Beer! March meeting 2016

Beer

Meeting took place on Tuesday 12th March, 2016.

“The gods gave us alcohol so we can cope with our mortality”- Danceswithweasels on talking about Gilgamesh in his search for immortality.

We’d been trying for years to get Danceswithweasels to do a talk for the GOTC and she’s managed to get out of it so far, that is, until we pinned her down during the January AGM and got her to talk about the cultural significance of beer…. It was her idea, we just wanted to hear it.

Mixing her talk with storytelling, it made for an interesting session.  Where we learned that yeast (important for the fermentation process) wasn’t just treated as an ingredient, but as a creature in its own right.  Almost like a pet if you will.

The talk began with humankind and bees, because of honey being a natural source of sugar- the food of yeast.  Danceswithweasels went on to explain that mead was originally made with heather honey, which often came with a ‘fog’ that had psychotropic side effects.    No wonder the Scandinavians wrote about the ‘Mead of Inspiration’!
Also, Heather mead often came as thick and gelatinous and choc filled with protein, so much so that the Germanic people had a saying that a mead drinker could become just as strong as a meat eater….. That kicks Guinness’ arse right away!

The yeast was treated with respect and it was a custom of the Norse to give a portion of yeast on a stick to a newlywed couple so that each house hold could craft their own ales.  In fact, German law today still prohibits the transference of yeast out of the country as they take their yeast brewing very seriously…… That never stopped a certain Mr. Carlsburg from smuggling some out mind you.

Danceswithweasels gave us the stories of how Odin stole the Mead of Inspiration, and by doing so accidentally gave it to Humankind.  There was also the Finnish poem saga of the quest for certain ingredients to be be given to the ‘virgin with the dainty hands’.  This took some doing as it was a very long poem that often repeated itself with mnemonic devices; think of it as the Beowulf of the brewing instruction world and all the main characters were women and woodland creatures!

It appears that cultures the world over have discovered how to make alcohol in it’s myriad of forms, some including saliva to help the fermentation process.  And in almost every culture the making of the alcohol, in all its aspects, was seen as a reverential act.

And yes….. There were samples! Which Mr and Mrs Chutney enjoyed for allowing us to use their home for the meeting.  I might have enjoyed one, or two…. Alright more than several!

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Alban Eilir 2016

Near Space photography - 20km above ground / real photo

Near Space photography – 20km above ground / real photo

 

Ceremony took place on Sunday 20th March 2016

It’s not often we have more than one Druid (full Druid Grade, that is) attending our ceremonies.  So it was a welcome occasion to have Cthulhudruid back with in fold.  Teller (formerly Telleroftales) had only ever met Luch Dorca before, now he knows the stories are true!

There was also a ‘Welcome Back’ for Greenfingers after his operation earlier this year.

Strider had agreed to lead the ceremony this year and did so with his usual enthusiasm and gravitas. He took inspiration from the OBOD ceremony at Glastonbury Tor in 2014.  After his reading about the Equinox and the shift from darkness to light, we were led to create a spiral of energy whilst chanting:

Power of the Sun
Power of the Moon
Power of the Day
Power of the Night
Power of the Dark
Power of the Light

He also asked for the blessings of light (this was done with flash powder thrown into the Fire) along with blessings of the Earth in gifts of an Arthurian flavour:

Trefoil, Parsley and Celandine-  these were the gifts of Ygerne, Mother of Arthur.  In this ceremony she was also presented as Goddess of Spring.

A rounded clear quartz stone- the gift of Merlin and of insight.

The sword of justice- the gift of the Lady of the Lake, the guardian of the mysteries.

These three were placed upon our altar and we were invited to ask our own blessings of them.

With the circle all wound up and the box repacked, we held our picnic with friendly banter (the Cthulhudruid & Luch Dorca show, an entertaining display of sarcasm and repartee) and mead being passed around.

What was left of the fire was scattered around on the ground in order to cool, it was unfortunate that our newest initiate had chosen an hour later to sit on the ground….. In the ashes! Hereby earning her the name of Ashes….. Well I couldn’t go around calling her Ash-butt like I originally said on the night, could I?

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A Typical Druid? pt2: “With a rebel yell”*

Druid in the Aeon of the Child

Because we are unable to define a “typical Druid” by looking at the confusing modern use of ‘Druid’ as a title, or by looking at the vast array of beliefs and practices that come under the umbrella term of ‘Druid’. Perhaps we can gain a clearer picture by looking at the kind of people who walked the Druid path in the pre-Roman , early Druid renaissance, and in our modern eras.

