Tag Archive: druidism


Female Druids

I thought this was well written and wanted to share it with you all.  This is reblogged (kind of as I don’t know if there’s a way to reblog from Blogger to WordPress without copying, pasting and linking it back) from Woden’s Wondering Witch: Living Living Liminally

 

Female Druids

Every now and then I run across someone who tells me that I can’t be a Druid because only men were Druids historically, or that there was gender separation historically whether it was simply the different genders living separately or full on segregation of practices. I can blame this on popular fiction novels or on bad mass market books on Druidism, but it still leaves the problem of people seriously believing that women can’t be Druids and that bothers me. Not just because I am one, but also because it discourages women just beginning to explore

Druidism as a path and steers them away to other things when Druidism may be where they belong.
Of course there are clearly modern female Druids, some of whom are very well known, and the vast majority of modern Druidic groups are welcoming to Druids of both genders. In this way at least the discussion of female Druids in antiquity is a bit redundant, since whether they existed then or not they most definitely do now. However I think it’s important for people to understand the historic material we have and what it does indicate, so that we can have a clearer understanding our collective past and what it is we are building modern practice from. Although it is broadly true that we will never be able to prove anything about the ancient Druids with absolute certainty, I feel that we can draw logical conclusions from the evidence we have.

 

Finish reading here

Goddess Nicneven

“The Faery Godmother” by Brian Froud

“Nicneven’s themes are protection, ghosts, divination, peace and winter. Her symbols are pumpkins, gourds and traditional Halloween fare. In Scotland, Nicneven is the crone Goddess of Samhain, which is the predecessor of modern Halloween festivals. Nicneven governs the realms of magic and witchcraft and also represents the imminent onset of winter.

In magic and Celtic traditions, this is the new year – a time when the veil between worlds grow thin and spirits can communicate with the living.  Follow the usual customs of carving a pumpkin or turnip for protection and to illuminate the way to family spirits to join you in today’s celebrations.

In Druidical tradition, Samhain was a time to rectify any matters causing dissent. Nicneven provides the magical glue for this purpose. Take a white piece of paper on which you’ve written the reason for anger in a relationship, then burn it in any hallowed fire source (the pumpkin candle, or ritual fires). As you do, ask Nicneven to empower the spell and destroy the negativity completely.

To inspire Nicneven’s wisdom or magical aptitude within, enjoy traditional Halloween fare – apple pie, for example, brings sagacity. Sparkling apple cider tickles magical energy. And root crops provide solid foundations and protection while magical creatures are afoot!

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Queen of the Bad Fairies” by Brian Froud

Nicneven or Nicnevin or Nicnevan (whose name is from a Scottish Gaelic surname, Neachneohain meaning ‘daughter(s) of the divine’ and/or daughter(s) of Scathach‘ NicNaoimhein meaning ‘daughter of the little saint’) is a Queen of the Fairies in Scottish folklore. The use of the name for this meaning was first found in Montgomerie’s Flyting (c.1585) and was seemingly taken from a woman in Scotland condemned to death for witchcraft before being burnt at the stake as a witch. In the Borders the name for this archetype was Gyre-Carling whose name had variants such as Gyre-Carlin, Gy-Carling, Gay-Carlin amongst others. Gyre is possibly a cognate of the Norse word geri and thus having the meaning of ‘greedy’ or it may be from the Norse gýgr meaning ‘ogress’; carling or carline is a Scots and Northern English word meaning ‘old woman’ which is from, or related to, the Norse word kerling (of the same meaning).

She was sometimes thought of as the mother witch, Hecate, or Habundia figure of Scottish fairy mythology.  This guise is frankly diabolical.  Sir Walter Scott calls Her:

a gigantic and malignant female, the Hecate of this mythology, who rode on the storm and marshalled the rambling host of wanderers under Her grim banner. This hag (in all respects the reverse of the Mab or Titania of the Celtic creed) was called Nicneven in that later system which blended the faith of the Celts and of the Goths on this subject. The great Scottish poet Dunbar has made a spirited description of this Hecate riding at the head of witches and good neighbours (fairies, namely), sorceresses and elves, indifferently, upon the ghostly eve of All-Hallow Mass. In Italy we hear of the hags arraying themselves under the orders of Diana (in Her triple character of Hecate, doubtless) and Herodias, who were the joint leaders of their choir, But we return to the more simple fairy belief, as entertained by the Celts before they were conquered by the Saxons.

Alexander Montgomerie, in his Flyting, described Her as:

Nicnevin with Her nymphes, in number anew
With charms from Caitness and Chanrie of Ross
Whose cunning consists in casting a clew.

“The Wild Hunt: Åsgårdsreien” by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Even so, the elder Nicnevin or Gyre-Carling retained the habit of night riding with an ‘elrich‘ entourage mounted on unlikely and supernatural steeds. Another, satirical popular depiction made Her leave Scotland after a love-quarrel with Her neighbour, to become wife of ‘Mahomyte‘ and queen of the ‘Jowis‘. She was an enemy of Christian people, and ‘levit vpoun Christiane menis flesche’; still, Her absence caused dogs to stop barking and hens to stop laying. But in Fife, the Gyre-Carling was associated with spinning and knitting, like Habetrot; here it was believed to be unlucky to leave a piece of knitting unfinished at the New Year, lest the Gyre-Carling should steal it.” [1]

“Nicnevin” by Xavier Collette

For a fantastic and in-depth piece written on this Goddess, I highly recommend reading “Nicnevin” by Sarah Lawless over at Witchofforestgrove.com.  In her piece, she explains “Nicnevin is the Queen of Elphame, the queen of the fairies, spirits, and strange creatures, queen of the Unseelie Court of Alba.  She reigns with a male consort at Her side, but his name is never given, it is my guess he changes with Her moods.  She is the Gyre Carline and appears sometimes in the Scottish tales as Habetrot, a crone-like spirit known for Her magical powers of spinning, weaving and clothmaking. It is said She wears a long grey mantle and carries a white wand and can appear as an old crone or a beautiful young woman. White geese are sacred to Her and their cackling may herald Her arrival. In this we see She is linked with the Germanic Goddess HoldaHel, queen of the Underworld, the leader of the Wild Hunt in Norse legend.”

