Civilization gives us many advantages. Modern plumbing. Access to doctors. Ease in finding like minded communities. But it also takes away. There is a cost for all this convenience. For me it’s summed up in the tragedy of asphalt and concrete.
I think of all the land that has been covered by these two substances. I live in a suburb of Chicago. A huge city. Lots of asphalt and concrete. I think of all the wildflowers that could be growing freely in this space. I think of all the acres of trees and prairie plants that could be blooming every spring. And I’m sad.
Sad that I will never know the openness of nature that our ancestors knew. The closeness to the land that filled their daily lives. Our ancestors certainly faced the challenges of nature. But they were also free to experience its power and glory.
I wonder what my ancestors thought about this closeness to the Elements. Or did they really think about it at all? Perhaps it was such a force in their lives that they really didn’t give it much thought at all. Maybe it was so woven into the fabric of their existence that they really didn’t have time to ponder its majesty. But I’m sure there were moments when they would just stand in the midst of it and think “Wow!” Of only for a moment. And yet that was enough.
And therein lies the tragedy. So many of us are urban dwellers and have limited access to those moments of profound wow. We can catch our glimpses of it in parks and forest preserves and other bits of natural habitat. But we are cut off from the moments our ancestors must have had simply by living close to the land. Most of us don’t get the “Wow”s. And I say that’s a tragedy.
I have a dog. A chihuahua named Lola. She needs lots of walks. And as someone with MS walking her is a big deal for me. It’s one of the few ways I get to experience nature. And I can observe the changing of the seasons firsthand. For me walking the dog is a direct act of Druidry. It’s an important link that I have found to be indispensable.
As my chihuahua Lola will tell you the changing of the seasons is a big deal. The time of spring and summer bring longer walks as she revels in the sun and warm weather. Winter is not her friend. She quickly does what she needs to do and heads back toward the door. But I make her suffer a bit so I can experience the wonder of snow and clouds and chilly weather. For me this time of year is as important as all the rest for all that it means. For me winter is a time for introspection and planning what you’d like to accomplish in the next year. Time to be relished. Time for ideas.
Spring is a time Lola loves. The warmer weather causes a definite change in her attitude about walk time. Now she decides to frolic a bit. Lots of time spent sniffing about. I find this the time to observe the wonder of the new plant growth and opening of flowers. A time of beauty. And time for me to plant all those ideas I’d thought of during the winter for the new year. A busy time of getting things in order for the outcome I’d like. Full of hope and possibilities.
Summer makes Lola pant. She loves the sun in her back. She loves all the bright sunlight. For me summer is a time for growth. Growing all the ideas and plans I’d planted during spring. Letting things come to fruition and get ready to be harvested. A good time indeed.
Fall makes Lola nervous. She can sense that the weather is getting nippy and the sun is out fewer hours. She starts getting into a pattern of shorter walks. For me I take this time to marvel at the wonderful display that nature puts on. The amazing color of the leaves. This is a time I spend harvesting the rewards of all that’s been growing for me. Ideas planted in the spring are now ready for me to enjoy the fruits of. Maybe my favorite time of year. I love to get the benefits of all the work I’ve done throughout the year.
Then we’re back to winter. And the wheel of the year has made its full turn. Lola and I are both a year older. And I hope a year wiser. I’ve experienced the marvel of nature one more year. Thanks to Lola. Lola is always ready for what the next turning of the wheel will bring.
Tonight was a big double whammy. A full moon and the winter solstice. Plus the added bonus of a meteor shower. Wow! Who could ask for more?
Unfortunately here in Chicago it was terribly overcast. So I couldn’t see the moon or the showers. But their power was there all the same.
I wanted to do a special ritual to commemorate the event. So here’s what I did.
As always before ritual I lit juniper incense. I got out my staff which is made from a branch gifted to me by “my” tree out in the forest preserve near where I live. I cast a circle of energy to make the space sacred. Then I pulled out my Druid drum decorated with a crow motif. It is dedicated to the Morrigan. I drummed and chanted nine “Awen”s. I then hailed the directions and wished them peace. I asked for peace throughout the multiverse.
