Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

A Winter Travel Prayer

An Cailleach, I call to you

On this wintry, snowy day.

Please be gentle with my kin

As we drive from work or play.

By Grey Catsidhe

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

20160217-124353.jpg

The entrance of the exhibit challenges you to put aside what you think you know about Vikings.

At the end of February, I got a chance to visit the temporary  Vikings exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History.  It was a wonderful experience, and well worth traveling to if you’re in the region.  There are many permanent exhibits to check out when you’re done learning about Vikings, including a museum just for children and the iMax theater.

The Viking exhibit’s goal was to accurately portray this group of people and attempt to correct centuries old misconceptions.  Entering the dim room, you’re greeted by beautiful maps and photos of the land where the Vikings lived – the origin of the artifacts housed within.  Speakers softly played a very natural soundtrack – birdsong and trickling water.  While the purpose may have been to transport visitors to another time, the dim room also made it feel as if I were walking into a sacred space.

Glass cases housed numerous archaeological finds, and a few reconstructions.  As a parent, I greatly appreciated that they were low enough for my daughter to look into as well.  I didn’t expect her to be as fascinated as she was, and her interest truly delighted me!  Adding to the sense of reverence, one case held bones.  My daughter stared in awe at the skull.  My husband and I told her that that person may even be one of our ancestors.  We looked at a variety of weapons, yes, but of greater interest to me were the women’s artifacts – beads, pins, parts of drop spindles, and key talismans.  I hadn’t ever heard of the later before.  When I first saw one at the museum, I noticed that it looked like a skeleton key, but I couldn’t imagine it functioning!  Indeed, the descriptions described them as possible magical objects, offering protection and power.  They’re believed to have been carried by women of high status – those who ran the homes.  In other words, they may have been a symbol of power among women.  Since seeing them, I’ve been seeing keys, and dealing with interesting key-related scenarios, all over.  I’m still trying to sort through what this might mean to me…

There were various interactive elements in the exhibit.  A feasting table with a “true or false” game built in created an interesting communal area where young and old could learn more together and reflect on changing perceptions.  My daughter enjoyed learning about Viking clothing by pushing buttons to light up different articles and then dressing virtual dolls via a computer game.  Another computer game taught visitors how to play a favoriting Viking board game – Hnefatafl.  My husband and I attempted to play, but Bee insisted on moving all our pieces, much to our amusement!  It reminded me of the Japanese game, go, and I would like to try playing it again.

Other favorite areas in the exhibit highlighted the skilled artisans and craftsmen of the Viking age.  Once more, speakers added to the atmosphere by playing the sound of a hammer shaping a sword.  I got shivers looking at some of the metal deity figures.  Bee really enjoyed touching yarn, wool, and cow hide.  She moved puzzle pieces to see the colors created by different herbs in the dying process – an interesting interactive element that I hadn’t ever seen before in a museum.

Although a small exhibit, and only able to hold a toddler’s interest for so long, I enjoyed learning more about my Viking ancestors.  In particular, I feel that I have a better understanding of the women.  The key charms continue to haunt me, and we’ll see what that means for me in the future.

 

Read Full Post »

Traveling Prayer

Read Full Post »

I’ve had a busy but wonderful weekend full of learning, beautiful weather, and old friends.  I feel exhausted, and my feet hurt, but it sure beats lazing around with Netflix all day!

Yesterday I attended the first in a series of meditation workshops at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center.  Local reiki practitioner and long-time meditator, Cherie Schneckenburger, lead us through an explanation of the many practical benefits of meditation, some of the research major universities have done and are continuing to do on the subject (especially in regards to pain management), and some practical exercises to help us strengthen our visualization skills.  Much of this initial workshop was review for me, but some of the activities were new and I found them to be very effective.  I’ve filed them away in my brain for future reference!  They will surely help me help others down the road.  I also wanted some review as I once more get back into my meditative and light trance practices.  I really feel that I’ve been neglecting that side of me lately.  My recent meditation on Ériu was a leap from months of relative idleness.  I’ve been attempting to maintain a weekly practice, but most of it has been in the form of prayer and offerings of gratitude.  There’s nothing wrong with this, of course – it’s certainly kept me very connected!  My meditations are rare, short, and usually focused on grounding and centering, and I’m feeling that I need to start working on those skills again.  Not only do I need to for the Initiate Study Program, but I’m hoping to use meditation as a pain management tool during labor – at least initially.  I am looking forward to the next workshops in this meditation series.  I’m ready to dust off my meditation skills, hone them, and go further with some experienced guidance!

