From the Vice President – Imbolc 2014

by BeanSidhe

Photo of Vice President BeanSidhe

Vice President BeanSidhe

Greetings fellow Keltrians,

As I began to prepare to write this letter I decided to look back at some older additions of the Henge Happenings. I wanted to see if I was on the right track with what is to be conveyed in this quarterly newsletter.

I started with HH #31 which was released August of 1996. Issue after issue what continued to jump out at me was the sheer determination to produce the finest quality Druid origination possible.  My chest swells with Celtic pride as I Continue reading

From the Vice President – Samhain 2013

Photo of BeanSidhe

BeanSidhe

In this season we are inundated with the sights and sounds of the macabre. The ghost that says boo and the bloody zombie that slowly chases us. All of these symbols of death lend a lightheartedness to the realization that death is part of our life path. The emotions we experience as a loved one passes can not be fully described. We vary from sadness to anger and guilt with many other emotions that seem to be beyond our control. As druids we are always communing with our ancestors. We hold great honor for those who have passed before us. Samhain gives us the opportunity to work the task of letting go of to the physical, remembering the mind, and honoring the spirit of those who have passed.

As we step into the Celtic Winter we begin to receive the sustaining gifts from The Dagda’s cauldron of bounty. Gratitude is necessary for what we may be gifted with from The Dagda. If your body is craving steak and you receive a can of spam add a little hot sauce and be thankful.

The Dagda also blesses us in the Celtic Winter with the opportunity to renew our spirit.  The earth mother takes a sigh from growth and production. We see nature retreating. Animals secure their beds and rely on the bounty that the Celtic Summer has provided. We too can retreat into our mind and spirit and take this time to enrich our knowledge of the world around us and of ourselves.

The energy of The Mórrigán allows us to simplify and cull negative or disruptive aspects that we may have allowed to enter our life.

This is a time of gratitude and introspection. We now have the opportunity to walk the path of the responsible druid. One who is sustained with gratitude in mind, nourishment of body, and enrichment of spirit.

 Walk with Wisdom,
BeanSidhe

Help Wanted!

From the Vice President - Lughnasadh 2011

By GreyBoar

Photo of GreyBoar

Vice President GreyBoar

Imagine this advertisement in your local newspaper under the “Help Wanted” section.
======================================

HELP WANTED:  LOCAL DRUIDS NEEDED!!!
--------------------------------------------------------------
TOP PAYING POSITIONS NOW BEING OFFERED IN NEW START UP GROVES…UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT WITH A “SIX FIGURE” INCOME! EARN AS YOU LEARN…

With our new program based on ancient principles we’ll not only teach both men and women how to become advisers or consultants to KINGS and PRESIDENTS and to grow long white beards but to also make BIG CASH!!! Learn how to contact the Old Gods for all your needs as well as being the first in your community to wear a white robe and SOLID GOLD TORQUE!!!

--------------------------------------------------------
1-369-CALL-DANU
=============================================

Don’t we all wish that this were true? Except for the part about women growing long white beards, this sounds fantastic! People would beat our doors down to become members.

Yet, there are many opportunities within The Henge of Keltria. First, have you completed the Henge’s correspondence course?  Have you considered starting a study group? Or, if you’ve done that, taking it a step further by forming a Grove?  If you’re already a Grove member are you volunteering within that Grove to assist in training new members or fulfilling some other position?

There are many resources available to members of the Henge to assist you in these endeavors, for example “The Grove Leader’s Handbook” or “The Henge Of Keltria’s Book of Ritual”. What about volunteering to give talks at local Pagan events to better inform people about The Henge of Keltria and Druidism?

I know I’ve kicked this can around before. As individuals, it’s sometimes hard to recognize the opportunities available to us. Religion is a very personal matter and not at all easy to share at times. I’m not a “Druid Evangelical” nor do I expect you to be. Never the less, when the chance does present itself, speak up! At the minimum, it’s very easy to refer someone to WWW.KELTRIA.ORG for more info.

In closing, we will never be able to offer the  “perks” in this silly ad I wrote. It’s up to us as members to help The Henge and Keltrian Druidism grow.

To All a Blessed Lughnasadh!
GreyBoar

Greetings All! – Beltaine 2011

Photo of GreyBoar

Vice President GreyBoar

Mother Nature has been at again.  It’s been quite a winter for most here in the U.S. though I’m sure that by now warmer weather has come your way.  This year started with record temperatures and snowfall amounts for many.  Some people here in the north Georgia area were trapped in their neighborhoods for nearly a week by iced roads.  Folks in some of the northern states really were trapped by snow that measured in feet rather than the few inches we experienced here.

