Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The history and making of the staghorn amulet

The story of this amulet starts many years ago, back in 2002, before I was even a pagan. I was living with my now ex-wife in Oregon. In 2001 I had taken up bow hunting, and after a year of practice I felt ready to try and take my first deer. I had been watching an alfalfa field for many weeks that year. I had gotten to know each deer, I even know in what order they would appear from the forest into the field in the morning. I had set up my blind at the edge of the field and I waited. Just as I had come to expect they appeared and by 10:30 AM I had arrowed on old white muzzled buck from 30 yards. He didn't make it 80 yards and the kill was as quick and clean as any could hope for. Now, I am no trophy hunter. Never have been, never will be. This deer was processed to the full extent of my skill and kept my family fed for many meals. Years later I divorced my wife, became pagan, and moved to central Cal. I was rummaging through some things a few years later and found the only thing I had left from that old deer, a tip of his antler that I had saved back then for some unknown reason. When I found it again I saw the perfect amulet for me. Having learned the principles of scrimshaw, I carved in the antler 4 runes. Power, victory, protection and the like. I then used paint to fill in the carving with black, and wiped off the excess. I then used a clear sealant to keep it from wearing away. With a hole drilled through it and placed on a leather thong with some other wooden beads the amulets physical construction was complete.

One of the reasons that this antler was so fitting for me as an amulet, besides that it came from a deer I killed myself, but that at this time the spirit of the stag had become a spirit guide to me (on a side note, I have never killed a deer since finding stag as a spirit guide, not that I haven't tried. ;)). I then did some magic on the amulet and put it on. I had worn it for about two years without taking it off till recently. I had to take it off during my training as a CNA. When working with people suffering from Dementia, some of them have a tendency to grab things, and they can be very strong. Here is how I plan to re-enchant it:

I will set up my three hallows in my Nemeton. I will set up a table on which I will have my offerings to the kindreds, tools I might need in the rite, such as a wand, divination tools, in this case my Ogham, the amulet to be blessed, and a chalice.

When all is in readiness I begin with the two powers mediation. This helps balance me and gets my energies flowing. When I am ready I begin with my opening prayers. Some thing along the lines of "A child of the earth has come to honor the powers, and work the ways of the druids. I am come to the fire and well to make an amulet of power and protection that is active when ever the loop of the clasp is completed."

I will then bless the fire, well, and sacred tree. I will cleanse the sacred space with water and fire. I will make offering to the earth mother. Then I will open the gate between this world and the spirit world. I will then invite the mighty dead, land spirits, and gods to my fire, making good offerings to each group. In that processes I will make it known my intention to create an amulet and ask for their aid in doing so. Some thing like "Oh ancient ancestors, remember me as I remember you. Grandfathers! Grandmothers! I have not forgotten you. Lend me your wisdom. All you mighty dead, I honor you with this sacrifice. Lend your power to the creation of this amulet. Through it may you empower and protect, may all all harm, mundane or magickal, by land, sea or sky, be turned away."
I will use similar invocations to the land spirits and Gods, with special focus on calling to my spirit guide the stag and Lugh my patron deity.

Once offerings are done, I'd do an take an omen to be sure that they are pleased with the offerings and the working and that I have in fact their aid in the working. If it is positive, I then will place the amulet in the chalice and ask them to "pour" their blessings into it and into the the amulet. At this point I go by feel. When I feel the blessings are done, I place the chalice between the well, fire, and tree. I then draw the two powers into me and then project it into the cup with the amulet to empower it further. I keep the intention of what I want the amulet to do firmly in my mind. When I have done all I can without loosing my focus, I pick up the amulet gently tap it and say "awaken unto life!". I then put the amulet on. Thus the working is done, and I close in the usual way.

So there you have it. This is how I will re-enchant the amulet that has come to mean so much to me. I hated having to break it in the first place, but some times we have to make sacrifices for our greater gain. One other thing about this amulet I find interesting, is that in all the years that I wore it, no one has ever asked about it. Not a word. It was almost as if they never saw it.
I hope to perform the working this weekend.

150th post and a new look!

THIS IS MY 150TH POST! I can hardly believe it. I started this Blog on the recommendation of my good friend Frater Robert. I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy it and how nice it is to share my inner experiences with a larger community. Along with reaching 150 posts I have spruced up my page and given it a new look. One that I really like and find pleasing to the eye. I hope you all enjoy it as well. For those who read my blog, feel free comment on Posts. I always welcome input.

