Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lunar Observations

The moon begins to wane and I've been feeling restless and lazy. I thought about working on some creative projects but then decided that I really wasn't in the mood. I did some work, tidied the house, and read a little.

Ian Corrigan's Classification of Nature Spirits

Worth a look. :) for my LJ friends.
My husband and I went to Muin Mound last night to celebrate Imbolc with the grove. The ritual was held outside in negative three degrees weather! Now I feel like a hardcore Pagan! Last year we did a lot of rituals inside because of the snow/cold and then a surplus of water and mosquitos in the nemeton. A lot of people were feeling disconnected so we vowed to go outside for ritual more. Thank the Gods it wasn't windy. My poor toes, even in my new cozy boots, were so red by the time we got inside. The ritual was definitely faster than usual, but it was somehow powerful and meaningful at the same time. Huddling close to the fire, I felt a more intense gratefulness for Brighid and her fire. I also felt the blessing of community, which was interesting because the omens reflected this.

Before and after the rite, actually, I felt better bonded with my grovies. We made Brighid crosses and chatted before the ritual. I'll have to take and post photos later. (My husband made a triforce from the Legend of Zelda Games out of wheat.) After the ritual was the potluck and more socializing. Phoenix showed me her new art studio and we talked for some time about arts and crafts. Skip and I talked about training programs. He's happy that I'm becoming more active on the forums and chats. He also showed me a photo of he and the other previous Arch Druids naked (backside only) and covered in body paint. LOL! Jen, Candy, Skip, and I talked excitedly about Wellspring this year. Jen seems quite excited that we'll be there and in the Muin Mound camp this year. I am stoked.

Community is important to me. That's part of why ADF speaks to me so. It's about family and coming together to learn and worship. Muin Mound is starting to feel like a spiritual family to me. They are so welcoming and inclusive of both myself and my husband. Such reassurance couldn't have come at a better time now that MVPN has gone through such a change.

Today the snow falls thick and fast. Another winter day in the North Country. I am grateful to my own resourcefulness and Brighid's protection for the shelter and warmth I have. I pray that my husband makes it home from work safe. I think our grocery shopping and laundry chores will have to be put on hold today,,,

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Amendment

Because I'm trying to document my feelings/energy levels in conjunction with the cycles of the moon...

Although I stated that today has been a day of rest, at the same time I am still up at 1:24 AM. Full moons always make me feel mentally awake, I suppose, even though I've been lazing around after work.

Full Moon

Heehee. I'm amused by the number of people who have told me about the bright full moon tonight. I'm worried people think I don't read the news or look out my window! That said, I had been thinking the full moon would be on the night of Jan 30th, not the eve of the date. In other words, perhaps my calendar is more Celtic than I gave it credit for. ;) When I started to read about how bright the full moon would be on the 29th I became very perplexed indeed about the seeming discrepancy in calendars...

Anyway, it's a big shiny full moon and I have felt... relaxed, I guess. I still took care of some creative pursuits, but it was more or less a day of rest. We can think of the moon as at its climax. Tomorrow it will begin to wane until the dark moon - a time of shrinking, lessening, resting, healing, and, ultimately, renewal.

My greatest spiritual/creative accomplishment today was making a Brighid's cross (with my husband's help). I don't have any green rushes around. It was quite a bitter day up here in the North Country after all. There is a small creek near us at the edge of a forest. Separating the tame from the wild is a wall of (currently brown and dead) tall grasses. When I returned from work this afternoon, I harvested several and soon realized that they were too fragile to bend in their moribund state. My husband helped me steam the centers. It worked like a charm! The plants were probably not the best for this sort of project, but this is the first time I've made one and, I must say, I'm very proud. I'm going to leave it in the window tonight to soak up the moonbeams. Then it will make its home over my door as a protective charm.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pagan Elders

I posted this on the MVPN forums first but decided to put it on my blog in case anyone else wanted to chime in. :)

Pagans and magic practitioners alike have some very intriguing, innovative, and (in)famous elders. They've inspired us with their rhetoric and ritual. They've given their lives to helping others. They've taught others, authored books, and made the occult more acceptable and understandable. They've bastardized cultural practices and pantheons. They've founded some of the most beautiful traditions in modern religion. They've been saints and sex-addicts. Whatever you feel about Gardner, Crowley, Starhawk, Z. Budapest, Cunningham, Buckland, Bonewits, Erynn Rowan Laurie, Diana Paxson, or any of the other people we can't stand and look up to... You can't help but admit that they've helped to shape modern Paganism.

If you could meet any Pagan elder, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you talk about? Would you laud them or slap them? Or both?

Roman Underwear?

Did you ever wonder about what the ancient Romans wore for underwear? If so, you're in luck! Author and blogger Chas Clifton just posted a link to a strange and yet interesting article about the most recent research into the topic!

I see London! I see France! I see Caesar's underpants!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lunar Challenge

My friend Katrina challenged me to keep track of/honor/contemplate the phases of the moon and how it effects my emotions and such. Since leaving Wicca, I haven't really done much with the moon besides silently stand in awe of it and find it beautiful. I've always felt energized by the full moon, but I haven't given it much other thought. ADF doesn't take any official stance on the moon. The Henge of Keltria has lunar festivals however, so it's not unheard of for modern Druids. I decided to give it a shot.

