Archive for the ‘wood and water’ Tag

What We Deserve, What We Owe   Leave a comment

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At Camp Middlesex, Ashby, MA. Photo courtesy Anna Oakflower.

I appreciate that these two things — what we deserve, what we owe — preserve the power to provoke and unsettle us. In the millennia of recorded human history, we’ve grappled long with them both, trying out a range of responses, never wholly satisfied with any of them, though it seems almost every generation in the last few hundred years has claimed to have arrived at some definitive version.

It’s no surprise they’re linked, our rights and our obligations, to put them in more contemporary terms. And it should be no surprise that the second of the pair gets much less air time. But what are our duties and obligations? What do we owe, and to whom? Pop culture offers its ready wisdom: what goes around comes around, you get what you give, there’s no free lunch.

John Beckett in a recent blogpost outlines seven things we owe Pagan newcomers, and they are helpful guides to anyone connecting with others. Among things we might reasonably be said to owe, he notes, are hospitality (a world-wide value), respectful boundaries, clear expectations, and an honest history. And only by acknowledging that we owe these things to others can we rightfully expect to claim them in return for ourselves. To put it in other terms, where we expect to benefit is where we are called to honor others’ expectations for those same things. Such human reciprocity is the cornerstone of civilization.

For we receive so much so freely already, a gift. The black walnut in our back yard has gone golden yellow, its heavy mealy nuts falling, to the delight of our gray squirrels.

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black walnut, 14 October 2018

The last salamanders before the frosts come are walking their fires across the earth.

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salamander — photo courtesy Anna Oakflower

 

Mushrooms drank in the wet summer and autumn of New England this year, and emerged in their unlikeliness.

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OBOD ritual knows the power of summoning us to “what we may deserve” — a little quiver of reckoning in those words. Do we even know? How far do our presence and actions extend?

A stand of pines reaches skyward, lifting vision with them.

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Do we deserve this world? Do the clouds deserve the lakes that go still and mirror them back to the sky? Sometimes the only fitting response is gratitude and generosity in return.

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millpond, Camp Middlesex, Ashby, MA

From these come the first stirrings of spiritual presence for many — the strange and marvelous givenness of our world, and ourselves in it.

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Ice and Fire   Leave a comment

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[Out our front window. Standing in place and turning 180 degrees, adjusting the camera for contrast, the window of our stove.]

The Atlantic online recently posted an article titled “Awesomeness is Everything” asserting that the experience of awe makes people kinder, tunes them in spiritually, and generally adjusts our overly-human world by clueing it in to larger ones all around it.

As vastness expands our worldview, it shrinks our ego. Awe makes spiritual and religious people feel a greater sense of oneness with others. And this oneness can make us nicer: Researchers found that inducing awe—say, by having people stand in a grove of tall trees—increased generosity, in part by stoking “feelings of a small self.” Awe also shapes our sense of time. One series of studies found that awe made time feel more plentiful, which increased life satisfaction, willingness to donate time to charity,and preferences for experiences over material products.

In winter, my physical world contracts significantly. True, a car could take me to other places, but unless I have the time and resources to drive south for most of a day, the climate will stay much the same. Ice and fire predominate, returning this human life more closely to proper proportions.

Posted 20 December 2016 by adruidway in awe, Druidry, fire, ice, Thoreau, wood and water

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Asking What, Asking Who   Leave a comment

mossrock2If I ask what? then I’m alone in a world of things, none of which says anything to me, though I may listen as long as I like. After all, why ask a thing?! Trying too hard, I can almost believe I’m just another thing myself.

But let me ask who? and then the world wakes to wonder.  Atoms like me, earthed like me, kindred, sky-breathed like me this November afternoon. Yes, sparked like me, too, being here, in this place, now.  Oh, let me lose no more songs that greet and open! You carry them, clouds — water too, and day gray on the hills.

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If I ask who, this stone
whirling with its billion atoms
mostly empty space they say (though
touching it you’d never believe)
its presence, its jacket of moss
this stone talks, not loud
if anyone listens.

Talks to itself, hasn’t yet
heard hey! from anyone else
through a skin thick
against weatherdance and stormscrape
I believe a free hand
on its rough cool reaches,
I begin to learn its witness
slow offshear in wind and heat,

flake and shard and century chip.
Stone long alone will not yield soon
but with a palm against a sunside flank
you can feel it heed sun nonetheless
warming at the distant inquiry of light.

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Who? is a song that wakes worlds. I wake you, you wake me, we rouse together singing.

The questions matter, though they’re one half of it. Mouth and ear, at the proportion of one to two, right for wisdom when the oak lets fall its hard fruit. Earth, you know. Who says so? A sapling, in a spring or two.

