Saturday, October 17, 2020

Happy New Year...Again?

 Fun times...

So many times during this pandemic I've said "I  will take this time to blog" and, as you can see, I have not.

The pandemic really shattered my plans, as it has done for everyone.  Instead of my "Lent"ish goals I posted about previously, I instead tried hold it together as best as I could. Some days I succeeded, but most days I did not, until a call to the doctor and some "better brain through chemistry" could be achieved.

I did work with my land spirits, but when it came to officially marking the turns of the Wheel, I opted for the group rites (now via Zoom) and none of my normal home-based work.  Just wasn't feeling it.  And as you and I well know, that is EXACTLY the time that work needs to be done!

The corn dolly was placed in the garden, and given flowers and herbs, but with little more than a "Thanks for being here."  I don't know if that's exactly WHY my garden was not so dandy this year...but I have taken note.

How would you look if you stayed out in the rain and sun for six months!

To that end....Friday was the new moon, and it starts the "moonth" that contains Samhain.  So, in a lot of ways, Friday was the beginning of my new year.  I reflected a bit on that odd concept, and how basically from Fall Equinox, with Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, all the way through to Chinese New Year, sometime in January, we really just have a season of Happy New Years.  The good news, is if you break a resolution, you can already re-do it in a few weeks, rather than months (for a bit, anyway).

We also had the first frost Friday night.  If anyone reads this ever, they know that I consider my first frost to be my HOME Samhain, figuring that before calendars were invented, the land would let you know when summer ends.  

So... with the moon in the right phase and the land signaling the frost.... I again stepped to the liminal time, the end of this year, and beginning of the next.  I turned the compost. I took down this year's corn dolly, my avatar of my land's spirit. I decked her with the last of the flowers from my garden and introduced her to the young dolly for the next year.  Right now, she is whispering her wisdom and secrets to her, as they lay on my earth altar in the temple room.  Soon, her spirit will flow into the new dolly, who will slumber until awakening at Imbolc.  

So... I guess this is mostly just me getting back on track.  And trying to stay on some track even if the ground is shaky and uncertain.  The wheel keeps turning; the geese are migrating;  everything is as it was and as it shall be.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Random Musings on a Pagan Lent

I know...I know...

Pagans are not about austerities or otherwise about giving things up to honor a particular deity or things like that.

But...hear me out.

In Irish mythology, we have the concept of geas which is often a taboo or other personal "rule" (for want of a better word) that a person cannot break without suffering dire spiritual or even physical consequences.  For example, Cuchulain cannot eat dog meat due to his association with dog as what we could argue is his totem animal.  His geas is forever, though.  "Lenten austerities" only last for 40 days (although it's really more like 46. The Sundays somehow don't count, if I remember correctly).

The other thing is that even among Christians the idea of Lent is misunderstood.  Lent is not supposed to be a time of giving up something as a display of one's awesome willpower.  One should give up something meaningful, but for the purpose of improving oneself and one's relationship with God.  One doesn't even have to give something up. One could vow to add something to one's life to serve those purposes too.

Timing becomes a problem. It makes little sense to follow the Christian liturgical calendar, although one could start on Ash Wednesday and end on Spring Equinox.  However, the way Easter varies year to year, one may end up with a shorter period than is commonly expected.  This year, it's about 25 days between Ash Wednesday and the equinox.

One could though start at Imbolc and go to the equinox.  That would be about 6 weeks, or 42 days, closer to the length of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter.               

I have off and on, over the years, done "something," whether it's give up or add to, or both.  My earlier life in Christianity didn't have this, so it's not something that is a hold over for me.  The idea of doing something for the purpose of enhancing one spiritually has always been appealing to me.

SO... I will be starting this year tomorrow on Ash Wednesday.  I am starting later because to be honest, I've felt in a spiritual drought since mid January, and basically skipped the entire Imbolc season. I didn't go to any group rites, didn't do anything at home... not a great thing for a person who considers herself a Bridgid devotee.  I need to get my spirit right. Not because the gods demand it, but because I do. I am more centered and calm when I have my spiritual house in order.

