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Posts Tagged ‘three kindreds’

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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7. Discuss the origins of the Fire, Well and Tree, and the significance of each in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words for each of the Fire, Well and Tree)

Fire: The Fire forms one of the gates in ADF’s sacred center. It is the connection to the upperworlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Deities. It is the hearth fire and the essence of change, the spark that creates life (Paradox). Fire burns away impurities and makes things sacred. The sacred fire is the recipient of many of our offerings, which burn into smoke that feeds the deities in the nature of the Vedic sacrifices to and through Agni. Fire was highly important in Indo-European cultures, and many sacred fires are found in the mythology, from Agni (who is fire itself) to the Roman hearth fires and Vestal fires (Dangler).

Well: The Well forms one of the gates in ADF’s sacred center. It is the connection to the underworlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Ancestors, who go “below” and from whom we get wisdom and memory. It is also affiliated with chthonic deities and their underworld realms. Water from the well washes away impurities and makes things sacred. The well is represented in the mythology by the three wells that feed the World Tree Yggdrasil, from which Odin gains wisdom and the Norns get the mud that repairs the world tree’s roots. It is also similar to the watery otherworld that the Irish see as the home of the Ancestors. (Paradox)

Tree: The Tree holds fast the ways between the worlds. It stands at the center and connects all the worlds, and it is most often affiliated with the Nature Spirits, who live in and among its branches. The tree spans the worlds, from the watery depths of the well to the fiery heights of the sky. It is particularly well represented by Yggdrasil, the great World Tree, whose inhabitants include the dragon (Nidhogg), the squirrel (Ratatosk), the unnamed eagle, and the four stags (Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór) (Paradox). The Irish also have an ancient sacred tree, the Bile, found growing over a holy well or fort (MacCulloch).

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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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A Druid Fellowship (ADF) is an international fellowship devoted to creating a public tradition of Neopagan Druidry. It’s the foundational tradition from which I work, and the general guide for my rituals and devotional practice.

Fundamentally, ADF takes its cues from the ancient Indo-European cultures – the Celts, Norse, Greek, Baltic, Roman, Indo-Iranian, and Vedic cultures (among others) that make up the Indo-European language group. There are similarities across all of these ancient religions, and ADF has taken those similarities, combined them with modern Neopaganism, and created what we call Our Druidry.

It is neither a wholly modern nor a wholly ancient practice – it combines elements of both. Most ADF Druids work within a “hearth culture” – one of the ancient Indo-European cultures that lends flavor to their practice. We work with the pantheons and cultural practices of our hearth culture, but also celebrate the 8 Neopagan high days of the year (Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Eostara, Beltaine, Litha/Summer Solstice, Lammas, Mabon/Autumn Equinox). ADF divides its cosmos into threes (most often), where the spirits we worship are divided into Gods, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits, and the center of our cosmos is the Sacred Fire, Sacred Well, and World Tree (or some variation therein – some cultures have a mountain instead of a tree, for example). We do not, in public ritual, cast circles or call elemental quarters, and we are (generally) hard polytheists, believing that the gods are individual beings with likes and dislikes.

In general, ADF is orthopraxic – which is to say, what you DO is more important than what you BELIEVE. Whether you believe the Earth Mother to be a named Goddess, a primal force, the earth itself, a greater bio-organism (like the Gaia hypothesis) or none of the above, if you are honoring the Earth Mother, you are performing a step in the ADF order of ritual.

Also, ADF generally is unconcerned with its members private practice. Druidic ritual, as defined by ADF, is primarily a way of gathering the public. The Core Order of Ritual is required for any ADF public ritual – but not even remotely required for all the private, home hearth rituals that happen all the time in ADF. My private practice is Core Order flavored, and I try to do Core Order rituals for the High Days, but if I don’t get all the steps in, that’s okay. ADF strongly encourages its members to have both a group and a private practice if possible.

I work with the Anglo-Saxon and Norse hearths within ADF (with occasional forays into Gaulish/Continental Celtic myth). I do not consider myself a reconstructionist, though I have reconstructionist tendencies – I like reading source documents and myths, and using those to base my practice, but I am also a modern Druid, with practices that would seem foreign to my A-S and Norse ancestors (like environmentalism). I try to allow my practice to be guided by the ancient cultures, but if something isn’t working, I am not afraid to branch out and try something new as well.

You can learn more about ADF on their website – http://www.adf.org

I really like this article about the Nine Central Tenets of Druidic Ritual to give you an idea of what things we find important as practitioners of Modern Druidry.

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One essay describing the Dedicants understanding of and relationship to each of the Three Kindred: the Spirits of Nature, the Ancestors and the Gods. (300 words min. for each Kindred and 1000 words total)

ADF splits many of its observances into threes, a number that seems to have been fairly sacred to the Indo-Europeans. There are the three worlds – the underword, the middleworld, and the upperworld – the three realms of land, sky, and sea, the three hallows of fire, well, and tree, and the three Kindred, sacred to our worship, the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Gods and Goddesses of old.

