GryphonSong Clan – Feast of Awakening (Imbolc 2014)

Photo of GryphonSong's Keltrian Druid Altar
GryphonSong Altar

Our group is moving toward preparations for The Feast of Awakening in our area.  We will be enacting the sevenfold blessing of stepping through Brid's Girdle (the Crois Bhrighde ).  Healing and Protecting Mantles (Bhrighde Bhrat) will be hanging in the branches all around our Clan's Nemeton.  Our clan family and guests will be told to take them home but leave them outside all night to fully impart the Blessings of Breo-Saighit...our much loved Fiery Arrow.

"A Brighid,
scars os mo chionn
Do bhrat fionn dom anacal?

[Trans: "O Brighid,
 spread over my head
your bright mantle 
to guard me?]

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown me,
No arrow of fairy, nor dart of fay shall wound me.

May the blessings of Brid of the Many Names
be with all of our Keltrian family as we collectively
join our Tree selves in the Great Work of awakening the Earth!
As was shared by our Matron

...

I put songs and music on the wind
before ever the bells of the chapels were
rung in the West 
or heard in the East.

I am Brighid-nam-Bratta (Brighid of the Mantle),
but I am also Brighid-Muirghin-na-tuinne (Brighid of the conception of the waves),
and Brighid-sluagh (Brighid of the immortal host),

Brighid-nan-sitheach seang (Brighid of the slim faery folk),
Brighid-Binne-Bheullbuchd-nan-trusganan-uaine
(Brighid of sweet songs and melodious mouth),
and I am older than Aona (Friday) 
and am as old as Luan (Monday).

And in Tir-na-h'oige (Land of the Ever Young)
my name is Suibhal-bheann (Mountain traveler);
in Tir-fo-thuinn (Country of the Waves)  
it is Cu gorm (Grey Hound);
and in Tir-nah'oise  (Country of Ancient Years)
 it is Sireadh-thall (Seek-beyond).

And I have been a breath in your heart.

And the day has its feet to it that will see me
coming into the hearts of men and women
like a flame upon dry grass,
like a flame of wind in a great wood...

May your hearts open with hope and joy like the first peeking flowers of the coming Spring!

Walk with Wisdom,
Eibhlean and GryphonSong Clan

Unverified Personal Gnosis, Truth and Imbas

Unverified Personal Gnosis, Truth and Imbas

by Searles O’Dubhain

Thumbnail photo of Searles O'Dubhain.

Searles O'Dubhain

As Amergin White Knee has taught us in the Cauldron of Poesy materials:

"When the Cauldron of Knowledge is turned by divine ecstasy, rather than by human joy alone, its special grace is a gift that transforms a person, who becomes both sacred and knowledgeable, so that their works include miracles, prophecies, judgments and precedents. It is these people who establish the wisdom that guides our knowledge and regulates the forms of our speech. Though this knowledge comes from within a person, its truth and its power is from the gods and originates from outside of a person."

This is one of the main abilities of the Draoithe (Irish Druids) and the Filidh (Irish Vision-Poets) that distinguishes them from all others. It is the knowledge that illuminates and is known as imbas in Irish and is called awen in Welsh/British writings and traditions. Some modern folks term such inspirations as UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis). This seems to be an attempt to negate prophetic knowledge and inspiration as being only imagined (until it is verified by currently accepted science or through academic logic alone). To apply this term as a blanket to divinely inspired knowledge is to overlook a few truths from that heritage:

In ancient Irish society and tradition, that which was true was considered to have its own power to stand alone in the world or anywhere, to the point that those who heard truth could see its meaning and importance even when it seemed to contradict those things that were supposed to be the “accepted wisdom.”

To this point, it was the Druids and Poets who were seen to be the sources of imbas and the judges of truth in that society. This attitude and basis in that society had an accompanying paradigm saying that no person could be a Druid, Poet or Judge who had ever been demonstrated to have broken the truth and to have presented a falsehood.

Generally, the imbas or awen that was received by a Celtic Seer was seen to be verified in Nature or in the actions/results of the people presented in the traditional tales. If not already a tradition, then  the results of a divine prophecy or a discovered wisdom had to be eventually demonstrated in society by examples or outcomes (remembering that a given for a wise person in Irish Celtic society was that they retained their status and position only so long as they were shown to be true and correct).

