Monday, December 14, 2009
2 weeks after: The sun was out today- rising flaming red close to due south. The peach tree still holds her leaves and the willow is reluctantly turning yellow. The land was full of turkeys today – more than 2 dozen, perhaps attracted by Elizabeth’s acorns. A warm day is now in the 40’s° and morning frost is a given. There is still kale but the garden has been put to bed and it is dark by 5.
We journeyed through from the house fire pit -spirits and shooting star; to the altar for the season in the trunk of the hollow tree; to the red candle burning like a heart deep in the center of the field in the hole; to the Mananan altar with 3 lights like the circling legs; all the way across the land past the garden to Brigit, shrouded in dark lit by a stream of lights; and onto the 5-circle fire pit in our center.
We gathered and separated to regroup, find our offerings, get warm, get light and begin again.
We were centering, trying to bring the fire to life, stepping all over each other, pushing back and making space. Bryan opened the gates and speaks to the outsiders. Our friend Anna and her son arrive- black figures through the smoke back lit by the motion activated light- like shadows appearing, strangely glowing – her smile beaming as they drew near the fire, the smoke of their breath mixing with that of our fire.
As always the glow and the smoke. All the offerings, had we gathered them- was it a dream- did we actually have anything to offer? The dried grasses fed already for warmth and brightness, but we had flowers, what I know now were the last of the flowers. Our dead, our dear dead, so many again this year. Long breath, a sigh, waiting for the New Year to begin. Spiraling into the smoke, almost hard to breathe, tears of smoke pouring out of my eyes; it was like passing into other realms. Bryan changes everything as he takes out a crystal ball for scrying and the world of that shimmered and came alive and disappeared and was huge and small at the same time. Getting lost in spheres and smoke and flames and prayers.
Our omens for the season-
For the ancestors: Ehwaz- the horse, how we travel -the partnership between horse and rider
From the Spirits: Jera or year or harvest or the cycle of a year
From the Gods & Goddesses: Daguz- day or vantage point
For the Season: Thurisaz- Thorn
We have gotten many of these omen before, we need to pay attention.
I look up at all the smiling faces lit by the fire now alive with our sacrifice. So much thanks. The house lit up brightly calls us into its warmth.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
This day we were to celebrate at Elizabeth’s house, which though it means travel (a challenge especially to my home-body son), it means less cleaning and clearing. But of course getting out of the house is harder, one more bunch of flowers, one more packet of dried grasses, one more offering.
Driving down the roads of this beautiful place that we live I was struck by this particular light of September. Before the leaves become ablaze with color they have a tint, a hue of brown –yellow or orange-gold and with the angle of the equinox sun path there is a cast of light that is only in September. It is the back to school light, the new notebooks light, the light of the side yard from the memory of the month when the boy was newborn and we sat in bed and watched that autumn light – brilliant but not hot, cool but not icy. The sky is so blue and clear but deep with the knowledge of the oncoming winter. By October everything is reds and oranges and bright yellows and deep browns, and by November the color is windswept and barren and brown and grey, but now it is deep golden like the taste of an apple.
Elizabeth builds a fire and Bryan lights sweet grass from our garden and goes around the circle with the smoke clearing and creating space. I offer petals from every type of the many flowers growing in my garden to the Earth Mother, starting in the east and walking around the circle -2 whole times around before the petals are all used. It has been a good flower year.
We all settle down- feeling comfortable on our Mother, feeling her solid supporting us, letting us balance our weight comfortably on her- Elizabeth and Ted in the East, Bryan in the South, Amber in the West, me in the North and Hudson in the shade.
We feel the darkness of the earth below and the brightness of the sky above. We look up to the sky-shining blue with blinding sun streaming into us and touch the solid deepness of the dark cool earth below us rising up into us and feel these energies mix within us. Breathing in and out and feeling this hot shining sun and this cool dark earth; the fire is small but it is in the center and it is a gate. Calling upon Mannanan Mac Lier, walker of the ways between the worlds, gatekeeper; offering magic potion of syrup from a bottle corked with a branch and strands of sweet grass; and opening the gates. Though there were trees and a large pond we focused on only this one gate- this central fire.