I had lit a candle at the center of my ritual room before I began. I had placed an unlit candle at each of the four directions. Now I sat down in front of the central lit candle. As I focused on the dance of the flame I allowed my vision to become blurry. Soon I was in a working trance.
In this altered state I allowed my mind to wander back over the year that had passed. I thought about publishing my book and the success it has had. I thought about my progress on the path of Druidry. I thought about all the apprentices under my guidance. It has been a good year.
Then I blew out the candle. The room was totally dark. I drummed some more and called upon the light to return. Getting my lighter out of my pocket I lit the candles at each direction calling for light from that corridor. Then I lit the central candle again and the room was filled with candlelight. I hailed the return of the light with more drumming and chanting. Then I thanked the directions for being present and released them. I uncast the circle. My ritual was complete.
I realize I didn’t specifically call upon the moon. But in my intention the light I was calling included the moonlight. That’s how I chose to honor the full moon.
After the ritual I felt serene and calm. A sense of gratitude filled me. I was thankful for so much. And that’s how I would try to feel every day.
My father was very in tune with nature. This stems no doubt from being raised on a farm by farmers who lived close to the land. The passing of the seasons was paramount to their lifestyle. The raising of the sun each day marked a new beginning for them. The planting and nurturing and harvesting of crops proved to be a gateway to spirituality.
As I was raised in a small rural town but not actually on a farm my relationship with the land was more cut off than my father’s. Although I spent endless hours with my father doing his farm work I didn’t take the knowledge of the passing of the seasons and the mystery of the rising sun so much to heart. I observed rather than did.
As an adult my father became a drainage contractor as well as a farmer. He spent his life improving the land through hard work and use of all the knowledge he’d gained in his childhood and early adulthood. He would wake up at dawn to start each day. His day ended when the sun set. His ability to work was impacted by the change of seasons. Winters were spent fixing the machinery needed to do his work. Springs were spent planting crops. Summers were spent laying miles of tile to improve drainage on local farmer’s land. Autumns were spent harvesting what they had tended to during the earlier seasons. And this endless cycle continued for him. Each passing year brought new challenges and new triumphs. It was a simple uncomplicated life. And he lived it with his every breath.
He did instill in me a respect of nature. He did teach me the value of hard work. He did share with me one of his favorite memories from his youth that says to me more than anything that my father was a Druid. Although he would never admit it he was a Druid.
The tale he told me involved his farm and spring. At night when things had settled down for the day he would go out to a field and lay down on the ground between the rows of crops. And he would tell me that it was then that he could hear the crops grow. Magic to his ears. And a perfect anecdote to sum up my father’s life. It was by doing this ritual that he loved so much that I knew my father was secretly a Druid.
Years later after he had passed I was sleeping in my urban home cut off from the land and I had a dream. I dreamt my father came to me and simply said “Druid”. I immediately woke up with the word ringing in my ears. And the next morning I started my path in Druidry with the passion my father had for the land. Thanks dad.
Tonight is the new moon. A perfect time to do magic about new beginnings. To send out into the multiverse intentions of things you plan to accomplish. Things that you can ask to have success with. The energy you send out at a new moon will come back to you in spades. So be sure that what you’re sending out is something that you truly desire!
To do a full moon ritual to send out into the multiverse first I light incense. Tonight I’ll be using juniper. Then I take out my Druid drum and hail the directions and ask for peace and a successful sending. Then I call upon the gods and ancestors. Tonight I’ll be calling Cernunnos and Cerridwen. And my parents. As the things I am going to be asking for success in are going to need nurturing and the power of the subconscious they seem to be natural choices.