In the Encyclopedia of Spirits by Judika Illes, she writes: “Nicnevin, Scottish witch Goddess, can transform water into rocks and sea into dry land.  Her name is derived from Gaelic Nic an Neamhain, ‘Daughter of Frenzy.’ Nicnevin flies through the night.  Although usually invisible, Her presence is announced by the cacophony of geese.  The Romans identified Her with Diana.

Following Scotland’s official conversion to Christianity and brutal witch trials, Nicnevin, a former Goddess, was reclassified as both a Fairy and a demon. (Scotland suffered particularly virulent witch hunts, second in scope only to the German lands in terms of prosecutions and executions.)  She is considered Queen of the Fairies of Fife, Scotland and is among the spirits associated with the Wild Hunt.

Sea hag from the hit TV show “Charmed”

Manifestation: Nicnevin manifests as a beautiful woman and a dried out old hag.  She wears a long gray mantle.

Attribute: Magic wand

Element: Water

Birds: Geese

Day: Samhain (Halloween) is Nicnevin’s sacred night when She grants wishes and answers petitions.  She is traditionally honored with celebratory feasts and toasting.  On Samhain, Nicnevin makes Herself visible as She flies through the air accompanied by a retinue of witches and honking geese.  Rituals are also held in Nicnevin’s honor on November 1″ (p. 760).

 

 

 

Sources:

Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits, “Nicnevin: The Bone Mother“.

Lawless, Sarah. Witchofforestgrove.com, “NICNEVIN“.

Wikipedia, “Nicnevin“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Ancientsites.com, “The Celtic Huntress“.

Andarta, Boudicca. Paganpages.org, “Let’s Spell it Out“.

Dalyell, John Graham. The Darker Superstitions of Scotland.

Dashu, Max. Suppressedhistories.net, “The Tregenda of the Old Goddess, Witches, and Spirits“.

Electricscotland.com, “The Goddess in the Landscape“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Crone Goddess“.

Illes, Judika. Weiser Field Guide to Witches, The: From Hexes to Hermione Granger, From Salem to the Land of Oz, “Nicnevin“.

Rankine, David R. Sacredfires.co.uk, “Hekate Wears Tartan“.

Wikipedia, “Queen of Elphame“.

Wikipedia, “Wild Hunt“.

The lunar month of the Vine offers the opportunity to bring your plans to fruition the winter begins.

The Autumn Equinox, when night and day are of equal length, occurs during the month of the Vine Moon.  It helps you realign your energy to prepare for the dark half of the year.  The month of the Vine Moon is a time to value input from others and any networks that are made may prove useful in the future.

 

Time to Consolidate

Focus on magic that resolves; cast a peace spell to end an argument or use prosperity magic to help you settle bills and pay off existing debts.  Magic must be balanced with action now, so use nature’s last burst of energy, visible in the vibrant fall colors, to inspire you to complete projects that you started earlier in the year.

Invest in your health during this month by eating foods packed with vitamin C to stave off colds as the weather declines, and boost your energy levels with herbal drinks.

 

 

FERTILITY AND CONCENTRATION

Jen Delyth ‘Celtic Tree of Life’

The vine is the only plant in the Celtic Tree Calendar not native to northern climes, although it’s  featured in much Bronze Age art.  It was cultivated by migrants from southern Europe.  The name vine comes from the word “viere,” meaning “to twist.”  This refers to the Druidic concept of spiritual development.

 

Fruits of the Vine

In the colder north, the vine was substituted with blackberries.  Both are used in wine, in money spells and are linked to fairies.  Pictures of grapevines were painted onto garden walls in ancient Rome to ensure the fertility of the household.

Eating grapes and blackberries is a magical remedy that aids memory and concentration.

 

 

VINE MOON MAGIC

Use magic during the month of the Vine Moon to restore peace to troubled relationships and to bring prosperity and fertility into your life.

Fall Magic

Try the following charms, remedies and spells to stay in tune with the magical powers of the season.

  • Catch a falling leaf and make a wish.
  • Place a  grapeseed in a glass of red wine and drink on the night of the full moon to attract riches.

Equinox Peace Spell

Use this spell to bring to a troubled relationship or to help heal any dispute.

You Will Need:

  • A white candle
  • A white ribbon
  • Pen and paper

1.  Hold the candle and say, “I dedicate this candle to peace.”

2. Write a list of the grievances that caused the conflict.

3. Light the candle and focus on sending love to the other party.

4. Burn the list in the flame saying, “For the sake of peace, I let it go.”

5. Light the candle for a few moments each night and focus on peace.

6. Tie the ribbon to a bramble or vine.  When the leaves have all fallen, peace will be restored.

Fertility Charm

Use this ancient spell to help you to be fruitful at this time of the year

1. Place a bunch of grapes in a bowl in your bedroom (or office if it’s a project not a baby you’re delivering!).

2. Next say, “Spirit of Vine, I open myself to your powers.”

3. Take some time to collect your thoughts and then make your wish.

4. Finish the charm by eating a grape and saying, “So let it be.”

Prosperity Pie

Use this prosperity pie recipe to bring financial fortune into your life.