My goal then is to do specific things that will address that:

  • Daily devotionals every day. Preferably in the morning, but if not, then at another point during the day.
  • Evening rites as needed. I have my own liturgical calendar in my head, and it includes moon rites at the four phases, flame tending for Bridgid and other devotionals to other deities, my house spirits, and my ancestors.
  • Morning yoga and meditation.
  • Exercise
We'll see if it works.  I'm not going to call it a geas since the folkore seems to indicate that is something given to one, and this is just me talking.

Oh....I'll probably give up the Starbucks too....

Friday, January 3, 2020

2020 Runic Forecast

As usual, I pulled a rune for each of the Twelve Nights of Yule that we just finished (or 12 Days of Litha, if you prefer).  Each rune was pulled after the spirit of that day was honored, except for days 10 and 11, because I had a really hectic time with family those days.  Those got pulled before the sumble, and the Twelfth Night rune was pulled after we did the three rounds.

I did NOT pull a rune for the year all together (a keynote or significator). Everyone has their own path, and hopefully by now you know what yours is for the year. (If me!)

So, without further ado...

January -- Algiz

Interestingly enough the beginning of the year brings the rune of protection, and given the way the year has started, with the drums of war beating, it makes more sense to me than it did on the first night of Yule.   The protection here is divine; Algiz is associated with swan maidens and valkyries, so look to your spirits for insight on how to best protect you from the emotional roller coaster of this first month (really, days) of 2020.

February -- Kenaz

From under the protective wings of your spirits, you can begin to seek out the best direction to head.  If you're like me, you made some resolutions (formal or otherwise), and while January's advice may have been to pause to get your bearings, now it's time to emerge and start down your path for the year.  I always liken Kenaz to a modern flashlight; we use it to search for things in the dark.  So start searching for the direction to go because in March....

March -- Naudhiz

The rune for Naudhiz resembles the two sticks one rubs together to get a fire started, and March is now the time to do this. Most people are done with their resolutions by mid February, but remember, we got a late start!  That's okay though!  The energy of Naudhiz in March supports your endeavors to light your own fire.

April -- Perthro

April is spring time here in the north, and the energy now is of getting together with others. The Dice Cup could be an integral part of gaming, and fostering connections and collegiality with others. So come on out of the winter and into the spring. Take a chance on whatever socializing is more than your usual. If you're an introvert, that can mean maybe coffee with one other person; if you're a social butterfly, try some new venues to meet people.  Keep a special eye out for those with advise (or warnings) related to what your path is this year.

May -- Berkano

The poplar tree shoots up from it's roots, providing lots of opportunities. The birch tree was used in saunas for purification. May is about all sorts of opportunities that need to be weeded through, discarding those that aren't helpful, and keeping those that are.  Busy busy busy!

June -- Dagaz

All is clear when the sun breaks through the clouds.  The answers to your questions will come easily, and you will know with certainty the direction that you must take.  Be careful though, to not be blinded by that which shines too brightly.

July -- Ehwaz

In July, we renew our connection to our spirits. In January, we sheltered under their protection; in July we work with spirit in partnership, as a horse and rider work together.  Sometimes, they will guide us more intentionally, other times they will let us go, always there as an anchor if we go too far from where we want to be.

August -- Othala

The rune Othala reflect ancient lands, farms that were passed from generation to generation, and is a rune of ancestry, but also boundaries.  In August, we may need to reinforce those boundaries, having expanded them in April.  We will have learned the lessons we needed to, and now it's time to begin to reflect on these and how they relate to your path this year.  For that, you may need to firm up those boundaries, and decide when you can push through them. 

September -- Laguz

Water is associated with wisdom, and I always associate Laguz with the wells at the base of Yggdrasil, holding all the world's knowledge and wisdom.  Likewise, we all have our own, inner well of wisdom.  Take the lessons of the year so far and see how they can be integrated with your own past experiences and knowledge, to increase and enhance your own intuition.

October -- Uruz

In the Norse and Icelandic poems, Uruz refers to the dross or slag that comes out of the process of shaping and making.  Once you've taken the lessons of the year to your own inner well, it's time to integrate them even more into your life, in whatever way that is meaningful.  Uruz is a lot like the Temperance card on the Tarot, taking two (ore more) things and melding them together into something new and useful.  Good for the harvest time!

