Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Solstice Fires and Transformation

Yesterday morning, we had our 7th Annual Sunrise Solstice Fire at my house. It was appropriately gloomy and dark on my way home from work, like the sun was waiting for my fire before showing it's face. Jeremy and I lit the fire together, which was a little stubborn in the snow. After we had it going well, I began with my prayers and offerings. This is a family tradition, and as such, does not follow a Core Order. I offered grains to all three Kindred, since the food would be appreciated for the animals around my home. I offered wine to Apollo and Helios, Eos and Selene, the Deities of Light. Jeremy went inside, and I proceeded with my "fire meditation."

I threw my dried holly onto the fire, focusing my intentions to be changed and renewed in this season of rebirth. I stared into the fire for a few minutes, and then I saw myself walking into the fire, bound in tethers that were pulling loads. There were people sitting on top of each of the loads. As I stood in the fire facing these loads, and each of the tethers began to burn away, the people sitting atop their loads stood up, thanked me for my help, and then carried their loads away on their own. I was left completely naked and alone in the fire. So quiet, so peaceful. I began to melt into a pool of shiny, silvery liquid. As I floated about in the fire, I saw a woman's hand drawn across my surface, removing those impurities that had risen to the top. I heard her say, "Now, stand up." I stood up, still shiny and silvery, but back in human form. She nodded to me to walk back out of the fire, and as I stepped in the snow, the shiny, silvery me was immediately cooled back into human form. I recalled later that I was praying while this was all going on. I distinctly recall invoking the Ancient Wise, but I am not entirely sure the words that were exchanged.

I pulled omens: Shining Ones offer Dagaz, Nature Spirits offer Algiz and Ancestors offer Hagalaz. This is the third time in a row I have pulled Hagalaz, and Dagaz has been showing it's face quite a bit, as well. I am undergoing a dismantling, after which I will be awakened, but during all of this process, I will be shielded and connected to the Gods. I am in the middle of change, once more, and I find that to be quite comforting. The Gods don't change things they don't care about. :)

I logged into the IRC chat from work last night. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get in, and I'm still unsure as to whether or not I will get written up for it (which I doubt, since I am fairly harmless and have been for 7 years), but it was completely worth it! I was inspired by the words Jamie wrote for each of the invocations, and though I had nothing more than my intentions to offer (because my attendance was last minute), stopping what I was doing for a moment and focusing my energies on the Kindred was fulfilling in a way I've never experienced at work. There are a lot of Christians here, very devout Christians, that would be made very uncomfortable by the knowledge that I am a Pagan. I do not think any of them would react in a mean or hateful way, but I do respect them enough to use discretion. I have always answered any question brought to me with openness and honesty, and I am pleased to say that I have been almost fully outed to my peers on my shift this season. Part of the changes I am going through, apparently, involve a louder voice, a more forward and "labeled" example of what Our Druidry is all about.

I feel a little nervous, a little excited, and a little relieved that the word is getting around, as much as I usually hate the gossip mill. It has thrown quite a few of them for a loop. They have known me for a long time now, and finding out that I am a Pagan is totally outside of what some of them had previously assumed. I am not what the picture when someone says "Pagan." Hippie, yes. Pagan, not so much. I got a good laugh when one of my coworkers told me he thought I was a Catholic. I just smiled and said, "Not anymore." I'll wait until he has more questions and fill him in slowly.

All of this has lead me to realize that I need to write more. I have a lot of thoughts and ideas in my head that swirl around whenever I am driving, but so much other stuff takes place when my feet hit the ground that I have not made any attempts to write any of it down. I have some ideas for liturgy that I have been toying with, and I think it is time to begin writing again. I had such a bad time writing the Samhain rite that I haven't written anything new in ages, I think since Lughnasadh. It is time.

The time of transformation is upon us. May the Kindred continue to shape and change us in our winter cocoons that we may emerge ready to take flight after this Solstice Season. May the newly reborn sun shine brightly upon your heart and your hearth, bringing warmth and blessings to all who interact with both.


Friday, December 18, 2009

ADF Elections

Let me be the first to say that I was very surprised to be nominated. I have been considering the possibility of running for this position some time in the future, but I assumed I haven't really been around long enough for this.

I spent some time in meditation and pulled some runes, to see where the voice of the Kindred would lie:
Should I run for Member's Advocate? Othala. Well, that seems to be a "yes."
I then pulled one rune from each of the Kindred:
Shining Ones: Berkano
Nature Spirits: Hagalaz
Ancestors: Jera
Taken together, I see that the election experience will be a worthwhile (read: fertile) endeavor for me. Regardless of whether or not I win, it seems that there is great purpose in the process. Of course, it won't be all cake and ice cream (haha), but I will reap benefits from what I have sown. Plant, endure, harvest. I am pleased with that.

I have spent a great deal of time considering my ability to carry out the duties of the Member's Advocate. I won't run for anything unless I am sure I can actually do the job, should I happen to win. I know you, my livejournal friends, have seen me vent a lot of the emotions I tend to carry in regards to the terrible things that happen to other people, and I was a bit concerned that my previous posts may have a negative impact, but the more I thought about it, the more I have come to believe that those posts show my empathy. They show that people come to me with their problems and that I am more than willing to help them all to the best of my abilities--and sometimes beyond. (I secretly love it when people ask me for help. Shh!)

The best news? Before I decided to accept the nomination, I also had a lengthy conversation with my non-Druid husband. He said that as long as I remember that I have a family, he will support me in whatever decision I make. Even when I told him that winning would mean I absolutely had to go to Wellspring, he said, "Well, you wanted to go to that anyway, didn't you?" Yep. I even have Jeremy's stamp of approval.

With so many candidates nominated who have more longevity than me, I know that a win on my part would be just shy of a miracle, but I hope the process will help me to grow and will reflect positively on my Grove family and ADF. I have already gotten some interesting comments from some of my work friends and more distant family members in regards to my facebook announcement. :) If nothing else, this will completely out me as a pagan. And that's a good thing. Scary, yes, but good.

Good luck to all the candidates!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crane-Following Oath

I see myself standing on the shore, just where the water meets the land. I see myself, arms stretched to the sky, head thrown back, hair freely blowing in the salty sea air.

The cosmos spins on it's axis, and he comes...

I am the Crane, soaring above. She, below, is calling. As she focuses her energy, I see her begin to shimmer.

Soon, soon.

I circle her, once, twice, thrice, as her power continues to build.

Finally, her words become clear to me as she ceases to speak with her human voice and begins to speak from her spirit with conviction. I hear her. She is praying. She is praying to me.

"Garanus!" she cries. "I embark on a path today which shall lead me to new glades and deep, cool waters none have seen. I draw guidance from you who knows these paths and shows the way."

I see rays of light connecting her to the powers of the land, the sea and the sky as she speaks, growing brighter and wider with each declaration.

"I will bring with me a shield of piety to protect me and a fire of devotion to light the way. I will seek to serve those who drink from these same waters and travel these same paths."

Faces that flash before her and are projected from her mind into the very cosmos, connecting her to them as she is binding herself to me. "I will seek to serve and to support my community within and outside of ADF."

As I land before her on the shore, our eyes lock, and she states, "These things I Oath for as long as I follow you."

With that, she kisses her sacrifice and thrusts it into the waters knowing the action thusly binds her words, that the sea may rise up against her, the earth may open and devour her and the very sky may fall down around her should she fail.

And yet, she smiles as she walks away.

She smiles, because she walks with Cranes...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Order of the Crane First Oath Recap

So, I got lost on the way to ritual tonight. And, of course, something big happened to me, though on-the-sly for everyone else.

I got lost on my way to my very first rite with 3CG, Beltaine 2008. My review of that rite is the first post in my livejournal account. I had quite the epiphany that day.

I got lost on my way to my first Summerlands festival, which was also my first pagan festival ever. I learned several very deep and intimate lessons about myself, who I was and who I wanted to be.

I got lost going to the UUCE the night I had my 3CG initiation to become a full Grove Member.

And I got lost tonight.

It didn't occur to me that anything out of the ordinary may happen, though I will be paying more attention now that I see the pattern. It was a wonderful rite to Cerridwen with a theme of rebirthing. I was a bit scattered after being awake for only two hours (third shifters, eh?), half of which I spent driving with my daughter trying to find the site.

I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of some Sassafrassians that made me happy. :) I lead the music for this rite, including a toning that was really cool. I really enjoy it when everyone participates. You can feel the room begin to fill. [Note to self: ask about doing an instructional toning workshop.] The kids were cute. Aeryn played a wonderful praise song to Taliesin. Omens were good, ultimately. No one died, and Tigerlilly Willow Something-or-other (note to self again: ask Lisa what her new name is) made her initial Dedicant Oath.

Seeing Lisa give her oath reminded me that I was ready to schedule my Order of the Crane Crane-Following Oath. I pulled Seamus aside after rit, since he was the closest to me, and told him of my plans. Silly me. He said, "Well, why don't we do it right now." And then didn't listen to anything else I said. He hollered for Mike, who gave me his copy of the Order booklet (that has the oath texts in it) and even provided me with an offering, since this was all "on the fly."

So, there I stood, Seamus on my left, Mike behind me with his hand on my shoulder, Lees with a sickle around my neck and a few assorted witnesses. I took a moment and closed my eyes, pushing out into the cosmos for reassurance that this was what was wanted. I called silently to Garanus, the form in which I interact with Crane,
and feel a pulse returned to me. Yes, yes, now.

And so I gave my oath to be a Crane-Follower in the Order of the Crane. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

3CG Samhain, 2009

We celebrated Samhain last night at a ritual with over 100 people in attendance. The omens were meaningful and very applicable to our near future: Dagaz, Isa and Jera. Also, Mannaz was pulled in reference to the offerings being accepted.

