Ostara in Alabama

So yes, this is EXTREMELY late – but I really wanted to write about this before the next High Day comes, which is in about 3 or 4 days…

Artwork by Thorskegga Thorn

Artwork by Thorskegga Thorn

I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Ostara this year with the Nine Worlds Kindred in Auburn, AL.  I had been very interested in attending their Seekers Class and when I found out that they were hosting a Freyja blot & Disrblot for Ostara, I prayed to Freyja that there would be an opportunity for me to go – meaning that my husband would be home in time to watch the kiddies so I could go as his hours have been CrAzY!!  Alas, the Shining Ones allowed me the opportunity and I was on my way with a freshly baked loaf of bread that I had inscribe with the runes Ehwaz, Berkana, and Fehu – all runes I associate with Freyja and a bouquet of flowers to offer to Her.

The class went really well and I wished to continue as it opens door and explores different types of magic that I’m not all that familiar with, Hermetic and Ceremonial Magic that has always kind of intimidated me; but – good to know nonetheless.  I believe that it’s good to learn about all different Paths so you can become familiar with them and not “fear” them and may even incorporate them into your own practice.

The blot to follow was lovely.  In fact, parts of it were very familiar, having some similar elements to those found within an ADF style ritual: kindling a sacred fire and making offerings; pouring of water and offerings for the sacred water and honoring the sacred tree; referencing and acknowledging the land, sea and sky; and acknowledging and giving offerings to the outdwellers.  We bid hail to the Gods, the Disr and of course Freyja – the Goddess of the occasion.  A horn of mead was passed around as we hailed the Disr or a family ancestor followed by sacrifices and offerings being presented to Freyja.

During the ritual, I was provided the opportunity to sit in a seer session that was quite fascinating.  After such time, thanks was given to the Gods and Goddesses, the Disr, Earth Spirits and Ancestors and the gates were closed.

I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity that Freyja had opened for me.  It felt good, the people were awesome and I hope that some how, someway, I will be able to continue on with classes and activities with the Nine Worlds Kindred.

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.

photo-36

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

main_joy_0

“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…

I Claim This Space in the Name of Brighid!

From January 18, 2013 – Georgia

Journeying to the Goddess

brighid flag

“I claim this space in the name of Brighid!” I thought to myself as I staked Her flag proudly in front of our house this afternoon.  Today, we got into the garage and went through all of those items (outdoor decor, my holiday decorations, tools, and outdoors type items) to assess them, organize and repack as needed.  I was relieved to find all my items in tact and set to separating them into their own separate boxes (Imbolc, Beltaine, Samhain items, etc.) as the packers sometimes throw crazy things into boxes regardless of the fact that I had them organized and separated before hand, but anyways…I digress…

I made a long overdue introduction to the Nature Spirits that dwell in the charming little area in front of our house and left offerings of milk, bread and honey.  It felt appropriate and that the offerings were accepted and set to decorating…

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Exploration of the Norse Pantheon

From December 4, 2012 – New York

Journeying to the Goddess

As winter has ever so slowly been making its way to the North Country, I’ve yet again begun to feel Skadi’s presence.  Along with Her presence, I’ve been feeling a draw or a pull to explore the Norse and Germanic pantheons.  Since I had just finished reading A Dance with Dragons and have at least another 1 1/2 – 2 years before the next book in A Song of Ice and Fire series comes out, I was browsing my bookshelves and wondering what to read next.  My attention was drawn to 3 books in particular; Exploring the Northern Tradition by Galina Krasskova; Essential Ásatrú by Diane L. Paxson and Northern Mysteries and Magick by Freya Aswynn.  I ended up picking Krasskova’s book a few nights ago as it looked like a good intro into the Norse and Germanic beliefs, pantheon and lore.

The book thus far has turned out to…

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Week’s Recap – Thankfulness (August 26, 2012)

???????????????????????????????So, I’m very thankful – it’s been a very successful week, both spiritually and mundanely…well, except for this morning when I had to be up at 4:30AM to drive my husband to the airport (Army stuff).  But, then again, I’m thankful for that now that I think about it because this school he is going to and the orders we will receive when he completes it has stopped him from being deployed to Afghanistan…so yes, I can say that I’m thankful for that.

