Category Archives: Druidry

Accept Our Offerings

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When something really special happens, I usually make offerings. I wouldn’t call it superstition, I would call it thankfulness. To some people, ADF is a North American phenomenon, an American phenomenon. It really is much more. The desire and ability to reach out to our members wherever they may be has been a foundation of my practice as Archdruid.

Part of Isaac’s Vision is to have indoor temples/sacred groves throughout North America and Europe. I saw in Australia two years ago and in Brazil last year that ADF has not only members, but places of worship in more than just those two continents. In fact, ADF has members on six continents, with Groves and Protogroves on four of those six continents. We are not just an American phenomenon.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to Ordain our first Canadian priest coming out of our new Clergy Training Program. Our Clergy once again extended past the boundaries of the United States and we Ordained a remarkable priest by the name of Rev. Lisa Wasilkowsky Malik. This Training Program is also a part of Isaac’s Vison, namely to create a professional clergy training program equal in difficulty and superior in results to anything done by the world’s other religions. We like to believe that the program is demanding and more importantly, that it is verifiable.

Just this month, ADF passed a milestone: we approved our first European priest, Rev. Elizabeth (Ellie) Schibli-Lazzaro, our European Regional Druid and the leader of one of our German Protogroves, Adrana ProtoHain. Ellie has worked hard on a program that is not in her native language and has done exceptionally well. She has helped to translate a number of ADF documents and pages into German. This is not an insignificant event.

Our founder, Isaac Bonewits, had envisioned the global reach of ADF. The ordination at Three Rivers festival in Canada last year and this ordination in Germany demonstrates that ADF has an appeal abroad. It shows that our belief in reciprocity and our virtues strike  a chord with people everywhere.

It is one thing to start a Grove or a Protogrove in ADF. People who run these organizations spend a lot of time in planning, reporting, and executing the necessary functions of these groups. Ritual planning is not trivial, getting the word out to nearby individuals is not always easy, and introducing a concept like ADF to individuals in a different country or another continent takes a certain amount of vision, which just happens to be one of our virtues.

As part of their ordination package, we require applicants to send us a video of them doing a full Core Order of Ritual rite, which is the standard presentation for ADF Druids, especially for High Days. For all of our previous ordination candidates, the rituals were presented to us in English. Since Ellie is German, I asked her to present her ordination video in German, because I wanted us to see exactly what her protogrove members see when she does ritual. Ellie presented us a video in German, with an accompanying translation so that we could follow along. It was a powerful experience to see the Core Order of Ritual expertly performed in a foreign language. I have been fortunate enough to have had this experience in Brazil last year, but in this way, all of the Clergy Council officers were able to see this event for themselves. It really brought home the understanding that we have moved far from our own borders and boundaries into a new world, an expansion of the vision that we all follow.

I will be ordaining Ellie in June in Germany. I look forward to this opportunity to expand our clergy onto a new continent and I am hopeful that this will encourage others, not only In North America and Europe to seek the Clergy, but also in Australia, South America, Africa, and Asia to expand the vision even further. Assuredly, people do not need to be priests to expand the vision of international practice, but in order to fulfill the “create a professional clergy training program equal in difficulty and superior in results to anything done by the world’s other religions”, they do.

I am proud of all of our priests and for the work that they have done and continue to do, but I am especially proud of our newest priest for expanding our practice across an ocean, across a linguistic divide, and into a new paradigm and understanding. I am proud of Ellie for being such a pioneer.

ADF gained a new priest just now, but, in another way, we grew up a little today, and it feels like a new day. To all of those, human, Ancestor, Spirit of Nature, Shining Ones, and Earth Mother, for this blessing, Accept Our Offering.

Tinne

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There is an ogham called “Tinne” that is associated with the Holly tree in the Colin Murray system. This ogham is located right in the middle of the fifteen ogham consonants: B-L-F-S-N-H-D-T-C-Q-M-G-nG-Z-R. For this reason, I always tend to associate Tinne with a balance point, a place right in the middle, a location in between.

The equinoxes are a “Tinne” type of event for me. The days and nights are balance across the equator, and I like to believe that there is this fine line, this separate moment at which point all is in balance and then the world either moves towards longer days or longer nights. Wait! It happens at the same time! In addition, as one side moves to greater light and one side moves to greater night, it is done so in balance.

