Talking with gods

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”

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More than dust

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”

Music at the festival: growth, trance, and the gods

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”

Singing: the voice, the body, and the gods

There’s a certain lift that can happen sometimes, when singing. Or, I suppose I should say, there’s a certain lift that happens to me sometimes when I’m singing, a moment when the composer has written a particularly stirring chord progression. Perhaps it’s a suspension where one line rises, aching, tipping on the edge of dissonance before resolving into the cadence. Or perhaps an unspooling of harmony, the voices calling out in unison and then peeling off until the music shifts from one monochromatic tone to a welter of harmonies intertwining. Or the inverse, a tangling near-cacophony of complex lines combining as if by magic to ring out one spare, simple motif.

Continue reading “Singing: the voice, the body, and the gods”

The mists, the sea, and the passage of souls

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”