Sunday, May 22, 2011
Yesterday I and my step-daughter hiked two miles to the top of Iwihimnu. This is truly a place of power. At 8,000 feet it's the highest point around. The Chumash hold their summer solstice rituals on this spot and have for thousands of years. It occurred to me recently, if Po-sun-co-la is the main feminine nature spirit of this area, then Iwihimnu would be the primary masculine spirit. The local king and queen of the sidhe as it were. So while at the summit over looking the valley below I chanted the charm of seeking welcome and left offerings of water and incense. I drew on Ogham to see if it was accepted. I got Straif. Straif is "sulfur" and as this is a very arrid and rocky region I took this as a "yes". I noticed other people had left offerings as well. In the crevice of rock we found a Tibetan prayer flag. My daughter and I sat for a while just soaking in the sun and feel of the place. Later we went to another look out point and sat in the shade of a Jeffry pine and enjoyed a nice lunch. Then it was a hike back to the car and home.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Today I decided to do a full Core order of ritual with a gate opening, meditation, and then formal closing. What a difference the opening of a gate and offerings makes to the power of the meditation. I really felt the gate open and the shift in the flow of the energy in the room. I kept the offerings simple, just some stick incense for each of the kindred. I didn't invoke specific deities, spirits or dead. I just let come what may. After the gate was opened I did the charm of second sight from Ian's book. I didn't get a clear view of the energetics around me, but I did get an impression of the gate open over my alter. I could feel the energy flowing into it, like the softest of winds. It wasn't long before I felt pulled out of my body into the spirit world by none other then the morrigan. She had some things she needed to address. I won't share all of it, but one thing that really sticks with me is she led me to a battlefield. There I watched what can only be described as butchery. She asked me which army is "right"? Which one has the moral high ground. As I had no context for the battle, no reason for it, I could only tell her that I can't tell. Therein seemed to be the point of the exercise. Deciding what is "right" or "wrong" action requires knowing the context in which the action takes place. When I look at it, really look at it, I see that action itself is purely neutral, neither right nor wrong. If that's so, then what do we mean when we say we judge people by their actions and not their words?
It seems to me what we are really saying is we judge their actions within the context of the situation. Yet, how do we know we really understand the context? So much of what we think we understand, we don't. One crucial piece of missing info can totally shift your perception of ones response to a perceived situation. In the end we can never really know all the parts of a situation. We can only operate on a best guess basis.
It was also made clear to me that the reason the Morrigan is the queen of all things is because all things die, and she is the great devourer, she is also bearer of the ripe fruits of spring, and the scythe wielder in the harvest season.
Friday, May 13, 2011
When some one asks you a question, assuming its not the rhetorical type, they are inviting you to speak. Whether we realize it or not they are handing you a small bit of power. What we do with that power is up to us. Will we waste it? Will we abuse it? Will we make the most of that power? Will we refuse the chance at power and chose not to speak? If we do choose to speak, what do we say? How do we know what the right thing to say is? To often we forget that words do have power. Don't believe me? If words don't have power, then why do we use them in magick/prayer/ritual? If words do not have power, then how is it that they move us emotionally? I know I know, "sticks and stones.." blah blah blah. The fact is, words can hurt, and they can heal. Words have power. I have been asked to speak at Fresno's pagan pride day. I have accepted the invitation to speak. What words will I chose? How will I make use of the power that has been given me?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
So I was doing my daily devotionals a little bit ago, followed by the two powers meditation. My work as a CNA really tires me out, especially the end of day 3. The two powers meditation helps to restore those energy levels. I realized however that when I inhale the energy flows in, and when I exhale that same energy was flowing back out again. Though it helped me feel connected to the universe, my total net gain of energy was 0, zilch, nada! This should have been a no brainer to me long ago. I have done many such energy meditations in the past and always to keep the energy[ one must consciously hold onto it with the will to prevent it from flowing out when a person exhales. So I did...and I felt my energy levels build and build and build and build until I felt I couldn't take any more. Then when I ended the rite, I let all that energy flow out of me with the intent that it was an offering to Brigid in thanks for the good day I had at work. Hope she liked it! ;)
Friday, May 6, 2011
I sat looking at the text message. My b'loved wasn't coming home for lunch, but instead was going to go eat with her friend from work. For a moment I felt abandoned and alone, only to have the thought and feeling quickly chased away by the idea that when I am in nature, I am never alone, that when I am in nature, I am surrounded by the land spirits. It then followed that I would have my lunch with them. I made up a roast beef sandwich, threw in an apple, a banana, and grabbed up the acorn pastries and honey a friend made and gave me on Beltaine.