I also want to share some recent manifestations of magic in my life. First off I want to mention that I am doing much better financially then I have in a long long time. I can't remember if I blogged about it or not, if I did it would have been a long time ago, but I cast a spell to protect my finances. That spell has held true for a long time. Recently I won a financial battle against my ex-wife, when she tried to claim both children as tax deductions for last year and screw me out of $3,000. The spell has worked in other ways as well, keeping us from being the victims of identity theft and fraud.

I have started working as a CNA at a long term care facility. This has been a combination of hard work on my part and the blessings of the gods since I started practicing ADF and the aid of my Spirit ally. I should be getting my first paycheck from this new job on Friday. HUZZAH!

I have some upcoming magickal works for readers to look forward to reading about. I had a amulet that was permanently tied around my neck for a couple years. Because of the requirements of the new job, I had to break it to take it off when working. I have rebuilt it with a clasp so that I can remove it when I go to work. However, I feel the magick was broken and have decided that I must re-enchant it. I thought I would post the spell here. Also, I have been asked to summon a spirit guide for a friend. My guides have shared with me how this is to be done. I will nick name my friend the fire-witch. When the fire-witch and I can both find a time, we'll do that working.

I haven't talked about it much on here, but I also make beautiful magic staffs for friends and for sale at the local occult shop. I am currently building one as a late birthday present for a local coven leader, daisy-moon. I think I'll start posting pictures of the staffs I make on here.

As you can see there is a lot to read about and look forward to. I will of course continue my postings about my own spiritual journey and discoveries. I will finish this post by saying thanks to Robert who got me started and continues to support me. To my be'loved mermaid who makes me the luckiest man alive, who helps with my spelling, and tries to keep me from saying things I shouldn't, and last but not least to all my readers. Thank you all, here's to more good times in the coming years!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meditation journal 8: Visions of the Earth Mother

As I have come to know the Two powers meditation so well, I decided it was time to try some thing new. I took a visionary exercises from Ian Corrigan's book Draiocht, and did the Earth Mother vision. I spent some time becoming familiar with the working. It involved visionary work and the giving of an offering. I chose to try this working by doing a formal ritual and opening the gate to facilitate the work. I did so, and the vision came to me quickly and very vividly. I saw the earth mother. Large like a hill, but from a distance through the open gate. I explored the image in my mind for some time, then gave the offerings. I finished the visionary exercises as described. The only way I can describe the sensation I had from it as "The world is in me and I am in the world, the spirit in me is the spirit in the world."

I found myself pulled into a spirit-walk when I was done with the visionary work. The transition felt jerky and caught me off guard as it was sudden. Like being sucked into the gate and dropped through the sky. I came to a grove of ancient trees that I know well. There I often find a teacher, and sure enough there he was. He asked me why I had come. I really wasn't sure why I had come, but then decided to ask him how to handle a situation that had come up at work. I was advised to let my anger and frustration go, and to talk to the person calmly, but to let them know how I felt about what they did. I did as he instructed, but sadly I don't think the person really understood what I was trying to explain to them. Some people just refuse to see the truth to their choices.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A little Ostara: the planting of a seed

As I was not going to be able to attend the Kern County Pagan Circle's Ostara celebration this year because I was going to be out of town, I decided to hold a small Spring Equinox ritual with a couple other druids I knew. I had wanted to do the ritual outside as usual, however this time the weather did not cooperate and I was forced indoors by the heavy winds and light rain. Luckily I have a very large living room and only a few people coming over so I knew it would be just fine. I pulled out the folding card table, and threw a white alter cloth over it. Upon the alter I placed my bell, the symbolic world tree, a well, and a fire of candles. I added a charcoal disk for offerings of incense, and a bowl for other types of offerings. I spent a few days pondering over what type of ritual to perform. I looked over the ADF site liturgists year books, but didn't find any that spoke to me for the Spring Equinox. I decided to go with the basic blessing rite. I also felt that this was a good choice as I was having over two other people who were very new to ADF. The ritual went very well. I kept it simple as there was only three of us, and I chose not to wear my usual robes for this one. I made this decision because the other two didn't have any robes and my intuition said that if I were to robe up it would make them uncomfortable in such a small and intimate ritual.

I followed the ADF COoR. Offerings were given. Omen's taken. I used Ogham for the Omens. Two of them I knew, one I had to look up (hate having to do that during a ritual). The omens were all good. I then took up the chalice and asked for the blessings of the kindred. We took turns drinking it in.

