A question I have heard often asked, “What kind of offerings should we make to ….?” can often result in head scratching and uncertainty. In Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh I have made an effort to make the selection of offerings as simple as possible. My methods are based on 20+ years of experience working with the beings in question but by no means are these the only offerings or offering method they would accept.
Sometime in 1995 I wrote an article about Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) religion called “Neocelts: A Modern Celtic Religion.” Between 1995 and 1999 I updated and changed it four times until it was finally published in Connections Magazine as an article about a specific faith based on the CR methodology “Aurrad: Old Faith in a Modern World.” Things have changed since then but the argument of what to call a religion based on what we know of ancient Irish beliefs still rages on. However, this article is not about making an argument for what to call the religion, for that look at my November 2013 article Gentlidecht: Old Irish for (Irish) Heathenism. This article is to briefly explain what a form of Gentlidecht looks like, specifically what followers of Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh believe and what we do as part of our faith.
So, John Becket wrote an article called “The Lore vs. UPG – A False Dichotomy” filled with an opinion that makes it clear he is talking to the wrong (and at this time, minority) crowd. It is a re-hash of a stereotype that has been diminishing over the past 10 years to the point of being an annoyance to many of us who have used to the term “Celtic Reconstructionist” at some point in our careers. In working on my response I realized that arguing his points is not worth the energy spent and it would be better to provide a positive resource on the same topic.
Happy Solar New Year!
First post of the year 2015 on the Gregorian Calendar and I thought it should be about the calendar used in Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh. In the article “Telling Time Through Worship” I talk a bit about what the Gentlidecht calendar should look like so in this article I am going to apply that information using the Notional Celtic Calendar. This is a lunar calendar so it is not as easy as just looking up the first of the month for November, February. May or August. We have to look at when the moon phases fall and as this year will have 13 months instead of 12 (there is one interracial month this year) we will have to make an adjustment to our usual calculations of having a festival every third month (1st of the 1st month, 1st of the 4th month, 1st of the 7th month, 1st of the 10th month and three months later the 1st of the 1st month in the new year).
So let’s start with some terms. Quarter Day and Cross Quarter Day, or as we call them Fíor Ráithí and Cam Ráithí, we follow the pre-Christian Irish usage of these terms so the quarter days are the main festivals commonly placed at February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. The Cross Quarter Day (crooked if you translated our Irish) would be the equinoxes and solstices and crooked as is better term in this instance as you will notice these dates will not fall at exactly between the quarter days. I want to point out this is the opposite usage of the same terms by other Neopagan religions (and most English based calendars), which is why it is better to use the Irish as not to confuse folks.
As the Cam Ráithí are solar events they are easily identified on any calendar, so we don’t need to go into detailed explanation on how to find the dates. To figure out the Fíor Ráithí using the Notional Celtic Calendar you have to go back to October 2014, as that is when the this year began, on 1 Samhain or October 24, 2014. This is the point we start going forward to identify Lá Fhéile Bhríd.
What we are looking for are the New Moons as it is the day after each New Moon that the new month begins. Knowing that the commonly accepted Neopagan date is February 1 and that the solar date would be the exact (English) cross quarter date, we jump ahead to February 2015. We find the New Moon in February to be the 18th and the Winter Cross Quarter Day to be on the 4th, further we see that the 5th month of the lunar year begins on the 19th. Which date is it? Well, none of them. What we want is the first day of the 4th month of the year. Even though there is going to be 13 months this year, we want to stick as close to the usual 12 month cycle as possible, so we go back to January and find the New Moon to be on the 20th, making the 21st the first day of the 4th month and our date for Lá Fhéile Bhríd as it is not too far off from the expected solar date.
Now we will do the same thing for Lá Bealtaine, and jump to May 2015. We find the Spring Cross Quarter day on the 5th and the New Moon on the 18th. Note that the 19th starts the eighth month, what we are looking for is the start of the seventh month so we jump back to April and find the start of the seventh month to be April 19th. So this is the date of our lunar based Lá Bealtaine.
