Wednesday, December 21, 2022

A Winter Solstice Blessing

As the wheel turns round toward the darkest part of the year, 
As the Mother sleeps and all is cold,
We are reminded that it is the darkness framing the light that allows us to notice its brightness.
Waning light descending into night
Hear the words we offer to you
During this time of transformation.

Carry our worries and hardships of the past year with you into the darkness,
And free us from the past that we may move freely into the new year unburdened.
Waxing light ascending into the heavens once more, 
Having been grounded and freed from those burdens of the past, 
Be cleansed as you leave the bosom of the Earth,
Made whole and holy once more,
Renewing each of us as your healing rays rain down upon us
In streams of Awen for transformation, inspiration, and creativity.

Returning Light, may you be a beacon of hope, of promise, and of good luck in the year to come.
Solstice blessings!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Prayer to The Denizens of the Cosmos

I watched "Good Night Oppy" with Rev. William the other day, and I was utterly inspired. After spending hours combing through photos from the James Webb Telescope, this documentary opened my heart even more to the forces of Order and Chaos that swirl about in space. So many of the images seem to have hands, fingers, faces. I cannot help but feel in my heart that the Divine--a word we use to describe that which is far bigger, more eternal, and yet affecting us here in the middle realm--is tangibly real. During #PrayerADay, I wanted to say a prayer to those beings, far beyond our comprehension and millions of lightyears away, to let them know I see them and know they are there. 

Denizens of the Cosmos,
We seek for you still. 
We sought for you when we charted
the movement of the stars. 
We sought you when we configured watch glasses to allow us to see further into the night sky. 
We sought you with telescopes, satellites, and rockets launched into space,
And we seek you still. 
One thing is certain, 
We seek and will keep seeking,
Because we know in our heart-of-hearts that 
We are not alone. 

Photo Credit: NASA James Webb Telescope
Pillars of Creation (NIRCam and MIRI Composite Image)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

2022 Prayer a Day Challenge

 For 2022, I am participating the November #PrayerADay challenge. For the entire month of November, I have committed to write a prayer a day that aligns with my vocation as a priest and my path as a pagan. 

One of my prayers this month was to the Spirit of Inspiration (see text below). This prayer is meaningful to me as an example of my internal call to those powers that grant us inspired words for prayers, writing, speaking, and creating more formal works such as poetry and song in praise of the Kindreds. 

May these words bring inspiration to your works and your hearts!

Image of the rosy dawn on the front range rocky mountains:

We call to those who bring us inspiration. 
As we seek to create, to bring into life new works of art, of song, of speech, of kitchen craft, 
We make offerings to you.
Inspire our minds with plans for our works.
Plant the seeds of songs and poems in our hearts.
Grant us ideas for writing, for speaking, for building.
Guide our senses to new tastes and scents,
And open our hearts to share what we have created
That we may share this joy with those around us. 
Hail to thee, bringers of Inspiration!
Hail to thee, guiders of intellect!
Hail to thee, whose strength and dexterity blesses our hands.
Beings of Creativity, we honor you.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Praying to Hel

I recently had the privilege of attending a local Heathen Kindred's Helsblot. We gathered for feasting and fellowship beforehand, sharing recipes from those we have loved. The Gothi (Heathen Priest) reminded us of the importance of relationship with the Goddess of the Underworld, since despite her relevance to each of us who will not die in battle, she still remains a figure of contention among Heathen folk. I can understand the desire to want distance from her father, Loki, another hotly contentious member of the pantheon; however, as much as we strive not to be held accountable for the "sins" of our own fathers, I find it interesting that folks shun her for events in which she took no part. The Gothi reminded us that when Baldr was slain, Hela was already in Helheim. She played no part in his death. She was even willing to allow him to return if all living things would weep for him. Despite her best efforts, her father ruined it and refused to weep for Baldr in the guise of an old woman.

I have long had a relationship with Hela, and I find no ill feelings in that space save what I bring with me. Death and grief are difficult for human brains and heart attached to our loved ones with such ferocity and depth, and yet she remains still and unwavering in the face of our most unbridled outbursts of anguish. 

Today, I offer you this prayer to Hel that you may see her through eyes that have looked into her face and found nothing but acceptance and truth, even if cold. May she bring stillness to hearts in mourning during this time when the Ancestors are most near.

The Children of Askr and Embla call out to The Mother of Bones, 
To the Lady of Tears, the Goddess of Rot and Decay. 
Lady Hela, Goddess of the Underworld, we honor you. 

As our loved ones pass from this realm, we lay our burdens at your feet, 
Our grief, our sorrow, our pain, and our anger— 
All fitting offerings—for you know well the love from which they are borne. 

We offer you our honor and respect 
As the caregiver and provider of our beloved ancestors. 
The Legions of the Dead will always be free from hunger and thirst at your table. 

We bring our fears of the unknown and look into your eyes, 
Eyes of both life and of death, 
To find our courage and the strength to face what is yet to come. 

