Monday, May 31, 2010

"Ditzy Druid?" Why the Name Change?

Hello readers!  I'm back, safe and sound, from my wonderful weekend at Wellspring.  I'll post more about that later. I have a lot to share! :)

Right now I wanted to explain the name change.  When I first started this blog, it was called "Grey Catsidhe's Den."  This was really a place holder until I could find something better.   When I moved to Northern NY, "North Country Pagan" seemed okay for a time.  Indeed, I was once considering making Pagan culture in the North Country (or lack thereof) the focus of this blog.  However, things did not turn out that way.  This quickly became a place for my personal progress, reflections, and rantings.  It became more general.  I wanted a better title but I couldn't think of one.

At Wellspring, the annual ADF Druid festival hosted by Stone Creed Grove at the Brushwood Folklore Center, I had the pleasure of seeing old friends and meeting people I've only ever known online.  I was full of emotions - insecurity, excitement, joy, and shyness.  I found myself occasionally saying things that, upon later reflection, seemed really goofy.  Most were because of excitement and/or sleep deprivation.  I lamented to my husband, let's just call him Weretoad, that am so ditzy.

Now my husband has often told me that I'm ditzy.  This isn't really insulting because he also tells me I'm quite smart - and I know I'm smart in some ways.  I have a college degree, have completed my DP, am very self-motivated, and love to learn.  All the same, I say and do goofy things that make me look, well, ditzy!  Can a Druid, an icon of intelligence and eloquence, also be ditzy? This blog will help me explore my own faults, growth, and the fun I have along the way.

"But Grey!" you cry, "By calling yourself a 'ditzy Druid,' you'll be giving yourself a label that will possibly stick!  Is it really okay to be so self depreciating?"  I asked Weretoad what he thought on the way home, before I made the change.  I explained to him my concerns but he thought the title was perfect.    Really, it is.  I am a ditzy Druid - a mixture of eccentric silliness and child-like whimsy with serious respect and study.  Perhaps, by accepting this aspect of my personality, my insecurity will improve.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

'Twas the night before Wellspring...

I guess I'm as ready for Wellspring as I'll ever be.  I spent the last several hours rushing to get tags on my dolls, clothes packed, and a car rented.  It's supposed to be in the 80s all week and I just can't tolerate being in a hot car without AC for five and a half hours...

I emailed Skip last night about just giving him the W-9 rather than scanning and emailing it.  I feel weird emailing something with my social security number on it, you know?  A game account of mine was recently hacked and it made me feel concerned about security.  I haven't heard back from him about it so I hope it's okay!

Ok...  here's hoping I can get some sleep!  I'm so excited to meet other ADFers and have a fun, Pagan time!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Musical Meme - A Place

Here is today's song of the day!  It's a song that reminds me of somewhere.  It's called "The Old Ways" by Loreena McKennitt.  Whenever I hear it, my mind wanders to Cornwall.  It's probably one of my favorite places in the world.  I was able to explore a bit of Penzance, Mousehole, and Marazion.  It was alive in a very different way than London, and I really felt closer to the native Nature Spirits there.  It was also my first and last time swimming in the ocean.  I miss it terribly and hope to return with Ron someday...

Day 01 - Your favorite song
Day 02 - A song that makes you happy
Day 03 - A song that makes you sad
Day 04 - A song that reminds you of someone

Day 05 - A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Day 06 - A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 07 - A song that you can dance to
Day 08 - A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 09 - A song from your favorite band
Day 10 - A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 11 - A song that describes you
Day 12 - A song from your favorite album
Day 13 - A song that you listen to when you're angry
Day 14 - A song that you listen to when you're happy
Day 15 - A song that you listen to when you're sad
Day 16 - A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 17 - A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 18 - A song that makes you laugh

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gardening Update

The cucumbers and peppers are in their pots.  I added some companion flowers/herbs to some pots.  Transplanted the zucchini into a bigger pot and added a bean.

I need more soil.  The long container I got for the carrots is half full of soil.  I also have a few more pots and will require one or two more large ones for the other seedlings still in the art room!  I've saved a few large tin cans.  I think I may use those...

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Musical Meme - Catching Up!

Oops...  I've fallen behind.  I hope you don't mind my playing catch up!

Day 02: A song that makes me happy

"Alive" by Omnia. It makes me want to kick my shoes off and dance outside rain or shine! (Eee! Wellspring is so soon!)

Day 03: A song that makes me sad

"If You See Her, Say Hello" - originally by Bob Dylan

Day 04: A song that reminds me of someone

"Old Friends/Bookends Theme" by Simon and Garfunkel.

Ok... So only one of them was very Pagan.  :P

Day 01 - Your favorite song
Day 02 - A song that makes you happy
Day 03 - A song that makes you sad
Day 04 - A song that reminds you of someone

Day 05 - A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Day 06 - A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 07 - A song that you can dance to
Day 08 - A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 09 - A song from your favorite band
Day 10 - A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 11 - A song that describes you
Day 12 - A song from your favorite album
Day 13 - A song that you listen to when you're angry
Day 14 - A song that you listen to when you're happy
Day 15 - A song that you listen to when you're sad
Day 16 - A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 17 - A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 18 - A song that makes you laugh

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Lost - One Pagan's Perspective on the Magical Finale

Obviously, if you have not yet seen the series, please disregard this post due to spoilers.

