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Three sitting meditations this week, with varying degrees of focus. The only one that really didn’t work was done when my husband was on the phone in the next room, and the cats were trying to claw open the door/yowling outside the door. It was just too much distraction, so after 10 minutes of that I was more annoyed than when I’d sat down. I don’t usually need true quiet to meditate, but I was already agitated, so I couldn’t even get focused on my breath.

I’m not doing the Two Powers meditations as much lately, at least not “officially” – I do still ground and center in my sitting meditation, but it’s less of a visualization than the full Two Powers. I still visit my mental grove each night before I fall asleep, using it as a way to help me relax and not get too caught up in thinking.

I also did Tea with the Kindreds this week, and it went OK. No great revelations, but I am definitely feeling a presence(s) while I do it. More so than in my formal Ewemeolc ritual, which is interesting. I’m hesitant to name them, since I don’t want to be wrong or jump to conclusions, and since they tend to be slightly different each time. I’m trying to be as communicative as possible, and make frequent incense and food offerings to try to open up the connection. I don’t know if this will end up as a patron relationship or just someone I develop a working relationship with.

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More sitting meditation this week! I have some mental health issues that are cropping up (as they are wont to do a few times a year), and the sitting meditation is, as always, helpful. I’ve had my husband helping to remind me to do it, which is also helpful. I’ve taken up lighting incense as well, so I’m doing most of my meditation sitting in front of my altar.

I had one moment in meditation this week where I was absolutely certain that I was being visited by one of the Gods, though I’m not sure which one. I thought to myself “I wonder if this rose incense is ok?” and I got a very clear “It’s alright, but the cedar is better.” answer that I’m quite sure wasn’t me answering myself (because while I like cedar, I personally kind of prefer the rose). I did not do a tea with the Kindreds, but I will be doing that again this week. I need to find out who likes my cedar incense!

I did the two powers meditation during my Imbolc ritual on Friday (more on that tomorrow), and found that swapping from “work mode” to “ritual mode” was kind of hard. I need to allow more time for meditation if I’m going to do my rituals after work in the evenings.  I’m still working with my mental grove exercises as well, usually in bed just as I’m falling asleep. It helps me to relax and unwind from the day really effectively.

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From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

1 : the quality or state of being pious: as
a : fidelity to natural obligations (as to parents)
b : dutifulness in religion : devoutness

2: an act inspired by piety
3: a conventional belief or standard : orthodoxy

From Our Own Druidry (82)

Piety: Correct observance of ritual and societal traditions; the maintenance of the agreements, (both personal and social), we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty.

I see piety as being about more than just observance of rituals and obligations or duties. While I like Our Own Druidry‘s addition of maintaining agreements, I think it’s as much about maintaining agreements with ourselves as it is with the Gods and Spirits. Obviously there are different kinds of piety – ritual piety versus felial piety, and really even the *ghosti relationship is a form of piety.

These all combine together to mean something like ‘responsibility toward those with whom we have agreements and relationships’.

Obviously keeping the high days is important to piety, but so is keeping a mentality of Druidry in day to day life. Not every day will have the obligations of a high day, but we are still in relationship with the Gods and Spirits, even when we’re going about our daily businesses. To me, true piety comes from finding ways to be true to those agreements in the course of maintaining and living life. Keeping up a daily (or just “frequent”) devotional practice is a good step, as is making regular offerings to the local land spirits at my home. When I forget to do those things, I’m letting myself down as well as those with whom I’m maintaining relationships. Those relationships nourish me as much as they provide nourishment to the Gods and Spirits, thus piety encompasses multiple levels of responsibility – to self, to others, and to Gods and Spirits.

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There’s been a lot of talk on the Dedicants list about the Two Powers meditation, and eventually I have to write an essay about it, so I figured I’d get some of my thoughts about this particularly ADF style of meditation written down.

I was already very accustomed to the “grounding” and Earth Power part of the Two Powers meditation before I started on this path of Druidry, so getting started with the Two Powers was pretty easy for me. That first connection happened almost without thinking about it, since I was already used to the tree roots imagery for grounding and centering energy.

Connecting to the Sky Power was a little more difficult, but I found that getting outside into the sun really helped. Fortunately, we don’t have too much grey here, even in the winter, so I have been able to actually feel the sun on my face, instead of trying to visualize it. I only had to do that a few times before I could get the visualization down. I’ve always been “solar powered” (which is a good thing to be, if you live in southeast Texas), so I just had to warm up to calling down that power instead of just basking in it like a lizard. (I may have been a lizard in a past life, for as much as I like basking in the sun.)

I love using Ceisiwr Serith’s prayer as the central point of my meditation, when I get both powers fully flowing:

The Waters support and surround me.
The Land extends about me.
The Sky reaches out above me.
At the Center burns a living flame.
(A Book of Pagan Prayer, p. 36-37)

There’s something really centering and powerful about saying that once I get the two powers flowing. It helps me to get a good feel for the mingling of the powers, as opposed to just housing the two currents themselves.

