Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice - Dark and Snowy

Where to begin? Before the first shoveling or all the way back to the ice storm?

Fire in the snow.

Hudson made the first tunnel to the fire circle which had been sort of protected by a sun umbrella from the full blast of the snow. The fire pit was like the Nematon because it was a well inside a mound of snow. Bryan carved the mound and dug a passage to the center.

[First it seemed that, despite the snow, many folk might show up and then, in the end, it was just us Perrins. We missed you but it felt good, simple, and somehow seasonal having a family ritual - a single cup for the waters, our only timeline: the sun.]

Think about the cold and the snow and the darkness. The blue quietude of dusk. Stretching to the North, listening to the stream, singing to the stars.

We are here to honor the gods.

Feel yourself on this earth not yet fully frozen, still, in parts, malleable. Wine on the earth mother like blood, spiced tea on the earth mother like mud. Center and smile.

Breathe in like you are sucking a peppermint, feel the cold filling your lungs, feel the coolness as you exhale, feel the roof of your mouth. Feel a small star shining just above your head, breath in and feel the light from that star coming down into you and breathe out and feel the warmth from deep in the Earth rising up. Feel these energies mixing in your belly.

Our well of ice, like a scrying crystal- the hot cider pooling across the surface in these transdimensional cloud shapes. Our tree- the old Yule tree that still hasn’t burnt through lo these many fires and our fire a mere flame- a cauldron of burning bark and dried herbs and a candle for light. Manannan, opens the gates and the fire is alive, we stand straighter as the tree grows within us and the well is dark and light at the same time.

The flame, almost a memory for the ancestors sacrifice, catches the sage for the spirits of nature and there was some far off howling at the same time- what’s up with that? And then just as suddenly the bowl of fire appears to go out and the only flame is the candle, perhaps like your candle at home. It was not much past 5 o’clock.

Trying to light dried sunflower heads- almost putting out the candle, a sudden flame a bunch of sparks in the snow, the burning flower dropping and staying alight in the snow- what’s up with that? A bunch of dried lemon balm for the Gods and Goddesses flaring up and then all the flame and the candle suddenly smothered and then there was only the dark brightened by the snow.
But the center cauldron still had a glow of embers and Bryan blew the embers to spark. Showers of sparks, fountains of smoke, orange like a volcano. His breath alone wasn’t enough. Hudson called us to blow altogether on the fire. Our combined breath, became one -the smoke billowed - one more breath and then the flame came back full and bright. Big fire in a small bowl. Our collective breath as the final sacrifice for the season.
I had to howl.

I am now thinking about that birthing that final moment before the sunrise before the turning of the year.
The time of the mothers.
Interesting to think of that the deep darkness of gestation that is winter and all around us is this deep white of quiet that is winter and all around us.

Our omens shaken out from the turtle shell in darkness, Bryan using his breath to give flame to the embers long enough to read each one.
From the Ancestors: Raido- communication, the circuit that makes the connection that makes things go.
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Ehwaz – horse or the partnership between horse and rider, the working together
From the Gods & Goddesses: Birkana- birch or birth or new beginnings
For the Season: Fehu – fee (or falalalalalala or fee fi fo fum or ho ho ho), what things cost, or just plain money.

Our fire was exhausted and I relit our candle from the one inside the house, lit in silence and brought to all the dark corners of our home (as you did in yours), and now which illuminated our otherwise unlit house. I walked with gratitude back outside and found that with the candle I couldn’t see, so bright was its flame. I had to hold it away from me to light my way.

And the waters were blessed and extra cold and we each drank thrice and the Earth Mother had some as well.

Feeling the blessings, rekindling the fire, burning the flowers and seeds of this past year, breathing in and blowing out.

As special thanks to Manannan, Hudson offered a roller skating gingerbread man for always opening and closing the gates for us and being there for us – protector, guide, gate keeper, god, companion, friend.

And thanks to the Gods and Goddesses, the spirits and honored dead and the spirits of this season- fat jolly elves, reindeer and sprites. The mothers, the dark and the light. Bridget, and our Earth Mother.

Breathe in the cold, go inside and get warm.