Goddess of Death and Keeper of Souls, 
We ask that our suffering be limited when our threads reach their end. 
If there must be pain, may your death-blow be swift. 
If a swift death is not possible, may we be surrounded by those we love to ease our passing. 
And if we must leave this realm alone, may our death be one worthy of memory. 

When we take our steps across the Gjallar Bridge to meet you, 
We shall bow our heads in reverence at your hospitable welcome after a life well-lived. 
Hail to thee, Lady Hel!

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Hanging Portraits of the Dead

When I first began the work of building an Ancestor practice back in 2008, the idea of connecting to some of my dead was...unappealing. There are folks in my life who caused me great pain when they were alive, and the veil between us brought me a sense of comfort, of safety. Part of the work of the ADF Dedicant Path is to connect to all three Kindreds, and without this important breakthrough, I knew I would be unable to complete it. 

Fast forward to today, I now have a strong Ancestor practice; in fact, it is probably the most consistent and deeply intimate part of my personal shrine work--and it is much easier to engage with because of our Ancestor Box practice. 

Developed by Three Cranes Grove, ADF, the Ancestors Box is a place where mementos, photos, obituaries, small items that they once owned, etc., are stored for eleven months of the year. The moon service prior to Ancestors Night, or Samhain, holds significance as the evening the box is opened. For the duration of a moon cycle, we take out our mementos, photos, obituaries and trinkets to commune with those who have gone before us, to tell their stories, and to remember their names that they may live on. Then, on the moon rite after Ancestors Night, the box is closed. 

Leapfrogging through time with the Ancestors this way provides opportunities to engage with their stories in a healthy way. There are boundaries to engaging in this work, a clear end point, and the knowledge that we are the ones in "control" of the interactions. While not all Ancestors will require this level of planning and coordination, when it is necessary, the work becomes manageable and even fruitful. There may be certain Ancestors we never work with because of what they broke when they were yet alive, and those are personal decisions we each have to make. We now follow this tradition here at Mountain Ancestors Grove, ADF.

Since I began my Ancestor work in 2008, I have muddled through my grief, my frustration, my anger, my resentment, my disappointment, and the death of the hope I carried that things between me and some of my relatives be made right: I had to accept that none of them were ever going to say, "I'm sorry." Just, oof.

I've had many more of my relatives pass away since then, as well, and I've continued to add them to the box and do the annual work of engaging in their memories, our relationships, and my healing through it all. At our home, we have the main Ancestor Shrine for our family's dead as well as an Ancestors Wall on the main shrine where we place the photos of members of the community who have passed. Up until today, the wall behind our family shrine has held only one photo of my dead: that of my father. Managing my grief process and reconciliation after his death was HARD. Much existed between us that was left unsaid, since he took his life through intentional overdose. Having his picture up was a mark of the work we did together after his passing, and I am grateful to him for many life lessons that have made me a better person. 

I have been resistant to hanging other photos, even though I have so many more relatives to place on our family tree of the dead. My husband already has everyone up, including folks with whom living relationships were difficult, and despite the slight pang of guilt I felt with additional photo (internal guilt, he's been great about it), I have never been motivated to add more photos to my side of the wall. 

A few weeks ago, my mother's biological mother, Ursula von Stephen, passed away at the age of 89. I found out through Facebook, and my mother and her family were left off the obituary. They've never been a part of my life, so I harbor no ill will toward them for the oversight. It is one more reflection of the vast chasm between us despite our shared blood. Interestingly, Ursula's passing sparked within me a desire to preserve our part her story. Reading the obituary shows that her connection to us will not live on without intentionality. My aunt posted some lovely photos, and I printed one for the wall. Her name, and her connection to those who come after me, will live on though us.

However, this presented me with a conundrum: I have other relatives that should already be on the wall! Their names began floating before me: Shirley Lou Caniff, my grandmother. Edward H Caniff, Sr, my grandfather. Deborah Ellen Burchfield, my mother-in-law. Paul Milton Burchfield, my father-in-law. These are my BELOVED dead, folks whose influence and love marked me in too many positive ways to count. Was I really entertaining putting up my estranged grandmother before I added them to the wall?

Well, yes, of course I was. We were estranged, which meant it was safe to put her up. My dad was up there, because I did the work to bring myself healing. My estranged grandmother doesn't require work, because I have long been at peace with our arrangement. My paternal grandparents and my in-laws--now that stings. Their loss still wells up within me, and keeping my grief locked away in the Ancestors Box for eleven months a year was enabling me to nurse my grief rather than allowing true healing to descend (read that again if that resonated with you). I have spent so much of my time focusing on how to work through the death of folks with whom I was not in right relationship that I took for granted how much work is still required when there are peace and love between us. 

For me, and I suspect for all of us, we have a tendency to assume we only need to engage with intentionality when we have a wound that must be healed. When someone who has wronged us passes away, we are the sole party left in the relationship who is capable of bringing the peace that comes with true closure. After crossing the River of Forgetfulness, the Ancestors do not hurl insults or angry threats at us. All of that negative talk lies within us and lives on in the memories we carry of our time together when they were alive. When the memories of those who have hurt us are invited to the table, we are the ones who bring fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and the shadows of all we have been through with us. So, we do the work to guard our hearts and heal our spirits. And, those whom we loved dearly who depart with our blessings for safe passage to the Otherworld deserve our intentionality, too. 