The concept of the Wheel of the Year, while valid for a given location doesn’t really seem valid on a global sense. We see the world through a very local lens, but, as modern pagans, we must be cognizant of a more global view. We may have our local Earth Mothers – as our ancestors did – but the Earth Mother extends everywhere. The famous image of the view of the Earth from the Moon really drove this point home. Our Earth is a world in motion.

Since the world is in motion, I do not believe that a two-dimensional wheel properly describes the scenario of the seasons. It isn’t just the calendar dates that move; the winds move over the surface of our world; the seasons express themselves in varying and different ways through the crust of the Earth; the waters that travel the surface of our world are always in motion, such as rivers and streams and ocean currents; the still waters, be they lake or pond or bog are also in flux due to evaporation. The waters deep in the Earth, the underground waters that flow as the lifeblood of the Earth Mother, past the Ancestors, through the caverns deep in the Earth, are constantly in motion. The molten core of the Earth is also in motion and moves to points of expression throughout the surface of our world.

I am not sure how one would describe this kind of motion, but it isn’t a simple spin of a wheel. It is more like perpetual motion with intent and spirit behind it. It is motion that expresses itself in many ways and in many directions yet, when matched against the calendar, this constancy of motion does move in a linear path through the year with opposite events set apart across the equator. As the days get longer, the nights get equally longer on the other side of the equator until the Sun seems to stop on the Solstices and the motion turns around. The days and nights then move towards a balance which is achieved at the equinoxes and then the cycles continue. Here we have the movement of the various streams over, on, and under the Earth set upon a backdrop of the Earth’s own movement through the solar system.

Tinne is the balance point. I like to think that for one brief and fleeting moment, all of the Earth and the seasons are balanced like a cosmic dance which never ends, is always in motion, and pauses just ever so slightly, when music and motion and constancy stop only to enter into motion once again.

 

 

Imbolc in Texas Hill Country

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My festival season is most of the year. I attend festivals representing ADF from February through November and it is a task I gladly undertake and enjoy. This year, I looked forward to attending, once again, Hearthstone Grove’s Texas Imbolc Retreat, held at the U-Bar-U Ranch in the Texas Hill Country near Kerrville.

I flew into San Antonio because it is the closest airport to Texas Imbolc and it is a smaller, cozier airport. I landed, picked up a rental car, and headed out on the road. I arrived at the turnoff a little over an hour later and the journey began.

The road to the U-Bar-U is very, very hilly and some parts must be taken with caution. Going down these roads too quickly would cause a person to bottom out and to most likely incur some damages along the way. I took my time, I watched the scenery, and I slowly started to relax into the serenity of the land.

This view outside of my window was dry and arid, with many rocks and goats and gnarled trees along the way. The spaces between places were wide and vast and almost empty. I followed the road until it ended and then took a left turn. I followed the slow, rocky path to the U-Bar-U ranch and my adventure began.

When I first attended this festival – five years ago, I believe – there was no bunkhouse. There were two large rooms with bunk beds in the lodge proper and everybody slept in one or the other. It was very “cozy”, but not very private.  Two years ago, a new bunkhouse opened that is just beautiful and that has modern facilities and fewer people per room than before. The design of the bunkhouses is such that it blends fairly well with the local scenery and is in no way an eyesore.

The first thing I always notice upon arrive is the stillness of the land. There is often a breeze that blows, but it is more like a whisper than a shout. There is a beautiful stone fire pit and there was already a fire burning when I arrived. I was greeted warmly upon arrival – as always and as everyone is.

I saw many familiar faces: the Hearthstone Grove, the Nine Waves Grove, and the Blackland Prairie Protogrove, even the faces of the U-Bar-U staff were familiar. I saw John Beckett, ADF members, mystic Old Testament Christians, Wiccans, heathens, and a wonderful cross-section of folks and friends. While this is distinctly an ADF festival, it really is a lot broader than just that. Or perhaps ADF is broader than just that.

The opening rite was a great way to start a festival. Nine Waves Grove gave us a ritual to remember: well executed, effective, and welcoming. I was very impressed. It was a good omen for the weekend to come.There was a really interesting and beautiful Slavic Ritual that wasn’t ADF Core Order, but it was it was nice to see something quite different from what I have experienced before. At one point in the ritual, an apple was passed from person-to-person, touched to the next person’s forehead, and then passed along. I thought that was a gentle way to share a sense of community.

