I feel like the longer I practice druidry, the more I sit and talk with the gods and spirits, the more I have to sit with uncertainty and contradiction, the more I have to let go of my own knowing. Not that I don’t have my own will or direction — I do, and I don’t truck with spirits that would deny that — but rather I have to keep accepting that, smart as I may be, I often don’t know better. The spirits aren’t omniscient or infallible by any means, but they are very old. They’ve seen a lot, far more than I have or ever hope to.
But still, it’s hard to let go. At Three Cranes Grove’s most recent high day ritual, when we asked “what do the Kindreds ask of us,” we were told, fairly unambiguously, that they wanted… joy. Seriously? Continue reading “Hard joy” →
Thanks to some mostly-online conversations, I’ve been thinking recently about how we talk with the gods, how they talk to us, what it means to have those conversations. Much of the work we do in ritual is mediated: there are prayers, there are offerings. We pull an omen; the seer interprets it. This is certainly communication, but it’s markedly different from the sort of direct verbal communication that we have every day with the people we encounter in our lives. And I think that for most of us, raised in the often-distanced cultural context of the modern monotheist religions, that sort of of direct verbal communication feels, by default, a part of the mythic past: maybe once people spoke with the gods, but certainly not now.
But that’s simply not true; many people do talk with the gods. I know I do. Continue reading “Talking with gods” →
I think a lot about death — not in a morbid way, as such, but as a sort of logical outgrowth of my cosmological beliefs. Think of it as a sort of religious logical proof:
IF we believe that the dead are still with us, or at least potentially with us;
AND we believe that it is to our mutual benefit to develop relationships with those many dead;
AND there are a lot more dead people out there than currently-living people;
THEN of course you’d think about death a lot, because your life is ineluctably braided through with the lives of those who have lived where you live, birthed who birthed you, loved who you love, worshipped as you worship. The dead are a part of the living.
Continue reading “More than dust” →
I often find myself at odds over what to do with the winter solstice. A lot of my fellow pagans are really, really jazzed about the narrative of the light triumphant returning after the longest night, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I get it, of course — the Triumph of the Light is a wide-ranging cultural trope, so I feel a little surge of excited joy when listening to songs about it, or ritual that use the narrative structurally — and I certainly mean no disrespect to anyone for whom the return of the light is a meaningful narrative: I’m very glad for you! But it doesn’t do as much for me, and I think I figured out why.
Continue reading “On embracing the Solstice Night” →
Death is on my mind today. Long-time readers of this blog will, of course, recognize that this isn’t really unusual, since I think a lot about mortality and our treatment of the dead. And certainly with an unusually awful early hurricane season combined with seismic activity in Mexico, I’m thinking about, and praying about, the dead and their survivors in Chiapas, in Mexico City, in Texas and Puerto Rico and Barbuda and beyond. But today I’m thinking specifically about Earrach of Pittsburgh, whose funeral is this afternoon.
Continue reading “For Earrach, Alex, and all the dead” →
Three Cranes Grove celebrates the Autumn Equinox in about 5 hours. I should be doing ritual prep right now — gathering music stands, printing programs, preparing offerings, doing some final cooking for the potluck — but I find myself sitting here, instead, thinking about the Equinox and the Wheel of the Year. Blogger problems, I suppose. But it’s exciting to get think about the feastday, because it kicks off a whole series of rebirths and beginnings.
Continue reading “The Autumn Equinox: beginning, and beginning, and beginning” →
This past Sunday, Three Cranes celebrated the feast of Lughnasa. As we have for eight years now, we did so at the Dublin Irish Festival. That in itself is a big deal: we get a very large crowd, mostly non-regulars, who attend a pagan ritual that receives equal billing with multiple Christian services (everything from an interdenominational service to a Gaelic mass to a ‘U2Charist’) at one of the largest Irish festivals in the country. Such very public reverence for the old gods is in itself a powerful instantiation of the vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin. But beyond the questions of organizational stature and presence, this year’s DIF — our ritual and the broader festival both — had me thinking a good deal about music and the ways its presence supports and shapes my spiritual growth and wellbeing.
Continue reading “Music at the festival: growth, trance, and the gods” →
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what it means to be an artist. Who gets to be an artist? Who gets to own that? What are the obligations of an artist? If they keep it to themselves, if they share to the world, what does that mean? As a writer and teacher these questions have been floating around in the back of my mind for a long time, but a few interactions recently have really amped them up for me.
Continue reading “Not letting ‘better’ get in the way of ‘good’” →
Tonight Three Cranes Grove celebrated Giamonios, the Gaulish end-of-winter moon. It was a small group of us, just four — we celebrated the Thargelia in honor of Artemis and Apollo as our public spring cross-quarter ritual just yesterday, so most people elected to stay home. But our intimate gathering provided a relaxed, informal resumption of our outdoor druid moons, where we cleaned out the firepit in our nemeton and rekindled our fires. At this moon we honor Belenos, god of the fiery sun, and honor the triple fire of sacrifice, inspiration, and fellowship. Our working in this small-group setting gave us the opportunity to speak from the heart: each person volunteered to speak on the fire in one of its three aspects, and I volunteered to tie them all together. So, with appreciative credit to Lisa Lea, Jan, and Thorne for their explications of the fires of sacrifice, inspiration, and fellowship, respectively — and with apologies for my rephrasing and reconfiguring of their words — some thoughts on the fire at the center of all.
Continue reading “Honoring the triple fire” →
The storm has arrived. Thunder rolls all around, lightning streaks from cloud to cloud, its forks mirroring the trees in their early-Spring bareness. Gather yourself, your bare feet, your cup of dark wine, and stand outside, barely skirting the drenching rain beneath the small overhang of the stoop.
Continue reading “An impromptu ritual for Lugh” →