Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heliogenna with Three Cranes Grove, ADF

Heliogenna is the brain-child of the very talented Litrugist and Poet from the Hellenic Recon circles, Hector Lugo. It is a nine day solitary festival broken into three parts: the Sunset of the old year, the Night, and the Sunrise of the new year. The Crane rite was inspired by the Sunrise portion of this festival and was dedicated to the Titan God of the Sun, Helios.

Beginning with Hestia, Gaia and an invocation to the Muses (named individually), our rite began with a definite note of theater--highly appropriate for a Hellenic ritual! Rev. Mike Dangler called to Eos, the Titan Goddess of the Dawn and Helios' sister as gatekeeper in a very visually moving meditation and invocation that set the stage for a greatly inspired ritual.

Our Omens were drawn by Emerald using the Olympian Oracle as follows:
  • Were our offerings accepted: Alpha. "The God Apollo says you will do everything successfully." That would be yes.
  • Gifts offered to us in return: Upsilon. "The affair holds a noble undertaking." Emerald pretty much said the Gods are pleased with the work we are doing and will aid us in further endeavors.
  • Further needs the Kindred have of us: Xi. "There is no fruit to take from a withered shoot." Exactly. Continue on with the work we are doing, paying attention to sowing our seeds and nurturing new growth.
I had the honor of calling down the Waters for this ritual, an act I rarely get to perform but one that I enjoy immensely.

Our working consisted of gathering together written notes of things the folk wished to have removed from their lives and left behind rather than carried forward into the new year. We added to this the negative energy drawn and discarded from each person in attendance and asked Helios to burn away those impurities with the pure light of the Sun. I felt the working was powerful, and I do hope the fruits of this working are noticeable right away in the lives of the folk.

This was a well executed rite, and I am glad to have participated in it.
Happy Solstice, Everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rite of Passage Reflections

On December 18, 2010, I was ceremoniously released from my vows in the Christian faith and baptized by Fire, Well and Tree in the snow surrounded by 9 members of my heart family.

When I arrived at T's house, I was greeted by a smiling group, genuinely pleased to be joining me for this occasion. Half of us even donned our ritual wares, and I was crowned with a halo of holly and white ribbons to accompany a white dress and white cloak. AG looked quite the complement in deep green and black!

We processed to the nemeton with care as we trod through the snow. The fire was lit and off we went! The rite followed the ADF Core Order of Ritual, and the first working came at the Deity of the Occasion position, during which I invited the Triple God of the Christians. More distinctly now than ever, I felt the definite presence of three Beings enter our space, and the Holy Spirit descended just as I remembered her. I thanked them for the gifts they have given my in my life and the beginnings of my spiritual path, I recognized them still as the Gods of my Ancestors, and I made them one final offering--the cross that my father had given me when I was 16 in tolerance and support of my choice--in exchange for release from the vows of baptism and confirmation. It was a difficult working!

I then made offerings to all three Kindred and to my patrons, offering many things that I felt were important between us: pomegranate seeds to Persephone (tossed and ingested), Wine to Athene, red amber to Freyja and green amber to Idunna.

Omens, taken by a magical AG who did quite a bit of working throughout this process: Isa, Hagalaz and Perthro. I was not too thrilled at first glance, but they are rather appropriate. Isa made us laugh because we were standing in the SNOW, but more importantly, AG saw a bridge between what was and what is to be. I received this omen with just this significance when I decided to begin the path of Druidry. Hagalaz was absolutely appropriate considering I had just rent my entire past asunder. And Perthro, well, I suppose it is a hefty chance to take, dissolving the bonds of baptism. In that faith, without them, there is no admittance to their Heaven. I haven't had much time to think more on these omens, but in a few days, I will revisit and see what further information lies there.

After that, we proceeded to the Waters of Life, during which there was much giggling. It seems a very large amount of energy was released into the circle, and it was difficult not to succumb to the urge to belly laugh for no apparent reason--especially since most folks were not to excited to draw down and share those blessings. :P

With the Waters infused, we moved to the second working, where SB baptized me by Fire, by Well and by Tree. I was subjected to ritual smoke, Waters of Life and swept with a broom by my favorite witch, April. It was not as emotionally or energetically intense as I thought it would be at that moment, but definitely empowering!

SB had be draw omens from his bag of oghams myself. From the Ancestors, I received Fearn, the Alder, shielding and protection. From the Nature Spirits, I received Nuin, the Ash Tree, connections to the world and spiritual inspiration. From the Shining Ones, I received Huathe, Hawthorn, purification and wisdom. I think these are wonderful omens for such a significant rite of passage!

Finally, I repeated my Dedicant Oath. I purposefully did not write anything out or revisit what I had prepared the first time. I wanted the words to flow in that moment as I meant them from my heart. In the end, it was pretty similar to the original oath, for my intention to follow the High Days, study and express the Elder Ways and Elder Gods through my art has not changed. If anything, it has only become a stronger driving force in my life.

We made cloak angels on the way back to the house where we had music, food and revelry, and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. I retired for the evening just after 9:00pm, and I slept straight through until morning. I even took a nap before the Three Cranes Grove ritual on Sunday.

Overall, I am very happy with the rite. It was a beautiful day spent surrounded by beautiful people. Thank you to all of you who shared in this important day with me. I can't wait to see where my path will lead next!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A prelude to a rite of passage...

In one week, I will be performing one of the most important bits of magic I've done to this day. I will be severing my ties of baptism and confirmation with the Christian God and rededicating myself to the Elder ways through a pagan triple baptism that I have composed. The work itself isn't too overly sophisticated, and I am grateful that I have two experienced and talented Druids in my Grove that have offered to assist me in this endeavor.

AG will be assisting with the breaking of the bonds. She will be spending time with the Norns this week to create a rope weaved from three strands that shall be "tied" to the three connections I have to the Christian Triple God. During the rite, she will wrap this rope around my wrists, connecting them to that thread within me as I bring them forward that has me connected to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am most nervous about severing ties with the third, for there are some fond memories and a lot of divine inspiration built up there. I think the fact that I am still this "tied" to that relationship is the biggest indicator that this working needs to be done.

Shawneen will be performing the baptism, by Fire, Well and Tree. He has a very powerful yet smooth voice and quite an amazing ritual presence. The fire portion will completely burn away the ties to those things in my past that no longer serve me and purify my spirit for what is to come. The Well will wash me in the power of the Kindred and tie me into the Underworld powers. The Tree will connect me to the realms and to the Kindred. At the end of this, I will offer to my patrons and other influential Goddesses and end with a repeat of my Dedicant Oath.

I'm not exactly sure how this will change my life, but I do expect the changes to be internally monumental. May the Kindred bless you all, as well, in this transformative time of year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eos and Tithonos

Long ago, as the first Gods ordered the universe, it fell to Eos, the beautiful daughter of Hyperion and Theia, to bring forth the dawn from the East. Each morning, at the close of night's time, Eos would rise up in her chariot from the river Okeanus, ascending to herald in the light of day to Gods and mortals alike. Eos was often found spending much of the day with her brother, Helios, as he rode across the sky, bringing the light of the sun to the worlds.

During one such ride, Eos' eye fell upon a young warrior god in training, Ares, the brilliant God of War. He was magnificent in form and breath-taking to behold. Eos drove her chariot down to get a closer look, sending her rays of rosy light to shimmer and shine on his skin and blade. Ares, being of the strong masculine sort, was moved by her grace and beauty as she shone on before him in ethereal wonder. It was no time before the two found themselves spent between lover's sheets.

Ares, unfortunately, had already pledged his heart to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Desire, and when she heard of their coupling, her wrath filled her with a passionate anger and thirst for revenge. With a simple spell, Aphrodite cursed Eos to be forever enthralled beyond measure with young and attractive men.

After a string of lovers that Eos stole away to the ends of the Earth, Orion whom she bore away to Delos, Cleitus whom she bore to the immortals very realm, her heart fell upon the Trojan Prince Tithonos who freely reciprocated her love. Eos and Tithonos existed in happy union, bearing two children, Emathion and Memnon.

As time passed and she watched him age, Eos became distraught at the thought of losing him. She went to Zeus, Mightiest of the Olympians, who had his share of unquenchable passion for mortals, and petitioned him to grant her Tithonos immortality. Zeus, being moved by love, granted her this wish.

As further time passed, Eos noted that Tithonos was continuing to age. He grew older with the years, and she returned to Zeus in confusion. Zeus revealed to Eos her folly: Eos had not asked for eternal youth for her love, only immortality. With great sadness, Eos watched her love grow weaker, older and miserable. One day, when even his voice had disappeared into the void and Tithonos was nothing more than a shadow of a man, Eos used her love and her magic to turn him into a grasshopper. In this form, Tithonos maintained his most shining qualities, a carefree wit, a graceful gait and a lilting song that even still elicits peace, patience, and solidarity in reflection of his patient and eternal love for Eos, Goddess of the Dawn.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New tales of Old Gods...

