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)

The Green Man

The other day I found myself trying to describe the Green Man to someone and it dawned on me that though many people have seen him, most don’t know his significance so I thought I might talk a little about that…

For many, the Green man is an old British character from folklore; a myth; a decoration and a popular name for pubs. For me however, he is a God of Growing, life, decay and death. He is the embodiment and life force behind all vegetation. He is the energy of the plant world and its continuous cycle. He is the intention behind all growth and the result of it.

 

The Green Man is not a compassionate god. He lives to live. In the Spring he is renewed and happy, growing and progressing. Come Summer, he becomes cautiously optimistic and at full potential but, Fall is coming and he knows the struggle that lies ahead with Winter respite. It is easy to see how the Green Man can influence and guide us in our every day life. All things are cyclical and there is comfort in that.

 

The topic had come up because I was commissioning a sketch for our family Grimoire and the artist had genuine interest in making this personal to us. While trying to find inspirational images for him I came across this fantastic tutorial (http://www.dragoart.com/tuts/10739/1/1/how-to-draw-the-green-man,-green-man.htm ) and it occurred to me that it would be a fun craft to draw you own and include some of the plants local to your area or yard. This could be a fun way to make him special to you.

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.

 

Beltane Traditions

With May 1st just around the corner, I thought it a good idea to post some traditional Beltane activities. You can do these with your family, Grove or even in solidarity. Whichever works best for you. Take your time and practice mindfulness. Everything you do can be Spiritual this time of year (or any for that matter)

 

Beltane is the third in Spring Holidays and it celebrates the return of fertility to the land. It is a time where the veil between the two worlds is thin and a chance to promote fertility and purity where ever you seek it. Below a couple traditional activities for Beltane (May 1st)

Maypoles:

Traditionally a large pole is erect with eight or so ribbons attached to be held while dancing creating a braid around the pole. This action symbolizes the union of the masculine and feminine with representations of both respective energies.

 

Dancing:

Well, it’s exciting! This time of year is best celebrated with children and children love to dance. The upward momentum aids in improving moods and displaying oneself. Not to mention it is just plain fun. At one time dancing would have aided main a young couple with courtship. May is a good time of year for Handfastings or year and a day ceremonies.

 

Fires:

We all love fire. Fire is used to purify and protect. Farmers and villages would at one point guide cattle thought two large fires to bless them for the year. You can pass though two fires or (with care) jump the fire to promote blessings, purification and promote fertility in any way you seek it.

 

Land tending:

This would be my favourite. Just last week with all the snow melted I tidied much of the debris from my poor winter swept lawn and it was fantastic. May is a good time to rake, clean, plane and fertilize. This is a perfect activity for any Druid looking to commune with nature and deal with the Honey-Do list. Promote fertility in your own land.

 

I hope this has helped you think of fun ideas for your practice, whatever form it takes. Blessed Beltane Everyone!

Beltane Ritual

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The GNSD will be conducting Beltane on  May 2, 2015 at 2pm all are welcome but space is limited. The day will consist of a Grove led Ritual; Traditional Games; Fire Jumping; Maypole Dancing; Outdoor Pot Luck and later in the evening a Bardic Fire.

Please contact Marc at merlynn11@hotmail.com for directions and availability.

The Beltane Ritual is weather dependent. In the event of rain (or snow) the event will be canceled and any subsequent planning will be posted.

Funny hats, Green Beer and Religious Oppression?

It’s a thing… As fun as today is and as much as we all love the comradery, let’s not forget the origins and placement of Saint Patrick’s Day.

St. Partick’s claim to fame isn’t Beer, Leprechauns or Pots of Gold, but the fact that he drove all the “snakes” out of Ireland. During a 40 day fast, it is said that the snakes attacked St. Patrick and as a result he drove them all into the ocean. The snakes, in this case, sadly represent Pagans, Celts to be more specific.

What’s the harm? Let it be? Sure, but let’s look a little bit more…

March 17th isn’t an arbitrary date. It was carefully placed to supersede Ostara (Spring Equinox). I suppose this made the transition easier for some to convert, similar to the inclusion of the Mother Mary for those following a Goddess rich path. How about the traditional symbol of the three-leafed shamrock, a symbol of the Christina Holy Trinity perhaps?

So there it is. Drink your beer and have your fun, but perhaps raise a glass in memory of those who were exiled from their homes for their beliefs.

In preparation for Ostara

Continuing with the theme of family- or Grove-based activities, I thought it might be nice to share a couple of Ostara-based activities. Open yourself up like a blossoming flower and share your splendour.

Firstly, the traditional egg dye. This is always a winner, but why not put a fun twist on it and take the eggs outside! No muss, no fuss! Colour your eggs and set them out around the yard as decoration. You can hide them for little ones or just enjoy adding to your space. Better still, crush them up into a colourful fertilizer for the gardens. The calcium in eggshells will help your plants grow.

Looking for more fun in the new sun? Try a natural walk! I know, Druids suggesting natural walks… this doesn’t seem new. This time, try watching for emerging new life. You can document it by writing it down, drawing it or photographing it. It can be a fun game for those looking to add a little more to their stroll.

How about some Spring Cleaning? You can almost always use a good cleaning, but if your house is already spic and span try going outside and looking for something to clean up. Maybe around your favourite tree or park bench. There are lots of public places that could use a little TLC and if you want to work with your family or grove you can conquer even more. This is a great motivator for yard work as well. Take a moment to reflect and tie it back to your core values; the changing season or new growth and the chores will seem less daunting.

It’s nearly time to start planting flora for those who are interested, why not plant your bulbs with mindfulness? With each bulb that you put in the ground or in a pot, envision the new growth and let it embrace you.

Finally, if it is still chilly and you cant take the cold, get to the kitchen! Make some hot crossed buns and enjoy some icing fun with pretty knots and symbols that are meaningful to your group or family (not to mention a delicious snack).

I hope you all get to enjoy at least one of these fun activities!

-K

Resources for Druid Parents

I want to start this off by saying I have not yet had children of my own, but I do know that sometimes you can be too close to a situation to see or reach out for easy solutions. So, for those of you who are looking for ideas to maintain spirituality in houses with the pitter-patter of tiny feet, here are a few things that might make it a bit easier.

Tried, tested and true, the book for all Pagan paths is Pagan Parenting by Kristen Madden
Some other interesting reads are :
Circle Round by Starhawlk
and Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw

If you are looking for story books, try:
A fairy went a marketing by Rose Fyleman
or any of the Lets Talk About books by Siusaidh Ceanadach

Where none of these resources are strictly Druid in nature, they are a great place to start building traditions for your family and introducing your child/children to spirituality at a young age.

If you are looking for activities at home to learn or even just keep kids in touch with nature, try checking out this Pintrest Page : https://www.pinterest.com/tressabelle/adf-druid-kidsparenting/ It is loaded with crafts indoors and out for all seasons, including handmade offering bowls and Goddess Paper dolls. With these activities you can make learning fun!

-K