Hiking & Sage Harvesting

HEY! Remember when I wrote that blog about Harvesting Sage in September and how to make your own sage bundles? (No — Here, I will help: http://novascotiadruid.com/?p=864) Either way, we finally got to do it as a grove.

              

It was a fantastic day where we did a little hike in a local park and then we all came back to the Larter house to pick, bundle and tie up our very own sage bundles. We also had BBQ and someone was nice enough to bring clay for some bowl and goddess making which I will totally have to revisit another time.

            

Needless to say this was a resounding success. Everyone enjoyed themselves. We all got a little exercise; some time to commune with nature and we enjoyed the companionship of our amazing grovies.

I would encourage you to push for things like this with your own groups. I have been on a week long high from spending time with people who warm my heart and doing this that enrich my soul.

P.S. For your viewing pleasure, I tried to take a selfie…

Beltane with the Family


Image Source: Carlotta Marie Bonnecaze (1887)

Fertility and sexuality are natural parts of life. There are few times in the druid calendar that would traditionally better suited to celebrate one’s sexuality than Beltane. Once upon a time, this might be celebrated with couples enjoying a good dance around the May Pole and even a bit of  coupling in the Forests. But as natural as this is, it is not for everyone, particularly those with young children who are not yet ready for the complex topic of human sexuality in its many facets.

Don’t worry momma, you can still  go a-May-ing during naps…;)

Beltane offers us many types of fertility to celebrate. Notably is the return of all things green and beautiful after the long cold winter. Let’s look at a few “ family friendly” ways to celebrate this turn of the wheel.

1.      Making flower baskets or crowns to wear and share. This is a fantastic opportunity to teach your children about respecting and appreciating nature. It is also a fantastic crafting session where they will learn to work with their hands and build something beautiful. They can either keep their creation or share it to brighten someone’s day.
2.       As always, and for all Druid celebrations I would encourage you to get outside. Have a nice walk and maybe bring a journal to jot down or draw all of the new life you see emerging around you. Take turns identifying the flowers and trees. This is another great learning opportunity for all.
3.      Beltane tea party is a great opportunity for children to celebrate. Your children may not be ready to view prolific drinking or blatant adult content but there is no reason they can’t  join in to celebration.. Why not host a beautiful Beltane Tea?  Use bright colours and fresh flowers to decorate your table and enjoy a little bit of nature inside or out with some sweets and tea. Don’t forget to share with the faerie folk, they love treats.
4.      If your children are a bit older and you are comfortable having them around fire why not stoke a Bale Fire. You can discuss the turning of the wheel while making s’mores and enjoying the fresh night air. (Just be sure to check burning restrictions in your area)
5.      Beltane is a wonderful time to set out goals. Have your family write down and place their goals in a box and kept secret until the next year when you can revisit those goals and celebrate or reestablish your plan. Encourage anyone who wants to discuss to share and be supportive of their desires to grow like the new spring flowers. Your family is your  greatest asset and can be an amazing source of support if you all practice.

These are just a few idea, but there are many more things you can do with your family.

Don’t be afraid to discuss sexuality once you feel the time is right. There are many resources online and in books to help with this difficult topic ones you and your child are ready.

Best of luck to you all and Blessed Beltane

 

 

Together thankful



Back at the time of Ostara, the Green Man emerged from sleep, cloaked in leaves, with vines sprouting from his beard. He was young and energetic and readily took up the plow and began his task of fertilizing the fields. By the time we arrived in August, to the celebration of Lughnasadh, the Green Man had been busy, and we graciously reaped the fruits of the first harvest.

At this second harvest, we rejoice once more in the bounty of the Earth and the fulfillment and reaping of our labours, both physically and spiritually. But with the changing of the foliage in the Green Man’s crown, we see that he has grown tired. We invite him to eat and drink with us, before sending him to rest while we prepare for the coming of winter.

     

Today we celebrate the Autumn Equinox, known to us by many names, amongst them the Mabon or Alban Elfed. At this time of balance, we give thanks to the waning sunlight for providing for us the means to be fed and full through the long cold days of winter, and take a moment to pay our respects to the impending darkness.

There is little evidence that Mabon was actually celebrated in Celtic countries, and all that is known of Anglo-Saxon customs of ancient times is that September was considered a “holy month”. The term “Mabon” came into existence in the 1970s, with the celebration since becoming part of our reconstructed Paganism. It is said that the druids honoured the Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees; however, this evening, following this ritual, we will instead break breads together, toast with homemade jams and spreads, and share in each others’ company. And we will be thankful for all that we have, have had, and will come to have in the future.

