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Posts Tagged ‘Ancestors’

9 – Describe the intention and function of the Three Kindreds invocations, and give a short description of each of the Kindreds. (minimum 100 words for each of the Three Kindreds)

The three kindreds invocations serve as ways to name and identify the kindreds by type, function, and role in the ritual and in the lives of the participants/the world. They primarily take the form of lists of attributes, titles, great works, or other specific identification markers (like names, realms of influence, type) as ways for us to remember them and for them to be identified and called specifically to our rituals. None of the Kindred are omniscient or omnipresent, or we would not need to invite them to our rituals specifically, nor ask them for specific blessings.

Ancestors: Often called the Mighty Ones or the Mighty Dead, these are the spirits of our past. They can be of several types: ancestors of blood – our direct progenitors and family members, ancestors of heart – those people who were not family but were close to us in life, ancestors of mind – people who taught and inspired us, and ancestors of spirit – people with whom we share a spiritual path, as well as the ancestors of the place in which we currently live or do ritual. We call upon all the different Ancestors in ritual (sometimes specifically, sometimes all together as one category) and ask their blessings and protection. The ancestors are typically beings who are concerned with the well-being of their descendants, and can be reliable allies in life (Corrigan “Worlds”). Offerings to them should be tailored to their specific likes in life (if they are being called by name) or, more often, general offerings of food and drink (to show that they are welcome at our table and to spiritually feed them from our own bounty). The Ancestors are invited to connect us to the past and to the ever present spirits of those who have gone before (Bonewits “Step”). They provide a link to all the previous priests and druids who have gone before, and ask their presence and blessing and guardianship over the ritual.

Nature Spirits: Often called the Noble Ones, these are the spirits of land and place that inhabit the middle realm with us (Corrigan “Worlds”). They can be of myriad types, from house spirits and land spirits to animals and plants, to elves and fae, depending on the ritual and the person(s) performing it (Bonewits “Step”). Sometimes mischievous, other times aloof, they do not depend on human interaction, but are instead honored as part of the world that we inhabit and call home. The non-animal Nature Spirits, in particular, have specific ways they like to be addressed and given offerings, and when those preferences are upheld, they are often friendly and helpful spirits to us. The Nature Spirits are invited to give us the comfort, knowledge, and blessings that we will need to accomplish our goals for the rest of the ceremony (Bonewits “Step”).

Deities: Often called the Shining Ones, First Children of the Mother, these are the beings most often honored as “spirits of the occasion” in ADF rituals (Corrigan “Worlds”). They are the gods and goddesses that we honor and worship, and from whom we expect the greatest blessings and protection. They are the great heroes of myth and legend, and we relate their stories as a way to honor and remember them. They are all separate (or mostly separate) and each has his or her own personality, likes and dislikes, and function within their respective pantheons. By these attributes, we relate to them and make offerings to them (Bonewits “Step”). The Dieties are invited to provide us with power and blessings, especially power and blessings particular to the rite to which they are invited (Bonewits “Step”). As well, they fulfill the goal of ritual that seeks to exalt the ritual attendees spiritually (Bonewits “Step” Corrigan “Intentions”).

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“Oh You Mothers…”

This is the prayer I use when leaving offerings for my own ancestors.

Oh you mothers, all my mothers

Those who sleep in heavy soil,

Those who went to death so weary

All you thought was no more toil,

Those who danced with joy and laughter,

Those who fought to break the chains

Though you’ll know no more hereafters,

Here a part of you remains.

 

Oh you fathers, all my fathers

Those who dream in wet, black earth,

Those who let their dreams go hungry

So that mine could come to birth,

Those who died in rage and sorrow

Those who laughed and wandered free,

Though you’ll know no more tomorrows

Your tomorrows live in me.

 

All of you who came before me,

Though I know your names or not.

All who added to my story

Giving blood or deed or thought.

Take this food and drink I give you,

Share it with me, take your fill.

Though your verses may have ended

Yet the song continues still.

– Christopher Scott Thompson

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by Marie Howe

I have begun,
when I am weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling – whatever leads
to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy’s ashes were –
it’s green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.
Billy’s already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says I’ll do.

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Fairly normal week. Missed my morning practice 2 days this week because apparently I need to get more sleep. I did it when I remembered, which is, I suppose, what counts.

Also did a bunch of canning this week (pickles, jalapenos, blueberry jam), which always makes me feel close to my prairie godmothers. Their candle burned near my stove all day while I jarred and processed the various things (it couldn’t sit ON the stove since I needed all the burners).  I don’t rely on the food I put up to keep us fed through the winter, but it is an inexpensive way to make food that is in season into something delicious that we’ll enjoy all year long. Both my husband and I love pickles too! It’s weird to think of cooking as a spiritual activity, but it really can be.

