Double Whammy! March 2015 meeting and Alban Eilir 2015

Eisteddfod 2015 (Took place on Tuesday 10th March):

Following the success of last year’s Eisteddfod, and by popular demand, we held another night of stories, poems, music and puppets.  Even Lady Morgana and D2 were able to come along and enjoy the evening.

Vyvyan and Taleteller were our gracious hosts, allowing us into their lovely home for a night of entertainment.

Once we were settled in and got food we were ready to begin.

And once the puppets came out, the night began with jokes about fisting and ‘spreading the love’.  I would facepalm, but even though I didn’t start it, I did partake of this conversation.

Friends of Dumbledore: Rasputin the Wolf, Draco the Dragon (Small), Smaug the Dragon (Big), Quoth the Raven and Wol the Owl.

Friends of Dumbledore: Rasputin the Wolf, Draco the Dragon (Small), Smaug the Dragon (Big), Quoth the Raven and Wol the Owl.

Vyvyan kicked off proceedings with her acoustic rendition of Steve Goodman’s  ‘City of New Orleans’.  She did it beautifully and apparently has been criticised about her playing… Whoever did that to her deserves to be shot.  In the knee.  I’m not just saying this, she was brilliant!

Dumbledore was next, he brought some manouverable friends with him: Rasputin the Wolf, Quoth the Raven (I got to play with him for a while), Draco the (smaller) Dragon, Smaug the Dragon (greater) and Wol the Owl.
Dumbledore told us the story of ‘The Man Dressed as the Devil’ an amusing tale about a Mummer’s player who everyone believes is the Devil because of his costume.

Danceswithweasels played us a Pink Floyd track, then told us the real-life story of how her family became adopted by Spike, an emaciated Tom who grew to be a huge fluffy boy cat and feline bruiser!

Briseilid shared with us her words on the Northern Lights, or as they were called in this telling: Revontulet or ‘Fox Fires’ in Finnish.  Not quite a poem and not a story.  It was a painting of words speaking of frost and the beautiful, if spectral Aurora Borealis.

I told the story of Yallery Brown, a tale from Lincolnshire telling the dangers of contact with the ‘Fairy Folk’.  I had to get Strider to give some examples of the Lincolnshire dialect… Didn’t understand a word!

Taleteller lives up to his name and gave us the Welsh story of Gwythyr ap Greidawl and Gwyn ap Nudd, both fighting for the hand of the Lady, Creiddylad.  It was the first time I saw him in action and was blown away with how he engaged his audience and took us all into the realms of Arthurian myth.

Strider, last but not least, told us the Irish story of ‘The Soul Cages’ involving the strangest creature with the head of a fish, a humanoid body and wearing a hat as well as smoking a pipe!

It was a really good night and it was a shame I was sooooo tired as I felt I couldn’t take it in properly.  I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Alban Eilir 2015 (Took place on Friday 20th March):

What a day! The Equinox, a solar eclipse AND and super-new moon all on the same date.  I don’t know much about astrology, but from what little I do know, Friday was a whopper!  Apparently when I got to the Grove, Greenfingers told me he had to have a word with a van blocking the gate… the driver and friend were using our entrance as a dogging spot!

It was a cool and crisp night, the stars were out and we had the pleasure of having both Taleteller AND Vyvyan attend the ceremony.  About which, there seems to be a bit of a thing in our ceremonies: when calling the quarters, some of our callers are following the pattern of calling for peace in the quarters.  Whilst not a bad thing, it makes an interesting observation.

Being a special time, I wanted us to perform a ceremony that involved working with the Life-force of the universe, to absorb the creative potential of the equinox, to receive inspiration into the subconscious from the currents of the solar and lunar event.  And of course to tap into the energised stillness of the New Moon.  So I made this a ceremony about drawing the concept of Nwyfre from Earth and sky.  I was even inspired by a separate ceremony I was invited to on the day, so I borrowed the act of drawing the rune of the Sun on another’s forehead.  In so doing, I was inspired to say the words “Strider, may you be blessed on this day and on this night.”

Strider, after this part of the ceremony, told us of something he saw while we were drawing on Nwyfre and putting the call out to the universe for us to get in touch with our own personal power.  He saw life as what could be best described as a ‘Toilet Roll’. Where you could imagine a straight and pristine sheet as being a memory, a retaining of good experiences, whereas if we come across a bad one, we can tear it out and flush it away.  He put it way more eloquently than that, but I thought it a very good example of an insightful metaphor.

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February 2015 Meeting- How we use our Druidry…..

Gezellig Chutney was our host for Tuesday’s meeting.

