Lost

Originally posted on Philip Carr-Gomm's Weblog:

sacredgrove

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~ David Wagoner

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Seamus Heaney and Me

Originally posted on A Druid Way:

Irish poet, Nobel Prize winner, essayist and translator Seamus Heaney died earlier today in Dublin at 74.  More than once I’ve quoted Heaney on this blog, not least because his work is accessible without being Hallmark-y, literate but not stuffy, and redolent of earth and earthy intelligence.  In other words, delightfully Druidical.  Rather than go all lit-critic here, I’ll give a tribute in the form of a modest personal anecdote. If I need any justification, we’re both farmers’ sons.

heaney2In January 1984 Heaney offered a 7:00 pm reading and book-signing as part of the long-running Brockport Writers Forum at the College of Brockport, a school that’s part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.  I mention this because at the time I held an unhealthy disdain for the SUNY schools.  They weren’t Ivies, and though a farmer’s son, I cultivated a decided snobbery that looks simply ludicrous now.  I…

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Circles, Why are they Important (or not) in Modern Druidry and Pagan Practice?

I had someone ask why we were ‘breaking’ the sacred circle boundary so often during our Samhuinn ritual on Saturday. My response.

Thanks for the note (name with held). Remember that any circle you may perform magickally is a construct to keep your mind focused. It is not required to do any healing work, or workings in general.. That being said: When we do public ritual with moving parts and invocations, we move ritual participants in and out of the circle. In this specific case, we invoked Cailleach – which was an exterior entry to the circle and ritually brought forward for the purpose of the Rite. The interesting thing is that it was one of the participants that transformed to that energy. No new energy added or removed from the ritual circle. So in a poetic way, we drew the Cailleach from the energy in each of us… If you reference some modern thought on magick circles and magick in general, you’ll see advice not to get too hung up on constructs cause you’re just weakening your own magick capabilities by relying on them. Kerr Cuhulain in his book ‘Full Contact Magick’ is a great reference guide for more contemporary quantum thought on Magick and less 18th century ‘mechanicalism’. He is a Wiccan practitioner and his book is great for any pagan tradition to draw from. It is very much in line with the OBOD traditional thoughts on the subject (druid and ovate grade) and expands a bit on areas of Magick that aren’t heavily outlined by the order. I have a few hard rules I use for our public rituals. This is to keep them grounded well and understood by a wide range of participants that may or may not be druids:

  • Don’t let people leave or join a circle where deep work is taking place (judgement call of the ritual leader). The energy being added or taken away is far more disruptive than crossing some imaginary boundary, though they are related loosely to understand who has ‘joined’ or ‘left’ the circle, or merely watching. You have to be strong practitioner to do public ritual because you are limited in your control of geography.
  • I ensure that we always do a standard opening and closing based on OBOD tradition. This creates sacred space (less about boundary) and more of a sacred place within each participant.
  • Certain level of uniformity in dress and ritual tools for the main directions and principals of the ritual. This shows unity and balance of the circle – also is a powerful effect on the dignity of the Rite itself.

John Beckett also wrote on the subject. You can check out his blog article at the link below. “The circle is also an organic arrangement for gathering. It gives everyone unblocked heat from a common fire. It allows everyone to see everyone and facilitates conversation. Like King Arthur’s Round Table, it promotes egalitarianism. The idea of gathering in circles is a very old, very natural, very pagan idea. While we can only guess at the purposes behind such ancient monuments as Stonehenge and Avebury, it is no surprise they are circular.” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2012/10/circles.html

ALG incorporates as a non-profit: Founder’s Open Letter to the Grove

Bards, Ovates and Druids and Seekers,

I love the title for the meetup (MONEY, POWER, RITUAL, (SEX?) IN THE GROVE). I think it bears some reflection as everyone crosses the threshold into the order and of Awen’s Light Grove.

