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Posts Tagged ‘ritual’

The following is an account of my continued work with trance as part of ADF’s Trance 1 course, advanced studies towards Initiate status. I’ve decided to share my personal experiences on my blog as a way of accountability. If some of my reflections happen to help others on similar journeys, I hope they share!

This weekend, I decided to work on my inner grove.  I began with my weekly devotional, but I did not utilize any drumming in this trance session. It worked surprisingly well.  After I made my offerings, I focused on my breathing, closed my eyes, and visualized a door open above my altar.  I allowed my spirit form to climb through this and enter a path.  Trees of all sorts grew on either side: ash, apple, birch, pine, etc.  I noticed holly and ferns growing closer to the ground.

One of my spirit guides, a deer, appeared through the trees.  He came from the right.  Suddenly, an otter appeared at my left.  Otter, again.  I stopped to chat and learn the otter’s name.  She’s appeared before and I figured it was time to ask.  Then a bee showed up!  I realized that I now had companions representing all three realms!  I gave offerings that I had on me, and promised more in the physical realm.

We all rode the deer to my inner grove.  There, I took stock and tidied some things.  I noticed the changes since my last visit.  The animals with me went about their business.  Deer ate some plants in the hedge, bee visited the red clovers, and otter jumped in my well, swimming out to the river connected to it.  She is very playful.

At one point, my spirit form laid down, and I actually leaned back in the physical realm too.  I looked up at the canopy circling above.  It was relaxing…  Shortly after that, I decided to return to the physical realm.  I left my spirit guides there until next time.

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… On the cabin window.


I did my morning meditation and yoga on a dock facing Star Lake. It’s been a relaxing Lughnasadh weekend full of swimming, kayaking, board games, and good company. 

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Instead of fireworks, we had a bonfire in the backyard. We did use a few sparklers which delighted my daughter. Plenty of sparkles without all the noise. She made an offering of birdseed to the Nature Spirits. I made offerings of drink to the Ancestors and Gods. I sprinkled juniper berries into the fire for Brighid. It was a simple but lovely night.

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My Summer Solstice celebration started on Saturday. We woke early and headed to Alexandria Bay for Family Day at Boldt Castle. We had to stand in a long line to purchase boat tickets first as the castle is on an island. It was a bright, sunny day… Standing and waiting was exhausting and uncomfortable, but once we boarded the boat, things started to cool down.

We enjoyed our visit but we couldn’t stay very long. I usually take my time to admire the views and architecture of the castle, but we had to run to the Yoga Center for Northern Rivers’ celebration. Still, we had a lovely time in the shade. Bee loved hugging various PBS characters, crafts, and garden activities.

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I did take a moment to admire the new garden with statues depicting the four seasons as maidens.  How very Pagan.  😉  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Riding on the boats and spending time along the St. Lawrence was a perfect beginning to our summer festivities. The cool air in my hair, the motion of the water, flying terns, and several swimming ducks… Although our section of the St. Lawrence is fresh water, it reaches into the Atlantic up in Canada. I felt the spirit of Manannan, and carried that joy with me to the ritual later.

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Mama
 and baby ducks on the St. Lawrence River.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Ritual with the protogrove went well. We had our ritual closer to the Yoga Center’s main building in the shade of several maple trees. Many of us missed the stone circle, but it was such a hot day, especially for our youngest guests. We honored Manannan mac Lir with offerings of song, whiskey, and a wreath (wheel) of yellow flowers to pay our “rent.” For our magical working, we made small paper doors with our goals for the season. We verbalized those goals, putting our intentions out there, and prayed that Manannan will help clear the mist and doors that may block our way. It was a new working for us, but many people expressed approval. Some were quite moved by the experience.

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Our 
altar to Manannan mac Lir.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Last night’s full moon called my little family outside. We followed fireflies and giggled as some crawled on our hands and feet. We pranced in the cool evening air…

Today, the day of the Solstice, I went outside in the morning to greet the sun and harvest some herbs – lemon balm, sage, and mugwort. After work, I took a small side trip to the local river near my home. I walked to the edge and took a deep breath. Calling to the local river spirit and Manannan, I spoke of my gratitude for their many blessings. I dropped three yellow leaves into the river. I found them along the bank and assigned love, gratitude, and reverence to each. I left with a bit of litter in my hands. When dealing with local spirits, I’ve found the best offerings are care and respect. For dinner tonight – a cooling salad so I don’t have to cook in the heat!

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice if you’re south of the equator)! I hope you get outside and truly experience the season.

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Elderberry syrup in progress. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

As I write this, the year’s first real snowfall is blanketing the land. It’s a time of rest and introspection. Spiritually, it’s a new year. As with our secular New Year, it’s custom to reflect on various aspects of our lives, how we’ve changed, and where we’re going. Recently, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my path and why I blog about it. Some of this came about through discussions with Lady Althea via Twitter, specifically about how motherhood has changed our paths, and how our spirituality should be more about doing than keeping up with appearances. Some of my thoughts came through an interview I did with my friend Corinne for her upcoming podcast – Who’s Your Mama? The focus of the podcast is on mothers and how they find a balance between their mamahood and various life passions. Corinne is interviewing friends from around the country first to get into the groove, as it were, and thought my story about finding time to further my Druidic pursuits and found a protogrove, all while raising a little one, was inspiring. I felt that I rambled a bit, but she said it was great! I’ll be sure that share that when it comes out in January.