A view of Onondaga Lake in Liverpool, NY. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Today, Weretoad and I went to Syracuse and Liverpool to see some friends – grovies from Muin Mound!  It was serendipitous how it all worked out.  One was originally going to come up this way to bring me a breast pump she didn’t need.  Well, she only gave birth two weeks prior and I felt silly having her travel to me, so we decided to go to her!  Suddenly, the old gang was organizing a bit of a nature walk along the Onondaga Lake in Liverpool.  My friend and I decided it was a perfect opportunity to get together and see others from the grove!

I’m so glad we made the trip.  Not only did I get to hang out with my friend and her lovely family, but I was able to visit with other grovies who I haven’t seen in months!  It was great to catch up and take in the beautiful day!  The air was chilly at times but I found myself unbuttoning my coat repeatedly.  The ice and snow were melting, the ducks were out, and people were everywhere enjoying the change in weather!  And to top it off, I got some things I needed like the breast pump (yay!) and some exercise!

Read Full Post »

A lovely green corner in Ireland. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2011.

Last year started what is clearly becoming a tradition for me.  As March is Irish Heritage month, I take it as a time to reflect on and honor the sovereignty Goddess of Ireland – Ériu.  Chelly has also been focusing on her and shares some wonderful musings in her latest post.  I was inspired and reminded of my desire to spend some time meditating on Ériu, so I shuffled my pregnant behind to my altar for some quality time with the Triple Goddess of Ireland.

My novice studies of Irish lore lead me to agree with Chelly on the nature of Ériu.  She is not to be underestimated as the Milesian Donn found out.  Yet she is also welcoming to those who honor and respect her. I certainly felt a sense of homecoming when I made it to Ireland a couple years ago.  I long to return but until I can, I must be content to connect with that bit of land at a distance.  I decided that tonight would be a good night to meditate on her and give her some offerings.

Saying my words of praise, pouring offerings, and holding a memento from her land, I slipped into a very light trance.  I envisioned myself surrounded by the mist created by the Two Powers of fire and water.  I wouldn’t let myself go too deeply as I worry about the implications of doing so while pregnant and still a novice to that practice.  My stretching belly kept me from separating too much from my body anyway.  It is taut, and breathing deeply is less comfortable than normal.  Yet I was able to visualize myself in Ireland once more.  I saw myself at Tara, saw the rolling green hills around the mounds, and the clootie tree near the hedge.

Tara in Ireland. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2011.

I found myself staring at the Lia Fáil, and suddenly Ériu was there!  I saw her as a beautiful woman with fair skin and long, wavy hair the color of sunlight on the River Boyne.  Here eyes were as brown as the dirt and she wore a gown green like the rolling hills.  She smiled at me and welcomed me back to her whenever I could come.  As a Druid in America, I often fret about working with very local deities such as Ériu, but she reminded me not to lament over the distance and that she was always part of me.  Images came to me of ancestors eating the crops from her soil, filling them with energy and life.  Some of these ancestors came to America, bringing about my existence.  They flow in my blood, blood energized in part by the land of Ireland.  What’s more, she showed me my ancestor’s grave – the ancestor buried in Watertown, NY.  The soil of Ériu became the flesh, blood, and bones of her people.  Some of those people, like my ancestor, are now in the soil here, thus intermingling with the land here in America.  “I am part of the whole world,” she seemed to say.  An Earth Mother linked to all other Earth Mothers, rolling on the globe of our greater Earth Mother.  I now imagine a circle of dancing women bringing life and change as they weave around a central bonfire, individual and yet connected always by the forces of this planet…

She faded out over the sea but left me feeling at peace and connected.

