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Posts Tagged ‘the gods’

It’s not quite reached the level of an addiction, I think, this visiting the new park — but I do feel anxious when a few days go by and I can’t get out of the house to either the new one or my original park. This is a good thing, I suppose — a sign of increasing connection with the nature spirits (as well as an appreciation for the beauties of nature and the good burn of exertion that comes with the exercise of a cross-country hike!)

I brought an offering, as I always do; as this was the day after the Ostara rite put on by the Grove I’m a member of (more on that in a later post), I brought the remnants of the homemade Irish soda bread I’d baked, with dried cherries, as well as bananas, dried cherries, dried blueberries, wine, raisins, sunflower seed kernels, dried apricots, barley, maple syrup, and steel-cut oats:

When I finished leaving the offering, I turned around…and there were bones everywhere (I really think I must have been blind in all my past walks through forests never to have seen ANY before!):

(The above is a deer’s pelvis.)  If nothing else, I’m certainly becoming more observant of the world around me, which can only be a good thing.

In the end, this turned out to be a nearly-complete, un-coyote-gnawed doe skeleton, lacking only the skull, one lower jawbone, the bones of one full leg, and the two shoulderblades. I found every other piece — all the ribs, all the vertebrae, the sternum, the tailbone, the other three legs (including all the tiny hoof bones, which I had never found before), the pelvis, the atlas bone (which supports the head), and one jawbone. It was amazing.

Not 500 feet away from this site, I found what might have been the missing leg; it was all there, including the hooves. Also there was half an older pelvis bone:

I took the bones back to the car — I was less than five minutes from the parking lot — and then took my garbage bags and my empty backpack and went wandering for awhile.

I was out for a good three hours. And then I got lost, wandering farther and farther from the trail. I found a good many more bones, but did not take them all; I found a grove of hawthorn and apple trees in the middle of an oak forest; I found another lovely raccoon skull, this one with one of the lower jawbones:

I collected that one. It was in as good of condition as the first I found, though missing a few more teeth.

I wandered further and further through the woods until I came to a wire fence. I followed the wire fence until I came to a gravel road. I went down the gravel road until I heard the sound of traffic, and then I checked to see if I could get a GPS signal.

My GPS told me I was over 4 miles, overland, from the entrance to the park where I had started.

I followed the gravel road til it came out near a paved road. And this is where I came out at:

I had no idea Valhalla was located in Park Forest, IL. (Note: a search on the name and town after I got home revealed the estate is for sale to anyone with half a million dollars. Four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a swimming pool, a fallout shelter, and six acres of forest. Nice.)

I guess even if I thought I was lost, the gods knew where I was all the time, and guided me back to where I needed to be. 😉

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Poetry: Persephone’s Choice

Neither choice was mine.

Put yourself in my shoes:

I wasn’t precisely a child,

No matter how the stories paint things.

Sure, all the living things my mother tended

Needed the help of bees and butterflies to breed,

But I wasn’t wholly ignorant of sex,

Not with all those nymphs around.

That was passion, yes: the grunting of satyrs

Rutting in the bushes.

Birds and bees? Hah! Goats and trees.

(And streams and rocks and hills —

Every naiad, oread, and dryad had a fling

with the furry little wretches.)

But love? I knew only the love

Of a daughter for her mother,

And knew not how ardently I was desired.

My mother turned away all who would woo me:

The thief, the warrior, the smith, and the musician,

Keeping me to herself,

Keeping me safe,

Keeping my innocence pristine,

Like an ancient flower faded to grey,

dry and brittle where it lays pressed between the pages of a book.

Like the child I was, all decisions were made for me:

What and when to eat, what to wear, where to walk,

And given as much respect as might be given any powerless child:

A satisfied smile, a chaste kiss on my brow, a pat on the head.

No more had I earned for myself,

Not knowing in my ignorance that more was even possible,

And no more was I due.

But He did not ask my mother’s permission to court me,

Knowing she would refuse

The Lord of the Dead as she had refused all others.

