Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter is Summer’s End

notes from Samhain, our weekend of trans-dimensional gathering

We had spent the weeks before in planning, thinking about pumpkins, processionals, purification, and death. We had lost 3 close friends this year, all friends of the grove and their passing has affected us deeply. We chose to focus this ritual on particularly honoring them, their journey and our connections.

We had dumb suppers out for many nights, each was completely eaten, either bit by bit or all at once.

dumb supper

Uncle Magoo arrived pre-dawn the day before our ritual (his birthday). And we began.

Magoo and birthday candles

We anticipated lots of folks, though some people last minute did not arrive and everyone (except Katrina and Zara Jane) came last minute. This always throws off timing or perhaps redefines our sense of when things begin.

So timing is everything and we are always beginning.

We of course start early, the ritual of setting up, the daily rituals of walking, looking at the birds, pacing the land.

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We made a fire and hauled wood and drank coffee, quietly walking through the sparkling frost.

We scry ice circles shining in the sun and melting in the scrying

ice 1

ice 2

ice 3 ice 4 ice 5 ice 6 ice fragment

fire & ice

Our ritual fire burned from sun up to sun down, from frost to dark.

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Offerings and wood were frozen from the night. We brought out the rest of our sacrifice and began.

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My notes are jumbled as we were tranced throughout the day and night.

No one remembers some things but we all felt everything.

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I had just finished the Calieach (Kale-Leek) soup and the ones who were there had finished eating Halloween loot, when Susan and then Heather arrived. Heather brought out oils and incense for all to choose from and we flocked around the table finding our oil and redirecting our energies.

Then we gathered inside for our pre-rit.

Actually I said to Bryan that we should start and he said “ it begins now” and it did. We went on a journey, the ritual of the pre-ritual, and this time in particular we began without our knowing.

Bryan talked about the procession as the time between being dead and reborn, which is like the time after you go to sleep and before you dream.

Perhaps that is where we begin.

burning altar in the night

Saturday, November 20, 2010

the Season of letting go

notes from the equinox 2010

The leaves are each day falling more and more furiously even as the ones on the trees become more and more brilliant. The weather is damp and cold and in some places there has been frost.

Not spent enough time in the garden anyway this year and now the dried stalks of dead flowers need harvesting, cabbages and broccoli still thrive along with the rest of the horseradish. Still more wood to stack, the chimney to clean and our septic needs work. Tying up loose ends before Samhain.

The day of our ritual I had gone first to honor the cycles of learning and giving in balance with my teacher of many years. On a brilliant day of first fall we danced the 7 Direction Movement Meditation and meditated on goldenrod, waving delicately almost imperceptibly in the breeze. We talked about the heart and ate my harvested grapes and peaches which came to fruition so abundantly and so late in the season. Then I went to see another teacher, a dear friend, my healing goddess. She was dying, though I was unprepared for the reality of her body, so frail and transparent and battered by her disease. She was a young woman whose illness took her rapidly. I spent the afternoon at times sitting quietly with her, at times talking to the others from her life who passed through to say goodbye. I came home from this for our equinox ritual, to try to celebrate balance. up to early Oct 2010 186

This was to be our last Our Whole Grove ritual as a whole grove, Elizabeth, who has since now moved to PA., was to attend and Susan and Amber as well, and also Heather who was at Lughnasa. But Elizabeth (who was leaving the next day) couldn’t come and Susan also became unable to attend. Again it was just to be Bryan, Heather, myself & Hudson.

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Bryan had gathered bunches of the same goldenrod that earlier I had breathed with, that is a tonic for our hearts and keeps us strong throughout the winter and filled the bilé in the nematon like a giant headdress.

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We had set out offerings: milk from the farm for the earth mother, some of our bounteous harvest, pork bone and the last of our portion of our whole cyser, crafted a year before. The fire was roaring in the center of the five circle fire pit before I even came home.

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Autumn glowed her colors, and the light began to fade. We layered up and processed to the fire.

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There are always birds, a hawk flying, some one cawing their acknowledgement.

Walking around the circle pouring milk and giving thanks for our mother and for her bounty, for feeding us and for caring for us. Our tree our finally flowing stream and well and our good and warm fire. Our fire was magic, like it was talking to us in spurts and blazes.

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We had gathered

We sat and talked until almost dark

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The balance comes soon; what happened to summer

been negligent about this blog, been of course too busy with life, jobs, garden(much neglected), family (somewhat neglected), and more work. but also life has been in much flux. I guess that is what the omens have been saying all along.

