Friday, December 19, 2008

Yuletide Blessings.

On December 14, 3CG performed the Yule Blessing Rite in full Nordic Fashion. Seamus and Tanrinia were our DICs, and the DotOs were Frigga and Odin.

I was called upon to do the Inspiration as our assigned Crane didn't show up. It was very rough. I learned that when one invokes Inspiration and feels an urge to sing, singing should ensue immediately. My words were not there, but my intent was true. To those who were not involved in the rite, I almost looked like I knew what I was doing.

We opened the Nine gates in Nordic Fashion. It was very beautifully done! I was inspired by the words our Gate-tender spoke, and I will most likely use them in solitary fashion in the future.

We did a blot during which much praise and honor was given to a myriad of the Kindred. There were some very meaningful and deeply moving speeches made over the horn!

Our omens were good, including Ingwaz, Perthro and Raidho. Raidho has been showing up quite frequently in our omens lately. Hmm....

I was in charge of Return Flow. It was awful for me! MJD told me that the only reason he knew things weren't going as planned was because we were sitting together before hand and he could see the signs of anxiety that he himself deals with before a rite. All in all, I again, managed to look like I knew what I was doing. I did nail the German words. :)

We then had a feast, in order to share our meal and merriment with the Kindred. It was a very nice touch to bless the hall and include the Kindred in our feast. I hope that this becomes a habit at Yuletide.

After our meal, we passed the horn to anyone else wanting to speak. It was an evening full of laughter and much grateful spirit. After we closed the gates, we finished tallying up our donations. The Grove issued a challenge: if we could raise $200 to go toward the purchase of baby formula for the shelters, the Grove would match it by half. Needless to say, the Cranes are donating $300 worth of formula for the cause. There were also several food items and toys going to the food bank and toy drive.

It was a great rite, and I learned a lot. I was called on to begin and lead all of the songs. As an aspiring Bard, I think this is very helpful, not to mention how moving it is to be entrusted with the music for the rites! I am glad that they have found me worthy to hold such an important role (read: important to me).

For the future, I must learn to operate in spiritual mode in public. Six years as a solitary have taken their toll on my tolerance for public speaking. I can sing in front of almost any crowd, but put me in front of a bunch of Druids and I freeze. Is it because I hold their opinion in such high esteem? Is it because I am unsure of my abilities? Is it because I feel inferior when compared to the other neopagan greats I have had the privilege of being in contact with? Who knows? I do know that I will be asking to perform more and more in our public rites. Maybe someday I can even be DIC! I am not ready now, but someday I will be, and I am confident that the Cranes will be supportive enough to lift me until I can fly on my own.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Drawing Down the Blessing.

At a recent Dedicant Meeting, we were reviewing our Samhain Rite. I played a guitar piece as stated in an earlier blog for the Return Flow portion of the rite. Several of us found that the music played while the water was passed amongst the participants helped to keep us focus on the rite and have a more meaningful experience. I have had problems experiencing the return flow with any sense of power when I am not at my home shrine, and I stated as much to them. After some brief discussions about why this might be, Seamus and MJD decided that I was to be in charge of the Return Flow portion of the Yule Rite this year. This way, I can do a comparison between the two and better analyze what might be blocking the flow of power for me.

I have been considering this task with great reverence. The Return Flow is one of the most powerful parts of ritual in my devotionals. I feel that trying to create that same sense of power in a public rite that I create at my shrine is a great responsibility. After no small amount of deep thought, it finally hit me why this is such an important item for me: Drawing Down the Moon.

I was a Wiccan for six years before I found Druidry, and as such I learned a thing or two about drawing the powers down upon yourself. I realized that when I do a Return Flow, I take the omen, the gift they give in return, and I focus my very being into placing that firmly into my cup that I may receive it. It was promised to me, and my offerings to them were accepted, so they have an obligation to pour forth that blessing, and my job is to harness and focus that blessing into a form that can be shared among the Kin.

Now that I know why this is such a big deal, I am hoping that my writing will come more easily. The version I do at home is somewhat Hellenic, but my Grove is doing a Nordic Yule with Odin as DotO. A little tweaking is definitely in order!

Wish me luck, and any suggestions would be helpful! It would be much easier if I could just do it with my guitar...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Samhain: In Honor of the Ancestors

At Samhain, we celebrate our Honored Dead and the God Cernunnos, Horned God, Keeper of the Ways. Samhain is the biggest grove rite of the year for Three Cranes, in terms of participant numbers, and this year was no exception.

Before the rite, we lit a circle of luminaries for light. Skarlett walked around the circle with incense, and I circled while playing my guitar to help clear the space. It was very centering. We processed in, offered to the Outdwellers, and entered our ritual space. AB said some beautiful words for divine inspiration, and AD did a deep breathing for grove attunement that was very grounding.

Our DIC was SB this year. He called on Cernunnos to assist us in opening the gates. After the greeting and offerings to the Kindred, we each tied a ribbon to a wreath with a few words for an ancestor. Seamus did an offering to the fallen dead, those who served, that was very moving. The Ancestors are still difficult for me to see as individuals. As a collective whole, I honor and offer to them with no problems, but when they are individualized, I am overwhelmed by emotion that I am only slowly learning to control. We offered the wreath to the fire and sang a chant as it burned.

Our omens were good: Perthro, Nauthiz and Berkano, Luck, Necessity, and Fertility. We are reminded during this time of year when all of nature is put to sleep to be mindful of our needs and remain fertile. The Kindred will be sure that our needs are met as long as we take the chance and trust in them. Our endeavors are necessary for internal growth. These are good omens.

During the return flow, while the cups of water were passed out, I performed Ian Corrigan’s repaganization of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” It helped to keep us focused on the rite and maintain the liminal state of mind. Several were moved to tears by the words of this piece. This is my first performance as a Bard, and I am humbled that my music was able to connect with the other participants. I have always known I was called to music, but after today’s rite, I think I might actually be able to realize this goal. I am sure it will be an uphill battle, as most journeys are, but the first taste of success has given me inspiration and motivation for moving forward as an ADF Bard. I am grateful to the Grove members for allowing me to perform this service and to the Kindred for providing me with the gifts that make it possible.

Troy of Athens took his Dedicant Oath. It was wonderful. His words and obvious dedication to Freyja moved me.

The rite ended well, and the potluck was terrific! We had a good variety of food and drink including several crock pots and hot mulled cider. Yum!

Samhain is about the Ancestors, and remembering them keeps them alive. Through us they are not forgotten, but live on. Hail, Ancestors!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Words to a song I wrote today.

In the midst of a crisis of faith, prayer is often the first to go, but this is exactly when you need to pray the most.

When I find myself alone again, and the world has got me down,
And no one cares about the hurts and heartaches that I’ve found.
I hear the call to enter into the realm my soul calls home,
To the place where all the gods and goddesses are free to roam.
I come before the Kindred with my brokenness and strife,
I pour my heart and soul into the story of my life.
I tell them all about the things I’ve done or I’ve ignored,
And sacrifice the gifts I bring in thanks, in praise, in joy.

And when I’ve finally laid myself to rest with tears upon my shrine,
I sit here where silence abounds,
And then Awen rains down.

Awen
Awen
Awen
Awen

When you’re feeling lonely, overworked or overjoyed.
The Kindred are awaiting you with knowledge to employ.
We are called to come into their presence and meet them in our hearts,
Offer up ourselves for all the gifts that they impart.
So when the whole world goes against you, and you feel laid to waste,
Meet your patrons, ancestors, and noble guides with haste.
Go to them, commune a while, and revel in their glow.
The most important gift they give is to know you’re not alone.

And after you've exchanged the gifts for gifts as we are called,
Take heart that all will soon circle ‘round
And then Awen rains down.

Awen
Awen
Awen
Awen

Monday, October 27, 2008

Putting yourself out there.

I have been a musician for most of my life. Correction, publicly I have been a cover musician for most of my life. I have written a few pieces, but very rarely have I shared them with others. I tend to pour myself into these pieces, and I have difficulties with pride (mostly) when it comes to sharing. So I don't. I don't play original music or post lyrics or poems. I find it easier to never share them than to be met with criticism. There are many psychological reasons for this, but mostly, I would rather not share at all then have someone tell me that what I created, what I gave life to, is bad.

Recently, I wrote a song, and I posted it. And only one person replied, who loved it. I still reread some of the words he said about my song as inspiration to share more of my work. Well, today I finally figured out how to make a recording, and I posted that, too, and either no one has bothered to listen to it, or no one likes it, or it is too mediocre to receive comment. Or any number of things that are going through my head right now. So someone, anyone on the Bards list, please listen to my song. It doesn't matter if you like it, just let me know you cared enough to listen.

I have learned today that silence is the worst criticism I can receive, because it opens me up to criticize myself...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Spiritual Growth.

In a lot of ways, I still see myself as a budding young pagan, struggling to find her way through the trees. Then, I have an epiphany that reminds me how far I have truly come.

Something funny happened to me today during my devotional: I understood what the gods were telling me when I pulled my runes. I looked at them together, and I got it. I mean, I understood what they were saying AND what I am to do about it. This is a big deal for me, as I have had many troubles with interpretation over the past several months.

