Saturday, June 11, 2022

Breath of Inspiration

Since I've been spending so much of my time these past two years of the pandemic doing "boring writing," I haven't been posting about any of the more exciting things I've created. A few months ago, I wrote a new short musical piece to call on inspiration to be with us in the sacred work we are about to embark upon. I have a long-standing relationship with the powers that grant us the gifts of creating words, music, art, liturgy, all of it. In addition to the Earth Mother, I call to Inspiration in every rite and devotional I do, even at work. The Holy Awen, Imbas Forosnai, Inspiration. It fills me in ways I cannot describe well enough to do it justice, bringing me a peace and clarity that allows the words I write to flow forth in ways I could not author otherwise. 

This piece was written on a morning right after my devotional. There was nothing unusual about the devotional itself, but with the incense on my in-breath, the song began to flow. Click on the title below to hear a rough recording I made with my phone.

Before you use this recording in a devotional setting, set yourself an intention to be open to receive. Then, sing out for the Breath of Inspiration to wash over you with a gentle wind of awakening, guiding your mind's eye to new perspectives and deepening your devotion to the Kindreds and the world around you. You may wish to light a candle or incense before preparing yourself to commune with Inspiration.

Breath of Inspiration

Breathe on me, Breath of Inspiration
Fill my mind with visions of the Muses
Make my voice shine forth in silvery phrases
As gifts to those who hear my honeyed words
Holy Awen flow

repeat in plural with more voices

What will you do with Inspiration filling you? Many blessings on your work!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Sacred Art of Boring Writing

Our Senior Druid, who happens to be a lawyer, performed a rite to the Sacred Scribes in honor of those who do "boring writing," and I am finding myself strongly drawn to this liturgy. As a cleric with an administrative vocation, this speaks to my core and purpose. I have always thrived on putting documentation in order, editing and formatting, proofreading and creating "boring" content such as bylaws and standard operating procedures--and this perspective of sacrality to this work rings in my bones. 

I recently threw my hat in the ring to be appointed interim Secretary for the Mother Grove, and the words I wrote for my application are heavily influenced by the conversation and liturgy created by our Jane Webster. Thank you, Jane!

The Sacred Art of Communication and the ADF Secretary

Communication is the method we use for transferring ideas from one person or entity to another. It is the foundational way in which we build and maintain relationships with the Kindreds and with one another.  When serving in a role requiring information from one place to be distilled down and shared in a concise, honest, and meaningful way, our communication must be as variable and flexible as our audience, as authentic and specific as permissible, and as verifiable and open to response as possible. When we help ensure others understand—not just checking the box when we have provided the information, we build trust with our audience. Our authenticity and willingness to give additional details encourages more questions, and as trust continues to build, the quality of the feedback we receive improves exponentially. 

The ADF Secretary is no different: They must remain unbiased in recording minutes, even (and especially) when they disagree. They must share in a way that promotes comprehension, including making information accessible to folks who receive data in different ways. They must encourage feedback and deliver those thoughts and ideas to the Mother Grove with equal, unbiased clarity to keep the Mother Grove well and truly informed of the stance of our folk. They must be willing to try new things while holding the balance between tradition, innovation, and integrity. As one of the people with the most freedom to share unfiltered speech with the folk, this position has responsibilities far-beyond personal reputation. The words of the Secretary reflect the organization as a whole no matter in which capacity they are speaking. In the wrong hands, this role has the power to cause as much harm as it has the potential for good. Therefore, the Mother Grove must be able to trust them to speak as their voice.

The art of communication is the dance of how we speak and how we listen as we strive to connect with one another in deeper, more intimate ways. Our communication at our shrines, whether through spoken prayers, postures, or offerings, allows us to make connections throughout the cosmos. Communication allows us to pass through to the divine to be heard and to receive blessings in return. Communication, then, is sacred. There are some who do not find the “boring” parts of our work to be inspirational or even spiritual, but are not the mundane parts of our world also part of the cosmos? As part of my awakening into my role as a priest, the clarity of my vocation was a surprise at first. While my career has given me ample space to express my love and talent for technical writing, the gift of my vocation lies in illuminating how that love and that expertise may be applied in all aspects of the work of Our Druidry. In short, I have the passion, understanding, drive, and integrity to do this work, and I want to give more to the organization. The role of ADF Secretary is one that I know I will enjoy and will perform well.

What Makes Me a Good Candidate?

The Mother Grove of our organization has been a virtual entity for decades, and the challenges that were once unique to those with no experience in remote work are now part of the typical skillset for most adults in the United States and beyond. As someone who has finished two degrees via remote education, has served on several boards (including the ADF Mother Grove), and managed staff at 30 different buildings across the state, I have a strong foundation that goes beyond the two pandemic years others have used to hone these skills. In addition to my past endeavors, I am currently serving well as the secretary for the Clergy Council as well as the minute keeper and document organizer for the Organizational Review Committee. While I am fortunate to have strong partners on both these teams, I am also accustomed to “training” new staff, making me a strong addition to a team with new members who may need patience and additional details or instructions. I have the capacity to take on additional duties while maintaining a work-life balance that allows me the time I need to focus on my other pursuits and responsibilities. 

