Mabon 2016

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The apple is the symbol of the Fruit Harvest. It is the symbol of life and immortality, of healing, renewal, regeneration, and wholeness. It is associated with beauty, longevity, and restored youth. In the Ogham, “Apple”, or “Queirt”, represents health and vitality. It is the heart of the Ogham Grove and the source of life. 

The apple also holds a pagan secret: when cut width-wise, it will reveal a pentacle. 

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This afternoon, the Grove gathered together to celebrate Mabon, or Alban Elfed, the second harvest of the season. There was paint, snacks (coffee!), good weather, and gratitude. There was catching up, joking around, missing, sharing, laughing, and loving. Most importantly, there was friendship and there was family, and for these we are the most thankful.

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A very happy [early] Mabon to you all!

-xo

 

A Solitary Solstice

Today I rose before the dawn.

I went outside to greet the sun, on this, the longest day of  the year.

Sunrise on June 20th, 2016
Sunrise on June 20th, 2016

It was supposed to be a simple act of catharsis, though an important one – for a druid whose last full ritual was Beltaine, and who hasn’t prayed or meditated in what felt like months.

“Life got in the way”
“things are just too hectic from the move”
“I’ll start my daily devotionals again tomorrow”

As I sat there in quiet reflection, waiting for the sun to emerge from the rosy glow in the sky, a voice in the back of my mind kept whispering to me, “You’re missing something.”  Eventually, the feeling got so strong I got up and brought my whole tote of ritual & altar gear outside onto the deck with me and set up a full impromptu ritual.  This is what I love about ADF’s Core Order of Ritual – it was like riding a bike… by continued practice, the mundane-seeming physical actions of our rituals become second nature, and in those moments when our hands are busy and our minds are free, we can focus on the sacred significance that flows through, around, and between.

After the praises had been sung, and the offerings given, I was blessed with very good omens:
My omen of Acceptance of the Offerings Given was Muin (Vine) – a sign to, “Trust in what you have done and unwind”
My omen of Blessing (what the Gods grant in return) was Beith (Birch) – the tree of beginnings – which I took to be a glad sign of the gods’ invitation to a fresh start to my daily practice.

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The ritual (and my morning) was comfortable and relaxed. I got up to greet the sun, and I felt like the light of the solstice soothed me in return. So when life gets busy, and you feel like you have no time for a regular spiritual practice, remember that making those few minutes of quiet reflection a priority can bring perspective and help you to better deal with the hectic flow of everyday life.  Though not a pagan, I think Sukhraj S. Dhillon said it best:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

Today I rose before the dawn, to greet the sun

and it was glorious.

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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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Ostara: Welcome, Spring!

A few weekends ago, we came together and shouted a big welcome to the longer days, warmer weather, budding blossoms, and beginnings of new life.

Our Grove has recently welcomed some new members, including a tiny [and ridiculously adorable] addition (keep scrolling), and we are collectively delighted and blessed to see our little gatherings and festivities swiftly evolving into family celebrations.

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We hope you all had a lovely Ostara (or Easter, or sunny spring day), and we wish you many new and exciting beginnings!

-xo

 

You can check out our Ostara posts from last year here and here.

“Happy Yule”

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From our Grove and family to you and yours, may we extend a very “Happy [belated] Yule“, “Merry Christmas“, “Happy Holidays“, and all the rest!

We are all oh so fortunate to find ourselves surrounded by amazing and inspiring people. On this day of celebration, we have feasted, exchanged gifts, laughed, and loved. To each other and to you we say thank you for being. May your days be eternally filled with love and warmth, and possibly an overload of cookies.

🙂

Samhain Ritual 2015

Our Samhain celebration was a wonderful gathering, with a few new faces joining in our Grove’s celebration. we had 10 people in attendance for the ritual, with additional family and friends joining us for the feasting and celebration through the night. After opening the gates and calling to the Morrighan (who was the  patroness of the rite), we had an ancestor meditation to honour those who had come before us.  As is our grove tradition for this festival, we left the ritual space with the gates and invitation to the kindreds open, and proceeded inside for an amazing potluck supper – setting aside a plate at the ancestor altar for our honoured dead. Once all the desserts had been “sacrificed at the altar of our appetites” and the night was winding down, we went back out to our altar space to close the gates and thank the kindreds for their presence and the blessings bestowed.

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The feast of Samhain comes from the ancient Celts, meaning “summer’s end.” This day is a holy in-between time, that sits opposite Beltaine in the wheel of the year.  This is a time when we perceive the veil between this world and the next to be at it’s thinnest, and we might glimpse beyond to the otherworld.

Whereas Beltaine is a celebration of new life and vibrant fertility, Samhain is a celebration of our ancestors and those who have passed beyond this world. It celebrates and venerates the year and the lives that have ended, so that the cycle can begin anew.  This is our “Pagan New Year”, for the ancients observed their calendar as beginning in the dark half of the year, much like our lives – which are begun in the darkness of the womb. It also marks a time of feasting and a celebration of the final harvest, so that the tribe could put on that needed layer of fat in preparation of the cold winter months ahead.

The meditation in our ritual was inspired by the Ancestor Prayer written by Rev. Michael Dangler from Three Cranes Grove, ADF,

Ancestor Prayer

 

 

Mabon Ritual Celebration

What a fantastic Mabon celebration this weekend! Ritual and picnic went off without a hitch and, despite the rain, we even had a few guests, including (but not limited to) Erin Picard, our ADF Regional Druid who was down to visit all weekend. Thank you for visiting us! We were very pleased to have you with us for Mabon.

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The ritual took place at York Redoubt and highlighted the Harvest, with a strict focus on the rebirth that comes as nature falls. In our moments of reverence for the passing of the trees and the impending winter, we are also reminded of the regeneration that will come with spring and the fun new projects the winter months can yield. All participants were handed acorns as keepsakes or plant-ables to emphasize these values. The Oghams pulled were “Fir” and “Gooseberry”; great omens for a Harvest Festival.

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We’ve said a physical “goodbye” to one of our longest standing members, Marc, who is moving away but will be keeping in touch regularly and will come home to us again in what will hopefully be a short two years. He will always be in our thoughts and the Grove will always be his family.

Also of note this fine Nova Scotian murky day was the signing of our Charter. We will be sending off the paperwork to the ADF “Mother Grove” to acquire Full Grove Status, something we have striven to accomplish for many years.

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Please enjoy a few pictures of our celebration. It was so nice to have guests come out and express their fondness for the Grove’s organization and comradery.

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Mabon

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Mabon, the Fall Equinox or Alban Elfed, takes place around September 21-22 when, once again, the night and day are of equal lengths. It is time to rest, to pay respect to the impending darkness and give thanks for the sunlight and all it has provided. Be sure to harvest and store your crop, in preparation for the oncoming winter.

As Druids, we pay special attention to the Green Man by offering libations to the trees in honour of his sacrifice. He dies once more with the final harvest and his seeds will be planted again to ensure the continuation of life and the turning of the wheel.

As this is the second Harvest Festival, people will often gather for feasts and enjoy the fruits of their labours. It is customary to take out your finery and enjoy a lavish meal. Finish your business and projects; this is a time for rest and reflection.

Decorate your home with fall colours –reds, oranges, browns, golds– and enjoy some traditional activities, like herb-drying and wine-making. This is a fantastic time of year for canning your preserves and saving your seeds for winter and the coming new year.

Altar Layout

A couple weekends age our Grove attended a festival and hosted the Closing Ritual for all the festival goers. It was an honour and we were happy to put our well versed Rituals into the public eye. As with all things, we wanted to make a  nice display of our altar and I thought it may be nice to share…

It can be challenging to find altar layouts and especially hard to find them with pictures. This layout is based one the ADF Druid 1.1.1 Documents and has been our standard for some time. Almost every item on the table has a very specific purpose and is called for at the beginning of each Ritual in the Setup.

Enjoy!

Tip: Click on the image to make it bigger 🙂

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Oats: Offering to the Outdwellers
Grains: Offering to the Nature Spirits
Horn: For the Hallowing of the Blessing
Spirits: Offering to Deity of the occasion and another for Hallowing of the Blessing
Bell: Ritual Charm
Fire: Fire Representation to be placed toward the East with Oil offering for Cosmos
Sage: For smudging
Incense: Atmosphere
Tobacco: Offering to the Ancestors
Tree: Tree Representation to be places toward the North
Herbs:Tree offering for Cosmos
Well: Well Representation to be placed toward the West; used for saining, and  Silver offering for Cosmos

 

AEGIS 2015

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We were fortunate this Lughnasadh in that most of the Grove was able to make the trip down to the beautiful Annapolis Valley to celebrate together, as a family and as part of a larger community, at the annual AEGIS Pagan Festival & Spiritual Retreat.

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This year’s festival theme was “The Wild Hunt”, which was reflected in the activities, feasts, and rituals. The GNSD was well-represented throughout the festival, participating in numerous rituals, stepping up to perform a number of volunteer duties, engaging in many a conversation, and taking home three “Golden Pine Cone Awards”.

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Overall, the AEGIS Festival proved a time for…

Connecting with old friends and meeting new, deep spirituality, bug spray, coyotes, bacon bacon bacon, a sense of community, “energy”, jaunts to the beach, campfires, marshmallows, mead horns, potlucks, baby coos, trees, breezes, sunshine, bare feet, face painting, workshops, offerings, playful puppies, broken tent poles, barbed wire, chicken saute, pallet bridges, water buckets, swollen feet, “bad” cider, coffee, ice cream, cool streams, smiles, laughter, love

…and photographs (some of which you see here).

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A wonderful and memorable weekend hand by all. We hope and intend to return next year.

🙂