This weekend, I went though my divination journal and re-evaluated all of my omens for the past three months. On the suggestion of a friend, I took my three omens for each day and created a sentence (or two) that encompassed what the Kindred were saying to me. Unfortunately, hindsight showed me just how much of their words went unheeded on my part. There is one day in particular that clearly says: speak to the ancestors, which I, of course, did not.

I did not have to look up the runes I drew today, and of this I am very proud, for today I stopped drawing runes, and I started taking omens...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Does Polyamory make it difficult to make friends?

This is a question I have been trying to answer for several months now. After several failed attempts at friendship, I have determined the answer is, "yes."

I have always been blunt about who I am, what I believe, and what my intentions are with the people in my life. Recently, I have been trying to make friends with some people I met with similar beliefs, etc. Some of them are local, some of them are not, but it is proving quite difficult to become friends with other polys. I thought it would be nice to have people in my life with whom I can discuss the stresses and issues and emotions that are specific to the polyamorous lifestyle--people who would understand.

What do I think is the potential cause? Perhaps many of them do not have pure intentions when they make new friends, so find it hard to believe when I state as much--particularly since I am only currently involved in one relationship. Do all polys think I am looking for something more? Possibly. I typically do not have a hard time making friends, but it seems that when I meet another poly, the friendship never really develops. My life partner said that maybe I am so attractive that it is too distracting to be my friend. This is why he's my life partner. :)

Perhaps I come on too strong for them. I know that many of the polys I have met have a tendency toward mysterious that I do not share. Or maybe they just don't have time for new people in their lives, since they are in so many relationships in addition to the typical requirements of life as an adult.

How does it make me feel? Well, since polyamory implies that there is always the possibility that a relationship can evolve into more than a friendship over time, I fear that I am not attractive enough to entertain the possibility of a potential relationship in the future. I.E. if they are not attracted to me now or have no intentions of pursuing me romantically in the future, then there is no point in a friendship. I think this point of view makes me the most sad of all. A lot of really good friendships are being thrown away, or worse never started at all, because of sexual attraction. I think I am going to stop telling people about my orientation for a while and see what happens. I fear it will be hard to keep quiet since one of the first things that polys do is ask you if you are polyamorous, and I refuse to lie.

Whatever the cause, I am fortunate enough to have many friends who love me (not in that way) for who I am, and I plan on being friends with them for many, many years to come. Who needs new friends anyway?

I do... :(

Friday, September 26, 2008

All Fall Down and Grove Anniversary. So much has been going on...

...that I am not sure where to start!

Last weekend was the Ninth Annual All Fall Down Festival. This is a free local music festival co-hosted by my husband and some people we know. I played a forty minute set and was encored--twice! It was an excellent day. My autistic son made it all day, with only one trip in the car to help him fall asleep at nap time. My oldest son caught two fish, and my daughter was just the darling-in-pink all day. I made the food: steaks on the grill, potatoes, veggies, mushrooms, corn. Bonfire in the evening, and music, music, music! Excellent performances by all.

Sunday was the Grove Anniversary rite for Three Cranes Grove, ADF. I took my 5-year-old daughter with me. SHe volunteered to do Outdwellers. I love her. I did my first public prayer--I invoked the Shining Ones. It went well. I just used the words I would use at my shrine. The irony in me performing the Shining Ones was not lost on me. This position had me make an offering to the fire. For those of you who don't know, I have had quite a rough go about fire offerings. They make me nervous. But, it was a good rite with very positive omens.

Tuesday, my husband, brother-in-law, friend and I drove to Detroit to see Sigur Ros!!! It was, by far, the best show I have ever seen in my life. That is saying a lot coming from me. I have seen at least a hundred shows, if not more, in my time. (Music is kinda my thing.) From the first note, the performance was full of energy so intense that my eyes watered for the first three songs before I adjusted. I even found myself slipping into trance at one point and had to shake it off as awen rained down...

Wednesday was the first day of school for me. I am officially a college student now! I have five chapters to read by next week, two discussion posts and a math/essay question assignment. (Did I mention something raining earlier? It wasn't homework was it?) Wish me luck, because I am going to need it!

I did my Equinox rite, which I will write up later. I thought it went well, but my offerings were not accepted the first or second try. I was surprised by this because everything seemed to be going well. I'll have to reflect more and see what I can come up with.

All in all, it has been a whirlwind of a week, and I am grateful to have nothing scheduled for this weekend--including work! Two whole days with the family. See you all Monday! :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For...Yar.

So, studying the myths of the Greeks and whatnot, one cannot help but run into our beloved Eris, Goddess and Guardian and Causer of Chaos.

*ahem*

Yesterday, a friend was discussing with me how terribly chaotic her life has been lately, to which I responded in all my wisdom and vision, "Chaos is good for you. It helps you reorganize and refocus when things around you become mundane. A little Chaos never hurts." (I'm sure you can see where I am going with this...)

Today, my husband woke me up at 6:45 to tell me the van won't start, and the alternator is bad. He missed work because of it. While he was trying to take the alternator out, it began pouring. I am standing outside in the white t-shirt I slept in, with no bra on, holding a wrench that I must not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE let go of.

While we were doing this, my new puppy (adorable, cute, lovable puppy) rolled in what I am hoping is mud. Couldn't get the alternator out, so we go inside. Stops raining. I gave the dog a bath, and he jumped out of the tub and into my lap. Dog gets all excited and jumps up onto the counter, knocking my favorite coffee cup onto the floor--and into a million-billion pieces. Yes, with coffee in it.

I did find a ride to work, but I had to go two hours early and work my friend's shift. :( Kids weren't home from school yet when I left. Work is a mess. There are only five people here to run seven benches (laboratory work). We barely got dinner breaks covered. We had to call someone in to help us catch up. Analyzer went down in Hematology, AND the guy who was supposed to come in at 7 is a no call/no show.

So, here I sit, in the gas lab where our no-call-guy was supposed to be while all of my machines are calibrating--at the same time. I am waiting to run this blood gas. Stat, blood gas. The nurse will be calling any minute to ask me where her results are.

And what can I do about any of this? Absolutely nothing.

*sigh*

Very funny, Eris....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Completing DP Essays and the Importance of a Solitary Druid

Finished revising my nine virtues essays, again (still waiting for feedback from a friend on Hospitality).
Finalized my essays on the high days.
Finished my Home Shrine Essay.
Finished my book report for A History of Pagan Europe.
Finalized essays for the three high days I have attended thus far.
Finished Shining Ones portion of Kindred essay.

Half-way through Being a Pagan.
Began Nature Spirits portion of Kindred Essay.
Began Dedicant Oath Rite text/completed two of the five songs.

Haven't started Two Powers Essay yet, though I have used it many times.
Still compiling journal entries for Mental Discipline and Nature Awareness activities.

Hearth Culture Chosen: Hellenic.
Still compiling information.
Reading. Reading. Reading.

I still have a long way to go, but I am moving at a good pace. The items I have finished will be reread in a few months, when they are not as fresh. I am pleased with my progress so far. I have not been able to attend as many of the Grove activities as I would like, but I knew when I started that I would spend quite a bit of time as a Solitary still. I am grateful that I have a Grove like Three Cranes who supports the solitary members of the local community. They allow me to be involved as little or as much as I can, and this freedom has helped me to flourish in a short amount of time. I encourage other Groves to reach out to the Solitaries in your area! The greatest thing you can do for them is show them you are there and constant, but allow them to be involved at their own pace. We aren't "cats that need to be herded." We are individuals who have different schedules and different patterns of privacy. We love our Gods, live fruitful lives, and just need the space to be who we are. Assimilation is not our strong point, but that doesn't mean we don't have anything to offer in the group setting. We can be resources for the Groves. We lead out own rites, so we understand the stresses of DIC. We can show you how to be organized enough to carry an entire Shrine for a high day all by yourself! We write a lot of our own prayers and rituals, even songs and chants. Above all else, we are working on and completing the study programs, just like the Grove members. We study and pray and do all the same things the Groves do--we just do them alone.

Let your Solitaries be examples of inner strength, discipline and independence.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kindergarten and College.

Well, I did it. I took my daughter to her first day of kindergarten today. She is so sweet and cute and little; can she really be ready for school? The answer to this question is a resounding, "yes."

My son, Patrick, who is now 9 and in the fourth grade, cried piteously when I took him to school, AND I had to literally drag him to school for the next two weeks before he broke and realized he was just going to have to go. Not Jessie. She walked in there like she owned the place. It makes my heart feel full to see her so confident and self-assured. I know she will do well. She is bright and determined (nice way of saying stubborn, haha). I am so proud of her. I am also proud of myself as I did not cry one bit (a feat for me)!

I finally got my youngest son, Timmy's school assignment, and his new teacher is coming over to do an in-home evaluation on Tuesday. I am nervous to send my baby off to yet another school for therapy/pre-school, but I know it is important. I am hoping for some good progress this year. Autism is not a disease that needs cured, but it is a disability for which he must learn to compensate. He has come farther than I hoped over the long summer days with speech and communication in general. Here's hoping for a good year!

I, too, officially registered for classes. I am finishing my bachelor's degree in medical laboratory technology through an online program at the University of Cincinnati. I am a little nervous; I have not attended any classes in SEVERAL years, but I have high expectations of myself. (Don't we all? Why not Excellence?)

I hope that as we come down from our summer highs and wind down into the darker and quieter time of the year that we can all remain productive and full of joy. This summer has been one that will forever be special to me--it is the year of my homecoming, and the first year of the rest of my life, cliched as that is. I look forward to getting to know all of you better and see where this path will lead us!

