Winter approaches

Call it what you will Samhain, Halloween or Nos Calan Gaeaf that time has come and here in Glasgow I feel the winter approaching.  There’s still time to jump in piles of leaves if you can find any that haven’t been soaked in rain but the year is shifting.

I like this time of year.  I know for some the increasing dark brings a range of problems and they dread it.  Most of the time I like it.  I don’t like hot days and I struggle in bright sunshine as being in the brightness gradually hurts my eyes and can give me headaches if I’m not careful.  But the dark is gentler for me.  I’m fortunate enough to be able to keep warm and dry, to listen to the wind and rain outside and enjoy it most of the time.

This time of year for me is also about family celebrations so that’s another level of warmth I can bask in. Not just the winter solstice, Yule and New Year activities but birthdays too.  Family birthday celebrations are not usually very big gatherings so I don’t have to brace myself for increasingly large social gatherings.  I’m happy with that.  I’m happy in my understanding of why I struggle with larger social activities.  I’ll happily sit down and have a cuppa with one or two friends in a quiet place though.

For me darkness is comforting.  If it’s clear at night I can see the wonder of the stars, it’s very rare that we are in complete darkness.  And the dark night of the soul or the dark gods and goddesses?  Without darkness how do we appreciate light?  I’m not saying these things are easy but they can be embraced.  And we can learn from the things in the darkness too.

If you struggle with darkness you are not alone.  Neither are you alone if you welcome the dark.

 

 

 

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If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

These are words that first began ringing loudly in my mind a few days ago when Neil and I were travelling to Glen Etive for a day out.  It was the day after a storm and the skies were still grey and heavy with rain when we set out.  The water poured off this hills in streams and waterfalls, rivers were swollen.  As we turned into Glen Etive I felt as if we were travelling in a land surrounded above and below with water. And that’s when these words started to sound in my head.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

And I knew what this was referring to.  I had a decision to make, to try and write a book about devotional practice I experience it or to leave it.

I remember Nimue Brown once writing that she wrote books she wanted to read.

I want to read about someone who juggles devotional life with family life, someone who isn’t very good at hearing messages from deities. I want to read about someone who says something about how long it has taken them to develop a devotional life, how they have tried things and then dropped them, how life has sometimes overwhemed them.  And I want to read about their journey with deities who have traces of ancient worship in the land I live in.

I haven’t come across a book like that yet.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

As our day in Glen Etive progressed we did see the odd patch of blue as the sky lightened.  We heard the bellowing of stags on the mountainside.  As we began the journey back along the Glen we had to stop.  Deer on the road. A small herd, a doe with what must have been this year’s young, a couple of slightly older but still immature stags, a few mature does and him.  He posed beautifully for our admiration.

One doe gently ate pieces of apple from the hand of another woman who like us had stopped.  This small herd were clearly used to people. That was the highlight of the trip for me and still those words echoed in my head.  A decision was made. I will write.

We came home days passed with other things; catching up with chores, spending time with the kids, doing some knitting and still these words come back to me.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

I’m working through things I said I’d do for others.  I’m beginning to plan, to think about what I want to say, how I might say it. I’m intending to start writing my first ever attempt at a book at Samhain.  It may take me a long time.  The first steps of a journey are not when you set out but when you make a decision and pack your things.

I am beginning to answer the questions that keep ringing in my head.

I will write and very soon now.

The Revolutionary Art of Hearth-Keeping

I came across this post by chance or perhaps, more accurately, by divine guidance. I wasn’t looking for it, I wasn’t even following this blog when I stumbled across this post yesterday evening. It resonates on so many levels though especially as I refer to my path as that of a hearth druid.

riverdevora

hearth fire

We are living in terrible times. Every passing day brings more violent racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and classist attacks and incidents at every level of society, from local street violence to “Alt-Right” rallies to State and Federal governmental attempts to (and occasional successes in) passing oppressive legislation to the stripping away of protections for vulnerable communities. The regime we are currently living under is one that attempts to strip us of both individual and group identity, shames us for interdependence, and seeks to destroy our connection to ancestors and descendants, and to the land upon which we live (as complex as these relationships can be). The dominant paradigm is one that endorses survival of the most privileged, at the expense of nondominant communities and vulnerable people. And we are handed the lie that we can rise above the oppression of our people by disavowing ourselves of our cultures, that…

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Away with the Fairies

“Pause”, they said.  “Take time to reflect”.

“Can you hear the call?” Asks a voice.
“Will you answer?” Whispers the wind in the trees.
“Where will it lead you?” Words felt more than heard.
“What gift will be yours? What price?” Voices ripple with the water.

A journey begun with beech and oak to the sound of blackbird song.  A wide and bramble lined path followed through birch woods with silence falling about us.  A muddy branch taken leading onto a darker path, twisting and turning past trees and over shallow streamlets.  A destination found among the hazel trees.

Confirmation sought and a sign received.  Spirits asked and permission given. A bridge crossed.  A gift of acorns fallen in my path.

