Monday, December 19, 2011

Sonnet for Moving On

Word upon word, burned deep within my heart
I weep for the loss yet doubts have I none
Underneath love once whole in piece and part
Through acts of desire rendered undone

Drunkenness loiters from that sip of you
The kiss we shared as goodbye passed our lips
Mixed with poison left behind as fresh dew
Less heavy words have been known to sink ships

The mark left behind is your legacy
Despite biting sting and lingering hurt
Time spent as we made me a better me
“Hurts” are not units for measuring worth

Forward on I go and yes
Life is full of happiness

Thursday, December 1, 2011

To One Lost But Not Forgotten

I don’t regret the time I spent learning how to love you
Those lessons grew even when we were apart
I don’t regret the moments spent wrapped inside your arms
I miss you, but you’ll always be in my heart.

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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Verge of Farewell

I wait in stillness,
in the quiet of night.
I wait alone,
when all things sleep
save the hunger I have for you.

Memories flood my mind
of a time-touched love,
of a starry night,
of rain and romance,
of devotion's tight embrace.

Locked in passion fueled by love,
our hearts, one heart,
our flesh, one flesh,
our souls, one soul
connected in worlds beyond our own.

And yet, swallowed in the sea,
we return to our lives,
riding the waves of love and joy,
of hurt and loss,
and finding our strength to go on--together or apart.

Though no choice have I,
no outcome will diminish my love for you.

My desires are simple, yet so rarely fulfilled!
I long for lazy days,
for laughter and light.
I long for cozy nights,
for love's sweet embrace.

No one will love you as I,
because no two hearts are the same.
No one will love me like you,
for you love me in ways
I thought only possible in dreams.

How do I move forward from this
if it is not I you long to lie beside
on cold winter's night?
How do I love again if my heart
belongs only to you?

You are the complement to all that I am,
the dark to the light.
For just as the dark longs for the warmth
and brightness of the light,
So, too, does the light long for something dark and meaningful.

Dark and meaningful, my love.
May warmth and brightness always be able to find you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To One Far Away

Everything she touches she turns to art
Creating beauty with a wave of her hand
Everything she speaks goes straight to my head
Like fine wine or brandy on a cool autumn eve
Everything she writes I devour with yearning
Searching for signs she is thinking of me
And every time she smiles she touches my heart,
And my soul rides the waves of the kindled fire therein.

For the Gods have blessed her with creativity
Her touch blooms the flowers after cold winter’s reign
The Gods have blessed her with words
Her voice like sweet honey chained to my ears
The Gods have given her great knowledge
A pen for a spoon in a paper cauldron of wisdom
The Gods have clothed her in splendor
The light of Ausrine shines beautifully from her eyes

All I want is for her to look at me
That I may bask in all that she creates
All that she speaks
All that she writes
And all that she is
And my heart shall be thirsty no longer
And my soul shall run freely
Through fragrant fields of dandelions and sunlight

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Two Tenets of RDNA

As some of you may know, I am currently studying the ways of the RDNA in addition to the Our Druidry of ADF. I has been fascinating to see some of the origins of our own cosmology and symbolism. Before one may be elevated to the Second Order, they ask that you study and reflect upon the Two Tenets of RDNA, commonly recited simply as "Nature is good. Nature is very good."

From the Book of the Law 1.5: “The object of the search for religious truth, which is universal and a never-ending search, may be found through the Earth Mother, which is Nature; but this is one way, yea, among many.” This Tenet has been boiled down to the simple statement, “Nature is good.”

This first tenet places the Earth Mother, equated to Nature, as the end result of the quest for religious truth. The quest is “universal and never-ending,” and though there are other avenues, the Earth Mother must be accepted as a true path to this truth. In other words, the path of Druidry is a valid and meaningful means by which we may find religious truth in our lives. I do not necessarily feel that reducing this tenet to “Nature is good” quite translates the same meaning, but Druids are known for their witty and often cryptic speech.

From the Book of the Law 1.6: “And great is the importance, which is of a spiritual importance, of Nature, which is the Earth Mother; for it is one of the objects of Creation, and with it men do live, yea, even as they do struggle through life are they come face to face with it.” Likewise, this tenet has become, “Nature is very good.”

The second tenet elaborates on the first tenet, illustrating that the Earth Mother is of the greatest importance, because without her, humankind would not survive. The authors refer to the Creation of Nature with a capital “C,” which seems to denote a divine origin for its formation. Further, our struggles and hardships are ours along the way, but no matter our path, it is a path of the Earth, and we all must face this fact eventually. Reducing this tenet to “Nature is very good” makes even less sense here, because it completely strips the gravity of importance from the statement.

If I may suggest, perhaps a better pair of statements would be:

1. Nature is truth.
2. Nature is essential truth.

Those, to me, speak more loudly about the very basics of the reform.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Hellenic Samhain Unity Working

The Elysium Fields

“Into the West” is a common phrase heard among those of Celtic Hearth when referring to a journey to the Summerlands, the green fields of the afterlife, but this is not only a Celtic concept. Homer describes a plain where life is easiest for men, for there is no snow or heavy storm, and Okeanus blesses them with the West Wind that it may be cooling to those who live there. Hesiod refers to an Isle of the Blessed on the Western Edge of the Earth where admission is given to those chosen by the Gods, the righteous and heroic among the folk who would live a blessed and happy life, indulging in those things that brought them joy in their years on Earth. These Isles in the West, these Isles of the Blest, these Plains of paradise, are known as the Elysium Fields, and it is here that all Hellenes look to call their eternal home. Here, where the soft precipitate wind falls upon rich soils, continually supporting fruits, vegetables and grains beyond measure. Here, where long, lazy days are followed by cool, comfortable nights. Here, where the tales and songs of the Bards fill halls of fellowship and mirth for all time.

Our hearts’ desire is for our loved ones to be in just such a place, and as we honor them tonight, this time when the veil thins enough for our voices to freely echo through their Halls, let us call out the names of our clans, our tribes, our families. Let us remember the threads that connect us and weave them together as one folk honoring one mighty Kindred: The Ancestors.

We have blessed this Water and infused it with the gifts of the Kindreds, drawing down their blessings that we may be infused with their love in return for our gifts. As we offer this Water to the Fruit of the Vine, we share these Blessings with Those who have gone before us in Unity, in honor and with love. (Pour Waters of Life into Bowl of Wine, preferably red)

And now, Children of Earth, raise your voices with ours and sing your memories into these Waters. Lift your song from your heart that we, too, may add of our essence to these Waters gifted from the Kindreds. (Tone into the Unity Waters)

With reverence and passion, let us invite our houses to accept these gifts as a part of the Community Family of Three Cranes Grove and The Folk of Central Ohio.

(Beginning with a couple well-placed grove members, have each participant give the last names from their family tree, pouring a libation from the bowl over the Omphalos for each person. Single Drumbeat plays throughout. Offer final amount to the collective Ancestors of the Community)

Sing: Mothers and Fathers of Old

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Haides, an Essay and Prayer

Guest Writer: AG Vanidottir

Many would view Haides as a stern, fierce and unyielding god. Shown as dark and gloomy, the majesty of his appearance is often tainted. The judgement of men's souls is not an easy task and is often thankless. False notions about the power of this god make people unduly afraid of him. Perhaps this is stems from the idea that once dead we remain in his realm for ever, and that with the crossing of the River Styx the soul goes to him without the covering of the body and thus loses its humanity. I am hear to tell you that this is not so.

In the beginning of the Age of the Olympians, three brothers divided the realms of Earth. Zeus drew the lot of the skies and heavens and thus rules from Olympus. Poseidon drew that of the realms of seas and waters and with this rules from the depths of the world's Oceans. The third brother, Haides, drew the lot of mists, secrets and the deep darkness that the Earth's fertility comes from. It is to this realm that all must return when their days have run their course.

Haides rules the depths below Earth's surface and beyond the river Styx. There the mists from her waters part and the souls of our beloved ancestors walk freely to the rewards of a life well lived. Within the gates of the Elysian fields walks the defender of the rights of the dead, king of the under realms, lover and husband to Persephone, guardian of the hidden wealth of the earth. There those that have earned a place within these sacred grounds are at peace, hearing the love and prayers from the upper world by the grace of Haides. The dead, upon receiving this gift from their protector, smile and make ready for the time that their descendents join them. Love and sympathy course through the fruits of this world and here the dark and gloom do not dare invade.

Haides, in Elis your temple was only opened once a year; not unlike our own ancestor box. You hold the keys to the other realm and fiercely watch those in your charge with Cerberus by your side. Though you sit in judgement of men's souls and often must pass a harsh sentence, you are not without compassion. It is from the darkness of your realm that seeds gather their strength to be brought forth in the Spring. By your hand the wealth of the land is brought forth. Your gift to man is the promise of a safe harbor upon the crossing of the river. Your gift to the other gods is to care for those that they have favored in life with peace and joy beyond the confines of their flesh.

Haides, gathered before you now are the children of the Earth. The living call to you to recognize and honor you for your sacred duty. Haides, part the mists that stand between your realm and ours that we may make offering in thanks for your careful hand and watchful eye. Turn the keys within the gates and allow the mothers and fathers of old to hear the words of our hearts. The words of our own souls that sing in praise of you and yours.

"Zeus Khthonios (of the Underworld) [Haides], thy sacred ear incline, and pleased accept these sacred rites divine. Earth’s keys to thee, illustrious king, belong, its secret gates unlocking, deep and strong. ‘Tis thine abundant annual fruits to bear, for needy mortals are thy constant care. To thee, great king, all sovereign earth assigned, the seat of gods and basis of mankind."

Haides,
Lord of the Underworld,
Husband to Persephone,
Brother to Zeus and Poseidon,
Son of Kronos and Rhea,
Keeper of the mists,
Guardian of the dead
Haides, the children of the earth call out to you
Join us at our sacred fire and accept all that we offer to you.
Haides, we honor you!

