Orphic Hymns Available

For those not on the Neokoroi list- The Athanakassis (sp?) translation of the Orphic Hymns has been out of print for some time and become quite expensive. Someone had the hymns posted on a Geocities website but since Yahoo is getting rid of geocities (ah, the end of an era- of crappy websites!)
Sarah Winter has been kind enough to put together a couple of documents with the hymns, edited and reformatted. The first is the hymns in English, the PDF is in Greek.

Looking thru it, I realized that it'd be a lot more user-friendly if I had a Table of Contents, so I went thru it and typed one up on Word. To save others some work, here it is:

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I noticed there were some unfamiliar names there, so I'm going to poke around Theoi and any books I have. I discovered, for example that Physis is a goddess of nature, one of the Protogenoi (primeval creation-era gods).


Thoughts on Runes & Divination

At the Freyfaxi ritual  I noticed that the book Star used for the omen was Lisa Peschel's A Practical Guide to the Runes. I hadn't heard of this book, so I looked it up. I noticed in the description of the book that it included a "blank rune"- definitely a red flag- the blank rune was an addition made by another author, Ralph Blum. It also states that Ms. Peschel is Wiccan. Not to be prejudiced against Wiccans, perhaps there are some that are well-versed in runes, Germanic mythology & cultures etc, but I take a rune book a lot more seriously if the author is either Heathen, or another scholar of Nordic/Germanic studies. While there may be some basic info here that's ok, I get the impression its more of a New Age dabbling kind of book. Next time I think I'll recommend another book to him, like Freya Aswynn or Edred Thorsson. While both have their flaws, they're certainly better than the book he's using. Heck, I can just bring them along to the next ritual. Ideally in my opinion, one should be familiar enough with a divinatory system that you dont have to stand in the middle of a ritual with you nose in a book, paging thru it. I think that kinda interrupts the flow & mood of the ritual. It might just behoove me to keep my mouth shut til I'm more familiar with runes, otherwise I may find myself "volunteered" to be omen-taker!

As for the omen itself, Mannaz inverted, I commented that some ADF-ers give more offerings when they get a bad omen, and do so until they get a good one. "I'm not suggested that we neccessarily do that, its just a thought" I said. Katie thought that was "silly". I guess there are various interpretations of the purpose of omen-taking in a rite. Response to offerings, to the ritual in general, to the Kindred's general guidance to the group at this time.

Other thoughts on divination- I was talking with Eric, and he was saying that he keeps doing Tarot readings and asking for "a sign" to help him find his "soulmate". I suggested that maybe instead he might try asking what characteristics to look for, or even if this is the right time to be looking for someone. (I'll leave aside the whole concept of a "soulmate") My take on divination, though I haven't delved that much into it- is rather than telling the future, it's more about showing you the choices you have in a situation, and helping clarify things. Of course it all depends on the system you're using and all, but that's what I've gotten out of the Tarot readings people have given me.
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Celebrating Freyfaxi with Red Pine Protogrove

So for quite some time my friend Star/John has been sending e-mail invites to Red Pine Proto-groves' rituals, and I've been declining as they are in the northern suburbs that I can't get to by bus. Granted some were in Elk River which is outside the bus system. But this time I noticed they were having Lammas in Robbinsdale, which is an inner ring burb- lo and behold I looked it up on Metrotransit and I could get there! Even on a Sunday!  I talk to Star and he said other rituals tend to be in Osseo, which is further out, but still accessible by bus. I could possibly take the bus part of the way there and then get picked up in Robbinsdale. Anyway...

This morning I went with Dan to Lake Harriet Christian Church. He is doing some "church-shopping" and thought the Disciples of Christ might be a denomination that would fit his values well. It was pretty small but friendly congregation and there was a good sermon about bridging across theological differences. The DoC like the UU's is creedless, though obviously a lot more Christian in orientation. Afterwards we went to Quang restaurant for lunch, a Vietnamese place which is inexpensive but has great food. We ended up with way more food than we could eat, so there were 3 boxes of leftovers! I ordered an appetizer- they have these delicious fried yams w/ shrimp in them. I think they'd make a great State Fair food. Then Dan drove me over to Robbinsdale.

