The Awen

When you think of Druids, a few things often come to mind: trees, acorns, and the awen. This last, the awen, is of particular interest to us as it is the symbol of our grove. So, what does it mean, what does it stand for, and why is it important to us?

Awen, pronounced “ah-when”, is derived from the Indo-European root *-uel, meaning “to blow”, and has the same root as the Welsh word awel, meaning “breeze'”.  There is a parallel word to ‘awen’ in Irish, ai, which means “poetic inspiration”.

In the Welsh tradition, the awen is seen as the spark of creative or divine inspiration or illumination. It is that which motivates an idea and gives it form. It’s likeness can be meditated upon to draw creative insight for artistic projects of all kinds.

awen

The three dots, or “points of light”, represent the triple aspect of Deity and, on another level, the rising of the sun on the equinoxes and solstices.

The three “rays of light” serve to remind us of the importance of the number three, a sacred number in druidry, as it is in many pagan paths. It is represented, for example, by the three realms: land, sea, and sky (or middle world, upper world, under world);  the three methods of studying/experiencing druidry: the bard, the ovate, and the druid;  and the “triads”, which were ancient Celtic laws and bits of wisdom expressed in threes.

The awen represents not only inspiration but also the creation that ensues and the spirit embedded in it. These are qualities important to any Druid, ancient or modern.

 

Imbolc Ritual Invite

The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids will be conducting an open Imbolc Ritual at the Universalist Unitarian Church (5500 Inglis St, Halifax, NS) Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 6:30pm.

All are wecome!

Please check out the Facebook event here.

Making a living as a Druid…

I try to keep up to date with blogs and posts regarding Druidry… it’s mostly our grove does this or here’s a pretty motivational poster… but, as I scrolled though one of the many Druidry groups, I came across the following question: ” Can I make a living as a Druid?”. My first impression was that this is a stupid thing to ask… but I should hear them out.

The post started with a question and was followed up by people’s suggestions for possible career paths: farmer, butcher, crafts person, park ranger, writer or teacher. Some even suggested cultivating a life as a self-sustaining “off the grid” individual. These all seemed like reasonable suggestions, but at the same time I know people who are employed in like careers who are NOT Druids. So where’s the line? Perhaps these career paths will help keep you closer to nature and Druidic Values, but I am not convinced they really addressed the question.

In our Grove, we have a variety of career paths. There is a photographer, a couple of guys in the navy, a chartered accountant, a nurse, an academic, and I am a human resource professional. We each seem to be doing alright…and because we all actively work in these careers, which provide both skills and monetary gains, we are able to provide a certain level of support to each other and our families.

Druidry, like any other religion does have jobs that need doing and choices for employment that are more akin to the overall value system, but, to me, Druidry is more a way of life and not necessarily how you make you financially sustain yourself. It can be hard to do this ethically, but a job does not have to define who you are at your core. You can perform in almost any job and still lead a simple life and remain close to nature. It all has to do with lifestyle choices, values and how you live at home. True, there are some career choices that just flat out do not fall in line with Druid Values, but even so there can be balance.

In modern society, people practically must have money to survive. Contributing and taking from the economy is what drives it’s momentum and allows for progression, such as medical advances and a wider spread of ecologically friendly ways and means. From my perspective –and trust me I am not the only one who views things in this light– by participating as an active member of modern society while following a Druidic Path, I feel as though I am aiding in multiple communities, not just my own. Additionally, as far as I am aware, Druids have never had a policy of living lives of poverty, unlike certain other religions. That said, in Druidry there isn’t really a need to suffer for your faith. Moreover, as a productive and proactive person, you would be better able to contribute to Druidry and its continuation by better educating yourself, procreating future little Druids, and having the means to share this with others who are interested in a Druid way of life.

In the end, I guess the answer is, “YES you can make a living as a Druid!”… in the same way you can make a living while being part of any other community. Do what you do, do [hopefully] what you love and are good at, and the rest will follow.

Closing Rituals

A couple weeks ago before the Grove attended AEGIS we were informed that no one had offered to do the Closing Ritual.

Thinking it couldn’t be that hard to write something and find sources we volunteered and began the arduous process of looking around for ideas…. Everyone had something to contribute but we would have to make it ADF format AND we wanted it to be interactive for the guests. After two weeks of not finding anything at all online or from the other Groves and Groups we decided to go out on a limb and throw something together.

