Yay! Hopefully I can stay on track and complete more than two courses a year
You can read it here.
It’s that time again where I agonise about what to wear to ritual and in my every day life. It’s bothering me this time for a few reasons, though different than before. Please note that I am, of course, only talking about myself and my personal experiences and thoughts. I wouldn’t expect that anyone take my comments to be about what they should or should not do.
First, the lovely PeaceBang and her blog Beauty Tips for Ministers. She gives fashion and beauty advice to women in ministry to help with confidence and portray themselves with how they want to be seen. She’s a UU minister with a wide range of experience. Seriously, check it out.
Whereas I’m not clergy yet, I’m still the Senior Druid of our Grove here, and I want to ensure that I look the part. Some people might find that vain, but I want to be a better me — a better ritual and group leader, with confidence, so that we can grow our little Grove and do amazing things, and using these tools of presentation and dress are no different than using any other tool. What’s that saying — dress who you want to be five years from now?
Though we say that dress in paganism is whatever we want it to be, I don’t believe that is the case. If I remember correctly, when Tear of the Cloud Grove held their Memorial Day rite at the Wellspring Gathering in 2009, they wore suits and ties, which some people felt offputting and unnecessary. They did it to show respect to those they were honouring, but it is, admittedly, not the norm in a pagan rite. Does that matter?
I myself have had comments concerning my dress on numerous occasions, most recently when attending a rite straight from work (business casual – I’m a “sexy librarian”). Others have criticised the material my clothes are made of (cotton??).
In my previous post on dress, I mentioned that I am not directly plain, but plain-inspired. I do not wear clothing with brand names or products, and would consider it rude to wear something like that to ritual. As the ritual leader, or even as someone with a speaking role in ritual that will have the attention of the gods and folk, how could it ever be acceptable to be a walking billboard?
A clergy friend of mine asked me the other day if I had considered wearing a torc, since he feels I am living up to what it stands for. First, that’s a really big compliment, and I was a little flattered. That isn’t really anything I had considered — after all, what gives me the right to decide that I deserve it, to wear a symbol of nobility and leadership? I always considered it to be something like the stole the ADF Priests wear, something that had to be bestowed upon you when others feel that you deserve it.
I’ve really shied away from making a robe. That isn’t really the style of what people wear in our Grove, so it would stand out immensely, and quite honestly (to be vain) a lot of robes look like giant bags. I’m working (and improving!) on liking how I look, so I wouldn’t want to hide it all in a robe-bag, even though nobody would then call me a sexy whatever.
What do you wear to ritual?
(And just to let you know, I wrote this post in workout pants and a ratty sweater.)
On the sixth night, Lugaid and I renewed our home shrine. Using the general format for a hallowing rite by Ian Corrigan, we cleaned and reorganised the shrine, and then realigned it with the Sacred Centre.
This was relatively important for me to do, seeing as I feel significantly different about my faith than I did a month ago.
We chose the term renewal, rather than a hallowing, because our shrine and these tools have been in use for a number of years already. Rather, we wanted to underline their connections with the primordial sacred centre, and emphasise to ourselves what magic can be done in this place.
When hallowing one’s shrine, in the original text in Ian’s book, charms are spoken over the vessels that hold the fire and water, and the tree to align them with their purpose and bring them into the service of the druid at the Grove. We replaced the provided charms with simply the text from our Grove’s liturgy that we use when recreating the cosmos — because there could be no more powerful text could there be for us, than the text repeated at each High Day and Druid Moon rite that has been in use for years among our tribe.
On the left is the top of a staff dedicated to Manannán, the trunk of a cedar tree. The corn dolly is An Cailleach, in Lugaid’s care for the winter (he drew the burnt bannock at Samhain). He crafted the doll, and I think it is pretty neat. The rest of the altar is pretty self-explanatory — Sacred Centre, and offering bowl and plate. Please forgive the thermostat and light switch.
Last night I also had the joy of teaching a liturgy class to my Grove, and it truly was a joy because I haven’t had such passion for the subject in a long while. I hope that those who attended enjoyed it and are able to use what they learned in their own work and for the Grove.
We’re working on the first rumblings of a liturgy revision in the Grove and I’m excited about this too. There won’t be anything too drastic, mostly just clarifying language and relationships so that our worship is more focused.
I do have some actual interesting things coming up, I promise! I have a lot of ideas and poorly conceived outlines to do and to try out, but I’m taking it slow so that I can ease into a deeper devotional practice. I feel so blessed that, each day when I do my devotionals, all of the omens are so uplifting and supportive, and I am forever grateful to Brighid for rekindling my divine fire.
I have been frozen in ice for the last few months. I allowed whispers of what people were saying about me to reach my ears and penetrate my soul. I ceased to live, believing that to avoid criticism, I would simply do nothing.
