Druidry talk: Connla’s Well

This month, we gathered at Dumbledore’s home to discuss Druidry! Greenfingers, Cyberdragon, Velvet, and I turned up, with Locksley joining us late.
Dumbledore had been doing some digging into the story of Connla’s well, and walked us through his research. There’s a variety of versions of related myths, Corylus_avellana_lindman_3where hazel trees grow about the well and drop their hazelnuts into the water, which feed the salmon who dwell within. Nuts, salmon, and water from the well grant wisdom and poetry. However, there also seem to be taboos about how it can be accessed, and in some cases people have been turned into rivers!

We started off discussing different ways to make sense of the myth. What is it saying about how wisdom and poetic inspiration can be attained? What are the many ways that we can read it? There was some discussion of the myth of Taliesin in this context… unsurprisingly!

From here, we broadened into a wider discussion of Druidry. Dumbledore floated the question, how much do we as a group care that Druidry was, in his terms, made up by a bunch of hippies in the 1960s? Apart from my objection that large parts of Druidry were made up by a bunch of hippies much earlier than the 1960s, it didn’t seem to bother many people that much of Druidry is quite “new”. We had a discussion around belief versus actions — as an OBOD grove, our members believe a wide variety of different things. However, we do have a shared body of practice that we can call on, in the study of the Bardic Grade, and the seasonal celebrations. We are a community of practitioners, not dogmatists, and we can evaluate the effects of that practice on our members to see if what we’re doing is having a positive effect.

This led into a discussion of how studying Druidry has affected our own lives. There was a lot of talk about the study of the Bardic grade, and what it had meant to us, including the changes that we had gone through over the course of our study. Some of these changes were subltle; others were much less so! These included rekindling creative pursuits, and realising parts of our lives that weren’t working for us. Dumbledore shared that he had found himself driven to plant tomatoes!

It was a really pleasant evening, and lovely to hear the members of the Grove talking so clearly about what Druidry had meant to us, in our own lives. It was clear that studying the Bardic Grade had been a meaningful experience for all of us.

(Image Carl Axel Magnus Lindman, Corylus avellana, Hassel [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
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Double Whammy:Thing! March Meeting and Alban Eilir 2017

Meeting took place on Tuesday 14th March 2017

It’s been a while since we saw Thorsson (aka D2) and we also had a large attendance with: 

Danceswithweasels, Teller and Vyvyan, Cyberdragon and Velvet, Greenfingers, Strider, Dumbledore (welcome back!), Briseilid (also welcome back!) and myself.

Thorsson did tell us that his plans to construct a talk about all things Viking and Saxon had actually gone under, but instead we settled into an Q&A session instead, with Teller leading the questions (this came about naturally, might I add). 

Thorsson began by explaining a ‘thing’ was an old term for a community meeting, especially one where people could discuss matters to be presented or even solved.  Laws could be made at these also.  An ‘Althing’ was a similar meeting on a larger scale, as attendance from all surrounding areas and neighbouring counties would be present.   He then touched upon how Iceland was the last Scandinavian island to become Christian, not because of submitting before the Christian God, but because all neighbouring folk were now Christian and they would not trade with Pagans.  Makes you wonder how many other people took on the newer religion because of trade….. 

More importantly, Thorsson, told us the tale of how he started doing a course on Druidry and asked how he would know who his god is.  After numerous pieces of advice, it wasn’t until Thorsson was one day driving his car when there was a storm raging outside, with the clouds thick and black and lightning flashing that he thought ‘Thor’.  He bought a hammer pendant (Mjolnir) to wear and it has felt right to do so ever since. 

Thorsson also explained that he doesn’t see Thor like the superhero in the movies, he sees him as a god of the community.  And seeming that Thorsson does a lot of work in Nottingham’s Pagan community, this is rather apt indeed. 

Other discussions (as inevitably happens when the GOC get together- Thank you Teller for keeping us on topic!) included: 

How would our Germanic ancestors dealt with anger in a situation of being wronged?  

