Gentlidecht: Outsiders/Outdwellers

In Part 1 of the Outlaw/Outsiders series, I talk about the mythological Fianna protecting Ireland from outsiders, this includes foreigners from other lands and Otherworldly beings bent on harming the people of Ireland.  In the stories these beings are not given a special name and by there nature, Otherworldly beings are ‘outsiders’ to our world so for purposes of this article and discussion the term ‘outsiders’ will only represent those beings that are hostile and/or disruptive to us.  In most ADF groves they include a section of the ritual where they make offerings to the outsiders as an offering to appease or make peace with them so they do not interfere with the ritual.  Others portray the outsiders as negative emotional baggage carried by the ritual attendees which is cleansed by the appeasement of the outsiders.  In the version of Gentlidecht
I practice we view the outsiders as beings not emotions, and we do not make offerings to them during the normal course of our rituals.

Among the various Irish Polytheist folk, treating with the outsiders is something that varies from group to group and the reasons for and against are also varied. My group of genti have chosen to not include offerings to the outsiders for a few of reasons.  Reason number one is that we have no evidence that I am aware, of the pre-Christian Irish doing such things.

Of course absence of proof is not proof of absence so that leads into the fact that in the legends such beings were dealt with by other outsiders, in Ireland’s case the Fianna lead by Fionn mac Cumhaill, not the members of society.  Trained specialists who could travel between the worlds to deal with the hostile forces in an effective, and deadly manner.  They did not bribe them, they defeated them. So reason number two is, it is not the place of the community to keep the hostile outsiders at bay, but the responsibility of the ‘friendly’ outsiders.

Finally we do not wish to call to them or attract them with goodies and create a situation of ‘blackmail’ in which we have to constantly provide for them.   This situation is not obvious to most but for those groups that have regularly made such offerings in the same space for a period of time, the area used begins to develop a ‘darkness’ about it that doesn’t go away without some serious work.

There is a way for those who wish to include some sort of acknowledgement of the outsiders to do so without creating a ‘hostile’ zone.  I have already pointed out that in legends there are beings whose job it is to defend against outsiders.  If you wish to include an outsider section in your rituals my suggestion is to make the offerings to a defender being and not the ‘hostile’ forces.  Two such beings would be Fionn mac Cumhaill and Angus mac Og who both have qualities of being an outsider or defender from outsider forces.  This way you are asking for the being to protect you from those things that are not friendly to what you are trying to accomplish.

During the development of Gentlidecht na gCuain we have chosen to not include a section for the ‘outdwellers/outsiders’ in our rituals for three clear reasons.  One is that we have no evidence that it was part of ancient Irish Pagan rituals, the legends show that it was other outsider beings dealt with outsiders rather than anyone within the community, and because anecdotal evidence shows that having a regular place where offerings are made to hostile outsiders develops a relationship of blackmail, bribery and an unfriendly space near the ritual.

 

Gentlidecht Holiday Cycle

In Irish legend there are only four documented feast days: Samain, Imbolc, Beltain, and Lughnasadh or Brón Trogain, as it is called in Tochmar Emire (Wooing of Emir.)  As a result many folks who identify as Celtic Reconstructionists of the Irish persuasion only celebrate those four days as their annual religious cycle. However, neolithic sites, folklore, and evidence in other Indoeuropean cultures show that something could have been going on at other times of the year and just not mentioned by the monks who wrote down the Tochmar Emire.  Further, being a modern religion there is no reason why groups or individuals can’t have feasts and festivals specific to their religious practice.  What follows are a few examples of feasts and festivals folks in the CR community have added to their ritual year with links so you can do further research.

March 17 – Hero-Feast of Cú Chulainn:  Promoted by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus (PSVL) blog posts and a Facebook Page this Saint Patrick Day alternative is gaining popularity. 

March 25 – Latha na Cailliche: While the festival is Scottish in origin there is no reason why followers of Gentlidecht can’t also make offerings to her as she is found in Ireland as Cailleach Beara.  Being a goddess associated with the winter and storms it may not be a bad idea. Brian Walsh goes into some detail on his blog.