You Will Need:

  • Pastry
  • Sugar
  • Blackberries
  • Pie dish
  • Spring water

1. Gather a basket of blackberries, leaving one of your hairs on the vine as an offering of thanks.

2. Wash the fruit in spring water, saying, “Water of life, take my strife.”

3. Roll out the pastry and visualize the prosperous life you desire.  Line the pie dish with a sheet of pastry.

4. Put the fruit into the pie dish, add sugar, and say, “Life grow sweet.” Try to imagine all golden light entering the fruit mix.

5. Top the pie with more pastry and decorate with vine patterns, saying, “The spell is complete.”

6. Bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes and share with friends.

 

 

 

Source:

“Enhancing Your Body, Mind and Spirit”, 21 Nature Magic, CARD  14.

 

It’s 10 o’clock on Sunday, the husband has safely made to his destination thousands of miles away for the next few months, the kids are tucked into bed and what am I doing?  Why, catching up on my blogging of course!  So here we go…FINALLY starting on Module 3.

1.  When I was a child, I did learn and recite prayers.  Did I have to?  Hhmm, yes and no.  It didn’t feel like at the time that I “had to”; it was more of a fun thing to do with my parents and made me feel grown-up in a sense to recite them with the adults at church.  Of course, I learned the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary”, “Glory Be to the Father” and the “Apostles’ Creed”, the “Nicene Creed” and of course the corresponding Mysteries (i.e. the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, etc.).   I only remember the first three.  I also remember the Grace my Dad taught us to recite before every meal.  They really don’t hold the same meaning to me now as they did when I was a kid or young teenager.  I am partial to the “Hail Mary” if I had to choose one of them.  Well, also Grace before meals, but I want to tweak that one and incorporate that into my own practice and share with my kiddies.

     

2.  Books that have been influential on my spiritual path…The first one would be Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner“.  Another one would be “When, Why…If” by Robin Wood.  This was an awesome workbook dealing with ethics.  It was a quick and easy read and one that you could work through over and over again, journaling as you go, seeing how you’ve changed from year to year.  Along the lines of ethics, “An’ Ye Harm None” by Shelley TSivia Rabinovitch and Meredith Macdonald.  This book isn’t so much as a “how to” guideline type book, but actually teaches you and makes you think and reason.  It makes you stop and look at how you do things and the impact your actions have.  I got in a bit of a spiritual rut a several years back and found “The Second Circle: Tools for the Advancing Pagan” by Venecia Rauls quite refreshing and stimulating.  “Practicing the Presence of the Goddess: Everyday Rituals to Transform Your World” by Barbara Ardinger was also another quick and easy read that helped me out of my rut.

    

I loved Dianne Sylvane’s book “The Body Sacred“.  This book helped me immensely after the births of my two babies to appreciate my body, even though it had changed so much and I looked upon it as “ruined”.  Carol P. Christ’s book, “Rebirth of the Goddess” made me view the Goddess and the role of women in a whole new and different light (as can be viewed in this conversation between E.C. Erdmann and Carol P. Christ – which heavily influenced or brought out my Dianic nature).  “Descent to the Goddess” by Sylvia Brinton Perera was just all kinds of awesomeness that really helped me understand and come to know the Dark Goddess a little better and come to know myself a lot better as can be read in my post “Archetypes – Ascending From the Shadow“.  Most recently, I’ve started reading “The Solitary Druid” by Rev. Robert Lee (Skip) Ellison.  I’m about half way through it and it has given me a better understanding hard polytheism vs my softer polytheistic outlook.

3.  With a lot of these books, I was quite new to Wicca and Paganism, especially Cunningham’s “Wicca” (come on, isn’t this everyone’s first book?).  “When, Why…If” was kind of a mandatory reading for the coven I was in 5 years ago and an eye opener.  “An’ Ye Harm None” was a further look at ethics that I really enjoyed – another eye opener.  “The Second Circle” and “Practicing the Presence of the Goddess” got me out of my rut because they helped me to find the magic in the mundane and everyday life vs only finding magic in a coven setting.  Actually, “The Second Circle” got me interested in exploring a Druid now that I think about it.  “Rebirth of the Goddess” was a long read that made me question my reading comprehension abilities, LoL!  There were some pages, even paragraphs that I had to read over and over again, but well worth it!   It opened my eyes as to how universal the Goddess is and how She makes Her presence known throughout the different parts of the world.  “Descent to the Goddess” helped me understand my Dark Self and Shadow.  “The Solitary Druid” I’m trying to balance with “A Dance with Dragons” and seems to be a quick and easily comprehensible read.  I really don’t use or adhere to the Wiccan principles anymore.  I kind feel like I already know them, yeah, they served their purpose, but I’ve outgrown Wicca – a long time ago actually and that’s how I got into my rut back in like 2009.  I still use the ethic and principles in my everyday life and conscious decisions I make and obviously hold the Goddess in all of Her forms and guises in very high regard.  She is VERY high up there on my hierarchy of priorities if you will.  As for “The Body Sacred”, I’m still working on fully appreciating my (well not so new body now) changed body and accepting those changes.  I’m a lot better with it than I was say 2 years ago – so applying those principles is still a work in progress…

4.  I haven’t done any hard-core research on these authors.  I do know that Carol P. Christ started out as a Christian pursuing her Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Yale and later went on to become one of the strongest leaders of the feminist spirituality movement.  I do follow the Feminism and Religion blog on WordPress, so I have the pleasure of reading posts from Carol P. Christ and Barbara Ardinger.  As Dianne Sylvane has explained in this course, she also started out Christian, practiced Wicca but no longer considers herself Wiccan, as her beliefs and practices have changed and evolved into a more eclectic spiritual practice I’d say.  I also live close enough to the ADF Muin Mound Grove in Syracuse to attend High Day celebrations and chat with Rev. Robert Lee (Skip) Ellison, but I haven’t sat down with him and interviewed him about his life’s story or path.