And then also (when I had gone to rekindle our flame) Bryan had pulled Ogham (Celtic Tree Alphabet) sticks as oracle. Those omens also so very appropriate-
From the Ancestors: Hazel or wisdom
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: the Elder or Regeneration
From the Gods & Goddesses: the Grove
For the Season: the Sea or the tides coming and going, which is Manannan

Glad Tidings!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Full Moon, Samhain Memories and the Sun Rising

The other night I walked outside and the glow from the moon behind the clouds was stark white, whiter than white, white as ice. This weather of bitter cold, alternating with warm rain and then winds and then the freezing sleet that took down many power lines is maybe a last trick of the season as we head into deep winter.
Our Samhain gathering was beautiful and cold. Bryan had created a huge pyre at the 5 circle fire and surrounded it with the last apples from our trees. As I look at the pictures now I am struck by the vibrant color- the yellows and oranges, a bit of green and many shades of brown or brown/orange. I am moved by the dance of the dead limbs and leaves. Now there is grey and brown/grey and no leaves at all.

We ringed the big circle with candles, there were candles in the 3 parts of the Nematon, Bryan carved amazing pumpkins for sacrifice, and I gathered things that would burn -leftovers from the garden, fully harvested by this holiday’s end.

The moon was a sliver. We’d of course been leaving out dumb suppers for days. The spirits were about. And the cold and wind were so deep; we decided to do ritual at the small fire circle-we struggled to make a fire in the pit near the house, and Elizabeth showed up and brought the fire to life. We toasted our new (Our Whole) Protogrove and us as a group and toasted ourselves and the year.

Aunt Lisa came and Susan called and we just stayed warm and ate Elizabeth’s food and waited until dark. And then Gwen and Susan arrived and we got it together and bundled up and started.

I remember we talked a lot before the holiday of the exhalation and our meditations reflected this- the sigh, the cackle, the wind.

We didn’t offer votes, just truth, and flame and sacrifice and prayers.

And gratitude as the flames leapt from and through and around the pumpkin. Consuming our harvest, ending the year, clearing the way for the empty dark- this time of going within, renewal and preparation.

Our Omens for the season were:
From the Ancestors: Oss/Ansuz or Voice-
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Perth or the Chance, the Lottery Cup the dice cup
From the Gods & Goddesses: Mannuz- the self
For the Season: Sowilo or the Sun

So there you have it. Was it all true?
I know I have needed to breathe and especially exhale these last weeks. Sometimes it seems hard to catch my breath, not like I am out of breath but that there has been so much to breathe in.

A blanket of white covers everything. It is cold. Suddenly complete winter. But the light soon returns.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

where has the time gone

with the snow on the ground now it looks like winter. I can hardly remember Samhain now, so greatly am I anticipating the coming of Yule.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Samhain ritual & potluck

As a reminder, we are celebrating Samhain next Sunday 11/2/8 at just dark.
Gathering after 4:30 -Ritual around 6 - Potluck dinner after that.
Don't forget to breathe, bring something you've let go of.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Offically ADF- Protogrove Staus- Woohoo

the leaves are falling in droves and we've had 2 nights of frost. I know it's cold but seeing the sun in a million crystals on the trees and grass sure is pretty.
Samhain aproaches with it's usual upheavals forcing summer to end and the winter to hold fast.

But on this day, October 24 2008, Our Whole Protogrove is born

or founded or recognized.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn Equinox was this pivotal point of balance.

Juggling schedules, opportunities and events, we came together. Earlier than originally planned and then a bit later, accommodating all that we had to do and remember. This harvest time of plenty. Concord grapes, berries and tomatoes and the many roots- golden and burgundy beets and pale turnips and orange carrots of all sizes (even the miniscule).
Beautiful weather and friends. Uncle Magoo came up from NC with newly carved runes, Lovisa and Tolin came with pizza and juice (kid food deluxe), Aunt Lisa came from Woodstock with lentil soup and of course Elizabeth, radiant in her smoke-free body, came with the ever present chicken! Thanks everyone for adjusting to my sudden need to rebalance our timing.
I had been thinking a lot about renewal, rejoicing, rebounding, recording, reviving – all the “re” words as we were approaching a mercury retrograde at this time and the usual need to revamp and revisit our choices. With that in mind, we kept our offerings simple, our fire small and ourselves relaxed.
After feeding the kids and putting our food to warm in the oven we gently and silently processed to the central fire, the bird flying and swooping overhead, and found our places on the earth around the circle. The sun shining made everything feel like summer again if only for a brief moment.
Us and the bird and the Kindreds bathed in the brilliant light of a blazing autumn afternoon and ethereal fire. Leaves beginning to change, us beginning to change, realizing the coming end of summer and acknowledging with deep gratitude the bounty of our harvest. Our silent-ish offerings, always appropriate and rarely, it seems, like what we plan. The children pulled Magoo’s new runes for divination which phonetically spelled his last name. The bird coming through again for the final sacrifice- our bean pods, our corn husks, our dried grasses. Offering all the flowers, all the tomatoes, all the libations, all our prayers and thanks.