I've been writing quite a bit recently, but I've not been much inclined to share. My current works have all been fictional, but they are defintiely based on old myths with old Gods as main characers. I am not entirely sure these works will be accepted well among the Neopagans likely to read my work (all four of them), since the stories are not actual "re-tellings" of the myths. I love it when folks read a story and say, "nice, but that's not how the story goes." I know. I made it up. It's fiction. UPG, if you will.
 
So, for your enjoyment, I present the following tale based on an old myth, starring some old Gods that I admire. It's not a re-telling, but I think it turned out just fine.
 
Boann and the Well of Segais
 
Boann and Bebhionn were as opposite as day and night, one as bright and vibrant as the sun, the other as deep and sensual as the night, both visions to behold. The sisters were always very close—and sometimes prone to mischief in their curiosity, for both were amazed by all manner of wonderful things in the world.
 
At the age of marriage, the sisters were courted by several men. Bebhionn was happily wed to Aed Alainn. The lovely Boann had caught the eye of the Keeper of the Sacred Well of Segais, Nechtain. Now, the Well of Segais was said to be full of the Waters of Inspiration and Knowledge, and only Nechtain and his three cupbearers were permitted to approach the Well, for one unbidden glance into the Well would, in the very least, strike the violator blind. While taking a walk one afternoon, Nechtain's carefree path lead the two within distant eyesight of the Well. As beautiful as it was ancient, the Well was surrounded by nine hazel trees, heavily laden with the largest hazelnuts Boann had ever seen! When Nechtain realized where he had taken them, he hastily turned, and they began to walk away, but Boann's thoughts remained on the Well.
 
For days, Boann dreamt of the Well and imagined all manner of life and gifts teeming within. She was driven to discuss her preoccupation with Bebhionn, whose eyes widened with wonder as Boann wove her imagery round her sister. Bebhionn, being happily married and uninterested in disfigurement, was easily swayed away from the curiosity that consumed her sister, and she left Boann with a warning to avert her thoughts as well. 
 
One day while picking berries for a pie, Boann found herself once more within eyesight of the Well. She waited. She saw no one. She waited a bit more. Still, she saw none. She waited yet longer, and suddenly her stillness was broken when a splash echoed toward her from within the Well. And then another. She took a few careful steps toward the Well, and before her eyes, she saw a great salmon jump out of the Waters, shimmering in rainbows of sunlight, to eat of the hazelnuts on the trees surrounding the Well. At the sight of the magnificent fish, Boann forgot all about the warnings and dangers of the Well. She only wanted to see, for so inspiring were the Waters within that the mere echo of their splashing enraptured the mind.
 
Boann approached the Well with an awe and innocence that belied her age. She cautiously placed a hand on the side of the Well and peered in. In a moment's instance, the Well began to shake and crack, and the Waters began to rise up in a great wave. Boann let out a shocked cry as the Waters whipped round, slashing her arm. Boann began to run. Behind her, the Waters continued to spirale round and round and finally slammed through the sides of the structure, shattering the walls of stone. Freed from their Ancient tomb, the Waters began to chase after Boann, erasing her footprints almost as fast as she made them.
 
On and on, across the breadth of the Island, the Waters pursued her until she finally leapt into the Sea, where she was caught by a surprised Manannan mac Lir. The Waters were calmly assumed into the Sea where they disappeared into the inky depths with a final, silvery flicker. Manannan, much surprised by the sudden disruption in his day looked toward the path where Boann had come, taking in the breathtaking view of a silvery river, almost laughing in its freedom and sparkling freely in the sunshine.
 
And so it was that Boann freed the Waters of Knowledge and Inspiration and brought them to the land.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Training for what?

I think I figured out where my misunderstanding lies with the bardic
guild study program. Since I've joined ADF, many people have compared
the upper (post-DP) programs to college programs. The BGSP is marketed
as a bardic training program, and in my head, I made quite the
connection between the two. Because I based my projected experience in
the guild off this comparison and how it works in the mundane world, I
think what I have been expecting post-BGSP is a job. Yep. If I am
going to "college," then there should be a job after I "graduate." I'm
not saying everyone who goes through the program has to apply for the
job. Just that it would be nice for there to BE a job available for
those of us in the market. Otherwise, I end up like one of those folks
from Half-Price Books with a PhD in Anthropology.

In other words: Please stop comparing the training programs to
college. It sets up inaccurate expectations. Kthanxbye.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Delos Gaia Rite to Hades and Persephone

Today, I attended a very small ritual dedicated to Hades and Persephone as Lord and Lady of the Underworld. The Priestess set up a tent in the back yard close to the Nemeton in which she had created a dais and feasting table for the King and Queen. During the rite, those of us who felt called went into the shrine room and have a private audience with them. Being a devotee of Persephone, there was no question about my willingness to meet her in this way.

I immediately noted how quiet the "room" was compared to the roaring wind and fire outside. There were dishes and goblets set at each place surrounded by crystal skulls, tea lights and fresh flowers. There was a single bowl of pomegranate seeds placed on the side of the table, the very seeds that I had brought, taken from the fruit by my very hands. The chairs were draped with furs, and the lingering smell of incense served to sweep the mind away.

I focused my intentions on Persephone and called out to her in my heart. I waited until I felt myself dissociate, and then I spoke her name. The following is the UPG I experienced, both unexpected and encouraging.

"Persephone," I spoke aloud, kneeling before her shrine. "My Queen, I honor Thee."

"Tell me, young one, what have you learned of the seed?" Persephone asked of me. I was not expecting to be questioned.

"The seed. The seed possesses the energy of transformation, of things yet to come; it is the embodiment of potential yet unfulfilled," I answered.

"What does this mean?" She asked.

"Energy of transformation is the driving force behind internal change. The seed within holds the tools one needs to do the internal work during the quiet times," I answered again.

"And?" She asked further.

"As long as the seed remains within, there will be further growth and change," I answered.

"What have I shown you?" She asked. I answered. "Good," she said. "Now, what do you offer?" My eyes were drawn to the bowl of seeds.

I took up three seeds in my hand. They were wet and cool and full of mystery at that moment. I ran through the last several years of lessons and deeper truths and was caught up in the memory of a lesson on cycles, death and rest, rebirth and inspiration, and I spoke to her of a continued vow to follow these cycles as they present themselves in my life. I spoke of quiet times to turn inward and vocal times to share my learning, and as I opened myself to my fullest to offer all that I am to her, I ingested the seeds.

After a moment of almost dizzying stillness, I began to return to a normative state. I had not spoken with Hades, but I never do. I am not his, and this is how things are between us. I thanked them both, for I do know him to be attentive and quite deserving of my respect, and I took my leave of the Lord and Lady of the Underworld.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Gift of Hope

Those of you on my facebook may have seen the announcement posted yesterday about my Timmy getting into the REACH program. It is an intense behavioral intervention program for autistic children that involves very small group dynamics, personalized instruction, OT/PT, speech therapy and immersion therapy involving playtime with normally progressing children in the school.  Timmy's room will have six children,and two teachers, and the specialists will EACH see him almost daily.

I almost fell on the floor when they called to tell me he got in, but I was literally reduced to tears during the three-hour parent session today as my heart filled with joy. His OT and speech therapists from his current school were in attendance, as well as the new teacher and the phsychologista for the school and the district. They gave us the results of his most recent ETR, spending 45 minutes telling us the progress he has made. They showed me a paper on which he has written his name from memory. He folded it in half. One side said, "Timothy" and the other said, "Tim Tim" (that's what Jessie calls him). 

The district psychologist referred to Timmy as a high functioning autistic, and from that moment on, my heart was overflowing. "High functioning" is what you want to hear when you are told your child has autism, because those two words denote a syndrome that can be compensated with behavioral training. In other words, it means Timmy has a chance of getting better.

I was assured Timmy would learn to speak and to use the potty very soon among many things I never thought he would be able to do--let alone by the end of Kindergarden! When the other five kids came into the room (we ran a little over with our tour of the room), I was surprised to note how similar they look to my Timmy. Not knowing any other autistic children personally, I didn't know they had a characteristic look about them. A little boy walked right up to me and said, "hi." He even sounded like Timmy. Then, I noted that these kids, these five-year-old kids, were reading their schedules and starting their day while I talked to the teacher. Yes, reading. She told me Timmy will do all of these things, too. And more.

I walked into that school with my guard up waiting for a list of things he cannot do to be read aloud to a room full of strangers, but I walked out with a handful of resources that I've been asking for for three years and a heart full of hope.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Liturgy Practicum and Eldest Minion

I have just begun working on the Liturgy Practicum for the ADF Initiate study program. This course is designed to help you create a working home practice for your spiritual work. I haven't been working on much of anything recently, and I am looking forward to the motivation of journal requirements to light a fire under my spiritual, uh, self.

My oldest son is going to be evaluated for Asperger's Syndrome. I think this is one of the best things that has ever happened to him. He was surprisingly animated when I told him he may have a diagnosable condition. I think that having an explanation for why things are so different for him is more appealing than I realized. He has been very happy since I talked to him about it, and he even wants to change schools, if he can. Eldest minion is growing into such a wonderful person. I do hope this will open some doors for him. He's been knocking on them for so long....

