Friday, July 30, 2010

Just a Few Things

1) Here's an interesting if brief article on "spiritual blockage."

2) The incessant coughing I have is apparently caused by seasonal allergies - something that I've never officially been diagnosed with until now.  Bugger all.  I was always so happy to be in the minority of adults who didn't have to deal with allergies.  Why do I suddenly have them?  Did I not spend enough time outside?  Now I have all these bills and a nasal spray...  Bugger all.  I'm happy that I should find relief but I'm displeased with yet another medicine.  I'm really motivated to get a neti pot and make my father's infamous but effective tincture now.  I don't want to be part of the drugged up majority...  As it is, I would love to get off birth control but am uncertain of the medical implications that would have on me (I was put on it for medical reasons to begin with).  Too much environmental damage from the packaging alone!

3) I found a toad-shaped button to represent my husband on the grove's quilt patch.  For those out of the know, the Artisan Guild is encouraging all groves, proto-groves, guilds, SIGs, and Kins to create a quilt patch that will be added to a larger piece.  The point is to have something representative of ADF to display at festivals.  I found a cat button to represent me weeks ago.

4)  Tailtiu, the doll and main offering I'm making for the Lughnasadh ritual at Muin Mound tomorrow, is nearly done.  I'm finishing the details.  To be honest, I don't think she's the best doll I've ever made, but she's also not the worst.  I'm not using any metal armatures because she will, I believe, but placed in the bonfire.  She's stuffed with fabric scraps which gives a lot more weight.  This is what's allowing her to sit properly without the armatures.  Her fingers, however, are not the same without them.  Also, her head is longer than most of the dolls I've made.  I'm not sure how that happened but oh well.  Expect photos at some point.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Observing Nature as a Meditation

Sometimes the best meditation is observing nature.  I found myself doing that a lot today at various points along the St. Lawrence River here in Northern NY.  I stood in the refreshing water and just was.  I watched the waves roll in.  I followed ducks along a dock.  I wondered at the thrill felt by a seagull wheeling over the misty water.

My annoying cough may make standard meditation impractical, but there are other ways to calm the soul and rekindle our connection to the kindreds.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When Meditation Becomes a Struggle

I strive to meditate daily, at least for five minutes.  Ideally, I would be meditating for 15-30 minutes every day but something invariably causes my schedule to become irregular.  Often it's fatigue, pure and simple.  I will either begin to fall asleep during my practice, or I will feel too exhausted to even try.  These are always the days that my meditations are a shallow five minutes.  I still do it, but the experience is more akin to a breathing exercise.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I want to move beyond.  Compared to where I was when I started meditating seven or so years ago, I'm leaps and bounds better, so I'm not entirely unimpressed with myself.

The annoyance of fatigue can be controlled by mental discipline, to a certain extent.  Sure there are days full of activity and obligation - days when overwhelming fatigue is assured - but for the most part, one can make a schedule and stick to it fairly well.  This is something I'm working on now.  But what about those aggravations beyond control?

I seem to have caught something over the weekend.  I wake up with a sore throat and I spend the remainder of my day coughing and feeling somewhat hoarse.  Physical discomfort is very difficult for me to overlook when meditating, especially when they include involuntary reactions.  Just try to breath comfortably and remain still while coughing every few minutes!  Congestion is another annoyance difficult to overcome.  When an exercise depends so heavily on a relaxed breath, congestion is the worst.

I've often wondered about Buddhist monks who meditate frequently.  Do they ever feel ill?  Do they still meditate if they do?  Can they overcome their physical ailments through mental focus?  Has meditation increased their immunity to illness, or are most Buddhist monasteries dedicated to meditation situated in very healthful climates?

I recently attended a real, honest-to-goodness yoga class as opposed to my usual exposure to yoga on Wii Fit.  Rather than having to focus on my balance, I was instructed to focus on my breath and that that was the most important part.  It is easier said than done and, of course, balance is still significant, but by not having to fixate on where my center of balance was in a pixilated yellow circle, I was free to attempt turning to my breathing.  As I contorted myself into occasionally uncomfortable positions, I found myself starting to move away from my physical being.  I visually focused on knots in wood paneling or the texture of the ceiling while paying attention to the inhalations and exhalations.  There were some poses I would have liked to spend more time in because I felt I was achieving some subtle peace of mind through them.  

I'm seriously considering more yoga.  While coughing and congestion may always get the best of me, yoga could help me build greater discipline overall.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I'll be able to transcend my more corporeal annoyances.  If not, I'll just do a shallow, five minute breathing exercise.  It's better than nothing, right?

( For My LJ Friends: )

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Time in the Garden

I did a lot of walking this weekend while away and unable to tend my garden, so I decided to stay close to home and pamper the domesticated plants today.  I'll get back to the forest later this week.  I have two new additions to my garden - a lovely pineapple sage and a hanging basket of various herbs. I was unfamiliar with pineapple sage until today.  It looks like a small tree and is just the sort of plant I've been looking for.

I spent some time watering, trimming suckers, removing old growth, and collecting dried seeds.  I also rearranged everything so different plants have proximity to the marigolds.  It also refreshes the look of my patio.  I harvested a couple of tomatoes today.  I've got some beans that I plan to pick tomorrow and a cucumber nearly ready to come inside.  I need to remove the oak leaf lettuce and think about planting something else.  I also took an inventory of everything in my journal as a reference for next year.

I've found myself talking and singing to my plants a lot.  I want them to know how much I appreciate them, and I want to encourage them to keep growing and stay healthy.

( For My LJ Friends: )

In Anticipation of Lughnasadh

I love this song.

"Lughnasadh Dance" by Damh the Bard

( For My LJ Friends: )

Returned from the Faire!