Now, off to finish my article...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summerland recap!

Wow.

This was my first pagan festival, ever, and I can't believe I have never done this before! My emotions after this is over are still stirred up by all the wonderful new friends I have made and the incredible strengthening of the bonds I am making with my new grove (Yeah, I'm a Crane).

For those of you who weren't there, I will recap as briefly as I can (I could type here for hours about this). I was unable to go until Friday afternoon, and I got to camp around 3:00. SB helped me set up camp near some of the other Cranes. I spent some quiet time getting to know those camping around me until we had dinner. I met another Hellene, who camped directly across from me. She is a pleasure to be around, and I look forward to spending more time talking with her in the future.

The Bardic Circle was Friday night. I loved hearing all the things that everyone is working on. I had a bit too much liquid courage before I played my guitar, but it still turned out ok. For some reason, I find the Druids to be intimidating when it comes to revealing personal talents of my own. I know this is silly and comes from a long line of judgmental individuals with whom I have had the "pleasure" of critiquing my work. Anyway, everyone was really nice and accepting. After that, I had a very healing conversation with one of my new friends. She was kind and generous and said many wise things that I am still processing and hoping to integrate into my life.

Drum circle was awesome!! I met several people here, drunk as I was, and had lots of fun. I even danced for a minute (which is a lot for me). I tried my hand at drumming, but I was in desperate need of rest and detoxification (haha).Saturday was one of the best days of my life. I spent some excellent time in the dining hall having conversations with fellow Cranes and some very smart and witty Druids from other groves. We talked politics and sacred space and whatever else came up. I have been around many pagans, but none of them were able to hold their own in conversations pertaining to such daunting and obviously intellectual subjects.

After lunch, I went to the well with Shawn, who was in need to some healing and rejuvenation. We prayed, left offerings, collected water and communed with the Kindred. It was an excellent reprieve, and proved to be strengthening for us both. Unfortunately, I think I became dehydrated , causing me to have a cardiac episode. I have not had one in a while, and I found this to be disturbing. We went into the Dining Hall, had some water, and sat under the fans. It passed after about fifteen minutes. It was a long one, but I recovered with no other incident. It did leave me rather tired, but I ignored it, and it went away.

The Unity rite was beautiful. Two people were consecrated. It brought tears to me eyes. I was very pleased with the call to the Earth Mother and the use of the Sky Father for inspiration. They are dear to me, and their presence was felt after the beautiful words given to them. druidkirk is an excellent orator. He has much theatrical skill, which when accompanied by his devotion to the gods can probably move mountains. I enjoyed having him as our DIC for the Rite.

Our omens were incredible, and definitely were carried out that evening. We received Wealth, Joy and Fertility. Woot!

Dinner was great. I made some good friends over dinner. One of whom is a Wiccan Priestess and a beautiful person. She has a store about thirty miles from where I live. I will have to visit so we can talk! The auction was a hot mess. Our Druid auctioneers were lively and boisterous. Chronarchy was pleased to see his creations go for higher amounts than he anticipated (which was deserved; I saw the items and was impressed).

All in all, I think it was very successful.

Dulahan was excellent. They are high energy and fun, and they put on a heck of a show. I made some great connections during their performance. I talked and laughed (and drank) and had a great time.

Something interesting (?) happened after that, which I will not discuss here.

By the time I made it to the drum circle, it was late and the drummers were winding down. I stayed and talked and danced (and tripped over a bench). It was a powerful few hours for me internally. I made some new friends that I look forward to getting to know. It was encouraging to meet them, as we have a lot in common. I like kindred spirits. :)

Breakfast was good after only a few hours of sleep. It was rather surreal to return to normal functioning. Summerland at times feels outside of time and space, which I assume to be a gift from the Kindred. I broke camp in a record thirty minutes, so I went to find others who needed help. Everyone seemed to be well organized. I ended up barcoding shirts for Regalia. It is nice to help get things like that accomplished.

I was sad to go, but I deeply missed my children. When I got home, I was appropriately mauled by them. I took a shower after throwing my disgusting dirty clothes in the wash, followed promptly by a moment with the hubby and a nice long nap.

My only regret is the amount of alcohol I drank. I know that there are plenty who had more than me, and I probably needed the release. My life can be stressful to the point of emotional exhaustion, and I am always the one responsible for everyone and everything else. I am glad that I was among friends and able to "let loose" in such a way. I don't really know how much I had because I didn't keep track. Me! Didn't count and measure! I have guilt, but I am grateful for the reprieve from the zealous organization and almost OCD restraints I tend to use to bind myself. My shoulders haven't been this loose in ages!

Overall, this has been an experience that is changing me and helping to set the course of my life. I feel more sure than ever that I am finally where I belong. Thank you, Druids, for being who you are. It turns out you are a lot like me. Who could ever ask for more than that? Hail!

PS) Thanks to Jim for saying the words "Poo-poo" and "Underwear" several times to ensure I didn't get too homesick. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Solitaries...

In an attempt to "rally the troops" recently, we have been discussing quite a bit on the ADF Solitaries list. It seems that many of them are interested in fellowship and community of sorts, almost grove-like affiliation with one another, while others are very against any attempts to "herd the cats." I find both of these points of view to be very interesting.

Firstly, let me discuss the Solitaries in search of fellowship. I understand them. I am one of them. I have recently become affiliated ("Friend of the Grove") with the local grove here. I was a lonely solitary. I spent all my high days alone, when in my mind there were huge feasts and bonfires and dancing and music. The live high day rites I attended were not like I had imagined, either. Funny thing is, even if you don't find what you thought you wanted, you may realize that you found the best thing for you.

All this aside, I will never give up my solitary practices. Solitary work is the backbone of my faith. It is during this time that I foster relationships with my Patrons. This is the time I use to find out where I am and where I need to be going. So, in the interest of the Solitaries looking for fellowship, I think that having an active place for them to commune with like-minded individuals is an excellent way to fulfill this need in their lives. I furthermore feel that having a quarterly newsletter that lets you tell other Solitaries what you are doing is an excellent way to foster unity among the members of the most diverse group in ADF.

Secondly, the individuals who find this idea to be negative are harder for to understand. I can accept that the Solitary list is there, but it's presence does not mean that it is doing it's job. There have been entire months that have gone by without seeing a single post to the Solitaries List. I really feel that we are at a point where we must take action to attempt to network the solitaries and make us feel more of an integral part of ADF. After all, Solitaries statistically make up over 50% of the members! In addition, if a solitary member does not wish to participate in things geared toward Solitaries then why join a solitaries group? Besides, the projected activities are not requirements. Every person has the right to chose whether to take part or not in any activity we suggest. There seems to be some unresolved anger issues regarding attempts to unite the Solitary ADF members, and I might be too new to understand.

For now, I am afraid I will have to just agree to disagree with this vein of thinking.Finally, I would like to note that I have probably just created a lot of work for myself in regards to archiving solitary rites and the like on the Wiki, but I want everyone to know that it is worth it. I only wish someone else had done this before I was here. I think a resource like this a few months ago would have made a big difference to where I am today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Solitary Lughnasadh

The responsibilities of family lead me to miss the rite for Lughnasadh with Three Cranes this year, so I found myself in the position of solitary Druid for my first High Day since becoming a Druid. After working with the COoR for a few months, this was not as difficult a task as I thought it would be. There are a few minor details I missed, because I tried to do it all from memory, but other than that it went very well.

I gathered together my materials and did my Rite outside by my fire pit. I found enough sticks and such around the yard to have a small fire—but big enough for my purposes. I set up an altar with a pitcher and a chalice for the Waters of Life, three candles for the Kindred. My wand, and a bowl of water for the Well.

After grounding and centering, I stated my purposes. I offered dried lavender to Garanus (in the fire) and opened the gates. I offered steel cut oats to the Earth Mother. I read a poem about the Kindred and lit a candle for each in turn. Then I offered sticks of a special type of incense to the fire, one for each Kindred.

The main deities of my rite were Lugh, Rosmerta, and Tailtiu. I read a poem written by MJD from Three Cranes about the Marriage of Lugus to Rosmerta. I also told a story that I improvised about Tailtiu clearing the land and sacrificing herself for the people—just as a King does. Like mother, like son, eh? I also offered a shot of Wild Turkey to the flame—which was quite dramatic since it had died down considerably during the first part of the rite.

Omens. Beautiful. The first was Laguz. Offering accepted. The second was Eihwaz, and the third was Perthro (again). The message I received is one of moving forward but slowly to build a solid foundation that enhances life with change, not causes constant turmoil and chaos (though occasional chaos can sometimes work in your favor). The primary layers must be strong and sturdy in order for the rest of the structure to be solid and lasting. It also seems I am on the right path.

I performed the return flow for the Waters of Life and drank a measure that I poured into my chalice. This is not something I do during daily devotionals, so I used a scripted piece I found as a reference.

I dismissed the Kindred and closed the gates. The rite was ended!