Sources include: www.theoi.com, the Orphic Hymns and Plato

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Writing For Our Druidry, Part II

The following is the account of the work that lead me to write one of the most requested songs I've written:

I had been doing “musical devotionals” three times a week prior to writing “The Fire in My Heart.” It was late January, moving toward Brighid’s time as main Goddess of my Shrine. I had just finished writing the song “So Lean on Me” that I later performed as a part of the Wellspring Bardic Chair competition, and I had noticed that during the times when I did my offerings to the Ancient Wise and to Brighid before I practiced, not only was my overall performance better, but I was also commonly reaching for pen and paper to try to catch the inspiration flowing through me. It occurred to me that if these were the results of spontaneously “channeling Awen” then the results of actually invoking the Awen could be even greater.

The first several times I performed a devotional with the intent to write, things were a little rough. Performance mode and composing mode really were two separate mindsets, and although I could write in performance mode when I realized there were new pieces forming in my mind, starting from the other side of that coin was a bit more difficult. I decided to ease myself into it more, and I created a devotional structure as follows:

Offering to Brighid: invocation, incense and sing Holy Water, Sacred Flame.
Offering to the Ancient Wise: invocation, coffee and sing Hymn to the Ancient Wise
Sit down and write
Thank the Ancient Wise
Thank Brighid

The songs at the beginning of the devotional were there to get the “bardic juices” flowing, so to speak, since this was the way that I had been doing it thus far, and it worked much better. I worked in this format almost daily for two weeks before I wanted to change it. The amount of ritual work did not suffice for my devotional desires. During this time, however, I had come up with a new song for the Waters portion of the Core Order. My devotionals evolved to this:

Honor the Earth Mother
Honor all three Kindred, including Ancient Wise
Honor Brighid
Perform as an offering
Write
Thank the Beings

This was much better! A little back story here will reveal that during the course of my Dedicant Path, I can begun doing Core Order devotionals as part of my regular practice, and the similarities here were comfortable. Over the course of the next several weeks, I wrote a new poem to Brighid and had begun to toy with some similar works for other deities, which all turned out to be more liturgy than bardic work. I eventually interchanged the writing with the guitar or piano to use this format for writing music, too, and the results were good. I wrote the music that would eventually become a Sacred Center/Three Kindred song.

The poem I humbly submit to you came to me one day at random right before Trillium Festival in April of 2010. By this time, I was starting to seriously worry about the poem portion of the Wellspring Bardic Chair. My story and my song had been done for months, but I hadn’t even started writing a poem yet (says the woman who had written four other poems just that month). I specifically asked for aid in writing a poem for ADF, but instead of asking Brighid, which I normally do, I asked in general of all Three Kindreds, much like asking for a blessing in the Return Flow. I wanted it to describe to other people what it felt like for me to be a Druid, the joy and peace the path brings me and how deeply a part of who I am this work has become. I recalled my Dedicant Oath, in which I oathed to use my music to serve the folk (funny what comes out of your mouth when you lose your cue cards and have to do things off the cuff), and I was caught by the line “footsteps of those gone before.” I started writing. The text that came out is almost exactly as it is now, with some minor changes for cadence and diversity in word choice.

The first verse holds references to all three Kindreds and expresses the joy that comes with the knowledge of walking this life with a world full of Spirits. The second verse internalizes the path and illustrates the reward that comes when one simply taps into what is already there. And the third verse is about the *ghosti relationship we have with the Kindreds.

But it didn’t stop there! This piece went quickly from pen and paper to voice and song, and from there, this piece has spread out across ADF as more and more folks are using it in their Groves and personal devotional practices. This piece, this song is truly a gift to ADF from the Kindreds, and I am honored to have had a part in bringing it to life.

I still perform devotionals with the intention to write on Wednesday with Brighid and/or Saturday with Ogmios. Lit Practicum 1 has me doing all sorts of things, but as a Bard, writing and performing in ritual space will always be a cornerstone of my practice. This work has taught me the value of performance and composition, how the two are related, how they are different and how important it is to be able to do both WITH the Kindreds, not just FOR them. How else does a Bard receive blessings in return if not through pen and voice?

The Fire in my Heart

As I walk in the footsteps of Those Gone Before,
I’m surrounded with love by my Gods.
My spirit flies high with the Noblest Guides,
And the fire burns bright in my heart.

For I am a Walker of Ancient Ways,
A dreamer of times gone before I was born.
I journey to lands where the trees come to dance
Round the fire that burns in my heart.

I stand ‘neath the tree rooted deep in the Earth.
I’m crowned with the stars in the sky.
I’m filled with the powers below and above,
And the fire burns bright in my heart.

The waters of life course their way through my veins.
Blessings abound in my soul, in my blood.
The mark of the Kindred is left by my touch,
And the fire burns bright in my heart.

The Ancestors offer me knowledge and truth.
The Noble Ones serve as my guides.
The Shining Ones’ wisdom and grace fan the flames
Of the fire that burns in my heart.

I lift up my voice, singing praise to their names
With my offerings poured out in thanks in the soil.
I raise up my hands; I invite them to dance
Round the fire that burns in my heart.

I raise up my hands and cry, “Kindred! Come dance
Round the fire that burns in my heart!”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Writing For Our Druidry, Part I

I had the privilege to meet our Founder, Rev. Isaac Bonewits, in person in 2009 when he and I were both competing for the first Wellspring Bardic Chair. The poem and song that I wrote got his attention, because they were modern-sounding but still embraced the ideas that were important to folks in ADF. The poem was an inspirational piece entitled "Awen Rains Down." The song was one I wrote for my grove entitled "Teutates" for the God of the Tribe that we honor every Fall Equinox at our anniversary rite.

When I wrote "Awen Rains Down" in 2008, I had been in a rather lonely place due to some life circumstances that were rather isolating and difficult. It started out as a simple refrain that I wanted to use to teach the folk more about Awen. I fell in love with the concept of Awen, of invoking Awen, after a conversation with a woman who had taken "Awen" as her magical name. During this difficult time, I found myself singing the Awens absent-mindedly, and I wanted to express the comfort and peace that the Kindred had given me through this time. Inspired by a quote MJD had read to me from a source I do not recall, I wanted to write. He said, “In the midst of a crisis of faith, prayer is often the first to go, but this is exactly when you need to pray the most.” This had become almost a mantra and a driving force to continue on in the devotional work I had previously found so enjoyable even though I was lacking in motivation. That day, I sat down and sang the refrain several times with the intent to create verses, and they just fell into place.

When I wrote "Teutates," I was feeling similarly about my grove. They had been a source of strength and healing to me, and I used thematic elements from our Grove poem to create a piece that expressed not only the joy of diversity but also the unity and solidarity that come with being a Crane.

After Wellspring 2009, having lost the Bardic Chair competition, I began immediately to think about the next year's competition. I needed to write three new pieces, song, poem and story, and I needed them to be better than what I had done that year. The story was no problem. I had several already done, and writing fiction has always come easily to me.

The song was almost channeled. I had tried several times to write a song, any song! but to no avail. Being the Members Advocate, I learned through the grapevine via some of ADF's more private lists asking for prayer requests that Isaac was ill. We had no idea how ill at the time, but doing some healing workings for him over the summer had definitely put him in the forefront of my mind. I had recalled the conversations we had about how the bardic arts would be a way for ADF to be a bigger part of the greater Neopagan community, and I wanted to embrace some of that.

It was late August when I began toying with the idea that later became this work. I had just returned home from the Summerland festival, and I was feeling particularly amazing. Post-festival high lasted for a week! My devotional times were highly joyful, and many of my cares had been resolved. I was looking back on the difficulties of the summer, and I was particularly grateful for my patrons, those Deities to whom I had pledged devotion and with whom I had forged a more personal relationship. I made offerings in this mindset and then sat down to write. I wasn’t sure what form the song was taking until after the first draft was down on paper. It was clearly from the vantage of a patron to the devotee, speaking on behalf of the Kindred.

There were only a few edits, two deliberately done with Isaac in mind. In the second verse, I included “*ghosti,” and in the third verse, I included “mana.” These two concepts are the very crux of what ADF intends to bring into the lives of the folk, and I wanted to show that the Kindred want us to have them, too. This song, though finalized in tune and word, is still showing me the power of music.

So Lean on Me

V1:
Before me once more, your heart in your hand
Asking for help with something you don’t understand
Listen to me, Child, I need you to know
Not all things you strive for will help you to grow
By Oath-bound assertion we keep you on your path and
We’re right here to guide you; we’ve done as you asked.

Chorus:
So Lean on me
Come, take my hand, and Lean on me
I’ll help you stand when
All you’ve planned is just not meant to be.
Lean on me

V2:
Your offerings poured were not made in vain
Omen-gifts given and *ghosti still remain
The strength of the bonds between you and your Gods
Will never falter just ‘cause you don’t beat the odds.
By Well and by Fire and by Sacred Tree
Wyrd-bound, you’ll be stronger just wait and see.

Chorus

Bridge:
For how many years have we been by your side?
How many secrets heard that you’d rather hide?
I know the end you desire, and I can see the means
I’ll carry you through, you need only to lean

V3:
Look back on your past, the evidence shows
How often the mana you seek freely flows
We closed a few doors you opened in error
Exchanged mislead interests with something better
We Kindred will guide you in the Elder ways
We’ll walk along side you all of your days

Lean on me (3x)

Chorus

Lean on me, lean on me

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Court of Brighid

I had the privilege of attending a ritual led by Ian Corrigan and Liafal designed to bring us into contact with the spirits in the court of the Goddess, Brighid. The rite, as you can see in the link above, was a typical ADF Core-Order, though the offerings to Brighid were copious and heart-felt.

As the rite progressed, we were led deeper into trance until we finally crossed the threshold into the place where the spirits may make themselves manifest to us. I was approached by a woman who named herself as Tsirona (sa-RON-a). I found it interesting to note that this was one of the spirits I had seen in my mind's eye during the pre-ritual meditation the day before when Ian asked us to visualize Brighid and the three "servants" he planned to call.