The Ancestors, sometimes called The Mighty Dead or the Mighty Ones, are associated with the underworld, with the sea, and with the realm of the well. They are sacred to burial mounds and crossroads, as well as to the sea.

To the Norse, the ancestors were a vital part of their culture, and ritually remembering them was a vital part of their family religious structure. The dead could influence the living, and bring good luck or bad, depending on whether their rituals were followed correctly. This included sacrifices of objects, food, and drink, as well as the ritual of “outsitting”, whereby one brought offerings to an ancestor’s burial mound, made the offerings, and then sat all night in meditation to commune with them and receive messages from them (this was especially common for mothers and grandmothers). These ancestors were usually buried nearby where the family would live, and were considered to protect and help ensure the survival of the family.

I generally divide my “Ancestors” group into three types:

  • Ancestors of Blood – These are my direct relatives, and those relatives that I inherited through marriage. They are my grandmothers and great grandmothers, the people to whom I am related by blood, as well as my grandmothers-in-law. I consider my inlaws to be part of my family, and so I place them here. I keep a special place in my home (the mantle of our fireplace) for pictures of my and my husband’s grandmothers who have passed away as part of my relationship to my Ancestors of Blood. I also make sure to keep up with the genealogical research that has happened on both sides of my family tree (and my married-into-family-tree), and keep that in a special place in our home.
  • Ancestors of Heart – These are the people to whom I have been close in this life, who have left their mark on me as a person, but who have passed on to the otherworld. They include teachers and mentors, and most especially my two martial arts teachers – a Shotokan Karate Sensei and my Tai Chi Sufi. Those two men did a great deal to shape who I am and how I think, and I am sad to have lost them. My relationship to them was very close, and though I am related to neither of them, I consider them as part of my Ancestors of Heart. I keep them alive by telling their stories, and by passing on their wisdom to those around me.
  • Ancestors of Hearth – These are the people who shared my faith (or something like it) in an earlier time in the world. They are likely Anglo-Saxon in descent (though some of them are Scottish), and I include my husband’s German and Danish ancestors in this group as well. This is the group of Ancestors I relate to the least at this point, because I am not sure what they would think of my modern practice, but I am trying to reach out to them.

Special among my ancestors are my Disir, my ancestral mothers, an idea I gained through my studies of the Norse. The cult of the Matronae was common throughout Western Europe, and I see no reason why it should stop there. While I call upon my Ancestors of Hearth as part of this group, I also have a special group of women called my Prairie Godmothers (who are like Faerie Godmothers only they carry wooden spoons and are very concerned with the running of households and the strength of their families) – from both my family and my husband’s family. These are the women who came to the United States and scratched out a living here, making a new life for their families. Though they were all Christian, I take great strength and inspiration from them, and I try to remember them as I build my hearth and home – even though I am a modern woman with a 40 hour a week job outside the house.

Beyond the various things mentioned above, I have a small hearth shrine in my home, set up on my stove (the place where I do all the cooking – I have a fireplace, but it is not used most of the year. I use my stove daily). I light candles there in honor of my Disir – both the ancestors of my blood, my Prairie Godmothers, and those who walked this path before me. I try to make sure the kitchen is clean before I light those candles, out of respect for them. My hearth should be in good order before I ask for their blessings.

My usual offering to the Mighty Dead is to share with them a portion of my own cup, marking it as a sacrifice – this is a drink that I purchase specifically for the occasion, and I choose to share it with them. However, they also like brownies. (And who doesn’t?!)

The second of the three Kindred are the Nature Spirits, sometimes called the Noble Ones, the Land Wights, the Land Spirits, and the Sidhe, as well as the Spirits of Place. They are associated with the middle world, the land, and (to some extent) the tree – though the tree usually has other functions in ritual, the Nature Spirits seem to fit best there, and trees are among the Nature Spirits. (Also, to the Norse, the World Tree is inhabited by several nature spirits, my favorite being Ratatosk, the squirrel). This is a fairly broad group of beings, from the elves, wights, and trolls who inhabit particular places and objects (and homes) to the larger Nature Spirits, like the spirit of Stag, or Owl, or Rabbit, as well as the smaller spirits we see around us, and the spirits of the trees themselves.