After the ritual we spent a couple hours discussing the possibility of starting our own grove. I gave the other two some ideas to think over. My fellows departed with smiles and promise we would get together again soon to discuss further the idea of starting a grove. The only thing I can think of that did not go well for the ritual was my not being familiar enough with the Ogham and having to look up it's meaning. This really throws off the timing and flow of the ritual. I will continue my studies of the Ogham. Every thing else went right. I didn't have to read any parts of the ritual and the words flowed from me with strength and confidence.

In the end I feel that the best thing to come from the ritual was the plans to form a grove and what seems like an auspicious beginning. I am excited about the prospect of having a group of dedicated druids with which to do druid rituals. I don't mind writing and doing rituals for an eclectic group and we have a lot of fun, but some times doing things just with others who are on the same path has this special energy you can't get otherwise.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Equinox; of birth and balance

If Imbolc is the conception of spring, then the spring Equinox, Ostara to some, and Alban Eilir in the welsh traditions, is its birth into the world. Flowers explode onto the scene, birds nest and lay eggs. Many migratory birds begin to return to nesting grounds and those nature spirits that hibernate through the cold months once again re-emerge to the warming sun. People spend less time indoors and more time outside. It is like a giant spiritual breath of fresh air as one steps outside from being in a stuffy house for too long!

In the past spring equinox has held a lot of excitement for me. It comes about the time that the male wild turkey begins his gobbling for the mating season, and that meant turkey hunting! Since I moved south though, and there are no wild turkeys in this area, spring equinox means cool nights and pleasent days. It means the explosion of poppies and green grass when usually there is none. It's a brief explosion of colors in the normally brown arid land. Its mornings filled with the soft cooing of fan-tailed doves as they do thier best to attract a mate.

It seems that Ostara was primarily celebrated by the Germanic tribes, and the traditions that we associate with it come from them as well. With Irish-celt as my hearth culture from which I draw this leaves me at a bit of a loss as to how to celebrate this high day. I did some research and after much thought, I have decided to simlpy adopt the germanic traditions into my Neo-pagan practice of the Irish Hearth cutlure. There is plenty of evidence of cultural interactions between the two tribes and good reason to assume that if not for the coming of Christianity that their would have been a complete melding of the high-days and their traditions.

Growing up, this time of year was celebrated with the usual Easter type celebrations that we are familier with. Church, easter basket hunting, egg hunting, and a feast with family friends. Many of these traditions have deep pagan roots, and I intend to teach them to my children and keep them going. Coloring of the eggs and making gifts of them for friends. I will teach them to bless the seed and the land for new growth for the coming growing season. I hope to be able to use the egg and rabbit as object leasons about rebirth and how everything dies and is reborn. Another lesson inherant in the spring equinox is the idea of finding balance. Most people are happiest when thier life is in a dynamic state of balance. I say dynamic because it's always shifting and making small corrections to maintain that balance. The Equinoxes are times when day and night are in balance. Yet this balance only comes twice in the turning of the wheel of the year. This tells us that though balance is the goal, it's also a transitional state and there will be times when we are out of balance, times when we are at extreems and perhaps rightly so, but still if the person wishes, and seeks it, they will come to balance once again.

Memorial magick

A week ago, I and others in the pagan community put together a memorial for the Tsunami victims in Japan. The goal of this ritual, was to create peace between the Kami and the people, to assist those who died to the summerlands, and to invoke Divine aid in keeping the reactors from meltdown. I wrote the ritual and since it was for the larger pagan community I Incorporated both ADF druidic elements and wiccan style elements. One of the reasons why I got to lead this ritual was that I have studied Japanese for four years in school and lived in Japan for two years. I speak it fairly well. We wanted to do the invocations in Japanese, thus it fell to me. I first wrote the invocations up in English and then in translated them into Japanese as best as I could. It has been a while since I had translated and had forgotten how trying it can be. In the end, I felt that I did a good job. This ritual was "thrown" together in a matter of two days, and I had a lot of help. Due to the short time line I didn't have time to memorize the invocations. Reading invocations or ritual elements tends to be a pet peeve of mine. Most people can not read off a piece of paper without being monotone and having a piece of paper crammed in ones face since it is dark and hard to see speaking in a monotone voice just looks silly and sounds bad. Trust me when I say you'll never see a Catholic priest do that! At the closest they have these ornate books to read from. Even Buddhist monks read off ornate scrolls. "Scrolls! that's it!" I thought to myself. I'll print the invocations in large font and make them look like scroll's! So I did. I printed four invocations in large font, luckily they all fit on one page. I then taped dowls I had laying around on the bottom and top and rolled them up. I had two in Japanese to be read by myself, and two in English (the translations) to be read by my beautiful wife. I chose to make some impromptu tassel things from hemp and attached them to the English translation scrolls so that they could be easily told apart during the ritual and we'd know which scroll to pick up.