This was the story of the weekend. An easy information flow from presenter to audience with a sincere desire to inform, to entertain, and to help. The food was good, the company was better, the weather was so pleasant, and people came together and shared. Isn’t this what festival is about? The original festival movement in the latter part of the previous century was centered around the exchange of information and the joyful discovery that there were other people out there that not only had the same interests as other people, but a similarity of practice as well. This weekend was no exception.

One of the other benefits of the weekend was for people to meet face-to-face to talk. While this is not always possible, this is an ideal way to exchange thoughts and ideas that reduces the chance of misunderstanding and increases the possibilities of really communicating. It makes a difference when a person can see the other person and I hope that such encounters can continue at the U-Bar-U for years to come and that these events, more and more, can either be videotaped or broadcast live to people who did not have the ability to attend.

The Core Order of Ritual was the structure used for the opening, main, and closing rituals. As I have noticed time and time again, the Core Order is broad enough to allow people from different traditions to worship together while allowing room for individual expression and tailoring, especially in the personal offering and workings section of the ritual. The Pre-Ritual Briefing remains a powerful tool in helping people to know what to expect and to understand any local variations that might occur.

I want to thank everyone who attended for their attentiveness in the workshops, rituals, and general times of sharing. The weekend passed by all too quickly with a minimal amount of drama and a great deal of understanding and patience.

I spent a lot of times outdoors at this festival, relishing the beautiful weather and the land that made me feel timeless. The liminal times of the day were so still and so powerful, with that slight breeze blowing, the sound of wind through branches, and a brilliant dawn and dusk. The Full Moon was a beautiful gift to a peaceful sky, out amidst the stones and the trees. Venus shone like a bright beacon and it slid slowly towards the horizon as the night overtook the remnants of the day.

I stood outside and I listened. I closed my eyes and let the Sun dance on my face and the breeze tell me stories that it had told before, would tell again, and would re-tell, even if no one was there to hear. The Hill Country moved slowly through time, and I moved slowly through them both, as though my life was Tai Chi and my religion was that dance. I felt as though I could be a tree under that sky. I would open my soul and be like a rock or a goat or better yet, a tree. The wind from the West would tell tales. And I would listen.

 

 

 

Beltaine Blessings from Brazil, Part II

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We gathered together for our Brazilian Beltaine Celebration on a quiet morning during the first weekend of November. We drove to a city park in Curitiba and grabbed our gear and began our walk to the celebration area. I was told that this particular park was off the beaten path and that the area was fairly primitive. The walk through the park was very quiet and the striking beauty of the trees and the silence of the morning were a powerful counterbalance to the work that was to be done.

Upon arriving at the location, we were asked to gather whatever firewood we could find and to clean up any garbage that had been left by previous visitors. I thought this was an excellent idea to not only gather what was necessary, but to start our work by making the area better than it had been left to us.

The first thing that I noticed was the sound of a small, rushing stream. I walked over to the border of the area where we were setting up and there was this narrow but rapidly moving stream. It sounded so melodious and, with the absence of many urban sounds, it was the one thing that I heard at the edge of my consciousness. I walked over to it and watched in wonder as it made its way past us and onwards to a larger and perhaps wider purpose.

I was given a beautiful white tunic to wear and it really put me in the ritual mood. As we gathered brush and picked up stray things here and there, it felt as though I was quietly spiraling in towards the ritual mind set that we so often look for. We were joined by several more members of Fine na Dairbre until we had all of the members of the Protogrove, including Shaz Cairns, the Asia-Pacific Regional Druid, and myself. The surrounding natural are now cleaned, the efforts were now focused on clearing out the fire pit, which was the center of the ritual experience. Ample wood was gathered and stacked to last for the entire ritual and mention was made that everything that wasn’t used was to be returned to the Earth.

offerings-curitiba

At the very beginning of the rite, we were instructed to go out into the ritual field and find a place to center ourselves and to commune with our spirit guides and animals. I had never heard this expressed in quite this way and it was an great experience for me. Ever since I had arrived in Brazil, I kept coming across ants, formida, at just about every place I looked in nature. When I was just about to close my eyes to center myself, I looked down, and I saw an ant sitting on me. It then struck me that the reason they had seemed so ubiquitous was that they were trying to give me a message – they were now one of my Spirit Animals. Then, as I closed my eyes and let my conscious self sink into the sounds of the location, I once again heard a very familiar and insistent sound – that of the nearby stream. I questioned myself: could a spirit guide be something other than an animal of some sort or an insect? Could it be the movement of something like water? Upon reflection, the answer was given to me: yes. I discovered, along with my ants friends, that moving water, such as in a stream, was also a spirit guide. Here, on the other side of the equator, I discovered a new spirit guide and one that had been with me for a very long time. I felt very fortunate and gave thanks to my totems and the spirits of the place.

