Chillin’ Out – October 2014 Meeting

Meeting took place on Tuesday 14th October.

This was supposed to be a meeting about Hoodoo, unfortunatley, Leithin Cluan was unable to travel from nodnoL due to a crisis.  We sincerely wish you the very best Leithin and we miss you.

Instead, we discussed that we should meet up anyway and bring the Question Cards and perform a healing circle… turns out a lot of people needed it as quite a few members dropped out due to illness (The Plague! The Plague!).  Fortunately we had a very good turn out due to new potential members: Mr. Chutney (I think I called him ‘B’ in the last post), Vyvyan and TaleTeller.  I had quite forgotten to bring the Question Cards (I’m getting good at that), so after opening the meeting in the usual official manner I was offered a bean bag by the wonderfully chipper D2 (He had agreed to host as we never confirmed a location for the this meeting), whom was also very kind enough to offer me a tot of Green Mead (believe it!) and some exquisite cheese.

As you can see, Locksley was feeling the stress...

As you can see, Locksley was feeling the stress… Photo by Strider.

We used the evening to get to know the new potentials and for them to get to know us.  I was explaining the history of our Grove when D2 declared “There are two people who want to speak to you”… who could he mean? Its been years since I never returned that library book… It was Leithin Cluan down South and River in Ireland on Skype!  I’d never used Skype before, its like something off Star Trek.  We are officially in The Future when we have video communication and huge television screens, all we need now is warp flight, keyboards on the walls and yellow/black tape on the edges of everything and we’re THERE.

By the time me and D2 wrapped up Skype (we’d been catching up, talking about courses and bruises) the party had gone to where it always goes… The Kitchen.  Briseilid had carried on where I left off in regards to the history of our Grove.  And then we started the BIG questions like, what actually qualifies as ignorance?  What can we as Druids do to combat ignorance- even though the answer, ultimately was we can’t.  There will always be those who have a staunch set of beliefs that are unshakable or a different opinion that refuses any shades of grey.  Doesn’t mean we can’t try however.

As the night drew late, we finished with a healing circle, connecting hands and with the powers of Earth and Sky, we sent healing to anyone we thought who could use it.  For Leithin Cluan, we siphoned off a portion to her ‘pot’.

Will we see Mr. Chutney, Vyvyan and her husband, TaleTeller again? Who can say? after they left we did discuss that we are not a Grove for everyone, people have different expectations and needs for coming together, whether or not those expectations are met and needs satisfied however are totally different things.  The GOC is a down-to-earth-say-it-like-it-is kind of Grove.  We don’t have structured sessions where we begin with a meditation exercise and finish on a poem (not that there is anything wrong with that, its just simply not our way, although we are beginning to see more of Cymro’s poetry come through) we sit around and chat in our meetings because there is a strong kinship and sense of family, of tribe, that’s what and who we are.  What did the new potentials get out of it? I don’t know, what I do know is that I hope we do see them again and the invitation is always open to those who are welcome.

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Alban Elfed 2014

You can tell Autumn is with us (it arrived about a fortnight ago, but hey, let’s go with it…), the leaves are turning bright golds, fiery reds, burned oranges, there is a haze in the trees and the air is becoming thin…. and the nights are drawing in quicker.

And so it was when we arrived at the Grove Hearth.  As we had only just become accustomed to seeing both the Grove and ourselves in the space in daylight, we were now seeing everything in the dark once more.

We were even joined by two new potentials, A and B (will give better names in future) A being a former member of another Grove, B having moved from York is looking to create his own seed group.  If they join us again, they will be both be welcome.

Cymro ap Arthan was last night’s MC, after a flash of inspiration.  For once, we used a script for the ceremony, lucky for me that I had Strider’s lantern with which to see my script (and add a dramatic touch to greeting everyone entering from the West.) Which Cymro had wonderfully written and put together. 

All quarters were cast successfully, even with Greenfingers’ new “fare welcome” dismissal/ greeting.

The ceremony was focused on the harvest of not only the fruits of Mother Nature, but of what we have achieved in ourselves this year.

To physically represent this, Cymro and Briseilid had constructed a gorgeous altar bedecked with grapes, bread, figs, flowers and candles. 

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The altar of Alban Elfed 2014… good work guys!

In fact, there was no circle cast, Greenfingers followed the script in drawing the circle with flower petals.  Altogether, a very powerful reminder that though we take of the Earth, we must give back to the Earth.

Afterwards we enjoyed a feast of Tomato and Basil bread from Strider, figs and flapjack, wine and an assortment of crisps.

Conversation included:

Pets, beginning of spiritual paths, the Menopause, figs helping movements of the bowels, Danceswithweasles progress with her business venture and of course, getting to know A and B. 

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September Meeting 2014- Bones… sort of…

Yes, I am poking Strider’s pork sausages…” – Locksley2010

 

BBQ Goodness...