Our runes were as follows:
From the Ancestors: Berkana- Birch or beginnings, birth
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Odul or Othila- sacred enclosure
From the Gods & Godesses: Manuz- self
For the Season: Nauthiz – need

So it felt like we never wanted to leave the circle or like we were enveloped in this glow of the end of summer and we did not need to move on. The infinite point that is balance.
I don’t remember recessing back to the deck, though I remember our feasting.

And now it is 2 weeks until Samhain. Already many leaves are down- we walk ankle deep across the lawn crunching them in the brisk air. Each day there is noticeably less daylight. We clear out the garden and make the last of the sauces, pile pumpkins, dig out roots, harvest seeds, and dream of next year’s sowing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

becoming real or what's in a name or the spiritual art of paperwork

While the belated autumn equinox entry brews, I thought I would put out that we have submitted our ADF paperwork registration and have started the process to become an officially recognized (proto)Grove. What does that mean? Well, many things- mainly organizational. As Bryan is already a fully ordained Priest, we don't have to jump through that hoop (though others would now be able to join us and then persue the dedicant path if they so choose.) But now we will get to be listed on lists, and Bryan (as clergy) will have a home grove, and we will be able to go out into the world as a group with a name and who know where that leads one.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Druid Harvest Celebration

Devotion to the Earth is a natural practice born of common wisdom. Harvest festivals are in the tradition of coming together and sharing our bounty at the end of the growing season. Druid Priest Bryan Perrin marks this balance of day and night with an experiential workshop, “The Autumnal Equinox: Reaping the Harvest” at Mirabai of Woodstock on Sunday 9/21 from 2-4pm.
Perrin’s lecture focuses on the concepts of reward, nourishment, the Celtic Wheel of the Year, and the process of change and exchange that is life. He will then lead a ritual honoring the Earth Mother as provider in a modern interpretation of the Ancient agricultural custom of bringing the harvest home. With gratitude we seek the aid of our kindred spirits- Ancestors, Spirits of Nature and Place, Gods and Goddesses- to secure our fair share. Traditional ritual format involves opening of the Gates between the Worlds, offerings to the Kindreds, and the blessing and sharing of the waters of life.
Bryan Perrin has been a practicing Neopagan Druid for over 20 years. In 2002 he was made fully Ordained Druid Clergy of Ár nDraíocht Féin, an international Druid organization. He is the leader of Our Whole ProtoGroup, a family friendly collective celebrating the holidays in the Hudson Valley. An artist and teacher, Perrin crafts Pagan Products such as Idolatry, ritual vestments and ceremonial accoutrements. He designs and creates sacred landscapes for gardens, ritual space for homes and seasonal altars for spirits.
To register for this workshop, contact Mirabai at 679-2100 or go to their website at or for more information please send an email to .

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lughnasa 08

What an amazing ritual we had.

Once again we were just our core- Elizabeth, Bryan, Hudson and me.

Bryan had been building the fire-to-be for weeks; like a beaver’s mound it grew and we’d been placing offerings there all season - apples downed from our tree in a storm, dried pea pods from the garden, last year’s black eyed Susans from the mantle, sweetgrass and other herbs harvested.
All day Bryan told and retold the stories of Lugh and the Fumorians and the Dagda and the Fir Bolg and the interrelations of these peoples and their battles and who was kin to whom and their magical arts and feats and honors. And we fed the Lugh and Crom Dubh idols beer and tomatoes and tried to take pics but the camera wouldn’t focus (for this day only!) which led me to think that they were glad for the beer but didn’t want to be seen drinking it – Bryan wanted to catch their change of expression as they consumed the brew, but they just smiled and temporarily broke the camera.

