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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Eponalia dreaming

 

I have had a wonderful Eponalia. I’d been nudged to set up a Facebook event for Eponalia to encourage others to join in the celebrations and share what they did.  When I first looked at posts yesterday I was having my breakfast and it was a beautiful experience to read what others far from me had been doing to honour Epona.  There were photos of horse companions being given extra treats and words that had been said while giving offerings shared. Looking at these things helped me focus my day more strongly on Epona right from the start.

As the day went on I enjoyed reading and sharing further posts when I checked Facebook and some of these gave me food for thoughts through the day as I did other things.

I sang (with croaky cold filled voice) and prayed during the afternoon. In the evening I made my offering of Berry Christmas wine from the Cairn o Mhor winery and lit a scented beeswax candle that was an Eponalia gift from my partner with him standing with me.

I made a last post on the Facebook event page before going to bed thanking others for sharing what they had that day.  It was such a privilege being able to share the day with others far and wide. I’m still glowing inside from it all.

And then there were the dreams…

For the first time in my memory last night I dreamt of horses and as yesterday was Eponalia I am a bit bemused by what little I can remember. I’ve been musing on what I dreamt on and off during the day.

During the first snippet I was looking after a rather unusual horse with a fluffy pale blue mane and tail and a woolly looking white or cream coat. It looked a bit like long sheep or angora goat wool. For some reason this horse had come sort of dark blue saddle on it but I wasn’t to ride it. I was looking after it for someone else but for some unknown reason I ended up in a car with the horse at my side and my parents driving. When we stopped the person I was looking after the horse for told me off for leaving, all I was supposed to do was watch the horse for her not go off.

In the second snippet I was in a cart driven by someone else. There were two horses pulling the cart, one chestnut and one a darker brown. The driver was going to fast and I asked him to slow down, I told him we couldn’t go that way as it was dangerous but he didn’t listen. We ended up with the cart almost going into the river and the horses had fallen in and gone under. I was scared they were dead but the heads rose up from the deep like the Kelpie sculptures rising up from the water first one and the other visible beneath the water swelling above his head. I remember being incredibly relived the horses hadn’t drowned and then I woke.

I’ve posted in a couple of groups on Facebook seeking opinions on these dreams. Opinions here would also be welcome and if nothing else posting about this here will record this for me.

I still can’t quite get my head around the idea of a woolly coated horse with fluffy pale blue mane and tail!

Honouring Epona Ritual

Last month I wrote about plans I had to host a ritual Honouring Epona on Saturday 3rd October in Glasgow. I had made a Facebook event for this and circulated it in a number of Facebook groups. I was also moved to try emailing Galina Krasskova about my plans and she was kind enough to add a post on her own blog Gangleri’s Grove about this. Somewhere Sable Aradia also saw this and she added it to her blog Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch. I received a number of requests from people in various parts of the world interested in a copy of the words I had developed for this rite and hopefully all of them received emails from me.

I feel deeply privileged to have begun something that so many others in so many places have been interested in.

Here in Glasgow seven of us gathered at a venue called The Old Barn at four in the afternoon. The Old Barn is just next to riding stables so it seemed like the perfect venue for a rite for Epona. Indeed during the rite we heard the voices of the horses in nearby fields as well as bird song and at moments that fit beautifully with what we were doing. To me it felt as if the horses and birds were joining us to honour Epona.

One of those gathered had travelled from Preston to join us, another had become lost in the park next to the venue trying to get to us but reached us in the end around 4.30 pm full of apologies for being delayed. It wasn’t a problem, we knew he was on the way and we had plenty of time so waited for him to arrive before we began the rite.  Each of us had journeys of some kind to be where we were.

As is my habit I had a script prepared for the rite. It was slightly tweaked from the version I had sent out to those who had asked for a copy. However, as is also something of a habit for me, once we began I put the script down and spoke from my heart and my memory as the guide for this rite.

The rite was begun and completed with the sound of a Bullroarer. This is an ancient instrument that has been found in many areas across the world with a very distinctive and evocative sound. This was the first time we had used this in a more public ritual although my fiance (whose bullroarer we used) has used it privately a couple of times. Following that libations of spring water from the Campsie Fells were poured out for the spirits of the place we were in. I’ve been to the site before and had communed with the spirits then and been given the strong impression that they liked water which is why I had chosen local spring water for their libations. The area we used was a roughly square grassed area at the back of the Old Barn. I was moved to pour some of the water at each corner and the last bit into the fire pit that sits in the centre of the area.

A libation was also offered to Epona as part of the rite and initially I had thought I would use spring water for that too but a couple of days before I had the inspiration to use some of our home made plum wine instead.  This was our first time of making plum wine.  It was begun in September last year using Victoria plums from the tree in our garden and we had not yet bottled any of it.  The libation was made from the first bottle of this golden coloured liqued. After the rite we all had a taste of the wine, not from the portion offered to Epona I hasten to add, and it was rather good.

During the rite a cup of spring water was passed round three times. The first and third times the cup was passed round in silence.  The second time each person had the opportunity to say something while they were holding the cup.

At the end of the rite I asked everyone to connect by touching hands palm to palm with the people closest to the altar I had set up placing a hand on the altar and holding their other hand up palm out to connect with the person next to them.  I had deliberately chosen this form of connection as more regular local seasonal rituals often involve group hugs at the end and I am aware not everyone likes hugging.  Some are uncomfortable holding hands too so I hoped this form of not holding but simply touching palm to palm would be easier for anyone present who might not be comfortable with more intimate physical contact and different enough to help us feel spiritually connected for that moment at least. I think it worked well.