BBQ Goodness…

The setting sun was a glorioous blood red as me and Dumbledore cruised from one shire to another, and the sky was a gorgeous orangey lilac by the time we came upon the marina.  A familiar looking bunch were sitting on a bench whilst flames danced before them.  Dear Gods! What was this!? Is it true that the Boat People had started their rebellion and had begun to overthrow society by burning all around them?  Don’t be daft! It was a bunch of Druids all sat before a BBQ and waiting for the meeting to begin.

Ragamuffin was our location and Tatterhood was our hostess.  What was supposed to be an evening on the topic of bones, had actually become something a little deeper (It’s ok Tatty, I didn’t tell anyone you’d thought it was NEXT week…. oops!).

I didn’t think to bring the Question Cards with me (Bad Herald! Go to your room, chant three Awens and recite Triads 12-24) which is when Tatterhood had a great idea: “How about we ask each other a question we’d really like to know about that person?” It didn’t quite work like that, but we had some interesting talks that just seemed to occur naturally.

Greenfingers was first, asking the Grove, about the meditation exercise of our own personal groves and does it keep on going or do we stabilise it?  After much comparing and prodding and discussing, we came to the conclusion that as a visualisation exercise, The Sacred Grove can actually change shape.  Yes we stabilise it and allow it to become familiar in our minds and subconscious, but it can also change depending on our mood and mentality at the time.

This lead on to the next question: What would be the best advice to anyone starting on the Druid Gwers?  We unanimously agreed on not worrying about trying to do it right.  There isn’t a right way per say, the only wrong way to do it would be of too much focus of trying to do it right.  This, as all conversations tend to do, went off on a tangent and we started talking about the Inner Child and the concept of play.  When we do ceremony, we are bringing something of ourselves out into the open.  We also leave ourselves open to inspiration (Awen).  When we do ritual, we are actually allowing ourselves to play.  Like children playing at being ‘cops and robbers’, through ritual we allow ourselves to play at being our Druid self.  This isn’t saying that we are faking it, not at all, this is saying that we use the inner child part of us to enact a role to make it believable and real.  This of course depends on our programming when growing up: We are told when we are doing something wrong and this creates a barrier in our mind that we should not or cannot do a thing.  Whereas when we allow ourselves to play, to set that inner child free… we break the barrier and convention and find we can do that thing.  Deep, huh?

We paused from this to see the gorgeous ascent of the Moon, starting at the low horizon behind the trees as a rusty blood red colour (a bloody sun and a bloody moon, hmmm…) and rising high and glorious as she became the silver goddess reflected in the water.

Strider revealed (in his lit-up wizards hat, which reminded one of something out of the Unseen University)

Rincewind?

Rincewind?

 

that he had found some more to a story of folklore from Lincolnshire regarding the Green Mist.  This went on to a talk about fairies and Tatterhood saying “They don’t like being called fairies, they are called fey…” So… next question was asked by us to her: Have you encountered The Fey and what are they like?

Tatterhood revealed that she has communicated with them and they are not tiny Cottingsley (which is where the connection from Lincolnshire lore to fairies came from) dainty things with wings.  Most are definitely humanoid in appearance, in fact most are human sized, but some can be huge or subtle, looking like a rock for instance (brilliant camoflauge when you think about it!).  Tatty revealed a conversation with a rock Fey who was ever so puzzled about the fascination Humans have with mobile phones…

My question was a bit boring as it was all about organising what The Grove wanted to do about filling in the wholes of our calendar: Any takers for the Alban Elfed ceremony? Did we want to try and do the Grove’s own Mummers Play from last year again?  It seems that the Mummers will only be done if we organise it in advance (I tried last year… I really did! LOL).  Cymro surprised us all when he felt inspired to take the Autumnal Equinox ceremony.  I am really looking forward to what he comes up with.

I’m also curious as to what ‘Cock Flavour Soup’ tastes like….

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As we ate the last of our sizzled food and huddled around the fire as it got a bit nippy, Dumbledore raised a very good question:  Compared to other traditions, how come we don’t leave offerings for the land?  I had no answer for this.  All I will say is that in future, perhaps it is something worth doing, it would mean we are then actually giving back to the land and makes sense to do.  As an act of taking note, I gave the last of my beer Old Peculiar to the spirits of the land, the spirit of the water and to the sky and Moon.

During the Three Sacred Breaths, as we drew a breath for the Spirit of the Place, the ducks replied quite loudly.  Offerings in future it is then!

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A curious tale of clairvoyants

“So it seems the clairvoyant was half right..”