I was struck by the silence of this ritual, only Bryan talked (except for our individual praise offerings); no one offered responses (“let the gates be open” etc.)only birds replied to all his words. This has happened at rituals here before, the birds – many different ones- talk at different times and participate.
Making offerings to the outsiders, just past Hudson in the hedgerow- boundaries defined by potion. Bryan called upon Bridget, grove matron and Goddess of eloquence: asking for our words to be true, our thoughts communicated and our voices heard. More magic syrup and the rest of the sweet grass. Elizabeth’s fire always burns.
Most Honored Dead, our teachers and families and friends- it seems there has been lots of passings lately (a reminder of the coming of Samhain)-so many people to honor- the burning of rose petals, so quickly consumed and faintly fragrant and just a bit of syrup. All these respected people- remembered because of what they have left behind, what they have shared with us, what we carry of them inside us today.
The Spirits of Nature, of this place, where we are now, this land we live on, the insects and birds, all the creatures and the rocks, the grasses and trees- sacrifice of rose petals and barely a drop of the potion falls.
Gods and Goddesses, all of them –who are yours- the eclectic pantheon of the modern age- Kaun Yin and the Celtic River Gods from Elizabeth’s bathroom wall, the Green man with his autumn face, the Moon Grandmother, Mercury, and the grey bearded old man of my grandmother’s God. Everyone appreciates rose petals.
This season of Fall, the harvest and this balance of equinox, silence and presence- lots of magic syrup suddenly pours out with the rest of the roses.
Elizabeth offers gratitude for the easing of the rain, purple asters and small pumpkin and tomatoes – especially rare in this season of scant harvest. She offers a story of her dog Grace waiting for her in the driveway, out of the fence for who knows how long, with dog tags pulled but not choked, safely escaped- and in doggie gratitude burns old dog toys. And finally a basket that has seen many harvests, many gathering of beans and more, catching circular fire and burning through holes.
I offer sage for this year of many things and a full sunflower head, not yet eaten by birds, intact with its mesmerizing helix of seeds in deep gratitude for the many flowers, and, looking forward to new seeds for next year and for next year’s harvest to come. I offer a new pink rose for the deep beauty all around us. And I place a dollar to burn in the fire in gratitude for having a roof over our heads and for the bills to once again be paid and for the balance and sustainability without fear of money in our lives.
From the Ancestors – Daguz- day, vantage point, noon
From the Spirits – Wunjo – Joy
From the Gods & Goddesses – Berkana – beginning
And for the season- Kinwaz- the torch
He also, for the first time in our ritual, pulls an Ogham (a stick from the Celtic tree oracle) and it is Oak. – well of course- it is the druid tree and a symbol of standing up straight and also associated with royalty- but let’s not forget all those acorns.
Ah, giving thanks. There was more food, bits from our whole feast to be, given in gratitude. And then a container of Elizabeth’s cyser, that seemed never ending, as thanks to all of the Kindred and seasonal gods and Bridget and Mananan and the Earth Mother. The birds sang. We processed back to the house.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
this rainy morning, a shaft
of smoke curls upward.
Making fire in the steady rain, Bryan coming in soaked, drying his shirt by the kitchen fire.
The Art of making Sacred Space, creating a devotional focus.
How constant was the rain and also the curl of smoke from the central fire, burning and waiting.
Gathering herbs for tea, I noticed that it was barely raining.
The sky lightened and clouds almost lifted.
The center fire pit had a double mown ring with bands of wild wildflowers and weeds, and at the center the 5 circle firepit with smoldering logs and embers deep below. Gates are cut though the flower bands so you can pass through the concentric rings of grass. Needed more wood, more dry combustibles. I found a stick and bark and egg cartons in the studio. Bark curls and sticks burn and egg cartons flame. Having brought out more nice dry firewood, we built a spiraling tower of logs, some hand cut and some just carried.
Drinking tea and marveling at the weather we gathered.
