A Poem for Beltane

Well, I’m a day late and a dollar short (four days, really, and let’s not get into the money), but here’s a poem I composed for Beltane. This is actually a rough draft of a poem I’m submitting for my clergy training, and it doesn’t scan, so don’t judge me too harshly. I do prose, not poetry.

Enjoy?

 

Feel the promise of the sheltering light—

Veils thin and the shadows seek to stay,

Fires of Beltane, shine brightly through the night!

 

Fairies and sidhe dance merrily in flight,

Enticing you, inviting you to play—

Feel the promise of the sheltering light!

 

Offers of bliss, promises of delight—

Even the wise fall victim to the fey.

Fires of Beltane, shine brightly through the night!

 

After months of need, the soul cannot fight;

For strength and aid, to the Kindred we pray.

Feel the promise of the sheltering light!

 

The Earth grows green, the summer is in sight—

Now shielding fires may help us find the way.

Fires of Beltane, shine brightly through the night!

 

In darkness, the need fires will shine bright.

Keep close, and soon the summer shall hold sway.

Feel the promise of the sheltering light—

Fires of Beltane, shine brightly through the night!

A Druid’s Challenge

Well, well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

This has been a difficult year. I’ve had some career set-backs and changes that led to starting a new job with more strenuous hours. My husband and I moved. My extended family has faced sudden loss. Things have changed, and not all for the better. It’s been Life, I suppose, with that all-important capital L that stands for all the little things we deal with day by day and never mention.

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I made a deliberate choice to blog less here. Part of that change happened when I took over SDF, but more of it happened before then. I realized that the constant self-analysis was making my practice too meta—when I was doing a thing, I was thinking about writing about doing the thing, and that was taking away from my experience of actually doing the thing itself. I cut back on blogging because I wanted to focus more on the moment of my practice.

Now, two years later, I’ve found that without that constant consideration and reflection, I’ve fallen into a druidic rut. My rituals feel the same. My devotionals, day by day, never change. The seasons shift around me, but I plug along, saying the same words and thinking the same things. I’ve lost the freshness and sense of adventure I had when I started, and my ability to experiment and question myself has stagnated.

It’s not a good feeling.

This blog and the ADFers I met through it were my first community. This digital space witnessed my early, breathless successes and my cheerful, clumsy failures. Here I explored what it meant to me to be a druid, and I questioned the world around me through the posts I wrote here.

I want to recapture that particular magic.

Ironically, given that I started as such a prolific blogger, journaling has proven to be my biggest obstacle to my clergy training work. I cannot make myself journal my practice every week. I’ve tried Google calendar reminders, I’ve tried Habit RPG, I’ve even tried siccing my husband’s nagging powers on me. None of it has worked.

I’m thinking of issuing myself a challenge. I would like to apply for ordination around this time next year. (Talk about optimism…!) It’ll be a commitment, but it’s absolutely doable. Here’s the tricky part, though: if I want to stick to the schedule I’ve made for myself, I need to commit to journaling every single week. Without fail. No, “Well, I’m tired, I’ll make it up next week.” Absolutely no, “But… I don’t want to tonight!”

Nope. No. No way.

So the first part of the challenge will be, for one month (or possibly the span between two High Days), I will blog here every week and write in my private journal every day. The second part of the challenge will be a self-directed druidic bootcamp, in which I practice trance twice a week and work on CTP essays twice a week.

It would (will?) be a challenge. I haven’t decided for sure if I’m going to do it. But Beltane is approaching, and I know I want to make a change. It seems as good a date to start as any other. I know I can do this, but I have to hold myself accountable to documenting my work.

What do you think, readers? Want to help me? Can you think of a better way to rope myself into keeping up with my liturgy and trance journals?

Gender Politics in Worship?

As part of my efforts to shake up my home practice, my husband is creating a random deity “generator” for me, a program that will email to me a specific deity or entity to honor during my nightly ritual. The list of deities comes from me, of course, and tonight I sat down to make it.

I listed all the deities I’ve worked with and felt connected to, as well as all those I’d like to get to know better. I put a lot of thought and care into those Beings I’d like to draw closer to my hearth. But as I began to glance back over my list, I realized that it’s pretty lady-heavy.

Am I, as a woman, inclined to worship goddesses rather than goddesses? Have I connected with them because of our shared femininity? Do I feel more comfortable praying to a Being who has, on some oddly-perceived level, more in common with me? Am I (I say this in a whisper) sexist?

What an interesting and alarming thought. I’ll be exploring this a bit more in the coming weeks.

How about you? Are you more inclined to worship a deity that shares your gender identity?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I resigned from my grove this weekend, readers. It was a big decision, and one that took me a long time to do. For a variety of reasons, it was the right choice, but there’s “a bend in the road” now, as Anne of Green Gables would say, and I’m not sure what’s around it.

I’m happy to be returning to solitary practice. As a grove member, I was often unable to balance my grove work with my personal work. That’s a failing of mine, but it became dire enough that I had to take steps to shift my focus. Home practice is the foundation of all practice, and because of that, it’s the most important.

Wish me luck! These are big changes, but I think they’ll be for the best.

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.