No, He came without warning

(A foreshadowing, if you will),

Bursting up out of the earth

with all the violence and vigor

of a spear’s tip, emerging from a soldier’s chest

After it has been plunged into his back,

Ending his life.

And thus He ended my life —

The old life of pastoral play

and picking anemones under Helios’ bright gaze.

He bore me down in His arms,

Raining kisses on my face,

Strangely warm, for all that He is considered cold,

And strangely gentle, for all that so many of the ways

that life ends are brutal.

He wrapped me in fine silk, garlanded me with gold and rubies,

Sat me on the throne next to His own,

And in one breath,

Called me both “beloved” and “queen”.

Well.

Upset as I was, frightened as I was,

It was enough to make any girl’s head turn,

Enough to take my breath away.

How many times had I listened

to the nymphs and the satyrs,

And wished I had arms to hold me tight, as they did?

How many times had I dreamed of hearing a dark voice

choke out my name in yearning?

How many times had I wished to pass my own hand

over the roughness of a bearded cheek?

And then there was the power to think of, of course.

My mother’s bourne is life:

Trees, flowers, grain bursting golden in ripeness,

Feeding the hungry.

Apollo has music and light and prophecy and healing,

Dionysus the vine,

Hephaestus his forge,

Hermes his messages and his sly ways,

Ares his battles.

And though each and every one of them excels at his field,

Those fields are limited in scope,

Ending where they jut up against another’s.

But everything must die —

Trees and flowers and grain,

Cattle and swine and goats,

Hounds and stags,

Man,

the Titans who came before us,

And yes —

Even though man calls those who dwell on Olympus “the Deathless”

— Yes, even gods, too, may die.

How could I resist?

I knew, sooner or later, my mother

would come for me, tear me away from His side,

Take me back to the fields of flowers above,

Make me once again that little girl —

without the power of choice,

without the agency of free will,

without He who loved me.

Neither of the first two choices were mine:

Not mine, the choice to sit in that meadow,

crowned with flowers, surrounded by nymphs.

Not mine, the choice to be torn from that meadow,

borne into the depths of the earth, worshiped by He

who rules over everything when its time has ended.

But mine was the choice to stay or to go: this much power, I could seize.

I knew the rules: to eat would mean I must stay.

I knew watchful Helios had seen my Lord carry me away,

And what Helios knew, my mother would eventually know, as well.

The pomegranate shone like a promise.

When Hermes came to bear me back, I confessed:

these seeds, I have eaten.

And thereby bought the best of both worlds:

The joy and beauty of the meadows above, and a mother’s love.

And the embraces below, caught fast in the arms of

He whom I adore,

And that black throne.

See me now: I have made my choice,

And from that choice came all that followed.

Child no longer,

Maiden no longer,

But a woman grown, and queen:

Not just beloved, but a power in my own right,

And worthy of respect.

Give me my due.

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So I know I dreamed a lot last night. I don’t remember any of them but the last one; Doug and I had finally moved to the big old farmhouse we’ve always wanted to get, and were in the middle of carrying boxes from the moving van onto the front porch. It was starting to rain, so I was hurrying to move the three or four boxes that held my dagger collection inside so nothing would rust…and then I noticed that all the oak trees in the front yard were full of owls. Owls everywhere.

Weapons and owls (owls being the symbol I have longest associated with Athena)? I think Athena wants a word with me.

Part of my morning wake-up routine is to have tea and breakfast while I go through my morning email and Facebook notifications.  Browsing FB, I see that one of the Hellenic Pagan groups I belong to there has posted the following:

“Today (Feb. 5) is the thirteenth of the lunar month, a day to honour Athena.”

I was right about the dream, apparently. I should at least offer a libation, but that could be a problem: Indiana is a blue state. They don’t sell wine or other liquors on Sunday.