June 17 – Hero-Feast of Suibhne Geilt: Another feast day promoted by PSVL this one is for the legendary Irish king who was afflicted by the curse of a saint (one called Rónán), went mad as the result of being adversely affected by the spirits of battle, and then lived in the wilderness for many years, taking on bird-like characteristics, and occasionally uttering inspired nature poetry.

June  25 (or Summer Solstice)  – Midummer, Paying Rent to Manannan and Lá Fhéile Oirbsen (Law Ayluh Oribsheen) are all terms that can be applied to a holiday that many Irish polytheist have taken on to honor Manannan Mac Lir.  The practice comes from the June 25th Manx tradition of paying rent (in the form of rushes) to the first king of the Island so that he does not allow the sea to rise up and swallow the land.  Many examples of rent paying rituals can be found with a simple search.

September 20 (or Fall Equinox) – Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha (Law Ayluh Ow-wen-uch-ah) or the Festival of the Rivers.  This is a festival day I devised to give thanks to the local land goddesses during the harvest season. Just as the Boyne and Shannon are goddesses in Ireland, the rivers in North America are goddesses and we should thank them for the life they bring to our land.

Varied Sept – Nov – Hero-Feast of Finn mac Cumhaill: The third Irish hero feast proposed by PSVL’s blog. Now my placement and reason for this feast do vary from PSVL, and I expect to do a post about it in the future in some detail.  For now though, I place what I will be calling Lá Fhéile Finn mac Cumhaill around the start of deer hunting season in hopes for a good hunt.

Decmber 13 – Lá Fhéile Badhbh:  This feast is celebrated by Faoladh who has yet to fully explain it other than to say “it’s got to do with werewolves.”

In addition to the major feast days of, Oíche Shamhna (Eekhuh Hownuh), Lá Fhéile Bhríd (Law Ayluh Vreedj), Lá Bealtaine (Law Byaltinyuh), and Lá Lúnasa (Law Loonuhsuh), and any monthly feasts held,  genti could have a busy year of festivities that would be the envy of any other Neopagan religion.
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If you are interested in developing feasts and holidays of your own, I encourage you to read the books listed below to get started.

Danaher, K. (1972). The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs. Dublin: Mercier Press.

Ó Súilleábhain, S. (1977). Irish Folk Custom and Belief. Cork: Mercier Press.

Building Community Part 3 – Comparing and contrasting two group organization models: tribe and congregation

For years I have seen folks in the Celtic and Germanic/Norse
reconstructionist communities refer to themselves as tribal and I assumed what it mean when compared to groups that functioned more as congregations.  During recent discussions on organization I thought that maybe I and others didn’t really know what was meant when people said they were tribal or said they used a congregation model.  So I did
an informal poll, interviewed some folks I know, and asked folks on FB to tell
me how the tribe model is different to the congregation model based on their
own understandings of both.  The results
were interesting and contradicted my own perceptions of the deep divide between
the two models of organization.  
Once I completed the poll, interviews and wound down the FB
discussions I was able to put together a list of traits that each model
held.  In order to find common traits
among the various responses I had to be very general in the descriptions as I
did not want to get into the minutia of how these groups implemented the traits
else I would have too many versions of a tribe or congregation to make the
conversation even possible.  

Let me first list the common traits among the groups that
identify as using a congregation model.

  • Holds public and/or private religious events.
  • Holds public and/or private social events.
  • Culturally specific.
  • Shared values; ethics, religion
  • May or may not seek legal and tax legitimacy.
  • Membership goes through some sort of screening process that requires approval
    of other members/leadership body.
  • Attempts to foster close ties and connections among the membership.
  • Is not attempting to reconstruct ancient social structures.
  • Does not identify itself as a tribe or tribal group. 

