Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mama Nature as Drummer

The nights are getting much colder so I brought most of my plants in a week or two ago.  They're flourishing in my art and ritual room.  It looks a bit like a greenhouse in there!

Unfortunately, they can't exactly take advantage of the copious amounts of rain we've had recently.  I moved the watering can outside so it can catch some of is.  It's interesting to hear the droplets bounce off the can.  I can imagine Mama Nature's fingers tap, tap, tapping on it like a drum.  I feel inspiration coming on...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Busy Busy

Life has been so busy recently.  Since Pagan Pride Day, I feel like my schedule has been full of non-stop action.  Work, two equinox celebrations, Pagan meetings, more work, car hunting, grocery shopping, cleaning, pot lucks, Dungeons and Dragons ...  I feel like, even when I have a spare moment, I don't have the energy for artistry or meditation.  I still do my devotional every evening, though, and that helps keep me connected.  Last weekend saw me at Muin Mound for the Equinox ritual, and that counted as my weekly formal rite.  This weekend I will make time for another on my own and I'm thinking about using it to meditate.  I really need to stop and do nothing  but focus on my breath.

The lack of art depresses me.  I bought some materials to use for wildcrafting and sewing - I just have to have the time and energy.  I'm also trying to decide what I want to do for a Samhain costume.  Muin Mound is having a contest and, while I have no particular need to win, I think it's a wonderful excuse to make a new outfit.  I'm thinking about being a fairy.  It's not particularly original, but I want something whimsical and nice enough to wear to work.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Autumn Equinox: Part Two

Last night, I celebrated the Autumn Equinox with my grove.  I had a lovely time and, as always, am grateful to the grove organizer and his wife for their hospitality.  Every time I go I feel closer to my grovies.    It feels more and more like family.

We started off harvesting some grape vines for wreathes.  This was the first time I ever made a wreath so it was a fun learning experience.  My mum used to make them with vines from our forest; she made it look so easy and, while I suppose it really is, I think I was a bit too anal about it.  The plan is for the wreathes to dry until Imbolc, when we'll make "wheel of the year" wreathes for our homes.  We must find representations for each high day to attach to our wreath.  As the wheel turns, so will our wreathes so that the top of it will correspond to the high day we celebrate.  I think it's a lovely idea and can't wait to finish mine!

I also collected some vine for magical purposes.  Skip and I talked a bit about ogham.  He suggested that I make mine out of disks or else I could subconsciously choose the omen I want based on the feel of individual tree staves.  He gave me a thick piece of vine that I can saw into disks.  Doing this may mean that the energy of the individual trees represented in the ogham wouldn't be as strong in my set, but using a vine/muin to make them would strengthen my connection to my spiritual family of Muin Mound Grove.  I think it's fitting.  I can still use the rowan and oak ogham staves I made for charms.  Rowan, or luis, is especially good for protection magic whereas oak, or dair, helps with strength and wisdom.

The business meeting was productive.  I took over the secretarial duties and once more volunteered to help with the website.  This basically means I need to get a web editing tool such as Dreamweaver.  My occupation allows me to get a pretty hefty discount on the software so I wouldn't really mind.  I think of it as a good investment towards my own websites and as a sacrifice to the grove.  I'm excited to help out and hope I can meet everyone's expectations.

This ritual was the first since Imbolc that started after the sun set.  The year is growing older and the days have become shorter.  It was chilly and it felt nice to stand around the fire.  The mosquitos were noticeably absent.  The moon smiled down on our rite.

I'm already excited for Samhain!

( For My LJ Friends: )

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dandelionlady posted a lovely tutorial on making basic cornhusk dolls!  I wish I had this a few days ago.  :P

( For My LJ Friends: )

My Autumn Equinox: Part One

Yesterday I talked about what the Autumn Equinox means to me.  Now I'm going to share with you some of what I've been doing to celebrate it!

I've started to collect twigs from specific trees to create small ogham staves.  So far I've started luis/rowan and dair/oak.  I'm proud of them so far!  Here they are with some festive mini pumpkin gourds.

Some of the last summer flowers cut, bound, and ready to offer at a gathering I attended last night.  They turned into the table centerpiece!  

My personal altar with an autumn-colored altar cloth and harvest offerings.

