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.
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.
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.”
As has probably been clear from the crickets around this blog, it’s been a long, busy summer. Work has been busy from the drop, with [largely welcome] changes in my job and in the way we do things at the university. June was given over almost entirely to a challenging show with the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus that took a huge amount of mental and emotional energy. And then only four days after closing that show, Jarod and I went to Denver with about 60 other members of CGMC to participate in the 10th GALA Festival, a quadrennial gathering of gay and lesbian choruses from throughout North America and beyond. We had the privilege of opening Festival, even before the opening ceremony, to thunderous applause and a strong sense of accomplishment (and relief!).
After that, July was smooth sailing as we spent the rest of the week attending GALA concerts, then flew off to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to spend a week with Jarod’s family in celebration of his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. I had started the “mental discipline” journal for the Dedicant Path just before we left for Denver, and I looked forward to fitting in some time for contemplation and meditation in and among various family activities.
I had no idea.
Earlier in the evening we had had a Grove study meeting. We concluded by going through a series of guided meditations, recording them for the convenience of future meditators. After a pair of grounding-and-centering meditations, I took the last reading, a brief trance journey passing through the Mists to arrive nearer the Otherworld. As the guide, I wasn’t able to make the journey myself — I was too involved in pacing my delivery and keeping an even, guiding tone for the others — but it seemed to be a successful experience, judging by the faces of the others when the meditation concluded. Continue reading The mists, the sea, and the passage of souls
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
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