Do Pagans need a path to follow? 

Is the reason that certain stories from a people (Norse, Irish, Native American, For example) which don’t make sense is because when written down, we have lost or don’t have the cultural meaning as a modern audience? 

Aren’t cathedrals brilliant?  Especially the engineering thought that goes into building them! 

Alban Eilir

Ceremony originally took place on Sunday 19th March 2017

Ever had that feeling of time running out when you thought you had plenty? Yeah, that’s how I felt when, at the above meeting, I was reminded about the ceremony….. I was convinced there was another week!  So, in answer to Strider’s question of “Whose run is it?” I consulted the Oracle (my smartphone with the appropriate diary entries entered) and patted his shoulder as I said “My friend, it’s you.” 

The marking of the Equinox (speaking of smartphones- I’ve just had to program in the word ‘Equinox’ despite it recognising “equinoxes” and “equinocti”.  Anyhoo….) Was indeed led by Strider, whom had split the ceremony into three parts: me to lead the opening, him to do the middle and Vyvyan to lead the closing bit.  I felt that worked very well.  Especially as, besides us three, there was only Cyberdragon and Greenfingers and they each took on a quarter.  Something for everyone! 

As we stood around the fire, we could see how far it’s light stretched.  And in the distance to the East was the pink glowing horizon of civilisation.  Compared to the palpable darkness of Imbolc, we actually could feel the shifting of the year and the heralding of the lighter nights to come. 

Strider spoke of the awakening of Spring and how our ancestors must have looked forward to its return.  With food stocks beginning to dwindle and the buds beginning to sprout, now was the time for planting and sowing for the harvest to come.  The return of the birds, and the population boom of the hares at this time of year also.  Strider spoke of the country ways when his father would take some moorhen eggs to eat, but would always leave some behind for the population to remain.  I couldn’t help but wonder if a city-dweller (of which I am one) would have had the same consideration.

He also gave the West Country story of the Goddess who came to visit animal kind and was so taken by the gift of a hare’s decorated egg (it was the only possession it had, y’see?) That she took on the hare’s form to be her sacred animal guise. 

Even the light rain around us felt more like a blessing, for without the rain can no growing thing be.  

We discussed many things about what Spring meant for us; what struck me was how energised we all were by it. Exciting and rejuvenating times indeed, especially after the long and dark winter we have just had. 

On the subject of giving offerings: 

Me: I give tobacco, or milk and honey if I can. 

Greenfingers: I use birdseed. 

Cyberdragon: I give alcohol.

Greenfingers: Well, birdseed isn’t cheap!

Mead made, supplied and printed by Cyberdragon!

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Double Whammy: Imbolc and Eisteddfod 2017

Eisteddfod took place on Tuesday 14th February. 

Silver Bear hosted the evening in her lovely home, so we have her, her husband and Maisy the dog to thank for allowing us to express our creative sides. 

Strider kicked off the proceedings with the tale of ‘The Great Bell of Peking‘. The story of a bell maker charged by the Emperor of China to make the biggest and most beautiful bell, only for two versions to break and the third remained whole by the self-sacrifice of the Bell Maker’s daughter.  Strider told this with his usual gravitas and slight political bent (“….for there are many bell-enders in Parliament”).  The story ends with the bell making the peculiar ringing of “dong-shoe” when it rings….. Prompting Teller to come out with the follow-up anecdote about the Emperor’s son who tried to remove the bell, but the public fought back with the song “Dong-shoe want me baby?” 

I know, right? 

Greenfingers was next, with his bongo drums and poem, which he read to the rhythm of the drum.  Strider acted as lectern, allowing Greenfingers to drum with both hands and read out the poem.  The poem was called ‘Beating of the Drum‘ describing a dance to the beat of a Shaman’s drum as the fire burned.  With the playing of the drums and the rhythm of Greenfingers’ voice, I was reminded of the Iambic Pentameter used in Shakespearian performance.  And the best thing?  He wrote it only earlier on that evening! 

