The moon and Manannán mac Lir

It’s a godly time of year. As I write this, my Jewish friends are in the midst of Passover, and my Christian friends are celebrating Easter. My Facebook feed has been full, the last few days, of joyful exclamations: “Chag Sameach Pesach!” and “He is Risen!” Depending on the interlocking of the cycles of the sun and the moon, these two holidays sometimes align closely with the vernal equinox, but this year there’s been a lag of a couple weeks — my high day came and went weeks ago. Nevertheless, I thought I’d take advantage of the lunar tie-in (complete with a total lunar eclipse this past Saturday morning) to finally write a post I consider writing every 28 days or so.
Continue reading “The moon and Manannán mac Lir”


Reaching the end of my wintry rope

As a druid, I attach a good deal of importance to my attitude toward the seasons. If we are to view life and the natural world as a set of interlocking cycles, ever-repeating, then it behooves us to approach each part of our planet’s orbit with respect at the very least. I hope to eventually reach a state of spiritual development where I can greet each season with unabashed welcome, but at the moment I have lower aims: I’d settle for equanimity. This past weekend, however, I reached the end of my winter rope, and the subsequent days haven’t improved my mood. Continue reading “Reaching the end of my wintry rope”

Imbolc: life against all odds

Yesterday, Three Cranes Grove gathered to celebrate the feast of Imbolc, the time of the first signs of spring. We sang the praises of Brigid, goddess of the fires of healing, hearth, and creativity; we lit nineteen candles surrounding the Well, each representing a line from a praise-poem that accompanied the lighting; we reblessed a healing blanket that passes around the Grove. My friend Meg was there, with her son C, who also happens to be my godson. C is just shy of a year old, excited and curious about everything he sees. I was filled with joy to be able to introduce him to my way of honoring the Divine, and he went with me to give offerings to the Kindred and to sing a hymn of praise to Brigid. (Pro-tip: barley in a small plastic container turns out to be an excellent rattle, and I’m certain the Kindred didn’t mind exchanging some of their physical offering for the happiness of a child.) He is so full of innocent life, and I look forward to watching the springtime of his life as he grows and learns. This is Imbolc. Continue reading “Imbolc: life against all odds”

Offerings as transformations (and a recipe for cake)

Offerings are tricky things. As a druid, I believe in the power of offerings, sincerely made, to strengthen the bond between a spirit or a god and the person who presents them the offering. The offering is, in some ways, almost purely symbolic: the gods do not need the offering to survive, or anything so simplistic as that. The offering is, instead, a way of symbolizing hospitality and welcome: as we invite the gods to our rites and, at times, ask their aid, we also greet them with the hospitality of our respect and devotion, which we often symbolize through the giving of material goods. (Though of course we can show this devotion through intangibles, as well: a song of praise, a prayer, an action undertaken mindfully.)
Continue reading “Offerings as transformations (and a recipe for cake)”

Brigid’s hands, underneath

I realize it’s been a few weeks since I posted here. I got bogged down in work, including some travel, and then it started feeling like I had to come back with some big, crazy, summative thing. Luckily I remembered my friend Erika’s gentle reminder on a similar occasion: “you need time to be a person, too.” So let’s consider the past few weeks some personal fallow time. It is in fact winter, the time of the sleeping earth! But as February and Brigid’s feast of Imbolc approach, I feel life coming back to my writing, and I’m most grateful.

[As I was searching for an appropriate header image, I found the one you see above. It’s a simple, pleasant image, but the real key is the creator’s description on Flickr, where he refers to a flower associated with Brigid: “Where are the snowdrops? Underneath.” Just so.] Continue reading “Brigid’s hands, underneath”

December 24th, Part 2: Modraniht

[This continues the thoughts from “December 24th, Part 1: Christmas]

At Christmas, the figure I latch onto — the one who means the most to me, and who even through my conversion process has never felt far from me — is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The little babe, lying in the manger? He’s the centerpiece, certainly, but her sacrifice is far more compelling: to bear a god, to brave the opprobrium of her community as an unwed mother, to watch her son grow to manhood only to suffer and die as a common criminal, and to steadfastly care for and support him throughout his increasingly strange behavior and eventual death? That, I contend, is true strength and power. That is divinity. Continue reading “December 24th, Part 2: Modraniht”

December 24th, Part 1: Christmas

This past week my husband and I were out of town visiting his family. It was a great trip, full of beautiful locations, plenty of good food and drink, and lots of family fun. The only thing making it difficult for me was the holiday of Christmas, around which the whole holiday season revolves in both my husband’s family and my own. It’s not that I have anything against Christmas as such. I retain deep respect for the religious tradition in which I was raised, and from an entirely irreligious standpoint the civic celebration of yuletide is definitely festive and heartwarming — as the Andy Williams tune has it, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”  But when it comes to the feast of Christmas itself, I have such a welter of emotions and associations around the whole thing that I have a hard time with it.

Continue reading “December 24th, Part 1: Christmas”

Realizing the sacredness of the body

I’ve been struggling with my body the last few days. I’m just coming off a concert weekend (which had moments of profound meaning that I plan to write about soon), and that’s always hard: four concerts in three days is a lot of standing and interrupted eating schedules, and my body is fond of reminding me lately that I’m no longer in my twenties, that I need to move more and be mindful of what I’m eating. But these past few days have hit me harder than I expected: during the second concert on Saturday I was struggling not to pass out during a long formal piece, yesterday I had to skip participating in an anti-racist march I felt very strongly I should attend, and today I found myself on foot fifteen minutes from my house, suddenly and without warning unable to fathom walking the rest of the way home. This is almost certainly a blood sugar question; my mother is hypoglycemic, and the symptoms are pretty familiar to me from watching her. Continue reading “Realizing the sacredness of the body”

About the Locust

Within ADF Druidry, we honor three groups we refer to, collectively, as the Kindreds: the Shining Ones (that is, the gods), the Ancestors (those of blood, yes, but also those of spirit), and the Spirits of Nature. Everyone’s experience varies, however, as to how much they relate to each of the Kindreds. I relate to the Gods most easily: I was raised Catholic, and while I had many reasons for leaving that faith, a discomfort with deity was not one. As for the beloved dead, I haven’t spent much time practicing any veneration of my Ancestors, but I at least understand the concept. Nature Spirits, though? That one I have the most difficulty with. Continue reading “About the Locust”

What It Means to Hear

There are many functions of prayer — to praise, to implore, to thank, to express wonder, just to name a few — but for theists, prayer always communicates. More often than not, the communication only goes one way: we say or ask something of the Gods and spirits, we hope they hear and accept the prayer, and we go on without an answer. The Kindreds are certainly capable of answering, but hearing them, and moreover interpreting them, is a difficult skill. Continue reading “What It Means to Hear”