Pretty generic, straight forward and all together boring as
far as lists go.  Now let’s look at the
common traits held by the tribe model.
  • Holds public and/or private religious events.
  • Holds public and/or private social events.
  •  Culturally specific.
  • Shared values; ethics, religion
  • May or may not seek legal and tax legitimacy.
  • Membership goes through some sort of screening process that requires approval
    of other members/leadership body.
  • Attempts to foster close ties and connections among the membership.
  • May or may not be attempting to reconstruct ancient social structures.
  • Identifies itself as a tribe or tribal group.

I hope you are as surprised as I am with the results.  There are just two differences between the
two models and only one that is concrete.   I do feel that as obvious as they are, the
differences should be explained as I chose the language of each trait carefully.

During these discussions and interviews I found instances of tribes trying to rebuild ancient social structures such as roles in society (druid, brehon, fili, etc), and fostering, adoption or marriage into the tribe. But I also found tribes that did not have any desire to reconstruct ancient societal structures though they may use terms such as chief for the leader.  On the flip side none of the folks using congregation as a model were interested in making such a reconstruction.

The last line is the concrete difference between groups are tribal in nature and those that are not.  The wording is such because groups that do not identify themselves as tribal may or may not
identify themselves as a congregation though they look like one functionally. 
This could be because they want to avoid using the term due to immediate Christian associations, didn’t really
understand it’s meaning in context of the discussion, or just never thought about what model they were using.  In any case what did stand out is they
specifically do not consider themselves to be a tribe, so that is how I worded
the common trait. 
The point of this was to identify how the two models
differed, and while it succeeded in doing so it shows more how the two models
can be so similar that the only thing different between them is whether or not
they identify themselves as a tribe.  I
will admit my assumptions have been shattered and when someone says they
support a tribal model, I will have to ask more questions before deciding to
run the other direction.
NOTE – There are some exceptions to everything.  For the sake of demonstrating the exception there is a tribe in Florida that is NOT culturally specific but has sub-groups that are culturally specific.  The tribe itself has created it’s own unique common language and culture to account for the varied groups and bring them together.

Lá Lúnasa Ritual

Wanted to get this out BEFORE the festival date this time. 

CLICK!

Lá Lúnasa
Preparation
The
participants gather the following offerings 
Local
River Goddesses
Corn
meal
Manannan
Mac Lir
Alcohol
Mighty
Dead
Food/bread
Spirits
of Place
honey/sage
smoke
Tuatha
de Danaan
Alcohol
Lugh
Harvest
Foods
The
folk
Apples

Prior
to the ritual the participants should light the flame, fill the well with fresh
water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
Gathering
A bell
is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemed.
Opening
Prayer
May the rains sweep gentle across the fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed planted bear fruit,
And late summer find us among fields of plenty.
Centering
Meditation

D1: Close your eyes clear your
mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the
spiral of the cosmos around you.
D1: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór.            
   
ah-heeveesh-vohr
D1: Inhale and
as you exhale visualize your feet firmly planted on the earth.
D1: We stand firmly upon the
Sacred Land.
D1: Inhale
again and as you exhale imagine you are surrounded by the great calm ocean.
D1: The Eternal Sea always
surrounds us.
D1: Inhale and
exhale seeing the great blue expanse above you.
D1: The Endless Sky spreads
itself above us.
D1: Inhale
while visualizing the great spiral around you, with you at its center.
D1: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór. 
D1: And
breath, open your eyes when ready.

Honoring
the Local Land Goddesses
D2: We honor the Five Rivers, the goddesses of the land;
Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna, Gunpowder, and Patuxent.  Givers of life
that flow from the mountains and form estuaries of the Chesapeake
 
We
honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your waters that
nourish this land.
    