Today, my husband helped me hang their portraits, and I wept. It was a brief spurt of tears as their faces staring back at me reminded me of what I have lost in them. Now, I begin to complete the work of filling in the cracks in my heart left behind by their passing with gold. May their memories always be a blessing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Summerland Gathering 2022 Festival Review

I am home after attending the Summerland Gathering 2022 held August 18-August 21 in Clifton Gorge near Yellow Springs, Ohio. Each day was filled with food, workshops, rituals, and thematic evening events bringing us together to share meals, to share knowledge, to pray together, and to play together. May this review provide a glimpse into the event in such a way that all who read these words who were unable to attend feel connected to the folk on site. 

Summerland 2022 was more of a homecoming for me than anything else. As a former Crane, attending a festival hosted by Three Cranes Grove provided space to reconnect with previous grovemates and longtime friends (who now live 1250 miles from my new home in Colorado among the Magpies) in service to the folk—just like old times.  This was also the first in-person event many of us have attended since the COVID lockdown in February of 2020. Needless to say, our emotions flowed like waves throughout the weekend, anxiety giving way to joy only to bubble up on occasion when proximity to others reminded us our faces were bare. Despite the spectacular amount of planning and preparation done by our hosts and chief organizer, we had some hiccups, and while it may not have unfolded as planned on paper, it turned out to be the festival that we all needed. 

The festival began on Thursday with a shared meal, and what a significant and meaningful beginning it was! After years of isolation and nothing but virtual contact, the breaking of bread among community broke open the seeds of healing in our hearts and minds. We shared an afternoon of workshops, greeting guests as they trickled in, and gathered for the opening ritual that evening. The power of shared voices, in person voices, echoed across the gorge as we sang out our praise and made offerings together. The unscripted nature of the service allowed us to hear the words of our fellow devoted without the polish of more a formal ritual setting, reminding us of the roots we share in Our Druidry. I will not soon forget the impact of this beautiful rite. Music and revelry went deep into the night as our reluctance to part from one another held us by the fire. 

Friday opened with a planning session for the evening’s Community Ritual. We ended with a loose outline for an extensive working whose goal was to facilitate the release of all we’ve held onto during these months of isolation and opening ourselves in healthy and wise ways to the unfolding of our new normal. We used all-natural yarn in the shape of a pentacle to hold that which we would release and placed the yarn on the fire to burn away our ties to that which would hold us back. We then connected everyone present to a circle, unbroken and woven through us, to fill the void with intentions of community, compassion, and connection.  

A note on the “new normal:” There are many among us who lived their lives in isolation due to personal circumstances be they illness, immune system function, or any of a host of disabilities hat require time and energy to manage and leave little “spoons” for anything else. These last two years gave us all the insight and real-life experience of what it feels like to walk in these folks’ shoes, the competing desire and inability to connect with people, the burn-out from virtual meetings, the weariness of text messages as our only outlet making it impossible to bring ourselves to reply. All of these have been “normal” for these members of our community. As we move toward connecting in person, it becomes paramount that we not forget to integrate those whose needs are equally as great but whose barriers often feel insurmountable. Remember in our bones how this pandemic time has affected us, Children of Earth, and allow those experiences to keep our work grounded in accessibility and understanding moving forward.

Friday night’s Gender-Affirming Prom brought laughter and joy as we danced and took pictures with the soundtrack of our collective youths playing in the background [as a personal note, I sometimes forget the differences in age among us, and the number of songs the, uh, ‘more mature’ crowd didn’t know made a point of reminding us]. Afterwards, we again stayed long into the night to enjoy one another’s company. 

Saturday morning held space for the remaining workshops. Over the course of the festival, I was only able to attend about half of what was offered. The ones I attended gave us hours of additional conversation, carrying on into meal times and arising for us in later hours after we’d had time to internalize the lessons. We had a full schedule, and there was too much great programming to do everything. I encourage those who presented to continue to share their work at additional events!

The Main Rite was particularly meaningful for me, because I was elevated to Senior Priest. Rev. Jean Drum Pagano was able to make time to come down and perform the ceremony himself, and I am grateful for his assistance in this work. We ended up holding the rite in the pavilion due to the EPIC RAIN that blessed us during the service (well, I did hope for a good “Ohio Thunderstorm,” and I cannot complain when my wishes are granted—and it was pretty amazing!). Rev. Jan Avende led a beautiful service, and I feel blessed for having my elevation as a part of it. 

After potluck, we had a “karaoke style” bardic night where we listened to many spoken word pieces this year. I had the honor of helping with the raffle last minute, and I enjoyed riffing off this with Emerald, who needed constant reminding not to pick a rock out of the ticket bags (I mean, I thought it was funny…). We ended the evening once more refusing to go to our respective beds to prolong the fellowship and camaraderie. 