And now my baby is kicking and I think about all the ancestors, land spirits, and Earth Goddesses making up this new little one.  Are any of us really new?  Seems to me that we’re recycled.  We are a continuation – it is the hope we have that springs anew each time.

Read Full Post »

A view of the Gallery as we approached it. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

I’m sure most couples who plan a babymoon look to warmer climates for a romantic getaway.  Not us.  Weretoad and I looked north and went to Ottawa, Ontario.  We so enjoy that city, and being winter-tolerant folk to begin with, it just felt right. (Not to mention it’s only a couple hours away which meant it was more affordable than a more exotic locale!)  I really wanted to visit the National Gallery of Canada.  In past visits, we’ve checked out the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of Civilizations,  and the Bytown Museum as part of a very fun Haunted Walk.  Visiting the gallery felt right for a babymoon since I can’t see us visiting one with the babe until he or she grows up a little.

The Gallery was massive.  It took us a few hours to get through it all.  Some of the pieces were so-so or unimpressive, but I feel that is more likely the larger the space to fill.  There were plenty of beautiful examples.  My favorite pieces were usually landscapes (including one by a favorite artist of mine – Thomas Cole), some examples from Monet and Picasso, and work by a Canadian named Lawren Harris.  I think my favorite overall exhibits contained examples of Inuit art, Indian sculptures (including a beautiful Ganesha), and this ridiculously fun art installment by Martin Creed.  He filled a room with twenty thousand black balloons for people to walk around in!  It made me feel all at once childlike and scared at the same time.  The balloons were usually over my head and I kept worrying I’d lose my husband!

My absolute favorite painting was from the German Renaissance by someone named Lucas (the Elder) Cranach.  Simply titled “Venus,” it is the typical portrait of the Goddess in nude.  What struck me about the piece was its simplicity.  The background is all black – it is simply the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, naked save a necklace and a bit of delicate, gauzy fabric.  While she is certainly beautiful by today’s standards, she is also not the supermodel of our times.  Her breasts are small and she has a bit of a double chin!  And yet…  she is such a strikingly beautiful figure despite that.   Normally, Venus is a Goddess I keep a wide berth of.  I don’t work with Roman deities to begin with, and her Greek counterpart’s lore makes me a little uncomfortable.  And yet this time, before the almost life-size image, I felt at ease, welcomed, and in a sort of fellowship.  She seemed to say, with her strong gaze and soft smile, “be confident for you are beautiful too!”  It is very easy to feel less than sexy when you’re bulging with baby weight, and I suffer from bouts of negative body-image to begin with.  I mentally thanked and praised her. I found a postcard version at the gift shop and bought it.  It’s now framed on my dresser to remind me of that confidence.

Read Full Post »

Well, here we are – the end of 2012!  Before we move into the new year, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on all the personally significant events of 2012.

1) I Spent A Lot of Time Outdoors

Although I make a point to do this every year, it’s always a highlight!  I love being outdoors, and this year I revisited a favorite mountain, kayaked and swam in lakes and the St. Lawrence River, picked blueberries in the Adirondacks, gardened on my patio, and took leisurely strolls behind my home.  I saw all sorts of plants and wildlife, and learned many new things.  Nothing connects me to the spirit world quite the same way as a hike in the forest! Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

2) I Returned to Niagara Falls

After over a decade, I finally returned to Niagara Falls.  Weretoad hadn’t ever been, and we had a wonderful vacation together.  We admired the falls, explored a tropical butterfly garden, humbly stood in awe of a Buddhist temple, and got in touch with our inner child at goofy museums and funhouses.  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

3) More Arts and Crafts!

