coven

To Brigid

Cauldron of the Celts – Sacred Calendar Year – Brigid’s Holy Day

Being a Gaelic Polytheist that does not currently have a Gaelic Polytheist community at hand, I spend a lot of my time and effort being a public priestess in a interfaith pagan coven known as CAYA Coven as I have found the community aspect to be so very enriching to my life and practice. Over the years CAYA has grown to the point where we can now group off into devotional affinity groups of priestesses that share a deity or culture or other grouping. One such groups that I am apart of is the Cauldron of the Celts. All of us publicly dedicated to deities that fall under the “Celtic” umbrella. Currently that means Irish and Romano-Breton but in future could include Gaulish, Welsh and so on. Being a multi-faith group means that everyone is coming from a different angle as far as practice and so forth but I have to say that it has been refreshing to have more people to talk about the lore and cultural background of things, as well as be able to share our devotions and put on some truly wonderful rites for the gods.

In that vein we have collective decided it would be a good idea to start a Sacred Calendar year for the group, with a holy day selected for each of our dedicated deities. Understanding that nothing about this is particularly Gaelic but a more modern adaptation to further foster reverence and honor to the gods. It also provides an opportunity to share with the wider community, and be of service. With that being said the first day of reverence this year starts with Brigid, and below is a humble offering for all those who feel called to partake.


To Brigid

Cauldron of the Celts Sacred Calendar Year – Brigid’s Holy Day 2/1/15

The Cauldron of the Celts, a multi-faith devotional group within CAYA Coven, is endeavoring to establish our Sacred Calendar Year. Each priestess is publicly dedicated to a deity who falls under the wide “Celtic” umbrella and has chosen a date on our modern calendar year to be a day of reverence to their deity. In an effort to connect with other devotees and be of service to the public we share this calendar and some of our own workings, that we may all raise up the Gods names in honor.

Our calendar year begins with Brigid’s holy day on Feb 1st.

The priestesses of Brigid, Foxfire Kells and Doyenne Rowan, invite you to send us any petitions you wish to make before the goddess and we will offer them to her in supplication and gratitude on her holy day. You may email them at cauldronofthecelts@gmail.com.

Below are a few words from the priestesses of Brigid:

Imbolc is celebrated in honor of the goddess Brigid between January 31st and February 2nd; the name of the holy day comes from the Old Irish imbolg or oimelc, meaning “in the belly,” referring to the season of lambing and ewe’s milk. Brigid emerges from the silence of winter to herald the coming of spring and new life and growth; she is also a goddess of the forge, of the hearth, of poetry and inspiration, and of healing. Her symbols include lambs or sheep,  wells, writing implements, acorns, apples, milk, snowdrops and crocuses, and, of course, fire.

Imbolc falls during the Celtic tree month (a neo-pagan construct based on Robert Grave’s interpretation of the ancient symbolic language of ogam) of Luis (lweesh), which is the Gaelic name for the rowan tree, so one activity you can do is to make a protection charm of 2 crossed rowan twigs bound with red thread. For more information about the history of the Rowan and red thread charm you can find a incredibly thorough article here.

Another one of Her traditions is to leave out cloth or clothing to be blessed by Brigid on Imbolc, often to be used for healing and protection purposes for the following year. Given the current events happening, Her face of healing is very clearly one that is needed in the world and in our community.

To welcome and honor Brigid into your home and life, you may wish to perform the following ritual:

Lay out a white or yellow cloth
Place a white candle in the center
Arrange around the candle 3 acorns and/or apples, a small bowl of fresh water (spring water or melted snow is ideal), a sprig of juniper, and a small bundle of wool roving.
Prepare an offering plate with a piece of bread spread with soft cheese and a drizzle of honey, and some apple slices.

Light the candle and contemplate what new projects or endeavors you want to nurture this year. How will you tend to these goals? How will you tend to yourself? What parts of yourself or your life are beginning to emerge with the Spring? How do you keep the fires of your creativity and motivation burning as the year wears on?  Do you make space in your life for pleasure and the warmth of family (however you define it)?

Say a prayer or sing a song to Brigid to bring her into the room.
Feel free to use or adapt this prayer, as you wish:

My good lady Brigid,
I call upon you to light the fire of inspiration in my heart,
to warm my hearth and burn away the cold shroud of winter,
just as the snowdrops burn through the frozen ground to burst forth in flower
and give the promise of renewal.

My good lady Brigid,
I offer you my devotion and gratitude
for the many ways you bring joy and beauty to life in the world.
May my lips ever sing your praises and my hands bring comfort and healing;
ever may the embrace of my favour glorify your name.