I drove to a county park along Po-sun-co-la, the river that is the life of the land here. In my explorations of Irish myth and legend, one quickly realizes that many of the rivers share names with many of the goddesses. The Danube and the Boine come to mind off the top of my head. Living here in what is a very arid region, I can really understand on a visceral level the connection. The river here really is the source of all life...in this valley. Po-sun-co-la once was mighty. She came roaring out of the cannon and onto the flats helping to create the largest wetlands in the continental U.S. That is until the white man settled the region, massacring the local native Americans in the take over. Soon all the water was siphoned off to support agriculture. It is the same today. The marsh long dried up, and turned to farming, now the areas largest export. Water is so precious here many a man has lost his life in his attempts to get more of it then the next farm down river.
These days, the river is dammed, and it's flow controlled to prevent flooding. The river spirit is angry, and with good reason. Why do I think the river is angry? Because every year she kills several people who swim in her. Some who drown do so in places that seem perfectly safe for swimming. One story I know well involved a man, his wife, and one of his children. The child suddenly began to drown. The wife responded first, perhaps she was closest, and tried to rescue the child, the husband and father close behind her. In a matter of seconds the man found himself in a situation where he had to choose...save his now drowning wife, or his child....
He made his choice. The river took the other. Summer is coming and once again the heat will push people to her shore, and again she will take several of them. She is known as a killer, yet people still come. My wife and I feel she takes these lives out of anger. Po-sun-co-la is angry that she is bleed off and not allowed to flow. She feeds the valley farms and thus the world, but trash is dumped into her daily. I'd be angry too. It is this spirit with which I choose to have lunch with and seek a welcome.
I walked to the bank and found a quiet spot in the shade of a tree that will put me very close to the lapping edge of the water. The snow melt in the hills had the river running high and fast. I sat down and quietly had my lunch observing the sidhe around me. Tree, fox tail, dragonfly, duck, gnat but most of all Po-sun-co-la. I ate a few of the Acorn treats. When there were three left, I dipped them in honey and invoked the ADF druid charm of welcome. I offered the cakes and honey to Po-sun-co-la and the last of my water. I then drew Ogham to determine of my offering was accepted. I pulled the few Saille. The tree associated with this few is the willow, and I took this for a good omen. For willows grow best next to a water source such at Po-sun-co-la. It is a few that is about water and "going with the flow".
I plan to continue such work with Po-sun-co-la. I hope that when I am ready to summon the sidhe to my own fire, and make pacts, that Po-sun-co-la will show herself to me. I hope to help soften her anger so that she won't take so many lives in the years to come. I hope to make a partnership with her as well.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Last night at around 2:30 am, I was suddenly awoken by a crashing noise coming from our living room. I got up, shillelagh in hand, and investigated the racket. A picture of my step daughter had fallen from the mantle taking a metal cut out of fir trees that were also there as direction with it. Yet strangly not hitting a closer and much larger fairy statue. The picture was not simply at the foot of the mantle, but several feet away as if tossed. I could find no simple reason why this should happen. After searching the house I and my wife went back to bed. Instead of going back to sleep I went into a shamanic trance and explored my home as spirit. In the living room I saw a large whitish spirit in the shape of smoke. I was able to chase it off. Today I have done a minor banishment with sacred water and fire.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I was part of two beltaine rituals this year though for now I am only going to discuss the ADF style ritual I lead. The first one was one that I wrote and with the aid of several other new ADF druids (collect one more and I get a toaster) and some fellow neo-pagans, performed a public ritual in the back yard of the local occult shop. The outline for the ritual was as such:
I. Set up
d. Table and flags
a. Processional Into grove
i. Sing “we approach the sacred grove”
b. Welcome speech and why we have come by Derek
c. Hallowing the fire/well/tree
i. Julie hallows the fire-smudges Circle
ii. Tiffany Hallows the well, aspirges circle
iii. Brandon hallows the world tree and smudges and asperges it.