Teller wanted us to tell a lovely love story about a young lady and shepherd who fall in love only for her parents to marry her off to an older miserly tailor.  After the intervention of an extremely benevolent king pulling thimbles of precious metals out of the water (some serious David Copperfield stuff going on there!), she was reunited with the Shepherd who was also pulled out of the water by King Copperfield, leaving her mean and miserly husband to drown.

During the interval, Silver Bear performed admirably as hostess, making sure we were all fed and watered. 

Danceswithweasels kicked of the second act with Gershwin’s ‘A Foggy Day‘ with her saxophone.  To me, the jazzy and heady tune conjured images of huge cities covered in lazy morning fog, seeping from the ground as though to cover the roads in a shroud of mystery.

Vyvyan shared with us her collection of poems, each of them was like a painting in the mind’s eye, the words merely the paint brush that revealed the image as a moment caught in time. ‘The Potter’s wife‘ showed life and creation can be symbiotic.  The juxtaposition of suppressed energy of waiting for the end of the long quiet night, with its usual interruptions in ‘The Late Shift‘.  ‘Mahanoy City 1948‘ linked all the details of the city to people, each a story of their own. ‘Windborne‘ told us of how we can be free in the wind amongst the world, becoming the elements around us as we touch them. 

I told the story of Tam Lin, I told this for a Burns’ Night a couple of weekends previously.  Seeming today was about love, this seemed to fit nicely: sexual innuendo, determined lasses who can hold a lion and red hot metal and all. 

Imbolc 2017 

Imbolc took place on Sunday 29th January. 

We have had a wet January, it did try snowing at some point, but even this gave way to sleet and rain.  All day had a continual wetness about it, that fine drizzle which isn’t heavy but gets everywhere was all around.  A blessing then that it had stopped by the time we arrived. 

When saluting to the East, the outdoor candle holder fell to the ground…. A bad omen? A test of our resolve to carry on? the Grove of the Corieltauvi take pride in not being a fairweather Grove (if any do indeed exist).

The fire caught quickly and by the time the main part of the ceremony was starting, it was barely alive and reduced to glowing embers.  There was a darkness all around, not malignant, just there, present and all consuming. 

I began by speaking of the promise of spring to come and that the Cailleach obviously was not yet finished, she will go only when she wants to.  I spoke of Brighid and how she is important for us, especially when beginning new projects.  I spoke of how she is connected to the life giving water and the eternal flame.  I invited the Grove members to come forward and to ask Brighid’s blessing depending on which aspect of her we wanted to ask: 

Healer: Drinking from the chalice, to ask Her to help us in the arts of healing or for the healing of others. 

Smith: Touching the Sword of Justice, to ask Her to inspire and help us forge our projects, destinies, to create. 

Poet: To hold the scroll and ask Her to give us inspiration, for creativity and insight. 

I originally intended for us to call upon one of these, Vyvyan did all three.  I did not consider this greedy or selfish, rather I had never thought of calling on Brighid’s aspects as a whole, so took this as inspiration and did this also.  The water of the chalice was poured in a circle into the earth.  The sword was given back to its guardian.  The scroll was given to the fire, flickering one last time.  I gave my prayer to Brighid: 

O Lady Brighid, Grand-daughter of Danu, Daughter of the Daghda, Wife of Bres, Mother of Ruadan.  Lady of the flowing well, lady of the sweltering furnace, lady who keeps the flame of poetry that burns within the heart of all…..

I asked for her blessings on all who had asked of her help. 

Oh, and I had quite clearly forgotten to have the circle dismissed! 

As we made our way back for our picnic, I was carrying the fire pit…. The contents of which came to life once again as we approached the car park!  Looking back on it, there was the sign from Brighid of the Hearth…. Especially as we decided to stay and not go to a pub.  Should have kept the fire instead of rushing to put it out! 

