An ADF Druid's trials, tribulations, musings, and victories

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A UU Beltane

I was asked to host a Beltane ritual at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend shortly after the normal service this past Sunday.  Leading up to the ritual, I was so thrilled simply to have the opportunity to provide ritual to the congregation in a very public setting.  Mostly I was excited to share my faith with others and to show them what Paganism is about.

This ritual was very similar to the one performed on Sunday that I wrote about here, with some small tweaks.  I added a final offering after the participant offerings to provide a climax to the ritual.  We also had everyone kneel down and touch the Earth Mother as we called Her to ritual.  We also asked the children attending to wave their faery wands they had made earlier to help us call them.

In my opinion, the ritual went very well–much better than the one on Friday.  The larger number of participants (about 7) probably helped things.  I also feel that the final offering provided a much needed “high point” to the ritual.  Almost everyone after the ritual said they enjoyed it and thanked me for it.

The picture of the Omen won’t post correctly, so I will simply write about it here.

The first rune I drew was Kenaz, torch.  I see this rune as a rune of transformation and purification.  The second rune I drew was Berkano, birch.  Berkano is symbolic of the Earth Mother and new beginnings.  The last rune drawn was Sowilo, sun and strength.  All in all, this is a very positive Omen that points to the warmth of the Sun, reverence of the Earth Mother, and a new beginning due to some transformation.

I am so glad I was able to give my church family a glimpse of my world.  I hope I have blessed them as much as I feel they have blessed me.

Blessings, Rosemary

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Beltane Blessings!

Today I hosted a Beltane ritual with my husband for a new friend and our roommate.  Beltane is a celebration of fertility, but we chose to celebrate the Faeries since kids were originally planned to be present.  (They couldn’t make it.)  Here is a picture of our altar after the ritual; I forgot to take a picture before:

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I am in love with this fabric; it is simply perfect for Beltane.  It is also silky and floaty, which the picture doesn’t convey–perfect for honoring the Faeries.

To begin, I said words to open the ritual and create sacred space, offering some thyme mixed with lavender to the fire.  Our guest said the prayer for honoring the Earth Mother and made an offering of bread.  I then called the Ancestors and tossed some mugwort into the flames.  Our guest called the Nature Spirits (offering thyme and lavender) and Deities–my husband poured some wine into the fire for their offering.  I honored the fairies with fruit & nut trail mix.

After personal praise offerings, I took an Omen for the ritual asking what blessings were offered to us.

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The rune on the left is Ingwaz, a rune of fertility–perfect for Beltane.  In the middle is Hagalaz, hail; I see it as transformative from harm to healing.  Finally we have Sowilo, sun and strength.  All in all, this is a very positive Omen for Beltane!

I called for a blessing into a bowl of water and sprinkled everyone with it, including myself.  We then thanked everyone we had called in reverse order, returned to ordinary space, and ended the ritual.

I will elaborate more on the ritual script on Sunday, after I perform it for the congregation at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend.  I prefer to keep the script private until then to have more of an impact on attendees.

The ritual was simple but beautiful.  I enjoyed it, and I look forward to performing it for my church.

Blessings, Rosemary

Devotional Omen 4/19/2015

Last week I was so busy I didn’t have a chance to do a devotional.  This week my husband and I performed a shorter, less formal devotional rite where we simply honored the Three Kindreds–Ancestors, Nature Spirits, Deities–and I honored Freyja and Sunna personally.  We did use the traditional ADF setup with three Hallows (Fire, Well, and Tree).  Here’s a picture:

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Our Tree is a lavender plant we had just bought today to put in the garden.  We also asked for a blessing and drank the blessed water out of the two cups.  We had a small bowl for offerings.

The Ancestors got some mugwort, the Nature Spirits received thyme, and the Deities were given frankincense.  I offered two cinnamon sticks to Freyja and Sunna.  We asked what the blessings were for the week.  This is what we were given:

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The first rune drawn on the far left was Uruz, manifestation.  Something we’ve been planning will come into fruition this week.  The middle rune is Othala, a rune of the Ancestors and inheritance.  This reinforces their presence during our small rite.  The last rune on the right is Thurisaz, a rune of Thor and protection.

We asked that we be filled with these blessings when we drank the water in our cups.  We then thanked each being we had invited in reverse order.

It was a simple ritual, but I feel it was effective.  I believe the Kindreds liked our offerings.  I felt my awareness shift as soon as I lit the candle.