It was hosted at Tom's house, and written and performed by Katie, who turned out to be the same Katie I knew from the University Pagan Society! I had lost touch with her, and didn't even know if she was still in Paganism, but now she's an ADF member. She's doing well, is a senior now in Environmental Science (good druid profession) and was giving Tom some tips on tree care. There were 6 people at the ritual, myself included- Katie, Jen, Star, Tom, and Eric. Star said there were other people that didn't make it. It's nice having a ritual with more than 3 people!

Katie's Freyfaxi ritual was well-written and performed. I volunteered to do the Outsiders offering, then she invoked Nerthus, the Earth Mother, and Heimdall as Gatekeeper and  Freyr & Freyja were honored as Deities of the Occasion.
For the Return Flow, she decided to use bread for the harvest rather than a beverage, and that seemed to work. Star read the omen- it was an inverted Mannaz, according his book signifies that a group of people means us harm. We weren't sure what to make of that.
I thought the ritual was quite poetic and moving, it would've been better if different people had read the parts though.

Though I was certainly fine with having a Norse ritual, I felt I should honor Lugh. So I poured him a libation of apple juice, and asked his guidance on the way back home, going through an unfamiliar neighborhood on the bus. Perhaps that helped, as Star asked Eric to give me a ride since he was going thru St. Paul anyway.  So now that I've found I can actually get to Red Pine's rituals, I'll be going more often. Yay, I have a grove!
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Squirrel Trouble

So awhile back, I discovered a hole in a mesh window screen on the enclosed sun porch in the non-master bedroom.  A squirrel made a nest in between the two windows! Recently, I got a call from the next-door neighbor. She had seen a hole in the side of our house, on the porch. Now we already knew the wood there was going to need to be fixed, as there was some rot, and holes we think were caused by woodpeckers. (We did see one pecking away!) But this hole is quite big- large enough for a softball to go through. Later it turned out the problem was much worse than we thought. One day I was in the bedroom and heard some scurrying noises. I went over to the porch and found that the hole had gone all the way through the wall, and that the squirrels had made a nest of leaves & chewed up insulation (newspaper) in the corner! Apparently, the window squirrel liked our place so much, that he invited his friends over!  Now Dan throws rocks whenever he sees them, yelling "Get off my property!" He says it's not to hit them but to show them they aren't welcome. ( reminds me of a grumpy old man shooing kids off his lawn!) Not sure how much they actually *learn* from this, however.

So now, before we even can get the hole fixed we may need to hire an exterminator. If anyone knows of a more humane/eco-friendly way to get them out, please let me know. It's going to be hard to repair that hole too, because on that side of the house it's right next to an electrical wire. We'll have to get the power company to turn it off temporarily. Now of course, I try to be as humane to animals as possible and avoid killing them, but they've invaded the house, so they have it coming. Nature is fine so long as it stays outside! Another anecdote about squirrels- after I told this story at work, one of my co-workers told me & some residents that she once hid some plastic Easter eggs with candy around the yard. After returning from church, her kids were going to hunt for the eggs, when they saw some rather colorful items up in the trees. The squirrels had stolen them!

So on a spiritual level I had some thoughts. I try adapting rituals to my locality, and by this point the squirrels have definitely demonstrated that they are outsider/trickster spirits for our household! Last summer (or longer ago) my mother & I found a concrete statue of a squirrel buried in the front yard. I set it up under the crab apple tree in the backyard, to be a shrine to the nature spirits, and left offerings from rituals there for critters and birds to eat. So I wonder if by doing that, I encouraged the squirrels' presence and attracted them to the house. Maybe I'm reading too much into things.

Finally Found a Job!

Wow, I hadn't realized this journal was last updated in January! Well, my focus has really been elsewhere trying to find a job. Originally I was trying to find a nonprofit office job, admin assistant type position, but after months of that I realized there was too much competition with folks with more credentials. So I broadened the search to retail, temp agencies and call centers. Recently I started doing more networking, talking with old colleagues from the campaigns I interned with, using LinkenIn more, etc. I was getting desperate and just want *a job* that I could live off of, to tide me over til the economy improves and I figured out what I wanted to do with my career.
Fortunately I had the help of my parents, but there's something very..undignified about being 27, capable of working, and living off your parents!