It was a rough night for me. I don't think my ritual presence was all there, but I did close to as best as I could, under the circumstances.

It felt good to sing for the Ancestors in Hela's hall, even though most of the folk were unfortunately unaware that we were journeying. I think we need Ansuz as a gift from one of the Kindred at the next rite, lol. Wayfaring Stranger went well, barring the sweaty hands that caused a few slips. Oops! One gentleman told me I had a beautiful voice, and he got all choked up because of it. That felt nice. I want my voice to be an instrument. I want the music to touch people the way it touches me. If I can use my voice in this way, to help people have a meaningful experience, to help people go deeper into ritual headspace, I can experience true personal ritual happiness. (Man, I'm such a Bard...) Note to self: being Bard and DIC is fine, as long as you appoint someone else to cover DIC duties while you are acting as Bard. Methinks with a Grove of 30+ people, it shouldn't be too difficult to find folks willing to help. :) (And a control freak, apparently.)

I waxed a bit poetically doing my toast to the Ancestors and received applause for my little impromptu speech during the Blot. Not expecting that, but it felt nice. (Did I mention what a Bard I am? haha)

It was wonderful to see so many folks I haven't seen or have seen only sparingly since Summerlands. Thanks to the folks from Silver Falls, Black Bear and Stone Creed who joined us for this rite, along with several solitaries and non-ADF pagan groups from the greater Columbus area. The community is always the lasting thing I leave with after every rite. I hear there was quite the drum circle after I left, too!

Thanks to the ritual team and all the Grove members who made this rite a success. A list of folks worked hard to make this rite successful. We couldn't have done it without you! Everyone performed beautifully, and I am very proud of my Grovemates.

On a side note, I counted six children in attendance. I think my next project will be to get at least something started for the 3CG Children's program. Druid Scouts, here we come!

And now, onwards and upwards (no where else to go when you start in the Underworld, lol). I am really looking forward to being nothing more than the Bard for Yule.

Happy Samhain, everyone!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fear of Trance

Why do I tell you guys this stuff??

I may have mentioned before that my books are in for Magic 1, which I need to complete before I can begin Trance 1, since there is a Trance 1/Magic 2 crossover journal requirement. I have not cracked one of them. In fact, I began Bardic 1 and lent a book out so I could buy some time before I have to start. The sooner I start Magic 1, the sooner I have to do Trance 1. I decided to (finally) spend some time trying to figure out what the big deal is with trance. What am I so afraid of that I don't even want to do it? Because it's not that I can't do it. It is that I won't do it, but without knowing why, I didn't know where to begin.

I have had a few trance experiences. Most of them have involved music and are safe. My guitar makes an excellent barrier, and if I am the one playing the music, I am the one in control. I have had many encounters with Deity in a deep meditative state, but these are states out of which I can bring myself fairly easily. I have been "taken hostage" by a Deity of two who really wanted my attention, but other than that, since I have become a pagan, I have very little experience or desire for trance.

This has recently become a bigger problem as I begin working toward my first oath with the Order of the Crane. I am not taking any of this lightly, and entering into trance to meet Garanus is something that I will be needing to do soon. This may be one of the hardest lessons I have to learn on the Initiate path, and now that I know why, I hope I can finally begin the work.

So, why, you ask? Story time, Children. Circle round.

What seems like ages ago now, in 1994, I was an impressionable and young (16) woman who had just decided on her own to go through the Catechism classes and convert to Catholicism. I had several meaningful experiences and loved the church at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. These folks are not your typical Catholics, however. No sir; no ma'am! These were Charismatic Catholics. These were the speaking in tongues, slain in the spirit, Glory-Hallelujah! Catholics. Yes, I was one of them.

I began attending a weekly music Worship night, in which I became musically involved as I got a little older and my talents became known. Keep in mind the congregation was made of primarily college students and the high school students from the area who attended the Christian Fellowship meetings that a few of the students majoring in religious studies lead for the other local churches. (I'm getting there, I promise.) From the vantage point of the musicians, watching what I now know to be ecstatic trance, I would see grown (to me, they were grown) men and women, humbling themselves completely before an all-loving, all-merciful God whose unconditional love would rain down like Mana from Heaven. These people would pray with all they had until they wept, many of them would speak words that sounded a lot like gibberish, and more often than not, at least one or two of them would become so overwhelmed that they hit the floor.


I started to attend Worship nights on nights when I wasn't performing, and one day it happened. I lost myself completely in my favorite song. I was praying quietly, just thanking God for this and that thing that made me happy--being appreciative and asking for nothing in return (It's funny, really. I still pray like this). I began to sing, and I focused myself through the words, made the words I was singing my prayer. I felt a warmth washing over me, not unlike what Wiccans describe when they "draw down the Moon." The feeling was very overwhelming to the point of tears. I felt them running down my cheeks before I realized they were coming. I began to sing louder, without really deciding to, and then, (why am I telling you this?), a stream of words came loudly out of my mouth. I have no idea what they were, and I am quite positive it wasn't even English. I felt as though I were somewhere else, back inside of my mind, and this was all happening to someone else. Then, the world tilted, and I hit the floor.

This phenomenon happened to me only a handful of times. The first was almost the most powerful. The most powerful occurred in a Hotel in Chicago with my College Fellowship group. A small handful of us women went to a National Meeting held over New Years. New Years Eve, we had a full-on worship band that had a member from Franciscan UofS, and they played several songs that I new. This time was much like the first, only there were a lot more of us, and we danced as David danced that night. This was the only other time I spoke in tongues.

(Still my friends? Good.)

I lost track of time that night, and I felt like I had been hit by a truck when I came to almost an hour later. There were several of us on the floor when I awoke, apparently all still lying exactly as we fell. I was startled, and I felt very uncomfortable. I was almost ashamed at what had happened, and I immediately shut down from it. A few people approached me and told me how lucky I was to be "chosen." "Chosen?" I asked. They said, "Why yes, to be touched by the hand of God." The looks I got from the Hotel staff that had come in to begin cleaning were very telling about the way they were feeling. As someone who has a very hard time accepting criticism, and believe me when I say that I was far worse back then, I couldn't even keep eye contact with any of them.

Long story short, I felt completely undeserving and quite embarrassed by the whole thing, all at the same time. In the end, as the "ritual high" faded, I decided that I was an adult, lying on the floor with a bunch of other crazy people. This was not normal, and I must never allow myself to be in that position again. I began systematically shutting down that part of myself, that small piece of you that is capable of reckless abandon. For years since then, I have been battling with control issues. I have finally been able to achieve sexual freedom within the past two years, and now, it seems, I am ready to conquer the need for mental control and achieve spiritual freedom.

Wow, this is long, thanks for reading. There is quite a lot more to this, but I am not sure how to put all of it into words. I fear it would end up being a dissertation on my psyche that no one, including me, really wants to read! What I hope to accomplish in saying all this aloud is this: I want to learn to give in to the call, to travel to those places where I will meet with the Kindred without the bondage of societal norms and fear of rejection. I want to let myself go enough to leave this mundane world behind and go to the Kindred--instead of always expecting them to come to me.

So yeah, Samhain is going to be a big deal for me. I am going to lead in the hopes that someday soon I will be able to follow without holding back.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heart Songs

My heart is singing today. I've spent a lot of time emailing an chatting with A., and I am so glad he is a part of my life, even if long distance. His perspective, openness and honesty are slowly tearing down the walls I have built around myself, and I find that I am telling him more and more personal anecdotal things about me. I am also really starting to look forward to his emails.

One thing that I have also been enjoying is the new-found flirtiness that is resulting from these interactions. I feel prettier, and J. has noticed the increase in my self-esteem (from which he is benefitting).

Breath of fresh air, coursing through my life...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Reflections on building self-esteem.

Why is it that baring my soul always comes hand-in-hand with internal change? I mean, to others. I just vomited an 800 word essay all over the Grove mailing list about music and my personal issues with performance anxiety. I hope the typos aren't too bad. This was one of those instances where I knew if I went back to proofread that I wouldn't send it. It was honest and ugly and all sorts of healing, so I have no regrets.

The thing that never ceases to amaze me is my personal capacity for insecurity. Does one ever outgrow that? I am 31 years old, and I still shake in my shoes when someone asks me a question in case I might not know or might stutter when I talk. I sometimes make mistakes when I play guitar in a religious setting because I am so nervous that my hand gets all sweaty and slips on the strings. It's really annoying.

And what I hate the most is my projection of negative thoughts about me into the minds of others. These are the inner demons I fight to ignore. I can thank my father for many of them. It's not that he was a mean or judgmental person (with me, anyway). He just spent a lot of time "teasing" me about those things that were the most important to me "to make me stronger." He wanted me to be able to handle anything that was thrown at me by the world. If only he knew the worst I ever had thrown at me would come from him.

I actually feel really good right now. I feel like I am making improvements, and this letter I sent to the Grove is a definite sign of growth on my part, as will be evident to those who know me at all. And I think that where I am right now, observable while I am still in that space between the brake and the gas, is somewhere I haven't been before inside. These are uncharted waters, and I am not as scared as I used to be. This fear of performance, this inability to share my bardic arts with ease, this is the last to go. Once I get over this, I think I may finally be free.

There was a moment at the last liturgy meeting when general mayhem broke out for a few minutes. There were about six or eight individual conversations going on all at once, and I was not participating in any of them. I felt very alone in that moment and out of place. I was drawn out of it when I made eye contact with Mike, who asked me how I was doing from across the room in his Mike way (which made me happy), but I was left trying to explain how I felt and why I felt that way for days (which I posted about). Spending some time in reflection now that the emotions of that moment are gone has made me realize that moment was a period of adjustment. I am very different than I was at the beginning of the summer. During those few moments where I was not participating, I was internally adjusting, aligning the new me with the Grove in ways of which I still don't know the full depth. I feel more confident than I ever have and more mature. I'm sure I still have a ways to go (don't we all), but for the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel capable of doing what I have been charged to do, music, IP/OotC or otherwise. And therein lies my joy: in my confidence in myself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sacred Center, now in two parts!

