Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nature Journal #5

Last week and weekend I got to spend several hours enjoying nature. On Thursday I sat again at the bank of Po-sun-co-la. I like to sit at the foot of a tree, some of who's roots have been exposed by the eroding bank of the river. The river still is high from the melt off in the mountains. she flows quickly these days. Already the temperature is in the upper 80's and low 90's. Once I was comfortable, I reached into my crane bag and pulled out some incense. I lit it and offered it to the nature spirits of the place as gift in hope of their welcome. Things were quiet and still for some time. After a bit I heard voices. This was not overly surprising as I was in a park, and though I was in a secluded spot off the "beaten" path from time to time people pass me by. What did surprise me though was to see a man floating down the river in an innertube! of course he was not wearing a life jacket. I could only shake my head and watch him pass. I small prayer escaped my lips for his safety. Po-sun-co-la has a reputation as a killer. Once the rafters went past silence returned. I watched the trees in the dappled sunlight. Some of them dipped their branches into the water casually. Birds flit from branch to branch. As I looked up and to my right I was treated to an aerial show. A large group of damsel flies had swarmed. They would all fly together in a spherical pattern centered around some thing only they seemed to know, then suddenly they would simultaneously fly off in different directions and land on the branches of nearby trees. After a brief pause, at some unknown signal to me, they would all fly together again in the massive sphere of darting damsel flies. This patterned repeated itself time and again as I watched transfixed. I have never seen damsel flies behave in this way before. I have chosen to take it as a sign from the nature spirits, that my offering was well received and I was welcome in that place.

Over the weekend I got to travel just south of Yosemite national park for a handfasting. On Sunday, myself, my beloved water witch, the air witch, and my fellow ADFer druid got to spend some quality time in a giant sequoia grove. Long time readers will know that I have spent a long time with many different trees. I often exchange energy with trees. I walked up to a large giant, estimated at well over 2,000 years old and placed my hand on it's soft bark. I talked to the tree, and gave it the offering of water from my canteen. The energy that I got back from it was not like any tree energy I have ever felt before. It's hard to put into words. After giving it some thought I would say it was like sleepy silk scarf lightly running over the skin of my arm. So much more subtle then any tree energy I have experienced before. Besides the sequoia there were beautiful dogwoods with bright white flowers in full bloom. There were some old growth Douglas fir as well. This was very pleasing to me as it was like being in my old home again. There were also incense ceders. I took some incense ceder and a small black raven feather I found to use in my Lughnasa offering. There was also sugar pine and white fir. It was nice to once again be in a place where I could recognize the trees.

Lastly one of the neatest sights was that of a tree growing out of a stump of a giant sequoia that had been cut down over 100 years ago. I immediately thought of the ADF symbol.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl chain of all virtues. Joseph Hall

Moderation in ADF is defined as “Cultivating one's appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency." Seems simple enough on the surface, yet I can’t help but feel that this definition is a bit limiting. I am a big proponent of moderation in all things, even moderation; always have been. The way this definition is worded though specifies “one’s appetites”. This then focuses on things like food, drink, drugs, and sex. These are the safe things; the easy things that most people in most cultures will agree should be carried out with moderation. But what of things like anger, love, generosity, education, exercise, cleanliness, control and reward and punishment? These are things that I feel also need to know the virtue of moderation but don’t fall clearly under the title of “appetites”. I think we would all agree that anger needs moderation. Without it bad and often unjust things happen. People die every day to un-moderated anger. What of love you ask? Love also needs to be moderated. I define love as “putting the needs of another above your own.” With this definition in mind, is it not possible to see how a lack of moderation in love will cause a person harm? They will become a slave to the one they love, always putting themselves last. In this way they don’t get enough of why they need to flourish and be happy. Let us look at one more; moderation in control. Many times in my life, almost daily, I see people struggle to control every aspect of themselves, of their life, of things that they logically have no control over. Most often it’s the other people in their life. It’s one thing to try and help a person see the effects of their behavior, it’s another to manipulate them into doing what you want. I never could control my mother’s drinking, or my father’s smoking. I never tried to control it. I figured out from early on that it wasn’t anything I was or wasn’t doing that made them drink or smoke. I can’t control my ex-wife’s burst of anger and vengeance. I can’t control their behavior; I can have moderation in my response to it though.

