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Archive for the ‘Ogham’ Category

My winter solstice ritual was performed on Thursday December 20, in the mid-morning. It was a bright, beautifully sunny day, and so it seemed an appropriate time to welcome back the Sun. Ideally I’d perform this ritual at dawn, but at dawn I was taking a sick cat to the vet, so the best laid plans didn’t quite work out.

This was a solitary rite, following the full ADF COoR. For this ritual, I honored the Earth Mother in an unnamed aspect; the Gatekeeper was Cernunnos. Sulis was the primary patron(ess) of this rite. I brought the following offerings: silver for the well, cedar incense for the fire, candles and cinnamon incense for Sulis, and a bottle of good hard cider for the Kindreds (as I can not drink ale or whiskey). The ritual, being for Sulis, is loosely based in the Gaulish hearth culture.

I was very pleased with this ritual. I felt like I had more depth and understanding of the COOR, and though I mixed up some of the offerings, I feel like it was a successful rite. (I forgot to give the silver to the well when I created the cosmos, but I rectified that after I lit the fire!) I’m finding a more comfortable voice to speak my rituals in, and I felt that adding inflection and feeling to my voice added inflection and feeling to the ritual itself. My work with increasing connection helped as well, as I definitely felt the portal open when I asked Cernunnos to open the gates. I don’t know that I felt a strong presence from any particular Kindred, but I did feel like I was doing this ritual with the presence of other beings. I also was more familiar with this ritual, so I didn’t feel as much like I was “just” reading it. Some of that probably is helped by my having put my ritual text in a nice binder, so I have something to hold that isn’t just print outs.

Things I will not do in the future – I am a little unsure if I’ll do an offering that includes alcohol at 10am. Since I used the hard cider both for the offerings and as my drink for the blessings, it was a little odd to be drinking that early in the day. I think I’d have been happier with just plain good cider, and leave the hard stuff for afternoon rituals. I also started out the ritual feeling rather rushed for some reason (probably because I was doing the ritual on a day when I was also preparing for holiday travel). I noticed it around the point of the Two Powers meditation and was able to slow myself down and really feel the energy of the rite.

Omens Drawn

  • Uath (Hawthorn) – Fear, Despair, Cleansing, Challenges
  • Onn (Gorse) – Easy Travel, Wheel, Movement, Fertility
  • Ceirt (Apple) – The Otherworld, Shelter, Choice, Vision

You are going through a period of discovery, and fear comes with all new things. This period will be cleansing for you, can be easy if you don’t fight the process, and will lead to a time of great fertility. Through this process you will gain new vision and wisdom, and see things how they really are.

I’ll admit that drawing Hawthorn is a little unsettling, but I think it’s fitting to the challenges that any new path will bring. It’s also a little odd to draw both “easy travel” and “challenges”, but if I take a very literal approach, it could just mean my holiday trips will go easily.

Overall, I think this omen is positive, indicating struggles now but a good outcome later. My instinct is to relate this somewhat to my search for a hearth culture. I’m thinking too much about it, and not letting the process of change happen. I’m actively resisting some parts of that process, which is leading to a good bit of fear. Also there are some Gods whose presence I am uncomfortable with, and one of those seems to be nudging me lately, which is definitely a bit fearful! Part of me wonders if I shouldn’t have thrown out my planning and done a different ritual, but I didn’t think of that until after I was done. Maybe I’ll do a second one and see how this other hearth culture feels.

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I put in an order recently to The Magical Druid shop and have been really pleased with my decision to do so.

Not only did I get timely updates to my order (one of the items I ordered had to be hand made after I ordered it, so it took a little longer), but the items are beautiful and well made. I now have two small, wood burned World Trees, made from pieces of branches, to set on my altar, as well as an absolutely beautiful set of mahogany oghams. I also ordered some incense, but that’s mostly because I love incense, not because I truly needed any more. It’s a weakness, but I do burn it quite frequently.

The oghams came in a very plain linen bag. I’ve used them several times, and they’re smooth and well made. The symbols are clear, and so far they’re reading well for me. It’s really nice to have nice tools, and I’m doubly glad to have purchased them from a shop run by ADF members. They also used recycled packaging, and I’ve since repurposed the box they sent my items in as well. Recycling is good! Nature is good!

I highly recommend The Magical Druid to anyone, not only for the personal service but for the beautiful things they offer and for supporting a small Druid-run business.

Disclaimer: Nobody at the Magical Druid has any idea who I am. They are not paying me to say this.

