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21 March 2011 @ 10:20 am
I keep getting weird messages from strangers (both anonymous & LJ users), so I'm making this journal friends- only. The oddest is sometimes I've gotten messages in Russian!- or some Slavic language that uses Cyrillic. Ah, the joys of the internet.
If you don't have an LJ account or aren't friends, send a friend request with a message about why you want to be friends.
I would prefer people I know from ADF or other parts of the Pagan community.
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19 March 2011 @ 12:54 pm
The second class I missed due to a cold. I talked to the teachers about making it up, but we haven't had the chance to schedule it yet. But Phil gave me the handouts which discussed gods & goddess, holidays and ritual structure. In their tradition, each holiday is associated with a God & Goddess (Patron & Matron) they overlap with each holiday- for example on Imbolc they are Brigid & Angus mac Og, and on Ostara, Boann & Angus mac Og.

The third class was on tree meditation- a guided meditation much like the Two Powers, it is for grounding and centering. But the tree med. has a broader role in their ritual- connecting the participants together and creating a flow of energy between them. Each person imagines themselves merging into a tree and remains that way until the end of the ritual.
Our assignment for the next class was to write our own tree meditation. From then on, students will take turns leading tree meds at the beginning of class to practice- since there are only 3 of us, we will each get to do it twice.

I enjoyed writing my tree med- I decided to do mine with a tropical theme, walking down the beach, then merging into a palm tree. It started out well with good descriptions, but I had trouble fleshing out the rest of it.
At the next class (fourth) which was last night, I led the class in it, then the teachers gave me some feedback about how to improve it. There were some steps that I didn't get right, but I will be editing it further.

This class was about the Grove Tender and Invocations. The grove tender is responsible for getting the ritual space ready, putting the magical tools in place (in ritual order) making sure the guests are comfortable,  reducing or redirecting disruptions, and assisting the ritual leaders (Druid 1 and 2) It sounds like a lot, but much of it is little steps. The teachers went over all the tools and how they are used, and went through what the Grove tender does before, during and after the ritual. They also asked if any of us might be willing to take on some of the grove tender duties at the next ritual. I volunteered to anoint people, as it is a simple thing to start out with. I will try other duties as I become more familiar with the ritual structure.

The we discussed invocations- all the steps involved. Tasha (one of the teachers) did a sample invocation to the Nature Spirits. Then we all wrote our own invocations, after drawing a paper with a kindred or deity on it from a basket. I did the Morrigan. Then we each read our invocations.
Here's what I wrote:
Morrigan, Queen of Ravens, goddess of battle, giver of courage and strength,
I, Mariah ask you to come and join us in our grove.
From your cauldron of sky, please enter this candle that we may receive your blessing. So be it.

Morrigan, Queen of Ravens, we are grateful for your presence on this Samhain night.
Our rite is ended, so I ask you to return to the cauldron of sky. So be it.

To explain- in Mists' rituals, each of the Kindreds (Triads as they call them) is invoked and their presence symbolized by a cauldron represented one of the 3 realms: water for Sea and the Ancestors, soil for Land and the Nature Spirits, and incense for Sky and the Deities. The participants are anointed with each of these substances after each invocation.
In the High Rites (holidays) the Matron and Patron are each invoked and channeled into a candle.
Our next class will be on Ancestors, and so our assignment is to write an Ancestor invocation.

Tonight we will be having the Spring Equinox ritual, so I'll be writing about that later.
26 February 2011 @ 11:33 am
I never posted on how the first Mists class went. We spent most of the time introducing ourselves and talking about our spiritual backgrounds. The class is co-taught by several of the grove initiates, Chris Olga, etc. in addition to Phil and Sam, the founders/main leaders of the grove.
As we discussed our backgrounds they asked questions about why were were attracted to a particular path, how we grew or grew apart from religious groups we participated in. The teachers explained the background of the grove, how it belonged to the Henge of Keltria and why they broke away. They said Keltria wasn't spiritual or magical enough, they became too reconstructionist, and didn't like the leadership structure. (I think the part about how magical or spiritual they are is a matter of opinion and preference) Keltria also didn't allow participation of children, due to paranoia about legalities of parental approval. I think it's perfectly fine to require the parent to accompany a minor to a few rituals before agreeing to have them participate. It's the responsible thing to do. But apparently Keltria didn't even allow that, you had to be 18 to join.

