the sea

Sacred Places: Cove Beach

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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 ūüėČ

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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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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Revelations at the Sea

It’s been a while blog. Such is the way of life that things have just gotten complicated and I haven’t felt the inspiration or need to sit down and enter the login information that would bring me here and write, until today. Spiritually and just in general things got hard, and my treading water in the storms that have arisen have demanded all my attention. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details but as this is a spiritual blog for the most part I will talk about the spiritual side of the coin.

About the time that this little blog became dormant the Morrighan had made it known to me that the accordance we had agreed to prior and had put the nebulous stamp of “someday” on ¬†was changed to “Now or Never”. At that point I went into a state of self analysis and processing because frankly that is a hefty thing to have to face. While my choice was fairly self evident to me; do the work, be the person that she expects me to be, or be a worm. I say that and I know that many people may infer some melodrama on my part, or attempts at sensationalism. All I can do is assure that is the actual feelings and breadth of the situation. Although to me it was a non-choice that I was going to accept the path before me, it still took an amount of gearing up and adjusting to the “someday” being “now”.

In the taking up this mantle it meant a pretty heavy overhaul of life style, and doing that has taken up a lot of my time and attention. Which meant that the stand still of spiritual life settled into that standard of layman.

What I mean by that is I said my prayers when I needed to, I made toast on occasion, but otherwise just lived my life. There is nothing wrong with that, just being a believer living in the world. It is the standard I held for a long time, But I am a priestess, more I am a High Priestess, and as such am required to have more of a spiritual life and practice than that. If you know me or read my blog enough you know that this then triggered another session of self analysis. I believe pretty strongly that self analysis is the tool for life fulfillment. It is time to go back and ask myself if being a Priestess is still for me? Is this a service I am still called to render? Why? What does that mean? What are the standards that I am willing to uphold? The list goes on.

While I am still in the process of ¬†turning these questions around, I’m fairly certain that I am still able, willing, and called to serve as priestess. But obviously need to reestablish the lines of what that means, what my personal practice is in need of, and how they can be in accordance with the vows that I have made to the Gods.

Which brings us to yesterday, and the clarifying refreshing insight that the grey stormy sea gave me.

The grey skied sea

It had been a long time since I was last at the Sea. Temple and mine’s monthly dark moon trips had petered out for the same reasons that everything else had. So when a coven sister of ours revealed that she had not been to the beach in 8 or so years we knew it was time.

When we got there I was immediately hit with how incredibly good it felt to breath. No, really something as remarkably simple as that. The difference between the short shallow constrained breaths that I had been taking ever day and every night of my life recently and the soul satisfying deep all through the belly breathing that the open sky and sea air enticed into me. Even now sitting here in front of my computer far away from the crash of the waves, I remember and my breathing is better.

The sky was a glorious shade of grey. The low hanging clouds and a fine curtain of mist rolling at a steady clip across that wide sky. We had chosen our beach wisely for it’s lack of popularity, hoping for privacy. We were rewarded beautifully. After a long trek across the crab littered beach it was just us, the gulls, crows, pelicans and our various Gods.

We took our time, enjoying the lush spread of food that we had brought along. Savoring each others company and just the freedom of the sun, water and being sans four walls. Then it was time to do what we had come to do. For me that was to make my most humble offerings, with no grand design other than to say “I am still here with you”. ¬†I had brought what felt right. An apple for my love and devotion. Oats for the sustenance that my faith has given me. Olives as the wealth that they bless. Beer for the pact between mortal and Gods as well as the pacts between mortal and mortal. And blood for the cycles and power that is in the world.