As many of you know, I have been working through the Bardic Guild study program. I have the musical pieces done to carry me through the second circle for a few of the tracks, and the third circle composer track calls for liturgical music for an entire ritual. I wrote a short chant for the sacred center portion of the rite that I used for the dawn ritual at Summerlands soas not to include any reference to silver. It is a cute little ditty whose words are as follows:

Well and Fire and Sacred Tree
Flow and Burn and Grow in me

I like it, but it has always been missing something. I revisited this song tonight, and I finally figured out what it needs: it needs another part! So, there are two parts to this song, sung simultaneously. The above lyrics are now a descant.

The melody line is as follows:

The Land, below us
The Sea, surrounds us
The Sky, above us
at the center are we

I can't wait to hear it someday!

It's rather disheartening sometimes, writing liturgical music. I know most of the pieces I have written are just for me. When I write, I can see the entire ritual in my head, including where everyone will stand. Staging, liturgy, music, all of it. I can see the shimmer of those who have come to join us and the mists surrounding the ritual space. I am not leading these rituals. It's almost as if I am one of the beings visiting this sacred place, this sacred center created just to bring us together, and I am watching, listening, communing, feeling. And when called to do so, I pour out of myself and into the ritual space, enshrouding those within in a cloud of mana...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Musings for a dreary Saturday.

Cleaning always gets my brain moving in random directions, and with the approval of Div 1, I am feeling pretty confident today. I was asked to trade readings with Saoirse via computer in celebration, and it went very well. I'm not sure why I am always surprised when I actually have learned something, but it was great to be able to do that reading this morning--and just what I needed.

The Initiate program, in general, is about growing those less scholarly aspects of self and exploring the beyond. This stuff is what puts the "magic" in magico-religious.The further I walk along this path, the more people I see that lie on the other side of the mists. (For those not familiar with this reference, I had a recurring dream and my best friend had a dream that all involved me walking into a mist and others not being able to follow me. At first we thought I may be in some sort of trouble, but after a brief meditation, I realized quite quickly that where I was going was a place others could not follow unless they do the work to get there themselves.)

Before Druidry, before solitary pagan, I was in a coven. Had I stayed with them, I would be a third level priestess by now. When I went solitary, a lot of things stagnated as those around me adjusted to the changes in me. The same thing happened when I found Druidry, huge steps forward followed by a period of stagnation, or more aptly idling as I waited for those around me to adjust. I am coming out of a period of idling, and it is in these few moments between the two, that point when you take you foot off the brake but haven't hit the gas yet, that I often have the best perspective on where I've been and where I am going.

So, where am I going? Magic 1 and Bardic 1, I think are next. Bardic 1 needs done so I can begin handing in musical work. Magic 1 needs done because there is a Magic 2/Trance 1 crossover requirement, and I really need to begin trance 1. Patience, young grasshopper, I know. It will all be done in good time.

In final thoughts, I want to relay a synopsis of a conversation I had with a good friend of mine. It seems she thinks I am studying to be a Priestess. I spent some time explaining the difference between the study programs, and she asked, "wait, which one are you doing?" I was shocked to hear her then ask when I would be beginning the clergy program. She is the second person in the last few weeks who told me I would be good at it and suggested I give it a second thought.

Honestly, I could absolutely see myself completing the clergy training program and following that route, complete with Oaths and vows to serve ADF and give my life to the service of the Gods and the Folk of our organization. I think that I would do a good job at it, because once I set my mind to something, I tend to find ways to improve until I have mastered something (It's a musician's quality). Had my life path brought me to a different place, I would accept the challenge, but in this life, the clergy program is not for me. I have strong responsibilities outside of my religious life, no matter the draw and immense satisfaction it brings to succumb to the call of the Kindred. I have a career and a family, both of which come before the group needs of my spiritual life. I do not have the time to dedicate myself to the work of the clergymen that is necessary to do it well. Solitary work, it seems, will be the bulk of my practice for a long time to come, but it is fulfilling when you realize this and embrace it.

Happiness, after all, is not getting what you want. It is wanting what you already have. Happy Saturday, everyone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Solitary Hellenic Fall Equinox 2009

This was a rough rite, liturgically. I was very emotional, imagine that, but it went well.

Though I had intended to do an Eleusinian Mysteries rite, this ended up being more of a Hellenic Re-dedication.
From the moment I honored Hestia, I began to feel a part of my that has been sleeping for the summer waking up. When I called Hekate to aid in opening the gates, I was smiling broadly. And when I called to Persephone, I almost cried. It felt good to be in the presence of my Olympians once more, and I look forward to the months to come.

Omens were taken as a forecast for the upcoming season:

Shining Ones:

“Flee the very great storm {Zalê}, lest you be disabled in some way.”
Storm: surge, distress; disabled: hindered.
Don’t make a sea-voyage in bad weather. It is futile to fight the force of the ocean; likewise, bucking the inevitable will weaken you and hinder your progress. Avoid raging storms of any kind; save your energy for when it can be effective. Sometimes flight is wiser than fight.

Nature Spirits:

“Phoibos [Apollo] speaks plainly {Saphôs}, ‘Stay, friend.’”
Plainly: distinctly, certainly; stay: wait, stand fast, remain.
Neither advance nor retreat; wait or hold your ground, as appropriate; the best action is inaction. “Phoibos” refers to Apollo as Bright and Pure, which also characterizes His advice in this oracle.


“There are no {Ou} crops to be reaped that were not sown.”
Crops: fruit-trees, corn-fields, crop-lands; reap: mow, cut off; sown: engendered, begotten, scattered.
What we spread about, comes back to us. What goes around comes around. You must plan ahead in order to achieve anything.


“The one passing on the left {Laios} bodes well for everything.”
Passing: going through; bodes: shows, indicates, gives a sign, signifies, declares; well: rightly, happily, fortunately.
Since the left is traditionally the sinister side, the oracle may mean that an apparently sinister thing or event may be a blessing in disguise. The left is also associated with the unconscious, lunar mind, and so unconscious processes or intuition may signal a favorable outcome. A promising sign comes from an unpromising quarter.


Save your energy for when it is effective, stand your ground when appropriate and be careful not to sow that which you do not wish to reap. Appearances may be deceiving. Be aware that blessings may come in disguise.

I am planning an Underworld Journey tomorrow. I am going to go down and talk with Persephone. She and I have some stuff to sort through, most of which involves me not retaining the lessons she taught me last year. Hehe, I think I'm in trouble. Wish me luck, lol.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Be the banjo...

After the venting on my livejournal, as you can well imagine, I had more than a few conversations with some trusted friends in person (or online) that I found to be extremely helpful. I thought I would share the insights I have received and show you how smart my friends are. :)

I was told to suck it up and just jump back in there. Might not seem all that insightful to you, I understand, but sometimes, there is nothing more helpful than a good kick in the pants.

I talked it out with a friend who sometimes has similar feelings. We decided this: when you stand close to the fire, you sometimes get hot, and it causes you to step back. But, when you step back, the absence of heat is immediately noticeable. If I am feeling cold and disconnected, perhaps I should step once more closer to the fire (see above kick in the pants to suck it up and jump back in).

I talked with a couple of friends who told me I am high maintenance because I am a Bard (this is actually a positive commentary; hear it out). I give A LOT of myself, and often, and I need to be filled back up as a result. When I don't get filled up, I feel empty, and it is even more noticeable when the very people I expect to fill me up don't do it. So, I need to communicate that I need recharged, need my ego stroked. Um, this is not flattering, I know, but it is more accurate than I want it to be. Insightful little glimpse of the narcissistic side of myself I try not to invite to the fire, but Diva is as Diva does.

Finally, from one of my favorite people, I received this gem of information that has put it all into perspective: Instead of pouring yourself out to them, why not try to resonate with them.


It was like the sound of one hand clapping; that thought you consider that sends you immediately into a deeper state. And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I am pushing and pushing and pushing, like an electric guitar with no amplifier. No matter how hard I strum the chords, only those closest to me will hear them, and it will be only a semblance of their potential. What I need to do is be the banjo. A banjo is a five string instrument. The strings are strung much like a guitar, but the body is made of a drum head. The thing that sets the banjo apart is the resonator ring. The Banjo has evolved over time to include this wooden and metal ring that amplifies the sound of the strings and projects it. It helps the banjo stay in tune, makes the single notes plucked more easily discernible and makes the chords ring out--loud, loud, loud.

Back in my Catholic days, I was a cantor. I stood up at the front of the congregation and lead call-and -response-type songs. It gave me a peaceful and beautifully reverent glow the rest of the day because my heart was truly happy doing it. I think that feeling is what I am looking for in the Grove. It worked in the Catholic setting because I stood in the center, struck a chord and with a wave of my hand, the entire congregation resonated with me. In the Grove, right now, all I am doing is strumming the Hel out of an unplugged electric guitar.

So, what the heck does this have to do with finding my place in the Grove? Everything and nothing. It has everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else. It is about finding the spot where my chords echo throughout my Grovemates. It is about finding those things within us all that will cause a sympathetic vibration--which will result in resonance. Most of all, it is about me. I need to stop wasting all my energy strumming in silence and let the instrument do the work for me.

Finally, the question of the day: If I am the banjo and my grovemates are the resonator ring, then what, pray-tell are the chords? Those, dear friends, are the sounds of Teutates, playing the strings of my heart.