Anyways, spiritually – I’ve made a very long-awaited connection with Epona.  As I’ve stated in comments under my Epona entry, I’ve always loved and had a strong connection with horses.  Equine Science was my first college major until I’d gotten into a car accident on my way to college one early icy morning on my way to the horse barn to groom and take care of the horse that I was responsible for, Briar.  Despite having to be up at 5AM every morning to get to the horse barn, it was well worth it to me as I loved EVERYTHING about it.  I loved the smells, the sounds of the horses whinnying and snorting, and most especially grooming her.  That was when I was at peace in my “happy place” – spending that one on one time with her rubbing, brushing and picking hooves.  I also loved riding – the freedom from all my cares that came with it was amazing…

“Rhiannon” by Amanda Walsh

In my younger days, when confronted, being “cut down” or if someone tried to discourage me from doing something I had set my mind to, I remember “feeling” like a wild horse saying, “I will not be broken!”  Stubborn…very stubborn (if truth be told, I still am).  I’ve felt a faint connection with Epona for several years now; with Her name popping into my head for no apparent reason and calling out to Her when feeling weak, hurt and vulnerable.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling Her energy grow stronger and stronger as She made Her way into my life and really made Her presence known.  Perhaps that began when during our last Druid study group several weeks ago, I pulled the Horse card from the Druid Animal Oracle deck after focusing on the question, “What do I need to focus on today?”  I’ve also felt a spark with Rigantona and Rhiannon, even Macha; but more so with Epona.  Maybe because Her energy just feels so much “older” and primal to me than Rhiannon, Rigantona and Macha.

“Epona the Horse Goddess” by Gene Avery North

It’s been extremely healing, opening up a whole new sense of deeper love, understanding, forgiveness and acceptance that I was afraid that I’d never come to know.  I had a friend a long time ago that said, “Pony medicine is good medicine – healing medicine,” and as far as I’m concerned, he was right on the money!  I’m not sure what finally sealed the deal completed this connection – perhaps when it was when I was riding one of the horses with my daughter at the Renaissance Festival last Sunday – I have no idea.  All I know is that She’s here and I’m so thankful for Her warm, loving and peaceful presence I feel when my anger or feelings of discontent and frustration flare up.  I can “see” Her: a milk-white mare with big soft brown eyes just staring at me and feel Her comforting warmth.

I’ve also decided to try to work with Her as a Gatekeeper, which I understand is usually a male deity.  However, I feel She would make a perfect Gatekeeper as She is associated with protection, keys, the Otherworld and Underworld, being a psychopomptravel, shape-shifting, dreams, the Feminine and magic – just to name a few of Her associations.  As I have more of a Dianic nature, it just feels right.

“Green Goddess of Beltane” by ArwensGrace

I’ve thought a lot about the Goddesses that I feel connected to and noticed a pattern.  First off, Brighid – Celtic, who goes by many names depending on the region or tribe you’re looking at (i.e. Brìde in Scotland, Brigindū in GaulBrigantia in Great Britain, etc.).  Nemetona – Celtic, worshiped in eastern Gaul.  Sulis – Celtic, another Gaulish Goddess worshiped at the thermal spring of Bath (with associations with Brighid).  And now Epona – another Gaulish Goddess worshiped throughout the Celtic and even Roman world.  I also have an interest in Artio a Celtic/Gaulish bear Goddess, worshiped notably at Bern (Switzerland) and Abnoba, another Gaulish Goddess who was worshipped in the Black Forest and surrounding areas with connections to Diana (another favorite Goddess of mine).  Do you see a pattern?  They’re all Celtic Goddesses, yes, but more specifically, they’re all Gaulish.

I think I’ve found my pantheon 🙂

This kind of surprised me as I had expected it to be more of an Irish pantheon, but the feeling of connectedness just isn’t as strong as it is with the Gaulish pantheon.  Perhaps because of my Ancestors?  I will freely admit that yes, I am a mutt – Sicilian, Polish and Czechoslovakian on my father’s side and Irish, German, Polish, English, French and Dutch on my mother’s side.  Now, I know that there are people who say that ancestry doesn’t have too much of an influence on what deities call to you, and I agree with that; however, I feel that sometimes, it does.

Onto a different topic now…

I’ve just now discovered a very yummy and acceptable offering to the Shining Ones – Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey.  It caught my eye one day as I was walking through the PX looking for a bottle of whiskey to use for my offerings, especially after our very successful garage sale we’ve been running all this past week.  I felt a collective acceptance from the Shining Ones as we gave offerings of thanks for our blessings we had received.

That then inspired my husband…mead making.  Eventually, when he retires from the military, we would really like to live a self-sustainable life.  My aunt and uncle are beekeepers and sell their own honey.  I one day want to learn this skill and sell honey and make soaps and skincare products.  My husband sees an opportunity to make and sell mead as well.  Perhaps some Divine Inspiration?  🙂  Who knows…we’ll see where this dream takes us…

Love and God Wishes…

From August 17, 2012 – New York

Journeying to the Goddess

I’ve been blessed with a few experiences these past few weeks that have been a bit of a wake up call for me.  My daughter, who will be 4 in November, has been very observant of books I have laying out that I use as references to my daily Goddess blog and statuary I have around the house on my altars.  She asks questions, as to who They are and I explain that they’re Goddesses.  She likes to look at the images and say, “Oohh, nice Goddess!”

She’s also been very observant of my acts of devotion and thanks to the gods.  Whenever we bake together (my daughter, 2 & 1/2 year old son and myself), we always make wishes and stir love into whatever we’re baking.  Then, whatever it is, when it comes out of the oven, I set a cookie, a muffin, the first heal of bread aside…

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