Keltria Journal – Birds of Ill Repute

EXCERPT: Birds of Ill Repute:
Grackles and Omens

By Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

The horde comes in the gray of the dusk, their feathers so black that the light fractures into blue on their heads. Keen eyes gleam yellow as they land under the oaks – one iridescent shadow after another, carpeting the ground in a mass of seething black.

I note the direction: South. Bad news from the South? I think of my ill mother, my harried father who live in that direction, and I ready an arsenal of prayers.

But then I stop. With a determined look, the grackles – almost on cue – start grabbing and flipping up the dead leaves, looking a bit like a high school color guard team. I laugh, remembering the time I had put moth balls under my garden shed to deter groundhogs, only to have the grackles steal them all – and toss them around like balls on the lawn, thinking they were eggs.

Common Grackle

Suddenly, they didn't seem like such bad luck after all – just animals, thinking critters looking for their next meal, as we all are.

The ill-omened Icteridae

When it comes to augury and zoomancy – divination by birds and by animals, respectively.... Continued...

[This excerpt is from a three-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #41.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge via Mag Cloud.]


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Keltria Journal: Against Over Intrepretation

EXCERPT: Against Over-interpretation

by Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown

There are two approaches to using signs from nature for divination. One is inherently quite logical but will only give a limited range of meanings. The second is more creatively intuitive but also far more open to the impact of ego and wishful thinking.
If swans come in great numbers to the UK in the early winter this can be a sign of a harsh season to come. The reason is simply that the wind direction that most helps the swans migrate, also brings the bad weather, and the worse the weather is, the further the swans will go to find a wintering spot. The swans are not definite indicators of weather to come, but a large influx of swans can mean the snow is coming. It’s similar to the ways in which animal behaviour can indicate impending natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. They are more attuned to the early warning  signs than we are.

Photo of many swans together in the water.

Swans

Building the knowledge that allows this kind of divination is largely about the investment of time and study. Being aware of normal behaviour patterns and how these are modified by weather changes and so forth is all about observation. Every place has its own wildlife. For example, I know now that when the flocks of curlews stop gathering in the fields, it is a sign of winter ending, as they change their feeding patterns. When I started seeing curlews in the fields last autumn, I had no idea what it signified, and did not hurry to put an interpretation on it.

Without knowing the normal behaviour of another living entity, it is easy to mistake normal activity for omen. Just because I normally don’t see something, does not mean my seeing it is meaningful, only that there is something I am now able to observe. My first thought is to consider the meaning of the activity for the creature or bird I am observing, and the implications of this. The swallows leave here at the start of autumn; their return is a sign of summer coming.  The timing has everything to do with weather and insect populations, and nothing to do with whether I should apply for a new job. If the otters are thriving, the whole water system is doing well. If I see one, it may have far more to do with feeding patterns and otter offspring, than my own emotional life. If the small birds all fly in panic, there may be a predator. They may not be warning me of impending financial disaster. I think when looking at wildlife, it’s best to assume that what they do is about them, and learn from that.
Continued...

[This excerpt is from a three-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #41.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge via Mag Cloud.]

Keltria Journal: White Ravens and Druid Birds

Excerpt: White Ravens and Druid Birds:

Wisdom, Power and Prophecy in Traditional Celtic Bird Divination

by Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha (Sharon Paice MacLeod)

Photo of Sharon Paice MacLeod

Sharon Paice MacLeod

Receiving guidance from the appearance, movement and sounds of birds and animals is one of the oldest forms of prophetic divination, and is found around the world in both ancient and indigenous cultures. In traditional societies humans are understood to be part of the natural world, not separate from or above it. The other living beings who inhabit our world – animals, birds, fish, and insects – are perceived as having wisdom, power and blessings which they can share with human beings, as long as they are honoured and respected.

For those involved with the study or practice of Celtic religion, there are many options to choose from when learning how to understand and interpret the movements and wisdom of our partners in the living web of life. One method is to connect with other living beings and interpret their arrival according to your own personal spiritual or mythic symbolism. Certain animals may appear in dreams, meditations or journeys, and accordingly will have special and perhaps very personalized significance for you.

Photo of a White Raven

White Raven

For example, for one person the owl may be a wonder to see but not evoke a sense of connection. For another the owl who appears in dreams and then on the branch of a tree outside your window will constitute a very different experience. Keeping track of the content of dreams, meditations and other personal workings helps track the appearance and potential symbolism of animals, birds and other creatures.

