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

Posts tagged ‘Ancestors’

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

What’s in a name? – part 1

My friend, and fellow ADF Druid, Leithin Cluan recently wrote about names on her blog.   This has gotten me thinking about my own names–first and last–and what they mean to me. (This particular post will just focus on last names.)

I’ve actually been doing a lot of reflecting on names lately, since I am getting married in a little over two months.  I had long decided to keep my last name and simply hyphenate my last name with my fiance’s.  This is very important to me, as it reflects my heritage along with my fiance’s.

My own last name is “Laughlin.”  Ancestry.com says: 

“Irish: reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Lochlainn ‘descendant of Lochlann’, a personal name meaning ‘stranger’, originally a term denoting Scandinavia (a compound of loch ‘lake’, ‘fjord’ + lann ‘land’).”  (1)

My name tells me who my Ancestors were–Vikings.  This is why I honor the Norse pantheon exclusively in my rituals.  Since I am the only unmarried person on my dad’s side of the family with this last name, I plan to keep it and wear it with honor and pride.

However, I also wish to honor my fiance’s heritage.  His original last name was “Casarez,” which reflects his Mexican heritage (though there is Irish in there too).  Interestingly, when his Ancestors immigrated to the US, it was spelled wrong as “Casares.”  This is interesting because “Casares” is the original spelling of this name, according to Ancestry.com.  The website says this about my fiance’s last name:

“Spanish and Galician: from the plural of casar, casal ‘farm’, hence a topographic name, or a habitational name from any of numerous places called Casares or named with this word, especially in Galicia.” (2)

For those of you not in the know, “Galicia is an autonomous community in northwest Spain, with the official status of a nationality,” according to Wikipedia. (3)  The article also states that this community is descended from one of the Celtic tribes.  the Mexicans who inhabit Mexico today are descended from Spaniards, who descended from Celts!  The Celtic tribes are usually associated with Scotland and Ireland, not Spain.  However, it is easy to see how someone with Irish-Mexican heritage is not really unusual with this information.

We have decided that our children, whenever we decide to have them, will take the hyphenated name so that they will remember all of their Ancestors.

Blessings, Victoria

(1) Ancestry.com.  “Laughlin Name Meaning & Laughlin Family History at Ancestry.com.”  2013.  Web.  5 July 2013.  <http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=laughlin&gt;

(2) Ancestry.com.  “Casares Name Meaning & Casares Family History at Ancestry.com.”  2013.  Web.  5 July 2013.  <http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=casares&gt;

(3) Wikipedia contributors. “Galicia (Spain).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Jul. 2013. Web. 5 Jul. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Galicia_(Spain)&oldid=562618521>

Reflections on Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities

Today I will share with you an essay I wrote about my understanding of and relationship to the Three Kindreds, ADF’s collective term for the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities.  Reflecting on the nature of the Kindreds proved spiritually fruitful.  Also, this is my personal understanding only.  It does not reflect the spiritual diversity found in ADF as a whole.  You will see references to the Upperworld/Heavens, the Midworld, and the Underworld.  These Worlds are simply a way to approximate locations for the Kindreds (and make Them easier for us humans to understand).

The Three Kindreds are categories of Beings that ADF uses to distinguish Them from each other.  These Beings are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Gods and Goddesses.  All Three Kindreds reside in the Otherworld, the spiritual plane that is beyond our normal senses but overlaps with our world.  Each of the Kindreds can be reached through formal ritual or informal spoken or silent prayer that may or may not include offerings.  For some people, meditation may be an ideal means of contact, though I personally have difficulties meditating.  In my experience, appropriate offerings include coffee, milk, and water for the Kindreds in general.  All of the Kindreds have provided me with blessings throughout my practice, such as assistance getting a bachelor’s degree, healing loved ones, and comfort in difficult times.

The first specific Kindred I will discuss is that of the Ancestors.  I personally divide Ancestors into three groups:  those of blood, those of heart, and those of spirit.  Ancestors of blood are those to whom I am biologically related, like my paternal grandfather or the Vikings (known through a DNA test).  Ancestors of heart are friends and pets who have passed, like my dog Sammy who was put to sleep, or my friend Phil who died during a kidney transplant.  Ancestors of spirit are those peoples who have influenced my spiritual practice, like the Ancient Druids, the Vikings, and even Isaac Bonewits, ADF’s Founder.  Most often, I offer coffee to the Ancestors because that is something more recent Ancestors would have liked in life.  I have offered Them white sage before, since the herb reminds me of my small percentage of Native American heritage.

My personal relationship with the Ancestors is a bit odd.  In many cases, I didn’t like my relatives much in life.  Once these same relatives died, however, I immediately mourned for their loss and respected them.  Now that I am older, I realize that without my Ancestors, I would not exist, at least not as I am today.  The mere existence of the Ancestors has taught me to be grateful for the family and friends with whom I am alive.