From the few contemporary historical account that we have, and from the surviving myths and folktales, we can surmise that in pre-Roman Britain the Druids were a select social caste with a special place within their society. This is extremely significant in a highly structured, labour intensive, tribal dynamic where everyone must fulfil a vital role to ensure the survival and prosperity of the overall clan. For someone to become a Druid was to separate that person from “core”…

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Druidstone and Folklore – March Meeting 2016

 

Meeting took place on Tuesday 8th March 2016

druid_stone3

Image by http://www.igreens.org.uk

Cyberdragon led the talk after I had convinced (suckered) him into doing a talk for this year, being one of our new members and suggesting already a conversation on the subject- I thought it a prime idea for him to get stuck in.

He led a very interesting structure, starting with the ‘Druid Stone’ near Blidworth, Mansfield in Nottinghamshire.  The name ‘Druid Stone’ was only attached as recently as the 18th Century when it was fashionable to pin Druids to any weird looking rock.  The Druid Stone has a hole in its centre and there was the belief followed that passing children through the whole would cure them of Rickets.  The beliefs themselves can be traced to the 18th Century and considering the health of people from that time, it is very interesting to see what people were willing to believe:  Did it even work? Was it baloney? If it did work then was it the placebo effect (which kinda counts…. right?)

The same sort of beliefs were attached to St Catherine’s Well, in Newark.  After murdering a rival in love, disgraced Knight Sir Guy Saucimere caught leprosy during his travels and pilgrimage to the Holy Land and in a vision was told to return home where the waters of a spring there can heal his ailment.  He named it after the saint who had guided him home!

Being very careful to NOT include Robin Hood (doh! Sorry), Cyberdragon also went onto a bit more detail of the Hemlock Stone.  Another rock with many strange and wonderful associations attached to it, some even believe that Druids used to light Beltane fires on it!  But Cyberdragon told us a tale of the Devil who was so sick of the prayers and singing from Lenton Priory that he threw a great stone from Derbyshire… which subsequently missed.  Of course, if we look into English folk tradition, we’ll find this story repeated to many standing stones that had churches built near them.  The Devil! The enemy of God! The great tempter, devourer of souls…. one hell of a shit shot!

There was even a tale of witches- the wicked variety I’m afraid- where a young boy was captured by a cannibalistic old crone who got him no less than three occasions!  He escaped every time, but by the end of it I couldn’t help but think “Why didn’t he just give her the buttermilk like she asked?”

In contrast and in keeping with the Corieltauvi landscape, there was also the tale of the Wizard of Lincoln: A wizard summoned to help solve the crime of theft by him using magic to make the shadows of the three thieves appear so the farmer could identify the culprits; and he did this all in the form of a ‘large black bird’.

What’s interesting about this apart from Witches = Bad (Boo!) Wizards = Good (Yay!) is the fact it gives a little bit of lore here: That whereas witches could shape-shift into hares, wizards were said to shape-shift into crows!

Now, if one was to run away with this theme and go all romantic with it then you could possibly think that this harkens back to the times when the Druids of old could use their magic for women to shape-shift into hares and cats and the men into birds.  Birds were associated with the soul and because feathers were used as decorations of the bardic cloak known as a Tugen then this story contains a nugget, a seed, an atom of ancient lore.  Working with shadows?  Now that’s cool!

What I really liked about Cyberdragon’s talk was that apart from knowing the stories he used (we have the same source!), it was the encouragement of sharing the folk tales of other places: I told of the political meaning behind Sheffield’s ‘Dragon of Wantley’ ballad, Danceswithweasels told of Derby’s ‘Old Tup’  A ram so large that its eyes were the sun and moon, its teeth, the rocks on the Earth etc, Strider shared a little about the Lincoln Imp.  It seems that everywhere has their own tales, customs and myths.  Without them, I’d say the world would be a much more boring place….

 

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Soul Midwifery -February Meeting 2016

This meeting was written up dashingly well by our good lad Greenfingers…..

springdawn

Image by Anon, would love to credit the photographer!

Meeting –Tuesday 9th February 2016 Soul Midwifery

This evening brought members together to discuss the sensitive subject of death and the role of the Soul Midwife.

The subject was originally raised by Cymro ap Arthan at a meeting towards the end of 2015. An article by Kris Hughes in the Touchstone magazine had raised a few points that were then considered during the meeting.

A decision was made during the January meeting to follow this subject up with another discussion in February as to whether members of the Grove were able to bridge the gap between the bereaved family and Druidry of the deceased.