Thanks, A.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Teutates and Autumn Equinox with the Cranes

I love my Grove. I really do. And I love our Grove's Patron. I really, really do.

I brought Timmy to the rite today, out of necessity. It was rooooooough, but a very dear Grove friend spent quite a bit of time helping with him. And Timmy absolutely loved her. Everyone was so nice and understanding of him. It made me realize why I wanted to be more than a congregant in this Grove in the first place. I've heard that for those with the patience and willingness to pay attention to a child with a disability that s/he will heal you. Boy, they must have been talking about my Timmy.

I missed most of the rite. Timmy plunked himself down almost where the Outdwellers offering was made (kinda fitting, actually), and I only made it over to the rite-proper during the portions I was doing. I was able to come forward to make my offering to Teutates. I took my jar of grain over to the Tree. I placed my hand on the tree, and I whispered a few sentences of thanks and praise to him for all he has done for me and for our Grove this year before I poured my offering. I spent a moment sending my intent to him, and my hand got warm and tingly on the tree. Then, I really felt him beside me, behind me, around me, telling me that I was welcome and letting me know that our offerings, all of them, were accepted in the wonderful spirit in which they were given. I was moved by his presence among us, and I was able to funnel this feeling into his song during the Waters. Shawn said it's the best I've played it yet. I even got Timmy to drink a little of the Waters. We burned the old wooden Garanus statue. It was a little sad, but theatrics once again saved me from an emotional outpouring. :) It was fun to read the Grove Poem, and I was feeling especially pleased with my performance when a hearing-impaired congregant told me she could hear me reading. (Yes, reading. It's long. I do have plans to begin memorizing.)

I wish I would have been able to socialize more, but Timmy was pretty over-stimulated by the end of the rite. It's hard sometimes. He is so quiet, even when he is upset, and sometimes people don't realize that he is having a hard time. I think that my distance in the social setting was understood, considering the circumstances.

Timmy stayed awake the whole way home, but he fell asleep on the floor about five minutes after Shawn and Lisa left. Hehe, me too.

In closing, I would like to appologize for being "angsty" and venting all of my emotions into my livejournal (again). You folks provide me with much insight and healing when I have thoughts weighing on my mind. Thank you for being open and continuing to read, regradless of my apparent negativity. Now that summer is over and my Underworld Goddess is going back to where she is accessible to me, things are looking up.

Oh, and The Ancestors of the Grove are back in their space in my living room. I am pretty excited about that, too.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summerlands, 2009

Wow. Just, wow.

I know there were many folks who had drama and some rather negative moments at this festival, but I was fortunately unscathed in any of those situations and just generally absent when they happened by some chance of fate.

As such, I had what is probably the most glowing Summerlands experience possible. I met many new faces, reconnected with familiar faces, and spent the majority of my time in laughter and love.

I picked up AG on Wednesday night and ended up not getting out of Columbus until much later than anticipated on Thursday due to several pit stops and last minute shenanigans. Fortunately, this meant we arrived with enough time to set up camp before the Warriors Sumbel but missed the rain entirely. This was my first Warriors sumbel, and I must say that it was a good experience. Walking in en masse with the Cranekin made me feel a strong connection and sense of brotherhood (or, sisterhood, as it were). Many of the words spoken over the horn were touching and quite moving. I didn't hang at the drum circle long due to the crazy-early for a festival dawn ritual, that somebody decided we had to get up for on Friday morning. Oh, right, that was me. but while there, I did get a private dancing while I drummed. *heehee*

And I am glad that we did the dawn rite! It went very well. We had twenty-one participants, including me, and it was quite an energizing experience. We took the offerings and the water in the well down the hill to the Well and had a community bonding time down there. I felt very connected and generally happy as a result of the work we did that morning.

Bardic Night was not quite the way I had expected it to go. It was very hot and crowded in the hall, and the folk were particularly chatty, meaning that most of the acts were difficult to hear. When it was my turn to perform, I first made sure SMG was there for "Awen Rains Down" since she missed it at Wellspring. Then, like a silly person, I asked for requests, and about 15 Cranes yelled "Lunchlady!!!!" Well, when on stage, one must give her fans what they want, yes? So, I ended up doing a very smashing rendition of Lunchlady land in between two otherwise very serious songs (ended, of course, with "Teutates"). It was fabulously fun. I hear there is video. *blush*

I had a beautiful encounter with a wonderful man. A. and I talked for quite a while and shared much personal information. It was a bonding experience I shall not forget. There was a definite spark, but at this juncture, I am not sure what possibilities exist here. I guess time will tell, eh? If nothing else, this is likely the beginning of a really good friendship!

Drumming was not so existent since by the time I got up there, everyone was hammered. I lead a few rhythms, yay! But then, I was sober...+ a few sips of Bearman's Jameson. Had some serious discussion with some folks *hugs and love to JO* before taking the Bearman back to his tent at almost 5 am. This is why I camp next to you, love. So I have someone with whom to walk home. :)

Saturday, I had to go into town to take my DNA sequencing exam. Totally got an A. Woot! Made it back just in time for the Unity rite. Thankfully, it did not pour on us. When MJD called the Ancestors, I felt a breeze rush from behind us into the circle that sent chills down my spine. Having had the Ancestors box in my home has made me more in tune to their presence, and it gives me the drive to DIC something so I can have it back. Yay for Crane traditions that help us grow! Omens were interesting for me.

We performed a healing ritual for our Bearman that is one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. I will post about that in another post.

I had much conversation with SMG. *hugs* I always enjoy talking to you, and it never fails that I completely lose track of time when we are together! I miss you already, too (even though I have emailed you twice since we've been home, haha).

Emerald found me at the beginning of Roger Drawdy's concert and kidnapped me for bling. She wrapped me in a belly-dancing belt with lots of jinglies. :) That was fun. I didn't win any awards for stealth, though. I did, however, feel compelled to dance. What fun! I don't usually dance because, well, let's face it, I am not quite the best dancer. I have rhythm, yes, but coordination is not a strength. lol

After that came the drumming at the fire. We drummed and drummed and chanted and drummed some more. They even let me teach them the chant for creating sacred space I wrote to avoid the mention of silver while Ian and AJ drummed. I spent a good bit of time talking to AJ and now I want more percussion equipment and a didj. I know. I'll add them to the list. Went to take a nap at, like, 6:30 am before breaking camp (eventually).

I received quite a bit of much needed ego-boosting, of which I am still trying to make myself feel worthy. There is much that I am leaving out due to personal confidences and otherwise "Me-only" stuff, but suffice it to say I had many, many small and large conversations with JG, MJD, JA, TN, NE and MB, etc. And I spent a collection of combined hours interjecting the day with flirting, jokes and general optimism wherever I could muster it up. Wonderful, wonderful weekend. The best part? I came home to a happy Jeremy who was excited to see me and all ears for everything that I had to say. And for those of you who have had the privilege (privilege?) of talking with me in person who know how long-winded I can be, that is saying something.

I feel full. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oak Leaves saves the day!

I apologized for yet again using my livejournal as a place to vent all the negativity in my life. I am grateful to have such an outlet and to know that at least one of you will read this, always an ear for a Druid with a heartache. I am striving, always striving for optimism. It's just such an uphill battle sometimes.

I have been having a really down several days. This always happens to me when I carry the weight of others during difficult times. Nothing is wrong in my life (except me ignoring the advances of my significant other, which I plan to make up for before I go camping), but I immediately send wards to those in need, regardless of the backlash to my personal life. It's draining. It puts my guard down and make me succumb to negative thoughts and influences.

And it adds up when the shite hits the fan for too many people at once. I have been so preoccupied with others' hurts and distresses that I didn't make the cake for my best friend (who does not have breast cancer!)'s birthday. She shrugged it off, apparently, but silly me felt compelled to ask her if I have changed last night over beer. (I hate beer. No I don't. How dare I say that!it's ) She answered by saying yes, I had. I never would have dreamed of missing a birthday cake (something for which I am known), but I didn't make one for her. You know, not a big deal; it's just a cake, she says, but I can see it is more.

I don't hurt people very often, and when I do, it almost consumes me. I have hurt three people this year. Empathy, though art not kind!

What prompted me asking her if I had changed? Well, the remarks of people close to me who have noted just that: this summer has changed me dramatically. J told me himself that many of the Cranes may feel they are meeting me again for the first time at Summerlands. Really, I asked him? Absolutely, he says. You are different. Not bad different, but stronger and more...well, different than you were.

I chose to take that as a compliment.

So, negativity has flowed through me, and it has almost consumed me. Depression was setting in, and then I got my Oak Leaves.

There is a several page spread about the Wellspring Bardic Chair competition, including pictures and even sheet music from my song. As I flipped through the pages, describing all that we accomplished at Wellspring this year and all the new beginnings that we initiated, I felt my chest swell with joy and happiness for the part, though small, that I am playing in all of this. I cried as I read, not because of the words on the page, but because of the words behind the pages, of the emotions expressed by those who wrote them, of the ideals they stand for and the part I play in them--and they play in my life.

Thanks, Oak Leaves, from a girl who has recently been through the ringer, for being a beacon of hope when the world makes you feel alone and unimportant. When everything seems against you, and you feel laid to waste, it is then that Awen Rains Down...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Preparing for Samhain

Yup. That's right.

As many of you know, I am usually pretty far ahead when it comes to liturgy. I have been asked (more like told) to prepare the Invocation to Hela, the DotO for the 3CG Samhain rite. Hela, for those of you who do not know, is the Norse Goddess of the Underworld. I must also say that although she has a tendency to be aloof with me, she is absolutely fabulous. I have some things I need to learn and sort out before she and I can work together at length, including trance techniques, but I have plans to do a Wild Hunt this winter with Anna. Hope I survive, haha. No, seriously. I must say that as intimidated as I was when it happened, I feel better about the looming journey since Sleipnir came to see me.