What I’m hoping for success in is two new ventures. I started just yesterday writing a new book. It will be my second book. So far the words have been flying out of my fingertips. I want that to continue until the book is done. Secondly I’m about to receive my first mailing in the studies of an Ovate. This is something I care deeply about having success in. So I will ask for assistance in those affairs.
Then I’ll simply drum back out of the circle created by summoning the directions. I’ll send peace out into the multiverse. And I’ll be done.
Now will come the time of patience and trust. I must remind myself that these things will truly come to me in their natural time. I admit that’s the hardest part for me. Patience is not my strong suit !
New beginnings are always exciting for me. I love having something new to pursue. It makes me feel alive to be active. And so each new moon I try to find something to commemorate. This new moon is especially exciting. May the gods smile on my endeavors and help cause great success!
I was doing a trance today. I lit incense. I drummed and chanted “Awen”. I got into trance pretty quickly. I called out for Llewelyn my Druid spirit ally. He asked me what I wanted to do today. I told him I was in need of some feminine guidance. I’m not sure why I said that but that’s what I said!
Soon enough a beautiful woman with long auburn hair and wearing white Druid robes appeared in my Grove. She was busy flipping through a book. I asked her if the book had wisdom for me. Without looking up she said “Study. Read. Learn.” Well I knew all that. I had to admit I have been lax in my studies lately. So I asked again. This time she closed the book and looked at me with large green eyes. Here’s what she said.
“Consider the pebble. Small and insignificant. Barely a stone at all. An annoyance to be kicked away. But what if the pebble had a message for you? Would you notice enough to listen? Now consider the pebble caught in your shoe. Now you’d notice it. The annoyance of it being stepped on with each step you took would definitely catch your attention. Or consider throwing a pebble into a calm lake. It would cause ripples that would radiate out and continue on. It would hardly seem that the pebble was insignificant now! So these are the ways a pebble works to spread its wisdom. That wisdom in the fact that even something small and often unnoticed can have a great impact. Let that be the lesson that the pebble leaves you. Small can be mighty. And you are a small man. But you too can be mighty. That’s the wisdom I offer you.”
Then she turned around and left me in my Grove to ponder all that she had said. It’s true I’m small! I only weigh 130 pounds! But me mighty? That we have yet to see…
When’s I speak of love I don’t mean a gushy mushy kind of love. I refer to a deeper more primal kind of love. A love that in my experience of it defies words. It’s a feeling that is in your whole being. A love that can transform you.
That’s the kind of love I get from plants. It is a solid strong enduring feeling. One that infuses my spiritual essence with energy and vitality. How do I access this kind of love?
I pick a plant. I grow several houseplants in my ritual room for this very purpose. Then I meditate on the plant. I change the rhythm of my breathing to a slower pace. I let my vision lose focus and become blurry. If I really want a deep experience I will drum and chant “Awen” until I’m in a trance. That’s the point when things get interesting.
With my vision blurred I become aware of a light surrounding the plant. The plant’s aura I suppose. Each plant I work with has a different color of light emanating from it. And once I’ve seen that light I place my hands up to the plant in a cup fashion. I can feel the energy. I can sense it with my hands. For me it is a tingling sensation. This tingling travels up my arms until I can feel it throughout my body. It mixes with my own energy. It changes the color of my aura as well. This energy is what I call love.
I bask in the glow of this energy for a time. I let myself soak up the feeling of solidity it affords me. I find that each of my plants offers me distinctly different experiences. And plants like trees that are even more solid are another type of energy. The accessing of these energies grounds and centers me to the wonders of nature. And it is always a sacred experience. I find peace and harmony. I find myself. I find love.
I have been contemplating the idea of spirit. What makes it and where do we find it?
Spirit is an aspect of our multiverse that is part of all things. Most notably it is an aspect of the human race. As humans we are blessed with the ability to comprehend spirit. We can think about it and work with it. We can celebrate spirit. We can even share spirit. These abilities are totally the realm of human experience. As creatures we alone are able to fully understand spirit. But is it out gift exclusively?
