A Happy Mabon to all! :)
What are the chances of a full moon on the equinox? Surely it happens somewhat often but still, I must say…
….As someone who only just recently came to study (my ancestral) Celtic paganism, I cannot even begin to describe how amazed, humbled, and filled with a curious frission I am about this intriguing and, dare I say, auspicious Autunmanl Equinox.
My first as a Pagan.
I am humbled to have been able to come to this path. It has only been a few scant months. Tonight helped to reaffirm my knowledge that this truly is the correct Path for me!
Truly, it was magickal.
I had a lovely private ritual in my “rock circle.” For the gods: Lights. Incense. The sprinkled plants and herbs for the ones I feel especially close to. I said prayers to them for strength and wisdom this coming Autumn, and gave my thanks for all of their past generosity.
…And of course left some Hawthorne for the Good Folk. If they have ever actually graced me with an audience, while I tried vainly to commune with their side – this auspicious night was the time!
We often dream about a life that is different from our own. I know I have always dreamed of a life radically different from the one I have. I have never been too terribly “unhappy,” but rarely have I been content. And it has only been in the last few years that I have really come to grips with exactly how I want to live and not just how I want to do to make a living… And let me tell you: for me this is a monumental accomplishment. It’s a relatively small dream. Simple but challenging.
As of right now I am awaiting acceptance into nursing school. Soon I will be a full-time student, pouring over medical text books, following other nurses around for hours of clinical rotations. I will do this for two years then if all goes to plan I will officially become an RN. A Registered Nurse. I will of course do all that is expected of me. I will be diligent, resourceful, and compassionate. But the question is… How long will I do this? While nursing is the job I have chosen – it is not the life I dream about. I hope to have fun being a nurse and I will take it very seriously, but it will ultimately be a means to an end. As soon as I am able I will buy my farm. I say “my farm” because I simply have not bought it yet… and it is somewhere out there waiting for me.
It has a small cottage in some far off rolling hill country like Wales, Oregon, or Nova Scotia. Inside there is a fireplace for the cats and a large chair beside. A wood burning stove for hot tea. Outside you find a couple of small barns and work sheds. One for my animals, one for my wood carving, another for the endless repairs to keep the place running. In a small wood near the house… or perhaps far away on one of the many, many acres I have a sacred spot where I will praise the Spirits in the land with proper magick. Here I will cast my spells and burn my incense. I will camp under that stars, commune with the gods, and soar through the worlds beyond our own.
I will spend the majority of my time raising sheep and alpacas for wool (with my border collies of course). Bees I will keep for honey, cows and goats for cheese, and monarch butterflies to sell to schools and little girls. I’ll let the chickens and ducks roam free. In the yards near the cottage I will grow fruits and vegetables for me and mine. I will have my own herborium (I may have just made that I word up – I don’t care). In my greenhouse I will grow herbs for spices and medicines, tinctures, balms, oils, and of course, for my all of the right magickal purposes. I will make my own incense and keep a garden of flowers.
As I said, its a simple dream. If I could make a living off of some combination of the herbs I grow, the wool I cut, the honey I harvest, and the cheese I make I will be in heaven. I will neither want or require more.
I know it is probably a hard life but the simplicity it would bring would be beyond any value. I know it may take years, if not decades to find my corner of paradise, but even if I get to spend just one day there before the end of my days I will die happy. That’s my dream :)
“The Gods” are not Gods. OK – I know for some of my Pagan friends out there that might border on sacrilegious, but hear me out. This is my feeble attempt to write down my entire belief system concerning the mightiest of creatures. Those we call “the gods.” No delusions of grandeur here! I think I will either offend the pants off of you, or you will know exactly what I am saying. I touched upon my views in a previous post but did not delve very far. I guess I should start with my definition (insert gratuitous reference to My Celtic Glossary here) of what what most people think of as “Gods” …in the pagan sense:
….. “Spirit / Spirit being: Sentient being possessing powers and abilities far beyond those of normal human beings, usually on a much greater and intense scale. These beings often dwell beyond the plains of existence that are perceptible to normal human senses. Because their knowledge includes how to manipulate both matter and energy, most can exist in spirit form or in corporeal form. There is incalculable diversity among types/species of spirit beings. Toward humans they can be aloof or gregarious, adversarial or benevolent, cold or magnanimous. Many are “enlightened” in the sense that they are wiser than humans, but not all are. Indeed some can posses similar personality failings as humans (e.g: pride, anger, jealousy, greed, etc). Some live within their own distinct cultures and societies with unique hierarchies, rules, and laws of their own. As powerful as they are, they are not divine beings and so are often confused by humans for Gods/Goddesses. (aka: Demigod, Godlike being).”…..