This was a very thought provoking read. Very appropriate and pertinent to the Spiritual Nomad course and those walking a Solitary Path or in the process of developing their own Paths.

Meanderings

I drop to one knee and scoop up a handful of earth. It is dry, granular, and loose; it falls easily through my fingers. A fine plume of dust is carried off by the slight breeze as it falls between my fingers. This is not soil; it is dirt. It will not grow much unless something organic is added; there is no life in it.

In the Beginning…

When I was young, I was full of life. I was full of dreams. I watched the dream of the ages fulfilled as the first man set foot upon the Moon. I was inspired, but the dream ended.

The people were satisfied with themselves. There was nothing they wanted to do except enjoy the fruits of their labors. Their great accomplishment spawned a myriad of new toys. The people then sat in their easy chairs, playing with their shiny new toys, and…

View original post 1,845 more words

So, I’m very thankful – it’s been a very successful week, both spiritually and mundanely…well, except for this morning when I had to be up at 4:30AM to drive my husband to the airport (Army stuff).  But, then again, I’m thankful for that now that I think about it because this school he is going to and the orders we will receive when he completes it has stopped him from being deployed to Afghanistan…so yes, I can say that I’m thankful for that.

Anyways, spiritually – I’ve made a very long-awaited connection with Epona.  As I’ve stated in comments under my Epona entry, I’ve always loved and had a strong connection with horses.  Equine Science was my first college major until I’d gotten into a car accident on my way to college one early icy morning on my way to the horse barn to groom and take care of the horse that I was responsible for, Briar.  Despite having to be up at 5AM every morning to get to the horse barn, it was well worth it to me as I loved EVERYTHING about it.  I loved the smells, the sounds of the horses whinnying and snorting, and most especially grooming her.  That was when I was at peace in my “happy place” – spending that one on one time with her rubbing, brushing and picking hooves.  I also loved riding – the freedom from all my cares that came with it was amazing…

“Rhiannon” by Amanda Walsh

In my younger days, when confronted, being “cut down” or if someone tried to discourage me from doing something I had set my mind to, I remember “feeling” like a wild horse saying, “I will not be broken!”  Stubborn…very stubborn (if truth be told, I still am).  I’ve felt a faint connection with Epona for several years now; with Her name popping into my head for no apparent reason and calling out to Her when feeling weak, hurt and vulnerable.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling Her energy grow stronger and stronger as She made Her way into my life and really made Her presence known.  Perhaps that began when during our last Druid study group several weeks ago, I pulled the Horse card from the Druid Animal Oracle deck after focusing on the question, “What do I need to focus on today?”  I’ve also felt a spark with Rigantona and Rhiannon, even Macha; but more so with Epona.  Maybe because Her energy just feels so much “older” and primal to me than Rhiannon, Rigantona and Macha.

“Epona the Horse Goddess” by Gene Avery North

It’s been extremely healing, opening up a whole new sense of deeper love, understanding, forgiveness and acceptance that I was afraid that I’d never come to know.  I had a friend a long time ago that said, “Pony medicine is good medicine – healing medicine,” and as far as I’m concerned, he was right on the money!  I’m not sure what finally sealed the deal completed this connection – perhaps when it was when I was riding one of the horses with my daughter at the Renaissance Festival last Sunday – I have no idea.  All I know is that She’s here and I’m so thankful for Her warm, loving and peaceful presence I feel when my anger or feelings of discontent and frustration flare up.  I can “see” Her: a milk-white mare with big soft brown eyes just staring at me and feel Her comforting warmth.

I’ve also decided to try to work with Her as a Gatekeeper, which I understand is usually a male deity.  However, I feel She would make a perfect Gatekeeper as She is associated with protection, keys, the Otherworld and Underworld, being a psychopomptravel, shape-shifting, dreams, the Feminine and magic – just to name a few of Her associations.  As I have more of a Dianic nature, it just feels right.

“Green Goddess of Beltane” by ArwensGrace

I’ve thought a lot about the Goddesses that I feel connected to and noticed a pattern.  First off, Brighid – Celtic, who goes by many names depending on the region or tribe you’re looking at (i.e. Brìde in Scotland, Brigindū in GaulBrigantia in Great Britain, etc.).  Nemetona – Celtic, worshiped in eastern Gaul.  Sulis – Celtic, another Gaulish Goddess worshiped at the thermal spring of Bath (with associations with Brighid).  And now Epona – another Gaulish Goddess worshiped throughout the Celtic and even Roman world.  I also have an interest in Artio a Celtic/Gaulish bear Goddess, worshiped notably at Bern (Switzerland) and Abnoba, another Gaulish Goddess who was worshipped in the Black Forest and surrounding areas with connections to Diana (another favorite Goddess of mine).  Do you see a pattern?  They’re all Celtic Goddesses, yes, but more specifically, they’re all Gaulish.  I think I’ve found my pantheon 🙂

This kind of surprised me as I had expected it to be more of an Irish pantheon, but the feeling of connectedness just isn’t as strong as it is with the Gaulish pantheon.  Perhaps because of my Ancestors?  I will freely admit that yes, I am a mutt – Sicilian, Polish and Czechoslovakian on my father’s side and Irish, German, Polish, English, French and Dutch on my mother’s side.  Now, I know that there are people who say that ancestry doesn’t have too much of an influence on what deities call to you, and I agree with that; however, I feel that sometimes, it does.