Offer Brigid the bread with cheese & honey and the apples, for sweetness and sustenance.

Dip the juniper sprig in the water you have charged and asperge your house to bless and protect you in the coming year.

More Links and Points of interest:
Detailed article about the customs in Ireland and Scotland of Là Fhèill Brìghde
:http://www.tairis.co.uk/festivals/la-fheill-brighde
Craft Ideas for Imbolc: http://unfetteredwood.blogspot.com/2014/01/crafts-for-imbolc.html
video from Gaol Naofa on the celebration of Imbolc: http://youtu.be/oEieym5uI7k
Podcasts from Story Archaeology about Brigid and her various tales:  http://storyarchaeology.com/category/series-01-mythical-women/mythical-women-05-the-search-for-brigid/

Cauldron of the Celts 2015 Sacred Calendar Year:
Feb 1st – Brigid’s Holy Day
March 19th – Sulis Minerva’s Holy Day
June 21st – Honoring of the Selkie
August 1st – Lugh’s Holy Day
August 9th – An Dagda’s Holy Day

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Update: Dusting off the Blog

Clearly things have slowed down to a grinding halt as far as my internet shenanigans. Lots of different factors have attributed to it, life in general being one. The juggling that was required from the end of last  year to the now of this year just did not leave a lot of room for documentation and the time for sitting down in prose contemplation. This coupled with some anxiety issues made it just better all around to take a break from my usual plugged in time. But that is the way of things, and the rhythms of life work so that everything changes and flows.

I find myself now in a place of wanting to return to the basics and refresh myself on research that is the foundation of my practice. Gaelic Polytheism being one of those religions known for it’s “homework”. One of the immense perks that I see to the internet and the pagan and polytheistic community on the internet is being able to better share information and ideas. I don’t know how many times I have gone to the internet for research convinced that someone somewhere must be talking about this, must have some ideas of their own, and sometimes find very little. Because of that feeling I try and make it a point to put out what I can. Which was one of the many reasons I started this blog to begin with. Granted I’m not a great producer of content like some people, but I do hope that what I have to share may find the right person looking for it.

All that wordy preamble is to say that I will be posting my thoughts and “work” here on the blog. There are two larger projects that will be happening that in all likely hood will inspire more work on my part.

First, is that I will be re-reading the Tain (twice over actually). I recently dug out my old copy of The Tain by Thomas Kinsella, and felt inspired to go through reading it while making notes of my observations. The things that I find useful to my practice, or the things that I ponder about spiritually etc. But I also know that there is a translation out there that is more supported in the CR community, that is Ciarán Carson’s version. It seems entirely possible to me that by reading both versions there would be a huge chance of discovery in the comparison. So I went ahead and bought a copy and will by posting reviews and break downs story by story, starting next Tuesday. These posts will always be posted on Tuesday and will go on their own page titled Tain Tuesday.

Second, in my larger public coven work we have started smaller devotional groups amoungst the clergy that have dedications to the same or similar deities. This is another opportunity to further our internal interfaith work of being able to come together as people with different practices and create rituals and works around those deities and energies specifically. One excellent example of this is the Queens of Heaven, a devotional group that is dedicated to the goddesses that hold the title of Queen of Heaven (of whom Temple Witch is apart of) are putting together a zine Crowned by Star and Sky. Not surprising in both of my groups I am the only Gaelic Polytheist (lets be real in the whole coven) but everyone in the group is very much interested in pursuing some Celtic studies. We have decided to start with Barry Cunliffe’s, The Ancient Celts. This will be another re-read for me but the added discourse of discussion with other people will be awesome.  We are going to start in May, and again I will be posting my notes and reviews here.

Then in addition to this I have already started to collect my prayers and songs on their own page. I will continue to post new things there, and will be adding audio files for the songs soon.

That’s the plan thus far. Thank you to everyone who has stuck around in this little corner of the internet.

Starting something new…

arms_open_by_waitingforemma-d4chrhkArms Open by ~WaitingForEmma on deviantART

For several years now a project, an idea, has been brewing in my mind. A growing desire to create a space for something that I need, while providing that same space for others who may also need. All the way back in 2011 when I wrote “Carving out more Worship”  it was this new space and project that was on my mind. Now I am literally days away from enacting it. 2013 it seems, is the year of fulfilling a lot of promises, and making vows.