Then they discussed ritual etiquette- both for pagan rituals in general as well as the grove's. Most of it was pretty familiar to me- we'd learned about it in UPS (University Pagan Society) and some of it is just common sense and politeness. There were a couple things I hadn't heard of before, like that some groups don't like you wearing jewelry or other accessories from your particular tradition. Almost all the rituals I've attended have been public, so they are pretty loose about dress.

I had to miss last night's class due to a cold. I've been sick since Wednesday, hopefully it will go away soon. I am feeling better though, a lot less tired and stuffed up. I posted to the list, and said I'd be willing to meet with a teacher to make up the class. I did read the assigned chapter in T.W. Rolleston's Celtic Myths, in fact I'm almost finished with the book. It is a really old book from the early 1900s- the copy I got from the St Paul library is so old I'm surprised they let me have it! It has cool Art Noveau illustrations. While the scholarship is outdated- there is a bit of a Noble Savage framing of the Celts- I haven't seen such an extensive range of Irish myths in one book. There are many stories I haven't read read before. It also included the stories of the Mabinogi.
The reading for the next class is from the Druid Renaissance (new title: Rebirth of Druidry) an anthology edited by Philip Carr-Gomm.
It's one I've been meaning to read. It's the only book of the 3 the library system doesn't have, but I've often seen it in used bookstores.
The other assigned book is the Druid Handbook by John Michael Greer, the founder of the Ancient Order of Druids in America.
18 February 2011 @ 10:35 am
Getting ready for the Mists Grove class tonight. We are supposed to bring 2 essays to class: a spiritual autobiography- easy for me since I already had one written, just had to update and edit it. The other is our personal definitions of religion, spirituality and druidry.
I defined religion & spirituality but for some reason am having trouble with druidry. They don't have to be very long- 2 pages max.
Here's what I have so far:

While the dictionary defines religion and spirituality as about the same, the two words have different connotations to me. Many people, including many Pagans, today talk about being “spiritual but not religious” and see religion as too oppressive and rigid. I can see their point, but I think they are missing out on something.

 Religion is institutional, structured and organized into groups. Religions typically have clergy, an official set of practices and beliefs, and some way of educating or training their members. The advantages of religion include community, guidance of clergy and structured spiritual development. On the other hand, religion without spirituality can result in “going through the motions” in an empty manner, participating in a religious community mostly for social reasons and separating their spiritual side from the rest of their life.

 Spirituality is inner and personal. It is developing one’s own practices and beliefs either within the context of a religion, or outside of one. It is more free-flowing than religion. Spirituality can be very liberating, and help in developing personal identity and making sense of one’s life. However, outside of a religion a spiritual practitioner may lack guidance from others, discipline and spiritual direction. They may choose the “fun” or “easy” parts of spirituality and religion, while leaving the challenging aspects that they need to grow.



Seeking wisdom, knowledge and inspiration.

connecting with nature, honoring the spirit world, living an honorable life.

Being a leader, teacher

Hmmm...well I'll come up with something.
11 February 2011 @ 11:07 am

Lately I have been less computer-oriented (well pretty much since the summer) and so haven't been using blogs, checking ADF lists etc. Though in general it is hard keeping w/ ADF lists- even just the Dedicants. I don't even bother w/ Discuss & Naturalists they are too busy.

Anyway- still doing bits and pieces of the Dedicant Program. I have finished Hospitality & Fertility essays and have started Perserverance. I need perserverance just spelling that word correctly! I have attend High Days since last Lughnasadh, 2 have been ADF, so I will have to do a couple more of those. It's been quite the variety, several CoG- Covenant of the Goddess, 1 with Lisa, with Mists, and a Brighid festival.
I will need to start being consistant about Mental Discipline. I have been here and there using the morning prayers from Book of Hours: Prayers to the Goddess by Galen Gillotte. I may combine that with sitting meditation and perhaps get back into yoga. I can't remember the asanas very well, but I can get some DVDs from the library.