When our policies, procedures, formats, language choices, and tone are aligned with the heart of our mission and vision and accurately reflect the way our work manifests in the world, we are at our best and most able to meet the needs of the folk we serve. I will bring my professionalism, experience, and willingness to learn to this role with all my heart. I truly believe this to be important and sacred work not only for the organization itself but for the folk of ADF and the communities we serve. Rev. Selnes, the outgoing Secretary, has done a tremendous job reinventing and updating the way we communicate with one another and with the folk, and I look forward to continuing that work, if I am selected to serve as ADF Secretary.

May the blessings of the Kindreds bless you and thank you for your dedication to the work of Our Druidry!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Update: Virtually Untamed Canceled

The previously announced companion event for the Untamed festival has officially been canceled due to lack of registrants, and honestly, I am pretty pleased with this decision. While I love the community of attending virtual events when I cannot attend in person, I am glad to see folks are taking up the in-person work of rebuilding relationships after such a long time spent apart. 

I am pretty burnt out, being one of the folks doing all the hard work to create online content while also working my day job. Staffing across health care continues to take its toll on the industry, and maintaining services is eating most of my time and focus. 

During this time of transition back, even with lingering COVID concerns, I am grateful for those of you who are spooling up as I approach a new level of burn-out. Thank you for providing places for us to pray and commune that are open and don't require more of me than my presence and attention. These events feed my soul and renew my strength for the work I must continue to do for the good of the tribe we call humanity. 

Blessings to you all!

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Next Rite of Passage

At 1:57 AM MDT in the company of care providers now known as The Birthday Party, my first grandson, River James, came into the world. He was 7 lbs 4.1 oz and 20 3/4" long. He has blonde hair and blue eyes and is the most beautiful and precious thing in the world.

A thing many of the current people in my life may not know is that I wasn't planning on having children when I was a young adult. I had big career goals, and I didn't want to have kids and then never be home for them. I like to commit fully to anything I do, and if I was going to be a mom, I wanted to be the mom those kids deserved, not send them off to daycare while I pursued my dreams. 

When I got pregnant with my eldest son, all of that was seemingly disappearing for me. I made the choice to be a mom, and that was where my primary efforts were going to be spent. I was 21 when he was born, and we had loads of good and difficult times as our family grew and changed together. I dropped out of school, mostly due to money issues, and went back to earn my associate's degree later, which has ironically led me to accomplish big career goals. My second child, Devin, was planned, and as seemingly par for the course, has been the most spirited of my progeny. She/They is turning into a beautiful mom already, and I am so proud of them. My youngest, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and crushing it in high school, is looking forward to meeting his nephew when they come home from the hospital today.

My Devin now lives across the street from us, deciding that they needed their mom during this pivotal time in life, and I cannot express the amount of joy that fills me when I reflect on these words and their meaning. I was enough, despite my flaws and mistakes, for them to want me to help them evolve as a mom. I did not often feel like enough, like I was definitely going to be the subject of many conversations with therapists (as most moms likely are), and hearing these words has been a balm on the guilt I feel for every one of my actions that may have caused harm to my precious children. 

I was invited to the birth, and I even got to cut the umbilical cord. Laboring with a soon-to-be new mom is a humbling experience, and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my days. There were no complications, and Devin was amazing. I am in awe of their strength and perseverance and their continued capacity to love. 

As I sit here with the whirlwind of labor, delivery, and antepartum fading into a sweet breeze of what is yet to come, I feel the liminality washing over me, reminding me that I am no longer who I was alone but am now becoming something and someone more. I stand beside those who have gone before me, who have survived to see their children bear children, and I hold my head with pride and purpose, with humility and attentiveness to their wisdom, as I do the work of Becoming these new experiences have afforded me. I am truly grateful for what I have already been given and the beautiful and wonderful things I see shimmering already on the horizon. Blessings abound. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March.”

Historically in Ancient Rome, March 15 was the deadline for settling debts, so if you owed someone and were not able to pay, there were potential consequences coming your way. The Ides were actually just the midpoint of the month, typically the 15th or the 13th, depending on the number of days in the months.

“Ides” translates as “to divide,” and it was originally used to designate the Full Moon after the Romans moved to the solar calendar in 43 BCE. March was the first month of the year until January and February were added years later. So, March 15th was the midpoint of the first month of the year and the time to settle your annual debts. Sacred to Jupiter, the Chief God of the Roman Pantheon, the Ides of March occurred during the New Year festivities, and many folk customs involved dressing an old man in animal skins and driving him from the city, sometimes violently, to represent driving out the old year.

