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Posts Tagged ‘druid’

shrine2-13

Just a quick update to my altar – I’ve added a new offering pitcher (the little blue one) and a new offering bowl (the ceramic one with blue glaze). These both came out of my husband’s grandmother’s house, as we were helping to clean up her things. She passed away a few years ago, so I’m happy to have some things that represent ancestors on my altar now. I haven’t figured out quite what I’ll be using them for yet. I think the offering bowl will be one for dry offerings only, since it’s not glazed inside. The little pitcher would be great for oils though, and now that I have some charcoal discs, I may be able to give oil offerings to the fire for the high day!

I do move things around when I’m actually using the altar though, and I think it’s more than time I got a little shelf to keep some of this off my working surface. I don’t even have any statues yet, but things feel pretty cluttered. It’s a little hard to move around, and I’m always afraid I’m going to end up with my arm in the fire (again).  My Tree is incredibly tall though (almost 3 feet) so I may need to shrink it a bit in order to put a shelf above the altar. Either that, or get myself two small shelves to put on either side of the Tree.

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Added in a new meditation this week! I tried out walking meditation, which went SURPRISINGLY well. I have a standard route that I walk outside, and it was sunny and warmish today, so I figured I’d see if I could do my standard walk as a meditation exercise. I found it pretty easy to focus on observing my walking steps, and found that counting steps and ordering my steps with my breath was a good way to achieve almost a trance state. I wouldn’t do this kind of walk in an unfamiliar place because I think the familiarity helped me really just observe what I was doing once I got into that sort of floaty, mindless state. I didn’t get the full 20 minutes as meditative exercise, but I think I was able to focus/refocus for about 10 minutes. Having nature to watch and being able to move my body was really beneficial. I’ll definitely be doing this again.

My sitting meditation went OK, but nothing special. I don’t feel like I’m getting any better at focusing, even when I do the 9×9 breath exercise. I’m continuing my mental grove work before bed, and that’s been lovely though. It’s becoming a place I can easily reach and visualize.

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As part of the Dedicant Path, meditation is stressed as a way to increase focus and mental control and as a way towards trance and strong visualization. These are all elements necessary for successful magic, but also have other benefits, like stress reduction and lower blood pressure and better sleep.

I’m not very good at “trance” style meditation. Ok, I’m not that good at sitting meditation either, but that one seems to be easier to do with no practice. You just need a place to sit. For trance or journeying meditation, you need somewhere to go. While I suppose I could go looking for some published guided meditations (and I do already use the Two Powers meditation as a recording), I’m working on building a Mental Grove – a place I can start from in trance journeys as a way to enhance my focus and meditation.

I figure if I do this frequently enough, I’ll have created enough of a memory that it will become automatic to go there, and I can work on journeying outside my Mental Grove as part of my other devotions. I’d eventually like to use this as part of my way to discover/reconfirm my Patrons. The God and Goddess that I worked with as a solitary, before I was doing coven work, are actually from two different Pantheons (Irish and Gallic), though related, and I know that’s generally frowned upon in ADF, plus I’d like to be more open to other Gods and Goddesses.

But that’s for later.

I started this process after I’d done a 10 minute sitting meditation, doing the Fire, Well and Sacred Tree chant that I described yesterday in my meditation journal. From there, I started building, in my mind, a grove of trees, centered on a giant, ancient oak – the sprawly, long limbed kind that we have down here in Texas. This tree is enormous and gnarled, but still very much alive, and its branches reach out and touch the ground in some places. I walk through the clearing around it and up to the big tree, and I duck under the branches.

That’s as far as I got on the first day, except that I very clearly saw a Stag there under the tree.

The next night, I did a sitting meditation again (though probably only for 5 minutes, I didn’t time that one), and then rebuilt the grove in my mind, this time going up to the tree itself. Next to the roots of the tree, welling up from some rocks, was a spring of water. Beside the water I kindled a small fire in a circle of stones. (My rational brain says NO DON’T LIGHT A FIRE UNDER A TREE, but this is an imaginary exercise, so I tell that part of my brain it’s OK, that no trees will be harmed, because it’s a magical fire. My rational brain needs to be talked to gently, or it gets a little out of control.*)

From there I sit down in front of the Fire and the Well, under the branches of the Tree, and I allow myself to look around. I saw the Stag again, and a Rabbit. That’s as far as I got the second day.

I skipped a few days after that, because life got crazy, but then last night I did the full Mental Grove ritual and allowed myself to really look around. The Stag returned, but this time there was also an Owl in the branches of the tree. I did not speak to them, but they seemed to be comfortable with my presence.

I’m looking forward to continuing this, if only because I find it extremely calming. It’s obviously not a replacement for getting outside into actual nature, but I can’t always get away from neighborhood noise. Also, in my Mental Grove, there are no mosquitoes. I’m hoping to build a strong mental memory around it, and then see what’s around outside the little Mental Grove.

I’m excited to see what I find.

*now I sound like a barking moonbat. I promise, I’m only the good kind of crazy.

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I do a lot of work to bring my Druidry into my life in a way that I can be happy with how it’s incorporated but also keep a very low profile. This runs me into trouble occasionally, but most prominently around the holidays.