Here's a closeup of the cornhusk doll I made.  She's probably the third one I've ever finished so...  she's not as impressive as some others out there!  I'm proud of her all the same.  I actually grew the corn that she's made out of!  Granted, because only two spouted and were grown in containers, they didn't produce large ears.  Still, I was able to grow my own offering and autumn decor (the stalks have been cut and tied to an iron post outside).  This dolly is going to be part of the main offering at Muin Mound Grove tomorrow.  Everyone was encouraged to make a corn dolly to place in the fire.

More harvest offerings!  Everything except the gourds were from my own garden.  I included the tiny ears of corn.  Behind all the flowers, fruit, and vegetables is a harvest Earth Mother doll I crocheted.  She's my planned personal offering for the big ritual tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to seeing my grovies tomorrow and celebrating the harvest.  On the actual Equinox I  went to Better Farm for a potluck dinner, casual "ritual," and bonfire!  What an amazing place!  I met so many wonderful people.  Everyone was so hospitable.  Sharing a meal with local gardeners, artisans, and free-thinkers; listening to a fiddler and guitarist tweak out an acoustic "Knocking on Heaven's Door;" standing in a candlelit barn; and sitting around a smokey fire while crying "I hate rabbits!" every time the smoke hit my eyes - now that was a great way to spend the Equinox!  

( For My LJ Friends: )

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumnal Equinox

I'm trying to be more mindful of the moon's cycles.  The past few months have found me more observant than ever before, and I thank my friend Imagickat for inspiring that. While checking the calendar a few weeks ago, I noticed that there was to be a full moon on the Autumnal Equinox.  It seemed like a very auspicious occurrence!  While there is little evidence that the equinox specifically was very important to the ancient Irish, there are numerous harvest traditions that anyone following a Celtic-inspired/Celtic Reconstructionist/or Druidic path can incorporate into their rituals, such as the sacrifice of corn to harvest deities.  While Samhain was viewed as the beginning of the winter season and the dark half of the year, the equinox could be viewed as a last hurrah for the light half.  I find it interesting that the full moon should occur on this day.  It seems symbolic of the coming waning of the earth's green, productive period.

There's a lot of change in the air.  The trees are changing, the mosquito population has decreased a bit, and the nights are chilly.  I've heard the travel songs of the geese on their way to warmer places.  Some of the plants on my patio have begun to die (I took several others inside ).  It is easy to observe the Nature Spirits change.  But what about us?

My vacation was over a few weeks ago, but it is only now that I'm getting back into the routine.  I'm busier and will only get more so as we approach Samhain and Winter Solstice.  I also notice myself being more social, especially with new people, in my new home of Northern NY.  The summer days of wide-spread, outdoor fun in the sun and day trips is over; here come the days of hearth fires, warm dinners, movie nights, and storytelling.  Here come the days of cold and, eventually, ice.  In other words, here come the times when we stay closer to home more often.

I always welcome Autumn.  It's my favorite season.  I can sense the energy - the magic - in the air.  The world is dying and yet there is so much potential for rebirth.  The veil is thinning and the Otherworld calls.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sorry for the lack of "Magically Mundane Monday" yesterday!  I have ideas for more posts in that series but life has been busy these past few days.  This week will also be very busy due to the Equinox and, well, work.

Expect a post about the Autumn Equinox later this week.  :)

( For My LJ Friends: )

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Central NY Pagan Pride Day

Yesterday Weretoad and I went to Central NY's Pagan Pride Day located at Long Branch Park in Liverpool, NY.  We had a lovely time.  In many ways, PPD has becoming a homecoming of sorts now that I'm living in Northern NY.  I love seeing so many of my old Pagan friends from Utica as well as my grovies who I only see for High Days.

I was really happy with the presentations by Patricia Lafayllve.  She gave an introductory lecture on Asatru and another on Freyja.  I learned a lot and later thanked her for her presentations.  The non-Pagan workshops were refreshing - especially since they focused on reconstructionist principals.  When I try to explain such things to most people, they look at me like I have three heads, so the education that was offered at this event was the best it's ever been.  Lafayllve's discussions on hard polytheism, blood magic/sacrifice, and UPG were a welcomed step in the right direction. Her humor, honesty, and open-mindedness made her approachable and fun to listen to.

Part of what I love about PPD is the shopping.  Having just got paid, I went to town.  Check it out!

I bought this beautiful tapestry featuring the tree of life as a Celtic knot.  Surrounding it are the salmon of knowledge, a crane, a fox/hound, and a horse.  I'm trying to figure out where to put it...  This will probably result in me moving some furniture...