All that being said, there are times when moderation must be discarded and extremes must happen. Sadly there are simply times when the extreme is necessary to bring things back into balance and back to moderation in the bigger picture. War might be an example of this. Though I do not condone war, I do believe there are times when it is necessary. It may be that getting drunk is necessary and is in fact the moderate response. Moderation is the overall theme of life, but there are those rare occasions when moderation must be put aside. Moderation is the key to living a balanced life, and a balanced life is a good life.

124 Knots

"In this knot I bind the love of two doves"...and so I spoke
124 times in all as that is how many knots it took to make the cord used in my friends' handfasting. My friends have been through a lot, especially in the last year and a half. At one point the end of their marriage seemed assured. I won't go into details about it, as it isn't really my story to tell. I will say that I believe magick was involved in both the seduction and awakening of the couple. In the end they have come through together, whole and stronger for the experience. Both learned and grew more then they ever thought possible. Being asked to craft the cord with which they would use to renew their vows was one of the greatest honors of my life. You can see it in the picture here. I hope its magick serves them well, but to be honest, I doubt they'll need it. They have made all the magic they will ever need.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer solstice 2011

Wow what a difference! I participated in two summer solstice rituals this year. First I played a bardic role in a solstice ritual put on by Kern County Pagan Circle. This is an eclectic meet up of all kinds of pagans, and we put on public rituals for the eight High days. This one was put together by an eclectic wiccan. She and another male member of the group did a pretty good job. I would say the ritual was attended by about thirteen people. The ritual took place on a Saturday at 1:00pm, when the sun was at its zenith. I got to do a lot of drumming for the ritual. The ritual centered around the age old battle between the Holy king and Oak king. We had very nice masks and they dressed up in costumes, and used metal swords with blunt edges with which to fight. Good props make good theater and good theater makes good ritual. The gathered people seemed to really enjoy the fight and story that went with it. I am pretty sure we’ll see these two again at the winter solstice.

The second ritual was an ADF druid only ritual using the COoR. This took place Thursday the 23rd. I had wanted to do it on the 21st but because of work getting in the way, it had to be pushed back. There were only three of us at this ritual, and I performed 90% of it. The energy was so different from the larger group ritual I was part of. I can think of a number of reasons for this. First off is just the number of people in attendance makes a difference. The next major difference for me was that I didn’t feel as mentally prepared for this ritual as I have for others in the past. I have been so busy lately with the mundane world. I must be honest with myself here, I also didn’t put as much pre-work into the ritual as I usually do. I knew there would only be me and two others. I also felt that I had memorized the COoR well enough and that I knew my wording well enough that I wouldn’t need as much. I am wishing now that I had perhaps put a bit more pre-ritual preparation together.

The part that felt the “choppiest” to me was the asking for the blessings into the cup. The words did not flow easily and inspiration left me. I didn’t feel tongue tied so much as numb. Like I could still talk, but it was not with a honeyed tongue. So this is a section I still need to polish.
Most of the ritual went very smoothly, and it was nice to see one of my fellow druids, a new comer to ADF, willing and able to step up and take part in the ritual.

The ritual was very basic COoR. This was so we can all get used to it and practice. Lugh was invited to the grove by name besides the holy kindred in general. At the point to give offerings, we all had some-thing to give and called to different deities. I don’t know if the others were my fellow’s patrons, but I know mine was. I gave a sprig of rosemary that I grew in my garden. An omen was then taken with Ogham fews and I felt the offerings had been accepted. The blessing was the invoked into the cup and passed between us. There was no singing, or drumming. Just simple ritual. Sometimes simple is the best way to be.

