Lughnasadh Ritual 2017

This was my second time celebrating Lughnasadh on August 5th. This year we traveled to the Muin Mound Grove near Syracuse, NY at the home of Rev. Robert (Skip) Ellison, former Archdruid of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF). He is also the author of 6 books (as far as I know) as well as divination tools. 

It was an honor and a pleasure to meet him and his family, as well as members of the Muin Mound Grove. It was his book, The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit, that helped me settle into a routine of making this druidy my very own and getting comfortable, as well as understanding the rituals.

For Lughnasadh, it is usually the custom for groves to hold “funeral games”, as is the tradition of the Celts. These games consist of skills of endurance and skill. Since the drive was so long, I missed the “games.” After meeting the grove, sitting and talking, and snacking, it was time for the ritual.

Some of the members of Muin Mound Grove wore their ritual clothes which was a beautiful sight to see. We started with pre-ritual and that was when I discovered the blessing it was to have a Bard in one’s Grove. The procession was a magical time walking to the ritual area while singing the procession song. One by one, we were all saged and purified by the sprinkled water and smoke from the incense upon entering the ritual area.

We all gathered in a circle and the statement of purpose was given. Then the most peculiar thing happened. At least to me it was. I have only had experience with one Grove, and only for the span of one year. The senior druid and another that was helping her, walked across the diameter of our circle to the other side and through, and then back again. It was a mysterious thing to me as I have never seen it nor did not know the meaning of it. Upon, searching their Grove’s website, I learned it was a sigil that Muin Mound Grove does. It was magical.

After, our Mother was welcomed and my favorite part of bestowing a kiss upon the earth for her was over, the bard started singing again. For the Two Powers Mediation, the senior druid did an effective job of leading us through and visualizing the underworld and upperworld and the power they behold. I really liked and felt the image of the light and power of the stars falling on us.

The portal song was done and another strange thing happened as I have never seen it but only read about it in ADF literature. The boundaries of the land, sea, and sky was done. This was such a thrilling part and I teared up because even reading about this makes me weepy. After each boundary was done the rest of the grove broke out into the chant and shivers were running through me. It was so primal and I felt as if I have done this before and felt the ancestors right there with us.

After the Gatekeeper was called to open the gates, the offerings for the ancestors, nature spirits, and gods and goddess were done. The offering for the main deity, Lugh, was given next. After, the rite was opened up for us all to go make an offering to whomever we were called to. I brought a cucumber as that was the only thing in my garden that was ready for harvesting at the time. My offering was to the Mother Goddesses that have helped me settle into accepting my role in this life.

The omen was drawn using the Ogham’s and then it was time for the return flow. I brought my own vessel that I thought would be perfect. Turns out the wooden cup leaked. Oh well. They had an actual horn vessel to use which was cool to see in person.

The toast and boast was next, which I did participate in, and then it was time to end the ritual by reversing the order in which the first part went.

It seemed like a long time and my feet were hurting from standing so long but I knew this was my sacrifice to the Kindred’s. I made it through and my heart was racing at the end from all the energy raised.

I really enjoyed my time with a different Grove; and it was an interesting thing to see how other’s do things a bit differently, while still maintaining the Core Order of Ritual for ADF.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

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Summer Solstice Festival

Summer Solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the calendar year. In the Northern Hemisphere it is around June 21st and in the Southern Hemisphere, it is around December 21st.  The word solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium. Sol means sun and sistere means to stand still.  So solstice means when the sun stands still. It only appears to stand still for a short time until the sun starts reversing it’s direction.

This day officially marks the beginning of summer.

To the ancients who lived by an agricultural society, summer was in fact well under way since the beginning of May at Beltaine when the livestock was put out in the summer fields and everything was cleansed of the long winter stuck inside. That is why this time is also referred to as Midsummer and Litha.

So why was this day celebrated?

To be honest, there really is no evidence that the solstices and equinoxes were celebrated by the Celts. But, as the ADF states, the lack of evidence does not mean that they didn’t (3). The sun was very important to them from the evidence and artifacts we have.

According to author, Rev. Robert (Skip) Ellison, in his book, The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit, we have “indirect evidence” from the Roman writings who mentioned that the druids, “knew the way of the stars and moon” (Chapter 7).

Let’s think about it:

Since the solstice stood for the sun and our ancestors paid attention to life giving power, it was only natural to have a celebration for the sun. The crops were already in and growing well and soon would be harvested. Why not raise the power by getting together with the community and have some fun and give thanks for all they had and will have at the harvest? Also, the sun had been staying out later and later and after this, the days would be getting shorter. So yes, they gave thanks for the sun that helped them grow crops and gave their livestock a break from the winter and a chance to thrive in the summer.  The sun meant life and a fertile time. Thank you sun!!

Traditions:

Since this is a pagan holiday, there are many customs, traditions, and cultures celebrating midsummer. This was the time to gather/harvest the herbs which were incorporated into their traditions and customs.