May you be blessed, Rosemary

Devotional Omen for 4/5/2015

First off, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Easter, even though it is a Christian holiday.  If you’re like me, you still have family who celebrates and familial obligations require you to celebrate alongside your family.  If you prefer not to celebrate Easter, then have a happy day!  Spring is upon us!

I had a special altar set up for today, since yesterday I bought some tulips at the grocery:

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Our tulips served as the Tree, a candle as the Fire, and a small cauldron filled with water as the Well.  My husband’s and my blessing cups are in front.  The omen is on the left side in front of the little bag, and the bowl contains our offerings that we made during the ritual.  The white sage bundle was used to smudge the altar and ourselves before the ritual started.

We used the brief ritual liturgy from the Solitary Druid Fellowship.  As soon as I sat down next to my husband to perform the ritual, I felt a shift in awareness take place.  I also noticed (for the first time) that as I read the words for grounding and centering I visualized what I was saying.  I’ve never had that happen to me in a ritual before, so that must mean I’m getting better at it.

We offered bread to the Earth Mother and Ancestors, garden sage for the Nature Spirits, mead for Heimdall (our Gatekeeper), Freyja, Sunna, and the Shining Ones in genera, and Yukon Jack whiskey for the final offering.

Our omen was as follows:

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The Ancestors gave us Wunjo, on the left, which is joy.  The Nature Spirits gave us Hagalaz, hail.  I see Hagalaz as a rune of something oppressive “melting” into something of benefit.  The Gods and Goddesses gave us Thurisaz, thorn, and a rune of Thor.  Overall, I see this as a positive omen, though Hagalaz portends caution.

I wasn’t feeling well last week, so I hadn’t done ritual.  As a result, my week wasn’t as good.  I found myself in a sad mood more than usual during the week.  I made sure to find time today to perform ritual even though my husband and I had to spend time with our families today for Easter.  I feel confident that my week will be better this time around.

Blessings, Rosemary

Spring Equinox Blessings!

Today I celebrated the Equinox with my husband.  The people we had invited to the ritual were unable to come, so we celebrated on our own.

Here is our altar and fire for the ritual:

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On the altar are seeds and seedlings to be blessed, as well as my Sun Goddess circlet, offerings of bread, thyme, and eggs, and my rune bag.

Once the ritual began, I called upon the Keepers of Time and Place to transport us to a time outside of time and a place outside of place.  I offered them some incense that I had blended especially for the ritual.  Next we called upon the Nature Spirits, the Earth Mother, and the Deities of Fertility to be present for the ritual.  Then we offered praise and physical offerings to each being.  We offered thyme to the Nature Spirits, bread to the Earth Mother, and hard boiled eggs for the Deities of Fertility.

Here’s the Omen pulled when we asked what blessings were offered:

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The first rune on the left is Ehwaz, which is the partnership rune.  In the middle is Laguz, water and life.  The rune on the right is Fehu, the wealth and growth rune.  Laguz and Fehu are especially appropriate for this rite.  Overall I consider the omen to be very positive and reinforcing.

Next was the seed and sprout blessing, which used these words:

Nature Spirits, Earth Mother, Deities of Fertility…we ask you to bless these seeds and sprouts with your abundance and life.  May they all grow strong and tall.  May they nourish our hearts and souls with their gifts

We then said farewell to all the beings we invited to be present, including the Keepers of Time and Place.  We closed the ritual by saying:  We have come together to celebrate the Earth Mother’s awakening.  As we return to our daily lives, may we carry respect for Her and all of Nature forever in our hearts.  Blessed be!

It was a simple ritual, but it was beautiful in its simplicity.

Blessings of Abundance and Fertility to each of you!

Rosemary

Revisiting Druidry

I recently rejoined the Pagan Druid organization Ar nDraiocht Fein:  A Druid Fellowship.  At first I was apprehensive about returning because I had some unsavory social interactions with other members in the past.  I had also begun to struggle with ritual and other practices of the Druidic Path.  I decided to come back to ADF after more than a year because I had felt a pulling to read more about Druids of old and to study Indo-European mythology more in depth.  Now that I am back, I realized I missed the community, even though I felt it had treated me badly at times.  I missed the Druid Way and the beauty to be found in it.  I also wanted to complete some of the study programs available to ADF members.  For the most part, I am happy to be back.  I am still somewhat apprehensive about the social aspect of membership, but I am glad to have returned home.  We’ll see in the coming weeks if I am welcomed with open arms.

Blessings, Rosemary

Weekly Devotional, 10/21/2013

Today I got back into the habit of weekly devotionals.  The liturgy I used was the Solitary Druid Fellowship’s February Cross-Quarter liturgy (available here; scroll down to get to it), since that’s what I pulled out of my ritual bag.  I obviously modified it so that there wouldn’t be mention of any High Days and had a more “devotional” feel.