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Image: moss rock.

“Not responsible for spontaneous descent of Awen”   4 comments

treesun-smNot responsible for spontaneous descent of Awen or manifestation of the Goddess. Unavailable for use by forces not acting in the best interests of life. Emboldened for battle against the succubi of self-doubt, the demons of despair, the phantoms of failure. Ripe for awakening to possibilities unforeseen, situations energizing and people empowering.

Catapulted into a kick-ass cosmos, marked for missions of soul-satisfying solutions, grown in gratitude, aimed towards awe, mellowed in the mead of marvels. Optimized for joy, upgraded to delight, enhanced for happiness.  Witness to the Sidhe shining, the gods gathering, the Old Ways widening to welcome.

logmoss-smPrimed for passionate engagement, armed for awe-spreading, synchronized for ceremonies of sky-kissed celebration. Weaned on wonder, nourished by the numinous, fashioned for fabulousness. Polished for Spirit’s purposes, dedicated to divine deliciousness, washed in the waters of the West, energized in Eastern airs, earthed in North’s left hand, fired in South’s right. Head in the heavens, heart with the holy, feet in flowers, gift of the Goddess, hands at work with humanity. Camped among the captives of love, stirred to wisdom in starlight, favored with a seat among the Fae, born for beauty, robed in the world’s rejoicing, a voice in the vastness of days.

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Knowing, seeing, sensing, being all this, you can never hear the same way again these two words together: “only human”!

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Images: three from a sequence taken yesterday, 3 Oct 14, on a blessed autumn day in southern Vermont two miles from my house.

 

Goddess at The Turn of the Year   3 comments

rgingrasfire[The following rite is freely adapted from Ceisiwr Serith‘s Deep Ancestors.*  In particular, the Proto-Indo-European (in bold) differs in conception from Serith’s reconstructions.  Serith knows both his PIE and his ritual; the changes here match my esthetics and inner sensibility, which I trust — for me.  Your mileage may differ.  I repeat the words I speak to close my own rites: Solwom wesutai syet!  [sohl-WOHM WEH-soo-tie syeht] May it be for the good of all!]

Gumete, gumete, gumete!
[GOO-meh-teh, GOO-meh-teh, GOO-meh-teh] 
Oh come, come, come!

Gumete gurtibos solwom deiwom.
[GOO-meh-teh goor-TEE-bohs sohl-WOHM day-WOHM]
Come to praise all the gods.

Usme keidont — klute tos.
[OOS-meh KAY-dohnt — KLOO-teh tohs]
They are calling you — hear them.

Gumete ognim,
[GOO-meh-teh OHG-neem]
Come to the fire,

gumete spondetekwe!
[GOO-meh-teh spohn-deh-TEH-kweh]
come and worship!

Tusyomes, tusyomes, tusyomes!
[toos-YOH-mehs, toos-YOH-mehs, toos-YOH-mehs!]
[Let us hush, hush, hush!]
May we all maintain a holy silence.

May we be pure
that we might cross through the sacred.
May we cross through the sacred
that we might attain the holy.
May we attain the holy
that we might be blessed in all things.

Goddess who burns on the hearth, in our homes,
we call you to join us here
bringing our prayers to the gods
forming the means by which we sacrifice.
May the holy arise in our midst, the pure and the blessing.

Shining Lady, unite us all,
for by worshiping at a common hearth
we are made one family, one people.
Asapotya**, Lady of the Hearth, your household is here.

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Our soapstone stove, alight with Brigid’s blessing.

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A blessed solstice to all!

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*Serith, Ceisiwr.  Deep Ancestors.  Tucson, AZ: ADF Publishing, 2007.  Pp. 122-124.  Serith is a long-time and respected member of ADF who maintains the Nemos Ognios grove north of Boston.

**A possible reconstructed name of my own devising. The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word *asa becomes (among other words) Latin ara “altar.”

The * indicates that the word is reconstructed — we have no written record of it — from actual words in one or more of the descendant or “daughter” languages. In general, the more extant “descendant” words deriving from a PIE “ancestor” word, the better the evidence for that particular PIE ancestor. Historical linguists have worked on PIE for over 200 years: we have a few thousand “restored” words that most agree on.  One advantage Indo-Europeanists have in making such reconstructions is the large number of documents in older  forms of languages like Greek, Sanskrit, Latin, Gothic, Avestan and Old Church Slavonic.

Image: fire on shore.  Be sure to visit Richard Gingras’ fabulous images of fires at the URL indicated for the image.