This was apparently a big year in home decor for Weretoad and me.  We found a knight in shining armor to go along with our Medieval/Renaissance motif, a little plaque featuring Cú Chulainn, and a print of an ink greenman made by a local artist.  We also got a print of a goblin which is difficult to see in this photo...

I also purchased several ritual and wildcrafting supplies.  I had to get some incense ("sugar plum," a scent I just couldn't refuse, a spicy scent that reminded me of mulled cider for autumn and winter spellwork, and heather for general offerings).  I also found dragonsblood resin that I plan to use when I attempt making my own incense, and nettles for healing work.  There were representatives from a wolf and fox rehabilitation and education facility.  They were selling things to raise money for their cause - including small bags of wolf and fox fur!  Apparently the critters love to rub up against the fences and leave it there.  It's so soft...  I couldn't pass up humanely collected wolf and arctic fox fur!  I also grabbed a small oak branch with leaves and a couple rowan branches.  

( For My LJ Friends: )

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Old Grimoires

I recently listened to this episode of the podcast New World Witchery.  It's all about grimoires or magical texts.  I've been toying with the idea of making one again and the show inspired me to share some of my previous magical books with you.  At left you'll see a photo of my first "Book of Shadows," (red), my second (black), and my third - which was really just a pink binder full of unorganized paper.  :P

The original was a birthday present from my first boyfriend.  I asked him for a nice journal I could use as a book of shadows.  This was when I was learning about Wicca.  The page with the goofy illustrations includes a recipe for "Mabon Apple Crisp."

Here's a couple more pages in the Red Book of Shadows.  I was examining some runes on one.  I like the illustration of a cat behind a candle I did on the other.  The Red Book of Shadows is really special to me.  It was given out of love and I tenderly filled it with everything I was learning.  I don't often fill notebooks, but this treasure is pretty full.  I look back on a lot of it now and laugh at my ignorance - but we all have to start somewhere.  :)

Here we have the Black Book of Shadows.  I was maturing into a more serious practitioner and was doing more regular magical work both alone and with others.  This is about spell I performed with a friend using a poppet, candle, and mirror.

                                                                              More of the Black Book.  I was reflecting on Lughnasadh and the cycles of the moon.  This book isn't as colorful but is more thoughtful in my opinion.  I also started to include snippets from magazines, ritual outlines, and chant sheets as you can tell from the photo.
Finally, a shot of the pink binder - the last time I would attempt to create a "book of shadows."  I'm now more drawn to the word "grimoire."  I don't look down my nose at anyone who uses "book of shadows," but for me personally, grimoire is more satisfying.  I understand what "book of shadows" implies, but grimoire seems like a more widely used and understood term in magical history.  Plus it just rolls off my tongue...

Anyway!  The Pink Mess of Shadow Papers was meant to be organized...  I just never got around to it.  It was a collection of printed material (original and "borrowed"), hand written and illustrated pages, newspaper and magazine clippings, liturgical outlines, chant sheets, and pressed herbs preserved in contact paper.  I kept collecting things and, eventually, I had too much!  The binder is bulging.  I was overwhelmed and growing away from Wicca and eclectic Paganism - which is mostly what this focused on. I lost interest.  All three books have been sitting on my shelves.  I don't really use them now, but I keep them with me as memories.  I've carried them with me to each new home as I consider them to be a part of my soul.

I've recently found myself wanting to make a Druidic Grimoire.  I want to document this part of my life and have something more mature and representative of my beliefs to pass onto a child or apprentice.  My problem with the first two magical texts was that I couldn't organize things according to purpose.  I tried to tape tabs onto the Black Book of Shadows but it was still obnoxious...  The binder was supposed to help with that, but instead I ended up with a mess!  I want to actually write and illustrate it with my hands, though, so I don't intend to type it out.  I have ideas, but more on that another day...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Divine Poetry

Last night I prayed to Brighid, asking her to visit me in meditation.  I was already pretty sleepy so I quickly entered this very lucid trance.  I suddenly found myself in a forest.  The sun was shining bright through the trees.  I remember distinctly seeing a birch and quaking aspen.  There was a bright white stone on the ground which, for some reason, I fixated on.  I did not see Brighid but I heard her voice reciting beautitful poetry that I can't really remember...  It was about finding her, that I do remember...  Did I hear the fairy song for one fleeting moment?  I remember the power of the words, though.  I was hanging on them as they flowed so effortlessly.  I suddenly really recognized what was going on and I woke up.  Bah.

Still.  I heard my lady's voice.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Pumpkins for Samhain

Martha Stewart has some lovely pumpkin ideas for Samhain / Halloween.  Here are three of my favorites for fellow Druids.