Hello dear readers! I went away for a few days to visit some of the tribe and travel to the Sterling Renaissance Festival. Hubby and I go every year and always enjoy it immensely. As usual, Weretoad and I dressed up.  It was pirate weekend, but we dressed as ...  wealthy merchants?  Lesser nobles?  I dunno.  We wore nice outfits, how about that?  I wore the outfit my mum gave me.  It looked like this but in hunter green.  My husband wore his wedding outfit which looked somewhat like this but with hunter green accents rather than silver and Celtic knot embroidery.  I made us each pouches which I will display at a later date.

I purchased many lovely things.  I always save some money to indulge myself at the Renaissance Festival. I look forward to being more financially secure (if such a thing will be possible in the future) and buying a whole wardrobe or large pieces of home decor one day*.  Even when I cannot afford the luxuries, the numerous talented artisans annually inspire my imagination and encourage me to keep practicing.   

Anyway, I bought a miniature clay bowl for my traveling altar, two bottles of ink (one of green pigment and the other called "wine"), some echinacea root, witch hazel bark, coltsfoot, and rosemary incense.  My husband bought me a rose and an amazing sculpture to hang on our walls (Photo at left.  The sculpture was made by the talented Jason Bakutis).  It's supposed to be Bast but I don't get the Egyptian vibe from it.  When I saw it, I fell in love with it as a catsidhe or my personality incarnate**.  Art is all about interpretation, no?  Now I just need to figure out where to hang this beauty...  

We didn't see as many shows this time, which leads me to believe that we need to go twice next year.  There is just too much to see and do in one day.  I did, however, have an amazing discussion with the Earthcraftyr herbalist and self-proclaimed "ditch witch."  We talked about trance, flying ointments, different plants,  and connecting with nature.  I was so grateful that she took some time to share her wisdom with me.  I would love to take a class from her in the future.  

* "I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad..."

**  All the same, I used to be devoted to Bast in my eclectic Wiccan days.  She helped me through some rough times and started me on the road to being a strong woman.  I'll always be grateful to her for that.  We grew apart eventually; I guess she had taught me all I needed and I was sent promptly to the Gods of Ireland.  

( For My LJ Friends: )

Saturday, July 24, 2010


My new favorite blog, Adirondack Almanack, has a great entry about daddy-longlegs.  I knew they weren't actually spiders, but I had believed that they had truly poisonous venom that they were incapable of delivering to us.  According to Ellen Rathbone, a biologist and environmental educator in the Adirondacks,  those are urban legends. I've always liked daddy-longlegs.  Such fascinating little guys.  

( For My LJ Friends: )

Friday, July 23, 2010

Do you know what this is?

A friend of mine came into possession of an antique table.  It's covered in religious symbolism.  There are pentacles, swirls, crescent moons, silphium, and the symbols at left.  She's wondering if they're sanskrit.  Do any of my more vedic friends know?

( For My LJ Friends: )

Thursday, July 22, 2010

From my Druidic Journal

The silly webcam inverted the writing, but the focal point should be my illustration of what I believe to be a red-tailed hawk feather.  I'm rather proud of it, even if the colors aren't exactly faithful.

( For My LJ Friends: )


So it seems like today is bitch day among many of my blogging friends.  Allow me to join the party, however briefly.  I could use a good bit of catharsis.

Basically, I'm feeling restless and lonely.  I'm excited to have found numerous nearby activities that I would be interested in: meditation classes, yoga, some belly dance, art classes, sustainability lectures, drum circles...  But the same old things get in the way of my participating: distance, sharing a car, my husband's work schedule, and concerns about the cost and impact of driving so much.  We live roughly 30 minutes from everything except for my place of employment.  When we moved here, my job was the only thing vaguely familiar to us and so we focused on the village it was located in.  The nearest city is 30 minutes away.  A lot of what we like to do is there, not to mention, my husband works there.  Needless to say, the car we share already does a lot of work.  It is such a pain trying to plan anything on a day he is working because it would either require multiple 30-minute drives or me staying out for hours and hours and hours.  Or the usual which is me staying home even when I wish I could go to some function.  Either way isn't fair to myself, the environment, our wallets, or our free time.  It's really frustrating.  The hope is I'll be able to get a second car in the fall.  It won't really minimize my guilt over the environmental impact*, but at least it will give me some mobility when he's working...  The North Country really needs a makeover to make transportation more eco-friendly...

We would like to move closer to the city so that we're in-between my place of employment and his.  We probably should have seriously considered it earlier in the year, but we didn't because we moved a lot last year and we're tired.  Not to mention, we're not financially prepared to move at the moment.  It would have been a big pain in the butt, so we renewed our lease for another year and will just have to deal with it.  Or get used to it...  The native-borns in Northern NY seem used to driving long distances to get anywhere.  I'm more used to it now, but it's still a pain in the behind.

The transportation issues impact my other dilemma: I'm really lonely.  I'm lucky to be married to my best friend, but besides that I feel like I have no social life.  Our work schedules hardly ever match so I spend a lot of time by myself just hanging around the house in my pjs.  Really glamorous, I know.  We do go out together, but there's only so much he wants to do.  He gets tired after a few hours and wants to go home.  I would be fine staying out half a day in the city just to have something to do.  I feel like I'm missing out on so much.  It would be nice to have a girlfriend up here to talk to and hang out with.  Weretoad made a good friend up here and he spends a lot of time playing games with him online.  I've not really connected to any of my coworkers and, frankly, it's hard for me to feel comfortable about trying.  I get along with them and can make small talk, but I avoid deep issues that really interest me.  Because my religion is so important to me and such a huge part of my life, it's really hard to be fully myself with people.  I get uncomfortable when people talk about popular Christian holidays.  I always feel like such an ass when I twist the truth just to avoid an awkward conversation with a coworker.  I loved hanging out with my pagan girlfriends Imagickat and Parallax back in Utica.  I was able to be myself and feel genuinely understood on multiple levels, even when we had different sets of Gods or cultural inspirations.  And it's not that I would only be able to feel comfortable with a Pagan; it's just really difficult to be the complete me around coworkers who may or may not make my life difficult thereafter.