Animals also have spirit. They my not be able to intellectually grasp its finer points. But as sentient beings they assuredly have spirit. They express it in ways that we as humans may interpret as joy. Who has not seen a dog frisking? Or a cat with catnip? Their joy is unquestionable. And for me this proves their spirit.
Plants for me have spirit. They express it through the energy they give off. If you take the time you can learn to sense the energy of plants. And of course there’s the fact that as they grow they reach for the light. For me these are proofs of the spirit of plants.
Then what about matter? Something without consciousness? A rock. I say it too has a spirit. It definitely is in motion at the molecular level. All inert things have at least that. Is it too far of a stretch to say that through this motion a rock experiences spirit? I say not.
Spirit is in my experience on the path of Druidry an all encompassing and pervasive force. It is everywhere and in everything. To say that only humans have spirit is arrogance. The multiverse is filled with spirit. Even dirt has spirit. So I feel the most alive way to experience our world is to try to find the spirit in everything. Spirit surrounds us. May you experience a life filled with spirit!
Why do I love ritual so much? The donning of my sacred garb. The drumming of my special drum. The chanting. All of it. Why does ritual hold such meaning in my life?
First of all it offers structure. Without ritual my spiritual practices would probably just run amok. Having ritual for set days gives me a chance to really plan and look forward to the day of ritual. I can spend all the time I need figuring out the details of what I’m going to do well ahead of time. By doing this kind of planning I structure my time around the event. It gives me the chance to set aside a specific place and time. What could be a better use of time than planning for a sacred practice?
Ritual gives me the opportunity to measure my progress on this path. I always like to think of myself as being forward moving. The trappings of a ritual is a way for me to evaluate my growth in this tradition. I can easily tell if I’ve made any progress simply by seeing how much easier ritual is now compared to previously. I can take out my yard stick and measure my abilities based on my goals. I ask myself things like “Did I have a difficult time planning?” “Was this ritual more rewarding for me than others?” All the kind of things meant to allow me a view of how far I’ve come and where I need to be next.
Ritual allows me the chance to experience deities. It’s in a ritual setting that I find it easiest to communicate with our gods. This alone for me would make ritual a reason to keep going. My spirituality finds voice and meaning in communication with the gods. I’m allowed to tap into something much bigger than my Self. I’m able to see the world through a different set of glasses. And I like what I see.
So these are some of the reasons I love ritual so much. Ask yourself what emotions does ritual bring up for you? I’ll bet they are strong emotions. I’ll bet it’s love.
This is the time of the year when the veil is its thinnest. When the boundaries between the Realms can most be passed. This is a great time to be in contact with ancestors and deities. A great time for some productive trance work.
I celebrated Samhuinn this year as a marker for one year of serious Druid studies for me. It was one year ago that I had my first Druid celebration. A lot has happened in that year. Losses. Wins. All in the cycle of the year. One of the biggest things that has happened to me is my continued studies of OBOD. Much has been learned. I am waiting approval of my bardic year review do that I can continue studying as an Ovate. I admit to being anxious about this. It’s a lesson for me in patience I guess.
But that ritual this year had special meaning for me. My elder sister passed over this past year. I was hoping to be in contact with her.
I lit my incense. I drummed my drum to call the quarters. I hailed peace. Then I got to the meditation of welcoming the ancestors. I admit at this point I went into trance. I drummed and swayed and chanted “Awen” until I felt my consciousness shift. I was in trance.
My sister appeared as I had hoped. I asked her what wisdom she could offer me. She told me to be true to my path. To not listen to the naysayers. To not sell myself short. And to be more open about myself here on this blog.
Powerful messages for me. All of which I needed to hear. Especially the part about being more open on this blog. I will try to change the tone a bit here and reveal more about myself and my practices. It is a work in progress.
While the veil is still thin I plan to do more reaching out to experience the deities. I’ll keep you posted.
May your own work find you in strong connection with your ancestors and the deities!