Well, we had errands to run today, and it was no problem, since we live right near the state line we share with Illinois, to stop at a store there to pick up a bottle of wine for Her.  After getting the wine, I stopped at the local Barnes and Noble to see if any new books I wanted are out yet.  After about five minutes of browsing, I realize that the in-store stereo is playing a song that has a chorus that sounds suspiciously like the words “Fowl owl on the prowl.”  So my husband Googled it on his cellphone and it’s a real song, sung by a group called The Little Willies:

By this time, I was starting to get a little rattled; I believe in omens and signs, but I’d never received any this clearly before.  So I paid for the book I had grabbed and turned to go get a mocha from the in-store Starbucks for the ride home.

A few feet from the counter, I was confronted by the following:

Too weirded-out to get my mocha, I left and stopped at the Meijer’s across the street for a diet soda instead, trying very hard not to look at much of anything. On the way to the check-out, I spot this out of the corner of one eye:

Got home. Made my libation (remembered the khernips beforehand and everything).  Sat down, thought about it.

I decided to do a simple, three-card Tarot reading to make sure I’m not just overreacting to a few coincidences. Owls are a popular design motif these days, go anywhere commercial and it’s not that odd you’ll run into an owl-themed t-shirt…or coffee mug…or pitcher… (Although, c’mon, the owl song was just plain…weird.)

Question #1: “Are you really trying to get in touch with me, Athena, or am I imagining it?”

The card I drew: Queen of Swords. A subtle, keen, and quick-witted woman; associated with air (the butterflies on her crown, but I was thinking of the owl). And the goddess of battle and strategy, i.e. swords.

Do I even need to continue?

Well, yes…if I wanted to know what She wanted.

Second question: “Is there something you want me to do?”

Second card: Six of pentacles. Alms dispensed with justice. Charity. Gifts, undertaking; you will receive what you deserve.

At dinner/lunch (it was around 3:30) today at Famous Dave’s, I noticed that they had the “Round-it-Up” campaign, where, when you pay your tab, you round up the charge on your credit card to the nearest dollar, and they give all that money to a local Northern Illinois food bank. I did so without a second thought. Maybe…she wants to see more of that?

Third question: “Do you want me to give more to help those in need?”

Third card: Queen of Pentacles. Meaning: This is a woman who is the Earth mother, generous with her gifts. She is rich but charitable, a truly noble soul.

Well, that seems to confirm it (though I’d hardly call myself rich). As She wants it, then. I don’t often receive messages (either in dreams, omens, or readings) that are anywhere near this clear.

P. S. This is the wine I bought for Her libation:

http://www.chainbridgecellars.com/product/owl-house-red-wine-nv-7585.cfm

Final note: Chris, our Grove’s senior Druid, says (I quote): “Not to make it too much about the Onions, but Athena is one of the Matrons of LFAC and we owe Her a rite (there was a small owl event of our own a couple Wellsprings ago.) Perhaps that’s our Spring Equinox…?)

I very much like that idea.

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I have never been much of one for daily devotions; coming as I do from the religion I was raised in (Catholicism) that valued orthodoxy (right belief) over orthopraxy (right action), much of that still underlay much of the way I interacted with the divine once I left Catholicism. I figured the gods knew I loved them, and I didn’t need to do things to show them that every day.

But recently, reading one of those memes you see on Facebook (the one that reminds you that you never know if the moment you’re looking at a loved one might be the last time you see them — heart attack, car accident, etc. — so you should tell them, over and over again, how much you love them; make sure they know how much you love them), it occurred to me that, if I would do something like that for my human loved ones (and I do), and even my pets, why would I leave the gods out of that circle of love and consideration? Sure, we routinely acknowledge that the gods are more powerful than us, and know more than us. It’s pretty much automatic to assume that they know we love them. But that doesn’t mean I should take it for granted. So about a week ago, I started building the first of what I hope will be many habits (21 days to build a habit, 3 days to break one, remember): daily devotions toward the gods. The first thing I do now, in the morning, upon rising — before my first cup of tea or checking to see if the mailman has come yet — is to light the candle on Hermes’ altar, and light a stick of incense for him, and greet him. Once I’ve built that habit, I’ll move on toward such a thing with another (probably Brigid), and then another, and another, until all the deities I honor have their own devotions. These things take no more than a few seconds apiece, and I can hardly begrudge a few moments out of my day toward them.