I'm looking for friendship in the North Country but it's so hard to find.  When I have more regular paychecks again and a second car, I'm hoping to attend the workshops and classes I've been learning about.  Maybe I'll make a friend.  I've also thought about starting a Pagan Meetup but they cost money - something that's a bit tight currently.  I suppose I have to make some effort, though...

Alright.  Back to lounging in my pjs intermittent by cleaning.

*I do plan to walk and eventually bike more to work.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Collecting Bird Feathers

I found some feathers on my nature walk yesterday.  Weretoad and I worked to identify the large feather, which I felt looked like it had belonged to a hawk, this morning.  After a lot of poking around, I believe that it came from a red tailed hawk.  Researching all of this made us aware that this bird is protected by something called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 which makes it illegal to even possess the feathers of native song birds.  I had always known about this law in a vague sense.  I really only knew that it was illegal for anyone except a Native American to possess an eagle feather.  I had no idea that the law covered everything from gold finches, to blue jays, to crows.  According to everything I've read, if someone is found with a feather (some people put them in their cars, for example) there can be a "hefty fine" or even jail time.  This law is applicable in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

In my research, I came across this wonderful blog entry by the Adriondack Almanack.  It explains the law, but then explores the difficulty in having to tell a child who finds a feather that they have to put it back.  The comments are also interesting.  A lot of people agree that the law has a lot of holes in it.  For example, if Native Americans can legally possess certain feathers (the red tailed hawk feather I found, for example, is believed to be incredibly sacred by many tribes), why can't Pagans keep certain feathers if there are spiritually sound reasons?  Someone devoted to the Morrigan, for example, would probably want if not need to have a raven feather around.

At first I shrugged and said, "Who's going to know?"*  Then I thought more fully about it.  Yes, it is stupid that a person who innocently finds a molted feather could get in serious trouble for having it, but the reasons for the law are sound.  The poor birds got into trouble because people wanted to use their feathers in fashion.  An artist who innocently uses a found feather could inadvertently inspire hundreds of people to seek certain feathers.  One thing can lead to another and voila...  you have another horrible situation like this.

Now I realize some of you out there are shaking their heads and saying that I'm blowing it out of proportion.  I am, kind of.  I suppose.  I guess I just decided that if I'm going to value conservation the way I do, I have to follow the rules myself until someone changes them**.  I viewed the feathers I found as gifts from the nature spirits.  I don't mean to decline them.  Instead, I'm going to accept them as a lesson in conservation, nature, and art.  I've not been feeling well today, but tomorrow I'm going to put the feathers back outside by my shrine after sketching them.  From now on, if I find a feather***, I will identify it, sketch it, and ceremoniously put it by my shrine to show respect and gratitude.

*I'm glad I looked more fully into this now.  I had an idea about making a blue-jay inspired bird and was hoping to use some feathers...  I'll have to make fake feathers now.

** I don't really have the interest in lobbying for such change.  I think Pagans should have the right to possess found feathers for sacred reasons, but I don't feel the drive to pursue the change myself.  At the moment, I think we have bigger rights to fight for...

***...except for turkey feathers.  They're exempt, as are the feathers of other game birds.  The trick will be identifying them!

( For My LJ Friends: )

Time in the Forest

 Crown Tipped Coral Mushroom - photo by Fanklin Creek

I spent more time in the forest yesterday.  I put on my jeans, hooded sweatshirt, and Vibrams and headed into the muggy, mosquito infested wonderland.  I also brought a basket, some offerings to the spirits, my knife, and a couple field guides.  I found several feathers, a quartz vein as well as a loose piece to take home, and several black raspberry bushes.  I harvested those.  I also found numerous beautiful mushrooms like the ones photoed above*.  

I was outside for awhile.  I feel more confident in this new forest - and more welcomed.  It saddens me to see the litter all over.  I would like to bring a bag up and clean again, but it is depressing to know that it will come back.  Sometimes it feels like litter bugs are in the majority.  I don't really know what to do about that besides clean quietly and live by example.  

*Apparently the crown tipped coral mushroom is edible...but I'm not confident enough to try it.  Someday I would love to take foraging classes and gain that confidence.

*And occasionally yell at people, albeit passive aggressively...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Energy in our Homes

Ok...this isn't technically Druidic in a cultural sense ... but it has everything to do with energy.  I believe that looking to and learning from other cultures, even ones dramatically different from our hearth cultures of choice, is necessary to grow.

I'm curious about feng shui.  The idea that energy flows in and out of rooms intrigues me.  My Irish ancestors must have had some beliefs about this, even if they weren't as developed or well-recorded.  They were a practical people, but they were also deeply spiritual and concerned with boundaries as well as hospitality.  For many, the center of the home was the hearth and I can imagine it being a center of generosity, well-being, and comfort.  Everything was there for a reason and had to be aptly stored as homes were small.

Photo from European Cuisines.  

The typical American home isn't set up like that.  The focal point of our homes is usually the living room.  Truly it is where I spend most of my time.  We have our tv there as well as our computers.  In fact, my husband's computer is hooked up to the tv.  Our game consoles are also there.  As a result, there are a plethora of wires.  Too many wires...  It makes me agitated and not just because they are obstacles.  Something about their presence feels suffocating and intrusive.  Perhaps it is the energy they channel, along with our other gadgets, filling the room.  I have a difficult time meditating in the living room, and not just because it is difficult to have any quiet alone time there.  Something about my ritual room with its minimal electronics is more relaxing.  The bedroom too.

