This is my Summer Solstice Home Shrine.
I added the beautiful sun fire roses
I added the belt from my Summer Solstice gown that I made from scratch. I'm exceptionally proud of that belt and the fabric used inspired the entire gown.
The Ritual pilar candle my husband and I are both sharing this Solstice so it moves between altars but glows bright like the sun.
I added my Amber Spider pendant as Amber is golden like sunshine and spiders have deep meaning to me.
I added some new stones and gave my image of Brigid and Faerie Divination cards stronger focus.
My offerings have been Solstice inspired loose incense to the fire, the golden stones to the well to warm the waters and water from the golden pitcher to "Sigmond" my world tree.
I have a great many things to write about over the past half a week but most important to mention is the focus on tremendous nature immersion and awareness. I've been enjoying daily nature walks when I have the ability to do them and last Wednesday I went to the Lone Fir cemetery for several hours and tried to connect with the ancestors. I have always found a sense of calm and peacefulness in cemeteries even as a small child. I have never feared them but instead approached each grave marker with a sense of wonderment about the amazing person who was buried beneath it. Cemeteries have always been full of a sort of story telling magic to me. Even if I do not visually see ghosts or anything I always imagine the various types of people walking around the cemetery as they would when they were alive, each one dressed differently, speaking different languages, playing, reading, chatting with a friend, etc. Cemeteries have always felt a bit like people watching in a big city to me. There are some images that strike alarm in me and although I might be curious I approach them with caution and others who's joy make me quite literally burst out laughing and grin from ear to ear. Cemeteries tell stories to me, and even I don't have the details, I can FEEL the depth of the lives once lived deep within the ground. However, even though I can feel alive with human story telling energy, I also have a sense of calm. That this is a place of rest. This is the end of one life's journey and a place where emotions can be amplified. This sense of calm is closely tied with my deep respect for the cemetery and the people who's grieving families visit.
The members and friends of Columbia Protogrove who were able to attend the Summer Solstice ritual at Trout Lake Abby Druid Sanctuary.
I was very inspired to create a Summer Solstice gown for this ritual. This entire gown, belt included was created sewn and created by me within 12 hours. <3 Doing artistic projects like this really help me express my inspiration and devotion to the High Days. I was sewing like a madwoman while lighting midsummer incense and listening to music I felt was fitting to Summer Solstice. I chose the colors of the sunshine for obvious reasons! :) That belt was constructed from a pillowcase pattern and was my source of Solstice inspiration. :)
Its been difficult to bring myself to open my laptop the past couple days because I have been having so much fun being away from it.
Look forward to reflections on various wetland nature walks, cemetery connections, my adventures in tree identification in said cemetery, and birds.
I have been trying so hard to be mindful about the importance of slowing down and noticing the details. Im trying to break the overly busy industrialized mindset that I generally have with deadlines, and such. Im always needing to find ways to slow down, ways to breathe deeper, to break away from the city life that surrounds me.
I've noticed a trend lately among many parents in my area, if the weather is above 70 degrees they all keep their children inside and the playgrounds are empty. As a mother of a 6 year old boy (an only child), this gets frustrating. I try to make it a point to get outside each day with him but when the playground is empty, I have to provide all of his entertainment. (And if I am being honest, he has a lot more energy than me as I am still learning how to re-walk on a recently fractured foot) I don't mind this too badly but its a shame that we live in an area with beautiful wetlands, wonderful trails, many playrounds and park benches and yet the children are always missing until almost sunset.
So today I told my son that we would go on our first real nature walk and he could collect leaves and such to bring home and we would make a collage picture with them. He loved that idea. I use to do them all the time for cheap entertainment with my Grandmother as a child. It's one of the many ways she encouraged a deep love for the outdoors, creativity, and art at a young age.
We also decided today to bring Midsummer offerings to the Sidhe, he choose some cherries (his favorite fruit right now) and I brought a sun shaped cookie that my husband and I made together for Midsummer offerings. We wandered a bit off the trail to an wetland area with beautiful cattails sticking up and placed our offerings. Kiddo and I spoke warm wishes to the the Sidhe this Summer Solstice and thanked them for their friendship, I also gave offering to those Sidhe who are of darker ways in thanks for their avoidance of me and my family.