I was talking to our farrier today. He’s a mid-level officer in two of the Freemasonic lodges in this area, and we often talk “shop” about various esoteric matters. Today he told me a curious tale…

When you turn at the crossroads onto the road that leads up to the hearth grove you may notice some horses in the field a little way up on the left. Our farrier was there plying his black smithery trade, chatting away to the owner. She, as she talked, was looking around distractedly. “Have you lost something?” He enquired.
“I can’t find the broom” said she, then followed with the statement, “I blame the Druids!”.
This, of course, piqued his interest. “Huh?” he eloquently encouraged her to elucidate.
“Just over a year ago, when visiting my sister, I went to see a clairvoyant” she said, “who told me to move my horses because Druids meet in the woods nearby and they are not to be trusted!”
He gagged a little but said nothing, despite knowing that we meet around that area.
“Apparently they don’t like women and are generally unpleasant” she continued, “I blame them for everything, a bit like blaming the gremlins!”
After a little more subtle questioning my Masonic friend discovered that the lady in question had no idea about Druids (past or present) and just thought the clairvoyant was “going all ‘Lord of the Rings’ on her.”
He, thankfully, chose silence on the subject.

So what do we make of this tale?
Are we making a beacon on the astral plane that the clairvoyant picked up on (even if her interpretation was wrong)?
Was it just an inspired guess?

One thing I do know is that I too have a gremlin-like bogey-man I blame everything on, someone not to be trusted, who hated women and was generally unpleasant. If in doubt I blame everything on Thatcher! Perhaps the clairvoyant was picking up on that as well..

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“My children of darkness, bring me all manner of unattended sweeping implements…”

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Lughnasadh Ceremony – Tipping Point

A belated post about our Lughnasadh ceremony 31 July, which we held at our very beautiful Hearth Grove.

At our January pub social ‘2014 planning meeting’ I’d hastily volunteered to lead the Lughnasadh ceremony, as I’d had a theme bubbling away in the cauldron for a couple of years for this. This had been inspired partly from a Lammas article I’d read in Pagan Dawn back in 2011 and the Chinese Five Element cycle, which I work with as an acupuncturist.

In the wheel of the year Lughnasadh is the last Fire festival, the first harvest festival and the festival that stands at the threshold between summer and autumn. In the Pagan Dawn article, Lughnasadh was referred to as the tipping point, between the peak of summer-fire growth in all its maturity, and the time of decrease and downshifting to autumn. Lughnasadh, as summer wanes, is where the journey really begins and energetically gets interesting, as we tip from the time of increase to the time of decrease from outer focus to inner focus.

To consider this tipping point from another perspective, I also asked our Grove to temporarily suspend our usual, western tradition ritual understanding that the Earth element represents north and winter.

In Chinese philosophy there are 5 elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) and 5 corresponding seasons. The Earth element governs and holds the energy of this time of year – Late Summer and is distinct from Summer-Fire. Earth and Late Summer is the time of bounty, abundance and harvest, as the Yang energy born in Wood-Spring and matured in Fire-Summer starts to decrease, passing its energy to Earth. Earth transforms the energy to nurture all of the elements and starts the move towards Yin and is therefore also seen as the pivot, the tipping point, the element of transition between Yang and Yin. The quality of Earth-late summer is a threshold time when Earth gives up its riches to nourish the inner part of the year. Earth is the cross-roads, mother of all elements, described in Daoist philosophy as making all change possible for all elements.

img_five-elements

So, in our ritual, we stood at the Earth-Late Summer tipping threshold, with one foot in summer, the other stepping in to autumn. Were we ready to make that journey? For some folk, this transition to the inner, yin, reflective half of the year is more difficult to negotiate than the opposite half of the year rushing towards light and growth. But we have all the growth and energy from the summer to sustain us on this journey.

So I led our Grove through a meditative visualisation of this journey from high summer, travelling from a sunlit hillside overlooking wildflower meadows and fields of ripe corn, down in to the valley in the west, towards a fruit laden orchard, the gateway to autumn. There at the gateway we paused, before stepping across the threshold into the autumn orchard to reap our harvest and reflect on:

What were we harvesting or reaping now to feed and nourish our onward journeys?

What were we storing or laying to seed for future growth in coming seasons?

And what were we letting go of, leaving behind to decay and nourish the Earth.

A gift of rowan berries was given to everyone and a chance to share and reflect on our personal harvest. Though events had conspired to mean we held our fire-ceremony without our usual ritual fire, we made our offerings in individual ways.

We then proceeded to have our ritual feast, abundant with seasonal produce and luscious home-made cake courtesy of Strider. Alongside our usual wondrous banter and flights of fancy, there was also a sense of mystery when Locksley, once again, saw a bright, fast moving light in the Grove sky; not a plane, shooting star, or the ISS! The mystery remains for another ritual, perhaps all will be revealed when the veil thins at Samhain.