Another option is to learn about the traditional symbolism of animals in the area in which you live. Someone living in Maine may see different animals than someone in Texas, as might someone living in the south of Britain and the north of Scotland. People following Celtic spiritual traditions in Australia experience a very different natural world than the homelands of their Celtic ancestors, and may not see any of the animals described in Celtic mythology or folklore. Respectfully learning about indigenous traditions associated with birds and animals in your region is another way to connect with the wisdom of the natural world.

For those people practicing Celtic spirituality in Ireland, Britain and other parts of Europe, the indigenous beliefs of their own ancestors are available to them, and are present in the landscape around them. The traditional symbolism associated with divination in Celtic traditions may also be practiced in other areas as well, where many of the same animals may be seen (parts of the north-east and north-west of the United States and Canada, for example). Similar animals may be found in other regions, and some associated symbolism can be connected with those creatures in the area you live in.

Continued...

[This five-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #41.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge via Mag Cloud.]

Keltria Journal 41Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick #41

Yule 2012-Imbolc 2013

Includes:

White Ravens and Druid Birds by Sharynne NicMhacha
Against Over-interpretation by Nimue Brown
The Visit by Tony Taylor
Birds of Ill Repute by Jenne Micale
The Pelegian Heresy by Brendan Myers

Find out more on MagCloud

From the President – Samhain 2012

Samhain 2012

By Tony Taylor

Keltria Journal

Photo of Tony Taylor with deer staffThe first new edition of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick was published in time for Fall Equinox. All members of the Henge should have received access to the download edition.  If you had trouble getting your copy of Keltria Journal, please let the Henge Office know. Print and electronic copies are available on line at www.magcloud.com.

The theme for the next issue of Keltria Journal, number 41 is "Nature Spirits."  How are birds, animals, and reptiles observed in divination? How do you relate to the Nature Spirits in your everyday life?  In what way can or should our interactions with the Nature Spirits impact our daily lives and activities?  Submission guidelines are posted on the Keltria website. If you don’t have access to the internet send a SASE to the Henge Office to request a copy of the submission guidelines.

In the Works

The Council of Elders project, The Book of Keltria is still in progress. Current estimate of completion date is the first of the secular year.

Publishing a 2013 Henge of Keltria Calendar is still in progress.  The Board of Trustees has reviewed the submissions and selected the ones they think were best both in terms of content and reproduction quality. A special emailing will be sent to announce its availability.

[Ed Note: The Calendar has been published. It is available from Cafe Press.]

Keltrian Druid Calendar

Tony’s Druid Blog

Reminder that many of my thoughts are posted to Tony’s Druid Blog http://keltria.blogspot.com/ on a regular basis. Recent Blogs have included:
BBC Radio - The Druids
Tony's Recommended Reading
Druid ritual closes Paralympics in London 2012

- Walk with wisdom, peace, and honor.

Birds and Squirrels

Birds and Squirrels

by Wren

Photo of Wren Taylor

Secretary Wren

Birds are effective eavesdroppers and stunning gossips.  Squirrels play practical jokes and tell shaggy dog stories. The twain usually get along fine in a suburban backyard.  The squirrels enjoy showing off knowing they have the attention of the birds, and the birds try to decode the squirrel jokes to pass on no matter how tattered in the retelling.

My first ritual of the day is to sit next to the backyard pond under the black cherry tree slurping a lukewarm coffee-like substance.  This is where I get my first news of the day.  I don’t understand the squirrel jokes either, but I enjoy the fact that they think they’re funny and how they revel in the recounting.  The birds let me know who is in the neighborhood and what they think of them.  They also share their assessment of the current weather conditions – and more often, than not - their opinions of the squirrels.

One morning was different; the yard was unusually quiet. I didn’t think too much of it, although it had my attention. Within a few minutes, a squirrel came screaming – literally and figuratively – across the tall weathered wooden fence that separates two suburban yards. Hot on his tail was an angry robin looking more like a fighter jet than a bird with wings swept back in attack mode. That was odd; they are usually good neighbors.  Then it happened again; this time it was a different squirrel and a screaming bluejay.  What was going on here? Oh. Eggs.