After the blessing I had a bit of magic to invoke. Dear friends of mine had decided to renew thier vows of 20 years in a handfasting, and asked me to craft the cord with which the fasting would be done. I made the cord with 124 knots; a charm spoken over each one. With the blessing of kindreds flowing through me I called upon the couples ancestors, I called upon the nature spirits, and Angus Mac Og to lay their blessings upon the cord. I held it upto the open gate. When I felt the time was right I lowered it to me and summoned up the two powers and let them flow through me and into the cord; thus hoping to seal in the energy and the blessings.

I felt a little awkward with people around watching. I usually do such magics solo, but I felt it was good for the other two to see a bit of magic being done, and I felt safe enough with them there.

So it goes another turn of the wheel, another summer solstice done.
May your fires burn brightly, may your waters run deep.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sit back and watch her flail

So it's been a couple months since my ex has done anything to try and "get to me". which means it should come as no surprise that she drop the shoe today. I have been in negotiation with her to have my kids stay with me for a couple weeks. When all is lined up, she decides to tell me that she refuses to send any clothes with them, and that I'll have to provide clothes myself. In the past, I am sure this tactic would have upset me emotionally. Today, after years of learning, and many hours of druidic mental training it doesn't. In fact I have no reaction to it all except for a mild "bemusement". After all this time she still flails in her anger and rage to try and lash out at me in passive aggressive ways.

It's sad really. I see her filled with such venom and anger and hate and poison. She doesn't even see it. She thinks she's better then most everyone else. She doesn't understand that she's filled with hate and anger. Thus, she'll never get better. She'll always push people away, live in loneliness and darkness and void of love and friendship. Yes very sad. Perhaps some day she'll wake up and see the nothingness, but I am not holding my breath.

I am writing about all this not to "bag" on the ex, but to point out to my dear readers that I believe my daily meditations, and spiritual work and awakenings I have had upon the druid path that have gotten me to the point where the ex's antics no longer effect me on an emotional level. At least not today. This is no more then a last minuet logistics problem to solve. The solution has come in waves of love and giving from my pagan "Framily". A simple post on good old FaceBook and those that have extra clothes or hand me downs are offering their aid. I suspect we'll have more then we need.

So, reader, if your struggling with a person or an issue, I will tell you, keep up the path. Do the daily meditations and devotionals. Learn to spirit-walk, and in time you will see your way clear of the emotional upheavals. You will see the "big Picture" and the small stuff won't throw you. Let go of your anger and hurt, and let the love of the gods, spirits, and mighty dead come flooding in. Then you can sit back and watch 'em flail.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meditation journal #12

Nothing major to report. I have been doing my daily devotions and two power meditations with regularity. The words flow, as does the water and fire. It continues to be an important part of my day, and helps me feel empowered and balanced. Really what more can a person ask for? I haven't done any major magical workings for a while now. I am planning one for this Thursday. A druid only solstice ritual, and as part of that I will be doing a magickal working on a cord I made for a friends handfasting. I mention this because it is during magical workings that I make use of the two powers. The daily meditations help me learn to store it in the three cauldrons and channel it for use during magick. I will see if I get the sense that I have more control and amounts of the two powers to use in the working.

Monday, June 20, 2011


“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”

W. Clement Stone

Upon my desk is plaque that reads “There is no substitute for integrity. It will guide every journey to high places.” It was a gift from a couple for my birthday last year. They are no longer a couple however, it would seem one of them was not able to fully understand the message. Their behavior has seriously damaged their reputation in the pagan community and drastically altered how people behave toward them. They are no longer perceived as having integrity. Integrity is the most important of the virtues as a social function. It seems to me that people are often willing to forgive a lack or temporary lack of any of the other virtues. Not integrity though. One “slip” of integrity and you may be marked for years as not being honorable or trustworthy. People will shun the person perceived as lacking. I have seen it happen time and again.

