The Grove Annual General Meeting for 2018

In attendance: Greenfingers, Locksley, Strider, Dumbledore, Danceswithweasels, Taleteller, Vyvyan, Cyberdragon, Velvet and Silver Bear.

We decided to hold the meeting at a new location the Wilford Green Pub. It looked ideal in the write up, meals available, a private “free” room and central for all the members. I contacted them and booked the room for twelve people, job done.

On the night, I was the first to arrive and spoke to the barman. Gave him the booking details and received a blank look, Oh no, I thought, everyone’s making their way here. To cut a long story short, the original managers had problems and left, the barman was normally the chef and no meals were being served that night. Fortunately a barmaid was there on her night off and suggested that we order a chinese takeaway, they would supply the plates and cutlery and a copy of the take out menu. Panic over, we settled in a cosy little annexe for the meeting and waited for the food which was delivered an hour later. Everyone tucked in and seemed to enjoy their meals.

It was time to plan the events for 2018. I went through the dates one by one, a plethora of ideas were put forward, decisons were made and these are now available on a file uploaded to the Grove facebook page “grove events 2018”

Fortunately the evening was enjoyed by all even though we had a shaky start. We plan to use this venue again for future meetings and hopefully by then service will be resumed.

 

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Herald of a New Age

It’s been four weeks since the annual Samhuinn ceremony and four weeks of no Heraldic duties.

At Samhuinn, the Grove’s offices are left open for them to be taken by others who wish to take them on. With the exception of the Sword Bearer whom chooses to pass the sword on to the next person.

When I declared, as is done, the position of Herald being open again for another year, those in attendance were surprised when Greenfingers said ‘Yeah, alright. I’ll do it.’ He went on to explain that he’d thought about it and that he wanted to do it, also with him being retired he had the time to fulfil the role. After this, I realised I had the biggest grin on my face.

The GoC doesn’t have a chief and it doesn’t have a leader. This is why it has offices instead. The position of Herald is not to be taken lightly.

The Herald is responsible for the day to day running of the Grove. Keeping a calendar of the events ticking over, making sure those who run a ceremony or a meeting are able to do so, as well as informing attendees of anything to bring for those events. The Herald also makes sure that those who need lifts have them (or at least, have checked those people have already organised them).

The Herald is also the contact point for any new contacts or new potential members. Serving also as a screening process to see if the new potential is for us, and if we are the Grove for them.

The Herald also serves as treasurer and is keeper of the ‘Magic Pig, the fabric pot for contributions from members to pay for things the Grove may need: the website, any replacements for The Box, hosting a table at Pagan events etc. In the Grove’s past there was an office called ‘Keeper of the Magic Pig’, sad to say after the original pig and monies were stolen, this responsibility fell to the Herald thereafter.

As you can see, the role is not one of leading or supervising the Grove. It is event keeper, secretary, treasurer and occasional herder of cats (Cough-Druids-Cough).

Each Herald has approached the role in different ways, adding something of themselves to both the office and the Grove. I wasn’t in the Grove during Glamorgan and Luch Dorcha’s years as Herald.

Cthulhudruid had ended his time at my first Samhuinn with the Grove. I was struck with awe at that very first Alban Elfed ceremony, the first meeting had us making medicine pouches for ourselves (led by Tatterhood, I still have the bag), the second meeting was at a members house and I got absolutely wasted on mead and red wine! Just ask Ladymorgana! I cannot say what he was like as Herald, but with the headers of the GoC symbol attached to paperwork and knowing how deep he is, I can imagine him being methodical and giving all to the Grove.

Tatterhood was Herald before me and she added a lot of creativity to the flavour of meetings, with us painting, writing poetry discussing a lot about the concepts of Druidry. In the meetings, she was quick to make sure we didn’t get carried away on tangents. Tatty, wasn’t afraid to explore our psychic sides either and balanced this with making use of the Question Cards. It was a shame she had to step down, but the circumstances were totally understandable.

I was ‘Acting Herald’ up until Samhuinn in 2014. By this time we had our own Group on Facebook and I used that to my advantage, utilising the Events generator and using the public forum to keep people in the loop. I also gave the Grove a yearly Eisteddfod, wanting everyone to take part. Like the previous Heralds before me, I had to make snap decisions for last minute meeting and ceremony dilemmas, some of which weren’t popular but necessary.

Greenfingers has a tough road ahead and has already proven himself with this month’s meeting, turning it into an AGM and getting us to organise the next year. I look forward to what he brings.