I found vidoes like the one below on Craftster and have been getting some good ideas.  I'm also curious what the author of O-C-Designer would have to say about feng shui.  I think I have some rearranging to consider...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Sunday, July 18, 2010

As some of you know, I have two Facebook accounts.  Let me just say that the reasons are related to religion and privacy*.  One is dedicated to my Pagan focus and Pagan-accepting friends, and the other is for everyone else!  I received a friend request on my "real" account this evening from someone I went to high school with.  The name was familiar but she was not someone I associated much with and so her face had faded from my immediate recollection.  I looked at her photos and recognized the face but it was different looking - thinner and coifed by a bandanna or scarf.  All her photos were.  I looked at her info - links, wall posts - and confirmed that someone I graduated with has cancer.  I don't know where she is in her treatments at the moment...  but she is the first I know of from my graduating class.  It's sobering to say the least.  Things like this truly put life into sharp perspective.

* I should blog about this sometime...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Meditation Video

I found this on Youtube and thought it would be excellent for a novice or anyone wishing to relax or delve back into meditation after a short to extended hiatus.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Otherworldly Travel and "Inception"

I saw Christopher Nolan's latest film "Inception" with some of my tribe on Friday.  It was an amazing film complete with an intricate and fascinating plot, gasp-worthy special effects, and a riveting soundtrack*.  One thing that kept striking me were the similarities between the concepts of traveling into dreams in the film and the beliefs/teachings/experiences Pagans and such ilk have in meditation, trance, astral travel, and/or lucid dreaming.  I'll just bullet a few.

  • The characters in the movie had personal totems that only they held and touched.  The intimate knowledge of the totem would help its owner determine whether or not they were in the dream world.  Many people who try to "cross the veil" have totems, charms, or talismans for protection, the facilitation of psychic abilities, a connection to "reality," etc...  
  • "Inception" used architects, or highly imaginative, visual, and spacial thinkers who constructed dream worlds.  This is similar to the belief of many that safe houses/circles/groves/etc can be constructed in the Otherworld, or that your will can manipulate it with enough focus.  
  • Dreams are dangerous places.  In "Inception," a person's subconscious projections or memories can become hostile.  There are dangers in the Otherworld too.  Some Pagan authors, like Paxson, even suggest a practitioner go through therapy before beginning to trance** due to possible projections.
  • Cobb, Arthur, Ariadne, and company travel into dreams together as they all have a job and there is strength in numbers.  I've heard of people astrally projecting together, into other people's dreams and the like.  I've never experienced it or tried it myself but the concept is there.  The casts' teamwork also reminds me of spiritual teachers or guides.  Working with and developing a relationship with one is supposed to make your Otherworldly travels safer, perhaps even easier. 
  • There's one dream scene, when Cobb is first training Ariadne*** at a cafe.  He reveals to her that she's in a dream and things start to fall apart.  Cobb tells her to relax, but the dream shatters. I've never been able to dream lucidly, but everything I've read about it speaks of the practitioner realizing that he or she is dreaming and using that knowledge to manipulate the dream, to seek inner information, or to connect with Otherworldly beings in the dream world.  
  • As many of us already believe, and as is evident in the fictional world of "Inception," the dream world and what happens there is incredibly influential on this world.  

The film has me thinking more about the concept of the Otherworld.  What exactly is its nature?  Is the dream world the same as the Otherworld?  Are they connected so that one can lead to the other?  Could people who achieve states of insanity or coma be stuck in such a place?  If the Otherworld is really the dream world and we can manipulate it and create places there, are the fairy realms people stumble into something people made, Gods made, or the fairies made?  What came first?  Are we really just another island in the Otherworldly land of dreams?  Interesting and complicated questions.  They are the essence of many Pagan festival discussions, that's for sure!

* The song “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," by Edith Piaf is featured which was amusing because the actress who played the French chanteuse in the biopic "La Vie en Rose," Marion Cotillard, played Mal in "Inception." 

** I think anyone who has had the usual ups and downs of life should be fine, especially if ones talents are average and one has minimal danger of getting in over one's head.  If something really nasty showed up in trance, then perhaps...  but unless you have an unsettling background, I wouldn't worry.  That's just my belief.  As long as people can differentiate one world from the other and lead a productive life, things are peachy!

*** I loved Ariadne's character and the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that the director drew on the original myth.  

(The photos are scenes from "Inception.")

( For My LJ Friends: )

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You know what...

I logged into Blogger and saw my last post about Kirk wearing a mask and nothing else.  I was suddenly struck by inspiration.  That would make a spectacular doll...  I would probably have the doll wearing a sarong (I've not mastered fabric penises yet...*).  I will have to get on that...

* I have made one fabric penis.   It's one of my cats' favorite toys.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ADF's Chief at the Starwood Festival

I don't think he's wearing any underwear...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Ants as Outsiders

I believe the mystery of the ants in the ritual room has been solved.  What drew them to my den, you wonder?  Why, an offering to the Outsiders!

First, for my readers who are unfamiliar with Druidism, in Ár nDraíocht Féin's Druidic tradition, the Outsiders are the forces of chaos.  Often, in myth, they were the beings who had confrontations with our deities.  In Irish legend, they are the Fomorians.  In Greek myth they are the Titans.  They are also, I believe, any spirits, both corporeal and numinous, who are disruptive of our households or tribes*.

