Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Happy Fall Equinox

At this, the balance point of the year, I engaged in a 3 day devotional. The devotional honors my local ecosystem, and the Norse pantheon in the Northern Hemisphere, but it can easily be flipped around for the Southern hemisphere.

I also originally wrote this as a devotional to specific deities, inspired by two large group rites in The Troth's Book of Blots. I scaled them down to just a simple devotional and offeratory framework, substituting general themes and suggested offerings for liturgical scripting.  I shared this with ADF in the mode of the "Yule-a-long," that druids all over the globe (because we have them now) can drive a current of "druidy energy around the world." Ideally, folks would honor the deities that are most appropriate for the themes from their own hearth practices, and that reflect their local ecosystems as well.  In retrospect, one could also honor the energies of moving from light to dark.

The altar is arranged in three sections. On the left, a green and yellow candle for the gods of the summer months. In the center, a Thor's hammer and a red candle for the god that protects our home. On the right, two white candles for the gods of the winter months.  The winter side of the altar is covered with black tulle.  In the front and center, is a disk pained half white and half black, with the rune "Jera" painted in red.

Ideally, I would have appropriate seasonal decorations on the Summer and Winter sides of the altar, however our two 4 year old cats are still very mischievous, so the fewer unofficial toys, the better!

Day one: Friday, September 21.   Honoring the end of the Summer.  Giving thanks for the gifts of the fertile season, be they agricultural or more symbolic. In our home, I honored Freyr and Freya, the Lord and Lady of the Vanir, for the gifts of fertility of the land that is now being harvested.
I offered black cherry tomatoes from my garden  (the only thing that grew!), blueberries from the store, and mead.

Day two: Saturday, September 22.  The equinox arrived at 9:54 p.m., so the devotional was at that time.  I had chosen a stick from a yard of a friend who had an equinox rite earlier that day, to honor a fellow druid, Earrach of Pittsburgh, who would break a stick to mark the exact moment of the solstice or equinox.  I then made offerings to Thor, who is a patron of our home, and protects humanity from fire giants and frost giants alike.  I thanked him for his protections in the season that had passed, and asked for his blessings and protections for the seasons to come. I offered him a dark wheat roll and a bottle of Yngling lager.

On the altar you will also see five disks, which have runes drawn on them. At the pot-luck we went to, as part of the rite, we were given these disks to then write or draw symbols of what we were thankful for. I thought this was a wonderful idea, so I added them to my altar.

Day three: Sunday, September 23. Welcoming the beginning of Winter.  While it may not be my favorite season, it has an important role in the well being of the planet.  It's all about attitude, right? So, greeting gods associated with the Winter with gifts and in a positive way hopefully can help me view it more positively...right? Maybe?

Anyway, I honored Skadhi and Ullr. Skadhi is a giant who marries Njordh (long story) but doesn't want to live at the sea with him, because she misses her snowy mountains.  Ullr is associated with hunting with bow and arrow and often pictured on skis.  I offered them vodka (Grey Goose, in honor of the geese flying over head) and jerky, to represent the preservation of food to store through the winter.

I also, as you can see, asked for an omen each night.

Day 1:  What lesson that I learned should I take with me into the next season.  My omen was Cat (using the Druid Oracle).

"...the ability to observe situations quietly without judgement before making decisions.  You have a right to know and to judge important issues for yourself in your own time."

Day 2:  What skills or knowledge can be useful to protect me going forward?  Omen was Hare
"You will be well able to negotiate times of change, and you will be able to draw on your intuition to guide you through life."

Day 3:  What is the lesson to learn for the season to come? Om..en was Hawk.

"Free yourself from unnecessary 'baggage' and ... connect to your ancestral roots. Once you know where you have come from and where you are going, you will be able to make decisions with confidence."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Forecast

As part of the Twelve Days of Yule, I pulled a rune each day to get an omen for each month of the coming year.  While I report what I see, it's entirely possible that anyone reading this will get a different interpretation, based on their own life-path.  Please take these things as general trends.

Overall -- Raidho.  The over all theme of the year is the journey.  It can be a physical journey, or travel, but I feel this is about something much more spiritual and internal that will happen.  Many people may experience a re-awakening or discover a new interest in the realm of their spirituality, or other things they strongly believe.  They may become more politically active.  Whatever the direction, it is good to remember "The point of the journey is not to arrive" (Peart, "Prime Mover").