   
D2: makes an offering and says: Mighty
goddesses of the land accept this offering.
Statement
of Purpose
Imagine if you will it is The
Second Battle of Moytura, Lugh has slain his grandfather Balor of the Baleful
Eye and now he and his men have found the vile King Bres who wished to
negotiate being spared.
Bres said: ‘It is better to give
me quarter than to slay me’.
‘What then will follow from
that?’ says Lugh.
‘If I am spared the cattle of
Erin will always be in milk’.
‘I will ask our wise men of this”
, says Lugh.
Hence Lugh went to the brehon,
and said to him: ‘Shall Bres have quarter for giving constant milk to the cattle
of Erin?’
‘He shall not have quarter’,
saith Maeltne; ‘he has no power over their age or their (offspring) though he
can milk them so long as they are alive’.
Lugh returns to Bres saying:
‘That does not save you, for you have no power over their age and their
(offspring) though you can milk them’.
‘Is there aught else that will
save you Bres?’ asked Lugh.
 ‘There is in truth. Tell your brehon that for
sparing me the men of Ireland shall reap a harvest in every quarter of the
year’.
Said Lugh to the brehon: ‘Shall
Bres be spared for giving the men of Ireland a harvest of corn every quarter?’
‘No, this will suit us, the
spring for ploughing and sowing, the beginning of summer for the strengthening of
corn, and the beginning of autumn for reaping of it. Winter for consuming it.’
Returning to Bres, Lugh says: ‘That
offer does not rescue you, but less than that may,
 ‘What?’ says Bres.
‘How shall the men of Ireland
plough? How shall they sow? How shall they reap? After making known these three
things thou wilt be spared’.
‘Tell them’ says Bres ‘that their
ploughing be on a Tuesday, their casting seed into the field be on a Tuesday,
their reaping on a Tuesday.’
With that, the men of Erin learned
agriculture. 
So now comes the harvest and we
tell this story as a reminder of the magic that is the cultivation of food and
how man had to learn to harness the power of the land and the sun.  We give thanks to the gods for the guidance
in making the harvests possible.
Establishing
the Sacred Grove
Sacred
Hearth Fire
Druid
1:
I make
sacred the fire,
The first fire born of lightning
from which all fires are lit.
The hearth fire which warms our homes
and binds our people.
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts oil on the fire, then
says:
I light
the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within me.
Well of
Segais
Druid 2
says:
I make
sacred the well,
From which the five rivers flow,
Salmon swimming, hazels hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of wisdom,   
               

I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: taps the well then says:
In the
depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within me.
World
Tree
Druid 3 says:
I make
sacred the branch/tree,
Towering high, hanging heavy with hazel,
Spanning and connecting the Three Realms,
The mighty bile of the grove,
       
               
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses the bile, then says:
From
the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within me.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth,
the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting
the Mists
D1: prepares an offering for the
gatekeeper and says:
D1: says: We honor Oirbsen
(orib-sheen), Manannan, Patron of our tribe, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of
Tir na mBan (
teer na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld.
 Oh Lord of the Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, hear us
this day and aid in the passage of the ancestors through the misty veil.
D1: makes an offering and says: Manannan
mac Lir, accept our offerings and gratitude as you part the mists.

(mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
D1: Let the mists be parted!!
All: Let the mists be parted.
Inviting
the Gods and Ungods
An
Sinsear  
(en
shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come
before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí
 
(ees-shee)
D1: Great nature spirits, you who
frolic in the wild world,
Spirits of this place,
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
Spirits
of family and the people that came to this land from faraway lands.
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
D1: makes an offerings and says: Aos
Sí , accept this offering.
Gods of
the Tribe
D3: Great gods, you who are
mightiest in all things,
Deities of my faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this
rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods
and goddesses accept this offering.
Key
Offering
D1: Lugh,
Master of all trades, King of the gods
You who slew Balor and defeated Bres.
You who through victory brought us ploughing, sowing and reaping.
Hear us.
Mighty Lugh we give thanks for the gifts you have given mankind
and come with an offering of the fruits of our work.  We bring you this harvest, from our own
fields and the fields of our community.