After being tricked by Google maps at least twice, I eventually found my way from the tram stop.  It turns out Dumbledore’s Sat Nav point blank refused to accept Gezellig’s house number and Cymro Ap Arthan gave up after being led to Bestwood, but not where he wanted to be.  Half an hour of searching yielded no success so off he popped.  I don’t blame him.  It’s as though Bestwood in Notts, is some kind of Bermuda Triangle of the East Midlands.  This comes as no surprise though, the country park and forest contain things…. I’ve camped three times at the Country Park and there has been some very active phenomena in that place.  I have a friend who is a paranormal investigator who has taken some pictures of balls of light, the likes of which I have physically seen at the Hearth Grove.  And I ain’t talking specks of dust on the lens!

Anyway.  Upon entering Gezellig and his lady’s gorgeous home, I was very impressed by how spiritual it was.  It was like an indoor Glastonbury with Goddess artwork here and there, the odd Plant Oracle card (I loved how the one on show was Puffball, card of exploring the Mysteries) here and there.

Taken From The Druid Plant Oracle by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Artwork by Will Worthington

Taken From The Druid Plant Oracle by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Artwork by Will Worthington

Apart from Gezellig, his lady, Dumbledore, Strider, D2, Greenfingers and myself; there were fellow guests of Gezellig Chutney.  One of whom I already knew from Nottingham’s Pagan scene.

We were all smudged with burning Sage in order for us to leave today’s stresses behind and allow us to be in the right mind frame for tonight’s meeting.  Gezellig led what he called ‘Attunement’ we at the Grove normally call it the proceedings, and there were some rather impressive Awens.

He presented us with a weighty smoky-quartz which acted as a talking stick, so that we all get a say and all listen to one another as we shared our experiences of how we use our Druidry in our everyday life.  This varied from person to person, for one it was a way of being as they incorporated Druidry into their everyday life, using it as a full spirituality.  For another it was teaching the wisdom of the Natural World around us to children.  For another it was having the courage to pursue her creative endeavours, for others it was awareness of the world around us or being ethically minded or even an attempt at finding Britain’s spiritual source.

It was quite interesting that at least five of us found that since joining OBOD, our exploration of the Bardic course has indeed changed us.  Going back to the BBQ at ‘Ragamuffin’ when we first met Greenfingers, he was nervous and looking for validation as well as ‘the CORRECT way of doing things’.  Fast forward to six months on and he is calm in himself and has now even picked up and learned how to play music.  I don’t think he even worries about doing ritual and meditation by the book, because these things are individually experienced to all of us.

We then got into a friendly discussion into those people who don’t follow a respect for nature, do we help them? If so how?  How can we convince what I call a ‘Phone-Zombie‘ to stop gazing at their hand held device and actually look at the world around them? Apart from grabbing it and smashing it against the nearest brick wall?  There was no real easy answer for this, the best we could decide as an overall answer was to teach the children.  Because its the children who ask all the questions, and if we open their eyes to the world outside instead of on a screen, then they will ask their parents all kinds of things.  It is ironic I write this on my PC and will in turn send it so you can read it on whatever device is your interface.  Hi.  How are you? Stop for a moment and try this: Close your eyes and see what you can hear all around you.  What scents come to your nose? what can you feel?  Then open your eyes and see what is there.  Take in the colours, the the faces, the shapes.  this is your world too.

How do you use your Druidry?

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Imbolc 2015

The shadowy druids looked on from their darkened hoods, their eyes glistening with malice as the poured the blood into the fire.  A baby’s cry pierced the silence and the golden sickle was revealed….

Is NOT how it went.

Sorry, bit of dark humour there.  Hello! Merry Imbolc!

The Imbolc ceremony we had took place on Tuesday 3rd Februaury 2015 on the night of the full moon! And a gorgeous night it was too.

winter-moon-523344-sw

Photo by Michael S. Yamashita, National Geographic.

Yes, it was cold, the sky was open and showing the Moon and stars, the air was chill and the ground still had frost and even the remains of snow.

During our planning in January Imbolc had no one leading it, so as soon as I told the other members of the GOC I had an idea, that was it.  Go me.

I wanted to work with the idea of ‘lactation’ being the literal translation of Imbolc.  So I wanted to include milk in the ceremony.  According to the Order, especially in the Druid Plant Oracle, Druidic practice used the offerings of milk and honey to give thanks to the Gods.  I rather liked the idea of that, last year I performed this on a separate Imbolc ceremony from the Grove. I dedicated it to Brighid and I got my answer, it just took a BIG push for me to do what I needed to.  So this year, I wanted to do something similar but not to any specific deity.  Following recent talks with the Grove members (good talks, lots of interesting and revealing informative talks!) I have come to accept that not all members of the GOC worship or honour deities.   So I kept it general.