January -- Hagalaz.  No one likes Hagalaz, it's not all bad.  Hagalaz is the seed egg, the whole of potential contained into one small package.  It is the catalyst that is necessary for the big changes to happen. Big Changes sometimes require space, and so Hagalaz is the sudden and unavoidable clearign of the way, so those changes can take place.

February -- Isa.  I always call this one the most complicated rune, even though the symbol is not.  After the "big changes" of January, in February Isa counsels patience and waiting. Forcing things through is like walking on can't always tell if it will hold your weight.  Best to stay put or find another way.

March -- Tiwaz.  Patience in February is rewarded by a knowledge of the direction to take in March.   It may be that there are several possibilities, but only one will be the correct one. Choose your way wisely.

April -- Eihwaz.  Like the world tree, Eihwaz is about strength.  It's about being rooted and connected, and draw upon that connection to withstand challenges and persevere.  The direction indicated in March requires strength, and that strength is within us.

May -- Sowilo.  The sun shines brightly and reveals all.  Shadows flee and that which was once hidden is now know.  We are victorious when we rid ourselves of the secrets that still lurk to get in our way.

June -- Algiz.  The swan and the elk-sedge (Elhaz, it's other name) bring us protection.  I like to think this rune speaks to both steps we can take on our own for protection, and also from the divine as well, and in this case it feels like we should call upon both.  Be proactive, rather than reactive, because...

July -- Thurisaz.  The thorns are sharp and pointy, and they hurt...BUT they are not impossible.  Thurisaz is the obstacle, but it's an obstacle that can be over come, if you're ready (remember Algiz last month?) and careful.  Take your time, and go through whatever the process is.

August -- Ehwaz.  The horse and rider are partners.  They aren't quite unequal, but each has a strength they have to manage to make the partnership work. The rider has the reigns, and usually determines where to go and how fast. The horse goes along...although she could easily throw the rider off.  Look to the role of partnerships like this, and see if you're the horse or the rider, and if that's the best role to have.

September -- Perthro.  The joy of community, and the connection of others.  The dice cup refers to games played in meadhalls, a form of entertainment.  Today we can have similar connections to draw upon in times of need, or just to celebrate our triumphs.

October -- Berkano. The birch branches purify, and remove all negativity in the saunas.  Purge and remove those things standing in your way, especially those things within.  We can only control ourselves, so that is where we can do the most with Berkano.

November -- Ingwaz.  Ing/Freyr has been associated with the growing grain, in the myth of the wooing of Gerdh. In the poem he arrives from the east, so may have solar associations (although not a sun god).  He is going west, to ward the land of the Vanir, and is also associated with frith and peace.  November should be a time therefor of harvesting  the results of the year's works, and having a sense of peace and calm as the winter draws on.

December -- Laguz.  The deepest waters house all the wisdom of the worlds. So too, we have our own inner wells of wisdom, and the experiences of this year get added to that, to enhance our own storehouses of wisdom. Reflection on all that has transpired, what has been learned, what has been released... all activities prepare us for the coming year.

Friday, December 4, 2015

2016 Forecast

PSA:  I will be starting a 4-session rune class at Enchanted Elements starting Wednesday, December 9.  Follow that link to enroll.  there will be 4 sessions:

  1. Introduction to Norse cosmology
  2. Freyr's Aett (first 8 runes)
  3. Hodr's Aeitt (second 8 runes)
  4. Tyr's Aeitt (final 8 runes)
PSA2: I will be at Pure Joy Massage and Yoga on December 19 for readings, reiki, and a workshop/meditation on the spiritual gifts of Winter.

And now, on to the forecast.

I like to do two of centered on the 8 High Days (solar year) and one for each month (lunar year).  This one is done using the Druid Plant and Animal Oracle.  As always you can search for the images if you like, to see what meanings you can draw from them personally.   In keeping with the sort of Jungian interpretation (I know not exactly), for the Solar year I focus on what energies are go come for the community at large, although I've often found that people who read these get something specific to them out of it too.  (The lunar reading will focus more on inward stuff, and will likely support this reading in interesting ways, if past experience tells me anything!)  I'll start with Yule 2015 since that's closest to our New Year, and run through to Samhain 2016.