Let me tell you… we had a ball. It all went off without a hitch and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.

We handed out copies of the Processional Chant, We Approach the Sacred Grove and had everyone sing along while we purified the space and guests. In the end (you wont see this in the written document) we closed a circle that had been left open by the Opening Ritual. Although circle casting is not a Druid tradition we felt it was a nice tie back and gave everyone a sense of completion and closure.

Let me elaborate a little more on that so you can get the experience…. Day one of the festival the wonderful Mave led an eclectic opening ritual and had everyone hold hands. From there, everyone turned to the person on their left and with hands clasped touched from heart to heart while saying “From my heart to your heart, the circle is open”. At the end of her Ritual she explained that she would leave the circle open to promote the full experience of the weekend retreat. It was a nice touch.

To make it easier for you at home and hopefully for others who find themselves in similar boats we decided to post our ritual (formatted to Grove and ADF standards).

I hope you enjoy and please email in if you have any questions.

AEGISClosingRitual

Lughnasadh: A time of Harvest & Feasting

Lughnasadh is a time of harvest and what better way to celebrate a good harvest then by having a feast! Lughnasadh feasts have been a tradition for years. Villages and families come together to share what they have gathered and enjoy all of the bounty we have worked for and that mother earth has made possible for us.

Anything that grows on your land is suitable for a feast but if you are looking to outsource a little here are some seasonal and traditional foods:

Corn           Broccoli          Carrots          Chilies        Cucumbers           Fennel

Beans         Onions              Peas            Potatoes       Radishes           Bilberries

Blueberries      Raspberries       Blackberries       Redcurrants      Tomatoes

Chicken                Lamb              And fish

 

Lots of options in there…

Like any high day it is always a good thing to add some bread to your meal. It can be better still if you make it by hand. The house will smell of fresh loaves and your family and guests will delight in the aroma.

Try making it by hand for an added touch. I am partial to this recipe. It has never steered me wrong and as long as you follow the directions, it can be a lot of fun.

Some interesting tips I have picked up over the years… do not make bread on a rainy or muggy day. It simply does not rise. And something else that can be fun is adding a little extra sugar to your mix and then when the bread is hot and fresh gently brushing the top with a butter and sugar mixture to give it a nice sweet taste. I mostly like this for weddings or tea parties over buns. And finally if you are really looking to get creative you can add ground and dried herbs from your garden for some added flavor. I am partial to rosemary.

 Damper-Bread-5

Simple White Bread by Hand

 Total Time: Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 30 min. + cooling

Makes: 32 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6-1/4 to 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
  4. Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
  5. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

 

Enjoy! And Blessed Lughnasadh from everyone in the Proto-Grove of Nova Scotia Druids!

A Summer Solstice Tradition

Summer Solstice is a great time of year to relax and enjoy the sun (weather permitting). It is also a great time to collect and dry herbs. For me, I like to get a couple harvests out of some of my herbs but particularly my Mint Plants.

Did you know you can make your own Mint Tea? Grab yourself some baggies or better still a metal tea ball. Dry your mint and grind it up in something used only for food. I like my coffee grinder, gives me a good excuse to really clean it out. Mint can also be added fresh to ice cold summer drinks like water or mulled into fancy drinks like Mojitos.

Gathering Herbs this time of year is important. Like the sun they are at the height of their power and if they are to be used for magical purposes this will play a part. Each custom has its own suggested time to harvest. Some like to harvest first thing when the morning dew still rests on the leaves. Others prefer to go out at midnight and there are even a few who claim noon is the best time. I am partial to noon; it’s the height of the sun on the sunniest day of year? Just makes sense to me.

However you decide to do it, enjoy it. It can be a lot of fun to bundle, hang and dry what you’ve worked so hard to cultivate and now finally get to use.

Summer Solstice is a great time of year to relax and enjoy the sun (weather permitting). It is also a great time to collect and dry herbs. For me, I like to get a couple harvests out of some of my herbs but particularly my Mint Plants.

Did you know you can make your own Mint Tea? Grab yourself some baggies or better still a metal tea ball. Dry your mint and grind it up in something used only for food. I like my coffee grinder, gives me a good excuse to really clean it out. Mint can also be added fresh to ice cold summer drinks like water or mulled into fancy drinks like Mojitos.