Our dear grove member Elizabeth has been on her own whirlwind life adventure- house hunting, buying, selling at a mad dash pace- which is great for her and her family though sad for us and our grove. This equinox will be the last with her as a NYS resident. How the years have flown. I cannot say enough about our gratitude for the worship together, for her gentle words, shared food, kind spirit and focus. We would not be a grove if we had not met her. We trust she will return and we will field trip to her, but we know it won’t be as often together honoring our Kindred and marking time. to the May 2010 031

Perhaps this oncoming season is always a time of tears and joy. Of mixed blessings and wistfulness.

Our kitchen table full of harvest finally but we are closing windows and at 8pm it has long been dark. Summer seems like a dream. summer gathering 10 112

This past Lughnasa we met a recently relocated ADF member, who happened to be the only other person for ritual. Many try to come, but all our lives are so full and so distant. We do our best to gather to honor the Gods, Gods who give meaning to life.

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Heather doesn’t drive and her mom drove her out here to the boonies. We all live in the same county but with back woods roads and up the mountain, it is always a hike to get here. We had made food and had cleaned the house, as always for the Kindred and always just a bit more especially when people who have not been here before are expected. Our house is eclectic and artsy with uneven floors and things everywhere. We did not know this new person’s needs, and we set up to be good hosts. Bryan often talks about the hosting, hosting of other worldly guests. Hosting as sacrifice.

Our summer of too much work and growing up started with the equinox, our anniversary, RVGA’s barn dance, and a much needed staycation which was overcrowded with plans. But Bryan got to visit Isaac and we did have one day of nothing. And then the time from Solstice to Lughnasa was the summer. Camp and work and the farm tour and parties and plans and friends and visits =whirlwind.

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Lack of rain, almost a drought, the stream became a quiet trickle and the hauling of 5 gallon buckets of water became a daily exercise. Looking towards the thunderstorms that usually come with Lughnasa, but there was no rain.

And Elizabeth was out of town and Susan too and everyone else was busy. So a small gathering under grey but not rainy skies. A good way to meet and make magic.

Talk and talk and talk- this holiday of boasts and bests and stories. We always tell the Lugh stories, the battles, the lore. And it’s the same with folk, we gather and share our histories, making things alive with the telling and retelling.

Lugh and Balor and Sacred Cows and Tlaitu and the first tomatoes and harvests. We wait all year for tomatoes. Hula hoops and contests and water and wine.

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It seems so long ago that flowers were abundantly in bloom and we ate all our meals outside and thought about swimming, days endlessly stretching before us.

But Lugh reminds us of endings, of wrapping things up and we know autumn is coming. Sigh.

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So before everything Bryan and I were sitting and talking about ritual and our grove and suddenly an eagle flew low and overhead, circling several times before flying high, riding the thermal drafts. An omen, a starter, a directional movement letting us know that it was time to begin. We then made a small fire in the close by the house fire pit before anyone showed up because we thought it might rain, as it always does on Lughnasa. Hudson taught us to get sticks that make a loud snapping sound for our tinder and he taught us a native song to gather wood by. He lit our fire and became our fire maker, our new fire maestro- perhaps young to replace Elizabeth, but also able and wise. It sprinkled as our fire caught blaze and we were set. He tended it well, until we were ready for ritual and with his handmade coal carrier he took a live log and led us to the 5 circle fire pit to light our ritual fire.

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Heather came bringing well water from Ireland and wormwood which we burned as purification.bryan's pics 2010 095

Broken eggshells ringed the circle, hot dogs for the outsiders, peppercorns for the Earth Mother, the last of our homemade cyser and bundles of grasses and flowers for our kindred. Our sacrifice of all kinds of things,the fragrant or spicy smoke quietly offering gratitude. The wail of the hawk, the silence of the grey skies, the simple fire, boy cuddled next to me these are my memories of our ritual. There was an absence without Elizabeth and a new blessed presence with Heather. Her mother arrived as we blessed our waters, mint water and we concluded with peaceful thanks. summer gathering 10 083 our omens were full of portent, thinking about our whole grove, the oil spill, our jobs and focus, our direction.

from the Ancestors: Kenaz a torch or a wound or a sore, pine- a resinous element, a shaper or a lighter, a transformer

from the Spirits of Nature & Place: Thuruz, thorn or boundaries, protection & defense

from the Gods & Goddesses:Othala or Odul, sacred enclosure, again rather protective

for the season: Hagal, hail or disruption, change

and we found a forgotten rune- having lain hidden by the fire until now- Uruz, the primordial ox- a growing living dynamic of strength

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So thinking of all that, we gently walked back to the house, carrying our empty bowls, and wished Heather safe home, and had a simple family dinner.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

from Beltane thru Solstice- Summertime chapter 1

As always this time from Beltane thru Solstice is beyond busy and has flown by.