Overall:  Meadowsweet

The upcoming year is a time of celebration and transition!  Meadowsweet may have been used in the brewing of ale, often a celebratory act in and of itself.  Change is a constant, of course, but special attention to changes that are of a natural, progressive type is the hallmark of the coming year.

Yule 2015 -- Madder

Madder is a wild plant from southern Britain and Europe.  Madder suggests that a great change is coming, one that ought to be marked by some sort of celebration, a personal or communal rite of passage, reinforcing the keynote of Meadowsweet.  Not all change should be feared, and much is a natural, normal, and joyful part of life.  This doesn't mean that strength is not needed, but that the change needs not be approached with dread.

Imbolc 2016 -- Cat

Cats in the ancient world were even less domesticated than they are now (hard to imagine), and like our modern companions judged situations for themselves to do what was in their best interests.  We should be no different in the late winter months.  Cats wait, and watch, and perceive the imperceptible; and then decide.  We too should wait, watch, and be open to the small quiet messages our intuition sends us...then decide.

Spring Equinox 2016 -- Crane

If you have never watched a crane hunting, you should.  Cranes teach the value of perseverance (one of ADF's Virtues) and focus.  They patiently wait, watching the pool of water until their meal comes by.  They also bring a connection to the underworld, as cranes can help guide the spirits of the deceased.  The patience from Imbolc continues through the Equinox, as the we await signs of the Earth's awakening, and whatever is awakening within us as well.  (I wonder if this means a late start to spring? We shall see!)  Either way, once a decision has been reached during Imbolc, another time of patience follows.

Beltainne 2016 -- Betony

A prolific herb, Betony is valued for its healing properties, and the early summer of Beltainne brings with it a need or drive to heal old wounds and resolve conflicts.  Time allows the immediacy of hurts to fade, so we are more receptive to healing after some has past.  Betony also cautions to make sure that positive solutions are sought, and also to make sure we aren't sweeping things away that will just rear up to cause pain again.

Midsummer 2016 -- Frog

It always amazes me where things fall, and certainly I think of frogs singing me to sleep at festival in the summertime.  Frogs are liminal, at home in the water and on land, and midsummer is one of those liminal times.  Frogs too are associated with healing, and the knowledge and sensitivity that comes from new realizations.  As we know better, we do better, so we can go forward, renewed and refreshed.

Lughnasadh 2016 -- Ivy

Ivy's many twining leaves and branches can be seen as resembling the knotwork so loved by Celts and Norse, and I've often wondered if it was that which inspired it.  The Matthews' suggest the Druids connected Ivy with inspiration, and certainly following the knotwork or ivy as it weaves and wends around itself can be the kind of meditative activity that can bring new insights.  To get into that receptive state means untangling yourself from any thing remaining that is conflicting.  It feels very much like this is a time of resolution and preparation for new messages and energies.

Autumn Equinox 2016 -- Yarrow

Yarrow is associated with faithfulness, and can be a sign to retain faithfulness to a person, ideal, organization, etc., or that one needs to reconsider.  Either way, it is a time for a full and honest examination of those things, and an active one.  Yarrow is a masculine herb, so (to be Jungian for a moment) get in touch your strong, active, outward-focused self to aid in this process.  No one will do it for you.

Samhain 2016 -- Salmon

A wonderful omen to end the year with! Salmons are ancient signs of wisdom, and that the process of the year is bringing you to new wisdom and self-knowledge.  You may need to go against the grain, and it may feel like swimming upstream, but the reward which you seek is worth the effort.

Have a blessed 2016!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Samhain 2015 and a Word with the Lord of the Dead

It has been a while.  We had a death in the family.  And I could not regain my equilibrium to be able to do my spiritual work.  That is, of course, the time one most needs it...however that is also easy to say and believe when you are not living it.

So this evening, after the grove rite, after my spouse had gone to bed, I decided to do some work.  I actually decided after the latest death of a family member of a friend.  This year, 2015, has been particularly hard in this realm.  People I know have lost loved ones.  WE lost a loved one.  I had decided I was quite done with all this loss and was going to give the Lord of the Dead a piece of my mind.