To the Norse, the world was one full of spirits, from Giants (Ettins and Jotnar) to trolls (who could be good or bad) to elves and dwarves, who each inhabited a certain type of place and required a certain level of decorum in dealing with them. Unlike the Sidhe of the Celtic lands, it was considered very bad form not to accept food or gifts from these beings, as frequently they would turn out to be of great benefit (and refusing them would usually peeve the offering spirit, which was something to be avoided at great cost). Even today in parts of Iceland, a road will be moved to go around a rock that is known to be inhabited by Elves, or extra time given to allow the Elves to find a new home before the rock is moved to allow for road construction. These naturekin frequently like small, shiny objects and offerings of milk and honey, or a portion of meals as an offering. One of the most productive books I read on this subject has been Kvedulf Gundarson’s Elves, Wights, and Trolls, which offered deep insight into the various Norse distinctions between these spirits and how to live productively among them.

My personal relationships with the Nature Spirits run more along their natural embodiments as animal spirits, especially Owl, Rabbit, and Toad – creatures I have had a fascination with since I was a very small child. I find that these animals often act as guides for me when I am working in trance states, and I frequently find that I can get wisdom from them, just based on their behavior and mannerisms. I also like to leave offerings for my local house spirits and the spirits of the land on which I live (They especially seem to like homemade chili, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising. I do live in chili pepper country.) These relationships aren’t particularly deep or meaningful, but I find it important to honor those spirits who live here on this land with me, even if I don’t work with them directly.

In ritual, I tend to call the Nature Spirits as their fur and feather natures, instead of calling on tree wights or river wights, though I lump all of those under the distinctions of the Nature Spirits. These are the Noble spirits with whom we share this middle world, and their presence can add good energy to ritual observances. Also, they have the ability to affect the world in ways that we do not, being beings of different substance and gifts, and so I find it appropriate to honor them and make offerings to them. My usual offering to the Nature Spirits is the same as that to the Ancestors – a portion of my own cup, something I have purchased specifically for the purpose of sharing it as a sacrifice. They have also received both grain and honey as a sacrifice, but that was quite a challenging sacrifice to make, since I don’t have a fire to pour the honey into, and pouring it into the communal offerings bowl made a very sticky mess. As a solitary, having to clean a whole pile of sticky offering bowls was a bit off-putting, so I’ve stuck with more easily pourable sacrifices most of the time.

Third among the Kindreds (in this list, though certainly I would rank them all as having equal importance) are the Gods and Goddesses, who have perhaps the longest list of names: The Shining Ones, First Children of the Mother, The Gods of this Place, The Great Ones, The Elder Ones, Eldest and Wisest. They offer us a clear connection to the creation of the world, though they are not usually the same generation as those who created it. Most of our Gods and Goddesses are their children, but they are the First Children of the Mother Earth, whose body was formed out of one of their forbears.

They are associated with the upper world, with the sky, and with the hallows of the fire, to which offerings to them are most often burned. The Deities of our chosen hearth (or of our chosen preference, if we don’t follow a hearth) provide a lot of the backbone for the structures of ADF, especially as it follows the Wheel of the Year. While some festivals might be just as easily associated with Nature Spirits (Spring Equinox) or the Mighty Dead (Samhain), we usually attach associated Dieties of the occasion to that worship, and a lot of our thought and energy goes towards building relationships with those Deities that we chose or are chosen by.

Whether I think of the Deities as beings to be worshiped or not (which is something I go back and forth about, as the word worship for me comes with a lot of emotional baggage), certainly the words honor and love come into play. We honor these great beings, because of all the Kindreds, they have the greatest power at their disposal. Each of the Gods will have a domain where he or she is best found, Njord by the ocean, Freyr in a garden or in a plot of farmland, but they are not bound to those domains, or even bound to the domains usually associated with them. While Freyr may be a god of fertility and frith and peacemaking, there is no reason he could not also act as a protector. The Gods may have limits, but those limits are much fewer and lighter than our own as humans. While we interact daily with the Nature Spirits, and owe our very existence to our Ancestors, the Gods hold a special place in life as protectors and nurturers and challengers of what we can accomplish as humans.

It is with the Gods that I find I hold the greatest *ghosti relationship. With the Ancestors, they already have a vested interest in me. The Nature Spirits are more indifferent, but some are inclined to be friendly (and even helpful towards) humans. But with the Gods I feel that the *ghosti relationship is truly the sacred one – I offer so that they in turn may offer. There is some evidence that the Norse believed their primary relationships were with the Ancestors and Nature Spirits, only calling on the Gods for big things, but I find that I prefer to have a closer relationship to the Gods than that. Still, I find that my relationship with the Gods is most defined in formal ritual, as opposed to casual offerings or remembrances, like I do with the other Kindreds most of the time. I encounter them primarily in ritual, and I try to make that count. I also try always to make their offering directly from my own cup, because I want it to be something special that is “mine” that I am specifically offering to them as a shared offering.

I am attempting to cultivate a more personal, daily relationship to specific Gods, notably Ing-Frey, through my morning devotions and my meditation times. I would like that relationship to transcend the boundaries of a ritual setting and embark more on a patron relationship. Beyond that, I typically work with and work for the Norse Gods, though I am trying to transition to a more Anglo-Saxon hearth (which is hard, because one of the Gods I’d like to get to know is Njord, but I may just have to cross-hearth for that one).