Every year my husband and I make traditional turnip jack-o-lanterns.  The Irish really made these, so I feel a special connection to my ancient ancestors when I do this craft.  Get some pointers here.  These are believed to help scare away some of the more nasty spirits taking advantage of the parted veil.  There is also a possibility that they are a carryover from head hunting.

I don't know about you, but I love Celtic knots.  This looks challenging but I know I would feel super accomplished after!  There are two templates for download here.

Finally, some toadstool pumpkins!  How adorable and whimsical are they?!  I also love the swirl pattern on the wee pumpkin guard in front of the biggest shroom.  More tips for this project can be found here.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Monday, September 13, 2010

Magically Mundane Mondays - Part 1: The Neti Pot

This is the first of a series of what I hope to be weekly posts about a subject I've become passionate about - filling my life with magic.   To the uninitiated*, living a "magical life" must sound fruity and idealistic at best, and delusional at worst.  To many Pagans, magic is very real.  What people outside of the proverbial magic circle struggle to understand most is that a lot of magic is just a different way of seeing and interacting with the world.  Magic means intentionally focusing on the intent of an action.  Magic is very much living a purposeful life.  Although some of what I talk about may seem to some as an impractical waste of time, to me my little rituals and magical acts are how I maintain a spiritual connection to the world outside of ritual and meditation.  Some of what I write about will be influenced by Druidism, folk-magic, and kitchen/green witchcraft.  A few will incorporate other cultural/religious practices.

I'm going to begin by talking about the object pictured at right**.  It's called a neti pot and I've been using one for the past two months.  My father gave it to me after I told him I was suffering from possible allergies and wanted to obtain one.  It has been one of the best and most practical gifts ever.  This may sound gross to those of you who have never tried a neti pot before, but you combine water and salt to make a solution.  You then pour the liquid through one nostril at a time while you lean over a sink and breath through your mouth.  The solution flushes the irritants from your nasal passage and is very effective at reducing the symptoms of allergies and colds.  From what I understand, it is a Yogic practice but many Muslims also us a form of nasal irrigation.

"Ok Grey," you say.  "Yoga aside, what does flushing snot out of your nose have to do with magic?"

Everything!  First of all, healing is one of the most basic ways of practicing magic.  By taking your health into your own hands and using a natural method to fight allergies instead of using expensive drugs, you are moving into what I would argue is a closer relationship to the Earth Mother.  That's pretty Druidic!***

How else is using a neti pot magical?  When I prepare my solution, I go about it in a semi-meditative/ritualistic way.  I fill the pot with warm water and think on the fact that this is the combination of fire and water.  I add the salt which represents the earth - land.  Fire/sun/sky, well/sea, and sacred tree/Earth are present in this simple healing ritual.  They mix in the neti pot (cauldron of transformation).  As I stir the ingredients together, I perform the Two Powers meditation and direct the energies of above and below into the "potion."  I say, "By fire, well, and sacred tree / let this salt water heal me!" before using the neti pot.  Trust me, approaching any form of traditional healing according to your spiritual practice is really empowering****.

Finally, using a neti pot is a great way to prepare yourself for another ritual or magical act.  Many cultures or people talk of purifying baths to prepare for ritual.  If you are the sort who likes to mentally and/or physically prepare yourself for a rite, but you either can't or don't want to bathe, a neti pot is a great practice before ritual that can be combined with washing your hands and brushing your teeth.  Even if you believe that our bodies don't need any such preparation to enter sacred space, using a neti pot has a great practical use before ritual - it helps to alleviate sinus discomfort so long as you are gentle and make sure to blow your nose after using it.  As someone who often sniffles, this is a great practice for helping to remove a distraction to myself or others during magical workings.

*And by that I mean the non-Pagan people in the world...
**I wish I took that photo!  I found it on this blog.  
*** For all the whiners and nitpickers out there, I am not against modern medicine.  If someone has a real debilitating issue going on, by all means take what the doctor prescribes you!  I just think our society is a little too pill-popping-happy.  There are more natural ways to fight common allergies.  Even my doctors agreed with me about that.  
****Yes I realize this is a type of cultural appropriation.  I'm giving credit where credit is due and learning more about it all the time - so there.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Play the drum and meditate on the deer - the doe - the hind.  See her in the woods.  She runs.  Follow through whipping branches and thorns.  Follow through ferns.  Follow until you trip over a large root and lay facedown in the moss and moist soil.  Call out to her and she comes, looking down on you with big brown eyes.  She looks into you...  She has been waiting.  She gives her name and you see her image fade a little.  You can almost see the image of a wild woman with long, untamed hair standing in her place.  You have seen her before.  She gives you a job to do and takes the apple you have brought her.  She fades into the woods like a woman backing away and a deer leaping through ferns.  You watch her vanish and suddenly wake up knowing what to do.

