I didn’t see any wounds or foam at the mouth, so I’m not sure what brought about the squirrel’s demise.  I recognize the fact of death, and I think I’ve come to a certain mature understanding of it despite the sadness it still brings me.  It’s the sight of suffering that impacted me so.  I don’t often feel that when I see half-eaten mushrooms and I couldn’t help but wonder – were they also suffering – in stillness?  After all, the sight of a maimed tree makes my heart tighten – so why not a mushroom?  Even while recognizing the reality of death, there is nothing wrong with feeling sorrow that another must suffer.

Yet how to deal with that suffering?  Sometimes people talk about starfish washing up on the beach; you can’t put them all back.  Watching the squirrel writhe in pain then collapse, I felt helpless. I did what most people in such situations do – I prayed.  I wasn’t sure who to pray to.  I prayed to An Morrigan.  I prayed to An Cailleach.  I prayed to the spirit of the forest.  I prayed that the squirrel would not suffer long and would find peace in the Otherworld.

 

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Now that Baby Bee is here, I’m struggling to maintain my previous Druidic practices.  The various study programs I’ve been working on in ADF?  If I was slow before, I’m going to be at a snail’s pace now!  My nightly devotionals have ceased for the time being due to exhaustion.  I’m on the baby’s schedule right now and not my own.  It’s difficult to attempt trance or long meditation since she could need feeding, changing, or comforting.  And this blog entry has been a draft for days.

I don’t feel any guilt about it.  Do I miss my usual workings?  Of course, but The Kindreds get it.  Brighid is very concerned with mothers and children so I feel nothing but support from her.  My ancestors include mothers who understand.  Rearing children is natural, so the Nature Spirits don’t object to my decreased visits.

But I try my best and do what I can, when I can.  Just as I haven’t cut ties with my family and friends to care for the baby, the Kindreds are deserving of love and gratitude – even if it’s in smaller, less-frequent doses.

The easiest thing for me to do has been pray.  I always make a point to give prayers of gratitude before meals, for example.  Now I’ve noticed myself getting back into making offerings here and there.  A cup of spicy tea for Brighid here, a beautiful and fresh strawberry for the Nature Spirits there.

These are small gestures but it’s important to me that I express my gratitude to the Kindreds in some way.

In the meantime, I’m planning a little ritual to  introduce Baby Bee to the Kindreds within my hearth and home.  I’m also discussing a more formal saining ceremony with Rev. Skip Ellison of Muin Mound Grove.

These little things are important.  They are my stepping stones back to regular Druidic practice.

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Today I received word that my Devotional Practice essay passed review!  I’m posting it here for you to read.

 

Since completing my “Art Muse Essay” in 2010, I’ve been working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits, most of which involve fabric and fiber.  Seán Ó Duinn, author of The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint, explained several Irish customs and beliefs linking Brighid to fabric, fiber, and traditionally female art, in addition to her well-known association with blacksmithing.  Upon learning about her textile associations, I felt even more strongly that I should thank her for the talent and inspiration she blesses me with.  In an effort to build a stronger relationship with her, I’ve done my best to perform a very simple rite each time I embark on creative projects.

In my “Art Muse Essay”, I explained that I was lighting a candle for her prior to artistic work.  This practice has evolved over that last few years.  Originally, I was using the same candle I light on my flame keeping shift as part of my work with the Brighid’s Hearth SIG.  I have since decided that I want to save that candle for my flame keeping shifts or healing work.  They are less frequent whereas I am always sewing, crocheting, felting, or drawing something!  I required an alternative – something specific to my artistic rite.

Somewhere along the way I decided that incense would be a good offering.  Unverified personal gnosis told me to offer “fiery” blends.  Brighid seems very pleased with cinnamon, clove, and sunny-smelling lemongrass.  I’ve offered floral blends before, such as heather, and the incense tends not to burn fully.  It’s as if Brighid says she’s had enough and pinches it out.  Occasionally, when I am feeling ill and worry that incense will bother my senses, I have offered cups of herbal tea.  Once more, I use cinnamon or other “fiery spices.”  The blend of fire, water, and herbs is very pleasing to her and I have had good experiences with this offering as well.

Prior to beginning my work, I stand before Brighid’s altar.  It sits above my stove, which feels like the most appropriate place given her fiery associations.  I then light a stick or cone of incense and say the prayer I wrote.  Like my ritual of thanks, it has gone through several revisions.

Lady Brighid

Great Goddess of arts and crafts

You who put the fire in my head

You who bless me with talent and inspiration –

I thank you for your blessings.

I pray that you continue to bless me with talent and inspiration.

I pray that my art improves and continues to bring a smile to you.

May you know my love, gratitude, and worship in all I say and do.

May I bring honor to you in my work!

Lady Brighid, please accept my offering!

I then place the incense in its holder and begin my workings.  The scent wafts through my home and reminds me of her presence.  I try my best to do this act of devotion every day I set about artistic pursuits.  Although I have not felt the need, I can imagine myself using this rite, with an altered prayer, to ask for inspiration.  Thus far, Brighid puts the fire in my head almost every day, and there has been no drought of projects for me to embark on!