Old dogs can learn new tricks, and leopards can change their spots. If they care.

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Like most pagans, I started out as a Christian.  Roman Catholic, to be precise; my father was a devout man with an unshakeable faith and a lot of principles that differed from my own.  I knew from my early teens that Christianity was not a good “fit” for me, spiritually; what I didn’t know was what faith did fit me.

Very soon after leaving home for college, I set aside Catholicism, Christianity, and church attendance in general, and began to explore what I did believe in.  Such research was more difficult in the mid-80s, before the advent of home computers and the Internet, but not impossible; it simply required more effort to be devoted to the task.

Bit by bit, my path was set — I have recounted it in some detail in other posts — and, the more I learned about paganism in general, the more different I found it to be from Christianity.  Such differences lay not just in the way the two religions viewed the world, from their relative viewpoints on the value of women, the environment, freedom of speech over blind obedience, and holy texts, but in the merit placed upon two completely different tenets of faith: Christianity’s orthodoxy versus Paganism’s Orthopraxy.

Christianity — and to a lesser extent, other forms of monotheism — rely heavily on orthodoxy as a trait of the church.  If you believe the right things, then you are part of the “saved”, and nothing else is required.  To be sure, Catholicism and Protestantism place different weights on this tenet: the Catholic Church (both Roman and Orthodox) states that right belief also has to be followed up with right acts, whereas most Protestant churches state that belief alone — “I accept Christ as my savior, etc.” — is all that is necessary to rescue one’s soul from the clutches of Hell.

Most pagan faiths do not bother with right belief; partly, I believe this to be due to the fact that Paganism is such a vast collection of different traditions and practices:  traditional British Wicca (Gardnerian and Alexandrian), neo-Wicca (both solitary paths and most American trads), Druidry, Asatru, Recon faiths, witchcraft, shamaism, non-Asatru heathenism, and so on, and so forth.  While I can remember the occasional outbreak of “One-True-Wayism” among specific traditions, these A) seldom last and B) usually result in the hiving off of a new tradition composed of those on the losing side of the conflict.  Paganism is not a single faith, but rather an umbrella organization of so many different faith paths, few to none of which rely on received or revealed lore from a divine source (as opposed to ancient texts such as Hesiod’s “Works and Days”, for the Hellenes, which recount the lore of a particular faith, but generally admit to being written or compiled by a human author, rather than the revealed word of a divinity). In such an organization, it is hard to point to any one “holy book” and try to impose a rigid set of rules from that book on all followers of a faith.

Additionally, the JudeoChristian churches claim that their God is not only omniscient, but omnipotent and omnipresent.  No pagan faith I know of claims that the deities they follow are all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere; indeed, none of the pagan gods I know of have ever made such a claim in any of the myths or lore I have read.  In my estimation, this quality only reinforces the Christian churches’ reliance on right belief over right practice.  If “God” knows all, sees all, is all-powerful and everywhere, then there can be only one right way to believe — His way.  But in pagan faiths, where the deities are powerful in their own spheres, but do not claim to know everything, and often make mistakes, carrying out the right ritual practices — the right prayers, celebrating the holy days at the right time, offering the right sacrifices — are far more important.  The aphorism “Actions speak louder than words” applies here: it is easy to say that you believe the right things, but showing it in deeds, not merely empty words or thought, carries far more weight.

Seen in that light, Pagan faiths are not merely “the religion with homework”, but the religion that requires work.  By contrast, Christians have it very easy; believe the right thing, and that’s all you need do. This is especially true of some evangelical and fundamentalist denominations; once you have accepted Christ as your savior, not even regular church attendance is required, much less confession, Holy Communion, good works and deeds.  Once saved, always saved.

