paganism

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

The Feast of the Dagda

 

Heart and Harvest Dagda Feast (2)

For several years now I have been wanting to hold a feast in honor of the Dagda. Several different variations went through my mind, but for whatever reason they just never came to past. Then in my public priestess community of CAYA Coven I was presented with the opportunity to lead a ritual feast in his honor. Even more exciting this could be an outdoor feast! Early in the year I started plotting out the best way to introduce the Good God to a group of people who may or may not have ever heard of him. How best to honor his name and ensure a good time had by all.

Luckily I had an amazing crew, all of the initiates who are training to be public clergy in CAYA. They all went above and beyond and put such heart into their work it was really touching.

We were gathered in one of my favorite parks where there lives a 100 year old Oak tree. A wonderful tree that I sadly did not get to go visit this trip but love none the less. We spent the day grilling and playing games. Coconut shotput and Tug of Way being the highlights. I had originally dreamed of having a whole pig to roast for the feast but alas my budget at present did not allow for it. However I did go out and purchase the biggest shoulder pork roast I could from the local butcher, ethically sources and top quality. I decided to start cooking it the night before to ensure that it would be done in time for the Feast, and would finish it off over the open flames basting it in fresh apple juice. I have to say that I think it turned out delicious and since there were literally no leftovers and many folks asking for seconds, I think that is a far judgement lol. I will be making that pork again once I get a grill here at the house.

I kept telling myself that it would be a small crowd. Our outdoor rituals are usually smaller more 30-40 people than our indoor rituals that get more 60-80 people. Yet I was surprised, we had quite a turn out! I didn’t do an official head count but I think we were in the 50-60 range. Yet with great joy we made room for all. With equal joy we had more than enough food. There is nothing so sad as a feast where there isn’t enough food for people to eat their fill. And at a Dagda feast? Unthinkable!

There was a fire that was kindled with prayers and juniper burnt upon it for blessing. Offerings were made to the Dagda by all with wonderful words of praise spoken with adoration. There was beer and water on every table. The first round was served, food for everyone and then the stories began. They were tales of hospitality and lessons being generous. Songs were sung and the guitar AND violin played. Seconds and third helpings were served along with a delicious tasty dessert. Divination was cast to see if our offerings were received well and with blessing and what the next months held for the community.  There was much laughter, much conversation, and much enjoyment

I was so pleased and still am. For a public feast I do not think it could have gone any smoother. Thank you again to anyone who attended, to all the lovely people who pitched in and helped to make this dream a reality. Thanks to my beloved Dagda for continuing to teach me the ways of leadership, hospitality and enjoying the lust for life. May I continue to bring you honor and raise your name high. Looking forward to sharing more celebrations and joy with the community and for continued joy in devotion to the Good God.

Heart and Harvest Dagda Feast (1)

 

Heart and Harvest Dagda Feast - 5

 

 

Heart and Harvest Dagda Feast - 3

 

Wisdom of the serpent be
Wisdom of bull be thine,
Wisdom of valiant eagle.
Voice of swan be thine,
Voice of honey be thine
Voice of the Shining Youth.
Bounty of sea be thine,
Bounty of land be thine
Bounty of the All Father, ever sustaining.

Adapted from the Carmina Gadelica

Táin Tuesday: Before the Táin

Well this project took a little longer to get off the ground than anticipated. But now that I have both books in hand and have a few moments to peruse both I see that this isn’t going to be as straight forward as reading chapter by chapter of each one.

For the duration of this project I will be referring to the two versions by the last name of their translators. So, The Táin by Thomas Kinsella will hereforto be known as Kinsella and The Táin by Ciaran Carson will hereafter be known as Carson.

On the initial examination of both books it immediately struck me that the Carson does not begin in the same place at the Kinsella. Whereas Kinsella begins “Before the Táin” and includes the birth and rise of power of Conchobor, the story of the sons of the Uisliu, and the Pangs of Ulster. The Carson begins with the actual cattle raid with Medb and Aililli talking in bed. This is an interesting choice and I will go back and read Carson’s introduction to see if he explains that choice here. Maybe it’s the old stubborn person in me but I feel like leaving out those stories at the beginning leaves out a lot of the context for the cattle raid itself. Though I suppose I only associate them with the Táin because the Kinsella version was the first version I read. But to me they were world builders and set the stage for what was to come. Especially the Pains of Ulster! But then I am rather fond of that story and could be very bias at the moment.