When setting up, me and Strider worked with the stars and were a little confused when North turned out to be in a slightly different place.  Luch Dorca even questioned this (quite rightly), but no! According to the Pole Star and my compass… North was indeed THAT direction…. we’d been doing it slightly wrong for a few years.  Whoops!

I’d requested folks to bring lanterns, this was because I wanted us to have a bringing in of the light.  That and it looked cool.  There was no wind and the fire was burning brightly.  Yes! An actual fire compared to last year’s sorry attempt at lighting one (that was one of mine, too).

I gave a little talk on Imbolc being a time of the harshest part of Winter, yes the nights were getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean it was getting any warmer.  Imbolc marks the ending of the season and the arrival into Spring and I wanted this to be an actual celebration of giving thanks, instead of asking for something in the New Year.  I  knew 2014 was a bad year for quite a few people of the GOC, myself included.  In fact I’ll say it as it is: It was a right bastard!  But, there were things we could still be thankful for and it was these things, great and small, I wanted to reflect on.  It was these small flames of hope in what was an otherwise dark year that kept us going I wanted to be thankful.  So with an oat biscuit, a smidgeon of honey and a pouring of goats milk onto the earth, I gave thanks to Brighid in her Smith aspect.  It was her that allowed me to forge my getting back on track to being a performer.  Part of that forging process had my life change completely!

Others gave their thanks and offerings, all were honest and heartfelt and I was proud to be amongst such friends who could feel comfortable enough to share their gratitudes whether it was deity, friends and family, the Grove, a project.  Those who didn’t share, no problem, the whole thing was voluntary anyway.

Briseilid revealed she found the Goat’s milk funny because it reminded her of being given it fresh (literally, from a milked goat!) when she was much younger.  Luch Dorca didn’t find it funny… all the honey had oozed all over the altar cloth.  Sorry.

This was Vyvyan’s first ceremony with us and she seemed to enjoy herself and even joined in the banter.  Hopefully we’ll have both her and her husband, Taleteller, with us for Alban Eilir.

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Foxy People- January 2015 meeting

Meeting took place on Tuesday 13th Jan.

image

Lord Scuzzbucket "Buffy" Mortimer- Fox... And part of Cymro's head.

Here we are! Our first meeting in the New Year.

We had originally planned this to be in the GHW, but due to some members arriving by train (myself included), I followed a suggestion to relocate it somewhere closer.  So I did, I relocated us to the Fox & Hounds in Syston.  This was much closer than the original half hour walk, leaving more time for this year’s planning.

Looking on the F&H website, I booked us The Snug all to ourselves… Good thing too! The place was packed! There were men playing dominoes in the snug next to ours, people watching football and just general loud conversation.

Right, first thing’s first! The F&H do pie, but don’t be fooled! It’s that false pie pretender that’s basically stew in a bowl with puff pastry on top; still delicious, mind.

Once all available bodies had turned up and in between taking our orders, we went through the list of dates and went through who would like to do what and when.

My near perfect list of dates was found wanting— Tatterhood pointed out I’d put the Spring Equinox in April! Whaddya mean the March Equinox takes place in March!? It does?…. How rude! ;D

Either way we have padded most of the year out, there are still a few more meetings and ceremonies to claim, but that shall come with time.

Watch this space!

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A Druid in the Aeon of the Child – a fragment concerning astrology and divination

The following are some brief thoughts about astrology and the nature of divination taken from an ongoing email conversation.

“…Like you I’ve never really ‘gelled’ with astrology. I find that it can be a useful, within limits, as a categorisation system for personality and behaviour types; and, through its elemental symbolism, it can be neatly worked into Tarot and Qabalah. However, personally I find it, as a system, too dry and cumbersome to have more than a passing interest in. And to be totally honest I just can’t get behind the premiss of it. To my understanding all divination works by using various symbolic techniques to ‘circumvent’ the controlling rational mind and tap into the observational subconscious to recognise and bring into focus certain patterns of behaviour and circumstance, so that we, the practitioner, can have a greater awareness, and therefore control, over our immediate surroundings and decision making processes. For this process of ‘circumnavigation’ there must be an strong internal connection or understanding of the symbolism used (this is why the overall themes of Tarot are fairly universal, but there are many different artistic interpretations and themed decks. These ‘themed’ decks will appeal to different people depending on how strongly they identify or connect with the symbolism used i.e.. The Druid tarot, the cat-people tarot, fairy tarot, etc). And there must be at least a plausible ‘belief’ in the ‘internal logic’ of the system mechanic itself. Try as I might the symbolism of the classical zodiac just doesn’t fire me up, and I really have to argue myself into a position where I can claim any ‘plausible belief’ that the orbits of planets millions of miles away, passing in front of abstract clusters of stars billions of light years away, can have any bearing on my life as an individual. My advice would be to become familiar with the basic concepts and themes because they are referenced time and again in other paths and workings, but don’t worry too much about practicing it if it doesn’t ‘sing’ to you :)”

