Crow Queen

(no subject)

The black wings that are soft against my face are also razor sharp.  My losses this year are large, but my wounds were cleanly and sharply made, with no prolonged blood loss and were quickly cauterized.  I'm left with reawakened and redirected strength, sharpened focus and phantom itchings where those parts of my life used to be.  I am blessed by her favor.

A History of Pagan Europe

A History of Pagan Europe
by Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick
Published 1997 Routledge
ISBN 04-415-09136-5

     In this study, Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick pull together the fragments of Western Europe's native religious traditions into a comprehensive whole, arguing for a relativvely cohesive pre-Christian pagan world vision.  It has long been thought that the European native tradition had been totally obliterated.  This study argues that the tradition has continued to exist and grow more or less openly up to the present day where it is undergoing a resurgence and a restoration.
     The authors have used a three-fold definition of Paganism: polytheisitc, view of nature as a theophany and a recognition of a divine feminine principle.  Therefore, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are only mentioned in their relation to the manner in which Pagan traditions accepted or rejected them.  The study is divided by civilizations; Greek, Roman, Celtic, Germanic, the Baltics and Russia/Balkans.  The final chapter looks at the revival of Pagan traditions from with Gypsies in the mid-fourteenth century, the Inquisition/Witchcraft trials, the romantic English Bardic and Druidic societies through NeoPaganism.
     While examining the pre-Christian religious world views of the aforementioned civilizations, a number of similarities between the civilizations arise.

To be continued:
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Holy Day Recap

Samhain Recap

Date: 11/3/06

Location: Grove member’s backyard, Harrisville, Rhode Island

Leader of the Rite: A. Thompson

Grove Name: Oceans Tide

Number of Attendees: 8

Gatekeeper: Manannan

Deities/Patrons of the Occasion: Donn and Cailleach Baera

Omen Method: Ogham

Omen (as read with interpretation): Gorse, Oak, Hawthorn

The interpretation was that there might be some petty issues within the group, but the group has a very strong foundation and a strong internal relationship. As long as the strengths and the good relationship within the group are kept in mind, the changes and small issues that arise within the group can easily be overcome.

Magical Workings/Oaths Given: No oaths were given that I can recall. However, there were many praise offerings to the ancestors and to personal deities. There were several offerings to the Nature Kindreds. There were also four meditations, singing and other offerings throughout the course of the ritual.

General Impressions/Comments/Notes: This was the first time I had attended and ADF group ritual in over ten years. It lasted for approximately an hour. It was held outside with the attendees gathered around a fire. It was a clear night with the moon almost full and the backyard was right up against the woods. I had received a copy of the ritual about two weeks beforehand, so I knew how the ritual was going to proceed and I was able to learn some of the songs from the ADF website. As I’m not a member of the Grove, I didn’t have a speaking part, but I did bring a sacrifice to my patron, the Morrigan. I also brought the offerings for the ancestors; pork, apples and hazelnuts.

     The structure of the ritual was very formal (as compared to Wiccan rituals that I have attended); it had many speaking parts, singing, offerings and four meditations throughout the ritual. Everything seemed to run very smoothly. A great deal of the ritual had been memorized, but there was a little bit of reading. Everyone knew all the songs. There was a high level of comfort among the members; that in turn made me feel very comfortable. The meditations were powerful, especially the Two Powers meditation where I could feel my roots connected to the others’. The other three meditations were designed to keep the focus of the group to the rite and this was very effective. Along with the singing and many offerings, I felt that those we had invited/invoked were truly there.

     Although I had received a copy of the ritual, I decided not to bring it to the rite. I wanted to experience the rite without trying to follow it with the script. While I can’t remember some of the particulars without looking at the script, I walked away from the ritual with the sense that the deities and kindred had been honored as they wished (to the best of the Grove’s modern abilities). After many years of Wiccan rituals with invocations to a general god/goddess, I felt that by naming and offering to the deities and kindreds that we had strengthened the relationships to them – and we were made stronger in our spiritual paths because of this rite.