As Katheryn Simms observed and stated in her article, the “Poetic Brehon Lawyers,” this idea of truth from imbas bringing real results to the people was not just an Irish or a Welsh notion, but was a pan-Celtic concept:

“The pagan belief that the moment when a judge issued his verdict was an encounter between the human and the divine, and that the will of the gods was outraged by an unjust decision, while just judgements drew down divine blessings, is already testified among the Celts of Gaul in the first century B.C. where Strabo remarks that the druids were chiefly trusted to try cases of homicide, and that when there is an abundance of these they consider that there is also abundance of the land, presumably because their many just judgements drew down the gods blessing on the crops. “

Imbas is not a free ride. It has to be demonstrated to be true wisdom from the gods. Such inspiration and universal truth is not unlike Einstein’s brilliant understanding about the ways in which matter and energy are related. The truth of it came to him in a flash and he spent years (if not the rest of his lifetime) proving and expanding upon this insight. I expect that ancient and modern druids also do the same with their own knowledge that is received from the minds of the divine. It is not enough to receive the revelation; one must also do the work of bringing the new truths back to the people in a useful and relevant way.

Being true and wise is wonderful but one must also be useful and productive. That is why the demonstration of imbas is to be found in the results that grow from its seeds rather than in claims or even discussion. The tales are filled with how prophecy and the uncovering of hidden things is accomplished or demonstrated to be true. These tales formed the basis of society’s codes of living and morals to the point that prophecy and divine truth were considered to be usual rather than exceptional (or to be challenged as untrue out of hand, as is often the case in our more disillusioned and skeptical modern society). The use of the term UPG, a classification and claim that something is merely made up or an illusion, as a club nowadays to quash inspirations and unusual wisdom to the point that thinking remains within the confines of accepted wisdom, is also a great wrong. Society must continue to advance in its life or it risks the death of stagnation and rot that accompanies the imprisonment of any idea or material thing. Innovation and inspiration deserve open fields upon which to exercise their creative truths to the benefit of all. To keep these in a box only makes for humus and decay, to the point that only nature in her long-term laboratory can transform them into anything new or renewed.

So, let’s rejoice in imbas and rather than calling it UPG, let’s get up and go out into the great laboratories of existence, science, and Nature, to ascertain what the power of truth has uncovered for us via inspiration and knowledge provided to us by the gods. It is only through the verifiable and proven results that we should be known as druids and not by our own or anyone’s claims, or even the acclamations of others, for there really is a truth against the world. Sometimes, one must journey far to find it and bring it back to the people and the lands where life is lived.

-SO

Solitary practice: A full moon rite to Manannan

Solitary practice: A full moon rite to Manannan

by Jenne Micale

Photo of Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

Connecting with your Gods – whether it be your matron or patron, the Gods of the season or whomever you wish to work with at the time – is an important part of Druidic practice. And as a special blessing for solitaries, much of this connection must be made on your own time, rather than with a grove. Grove rituals augment your personal practice but cannot replace it; solitary work provides the spiritual depth and skill development that group ritual draws on.

In my experience, one of the best ways to foster such connection is to have a designated time and ritual to connect with your matron or patron. I have a vigil ritual I perform every 20 days in honor of my matron Brighid, as part of Ord Brighideach. For Manannan, my patron, I do a divination and/or trance-themed rite on the full moon.

“Why the full moon?” you may ask. “Isn't that Wiccan?” The reason I honor Manannan on the full moon is two-fold; first, and most importantly, He requested it. The second concerns his role as sea god; the moon is the puller of the tides, both oceanic and spiritual. Traditionally – and yes, the Wiccans are right about this part – it's an opportune time for magic and divination. Unlike Wicca, however, my full moon rite does not center around a moon/mother goddess, but on the god of the sea and liminality. Granted, one could conceivably honor Manannan on the dark moon as well, but the ritual would have a far different tenor; whereas the full moon is the time of peak flood-tide, the dark moon marks the deepest ebb.