This brings me to the ants.  While not an infestation, my invertebrate intruders were a tad nettlesome.  As you know, they took it upon themselves to use me as a hiking trail during meditations.  Although I welcomed it as a practice in focus, and recognize that combatting such intrusions while meditating in forest or field would be in vain, it was a challenge to deal with.  Most irksome were the moments of contact just as the links between body and mind were at their fuzziest.  One little ant and snap -  back to "reality".  This says something about my experience, I'm sure.

I said that an offering to the Outsiders had attracted the ants to my home.  What I am about to relate should stand as further proof of the ditziness of this Druid.

As stated, in ADF we believe in the Outsiders as forces of chaos.  In ritual, we present them with an offering of sorts.  Every Druid seems to have his or her own interpretation and methodology for this interaction.  Some would say the purpose is to make momentary peace so that the rest of the ritual may be executed without disruption.  Others would explain that the offering is to keep the Outsiders distracted.  I use this part of the liturgy to acknowledge the powers of chaos in the world.  I recognize their importance as part of the cosmic balance, but I request peace for my ritual.

Since moving to my new home, I have been using a green, glass votive holder for my offerings to these forces.  There is no reason for the color or material - it's simply what I had on hand.  I pour a little ale or other alcohol into it, say a few words, and place it on a windowsill away from my altar.  Well...  I seem to have forgotten about it following my most recent rite.  The Outsiders, in this case ants, took advantage of my long-standing hospitality and started to use my sacred space as a watering hole.  I discovered this last night while cleaning.

The moral of the story?  Given that I want the Outsiders outside of my house, I should really take the initiative to place the offering outside.  As it can be disruptive of my mental state to exit my ritual area during a rite, I think it will be most conducive to open the window by the offering as a symbolic gesture. "You - yes you.  Take this outside and let me be.  Here's the exit."  Having to shut the window will remind me of the offering which I will promptly move outside.

*My latest experience is another good example of how the dividing line between the Kindreds and other cosmic forces can often be fuzzy.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Follow These Blogs!

I want to take a moment and promote a couple blogs just started by people in my tribe.  One is called Rambled Mind  and will be a place of art and ramblings by a talented individual.  The other, O-C-Designer, is a blog about interior designs, environmental materials, and doing so while dealing with OCD (by another talented individual!).  Please follow them as I'm sure they will be fun and interesting.  :)

Love to my tribe!

( For My LJ Friends: )

Monday, July 12, 2010

Inspiring Words...

I need to remember these as I continue to meditate.

Within the circle, ways of journeying into the three realms of land, sea and sky are taught. These are powerful tools for seeking wisdom and developing and deepening our connection with the earth. The techniques take time, as do aLL worthwhile things. No promises of instant success or enlightenment are made. The most significant accomplishment within the circle Lies in contemplative repetition, using its gentle rhythm to reach a peaceful state of consciousness for sorting through the cares of the day and affirming that tomorrow our work can be done in greater harmony with the world around us.

 Erynn Rowan Laurie
A Circle of Stones

( For My LJ Friends: )

More Meditation and its Validity

I think that meditating in the evening allows me to enjoy numerous advantages over doing the same in the daytime.  To start, it is cooler.  This is less distracting.  While I acknowledge that a practitioner of such arts should be able to meditate whenever, and that discomfort can lead to visceral trance experiences, I am still very much a novice (still...after seven years of on and off again practice...).  Another advantage is that most people have returned to their apartments.  The children are no longer playing in front of my ritual space.  The skateboarders have ollied their hearts out.  The neighbors upstairs have decided to quit attempting to be successful at Call of Duty and therefore quit screaming (very loudly) at animated adversaries.  In the evening, I'm better able to focus due to the quiet that settles over my neighborhood.

Today I did some drumming which helped to relax me.  It is occasionally distracting because I perceive my beat changing slightly, or the handle of the drum stick shifting.  Drumming while meditating is very new to me.  I want to continue practicing it but, at the same time, I think using an mp3 now and again will be just as useful*.  I also felt an ant on me again.  I really need to clean that room this week.  I don't know what the ants are so interested in there but it probably has something to do with the remnants of plants housed there during the spring.  The ant wasn't as distracting this time...but still...

Meditation went well for the most part.  I was better able to relax and experience a slight trance.  I say slight because some people have different definitions of trance and I occasionally falter as to what I believe...  Some say that a trance is all in the head.  Some say it's both.  Others that it has to be completely "separate from the body" to be valid.  I'm mostly in the "both" category as I've experienced each to one degree or another.  They were vivid for me...  I suppose whether someone else proclaims them as valid or not is meaningless in the long run.  What do you think?

* I'm starting to consider myself a slight technopagan...  Slight!

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Latest Work

Black Cat

Small Teddy, Big Feet

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meditation Practice

I settled into my meditation corner after lighting a cone of incense and took some cleansing breaths followed by a two powers meditation.  It was difficult to focus, at first, because there was an ant crawling on me from time to time.  I decided to let it be an exercise on focus but, relative novice that I am, it was a challenge!

I opted not to use my drum today.  Weretoad had just got home from work and wanted to take a nap.  I wasn't sure if my drumming would disturb him or not.  I tried to focus on my breathing and on the image of a triquetra.

Along with the ant, the heat made it difficult as well.  My ritual/art room has a wall of southern facing windows.  Even with the shades down, it stays quite warm.

In the end, I didn't achieve trance but I was able to stay focused on the image of the triquetra for extended periods of time.  I also relaxed myself quite thoroughly.  When I came out of it (mostly because of the heat), I felt content and peaceful.  Trance or not, it is good for someone with a fiery personality to reach that state.

I think I may try again later when it's cooler out.  I'm endeavoring to restrict my internet access and I think disciplining myself to meditate in the cooler part of the day will help me on both fronts!

