Healthy Self-Promotion

I hope my readers will forgive me a little bit of schilling for my new Etsy store.

You can find it at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwistedMagic

I’m selling miniature wire trees, perfect for altars! I’d also like to branch out into a little more stone and metal pagan artwork. Here’s a sample of my work:

apatite

Please think of me kindly if you know someone who needs a representation of the Tree for their altar!

A Short Nightly Devotional

This is the devotional I do at my altar every evening before bed. It’s short (10 minutes, give or take, depending on your preparation level, and how long you want to meditate), and designed to create a state of peace and gratitude at the end of the day. Each phrase starts “global,” by thanking the Being for a wider part they play, and then moves “local,” thanking the Being for helping me in personal ways.

I say “designed,” but a better word would be “evolved”: the words I use have changed and fluctuated a lot over the last years, and they’ve finally settled into something I’m happy enough with to share. Last night I wrote it down, because a friend of mine told me she rarely has time to do daily work at her own altar, and when she does, she has a hard time finding the words to speak.

I mentioned preparations, but not much is required beyond standard ADF Hallows: a well, fire, and tree. My well is always filled, and it sits with my candle-fire and tree on my altar, along with three candles for the three Kindred. Beneath my altar, I have a basket with bags of oats and other dry offerings, a bottle of whiskey, and incense, so offerings are at my fingertips.

The truth? You don’t even need the Hallows. An offering bowl and a bag of oats will do the trick.

So, here you are:

Grey Wren’s Short Nightly Devotional

I come before the Sacred Well, the Sacred Fire, and the Sacred Tree to give thanks for the blessings given me this day. If desired, spend a moment meditating on the Well, Fire, and Tree: a short Two Powers meditation works well here.

I give thanks to the Earth Mother for the support and sustenance she gives me, in this rite as in all things. (Make offering.) Hail Earth Mother.

I give thanks to the Ancestors for making my life possible, and for the guidance and blessings they give me. (Make offering.) Hail Ancestors.

I give thanks to the Nature Spirits for sharing this world with me, and for the guidance and blessings they give me.  (Make offering.) Hail Spirits of Nature.

I give thanks to the Gods and Goddesses for the magic they bring to this world, and for the guidance and blessings they give me. (Make offering.) Hail Shining Ones.

Optional: Repeat this pattern to thank your patrons for their presence and for in your life. For example, I might say:
I give thanks to Brighid for the warmth and inspiration she brings to my home, and for the guidance and blessings she gives me. Hail, Brighid.

Optional: At this point, I draw a tarot card to serve as message for the day to come. I leave it on my altar throughout the next day as a reminder.

I gave thanks to all the Kindred for the presence in my life, and the blessings they have given me.

 

And that’s that.

Doubts, Dreams, and Other Things

I’m still here, readers. I’ve been through some very exciting personal things, and some very intense doubts about — well, lots of things.

But my daily practice has remained. It is my rock, the one constant thing in my life, every single day — aside, of course, from brushing my teeth and dealing with my contact lenses. Every night, before bed, I make offerings, give thanks, and perform a divination for the coming day, and that decompression time is frequently the quarter of an hour each day that keeps me sane, in spite of all the wonderful craziness in my life right now. I’ve even added to my practice with monthly retreat days, and I find myself looking forward to those retreat days like a traveler in the desert seeks an oasis. Those days ‘refill the well’, as writers often say, and they give me the spiritual sustenance I need to carry on in the midst of daily life.

That daily practice is what proves to me that I’m on the right path. In spite of my busyness, in spite of drama and conflict, in spite of my insecurities and occasional doubts, my dedication to the Kindreds and to the druid path have no wavered.

Did you know I’m working on the pre clergy training program classes, readers? It’s true. I’d like to be an ADF priest one of these days. My life has just gotten so much more complicated, and I’m about to start dedicating 110% of my time to my fiction writing, so this dream will take a little bit longer to accomplish than I would like. But I will make time for my studies, just as I make time for my devotionals. I feel the call, and nothing—not even achieving my professional dreams—will change that.

In the mean time, I just need to learn a little bit more balance and call on the discipline I learned in my DP studies. I’d like to finish my first essay for my first class this Sunday and submit my work, just before the legal new year begins. Keep me in your thoughts, and wish me much distraction-free time!

If you miss my writing, and if you find yourself looking to refill your own will, check out my post at SolitaryDruid.org, and browse a bit while you’re there. Teo’s liturgy is wonderful, and I think my own contribution is nothing to sneeze at. Be well readers, and pray with a good fire. I hope to return more regularly in 2013.

