Honouring my ancestors

At Samhain I did something new in my private rituals. I made a pot of tea and poured a cup for my ancestors. It felt right at the time. I’ve been thinking about this on and off since then and had decided to do this more often. I’ve been planning to get some loose leaf tea and make a pot of tea to share with the ancestors but today I felt strongly that I needed to make a beginning even though I do not yet have any loose leaf tea.

So I boiled the kettle (with fresh water), warmed the pot, popped in a tea bag and brewed a pot of tea. I have a small and rather beautiful bone china cup and saucer that I used at Samhain for the ancestor’s tea and I used the same cup today. I know that most of my recent ancestors liked a cup of tea and while preparing the tea I thought about them and talked to them.

I left the cup of tea on the shelf by photos of my more recent ancestors until cold with a biscuit and a few grapes. It felt like the right thing to do. It felt good doing this and drinking tea from the pot, sharing tea with them as I would with other freinds and family.

I intend to repeat this ritual sharing of a cup of tea regularly, probably every full moon and hopefully with some good quality loose leaf tea in the future too.

Of names and naming

Recently in a couple of the forums I am a member of the subject of god names has been raised. The discussions have got me thinking about the way we choose names for ourselves and others.

The name my parents chose for me is Pauline and one of the reasons they chose that name was after my maternal grandmother – apparently I looked like her at birth. For those not in the know Pauline is the feminine form of Paul and means small. While I’m not exactly tall, I’m not exactly small either – I’m short for my weight in fact 🙂

In a meditation a few years ago I gained the name Potia which I use in Pagan circles for a number of reasons. Recently I have found out it means Powerful Lady or Mistress. I don’t think I would have chosen to use that name as widely as I have if I had known sooner what it means but it’s part of me now. I find myself wondering if I live up to it in any way or even if I want to live up to it. In one sense I am my own mistress but I also choose to do what I can to serve my community. I have more power in my life choices than many of my female ancestors would have had and yet my life is still restricted. Many of those restrictions are ones I have chosen freely though and wouldn’t change such as those that come with being a parent.

And that leads me to another of my names and the one I like best – mummy. This one is one I share with many other women and is a much more descriptive name which leads me back to the discussions I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Names in our ancient past were not picked out of a hat but were descriptive in some way of the individual. Gods names were, and still are, descriptive of the being in some way and this is something many forget – including me sometimes. I seek to deepen my relationships with my gods, I seek to learn more of them and sometimes I forget that the names we know them by will tell me much about them. More than my names will tell anyone of me.

Beltane Blessings

Over the last week I have been watching the hawthorns, looking for the first blossoms. I spotted the first ones a little earlier in the week but now there are more beginning to come out. Yesterday evening the sky cleared as dusk fell and I felt that the dance of the seasons had changed it’s rhythm once more. It was time for me to bid the Cailleach a peaceful summer’s rest and to greet the strengthening lord of the summer, Belenos.

So out I went into the garden late last night and offered my libations to the gods of my tribe, to the changing seasons and to my descendants both tangible and intangible. The links of this season to fertility and growth are well known but the results of fertility in our species are our descendants. At Samahin we honour our ancestors and our past, to me Beltane is becoming the time to honour our descendants and to consider the future.

I am blessed with two lovely children, a son and a daughter. My son is growing tall and strong and showing signs of becoming a caring and loving young man with a keen mind. I am very proud of him. My little daughter in this last week has taken a leap in her language skills and each day now brings new words. She is a little sweetheart and it’s not just me that says so. The word for this morning from my little sweetheart is “go”…

May this time of change bring you blessings of warmth, joy, family and friends.

Call of the Cailleach

Last week I worked on an article for the Cailleach that I’d promised to do.

I ended up with two versions, one for hopeful publication and one with much more personal information in it that will form the basis of a talk I will be doing at the Pagan Federation Scotland conference on Sat 25th April.

I felt urged to do this last week and I didn’t know why but I completed drafts on Friday.

This morning I heard that the grandmother of a friend died on Sunday. My thoughts are with him and his family in their time of loss.

I find myself wondering at the timing. It is often around death and grief that experiences of the Cailleach can be the most profound as I know from my own expereinces.

I felt moved to sing a gaelic chant that I sang for my grandfather when he died. The words mean “Seek the heavenly light”.

May the souls of the departed rest in peace.

Stand up for Autism – World Autism Awareness Day

Today has been designated World Autism Awareness Day by the UN. From an email I received from the National Autism Society about this:

“Stand up for Autism is the theme chosen for World Autism Awareness Day in the UK for this year. The theme is intended to unite people in their support of the cause and their pledge to make a stand.”

A few months ago a member of my family was diagnosed with Autism. It wasn’t a total surprise but it still came as a bit of a shock to hear the words. The advice I have received from the National Autism Society has been very helpful. I’ve also received some wonderful support from other family members and freinds and I am deeply grateful for that support.

People are learning more about Autistic Spectrum Disorders but more still needs to be done to raise awareness and get people the long term support they need.

Please help to raise awareness today if not any other day.

Gods

In various places and on various mailing lists and forums the question “what are the gods?” is raised. In some ways I find it easier to say what I think they are not than what I think they are.

I do not believe in an all powerful, all knowing deity. I believe in the existence of many beings referred to as gods. In other words I am a polytheist.

I do not believe in a perfect god. I believe that the gods are more knowledgeable than I am, more tuned in with natural energies and more powerful but not perfect in any way.

I do not believe in an always loving and gentle god of any kind. In my experience the gods are subject to moods similar to human ones, they have their own moral structures and these may not be similar to our human ones. If they feel that treating you harshly will teach you a lesson about something then I think they may well do that and you may not know it’s a lesson until sometime later.

I do not believe the gods stick to one appearance. Why should they when we don’t? I believe that appearance for the gods is a matter of choice. If they ever had a body like our human ones they don’t any more so why be tied down to one set of features.? They may have favourite features but that doesn’t mean they will always appear looking that way.

Currently I believe the gods have evolved into beings of energy that no longer need a physical form. I’m not at all sure what they may have evolved from or even if they have all evolved from the same root.

In short I believe the gods are complex, evolved beings that choose to share something of themselves with us for their own reasons and those reasons can vary from god to god.

So what is a Brythonic polytheist?

This is my take on what a brythonic polytheist is and others may well disagree.

First a polytheist is someone who believes in the existence of many gods. In my experience they usually follow a small number of these gods and will acknowledge the existence of many others.

Brythonic – the free dictionary gives a definition of brythonic as an adjective of “Of or relating to the Brythons or their language or culture.” and as a noun of “the S group of Celtic languages, consisting of Welsh, Cornish, and Breton “. I think most dictionaries would give similar definitions.

It is the former defintion which applies the most to my interpretation of what a brythonic polytheist is. Historically the Brythons were the peoples that inhabited the mainland of Britian before the Romans came. It is known that the majority of these peoples spoke a range of p-celtic languages. The modern descendants of these languages are Welsh, Cornish and Breton. According to linguists Pictish is generally agreed to have been a p-celtic language.

Using the defintions of brythonic and polytheist given above I would currently describe a brythonic polytheist to be one who believes in the the gods of the peoples living in mainland Britian before the Romans invaded. In my case I am particularly interested in the gods that may have been known and worshipped in what is now the South West of Scotland.

The tough part of that is finding out about those gods and developing relationships with them!