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Spending Time Outside

I had to put my deep meditation/trance and magic exercises off for the weekend.  Hubby and I went to visit family and it's next to impossible to do anything like that there.  I'm able to do a simplified devotional with a really quick (if shallow) Two Powers meditation.  It's hard to get alone time when seeing family.  Even if I wandered up into the woods with the intent to do a ritual or meditation, someone would forget or decide that I must be done and start calling after me.  By the time the whole house/apartment is quiet, and by the time my husband has settled in, I'm exhausted.  Any attempt to meditate puts me to sleep.  I read a suggestion from someone that, when meditating while exhausted, one should focus on the color red to stay alert.  I'll have to try that sometime.

I tried to make up for it by spending a lot of time outdoors.  I took walks in the forested backyard.  I spent a lot of time exploring and studying little things.  I saw and watched birds with Weretoad for awhile.  I found feathers and attempted to identify them.  I tried to name all the trees in an area.

We also spent time in my parents' pool which was a wonderful medicine for the heat.  In addition to all that, we went to Old Forge, NY to kayak in the Old Forge pond.  I haven't gone kayaking in a couple years and have been wanting to.  Weretoad and I are hoping to buy kayaks sometime in the near future.  We so enjoy it.  Anyway, while we were kayaking on Friday we saw two loons!  It was fantastic.  Getting more in touch with the Otherworld is definitely a goal of mine, but I can't let that distract me from getting in better touch with the very visible, very tangible natural world.  I want to live in and experience both.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meditation Fail

So I was all ready to go.  I told my husband that I was going to meditate.  I had pillows against the wall for comfort and support.  The smoke of my incense was coiling to the ceiling.  I had my drum.  I was in the zone.  I felt my awareness fuzz and fade.  I let the drum fall and started to focus more on my breath...  Then I heard the scrape scrape scrape of a skateboarder who decided it was cool enough to practice some ollies nearby.  Sighing, I came back into awareness and started to drum again.  While I drummed I focused on the image of a triquetra, a symbol that has a lot of spiritual and personal significance to me.  Again, I felt my awareness start to shift.  I felt just about to fall somewhere when I heard my husband say my name.

I gave up.  He didn't mean to be disruptive.  I guess I had been in there for awhile and he wasn't sure if I was done.  He says I should make a sign.  I say he should make me a sign or just not bother me until I come out.  I was grumpy for a bit but decided to let it go.  Watched the first episode of an anime about high schoolers and zombies complete with horrifically humorous fan-service.

There's always tomorrow for more meditation!

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Into the Forest

I've recently begun to feel inadequate as a Druid.  I feel like all I do is read, read, read but I hardly do!  Yes, I've been doing my devotionals and my one formal ritual a week.  Yes I consider art to be magic and I do that a lot.  But...  I guess it's because I've been reading up for my Magic 1 essay for the IP.  I know more about magic now than I ever did, and yet I hardly ever do it.  And by it, I don't mean the everyday magic of crafting, cooking, gardening, etc...  Not that I'm overlooking its importance or meaning to me!  I mean the conjure up energy, focus, concentrate, shoot, charge, kind.  I did a few spells when I first became interested in Wicca.  They hardly ever worked out the way I wanted.  Part of this was probably because of how inexperienced  I was.  People would lose their shyness but then become so social that we grew apart.  People would attract someone but in a purely sexual way rather than in a loving way...  It was frustrating and so I kind of...stopped.  I still try to use positive thoughts and prayer...  But the last "high" bits of magic I've done were a year or so ago and, while they both worked and worked well, I've not felt the need to do much else.  I started to think that magic should only be used as a last resort, when all the "mundane" processes were complete and I hadn't any more "logical" means of action.

Well what a bunch of bullocks that is...  At least, that's how I'm starting to see it.  If I want to see something manifest in my life, there's no excuse for not doing a "mundane" action as well as a magical action to see it through!  Not only would it give me an extra boost towards whatever goals I have, but it would give me the necessary practice to increase any "psychic" abilities I may have.

That's another thing I've been worrying about recently.  Am I really cut out for the IP?  Can I actually be a proper Druidic magician?  Can I actually do trancework?  Divination?  I get so down on myself because I'm not constantly walking around with one foot in this world and one foot in the Otherworld.  I read about peoples' experiences - including good friends whom I fully trust and believe - and I think, "Well damn.  Why aren't I that good?"    I think it's, in part, because I don't practice enough or let myself believe in the validity of what I have experienced  Because I have experienced Otherworldly things.  I've felt the presence of deities so vividly that I could feel them hold me.   I've had a few deep trance experiences.  I've had one short out of body experience.  I've seen an unexplained being on the wall when I was little.  I've felt or known things that turned out to be true.  They were always around times of personal or family crisis.  My mother has a sort of intuition as well and has seen the fetches of her friends before finding out that they had died.  Maybe there's something in our blood and we just don't properly know how to use it?

Well I'm taking steps to better use and understand what I have.  I just need to practice!  I need to keep doing my rituals and devotionals, but also do more magic, meditation, and trance.  I need to get out of the house and into the forest to commune with the spirits there.  I need to connect deeply and, maybe, walk the paths of the Other World.  I need to use this computer a lot less!

I've been feeling the pull of the forest for weeks now.  I've been scared to go in by myself.  We've been here for nearly a year and I hardly visit the forest because I'm not the only one with access.  Children play there all the time.  People have paintball wars.  Some mysterious person used a tree as a bathroom.  There are cans here and there, no matter how many times I try to pick up...  I'm more scared of meeting the wrong person in the woods.  Humans scare me more than anything else right now.  Today I took a first step towards the strength I need to be the Druid I want to be.  I went into the woods by myself.  Twice.  I had a knife with me, which some traditions may argue insults the nature spirits, but I hope they know that it was more for defense against perverts.  I spent some time in the woods, whispering my intentions to the seen and unseen.  I relished in the shade, breathed in the pine, and enjoyed the sights and songs.  I came in later and did my ritual with a magical working.  It felt good.  It felt fairly focused.  It's a start.  I should probably journal about it towards my IP...

