In the Spirit of Samhain

•September 27, 2009 • 2 Comments

A friend and I were disscusing the lack of inspiring poetry on some of the pagan blogs that seem to wash up on the internet from time to time. Now I’m no poetry expert, and some poems are great. But with some, you don’t need an english degree to know they stink. I guess some folks forgot that they stopped giving A’s for effort back in middle school. So rather than being just a critic, I present you with this seasonal poem. I hope you enjoy it.

The Spirit of Samhain

Summers warmth,
 And light does fade;
Colours change,
  Within forest glade.

Gusting wind,
  And fallen leaf;
Ripened fruit,
 And gathered sheaf.

Cosmic wheel,
 Ever turning; 
Samhain fire,
 Brightly burning.

Sacrifice made,
 To Great Ones old;
Honour the Mighty,
 Of stories told.

Spirits dance,
 Upon the smoke;
Ancient words,
 Again are spoke.

Omens cast,
 To gain the sight;
Whispered charms,
 T’wards starry night.

By sacred tree,
 And standing stone;
Through the veil,
 To us is shown.

Of heroes and lovers,
 Bards do sing;
Warmth to hearts,
 The tales bring.

Toast with wine,
  And bless the beast;
All are kin,
 Who share our feast.

-Solaren

An update

•September 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I know, I know I’ve neglected my blogging duties. I’ve had some chaos going on in my life lately.  Since everything seemed to be changing around me, I decided it was time to embarce it and make it for the best. Sooo, I’m happy to say that I’ve gone back to university. I figured it was about time I finished my BSc. in Psyc. I’ve talked about going back and possibly becoming a Naturopath. No time like the present. It’s a bit of a shock to be back after so long. Especially since I am still working full time and doing part time classes. Busy busy. And to top that all off I still have my commitments to the new grove and completing my dedicant program. It will take some adjusting to my new routine in order to find time for other interests. I’ll blog when I can. Wish me luck.

Announcing Hartwood Protogrove, ADF

•July 28, 2009 • 3 Comments

I am pleased to announce that Hartwood Protogrove, ADF, is now officially recognized by the Ár nDraíocht Féin – A Druid Fellowship.

It has been a dream of mine to have a Grove in my home town for quite some time. I have been a member of the Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Henge of Keltria since 2003. With the local Druids’ Hearth group I have been organizing events and rituals off and on since 2004. The rituals were a mix of ADF and HoK elements with a few extras added here and there. There are very few Druids presently in the area. I’m hoping by taking the next step and with the help of the ADF we can help create more interest.

Sometimes I’m inspired, and sometimes I’m intimidated by the scope of the responsibility and the work reqired to help a healthy Grove grow. I do have a few good friends that may not call themselves Druids but none the less have been, and I hope will continue to be of great help.

Im sure I will be blogging about its progress from time to time. If you like, feel free to join our message board at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Hartwood-ADF

 
Solaren of the Hartwood
Grove Organizer
Hartwood Protogrove, ADF

Hartwood

Becoming the Greenman

•July 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I made a Greenman/Oak King mask for Beltaine this year. I wanted to go into the process a bit more. The mask turned out way nicer than I had dared to hope. Creating the mask was nothing short of a spiritual experience. Putting on the mask once it was completed was powerful and inspiring. I want to continue to attune with the Oak and Holly King archetypes. My next project is a Holly King mask.

When I started this project I felt rushed for time and I was on a tight budget. I’m going to make my Holly King mask the same way, just so that they are more of a pair. In future thought I will try a different technique, and hopefully produce more of a finished product. I really have no complaints on this process. Here is what I did.