Late frosts and early heat then a month plus of no rain. The summer pressed close, temperatures rose high and the garden had been dry, now recent rains have made everything humid.
The flowers have been plentiful and finally the vegetables grow. We are eating local harvests and staying up late with the long days.

Here's some notes from the last rituals, sorry it took a while

Lughnasa Ritual will be here on Sunday 8/1/10.


from notes dated 5/2/10
up before the dawn- whirlwind house cleaning - clearing opening to the fresh air.
gathering first flowers, getting rid of dead ones.
all in time.

setting up the maypole: picked up the covering stone to an ant nest filling the hole. Making offerings from the kitchen filling the hole and then filling the hole with the pole. The ribbons were still on it, mostly, and I steadied it while Bryan brought rocks, large rocks from our walls to stabilized it. Took more of them than I thought it should but we got it steady.

Amber arrived when we were finished bringing cookies and her harp. Always lovely to see friends not seen in a while.
Then Elizabeth arrived, tired and transformed carrying coffee and pie and her banjo and wood.
I went to the fire pit and realized that with bright noon light and 90 degree summer heat
we would need to slow down.
We rested in the shade and opened cyser and ate cookies and Middle Eastern sweets.
Getting out napkins we saw a large snake in the pantry. I screamed.
We had been seeing snakes everywhere.
Then the instruments came out.

the jumping electric monkey harp, the magic banjo, the big guitar, the kazoos.
the strings and the sweets, the sadness and the joy, the muse and the music.

then Carrie and her daughter showed up, all the way up here to the boonies blowing dandelions.

the boy was hot and bored in the hammock.
the sounds of the instruments and those from the basket and Carrie gently reading.
Staying on schedule off schedule.
the fires in the heat with small amounts of fuel.
Children and focus.
talking about ritual order and feeding the kids.
do we have sacrifice other than ourselves?
5 minute break.
Braya and Tasha and Dylan arrive. like magic. like clockwork.
on schedule off schedule.
happy birthday on the kazoos and then hats and water and an instrument and begin
on time off time.
The youngest banging the gong 3 times to begin - so soft and gentle
We are here to honor the Gods, Gods that give meaning to life.
the pomp of procession, joyous noise to the circle
finding Elizabeth quietly playing the banjo by the entrance.
We marched around the fire circles to the banjo tune, several times round stopping in the east.
Calling the directions, Elizabeth lights each fire
then as we light the center Michael & his son arrive. Each in its own time.
our meditation stopping at our arms our hands and our hearts and not going into our heads
walking around into and through the directional fires to get rid of winter as Carrie lead us in song.
Honor the inner fire.
the Gates, the Well, the Tree, the Fire
Let all our fires be good fires.
Almost the fires were out, just smoldering
Mama Mama Mama Mama!
The outsiders' cheese moved me around the circle closer to the offerings and sacrifices.
For our Kindred something that burns- a cauldron of sticks and handful of sage
the fire from nothing for our seasonal offerings- flowering dogwood, old herbs and flowers, scrambled grasses for each in time - even the littlest had her turn.
staying hydrated and cool in the headyness of the summer.
the pulling of omens is hard to explain what it really means
4 children, 4 omens to pull even if they didn't understand their role or why.
the 13 year old pulled the rune for the Honored Dead: Nathuz- the need fire, what we need
the 4 year old pulled the rune for the spirits of nature & place, the fairys, our animals: Uruz-
the primordial ox, taurus, here and now
the 9 1/2 year old best friend pulls the rune for the Gods & Godesses:Tir- the spiritual warrior, the direction up, balance & truth
the 9 1/2 year old boy pulls the rune for the season: Ingwaz, active life principle, doing, being, loving
A final omen of the Ogham, Bryan pulls the Furze- the East & Bees & maybe the wheel.
the fumbling of the waters, the blessing and taking in of that blessing- no longer iced or enough but good and refreshing.
Nicci and her family just in time for that blessing, the sharing of the waters.
in time out of time.
thanks and noise and not enough grounding but all is good.
12 minutes or 22 minutes and eating or not but the maypole finally.
We all dance our own way