D1: makes an offering and says: Lugh
accept this offering.
The
Omen 
Seer: Ritually washes their hands
then forms the left hand into a tube and blows through the tube then says:
Gods
over me, gods under me,
Gods before me, gods behind me,
I am on your path oh gods.
    You, my gods, are in my steps.
I am
going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
The
augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
Did you see the augury gods of art?–
    Said the gods of art,  they saw.
Message
of truth without a message of falsehood
That I myself shall see
The semblance, joyous and mild
Of all that is hidden to me
Good
spirits and gods of my people,
Give me the sight to see all I need,
With vision that shall never fail, before me,
    That shall never quench nor dim.
Seer: then takes the omen,
interprets it, and records it.
Receiving
the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup
high and says:
Tuatha
de Danaan
(tooah-de-danyan),
Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you
and made a sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and we pray to you and ask that
you give us your blessings.  Make sacred these apples and infuse them with
your vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the
blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
D1: Slices and eats the blessed
apple and passes it around.
Thanking
the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have called upon the Gods
and Ungods and they have answered.  With love and loyalty we carry the
blessings into our daily lives.  As we prepare to depart let us give
thanks to those who have aided us.

D1: {more praise for Lugh}
D3: Tuatha de Danaan, gods of our
tribe, we thank you for your presence and blessings.  
D1: Aos Sí, these are your lands
and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting our
offerings of peace and respect.         
           
D2: Mighty Dead, thank you for
attending and accepting our gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return
to the Otherworld.  .
D1: Manannan, today we celebrated
you and gave you praise and offerings.  We thank you for your attendance
and parting the mists.  We ask that you allow the mists to fall as our
ancestors pass back into your realm.    
D1: Let the mists return and the
veil be whole.
D1: Mighty Rivers, these are your
lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting
my offerings of peace and respect.
Taking
down the Sacred Grove
D1: We came and honored the
Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors and now the Sacred Grove must be taken
down. We honor the Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.  We honor the Well
of Segais and restore it to water. We honor the bile and restore it to branch.
 All is as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled. The ritual is ended.

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

A Féinnid Training Program – A Link

Preparedness for anything is a key feature of the modern féinnid, and to be prepared you have to train.  Working with the ADF training material with additional material specific to the féinnid, I have put together a training program for a proposed Order within ADF.  While this Order is being discussed by the leadership I can’t share the training material but with a select few who have influenced its development.  However being a blog about being a féinnid, I think it important to share training material with the readers and I have just learned that another féinnid has just posted her training outline.

I invite my readers to head over to the website Shadow of the Hooded Crow and check out the training program written by Saigh Kym Lambert, “Outlaw Warrior Path Training“.  If you do like her work let her know, make a donation, and please respect her intellectual property.

Opening the Gates / Parting the Mists

Just a quick something to start off the month…

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In ADF rituals there is a section in which a gatekeeper is called to open the gates between the worlds.  In the version of Gentlidecht I practice we do the same, asking Manannan to ‘part the mists’ between our world and the Otherworld.  Despite the similar practice the reasoning and even the mental visuals of the practice are very different.

The most common understanding of the ADF practice appears to be that they are opening triple gates between the worlds via the hallows which is most commonly a tree, well and the required fire.  The opening of the gates allows the various beings to move freely and the free flow of energy.  I have seen some state that the opening the gates is what makes the ritual sacred by opening the space to the realms of the gods, spirits and ancestors. This is not how we Genti understand things nor is it what we believe.

In Gentlidecht the Otherworld is something that exists along side ours.  Access to it can be via the sea, though doors in mounds, by entering caves, or even by passing through a magical mist.  In the legends it is where the gods and spirits live, and the dead go after physical death and that it has more than 70 names.  The legends also tell us that the gods and spirits can come and go as they please without any need for a guide or for someone to open the door for them.  There is not much said on the subject of the dead, except that at Beltaine and Samhain the veil between our world and the land in which the dead reside is the thinnest and that the dead can walk freely among the living during these periods implying that they can’t open the ways between the worlds on their own. As if the legends alone are not enough, experiences have taught many that the gods are imminent and that the spirits of nature are always around us.  So inviting them to witness and accept our worship would not require any gates to be opened at all, except for the ancestors.

Leading us to the reason why in Gentlidecht we ask Manannan to part the misty veil.  He is aiding in making it possible for the ancestors to come into our world.  Visually you can imagine a thick mist that stands between the Otherworld and ours, what I call the Cloak of Manannan, being blown by wind and thinned making it possible to see into and eventually cross through.  When the veil is thinned or parted the ancestors are able to move freely between the worlds.  Of course it is not necessary for Manannan to part the mists at Beltaine or Samhain since during those periods the veil is already so thin the ancestors can come through on their own.