  • I started off by making a mould of my face into a large sheet of aluminium foil which I folded in half to make it stronger.
  • I stuffed the hollow of the mould with wadded up paper and plastic bags from the recycling and placed it on a bed of newspaper on the table.
  • I made some simple paper mache paste with flour and water.
  • I cut green construction paper into strips, dipped them into the paste, than laid them across the face mould.
  • I tried to form them as best as I could to the flimsy aluminium foil. Once I was done I put the foil with the paper back on my face and pressed it back into my face to correct the shape. You may need to repeat the process of wetting and reforming the mask until you’re happy with the shape.
  • Once I was happy with the shape and the form was strong enough I waited till it was dry.
  • While I waited for the mask to dry I drew out 4 shapes of Oak leaves and then created stencils for them out of the side of a plastic milk jug.
  • I traced and cut out what seemed like hundreds of leaves out of green construction paper.
  • In order to give the mask some texture I decided I needed some leaves that were stronger than one layer of paper. I used some of the paste to glue two pieces of construction paper together. The leaves made with the double layer were nice and strong but still flexible.
  • When I was done cutting leaves and the mask was dry I cut out the eyes and the area under the nose. I left the area around the chin because I had not decided how the leaves were going to be laid around the face.
  • I painted the base mask a hunter green. I wasn’t really happy with the colour to start with. It had a plastic look that just didn’t seem to fit with the image of an organic Greenman.
  • I tried a few leaf layouts. Than finally decided that I would glue leaves that were most important first. I tried to arrange the leaves so that they would look like they were coming from the eyes, nose and mouth.
  • I filled in extra leaves overlapping them with each other and added an extra piece onto the nose that worked out well later.
  • After laying out the base of leaves I trimmed the unwanted parts of the edges of the mask.
  • I used some of the double layer leaves for the eyebrows and cheeks. They worked well and held their shape in order to give the mask some texture.
  • I played around with more leaf placements. I wanted to have a solid idea of what I wanted before I went any further.
  • I painted the partially finished mask, and painted some leaves separately. What I did with the paint this time was that I made very light coats alternating between hunter green and gold. I got a nice shading that had shadowed texture and shimmered in the sun.
  • Something was missing so I tried painting gold veins on the leaves. The painting looked terrible. I just couldn’t get a sharp enough line. Than I remembered that I had some metallic gold pens. I drew veins on the mask and the unattached leaves and it turned out great.
  • I glued the final leaves into place and folded them a bit up the center and on the edged to give it a more natural look.
  • I sanded the inside of the mask a bit to get rid of the excess dried mache paste.
  • For the strap to hold it on I made some taps with construction paper and folded them onto the ends of some sewing elastic. I used a glue gun to attach them to the inside of the mask.
  • The dark green underlayer worked out well in the end. It added to the overall texture.
  • I love the finished product. The only thing I wish I had done was to line the inside of the mask with something to make it more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Happy crafting and remember to invoke the Greenman.

 

Crafting a Hobby Horse

•July 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I thought Id share about more about the hobby horse I made for Beltaine. It actually turned out to be a bit easier than I had at first thought. I have pictures for most of the steps. It is pretty straight forward.

  • Creating the drawing was the hardest part for me. It took me a while before I was happy with it.
  • I used a photocopier to enlarge the image to the right size.
  • I cut around the outside of the large image and used it to create all the cardboard cut outs I needed for the head.
  • I needed 3 cut outs to match the thickness of the dowel I used, and than I cut a notch in the cut outs for the dowel.
  • I used 2 more cut outs for the outer sides of the head to increase the overall thickness and to hide the dowel notches.
  • I clued the 3 notched pieces together, glued one facing piece on, set the dowel with glue, and glued the final facing piece and let them dry.
  • Once it was dry I shaved off the unmatched parts and sanded it with a Dremel sander.
  • I covered the whole head with a light weight and waterproof plaster. Once dry I sanded the plaster smooth with my Dremel. The plaster will help fill in the holes in the edges of the cardboard and gives you a much nicer painting surface.
  • I cut my image again separating it into two stencils. Using these I could flip them over to get both sides of the head identical. The black outline was the most useful, however the white one allowed me to get the placement of the eye and nostril.
  • I did a few coats of white paint over the whole head and dowel. Than using pencil I lightly traced my stencil.
  • I painted the black following my pencil lines, filled in the red eye, and finished the project with a light coat of varnish spray.
  • Name your horse, than ride him/her to victory.

I had a request from a friend to make her a purple unicorn. That should be an interesting project. I also want to make a Norse style dragon or sea monster like Ogopogo or Nessie.

Have fun and good luck.

A Pilgrimage Complete, Solstice and the Druid Gathering.

•July 3, 2009 • 2 Comments

It has been a goal for me for quite some time to travel to all of the ADF Groves in the Western Canadian region in which I live. I’ve wanted to do this in order to feel a sense of community and kinship with some fellow Druids. At times it feels as if I’m the only Druid in the Okanagan. I wanted to see how other Druids who follow a similar tradition practice and celebrate, and of course, engage in some stimulating conversation.

