Vedic Spring Equinox: Honoring Indra

Vedic Spring Equinox: Honoring Indra

Opening Prayer (Three Cranes Liturgy)

The spirits of the sky are above us.
The spirits of the land are around us.
The spirits of the waters flow below us.
Surrounded by all the numinous beings of earth and sea and sky,
Our hearts tied together as one,
Let us pray with a good fire.
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ADF Election Questions: Responses from Candidates

The ballot for ADF Elections 2018 is coming out soon, and some of the candidates have taken the time to answer questions posed by the membership.  Included below are the Mother Grove Candidates, and the links to their responses if they’ve answered questions.  Some answered the questions posed in a single post, and others answered them in a series of posts.  Some have not answered any questions ahead of time.  Check for their responses on the ballot itself.

Member’s Advocate

Non-Officer Director

Vice Arch-Druid

Earth Mother & Sky Father

Ar nDraiocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) holds a place of honor for Earth Mother within their core order of ritual (COoR). This is based on the archeological evidence of her spiritual significance to our Indo-European ancestors. Ancient or modern we rely on Earth Mother for everything from water, food and shelter to beauty and inspiration.

Sky Father is not part of ADF’s core order of ritual. However, that does not mean he was not important to our Indo-European ancestors. As such, while not an official part of ADF’s ritual structure there are groves and individuals who choose to honor Sky Father.

“The union of the Sky God and the Earth Goddess, which maintains the cosmic order and bestows prosperity on the land as it’s fertilized by the sun and the rain, is often referred to as a hieros gamos or hierogamy, “divine marriage,” by historians of the religion. (1)

This concept can be found flowing through many of the myths that we can access. The Gods are known by many names from culture to culture. However, their concept and importance to each culture comes through in surviving mythology and archeological evidence.

1 https://norse-mythology.org/jord/
14 February 2018

Earth Mother and Sky Father
Earth Mother,
Blessed lady who first emerged at the dawn of creation,
Your cycle of life carries beauty, inspiration and death
Your body is Home to fur, fin, feather, scale and skin
Your body nurtures all who live, play and grow
In the land, sea and sky
Earth Mother, I honor you!

Sky Father
Creator of gentle breezes and vast storms
You who support Earth Mother with rain, sun and everything in between
Playground to feathered kin, inspiration and dreams
Home to Sun, Moon and Stars
Sky Father, I honor you!

A Multiplicity of Centers

 

A Multiplicity of Centers

There is a Zuni legend that when the Water Skate was given magical powers by the Sun Father, he stretched his four legs out upon the waters.

His front right leg stretched first to the northeast, the place of the summer solstice sunrise; his front left leg stretched next to the northwest, the place of the summer solstice sunset; his back left leg then stretched to the southwest, the place of the winter solstice sunset; his back right leg then stretched to the southeast, the place of the winter solstice sunrise.

Where his heart then rested marked the “Center Place,” the center of the land that is surrounded by the four seas and the heart of the Earth Mother. It is below this center, below the heart of the Water Skate which is the heart of the Earth Mother, that the village of Zuni was established.

At the center of the village, another center resides. This is on a permanent altar in the chief priest’s house, where a heart-shaped rock (known as “the heart of the world”) rests. Within this rock are arteries that reach toward the four solstice points.

These centers, it is easy to see, form a series of centers that are both atop each other in an obvious layering effect and also all the same in their overlay. None of these centers can exist without the others, and they seem to form around one another in ever tightening rings. Each center is itself, unique; each center is also all the other centers.

Eliade indicates that religion itself is an orienting force, one that gives us a focal point from which to make sense of the world. When we are in a profane state, one that is not sacred, we have no point of reference. It is only through the breakthrough of the sacred into the profane world, the hierophany, that orientation is possible. “The heirophany reveals an absolute fixed point, a center.”

It is the finding of this fixed point, this center, that allows us to make sense of the world. If religion is, indeed, about finding ways to orient ourselves, to place ourselves in relative location to everything else, then we must find those centers, even if we must create them. The creation of those centers is similar to founding the cosmos.

Centers themselves are different from the rest of the world. They are places that allow this orientation, an orientation that the profane world cannot provide. Many of us are familiar with the axis mundi, or the axis of the world from Eliade. These cosmic pillars can only exist, according to Eliade, at the center of the universe, and all things extend about it. It supports the sky and finds its roots deep within the earth, and its presence is not an ordering force, but a break, a rip in the fabric of the profane world that allows the sacred to pour into and destroy the homogeneity of space.

The destruction of the homogenous space is made possible by openings to other worlds, allowing travel and communication between them. In the case of the Zuni, there are four upper worlds and four underworlds that the axis mundi allows access to. Time also begins at the center, and mythical time exists at the outskirts of their cosmos.

In ADF cosmology, we find that the center of the world has three parts: Well, Fire, and Sacred Tree. Often, we think of the Tree as the axis mundi, but it is not the only center in ritual. Indeed, all the hallows are a center, and they combine to form the center. The center is not complete with only the tree, for while the tree grows high and is rooted deep, it cannot devour our sacrifices as the fire can, nor can it carry our voices to the depths of the earth as the well can.