With this point as the foundation of the meeting we asked Briseilid and Lynxlady to expand on the role of the Soul Midwife as they had attended Kris Hughes course on this subject. It was apparent that this role was important but also requires understanding and commitment.. The Soul Midwife works to console the families, arrange the funeral and perform requested rituals by the deceased and would aid in any other concerns if required. They can also be called upon to comfort and communicate with the terminally ill. I may have missed some points but that was an overview from what I remember.

Members were then given the opportunity to voice their views and ideas on this matter.

Cymro felt the emphasis is to inform the immediate family of your wishes, this was agreed and to also write the details down including as much information as possible as guidance for the family.

Dumbledore commented that he had already done this and he had been in touch with the Co-op funeral service who provide alternative funerals, respecting the individuals wishes and will liaise with the chosen representative i.e. the Soul Midwife.

Greenfingers asked how families may have different ideas when it came to the funeral, they maybe of different faiths which could be a problem. It was hoped that people would respect the wishes of their loved one and if they contacted a Soul Midwife they would provide the guidance and understanding needed regarding the deceased s beliefs.

Other comments were voiced regarding how even as a Druid Grove we each have our own individual beliefs and would this be a problem for the Soul Midwife. Apparently not and the need to emphasise your own needs in the instructions left is the answer, even by writing your own rituals etc; this would be very helpful.

Eventually we reached the decision that none of us present were willing to make the commitment of becoming a Soul Midwife as we felt to do this you would have to be able to stand back to proceed and as we are all friends this would be most difficult.

Yes we would help were needed, but as friends not midwives. It was also recognised that it can be a full time occupation and very time consuming.

At this point if there are any members who did not attend this meeting feel they could take on this role feel free to pursue the training and knowledge required and inform the Herald (Herald agrees btw- Locksley. ;)) of your intention.

In conclusion, when a Soul Midwife is needed then we could provide the Heralds contact number(if acceptable) who will be able to provide details of reputable Soul Midwives.

The meeting came to a close as journeys were to be made, some had far to travel.

This was a positive and informative meeting highlighting the need for all of us to take responsibility if we wish to leave this life the way we choose.

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Imbolc 2016

Ceremony took place on Sunday 31st January.

image

Candle and Chalice: Fire and Water in the dark.....

Drizzle, drizzle, rain and drizzle, that and the blowing winds are what heralded the coming out of Winter.  The drizzle had stopped hours ago.

We had no fire (forgot to ask for one) to keep the flame going, so we pressed on in the dark.  Boxes 1, 2 and 3 were unavailable for use, so no ceremony gear.  With only a goblet filled with water and a tealight for the incense burner as we blessed the circle in the heart of the Grove, we carried on. Resilience was the fire that kept us going.  The symbols of Brighid were not lost on us.

Luch Dorca led the ceremony and spoke of the significance of the Serpent within Druidry: the symbol of healing and regeneration, land and sky, of the phallus and procreation, male and female energies.  And so he led us to create a serpent spiral to the centre of our circle where he read out a poem written with our words of the season:

Excitement and relief that new life is stirring in the earth and nature, all is renewed after resting.
In the bleakness of death and decay will the spark of light and life shine ever brighter.
Renewal.
A candle lit in the darkness; a breath promising spring.
Signaling the time of potential and growth following the reflection and hibernation of winter
The season of breathing in, and clear air.
Planning and waiting, waiting and planning the push forward is coming.
The love of the Goddess within the land.’

After this, there was an invitation to share any creative endeavours we will, individually, set out to achieve this year.

We presented the tokens of our Goddesses, or the women we were inspired by who we would make goddeses by chanting their names: infusing these tokens with intention and vibrations from our voices.  This was to help us have them as a reminder for our creative endeavours, for us to call on our Goddesses to keep us going.

Finally, we gave thoughts for those who could not be with us, especially:

Greenfingers for recovering from his operation.

Cymro Arthan for recovering from his injury.

Dumbledore for riding the wave of his Winter mood.

All of the Grove were given our thoughts; the fatigued, the distant, the busy, the joyous (congratulations Mr. Chutney!), the adventuring.

And in that moment of silence and company, the winds had stopped.  The dark was not oppressive, it was reflective and peaceful.  A reminder that the dark is not to be feared.

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A Typical Druid? Pt.1: “What’s in a name?”

(A shared post with “A Druid in the aeon of the child “)

I was recently working on an article when I found myself writing the line “not a typical Druid”. This stopped me in mid-flow as I paused to consider what I meant by a “typical Druid” and whether such a thing actually exists.

