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Today I picked up a wooden Oath ring that has the words:
"May the earth open beneath me, may the sea rise up against me, and may the sky fall upon me should I forswear my oaths."
As often as I communicate my oaths to my kindred and with a new year of new spiritual progress I feel that this is something my altar needed for sure.
I also picked up wooden pieces that are burnt with each of the 9 ADF virtues on them. This will help me remember them and to also draw them as meditation tools to better understand my interpretation of them.
Lastly I picked up a token for Brigid as a permanent fixture to my altar or to take with traveling altars. It has a a Brigid's cross and the words
"I am the healing well, and the purging fire"
There is no reason not to spoil my altar at this time of year ;)
'There are three great ages; the age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, the age of the Cailleach.' -An ancient Celtic poem
The Goddess Cailleach is a mother of gods, she is an old crone, a witch, and the Mother of Winter. She is so vastly ancient that the Celts when they arrived in Ireland two thousand years ago, addressed her as already ancient and powerful.
Cailleach was reborn again, an old crone, each Samhain and went about chilling the Earth to halt new growth, to frost the ground with a long wand or flick of her hand, and by calling down the snow. She was a tempest who controlled storms and weather along the shores of Ireland and Scotland and she is still spoken of in winter storm myths and legends today. Her staff had the ability to turn plants (and herself) into grey stone, therefore making lonely standing stones sacred to her.
It is said that her long fingernails carved the rivers and valleys of earth, and that she created the mountains from the stones that fell from her apron. Her appearance was fearsome, she was noted to have sharp red teeth and hair white as a frosted snow covered mountaintop. She was a goddess feared, a goddess respected. In many ways, she was Death personified.
Another Celtic goddess, Brigit was the goddess of new beginnings and birth, the sheering of sheep and the budding fertility of the spring. Twice a year, a challenge was issued with Cailleach against Brigit, the Cold Dragon against the Warm Lamb. At Samhain, Cailleach would triumph over Brigit, but at Imbolc the reverse would be true allowing spring to win over winter and warm the earth once again.
Terrifying old crone, witch, Cailleach, we feel her chill and deathly presence in our bones, our roots hit her frozen waters. We all must follow her crisp air into the dark cold winter of the wood. Here the old hag will test us, and we will be allowed to grow new again by the will of the Gods.
For Yule, my husband bought me a snail necklace! I love it so very much!!!
I have always loved snails, insects, spiders, frogs, snakes, bats, newts and other such creatures that others dislike.
This past year especially, my affinity for snails has grown as they help serve as a delicate reminder for me to slow down and appreciate life. As a manic person I need this reminder often because I will miss so much if I rush around all the time.
Take time to be slow
Take time to meditate
Take time to mesh with your environment
Take time to notice
Take time to overcome unexpected obstacles
You have your home, your support with you always ( on your back or in your heart), take time to remember it.
This holiday season has been a fantastic one, I co-lead our grove's Norse Yule Celebration. I worked with my hands and constructed the most complicated ritual gown I've ever attempted. I handcrafted my first paper mâché project ever; a 3D boar for oathing sacrifice to Freya. It was a great ritual, with great company.
I always do an Annual Yule Feast on winter solstice for all of my friends. I've been doing this for over 5 years now as my alternative to Christmas. In my heart, the holidays should be about giving thanks for all of those people you care about and letting them know what they mean to you.
I receive their love, their attention, their support ALL YEAR LONG. Far too often I am so busy that I cannot make time for them all, I cannot buy them all gifts for Christmas, there is no real way for me to show them the thanks they deserve. The thanks I feel in my heart.
So I decided years ago that I can give them one night. I can give them my attention during this chaotic time of year, I can cook them a feast from my heart ( I love to cook) and I can give them the gift of company and good food in thanks. Its how I honor the relationship of reciprocity. they give, I receive. I give, they receive.
It's all I can do, but it carries more meaning than a store bought gift can.
We had dozens of people at my Solstice feast, people of many different faiths but we were all there for one thing, to celebrate our holidays and friendship.
It was a beautiful thing.
In addition to these events, I had one more special trip I wanted to make with my family before Christmas Eve would take over. I wanted to see snow. My husband, boyfriend, son and I drove the 2 hours to the mountain and even though it was dark out, the snow was so bright and we had so much fun playing with it's cold simplicity.