At the risk of oversharing and immortalizing this part of the festival, I find it important to share that we had folks dropping out of social spaces one by one due to a later-confirmed-as norovirus that swept through camp. This serves as a stark reminder that all the other viruses and bacteria in the world have waited patiently for us to return to social spaces where they flourish. As different folks with different jobs were taken out of commission, those of us who remained unaffected stepped in to help. By Sunday morning for festival closure, we were all-hands-on-deck, and in that moment, I couldn’t be more proud of our folk for showing up to get the work done and care for one another. While something like this has the potential to overshadow all the GOOD that this festival offered to us, seeing that even a “throw-up flu” couldn’t diminish our determination and commitment to service confirmed more than ever that I belong to ADF as an ADF Druid, for here I stand among those who purposes align with mine: to love the land, to serve the folk, and to honor the deities.

Overall, this was a terrific event, and I wish many blessings of health, well-being, fellowship, and connection to all who were in attendance and all who wish to attend in the future. May our eyes meet many times in the future across the fire.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Prayer to My Allies, Elevation Service

I have landed upon some language based on the words that live in my heart for each of the Beings I name in these prayers. These are the chief allies among the Kindreds, and it brings me honor to share these words I have written on their behalf:

I first call to the Lady of the Hall, to Freyja of the Vanir,
Mistress of the chosen, honored dead,
Brising-Magic Maiden of Seidhr and Foresight,
Strongest and Most Courageous of Women, Valkyrie, Mardoll, 
Falcon-cloaked weeper of gold, I honor you.
I thank you for teaching me to trust in my own abilities.
I thank you for teaching me the strength of empathy and tears.
I thank you for teaching me the importance 
of self-compassion and confidence,
And I offer my gratitude and continued awe for joining me in the work of serving the folk.
Lady Freyja, accept my offering!

I call out to the Goddess of the Crossroads, to Hekate, 
Brimo Trimorphos, Daughter of Astaria and Perses,
Enodia, Propylaia, Antaia,
Torch-Bearing Maiden of Land, Sea, and Sky, I honor you.
I thank you for opening the ways before me.
I thank you for guarding my back as you journey alongside me.
I thank you for guiding me along the paths of Our Druidry toward fellowship and magic,
And I offer my gratitude and continued awe for joining me in the work of serving the folk.
Hekate Phosphorus, Nata Thektis! Hekate, accept my offering!

I call out to Lady Brighid by many of her names:
Brighid of the Mantle, Brighid of the Cowless,
Brighid of the Healing Waters, Brighid of the Forgefire,
Birghid of the Harp and Quill, Brighid of Initiation and Prophecy,
Brighid, Sacred Midwife and Foster Mother, I honor you.
I thank you for granting inspiration and creativity, O Cauldron of Wonder.
I thank you for teaching me the magic of healing and vitality, O Well of Wisdom.
I thank you for the gifts of transformation and becoming, O Keeper of the Sacred Flame,
And I offer my gratitude and continued awe for joining me in the work of serving the folk.
Lady Brighid, accept my offering!

I call out to the Earth Mother, our foundation and strength, Great Nurturer and Sustainer,
She who upholds us and provides for all our needs;

I call out to the Ancient Wise, the Poets, Magicians, and Priests of Old,
Those who long ago forged the paths I now tread;

And I call out to the Gatekeepers, the Keepers of Keys, 
Openers of Ways, Guides and Guardians of the Ways Between,
Those who aid us in finding our place among the realms.

You are my chief allies among the Kindreds:
You have humbled and strengthened me.
You have guided and warded me.
You have burned and purified me.
You have remained by my side as I have striven to do the Work of the Wise.
For all your aid, I offer my full honor and thanks.
Allies, Kindreds All, accept my offerings!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Litany of ADF Elevated Priests

Many are the names of those who have been elevated before me, and many are the gifts they have left us along the way:
  • Rev. John Fox Adelman, Keeper of the Sacred Flame, who taught us the rewards of study;

  • Rev. Isaac Bonewits, Founder and Visionary, who gave the gift of our Sacred Fire to the community at large;

  • Rev. Ian Corrigan, Magician, Musician, and Liturgist, who taught us reverence through sacred music and the power of words;

  • Rev. Robert Skip Ellison, Historian and Scholar of Secret Languages, who brought others together when division threatened our leadership;

  • Rev. Earrach Canali, Keeper of Sacred Time, who taught us the lore of the moon and the power of a captured moment;

  • Rev. Bryan Perrin, Sacred Artist, who deepened our connection to the Natural World;

  • Rev. Kirk Thomas, Sacred Architect and Master of Ritual Theater, who taught us presence: to stand in our power on the stage of the world as we speak our praise to the Kindreds;

  • Rev. Michael J Dangler, Master of Liturgy and Piety, who taught us the power of intention and simplicity such as that of a single flame as meaningful ways to connect to the divine and to one another;

  • Rev. Jessie Olson, Nonprofit Scholar, who brought professional influence to our administration.