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Double Whammie: Samhain 2014 and November Meeting 2014

Samhain 2014

(Took Place on Sunday 2nd November)

Ah, another year and Samhain had arrived in haste.  It was warmer this year, I remember it being so cold in 2013 that you could see our torches shivering in our hands.  It was wetter this year too, similar to Beltane, there was rain in the air.  That’s alright it just means the Otherworld is closer.  Appropriate really.

Samhain for the GOC is usually a night for initiations, without giving too much away I am very pleased to announce Strider and Dumbledore are now FULL members of the Grove.  Welcome, gentlemen! there’s no going back now…

I was proxy to swearing in for LadyMorgana, Leithin Cluan, Glamorgan, River and Tatterhood.  And of course, positions were passed on: Strider became sword-bearer and I fully accepted the role of Herald.  Luch Dorca still carries The Box… hopefully someone will take it next year, eh Luch?  We still have an opening for whipping boy/girl, but apparently no one’s up for it.  I can’t imagine why….

Green Winter King was our MC for the night and recreated his beautiful bi-circle.  This consisted of our usual circle having a path leading from the East, outlined with tea-lights, to another circle where the ritual fire was kept.  Thinking about it, the imagery reminds me of William Stukeley’s ‘Serpent’ worship ideas…

Anyway, in the prime circle, we were all asked to bring something from our ancestors with us.  This could be a solid object, a word or phrase or even a memory.  Mostly, we brought memories with us and spoke them out loud.  There were a few who had brought actual items.  Fortunately, the rain clouds dispersed at the beginning of our ceremony and even the stars made their appearance, at least until towards the end when it started spitting again.  We were also asked to bring a piece of paper with us for something written on that we wished to be rid of.  The idea was, when we were ready, to walk up the path in the East and ask the Cailleach to help us be rid of whatever we no longer wanted.  We would do this by burning our individual notes.  I had no paper prepared, so I said a prayer to the Cailleach and offered her tobacco which I cast into the flames.

For the GOC, Samhain is the time of the Cailleach, Winter is her time and along with wisdom, she brings death.  In our ceremony’s case, this means letting go of unwanted habits, feelings, etc.  Asking her to help us is to embrace the cold and ice, allowing us to prune away that which we no longer need or hold us back.

November Meeting 2014

Took place on Tuesday 11th November in the Gate Hangs Well.  Way back in January when we had our planning for the year ahead meeting it turns out we had totally missed out holding a meeting on this particular date.  I only noticed because I was looking at my schedule and thought ‘Who’s leading the next meeting? Oh shit!”  So, Danceswithweasels had the brilliant idea of going to our usual haunt when all else fails… the GHW.

I brought the Question Cards with me and we drew three cards which lead to some very interesting conversations indeed.  I’m going to present the questions for you to read and if you feel like answering here on the blog, you are very welcome to do so (Go on! Lets make this fun!):

1: Does God/Goddess/Deity have a soul? Tatterhood.

2: What’s the meaning of life? And indeed the point of it? Do we simply exist? Strider.

3: Synchronicity, is it coincidence or work of the gods? Locksley.

Number 1 got us talking about what do we mean by soul? What classifies as a soul or spirit?  What do we mean by God/Goddess/Deity if we indeed believe in any?

Number 2 had us discussing existentialism and chaos.  Are we, as a planet, simply the result a great accident of compounds and matter in the universe? Is there a purpose in life? Does there have to be.  Tatterhood’s belief is very similar to my own in that we were meant to be the caretakers of this world and of the other species we cohabit with.  If true… how very lost we have become.

Number 3 went full circle and got us talking about the Gods, Deities, life, the universe and everything all over again.  I can’t remember if we actually discussed this point, but I’d like to bring it up as food for thought.  If random events happen in our favour, then what if the Chaos Magicians are right: we are in fact our own Gods and the manipulation of events to create a favourable outcome is actually down to our very own natural ability to shape our existence…. Magic!

 

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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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