As many people are aware, November is National Novel Writing Month: participants have daily writing goals intended to spur them to complete an entire draft of a novel during the month of November. Not all of us are novel writers, however, but sometimes we like to join in the fun. Rev. Jan Avende challenged her fellow ADF clergy to write a prayer a day, and since then it’s taken off — not just with clergy, but also with bards, liturgists, dedicants; all manner of the folk writing prayers to the Kindreds. Continue reading A month of prayers: week 1
I don’t do magic, not as a general rule. I’m not even sure I think it exists outside of an internal psychological reality, though a number of people I trust seem fairly sure of it. But recently I found a situation that really seemed to call for a response that was, well, magical. A few days ago, a colleague came into the office at work, waving a piece of paper angrily. It was a flyer she’d ripped down from a a bulletin board in our academic building: an image of a bust of a Caesar in white marble, its empty eyes staring out above the legend “Serve Your People / Identity Evropa.”
I’ve been thinking, for a good six months now, about the question of benevolence (or malevolence) when it comes to the worship of the old gods. Specifically, I’ve been wrestling with what it means to worship gods who are closely identified with natural and elemental forces that, while they may at times benefit us, may also harm us grievously. In many ways this is almost the druidic version of the question of theodicy: the Christian attempt to reconcile the evils of the world with the existence of a ruling god seen as both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. It doesn’t entirely track, of course — rare is the pagan who proclaims an all-powerful or a perfectly good god — but the parallels are there.
Continue reading Worshiping forces of nature: the question of harm
In broadly pagan circles, it’s fairly common* to hear a sentiment expressed about our relationship to the gods that boils down to “we don’t ‘worship’: that’s subservient, and it’s what Christians do; we meet our gods as equals.” My more druidic circles tend to be a little less hardcore about this — we do often talk about worship, for one, though more commonly it’s phrased as ‘honoring the gods’ — but even here it creeps in around the edges. I’ve gone along with it for a long while, because that’s what you do when you’re finding your way, but last night I gave up on the whole rigmarole. If you want to try and have a non-worshipful, equal relationship with your gods, more power to you. But I’m dropping that pretense, because for me it’s a sham. Continue reading Ad majorem deorum gloriam: worshiping and serving the many gods
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 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)
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