As those of you who read this odd little blog may know or at least summize, I am a public priestess. For several years now I have worked with CAYA Coven and the Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe putting on countless rituals. No literally countless, I have loss track. Our Coven puts on 8 sabbats, 9-13 full moon rituals, 8 pan-dianic sabbats, and a smattering of other rituals in the minuscule inbetweens. Learning ritual coordination and creation in this dynamic group with Yeshe Rabbit’s excellent example has been one of the highlights and true blessings of my public priestess path.

Even with all those rituals, and the calendar year packed, I still felt little tug that something was missing. See CAYA rituals are fantastic, and dynamic and always changing. Always learning. With all those people with their different ideas, paths, and ways the stream of creativity is truly astounding. But on the flip side CAYA rituals are eclectic, and interfaith and most the time do not speak to my specific path. They certainly fulfill my community needs but I knew that I would eventually need to be more of a public priestesses for my gods specifically, in some way.

When you are elbow deep in public ritual it’s hard not to start creating your own, imagining different flavors you would try, the things that are important to you, the things you would probably not do. And as a Celtic Polytheist who has yet to experience a Celtic-centered ritual that she was truly happy with, the thought “put up or shut up” began to circle round and joined forces with another reality.

In the Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe every HPS is expected to create and maintain a project that benefits and brings forth the Divine Feminine into the world. These are our Legacies. For the past two years my Legacy was High Priestessing the Goddess Sabbats that the Tribe put on. That meant maintaining, coordinating, and helping wherever needed with the 8 sabbats we put on every year. The “put up or shut up” had teamed up with a whisper of  “what if you did your own rituals for your Legacy?” The threads began to come together.

During my many Dark Moon outings with Temple Witch to our beloved beach another tugging became known. That of the soul satisfying rush of worshiping outside. There are many pagans whose path is not nature based, I’m not one of them. The three realms, Land, Sea, and Sky, and the mysteries and balance found within them are things that get my blood up. Nothing so easily puts me into alignment than being in the alignment of the realms. It feels whole and right to create a relationship with the local places. To see the subtle changes of a place. To notice when people have been less than kind to it, to do what you can to make amends (cleaning up trash).

Another layer, perhaps the most eye opening layer, was the freedom that came with worshiping freely within the eyesight and earshot of whomever. Creating the normalcy of it all.

I have to say I am damn lucky to live in the part of the country where that is even possible. Where no one intrudes and asks what I’m doing while bent over intently by my serpentine rock altar.  And while a few eyebrows may be raised as Temple and I wander out into the cold waves with out silver chalice singing our songs and laughing, no one heckles. No one shouts. There is no danger.

That’s simply not true everywhere.

In Florida, Kyjra Withers has been experiencing escalating attacks on her home.  While it there is no official stance on who or why, but evidence seems to point to her being targeting for her being an out witch. It’s sort of hard to imagine such things happening now and in this country. Especially when you live in a liberal area, and work at a metaphysical store, and in general have never experienced any harassment for being a pagan.

The knowledge of this inspires a sense of responsibility in me. That this freedom, that should be available to all, needs to be utilized, cared for and nurtured. Because it needs to be protected. It needs to grow.

Thus were the small pieces that came together and became a vision for rituals, for a platform that I’m calling the Temple of the Open Sky.

The Temple of the Open Sky is founded on the belief that freedom of religion is a right that needs to be practiced when and where it can be. Here in the SF Bay area we are privileged with a freedom from fear of retaliation for outward expression of differing religious beliefs that is not found elsewhere in the USA, let alone in the World. It is this truth that brought forth that need to create a space where the Gods names were spoken outside of closed doors, without hiding, witnessed under the open sky.

In that vein, the Temple of the Open Sky seeks to create a platform for pagan worship and devotion that is supportive of the many and varying methods of finding the divine. To create a safe container, free from shame, to be out in the world with our spirituality.

For me being a Celtic Polytheist, and the founder of these rituals, it means that for now the rituals are going to be Celtic-centric. I’m not aiming for reconstructionism  but for culturally founded and modernly adapted. But the underlying goal is creating a space for authentic expression of worship and normalization of that worship. In the future I hope that other priests and priestesses in the area might wish to share their rituals, and speak their gods names aloud for all to hear.

An important aspect of the Temple is once again bringing feasting into ritual space. It’s not an easy aspect to work in modern times, especially in public rituals. While it would be easy to host a ritual and feast for a small party in a home when you know how many guests you are expecting, opening things to the public complicates matters. Dietary needs, and just the basics of feeding an unknown number of people quickly turn the idea to a dream out of reach. But the feast is such a central part of the Celtic celebratory ritual, and is the part that I  long for the most. Food being a central foundation of my practice. If we release the idea of trying to feed an unknown number of people without a budget and acknowledge the fact that we will be outside away from a kitchen anyways, an obvious solution presents itself. Picnic! A completely acceptable and long held American tradition, easily rolled into pagan worship. That simplicity really is the structure that I’m building on and hope others will enjoy as well.

