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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Truly, the last ten years have been transformation for me, and 2019 was, overall, a grand end.

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The famous entrance stone in front of New Grange. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2011

 

I entered the decade a newly married woman with a new job, new apartment, and new community. I had to start from scratch making friends and learning the land. My Druidry grew, especially in the first five years. Before I had my daughter, I did some intense magical and meditative work. I created and acquired some of my most cherished tools. I had profound experiences with the land and spirits that pushed me onward. My husband and I even traveled to Ireland! It urged me to start a Druid study group and find kindred spirits. This ultimately resulted in Northern Rivers Grove! Connecting with others who wish to commune with the Kindreds and serve the land in a positive, safe environment has been such a blessing and sense of pride. As I continue to read about others who struggle(d) with toxic circles, I count myself lucky and intend to remain vigilant to protect my grove.  Though my official studies within ADF have stagnated since having my daughter, I’ve continued to grow on a personal level to serve my spiritual family by writing liturgies, performing rites, and practicing with divination. I rediscovered the value of simple but powerful folk magic and devotionals, and I placed the academics on the back burner for now.

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A Bealtaine ritual with Northern Rivers Grove, ADF. Photo by Grey Catsidhe

Becoming a mother was the most defining aspect of the 2010s. While it slowed my progress in magic and trance, it taught me patience, endurance, and perseverance I never knew I was capable of. My blog’s focus turned to Pagan parenting for a bit, and I continue to reflect and share on that topic with my readers.

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Airmid (OoaK Fabric Art Doll) sewn by Grey Catsidhe. 2010

I began the decade with a flurry of sewing, and I had the pleasure of vending at small festivals and through Etsy. My husband was always a tireless support, even sitting with me at my stall. Once I had my daughter, my priorities shifted. My sewing slowed, but Brigid woke my love and drive for creative writing. I believe my Druidry nurtured this and gave me a natural outlet at rituals and within ADF as a whole. I shared work with my grove, published material in Oak Leaves, and took part in some #Prayeraday challenges!

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As 2019 comes to a close, I am full of gratitude for my growth as a writer. I attended a conference, joined a writing society, participated in #pitchwars and #pitmad, and even queried a few agents and publishers. Networking has been helpful. I haven’t felt so connected to other writers since college! I’m still tweaking my manuscript after some kind rejections, but I’m very proud of my work. Beta readers are giving me helpful suggestions and positive feedback which is encouraging. I don’t often talk about my geeky side on Ditzy Druid, but I’ve even written some highly reviewed fan fics! Finally, I’m incredibly proud to say I published a short story in the first issue of Stone, Root, and Bone magazine through Hagstone Publishing. 

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I intend to continue improving and achieving as a writer. My greatest focus remains creating stories about contemporary Pagans. 2020 and the coming decade promises more writing, and that includes my blog! I’m honored that you’ve joined me for some of my journey. Thank you.

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A full moon working in summer, 2019.

May the coming decade be full of growth, kindness, good stories, and time outside. Kindreds bless! Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh – Happy New Year!

(Oh my gods, I never even gushed about all my gardening!)

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A lovely little potato and pea harvest from 2016! Photo by Grey Catsidhe

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I tweeted this a few weeks ago, but I really should share it here, too! I’m proud to post that my short story, “Lemon Balm Tea,” is going to be published in issue 1 of the new eZine Stone, Root, and Bone!

Shannon has struggled with public speaking since she was a girl in school. Poised to give an important presentation as an adult, she reflects on the lessons she learned in her grandmother’s garden.

It’s a contemporary realistic fiction piece, and I hope you enjoy it. I love stories about actual Pagans, polytheists, and animists. Sure, I enjoy the Hollywood interpretations, but I find myself most drawn to writing about who we really are and how we interact with the world around us.

In addition to my story, you’ll find other pieces (including non-fiction!) from fantastic authors. Just check out the headlines on the cover reveal! Intrigued? You can pre-order a copy for $5 here and support an indie publication made by and for polytheists.

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The Plant Spirit challenge starts May 1st, and I’m so excited to take part. You can read bios from all the hosts, including me! This is kind of a big deal to me because it marks a transition. I tend to avoid putting my face and name out there in connection to my religion, but I’m reaching a crossroads.

I’ve been working on a novel, and I’m planning to attend a writers conference in June all about publishing, query letters, literary agents, etc. I’m not sure what will become of it all, but needless to say I’m getting serious about sharing my story. With that comes a question of identity.

I’ve been using my online pen name for a long time, but would I actually want to publish under that name? And yet, my story is about contemporary Pagans. Am I ready to put myself out there using my legal name? Furthermore, I still retain the long-term goal of becoming a clergyperson in my religion. Such individuals must use their legal name, to some degree, for various reasons within ADF. So, I’m following the footsteps of S. H. Hinton and JK Rowling. It feels safer. The bio linked above also includes a photo of my face, but it’s darkened by the hood of my winter coat and the forest canopy. Also a safe transition for me.

I don’t think I’ll officially change my blog bio, twitter, instagram, etc, yet. Consider this a stepping stone. Hagstone Publishing is giving me an opportunity to experiment with sharing this info.

I’m excited to take part in the Plant Spirit Ally challenge! I’m writing with some amazing practitioners and artists. Please check them out!

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I’m very excited to announce that I’m taking part in the upcoming Plant Spirit Ally Challenge hosted by Hagstone Publishing. You can read all about it here so that you, too, can participate! Specifically, I’m co-hosting days 2 and 22. After much thought, and many hints over the last few weeks, I will be working with mugwort. I’ll post more about why once the challenge starts, but I’m very inspired to make a mugwort-themed doll. Due to some other projects going on, I probably won’t be able to complete every day, but I will do my best! I hope you’ll join us in exploring a special plant in your life.