Since beginning to perform this personal rite, I have felt my bond with Brighid grow and strengthen.  I frequently receive bursts of inspiration and feel her warmth regularly.  I believe this to be reciprocity.  I ask for inspiration, receive it, and send her my thanks and gifts of incense purchases especially for her.   The cycle continues! I’ve felt a deeper connection to my artistic pursuits – and not just with regards to Brighid.  I have started to recognize a deepening bond to my female ancestors, especially when I practice very traditional arts such as hand stitching and spinning with a drop spindle.  I wonder about my old Irish ancestors.  Did they remember Brighid, as the Goddess or Saint, on Imbolc?  Did they think of her when they knit a warm sweater?  Did they have a cherished bit of fabric that they put out each Imbolc eve to use as a healing object?  I wonder, imagine, and feel myself becoming a part of a large tapestry of tradition going back into antiquity.

The only negative aspect of my artistic rite to Brighid is that I feel my relationship with my other patron has been ignored.  I do not feel as bonded and this must be remedied.  Working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits has taught me what it means to live Paganism.  I do not just pay lip service to her on Imbolc, but honor her and thank her each day.  I know I can do this in other areas of my life, thus deepening my bonds with other deities and Kindred.  Brighid has inspired me again!

 

Ó Duinn, Seán.  The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint.  Dublin:
Columba Press, 2005.

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My life has once more become hectic.  I feel like I report that in my blog every couple weeks.  Just goes to show how cyclical things are!  This time, the stress has everything to do with getting back into my work schedule.  It’s too easy to come home and collapse!  I haven’t been as spiritually active as usual.  Again, this seems to be cyclical.   Anyway, a fellow flamekeeper’s post on the SIG e-list reminded me that last night was my shift!  So, although it was right around the time of night when hubby and I start to prepare for bed, I took some time and lit the candle for Brighid at her shrine over my stove.  I prayed.  I took several deep, calming breaths.

Hubby really liked the way the wax melted so he snapped this photo.  I think it’s a really beautiful photo and wanted to share it with you.

Photo by Weretoad, 2012

 

 

 

Occasionally, we all feel too busy, too tired, too stressed.  In reality, you probably have a couple minutes to stop and connect with whatever spiritual powers you like.  Chances are you need to.  Go ahead and take that time for yourself.  And don’t feel guilty when you can’t.

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A Little Me Time

I feel like I’m always starting posts with a line about being busy and stressed and blah de blah de blah.  Well, life has been really hectic this year.  I tweeted yesterday about feeling spiritually suffocated.  During these times, I feel so disconnected.  It’s so easy to become depressed in a mire of uninteresting books, reports, and obligations.  Add crushing student loans and high rent to the equation, and it makes me want to escape into Netflix or a book most nights.

Yesterday was good, though.  I got to sleep in for a little, then had a bit of me time after work.  I used it to go into the forest and make some offerings to the local spirits.  It was a gorgeous day – strikingly warm compared to the bitter chill from earlier in the week.  I made offerings to the spirits and picked up some litter.  I smiled at the green pushing up through the brown earth and the red buds on trees.  I delighted in the song of birds.  It felt wonderful. (Still no resins to collect…)

In the evening I stepped onto the patio to observe the lovely full moon.  I actually raised my hands in the air, shut my eyes, and stretched up to that silver wheel.  It felt as if a little charge ran through me and I was ready for another, stressful day.

To be true, today was stressful – but I survived and enjoyed a delicious meal at a favorite restaurant with my husband.  When life hands us lemons, we tend to treat ourselves to dinner.  It’s how we roll.  And whenever I eat, even when stressed, I pray thanks to the spirits.

Little things like that – me time, time to connect, time to slow down – they get me through the rough patches.

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Slowly, slowly – I’m reading through Carmina Gadelica by Alexander Carmichael.  It’s an absolutely fascinating read, and a must for anyone following a Celtic-inspired path.  Although it’s focus is on the Scottish Highlands and surrounding islands, those who have an Irish hearth culture would benefit greatly from its contents.

Anyway, the other day I reached a “Prayer for Protection.”  It is Christian, of course:

Christ be between me and the fairies,

My frown upon each tribe of them!

This day is Friday on the sea and on land –

My trust, O King, that they shall not hear me.

A healthy respect, and even fear, of fairy-folk has existed in Celtic nations for generations.  Today, many Pagans insist that fairies are all light and goodness, possessing an altruism towards humanity.  That can be true for some, especially Tuatha Dé Danann like Brighid, but most (based on lore, my few experiences, and the work of others) are ambivalent, mischievous, and occasionally malicious.  They are part of nature which encompasses the creative as well as the destructive.  Their varied natures should surprise no one.  Thus the above prayer makes a lot of sense, especially considering that many of the people interviewed by Carmichael lived in rural areas and struggled with the hardships of Nature regularly.

In ADF, we work with our allies – some of whom may be considered fairies.  Spirits who do not fit that category are Outsiders (or Outdwellers).  They are spirits who have stood against our Gods, destructive beings, illness, ancestors who don’t care for us… hell even mosquitos can be considered Outsiders in a ritual!  They are not necessarily evil – their goals just don’t align with our own.  Outsiders are a natural part of the cosmos.  When we hold our rites, we ask for our allies to be with us and the Outsiders to leave us in peace.  Every grove goes about this differently.  Some give offerings during ritual, some at the end and only if the rite has gone without disturbance.  Some groups turn their back on the Outsiders while a warrior confronts them.  Others still consider internal stresses and anger to be Outsiders.  They envision them going into a box which is moved out of the ritual space.

The above prayer from Carmina Gadelica could easily be rewritten and used in an ADF rite to ask for protection from the Outsiders.

Kindreds be between me and the Outsiders,

My frown upon each tribe of them!

This day is (Imbolc, Saturday, etc) on the sea and on land-

My trust, Kindreds, that they shall not hear me.

 

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