Nurturing the Feminine

I used to be at odds with myself. Where did I fit in? Who was I and what did I stand for? Am I living my truth or someone else’s? What the hell did I really want out of life? Why am I suffering through this life as a female because it would be so much easier being a male?

A lot of time (decades) and much turmoil went on and has been wasted. I say wasted because if only I could have had this wisdom earlier, my life would have been easier. I wouldn’t have fought so hard to change everything natural to unnatural. Unnatural is the way society strives so hard to mold us into being something we are not. But Alas, I guess we don’t really learn this until we are older and start searching for a better way.

I fought my way through being a kid, a teen, a teenage mother, a young wife. I fought from being poor and uneducated to being something more. I went through hell to finish a 2 year college with 4 kids and a husband. I went from one job to the next trying to find a better paying job that helped me take care of my family. Through all this I developed cysts on my ovaries and had to have a hysterectomy. I began exploring my symptoms with the spiritual causes. I really needed to accept myself and begin loving myself as I was.

I fought myself the most. Years ago I was searching to get my anxiety and depression under control and to find what I was looking for. I was always harping on the past, and wishing the present was over with and looking too far into the future. The future I wanted. I was miserable and not enjoying anything in the present. I was not enjoying my family, my job, or myself.

I remember one winter solstice, I asked the goddess Frigg to help me. She is the goddess of marriage, motherhood, fertility, love, household management, and the domestic arts. I called on her because this was what I needed to desperately work on. I needed to reconnect with my feminine side and learn to nurture myself and my family, and pay attention to my home. I needed to make my home my sanctuary. Things have been slow; but a lot of learning has happened. The other day the memory of me asking her for help came to me. I realized that she did indeed help me out. Even all this time that I have not given her much thought.

So this is changing. Frigg, thank you for reminding me! I just now found out she is also the goddess of the sky. Which is funny because all the birds are attracted to me and I find feathers everywhere.  And I do love the wind. Thank you Frigg for all your messages.

My life now is much more grounded and happier. I am in touch with the land, learning the ways of old, taking lessons from my ancestors; learning from Momma Earth, the gods and goddess and the nature spirits . I am much happier being a woman now. Which seems odd I know. But, that’s the way it is. I am being more creative and nurturing and teaching the grandkids about the kindreds and respecting the earth. I am wandering around at home in simple sun dresses and being barefoot. I am learning about the Druids and I am now at home with myself.

Photo Credit: John Charles Dollman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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Summer Solstice Ritual 2017

June 24, 2017

This was my second Summer Solstice Ritual with Northern Rivers ADF. It was held at the yoga center in Adams, NY in a little clearing not far from the house. There were seats for all and and a fire going in the fire pit.

We had pre-ritual where our senior druid explained what was going to happen and asked for volunteers for small ritual parts. We had a very short break and met outside where we gathered for the procession.

It is a thrilling feeling walking with your grove singing the processional song to the ritual area. You can feel the kindreds there with you, especially the ancestors. Its a nice feeling carrying on the tradition of celebrating the Wheel of the Year.

I had the honor of helping the senior druid with the purification by being in charge of the water. I really liked the feeling and felt like this was very natural and somehow I have done this before. I remember looking into a member eyes as I came to her and it was like looking into my own happy eyes. Our eyes locked and I saw such joy emitting from them; the same as I was feeling.

I also had the honor of welcoming the Earth Mother. I welcomed her in a virtual meeting and this was the second time in person. I think that it went much better and felt more natural. I actually wrote the invitation in my own words and it was inspired by an oracle card that I drew a few weeks back. It took a few rewrites and by then it was my own heartfelt invitation.

I paid close attention to how the cosmos was recreated and it made more sense and I guess I’m right on track with that in my own weekly rituals. Things are making more sense as far as understanding the ADF Core Ritual.

In the magical working a member gave her dedicational oath. It was so heartfelt and it was good to see a young person take an oath with such meaning and emotion.

