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.