I associate the Ancestors with the Underworld because the bodies of Ancestors are generally buried within the Earth to become part of the material that nourishes Life.  This is Their way of providing sustenance for the Nature Spirits that once sustained Them (the Ancestors) in life.  I associate the Ancestors with the Land because They provide this sustenance for the Spirits, and They are buried within the Land itself.  To me, the Ancestors are also associated with the Sea.  Ellis Davidson mentions in various places in her book Gods and Myths of Northern Europe that many Vikings were buried in a ship or even cremated with a ship set to sea, resulting in my association of the two.

The next specific Kindred I will discuss is that of the Nature Spirits.  I feel that They are often overlooked in people’s personal practice that isn’t officially within ADF, since much discussion on the mailing lists seems to center on hearth culture and ritual in general.  The Nature Spirits provide sustenance for humans in the form of food and drink.  They also provide us with timber for shelter and fibers for warm clothing.  They make our lives possible, and thus deserve more respect and worship.

I feel as if I don’t have a close relationship with the Nature Spirits, but as I wrote in my nature awareness essay, I have a relationship with Them nonetheless.  I take a moment to look for birds in the tree outside my window when I get up.  I observe the sun’s position in the sky at the same general times of day throughout the year.  I pay attention to the phases of the moon.  I am happier on long sunny days, especially those in spring, because I am filled with joy and hope as I see new life appearing.  I maintain this relationship in a number of ways, one of which is making offerings to Them both within and outside of ritual.  Usually I offer bread, though They also seem to like organic lavender flowers and simple bottled water.

I associate the Nature Spirits with the Midworld because we humans interact with nature on a daily basis, though often just in the form of road conditions or temperature.  Of the Three Realms, Nature Spirits are associated most often with the Land, where most of Them live.  I also associate Them with the Sky because birds and rain (and other forms of precipitation) have strong ties to the Sky.  Precipitation ties the Nature Spirits to the Shining Ones.  Precipitation is formed by Nature Spirits put into motion by Shining Ones such as Thor, Zeus, or Frey (gentle rains).  In addition, the sun is usually personified by a Deity.  Its warmth helps plants (Nature Spirits) grow.

The final specific Kindred I will discuss is that of the Shining Ones, the Gods and Goddesses of various Indo-European cultures.  The Shining Ones are generally Whom we call upon for strength, fertility, extra money for bills, and matters of the heart.  Individually, They often choose a group of people who will dedicate themselves to Their service.  They also help ensure the Order of the Cosmos remains by Their power and magic.

My relationship with the Deities is generally one of asking for assistance with life issues.  However, I do offer Them simple praise and worship many times through the year, not just on High Days.  When I do ask for something, it is always accompanied by an offering, whether a lit candle left to burn itself out, food, a beverage, or just a few words of praise.  When I was working with the Hellenic pantheon, I often offered wine (red and white), bay leaves, and olive oil.  Now I commonly offer the Norse Shining Ones herbal incense made with wormwood, thistle, and dandelion, as well as mead on High Days.  I believe I have also offered Them frankincense a few times.

I personally see the Deities both around me (as the wind or fertility) and above me, so I associate Them with the Upperworld/Heavens and the Midworld, though They also have a presence in the Underworld as “ruler” of the Ancestors.  Related to this idea are the two groups of Deities of the Norse:  the Aesir and the Vanir.  The Aesir are the Deities of Asgard, the Norse version of the Heavens, Who govern abstract concepts like wisdom and war. The Vanir are Deities Who govern concepts like death and fertility, related to the Earth.  They have a special hall called Vanaheim.  I see the Shining Ones in all Three Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky.  They are in the Land as fertility and as the Earth Mother Herself.  They are in the Sea as rulers of the Realm and the winds blowing across the water.  They are in the Sky as the sun, rain, thunder, and lightning.

Works Cited

Davidson, H.R. Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books, 1964. Kindle edition.

 

 

A – Ancestors (continued)

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I realize that my post from yesterday could contain more information about my personal relationship to the Ancestors.

I used to do weekly devotional rites in which I honored each Kindred (Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Deities), but as the year went on, I found less and less time to do them because I was finishing up my last semester of college.  When I did do the rites, though, I made offerings to the Ancestors–usually coffee.  I thanked them for existing and being part of my life.

For Samhain, I honestly don’t remember what I offered Them (I didn’t write the offerings down).  However, I felt like the ritual honored Them in an appropriate way.  The Ancestors also felt this way, for when I asked Them what blessings They offer me, I drew Ingwaz, a rune of fertility and of the Ancestors themselves.  Upon further reflection, perhaps They were telling me that I was blessed with Their presence.