But since I do find those stories to be important and since they are in the Kinsella, I will begin with my take aways and overviews of them and when the two version meet then we will have comparison. Seems fair enough to me.

With that said we being “Before the Táin

In Kinsella’s notes he attributes this anecdotal text to the ninth century text in the Book of Leinster. I have to say that it does have a different feel and sound to me than some of the other parts of Kinsella, but I wonder how much of that is Kinella’s own voice coming to the translation.

In any event this short little story tells us that the knowledge and story of the Táin itself was once lost or at the least not know in its entirety. And in the fashion of all good important myths and legends had to be quested for and sought out.

Now you may be asking “What can you possibly get out of this tiny little story?”

Well, not a huge amount but some things in my practice are certainly underlined and other things that I have known but not paid as great attention to are brought to the forefront.

In the start of this story it is plan that the “Poets of Ireland” have convened to see if they could all remember the story of the Cattle Raid of Cooley. This illustrates that the poets or bards were very much the history keepers. This is something that my previous research already told me, but it is them all discovering that they only know parts of the story and then deciding it was important to go and find the whole tale again that helps brings few things into focus for me.

First, that people especially educated people, and I will go a step farther and say probably especially educated people who considered themselves or were considered by their community to be spiritual leaders, had A LOT memorized. And by memorized I don’t just mean they  had the cliff notes version that I could tell you off the cuff, I mean it was in verse. Word for word, line for line, verbatim. This doesn’t just apply to Ireland of course, the ancient world in general seems to have this trait. A trait that we of modern times have fallen behind on and something I would like very much to work on. This isn’t to say that I’m going to memorize the Tain line for line, but who knows maybe someday. But I do want to memorize more prayers and songs, reading this helps to solidify my dedication to that cause. Also to you know…write more lol.

Second is a little more…spiritual practice-ish. In the story Muirgen, the son of the great poet teacher who set the challenge before them all, finds the gravestone of Fergus mac Roich (deposed King of Ulster who aids Queen Medb in the Raid) and entreats him in verse to tell the whole tale. A mist comes over Muirgen for three days and three nights he cannot be found. In that time Fergus appears before him (dressed spectacularly I might add) and recites the whole thing.   Thus Muirgen is able to return from the quest victorious and the Tain is returned to Ireland in full.

There is quite a bit in that little story. We see that there is a strong ancestral connection, even to figures of myth and legend. That they are real, that they are able to speak and teach us even after death. That is something that I have always connected with. That tangible thread of spirit that links the living to the dead, and the living to their ancestral and mythical past. It is a huge part of what brought me to the Gaelic Polytheist path. I started out following the threads of these same stories and heroes. Ok maybe it didn’t start here it started over a bit of water with King Arthur and his lot but still it didn’t take long to find my way to Erin.  For me this underlines the already standing practice of honoring and learning from the Beloved Dead. It is something that a lot of CR sites and Gaelic Polytheist talk about. Clearly with good reason.

The other thing that I note here and just sort of put on my List-of-things-to-look-for further in this reading, is the mist. The mist came and then knowledge from the beyond was received. There are several different things I can take away from this. One is that there may be future connection between the mist/fog and the dead/supernatural. My other research and knowledge and just flat-out gut says that this is so, but I will make note of it here and see how often this occurs.

Because then I can start and pay more attention to the mist and fog. I live in an area where it is not a stranger to me. Perhaps next time I look outside and see the mists at my door I will leave out an offering to passing spirits. Or it occurs to me that in times when the mist is coming in may be a good time to try to contact the Beloved Dead more easily. Things to think on, things to see how they can fit in my life.

A different take on the time that Muirgen spent in the mist; is that a mortal was able to gain supernatural information from the beyond. Granted this was lost information that was already part of the mortal world but I don’t consider it too far a leap to see a parallel in this to the times that I go into a state of trance and come back with new inspirations, song and prayers. Now I’m sure for some that might be too great a leap in lines of thought, and that’s fine. But for me I can see how the literary use of mist that hides a person for 3 days and 3 nights could in fact be a way to describe a state of trance. Where the body remains and the mind or soul enters into the mist and beyond. Like I said perhaps too far fetched for some but it makes complete sense to me. Which makes it reassuring and helpful. It’s not something I have talked at length about as it’s hard to articulate, but I find a great connection to the divine in a trance state. Interestingly most of my trance states happen in the shower, where there is a mist in the steam and water. This is something else that is on my list of things to look out for. The connections of the divine and supernatural to water, mist, steam etc.

