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!
I love birds! Any kind of bird. As long as it has feathers I love it. Birds to me mean freedom. They are free to fly anywhere they want. I wish I could have that sort of freedom! But watching and observing birds gives me a vicarious chance to feel the freedom. If only second hand!
I live in the suburbs of Chicago. Very urban. But we get a fair share of birds anyway. They all have different things to teach me. I try my best to listen to the lessons of the birds every day.
This past summer we inherited a family of crows. Three of them. They always remind me of the wisdom of the Morrigan. About life and death and it’s cycle. It’s not a cycle to be feared. But as the loud caws of the crows tell me it is a natural part of the way things are. That for me is the main lesson of the Morrigan. And my family of crows remind me of this.
Robins teach a different cycle. The cycle of the wheel of the year and the journey through the seasons. The robins arrive with spring. They stay for the summer. And now in fall they have made a departure. Their lesson is that of the passing of the year. Marking seasons. Living in harmony with the changing of the Earth. A powerful lesson for me on my path of Druidry.
Herons make an appearance in the forest preserves that surround my suburb. They appear less frequently than other birds. But their lesson is just as valid. They teach me of the ability to straddle two realms at the same time. Just as the herons straddle both land and water so too do I strive to exist in this realm and the Otherworlds. I learn from this bird the grace and poise needed to achieve this goal.
Chickadees come and perch on our balcony railing. Always in twos they remind me of the lesson of fidelity. Fidelity to your loved ones. Your clan. A powerful bond to be sure. The chickadees will be here all winter snuggling up to one another. Teaching me the lesson of belonging to something greater than myself.
The birds are my teachers. They are one of the reasons the path of Druidry means so much to me. It is the love of all things natural that feeds my soul. May you find such lessons in the wind beneath the wings of the birds!
Last night was the new moon. I thought I’d commemorate the event with a ritual. I don’t normally do new moon ritual but this month I was feeling the need.
I started the ritual as I always do by lighting incense and lighting a few candles. Then I got out my drum. I started drumming and chanting the names Cerridwen and Morrigan. These are two of my primary gods that I summon for all of my rituals.
Then I started to chant a hail to the moon. I asked for it to be with me and hear my ritual. I next began to state the purpose of the ritual. I kept drumming and to the beat I said words of my intention. My intention was to banish all old ways of thinking that no longer served me to make way for the new. The new I stated was to begin learning the tarot. I stated all this and thanked the deities for joining me. Then the ritual ended. Pretty simple and straightforward.
Then I went to bed. I had sent the intention into the multiverse to do its thing. I released all that I had done and focused on sleep.
I had a very interesting dream. In the dream my husband and I were exploring our tarot decks. I was overcome with a feeling of joy. So much joy that I started dancing a little dance! Then I told my husband I needed a new vocabulary to define myself. I needed to focus on more positive ways to define myself. I had been a definite negative thinker for long enough. Time for me to get positive.
When I woke up the dream was still with me as vivid as reality. I had a feeling of excitement and happiness just like in the dream. As I told my husband about the dream I remembered the ritual of last night. This dream was exactly what the ritual was about! Getting rid of old ways of thinking to make way for the new! The dream was letting me know that the ritual was doing its thing. I just needed to come up with a new way of thinking and talking about myself. It was all so clear.
Was this dream merely my subconscious reiterating the ritual to solidify the results? Or was it a message from the gods that I must do this work to move forward? I’d like to think it was a message from the gods. For me that’s what following the path of Druidry is all about. Connection with the divine. Guess who will be doing more new moon rituals in the future?
I read in my OBOD studies that Druids often had crystal eggs to assist them in their work. Always looking for a way to up my game I decided to explore this possibly. I got three different crystal eggs. One unakite. One lapis lazuli. One clear quartz crystal. Today I decided to work with the clear quartz egg.
I sat with it in my hands. It’s just the right size to fit comfortably in my palm. I relaxed and started my rhythmic breathing. Concentrating on the egg I was soon in a meditative state.
I asked the egg for what wisdom it could give me. I was soon rewarded with an answer of “Faerie”. This response puzzled me a bit as I admittedly have difficulty reaching out to faeries. Then as I continued the meditation I was shown one of the several plants I have in my ritual room. I was told to meet the faerie of that plant.
Ok I thought. I’ll give it a try. But considering my history of no real contact I didn’t expect much to happen.