  • Rev. Jean Drum Pagano, Diviner and Poet, whose prose connected us to nature;  

  • Rev. Carrion Mann, Devoted of the Ancestors, who taught us the power of honoring our roots and those who have gone before us;

  • Rev. Ayliah Cannon, Creative Spirit and Humanitarian, who built bridges in the greater spiritual community;

  • Rev. Robert Lewis, Siedhr Worker and Mentor, who taught us to use the power of our minds to connect to the Kindreds.

  • Rev. Christopher Temple, Diviner and Fire Priest, who taught us the fruits of perseverance;

  • Rev. Gwernin Grove, Scholar, Master Storyteller and Bard, who taught us the depth and relevance of ancient lore made new; and

  • Rev. Amber Doty, Community Builder, who fostered fellowship among Solitaries and across distances to bring far-flung folk to the fire.
These are those whose footsteps fell before mine on this path.
These are those whose lights and lessons have guided my way.
These are those with whom I now stand as I take my place among them
To continue to love the land, to serve the folk, and to honor the deities 
As a Senior Priest of Ár nDraíocht Féin.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

What are you known for?

 As part of the elevation ceremony for ADF, the candidate for Senior Priest lists off all the Senior Priest elevated before them with a short description of their contributions to ADF. 

As of this writing, the list of priests* who have been elevated before me totals 13.I have had the privilege of meeting all of these individuals in person, and not everyone has this blessing available to them as reference for creating this piece.

This exercise has provoked quite a bit of reflecting on what I have brought to the org. After my elevation, those after me will include my name in this list of folks, and I am pretty sure the one thing they will list as my primary contribution will be liturgical music. This definitely confirms my understanding of the unseen nature of "boring writing" and how undervalued this important work can be. It also created feelings of...inadequacy? in relationship to the other work I do. I need to sit with this for a while and find my peace.

I don't know a lot about all of these folks, and I make up part of this work is to invite relationship between myself and the other Senior Priests. I am planning to reach out to each of them, because I am interested in what they would say about themselves. How does one go about reducing themselves to a bulleted list of accomplishments?

Here is what I would say at this time about the Senior Priests of ADF:
  • Rev. John ‘Fox’ Adelmann - completed the "Super Druid" study program. Sacred Fire Priests
  • Rev. Isaac Bonewits - Vision of public, mainstream paganism made reality
  • Rev. Jeffrey ‘Ian Corrigan’ Wyndham - Magician, Musician, and Liturgist
  • Rev. Robert ‘Skip’ Ellison - Historian and Scholar
  • Rev. Eric ‘Earrach’ Canali - Keeper of Sacred Music and Time
  • Rev. Bryan Perrin - Creator of Sacred Art
  • Rev. Kirk Thomas - Sacred Architect and Master of Ritual Mechanics and Theater
  • Rev. Michael J Dangler - Master Liturgist and Social Media Content Creator
  • Rev. Jessie Olson - Nonprofit Awareness
  • Rev. Jean ‘Drum’ Pagano - Diviner and Poet
  • Rev. Kelly ‘Carrion Mann’ Kingston - Senior Priest of the Ancestors and Religious Education
  • Rev. Ayliah Cannon - Creative Spirit and Humanitarian
  • Rev. Robb Lewis - Seidhr Worker, Mentor, Brewer
  • Rev. Christopher Temple - Diviner and Fire Priest
  • Rev. G. R. (Gwernin) Grove - Scholar and Master Storyteller and Bard
  • Rev. Amber Doty - Senior Priest of the Solitaries
This will evolve in the coming weeks, and I will share my final draft prior to the Summerland Gathering where my Elevation is scheduled to take place. Blessings on the continued work of our Senior Priests in ADF.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Two Things...

As I've watched the reactions to the overturning of Roe v. Wade this Summer Solstice season, I find myself reflecting on how we respond to the world around us, our "rules of engagement," so to speak. 

I've come to two conclusions that might seem contradictory.

  1. I am not special. Yes, there are “special” things about me, a collection of traits that make me who I am, but other people have some of those same traits in various combinations, and when everyone is special in the same ways, no one is special. This realization has helped me let go of the jealousy and envy that hurt my ego when I was young. I’m good enough, not special, and this is very freeing. It allows me to be even more happy to see others succeed at doin’ stuff.

  2. Long-standing problems without clear solutions or enough buy-in from the people who could make a change can make you bitter. The bigger struggle in life is doing what I can, making peace with what I can’t, and staying compassionate and gentle as well as strong while putting pressure on those who can make that change. 

I guess my point is to let go of ego, accept your lovely self just as you are, push on those who can make things better when you can’t do it yourself, and stay connected, always, to your compassion, for yourself and for others. 

May the light of the sun continue to bring illumination and understanding to us all. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Broken Promises: An End to Roe v. Wade

When I was a young girl, I was promised a land of opportunity as my playground.
I was told I lived in the greatest country in the world with access to anything I would need to be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. 

I was told that all lives were precious, and everyone who worked hard would be rewarded.
I was told over and over again. I was promised. 

But that was when I was a child, young and impressionable. And I believed all of it. 

As I’ve grown, It has been painful to watch every promise made to me, every thread of hope that created the fabric of my understanding of the world, unravel from the tapestry, front the web of lies they spun around me. 

