A bit of this and a bit of that

It’s been a busy month for me with lots of different things going on which means my mind has often been jumping about from one topic to another.  It also means that I’m feeling a bit drained.  Much of these happenings have been good things.

The first two weeks of April are school holidays here so there were visits from school friends to co-ordinate, trips out to arrange and space for relaxing and unwinding to be managed. This year my son also needed to fit in some study time for exams that take place in May.  Juggling the desires of a highly selectively social teen with a bouncy sensory seeking ten year old while remaining sane myself can be challenging and by the end of the school holidays I am very happy to get back into term time routines!

My husband, Neil, is a keen amateur landscape photographer and on Saturday 7 April he was up at Fort William for the launch of an exhibition with the Society of Scottish Landscape Photographers which including one of his images. I wasn’t able to go with him and I still haven’t seen the exhibition but it’s moving to an exhibition space in Leith, Edinburgh on Saturday 5 May so I’ll get to see it when it’s there.  If you’ve not yet seen Neil’s photos please do take a look at his site Awen Photos, you can also find him on Facebook. Needless to say I am rather proud of his photographic skills!

Saturday 14 May saw Neil and I at the Druid Network AGM at the Bilberry Hill Centre near Birmingham. It’s a location that the Druid Network have used for several years and we are all rather fond of it.  The Druid Network (TDN) AGM has a formal side to it but it is also a time of community connection, discussion, shared food and fun.  It is a full day event and many of us stay overnight before dispersing across the UK the following day.  Last year I stepped into a new role at the AGM, that of minute taker.  I found that having a task to do helped me manage my social anxiety and this year I continued in that role.  I’m not a fan of taking minutes for meetings usually but when both I and the group can benefit I am much more keen. Thanks to years of University committee experience it’s not a role I find difficult and TDN AGMs are more fun to minute than anything I have done in the past.

Just last week I had another AGM to attend.  This one was for the RDA Glasgow Group and I was anticipating a much more boring and formal meeting. I was pleasantly surprised.  It was anything but boring!  This AGM took place on Wednesday 25 April in the evening in the RDA Glasgow Group conference room. The discussions that followed the formal reports were lively and I found the whole meeting much more interesting than I had anticipated.  I was very tired afterwards though as there was a lot to concentrate on.

I’m becoming more involved with the RDA.  While I was recovering from my unscheduled dismount and not fit enough to help out in classes I helped out in the office instead and took on the RDA Glasgow Newsletter preparation.  I will be doing the next issue too although I’m not sure what’s happening after that as yet.  I’ve also been doing a bit of work on updates for the RDA Glasgow website (feedback always welcome by the way).  I’m now building up my fitness for helping in classes again and it’s great to be back doing that but I still plan to help out in other areas.

Which reminds me, today being the last day of April is also the last day of Autism Awareness month for several countries. World Autism Awareness Day is 2 April each year.  Some areas of the world use the whole of April as Autism Awareness month.  In the UK the National Autistic Society held a week long focus of events from 26 March  – 2 April.  Anyway, RDA National has been working on a new addition to its online learning courses aimed primarily at RDA volunteers and staff.  This one is on Autism Awareness and it’s going to be officially launched very soon.  I took part in the testing of the course and I am delighted to say that in my opinion they have done a really good job on this course with a good balance of information and practical suggestions.

These are a few of the highlights from my busy month.  I’ve also been continuing in my book writing efforts and trying not to let self doubt stop me.  I’ve been healing from my own injury and continuing to coordinate requests to the Pagan Healing Circle. And, as always, I’ve been continuing to devote time to my family and my devotional practices.

 

 

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Snow, Icy and Anxiety

This week we have had quite a bit of snow.  As usual the snow gets compressed by the passage of people on pavements and cars on the roads and surfaces become icy.  Snow looks lovely but I don’t really like it.  I know it can be fun to play in the snow especially if you are wrapped up nice and warm, my daughter adores it. I don’t and I think it’s probably because with snow there is more ice and I hate icy conditions.