Tsirona appeared to me as a woman, timeless and regal in crimson robes with long, black hair and piercing blue eyes. In her right hand, she held a quill. In her left, she cradled the cup of a goblet. The vision was very real to me. She told me her name, Tsirona, though I pronounced it wrong and had to be corrected. She described herself as an agent of Brighid's who deals in the healing power of music. She takes the energy put forth in song and vocalization and manifests the healing.

She gave me a prescribed method for working with her. Begin by burning sweet herbs and focusing on the work at hand, calling her to aid us. Then, we are to use music in whatever form we find most powerful for ourselves in terms of moving energy, and she will transform our energy into healing. When our work is done, she would like a note of thanks to be written and burned for her.

She then set down her things and spoke further. She told me that she has been working between Brighid and me for a long time by my measure. She told me that if I let her heal me that she can work through me better. I nodded, and she touched the middle finger of her right hand to my chest and kissed the palms of both my hands. When Ian and Liafal asked me about the spirit with which I had been speaking, I found that I was shaking and crying.

Since the ritual, I have spoken with her twice. The first time was a wash of emotions as I realized just what work she had done through me. The second was less intense, but still quite new and powerful. I have many questions to ask of her as I get to know her, and I look forward to working with her directly in future endeavors. This was and is an amazing experience!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Magical Toning Experience

Yesterday, our grove held our sixth night Druid Moon ritual. During this rite, I was asked to lead a toning to create a charged object for a couple of our Grovemates who are undergoing quite a large venture.

MJD handed me a pendant of a crane and asked me to lead a toning. He wanted the object to go around the circle, beginning and ending with me, so that those who were willing could charge it individually. I held the charm in the palm of my right hand as I recentered the folks briefly and began to sing. The first gentleman did not take the pendant from me when I approached him, but rather, he placed his hands such that one was above and one was below the hand holding it, but not actually touching me. I held my other hand above his, and we toned into the pendant. This was how every person added their magic to the mix after that.

I had expected them to take the charm out of my hand, but I am actually glad that they didn't, because about three folks in, I realized that I was more channeling than leading this working. About five folks in, I realized that I was listening to my voice from an objective, external standpoint. I recall thinking,"Wow, is that how my voice always sounds?" My tones were solid, and my vibrato was impressive, usually indicative of a well-trained vocalist. As I approached each of my grovemates, I was hearing the note I was to sing for them before I began to sing, and when I sang before each of them, I felt the change in the air between our hands surrounding the pendant. The two people "last" in line were the two (one by association) for whom this working was being done. I actually held their hands around the pendant, marking the pendant with their touch. Finally, I signalled the end of the working to the folk, and gave the pendant one final "charge" before handing it back.

At the beginning of this rite, I called to Brighid for Bardic Inspiration. Brighid also happens to be my Bardic patron, and I felt her arrive after I called to her. I am quite certain that it was she who was working through me, and I can't wait to see how things pan out from here!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Introduction to Taliesin

Taliesin was the name of a Welsh poet, a druid-bard who sang to Wales the glories of fine art at the courts of at least three Celtic British Kings. In legend and myth, he is often referred to as Taliesin Ben Beirdd which means “Taliesin, Chief of Bards.” Some tales relate that he was adopted as a child by Elffin, son of Gwyddno Garanhir. The later tale of his origins begins with the young lad known by the name Gwion Bach, servant to Cerridwen. Cerridwen had an ugly son, Avagddu, whose appearance no magic could cure. She began brewing a potion that would give him the gift of inspiration (Awen) and wisdom in compensation for his appearance. The first three drops of this potion would grant the one who consumed them the gifts in full and the remainder of the potion would be turned to poison. This brew had to be constantly stirred for a year and a day, so Cerridwen, who had better things to do, set Gwion to this task accompanied by Morda, the blind man who tended the fire.

Now it came that one day, Gwion was splashed with three drops as a bubble from the pot burst. The hot liquid caused Gwion to instinctively place his thumb in his mouth, instantly granting him great powers of wisdom and creativity. His first wise thought was to run, for Cerridwen would certainly murder him for this! It was not long before Cerridwen’s fury echoed through the land. Gwion turned himself into a hare to run faster, but Cerridwen turned herself into a greyhound and gave chase. He turned himself into a fish and leapt into a river, but Cerridwen turned herself into an otter and swam after him still. Gwion jumped from the water and turned himself into a bird, but Cerridwen turned herself into a hawk and was right on his tail feathers. Finally, exhausted from the newfound art of shapeshifting and the pace of the chase, Gwion turned himself into a grain of corn and rested peacefully on the ground. Cerridwen, who misses not, turned herself into a hen and ingested the corn, thinking she had rid herself of the evil boy who stole her potion.

Soon after, Cerridwen found she was pregnant, and once she realized it was Gwion, she resolved to kill the boy once and for all upon his birth. However, when the child was born, he was so beautiful that she could not follow through with the task. Still wishing to be rid of him, she tied him in a leather satchel and threw him into the sea.

It is said he was discovered by Elffin while fishing for salmon. When Elffin uncovered the babe, he was shocked at the whiteness of the boy’s brow and cried, “Dyma Dal lesin!” which means, “This is a radiant brow!” He was further shocked to learn the boy could already speak as his voice burst forth in poetic form. Elffin took the child into his care.

At the age of thirteen while visiting King Maelgwn Gwynedd at court, Elffin proclaimed his Taliesin to be a far better bard than anyone the king had at court. Maelgwn imprisoned Elffin for his insolence and demanded Taliesin be brought forth to prove this claim, and when he arrived, his words were unmatchable for they rendered the king’s bards to speaking in only babbling tones as those of a baby. Elffin was released from prison.

Over time, many tales exist regarding the verbal prowess of the magnificent Taliesin, and a myriad of works refer to him for his great skill. He is called today in our Druidic rites that he may grant us the powers of Wise Words and Awen that Cerridwen had granted to him—though with a little more “direct action” and none of the angry chase scenes!

Bibliography

Ford, Patrick K. The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press: 1977. Print.

Koch, John and John Carey. The Celtic Heroic Age 3rd ed. Malden, Mass, Celtic Studies Publishing: 2003. Print.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lugh as a Deity for Inspiration

Happy Lughnasadh, Everyone!

Lugh is the God of All Arts and is often hailed for his mastery of all crafts. His name, Lu, has been linked with Apollo (Apaliunas) and indirectly with the unnamed Gaulish God Julius Caesar refers to as the Gaulish Mercury, Inventor of All Arts. Lugh possessed a magic hound that was said to turn a spring into mead or wine by bathing in the waters. This association with mead and the battle strategy and wit he shows in such tales as the First and Second Battles of Magh Tuireadh have led many to associate him with Odin and Wodan, Gods of both Warcraft and Poetry through mead-inspiration. It is particularly useful for musicians to call on him to aid them in mastery of their skill.

Invocation to Lugh as Bardic Inspiration

Lugh of the Long Hand, known master of the spear,
Hailed Warrior and Battle Leader,
We call on you today as Ildánach, Master of all arts and crafts.
Skilled Smith, we call you to guide our hands.
Skilled Harper, we call you to guide our music.
Skilled Poet, we call you to guide our words.
Skilled Historian, we call you to restore our memories.
Skilled Sorcerer, we call you to guide our magic.
Grant strength to our talents and skill to our words.
Bring Light and Worth into this rite and into our lives!
Lugh! We honor you!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ogmios, Gaulish God of Words

According to Lucian, Ogmios is the “Gaulish Hercules (Herakles).” He personifies the power of speech and eloquence and is often depicted as large-boned and wielding a club or a bow. He is often seen as old and balding, a symbol of his wisdom. His skin is darkened by the sun, indicating that perhaps a similar human figure of great renown had once traveled through the Gaulish lands from perhaps a Persian area (speculation, of course).

Also a Deity of binding, Ogmios is said to draw men happily after him tied to his tongue by thin, gold chains at their ears. The people were drawn to him in joy and were depicted doing their best to be as close to him as possible. His utterances are “sharp and well-aimed, swift to pierce the mind” (Green 165-166). Ogmios would use his words to bind people by the power of persuasion and lead them into the Underworld, so the argument has been made for calling to him as a psychopomp Deity. He was known to create defixiones, tablets with a curse written on them. Two such tablets have been recovered from Bergenz, Austria in which Ogmios is invoked to curse a barren woman that she may never marry (Lucian 63-67).

Invocation to Ogmios

The Children of the Earth call to Ogmios!
God of strength and eloquence!
Might by arms and by tongue!
Remind us this day and all days of the power of words!
As your words flow like sweet honey
from your lips to the ears of your follower’s eager ears,
May we be inspired to choose our words carefully—
For so, too, do our words bind us to those who hear them.
Guide our speech, Ogmios, that our words be well-chosen,
inspired and pleasing to the Kindred.
Teach us the power of words,
Inspire our hearts and minds as we speak and listen!
Ogmios! We honor you!

Bibliography
Green, Miranda. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Thames & Hudson, London: 1992. Print.

Lucian. The Works of Lucian: with an English Translation by A.M. Harmon I. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press: 1913. Print.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vac, Vedic Goddess of the Voice

Vac literally means “to speak,” but to the Vedic Indians, Vac embodies much more than mere speech. Vac is centered around speech as well as song (sung word) in connection with a sense of “calling forth,” of “raising.” Vac has been used to refer to the roaring of animals, the rustling sound of a blazing fire, the sound of flowing Soma (the song that Soma utters), the thundering of the clouds (the sound of Soma pressing stone) and personified in a glorious Goddess, Vac. In short, Vac is the divine embodiment of sound.

