EXCERPT - The Visit
By Tony Taylor
The setting was a suburban, single-family home one mile from downtown Quincy, MA, and eight miles from downtown Boston. This is a densely populated - or as the locals say, “thickly settled” area and an unlikely place for the wonderful, as in full of wonder, event about to transpire.
The Druids were gathered for a rare ritual. The elevation of a Druid to the Ring of the Oak occurs only after a minimum of seven years of study, experience, and service. More often than not, it requires twice that many years to be considered for this honor. The candidate was, as expected, excited as he meditated on his past accomplishments and future challenges. He wondered what new mystery would be revealed and what new experiences would unfold. The other Druids focused their minds on providing the ultimate experience for him. Often, the clergy performing the ritual gain their own new insights from the process. It was an extraordinary and auspicious day.
The Chief Druidess, the Candidate and I....Continued...
[This excerpt is from a two-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.]
The Gaian Tarot
by Joanna Powell Colbert
Review by Jenne Micale
Many years ago, Joanna Powell Colbert’s detailed and intricate drawings caught my eye when I was perusing a Pagan-themed book. When I learned several years ago that she was working on a Tarot deck, I was excited and delighted. The Gaian Tarot – published by Llewellyn – is the long-awaited result.
Every card in the deck features Colbert’s incredibly detailed artwork and is replete with natural imagery, from the field of lavender in the Nine of Earth (in which the central figure is Colbert herself), to the turtle and fish in the Guardian of Water, the warring eagles in Five of Air, and the shining water and rotting bird in Death. The suits are divided according to element and the court cards according to age: Child, Explorer, Guardian, Elder. The humans depicted in the cards exemplify the range of human diversity and offer, in their way, a utopian vision of what our society could be.
The cards are loosely based on Rider-Waite, although they have their own take on traditional images. The Seven of Water, for example, displays not a woman lost in dreams (contained by chalices), but a man who chooses a chalice and drinks it to the full. While the Six of Pentacles is traditionally the alms-giver, the Six of Earth shows money being exchanged at a farmers’ market. The Eight of Earth – one of my favorite cards – shows a father teaching his daughter how to play djembe rather than a child carving a pentacle, although the Rider-Waite and Gaian tarot both express the dedication required in mastering a skill. The Fool is now the Seeker, the Empress the Gardener and the Devil, Bindweed – to name a few of the changes in the Major Arcana.
To a novice tarot reader, the departure from Rider-Waite may make learning this deck a little problematic. The relative dearth of negative cards may complicate readings for more mundane purposes; the Ten of Air – geese flying during the fall migration – espouses a theme of endings, but not in the dramatic and traumatic manner of the Ten of Swords. But overall, the Gaian Tarot is excellent in giving guidance in spiritual matters – wise and gentle – and for meditation. Highly recommended.
[amazon_link id="0738718912" target="_blank" ]Gaian Tarot[/amazon_link] by Joanna Powell Colbert
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; Crds edition (September 8, 2011)
Brighid's Well: A Meditation
By Jenne Micale
The following meditation is one that I frequently use for myself, as well as use in rituals for White Cat Grove. The central images are Brighid's well and the bilé, or sacred tree, upon which strips of cloth are hung. In Ireland, wells are sacred to Brighid – the goddess and later the saint – and the destination for pilgrims seeking healing even today. As Irish monk Sean O'Duinn notes in [amazon_link id="1856074838" target="_blank" ]The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint[/amazon_link], strips of cloth were frequently hung on the sacred trees located beside holy wells, perhaps as means to transfer illness away from the body.
On a practical note, solitaries performing the meditation can either record it themselves or, if more experienced, memorize the basic sequence of images and see where it takes them. I've included pauses for those who are reading the meditation to others. The best way to make sure the pauses are long enough is to go on the journey yourself, splitting your consciousness just enough to read and see at the same time.
Use whatever trance induction works for you. The one I use most frequently is descending a staircase into the Earth, with the stairs shifting from red to orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and then white before ending at the gate to the Otherworld. I use a frame drum as a trance “steed” or ritual tool; feel free to use your bell branch, a rattle or go without, as your spirit calls you.
Follow the beat of the drum, deeper and deeper into the Otherworld. (Pause.) Settle yourself under the Otherworldly Tree, the World Tree, the axis mundi that links the worlds within and without. Settle in and let yourself see or feel this tree; let your mind wander until the vision comes into focus. Let the drum guide you, focusing your attention. How does the tree appear to you? (Pause)
The tree is the starting place on our journey today. Breathe in and out, in and out. Standing beneath the tree, let your eyes skim the landscape of the Otherworld. What do you see? What sort of land lies before you? Is it day or night? What season is it? (Pause)
Today, we shall journey to Brighid's well, her holy well of healing. Call for a guide to come to you, speaking from the depths of your heart. (Pause) Who or what is this guide? Greet your guide and ask to be taken to the well. (Pause) Your guide begins to lead you there. Where does the road lead you, through what landscape, in what direction? Notice your journey, for the path has meaning in and of itself. (Pause)
You arrive at the well. See how it appears to you. Does it have the rough-hewn loveliness of nature, or has it been ringed by stones or decorated by human hands? Is it open to the sky, or covered by a roof – the thatch of the countryside or the majestic shaping of stone? (Pause)
On one side of the well, you see a tree decorated with ribbons and streamers of cloth. They are clooties, prayers to Brighid tied on its branches. What sort of tree is it? Look closely. (Pause) At its foot is a basket containing ribbons. Take one and notice its color. (Pause) If you feel moved, tie one on the trees branches to ask a prayer of Brighid. (Pause)
Now, we go to the side of the well for a prayer. If you wish it, your guide will offer a a ball of clay for you to shape your prayer into or possibly a clay tablet to write on. You can shape the clay into an image of a body part or person you wish to heal, or use a stylus to write your prayer on the tablet. Take some time to do this. (Pause)
Your guide beckons that it is time to go. Give your thanks to Brighid, the well, the tree, this holy place. (Pause) Follow your guide back along the path, back to the Otherworldly Tree where we began. (Pause) Take a moment to thank your guide. (Pause)
Now slowly open your eyes. Shake yourself out. Slap your cheeks, pull your earlobes and stamp your feet. Welcome back!