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.

Posted in Ceremonies, Meetings | 1 Comment

May Meeting 2017: Eastern Meditation

Meeting held on Tuesday 9th May.

Attendees: Teller, Vyvyan, Briseilid, Cyberdragon, Velvet, Locksley.

Special guest writer is also the same man who led the meeting, Teller! 

Teller talked about how all mystical traditions seem to have a meditative component, so the history is a bit hard to unravel – but there’s a powerful imagined history that says that in old Aryan/Vedic/proto-Hindu rites, there used to be a practitioner whose only job was to hold a perfect version of the ritual in their mind. There’s also the gayatri mantra (which crops up at the start of BattleStar Galactica) which can be translated as asking for a blessing on meditation. He talked about the jump from Hinduism to Buddhism, the spread of Buddhism into Tibet and further East, culminating in the austere practices of Zen.

We discussed the benefits of these styles of meditation – of being more in the moment, more present, more focussed, but also of the idea that one could realise the ultimate one-ness of Brahman (God) and Atman (Soul) by really intense meditation.

We also discussed middle-eastern mysticism. Teller said some stuff about The Zohar (a body of Jewish mysticism) which now he’s looked at his notes may not be entirely accurate. Ooops. And the origins of Sufism as first a philosophical and then a mystical practice. This fed into Judaism and Christianity, and Vyvyan will pick up here next time.

We did some Metta Bhavana – a Tibetan meditation of compassion, and talked about what that like. (Self, teacher, loved one, stranger, challenger, self, all sentient beings.)

A Metta Prayer –

may I be free from suffering

may I know my wholeness

may I dwell in the heart.

We had a lot of crisps, and talked a fair amount about Druid ritual. There was some talk about how we might get more intense experiences of the sacred or liminal in our ritual – most of those present expressed a desire to practice or develop our rituals further. 

Pic from Pintrest.

Posted in Meetings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bealtaine 2017

Ceremony performed on Sunday 30th April.

Attendees: Briseilid, Cyberdragon, Danceswithweasels, Greenfingers, Leaf, Locksley, Strider, Teller, Vyvyan.  We hadn’t seen Leaf or Briseilid in ages!  Both were welcome indeed! 

It was a beautiful day to welcome the beginning of Summer, even the grey cloud with the feel of rain upon the wind didn’t take away the feel of the season.  The calls of birdlife in the background varied from goose to woodpecker!  I recall an old Yorkshire tradition that stated wood-cutters didn’t start their chopping until the summer had started….. Heralded by the first woodpecker heard! 

For this particular ceremony, Greenfingers (as MC) wanted us to have two fires, which was a welcome thing indeed: the smoke drove the swarm of midges away.  At its very beginning, a blessing in the form of rain drops came down for a very brief smattering. 

Keeping in theme with the season, Greenfingers asked for volunteers for the Green Oak King and May Queen.  Being the theatrical types, Me and Strider were presented a short script each.  The May Queen was represented by a wreath of Mayflower and the Green Oak King with a bouquet of Holly, Oak and Ivy.

Both agricultural fertility figures declared their love and were carried by both Ovates as they danced in circles and figure-of-eights around the fire, a drumming provided the beat.  A train of dancing druids behind them as they made up the course. 

Once everyone was back in place, we were invited to share stories or poems.  Some were from years ago, some were well known, one was actually the chorus to a song written by Cyberdragon.  And even those who did not have anything to share were still welcome to take in the energies and celebrations of Bealtaine. 

We shared honey, oatcakes and mead and we scattered the seeds given by the May Queen all around.

Our picnic at the top saw us around the fire sharing thoughts, puns (oh, they hurt!) and plenty of food and drink so that everyone had their fill….. because the midges certainly did. 

Bouquet and Wreath upon the altar. Oh look! There’s Cyberdragon’s home-made mead!

Posted in Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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)
Posted in Meetings | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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!

Posted in Meetings, Other | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Ceremonies, Meetings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Other | 2 Comments