For all of the power that these beings possess, compared to humans, they may as well be gods (and I do use the term interchangeably with Spirit Being), but I make the distinction that these beings are not divine. I think we can all agree that these beings are fallible. Treachery, jealousy, wars, incest, rape, kidnapping, and rivalries abound in almost all of the stories of the world’s great Pagan traditions… and that is just among the gods! We all know how persnickety the gods can be when a particularly bold human dares to face them head on. Conversely, I think that a divine God would be as close to perfect as our narrow definition of the word can be. I also think that a divine God would not waste his/her/its time on beings that are lower than they. Hell they might not even have the time – if such a concept exists in their sphere of awareness. Above all else I think that the Spirit Beings of our mythology are subject to “the Divine Being” or Energy that rules the universe. Indeed, many of the gods that humans have had contact with in our history appear to be as slavishly bound to their circumstances as humans are to their own… (I do not speculate on what kind of relationship “the gods” have with “God.” I do not think we will ever really come to know the true nature of either, so it is generally not something I devote a lot of time to).
In my previous post I mentioned that these “higher beings are the very same kind of creatures (if not the very individuals themselves) that our ancestors might have called Zeus, Athena, Odin, The Mother Goddess, Danu, Cernunnos, Dambahlla, Legba… and any number of other spirits.” Obviously, each god is a unique individual, with a distinct personality, however, I believe that some of these gods have in all likelihood traveled to different places at different times in history. And as a result have been called different things by different people. This makes sense considering that an intelligent being with the means to do so would likely appear in forms that resonate with the people they are interacting with on a spiritual level. That is why Zeus may be Odin; why Athena may be Freya… I am not saying they are. I am just saying that in the great history of all human/Spirit interactions a few must have met with different groups of people …Now having said all of that, I think that this dual-identify concept is probably the exception to the rule.
If I may humbly say, I think this is very important to understand: Like humans, I imagine that gods become fond of certain places and cultures over time. I think that they choose to habituate themselves to these people and places. Much like how we tend to hangout with our friends instead of blazing new trails each and every day on our own. (Of course, there are exceptions to this in both the human and the spirit worlds). This affinity that the gods have for certain people is why it is helpful for a person of Celtic descent to work with Celtic gods… Why a person from the Caribbean might have better luck asking for the help of the Loa… Why Mediterranean folks should study the Greek/Roman pantheon… and on and on. (This is the principal reason why I study the Celtic tradition; my ancestors came from those lands… nothing too mystic about it!). I do not think however, that this means a “Hoodoo god” will ignore a respectful Japanese person, for instance… or that a “Greek god” would turn his shoulder on an earnest Haitian. Especially in times of need! I think that most of these gods would be somewhat delighted to have a chance to interact with “exotic” people that they do not usually commune with. Although I hasten to add that they are probably not likely to answer every single call from every single random person who capriciously attempts to dial into their cosmic line. Again, the gods probably have an affinity for certain cultures.
Incidentally, I believe that this is why us modern humans generally have trouble feeling the presence of the gods (and magick for that matter). As “the church” grew we turned our backs on Nature and Spirits. It is only natural that they turned theirs as well.
But some of us know! :)
Lastly… there are many different types and species of Spirit beings. Some are good. Some are dark. Many are beautiful, but some are hideous. Most are aloof. Some are “enlightened beings”. Some are elemental powers that are barely sentient and cannot communicate. Some have powers that we will never begin to fathom. Others are as dainty as they are beautiful. They can be composed of pure energy, or take some kind of bodily form. They may choose to anchor themselves to some sort of vessel like a tree or a monolith. They can be Faeries, Dryads, Nymphs, Muses, Fates, Buddhas, god kings and queens, warrior gods, psychopomps, familiars, Dragons, Gnomes, Angels, Shadow People, demons, Djin/Genies, Satyrs, Brownies, Yetis, Trolls, Succubi, Harpees, Will o’ the wisps, Leviathans, Sphinxes, Griffins, animal spirits…. and thousands – if not millions that we have yet to encounter … Or cannot even see! … As many as the stars in the heavens.
Exciting isn’t it?
I debated writing about this “event” at all. But I feel it is my duty – to myself. This blog is my spiritual journey into the ways of my Celtic ancestors after all. For better or worse!