My girlfriend and I had previously visited Oakstone Protogrove in Vancouver BC for Ostara. My Pilgrimage was completed this Summer Solstice when we traveled to Alberta and met with the great folks from the Beaver Hills Protogrove, and the Protogrove of the Ancient Ways. These two Groves, Awen Grove and a few other folks hosted this years The Spirit of the West – Druid Gathering.

It was quite the adventure there and back, driving all the way from Kelowna BC to Pigeon Lake AB. Many hours of music, podcasts, good conversation, and far too frequent fast food. It took us two days to get there, and we camped along the way in a road side camp site. Between the noise and the lumpy ground, it didn’t offer much in the way of rest.

We arrived Friday, on time, and even a bit early. We set up our tent and had a bit of time to look around and relax before most folks started showing up. The campground was nice, for Alberta. Nothing in Alberta east of the Rockies can compare with Beautiful British Columbia. Yes, I am biased, but you know it’s true. During supper in the evening Dr. Brendan Myers, the guest speaker for the event, decided we looked like interesting people to sit with. We were both quite flattered, and quickly engaged him in conversation. The evening ended with most of us gathered around the fire sharing in kinship.

Saturday our first workshop was with Dr. Myers about Ethics. This workshop was based on his book called The Other Side of Virtue. He draws on classic texts from pagan societies of the past in order to see how they found meaning and purpose in life, and what qualities a person should embody in order to live the good and heroic life. He brings these pagan virtues to our attention and encourages a fresh outlook for modern folks wishing to live a more meaningful life that is more in tune with the values of our pagan ancestors. Most of the workshop was repeat information, as I had heard him speak on this topic in numerous podcasts, and I had had time to peruse his book before leaving BC. We did manage to get him sidetracked a few times, which resulted in some amusing tidbits.

I don’t remember where this fits into the weekend, but since it falls under amusing tidbits, Ill put it here. I asked Brendan about his thoughts on creating a form of Canadian Druidry and its future; instead of falling into the rut of being too focused on the European landscape, embracing our Land and our Time. There was much discussion, and many other Druids also seemed to feel the same need to grow in this direction. I remember a discussion arising about the Ogham trees that don’t grow in Canada. We voiced ideas of reworking the Ogham for ones on local in which they live. There was a fair bit of discussion on the Maple tree. Brendan suggested that the Sugar Maple be the Canadian Druids’ World Tree. As much as this seemed to be a popular idea, there was talk about the need to understand the symbolism of the Maple and the World Tree, and the need to work with the tree to see if it is even suitable. The Sugar Maple is on our Flag, true, but it does not grow across Canada. Although I do think there is some form of maple that grows in most parts of our country. I want to do more thinking and more work in this direction. I believe we need to localize our Duidry. I also believe we should not rush into anything, just for its own sake. You can read Mr. Myers’ contribution to this discussion here.

After lunch, Awen Grove leader, Athelia Nihtscada offered a workshop on the links that bring Druidry from the past and connects it to the Druids of today. Many points were raised both in the presentation and through the discussion of the participants as to how Druidry today is a valid path, and how it does have roots liking it back to the Druidry of the ancient Celts. I wont go into too much details on these here, for one because this post is going to be long enough, and two, because I plan on writing a post that incorporates these ideas into it in a later post.

Next we had everyone’s favourite workshop, Mead Making with Aracos. A Master Mazer, Aracos went through a lot of the basic info for beginners who had an interest of the history and making of mead. I could tell that some were bored and could not wait for the tasting portion of the workshop. The tasting was great! A few others had brought mead they had made themselves, and we made short work of the sacred brew. Delicious! I am inspired to make some of my own. Aracos and his wife were kind enough to offer handouts sent via email. I shall make good use of them. Thank you!