I went over to the plant. I sat there with the image of the plant right before me. Then I saw a vision. It was a tall man with white hair standing next to the plant. He was wearing a green robe. I asked him if he was the faerie of the plant. He told me he was. I then asked him if he had any wisdom to share. He said simply “You are light. Behave as such.” Then he faded away.
I thanked the egg and put it away. Then I thought about what the faerie had said. And I was reminded that I am light. All of us are. We are all beings capable of illuminating the universe with our actions. It’s a message I need to be reminded of from time to time. We are all light. Maybe it’s time we all start acting as such.
I was in trance today. Most frequently of late I’ve gone into trance with no intention. I just open myself to whatever may come. This has lead me to a series of very powerful sessions.
As I was in trance I came upon a river. A wide broad river. I dove into the river to swim. Soon I was being taken down the river which seemed to have accelerated in force and speed. I was unable to control my own desired progress. I was no longer in control. Panic surged through my veins. I was on a fast and frantic ride. The sun was out and shining and the breezes were warm but suddenly there was a feeling of doom that overtook me. I didn’t know what to do. I splashed and tried to swim to the shore. No luck.
I managed to get myself turned around so that I could see where I was going. The scenery flashed by me. In the distance ahead I could hear a loud rumbling and crashing noise. The pace of the current seemed to pick up even more. It was with a sense of disaster that I realized I was rushing toward a waterfall. I knew going over the falls would be the death of me. But I could not think of a way to save myself. I was totally at the mercy of the rushing waters. And I was rushing to my death.
Suddenly ahead of me I spotted a tree that had grown branches over the river. The branches stuck out far enough that I could tell I might be able to grab one and stop my uncontrollable progress. I had hope.
Soon I was upon the tree. As I rushed by I grabbed at the branches. I missed. I grabbed again. Another miss. Finally at the third try I managed to actually grab hold of a branch and held on. My life depended on it. I pulled myself out of the river and collapsed on the shore exhausted yet relieved. My ordeal was done. The trance ended.
I was puzzled by the possible trance meaning. I knew on the surface it was about letting go of control and going with the flow. But what of the waterfall? I thought about it some more.
And like that it dawned on me. The river was the entirety of Druidry. All the lore. The pantheon. The honoring of the land. The great big huge sum total of Druidry. And once you immerse yourself in it all you must give in to its urges and natural progress. You need to loose control if you’re to experience Druidry in all its multifaceted splendor.
The waterfall was the sudden ending of the path. Druidry if you don’t have a branch to grab on to can take you far and fast. The branch was the wisdom I was accumulating through my studies of all things Druid. It was only through the gaining of wisdom would I be able to stop and focus myself. The branch was the wisdom I needed to focus on. Only then would I halt my progress towards a spiritual crisis of loosing control. I needed the wisdom to grab on to. I was thrilled to have found the branch before it ultimately was too late. Wisdom would prevent my doom of washing down the huge rapid moving entity that is Druidry.
I was in trance today trying to figure out what to blog about. I was in my sacred Grove. It was still and quiet. Peaceful. Suddenly all these animals started showing up. Deer. Rabbits. Birds of all sorts. And they seemed scared. I was confused by this as my Grove is such a peaceful place. Then they started talking to me. They told me they were afraid of humans. Because of what they were doing to their homes. They told me they would show me what they meant.
Suddenly the ground started shaking. A huge rumbling noise filled the air. Bulldozers appeared stripping away the ground and all the grass and plants. Men appeared with chainsaws. They started their evil work on cutting down all the trees. The animals started to frantically run around searching for cover. There was none. The men were so busy doing their work that the animals had nowhere to go. Finally exhausted and scared the animals started dropping to the ground. The bulldozers just scooped them up as they continued to strip away the land. My heart was pounding. I was sweating. I tried to yell and tell the men to stop. But I was unable to speak or make a sound. Now I was frantically running around just as the animals had done. My anxiety continued to soar. My mind was unable to form thoughts. I had never been this full of panic before. Finally I fell to the ground exhausted. Just as the animals had done. As I laid there waiting for the bulldozers to take me away too one thought did fill my mind. Stop. It must stop. My sacred Grove could not become a victim. And the trance suddenly ended.
As I was laying there back in ordinary consciousness I was still sweating and my heart was still pounding. It took me ten minutes or so to calm down. As I was calming down I was able to think. And the thought suddenly came to me. I had to do something to help fight. So I quickly researched the internet for organizations that were dedicated to the fight of conserving wilderness. I found one that spoke to me and my ideals. I became a monthly donor. It may not be enough. But it’s something.