A few notes: I did not use much music. I was outside by myself at 11:00 at night, and the mosquitoes were terrible. I also did not use a full two powers meditation because the mosquitoes were too distracting. Instead, I used an old breathing pattern technique I have used for years to calm and center in preparation for a performance—which is a lot like being DIC. There is a lot to do in a ritual for a high day. I definitely could have used at least one other person to assist with tending the fire and making the offerings readily available. I had to turn on the flashlight to find things several times! All in all, I am pleased with this Rite. I have learned a few things that will help the next time I have to do a solitary high day—which I am sure will happen. Being the only Druid in a family of five can be difficult, but I know that the gods don’t care where I am when I call to them—only that I call.

Offerings accepted—hooya!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Swimmingly. (Spirits of Place Rite)

Yup, that's how things are going in my spiritual life. Swimmingly.

I recently took up Runes (again), and it is going much better than I had ever hoped. I have been keeping a "rune diary" to track my progress, look for trends, evaluate my progress, etc. I have noticed several runes showing up for me everyday for a while, and then being replaced by another rune that will appear habitually for a while. Sometimes, a rune will appear several days in a row, but change positions in my spread, which I have noted indicates progress in that area.

Today, I finally did a rite specifically to honor the "spirits of place" in my home. I purchased my home in January of 2002, and it has never occured to me that spirits in my home might be interested in a *ghosti relationship with me. I offered them crackers with honey and said some lovely words about the peace and prosperity that has been in my home since we moved here. I was gracious and open with my thanks and specific with the details for what I was thanking them. I also explained to them that I included them in my heart when I give thanks and offerings to the Nature Spirits, for that is what they are to me.

My omens were very positive: Laguz, Fehu and Perthro.

I feel great after having done this, and I look forward to developing this relationship in the future.

Oh, and puppy is awesome!

All is well at La Casa de Burchfield...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A New Addition!

I am pleased to announce that my family and I got a new puppy this morning! He is a full-bred Golden Retriever. The kids have christened him "Buddy." He is absolutely adorable!

I have never considered myself a dog person. I like dogs, but I have never been prone to be affectionate with dogs that I don't know. I have a dog. She has been mine since she was weened from her mom. Actually, runt that she was, she was pushed out by her siblings when she was 4 weeks old. We took our larthargic little puppy home, and I fed her dog food soaked in milk from a spoon for weeks! She has been my dog for almost 13 years, and I love her.My husband has decided that we should get another dog before Roxy gets too much older (or dies, heavens forbid!) so the puppy will have a role model and Roxy can have a "youthful inspiration" around her. Really, I think he just wanted a puppy, but he didn't have to tell me twice!

So, we toted the kids down to the animal shelter and didn't find any dogs of a fitting disposition. We ended up at (gasp!) a pet store near my house where we get all our supplies for our existing animals (Roxy, parrot, fish). We were originally looking for a Labrador, but settled on possibly a German Shepard until we saw our little fur baby. He was sleeping in his cage, all curled up in a ball in the corner. I knew he was mine when I saw him.

He has been gentle and fun and happy all day so far. He likes his crate, as they said he would, so we don't have to worry about him getting into trouble at night or if we have to (rarely) leave him alone. Interestingly, I would like to add what I have learned about Godlen Retrievers. They are loyal and gentle-spirited dogs. They are often companions for disabled or mentally insufficient individuals. Having an Autistic child, I could not be more happy with our choice of pet. Timmy has been giving him a wide berth so far, and he won't stay out of the cage (I know, right?), but other than that, I hope they can learn to play together. It will be excellent interaction therapy for my little boy.Thank the gods for the companionship of animals. They really do make life on this plain richer, fuller and more rewarding.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Success again!

I did another full ritual today, and it went just as well as the first. My new meditation is doing wonders for centering and entering into the proper mind frame before I begin.

Omens for today were just as good. Offerings accepted? I drew Ingwaz. Yes!
Gifts in return? Gebo--gifts, sacrifice.
Further needs the gods have of me? Raidho--journey.

I am not exactly sure what they are requiring of me, but I do know that they are there and taking part in my spiritual journey. It seems they are going to meet me where I am and help me move ahead from there. I guess they were just waiting for me to prove to them--and to myself--that I am serious about this...

Here's to an even brighter tomorrow!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Team Estrogen Gig

I played my first gig with Team Estrogen in eight months over the weekend, and it went very well! We played at a private nursery/art show at the Scioto Gardens in Dublin. I forgot how much fun it is to play live. We did an entire two-hour set (no set break), and we were very tired by the end. But it was well worth it! The music tent was located in between the Natural Beeswax candles and the food tent. It smelled really good in there! The tables were set up in front of our tent, so the lunchers had a nice view of our show. Plus, it was high traffic, so our audience was never empty. It was exhilarating to see smiling faces every time I looked out into the audience.

I got some very good compliments, as well. Many people walking by thanked us in between songs for "the nice addition to an already great atmosphere." I heard one woman tell my counterpart, "I've never heard anyone cover the Indigo Girls as well as you two." And a woman stopped me later and told me how impressed she was with a cover I did of an Evanescence song: "I can't believe you covered 'My Immortal!' I heard those first couple of chords and realized what you were playing and thought, Good luck! But you nailed it!"Ahhh...it feels good to have your ego boosted!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ritual Success!

Today was a good day...

I have decided to do my devotionals every other day and begin doing Rune meditations on the off days. Yesterday was my first Rune meditation. I drew Tyr. I read through the lines in the Rune poem and then read the interpretation of Tyr in the book that came with the Runes. Then, I just pondered. I also started a separate meditation journal for my Rune meds.

Today, I did a full ritual without my cheat sheet. It went superbly! I remembered all the parts. I started with the Earth Mother. I gave her an offering today. I then performed an improvised two powers. I have modified the wording to my own design, but it is the same basic imagery. I start with the Earth Mother and draw from her, and then reach toward the Sky Father, allowing the energies to mix within my core. I had to find a way to stop saying loin (heehee--see what I mean).

From there, I offered to Garanus (I know, I am such a Crane!) and asked him to assist me in opening the gates. At this time, I also acknowledged the unknown Goddess who has shown herself to me in the mists. She has appeared to me several times, and I am unsure who she is, but I am beginning my search much the same way I did with Persephone.After the gates were opened, I lit my candles for the Kindred one at a time, and made their offerings as I lit the respective candles. I them offered to each of my patrons in turn. I spoke my prayers of thanks and whatever else was in my heart. I made my final offering.I took omens using the Runes. It was very positive. My first rune was Raidho--journey. Definite yes on the offerings! I then pulled Algiz and Eihwaz, protection and strength. I feel loved today. :)

I thanked everyone in turn. I closed the gates and ended the rite. I then tossed my offering out the window (steel cut oats into my backyard).It felt good to have such a positive experience today. I know the gods have been pushing me a little hard, and now that I have stopped pushing back, I am hoping to finally make some progress. Now, if I can just finish A History of pagan Europe...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bad Writing.

I am currently drudging through A History of Pagan Europe by Pennick and Jones. The information is invaluable, but the further I read, the more irritated I am becoming over the lack of structure and organization in this book.

I am currently reading the chapter on the Germanic peoples. While reading a passage entitled "Early Germanic Religion," I had to take a break. I got to the line on pg 116 that said, "These were the western Germans" and I was through! It then begins to discuss the eatern Germans, but not about the same items described for the Western tribes. I am assuming that the line stated above means that all the paragraphs back to the last subheading are referring to the Westerners, but it never says when the western-specific discussion begins. Plus, every once in a while, they had another fact about the Celtic peoples in that was never discussed in the chapters to thier effect.

This book has a lot of very good information. The discussions of Hellenic and Roman practices are seemingly well done (judging from the basic information I had prior to reading this book), but beginning with the sections on the Celts and getting worse with the Germans, it is an organizational nightmare! It jumps around in time and in locality, and the subheadings are not indicative of what the following paragraphs are going to be about. Also, there are no maps of any areas outside the one that shows the maximun expanse of the Roman empire found at the beginning of the book. I am finding myself supplementing more and more of this book with additional materials just to make it make sense...and I haven't even begun to read about the slavic or vedic religions!

I typically do not have any difficulty understanding and learning from the books that I read, but I am going to have to read a few celtic/germanic specific titles after I finish this book (and probably slavic, and vedic, and roman, haha). I am getting a general overview of ancient times, but the details are very scattered and difficult to retain in thier present state.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

ComFest Solstice Rite

This morning was the second Midsummer ritual for the Cranes, and it went rather well! We met at their booth at our local Community Festival (ComFest). It began to pour as we were doing our pre-ritual briefing. We sent our lone-Druid SB over to the proposed location of the rite (since he had an umbrella) to see if we should opt to hold the ritual in the tent.

Amazingly, as we were deciding the best course of action would be to uphold our ghosti relationship with the ComFest official schedulers and brave the rain, it stopped. The Sun was shining during the rite! We all carried the altar materials over to the site. Mg did the Outdwellers (They got the prettiest donut and a large cup of coffee). We had a few new faces, apparently, but being new myself, it is hard to tell sometimes.

The centering went much better for me than last week. I was able to focus and center myself pretty easily--but I do my best meditations in the morning. I found myself moving into trance and had to force myself to look around. It was very refreshing!

The intoning was new and very different for me. I tend to view all music from a musicians standpoint, and I found the randomness of the notes to be rather distracting. I am currently working on an "Awen," for lack of a better word. It is more of a grove attunement that includes a centering and a vocalization designed to induce a meditative state and to cycle energy. It works for me, but I have never played it for anyone else...seems I need a guinea pig. Hmmm.... It would actually go well with Lughnassadh, because of the imagery in the words.

