14 – Relationships: Rites of Passage

After a long break, let’s return to 30 Days of Druidry. These next topics can be taken in multiple ways — as a listing of resources, or of workings of a group. But I’m just going to write whatever comes to mind, sharing a small part of me in these posts.

Rites of passage are important because they help us through transitions or challenging parts of our lives. Our Druidry is still young, but as we grow, more rites of passage are taking place.

In Ontario, though I am an ADF Priest, I am not legally able to be a wedding officiant. ADF does not have any legal standing in Canada, though there are other ADF folk who are licensed by other organizations like All Seasons Weddings in order to perform this service, and many other pagans who have done the same.

I’ve blessed babies (as that doesn’t require any provincial recognition), formally welcoming them into their communities with the powers of fire and water. When my own baby arrives, I presume that their initial blessings will be multiple and low-key, as their arrival will be an intimate experience. When it is time for them to be welcomed into community, that is a discussion to have with my Grove.

As a Grove, we have not performed any comings of age; there are not many children in our Grove, and all of the children also have parents who are not pagan. I believe these rites are important, as they bestow upon the child new responsibilities, though it is up to the families to decide what is best for them.

And isn’t that how it always is in paganism? Even though we have our Groves and circles, and group customs that develop therein, the smallest centres are the hearth and the individual, and those are the fires that most often direct our ways.

[ 30 Days of Druidry ]

2018 Reading Challenges

It’s time to sign up for 2018 Reading Challenges! Last year I didn’t meet my goal for any of my reading challenges, but that’s only part of the fun of doing them. The other part, of course, is reading. 🙂

This year, I’ll be participating in a few, hoping to complete them, but enjoying them even if I don’t.

2018 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

The Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge is new to me this year, though it’s similar to the now-disappeared Witchy Fiction and Well-Read Pagan challenges from last year. This challenge states:

Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or includes major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion.

I’d read a non-fiction reference book cover-to-cover, but that’s just me 🙂 For this challenge I’m going to aim low, so I’m signing up for the Initiate level and hoping to read 5 books for this challenge.

My coworkers and I always attempt Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge, so I’ll publicly declare myself participating in this also. It’s a good way to expand and diversify your reading selection.

Finally, I’ve opted for 50 books in 2018 in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. There’s no criteria for this, so all of the above count, as well as anything else I’d like to read.

What are you planning to read in 2018?

Our Lunar Calendar

Offerings at the Cold Moon.

Many Pagans are excited for Blue Moons in both January and March of this year, and no Full Moon in February. It’s a rare occurrence, but not one that has any bearing on the lunar calendar that we use at our hearth.

I’ve briefly outlined how our calendar works elsewhere, but haven’t really gone into any details. Really, it’s no more than personal preference and a choice to follow the seasons rather than the Gregorian calendar – not that there’s anything wrong with that way, and certainly what most Pagans do.

Our lunar calendar is reckoned by the first full moon after the Winter Solstice. If this full moon falls within the Solstice Tide, there will be a blue moon in the year. Blue moons are the third full moon in a season, as determined by the solstices and equinoxes.

What this means is that our moon names don’t always line up with what the rest of the pagan world is doing. I’ve wondered if this is a flaw, because it means missing out on collective energy that could be shared with others also worshipping at the same time. For example, most people called this past January 1 full moon the “Wolf Moon”, though we won’t be using that name until the January 31 full moon – the January 1 moon is the “Cold Moon”, which most people used for the December moon. What these names and associations mean in common practice and in our own practice may differ.

Nevertheless, I think there’s some value in keeping this kind of calendar, especially because I think there is value in seeing how solar and lunar cycles intersect and change over years. The second full moon in a season is the occasion to mark the High Day with a smaller hearth celebration (as solar High Day reckoning will most often be done in community). Influences for this calendar are the Coligny and pre-Christian Germanic calendars, and it follows the Metonic cycle and can be kept with a primstav.

Why am I doing this weird moon method anyway? In short, because I was asked to do so. A question asked of me in trance led me on a multi-year exploration of calendars, timekeeping, and structured prayer, and it’s time to be serious about it. I can only know what benefit this will bring after a concerted effort to follow what’s been given to me.

Happy New Year!

Okay, so the end of Solstice Tide didn’t go as planned. Extreme cold weather, an “urgent” ultrasound (I’m fine, baby’s fine), a problem with the house, and not getting very much sleep each night made for a less-than-perfect end to Solstice Tide. But, there’s nothing to really fret about as we still sang to trees and drank cider, we still discussed our plans for this year based on our omen, and we celebrated with friends both on the night of the Boar Feast and Twelfth Night. It just wasn’t as formal as we’d planned, and that’s okay. We’re coming into 2018 in a good place.