The ritual began with an acknowledgement of the Outsiders. Two of the ritual participants went to their designated location for Outsider offerings and the made acknowledgements and left offerings for the Outsiders. Next, everyone was welcomed and the purpose of the ritual was discussed. It was really interesting to listen to the Portuguese parts of the ritual because Portuguese is a very melodic and lyrical language and the sounds seemed so very much in harmony with the surrounding that we were in. Next came the purification, and this was a real treat.

Purification was done in two steps: with fire and with water. Purification by fire was done with a stick or branch that had a type of cloths wrapped around the end and for each person, the branch was lit and the fire was waved near the head, for purification of thought, near the chest, for purification of the heart, and near the solar plexus, for purification of the soul. Purification by water was done by the presentation of a bowl of water, and each person dipped their fingers into the water and then anointed their head, the heart, and the soul (as in solar plexus). The repetitive nature of the blessings in Portuguese was not only soothing but also had a compelling rhythm to the words.

One of the features of the Fine na Dairbre ritual was the use of an amphora to a) call the spirit of the Earth Mother into; and b) to use later on for the sake of the omen (using an open system of divination). The amphora was filled with herbs, if I remember correctly, and with red wine. The Spirit of the Earth Mother was honoured and welcomed into this vessel and the amphora was placed onto the altar.

Bardic Inspiration was called and my recollection was of the silence of the area punctuated by the meanderings of the stream, as if the Nature Spirits had the last word in the matter. The Hallows were called to and offered to and the gates were opened with the help of Manannan mac Lir. We had done a previous rite to Manannan mac Lir earlier in the week, and with our numerous visits to the ocean, Manannan mac Lir seemed very close at hand. Offerings were then made to the Kindreds – the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones – and I remembered observing with glee and reverence that when the Nature Spirits were called, two dogs came out of the forest and stood near us as the rite progressed. The Nature Spirits were called; the Nature Spirits arrived.

tree-curitiba

The deity of the occasion for Beltaine was An Dagda and his offering was a meat porridge which was deemed an appropriate gift for this deity. The pot of porridge was held aloft and the offering was made upon the ground. Once the Dagda was called into the rite, individual offerings were added by each person in attendance and  I have to admit that I enjoyed watching each and every individual make offerings and listening to their prayers in Portuguese. For me, it was if the individual words disappeared and the offerings that fell from each person’s lips were sweet songs that painted the rite in such resplendent colours that the area seemed to glow with music. During these offerings, I noticed that one of the Nature Spirits had come over and was enjoying the Dagda’s porridge that was set upon the ground and I looked at the other Nature Spirit and I noticed that she must have just had pups – they had previously made their own offerings to the Earth Mother and we were blessed, celebrants and Kindreds, communing together. After the Dagda’s feast was consumed, the two Nature Spirits lay on the grass and eventually went to sleep. In this way, these sacrifices had been accepted.

post-offerings

The Prayer of Sacrifice was offered and then it was time for the omen. This is where the amphora and an open system of reading was used. The amphora, filled with wine and the spirit of the Earth Mother, was put into the fire as an offering. There was perhaps 250ml of wine in the vessel and once the wine heated to sufficient temperature, the wine overflowed onto the outside of the white amphora. The omen was read by looking at what the wine did on the vessel itself. Someone commented that the on one side of the amphora, it looked like the head of a wolf, a large black wolf and, lo and behold, a large black dog came out of the forest and walked around the area in which the Outsider offering had been placed. The person reading the omen decided that this was indeed a good omen and that the offerings had been accepted. A little while later, someone called to my attention that there were two ogham on the inside of the amphora and indeed there were. These two ogham are Ohn and Ur. In any event, I found these ogham to be benevolent signs and also concurred, albeit later, that the offerings had been accepted and that direction had been given by the Kindreds and An Dagda. We then feasted, with our canine Nature Spirits sharing a part of the feast, and we unwound the ritual as usual. All offerings not used were either poured upon the ground or offered to the fire so that nothing would remain. We would leave the area as we had found it, less some wood that we had gathered for the fire.