I practiced reading them in a dramatic fashion so as not to come off as monotone before the ritual a few times. I feel that it came off very well during the ritual. Just they way one holds a scroll at the top and bottom keys people in that something different, some thing special is about to be read. In fact I think it went so well, I am going to make use of reading from scrolls a regular part of my ritual practice.

After the invocations and offerings, people gave offerings of their own. Some to the Kami, some to the victims. Some were put into the lake, and some into the sacrificial cauldron to be burned once I got home (we couldn't have fire by the lake where we were). After that I had those gathered who would, place healing energy into a tall white candle at the center of the alter (see picture above). Then I took up the candle and asked that Amaterasu bless the candle with healing for the people and the nuclear reactors. Then the candle was lit. From that candle we lit tea lights that were placed in 7 hand made Japanese style floating lanterns. These lanterns were made by a new member to our pagan community. They were amazing, and done within 24 hours. She brought them to me, and I did the Kanji on the side. I am no calligraphy expert by any stretch, but I am pleased with my work.

The wind came up at the time of lighting the tea lights and this caused delays and I started to loose the attention of some of the members of the circle. I realize now that I should have foreseen this as a "slow" point in the ritual, and filled in the time by picking a song for the people to sing while the lighting was going on. We did get all seven going eventually and put them on the lake. The idea is that the light will guide the drowned spirits to the summer lands. When the lanterns were on the lake, we sang a song I got off the ADF website. My wife came up with a change to the last line to better fit our working. "Strong like an ocean, gentle like the rain, river wash our tears away, and heal our hearts this day." It was sung as call and response and followed by a few minuets of silence.

We then went back to the circle, bid farewell to the directions and the gods of the occasion, and the right was done. I received many compliments on the working and that felt good. I too am pleased with it, considering how quickly it came together and I learned some very good things.

The blessed candle of healing, well it sits on my alter, and I light it each day for a time releasing the blessings into the world and watching the news.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Meditation journal week 7

What is there to say. I love the two powers meditations. When I think on it, I really have been doing this meditation in one form or another for years and years. Before ADF I was doing pretty much the same thing in JMG's book druid magick. So it's not wonder that it comes easily to me. I am still try to do it every day. Most days I get to it. Some I don't. I can really feel a difference though. It feels me with power, and well just plain old life. I have recently discovered a new magical use for the powers as well. I am now working as a CNA at a long term care facility. I enjoy the work, though it's hard and some times unpleasant. Many of the employees there are less then joyous. The place it's self is a bit depressed. Not bad, but a little. Makes sense knowing that people die here fairly often, and those that are here are sick or sickly. I have found that comparatively that when I am in this place and the two powers flow through me I practically glow. Every one notices and more then a few comment on it. I believe this has a positive effect on the residents and other staff. I get the sense I am a lantern in a dark room. Already they are asking for me by name to help them with things, even when I am not on that wing of the building! Just the other day a CNA came running from A wing to seek me out to talk a resident with Dementia down off a chair he was standing on! It was a rocking chair no less. I also used the two powers in some magic that I did for a healing ritual for the reactors in Japan, but more on that in my next post.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Swallowed by Ryujin

I woke up Friday morning, got my usual breakfast of peanut butter sandwich and a cup of milk, and sat at the computer to catch up with the news and email. What I saw made the bread and peanut butter taste stale. Images of massive destruction as the ocean rose up and swallowed the coast of Japan after a very large earthquake. This struck me deeply in a way I never would have suspected. See, I once lived in Japan. I speak the language, I count a few of the people there as friend. I even was married to a Japanese woman once, and my children are half Japanese. Luckily no one I knew was in any harm. Still it struck me. I have many memories of that land. I have eaten its food, lived on its earth, breathed its air, drank its waters, prayed at it's shrines. I have studied it's past, and present culture. It is thus that the events felt so personal to me. The loss of life and suffering is just beginning to be counted, but I feel it in my spirit. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time this sort of thing happens in Japan, but I know that the Japanese will stoically get to work, and rebuild. Shikata ga nai. I write this to all my Shinto "cousins", you are in my thoughts and prayers these days. May Ryujin's fury be ended and may the light of Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami shine upon you once more.