Most of us are familiar with this turn of phrase because of the Shakespearean play, Julius Caesar. In the play, a soothsayer (e.g., an Oracle) warns Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.” The Soothsayer warns him a second time, and Caesar dismisses the man as a “dreamer.” Two Acts later, Caesar was assassinated on the steps of the Senate on March 15, the Ides of March.

What does this have to do with us in a modern context? Mostly, nothing. Ides is a word no longer in use in modern language, and when faced with a word we don’t know, particularly when the context is negative, we are likely to assume it means something bad. The phrase has been quoted often during the month of March whenever anything less-than-awesome happens, but there is no folk custom declaring it an unfavorable time of year. Something bad happened to one person, and we have internalized the potential for something bad to happen to us during that same time.

We are left with the idea of luck as we know it today. In Ancient times, fortune was based on individual destiny and the whims of the gods. But the idea that random bad things can happen, without sentient purpose, means that good things are equally as likely to randomly occur. And the notion of luck brings us hope, for when we are out of things we can do, something lucky may happen to alleviate our suffering.

Ides means divide. When something unlucky happens, the potential to divide us is as strong as the potential for us to come together. We have no control over what happens to us, but we do get to control how we react to it. I know it is hard to tap into my own compassion when in crisis mode, and it is a gift to see where I have room yet to grow.

Instead of “bewaring” the ides of march, my hope is that we be aware of what has the potential to divide us. May we all find room to grow together when faced with unlucky circumstances.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Announcement: Virtually Untamed

Greetings and Blessings, Community!

I am so excited to see in-person events offered in an ethical and healthy way, and I am even more excited that Untamed is finally moving forward! Long in the works, the vision for this event reflects my own blessings for the Front Range Pagan Community: safe space to gather in fellowship with like-minded individuals who want to share in the beauty of community. 

Even with my excitement, I will not be attending in person. The precautions I must take to keep my loved ones safe might look different than they do for others, but we are all making choices based on our own circumstances. 

Rev. William and the folks at Mountain Ancestors and HearthFire Sanctuary still believe in the importance of gathering and inclusivity, so we are pleased to be able to support those of us who are unable to show up in person with a virtual companion event! In previous years, Mountain Ancestors and HearthFire Sanctuary has held space at many local events for offerings, ritual, and divination, and we continue that tradition this year in a virtual space. 

Virtually Untamed is a day-pass event beginning with an invitation to the dawn and ending with a bardic circle where we hope to have the guests of the event share their songs, poetry, stories, and art with the community. This event will not be recorded.

At any time during the event, Rev. Missy or Rev. William will be available for 10-minute private divination sessions. If you need more time, they are happy to set up a separate pastoral meeting with you after the event.

We are currently taking Workshop proposals. If interested, please send a description of your session to: info@mountainancestors.org. You may also send in topics you would like to see someone else present.

For more information, check out Virtually Untamed page on the event website.

We look forward to “seeing” you there!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

In Like a Lion...

When I was a child, I was always fascinated with trite phrases. I enjoyed their quotable nature and how people looked at you like you were smart when you were able to recite them at a relevant time. For example, when someone (probably my little sister) was fatalistically rage-quitting a project because a part of it didn’t go as planned, I would quip, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” Yeah, I was that kid.

In school, we had a bulletin board that my teachers would redecorate at the beginning of the month, and my favorite was always “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb”—mostly because of the lion and lamb-themed art projects we would get to do. True to form, I still think of these clever turns-of-phrase and how they are relevant to various aspects of my life.

As we finally put 2021 to rest, this quote definitely came to mind. We rolled into 2022 like we were being chased by a lion! 2021 ended with fires and big snow and led straight into 2022 with threats of war in Kazakhstan, a volcano eruption in the South Pacific leveling half an island nation, resulting tsunamis as far north as Alaska, tornados in Florida, snow in the Carolinas, and underneath it all, an unprecedented, global surge of the Omicron variant. And the lion roared.

While the roar of the lion and all that it carries with it into 2021, the little quote from a little me give me hope, because after the lion stops roaring, the lambs will appear.

It is fitting to think of this during the early part of the year. After the winter holidays are over, many of our Ancestors began the planning for the promised Spring. The lambs who have spent the winter in their mother’s wombs are born, and the gift of milk came to the households, adding much-needed winter protein to the stores. Occasionally, a lamb would be born too early, before there would be any shoots of grass to feed it when it weaned, and these lambs graced the tables to remind the people that they already had what they needed to get them through.

Right now, the lion is still roaring, but there is hope on the horizon. As we look ahead into the coming year to plan what our focus will be and how we will achieve those new goals, we can find comfort in the fact that we are exactly where we need to be, everything is on time, and the lambs will be here before we know it. 

May the gift of perspective illuminate what is already around us to carry us through to the Promise of Spring.