I could have done a better job keeping track of things in January. I have decided to blog more about it here. Overall, despite my illness this past week, the waxing moon has found me feeling more creative. I've been working on several projects after a brief lull. I wonder if I work on fewer things during the waning and dark moon?

Teacher Fox

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I've been working through Paxson's Trance-Portation. I mentioned a few entries ago that I've been revisiting animal spirits / spirit guides. Paxson suggests asking a companion animal to lead you to a spirit who can teach you to better navigate the inner realms.

Last night, while the husband was at work, I took advantage of my free/quiet time and prepared to trance. I took a cleansing shower to help me release the stress and tensions of the day. While there I felt compelled to chant which felt great. Chanting really gets me in the mood for spiritual activity.

I then sat at my altar, honored the kindreds and lit a stick of incense to honor my spirit guides in particular.

Going into trances is coming easier and easier to me given the right mental cues. It used to be a real effort for me to guide myself into anything. Now it's almost second nature to call on the Two Powers and enter my inner nemeton. I'm finding that my inner realm has a definite landscape that I can navigate. I've really not ventured far. Beyond my nemeton is a field and, in the distance, more forest. In the middle of the field is a big rock that I've visited plenty of times in Katrina's rock meditations. An Dagda likes to frequent it.

Before leaving my nemeton, I called to my long-time spirit guide, the lynx. I've been trying to work with him more and feel like I have a better relationship with him. I asked if he could lead me to a being who could teach me more about trancing and navigating. We walked through the field and a few animals passed by, including a deer. They weren't interested in stopping. Finally a fox walked in our path, stopped, and waited for us. I asked her if she was willing to teach me and she said yes. At this point I felt a pull from my physical body - my throat was irritated and I knew I was going to cough but I held back. The vixen laughed at me, called me a foolish human, and basically said that if I need to cough I should just get it over with. She then said that I needed to finish healing before I come back to her and sent me off.

It was an interesting experience, that's for sure. And then today I kept seeing red foxes *everywhere*.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Traditional Imbolc

Skip sent this wonderful video to Muin Mound members. It shows a traditional Imbolc celebration held every year in Donegal. Listen to the bilingualism! I love seeing how the whole community gathers to honor Brighid - saint or Goddess.

Cros Bhríde from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sewing Projects

I recently posted about a doll I've been working on. I've decided that she is Sif of the golden hair - the wife of Thor from Norse mythology. While researching the linen dresses and apron skirts worn by Viking women, I started to wonder about the clothing of my own hearth culture. What did the ancient Celts wear?

One of my artistic goals for the year is to make myself an outfit to wear to rituals and festivals. I started to look through SCA resources and found some good sites with a lot of helpful information. I ordered some cream colored linen and some green flannel wool to make a léine and a brat respectively. I'm really excited about this project! It also gives me a good excuse to study embroidery to decorate the léine.

Eee! I can't wait until my fabric arrives!

Diana Paxson on Animal Spirits

"Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse are the heirs of Br'er Rabbit and Anansi. We give our children toy ducks to protect them in the bath, and Teddy Bears to ward their sleep. When small, my grandchildren were guarded by a tattered toy in the shape of a bear that belonged to their great-grandmother when she was a girl.

"I have vivid memories of an afternoon in the Cornish town of Padstow, when a friend and I watched the procession of the Padstow "Hobby Horse." This is a stylized horse-shaped construction that has been carried through the streets to bless the town every May 1 for centuries. We listened to a young man from the procession explain very seriously to his young son why the "'Oss" was more powerful than Spiderman. We have been conditioned to believe in and trust our animal helpers since we were very small.

"In animals, we see the wisdom that comes from an unbroken connection with nature and the innocence of beings uncorrupted by the human world. We relate to them in a visceral and preverbal way that bypasses conscious inhibitions. By developing your connections with the animal powers, you expand your capacities without losing the advantages of living in the human world..."

Page 99 of Trance-Portation.

MVPN - It's Official

Why am I, the self-titled "North Country Pagan," so interested in what is going on with the Utica Pagan community? I still consider it my home, albeit a distant one now. I found my path in Utica and I made spiritual ties in Utica. My tribe is very much in the Mohawk Valley.

Today, the council of MVPN released an official statement about the future of MVPN*.

Although I am supportive and understanding of this move, change is sometimes hard to swallow. Perhaps it is that, despite my growing fondness of and involvement in ADF, I still feel isolated in Northern NY. As far as I know, I'm the only ADF druid up here. I've heard of some people calling themselves druids, but from what I can tell they are really Wiccan. No CRs, no ADFers, no Keltrians... Not even any OBODies as far as I can tell. That's what I would want, I guess - Druids attached to a tradition I understand, one that is even a little CR in nature. So, back to my original point, perhaps I am simply wishing that I could have a more path-specific group closer to my new home. I am happy for my Wiccan friends, but also a little envious.

Right now, the plan seems to be for my husband and I to stay put for a couple years. If everything continues to go well where I work, we will possibly move closer to Watertown. This would mean more of a commute to my job, but we would be closer to everything else - my husband's job, shopping centers, a big library, a theater, etc... And ultimately closer to Syracuse, home of Muin Mound, the grove I attend. Where I currently live adds an additional 30ish minutes of driving to and from Syracuse. Oh, how I wish the government would hurry up and build high-speed public trains...