What is interesting to note is that there is no Indo-European precedent for this practice or belief.  In fact there is a story in ADF that the reason they do it is because the organizations founder saw the gates being opened in an Afro-Caribbean ritual and thought it would be a good addition.  As a result there are Celtic Reconstructionists that do not include a section to ‘part the mists’.  Despite the lack of evidence within Indo-European rituals there is enough folklore in the Irish material hinting that the ancestors are unable to move freely between the worlds (except at Beltaine and Samhain) so we will continue to ask Manannan for his help with the ancestors.

If you have another perspective on the ‘gates’ in ritual please post it in the comments section of this blog.

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Note – For purposes of the blog I am clearly differentiating between ADF and Gentlidecht.  The reality is ADF Druidry is not a monolithic belief but each grove and individual within ADF can have very different beliefs and practices.  Five Rivers Protogrove, ADF is an ADF grove that practices Gentlidecht, meaning we use the ADF ritual structure but our understanding or reasons for doing certain parts of the ritual may vary from the more common understandings published on the ADF website.

Féile Manannán – Midsummer Ritual

 I put the following ritual together for my Protogrove to use as part of our Midsummer celebration for Manannan Mac Lir but due to vacation schedules performed it alone at the edge of the Chesapeake near my office.  Some parts of the ritual are taken from the “Paying Rent” ritual written by my friend Erynn Laurie.

Féile Manannán

Preparation
The participants gather the following offerings 
Local River Goddesses
Corn meal
Manannan Mac Lir
Alcohol
Mighty Dead
Food/bread
Spirits of Place
honey/sage smoke
Tuatha de Danaan
Alcohol
Manannan Mac Lir
Rushes, yellow flowers, meade or food.
The folk
Apples

Prior
to the ritual the participants should light the flame, fill the well with fresh
water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
Gathering

A bell is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemed.
Opening Prayer

In the honor of Manannan mac Lir, to the fruitfulness and profit
of our plantings and our work, in the name of the gods and ungods we offer
blessings to those gathered here.
Centering Meditation

D1: Clear your mind and focus on your
breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the spiral of the cosmos
around you.
All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.    
           
ah-heeveesh-vohr
As you exhale lower yourself and place a palm of your hand on the
ground.
All: We stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.
As you inhale, rise to your feet, moving the hands behind at hip
height, palms up, cupping. Exhale and move the hands in an arc until they meet
in front.
All: The Eternal Sea always surrounds us.
As you inhale, move your hands to the sides, spread the fingers
wide, palms forward. Exhale and raise the arms, bringing the hands together
above the head, thumb & forefinger meeting to create a triangle.
All: The Endless Sky spreads itself above us.
Inhale; lower the hands to the heart again.
All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór. 
Exhale; lower the hands to the sides
Honoring the Local Land Goddesses
D2: We honor the Five Rivers, the goddesses of
the land; Potomac Patapsco, Susquehanna Gunpowder, and Patuxent.  Givers
of life that flow from the mountains and form estuaries of the Chesapeake.
 
We honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your
waters that nourish this land.
    
   
D2: makes an offering and says: Mighty
goddesses of the land accept this offering.
Statement of Purpose

