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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Song Parody "24 Runes" ~ For Odin

  Inspiration is a funny thing, I can sit for hours trying to write and have nothing come to me, or I can be doing some mundane task and have a sudden burst of insight. This morning as I was putting my daughter on the bus for school a song parody went through my head as if it were writing itself. I decided to share it here. 
  
24 Runes - To the tune of Ernie Ford's "16 Tons"

 Some people say the world came from fire and ice
 and all the world's knowledge comes with a price
 Knowledge that costs and we all gotta pay
  some run towards it and some run away

Chorus:
You rist 24 runes and what do you get?
Another day wiser with every aett
Runatyr don't you call me cause I can't go
There's still too many things I don't know


Odin won the runes after nine long nights
  they rose up from the depths and into his sights
He snatched them all with a mighty yell
  for the Gods, elves, dwarves, and men as well

Chorus

Runes for healing and runes for harm
  runes for warding and runes for charm
There's runes for anything you might need
  but if you work with runes be ready to bleed

Chorus

You start learning runes and you'll be changed
   your whole world view gets rearranged
The more you learn the more you ask why
  and you keep on asking until the day that you die

Chorus

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Matronae

  Many aspects of my own practices, Irish pagan and Heathen, are separate ones but there are points of cross-over. My honoring of the daoine sidhe/land vaettir is one, and my honoring of Artio is another. A third is my worship of the Matronae, a triad of Germano-Celtic goddesses.
   The Matronae, whose name simply means "Mothers" in Latin, are found in Celtic (specifically Gaulish), Roman, and Germanic sources (Lendering, 2013). These goddesses are known from over 80 inscriptions on images found from France to Germany and through northern Italy, and can be found on hundreds of votive altars (Evans, 2005). The Matronae are usually depicted as three seated women holding symbols of abundance, including fruit, animals, infants, and cornucopias, as well as items like small pieces of cloth, basins, and spindles; the women wear long skirts and have one breast bare, possibly symbolizing a nursing mother (Evans, 2005; Green, 1992). Often the figures on the sides are shown wearing wide hats and sitting next to trees while the central figure has loose hair; in one case the inscription  was accompanied by an image of a tree, a snake, and a goat (Lendering, 2013; Green, 1992). Images also depict the Matronae being worshiped by women and by soldiers and being offered fruit and bread (Green, 1992). Although its difficult to know with certainty what the Matronae were worshiped for, most scholars surmise that they were related to fertility, abundance, healing, and protection. Many Matronae had distinctive names relating to the area they were in or people who worshiped them so it is also possible that they represented communal maternal ancestors, an idea supported by inscriptions naming them "matres paternae" which may be translated as ancestral mothers (Lendering, 2013). It is also possible that the Matronae were examples of cults of genus locii expressed in a set form, although Ross suggests that they are reflexes of tribal mother goddesses (Green, 1992; Ross, 1998). In specific locations the Matronae also had specific associations: the Matres Comedovae and the Matres Griselicae were associated with healing and specific healing springs, for example (Green, 1992).
My personal shrine to the Mothers

   I tend to relate to the Matronae as the Great Mothers, the Deae Matres, the ultimate ancestral mothers of us all, the uber disir. To me they are both ancestors and deities; they are a force which ultimately connects all humanity together back at the beginnings and which connects us to the land as a source of basic life sustaining nourishment. I use three images of paleolithic female figures to represent them on my altar and pray to them for protection of my home and family as well as abundance. I also pray to them for peace within my home and for healing, particularly of my children. I offer them fruit, honey, and bread, and celebrate them especially on Mutternacht, the night before the Winter solstice.

References:
Lendering, J., (2013) Matres, Matronae, or Mothers. Retrieved from http://www.livius.org/man-md/matronae/matronae.html
Evans, D., (2005) Matronae. Retrieved from http://www.celtnet.org.uk/gods_m/matronae.html
Green, M., (1992) Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend
Ross, A., (1998) Pagan Celts

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prayers to Flidais

This first prayer is one I use when making offerings, but it could easily be adapted to use as an invocation in ritual:
Prayer to Flidais Foltchaoin 

 Flidais of the soft hair
Lover, wife, and mother
whose magical herds
of hinds and kine
are rich in endless milk
who walks always
half in the wild woods
and half by the hearth
who nurtures armies
and heals the wounded
Accept this offering (alt. be with me now)