My family is extremely Christian (they think being non-Christian is grounds for divorce, among other things), and so I have to smile and nod a lot, and let them continue to think what they want about me and what I believe. I need their support due to physical and mental health reasons, and I really value having a close relationship with them, so that arrangement doesn’t bother me most of the time. The good outweighs the discomfort, and it’s usually easy to dodge religious conversations or to talk generically about hope and blessings.

But around the holidays, it gets troublesome. I can sit through a Christmas Eve service without too much fuss (just like I sit through an Easter service every year as well), but it always feels a little hollow. I haven’t been struck down yet, but I am still not really comfortable in church, even if I love the Christmas carols.

I want to celebrate the Winter Solstice, to bring evergreens into my home as a reminder that the world will become green again. To decorate with the symbols of winter and nature. I can put up with Santa and the secular western Christmas holiday, but my family always gives me nativity sets and asks why I don’t have the advent wreath up.

I know that a lot of the symbols of this holiday are cross-cultural or have become secular. Many of the “traditional” Christian symbols, like Christmas trees, are borrowed from earlier Pagan ones and have become acceptable as part of the secular celebration of Christmas. Even if the actual Christmas Tree is a relatively young tradition, bringing evergreens into the house is quite old. Even the celebration of Christmas in December is a bid to appropriate an existing holiday and Christianize it.

Knowing all that, unfortunately, doesn’t help much with the practical applications. I’m expected to send Christmas cards. I use the excuse of not wanting to have to send out two different cards to send a very nature oriented, non-Christian-specific card, but it’s still seen as buying into their religious tradition. In return, I get a mailbox full of Jesus cards that I don’t want to put up on my mantle.

On some level, I appreciate being a closeted Pagan. It stretches my imagination, and I enjoy using symbols and items from Paganism to make the celebration of holidays my own in a way that other people will enjoy without knowing that they’re being Pagan.

I also truly love the decorations and celebrations this time of year. They give me the warm fuzzies, and I love participating in those traditions with my family. I love putting up holly and evergreens, pinecones and red ribbon, cranberries, oranges, and candles. I love having a tree decorated with white lights, red ribbon, birds, animals, and little nature scenes. My family has even bought into it, buying me new “Winter Woodland” ornaments for my tree every year (just as they buy snowmen for my aunt and Santas for my mom and snowflakes for my cousin). I even love a lot of Christmas music, though not the tinned, Christmas-Pop stuff they play in stores on eternal repeat. And cookies are pan-religious, right?

It’s easy to decorate for fall or spring, but for some reason decorating for Yule/Christmas is the one time that I feel conflicted, no matter how much I love and cherish having those decorations up in my house.

Even knowing that Yule/Winter Solstice and Christmas are pretty well intertwined, I still feel a bit like a bad Pagan. There are so many good, non-religious things to celebrate during the “Holidays” (which is one reason I love Thanksgiving so much), so I question why it bothers me so much. I can celebrate rebirth, family, warmth, hope, joy, blessings, and the new year without ascribing to any religion at all. I’m not sure why I still feel isolated by my beliefs in the midst of all the secular good vibes.

Even with a beautifully decorated tree in my living room and a hand-made wreath on my door, it puts a damper on my celebration to feel separated like I do. My Pagan beliefs are sustaining and meaningful, but I’m missing out on the community aspect of celebration. I think I’m just missing feeling unified with my family this time of year. Perhaps I should look into doing Grove work (though I’ll be out of town for the local Grove’s Yule celebration). I like being a solitary, but I also like working in a community, and this time of year I crave that community aspect more than others. (Odd for it also being a very introspective time of year in the Wheel.)

I don’t know that there’s an easy solution to all this. I’m obviously still going to decorate, and still going to celebrate on my own time. I’m still going to make cookies (in the shape of holly leaves and spirals), eat oranges to celebrate the sunshine, hang stockings, light candles, and give gifts.

Maybe I just need to work on accepting where I am, and just let myself love the holidays for what they are.

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So I’m an in-the-broom-closet pagan, and I don’t think that’s going to change. My family is loving and kind, but extremely Christian, I don’t want to end up as an abassador for neo-pagandom, and I don’t feel like discussing my religion at work.

However, if I’m going to be a Druid, I wouldn’t really be in the broom closet.

Instead, I shall be a Secret Agent Druid.

I shall practice rogue acts of secretive and subversive Druidry.

Like leaving offerings in a local park, or meditating next to the bayou (and hoping I don’t find an alligator). Or picking up some trash. Or doing the Two Powers meditation when I’m feeling low on energy at work. My work also has a “Green Team”, which I will join as soon as I figure out how. Secret Agent Druid in the Office!

I’ve already stepped up my offerings to the land spirits in my yard – they got some of the homemade venison chili I made last night. I don’t know if land spirits like chili, but it was gone this morning, so I figure they didn’t reject it! I also have an altar in my house, but it looks like a collection of pretty candles and bowls, with an incense burner, so it’s not really that suspicious unless you know what you’re looking for.

I suppose I could call it “Random Acts of Druidry”, but Secret Agent Druid sounds cooler, so I’m going to stick with that.

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