After, while kiddo played for a while, I consulted my Faerie Oracle deck for a Midsummer message/omen from the Sidhe. I received the card "Little Boy Blue"
The Little Boy Blue card stands for Hope, new beginnings, excitement, dreams coming true, celebration, and the return of the soul. So many happy things!! I interpret this for myself as a message of celebration of the freedom I have this midsummer in my break from school and recovery from my broken foot. The message that I should be excited, I should celebrate, learn and grow (like a new child does with every little new wonder). I lit up when I saw the card because it is genuinely fitting for me right now. Since school ended I have been creative and artistic, I have been able to read for recreation and for personal growth, I have been able to meditate, I have been OUTSIDE! My foot is healed enough that I can WALK! Im a long ways from running, but I can walk again among the trees and speak to the flowers and wind in the ways that make me feel most alive. I interpret the message of the Sidhe as understanding that so many shackles have been removed from me and I am like a baby, born again to learn and explore everything around me. Such a perfect Midsummer message <3
Today is a good day. Today my husband and I stopped in at our local metaphysical shop and it is own and ran by a very nice and lovely self titled Witch. She loves seeing us pop in even if it is only but once every few months or so. She makes hand blended loose incense and I LOVE her recipes dearly. Today we had no real reason to drop in aside from just wanting to see if we wanted anything for Midsummer, Summer Solstice, Litha, Alban Hefin etc.
She had a special "Helios" blend of incense made for Midsummer and it was the most beautiful yellow. It also smelt incredible and we picked some up. My husband plans to use some as offerings in our Greek/Hellenic Summer Solstice ADF ritual tomorrow.
We also picked up one of her Sabbat candles for Midsummer. Her candles are special in that they are a hand crafted collaboration with another candle maker (Sticky Wickets). Together they place trinkets in the wax (such as charms, stones, shells etc.) that are revealed as you burn your Sabbat candle. They are also charged by the witches who make them and each candle is given with a spell for burning. The Midsummer/Litha candle card reads:
"We come together on this Litha day
To observe the same magic of our ancestors at play
Together, we dance to feel the power
Beneath the reign of the summer sun's hour
Lord of the Fires, Lady of Light
Connect with us through this solstice night
Come quick and sing it's timeless tune
For autumn shall soon be here all too soon"
Another unique thing I picked up this time was a New Moon spell kit. This kit contains a candle, incense, bath salts and a stone as well as a unique spell for the New moon. I have been meaning to try her New or Full Moon spell kits for a while to see how they work with me. The next New Moon is on Tuesday so I will give it a try then. I have also decided that I need to look into Full Moon rituals more with ADF as the moon truly as a powerful thing to me. If I can find a way to incorporate Wicca and ADF Druidry on Full and New moons I think I want to go that route. If nothing else, I will try both Wicca and ADF on these days to see what practice "feels" most right for me.
This visit there were also Cedar and Rose petal wants available and they smell absolutely divine. I am so deeply in love with this wand and I think it will be a wonderful offering to the gods and goddesses at tomorrow's ritual.
We also picked up a ton of incense per usual and had a jolly time chatting with the owner. I always feel so delighted talking to her.
Today I am also creating ritual offerings for tomorrow. Our grove has started offering small sacrifices for purchase (like .50 cents) to help raise money for the grove and to also help those new to our rituals struggle a bit less with individual high day connection during times that their Hearth culture is not represented. So far this has been well received and tomorrow I am contributing some Sun shaped shortbread cookies colored in yellow sugar crystals for Helios. Im excited!
My local grove does a newsletter that I regularly submit too. Here is the content I submitted for June on Selkies. Complete with the first drawing I have done in YEARS. I am very happy with it <3
The Selkie-folk are a super natural race of shape-shifting seal creatures. They exist in Northern European, Irish, Celtic, Scottish, Norse and Icelandic mythology. Selkie-folk are ocean creatures in seal form and are able to shed their sealskin and then take human form. It was most important for the Selkie to not lose its seal skin for it was that which gave them the ability to return to their original seal from. Often times Selkies shed their skins to sunbathe on the beaches in human form.