But for now it’s just me, which means all Celts. The first ritual is scheduled for this coming Saturday and will be a devoted to Brighid. The next will be in June or July and devoted to Manannan Mac Lir. August or September will be in honor of Epona, and we will end the year feasting to the Dagda.

I plan on posting more about the process, how each of the events go, and even the outlines should anyone be interested in them.

Gotta say I’m a little nervous. But I know this is what I’m suppose to do.

Holding the Media to a higher standard

If you keep an eye out for pagans in the media you will probably be aware that FOX News recently picked up an old story apparently just so that they could make elitist  sexist, ignorant and generally to be expected base remarks on Pagans and Wiccans in particular. You can find the details at The Wild Hunt.

While I am not surprised by this in the least, as FOX News has already proven itself time and time again to be a irresponsible propaganda machine in far more damaging ways than this infraction. I was happy to see many in the pagan community taking a real course of action and stand about demanding a higher standard of our news media. I personally believe that this needs to happen on a wider scale across the board, and am hopeful that this beginning will lead to more.

With that said, I stand behind the statement of my community and coven in regards to this issue:

The Clergy of Come As You Are Coven, an Interfaith Pagan community in Northern California, take exception to the statements about Pagans and Wiccans made by Fox Network commentators Anna Kooiman, Clayton Morris, Tucker Carlson, and Tammy Bruce on-air Feb 17, 2013.  The inaccurate and slanted reporting and commentary permitted by the Fox Network on the topic of the recognition of Pagan and Wiccan holy days by the University of Missouri was an incident of egregious misinformation, lack of research, blatant sexism, religious prejudice, and personal invective. The remarks made by these Fox Network hosts were especially irresponsible in light of the increasing diversity of religious tradition in America, where members of minority religions still struggle to establish equality and fair treatment in their schools, local governments, civic organizations, and communities.

Given the current politically divided climate, it is crucial for the media to hold a high standard of integrity and commitment to reporting fairly about the diverse cultures in this country and the countries with which the United States interacts. This is achieved through unbiased reporting, sensitive yet unemotional delivery of factual material, and thorough research to establish the verity of assertions made by reporters and commentators. The media has a responsibility to act with conscience and accountability in the selection and appropriate preparation of the individuals who are professionally tasked with informing large portions of the population. In this case, accurate factual information about Pagan and Wiccan holidays is widely and readily available online, in libraries, in government documents such as the US Army Chaplain’s Handbook, and in a number of state and district court cases where Wicca was specifically recognized as a religion protected under the First Amendment. There is no sufficient excuse for the gross misrepresentations allowed by Fox Network on Feb 17.

We request that this issue be addressed by Fox News Network via an immediate, prominent, on-air apology; significant on-air retraction of specific comments with factual corrections; visible dialogue with practicing Wiccans and Pagans conducted in a respectful manner; and appropriate commitment by the Network to providing the individuals responsible with a mandatory professional course of diversity training in religious and sex/gender sensitivity.

As an Interfaith Pagan organization that recognizes Wicca as a major influence, and that also recognizes the First Amendment right of each individual to choose a personally meaningful spiritual path, we denounce any effort to undermine the sacred nature of any religion/practice, holy day, and/or celebration, especially but not limited to those growing, emerging, and/or marginalized religions/practices.

We applaud the University of Missouri’s sensitivity to the needs of its Pagan and Wiccan community members via recognition of their holy celebrations, and encourage other academic, government, and business institutions to include similar awareness of these holy days in their own administration and planning.

We support the varied and diverse efforts of the concerned individuals and groups who are bringing this issue to public attention and mobilizing Pagans and Wiccans to demand public accountability and fair resolution.

__________________________________

The Clergy of my coven, the Come as You Are Coven, and myself will be printing and signing this statement and sending it to the following addresses:

FOX News Corporation

1211 Avenue of Americas, 8th Floor,NY, NY 10036

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

 

If you like this language and it expresses your feelings well, feel free to adjust and use this for your personal or group purposes.