Vac is always named in the process of creation, including the creation of the world. She has been noted for her interaction with Sarasvati, Agni, Soma, Prajapati, Brhaspati and Usas. She was created for the performance of sacrifice, and from her sprang forth the Holy mantras, for when her name is added to a prayer, it becomes a charm, a spell. Her presence will transform the words that they may be given to Agni and carried to the Gods. She is said to control the tone, meter and speed of the spoken words as well as their cessation when silence is necessary.

Vac is sometimes looked upon as a cow capable of yielding all desired things equating the powerful and sacred nature of words with the divinely revered animal. She has given the voices to all the creatures, including humans, through her breath.

Pingle, Pratbha M. The Concept of Vac in the Vedic Literature. Sri Satguru Publications, India: 2005. Print.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who was Orpheus?

Orpheus is one of the premiere bardic figures from Hellenic times. He was a spinner of tales, a poet, a musician, a lyricist and a well-respected performer. He was also a highly proclaimed scholar and religious innovator.

His listed parentage varies. In one version of his story, his father is Oaegros, King of Thrace and his mother is Kalliope, the Muse of Music. In another, his father is Apollo himself. Some say he invented the lyre, though this invention is typically attributed to Hermes, who offered it to Apollo in restitution for stealing his cattle. One thing is clear no matter his lineage: his musicianship was beyond measure. According to lore, his talents landed him a place among the Argonauts on their journeys during which his music and quick moving wit kept the Sirens from destroying them (Kerenyi, Heroes, 253-256). His music and words were so powerful that the plants, animals and even the nymphs were set to dancing by his playing. So great was his talent and the emotion he instilled in his listeners that he set the very Queen of the Underworld to tears and convinced her to allow his deceased wife, Eurydike, to return to him from the Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, he looked back upon her before she was fully returned to the realm of the living, and she vanished back into the Underworld forever.

It is said that after Orpheus lost his beloved Eurydike a second time he kept the company of only men, particularly satyrs and adolescent boys. He is also the founder of a mystery religion, teaching the lessons he brought back from the Underworld with him. Over time, he grew callous, judgmental and intolerant. He began to criticize the ways of those who did not follow his own, denouncing such acts as animal sacrifice, which flew in the face of Civic Law. Eventually, he went so far as to spurn Dionysos and his followers for their lascivious ways, resulting in his destruction. Dionysos set his Thracian Maenads to destroy Orpheus—which they accomplished by tearing him limb from limb while he yet lived. (Kerenyi, Heroes, 279-286)

Orphism, ironically, was later called the Reformed Dionysianism, a more intellectual and controlled form of practice seeking immortality through divinity. The Orphics tended to view the body as profane, tainted, while the soul was divine, and only through bodily purification could one attain salvation. The soul would be required to pass into another form, and another, and another upon death until purity was obtained—the main reason the Orphics are considered the first advocates of reincarnation. Followers were vegetarians, including egg and bean, who abstained from all sexual activity—a far cry from the predecessors who followed the orgiastic ways of Dionysos! (Orphic Religion, 2010)

Today, Orpheus is often called in Hellenic rites for Bardic Inspiration. Whether as a Deity, Demigod, Hero appointed to Deity status, or even as an Ancestor, Orpheus and his talents are still inspiring the world.

Bibliography

Encyclopedia Britannica. "Orphic religion" Encyclopedia Britannica Online: 2010. 21 Feb 2010 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/433191/Orphic-religion Web.

Kerenyi, Carl. The Heroes of the Greeks. Thames and Hudson. London: 1959. Reprint: 1997. Print.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Apollon, God of Music, Prophecy and Healing

Appollon (Apollo) is one of the twelve Olympian Gods. He is best known as the God of Prophecy who spoke through the Oracles at Delphi, the center of the world. His other attributes include plague and disease as well as healing; music, song and poetry; archery and the protection of young children. He is a handsome God often depicted with long hair with any combination of a myriad of accoutrements such as a wreath or a branch of laurel, a bow and quiver, a raven or a lyre.

The tale of his birth begins with his Mother, Leto, beloved of Zeus, being pursued relentlessly by Hera from the moment she discovered Leto was with child. Leto was driven from land to land to prevent her from giving birth. There was no rest for her during the entire length of her pregnancy. Hera declared that no land shall grant her refuge, and so the floating Island of Delos, which was not fixed land, offered a safe place for Leto to rest and bear her children, for she gave birth to twins, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and patron of young women and Apollon, youthful God of prophecy, music and healing.

There are many tales of Apollon performing great feats, such as the slaying of the Python that guarded the oracular shrine at Delphi and Tityos, the giant who attempted to steal his mother, Leto, but some of the most beautiful stories of love and music are found in the lore surrounding the young God. He fell in love with Hyakinthos, and when he was killed by a discus throw, the God transformed him inot a flower, the hyacinth. The Nymph, Daphne, was counted among his loves, but when she left him, she was transformed into a laurel tree. He fell madly in love with Koronis, but she was slain by Artemis for infidelity. During the Trojan War, he even brought a plague to the Greeks and helped Paris to slay Akhilleus.

There are many tales that illustrate the great bardic prowess of the God. In the Iliad (i. 603), he entertained the mortals with his playing on the phorminx during their banquet. The Homeric Bards were said to have derived their art of song from Apollon and the Muses. But the most revealing tale to the bard is the story of his music contest with the Satyr, Marsyas. Marsyas of Phyrgia was a flautist. The flute was invented by Athene, but she became disgusted with it when she saw in a reflective pond the bloating of her cheeks as she played. As luck would have it, Marsyas was nearby when she discarded the instrument and immediately picked it up. The flute, having been blessed with the breath of a Goddess, emitted a beautiful sound upon first blow. Over time, Marsyas became quite skilled, and in his hubris, he challenged Apollon to a music contest. Apollon inquired of the conditions, and Marsyas, assuming he would win, declared that the victor shall do what he pleased with the loser and even asked the Muses, who were known to be loyal to Apollon, to sit as judges for the affair. Marsyas held his own in the first round, he on his flute and Apollon on the lyre. In the second round, however, when Apollon added his voice to the beautiful music, the Nymphs swooned, the trees swayed and the flowers turned their faces toward the voice of the shining God. After Apollon was declared the winner, he had Marsyas bound to a tree and flayed alive. His blood flowed out and became a river, which Apollon named after him (Strabo, Geography 12. 8. 15).

In many ways, the modern-day bard is a reflection of the God, Apollon, who entertained, competed and was revered for his skill. For this, among many other reasons, we call out to him as a source of Inspiration as we prepare to greet the Gods round our fires.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sometimes, there is no doubt to be found.

I recently took a trip to Eight Winds Festival in Truckee, California, not too far from Lake Tahoe. It was quite lovely, and I was honored to travel the two-thousand miles with my guitar to perform live for many folks I've only known in spirit upt to now.

When you take your guitar on a plane, it is very important that you loosen the string lest the loss of pressure in the baggage compartment cause the bridge to be ripped from the body of the instrument. I was shocked at the prospect before my flight to Cali, and checked and double-checked it four times before I let them take it out of my hands at the airport.

On the way home, I was nestled into my seat, exhausted from a lack of sleep due to excessive desire to be awake with the people around me, and when the captain announced that we had reached a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, my hands literally went to my face as I realized that I had not loosened the string for the return flight.

Calmly, I said to myself, "Missy, you are a Druid, and you have honored the Gods far more than you have asked for anything in return. Just ask for help." So, I called to Freyja, asking her to protect my guitar, break the strings if she has to!, but please, let it be playable when I got home to Columbus.

Twice during my layover in Houston, I was reminded of my folly, but both times, I reminded myself that I asked for Freyja to help, and she has never let me down. When the plane began to accelerate on the runway one final time, I placed my trust in Freyja to keep my guitar safe throughout this last leg of the trip--and on through the "moderate" turbulence about an hour out from Columbus that sent the flight attendants to their seats!

When we arrived at the baggage claim area, with bated breath, I watched for my guitar to come through. It was unscathed from the outside, which sent a thank you from my heart to the Continental employees who obviously handled it well during transport. As I picked it up, my heart was racing in my ears, and I could hear or see nothing around me. Slowly, I opened my guitar case and revealed: a perfectly whole guitar! A few quick strums on the strings showed that it was not only intact, but still in tune.

This is why I believe the Gods are real. Because they show me in tangible ways. What doubt is there to be found? Hail Freyja! I hope she enjoyed her "thank you" wine.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Bard in Ritual Space

Many of us in the Bardic Guild, particularly those of us who serve in Grove or other local venues, know that there is more to the role of a Bard than merely a strong voice to lead the folk, though it is a good start.

The work of the Bard begins well before the ritual starts in the writing phases, when the season, audience, pantheon and even location of the liturgy must be considered carefully. The Bard begins with the insertion of works such as poems, stories and songs to tie together the various pieces of the rite and maintain the focus of the work at hand.

Just before the rite begins, the Bard rallies the folk with songs and engages them in the music and the words to begin the transformation from existence in mundane time and space to the dissociative state we know as liminal space, that space outside of space and time. As the rite progresses, further songs are sung to maintain the momentum and the energy that has been built, and further works are performed to explain and to give the folk a means to better recall the lessons and lore of the work at hand when their mind returns from this other time.

On the hinge of the rite, it is not uncommon for the Bard to interact with the Priest in sending the final sacrifice to the Kindred through the fire, and then as the energy is harnessed upon its return to be given to the folk in the form of Blessings from the Kindred, the Bard is called to perform yet again to buoy that energy as it falls, stretch it out and make it last through to the working where the magic of Our Druidry will happen in our rite.

And even when the rite is complete, the Bard has yet one final piece of work to do, that of returning the folk to their mundane mindset while leaving them with a final gift of music to seal the day’s work into their hearts and minds.

