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Posts Tagged ‘shrines’

Fun Find

With Samhain right around the corner, stores are full of decor that makes many of us excited. While I usually prefer supporting artisans or making my own tools, I saw this ceramic cauldron at Target and it was exactly what I wanted for my Ancestor shrine. I like to give offerings of beverages, usually tea, and I’ve often felt that their shrine deserved a special cup or bowl. Well there we are – the cauldron of rebirth. I do intend to commission a friend who does ceramics when she is ready and when I can afford it, but this will do for now. 

My Ancestor Shrine – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

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Another year, another lovely garden. Each year I learn more about and from the Nature Spirits. This year, my husband joined me in the adventure as he experiments with hydroponics. Once more, we are renters who largely rely on containers for our gardening. It has pros and cons, and I definitely look forward to having our own land one day, but for now, I’m happy that our garden improves each year! 

We have many representationns of Nature Spirits around the garden.

Veggies in-progress.

Herbs and small trees.



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It’s a hot and humid day, but it’s also overcast with a call for rain. Probably not the best time to visit the beach… The extra shade means it’s more comfortable outside than in, though, so it’s a great day to explore outside but stay close to home in case we need shelter. So Bee and I went for a little nature walk to pick flowers for our family altar and Brighid shrine. While we explored, I introduced my daughter to some flowers such as chicory, Queen Aunne’s lace, St. John’s Wort, and red clover. We found some others that I wasn’t sure about, but that’s part of the fun of exploring! We also checked in on the black berries. No flowers or even buds yet.  It was a fun way to spend time with my daughter and the Nature Spirits.  Of course, we gave offerings before picking, and I told Bee how important it is that we don’t pick too much from one area.

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Taller flowers went on our family altar.

Actually walking among Nature, exploring, and learning together, then bringing some back into our home with permission, makes the High Days, and everything in between, come to life.

20160708-145634.jpgSmaller flowers on our Brighid shrine.

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My Ancestor shrine, complete with some Samhain ghosts made by Bee and me. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

My ancestor shrine, complete with some Samhain ghosts made by Bee and me. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

My sister recently lost one of her kitties to old age and disease.  The elderly cat, named “Carmel”, had reached the crazy age of 17 or 18, which is ancient for a cat.  Her hearing was mostly gone, and her eyes were riddled with cataracts.  Her hips and legs were starting to give out on her, and she would randomly fall.  The vet determined she had a lot of issues and was suffering, so my sister made the difficult choice that so many of us who love our furry allies have to face from time to time.

If you look closely at the recent photo of my ancestral shrine, you’ll see a few photos or reminders of furry friends past.  I didn’t have a photo of Carmel, so I just offered some cat food.  I will honor her again at my Samhain ritual.

Some people do not view deceased pets as ancestors, and indeed they do not share our blood… but we can honor ancestors of blood, place, and heart – the later referring to those outside of our families who inspired or guided us.  Yes, our pets are literally nature spirits, but I’ve found that the Three Kindreds are not black and white categories.  For example there are many Gods who take on the appearance of animals or plants.  There are also ancestors who have been deified.  Finally, there are stories in IE myth suggesting that different groups of people can claim plants or animals as ancestors.  While I will never tell someone that they are wrong for not including their dead furry companions in their ancestral workings, it certainly feels appropriate to me.  When Samhain comes, I always invite members of my protogrove to bring mementos of those who have died since the previous Samhain – and I make sure to remind them that representations of fallen pets are welcomed.

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The old shrine. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Sometimes we have to take a pilgrimage to where it all began – to the source of our spirituality.  By that, I mean the places where we first felt the stirrings of spirits around us, observed the interconnection of everything, and where our soul first learned to dance.  For me, that place is my childhood home – in particular, the forest behind the house.

I grew up able to play in the shade of white pines, sugar maples, red maples, black cherries, crab apples, and aspens.  I learned the name of many plants, native and invasive, and whether or not I could eat them.  I learned how to recognize numerous birds by shape and call.  I often woke up to find herds of deer or flocks of turkeys outside my bedroom window.  Once I even saw a pine marten.  I meditated below those trees, poured my first offerings there, and hailed the moon on that land.  On summer nights, the song of crickets and spring peepers was my lullaby.  On winter mornings, the happy coo of mourning doves was a gentle alarm clock.  Although I was baptized a Roman Catholic, I always felt the most spiritual out in the forest.

