Journeying to the Goddess

Invokation To The Crone At Samhain

No; not in the least as I found out last night…She doesn’t sugar-coat anything and is brutally honest, but I’ll get to that.  So, were to begin?  Well, I guess let’s start out with yesterday, shall we?  All day I had been feeling very much out of sorts – irritable, agitated, scatterbrained and anxious.  This actually really surprised me because I’d been rolling along all happy and feeling full of inspiration, riding the out the Imbolc high.  Yesterday started out weird, very much feeling Odin’s persistent tap on the shoulder just to let me know that he’s still here (yes, thanks for reminding me – as if I didn’t know that!)  Anywho, Odin seems to be making more and more frequent appearances as of late; showing up in a lot of books, articles and blogs I read, meeting people who have a strong connection with him and reading and listening…

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Brighid Is In the Details – Part 2

"Spirit of the Woods" by ~ArwensGrace

“Spirit of the Woods” by ~ArwensGrace

“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need.” ~ Jerry Gillies

This year started out as most of you know with a big move from New York to Georgia.  We were blessed with a speedy move, immediate availability of housing and our household goods delivered for the most part intact.  But, I was still feeling kind of down and out and empty (see “New Beginnings“).  By the time the Full Moon had rolled around this year on January 26, I was starting to pick back up a bit and feeling hopeful.  I conducted a simple yet very personal and powerful Full Moon Ritual, visualizing all the yuck and muck being transformed into positive energy, peace and Divine love.  I made some very personal offerings to the Goddess, thanking Her for the life and blessings She gives us in the hopes of developing an even more serious and intimate relationship and devotion to Her and hoping that She’d open up some opportunities for me as I continue down this path in a new place.  One of the wonderful people who follows my blog told me, “Do not fear the empty feeling. Just be with it. It’s there to hold your new beginning.”  Words of wisdom my friend, and you have no idea how right you were…

Around mid-January, my friend Carol shared a link with me to a Dianic tradition of Druidry, The Apple Branch (we both have some Dianic tendencies, so obviously she knew I’d find this very interesting) founded by Deanne Quarrie (who I’ve reblogged a few times from Feminism and Religion).  She started down that path and a few weeks later, and after some serious consideration and emailing Deanne back and forth describing my interest in Druidry, shamanism, runes, the role of the seiðr and my questions (especially pertaining to their Guardian Program), I too decided to take the plunge and on February 1, I was officially welcomed into The Apple Branch 🙂

So, here we are – at Imbolc.  Looking back and reflecting upon where my path started out 9 years ago and where I am right now (obviously 9 being a very sacred number), I really wanted to put a lot of energy into honoring Brighid and thanking Her this year for the blessings that I’ve received thus far.  I started out by cleaning the house up, preparing a bed (which I’ve never done before believe it or not), making sure I had a lit candle (well, an LED candle) in the window, and hung my “Brighid’s Mantle” on a bush outside overnight for Her to bless and be used for healing if needed in the year to come.  It was also my Flamekeeping shift for Her, so it was extra special.

"A candle invites you into my house this night.  Enter in and be welcome in this place."

A candle invites You into my house this night. Enter in and be welcome in this place.

I had read that it was sometimes customary to have a wooden wand with an acorn or pinecone attached at the tip to represent the God so She wouldn’t get lonely (sounds a bit Wiccan to me, but hey – why not?  Who doesn’t like a good cuddle?).  Because the bed was small to begin with and I didn’t have a wooden wand handy, I opted for going out back and found a pinecone from one of the pine trees in our backyard instead.

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A bed is made for You to rest Your head.

Offerings of milk, bread and honey were left on Her altar.  Offerings of sage and lavender were also burned as offering to Her.  And yes, She was there 🙂

Bestow upon us Your gifts of peace and light.

Bestow upon us Your gifts of peace and light.

For Brighid’s Mantle, I used a layered silk wrap skirt I had purchased in TX about 5 years back.  This totally reminds me of Her – She is a multi-layered Goddess with both fiery and fertile aspects – bringing the spring and making the land green as She roams.