( For My LJ Friends: )

Pop Culture Pagans on The Juggler

Have any of you been reading The Juggler?  For those of you out of the loop, it's a member of the Pagan Newswire Collective and focuses on Pagans in pop culture - tv, movies, and books mostly.  I really dig the author's most recent post about some of the best Pagans on TV.  I loved that she included Lisa Simpson.  How many of you saw that episode last year where Lisa started to study Wicca?  It was probably one of the best portrayals of the religion on TV I've ever seen.  I highly recommend it if only for the significance of such an event.

I also like that Lucius Vorenus from "Rome" is on the list.  I haven't started the second season, but I was impressed with the very authentic portrayal of ancient Paganism.  There might have been some imperfections that Roman geeks could have spotted, but based on my growing understanding of authentic ancient magic and polytheism, it seems pretty spot on.  

I was also happy to see Tara from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."  The show has a horrible understanding of what Paganism is.  It doesn't understand Wicca.  It's as if the creators read the first paragraph of a Wikipedia entry and decided to mash and mix that understanding with the standard Hollywood portrayal of traditional witchcraft.  As the Juggler says:

Why not Willow, you say?  Don’t get me wrong, I love Willow as I love all the characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  But Willow, like a lot of television witches, was a caricature of a witch.  She was an imperfect, magical, supernatural and most of all fictional character.  Tara, from the moment we met her at UC Sunnydale’s student Pagan group, always struck me as much more organic. Sure, she is part of the same mythology but she just felt more down to earth, more real.  Though there is no evidence in the story, I can see Tara attending a Samhain ritual and honoring the Goddess and calling the quarters.
I totally agree!

( For My LJ Friends: )

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More on Ahimsa and The Spirit of the Deer

My most recent post about ahimsa and Druidism sparked some conversation with prophet_maid on Live Journal.  We talked about vegetarianism, eating meat, the food chain, and the hierarchy implied by Jainist ahimsa.  It helped me sort through my thoughts better and I realize that that isn't the best way for me to express my reasons for what I do.  Many of the ideas surrounding ahimsa still resonate with me.  I am very inspired by Gandhi's application of it

A hierarchy naturally implies that I feel I am better and more privileged than other creatures.  As I've expressed to others before, I really don't think that.  I don't believe that humans are any better or worse than the other Nature Spirits.  I believe we all have natural talents and that some of us are better at certain things.  Framed by human-centric values and aspirations, I can say that we are more creative and innovative than other creatures (sometimes for better or worse), but there is a bit of hubris to that.  I am proud to call myself creative and artistic, but I am not close-minded to the possibility that some other creatures have a different definition of art and think of themselves as more capable in that area than us.  Who really knows?

In the end, I have made a spiritual decision about what I will and will not eat.  It almost seems like a hierarchy in that I am choosing to eat some things and not others, but I feel no true superiority over the plants I eat.  I have a great respect for plants.  I talk to them, ask permission before I harvest, leave offerings, sing to them, and thank them frequently.  I hug trees and am not ashamed to admit that.  I do not feel as closely related to plants as I do those in the animal kingdom, but I fill a kinship nonetheless.

In talking more about it to prophet_maid, I compared myself to herbivores like rabbits and deer.  I explained that I didn't feel removed from the natural cycles of life or somehow less human because I was denying myself participation in a common human act.  I said that I was just as connected to the cycles of life as a deer.  I don't see it as the denial of basic human needs; I see it as another way of experiencing humanity - a way just as valid as eating sustainable meat.  Thinking of it this way in combination with the end of my previous post, in which I discuss spiritual prohibition and life lessons, it makes so much more sense to me.  I am feeling more comfortable simply saying that it is a spiritual choice I have made connected to the lessons I must learn at this time in this life.  Perhaps there will come a time when I am meant to learn the lessons of eating meat again.  Who really knows?