After the rite we moved inside the Old Barn and had tea or coffee with biscuits and homemade gluten free apple flapjacks.

I have pledged to do this again.  I am not certain when but I will do this again.  I always do something at Eponalia on December 18th and maybe this year I will use these words although probably not as a physical group rite as there are so many other things going on at that time of year.

After I returned home I read posts on Facebook and other places from a few others who had used the words with their own rites and at approximately the same time as we had gathered at the Old Barn.

Finally I offer below the wording I prepared for Saturday’s rite to Honour Epona. This was based on a prayer which I have submitted for publication in a book devoted to the Gray Mare. That prayer was in turn was inspired by another prayer published in the Clann Bhride Book of Hours.

If anyone reading this wishes to use or adapt the wording of this rite for their own use in honouring Epona please do.


Ritual in honour of Epona Rigantona

Set up altar area in north west with statue of Epona, quaich, chalice and roses. Possibly include candle and incense. Gather people into a horseshoe shape with altar area in gap. Invite others attending to add anything they have brought to the altar area.

Guide:

Today we gather to honour Epona, by some also known as Rigantona or Rhiannon and simply as the Grey Mare. For those who are unfamiliar with Epona her name means Divine Mare. Rhiannon means Great Queen and Rigantona is simply the earlier Brythonic version of this. She is known from inscriptions and statuary from Roman times mainly found across what was once Gaul but She was also venerated in other places including at the Antonine Wall in Scotland as evidenced by a altar found at Auchendavy and on display at the Hunterian museum dedicated to a number of beings including Epona.

Epona has very strong links to horses and ponies, those who work with them and stables. The imagery on statues of Her that have been found also link Her to fertility, sovereignty and the passage from this life to the next. Some inscriptions refer to Her as Epona Regina (Queen Epona).

To me She is a guide for all types of journeys from physical ones to emotional and spiritual ones. The Mabinogion stories include a character named as Rhiannon who has links to the Otherworld and has singing birds that can put people to sleep. It is possible these tales carry fragments of lore connected to Epona.

There is some evidence for an Eponalia festival on 18 December in Epona’s honour and I usually try and do something personal at that time at least. This is different though, this is something I felt I needed to do. Maybe it will start something larger, maybe it won’t but today we honour Epona.

Using a bull roarer we will now focus on attracting the attention of the local spirits and begin this rite.

Libation offered to spirits of place following previous personal consultation with them after bullroarer sounds.

Guide:

Together let us call to Epona and invite Her presence among us.

All:

Hail Epona Rigantona!  Rigantona Epona Hail!

Guide: Epona of Horses,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Land,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona of Sovereignty,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of Journeys,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona of Stables,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Otherworld,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona, Great Mother,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Singing Birds,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona Rigantona, friend, guardian, guide and teacher,

All: We praise you!

Guide: May our words of praise ripple out across the Land

Libation is poured out for Epona into the quaich and the cup is passed round for each person to sip from.

Guide: Epona of Horses,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Land,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona of Sovereignty,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of Journeys,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona of Stables,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Otherworld,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona, Great Mother,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Singing Birds,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona Rigantona, friend, guardian, guide and teacher,

All: We honour you!

Guide: May our words resound across the worlds.

At this point as the cup is passed round if you wish to offer anything to Epona or request anything from Her (bearing in mind that if you are asking for a gift you should return something at some stage) this is the time to do so either silently or aloud for all to witness.

Cup is passed round a second time for each person to sip from and speak if they wish to.

Guide: Epona of Horses,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of the Land,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona of Sovereignty

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of Journeys,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona of Stables,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of the Otherworld,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona, Great Mother,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of the Singing Birds,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona Rigantona, friend, guardian, guide and teacher,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Cup is passed round a third and final time in silence.

All: Hail  Epona Rigantona!  Rigantona Epona Hail!

Guide: Before we part can we take a moment to connect with each other? Please lift your hands and join palm to palm with the person next to you, not holding, just lightly touching and can the people next to the altar place their other hands on the edge of the altar.

Epona we thank you for your presence here today and bid you farewell for now knowing that should we seek, we can find you again.

We thank the spirits of this place for hosting us this day and bid them farewell as soon we shall depart.

Drop hands. Bullroarer sounds to close the ceremony.

Guide: This rite is now complete, I’d like to thank each and everyone of you for joining me here today to Honour Epona.

Food and tea/coffee to be shared.

Honouring Epona

Most who know me will also know that Epona Rigantona is dear to me.  She is the quiet voice that whispers to my mind and heart, gently offering guidance.  She is strength I can lean on, a fierce guardian standing over me when I fall. She is wisdom and humour, a voice in the breeze, a presence in the stillness.

And She has been whispering to me.

As a result I am hosting a ritual in honour of Epona Rigantona on Saturday 3rd October in Glasgow.  I’ve advertised this pretty widely as a Facebook event and in a couple of other places.

I’ve also said that I know there are those that honour Epona that will not possible be able to make this rite face to face.  To those I make this offer, contact me and I will happily share the rite I have developed so that you can either join with me spiritually or adapt it for your own use in their own time.

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.