The Succession of Heralds

1996 – 2000 RhuMaere- later known on here as ‘Glamorgan’ (Office held under the nebulous title of Grove mother)

2000 – 2005 Lorcha (the Hairy Herald) – aka Luch Dorcha – aka ‘Mr Fluffy’

2005 – 2010 Cthulhudruid

2010 – 2014 Tatterhood

2014 – 2017 Locksley

2017 – Present Greenfingers

If you would like to contact the Grove of the Corieltauvi directly, please email us at

herald@groveofthecorieltauvi.org

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Samhuinn 2017

Ceremony took place on Sunday 29th October 2017.

Attendees: Greenfingers, Locksley, Silverbear Strider, Teller, Vyvyan (now nicknamed ‘Darth Vyv’ due to her black coat with a thick black hood).

Embers of Samhuinn

I’d been so busy with projects this time last year that I lost touch with the seasons. This year, I could feel Samhuinn approaching and I have missed that feeling so much.

Traditionally, in the GoC, Samhuinn is given to our members of the Druid Grade to perform. Sadly, none were available, due to work, ill health, commitments and distance.

I’d managed for almost two years getting away with not doing a ceremony (the energy was spent on my other projects) and I felt the voice in my mind urge me to give it a shot. “Go on…. do it, you’ve got this…..” so, I asked the Druids if this was ok, and it was. I declared myself as MC and had a plan of how this was going to go.

I wanted everyone involved in some way, so instead of waiting for the night and asking who wants to do a quarter, I deliberately asked for 4 x quarter callers, 1 x person to make bread and 1 x Cailleach. The last was taken up by Darth Vyv who also made some very delicious gluten free bread for us too!

Darth Vyv, as sword bearer cast the circle and called the East. Did anyone else notice the circle had a golden light? Greenfingers called the South, his voice now confident when it used to tremble. Teller called the West with reverence and respect, Silverbear requested for calling North as it pushed her out of her comfort zone, she did it beautifully.

Honouring the Grove of the Corieltauvi’s traditions, we swore upon sword and stone and renewed our Grove allegiance. I swore in for those who had asked me to and Strider had sworn in for Dumbledore (Who had asked both of us, considering I had plenty already, it made sense for Strider to do it). We also observed the passing on of the Grove offices:

  • Box- Greenfingers was left with the responsibility.
  • Sword of Justice- held from last Samhuinn to this one by Darth Vyv, whom had declared as passing it on to Danceswithweasels the next time we see her.
  • Herald- I offered up the position of Herald, as is custom. I was both surprised and very pleased when Greenfingers piped up with ‘Alright, I’ll do it.’ He had thought long and hard about it and from now on, I am happy to declare the role as his. More on this another time.

In the GoC we pay respects to the Cailleach for presiding over the winter. Wanting a bit of theatrical flare I asked for one of the ladies attending to play the part of the Cailleach for us. Vyvyan stepped up to the mark and performed brilliantly. I knew that by the time she drew her black hood over her eyes, crouched before the altar and spoke in an commanding whispery voice that she had this. The Cailleach asked for three pieces of paper with writings from all attendees. The first was of what we had learned this year, the second was what we wanted to let go of. The Cailleach cast these into the fire, telling each of us to hold onto the last (what we wanted to gain) for reflection in a year’s time.

The Cailleach also asked us to take an ogham from her bag and to keep onto this and to return them to Vyvyan after the ceremony. Telling us that now is the time to remember and honour our ancestors, The Cailleach left and Vyvyan (Darth Vyv) returned once again. We shared bread, honey and salt with those we wished to remember. After the ceremony was done, we stayed and shared food, drink and caught up in the Hearth Grove. We also found out what each of our Oghams meant before giving them back.

For the Grove, for those who couldn’t be with us and for those we wished to remember, we were proud to say:

We swear, by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand, mark O’ Spirit and hear us now, confirming this, our sacred vow…..“.

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Western Meditation

639px-Athelstan

The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson, 1998, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6638375

This month, I was speaking, with Taleteller, Locksley, and Danceswithweasels in attendance on a rainy evening. I’ve been doing some reading into practices of Christian meditation, which I shared with the group. I think there’s a lot to be learned from Christian practices, though there are some obvious points of difference when you are a Druid…

I started with an overview of the history of Lectio Divina, or divine reading. We talked about how in the early church, reading was often compared to ingesting: taking Scripture into your body. You’d be changed by the experience. It was conceived of as a conversation with God, one which could only be answered through the reader’s actions. There was an emphasis on learning texts by heart, and on gaining an understanding of the text on multiple levels. I talked through several of the types of questions one could ask of a text during lectio divina: What are the words saying or describing? What is the literal meaning? What is the concrete, historical reality to which this refers? What is divinity teaching through this reality? What doctrine or mystery is alluded to? And how does this teaching or mystery relate to me here, today, in my life?