It is not quite so easy for most Pagan traditions.  Laying aside the question of whether witchcraft and spellwork is required as a form of religious action, especially for the various Wiccan traditions, there are still prayers, holy days, ritual observances, sacrifices (for some Pagan faiths), and other such deeds.  Some Pagan faiths include prison ministry, food bank donations, or other charitable donations and outreach as part of their work; others involve themselves heavily in environmental or feminist practices — cleaning the garbage out of parks, roadsides, and nature preserves, or volunteering at shelters for battered women and children.  This sort of advocacy is perhaps a more modern form of the traditional practices carried out by ancient cultures that we no longer have any contact with, or even more complete lore from that time.

I found it difficult to transition from right belief to right practice. Learning that what I believed was not nearly as important as what I did was hard to grasp in my earliest days; transferring to a different calendar of sacred days for ritual was especially difficult.  Learning the new dates, the new names, when to offer wine or honey or incense or barley or mead; these things were more important than which of the myths of Dionysus’ birth were “true”, for example.  (Hint: they both are.)  There were times when I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and retreat — not to being Christian again, but to the easier, lazier way of just believing in the right thing.  It took so little effort, and freed up so much time for other things.

But I persevered.  I still can’t claim to know when the date for every holy day in all three of the traditions I follow, or speak Attic Greek or Old Irish or Old Norse, or have mastered the aulos or the bodhran (well, I’m getting better with the bodhran).  And I can’t say for sure whether I’ll ever be as good at any of these things as I want to be, hope to be.  It’s not a task like wrapping a present for Christmas; you can’t be done with it in fifteen minutes and then never have to pick it up again.  It’s the work of a lifetime.  At one time, that would have made me despair.  These days, it only makes me smile, and bend my attention to right practice again.  After all, I chose this.  I chose it.  No one else forced me to follow this path; I follow it because it’s the right one for me, and that means all the work that comes with it is right for me, as well.  Laziness is not a virtue, no matter how much it sometimes seems that the work, and the study, and the deeds, and the practice are an unending flood.

There’s a quote I heard just today that applies perfectly to this.  Ironically, it comes from the Talmud, and in the future will serve as a touchstone when I start feeling overwhelmed: “You are not expected to finish the work, but neither are you permitted to lay it down.”

I can live with that.

(With thanks to Galina Krasskova for the quote.)

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All my life, I’ve lived within spitting distance of large bodies of water.  I was born in Dubuque, Iowa, which sits at the junction of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, on the Mississippi River.  I spent most of my early life there, only finally leaving when I went away to college at age 18.  There was a large-ish lake near the Missouri town where I spent my first year in college, then dropped out (no self-discipline at that age).

After that, I moved to St. Louis — back on the Mississippi.  And after I got married a couple years later, I moved back to Dubuque.

Now that I live in Indiana, in a town that’s technically a suburb of Chicago, I live just a few blocks from the shores of Lake Michigan.  All my life, I’ve heard water’s call.  If you believe in astrology, you might chalk that up to the fact that the day and month I was born make me a Cancer — a water sign.

But I’d never been to the ocean.

Not until last year.

A few years ago, I put up an altar to Poseidon, after a day of shopping in which elements that suggested Him kept popping up — seashells, fishing net, coral, candles that presumably smelled like the ocean (they don’t, of course — they’re named with oceanic scents, but they smell like some sweet scent that doesn’t occur in nature; the ocean mostly smells like salt and fish and rotting kelp).

Last year, my husband and I went to New Orleans for our vacation in September.  And I put my foot down; we were going to see the ocean, like I had always wanted to.

So we took a route that brought us down in a path that swerved around New Orleans to the east, cutting through several gulf cities — Biloxi and Gulfport — before driving back west and pulling over at one of those roadside beaches, just outside of Long Beach.

 

 

The sand was very white, and the beach was mostly empty, except for a long-legged, dark-feathered bird that watched us warily as we got out of the car.