Wood and Water   Leave a comment

There’s elemental comfort in contemplating the woodpile in our back lean-to (and a second one outdoors) — a reassurance that reaches to the bone.  Wood is our primary source of heat, and we spend about $600 a year to heat our small ranch house.  Some rooms have electric baseboard which we use only minimally, when we’re away for more than a few days in winter, to save pipes from freezing.  Taking a break from splitting, I stand and count days and logs, logs and days.  And I give thanks to the waiting trees around our property.

Yes, it’s labor-intensive to feed a stove and keep it drawing well. If you’ve maintained a fire, you know these things, of course — I’m hardly telling you anything new.  But for us the payback of wood is true solace:  even when the power goes out, and no matter the windchill, we stay warm.  Each log is captured sunlight, and if you’ve spent any time in wood heat, you know its delightful penetrating quality, much like sunbathing. (This winter has been mild so far for southern VT — our heaviest single snowfall clocked in at under a foot, and the thermometer dove and hovered just below zero Fahrenheit for only a couple of days last month.  Today on our hilltop the mercury hit the mid-40s — briefly.)

Especially at night during a winter outage, with flames or embers our only source of illumination beyond candlelight or short bursts of flashlight, a moment’s reverie can transport us back 10,000 years to a Neolithic cave and the flicker of firelight on stone walls.  You sit close to each other for added warmth, and fire-watching feels both utterly ancient and distinctly human.  Then the hearth resumes its old and honored place as center of life and civilization.  (Brigid, saint and goddess, patron of Candlemas and Imbolc just past, is lady of the hearth-fire.) Without heat on a bitter night, we’re each reduced to King Lear’s “thing itself … unaccommodated man … a poor, bare, forked animal.”  At such times, more even than water, heat’s the immediate necessity.

When we first visited the house with a realtor on a bright, cold January day some years back, I remember thinking how much work wood heat would be.  But we’ve only needed to start a fire about half a dozen times since late October, when the stove began burning steadily.  Since then, the coals are almost always still hot enough in the morning to re-ignite whole logs without kindling.  My wife or I wake up most nights now, in the small hours,  almost taking turns without consciously planning it, to stoke the fire just once, and return to bed.  And we can cook on the stove.  Yes, it takes longer, but if the power’s out, time suddenly returns in abundance.

As for water, beyond our well, we have a small pond at the bottom of our yard.  Again, when we first saw the property, all I thought was “mosquito breeding ground,” but I’ve come to see its multiple advantages.  No, the water’s not potable (though the minnows, salamanders and frogs don’t seem to mind), but we can boil it if need be. It also serves for irrigation in a drought. Come spring, we’ll be fitting a hand pump to our well-head for water during extended power outages.  (I stare at the pond now, this pale February light reducing the scene to white, gray, black, wondering how thick the ice is, how much chipping with an axe to reach the frigid liquid water.)

I record all these details in part because my wife and I spent half an hour yesterday watching clips of the new National Geographic series Doomsday Preppers, premiering next Tues., Feb. 7.  While the featured families and individuals carry their preparations to extremes most of us would not, it’s perfectly sensible to maintain a store of several days’ food and drinking water in case of power outages or local natural disasters.  Dried, canned and easy-to-prep foods if you have no means of cooking, rice and flour, beans and pasta if you do.

The harshness of local events in the past several months, like the drought in Texas, the severe tornadoes in the Midwest, and hurricane Irene in the Northeast, have persuaded people in ways nothing else could to consider such preparations.  If heat isn’t under your control and you live in a temperate (read “cold”) zone, it’s wise to have a fall-back plan.  Ditto for cooling, if your home otherwise bakes in the summer.  You don’t have to expect “the end of the world as we know it” to use (as my grandmother liked to say) — “the good sense God gave gravel.”

While much is made of Americans’ dependence on electricity and foreign oil, most of us learn pretty quickly, if we have to, how to make do with wind, water, wood and fire.  If you grew up in a small town,  attended a summer camp, went hiking or just stayed up overnight outside a house, you have a preliminary sense of your abilities and tolerances in the natural world.  It’s useful to know these, and build on them.  That old sense of self-reliance that’s part of the story we tell ourselves about the “American character” is a good place to begin.  And for you readers from other parts of the world, consider the equivalents in your cultures.  Make it a game, especially if you have young kids.   Think through your options in emergencies and disasters, and if they feel too constraining, work to expand them.  We live in such varied circumstances, so no one solution will work for everybody.  And that’s as it should be.

Come September, my wife and I will be back in CT, in school housing, with different contingency plans to consider.

A weekend’s reflection and planning will pay off down the road, even if they simply get you through the next minor “inconvenience” more smoothly.  As the inconvenience increases, so will the payoff.  Live long enough and you know from personal experience that John Lennon spoke true: life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

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