The job I found turned out to be right under my nose! Don't think I've mentioned this before, but Dan works as Activities Assistant at a Senior/Assisted Living facility. His aunt, who owns the company, told his mother, (who also works in Activities!) that she needed to hire another assistant, and she knew I was still looking for work. So I heard about this and applied last Wednesday, was offered the job on Friday, and started this Tuesday! Whew, that was fast! It's been going quite well. The first couple weeks I am shadowing others on the job, to learn how to work with the residents and do various activities with them. I've always found seniors to be very interesting to talk to and also find my experience working at an autism camp really helps with understanding folks in various stages of dementia.
I am also really glad to have a job where I can be creative. Honestly, I could make better money in a call center which would be quite mind-numbing.  I find this so much more satisfying. Later on, it could also help with a career in social services or health care related fields.

Upcoming Imbolc Ritual

Lisa & I have put a bunch of work into this year's Imbolc ritual, meeting several times to go over it and keep revising it. Tonight we got together to do a run-through to see how it sounds and if anything else needs to be changed. We added a part about a World Tree along with the Fire and Well. I got some ideas of traditional seasonal customs to incorporate from Seren's Scottish Reconstructionist site. We'll go outside to tie pieces of cloth to a bush in the yard, and then later take them home as healing amulets. In another part we'll ask Brigid to bless our creative projects. autumn_hearth , an ADFer posted a beautiful long invocation to Her, which she said was fine for others to use, and I suggested we add it in. Lisa liked it- it has 9 parts, so we will take turns reading it.

On a sad note, William's mother just passed away. We were all expecting this sooner or later- she'd had a 2nd bout of cancer, then it got better, then worse again. She was getting sick of the chemo- sick of being sick from it, so she essentially chose quality of life over prolonging the inevitable. I have not met her, but I was sad to hear of it.


Start of a good year

I can already tell 2009 is going to be a good year. Not that 2008 was bad, it was just full of many difficult transitions- trying to get a job, my family moving to Montana etc. But anyhow, today my dad, uncle and brother finally left for out west after several delays. Now the majority of their stuff has been packed into the U-Haul- we actually can see the floor of the garage! They took some furniture and household items that we'll have to replace- we retrieved a vacuum cleaner (she had a spare) and Dan's crockpot from his parents house, and went out to Saver's a thrift store to get some dining room chairs.

After resting up after the craziness I noticed the Winter/Spring course catalog for St. Paul Community Ed that had been delivered to our house. I perused through it, there are classes on everything from cooking and home maintenance to arts and sports. Gaeltacht Minnesota, the local organization that teaches Irish offers a beginning Irish Gaelic class that they now require you to take before going on to their regular classes. I tried registering for it last semester, but it filled up too quickly! A rather good problem to have. I hadn't realized that they were offering it this semester as well, and noticed that today online registration was open. I also thought an Excel class would be good to take, as I know the basics of how to use it, but more in-depth knowledge would really help with making me more employable.
I showed the catalog to Dan in case there was anything he might be interested, and he mentioned the idea we'd discussed earlier of taking dance classes together. Finally settled on a salsa class- even though some others were cheaper because they were per couple and this was per person, it was at the same high school after the Excel class, so that would make it more convenient, esp. considering this high school would be an hour-long bus ride for me. So now I'm signed up for all 3- Excel and Salsa start on Wednesday January 28th and go for 6 and 5 sessions respectively. Irish is in April starting the 13th (day after Easter) and runs for 4 sessions. Yay! I'm excited!

Winter Solstice Ritual 2008

Lisa & I  had our ritual last night, Dan was there as well- the same as last year, involving telling the story of Rhiannon & Pryderi. We lengthened it a bit by singing a couple of Paganized carols which I got from the CoG Yule celebration last year- Silent Night & the Solstice Child.  Lisa liked them enough that she wanted to photocopy them. Then we said prayers for our various concerns for the health of family members, gratitude for what we have, help for those who are less fortunate and hope for the future of our country.