Climbing down into water rushing past me.  Careful steps taken past the realm of trolls.  A faery realm I entered. A call I heard to drink and I did. I drank of faery waters and ecstasy poured into my soul. Laughter erupted from my voice, flowed like the waters around my feet, pouring into the air, echoing into the land.

No room for pain or sorrow.

Fairy Bridge, 16 Sept 2017
Fairy Bridge, Glen Creran, 16 Sept 2017

Calm returned I left the waters, treading with care among the rocks. I sang my gratitude and climbed up once more.

I sat by the bridge and sang to the land then wandered once more among the hazel trees.

Blessed with a gift of hazel nut I returned.

Muddy path retrod we walked back to grass covered, bramble-lined path among the birch trees. Berries tasted, rich tang of autumn.

Eyes treated to dappled light on mountain side we returned to woods of oak and beech once more.  A journey over.

And half an hour later, pain felt. A price taken but delayed for a time.

Changes to my altar

In the last couple of weeks there have been changes to my altar.

Meet the Smith, for Gofannon.

The Smith
The Smith

Today arrived a wonderful, amazing gift.  A traditionally made Zuni Coyote fetish crafted by Aaron and Thelma Sheche. I am deeply honoured to have been entrusted with this fetish. It’s actually two coyotes carved from the same stone bundles with an arrow head and pieces of turquoise.

Coyotes fetish
Zuni Coyote Fetish

Both the Smith and the Zuni fetish are now on my altar, shown below.

Altar 6 September 2017

Messages from Gods

Like forgotten yet eternal dreams.
Broke in bits before her, the lady lacks her necklace.
Like the sweet-apple reddening high on the branch.
Better far that my body should suffer outrage than my soul.
Oh, each of us discovered life’s burden, and we call that time a fable, remembering ourselves as we would a stranger.

These are words for me from a divination two weeks ago where I basically asked if I was doing ok with my devotions.  The overall interpretation I was given was I’m doing ok but there’s room for improvement.  Isn’t there always?

In April I had a three card tarot reading done for me with the following overall message:

These may seem vague, as Minor Arcana cards, but I love the combination of elements here. It seems to tell of an emotional time, perhaps with ups and downs on several levels, but also with a sense of determination, goals achieved and a clear path opening up through it all. Keep hold of that determination, hun, you’re going the right way and have good friends at your side!

I had another reading in January of this year but that one was face to face and I can’t remember a great deal from it.

I’m also working on improving my own divination skills.  At the moment that involves working with runes and practicing readings mainly on myself.

And then there is what happened to me on Saturday as I sat before my altar praying and listening.  I slipped into a trance and began to journey, something I haven’t done in quite a while.  Loki appeared beside me and we walked and talked in the Otherworld I know.  I’ve been asking, thinking and wondering why Loki is still interested in me, half expecting Him to move on and not return.  One part of my journey and conversation had a very powerful effect on me.

Loki asked me if I wanted Him in my life. At first I sidestepped replying clearly by saying “If you want to be”.  That wasn’t good enough though. He asked me again:

“Do you want me?”

And this time I simply said yes.  His reply was that He would remain with me then.  I asked if it was that simple. “Yes.”  We talked further, other things that I’ll not mention here but that helped clarify aspects of our growing relationship. I also gained insights into aspects of other deity relationships.

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This year I have already asked for reassurance that I’m doing the right things, going in the right direction more times than almost any other year in my life. I’ve been unsure why I feel the presence of certain deities, why still other deities have come into my life.

Each time though I have been given reassurance that I’m doing the right things, going in the right directions.  Most of those reassurances have been open to some aspect of interpretation. This time, with Loki, I’ve had something amazingly direct, amazingly simple.

And that simple question echos on in other voices – Do you want me in your life?

Sometimes devotion is as simple as answering that question.

To be or not to be an author…

I am already an author here on this blog, I’ve also written articles that have been published in the Pagan Dawn magazine in the past.  I am currently musing on the idea of writing a book.  I had tentative ideas of writing a book once before on urban druidry.  That never came to pass and others have written books on forms of urban paganism since that time.  If I go forward this time though it would be something on being a (mostly) Brythonic polytheist.  Brython have plans to write and produce a primer that would cover various aspects of Brythonic polytheism.  I don’t want to write something like that though and frankly I don’t think my scholarship is up to that type of book although I’d probably make a good draft reader for the project if they get that far.  If I do write something, and I’m really not sure if I will, it is likely to be more personal and experiential.

I’ve been on my path as a pagan for a little over twenty years now.  I started learning about druidry with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids  (OBOD) in March 1998. I have grown and developed in that time as you would expect and so has my path.  In the last decade I have developed much more of a Brythonic polytheist practice.  In that time I’ve gone through a number of personal changes as well that have affected all aspects of my life.

We are at a time when books about various polytheist paths are gradually increasing.  Is it time for one on what it is to walk a mostly Brythonic polytheist path?

But why would I write this? For the gods or for my own sense of ego? Probably a bit of both but is the balance right?  Would I do this more for the gods and to give others signposts for their journeys?

And would it be something others would want to read?

I think I could do this but should I?  And if I did would it even get published, be read by others, be enjoyed?

More questions than answers.  I’d welcome thoughts from readers of this blog about this.