“But if you do …

“But if you do know what is taught by plants and weather, you are in on the gossip and can feel truly at home. The sum of a field’s forces [become] what we call very loosely the ‘spirit of the place.’ To know the spirit of a place is to realize that you are a part of a part and that the whole is made of parts, each of which in a whole. You start with the part you are whole in.”
― Gary Snyder, The Gary Snyder Reader (1952-1998): Prose, Poetry and Translations

Thoughts on the Kindreds. Seems equally applicable to earth spirits and ancestors, in different ways.


The Home Shrine [Dedicant Path Requirement]

For my first year or so as a pagan, I referred to myself as a hearthwitch. A lot of my spiritual practice centered around my kitchen and the garden just outside it. I had a small altar on my stove, so when I was ready to create an altar per the specifications of the Dedicant Path, this is where I chose to build it.

For my bile, I have a metal tree screwed into the wall.  It has a holder for a candle, which is where I have my fire, a tricolored candle.  A black tripod bowl serves as my well.  When I am working at my altar I use a blue silk altar cloth to covers the stovetop.  In addition to the essentials, I also keep two large white shells that I found on the beach on the altar as offering bowls (one for incense, one for cornmeal or salt); an incense burner given to me by my mom, a devout Christian, as a peace offering; and a matched pair of stones in the shape of wands (one bloodstone, one jade) that have been ritual tools of indeterminate purpose since the beginning of my journey as a pagan. The bloodstone anchors the well, while I usually hold or carry the jade, the working stone.

In the future, I hope to acquire some symbols of the Kindreds to keep on my altar. I have a small gargoyle that represents the spirits of the house who will live on my stove as part of the altar, but intend to add to that as soon as possible. Here is a picture of my shrine on the day it was dedicated:



Lughnassadh 2013 [Dedicant Path Requirement]

Yesterday I went to my first ADF style ritual – Lughnassadh with Black Bear Grove. I drove down with a friend. According to Koronis, the senior druid, the area we were working in is a popular party spot, and so the first order of business was to clean up the litter. Luckily I had a couple of trash bags in my car – the site was completely trashed (complete with discarded clothes and an air mattress, as well as the usual bottles and beer cans) and we needed more bags than had been brought. While we picked up trash, Koronis set up the altar. The other members of the grove arrive and the pre-ritual briefing began, complete with a quick lesson in how to sing the Portal Song, and then Koronis sent us off to begin the rite with individual meditation. I marched off to meditate in the nearest patch of poison ivy. -_-

Koronis called us together with ‘Come We Now to the Grove,’ and we reenacted Lugh’s entrance at the Gates of Tara – each of us told a skill (the funniest being, “I have a great knowledge of pharmacology!”), and was rejected; finally, the last member said, “But we come as one, as a Grove; do you have anyone who has all these skills?” and were allowed to jump the moat-puddle and enter the grove. One of the members made an offering to the outsiders, and then we did a group meditation before purification and honoring the Earth Mother. One of the members had brought cherry tomatoes from her garden, and gave us each a tomato from the altar for the invocation. She said some words honoring the specific goddess, Tailtiu, and then offered a more general invocation, talking about how  the Earth Mother is the only goddess we are never without, the only one we can always touch and always hear and always see; we all ate our tomatoes together to honor her. Koronis spoke our intent to gather in honor of Lugh, and then we sang the Portal Song to consecrate fire, well, and tree. Then three grove members opened the gates and invoked the Kindreds, and then one of the members whose patron is Lugh offered an invocation to him. Offerings were made to various gods and goddesses, and then a final mead offering for which Koronis made a prayer of sacrifice. One of the grove took an Ogham omen, which was favorable, and then we shared the Blessings in the form of mead and water passed around the grove. Since we were honoring Lugh the Many-Skilled, the working on this particular occasion was a blessing of tools – people brought cooking implements, metalworking tools, garden tools, and various other things, and we passed them around to impart individual blessings to them. I passed around a ring I wear to symbolize some major life lessons I’ve learned, that has a lot ‘in’ it, so to speak.

Finally, we thanked the Kindreds, closed the gates, expressed our gratitude to Mother Earth, and declared the rite ended. We shared a meal after, but I had to leave before they began the grove’s traditional Games of Lugh, an eight-year tradition that I look forward to attending next year.

Conversations From Alaska

“I am eating at the northernmost Denny’s in the world. My brother is eating reindeer.”

“OH MY GOD WHY WOULD YOU EAT REINDEER? THEY’RE SANTA’S VEHICLES OF LOVE AND JOY. Doesn’t your brother want Christmas presents?”

“Wouldn’t he be taking everyone else’s presents too?”

“HEARTLESS BASTARD. Tell him to stop eating the reindeer!”

“In Finland, people drink hot reindeer blood like tea.”

“No wonder they’re all so gloomy in winter. There’s no way they get Christmas after that sort of behavior.”

[Brother, sending picture of breakfast] “Rudolph is tasty!”


“Don’t worry, I won’t do it too often.”

“I don’t think eating Santa’s helpers is a three-strikes deal…”

Scary Pagan Holidays: Lughnassadh

Last week it was Lammas, the celebration of the first fruits of the harvest, so my sisters and I took the afternoon off. Big Sister spent the day making corn chowder with vegetables we’d picked up from the farmer’s market earlier in the week, while I picked up candles and Little Sister. Little Sister’s friend texted her to ask if she wanted to hang out; she said she was busy, it was a pagan holiday, and she was celebrating with family. He responded, “Well, I don’t judge. I’m just as depraved as the next person.”

We wondered if he was imagining an orgy, laughed at his decision that we were full of depravity, and went to pick up some cupcakes for the celebration. It took us twenty minutes to pick out five cupcakes. So many cupcakes, so little time.

After we made a quick pit stop at my house to make some cornbread (Lammas is, after all, a celebration of first fruits, and there’s corn in spades this time of year) and shower, we zipped off to Big Sister’s house. When we got there, we handed her the cornbread to put in the oven and went outside to clean up the area we were going to eat in/set up the cauldron so we could have a fire. I did not buy enough floating candles. Lighting them was a pain in the ass, and so, it turns out, is filling a cast iron cauldron from a wall spigot sans a hose. But we figured it out eventually. While the chowder finished simmering, we watched an episode of Buffy.

We set the table, brought food outside, and ate together while we told embarrassing family stories. We laughed a lot. We made corn dollies and sat around the cauldron talking for a few hours. There was a Very Serious Ceremonial Reading of Gary Snyder’s Smoky the Bear Sutra. Then we ate cupcakes.

When it got late we cleaned up so Big Sister could get to bed, and then Little Sister and I wandered off to the arts district and spent an hour talking to a guy who was restoring a loom from the 1860s.