The ‘Shoulds’ and Individual Agency

I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter on the ADF mailing lists about the ways we should live, the ways we should change, what we should do because the ‘Ancients’ did it; a lot of people are concerned about the right way of developing a hearth practice, the right way of meditating, even the right way of living.

I find it troubling because ADF is not a religion of dogma: yes, we care what you do in ritual, but we’re not going to tell you how to live. Granted, our principles should guide and shape your way of living, but we’re not going to tell you, “BECOME A VEGAN,” or “ALWAYS OPEN THE GATES AT YOUR HOME ALTAR”.

The clinging to an imagined ancient way of life troubles me, too, and for almost the same reason. Even if ‘the Ancients’ had a uniform lifestyle and religious practice (which they didn’t), they still lived in a completely different world than we do. They ate fruit and meat they could gather and hunt, yes, but they did that because they had to. And they offered blood sacrifice because, well, that’s what they did.

But we don’t have to do either of those things. We have the luxury of eating December clementines shipped from tropical climes. We have the luxury of frozen, pre-prepared meats. We have the luxury of offering expensive fermented beverages instead of blood. Our world is not the world our paleopagan ancestors lived in.

My umpteenth-great-grandmother couldn’t vote. She couldn’t choose to become a fighter pilot. She couldn’t make choices about her world beyond the scope of her own home. She might have died in childbirth, or of appendicitis, or she might have shared my congenital heart condition and died at 27 because she didn’t have the option of life-saving surgery. And her umpteenth-great-grandmother couldn’t even conceive of things like voting, rights, or even luxury.

We have to live in our own world.

Yes, it’s right and pious to want to offer traditional items, but the fact is, we know more now than our ancestors ever did. They would, I think, want us to make safe, responsible choices for ourselves and for our earth.

It all boils down to those words: safe, responsible, and choice.

We need to be safe. We need to keep our planet safe. If that means not offering our own blood without a finger stick or the means some women have, then don’t do it. Don’t go slicing your palm open with a kitchen knife and risking infection and injury. If safe actions mean offering polished rocks or carved wood to the well instead of pollutive silver, then change your behavior. Don’t mindlessly stick to tradition, even when tradition can hurt you.

We need to be responsible. Only we can develop our home practice. Only we can do the work and create relationships with our patrons. Only we make the necessary life-changes and start trying to preserve our Mother Earth. Saying, “Well, how do you do it?” or “How did the Ancients do it?” is declining to take responsibility for your actions. You are giving up your agency in favor of the choices of someone who may not know better.

Finally, you have to choose to pursue right action. You must commit to doing the work, to spending the extra time, to trusting your own educated instincts. Refusing to make your own choices is, again, irresponsible. You must value your own knowledge, experience, and intuition, and you must decide to make your own choices.

The beauty of druidry is that it values our individual agency. By venerating the ancestors, we are honoring the spark which makes us all human, that gives us the knowledge that we must choose responsibly and safely. We live in a different age, now, and our agency comes with a lot more duties: and most of those duties involve making the right, sustainable, safe choices.

Please don’t throw away your agency. It’s the most valuable thing you have. Only you can use it, and it’s the driving force that will put you on a path toward better self-knowledge and a better understanding of your religion.

Samhain 2012

I haven’t been posting much here lately (I’ve been busy with other druidy things, I swear!), but I will say that our grove had a lovely Samhain celebration tonight. I love the dark half of the year rituals when it’s cold and afterward everyone huddles around the fire chatting and eating home-cooked food. I loved our ancestor altar tonight, set aside in a pavilion away from the ritual area, hung with veils of tulle and lit with dozens of candles. I also love it when the tulle catches on fire and I have to bound across the pavilion saying, “Sorry, but FIRE! FIRE!” and then we team up to put out the fire–and then we move on. I love when everyone does their best and is focused and supportive of everyone else. I love it when we all wear our cloaks. I love it when everyone takes a semi-negative omen seriously and pulls together to make things right with the Kindred. I love it when we sing with gusto, if not well. I love it when we giggle over the waters of life because it’s just so marvelous that we’re receiving the blessing–and it helps that the alcohol warms us up after we’ve been shivering for 45 minutes! I love it when birds or bugs start singing and we all catch each others’ eyes and grin. I even love it when the fireworks go off at the stadium when ritual falls on game nights, because the fireworks always seem perfectly timed.

I love it when it’s just so real, and I come home so aglow that it takes me hours to fall asleep.

I love being a druid.