The ritual below can be inserted into the typical Keltrian ritual structure, with the honoring of direction, opening of the Gates and honoring of the Gods, Nature Spirits and Ancestors. Much of the language is co-opted and occasionally reformulated from Alexander Carmichael’s [amazon_link id="0940262509" target="_blank" ]Carmina Gadelica[/amazon_link], that indispensable book of Scottish lore. I did use some from Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson’s compendium [amazon_link id="0140442472" target="_blank" ]A Celtic Miscellany: Translations from the Celtic Literature (Penguin Classics)[/amazon_link]. If I marked it, it’s borrowed from elsewhere. The working/trance invocation — the one that mentions the crane bag — is my own. The salt-water and sage purifications aren’t all that different from other Pagan traditions, probably; feel free to substitute whatever form of purification you feel comfortable with. Feel free to share with whoever is interested; it’s for public use.

Invocation (combination of 11th and 9th century Irish verse from A Celtic Miscellany):

The ocean is full, the sea is in flood, lovely is the home of the ships. The sandy wind has made eddies. The rudder is swift upon the wide sea…. Look before you at the glorious sea, home of creatures, dwelling of seals; wanton and splendid, it has taken of flood tide. Manannan, Lord of the Sea, of wave and of magic, of travel and journeys, of wisdom and truth, I honor you on this night.

Salt water blessing:

I cleanse myself with the salt and the water, with the waters of the sea, the realm of Mac Lir.

Anoint and sing, from the Carmina Gadelica:

A wavelet for thy form
A wavelet for thy voice
A wavelet for thy sweet speech
A wavelet for thy luck
A wavelet for thy good
A wavelet for thy health
A wavelet for thy throat
A wavelet for thy pluck
A wavelet for thy graciousness
Nine waves for thy graciousness.
May the spirit satisfy me with the water of grace.

Cleanse with smoke:

I cleanse myself with the flame and the herb, so that all that is ill is washed from me.

Waft and sing, from the Carmina Gadelica:

Ward from me every distress and danger
Encompass my course over the ocean of truth
I pray thee, place thy pure light before me
O Mananann on this very night
O Mananann on this very night
Be thyself the guiding star above me
May you light every reef and shoal
Pilot my boat on the crest of the wave
To the restful haven of the waveless sea
To the restful haven of the waveless sea

The working; use divination, scrying or trance. Sing:

May Manannan grant me
A glimpse of the crane bag
A glimpse of the mysteries
In the bag of secrets.
A glimpse of the Apple Isle
And its cup of truth
The isles of the Otherworld
And the swine at its feast.
Rattle the silver bough
To laugh, cry or sleep
To lead me on my journey
And to bring me home.

The divination/trance follows; use whatever you’re called to.

The return.

Ground and sing (from the Carmina Gadelica):

Bless to me, O Manannan
The earth beneath my foot,
Bless to me, O Manannan
The path whereon I go;
Bless to me, O Manannan
The thing of my desire
Bless to me, O Manannan
Bless me to my rest.
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my mind
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my love
Bless to me the thing
Whereon is set my hope
O Thou Lord of the Wave
May I be blessed in your eye.

Close with the standard Keltrian ritual format.

Celtic knotwork bar

The Mistletoe Rite

The Mistletoe Rite

by Karl Schlotterbeck

Photo of Karl Schlotterveck

Karl Schlotterbeck

The mistletoe rite has special significance to Keltrians, partly because of the reverence our ancestors had for mistletoe itself, and partly because the Mistletoe Rite is probably the ritual we most celebrate and is also a point of contact with the public. In addition, the Mistletoe Rite represents and enactment of many Keltrian principles. Thus, it is important that anyone with an interest in Keltrian belief and practice, as well as members have as thorough and understanding of it as possible.

The ritual is explained in detail in the Book of Ritual. Nevertheless, because of the significance of this rite, we will examine some of the most important of its aspects.

The significance of the Mistletoe to the ancient Druids is certainly legendary, through its meaning, because nothing was written, is open to conjecture. Of course, there is the “historical” report about Druids cutting the mistletoe with a golden sickle, catching it in a white cloth and making a sacrifice -- all on the “sixth night of the moon.” Since this would have meant in olden days that the fist night of the moon was the first visible crescent (the visible “new moon” as opposed to the astronomical misnomer of new moon which now refers to the conjunction of sun and moon during the “dark of the moon”). Thus, the sixth night of the moon would most likely have been about the first quarter, when the moon was half dark and half light as its cycle was moving toward increasing light (or waxing).