 

As we packed up and left, we walked the distance back to the gate, accompanied by our canine friends. They walked with us to the metal gate which served as the way in and the way out, and stayed behind as we walked back into the mundane world of the parking lot. I looked back to take in the beauty of the park again, and to say goodbye to our canine companions. I would be leaving Brazil the next day, and I was sad to leave this behind.

I apologise for the long delay between Beltaine and this writing, but I have played the events of that trip, of that journey, of that day, over and over in my head and it remains a pivotal and important journey, not just because of the miles traveled or the people met and remembered and the beauty seen and experienced. It gave me a chance to see a different way of worshiping and the knowledge that I had found some other totem beings to help in my travels. I came away from Brazil with longing for rejoinder with that place and with those people, but I also felt that my understanding of the Earth Mother and especially the non-linear nature of Her way was to become much more important in how I looked at my Druidry and the world on both side of the Equator. More about that soon to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beltaine Blessings from Brazil, Part I

las-bruixas

The Blessings of the Earth Mother to one and all!

I was fortunate again this year to be able to celebrate both Samhain and Beltaine within the same week. It is so very interesting how different the world is just across a single divide. Having travelled between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres for two years now, I have come to believe and understand that there just isn’t Samhain and Beltaine, there is actually Samhain/Beltaine and the Earth Mother expresses herself as both seasons at the same time.

I still find myself looking out the window here, in North America, thinking about what I saw and experienced there, in South America. I surely will never forget the beauty of the incredible scenery, rich plant life, and beautiful ocean that was just within reach. The hospitality of my hosts, the members of Fine Na Dairbre Protogrove, was something I will cherish for a long, long time.

I vowed to visit members in Australia last year, which I did to coincide with the wonderful Mount Franklin Festival, and then this year to visit with our Brazilian members, at Fine Na Dairbre Protogrove. I wanted, first and foremost, to show people that ADF has many faces and that mine is one of them. I wanted people abroad to know that ADF is more than just the e-lists or the Facebook pages that bear the name “Ar nDraiocht Fein”. I wanted members to understand that we truly are an international organization, an international Druid Fellowship, and most of all, an international church.

While I know that some people dread the thought of a long airplane flight (14 hours LAX to Melbourne or 10 hours DFW to Sao Paolo), I have grown to view it as a rebirth in a way, from my old life in some airport in the United States to a new destination in a foreign land. Not only am I reborn into a new place, but I am reborn into a new season, a total 180 degree turn from where I was. It is probably the closest I will ever come to a Tardis.

I arrived in Sao Paolo (and eventually in Curitiba – pronounced Curichiba) rather unprepared. While I had spent time studying syntax and the history of the Portuguese language, I was totally unprepared for any conversation in this language. I am fluent in French and can understand and do fairly well in Spanish), but Portuguese not only is a very different language, it sounds very different. I loved listening to the lyrical and musical quality of this beautiful language, but when I first arrived, I couldn’t understand a word. I was lucky that my rather rusty Spanish was enough to get me to the right baggage area and then onto my next gate. This was all part of the rebirth-transition that was built into this trip. While I was never really able to hold a conversation in Portuguese, I did eventually arrive at the ability to understand parts of what people were saying.

After a long layover and a good amount of delicious coffee, I was on the flight to Curitiba and the welcome arms of my hosts, Marina, Alessio, and Erik. What better way to arrive any where than to find smiles, open arms, and warm hearts. I knew, upon arrival, that I was blessed. We drove back to Curitiba, rather speedily by my slower, North American standards, and I was feted with delicious food and intriguing conversations. Each of my hosts spoke English and I have vowed to learn Portuguese for my next trip back there. (Yes, I will go back; yes, I must go back).

Conversation quickly turn to ADF, not surprisingly, and I was asked what was next for ADF and I gave them a brief outline of my vision as an extension of Isaac’s Vision. A rather long discussion ensued and after a while I decided to return the favour and ask them what they thought about ADF – a totally opened ended question. I was about to learn a few things.

