Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Samhain 2012 - Signs and Portents

I try to maintain a Mythopoeic world-view - that the world we live in is part of a larger, interconnected, vibrant and alive place. With ancient stories to guide us and spirits and Deities and Who Knows What Else roiling around in a froth of activity and living. With all this hubbub around us, it just makes sense to be sensitive to what's about, and use divination tools to make sure we get a sense of things and grab any message that might be directed at us. 

So I tried not to be overly worried about the Samhain ritual that we were missing due to me needing to go to Ohio to be with my father.  Who, in his declining years, had a semi-serious medical emergency that ended him up in the ER. (It turned out to be, uh, a physical blockage of his digestive tract so was dealt with - but there are some lifestyle changes due in his future. I know, I know, TMI.)

But it got me to thinking, how funny/odd/weird it was that for our Grove's traditional "Ancestor" rite I was wending off to be with one of my Ancestors - albeit one that was still alive and kicking. (Ask me one Yule - our "storytelling" rite - about frantically received texts from me after the rite. Sorry for the scare Caroline!) One of the things about Our Own Druidry (in fact, most religions strive for this I think) is that we believe that Our Religion should inform our daily lives. Not just a Full Moon or Cross Quarter kinda thing.

So, was it a Deity speaking to me or just a weird twist of fate? Omen or Pizza? However kewl it might be that Someone Spoke to me, ultimately what matters is my reaction to it.  One more holiday and attendant story to help me remember what Ancestor means - and how I sometimes fail at honoring them while alive, or their memories when they've moved on.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Earth Mother Invocation

I just came across this on FaceBook and (after learning a bit more about the Ute) thought it would make a good Earth Mother invocation.  

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

A Ute Prayer

I won't give a link where I found it, it's pretty much blanketing teh Intarwebs.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wild Onion Yule 2012

This year due to scheduling conflicts, we had Yule at Chris and Jack's house. (No worries though we will be back at Life Force Arts Center in it's new location for Imbolc!)

For the ritual we did the same thing we did last year, we assigned each step of the ritual with a rune (after a bit of re-writing as some runes weren't really in the right places) and then had the participants place the corresponding rune ornament on the tree at the appropriate time. The tree this year was my sparkly one and I also added an excessive amount of tinsel so it looked much nicer than it did last year.

Amazingly Chris' Odin plaque survived the Great Flood of 2011 with minimal damage so it graced the altar and we now have the Heimdallr Bifrost prayer beads to use as a symbol of Heimdallr (our Gatekeeper for Norse style rites) as well.

Overall the rite went very well. I did my Norse Well Tree and Fire, everyone shared their Odin stories, we sang the Snows of Valhalla and the sacrifice was made (beer, lots of beer!) and the Omens were good. We shared more beer for the return flow and for the take-aways Jack made Rune cards for each person to randomly select as a personal omen for the year.

The only major fail was my Wild Onion Wassail song. I usually am not a huge fan of filked Christmas carols but this one seemed sort of appropriate for a reinterpretation and the whole wassailing thing is pretty Pagan anyway. We sort of ran through it at the beginning but then sort of forgot about it. I had intended it to be sung during the return flow as we passed the wassail cup around, but that was vetoed and it was decided it would be sung at the end but by then I think everyone just wanted to go feast and we never sang it. Oh well there is always next year I suppose.

 After the rite we stuffed ourselves silly with lasagna and garlic bread, a vegetable platter, a cheese plate, chips and dip, juice, beer, wine, eggnog, cookies, and homemade gingerbread,  as well as stockings filled with treats and presents courtesy of Jack and Chris!

Imbolc is the next High Day and we will be honoring Brighid and making butter! We will also be resuming our work with the Forest Preserve in February so keep watching this space!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2012 Artisan Calendar

So right quick before I post the write up of Yule, I thought I'd plug the Artisans Guild calendar a bit first. It features art from several members of ADF's Artisan Guild, including myself and Jack. Proceeds from the calendar go to fund Guild activities such as the Unity Quilt and the Wellspring art competition. So if you are looking for a belated Solstice gift for that hard to please polytheist in your life, well who doesn't need a calendar? I'm just sayin ;)

And a link in case you can't see the preview

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Samhain 2011

As is our tradition, we held Samhain under the U.A.O.D Druid monument in Forest Home cemetery in Forest Park. The weather is always a bit of a gamble this time of year and there have been some very coooold Samhain celebrations but this year the weather was mild but very windy! The altar objects were arranged not as much for their aesthetics but as a way to anchor the altar cloth and lighter items! (and I brought far too many things for the altar anyway which I suppose was fortuitous as they made handy paperweights if nothing else!)