To my Wiccan friends in the Mohawk Valley - I wish you the best of luck and the most sincere wish that this new group you are forming is spiritually satisfying to you. I also hope that I am welcome to join you from time to time in the spirit of friendship and a mutual wish to celebrate the turning of the wheel with you. Although we walk different Pagan paths, you are still my brothers and sisters. Kindreds bless you all.

*For my friends on Live Journal:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain rain rain

I mentioned in my last post that I have an ear infection. I got a prescription from the doctor and it's helping a lot. I feel my body fighting back and feeling better bit by bit.

Last night it started to rain. When I woke up today it was still raining. Most of the snow has been washed away, just like my sickness. There's a literary term for this... When writers link the occurrences of the natural world to their own... It's escaping me at present...

Anyway, for some reason the rain has further invigorated me. As soon as I looked out the window, I thought "spring!" and felt some sort of emotional/chemical reaction in my being.

We are almost out of the dark half of the year. As much as I enjoy snow, it makes my heart skip a beat for soon it will be Beltaine!

Mars in Retrograde and Spirit Guides

My friend Katrina is pretty good when it comes to astrology. She and her husband have been studying it for quite some time. She brought it to my attention that Mars is in retrograde. I did a little bit of reading up about it and, apparently, this causes stagnation of projects, a lack of energy, arguments, and illness. I have been feeling so out of it recently. Earlier this week I had an upset stomach. By the weekend I had an ear infection and a fever. Goodness gracious - early March, hurry it up!

In other news, I've moved on in Paxson's book Trance-Portation. Before I became so dreadfully ill this weekend, I started to revisit my spirit guides. "Revisit" should tell you that I've done work with them before. Now, spirit guides, animal totems, or whatever you want to call them have a nasty New Age reputation. For good reason! It's an easy meditation that newbies can do and is usually one of the first trance exercises introduced to people in self-help type circles. Just think of that scene in "Fight Club" where the lead character has a vision of a penguin who tells him "slide." Things like that make it seem very ridiculous, but I think it can be approached in deeper, more fulfilling ways than is portrayed by the media. I find myself agreeing with Paxson's sentiment - regardless of whether or not we create the spirit guides with our own unconsciousness, they can be helpful in communicating with that side of our being. Think of them as the adult imaginary friends if you want. And cultures all over the world have legends about meeting animals on heroic journeys. My own hearth culture is filled with sacred prohibitions and bonds (gease) with dogs and birds. There are cats guarding treasures and otherworldly entrances. There are salmon full of knowledge and magical deer. As myth can be a symbol for the heroic journey we must take internally from time to time, I find no problem with meeting spirit guides in an Indo-European context. Just ask my friend Dubhlainn who recently had a very powerful spiritual experience with a blue heron.

So I've started to interact with my spirit guides again. The first time I did such an exercise, I met a dove. I've never seen that creature since. The one creature who has had staying power is the lynx. The last two times I called out on my inner journeys, I met ... a beaver. It was quite unexpected, let me tell you, but he has prodded me both times with messages about productivity, creating, and rebuilding. I'm starting to wonder if it has something to do with my house... I really should get around to making curtains...

The lynx showed up as well. I don't know the beaver's name, but the lynx gave me one. Only... it's not in English. It has something to do with wind and grass. I feel a comfort that the lynx is still there. The appearance of a beaver in my mental landscape adds to the population of North America, specifically NY, fauna.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eating Local

Eating local has become an important goal for me. My husband and I watched Food Inc. I had been meaning to watch it for months but ...oh you know how that goes. Anyway, it was really well-done. Much was not a surprise or I already knew about it, but there were plenty of "woah" moments for me. Those who know me know that my husband and I are vegetarians for environmental and ethical reasons. I often think I'm a bit more liberal about it than my husband in that I'm always quick to tell people that I'm not anti-hunting or against small, sustainable, humane meat farms. A lot of people expect a barrage of anti-meat talk from me and, though I do consider vegetarianism to be one of the best environmental approaches at the moment, I understand that some people really don't want to or, in some cases, physically can't. Long story short, this documentary isn't anti-meat - it's anti-factory farming and anti-fast food. There were very few gory scenes of slaughter if any at all. There was definitely some footage of the animals' living conditions (toned down - most factory farms won't let just anyone wander in) and some food processing footage. So "icky scenes" shouldn't be a concern.

Anyway, the movie reinvigorated my desire to eat locally. As much as I miss my old stomping ground, there are an abundant number of small, local farms who participate in markets and will sell you meat, eggs, and, in some rare cases, milk from their own cows.

But it's getting to be the end of January! It's cold! What could possibly be in season right now?

Well, according to Sustainable Table there are several things! All thanks to "hothouses" and storage, apples, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips, and winter squash are in season. That's a lot of stew and soup! And mixed with dried legumes.... mmmm!

First Contact

When I moved to the North Country I started to poke around Witcvox's directory to see who was around here. I do so every few weeks out of boredom and, sometimes, loneliness. I soon became aware of a shop called Moontide in Watertown. My work schedule and unfamiliarity with the area made it difficult for me to find. A few days ago, my husband and I explored an indoor shopping area and, lo and behold, there was Moontide.

The owner, who struck me as an intensely new agey but kind-hearted individual, dedicates half of her store to crystals, incense, and various New Age and Pagan knick knacks. The other half is full of romantic, vampiric clothing. I must admit, I want to go back and try some things on. I like ruffled blouses and long flowing skirts.