This week the weather has disrupted normal routines.  Tuesday was the worst day with local road, even the main ones, becoming gridlocked.  My kids both get school transport provided, every day for my son and at the moment two days a week for my daughter. My son’s transport was about 40 minutes later than usual which isn’t bad compared to some problems that day.  My daughter’s transport didn’t show at all because they got stuck somewhere. Eventually we took her to school ourselves much later in the morning, my husband doing the driving, and by that time traffic was flowing reasonably well.  We picked her up from school that afternoon slightly early again with my husband driving.  If he hadn’t been home doing work on our bathroom we wouldn’t have gone anywhere because I feel far to nervous about driving in that level of snow and ice.

Wednesday main roads were much better but the street outside our home is not a main road and it was still covered in compressed snow and ice.  My son’s transport was still late but not as bad as the day before.  My husband drove my daughter and I to her school and I walked her into her entry point while my husband stayed with the car.  By the afternoon things were looking a bit better.  There had been a touch of a thaw and some grit had been spread on our street now but pavements were still icy.

That evening the forecast was bad, particularly for areas further south and east than us with further snow and wind forecast during the night.  And it would be a little below freezing during the night too so more ice!  I cancelled plans I had made before all this snow to go out and meet a friend the following morning. I was too nervous about what the weather would bring.  Our area didn’t get more snow overnight.  Local roads first thing this morning were icy in places but not too bad.  School transport turned up on time for both kids.  I’m beginning to feel better but still anxious.

When my son was only a few months old I fell on an icy street on the way to work.  The fall didn’t seem that bad at the time but I wrenched my back.  I had six months of back pain after that fall and walking to work became too painful for that period of time.  Eventually I had some treatment from an osteopath and that helped the injured area to finally heal.

Not long after I had finally passed a driving test I bumped into the back of another car because I couldn’t stop my car due to ice on the road.  I was going very slowly but that feeling of being completely unable to stop what I could see was going to happen stayed with me.  No one was hurt at all, both cars got bit scratched but nothing worse than that. But it scared me.  I have remained nervous of icy roads.  I can manage it it’s only icy patches but the last few days our street has been much worse than icy in patches.

My anxiety in this weather is founded on very real fears but I still feel I should be able to manage better.  I recognise those feelings of inadequacy are also part of the anxiety but…

 

And I turn to thoughts of my ancestors through the ages. The cold weather, the arrival of  snow, the fear of icy footing.  Many, if not all, would have felt these things. Injuries are more common in icy conditions, healing from anything takes longer. Outdoor tasks are harder and take longer. Water can freeze over and before the mains water supplies we often take for granted frozen water supplies could be a big problem. And keeping warm also became much, much harder.  I believe fear and anxiety during winter conditions would have been common to my ancestors.  I am not alone.

Reflections on 2017

A new friend on Facebook recently asked what people were proud about from the past year and that got me thinking about the past year a bit more resulting in this post.

The first half of 2017 was quiet on this blog because I had signed up for a an online course in counselling skills.  I completed and passed that course and at the time I investigated the possibility of gaining further qualifications in counselling skills.  After much thought and investigation into options and costs I decided it is not the right time for me to commit to trying to gain further qualifications. I am however prud of having completed the course successfully and gaining new knowledge and confidence.

In the last year my devotional practices have continued to develop and deepen.  I’m now beginning to settle into a devotional practice where I am spending some time in prayer and contemplation on six days of the week.  In the last year as well as relaxing into my relationship with Loki I’ve also started developing a devotional relationship with Gofannon.  It’s almost two years since Loki started making his presence felt in my life so both of these deities are still relatively new to me. I also continue to be a flame tender with Clann Bhride, a practice I began on Imbolc 2015.

I’ve now been involved in volunteering with the Riding for the Disabled Glasgow group for just over a year. I’ve learnt so much since I started there and I’m still learning more including finally having riding lessons myself.  I’ve wanted to learn how to ride horses for as log as I can remember and this year I have been able to begin that journey and it’s just wonderful!  I literally cried tears of joy after my first couple of lessons, that’s how much it means to me.