I have not worked more in-depth with my Ancestors, unfortunately, because of my living situation.  However, I find myself thinking of them often, especially with my wedding coming up in September.  I think about how I wish certain Ancestors could be there, and then I realize that They will be there, but just not physically.  I do wish I could visit my grandfather’s grave (alone) more often, as I would like to make offerings directly to his gravesite and sit in contemplation of the Ancestors in general.

A – Ancestors

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My first official post of the Pagan Blog Project is about the Ancestors.  The Ancestors are one of the Three Kindreds as recognized by Ar nDraiocht Fein:  A Druid Fellowship (ADF).  The Three Kindreds are beings that we see as worthy of worship and honor.  The other two Kindreds are the Nature Spirits and the Deities.  However, my post is about how I personally see the Ancestors and is not tied to any specific Pagan tradition.

Ancestors are those people and animals in my life who have died.  To me, there are three main groups of Ancestors.  These groups are Ancestors of blood, Ancestors of heart, and Ancestors of spirit.

Ancestors of blood are those people I am actually related to biologically.  They include grandparents and parents.  In my case, the Vikings are also Ancestors of blood, since I found out through a DNA test that I am 85% Scandinavian.

Ancestors of heart are those who aren’t related to me, but we shared some other type of relationship.  These include the dog I grew up with and a friend of mine who passed away last year.  This will also include members of my fiance’s family once they have died.

Finally, Ancestors of spirit are those with whom I share some sort of spiritual connection.  Since I am a Norse Druid, the Vikings are Ancestors of spirit in addition to Ancestors of blood.  Isaac Bonewits, ADF’s founder, is also an Ancestor of spirit since the tradition he founded is the one I work in.

The simplest way to honor one’s Ancestors is to simply light a candle and say a prayer of gratitude for having existed, as without the Ancestors we would not exist ourselves.  This prayer might be accompanied by an offering, taken outside, of something your Ancestors might have liked.  I offer coffee to my Ancestors.  Another way to honor them might be to visit their burial site, if you know where they are buried, and simply contemplate the time you spent with them (if you knew the Ancestor in life).  You could take along an offering to make directly upon their grave.  Telling stories about your Ancestors is also a great way to honor and remember them.

The continuation of this subject can be found here.

Autistic Druidry: Feeling the Kindreds

Today’s post is about connecting to what ADF calls the Three Kindreds:  Ancestors,  Nature Spirits, and Deities.  Special thanks goes to Rev. Ayliah “Amber” Cannon of ADF for providing these suggestions.

The Nature Spirits are perhaps the easiest to feel, in a tactile way.  Feathers, fur, bone, and other physical attributes of animals can be touched and contemplated.  I have a cat, a sort of resident Nature Spirit in the home, so I will try this next time she is wanting attention.  🙂  For non-animal Nature Spirits, I can touch the bark, branches, or leaves of a tree.  I can run my hands through the blades of grass in the backyard (before it gets mowed and when it’s warmer).  I could also smell flowers and herbs (I have a strong sense of smell as well), in addition to touching those to feel the silkiness of petals or the needle-like leaves of rosemary.

The Ancestors are also fairly easy to feel.  I know where my paternal grandfather is buried (he died a few years ago), and it’s not too far away.  I can visit his grave and trace the letters of his name with my finger.  I could also take some paper and a crayon along to make a rubbing of his stone.  (For more information, eHow has an article on how to make a gravestone rubbing.)  Another possible way of connecting with Ancestors is to hold the container of their ashes, if you have a relative that has been cremated.

Deities can be physically experienced as well.  To feel Thor, God of Storms, I might go outside in a thunderstorm and feel the drops of rain on my skin.  (If you do this, wait until the lightning has passed!)  For Njord, the Norse God of the Sea, Wind, and Fire, I could hold my hands over a flame or pay attention to a gust as it blows by.

Other Deities might be more difficult to experience in a concrete way.  Examples would be Odin, Heimdall, and Baldr.  If I find ways to experience these Deities, I will write a new post.

Blessings, Victoria

Aside

I woke up at 9 without an alarm; I had forgotten to set it. I missed sunrise, but sunlight was streaming through my window.

The Two Powers exercise went well.  I switched the Powers–meaning I put my right hand over steaming mug and my left hand in the soil.  I could feel the Sky Power strongly with my right hand.  Earth Power was a bit more difficult.  That’s something to work on!

Asked, “Kindreds,what blessings do you have for me today?”

Ingwaz–rune of Frey, fertility, honoring Ancestors

Wunjo–joy, bliss; general success, but be on the lookout for underlying issues

Othila–wealth passed down from generation to generation, completion of a task, being enclosed within self, inheritance

Perhaps some inheritance from the Ancestors is headed my way, perhaps not.  Perhaps the Kindreds are advising me to honor my Ancestors today.  I will honor them before breakfast with a cup of coffee.

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