Traditionally, Lectio Divina has several steps; the Wikipedia page (research!) lists 4, but I found 5 mentioned in my reading, as put together by Hugh of St Victor. 1) Reading the text. 2) Meditating on the text. 3) Prayer. 4) Performance (where you perform the virtues/learning you have identified in the text–this one’s missing from Wikipedia!). 5) Contemplation.

Christianity has Scripture to work from, whereas the ancient Druids forbade writing any of the sacred knowledge down, which presents something of a quandry for Druids interested in sacred reading. So we had a discussion about the kinds of things that one could read through this method, and our past experiences reading, for instance, Welsh and Irish and Norse myths. A few of us thought it might be worth going back to these myths with this approach!

Next, we moved on to discussing contemplation, or the prayer of the heart, where the soul enters into mystical contact with transcendental reality. The work I read mentioned the need for practical discipline in preparation for contemplation, and that it often came after a lot of experience with prayer, discursive meditation/lectio divina, and so forth. The process of contemplation is a process of gathering the soul’s faculties inwards: emptying all images and sense perceptions from the mind, the mind gathering itself together, turning inward and considering itself, and then the soul rising above itself, making an effort to contemplate divinity. The experience is often short-lived, and the theology I was reading suggested that it was only attained by grace: you can only make it to true contemplation by a gift from divinity. You can’t get there on your own!

We wrapped this section with a quick discussion of living active lives in the world versus lives of contemplation, and some of the theology that I’d found suggesting that it’s possible and, in fact, desirable to live both kinds of lives. We closed with a side note on visualisation: most of what I was reading emphasised that meditation should not aim at having visions. There is a practice of Christian meditation that involves picturing yourself at various Biblical scenes–but that’s all I’ve been unable to uncover. So where did the pagan practices of guided meditations/journeying come from?

Finally, I’d compiled a bunch of questions for discussion, which Taleteller and Locksley demanded should be put up on the blog for reference and future discussion.

Questions for Druids!

  1. What kinds of things might we “read” through lectio divina?
  2. What is the role of memorising and learning things by heart for us?
  3. What kinds of practices might lead toward contemplation?
  4. How do we maintain both our active and contemplative lives?
  5. What do we think about the idea of the world being full of “readable symbols”?
  6. Do we include prayer as part of our spiritual lives?
  7. What are the challenges and benefits in adapting/adopting Christian techniques in our spirituality?
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They’re Taking the Druids to Hobbiton!

Or, more simply… When the Grove visited my floating hobbit Hole…

The evenings are drawing in now, so within gloom broken only by the twinkling of fairy lights we gathered last Tuesday evening. With just enough seats for all and a kitty for company. A generous feast to share and the perfect amount of tea bags. Which made up for my dreadful baking attempt. Hand made goodies, still warm, were a welcome treat along side the noble custard cream and after a well needed catch up with lazy gossip, we finally embraced the theme of the evening.

Inspired by my adventures to various exhibitions to The National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, Tate Liverpool and even Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. I was curious about the vast collections of Great Masters which adorned the walls… Religion was a heavy theme among the paintings, giant somber images, dark and gloomy, depicting scenes from the Bible with incredible inaccurate representations of Christ, The Holy Virgin and his followers… Yet this has nothing to do with Druids does it?

Yet it got me thinking about art and how art can be used as a spiritual medium, as the afore mentioned  masterpieces were created to inspire, install fear and awe. Indeed they still draw many crowds today! How can art be embraced to enhance our spiritual nature? Are there references to art in the Gwyers? How the images upon a Tarot Card create a universal meaning? False representations of Druids in Roman artwork with the infamous white long beard image with flowing robes and golden sickle. (Move the sickle to the crown of the head and the image of a Christian Saint is pretty darn similar)…

Having received a good long list of research materiel I hastened to the Google overlord to carelessly print off a collection of thumbnail images for discussion.  Including: Will Worthington, Osman Spare, Crowley, Blake, Robert Buratti, Christ, Druids and Tarot Cards. The images were shared out among us and provided a very rich debate about Occult images, the misrepresentation of Druids, Tarot Cards and Divination and even Tattoos with esoteric symbolism.

