Patterns of Devotion

I have written in the past about my deepening devotional practices. Today I wish to share with you how my devotions have changed.

I used to honour my ancestors at the dark moon, Maponos on Sundays and, Brigantia, Epona Rigantona and An Cailleach around the full moon.

Then I joined a flame tending cill with Clann Bhride and began flame tending in honour of Brigantia every twenty days.

I can’t even remember exactly when after that point that other things began to change but at some stage I began to honour Epona Rigantona each week on a Friday. I chose a Friday because Epona is my beloved and Fridays in the past have been linked to deities of love (see Wikipedia Names of the days of the week if you are interested).

It felt good to be honouring Epona each Friday so I decided to start honoring An Cailleach on a Saturday. I was now honouring different deities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus every twenty days flame tending in honour of Brigantia.

Then Loki came into my life.

I used to consider myself to be solely a Brythonic Polytheist.

Then Loki came into my life!

That bit bears repeating.  Loki brought change with Him.  I wasn’t looking for Sleipnir’s Dam and I didn’t expect or invite Her (at least not to start with) but for some reason best known to the Bound One, He decided to bring Her changes to me.

One of those changes was that I started to include Loki in my weekly devotions.  At first I tried slotting Him in on Thursdays but that didn’t feel right. So I switched to Saturdays, prompted in part by something I had read that suggested Saturdays had been linked to Loki in the past.  I can’t remember exactly what that was now but I switched days and it felt much better.

But it didn’t feel right honouring An Cailleach on the same day so after a bit of thought I decided to move honouring Her to Mondays.  There are aspects in some of the lore which I believe indicate ties to the moon for An Cailleach so this seemed to fit well.

For a couple of moons I tried to keep the lunar links I had made as well but that became a bit confusing as I ended up trying to honour two different deities on one day.  For me that became confusing and I felt I wasn’t doing justice to my devotions to either deity when the days linked into full moon cycles.  I decided drop the full moon devotions in favour of the weekly ones for a moon or two to see how it felt and I’ve kept that change.

So now I honour different deities on four days of the week and another every twenty days. I’m also no longer solely honouring Brythonic deities.  At first I thought maybe Loki would be in my life for a set purpose and then maybe wander off but at the moment it feel much more like the Sky-treader is here to stay.  The current pattern feels good with one exception and that’s the ancestors.

In dropping the full moon devotions I found I began to lose touch with the lunar cycle and the pattern of honouring my ancestors at the dark moon began to slip as well.  I still have my ancestral shrine area and still think of varying ancestors at different times but the more ritualised devotions have fallen away.  I’m still not sure if I need to start on a weekly basis for honouring my ancestors or try and restore the dark moon practice.  I think maybe moving to a weekly based practice would work out best, if so I have my choice of Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday currently free of other devotions. Maybe Wednesday as that day has links to deities of communication.

My journey with devotional practices has not been a swift one but one that has gradually altered to a more frequent family of devotional practices.  And I know that I am still changing and that my practices will also continue to change.

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Musings about Brigantia and Loki

I’ve written elsewhere about being a flame tender with Clann Bhride which means every twenty days I light a flame and look after it for twenty four hours as a devotional act.  During my last flame tending I found myself thinking about both Brigantia and Loki both of whom have fire symbology.

Brigantia and Her sister-self Brighid have many links to fire but it seems to me that the link is to a tamed and channeled fire.  The fires of the smith, of crafting tools and artworks; the fires of inspiration burning in our minds transforming imagery and emotion into words and pictures others can see; the fires of justice wielded with fierce discipline to forge a fairer community; the fires of the healer used to brew, to warm, to comfort; the long ago fires of a home hearth bringing warmth and security to our human homes.  She is not the fire itself but the one that wields, channels and tames the fire and in turn teaches us ways to use fire.

Loki is not one that uses fire, instead he is a fire.  He does not teach how to channel the heat, how to use the energy to craft and create.  He transforms. He changes. That doesn’t mean that he can’t direct and wield fire, he can because he knows what he is and so he can choose what to burn, what to transform, whether to be a single glowing ember that waits or a burst of flame that burns.

They are beings of different cultures, Loki and Brigantia, and yet I feel that there can be harmony between them, probably not always, but enough.

Neither being can be constrained into just one aspect of their identities and I’m in no way intending to give the impression that I wish to do that. This is just what musings have come to mind at this time where fire and flame symbologies are concerned.

Where I am concerned I feel they have in some way joined forces.  I need to change but I have a fear of loosing control, I fear the untamed burning and yet I know I need to be pushed forward.

 

Bridey’s Gift

Your beauty drew me close.
I reached out, gently touched you,
Gazed on you, mesmerised.

Silently I asked to draw closer.
Deep inside I felt your welcome.

I crept down beneath your sheltering skirts.
Sat, curled, at your feet,
Felt your life surround me.

Deep breath of wild garlic.
River laughter and spring bird song.

I closed my eyes to better feel your embrace.
My spirit slowly rose within me,
My soul let drop my burdens.