The Deity of the Occasion was Pwyll Pen Annwfn and the Blessed Ancestors. Since this was a sort of Welsh rite, we had Manawydan fab Llŷr as the Gatekeeper, and Taliesin for Bardic inspiration. Again we used the Triple Triads to invoke the Ancestors, Nature Spirits and Shining Ones. The main aspect of the rite was honoring the Ancestors and so Colleen honored her Grandfather with appropriate offerings, I offered some McVitties that Jack and Chris brought me, and others told stories or made offerings for their ancestors. Colleen sang The Reaper and the Flowers which is something of a Samhain tradition. We read our Ancestor Prayer and offered whiskey, ale, apples, hazelnuts, and of course our food donations.

Colleen  sacrificed some Whiskey and cookies to Pwyll and Janet and I took the Omen and the sacrifice was accepted. Chris then asked for blessings and we shared sesame cookies and ale. For the takeaway, Jack made some Ancestor Triptychs printed on vellum for people to record their own ancestor and place on their shrines. He chose vellum so people could place photographs and such behind the triptych so they would show through. (Anyone who missed the rite can print out their own copy if they like.) Towards the end the wind was really picking up (a branch fell off a tree right near us!) so we hastily made out farewells and packed up before we blew away. We reconvened at Khyber Pass in Oak Park to feast with delicious Indian Food and warm companionship with friends old and new. All in all the rite went well despite the wind, I'm still not convinced we shouldn't do Samhain indoors but so far I have been outvoted. Yule of course will be indoors at LFACs new location, which is much smaller than the old space but the parking is free on Sundays!  Yule is now going to be at a private residence so please RSVP for directions if you are planning on going! The rite will be dedicated to Odin and there will be a potluck afterwards so bring something yummy to share! Highlights will include a Chicago Wassail, Yulekake, and of course Runes!

The other important news is that we have a new phone number (312) 489-8610, which we figured we needed so people can get a hold of us if they get lost or just want to talk to an actual person about the Grove, events etc (or when Caroline messes up.)  Also due to the fact that December is usually a crazy time even for Pagans we will resume working with the Forest Preserve in January, there might also be some blanket making in our future as well....

Blessings on you and yours and Happy Thanksgiving!
Your humble Scribe, Wild Onion Grove ADF

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Litterbusters! Giving back to the Nature Spirits

We had been talking for a while about doing something for the Nature Spirits and the land around the city, but we hadn't really done anything about it. However at Autumn Equinox the Nature Spirits called us out on it during the Grove Omen so we finally got our butts in gear and volunteered with the Forest Preserve of Cook County. Our first task was litter removal and we chose Evans Field in Jerome Huppert Woods where we do a lot of our outdoor rituals (Beltaine in particular as well as Autumn Equinox this year.)

We arrived around 10am, coffee and breakfast sandwiches in hand, on a beautiful late Autumn day. We met up with Jennifer, finished breakfast and grabbed our plastic bags and gloves, made some offerings and headed towards the little side grove where we hold our rituals.  The Forest Preserve can and will provide gloves and bags if you need them but Jack and Chris had some heavy duty bags and gloves left over from the flood so we used those instead. The offering was a squirrel feeder of corn that we thought the deer might enjoy. Ironically we had to break it up to get the plastic piece out of the middle (it's designed to sit on a pole) so we wouldn't litter! Jennifer also brought some offerings but we saved those for the end.

We each took a bag and split up, and even though the woods didn't seem  too littered soon we were finding all sorts of things. Mostly beer and booze bottles and junk food wrappers, but we got some strange and frankly gross things like used maxi pads (!). I found a nice metal pole that I used to tease bits of trash out of hard to reach places that Jennifer took home to stake her plants in her garden (see we recycled too!) While foraging for trash I explored parts of the woods that we never had time to explore on High Days, and in the woods on the far side of the field, I found some swamp land and a small spring!