I was finally able to watch the finale of "Lost" on Hulu last night.  I was really happy with the conclusion of the series.  Hell, I loved the whole story - plot holes and all.  More on that in a moment.

"Lost" had everything a typical Pagan would love: mythical references, characters who seem like protective spirits or deities, unique legendary creatures, ghosts, multiple worlds/universes/dimensions, a compelling story with wonderful characters, magic, and mystery.

That last characteristic, the mystery, is what has kept people watching for so many years.  It's also what has some audience members up in arms in regards to the finale.  Sure, some of the unexplained plot devices are a bit annoying.  For example, where was Walt at the end?  But for the most part, I can live without knowing a lot of the answers.  In fact, I was happy that they didn't tell me where certain structures came from or how The Man in Black somehow lost his powers before his death.  As I've already said to some people, most explanations would, I'm sure, feel contrived.  And as someone who reads and revels in mythology, I am perfectly content with magic and mystery.  Will we ever know the creation story of the Celts, for example?  If we don't, we will be fine.  In fact, it makes for a less dogmatic, more engaging religion in my opinion.  A religion is not the same as a television show, at least not at this point in history, but I hope you see what I mean.

So what if we don't know what the numbers meant, who built the temple, the wheel, and the well which was the source of light?  Isn't life full of mystery?

The final scene occurred in some sort of church but it wasn't of any denomination.  The creators made sure that the camera scanned over several religious icons and tools - crucifixes, menorahs, Buddha, Krisnha, etc...- to show that the Otherworld/Purgatory environment everyone had created was beyond creed.  Even in death, the characters did not know what the "right" religion was.  The biggest mysteries of life in general were still unanswered.  That dwarfs so much of the mystery of the island which, in the end, is a symbol for the macrocosm of mystery in life.  Who are we?  How did we become stranded on this planet and why?  The adventures on the island, while seemingly so important, happened because of what people believed - and in the end we don't know which of those beliefs were correct.  Everything is left up to human interpretation and, often, this led to error.  In our own lives, we go through our day making offerings to Gods that appear to us but not to everyone.  We feel that we are doing what is right but, in the end, who really knows?  We play the lottery and we may win.  Was it luck?  Fate?  Neither?   Is that drink you consumed in your initiation ceremony full of magic and energy?  Was it only in your head? We cannot know.

In the end, the characters, who struggled through so many moral mazes on that island, reach a point where they are able to let go and realize that the unanswered questions, the puzzles, and the rituals were only vehicles towards the bonds they formed with other people.  That was the point of the show - to exhibit that despite all the uncertainties in our lives, one of the only significant things we can come close to understanding and really experiencing are the relationships we create with other people (and animals.  Yay Vincent!).

I cried during the final scene.  How poignant to imagine that, after everyone you love has died, you are able to come to terms with the hurt or the unanswered questions, and just celebrate what you did share and know together before moving on to new uncertainties to explore.  To me it was very magical and optimistic.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gardening Update

Most of the bush beans are doing well.  The largest container is thriving and I already see tiny beans starting to grow.  The smallest and medium sized containers have flowers or buds.  One of the other medium containers doesn't look well and I can't figure out why.

My tomato seedlings are coming along.  The two patio tomatoes I bought seem limp.  It's possible that it could be root rot or something called verticillium wilt....  I have to get them bigger containers anyway so I'll see soon enough I guess...  In the meantime I need to find some sort of organic fertilizer.

The herbs and oakleaf lettuce is growing.  The three sisters container is slowly coming along.  Cucumbers, peppers, marigolds, carrots, and radishes are growing slowly but surely.

Like I said, I need more containers.  I also need more soil and some sort of organic fertilizer.

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Musical Meme

My friend cathubodva posted this on her Live Journal and it looked like fun.  We'll see if I'm able to do it!  A lot of them will probably be Pagan in nature which makes them appropriate for my blog! :P

Day 01 - Your favorite song

This is a tricky one. As a rule, I really don't have a single favorite song. I have a lot of songs that I
really like, and one occasionally conquers my thoughts for a day. But, I must say, this particular song has
always been up there on the favorite song list. It's beautiful and there's a thoughtful, if passive, esotericism
to it. I sometimes find myself repeating the chorus when I feel scared or helpless - a mantra for stability in
an ever shifting world.
It's called "Across the Universe" by The Beatles.