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I really enjoy divination. I especially like the tarot – my main deck is the DruidCraft deck – and I’m learning the ogams. Tarot has a lot more possible outcomes and gives both clear and nuanced readings, and my ogams seem to speak very clearly about things. Neither oracle pulls punches, and both can have a sense of humor when they need to.

I’ve had some questions about how I do my divination though, and how I got “good” at it (I’d argue that I’m only familiar with it, not always good at it, even though I love doing it!).

As a caveat, there are as many ways to do divination as there are seers. Some people watch bird flight, or smoke trails, or clouds, or the wind. I am not that good, and I really need some kind of symbol, something tangible to work from. I’m assuming that’s the kind of divination you’ll be doing, but feel free to disregard it if you’re doing your divination by fire-gazing (or whatever)!

So, how can you get comfortable with divination?

Start with just one symbol at a time.

There’s nothing wrong with a one symbol drawing. It’s a good way to start, and if you want a straight up answer, it’s a great way to get one. If you have a question with a yes/no answer, flip a coin! There are hundreds of patterns you can place symbols in, from 3 symbol Past-Present-Future spreads to the famous 10-card Celtic Cross tarot spread. Don’t think you need to start big though. I rarely draw more than 3 or 5 symbols at a time.

Don’t be afraid of picking the wrong symbol.

The beauty of divination is that when you approach an oracle, the right answer will come up if you trust it to. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense right away, but trust your oracle, your guides (whether they’re generic spirits or particular members of the Kindreds), and your own intuition. Be fearless!

Look up what the symbols mean!

It took me years to get proficient with tarot, and there are still times I want to look up a particular card because I’m having trouble placing it within a reading. I’m still new to the ogams, so every reading I do consists of drawing fews, writing them down, and then looking up where they are in my ogam chart, in the Green Man Tree Oracle book, in Erynn Rowan Laurie’s Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, and Skip Ellison’s Ogam: The Secret Language of the Druids. Every reading I get something new to add to my mental list, and my notes on each divination consist of little scratched words and phrases as I try to suss out what the bigger picture is.

If you get a set of symbols that you just don’t understand, say “I don’t understand, can you be more clear” and draw another one as a clarifier.

Sometimes divination is really clear – sometimes it’s clear as mud. I’ve had conflicting readings, confusing readings, even readings that suggested I was asking the wrong question (that’s always fun – ask about one thing and pull out a set of cards that all point at a different part of your life. Thanks deck, I see you have your own ideas!). Adding one more item to the set may make the whole reading come together, and I end up using a clarifier a good percentage of the time, especially for larger readings.

Allow your intuition to speak when you’re putting together the meaning of a drawing.

This is the most creative, intuitive part of a reading for me. If you’ve used a spread that has specific positions, that can be easier than a generic 3 item drawing. I write down what they mean in my notebook, taking little half-sentence notes and picking out the bits that stick out at me, even if they don’t seem to apply right away. Then I look at the big picture and try to find a way to combine the three meanings into a larger sentence that “feels” right. Sometimes I try two or three before I find one that fits. Usually that sentence will contain the major word cues for each symbol – a reading with Rowan would include the word “protection” in the overview sentence. It’s certainly not an exact science, and it’s hard to describe when you know you’ve gotten the general overview of a reading.

Don’t place too much stock in the overview sentence either – you can be really successful without writing these, what’s important is getting a picture of the reading as a whole. I like this technique for bringing together a multiple symbol reading, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Paragraphs are a totally legitimate way to explain a reading!

My biggest suggestion, though, is to keep practicing.

Draw a rune a day (or week) and write down what it means – even just a short, one word meaning. Ask the Kindreds what they have in store for you, or what you might be missing about a situation (that’s my favorite question to ask). The more you familiarize yourself with your oracle, the more comfortable you’ll feel doing the readings. Even if you never get past the 3 word meanings, you’ll be able to draw a meaningful oracle in a ritual.

Not everyone is called to be a seer or diviner, but I think everyone has the capacity to do basic divination for themselves. It’s a critical part of the COoR, and (for me) a critical part of doing magic. I do divination before I attempt any magical work, to see what the Otherworld has to say about what I’m attempting. It’s a good way to get clarification on a process, and sometimes you get a very clear “Hey stupid, don’t do that!” answer.

If you’re having trouble connecting to one of the Kindreds, make an offering with connection in mind, ask them what they would like you to do to build connection, and do a reading! Divination is one of the most concrete ways we have of connecting to the Otherworld, and it’s a skill worth cultivating, even just to get a basic proficiency.

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Recently I’ve noticed a trend of pulling the Iodhadh few in a number of readings. Iodhadh is the ogham for Yew, and can mean a number of things. It’s the “death” few (in the Celtic sense of death and rebirth more than the “you’re gonna die” sense), but it can also stand for the Ancestors.