Anyway, today I got a flood of images and adjectives and ideas all at once and just started writing them down. It looks like this is going to work out well, even if it is a bit different (read scarier) than what I had originally planned. Change is usually good in these cases, yes? And scary is ok. It IS Samhain, after all.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Conversation with Idunna

Because it might make me feel better, and because I don't want to forget...

Last night, Idunna came to see me while I was driving to work. She does that sometimes. I think she likes the quiet in my van. She can be soft spoken, you know.

Idunna came to tell me to stop feeling guilty and worrying so much about things that are out of my control. I did a lot for a lot of people in the past year, and it is not my burden to bear when help is not taken in the manner in which it is given. You can't make people heal. You can't solve anyone's problems. I did my best with what I had and that is all that anyone can honestly expect from me. Yes, I have made mistakes, but don't wallow in them; learn from them.

I asked her why I am so sad, if I have done good works for others? I asked her why I feel so abandoned? I even had the nerve to ask her where yhey (the Gods) had been during all of this, and why it took them so long to do anything?

She paused and said, "42."

Why do all the Deities in my life think they are hilarious?

"Seriously," she said. 'Because just like help from humans, people do not always take what We give them."

"What about the children?"

"They have lessons and wisdom to gain from all of this. All things that happen to you can be used later for the benefit of others."

"That's not very comforting."

"Do you really want to know these answers?" --this is a trick question. Apparently, you are supposed to say, "no."

"We Gods, as you call us, find ourselves oftentimes waiting for you. Sometimes, we help without being asked because we are with you and will do our best to protect you. Sometimes, you didn't know you were in need of help. But sometimes, we help because we can see what needs to be done and are tired of waiting for you to ask. You ask why you feel abandoned. When was the last time to you came to me, or any of your other Gods? It's alright. I know you have been with Freyja. You needed to learn to fight. I think if you look, really look, you will see that more often than not, the thing holding you back is you."--ignoring this 2X4 for now.

"But those children--"

"Are with Frigga. Do you not trust her to care for them, no matter where they are? Is that not why you dedicated someone else's children to her." --Apparently, this is usually not cool.


"You did everything you could think of in your power to help them. Let us do our part, as well."

"I have one more question, but you may not have the answer."

*raised eyebrow*

"Mannanan mac Lir came to help those children. Frigga practically told me she was taking them. Freyja stood beside me and gave me strength and endurance. You have brought me healing. Where are my Olympians?"

"You have said yourself that you sensed them moving further away from you. You have spent eight years with them, yes? Perhaps there are others from whom you need to learn right now. Besides, I think you know whom they are with right now. I hear you have taken up the amber?"

"Yes, funny you mention that. Is it always--"

"Yes. You'll get used to it in time. Not everyone can wear the amber, you know. I suspect you will have no problems."

"I'll do my best."

"Ok, now get to work. Stop worrying and stop wallowing in your over-active empathy. And come visit. You know what they say. An apple a day..."

And she was gone.

Ok, I do feel better. I have a lot to think about and a lot for which I should spend more time being grateful. I am not pleased with my recent trend towards giving in to negative emotions, but I have been so drained that I let my guard down. Hail Idunna for snapping me out of this!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A letter I sent to one of my DP Mentees.

The following is part of an email I sent to one of my DP students. I welcome any and all thoughts about this, as long as this conversation remains civil. I, like everyone else, had a moment at which I needed to decide if ADF was the right choice for me. It was not a decision I made lightly, and I finally made my choice based on much prayer and divination and loads of thinking and soul-searching. Ultimately, I decided that ADF is the place where I want to make my spiritual home, and here is why:

Off the record, I wanted to tell you about my view of ADF and why I decided to stay. My first disappointment with ADF was a lot like a child coming of age and realizing for the first time that their mom/dad wasn't perfect. It was quite a blow, and made me question everything else they told me that I took to be truth verbatim. I eventually learned that their intentions were good, even if they weren't always right. More importantly, I learned to do a lot of thinking for myself, which lead to disagreements and mismatches of opinions as I became a teenager.
Many of the issues I disagree with in regards to ADF as a whole are some of the very things that keep it from turning into an organized national church with a dogma. It took me a while to understand this.
I said, "Am I doing this right?"
They kept saying, "If you are doing, you are fine. Right Action! Piety!"
"Doesn't it matter what I do?" I asked.
"Yes and No," they said. "When you understand that answer, you will understand the nature of the organization as a whole."
Yes, it matters what I do. No, ADF doesn't care what I do. I can do whatever I want, but anything that falls outside of the defined Core Order or IE studies is not "ADF." I can write, perform, sing, wear, go, do, or say anything I want, as long as it is pleasing to my personal Gods and the relationships I have with them. It doesn't matter if they agree, and there is no set one right way to do anything, which means there is no set one right answer to any questions I ask. It is frustrating, but it needs to be so. How else can we get a Celt, a Greek, a Roman, a Heathen and a Vedic all in one rite and happy about it?
One of the reasons we have such a hard time getting study groups and other resources together is because there are always a lot of people who disagree about what we should be teaching folks, if we should even be teaching them at all. All of the study groups mediated by the Mentors or other ADF officers in the past have fallen apart. In addition, the presence of "authority figures," for some reason, puts quite a few people immediately on edge.
ADF, to me, is a common thread used as a unifying factor between an otherwise highly diverse group of people. There can be study groups, and these groups can be facilitated to start relevant conversations and keep people relatively focused, but there can't really be "teachers," not in the truest sense of the word. ADF can't be taught. ADF must be experienced. ADF wants us to think for ourselves and frowns upon taking anyone's word verbatim without checking the source of those words. And even still, as we learn more about the past and the Kindred, our views and words may change, and that needs to be happening constantly. The organization needs to be solid enough to provide a base structure but fluid enough to change with the seasons. ADF will truly be broken only if it stagnates. That's what happened to the Christian faith. They found their rock and set it down. They built a building (box) around it and cut it off from everything else. The world changed and new discoveries were made about the way things really were in the past, but no! They can't fit those ideas into the box their rock is in. So it stagnates.

I hope that this will show you where I stand, and why I choose stand here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Me and my guitar. Random Thoughts.

I was thinking about guitar and festivals, and I have some thoughts. I have been to only two ADF festivals, last year's Summerlands and this year's Wellspring. Both were a load of fun, but there wasn't much opportunity for random guitar playing. I certainly had time to play by myself at Summerlands last year, but I had to travel away from my campsite. It was very quiet over there, and people were always sleeping. Who goes to a festival to sleep? I didn't want to play too close to a workshop, which is where most of the people not attending were sitting. I tried to play a little in one group between workshops, but the people there didn't seem interested, and actually seemed rather annoyed because they were talking. Hehe, I can imagine their reaction if I would have actually sang. Boy, am I loud! And the drum circle was full of very enthusiastic drummers who played for hours. Not that I am complaining. It was amazing! Just not conducive to guitar playing.

Wellspring didn't leave me with much time to randomly play guitar. There was a lot going on. I had surprisingly little time to sit with the Cranes, let alone play guitar. Plus, I lost my capo, and the one I borrowed from Ian was on loan for only a short time, since he needed it, too.

I hear all these tales of folks singing around the fire and playing music on into the night, and I really want to be a part of something like that. When we go camping as a family, we habitually end up with a full audience and even get participants from other camps who have brought their instruments as well.

I think one of the reasons for my habitual disconnect with other ADF folks (and sometimes even the Cranes) is because I relate to people through music. It is a need of mine. Without it as a bond, I have a hard time making a connection. My guitar really has become an extension of myself. I use it to pray. I use to celebrate. I use it to mourn. I use it to relax. I use it to wake me up. I use to wind down. I find comfort and strength in it's tones. I love to play. Music is such an ingrained part of my life that without sharing it with someone, I don't really feel that we know each other very well--or at least that they don't know me.

The Bear-Man is probably my closest Cranie-kin. He's also been privy to all of the songs I have written for ADF purposes before anyone else. Heck, I even wrote one for him! Ris and Paul had a couple of get-togethers at their place to which I brought my guitar and shared quite a few pieces with them and their guests. I feel much closer to those people who were there, and the rest of my relationships are almost stagnating. I spent some time trying to figure out why and these are the conclusions I made. Just some random thoughts about me and my quirky personality. Some people you get to through their stomachs. Me? You get to me through my guitar...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rough times going around.

So many thoughts running around in my mind. Where to begin? With the autistic child who laid his head in my lap and fell asleep, after spilling a smuggled bottle of bubble solution on my bed and a bowl of dry cereal behind my nightstand? I could sing of my beautiful daughter who brought me the most gorgeous little flower from outside because she said it was pretty like me, after I cleaned up the carrot shavings from the carrot she peeled after lunch. I can rave about my eldest son's uncanny ability to give me a random hug when I am in need of one, regardless of the fact that I raised my voice at him thirty minutes prior because his laundry basket was dumped into the hallway--the clean laundry. I may decide that I want to talk about the subtle way I am reminded exactly where my place is--and remembering what size my breeches are, so to speak. Mine own thoughts are plotting.

So many people dear to me heart are having a rough time about things. Life is hard sometimes. Life is cruel. People are cruel, and commonly extensively so. How do you tell someone who won't hear you that she is beautiful? How do you tell someone whose own thoughts are too loud to listen when you praise her intellect? How do you show someone who has made himself blind how talented he is? And how do I open myself so I can hear the good things people are saying about me? I wonder; I wonder.