As moved into Paganism, and as that grew into Druidism, I started to visit a particular spot often.  I made an Earth Mother statue, placed a small, porcelain teacup below her, and brought her interesting stones, seeds, flowers, etc.  The shrine is still there, although I have to gently remove the pile of leaves blanketing it each visit.  I always feel a mixture of gratitude for where I’ve been and an extreme nostalgia for the childhood that is gone.  I can almost imagine the ghost of my childhood self playing around the trees.  Perhaps that is a different type of Nature Spirit or ghost – the positive energy we left behind in our old haunts?

I wonder what will become of my old shrine should my family ever move. Should I take those relics with me, or should I leave them there for a new child to wonder at?  Who knows if I’ll ever have to cross that bridge. It makes me a little sad to think of all the childhood homes that are now inaccessible to others because they moved away.  Such is life, though.  We can always return in our minds if we quiet ourselves long enough and unlock the memories.   For now, the shrine remains, a special landmark I occasionally pilgrimage to.

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(This entry describes my morning.  Written in the style of  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff.)

If you give a Druid a cup of tea, she’ll feel very content, almost meditative. She’ll be moved to give some as an offering to her Ancestors.

So, your Druid will go to the household Ancestor shrine and realize that she should really clean it since the evergreens she placed on it for the Winter Solstice are all dried out.  What’s more, New Years is coming, and a clean house brings good luck for the rest of the year!

As she starts to clean the shrine, she decides that she should save the evergreen needles for “something” later on.  So she finds a clean jar to store them in.

Your Druid is smart, and she knows that she needs to label and date her jar.  She goes to the drawer that contains the writing implements and chooses a blue marker to write “Blue Spruce – Winter Solstice – 2014” on the lid.

While putting the marker away, she notices a small, green marker stain on the drawer.  “Oh no!” she says, thinking what her landlady would say.  So she wets a rag and begins to scrub.

Thankfully, the stain fades, but your Druid notices dried food and other strange stains on the cupboard doors.  So she continues to clean and clean and clean.  After all, New Years is coming, and a clean house brings good luck for the rest of the year!

Eventually, she gets really tired.  She decides to finish later.  At that moment, she realizes that she needs to drink her tea!  She gets her cup but realizes that it’s no longer warm.  It doesn’t seem hospitable to share lukewarm tea with Ancestors on a winter day.

So you put the kettle on to make more tea.  And you know what that means?

It means your Druid will want to give some as an offering to the Ancestors but will need to continue cleaning the shrine!

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Shrine to Airmed. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

 

Last year, I felt called to begin building a shrine to honor Airmed.  For those who are unfamiliar with her, she is an Irish Goddess – one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  Along with her brother, Miach, and her father, Dian Cecht, she helped to heal the other Tuatha Dé Danann.  The King of the Tuatha Dé Danann, Nuada, lost his arm in battle and, as a result, was seen as unfit to rule.  Dian Cecht made him a metal arm to compensate, but his son, Miach, was a more talented healer.  He made Nuada a new arm of flesh and blood so that he could once more resume his place as leader.  Dian Cecht was driven mad with jealousy; he murdered his son.  From Miach’s body grew all the healing herbs, each growing from the body part it is capable of healing.  Wise Airmed gathered them on her mantle according to their function.  Still jealous at the knowledge of his children, Dian Cecht flung the mantle and scattered the herbs so that others could not easily know the knowledge of the herbs.  Only Airmed, who so tenderly gathered and organize the plants in tribute to her brother, knew their secrets.

Because of her herbal wisdom and healing knowledge, Airmed is an excellent ally for herbalists of all levels.  I’m still very much a novice, and cultivating a relationship with her feels important.  Using a broken bit of concrete I found nearby, I painted a simple figure to represent her.  I placed this in a pot and surrounded it with some cilantro and dill that were growing wild in the mulch in my front shade/fairy garden.  Since I rent and strangers periodically come through to weed-whack anything I’m not growing in a container, I wanted to give the plants a better chance.  They look a little limp right now, but I’m hoping love from myself and Airmed will give them the strength they need to adapt and persevere.  I placed a small, leaf-shaped dish in front of her for offerings, then built a spiral of stones in front of that.

There is more I would like to do, but that will entail surrounding her with even more herbs!  I love how the shrine is taking shape.  It adds so much magic to my home, and I pray that Airmed is pleased.

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