I bought a few small boxes of incense to replenish my supply, including dragon blood, a favorite of mine. I also engaged in small talk about the community and how we were new to it. She seemed glad that I didn't complain about the snow.

I asked her about CUUPs and, while she hasn't been in awhile, she recommends that I check it out. I got the impression that it is full of Wiccans which really isn't a surprise. Either that or she isn't aware that not all Pagans are Wiccan.

Anyway, that was my first venture into the local Pagan culture. There is a CUUPs meeting on Tuesday but I'm feeling under the weather today. I may not feel up to going. You may think that's just another excuse for me to avoid socializing, but really, I do feel quite ill. Although... I must admit I'm wondering if I really should go. The very active ADF chats have been keeping me quite happy recently...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Site Update

One more update today! I updated my website. I added photos of my current altars. Enjoy!

Prepping for Imbolc: Part 2

I'm not finished with it yet, but here is a photo of the Brighid cross project I'm working on.

The pattern on the brown/gold fabric may not be the best for the project but I'm determined to see it through and perhaps add some embroider to embellish it. I usually don't do things like this - appliqué and quilt techniques are new for me.

And here's a photo of my Brigihd altar so far. This isn't anything Imbolc specific - I've been adding to it since moving here. It's situated over my stove for obvious reasons. I do my flame keeping here.

A doll I've been working on.

This is a doll I've been working on for what seems like forever. Yes I know the skin tone of her body and face doesn't match that of her arms and legs. Whatever. She'll be wearing actual clothing soon enough so you'll barely notice. :P I'm not happy with the folds on her neck but I'm very pleased with her face and cleavage. Huzzah! I feel like I've come a long with in my doll creation.

I posted this here mostly to show the Artisan Guild of ADF what I've been up to. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ADF Chats

I am so glad that there are chats on ADF. When I joined about three years ago, I felt so distant from everything. I started to attend a grove and, while that helped, I only saw people 8 times a year. I didn't get to know anyone. Then I started to befriend people on Live Journal and Facebook. This also helped and yet it was still kind of lacking.

Finally there were more and more chats on ADF. Real time interaction. I feel like I'm really getting to know some of the wonderful people in ADF. I'm getting to know peoples' personalities and humors. It's fun and spiritually/intellectually stimulating at the same time. I don't feel so alone up here when I participate.

Prepping for Imbolc

Imbolc is on its way and I need to get ready! When I first came to Paganism five or six years ago, I was involved in Wicca and Imbolc wasn't very special to me. I remember knowing that it had something to do with a Goddess named "Bride" or "Brighid" (one of those strange Celtic Gods!) but I hadn't formed any relationship with her, much less read about her outside a Wicca 101 book. It wasn't until I started to study Druidism and Irish lore that Brighid made herself known to me. She is my patron Goddess, protector of my home, muse, and source of warmth. Now Imbolc, her holy day, is very important to me.

I'm currently working on an offering for her. It's an attempt at quilting and/or appliqué - I'm not quite sure which yet. I will post a photo when I'm done.

Time Warp, MVPN, and North Country Pagans

I took advantage of the long weekend and visited my family. I was able to attend a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Utica College. (It was fantastic, by the way!) My dear friend Katrina and former mistress of ceremonies for MVPN was there and we were able to catch up before the show. I say "former mistress of ceremonies" because my last post about MVPN has been confirmed. They had their last council meeting and decided to dissolve. MVPN will remain as an online forum and networking site but nothing more, at least for the time being. The mostly Wiccan members will organize sabbats and esbats somewhat privately, meaning that they will meet with sincerely interested parties and eventually invite them, but the group won't focus on advertising. It also means that friends are welcome to the rituals should they want to attend.

Interestingly, I was asked to become a moderator on the forums as they mean a lot to me. They are how I maintain contact with my Pagan friends in the Mohawk Valley. I'm not sure when the switch will take place...

I also saw the former Elder of MVPN, Bruce, when getting breakfast at a donut shop. It was nice to see him as he is often silent on MVPN's boards. He is organizing a ritual to acknowledge the closure of MVPN in its original state.

C'est la vie, I guess.

There is a CUUPs meeting in Watertown next week, I believe. I'm thinking about going. I looked through Witch Vox's directory of local Pagans. I already knew that are some Pagans on Fort Drum, but there are supposedly Pagans in Evans Mills, Gouverneur, Antwerp, and Philadelphia. I'm not about to message these people and ask to meet up. That would make me feel uncomfortable. I would feel safer going to an established and open Pagan meeting.

We'll see what happens I guess!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MVPN - Dying?

My friend Katrina, the acting mistress of ceremonies for MVPN, replied to an email the other day and updated me on the situation with the Mohawk Valley Pagan Network. Apparently, with myself and another ADFer moved out of the Utica area, the other members, who are all some form of Neo-Wiccan, want to focus more on that path. They want to conduct more private Sabbats and Esbats rather than reach out to the community (I guess). Katrina says the forums will remain to maintain communication with Pagans of other paths and other places in NY (like myself). She has yet to reply to my email requesting a confirmation of these points, but I'm assuming that means MVPN, for all practical purposes, is going to be an online networking site.