Today, the masterpiece, the opus, unfurled, striking rage, fear, and sadness in the hearts of so many. So many will die. So many lives will be destroyed. So many minds will break and hearts with shatter. So many. And for what? To “win”? The cost is too high! 

But I remember the broken promises, and I already know why they would do this:
Because women’s lives don’t matter.
Because people with a uterus don’t matter.
Because anyone who doesn’t meet the standards of beauty, strength, skin color, and economic status from the moment of their birth doesn’t matter.
We, the PEOPLE, don’t matter. 

And from north to south, from east to west, from sea to shining sea, America weeps.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Breath of Inspiration

Since I've been spending so much of my time these past two years of the pandemic doing "boring writing," I haven't been posting about any of the more exciting things I've created. A few months ago, I wrote a new short musical piece to call on inspiration to be with us in the sacred work we are about to embark upon. I have a long-standing relationship with the powers that grant us the gifts of creating words, music, art, liturgy, all of it. In addition to the Earth Mother, I call to Inspiration in every rite and devotional I do, even at work. The Holy Awen, Imbas Forosnai, Inspiration. It fills me in ways I cannot describe well enough to do it justice, bringing me a peace and clarity that allows the words I write to flow forth in ways I could not author otherwise. 

This piece was written on a morning right after my devotional. There was nothing unusual about the devotional itself, but with the incense on my in-breath, the song began to flow. Click on the title below to hear a rough recording I made with my phone.

Before you use this recording in a devotional setting, set yourself an intention to be open to receive. Then, sing out for the Breath of Inspiration to wash over you with a gentle wind of awakening, guiding your mind's eye to new perspectives and deepening your devotion to the Kindreds and the world around you. You may wish to light a candle or incense before preparing yourself to commune with Inspiration.

Breath of Inspiration

Breathe on me, Breath of Inspiration
Fill my mind with visions of the Muses
Make my voice shine forth in silvery phrases
As gifts to those who hear my honeyed words
Holy Awen flow

repeat in plural with more voices

What will you do with Inspiration filling you? Many blessings on your work!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Sacred Art of Boring Writing

Our Senior Druid, who happens to be a lawyer, performed a rite to the Sacred Scribes in honor of those who do "boring writing," and I am finding myself strongly drawn to this liturgy. As a cleric with an administrative vocation, this speaks to my core and purpose. I have always thrived on putting documentation in order, editing and formatting, proofreading and creating "boring" content such as bylaws and standard operating procedures--and this perspective of sacrality to this work rings in my bones. 

I recently threw my hat in the ring to be appointed interim Secretary for the Mother Grove, and the words I wrote for my application are heavily influenced by the conversation and liturgy created by our Jane Webster. Thank you, Jane!

The Sacred Art of Communication and the ADF Secretary

Communication is the method we use for transferring ideas from one person or entity to another. It is the foundational way in which we build and maintain relationships with the Kindreds and with one another.  When serving in a role requiring information from one place to be distilled down and shared in a concise, honest, and meaningful way, our communication must be as variable and flexible as our audience, as authentic and specific as permissible, and as verifiable and open to response as possible. When we help ensure others understand—not just checking the box when we have provided the information, we build trust with our audience. Our authenticity and willingness to give additional details encourages more questions, and as trust continues to build, the quality of the feedback we receive improves exponentially. 

The ADF Secretary is no different: They must remain unbiased in recording minutes, even (and especially) when they disagree. They must share in a way that promotes comprehension, including making information accessible to folks who receive data in different ways. They must encourage feedback and deliver those thoughts and ideas to the Mother Grove with equal, unbiased clarity to keep the Mother Grove well and truly informed of the stance of our folk. They must be willing to try new things while holding the balance between tradition, innovation, and integrity. As one of the people with the most freedom to share unfiltered speech with the folk, this position has responsibilities far-beyond personal reputation. The words of the Secretary reflect the organization as a whole no matter in which capacity they are speaking. In the wrong hands, this role has the power to cause as much harm as it has the potential for good. Therefore, the Mother Grove must be able to trust them to speak as their voice.

The art of communication is the dance of how we speak and how we listen as we strive to connect with one another in deeper, more intimate ways. Our communication at our shrines, whether through spoken prayers, postures, or offerings, allows us to make connections throughout the cosmos. Communication allows us to pass through to the divine to be heard and to receive blessings in return. Communication, then, is sacred. There are some who do not find the “boring” parts of our work to be inspirational or even spiritual, but are not the mundane parts of our world also part of the cosmos? As part of my awakening into my role as a priest, the clarity of my vocation was a surprise at first. While my career has given me ample space to express my love and talent for technical writing, the gift of my vocation lies in illuminating how that love and that expertise may be applied in all aspects of the work of Our Druidry. In short, I have the passion, understanding, drive, and integrity to do this work, and I want to give more to the organization. The role of ADF Secretary is one that I know I will enjoy and will perform well.

What Makes Me a Good Candidate?

