Canada East Druid Meeting June 2016

Just back from a wet yet wonderful time at Raven’s Knoll where I got to attend the meeting of the Canada East Druid Leadership, hosted by our Regional Druid, Erin.  For the first time in our grove history, we got to make our report in person, which was wonderful, but even more wonderful was a chance to meet our Arch Druid, Drum  (pictured below).  While I did not get a lot of time to sit and chat with him, my impression was of a dedicated man who has the best interest of the ADF and it’s Canadian druids at heart.  He did mention in his welcome words that he hopes to be able to visit each of the Canadian groves before his tenure is complete,  a goal I certainly hope he accomplishes.  Also mentioned was the fact that ADF is going through some changes in the next few years.  It is his hopes that Canada can help to test out many of the changes for the ADF, before they become mainstream.  This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for Canada to play a role in shaping the future of the ADF in some way.

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Other than that I presented our current projects, outreach, grove membership information, and future plans.  From listening to the other reports, I can say that Nova Scotia is strong and vibrant in the Canadian druid scene.

It was also my pleasure to finally meet our former Regional Druid, Lisa, face-to-face for the first time.  She received her Ordination the day before the meeting.  While not the first Canadian to do so (as she pointed out), she is the only currently standing ADF priest/ess.  Well done, Lisa! We look forward to following in your footsteps.

Again, I would like to thank Erin for inviting me to the meeting and allowing me to represent our grove, and thanks to the other leaders of ADF groves in attendance.  It is my hope that I can attend the whole event in the future.

Peace and Love,

Marc

 

 

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Beltane, a personal reflection

This year’s Beltane ritual was my first experience at holding the lead position in a major ritual. Not being accustomed to speaking in front of people, I was fairly nervous going into it, but also looked forward to the experience and the chance to face my fears and the challenge head on. Doing my due diligence, I researched the gods and goddesses associated with this festival, settling on the Welsh goddess Creiddylad and the Irish god Belanus. These deities both seemed to call to me. Belanus being the more obviously associated, being the namesake of Beltane — Bel (Belanus) and tane meaning fire — but also Creddylad, being the goddess of flowers and love and the daughter of the sea god Lir. These two gods seemed to balance and compliment one another like the best relationships seem to do, and being a traditional festival in which to hold marriage ceremonies, this seemed appropriate.

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The ritual was going as well as could be expected, given that it was a cold and cloudy day. The rain held off, which was a god sent (pun intended). It was even a bit inspiring seeing the mist of my own breath escaping my lips. Images of the mists of Avalon jumped to mind briefly. Thankfully, I was able to project my lines for all to be able to hear, as that was a concern for me, being a quiet spoken individual by nature.

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When the first Ogam was drawn –Blackthorn (“Wounding”) for the Omen– we were all a bit thrown. Were the gods displeased? We didn’t forget any of the offerings. We didn’t skip over anything vital. Why were the gods showing their displeasure at our gifts? So, adding a couple of more offerings to the fire, we drew another Ogam. This time, Yew (“Transition”) was drawn. A little better (and upon later reflection, explaining much). We were all relieved when, in return, the gods blessed us with the Ogam of Apple (“Wholeness”).

I must admit, I was rather thrown in the moment by what had been drawn. I even shed a few tears, but recovered enough to enjoy the maypole dance and other festivities, and then to close the ritual properly. Over the next couple of days, I reflected on the Ogams that we drew, and read over their meanings in greater depth. Blackthorn, although quickly translated to “Wounding”, also “offers initiation into the mysteries of self-conquest and transcendence”. Yew’s main translation, “Transition”, is also known for “transformation, renewal, (and) rebirth. An opening, a new element approaching.” Looking further into Apple was interesting as well. Not only was it’s basic meaning “Wholeness”, a very good blessing indeed to receive from the gods, but also a deep connection to the universe. While reading the section on Apple, a few more unexpected connections popped up. “The apple tree in Celtic myth is associated with Avalon, the Island of Apples,” where King Arthur is said to have gone to heal from “grievous wounds”. Belanus, the festival of Beltane, and the Son of Lir were all also mentioned within Apple’s explanation. The interconnections at play were numerous. Since thoughts of the mists of Avalon had come to mind due to the chill in the air and seeing my breath at the very start of the ritual, it being mentioned in the Apple’s texts was fascinating. For a connection to then appear for both of the deities that I had chosen to call upon, Beltane directly and Creiddylad, daughter of the sea god Lir (and therefore sister of the son of Lir), well, I must say, it felt as if the gods were definitely working their magic.

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So, looking at the Ogams drawn for the Omens and Blessings received from the gods, I think that their combined meanings tells a larger story. We may all be wounded in many ways (Blackthorn, wounding), but it is through the healing (Yew, transition) of those wounds that we can become whole again (Apple, wholeness). It’s the point of the human experience really. The greatest lessons in life are often the result of the healing process from traumatic life experiences. This time of year, when the flowers spring forth from the ground and love is in the air, this is a time for transformation and rebirth. A reminder to let go of old wounds and to transition into wholeness. To learn from our experiences and become wholly who we are meant to become, both individually and as a grove.