Home Shrine

Home Shrine Phase One 

Pre-ADF
It's part Wiccan and part Celtic Hearth Culture.  It faces the north and the four directions are represented on it.  The North contains a rock with a spiral painted on it, a honeycomb and my Book of Shadows.  The East contains the Flame of Brighid and a Raven's feather.  The South has an incense holder and the West holds my drinking horn and a spiral shell fossil.  I have several representations of the Raven around the altar; these are symbols of my patron, the Morrigan.  The deities are presented by tapers; a green one for the Dagda and a red one for the Morrigan.  The decorations around the tapers change with the season; currently they are fall leaves and twigs.
     In the West is a small resin skull decorated with Celtic spirals and knotwork.  I've put it in the West because the Celts revered the head as the residence of the soul and the soul was thought to move into the lands of the West when it passed.  In the south east is a crescent-shaped, double-bladed knife.  It was a gift from my sister many years ago, but I've yet to use it.  The remaining items are a small jar containing salt and water and a tray with three candles: white for spirit, brown for the mother and black for knowledge.
     For a number of years prior to ADF, while the altar changed, I only used it for devotional candles and occasionally ritual. Since recently joining ADF, I've given my First Oath at it and work on meditations there.  During the First Oath Rite, I used the colored column pillars; white for the Gods, brown for the Nature Kindreds and black for the Ancestors.  I may continue to use them this way in the future.


High Holy Day Essays

Samhain High Holy Day Essay


Celtic Background:
  In Celtic hearth culture, the year began with its dark winter half when the Earth rested and fertility was renewed.  Samhain, the Celtic festival of the dead is thought to have marked the start of winter.  The breeding livestock were brought into closer pastures; the rest were slaughtered and either preserved for winter food supplies or eaten during Samhain feasting.  The last of the crops would have been brought in at this time; it was often forbidden to touch any remaining crops after Samhain had passed.  Most sources say Samhain was celebrated on the eve of a day corresponding to the current November 1st; the Celts using a sunset to sunset measurement of days.  Other sources, such as the Irish tale, ‘The Wasting Sickness of Cuchulainn’, state that Samhain festivals were celebrated for a total of seven days – three days before, the day of and three days after.

            The Celts believed that at Samhain, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living.  At Samhain, the souls of the dead from the past year traveled to the underworld.  It was a suspension of time with the barrier between the physical world and the otherworld being very thin.  This suspension extended to the laws of society and many forms of normally unacceptable or boisterous behavior was indulged.  Mostly Samhain was a pastoral festival held to assist the tribe’s fertility, to honor the ancestors, to repay the gods for a bountiful harvest and to provide protection against evil forces.  People gathered to sacrifice crops and animals with portions given to the lord or chieftain and to the deities of the land. 

            Bonfires were also lit during this festival in honor of the dead; to aid them on their way and to keep them away from the living.  Samhain traditionally involved rituals of divination.  People believed they would receive supernatural aid or otherworldly knowledge at this time.  Some divinatory rituals have survived to this day, such as ‘bobbing for apples’.

            Certain sacred sites in Ireland are known to have been used during the celebration of Samhain.  The Hill of Ward or ‘Tlachtga’ near Athboy in County Meath is a prehistoric ringfort.  Legends say that druids gathered there to light huge fires as a signal that Samhain festivities were to begin.  At the Hill of Tara, also in County Meath, there was a Feis Teamhrach of Feast of Tara which medieval manuscripts say was held there three days before and three days after Samhain.  Assemblies of the five Irish provinces met here and the festivities were marked by horse races, fairs, assembly rites and political discussions.

 

Personal:  Samhain or Halloween has been my favorite holiday since early childhood, long before I became pagan.  Early on, it was the arrival of autumn; the cold weather, fun times in the falling leaves, apples, and pumpkins, dressing up in costumes and getting candy.  Decorating my home for the holiday, carving pumpkins, watching treasured Halloween programs and eating LOTS of candy is still part of my secular tradition today.

            I always know when autumn is on the way – sometimes as early as mid August – because there is a certain smell of summer vegetation beginning to die back.  Then I start thinking about, preparing for, and getting excited about Samhain.  I’ve been pagan for many years and while I’ve done Samhain rituals solitary, I’ve mostly celebrated Samhain with others.  While I always have ritual, there are a few things that I especially do for Samhain:

·        arrange for the day off from work

·        go to the local state forest to take a walk and spend some time in meditation, especially in pathworking

·        prepare a big meal with some specific autumn-type foods; pork, apples and squash are a few.  I set out a dumb supper for the ancestors and for any specific person who has passed since the previous Samhain

·        make extra praise offerings to my patron deities

Samhain is the most important holiday and the most important time of the year for me.  I feel the turn toward winter at this point as well as a turn to a fresh start in my life.  This ‘suspension of time’ is a juxtaposition of endings and beginnings.  Feeling the excitement of the new year, I’m energized to finish old projects, begin new ones and to renew my commitment to my deities and to my spiritual path.