That’s been the interpretation I’ve felt more often – that I need to be listening to the wisdom of the Ancestors. So yesterday I did a reading specifically to ask them what their guidance was. I lit incense and a candle as offerings, said a small prayer, and asked what wisdom they had for me, what perspective they thought I needed to know.

This was the result:

  • Iodhadh (again) – Yew – Ancestors, Death and Rebirth, Transformation
  • Fern – Alder – Protection, guidance
  • Luis – Rowan – Magical protection, beauty and delight

Persevere in your transformation and allow yourself to be reborn; we will protect and guide you to a place of magic and safety.

Perhaps I should be reading more as “death and rebirth and transformation” then. I suppose that’s pretty clear. (I almost get the feeling of “No, you moron, we mean death and rebirth. Really!”) The Dedicant Path is nothing if not a path of transformation. I’m hesitant to call this a reading that confirms I’m where I’m supposed to be, but internally I feel this was a reassuring sort of reading (as reassuring as it can be to get “Death”). Sort of a “stick with it and we’ll help you” message that is nice to get when you’re in the middle of things.

I also need to make myself some ogham flash cards. I’m still having to look up most of the fews. I know that will get better as I get more used to reading with them, but I could stand to speed up the process!

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My Samhain Ritual was performed October 31, 2012, in the late afternoon. Normally I would wait until evening to do a ritual for the Mighty Dead, but I’m more comfortable doing full rituals when I’m alone in the house. Instead, I darkened a room almost completely, so even though the sun was out, I did the ritual by candle light. Between the darkened room and the smoke from the incense, the atmosphere seemed to fit the occasion.

This was a solitary rite, following the full ADF COoR. For this ritual, I honored the Earth Mother in an unnamed aspect; the Gatekeeper was Manannan mac Lir. Patrons of the rite included Donn, Lord of the Underworld and the Cailleach Beare, Grandmother Hag of Winter. I brought the following offerings: silver for the well, cedar incense for the fire, and a bottle of good hard cider for the Kindreds and Patrons (as I can not drink ale or whiskey).

This was my first High Day ritual, but not the first time I’d used the COoR. I’m glad I’d gone through it once before, because it gave me the experience to put together some rituals from the ritual archives (as well as a bit of my own material) into a full Samhain rite that I’m quite pleased with. The wording all came pretty easily to my tongue, though I’d read through it several times to help make sure it would flow. I am still not quite comfortable speaking in a loud voice in an empty house, but I made sure I was at least speaking with strength behind my words. The ritual centered on Donn and the Cailleach, an idea I got from one of the rituals in the archive that I really liked a lot. I have a lot of hesitation working with the Morrigan, and I wasn’t comfortable calling Her in my first ritual, even though many of the Celtic Hearth Samhain rituals honor the Dagdha and the Morrigan. My personal experience is one of strengthening my ties to the Mighty Dead this time of year, so being focused on Donn and the Cailleach seemed fitting.

I did find a major issue with my altar, and that was the location of the offering bowl in relation to the fire. Namely, I singed off some of my arm hair pouring offerings to the Kindreds. Not a particularly appealing incense. I’ve since reorganized it slightly.

I didn’t have a huge wealth of “feeling” from this ritual, however. It certainly had moments of poetry and beauty, but the depth of feeling and emotion wasn’t there in the way I am hoping it will eventually be. I know that part of having a Hearth Culture is to build up that current of energy between you and your patrons, and I am looking forward to feeling those ties strengthen. I would also like, eventually, to be able to do a COoR rite without needing a printed or written guide. While the words were ones I really liked, and some of them were even my own, it didn’t have the same feel as speaking “from the heart” does when it comes to prayer. Perhaps I will build in a time of spontaneous prayer into future rituals, since balance seems to be a good goal here, and I enjoy the act of writing out ritual material as well.

Omens Drawn:

  • Nion (Ash) – Weaver’s Beam, Connection, Wisdom
  • Ailm (Silver Fir) – Foresight, Inception, Perspective
  • Iodhadh (Yew) – Ancestors and death, memory

Use the wisdom and power of the Ancestors to gain perspective and see the “big picture” of the path ahead, a path that will lead you to transformation.

This is not the first time I’ve drawn Iodhadh recently, and I have to admit it’s a little puzzling to me. I understand that I’m undergoing a period of transformation and “Death” (of one path and beginning another), but I also feel like the messages are saying “listen to the Ancestors”, and I don’t know what they’re saying! Maybe I will do another separate reading specifically to ask them for their advice.

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