I continued to sew, felt, spin, and crochet.  I once more tried my hand at knitting, successfully completing two hats for Solstice gifts, and started some basic cable stitching!  My doll making improved, and I worked on some lovely pieces for artisan competitions, commissions, and vending.  I participated in a couple shows this year – the Krebashia Kingdom, a medieval faire in Northern NY, and the Liverpool Pagan Pride Day!  Both were pretty successful and I had a ton of fun.  Although I plan to keep crafting in 2013, I’m turning inward and focusing more on personal projects.  I’m going to take a break from vending for the next few years.  I won’t have time with the little one on the way.    It was fun while it lasted, and perhaps I’ll get back to it again one of these days.  In the meantime, you can still expect me to share some of my work here on the blog!  Local folk may be lucky enough to attend a workshop – I’m hoping to once more teach how to felt Ostara Eggs in the spring.  Doll and photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

4) More Family Involvement

I performed my first ever High Day rite for my family this summer.  I would have attended Summer Solstice at Muin Mound Grove, but different things came up with the family and they begged me to stay, insisting I perform the rite with them so we could all be together.  I obliged and it ended up being a very positive experience.  Some of my family even gave offerings and expressed an interest in doing it again.  Since the North Country Druidic Study Group picked up, my family has expressed an interest in visiting the Yoga Center sometime to celebrate a High Day.  I don’t expect any conversion experiences, but it’s wonderful that they opened up to my beliefs more.  It meant so much to me.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

5) I Attempted to Exercise More!

Over the summer, Weretoad and I started to run using the Couch to 5K program.  I learned a lot about endurance, what I’m capable of, and how to make homemade electrolyte drinks!  It was a lot of work and, even though our fall schedules brought our running to an unfortunate end, we were proud of what we did and hope to start again down the road.  In the meantime, I need to find low-impact ways to exercise while pregnant.  My sister gave me a pregnancy belly dancing DVD, there are yoga classes, and my old friend – walking!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

6) Another Successful Year of Gardening!

Although I still have a long way to go, this year’s garden brought many successes and lessons.  I learned more about growing squash and hope to use my knowledge towards a better harvest next year.  No surprise pumpkins or sunflowers this year, but we did have a surprise leek!  Another wonderful achievement was getting a dwarf lemon tree and having it bear fruit!  Although my ability to garden will be a bit hindered in 2013, my husband is planning to take up many of the responsibilities.  We’ve already started by looking through seed catalogs together and dreaming about next year’s garden!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

7) We Lost a Beloved Family Member

In mid July, we lost one of our ferrets, Puck.  She was such a sweet, mischievous little imp.  We still occasionally find things that she hid.  I felt her very strongly around Samhain, but now she’s quieted down and seems to be at rest.  I still miss her eager face each morning, and take heart in the joyful attitude she possessed right up to the very end.  I learned a lot from her, will always love her, and will continue to remember her.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

8) The North Country Druidic Study Group is Born!

In June, after finishing my graduate classes (huzzah!), I decided to finally start a Druidic study group.  I posted about it on a local FB group dedicated to Pagans and got some nibbles! I wasn’t sure where it would go, but decided it was worth trying if only to make some friends within the Pagan community. Suddenly I’ve got a core of very dedicated, interested members.  Some even joined ADF!  We’ve formed a relationship with a local Yoga Center and started to perform public rituals for the High Days.  In 2013, we’re hoping to become an official ADF protogrove!  I’m very excited for us!  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

9) I Became Pregnant!

In November, I found out I’m having a baby!  Weretoad and I had been trying for a few months and poof!  Suddenly it happened!  Everyone in my family is very excited, and we’re happily preparing for the little one’s birth in 2013!  I won’t gush too much about it here because I seem to do that enough every other post!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

10) I Stepped Down from Muin Mound Grove

Muin Mound has been my spiritual family for several years.  I grew as a Druid, a woman, and an artisan with them, and I know my faith is what it is in part because of these wonderful people.  Weretoad and I love everyone there, but I had to step back in order to focus on my pregnancy and support the hopeful protogrove here in the North Country.  We will always be a part of Muin Mound and they support us in our decision.  We plan to visit as often as we can, and my hope is that the North Country Druids will be strongly linked to them.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

As the day turns to evening, and as you prepare for your house blessings and parties, I hope you bring in much luck and happiness for the New Year.  I think Teo Bishop said it best on his blog post, and I second him in every way.  I thank you for reading my blog in 2012, sharing your opinions and insights, and all the positive feedback.  I’ll see you in 2013!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »