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Posts Tagged ‘Three Hallows’

Bee shows a greater interest in what I do, and she loves to honor nature outside and inside at her nature table / play altar. The one thing she was missing was a representation of fire – one of the Three Hallows in my Druidic tradition, and an important part of any Celtic spirituality.  I’ve thought about different ways to create an appropriate representation, and when I thought of this Imbolc activity, I realized that it was exactly what she was missing!  Furthermore, it’s a great way to reuse old wine corks!
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Materials:

  • old corks (the hole from the corkscrew will actually come into play later!)
  • paint (I used washable, toddler-safe paint)
  • paintbrushes
  • orange and yellow yarn or other fire-colored fibers
  • a glue gun
  • a tapestry needle or something else that you can use to poke the fibers into the corkscrew hole

 

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The Toddler Part:

Equipped with an apron and seated on our large splash mat, Bee was able to paint her cork. My husband and I joined her to paint two others, making this a fun family activity. I let her choose her color – orange! How firery.

Because we used washable paint, it was very thin.  We had to let the corks dry between a couple coats, and we had to put the paint on rather thick.  That’s ok, though, as it looks like wax dripping down the sides of the candles!  I’m thinking about sealing them with a glaze later on.

 

20160117-210549.jpg The Parent Part:

Once the corks dried, I cut orange and yellow yarn into very short lengths – about an inch, but I could have gone smaller.  I separated the fibers to give the an airy look, then twisted them together loosely.  Pinch the bottoms tightly and roll them between your fingers to join the fibers.  Put a dot of hot glue into the corkscrew hole.  Using a dull tapestry needle (or other similar object), push the bottom of the fibers into the hole and glue.  Voilà!  Flaming candles!  

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A practice rocket stove my father built.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe

A practice rocket stove my father built. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

 

I’ve been really curious about rocket stoves.  I see people interested in sustainability, survival skills, and camping post about them from time to time.  Turns out, my father has been interested too.  He’s more mechanically-minded than I am, so he made one using BPA-free cans (supplied by yours truly).  I also helped him by gathering fuel on my most recent nature walk.  He finally tried it and, for just a tiny test stove, it was really impressive!  Before I got my camera out, the flames were quite large.  My father feels confident that he could have boiled water with that.

I might not have a proper fire pit, but perhaps a little rocket stove could get the job done if I ever wanted a flame large enough to make offerings into.

Have you explored rocket stoves?

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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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I try to get into the forest at least once a week.  It relaxes me, heals my emotional aches, and reminds me of what really matters.

Although we’re in a season that focuses on death, there is a certain beauty about it.  And indeed, out of the death and decay, life is all around.  Red squirrels scamper, slugs spiral together around a pearl of new life*, and fungi exalt in the Sunday rain.

Verdant moss seems to glow in the moisture.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
A young shagbark hickory.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
These umbrella-like fungi seem appropriate given the weather.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
When I saw this water-filled maple leaf, I thought of the sacred well.  There it is in miniature form.  Behold the waters of life!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
Life is fleeting, but beauty remains.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
Shelter from the rain.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
A mysterious fungus I came across.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Photo by Grey Catsidhe.
A magnificently large maple tree in the woods.  The large ones are like guardians.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

*No photo of the mating slugs.  I felt they deserved some privacy!

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When I first asked my readers, “Is it Ethical to Use Silver in Druidic Rites?” I was bracing myself for some tongue lashings.  I felt the same way sharing my concerns on the ADF Discussion list.  Although I did get responses along the same tone I’m used to when explaining my vegetarianism, many people – more than I originally thought – were very supportive.  Many, to my delight, feel the same way and have been working through similar issues!  As I explained yesterday, while not dogma in ADF, the use of silver has quite the tradition.  Coming out and expressing discomfort with a tradition in a group as established as ADF can be very uncomfortable…  but I’m so pleased to know I’m not alone.  Even within the larger Pagan community, there are others who recognize the environmental hazards related to mining – whether for silver, other precious metals, or even the gems everyone in the Pagan scene is so gaga over!

Regardless of whether you continue to use mined resources in your magical workings, it should be important to you to learn where your tools and materials are coming from.  When you walk on an Earth-Centered path, your impact should be of concern.  Personally, I want to walk in balance.  I am not perfect – would never claim to be.  The majority of my food is organic and/or local; I grow some of my own food and many of my own herbs; I compost; and I use reusable shopping bags.  But I still drive a gas-powered car.  I rent and can’t convert my apartment to a solar-powered, grey-water using haven.  I take control of what I’m able to, and putting a halt to my personal use of mined products seems like a pretty good thing to do. It’s easy. It’s good for Mama Earth.  Traditions sometimes have to change in light of environmental impact or societal change. I leave this behind with the head hunting, the human sacrifice, and the exclusion of men from keeping Brighid’s flame.

Precious metals and gems have real potential in the form of talismans, I think.  One of the arguments with regards to the ethics of silver is recycling it.  By continually offering it, we take it out of the system of reuse and recycling thus requiring more to be extracted.  Some people have commented saying that they like the idea of using a silver piece as a magical talisman to consecrate the water.  Through ritual reuse, the talisman will grow in power.  There is a large silver triskel pendant on my altar.  I felt compelled to buy it while vacationing in Ottawa.  At the time I didn’t know why other than the Kindreds seemed to want it – but they wanted it on my altar.  Now I’m wondering if I could use it for consecration purposes.  The silver is already in my possession, albeit claimed by the Kindreds for use on my altar.  I would be reusing it ritually, it would become a spiritual heirloom, and it wouldn’t be removed from the system of reuse and recycle.  Others have commented that this possibility intrigues them and they are also thinking of trying it.

A silver pendant I felt called to bring home.  It’s been waiting on my altar and is a bit tarnished now.  Time for my favorite silver cleaning ingredient – toothpaste!

 

Others are also comfortable using quartz.  Several said they already use them or locally found stones.

Some ADF members rely on the waters themselves to consecrate the well.  ADF Druid Fawn explained, “In my own Druidry I prefer to offer sacred waters from different springs to the Well, or flower essences.”* Another ADF member, Drum, shared a similar sentiment.  He commented on the e-list about other Indo-European practices:

It is interesting that the idea of silvering the well is not universal throughout Indo-European practice.

In Avestan practice, it is water from the well itself that, after a number of draws, IS pure and in my limited understanding putting anything other than water that is “pav” or pure back into the well would only defile it. Silver is not a universal requisite for the well**

Author Nimue Brown commented that she only leaves biodegradable offerings and prefers the option of cleaning up a location.  In my post yesterday, I suggested the possibility of a grove pledging to clean a beach or river area prior to a ritual.  The more I think about that possibility, the more I find it attractive.  It could easily be combined with simply using other sacred waters to consecrate a well.    Perhaps after the cleaning, a small vial of water would be taken then placed in the well vessel.

There are clearly so many possibilities when working with water and consecrating the well.  It is important to respect and learn from tradition, but I would argue it’s more important to update and adapt our traditions to live in better harmony with the world.  It’s also equally important to get involved with organizations to protect sacred places, end devastating environmental practices, and lobby politicians for ethical, rather than purely financial, ends.  Perhaps this isn’t the right fist step for you.  Perhaps there are other aspects of your spiritual life that you could change for the sake of the Earth Mother and Nature Spirits you so love.  Evaluate your practice and make changes there first.  As a people who so revere Nature, it only seems right that our “greenest” practices are within our spiritual rites.  Through those changes, all others should follow.

While she is not a Druid, I want to leave you with a quote from Starhawk.

Not everyone has the extra dollar for the organic tomatoes, or the time or space to garden.  Bringing our lives into alignment with the earth should not become a burdensome, guilt-filled project, where we are constantly in an unshriven state of eco-sin.  Instead, we can think of it as a gradual, joyful process, where we look for the choices we can make that will enhance our lives … Making small choices that align with our values is important.  It helps give us a sense of integrity, and it gradually transforms the whole of our lives to be in better balance (36).***

* Fawn Russell.  “[ADF Discuss] Silver Offerings.”  ADF Discussion List, 29 Aug, 2012.  Web.  29 Aug, 2012.
**Drum.  “[ADF Discuss] Silver Offerings.”  ADF Discussion List, 29 Aug, 2012.  Web.  29 Aug, 2012.
***Starhawk.  The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature.  New York: Harper Collins, 2004.  Print.

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Come we now to the well
The eye and the mouth of Earth
Come we now to the well
and silver we bring
Come we now to the well
The waters of rebirth
Come we now to the well
Together we sing!

– Excerpt from “The Portal Song” by Ian Corrigan

This post may be controversial, but it’s something that must be examined.

There’s a tradition behind using silver in magical rites.  According to ADF member and author Ceisiwr Serith, there are two theories behind the use of silver with regards to water/the well – one of the sacred hallows in ADF tradition.  He says:

There are two basic theories as to why silver is put in the  well, and
what is done with the silver afterward will depend on which theory is  used:
1.  The silver consecrates the water.  If this is  the theory, then the
silver is reused.
2.  The silver is an offering, either to beings  associated with the
well or to the water or well itself.  In this case the  silver is not reused,
and is eventually disposed of either by casting it in the  water or burying
it**.

Since coming to Druidism and embracing it as my spiritual path, I have utilized the second theory.  At Muin Mound, we offer silver to the well with the view that it consecrates it but also, I think, as an offering to that hallow.  The silver is placed down a shaft as is traditional in many groves.  Offerings of precious metals is historical.  There are lakes and bogs full of gifts given by the Celts.  Modern Druids have adopted that practice.  On the ADF e-lists, the subject often comes up – “Is it environmentally friendly to offer silver?”  It ping-pongs back and forth but it’s usually accepted that the small amounts we put in aren’t dangerous and that silver has been used for hundreds of years to purify water.  That’s all fine and good – but why does the discussion always stop there?

The topic has come up again and I shared my qualms about continuing to use silver due to my concerns about mining it.  The topic remained on offerings.  Finally, out of curiosity, I started to look into silver extraction.  Here’s what I shared on the e-list:

Everyone tends to focus on the impact of putting silver back into the earth in the form of shafts or bodies of water.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m interested in the impact of extracting silver.  That should be where our focus is.

I did some digging and found a few resources that could be of interest.

“The Ecologist” explores whether or not silver can be considered ethical.  The biggest argument for calling silver more ethical than other mined resources is reusing it.  We put it back into the ground and buy more to put back into the ground…  Hmmm…  http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/clothing/270580/can_silver_ever_be_ethical.html  Be sure you go to the end of the article where it talks about labor at the mines.

Then, of course, there is the mining at sites that are sacred to other people: http://www.care2.com/causes/mining-in-mexicos-sacred-sites.html

The more I delve into it, the more I think that offering silver should be one of the practices we “leave behind.”  At least, that’s where I see myself going.  I don’t see how offering something that causes so much damage to the land and other people to be personally acceptable anymore…

To me, it feels hypocritical to continue offering silver. It’s not a renewable resource.  We’re supposed to be an Earth-centered spirituality and living in balance with the Nature Spirits.  Offering silver, at least most of the time, should be left back in antiquity with head hunting.

I could see reusing a silver talisman to consecrate, but making offerings is so central to my practice.  Something I’ve been experimenting with for awhile now, and seems acceptable to the water spirits thus far, is using quartz that I find in the forest on my walks.  I’ll sometimes find a little chunk that is exposed or came loose.  I give offerings of thanks to the Earth Mother for her treasures and use them in magic.  I’ve also been thinking about offering river stones.  I sometimes find beauties along the St. Lawrence river and see the ones that truly call out to me as gifts from the local spirits.  Giving them as offerings could be truly meaningful.  Finally, the local group could commit to cleaning a beach before a high day, then stating that we did so and naming it our offering to the water spirits.

What are your thoughts on offering precious metal to the well during ritual?

* Ceisiwr Serith.  "[ADF Discuss] Silver Offerings."  ADF Discussion List, 28 Aug, 2012.  Web 28 Aug, 2012.  Later in the discussion he says the first theory is 
only based on one source he has come across from Scotland.

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