All is quiet here on the home front, otherwise. Three more weeks of clinicals. November 12, here I come!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Loss and Love

The fact that I don't feel like writing says to me that I should. I've been avoiding a post because I don't want to be a downer all the time. I have been feeling almost overwhelmingly sad from time to time recently. I really miss my Mother-in-law, and there are a lot of reminders popping up. I talked with my son about when he was an infant. Oh, Gods, how she loved him! We told stories and laughed and then I excused myself casually to go cry alone. And cry I did. I've not cried like that in ages, and I am starting to think that I let out a lot of pent-up emotional garbage that I've been carrying around. So many people I know have experienced loss recently, and it tears my heart to see them grieve. I pray for healing for all of you.

I've learned a lot of things about relationships, what works, what doesn't, how important little things can be, etc, but the most important lesson I have learned is in regards to appreciation. We as a species are prone to taking things, particularly people for granted. Why is it that love, much like life, is only treasured when it is fragile? When it's strong, we assume it will always be there and go about our days. There is worth in more than just those things that are delicate. Maybe what is weak right now is me, and therefore everything seems much richer and more vibrant by comparison. Whatever the reason, I am spending the day being grateful for the wonderful gifts--things and more importantly, people--that are in my life.

Don't worry. I am doing just fine. I'm just missing some folks who are/were very important to me. Sometimes, there's a hole, and it takes a while to fill it with all my favorite memories.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Day Full of Joy!

I attended my first pagan wedding today, and the newly weds are both dear friends of mine. It was absolutely beautiful. Seeing a wedding done in a pagan format and calling on the Kindred that I honor in my personal life during the ceremony made the expereince far more powerful and meaningful than I anticipated. I am grateful to have shared in this special moment with them.

The icing on the cake is that the bride walked down the aisle to a piece of music that I wrote! Yesterday, when we were setting up and doing the rehearsal, I was introduced to three people as "The Composer." I still don't quite feel like I deserve that title, but I am realizing that to most people, that is probably what I am. In my head I have a very strict vision of a composer, like Beethoven and Mozart. Perhaps it is time to widen my frame of vision, yes?

It was a little stressful with more things than I wanted being done "on the fly" (I am way too organized for that, lol), and I had some personal (and mostly unrelated) tension I was burying while I was there. As we were driving away after a full day of love, laughter and fellowship, I asked my dear friend to pull some runes for me: Othala, Ancestral Inheritance (read: learning from the past); Wunjo, Joy; and Ansuz, Communication. I feel pretty good about that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On comfort, or rather, the lack thereof

I wanted to be able to write about a wonderful ritual to honor Persephone as she returns to her throne. But I am ashamed to say I didn't perform one. I've been avoiding a lot of things recently, and it has finally spilled over into my spiritual life.

 

I found myself listening to the Christian music station in the car yesterday morning, and that is when it hit me. My problem is not that my trials and such are too big. My problem is that I have not found an avenue for comfort along the pagan pathways. My support network is barely supportive, and the last several times I went to the Gods, I opened the gates and found myself with nothing to say. I am empty, and I have nothing left to give. As I sat there alone in my car listening to the immense amount of love and comfort the Christians receive from their God, my eyes welled up with tears, because there isn't anything like this in my life anymore.

 

I know not all things from my early religious days will be replaced by some wonderful and perfect, pagan-themed equivalent. However, much like prayer, I don't see any reason why comfort should belong to the Christians alone. Prayer is for all Gods. Comfort is for all people. Some pagans call it "healing" or "energy work" or "positive vibes," but I miss the notion of pure, unadulterated emotional comfort.

 

I went in search (on the internet) of music, because I relate almost all things to music, and I found a lot of good songs! I found songs about many of the Deities I honor, songs about nature, songs about the Earth Mother, songs about general themes of Neopagan High Days, songs of humor, songs of worship and praise, and musical versions of more myths than I can count—but there is a big whole where songs about the love the Gods offer back to us are supposed to be.

 

Since I cannot find an equivalent for comfort music, I suppose I will have to continue to write. I have written a song or two about calling on the Gods for aid in our times of need, but my aim this time is not necessarily for divine help or to remind folks that prayer is an option. My aim is to show that Our Gods can offer us love and comfort, too. It might seem like a "Christian carry-over" as I have been accused many times, but we all have to walk our own paths and make our own decisions regarding our relationships with Deity. For me, my relationships are full of love and devotion. Not many pagans admit to loving their Gods, but I love mine. I make no apologies for that. And I fully believe they love me in return. I make no apologies for that, either.

 

I live in a World Full of Gods, and many Gods offer many helping hands.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Equinox with the Cranes

 Three Cranes Grove held our Anniversary rite today, celebrating our 9th Fall Equinox and closing our 8th full year as a Grove. The Deity of the Occasion was Teutates, the God of the Tribe, and I had the honor of serving as Bard for this rite. I called to Ogmios as Bardic Deity for inspiration, and the words that came out were not close to what I had intended. His presence was with me throughout the rite, and I am really enjoying working with him. It's nice to be developing a relationship with a Celtic Deity. I've previously been rather distant from the hearth cutlure in general.


Overall, the rite went very well. It was a little distracting to have the kids with me, and I am eternally grateful to some of my grovemates for keeping Timmy entertained and safe while I served the folk. Omens were good, and a lot of folks left with very positive feelings. We even got a couple of emails from some folks who are not currently members but wanted to thank us for the experience.

I didn't get much from the rite personally, but I never do when I have my kids with me. I can't (and shouldn't) allow myself to dissociate when I am in charge of them. I am having a hard time with this, because I know it is good for them to be there even though they don't really participate, but in addition to leaving without "getting my ritual fix," I end up "being at work," and I always need help, which kinda bothers me.

Anyway, it was a good rite, and I am pleased with the role I played in it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And so we begin...

Clinicals, that is. My rotation starts tomorrow. Well, today. I am in the middle of a twelve-hour shift after which I will go downstairs to the Toxicology lab for an additional eight hours of free work--a whopping total of twenty hours at work. And I get to do this every other Tuesday for the next ten weeks! The difficulties that come with lack of sleep will be far worth it come December when this is all behind me. I will finish up just before Thanksgiving, leaving me a rather nice and lengthy holiday break.

I have already begun the countdown to March, when I graduate in absentia from the University of Cincinnati. If I can just make it through clinicals, haha.

Monday, August 23, 2010

One Girl's Festival Review.

Upon returning from this year's Summerland Festival, I must say that I am rather changed internally. Leading up to the festival with preparation for Isaac Bonewits' Memorial Service, I should have known I was in for something big. Not only did I have the privilege of joining the Bards for the Memorial, but also of  serving as Bard for the Sumble and for the Unity Rite--as well as a performance spot on Saturday night! I was one tired Bard on Sunday morning, but I still had enough left in me to join in the singing while we made breakfast for the rest of the camp.
 
Summerland 2010 will henceforth be known as the festival at which I began to internally believe that I am a functional ADF Bard. 

I spoke with several folks who were trying to figure out why I am so "overly modest" in terms of musical ability. After much thought, I think that there are several reasons for this. Primarily, I have always been a comparatively lower-caliber musician among my musician friends. Many of them are semi-professionals who play for pay. I tend to look forward to where I am going without recognizing how far I have come. I look to them for motivation when the learning gets hard, but I've ignored the hindsight that shows that I have already learned a lot. I've never really believed in myself, and that held me back quite a bit. I realize there are still a bazillion people better than me, but that doesn't mean I don't have any talent of worth. It just means I have more to learn, and I always will.

Another factor is my innate desire to play and sing and to try to involve others in that activity. The sheer joy I receive when I hear other people singing a song that I wrote is almost indescribable. It's previously never felt like work, and I've always viewed performing at a 3CG function as them allowing me to play because of the depth of my desire to do it. It feels like them providing a service to me in the form of an outlet. The Cranekin are my family, and they love me and want me to be happy. They are uplifting and supportive, and I think the word "family" has made me infer that they support me and compliment me because it's their job. At Summerland, I was asked to "serve as a Bard" in a way that made me have an epiphany (ha). There is a big internal difference between feeling like you are being placated and feeling like you are being called on for service. Seamus reminded me that receiving joy from the work doesn't mean it is not service. What more reward can there be than enjoying the work? (I can almost hear half of you shaking your heads and saying, "It's about time!")

Much like at Dublin Irish Festival, I was pushed HARD as a Bard. I'm not used to it being so much work, and in some sick and masochistic way, the fact that it wasn't easy made me enjoy it even more. When someone says, "Do this right now," and I find that I actually can, my heart fills enough to make my eyes water. I have much to process from this festival. There will be more posting!
 
There were many opportunities for conversation and much revelry to be had around the nightly fire circles. One of my favorite memories is from Friday evening. You see, after the Sumble, there were several drummers around the fire, but no Ian to lead them. I asked where he was, and I was told he was down at the dining hall where the keg was. We devised a plan, and a minion and I took the wagon to the dining hall where I pronounced: "I have come to collect the keg. Ian, if you are not at the drum circle in ten minutes, I'm bringing the wagon back for you!" When we put the keg on the wagon, Rb jumped in and tried to save it!  Eventually, as was likely to happen, all the Drunken Druids followed me, as though I were the Pied Piper. Much hilarity ensued, and a good time was had by all.
 