Day 02 - A song that makes you happy
Day 03 - A song that makes you sad
Day 04 - A song that reminds you of someone
Day 05 - A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Day 06 - A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 07 - A song that you can dance to
Day 08 - A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 09 - A song from your favorite band
Day 10 - A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 11 - A song that describes you
Day 12 - A song from your favorite album
Day 13 - A song that you listen to when you're angry
Day 14 - A song that you listen to when you're happy
Day 15 - A song that you listen to when you're sad
Day 16 - A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 17 - A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 18 - A song that makes you laugh

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Attempting to be a Fashionable and Eco-Friendly Pagan

 It was warm yesterday so I put on my new black capris slacks (so soft!) and a black tank with a lovely, loose scoop-neck short sleeve over it.  I thought my outfit would look particularly pulled together with all-black sandals*.  At the moment I have a very old, very worn pair of brown wedges, a very old, very worn pair of high heel black and cream sandals, white and cream jute wedges, black flip-flops, and all black high heels.  The latter I generally don't like to wear much because, although they are comfortable, they clack very loudly and are finicky if I step wrong.  In other words, they force me to walk a certain - very careful way.  But I wanted to look nice so I put them on and, shortly after, nearly fell on my face in the kitchen.  I grumbled and found myself praying to the Gods to lend me grace.  In fact, all day I caught myself praying before I went down the stairwell.  "How funny," I thought, "that I'm praying to the Gods to keep me upright when I'm the goof who decided to wear these shoes."

I would like to find a comfortable, classy, and practical pair of black sandals.  Ideally they would be vegan and more fabric than plastic.  I'm having a difficult time finding anything like that...  Most eco-chic  shoes are very expensive.  Tom's Shoes doesn't seem to make sandals.  I normally love buying second-hand or vintage but I simply will not wear shoes another has worn.  It skeeves me out.  I will probably look around the mall and see if I can find anything...  But I will continue to look around online.  I'm not completely against spending $80ish for a pair of good shoes.  I wear shoes until they start to fall apart, so if I can find something of quality that is more earth-friendly than leather or pleather, I will consider it.

Being a fashionable and eco-friendly Pagan is a very fine line to walk...

* I have to look relatively nice where I work.  No sneakers or flip flops!

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Love Gardening

I found a lovely local and organic greenhouse in Theresa, NY today.  It's called Five Cedars and is a short drive from my home.  We spoke with one of the owners - it's run by a husband and wife - and he was just so nice and welcoming.  He gave us a little tour, showed us all the products he uses, offered various advice, and made us feel like ...friends?  Connected through community?  Something like that.  My husband also really liked him and the property.

I bought a couple tomato plants, some cucumbers, peppers, lemongrass, a strawberry basket, and marigolds for pest control.  I need to get more containers - for those and the other seedlings inside.

Gardening is so much fun.  It's stressful at times, and by that I mean that I genuinely care about the plants and feel sad if they seem sick or stressed.  Every year I learn more about the plant kingdom and life in general through gardening.  There are small annoyances but bigger victories (most of the time).

I still remember my first gardens - little veggie patches that my father helped my sister and I make.  I remember harvesting tiny carrots.  Oh how tiny they were - no bigger than the tips of my pinkies!  Yet I was so proud and amazed that the seeds had transformed.  Something about gardening is very spiritual and speaks to my Druidic spirit.  Through gardening, I feel closer to the cycles of nature - the occasionally chaotic and destructive but beautiful and bountiful cycles of nature.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Books books books!

I need to find a new, large bookshelf.  My Pagan library is already large and I just ordered four (or was it five?) new books for my study programs.  Eeee!

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Reconstructionist Ideas and Environmentalism

"Pagan" and "environmentalist" don't always go hand in hand, but I believe that a majority of Pagans at least claim to care about the environment.  I am no exception as you should know by now.  I do my best to keep abreast of the latest environmental issues.  As you can imagine, this can become depressing.  There are times (probably some visible through my postings) when I succumb to the alarmist nature of others.  Normally, I try to maintain a balance.  I don't totally see myself as a luddite and I'm not sure what to think about the Dark Mountain Project, intriguing though it is.  On the other hand, I'd like to think I'm not as materialistic as most people, environmentally conscious, attempting sustainability, and open-minded to drastic but positive change for the betterment of Mama Earth and society.  It's hard to find a balance between it all, but I make it work most of the time.  I don't claim to know all the answers or to be perfect.

I think a large part of my attitude has been shaped by reconstructionist methodologies.  And by that, I mean the methodologies put forth by people like Erynn Rowan Laurie of the CR movement - not the racist, sexist, behind-the times version presented by some more "hardcore traditionalists."  For example, within the CR FAQ (which Laurie helped author), the definition of Celtic Reconstructionism is given as thus: "Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism (CR) is a polytheistic, animistic, religious and cultural movement. It is an effort to reconstruct, within a modern Celtic cultural context, the aspects of ancient Celtic religions that were lost or subsumed by Christianity."  The key of this definition is the phrase "within a modern...context..."  Whether you are interested in Celtic, Norse, Slavic, or Egyptian culture, reconstructionism is about adapting it for our times while remaining as true to the myths and parent culture as possible.  This means that, even if an ancient practice (such as head hunting) may have been acceptable, important, or even sacred to our ancestors, it is neither legal, appropriate, nor necessary at this time.  The practice becomes left to our ancestors and stories.  Except in extreme cases, I think we all agree that human sacrifice, head hunting, and cattle raiding (excusing, of course, for sport ;) ) are outdated*.