In the Isle of Man, which is between Great Britain and Ireland, they gathered green meadow grass and through the grass over the cliff to the sea to pay Manannan Mac Lir his rent. He was the sea deity in Irish Mythology. The Isle of Man may or may not have been named after this deity or vise versa (Ellison: The Solitary Druid. Chapter 7). This might be the reason why they felt the need to pay him rent.

Another interesting tradition was rolling a burning “wheel” down a hill. This burning “wheel” symbolized the blazing sun and if the “wheel” stayed lit at the bottom of the hill, the harvest would be abundant (Ellison: The Solitary Druid. Chapter 7).

The summer solstice was the time to celebrate the sun and give thanks and offerings for an abundant harvest. The celebrations included customs that symbolized the sun, harvest, and deities of the occasion. There are many traditions/customs that are still carried on today and/or is being revived in the present day. This not only connects us with our ancestors but helps us remember and honor the sun, the earth mother, and deities of old that keep us rooted to the land and our culture.

Sources:

(1) http://blog.dictionary.com/summer-solstice/

(2) https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/facts-about-june-solstice.html

(3) https://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/midsummer/wwtdd-summer-solstice.html

(4)  Ellison, Rev. Robert (Skip) (2014) The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit.

Photo Source: Michele O’Donnell

Dark Moon

You have heard of the New Moon and the Full Moon and all of the phases in between. But, what is the Dark Moon?

The Dark Moon is the period of time between when the moon is invisible and when the first sliver of the New Moon arrives. Hey, isn’t that the new moon? Guess what? No, that is wrong. You can read more about the Dark Moon here.  Go ahead, I’ll wait . . . . . .

Now isn’t that interesting! If you think about your body’s response to the phases of the moon; and if you are using the moon to manifest and release, this takes it to a whole new level. Or maybe that is just me. It does take awhile for me to put two and two together.

Maybe you are different, but when the calendar says it’s the new moon, the last thing I feel like doing is being positive and starting a manifesting cycle. I was never in the mood being all cranky, irritable, and achy . What I thought was the New Moon was actually, the Dark Moon. Now everything makes sense. Finally! Or until my next new understanding.

So, go ahead and use this time to release the negativity and honor your body. Let the negative energies flow through you and release them. Then you will be all ready to start anew with the first sliver of that New Moon.

On an aside note, those who practice magic and cast spells, apparently, have been using the Dark Moon for such things all along.

Do as you will, but harm none. I’m just concentrating on the manifesting part. For now, anyway. One never knows where I might end up (wink wink).

Photo Credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=119866&picture=phases-of-the-moon

 

 

Working With the Moon Phases

There is much information on how to use the moons energies during the different phases. You will hear much on manifesting with the new moon and releasing with the full moon. You can read about new moon manifesting here in an earlier post.

I have took note on the way the new moon and full moon affects my mood for a couple of years now. I’ve noticed that with the new moon I’m achy and irritable. This makes it very hard for me to be in a manifesting mood. With the full moon I feel alive, excited, and have lots of energy. Thus, it’s hard for me to release anything.

While searching for full moon releasing chant’s, I ran across a chant that was different. Usually you will hear about releasing undesirable traits or energies. This time it was geared more toward releasing your desires to the universe. That was a light bulb moment because I felt so weird releasing negativity while trying to manifest.

Then in my online searches, the dark moon came up. Another light bulb moment. Duh, that was the time when I was feeling achy and irritable.

What is the dark moon? The dark moon is the period of time between when the moon is not visible and when the first sliver of the new moon appears. So when you see the calendars marking the new moon, please remember that is the dark moon and then the new moon will actually be 1 to 2 days later.

By paying attention to my moods and how my body responds to the phases of the moon and the idea manifesting and releasing, I began to have a new understanding.

The dark moon is for releasing your negativity from your body. So honor the way you feel, nurture yourself. Take it easy with yourself. Realize this is a natural cycle.

Then after a few days, you will feel better and are now ready to start your manifesting with that first sliver of moon. Then start making steps to activate your desires with doing something toward those goals.

Then during the full moon, release all that energy to the universe and let the higher powers work their magic. During the next two weeks before the full moon, you call take stock and figure out how to take the next steps for more manifesting action.

Then you are back to the dark moon and releasing the negativity. It’s a very natural cycle that works well with our bodies.

It’s kinda like when everything in your life just clicks together and flows without much effort. Don’t laugh, sometimes things do line up like that. Maybe this is why? The stars really did line up for you, or should I say the moon.

Tonight the calendar says it’s the new moon. Remember it’s really the dark moon. So, I’m going to take it easy with myself and honor it. I’m making a plan on using that new moon tomorrow or Tuesday to start my next manifesting cycle.

Have you noticed how the moon affects your moods? It’s interesting to find out.

Photo Credit:  https://pixabay.com/photo-1099732/

 

 

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

 

 

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