Of water and flame, photo by Locksley2010.

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A Fond Thank You

Hi All,

 

I’m not on the dreaded Facebook currently, but it has been impossible to ignore your sincere expression of kindness.

I wanted to write and thank you all on behalf of myself and my Father for the generous donation of a tree in my Mother’s memory. I know she always enjoyed it when the Grove came to visit and enjoyed the idea of the garden being used for rites. It made her feel wanted and that was important to Mum.

Dad was especially touched by your thoughtfulness and I might have shed a tear myself. It was delightful of you all to think of us so warmly.

Our Deepest Thanks and Love,

 

Anne & Tony Harrison

In Loving Memory of Brenda, crazy cat lady teddy collector eccentric loving Mum x

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Planning Ahead- January Meeting 2017

Meeting took place Tuesday 10th January 2017. 

Members present: Locksley, Silver Bear (Lynx Lady was only a temporary name until one more suited came up.  And here it is), Cyberdragon, Velvet, Danceswithweasels, Teller and Vyvyan.

2016 was a busy year for the GOC members.  If we weren’t at the meetings or ceremonies, it’s because we were travelling to other countries, performing theatre, moving house, being ill and feeling the sadness at the loss of loved ones who had passed away. 

On the plus side all meetings and ceremonies were attended, though no set pattern was seen- if we could make it, it would. And I thanked Cyberdragon for his contribution to fire making and bringing his garden candle sticks, giving any Grove ceremony some wonderful atmosphere. 

We discussed the following points: 

  • Grove numbers- everyone’s happy, in fact Teller joked about mass conversions to Druidry…. Okaaaaay.
  • GOC turned 20 years old.   20. Years.  And we totally missed out on celebrating it!  So we discussed the idea of doing something special for this year being its 21st.
  • There is a movement against Fracking in Sherwood forest, how do the members of the Grove feel about getting involved? It’s not something for all members and this is something to be discussed before March. 
  • Do we make the meetings more social, rather than have a set agenda? Cyberdragon enjoys the debates we do have when we do get together in a pub, which is nice in small doses.  He did raise the point that to make all the meetings in a pub would be more costly.  It was agreed that we should keep a variety of events, talks and visualisation meditations.
  • I raised the question of should I be creating events on the FB page as soon as we confirmed them so organising is done in advance?- this was met with part approval and part amusement, we know trying to organise these things is one thing, whether circumstance allows us to carry out is another. 

Proposals: 

  • Organising the calendar we keep the Eisteddfod, Drumming meditations and BBQ/Picnic at Tatterhoods, as fixtures.  Agreed. 
  • I suggested this year we keep ceremonies on the nearest Sunday to the event, unless the MC wanted another date.  Agreed-we tend to do this anyway. 
  • What do we do about Midsummer?  Members are usually with families for Father’s day on the Sunday, so possibly have the ceremony bang on Wednesday 21st June (depending on availability of members).  To be confirmed. 
  • Teller and Vyvyan – How about a trilogy of Meditations? One exploring shamanic styles and the other two exploring Eastern and Western styles.  Agreed, if we split them up. 
  • Greenfingers (via conversation with apologies) was very impressed by the personal touch to Briseilid’s Bear ceremony for Alban Arthan as it wasn’t just another OBOD ceremony.  More personal ceremonies to be encouraged.  Agreed. 
  • Strider and Dumbledore (via notes passed on) wondered if we could have actual discussions about Druidry.  Understanding that the journies with the Gwers is a personal experience, why not discuss the things we have all come across?  Have sessions on the meaning of Awen, the Abred (and which version is correct seeming that the first Gwers we meet this concept says there are three rings, yet a more in depth article in a later Gwers discusses only two of these rings!) Or the history of OBOD, etc.  Cyberdragon raised another point here saying that perhaps the reason we don’t tend to lead a talk is because we don’t feel we have the authority to back it up.  So the idea was accepted, especially if we all learned a bit and brought back what we found.  Agreed as long as we have a facilitator for the session. 