By this time, my beloved had joined me, so I said, “Negotiations have broken down, and are irreparable.” He responded with his usual “uh-huh”, which means, “yes, Dear, I hear you speaking, but I’m not really listening.”  I heard myself, though, and it got me to thinking. A pebble had been dropped in the pond of my mind causing concentric ripples.

Isn’t that just like the One Percent that has the Ninety-nine Per centers so angry?  The former apparently believe they are entitled to all of the eggs.  Hang on a sec. Isn’t that like the House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington?  Both the Democrats and Republicans don’t want to share any eggs, and squawk loudly each accusing the other side of treachery and trespass.  Hold on here. Isn’t this like countries that invade each other for reasons of resources or ideology?  Whoa. These were not new realizations, of course; however, I had not thought of it in terms of eggs in a nest nor nest eggs.

As a Keltrian Druid, my values and worldview is encompassed in the Beliefs of Keltrian Druidism. Looking closely at theses thirteen statements, I found seven that applied to my line of morning musing. Not every belief applies to all situations, but in this case, when considering how neighbors near and far choose whether to get along or not for creative problem solving culminating in mutually beneficial results, certain tenets do come to my mind. I will explore one for each scenario.

In the case of the One Per-centers, my simplified perception is that while the bail out money may have been repaid in most cases, the spirit of the rescue was that the Ninety-nine Per-centers would see some benefit from the government loans. Instead, displays of greed and focus on corporate profits were the results.  Keltrian Belief #8 applies to this situation, which states: We believe that morality is a matter of personal conviction based upon self-respect and respect for others.  To my thinking, greed is a character flaw, which demonstrates lack of self-respect. Likewise, refusing to do the right thing by easing the burden on the public’s cash flow is disrespectful of these individuals whose tax money saved the day. To me this is tantamount to egg stealing.

Turning to Washington politics, Keltrian Belief #10 comes to mind.  This Belief proclaims in part: We believe in the relative nature of all things, that nothing is absolute…  My impression is that the “us against them” attitude, which appears to emphasize beating the other guys rather than acting in general public interest. This attitude of “my way or the highway” politics has cost us hard working moderates in the House and the Senate who find their hands tied and time wasted when absolutes thrust a stick into the wheel of constructive compromise.  In this case, there are plenty of eggs to share, but special interests are unwilling.

Then there’s the state of world affairs. For this, I’ll turn to Belief #9, which says: We believe that evil is not a matter of inheritance, but of intent.  Why do we have wars?  All too often, I feel we are fed propaganda with a spoon, and told the other side is evil and must be stopped. It’s the get them before they get us mentality. When the layers of onionskin are peeled back one by one, it becomes apparent  - to me at least – that the real issues revolve around either coveting someone else’s eggs or fear of a race of people who have different customs and beliefs. An example comes to mind from a story that pops up from time to time on twenty-four hour news networks. Israel is concerned that Iran will unleash a nuclear attack directed at them. The best option is to attack first because the Iranians are evil. This may be sensationalized by the newsgroups that need to fill airtime, but lit stokes an opinion that is based in fear and not necessarily fact. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I believe that most people in the world are good if not misguided from time to time.  True evil is relatively rare. Good people make mistakes, which cause harm, but it is usually unintentional.  On the other hand, is it intentional evil to mislead others into acting on misinformation?

What does this mean to Keltrian Druids?  As intimately involved in our church as I am, Keltrian philosophies and practices are never very far from my mind. I wonder sometimes if this extends to our other members. Within the last year, two members on different occasions commented on how applying the Keltrian discipline of thinking in Triads, which is a uniquely Keltrian teaching, and conscious application of the thirteen Keltrian beliefs has benefited them in all aspects of their daily lives. I freely admit this brought a grin to my face. Overall, I believe Druids to be inherently practical people, who apply abstract philosophical concepts to mundane situations.

All of this being said, I don’t expect birds and squirrels to understand nor care about my musings. They are creatures of immediacy and have concerns regarding their own politics and survival issues. I thank and honor them for inspiring a fresh and simple perspective. Sometimes when situations seem too large to do anything about such as national and international issues, breaking them down to something as simple as egg stealing can possibly provide a path to solutions so each and every one of us can act using the thirteen Keltrian Beliefs as a guide.

Respectfully submitted,

Nota Bene:  If you are not familiar with the Keltrian discipline of thinking in Triads for problem solving, let me know and I will address it in another essay.