Friday, January 17, 2014

Land, Sky and Sea

From my earliest memories, I have felt both connected to and overwhelmed by the world around me. The roaring wind. The vast sea. The limitless reaches of the sky. This sense of connection is one of the things that first drew me to Druidry. I do not claim to be an avid outdoorsman, because I'm not (although sometimes I want to be), but I do attest to a feeling of continuity with nature.

I am not quite finished reading Emma Restall Orr's The Wakeful World, but I can say that her argument for animism makes sense to me, and puts a context around this feeling of connectedness. As she presents it, animism is the idea that all of nature is minded. Everything, even the things we don't perceive as animate, has some sort of perception and a place in the vast grandeur of nature.

I will have more thoughts on this soon, but I want to finish the book before I say too much. For now, I can say that it provides an elegant philosophical basis for pagan religion, and can enrich one's practice.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good Omen

During the ritual that I mentioned here, I pulled a four-card draw from the Wildwood Tarot for my omen. I asked each of the Kindred, and then Cernunnos specifically, for guidance as this new year begins. I think you'll be impressed by the consistent message.

Ancestors: Ace of Arrows: The Breath of Life -- our minds are linked to a greater consciousness. When an idea begins to form, we can tap into the energies of that connection to give it form and power.

Nature Spirits: Six of Arrows: Movement toward new possibilities, or cycles.

Shining Ones: The Wanderer (the Fool in other decks): The beginning of a new phase, the end of one journey and the start of another.

Cernunnos: Five of Bows: Facing and defeating fears; empowerment, possibly through the mastery of a skill or discipline.

Altogether, it suggests that my spiritual growth is reaching a new level ... that my intuition, desiring renewed attention to nature, to earthiness, is movement in the right direction.

Playing in the Mud

I’ve had a lot of signs about mud lately.

I’ve been reading about animism, and am currently about 2/3 of the way through the marvelously dense The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature, by Emma Restall Orr. It’s giving rise to a new appreciation for nature and a desire to spend more time out in it. Then, last Saturday, a seer at the Grove suggested the same to me, without knowing anything of that recent reading and thinking.

While listening to an old episode of Druidcast, I encountered the song “Spirit and Soul and Handful of Mud,” by James J. Turner, which speaks powerfully to that same impulse.

Also, for the past few months I’ve felt some interest in Cernunnos, a deity whose wildness appeals although I have had no prior relationship with him. 

Today, I plan to make offering to him during ritual and try to open that door a bit. My practice has been centered on the intellectual and practical for a while. Now, the time feels right for earthiness.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Reading for 2014

In my opinion, one of the best Tarot spreads suitable for annual readings (whether at the New Year, one's birthday, or other yearly milestones) is Joanna Powell Colbert's Out With the Old, In With the New Spread.  I did my reading or 2014 yesterday, using Zach Wong's Revelations Tarot.

1. What do I leave behind in the Old Year?
3 of Wands Rx

This year, I leave behind my tendency to let things go until opportunities fall apart - I will stop dissipating my energy so that nothing worthy manifests. I will stop expending my energy with no commitment to my goals.

2. What do I open up to in the New Year?
3 of Pentacles

This year, I open myself to accepting the mentoring of those who can help me grow and develop my ability to create something concrete of lasting value.  This year, I will learn what I need to to be able to contribute to our financial and material wellbeing. (we being at home, at the Grove and elsewhere where I share a group identity)

3. Key Opportunity of the New Year
6 of Wands

My key opportunity this year is to be able to achieve in a way that comes with public acclaim and appreciation - I should expect to find myself more in the spotlight this year, and to be a motivating force for improving the morale of those around me.  This is the year to get comfortable with being noticed and appreciated. (this feels so much more like a challenge than an opportunity to me!)

4. Key Challenge of the New Year
3 of Cups

My challenge this year is to maintain friendships and a sense of celebration.  I must be mindful of how work and play, friendship and conflict can overlap and not forget how much I like and enjoy the people around me.  My challenge is to approach our encounters with joy and gladness, but also to not lose sight of the distinction between playing as friends and working as colleagues.

5. Hidden concern (pull from bottom of the deck)
0 The Fool

My hidden concern is that I don't know what I'm doing, and that where I am not worrying it is because I haven't noticed the problem.  I don't want to land on my face or bring anyone else down with me.  I'm also concerned that others see me as a fool and too inexperienced to be doing what I am. I am concerned that others may be actively hoping I will fail.

6. Deep Wisdom / Advice from God/dess (pull from middle of the deck)
III Empress

The mother/queen goddesses (Juno and Frigga, primarily - but all of them in some way) are those that call to me - this year, I must lean on their wisdom and operate from within their guidance.  My role as mother is called on - to be a nurturing caretaker of those around me, and of the Earth itself.  To be firm, without being hard.  I should also remember to approach the year from a place of prosperity and abundance - of more than enough and plenty to share, and to help others to grow their own stores.