There are positives and negatives to this. On the one hand, I can completely understand why everyone left in Utica would want to focus more on their own path. While us ADFers were there, MVPN did its best to cater to our wants and needs. My friend and I pushed for more diversity because not everyone is Wiccan and if that's the first impression non-Wiccans get, they will usually run away without giving the group a chance. With us gone, it's only natural for the Neo-Wiccans to study what they feel most called to. If nobody else in the community is looking for Druidism or Heathenism (etc) then why go out of their way? In addition, I wouldn't feel it appropriate for a non-Druid, for example, to have a Druid ritual just to be diverse. That would be somewhat offensive, in my opinion.

At the same time, I can't help but wonder what would happen if a Druid showed up in Utica. I know the group wouldn't turn him or her away, but I get the feeling that the hypothetical "other" would lose interest. When I was in Utica, I seriously thought about starting a protogrove. I asked Robert Lewis, a fellow ADFer and then representative of the North Eastern groves, for a reading. The omens indicated that I had too much going on and that I should wait. Boy am I glad I listened - I got a new job and had to move, after all! That would have really complicated things... Then my friend moved to Albany. I would have been by myself, really... At the same time I wonder if I'll ever go back to Utica and whether or not I'll set up a grove there or anywhere else. I definitely feel the calling but it's not the right time. I feel like I need more experience, to begin with.

But I digress.

So, yes. The core group of MVPN seem to be moving away from MVPN and more towards a private/semi-open circle of sorts. Until the council meets to discuss what this officially means, all I can do is conjecture. In the meantime, the forums, which are supposedly going to be left for networking, are all but dead. Every once and awhile, a new person pops up but then goes quiet. It's usually just Katrina and myself having discussions. My other ADF friend will occasionally chime in. Otherwise the forums have been used for nothing more than RSVPing for events. I fear that, should "other" Pagans enter the Mohawk Valley, and if they find MVPN, they will think it's dead and give up. I don't understand why nobody else joins in on the conversations. Even simple ones like "What are your Yule traditions?" I can see that people looked - but why didn't they respond? Have they really just given up on networking? On the community? I'm two hours away and I haven't given up. Should I?

I guess I'll have to see what the council says.

ADF Chats and Strange Dreams

I found out that the CUUPs group in Watertown was having a meeting last night. At first I really wanted to try and make it but then I realized how last-minute it was and decided to stay home and relax with my husband. I ended up getting on the ADF chat towards the end of the night which was a lot of fun and helped to remind me that I'm not alone, even if I'm the only ADFer in Northern NY (which it sometimes seems is the case...) We talked about the nature of deity, specifically whether or not Zeus was the same as Jupiter and Tyr, etc. It was a fun intellectual exercise but one we all agreed wouldn't lead to any true conclusions. All the same, I believe that such discussions are important. They force us to contemplate our faith and even question it. This, I believe, helps to ward off stagnation and unflinching dogma.

Somehow, we ended up talking about the Fomoire, I admitted that I had an interest in them, in particular Bres. In much of the lore I've read, he is Brighid's husband. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a horrible king. Bres is part Fomoire and part Tuatha de Dannan. He decides to enslave the de Dannans and favor the Fomoire. He was also not very hospitable which, to the ancient Irish, was a big no-no. After a war, The Fomoire are defeated and Lugh gets the secrets of agriculture from former king Bres. It's a trade - Bres' life for, basically, the secrets of taming nature.

I explained to my fellow ADFers that, while I've not made tribute to him and do not worship him, I have an interest. Perhaps I can compare it to the interest people have in someone like Iago from Othello. He's the antagonist and I can't help but wonder at his motives. More importantly, I wonder at Brighid's relationship with him. Yes, in the myths, it was most probably symbolic of a political marriage and, perhaps, sovereignty. But, if the Gods have feelings like us, how did she feel? If it's all just a metaphor, what does it mean to people devoted to Brighid? What does it mean to a feminist to worship a Goddess who married an asshat? Was he always like that? We know she invented keening when their son was killed. But that's it. Brighid is such an important Goddess to me that I can't help but wonder at it all.

Anyway, shortly after the chat I went to bed and I had a horrible dream. In the dream, I became aware of a shadowy figure watching me through the windows at night. No matter where I went he (because I somehow knew it was male) knew and fallowed. At some points he was just a silhouette behind a blind. Other times I felt his presence. Then there were times when he seemed to be reaching through the windows from the darkness. It was very frightening. Finally, in an attempt to flee I got into a car with someone else (I can't remember who - my sister, maybe) and the person/thing chased after me. The car was going and I couldn't get the door closed. The thing was at the door, a shadow, reaching through the spaces. I woke up shortly after that.

At work I ended up daydreaming for a bit. I was thinking about the dream. I hardly ever seem to remember my dreams and I suddenly remembered the discussion on the Fomoire. Was it Bres? Or was my mind still thinking of the "Outsiders" ( the term we often use in ADF to describe the "powers of chaos" like the Fomoire or the Titans)? Did I get their attention? If so, and if I had a dream like that as a result, I don't think I'll ever want to think about making offerings to Bres.

Tonight, as it gets darker, I think of Brighid, my patroness, and I ask her, as I always ask her, to protect my home and me in it. I can't help but wonder what it means to ask the wife to keep the husband out?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making a Cultural Shift

There's a lot of talk among environmentalists about making a cultural shift. There's no way around it - it's going to have to happen if we as a species want to survive. It's also going to have to happen if we don't want to dramatically damage the homes of countless life. (A lot of people argue that the Earth doesn't need saving because it will always bounce back - but that can't be said of the nature spirits we're killing directly and indirectly. So stop shrugging off the blame!)