The New Time

Let me set the stage. A magical house, expansive, comfortable, lush. Candles lit on every altar, most every wall. The scents of pasta, cheese, soup, and bread mingle with the chiming of bottles pouring wine. Laughter, throaty deep and beautiful laughter fills the corners and makes the house expand with pride. A dozen stunning bright and vibrant women sit around the food laden table and lounge on floor and chair. Cats scuttle and a baby toddles from smiling aunty to smiling aunty. It is a gathering of the Tribe, the meeting of the minds. Women from different walks of life, different personal practices and professions, bound together in sisterhood. Working to help support one another, working to crave out a space in the world for women to find their spirituality and the mysteries within.

The topic comes up, to something this bunch of techno-savy, social media ladies have all seen and noticed with fervor. More and more stories, horror stories, of the wave of anti-abortion laws being seen throughout the country. These bills that get us closer and closer to the reality of women being criminally charged for loosing a pregnancy. These bills also introduce the gateway for banning birth control. With Presidential candidates like Rick Santorum who has openly come out against birth control : “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” But it doesn’t just stop at the political level. We have a rampant blame the rape victim mentality, and the kicker for this discussion; the latest diagnosis of “mass hysteria” in upstate New York. Maybe it’s always been this bad, maybe there is a wave to get women under control. All that mattered in that sacred space was that we ALL noticed, and didn’t like what we saw.

It should be no surprise that a house of witches, decided a ritual was needed, days before the Leo Full Moon. But this would be a different ritual, one shared. Shared as much as possible and to as many as would take it up. The Mother of the New Time was created. Fueled by a desire to make change happen, to have a better world. We made magic the way that we knew how to make magic. But imagine if it went further? Imagine if others look on the Mother of New Time and not just pass it up because it’s not how they do magic. But took up the cause and made their magic? What if those who don’t cast spells, took it up in prayer and petitions? What if groups of all kinds and all paths under this umbrella of Paganism took this as a start and ran with it. Every full moon people of all creeds taking the time and the care to set the intention for a better future for all. The energetic wave would be awe inspiring.

More than that, the chain of events would lead to real change. We set forth with our spiritual intention every full moon to the end of 2012. The moon then becomes a focus and reminder to wake up and take notice. Suddenly that news article you read, reminds you to pay special attention to that issue during the rite. You find yourself paying more attention to the news. You start to look into whether or not your candidates and representatives are supporting those ideals that you care about and pray for. It’s election year, you have a list of what is important to you, how you want the world to change. You can use that to help navigate the candidates , issues, the propositions.  It becomes a part of your working mind, you make choices with your pocket book, with your voice. The ritual then is a wake up to be present in the shaping of the future! That is power. That is how change happens.

Sisters, Brothers, People of the world and internet, if you feel called to this work in anyway, I encourage you to do so.

There is a crispness to the air, a crackling to the sounds, that denotes power. The full and glorious moon softly emanates light dancing in and out of the wispy silken clouds. I have made ready my altar. Washed it’s surfaces and blessed it’s space with love and oil. I make myself ready for the work ahead. Cool clean holy water for my Green Spring, my work is for the betterment of this land. The caress of sweet smoke across my skin, my work is for the future of all. I give rites to my Gods, to watch over me, to watch over this work, to bless it with their wisdom and strength. I give rites to the Ancestors, to hear me, to hear all others who join, to join their voices. I make offering to this land, and to this country. At this nexus of powers, spirits, and time, I dream of the future.

My amazonite stone sits on the pedestal of the serpent. A stone of truth, of justice. A spirit of transformation, of wisdom. Atop the heart of humanity. It is with beating hearts that change will come. I pour libation over the little stone, an offering to it’s spirit to be my ally in this working. I explain to it the purpose, the intent, and it’s part. Careful to be very clear of it’s ultimate fate. With permission and blessing, I take the little stone in my mouth and anoint it with my spit and voice. Cupped and cherished in my hands I let the words wash over it.

I dance at the edge of the world
Like my ancestresses before me
I am a sacred vessel
My blood is indomitable
Cradling the now at my breast
Nurturing the future unfolding
There is nothing to fear
I am a Mother of the New Time

There was more magic to be made that night, more words to be chanted. Till far into the witching hour the candles burned. But in that moment, there started something new.

May it continued to be shaped in love, honor, and truth.

The Ancestral Feast Part II

First and foremost, I would like to thank Ms. Dirty for being the inspiration and motivation for Temple Witch and I to get off our duffs and put into motion some of those glorious plans that we frequently yammer on and on about with stars in our eyes. I know that I get so much joy and just momentum seeing the gusto and spirit that you take to all of your workings. Truly I wish you all the blessings that you desire and need.

Now onto the FEAST!