Modern writers have noted Mistletoe’s medicinal uses (which can be explored in most any herbal reference). Others have suggested that it had more symbolic significance since it did not seem to be rooted in the earth, seemed to appear out of nowhere and who’s berries were associated with fertility (though they are toxic). The fertility aspect of mistletoe survives to this day in our winter holiday tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.

Keltrians and the Mistletoe Rite

The focus in the Keltrian Mistletoe Rite is on healing and communion. Then, if we place these purposes within the context of Keltrian traditions, we will see more clearly the meaning of the elements as well as their order. In summary, during the Mistletoe Rite, we consecrate the space, open the veil, meditatively create our symbolic grove of tree-beings, and invite the presence of ancestors, nature spirits and gods and goddesses.

Since the Book of Ritual explains the specifics of each of the elements of the ritual, we will primarily concern ourselves here with the meaning of the various elements. Naturally, proper preparation of the ritual tools, controlling intrusions (like the ringing of a telephone) and selection of the ritual space itself are all part of the preparation. They are “setting the stage” for the celebration and the consensual use of the participants attention and energy for a common cause (healing and communion). When done properly, there will have been a gathering of people who create a timeless and boundless “space” into which is invited those of the Other World whom we revere for the purpose of sharing in feasting and fellowship.

The Rite

In the Mistletoe Rite, celebrants gather to create a timeless and boundless “space” into which are invited past, present and future Druids, the assistance of Manannan Mac Lir, the ancestors, nature spirits and gods and goddesses for a sharing of healing energy as well as feasting. During that time, we have joined consciously with the Other World and those beings share in our world as we do in theirs. Thus, they partake in our songs and food.

The ritual itself is laid out in detail in the Book of Ritual. Some flexibility is certainly permissible in the ritual, however, since it is an organic living thing and its flow of energy may best be served in various ways at different times. Indeed, one may note a discrepancy between the Outline for Mistletoe Rite and the following text in the Book of Ritual. Be that as it may, there are some significant routines and changes should be made only after considering what the original part was intended to do and the spiritual/psychic effect of the change. First of all the veil is parted before the Triads are invoked. (We would not invite someone in without opening the door to ease their entry.)

The Mistletoe Rite begins with the Processional which includes anointing with the oil with blessings of mind, body and spirit. This act alone has several meanings. First, it acknowledges right in the beginning that we are of a triune nature, it honors the Celtic focus on the skull, it begins to bring us into a state of togetherness as well as the first benchmark that we are leaving the ordinary world. The tri-line is a connection with early mysteries since its origin is uncertain.

Marking Sacred Time and Space. Keltrian Druidism takes an approach different from most other traditions in terms of time and space. Many traditions create a circle to contain energy, to banish negative influences, to protect the activity or to otherwise set a boundary between the inner ritual space and the outer (profane) world. Keltrian tradition, however, “universalizes”  sacred space. To do this, Druids, Bards and Seers of the past, present and future are invited to the place of the ritual (into the Otherworldly Tree), making all time now.

In addition, the powers and gifts of the directions are also invoked into the Otherworldly Tree to make all space here. In this way, the Otherworldly Tree becomes the focal point of all time and all space and is symbolically planted in the Hill of Usneach which was considered the ancient Druidic Center of Ireland.

Announcement of Rite. A simple announcement of the nature of the rite may be said, followed by an optional song.

Tree Meditation. The tree meditation is explained more fully in the Correspondence Course.   It helps to move the consciousness of those gathered from their everyday worlds into the sacred space which has just been created.

Parting the Veil. Having brought ourselves into the sacred space, the designated Seer acts to part the veil which normally separates this world from the Otherworld. Generally, a sea shell is the ritual tool used to request of Manannan assistance in parting the veil between the worlds so that we may have more conscious communion. Manannan is considered guard of the veil and in mythology often helps humankind. The optional Manannan chant/song can be sung here.