Our Deity of the occasion was Manannan Mac Lir. He is usually our gatekeeper and it was interesting to hear about the sea god and he became more real to me. We decorated a wreath which symbolized the wheel that was lit on fire in times past and rolled on down to the water. The grove decorated the “wheel” with yellow flowers. Some of us crafted flowers out of yarn and paper to use as decorations. We burned the “wheel” in the “sacred fire” and it was a good offering to our sea god.

After the ritual, we had our dinner with simple picnic foods. The only thing that would have made the ritual better, is if two of my friends would have been able to come.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

 

Sun Appreciation

On my days off from work I like to go sit outside to drink my coffee and commune with Mother Earth. I talk to her and Danu and share my coffee with them and sit and contemplate on whatever comes up.

This morning it was badly needed as I had a difficult week dealing with things. I badly needed the sun to heal me and let the light in.

After my short sun mediation, I got to thinking about the ancients and how they worshiped the sun. Not specifically, but generally. I realize the significance now of such things. It kept them grounded to the earth energy and helped them appreciate the life giving energy that we receive on a daily basis.

By turning attention to the sun (and other things), you begin to have a very deep appreciation for these things that we just take for granted everyday. The sun is there for us everyday doing it’s job no matter if we think of it or not. No matter if we are appreciative or hurting our earth. It just does it’s job and waits for us to finally get it. We don’t have to earn it or be worthy of it.

This is a lesson for us to have patience for others. It’s very hard to realize things and have to deal with others who are not there yet. We can’t beat them over the head for them to get it. We cannot withhold our kindness and get angry with them. Also, we don’t have to earn and be worthy of basic human rights like food, housing, safety, education, kindness and respect. So this is my lesson for the trails of last week. We never cease to learn and it’s by paying attention to nature that we learn it. Let’s hope I can put this into practice.

Having appreciation sparks a feeling of protection also. We begin to protect our earth and the vegetation as well as the nature spirits. This is badly needed today. We need to protect our earth for future generations otherwise where would they live. We will be an endangered species.

So how did the ancients pay attention to the sun. I’m sure they greeted the sun every morning. The had their community festivals with their customs and stories. These customs helped bring the community together with a common goal and a deep connection to their ancestors. The stories sparked imagination and inspiration and helped them remember life lessons from generation to generation. Imagination and inspiration are the building blocks of creation. Let’s use them for building a better world. Let’s learn from our mistakes, from the past, and our ancestors. Let’s learn from the lessons of Mother Earth herself.

In modern times we take things for granted and do not think of the sun, moon, dirt, etc as being alive. But alive they are and emitting energy. Life saving energy. Yes, life is busy and full of strife. But lets slow down and concentrate on what really matters. What matters is not things. It’s not about how big and nice your house is. It’s not about how successful you become in business. It’s about people. Being kind, sharing, and compassionate to family and friends. It’s about happiness without harming others. That is what is going to matter at the end of life.

Perhaps by turning our attention to these objects we will once again become aligned with the earth energy and become kinder and more appreciative of others. So yes!! Go outside and greet the sun, talk to the sun, and thank the sun.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

Manifesting with the New Moon

What is the New Moon? A new moon is the Dark Moon: meaning the moon is not visible at this time. The Moon has just went from being full to waning which means that the illumination has decreased until it is no more. Then the process of the moons illumination begins again and is called waxing.

It is said that this cycle of the moon going from dark to full again holds a power of manifesting.

A new moon symbolizes new beginnings, new ideas, new intentions, new projects or just giving life back into an old idea. Therefore, this is an excellent time to use the moons power for our manifesting.

To take advantage of this moon’s power, one can do a simple manifestation. Make a list of what you want to flow into your life. A wish? A new intention? What do you want more of?

Hand write this on a piece of paper using strong positive language as if you already had it. Go outside and read your note out loud to the moon and then thank the universe. Store your note for future reference or make a journal entry if you like. Pay attention to thoughts, ideas, dreams, and opportunities. When they present themselves in the coming days; act on them. You will not regret it.

If you like, you can also use seeds and plant them after the ritual. You can also use birdseed and let the birds eat them afterwards.