Elizabeth, Hudson, Bryan, me and then Susan sitting inside with cherries and cookies.
The axis of Imbolc and Lughnasa, Bridget and Lugh and the light spot in the dark and the dark spot in the light.
Lugh and his foster mother Tliatu. Lugh like Mercury, Odin like Mercury for the Romans, and Epona and the fairs and clearing the land and horses and the County Fair and taking a chance.
Pie contests and harvest festivals and fruit and rain.
Are we ready and is it time?
Is it going to rain?
Gathering the waters, the offerings, cups and corn. Gathering ourselves.
Hudson falling on the slick deck. Awkward fussiness. Who’s on first and rushing towards where?
Processing to the circle, Elizabeth playing banjo.
Finding space. Where are we supposed to be?
Feeling the earth. Energy rising from the earth through my feet, legs, hips, belly, heart, head and also from the sky down. Squatting like a frog on the earth, wiggly boy at my side, cracking ice and fidgeting.
Small offerings to the fire, our center- glow within us; the well, deep and full and strong- flow within us; and the tree, larger than it used to be- grow within us.
Outsiders offering offered and I remembered special outsiders offerings still in the fridge,
The rushing stream was louder than us all, louder than all the sacrifices, than all the words, than all the thoughts, louder than the boy being silly or disinterested, louder than us.
Offering Gratitude for just being here for being present in this place now, letting go of toxicity and of what I don’t need, letting go of the past and future and racing in between both.
Flowers in flames as our sacrifices were swallowed by the fire and by the water.
Final sacrifice of last year’s dried vervain, strait like a slender tree.
From the Ancestors: Thuriz or thorn or hammer- protection or stance of defense-either being protected by or protecting our ancestors.
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Daguz or day, High Noon, the vantage point, seeing it all and as if from a new angle.
From the Gods & Goddesses: Uruz or the primordial ox, the urge to create, the unstoppable movement forward
For the Season: Eihwaz or the horse- the relationship or partnership between horse and rider, the County Fair!
The waters of life in the green jug hallowed with only the voice and the damp air and poured into blue cups. Were we ready for these waters?
Almost sweet tasting, the waters are always needed and always good. We had full glasses and the boy did his fake gulping. Sigh.
Thanks to all, the individual silks and husks from the corn, some for each of the season’s spirits.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Not enough coffee and too much rain.
Friday, June 12, 2009
It's all about the prep- the preparing for the season – cleaning the house and bringing plants outside. Dusting, opening windows, letting prosperity in.
Waiting for it all to begin.
A real good group - follow the leader. Hudson blowing the dandelion seed head.
Bowl of dandelions to wash to our hands and leap over the dandelion ringed fire washing away the winter yuk.
Marching dance around the fire circle.
Feeling really centered on the earth.
Feeling the Earth supporting my feet and legs and hips and spine and really feeling the Earth.
The wet earth, the rain, the sound of the stream.
The well, the tree and the fire.
The invisible fire very present in the light rain The radiance of the sun.
Distractions and getting it together.
People and spirits coming into the circle: well what do you know?
Remembering to let it go, to offer gratitude for the winter, challenges, things we are not necessarily comfortable with.
The drizzle of fire- do we always have birds answer us in ritual?
I can only really remember the dampness all around and a stillness among all the activity.
Time speeding up and slowing down.
From the Ancestors: Thuruz- thorn or defensive or protective stance- be on guard.
From the Spirits of Nature and place: Odul- sacred enclosure, protective enclosure, the gates to hold it in.
From the Gods: Isa- ice- get things together, pulling it in.
For the Season: Fehu or fee, what does something cost?
Feeling rather oddly reversed- instead of it being an expanding and mixing it up Beltane omen it seemed a lot more of contracting and clarifying.
Drinking the cool refreshing waters.
Pulling it all together and feeling solid on the wet earth.
Coming bustling back and the hubbub.
Eating lots of salads and food. No dessert until after we dance the maypole.
Many children young and old-dancing and undancing the maypole.
Laughing and laughing and twisting up in knots.
