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

 

 

The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids and ADF

We are aware of the recent allegations brought forth concerning sexual misconduct by a former ADF Leader, the late Isaac Bonewits and we extend our compassion and care to those affected.

We want to affirm to our community that this type of behavior has no place within GNSD; it is directly opposed to our values; and is, quite simply put, wrong. We abhor any such behavior against any person, whether they are members of GNSD or not.

We understand many in our community are seized by these recent allegations; we are too. If you have suffered harassment or abuse, within our community our without, please know that we support you with compassion and care. We have clergy and leaders available should you wish to speak with someone. [The ADF Human Services Specialist and Member’s Advocate are available to listen and care and are reachable at humanservicesspecialist.adf@adf.org and adf-members-advocate@adf.org respectively.]

GNSD continues to be an open society focused on our family-knit structure. We remain committed to all practices of the ADF such as love and kindness for one another; courtesy and respect in language and actions; and refraining from actions that hurt or damage any person or property. We will be reviewing our own policies to ensure our community continues to grow with compassion and love.

If at any point you wish to speak on this, or any matter, do not hesitate to reach out.

Time as Senior Druid

My time as the Senior Druid of our grove is coming to an end. On Samhain, I will be stepping down and passing the torch back to Marc Meadows.

Over the past two years, I feel I was able to accomplish a lot of my wish list, but at the same time I feel I didn’t have quite enough time to finish. The plan, of course, will be to continue working on these aspirations, but I thought I might make a list of all that has come to fruition…

Grimoir

I have always felt that we needed a physical manifestation of what our grove represented –something that we can change and mold as we continue developing our paths. This would not be any sort of Bible or absolute law of what we believe, but would be a representation of who and what we are and where we came from, as well as a learning tool for our families. At this time, we have drawn up a lot in the sense of content and what we want to add to the book, but making it physical has not yet come to fruition.

Now, this doesn’t mean the project has been a failure. We have commissioned local artists for work and have streamlined a lot of our rituals into one standard look. The content of the book has very much come along and so far it looks amazing!

New Members

This has been more of a 50/50 project.

One of our stronger rules is “No Proselytizing”. We never push our beliefs or ideals on others and we hope to never make others uncomfortable with their own beliefs. Everyone is entitled to believe what they wish, and we strive to welcome and support all individuals who decide our path may be for them. In the last two years, we have attracted one new member and accepted a past member back into our grove, while at the same time saying “goodbye” to two members. The reasons of those two members for leaving are their own, and both left knowing they will always be welcome back.

As a leader, people leaving the grove is a little hard to swallow. Could I have done more to make them feel included? Did something happen that made them feel uncomfortable? What could I have changed that might have made them change their minds? In the end, as I’ve said, leaving was their choice and both assured me the decisions were for personal reasons unrelated to the Grove or it’s members.

I did my best.

Environmental Activism

This one I can say had little to do with our own shortcomings and more to do with government bureaucracy. I, personally, would like to see our Grove do more with the land, be it environmental activism or even participation. So far, we have attempted two highway clean-ups, but both times the government offices involved with these projects had mishaps with our paper work preventing us from legally cleaning up the highway. These experiences were pretty frustrating on our side, but we are making plans to try again this year.

Land Purchase

One of the larger project I want to see us accomplish over the coming years will be for us as a Grove to purchase land. This land, I hope to see used by all the members of the Pagan community. I’d love to see it be a place of pagan worship for all paths. So, this year, we finally took some steps to get this project started, and we have some exciting fundraising efforts set to take place over the next while. This was never a project I expected to completely in my tenure as Senior Druid, but I am happy to see it started and hopefully it will keep momentum.

Community Outreach

A difficult thing for most pagan paths is community outreach. I view this as a two part process:

  1. To reach out to the local Pagan community. To let them know we are here and welcoming, open to new members, and eager to help in whatever ways we can, be it holding rituals, hosting “meet and greets”, or simply taking part in larger community events;
  2. To reach out to the general, non-pagan population and just say, “Hey, we are here and there is no reason to be afraid of Pagans.”

We made a fantastic connection with the Nova Scotia Health Authority this year, where we helped them add religious identifiers (“Pagan”, “Wiccan”, “Heathen”, and “Druid”) to their administrative systems, and are presently working to a) identify individuals to serve as pagan “chaplains” for inpatients seeking  spiritual care and b) provide generic altar boxes containing such items as sage, candles, deity statues, etc. to have on hand. This project is something we are very proud of. Additionally, we are trying to actively partake in more charity events, such as donating backpacks and school gear at return to school time and turkeys to FEED NS at Christmastime. Finally, not so much me, but one of our members, Dan Negus, has represented our Grove and has lead and encouraged our participation in Halifax’s annual Interfaith Harmony Week. That has been amazing.

