We both enjoyed the ritual on Sunday. I feel I have a better understanding of SCG's traditions. The marriage of Lugh and the Morrigan made sense in context. It may not be in the lore, but I could certainly see an Irish pagan community wedding their champion to the sovereignty goddess (heck this was a community doing just that). It was a pleasure to witness, it felt quaint, in a good way.
It is wonderful liturgy, which we have borrowed from in a previous Black Bear Lughnassadh. I especially love the spear dance between the new and former reigning champion, culminating in the sacrifice of the summer sun (in the form of a round loaf of bread, also symbolizing the first loaf of the harvest).
I volunteered to honor the Deities. I was a bundle of nerves, as I usually have a week or more to prepare but, roles were offered earlier that day, still Brighid's inspiration got me through it.
Thanks to Stone Creed Grove for their hospitality!
After attuning to ourselves, Teecie led us to a desert near a sea and told us there was a pyramid there. Pyramids aren't really my thing, but I went with it. My pyramid was stepped and golden with a light the color of sea green pulsing from it. I stood at the entrance, trying to read the inscription on the posts and lintel, but couldn't. I picked up some sand and spread it an arch about me. I had the desire to climb the steps and spread sand in an offering gesture as I nearly danced up the steps. At the top was an intense energy that I experienced as very solar. A hawk circled about me as our guide affirmed we were spiritual beings.
She prompted us to picture ourselves seated on throne fit for priestesses or kings with people gathered about us seeking our guidance and blessing. I felt a bit like a volva. I had a large chalice in my hands and wore a crown of autumn leaves and grapes. Our guide told us to see the crowd parting as a single being approached us. I got the sense of Freyja's energy then knew before Teecie confirmed, that I was approaching myself.
She asked us how our other self looked different, it was my hair, it was still long, but partially shaved. I knelt before myself and embraced myself, stoking my head and tracing the celtic warrior tattooed above the nape of my neck. She said we had a question for ourselves, I knew mine regarded my identity and name, it was what I had come here for, I tried to figure out what my tattoo had to do with it when Teecie prompted our other self to whisper in our ear, it was one word, "formair".
I was confused at first, I expected her to say autumn, then I remembered the gaelic for autumn was "fomhar" (dative- "fomhair"). Whether this was conscious or not I felt such a powerful sense or joy and peace and oneness. I came out of the journey beaming, but did not share what I told myself to the group, only shared details about the desert and pyramid.
Teecie used a djembe to drum during the second journey. She wanted us to picture ourselves by the sea. I saw myself on two different shores, New England and Ireland with the vast Atlantic between them. A storm was brewing as Teecie scratched the surface of the drum head, I had to pick a
side. I mist rolled in on the eastern sea board and I made the jump to Erin. I sensed Manannan's presence but he wasn't at the shore.
I saw a small row boat, got in and started heaving the oars. I arrived an an island, it was more calm here though I was a bit frantic to find Him. I climbed over rocky coves passing bards, magicians and warriors practicing their skills. I reached a circular opening, bordered by rocks and saw a man sitting there, with others about him.
He wasn't quite what I expected, he didn't seem to have an age, but I knew him. I knelt before him and offered him a bundle of reeds. He laughed and shook his head as if to say "you do not owe me rent". I pulled out a bottle of ale, a conch and other offerings quickly in succession as he laughed at me. I tried to remember a song of praise for him and he shook his head, telling me my words were no good here. Then I knew what I had to do, I danced.
I felt like a puppet being flung about, I didn't like the music, but I couldn't stop. I wheeled round the fire and threw whiskey on the fire to good effect. I prayed for the drumming to change and it did, it felt somehow more Irish, like bodhran music. This music I could dance to and as I did I sensed my ancestors drawing closer. I called them to me and we danced together, and Manannan was pleased. End journey
The first was a mini-journey during ritual Thursday night. I had Rowan with me and he was a little restless until I nursed him. I heard our guide lead us through the wood, into a stream where we walked with the current to the opening of a cave. At this point Rowan settled and I was right there. She asked us what the darkness of the cave represented for us. I knew instantly it was coldness and impatience. I knew what to do before our guide told us. I approached the cave with the light of my spirit, shining as the radiance of the moon in my heart. I illuminated the cave and saw spirals swirling on the walls and floor, the darkness was further in.
A woman stepped forward from the depths, dark and tall, with black feathers about her shoulders and neck. I recognized her as my former matron, the Morrigan, who had protected and given me strength for several years, mainly during a difficult relationship but left me somewhat bitter and intolerant. I knew what I had to do, to release this frigidness and let it sink into the floor of the cave. As I was doing this crows started flying out from the cave, hundreds of crows. I followed them out as the drum beat quieted. I know this work is not finished yet however.
Last evening's journey work consisted of a guided meditation followed by open shamanic work where our guide drummed over us. We were to picture
ourselves sitting in a circle of people, some tribe, amongst the elders. The elders I sat amongst had both white and coppery hair and beards. Some wore torcs, brooches and other amulets, one had a harp in their lap. Our guide prompted us to see the elders handing us something. Immediately I saw a small horn shaped pipe. I wanted to change it to something less cliche and Native American (though it clearly wasn't a peace pipe) I tried a fire striker but then cleared my mind and accepted that I was given a pipe and raised it in the air. Our guide had us call to the directions, the sky, the earth and the spirits within ourselves (a new concept to me). I pictured the land of Ireland, it's provinces, horizons and it's sea.
The elders stepped back from us and we were told to picture ourselves as divine children. Within my head burned a flame, in my belly sat a cauldron, my heart simply glowed with warmth and song and I saw a torc on my neck as I stood alone beneath the night sky. Something quickly drew my attention to the ridge in front of me (both in the journey and on the actual grounds). A white stag, beckoning me. But our guide was calling for us to lend our healing energy to the gulf coast and I could not deny that noble cause. After giving our energy to the earth, ocean and it's creatures we were prompted to receive a gift from the sea. I reached down as my hand grabbed grass and opened it to see pieces of amber. End journey.