Being a Bard is about more than writing. It is about more than reciting or singing or speaking. Being a Bard has a magical element that is easily taken for granted. The work of the Order of Bardic Magic is to teach you, the Bards of ADF, how to do all of this and more with ease and professionalism. Being a Bard is the first step. Becoming a Bardic Magician is the ultimate goal of our work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bardic Two Powers Meditation

The first working that the Order of Bardic Alchemy has created is a blending of many of the symbols we hold dear to us from our various Indo-European hearth cultures with one of our most consistent and effective magical traditions within ADF: the working of the Two Powers. This piece is designed to tie the members together through a common magical act that is rich in Bardic symbology and not specific to any particular hearth and is included in the outline as part of the Order Devotional.

Breathe deeply, Children of Earth, and allow your body to relax as you exhale.

Focus on your breath, blowing out concern and care for the world around you, breathing in the fresh and magical air from the Other worlds as it begins to swirl around you, lifting you into liminal space.

Find yourself standing at the base of the White Cypress tree, whispers of nymphs and dryads heard on the leaves as the winds gently dance among them. As you fall away into the sights and sounds around you, feel your feet begin to sink into the Earth.

As the moist, cool soil covers your feet, send your roots down, down, down, deeper through the earth, past the roots of other plants, rocks and clay until you feel the waters flowing beneath the Earth caressing your tendrils. At their tingly touch, feel the waters begin to ascend, filling you with the Waters that are all waters, the waters from deep within the Well of Wisdom that carry the potential for all things in the chaotic pools below the worlds.

Breathe in, and as you exhale, feel these waters ascend into your feet, filling your legs and settling into Cauldron of Warming in your belly where your health and well-being lie. Feel these waters mingling their healing powers with your life blood, carrying away unneeded and unwanted matter found there.

When this Cauldron is full, breathe in once more, and as you exhale, feel the waters ascend further into the Cauldron of Motion in your heart. As this Cauldron fills, see the tools of poetic inspiration that are stored there begin to float and churn as the weight of the Waters turns the Cauldron upright, filling your heart with the joy of the Waters of Imbas.

When this Cauldron is full, breathe in, and as you exhale, feel the waters ascend, filling your throat with the Soma that carries you away and into the realm of the Divine, filling your head with the joy of human life and divine connection, touching the lips of the Cauldron of Wisdom and pressing up and up until the Cauldron tips and begins to fill with the Mead of Inspiration, drowning your sorrows and opening you to the highest of spiritual and artistic expressions.

Breathe in, and as you exhale, see this Cauldron in your head overflow, sending the Waters of the Underworld cascading down your entire body, bathing you in the powers and the tools of the Chaos of Potential. Feel the waters flow in you, through you and around you. Become one with the Powers as they well up from below and fall gracefully back to the Earth all around you.

Thusly filled with the Underworld Power, send your mind’s eye to the Heavens, beyond the trees, through the sky and into the realm of the stars. Among them, a single star begins to shine brighter and brighter, drawing your full attention to its beauty and power.
Breathe in, and as you exhale, draw down from this star a beam of light, the essence of the Power that lies in its Fire. Watch as this beam of light travels toward you, passing through and collecting the power of the Stars in its path to settle on your head as though Awen has rained down upon you, sending a pulse of power throughout your body as the waters begin to change.

Breathe in, and as you exhale, feel the power of these Fires stirring and transforming the potentials of the waters as they enter the Cauldron of Wisdom in your head, shaping them into song and art, phrases of beauty and wisdom and elegance, changing these waters into the third, magical, combined power, the Triessence, the power of the Waters and the Fires combined to make a third power, more potent than the initial powers as they unite and expand one another as waves colliding and merging in the sea to form larger and larger waves of combined magnitude.

Breath in, and as you exhale, feel the Fires move down into your breath, sending shimmering light all around you. Feel them move into your throat and settle into the Waters in the Cauldron of Motion in your heart. Feel them mingle and transform the Waters in your Heart until the Cauldron overflows with this Triessence and falls down into the Cauldron of Warming in your belly. Feel this power overflow from the Cauldron, slide down your legs and disappear into the deep, dark waters below you.

Breathe in, and as you exhale, feel the combined powers within you moving your mind and your heart, connecting you to the powers below and above and filling you with the Creative Power, the Triessence, The Potential Energy that will charge and move everything it touches.

Hold your hands before you as though to cradle a cup. Breathe in, and exhale into your hands, feeling the powers from below and above you as they are drawn into your throat, carrying the bounty of your knowledge, wisdom and poetic power and fill your hands with a sphere of concentrated Triessent Power.

Focus your intent to Create, to Write, to Perform, to be Inspired into this sphere, and when you are ready, press this sphere into your heart, open your eyes and be prepared to use this power in the work that lies ahead.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hestia's Oath--a short ritual play


Scene opens with Zeus sitting upon the high seat at Olympus. He holds the aegis across his lap.
Hestia, Goddess of Fire enters and walks toward Zeus.


Hestia: Greetings, Brother Zeus, Lord of all Olympians!
Zeus stands to greet her.

Zeus: Greetings, dear Hestia, First and last born among us. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit this day?

Hestia: Long have I tended the Flame of the Olympians.

Zeus: (nods head) Aye, you have done wonderful work for us.

Hestia: Thank you. As I am sure you know, Poseidon and Apollon have both asked my hand in marriage.

Zeus: So I hear! (Places his hands on her shoulders) You must be so happy. Either of them is lucky to have you, should you bless them with your love.

Hestia: And therein lies my trouble. You see, my heart already belongs to another.

Zeus: Ha! (Claps hands) Well, tell me then, dear sister, who has won your love?

Hestia: Brother, I wish not to wed Mighty Poseidon nor Wise Apollon, because my heart belongs among the men and women of Earth.

Zeus: Is it a mortal whose love you seek?

Hestia: (Shakes head) No, Brother. I wish never to marry and to remain a maiden all my days.

Zeus: You know what you ask me...

Hestia: Yes, Zeus. I know, and I am prepared.

Zeus: So be it. (Zeus holds out the aegis and Hestia places her hand over the head.)

Hestia: So by the River Styx do I swear:
Henceforth shall I remain maiden-fair,
Untouched and pure as the Fire I embody,
Unscathed by the torment of love,
Unhindered by lust and desire.
My love shall be the Fire.
My life shall be the Fire.
My soul shall be the Fire.
Esto!

Zeus: Esto. (They embrace. He keeps one hand upon her shoulder as he speaks definitively.) Hestia, you have served well among us, freely and with love. If you will not allow a God to love you, then I shall make it so that all beings will love you, Fire Maiden of Olympus. Your domain shall be the hearth fires of all temples, all sacred shrines and all fires among mankind. All first offerings shall go to you, and you shall be Chief of the Goddesses in the hearts of mortals. No offering shall come to us that does not pass through your Flame or travel upon the smoke of your Fire, for all fires shall be your fires. The richest portions shall go to you, and the essence shall be sent to the Us. Do you accept this charge?

Hestia: (Smiles broadly) ‘Tis a gift, not a charge. May I serve well the houses of Gods and Men. Thank you, Zeus, Mightiest of the Olympians.

Zeus: So be it!

Fin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Polytheism and Faith Questionnaire, Part 3

Have you had experiences that confirmed for you that the Gods and Goddesses are real- that they exist and want us to know Them?

I’ve actually had many and continue to have them all the time. I have always known there were beings other than us out there. I have been “filled with the Holy Spirit,” “drawn down the moon” and “channeled” my fair share of them. The striking thing about asking the Gods and Goddesses to show you they are real is that they all will do this if you ask them. The problem is not that they don’t want to know us or won’t reveal themselves to us. All too often, the problem is we are not able to hear them when they call.

Since you probably want something anecdotal, I will tell you a bit about my first encounter with Persephone. It was not long after I had decided to create a home shrine of sorts for doing habitual work. I had been calling out to the Gods in general and asking if there was any among them who were interested in a more personal relationship, a patron relationship. I got out my tarot cards, because I have always been a bad listener, and waited. I sang for a few moments, and then I felt that familiar heaviness that always comes just before a Deity enters. As the room grew thick and still, my candle flames even shrinking in the weight, I reached out as if in slow motion and pulled three cards, the Two of Swords, the blank card, and the Hermit. The imagery of this particular deck portrays Persephone in her Underworld guise, cut off from the Upperworld. I immediately was drawn to tears, and I knew her to be with me and wanting to relate with me. I realize that not everyone will find this to be proof that Persephone exists, nor that she wants to have a relationship with the likes of me, but this is about what I hold to be true, where my beliefs lie and in what I put my faith. I have faith that Persephone is my patron and that she cares about me, helps me and guides me as I walk the mortal realm.

How would you describe your relationship(s) with your Goddesses/Gods?

Most of them are very similar to the relationships other folks have with their Deities. I meet them in prayer with reverence and respect, and they meet me in like fashion at my hearth or wherever I happen to be when I call to them. Our relationships are defined by *ghosti, a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European word that embodies the guest-host relationship. The spirit of *ghosti, the word from which the English words “guest” and “host” have both evolved, is one of reciprocity. We give offerings, whether tangible ones such as incense, poured libations or oils, or non-material, such as honor and praise, song, poetry, etc., fully expecting those gifts to be returned to us in the form of blessings in our lives. I fully believe this to be true and approach the Kindred with the expectation that I will be met with the same love and devotion that I give to them manifest as wisdom and blessings in my life. So far, I have yet to be disappointed!

Are there any questions about polytheism that you personally grapple with?

We all have our own doubts that plague us along our paths. Mine revolve around whether or not I am heard. Why would a God or Goddess want to interact with me? What makes me significant enough to obtain their attention? What could I possibly offer in return? My best answer is fragility. Just as a tiny baby or a precious artifact is delicate and fragile and must be handled with care, so, too, do humans appear to the Gods. We are fragile and because of this, we are more precious. The fact that we are vulnerable to the world in which we live and yet survive so brilliantly is potentially an impressive feat to one who may have grown to take the longevity of their existence for granted. But, I digress. I may not know the why’s, but I do not that for whatever reason, it is real and it works.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Polytheism and Faith Questionnaire, Part 2

How did you first come to know the Goddesses/Gods as separate and distinct deities?