 

There were tracks all over the beach from gulls; I see plenty of them back by the lake at home, so I recognized them at once:

 

We walked along the sand for a good fifteen minutes before I stopped and stripped off my shoes.  I had brought along a bottle of wine to make a libation to Poseidon, and I had my husband open it for me:

 

 

Finally, I stepped into the water, not caring that the legs of my jeans instantly got wet:

 

 

The water was very warm; I hadn’t been expecting that — warm as the caress of a mother’s hand on my cheek.  I waded out fifteen or twenty feet from the shore, listening to the purr and crash of the waves, the cars going by, the occasional shriek of a gull.  The water and the sand looked much cleaner than I had expected, after the disaster with the Deepwater Horizon spill.

With bottle in hand, I waded out.  I had thought long and hard about pouring a libation of wine into the ocean: would it just be more pollution?  Could it hurt the fish? Could it upset the chemical balance of the water? Would Poseidon appreciate it, or would he resent me dumping yet more human chemicals into his home?

In the end, I decided to do it. The amount of wine in one bottle, in comparison to the vast ocean, was very small; furthermore, the wine, chemically, was composed more of water than anything else; if one freezes a bottle of wine to remove the water from the alcohol (an old way of making brandy, before advanced distillery methods), what is left is very small.  And I didn’t want to come all that way to see Poseidon and not bring a gift.

 

 

We stayed a little longer; I confess I was very reluctant to leave.  There was so much to see, so many little things that it would have been easy to overlook.  At a distance, I had seen only the bird, large wildlife — but the smaller inhabitants of the coast were there, too.

Hermit crabs in abundance:

 

And jellyfish:

But it started to get late, and we were still due at our hotel, so eventually — much as I wanted to stay — we got back in the car and drove away.

I can still hear the ocean singing; it haunts my blood, echoes through my veins.

I think that one day, perhaps when I am old, I will have to live by the ocean, so I can rise every morning with the dawn, and go to greet the sun and the shore and the surging waters, and wade along the beach barefooted, feeling the warm water on my skin.

Some day.

 

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The Yule ritual for my Grove, Wild Onion Grove, was scheduled for Sunday, December 18th at 2 PM; originally, it was being held at the Life Force Arts Center, but a conflict required it to be relocated to a member’s home.  Potluck to follow the ritual.

I arrived at the house with my husband at 2, only to find we were early because the ritual had been rescheduled to 3 PM and I hadn’t heard. But our hosts were exceptionally gracious, and we sat on the couch and watched TV (a program on the History Channel about Egypt and archaeology) as they finished getting ready.

The deity of the occasion was, of course, All-Father Odin; my husband is normally present at these rituals (I have never learned how to drive, or had a license, and we live a good hour outside of Chicago proper), but doesn’t much take part.  However, heathen that he is, he actually ended up participating in this one, which made me happy.

People began to trickle in right around 3 — the other three regular members of the Grove who I know fairly well, two others that had been at the Samhain rite (one of whom brought her young son), Joan (the owner of the Life Force Arts Center), and several others I met for the first time.

Gatekeeper for the ritual was Heimdall; bardic deity was Bragi.  As with the Samhain ritual most recently, and at least one other before that one, I was asked to take that part of the rite; our host had asked well beforehand, and as I’d recently finished writing a poem about Bragi to submit to a devotional anthology in honor of Bragi and Idunn, I found it fairly easy to write something for the rite (which I’ll reproduce below).  I also took the slot for one of the Three Kindreds, that of the nature spirits (who I am building an increasing connection to, but that’s for a future post).

Invocation to Bragi as Bardic:

Hail unto Bragi, whose name has given meaning

To the tales we tell of our deeds and our creations!

We ask that you join us here today if you are willing,

Kindle the bright spark in our spirits that

Gives the beginning to such deeds and creations,

Under your guidance, let us be bold;

Under your watch, let us be inspired;

And with the spark you kindle,

Bring depth, passion, and wisdom to

All we say and do here today.

