What’s in a name?

Lately I have been under attack on social media for using the word “Druid” to describe myself. I admit that I’m more accurately an Ovate with OBOD. But I use the term “Druid” to describe what I do and who I am.

I confess I haven’t had 21 years of training on this path. But what I have studied and learned so far is much more than I could have dreamed possible for me. I have learned about the realms and how to navigate them. I have learned about the deities and who to turn to in case I need them. I have learned to venerate my ancestors appropriately. All this and more in only a year and a half of studies since being called to the path of Druidry.

My call to this path was unorthodox. I was in bed dead asleep. Suddenly a vision of my departed father filled my awareness. He said one word. “Druid”. I sat bolt upright in bed wide awake. The word echoed in the head. It was odd because in life my father had no use for anything Celtic. Pure German that he was. So I definitely gave it some thought. I had never considered the Druid path up till that point. Yes I vaguely knew bits and pieces about it. But never seriously considered it for myself. Now I had to do some research.

What I discovered got me hooked on the idea. I became a member of OBOD almost immediately. And so began my path.

I started this blog. I called it Druid Musings as a way to identify what it was about. I had no idea to disrespect anyone else’s path. I just used the term Druid as an identifier. And the criticism began.

People on social media started saying things like I may as well call myself an Archdruid. Again I was a little taken aback at the vitriol of these comments. I really didn’t mean anything by using that label other to identify myself in this path versus other spiritual paths.

So I use the term “Druid” to let the world know what path I’m following. And to give myself a handy label for others and myself to use. No I haven’t had 21 years of training. Those days are long gone. Now we live in an era where everything is accelerated. Things happen faster. And so it is with Druidry.

If it offends you that I use the term “Druid” to self identify I apologize. But it is not really for anyone else to label me. I call myself a student of Druidry. A Druid. And of that I am proud.

Spinning my wheels

Lately I’ve had this overwhelming feeling that I’m spinning my wheels. Doing a lot of stuff but not getting any traction. No forward movement. I hate this feeling. I like to think of myself as a forward moving person. But lately. Ugh.

Unfortunately I think we all have this occur from time to time. This sense of what in the world am I spending all this energy on if it’s not getting me anywhere? Especially for me in spiritual matters. I always want to be learning and growing. No movement sucks.

So what to do? I decided to do a rune reading on the topic. Runes are my Divination tool of choice if I want a solid concrete answer to something of a mundane issue. For more spiritual or Esoteric issues I use either tarot or ogham. That’s just the way I’ve found these different disciplines work best for me. Anyway the Rune reading. It told me quite clearly in my balance and energy I’m holding close that I am repeating and scattered. But when it came to motion I should take it was clearly strength. And my subconscious is ready for action. That for me was the big take away. Action. On matters I hadn’t taken before. So it’s time to hit the books.

I’ve been very focused on the Esoteric aspect of this path. But I’ve been very bad at the history and lore. So I think it’s time for me to get a little knowledge about those under my belt.

I think we all can benefit from a more balanced practice. I don’t think it’s good to remain focused on a singular element of this path. At least not for me. I want to be balanced. Just like all things in life moderation is the key to success. Remain moderate in all of your concerns and that will bring balance.

Now I’m off to read…

Winter

Winter has been hitting us hard lately. Below zero temperatures. Snow. Ice. Everything that makes this season a big pain. But what about the upsides of this weather for those of us on the Druid path?

First of all all that time at home indoors makes this the perfect time for studying. And contemplation. These are activities that tend to fall by the side of the road during nicer weather. In the cold and snow and ice we can find the freedom to really explore our tradition with that most powerful tool our mind. This is the time of year I allow myself ample opportunity to read and study. The lore. The myths. Anything Druidic. I just grab my Kindle and read.

This is also a great time for connecting to family and friends. I can spend hours on the phone catching up with all of those people who are important to me. Old friends seem more eager to catch up if the can’t get out to cut the grass or garden! And this this the time my hubby and I have long conversations about spiritual matters. This gives me a chance to share what I’ve been studying or learning. And I never stop learning!

Of course if you can brave the awful cold to go outdoors you can experience this season of beauty and quiet. Things are definitely quieter outside this time of year. The quiet adds to the contemplative atmosphere of things. There’s no questioning the sheer beauty of a coat of new fallen clean white snow. There is joy in hearing the snow crunch under your feet as you walk. Even ice can be a blessing for those athletically inclinded to ice skate.

So a season that on the surface offers discomfort and frigid days actually offers us a time for ourselves. We are allowed to explore mentally the many aspects of Druidry. Not the least of which is the celebration of the changing of the seasons and turning of the wheel of the year.

The tragedy of asphalt and concrete

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.

Walking the dog

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.

Full moon winter solstice

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 dad the Druid

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.

New moon. New beginnings.

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!

Power of a pebble

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…

Love and plants

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.