The ritual was lead by three Druidesses from the Protogrove of the Ancient Ways. I always thought that Druid liturgy was best when lead by a group of three. These awesome ladies did not disappoint. I was most impressed with their poise and oratory. The liturgy seemed like fairly standard ADF style. I had never been to an ADF rite quite like this. I defiantly came away with a few things I would like to try next time I host a public ritual. I did also find that some of the things we have been doing with the Druids’ Hearth rituals speak to me much more than the standard ADF formula. Another change that I enjoyed was the drumming and the dancing. Because I am not as much a Bard as I would like to be, and am not confidant in my dancing abilities, I know my Druids’ Hearth rituals need more merriment. Mostly it was the ladies dancing, and then I saw only one guy dancing with his lady. I decided I wouldn’t let him be the only guy with enough courage to be seen dancing. So I joined in. I enjoyed myself. Who wouldn’t? I offered some Scotch Whiskey to the Kindreds, and a fine cigar to Manannan Mac Lyr.

Supper time. The food was quite good. The chef was a champion among women. She worked her @$$ off all weekend, seemingly from sunup to sundown. Well done, thank you. Oh what luck, Brendan sat with us again, and he sat with us at every meal. We felt a bit guilty for hogging the guest speaker, but many joined us for some good conversation. He’s got to sit somewhere, may as well be with us. I never ran out of questions, and Brendan seemed to take quite the shine to Juniper. Big surprise. She seems to have a way of seducing Druids. Must be that wicked Hedgewitch magic. Rev. Kirk Thomas was enchanted too when we visited Oakstone one time; although Rev. Kirk was much more the gentleman. Brendan never seemed tired of talking. I don’t think he ever go the chance to finish one of his meals. Oops, sorry Brendan.

After supper most of us were around the fire again for some bardic fun. We went around the circle with almost everyone sharing songs, stories, or poems, sometimes even some adult jokes after the kids had gone off to bed. Brendan, Juni and I dipped into the left over Scotch, sharing a cup while sitting by the fire. It seemed as if the three of us had become friends. I would have been willing to share some Scotch with more folks, but I was unsure if everyone would look so kindly on our drinking. There should be nothing wrong with socially responsible drinking at a Pagan event. We had much mead after all. So to anyone who’s reading this, and is feeling left out, sorry.

Sunday morning came far too soon. Over already? Dam. Our last workshop was on Druidic Living Every Day with Judy. The attendance for this workshop was lacking. Most folks were off in various groups visiting. I can’t blame them really. I stayed at the workshop out of respect and in hopes to learn something I’m sure I did, but I’ve forgotten it now. I know there were some good insights shared about what people do in their personal practice to make the everyday more sacred. It will come back to me when the time is right.

We packed up, said our good byes, and swapped contacts with a few new made friends. Brendan invited Juni and I to meet him and Chris (the Senior Druid for Beaver Hills Protogrove) at a pub in Calgary called the Druid. We graciously accepted. Juni and I wandered Calgary for a few hours until the arranged time. One of Brendan’s friends who had not been at the gathering met us there. The five of us stayed eating and drinking for far too long. In retrospect we should have declined the invitation. We had a long drive ahead of us and we were both very tired from the busy weekend, and the not so good sleep we got sleeping in the tent. I had forgotten that it doesn’t get dark in Alberta the same way it does in BC. We got a very late start on our way home. We drove until we could barely keep our eyes open, than found the nearest hotel. The next morning we felt much better, having had our first full shower and our first nights sleep in real bed in what seemed like ages.

Driving through the Rockies was so beautiful. I regretted that we didn’t have more time to stop, hike, and camp and just enjoy the wild wonder of the place. I want to take a camping trip specifically to the Rockies in the near future.

Making the Pilgrimage was well worth the time, money and energy. I’m happy to have had the best traveling partner one could hope for on these adventures. I enjoyed almost every minute, but being back home in BC felt good too. I love BC. I love my home. I love Juni too.

Outgrowing Paganism?

•June 22, 2009 • 3 Comments

When I read articles like this one on The Wild Hunt, about people like Deo from Deo’s Shadow  leaving Paganism for Atheism and like Carl McColman converting from Paganism to Catholicism. It makes me wonder how Pagan were they in the first place. I could discuss this topic to death, but this time simplicity says it best…

“He who wanders in the woods perceives how natural it was to pagan imagination to find gods in every deep groves & by each fountain head. Nature seems to him not to be silent but to be eager & striving to break out into music. Each tree, flower, and stone, he invests with life & character; and it is impossible that the wind which breathes so expressive a sound amid the leaves – should mean nothing.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1822