State your wishes or intentions and then imagine them going into the seeds and your desires growing and growing.

For an example:

I will go outside to my special place in my yard and smudge. Light a candle and thank the earth mother, father sky, my spirit guides, the land spirits, ancestors, and others for all they do. I will state my intentions and desires and infuse them into the seeds. I will sit awhile and feel the power of the earth and moon and my helpers helping me with my desires and that it is already here. I will thank them all again. Offer my seeds to the land and blow my candle out.

You can make it simple or elaborate and make it your own. The note idea came from the internet. It is everywhere. And the seed idea came directly from Steven Farmer’s book, Sacred Ceremony.

The ritual/ceremony above is my idea for my simple ritual.

Another great idea, is simply to write down things that make you happy and that you want more of in your life. Keep the list with you and jot down anything in these next two weeks. The idea is to build up the ideas with manifesting power. And then on the full moon, burn this note or list. Thus releasing it with the power of the full moon. You can read this idea from this great blog.

Are you confused yet? Don’t worry, pretty soon this will make perfect sense.

Have you ever tried manifestations? Comment below with your experience or questions.

Corruption

As earth’s caretakers, it is necessary to get involved in politics. This is where laws and protections are introduced, hashed out, written, voted on and argued over. Protecting the environment against greed, pollution, mass extraction, and capitalism falls on each one of us. This is our home and the state of the earth’s environment affects how we treat each other. As anyone can see ,the state of the environment is in a very fragile place. The fighting, killing, and division of humans is also in a fragile state. We must figure out how this came to be before we can fix this problem.

How did we get here? Get where? To the politically corrupt atmosphere we find ourselves in today? To the complacency of and attitudes of Americans that have allowed this corruption and loss of freedoms to happen right under our noses and without a fight? How did we become so divided?

As Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, stated in his speech Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Atlantic City to the 1199 SEIU Unity & Power conference, we HAVE been here before. We’ve been here before lots of times. This should be no surprise.

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, is the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, NC; and the President of the North Carolina NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

The NAACP is a civil rights organization and is the oldest and largest in our nation since 1909. He is also involved in the social movement Forward Together Moral Movement. In addition, Rev. Dr. Barber has been the keynote speaker to hundreds of conferences, conventions, and events.

This was the first time that I have heard of the Reverend and I was prepared to just get through this “christian speech.” Instead, I was blown away! It wasn’t “preachy” like I was expecting it to be. He spoke of the real social issues going on now and in the past. How the issues are related and he outlined the key reasons for how we got in this political mess that we find ourselves in. His speech was educational, informative, and inspiring. He spoke with conviction, passion, and truth that moved you to want to dive right into action.

Action to what? Action to help educate and transform the social, moral, ethic, and attitudes of complacency that we find ourselves in.

During the Reverend’s speech, he brought out the different policies that if taken singularly would not seem like a big deal. But, when put together and realizing what people specifically they affected, you began to see there was an insidious plan that led to our sorry state of affairs today.

Below are a number of reasons that Dr. Barber brought out in his speech that led us to the political atmosphere of today.  This is in no way the only issues or reasons that are to blame. The main points are paraphrased and the explanations are in my words.

Political & Religious Corruption

Do I need to explain this? I’m sure we all are aware of what bedfellows the politicians and religious leaders are.  Despite the notion that there is to be a separation of Church & State. The two entities have been mixing company for centuries. As a result, the people and their issues no longer matter. For them, it’s all about the money and power, and keeping the masses in control.

Refusal to use Political Power for Good (complacency)

Because of the above explanation, politicians are complacent on issues and policies that negatively affect the very people that they claim to help. This means that bills and policies that get voted into law, that directly hurt millions of people, are put through without much resistance.

We the people have also become so complacent that we don’t even notice this happening and do not put up any resistance. And if there is any backlash from the people or organizations, they are discriminated against as to dismiss their causes as being irrelevant.

Inequality

The inequality of Americans is getting steeper and steeper. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.

In order to control the masses it is necessary to create division and keep us fighting amongst ourselves. Therefore, we are so distracted that we do not blame the real culprits for our problems.