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Hail to you, Hela, Grandmother Death.
Silent your wisdom, yours my last breath.
Reading our wyrd in cobwebs and lace,
Ancestor´s hostess, grant us your grace.

Hail to you, Hela, ender of strife.
Half fair, half rotten, mirror of life.
Cool is your comfort, equal for all.
Highways and alleys end in your hall.

Hail to you, Hela, Lady of Dust.
All wyrd will ever go as it must.
Carving our way on the edge of a knife,
Éljúðnir´s Mistress, teach us of life.

© Michaela Macha

This poem is in the Common Domain and may be freely distributed provided it remains unchanged, including copyright notice and this License.

I have an interesting relationship with Hela. To be quite honest, I’m still uncomfortable with the whole practice, but I figure it’s better to do something uncomfortable than ignore the blatant requests of a goddess, especially one like Hela.

Some background.

Last year, as I was first starting to work with the runes (and while I was still working with the Futhark, before I’d started working with the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc), I started having a run on Hagalaz. It didn’t make sense – I wasn’t going through a period of change or destruction, my life was actually pretty stable, my relationship was good, my job was fairly consistent, my health was stable. Nothing that would suggest my repeatedly drawing a rune of destruction, especially in the context of blessings received.

So I turned to someone whose runework and seidhr I trust – Laure Beth Lynch – and asked her to look into the matter at one of her open seidhr sessions. She got a clear response back from Hela Herself that She was looking for me, trying to get my attention, and that I needed to pay more attention to my dead. There was no ambiguity to the response Beth got, and even a hint of “Well, everything else I tried didn’t get your attention, so I figured this might work”. Not exactly a comfortable response, especially for someone to whom work with the dead does NOT come naturally or easily. (I’ve always loved learning about my ancestors, but I had, at the time, only a cursory practice of actually honoring them.)

I have since deepened my work with my Idesa (and the Prairie Godmothers), and joined ADF’s new Order of the Dead, which focuses on work with death, dying, and the ancestors. My work there is still pretty new (the order has only existed for about a month), but it wasn’t something I hesitated about at all – I saw the call go out on ADF’s email list, and immediately knew I needed to be there.

I am still building my practice though, and building what can loosely be called “shrines” for my ancestors. I make offerings and burn candles to my Idesa on my stovetop (my “hearth”), and I have a special bookshelf where I keep all my family histories and stories, which I am fortunate enough to have excellent documentation for, thanks to my mom, my paternal uncle, and my husband’s maternal aunt – all of whom have done extensive research into our families.

For someone who is deepening a practice with the dead, I am not overly fond of skulls or skeletons or other typical “death” imagery, so I’m still searching for things to keep on my altar as a representation of the mighty dead. I also don’t have an altar representation for Hela herself yet, though I am actively looking for one. That said, when I make offerings to the Kindreds, I call out Hela by name, alongside Ing Frea, as they are the two deities I work most closely with. (I am aware of the irony of the two of them together – Ing Frea as a god of fertility and peace, the god of the harvest – who is sacrificed and spends time in Hela’s realm every year. They are an odd pair, but who am I to argue?)

It all still feels very new and strange though – I’ve never had a fascination with the dead, death, or the otherworld, and I’ve never been into the typical “death” imagery or séances or anything like that. I have no ESP, I can’t feel or talk to the dead. (Yet?) I have very few “ancestors” in the sense of people I have known who have died (I would probably count four people on that list, and only two are family members).

I can’t deny that the calling is there, but it’s taking a pretty big step out of my comfort zone to approach it with the kind of dedication that a practice like this deserves. Still, I am not willing to ignore such a blatant message that it’s something I need to do, so I am doing it.

Hail to you, Hela, Grandmother Death.

 

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The Ancestors play an important part in my spiritual practice. Under many names – the Ancestors, the Mighty Ones, the Mighty Dead, Idesa and Alfar – they are one of ADF’s Three Kindreds and an important practice in the Norse and Anglo-Saxon cultures.

The Mighty Ones are the Ancestors, those of our folk who are presently resting in the Land of the Dead. They watch over their descendants and lend their power to aid us. It is proper for every Druidic worshipper to honor her immediate ancestors, her Grandmothers and Grandfathers, as well as the Heroes, those great women and men who are honored by her folk. – The Worlds and the Kindreds

Some articles and references for the Ancestors, particularly the Disir/Idesa/Matronae (Female ancestors and guardians)

Historically, the Norse/Germanic/Anglo-Saxon cultures had strong beliefs about their ancestors being a part of their family’s good fortune. These beings – which are sometimes confused with Nature Spirits after awhile, especially if they are connected to a burial mound or site – watch over their descendents and protect them in life, often interfering to bring good fortune or luck in battle. If you wanted to speak with a particular Dis, you would go out and sit all night on her burial mound, seeking her council (a practice called out-sitting).