We Ordained a Chaos Magician. It rained from the moment he was called forth to the moment the stole was placed around his neck, after which the sun began to shine. Since I was asked to sing for him in the middle of all of that, I totally get to say that I was singing in the rain. This is one of those incidents that won't be forgotten for many, many years to come.
 
Saturday evening, which was rough for everyone, I forgot the lyrics to a song I spent most of the weekend teaching to other folks so they could sing with me from the audience. I asked if anyone knew the next line, and then all of a sudden, one "Rev Enchantingly Direct" gave me a giant kiss on the lips. I asked "How the heck is that supposed to help me focus?" He replied quite simply, "It helped me!" Priceless and very funny. Bardic Minion came forward with sheet music, because I am that kind of Bard. Song was played, roughly, but I made it through. I would feel bad had Awen not had several mishaps during their set as well. Did I mention we Ordained A Chaos Magician?! So much fun, and so many good memories!
 
Finally, there were folks who were either not present that were greatly missed or present for too short a time for me. I carry you in my heart.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So much to do, so little time!

As you probably are aware by now, our beloved "Esteamed Flounder" of Ar nDraoicht Fein, Isaac Bonewits has passed. A Memorial service is being held in his honor this Thursday at the Summerlands Festival in Ohio.
 
What you probably do not know is that *I* have been asked to sing with the Bards for the event! The event will be professionally recorded by a hired videographer, and I have been asked to sing the song Isaac himself requested be performed at his service with Liafal and Emerald, our Bard Laureates, past and present. I am surprised and humbled and awed and inspired and about thirty other things right now.
 
But, I am also very busy. I need to learn all of the songs to performance level, one of which is in Irish Gaelic, by Thursday. I think more than anything that I am excited by this project. I am not often called upon for much as an ADF Bard, and this is by far the biggest challenge that I have faced. I am pleased to say with confidence that I am rising to the occasion. I will, of course, post links to the YouTube videos that will be up very soon after the actual service!
 
In similar news, we had to cancel the Bardic Night at Summerlands due to the Memorial service, but the festival organizer has emailed me and the Bard Laureates listed above to ask us to prepare and perform a short set each before the main entertainment on Saturday!
 
May the Kindred see the joy, love and gratitude I have in my heart for these wonderful gifts and blessings. Hail!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lughnasadh at the Dublin Irish Festival

On the bright, sunny morning of August 8, 2010, I had the privilege of participating in the first (annual?) Three Cranes Grove, ADF, rite to be held at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, OH: The second largest Irish festival in the world. Weeks of careful planning and practice led up to a very fine performance by all celebrants.

We began with music, which was wonderful for this bard. I played several original pieces during what I presumed to be a soundcheck (ha). It started out that way, but the Sound Engineer, Tom, was enjoying the music, so he never stopped me. It was a treat for me to play pagan songs for a mixed crowd, sending strength and beginning the threads of the community bond for this ritual between pagans and non-pagans alike. What a beautiful way to begin a service! (I think we should start including more "prelude" bardic pieces in our future rites. It would be a great way to introduce more music to the folk, as well.)

Two Powers attunement was effective and well delivered. Our Deity of the occasion was Tailtiu, and Chronarchy told her story as our main offering, which went very well.

The Ogham Omens were as follows:

What Blessing do the Ancestors have for us? Duir, The Oak....Strength
What Blessings do the Spirits of Nature Have for us? Oir ,The Spindle Tree.... The Blessings of our home and Hearth

What Blessings do the Shining Ones have for us? Ur, The Heather The Blessings of the Homelands

Taken together these might suggest "The Kindreds remind us that true and lasting Strength flows from the sacred Home, its Hearth and from the sacred soil of our Homelands"

Shawneen/Grove Seer
2010 Dublin Irish Festival Lughnasadh

In all, there were at least 327 participants counted, making this our largest rite by far. Samhain 2009, our first rite with 100+ participants is now a distant second. My, how far we have come in the short time that I have been a Crane!

On a personal level, this was the first rite that I really had to "work." We have a large grove, and the parts are usually spread out over a large number of people with the magical acts performed by the Priests and Elders of the Grove. As Grove Bard, I probably participate on a similar level to a Grove Elder, but the chanting work done is not typically very taxing, and the songs are pretty spread out. For this rite, however, I began with several songs designed (by me) to showcase my voice (read: pagan power ballads). Amidst the chaos of the greater festival, I put into practice during this rite those words I keep repeating, that music is a ritual device--and I used it to it's full potential. By the time we were through the chant for the waters about three times, I felt the draining effect of long-term expending. I was grateful for my training then, because I was able to send my roots down and draw deeply from the Earth to carry me through the next 14 times through. It was awesome. I feel very proud of myself for finally "getting it," this whole business of allowing the Kindred to work through me in a magical act without losing control. I don't know if I can do it without the music, but this is a big step for me.

I crested the 24-hour mark sans sleep toward the end of the rite. Needless to say when I arrived home, I kissed my kids and went straight to a peaceful sleep. And I woke up full.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Finding Normalcy

The past two weeks have rocked my world beyond recognition. Losing my Mother-in-law is so alien to me that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she is gone. I was alone with her when she passed. She woke up for a bit, and I was able to talk to her, though she was beyond speech herself. She passed at 3:30 am on July 31, her deceased brother's birthday. 

We had a memorial service rather than a funeral. She was so sick and had retained so much water that it was best to have her cremated and hold a service without showcasing her body. It was a short but kind service. The pastor was Lutheran, and I was able to use the moment to show my husband the importance of tolerance. Her family is very Christian, and when he began the "Our Father" prayer, the room filled with voices joining in the words, including my own. He asked me later why I said that prayer with them, and I was able to talk to him about tolerance and respect. No, I am not a Christian, but Debbie was, and her family still is. In honor of her memory, I have no problem offering a prayer to her God for safe journey and happiness in the afterlife, for those are the intentions I sent behind my words. Prayer is powerful and personal. Besides, right then was not the time to make a case for paganism. I think he understands better now, but we'll see what the future holds. 

I received many thanks from folks I didn't even know for being with her when she died. I found that to be awkward, and I wasn't sure how to respond. Somehow, "you're welcome" just didn't seem right, you know? I am pleased to say that although I was at a loss for words in person and in prayer, the Kindred were behind me, beside me and all around me through this difficult time. 

I am healing well, though there is so much more to work through, and I am rather drained. It's difficult to be the one everyone leans on--especially when you are hurting inside yourself. My own mother managed to kick me while I was down without even trying, and I am making peace with that, as well. I definitely feel different, like everything is in flux. I'm starting to wonder if it's been this way all along, and I've been trying to force constancy into a constantly changing world. Gaia beneath me is alone unchanged. I am grateful for her strength now more than ever.

I will see my Grove tonight for this first time since the fourth of July. I'm looking forward to hugs and love and group prayer. This empty girl is in desperate need of being filled up once more. 


Monday, July 26, 2010

How do you measure the worth of a person?

By the legacy they leave behind.

My Mother-in-law was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she will likely remain until she passes later this week, although she may opt to spend her final few days at home, if she can make any decisions at this point. She has been ill for quite some time and deteriorating, though this is a rather sudden change.

I may not be able to speak with her again before she is gone. I was with her when they called the squad, and I sat with her until they came to take her away. During that time, through her labored breathing, she told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to her son. She told me that if she could have hand-picked her daughter, it would be me. She told me she loved me and that I was a beautiful person. She told me the world was a better place because I was in it. I didn't get a chance to tell her more than "I love you" before they took her away.

With more time, I would have told her that I owe a lot of who I am today to her. She is the one who taught me how to be an adult. I learned a lot of what I know about cooking and motherhood and responsibility from her. She is so much more than a Mother-in-law. She is a role model, even though she's far from perfect. She is a friend, even though I am married to her son. She is a sister, and I love her like the other half of myself.

I saw my Father-in-law cry several times this week. He is the best and strongest man I know. This is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life, and I feel a heavy dose of reality coming on. The last thing she told me was that I am the matriarch of the family now. Those are shoes I am neither ready nor qualified to fill, but I will gladly walk awkwardly in them until they fit--for her and for my family.

Ironically, today's rune was Tiwaz, a rune that speaks of right action, justice and a willingness to self-sacrifice. Coupled with the resurgence in my relationship with Athena, I feel confident that we will make it through just fine. We are not alone, and that is a great comfort to me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Explaining Paganism to the Non-pagan Spouse

You know, I sometimes marvel at the things about me that surprise my husband. He's known me since we were twelve, and I have always been religious.Yet, the depths of my paganism seem to be a source of unexplainable perplexities for him. I suppose I can understand how it is very different to be with someone who belongs to a group rather than to a solitary, but the idea that me being religious surprising is, well, surprising. More importantly, I think it is a testament to have far we have grown apart.
 