The opening of the gates and the welcoming of the Kindred were very powerful. There was a lot of heart put into it. I know this ritual in particular is a lot more about show, but the piety was there. The show was there, but the strength behind it was worship and devotion to the gods. MJD told the story of Sulis and Taranus for our working portion of the rite. It was very entertaining. Storytelling is a skill I have gotten pretty good at (three children) so I was happy to see someone else who speaks in the voices of his characters! Well done. We did not take omens so much as we had S use a divination tool I have not seen before--kinda like a di, with multiple sides. Our gifts from the Kindred were Community, Healing and Growth.

We ended the rite shortly thereafter as the first act on the stage behind us was beginning. The omens spoke greatly to me. I have been seeking community and healing, and I am finding both. I had a difficult (for me) conversation with S as we walked back to the tent about losing some important people in my life.

I still find it difficult to talk about (especially since some of the health problems of my ancestors are beginning to manifest themselves in me), but time brings healing and acceptance. I fear I was a bit neurotic during our conversation, but I think he understands. :) I look forward to growth. I find that new growth has a way of repairing the hurt parts of me and making them into something else more fruitful and useful. I met several other members of the grove, and everyone is so nice. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone better and becoming a bigger part of the 3CG family. My heart is full.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Solstice Ritual

I arrived just before the pre-ritual briefing. There were nine people there, and adding me rounded us out to a nice, even ten. It was a beautiful day. The sky was promising eventual rain, but our spirits were high and no amount of rain was going to keep us from the task at hand. Besides, the gods don’t care if it’s raining!

During the briefing, it became clear that this was going to be a group-effort, with everyone taking responsibility for various parts of the rite. Like the Grove member’s said, today’s ritual was apparently for the family. This is significant to me. I have not belonged to a religious group, or affiliated with, or worshiped along side of, or done much more than practice my solitary faith in several years. The idea that I was accepted on this day as family, and they meant it, was deeply moving to me.

We did the Outdweller’s Offering just off the path and processed in about twenty-five feet. Not far, but far enough to get the mood established. The attunements and songs chosen for the day helped to remind us that summer is a joyful time, a time of smiling, laughter and happiness. We could hear the children playing on the playground and the soft murmur of the other picnickers. I had a difficult time focusing during the meditations, but I did enjoy communing with the sounds of the season, and my mind was eventually set properly for the task at hand.

The opening of the gates was not as disorienting as at Beltane, since I was prepared for it, but it did fill me with reverence for meeting with the Kindred. It was comforting, like being at prayer at home. I made my first fire offering to the Kindred. After a long history of fear of fire, and two house fires in my immediate friend’s and family member’s homes—one two weeks ago in which everything was lost, I think it went well. I was not aware that pouring wine onto a fire is the equivalent of pouring water, which makes me feel silly for choosing it was my offering (or for not offering it in the right place), but since there was little chance of it going up (like Michael’s offering) it was a good choice for me. (Maybe at Lughnassadh I will try whiskey—or just pour my wine by the tree.)

Our Deity of the occasion was Belenos, the God of Heavenly Light. I think that in the future I will make a point of knowing who our Deity is before I arrive at ritual, so that I may be prepared to offer to Him (or Her) as well. Though I did not bring an offering for Him, the prayers and words lifted to Him during the Main offering were inspiring.

When we moved to the omens, I was not surprised that our offerings were not accepted. (Knight of Spears: No.) I have been having some troubles in this area, and I was almost expecting this. I misplaced the mini pinecone I found on a hike that I was planning on offering to my patron, which is not that big of a deal…unless you (I) do not make any other offerings in its stead. Several of us made additional offerings; I poured an additional quantity of wine around the fire for Persephone. Our offerings were then accepted. (Three of Spears: Yes.)
The messages the gods have for us in return indicate a time of celebration, growth and merriment. (Four of Spears: High spirits, recognition and celebration are all at hand. Now is the time to move on to a new phase of growth. Much will be gained from the upcoming experiences that will bring about a stronger sense of community and closeness to others. Forge ahead with confidence and goodwill.)

And finally, the Kindred have asked from us in return, or in this instance I prefer to think of it as our homework, is to let go of a painful past/past sorrows. (Five of Swords, Reversed: a time where the focus is too broad and details are being missed. It's important to step back and examine everything that is happening, and to recognize the little things [including the things that are holding us back.] Pay attention to detail.)

I did note that the interpretations from my deck are a little different than the ones we received during the omen. They are different decks, and omens are read as is appropriate for the Grove at the time, even if not in the strictest sense of the card’s meaning. I feel the interpretations of the omens were entirely correct, and I trust that I heard what was meant for my ears and spirit to hear. I have some terribly painful sorrows from the past, especially in matters of religion. It has been a difficult journey, but I feel that these omens are telling us that it is time to let the past be the past and move ahead into the future. I have also gathered that others present received similar internal messages.

We ended the rite beautifully, and shared a meal by the fire. It was a very nice evening, and I have made many new friends. I am beginning to really feel that I belong in this Grove.

On a personal note, I finally inquired about becoming a friend of the Grove. I am nervous about moving away from solitary practice, but I am grateful for what I have learned and for the ability to practice on my own. Here’s why:

Once I was home, I found the pine cone. It was on the counter with the dirty dishes, of all places. It did not belong to me, so I felt that I could not keep it. I held an additional full ritual the following day instead of just doing my daily devotional. I have added a Trigaranus representation to my shrine, and I am working with him as my gatekeeper. Opening the gates went very well. I seem to have found a gatekeeper that is willing to work with me. I welcomed the Kindred from my heart and not with a written work this time. I spent a little time just talking to them. For my offering, I lit the pinecone in the sand where I usually burn my cones, and it burned just like incense with no flame and a nice pine-scented smoke. It took a while to burn, and per my last conversation with Persephone, I waited patiently and even began to sing while it burned. The words they gave me in song are as follows:
Smoke and Fire and Well and Tree
I give my love to the Kindred, Three.
Ancestors, Nature Spirits, Mighty Sidhe,
Shining Ones—Accept my offering!
I have not gotten to the place where I lose track of time yet, but I think this was a step in the right direction.

I took omens, and this is what I have learned:
1. Was my offering accepted? Six of Swords (Science, Focus) and Four of Disks (Power). (These cards stuck together, so I have kept them both)—Yes.
2. Gifts the Kindred Offer in Return? Nine of Swords (Cruelty)-Needs Dignified-Adjustment (VIII-Justice) Anxiety is clouding the truth and stifling creativity, but balance, honesty and harmony are there. Use wisdom in decision making and be sure to weigh options carefully. In short, I interpret this as a sign that I need to boost my confidence. I must not be failing as badly as I think I am!
3. Further Needs the Kindred have of me? Knight of Disks—Two of Disks: Outward emulation. Move forward with effectiveness and grace with head held high. Do not be ashamed of what you do. Remember for whom you do it. But, be flexible. Pagan ritual is in no way meant to be inflexible and absent of spontaneity. Join in this spirit and have fun! (The King of Pentacles is a card that typically just represents me. I read here that this card means they need me to be me. I threw the second card because this card has been the “me” card so many times that I needed more information.)

I regret that I closed the gate before I dismissed the Kindred, which I am assuming is like slamming a door in their faces. I feel immensely guilty about that. I almost opened them back up to apologize, but I decided to make another attempt this week with an apologetic offering in addition to the main offering. I hope they are understanding of us new ones for things like this!

Summer Solstice Part II

On a personal note, I finally inquired about becoming a friend of the Grove. I am nervous about moving away from solitary practice, but I am grateful for what I have learned and for the ability to practice on my own. Here’s why:

Once I was home, I found the pine cone. It was on the counter with the dirty dishes, of all places. It did not belong to me, so I felt that I could not keep it. I held an additional full ritual the following day instead of just doing my daily devotional. I have added a Trigaranus representation to my shrine, and I am working with him as my gatekeeper. Opening the gates went very well. I seem to have found a gatekeeper that is willing to work with me. I welcomed the Kindred from my heart and not with a written work this time. I spent a little time just talking to them. For my offering, I lit the pinecone in the sand where I usually burn my cones, and it burned just like incense with no flame and a nice pine-scented smoke. It took a while to burn, and per my last conversation with Persephone, I waited patiently and even began to sing while it burned. The words they gave me in song are as follows:
Smoke and Fire and Well and Tree
I give my love to the Kindred, Three.
Ancestors, Nature Spirits, Mighty Sidhe,
Shining Ones—Accept my offering!
I have not gotten to the place where I lose track of time yet, but I think this was a step in the right direction.

I took omens, and this is what I have learned:
1. Was my offering accepted? Six of Swords (Science, Focus) and Four of Disks (Power). (These cards stuck together, so I have kept them both)—Yes.
2. Gifts the Kindred Offer in Return? Nine of Swords (Cruelty)-Needs Dignified-Adjustment (VIII-Justice) Anxiety is clouding the truth and stifling creativity, but balance, honesty and harmony are there. Use wisdom in decision making and be sure to weigh options carefully. In short, I interpret this as a sign that I need to boost my confidence. I must not be failing as badly as I think I am!
3. Further Needs the Kindred have of me? Knight of Disks—Two of Disks: Outward emulation. Move forward with effectiveness and grace with head held high. Do not be ashamed of what you do. Remember for whom you do it. But, be flexible. Pagan ritual is in no way meant to be inflexible and absent of spontaneity. Join in this spirit and have fun! (The King of Pentacles is a card that typically just represents me. I read here that this card means they need me to be me. I threw the second card because this card has been the “me” card so many times that I needed more information.)