I avoided my ADF clergy preliminary work. I stopped doing my devotions. I allowed a single statement I heard secondhand to change me, and to take away whatever I had achieved. I continued only with work and the gym (the latter only to keep up with Lugaid in Fitocracy points) but I felt shame instead of pride each time I achieved a new PR. I used extra hours at work as an excuse to continue doing nothing, and spent my days off mindlessly looking at the internet because I was too frightened to blog, or write new prayers and liturgy, or sing, or do anything that would have me labelled badly again.
And so I withered. I argued about the existence of the gods, mostly to mask that I was afraid that I was not good enough for them. I had glimpses of what could be, again, at our Grove’s Druid Moon Rites, and I cried so much because I didn’t know how to embrace it, for I was too afraid. Many of my evenings were spent watching movies, but I doubt I could tell you the content of most of them.
A friend said to me that living in a good relationship with the Gods was like eating Primally — you can live without it, but you’ll thrive with it. And I realised that I was very, very tired of all of this.
My last flametending shift was Imbolc Eve, so some Grove Members came over for a Brighid devotional night, where we read from her Lives and shared other Brigidine things. It was absolutely wonderful for a number of reasons. But I had expected that the joy that I felt would be transitory, something that was just a flicker, like at the aforementioned Druid Moon rites, but no, it had stayed in my heart, and I had to find a way to keep it.
I read Oak Leaves the next day, and there was an article about the history of the Sacred Fire and our relation to it – how fire was acquired by our Ancestors, and the nature of the Fire Goddess herself, and her blessings on the hearth. And this was it, as simple and straightforward as it needed to be. How are the fires in our hearts kindled? Either as a need-fire (through hard work by the hands) or by divine inspiration (lightning, etc.). How do we maintain those fires? By the care and feeding of the flame itself, for once we stop that the flame will go out, and we can no longer reach the gods from our hearts. To rekindle that flame is always difficult.
So then I was faced with a challenge, to keep my heart-fire lit and nurtured, in the face of all of the negative thoughts I had collected over the last few months. I started my devotions again. I sang. I felt joy in more than a fleeting form. And I wanted to share this divine experience because it made me so happy.
I know that whatever I do, someone will always have something to say. Why would it be different now? What I pray for, however, is that I can focus on my hearthfire and my heart-fire, and keep them burning brightly so that I can never find myself in darkness again.
I finished this course on September 25th.
I won’t be posting the contents of this course because it is pure research and citations from Canadian and Ontarian laws, and I’m the first Canadian to complete it. I cannot post this content because it would be, in essence, posting every answer for any other person to copy. Sorry.
I’m a terrible housewife.
I’m such a terrible housewife that I don’t even want to write this post, telling you all how I’m a terrible housewife. The reason I am such a terrible housewife is I am terrible at consistency. Maintaining a meditation practice? Going to the gym? Blogging on a regular basis? Near impossible. And that can spill over into my necessary hausfrau duties.
I’m inconsistent when it comes to things for myself. For others, I can get things done. I’m well ahead of everything I need to do at work, for example, but I find it hard to prioritize my own things. Sure, I feel better if I go to the gym, eat primal foods, do morning devotions, and keep my house clean, but it’s extremely difficult to convince myself that it is worth doing those things. Isn’t it easier to spend hours in bed with the cat, browsing the internet?
Yes, of course it is, but the shift in consciousness towards doing what is best for me comes with additional baggage about egotism and selfishness. The reality of the situation is, what is more selfish is not looking after oneself, and instead being a slave to sloth and apathy. In that state, one is unable to live a life of service.
As someone with depression and anxiety issues, living correctly is the best way for me to manage my life. Living correctly is difficult, because it often requires a head-on confrontation with feelings that insist that I return to the internet and funny cat pictures, rather than putting on workout clothes and going to the gym. Even now, I delay this, simply by writing this post!
I do not want to find myself in the place I was before I awoke to what could be. I repeat myself, over and over again, in an attempt to convince myself that I, Cáer, am right – not that anxiety or depression are right.
Taking care of my home is an act of hospitality. Without a clean, welcoming home, I cannot be of service to the community and the tribe, because there is nowhere to welcome them in. Taking care of my home is a devotion to Brighid, the goddess of the hearthfire. How can I reframe my idea of what I should be in the home to incorporate the idea of devotion and service, so that I will be more likely and motivated to do what is necessary?
I’m insanely jealous of all of these self-sufficient faith-filled housewives who (appear to) have immaculate homes, blog on a regular basis, garden, can, raise four kids, teach, learn, inspire. I started this blog to be like them and say, pagans can do all this too! and I haven’t achieved that yet.
But now I’m whining, and whining isn’t part of living correctly. Whining isn’t part of devotion to Brighid and the rest of our gods. Guess it’s time to go back to the kitchen, and try to be slightly less terrible at this whole housewife thing.