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Posts Tagged ‘offerings’

I didn’t make my goal of sitting meditation every day this week. Distraction, thy name is Druid. Still, I am working towards the state of emptiness and focus that will help me enter trance states more easily, without being distracted by too many thoughts (I’m not trying NOT to think, only not to be attached to my thoughts, or allow them to break my focus.) I’ve been focusing on my breath most of the time, but I’ve also done some tree meditations that I like.

I picked up a copy of The Book of Nine Moons this week, since its been recommended on various lists. I was delighted to find that it’s designed to go with the Initiates Path, since that’s where I am considering focusing after I finish the DP. I was really encouraged by the first few chapters, as its exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking for. I don’t think I’ll start early on it, since I do want to finish my DP first, but I am definitely going to tailor my meditation practice towards the eventual IP work. I figure the more I plan ahead, the easier it’ll be and the more I will get out of it.

My devotions this week consisted of sharing incense (and wine) with Freyr and starting to introduce myself to Freya. I am also, as mentioned, working on building an ancestor practice focused on my Disir. I’m encouraged by my early work, which consisted of doing some kitchen work with them in mind, and charging my hearth candle to them specifically. I got a ton of resources to work with from Heather over at Loki’s Bruid that I am working my way through. I really think this will be a big part of my practice, and I’m excited to begin real devotional work. I’m planning one meditation specifically focused on connecting with them this week.

I need to get back to my practice of tea with the kindreds, though I do a miniature version with my morning devotions every day. I sip tea and say a few prayers, and then try (since I’m at work) to get a good solid chunk of clear breathing and listening.

I am definitely working out a Norse path that will work within the ADF framework for now though. I haven’t felt called to Asatru or Vanatru at all, even while I’m directly trying to work with the Norse Gods and traditions. Hopefully I can make it work as well as other ADF members seem to have done!

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My Spring Equinox ritual was performed at 4pm on Friday, March 22, 2013, just after I had gotten home from work. This was a solitary ADF style ritual following the full CoOR. Using the published ritual template provided by the Solitary Druid Fellowship for the Equinox, I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother, Heimdall as the Gatekeeper, and Eostre, Freyr, and Honey bee as the patrons of the occasion. I brought incense for the fire and silver for the well, mead and poetry for the Kindreds and the Beings of the Occasion, and a handful of sweet smelling flowers for Honey Bee.

After my Imbolc ritual, which felt a bit too complicated, I went with a much simpler format – both for the ritual poetry itself and for the offerings. I had a much more solid connection to this ritual than the last one I did, and I really felt like my offerings were received well (though I think the Ancestors liked the brownie better than the mead). I gave myself a good bit of time after I got home from work to decompress before I started the ritual, and that seemed to go very well. I felt very grounded, especially at the beginning of the ritual.

All the offerings, once made into their various bowls, were spread in my gardens as part of the blessing of the coming spring. I hope the added blessings will give lots of oomph to my seedlings, and they will come up strong and stable and produce lots of veggies.

I really liked the SDF ritual format – I was able to do a little bit of improv around some of the shorter sections, where I felt I wanted to fill things out a bit, but I didn’t feel tied down to just “reading” a bunch of poetry. Also I really like the poetry I chose as offerings, some of which I modified to better fit what I wanted to say. I liked doing poetry as an additional praise offering, even if I didn’t fully write it myself, since it gave the ritual more depth. It also made the “focus” of the ritual longer, something I had wanted to do after Imbolc.

I lost focus about halfway through the ritual, but I think that was largely because my neighbor started mowing his yard right by my windows, and it distracted me. While I can’t control that in the future, hopefully as my focus grows I’ll be able to tune out lawnmowers better.

I drew runes as the omen for this ritual and got the following:

  • Kenaz: Torch, Ulcer, Cheer, Pain, Death. Kenaz can be read either as torch (from some rune poems) or ulcer (from other rune poems). As the torch it is power to create your own reality, the power of light. Open to new strength, energy, and power now; the fire of regeneration or the warmth of a hearth fire. It can also be a beacon that draws you home or illumines the dangers of your path. Kenaz provides a clear warning of danger, but danger that can be avoided. It can also be death, a sore that eats away at your insides, a battle that goes poorly. This rune’s dual meanings means it must be read in context, and often is up to a great deal of interpretation.
  • Berkano: Birch, Strength, Flexibility, Resourcefulness. This is the rune of resourcefulness and making something from nothing, and Rev. Dangler speaks of it as the rune of “female strength” (Very Basics of Runes 47). It speaks of birth and rebirth, and physical or mental growth. There is also an element of strength and pride to this rune meaning, alongside the current of fertility and creativity, that you can see in the last two lines of the rune poem. I see self-sufficiency as well, in the first lines of the poem (the tree that brings forth new trees generated from its own leaves)
  • Othila: Stationary Wealth, Ancestors, Completion. This is inherited wealth or property, the kind of wealth that is passed from generation to generation and is stable and secure. Safety, increase, and abundance, or perhaps the completion of a task in such a way that it is stable and secure. Acting from your center, with all the support of your ancestors and your heritage, and being secure in their values.

There are many possible pitfalls on this path, but if you are wary and careful, you will be given the strength and resourcefulness to overcome them, and you will end in a place of completion and wealth.