I have recently been reading quite a bit of poetry. A friend is finishing his second book of poetry, and I have been going over a few things with him (that, and he is a fabulous writer, so it's been more of a joy than anything to read his work). A lot of the poems deal with longing and love, stirring my romantic and dreamy side. I asked J on a whim the other day to write me a poem. He, of course, laughed and said, "No." I countered with a request for a letter. He said no to this, too, but then set his alarm for four am so that he could send me an email while I was at work. It was cute and very sweet. :)
 
I sent him a reply, and he didn't respond. When he got home from work that evening, he told me that the email I sent him absolutely floored him. he said that was the most I've talked to him in months and that he had no idea I felt the way I do about our relationship. You see, I assumed with all the fighting about me going to Grove events and whatnot that he may have some negative feelings about us ending up here, because I'm pretty sure he never anticipated a conversation about raising our children in any religion, let alone paganism. And honestly, he's just hard to talk to about things we don't have in common, which is quite a bit nowadays.
 
Fast forward to the weekend, and J goes on a camping trip for four days. I found out this evening that they had a pretty serious conversation about me being a pagan. Some of them asked him if I really believed all this stuff or if I was in it for the fun of it. They asked if he thought I would ever "grow out of it." I know how awful that may sound to those of you who don't know them, but I can tell you these people care about me and are genuinely trying to understand, but with all the fighting between J and me surrounding it, they've not had the guts to ask.
 
So, I am sitting here trying to compose a letter to J and a couple of his/our friends about why I do what I do. I've decided to draft it and then sit on it for a day before editing. There is a good chance this will make things worse, not better, when he realizes I DO believe all of this. I'll post it when it's done.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In which Eldest minion realizes he is not too old for Happy Meals.

Since Daddy is out of town, the Minions decide that they can shmooze mom into McDonald's, which, of course, they can. Patrick, being the Eldest minion, and thus, above Happy Meals, orders fries and chicken nuggets--and a frozen treat, shaken, not stirred. As it turns out, this week's Happy Meal toy is a dragon from The Last Airbender, Eldest minion's favorite cartoon.

Girl minion and Baby minion happily assemble their dragons and munch their fries in a cadence that seems to hypnotize the Eldest minion, now drooling over the dragon.

When we arrive at home, it is not long before Baby minion is onto other things, as Baby minions are prone to do, and Eldest minion seizes the opportunity to snatch up the dragon in one fell swoop! So happy, Eldest minion!

Enter Girl minion, the bane of Eldest minion's existence.

At first, as Girl minion is prone to do, she plays well with Eldest minion. All of a sudden she announces, "Okay! Birthday party time!"

Eldest minion replies, "These are dragons, fierce, fire-breathing dragons. They don't have birthday parties."

Girl minion hugs her dragon defensively, as though his words have the power to maim. "Well, my dragon is a girl, and it's her birthday. Your dragon is going to be very upset if she doesn't get to come to my dragon's party."

Eldest minion, "My dragon is not a girl!"

Girl minion, "Yes she is! She's twins with my dragon, and you are going to make her cry!"

Eldest minion, "If I play birthday party with you, will you go away?"

Girl minion pauses, a reflective and yet somehow evil look in her eye. "Alright, I'll let you play birthday party with me, but there is no fighting or fire-breathing during the party, because that is not nice."

Eldest minion grumbles and replies, "Alright. What do I do?"

And Eldest and Girl minion play birthday party for five minutes.

Girl minion declares the birthday party is over, and Eldest minion is about to rejoice when all of a sudden, out of nowhere comes Baby minion. Baby minion looks deeply into the eyes of both Eldest and Girl minion, picks up both dragons and runs away.

Girl minion shrugs, having already had her fun, but Eldest minion is not yet sated of his desire for the dragon. Eldest minion asks Baby minion if he can play, but Baby minion just turns his back on him and continues to play alone, as Baby minions are prone to do.

Girl minion walks over to Baby minion and asks for her dragon back, which, of course, Baby minion happily gives her. She then walks over to Eldest minion and says, "If you play Candyland with me, I'll let you play with my dragon."

Eldest minion replies, "Yes. But only one game, and you can't cheat."

Girl minion victoriously begins setting up Candyland, during which she states, "I'll cheat if you want the dragon."

Eldest minion looks at me and sighs. In his best Charlie Brown, he says simply, "I hate my life."

Mother does her best to refrain from saying, "I told you so," and gives Eldest minion a supportive smile. Seems eleven is not too old for Happy Meals...not just yet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tarot Woes

Every so often, I do a personal tarot card reading for myself. Since it had been a while, I did a full Celtic Cross for general information a couple days ago. Heh, I probably should have started with a question, because that's what I ended up with: a whole lotta questions!
 
I drew several cards that had to do with success and power, triumph after struggle, etc. The problem is, I am not currently fighting any epic battles. There isn't any win-lose situation I am involved in right now, so I'm not sure what exactly I am supposed to win. I got a good laugh when I pulled the Chariot for the Near Future position (6) and then asked "victory in what" and pulled the eight of cups, which states that there is success followed by a decline in interest. Apparently, I win, but then no one cares. Maybe more Bardic Guild circles finally getting approved after we elect a new Preceptor? No one cares about that but me (ha, me and my "Druid Merit Badges").
 
To make matters more complex in true Sagittarian fashion, I did another Celtic Cross today to try to sort out the message. The first card drawn this time was exactly the same as last time: the Two of Wands, only this time it was crossed with the Two of Cups instead of the Eight of Disks. In the end, however, this reading seemed to be more related to ADF/spiritual stuff, which helps with some of the "power" references, but there is a lot of reference to love and happiness and victory. It almost looks like a relationship profile, but Jeremy and I have been fine. No struggle there, so nothing to "win." Secret admirer, perhaps? lol
 
I emailed the only person I could who still uses tarot cards regularly, and I even sent them on to a poor unsuspecting soul who may be able to at least decipher a message from a third-party perspective. Oghams, tarot, safe difference, right? (haha, again) AG seems to think there is an underlying message. Great. I love mixed messages from the Gods.
 
This is why I switched to Runes, but I am not happy with them either. I asked a simple question today, and what rune did I pull? Perthro. The Dice Cup. Casting Lots. I swear, if I had one, I probably would have pulled the blank rune, which would have given me just as much information.
 
Divination Fail!
 
Luckily, I don't really need information. Overall, I am doing rather well. :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mentoring and Reviewing and Other Druidy Things

Well, I've been mentoring dedicant students for a year now, and I've officially been signed up as a reviewer as of (probably) tomorrow. I am really looking forward to the review process. After completing so many GSP courses, I have a deep appreciation for the work of our reviewers, and our GSP reviewers also act as mentors, since there is no mentoring program beyond the dedicant level. It is my hopes to one day be a preceptor, preferably for the Bardic Guild, but I have a lot of work of my own I need to finish first. I've always been drawn to teaching, and in fact, I have been a peer tutor in one capacity or another for most of my life. It is almost like finding an old friend to be moving back toward this role.
 
I spoke with Persephone today, a nice change. I've been so preoccupied with time-dependent work, that I haven't had a chance to just say hi and tell her how much I appreciate her. (Bad Devotee! Bad!) We talked about some big things, and she showed me a few things that are tying together some seemingly unrelated parts of my Druidry rather nicely. Silly me, didn't I know everything is interconnected?
 
In other Druidy news, I have been parusing the Reformed Druids of Gaia network, and there are many interesting tidbits among the hilarity on those pages! I may sign up with them and go through their first level training as a means of Celtic immersion. Although, I am not very impressed with their suggested reading list. Some of those authors are known for shotty scholarship at best, and many of the books are fiction. Alas, I am so decidedly Greek and almost as Norse that I find even the most basic parts of Celtia to be extremely rudimentary in my head, and I am going to need the information more and more as I delve deeper into the study of Our Druidry.
 
Overall, I am doing well. Some days the road ahead looks really long, but at least the scenery is beautiful and awe-inspiring! I am happy to report that the song I wrote did the trick in getting out all of those pent-up emotions that were serving as nothing but a blockage. I've already written a couple of poems, one of which is going in the next edition of Crane Chatter. It's for Odin. We're even now.
 
 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I stand inspired...

I Paint You in Dark Stars
A poem by Phagos
 
I paint you in dark stars
Against a background
As deep as imagination

Shooting stars
Constellations move
Indicative of the rising
And falling cycles in
Our lives

I reach for you
Next to me,
Across the way,
Over the miles
Which speak of
Distance
And
Intimacy

My hands,
Like nebula,
Lost amongst the
Deepest space
Reach out
To find you

First, in perimeter
We meet
Next, in proximity
We turn
Then, in close contact
We merge
All beneath the
Darkest cover of night

I paint you in dark stars
The brush, my hand
The canvas, your soul
As I move your hair
Off to one side
The planets turn
To watch time passing
The comets flame
As one heart beating
The planetary rings
Entwine us
Enshrine us
Beneath this far-reaching sky

You rise against
A backdrop
Of sparkling stars
They edge your
Outline,
Mesmerisingly so

I see you there
On the horizon
I lift myself up
Like a shroud in
The aether
And float through the
Night sky to
Where you are awaiting
I meet you out there
In the infinite
Embrace

I paint you in dark stars
My easel is a song
Singing
"Tonight
"Tonight
"I will be holding
"You soon"

The hills are in shadow
The sky dark as coal
As the two move together
Amongst the myriad stars
The distant lights flare
Overhead
As they glisten
I paint you in dark stars
I paint you with me

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brief Summer Solstice Musings

For Summer Solstice, our Grove held a Vedic-themed rite in honor of Savitr, the God of Solar Energy. It was a very moving experience, and I plan to continue to honor Savitr as a God of healing. I've not made a lot of connections with Healing Deities, so this is an exciting prospect.