the magic that we weave

I haven't written about the magic I have worked of late. Well, all in all I haven't worked all that much. I did an uncrossing for friend a few weeks back. It seems to have gone well. I have been working with another friend with shamanic work helping her over come some issues stemming from her childhood. I still do daily devotionals and I did sacrificial offerings to the gods yesterday to help those affected by the Tsunami in Japan. I have also worked some Ogham magic and I continue my studies. I feel that I am now familiar enough with ADF and Ian's ritual style that I am ready to move forward with the nature spirit summoning work.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nature space: part 1

As part of my Dedicant path, I am asked to visit a nature spot and spend some time there. I have chosen a place near my home called Heart Park. It's a large place, and has a river that runs through it. It also has several man made ponds. The park is interesting in that it runs from manicured to wild depending on which part you are in. I of course prefer to spend my time in the wild sections. The park is home to a number of trees, none of which I suspect are native. Still I have seen Vally Oak, Scrub Oak, Sycamore, and several I haven't identified yet. Near the river there are Reeds, and Cattails. The park is home to wild ducks and geese, the last survivors of what used to be this continents largest marshland, but has since been dried up and used for commercial farming. The park also hosts turtles, rabbits, peacocks (not native of course), Harris and Red tailed hawks, and on occasion the mighty Golden Eagle. I have seen sign of Coyote and Raccoons as well, but never the critters themselves. There are many other critters such as skunks I imagine, and I know there is a pack of feral cats as well.
Like most druids I enjoy spending time in wild places. It feels like home, brings me a sense of peace. I like to say that I just "get" nature. I understand it at a gut level that I can't explain. I don't get urbanization like that though. I feel much more comfortable sitting along on a log in the woods, then I do sitting alone on a park bench waiting at a bus stop. In the woods there is a deep sense of harmony, and that brings me to peace within.
Today however was different. Today I went to the woods seeking to find peace from the turmoil within. I tried to deny it all day. I tried not to feel it, tried to pretend it wasn't there. None of that worked. See, today is my little girls seventh birthday, except she's over six hundred miles away, and I am not sure when I'll get to see her next. Her mother refuses to drive half way to meet me, and with a new job starting soon, I am not sure if I can take off a week to come see my kids any time soon. I am sure she's having a great day and I know she has a birthday party planned this weekend. It just saddens me that I can't be there. I thought some time in my nature spot would help, but it didn't. While I was in my nature spot, I found a decent oak branch to make another staff out of. It's some thing I enjoy doing. But not today. Today I just ran through the motions feeling empty inside. Once I got home I bounced through a number of different things that normally bring me joy, but nothing did today. I have come to accept that for today, I am going to be sad and a bit empty and lonely. Tomorrow will be better I suspect.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

good enough.

PHew!!!! That was some intense training. I am sorry dear readers that I have not been active on the blog, but my professional life has been eating up most my time these past few weeks. The new teacher we got for the CNA program is outstanding, but also very very demanding and a lot tougher then the previous teacher. Thus the reason for my silence.

I have still been meditating. My new schedule is to come home from clinical, shower and then do daily devotions and meditate. Other aspects of my life have made this a challenge as well. Things like taxes and battling with the Ex over who claims what child, getting the car tuned up, and going to the doctor to have a granuloma removed that grew from an ingrown finger nail. That is the most painful thing I have had to experience in a very long time. Still I meditate at least 3-4 times a week. "Wow!" one might say, "he sure is devoted." Honestly, its not devotion that keeps me doing it. It's simply the fact that I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER when I do regular devotions and meditations. It helps me feel so balanced and healthy. In fact, many people in the CNA class have been stricken with a nasty cold. Not me. Even my wife is currently suffering from the cold, but I seem to be good. She's had it for some time now, and it seems to me that if I were going to get it, I would be showing signs by now. I truly believe that my daily meditation and devotions have some thing to do with my remaining healthy. It occurs to me that I have been under a lot more stress of late then usual to boot. Again the meditations have been critical in my coping with it.

I attended Pantheacon since I last wrote. It was a great experience once again. I am already looking forward to next year. The highlight for me was getting to meet some other ADF folk, and participating in the public ritual. My role was small, but I enjoyed it very much, and I gleaned some new ritual techniques that want to incorporate into my own rituals. I picked up my first Bodhran while I was there. I have enjoyed learning to play it. I am not very good yet, but I am getting the hang of it. I had a lot of fun playing it in the drumming circle at P-con.

I have not had anything really all that note worthy in my spiritual path. No spirit-walks, no Epiphanies, no super awe inspiring moments. I am happy, healthy, wise, and feeling full of power. Some days that is good enough.