November -- Eihwaz

Eihwaz calls on us to renew our connection to the worlds of spirit and this world, however you see them.  At the beginning of November we're connecting with our ancestors at Samhain, and as we go towards winter (in the North), it's time to turn inwards, reflect on not just our path and the lessons learned there, but also our place in our cosmology, and connection with the divine however we see it.

December -- Ingwaz

 I will admit, I was at first puzzled by Ingwaz, but then I remembered my own experience with Ing (Freyr) as a god of peace and frith. While those things are called for in a month of social gatherings with friends and family, whether we want to be with them or not sometimes, I feel this is calling on us to bring those qualities into all parts of our world.  I also hope that this is a positive end to a year that has started off on some pretty stressful footing, and that we will all (humanity, not just those reading this) be able to enjoy those qualities and energies that this rune brings.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December Solstice a Long Day 12: Celebration!

Good Day! And Welcome to Day 12! 

Twelfth night!  New Year’s Eve!  Traditional parties work well here, but a more spiritual aspect can be observed either quickly at home or as part of the party!  Activities include divination (so placement of runes or other divination tools on the altar).  There’s also a suggestion I quite like from the Matthews’ book to gather juniper (if it wasn’t gathered on Day 9) and letting it dry by the fire (or wherever that is in a modern home) for use to bless the home tomorrow.  In addition, we burn the yule log, wreath, or whatever, at midnight as we ring in the new year (weather permitting). 

While it is New Year’s in the South, also, one could celebrate Twelfth Day, with a picnic or other similar activities. 

The next day, January 1.  Take down all the stuff and cleanse the residence by aspersing with the greenery from day 9 using melted snow or rain from day 8! 

I thank you for joining me in this rite, and hopefully the offerings given, and the blessings received flow out from us all, to bless the entire world.   And please join me for the March Equinox devotionals!

Monday, December 30, 2019

December Solstice a Long Day 11: Spirit Return to the Otherworld

 Good Day! And Welcome to Day 11! 

We are almost there!   As we prepare to return, we give one last nod to the spirits of the other world. We honored the Winter Wanderer and the Green Man at the beginning, so today we will honor those other-worldly “nature” spirits, who can move between the worlds, and who watch over us as we depart sacred time. 

The late Alexei Kondratiev, in his book “The Apple Branch,” has a whole ritual cycle about the Cosmic Boar Hunt that sends the Boar into the land/underworld in the dark half of the year, and out of it at Beltainnewhere he is replaced by the Stag.  The role of the boar in Christmas and winter activities can be seen in “The Boar’s Head Carol,” and the importance of the boar’s head to St. Stephen’s Day festivities, is believed to be an echo of an earlier offering to Ing (Freyr).  So this night in the north, we honor the boar, and the promise of abundance to come.  I place a boar carving on the altar and offer an apple for the Great Boar. 

That leaves the Stag, as Kondratiev’s counterpart to the boar.  There is a lot of important mythology of the importance of stags, or deer in general (and it is interesting that Freyr ends up using an antler to defend himself). They can be associated with protection and kingship, and thus the value of integrity.  I place antlers on the altar and offer corn for the Great Stag. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

December Solstice a Long Day 10: Preparing the Return

Good Day! And Welcome to Day 10! 

We are almost at the end, and as such, we need to make preparations to return to the more mundane world.  In the Matthews’ book, they talk about St. Distaff’s day, which is the first day after the Twelve Days of Christmas (usually the day after Epiphany) when women were permitted to return to their spinning.  As we prepare to return, we can place a symbol of our work on the altar, and honor those deities or spirits associated with that.   I tend to put my drop spindle on the altar, since not only will we be returning to work, we will be returning the house to its more mundane rhythms as well.   

Saturday, December 28, 2019

December Solstice a Long Day 9: Honoring the Green-kins

Good Day! And Welcome to Day 9! 

On Day 9, we celebrate the green growing things of the season. For the north, we honor the evergreen, that stays green even as the rest of the world appears to die.  We can honor and meditate (or even journey) on the world tree, placing a sprig of real evergreen on the altar, preferably juniper as that was used like sage for cleansing in northern Europe. 

In the south, we can honor the deciduous trees that will lose their leaves and go dormant six months from now. We can also honor the herbs and flowers that are at their peak, and place sprigs of herbs or flowers on the altar.