Also, I am looking forward to doing this meditation as an active meditation when I’m putting in my garden, since I’ll be elbow deep in the dirt, but standing in the sun. There’s a very tangible current to the two powers in a garden (or even in a potted plant grown from seeds) – the untapped potential lives in the earth, and is drawn forth and materialized and made orderly by the sun.

Overall I really like this meditation, and I’ve come to do a mini 5 step form of it when I’ve got a few minutes and feel like I need to ground and center at work:

  • relax
  • draw up the Earth Power
  • draw down the Sky Power
  • feel the two currents mingling
  • release

It takes only a minute or two, and it’s a nice desk-visualization. Connecting to the Earth Power is a little hard from the 9th floor, but after a little practice I can usually feel the current in a few breaths. If I was consistent about it, I’d make it a part of my lunch break every day, especially since I bring my lunch, and everyone else in my multi-cubicle goes out most days, so I have the place to myself.

I took to this form of visualization and meditation relatively easily, but I think that’s just a factor of having had a good bit of experience with both visualization and grounding before I came to ADF. This was a new way to experience grounding and centering (particularly the adding in of the Sky Power), but the function is something I was pretty used to doing. I don’t know if I will continue to use it as a daily practice long term, but it does seem to work well for keeping my brain engaged when I’m starting to get distracted.

In ritual, I try to focus on it for longer than I do in my daily practice, since I think it’s a little more important to be truly and fully grounded before attempting magic (which is what opening the gates really is). Sometimes that works and sometimes not – I still get a little anxious before full ADF rituals, so pausing to do this step is something I definitely need to focus on.

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My Samhain Ritual was performed October 31, 2012, in the late afternoon. Normally I would wait until evening to do a ritual for the Mighty Dead, but I’m more comfortable doing full rituals when I’m alone in the house. Instead, I darkened a room almost completely, so even though the sun was out, I did the ritual by candle light. Between the darkened room and the smoke from the incense, the atmosphere seemed to fit the occasion.

This was a solitary rite, following the full ADF COoR. For this ritual, I honored the Earth Mother in an unnamed aspect; the Gatekeeper was Manannan mac Lir. Patrons of the rite included Donn, Lord of the Underworld and the Cailleach Beare, Grandmother Hag of Winter. I brought the following offerings: silver for the well, cedar incense for the fire, and a bottle of good hard cider for the Kindreds and Patrons (as I can not drink ale or whiskey).

This was my first High Day ritual, but not the first time I’d used the COoR. I’m glad I’d gone through it once before, because it gave me the experience to put together some rituals from the ritual archives (as well as a bit of my own material) into a full Samhain rite that I’m quite pleased with. The wording all came pretty easily to my tongue, though I’d read through it several times to help make sure it would flow. I am still not quite comfortable speaking in a loud voice in an empty house, but I made sure I was at least speaking with strength behind my words. The ritual centered on Donn and the Cailleach, an idea I got from one of the rituals in the archive that I really liked a lot. I have a lot of hesitation working with the Morrigan, and I wasn’t comfortable calling Her in my first ritual, even though many of the Celtic Hearth Samhain rituals honor the Dagdha and the Morrigan. My personal experience is one of strengthening my ties to the Mighty Dead this time of year, so being focused on Donn and the Cailleach seemed fitting.

I did find a major issue with my altar, and that was the location of the offering bowl in relation to the fire. Namely, I singed off some of my arm hair pouring offerings to the Kindreds. Not a particularly appealing incense. I’ve since reorganized it slightly.

I didn’t have a huge wealth of “feeling” from this ritual, however. It certainly had moments of poetry and beauty, but the depth of feeling and emotion wasn’t there in the way I am hoping it will eventually be. I know that part of having a Hearth Culture is to build up that current of energy between you and your patrons, and I am looking forward to feeling those ties strengthen. I would also like, eventually, to be able to do a COoR rite without needing a printed or written guide. While the words were ones I really liked, and some of them were even my own, it didn’t have the same feel as speaking “from the heart” does when it comes to prayer. Perhaps I will build in a time of spontaneous prayer into future rituals, since balance seems to be a good goal here, and I enjoy the act of writing out ritual material as well.

Omens Drawn:

  • Nion (Ash) – Weaver’s Beam, Connection, Wisdom
  • Ailm (Silver Fir) – Foresight, Inception, Perspective
  • Iodhadh (Yew) – Ancestors and death, memory

Use the wisdom and power of the Ancestors to gain perspective and see the “big picture” of the path ahead, a path that will lead you to transformation.

This is not the first time I’ve drawn Iodhadh recently, and I have to admit it’s a little puzzling to me. I understand that I’m undergoing a period of transformation and “Death” (of one path and beginning another), but I also feel like the messages are saying “listen to the Ancestors”, and I don’t know what they’re saying! Maybe I will do another separate reading specifically to ask them for their advice.

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