That my friends are my take-aways from this wee tale. Also a very good example of what the rest of this project will look like. So if this interests you please stick around! Let me know what you glean from these stories. What are the nuggets that leap out to your mind. I’d love to hear!

I’m already working on next weeks so I do hope to have these up every tuesday but you know there may be some flubs here or there lol.

Altar of Bone and Flame

Hello little blog, it’s been a while. I find that frequently I just get wrapped up in the real world, or my own mind that leaves little room for things like blogging. But never fear, I always come back. Eager to share, and eager to continue transcribing my spiritual adventures. 

As it’s been a while I thought it would be a nice way to ease back into things by sharing photos from my recently cleaned altar. There are to be many projects, and much blogging on the horizon. This blog will get a face lift amoungst other things. But that is another post for another time. 

For the now I’d like to say how much I love my winter altars. They just come together so much easier. The bones, the stones, the furs, and wood. It all just sings in harmony and I love it. In spring and summer I feel the lack of color, the lack of being outside on a green hill in the open sky. But in winter, it is all stark and wonderfully homey. The bones I leave out all year round, they are spring and summer bones as well. But in winter they take center stage. Wonderful in their off white glory. Warmed to yellow in the flame. 

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There is something about candlelight that just makes an altar connect. It’s hard to capture in photos, at least it’s hard for me but still. The illumination of the flame has always connected to me. I think of it as the light of the human soul. There is something incredibly comforting and familiar while at the same time foreign and mystical about it. 

I arise today
Through The Gods strength to pilot me;
The Dagda’s might to uphold me,
The Dagda’s wisdom to guide me,
The Morrighan’s eye to look before me,
The Morrighan’s ear to hear me,
Manannan’s word to speak for me,
Anu’s hand to guard me,

 

 

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The Gods way to lie before me,
The Morrighan’s shield to protect me,
The Dagda’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.
Gods shield me today
Against wounding

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The Gods with me, The Gods before me, The Gods behind me,
The Sea around me, The Land beneath me, The Sky above me,
My Beloved Dead on my right, My Beloved Dead on my left,
The Ancestors when I lie down, The Ancestors when I stand,

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The Dagda be in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
The Morrighan be in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
The Spirits be in the eye that sees me,
Imbas in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of my beloved Gods, of the Valiant Dead, and all that came before.

 – Prayer adapted from Carmina Gadelica St. Patrick’s Breastplate  

Sacred Places: Cove Beach

Dark Moon beach 9-13 (15)

I thought it was about time to spotlight one of my dear and sacred places. What perfect timing as I just made a trip out there with Temple Witch to continue with our Dark Moon offerings practice! As you can see the beach has the glorious appeal of having cliffs as well as the Sea, oh but wait there is more 😉

The beach has a official state name, as it is an official state beach, but that name doesn’t seem to sit with it in my mind very well. Originally I was calling it Crab beach because it is a massive grave-site to countless crabs. Literally thousands of crabs from tiny tiny to big ol’ guys carcasses and shells litter the beach. Temple Witch has taken quite a few of the shells home for her own Sea dealings. But that name didn’t last long as the true star of the this amazingly peaceful and treacherous land emerged.

Before I indulge in that I’ll give you a little background. It was Temple and the Giant that found this beach, and were generous enough to share it. Unlike our other Sea haunt of Muir Beach, Cove Beach seems to be at the same time more peaceful, and more active. It is more peaceful in that most of the humans who visit tend to stay within a 100 feet of the parking lot, leaving the whole other side of the beach empty and gloriously isolated for our feasting and pleasure. More active in that the spirits and animals of the place just seem more…restless. It is not uncommon to watch a huge 100+ flock of seagulls diving and feasting on the crabs when the waves hit just so. Or to watch the Pelicans diving not to far off shore and the Gulls clamoring for scraps.    There are often many dead on the beach, not just crabs, gulls and other birds as well. And the turkey vultures always seem to make at least one pass of the sandy area. The waves themselves hit a little rougher, the undercurrent unforgiving and relentless in its want to pull you out. All and all Cove beach is a bit more wild.