The Mother Grove of our organization has been a virtual entity for decades, and the challenges that were once unique to those with no experience in remote work are now part of the typical skillset for most adults in the United States and beyond. As someone who has finished two degrees via remote education, has served on several boards (including the ADF Mother Grove), and managed staff at 30 different buildings across the state, I have a strong foundation that goes beyond the two pandemic years others have used to hone these skills. In addition to my past endeavors, I am currently serving well as the secretary for the Clergy Council as well as the minute keeper and document organizer for the Organizational Review Committee. While I am fortunate to have strong partners on both these teams, I am also accustomed to “training” new staff, making me a strong addition to a team with new members who may need patience and additional details or instructions. I have the capacity to take on additional duties while maintaining a work-life balance that allows me the time I need to focus on my other pursuits and responsibilities. 

When our policies, procedures, formats, language choices, and tone are aligned with the heart of our mission and vision and accurately reflect the way our work manifests in the world, we are at our best and most able to meet the needs of the folk we serve. I will bring my professionalism, experience, and willingness to learn to this role with all my heart. I truly believe this to be important and sacred work not only for the organization itself but for the folk of ADF and the communities we serve. Rev. Selnes, the outgoing Secretary, has done a tremendous job reinventing and updating the way we communicate with one another and with the folk, and I look forward to continuing that work, if I am selected to serve as ADF Secretary.

May the blessings of the Kindreds bless you and thank you for your dedication to the work of Our Druidry!

UPDATE: I didn't get it, but there is still plenty of other work to be done!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Update: Virtually Untamed Canceled

The previously announced companion event for the Untamed festival has officially been canceled due to lack of registrants, and honestly, I am pretty pleased with this decision. While I love the community of attending virtual events when I cannot attend in person, I am glad to see folks are taking up the in-person work of rebuilding relationships after such a long time spent apart. 

I am pretty burnt out, being one of the folks doing all the hard work to create online content while also working my day job. Staffing across health care continues to take its toll on the industry, and maintaining services is eating most of my time and focus. 

During this time of transition back, even with lingering COVID concerns, I am grateful for those of you who are spooling up as I approach a new level of burn-out. Thank you for providing places for us to pray and commune that are open and don't require more of me than my presence and attention. These events feed my soul and renew my strength for the work I must continue to do for the good of the tribe we call humanity. 

Blessings to you all!

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Next Rite of Passage

At 1:57 AM MDT in the company of care providers now known as The Birthday Party, my first grandson, River James, came into the world. He was 7 lbs 4.1 oz and 20 3/4" long. He has blonde hair and blue eyes and is the most beautiful and precious thing in the world.

A thing many of the current people in my life may not know is that I wasn't planning on having children when I was a young adult. I had big career goals, and I didn't want to have kids and then never be home for them. I like to commit fully to anything I do, and if I was going to be a mom, I wanted to be the mom those kids deserved, not send them off to daycare while I pursued my dreams. 

When I got pregnant with my eldest son, all of that was seemingly disappearing for me. I made the choice to be a mom, and that was where my primary efforts were going to be spent. I was 21 when he was born, and we had loads of good and difficult times as our family grew and changed together. I dropped out of school, mostly due to money issues, and went back to earn my associate's degree later, which has ironically led me to accomplish big career goals. My second child, Devin, was planned, and as seemingly par for the course, has been the most spirited of my progeny. She/They is turning into a beautiful mom already, and I am so proud of them. My youngest, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and crushing it in high school, is looking forward to meeting his nephew when they come home from the hospital today.

My Devin now lives across the street from us, deciding that they needed their mom during this pivotal time in life, and I cannot express the amount of joy that fills me when I reflect on these words and their meaning. I was enough, despite my flaws and mistakes, for them to want me to help them evolve as a mom. I did not often feel like enough, like I was definitely going to be the subject of many conversations with therapists (as most moms likely are), and hearing these words has been a balm on the guilt I feel for every one of my actions that may have caused harm to my precious children. 

I was invited to the birth, and I even got to cut the umbilical cord. Laboring with a soon-to-be new mom is a humbling experience, and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my days. There were no complications, and Devin was amazing. I am in awe of their strength and perseverance and their continued capacity to love. 

As I sit here with the whirlwind of labor, delivery, and antepartum fading into a sweet breeze of what is yet to come, I feel the liminality washing over me, reminding me that I am no longer who I was alone but am now becoming something and someone more. I stand beside those who have gone before me, who have survived to see their children bear children, and I hold my head with pride and purpose, with humility and attentiveness to their wisdom, as I do the work of Becoming these new experiences have afforded me. I am truly grateful for what I have already been given and the beautiful and wonderful things I see shimmering already on the horizon. Blessings abound. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March.”

Historically in Ancient Rome, March 15 was the deadline for settling debts, so if you owed someone and were not able to pay, there were potential consequences coming your way. The Ides were actually just the midpoint of the month, typically the 15th or the 13th, depending on the number of days in the months.