It was a long time coming for me. I grew up in a relatively Christian household. My father was more agnostic than Christian and held the Native American spirituality in high esteem, though this was not something he discussed with me until I was an adult. My mother did what she was taught to do, had us baptized, let us explore and answered our questions to the best of her abilities, but religion/spirituality was never very important to them. It was, however, important to me, and I began the quest for my religious affiliation at fourteen.

I started with the various Christian churches in my hometown, and eventually, I ended up converting to Catholicism at sixteen by personal choice and much to the chagrin of my father. It was infective, and I brought half of my family, including my mother, my grandmother, my aunt and all three of my cousins with me. I was a part of a highly charismatic church group, known for speaking in tongues, ecstatic trance and long worship sessions with a full worship band. The music was the main focus of my time with this group. I would stand up and sing for hours while worshippers literally prostrated themselves, wept, danced, sang and otherwise channeled the power of the Holy Spirit. This was when I knew the Gods to be real as well as when the Gods began becoming distinctly separate entities.

Over time, I began to forge a strong relationship with Mary, Mary Magdalene, Hagia Sophia (as the Greeks called the Holy Spirit, “Holy Wisdom”) and a myriad of Saints. None of this was questioned until I began separating the Father and the Son into separate entities, for that was how I experienced them. I had several lengthy discussions with the Priests, who had even called in other Priests to try to dissuade me from this line of thinking. “There is only one God!” they would cry.

I would counter, “But I know them and they are not. And what of Mary? And Mary the Magdelene? Are they not Divine?”

“No, they are Blessed. Only God is Divine,” they would answer.

“But what of the Holy Spirit,” I would ask. “Surely she is Divine in her own right?”

“The Holy Spirit is the breath of God,” they would say. “And the Holy Spirit is not a ‘she,’ though you may think of this as the feminine aspect of our one true God.”

“But what of this line in the bible that says, ‘Thou shalt not have any other Gods before me.’ Doesn’t that prove that there is more than one God?” I would ask, usually to be met with shaking heads and even an exasperated “hands in the air” gesture as though all was lost. I did many, many “Hail Mary’s” and “Our Father’s” to atone for my line of thinking, but the more they made me pray, the more contact I had with each separate Deity, the more I knew them as separate, distinct beings.

Finally, I decided one day while doing yet another set of “Hail Mary’s” to just ask her. I mean, she of all people would know. So, I did just that, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, I come to your feet to seek knowledge that you, in your wisdom, may hold. Will you tell me, are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as one?” I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit surrounding me, for I had come to recognize her presence quite readily. I felt the distinct presence of Jesus beside me as I had come to know him, beginning and ending all things in His name, calling to Him as a messenger Deity, and agent between me and the Father. And when I felt the Father above me, I knew. There was no need for words. I was surrounded by three distinct beings, and I knew there would never be a way to convince me otherwise.

Once I had my confirmation, my proof, I stopped arguing with the Priests. I knew they believed they were right, and perhaps that is how they know their God, as one distinct Being. Over time, as I learned all that I could from the Catholic Pantheon, for that was what it became for me, I slowly began to walk away, to find a place where others were who saw the same things that I did in the world around us. It was with a heavy heart that I left the Catholic Church, because I had loved the Gods so much; however, one doesn’t spend years in the arms of the Holy Spirit without learning how to hope.

How did you first come to polytheism as a religious path?

After I left the Catholic Church, I floated for a while, not sure what to do with myself. I still had a strong spiritual life, and I had proof that there was a World full of Gods out there; however, I didn’t know how to go about meeting them. I mean, one doesn’t walk into a bar and say, “So, I left the Catholic Church and am looking for some new Gods to worship. Know any you could introduce me to?”

My roommate in college was a non-Christian, much to my Catholic dismay. I went to school at a small, all-women’s Catholic school and was very surprised to find that my roommate was not Christian, let alone not Catholic! Needless to say, she and I butted heads quite a bit! She used to read tarot cards while I read the bible. I secretly think she did it to irritate me, but she’ll never admit it. Over time, I even let her read the cards for me. She was the one who planted the seeds of “organized polytheism” in my head, because a few years later when I left the Church, I kept thinking of her.

It wasn’t until I met a woman who passed through Columbus just long enough to change my entire life that I fully accepted polytheism as a definitive path for me. She was very Wiccan, Dianic, to be exact, in that she believed there to be a Goddess with a male consort God, emphasis on the Goddess as superior. I attended an Imbolc rite with her in honor of Brighid, the Celtic Goddess of the Hearth, Healing, and the Arts, and I can use no other words to describe than life-altering. Not only was I introduced to a format for interacting with the Gods I knew to exist, I was also introduced to a number of other people, real live people with jobs and families, who were serious about their spiritual life and had a world view similar to mine. It was almost like permission to experiment, and the rest is history. That was in February of 2002.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Polytheism and Faith Questionnaire, Part 1

As you know, I have been working the Nine Moons with Ian Corrigan for the last several months. He has us doing habitual journal work that includes taking a factual, non-emotional look at our strengths and weaknesses in what he calls the "Seelie/Unseelie" exercises. In addition, we have been working on creating a personal lineage profile.

When I was asked to give an interview on Polytheism and Faith, I decided to use this opportunity to really look at from where I have come and how I ended up here. The next several installments will be questions from this document.

What is your definition of “polytheism?”

Polytheism is a religious belief that there exists more than one God.

What is your definition of “faith?”

Faith, for me, is confidence in my beliefs about the way the world works. This is not necessarily based on “fact” or “logical proof,” but on personal experience and the value that I place on the things that are important to me in terms of religion and spirituality.

What role do you believe faith plays in your relationship/s with the Goddesses/Gods?

For me, faith is an integral part of my relationships. I know there are many who are agnostics, Jungian/archetypists or even atheists among the pagan community who follow the practices because they find worth in the tradition, but I believe the Gods to be real. I approach them as real beings that can hear and respond to me—that makes a huge difference when contrasted against prayers spoken into the ether.

What is one thing you wish other people understood about polytheism?

I wish other people understood that polytheism is a serious religion. So many people demote my faith to play, theatrics, evil, fancy and even idiocy, completely disregarding my personal experiences and insinuating a low level of intelligence. I am an educated, intelligent woman who has made a well-informed, serious decision to follow the ways of the Ancient Wise. This in no way should take away from the experiences and personal fulfillment of my monotheistic counterparts. I respect and honor their faith, and I would never dream of dismissing their path as inferior to mine. It’s just different. I want nothing from them but the same.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Across the Ninth Wave

Many references have been heard describing items of magic and mystery as coming from “Across the Ninth Wave”, but what does this mean? The “Ninth Wave” is an old seafarer’s expression. It has long been believed that waves at sea become successively larger and larger, reaching higher into the sky and plunging deeper into the dark waters until the most powerful possible force is created: The Ninth Wave. The Ninth Wave is colossal, larger than any wave seen by a man who lived to tell the tale, and unexpected, for there is no way to predict which waves will join forces and merge to become one, more powerful than the sum of its parts. In our age, such waves have been referred to as “rogue waves” for their tendency to appear as though the Gods themselves have blown across the waters with a mighty breath that stirs the very depths of the sea. In terms of Our Druidry, the gifts from the Gods are often sent to us from a place of power so great as to be unreachable and unimaginable without the aid of one powerful enough to master this phenomenal strength. Those of us on the path as seekers, searching for evidence of the Ancient Ways in our Modern Times have felt the call of power from Across the Ninth Wave to a place where the Gods freely roam, where myths are more real than we are and where the roots of magic have plunged into the Earth to mingle with the very waters with which we connect around our fires.

Rees, Alwyn and Rees, Brinley. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1998:39.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Doom of Phaethon

Retold from Ovid, Metamorphosis II

Phaethon was the son of Helios, the Sun God, and a mortal woman, Clymene. Clymene loved her son and always spoke truth to him about the ways of the worlds. He had known of his parentage at a young age, but, as children are wont to do, the others laughed at him and called him a liar when he spoke of his father in the sky.

“Phaethon,” Clymene asked one day when he looked particularly melancholy. “Why do you look so sad?”

“Mother, the other boys laugh when I speak of my father. They do not believe me when I say he is the Sun God!” cried Phaethon. “Are you sure he is really my father?”

“Perhaps, my son,” she said, kindly, “It is time for you to go up to the Palace and ask him for yourself.”

Phaethon knew of the Palace. It was a spectacular place of bright gold and ivory and a myriad of glittering jewels. The relentless radiance of the palace was so great that few ever dared lay eyes upon it in fear of blindness, for mortal eyes can not bear much that is of the gods. Still, determined in his quest, he began the weary climb to the Palace of the Sun.

Up and up he went, pausing more often than he would have liked to shield his eyes and restore his vision. Finally, he came upon the palace and bumbled through the gleaming doors. He had made it but a few paces when he was forced to cease from the brilliance and unerring luminosity of the Sun God upon his throne.

Seeing the lad cowering in the light, for never has there been either darkness or shadow in the palace of the Sun., the Sun God was first to speak.

“Welcome, my boy!” he said, merrily. “Why have you come?”

Mustering up his strength, Phaethon replied as boldly as he could, “I am Phaethon, son of Clymene. My Mother has told me that you are my father, and at her behest, I come seeking the truth so the other children will not laugh at me and think me a fraud.”

With a smile, the Sun God removed his Crown of Magnificent Light so the boy might look upon his face.

“Come to me, Phaethon,” he said. “You are, indeed, my son. Clymene has always told you the truth. I hope you will not doubt my words either. In any case, I will give you the proof you need that you may live a happier and more confident life.”

At the words of the Sun God, Phaethon’s heart filled with pride and joy.