Which suits are needs just fine.

Now the title of this wonderful beach is due to its neolithic-style coves that immediately impress the mind with the majesty and beauty of natures temples. There really are no words to describe the joy at seeing this powerful combination of Land, Sea and Sky. So instead I shall show you.

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Dark Moon beach 9-13

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The pictures cannot do it justice. It is primal raw natural energy. It is intoxicating in its simplicity and it’s complexity. It is holy. The first cave (there are several) is accessible at certain times of the year when the tide is farther out. Making it an amazing liminal place, let alone that fact that it is a cove that tapers off into nothing. A true opening to the underground, the other world, the beyond.

There is a lot of evidence of the holiness of these underground spaces. There are huge man made cairns in Ireland and France, neolithic structures many of which are oriented to celestial bodies like the sun and moon. One of the many things that I would like to study more about, the way the sun has a habit of beaming into the cove really speaks to me. Was it finding such a wonder as this that made the Ancients of Ireland decide to build there own? Portals have always been a fascinating feature in the myths and stories, and staring into the darkness at that point when suddenly the crashing waves are muffled, feeling the cold damp and heaviness of rock. I can feel the draw. The pull to somewhere else. Somewhere beyond.

Luckily I have always managed to feel the sun’s call and return back to the glittering passioned sea.

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One of these days we will get around to holding a ritual in this cave. Temple has long wanted to honor Persephone in this manner, and I know there are several of my deities who would use such a portal as this to be honored. But till that time, we continue to come and leave our humble offerings.

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I to sign my songs and praises of the Gods that I have oathbound and those who I have not. To feel the warmth of the sun and the strength of the rock, to see the darkness of the shadow and size of the sea. Under the massive cliffs I feel the Morrighan’s watchful eye, the challenge and the expectation forever weighing upon me. I thank the Dagda for his continued blessing, and for the guidance to keep hospitality in my heart. I acknowledge my vows to the Great Queen and know that there is much yet I need to do to be worthy. I turn smiling to the jovial sea and sing flirtatious love songs at the wild outsider Manannan Mac Lir. I give thanks to the beach and the land, those small spirits that have opened up this sanctuary to me.

And I feel blessed.

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Into the Wilds

Oh internet. When I am right. I am totally right. You remember in my last post where I went on about how I was stuck in a bubble and needed to get out into nature more, that was after all were my spirituality is.

Yeah, totally 100% right on the money.  We went camping, and I am feeling so amazing. It was just so fucking good. It felt so refreshing even tho it really could have gone better lmao. That’s the thing it’s just that good.

The Lumberjack has taken some time off before Labor Day and we decided to go camping for one of the days. We had heard about a remote camping site near-ish by from a friend and decided to take a chance on it (since our regular camping locations are a 4 hr drive away). We settled on one night, since we weren’t sure if we would like the location. They were all hike-in camp spots on a state park. Generally we are not state-park people. The Lumberjack grew up in National Forest locations so the restrictions and “Disney-land” attitude of state parks do not mingle well with his rugged outdoors attitude and hermit nature. But we had heard good things, and figured that everyone would be going camping on Labor Day not before. So we pulled out the old camping gear and hit the road.

Some handy tips for future reference. When a state park says “slightly uphill” they mean UPHILL. No slightly about it.

If there is a long way and a short way, go the long way it is flatter and more enjoyable.

Invest in good hiking shoes.

Overall we were silly and took the “short” “slightly uphill” trail to the camp site going in. Needless to say it was not that much shorter and the uphill was really really hard. Especially since I have only just started working out again and was carrying something like 40lbs. Granted that was nothing compared to the Lumberjack who was carrying the majority of our stuff which was easily 90lbs. We were very out of breath and very hot. BUT I didn’t get woozy at all, which means that my increased hydration has worked, woot!

I think it took us an hour to hike in and set up and then we went straight to the beach. The campsite was only 200 meters from the beach and you could hear the waves pounding. It was glorious. Glorious and empty and amazing and cool and everything we needed.

Point Reyes Aug 2013

 

There wasn’t anyone on the beach for as far as the eye could see! In either direction!

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I’d never experienced anything like it. Despite having just walked 2 miles one of which up hill with crazy weight we then spent the next several hours walking the beach.  Happily, delightedly, without any hint of being too tired.  In fact it was just relaxing and joyful.

