Pantheacon

This last weekend I had the privilege to attend a wonderful local, to me, convention: Pantheacon! I spent more money than I planned, as you do, but I had a wonderful time hanging out with my people. I didn’t go to many workshops or rituals, there were quite a few, but the ones I did participate in were worth the selection.

I met Kristopher Huges from Anglesey Island off the coast of Wales for the second time and was not disappointed. He was a joy to listen to and I learned so much. The topic we were discussing, in brief, was the difficult challenge we face when our loved ones pass away into the otherworld. It was a challenging topic for me to listen to but Kristopher brought joy an humor into the heavy topic. I lost my mother 4 years ago so, this was an emotion-charged hour but I learned so much about how the act of dying can be and should be just as revered and celebrated as the act of being born or any other rite of passage we go through in our lifetimes.

It was a great talk and I purchased one of his books on Welsh Mythos, From the Cauldron Born, which I am now reading. Its been informative and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on my next Podcast in March. He has another book that deals with the ideas brought up in his talk but I wasn’t ready to pick it up yet but it’s on my list.

I also went on a journey to Anwyn ( pronounced anoon) with the Sisters of Avalon along the same path that Arthur took so many centuries ago. We met with the 9 Maidens of Welsh lore to gather at the great cauldron and gain wisdom from its inner depths. My traveling companions include a very good friend of mine, Rose Red who you might know from her Tarot Podcast. It was a wonderful journey full of wonders seen and wisdom gained.

ADF, the Druid Fellowship I belong to, also had their ritual on Friday evening and I participated for the first time as a celebrant rather than an observer. Bonnie, my soul sister in many ways, wrote the invocation for the shining ones that I used, it was lovely and very moving.

My last workshop was with Michael R. Gorman, a friendly lovely man I could(and did!) spend hours talking to about the Celtic paradigm. It was once again very informative and also a lot of fun.

The rest of the time I spent with the ADF Druid in their suite, which is always a joy! Many of the people there I only see at this Convention and I had a great time catching up and connecting with old friends.

I was exhausted at the end but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! It’s always sad to see it end so quickly, time is like that when you are having fun, but I am already planning for next year!

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Wheres the fire?

With Pantheacon coming up really soon I got to thinking about one of the most important parts of an ADF Altar or ritual: The Fire. Its a central part of most many if not all Indo-European cultures and is the only hallows that are required in COOR.(Core Order Of Ritual)

The one thing all of them share is a reverence for fire.

The hotel that hosts Pantheacon does not allow for the actual fire to be lit so we have to be creative in finding ways to create this hallows in our ritual. It’s always interesting to see what happens.

Some ideas were better than others.

What this also brings to mind is how creative some ADF Members have to be in their living situations concerning this same element. I have never lived in a place where a fire was prohibited but I can imagine how this could put a crimp in your ritual style. Unless your creative or just have an active imagination.

Its also good to mention that many of us don’t see that hearth fire in the same way that our ancestors did. Not many of us have the luxury/ability to have a true fire in the center of our homes for warmth and cooking. For many of us, the hearth of the home is the gas or electric stove and the central heating combined.

A true basic tenant of ADF is to work with what you have, you don’t need to go out and buy anything fancy. Just be creative with what tools are already at your disposal.

Put an altar to Hestia on your stove, saying a prayer to her whenever you turn on the heat.

If you cannot have a fire on your altar but can draw or paint, create something and put it on your altar.

The lack of needed Physical tools kind of what drew me to ADF.

You could do ritual with a candle, bowl, and stick if that’s all you had available.

What I am trying to get to here is that its okay to be creative, as long as your doing it in the right spirit.

If you have the tools available use them, but if you don’t the Kindred won’t smite you. They will let you know if you can do better though, don’t be stingy just for the sake of laziness or false humility.

The Ancestors, in particular, were once human, maybe some of the Gods too, and will understand the difference and react reasonably. They might even send gifts your way to help with that.

The only deity that might be appalled at not getting the best would be Zeus, maybe, but he’s an asshole anyway so I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrine Challange: Day 2: Hearth Shrine

My main hearth culture is Irish with a little Welsh mixed in.  I have always had a big affinity with owls and the first time I heard anything paganish was when I listened to Damh the Bard with his story/song of Taliesin and Cerridwen.

On this shrine, I would have a green tablecloth, maybe with Irish Knotwork or just plain. The fire well and tree would be on top, the tree in the center with the well and fire on either side.

A wooden lacquer bowl would be my well and a small candle would be my fire.

I have Brigid’s cross and several figurines of owls, kind of hinting of my Irish and Welsh leanings. The owl would be on the side of the well and the cross on the fireside.

I also have a small clay skull, painted with Crows that I connect with my Ancestors and The Morrigan, it would likely end up on my Shrine as well.

I don’t have any figurines of particular deities. I  don’t think they belong on this shrine. It’s a Hearth Shrine so, I think symbols of them are more appropriate because I don’t want to break up the focus.

Maybe I will move around my altar to put a picture up and add it later.

 

Day one of the Shrine Challange

As I mentioned in an earlier post there is a challenge for creating a daily shrine that fits into a particular topic or theme.

The first one is just a cross-quarter shrine, one done for Imbolc.

I won’t be doing the whole picture thing, mostly because of space but also because of the nature of my relationship with the Kindred.

What I am going to do here is just write about what I would have on this hypothetical shrine.

For Imbolc, I would have a simple shrine. Brigid is a big deity for this time of year and I have always thought of her as practical along with all of her other attributes so a simple shrine with a few things on it would be appropriate.

Yellow and white would be the kind of color scheme,  flowers like daisies or tulips. I have a lace tablecloth with roses on it, that would fit a small table but any cloth would do.