Now with all the recent volcanic and tectonic activity as well as the major earthquake and tsunami in Japan, it seems as though Mother Nature has it in for us.

Not really though, it’s just the way the laws of nature work.  As Druids, we of all people should understand the basics of nature and learn to exist within Earth’s various events and cycles.  One of my favorite triads is:

“There are three people accursed: they who work against the laws of Nature without concern, they who know nothing of the Mighty Ones and do not seek to learn, and they who know much and will not share their knowledge with any other.”

Of particular importance to the subject of this article is the first third of this triad…the section regarding working against Nature.  For the most part, we can’t control Nature with the exception of being in a very small environment such as a building or other enclosure.

Acting unsafely or foolishly against Nature can actually curse you, with the possibility of loss of limb or life. The best we can do is to prepare for these cycles and events.  Sometimes it’s easy enough, for example, putting on ones coat, hat and gloves to go out into the cold.  On the other hand it could be quite difficult too, if for instance you and your family had to evacuate your home for several days because of an impending hurricane or wildfire.

This last March was “National Preparedness Month” and so I took the time to research, via the internet some ideas as how to better ready myself and family should some sort of disaster occur.  According to the American Red Cross, folks should have a “72 Hour Kit” or bag…sometimes called a “bug out bag” or B.O.B. I learned that there are important items that every family should keep on hand within the home, that their courses enabling one to assist injured family members and neighbors in the event of a disaster.  I won’t go into all the details because your preparations will be unique to you, your location, and your level of experience.

The American Red Cross has various websites addressing these issues.  Then too, there’s an organization called “Zombie Squad” that offers some very practical ideas and advice while at the same time lacing it with “zombie humor”.  (“Zombies” being a metaphor for disastrous events)  Their web address is; www.zombiehunters.org.

Take the time to ready yourself and be “the Druid in the know” as it may save the lives of friends or family should the need arise.

Have a blessed and safe Beltane!
- GreyBoar

Greetings All! (Samhain 2010)

By Grey Boar

Photo of GreyBoar

Vice President GreyBoar

The old Celtic year has ended and what a year it has been! Undoubtedly it was one of the busiest years I’ve ever experienced.

It was my privilege to meet those of you who were able to attend the “2010 Keltrian Gathering of the Tribes” here in Cumming, Georgia. The entire weekend was a joyous occasion for me and I thank all of you who took time out of your busy lives to attend.
I also want to thank those of you who contributed your time and effort to the success of the excellent workshops and rituals. Then too, I’d like to offer my gratitude to those members of Olde Stone Grove who participated as well as my bandraoi, BeanSidhe for all her hard work in planning and preparing for the event.

Tony and I manned a table for “The Henge” at Atlanta Pagan Pride Day on Saturday, October 9th. We handed out “Keltrian’ info flyers and membership forms to all people interested… and there were plenty! The official count was just under 900 attendees that day. As a side note, there was also a drive to collect food for the needy in Atlanta through the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The Bank was blessed with over a half ton of food collected from attendees and vendors.

At this time, I’d also like to give my appreciation to Tony for assisting me with the “Introduction to Keltrian Druidism” workshop.

Recently “Druidry” was recognized as an “official” religion In the United Kingdom, although some there are still unsure whether this is a good thing or not. It remains to be seen how this will affect the different groups there.

Yet with all the wonderful events that have occurred this year there has been sadness as well.  Alexei Kondratiev and Isaac Bonewits passed this year; both who were invaluable contributors to modern Druidism. The Atlanta Pagan community is certain to miss Lady Sintana founder and Wiccan High Priestess of the House of Ravenwood who crossed through the veil in September.  She was one of the first to fight for our rights to follow the Old Religion, in whatever form, here in the United States.

As we gather for ritual to honor our Ancestors this Samhain, let us all take time to remember all those whom have passed into “The Other World” this year and raise our drinking horns to their honor as well.

Still, the Celtic New Year is upon us. It would be wonderful to see more members enrolled in the Henge’s correspondence course. Then too, we would need more people involved in mentoring those students. Though we’re certainly not evangelistic, it would be beneficial to our Henge to have more members with the capabilities of “furthering” our tradition. Hopefully this would lead to more Groves. So why don’t you toss those ogham sticks and see what the Gods would have you do this year!

Happy Celtic New Year and a blessed Samhain to all!

From the Vice-President – Beltaine 2009

by Wren Taylor

Oath -- Noun (pl. oaths)

Vice-President Wren

Vice-President Wren

1.   A solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding ones future action or behavior: they took an oath of allegiance to the king.
a.   A sworn declaration that one will tell the truth, esp. in a court of law.
2. A profane or offensive expression used to express anger or other strong    emotions.

