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

 

 

 

 

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.

Summer Solstice

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.)

-xo

Beltane Ritual

Beltane was a great time. We danced the may pole, shared delicious snacks, and had a wonderful ritual with Grove and friends.

During the ritual, we pulled two Oghams as usual and were met with the following: Blackthorn, which represents challenges, difficulty, and poison, followed by Yew, which represents access to ancestors, death, rebirth, and faith. Suffice to say, from great challenges come lessons, new life, and rebirth. We will embrace the challenges that are coming to us, knowing that the outcomes will be worth the efforts and struggle.

Good luck to you all with your Spring and Summer ventures and Blessed Beltane!

Celebrating the Renewal of Life

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!

xox

(All quotes are excerpts from the afternoon’s ritual.)

Spring Cleaning

Ritual is not only for the High Days. We have smaller life rituals that we perform each and every day: the ritual of brushing our teeth, the ritual of getting dressed, etc. With Ostara and Spring just around the corner, I thought it was time for some “Spring Cleaning” which, as with all things, is best done mindfully.

I love to clean, so there’s no issue for me there, but if you are not a fan of scrubbing things down and tidying up, maybe doing so mindfully will help you to achieve a greater sense of accomplishment and comfort.

The ritual of Spring Cleaning has existed since the dawn of time. In North America, it is typically done in response to the cold and wet climate we endure throughout winter. Traditionally, it would be a time to dust and air out the home, change the hay in bedding, and be rid of all things that accumulated in the home during the harsher months. Nowadays, it is mostly an excuse to give the house a good once-over and recycle things we no longer need.

So apart from the obvious aspects of cleaning, like removal of dust and debris, cleaning surfaces or carpets, and laundering things that may get forgotten, we should keep in mind a few things:

  • Firstly, you must perform each task with a strong sense of intent. Focus your energy on removing not only the physical mess but the emotional and spiritual mess as well. Visualize your home filling with a bright light as you cleanse it.
  • When performing a ritual, it is best not to use harsh chemicals, if they can be avoided. Try a natural brand or even making your own cleaning solution with vinegar, water and essential oils to give the house a fresh smell without the burning compounds. (Check out for DIY natural cleaning inspiration here, here, and here!)
  • Clean from top to bottom and from the back of the house out the front door.
  • Burn sage in order to cleanse and purify the air.
  • Open your most Easterly windows to allow the energy of the sun to pour in.

Good luck, folks!

 

(Check out our “Spring Cleaning” post from 2015, including a “House Cleaning Ritual” document, here)

Imbolc 2017

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.)

Imbolc 2017 & World Interfaith Harmony Week

We are happy to announce that we will be conducting our 2017 Imbolc ritual as a part of Halifax’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, in conjunction with the Earth Spirit Society of Nova Scotia (ESSNS), on Saturday, February 4th.

The ritual will take place in south end Halifax, at the Universalist Unitarian Church (5500 Inglis Street), and will be followed by a “meet & greet” where various pagan organizations in the city will have displays and information about their traditions

Doors open at 6:30pm, and the ritual (with an opening welcome statement and introduction) will begin promptly at 7:00pm.

Thanks to the hard work of the Pagan Presence Committee and ESSNS, the Pagan community has had an increasing involvement with interfaith in Halifax, and the Grove of Nova Scotia Druids is happy to be a part of it again this year.

For more information about Interfaith Harmony Halifax, visit:  http://ihhalifax.ca/home/

For copy of the 2017 event guide, including all the events put on by different faith groups click here.

Yule 2016

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!

-xo

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