Gathering Herbs this time of year is important. Like the sun they are at the height of their power and if they are to be used for magical purposes this will play a part. Each custom has its own suggested time to harvest. Some like to harvest first thing when the morning dew still rests on the leaves. Others prefer to go out at midnight and there are even a few who claim noon is the best time. I am partial to noon; it’s the height of the sun on the sunniest day of year? Just makes sense to me.

However you decide to do it, enjoy it. It can be a lot of fun to bundle, hang and dry what you’ve worked so hard to cultivate and now finally get to use.

Scholars eh??

It should come as no surprise to you that it can be challenging finding out information on Druidism. Anyone who has tried to look for something specific and may not have a resource such as a Grove or strong community can attest to this. What may come as a bit of a surprise is that a lot of what has been committed to writing has been done so by enemies (the Romans for example).

Amoung other things early Druids are well known for committing large sums of knowledge to memory and were regarded as scholars. Of particular value to them were the arts such as poetry and song. Learning and regaling these pieces in hopes that the Gods would be pleased and may grant gifts. So why not write it down? Good question! In his book “ Gallic Wars” Book VI, Caesar writes

 

It is said they (Druids) commit to memory immense amounts of poetry. And so some

of them continue their studies for twenty years. They consider it improper to entrust

their studies to writing…

 

The idea of course being that the regaling and passing of traditions be a right of passage and holding the knowledge a mark of status but, this makes modern study increasingly challenging. It really is a shame that did not work out…

Modern Druids are finding it increasingly important to document all proceedings. For our Grove, the ADF govern much of this and even request reports from Groves throughout the year. Many of us are creating Family Grimoires and are making contributions to a Grove Grimoire to ensure history can repeat itself. It is an uphill battle but one in which we all find strength. If you are finding this challenging please visit the ADF or OBOD website (links below). There is much to be learned and the internet is making the sharing of this information easier.

 

https://www.adf.org/

http://www.druidry.org/

Solstice

sun

 

Litha or Summer Solstice is on its way and it made me wonder…with all the different names for each holiday which is best suited (to me) and why are there so many names!? Well, to each his own but, I thought it may be interesting to discuss exactly what a “solstice” is.

A solstice is an astronomical event which occurs twice a year when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point relative to planet’s semi – axis in either the northern or southern hemisphere and that areas is most incline toward the sun. The word “solstice” itself is derived from the Latin “sol” (sun) and “sistere” (to stand still).

For us, in the northern hemisphere the Summer Solstice takes place late June. It is a time of year when the days are long and bright. The land is very fertile and warm thus we celebrate it for giving us nourishment, fertility and life.

It always boils down to being pretty simple doesn’t it J

Spreading the Ashes

wood-ashes-xIt has long been a dream of mine to have a nice fire pit in the yard, this weekend the dream was finally realized and we were able to burn the wooden archway from our handfasting ceremony. It has long since fallen over and crashed so I was happy to see it put to further use. But, this brought up the topic of what to do with the ashes…. I know Belfire ashes get spread in the garden and smudged on faces. The ashes would be sprinkled over the crops to promote growth and continue the full circle of life… but it made me wonder…how good can it be? Am I growing the right kind of crops? So I did a little research to share…

Wood ash, as oppose to coal ash, contains potassium / potash which is a vital nutrient for rich crops. The pot ash regulates the plants water balance (much as it does in humans) and makes the fruit or veggies firm and juicy. Without enough in the soil plants are susceptible to drought, frost, pests (like snails or slugs) and other diseases.

Pot ash can also be spread in the home compost (but not in green bins by HRM law) the ash is Alkaline and will raise the PH levels in your soil so sprinkle it gently rather than heaping it in. It is best used dry to maintain its potency and value.

Potash is great for crops like root vegetables, peas, beans, apple trees and soft fruit bushes. Acid loving produce like potatoes or berries do not thrive with too much potash. If you plan to use pot ash and are not sure what effect it will have it is best to test the PH of your garden and make reference to what you are growing. The see packet will have a recommended PH right alongside the sun, water and planting requirements.

 

Happy growing and bright blessings on your garden!

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)