Brighid's Mantle

Brighid’s Mantle

Now, just a little FYI: Imbolc is a what is considered a Greater Sabbat or “cross-quarter” day.  “According to the late and great astrological philosopher Dane Rudhyar, the cross-quarters are points of greatest momentum and release of power…”  Bearing this in mind, astrological Imbolc occurred on February 3 this year when the Sun was at 15 degrees of Aquarius.  On a very interesting site, “Aepril’s Astrology” she wrote a piece entitled “Prophesy and Purification. Imbolc 2013, in which she states, “…My dear friend Laura says that Imbolc is not the fire itself necessarily, but the moment the match is struck.  It is lightning.” (Please pop over there and read the entire piece – it’s illuminating!!!)

Many “matches” and surprises awaited me on Imbolc this year.  I made a three hour drive out to Hallowed Oaks Grove, ADF  in Birmingham, AL.  I was running late, but as I crossed the state line, I saw that they were in a different time zone, one hour behind – thank the Shining Ones!  There, I was met with warmth and Southern Hospitality at its finest.  Brenda Lively (aka Pixie), the Senior Druid and her husband Dave graciously opened up and welcomed us into their home for a lovely ADF ritual that I actually got to actively participate in.  One of the people who was supposed to honor the Earth Mother wasn’t able to make it and I was asked to take their part and honor the Earth Mother which of course I said yes to (this is where the help from Grey and my experience with the Northern Druidic Study Group came in real handy!).  As Brenda stated in the pre-ritual brief, the ADF has a Core Order of Ritual, which makes it easy for others to know what’s going on and step in to take a part if needs be.  The ritual was so familiar, reminding me of the rituals at Muin Mound Grove, ADF and with the Northern Rivers Protogrove, ADF back in NY.  A most delicious feast was to follow along with great conversations, some history lessons and the making of new friends.

To make it even more interesting, I met a wonderful and profound woman, Angela Farmer (aka Ehsha Apple) who come to find out later on in conversation was the original author of “The Bad Witch Files” and now writes on “EhshaApple“.  “The Bad Witch…” I thought to myself…I know that blog…”I’ve heard of your blog,” I told her.  In fact, I had been following it…for awhile.  You see, what makes it so interesting is that back in August, she had actually nominated my blog, Journeying to the Goddess, for a Sunshine Award and that’s when I started following hers.  When I got home, I just wanted to confirm and make sure that it was the same blog I was thinking of and shut the front door! It was!  Was Brighid in the details on this one too? I couldn’t have put it better myself when Ehsha said, “I love when the universe says: ‘And *NOW* you will meet!’”  To top it off, Ehsha is also an ordained Pagan minister and High Priestess at the Celestial Earth Grove in Auburn, AL.  She has a vast amount of knowledge as a teacher and on the subjects of the seiðr, the Völva, and Teutonic Shamanism…many of the things I’ve been feeling called to since earlier in December (see “Exploration of the Norse Pantheon“)…how wyrd is that? 😉  AND…her Grove is only about 30 miles away…totally within driving distance…

Did I just hear thunder and see sparks flying?  Brighid, is that You?

Brighid Is In the Details – Part 1

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“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” ~ Unknown

Oh indeed, and boy am I laughing!  This post is coming a little later than I had intended, so I apologize for the delay – but, alas, life happens…And because of the length, it will be in 2 parts.

Imbolc – I’ve come to refer to Imbolc as my “Re-birthday” as big or important things seem to happen on or around Imbolc that have had a serious impact on my Path.  Let me take you back to Imbolc 2004…I had just finished reading Scott Cunningham’s book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner and got over the irrational fear of going to hell for looking at or considering worshipping other gods.  It was on Imbolc that I made my decision to dedicate myself to the God and Goddess, and so I ventured out into very cold and snowy wooded area on some back road south of Watertown, NY that I just found so beautiful and inviting every time I passed it on my way home from Fort Drum, NY to visit my family on the weekends.  It was so cold as I sat on a downed tree and connected with the earth’s energy; but it was so beautiful – the snow, the trees (despite being bare and leafless), the sun – I felt Her all around me, as though I was being welcomed home and it felt so warm and so right.  Perhaps it was Brighid there, guiding me and being the midwife that we all know and love, helping in my re-brith and brining me into this beautiful world and onto this wondrous Path.

