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This week has been defined for me with conversations I’ve had with various grove members about hospitality, about frith, about community, about relationships.

Our annual attendance at the Lunasa retreat has fallen through (as has the retreat as a whole), and so we find ourselves without this weekend to spend deepening the bonds we share as a group. As well, there have been “conversations”, or at least, I should say, I’ve been praying a lot. Lighting a lot of candles, burning a lot of incense. Not a lot of formal prayers, but more spontaneous, extemporaneous praying, as though I’m having a conversation with these beings that surround me.

This week’s rune draw was done specifically in relation to some of the feelings I’ve been having surrounding deity relationships and other spirit relationships. Mostly to try to figure out what a particular deity has been hanging around for, and what they would like from me. I drew:

  • Ur: The aurochs – strength, stamina, stubbornness, a test of strength
  • Gyfu: The gift – reciprocity, hospitality, relationships, *ghosti
  • Eh: The horse – partnership, working together to achieve a goal, a strong ally

Gyfu is a rune that has been drawn for me a lot with regards to my clergy work and clergy training. It often has the connotation that I need to be in right relationship with my grove, with the spirits and beings I honor and worship, and with the world.

Honestly, I see in this reading a mirror for my clergy training in general – it is a test of strength, and a test of my stubbornness to see it through and finish it, so that I can give my gifts in service to the gods, the folk, and the land. And to do it, I will need the partnership and allies that I have gathered around me.

An inspiring reading to get, honestly, and one that makes me think that perhaps a certain Person who has been nudging at my brain is attempting to kick me in the metaphorical butt, to get me working on more than just this course. I have the time right now to do so, though I am unsure of which course to pick “next”. They’ll all require a good bit of reading, and for me to dig out my books from storage, but that’s alright. I need a bookshelf anyway.

Or rather, not meditating enough, but the attempt was made. In the past, I’ve done mostly mindfulness meditation, but I’ve also been reading up on what John Michael Greer calls discursive meditation, which is something like “thoughtful, focused meditation on a particular subject”.

In particular, I’ve been working a few bits from the blogger Hecate’s guided meditations for her Magical Battle of America. I know it’d be smarter probably to work on something with the Earth Mother, or the Gatekeeper, but this was on my mind this week, so I’ve decided to run with it. After all, ADF has a long history of activism, and Hecate’s posts are about the magical guardians and mental constructs that are particularly strongly rooted in the American consciousness.

I’m not sure it was particularly fruitful discourse, but I did at least DO it, so that’s a good start.

On Wednesday, I did some divination – just a simple three rune pull like I’ve been doing recently. I’ve been feeling called to do more divination in general, so I’m trying to make sure I do at least a quick rune pull once a week for myself. I drew the following runes:

  • Ac – the acorn: adequate resources, resourcefulness
  • Eolh – the elk-sedge: active protection, careful boundaries
  • Lagu – the sea: trepidation, uncertainty – could mean bounty, could also mean storms

I’ll be honest, I had some trouble interpreting this. In general, I read Ac positively, and Eolh as well, though Lagu is often a bit of a mixed blessing. I didn’t ask a specific question, just for “guidance”, so I guess that’s partially my own fault. That said, if I tried to make a sentence or coherent statement out of it, it would be “You will have adequate resources to meet the situation, but will need to be careful of your boundaries and possibly strive to be resourceful with what you have – the outcome is in flux, but the reward for success could be very great.”

We’ll see how that plays out in the next week.

It struck me this morning that I’ve never talked about (or sent readers to) the craftswoman I buy a good portion of my devotional items from. She’s made a number of things throughout the years (my prayer bead addiction was not helped by the time she spent making hand-beaded things).

Right now her shop is smaller – she’s recovering from some tough financial times and crafting requires a lot of overhead/upfront costs – but I think the items she makes are absolutely worth looking at.