 There are, of course, some contentious issues among Celtic-inspired Pagans - such as the place of men in keeping Brighid's flame.  There are also people like me who, despite my love of Celtic cultures, use Reconstructionist reasoning to explain why I don't have to eat the animals that were such a staple to my ancestors' diet**.

It's easy for those of us looking back at a culture that was lost/altered to pick and choose what is and isn't acceptable to ourselves and society as a whole, but what about living cultures having to do that right now?***

That brings me to an issue I've been reading about a lot lately.  There is one environmental issue that has me more worried and more angry than many others - the destruction of our oceans.  To me, it's one of the scariest things going on right now and several scientists and activists feel the same way****.  Between the BP oil spill, the plastic gyres, and overfishing, it is enough to make me cry and gnash my teeth.  Overfishing, especially, just boggles my mind...

Perhaps you've heard of the bluefin tuna and how endangered it is.  Yet countries like Japan reject protecting it for cultural reasons.  Seriously, Japan?  How can you be so short-sighted and, well, stupid?  This is an endangered animal we are talking about - a creature that is linked to many others in the ocean.  We are losing our big fish, people.  The statistics are staggering...  Something like 90% of the world's big fish are dead.  And yet people continue to destroy all in the name of human greed painted as human culture!  If Japan truly values bluefin tuna and its place in its culture, it would allow the fish to repopulate and support the proposed ban.  Just stop eating it!  Is that really so hard?

Too often we hold culture up on a golden dais as something that is sacred and should not be tampered with or questioned.  Yet history shows us that cultures change - they have to!  It is part of what it means to exist, whether we change by choice or force.  We need to start changing by choice not for any particular culture, but for humanity as a whole and for the myriad of other organisms who cannot speak or vote or protest.  Japan, this a great opportunity to transform what the bluefin means to Japan.  Where are your Shinto beliefs when money is involved?

It's time for Japan and countless other cultures around the world to do as Reconstructionists have done with so many other outdated practices - leave industrial fishing to the history books.  ***** 

On a more positive note, Kevin Costner may have a way to clean up the oil spill!  It's people like him that give me hope for our species and the oceans.  Thank the Gods for good news!

* For more thoughts on this, read more of the CR FAQ.
** Not to mention, there are vegetarians who live in modern Celtic countries...  So what if I would rather eat the sacred hazel nuts rather than the salmon who eat them?
*** I'm not trying to imply that Celtic cultures are not living...  They are having to adapt and make new choices as well, but since they are largely Christian and/or secular in nature, their dominant culture is, I would argue, a tad different than the reconstructionist Pagan cultures showing up there and across the sea...  I hope that makes sense...
**** At the very least, watch that last video.  Sylvia Earle is an amazing woman and there is some beautiful footage.

*****I feel that I should mention, lest anyone try to put words in my mouth, that I am very supportive of small-time fishermen who work/sell locally and try to employ sustainable methods.  I just don't eat their catch. :)

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

History had it wrong!

Who says we know little about the Celts?  Psh!  Civilization IV has taught me everything I need to know!  Let me reveal what I learned:

The Celts founded Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism.  They built the Great Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and Broadway.  They invented gun powder and rock 'n' roll.  They successfully completed the Manhattan Project.  They conquered and destroyed China.  They were pioneers in liberalism and environmentalism.  They constructed the world's first space elevator.  Their immortal leader eventually became president of the United Nations (which it also invented).

Everything I thought I knew was wrong...

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sexual food

Me: You just don't like bananas, do you?

Hubby: Nah...  Not really.

Me: It's because they're phallic, isn't it?

Hubby: I'd just rather eat oranges because they're boobic.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Art Muse and Artsy Art Stuff

I've been working on forming a better relationship with Brighid in regards to my art.  I'm a fairly busy artist and am working on a project just about every day.  I've developed the habit of praying to Brighid when I start my work.  I sometimes forget until I'm a few minutes in, but I stop and take a moment to pray to her.  I thank her for the guidance and inspiration she's given me, ask for it to continue, and pray that I bring honor to her through my work.  I always light some incense as an offering.  I definitely feel that it's strengthening my bond with her, and I feel very blessed to have her look over my shoulder every now and again.

Tonight I spent some time working on a couple dolls - mostly accessories for them.  My favorite part of doll making is giving them personalty.  I feel like my skills are expanding.  I've taken up basic carving to make a spear shaft and a staff.  This definitely gives me the confidence I need to make my own set of wooden ogham.  I had thought about buying wood at the craft store, but I would much rather use branches from the forest near my home.  My friend Parallax recently sent me a link to Lolair's amazing ogham set on Deviant Art.  My carving and painting skills are so elementary that I don't anticipate making anything like that, but that general idea is what I am going to aim for, sans fancy illustrations.  For now.

In other news, I've taken on another mentee.  I hope to be of service to him.  My first mentee is often quiet and aloof.  I try to stay in touch but some people need their space and I am fine with that.  I just hope they know I'm always here if they need it.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Our Way of Life" by Zoar

I heard this on A Darker Shade of Pagan.  It's depressing but pertinent in regards to the oil spill.

