After my hard drive crashed (and is not repairable) I finally got out again and did some filming this week. I hope you like it!
Re-weaving the Connection Every Day
Reposted from my blog at SageWoman on Witches and Pagans at PaganSquare
A large part of the work at Druid College is teaching our apprentices how to re-weave the connection to the land each and every day. We cover a wide-range of topics in doing so, from conscious consumerism, political and environmental activism, daily and seasonal ritual celebrations and more. Our focus from our last weekend was on daily connection, how we can bring everyday actions into our practice, to make the mundane sacred; indeed, to highlight the fact that there is no such thing as the mundane. It’s only in our perception.
Part of the homework given was to write an essay on how the apprentice can re-weave the connection every day. I thought I would share what I do with them, and you, in the hopes that it may inspire you on your path.
As I work from home, I have the luxury of setting my own schedule. However, I do still remember the days when I worked full-time, and then part-time, and how I simply shifted priorities in order to make it work. I also don’t have any children, although my two furry grrrls do make me wonder sometimes…
I start the day with a prayer. Watching the sun rise, I say the following:
I kindle my soul at the hearthfire of Brighid. Flame of courage, flame of joy, drops of awen be upon my lips, my work. May Brighid guide me in all my endeavours, this day and every day. May the light of illumination be upon me, may the blessings of Brighid flow through me. May her fiery arrow bring forth awen, to shine upon all kith and kin.
I then feed the cats, clean the litter boxes and see that they’re happy. When they’re all settled, I light some incense and go to my little shrine to Brighid in my living room, next to the fireplace. Here, I have a small lantern and a bowl of water filled with water from the White Spring in Glastonbury. I light the candle and then pass my hand over the water and say:
In Brighid’s name I light the flame. Come into the sacred waters, lady of the three strong fires: in the cauldron, in the belly, in the head: Brighid. Lady of the sacred flame, lady of the holy well, lady of poetry, smithcraft and healing, white serpent energy of Albion, I honour you for all that you are with all that I am.
A blessing be upon this hearth and this home, and all who dwell within. A blessing be upon my Lady, a blessing be upon this land. May there be peace in our hearts and minds, and towards all fellow beings. May we be the awen.
I then sit and focus on my breath for nine rounds, then perform the Three Realms working as found in Jhenah Telyndru’s Avalon Within: A Sacred Journey of Myth, Mystery, and Inner Wisdom. This releases any negative or destructive energies within our being and replaces it with the clean, clear energy of the three realms.
I then put on the coffee and have a fruit smoothie for breakfast. I sit down at the dining table and say a quick prayer that I recite before all meals, sometimes out loud, sometimes just in my head.
I give my thanks for this food that I am about to eat. May it lend health, strength and nourishment to me. I give my thanks to the spirits of land, sea and sky. I honour all the times, and all the tides.
After breakfast, I get on with my work, clearing the admin first, and then going to write, create music, do an audio recording for my bandcamp page or do some artwork. I work for about five hours, and then have a late lunch. After lunch, I go outside for a three-mile walk. Sometimes I dance instead of going for a walk, using the 5 Rhythms method. Both walking and dancing help me to gain inspiration needed to solve problems, to connect with the rhythms of nature, or to find the stillness needed outside of my own mind, to be fully present in the moment.
The rest of the afternoon is spent in study and ends with meditation. Then, when the sun sets, I sing a prayer as I watch the sun fall past the horizon:
Hail fair sun the day is done. We take the rest that we have won. Your shining light guides our way. Blessed thanks for this day.
I usually have a cup of herbal tea with me as I watch the sun set. I’ve been using mugwort, chickweed and lady’s mantle from my own garden lately, to help me as I transition through perimenopause. I hold the herbs in my hand before putting them into the teapot, honouring their energy and adding my own to their song.