The order I received this morning was for handmade charcoal incense.  I purchased it in three scents:

  • Queen of Heaven: jasmine, amber, spikenard, myrrh – for Frige
  • Dweller in the Green: juniper, fir, cedar, patchouli – for Ing Frea
  • Memento Mori: galangal, myrrh, amber, black pepper – for Hela

They smell *wonderful*, are long burning, and have been (in various incarnations) part of my ritual practice for years. Beth’s original incense blends were deity specific, but the burden of keeping up with SO MANY blends eventually made that unsustainable. She has blends now that are more “function” specific.

Beth relies on her shop profits to keep her household running, and I cannot recommend her service highly enough. Her prayer beads are wonderful – the energy of them is just fantastic, and they are very well made and sturdy. Also, the tea light candles that she dresses are perfect little portable devotional items, and they smell wonderful. She does still do custom items and prayer beads as well, and I’ve been super happy with both her willingness to work on ideas for us coming up with the perfect item and with her intuition as she creates the items.

I’m always a fan of supporting pagan crafters, and I’ve been a long-term customer of Beth’s. If you see something you like in her shop, I can’t recommend her highly enough.

This week (or next week) marks the half-way point of my journaling for Liturgy Practicum 1. My first entry was for the week of 13 June, which was 8 weeks ago. The journal has to be for four months, so the week of 13 October should be my last “official” recorded week.

Though like with many practices in ADF, the journaling is supposed to be the beginning or the documentation, not the culmination of the practice. I’ve created practices with this work that I hope will stick with me, but I’ll admit to being a little discouraged at how “simple” my practice is. I make offerings at my altar most days, to the Kindreds, to the Eorthan Modor, and to Eostre. I make offerings at my hearth most days, to my house spirits (who seem very fond of oatmeal, so I’ve been eating that for breakfast more). I am rekindling my deity practices – my prayer beads are on my altar, and I’ve been developing a series of prayers to say with them. (Look for those in a future week.)

But it doesn’t feel like it’s “enough”.

And, of course, the next thing I think of is Rev. Jan Avende’s song “All Things are Sacred

You should know that all things can be offered.
You should know that all things are sacred.
You should know that you’ve given the best
Of yourself
And it’s enough.

This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I worry that I’m going to turn in this journal, and it’s going to be deemed “too simple” or “too basic”. That this practice that I’m developing will not be enough. But I’ve always set expectations for myself that are unrealistic, and finding the balance of “this practice is meaningful” and “this practice shows enough regular devotion to warrant my place in the CTP” is something I knew from the get-go that I would struggle with.

I can think of many things that I’d like to be able to say my practice includes. Some of those things – like regular meditation – are things I’ve done in the past and can likely do again. (In fact, I’d argue that I’ll absolutely HAVE to start doing regular meditation again before I can get my Trance and Magic work done.) Other things? Like a full Core Order ritual every day? They just seem utterly unreachable – whether because I don’t have the time or because I just don’t have the willpower to set up that kind of a devotional habit (which I know those of you with small children at home will just laugh at, but we each have our own struggles).

Self doubt is a part of any practice though, and I know this. Today it seems huge, and so, in response, I’m going to go and sit my butt on a cushion and just be for awhile. Just breathe. After all, that’s why they call it “practice” right? You have to take the time to get good at it.

The Birth of UPG

Decided to take the advice of a friend (regarding my current deity quandary), and make a special offering to Frige. After all, as associated as She is with Divine Queenship, She’s gotta be familiar with the whole divorce thing? Germanic women could (and did) get divorced. And it’s not like I’m not still industriously running a household, it’s just a household of one (plus two cats) and all my responsibilities to my extended family and grove.

When I offer things, I typically like to share them, and it’s been the kind of day that’s called for white sangria, so I made a glass for me, and a glass for Her. I took some time on my lunch break to just sit and share it in silence, in a quiet apartment which is darkened by shades but clearly fighting off the summer heat (the heat index here today is 113F).

I can not shake the immediate feeling that she is very pleased with this offering (which has peaches and strawberries in it, and is very good for a hot summer day). I have it sitting on my altar, and every time I walk by, I get the good tinglies on the back of my neck.

Thus is born new UPG, I guess?