*One was to get a refrigerator back from the former tenant of a place we were renting, and the other, performed with a good friend, was to keep a flirtatious girl away from her husband.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Jason Miller, from the infinitely fascinating Strategic Sorcery, wrote a wonderful post about morality and magic.  I do think there can be a time and a place for curses, but I agree with him that they are generally not necessary or even moral.  Great read!

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Mushrooms in my Garden

I've got a few tiny mushrooms in my garden.  According to everything we've been reading, the veggies are safe and the mushrooms can indicate good soil and benefit the plants.  The shrooms themselves are not edible but the plants will not be contaminated.  We think they're conocybe albipes.  Pretty neat!

In other news, my interest in herbalism has been resurrected.  I've been attempting to study it more.  I want to learn more about how the Celts thought about and interacted with certain plants.  I'm looking for good source material.  I've been meaning to read Carmina Gadelica and I know there will be some in that.  But what else?  I read a really great essay by Erynn Rowan Laurie called "Goddess of the Growing Green: Airmid of Ireland."  It really inspired me.  While at Alex Bay, I found a piece of driftwood and I'm thinking of using it to create an image of Airmid for a garden shrine.  I already made a doll of Airmid, but she isn't suited to the outdoors.

This is an incomplete photo...  Her shroud has more color now.  :D

How many of you are involved in herbalism?  Any tips or resources you can recommend?

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Summer Fun in the Alex Bay Sun

Weretoad and I had another fabulous day in Alexandria Bay!  For those of you outside of NY, it was really hot today.  I've been begging to go swimming for the past few days but something always came up.  We were going to go on the 4th as we went to A Bay then, but we ended up finding a really great place to view the fireworks and had to defend it for a few hours.  I put my feet in but the swimming had to wait until today.  Gods, it was refreshing.  The beach is small but very clean and sandy.  The water is green on account of all the seaweed in the St. Lawrence, but it is fine otherwise.  I smell a bit like fish but I can live with that.

We've grown to really appreciate our new home.  Yes we miss our friends and family and yes the mile after mile of flat fields is a bit underwhelming for us, but there are some great perks to Northern NY.  Our proximity to Alexandria Bay is a very big one.  Yes it's a tad touristy, but if you can overlook that and just spend time in the parks overlooking the islands amidst the swaying, sparkling river... it starts to feel a bit like paradise.

Weretoad and I like to watch the boats and dream of a time when we can have our own.  Right now we really want kayaks.  My plan was to buy one this year but that fell through.  Perhaps in the fall when I have a little more money.  There are a few rivers up here: the St. Lawrence, the Black River, and the Indian River.  There may even be more.  I would like to explore them - physically and spiritually.  What did the Native American people believe about them?  What experiences did they and the settlers have with them?  What spirits, old and new, swim in them today?  What about the shipwrecks?  Is there negative energy around them?

Oh goodness, that's another thing - I would love to go scuba diving in the St. Lawrence, but I also fear it.  Weretoad and I have this love-hate relationship with large bodies of water.  We like to swim in them, but we also fear the unknown.  I know there aren't supposed to be any sharks or poisonous jelly fish in the St. Lawrence ... but what if there are sea monsters?  Or angry shipwreck ghosts?!  When we watch the boats, we sometimes wonder what would happen if a kraken appeared...  Yes, I know.  We're odd.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July

The latest post on The Wild Hunt inspired me.  Today I did a formal ritual to honor, well, the spirit of America*.  Most people who know me realize I'm not the most patriotic person in the world.  I'm proud of my country, but not blind to its offenses.  I also don't fly a million little flags around my yard like some of my neighbors **.  That said, I'm not afraid to say that I feel lucky to live where I live.  I read a lot of environmental and human rights news and, frankly, so many people have it way worse than us.  We have our faults, that's for sure, but at least most of us are relatively comfortable and, well, safe!  It's a shame that we have corporations who exploit developing nations and our own environment, and it's a shame that some of our ancestors did unspeakable things to the indigenous people who lived here first, but there's also a lot of good in America and I can think of that and celebrate it today.

Just as in my ritual, let me post it to my blog:

Hail to the spirits of America!
Hail to its Nature Spirits!  Hail to the high-flying, majestic bald eagle!  Hail to the forest turkey!  Hail to the river otters, moose, white tailed deer, squirrels, chipmunks, black bears, mountain lions, wolves, and bobcats!  Hail to the kangaroo rats, the coyotes, the scorpions, and roadrunners.  Hail to the great blue herons, the salmon, the monarch butterflies, the black widow spiders, and the alligators.  Hail to the sea turtles, the dolphins, the tuna, and the pelicans.  Hail to the ants, the bees, and the bats!  Hail to the unseen spirits who were here first and who came over with our ancestors!  Hail to you all and may we live in better harmony with you!

Hail to America's ancestors!  Hail to the Native American ancestors!  May we grow in friendship.  Hail to our immigrant ancestors!  May we remember where we came from.  Hail to the friends and family we knew in America, and hail to those who fought for our country - especially those whose intentions  and actions were honorable.  May we learn from your triumphs and mistakes.

Hail to the Gods of America!  Hail to the Gods of the Native Americans, and hail to the Gods of our ancestors!  Hail to Lady Liberty!  May we bring honor to you in all we say and do.

May we admit to our faults and work to improve them.  May we help the less fortunate, and welcome them to our country.  May we celebrate our diversity and learn to live together in peace.  May we develop better technologies so that we can live in harmony with nature.