I drummed myself to the Underworld, this time trying to be purposeful and methodical as I went through the steps.  (I tend to jump from place to place, or "bamph" as one friend called it.  I always feel I should slow down though.)  I got to the bridge, crossed, found the gate open as I went through.  I was in the room that was mine for seeing.  I had never been there before, but imagined what it looked like in my mind.  There's a low fire, and a deep pond before the seat.  I did not take the seat, but I did see Donn, the Lord of the Dead who knew I was coming and why.  (He also seemed to be amused, that I would come to HIS land to make the demands I was about to make.)

"You brought no offerings."

No, I did not.  I did not feel the need to bring offerings to one who had taken so much already.

"What brings you here then?"

I felt he already knew. But I told him anyway.  I told him he needed to just stop.

"You know that is not possible."

I knew ... but still he could slow down, turn his attention elsewhere. Maybe some of those war mongers and war profiteers had been on the planet a bit too long, just as a suggestion.

"It is not possible because that is not my role.  I rule here, but I do not call people here. Nature does that.  I simply hold the place for the souls when they come to rest, and keep them from suffering."

Could they may be not suffer so much to begin with?  I was seeking compromise.

"Death is nature.  You yourself say natures is neither good nor bad.  It simply is.  It is the same with Death.  And life. Every tear shed in grief is a drop of water that flows back to the earth, and down to the waters and finds its way here.  I absorb as much as I can to keep the suffering of the living from affecting the suffering of the dead."

It had not occurred to me.  He reached to embrace me.  I let him.

"Child of Earth...I feel your grief and the grief of those around you.  It is also part of Nature, and I cannot change Nature.  I can only keep the souls of the Dead safe until they move on.  I can only assure you of that.  Your grief will fade, and all will be at peace."

There was more ... but it is fading even now.  He gave me a gift to help one with pain and loss.

"It will not take his grief away, as that too is part of nature.  But it will bring peace."

I nodded, and I produced a bag of coins ... I had an offering after all.


In this season of remembering the ancestors, we recognize our loss as much as we recognize the natural order of things, and the journey beyond.  May we be at peace with it all, and may we remember as we go through the dark of the year.  Blessed Samhain.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Insights for March and post-convocation reflections

Hi there folks,

I will get to our forecast for March in a moment.  Sadly, I can NOT tell if we are going to ever thaw out and if spring will actually spring or if this is really Ragnarok, as I keep fearing.  First though, I returned last weekend from Convocation in Michigan.  This is a really well done event, and I was glad to be presenting and participating.  My classes (Indo European Warrior Goddesses, and Coffee and Piety) were well attended.  (Coffee and Piety had three, but for early Sunday morning after the big Saturday night party, I will take that as a win.)  In the process, I discovered how blessed we are as pagans to have easy access, relatively speaking, to the "elders" of our faiths.  I put that in quotes, as I think I might be the same age as a few of them.  However, being able not only to sit in workshops with them as they present their information, but then also to be able have conversations afterward or the next day is something I am not sure lots of other religions have.

I was blessed to take part in the Oracular Seidh rite put on by Diana Paxson and Lorrie Wood, and to work closely with Elisheva Nesher and Sarenth Odinson.  And, I left with homework so that I may deepen my abilities both for myself and to see for my folk.  I am deeply grateful, humbled, and yes, a little hesitant.  But now is the time, and I'm really excited.

Now...what is out there for us for March?

To recap, our overview for 2015 is maintaining our groundedness and boundaries in the face of the unexpected.  The rune for March is Raidho.  Raidho is the journey, and I often line that up with the Chariot in the Tarot.  This month we are reminded that as we leave the fellowship of Perthro from February, we are in control of the direction we take.  There's a warning that the journey can be tedious, especially if we are not the one with the reigns, so being present and mindful will help.

The Druid Oracle Heather from Imbolc reminds us through the middle of the month to continue to celebrate the positive.  For those of us facing yet ANOTHER winter storm, that might be a stretch, but each day we can see the sun rising earlier and setting later.  The massive snows ensure water for our food and flowers.  At Spring Equinox the energy shifts to Burdock.  Burdock is a symbol of purification and harvest, but in this position it's the clearly away of anything negative.  Spring is (hopefully!) a time of planting, and one has to clear away the old matter for the new things to grow.  So too with us.  By focusing on the positive we can then identify the negative and notice that we didn't need it after all.  Negatives just distract us when those unexpected things (Poppies) come up!