I wish that people would just say what they mean. I wish that people would mean what they say. I wish that people talked to one another the way they wish to be talked to in return. I wish for loads of things that I have no control to change. I do, however, have complete control over one thing in this world--and that is my reaction to them. To those who tear me down, even passive-aggressively. To those who speak words that are intended to diffuse a situation but somehow alienate me. To those who undermine me to get ahead. To those who have something to say about my child and try to give me advice, though many of them have no children and can't possibly know what it is like to be where I am. I choose to live with grace and sanity. I choose to be kind and thoughtful. I choose to persevere in the face of adversity. And above all else, I choose love and loyalty, friends and family, kin and Kindreds, for these are what really matter to me. I think I made good choices.

You are good enough; these things just take time. You are beautiful, and I wish the opinions of strangers didn't effect you so deeply. You are extremely talented, and I am sorry if I have taken you for granted or held you back in any way. You are loved, and I know that is not enough, but I hope it will hold you over, at least long enough to get some sleep tonight. I love you all. I can be strong enough for us all. Lean on me, and I will hold you, but when you can stand on your own again, don't forget the rock beneath your feet...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Liturgy I Passed!

My rewrites were acceptable, and I have passed Liturgy I. Since this counts for four study programs, it makes me feel like I got a lot of bang for my buck, so to speak. :)

I have started History of Neopaganism and Druidism, but it is a little dry, which is not conducive to third shift writing. I picked up Comparative Mythology to be directly followed by New Comparative Mythology for General Bardic Studies I, as well. I find it overwhelming to realize how little I actually know about this religion I claim to follow. There are so many unanswered questions regarding the anthropology, history, lore, evolution and Neopagan skills in my head that I wonder sometimes at my ability to call myself a Druid.

Baby steps, baby steps.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who needs spoons anyway?

Being a good Mom, you happily oblige when your autistic four-year-old brings an empty bowl over to the counter where you are preparing food and looks hopefully at the rice. You place a few scoops in the bowl, put in a spoon, and escort him to the table with his booty.

He doesn't want to sit, but you want him to eat, so you allow him to stand. He takes the spoon and puts it on the table. You put the spoon in his hand. He puts it back on the table. You put it in his bowl, and he waits. You don't put it back in his hand, because he has had a rough day and needs at least a few calories before bed. After a few moments, the food on the stove is in dire need of attention, so you resume the stirring and sauteeing. You are interrupted by a series of unhappy yells that you can only assume are your autistic child's version of cussing. He has rice on his hand and is yelling because he wants it off. You quickly get a rag, but he is really upset. The rice on the floor is now on the bottom of his sock, and he is frettingly trying to scrap it off, but now that rice is also sticking to his hands. Wailing, wailing.

You pick him up, take off his socks and wipe his hand on your shirt. He still wants the rice. You hand him the bowl, and he tries to run. He stops when he steps in the rice, so you seize the opportunity to pick him up and sit on the floor with him in your lap before he screams again. After a few tries, you let him back up. Now you are sitting on the floor, and he is in the corner of the kitchen trying to get past you--and take his bowl with him.

He puts the bowl down next to you but paces in his corner of the kitchen, making very unhappy sounds all the while. You smile, and in your most convincing and friendly voice, you say to him, "Help you" over and over while making the ASL sign for "help." Smile, sign, speak, repeat. Smile, sign, speak, repeat.

Finally, he walks over and sits in your lap. You get him to eat one bite with the spoon, which he then takes out of your hand and flings accross the kitchen. But he remains in your lap. He plunges his hand in the bowl, and eats the rice while you tell him he's a good boy and run your hand over his hair, kissing his head and rocking, ever so slightly.

After he has finished, you take the bowl to the sink and whisk him to a tub full of bubbles and boats. He is happy.

I hate spoons.

Sunburned, tired, and quite changed.

Well, I have heard others tell tales about coming home from a festival different, and I had experienced something not quite so drastic at Summerlands last year, but Wellspring--I had no idea.

I had a much different festival than most of the folks there, I am sure. I had a lot of personal issues to overcome (including computer issues, lost supplies that are necessary, and many many many instances of being given two choices and having to make a decision). I came to some life-changing decisions this weekend, some that affect a lot more people than I would like them to (some of whom are not going to be happy about it), but I think that I am finally in a place where I can evaluate the situation and make those tough decisions--even the hard ones that I don't want to make. This entire festival seemed to be one long lesson involving a crash-course in on-the-fly prioritizing.

I learned a lot about myself this weekend. I learned that I can be strong even when it makes others not like me very much. I have learned that there are plenty of folks who have a good opinion of me, even though there are a few who don't after this weekend. I learned that I am more talented than I credit myself. I learned that I can laugh at myself. Most of all, I learned that through whatever situation I find myself in, I have a list of people who will be there for me, and that is the biggest gift I could have asked to receive this weekend.

Special thanks to my Grovies, The Cranes, specifically Anna Gail, though you were all amazing all weekend long. I have long known that the Crane kin are my second family, but this weekend was such a display of familial love that I will never doubt my place among them.

See you all at Summerlands!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Portrait of a Musician

Researching this article has lead me on so many tangents. I am never going to finish at this rate!Still reading Music, the Brain and Ecstasy. Still fascinated by it.

Many of you, if not all of you, are familiar with the fact that the left side of the brain is most associated with science and the right side with arts. Chapter two spends quite a bit of time explaining how the brain processes sound. Simply stated, most of the auditory nerves are always firing, even in silence, and the others only respond to changes in sound, firing only when a frequency intensifies or slides upward or downward (changes what we perceive as pitch). In the center of the brain, there is a primary auditory complex in which much of the activity is devoted to inhibiting the action of other neurons to simplify the incoming auditory data one sound at a time and suppressing noise. This prepares the sound for transmission to the secondary auditory cortex encircling it, in which the successive sounds are processed. The right brain also focuses on simultaneous sound, the whole chord, so to speak, including hierarchies of harmonic relations and overtones, and separates out one note from the next, creating/perceiving changes in tone: a melody. In addition, hearing a sound too many times in a row or for too long will cause the neurons to stop firing. This is why those buzzing machines become part of the background and you are no longer conscious of them. People sleeping with a fan on? That is because it is harder to process silence than it is to process sound.

Plus so much more you most likely don't want to hear about, no pun intended.

We know that the left brain is the place to be if you need to finish your math homework, and since most rhythm is essentially a series of fractions, the left brain is actually where the rhythm of a piece is divulged. There is a clear distinction made that places people into one of two categories, tonality or rhythm, depending on thier strength. How many of you know a Druid who is completely tone-deaf but can play a hand drum around a fire like nobody's business? So what does this all mean to us in ritual? Music involves both sides of the brain, simultaneously, regardless of strength. We each will focus more on either the tonality or the rhythm, depending on where our strengths lie, but music is a unifying force, within ourselves and with one another. We all hear a little differently, but when music, especially making music is a group project, it is by far the clearest way to connect the folk and draw them together to create that group mind. Also, it take a lot of energy to make a sound, and when you have that many people together, using both halves of their brains as a group, it's no wonder music is listed as the single most effective way to raise energy in a rite.

Oh, there is so much more that has me really excited about all of this, but I am afraid I am either going to go too far into the physiology and loose some of you or that I will talk forever--which is always a possibility with me. :) On a side note, musicians store infinite numbers of melody lines in the hippocampus and can draw on them at will. This is why some people can hear a few bars and tell you exactly what song it is and continue the molody, even if they haven't heard the song in ages. In fact, music makes a much stronger memory than words alone, and giving someone a few spoken lyrics, the brain will still find the corresponding melody. The majority of individuals hear better from the left ear, since the left side of the body is controlled by the right brain. Conversely, musicians hear better from the right. Professional musicians favor the left hemisphere for musical processing. They link and organize fragments of music by very abstract relations, and left brain function is necessary for long term, deep and mulit-layered understanding.

So, even when using the same sheet music, no two people ever sing the same song. It's just this kind of diversity in the midst of unity that we need in ritual. That's why music is a ritual device. Music allows us to maintain our independence while simultaneously drawing us together as one group mind. I am finding all that I ever needed and more to explain what I have known to be true for years. Now I just have to explain how to use it and get other people to do this with me in ritual space.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Music, the Brain and Ecstasy by: Robert Jourdain

In an effort to distract myself today, I sifted through some old books of mine to see what I might be interested in and low and behold! I found a diamond in the rough!Music, the Brain and Ecstasy is a scientific book about the mechanics of sound, specifically related to neurology. The first two sections of the book, which I just checked for accurate physiology, are about the way the brain hears and processes sound. The third section, which is the most useful for this essay on music as a ritual device, is entirely devoted to the way musical tones, melodies and harmonies make us feel. It describes emotional responses, including ecstasy and pleasure, and even describes the body's reactive response. All very cool. It has been quite a journey to find a credible source that doesn't use drumming as the only medium for induction of musical trance and describes the use of music to induce emotive responses. Haha, there is a whole chapter on the melody line from The Pink Panther. I have just begun to get into the meat of this book, but I will post any relevant thoughts as I make my way through it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Poseidon and Being a Bard

As many of you know, I want to be a Bard when I grow up. In fact, it consumes me much of the time. I recently discovered that many of the Deities with whom I work are at least indirectly tied to my Bardic aspirations. Though not many of them, actually none of them, are known for instilling talent, all of the Deities with whom I work on a regular basis are strengthening the qualities in me that will make me a better Bard. (You know, when I grow up.)

For example:
Eos, the Goddess of the Dawn. Now she is inspiring. I find her to be one of the most awe-inducing and poetic Goddesses. What do she and I have in common? Empathy. We make other people feel what we feel, and in turn, we share in the pains and triumphs of others. Why is this important to Bardic arts? Good music is written when a writer is inspired. Inspiration is not far removed from empathy, and in fact can oftentimes be synonymous.