Swinging and banjo playing.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
We are so alive. Breathing and standing erect, I walk on the Earth, our blessed blossoming mother.
I can feel my center, my hands and feet drawing strength from the ground.
I remembered to consciously let go when washing my hands and also with the outsiders offering. Letting it go back to the earth, releasing to compost.
First Elizabeth, then Amber, then Lisa, then Katrina, Eric & ZaraJane & the dog, then White Feather and Teresa, then all our Kindreds, then Nitya and Michael & Ivy, then Dylanna, then Nicci, David, Ari & Sophie.
The sap is still flowing and the stream is strong.
It’s hard to begin at the beginning.
The day Before- True Equinox
Balancing an egg on the kitchen hearth in the morning on the equinox, cooking and cleaning that night.
The Early Morning
Making chicken soup first thing the morning of ritual is some kind of ritual.
Planting potato eyes, feeling the sun & giving thanks for the lack of wind and listening to the birds sing. Candles in nests, tea in the pot, Bryan’s spring tonic of sap and bark and just dug roasted roots on the woodstove and offerings set up outside.
Elizabeth came with her basket of flowers and seeds and quiche. We gathered for our grove meeting and stayed in the kitchen, which Bryan is now taking as an omen of the season- the overcrowded kitchen. May we always be so blessed.
We set times for a mead/cyser workshop at autumn equinox (when all the ingredients can be harvested) & Yule (when the product has fermented) and a brew workshop the following spring equinox, a year from now. This past year has been transformative and we talked about last Vernal Equinox and how far we have come since then.
People Arrive and Bring Goodies
We started to talk about the people who were to attend ritual, many of them new to our group. Amber arrived just as I began to speak of her. She brought chocolate chip cookies- especially welcome as we had no sweet for our feast. It always works out just right.
Then (Aunt) Lisa came with sesame noodles and soup ingredients. Elizabeth went to do the fire and Bryan began his rant. Katrina & Eric & Zara Jane showed up with their sweet dog and salad and the kitchen was crowded. White Feather and Teresa came in with a HUGE jar of sap (some of which then went for our waters) and White Feather’s new book (and Teresa’s small horse carried in her arms).
How we did not all just devour those cookies right then, I do not know. The dog helped bring everyone outside where there were almost enough seats. Most of us had tea or muffins and the sun felt warming.
I got Hudson to come downstairs with a chocolate milk bribe and he listened to the rant from inside, shy from all the people.
Kids and ritual. A whole nother topic, but I have to mention the energy of the now that children always bring. They do not plan or frame like adults and are therefore very present and direct. You have to stay on point with kids and dogs for that matter. They always know where the bones are.
OK, time to get ready, bathroom break, where is the druid robe, zip up, a glass of water, Gong.
We are here to honor the Gods.
Walking on the soft earth, feeling the squish, not hard nor too soft. Green and growing Earth Mother. A line and not a line, not pushing or strolling, gentle line dance.
Lustration in the cold spring water, solarized with a rose quartz. Washing away the winter. Circling up and finding space. Bryan scattered oats around the circle as offering to the Earth Mother and we got comfortable on her, feeling her foundation.
Meditation on the Earth
Drawing the energy of the earth into our feet, feeling that energy with our hands; hearing the stream and feeling the sun streaming into the top of our heads.
Feeling our seat, our base, our bottom, the cauldron of sustenance, that which supports us & feeds us. Breathing 3 times into this cauldron, igniting the fire, seeing it glow, feeling how we have, as support, all that we need. In our center, there is the cauldron of vocation. Sun shining on my chest, warming my heart & belly- the strength and flames from the cauldron of sustenance supporting my vocation. doing what supports me and reflects my center as I breathe 3 times into this center- knowing my true work is within and expands out. And above our heads, like the sunlight is the third cauldron- the cauldron of knowledge. Breathing into this cauldron and igniting the flame of knowledge.
The dog and the chicken bones
Offerings to our Kindreds, each one being accepted with a sign: a bird song or bell chime or flash of fire.