Yesterday I woke up at 7:30 in the A.M. to begin my attack in order to capture that elusive beast called Epic and make him my bitch.  I believe I succeeded. The morning started with more cleaning, the kitchen had to be spotless. I’m not sure who was particular about that in my family was but it was someone lol. I pulled out Grandmama’s fancy white linen table-cloth, the one that last time I used I sadly had no starch (and still don’t), I could feel G-ma’s raised eyebrow at the wrinkles (the woman ironed her sheets). So out came the iron to massacre the dreaded wrinkles. Apparently a host of ants had taken up residence in my iron, so that was an adventure in a half. But soon I had it all straightened out in every sense of the word.

When it became a time were noise was appropriate I began the giant tetris game in my house.  You see our last minute invitation to some of our loved ones, had garnered more enthusiasm than we had dared to hope. So my cozy little apartment, was suddenly going to have to hold a feast for 16! Which makes for a great feast, but means that some maneuvering of furniture had to happen. Luckily I am strong like bull, and made quick work of it. Once the house was in order it was time for the food!

I had to start the Christmas pudding early. Christmas pudding requires a 6 hour water bath, and since the Lumberjack had requested it special I wanted to get it right. The roast only need 4hr, and the Rotkohl about 50 mins. All would be well. Even tho at this point I was oscillating between whether or not there would in fact be enough food for everybody. (It’s one of my greatest fears, not enough food)

I spent some time sprucing up my ancestor altar, saying my prayers to every one of my Beloved Dead and a few to those that I don’t know. Made sure that everyone was feeling comfortable for the night ahead, Grandma requested some Irish Coffee for the evening. Something I would happily oblige. My Grandmother loved Irish Coffee tho it was a treat she reserved for special occasions or when we visited the local Irish cafeteria style restaurant Brennan’s. I’ll never forget the content and happy look that my Grandmother got when she was sipping her Irish Coffee. It’s so easy for me know to see a younger her doing the same. In any event, as a few of her beloved Irish coffee cups have still survived I made a mental note to make sure she got a glass.

After some adventures of her own Temple Witch and the Giant (that’s right I’ve decided your code name shall be the Giant 😉 made their debut. Bringing with them a house full of helpful things to make this feast truly magical. Fancy dishes and platters from the Giants mother’s collection, the Temple Witch’s own punch set, candles to give mood to the occasion. And of course food and booze. Oh what food and booze too!!

Here is just what we started out with! The big ol’ jug was a gift for the Lumberjack, one that he dearly needed after a 13hr day at work and coming home to a raucous feast of 15 people lol. Here is also a shot of some of my Grandmother’s silver that we brought down for the occasion and Temple Witch was kind enough to loving polish up for the night. I personally think it helped add a bit of class to the evening.

Along with the spirits, they also brought a Santa sack full of bread. My Temple Witch is an accomplished baker, and omg does her bread just make the knees go weak. Seriously good stuff, her rolls where the stars of the dinner. The Giant popped out for the special sausage that they had tracked down to please her Portuguese ancestors and brought back 9 lbs of sausage! 9 lbs! My fears of not having enough food where quickly put to rest. It was delicious sausage too.

After some last minute cleaning (vacuuming, toilet scrubbing etc). It was time to decant our Winter’s Brew. Some time ago, hell I don’t remember when. Temple Witch came over with a bottle of brandy and we whipped up another brew (because our Primal Summer turned out sooo good) we laced it with apples, cinnamon, cloves, mugwort, and pomegranate seeds, and had been letting set and get good and ripe.

Here it is first brewed

 

Steeped and Aged

The apples had turned this brackish brown, the pom seeds almost a grey. But the brandy? Oh the brandy was a delightful golden mahogany. Once again we looked at each other conspiring for our next concoction, again concurring that we really should go in halfies on some proper tools (cheese cloth, a larger mouthed jar, strainers). Tho given the day and the honor of the feast using my Grandmother’s handkerchief was completely appropriate.

First glass of course went to the Ancestors. That was the rule of the evening in fact. And once their’s was poured the rest went in my new schnazzy liquor bottle to charge up on the altar and become even more divine.

 

Yes that is the Glorious Scottish Spoon that Ms. Dirty sent me. It spent the evening being the main serving utensil to the Beloved Dead, a task it was more than up for. The rest of the day was spent in excited anticipation for the evening. As the sun set, we turned on the Christmas lights, and lit the candles around the house. Set out our snacks, and generally admired all our hard work. The house was beautiful. My little house may be small, but it has a big heart. It new that some very important and well loved people were coming for dinner and just seemed to expand and make welcome as much it could. The beasties were on their best behavior and were rewarded in kind. And over all I was just so happy to be able to share the kind of home and welcoming and party that my immediate Ancestors never really had.