Comparing myself to a deer, though, opened up a new door - one that has been slowly opening for years.  I've had different spiritual experiences with deer.  I could say it started as a child as I delighted at seeing the deer outside my home, but what child wouldn't feel that way?  Truly, the first time I felt spiritually tuned in to this creature was when I started college.  I was in a rough place emotionally.  Although I was experimenting with Wicca before a breakup, it was after that I really became a practicing Pagan.  It was then that I started to work harder and develop my skills.   I went into the woods to meditate.  One day, after meditating, I opened my eyes and was surrounding by a herd of deer.  It seemed like a buck and a harem of does.  I looked at the buck and I remember that I wasn't afraid.  I was in awe as he stared me down.  I remember saying to him in my mind, "I'm not here to hurt anyone."  He made a noise - the first time I ever heard a deer speak in anyway - and stamped a hoof.  The herd moved away, dissolving into the woods.  I felt such a rush and instinctively felt like, after so many years of playing in the woods as a child, I was finally formally allowed there.  Was the spirit of the Horned God in that deer?  I've never been sure, exactly, but it was one of the most spiritually important events in my life.

The second time I brushed with the spirit of deer came during meditation.  I met with a spirit of the forest - a fair woman who called herself a lady of the deer.  I was then obsessed, for a short time, with Flidais.  I tried to research her and seek advice from others.  There is little on her, and some people seemed dismissive of it.  Yet I felt so drawn.  I still do...  I let that fall by the wayside because I didn't want to seem too "New Agey" to Celtic Reconstructionists and scholarly folk who seemed to think she was just a literary character in the tales and little more.  I wasn't as driven or emotionally strong then.

Most recently, I was in the woods making offerings.  I called to the spirits of the forest and asked for their teachings.  In that moment, a deer ran through in the distance, vanishing into the darkness.  I wanted to follow it, but was also frightened for some reason...

I don't think of myself as the sort to attach oracular significance to every natural event I witness.  Most of the time, if I see a raven, fox, or such, I just hail it as a passing nature spirit.  There might be a lesson, but most of the time it is simply a blessing to see them.  I feel lucky for that alone.  The deer though...  I cannot shake the significance of those times.  I feel that this is something I should really work through and explore more.  Perhaps I have another spirit guide I should be working with in addition to Breeze the Lynx?  Perhaps I should start walking into that darkness and facing the fears.

The doll above, "Flidais," was made by the extremely talented Forest Rogers.  
( For My LJ Friends: )

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ahimsa and Druidism?

The fact that I'm a Druidic vegetarian quietly amuses me.  My ancestors were Irish, Scottish, and Germanic!  They ate mutton, haggis, and sausage!  My ancient Irish ancestors looked to Druids for spiritual guidance - which often involved blood.  On Samhain, the herds were culled before the hard, cold months.  My ancestors were from Northern Europe.  They were herders, raiders, hunters, and fishermen.

They would probably have a hearty laugh at me!  Yet I understand that their world was different from my own.  They had to eat meat and other animal products to survive.  Animals were often raised more sustainably than they are today on their giant factory farms.  My ancestors in the northern climes just didn't have the choices that the Mediterranean Pythagoreans, the Hindus, or the Jains had.  Not to mention, my ancestors did many things that probably should not be done today anyway...

I've been a meat-free vegetarian for about as long as I've been a Pagan*.  For me, the two are hand in hand but I've never been able to exactly express why.  I've always known that a part of it has to do with a deep respect for nature.  But that is only part of it.  Carnivores and omnivores are also part of nature and I do not deny their place or rights.  My spirit guide is a carnivore.  My animal companions are carnivores.  They have never expressed a desire to give up meat and I don't think it would be healthy to force it on them anyway**.  But I feel like I have a choice, and I don't feel like it furthers me from the food chain.  I am basically an herbivore.  If my spirit animal doesn't eat me first, then I will die and be eaten by smaller things and go back to the plants I ate.  As long as I am not in a survival situation, I feel quite content eating as I do.

An lj friend and fellow ADFer*** recently posted this article entitled "I Was Wrong About Veganism" by George Monbiot.  Basically the author, who once insisted that Veganism was the only ethical response to the environmental, health, and food dilemmas of this world, takes back the statement and gives his reasons based on new statistics.  He argues that going local and returning to traditional feeding methods is the best for the environment and the animals.  I totally agree, and the article made me feel better about my recent decision to consume dairy products again, albeit with a nearly strict preference for organic and/or local.  The rare bit of cheese I eat must be rennet free.  (On a side note, I feel like Brighid, my patroness who has very close ties with dairy, kept bugging me when I gave it up.  So yes, in a way I do feel spiritually obligated to eat some of her essence.)