Hail!

I thought the ritual went very well.  As part of the praise offerings, I brought a poem I’d written for Odin (which has been published in the Troth’s magazine, Idunna) titled “Odin’s Call”:

Like the spider spinning his web in a high wind,

You were persistent, tapping again and again

At the door to my heart and head, until I listened,

Opened the door, and let you in.

I thought I had nothing to do with the gods of the North,

Preferring to walk another path, thinking my life

Already too complicated and confused to warrant

Following any others.

But you would not accept my refusal, sending

Little signs and omens: two ravens following

My car, a gray cat adopted on Wednesday who wanders

And will not shut up: so like you.

What need had I for your guidance?  I was stubborn,

Did not want to take the steps to meet you,

Knowing how much you would demand of me,

Not knowing whether I could give it.

After a hard lifetime, I tend to think myself unworthy

Of such attention, and you confused me, chasing after

Me so relentlessly; I preferred to think I only imagined it,

Because what would you want with one such as myself?

I don’t ask those questions any more—or if I do, I know

That, while I might not be able to answer them, you must

Have your reasons.  Better, then, to serve you best as I can,

Though what gifts I have to offer are little enough.

These verses will win me no friends.  Your followers are a

Bold and boasting lot, whereas I have always striven to be

Meek and mild, hiding my lights away, better to go unnoticed,

Better to avoid strife, sorrow, and conflict.

But hiding from you did not work, and so I am here,

Hoping that some day I will understand why you wanted me,

Knowing because you did that there must be more that I can offer

Than the nothing I believe myself to be.

I also brought a feast of cookies — some for the potluck, and some (mead cookies and Swedish butter cookies) as part of the praise offerings.

Almost everyone present shared stories of how they got involved with Odin, or encounters with him; I told the story of how I’d finally accepted him and the Norse pantheon, which I’ve told here in an earlier post, and was pleased and surprised when even my normally-reticent and taciturn husband shared some of his own moments with the All-Father.

Me (in the white blouse) next to my husband Doug in the black Germany hoodie. I don't know everyone's name, but the white-haired lady speaking is Joan Forest Mage, and the gentleman in the red top is Chris, our senior druid.

 

(Picture by Caroline Farrow.)

The takeaway from the ritual were hand-painted rune cards done by one of the Grove members.  There were enough present for everyone to take two; I was utterly unsurprised to see that the first card I chose (they were all face-down so no one could tell what card they were going to draw) was the rune Ansuz, which is Odin’s rune.  As if I needed reminding that He had claimed me (even though He has to share me with the other deities I worship).  The second card I drew was Fehu, which tends to mean wealth, money, and riches.  (Something I don’t think any of us would mind having a little more of, heh!)

After the ritual had completed — with a fairly good, if somewhat ambiguous oracle (but then, Odin’s like that…prone to more than one meaning in the messages he gives) — we had dinner.  There was lasagna with garlic bread, a veggie plate, lots of munchies and snacks, my own cookies, homemade oatmeal-raisin bars and gingerbread, and plenty more.  There was wonderful conversation, jokes and more stories of past pagan and ADF festivals (which cemented the desire I have to attend Wellspring, eventually…some day…)

We weren’t the first to leave, but we weren’t the last; it was an hour’s drive back, and alas, my husband had work in the morning.  I would have liked to stay longer, but I’ll see my Grove-mates again in a few weeks, when we have the planning meeting for our Imbolc ritual.

And this year’s Imbolc ritual will mark the completion of the circle, because 2011’s Imbolc ritual was the first ADF gathering I attended. More than ever, I feel like I belong among these people who started out as friendly strangers and have ended up as friends. And although I’m still a good long way from completing my DP work, I feel like I belong here.

Later edit: here is the link for my grove’s blog entry about the Yule ritual:

http://wild-onion-grove.blogspot.com/2012/02/wild-onion-yule-2012.html?spref=fb

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