To make comparison between the Hellenic and the Vedic, if I may: Savitr, a God of action and movement, would be comparable to Apollon whereas Surya, who IS the sun, would be better paralelled with Helios. I find it interesting that I have developed such a connection with Savitr when Apollon and I are best described as acquainted but distant. Helios and I, on the other hand, are old friends.

I will be honoring Helios in my solitary rite this week, and I am really looking forward to it. There is just something special about calling to a Deity at their height of power in the year. I will call on Eos to serve as gatekeeper once more, and I have missed her so! (I began working with Hekate this past fall after the Maiden's descent as a gatekeeper and guide. She has been a wonderful comfort and confidante through the dark times.) Eos is a Goddess who has experienced much love and much loss, and as Helios' sister, the pairing in a ritual has thus far been powerful for me.

In honor of Summer Solstice, I will end with a poem:

Eos, Goddess of the Dawn

Early morning is my time.
I offer warmth and hope
and light to dispel the darkness.
I am the opener of ways.
My rosy fingers creep through
and caress back Nyx herself
to make way for the sun once more.

As my brother readies for his ascent,
and his fiery horses are keen to fly
to bring the full light of day to the world,
I awaken the physical being of man
and the spirit that dwells within him
to the glories of a new day.

I am the Goddess of the Dawn.
I am the opener of ways.
I am Eos, illuminator of the darkness.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Won't Cry for You-Revised: Songs evolve, you know.

I was not surprised to find that it was raining today,
to find tears of rain streaming down the window pane.
My pillow, yet dry from the tears that I won't shed for you.
Sufficiently buried memories locked away as I wait.

I won't cry for you.
I won't wallow and weep.
I'll live my life as though the strife is not looming,
And wait for you, I'll wait for you, I wait.

It's a blessing that this numbness has descended.
Release from grief is hidden from my view.
No words to bring me comfort can you offer me.
No words to soothe your spirit can I offer back to you.

And I won't cry for you
as I hide your name in my heart.
The memories, yet precious, don't seem worth it
if the cost forever keeps us apart.

Unshed tears
Unshared words
Realized fears
Seperate worlds

The silence stills my sorrow as a sedative
where words would serve to fan the flame of hurt.
It might appear I've taken you for granted,
but outward "hurts" aren't the units used for measuring our worth.

I won't cry for you.
My hope is yet too great.
Time is all I have that I can give to you.
Your worth is great, so patiently I wait.

I was not surprised to find that it was raining today,
but not inside. No reason why. I wait.
No tears I'll cry as lovingly I wait

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Returned BGSP Circle Course has me thinking...

I turned in my First Circle Composing Musician pieces, and they were returned. Not because there was a problem with them, but because the Preceptor (whom I adore and respect) wants me to add an introductory paragraph to each piece, explaining my motivation for the piece and the suggested use in ritual. That is not written in the SP requirements, but it is such a common sense thing that I am wondering why not! As soon as some MAdness settles down, I will be finishing these up and obtaining my first circle in the Bardic Guild.
 
On the verge of accomplishing a goal like this, I can look back at my growth and actually be proud of myself right now. Of course, I did it the hard way, completing the GSP courses rather than the BGSP-specific courses. When I made my ADF five-year plan, I anticipated much of this work would take a lot longer. As it stands now, all of my written coursework for the Bardic Guild is completed. I am at the mercy of the Muses now, and that's one of my favorite places to be.
 
As soon as I obtain my approval, these pieces will be listed on the ADF site under the BGSP completions, and it is my hope that sometime in the future, I will learn that something I wrote was used in someone else's ritual. The processional I wrote, incidentally, will be the very song played as a good friend and Grovemate walks down the aisle in October. I played it at my house the other day when some of the women were over to show a bardic-ly inclined Grovemate how easy it is to use Finale Notepad, and Mg came running down the steps, asking intensely, "What is that??" I began describing the piece for her, and when I got to the part where I relayed that it was a processional for something like an indoor rite, she added, "Or a wedding." This, this very type of thing, is why I write music. Music is not truly music until someone hears it. I am humbled by the chance ADF gives me to be heard.
 
I'm doing well. Not entirely healed, and I don't expect that for a long time to come, but these things are a good start. It's not always easy to heal when your pride is hurt, particularly when YOU are the one who has done the hurting, but doing something well and having others comment on something you have done well is salve for the wounded soul. The power of Words...

Polyamory and Heartache

Polyamory is an interesting beast, to say the least, and recent events have solidified for me that there is no sympathy to be found among monogamous couples when a relationship fails.

I have a successful primary relationship, and my husband and I have been polyamorous for eight years. I fell in love with a man who had a declared polyamorous relationship, though it turns out that they were polyamorous in theory (neither of them had actually had an external relationship).

For an entire year, I invested myself emotionally in a secondary relationship, though not quite defined as such since we were long distance and had almost no physical contact with one another. Personal things happened, and it was decided that the secondary relationship needed to be dissolved for the sake of their primary relationship. I fully support this move, and I wish them much luck and happiness.

I have some semblance of closure, knowing that there is nothing else I can do but step aside, which I have done, but my problem lies in the fact that is still hurts. I love him even now, but there is no comfort to be found among my non-poly friends--and that's pretty much all of them. There seems to be this underlying feeling that "it's good the secondary failed," and I am left feeling as though any moment now a scarlet letter will be afixed to my bodice.

I weep for a time-touched love and a handful of memories. It wasn't enough, and I didn't have enough time or courage to tell him what he truly means to me. I admit that I still don't quite understand everything, but I have learned several valuable lessons already:
  1. I don't think I can ever be a part of a relationship in which someone outside of it has "veto power."
  2. The rules of the dance must be agreed upon by ALL parties and not dictated. Even as a secondary how I feel is important, and even if my say is less-weighted than the primary partners, I think I need to have the courage to at least make sure my thoughts are heard.
  3. Once the rules are agreed upon, there are no excuses for breaking them, though I don't know how comfortable I am with the notion of a "deal-breaker."
  4. I'm not allowed to fall in love until much farther along in a relationship (Yeah, I know, a whole year and I feel like it was too soon? It's a LONG story, but one I am grateful to have lived). 
If you've been reading my blog, you will recall that I did something in May that affected my primary and his secondary. It was nothing like this, and they have healed, but I did note that this is the second time in two months that I have acted in a way that caused an issue for someone else. I made a BIG mistake this time that lead to where I am, but I need to live with it and move on. And I am. I can't take it back, that's for sure, but I can learn from it and keep from repeating it. So that's what I am doing: I'm learning.

I have officially put myself into emotional boot-camp, and I refuse to ignore the needs and effect that I have on those around me. I am not walking through this world alone, and it is high time I paid more attention. It's a rough lesson, but I hope it's not too late to grow and be deserving of a happy and successful relationship in the future. Before that time, however far off it may be, I will do what I can to make sure that I am a better version of me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

As Fast as a Speeding Oak, My Brain...

Recent discussion on the Leadership list has been very thought-provoking, and it wasn't until the mention of Guild programs that I felt compelled enough to reply. I distinctly recall making an internal declaration that "Kirk said I could post to the lists if I wanted" before I began typing, and I still hesitated before I hit send. It hit me after my reply was met with continued discussion as though I belonged there.....that I belong there. *blink, blink*
 
As MA, I ghost all of the ADF lists, and I think in my puny brain I had made the assumption that I was only on this list because I am the MA. Duh, silly. I am on the Leadership list because I am the MA! ADF-Leadership is a list that I belong to, not one that I am ghosting. I bet that by the time I am NOT the MA anymore I will finally have my head wrapped around who I am. And then, of course, I will change, willow that I am. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

A racing mind does not produce good works.

Attempting to write a ritual in a new hearth culture (new to me) is not easy with my mind running a marathon all the time. In addition, I have thoughts for a song and several started projects that I am just not focused enough to work on at this juncture. *Sigh* Time will make things better. If nothing else, I can always count on looming deadlines to get my butt in gear. Good thing I work well under pressure!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Because Bards put it in words...

The healing comes when the mistakes we’ve made become the lessons we have learned.
The learning comes when our vision shows us the wisdom we have earned
The wisdom grows as we look back on the trials that we’ve been through
And the hurt will go away--but never the memory of you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Performance Anxiety and Overcoming Fear of Failure

I thought long and hard about all this today, this competition business.....

The Wellspring Bardic Chair. I know you are probably tired of hearing about it and my insecurities related to it. However, as I spent some time really looking at my life and what sorts of things have gotten me to where I am, I realized that some things from my past are still hurting.