That being said, it’s the last day of Carbmas (the secular version of Solstice Tide), and then back to our green beans and regular lives… although I’m not sure yet what that’s going to look like for me. I’ve never really been one for resolutions — we take a year-omen instead and work towards that together — but 2018 will be filled with so many unknowns that all I can really do is enter the new year with grace.

I only have four days left of work before I’m on vacation and then maternity leave for a year. I’m the kind of person who finds my own worth in what I am doing and achieving, and without my mundane work (which I do love), and without my Grove and other community work (having stepped down from every position excepting ADF Priest), I’m not sure where I’ll find myself. I’m having a hard time with that even now. Please, don’t tell me that now I can focus on being a mother, because I fear that women often lose their identities in parenthood. What I’m hoping is that I’ll re-ground myself within my hearth religion, and be able to share some of that energy with others. So, maybe I’ll write more, but I make no promises. 🙂


Solstice Tide, Day Eight

We’re both working today – and on opposite shifts – so we’re unable to do my activity of choice for this day, which is visit the birdfeeder trail at a local conservation area. I’ll have to be satisfied by watching the park squirrels through the window at work.

Honouring the nature spirits is more than an appreciation of little squirrel feet and birdsong. I believe that it is part of my responsibility to walk gently upon the Earth and live in a sustainable way, as much as I am able.

In a recent article, Rev. Melissa Hill asks us to honour the Nature Spirits by being a Hobbit. Advocating sustainability, developing skills, and buying local, Rev. Hill is an inspiration for what I’d like to do in my life. She also provides an annotated list of resources for learning some of these skills yourself.

Solstice Tide, Day Six

Christmas morning is a quiet time for the cat and I, as my husband is on night shift. I don’t particularly feel the magic of this morning this year; we’ve chosen not to exchange presents and opt instead for seeing some Jays games next summer, though there are a few small things tucked away in stockings.

Instead, I’m thinking about the virtues, most especially of hospitality, and how best to embody it within the next year. Of course, the exchanging of gifts is one aspect, but there is much more about hospitality that is shown in our actions than solely in material items.

John Beckett’s article “Hospitality in Practice” has some excellent ideas for sharing hospitality at your public rituals. I like to think our Grove does well, but there is always room for improvement.

On a more personal note, I am reflecting on my personal embodiment of the virtues in my life. Since I have stepped down from all positions of responsibility in my Grove, ADF, and our local community (with the exception of the ADF Priesthood), I am taking the time to ensure that my life and work is of service to the Gods, Folk, and Land, and in line with my personal ethics code — which includes living with integrity, and always improving my service. May I be even better in the new year.

Elsewhere, Rev. Melissa Ashton writes about celebrating Christmas as a time of hope and the Three Cranes Grove Solstice-Along is honouring the child of Light today. 

Solstice Tide, Day Five

Tonight we honour our Ancestors, and we do this following Ukrainian custom. Unfortunately, my brother and his girlfriend are sick and cannot join us, so gorging on cabbage rolls won’t happen until next week. (I’m preparing the cabbage rolls anyway, and one or two might not make it into the freezer.) Instead, the two of us will have a simple meal of sausage and cabbage.

I have, however, made a small amount of kutia, a wheat berry pudding that is served as the first dish of the night. Usually I make a very simple version, but there are complex ones that feature druid fruits and nuts. This year, I varied our usual recipe by adding toasted almond slivers and almond extract.

We weren’t going to have a didukh this year, though there was a lovely bundle of wheat in a store we happened to visit, so it came home with us. This bundle of wheat represents the spirits of the Ancestors, and will remain on the altar for the rest of Solstice Tide.

Solstice Tide, Day Three

Tonight, we offer to An Cailleach, the goddess of winter and the name we call the spirit who resides atop the Oak Ridges Moraine, the northernmost feature of our watershed. She reigns in this place from Samhain through to the Vernal Equinox, and her presence is felt in the chill air and frozen land.
She is necessary to the movement of things, and so we honour her this day.

Cailleach Bhéara, Bone Mother
The Land itself arose from your gnarled hands.
Shifting and changing, making and raising:
From the depths of Winter, all things may take shape.

Cailleach Bhéara, Deer Herder
All the animals of the woods respond to your call.
Bluejays and owls, squirrel-kin and deer:
In the depths of Winter, they follow your voice.

Cailleach Bhéara, Veiled One
Wash your plaid in the cauldron, bleach out its colours.
Cover the Land with snow so that we look inside ourselves:
Through the depths of Winter, we are tempered by you.