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I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m working through the Initiate Path of ADF. The Dedicant Path took me three years to complete. The IP is taking much longer. The biggest hurdle for me is finding the quiet time and mental space to complete the work. My career is exhausting. Keeping house is exhausting. My daughter – I love her- is exhausting. When I do have free time, most of it goes to my fiction writing these days. It’s fulfilling, and has given me a different way to connect with my spirituality. I thank Brighid daily for the inspiration she’s blessed me with. Other hobbies are easier for me to do surrounded by the chaos of childhood – belly dance, gardening, watching anime. Reading and responding to academic texts is so, so hard most of the time. I lost count how many times I was interrupted as I tried to write this…

Yet I still aspire toward completing the IP, and eventually I would like to work through the clergy training program. I need goals for when my daughter is less mommy focused, right?

I’ve had to restart my Divination 2 journal several times. Today, I decided to restart it again. The reason is probably one many of you are familiar with. At first, you consistently record entries for a few weeks, then something happens. You’re tired one day, then family visits, then you’re sick… Before you know it, you’re looking at three weeks of no entries, and no recollection. Flubbing it is antithetical to the purpose.  And so, if you’re like me, you grumble and start again because perseverance is a virtue.

But so is wisdom.Wisdom is gained through the triad of learning, experience, and reflection. So I thought about what was and wasn’t working. The most frustrating thing about my having to restart the journal is that I do a daily divination almost every day as part of my devotional! I’m doing the work, but failing to document it! I prefer typing, so my journal has been housed on my computer. I do not turn my computer on when going to work. On weekends, my family gets so busy, that I often fail to think of documenting my divination!

I recently bought a set of two little Moleskine journals. I’ve carried one in my purse for over a year, filling it with random inspiration, thoughts, and dreams. It was nearing time to replace it, but the set came with two. What to do with the other? Today I realized the second would be my divination journal. I’ve even placed it on my altar so I see and remember to record. Even if I quickly jot down the ogham I draw, I can come back to it later in the day to ruminate further. Let’s hope this is the time I actually keep my journal for five months.

 

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As part of my work on the “Learn the Lore” course in the Irish Pagan School, I’m tasked with reflecting on my knowledge of the file tradition in Ireland as well as my current feelings on poetry. Next, I’m to share my thoughts and feelings on the story studied in days 1 and 2, “Echtra Condla” (The Adventures of Connla the Fair”).

At this point in my spiritual journey, I’m somewhat familiar with what the file tradition is. I have seen the Irish word fili before while reading through mythology and history books about Ireland. (A quick search helped me to linguistically understand that file is the modern Irish word, and fili is plural.) My understanding is that the fili are the bards. In this tradition, words have power. Music also has power, as we know through stories about An Dagda’s harp. To me, poetry is the marriage of language and music, so poetry is incredibly potent. To be a file is to tap into, and channel, that power.

Poetry is also difficult to create. At least in my experience. I try to write it, and often struggle. Prose comes easier to me, and yet I continue to do my best with poetry, especially when I write prayers and chants for my Druidry. I’m excited to learn more about the file tradition in this course. Perhaps this will inspire me?

I found the story of “”Echtra Condla” interesting. I vaguely remember reading it before. I recalled the fairy woman giving Connla and apple, followed by his wasting away, and going with her to the Otherworld. I forgot, or possibly decided to disregard, the woman’s prophesy about the coming of Christianity. In light of yesterday’s reflection, it’s interesting to think about the story as a young man’s conversion experience, and the Otherworld as heaven. As Lora pointed out in the video, while the coming of Christianity to Ireland did bring some problems, it was largely peaceful and positive compared to many other places. And thanks to the monasteries, we have stories like Connla’s. Personally, in my humble, novice opinion, I can see how easy it would be for Christian monks to alter the story for their purposes.

So what is my takeaway as a polytheist? The apple is a symbol of the Otherworld. It shows up in other stories, and I’m sure it will appear again in this course. Tales of Fairies luring away young men and women are also common. It’s interesting that she promises to take Connla to an island populated only by women. It is supposed to be a peaceful place. Take that as you will, I guess! Also of interest to me is the limitation of the Druids. This could very well be Christian propaganda, but it’s also a good reminder that the spirits often have more power than us humans. It’s a lesson in humility.

 

 

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Revisions

Some of you know I’m writing a book. I don’t often talk about it here. I haven’t blogged as much recently in part because I spend so much free time working on my story!

My novel features contemporary Pagans. There’s a scene at a Bealtaine celebration between two consenting adult characters. That said, I’ve gone back to this part again and again because of controversies in my religious community. I don’t want to add to the problem. I don’t want predators to think they’ve got an automatic in at Bealtaine, or at any time, with a group of Pagans. I think I’ve finally found a balance between celebrating the sex-positive nature of our community, while also showing a group that values everyone’s safety and comfort. I’ve also revised the book quite a bit to point out that this holiday is not all about sex. The ritual depicted focuses on cleansing after winter, and the intimate scene is afterward in the privacy of the characters’ tent. They certainly are tapping into the more flirtatious energy of Bealtaine, but there is no coercion. The purpose of the scene is to demonstrate just how deeply the characters care for and trust one another, and the growth promoted by Bealtaine is a perfect symbolic backdrop for it.

I’m really proud of how it’s turning out. The grove depicted in my book is very much inspired by Northern Rivers and Muin Mound Grove. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I feel blessed to have found such positive, safe places. If others eventually read my novel, may it serve as a model of what can be.

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