I regret that I closed the gate before I dismissed the Kindred, which I am assuming is like slamming a door in their faces. I feel immensely guilty about that. I almost opened them back up to apologize, but I decided to make another attempt this week with an apologetic offering in addition to the main offering. I hope they are understanding of us new ones for things like this!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice Recap

I arrived just before the pre-ritual briefing. There were nine people there, and adding me rounded us out to a nice, even ten. It was a beautiful day. The sky was promising eventual rain, but our spirits were high and no amount of rain was going to keep us from the task at hand. Besides, the gods don’t care if it’s raining!

During the briefing, it became clear that this was going to be a group-effort, with everyone taking responsibility for various parts of the rite. Like the Grove member’s said, today’s ritual was apparently for the family. This is significant to me. I have not belonged to a religious group, or affiliated with, or worshiped along side of, or done much more than practice my solitary faith in several years. The idea that I was accepted on this day as family, and they meant it, was deeply moving to me.

We did the Outdweller’s Offering just off the path and processed in about twenty-five feet. Not far, but far enough to get the mood established. The attunements and songs chosen for the day helped to remind us that summer is a joyful time, a time of smiling, laughter and happiness. We could hear the children playing on the playground and the soft murmur of the other picnickers. I had a difficult time focusing during the meditations, but I did enjoy communing with the sounds of the season, and my mind was eventually set properly for the task at hand.

The opening of the gates was not as disorienting as at Beltane, since I was prepared for it, but it did fill me with reverence for meeting with the Kindred. It was comforting, like being at prayer at home. I made my first fire offering to the Kindred. After a long history of fear of fire, and two house fires in my immediate friend’s and family member’s homes—one two weeks ago in which everything was lost, I think it went well. I was not aware that pouring wine onto a fire is the equivalent of pouring water, which makes me feel silly for choosing it was my offering (or for not offering it in the right place), but since there was little chance of it going up (like Michael’s offering) it was a good choice for me. (Maybe at Lughnassadh I will try whiskey—or just pour my wine by the tree.)

Our Deity of the occasion was Belenos, the God of Heavenly Light. I think that in the future I will make a point of knowing who our Deity is before I arrive at ritual, so that I may be prepared to offer to Him (or Her) as well. Though I did not bring an offering for Him, the prayers and words lifted to Him during the Main offering were inspiring.

When we moved to the omens, I was not surprised that our offerings were not accepted. (Knight of Spears: No.) I have been having some troubles in this area, and I was almost expecting this. I misplaced the mini pinecone I found on a hike that I was planning on offering to my patron, which is not that big of a deal…unless you (I) do not make any other offerings in its stead. Several of us made additional offerings; I poured an additional quantity of wine around the fire for Persephone. Our offerings were then accepted. (Three of Spears: Yes.)
The messages the gods have for us in return indicate a time of celebration, growth and merriment. (Four of Spears: High spirits, recognition and celebration are all at hand. Now is the time to move on to a new phase of growth. Much will be gained from the upcoming experiences that will bring about a stronger sense of community and closeness to others. Forge ahead with confidence and goodwill.)

And finally, the Kindred have asked from us in return, or in this instance I prefer to think of it as our homework, is to let go of a painful past/past sorrows. (Five of Swords, Reversed: a time where the focus is too broad and details are being missed. It's important to step back and examine everything that is happening, and to recognize the little things [including the things that are holding us back.] Pay attention to detail.)

I did note that the interpretations from my deck are a little different than the ones we received during the omen. They are different decks, and omens are read as is appropriate for the Grove at the time, even if not in the strictest sense of the card’s meaning. I feel the interpretations of the omens were entirely correct, and I trust that I heard what was meant for my ears and spirit to hear. I have some terribly painful sorrows from the past, especially in matters of religion. It has been a difficult journey, but I feel that these omens are telling us that it is time to let the past be the past and move ahead into the future. I have also gathered that others present received similar internal messages.

We ended the rite beautifully, and shared a meal by the fire. It was a very nice evening, and I have made many new friends. I am beginning to really feel that I belong in this Grove....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Neopagan Children

I have not been quiet about my decision to join ADF. It is changing me already. But this decision, and my subsequent divulging, has lead to some very telling questions from my friends and family. The utmost important question that I have been asked so far is, “so, what are you teaching your children?”

Being a parent, no matter your religion, is hard. There are many points to consider as your children get older involving more and more complex issues. Raising my children in a neo-pagan household has not been a difficult decision. Effective parenting, to me, has been best achieved through leading by example. There are three basic principles I am teaching my children, and everything else has seemed to fall into place. Most of this, they don’t even know they are learning, because this is how we live our lives, daily.

Firstly, I am teaching my children to respect themselves; their bodies and their minds. They eat healthy foods, in proper proportions. Snacks are included in this. I see no reason to feed my children sugar for snack time. Apple slices with peanut butter are a preferred snack at my house. They go to bed at the same time every night. Part of respecting your body is getting enough rest. They also get exercise every day—even when it is raining. There are many indoor games you can play with your children to allow them to stretch and get moving. They don’t watch hours of television or play hours of video games. They read—oftentimes just for fun! We have arts and crafts time, and we cook. We spend time as a family learning to share the responsibilities of caring for a household. They are also learning the importance of working through problems, and trying new things, even if they appear hard at first. You never know what you are capable of unless you try! Much of this falls into the categories of moderation—not an easy virtue to teach children, fertility and perseverance.

Next, I am teaching my children to respect others. They are not to participate in name-calling. There is never any excuse for physical violence. They are to remember their “pleases” and “thank yous.” They take turns, and they don’t cheat. They treat others the way they hope other people will treat them: this means trying to use their nice voices, even when they are angry. They are also learning to share and to make sure they have enough for everyone, every time we have guests at snack time. In this way, I am teaching them hospitality. I am also teaching them patience—waiting without getting mad, as an essential virtue that I quite often find lacking in the world at large.

And finally, I am teaching them to respect the Kindred. They may not know them by this name, but they will learn in time. It is quite a complex system, and many adults still have a hard time with it. They recycle, because we care about the plants and animals. They don’t litter, either. They say hello to the Nature Spirits when we are out. We have begun working with the deities, and this mainly means thanking them (by name if we can remember it!) for the blessings we receive each day. I am teaching them to be grateful for what we have. We are just beginning ancestors, since ghosts can be a scary thing to a small child. We did leave a cup of coffee for my Father next to his ashes on Father's Day. They are getting there. We take time to remember the experiences they have had, and we reflect on what the best thing to do would have been, or how they did the right thing and it all worked out. We look for things they forgot to think about the first time through and talk about how remembering those things might have helped them at the time. In this way, I am teaching them the practical side of vision. Hopefully, wisdom will come as they age.

I do not require my children to participate in any of the rites that I do. Some of them I do not bring to their attention so that I can get some “adult work” done. There are things that are fun, and there are things that are serious. Some of the things we do, they understand, and some, they will understand in time. Piety calls me to help them do. They will learn the whys and the whos and everything in between when they are ready. It takes a lot of courage to live life with good ethics. Sometimes, the easiest thing is not the right thing to do.

I am not expecting them to be perfect little "Druid Angels." I know that they are kids, and I hope they are having fun. In my house, and unfortunately nowhere else, I am allowed to mandate ethics. I am allowed to teach my children to live their lives in a way that is healthy and pleasing to themselves, to the people around them, and to the Kindred. They really are good kids, and I am proud of them. As a parent, I hope to expose them to the rewards and benefits of following this path that is so very dear to me. But in the end, I will allow my children to follow whatever path they decide is best for them—which is why I am teaching them, above all else, tolerance.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

First Oath Repeat...

Friday I repeated by First Oath. I decided it was important enough to me and to my God/desses to do it again.

I used an Oath rite I found in a book I am reading (The Fire on our Hearth: Devotional of Three Cranes Grove), and it went much better this time.

I prepped the altar and made myself relax. I did everyting much more sloooowly this time. I used Garanus to open the gates: fire, well, and tree, respectively, and one at a time. I thanked the Earth Mother, and all three Kindred, in turn. I called upon Athena and Persephone, and then the spider on my ceiling prompted me to call on Arachne as well. I was quite for a while before I began speaking. It just felt good to be there. I think that means I did it right, this time.

I made my Oath based on what was in my heart, with no script and no worries about form or poetry. I just laid it all out there and asked them to read my heart and know that I speak truth.

I thanked everyone and dismissed them. I closed the gates--and even remembered to thank the gatekeeper! All in all, I am glad I am here. This has been a valuable lesson, and I am actually looking forward to full ritual in the future. There are times in my life when I am not sure of things, and I hope that there always are. If things stop getting hard, I know I have stopped growing. I can't overcome trials and tribulations if they aren't there in the first place!

(I did not take omens. I didn't feel it was necessary. I somehow just knew it was going to be ok...)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Oath

Today was not a good day for ritual, apparently.

I did a rite today to take my First Oath. I sang "Awen" in the shower. I set up my shrine with well (bowl of water), fire (three candles) and tree (my wand) represented.