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So say we all.

 

-Written by Lily M.

(Quotes all taken from Ogam: the Celtic Oracle of the Trees by Paul Rhys Mountfort.)

**photocred: Karen

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Ottawa Pagan Conference

Had a wonderful day at the Ottawa Pagan Conference today.  While it was more a planning session with the various pagan groups within Ottawa, and less really what I expected as a conference, some wonderful things did come about from it.

Firstly, there is something wonderful to be said when the leaders or representatives of the various paths can come together to report on their groups’ past activities, give a brief look at what is being planned, and, more importantly, discuss common issues and devise ways to deal with them.  If the day was spent only doing this then, in my mind, it would be time well spent.  But more than that it fostered a wonderful working relationship between the representatives of the various groups…. Heathens, Druids, Witches… all collaborating.  It was a very refreshing atmosphere, and one I feel we could use more of.

Also included today was a wonderful talk given on Communication and Community by Marie Francois.  She teaches religion and such at the university.  I found this talk fascinating.  Many of the things we have expressed as a grove were touched upon in her talk through the fundamentals she laid out.  At the risk of a long blog entry, I will attempt to capture some of it.

To have effective community in any form, she postulated it requires very key elements:

  1. Proximity.  They either have to live close together or at least have more than sporadic physical interaction with each other.  We live and are dying as communities because the physical comradeship has been replaced with electronic messaging, phone calls and the like.  This is one of the reasons I feel the ADF made it that all rituals should be open and celebrated.  To bring people back together and in person, to reforge the bonds of community that are being lost.
  2. Continuity.  We have to be able to pass on what we know and what we learn.  We have to be able to share it with others.
  3. Custodians.  Every one of the community members needs to take responsibility to learn and share the history, myths, and customs.  By doing so, we create common language and understanding.  Furthermore, it allows the history to be alive and active.
  4. Common language.  As mentioned above… if we don’t understand the metaphors or myths that we work with, or we can’t find commonality, then we can’t communicate effectively
  5. Common vision.  In which direction do you want the community to strive?  This also represents the legacy that is passed down.

While I can’t put everything from the talk down into this blog, these are the basic points with which every group, and society in general, should be aligning itself.

My thanks to the organizers of the event.  I am also going to include a link (below) to a wonderful group that runs several of the festivals up here in Ottawa.  If you happen to be traveling this way, you might want to check out their schedule and see what is being offered.

Many Blessings

Raven’s Knoll Special Events Campground – they handle festivals for any and all of the pagan groups up here….  ravensknoll@rogers.com   or www.ravensknoll.ca

Current Blessing of the Kindreds

During our recent Beltane celebration the blessing Omen received was:

YEW

(keywords: Transitions, transformation, renewal, rebirth. An opening, a new element approaching.)

Yew is a tree of transition.  It represents on the one hand things passing, ending, or dying.  One aspect of your life is fading away. This is often difficult or painful to accept.  yet is also signifies that which is about to be reborn. it ushers in the new and draws our attention to the continuous cycle of endings and beginnings.

(excerpt taken from “OGAM – The Celtic oracle of the trees by Paul Rhys Mountfort)

Beltane Fun

May 02 2015, marked the Grove’s first Beltane fair, and what a fun day was had.  The air was cool, but the sun came out and warmed us all.  It began with friends and family gathering for a wonderful ritual, in which all in attendance both the very wee, and the not-so-wee, were invited to jump the ritual fire.  Some made it over the main fire, while others leaps the small pile of ashes that accidentally made it to the ground.  Even the little ones got in the act as we swung them over the fire pit.  It was great to get everyone involved.

After wards two grove members had a battle of words while personifying the Seasons of Winter and Summer.  Rest assured that though Winter put up quite the fight, summer proved triumphant.  This was much in evidence as the day following temperatures rose to a sunny 15 degrees.

We retired indoors briefly for warm cider, and great chats, before the muchly awaited Beltain pole dance.  We added a modern twist to this tradition by adding our wishes and hopes for the year to the pole, and as the dancers wrapped the pole (with much energy and laughter as they danced around) the wishes were held tightly.  (At the end of the day the pole was taken and wrapped where it will be stored for a year with wished and ribbons intact)

With the formal activities all taken care of, the potluck meal was begun, and more rousing conversation.  Some chose to stay by the fire and enjoy the first flames of the season, while others preferred the modern hearth and honored the kitchen party.

As the day winded down, guests and grove members alike were invited to light a candle from the fire, and take it home to rekindle the energies in their homes.  All in all.. a wonderful day that will hopefully grow and be repeated.

 

Other activities for the Beltane minded:

Take flowers and place them above each window and door to the outside in your home to invite new life, growth, and inspiration.  If you have a bramble bush on your property, place a few flowers here as well.

On the morning of Beltane turn out all the lights and put out all fires in the home, and with the candle from the ritual fire, light a candle in each room.  This will bring the prosperity, fertility, and creative energies back into the home after the long winter cold.