 I began to be drawn to Flidais during my third pregnancy, and particularly after my child's birth. During this period I have developed my own personal associations with her, including as a Goddess of nursing mothers. This is a prayer I wrote in that context.
A Mother's Prayer to Flidias

 Flidais,
 mother to many children,
Flowing with milk,
 flowing with abundance,
Bless me with
 plentiful milk for my child
As you nurture those
 who depend on you
May I nurture
 my little child
Bless him (alt. her) with
 strength, health, and growth
Bless me with flowing milk
 Flidais,
mother to fine sons
and strong daughters
 Let it be so

This third one is a prayer to find balance in a life that is often made of opposing dynamics. Flidais is especially good at this, I think, as a deity who is herself a balance of opposing energies.
A Prayer to Flidais

Goddess who claims
all animals as her cattle
who milks deer and cows
side by side
wife and lover
domestic and wild
help me to find harmony
with my life's extremes
Let me walk
in balance between
my own demands
May I see symmetry
instead of disparity
Let it be so
Gentle Flidais

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Prayer for the Year



This is one of the more interesting prayers in the Gadelica because it involves praying for calm seas at specific points throughout the year. In the original Gadelica version the dates listed are the old pagan fire festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh as well as the feast days of saints, however each of these feast days is on or within days of a solstice or equinox, so I have shifted the references to these. Taken with a larger view this prayer can be seen as one for peace and safety throughout the year. I would recommend saying it at the turning of the year, but it could be said with equal effectiveness at any point.  


Ocean Blessing 118

O gracious gods whom we honor,
Give to us your gracious blessing,
Carry us over the surface of the sea
,
Carry us safely to a haven of peace,
Bless our boatmen and our boat
,
Bless our anchors and our oars,
Each stay and halyard and traveler,
Our mainsails to our tall masts
May land, sea, and sky
 remain in their places
That we may return home in peace;
I myself will sit down at the helm,
It is Manannan
 who will give me guidance,
As He travels far over the waters
On the fields of waves.
On the Autumn Equinox, day of balance,
On Samhain
, when the old year ends,
On the day of the Winter Solstice,
Subdue to us the crest of the waves,
On Imbolc
, day of my choice,
Cast the serpent into the ocean,
So that the sea
 may swallow her up;
On the Spring Equinox
, day of power,
Reveal to us the storm from the north,
Quell its wrath and blunt its fury,
Lessen its fierceness, kill its cold.
On Beltane Day give us the dew,
On Midsummer’s
 Day the gentle wind,
On Lughnasadh
, the great of fame,
Ward off us the storm from the west;
Each day and night, storm and calm,
Be with us, great Gods
 of Life,
Be our guide in right-living,
Your  hands on the helm of our rudder,
By land, sea, and sky

  - excerpted from By Land, Sea, and Sky

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Justice Charms


These are charms from the Carmina Gadelica that have been modernized and made pagan. They can be used to help gain justice or to win in court, or to otherwise overcome legal difficulties. The person wishing to perform these charms should go before dawn to a place where three streams meet. Just as the sun is rising the person should make a cup of his hands and dip them into the water where the stream meet then wash his face with it, saying the prayer below. Afterwards he should proceed to court and when entering the building should look all around the room then say silently or quietly “Gods bless this place, from floor to roof, my word above every other and the words of all others beneath my feet.” (Carmichael, 1900).

Invocation for Justice 20

I will wash my face
In the nine rays of the sun,
As a Goddess washes her Son
     In the rich fermented milk.
Love be in my countenance,
Benevolence in my mind,
Dew of honey in my tongue,
     My breath as the incense.
Black is yonder town,
Black are those therein,
I am the white swan
,
     Queen above them.
I will travel in the name of my Gods,
In the likeness of a deer, in the likeness of a horse,
In the likeness of a serpent, in the likeness of a king:
     Stronger will it be with me than with all others.
***

Invocation for Justice 21

Gods, I am bathing my face
In the nine rays of the sun,
As a goddess might bathe her Son
     In generous milk fermented.
Sweetness be in my face,
Riches be in my countenance,
Comb-honey be in my tongue,
     My breath as the incense.
Black is yonder house,
Blacker men therein;
I am the white swan
,
     Queen over them.
I will go in the name of my Gods,
In the likeness of a deer, in the likeness of a horse,
In the likeness of a serpent, in the likeness of a king,
     I am more victorious than all others.