–excerpt from our Mabon ritual, York Redoubt, Halifax

Blessed Mabon to everyone!
May your bellies be full, your nights warm, and your hearts complete.
xo

 

 

 

 

Summer Solstice

At the beginning of the month, a small group of us came together to cast away our stresses, relish the cool grass between our toes, and embrace the sun-warmed Earth. For the next few months, as the nights begin once again to lengthen and the shortening days are bright and full of life, we can be present and enjoy this rest before the harvests of Fall.

(It is also a good time for gathering herbs, for both magical and mundane purposes.)

    

It is a pagan custom to honor the dying God, as the sun reaches it’s peak and begins to wane. So we honoured the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits on this beautiful midsummer afternoon, and then we ate and we laughed and we enjoyed each others’ company.

And we wish for you all the loveliest of summers, filled with the juiciest of berries, the sunniest of days, the warmest of company, and the heartiest of laughs.

(And also s’mores. Because s’mores.)

-xo

Beltane Ritual

Beltane was a great time. We danced the may pole, shared delicious snacks, and had a wonderful ritual with Grove and friends.

During the ritual, we pulled two Oghams as usual and were met with the following: Blackthorn, which represents challenges, difficulty, and poison, followed by Yew, which represents access to ancestors, death, rebirth, and faith. Suffice to say, from great challenges come lessons, new life, and rebirth. We will embrace the challenges that are coming to us, knowing that the outcomes will be worth the efforts and struggle.

Good luck to you all with your Spring and Summer ventures and Blessed Beltane!

Celebrating the Renewal of Life

The birds return from the southern lands, bearing spring time beneath their wings. Nature has awoken, seeds are sprouting, tree buds are bursting, the earliest plants are starting to fight their way from the frozen earth, and the birds and animals are preparing to have their young.

     

Ostara is the time when we recognize the importance of planting, growing, and nurturing new ideas, projects, plans, and plants, while seeking to maintain balance in our lives.

  

This past weekend, our grove hosted our Ostara ritual. It was a lovely, happy, sugar-fueled, chaotic gathering, with kiddos running around left, right, and center. It’s amazing how in a few short years, our family has grown to include so many adorable little people, each bearing their own unique personalities, wonders, and curiosities. (And also trouble-making capabilities. Let’s not forget that one.)

As a grove, we have come to deeply cherish these young lives, the energies and the laughter they bring into our circle, and our rituals and our traditions are evolving into these family-friendly, kid-inclusive events, where we get to delight in each others’ accomplishments, in baby’s first steps; where we get to marvel at ever-growing vocabularies and unexpected insights; where we get to share stories and experiences and rejoice in each other as friends, as family, as human beings just living this beautiful life.

The Spring Equinox allows us to step from the dark into the light half of the year and gives us the first signs of spring in the land.[… It] is a time of creativity, growth, and the seeing of new beginnings.

Let us celebrate this renewal of life.

Let us breathe in the scents of new blossoms, feel the warmth of a new sun, and hear the songs of the earth below and the skies above.

And, in the spirit of Ostara, let us clean our houses, paint some eggs, and eat some chocolates.

Happy Ostara, from us to you!

xox

(All quotes are excerpts from the afternoon’s ritual.)

Spring Cleaning

Ritual is not only for the High Days. We have smaller life rituals that we perform each and every day: the ritual of brushing our teeth, the ritual of getting dressed, etc. With Ostara and Spring just around the corner, I thought it was time for some “Spring Cleaning” which, as with all things, is best done mindfully.

I love to clean, so there’s no issue for me there, but if you are not a fan of scrubbing things down and tidying up, maybe doing so mindfully will help you to achieve a greater sense of accomplishment and comfort.

The ritual of Spring Cleaning has existed since the dawn of time. In North America, it is typically done in response to the cold and wet climate we endure throughout winter. Traditionally, it would be a time to dust and air out the home, change the hay in bedding, and be rid of all things that accumulated in the home during the harsher months. Nowadays, it is mostly an excuse to give the house a good once-over and recycle things we no longer need.

So apart from the obvious aspects of cleaning, like removal of dust and debris, cleaning surfaces or carpets, and laundering things that may get forgotten, we should keep in mind a few things:

  • Firstly, you must perform each task with a strong sense of intent. Focus your energy on removing not only the physical mess but the emotional and spiritual mess as well. Visualize your home filling with a bright light as you cleanse it.
  • When performing a ritual, it is best not to use harsh chemicals, if they can be avoided. Try a natural brand or even making your own cleaning solution with vinegar, water and essential oils to give the house a fresh smell without the burning compounds. (Check out for DIY natural cleaning inspiration here, here, and here!)
  • Clean from top to bottom and from the back of the house out the front door.
  • Burn sage in order to cleanse and purify the air.
  • Open your most Easterly windows to allow the energy of the sun to pour in.

Good luck, folks!

 

(Check out our “Spring Cleaning” post from 2015, including a “House Cleaning Ritual” document, here)