Openly sharing our personal views, what we love about art, even what made us feel uncomfortable, even the amusing little Druid who had an uncanny similarity to Santa! I would like to think that everyone had a most relaxed and happy evening, content with a lovely debate, humor and a few personal stories to exchange.

It was an honor to have you visit and hopefully the evening inspired some love towards art, in its many beautiful forms…

 

Love, Anne x

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July Meeting 2017- Drumming Meditation

Meeting took place on Tuesday 18th July at the Hearth Grove. 

Attendees:  Briseilid, Danceswithweasels, Greenfingers, Locksley, Strider and Vyvyan. 
We have always looked forward to a guided drumming meditation, Luch Dorca began doing them with the Grove some years back, Briseilid has done them since. 

Each of them has a different effect for all of us, I found last year’s quite healing, for example.  

We all took places in a circle, it didn’t have to be a circle, Briseilid just needed enough room to walk around all of us and we most probably ended up in one because at the Grove, we usually are in that formation.  

Telling us to close our eyes and taking three deep breaths, Briseilid took us on a journey, her drum beating all the way through……. 

It began with using one of the Grove’s trees to sink deep into the earth, through a gateway that led into a safe place.  A guide was waiting for us to take us where we needed to go, so we followed them to a junction of many paths.  One of these led to our future, but only we could choose.  The guide may have joined us or could go no further, either way the path was chosen and we proceeded to a gate.  Before the gate was an altar with tokens upon it.  We chose one, which would help us reach our future, but we had to replace this with an item in return.  We were invited to drink from a goblet and eat what was on offer, for this was nourishment for the soul.  When ready, we walked through the gate and found ourselves in the Hearth Grove once more, taking time to feel the energy of the place and each other. 

What we saw, who and what we encountered, whichever path we took, what tokens we had taken and given were all individually experienced, although at least three of us had encountered a deer type creature, without there being a prompt or description for there being one.  Although, working with Briseilid, this should have come as no surprise!  I am thankful to everyone who shared their experiences. 

After, we had a picnic in the Grove itself, this turned into a sort of Eisteddfod as Briseild sang an English translation of a song called ‘Salt’ by Faroese singer, Eivør.  When I closed my eyes, I could see the sea and foamy waves on a sandy shore.

I sang a couple of tunes from a musical I performed last month and Vyvyan, wonderful singer! gave us a rendition of Beauty Way by Eliza Gilkyson, I’ve never heard it before, but you can listen to both songs with the links at the bottom of this post. 

To distract Briselid, I sang ‘The Rains of Castamere’ (although, I totally forgot the last verse!) so she couldn’t see there was a card we were all signing to give to her.  But why a card? Because dear Briseilid and her other half are moving to the North of England to be by the sea!  I remember Briseilid being the shy and quiet newcomer to the Grove and am so proud of her progress to being one of the deepest, sincere and wisest of our Ovates.  I’m sure I speak for my fellow Grovemates in saying Briseilid will indeed be missed, but she will always be welcome to return whenever she can. 

For those who are curious, here’s the links to the musicians who inspired Briseilid and Vyvyan: 

Eivør- ‘Salt

Eliza Gilkyson- ‘Beauty Way

Hearth Grove sunset!

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Double Header: Livery Visit and Alban Hefin

horses

Taleteller reporting.

As many of you will have gathered from the pictures shared among the group, the night at the livery was a grand success. Briseilid, Strider, Vyvyan, Danceswithweasels, Taleteller, and Greenfingers arrived, just as it was getting cool enough for the horses to get out of their fencing gear. Cthulhudrid showed us around, told us the history of the place, introduced us to some equine nobility (writer’s note – is it still “equine” if it’s a pony?), and then we picnicked under a young oak while the cat watched us with suspicion. Conversation moved through talk of mentoring and the role of that relationship through the grades, to discussion of the intricate labyrinth that is the Ovate grade, with many stories of the local military training school and the wacky hi-jinks that Cthulhudruid has had to put a stop to. I particularly like the image of him storming the base in order to report the disgraceful behaviour of a couple of the lads. Bet they learned their lesson!

altar pic

And then, on the night of the solstice itself, a small group gathered at the Grove for Alban Heruin. In attendance were Vyvyan, Greenfingers, Strider and myself. Vyvyan led the ceremony, and though it was a very intimate gathering it felt like the energies of the season were really present. We chanted, we called forth the powers of fire in association with each element, we witnessed the strength, courage and hope in one another, made offerings of fire and drank water blessed with the power of Midsummer.

Then back to the car for a feast and a good natter.

Afterwards I slept better than I have done in weeks – it felt like something had broken.

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