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.

🙂

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.

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!

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 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.

Spring Cleaning

“Spring Cleaning” started as a matter of practicality. In the winter, it is too cold, too wet, and the days are too short to get much of the housework done. You wouldn’t want to air your quilts or carpets in the snow, and you couldn’t re-thatch bedding or furniture, so it all stayed inside and everyone simply did their best to keep the mess at bay.

As soon as Spring comes, cleaning strikes like an uncontrollable urge. The days are longer and, suddenly, that extra bit of light helps you see the dust bunnies in that corner you never sweep or the cobwebs that have suddenly appeared. For a couple of days, there is intense planning and all our mayhem to get the house, and maybe even the yard, in shape.

With all that motivation and pent up cleaning energy in mind, here are a few things to think about…

“One man’s garbage…”: The old saying still holds true. Something may be worthless to you but priceless to someone else. Try putting items on a local trading/selling website, barring that you can also donate many gently used things to local charities. Make it easy for yourself. Create piles and give yourself time limits on selling your “junk”, so you can avoid the same situation next year. Less in the landfill is always the right answer.

“Clean house, clear head”: There is a deep sense of reward when the house is tidy, and it will make your daily routines much easier! Clean out the junk, reorganize a few spaces, and voila! You may find yourself letting go of the tension you didn’t even realize you had. Besides, cleaning up and having a fresh slate makes room for new and exciting projects.

“Style is an option, clean is not”: I’m not fear mongering. Well, I’m not trying to… But here it is… A dirty home can affect your health and the health of your family in many ways, so if for some reason you are resisting the urge to dust, vacuum, and de-clutter, STOP IT! Cleaning up is well worth the extra effort.

When you’ve finished your physical cleanse, it may be a nice idea to tie in something spiritual as well. Try sweeping from the back to the front of your house, straight out the door. Or more generally clean from the back to the front of the house. This way, you can push all your dust and dirt right out the door for a renewed living space. If you would like to try something more formal, click here for a basic “House Cleansing Ritual”.

 

Ostara: A Peak Into [Personal] Traditions

With Ostara behind us and Beltaine soon upon us, we realized it might be a good time (even if a bit belated) to share the personal Ostara traditions of one of our members and his family, before moving forward to new celebrations…

On the morning of Ostara, this member, his wife, and their young son get out big mason jars and fill them with water. These jars are then taken outside where they can catch the first rays of sunshine on that blessed day, and are left out to “charge” while the family returns to the indoors to enjoy a good brunch.

Following their meal, the three of them work together to do a clean up of the house, starting from the top floor and sweeping down and toward the front door, symbolically pushing out any bad energy they may have collected.

Following the cleaning, they collect the crystals they have placed throughout their home and, using some of the water from the jars outside, they cleanse or “recharge” the crystals. The rest of the day is devoted to crafts and games, and in the evening they  have friends over for a feasting.

 

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

Imbolc 2015 (Event)

Saturday night’s Imbolc event was a great success. The ritual was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the number of people positively flooding through the doors was fantastic!

Unfortunately, with all our focus being directed into set-up and participation in the ritual itself, none of us managed to capture any particularly share-worthy photos of the celebration. That being said, we did manage to get our hands on this one:

Imbolc 2015 - Altar

The Triskele Altar (Clootie Tree and well), photographed by a friend of Alba Nuadh and posted with permission.