I attempted to open the gates using Hermes as a gatekeeper, since Persephone is my Patron. I didn't feel anything, but I don't know if you have to feel it to have to gates open (?). I called to the kindred, lit the flames and greeted the Earth Mother. I offered silver to the well and lit some incense. I read the Oath, and took omens.

Offering not accepted.

Hmm. I asked what I needed to do next. I was told that I am in too much of a hurry.

So, I meditated for a while, trying desperately to clear my mind. Eventually, I was told to read the Oath I wrote myself. So I did.

Offering Accepted? Yes. Barely.
Further needs of me? I am trying to learn too much too fast. I am not retaining, and I am missing things because of my swiftness. I must learn to slow down and realize that I have started the journey of a lifetime. It will take a lifetime (or more) to complete. I cannot finish my work in a few months. Also, just because I have less experience does not mean that the things I have to say mean less. The Oath I wrote was the one They wanted to hear because it was written by me. Oaths are personal. If I believe what I wrote, then it is good enough for them. The words don't matter. They just want me to mean them.

Additional information for me? Pay more attention to the god/esses in front of me and stop spending so much time with my books. I did remember to thank the Kindred properly and close the gates!I realize that I have thrown myself into the Dedicant Path with all that I have, but I have thrown myself at the work, and not at the God/esses. Without them, this is all futile. I am frustrated by the amount of things I do not understand. I want so badly to be ahead of where I am, but I cannot mislay the foundation or it will all crumble...again.I have learned today that holding a ritual by yourself in ADF format is harder than it looks.

I have learned that sometimes what is wanted of me is my time.Most importantly, I have learned that the God/esses have patience and will allow me to try again.Wish me luck, when I muster up the courage to do this again!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Patron Deity.

I was a wiccan for six years, and after being unsatisfied with my path for the last time, I began
searching and found ADF--which was like coming home for me. The porblem I had thereafter was that my relationship with Goddess became awkward. It was almost as if the moment I realized there were more than one worthy of my worship and attention, she was waiting for me to call her specifically, by name. Only, I didn't know who she was.

At the suggestion of one of the ADF members I have talked to I began giving offerings to my Deity, and asking for nothing in return but the clarity of vision to know her name. I have lit incense, burned candles, meditated in various places, offered wine and just gave gifts and thoughts to her, that she may reveal herself to me.

At first, because of a dream I had in which the Goddess appeared to me in all white standing in a fire, I assumed it to be Brighid. I did some work with her, and it was good...but she wasn't the one. I looked in Rhiannon, and Athena, whom I have also worked with, but they weren't right, either.

I did a mini-ritual this morning, lit some incense as an offering, opened the gates, and just asked for the Kindred to be with me. I meditated in this fashion, and after a while, I asked of my patron, reveal thyself! I felt very peaceful, but nothing really spectacular happened. I thanked the
Kindred and closed the gates.

As I was getting up, I noticed that my incense cone had gone out. Though my window is open, it is not a breezy day, and I was sure it was burning well before I began. I immediately went to my tarot cards to make sure my offering was accepted. (My first thought was that I did something wrong, haha!)

I drew three cards, as is customary for omen-taking:

Is my offering accepted? Two of Swords (Peace). Yes!

Is there anything else you need from me? Blank card. That would be no.

Information to offer to me in return? The Hermit. I was using my Crowley deck, and if you are not familiar with his deck, the artwork specifically references Persephone, at which point I wept uncontrollably for a moment.

At long last!!!

I have worked with her in the past; she has been inspirational for me. She is the shining example of making lemonade when life gives you lemons. :)

Anyway, she gave me her name today, and I could not ask for a bigger or better gift. My heart is full, and my spirit is at peace.

Hail to Thee, Lady Persephone!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Family has a way of taking advantage of you.

It has been difficult, these past few months. I am broke, and I am almost at the end of my wits. But strangely, I am still happy.

My sister moved in with us in March. Now, keep in mind, there are five of us in my family…and a dog. Well, there are also five of them…and a parrot (a loud, obnoxious, messy parrot).

I was expecting them to be closer to getting out of my house by now, but I can see that I am going to have to be the creator of their destinies very shortly in order for any change to occur. (I do admit that I cannot be too angry with the lapse in time. My sister had several trips to the EMR where she finally found out that she has a hypoactive thyroid condition, but she is medicated for that now.)

The problem I am having is that I have given them everything they have asked for, and yet any money around my house that I had anywhere is now missing. The money from my room, a twenty from my purse, all the money that wasn’t pennies from my kids’ bank, it’s all gone. I kinda knew this was going to happen. I was just hoping that with me things would be different.

I am glad that we have spent some time together, finally. We have been rather estranged for many years. It has also been excellent for the kids, and it is almost worth it just to see them getting along so well. Almost. I love the fact that everyone is getting to know one another, but I just can't shake the dread I feel when I think about the money. It's not even about the money, really. All in all, it's over $70, but it is so much more than that. I have given them everything they have asked me for. I have not said no to them unless I physically did not have it to give. And still, they found it necessary to steal from me. I opened my home, the home I so carefully built from the bottom up with my loving, and handling this wonderfully, husband. Well, at least I can say I tried. It bit me in the bottom, but I tried my best to help them change.

So, here’s to shame on me. I hope that after this, my karma bill is paid in full…..

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tarot, Oghams and Runes--Oh, my!

Part of the newness of the shift in my spiritual path has me thinking about divination tools. I have typically been an user of Tarot for all my divination and sage-like purposes. I have been curious, but not serious, about Runes for three or so years as well. After the Druidic Ritual I attended, I have found a new desire to learn about trees. Yup, trees.

Oghams are a divination tool used in early Celtic communities as a system for writing, much like the runes. The Oghams are a series of slashes oriented in a specific way on a vertical line. That's it.

The cool part is that each symbol has a tree associated with it, and each tree has a myriad of meanings depending on the question you are asking. Tree can be sought for answers to medical questions, questions about love, questions about fortune (money), among many others. I saw a set of Oghams, hand-carved, made from the branches of the trees each Ogham symbol represents, and I was immediately fascinated.

I have always fancied myself somewhat of a sage, and I am excited about the prospect of deepening this skill with knowledge and study. Who knows what I will be capable of with more information behind my interpretations?

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beltaine with the Druids

This past weekend I went to a Druidic Ritual for Beltaine. I have been a solitary for some time, and I was a bit nervous when I came into the park. I had already taken a twenty minute tour of Westerville to get there, and my nerves were on edge. I am not the type of person to open myself to others in religious circles. I am definitely not the type of person who goes to functions alone, either. But, here I was. The park was clean. No one was in all black, and no one had thier Wiccan-Whacker out (long story).

I was not approached by anyone right away. This is new for me, as I have previously been to gatherings for groups that were heavily recruiting. I was given direction as far as my food items were concerned, and then left to my own devices. I met a few grove members, but none of the Wiccans. Hmm.

The ritual itself has been slightly life-altering. I feel different somehow, but I am still internalizing everything at this point. There were several key points that I am slowly digesting for every bit and piece of knowledge I can glean from them.

Instead of casting a circle, they open the gates. Not the same thing!! When those gates were opened, it was like the flood waters poured over me in a tidal wave. Very intense, but then it equalized. I had a moment of vertigo, but then the peacefulness returned....but altered. It was as though we really did open a gate and let them join us. I know I am not doing this justice, but I've never felt anything like it. It is hard to explain. All of a sudden, we were no longer alone. We were in the presence of greatness.

On the meditation: I had no trouble picturing the beautiful trees and the stone altar, though it was smaller than I would have thought previously. The book was old and appeared to be well used. The first picture was fiery and barren. The rains fell in a sheet and everything went grey and dismal...even more dismal than before. The next picture was shaped the same, but the greens and reds and blues were vivid and breath-taking.

I was quite disturbed from this point on, for my meditation went south. The picture of myself was of a very young, teenage me, all alone. As the pictures progressed, they were all still me at various stages in my life, in all of which I was alone. It was here that my eyes began to water, and I felt that familiar heaviness in my chest. When we got to the last picture, the one of all of us, standing in that moment, I was so grateful that I was not alone in that picture, but my mind was trying desperately to turn the page to see if the next one was back to just me...

On the omens--I asked for more information about the reading we got from the Oghams, and I was told to go look it up. I cannot tell you how shocked, surprised and GRATEFUL I am for this. I am trying to break a bad habit of believing everything that I am told, as well as breaking the habit of hanging out with people who just tell me more and more, whether or not it is true, for as long as I am willing to listen. Thank you, for the wonderful lesson in this. Needless to say, I copied down the Oghams and have meditated on their meaning for me.

Three questions asked of the Oghams.
Has our offering been accepted? Witch Hazel A resounding yes! Witch Hazel is the tree of Druidic Wisdom. It is used for healing purposes and to give strength of will. Inspiration and protection were also common uses. It is not associated with a specific deity, but it does posses masculine energy.
Offering for us in return? The spiral path. Honeysuckle was used to provide privacy because of its winding, vine-like growth. It was used to help people stop living in the past. It has a tendency to suffocate the tree that it grows on, like the past can suffocate your hope of moving forward. In magical purposes, it is used to increase psychic awareness. It is associated with the Goddesses Cerridwen and Gaia.
Further needs the gods have of us? Look to the winds. Aspen was used to overcome fear of unknown things. It has healing properties associated with reducing fever and pains. It contains salicin, which is similar to aspirin. It is used for courage, communication and endurance. It is also associated with the Goddesses Morrigan, Hecate and Persephone and the Gods Zeus, Hercules and Apollo. White poplar, specifically, is used for inner guidance, determination, rebirth, omens and signs, overcoming fear and doubt and finding creative solutions. At this point in the ritual, I was buzzed by a bumblebee.