But back to the point of the post. It is so difficult to imagine Western Civilization making such a dramatic change. The ignorant masses (I hate to use this incredibly pejorative term, but it's an accurate one.) refuse to shift and cling to bad science and irresponsible dogma. Then there are the poor. People from a low socio-economic background often find it incredibly difficult to make big changes, even when you argue that some of the changes would save them money. And let's face it - soda is often cheaper than wholesome juice. And as long as food stamps allow people to purchase junk, that's what most people will get. (Yes, I know - controversial statement!) And then there's... people like myself and many of my social circle. People who are aware of the need for change and are attempting to do it baby step after careful baby step. Finally, there are the people with real balls - the people who live the change. They only bike/walk/use public transit. They get most of their food from their own property. They live off the grid. They reject consumerism. Gods, I wish I could be one of them...

Living in Northern NY makes such a shift VERY difficult. (Saying this could be an excuse, a sign of ignorance, or a reality - it could be all at once. Let me know what you think.) We're "doing the right thing" by only having one car, but I find myself wishing we had two so that I could go ram-rodding around on my own while Ron is at work. Not very environmentally responsible of me, huh? Luckily, I live two-three minutes from my place of employment. I want to start walking and cycling more. I'm inspired by the stories about year-round cyclists. I need to practice more but I may just try to become one next winter. Ron can't walk or cycle to work considering it's 30 minutes away by car. He's got a job and I'm grateful for that - but until we start using more public or man-powered transit, we won't be very sustainable. This is something I want to work more on...

But there are other areas besides transportation - areas many people are arguing about as we speak. Let's look at some of them.

1) Going vegetarian / vegan. People have been arguing for years that this is one of the most important changes you can make in your life to help the environment. It amazes me that Al Gore goes on and on about change and yet STILL eats meat. To be fair, he has said that he's limited his meat consumption. This is good. If you eat meat, you should try and limit how much you eat. Try going veggie on weekends. It will save you money and make less of an impact. Even better, if you must eat meat (there could be health reasons, for instance!), shun fast-food and anything that isn't local or killed by your own hand. Going veggie? This point - I agree with.

2) Stop eating fish. I started to notice this a lot a year or so ago. Many scientists are indicating that we have severely fucked up in regards to the oceans. There are huge pools of plastic in multiple oceans, plastic in our beach sand, chemicals leaching into the fish, and over fishing. Don't get me going on overfishing - it will seriously make me froth at the mouth because I get so, so angry. If you can't give up that cheese burger, AT LEAST consider giving up seafood or limiting it. For some really good information, check out Overfishing. There are also fish that aren't as in danger so, if you must eat fish, go for those. (FYI - tuna is not one of them.) Giving up fish? I agree with that.

3) Overconsumption. This is the part where things start to get really, really tricky for people. I don't know about you, but I was born into a material world. As a child, if I wanted a toy, I got it. Oh yes. I was spoilt. Most of us were, even if we don't think so. Look at all we have compared to the countries with significantly smaller carbon footprints. And what is most of that stuff made from? You guessed it - plastic. What was that infomercial that used to be on tv? Plastics make it possible? A friend once pointed out to me that plastic is necessary for most medical equipment. My husband is quick to point out that plastic is necessary for electronics. Ok. Fine. But do we really need so much disposable crap!? Seriously - where is our ban on plastic shopping bags, NY? Are you not washing and reusing your ziplock bags? Why? It's so easy and saves you money.

Disposable crap aside, the hardest part is stopping ourselves from overconsuming. Let's face it - we like things. They make us feel happy. We enjoy that illusion. Heck, I'm an artist and art is often about making things. Granted they aren't on a mass-produced scale, but some of the materials I've accumulated are so, in that sense, I'm guilty. Reusing things in my craft has become very important to me. Again, baby steps.

My husband's number one hobby is playing video games - something I'm getting more and more into. But more games equals more plastic discs and packages. Would the industries lose money if they went all digital? My husband argues yes because without one-time install discs for games like World of Warcraft, people would pirate. And on top of that, there's the servers! People talk about wanting to live on Pandora, but are they truly willing to go cold turkey hunter-gatherer? That equals work, people! Do you think most are willing to go that far? Part of me feels so trapped by my student loans. College = a good job = student loans = stuck in the system. I can't be a hunter gatherer because that doesn't bring in the income required to pay off my student loans! So I shrug and whine about it on my fancy iMac. Oh yes, I suffer from extreme eco-guilt. :P

So overconsumption. I agree that it is an issue but it's not an easy one to solve. People like treasure and they like convenience. It's human nature. Only the bravest of us seem able to let go and live on the fringe. I want to attempt to consume less and less. I really want to try and buy less garbage. I'm a big advocate for second-hand clothing and renting rather than or before buying brand new. That's a start, I suppose. I think I get a little better every year... I hope.