Here’s a list of offerings I gave to everyone:

Purification–lavender

Heimdall (Gatekeeper)–Oliver Winery’s sangria

Well–quarter dated 1989 (my husband’s birth year)

Fire–frankincense cone

Tree–sprinkle with water from Well and smudge with frankincense smoke

Ancestors–some “berry blend” loose leaf tea I found in my bag

Nature Spirits–lavender

Shining Ones–special Shining Ones blend incense from a fellow ADF member

Freyja & Sunna (my Patrons)–Oliver Winery’s sangria

Final Offering–also sangria

As I was setting up my shrine, I could feel myself entering an altered state.  I also get a sense of excitement when I’m about to begin ritual.  Throughout the rite, I felt very calm.  My voice seemed to resound in the Three Worlds as I did the first half of the liturgy.  I was confident and sure.

When making offerings to my Ladies, Freyja and Sunna, I apologized for not honoring them with weekly devotionals and asked they accepted my offering as both apology and praise.  I talked a bit about how each of them helps me get through tough times.

For the Omen, I asked three simple questions, one at a time.  After each question I pulled a card from the Vibrational Energy Oracle.

The questions I asked were:

Ancestors, what blessings do you have for me?

Nature Spirits, what blessings do you have for me?

Shining Ones, what blessings do you have for me?

Ancestors:  Dream Catchers, Nature Spirits:  Driving Force, Shining Ones:  Messenger

Vibrational Energy Oracle is copyright Debbie A. Anderson and Melissa Brewster, 2013. Photo taken by Victoria M. Laughlin-Casares, 2013.

The Ancestors gave me Dream Catchers.  This card I couldn’t figure out within ritual, so I am taking the time now to see what the deck’s author says.  “Without dreams, there is no future.”  That’s from page 31 of the booklet.  Perhaps the Ancestors are telling me to pay attention to my night dreams for I may receive clues about the future.  This phrase also seems to refer to the fact that every future starts out as a dream in someone’s mind.  I should go pursue those dreams.

The Nature Spirits gave me Driving Force.  To me, this means that they will compel me to do something.  Consulting the booklet tells me basically to be aware of my goals and to keep pushing towards them.

Finally, the Shining Ones give me Messenger.  This vaguely reminds me of my Hellenic days, when I honored Hermes as Gatekeeper.  Hermes is the Messenger of the Greeks.  Maybe Hermes is coming back into my life.  This card could also simply mean the Shining Ones are messengers of the Heavens and they will be sending me some important messages I need to watch for.

All in all, I feel like the Omen was pretty positive.  After taking it, I wrapped up the ritual and took the offerings outside, since my shrine is too small to have a fire pot in which I can burn them.

I feel so much better about myself and my practice after completing this ritual.  It is just what I needed.

My absence

I have been away for a while.  For the longest time, I was lost as to where my spirituality fit into life and whether I fit into ADF.  I was also having difficulties with family, and so I had moved in with my fiance.

Things have finally settled down, except for wedding planning for our ceremony in September.  I am more confident in my spirituality and my place within ADF, thanks to an outpouring of love and support for my fiance and me after his grandfather died.  My fiance has also been making sure we do ritual at least once a week, though we did forget last week.

I’ve also started a garden!  I am growing radishes (which will be harvested in the coming week), corn (a staple here in the Midwestern US), lavender, basil, bush beans, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, and a marigold to help keep harmful insects away!  I am doing this all in a Square Foot Garden, which takes up 16 square feet of space.  I’ve also started my own compost pile.

The garden and the compost are profoundly affecting my spirituality.  Every time I thin seedlings in the garden, I realize I am killing a plant.  Yet this death is not in vain.  The thinned plants go into the compost bin, where they will decompose into nutrients for future plants.  Death begets life.  I am becoming more and more aware of this truth every day.

We also celebrated the Summer Solstice with a ritual a couple weeks ago.  We were able to celebrate outside, with a fire in a fire pit.  Our Tree was the pile of branches waiting to be burned.  Our Well was my tiny mini cauldron, since we don’t have anything larger for that purpose (yet).  Sunna was the focus of the rite.  The ritual went really well, though our Omens suggested depression and infertility.  A few of my plants since then have not been doing very well, and I personally had a couple difficult days.