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August Meeting 2014- Storytelling

 

River tuning D2's ukulele

River tuning D2’s ukulele

D2 was our gracious host for the evening as we invaded his rather splendid home for a night of tales from Sheffield, Norway, Lincolnshire, Oxford, Derby and Ireland.

 We began proceedings with saying our farewells to River, who shall be starting a brand new adventure in Ireland (although there is a good chance she might get another job over there and so this might not be her last meeting after all… she’s not getting ANOTHER leaving card, mind!).  We wish her well and expect lots of Guinness to be brought over when she visits!

 Waaaaaayyyyy back in January, I remember Strider suggesting I do an evening of storytelling for the Grove.  I decided that ‘The Locksley Show’ wasn’t the way to do this, so I made it a night where everyone could join in.  I was MC for the night, in other words.

 I began with a tale from my homeland, ‘The Dragon of Wantley’ the tale of a foul-mouthed and drunken knight who took on a dragon that was terrorising the people of Wantley (which it turns out may have been a corruption or amalgamation of two separate villages: Wharncliffe and Wortley).

This was the very first time I told this story and was relaxed enough to fill it with as many swear words as I liked.  “The dragon screaming in agony as it died in an explosion of its own defecation”  became a lot more colourful, shall we say.  The original story comes from a ballad that may have come from the 16th Century, to a tune that is now forgotten… D2 suggested we resurrect this with AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’:

‘Ahhhahaaa…..

Dragon!

Ahhhhaahaaaah

Dragon!

In the town of olllld Wantleeeeeeeyyyyy…

There was a dragon that killed gleeeefulllyyyyy,

Folks turned

to a knight,

 More of Morrrrreee Haaaallll,

He had spiked armor, a foul mouth and some bigbaaaallllssss

He went to the well.

The dragon did yell,

They fought like hell

The blood did spill

Until he kicked it…..

Uuuuhuuuup the ARSE!’

Dumbledore came next with the ‘Billy Goats Gruff” complete with songs we all joined in with and even agreed that that the original ending didn’t make sense… How does a goat carry two spears!?

 River, handed out items she no longer had any use for and broke in D2’s ukulele with two songs.

Apparently, the ukulele was out of tune to which Strider responded: “That’s all right, you sing in tune and we’ll listen out of tune to make the balance…

 Strider needs a public health warning! He is a dangerous punner and kept making puns that had real punch and lots…. lots of reference to the TARDIS, or was it TARDISES… TARDISI?

As punishment, I made him go next as he regaled us with a tale from Lincolnshire about a local king that was made a saint, but when his body was refused entry into the church (Cathedral?) lightning burst open the doors.  We chatted later and he has now been charged with finding out the tales of the Green Mist and the Green Children… both set in the same county.

 Briseilid read us a wonderful poem about Elen of the ways.  It sprung to my mind, the delicate beauty of a single snowflake and the beautiful pinky-blue vanilla skies you get in winter.  Very few poems evoke imagery or emotions in me, which is why I liked it and I like Cymro’s poems.

 Danceswithweasels read out the tale of tightrope walkers in Derby from the 18th Century! They were called ‘Funambulists’ and were all the rage.  Dances told us how they travelled around the country to walk on ropes attached to various high buildings and even tried to outdo each other with elaborate and even dangerous stunts such as one example called the ‘Flying Donkey.’  And of how the one who started it fell to his death, but the company kept going! I mean, that’s some serious street theatre.

 Dumbledore went again to tell us the unfortunate tale of Hoffnung (Yes, BOTH Strider and D2 made comments about David Hasselhoff…) and his pulleys and wheelbarrows filled with bricks… who’d have thought genius could be so dangerous!?

 I finished off with the tale of Oisin and Tir Na n’Og and even used real Gaelic phrases like ‘Fit as fuck…’ It’s TRUE… Cymro’s Welsh and backed me up….

 All in all, I think we had our very first proper Eisteddfod.  We have tried to do poetry nights before, with little success, but to have a night set aside for telling stories and poetry… needs to be done again.

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A Druid in the Aeon of the Child – fragment of a parole hearing..

Recently, both PCG and myself were asked to submit a statement about the OBOD course to be used in a parole application hearing of one of our US prisoner students. The following is part of my statement in which I’m trying to encapsulate and describes some of the aims of the course for a “mainstream” audience.

“One of the main focuses of the OBOD distance learning/correspondence course is to encourage students to examine, understand and ultimately harmonise aspects of their own personality and character; in doing so they are also encouraged to examine, understand and harmonise their relationship with their family, local community and society in general. Through self understanding and knowledge the student aims to become a more balanced and centred individual who can fully engage and be effective in the wider community. The course aims to achieve this by presenting the student with various practical, creative, philosophical and historical studies, combined with meditation and visualisation techniques, based on archetypal themes, concepts and symbolism overlaid on a framework of mythological, folklore and storytelling traditions.”

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