Archive for the ‘sacred grove’ Tag

“The Purpose of Druidry”   Leave a comment

“isn’t to make Druids”, a fellow Druid remarked to me over the Solstice weekend at our Vermont Gathering.

Huh. I thought. Right! As soon as you say it …

iris

strayed iris along our driveway

Druidry’s a practice to re-connect with Spirit. What aspect of Spirit you reconnect with, how you reconnect, why, and what you call yourself — these matters circle round the rim of the practice, however helpful or significant they may be. They’re not the hub, like the practice of connection is. (A wheel, of course, is more than its hub.)

devpaint

devil’s paintbrush (Hieracium aurantiacum; Pilosella aurantiaca) aka orange hawkweed — one of my favorite “unplanted flowers”. They set the lawn on fire!

The metaphors that bubble up when we try to talk about a practice matter, too. Circle, spiral, wheel. The patterns of the oldest games we play as children, the deepest truths of existence we perceive.

When you’re reconnecting, the tree-wisdom that is one probable etymology of the word Druid is at work in your life.

How does it manifest?

For me, it takes increasingly specific forms that become my practice by themselves. I know something larger than me and my hopes, fears and dreams. I find I want to honor it, and strive to live in harmony with it. The more I give it my love and attention, the more numerous my encounters. I slowly discover how interactions and exchanges with it are mutually beneficial. I work to bring more of my life into a dance with its rhythms.

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Part of my particular how of connecting and manifesting lies in where I find myself, as does yours, if you’re seeking to connect.

I bless the previous owner, as you know from previous posts, for the Rowan in our front yard, and also for the row of three old blueberry bushes in the back. We’re letting blackberries grow up near them. Both like the acidic soil we try to provide with pine needle mulch, and after the spate of bitter weather this past January, we’re seeing some die-back among them and the rhododendrons out front. As if to compensate, this has been a particularly wet year, and a warm one, once it got going.

Blessings on Europe, and a request to Spirit to temper the heat burning there. Balance, balance.

blueberries

Everything wants to make a gift of itself to you, came the insight one morning some years ago.

Sh*t! I remember thinking. Really?!

But the message wasn’t done yet. Reject it and the gift often comes harder, more insistent and difficult, in less easy forms.

All right, I think. Well, no. A little right. This will take some getting used to.

Everything?!

Difficult gifts … I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

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Yesterday was too rainy, so it wasn’t until this morning I finally thought to get a shot of the two pine trunks I rolled from where our friend and neighbor Chris helped to cut them into manageable lengths with his chainsaw in May.

For a month they lay there, too heavy to move.

So thank-yous to all of you who contributed Solstice energy to our recent Vermont Weekend and helped me raise these “Alban Gates”!!

After meditating and listening for a bit about where I should set them, I raised them as gateposts for my backyard grove over the weekend. They now sit on stone footers, with wedges to steady them. I’ll be adding some side supports and possibly a lintel post later.

Below is a pic of them, looking west towards our house. The slightly larger left trunk is about my height, to give a sense of scale. Thank Spirit they’re pine. They won’t last as long, but I wouldn’t have been able to lift and set them in place if they were as heavy as oak, or the cherry of our recent Solstice bonfire.

I’m still listening about when to dedicate them. Lunasa, or the next full moon, maybe.

pillars1

Solstice energy to raise and open the “Alban Gates”! Facing west toward house.

 

pillarse

Same pillars, facing east — with the mystery of light on leaves

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“Wood-month” is upon us. Or at least on many Vermonters. Everywhere, a store of winter fuel dropped off on roadsides, yards, driveways, ready for the work of stacking. Sweat equity for stacking makes up the significant difference between cost per cord and cost per gallon of fuel oil. As long as I can, I’ll sweat instead. I’m still more cheap than lazy at this point. Of course, I can virtuously claim to be a little “greener” as well.

3cords

We manifest here by applying effort. It’s one of our special abilities. Spirit (and other beings without physical bodies) need incarnate beings to achieve such things, and humans are especially good at this, at building and shaping and moving stuff around. Part of why we’re here is to learn to do it more wisely, at need and not merely at whim.

Solwom wesutai syet. For the good of the whole …

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Kuklunomes — Let’s Form the Circle: Part 1   Leave a comment

birchgrovemd

[Part 2 here]

Kuklunomes.  Karla, our ritual leader, half-sings, half-speaks the word in Priyosta Grove’s dedicated language.  Let’s form the circle.

Swonago!  says Russ, as he strikes a singing bowl forcefully.  The sound ripples through the clearing.  We’ve been experimenting with opening gestures and words.  These seem to work for us now.  I can feel without looking that the others are listening, as I am, as the sound fades.