I then cook a meal for my husband and I, honouring the lovely organic food and all those who brought it to my home. Afterwards, my husband and I spend time together, enjoying each other’s quiet company. I may take a bath in the evening, honouring the clean, hot water that flows from the tap, throwing in some herbs or oil after infusing them with my intention, honouring theirs and bringing them together. I have another cup of herbal tea, made with vervain, which is calming and sacred to Druids both ancient and modern. (Please note: some of the herbs mentioned in this writing should not be used when pregnant. Always seek the advice of a good herbalist.) When it is time for bed, I say a final prayer:
I rest my soul in the arms of Brighid. Lady of peace, lady of healing; blessings of the sacred flame be upon me. Protecting flame, the light in the darkness. May her waters soothe my soul. Lady, watch over me as I sleep, this night and every night. May my love for you guide me in all that I do. May we be the awen.
Different prayers may be recited during the day, or during, before or after meditation. I have created a small book of prayers that I have handwritten, charms and such that correspond to everyday actions. There is a song for Brighid, which I sometimes sing when I am outside at my altar and feel Her moving through me. There is a prayer for greeting the moon, for invoking the spirits of place. I have created a blessing of protection, for when I feel that there is need. I have created a house blessing, to be recited twice a year, at Imbolc and Samhain after I clean the house thoroughly from top to bottom. I have written a chant for Brighid, to bring me into a trance-like state. There are healing charms and more that I have written or researched, said when necessary throughout the day.
In a sense, I have created my own liturgy for my own personal practice. However, this is for me and me alone; created out of elements of my own experience and my own life. I encourage others to create their own, if they so wish. Druidry has no set liturgy as a whole, however, I like the structure that I have created in my own personal practice. I understand that others might find it too restrictive. There are spontaneous prayers and connections recited and felt throughout the day, such as when out on a walk and I see the herds of deer, or the hawk flying overhead, or when I reach my hands down onto the mossy ground of my back garden to feel the energy of the land, or see the approaching storm.
These are the tools that I use each and every day to help me re-weave the connection to the land, to the gods and to the ancestors. At the full and dark moons I do ritual to honour these tides, as well as at the eight seasonal festivals of the modern Pagan Wheel of the Year. It’s been a fun and creative process, creating the daily prayers and rituals over the years, and I encourage anyone to try it. May we be the awen!
New video blog channel!
Hiya – thought I’d try something different, and have started a video blog channel! Don’t worry, this blog will continue as usual; I just wanted to try something new 🙂 I was a little nervous this first time, I must admit. I hope to be adding at least two videos a month. Feel free to subscribe for any new videos!
Druidry – What is Awen?
In Druidry, we learn often hear the word, awen, being used, but what exactly is awen? Loosely translated from Welsh, it means flowing spirit, or flowing inspiration. Awake to our own energy, and stretching out towards the energy of nature around us, we begin to see just what awen is. It is an opening of one’s self, of one’s spirit or soul, in order to truly and very deeply see. When we are open, we can receive that divine gift, inspiration that flows, whether it is from deity, nature, or whatever it is that you choose to focus on.
For awen to exist, there must be relationship. We cannot be inspired unless we are open, and we cannot be open unless we have established a relationship, whether that is with the thunder, the blackbird or a god. It is cyclical in nature; we open and give of ourselves and in doing so we receive, and vice versa. Letting go, releasing into that flow of awen allows it to flow ever more freely, and we find ourselves inspired not only in fits and bursts of enlightenment or inspiration, but all the time, carrying that essence of connection and wonder with us at all times. There is, of course, a line to be drawn, for we can’t be off our heads in ecstatic relationship with everything all the time.
But just what is awen? It is an awareness, not just on a physical and mental level but on a soul deep level – an awareness of the entirety of existence, of life itself. It is seeing the threads that connect us all. It is the deep well of inspiration that we drink from, to nurture our souls and our world and to give back in joy, in reverence, in wild abandon and in solemn ceremony.