Thinking back to my time at Fort Hood, TX – I believe if I’m not mistaken that I had joined a local Wiccan-based eclectic Pagan coven and started classes with them at Imbolc in 2007.  I learned quite a bit from my time spent with them, but decided that it wasn’t quite for me and left.  Then it was off to Fort Richardson, AK in the summer of 2008 while 6 months pregnant with our daughter (who was conceived around Imbolc…).  However, it wouldn’t be until Imbolc 2011 that I would finally venture out into the Anchorage Pagan community, almost a year after the birth of our son.  I first consciously heard and felt Brighid’s calling around December 2010/January 2011 – really feeling Her gentle yet persistent energy waxing, giving me hope and drawing me back out into the light and the world once again.   With Brighid’s reassurance, I got past the extreme anxiety that seemed to consume me and made it out to the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Church to attended a full-out ADF Imbolc open ritual.  This was to change the whole course of my Path that had felt stagnant at the time.  I absolutely loved the energy, the organization and flow of the ritual that led me to explore Druidry.  During this time, I met a very awesome person, Carol (an ADF Druid and a devotee of Brighid), who had organized a Goddess Circle for women – just what I needed at the time – time away with some rockin’ women who shared my love of the Goddess.  Carol’s love, passion and devotion to her Path and the Goddess inspired me in so many ways and also sparked a real interest in Druidry.  I loved how passionate and how serious she was about her Path – she actually lived her spirituality, not like many “play-gans” that I have come across who liked the label and liked the big festivals, but didn’t truly walk their talk…but that’s a whole other subject.

And again, in August of 2011, it was time to go again – back to NY where it all began.  I again was spending time in solitude – not really making any effort to venture out into the community as I was doing some really deep soul-searching and exploration.  I was still working with Brighid, but I felt as though Her presence had been seriously waning.  I was feeling empty and going through one of my “atheist moments”.  Then suddenly, out of the blue at the end of May/beginning of June 2012, I got an invitation to come out for a “meet and greet” (see my post “Transitioning“) with a local ADF Druid, Grey Catsidhe (who was also later come to find out devoted to Brighid), who found me through the ADF site (though I wasn’t part of the ADF and that person subsequently disappeared off the site no sooner had she “found” me) and Witchvox. Of course, I was very excited as I had not yet gotten out and about to meet people in the “community” up there.  Brighid must’ve thought it was time to leave my cave and yet again venture out into the world.

Meeting with Grey and the other 3 people who showed up at a local restaurant was refreshing.  You see, as stated earlier, I had met some really awesome people in Alaska who belonged to the ADF who had made a really great lasting impression on me.  What they had explained to me that the ADF believed coincided with many of my own beliefs and core attitude.  After listening to Grey talk about her beliefs and practice, it was completely inline with Carol’s attitudes and beliefs back in Alaska 3,000 miles away. I decided that night to take the plunge and join the ADF and have loved every minute of it since.  I was again inspired and learned so much from Grey and got some great hands on experience in writing rituals and actively participating in them within the North Country Druidic Study Group (which is now formally known as the Northern Rivers Protogrove, ADF thanks to Grey and those dedicated souls back up there in the Watertown area) which would come in handy later on down the road.  Here again, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet some very awesome and inspiring people; being especially thankful to Rev. Robert Lee “Skip” Ellison and his wife Sharon for opening their home and hosting those open rituals at Muin Mound Grove, ADF in Syracuse, NY that I had been fortunate enough to attend.

Brighid has certainly been in the details…