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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
A difficult thing for most pagan paths is community outreach. I view this as a two part process:
- 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;
- 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.
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.
“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.
This past weekend, we were graced by a visit from our Regional Druid, Jaime Cadorette-Thifault. She was an absolute delight.
In addition to showing her the local sights (Peggy’s Cove, Fisherman’s Cove, and several watering holes), we were lucky enough to have Jaime for a Welcoming Ritual where the Gods from multiple pantheons were hailed and gifts were exchanged.
It was an honour to play host to such a wonderful (and funny) woman, and we appreciate being included in her tour of the canadian groves.
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.)
“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!
(All quotes are excerpts from the afternoon’s ritual.)
“Now is the time of stirring, when the earth begins to soften and the waters to flow. While frost still bites and winds blow, and the light is growing stronger, and life begins to wake.”
“Imbolc is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honour the rebirth of the Sun. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. […] This is a time for communing with her, and tending the light of her sacred flame. At this time of year, we will light multiple candles or lanterns to remind us of the passing of Winter and the entrance into Spring, the time of the Sun.”
This past weekend, we joined the Pagan Presence Committee in the celebration of Imbolc as part of the 2017 Interfaith Harmony Week, a week which sees groups of multiple and diverse religions, faiths, and spiritualities open their doors to the public, inviting anyone interested in learning about and experiencing various traditions.
The evening opened with our Grove hosting a ritual, and followed with a “meet & greet”, where attendees got to explore a number of pagan tables and ask questions about the different paths and denominations. Snacks (including a chocolate fountain!! –yes, too exciting not to mention) were shared, and wonderful conversations were had. It was a lovely event, and we were pleased to be a part of it.
Happy Imbolc, everyone! <3
(All quotes are excerpts from the evening’s ritual, and photocred goes to Karen.)
“Back at the time of Samhain, the Green Man, old and tired and naked of leaf and vine, bundled himself against the impending long, cold, dark nights and welcomed a deep and well-deserved rest. While he settled to sleep, we cast into the universe our hopes, dreams, desires, and wishes for the new year, before we too pulled our blankets up and waited for the days to once again grow long.
The night of Yule, the Winter Solstice, brings with it the rising of a new sun and the rebirth of the Green Man. We have made it through the darkest time of the year, the longest night, and we rejoice. Through the burning of the Yule log, we invite the light back into our homes, and we celebrate the knowledge that with all endings come new beginnings.”
Last night, we were finally able to get together for the celebration of Yule. There was singing and laughing and the sharing of bowls of homemade chili and cornbread and too many butter-tarts.
And also cat cuddles. (Because sometimes stereotypes are real.)
As spoken in ritual,
“let us take a moment to reflect on the love and respect we share for ourselves, each other, and this family. Let us continue to be present in each others’ lives, and to support one another through whatever challenges we each may face. […] Let us laugh and share, and be grateful for this life and this day, this fire and this food, these precious young souls, our homes, our jobs, our abilities to breathe, to speak, to listen, and to love.”
Happy Yule from all of us here in the GNSD!
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.
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.
A very happy [early] Mabon to you all!