My friend is one of many Pagans I know who argue that eating meat and eating local is a moral act, to use her choice of words.  By eating meat she is imitating the Gods.  I get that, and I'm not about to say they are wrong, horrible people - especially if they are eating sustainably harvested meat.  And yet...  I still don't feel compelled to eat it myself.  I've never felt spiritually motivated or pushed to.  Quite the opposite.

I recently started to read more about Hinduism and Jainism in my quest to better articulate what, exactly, drives me to live the way I do.  I could call myself an ethical vegetarian (someone who is a vegetarian for ethical reasons), but that implies that people who do eat sustainable meat are unethical...which isn't right or healthy to assume, in my opinion.  I do what I feel is ethical for myself.  In my studies, I came to the concept of ahimsa which is Sanskrit for the concept of doing no harm.  It is an interesting and complicated subject but I rather enjoy learning about it because a lot of it is what I believe for myself.  My friend Parallax first helped me begin this process of articulation when she mentioned a thought she had had when she was a vegetarian - there is a difficult to express hierarchy, which is why many of us are somehow okay eating plants.  But even so, I try to be as respectful to plants as possible, thanking them for their nourishment, asking for permission before I harvest them, and leaving gifts of nuts or drink when I do.  Even then, I try not to take everything - just enough for myself and for the plant to further flourish.  Turns out, Jains believe in this hierarchy and have organized it.  It is quite interesting, especially in light of recent arguments that "intelligent" animals like dolphins, whales, apes, octopuses, and squid should not be eaten at all.

So what does all of this mean to someone following a Druidic path?  In Irish lore, some people are under geasa - magical bound to do or avoid something.  Fate.  One famous geis belonged to Cuchulainn.  Because of his practically totemic connection to dogs, he was spiritually forbidden to eat of their flesh.  As fate would have it, he ended up eating dog (due to other geasa in place) and this was part of his undoing.  Perhaps not eating flesh period is my own personal geis - my spiritual fate?  Perhaps it is merely this life's lesson.  I have already learned much from my journey of fruit salads and lentil burgers - integrity, compassion, empathy, acceptance, patience, creativity...  So much.  Perhaps in this life, I am not meant to eat the salmon of knowledge - instead I am to share the hazelnuts of wisdom with the salmon themselves.

*I gave up red meat when I was 8 so I've been a flexitarian or vegetarian of some sort for a very long time. 
** It would totally fail anyway.  My cats like catching flies waaaay too much.
*** I don't know if she wants her username floating out in the virtual ether so unless she wants official credit, I will respect her privacy.  

( For My LJ Friends: )

Back to school...

...for Druids!

( For My LJ Friends: )

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Next weekend, Pagan pride descends on North-Western NY in the form of the Central NY Pagan Pride Festival in Liverpool, NY (near Syracuse).  I'm really excited about the keynote speaker, Patti Lafayllve.  She's a practicing heathen devoted to Freyja and seidh work.  Even though I follow an Irish-inspired path, I do have Norse blood in me and know that the Celtic nations often interacted with them (hence my mixed ancestry!).  I feel that I could learn a lot from seidh.  Really, I think any trance-related workshops would be greatly beneficial to my spiritual growth*.

I was delighted to hear that Lafayllve is performing a rite using oracular seidh.  Unfortunately it's the night before Pagan Pride Day...  And I live an hour and a half away.  Now it wouldn't have been an issue if things had gone according to plan.  My husband now has to go into work Saturday morning for a meeting that he cannot get out of.  We didn't anticipate this and had been talking about going to Syracuse Friday for the rite, getting a hotel, and staying for Pagan Pride.   Bugger!  A part of me really wants to go to the rite anyway.  It's something I've never seen before and I want to learn more about it!  Yet the driving...  An hour and a half down, an hour and a half back.  Then the next day we would do the same thing!

"But Grey," you chime in, "don't you deserve to go?  Don't you have every right to further your knowledge?  It's not that bad of a drive."

Yes, I know...  But there's a part of me that would feel like a huge hypocrite.  Druidism, to me, is very Earth-centric.  I work so hard to make sustainable choices.  If I do so much driving for selfish reasons, it seems spiritually counter-productive.  It practically negates everything else I do...  We recently figured out how many miles my husband drives to work every week and it's depressing.  We really need to move between our two places of employment.