Racism

This is another tool to keep us unequal and fighting amongst ourselves. In fact, the governments very policies directly effect whole sectors of people to keep them down and out. This includes policies that keep communities unsafe, polluted, and incarcerated.

Voter Suppression

Good ole Gerrymandering. The process of manipulating a districts boundaries so as to have a political advantage. This either helps or hurts the citizens of the district.

Included in voter suppression is Voter ID Laws. You can research why ID laws are a way of targeting a demographic so as to limit votes.

Incarceration is also a big suppression. The crackdown on laws concerning drugs and alcohol target certain demographics more than others. Mass incarcerations keeps the “riffraff” locked up and when and if they do get out, they are prevented from ever voting again.

Undermining Any Resistance Efforts of the People

What is involved in resistance? Besides the violent kind, we have protests. strikes, boycotting, letters to editors of newspapers, letters to our government officials, etc.

When the people rise up and let their voice be heard, they are undermined by derogatory coded language and others are convinced that their cause is not justified so as to dismiss their concerns as nothing. This has been an effective tactic which causes many to not want to act in the first place.

Not Understanding History

Many people have forgotten their recent history. Therefore, they do not realize that events have been repeating themselves and we keep making the same mistakes over and over. Read and educate yourself on the history of the United States of America. See for yourself how events have repeated.

Racially & Derogatory Coded Language 

This is a big one. Snowflakes. Crybabies. Liptard. Social Justice Warriors. Feminists. The list goes on and on. These are the words to describe any liberal, Democrat, or left leaning people. We are so delicate as a snowflake. We cry about issues. Social Justice Warrior is a big one that I have an issue with. Why is being concerned about social justice a bad thing? Why is standing up for human rights wrong? Why is protesting for women’s issues wrong? Women will even discriminate against other women and feminists and make it seem that we do not have any issue at all to be concerned with.

These are a few examples of how the establishment has used these tactics to keep all of us divided and under their control. These are some of the reasons that have led us to this moment in time. This is how we got here. Have we had enough of this yet? How are we going to undo it and right the wrongs?

Who will be brave enough to Rise and Resist? 

Beltaine Ritual 2017

The procession down the path to the stone circle was an ancient sense of déjà vu. It felt so right and I had a sense of reclaiming my heritage at long last. I felt the ancestors and God’s and Goddesses there witnessing and joining us in celebration of Summer. The nature spirits were twinkling and sparking in the fields letting us know that they were there too. The fields were full of magic.

Once there, our Senior Druid briefed us on what was going to happen. We sang our opening song and proceeded to join in a circle amidst the stones. An offering was made to the Outsiders in exchange for leaving us alone.

The ritual began and it was satisfying to be outdoors in nature with the nature spirits and the earth mother beneath our feet. I kept my shoes off for much of the ritual to connect with mother more fully.

The Two Powers meditation was fulfilling. Using the powers of the underworld and the upperworld and joining them to create a more magical, grounding, and powerful experience was effective.

I had the privilege of welcoming the Earth Mother to our ritual and I offered her cornmeal. I had the opportunity to welcome her in a virtual ritual but this was so much more. Being with my grove members in the physical plane and amidst the stones was a magical experience.

Also, I took part in adding the silver to the water during the portal song. That was unexpected as it was just decided upon right before ritual. I was not sure how and at what moment to do so and was premature in the implementation but it all worked out.

In addition, I welcomed the ancestors. I have done that a few time now and I love welcoming them and feel deeply connected to them. I offered them something different at the suggestion of a grove member and it seemed right. I offered the ancestors coffee. I heard they can get thirsty.

So to me, this was a very special occasion and was filled with emotion. Not only was this my first Beltaine celebration, but it was my first time at the stone circle. Plus, I had three roles in the ritual: welcoming the Earth Mother and ancestors, and adding the silver to the water. To me it was magical and the best ritual I have witnessed in the whole year of participating in ADF.