For Lá Lúnasa we again jump to the expected date in August and find the Summer Cross Quarter day to be the 7th and the new Moon to be the 14th. With the start of the 11th month on the 15th we have to go back to July and locate the start of the 10th month which is July 17th.
Finally, we identify the start of the following year and Samhain. Jumping to November this date is easily identified as November 12th. Which seems odd as every other date occurred prior to the expected date and this one occurs after. What occurred is what is called an intercalary month, or a leap month. An entire month added in to keep the lunar calendar in sync with the common solar calendar. As this month is added at the end of the year it created a larger space between festivals that what would usually occur. We could have chosen to skip a month at any point to stay as close to the expected dates but as I started earlier, the idea was to keep as close to the every three lunar month cycle as possible.
Using the same method with different assumptions you may place your festivals at other dates. This is perfectly acceptable as it is important for groups to establish their own methods of identifying their holy periods and ritual year. What is important is consistency in method of identifying the dates.
Here is the resulting calendar with the lunar Fíor Ráithí and solar Cam Ráithí for 2015.
Lá Fhéile Bhríd – January 21st
Spring Equinox – March 20th
Lá Bealtaine – April 19th
Summer Solstice – June 21st
Lá Lúnasa – July 17th
Fall Equinox – September 23rd
Féile na Shamhna – November 12th
Winter Solstice – December 21st
Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh – As there are variations on Gentlidecht throughout the world this is the specific form of Gentlidecht as it is done by the Genti of Five Rivers Protogrove and myself.
New Moon – The creator of this calendar uses the term to give the date of the Dark Moon, the night the moon is totally dark.
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Old and deep.
That is the first thing that comes to mind when I consider the nature of the god known as Manannan Mac Lir. I first met him in August of 1994 when my 1st marriage ended. I wrote about it shortly after it occurred and while not a well written piece, it was near 20 years ago, it conveys the experience well enough:
A year ago I was injured during Krav Maga. They call it tendinopthy but most people just call it ‘tennis elbow’, it was coupled with an actual tear in the tendon. This resulted in pain and constant demotivation to do anything. Even Zombies, Run! lost its shine.
I went to the doctor immediately after it happened but she didn’t make a diagnosis nor did she send me referrals. She just said take some Motrin and let her know if it gets worse. So I changed doctors. By March I saw my new doctor and she immediately refereed me to an orthopedic doc and sent me for an MRI. The ortho doc made the diagnosis and sent me to an occupational therapist with a hand and arm specialty. Best thing ever.
Now a year later my elbow is fully healed and I know stretches to keep it from happening again. The problem is, I have done nothing to maintain my weight loss in that year and am back up to about 10 pounds under where I started, but 15 higher than where I was when I got injured. Even with running, it is too infrequent for weight loss, even though I am consistently hitting 5k in 45 minutes…nothing impressive mind you but better than last year.
The point of this brief post is to tell everyone that you can’t allow injury to reverse everything you have worked to accomplish. I grant you that there are instances in which you simply can’t do anything but if you can move, you can exercise SOMETHING. What could I have done with a busted elbow? I could have run more and done just about anything with the core.
Today – I started over. Did some cardio, some core, and the heavy bag. After 30 minutes I walked away with wobbly legs and a sore shoulder. But it felt good to be doing something again. Now to get back to my Krav Maga classes.
Don’t be a fool like me. Don’t give up.
The expansion of the ritual year has always been controversial within
the Celtic Reconstructionist movement with most people publicly settling
on only celebrating the four documented festivals of the ancient
Pre-Christian people. However, with the advent of the internet it has
become clear that many more folk from the CR community have quietly
expanded the ritual year to include other festivals. In the Gentlidecht Holiday Cycle I gave several examples of how the ritual year can be expanded to include many days to celebrate various heroes and gods throughout the year. In this segment I am going to focus on some ideas for a winter festival that are not based wholly on what the Irish are known to have done, but are events based on events in Ireland, American cultural activities, or the weather in my region.