There are many versions of the Selkie myth but generally two versions stand out universally: one female, one male. The female Selkie is often a otherworldly beautiful woman who is “captured” by the man who finds her, unable to return to the water because the man has taken possession of her discarded skin. She is surprisingly devotional and loyal to her new husband and often raises children with him but her heart always longs for the sea. If her skin is ever discovered she will not resist to put it back on and be gone for the ocean that calls her home.
The male Selkie is also renowned for his seductive beauty and charm. When he comes upon land and sheds its skin, he is often noted for his ability to seduce and satisfy the unhappy and dissatisfied women of the area. Fairly often, these women bear his children, usually children with some sort of “deformity” or oddity about them. In some myths the male Selkie returns for these children after they are born to take them home to the sea to learn the ways of the Selkie beside him.
In some versions of the Selkie myth, Selkies are more active at Summer Solstice and in others at times of the Full Moon, but most stories carry a sense of tragic romance and unrequited love.
We are approaching the Summer Solstice and while we have a clear High Day for many Indo-European hearth cultures, we don't have this luxury for the Irish Celtic hearth.
According to the ADF website, there is no real proof that the solstices are celebrated by ancient Celtic peoples but we can assume that it was still likely they did. This is where I start seeing where ADF and Celtic recinstructionists would clash.
There was a quote on the ADF site that really resonated with me:
"Do we, following a Neo-Druidic path of spiritual exploration, limit ourselves to not using powerful themes, even those established by the regional predecessors of the Druids, simply because there's a lack of evidence for the Druids having used them? I think that, just as long as we aren't found doing something in the style of the Stonehenge folk, saying "the Druids did this...", we are freer to follow the Spirit of Ancientry, as we see it, without the unnecessary constraints of "scholarship" de jour."
This is where I tend to realize I agree with Neo-Druidry and ADF more than that of Celtic Reconstructionists. (No offense intended whatsoever <3) I find that I like the freedom for modern religious interpretation. Yes, I value the history we can interpret, but I also remember, much as most modern Christians do, that times change and adaptations are important. We no longer need to sell our children into slavery to pay off debts, we no longer need to marry virgins, we no longer stone people to death for crossing us, we no longer have any need to practice human sacrifice and so on. So if we can make these modern adaptations to ancient religions, why not with Druidry as well?
I will never consider myself a historical Druid, because I am not. I live in the modern society of 2015 and relate to many elements of ancient druidry but not all. Im not an ancient druid, I am a modern neo-druid. This is where academia breaks away to spirituality for me. Academia will only give me fragments of an ancient people, my spirituality lets me take those fragments and form my own spiritual path with them as elements to work with and admire. Do I wish there were more material available on the Ancient Celtic druids? Sure. But I would likely still do exactly as I am doing now with that material, use it to shape my individual spirituality, not let it rule me as word of unyielding fact.
The last thing I want to mention is the comments on the Sun being a forgotten element of worship for most modern pagan societies in favor of the Moon or other "feminine" deities.
I will admit, my initial path to pagan faith was through Wicca and it was the idea of powerful women and anti-male power structure that I really wanted most. Having been part of Christian structures where women were not allowed to be pastors or leaders (outside choir directors or Sunday school for children) it was clear to me that women were secondary to male leaders. Yes, years ago I would have avoided contact with any male deity likely in favor of a sisterhood spirituality. This has changed for me now.
I can understand the male association with a Solar Deity or the Sun itself but I suppose I have never truly gendered the Sun for myself. The sun is a crucial part of our earthly existence. Without the sun we would have nothing and so why would I not celebrate this amazing aspect of one of our Kindreds? Just as I connect to the moon, I connect to the sun as well. Thinking about how so many cast off solar deities in favor of darker pagan elements (gothy, witchy, nocturnal, things) made me also realize that unlike many other pagans I know, I don't gender the moon as well. I suppose I don't gender ANY natural existing thing outside of Gods and Goddesses who present their gender preferences clearly. It just seems silly to me to avoid nature and its elements one could consider "masculine" either in antiquity or now. It could be my libra brain going nuts here but I see the importance in balance. Dark and light, Power and weakness, male and female, and the entire spectrums between them.
The ancient Celtic peoples may not have formally celebrated the summer solstice like other Indo European cultures who celebrated the sun at this time but I can.