My fiance and I also went to a local Pagan festival with a couple friends at the end of May.  It was a great experience, for the most part, except for cold nights and rainy days.  The weather caused us to leave a day early.  However, we attended the opening ritual, which was Native American in style.  The ritual was a great experience.  I personally attended a dowsing workshop, which was very interesting.  I discovered that I wasn’t too bad at it.  I’m looking into it further for personal practice.  I also danced a Maypole for the first time.  I will probably change the tree picture above to a picture of the Maypole dance in progress.

I decided to come back to blogging because I missed being able to express my point of view on various Pagan topics in my own space.  I feel like I still have so much more to say!

Many blessings, Victoria

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

[I made an assumption about Joanna Van Der Hoeven, who writes the blog octopusdance that she just complained about trash instead of picking it up, since she didn’t mention picking any up.  I now realize this is a big mistake, as Joanna herself explained:

Hello, I never said I was too good to pick up trash hun – I have no idea where you got that sentiment. I walk away from every sacred site with someone else’s litter – I can never ever leave it there. From glass cider bottles on the Tor, to cigarette butts and the plastic wrapping that flowers are left it – these are always taken away by me to be disposed of properly. Perhaps you should have asked me first whether I do set the example before you assume otherwise? Please talk to me before expressing words such as these on your own blog – we share a mutual love for the earth, from the passion I can see in your posts! Awen blessings. x

Thanks Joanna for correcting my mistake!  However, I still find the rest of this post to be valuable.  Enjoy.]

[A] thought occurred to me after I had thought about [people who complain about litter but don’t do anything about it] for a while:  If you’re such a “good Druid[/Pagan/Wiccan/whatever]” and trash bothers you that much, why can’t you be the better person and show the Earth Mother you care by picking it up?  Not only is picking up trash an offering in itself (you are offering your time to beautify the Land), you are also setting an example for others.

When I was in college, I took the city bus to a stop downtown, then got on another bus that went directly to campus.  Every morning, I picked up any trash that happened to be at the downtown bus stop.  I did this to show the Earth Mother and Nature Spirits that I care, but I also did this because that particular bus stop (and the street on which it was situated) was very busy at that time of day.  By picking up trash, instead of staring at it and complaining, I showed other people that it’s okay to want to make the world a more beautiful place and that one person can make a difference.

Whenever my fiance and I go camping and hike in the woods, we pick up any trash that we happen to see along the trail or at the campsite for later disposal.  Just this past Monday, which was Earth Day, I picked up trash during my walk around the neighborhood.  I went out for a walk with the primary intention of exercising, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to pick up trash along the way.  My hands were full of trash by the time I got home since I didn’t think to bring a trash bag with me.  I put the trash in our bin and washed my hands inside.

Setting an example for others is what Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi meant when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

A message from the Kindreds

After saying a short prayer of thanks to Freyja and Sunna for their guidance and comfort, I did a divination with my new set.  I asked, “Freyja and Sunna, what guidance do you give me at this time?”  As I was shuffling the cards before casting them, the pink heart fell out onto the Fire section of the cloth.  I took this to mean that Freya and Sunna still care about me and offer their love.  After putting the pink heart back into the stack and shuffling some more, three cards fell out onto the Well section.  Two were facedown.  The one face-up was the shooting star, meaning wishes.  Since the Well belongs to the Ancestors, I at first thought “ancestral wishes,” but that made no sense.  Now I realize that maybe wishes to do with wisdom are being fulfilled, since the Well also represents Wisdom to me.

After putting those cards back and shuffling a little more, I put the stack in their little bag and pulled a smaller stack out at random.  Then I cast.

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The small plant emerging from the soil represents fertility.  It landed in the Tree section, which represents Nature Spirits and the Land on which we live.  So, be aware of the fertility around my home.  That is simple and straightforward enough, especially with Beltane around the corner.

The face-up cards in the Well area are the moon and pentagram, which represent intuition and magic respectively.  I find the appearance of the pentagram in this casting interesting, since I have recently joined a magical order.  Its position on the cloth probably means that it is somehow connected with my Ancestors.  Perhaps some of my Ancestors themselves were members, or perhaps the people who have traversed the same magical path before me will become my spiritual Ancestors.  The moon landed in a position where it appears as if it is waxing.  I see this saying that my intuitive abilities will increase, perhaps as a result of magic since it almost seems to point towards the pentagram.

In short, the message I am getting from this casting is this:  Pay attention to the fertility of the Land around you.  As you continue your magical studies, your intuition will increase.

I know it’s rather disjointed, which does bother me some.  If anyone has any ideas about reconciling everything into one statement, please let me know!

Blessings, Victoria

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