I was told that since we tell people that we are an international organization that we should act like one. Wow. While many of our members are from North America, we are experiencing growth in countries outside of North America. It is easy to forget that life goes on outside of our national boundaries, but it does. There are certain words and concepts that we use over and over again and we assume that everyone knows what they mean – this is not the case. Here,in some of our posts, we discuss political issues and often refer to liberals and conservatives, or left and right wings. These mean different things in different places and we need to learn to use these terms more wisely. In Australia, the Liberal Party is really the more conservative of a number of political parties and it is the Labour Party which is really more what we would call “liberal”. In Brazil, left-wing denotes communist or socialist and these terms may or may not be positive terms in the ears of the listeners. The concept of “Freedom of Speech” is not a universally observed. While we take it for granted and while people here often say whatever they may please because they feel they have the right to do so, this sometimes takes people abroad a little by surprise.

One suggestion that was made was to use ADF Discuss or the General Discussion ADF page to discuss general questions about ADF and not necessarily about politics or other issues that may not be of interest or germane to a foreign (or domestic) audience. While we may have pressing social issues here in America, those issues may be seen totally differently abroad or may be viewed in a broader manner such as poverty or environmental issues. I think it is important to remember context and immediacy. After all, 13% of our membership lives outside of the United States.

In speaking with one of the Protogrove members, I was surprised to discover that they had let their membership lapse.. When I questioned them about it, I was told that an ADF Priest had told them that if they didn’t believe in a particular way (and this was not about religion), that they shouldn’t renew their membership. To say that I was flabbergasted is an understatement. I explained to this newly-renewed member that just because this person is a priest, does not indicate that they speak for the membership or leadership of ADF. No one in leadership should ever tell another member not to renew because of a difference of opinion: we are orthopraxic and not orthodoxic – we won’t tell you what to believe. And, more importantly, we will never tell you not to renew. I would not consider that telling a person not to renew is a leadership statement from a priest. In fact, it is quite the opposite. As Archdruid and as a member of the Mother Grove, I apologized to them all for this particular incident.

Finally, I was told that the Dedicant Manual needs a definite revision and I tend to agree. I am going to run this proposal past the Mother Grove and the ADF Preceptor for comment. I have often told people that the Dedicant program is a series of 11 assignments packaged into one large submission. I think perhaps a review of the presentation and some of the verbiage might be in order.

Next in Part II: The Beltaine Rite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Spaces of Solace and Peace

In my old residence, I had altars in every room – a special place of blessings, set aside for the spirits and the Gods. I recently moved and many of the altars were packed up and set aside for redeployment in my new home. I had set up an altar for my Lares and this was the first altar I had set up in my new place.

 

It was interesting that while I still had a sense of my old Lares – my old household spirits – the whole Lares phenomenon felt keenly different. I spent a number of days trying to identify the difference and it finally struck me: the Lares that I was sensing in my new place were a combination of some of the old from my last place and some of the new, from the new home. This house has been in the same family for a hundred years so some of the spirits here are pretty well settled. I believe one or more of the Lares from my old place came along, but the sense I have is that the main spirit stayed behind, connected to the site and not necessarily linked to me. I guess this happens with such things. The new combination of Lares also feels protective, but in a more subtle way.

 

My new Lares altar has many of the components of the old one, yet differently arranged, and perhaps that made a difference. It is one of the funny things about moving – nothing ever seems to come back together in the same way.

 

I was speaking with a friend the other day and they said to me “Why don’t you set up some small places of solace and peace like you used to have?” I pondered it for several days and decided to set up some altars, not quite like my old ones, but similar enough. I set up an Ancestor Altar in the kitchen with the requisite offering vessel with offerings of alcohol and fire with a carving of the Earth Mother and a picture of my grandmother. It is in a quiet place in the kitchen and it radiates solace and peace.

 

In another room, I set up a small altar to Cernunnos. I have a wooden carved image of Cernunnos and I surrounded him with stones, a leaf, an image of a leaf, an ADF membership card signed by Fox, my ogham, an image of the Sun, and a globe which has the constellations on it. Land, sea, and sky are represented.

Cernunnos Altar

 

I decided to use some liminal spaces to create another small space of solace and peace. I found two images of the green man, a moss agate sphere on a small stand, and a small green obelisk. I put this in a corner of the stair case, right under the window shade, in a window that faces east. First light every day touches these green men and bless this liminal space that everyone walks by. To date, no one has noticed this altar, not even the cat, ever on patrol. I consider it a stealth altar.