Regional Druid for ADF

The next step, I feel, for me is to become more involved with ADF. I have spoken to the current Regional Druid and hope, with her help, to run for the position when it becomes vacant in a year and a half. I put my hat in for this last year, but semi-abandoned the idea as the election approached, mostly due to personal time restraints and a desire to focus more of my attention on our own Grove. I now feel I am ready to step forward and help others.

Druid Retreat

The last major project I hope to focus a lot more on now that my term as Senior Druid has ended is the creation of an east coast “Druid Retreat”. We have been discussing a weekend where our Grove and anyone who identifies as a druid can sit and discuss community, philosophy, and the general world around us. I hope to have more info on this as the time comes.

Overall, I am very happy with what has happened over the last two years, but I feel it’s good to look back on what one has done well and poorly and to grow from that, much like a tree that takes damage and a new limb sprouts.

Hosta Fundraiser Sale!

You’re not going to find a deal like this any time soon!

When: Saturday October 21 – 10:00am – 4:00pm

Where: 949 Herring Cove Rd, Halifax

What: Hostas! – Shade loving perennials that are low maintenance, hardy for our NS winters, and easy to grow!

How much?:  $15 Each or 3 for $30!!

“Go Green” with the Grove of Nova Scotia Druids this Saturday with our first ever perennial fundraiser! Let’s plant the promise of a greener spring, this fall!

We will be selling mixed Hostas (a classic shade/part-sun perennial plant) for $15 each, or 3 for $30! To be planted in your garden this fall 🙂 Each pot contains 3 different Hosta varieties for a beautiful mix that will add lush texture to your property in many shades of green. Suitable for shady and partly sunny areas, Hostas require no special care and are very long-lived and hardy in our Nova Scotia climate.

Yes, you can safely plant these in the garden now, to come up next spring – and planting instructions will be provided with every purchase (Cash only please) 🙂

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

 

 

 

 

The 20th Annual Witches’ Ball and GNSD Raffle Basket!

 

Come out to support your local Pagan CKDU Radio Show, The Witching Hour, and to just have a ball. There will be music, drinks, and a costume contest!

The event will take at Menz & Mollyz Bar (2182 Gottingen St.), November 4th, starting at 9PM.

The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids will be hosting a raffle to raise funds for our “Land Acquisition Project”.  The basket will include lovely gifts from Rustic Revolutionary Pottery, Nude Bath Products, Mighty Oak Workshop, and much, much more. Tickets will go on sale at the event, so be sure to pick yours up for a chance to win a lovely basket of goodies.

Practising Mindfulness

There’s a certain amount of mental and physical preparation that goes into any task. Sometimes, it leads you to a very peaceful place and, other times, it brings on bouts of anxiety. Really, you make the choice.
As I rolled out of my yoga mat tonight, I noticed it was caked with some type of food (probably goldfish crackers lovingly left by my toddler)… initially, this was a little bothersome. I considered stopping what I was doing and cleaning rather than actually taking the time to care for myself.
In the end, I left the crackers and continued with my practice. It was well worth it. I was quickly able to center myself and be present.
While working my way through my flow, it occurred to me that the same could be said for all ritual practice. Some of us get anxious and bothered at the thought of performing ritual. Others embrace the chaos. The remainder just try to be in the moment and find it cleansing. I will forever strive to be the type of person who finds ritual practice purely cathartic. And I am almost there.
I wear a small pendant around my neck that is supposed to remind me to always be present, and I find I never need that more than just before going into ritual. So many things can go wrong: people get stressed, items go missing, children misbehave, and somehow you have to center and enjoy. But getting there is the ultimate gift to yourself. In the end, we don’t have a regular mass like some religions, and when we get to perform ritual, either solo or with our groves, we need to allow ourselves to embrace, enjoy, and be present.

Mabon Activities

With the Fall Harvest just around the corner, I thought it might be time for another lifestyle post, with some fun Mabon family/group-friendly activities.

Mabon is the second harvest and is celebrated at the Autumn Equinox. Mabon is the Welsh God of all things wild and free. He is also associated with the Sun God, whose power dies on this day. During Mabon, we give thanks to the spirit of vegetation for the sacrifices made so that we can live through the winter. The Goddess at this Sabbat is the grandmotherly crone, warm and wise.

  • Have a Pot Luck or Harvest Feast and share your harvested fruits and veggies. Give thanks and respect to the harvest and share stories of your plans for the coming winter months. It is good for everyone to share and be part of a group.

  • Take some time to prepare your yard for the coming winter months. Clean up garbage and branches. Maybe even extend your clean-up to a nearby park or around your neighbourhood. Kids can help tidy or play outside (fresh air is always great), and everyone benefits from helping our Mother Earth and having a clean space.

  • Create a decorative wreath or hanging for your front door using seasonal dressings like acorns, pine cones, and corn bundles. You can incorporate the colours of the season by using red, orange, and yellow ribbons to finish it off.

  • Honour the wildlife in your yard by making a homemade bird feeder and watching the wonderful friends it brings to your yard. (Below are basic instructions for making your own, with an easy-to-follow guide for children too.)

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