Even as it was happening I was not sure what exactly it was. I do not know if it means anything other than a reflection of own desires or perhaps, even an overactive imagination…
Last weekend when I was in the forest I heard hooves. Heavy hooves walking slowly, deliberately. The kind of walking that only a very large creature could make. The kind that sounds like a tree stump pounding the Earth. I do not know where the sounds were coming from. I could not nail down the direction. When I faced one way it sounded like it was coming from behind. When I turned around the sound seemed to switch directions as I did (I was in a relatively narrow valley at the time, so this in itself may not be significant). Altogether the “sounds” only lasted a few moments. nothing really remarkable in and of itself. What makes me wonder so much about them however, was that at the time I was attempting, in my own awkward and amateur way, to invoke the spirit of Cernnunos, the horned god of the forest. My first such ritual.
I “created” a circle by walking around my campfire three times while placing four objects of special significance at the cardinal directions: incense (John the Conqueror); Hawthorn & Mistletoe (for the Good Folk of the forest); an Oak walking staff I cut earlier; and my simple Brigid’s Cross (for my ancestors). I then called the god’s name three times, struck the ground with a makeshift “wand” (the topmost sprig of a downed Ponderosa Pine), and called the god’s name three more times. I then asked for the god’s assistance in pointing me toward the doors I would need to open in my efforts to grow closer to my ancestors… for any power he could lend me to lead the best life that I could, each day of my life (something I know I have always lacked)… and to help me to feel the same spiritual power that I felt in the wilderness at home, in the city. I dared not ask for more!
At first I did not see anything. I did not hear anything. I did not “feel” anything specific… other than a strong sense of well being. I felt like I had down the right thing. I felt good. Perhaps this is the very essences of magick. Perhaps this is the extent of the gods’ interations for some of us… I hope not! I would love to grow closer to the spirits I know are there -but I will always accept what I get. These thoughts are similar to what I was thinking at the time. And that is when I heard the dull, hoof-like beats. In the middle distance. Faint but solid. Thoomp. Thoomp. Thoomp…
I will probably never know what it was. It could have been one of the Elk that inhabit the mountains. It could have been a hiker with a walking stick. It could have been Cernnunos. It was probably an overactive, overeager imagination…
- To become closer to Nature on a level that far exceeds the normal and mundane. I hope to do this by communing with the same Spirits that my Celtic ancestors communicated with… many people call this Shamanism.
- I want to learn to use the Earth’s natural energy as a tool for spiritual growth… many people call this Magick or Witchcraft.
- I want to become expertly versed in the use of naturally occurring plants and herbs to improve people lives, prevent disease, treat sickness, and aid in my first two goals… many people call this Herb Doctoring or Rootwork.
Ultimately, it does not truly matter what other people call these things (and frankly, I do not care). For lack of a better term, herein I will adopt the term of Hedgewitch.
And that is my goal.
This weekend I traveled to the mountains of Central Arizona. The area is known as the Mogollon Rim. The Rim is the southern end of the plateau that makes up the northern half of Arizona. Here the land dramatically drops down into hundreds of valleys which dominate the western part of the state, before easing into the flat, arid desert regions that include Phoenix and Tucson. Few people outside of Arizona realize how lush and green its mountains are. (Please do click the photos as the inserts to not do them justice!)
On the first day’s hike I asked one of the taller Oaks to point me to a place of power…. ….and he obliged, pointing me toward this grove of bracken. Though I walked for miles and miles, this was the only one I found in the area….
….and at the end of these ferns was a silent grove of Oak trees. They nearly form a perfect circle. Most of the Oaks I met felt masculine to me, but this grove was dominated by a distinctly feminine presence. She is the largest Oak (third tree from left).
I also found a perfect bough to carve into a hiking staff… And I will probably use him in a ritual or two! It is Oak of course. I love the bend in the middle giving him a certain character. Do not worry; I took great care to find a suitable tree and said many prayers and thanks to her.
On Friday I will be trucking off to the mountains of Central Arizona for a weekend of camping. I will be taking along my newly purchased copy of Celtic Myth & Magick, by Edain McCoy.*
I should mention that I am still very much new to all of “this.”
This will be the first serious work on Celtic paganism that I read. While I am not expecting to learn everything I will ever need to know, I look forward to the revelations I know will come… (And I mean I really look forward to it. It is taking a bit of discipline not to crack open the book tonight. But, I want to save it for when I am in the woods! )
Which reminds me…
This will also be my first trip into the wilderness since I have come to really embrace my Celtic roots. I have always felt most comfortable in lonely wild places, far away from the trappings of the “modern” world… and that was before I realized I am a Pagan! I know that the peace and solitude of the mountains, the animals, and forests of pine, cottonwood, and aspen trees will open my soul to what has been waiting for me, for all of my life.
….I feel like I am truly starting My Path this weekend !
*review to come.