Already the five of us who’ve gathered have been falling out of speech and into a ritual hush.  April wind blows chill through our grove, though the sun in a cloudless sky feels blessedly warm on our faces.  I open my eyes. Dry brown grass whispers around us and underfoot, but the rains have greened things as well.  Almost everyone still wears long sleeves, though a few dare to bare a little more.  Russ strikes the bowl a second time, and cries Swonago! just as Angie and Dan enter the grove.  They’re somewhat flushed, and release hands as they separate to walk to opposite sides of the circle.  Our resident young couple has plainly been making out.  Karla smiles at Angie, who’s tousled and a little breathless.

For the invocation, Karla passes to Michelle the staff she’s handcarved.  For each gathering she decorates it anew.  This time, on one end of the staff, three bird feathers, and a neat braid of colored ribbons cut from scraps from the Beltane rite last year.  Michelle raises it toward Karla in acknowledgement, than lifts it high over our heads.  The words to come are hers. We each bring a piece of this rite, having rehearsed it through a flurry of emails and briefly in a conference call a week ago, fighting static over a bad connection.  All becomes part of Grove tradition, stories to retell, to share with newcomers when the time is right, to remind us who we are.

Gods, spirits, ancestors of blood and the heart’s bond, Michelle chants in a minor-key singsong, we call you to sift our intent, to join our rite, and to bless what we share here and always. 

The words ripple up and down my spine. I glance around the circle again, wanting to take it all in.  Dan and Angie’s eyes are closed.  Both their heads tilt slightly as they listen.  To the casual observer, we’re just as casual: no robes or massive Pagan bling.  Look closer and you might see a few discrete pentagrams, a few modest-sized pendants and earrings.  One bearded fellow we know only as Dragon wears jeans and an embroidered white dress-shirt, a fluid Celtic pattern worked in red.  Michelle has brought water in our lovely aquamarine offering bowl that she found some years ago at a household auction and gifted to Priyosta Grove.  Friendship, it translates, or Amity.  An ongoing goal for us, an intention.  Michelle passed the bowl to Dragon when Karla handed her the staff.  Some of the rite we’re improvising now, relaxed at what’s scripted and what arrives free-form.

Dragon steps forward to bless the circle with water.  He’s at ease, smiling slightly, as he sprinkles each of us in turn.

Western gods and spirits, lakes and rivers, blood in our veins, oceans circling, he chants slowly, turning to each of us, we call you here,  now. 

Dragon’s name, I’m beginning to sense, fits him well after all.  I remember how I rolled my eyes a little when I first heard him introduce himself, then scolded myself as a Pagan snob.

Now, briefly, I flash onto a serpentine form, awash in a frothy sea — a water dragon.  Its arcing wings shoot a cascade of cool, refreshing water over us.  I shudder involuntarily in surprise at the vividness of what I experience.  A confirmation, something to tell him after, if it feels right.

I look around again at the others.  All of us are in fact wearing ritual garb.  The point is comfort and ritual dedication.  We’ve changed into these clothes, but they’re modern, like our ritual.  Priyosta has never come close to discussing anything like a “ritual dress code,” let alone tried to make one a formal policy — nobody has the balls, nor could they get it to stick anyway — but over our eight years of existence, we’ve established our own unwritten sensibility.  One piece of jewelry you’ve dedicated and worn to many rites over time is almost always better than thirty pounds of robes and bling from “Auntie Gaia’s Mystyk Cauldron and Proud Pagan Emporium.”  In big circles and at major festival gatherings, some of us might dress up more.  For this and for our other local rituals, we dress “in” — that one piece of clothing or jewelry that helps remind us as we breathe the smoking sage, feel the water of the blessing, that solvas son yagnei — all things are holy.

We continue inviting the Quarters, and settle in to the Rite.  We tell what feels appropriate, and pass over the rest, belonging to the Grove alone.

It’s not a major festival that’s brought us together this time.  Priyosta doesn’t always manage to meet for every one of the “Eight Greats.”  You follow the Wheel as you can.  But it’s time for our own thanksgiving.  The papers are signed and filed, the last check cleared our now very small grove bank account, the land title arrived on Monday.  This little hilltop with its stand of birches is now officially “ours” to care for.  A former hunter’s camp, much of it had been badly trashed, but we got it for back taxes and not a whole lot more.  A trust, for our grove to hold and heal, and when the time comes, to pass on.  We keep its location private, to preserve it from further heedless indifference.

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Image: birch grove.

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