4) "Ditch the Dog." That's the new one and arguably one of the most controversial. Some scientists are citing pets as horrible for the environment - worse than owning a car! A lot of this has to do with the food (remember, factory farming is bad for the environment and where do you think the kibble comes from?), but there were other arguments that I forget. I don't know what will become of this. I mean... seriously, do these people want more homeless animals on the street? If anything, people need to step up, be responsible, and fix their pets. Seriously, though, I am not about to euthanize my cats and ferrets. You could also argue that humans are bad for the environment (which, hell, we are!) so we should ditch our children. Because that makes sense... While there are valid points to the argument, it seems kind of faulty. Fix your pets, yes. Consider a raw diet, yes. (I'm hoping to start my cats on one this year after more research.) Ditch them? Where would they go?

So those are just some thoughts I've been having. If you actually read the whole thing, you deserve a cookie. An organic, vegan cookie. :P Most of this probably sounded really controversial or accusatory. I'm not trying to point fingers as I'm guilty too. If anything, I'm trying to start a conversation about the issues and possible solutions. What are you doing to change your impact and shift your culture?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Has anyone been involved with CUUPS? There is a chapter in Watertown (30ish minutes away from me) and I'm thinking about going to check it out. I keep feeling so so about it. One the one hand, I realize that it will be an eclectic mix and I already have that in the form of MVPN. I also realize that it would just be another thing to get involved in On the other hand, I'm lonely up here. My only real friend is my husband. I talk to people at work but I don't show them all of me. I would like to know some more people - people who I'm not afraid of being myself around.


Spiritual Goals for 2010

Everybody has their lists of resolutions and I've already added my own in the form of environmentalist goals (some of which are harder to keep than others due to hubris). I'm working hard to try and remember my reusable bags and Ron and I have exclusively been purchasing eco-friendly recycled, degradable, chlorine-free toilet paper and paper towels. (We make the paper towels last by only using them for cleaning our ferret cage and getting cat vomit off the carpet. Truly nasty messes. We use rags made from old tshirts for everything else.)

But I have other goals, some of which could have been posted on my list of eco-friendly goals. Anyway, here is what I want to do more of in 2010.

1) Improve My Gardening Skills - This year finds me in a first floor apartment. I'm not allowed to change the landscaping in any way, but I do have a nice little patio. Last year I started a container garden and I still have some of the plants - catnip, chives, and even a tomato plant that has yet to flower! I want to build on my garden this year. Last year I planted beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. Everything was started from heirloom seeds. This year I want to add radishes, peppers, cucumbers, and maybe some eggplant. I'd like to add more herbs as well including oregano.

2) Frequent the Farmers' Market - Watertown has a great farmers' market every Wednesday in the summer. I was only able to visit once in August, the month we moved to the North Country. This year I want to take advantage of all the locally grown food. While I'm hoping to get the bulk of my tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, and herbs from home, I could buy more tomatoes, peppers, and cukes at the market. I could also buy potatoes, squash, corn, and other such yummies.

3) Sew More For My Spirituality - I want to make myself a warm cloak to wear to rituals. My husband could use one as well. I'm hoping to attend Wellspring and would love to make a banner to decorate our tent. I want to ask my grove what they want from me because I would love to give back.

4) Start the Generalist Study Program and the Artisan Guild Study Program. I also want to try getting accepted to the Initiate Study Program. Druidism and ADF have become important to me and I want to learn more and give back.

5) Contribute articles to OL and send more in to Tribeways. Again, giving back.

6) And as always - I want to meditate more.

What are your spiritual goals?

Prayer Before Eating

I thank the Earth Mother for the food before me.

I thank the men and women who toiled in field, farm, and kitchen to bring this meal to me.

I thank the plants and animals who had to die so that I could live.

(Inspired and partly borrowed from Isaac Bonewits.)

I firmly believe that modern Druidism, despite what my Celtic ancestors may or may not have believed, is an earth-centered religion. Given the food crisis some countries are facing and the environmental impact our agricultural industry has on Mama Earth, I feel that, at the very least, I can offer a prayer of thanks. As a vegetarian, I have to recognized that some animals were harmed in the production of my salad or wheat cereal in the form of the destruction of a habitat, perhaps even pesticides, or a tractor wheel... I have to thank the plants that I am taking into me.

Do you pray before eating? Why or why not? What do you say?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Trance Dance

"Moving Meditation" has been something I've heard more and more about this past year. I've read various articles about it and the luck some have with it over more traditional/stereotypical forms - still meditations, if you will. Sitting quietly and letting my mind alternate between quieting and exploring have always worked well for me except for when I'm wound up, tired, or angry. The first time I really tried a walking meditation was at the Mohawk Valley Pagan Network's "Workshop Day" in the summer of '09. The welcoming and patient Seraphoenix lead a workshop on labyrinths. It included some basic history and lore, construction ideas, modern uses, and a walkthrough. Although I never reached any depth of being or had any visions, I was able to still my mind very easily. I was too focused on my feet and where I was going to think of anything else. I was feeling congested that day and was amazed at my sudden ability to "clear my mind" without having to focus on my breath - a truly annoying task when one has a cold.

The next time I tried a labyrinth was at the CNY Pagan Pride Day in Liverpool, NY. They set up a simple labyrinth using small posts placed in the grass. One could walk it at any time of the day which was very convenient. I really enjoyed it and hope to see it at a future PPD.