An offering of my devotions

I took my small offering further down the beach towards the stoic cliffs and felt compiled to sing. I sang my self blessing, a song I have not sung in a while. I sung loudly into the wind, my sisters each wandering off their own way on their own journeys. My self blessing is a fairly simple song that helps to connect me to the three realms. It usually goes as follows:

By the Sky, I speak truth
By the Sea, I know my beauty
By the Land, I walk my path

By the Sky, I sing your beauty
By the Sea, I know myself
By the Land I am your daughter
All Three are in me

But today that was not the order that the words came out of my mouth. Today the Sea wanted to be the path that I walked, to be the place from whence I was born from and I was happy to oblige. I made my procession around the corner of the cliffs, tide being low enough to allow. Coming face to face with the Ancient Temple sized giant that is the shear cliff side, the magnificent deep cave to the Underworld and the Sea. I will someday bring my camera to photograph the grandness of this holy sacred site, adding it to the entries of my Sacred Places. It is a Temple. On it’s rough sea hewn walls you can see where the sigils and writing would be, you can envision the regal Lion that would guard one side and the benevolent Bull on the other. Offerings in hand I sang even louder turning in time with the song to serenade each of the realms.

Chest bursting with the power and beauty of it all I carefully laid out my offerings, said my prayers and began to make the lightheaded way back to the blanket and my final offering to the Man of the Sea himself.

Land, Sea and Sky

It is the tradition of these beach trips that our Sea Gods get their own offering and time. Usually it’s a bottle of beer, today it was a bottle of Guinness. The waves were white and rough, pulling in zig zag crosses, easily warning of the deadly undertow that would be all to happy to snatch a wandering soul out to the tepid blue and the isles of the spirits. The water was not as frightening cold as I expected, and though the skies were grey the air was pleasant and humid. Without hesitation or even a hiss of pain at the cold I walked out into those waves. I sang the song of Manann√°n¬†. Well…it’s not a whole song yet, but it will be, and I sang it none the less. Pouring out the heady foaming mixture into the white foamed surf. Mimic the ebb and pull of the waves to ensure that I would not also get swept away into deeper water, gasping when the inevitable excited waved came up too high and drenched me more thoroughly in thanks for my offerings. ¬† My song soon changed to a different melody. One I had never sang before, but reminded me of many an Irish love song.

I stayed out there much longer than intended. Enjoying the flirtation with the waves, really feeling relaxed. The first time in a long time. At length I joined back up with Temple and we talked of our Sea Gods and our love of them. When our sister had completed her own workings we took her around the corner of the cliffs to see the glory of the cave to the Underworld and the Temple Cliffs. We went into the cave and stood in its dark embrace for a while, taking a few moments to chant to Persephone who much loves the place. Just as I felt the darkness pulling me in, the Sun which was beginning to hang low in the sky hit the perfect angle to shine into the cave. The darkness was lifted and I could hear the deep melodic voice calling me outside. Beckoning me back. I had been gone so long it was too soon to disappear again. In pure elation I turned from the cave to the Sun pouring down through the hazy clouds and ran out to the sea. My heart pounding, a wolf grin on my face, straight into the Sea. It was a home coming.

Sussing ourselves further on the waves, the water, the salt, and just everything, we slowly made our way back to the blanket. It was only then that the chill caught up to me, it was easily pacified with a towel but I was covered in sand and resigned to it happily. Laying on the blanket staring up at the shifting sky Temple and I do as we always do, shared.

I will take this moment to say some things that will embarrass and hopefully please my beautiful friend Temple. ¬†I am so incredibly thankful to have her in my life and as my friend and sister. It is a rare thing in our society these days that you find more than one person to share your soul with. We are told sublimely that there is only one way to have intimacy and that is in a sexual, romantic relationship with one person. It’s just not true, nor do I think the weight and health of an entire soul can be sustained in that way. We are social creatures, I am a social creature, that craves true connection, and various types of love that life can bring. The comforting love of family, the fun love of friends, the supportive love of community, the strong connective love of people who you make the active choice to be your family, as well as the sustenance of the love of a partner who is your friend and lover. So to be blessed in this life time with so much love, and with finding a friend where there is absolute trust is just amazing. ¬†So hear me fully and completely when I say my beautiful, kind, witty, Temple, that I love you.

Now then back to spiritual revelations on the the beach.