Offering for the season, and then all our offerings. first Hudson and also Katrina, oats and then an egg, and then I burned the old and gave thanks for the new and for supportive friends that help balance and transit. Elizabeth offered flowers and Irish words for the season, this season of change and for our beautiful Earth mother, and White Feather offered all gratitude to those who have passed and gone before and also to the seven generations who will come after. The sweet and stinging smoke, the sunlight shimmering in the heat, feeling my feet on the earth, balancing my body and spirit with the slope of the land.
As final sacrifice we scattered old seeds. Bent forward, focusing on the earth, we walked around the circle. I visualized the plants that the seeds would have become, birds that might eat the seeds and the Giant Bean Stalk. Bryan said that it seemed as though so many of them were viney ground creepers. We all seemed to laugh. It was nice to walk and cast out.
Our Omens for the Season
From the Ancestors: Uruz – the primal ox, that total growth, a wild expansive energy
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Ehwaz – horse or transportation, the vehicle and the partnership, the partnership between horse & rider, the ability to get, to empower, to make things happen
From the Gods & Goddesses: Fehu or fee, which, this time, was seen as mobile wealth (woohoo cash from the Gods!)
For the Season: Wunjo or joy.
Taking in the Blessings
Facing the well we asked our Kindred to Hallow the waters ,and then, drank in their Sun Warmed Blessings. Integrating and internalizing the blessing within us.
The seed blessing is like the fallout from that – that growth and growing expanding thing.
So much gratitude, centering down and even blowing away.
The glowing fire, the glowing sun, the glowing circle grounding down.
Processing back in the sun and feasting.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I walked on the mud yesterday and today.
But back then there was still a lot of snow and we were grateful for the warmth of the sun.
Bryan had the fire pit dug out and ringed with snow blocks. We had a well of melted snow for a purification hand wash. Elizabeth was our fire mistress. We had dried herbs and 2 Yule wreaths and turkey fat for offerings. Bridget’s cloak had been in a tree overnight, and we barely needed a coat that day. We had brought our various tools (garden, office, art) to be blessed.
Susan and Elizabeth and Lovisa and her man Chris and Hudson and Bryan and I gathered at the gong and Amy joined us as we processed behind the cars and the VW bus to our Bridget by the stream. One by one we lit our candles and offered our prayers to her. I noticed the buds on the trees, the rushing of the stream, and the brightness of the light. You had to laugh, because Spring was coming.
I really love how our rituals unfold so naturally. We have grown well together as a group.
The Earth Mother, the Kindreds and Bridget- Bridget as special Grove Matron on her holiday. Can we offer enough? We have no Bard but our spirits sang. We all made our offerings and then there were the wreaths. Dry circles of pine placed on the smoldering embers turned suddenly into a giant blaze. (I gently pulled Hudson back, the cat left.) Bridget loves a good fire.
Our Omens were:
From the Ancestors: Fehu or fee or what things cost. The ancestors are talking to us about a price.
From the Spirits of Nature & Place: Uruz or Ox. This primal strength, it’s a natural growing urge, picking up momentum and getting bigger.
From the Gods & Goddesses: Odul or sacred enclosure. Also what we hold precious, and try to keep safe.
And From Bridget & the Season: Raido or communication. Traveling in a circuit, a progress: right action
The Blessing and passing of waters is getting smoother, and we all got to drink, even the cat.
And then the magic working began.
Bryan pulled out an ever expanding hempen rope as Bridget’s girdle. 9 ropes knotted in 8 intersections forming a huge circle. We each passed through this, passing it around the circle thrice. Climbing or jumping through or wriggling like an emerging worm or fish or unentangling arms and legs like an inside out shirt. Each time a new passage, closer to spring, closer to Bridget.
We asked the Kindreds and Bridget to then bless our tools, the tools of our skills and crafts, the tools of our trade.
Grounding down to the earth, to the potential within, eyes tearing from smoke, we thanked everyone and thanked again and then brought the Bridget idol and her cloak, outside from before the dawn, into the house to grace our hearth.
Crowding around a small table, toasting and eating, creating sacred milk magic, many warm faces.