Last issue’s musings on inaugurations and initiations led me down the path to consider oaths. Both experiences usually require an oath. When the words of an expected oath are known beforehand, does the candidate actually weigh them and consider whether or not she or he can truly deliver what is being promised? Or since the root of the word, auguare  - to augur, indicates that the outcome is open to interpretation, does that mean that the words spoken in an oath are also open to interpretation?

When I think of the presidents that have served so far in my lifetime stretching back to Eisenhower, I wonder whether phrases such as “faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States” or “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” is open to the interpretation of the individual. When those men spoke these words, were they thinking the same thing? Probably not. Nor do I expect my own connotation to be the same.

Granted, when a candidate for initiation comes to the place where an oath is required, that person usually has little or no idea what is involved. We don’t make a habit of offering scripts of the ritual prior to the event.  Even so, I have never seen anyone choose not to take an oath and halt the ritual. Looking back at my own initiatory experience, I can’t say that I was in enough of a cognitive state of mind to comprehend the details of what was happening around me and to me. Are oaths extracted during stress or duress binding? Even if the candidate is there of their own free will and has prepared for the experience?

This leads me to wonder whether people go through the motions and speak the words required to get what they think they want. Like notches on the bedpost, I’ve seen folks attempt to collect initiations like trophies. When confronted as to why this is a good thing to do, the person usually shrugs and points to an honest if not misguided quest for knowledge. I have to wonder whether any of the oaths taken in said pursuit pose any contradictions. Not only that, but if the intention is honorable as in the thirst for knowledge, is it okay to promise whatever is required to achieve that end?

Here’s another thought:  Are you freed from an oath if it was taken so long ago that you don’t remember the particulars? One warm and lazy afternoon, I was engaged in casual conversation with an initiate of a different tradition. As we sat in the grass, he toyed with a bug and a twig. As you can guess, this activity ended with the bug’s demise. Even though it had been over a decade since his initiation, I witnessed his oath to not knowingly cause harm to the living. Did he forget? Do bugs not count? Should he have been cognizant enough in that moment to stop the proceedings and say, “Hey, y’know, I’m not certain I can make that promise.” How is it that a priestess of a different tradition remembers so long and so well, and the initiate does not?

The previous example involved an adult. What about children? My earliest memories of school include the Pledge of Allegiance. Most adults can’t help but giggle at the cuteness quotient of a six-year-old mangling the words. Can a child fathom the meaning of this oath?

I don’t recall receiving an explanation; it was part of the morning routine. We participated with no thought involved. Teacher said we had to do it. Am I to be held accountable for this oath spoken in front of countless witnesses countless times without fair understanding? I will also admit, that by the time I entered high school, it never occurred to me to question the words nor the practice. In this day and age, I have heard of some parents objecting to the Pledge of Allegiance, and their children being allowed to sit quietly while the others participate.

That being said, can an oath be undone when enlightenment or evolution alter a person’s heart? If a person arrives at the point where there are clear and valid objections to the concepts behind an oath, can it be broken?

Now let’s go back in time prior to the women’s liberation movement and look at wedding vows. These were usually prescribed by the denomination. Writing your own vows, which constitutes an oath, was rare if not unheard of back in the day. I shudder to think how many women readily agreed to “obey” and “’til death do us part”.  In fact, I shudder when I recall how my thankfully long-gone lover hissed the word “death” as he spoke his wedding vows. Is it oath-breaking if the bride becomes the battered wife, and leaves to save her life?

Given the divorce statistics, there are many broken oaths out there. For as many church weddings that I have attended, I’ve never been to one where the oaths have been undone. Some how, it doesn’t feel right to leave all of that energy floating around out there ungrounded. Can or should an oath be broken when a situation changes?  Can or should another oath be taken to cancel the first one? Do you tough it out hoping things will straighten out eventually? What if someone’s life is in danger? A bug’s? Yours?

Also consider the Hippocratic Oath. It is my understanding that this is no longer required in all cases, but set that aside for a moment in the spirit of discussion. The “do no harm” clause is cause for ethical debate.

Let’s say we have a premed student, who in the beginning is adamantly against abortion and assisted suicide. In this case, the student understands that the Hippocratic Oath will be required to graduate and work as a doctor. The average number of years invested in becoming a doctor is roughly twelve. A person can do a lot of growing and changing in that amount of time not to mention the amount of debt incurred in procuring the education.