Athene is easy. She represents skill of any kind, and music or writing of any kind definitely takes some amount of skill! She is best invoked when practicing and honing those pieces that are nearing completion.

Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld. She triumphs over adversity. She makes the best out of the worst situations. She finds happiness where there is sadness. Bardic arts are like that. Ever been to a funeral where a guest told anecdotal pieces about the life of the recently departed that eased and soothed the folk gathered to mourn? Recognizing the sadness is important, but helping people heal and keeping them from wallowing is important. Bardic arts can have that power.

Persephone, Goddess of the Springtime. Rebirth. Growth. Death. Repeat. All things come in cycles, each part just as important as the last. However, after a period of death, as similarly related above, rebirth is highly anticipated and celebrated upon its arrival. Celebratory pieces, especially in times of war, were favored heavily in most of the IE cultures. Embracing happiness, and bringing it to the masses is a tool that can be used to enforce Unity among the folk. When people feel the same emotion, especially when that emotion is joy, there is bonding. Triumph draws people together, but celebrating that triumph keeps people together.

Hekate. (Ok, hear me out on this one. We are moving into the more abstract Deities. It has taken me a long time to work this all out, and it didn't come together until Poseidon, to whom I will get in a moment.) Hekate is a Goddess of Crossroads. She is also a guide to recently deceased individuals, among many other attributes. In Bardic terms, Hekate reminds me that there are jobs that need to be done, however unpleasant (like leading dead people to the Underworld), but someone has to do them. Learning to play chops, memorizing scales, vocal strengthening exercises. Much of the time, these things are not fun. Playing the same piece over and over again, and messing up continually can be frustrating, but you reach a crossroads, a point where you must decide to persevere or move on to something else. Hekate is there in that decision. She will show you the way, if you ask her. I know. I've done it.

And finally, the Deity of the hour, Poseidon, Dark-haired God of the Sea. This one threw me. Poseidon is always depicted as angry. He was greatly feared by anyone who had to cross the Mediterranean. Like I stated in a previous post, I am in no way an angry person. Heck, my kids laugh at me sometimes when I am mad (which just kills me). But, reading further into the lore, I found some interesting traits emerging. He did crash boats sometimes, yes, but he also helped those whom he wanted to succeed. He entered into competitions and lost. A lot. But he kept trying. Poseidon had great control over those things in his immediate world: the dolphins, the nymphs, the very sea itself, but he struggled outside of his element (those of you who know me are nodding your heads in understanding by now).

Poseidon is here to teach me that I am not always going to win, mostly likely I will fail a lot of the time. But it's ok. It doesn't diminish me. You may try to claim ownership to the title of God of Attika, but even if Athene wins, you are still the God of the Sea, and that is something that can't be taken away from you. Even if any one of a number of other very talented ADF Bards is crowned Wellspring Bardic Chair, I am still the bard of Three Cranes Grove, and that is something that can't be taken away from me. The more abstract version? Poseidon is here to teach me confidence, perseverance and above all else, an understanding of my place in the world which will lead me to contentment and happiness. I don't think I could really ask for a better gift.

I think I am understanding more about the nature of the Gods and the ways they interact with us. I know I have much more to learn, even if this theory is true, but I also know that regardless of my failings, there are others bigger, stronger and better equipped who are willing to help me when I am struggling and stand by me when I am not. In closing I will leave you with a modified version of a statement I like to make, in honor of Poseidon and his place in my life:

"Don't piss off your Sea God (Bard). You can either cross the sea with glory, or sink in pieces."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Equinox: Athesphoria

Well, I did it. I DIC-ed my first ADF rite with the Cranes. This was also our first EVER Hellenic rite. When I was first approached about doing a Hellenic rite, I was assuming it would be more of a "them humoring me" kind of affair. What actually happened has blown me away. Back story: I was a solitary for a long time, surrounded by people who never took my faith seriously. I am used to being humored when it comes to things like dumping a portion of really good wine on the ground or the recycling Nazi-ism that is rampant in my home. I have very good people in my life, but they just don't understand. Not my Gods, not my high days, not my devotion. But they love me, so they humor me.

Spring Equinox planning began very shortly after Imbolc. I had already been working on the rite I was dong as a solitary, so when I was asked to do the High Day, I merely had to adapt for a group (harder than it sounds to go that way than to go from group to solitary!). From the beginning, everyone has been supportive of my efforts and done a lot to make this rite a success. When the girls decided to make ritual gowns, I was excited. I have never been one to wear any type of ritual clothing, though I have donned a few cloaks in my time when its cold, purely out of function. I was floored when things in my life once again went topsy-turvy and the girls made my dress for me. No, seriously. I showed up twice for fitting purposes, and never sewed a stitch. The dress? Absolutely beautiful. (There are some picture floating around, so I will see what I can snitch from someone who was at the rite. My camera was broken the night before the rite.)

So, after much personal drama and a mere hour of sleep, I showed up at the park, ready to go. The final count was 54 participants for this rite. 54! That's a lot of people to stand up in front of and profess your love to a Goddess! We had a few treasured guests from out of town who came all the way in and participated with offerings and songs, altar decorations and basic Hellenic flair. (Thanks for coming! It was awesome to have you among the rest of my beloved Kin for the day!)

The rite itself went fairly well. I will try not to over-analyze and go negative like I usually do when critiquing myself. I made a few mistakes, one fairly big one, but just kept going so no one would ever know. Hopefully, those who noticed didn't think that I meant for it to be that way, but realized that I was compensating for a bad ritual move! The praise composed by the other members was all very moving. I could tell how much thought and preparation went into the writing of their pieces.

What next? Well, the completion of this high day is the final piece to my Dedicant Program material. Once I insert my write-up of the rite, I am ready to submit. (Really? Can it be time already? Whew!) So many things about this rite have humbled my spirit and filled my heart with love. Watching everyone band together to make this a success was inspiring and encouraged me to do my best. Seeing all those happy faces when I got there and being able to perform the rite outside filled my spirit with joy. Most of all, calling on my patron and watching 54 people sing her praises and make her offerings was almost more than I could handle. I really felt that providing a place for the people to make offerings to Persephone was an offering in and of itself...and if I weren't Hellene, this probably would never ahve happened. I realize that, and it is humbling. I stood up there and watched everyone make offerings, listened to two people sing songs to her and did my very best not to cry. I am trying to feel pride for what I have done, but I had so much help and really had such a small part in the whole thing that I barely feel able to take credit for the success of this rite. All in all, it was amazing.

In conclusion, I have decided that it was time for our Grove to honor the Hellenic gods. We have done a great job of honoring all the members of the IE cultures so far, and this has been long due. I am hoping someone will write a Vedic or Baltic Rite that we can do as a Grove. What better way to learn and to grow than to be exposed to different ways of doing things? As long as we always pray with a good fire...

PS) We are never, ever doing Earth Mother, Blossom Lifter again, so don't ask.
PSS) I have to admit, I do like being spanked by a Norsewoman in a chiton... ;)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dedicant Oath Recap

As I’ve said before, there have been two instances in my life in which I have made a vow, only one of those was public, until now. When I got married in 2001, I vowed to honor, love, cherish and be devoted to my husband. At that time, I finally understood the phrase: “this is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Tonight, I gave my final Dedicant Oath. Before the Druid Moon tonight, I felt that this oath, or Oath, was a formality of the way I live my life.

I was so wrong.

I still cannot describe to you all that I am experiencing right now, but I can tell you this: all of my spiritual life, all that I have poured into it, and all that I ever hoped to get out of it has been leading me up to this. This, all of this, is what I was meant to do. And now that it is done, I have no idea what to do next. The world is my oyster, so to speak.

Backing up a bit, we honored the Earth Mother today as our DotO for this Druid Moon. Four of us, including me, were inducted into the Grove as full members. My sisters were all around me today. They all took off a piece of jewelry for me to wear, and Anna even threw her cloak on me. My heart was full before we even began!

We were asked some questions before we entered into the sacred space. Once we were all upstairs, Mike did a guided two powers themed meditation. I don’t remember much of the words he used because I tranced out for a minute. I really needed that.

We honored the Earth Mother, and inducted the new members, including me. Yay! I am now an official part of the family. It’s good to be home with my brothers and sisters.

Before I actually gave my oath, I made some offerings to a few of the Kindred who were there for me, leading me, guiding me, and shaping me along my Dedicant journey. My journey really began several years ago when Athene first called me (you know, back when I “caught the pagan.” Be careful Laughter is a side effect!).

I gave thanks to Hestia, for always being there, even in the most mundane of tasks, to remind me that all little jobs are necessary. There is great strength in being the head of a household, and that strength can be passed along to those around you as you care for them. (Offered herbal mix)

I lit candles and thanked all three Kindred in turn for their guidance and assistance.

I gave thank to Apollo and the Muses for inspiration in music and words. I have grown and changed a lot through the music I have been given, and I am grateful for this outlet in my life. Many hard times were weathered with song. (Offered wine)

I gave thanks to Athene, whose initial work prepared me for what was to come. She taught me, first and foremost to control my emotions better. She gave me the patience to wait and gather information before making decisions. (Offered real pearl ring I got when I was 16 in Myrtle Beach)

And then I thanked Persephone, who taught me the merits of perseverance and acceptance. When life gets hard, when you are faced with an unexpected hardship, you have two choices: either you can wallow in the pits of Hades, or you can become the Queen of the Underworld. Persephone taught me how to overcome and rise above, to make the best out of any given situation, no matter the difficulty. (Offered Pomegranate necklace from Jerusalem)

I placed my hand on the sickle, but before I began to speak, Mike pressed my hand into the blade. Not in a painful way, but with enough force to let me know that I was doing something important. I could feel the blade against my hand for several minutes after it was gone. My flesh still remembers that feeling as I write this.