Mists of Stone Forest, the other Druid grove in the area, is offering an introductory class, and I have decided to take it, so has Lisa. It starts next Friday. I have been attending their Mistletoe rites on and off for a few years, and have been debating about whether to get more involved. But I like the people in the grove, know them pretty well, and like their rituals. I still may attend some of Red Pine's rituals or others in the community, barring schedule conflicts. So I will be posting about that as well.
27 October 2009 @ 10:13 pm

This Saturday Dan & I attended a wonderful presentation on Hinduism by Rev. Abhi Janamanchi at Unity Unitarian. He is a minister from a congregation in Clearwater, Florida. He started out discussing religious pluralism- he defined as not just plurality but an active engagement with pluralism in all settings, taking both similarities and differences into account. Unitarian Universalists, and other liberals tend to overemphasize similarities while downplaying differences between religions.
It is more than just "tolerance"- which really means "not being hostile". I know I'm guilty of throwing that word around, after absorbing it from hearing people talk about religious/racial etc. tolerance.
He had an interesting metaphor about how we should be spiritual tourists vs. spiritual pilgrims, exploring other traditions while being rooted in our own. This is something I try to do- respectfully taking insights and practices from other religions and adapting/reframing them to my own. It's a fine line though. Spiritual dabbling is a big problem among UUs, not just Pagans!

I knew some basic info about Hinduism from reading about religions in general but this was more in depth.
He also got into some of the differences between northern & southern India, showing the different styles of temples. Not surprisingly different gods are popular in different places, but also ritual is more elaborate in the south. He showed some pictures of gods, and temples including the one in Maple Grove, MN which is actually the largest in North America!
After hearing this I think I would like to learn more about Hinduism, and visit a temple (which I've been meaning to do for a while anyway, out of curiosity).

Dan commented that while he already knew much of the info about Hinduism itself he really appreciated hearing from a Hindu perspective
rather than yet another "white liberal" as he put it. One fact neither of us knew was that the taboo on eating beef actually came from a time when Muslims were ruling northern India, and Hindus decided to not eat beef to distinguish themselves from Muslims who don't eat pork.

He also had a couple friends with him who played Indian music- Nirmala, the lady had a really old instrument called a vena (vina?) and there was guy (don't remember name) who played drums. We got a sample of what Hindu worship is like, singing some hymns and chants. I found it quite beautiful and moving.

On Sunday we went to the service to hear him preach. His sermon was about dealing with the difficulties of being caught between various religions, cultures and class/castes. His father was a lower-caste Muslim & mother a high-caste Hindu. Then add to that the awkwardness of being UU, an overwhelmingly white denomination, a Hindu and a UU minister in the Indian-American community, not just because UUism is pretty unknown among them but there aren't very many ministers either!
Though we enjoyed the sermon, we were disappointed because we thought there would be more Indian music and there wasn't. Oh well. Very glad to have him and the other folks at Unity.

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04 October 2009 @ 12:19 pm
Now, back to the positive-

Twin Cities Pagan Pride was for the 2nd (or was it 3rd?) year now at Sabathani Community Center. Or should I say is, it's still going on today but I'm busy with D & D -with all pagans with the exception of Dan :) I wished the location was a bit more central- I had to take 2 buses to get there oh well. Lisa and I met up on the 23 bus
The focus of this year's event is exploring our roles in the greater community.  Lisa & I attended a panel discussion on "Pagans in the World" including leaders from several local organizations. It essentially turned into a big brainstorming session for development of our community as well as ways for Pagans to get more involved in the general metro community. We had lunch, then parted ways so Lisa could go to "Daily Charms & Charming" and I went to "Building a Pagan Community Center".
This past year, since I'd joined Unity-Unitarian I became rather out of the loop with the local Pagan community- or as we call it Paganistan
I'd perhaps unfairly taken my frustrations with UPS and other groups on the general community and sought one that was better organized.
Little did I know that they were getting better organized. The long-time effort to start a community center had finally taken off- Paul & Teisha who used to run Evenstar, a metaphysical bookstore that had closed down had rented out a larger space around the corner.
They called it the Sacred Paths Center. (They have actually been closed during Pride to encourage people to go to it- and to promote themselves there!) This is the only such space I know of in the country. There was Betwixt & Between in Dallas, TX but from what I've heard they have lost their space. The SPC is very close to my house so I can bike there- as is the case with Unity.
Murph Pizza, our resident Pagan anthropologist observed that while most faith communities have churches/temples and then community centers since Pagan groups are usually too small to have their own worship spaces it's the other way around. So we are all very excited about this. We also attended a Wiccaning that was put on by the Coven of the Standing Stones- we were curious, since neither of us has ever been to a pagan baby blessing ceremony of any sort.