I swear I mixed the runes up really well, but these are the same runes I’ve drawn for my most recent weekly rune drawings. I can’t help but think there’s a message they’re trying to tell me, but I’m not sure I know what it is.

The question I asked was “What blessings do the Kindreds give to me?”

I’m starting to think I just have a block against interpreting runes. I know what the meanings are (obviously), but actually coming up with how they apply to anything, or make a story together is another thing altogether. Especially when I keep drawing the rune that means “either a good thing or a really bad thing, you figure it out”. I do think there is a middle way to read Kenaz, or at least there could be – it could be that there are dangers and troubles, but that Kenaz will illumine them if you are careful and watchful.

The best sentence I could come up with for this reading is basically a rehash of the rune drawing I did for Imbolc, but with different runes and a slightly more positive spin or outcome. At best, I can take away that I’m going in the right direction, but that hardships aren’t over yet.

Another possibility is that I need to spend some extra time getting in touch with my Disir (Female Ancestors), and that they can help me with this struggle. This particular way of reading could be pointing at some of my mental health problems, though I’m not sure how that specifically answers the “blessings” question.

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A member of my family is going through some particularly unpleasant medical testing today, to help diagnose some troublesome neurological symptoms that he’s been having. He’s a young man, so these kinds of things are unusual, and the end result could be one that’s pretty unpleasant (brain surgery) or extremely unpleasant (not be able to do anything at all).

I’m not really good at asking for help, and my tendency towards agnosticism makes these kinds of times very tough. I don’t really lean much on the “ask the Gods for help” thing, because … well, I don’t know how much help I believe they’ll give. I don’t think they’d WITHHOLD help, exactly, but I don’t have a whole lot of faith in healing magic or prayers.

I do, however, believe that the Gods can help humans to solve problems, so instead of praying for healing for my family member, I’m going to make offerings to Eir to guide the doctors today and tomorrow, that they can do this test as non-invasively and accurately as possible, and to help them make a wise, educated, and compassionate decision about treatment. For some reason framing it that way seems to make more sense than praying for spontaneous healing. I’m also going to keep a candle burning during the part of his test when I’ll have access to, just to focus my energy as best I can.

It’s frustrating to be in a position where I can’t do much of anything. Hopefully my offerings will be appreciated, and he’ll have a good outcome from all of this. It’s putting a lot of strain on my family, for obvious reasons, and good news has been a little thin around his situation lately.

Any prayers, offerings, good thoughts, lit candles, or other expressions of care are appreciated.

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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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I’ve had an altar of some form or another in my home for quite some time (right now, I actually have two). ADF style rituals have specific things they need in terms of supplies and bowls, receptacles for offerings, and representations of the Fire, Well, and Tree. As such, before I did my Samhain ritual I went and did some altar styling to give myself a better workspace for ADF rituals.

This is the result (more or less):

My World Tree is pretty obvious – that’s a piece of driftwood that I found on a local beach. In front of that is my Well, a hand carved bowl from South Carolina. And then two representations of Fire in front of that – the three candle cluster and an incense burner. Those three items set up the ADF cosmos for each ritual. (I do not always leave the World Tree standing up, as it’s not super stable that way and is a bit off balance.)

There is a clear glass vase for holding liquid offerings, plus an offering bowl and a cup to drink from. The offering bowl and the cup are a matching set that I’ve had for years, and I like that they match. My offerings to the Kindreds go in a vessel that matches the vessel they give me the Blessings in.

The two taper candles are there for extra light and because I like candles. Also on the altar are some owl figurines, a Nature Spirit I’ve long had associations with (along with Toad and Rabbit), plus a little green man figurine, a big wooden acorn, a sand dollar, a holey stone that a friend brought back for me from a trip to the Middle East, and an aspen-leaf candle holder. These are all things that have spiritual significance for me, though I do eventually want to get some small shelves to get the figurines up off my working space.

The altar itself is a wooden cube bookshelf I got from (I think) Target, and I store all my Pagan and magical supplies in the closed baskets, with assorted books in the other open shelves. This sits in my craft room/spare bedroom, so it has to be dismantleable in a short time in case of guests. It pretty easily turns back into a bookshelf top with some assorted candles on it without much trouble.

Since I’ve used the altar a few times now, I’ve already made a few changes. I moved the offering bowls and offering pitcher to the right side of the Fire, so that I can pour offerings without setting my arm hair on fire (that smelled lovely, let me tell you). I also now have a set of wooden oghams, and those live on the upper left side of the altar most of the time as well, for daily drawings. I also added the two woodburned world tree symbols that I got from the Magical Druid. They sit to either side of the tall World Tree.

I do my sitting meditation on the floor in front of this altar, sitting on a big floor pillow. I often burn incense, and that creates a nice ambiance. Because it’s a bookshelf, I have to stand for rituals, so I’ve taken to putting my scripts in a small binder that I can hold with one hand. It lives in the open cube on the left hand side.

Overall I think it’s a functional altar, if not super elegant. I’d like to have a bigger working space eventually, ideally one that I could use outside, since a real fire would be nice for burning offerings. As it is, if I give spirits to the Shining Ones, they go in the same offering bowl with everything else, so I tend to give offerings of good incense to them. I’d also like a more proportional World Tree, so perhaps I’ll do some work with the driftwood one and trim it down and make a nice base for it. I think it’s a good Tree, just a little out of proportion with the rest of my space!

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