Instead, the center must make use of all parts of the hallows: Well, Fire, and Tree. Beyond that, though, there is also the center of the earth, the heart of the Earth Mother, upon whose breast we build our Fire, root our Tree, and sink our Well. We establish the center above her heart, above the center of the earth.

The Grove itself has a center, the place in the middle of those Grove members gathered that the energies and the focus of the ritual is centered. Within each other, we find our own orientation, our own center: there is no stronger center, no larger axis, no more powerful hierophany than that of a Grove standing together, orienting themselves to one another, and finding their place in the centers others can offer.

Most important, though, is another center that must not only be found, but that the ritual cannot happen without: the center of ourselves. Each of us, within our own heart, must find the center of our beings, the inner center that allows us to stand in the center, to be our own axis mundi. From us, all things radiate, and within ourselves we can discover a rift between the sacred and the profane.

If we cannot find the center of ourselves, if the hierophany of our hearts cannot be seen, then others cannot find it within us. If the Grove cannot orient itself by combining these centers, then it cannot find the center of the earth, the heartbeat of the Earth Mother. If we cannot orient ourselves to that center, then we cannot orient our hallows, and the Well, Fire, and Tree will not stand at the center of the worlds.

Centers are unlike any other thing in ritual: they are where we establish them. Yes, they can appear naturally, and there are places that a center is more likely to appear than others, but to truly do the work of magic, we need to learn to establish them, to place them atop one another, to blend them and to maintain their distinctions. We must find them in ourselves, either through meditation or ritual, and we must learn to use the point of reference created by our own center to orient ourselves to the other centers around us.

For the Water Skate myth and Zuni centers, see “New Directions in American Archeoastronomy“, edited by Anthony F. Aveni: Oxford, England: 1988. ISBN 0860545830. The article in question is “Directionality as a Conceptual Model for Zuni Expressive Behavior” by M. Jane Young.

For further reading on Eliade’s theory of hierophany and centers, see “The Sacred & the Profane: The Nature of Religion” by Mircae Eliade. ISBN: 015679201X

Solitary Healing Ritual for Mental Illness

Mental Health is something that many people struggle with.  This ritual is designed to lend support to those facing depression or other mental illnesses.  May the light and warmth of Brigando drive out the lies that depression tells.

If you, or someone you know need help, text 741-741 and a crisis worker will text you back immediately and will continue to text with you or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Little Brighid: A UPG introduction to Brighid for children

The Daghda was a mighty warrior. King to a people known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. He was wide and strong, carrying a heavy magical club that could harm his enemies, or bring life to the fallen. He was never hungry, because he had a magical cauldron that was always full of food no matter how much he ate.

But he was grumpy.

He was full of wisdom and creativity. But as the king and leader of his people, he never had time to spend on creating beautiful things for fun. He was too busy!

He had all these ideas and he needed to get them out! (Have you ever been full of ideas you wanted to get out?)

And so, his daughter came to be. A daughter he named Brighid.
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Pagan Parenting: How to Find the Time

I work in little pieces as part of my life. Like, when I stick something in the microwave or on the stove, I say a quick prayer to Hestia. When I’m taking my daughter to daycare in the morning we say good morning to Ushas.

Devotion wise, it doesn’t have to be a lot or big or elaborate. Just little *nods* here and there. I have good luck tying it to things I already do. Like making coffee (so much coffee…)

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#DailyShrine Challenge

Most of us probably keep at least one shrine or altar in our homes, or in our pocket for travel, and many folks cycle through various altar decorations based on what they’re doing or the time of year.  That is the inspiration behind this latest challenge that I’m issuing.  The #DailyShrine Challenge. We all have different ways our shrine can look based on who we’re honoring or what we’re doing.  This all began when I issued the first #prayeraday challenge a couple years ago, and this year even more people joined in, sharing the prayers they’d written, one for each day in November, with us.  It’s a way for us to get involved, come together.  We’re able to build that group mind and that fellowship that we crave.  The #DailyShrine Challenge I’m hoping will work the same way: it will allow folks to get involved at their comfort level, and feel a bigger part of Our Own Druidry.
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Holder, Healer: a new song for Brigid

I’ve been working on a new song for Three Cranes Grove’s celebration of Imbolc on Jan. 28. The bones of it are based in an audio recording I made of spontaneous sing-praying I was doing back in August, but I only just finished hammering out the chord structure and the lyrics over the weekend, so this really is hot off the presses. (Which is also why I’m mostly peering at my notebook in the video below!)
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Imbolc, change, and a community of care

As the festival of Imbolc approaches, I find a number of different thoughts and currents coming to bear on each other. So: this is first and foremost an essay about looking forward to Imbolc, and about its patron goddess Brigid. But this is also an essay about community, and about our role in it. And it’s about change, and the life that springs from unlife; about caring; about grief. And all these things are Imbolc.

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I began writing this essay on a warm Tuesday night last week. It was 53°F (11°C). Three days before that it was 0°F (-18°C) overnight, and three days later the temps had dropped back down to zero, and we’d gotten 5 inches (12 cm) of snow and a layer of ice below that. I realize it’s banal to start off a blog post with the weather, but in many ways this meteorological uncertainty is representative, to me, of Imbolc.
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