Sitting there watching the gulls, and the pelicans, we shared our current spiritual conundrums. How my altar has been veiled for about a month, how it was just feeling like it was trying too hard. Temple being the cleaver one who asks the right probing questions asked me what I meant by the altar “feeling it was trying too hard”? Having to put feeling into words things just started to line up for me. My altar felt like it was trying too hard because it wasn’t being what it wanted to be. It wants to be a stone slab table outside. It wants to be a flat rock in the middle of a standing stone circle. It wants to be a carved wooden statue in the center of an apple orchard. It wants to be at the base of a guardian Oak tree. It wants to be a fire pit and a hole in the ground. But it is a vanity, in a apartment, covered in man made items.

I am an Animist stuck in a bubble.

I don’t know what to do in my practice here in this urban nature. I tend my household spirits, I cleanse etc, but I don’t know what else to do. I know what I would do. On land that I owned. There would be no question of what to do because it would be everywhere all the time. The boundaries of the property would need to be walked and tended to. The harvest would need to be offered. At first bloom there would be rites that needed to happen. When the land was still and dead there would be rites. Dates on a calendar mean nothing to me, I need to be able to feel the breath of the land and just know when things need to be done. I know that this is what I would because this is what I did when we lived out in country. It was a year of watching the milk thistle grow, watching the walnut trees bear fruit, keeping an eye on the wild pigs and coyotes. It was the most spiritually fruitful time of my life. Some people feel connected to the rhythms of the city, the ebb and flow of people, of commerce. Some people feel connected to the nature of the urban forest, and the ivy that grows on the overpass, and the concrete temples that simply are. That connection is not easy for me. Lately I have fallen into staying within the confines of my four walls, cut off from the indicators of the three realms. Cut off from the messages of how to maintain the natural order in my life. I have let myself get surrounded in plastic and concrete things that are not my conductors. My roots veer off to land where the ratio of human to nature is much smaller. Where I don’t have to worry about the neighbors hearing. Where bonfires and bones are just part of the day. I need trees and forest, and hills and garden, not too far from the sea. Flowing water and just land.

All illuminating to my character. All helpful insights into “Yes, the goals you have set for yourself are good ones. Ones that will make you happy.” But in the mean time? I will have land and house, but in 5, 10, 12 years. What to do till then? How to feel connected, how to maintain my spiritual integrity with the reality of my life now. There is still work and opportunities to have here in the city. A balance must be struck.

Plotting with Temple is always helpful, and then plotting with the Lumberjack just even more so. The Lumberjack, my beloved, does not share my beliefs. He is more of an agnostic jedi scientist, but he is incredibly support of my spirituality. Actively supportive, talking things out with him telling him my revelations, he immediately added in methods and ideas to help obtain my goal. Immediately volunteered ways he could be involved in making things happen for me. Truly I am a much loved woman and I am so thankful.

The plans currently are to immediately get the Dark Moon beach trips on the calendar and started again. Getting out meeting Land, Sea and Sky at their nexus. Making offerings, that is how I maintain my own natural order. Doing the work and making monthly petitions for others as part of my Priestess service, more information on that to come. We are going to clear off and spruce up our little back porch. I’m going to get more plants, the Lumberjack is going to make a little altar table space for me out there. Then I’m just going to open the door and spend more time out there. When Temple comes over, we’ll sit out there and talk. I’m just going to go outside more. Walk more. The Lumberjack wants to take me on more camping trips, would like to find a good spot for us and Temple and the Giant to go. He’s going to help make me some items out of branches and wood to bring more of the outside onto my house altar. I’m going to cut it back, and really just put the things that connect to the realms and the Gods on there. Separate my spell work and community work for another place. At our coven’s up coming Harvest Home retreat, I’m going to spend as much time outside as possible. Temple and I are going to recruit someone into drumming for a trance ritual.

And that’s the plan thus far. Not a lot. But it’s a plan. It’s a start, and I feel good about it.