Musical performance: In 7th grade (I know, I told you it was too much information), our jazz band was asked to play at the high school music concert because we were really good. I had a lengthy solo that was well above skill level for a seventh grader, and many people came to hear me play it "on the big stage." When it came time to play my solo, I stood up and went to the microphone with my saxophone, but I didn't count my rests. I relied on the drummer's music cues to tell me when I was supposed to play. Problem was, the drummer made a huge mistake. I played one note, then the rest of the band came in, and I realized I was in the wrong place. Not having any music in front of me (because we were taught music was a crutch), I just couldn't find my place. After my allotted amount of time, the trumpet player began her solo, and I sat back down in my place. Afterward, all everyone could talk about was my mess-up instead of the greatness that was our jazz band. My shortcomings had succeeded in overshadowing the accomplishments of everyone else.

Spoken Word: In high school, I was part of an elite group of third-year Spanish students who were asked to compete in a multicultural event at Bethany College in West Virginia. I was charged with the most complex competitions: the Monologue. I memorized an entire creative writing piece in Spanish, and we even went to the auditorium during class a few times to get us used to performing on the stage. I did very well in rehearsal, and everyone was so sure I would win they filled my head with all sorts of wonderful ego-boosting comments. In the end, I came in 6th. I stuttered a bit a few times, but I did manage to get it all out with some semblance of dramatic fashion. Looking back, that's not bad, but some people were really disappointed and let me know about it.

This has been the root of all of my "paper" issues. This is why I am the "clipboard Queen." I need the script because some of the things I have been asked to do are too important for me to mess up, especially in ritual, and I fear that guilt that follows when I know someone was counting on me and I failed.

Here we are, more than ten years later, I find myself suddenly in the throes of competition once more, and I think I am going to vomit. Even though I know that my Grovemates and many other friends I have made in ADF would never, ever be so harsh as to judge me for not being the best, it is still a fear of mine that I will let people down. So I hide behind my guitar, because the music does the same thing for me that the paper does in ritual--it shows me where I am, where I am to go, and tells me when I am done. It's crutch, I know, but it's like dieting. You can't just stop eating.

So, why am I competing? I would like to say it's for my Grove. I would like to say it's for the Kindred, though I fully admit and yell it aloud that I couldn't do any of this without them. No. The competition is for me. I admit that the thought of competing against ANYONE from Sassafras is daunting to say the least, but all I can really do is be the best me that I can be, no matter with whom I am competing, and learn to be content with that. This is a lesson I aspire to learn.

These are merely the highlights of my introspections today, but the bottom line is that I fear more than anything that I will let people down, again, and I'm pretty sure that is just me projecting my desire to keep from letting myself down onto others. So I will go and compete with a smile on my face and a fire in my heart. I will be offering up the best of my best with the names of the Kindred on my lips. Like last year, I am competing without paper, but unlike last year, I am polishing the dramatic presentation as best as I can. I want to believe I have what it takes to be more than just a musician, though I would be content to sing my praises to the Kindred and serve as the Bard of my Grove forever. But I'll never know if I don't try.

Missy's stepping out from behind her guitar. And it scares the hell out of her.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wow, How's that for unexpected results of shameless selfishness?

*Vague because it's not my place to say*

I made an "executive" decision a couple weeks ago that has been a catalyst for disaster tonight. I can't even tell you how much my heart hurts right now from the knowledge that I had a hand in this mess. Worse, I have tears in my eyes for watching these two people whom I love dearly go through this.

I make a lot of effort in my life to refrain for actions that will cause pain or heartache for other people, because I used to be so bad at this.

Once upon a time, I was young and spontaneous and full of vigor. I was thin and "villanous," and I knew it ("Villanous" is an inside joke). It was fun to be spontaneous! I had the freedom in my heart to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! Except...

I had a bad habit of breaking dates with people, overscheduling, and cancelling plans. I was known just as much for my intensity as for my spontaneity, and I would spend my time with the focus of my intent while cancelling plans at my whimsy with everyone else. I also had a lot of "undiscovered polyamorous tendencies" that just lead to a stream of broken hearts in my wake. (I meant it when I said that if you guys had known me when, you wouldn't have liked me). Even with all of this, I had such a zest for life and a charismatic personality that people would reschedule for me. Every time. I made people feel better about themselves when I loved them. And they yeided to me. Man, I was such a bitch.

When I began working with Athena, she was like, "and you're done." I won't give you the entire run-down of all that, but I learned to exercise wisdom in decision making and to follow through with my word. Oh, there is so much more!


The relevant point is that I made myself learn to adhere to schedules, to always do what I said I would do, and to consider first and foremost the emotions of others before I made decisions. I was also heavily tempered by motherhood. I know I am still a work in progress, but I have come so far already. I can't wait to see where I am in five years from now.

Looking at this growth makes it hard to handle when I hurt someone. Even worse when it's more than one person. I suppose the positive aspect is that this, which used to be the norm, is a rareity. I apologize for my mistake. May forgiveness be sweet enough to equalize the bitter taste in my mouth.

Monday, May 3, 2010

3CG Beltaine

Beltaine is always a weird time of year for me. As someone with a LOT of natural sexual energy, I tend to be highly unfocused. Knowing this about myself, I decided to embrace the chaos within this year and give up trying to focus, apparently, because I brought all three kids to the rite. :D

More seriously, I brought all three children to the rite today. Jessie would have been here either way, and I will post more about her in a moment. Today was Patrick's first rite, and as I suspected, he was pretty bored. Kids and church tend to be almost universally predictable that way. I was surprised that he didn't join in the Maypole dance however, since we've done them every year for the past eight, and this was our first year not doing one at home. He told me he just wanted a year off, LOL. I love that kid so much it hurts.

Maypole dance was AWESOME. I felt really full after it was over, and I needed that. I liked the fact that we built up all that energy and then released in into the Earth Mother with the intent to offer her healing. That was beautiful and the imagery helped me to actually release it, which has been a problem of mine.

Timmy was Timmy. I am ever grateful to my Grove from embracing him as is without any complaints or frustrations other than not really knowing what to do to interact with him. And knowing that there is a desire to interact with him means more to my heart than you could ever know. My Grove family has, as usual, proven to me that they are amazing. This time because of their never-ending capacity to love.

Jessie, my little Pagan child, was so adorable. She and I learned the songs for the rite beforehand, and she sang like a champ! She also has a knack for meditation, which is slightly unexpected for such an energetic six-year-old. She will be seven next month, age of reason, I'm told, and I look forward to the ways the Kindred manifest themselves further in her life.

The rite itself seemed to go well. I was highly distracted and even outside for much of the rite. I was also running on two hours of sleep. I ended up crashing pretty hard when I got home, and for a short while, I thought I might vomit. I am feeling a little better now, having had an additional four hours of sleep. I think I am going to have to start putting my foot down and not doing these rites that happen so early in the day when I've worked the night before. I need to suck up the fact that I just can't handle it. Next year, when I am not working nights anymore, this will all go away. Until then, I need to accept the fact that it's selfish of me and that the Kindred and my Grove members don't want me to hurt myself to serve them. I just frickin' love doing it. Maybe I can offer to provide some "training" for another Grove member to take up the role of Bard for those rites?

And the Ancestors Box is back in it's spot on top of my piano. I plan on teaching Jessie about the Ancestors this time round, because I have seen that she is ready. It's a difficult line to walk, this teaching children Druidry business. She takes everything I say verbatim without question. I find I am constantly asking her, "well, what do you think about that?" to promote her thinking for herself. That's almost funny to say, and those of you who know my little sprite will agree, because she is such a stubborn and strong-willed child. I think she just loves and trusts her mom. :) Kindred help me to deserve that!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grove-Only Beltaine

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Beltaine rite that chronarchy wrote for his Lit Practicum 2 CTP3 requirement. He continues to be an innovative liturgist, and the rite went very well! (I'll be sending you some comments in email form, Mike.) We were inside due to rain, and I would have liked to see the gate opening as it was written, but I'll let him give you the details. :)

By way of personal reflection, I want my Crane-kin to know that this rite was, for me, more healing than you can know. When we passed the flame around the altar, I literally felt the wall of disconnect that has been plaguing me crumbling around me, and for the first time in months, it felt like home again. Heh, and that was before you guys gave me a present. :)

I was given a token from the Grove in honor of my passing the DP. Well, my completion anniversary was last week, so close enough. :) It's beautiful, and I am still feeling the "warm fuzzies."

I also really enjoyed playing guitar with folk participation for the Waters. It makes my spirit soar to play music in ritual space, and last night was one of the best examples of that. I look forward to leading Traci's song at Beltaine this weekend!

I played my new song as an offering (which reminds me, I've not posted it here), and I received some good feedback, including "Gaia Consort-worthy." Why do you guys love me so much? I must have been very good in a previous life. I love you, too--very much!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Still Thinking...

Heh, I really should be doing homework right now, but my mind is racing.

There are questions in my mind that need careful consideration right now. I can almost feel the path beneath my feet moving and shifting. I also keep staring off into space, sometimes for an entire minute, lost in my thoughts and musings on possibilities for the future.