On Bumble Bees: If your energy is scattered, the bumblebee can show you how to regain focus. When a bumblebee buzzes you, it is asking you to follow its lead. If you do so, you will arrive at the destination most appropriate for your new life awakening. Bumblebees represent strong past-life ties connected to the ancient secrets of longevity, as well as the power of service. Their movement from plant to plant reminds us of the interconnectedness of all living things. In closing, the bumblebee holds the secrets of life and service. (The Cycle of Cower Animal Totem Book)


On my way home....
As I was leaving the park, with my notes and my homework, I quietly began my drive down the main road of the park. As I was reaching the bottom of a hill and cresting onto the next, a crane flew in front of my car. Apparently, the water was nicer for him on the other side of the road. He floated to about three feet from the road, and then just stood in the water. I was so startled that I almost stopped in my tracks. I have never had any association with birds. I believe my spirit guide is a wolf. Wolves eat cranes. I am trying not to read to superficially into this, but I think it is significant enough to note.

The Crane: In Oriental cultures, the crane is the symbol of good fortune and longevity. When it appears in our life, it means good fortune is at hand such as physical health, emotional stability, mental clarity or spiritual awakening. A running crane can take three steps per second and may use its wings for balance and speed. They typically run into the wind to achieve the lift necessary for flight, but if alarmed, they can spring directly into flight. Cranes are aggressive when fighting and use a complex system of threat behaviors including physical postures and vocalizations. They remind us of the importance of proper timing and physical flexibility. They help us to connect with our primal origins and teach us how to utilize the power of sound appropriately. They hold the medicine of self-expression and show us how to vocalize our truth through singing, speaking or chanting. Cranes challenge us to stay focused and centered.
The crane is a soaring bird, and like that of the human spirit, it knows no limits. They fly with their neck and head outstretched as if they were seeing into the future. Their legs extend out behind them, holding them to the past. When the past and the future meet, wisdom awakens. Cranes help us to discover our personal grace and agility. They teach us to express ourselves with integrity and conviction. Most importantly, the crane restores our faith in ourselves and in spirit.

In closing, I think they will be seeing me again. I have realized from this one experience that I am in need of great change. I have been a terrible Wiccan. I said as much to my husband, and do you know what he said? He told me he never thought I had much in common with them anyway. (Six years later, he tells me this! Bless his heart for his patience with my path.) There has been something missing for a long time, but I finally feel as though I have taken a new step off the spiral and into the right direction. Now, I am watching for all the signs on the wind that I can find. Praise be the Gods and Goddesses that have given me these gifts of knowledge.

I had nothing to offer when I came but myself. My offering was accepted, and in return, they have agreed to show the way out of the spiral. What I do next depends on the signs they give me. May they also grant me the eyes to see and the heart to fulfill their request.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This is what I believe.

I was recently asked what my beliefs are, and I found to my chagrin that I had a hard time communicating them. I am writing now in an effort to sort out the truths and ideals in my head from the rest of the bologna.

There are always certain "hot spots" of religion that people want to have addressed when they ask you this question. First and foremost is "one or many?" I definitely believe there are many gods/goddesses. They may all be part of one larger whole that I, in my tiny human mind, am unable to comprehend. As a being, it is impossible to understand any being of a higher order than yourself. Therefore, the only way that my puny human mind could possibly understand something as complex as a deity is for me to compartmentalize it into pieces I do understand, i.e. human beings with extraordinary "powers." That being said, I know all the Christians and Pagans our there went "oh goodness, let me explain blah, blah, blah...." but save it. This is what I believe, not you.

Secondly is the matter of reincarnation. Having lived the life I have lived and experienced life the way I have, I can only answer yes to this question. I can tell you with 100% certainty that there are people I have "known" before that have found me so we could live together in this life as well. If it has never happened to you, you will not understand....nor do I expect you to. This is just what I believe, right?

Now comes the part where we all begin splitting hairs. Do you believe in fate? predestination? magical powers? karma? Mother Goddess or Father Sky? If you believe in a Mother Goddess, they label you a Wiccan. If you believe in Karma, then you must be a Buddhist. If you believe in predestination, then you must be Hindi or Christian or Islamic. If, if, if....why do we need to categorize ourselves like this? Does God have a great big filing cabinet in the sky where he keeps us organized by religious affiliation?

Well, I believe in karma. I believe in the movement of energy known as magic. I believe in the sanctity of knowledge as essential to growth. I do not find it necessary to have an intermediary for confession of wrongdoing. When you believe in karma, any negative acts that you carry out will come back to you whether you repent of them or not. If you want to "equal out" a negative, you must perform at least three positive acts as retribution for your transgression. (and it also helps to leave extra offerings for your personal deities.) I believe in balance.

I believe in reflection on past events as a means of growth. Even though hind sight is 20/20, you always miss something. Every couple of years it is important to review the things you have been through with your new eyes and greater volumes of experience to gain further understanding and, if nothing else, to solidify the lessons learned from the experience.

I believe in the preservation of the Earth as well as of the body. If either one fails you, it's all pretty much over. And believing in reincarnation, you must do your part to help the Earth be healthy and strong, lest you have nothing to which to come back.

I have been working with several gods and goddesses over the past decade. Brigid and the Horned God, for ceremonial worship. Jesus and Mary Magdalene for personal relationship (that's a long story; I'll tell you one day, if you are interested). Gaea, the Earth Mother, for guidance and inner strength. Odin, The All-Father, for sharpness of mind. Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, for lessons in dealing with hardship and loss--and the celebration of rebirth. Arachne, because she chose me. And my patron Goddess, Athena, for so many things.

I call upon Athena, Great Goddess of Strength and Wisdom, to grant me the mental skills necessary to flourish in my life. I seek her for skill in the artistic and industrious areas of my life. I offer worship, libations and awe to her, for she is the Goddess through whom I have found peace and prosperity. Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War, I learn from you when it is wise to go to war, and when it is wise to allow your enemies enough rope with which to hang themselves. I have gained ears for listening, and I have gained a tongue that speaks only what is necessary when I am sought for advice. Athena, Goddess of Great Measure, I am learning still....

This is what I believe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reflecting...becoming a woman of freedom.

As I reflect upon the changes I have made in my life in the last several years, I am coming to the realization that my efforts have been fruitful. I have had the opportunity to get in touch with a few people from my past, one very significant, and they have all noted the changes in me.

For a long time, I was afraid. There is no other way to put it. I was afraid of everything, afraid of living my life, afraid of not living my life, afraid I would miss something, but too scared to contribute. My husband, one fateful day, told me, "Stop being so weak." It was not in regards to anything major. Just a statement about my general reaction to some general situation. but, his words struck a chord deep within myself. I saw that I was weak, very weak. I was so floored by this that I almost began to cry. When did I let myself get here? How could this have happened to me?

It turns out, I was weak for most of my life. I constantly required the approval of anyone, someone! in order to pursue any endeavor. I could do nothing unless I knew it was condoned by someone else. This went for school, work, religion, food, you name it. I required approval from someone else for everything. But then my husband told me I was weak. And in my weakness, I found my strength.

I began reading books about embracing your feminism, but without wanting to become a feminist (it turns out to be a delicate balance!). I started with Lynn V. Andrews Medicine Woman. This book changed my life. I was already open to suggestion when I began to read this book, but the message of this book to my soul was clear: seek to discover who you are. It was after reading this book that I decided on the path I would follow to lead me to freedom and independence, and I began a three-year, self-directed course in women's studies. I have still not even skimmed the surface of the vast quantity of knowledge to be had in the greater history of womankind, but allowing the books to choose me, I read my way to freedom.

By this time in my life, I had thought I was past the point in my life when a book would have the ability to change me. Medicine Woman changed all that, and I proceeded to read more books like Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and When the Drummers were Women by Layne Redmond that gave me the foundation I was missing and the tools I needed to heal the places I had left deteriorating for so long. These books were difficult to read, not because of the content in an of itself, but because I had immense amounts of internalizing and applying and reapplying and readjusting and so on and so on to do in my life.

There was a tumultuous explosion in my home as I segued from weak, mousy-me into Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Truth. There was a clash of the titans, and when Apollo finally realized that the new me was evolving whether I had his approval or not, he allowed me room to grow. As I grew, the funniest thing happened: Apollo was pleased with the changes in me. Granted, there were more moments of disagreement than there had been in the past, but Athena has points of view that are often different and new and that lead to a better path (now, sometimes she was still wrong, but the important thing was that she asserted herself).

Over time, I have learned that my opinion has value, especially when well researched. I have plenty to offer to the people in my life. I do not need anyone's approval but my own. The only person whose opinion should be able to change my mind is my own.

I find myself on the verge of moving a step further into the spiral as I circle around again, moving forever toward the center. I do not know where my next journey will take me, but I do know that I am moving there with confidence and self-assurance. I am moving. I am changing, and it shows. I am free.