“Phaethon,” said the Sun God. “I will give you anything you want as proof, and I shall swear this as Oath by the River Styx.” For no one can break an oath sworn with Styx as witness. “Name it, Phaethon, and it is yours.”

Phaethon thought back to all those moments when, as a child watching the Sun God make his way through the sky, he longed for his father’s presence and imagined himself high up in the heavens, free from the world below, guiding those majestic steeds across the sky in the fury of flight. His dream unfurled before him as the words of his father resonated in his ears. The choice was clear.

“Father,” said Phaethon. “I wish to drive your chariot across the sky. Just for one day. It is the only thing I have ever truly desired. Let me guide your steeds and bring the light to the world.”

For the first time, the face of the Sun God darkened slightly, though perhaps by an imperceptible amount to the human eye. He realized the boy was too young to be given such responsibility, but was bound by rules not even the Sun God could break. Thus he spoke, “Ah, Phaethon, I know that I am bound to give you whatever your heart desires, for I have sworn by the River of Oaths, but I must warn you before you make up your mind completely against the perils you will face and disperse the fancies that are most likely built up in your head.

“Had I not sworn to yield to your desire, I would have refused you in this alone, for I know the rumors that mortals hold dear. They believe there to be magnificent Kingdoms more brilliant than anything ever seen on Earth and hosts of wonders that could live no where else but in the mortal imagination. I tell you this is false.

“There is no glory in the sky. There is only darkness and dangerous, ferocious beasts who do not like the light. The Bull, The Lion and The Crab are all up there, preying on all that passes them by, and they will try to harm you.

“I tell you now that no mortal could ever drive my chariot and live. No god save me is even capable, including Zeus himself. The road begins in the sea and rises up so steeply that it takes the horses all their strength to climb it. The Midheaven is so high that not even I have the courage to look down upon Gaia from such a height! You will not be able to spend a moment looking toward the Mother Earth, because the great Star Monsters, the Crab, the Bear and the Scorpion are waiting to feast upon you. But the most perilous part of your journey is the deadly descent into the sea. The way down is so steep that even the gods of the Sea wonder at my ability to make it down without falling headfirst into the depths. All this and the horses themselves will fight you most of the way. They are a fierce breed whose spirits grow fiery as they climb causing them to breathe out red-hot flames, and all the more they will struggle against you.

“Please, Phaethon, take a look around you. See you not the wonders that are to behold in the mere throne room? Be persuaded to take a portion from the riches and splendor about you. If none of these words persuades you, think, then, of the fatherly way in which I caution you and fear for your safety while trying to maintain your happiness. Is that not proof enough that I am your father?”

But Phaethon would not be swayed. His heart and his pride were set upon the great chariot, for who would ever doubt him after seeing him control the very course of the Sun!

“Father,” Phaethon strongly replied. “I have chosen, and I believe I have chosen well. I shall take your chariot into the sky at dawn when Eos summons us.”

“Very well,” Replied Helios. He knew that look of determination, for he had worn it himself many times in his youth. Yet Helios knew that he was fully a God, and his son, being a Demigod, did not have the same strength or capacity to heal. “As my final gift to you, Phaethon, my son, I will grant you this,” Helios spoke. He pulled a vial from a drawer in an ornate cabinet and gestured Phaethon to step forward. Helios anointed his son with a magical oil to keep the flames from the chariot and the breath of the horses from burning his mortal flesh.

When Eos came for them, it was a solemn nod she used to alert them to the time. She turned away without a word, but Helios, who knows his sister well, saw the shining tear slip unbidden from her eye as she turned away from her nephew. “Did Phaethon even know of their relation?” Helios pondered as they followed Eos to the stables. “Best to keep the lad focused and introduce them properly—if he made it to the other side.”

As they approached the chariot, Phaethon’s excitement was suddenly equally matched by his fear. The chariot was ornately done in gold and filigree, and it was larger than he had imagined, far larger. His head barely crested the wheel before him. And the horses! Terrible and beautiful, they were the most magnificent horses he had ever seen! The white steeds were already chomping at their bits, waiting a simple word to release the anticipation holding back their desire to run.

“This is your last chance to change your mind,” Helios remarked, though he had given up hope of swaying the boy. So small, his son. So, so small.

“Thank you for your concern, Father, but I must stand by my word, just as you have stood by yours,” and with that, Phaethon heaved himself up into the chariot and took the reigns.

Barely audible, Eos told Helios that the time had come. With a moment’s hesitation, he spoke the word of power that commanded the horses, and away they flew.

The initial jolt of the horses as they began to move nearly pulled Phaeton out of the chariot, but he managed to regain his footing. The horses were beginning to glow, first yellow, then orange and finally red like the fire that began to flare from their nostrils in their effort to run straight up into the sky. The heat from their breath was nothing, however, to the blaze of the sun behind him as it emerged from the watery storage pool.

Higher and higher they climbed; faster and faster, they ran. As they began to arc out over the land, Phaethon realized that he had made it past the ascent and his confidence returned. He was the Son of Helios, God of the Sun, and in that moment, his heart was full and complete. But his weak hand caused the horses to veer along their course. They traveled too low and turned much of Africa to dessert.

The horses were taking him higher still, too high to see the land below. At the peak of the climb, the Earth was but a speck below him. No man on Gaia’s vast plains could see it was he driving this chariot. So high had they traveled that much of the Earth became vastly cold and frozen in the North. But Phaethon could not focus on the ground. Before him loomed the starry monsters his father warned would be waiting to slash at him. He was slashed with Bear claws, nearly pierced by Scorpion stinger and lost his helmet to a Crab pincher. But still he lived, and still the horses flew through the sky.

As the descent began, the momentum became more than he could bear. With the weight of the chariot behind them, the horses surged forward taken wider strides and blowing more and more flames toward the singeing Phaethon. The magical oil was wearing off! In his pain, Phaethon loosed his grip upon the reigns and the chariot began to rock left to right, left to right, as a boat thrown on the waves. Soon they were zigzagging across the sky with the sun bouncing behind them, coming closer and closer to the land below. The people of Earth began to scream and cower as the sun threatened to fall on them. Their skin became darkened as the sun drew their blood to the surface. Poseidon waved his trident at the sun for the rivers and streams that fed the sea had dried up, but soon the heat was too much for him, and even Poseidon dove to the depths of the sea to escape the fiery death falling from the sky.

Zeus, alerted to the commotion, saw that the boy was giving the horse’s erratic directions as he pulled the reigns back and forth to maintain his balance causing the horses to run in a wild pattern across the sky. Knowing all things about the Order of the World, Zeus snapped a lighting bolt to life in his hand and cast it at the unsuspecting Phaethon. The bolt hit him square in the chest, and as he fell, he heard the gasps and cries of the Sea Nymphs who had been waiting in the West for their landing. He was dead before he hit the water. The horses, now free from the boy’s erratic directions, began to run a straight course to their usual destination, and Chaos was no more the ruler of that day. When the chariot hit the ground, the sun made a great splash into the sea, washing Phaethon’s body onto the shore.

The Sea Nymphs carefully surrounded him and sang, lamenting over his body. Eos gathered him to herself and placed him in his father’s vessel, which carried him home to Helios’ palace. For days, Helios refused his duties for three days as he mourned his son, and the world was plunged into darkness, further confusing the events that had taken place in the minds of the mortals. The Olympians visited Helios and begged him to return the light to the world. In anger, Helios blamed Zeus, “You killed my son! My son, Zeus!”

Zeus replied, “Helios, there was no other way. If I had not intervened, your son would have killed the Children of the Earth. As it is, nothing will ever be the same for them again. It was a sacrifice I had to make to save the fate of man. The Gods need man to believe in us. It is the Order of the World. Without man, the Gods are dead.”

Helios sighed as the words sank into his heart and he knew them for truth. Just before Eos came to greet him, Helios burned a headstone for his son:

Here lies Phaethon who drove the Sun-God’s Car
Greatly he failed, but greatly he dared.

There he sat until Eos, who had lost a son of her own in battle, came to greet him with the promise of a new day. With one final look upon the grave of his son, Helios, God of the Sun, took up the reigns of his Chariot and restored the light to the world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil, The Mighty Ash, stands as the Axis of the Worlds, connecting the nine realms with branches so vast as to spread out over all of creation, crowned high beyond the heavens. High upon these lofty branches sits an Eagle who keeps watch over all things from his vantage. Among the branches, the deer and goats leap freely and eat of the fresh shoots continuously generated by this Tree of Life. Yggdrasil’s roots delve down into the depths of the worlds, one in each of the three levels of creation. The first root sinks into Asgard under the Well of Urd, the Well of Fate, guarded by the Norns, the weavers of Wyrd, fate and Orlog, destiny. The second root bores through Jotunheimr, the realm of the giants, under the Spring of Mimir wherein lies Mimir’s head, the font of Wisdom, and Heimdall’s horn. The third plunges deep into Niflheim under the Spring of Hvergelmir, the source of the eleven rivers, where the dragon Nidhogg gnaws at its roots. A great squirrel, Ratatosk, spends his days traveling the length of the great tree, carrying insults from Eagle to Dragon and freely moving between the worlds with ease. Yggdrasil offers balance between death and rebirth, for just as new shoots are born continuously, they are eaten continuously to nourish all beings. The World Tree caretakers, the Norns, Urd, Skuld and Verdandi sustain the tree through their healing touch, drawing waters and clay from the Well of Fate as a salve for the wounds of men upon the Tree of Life. Yggdrasil, rooted deep. Yggdrasil, crowned high. Yggdrasil, the source of strength and support, connects the realms and stands as the center of the World and of our ritual space.