I am a neo-druid, I celebrate nature, I worship the gods and goddesses, I connect with my ancestors. I appreciate balance, and I embrace and celebrate the sun without guilt.
This was my Beltaine home shrine.
I shifted my arrangement slightly to incorporate various elements and added a stick incense holder. For Beltaine I regularly lit pheromone incense for sensuality.
The Maypole I constructed myself after nearly 3 hours of figuring out how to do it! I am very proud of that Maypole :)
I placed two taper candles, one at each end to signify the fires of Beltaine. All offerings and my voice itself passed between the two flames.
I have two wooden images now, one of my Patron Brigid and the second of the Morrigan. These were gifts from my husband as he knows I relate to both of these Goddesses. I think in the future I will replace the Morrigan image as I am not really a fan of the depiction but it will suffice for now.
I also choose to decorate my alter with lots of flowers. In this case these flowers are fake, but several of my offerings were of real flowers fitting for the season.
I wrote this on May 17 2015
I am in the process of exploring divination methods that work for me and trying to build a relationship to Tarot and my new deck. In this process tonight I have been asking my deck questions about itself to better understand the nature of its answers and it's become very clear that this deck is very blunt and truthful. (This is something I really appreciate as my oracle deck speaks more in riddles)
The question I asked is "At this point in our relationship, which card best describes your opinion of me?"
The answer: The 4 of Swords.
The card that reminds us to SLOW DOWN and rest our injuries. That reminds us that being addicted to activity is not always healthy.
Much like everyone around me lately, even my deck feels I need to take it easier and heal my foot, even be the dreadful word *boring* for a while for my own good. My deck already knows Im a stubborn and prideful perfectionist and it isn't afraid to call me out on it.
It's been almost a year since I discovered our local Columbia Protogrove and started attending rituals. And a LOT has happened in that year.
After attending 3 rituals with the grove, my husband expressed interest in taking on the Dedicant Program. I had my reservations, not for any other reason aside my personal fear of overextending myself.
After one study group meet-up I decided to start the Dedicant program after all. The group consisted of a few of other grove members and I thought that it would be a fun experience as opposed to an overloading one. I was still a bit hesitant to take on the responsibility as I was in my first college term back to school after nearly 9 years.
I turn 30 this year. Going back to college is a big deal to me and I am a tremendous academic overachiever. Here I am, 3 terms later, finishing my first year with a 4.0. Needless to say my academic study time has really affected my social life and extra curricular activities. I'm pre-med (Pharmacy student) so my grades are VERY important.
I am a mother of a happy and healthy 6 year old boy, I am a wife of 5 years to my loving Husband (we have been together 8.5 years now), I am a girlfriend of almost 3 years to my loving Boyfriend. I am polyamorous, and balancing my family is, and will always be, my number 1. focus. We all get along great and my relationships are strong, but they do require my time and energy to keep healthy.
Around the time of Imbolc this year I was starting to get really excited about Columbia Protogrove and its members. After that one study group I decided "YES" I want to do this, I "CAN" do this and I signed up with ADF immediately. I was happy to have found a positive community that I could grow in.
Then something rather drastic happened, the day of our public Imbolc ritual, two important grove members quit our grove all together. These members were the ones leading our study group, they were active members in the Imbolc ritual, and just like that, they were gone.
It's times of conflict that reveal roads to us. It's the paths we choose to take that help shape us. I chose not to be overwhelmed and feel lost, I chose to help rebuild. Our grove leader asked my husband and I to help out and we ran with it full force. Before I ever got my physical copy of "Our Own Druidry" in the mail I decided to help run our grove study group. Being an active member of this grove was something I wanted to do, something that the grove needed desperately at that time, and I don't regret that decision one bit.
After Imbolc, I began writing invocations and helping construct public ritual parts. I learned. I grew. I became a face for Columbia protogrove and was accepted despite the fact that I was still learning the ins and outs as I went along. Unfortunately, my dedicant assignments suffered a bit due to time management obligations but I continued to lead our study groups and while I haven't written much in my blog since Imbolc I have more than enough content to write about in my head and heart.
Another setback happened right before our Hilaria ritual when I fractured my foot. I dealt with casts, surgery, and pain. I was in a cast for 6 weeks and am still re-learning how to walk. I struggled but it taught me a lot about what I am capable of.