I enjoyed the ritual but on some level felt dissatisfied as I have with our rituals lately. We didn't put a lot of planning into it and think we'll do it more ahead of time for Imbolc/Fheile Bride. We realized that maybe we are that motivated to put that much effort when there are so few of us- though we are grateful to have each other. We were talking about trying to expand to more people, it's just a matter of a finding ones who are interested and fit well. We may also try other ritual formats- it's too short, and perhaps a 3 realms cosmology would be better than 4 directions/Settling at the Manor of Tara style. (This is a format we got from Aedh Rua)

A winter solstice ritual is being held tomorrow evening at Unity and I'm going to try that out. They said it was "Celtic-inspired and contemplative" though it might not be specifically Pagan. Katy Taylor, the singer/musician who performed some lovely music in services is putting on the ritual.
I bought one of her CDs "Welcome Brighid" which has songs for Brighid and other goddesses (well and Mary) and it's wonderful.

Celtic Flame Published!

Keep forgetting to post about this but I'm excited to announce that my old CR teacher, Aed Rua has finally gotten his book published! It's through a print-on-demand publisher, iUniverse but hey whatever works. I've been waiting for this for a long time and I wasn't sure if he'd publish at all. It's probably a lot of the same material that I already have from his old class handouts, but I'm glad to see it in book form so there is a source to cite and so others can benefit from the information. I'm also curious to see how he'll present the info and if there is anything new.

What I am disappointed by is how it is being rejected by a lot of people in the CR community. Funny, when someone publishes a book in the Hellenic Recon community or elsewhere people are happy about it, but among CRs despite the lack of books all they do is criticize when something *close* to CR shows up, like Kondratiev's the Apple Branch. The whole time I was taught by him he presented his stuff as CR, and that is still what I consider it to be, just because it's a little different from what the CR "in crowd" does, does not mean it falls outside of the tradition necessarily. It seems like he is not calling it CR because other people have kicked him out of the community. Stupid politics.

Anyways regardless of whether it's officially CR(tm) or not, it's sure to be a good book. I haven't ordered it yet, but I'm waiting for my checkbook to recover from holiday shopping.

Libation to Dionysos

This Friday was supposed to be  Hyperborean Demos' Libation to Dionysos- Hellenion in general has the custom of holding libation rituals to a different god on the 2nd Friday of each month, and Dionysos is in December, as the Lesser/Rural Dionysia is around that time.
I took the bus over to Eye of Horus only to discover that they were not meeting- Victory had called to cancel. That was frustrating- but I realized it was my fault- I just changed my cell phone # & hadn't told everyone yet, and didn't have an answering machine set up for our landline (as we previously had a voicemail set up) I later found out from Michael that he hadn't heard from Victory either had gone over there after work and left before I did. So we could've had it without Victory. Oh well. I chatted with Chuck, a staff person there who was doing Tarot readings- about the traditions we follow- apparently he was trained in something called the Iris Glen tradition and also discussed the difficulties of organizing Pagan groups and attracting more people. Dan was nice enough to "save" me from the situation ( He joked "So, do you accept me as your personal savior?")  and to assuage my frustration, I engaged in some shopping therapy, picking up Brendan Cathbad Myers' the Mysteries of Druidry (more on that later). So I was tired and resolved to do the libation myself the next day.

I'm usually bad about actually taking the initiative and doing a solitary ritual that I plan on doing- don't know why. Procrastination I guess? Laziness? Anyways I did it :) I looked up a few hymns- for Hestia to begin with, for Dionysos, and for Hephaistos to thank him for helping find the Jo-Ann job and continued help looking for another. I lit a candle, and offered some grape juice and wine, turned on some music- I felt some bellydance music I had was rather Dionysian ;) read the hymns, prayed to each of them, and danced a little to the music. That was lovely, fun and meaningful and I'm glad I did it.

I feel a little self-conscious talking to gods when I'm alone- not sure why but I guess as I get more into the habit it won't feel so odd. Hopefully I'll start to get the feeling that someone is listening.