The Calendar

Still under construction at the moment. 

A.O.B 

Cyberdragon- Why not make more contact with other Druid groups? 

Teller- Concerned with the long term health with the roles in the Grove, raised the issue of me doing too much. 

Vyvyan- To assist me in writing the blog. 

Thorsson, Briseilid, Greenfingers and Silver Bear all offered to host meetings in their homes should we require them. 


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    Alban Arthan 2017

    The candles stood proud, their flames never wavering.  The fire burned bright and strong, the stars above us patterned the sky.  The circle was cast, blessed with water and fire, peace was given and I was just about to call upon the blessings of the Great Bear to the North….  A bright light in the sky caught my attention, an orange ball travelling across to the trees.  A plane would have made noise and flickered, carrying on through the gap in the trees, it did not. 

    And so, we began our ceremony, led by Briseilid.  Strider, Greenfingers, Cyberdragon and Lynx Lady and myself all took part in the Bear themed celebration of the Midwinter Solstice. 

    Briseilid, gave us a song, joined in by Lynx Lady who also knew the same song- it reminded me of an Native American song I once heard in a Mother Earth lodge…. I digress.   This song was used to summon the spirit of bear, indeed, Britain used to have bears and so the essence of Bear was called so we could give respect and honour. 

    Briseilid gave another song that was comprised of all the names that the Finnish people like to give Bear without calling it bear, for example: Furry Friend, Old Man Of The Mountain, for when they celebrate it’s spirit (and yes they still have bears, but do not fear them). 

    Because in OBOD the cardinal direction of North is associated with the element of Earth and represented by Bear, we entered the circle through the North.  North was also where I was asked to cut a gateway leading from the circle to which there was a path leading to a second altar, dedicated to Bear. 

    Briseilid gave us instructions of what to do should we wish to partake (which, of course, we all did!) and to take care of stepping through the brambles on the path. Each of us was greeted with the altar, there was a pot for holding all the paper we wrote on for wanting to release something from our lives, there were also oatcakes, honey and mead.  We were invited to light a tealight and bring it back into the circle, the idea we returned with the gift of light. 

    When sharing thoughts on the season, I was delighted to hear I was not the only one who saw the ball of light go to the trees, Lynx Lady saw it too! 

    Briseilid led a heartfelt and original ceremony, one that left Greenfingers with the comment that we should do more like it.  

    Bear Altar, photo by Locksley2010.

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    Arabian Nights- December Meeting 2016

    This month’s meeting was written up by our very own Vyvyan: 

    Meeting took place Tuesday 13 December 2016 
    We wrapped up the year with conversation and a curry at Kayal, in Nottingham. There were a lot of dosas, lentil doughnuts, dumplings, and tasty curry! Strider, Locksley, Danceswithweasels, Teller and Vyvyan attended. Thoughts were with the rest of the Grove members, as several people were obliged to miss the meal.
    Conversation ranged widely, as it often does, though we had to hold ourselves back from pre-empting the January planning meeting. Teller in particular was keen to start planning the next year’s activities now! Locksley raised the question of whether we should have more pub meals, but the group felt that meeting in people’s homes for discussion on particular topics was still interesting, valuable, and just good fun. 
    Strider even proposed that we might have a meeting in the next year — to discuss Druidry! Shock, heavens. Though the suggestion of a Grove game of Diplomacy was even more divisive… particularly given how keen Teller and Strider were to assure us that they both made wonderful allies…. 
    Best wishes to all in the Grove, as the Solstice and the turning of the year approaches.
    Thank you very much,Vyvyan! Although what Teller didn’t realise is the Grove standard of “If you suggest it, you run it”. 😉   – On the serious side, some of our members are going through trying times right now and as Vyvyan pointed out: our thoughts are with them. Locksley. 

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