“Ides” translates as “to divide,” and it was originally used to designate the Full Moon after the Romans moved to the solar calendar in 43 BCE. March was the first month of the year until January and February were added years later. So, March 15th was the midpoint of the first month of the year and the time to settle your annual debts. Sacred to Jupiter, the Chief God of the Roman Pantheon, the Ides of March occurred during the New Year festivities, and many folk customs involved dressing an old man in animal skins and driving him from the city, sometimes violently, to represent driving out the old year.

Most of us are familiar with this turn of phrase because of the Shakespearean play, Julius Caesar. In the play, a soothsayer (e.g., an Oracle) warns Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.” The Soothsayer warns him a second time, and Caesar dismisses the man as a “dreamer.” Two Acts later, Caesar was assassinated on the steps of the Senate on March 15, the Ides of March.

What does this have to do with us in a modern context? Mostly, nothing. Ides is a word no longer in use in modern language, and when faced with a word we don’t know, particularly when the context is negative, we are likely to assume it means something bad. The phrase has been quoted often during the month of March whenever anything less-than-awesome happens, but there is no folk custom declaring it an unfavorable time of year. Something bad happened to one person, and we have internalized the potential for something bad to happen to us during that same time.

We are left with the idea of luck as we know it today. In Ancient times, fortune was based on individual destiny and the whims of the gods. But the idea that random bad things can happen, without sentient purpose, means that good things are equally as likely to randomly occur. And the notion of luck brings us hope, for when we are out of things we can do, something lucky may happen to alleviate our suffering.

Ides means divide. When something unlucky happens, the potential to divide us is as strong as the potential for us to come together. We have no control over what happens to us, but we do get to control how we react to it. I know it is hard to tap into my own compassion when in crisis mode, and it is a gift to see where I have room yet to grow.

Instead of “bewaring” the ides of march, my hope is that we be aware of what has the potential to divide us. May we all find room to grow together when faced with unlucky circumstances.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Announcement: Virtually Untamed

Greetings and Blessings, Community!

I am so excited to see in-person events offered in an ethical and healthy way, and I am even more excited that Untamed is finally moving forward! Long in the works, the vision for this event reflects my own blessings for the Front Range Pagan Community: safe space to gather in fellowship with like-minded individuals who want to share in the beauty of community. 

Even with my excitement, I will not be attending in person. The precautions I must take to keep my loved ones safe might look different than they do for others, but we are all making choices based on our own circumstances. 

Rev. William and the folks at Mountain Ancestors and HearthFire Sanctuary still believe in the importance of gathering and inclusivity, so we are pleased to be able to support those of us who are unable to show up in person with a virtual companion event! In previous years, Mountain Ancestors and HearthFire Sanctuary has held space at many local events for offerings, ritual, and divination, and we continue that tradition this year in a virtual space. 

Virtually Untamed is a day-pass event beginning with an invitation to the dawn and ending with a bardic circle where we hope to have the guests of the event share their songs, poetry, stories, and art with the community. This event will not be recorded.

At any time during the event, Rev. Missy or Rev. William will be available for 10-minute private divination sessions. If you need more time, they are happy to set up a separate pastoral meeting with you after the event.

We are currently taking Workshop proposals. If interested, please send a description of your session to: You may also send in topics you would like to see someone else present.

For more information, check out Virtually Untamed page on the event website.

We look forward to “seeing” you there!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

In Like a Lion...

When I was a child, I was always fascinated with trite phrases. I enjoyed their quotable nature and how people looked at you like you were smart when you were able to recite them at a relevant time. For example, when someone (probably my little sister) was fatalistically rage-quitting a project because a part of it didn’t go as planned, I would quip, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” Yeah, I was that kid.

In school, we had a bulletin board that my teachers would redecorate at the beginning of the month, and my favorite was always “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb”—mostly because of the lion and lamb-themed art projects we would get to do. True to form, I still think of these clever turns-of-phrase and how they are relevant to various aspects of my life.

As we finally put 2021 to rest, this quote definitely came to mind. We rolled into 2022 like we were being chased by a lion! 2021 ended with fires and big snow and led straight into 2022 with threats of war in Kazakhstan, a volcano eruption in the South Pacific leveling half an island nation, resulting tsunamis as far north as Alaska, tornados in Florida, snow in the Carolinas, and underneath it all, an unprecedented, global surge of the Omicron variant. And the lion roared.

While the roar of the lion and all that it carries with it into 2021, the little quote from a little me give me hope, because after the lion stops roaring, the lambs will appear.

It is fitting to think of this during the early part of the year. After the winter holidays are over, many of our Ancestors began the planning for the promised Spring. The lambs who have spent the winter in their mother’s wombs are born, and the gift of milk came to the households, adding much-needed winter protein to the stores. Occasionally, a lamb would be born too early, before there would be any shoots of grass to feed it when it weaned, and these lambs graced the tables to remind the people that they already had what they needed to get them through.

Right now, the lion is still roaring, but there is hope on the horizon. As we look ahead into the coming year to plan what our focus will be and how we will achieve those new goals, we can find comfort in the fact that we are exactly where we need to be, everything is on time, and the lambs will be here before we know it. 

May the gift of perspective illuminate what is already around us to carry us through to the Promise of Spring.