EDIT: My husband suggested I warn people that this is weird and potentially offensive due to some of the images.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

"A Prayer for My Beloved"

This poem, by T. Thorn Coyle, is a reaction to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf.  It's beautifully written and nearly brings me to tears.

You have carried us, these long millions of years,
We beasts, we leafy fronds, we crouching walkers.
The ice has come, the ice has gone again.
Your crust has softened, hardened, cooled, and warmed…

Oh! Unsurpassed in beauty are you, lover!
I seek each day to look upon your face.
Your gentle wind, your raging fire, rain’s torrents,
And underneath, your shifting, massive, plates,

All seem to me a wonder.
Each day brings some new sound unto my ears,
And night, the scents: datura, damp, and steel.
The tattoo of my own heart thrills to you,

To heaving core, the molten, moving iron.
That so often leaves one shivering, or in sweat,
Between your textured surfaces and sky.
And then sometimes I forget you…

Oil gushes from your sandy floor, betrayal.
Chemicals suffuse once fertile soil.
Holes are rent above your southern quadrant,
Mountains blasted open, or felled clear.

And too many like me, on you dependent,
Your body stretched and waiting for a touch.
But solipsistic minds forget this knowledge:
That your skin is ours,

Your oceans saline quick, flow in our blood.
Lover, forever we can say, “I’m sorry,”
But actions speak far louder than strong words,
And we, though brave and brash, are also feeble.

Lover, I fall now to my knees before you.
I will not beg forgiveness, not just yet.
My good friends shall be gathered all around me,
Holding hands, we will make better still, amends.

Together, we will clean, slow down, and listen.
Together, we will sow and reap, and kiss.
We will arc around combusting star in season.
And learn to better love you.

So I pray. 

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Today was busy but in a good way.  I went to Massage Works in Watertown for my monthly massage.  My therapist says she noticed I didn't have as many knots this time.  I asked her about lomilomi massage, because I was curious, and she did some on me.  It was interesting but not something I would want for an entire session.  It's very intense and, in some ways, rough.  She only did a little bit, and I definitely felt like she was breaking through something.  My lower back feels really limber now!   Next time I might reserve a longer period and have her do some reflexology on my hands and feet.  They always seem to cry out in jealousy after my back and neck get so much attention!  Perhaps I'll practice some reiki on myself later to make up for it.

I also bought fabric for a cloak I'm going to make for Wellspring.  I hope it turns out well!  The fabric store in Watertown is just not as good as the one in Utica.  It's very disappointing and I hope it improves... They didn't have enough of most fabric, so I decided on a moss green velour and a gold faux satin for the lining.

Speaking of stores in Utica, I heard a rumor that Accents of Ireland closed.  Is that true?  If so, that is very sad.  

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Friday, May 14, 2010

A Productive Evening!

I'm proud of myself.  I've been so lazy all week.  After work I just wanted to play Civilization IV and watch movies/shows.

Not today!  I cleaned, sewed, cooked, exercised, and did a little in my garden.

Everything in the garden is coming along well.  Some of my beans are blossoming.  My squash and corn are shooting up (I'm experimenting with the three sisters in a giant tub).  The lettuce and herbs are showing.  I have some seedlings in the art room.  I need more pots for them!

To my gardening friends, what are you doing at the moment?  What are you growing and how?

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Cultural Appropriation: Yoga and Belly Dance

Despite the lazy spell I've been going through this week, I've recently become more health conscious than I ever was.  One of my new doctors (everyone is new since I'm so new to the North Country) had a short discussion with me about heart disease.  She looked over my family history, saw that it has occurred in my tribe, and wanted to emphasize what I could do now to try and prevent it down the road.  She validated my diet but encouraged me to exercise more.  I also know that my metabolism will not be what it is forever.  To stay healthy I need to become more active.

I was running (and intend to get back into that once my foot feels a little better), but my mainstays have been yoga (through the Wii fit) and belly dancing.  Now, between trying to develop a better spiritual grasp of vegetarianism and my growing interest in yoga, I've started to read more about Hinduism and Jainism.  How timely, then, that today's Wild Hunt post is about how yoga is Hindu.  Now, I already knew this, but the point of the post is that many people do not.  The dominant American culture has been stripping away the spiritual significance of yoga for years (hence Wii Fit yoga!, I guess that's Japan's fault...).  This is nothing new.  The Pagan community is well aware of the term "White Indian" and the negative consequences associated with it.  Is the same thing happening with Hindu practices?

One could argue the same thing about belly dancing.  Many in America have embraced it as a workout.  To others, it's viewed as a burlesque dance.  The history of belly dance seems to be part mythology - it's so hard to figure out exactly where it came from and why.  A popular belief I've is that it was developed by women for women; mothers would pick out wives for their sons based on birthing shape.  Whatever the true origin, you cannot remove the Middle Eastern heritage of belly dance.

This brings me to a new spiritual quandary: how can I practice yoga, belly dancing, and Druidism while being respectful of each practice/history?  I know I'm not the only one dealing with these issues.  In the end, I think the key is, as the linked article relates,  to be respectful and mindful of the heritage of a certain practice.  Try to learn about its roots, engage in the community, or at least give credit where it is due.