Historically “Druid” was a title with social standing attained through training and bestowed upon a person by their peers, and upheld by the general community. To reach the level of ‘Druid’ an apprentice had to go through years of arduous trials and training. A ‘Druid’ held a special place in society with accompanying benefits, but also responsibilities and duties. Everyone knew what a Druid was and what they did. Modern Druidry, however, is a lot more nebulous and ill defined. It doesn’t have the level of recognition or respect as its historical counterpart. Nor does it have any of the agreed structure or support in the general community. Outside the realms of Paganism, occultism and the ‘new age’ the title Druid is little understood or rarely used. And within the wider pagan community the term Druid can cover a wide range of practices and beliefs.

When thinking about a what would constitute a “typical Druid” I tried to imagine what the word “Druid” would mean to someone with little or no knowledge of the Druid Path. I quickly realised this meant more ‘what are the outward signs of Druid practice’. Probably the most obvious outward aspects of Druid practice – Divination, poetry, herbalism, solstice ceremonies, healing etc – are just parts of Druidry as a whole. And most of these stereotypical activities are actually the skills and practices of the Ovate, or are the storytelling, poetry and music skills of the Bard. The skills of the Druid grade are more subtle and less outwardly physical (teacher, philosopher, advisor, arbitrator, scholar etc) so are easy to overlook. The theme of ritual and magick runs through all of the grades.

The term ‘Druid’ can be nebulous, unspecific and confusing. Is someone who is actively pursuing the Druid path, who is practicing divination, a Druid or an Ovate? Traditionally the Ovates were the seers, healers and prophets. A modern Ovate is “one who studies or practices herbalism, healing and divination within a Druidic context.”* If person practicing divination, an Ovate skill, has achieved the grade of Druid then they are a Druid, if they have reached the grade of Ovate they are an Ovate. However, because they are studying and practicing on the Druid path, even if they have only reached the Bardic or Ovate grades and may be years away (if ever) from achieving the Druid grade, they are still in general terms called a Druid. And it’s very possible that a Druid who has completed the Ovate grade and has a rudimentary knowledge of divination, may never practice divination again but can still be recognised as both a Druid and an Ovate. Many bards, in general parlance, are Druids. All Druids have completed the Bardic grade so are technically Bards in the OBOD sense of “one who sees their creativity as an innate spiritual ability”*, although most won’t lay claim to that title because in general terms it refers to talented poet/storyteller or musician (even if you pre-loaded a tune into a deluxe easy to carry bucket I’d still struggle, although I flatter myself that at its very best my poetry might be classed as merely abysmal) However, some Druids are Bards. Most Bards aren’t technically Druids because they haven’t reached that grade in their training. … Bards are Bards; Ovates are Bards and Ovates; Druids are Bards, Ovates and Druids. Yet at the same time Bards and Ovates who haven’t reached the Druid grade are also referred to a Druids because they are on the Druid path.

Then of course there are different types or flavours of “Druidry” (reconstructionist or revivalist, Masonic, Charitable fellowships, mystical, Magickal, Contemplative etc). There are different Druid Orders emphasising different aspects and approaches. And there are many people who self ascribe their own spirituality as Druidry despite having only little or no formal training. Each individual on the path also brings their own spiritual history or influence into their Druidic practice such as Shamanism, Buddhism, Wiccan, Polytheism, Atheism, Christian, Thelemic, Native American and so on. Finally there is the question of is Druidry a religion, a spirituality, a living philosophy, or something else entirely….

In contrast to its historical origins modern use of the word ‘Druid’ is a strange mix of definitions and concepts. In one sense it is a specific title granted to those who have been initiated into the Druid grade. In another it is state of mind of the individual practitioner, lastly it is an all encompassing umbrella term used to describe anyone pursuing any of the large variety of flavours, expressions and practices of the ‘Druid path’.

Because the word ‘Druid’ is such an all encompassing umbrella term with countless nuanced practices and expressions, unless we use such broad and vague phrases as “holds nature sacred”, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint what constitutes a ‘typical Druid’ by looking at what they do or how they define and express their own beliefs and practices. Nor do I think we could discover a ‘typical Druid’ by trying to agree on a universal definition of Druid and Druidry as those on the Druid path would baulk at a restricted and limiting concept, and without limits the definition would be so vague and all encompassing as to render it comparatively useless…

So to define a ‘typical Druid’ we cannot look at what Druids do or what they believe. And we can’t give a clearer definition of Druidry without upsetting or alienating most of its practitioners. What we can do, however, is look at the character of the ‘Druids’ themselves.

This I’ll attempt in “A Typical Druid? pt.2 : “The secret of the Druids Prayer?”.

* OBOD Website

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