Imbolc 2016

Ceremony took place on Sunday 31st January.

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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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Digital art and stuff

A few pieces of digital art and photo manipulation.

A Druid in the Aeon of the Child
  
  
  
  

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Minutes of January 2016

Meeting took place on Tuesday 12th January 2016.

Bingham was our choice of meeting after Cymro suggested it as it is easy to get to by vehicle and train by all lands of the Corieltauvi.

The Butter Cross is a Wetherspoons pub, and was perhaps a little loud for our meeting, but by the time we finished eating, having fags and getting pudding in, it was quiet enough for us to begin.  And I had an agenda all set up……

Facebook Group:
The FB Group has now gone from ‘closed’ to ‘secret’, the reason being we had an influx of people asking to join the group who were neither Druids or of the Order.  Quite simply the GOC is an OBOD Grove for OBOD members and if people are curious about Druidry then they can still contact us on: herald@groveofthecorieltauvi.org
On this point, new members will be added to the FB only after we have actually met them.

New Roles:
Meeting Facilitator
I proposed the need for a facilitator in our meetings.  Because our membership has grown, we’d like it if everyone had a say.  The facilitator is there to make sure we stay on track and that we don’t go on too long about any one point (for eg, “Locksley, that’s a brilliant fact about badgers, but Vyvyan has a question for our speaker….“).  The facilitator will be in addition to the speaker of the talk or workshop and can be in the meeting.  This is so everyone gets a go and who is to be facilitator of that meeting will be agreed at the beginning of the meeting.

Motion: Passed and titles for it were banded about, agreeing that the facilitator can call themselves whatever they wanted.

Celebrants
The Grove had been asked to perform a handfasting at the last minute.  And because it was in between Christmas and New Year’s, none of our qualified folks were available. 
It turns out any of us can in fact perform any rite (handfasting, naming ceremonies, house blessings, etc) as long as we are comfortable in doing so.

Motion: Passed, if anyone contacts the Grove using the above email address, the Herald will pass it on to the Grove to see if anyone is willing and available.  In short, same as usual.

Soul Midwives
Cymro brought this up towards the end of 2015 and because there was no conclusion, I thought it important enough to bring up again.  Quite simply, we aren’t getting any younger and so when the time comes when one of us ‘shed’s the mortal coil’, we’re going to need people within the Grove to help bridge the gap between family and Druidry of the deceased.  This isn’t just saying a few words at the funeral, this is providing a service to the bereaved, even getting in touch with authorities.

Motion: Passed, although to go into detail, we’re going to have another meeting to discuss how we want this to work within the Grove.

Subs:
For those new to the Grove, it may come as a surprise that we do in fact collect subs from our members.  This is to pay for things like incense and charcoal for The Box, any replacement ritual materials (the last ones being a new goblet to replace the wooden bowl which had split as well as the new fire pit), candles, wood for the fire, etc.  Members can pay how much they want whenever they can and can do so in confidentiality if they do so choose.

Motion: Passed, the current count before the meeting shall be split between Luch Dorca, for upkeep of the website and Dumbledore for reimbursement of the materials purchased for construction of the Grove Banner as well as the table he purchased for our stand at Pagan Pride ’15.
Mr. Chutney generously started this year’s contribution, which now presently stands as the current amount.

Grove activity list
Has been devised by the members present in the meeting.  Herald shall release this information soon.

Any Other Business:
Grove events have stopped inviting members, so will find a way around this.

Cymro also proposed that the dates agreed are the dates now set.  If members cannot attend then that is that.  If someone has to cancel from running a meeting or ceremony then please tell us in ADVANCE.

Motion: Passed.

Plans of forming the Awen Empire
Not particularly doable or affordable as the subs have been restarted.

Motion: Ignored.

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And now, to cope with the boredom of minutes, here's a photo of a cat in Nottingham's Kitty Cafe!

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Alban Arthan 2015

Ceremony took place on Tuesday 22nd December.

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Mistletoe on a post Solstice day, bright Sun and red berries amidst the Rowan.

As we sped through the rain, I did ask the question to Dumbledore, Telleroftales and Vyvyan: “Are we actually going to do a ritual tonight?” As the car was under attack from every raindrop in the world.  Some even had ice within them.

We bagan to formulate Plan B and it was decided that when we arrive, we shall tell everyone who was there that Plan B would kick into effect…. But only if nothing was set up.

Arriving to the Grove Hearth and seeing all the empty vehicles, our hardy brethren had indeed set everything up…. The show WILL go on.

And I am so glad it did! If it’s one thing anyone cannot say about the GOC it’s that we are definitely not a fairweather only group.  The fire built, the rain steady, we proceeded with the ceremony.

I wanted to acknowledge that we need darkness and light and that even though we were standing together at the longest night, like the fire guttering in the rain, we could keep an ember within us, to keep us going.  So I got everyone to think about what was their victory of 2015? And we shared them.  And then opening up a jar of sugar, I invited everyone to take some sugar into their hand, and make a vow to themselves about what they will achieve in 2016, casting the sugar into the fire.  Have you ever cast sugar into the fire? it flares up and looks really dramatic!

After that, Telleroftales was kind enough to give us all a sprig of mistletoe each, or more, for he had lots!
We shared some thoughts about the Solstice and packed everything down to enact Plan B.  PUB!

According to Luch Dorca, our Awens needed less barritone, and I need to sing higher…. I’ll get him back for that.

In the Priory, we enjoyed warmth and dryness and even got to know our newest member, Cypher (it took ages to think of a name, but we got it in the end!)