The first option for a winter festival is to make offerings to the Cailleach, assuming you did not do so at Samhain. In Scotland, March 25th is a traditional day on which offerings are made to the Cailleach as this is when winter has truly lost its grip and by Bealtaine she is subdued. Here in the Midatlantic region of the United States winter does not usually begin in earnest until late December and only lasts through early March. By March 25th the Winter is usually well past and the early spring plants are already visible in the gardens.
If offering to the Cailleach is not to your liking, you already made her offerings at Samhain, or you want to stick with tradition then we can look to Ireland for an event that speaks to a possible festival at Winter Solstice, the shining of the sun into the roof box of New Grange. While New Grange predates the coming of the Celtic speaking people to Ireland, it does not pre-date the Irish who, as recent genetic research has shown, have been on the island since at least 2000 BCE with the arrival of the “Beaker People.” While we do not know the religious beliefs or the gods of these pre-Celtic Irish people, we do know that when the Celts arrived they continued to view New Grange as a sacred site, the home of Aengus Og. A festival for Aengus Og this time of year would be to bring joy to the darkness of winter. Being a god associated with youth and lovethis should be a rather fun event.
A third option is to take the secular activities that go on during the Christmas season (that is the most common term for it) and expand them into one that meets your religious needs. As an example my group uses this time of year to celebrate our patrons. This is reflective of the attitude that this time of year is focused on family and gifts so holding a ritual to give and receive gifts from your patron is perfectly appropriate for our culture.
So here are three ideas for you to consider for a festival at the winter solstice. You could make offerings to the Cailleach in the hopes that she blesses you with a mild winter. You could also hold a festival for Aengus Og to bring some light to the darker months. Finally you could celebrate the family. While none are traditional, what is new can eventually become tradition.
Note – There are many who make offerings to the Cailleach at Samhain which is also appropriate.
It’s a normal day at work when disaster strikes. The roads are clogged with cars, no one is moving but everyone is trying to get home or away. You are wearing a suit, dress shoes and stuck 45 miles from your home with no way to get back to your family. Except, that’s not true. You are capable of walking, you know the route and you have maps…and you have a pack with all the supplies you need for three days on the road. You can get home. Welcome to part three of my undead rising survival posts.
In a compartment in your car you should have everything you need to get from your work to your home as quickly and safely as possible even without a vehicle. I have seen this kit call a ‘get home bag’ and since I actually do wear dress-shoes and a tie and work 52 driving miles and across two rivers from my home I have put one together.
I started with a smallish military pack with lots of places for straps and several pockets. It is much smaller than the Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag as it will only contain what I need to get home over a two day hike. To this I added the same 2-day disaster kit used in the Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag, called the Lifeline 1 Person 48 Hour Essentials. I chose this kit because it is a self-contained unit with 8 drinking water pouches, 2400 calorie food bar, a poncho, a space blanket and a few other items that may come in handy. Knowing it is not enough water for the 4-5 day hike i have added a LifeStraw and a canteen.
Survival over the four days assured, now I need to get home and wearing a suit and dress shoes is not going to cut it. So I will be changing into an old pair of sneakers, jeans, and a cap that are stored with the pack. I chose an older pair of sneakers that are still in great shape because I know I can walk long distances in them without harm to my feet. Do not buy a new pair of shoes for this, as they may cause you more harm as you break them in. The jeans are just any pair of jeans I store in my car with my equipment for just such a situation. In the pack you should also have at least four pairs of socks and underwear so you can change them daily on the way home. This is not only for comfort but the new socks will help keep your feet healthy.
Attached to the pack is a US Army Patrol Bag in a waterproof stuff sack. After-all you are going to take a few days to hike 45 miles so you need to be prepared to sleep someplace. Be sure to look for shelter that is unoccupied and allows for easy escape should you have to get out quickly. The sleeping bag is rated down to 30 degrees so coupled with the space blanket, so long as you stay dry, you will stay warm.
Other necessities I threw into this pack are an LED flashlight with batteries, a Swiss army knife with a locking blade and can opener, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste and a first aid kit. Hygiene is often not something regular people think about when planning for a disaster, but hygiene not only makes us feel better but keeps us healthy. Feeling clean and healthy on our trek will help us stay focused on the task at hand; getting home to our families.