What do you think?

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Garbage Night

Hubby: Well... the garbage is done for another week.
Me: Thank the Gods!
Hubby: Don't thank the Gods - they didn't do anything!  Thank me!

How right my husband is.   :)  Can you image Brighid, Thor, Zeus, Isis, or any God taking the trash out?

Then again, was trash a big issue for our ancestors?  I would think that a majority of their "trash" was organic.  I know that archaeologists research ancient garbage heaps, but they're nothing compared to what we modern humans produce.  I know there are household spirits associated with cleaning the home.

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Isaac Bonewits

Most Pagans probably know this already, but in case you don't, Isaac Bonewits, founder of ADF and Pagan elder, is not doing well.  As Skip Ellison, former Arch Druid of ADF, announced today:

As many of you know, our founder, Isaac Bonewits, is suffering from cancer.
While it appeared at first that he was getting better, it now looks like
things have taken a turn for the worst.
This is from Isaac's Facebook page this morning.
" A very stressful day for both of us. Isaac's very weak from last week's
chemo, so he is back in the hospital for a few days. A very frank talk with
his oncologist was not encouraging. In short, the best they can do is
control his disease. He will not get well. If he cannot tolerate chemo at
levels that control the tumors, there is nothing else they can do."
" "Of course," she (the doctor) said, "miracles do happen." So, family,
friends and fans, we need a miracle. If there was ever a time to kick the
magic into gear, this is it."
Please keep Isaac in your thoughts and prayers as he and Phaedra both go
through this hard time.
Updated information can always be found on his Facebook page located here -!/isaac.phaedra.bonewits?ref=ts
Bright Blessings,
I'm planning to light a candle and say a prayer at the very least.

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I'm having a "meh" week.  I don't know if it's my body readjusting to a medication/hormones, fatigue from a busy weekend, the waning moon, or a combination of all of that.  I've been very lazy outside of work.  I've managed to exercise a little, water my garden, and began organizing my notes for different study programs.  Otherwise I've wasted time online and played Civilization IV: Warlords.

Hubby and I are nearly finished with the first season of "Rome."  It's a lot like "The Tudors" but set in in the titular city and during the rise of Julius Caesar.  Also like "The Tudors," it's not historically accurate.  All the same, it's a lot of fun.  The costumes and sets are magnificent.  My husband, who finds "The Tudors" somewhere between boring and hilarious for all the wrong reasons, really likes "Rome."  I think it has something to do with the two soldiers, Verenus and Pullo.  They're interesting characters who get into amusing situations.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

North American Nature Spirits

Mothers' Day was fun.  I don't have any children of my own but I was blessed to celebrate with my own mother.  I somehow convinced her that the whole family should go to the zoo.  The original plans were to go to Alexandria Bay but, considering how cold it already was, wandering around so close to a large body of water would not have been fun.  The zoo was the most exciting thing I could think of doing that didn't involve wandering around the mall - and we always seem to do that when they visit.  It was chilly but very enjoyable.  The animals were out and active.  The Thompson Park Zoo in Watertown is really quite lovely.  My whole family was impressed and can't wait to go back again.  Hubby and I used our new video camera but we seem to be missing the chord that allows us to upload onto our computers.  We also brought our camera and got some great shots.  Here are some of my favorite photos/animals.

A yawning fisher.  Isn't he adorable?! (Photo by my husband.)

The otter!  He was so much fun to watch.  (Photo by my husband.)

A male wolverine.  The wolverine is fast becoming one of my most favorite animals ever.  They're so much fun to watch and what they're capable of is downright impressive!  (Photo by my husband.)

An albino snapping turtle.  Isn't he awesome looking?!  (Photo by me.)

My husband took some wonderful photos of the bobcats but I don't know where they went...  There was only one lynx this time and s/he was sleeping with his back turned to us, so no good photos there.  Oh well - there's always next time.  They're putting in a couple new exhibits in the nocturnal animal building.  I can't wait to see what!  

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Pagans and the Concept of Evil

Ian Corrigan of ADF posted a fascinating and, I think, well-written essay on the concept of evil within Paganism.  It makes a lot of sense to me and I think it's worth the read.  It's pretty much what I think about "evil" but better than anything I could write on the subject. ;)

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ancestor Worship

I was going to go on an adventure today in the forests around Watertown.  My plan was to follow the map made by my grandfather to find my ancestor from Ireland who settled in this area.  But it's been rainy on and off all day.  Normally that wouldn't deter me, but my grandfather really wanted a photo of me and the headstone.  Truth be told, I wanted to take pictures anyway, but the wet weather is not good for my husband's nice camera.  I also wanted to take the video camera and film it.  Same issue - rain and a video camera are probably not a good mix.  It would have been nice to visit my ancestor's grave near Mother's Day, but c'est la vie.  I'm hopeful for next weekend.  I would really like to go before the weather gets too humid and buggy.  Not to mention, my grandfather instructed me that it gets very overgrown where the graves are so once things really start to grow, it will be very difficult to locate.  Failing spring, there's always late fall.  It would be really appropriate to go there around Samhain.  I'd love to build a small cairn and leave some flowers as an offering.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Grey Catsidhe's Pagan Music Video of the Day!