Onto a different topic now…

I’ve just now discovered a very yummy and acceptable offering to the Shining Ones – Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey.  It caught my eye one day as I was walking through the PX looking for a bottle of whiskey to use for my offerings, especially after our very successful garage sale we’ve been running all this past week.  I felt a collective acceptance from the Shining Ones as we gave offerings of thanks for our blessings we had received.

That then inspired my husband…mead making.  Eventually, when he retires from the military, we would really like to live a self-sustainable life.  My aunt and uncle are beekeepers and sell their own honey.  I one day want to learn this skill and sell honey and make soaps and skincare products.  My husband sees an opportunity to make and sell mead as well.  Perhaps some Divine Inspiration?  🙂  Who knows…we’ll see where this dream takes us…

I’ve been blessed with a few experiences these past few weeks that have been a bit of a wake up call for me.  My daughter, who will be 4 in November, has been very observant of books I have laying out that I use as references to my daily Goddess blog and statuary I have around the house on my altars.  She asks questions, as to who They are and I explain that they’re Goddesses.  She likes to look at the images and say, “Oohh, nice Goddess!”

She’s also been very observant of my acts of devotion and thanks to the gods.  Whenever we bake together (my daughter, 2 & 1/2 year old son and myself), we always make wishes and stir love into whatever we’re baking.  Then, whatever it is, when it comes out of the oven, I set a cookie, a muffin, the first heal of bread aside – as an offering to bring out to my outside Sacred Space,  showing my love and thanks for the blessings the gods have bestowed upon me.  Offerings of beer, wine and other malt beverages are quite frequently made as well.

Last week, my daughter asked me what I was doing as I was leaving a heal of bread in one of the fairy offering dishes and I explained to her that I was offering thanks and love to the Goddess and the gods for the blessings they have given me.  She then asked for a piece and if she could leave some.  I broke her off a piece to leave and she said, “I wish for love.  Momma, is that a good God wish?”  I almost shed a tear right there…out of the mouth of babes…It quite possibly was the cutest, most innocent and blessed thing that I’ve ever heard.  I said, “Yes baby, that’s a beautiful God wish.”

Then, yesterday, I had given both of my kiddies bananas as afternoon snacks as I was getting things set up for a forthcoming garage sale.  I found her outside in my Sacred Space breaking off a piece of banana and asking if she could leave it as an offering.  Of course, I told her yes, it was fine and she offered it with her God wish of love.  My son, watching, decided this was a good idea and ended up “offering” half his banana into my fountain.  My daughter and I both got a good little chuckle out of that.

To be honest, I’ve been stressing over the issue of religion since I found out I was pregnant with her.  My husband  was raised a Southern Baptist and comes from a very deeply religious and Christian family.  He is however, from what I can tell, very much against organized religion for his own personal reasons that he has not confided in me.  He can’t stand the holidays and wasn’t too big on the idea of me bringing the kids to Sunday School at the Unitarian Universalist church when we were in AK.

    

As for myself, I try to explain concepts to her about Mother Nature, the cycles of things (i.e. nature, seasons, etc.) and their significance and instill respect for the Kindreds of fur, feather, scale and fin int them.  Even though I’ve been a practicing Pagan for 8 years, I still feel as though I’m kind of new to it still and really don’t have an idea how to raise a Pagan child as I was raised Catholic, Methodist and Episcopalian myself.  I have a few good books that I feel I NEED to read: Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill; The Pagan Family by Ceisiwr Serith; and Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw.  I’m also trying to balance A Dance with Dragons (yes, I’m hopelessly addicted to Game of Thrones) for pleasure reading and The Solitary Druid as part of my reading and writing for the Dedicant Path with the ADF.

I do believe it’s time however.  As much as I’m sure he doesn’t want her exposed to organized religion, she’s starting to question and deep down, there’s a little part of me that doesn’t feel “qualified enough” to teach her about the concepts of deity(ies) – I think it would be different if I were dealing with an older person, someone who already had an “understanding” of deity.  She’s going to be exposed to all kinds of religious ideas and concepts when she starts school (mainly Christian) and I want her to have a healthy foundation.  She’s going to need to have knowledge of the different religions and spiritual followings, as will my son for that matter, while being raised in an Earth centered religion.

So my plan of action – read, read and read some more.  Check out the local UU church and their Sunday school program.  The kiddies will be tagging along with me to the next two High Day celebrations at the ADF Grove I recently started attending as my husband will be away at school that the military is sending him to.  Finally, meditating and using my intuition to guide me along the way…

Goddess Nemetona

“Mother Nature” by Rozairo

“Nemetona’s themes are wishes, protection, joy, fairies, magic, luck and nature. Her symbols are Hawthorn trees (or trees in general).  In Romano-Celtic regions, Nemetona guards groves of trees with a special protective presence that marks the area as a sacred site. Within this space, the soul is hushed and calm, becoming one with nature and the Goddess. Nemetona’s name means ‘shrine’ giving new depth of meaning to William Cullen Bryant’s poetic phrase ‘the groves were God’s first temples.’

