In this season we are inundated with the sights and sounds of the macabre. The ghost that says boo and the bloody zombie that slowly chases us. All of these symbols of death lend a lightheartedness to the realization that death is part of our life path. The emotions we experience as a loved one passes can not be fully described. We vary from sadness to anger and guilt with many other emotions that seem to be beyond our control. As druids we are always communing with our ancestors. We hold great honor for those who have passed before us. Samhain gives us the opportunity to work the task of letting go of to the physical, remembering the mind, and honoring the spirit of those who have passed.
As we step into the Celtic Winter we begin to receive the sustaining gifts from The Dagda’s cauldron of bounty. Gratitude is necessary for what we may be gifted with from The Dagda. If your body is craving steak and you receive a can of spam add a little hot sauce and be thankful.
The Dagda also blesses us in the Celtic Winter with the opportunity to renew our spirit. The earth mother takes a sigh from growth and production. We see nature retreating. Animals secure their beds and rely on the bounty that the Celtic Summer has provided. We too can retreat into our mind and spirit and take this time to enrich our knowledge of the world around us and of ourselves.
The energy of The Mórrigán allows us to simplify and cull negative or disruptive aspects that we may have allowed to enter our life.
This is a time of gratitude and introspection. We now have the opportunity to walk the path of the responsible druid. One who is sustained with gratitude in mind, nourishment of body, and enrichment of spirit.
The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe: Goddesses, Sacred Women and the Origins of Western Culture
[Originally Published in Henge Happenings #99]
McFarland Publishing announced the release this fall/winter of Sharon Paice MacLeod’s new book, The Divine Feminine in Ancient Europe. Sharon is a Henge member and Keltria Journal author.
According to the publisher,
This book is an exploration of the spiritual traditions of ancient Europe, focusing on the numinous presence of the divine feminine in Russia, Central Europe, France, Britain, Ireland and the northern regions. Drawing upon research in archaeology, history, sociology, anthropology and the study of religions to connect the reader with the myths and symbols of the European traditions, the book shows how the power of European goddesses and holy women evolved through the ages, adapting to climate change and social upheaval, but always reflecting the importance of living in an harmonious relationship with the environment and the spirit world. From the cave painting of southern France to ancient Irish tombs, from shamanic rituals to Arthurian legends, the divine feminine plays an essential role in under- standing where we have come from and where we are going. Comparative examples from other native cultures, and quotes from spiritual leaders around the world, set European religions in context with other indigenous cultures.
I am definitely looking forward to reading it. To order, see McFarland Publishing’s web site, http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or Amazon.Com to purchase.
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.
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...