This pack is truly just the basics, you can include any number of items to make the journey more comfortable or safer. You should customize the pack based on the areas you have to traverse as well, some places are safer than others and some have better options for shelters than others. You have to decide what you are willing to carry, use, and store in your car for long periods of time. All in the hope you never have to use any of it.
* There is also a pre-made pack that meets most of the needs given above from Lifeline if you don’t want to put the kit together yourself.
Ready – http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
FEMA – http://www.fema.gov/media-library/resources-documents/collections/344
What follows is a checklist for putting this kit together.
(1) Water filtration straw/system
I started this series with the unlikely, for me, event of having to quickly evacuate my home and head onto the wilds of the Appalachian mountains. Since I do not expect to have to flee from zeds, reds, or feds putting the Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag together is mainly just an exercise in preparedness. It is far more likely that an event will occur that will require me to go without electricity or running water for an extended period of time, such as what occurred after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Given such an event if you are even minimally prepared and the conditions remain safe, you can remain home for as long as you have the supplies. Minimal preparation means different things for different people. For purposes of this blog minimal preparation means you have a equipment and supplies to remain in your home without electricity, running water or gas for at least three weeks though my family’s plan keeps us in place for up to three months.
By being at your home one of the three main necessitates is already covered – shelter. However, you should probably secure your shelter from invasion by boarding up lower windows and making your presence visible in some way. This will help deter looters who may take advantage of the situation if you happen to live in a more urban environment. If you live in a more rural area this is less of an issue. You should also pull out your Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag as their are some items in there that you can use in this situation.
The government states that you need at least 1 gallon of water per day per person for drinking and sanitation. So you will need to ensure you have a regular water supply, whether it is the city water that is still functional or a creek/river that has not flooded. Without a water supply you can not stay in your home for an extended period of time. If you pre-plan you can store jugs of water for up to 6 months, so if you have the space store as much water as you want. To augment whatever you have stored you can get a special emergency drinking water storage tub liner that can hold up to 100 gallons. Due to the way our water system works, unless the main near you home has broken you will have time during and shortly after the disaster to fill your tub liner. If you do live near a creek having a water filtration system (from your Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag) will ensure you have a constant source of water, even without city water functioning. A well will pose a particular problem if you lose electricity, which I will cover a little later. In a pinch you can also drain the pipes and hot water heaters. Never drink water from boilers, radiators, water beds, swimming pools or flooded rivers and streams.
Given a water supply that is reliable and long term, food becomes the problem. To prepare for a long term event you have to store food, even if you have a small farming plot. To properly plan for this you have to already know how long you are willing to stay in your home after a disaster without a functioning grocery store near by. You can augment your stored food by having a farming plot on your property, livestock or even hunting. However, these are unreliable sources so it is best to have at least a minimal supply for stored food. In my plan we have decided that our limit is three months so unless it is spring through early fall we won’t be growing much of our own food. So we have invested in a 4 months supply of specially prepared foods with 25 year shelf life at a cost of about $1500.00. The pre-packaged foods we have chosen allow for a great variety of meals and snacks, are easily augmented with fresh or canned foods and can be eaten without heating, though probably pretty bland. We have also planned for our pets to have a regular food supply of kibble for the same period of time.
|The Thunder Pole|
Sanitation is the next problem one has to confront once your basics are met. If you have a regular water supply you can continue to use your septic or sewage system by using buckets of grey-water or river water to flush the toilets. The best source for toilet flushing water is the water used to clean dishes, clothes and bathing. If you want to be truly prepared for this situation you can invest in a compost toilet that you can bring out and the resulting compost can be used to maintain your gardens. If sewers lines are non-functional and you do not have a composting toilet then your last resort is to dig a pit or use the thunder-pole and ditch methods. If you do go this route place the sanitation pit as far away from living quarters as is safe and away from water sources. Never put toiletry products into your composting toilet or sanitation pits.