  - excerpted from By Land, Sea, and Sky

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spirit of place in the home

my monthly blog for Moon books is up http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/spirits-of-place-in-the-home/ looking at how we connect to spirits of place and why I think we should start at home

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Perspective - Hartford FAV's Blog

my new blog for Hartford FAVs is out - it discusses the way our perspective shapes our lives.  http://hartfordfavs.com/faith/doctrine-and-practice/perspective

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where the Hawthorn Grows

  I'm excited to announce the official release of my new book, "Where the Hawthorn Grows". It is based on this blog and includes an array of essays on my views and experiences as an Irish reconstructionist Druid. Right now it is available in paperback and will soon be out as an ebook as well.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Baby's First Bealtaine

  Bealtaine this year has been a wild and hectic affair, mostly done with my 3 month old son in my arms. Some people find children and babies a distraction in ritual but I love the energy and unexpectedness they bring. Children bring an unbridled enthusiasm, openness, and joy to ritual, along with a certain inherant chaos. Certainly carrying my son made it harder to get the May Bush set up and decorated on May Eve, but the girls enjoyed doing more of it themselves and the result was just as beautiful and definitely more unique. After decorating the May Bush we made a caudle for the Fairies and brought it out to leave at the base of our Hawthorn tree. As I was getting ready to say a small prayer to the Good Neighbors before offering it the baby started fussing so I sat down a little way off and told the girls stories about the fairies while nursing him. That seemed a wiser choice than holding a screaming hungry infant and rushing through the offering* and indeed after that was done and the caudle was poured out and the words said, as we walked away, a Robin - omen of peace, hope, and a happy home - landed in the tree's branches and began singing.
  The family ritual on Beltane itself was a low-key affair, dedicated to Macha and Nuada. I told the children the story of the Tuatha de Danann coming to Ireland and ended up talking about each of the four treasures they brought with them. We burnt juniper, rosemary, and vervain for cleansing and made offerings of cheese biscuits that we had cooked together. The weather was sunny and fair, although the spring has been so cold and dry our little Hawthorn has barely begun to leaf never mind have flowers yet; still I took the weather as a good omen for the coming summer. After the ritual I gave each of the children a small gift as a token for the holiday: a t-shirt for my oldest, a tin whistle for my 5 year old, and a placard with my son's name and its history and meaning printed on it for the baby. Later last night I did my own solitary ritual which included meditation and reflection on the winter that has passed and the summer that we are welcoming in.
  This morning, the third and final day of our Bealtaine celebrations, we walked around the yard and house burning an incense blend I make myself to bless the property. We gathered flowers and brought them in to decorate the breakfast table and planted some herb and flower seeds in our small garden, after mixing the ash from the earlier rituals into the soil.
  This Bealtaine has been hectic and in many cases things have been less about planning and more about enjoying the moment. It was amazing and beautiful, something shared with my children and full of joy. I felt that all the offerings were well received and all the omens were positive - more so than they have been in a long time. I am ready for summer and am already starting to plan the next holy day with an infant in mind...

 *The older I've gotten the more I've come to believe that it is the intent behind the action that matters the most, rather than the action alone. Actions devoid of heart are hollow no matter how well executed; actions done with heart have value. A sincere heart and genuine devotion are more powerful, I think, than the smoothest rehearsed ritual. There are many people who approach modern pagan ritual as theater, something to be preformed in awe and reverence; for them the precision and perfection of it is part of their honoring of the Gods. My rituals, while done with reverence and often inspiring awe, could never be described as perfect or precise. No, my approach to ritual is better described with words like "organic", "fluid", and "engaged" - and I suppose some people would add "casual" and probably "relaxed". For those who prefer the highly structured style I'm sure less kind adjectives would be used as well. Such is life. Maybe it's because I don't feel the Gods, don't connect to them, in highly structured rituals; I never have. It's in the spontaneous moments and the daily devotions that I feel that connection is strengthened. Give me a wild wood and a moonlit sky, or the edge of flood-swollen waters; give me a tea-light or milk poured out in sincere prayer and I am open to the Gods and they are speaking to me. Of course what works for me is probably useless to some others just as I know some other approaches do nothing for me. The ultimate point of ritual I think, is to create connection and open lines of reciprocity between us and the Powers and so for it to be effective it must create engagement both ways; we must be full participants and the Gods or other spirits must be responsive and present. Creating this in ritual is so difficult in groups precisely because what creates engagement in one person may do nothing for another. I use what works for me and what has nurtured a relationship with the Powers over the years; to each their own.