Many are familiar with the Welsh tale/myth of Cerridwen and her cauldron, the three drops of awen falling onto Gwion’s finger and bringing his wisdom in the form of poetic inspiration, shape-shifting and prophecy. Some liken this story to a Bardic initiation, or the three grades of Bard, Ovate and Druid. In any case, drinking from the cauldron of the Goddess is to drink deeply of awen.
Many Druid rituals begin or end with singing or chanting the awen. When doing so, the word is stretched to three syllables, sounding like ah-oo-wen. It is a lovely sound, that opens up the heart and soul. Sung/chanted together, or in rounds, it simply flows, as its namesake determines. Our hearts literally can open if we let them when chanting or singing the awen.
Yet I am sure that the awen is different for each and every Druid. The connection, and the resulting expression of that connection, the Druid’s own creativity, can be so vast and diverse. It is what is so delicious about it – we inhale the awen and exhale our own creativity in song, in dance, in books, in protest marches – the possibilities are endless, as is the awen itself.
Druidry and the Practice of Connection
All too often in today’s society we can feel disconnected from nature, our conceptions of the “real world” and the spiritual world ever growing further apart. Druidry teaches us that the two are really one world, where spirit is real and reality is spirit. Incorporating exercises to help keep that connection strong are very useful in maintaining a holistic worldview. Here I provide some examples of things you can do every day to remind yourself that that the two are one, that connection with time, place, spirit and reality can and is achieved through everyday actions.
• Watch the sunrise/sunset every day. This is an invaluable exercise in connection with the solar tides, which in turn reflect the seasonal and yearly tides of life. Fitting in the time to either watch the sun rise or set will depend on certain factors, the main factors being work and family. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to watch the sunset during the short winter days, then try watching the sunrise instead. If even this isn’t an option, then try at least to get outside at least once, at the same time, perhaps during your lunch break, to notice where the sun is in the sky. Notice what quality of light there is at that time of year, and how it is reflected in the world around you.
• Similarly, try and watch the moonrise/moonset, if possible. Or, go outside every night and try to find the moon, watch its course through the sky in all the seasons. Watch the stars wheeling overhead, keep track of what is where during which time or season.
• Bathing can be seen as connecting with the very important spirit of water. A ritual that can be done every day, really feel water upon your skin, whether it is a bath, shower or simply washing your face. Immerse your hands into the water and feel its energy, the power that it holds. Find out where your water comes from, and visit that place if at all possible. Learn about your water – it doesn’t just magically come out of the tap from nowhere! This will help you to connect with water in a very positive way.
• Cooking is a good example of connecting with your food, and your loved ones. Finding out where your food comes from, who grew it, are all important factors to consider. Get back in touch with your food – literally. Don’t just peel a potato – feel its skin, the mud and dirt clinging to it, smell the woody, earthy smell, look at it with all its lumps and bumps and colours. This can be done with all food – as children, we explore our food, yet as adults we lose that curiosity and become complacent. When preparing your meal, know that what you are preparing will nourish you, and any others that you are feeding. Give back a little of your meal to the earth in thanks for what you have received.
• Grow something from seed. This really connects you to the power that is life – by watching something throughout its cycle, by tending and caring for it, you will find a connection with that spark that inspires all things to live.
• Meditate every day. Whether inside or outside, taking this time out for yourself to connect with nature and your environment is invaluable. You will feel calmer, more at peace, losing that sense of dis-ease that so pervades our society. Listen to the world around you, feel and see what is happening. A small meditation every day is like a mini-ritual – it is simply taking time out to be, to notice and to honour that specific moment.
Having that connection with the natural world naturally leads us to living a more honourable and sustainable relationship. By taking time out to pause, to notice and to honour our world will help strengthen and nourish that relationship. Think about things you might to do further your connection with the natural world – then go out and do it! You will find yourself blessed with knowledge and a richness in spirit.
(From an aritcle I wrote for The Druid Network a couple of years ago – http://druidnetwork.org/en/node/1540)