Since its a shrine all the hallows would not be necessary but the fire of some sort, maybe a white, gold or yellow candle to light.

I also happen to have a sheep-shaped cookie mold that I  could use to make an offering of a butter cookie to place on the shrine.

And that would be it, very simple but I can see Brigid appreciating it, maybe having a glass of milk alongside that cookie.

 

Imbolc part 2

Last time I was talking about what my grove did for the holiday but this time I kind of want to get more personal. I want to talk about what Imbolc means for me. As an ADF Druid this holiday has always been very busy but even before I knew AF existed I had a lot going on during this time of year.

I was born February 8th and my niece was born on the 5th so I had a few birthdays to celebrate, making this a time of rebirth even before I had anyone telling me that was what it was about. Every year my mum would make a really big deal about birthdays, and since ours were in February we always had a theme of hearts and red.

We usually got a lot of candy and little gifts that really had no monetary value, you know how much stuff is sold around VDay, my mum love it. We also got things that were more special or meaningful, I still have some jewelry that I received on my birthday from my mum. we also would sometimes go down to Disneyland during the offseason, which happened to be around the same time. It was usually raining but we would always have a good time.

Spring and I were intertwined long before I became a pagan. The spring has always been a kind of landmark in the year and a kind of new beginning that started at new years.

My first experience with ADF was with someone who personified all the best parts of Irish Hospitality and I  am so glad I met them. Brigid has also been a big part of my life since I first started leaning towards Paganism, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I subscribe to an Irish Hearthculture, with the occasional foray into Native traditions.

some may take a dim view of it but Mother Bear is the first being who I came into contact with when I was still a baby pagan and she is still a comforting presence in my life and on my altar.

 

 

 

Desecrating Graves (Introduction to the Song of Amergin, part II)

Song of Amergin

For many people, the first introduction to the Song of Amergin came through Robert Graves “The White Goddess” (1948).  Graves states that, “English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin.” However, despite this apparently reverential beginning; Graves does not actually put forward the Song of Amergin as we have it; rather he begins by utterly changing this ancient poem to better fit his own pet theory, connecting the lines from this poem to the Ogham alphabet and the ‘months’ of the year.  This creates a vague pattern, unprecedented in either nature or the Gaelic source culture he purports to respect.

Graves provides neither the original Irish poem, nor anyone else’s English translation. Instead he just sets off on his own imaginative journey.

In order to create proof for his notions, he translates the lines of the Song very loosely, which, given the dense and obscure…

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Imbolc

We had our Imbolc ritual. It was good and a lot of people showed up, at least 7 including the children. Which in retrospect really isn’t a lot but it was more than usual. The group I celebrate with is an ADF Protogrove here in the bay area that I have been a part of since its inception about 7 years ago.

We were in a public park and I arrived early to set up and claim the space, in the warmer months this is more of an issue as the park is a popular spot for parties and picnics. Right now it’s not warm but it’s not raining so it’s a good day to be out and about. We have an easy up in case of inclement weather.

I like setting up the altar and having time to myself before a ritual, as the acting seer in our little group and an empath I always feel like I should prepare before everyone else arrives. I like to walk around the area. This time I brought my camera to take a few pictures while the park was quiet and I was alone.

As the morning continues, more people come and taichi groups with swords and spears come together to practice, it gives the park a generally peaceful feel. There is soft music playing in the background.

I notice all the life around me, the trees sighing in the wind, the birds singing in the branches, the leaves rustling as people move along the grass.

First I have to dry the picnic table, its covered in dew and I don’t want to get the lace tablecloth wet or dirty.

Then I start pulling pieces for the altar from the ‘ritual box’ and putting them in their places.

It’s almost a meditation, me quietly putting the pieces together that will make the centerpiece of our ritual.

Once that is done I light some incense and put it in the barbecue to kind of cleanse the space, its pine scented and it gives the space the feel of being a clearing in the deep woods.

I spend a few minutes grounding, centering using the technique I mentioned in a former post, really connecting to the earth and the world around me.

The first few people arrive and we socialize a bit while we wait for the others.

Its cold so we are all bundled up but its a friendly group. We wait together for the ritual to begin.

When all of us arrive we hand out parts, I take the nature spirits and my usual place as the seer.

We begin ritual with a brief explanation of what the rite will contain and why we are here, there are some newer people so this is appropriate.

We begin, as always with the honoring of the earth-mother and then we call on Ogma for inspiration.

Then we open the gates and with Manannan mac Lir’s help we open our way to the otherworld where the kindred are waiting.

We call the Kindred, Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Shining Ones. I end up calling the shining ones instead of the Nature Spirits because of a slight hiccup with one of the children helping with the rite.

Brigid is the Deity of Occasion, the goddess we are honoring today. We offer her butter and Whiskey, which she accepts as the fire burns brightly.

Next are the praise offerings or the chaos portion of the ritual, where I offer a homemade butter cookie molded into the shape of a sheep to Brigid. I am thanking her for a prosperous year and asking for it to continue into the new year.

More offerings are given before we hallow the waters and ask for the blessings of the kindred.

The omen I pull for the rite:

Ancestors:  Birch, New beginnings, Purification

Nature Spirits: Witchhazel, Magic, Healing/illness

Shining Ones: Alder, Protection, Guidance

I interpret that as being a good omen.

We pour the waters of life and drink the blessings of the kindred.

We thank all the beings, ending at the Earth mother.

The ritual is ended, and we have a potluck lunch with the food brought by everyone.

When we say our goodbyes and I reflect on the ritual I feel good, even though I am exhausted.

It was a lot of work to set up but in the end, I think it was worth it, we celebrated Imbolc, honored the gods and received their blessings in return.