How do you decide what images in your mind are what you want and what images are where you are destined? Does it matter? If what you wanted isn't that for which you are destined, cannot you change your destiny by working toward your wants as goals? Then again, sometimes NOT getting what you want can be the best thing that has ever happened to you.

I spent some time reading the ADF by-laws and such today. Good Kindred be blessed, I love this organization. My heart aches for its health and growth and for positive light to be shed upon all its factions. I am starting to understand more clearly why people give so much of themselve so freely--and I can't imagine why they wouldn't be doing just as they are.

Still thinking...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Post-Trillium Bardic Inspiration

I bet your are probably expecting a festival review, yes? There were good workshops, good friends, a very special man, and more food for thought that I can digest in one sitting. I will say that I am both excessively proud and humbled at the same time--a very interesting internal dichotomy, if you've never experienced it.

Much of the weekend has lead up to bardic motivation, and I am currently writing a song for Freyja. For those of you who work with Freyja, you know where she can sometimes lead your thoughts. So, in an effort to have "those thoughts" out of the way so I can praise her in an appropriate (and more G-rated manner), I am posting this here. Disclaimers? This is an unrevised draft, and the minion in my pen made me do it.

Freyja, turn me down tonight
Cool this heat that burns inside
Freyja, grant control, my love,
O'er lust I can't abide!

The soft and sensual touches
Oh ,so hauntingly recalled
Intoxicating imprints
That yield my flesh enthralled

Lustful thoughts possess my mind
Please grant me one night’s rest
Keep at bay those memories of
His lips upon my breast!

Freyja, turn me down tonight
Remove him from my head
But if you won’t, Freyja, my love,
Turn my thoughts to you instead

Sea-Bright Freyja, Brising-magic Lady,
Instructor of Seidhr and foresight,
Vanadis Woman, beholden to none
Maiden of battle and might

Your words, like warm honey spill forth from your lips
To linger and tease at my ear
Your lips, a deep crimson and wet with sweet dew
Kiss away all my prudence and fear

Awakening passions stir slowly in time
with the beat of your heart through my veins
Sunset-red locks, cascading, they fall
To dance round your curves, oh so fain

The rise of your breast with the breath through your lips
The fall of your gaze as I stare
Then slowly, so slowly, you raise up your hands
Rendering flesh newly bared…

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Musical Shenanigans!

Friday night, we played our rescheduled gig at Donerick's, where Jason blew my PA head a few weeks ago. And it was amazing!

Helen was in town for the weekend, and she sang the first five songs with me. I cannot even begin to express to you the joy that is singing with Helen. Harmonies are a gift from the Gods, to be sure, and I could almost feel myself surrounded by the host of Musai as we sang and disappeared into our musical oblivion. I haven't achieved this musical state of bliss in ages, and this, THIS is what I have been missing--that freedom gained from a total abandon into the music; to reach that state where you aren't playing the song anymore, the song is playing you. (It has occurred to me, also, that this is ecstatic trance. Please refrain from the beginning the usually obligatory "I told you so" montage.)

After Helen left, I played a couple more, and then we moved into the rotation, some mine, some Jeremy's, some duets, etc. I played quite a bit after the set break, since Jeremy's voice isn't yet strong enough to sing for more than one or two hours. I was able to fill a number of requests, which made me excessively happy. Honestly, I was surprised to have folks making requests. After the last show we played, I had resigned myself to being "ignored background noise," at best, but the patrons actually enjoyed us. They were attentive and free with applause and praise. Heh, I even left with two phone numbers (and the men didn't get any). There is also something to be said about playing well and KNOWING that you played well. I heard a voice coming out the speakers that was both pleasing and emotive, and that voice, so fortunately, belonged to me.

But I wax poetically...

I feel like my batteries were recharged, like whatever was broken inside of me has been fixed. I was comfortable in front of the mic again. Let's see if this holds true at Trillium's bardic circle. Playing for pagans is still a big challenge for me, and I haven't yet identified the root of this issue. I can play for four hours for a bar full of friends and strangers, but two songs in front of a room full of pagans can almost shut me down. What is it about you guys that is so intimidating as to almost shred my self-confidence?

On a lighter and even more personal note, it is the birthday of someone important to me today. Though there is much distance between us, I hope he knows that I thought of him and sent him much happiness and love today. Happy Birthday, A. May all your birthday wishes come true.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh, be still, dear heart.

I wasn't going to post about this, but I need an outlet.

A. sent me a text before the ritual this past weekend. As soon as I saw his name on my phone, I immediately began to blush and smile radiantly--noticeably so. I fear that my reaction to his post has officially "outed" the fact that we've been talking. There were quite a few folks a this ritual who know both of us. I hope he's okay with that. I guess time will tell.

I knew eventually this wouldn't be a secret any longer. With my name on the ballot and so much undecided in the future, I don't even know where I stand right now, or even if I stand at all, but the future is a'coming! A. makes me happy. He makes me feel good when I talk to him. He shares with me, he listens to me, and he is a wonderful friend. If that is all there is between us, that is enough for me.

Still, a girl's heart can dream...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Opening the Gates

I've long been considered a Bard, and it was only a few months ago that mere mention of me attempting a magical act would have been met with much hearty laughter. Well, after today, I don't think folks will laugh anymore. :) Look ma! I've grown!

I traveled to the Silver Falls Grove, ADF, Spring Equinox Rite to Persephone and Demeter this year. Since I am a Hellene and have been working with the two individuals who were leading this rite, I was honored with the role of Opening the Gates. When they decided on Hekate as the Gatekeeper Deity, they agreed that it would be highly appropriate to ask me to fill this role. I've had extensive experience opening the gates at home, of course, but this was my first public high day!

I began with a short meditation introducing Hekate to the folk, which ended up being much shorter than I had planned, since I forgot a lot of the words. I found I had to make myself speak out loud. Apparently, when I open the gates at home, I don't always speak the actions, I just act them out. I learned a lot about drawing energy from the Two Powers--and about blocking out the often chaotic energy coming from the folk. I fear that with my major talents lying elsewhere--and with so many talented people more suited for this role in my own Grove, I will not be getting much practice opening the gates in public. Shame, really. I rather enjoyed it. :)

I was also very excited about the toning working we did for a young girl who had been missing for three days. I invoked Demeter and Hekate, asking for clarity of vision, perseverance, guidance and protection. I also pretty much just said, "Hekate, guide her home safely." We did the toning work, and I sent the raised energy out as we all focused on a photo of her. I got word several hours later that she had been found. I do not think our act alone is what saved her, because there were a lot of folks praying for her and sending her good energies, or whatever their words are for this work. But I say with joy in my heart that I am so glad she is home safe. Heh. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Responsibilities of the Grove Bard

I had to tell the Druids in charge of Ostara that I will not be there for the rite. I had mentioned SEVERAL times that I would be attending the Silver Falls rite to support a long time friend in his oath to quit drinking, but apparently, this was not communicated in a way that they understood.

I admit that I feel a little as though I am shirking my duties as Grove Bard. The first quarter bardic event I am supposed to host appears to be "not happening" due to scheduling fail on everyone's part, too. I would like to think that I've done a lot for the Grove in terms of musical arts, but I am afraid that I feel better because I am more involved. I hope that over time, my involvement will encourage others to be more involved so that they, too, can experience the joy that comes from participating in music in ritual space with trust and abandon to your craft. In addition to the toning workshop I've proposed, I'd like to do a class on musical trance.Ah, big plans, little Druid! And no one or no where for them to take place!

When school is out, I am going to host an All Druid music night, complete with workshop, musical lessons, free bardic time and lots of food....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sombre Spring Moment

Gentle child of radiant light

Eostre’s kiss upon thy brow

Stretching limbs of green and white

As leaves appear on every bough



Sweet and gentle breeze of spring

Caress awake the flowers blooms

Returning birds in thine ears ring

As gentle rains do kiss the tombs



Of Ancients who have gone before

Mothers, Fathers, kin and friend

Names recalled in mind and lore

To guide us through to winter’s end



Where art thou, my love, my life?

Gone as with the snow and gloom.

Whence will thee return, my wife?

When death becomes your patient groom.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Imbolc with Silver Falls Grove

The interrelationships between the Groves in ADF is an interesting phenomenon to behold. I've had the privilege of attending my first non-3CG Grove Rite for Imbolc with Silver Falls Grove in Akron. Several of us Crane-kin traveled together to attend this rite, and to my happy surprise, there were a few folks down from StoneCreed, as well! Seeing everyone I haven't seen in months made me realize just how much I miss everyone.

I was the Bard for this rite, uh, -ish. I could have done a much better job, but I worked the night before and was a bit frazzled from driving and lack of sleep. Still, it was a beautiful rite, and I left feeling warm and content. I really enjoyed meeting the folks of SFG, and I am very pleased to say that I will also be attending Spring Equinox with them.

Snow is falling now, but one thing is certain, Spring is coming. I can feel it in my bones. I have seen the bits of green trying their best to make it through the snow and cold, and I know the Earth is stirring. It won't be long now.