Where Prayer and Meditation Meet…

meditationMeditation and prayer are sometimes seen as the same thing. It depends on what tradition you belong to, what form of meditation you take, and how you define prayer.  For some in the Christian tradition, prayer is about talking to God, meditation is about listening to God.  Others see prayer as a form of magic, with words and thoughts sent out in the hopes of altering what seems to be a predetermined course. Others still see prayer as a moment to reflect on our lives, and develop gratitude and compassion.  All of these things can be applied to meditation as well.

We meditate in order to create harmony in our lives, to work through a problem, to live a more authentic life filled with awareness. There is a goal in mind, even in Zen meditation, where we come across the conundrum of the goalless goal. Seeing our lives for the wonder that they are, we also raise compassion and empathy for all things within our souls.  The lines between prayer and meditation often blur.

Where prayer and meditation meet is in that quiet stillness, like that moment at dusk, when the world is hushed and we can truly listen, not only with our ears but with our hearts. It is a moment of utter peace, in the here and now. It is life, plain and simple.

Craft Names

Autumn SongWithin Druidry, and indeed in modern Paganism, it is usual to adopt a craft name within your tradition.  It is not necessary, and if you feel that you don’t need one, or one doesn’t appeal, then by all means forego the craft name. However, choosing a craft name, or having one bestowed upon you can enhance your connection to your tradition, if you allow it.

Craft names can provide an air of mystery and magic.  We can choose something that reflects our work, such as Oak Seeker, Coll (hazel, if working with ogham), or Pathfinder.  We can choose something that reflects a part of the environment that we love – Alder, Willow, Rain.  We can put two words together that express a deep part of our soul, or a deep love that we have, such as Gentle Bear, Running Horse, or my craft name – Autumn Song.  We can adopt names of the gods and goddesses that we love, such as Nehalennia, Freya, Lugh, Branwen, Rhiannon, Bridget.  There are also mythological names like Merlin, Morgan and Nimue that might strike a chord deep within our hearts.  We can even choose names from fantasy books that we love – Gandalf, Radagast, Arwen, Goldberry, Eomer, Eowyn, Faramir (all Lord of the Rings names).  What matters most is that our name expresses a deep part of our soul; that when we utter it, write it, exhale it into the twilight it means something to us, connects us to the awen.

You can inscribe your craft name upon your altar, or your tools. You can sign correspondence with it.  You may even change your name to your craft name if you feel that better reflects who you are.  I like having both names, as I can honour my two grandmothers for whom I am named after, and honour my tradition with my craft name. Besides, it took me long enough to learn how to write my own name, and I’m sticking to it…

We might choose our craft name, or we might be gifted it by another. We could meditate, commune with the local spirits of place, or deity, and ask that they bestow us a name. In some magical traditions, a craft name is given upon initiation into the tradition, or upon completion of various grades.  When working alone, we do not have to wait to have a name bestowed upon us – we can seek it out ourselves from whatever inspires us whenever we feel ready.  We can ask our ancestors, our spirit guides, even friends and family for ideas and inspiration.

Our craft names may also change with time.  As we grow and develop in our spirituality, we might find that we outgrow our name, and thereby be inspired to choose another that better suits our current work.  We can include our naming in ceremonies, whether it is our first time or our fifth time in choosing a craft name.  Taking on a name is not something to be done lightly, however.  It requires much thought and meditation if you wish for it to be important to your work.

Whatever name you choose, or however you decide to be named, honour that name with all that you are.  Find ways of being that reflect your name in deep and compassionate ways, working to create peace and harmony in your life and in all life around you.

Reblog: The Gods in Druidry

This is a reblog from my work for SageWoman’s channel at Witches and Pagans:

nutsWho are the gods in Druidry?  There is no one answer to this question, as deity, like religion, is such a personal thing in Paganism.  There is no single authority telling us who our god is, or what She is saying.  There are books, teachers, Orders, Groves etc that can offer paths of a tradition that may lead to a relationship with the gods, but again they won’t tell you exactly who they are – we’re given a map and a compass but we have to find our own way.

There are so many classifications of deity in Druidry.  Ancestral gods, those who have been revered by a particular tribe or people for a substantial length of time may still dwell alongside those who have formed a relationship with them in their original environment.  Ancestral gods may also travel thousands of miles when people relocate to other parts of the world, bringing their culture and identity with them.  These ancestral gods may be heroes out of legend and myth, elevated to godhood.  They may be physical manifestations of natural phenomena. They may be real, or they may be archetypes. 

Other gods can be found in the place wherein one lives.  Where I live near the coast, the gods sing their songs in the wind and rain – sometimes warm and refreshing from the south, or bitter and cold from the north, swooping over the North Sea and communing with those gods.  There are the gods of forest and heath, and also of farming and agriculture.  There are ancestral gods as well, that we can see in place names.  I often see Holle in the heathland, especially when at night the mist rolls in and everything is cast in its glow. 

Then there are the gods of humanity – those of love and lust, of rage and anger, of compassion and fidelity.  They sing deep within our bones, and are just as much a force to be reckoned with as the other gods.  The Druid works to establish relationship with these gods as much as with the gods of nature – for humans are a part of nature. We need to understand ourselves before we can understand the world, and find our place in it.

Then again, there are many Druids who have no need of the gods, who live and breathe their Druidry without the need for reverence of deity.  My own personal Druidry, my own soul, craves this ecstatic relationship with deity, and sees deity in all of nature around me.  Perhaps it makes it easier for me to connect with the sea if I perceive it as deity – perhaps it simply is what it is.  But to me, the gods are real, they are here, and we can communicate with them, building relationships and learning how to live on this planet with them and everything else.

My Lady, deep within the forest I honour you, deep within your sacred grove.  Held within your embrace, here my soul sings with freedom.  Blessed Sister, antlered one, deep in the forest I find you as well, and run with you through the trees and fern, fleet-footed and light-hearted.  Gracious Lord, I hear your call in the autumn twilight, and move my swaying hips to your music.  Gods of my ancestors, My Lord of the One Hand, befriender of animals, My Lady of the Snowshoes and Skis, My Lady of the Hearth, Lady of the Mists, know that you are honoured.  To the gods of love, compassion and understanding, I hail to you!  Blessed Gods of this land, of the little valley in which I live, of the wide sweeping skies, you are my love, you are my life.  I am in you and am a part of you,  just as you are in me and a part of me.  By seeing the divinity within nature, we come to know the nature of the divine…