I feel good about the whole day yesterday. I feel emotional and weeping today, but I can still look back on yesterday and feel the energetic buzz. I’m sort of clinging to that at the moment. In the long run I don’t know what others might call my path, if it’s Celtic Polytheism with a Recon bent, if it’s Recon flavored Celtic Revivalism, if its just a woman grasping at feelings of rightness in order to live her life happily. I don’t really care. I’m just going to keep on remembering to breathe.

 

The Heart of the matter


At some point in the future I’m sure that there will be a post that does into the nuts and bolts of what exactly it is that I believe and what I practice and how that differs from my public priestessing. I have no doubt on this. At the moment however this is not that post. So instead I’ll just give you the bits you need to know. ¬†I’m a Gaelic Polytheist, I believe in many gods, I came to¬†reverence¬†of the gods of the Irish¬†pantheon¬†through the¬†reverence¬†of¬†ancestors. As such the act of offering in worship has always been a corner-stone of my practice. Little things, big things, singing while cooking a meal and offering a portion. Water on all the altars. Bread, flowers bought and picked, artwork done in honor. Honey, coins, the list goes on and on. The change came when we moved out to the Lodge. Living out in the country, above a horse stable, I suddenly felt more connected to my gods than ever before. Being able to step outside and feel dirt, see creatures, plants everywhere. Doing ritual outside I felt more charged, more power in the connection. I started leaving offerings outside more and more, making little shrines to the creek sprites and the crows. With these offerings came little gifts, ¬†feathers, bones, a gnarled branch of oak, horse hair. The power and the beauty in these natural things really took my breath away. I’ve always been a little averse to artificial things in spiritual practice but this really solidified it for me. Then came Samhain…lol

As I said I am a public priestess aside from my personal practices. With my coven we put on¬†eclectic¬†drop-in rituals for a diverse and thriving community. Our Samhain ritual is aspecting heavy (I believe that some people call it “Calling down”) and last Samhain I was asked to aspect Macha. For some good information on the various Macha’s in the Irish tradition you can start here. Another bit you need to know is that I am dedicated to the Morrighan, and I’m sure at some point I’ll have to go into how I see the Morrighan and work with her (is it a Title of ¬†several goddesses? A triple goddess? Some combination thereof?), but suffice to say that I have and do work with all the names and goddesses that fall under the Morrighan name. It was in working with Macha that opened up a new look at what to offer, it had just never¬†occurred¬†to me before to give any of my deities meat, or blood. But it fit, a heart for Macha (ok in actual fact she wanted a head but that was trickery to get and I ran out of time). The quest for the heart brought its own revelations, on how ridiculous “butcher shops” are now a days (they don’t “butcher” anything other than a tenderloin into steaks) and the mere reaction the thought of raw meat as an offering garnered. But that first offering was the stepping stone to a deeper more fulfilling path and I haven’t looked back since. Even though I have since moved away from my peaceful Lodge and back into the urban world of the City, I still feel that strong connection. I just have to work a little harder for it.

Now I go to the sea. Where the land, sky and sea all meet and lay my offerings down after a climb over the mighty rocks to the perfect spot. This time it was a HIGH lofty rock jutting out into the sea, it was a glorious view from up there. Breathing in the clean air with a bit of¬†adrenaline¬†(it would have been very dangerous if I’d slipped climbing up) Under the watchful eyes of the Ravens, I pray, sing and loving prepare my offering. This time, since it was not only the dark moon but an eclipse, ¬†it was a beautiful whole beef heart with homemade oatmeal drizzled with honey and mixed with yogurt, and my always offering of an apple, a token of my love and¬†appreciation. ¬†When I was done, turned to be greeted by the watchful gleaming eyes of the Raven Brothers. They know me well enough now to know that I have delicious for them and are impatient for me to leave, but not without swooping down gloriously close and showing off their beautiful selves.

I live for these days. The care and preparation that goes into deciding the next offering, gathering the items blessing and caring for them. The drive out away from the city in itself revitalizing. Then being there at the nexus where all the worlds meet. Watching the Ravens come in greeting, and the pelicans in the distance. Building a fire, having a simple meal, communing, worshiping. It is simple, it is glory.