Elizabeth came all purple in a newly made dress carrying a basket with flowers (of course) and stuffed “8-ball” zucchinis and incredible blueberry Lughnasa mead. We shared yummy local cantaloupe-orange and sweet-and some of Bryan (and Hudson’s) homemade Mr. Beer beer and got down to a real (proto)grove meeting - discussing first and foremost what’s in a name and what is the reason for forming officially and how to stay true within that framework. And we got a calendar down for the rest of the year – so mark yours now – Vernal Equinox ritual : Saturday Sept. 20th, Samhain ritual: Sunday Nov. 2nd, and Yule ritual: Sat. Dec. 20th (we like the inadvertent symmetry of the holidays).

With our fine summer feast on the table, Bryan rushed to the field to take down the Maypole before we ate. I made offerings into the hole while Bryan and Elizabeth marched our huge pole to the stone wall to rest for another year.
Then we filled our bellies and shared again with Lugh and Crom Dubh and readied for ritual before dusk set in. I gathered some of all of my flowers from the garden, marveling at the variety and bounty that we have this year. We bundled up and dressed up, Hudson got a pillow, the rest of us gathered our offerings and we processed silently to the large 5 circle fire pit, in the middle of what was so recently the daisy field surrounded by the stream, our vegetable garden, Bryan’s sacred tree circle and the sounds of summer’s evening.
We settled down, finding our space, locating the directions and our center and listening. Meditating on the silence: on the sounds of the bugs, the stream, a cold and sleepy boy, our feet on the earth.
We sat on the earth as Bryan made offerings to the gates and Mananan, outsiders and insiders, special Kindreds and the season. But mainly it was the fire.
We knew it would be big, but as always there is the hesitation of will the fire catch, will it burn at all, and will it be safe- this one was all of that and more. On the second try it lit and the smoke curled upward toward the barely darkening sky and then I can’t remember much but the giant cylinder of flame roaring up and full. We were no longer cold. There was a large and silent respect for that fire, for the giant flame- receptacle of our sacrifices. Bryan made simple offerings of mead and everything was gentle in the light of that great flame. And although the fire roared it did not seem dangerous, just full and full of spirit and light.

We each offered our
Silent prayers and sacrifice-
A peaceful release.

Echoed by the sound-
Waves of the Tibetan chime.
Everything flowed well.

Our omens for the season:
From the Ancestors - Thuriz – thorn or the hammer meaning protection or defense - either the ancestors protecting or defending us or us guarding on behalf of them, (protecting ancestral ways came to Bryan)
From the Spirits of Nature and Place – Odul or Othalla- a sacred enclosure or a protected keep
From the Gods & Goddesses –Ingwaz – a growing seed, expansive – fertility
For the Season – Jera, a year’s cycle/harvest

Bryan says the first 2 runes relate to each other and have this idea of protection and specialness while the last 2 runes imply repeated, never ending cycles. The first 2 runes are like the inside of the wheel or circle and the last two are like its movement.
[Especially after our grove meeting, Bryan understood these omens to also particularly pertain to our grove: protecting the old ways and Nature is what we hold precious.]

With that very clear, the fire strong and the sky a deep brilliant blue Bryan hallowed the waters which were in a rounded blue glass bottle. He held the waters over the fire; I could see the firelight thru and in the glass and see the blue sky thru the water. The color of the skylight was reflected in the bottle’s translucence. It was pretty incredible. And felt very special. And tasted good. Truly the waters of life.
With Bryan giving the last of our offerings and Hudson ringing the chime, we once again thanked to our Kindreds and we closed the ritual much quieter and fuller and renewed.

We processed home and, forgoing dessert, went back to sit near the embers of the fire, looking at the first stars and relfecting together.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

the Whole thing

We are a family friendly collective honoring the kindred spirits in a neopagan Druid tradition. Affiliated with Ár nDraíocht Féin (, an international Druid organization, we celebrate the four Celtic holidays and the Solstices and the Equinoxes. These make up the 8 holidays of the cycles of the Earth, and we are deeply grateful for the ability to gather and offer thanks. We promote the study and the arts of blessing. Located in the mountains of the Hudson Valley of New York and inspired by the incredible beauty here, we remember to honor and seek balance with nature. We are artists and gardeners, healers and mystics, seers, poets and fools pursuing a healthy, prosperous and peaceful life. We have gathered for many years now, our group expanding and contracting like the seasons.