Crossley-Holland, Kevin. The Norse Myths. NY: Pantheon Books, 1980:xxii.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Omphalos

The Omphalos Stone, The Navel of the Earth, marks the center of the world, the axis around which the realms are ordered. Zeus, in his magnificent wisdom and power, sent his eagles to fly, one from each end of the earth, toward the center, and the point at which they met he marked with this great stone—at the sacred site of Delphi. Around this great stone, the people built a Temple to Apollo, and above the stone itself, a tripod stool was placed. Upon this stool would sit the Oracular Priestess, skilled at trance and a perfect vessel for the Gods, who would deliver divine prophecy straight from the Gods themselves through the power of the stone. When we create our Sacred Center in ritual space, around which we (re)create the cosmos, we place our stone at the base of the Tree, whose roots run deep into the Earth to mingle with the Waters coursing with Underworld power, and crowned high to touch the very Fires of Inspiration and heavenly power in the realm above. We anoint this stone with the oils suitable for offering to the Gods and allow the stone to open the way before us that we, too, may become vessels filled with the power and wisdom of the Otherworldly Beings and bringing these gifts to the folk and to the land. The Omphalos Stone, The Navel of the World, The Arcana Mundi, the axis of the Sacred Center through which we connect to the Otherworlds is the heart of our sacred space.

Zaidman, Louise Bruit, and Pantel, Pauline Schmitt. Trans. Religion in the Ancient Greek City. Trans. Cartledge, Paul. Cambridge University Press. NY: 1989:202.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Baucis and Philemon

Retold from Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII

Long ago, when the realms of Gods and humankind were not so separated by the veil, Jupiter and Mercury had quite a debate regarding the selfish and sometimes unkind nature developing among the people, for it seemed they were forgetting the very basis of all relationships: hospitality. Xenia, hospitality, was arguably the most important of virtues, a perfect reflection of the theoxenia, the hospitality that exists between the folk and the Gods. Mercury was insistent that the people were growing increasingly self-centered, caring little for the wants and needs of others, but Jupiter held a ray of optimism, for he had seen great kindness in their hearts during his adventures among them. Mercury proposed that the two should visit the people and see for themselves the state of their hearts.

Disguised as simple peasant-folk, Jupiter and Mercury descended to Earth and began seeking refuge among the people of Phrygia. The first house visited was ornately decorated with columns and surrounded by a luxurious landscape of exotic plants and lavish gardens. Before they reached the front door, they were intercepted and returned to the street—and not quite as gently as they would have liked! The second house was equally as elaborate, though smaller and seemingly more inviting. However, the Gods were met with similar treatment and shown not an ounce of kindness.

On they walked through the village, with door after door slamming in their faces, their bellies left empty and their bodies taking on a chill. Finally, the two came upon the house of Baucis and Philemon. It was a rustic cottage, simple but cozy. When Jupiter and Mercury knocked on their door, Baucis and Philemon took pity on their state and immediately brought them in from the weather, offering them what food and wine they could spare. They shared pleasant conversation over their meals, and before long, Baucis noticed that although she had filled their glasses several times, the pitcher remained full, and the wine was sweeter and richer than ever before.

Philemon, noticing that his wife had frozen in place staring at the wine pitcher, inquired if she was feeling well. In a hurried whisper, she replied, “The Gods have come among us!” Philemon and Baucis raised their hands in supplication and apologized for their simple home and fair. Philemon immediately thought of slaughtering their goose to make a proper meal for the Gods, but when he went to catch it, it ran into Jupiter’s lap for safety and set the God to laughing.

“Philemon,” Jupiter replied. “There is no need to slaughter this fine goose. Your hospitality has been plentiful. It is not how much you give with your hands that is most important. It is what you give with your heart.” Jupiter sighed. “I wish I could say as much for the others we have met along our way. I am going to destroy this city and all the people who turned their backs on us. In reward for your generosity, I give you these instructions that you may be spared. You must climb the mountain with me as far as an arrow can shoot in one pull and not turn back until we reach the top.”

The four set off up the mountain in silence. Baucis and Philemon were disturbed by the sudden claps of thunder and rushing water behind them, but they never turned from their path. A single tear fell down Baucis’ cheek as she fought to suppress the sense of loss that overwhelmed her, though she, too, had felt the sting of the selfish nature of her neighbors. Once they reached the summit and were permitted to turn round, they saw a sight both disastrous and magnificent to behold. The town had been destroyed by a great flood, but where their humble cottage once sat there was now an ornate temple.

“Baucis, Philemon, because you still hold sacred the virtue of hospitality, I will grant you one wish,” said Jupiter.

“Thank you for your great kindness,” replied Philemon. “My desire is only that my Baucis and I be permitted to stay together forever. When the time comes for one of us to leave this place, I wish the other will make the journey, as well, that we may enter the afterlife hand-in-hand.” Jupiter saw the sparkle in Baucis’ eyes as she gazed at her husband, basking in his love for her and knew her wish to be the same.

“Very well!” Jupiter exclaimed with a clap of his hands. “I hereby appoint you as the Guardians of this temple for all of your days. When your time has come to pass on from this world, you shall pass as one.” And with that they were gone.

The couple spent the remainder of their days keeping the temple in proper shape, providing shelter, food and companionship for all those who entered their space. They worked hard, but their stores were never low and their hearts were never fuller. When their time in the mortal realm had reached an end, they walked out into the deserted boggy terrain where they were transformed into an intertwining pair of trees, one Oak and one Linden, to remain in one another’s arms for all time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Working the Nine Moons

Looking back at the First Moon, it wasn't as bad as I thought. My notes show some good detail, and I am getting into a rhythm of devotional, meditation/trance and habitual offerings.

I purchased a few new items for my altar, and I am looking forward to using them in ritual when the last one arrives.

The main thing I've taken away from this first month is that it's okay to be random. Some days, a simple charm upon rising and a few words of offering to the Kindred are enough. Other days, a full rite of blessings is in order. It doesn't have to be this rigid, unmoving cinderblock in your life, this whole spirituality bit. It should be moveable, flexible, able to breathe with you. The key is to consistently do *something.* That something, though, is totally up to me.  There isn't a right or wrong, and other people's opinions of how I lead my spiritual life are just that--other people's opinions. What I need to focus on is my relationship with the Kindred and work from there.

Not a bad start. I will update after the end of the Third Moon when the vision and trance work begins in full force.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Equinox Rite to Idunna and Eostre

Once more, a lovely rite prepared by the lovely AG, who also ended up DIC for the rite.

Today, we gathered to honor Idunna, Goddess of the Golden Apples of Immortality and Eostre, Goddess of the Spring.

We entered ritual space to the beat of drums instead of a processional song. The drumming carried on throughout the entire rite, and I was very pleased with the effect, though I admit i wasn't sure how it would play out beforehand. We had some talented Drummers and Druids doing this working of maintaining the energy and turning the Wheel of the Year with it. Very well done!

The main offerings were done in two parts. We began with praise offerings of stories told by me and AG regarding the origins of the fair Goddesses. Then, the charming uberrod and the lovely skylark913 did the main Deity invitations and tangible offerings. We also offered pictures and apples that the children had colored during preritual social hour. Of note, my son, Patrick, who is the most amazing Eldest Minion ever, sat with Timmy and drew a picture of a "Butterfinger Flower." My instructions were to make "something Spring-y" so Timmy would copy him and color a picture, as well. It was just as it sounds: a butterfinger candy bar with petals and a stem growing in a field under a huge yellow sun. ♥ Patrick also spent the entire rite trying to keep Timmy occupied and safe so I could sing and participate as best I could. He never ceases to amaze me in his capacity to love and care for Timmy. He's going to make a spectacular father someday, if he decides to have children.

I found it rather sweet that Inspiration happened to be forgotten at the forefront of the rite, and I am inclined to think that it was as it was supposed to be. Why would Bragi not want to be called at the same time his fair wife was to be honored? It definitely made me think more about the nature of their relationship and who Bragi is, in general. I feel like I will soon be compelled to write. (Imagine that!)

Our Omens were excellent! AG pulled to see if our offerings were accepted and drew Mannaz, yes.

Then, each of the folk who honored the Kindred pulled one Rune in turn.
tanrinia pulled from the Ancestors: Algiz, the Elk. Protection and Guidance.
_crow365__ pulled from the Nature Spirits: Isa, Contemplation and Rest after a hard winter.
seamus_mcnasty pulled from the Shining Ones: Sowilo, the Sun, Success!

Taken together, we are free to relax after a long winter and think on the events and lessons from the dark, wintery months. As we move forward, we will be guided and protected along the way toward our success in the seasons ruled by the sun. Very good omens for a Spring Equinox after so many of the folk had such a rough winter!

During the Blessing of the Waters and on through the remainder of the rite, we were slowly joined by a group of what appeared to be Turkey Vultures. It seems the Nature Spirits approved of our rite today. :)

seamus_mcnasty regaled us with a song during the Waters that made my heart happy. Well done, Seamus!

After the rite, I obtained a small cup of the Waters from the horn at Sumble and did some instruction at the table with Eldest Minion and Girl Minion regarding Sumble etiquette and procedure. Jessie spoke over the horn, "Hail all the Goddesses!" And then she chugged. Patrick said, "I feel bad about those people who aren't alive anymore, and I miss them, so yeah, um hail." And then he sipped. Such vastly different children. I took the final portion and hailed AG, because she is awesome and does so much for me that I cannot express my thanks to her enough.

Overall, this was a very nice ritual, despite my post-third-shift, lack-of-sleep state. I had combined this rite with the Retreat Day for the Nine Moons, and the entire day has definitely left me with a lot to ponder. Happy Spring, Everyone!

Monday, March 7, 2011

And so it begins...

I began the Nine Moons training on Saturday, and it didn't go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. I knew it wouldn;t be easy, since everyone was home, but I did my best to keep the schedule. I broke my retreat day into two days, because I worked third-shift on Saturday night.

The morning charm is lovely. I will be rewriting it for use on days when I am going to bed as the sun rises. I like the additions I have made to my shrine, and the offering incense recipe has me excited.

Right now, I need to get through the rest of this week and turn in my homework. After my final exam on Monday, I will be graduating from the University of Cincinnati with my Bachelor's Degree. Awesomeness.