Triple tree woven into one.
Your gift to help me be.

me and tree
Embraced
looking up
Feeling
Being
Being

 Photos by Neil Pitchford, Awen Photos

Celebrating a year of Flame tending with Clann Bhride

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In January 2015 a couple of weeks before Imbolc last year I received an email from the Clann Bhride blog announcing the formation of a Clann Bhride flame keeping cill.  I had two other happenings the same day as I received that email which led me to send an email requesting to join the  Clann Bhride cill.  My first flame keeping shift, along with the others of that group, was Imbolc 2015.

A few minutes ago at sunset here in Glasgow I began my first anniversary flame tending shift in the knowledge that in various places in the world others in the Clann Bhride cill would also be tending flames to mark Imbolc, a festival that more than any other is devoted to Brigantia in all Her many names and faces.

Flame tending was the first step on a journey of deepening my devotional practice to the deities I love best.  This year I intend to further deepen my devotional practices by adding practices intending to strengthen my relationship with the local spirits of my home and environment in addition to continuing the other practices that have developed over this year.

Here in Glasgow I’m also a member of Tuatha de Bridget an open group that holds rituals for each of the main eight festivals that are open to the public.  This afternoon we held our Imbolc ritual which I had the privilege of writing and leading.  I have chosen to share the text of this rite below.

Imbolc 2016

Guide: We come together to honour Brighid on this Imbolc day. Let us start with peace.

North: May there be peace in the North

East: May there be peace in the East

South: May there be peace in the South

West: May there be peace in the West

All: May there be peace throughout the world.

Guide: Let the Spirits of this place be honoured.

Libation offered to the Spirits of Place.

Guide: Let the circle be cast to focus our energies and hold our purpose together.

Circle is cast.

Guide: Today we celebrate Imbolc. Seasonally this brings our attention to the first small signs of the coming spring in the land around us. More importantly it is a day to honour Brighid in Her many names and faces. We are Tuatha de Bridget, the tribe of Bridgid, it is right that we honour and praise her as we call ourselves her children.

Is Bridey the same as Bridget? Are they the same as Brigantia or St Brighid? Are the tales that remain fragments from different individuals sharing that name or remaining threads of a once whole mythos?

Does each aspect reflect a facet of a whole being like the faces of a gem? Or is each aspect more like a unique stained glass window lit by the same source of light?

These questions are part of Her Mystery and any answers may be different to each of us.

She is unique as a being whose stories and devotion spans both Pagan and Christian worlds. Today we honour Her.

North 2: I call to Brigantia of Justice, She who was known to the Lands of Northern England and Southern Scotland as tribal deity of the Brigantes tribe. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

East 2: I call to Bridget, Lady of Poetry, She who inspires artist, poet and storyteller, She who brings Awen. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

South 2: I call to Bridey of the Forge, Lady of Fire, She who will forge our souls to Her purpose if we let Her. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

West 2: I call to Saint Bridget, Generous Lady of Healing, She who is known as a Patron saint of Ireland and whose flame burns once more at Kildare. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

Above: I call to Bridget the creator who sings out with the stars of the universe. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

Beneath: I call to Brigantia of secrets and mysteries whose voice awakens the land. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

Centre: I call to Bridey of Hearth and Home, mother and protector. Lady, we honour you.

All: Lady we honour you

Guide: Many are Her faces, Many are Her names. Many names of one being or one being reflected in many incarnations. Today we honour Her mystery.

(Pause for silent contemplation)

Guide: I ask that the youngest and oldest among us join together to offer this libation of milk to Her on behalf of all of us.

(Eldest to speak on behalf of us all, youngest to pour out the libation)

Guide: I now call on three children of Bridgid to come forward and together bless the food and wine for sharing among us.

(One to hold the wine, one to hold the food, one to speak words of blessing for food and wine)

(Food and drink to be shared in the usual fashion for our group)

Guide: We have now shared food, drink and toasts, would anyone like to share music, song, story or poetry?

(sharing of music, song, story or poetry)

Guide: It is time to draw this rite to a close so let us thank Brighid for Her blessings.

Centre: I call to Bridey of Hearth and Home, mother and protector. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

Beneath: I call to Brigantia of secrets and mysteries whose voice awakens the land. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

Above: I call to Bridget the creator who sings out with the stars of the universe. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

West 2: I call to Saint Bridget, Generous Lady of the Healing, She who is known as a Patron saint of Ireland and whose flame burns once more at Kildare. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

South 2: I call to Bridey of the Forge, Lady of Fire, She who will forge our souls to Her purpose if we let Her. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

East 2: I call to Bridget, Lady of Poetry, She who inspires artist, poet and storyteller, She who brings Awen. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

North 2: I call to Brigantia of Justice, She who was known to the Lands of Northern England and Southern Scotland as tribal deity of the Brigantes tribe. Lady, we thank you for your presence in our lives.

All: Lady we thank you.

Guide: Let the circle holding our purpose and focus together be opened.

(circle is opened)

Guide: Once more we thank the Spirits of this Place for holding us for our rites.