7. Key Theme of the New Year
2 of Pentacles

My key theme this year is Balance and Meditation - the ability to juggle multiple concerns without undue stress, to see the playfulness in all tasks, to learn to balance physical and material expenditure with recuperation.

Highlighted are wands (energy and will) and pentacles (concrete manifestation).  3s are strongly highlighted - III Empress, and 3 3s (missing is the 3 of Swords - heartbreak and unvarnished honesty).  Working with others to manifest results in a way that strengthens and nurtures the group is important this year - it is a time of teamwork, leadership as gentle guidance and diplomacy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Intentions and a New Moon TUSAL

My year end TUSAL.  What's a TUSAL?  Read on...
This past year has been really full for us - we saw improvements in my health (as much as chronic illness will allow), some challenges in his, we moved toward a more active and highly fulfilling relationship with Cedarlight Grove, I served on the Board at our UU church during a period of great upheaval that is ongoing, we GOT MARRIED, Michael's job of 11 years "downsized" him in a multi-person lay-off (the most recent of several), and that spurred us toward several decisions about long range self employment plans while he quickly took the steps he needed to secure new employment within three weeks.

Roller coaster ride, for sure, complete with scary and exhilarating bits.  I confess, my wish for this year - as it is almost every year - is for peace and quiet.  Peace from contention for myself and those around me, and quiet enough to be able to listen to my interior thoughts.  Of course, a huge part of achieving that is simply insisting on making room for it, and that is something I am always working toward, rather unsuccessfully.  And part of it is dependent on what life brings.  What last year taught me is that Michael and I, between us, can face some challenging stuff without unnecessary trauma.  That's a really nice thing to be able to trust.

I do not, as a rule, make 'resolutions' for New Years, but I do like to set a few intentions, and these are mine:

1.  This is annual - I'll be blocking out what stitchery projects I will be doing throughout the year.  This year, specifically, I want to do ornaments for all nine of my grandchildren.  It's been a few years since I have, and it is time.  Every time I do this, I consider it may be the last time my hands will let me do it for them.  Additionally, I have a couple large pieces for us that I'd like to finish, and I want to work on a couple auction pieces, starting early enough to get them done before various auctions occur. (In other words, plan ahead!)

2. Healthy eating - Michael and I didn't fully give up, but we did allow ourselves to ease up on a lot of snacking and carbs, with inevitable results.  He did such a fantastic job last year shedding weight that has plagued him for a long time, I want to ensure that isn't undone. (Meanwhile, my excess pounds seem to be plastered on with crazy glue, but even without weight loss, I know avoiding certain foods makes me feel better and it's worth it)

3.  Soap Making!  I plan to devote time each month to learning the art of soap making, from simple to progressively challenging.  I am very excited by this! I try to learn a new skill every year, and this is in for 2014.

4. My Dedicant's Program for ADF.  That was the entire basis for beginning this blog.  Michael finished his and is now preparing to work on his Clergy Training... and I'm still puttering along.  I am ok with that as the way it needed to be... it was helpful to me to simply experience ADF without worrying about formulized documentation.  But at this point, that's what's missing - my documentation  And there are so many truly intriguing study options available once this is done, so.... going to get it done.  I'm striving for before my birthday in early June.

5. Household organization - my lifelong nemesis, but becoming SO critical if we are to move forward on our various desires.  I need to set up a systematic plan for decluttering and then maintanence that won't totally run away from me when my RA decides that I can't manage a work day.

6. Finally, this year, I will not only be serving on our UU congregation's board (until summer - I will not be re-running for next year), but I was elected Member Advocate on Cedarlight's Witan (their board).  It's a new position, and that's intimidating enough, but my continuing to feel like I am very new compared to so many others there is also intimidating.  But my intention is to do my very best, and I am humbled by being allowed to serve in this capacity, and very grateful for the opportunity to do so.  I'm thinking a lot of Isaac's Bonewitz' delightful maxim, "Why not Excellence?".


Sooo... TUSAL??  It is the Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long, where each New Moon, stitchers show off not their work, but their jar of thread snippets, or ORTS (Old Ratty Threads).  Why? Well...why NOT?!

Above is my jar over the last year - minus those threads that wound up in little pill bottles when I was out and about and forgot to toss them back into the main jar.  The threads will be set out for birds for nesting materials - I've done various things with them over  the years, from offering them to a good fire to using them to stuff ornaments, but I like offering them to our local birds best.

And so, on this first New Moon of 2014, my totally empty jar awaits a year's worth of filling up.  Into this jar will go the labor of my hands, the love I send to those I stitch for, the meditations that come while hands ply the needle, and the frustrations of threads frogged out again when a mistake has been made.  I look forward to it all.

Happy New Year!

~ Lynda