ADF defines Integrity as "Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence." I find this to be an excellent definition. Integrity is Honor. There is a concept our culture has lost sight of in so many ways. Integrity is more than just keeping your word to others though. It is perhaps more importantly keeping trust with one’s self. Keeping oath’s not for outward appearances but for our self’s well being. Integrity is a key stone to true self-confidence. It forms a foundation upon which self-confidence can rest comfortably. Without that foundation then one’s self-confidence can be easily toppled and crushed. What the Chinese would call a “paper tiger”. It looks fierce but has no real substance. This country is full of them.

I find my integrity challenged almost daily; especially at my job. I work in a convalescent hospital, most of the patients are elderly with various stages of dementia. Sadly because we are asked to take care of so many patients we are sometimes forced to cut corners to keep on schedule. Little things, like not brushing their teeth before bed, or that they don’t get the option to shower ever day, but only once every three days; that they are being crammed three to a room that was designed to only hold two. We CNAs do the very best care we can, but it’s a constant balancing act between what we want and need to do vs. the amount of time we have before we have to go off shift. I find this a constant struggle as it is often tempting to cut more and more corners to save time, to make the job easier. We are often alone in the room with the patient, who would know? I would know, and doing the job knowing I didn’t do my best would undermine my self-confidence and self esteem. It would leave me feeling sick in my stomach.

As I was thinking about integrity, and wondering if I had it, I reached in my wallet and pulled out the money a friend gave me for the Druidpaloza camp out. It occurred to me that he never even blinked an eye at giving me the money. He trusted me completely knowing that I would do the right thing with the money. In that moment I realized that I did have integrity, and at least the people who trusted me with their money think so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer solstice:the hight of power

A summer! How I love the warmth; the constant sunny days. How I love the tick-tick-tick sound of the sprinklers in the evening, and the lazy drone of bee's. Granted the summers here can get pretty darn hot, I still love it.

Soon it will be the Summer Solstice, and with it a ritual that celebrates the sun at the height of it's power and also the loss of that power. Though we celebrate the longest day of the year, from that point on the nights grow longer.

The Welsh have the tradition of the twin brothers, the oak king and the holly king, who do battle at each of the solstices. At the summer solstice the Holly king challenges the Oak king and wins. At the winter solstice the oak king will challenge the holly king and the cycle continues. Desert sage protogrove will be sharing the summer solstice with the local eclectic pagan group. As part of our ritual we shall have a mock battle between the oak king and holly king. With this comes several lessons. First that the act of attaining the height of power also plants the seed for its demise or decline. All things have their natural waxing and waining. We should keep in mind if a spiritual being as powerful as the sun can't maintain the height of his power, how then can we expect ourselves to always be at the height of power? How can we expect nations or governments? The virtuous recognize this, and realize that to fight it is painful, costly, and ultimately futile. The virtuous also realize that which declines will also one day rise up again.

The solstices also teach us that there is a need for balance in nature and in our lives. The summer is a time of great activity. Whether we are living in the city or on the farm, we find our lives busy doing doing doing! This is as it should be. But come winter it will be time to rest. A time for stillness. So many people don't pace their lives this way however. They are busy in the summer, and just as busy in the winter. This is one of the great ways that we modern humans are so out of touch with natural rhythms of life.

I will step into ritual. I shall hail the sun and drink the mead, I shall pound my drum and watch the ritual battle that we all know can end in only one way. I shall smile and dance and rejoice; all the while I will remember the wheel of the year is turning, and the harvest is fast approaching.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”
Jonathan Swift

Vision is one of the nine ADF virtues. It is defined as “The ability to broaden one's perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present, and future.” I think that not many people would consider vision to be a virtue. I know I never certainly considered it one, even though I have it. The more I think about it though; I see what a blessing it is. Perhaps since it has always come easily to me that I have taken it for granted. It is especially important that ADF, as a relatively new religious organization, cultivate vision in its leaders so that we will have a direction in which to strive, a goal. No matter how much courage, perseverance ect. A person or group has, without vision they will not know where they are going or why. They will end up going in circles. With vision however, so much can be accomplished. It was vision that built the United States as a democratic state. It was vision that built the dolman and Stonehenge.