Bawming the Thorn‘ is a ritual that takes place around this time of year in Appleton, England. It is an occasion for the community to gather together and decorate a hawthorn tree in the center of town. Local people believe this was a spot of ancient Pagan worship, which is highly likely since hawthorns are sacred to both witches and fairy-kind. In magic traditions, carrying a hawthorn ensures happiness and promotes good luck (not to mention bearing a bit of Nemetona with you). Wherever the oak, ash and thorn grow together is a very magical spot filled with Nemetona’s power and one that will be visited regularly by fairies!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Queen of Forest” by maillevin

Patricia Monaghan tells us that Nemetona was “the British ‘Goddess of the sacred grove’ as one of the divinities worshiped at Bath, where Sul was honored as patron of the thermal springs.  Nemetona was depicted as a seated queen holding a scepter, surrounded by three hooded figures and a ram” (p. 228).

I found what Sora Nalani wrote to be very informative and inspiring: “A Continental Deity revered during Roman times; Her name may be cognate with the Irish Valkyrie Nemain, and in fact the Romans seem to have regarded Her as having some connection with Mars.” [1]

“Nemetona is a very ancient Goddess of the Celts, specifically those in Gaul (what is now France). As well, She is thought to have been the eponymous deity of the Nemetes, a group of Germano-Celtic people living by the Rhine in an area now called Trier in Germany. The Celts, in general, did not build temples, but rather practiced their spirituality in sacred groves and Nemetona personifies this belief in the sacred land. Her name literally means ‘sacred space’, from the Celtic root ‘nemeto’ which means ‘sacred area’. She is related to the druidic concept of nemeton, the designation of sacred spiritual space.

Nemetona was worshipped primarily in what is now France and Germany, but Her worship extended into England, where there is an altar dedicated to Her in Bath. Her name survives through many place names including Augustonemeton (France), Nemetacum/Nemetocerna Atrebatum (Northern France), Nemetobriga, Nemetodurum (modern Vernantes), Nemetatae (A tribe in Northern Spain), Nemetostatio (England), Vernenetum and Medionemeton (both in England).

Loucetios Celtic God of light

Inscriptions found have shown that the Romans afflicated Nemetona with Mars. In Trier and Altrip, in Germany, inscriptions have been found pairing Her with Mars specifically and in Bath with Loucetios Mars. It is well know that as the Romans spread through the Celtic world that they paired their deities with the local deities, finding commonalities. Loucetios was a storm god, the divine mate of Nemetona, whose name means ‘bright’ or ‘shining one’. It is thought that he may be the original form of Lleu/Lugh, the Welsh god of light. With Lugh figuring as a ‘divine warrior’ in many myths, it makes a certain sense that the Romans would equate Loucetios with their god of war, Mars. Still, the fit is awkward and does little to retain the original power and meaning of both Nemetona and Her consort. As is often the case with the Roman deity overlays, it seems as if there was some breakdown of communication as the Romans tried to fit their war hungry gods over the more shamanistic gods of the Celts.”

Sora Nalani goes on to say: “At first I had found the fit of Nemetona and that of Mars to be almost ridiculous, it just didn’t seem as if it could be. But when I found a pairing of her with the Brythonic God, Mars Rigonemetis ‘King of the sacred grove’, a new picture began to form in my mind, one of a year King associated with the sacred Goddess whose tendrils of energy were inseparable from the land. It is very possible that Rigonemetis was the guardian of the sacred grove, the guardian of the sacred mother and wellspring of life; Nemetona. I then read that the Celtic ‘Mars’ was a god of protection and healing, along with agriculture in addition to the war-like aspects. Even Loucetios, a lightening god, is associated with sacred groves, as the druids associated lightening with sacred trees, in particular oaks. It is very possible the Loucetios would have been associated with ‘drunemeton‘: the sacred oak grove.

It seems a cruel twist of fate that some think She survives on as Nemhain, the Irish Goddess of battle frenzy . While the path from Goddess of the groves to the Goddess of the battlefield is not so farfetched through Her association with Her divine consort who inevitable was linked with Mars, the god of war, the pairing of Nemetona and Nemhain seems little more than a construct of similarity in names rather than an real evolution of Goddess worship.

I could not find many images of Nemetona but in the surviving iconography, She is pictured seated, holding a scepter surrounded by 3 hooded figures and a ram. This portrayal feels more Roman than it does Celtic, it seems more likely to me that her presence would have been found in the spiraling knotwork and the labyrinth iconology of the Celts.

“Nemetona” by Selina Fenech

Nemetona is a difficult Goddess to wrap my mind around. She is somewhat nebulous in my mind, partially because She seems inextricably linked with the land. She is the sacred grove and it is Her. She is sacred space, whether that is found within the majestic trees of a grove or if it is held simply within one’s heart. She is holy breath, the sanctuaries we create, not out of stone and mortar, but out of love and reverence. She is a sacred link between ourselves and the living planet. But in my mind, not in an all-consuming way, such as a deity like Gaia, but in a very personal , intimate way, our link to the land our feet walk on, to the trees our ears hear singing in the wind and the leaves that season with us. She is the animation of the living space around us, a reminder to create that which is sacred within and carry it through all our trials and journeys. She is the circle unto herself and we are within Her circle, found within our relationship with our most intimate and immediate environments. She is the wholeness within each single leaf on the plant that sits beside you, or the moving cells of your body, and the embodiment of all personal spiritual cycles. Simply put, she is sacred space.” [2]

Other names: Nemetonia, Nemetialis

 

 

Sources:

Joelle’s Sacred Grove, “Celtic Gods and Goddesses“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nemetona”.