Food preparation is something we considered in our plan. Right now we have several methods that can be used during the initial days and weeks of the event. Having done a lot of camping using propane stoves, I can tell you that two large propane tanks to power stoves and grills will last you a few weeks easily. Without propane you will have to resort to cooking over a fire, either a fire pit outside or a fireplace indoors. This means you will need a wood supply, so be sure you have an axe and saw in your shed so you can go out and cut down tree’s. Do not tear down peoples houses, one day people might want or be able to return to their homes.
Always know what is going on in regards to local emergency response. Situational awareness will keep you alive. Pull your radio out of your Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag and be sure to listen to what is going on, you may have to pull out quickly. In the go-bag the example I gave was a multiband emergency radio receiver but you can also opt for a two-way GMRS radio that has built in NOAA, FM/AM and crank charger for the rechargeable batteries. What is important is that you can receive emergency broadcasts.
The next major item in my plan for this break from civilization is a generator. The generator won’t last more than two weeks without a regular source of fuel but it will help make those initial weeks much more comfortable and if you are on a well for you water supply,
that can make a huge difference on whether you stay or leave. I have a 5000 watt unit with a 10 gallon tank that if running at max, will last 12 hours, however we won’t need to run it at max. Another option is to have a dual-fuel unit that runs on natural gas and gasoline which would allow you to operate it without concern until the natural gas flow ceased. You will also want to store some fuel for the generator, but look to local ordinances for how much gasoline can be stored together in a single place. If you do have a generator, then you will want to test it regularly and have a plan as to what it will power in the event of an emergency. In my situation it will power a gas furnace, until the gas stops flowing, the refrigerator, a freezer and the sump pumps. It can also power the router and computer if internet connectivity is still available. We found that 10 gallons will last about 48 operating hours running these items 18 hours a day, and with a large enough fuel supply this is plenty given as you run out of items to keep frozen or refrigerate you can disconnect appliances.
Seeing as you are staying in your home, there are some items that you should already have to aid in you in staying safe and comfortable. Flashlights with several replacement batteries, as well as covered candles and matches or lighters. Your home should already have a first-aid kit, to which you should add dust masks just in case particulates get sent into the air. You should have plastic sheeting, or tarps with duct tape to aid in creating safe uncontaminated spaced within your home should the need arise. And these are just examples.
Preparing to shelter-in-place can be as simple or as prepared as you wish. There is also no excuse to not be even a little prepared when several government agencies, non-profits and even “radicals” have published lists upon lists upon instructions on what to do to be ready. You do not have to be a prepper, believe in zombies or fear the government to be ready. You just have to recognize that disasters have already happened, and will happen again. If you have done nothing else, go to READY and read what they suggest, or go back and read about the Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag so you have some of the bare minimum items on hand.
*Revenant Cataclysm(TM) is a term by Kym Lambert
Ready – http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
FEMA – http://www.fema.gov/media-library/resources-documents/collections/344
I do not consider myself a ‘prepper’ or a ‘survivalist’. I do not expect the world to fall apart anytime in my lifetime. However, natural disasters do occur and putting in some time and money to be even a little ready is harmless. So, I did an exercise in preparedness and this post is what I came up with for two people evacuating their home without a destination.
911, Katrina, Sandy, three events that have left even the least most paranoid person with a sense that something could happen that would force one to flee their house, community or even the region. Or maybe you don’t want to flee, you want to shelter in place. In either instance you have to have a plan. Part of the training of the Féinnid is to put together such a plan, to include what some call a bug-out kit. A kit with everything you need to survive in urban and rural environments with minimal planning. This post is about my bug-out kit in instances where sheltering in place is not an option.
The kit I put together has a higher cost than is necessary as I did purchase a couple all-inclusive-kits such as medkits and survival kits which you may be able to put together cheaply once you know all the contents. Everything fits into or onto a single backpack or can be slung over the shoulder independently without too much trouble. Weight wise the kit comes in at less than 30 pounds without clothing or toiletries that would have to be added at the time of departure.
When deciding to do this I had to figure out what exactly my plan would be and then build to that. What I came up with was a worst case scenario in which I have less than 24 hours to evacuate and no place to evacuate too. This meant preparing to live in primitive conditions for at least 48 hours with a mind towards a hike into the mountains.