"Hymn to Herne" by SJ Tucker
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Website Envy and Other Things

I felt really ill yesterday due to hormonal issues.  I accomplished nothing after work.

I don't feel fully restored tonight, but I've already been more productive than yesterday!  I did some work on a doll and did a quick ritual to promote healing in the areas surrounding the oil spill.  CedarLight Grove is encouraging everyone to take part, even if it's just through meditation.

Speaking of CedarLight Grove, do they not have an amazing website?  I hate to say this, because I'm very proud of my grove otherwise, but I totally have website envy.  Ours looks really out of date...  Heck, even some of the information is old.  I don't even want to link to it right now because it's kind of embarrassing...  I really want to offer Skip a hand but, at the same time, I don't want to step on any toes...  Maybe he's just been really, really busy with ArchDruid business and, now that he's "retired," he'll have more time for that?    I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

In other news, I'm trying to clean the house.  My family is visiting this weekend and hubby and I have been so lazy!  Despite the existence of a designated "art room," we tend to bring most of our projects into the living room.  I think the problem is a lack of surface area in the art room.  I'm going to be keeping my eyes open for a table to put in there.  Maybe that will help?

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In which I talk about a traditional Goddess chant and my Celtic version...

I did this yesterday after fooling around with iMovie for several hours.  At first I just wanted to post an audio file I made using Garage Band, but that didn't work out as I couldn't figure out how to upload it to Blogger.  I realized I could make a movie, post it on Youtube, and embed it on my blog.  This is my first movie and is incredibly simple in that it's merely a picture of my altar, the title, and my audio.  Be nice.  :P

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Looking forward to Wellspring! *

Now that it's May, Wellspring is right around the corner!  I'm so excited to meet more of my fellow ADFers.  Yesterday at Muin Mound, I learned some very exciting things about Wellspring!  For one, Skip told me that the ceremonial installation of Kirk as the new Arch Druid will take place on Saturday.  This means I won't miss it!  YAY!  Second, apparently they're having a professional videographer coming to film the entire thing in the hopes of distributing it to something like the Discovery Channel for a documentary about us!  Holy dandelions!  That's so exciting if a bit nerve-inducing as well.  I would really love to take part in it but struggle with displaying my Pagan life in such a public way.  Someone at Muin Mound suggested making myself and my husband masks.  I think I'll do this.  We were highly encouraged to have ritual garb anyway (or just dress nice), so this gives me a good excuse to put together a new cloak at the very least**.

In other news, since Skip is now the head of the ADF store, I talked to him at length about the possibility of vending at Wellspring.  I explained that I didn't have a tax license and that I knew it was illegal to sell without one.  I'm just not willing to risk the huge fines, even if it's unlikely that I'll get caught at Wellspring.  After talking to Skip, I found out an even more important reason why one shouldn't sell "under the table," as it were.  Apparently there are vendors at the Brushwood Center all festival season, and they have to pay a hefty insurance fee to be there - slightly over $600 a year.  In my opinion, it just wouldn't be honest or ethical to sell under the table when there are other artisans legitimately selling and paying so much for insurance.

Luckily, Skip explained that ADF has figured out the consignment issue!  Thanks to some of Kirk's connections, ADF has a lawyer and a CPA.  ADF is now able to legally contract its artisans to sell through the online store and at festivals.  Skip gave me a contract to fill out (he said I was the first person to get one!).  ADF takes a cut and I have to fill out a W-9, but I don't have to worry about having a tax license*** (ADF takes care of that as well as the Brushwood insurance), and anyone (not just ADF members) can visit and purchase from the ADF store****.  I'm really excited and am definitely planning to sell some dolls at festivals and on the internet store.  I spent much of today going through my old inventory and  making new dolls!  I started two large dolls and am nearly finished with over a dozen little Goddess dolls.  Whoo!  I'm a one-woman sweat-shop!

* I know I've been posting a lot today...  I guess I just have a lot to say!

** My husband wonders whether or not people in masks and cloaks will make everyone look like loonies, but they're such an integral part of modern Paganism and general "shamanic" practices that, in the right context, I don't think it's a bad thing.  It's our liturgical wear, our neo-ethnic wear, and our mental key into ritual.  If people like to dress up and really express their inner selves during such a spiritual time, I don't see it as a bad thing.  I completely understand my husband's ponderings, and I often have them myself, but in the end I love dressing up.

*** We don't charge taxes anyway because of our church status.

**** I highly encourage any artsy ADF members to look into it, especially if you were thinking about selling anything at Wellspring.

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Let me introduce you to Sif!

Sif is a Norse Goddess.  She's Thor's wife and is known for her beautiful, golden hair.

Here is my interpretation of her.  She's sitting in the forest with her horn of mead.

Here is a closeup of her sitting in a tree.

Sif is a one of a kind art doll and is not a toy due to some slight armatures, beading, and chains.  She was so much fun to make and and I learned a lot as I went along.