Nalani, Sora. Spira, “Nemetona: Goddess of the Sacred Grove“.

Suggested Links:

Druidnetwork.org, “Nemetona“.

Eagle Feather, Lavender. The Simplified Witch, “Goddess Guidance…Nemetona

Nemeton – the Sacred Grove: Home of the Celtic gods, “Nemetona: A Gaulish and Brythonic Goddess (She of the Sacred Grove)“.

The Order of the Sacred Nemeton.

Wikipedia, “Nemetona“.

Last week or so, I got my Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) Membership package containing an introduction to the Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Druid Path and ADF Membership Guide in which are requirements for starting the Dedicant Program.  “Awesome!” I thought.  With the end of these college classes upon me in less than a week and the Moon of Dedication coming up in a few weeks, this is the perfect time to start my Dedicant Path.

This morning, I had a most interesting dream.  I dreamt that I was talking to a woman in the middle of the woods.  We were on a stone/gravel type path with large mossy rocks scattered all around.  It was kind of grey and misty and I could not make out her face.  The message she conveyed to me was that in order to really belong to the ADF, I must accept the wolf.  I must accept and believe that the wolf truly is an endangered species.  Kind of weird – kind of cryptic, especially since I’ve always felt a bond or kinship with the wolf.  So, I went to one of my favorite animal totem websites, Whats-your-sign.com, and did a little research on the wolf.

“Wolf Medicine” by Rev. Mary

Avia Venefica writes, “To understand totem wolf symbols, one must first understand the heart of the Wolf. This takes time because the Wolf has had to endure many false stereotypes, misconceptions and misunderstandings.

Not at all the picture of ferocity or terror, the Wolf is a creature with a high sense of loyalty and strength. Another misconception is that of the ‘lone wolf.’ To the contrary, the Wolf is actually a social creature, friendly, and gregarious with its counterparts.

The Wolf is an incredible communicator. By using touch, body movements, eye contact as well as many complex vocal expressions – the wolf makes his point understood. Those with totem wolf symbols are of the same inclination – they are expressive both vocally and physically. Those who have the wolf as their totem animal are naturally eloquent in speech, and also have knack for creative writing.

A quick-list of totem wolf symbolic attributes include:

  • Intelligence
  • Cunning
  • Communication
  • Friendliness
  • Loyalty
  • Generosity
  • Compassionate

Totem wolf symbols belong to those who truly understand the depth of passion that belong to this noble creature. The Wolf is a representative of deep faith, and profound understanding.

Further, the Wolf possess a high intellect, and have been observed using strategies about hunting, habitat and migration.

When this gracious creature appears to us, and serves as a totem in our lives, the Wolf beckons us to ask these questions:

  • Are you thinking about a different form of education?
  • Are you being a true friend, and are your friends being true to you?
  • Are you communicating yourself clearly to others?
  • Are you being loyal to yourself?
  • Are you incorporating strategies and planning to achieve your goals?
  • Are you spending enough quality time with yourself, friends and family?

Click here to find more about other animal totems as well as totem wolf symbols and discover if the Wolf is your Native American zodiac sign. [Which mine is not – it’s a Bear.]

Take some time to know more about the Wolf, you will be amazed at the knowledge these regal creatures can share with you.” [1]

So, after reading this, I made some interesting connections.  For one, Pagans in general endure many false stereotypes, misconceptions and misunderstandings.  It is believed by those who don’t understand us that we are evil devil/Satan worshippers who sacrifice animals, etc. when that could not be any further from the truth (well except for the animal sacrifice part – I can’t speak for all forms of Paganism such as the African Traditional Religions (ATRs) and Vodou).  The ADF Druids I have met have a great sense of loyalty – to themselves, to their faith and to the Earth Mother.  Speaking personally, I do tend to enjoy my “lone wolf” time, but also crave community, getting together with like-minded people for coffee, for study group activities and chats and celebrating Moons and Sabbats or High Days.

It seems to me that Druidry highly values communication, the arts (especially within the The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) tradition), wisdom, knowledge, learning and education.  All of the attributes that Venefica lists for the Wolf are attributes that I’ve seen for myself in my ADF friends in AK and are attributes that I personally appreciate and value in myself and other people.

“Are you thinking about a different form of education?”  Why yes, yes I am; I’m thinking about starting my Dedicant’s Path 😉

As for the “endangered species” part of my dream – You know, I try.  I really try to see the good in people – all people.  But that’s gotten me hurt a few more times than I care to remember.  There comes a time when learn – you learn that you have to be cautious and have to have your guard up, sitting back and observing before making a decision or a move.  You learn that not all people are “nice” and may not have the most honorable of intentions.  It truly seems as though people with the above attributes ARE an endangered species these days.  There are so many deceptive and uncaring people out there who are only out for themselves without thinking twice about who or what they use, injure or destroy in order to achieve their own means and goals.  Oh sure, they may be there to listen to your problems, but as quick as ever, they turn around and have a new subject to talk and gossip about with their friends.  You may find a knife in your back, never really seeing it coming.  These types of people don’t really care about you or your problems; they’re incapable or are unwilling to be compassionate and take the time to actually commit and help you, saying, “Oh well, sucks to be you,” as they abandon you to the curb and leaving you to your own demise.  When you do find a person or group with the Wolf attributes, you really want to hold onto, join their “pack” and stick together.  And you mourn…you mourn them when you have to move on.