So move forward, take the reigns and free yourself from all holding you back!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 Overview and Reading for January and February

It's almost February and it's high time I get this posted.

My Solstice season was...trying.  I was sick... really sick.  I did not get to do my 12 Days of Yule, nor any of the other activities I enjoy doing.  So I'm playing catch up for my Year in Preview Reading.  I actually did the spreads on January 7.  I decided to incorporate two of my favorite tools, the runes (obviously) and the Druid Animal/Plant oracle.  Annually, I have done a Druid Oracle spread on Samhain of every year for myself for the year to come.  This year I decided to start doing one for "the community at large," take that for what you will.

(I am also celebrating Nine Days of Brighid with for Imbolc, a home hearth devotional organized by Sassafras Grove, ADF. Look for it on Facebook!)

The Druid Oracle cards mark transitions at each of the quarter and cross quarter days.  The runes are monthly.  One could see them as lunar and the Oracale cards as solar if you wish, but that wasn't in my brain as I was doing it.  Although (scrolling back up to add this) as I look at it, the runes feel to me like those are the "obvious" or "above the surface" influences, while the Oracles are the undercurrent, unseen guiding energies.  Neat!

[Sadly, I did not think to get a photo of the reading, but I may lay it back out later and edit it in.  I dont' think that should get me in any copywrite trouble with the card manufacturers.]

Runic Focus: Othala
Druid Oracle:  Poppy

The overall focus for the year is one of home and groundedness.  Othala represents land, especially those ancestral lands that are handed down through generations.   It's not just the land itself, but the connection to our roots, and the knowledge therein.  It's knowing ourselves, knowing where we end and where the world begins.  What are our boundaries, when do give a little, and when do we say, "Enough is Enough!"  This is mediated by the energy of Poppy.  Poppies can often show up and disappear without much warning, so our focus may get some surprises out of nowhere.  Boundaries may be pushed in ways that are unexpected, or our responses may be surprising.  In all, however, dealing with the unexpected is a necessary step on our journey this year, but as they say, forewarned is forearmed.

Winter Solstice - Bramble
January Wunjo

Wunjo is often translated as Joy.  A closer look at the poems though, and this is not the joy of ecstasy or extreme passion.  Wunjo is about being satisfied with one's lot.  Not in the way that we are told to just be happy with what we have when we are seeking something better.  More in lines with realizing one's blessings and focusing on that.  If one has a roof over one's head, food to eat, clothing...then one has "enough."  Given the focus for the year, January could be a time of taking inventory and honestly being aware of all one has, rather than what one does not.

At the Winter Solstice, the energy of Bramble begins to flow under this "taking stock."  Brambles are historically hard to get rid of, and so stubbonness, or, more kindly, tenacity is the undercurrent.  It can be very difficult to let go of things we've come to hold dear.  This is especially true when we're talking things that we view as negative; we SO like to focus on that over the positive. Having said that, I'm also feeling like the "boundary" nature of Bramble is important too, and while it's necessary to let go of that which doesn't serve, it is also necessary to stick to one's guns, and dig one's heels in when one has to.  It's the knowing of the difference that's the thing.

February Perthro

Perthro is a rune both of fate and of camaraderie.  We see in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem images of friends sharing a meal and a drink--this feels clearly like an extension of Wunjo from the start of the year.  And, given the way February is in Ohio, drawing on friends to cheer you through this dreary month is not bad advice.  We are defined by those we surround ourselves with, and good friends will tell us when we've overstepped.

Imbolc -- Heather

Heather in this deck is a bringer of luck and a good omen.  It suggests a time of celebration or major life transition, and again advises us to celebrate life, rather than dwell on the negativity.  As the sun becomes stronger heading towards spring, our ties to others, as indicated in Perthro, are an important part of our lives, and should be celebrated on into the spring.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Happy Calendar-Lughnasadh (and reading)...LATE~!