In fact that was the big thing about this whole trip. Even tho this was the most exercise I have done in a very very long time, even tho I was lifting more weight than I thought I could, and walking for longer, and just being sweaty and just working. None of it made me feel even an ounce as tired as the stupid video I’d been doing. None of it made me complain and whine. And even tho I know that over the last 48 hours we might have barely gotten our 2,000 calories in a day and the food was no where near as delicious as I usually eat. Neither of us felt like we were starving. We weren’t unsatisfied and scavenging for something else to eat. We were happily eating out sausage and bread. We were happy just to be out and about and in the quiet. Happy to sleep on the hard ground and hear the ocean waves.

I was elated that I managed the physical feats I accomplished without getting light headed, without getting dehydrated, without any issues at all! I was strong enough. I worked hard enough and my reward was witnessing and reveling in this glorious beach.

Immediately I wanted to hold ritual out there lol. You can get a day fire permit for the beach and it’s just all too tempting. A bonfire ritual with the cliffs and the waves and not surrounded by people? Glorious. Of course I still need to figure out who exactly would be willing to trek in with me. But the Lumberjack and I have figured that the best way to go is the long way which is flat and is bike accessible. We’re going to get some bikes so that next time we can bike the gear in. Lot easier and much more practical to get a load of firewood out there by bike. Still not sure who I’d want and would want to go out there, But we’ll see. I know that the Lumberjack and I are going back that is for sure.

Of course it also brought to light some of the mundane things that need getting put to right before such trips can be a regular thing. Mainly the Truck and getting it fixed for good. So we will be focusing on that in the up coming months.

Unfortunately the Lumberjack tripped getting out of the tent that night and sprained his ankle. Which was not great at all. But we had an ace bandage in the kit (always be prepared) and being the tough hard headed person he is we still found our way down to the beach in the dark of night. It was foggy and dense, the waves magnified and much louder now that the sun was long since gone. Standing there on the beach only a few other pin pricks of light appearing and disappearing along the coast line, it felt heavy and ominous. There was no horizon. Just the waves and the nothing.  It was the edge of the world. It had that very real “The End is nigh” feeling to it. I imagine that beach has seen many ends and many beginnings and will see many more yet to come. Because that is the essence of the sea on this planet.

We slept blissfully despite the rocks, and even tho I had a brief odd nightmare in which the Lumberjack had to wake me, it was weirdly peaceful. I don’t remember much about the dream except conversing with a large shadow beast with multiple yellow red eyes peering down through the window of our tent. When I awoke I wasn’t frightened like I usually am. The air wasn’t heavy with energy despite my heart still pumping. It felt very much like it was there and I was there and the Lumberjack pulled me out of there and now we’re here and it can’t be here. I accept that sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but there you have it.

The next morning we woke to the fog rolling over the hill. We lit up the BBQ and made a humble breakfast of oatmeal, coffee, and the remainders of bread and cheese. Merrily chomping and planning our next adventure. A couple of nights, what food to bring, getting the fire permit. Then coffee in hand we walked down to the beach for one last goodbye. Peaceful and enveloped in mist.

I have to take the time to brag about how amazing the Lumberjack is. The man is a machine. He twisted his ankle. It was visible swollen. Yet without a complaint, without an issue he took some painkillers, we packed up the site and then he hiked out the 3 mile trek with the same 90 lbs on his back. Insane. Somehow he is healing perfectly fine. The swelling stopped and is now going down. Doesn’t seem to be in much pain, other than soreness.

I have to say internet. I am happy. I am happy for my love. I am happy that we both enjoy the outdoors. I am happy to be able to go on adventures. I love the feeling of things starting to come together. The feeling of balance.

So over all internet things are starting to look up at least spiritually.

A while ago my main altar got a revamp under some interesting circumstances, which you can check out over on my Tumblr if you so desire.

And the horizon?

Well there is a Dark Moon approaching which means another trip to the sea with the lovely Temple. Then there is the quickly approaching coven Harvest Home retreat. So a lot on the horizon. Stay tuned my lovelies.

