HH-99 – From the President – Lughnasadh 2013

From the President

 Lughnasadh 2013

By Tony Taylor

Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe and Annual Meeting

Photo of Tony Taylor with deer staff

Tony Taylor

Wren and I have been busy with our many projects. Certainly the 2013 Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe and Annual Meeting of the Henge of Keltria was at the top of our list.  Every gather is great, but this year was among the best.  I hope we will have the gathering hosted there again sometime.

I enjoyed the field trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as workshops by Topaz Owl, Eibhlean Owl, and Steward of the Wood. It was really nice to meet our OBOD guests and a newer member from California who drove over 1000 miles to the gathering. She easily earned bragging rights for driving the longest distance to attend. There were many opportunities to connect with the nature spirits. Marmots, pikas, elk, magpies, and humming birds visited us throughout the field trip.

Book of Keltria

The big project Wren, Karl, and I are working on is the new Book of Keltria, which is our correspondence course in book form. There are new theology and ritual chapters replacing the previous versions of the correspondence course material. Also the Gods chapter has undergone substantial rewrite. A big change in the theology chapter is that the “beliefs” have been replaced with “hallmarks” of Keltrian Druidism. The fundamental difference between the beliefs and the hallmarks is that within Keltrian Druidism, what you believe is not as important as what you do. Hallmarks are based upon actions rather than words.

Book of Ritual

Another big project underway is a substantial rewrite of the Book of Ritual.  There are many things that were not covered adequately in  previous versions of the Book of Ritual. I hope to get this information incorporated and a new edition released soon after the Book of Keltria. This expanded edition will provide details on the how, what, and why of Keltrian ritual.

 

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

Hotfoot from the Gods:

Resistance and Ritual

By Jenne Micale 

Jenne Micale

Jenne Micale

“I hope Brighid isn't angry at me,” I fret.

My husband smirks. “No, Brighid is laughing her ass off,” he replies.

It's Meán Geimhridh, and yet again I've swallowed my inherent dislike of snow and darkness to organize an appropriately solemn rite, one that has us pondering our blessings, rolling around on the metaphysical floor in abject gratitude and making fervent vows to repair the inherent brokenness of human culture. No sublimation of guilt there, no, not at all.

And the mishap happens, right on cue – just as it does virtually every midwinter, in one form or another.

This time, it's the mysterious chimney damper, which floods the entire house with woodsmoke. Then there was the year the candle flame shot up four inches high, refused to be doused and cracked the glass; I had to drown it in the sink after the rite. Then there was the time I set my sleeve on fire during the ceremony and a fellow priestess patted it out.

While I've had my share of ritual faux pas, I usually put on a meaningful ceremony for the Kindreds and the Druids in attendance. Meán Geimhridh, however, eludes me every year.

Oddly enough, it's the unsuccessful rituals that offer the deepest lessons. One-time failures can point to gaps in the planning process, the organizer's knowledge and skill, or the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Repeated failures, however, are signposts of another type, pointing the way to truths that the group or the individual priest or priestess refuse to face.

Repeated failures needn't involve an actual holy day, in the case of Meán Geimhridh, although that's fairly common. They can involve practices such as meditation, daily worship, even particular types of spellwork. Addressing the situation comes down to a few simple questions: What am I resisting, or refusing to see? What really turns me off, whether it's rational or not?

In my case, I've long had a marked resistance to the winter solstice. In part, it's the connection with what we know as Christmas traditions: gift-giving, greenery, silly music, feasting. The winter holiday is all shiny joy, something that I tend to interpret as shallow. Instead, I'm trying to steer us back into the darkness in all its Gothic glory and atone for the commercialism of the season. Coupled with that is a thirst for something ecstatic: drawing us outside the boundaries of our own beings, to drink at the well of cosmic truth.

No matter which way I slice it, Meán Geimhridh -- Yule, Winternights, whatever name you choose -- is as sweet as a slice of fruitcake, which makes perfect sense.

Merriment -- the gathering of loved ones, gifting, feasting, song -- truly is key to the meaning of solstice. In winter's depths, a community requires some levity to survive. Laughter lightens the darkest night. Companions warm the cold road. You don't survive the winter alone by denying loved ones, silliness, or cake in favor of a dour utilitarianism. By the same token, you can't just ecstatically trance the winter away; you need planning and grounding in the cold realities of the storehouse, whether that's finances in a down economy or the actual food in your root cellar.

Solstice is a dance between survival and celebration, seriousness and joy. After all the preparations for winter's rule, the balance starts to tip on the darkest night. Yes, the coldest months are ahead -- but so is the light.

Celebration is a kind of ecstasy -- the kind that draws you out of yourself, cracking a smile from ear to ear as a loved one rips through colored paper. Solstice is a liminal time when we forget our rules: the social rules of master and servant, the eggshell-walking boundaries of family life and power dynamics, the rules of diets and propriety. We act like children, rejoicing in food, fun, ridiculous songs.

Which is why Brighid laughs at me in this season and sets my sleeves on fire, “You're so damned serious. Lighten up!”