Cleaning for Brigando

Last weekend, Three Cranes Grove celebrated our Anagantios druid moon, the Stay-at-Home Moon. For this moon, we do exactly that: instead of convening together for ritual, we each stay at our homes and the priests go on their peregrinations, bringing the fire of Brigando to bless each home. There are a number of rituals and customs that we have around the occasion. Shawneen keeps a Kildare flame at his home, and the priests carry its flame in a candle lantern lit afresh from that flame in the early morning. Shawn also each year selects a new batik cloth to lay out as a brat Brìghde on Imbolc Eve, and cuts it into strips that the priests deliver along with our own flame-lit chime candle, to bring the goddess into our home. As for we grove members? We clean.

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Preparing the ground of hope

I’ve spent much of the day musing on hope, and on perseverance — what it means to continue on in the face of adversity, in the face of hurt and pain. As so often happens for me, multiple seemingly-disconnected items came in over the transom throughout the day, each piquing a different part of my brain, each cross-pollinating to make me consider the question from a new angle, or with a new exigency.

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The Cailleach, finally

It’s snowing as I sit typing this, here in Columbus. This would normally be a fairly uninteresting opening most years: it’s February in Ohio, after all. But this has been a very warm winter for us. That’s true for much of the country, of course, and for the globe, but I’m feeling it especially poignantly right now, since the winter storms that have blanketed friends in the upper Midwest, the Northeast — even the northern half of our own state — have encountered an unmoving bubble of warmth in Central Ohio, and at best only rained. Continue reading “The Cailleach, finally”

A month of prayers: week 1

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”

Social justice magic (maybe)

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.”

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Worshiping forces of nature: the question of harm

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.
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Ad majorem deorum gloriam: worshiping and serving the many gods

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”

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.)
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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”