Forget the malls, forget video games and movies, forget the presents under the tree.
Those moments when everyone was laughing and playing in the winter snow were the best holiday gift for me. The sacrifice was gas money, but the reward was my heart expanding.
The rest was a blur, Christmas Eve with my parents. So many presents and chaos. Christmas day, again, wrapping paper thrown around, chaos and drinking. There was much joyous celebration in the overly-Commercialized Christian *tradition*
But whenever I felt overwhelmed, I would think of the night time snow and the near full moon over the three most important men in my life as they ran around throwing snow at each other. When winter was just THERE to experience, not to be bought, and with no crushing deadlines (aside from frozen fingers).
When I felt overwhelmed, I'd think of my Solstice event and all of those faces I don't see often. I see their smiles and and the love in their hearts. I feel their hugs and gratitude and again, you simply can't buy that feeling.
When I felt overwhelmed, I'd think of my Grove members and our Yule Ritual and Feast. There was so much merriment, so much dedication, so much energy and genune beauty in the room. Sure there were errors here and there, but my Grove members are some of the closest friends I have and we all celebrated together as one Tribe the way we wanted to spiritually. This is my Spiritual Holiday with my spiritual community and friends.
This Yule offered me everything I could ever want this time of year and I will spend the next year showing my gratitude and practicing the balance of reciprocity, because that balance is so important in all things. With the birth of the sun again, my warmth and love rises yet another year, stronger and more vibrant than before.
*My submission for the Yule edition of my Grove's newsletter*
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) lists Nine Druidic virtues that resonate within those of us who are walking the Druidic Dedicant path and for those looking deeper into our own spirituality.
The nine virtues are:
The Virtue I will focus most on for this edition of Kindred Connection is that of Piety.
As defined by Ár nDraíocht Féin, Piety is “Correct observance of ritual and social traditions, the maintenance of agreements (both personal and societal) we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty.
As a member of Columbia Protogrove, I took on the task this past year to devote myself to this virtue above all others. This year I became a very strong force within our grove, devoting myself to my community, my grove mates, and focusing my personal self to Deity connection and scholarly learning.
But there is one other thing I added to help display Piety; I sew.
Every single high day this year, from Imbolc to Yule, I have sewn a gown (sometimes 2 depending on the events I attended) and each one I did respectfully, allowing myself to be inspired by not only the High Day from my personal Celtic hearth culture, but by the cultures represented by my grove. The week before the high day, I engrossed myself in study, I listened to the languages and songs of these cultures and I picked patterns and/or fabrics that inspired me for that High Day. This process not only caused me to slow down and focus on delicate things, but also submerged me in an ancient process (sewing) and reflected my dedication and piety.
As the wheel has turned, I now have 8 new gowns, each one has experienced new faces in Ritual, and each one is a symbol of my Piety and devotion to my study. These gowns even became focal points of inspiration for our Grove members and community.
I have been inspired, and I hope that my devotion inspires others as well. Mixing study, with creativity and preforming and writing ritual for my local community has been my example of Piety this past year and it is a virtue worth thinking about, no matter your spiritual path.
I have not been very active in updating this blog and for anyone who has followed it, please forgive me.
It has been a very difficult school term for me (a massive understatement) and my time has needed to be devoted to my studies, and my family.
With that being said, I have not lost focus on my ADF Dedicant studies. I have been active with my local grove in numerous ways including active involvement with High Days and scholarly conversations. I have continued to hold monthly Dedicant Group meetings to discuss assignment topics (even though I have not written them here) I have not stopped anything aside from updating this blog due to lack of time to type.
I have been keeping a paper meditation journal that I plan on updating here with important meditations (the ones I wish to share that is) and I have been working on developing my relationships to my Deities on a daily constant basis.
I have been very focused on the impact I leave on the world and have made adjustments to live greener and more earth-focused. I have started working actively with giving back to our local homeless community as part of our grove. I have been BUSY and certainly have not been avoiding ADF diligence.
In fact, I consider myself connected stronger to my own spiritually than I have 4 months ago, 6 months ago, and honestly, ever.
So please forgive me for my lack of updates on this blog, I have been LIVING life through ADF eyes and mind and simply have not had time to journalize regularly.
That being said, school term is out on Dec 8th, so expect a HUGE amount of assignments to be posted as, like I said, I have not stopped...If anything, I have only gained more momentum. <3