Author's Note: I actually wrote this soon after August 1.  And then I went about my merry way until I sat down to start the Autumn Equinox post.  That was when I discovered I had neglected to hit the "Publish" button.  I'm sure you all did well without the guidance, but now you can look backward and see if it was spot on or not.

If you have heard me talk about the high days at all, you will know that the so-called 'cross quarter days,' the four Celtic fire festivals (Beltainne, Lughnasadh, Samhain, and Imbolc) I tend to celebrate them based on what my land is doing.  I don't have a lot of land, only a few raised garden beds, and I'm definitely not dependent on them for my survival.  But I have this romantic notion that these holidays were not fixed to a specific date on a calendar (that likely did not exist), but that the holy day happened based on certain things going on in the agricultural cycle.  The "date" of which might have varied from year to year, if there were a calendar to go by, and instead the folk would wait for certain signs.

For the past few years, I've been trying to track said signs, and as such, we actually celebrated Lughnasadh last week.  Our "first fruits" come way before August 1, so celebrating them then ... well, they're long gone. Instead, we waited until we had a plentiful harvest of our zucchini, beans, strawberries and other things.  We had a fire, and we sacrificed last year's corn dolly after transferring her magic to this year's, along with flowers from the yard in full bloom and a sampling of our harvest.

Ideally, the first tomatoes or my sunflowers blooming could also signify "Lughasadh" but we got those in late.  I was also noticing the cicadas are really starting to sing the last few weeks so if you don't have a garden, that could be your signal as well. Really, anything that to you signifies "late summer."

Lughnasadh is I think my favorite of the high days.  It's also interesting that it's the one I think we've kept up the best, even though we don't call it that.  Here in Ohio, we have a plethora of agricultural festivals.  There's the various county fairs, and then the Ohio State Fair which date-wise encompasses Lughnasadh.   But lots of small towns have festivals celebrating sweet corn, zucchini, blueberries, and tomatoes all through August.  (There's more through September and then ends at the end of October with the Circleville Pumpkin Show).

There are competitions of various types, games, rides, food, enjoyment, parades and a queen chosen for each one (goddess of the land representative, anyone).  What could be more Lughnasadh than that!!

We are now almost finished with the year.  This year's keynote was the Air Dragon, a very powerful insight and clarity.  Like a bolt of lightning, many of us may have received sudden realization of what our path shoudl be, and all the steps of the year were necessary to understand and work with that realization.  Most recently, we let go of or repaired relationships that were holding us back.

For the Lughnasadh arc of the wheel, the omen is Borage.  The keywords for borage are "courage, forgetfulness, and gladness."  While these are somewhat odd together, I am reminded of something my spouse often says. "Forget me today, so that we can meet anew tomorrow."  The idea is that we should not carry preconceived notions about people, or situations, with us, and we should not hold any grudges toward others.  Similarly, borage calls us to have the courage to look beyond ourselves, towards what is for "the greater good."  It could be through selflessness, advocacy, or just being willing to move past old grudges and hurts that have been the focus of the last two arcs.  We are done with them.

From the east, representing our mental, intellectual life, we have Agrimony.  That certainly fits into the whole journey we've been on, as we get rid of those old things that have been holding us back, and make way for the new. One of the things associated with the purification of Agrimony is that in addition to purifying, it also energize, so we can forge ahead courageously, as Borage indicates.

From the south, Plantain informs our sensuality and our instincts. The resiliency of Plantain supports the energy of Agrimony, while also reminding us to remain grounded.  For some reason, this brings to my mind work with the lower chakras.

West brings the energy of Swan to our emotions, feeling selves.  Swan brings us love and beauty, and is reminder that we too our worthy of love, of others and of ourselves.

Finally the North and our intuitive, spiritual side is the energy of Seal.  Seal dives into the depths of the oceans, the waters of the world, a fairly overwhelming process.  However, like the souls that travel under the waters back to Guinay, we emerge transformed.

Taken together, having left behind the hurts of the past we forge courageously ahead, and what is forgiven is also forgotten; it no longer holds sway over us.  We work this 8th on purifying ourselves further and energizing us for the work ahead.  We work on being resilient and grounded, remembering that to love others, we must first love ourselves, and we use all of that to dig deep into the waters of wisdom to aid us in this transformation.

Bright blessings!