Let us end as we began with peace.

North: May there be peace in the North

East: May there be peace in the East

South: May there be peace in the South

West: May there be peace in the West

All: May there be peace throughout the world.

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Deepening devotions

Today (Thursday 30 July) is the day before a full moon and as is my custom I have set out my offerings to Brigantia for this moon.  I am blessed in that my daughter has taken an interest in joining me for these devotions and the ones I do for Maponos in particular and this evening as I finished off some washing up she began to get things ready for us.

Since I began flame tending earlier this year my lunar rites for Brigantia have also developed. In addition to lighting three tea lights and offering a bowl of oatmeal and a bowl of warmed honeyed milk I now include a small bowl of water which I dedicate to Brigantia and use during flame tending to anoint myself with.  I’ve also started to put slips of paper with names of those I know that are in need of healing into a small bronze cauldron I have and requesting healing for them both as part of my flame tending devotions and now part of my lunar devotions as well.

I light the tea lights and my daughter and I offer our praises to Brigantia together.  We make the offerings together and then I sing while my daughter dances round me.  I am enjoying the increased depth of connection I feel with these devotions.

Tomorrow evening (Friday 31st) I will make my devotions to my lady Epona Rigantona. These devotions have also changed slightly since I began flame tending as I felt strongly that in addition to the flame tending I needed to do more for Epona.  I began knitting some roses dedicated to Her.  Some have been kept here on the shire I have for Her while others have been sent out to individuals I felt should get one.  Now when I light my single candle for Epona at the full moon I place a beautiful stone carved with a Pictish style horse in front of it with the wooden quaich I had made for libations sat with an offering in it behind the candle and arrange the roses I have kept for Her around them all.  I now have an additional prayer I use with my prayer beads during these devotions which I usually do alone.

I have recently made contact with others who are devoted to Epona and I hope that my communications with them will inspire me further.  Already I feel I have been led to them.

On Saturday 1st August and the day after the full moon I will make my usual offerings to the one I know as Cailleach.  These alone out of the devotions I do have not really changed.  Perhaps they will at another time but for now I don’t feel I need to do more than I currently do for Her the main aspect of which is a libation offered in a particular goblet.

All the food and drink offerings I make are left out overnight and ritually poured out into the back garden the next morning.

On Sunday 2nd August I will be making my usual weekly devotions to Maponos.  This is another area of devotion that my daughter usually joins me in.  For Maponos we prepare a special oil burner, adding drops of one of three oils I brought for this purpose alone. Again for this one I sing and my daughter dances.  I also have a prayer we have begun saying together which includes praying for healing for those names in His sister Brigantia’s cauldron. (Their relationship is more my UPG than anything bu some tales do have Angus Og and Brighid as siblings so I don’t think it’s an unreasonable link).

This weekend I am also aware that many will be celebrating Lughnasadh.  Of all the festivals this is the one I feel least connected to and as it happens I will be unable to join with others to celebrate this time.  I think this year that instead I will be thinking of all those celebrating but for myself focusing more on my devotions to those deities I have been gradually developing deeper connections with.

Hail the Gods!

(and by using that wording I mean to give honour to deities of any and all gender types)

Devotion takes many forms

A little over two years ago my wonderful Neil made me my first outdoor altar.  While I did use it sometimes it didn’t change much for most of that time.  Following on from my several days of devotional activities at the beginning of May I’ve been moved to develop the altar further.  Doing this in itself has been devotional and I intend to use the altar a lot more now as my practices continue to deepen and develop.

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Close up of top of altar
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Altar and its surroundings

An unanticipated cycle of devotion

I wrote a bit not so long ago about my devotions.  Today I’ve realised I have a cycle of devotional and religious practice that I didn’t plan but has just fallen into place.

The flame keeping I am now doing with Clann Bhride means I am now spending a period of time devoted to Brigantia every 20 days but the cill tends as a group on the fire festivals so I began flame tending at sunset on 30th May.  After 24 hours which included a fair amount of contemplation as well as other more mundane and devotional activities I completed that shift at sunset on May 1st.  This evening, May 2nd, I have lit three tea lights and made my lunar cycle devotional offerings to Brigantia.  Tomorrow I will be joining Tuatha de Bridget for the Beltane Ritual during the afternoon and in the evening I will light a candle and make my lunar devotions to Epona Rigantona. As it’s a Sunday I will also be making my weekly devotions to Maponos.

The full moon is at 03.42 GMT 4th May so at some stage on Monday 4th Neil and I will be doing the Druid Network international full moon peace intention ritual.  And that evening I will be making my lunar cycle devotions to the one I know as Cailleach.

My usual flame keeping shift happens to fall on Tuesday 5th May so I will be finishing this cycle of devotional and religious activity as I began it with a flame tending shift.

So in the space of a few days I will be engaging in devotions with all the deities I have developed relationships with as well as engaging in a Beltane ritual and a peace intention ritual.

This is an unusually intense period of devotions for me and it will be interesting to see what else comes of all this activity.