After sharing our visions and what we had received (two others had been handed pipes though they had both been dealing with quitting, cigarettes and weed respectively whereas I have no relationship to smoking) our guide began drumming. It was absolutely bombarding, which at first distracted me but eventually proved rather effective. I let the pounding of the drum sink into my skull and soon found myself on a mountaintop, under an oak, in front of a fire altar where girls were praying to Gabija, Lithuanian goddess of fire and the hearth. This imagery is from a beautiful daino.
The drumming changed, it clashed and shook and Thor slammed his hammer into the earth and an oak crowned Perkunas struck a tree and the thunder gods pounded, awakening the earth all across northern Europe, even the Dagda was there with his club. The drum beat changed and I was running (I think everyone was running or flying, it's just where our minds went, some as wolves and hawks, but I was chasing the white stag). I followed the stag over the ridge and into a lake and I sped to an isle, with tall conifers, apple trees, drumming, dancing and spinning fire. My view shot back and I could see the isle from above but also the mountain, side by side but thousand of miles apart. The Baltic mountain to the east and the Celtic isle to the west. End journey.
I felt a warmth fill me as dubhlainn welcomed the Elder Wise and my eyes welled up though I shed no tears. I only wish we had interacted more with them. It must have been very powerful for the officers to make their oaths in their presence, especially a new Senior Druid before the druids and priests of old. And yay for honoring a living tree! Overall a very lovely rite. I include below my song of praise, begun two Beltanes ago that I was inspired to finish for this occasion. It's really more of a chant and could benefit from a second voice coming in at the new verse and perhaps a third to make in more dynamic, but it was still effective solo.
Ancient Ones, foremothers and forefathers
Ancient Ones, heroes and kin
Ancient Ones, warriors and poets
Ancient Ones, we call you again
Ancient Ones, grandmothers and grandfathers
Ancient Ones, wise ones and kin
Ancient Ones, healers and seers
Ancient Ones, we honor again (pour whiskey)
Ancient Ones, foremothers and forefathers
Ancient Ones, elders and kin
Ancient Ones, druids and cheiftains
Ancient Ones, be here again.
Jay, Rowan and I had an excellent time at Three Crane's rite last night. Very good to see our dear friends both of their grove and ours. Thank you Black Bears for making the trip. I wish I had been in a more receptive state for the ritual. Jay and I both noted that the liturgy was brilliant, but Rowan started stirring during the invocation to Nerthus, I was grabbing him out of his seat during Bardic Inspiration and he was at the breast by the Portal Song (which I thoroughly enjoyed sing and nursing to and I think he liked it too). Rowan was very well behaved but a baby still needs attending to, especially one whose booties keep falling off.
I could tell the gate opening was beautiful (of course I had read the words before, so know it was beautiful). I loved, loved, loved seamus_mcnasty welcoming to the deities, it said everything and you could feel his integrity. I was very moved and I know Adam was too (he was sitting beside me and makes these little hand motions or grunts when something resonates with him, which was quite a lot that night). One thing I wish I could have been more focused on was the journey to Helheim athenamsb led, as that was the one thing I purposely didn't read from the outline she sent, as I wanted to experience it in person. I missed most of the decent, but I did see my ancestors across the room and reached out. That was the most beautiful version of Mothers and Fathers of Old I've been part of.
I think it was a true testament to the dedication of the Cranes that their omen was carried out the way it was and I loved it. Each person that had invited the Kindred drew a rune (which we often do) but it was these same people that announced the omen to the folk (as opposed to a single seer) the all had an excellent understanding and
seamus_mcnasty summed things up wonderfully. Rowan enjoyed playing with the waters cup. Adored Missy's performance of Wayfaring Stranger. Never been to a sumble that large but it was moving to be part of a community all focused on a single purpose, honoring the dead. Adam observed that Rowan seemed to enjoy the sumble, he was standing during some of it. He started to fuss a bit during the closings, so I walked him round the back of the hall, when we got into the light he perked up and we visited with a little one year old (they held hands).
When the rite was called to an end I made a B line for shawneen_bear and presented the babe to him. Then I headed back toward the Black Bears. We gave gifts to the Cranes and I introduced myself to Steph Gooch who then scolded me for not coming to a Stone Creed rite yet. I'm definitely going to their Yule, but I'm really interested in dubhlainn 's rite to the Ancient Wise. I was then whisked away for a grove picture. Rowan had a great time dancing with rhiannon76 while I got grub. We ate and chatted with dubhlainn , but soon Rowan became overwhelmed by the intense drumming so we packed up.
Jay and I had a nice post ritual talk on the drive home. We both were a bit preoccupied with Rowan to get a whole lot out of the ritual and Jay is not at all inclined to large rites (neither am I really, but I don't get vehement about them). But he was the one to say that the liturgy was excellent and would work more effectively for us with a tighter knit group. We came to a point of acceptance that it's not that Black Bear is so different, or does things "better" it's simply the way each grove must operate per their capacity. Three Cranes is a large grove that draws a lot of people and thus they must cater their rituals toward the folk which really is the way things would have worked historically. Where as with Black Bear we get very few visitors and thus end up more like a small order of druids performing more esoteric feeling rites. The rituals are basically the same, ours are just longer and thus go a bit deeper because we don't have to work about the deep restraints of having so many people making offerings and what not. That being said, I'm sure the people involved and the folk get lots out of it spiritually, we're just not used to that dynamic.
I am being summoned by Rowan. Thank you Cranes!