Our grove has been doing nothing but growing and getting stronger since the leadership restructure around Imbolc. We now have a thriving Study Community, a strong Bard group, we are doing all sorts of extra projects with endless ideas for the future. I am so very happy to be a part of this group.
As I finish my first year back to college, I am proud of my accomplishments. I am proud of my involvement with Columbia Protogrove and I am proud I didn't run away when it felt like everything would be too hard.
Now that I am officially on summer vacation I plan on devoting massive energy and focus into my Dedicant program. Who knows what next year will hold in terms of how challenging my life will be, but I am happy to be part of a community that wants me to succeed and offers support when I struggle. <3
As weird as it is to admit, I have never owned Tarot or Oracle cards. Up until recently I had never been called to Divination at all but since I started the Dedicant path I needed to find some sort of medium in which to receive my omens from the kindreds.
For my first ritual I borrowed my husbands cards and then I began researching a more permanent solution for myself.
I have decided, there is no easy answer for me when it comes to "the cards" but that I need to start a process of trial and error to determine what works best for me.
Of the three kindreds I have the closest relationship to the Nature Spirits, in the Celtic Hearth this includes the Sidhe (Faeries) and when I saw a particular Faery Oracle deck I knew that I needed it. The artwork was beautiful and I loved how they had male fairy representation (this is very important to me) in various forms.
I am still learning these cards and how I can use them, but I wanted to share them here. <3 I have about 3 other decks I plan to to try out as well to see what works best for me (as well as wanting to learn and use Ogham)
Its a fun and new process for sure.
One of the most common comments I get if I state that I am a practicing druid is the question,
"Didn't the Druids practice Human Sacrifice?!"
And history tells us, yes, by many accounts, this is correct. Sometimes these accounts are blown up into fantastical proportions but still, it is true that Druids sacrificed humans (likely most often criminals) to appease the gods.
Now, this is something I acknowledge but personally overlook as a modern practicing druid. My knowledge is limited at this time, but I know that will change as I continue through my dedicant studies. My sacrifices are food, drink, nature based, or symbolic; not human. Gone are the days where human sacrifice is necessary or seen as devotional. All history has what we would consider today as very dark elements. Human Sacrifice is a dark element that simply isn't necessary in today's world.
So normally I just laugh and tell the person, "Historically yes, but my Druidry does not condone ANY sacrifice of this nature. The history of all religions is full of stuff like this"
Now I will be honest, I have never put much thought about whether or not there was Human Sacrifice in the Bible or not. Since so many of those who challenge me are Christian I suppose I always assume they may know more about their faith than I do so I just refrain from comment.
But I was wrong. I am thankful that I am taking a college class on Near Eastern History this term, and part of our class uses the Bible as a secondary source as it outlines the rise of Judaism and the conflicts in the this area from the time of the Egyptian old kingdom to the conquest of Alexander the Great. This was a huge time in history. This week I have had to read several books of the Old Testament and it is in the book of Judges that I came upon a clear, undeniable account of human sacrifice.
I nearly spit out my orange juice when I read it.
There in Judges 11:29-40 is the account of Jephthah's vow to God that if God helped him win victory over the children of Ammon then Jephthah would offer anything that comes through his doors to greet him after his victory as a burnt offering. Jephthah is victorious over these 20 cities and heads home. Who/What walks through his doors happens to be his only virginal daughter and although he is heartbroken over it, with her encouragement, he does in fact, sacrifice her to his God.
Willing sacrifice or not, human sacrifice is still human sacrifice and I am kinda shocked that so many of the things I am reading in this class actually written in the Bible are overlooked by those who practice these faiths.
I do not post this to start a war, or to express genuine anger towards Christians, but it does bother me when others cast hatred my way when we both have the same roots in antiquity. At least I aknowledge that these things have happened and I would never condemn another person of different faith for the actions of their ancient followers. That seems pointless.
Its just made me think a lot tonight more than anything. I have no doubt that there will be more Biblical crossover posts in this journal as I come upon them. None of them I wish to be taken as hate towards Christianity or Judaism but instead reflections on religious history or religious interpretation in general. These insights fascinate me and give me a deeper understanding and world view of world religions.