It's not that bad if I miss the rite...  I'm hopeful that I'll get the opportunity to see something like it in the future and learn more then.  And as long as Weretoad's meeting gets done in time, I should be able to make the two workshops Lafayllve is giving then - one on Ásatrú and the other on deepening relationships with Goddesses - in her case, Freyja.  It just stinks.  I'm so often faced with these transportation dilemmas.  I'm hoping to get a second car soon so that I have more freedom - freedom to pursue grad school and other areas of interest.  Even so...  it's so much pollution and so much driving...

I'm so ready for mass public transportation in the US now.

*Well...almost any...

( For My LJ Friends: )

Monday, September 6, 2010

Woman Power!

Here's an amusing if incredibly corny music video devoted to Boudicca.  Supposedly it's from a British show called Horrible Histories.  I thought my fellow Celtophiles would appreciate it.  ;)

( For My LJ Friends: )

Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Image-Heavy Update Of Druidic Proportions!

Life has been pretty busy this past week due to work, a death in the family, and plans with friends and family.  My craftiness has been slowed and, as work picks up, will probably stay that way for a few months.  I still have a DP to finish reviewing and an email from my mentee to look over and reply to.  I haven't done any work on my study programs this week, but did finish reading The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien.  It was such a fun read.  I pour over so much history and folklore recently that I don't often treat myself to more modern literature.  As I already have a copy of The Two Towers, I'm sure I'll be delving into that next!

What else is going on with the Ditzy Druid?
I went to the NY State Fair yesterday with my husband and a couple friends.  It was exhausting but fun.  Thankfully it wasn't as hot as it was the last time I went.  The temperature comfortably hung around the 60s all day.  I actually wore a sweater!  It was wonderful.

Anyway, I was able to take advantage of some of the state artisans and famers.  I bought some supplies for art and wildcrafting, such as the brick of beeswax at left.  I'm planning to make some herbal ointments soon, starting with a soothing jewelweed and witch hazel concoction for poison ivy rashes and other itchy irritations.  I must get the other ingredients soon!

I also bought some soy candles made by Canterbury Cabin of Greene, NY.  I picked out "Eucalyptus Avalanche" specifically for congestion and healing spells.  The "lemongrass and ginger" I'm planning to consecrate for cleaning and purification magic.  Can you tell that I'm big on candle magic?  The "Waterfall Mist" was Weretoad's favorite scent and I had to treat him. :)

Weretoad treated me to this lovely pewter figurine of Galadriel, one of my most favorite Lord of the Rings characters (along with Gandalf and Sam).  I was so excited when I saw her!  I'm not sure where to put her yet.  I'm thinking about near a mirror, along with other confidence-building trinkets.

I also bought myself a small pewter figure of a witch/sorceress.  My interest in Dungeons and Dragons was recently reawaken and I'm playing with some acquaintances.  My character is a sorceress.  You may be surprised to learn that this is my first time playing a caster.  The last few times I played I was a fighter/bard, a rogue, and a rogue/bard/exotic dancer cat person.  The spell casters have always intimidated me due to the amount of work that seems to go into them.  I would have played a Druid but one of my friends has never played before and seemed to have her heart set on that class so I let it go.  I would rather her enjoy her first experience.  Besides, I'm a real Druid every day!  Well...a ditzy Druid in training anyway.   Perhaps I'll post about D&D sometime.  I have a lot of thoughts about it in regards to Paganism.

I also stopped by the wool center to purchase some roving.  I want to try dying it for doll hair and spinning.

In other news, these are the skulls I found a little over a week ago.  They're all cleaned and bleached now.  Sarah Lawless, an experienced traditional witch and wildcrafter, thinks the larger skull belonged to an opossum.  I'm moved to agree after looking at more photos of opossum and fox skulls. You can especially see the features of half an opossum skull in these photos.  How fascinating, to be true!  Just as the authors of that blog describe, I was surprised to learn that this skull with very long and sharp teeth belonged to an opossum.  It's obviously not the first animal I thought of!  When you look at images of fox skulls, you can see the difference.  The opossum skull, for starters, has a ridge on the top whereas the fox skull is rounded.  Neat, huh?  The nature spirits teach us so much when we take the time to learn.

Finally, and in honor of the coming season, I give you the Autumn Oak Tree Spirit!  She's not quite finished (I want to buy another acorn button first), but is ready enough for me to share her with you.  I'm too excited about her to withhold this photo any longer!  I hope you like her!  My goal is now to make a tree spirit for each ogham character.  Next on my to-do list are willow and birch!

( For My LJ Friends: )