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Some information on Bláithíne

Bláithíne/Blathnat,  the flower maiden and Goddess of the fields, is an apt deity to honor in May.  The northern hemisphere is waking up and filling with flowers instead of snow.  She leaves her husband (through arranged marriage) to be with the one she really loves, Cuchulain.  In the end, she's killed by her husband's bard.

Bláithíne is the Irish counterpart of the Welsh Blodeuwedd.  Although I have an Irish hearth culture, I'm more familiar with her story.  In this version, she is actually created with magic (out of flowers) for the purpose of being Lleu's wife.  I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about the Lugh=Lleu argument, but there's definitely similarities between the two.  It's interesting how Blodeuwedd is forced to marry the Welsh Lleu, and in Ireland, Cuchulain is, in some stories, fathered by Lugh.   I also think it's fascinating how, in the Welsh version, Blodeuwedd is punitively transformed into an owl.  The contrast between flowers/light/day and owls/dark/night is interesting.  It's the sort of duality that exists in Persephone.

* Image: "The Flower Maiden" by Henry John Stock.

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"It's May! It's May! The lusty month of May!"

My Beltaine was wonderful.  After a delightfully amorous morning, hubby and I went to The Mustard Seed in Watertown to enjoy their Earth Day celebration.  We got to try a plethora of products, including some eco-friendly perfume, organic cat treats (which our babies really enjoyed), soaps, and a micro-brewed kombucha.  My husband is not a fan of the drink in general, but it was probably the best batch I ever had!  We also had some delicious local baked goods and a grilled portobello sandwich.  Yummy!

We headed to Syracuse to attend Muin Mound's Beltaine celebration.  Yesterday was actually my three year anniversary of going to Muin Mound.  I made a point to make it to a business meeting.  I want to be more involved, especially as I'm going to become an official Folk of the Grove next month.  My grove mates have become such a spiritual family to me.  It's so easy to talk to them now, and I have so much fun.

The men went into the woods to find a tree for the maypole.  My husband went reluctantly at first but ended up having a lot of fun finding, sawing, and constructing it with Skip.  Hubby is one of those men who almost always has a knife on him and it was quite handy yesterday!  Muin Mound's tradition is to attach last year's Yule tree to the top of the maypole.  We dance around it to celebrate the fertility all around us and leave it standing in the yard to fill the land with more creative energy.  Come Samhain, when the harvest is over, the maypole is chopped up and placed in our bonfire.  It's a lovely tradition that really connects us to the land.  I wish we brought the camera to get a photo of our maypole this year.  It's probably the best I've ever seen!

The ritual was beautiful.  The usual nemeton was already infested with mosquitos so we opted to use the area closer to the home.  We've been using it a lot, actually, and the larger nemeton is generally bug free for Samhain.  It's sad, in a way, because the nemeton is so visually striking with the large central bonfire and bridge lit by torch-light, but the newer, less-infested nemeton is also lovely and is growing on me.  The second bile (sacred tree) looks quite proud with some offerings hanging from it.  There's also a lovely pond which works as the well!

As the ritual began, the sky lit up a few times and thunder rolled around us.  It was really something to acknowledge the three realms and chant "may the sky not fall down upon us" in such weather.  I took two larger roles in the ritual this time.  We have a member who always welcomes the Nature Spirits, but she wasn't there last night, so I took the part.  I felt so confident and just said what was in my heart.  It was an amazing feeling!  I also welcomed and honored the Goddess of the rite, Bláithíne.  I had an idea of what I could say, but in the end I read something prepared ahead of time.  I usually don't like to do that, but I've really never worked with Bláithíne before and didn't want to stumble or get her story wrong, even though I'm fairly sure I know the basics of it.  I felt a lot of wonderful things while calling to her.  I felt the strength of an independent woman who knows what she wants.  I felt the awe and joy of the plants all around me.  I also felt compelled to learn more about her and make a doll inspired by her to give to the grove next Beltaine.

At the end of the rite, the sky could no longer hold and it began to rain.  It felt cool after a humid day dancing around the maypole.  We were finishing our right so it didn't spoil our fiery fun at all.  We went inside and had a wonderful potluck feast.

It was such an enjoyable day and I hope everyone did something as wonderful!

May the Kindreds bless you this season!

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Beltaine! Have some music. Dance and be merry!

Blessed Beltaine, my friends!  Or Bealtaine in Irish.  I sometimes like to call it that because it just feels so good rolling off the tongue.  Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful day!  As has become tradition, I must post one of my favorite Jonathan Coulton songs.  FYI - it's NSFW.  ;)

What a great ditty. It always gets me happy and excited for Beltaine - in an immature, sexual kind of way. :P Truthfully, I'm already feeling the amorous energy associated with the day!

To get you up and moving around, here's one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Omnia! I's called Tine Bealtaine. Nothing like a great, upbeat Neo-Medeival tune to get you in the mood for one of the most important holidays in modern Paganism!

Today the husband and I are going to celebrate with our grovies at Muin Mound after attending an Earth Day celebration at The Mustard Seed in Watertown. Whatever you're doing, be safe, have fun, and may the Kindreds bless!