Green Man Altar

I guess, at the end of the day, when one creates altars of solace and peace, the area surrounding them become places of solace and peace. I look forward to finding more places to honour the divinities in my home and in my world.

 

Two Oceans

 

I have been blessed.

In October, I was fortunate enough to visit the Southern Ocean, that vast expanse of water between Australia and Antarctica. I had wanted to visit that ocean ever since I heard of Adelaide and South Australia. While it was a dream of mine to see, that dream became a reality with my attendance at the Mount Franklin (Beltaine) Festival in October. The Mount Franklin Festival, nestled in an extinct volcano, was an opportunity to spend five days in the bosom of the Earth Mother. My journey to the Southern Ocean was an opportunity to experience the power and majesty of the Southern Ocean, as personified by Lir, the God of the Surrounding Sea.

Southern Ocean

As I stood by the ocean, I was amazed by the great sound and the powerful wind that came from that endless body of water. I carved a number of names and blessings in ogham on the beach, looking for the incoming tide to come and carry my blessings away, to activate them. The wind blew my hair back, thundered in my ears, and was an insistent and constant voice which shouted, sang, and defined that liminal world between water and shore. I walked up to what I considered a “safe zone” on the shore, where I was convinced I would not get my shoes wet. This “safe zone” was invaded immediately by an ocean with intent and with purpose. The ocean, the vast ocean, the ever-encircling ocean, is king here and it presence, both visually and audibly, was elemental and stunning. At one point, I took my shoes and socks off and stood in the waters, so that I could participate in the experience, directly, of that great ocean. It was cold; it was loud; it was forceful, all at once. My feet in the sand, the water touching my legs, and the sound of the surf anchored me in that moment. The water rushed in; the water rushed out, and the moment, THAT particular moment, was gone.

In November, I came to California and the Pacific Ocean to visit with friends and to attend a work conference. Once again, I was able to visit the ocean, this time, the Pacific Ocean at Santa Cruz. This was a much different ocean experience. The Southern Ocean was just coastline and ocean and really nothing in the way. The Pacific Ocean, on the other hand, was a shoreline, but a beach with piers and somewhat inland. The waves kept rolling in, but it seemed much more serene, much more pacified. Perhaps, that is why it is called the Pacific. I took off my shoes and socks and went once again into the water. I closed my eyes and listened. It was that same feel; it was that same sound; it was that same vibration. Gone was the thundering surf, because at this place, it was more serene. Gone was the wind blowing through my hair like a gale. Gone was the wind the blows from the bottom of the world.

Yet, believe it or not, this is the same interconnected body of water that I stepped in a world away, a continent away. This is the body of Lir and, while the lore may not support it, I am a firm believer in the all encircling ocean, be it Lir or be it Oceanos or be it Varuna. The Grand Ocean is really a different kind of being. The Earth Mother is beneath our feet on whatever continent we may stand. The Great Ocean, on the other hand, is always that interconnected body of water that surrounds each of the continents. Heraclitus stated “Panta rhei”, or all is in flux, which is often interpreted as “you never step into the same river twice”. Yet, when we walk into the ocean, it IS the same ocean, anywhere and everywhere. While the contents or flow of the waters may change from moment to moment, we step into the fundamentally same body of water, that living corpus of water that is Lir.

When we pollute the ocean, we pollute ALL of the ocean, because it is all one. When we allow plastics and trash to form huge proto-islands in the middle of the Pacific, we pollute ALL of the ocean, because it is all one. When we dump toxic waste into the ocean or when we overfish the ocean, we pollute or damage ALL of the ocean. Without the waters, we cannot survive, so while the Great Ocean, or Lir, may take a lot to seriously damage, it can be done. It is being done. There is a lot of water on this planet, nurturing the Earth Mother and nurturing ourselves. Yet, there is a limited amount of water and we know of the power of the ocean. If we take a telescope to Mars and see where a Great Ocean used to be, we know the damage that may be inflicted on a system as large as a planet by the evapouration of the ocean.

 

By stepping into that grand stream, into that living God, I became aware of one great truth and that is something I will never forget. Two oceans, three oceans, four oceans, more, regardless of the case, it is one living, expanding, extending, entity that I call Lir. He is old, he is all-surrounding, and he is still as vital as ever. Let us make sure to do our part to protect him by giving thanks, praise, and offerings, and by removing all the impurities that we can, whenever we can.