The next choice was water, food and shelter. For water and food I chose a kit that was designed for 1 person for 48 hours. In it are water packets as well as 2400 calorie ration bars. I also added a LifeStraw, water purification tablets, and a 2 liter canteen as it is clear that the water provided in the kit would not last long if the weather is hot.
Shelter can be a small tarp held up by a single stick, or you can purchase a small 2 man single pole tent . Part of the shelter is your sleeping bag, and for this I specifically suggest the US Army Patrol Bag stuffed into a waterproof case and strapped to the lowest part of the backpack. You should also throw in a space blanket to add to your ability to stay warm, these often come with survival kits and first aid kits if you go that route.
You will need a fire starting kit, not only to heat up food but to aid in warmth and safety. Fire starting supplies should begin with a phosphorous fire starter kit and water proof matches. Add to that some sort of saw, machete or hatchet to make wood collection go easier. Also you may want to add an entrenching tool or folding shovel to dig a firepit making it easier to conceal and put out.
Put together a small first aid kit or buy one from any camping store. With a little research you may be able to build one yourself rather inexpensively. You should plan for this to contain a lot of supplies for cuts, gashes, strains and sprains, and possibly a broken bone. So be sure to include gauze, tape, splints, gloves, medicated ointments and of course alcohol. Your muscles will be sore if you have to hike due to traffic jams so also include pain killers.
You will need to know where you are going and plan to not have GPS. Be sure you have current maps of your region and the region you intend to get too as well as a compass and a flashlight. If you don’t know how to read a map or use a compass, don’t wait until a disaster strikes. Learn some basic orienteering now.
Knowing what is going on in the world is just as important as survival. You will need a radio receiver that operates on something other than an electric plug. The one I chose is from Sportsman’s Guide and has a crank that charges the batteries but can also run on solar and when fully charged will be able to charge up a cell phone, assuming you can get service.
What you wear will help protect you from animals, insects, and the elements. While I do not suggest you pre-pack all of your clothing you can pack a few items. Underwear and socks are the easiest items to pre-pack and you should pack at least 3-4 pairs of each. Your socks should be good well made socks made for hiking. When disaster does strike you should be putting together pairs of jeans, long sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes. If it is cold be sure to add inner-wear such as thermal underwear, it will get cold.
Once you have the above kit put together you can add items to it that will help you survive longer or more comfortably. For eating have added a military messkit, eating utensils and a can opener. I added 50 feet of parachute cord in case things need to be tied down, or hung up in a tree. I also added a LifeStraw Family Filtration System, since I will be with my family and it is much easier to fill up canteen with this and I don’t like water purification tablets. I also added a large fixed-blade knife to the pack for large cutting jobs, such as dressing an animal or carving into wood.
The more controversial items you may choose to include are firearms and gas masks. A gas mask is only going to be useful during civil disturbances in urban areas so while I have them I expect to dump them once I get into the woods and use the bag to carry other items. A firearm could be anything from a hand gun to a shot gun, but it should only be taken if you know how to use it. Most people I know would take a long arm so they could use it to hunt and this is probably the best reason to have it. Remember to carry ammunition for the firearm as well.
This seems like a lot of stuff that takes up a lot of space so you will want to keep your pack well organized. This means that when you pack your backpack you are going to want to compartmentalize as much as possible. Placing items into smaller sacks or cases within the backpack or putting smaller items in pockets on the outside of the will make it easier to find and keep like items together. You will also move some items from the pack to other locations when you hit the road. For example, the canteen and gas mask can be carried on your belt or on the strap that comes with the case freeing up a lot of space inside the backpack for clothing and more food should you decide to carry it. As it stands right now with my pack fully packed, less the clothing, there are still 4 empty pockets outside the pack as well as several liters of space inside the pack.
If you think of anything missing that is a must have or even just a comfort leave a comment. With climate change and an increasing level of violence in our society you never know when you will have to bug-out, and we can all use all the help we can get.