Summer heat is rising

Underneath it All by Zephyri

Underneath it All by Zephyri

The Morrighan is not good. The Morrighan is not evil. She is older than either of these constructs. She is. As the Earth is. This planet that has spawned humanity and all living things is a planet of hard and dangerous life. It is terrible and beautiful, and simply exists. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because we emerged on a planet where you can die from being exposed to the elements. Your survival is not guaranteed, even if you work hard for it, even if you become the best that you can be. Even now in your houses with electricity and all the comforts beyond basic survival, it is not guaranteed. Out of this harsh hostile environment, there is beauty, there is happiness, hell there is pure joy. That is the miracle of humanity. That is the miracle of life.

I cannot explain to you the intoxicating draw that the shadows and drums in the night call to me. I cannot explain the preference to have a thousand monstrous eyes upon you, to gasp in fear and anticipation. I cannot tell you why I will always choose this life and her. In the distance you can see the red glow of the fire, the baying of hounds and the promise of nothing more than to be forged and to live. No promise of safety, for she will give you none, no promise of fortune or glory. No promise even of happiness, for often there is none. There is only the promise of life and death and the possibility of becoming more than yourself.

I yearn for the times when I can run to the mad song, to hear and feel my heart beating in time with the drums. My bones colliding with solid earth and coming away sore and stronger for it. I yearn to thrash and fight and be bruised. To feel the pain of my mortal body and overcome it. To reach beyond it and laugh. To grin a wolf grin while blood hinders my eyesight. Those moments are few and fleeting, but worth it.

In the inbetween there are rules to uphold, orders to be kept holy. As a Priestess of the Great Queen it is my lesson to be unwavering. To strive for greater. It is a hard lesson. It is a lesson that I have asked for. And so I cannot sit at the feet of a Goddess who would take my head in her lap and comfort me. I will always choose to stand before my Goddess who looks with an eye of judgement. Ready to tear my skin from flesh should she find need or wanting. Who I would not pray to for healing, least the cure be worse than the cause. Who when I pray to for protection it is with the knowing that if it is my or my loved ones time to die she will not cast her hand out and keep them safe. But will instead lick the soul from their bodies as a predator licks the flesh from bone. Yet I am comforted by her presence, I am stirred by her energy and I long for more.

I can no easier explain why that pulls at my soul than why I prefer cheese to chocolate. It is a taste that I cannot do without.

I feel the Summer heat rising.

The drums in the distance grow…

 

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.

Release the Bones!

Every year at and around the start of October, and the festivities that go with it, I clean my altar and bring up the bones that have been on their crowded shelf in the Underworld. But bringing the Bones up and giving them prominent place on the top altar it is essentially my way of acknowledging that we have now entered into the time of the Dead. The Dead are generally always welcome in my home but now they get a little more attention that usual. This year the 1st went and passed and I didn’t get to it, the 2nd rolled by and still nothing, till it was in fact the 5th of October and for completely sideways reasons the bones were released.

It actually started on October 4th in the evening. Minding my own business having dinner, the Lumberjack complaining about the beer he bought not tasting “pumpkin-y” enough, when  I knew I needed to make beer oat scones for a certain Good God. I don’t really know how else to describe the Other messaging system that gets these things across. One second I’m watching The Invisible Man the next I have a clear image and knowledge of me making these beer oat scones happily while deep laughter rings in the background. It’s just a knowing. That’s the best I can do for you as far as description goes.

Now frankly this doesn’t happen often. Tends to be that my Dead, and house Beasties are the ones who ask for the most. So when one of my deities chimes in I make a point to make it happen, no matter how small.

The next day is the day of The Concert (for those of you who do not know ‘The Concert’ here and thereafter refers to The Florence and the Machine Concert), and my good friend Temple is coming over so we can go and get our holy musical emotive on.  I knew I could rope her into making beer oat scones no problem. I didn’t have a recipe, but I knew I wanted to use all oats. So oat flour and then some whole oats. I figured with the beer and oats that brown sugar would be the way to go and a lot of butter.  We looked up a oat scone recipe for some basic portions and went from there. Here is what we came up with:

Ooo Oat flour

  Good God’s Beer Oat Scones

1 1/2 cups Oat Flour*
2 cups Oats
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted better
1/2 cup Beer of choice

* To make Oat Flour, put the amount of Oats (in this case 1 1/2 cups) in a food processor and blend till fine.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and currants. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl, beat egg until frothy, and stir in melted butter and milk. Pour into the well, and mix to create a soft dough.
  3. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the dough and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. This recipe made 10 of such scones.
  4. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until risen and browned.