Vision isn’t just about seeing potential external things. It is also about seeing within oneself. To broaden one’s perspective about themselves is a very powerful thing. I was a massage therapist for so long; it was how I identified myself. When I had to close up my business and I lost that identity necessity forced me to broaden my view of myself. It was not an easy process, but in the end I have come to see that I am so much more then what I do for a living. Vision of ourselves is also about knowing our past, understanding our present, and creating our future. The choices we made in the past put us where we are now. Without vision we will not understand that simple truth, without vision we will not be able to take charge of our lives and make the decisions that will lead us to make our vision a reality. Vision is a virtue. It is vision that leads people to greatness. Whether that’s building a beautiful neo-pagan temple or getting clean and sober.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Desert sage protogrove: the beggining

Myself and two other men in the area have decided to form an ADF protogrove. We have met together twice now, and we have decided to go with an Irish celt pantheon and hearth culture, and the name will be Desert Sage Protogrove. After much discussion and thought, we feel that this plant is the best Representative for the Ecology in which we live and practice our Druidry. The word sage also speaks to us of a person who is wise and kind, some thing the three of us are striving to become. Currently we are planning to do a summer solstice ritual for just the three of us, and a trip to San Diago with coast oak grove at the end of July.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reaching the Mountain

Years ago, when I was a boy on the thresh hold of man hood, I stood in a line of other men and woman, sweat dripping down my face, praying it wouldn't go into my eyes as wiping away the sting was NOT an option. My Dobahk clung to me soaked through with sweat and a little blood. My legs shaked with exhaustion, I felt nausea creeping up on me, though I hadn't eaten since early that morning. None of this really bothered me. Though I was facing ahead my attention was on the master who came down the line handing out the black belts we had just earned. He took his time, pleasantly smiling and congratulating those who passed. When it was my turn I'll never forget the words he said to me. After six years of hard work. Six years of sacrifice I was finally going to get my black belt. I felt on top of the world, and what did the master say to me? Why, he looked at me and said, "You have now made it to the base of the mountain, it's time to start to climb."

After the failure of my massage practice, I went back to school with the goal of getting into the nursing program. It has taken me two years, and I have had to over come so many obstacles. Money issues, angry and vengeful ex-wife, poor advice from counselors, not to mention the usual classes, and finally getting a full ride scholarship into the nursing program from a local hospital. Today was the last obstacle, I took and passed the entrance exam. It is official, I am in the nursing program. Once again, after years of struggle, I find myself at the foot of the mountain. I didn't get here alone. It has taken the support of my b'loved water witch, and more friends then I can name. I have a hard climb ahead of me, but I know with the help of my family, the kindreds and patrons, I will, in another two years be once again on top of the mountain and from the top I shall shout my victory cry! In the names' of Bridgit and Lugh, Let the climb begin!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


“Piety is not a goal but a means to attain through the purest peace of mind the highest culture.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Asking around I have quickly come to realize that people have widely different ideas of what piety is or means. I also have discovered that within my local neo-pagan community the word piety has strong negative connotations. The word seems to be closely tied to Christianity in some way, and this I believe is the root of the bias. For a Neo-pagan a pious Christian is one to be disdained. This reaction caught me off guard as I never had the association. It seems to me that people are beginning to confuse piety with fanatical.

In ADF piety is defined as "Correct observance of ritual and social traditions, the maintenance of the agreements (both personal and societal) we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty." What’s interesting about this definition is that it makes no comment about belief. What this is saying is that piety is not about what one believes but about meeting our ritual obligations. This harkens back to the idea that ADF is Orthopraxic and not Orthodoxic. Thus trying to define piety by what a person believes wouldn’t work in ADF. Despite this, I believe there is a likely intersection between belief, piety and piety as a virtue.