So be it!

* As you may recall, I've been doing one formal ADF ritual a week.  I was cutting it close by leaving it until today, but I made it!

** Ahh...military towns...

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Most Recent Arts and Crafts

So here's what I did all week:

I did not make these from scratch.  These are altered.  Both were dresses.  The top was a dress that was a liiiiittle too short for my taste/comfort.  I shortened it and now have a dressy short-sleeved top.  I may shorten it some more...  I'm not sure how I feel about the length...  The skirt is also a former dress.  Of sorts.  I say that because it was a really wonky ... part dress and part apron ... thing.  I couldn't have worn it without a top under it unless I wanted my breasts peeking out every three seconds.  I didn't like how it looked with a top under it.  Too... Mennonite for me.  Snip snip snip, and voila!  A cute skirt. 

This is a needle book I made.  Inside are a wide assortment of implements that could be used to sew a hem or an open wound.  You can't see it well, but this project finally allowed me to use the cute sewing machine and scissor buttons my husband gave me for Yule.  This project was great for using up some small scraps, is very practical (my needles are much safer in there than in a pin cushion), and was easy to make.  I like easy projects; they give me something brainless to do while I watch things on the internet.  

Behold the beautiful purple nude doll!  I'm so proud of the torso!  This is the best female form I've ever made!  So I'm no Lisa Lichtenfels - but I'm still pretty darn proud and am so grateful to Brighid for inspiring me to continually experiment and improve.  My plan is for this doll to become a grape fairy.  I've done a sketch for the outfit and now need to make it a reality. 

Finally, here is my very first skein of hand-spun yarn!  It's a natural grey and has some lumpy areas - but I'm super proud of it!  

Next on the crafting agenda: 

  • An outfit for the grape fairy
  • A Tailtu doll
  • Bring in another altered dress
  • Finish another pair of socks
  • Begin Yule presents 
  • Renaissance Fair accessories

( For My LJ Friends: )
I visited a local greenhouse and procured some new additions for my garden.  I bought some spinach seeds as well as a habanero pepper plant, some kale, and salvia.  The later adds some lovely purple to my garden and should be welcomed by the many butterflies that flit around.  (I saw a yellow swallowtail an hour or so ago...) I also bought some more bird seed.  The cats and I love watching our winged neighbors as they visit the patio.  There's a pair of gold finches who are my favorites.

The garden looks amazing right now.  I would't mind getting/planning some more.  I may try more beans since the first batch seem to be getting tired.  I can't wait until we have our own land and we can have a larger garden of raised beds and fruit trees.  *sigh*  Someday...

It is such a lovely day.   I hope the rest of you are out enjoying it as much as I've been!

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Friday, July 2, 2010

A Day in the Adirondacks

My husband and I, rather spontaneously, decided to visit The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY.  It was the second time we've been and was just as fun as the last time!  There were a few new additions, such as an impressive, stuffed moose in the great hall, a farmers market (open only on Thursdays), and a dry area for the otters to play in.  Ah, the otters.  They really are one of the best parts!  I also enjoyed rummaging around the naturalist cabinets.  As you can see in the photo at left, I'm holding a raven skull.  Not pictured is the crow skull.  It's amazing to see the difference in size!

We took a walk around the pond but decided not to visit the other, longer nature trails.  Unfortunately we dressed for warm weather and it was a bit chilly at times.  We went to the farmers market on sight, though, and that was nicely sheltered from the wind.  There were a lot of artisans there and I received a lesson in spinning yarn with a drop spindle which I bought, along with half a pound of roving.  I've already spun my first small skein!  It was a tad frustrating at first, but I think I'm getting the hang of it!  I cannot wait to order more roving!  In the meantime, my first skein is setting in the craft room.  What should I do with it?

After our adventures in Tupper Lake, we made the short drive to Saranac Lake.  I hadn't been there in a couple years and I really missed it.  There was a time when I really wanted to live there.  I won't lie and say I wouldn't consider the opportunity, but the winters must be horrific with all the steep, hilly streets, and we would be even further away from my tribe in the Mohawk Valley.  It's still a favorite place to visit.  I would have liked to stay longer and swim or kayak in one of the lakes, but it was late so we made do with browsing the boutiques and eating dinner.  We found an amazing shop specializing in eco couture.  I only ever see fashionable eco clothing online.  Everything sold in health food stores is always really, really casual and not work appropriate.  I can't wait to visit again with a good paycheck in my pocket!  We ate at Nori's Village Market which is Saranac Lake's health food store and cafe.  We had vegan borritos, soup, and ice cream sandwiches.  Mmmm...  

Following that, we decided to drive to Lake Placid, NY.  It's a very busy, very popular Adirondack destination.  We just drove through.  There are some new shops and restaurants since the last time I was there.  Sadly, the old used bookstore is now gone...  The trip was worth it to see some of the high peaks in the distance.  Weretoad and I have this fantasy of climbing them all one day.  Considering how much mountain climbing and camping we've done, we're not well on our way to meeting that goal...  

The day was wonderful.  It felt great to be back in the Adirondacks, even if we weren't as "outdoorsy" as either of us would have liked.  We're already conspiring to go back for swimming, kayaking, and hiking.  Another perk to living in Northern NY - we are SO much closer to the heart and the majesty of the Adirondacks!  

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Sexy Nymphs

This painting was totally hanging over my honeymoon bed!  I would love a copy of it...  It looks like a Waterhouse...  

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Divination LOL

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ADF Veggies

Huzzah!  ADF Veggies, a group just for the vegetarians and vegans of ADF, has a few new members!  Things are starting off slow, but at least there is *some* interest! :)  If you're a veggie, please join!

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