Triad Invocations. With ourselves gathered at the center of time and space, and the veil between the worlds thinned,    celebrants make specific invitations to the ancestors, spirits of nature and gods and goddesses -- in that order.

A bowl of water is presented and the ancestors invited to enter into it so we may have a physical medium to realize their presence. The celebrant who has invoked the ancestors then anoints the brow of all present with the water into which the ancestors have been called. Optionally, an ancestor chant or song may be sung here.

Similarly, nature spirits are invoked into the cauldron of earth which is then used to anoint the brow of each participant.  Optionally, a nature spirit chant or song may be sung here.

In the same manner, one of the celebrants then invokes the gods and goddesses into the cauldron of burning incense who’s blessing is then disbursed by wafting the incense toward the brow of each person. Optionally, a gods and goddesses chant or song may be sung here.

In this way, with the ancestral waters, earth of the nature spirits and scent of the gods all on our brow, our physical selves are given a sense of real participation and connection with those of the Other world.

A note is due here about ritual protocol. Celebrants who invoke those from the Otherworld (Manannan, ancestors, nature spirits, gods and goddesses) are expected to exercise a respectful manner which we would give any visitor invited into our space: the speaker identifies her or himself -- using their given or magical name -- the way we would if we make a telephone call. After all, the beings invoked during the rite are not servants to do our bidding, but respected guests invited to share the evening with us. This process is more fully explained in the correspondence course invocation lesson.

Explanation of the Rite. Two celebrants (called D1 and D2 in the Book of Ritual) engage in a ritual dialogue which helps to further explain the purposes of the evening’s rite as commemoration of the ancient gathering of the mistletoe at the sixth night of the moon.

Consecration and Blessing. Three drops of mistletoe tincture are put into the two chalices which are then blessed with the sickle and branch and pronounced “the waters of health.” These chalices are then passed sunrise for all who wishes to do so to drink. Generally two chalices are prepared, one with mead and the other with water. Each is equally consecrated.

Feasting. First the drinks are gathered and, using the sickle and branch, a blessing is asked of the ancestors to help us grow in wisdom. In the same way, the food items are gathered together and, again using sickle and branch, the blessings of the nature spirits are asked to bring the celebrants sustenance. A plate and cup of libation offerings are prepared and then all eat as a community, sharing of each other’s bounty. Those of the Otherworld take this opportunity to share in our world’s pleasures as well.

As the celebrants feast, there is often much levity, sometimes songs, stories or poetry or, in more serious moments, theological discussions.

Closing. When deemed appropriate by the primary celebrants, an announcement is made that the closing is drawing near and it is time to bid farewell to those whom we have invited. In closing, all things are done in reverse order. Thus, the gods and goddesses are first thanked by the one who invited them. The nature spirits are thanked by the one who invited them. The ancestors are thanked by the one who invited them.

The one who invoked Manannan to part the veil once more steps forward, thanks him and asks that the veil be returned.

Participants are returned from their tree consciousness created by the tree meditation to human consciousness through a reversal of the tree meditation by the one who lead it in the beginning.

Finally comes the announcement of the closing which includes a statement that time and space will resume their normal course. This may be followed by a song.

The Ritual Process

Over all, one should be aware of the progression of actions within the ritual leading more and more deeply into that boundless, timeless space of gathering and Otherworld connection and, when finished, an orderly return to ordinary consciousness, having been refreshed and renewed through the communion with each other and those on the Other Side of the veil.

  • Processional and Announcement
    • Creation of sacred Time and Space
      • Tree Meditation
        • Parting the Veil
          • Triad Invocations
            • Consecration and Blessing
            • Feasting
            • Thanking the Triads
          • Closing the veil
        • Reversal of Tree Meditation
      • Announcement of Closing

Keltrian Druid Sigil

Ancestors Chant

Ancestors Chant

by “A chorus of Karl’s”

Photo of Karl Schlotterbeck

Karl Schlotterbeck

Archdruid Karl, bard extraordinary put together a fresh Ancestor’s Chant.  The words are simple, and there is a drone of “ancestors” in the background.  You’ll love it.

  • Ancestor spirits, here with us today
  • Waters of blessing, inspire us on our way

The music is available to download or listen. Hear:  Ancestor Chant by Karl Schlotterbeck