My father’s parents were unhappy with the social obligations that they were bound to, and as such occasions (especially later in life) just became those awful things. With the awkward silences, the tension, the feeling caged in. And my mother’s mother, life was so filled with obligations of taking care of everyone and her own yearning for grander things that I just don’t think she ever enjoyed herself when the family was around. This was my chance to have the come and relax, to care for them, to just let them and the whole energetic family line on both sides start to move towards a new way. A comfortable way. A way where feast, family, and holidays means food, laughter, joy, and love. A way where everyone looks forward to it, where the work is not a trail or a martyrdom but a quest where in the end all are victorious. Much of the prep and evening, I spent wishing that my blood family where there.  Because as a little nuclear family, they made those virtues and values a reality. One of these days I’ll get to show and share with my mom and dad how much I learned from them. That and well my dad would have LOVED the food lol.

Our guests arrived, with delicious food in tow. We had kielbasi, guacamole, salmon chowder, good ol’ mashed potatoes, Scottish Stovies, a family Brown Bread, and oh so much more.  The mead flowed, the glogg was made, cider’s were spilled, H.P. Lovecraft was discussed in detail, toasts were had, and in general it was just delightful. There is no doubt in my mind that the Winter Feast is a new tradition that I will gladly uphold. I believe Temple Witch is now scheming about Summer Feast plans, and over all I think all out guests living and not, were happy. As I said last night and I’ll say it again “We win.” lol

The night was merry and bright

 

The Candle that burned all thru the Night

 

Last but not least, I want to share the beautiful prayer that Temple Witch wrote up for our Ancestors, and penned in her stunning hand. Which I have plans on making our feasting prayer for ever Winter’s Feast, from here on out. Beautiful words from a beautiful lady.

In honor of our dear beloved dead we feast this night. 
To all of our dear ones we open our doors and our hearts.
To all those of our blood we open our doors and our hearts.
To all those whose spirits sing as our spirits sing we open our doors and our hearts.
Be welcome this night as we gather.
Partake of our feast, make merry by the light of our candles,
Join us in good cheer and celebration.
As our honored guests, we offer of our hospitality.
Be welcome all. 

And now my lovelies. To put it all back together again! lol To wrap presents, and prepare to head up to the Sierra Mountains. There in those wonderous peaks there is another dinner waiting and presents! Wishing you all a happy and blessed holiday season!

The Parts of Priestessing

There are times when I get so surrounded in what I’m doing. In my single minded bull headed focus on the things immediately around me, that other layers and context just fade away. Sometimes this is a good thing, it gets shit done. Sometimes this is a bad thing, in that I forget very important lessons. But as with all things in my life eventually the tide comes round and I can see the other side. Remember what I had forgotten, see the forest for the trees, whatever colloquialism is in vogue at the hour. Herein is where I relieve a little bit of how my convoluted, multi-streamed practices work for me.

There are three parts to my path. This is not a surprising revelation, but I just never thought of it till recently. It makes sense, as my daily blessing ends with the line “All three are in me.” My personal path, wherein I have been charged by my Gods to live the values of a culture long past in a modern age. Where I worship my Ancestors, where I tend the spirits and beings of the land around me, where I worship the Gods who have seen me thru this life and past lives. This in and of itself is a fair amount of work. It’s a constant learning experience, study course, at some point (soon-ish) I will need to learn Gaelic. There are big major, long term plans on this path. They involve me owning a house on a fair amount of land. On studying the construction of stone circles and creating a modern one on some scale. They involve outdoor shrines, and eventually a cairn. In short a lot of work.