This time last year I had completed counselling sessions to help me with managing my social anxiety and had also just come off medication for anxiety and depression.  I have remained off medication this year and have not had a relapse.  I still get the occasional anxiety attack with social situations and have had a couple of more severe panic attacks too this year but I am still improving.  I have managed social situations this year that I could not have done last year.  I am proud of my progress.

My daughter had been attending dance lessons with Indepen-dance for a full year now.  She’s absolutely loved these lessons so I know this will be continuing for the coming year.  My daughter has also joined her school choir this year and has experienced her first performance with the choir outside the school as part of a carol service.  She also had a solo to sing during that carol service.  I am extremely proud of how well she did, not only with her singing but also with her behaviour during the service.  Sitting quiet and still is not an easy thing for my sensory seeking, bouncy Aspigirl. So proud of my girl!

This year my son completed his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. To complete this award he had to do some voluntary work, develop a new skill, do some physical activity and complete an overnight camping expedition with the group from his school taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award activities.  His physical activity was hillwalking, his new skill was pyrography and the voluntary work was organised by the school and took place at an allotment.  I am incredibly proud of his achievement!

Last year (2016) I went through the assessment process for adult autism diagnosis.  I didn’t meet diagnostic criteria.  Perhaps part of the reason for this was that at the time I went through the process I was also suffering badly from stress and anxiety.  Needless to say I didn’t agree with their conclusions at the time and I still don’t agree.  It’s still something that irritates.  I have been peer recognised as autistic by a number of autistic adults as well as by my wonderful kids and that recognition means a great deal to me.  I am immensely proud of being neurodivergent and probably autistic. I still hesitate over calling myself autistic because I didn’t meet the diagnostic criteria during my assessment.  I know many within the autistic community are perfectly fine with self diagnosis and if I had never attended and failed the assessment I’d be happy with self diagnosis too. Failing the assessment makes me doubt myself and means I often don’t feel comfortable in saying I’m autistic without adding the story of not meeting diagnostic criteria.  Anyway, this year I have becoming more aware and more confident of myself as neurodivergent. If you are unfamiliar with neurodiversity as a concept here’s a good staring piece on the neurodiversity paradigm

My other area of achievement this year is still very much a work in progress.  I have begun writing a book about being a polytheist.  It will have a great deal in it about my own practices.  My tentative working title at the moment is “Life as a British Polytheist”.

To all my readers on this last day of 2017 I hope you take pride in your achievements whatever they may be and I wish you a very happy 2018!

 

 

A Prayer for LBGT Pride

My sacred Ladies, I come before you,
A woman grown in a lesbian home
And I pray for the well-being of women loving women.

My sacred Lords, I come before you
As you embrace and love across cultures
And I pray for the well-being of men loving men.

My sacred Loves, I come before you,
Child of a bisexual parent,
Parent of a bisexual child,
And I pray for the well-being of those loving more than a single gender.

Single gendered, I come before Sacred Ones of all genders and of none,
And I pray for the well-being of those who cross boundaries, who re-define what we are as human beings.

I come before all beings here.
I can not know your journeys,
I can not know your fears,
I can not know your pain,
I can not know your joys,
I am not as you.
But I stand beside you in love and respect,
I stand beside you in Pride!

rainbow rose

 

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)

My truth isn’t yours

As a self named Hearth Druid I write about what is close to my heart.  Sometimes that’s a long thought out sharing of part of my spiritual life, sometimes I blurt.  This post is a blurt.

My truth isn’t yours, your truth can never be mine but we can talk about our truths, share them and hope that in sharing something of what we share will help someone else.  Those who know me will be aware I have been having a lot of problems with stress and anxiety over the last few months.  I’m doing much better with that at the moment but I have a secret and I don’t want to hold it in, I want to blurt it out.  I know some won’t believe it but others will.  The more logical part of me will say it doesn’t matter what you believe, the more emotional part of me wants to be listened to and accepted for what I believe I may be.