The other day in trance I was shown a river. Not a big huge wide river. Just big enough it couldn’t be called a stream.
In trance I stood and watched the river as it rushed by. It was plenty loud and moving along at quite a pace. Along the bed of the river was a group of cattails. I was drawn to walk over to them.
The wind was blowing warmly. The sun was bright and clear. It was a beautiful day.
I picked one of the cattails and was instantly drawn inside it’s consciousness. I was seeing the world through the awareness of the cattail. The day was still beautiful. But everything I could “see” looked different. The plants all were surrounded by glowing energy fields like auras. These energy fields were fluid and ran one into the other. Everything was interconnected. Everything was distinct but still somehow part of the larger picture. The river beds were alive with energy.
I just had enough time for this all to register when a gust of wind snatched the cattail from my hand. My consciousness still inside the plant I was whisked away and into the river.
I landed on the river. It was warm and comfortable. I started flowing with the water. I was aware of all the life beneath me. Fish. Plants. Once again I was struck with the sense that they were all connected. A much bigger sense of belonging overtook me. I was the plant and the water and the fish and the wind all at the same time. I was huge.
Then the trance ended suddenly. I was back in my plain old boring body. Plain and boring in comparison to the wonder of nature I had just experienced. But a sense of the greatness stayed with me throughout the rest of the day. I was a cattail. I was a river.
I’m working my way through the book “The Celtic Shaman”. I’ve come to the exercise in the book where I’m to meet my inner Shaman. I prefer to call it my inner Druid. The purpose of this entity is to serve as a teacher for my studies. I thought that sounded pretty cool so I had a go at it. Here’s how it went.
I did all of my usual trance preparation. I lit incense. I drummed my drum. I held in mind the intention to meet my inner Druid.
Soon I was in a trance. It was misty and foggy. I kept drumming and awaited the appearance of my inner Druid from the fog. Soon I could see a figure approaching me. I waited patiently to meet this wise person who was to give me five gifts. What will they be like? I wondered. Soon I had my answer.
As the mist parted a white robed man appeared. He headed towards me. He had a bag with him. Soon I realized it was me! A slightly older version of myself but definitely me! I thought to myself that this was an interesting turn of events. Soon I was standing next to myself.
I asked myself if I was indeed my own inner Druid. I was assured that this was the case. I was told that I already knew everything I needed to know. That I had to just get to work and do it. The gifts I gave myself were a feather, a bundle of incense, a clear crystal point, a lapis lazuli egg and a crane bag. All of these were items I already had I protested. Exactly I was told. All the tools I need are in my possession. Now get to work!
I watched as I disappeared back into the fog. It was comforting to know I already knew these things and had all I needed. But it was also daunting to know I had to get to work. That I am the only thing standing in my way. Move over me! I’ve got stuff to accomplish!
So I have an apprentice who’s always Manannán this and Manannán that. I realized he was a deity I had no first hand knowledge of. So I figured it was time for a little trip to meet this dude.
I dug out my drum. I burned some incense. I started playing my drum and chanting the name of Manannán. Soon I was in a trance.
I was on the shore of a river. I could see across the waters there was a man in a boat paddling his way towards me. As he got closer I could see he had long strawberry blonde hair and wasn’t wearing a shirt. And he was muscular ! As a gay man of course I took notice of that!
He paddled across the river and up on to the shore. His big arms had no problem with this task. He got out of the boat and approached me.
“You wanted to see me?” I asked if he was indeed Manannán. “Who else would have made the effort to cross the river to greet you here? You realize you don’t need to worry about me ferrying you across for some time. Unless you’re ready to go now!” This he said with a smile. I assured him I was good thanks. “Are you in need of a foster father?” I told him Cernunnos was taking care of that for me. “ If that doesn’t work out keep me in mind. I’m pretty good at that” again with the smile. “Well you’ve met me now. And there’s nothing I seem to be able to help you with. So I’ll leave you with this piece of information. I’m older than the tribes themselves. So I truly belong to none though I have been known to affiliate with one or the other. But I really am older than that.” I assured him he didn’t look old. “Why would I want to look old when I can look like this?” Now he flexed his impressive muscles. He got in his boat and started back across the river. And that’s where my trance ended. That was my meeting with Manannán. Wow!