Offering to a Good God. Oats, beer and honey, life is good.

They turned out marvelously! Looked absolutely scrumptious, smelled like good old yum. But then the twist. Where to put the offering?

Generally food offerings are made on my main altar, as the Good God’s kitchen altar is just too small for more than a cup of beer (which he gets regularly). But the main altar was….not fit. It had an old spell that needed to be broken down, all the deities candles had been burned down. But most importantly of all the thing was in limbo because the Bones desperately needed to come out.

After spinning for several minutes, shaking my fist, and getting laughed at by Temple. It was clearly evident that my task could wait no longer, the altar needed to be cleaned and the Bones released, NOW.

So we did. Took everything off the cluttered thing, tore down the spell, dusted everything, and then lovingly brought out the bones and oo’d and aw’d over everyone, cuddled them a bit, and chose their place up above.

And when all was done, I still had more chores to do, but the altar was happy, the Bones were happy, he was happy, and we were happy.

And in the end that’s all that matters.

The “Pagan Community”

“…there is no such thing as the ‘Pagan Community'”

“a Pagan is someone who believes (xyz).”

“The pagan community is full of haters and people spewing negativity.”

“The pagan community is full of fluffy bunnies and ignorant New Agers.”

These notions and notions similar are being played on continuous loop around me these day. There is just a few things I would like to clear up, in respect to this blog, my tumblr, and really any sort of interaction you may have with me. Because I do talk about “the Pagan Community” here and elsewhere. So evidently I do believe that there is such a creature. More than that I have a lot of investment and care for the Pagan Community, it is the main ingredient in my public priestessing. Without it I would not be a priestess. I mean sure, I’d still do what I do, and honor my gods, and honor the spirits and ungods, and work my craft, and live my life. But the pagan community, and the needs it has is in part what keeps me to being a public priestess. I will attempt to show you what I mean when I say “the Pagan Community” and what I think of when I hear it.

Recently my High Priestess pondered aloud to me whether or not “Pagan” was the right label, as it is such a mixed bag of cats. And really as an umbrella term it really doesn’t describe anything, since those who fall under it are not of the same religion. I agree with this, and I think is the first step towards the community actually becoming more useful to itself. The definition of “pagan” in the “Pagan Community”, really only is: that you are someone who identifies as a pagan, usually a follower of a minority faith or secular path that falls outside of the identified acceptable norm. It doesn’t really signify anything else. There is no inherent doctrine tied into the word, and to date even the notion that it is a religion that is not Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic is outdated and un-useful.   I know. Now we are wandering into the land where words can grow past their origin and finite dictionary meanings, but that’s how things work for me.

So if the ‘pagan’ in Pagan Community is so broad and without boundaries, where no one believes the same thing then what is the ‘community’? The community is one of interfaith. It is countless different paths, traditions, religions, faiths, individual people, who all believe different things, but who all willing identify with one another in order to help move forward in the Judea-Christian religious dominated society that we live in. Minorities within a minority choosing to help each other out and dare I say, possibly learn something from one another. Not for any dogmatic code of spreading “the good word”. Just out of the shared experience of purposefully choosing one of the paths least traveled and all the complications that come with that.

That’s it. That’s all. That’s the entirety of it for me. It is all that I need to understand to want to put my shoulder under this yoke and help plow the field for a new cultural shift. It is the simple connection that allows me to speak to so many people who may not even know what they believe but want information and be able to point them in various different directions to the amazing people that I have the privilege to call friend, to call community.

Ultimately, the Pagan Community is a diverse and unboxable as the American community. There will never be able to be a story that full captures all the opinions and sides, never a quote that covers the immensity of it. There will never be enough “leaders” or “elders” to speak on it’s behalf (and that’s a good thing). It is a community where participation guides it’s direction. Where homogeneity is never going to be the answer or the goal. Where understandings have to be met from different playing fields. And above all where respect for fellow man is needed.

Are there still going to be people who adamantly refuse the label “pagan”? Of course, and that is their right. There will still be people who think it’s a bad idea, and that there is no room for them. The thing about the Pagan Community, is that you get to identify with it or not. We’ll still be doing the same work (even when none of us are doing the same thing at all) and I pray that it will make a positive impact on the cultural of our society for everyone. Even those who want nothing to do with it.

-A Pagan American Gaelic Polytheist witch