Enough of the mystery already.  So here goes. I think I am on the autistic spectrum.  This isn’t a sudden thing, it’s been something I’ve been wondering about for a while and the more I have watched my daughter (identified as Aspergers) develop the more I recognise myself in her. I didn’t have this type of recognition with my son (also identified as autistic).  Both my kids are bright, both are on what is described as the high functioning end of autism. Now I am in the process of looking at my own past through different eyes and so much is making better sense now.  I am now on a waiting list for an adult autism assessment.  In the meantime I have spoken to a small number of women also identified late in life as autistic and they have all been very helpful to me. One has known me for several years, one for a couple of years and one is a new developing friendship.  All of them have recognised within me what I have come to see for myself and the affirmation that has given me is wonderful.

I’ve also been able to talk to my beloved partner about this openly and frankly.  I first mentioned the idea of me possibly being on the spectrum to him a couple of years ago and at that stage he’d not long moved in with us and he didn’t think it was likely then.  Now, after living with us for a couple of years and seeing us all in varying moods and situations when I mentioned it to him again a couple of months ago he said he thought it was likely.

Some people will say that everyone has a few autistic traits and that is true but it’s not individual traits that give an identification of autism it’s a pattern of traits.  That pattern can be obvious or subtle but it’s a pattern that means the individual has long term, ongoing challenges with social communication and almost always some more extreme sensory issues.  The pattern has to fulfill certain diagnostic criteria for a formal diagnosis.  I believe my pattern does that but my journey of identification is still ongoing.

Why am I sharing this? Why blurt it out? Because at some level I feel the need to do this.  I don’t want to hide my thoughts and feelings about this in a closet.  I want to be out there, misunderstood maybe but living my truth openly and with pride. I’m not good at keeping things that are so important to me secret, I want to talk about them, write about them, share them. It’s part of who I am and I’ve always done it.  I’ve always shared things with complete strangers that others give me funny looks about but that’s me.  That’s my truth and I feel better for blurting it out.  And blurting it out again, and again and again.

Oh and swaying and rocking are soothing to me so don’t be surprised if you see me doing it more often.  And I’m a tactile person with a need for deep pressure contact – that means I love hugs.  I try to be aware that others don’t like them for varying reasons though.

Perennial Druidry: Waves through Grasses Moon

As readers will know this year I decided to start working with the Perennial Druid course materials hosted on the Druid Network website. Unit Seven in the Perennial Druidry course is called Field Poppy Moon by Bobcat.  Poppies though are not very evident in this area at all so this name does not seem to fit here.  What is most noticeable to me is the grasses. In our local park many of the grasses are now almost as tall as me, some taller, with spots of delicate white and yellow wildflowers and the darker greens and purples of tall, vibrant thistles.  As the breeze blows the grasses gently wave, the sounds and sights remind me of the sea.  To me therefore this is Waves through Grasses Moon.
I have found that this moon I have had little time to devote to the course.  Partly that’s due to the demands of home and family and partly other reading leading to inspiration for new prayers for both Brigantia and Maponus.
This unit talks about midsummer as a festival time and a season of waning summer.  I don’t do anything separate to the summer solstice in terms of ritual for midsummer although I do note its passing and I don’t really feel the pause that Bobcat talks about, my perception of this time of year is different.  This moon started on 27 June and ended on 26 July so I’m a touch late writing up my reflections but that’s life.  For me this period is a very busy one.  Here in Glasgow the children break up for summer around midsummer so this moon marked the first weeks of the summer holidays.  For me juggling part time work with family time, organising cover for when I’m at work, getting school uniforms ready for the next school year and looking after two children with different needs is both hectic and often tiring.  Luckily I do have great family support but it’s still tough.  My energies have often been drained with day to day life this moon with little left over.
As I have been going about though, my eyes have been drawn often to long wild grasses along road verges, in our local park and in fields left fallow.  I’ve also been enchanted by dancing damselflies and summer birds like swifts sweeping over the grasses. I have had moments of wonderful inspiration leading to new prayers.  I’ve been able to take moments where I could pause and connect with the life in our local park and in my garden.  My garden in particular has taken on a deeper role as a place of grounding and re-energising for me. A few minutes wandering around doing a spot of weeding or dead-heading roses of an evening has taken on an increasing importance at this busy time.  These things link into the themes of this unit of energy, life, stillness and strength in the course.
Yesterday I honoured my ancestors as is my practice at the dark moon.  Today I prepare to move forward into the next moon.