iv. Derek claims the space as whole and holy
d. Opening the Gate
i. Derek opens the gate while people chant “let the gates be open”
ii. Jake the red invokes the kindred, Derek gives offerings
iii. Sing “gods, dead, and mighty sidhe”
III. Ritual Body
a. Bannock bread and Beer offering
ii. Mark the bread and cut and turning
iii. Hand out pieces of bread
iv. Marked one is chosen; Tiff, Julie, Brandon tie on ribbons, Derek explains what is to be done.
v. Derek says “May the Blessing of the ancients, spirits, and gods go with you.” Everyone then touches the marked one and says “may the blessing of the kindred and our blessings go with you.”
vi. The marked one goes to the gate and says “To those beyond the boarder whether gods or goddesses
Whether spirits or dead
To those who were before us
And dwell in the darkness of our world’s shadow:
I come to you with offering
To buy from you a world.”
vii. Marked one leaves circle and gives offering, then returns. Derek smudges and aspergis the marked one and welcomes him back to the circle
b. Rite of Blessing
i. People bring offerings to the marked one.
ii. Marked one places offerings on fire
iii. Derek calls for the blessing of the gods
iv. Tribe sings “offering song”
v. Jake divines the nature of the blessings
vi. Derek Invokes the blessings into the Hirlas horn
vii. Derek takes the horn around the circle while Jake leads the tribe in “power of the spirits”
c. Guided meditation for Beltaine
i. With the blessings of the gods flowing through them, Derek leads the tribe through a variation of the two powers meditation.
IV. Closing the ritual
a. Thanking the kindreds-final offering
b. Closing the gate
c. Thanking the tribe
d. Sing “walk with wisdom” for recessional
After the ritual we had conversation and h`ordurves. I received lots of compliments on the ritual and it’s working. Everything ran smoothly. I didn’t forget the drink for taking in the blessings in the fridge like I did at Imbolc. I didn’t forget any of my words or any such. Incorporating that which I learned at Pantheacon I brought the element of music and singing into ritual. I worked hard to memorize the songs and tunes and did a good job of it. I tried to get a few others to do so as well so that when we sang there would be a number of us whom the other participants could follow. This didn’t work out as well as I would have liked as the other members really didn’t make the time to truly learn the music. None of us, except my wife who didn’t learn the music, is really any good at singing anyway. Still we muddled through and no one gave me any negative feedback about the singing. There were three children who joined us for the first time in a pagan ritual. I enjoyed the energy they brought to the event. We also had two other new people who came simply to watch the event, I was told for a religious studies class. They did participate in all ways except for the drinking in the blessings. There were two teenagers and their father as well. For the teenagers it was their first pagan ritual. The young man did not use enough care when drinking from the hirlas and ended up wearing a bit of the blessed drink! He took it in good humor though.
During the part of the ritual where we gave offering to the outsiders, we choose to use the spiral labyrinth at the center of which to leave the offerings. I had every one turn their backs to the person walking the labyrinth. This took some time and at one point some on asked “what’s taking so long? Did they take her?” This made me smile, if only I had told them that it’s possible that the marked one would have been killed as part of the offering. Instead we tied red ribbons around the marked one’s neck and wrists. It added a powerful visual “punch” to the whole thing. An older pagan-witch who is going through some tough times due to poor decisions she made a while back shed some tears upon my shoulder as we sang the recessional song “walk with wisdom”. I believe the ritual touched her in ways none of us could really understand.
What would I do differently?
Next year I don’t think I’ll do the offering to the outsiders in the formal way we did this year. Not that it didn’t work. It came off great, just that to me it puts a dark cloud over a festive sabbot that I feel is about love and life and joy. I also miss the stories I used to tell in ritual about gods, spirits, and mighty dead. I would like to re-introduce that element into it.
All in all it was an excellent and smooth running ritual.