If being pious is about observing ritual and social traditions and the like, at what point do I take on the virtue or the label of “being pious”? Do I posses the virtue of piety after doing my first high day ritual? How about after eight of them? After three or nine years worth? At what point does one say “yes, I have the virtue of Piety.” What does it take for other neo-pagans to look at another neo-pagan and say “they are very pious.”? I don’t think there is a set answer to these questions, but I do believe that just doing one high day doesn’t make one pious. Piety comes with time. It take’s consistent practice of the high days of at least a few years. This is where belief fits in. Most people cannot, nor will not consistently meet the definition of Piety for years without belief to motivate them. Is it possible? Yes, but not very damn likely. Celebrating the high days takes time, energy, and resources. Only discipline motivated by belief will cause people the kind of consistency in the “correct observance of ritual” that is needed to attain the virtue of piety.

Is piety a virtue? I have turned this question over in my mind seeking an answer. After much thought and discussion with others, simply stated, yes it is a virtue. Piety however, is a virtue that relies upon many of the other nine virtues to maintain its virtuosity. Throughout history, there are many examples of piety “gone bad”: human sacrifice, slavery, subjugation of woman, the Crusades and Jihads, the inquisition, the naming of “heretics”, and self mutilation are just a few examples. Piety needs to be tempered with the virtues of wisdom, integrity, and moderation. Wisdom is important to know if what is needed to keep the oaths to the kindred is right. Integrity to show us the truth of whether or not our piety is virtuous or if it has “gone bad”. Perhaps most important to keeping Piety a virtue is moderation. Without it we can find our piousness taken to dangerous, maybe even deadly, extremes. Despite the dangers and all the examples of piety gone bad, I cannot help but to think of the person whose piety is moderated by the other virtues a very good trait to have and a person I would respect deeply.

Friday, June 3, 2011


In ADF Wisdom is defined as "Good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response."
I like this definition. Wisdom and knowledge are not one in the same, though knowledge can be an aid to the virtue of wisdom. defines wisdom as “1.
The quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

Though both these definitions say it in different ways, they are saying the same thing. I feel these are both excellent definitions.

Wisdom is different than the kind of knowledge one can learn from a book. Wisdom takes in all the knowledge a person has and then ties all of that in with things we don’t even realize our brain registers: time of year, temperature, facial expressions; the list is endless. It all blends together as something we might call intuition. Then from that we come out with wisdom. Not everyone has it, some people seem to come by it naturally and others never seem to acquire it. My sister and I are good examples of what I mean. My sister is seven years old then myself. Growing up she made a lot of bad choices and thus made living at home rough at times. The fights between her and our parents were daily; at times waking me up from a sound sleep in the middle of the night. She often got caught, shop lifting, smoking, drinking, parties, sneaking out. The list goes on I am sure, yet despite getting caught she often repeated the behavior. Even back then I just couldn’t understand why she would make such unwise decisions. The correct course of action seemed so obvious to me. When I got to be a teenager, I never had problems with my parents. I never snuck out, drank, and smoked, ect. Why? It just didn’t make sense to do so. Not just because it was against the rules, but because these things are obviously unhealthy, or not wise things to do.

Even as an adult I find myself shaking my head at the antics of people around me and the amazing lack of wisdom they seem to have. The blindness of people doesn’t shock me as it once did, but it never seems to end, and thus I see the need for people of wisdom in the world.

I am lucky to call a very wise man a friend. Bill has spent many years not only studying wisdom texts but he lives them. Describing his wisdom is almost impossible.

He is the still pool deep in the forest
He is the ancient stone out cropping
He is the laughter of the cunning child
He is the way of cool
He is the watchful father of the child
He is the echo of one’s own wisdom
He is the sheltering oak in the back yard

I hope that someday I will be like him. I am not saying that I am without wisdom. I have often been told that I am, and I believe it to be true. However wisdom is like a tree, and it grows within us assuming we nurture it, as we have life experiences. Compared to Bill’s my tree is still young.

Wisdom is an excellent virtue. If everyone worked to nurture this virtue, to cultivate wisdom in their minds, then the world would be a much better place to live in my opinion. Perhaps that is one of the core problems in our modern American lives; we no longer value wisdom as a virtue like our ancestors did. If there was more wisdom in the world, perhaps then there would be less anger, resentment, aggression, and all the societal woes that follow.