At around 4 I felt rather tired of workshops and decided to just browse through the vendor booths, listen to the live music and chat with people. I ran into quite a few old friends & acquaintances including some I hadn't seen in a long time, and those I didn't expect to see.
Kathy, who we used to do ritual with was running her Iguana rescue & adoption group's booth. Scancy, a former neighbor girl who I lost track of, Lisa Sanders from the Norther Lights Autism Conference (NoLAR)
I introduced Scancy to Lisa and we yakked for a while, finally decided to go back and hang out at Scancy's place with some of her friends.
We had a great time and decided we should get together more often. It turns out she and her fiance Steve live quite close by over in Frogtown (the neighborhood between mine and the Capital Hill area)
I'm thinking of having our usual Halloween party and inviting some of these goofballs as a way to reconnect with old friends.
29 August 2009 @ 09:46 pm
Yesterday we had the rehearsal of Lisa & William's wedding ceremony. (I'm a bridesmaid, don't know if I mentioned that) I'm glad I was there, because it turns out the beginning part is a little complex and potentially confusing but after we went thru it twice it made a lot more sense. That is after the procession to the altar, the attendants take their places next to the bride & groom but then for calling the directions we have to process round the area so a couple of people are placed at each direction. Then we process back. After that we just stand their while the officiant, Lisa & William do their thing. Also tried on the skirt part of the dress. Lisa's mom is making our dresses- and William's sister made her dress. She is still finishing up the blouses tonight- thought we'd be able to try them on before the wedding in case anything needed to be adjusted but guess not! But since my skirt fit but was slightly loose, the blouse probably will too.

After that we all headed over to Old Country Buffet for dinner. It's usually tradition just for the wedding party to have a rehearsal dinner but they decided to include family so they could spend more time together. We all had a good time yacking and munching. Me, Dan and the groomsmen ended up sitting in the table between the two sides of the family. William's groomsmen are all his gaming buddies- and I knew Matthias from UPS, and his friend Marcus. Marcus is my "partner" for calling West. We joked around a lot. I also talked with Rev. Phil Hutchens, the officiant who Lisa and I know as the leader of Mists of Stone Forest, the longest-standing Druid grove in the area. We discussed various Druid groups- he was telling me that tomorrow the Temple of the River (of which I'm a former member) was going to have a ritual involving dipping naked in the Mississippi River! I told him about the ADF Protogrove that I'd checked out, and misc. other Druid and Pagan doings. He also mentioned his grove was looking for/open to new members. So I'm starting to think about that. But more on that later after the wedding! It's tomorrow I can't believe it- it's been sneaking up on us the whole summer! We'll get our hair done at 7:30 then head over to the site and start getting it ready at 9, the ceremony will start at 11, and then we have to be out of there by 12 noon! (not sure if that includes the reception or just the pavilion ceremony area. We shall see. Let's pray the weather is good and all goes well...

28 August 2009 @ 12:54 pm
I have a book called "Earth Prayers From Around the World, 366 Prayers, Poems & Invocations for Honoring the Earth"<input ... ></input><input ... > It contains some prayers that I really like from a group called the Congregation of Abraxas. I was curious who they were so I Googled them.
It turns out that they were a Unitarian semi-monastic order in the that formed 1970s and 80s for the purpose of developing liturgy and deepening spiritual practice. This was at the height of the influence of secular humanism in the UUA. Their liturgy drew a lot from Benedictine Catholic & Buddhist sources. Apparently they published a Book of Hours in 1985, probably a pretty limited run- I can't find it. I'm going to ask around at Unity especially the Library Team to see if I can find out more about them. I think the UUs could still really use a group like that!

On a side note, I also wondered about the name "Abraxas" It sounded to me to be vaguely Greek and ceremonial magicky- I was kind of right it goes back to Gnosticism- the history of it is rather complex!
28 August 2009 @ 12:39 pm
This Monday I found both volumes of Book of Hours: Prayers to the Goddess and to the God by Galen Gillotte. They are prayerbooks modeled after medieval books of hours used by monks with prayers for morning, evening, and night as well as phases of the moon, holidays and other occasions.
Despite the Wiccan style theology (Maiden/Mother/Crone) I thought the prayers were beautifully written so I couldn't resist. I started saying the prayers that night and have continued since. Sometimes I miss one or two, but for the most part I've been doing it pretty faithfully.

I don't if this could "count" for mental discipline. I find it's easier to remember to do than sitting meditation and it's easier to focus on- more concrete. Regardless of whether it works for the DP I enjoy doing it, and find it helps me keep incorporate spirituality into my day.