I did, at one point invite Greenfingers and Cymro to share any poems they may have prepared, it wasnt until we were all warm, safe and dry that Cymro shared this with me, and I’m glad he did:

YULE

Out we strode one Autumns morn, axes in hand needing to fell a tree for the gods and goddess of the land
Searching for the Yule tree a log to burn throughout the solstice celebrations
A ceremony not for one night nor of two but for 14nights until the shortest day
Trunk to burn bright until years end we celebrate the coming of a new rising sun,
Known to all as Yule from that night the days are growing
Winter wains as the Holly kings power, and the Oak Kings strength grows.

The conclusion of another year comes  we wait for the sun to stand still
They have fought since high-summers eve after the setting of the Summers travels
Day-light has shortened as the holly strengthened until the coming of another year
From Yule, night, the darkness will be shorter, so gather together sing songs of love
A rebirth will began, the Oak King will return on a new day that comes after three days of rest before Yule-Tides night
The battle of Holly against Oak, cold against warmth, snow, ice against sunshine
and heady summers days
For three days the Sun will rest as its Southeastern journeys ends, setting low on the horizon

Arianrhod’s Spiral Castle, surrounds the Pole Star a place of souls after their last breath
Therefore the Corona Borealis circles the way North guides the Sun as the new journey begins lasting until its zenith in another six months time?
They, came to behold the womb of darkness to witness a birth of a new year of life as the colour of the land changes and becomes summer
So to you I say and to yours I sing to the glory of the goddesses as her new child is born and the coming of Spring.

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December Meeting 2015

Meeting took place on Tuesday 15th December.

The Gate Hangs Well at Syston, Leicestershire has seen many meetings of the GOC in its time.

It has seen us vacate a room talking about dildos, stare at vicars and eat insects.  But never had it seen us perform as an orchestra!  Well…. I say orchestra….

We got to see our lovely Tatty again, with all the colours in her hair, I even pimped her blog for the Grove to see.

Business had to be dealt with, and answers were thus:

Who’s running the Solstice Ceremony?
– Originally me and Danceswithweasels put ourselves down for running it, but it appears Danceswithweasels might not be able to make it…. Walked into that one didn’t I really?

If everyone has seen the request for a member of the Grove to perform a handfasting between Boxing Day and New Year’s, is anyone able to do it?
-Sadly had to decline as none of the qualified members were available during the required time.

Seeming as the road to the GHW will be closed at the time of our General Meeting in January, any suggestions for a neutral spot we can all get to?
-After suggesting Nottingham, Beeston, Syston (different pub…. Shhhhhh!) Cymro had the idea of Bingham as the Meeting spot.  Easy to get to from all Corieltauvi lands, and even by train.  All we need to do now is a li’l bit of research and we should be sorted.

Our newest member asked if any of us had any interest in performing music, had he been able to join us on Tuesday he would have been amazed, nay! Astonished!

Strider got us some crackers each with a whistle and a number.  Each whistle differed in length and pitch.  As we found our numbers, Strider then conducted our medley with great aplomb. We worked through ‘Three Blind Mice’ and ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ before folks disappeared to have very timely cigarettes.

See you at Glastonbury!

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Dumbledore regretted his choice of doubling up.....

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Hoodoo- November 2015 Meeting

Meeting took place on Tuesday 10th November

This meeting was supposed to have taken place in September, but Leithin Cluan was busy with her PHD work, and so it was rescheduled for this month instead.  And it was worth the wait.  Not only did we get to spend time with our distant sister, but she brought a talk on Hoodoo with her.

Hoodoo is a wonderful mish-mash of ceremony and folk magic coming from the West Indies and America.  What made it even more fascinating was that this is a magical system from Black American culture, being a part of their lore, history and even music.  So as well as giving us a glimpse of that world, Hoodoo seems to take influences from traditional African folk practice, Native American themes and there are even parallels to British folk magic (the use of poppetts and herbs).  Some writers have even gone as so far to claim that some of Hoodoo’s practices were originally Celtic in origin, but Leithin was quick to point out this is debatable at best and Western arrogance at worst.  I am paraphrasing, of course.

I’m sure we all took something from the talk, but what really stuck with me was that Hoodoo had similarities to animistic ceremony and Chaos Magic.  One of the practices consisted of what was called a ‘Mojo Bag’.  The idea being that you carry a bag filled with items (say coins, tokens, roots of certain plants- roots are a big thing in hoodoo) to help you with a particular thing.  A spirit is invited to enter the bag and help you, you carry the bag with you wherever you go and keep it fed with alcohol.  So, by making a Mojo Bag, you treat it as alive to keep it going.  This sort of echoes the personal totems that Native Americans were said to use (any verification on this would be most welcome).  And why is it like Chaos Magic? Because Chaos Magicians believe they can draw magic from anywhere, anything and use any image as a focus.

Hoodoo is also great for using any bits from your kitchen, even your own body if necessary (hair, nails, menstrual blood, semen, etc).  There is a great reverence for the dead and links to the ancestors.  Should grave dirt be used for any working, then payment must be given.

There was a workshoppy bit, inviting us to have a go at making ‘Honey Jars’: Writing our intent and name on paper then keeping it in a small jar of honey or sugar.  The spell isn’t activated until the candle on top of the jar is lit over a course of days or nights.

Leithin showed us a few photographs of some Hoodoo candle altars, and they are a thing to behold! Sometimes there are many different candles lit for many different spells at any one time.

One thing I will echo Leithin on is if you want to really learn about Hoodoo, go and contact a Black Southern State practitioner, because it’s from their culture and background; you will find things that our Western White perspectives will not fully understand.

This was also the very first meeting we met our Newcomer, and I hope he joins us again in future.

Photo by Murphy Hunter.

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