I took my Oath with Styx as witness. Just invoking her is a very powerful experience. When she is called forth, she comes and stands beside you immediately, listening intently to your every breath and intention as you speak. I fear I cannot even tell you the words I spoke. It was just me and my Kindred, a blade against my palm, and my entire life flashing before my eyes. I remember what I meant: that I shall follow the Elder paths, honor the Kindred with offerings from heart, hands and creative spirit, and steep myself in the knowledge and lore of the gods and those who have gone before me. I also intended to say that I plan on treading lightly and honoring the Earth Mother, though I think the first half of this rite, which was dedicated to the Earth Mother, said it all for me.

Nature Spirits offer Sowilo, Victory/The Sun.
Ancestors offer Othala, Ancestral Property/Inheritance. Spiritual heritage.
Shining Ones offer Ehwaz, Horse/transportation. Also harmony/teamwork.
I have entered into a partnership with the Kindred, a binding life-long contract, and they are pleased. My future is bright, and I will not be moving forward from here alone. I have no need to ask whether or not my Oath was accepted. It was. And this is only the beginning.

I am glad I decided not to do this in a solitary rite. I understand better now the reasons they say witnessing an oath binds your Wyrdd together, because I absolutely felt more connected to those around me after it was over. Overall, I would say my Oath went rather well, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people with whom to share this experience (with the exception of adding Tanrinia and Seamus, who were sorely missed. I’ll have to tie my Wyrdd to them another day). ;) Thank you, everyone who was present for this, for making this one of the best experiences of my life.

And I found my note cards while I was cleaning up…right where I left them..

Friday, February 20, 2009

Persephone's Garden

Persephone’s Garden: A Tale of the Spring

Long ago, in the time when they believed the Earth was flat, in the far reaches of the Greek world, there lived a small and humble farming family. The two girl children, Athanasia and Zenobia knew there was nothing but fields of wheat as far as the eye could see in most every direction—save one. Off to the west grew a stand of trees near a stream, and tucked away in these trees was a very special place, a place the girls called their Secret Garden.

During the hottest days of the year, when all growth ceased and the days were lazy and long, the girls would dream of the seasons when the garden was in bloom. This garden was the very first place where the flowers would return as well as the last from which they would depart every year.

One such day, after months of heavy heat, the girls’ mother said to them, “Young ones, your chores are done. Go out now and play. There is naught to do in here but sit around and be food for the bugs. Find yourselves a shady spot and dream of the rains.”

Athanasia, the elder of the two at eleven, smiled freely at the suggestion. She beckoned to her sister with a wink, “Come, Zenobia. Let us see if we can find a suitable place to play.”

So off the girls went, following a winding path of their own creation to their most Sacred place, Their Secret Garden. Though there had been no flowers for three months now, the girls were careful always to check for weeds and keep everything in order. They took great pride in their work, but they also guarded their secret fiercely. Their Father, though he meant well, could be a little over protective, and the girls were fearful that he would disallow their trips to the Garden if he ever found out.

Because they were so careful with their treasured knowledge, the girls were very surprised not only to find their Garden blooming, but also to see a woman standing among the dripping rose bushes with a bloom in her hand. Frozen in their tracks, they barely flinched when the woman locked eyes with them and smiled warmly.

“Excuse me,” Athanasia finally spoke. “We did not mean to disturb you.”

“Nonsense,” the woman replied. “You must be the ones who have been caring for my garden in my absence.”

Zenobia frowned in confusion. “Your Garden?” she asked. “How come I have never seen you here before?”

The woman laughed. “I live very far away, but this is one of my most favorite places in all of Hellenismos.”

“Mine, too!” exclaimed Zenobia.

“What are your names, if I may ask?” inquired the lady.

“I’m Zenobia, and I’m five and a half,” Zenobia declared. “And that’s Athanasia. She’s eleven and thinks she’s a grown up.”

The Lady bowed her head slightly and said, “Please to make your acquaintance. My name is Persephone.”

Both girls gaped at her in astonishment. They were simple country children, but not completely unawares of the religion of the Great City, infused as it was in everything they did. But the girls knew the story of Persephone and Hades. Persephone was the Dark Queen of the Underworld, not a beautiful woman in a garden.

“Judging by your stunned silence, I would wager you have at least heard my name before?” Persephone asked.

“But, Persephone is a dark and scary lady who spends her time bossing dead people around. She doesn’t like flowers!” Zenobia blurted out. Athanasia stayed her sister and waited.

Persephone regarded this for a moment before she answered her. “Child, in your many years here with us, have you not lost one whom you loved?” Persephone asked.

Athanasia answered for them both, for not long ago they lost their grandmother, the dearest in their hearts. “Our Grandmother now resides in your world.”

“I see,” said Persephone. “And she was good to you, wasn’t she?”

“O, yes!” Zenobia smiled at her memory. “She made the best cakes and told us stories. She is the one who told us about you.”

“I am glad to hear of it.” Persephone replied walking closer to the children. “Little one, do you think your grandmother, who was wise and kind, would be someplace bad and scary for the rest of eternity?”

“Well, I…” For the first time, Zenobia was unsure what to say.

Athanasia waited, regarding the Goddess carefully as she stood before them. She found her unnerving. More than a little too quickly she said, “Please, we meant no harm. Let us be on our way, and we will not bother your garden again.”

“Athanasia, the point I am making is this:” Persephone began. “I may be Queen of the Underworld for a portion of the year, but I am still the Maiden of the Spring when the rains come and wake the Earth. My mother, Demeter, cries freely tears of joy each year when I am given to her again. But while I am away, and she is lost in her longing, the world turns dry and hot and no flowers will grow. It is during this time that I am down below, not in a dark and scary place, as you describe it, but in a warm and comfortable place where your grandmother has come to make her eternal home. And, where ever I go, the flowers follow…” Persephone pointed to the path she walked to reach the children’s side, and lo, the way was marked with blooms of every color, as the flowers bloomed at her feet.

Amazement covered the girls’ faces. Zenobia’s mouth gaped in awe, and Athanasius’ eyes were wide with wonder. Persephone continued, “This garden is the last place I see before I go to Hades side, and the first place to which I come when I return. This is why the flowers here are the last as well as the first.

“Now, since you have admitted freely it was you who has been tending my garden, I must give you your due,” said Persephone with a wink. “I know a great deal more than you may think about what goes on in my absence.

“I will be going north soon, but there is magic here that you may use to aid your family. Take you these flowers and make wreaths out of them. Then, take them to your Father’s shed. Whatever tools you hang them on will be fruitful in their work upon the Earth. Gaia knows they are my flowers and will bless the tools they have touched. Your father’s garden will grow and grow, and your faithfulness will be rewarded to your entire village.”

Just then, a chariot drawn by two magnificent horses landed from the sky. They paused long enough for Persephone to gracefully climb into the back, and then off they went, up and away, to carry her to her mother’s waiting arms.

Several minutes passed before the girls were able to tear their eyes away from the place where the horses had disappeared into the skyline. Finally, Athanasia returned to herself and regarded Zenobia. “Come, little one, and I will show you how to weave a wreath.”

Together, the girls made a dozen wreaths, growing more anxious and excited as they worked. On their way home, they decided still to keep the gift from the Goddess to themselves, lest it didn’t work, for they did not wish to lose their garden visits for naught.

They continued to tend the garden whenever they could steal away, and over time, they noticed something very peculiar. All of the seeds their father planted had sprung forth, and much sooner than the neighboring fields. As the season waxed, their father’s fields continued to be larger and fuller than all those surrounding them. The neighbors were all in awe over his newly found luck in farming.

Once the harvest arrived, the girls decided to tell their father of what they had done. As the girls spoke, a single tear ran down his face. When the girls were done telling their tale, he quietly asked them to take him to their garden. Once there, he fell to his knees and began to thank the Goddess for her kindness. After some time spent in this manner, he walked slowly around the garden and with an eye more keen to the keeping of growing things, tending the areas in need of further work.

The next year, and every year after that, the family spent much time caring for the gardens and following Persephone’s instructions. And every year the family farm grew larger and larger. Poverty was no longer a familiar word in their neighborhood, and the children grew up healthy and happy.

Persephone was not seen again, but the evidence of her time in the garden was always there for anyone with the eyes to see the path she walked through the garden, for it was always laced with the largest blooms.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Anthesteria Recap

Today, I performed my Anthesteria rite.

It. was. awesome.

Anthesteria this year was in honor of the Ancestors. I made peace with relationships that were toxic in my past, recognized the necessity of the situations and people in my past, and let go of all the hurt and anger that I have been holding on to. I have the Ancestors box since I am DIC for the next rite, and having the Ancestors of my Grove around me and supporting me as I made peace with the not-so-great relationships was very empowering.

I made an offering to the Outdwellers, which is not something I routinely do. I did the rite in my living room, and since this is not an area I usually hallow, I thought it would be wise. It left me feeling very peaceful, and I really needed that feeling going into this!I honored Hestia and the Earth Mother, called to Apollo for inspiration, and Eos opened the gates for me. During the key offerings portion of the rite, I honored the Ancestors with some impromptu words, and then I recognized the Christian gods I worked with and thanked them for the foundation of faith that they helped me to build. I honored them and told them I was moving on.

Omens? Gebo, Othala and Dagaz.

For the return flow, I used a small portion of watered down wine. It definitely made the water feel like more than water (which it was), and I think I may start doing this on a regular basis--especially since I drink water on a regular basis as my beverage of choice.Overall, it was an excellent rite. I didn't leave anything out, and there are no negative feelings or regrets. I do believe I finally have a handle on all this ADF stuff. ;)

Today is a good day. Esto!