***

White Sangria for Two

  • 1 oz vodka (peach is nice, plain is fine)
  • 1 oz orange liquor
  • 3 oz white zinfandel
  • 3 oz cranberry juice cocktail (I don’t actually measure this)
  • sliced strawberries and peaches (can be frozen)
  • 2 glasses with lots of ice

Mix all ingredients except fruit in a cocktail shaker. Shake gently with ice, then pour into glasses filled with ice and fruit. Serves 2.

I’ve started and stopped this post three or four times today, so I’m going to give it one more go and see how it turns out. If it’s terrible, I’ll just delete back to this point and say “yup, still trying to do this stuff” and post it.

So I’ve been in this rebuilding phase, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. I’ve done some magical work, plus some ritual work, and all told I feel like I’m a little better grounded than I have been in awhile. (Which is good, because this is week seven of practice, and I only have to journal for four months, so it’d be a real shame if I got through all four months and never figured out my practice.)

This week was my lunar retreat week, and I got the following runes:

  • Eoh – the Yew: something reliable, but that is easily overlooked. (All that is gold does not glitter)
  • Mann – Man/Mankind/Humanity: Community, other people, support and strength in numbers, relationships (can be positive or negative)
  • Rad – the Journey: the journey is always hardest when you’re actually doing it, and seems easy to the people who are not actually there with you

I haven’t put them in my spreadsheet yet, but I’m feeling like they’re pretty pertinent to where I am on this spiritual journey right now. I do know that my tribe has been a huge source of strength, and that this does feel like a journey.

Part of me wonders if the overlooked part of this has been my relationship with my gods – while I’ve done some small things for them, I haven’t been nearly as connected as I was in the past. Some of this is due to not really knowing how my relationship with them will continue to work, especially Frige. As a goddess of hearth and home, it’s weird to be living in an apartment I don’t own, as well as to be in the process of getting divorced. It’s an odd dichotomy to the life I used to live, and I’m finding that I don’t know how to relate to her like I did when I was “running a home”. (Even though I still work from home, it doesn’t feel the same as it did when I was more domestically focused.)

Same goes, to some extent, for Ing-Frea, though he has seemed closer lately. Without my garden, it’s harder to connect to the earth (and I’m on the third floor, so pots on the porch are literally the best I can do). He was the first deity to “knock on my door”, so to speak, and so it’s always easy to just lay things out for him, but it doesn’t feel the same after all that I’ve been through.

My relationship with Hela has been very much an as-needed one, unlike the other two, and I have not felt called to her work so much lately – which is odd, as you would think she would welcome this level of life transformation. But the connection is not really there either.

The change doesn’t seem to be on *their* parts so much as it is on mine though, hence my thinking this is the part of my practice that I’ve overlooked. Hopefully I can begin working on that over the next few weeks, add some meditation back into my weekly routine, and see whether those relationships are going to continue or if that aspect of my life is going to change again.

Midsummer happened this week, and though I haven’t celebrated with the grove yet, I did a small private celebration on my own.

Tropical Storm Cindy prevented anyone in my general vicinity from watching the sunset or sunrise on the solstice, but I marked both this year, as well as lighting candles and enjoying a tasty beverage on my porch (a mojito, made with fresh mint that I grew myself). It was very windy, and very rainy, but I at least got to breathe the midsummer air.

I also harvested basil and made fresh pesto, which I ate over pasta with a bit of cooked chicken and every fresh vegetable I could get my hands on. It was delicious, and absolutely tasted of summer. I made a batch of lemon scones too, which while not truly a summer food, tasted fresh and delightful.

I did a short, improvised Core Order ritual on the solstice itself, thanking the Sun for her light and protection (the wards on my apartment are tied to the Sun and to my hearth fire), and making offerings for her on the rest of her journey. I also asked for extra blessings on my harvest – my vegetable container garden – and poured the blessing water over my plants.

Practicing druidry in a 3rd floor apartment is still a bit of a change sometimes – it would have been nice to have people over and grill a bunch of shrimp and veggies and maybe even some fruit for dessert, but with the weather this year that couldn’t have happened anyway. If, like me, you celebrated informally, here are a few other tips that you might use to plan your celebration.