Let’s say that the life experiences of our student brought about a reversal in thinking regarding both issues. Here we are looking at graduation day and directly into the maw of a huge debt. The generally accepted interpretation of “do no harm” is that abortions and assisted suicides are harmful. Does our student cross fingers behind the back and take the oath anyway to pursue a life’s passion and be in a better position to pay off the debts? Does our student recognize that this is an oath that cannot be honored, pick up a shovel and join a construction crew?

Here’s another scenario:  Loose Lips Sink Ships. It’s relatively common knowledge that many initiatory oaths contain passages wherein it is sworn that initiates’ names and other personal information will not be divulged. This is because people practicing some alternative religions have lost jobs or homes or even had children taken away from them. The pages of history are filled with tales of even worse consequences.

Picture Chatty Cathy, who took such an oath, but in the interest of name-dropping, shared oath-bound information freely. The excuse was, “I didn’t mean to do it! I wasn’t thinking!” If the intention to break an oath is not there, is it oath breaking? Is oath breaking due to negligence pardonable? The damage is still done.

My mother-in-law needed a new computer, but her husband was being uncooperative. In a playful spirit, I composed an oath for him to take stating that he would indeed help her acquire the machine of her dreams. Even though it was all in good fun with a purpose, I was serious and so was he. Laughing, he raised his hand, spoke the words, then point blank told me that it wasn’t the first oath he would break and wouldn’t be the last. Scoundrel that he was, I have to admit that he was being forthright and honest. More honest than some oath-breakers I have experienced.

Are oaths a matter of personal integrity no matter who witnesses them? Is there such a thing as Oath Police? Should there be? Can an oath be enforced if it is coerced? Can an oath be taken back? Private or public, an oath has something that sets it apart from an informal utterance. Has that gone by the wayside today? Is it okay to conveniently forget when the drama has passed? What if someone unintentionally breaks an oath? What if that oath breaking causes harm to another? Serious harm? Are oaths open to interpretation? By whom?

The English language being confounding as it is, I think it rather curious that the definition of “oath” also includes a negative usage. The Oxford English Dictionary offers: an appeal made lightly …….a careless use of the name of God or something sacred.  Call me a cynic, but the words “lightly” and “careless” really hit me as the norm.

From the Vice-President – Imbolc 2009

Vice-President Wren

Vice-President Wren

By the time you read this, the presidential inauguration is history. The excited planning beginning the day after the election prompted me to think about the significance of the ritual involved in investing a new president. It had a familiar flavor. It seems very much like our own initiations. If this be the case, then I have to wonder what the effect of this ritual will be. I have witnessed initiations that have had profound ramifications for both good or ill, all the way to not much fizz at all. Sometimes it is difficult to anticipate what the reaction will be, so you hold your breath to see what comes out the other side of the experience. First things first, though. Are the two - initiation and inauguration - the same? Or even close?

One of the definitions of inauguration according to the Oxford American Dictionary is: to admit (a person) to office with a ceremony. That sounded very much like the definition of initiation, and sure enough the same dictionary states: to admit (a person) into membership of a society etc. often with special ceremonies. Just for fun, I consulted my trusty, dusty thesaurus and I was not surprised to see that the word initiate corresponded with inaugurate. This got me thinking..... I can hear my husband in the background saying, “Uh-oh.” with a grin on his face.

Over the years, he and I have presided over many Initiations and Elevations. The decision to initiate or inaugurate a candidate is a serious one. Yes, candidate is the same term used whether it’s a presidential hopeful or one seeking acceptance into the Mysteries. The interesting thing is that no matter how well you think you know a candidate, national or otherwise, you may very well be surprised by how that person reacts to the initiatory (inaugural) experience. Some react with a renewed sense of community and duty, while others become seemingly drunk with perceived power. These people transform into a sore source of consternation for their initiators who certainly did not see THAT coming. Why wouldn’t this apply to the national level as well as the microcosm of the small group?

In fact, I do see similarities, which provides me with an evolved perception. Whether an initiation “takes” or not, or whether the reaction is positive or negative, I feel the person  responsible for the candidate is just that: responsible. Therefore, if initiation and inauguration are related, which apparently they are, then as a voter, I am still responsible for offering guidance to the candidate. If my responsibility does not end at the initiation, why should it end with the inauguration?

I went further into the dictionary to discover that the root of the word inauguration is from the Latin inaugurat, which is interpreted as omens (from the flight of birds) based on augurare, to augur. That surprised me. The root of the word inauguration indicates that the outcome is open to interpretation. It is also literally unpredictable just as it is in the intimacy of the small group. You cross you fingers, hope for the best and be there to offer guidance when the need arises.

- Vice President Wren