Today I was listening to music and suddenly found myself engaging in what I've realized to be my favorite form of moving meditation - dancing. Only I've never danced this way before. Usually my dance moves are inspired by pop music, tribal fusion, and belly dance. Oh and I've got a little Beatles head wobble and Cotton Eye Joe too. :P But tonight... I just... I let go completely and just ... threw my body around? I suppose that makes it sound violent which it wasn't. I was just literally dancing like nobody was watching and throwing myself into a very tribal sounding piece by a favorite band of mine called Faun. The song was Lynansa and it has a pulsing, chanting energy that made my body want to jerk forward and backwards while simultaneously swaying from right to left. The repetitive motion very nearly took me somewhere else - until I realized what was happening. I HATE that! It happens so often to me lately! Whenever I'm just about to break into a deep trance or, perhaps, astrally project, my body snaps out of it. It's frustrating... However I must be optimistic and admit a minor victory in that I think I truly felt what it meant to trance dance.

It was also an amazing workout...

In other news, I rather liked this top-5 list of best environmental films! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sylvia Lake

My husband and I explored Sylvia Lake. It's off RT 8-12, near Gouverneur, NY. The lake was frozen and lovely. I attempted to write a short poem about it as a visualization practice but it's goofy and not something I want to share. Still, I think it helped me crystalize the imagery in my head. I recommend the practice to anyone who wants to remember a time or a place.

Anyway, we took some photos. The public swimming and picnic area was closed off but we were able to get a few shots of the lake. My husband, a former photography major, wasn't very pleased with them, though.

There was also a lovely, massive boulder covered in graffiti. I liked it for some reason... I've always liked things that made me feel small. It's comforting.

It was a fun area to explore and it felt nice to be outside with the Nature Spirits. I look forward to the summer when we can go swimming and get some nicer photos of the lake.

Friday, January 1, 2010


It seems to be working. My LJ is private. I use it to keep in touch with people I know and/or trust. It allows me to share intimate details about my life. I want my "North Country Pagan" blog to remain private while being open to the public if that makes sense. I want to post my Pagan thoughts and experiences but in a way that is anonymous and accessible. At the same time, I want to share those with my friends through lj. Now I can save time copying and pasting!

Thanks to my clever husband for the help.



Testing... see if I can have my blogger posts go directly to lj.


I'm going to put in more of an effort when it comes to bringing reusable bags with me while shopping. I need to remember to say "no thank you" when a cashier starts to bag an item. If I forget my bags, I need to buy less and carry it out in my hands/purse or not purchase anything at all. That would certainly help my wallet. :P

I also want to only buy eco-friendly cleaning products and even attempt to make some of my own.

Also, I want to learn to bike. This sounds so stupid, I'm sure, but I rarely biked as a youngster. I was scared without training wheels so I gave up. Now I'm more determined than ever to improve so that I can bike to work. (When it's not crappy out.)

In addition, I want to continue the environmentally friendly practices I'm developing - composting, gardening more and more, recycling, using cloth towels more than paper, etc... I'm proud of how far I've come. It's both a little and a lot... I guess.

Spiritually I want to spend more time meditating and even improve my divinatory practices. I really let those fall to the wayside.

Happy secular New Year everyone!

Full Moon Meditation

I'm an ADF Druid. I tried OBOD but it just wasn't the best fit for me. That said, OBOD has a great many things I find of value. One gem I found while researching what I could possibly do to commemorate the moon was meditate on world peace. A lot of people seem to practice healing magic during the full moon (because it's at its climax and will decrease). Focusing on world peace is a lot like healing.

Now, I'm not so naive as to think that there can ever be total world peace. I've read enough history and know my own nature. But I think you can agree that it would be nice, or that, at least, there are some places that could be more peaceful. I started to focus on that and quickly began to think about how peace should begin at home. I need to work on being my own internal peacekeeper. I'm a passionate person and this sometimes translates to anger and hostility. I need to work on stepping back and taking a breath.

I also thought a lot about what the moon means to me in terms of Druidism. Is it just a symbol? Should I think of it as an eye watching over me, like the sun? Is Airinhod (sp?) really a lunar type deity? I've done little work with Welsh Gods. I should do more research...

Moons and Meditations

(I posted this to my old lj a couple days ago... I figured I should put it here...)

There's supposed to be a full moon tomorrow. My friend and fellow Pagan, Katrina, challenged MVPN members to work with the moon each month for a year. I'm going to try and take her up on that. I've always loved the moon and I've often thought about meditating on it. I think I may try what OBOD suggests and meditate on world peace during days of the full moon. The Henge of Keltria often focuses on healing and that fits in nicely with the theme. I'm not sure what to do on New Moons... Maybe internal or other magical work?

I meditated last night and had a pretty successful ... journey? I don't know. It felt like a waking lucid dream perhaps... I blame the glass of wine I had immediately before I began. I was fully in an internal world of my making - my own dream nemeton - and was able to make decisions and communicate but at the same time I felt pulled by things. I ended up visiting a rock Katrina often leads us to in guided meditations. I've been visiting for years and I always find An Dagda there. He had a lot to say about my tribe. I then found Brighid and she encouraged me to work on more artistic pursuits, especially in regards to Druidism. Lugh appeared and he demanded offerings... I don't often experience things like that. Perhaps I will also do that tomorrow? He does deserve it. I pray to him whenever Ron or I go somewhere. I thank him when we arrive but, considering that we discovered only one of our brakes was functioning for months... He really does deserve more.