In my personal practice, the Ancestors are a part of my daily life. I make regular offerings to a group of Idesa I call my “Prairie Godmothers” – women whose strength and courage helped bring their families to the United States, where they lived as pioneers. Every time I clean my kitchen, I light a candle to them, and make them a small offering of thanks. I want to channel their courage and inner fortitude in my own life, so I invite them in regularly.

I’ve also been called directly (through a blog-friend who does Seidhr) to work more with my dead and spend time with my ancestors. I don’t know exactly what this means, but I have tried to incorporate more work with them into my practice, and to spend additional time with them when I do ritual. I’m not very good at it yet, but I am trying to make this more a focus of my practice. As part of this, I’ve been collecting family genealogy from both my and my husband’s family in a central location in our home. Keeping this information current and easy to reference helps me connect to my direct ancestors. I would like to expand this practice to more spiritual ancestors, whether they be ancients or just other figures in history who can guide me in my spiritual work. Hopefully this will help me fulfill the request to pay more attention to my dead.

I put a lot of stock and respect in the answers I got from Beth on the subject (prompted by my constantly receiving the rune Hagalaz while not seeing elements of destruction and chaos around), so I trust that this is important, both to my ancestors and the mighty dead, and to Hela herself, as the goddess of the underworld. Admittedly, I’m a little intimidated by cultivating a relationship with a Goddess of Death, but I am well aware that my being uncomfortable is either something she doesn’t much care about, or is actively seeking. It’s definitely outside my comfort zone.

I had some particularly interesting dreams about two ancestors of spirit, back when I was practicing Wicca, but I haven’t seen or sought them out again. I need to begin seeking some Anglo-Saxon and Norse ancestors, particularly women ancestors (for some reason I am very drawn to them). I don’t know much else to do beyond granting them offerings and paying attention to them, but as I develop better trance and meditative listening/journeying skills I hope I will have some better ideas of things I can do – and maybe even names or personalities I can begin to associate with them.

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This year, in addition to the Yule ritual we’ll be doing tomorrow night with our little study group, I’m planning to loosely follow along with Three Cranes Grove for their “Yule Along”. It’s a set of 12 “feasts” between the solstice and the new year, intended to bring reflection and celebration of the season. I like the idea a lot, and though I’ll be traveling for part of it, I definitely want to do some of these activities.

This is what they have suggested, as well as my plans for each day:

  • 12/19 Greeting the winter wanderer (Woden) – I’ll do an offering to the Wild Hunt (mostly propitiatory – while I honor the Hunt, I don’t want them hanging around my house!)
  • 12/20 Mother’s night/Idesa/Solstice vigil (to be posted that day) – Yule Ritual to the Idesa and Frige, with bonus Solstice Vigil Candles lit from the setting sun, to be burned throughout Yule. Opportunity for oathmaking here; I am considering an oath towards this new study group, to solidify my commitment to them.
  • 12/21 Solstice Day – Baking! Lighting candles! Hooray for the Sun!
  • 12/22 Nature Spirits – Offerings to the nature spirits
  • 12/23 Feast of Fools – Not sure yet what to do here. This is typically about role reversal, but I may just do something silly with my husband/friends.
  • 12/24 Alfar and housewights – housecleaning and offerings to the spirits of my home
  • 12/25 Spirit of hospitality and gifting – Presents! Hooray!
  • 12/26 Celebrations of winter/snow – Celebrating being warm with my family.
  • 12/27 Celebration of the evergreen – More presents, this time with extended family. I need to figure out how to work evergreens into this.
  • 12/28 God/desses of the household (Frige) – Knitting! Lots of knitting, as I’m working on two big projects right now.
  • 12/29 Shining ones – Offerings to Thunor, Frige, and Ing Frea
  • 12/30 Bringing in the boar (Ing Frea, deities/spirits concerning oaths) – Roast beast! (Roast beast is a feast I don’t mind in the least!) I’ll make pot roast and consider my new year’s resolutions and any oaths I am considering making.
  • 12/31 Twelfth Night — Resolutions, divination, remembrances, gratitudes – Party! Big party at my house, with friends and games and fun and champagne. I’ll initiate a conversation about resolutions, and maybe do some divination regarding the new year.
  • 1/1 New Year’s Day — Returning the home to regular time – Clean up, take down, and put away all the holiday stuffs. Get ready to go back to work, cook lunches, and make some pre-prepared meals. Basically return to the normal routine.

Some of these will be a little difficult, but I think planning for them in advance will make sure I stick to it. I love the idea of making Yule a “season” – a time of feasting, sacrifice, and honoring the various Gods and spirits of my path. I think this is a fun way to do it, and it means a little bit of sacred time each day, instead of trying to cram it all into one day and getting burnt out.

What are you doing to celebrate the Solstice/Yule? Any family traditions you have that you’d like to share? I’m always looking for new traditions to borrow and try out!

Blessed Yule!

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