After, the offering to the Kindreds, the main deity was honored: An Dagda. Our senior Druid told the story of him and who he was. She is a good storyteller and makes me want to delve into the stories of the deities.

I mentioned earlier that I had three parts in the ritual. I actually had one more. During the magical working, I publicly dedicated myself to Danu. She is a mother goddess. This part probably did not mean much to the others. But, to me it meant the world. For some reason, that I cannot fully explain, it was important for me to do this publicly and in ritual. Originally, I had planned on making an offering to her and silently saying my dedication in my mind. I was not sure how or when that was going to happen. As it turned out, there was unexpected changes the morning of the ritual and the opportunity arose during the magical working. So the way opened up and I was scared to death, but forged ahead.

As always, the return flow was powerful and the toast and boast helped build connection with the other members..

After the ritual, was our “feast” I brought a jello fruit salad. I made and brought that in honor of my physical mother who always made that during my childhood.

I am grateful for my grove and the opportunity to participate and help them celebrate. I know I still have lots to learn and lots more practice needs to be done for the roles during ritual. But, I am up to the task.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

 

Beltaine Festival

The temperature is getting warmer. The grass is greener. Birds are everywhere chirping their songs and greeting us in the morning. It’s time for the flowers and vegetation to shoot up from mother earth again. The excitement of summer and the possibilities are in the air.

It’s Beltaine Time

Beltaine is a Gaelic seasonal Spring festival mainly celebrated in Ireland and Scotland around May 1st. It’s a cross quarter day meaning that it falls between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It can be spelled in a variety of different ways from Bealtine, Beltain, Beltane and is derived from a Celtic word, belo-te(p)niâ, meaning “bright fire.”

Spring  marked the beginning of summer or the light half of the year. In ancient times a pastoral life ruled the day. Therefore, this was the time to put the livestock out in the summer fields. Many traditions of new beginnings, cleansing, and fertility rites were observed. As usual stories were told from generation to generation to help remember traditions, rituals, and to remember the Gods & Goddesses of the land.

Bright Fires

As the name implies, fires were a main aspect of this festival. After being cooped up for the winter both livestock and dwellings were symbolically cleansed by the sacred fires. The Druids who led the people in their rituals and festivals would make two bonfires side by side on a hill.

It was thought that fires had protective magical powers and they would lead their livestock between the fires to be “cleansed.” Afterwards, the townspeople would pass between the fires or jump over a fire to insure good luck. Each household would light a torch which they then used to relight their hearth fires and candles.

I can’t help but think about how the Indigenous tribes used sage and tobacco for it’s cleansing properties. This cleansing with smoke is still carried out today with sage bundles, sweet grass, incense, etc.

The fires may have also symbolized the sun which was needed in plenty to help ensure the growth of the planting season.

Ashes

After the fires died down, they used the ashes to rub on themselves, the livestock and the ground for good luck for the growing season.

Fertility Rites

One popular fertility rite is the May Pole Dance. A large pole was erected in the ground symbolizing the Green Man (nature) fertilizing Mother Earth (land). As we usually do, we like to have fun at festivals and the May Dance was born. Ribbons were tied to the pole and the unmarried men and woman would alternatively dance around the pole thereby wrapping the ribbon around the pole in a woven design.

I’m sure this served to help get the men and women together and interacting for their own personal fertility rites

Feasting

Part of the festival included feasting. Feasting is something that has carried over in the celebrations of today.

Today’s Celebrations

This festival marked the beginning of the summer with fertility rites that ensured the success of the growing season. The livestock was put out in the summer fields after they were cleansed. The hearth got cleared out and fires were relit for the season. It was a time of great joy and celebration and the promise of new successful beginnings.

In modern times, we still celebrate this festival with rituals, feasting, dancing, and much joy. Although, our life has shifted from pastoral life to town life, it’s important that we keep our focus on nature and attune our lives with it to help us stay grounded and connected to the earth, ancestors, and the nature spirits. After all, we are all connected. This assures a more fulfilling satisfying life.

What are your Springtime Rituals? Please share.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maypole

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/30/beltane-2015_n_7182440.html

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell