Lus: a flame, an herb

by Jenne Micale

Lus means both "a flame" and "an herb," and invokes Brighid of the hearth, the locus of everyday healing, sustenance and storytelling.

ChaiPotKolkata

Tea Brewing (Chi Pot)

Come then. Your hands lace around the
chipped cup framing your eyes with
rising steam. The knots and veins of them thread
a landscape -- mountains, valleys, broad rivers.

Age hones you into the image of Earth.

At your back, the snow catches sound like mice
on a cat's paw. Turn instead to the fire.

Let it delight your eye, let it spark a
story as it heats the tea, as it draws
us to the corners of the hearth. A breath
and again. Begin with prayers to cattle
and to men. Come then, you chant, let me tell
you of times spun of mist and shit and earth.

Let me tell you of the herb you hold in
your cup. Let me tell you, the singing harp
the strings unstruck, of the hiss of fat from
the cooking fish that turns boy into bard.

It starts with a hearth, with a cup of tea,
with age in your hands and fire in your eye,
a hearkening ear, and a crackling tongue.⁠

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Review: Garbology – Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash

GARBOLOGY: 
        OUR DIRTY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRASH

By Edward Humes

Reviewed by Autumn Rose

Autumn Rose

Autumn Rose

And now for something completely different.

This may seem an odd choice of book to review in a publication about Druidry, but there's a rationale for the choice. As pagans, we are by definition committed to tending and healing the earth. Some of us have been doing this for so long that we do it more out of habit than out of the passion that motivated us in the beginning. This book provides new fuel for that passion. Call it a booster shot.

The art and science of waste management is as old as humanity itself. Needless to say, it has undergone many permutations, from the simple middens of cave dwellers and nomads to the towering garbage mountains and waste-to-energy plants of the present day. Humes's book deals with the present day and the United States in particular. Its major thesis is that waste management in the 21' Century is - to understate the case — problematic. Much of the book is devoted to describing the problems, of which two stand out: first, that we generate far too much trash; and second, that discarded plastics are unmanageable and everywhere. Hume presents absolutely mind-boggling facts about the situation, a few of which are listed here.

Garbology Book Cover

  • The amount of space needed to accommodate one American's lifetime output of trash is equivalent to the space occupied by 1100 graves.
  • While many people know about the collections of trash that have accumulated in the world's several oceanic gyres, many more are not aware that the top few feet of the seas everywhere are filled with plastic confetti.
  • At least 25% of the American food supply is thrown away — by some estimates, as much as 40%.
  • Every year we throw out enough aluminum to replace the entire commercial air fleet four times over, and enough steel to duplicate Manhattan. Repeat, every year.

Having presented an updated picture of the problem, Hume next turns to possible solutions. The first, and sadly the most difficult, is to change our attitude towards trash. He makes the rather startling observation that the "hoarders" currently starring in several TV reality shows have only reacted in a pathological way to what used to be a nearly universal human impulse: an aversion to waste. Hume suggests that we need to cultivate this aversion anew while applying it with more forethought and practicality than hoarders are able to manage. He quotes a statement by the Berkeley Ecology Center: "If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production." That's advice for legislators, designers and manufacturers, but it can be adapted for indivduals and households by replacing the words after "then" with 'don't buy it."

Hume tells the story of one family who were able to collect an entire year's accumulation of non-recyclable waste in a quart Mason jar. (To learn how they did it, read the book.) The planning and discipline required by their program would be too onerous for most of us, but there is no question that we could all reduce the amount of trash we produce with a bit of thought and care.

The author also reviews waste management efforts by various levels of government, with special attention to ease or difficulty of execution, and to what has worked and what hasn't. Readers can mine these chapters for ideas as to what trash regulations and disposal methods they would like to promote to their representatives.

Read the book. It will benefit you at both ends, opening your eyes and delivering a kick in the pants.

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With TrashGarbology Book Cover
Paperback: 336 pages
Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
Publisher: Avery Trade; Reprint edition (March 5, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1583335239

[This reveiw was originally printed in Henge Happenings #100 - Samhain 2013 - ed]

 [amazon_enhanced asin="1583335234" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B00E295ZTG" /][amazon_enhanced asin="B00CAYJRLW" /]

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

Review: The Druid’s Primer

The Druid's Primer

by Luke Eastwood

   Review by Morgan Daimler

There are many books on the market that aim to introduce the seeker to the basics of Druidism, but The Druid’s Primer by Luke Eastwood is perhaps the single best introduction book I have read. It's greatest strength is that it manages to present a great deal of modern Druidic material fairly and with clear references to the sources. The author has done a great deal of research into the historic material, which is also presented well and in an easily accessible manner.

The book begins with a chapter that summarizes the historic material. This was very well done, with the material being covered thoroughly and concisely. This section touches on everything from the early Celtic period and what we have from secondary sources such as Pliny and Caesar up to the modern era revival. Although not gone into as deeply as in other books the single chapter effectively summarizes the highlights and is more than enough to get a beginner started or serve as a basic refresher for a more experienced person.

The next chapter tackles possibly the most complex subject in modern Druidism, defining what a Druid is. The book does an excellent job of presenting the different current theories fairly, including the possible etymologies of the word "druid" itself. The different historical sources are once again drawn upon including Irish mythology and the later Barddas, which the text acknowledges as a well known forgery but also influential on the revivalist period. The author also discusses his own view of what a Druid does and who a Druid is, creating a fascinating and complex picture of the modern Druid.

From here the next seven chapters discuss: Gods & Goddesses, Myth & Legend, Elemental Forces, Cosmology, Inspiration, Imramma, and Animism & Animal Worship. Each chapter is a blend of well-researched history and modern application that manages to offer a balanced view of modern Druidism without favoring any one particular path or focus. In most cases multiple views are offered for the reader to consider with sources given so that the reader may further pursue anything of interest.

This is followed by a section, Cycles of the Sun, Moon and Earth, that looks at the historic and modern way that Druids would honor the passing of time and holy days. The author discusses a system of lunar rituals based on Alexei Kondratiev's book [amazon_link id="0806525029" target="_blank" ]The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual[/amazon_link] that could be used by modern Druids seeking to connect to the moon. This is followed by a discussion of the solar year and it's holidays, including all of the eight holidays of the modern pagan wheel of the year.

Next is a section on tools, which looks at the tools historically attributed to the Druids. It begins by discussing clothing, rather in depth, including the colors likely worn and the Irish texts referring to dress and color. Sickles, wands, staffs, the Druid egg, cauldron/chalice, magical branch, musical instruments, the crane bag, and sword are discussed. The four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann are also mentioned in a modern context as tools that Druids today may choose to use, although they have no historic basis in that context.

The final four chapters look at divination, the Ogham, medicine & healing, and justice & wisdom. Each of these was important in some way to the historic Druids and so each chapter looks at how the subject relates to historic Druidism and how these can relate to modern practice.

Overall this book is more than worth the money and certainly the best book to begin with if one is interested in learning about the path of Druidism. It is full of the history of Druidism and also shows the wide array of modern possibilities that are open to new seekers. For more experienced Druids this book will serve as a great refresher or reference.

[amazon_image id="1846947642" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]The Druid's Primer[/amazon_image]

[amazon_link id="1846947642" target="_blank" ]The Druid's Primer[/amazon_link]
Paperback: 318 pages
Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Publisher: John Hunt Publishing; Reprint edition (February 16, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1846947642
ISBN-13: 978-1846947643
List: $26.95 - Amazon: $19.67 -
Kindle $7.99

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Review: Reiki for the Heart and Soul

Reiki for the Heart and Soul: The Reiki Principles as Spiritual Pathwork by Amy Rowland.

Review by Rovena Windsor

I approached this book with no prior knowledge of the subject but with a curiosity about the topic.

One of the first things I do when I get a new book is check out the footnotes or

Reiki for the Heart and Soul

bibliography and the suggested reading list.  This tells me quite a bit about the scholarship.  I prefer books that act as a guidepost pointing me in the direction of further study and Ms. Rowland does this.

What is her goal for this book?  The title says it all:  Reiki principles as a spiritual pathwork or, in other words, to show the reader how to use the Reiki principles for personal development and spiritual growth - - not a bad goal.  She makes her case that this aspect of the training is not being adequately addressed in most Western Reiki training.

What are the Ms. Rowland’s qualifications to write such a book?  She is a certified Usui Reiki Master for over 20 years and a Reiki teacher since 1994.  She is also a certified hypnotherapist as well as a clinical therapist.

I am first struck by the description of the first Reiki technique and how similar it sounds to grounding techniques that we have all be taught.  This similarity between the things I have been taught and what she is advocating runs throughout the book.

She presents the goals of Reiki as a spiritual path, an expansion of our awareness of our personal potential and healing of the mind, body, and spiritual both of the client and the practitioner.  Ms. Rowland says to start where you are -- very practical advice for anything.  She does not show any physical representation of the three Reiki symbols so as not to violate her oaths.  The purpose of the first symbol is power and protection; the second is mental-emotion healing and intuitive insight; and the third is distant healing and connection to spirit.

The Reiki principles are more of a creed that has many similar versions of it as with anything that was originally an oral tradition:  Don’t be angry today.  Don’t worry today.  Be grateful today.  Work hard today.  Be kind to others today.  The five principles are universal principles.  The majority of the book is spent discussing how to develop a working relationship with each of the five principles.  There is a chapter on each principle.  There are exercises at the end of each chapter.

I would recommend this book for a variety of reasons.  It is written in a clear, easy to understand style.  Anyone with a curiosity regarding Reiki should come away from this book with a basic understanding and should know if Reiki is something they wish to pursue further or not.  The suggested reading list is divided up according to the chapters in the book.  This should help the reader target the books they need more easily.  Even a reader that is not interested in learning Reiki could learn a great deal about how to incorporate these principles into his own spiritual practice.

Reiki for the Heart and Soul: The Reiki Principles as Spiritual Pathwork (Paperback); 256 pages; Healing Arts Press; ISBN: 1594772525; ISBN-13: 978-1594772528 - Recommended.

Lake Healing

The Grove of the Golden Horse has been working on healing one of the most polluted lakes in the United States as our Grove's Choice every Samhain (and randomly at other times as well) for a few years now. Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY was defiled many years ago by industrial waste, so much so that almost 50 years ago, fishing and swimming were not allowed there anymore. There have been many business proposals to clean up the lake, all costing millions of dollars and using elaborate methods, yet our lake remains unclean.

A few years ago, Chief Druid/Grove Leader TopazOwl read a book by Dr. Masaru Emoto entitled The Hidden Messages in Water (a New York Times Bestseller). In brief, the author discovered (to quote from the book jacket) that "crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors." The book contains actual high-speed photographs of frozen water crystals under several different conditions. The pictures consistently show that good thoughts and words directed at polluted water actually helps it form more complete crystals; in effect, it becomes healthier water.

The implications of this are astounding. It means we can heal water (and by extension, other things that contain or are made of water, including humans) simply by projecting good feelings and saying nice things! Of course, this is transformative magic, so we know that it is a magically sound practice. TopazOwl began to realize that we could actually help to heal the earth by healing the water in this manner. She decided that we should begin on a smaller scale and in our own back yard, where the pollution of the lake has been such a blight on our community for so many years.

Members of the Grove collected water from the lake in a clear bottle before our ritual. Dr. Emoto found that the water responded best to words and thoughts of love and gratitude (judging from the crystals it formed), so the Grove directed strong feelings of love and gratitude to the water in the bottle. We thanked the water for its beauty and its life-giving properties -- all of the many things we could think of to thank it for and praise it for -- and we drew loving and healing symbols with intent on a white paper, which we then wrapped like a label, except the symbols show from the inside (so the water can "see" it).

After the water was exposed to the "loving label" for a time, it was returned to the lake. It is our belief that the energy-purified water, even though it is only a small amount, will spread its energy to the polluted water still in image029the lake, and so help to "entrain" the lake water with love and gratitude as well, starting a sort of "chain reaction." This way more is done with less energy, because to try to heal the entire body of water at once would be daunting task.

The interesting thing we observed is that, after the bottled lake water spent some time in the bottle with the loving and grateful words and symbols, it became much cleaner to the eye than when we first collected it.

Recently it was reported on the local news that there is evidence that the lake is slowly cleaning itself, that she is actually less polluted than she once was. This is good news, and Golden Horse Grove, for our part, will continue to help her indefinitely.

-  The Topaz Owl


[This project was a The Druid Academy Nomination Award Committee (DANAC) Golden Oak Award winner for 2008 for most  Inspiring external project begun in 2008 by a grove or member (s) of ADF, Keltria, RDNA, MOCC, OWO, OMS/RDG. Non-exhaustive examples include: activism, ecology, public outreach, legal moves, publishing, charity, civic involvement, interaction with other religious organization, etc. See: http://www.geocities.com/mikerdna/danac2008.html for details. - Ed.]