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Posts Tagged ‘ritual tools’

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An experimental quilt and applique piece I made for a friend and grovie, April, while she was going through a difficult time.  She had lost access to her altars, and I made this to represent the Three Hallows until she regained access.  Craft and Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

I sometimes fret that I’m not as prolific as I used to be. My Druid studies have slowed down, for sure, but my crafting has as well! I often lament how I don’t get to flex my artisan muscles the way I used to now that I’m so often occupied with a little one. I used to sell my one of a kind art dolls at local shows. I never made a ton of money, but it was enough to keep up with my hobby. The positive feedback from customers really raised my spirits and kept me going, pushing me to work harder at expressing my vision of the Three Kindreds.

I recently vented about just that, more or less, to another talented mama.  When I got home, after having dinner, I got to work on a going-away gift for a grovie.  It was a simple craft, one that would not take days to complete.  Most of my work is like that these days, with the exception of the quilt I made for the recent baby saining.  I realized that most of my work these days become gifts to family members, ritual objects for myself or my protogrove, or gifts for grovies – my spiritual family.  The later is just another way that I give of myself to uplift my community.  My grovies give so much of themselves to help our protogrove flourish – I love to give back to them.  Until I started to think about this topic, I didn’t realize how much effort I put into perfecting my crafts to benefit my spiritual family.  Here are some of the recent pieces I’ve made for my tribe.

 

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A needlepoint experiment that came out very well!  I made this for Tan to remind her that she has the strength of a battle Goddess!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

 

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My latest needlepoint – a gift for a grovie moving away after he retires from the army.  That’s honestly the hardest part of having a Pagan group near a military base… Jacob will be missed!  I included a very meaningful quote from one of our favorite chants.  I’m happy with the needlework but I think I could have done a better job gluing it into the frame.  I hope he doesn’t mind!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

 

 

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A felt Goddess ornament I made for our last Winter Solstice gift exchange.  She went home with Andrew.  She was a first foray into needlepoint.  Craft and Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

 

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Although I haven’t had a chance to make the more complex dolls I used to sell at craft shows, I continue to make smaller, simpler versions for altars or children.  I made this girl gnome as a baby shower gift for Cassandra’s little one.  Very simple, mostly because she needed to be free of choking hazards, but also very satisfying!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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I started to explore the concept of crane bags back when I was pregnant.  I made a small bag specific to my pregnancy and desires for delivery.  The linked post is also where I shared the basics of what a crane bag actually is and where it comes from in Irish lore.

Later, I decided to make a larger crane bag to carry with me during ritual and outdoor treks to the forest shrine.  I looked to the oak tree as my inspiration.  I’m still quite fond of how it turned out, and I continue to add special pins to the strap.

My latest crane bag is actually a commission for a friend and member of Northern Rivers Protogrove.  She picked out and purchased the fabric (complete with actual cranes!) and we looked at different types of bags for inspiration.  I ended up making my own pattern based on a photo we liked.  I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I love the colors she chose.

Crane Crane Bag by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Picked up a locally made candle and gathered some fallen rowan berries for later magical use.

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Fire is a sacred element in Druidic ritual and cosmology.  As a result, it is almost always present at our rituals.  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

 

Have you ever wondered what Druids use in magic and ritual?  Due to the variety of Druidic traditions that exist, an exhaustive list of tools is impossible.  That said, here are some of the more common paraphernalia:

  • Fire – A usual element in most religious traditions, fire holds a special place in the Druid’s heart.  It is at the center of almost every ritual in the form of a bonfire or candle.  In the home, fire is represented by the hearth fire, or stove.  It symbolizes the comforts of civilization, the inspiration from the Gods, and the powers of transformation.
  • Cauldron – Although cauldrons are often thought of as a witch’s tool, they have their place of honor in Druidic tradition too – in part thanks to an Irish story about An Dagda and his magical cauldron that provided food according to need and worthiness.  And we musn’t forget the Welsh story of Ceridwen and her cauldron of magic!  The cauldron can also be a representation of sacred wells – vessels of water that connect us to the Otherworld.  Indeed, many Druids often put water in their cauldrons to symbolize this.  If a cauldron cannot be found, a simple bowl may be used.  In addition to Otherworldly associations, the cauldron can represent the waters of life, the magical powers of the divine world, and healing.
  • Wands and Staves – Wands and staves can be used to direct energy.  There are many Celtic stories about Druids utilizing these tools, such as the story of Cormac Mac Art and his silver apple wand from the God Manannan mac Lir.  As in other magical traditions, they are used to direct energy.  Some Druids use them to open gates between the worlds.  On a practical level, many Druids also use staves while taking nature walks for balance and protection.  The type of tree wands and staves originate from are often chosen with special care, and, although there is no substitute for an actual grove of trees, these tools can stand in as representations of them.  Trees are central to Druidic cosmology and rarely omitted from ritual.
  • Sickles – Pliny the Elder described ancient Druids in Gaul ritualistically cutting mistletoe from an oak tree with a golden sickle.  Because of this reference, some Druids utilize the sickle in their ceremonies and magical workings.  They may be used to harvest plants or direct energies similar to wands.  Some traditions use sickles in oath keeping; the blade is placed against the throat while the person swears to complete a task.  This is not done to physically threaten the person, but to remind him or her that the spirits of Justice take oaths very seriously.
  • Cloaks – Ancient Druids wrapped themselves in the hides of newly slain bulls to meditate and communicate with the divine.  Many modern Druids use cloaks for such workings.  Although one does not need a cloak to participate, on the practical level cloaks are perfect for cold rituals in the snow!
  • Divination Tools – Although augury was one of the most popular forms of divination, there is some evidence that ancient Druids used tools to discern messages from the Otherworld.  Modern Druids may use a wide variety of divination tools – ogham, runes, tarot cards, the Druid Animal Oracle, or even coins.  Often, these are stored in a special bag and may be poured or read on a consecrated cloth.

Although it can be very exciting to add to your Druid toolbox, it is important to remember that the greatest instruments you have are your brain and senses.  A person may have all the above tools, but without a proper grounding in history, lore, and the realities of the natural world, they will be as good as toys.  Finally, a Druid must have compassion for the natural world, and not confuse obtaining magical tools with materialistic goals.  Often, Druids work hard to create their own tools from locally harvested materials, or they look to trusted artisans who use ethically obtained resources.

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Blue Moon Workings

Quartz and white stones soaking up some wonderful blue moon energy this evening.

 

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I rent in a place that hires landscapers to maintain the property.  When the light half of the year begins again, they come on the same day each week to mow, trim hedges, and remove weeds.  I’m an incredibly protective gardener and would rather they stay away most of the time.  I’m always worried they’ll hurt one of my plants, break a pot, or something…  Each year, I always seem to have an accidental crop in the mulch.  This year I have some leeks and carrots growing there that I don’t want them to destroy.

I was home for lunch so I took the time to water my lovely garden.  One of the landscapers came by to compliment it and ask if there was anything he should know about so he doesn’t destroy a plant.  Huzzah!  We talked a bit and laughed how we’re both plant hoarders.

While at work, Weretoad sent me a text to say the landscapers accidentally broke my garden hose with the weed-whacker.  They were trimming the juniper bush (which had gotten extremely out of control) and the hose hooks up behind it.  I could totally see how it would be possible.  When I came home, I found that they fixed the hose.

Things like that restore my faith in humanity.

Now I have a bunch of little juniper fronds to dry for smudge wands.

 

 

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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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