I try to make sure that I am giving small offerings, fairly regularly, to the Gods just for the sake of giving offerings, usually of incense or of food. I think it’s important to keep up the communication, and I frequently meditate during these offerings of incense. I try to not make every encounter with the Gods (or any of the Kindreds) simply about asking for things, though I am not afraid to ask for things if the situation warrants it.

Combined, these three Kindred provide a complete spiritual picture of the types of spirits that an ADF druid can expect to work with through ADF style rites. While far from an exhaustive list of ALL the types of spirits that might be out there, the three Kindreds provide a solid grounding in Indo-European beliefs about how the world was ordered, and how they should interact with it. By basing my own practice around these three types of spirits (even if I don’t always do so in a truly Norse-derived way), I know I’m plugging into a spiritual current that is growing and developing around the world as ADF grows and creates its own spiritual egregore. As well, I know that I am honoring the primary divisions of the spirit world that my spiritual ancestors would have seen and believed in.

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I’m to the point in the Dedicant Path where I’m working on some of the bigger, meatier essays about things like my personal religion and my relationships with the Three Kindreds. It’s a bit daunting, especially now that I’ve finished writing my virtue essays (which will get published here over the next week or so). I’m going to tackle the Three Kindreds first, since I think that’s going to be the most challenging of the remaining essays for me to write – and if I’m going to take that approach, I may as well start with the one that gives me the most trouble. (That used to be the Ancestors, but I’ve been doing a lot more work with them, so I’m feeling much better connected there lately.)

Nature Spirits are a big category for ADF Druids – they are one of the “Big Three” divisions of spirits that we work with for our magic and our worship. They are a multitude of different types of spirit, from elves and wights and trolls of lore, to place-spirits and house-spirits, to the spirits of animals (particular animals and as guides). They generally occupy the middle world with us humans, and our magical workings cause us to run into them on a regular basis.

I don’t know much about this class of spirit, but I’m attempting to learn more. I’m currently reading Elves, Wights, and Trolls (Kveldulf Gundarsson) in an attempt to learn more about how my Norse and Germanic ancestors would have viewed this class of spirits. They are, by and large, an extremely diverse bunch, from friendly house wights to dangerous and trickster types who work against humans and against the Gods. Much like humans and Gods, some of them are considerably more cooperative than others. (Though I found his initial explanation on what to offer and how to behave around them very interesting, as they are quite different than the Celtic Sidhe/Fae that I’ve been more accustomed to in mythology).

I hope to incorporate them more into my practice as I learn more about them. The book is a little dense at times, but I think it’s been a good introduction to all the different roles that the different types of Spirits can have – from Jotuns/Ettins to Land Wights to Water Wights. I’m only about half way through at this point, but I think I’ve learned a lot.

I do try to keep a working relationship with my house spirits and the spirits of my little piece of earth. I don’t leave offerings as often as I should, but I try to make offerings of food – especially baked goods – and make sure that I do my best to make my home and yard a welcoming place for animals and spirits. I have several “wild” areas for bugs and birds, and I like to leave out food offerings. I also regularly thank my local house spirits when I’m cleaning my house weekly, asking to make sure that I don’t disturb them with loud things like the vacuum cleaner and sprinkling cleansing herbs and essential oils in my vacuum bag to help keep the house nice-smelling and pleasant for them. (It helps keep it nice for us humans too!)

I have several animal “spirits” that I have an affinity with. I wouldn’t call them guides, so much as presences that I’ve noticed in my life. I turn to them for advice at times, or just see them frequently in my Mental Grove workings. In particular, I see Owl, Rabbit and Toad, and occasionally Stag. I have the closest relationship with Owl and Rabbit, whom I have spoken with and gotten wisdom from, but I hesitate to call them true “guides”, other than that they have acted as guides for me in trance meditations when I am out exploring the worlds around my Mental Grove.

One ritual I do consistently is a note of respect to the dead that I find. This usually means I’m doing the ritual in my car, so it has to be a quick ritual, but I find that I get a feeling of comfort from it. When I see an animal that has been killed on the road (or other places, but most often it’s on the road), I kiss my hand and say a prayer of comfort and release for that animal, willing it to be at peace and to travel onward toward its next life.  I should actually write up a prayer to say for this, in light of yesterdays post about writing more prayers.

I have a strong working relationship with Nature herself, as a gardener and as someone generally concerned with the well-being of both the planet and of my little patch of earth, but working with the particular personal spirits that make up this Kindred is something I don’t have a lot of experience with yet, and it’s something I hope to grow and encourage as my practice deepens. I would especially like to create relationships with particular plants and trees around my home. Perhaps it’s time to start making more offerings, hugging more trees, and lighting more candles!

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