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My little one joins me at my altar for a daily devotional. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

My religious practices haven’t changed much in the last year, but the way I engage with them has.  The same time restricting forces that limit my blogging also limit the amount of time I have for involved ritual, magic, meditation, and trance. I’ve had to get creative in how I engage with my spirituality, and that’s only deepened my understanding of something I already knew to be true – magic and ritual is in everything. When we approach our daily tasks mindfully, aware of the interconnections, we are engaged with our spirit allies.  I’ve also worked on my self-discipline.  While accepting my limitations in time and energy at this point in time, I’ve managed to strike a balance.  My trance studies are on hold for the time being, but I’ve worked hard to maintain the devotional practices I revitalized through ADF’s liturgical study program.  I’m also working on my divination journal, focusing more on the practical work until I have a little extra time for the academic side of my Druidism.  As a result, my understanding of the Druid Animal Oracle and ogham is improving.

One area that I’ve improved on in the past year is my hearth or kitchen magic.  I’m working on incorporating more holistic approaches to cleaning and health; and I’ve continued to make mostly home-cooked meals, often utilizing local ingredients.  This has helped me grow in my herbal knowledge and connection to the land.  Sharing these processes with my youngster, and showing her how to put love and intention into all we do, only strengthens my own focus.

Including a toddler in seasonal and daily religious observances can be tricky, especially when they involve fire, but, in retrospect, I’m amazed at what I’ve been able to share with her. Bee is learning how to calm and focus her breathing.  With my assistance, she uses a candle snuffer to assist in our symbolic smooring rite each evening.  I explain to her what is a good task for her, and what is definitely a grownup job. She can snuff, but she cannot light the candle.  These realities may be upsetting to her at first, but with repetition, she accepts them. This is teaching her respect for fire, that she has skills to grow into, and that there are times for quiet and action in ritual.  Best of all, she’s learned to say “thank you” for abundance, inspiration, and beauty.  It warms my heart when she reminds me that it’s time to do our “Brighid prayer” or when she randomly thanks the Earth Mother on our short walks outside.

So while I sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough, or sharing enough – in reality, I have a lot to celebrate about the last year!  I hope you take some time to reflect on your own practice and growth over the year.

 

 

 

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An "Ancestor Gnome" I sewed for Bee - Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

An “Ancestor Gnome” I sewed for Bee – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

Another Samhain has come and gone in my household and protogrove. Some, like myself, observed it from October 31st-November 1st (sundown to sundown). Many celebrated this weekend, for reasons of convenience or celestial precision. I know of some people who honor it all month long, which is totally fine, as the veil between this world and the other seems to gradually “thicken” and “thin.”  As for myself and my tribe, 2015 Samhain has ended (though we may sense our ancestors from time to time).

I’m always a little sad when Samhain ends, being an adult who has regular conversations with her inner child.  I love the magic, the mystery, and the socially acceptable guising.  I also need, as most do, the emotional release that comes with meditating on and facing mortality.  I had a bit of a health scare at the beginning of October.  Everything turned out well, but it was enough to make me pause and prioritize!  The fact that a high school acquaintance died in his battle with cancer a few months before really added to my sense of how delicate and precious our time is.

Regardless of what we may or may not believe about an afterlife, the truth remains a mystery to the living.  The here and now, and our time in these particular bodies, is such a gift that should not be taken for granted.  Even when so many of us in the polytheist and Pagan communities believe in some sort of continuation after life, we miss our beloved dead.  Personally, I accept the ambiguity of what happens to our energy.  The fact that our physical remains will go back into the cycle of creation and destruction, and that our bodies will mingle and always be together in some way, is profoundly beautiful to me.  I take comfort in that, and I’m sure many in my protogrove do as well, yet we still mourn our dead.

Northern Rivers’ Samhain Bonfire – photo by Annette P.

Northern Rivers Protogrove, ADF, gathered on October 31st at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center to celebrate Samhain.  Despite the biting cold, we had our ritual at their stone circle.  That in itself was an exciting homecoming, and with the added psychic and emotional intensity of Samhain, it meant for a moving ritual.  Many of us were already tearing up as we gave praise offerings to the Ancestors.  When we got to our traditional apple rite, something passed on to us from Muin Mound Grove, some of us actually had to leave the circle for a bit to calm our nerves.  As we passed the apple, a potent symbol for the Otherworld, we named those who had passed since last Samhain.  As we named them, we pushed a clove into the apple.  The group then intoned, “come to the light” to the accompaniment of a chime.  We called the “Young Ancestors” to our firelight to gather with the “Elder Ancestors” who know the ways back to the Otherworld.  Samhain always makes for a long yet intense ritual.

Today I decided to take my household Samhain decorations down.  As you can imagine, there’s always a little sadness as you remove the relics of festivity.  As I packed the skeletons and ghosts away, it felt like the veil closing on the dead. Yet, I reflected, the Ancestors are always there.  I can always call to them beyond the veil, and there’s a chance that they may hear me with the assistance of messenger spirits, strong bonds, or intense emotions.  The spirit world can be a strange thing in that way.  And just as the paper, metal, and wooden skeletons will reappear in my home again, Samhain will also be reborn next year.

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I’ve blogged a lot about sharing my Druidic path with Bee in the hopes that others who are thinking about raising their own children in their spiritual path will see how organic and fun it can be. What Jan describes is very much what I’ve been experiencing with my toddler. They truly are sponges, and they love to be with you and do as you do more than anything!

Mist to Open. Mists to Bind.

I’ve always intended on raising my children pagan, and over the past two years, as I’ve been putting that desire into practice, for the most part, it has not been a conscious effort. There are a few things that I try to teach my daughter, and a few things that I specifically explain to her, but mostly it is just involving her, and being surprised at how much she picks up. I walk my path unashamedly, and so she see all the little parts of my life where my faith and my practice are incorporated.  Toddlers are sponges.

She sees me pray each morning, and now fairly consistently asks “Mommy, pray?” So we pray together when she asks. I call out to Hestia and light her flame and some incense, and then we say “Yay, Hestia!” I’ve started adding in a super short prayer to the Three Kindreds and showing…

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