These goals and that path have been with me from the beginning of my consciousness of the spiritworld. What I did not see coming, where the other parts. Almost five years ago (I can’t believe I just typed that. I mean for normal people five years is not a long time but for the girl who moved every two years since birth five years is a lot) situations where bad at home, and my gods guided me that part of my path (of their path) is community. I was a lone Celt, and that’s just an out of balance thing. The culture is about community, there is a pride and integrity that was inherently missing. Especially since at the time I was having family issues, where it became clear that a large part of my blood family did not hold the same values. So I went out looking for some people to call my own. I looked at Celtic Recon. groups, I looked at ADF, I even looked at Asatru. But the latter didn’t seem to actually hold public events, the middle was not my flavor in congruence to my deities, and the latter just not my people. On a whim I went to a group’s full moon circle. The group was Come As You Are Coven (and what can be more inviting than that?) they said they were an eclectic drop in coven. I figured that I’d probably be the lone CR (which is what I identified with at the time) but I desperately needed to get out of the house and be around people and something just told me to go. So I did and it was lovely. Completely different from anything I’d ever seen or heard or anything (casting circle, calling directions, all that was all new to me). And I kept coming back when I could. They worked with different deities than I did, but I’ve always followed a strict let people worship what gods they will, and more importantly they had the same values of integrity, community, and so on that drew me to the people. Through a series of events and reasons that I do not remember (I never remember how important things in my life began with the exception of how I met the Lumberjack) I applied for and was accepted into their Clergy initiation path. Thus cementing the second path of my spiritual life. Community. It is part of my spirituality to provide, aide, and be an active part of my people. To strive to create a space of sanctuary for those who need it, to help where I can, to believe in the power of community of give and take as needed. I have met so many amazing people within this path. Friends that I will keep for all my days. Friends, family, who are connected to me even tho we worship different gods. It is vital, and it is a lot of work lol. And that my goodly people is how I can be a Gaelic Polytheist and belong to an Eclectic Coven. The key is also finding a coven that adheres to the “let people worship what gods they will” method. I believe that we maybe the only one lol.

Where is the three you ask? Well the three is perhaps the most unexpected one of the bunch. You see with this initiation came an ordination and the title Priestess. Then came another initiation and an ordination and the title High Priestess. These things where and are things that I struggle with in their collective understanding seems is a bit murky. Remember “let people worship what gods they will”? That also means that I believe the only person fit to tell you what is right and proper for your soul is you and your gods. I continue with this line of thinking now, with the understanding that many people find it helpful to talk to people who are sure of their own path in order to discover the path that is right for them.

My personal understanding of a Priestess has come to evolve a bit, thus the reason for this post. In that I see two aspects of Priestessing (or Priesting as you will), both are important, and it’s the finding and rediscovering of balance that I need to do. There is the Priestess of the spirits. In another time and place this would be tending the temple, making the sacrifices, reading the omens. In the now it means the same thing, for me it means tending to my house spirits and beasties, courting the local spirits, making offering and sacrifices to the gods, remembering and honoring the ancestors, all of that which I do in my personal practice. With the added caveat that I also am vested to perform blessings, cleansing, and other sacred rites for my community. Those things fall under the other part, the Priestess of the people.

We live in a society that has ostracized ritual with the exception of a select and privileged few. Yet the human need for ritual for connection to the divine has not diminished. So where then to people go? How do people who have never seen anything other than a select few forms of spiritual connection , that do not resonate with them, how do they find what does? Moreover how do we as a culture make it acceptable to have people worship what gods they will? Those of us that can, that know how, must hold the space and make the platform for other kinds of spirituality. I had forgotten that bit. For many months I was consumed with work and devotion to my gods, the spirits of the land and so on. They still need that work and that devotion, they are hungry for it. My work in the public arena made me more, upped my standards, and so too did the spirits and the Gods up theirs. It’s all a balancing act.

It took a trip far away, being surrounded by people who don’t necessarily believe like I do, putting on ritual for energies and deities that I have no connection with, to make me realize the impact and importance of bringing ritual to the people is again.

Because we’re human beings, and we learn through experience. Because we’re a society where sometimes we don’t know that things are an option until we see others doing it. So being a Priestess to me is being one of those people who gets out there and does it. Who shows one way, several ways that it can be done, and encourages others to find more. And a High Priestess? A High Priestess makes sure there is a stage for that to happen. Puts in the time and effort to make sure that the rituals are that have impact and meaning. Keeps the standard and keeps upping it.

Not too long ago I posted about carving out more worship, that is still true. As I said the Gods and spirits have upped their standards, there is more work to be done and on a grander scale than before in order to fulfill one part of my path and one part of my Priestesshood.  I am however thankful for the reminder that though their goals and means are different the two parts are equally important. This upcoming year I have the opportunity to by a High Priestess to the people, and specifically to the women of my area. That is precious to me and I am excited and dedicated to providing as many spiritual epiphany, soul lifting rituals in as many different ways as only my coven can provide.

That’s it. Just a little ramble on the things in my head. On how paths can multiple and get muddy. On how sometimes you just have to be mindful and look up from your work every once in a while. On how this one American Gaelic Polytheist witch is also a Public High Priestess in an Eclectic Coven, and sometimes makes it work. On how in the end I just wish that we all may worship what gods we will.