Even though it seems I spent most of my time taking pictures, I actually did pick up a large bag of trash, we all ended up with a good sized bag each. After we had pretty much scoured the place of trash we grabbed Jennifer's offerings and headed to my newly discovered spring. She offered, honey, an apple, a banana, corn, and oats. We are pretty sure the trees around us were filling up with hungry squirrels eager for our departure so they could feast! Afterwards we headed to Jack and Chris' house for yummy Guinness stew and to plan our Samhain ritual.

All in all it was a fun day, the weather was great and it feels good to help the land and the Nature Spirits. We plan on doing something monthly from now on. It will vary by season, but will include things like invasive species removal, more litter busting, and anything else they want to train us for. Anyone who wishes may join us, you can RSVP (which is really helpful since the Forest Preserve likes to know how many people to expect if they have to give us supplies or training.) Anyway have a blessed Samhain and Happy New Year! :)


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Autumn Equinox 2011

Autumn Equinox Altar
The day of the Autumn Equinox rite dawned rather cold and rainy but the Grove was determined not to let the weather mess up yet another rite this year and we went ahead to Evans Field in Thatcher Woods Jerome Huppert Woods (someone changed the woods on me, no wonder people were getting lost!) as planned. We figured (correctly) that no one would be using the shelter, and we brought a spare gazebo tent in case it was. So even though the heavens opened up on us pretty much the whole time, we were dry and (almost) toasty! And even though we have been to this place many times, it seemed  more numinous and glowing in the rain (and later sun), it must be something about this time of year....

Jack invokes Heimdallr
As a new tradition at Wild Onion, Autumn Equinox is the time we honor the Gatekeeper Deities we invoke as part of the Core Order of Ritual throughout the year. We feel this is a very appropriate time of year to think about liminal spaces and times as well as a time to reflect on where we came from and where we are going. This year it was Heimdallr's turn as not only do we ask him to be Gatekeeper for our Norse rites, he is also Jack's Patron Deity. We asked Ægir to step in as Gatekeeper which he seemed happy to do (he also got lots of beer which I am sure helped.) We wanted the Invocation to be a journey across Bifröst and we hit on the idea to incorporate the colors of the rainbow, Runes and ADF's Nine Virtues for each step of the journey. Of course there are only seven colors in the rainbow and nine virtues so we added black and white to symbolize the darkness as we started the journey and the light at the end after acquiring the wisdom of each Rune.

Bifröst prayer bead take-aways
So Jack wrote the Invocation and as he performed the it, he lit the corresponding candle until we had a sparkling Bifröst across the Altar. Chris then offered the Sacrifice (a homemade white cake with apricot confit filling and cooked icing that Jack made) and of course beer! Lots of beer. I then took the Omens and they were good! So with the sacrifice accepted, Chris asked for return Blessings and we shared shortbread cookies (a gift from our guests!) and handed out the take-aways. I made sets of polymer clay prayer beads in the 9 colors and painted the corresponding Runes on each one and separated them with AB crystal beads and small gold seed beads, reminiscent of Heimdallr's gold teeth. I then sculpted small Gjallarhorn charms to finish them off.

Chris makes the Sacrifice
As you can see I made twenty of them. I am always paranoid we won't have enough for everyone, even though I always make way too many. We only had five people show up, well two including me Jack and Chris. Colleen was home with a sick cat (better now thankfully) and we had assumed the rain kept everyone else away. We did find out later that a couple were waiting for us in the wrong part of Thatcher Woods (and no wonder, since Evans Field is apparently in a different Woods altogether) and they were without phones! So two will go to them when we see them later in the month and Colleen got hers when I got home and we are sending some to Grovies that moved out of state and some to friends and after all that we only have a few left, so not a total disaster. In fact the rite went very well, the day was beautiful in it's own way, and as Chris says the measure of a good ritual is if the Kindreds show up when invited, the Sacrifice is accepted and the people have a good time. So I think we passed on all counts and we met new people to boot! So until next time, have a blessed Autumn time and see you at Samhain!

P.S. I just found this out about Evans Field: "Evans Field -- site of Indian Village and chipping station. There were several Indian burial places and temporary villages along their main trail following the Des Plaines River. Just east of Evans Field, there were five mounds built by prehistoric Indians." Neat!