Over the years, I’ve found that a few things lead practicing druids, or all Pagans for that matter, out into the world of ‘group’ activity. One ventures out because there is something inherently meaningful for doing so. I particularly like this quote, as it points to that spiritual realization that you can only dwell in your inner grove for so long:

“To forget yourself is the secret of life; to forget yourself in some worthy purpose outside of yourself.” – James Freeman Clarke

We come to a group to do something bigger than ourselves. In particular we built ALG for these specific goals that appears on our website and act as a touchstone for our purpose:

- Support the modern druid in his/her spiritual growth through the OBOD path

- Help make a difference by honoring our ecological values, and

- Celebrating the Wheel of the Year through druid ceremony and ritual.

That is the core. No personal agendas, no confusion on why people join and what you are doing.

So stay focused though you are building a bigger structure for the organization. Remember your identity as a group – you are a specific group, not an eclectic organization that follows the whims of membership as they come and go, and

Remember that peace and harmony are the essence of a well functioning Druid group. When you focus on your identity and goal, everything else makes sense and synchronicity occurs.

Blessing of Star and Stone as you celebrate your incorporation and new era!

/|\

Excerpt – Of Night and Day: Samhain Eve

“So I wonder, this year, is it possible for us to celebrate the living ancestors and not to have a gore-fest over dead remains of ancestors? The horror genre does not belong to this festival and only arose due to the Reformation when we stopped praying for the dead in Europe. Ancestors are like us. They loved, hoped, sat round the hearth, mourned their dear ones. Excluded ancestors can be scary because their pain overlaps our own lives: however, when we invite them to our hearth shrine, we begin to feel less abandoned ourselves.

It is the unmoving, lingering pain of ancestors who are stuck out of time that causes the horror and so why not do something about it? In his book, Images of the Soul, Dutch shaman, Daan van Kampenhout suggests this prayer whenever we encounter the pain of forebears: ‘Your pain is from the past. All that caused it has stopped now. Behind these tears is the pure strength of your soul. The soul is healthy and free, the suffering was only there when you lived, and now you live in spirit, so the pain has ended.’ Unless we actually address the excluded ancestors, then dawn will never arrive for them or for us.
Let’s try a different way and see what changes this Hallowe’en so that we can say this prayer with heartfelt joy:

I am the hallow-tide of all souls passing,
I am the bright releaser of all pain,
I am the quickener of the fallen seed-case,
I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain.
I am the hollow of the winter twilight,
I am the hearth-fire and the welcome bread,
I am the curtained awning of the pillow,
I am unending wisdom’s golden thread.

– Song of Samhain from Celtic Devotional by CM.”

Posted by Caitlín Matthews
http://caitlin-matthews.blogspot.com/2013/10/of-night-and-day-samhain-eve.html

The Brightness

Originally posted on Philip Carr-Gomm's Weblog:

Autumn-Lake

Falling autumn leaves teach us of the beauty of endings, of the bright flame of passion that doesn’t die but is reborn when life is transformed. The death of our bodies, relationships, dreams  and hopes can all feel deeply sad, and rightly so, for suffering is as real as joy, and loss is painful. But hidden within the darkness of loss lies a mystery, and although that mystery will always foil our attempts to understand it with our minds, Nature will sometimes offer us a clue as if to say: There! Can you see it in the brightness of these leaves?

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Does God Exist? and The Crowning Achievement of Druidry

Originally posted on Philip Carr-Gomm's Weblog:

Pen-on-TorA guest post by Penny Billington, author of The Path of Druidry

‘Does God exist?’ 100 Druids would doubtless give 100 answers, so it is helpful to start by addressing two questions. Firstly,  ‘What sort of people become Druids?’

As our earliest bards ritually replied; ‘Not hard to answer.’ We are those who wish to explore their spirituality through nature. And secondly, ‘Is Druidry a religion?’ Well, in the sense of belonging to a recognized organization with dogma and a belief system to which members must subscribe…. no. But many Druids do indeed embrace Druidry as their religion, so a Druid’s definition of and relationship to any God(s) comes from a very special place: Let’s examine it now.

Exploring spiritual connections through the landscape takes every Druid on a personal journey, through which they reach their own conclusions about deity. The start of that journey is acknowledging the spiritual…

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