So, now I have to ask – is the Wolf to be my new companion?  Is the Wolf to guide and protect me as I venture down this new Druid Path?

Sources:

Venefica, Avia. Whats-your-sign.com, “Totem Wolf Symbols“.

Yes, I’ve decided to pick back up on the Spiritual Nomad course.  I only made it through Module 2 and will be starting on Module 3 shortly.  I needed time though – I needed time to explore, think about and accept Truths that had been revealed to me during these past several months without rushing through things just to get them done or say “I completed the course”.

A lot of really cool stuff is happening for me right now.  Yesterday, we had we had the Full Strawberry Moon, or Rose Moon.  This evening, we had the Transit of Venus.  I can feel the changes happening…I can feel healing taking place.  Yesterday, I felt as though I was starting fit the pieces together, getting on the track and doing what I’m supposed to do.  Last week, I got an invitation to come out for a “meet and greet” with a local Druid, Grey Catsidhe, with the Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) who found me through the ADF site (though I wasn’t part of the ADF and that person subsequently disappeared off the site no sooner had she “found” me) and Witchvox. Of course, I was very excited as I have not yet gotten out and about to meet people in the “community” up here.  The Goddess must’ve thought it was time to leave my cave.

Meeting with her and the other 3 people who showed up at a local restaurant was refreshing.  You see, I had met some really awesome people in Alaska who belonged to the ADF who had a really great lasting impression on me.  They really impressed me with their beliefs, attitudes, seriousness of actually living their spirituality every day rather than being a “play-gan”, only “living” their spirituality at sabbats and festivals.  What they explained to me that the ADF believed coincided with my own beliefs and core attitude.  After listening to her talk about her beliefs and practice, it was completely inline with my friends’ attitudes and beliefs back in Alaska 3,000 miles away. I decided that night to take the plunge and join the ADF.  Yesterday I got the welcome e-mail from the ADF to set up my account.

  

I also decided reset my altar back up yesterday.  As I cleaned the altar space and took each piece out, it felt like coming home to something warm and familiar.  I felt as though I was coming home to Brighid.  She had been off in a distance lately – or maybe it was me who was distancing off in the distance from Her.  I had left “home”, was out exploring and playing with other “kids” on different playgrounds and had come to absolutely love and respect Shakti and Inanna.  I felt that I learned and made some wonderful breakthroughs with Them, (getting a greater understanding of the true nature of the Great Goddess with Shakti and personal healing with Inanna). But yesterday, I decided it was time to go home.  It felt like putting on that soft old worn-out sweatshirt, you know the one – the one that you’ve had for at least 8 or 9 years that’s been washed a thousand times.  It might have a few holes and stains on it, but feels so warm and comforting when you put it on.  That’s how I felt when I came back to Brighid’s warm and welcoming “arms” as She enfolded me with love, welcoming me home as any good and gracious mother would.  There was no jealousy, no resentment, no animosity or “I-told-you-so’s”; only a loving welcoming back to Her child.

I belong to Brighid.  There is no doubt in my heart, mind or soul.  Of course, She already knew that.  She also knows and understands that you have to let your children out to freely explore the world, gaining an understanding, wisdom and knowledge from different places before settling down so as not to have any wonderings or doubts about what might be out there.  She understands that in satisfying these curiosities, one comes to know exactly what they want and what is right for them (unlike other insanely jealous deitites that I know of who’d threaten to strike you down dead if you even so much as looked at another deity).  One is then free to use and apply that newly acquired wisdom to further themselves on their own Path.

I actually started to feel Her energies stir as I had set up my outdoor sacred space a few weeks back.  It was started with Cordelia, and then entered Sulis.  It was ever so more strongly with Sulis – who in fact, has staked Her claim on my outdoor sacred space (who also has a connection with Brighid – go figure).  She seems quite comfortable there and has no intentions of leaving.  Her energy is ALL OVER this space!  (In a good way of course.)

I also cleaned my ancestors’ altar and added a simple candle holder to burn a tealight candle everyday for them.  That felt really good and fulfilling.

I did quite a bit of healing last night under the Full Strawberry Moon – VERY sour and painful at first.  Spider (a cellar spider I think) delicately came along and stealthily landed on my leg, showing me the ways of gracefulness and understanding the ways of how the past and present are linked; how we weave ourselves into sticky situations and must use wisdom, knowledge, and grace to see our ways out – letting go of our pride in order to do so.  Strangely, I felt no fear or alarm as I calmly let her crawl onto my finger so I could release her outside.  I could actually feel her energy; it was warm, comforting, all knowing and ever so delicate.  Hopefully with her help, I can weave the life I want.

The night did however end on a sweet note – with a brief “visit” to some unknown ocean shore.  The skies were overcast and the waves a greenish-grey breaking foamy white.  Aphrodite was in the background somewhere, though I could not see Her.  Needless to say, it was a very healing and pleasant vision.

I could feel the lasting healing effects today and even as I write this now.  I hope this feeling lasts.  I hope that it’s not just the effects of the Strawberry Moon and the Transit of Venus.  I guess its up to me though, right?  I’m anxious to start my ADF path and I hope I can let go of the hurt and pain that I’ve carried with me for so many years – afraid of letting it go.  I’ve carried it for so long; it feels as though it’s a part of Me.  I’ve felt as though if I ever truly let it go, that I’d compromise myself and lose a piece of me.  But it’s time to transition…it’s time to let it all go, heal and be on my way.

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