D1:  At Saint John’s Eve, near Midsummer on
the Isle of Man, the people paid rent to Manannán mac Lir, the first king of
the island. The Manx Traditional Ballad says:
“If you would listen to my tale
And if you thought the narrative pleasant
As best I can with my mouth
I shall speak to you of the blessed Isle
Who was the first man who possessed it
And how came it to him
How Patrick sent the first Christian
And how it came to Stanley
Young Manannán, son of Lir
That was the first man who possessed it
As far as I can see
He was nothing but a heathen
Not with his sword did he defend it
Nor with his arrows nor his shield
But when he saw ships a-sailing
He would hide it round about with mist
Some would go, bearing their rushes
Up to the summit of the great mountain Barrule
Others used to leave their rushes below
With Manannán upon Keamool
Until Patrick came among them,
Who was a mighty man filled with magic art,
He drove Manannán into the sea
With his evil company, unjustly”
The ballad was written by Christians, yet Patrick is described as
driving out Manannán unjustly. To this day Manannán’s name is regarded with
reverence on the Isle. Rent for the Isle of Man was paid to him in rushes,
though the word may also translate as flags or wild irises. Some went to the
top of Barrule, Inis Man’s holy mountain. Others paid their rent at the
seashore.
Though we do not live on the Isle of Man, Manannán is for us the
keeper of the gates between the worlds, the lord of mists who allows us passage
in our journeys through the Otherworlds, and teacher and guide for our tribe.
And so it is at this time that we pay for our passage by giving honor and
offerings to Manannán mac Lir. We bring him food and drink, and we bring him
yellow flowers to symbolize gold and jewels for his pleasure.
Establishing the Sacred Grove

Sacred Hearth Fire
Druid 1:
I make sacred the fire,
The first fire born of lightning
from which all fires are lit.
The hearth fire which warms our homes
and binds our people.
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts oil on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn
within me.
Well of Segais
Druid 2 says:
I make sacred the well,
From which the five rivers flow,
Salmon swimming, hazels hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of wisdom,   
               

I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: taps the well then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow
within me.
World Tree
Druid 3 says:
I make sacred the branch/tree,
Towering high, hanging heavy with hazel,
Spanning and connecting the Three Realms,
The mighty bile of the grove,
       
               
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
           
Let the tree be the bile,       
               
   
(bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree,
grow within me.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of
Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting the Mists

D1: prepares an offering for the gatekeeper and
says:
D1: says: We honor Oirbsen (orib-sheen),
Manannan, Patron of our tribe, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of Tir na mBan (
teer
na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld.  Oh Lord of the
Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, hear us this day and aid in
the passage of the ancestors through the misty veil.
D1: makes an offering and says: Manannan mac
Lir, accept our offerings and gratitude as you part the mists.

(mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
D1: Let the mists be parted!!
All: Let the mists be parted.
Inviting the Gods and Ungods

An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí  (ees-shee)
D1: Great nature spirits, you who frolic in the
wild world,
Spirits of this place,
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
Spirits of family and the people that came to this land from
faraway lands.
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
D1: makes an offerings and says: Aos Sí ,
accept this offering.
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan)
D3: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all
things,
Deities of my faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this
rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods and
goddesses accept this offering.
Key Offering

D1: Manannán mac Lir, Lord of Mists, Lord of the Sea and of Change,
Rider of Aonbharr the Splendid-Maned, hear us.
Shapeshifter, holy trickster,
Keeper of the Gates between worlds, hear us.
Manannán mac Lir, Lord of Wisdom
Father of Mongán, armorer of Lugh,
Keeper of the Crane Bag of Wisdom and Secrets, hear us!
Patron of our grove, protector of our tribe.
Guardian of wisdom and knowledge, hear us.
Manannán mac Lir, King of the Land of Women.
Husband of Fand, lover of Aine,
Keeper of the Cloak of Mists that drowns all sorrow, hear us.
Husband, lover,
Guardian and beloved of women, hear us.
D1: makes an offerings and says: A Mhanannán,
accept our offerings! Hear our prayers and share in our joy and celebrations on
this night that is dedicated to you.
The Omen 
Seer: Ritually washes their hands then forms the
left hand into a tube and blows through the tube then says:
Gods over me, gods under me,
Gods before me, gods behind me,
I am on your path oh gods.
    You, my gods, are in my steps.
I am going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
The augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
Did you see the augury gods of art?–
    Said the gods of art,  they saw.
Message of truth without a message of falsehood
That I myself shall see
The semblance, joyous and mild
Of all that is hidden to me
Good spirits and gods of my people,
Give me the sight to see all I need,
With vision that shall never fail, before me,
    That shall never quench nor dim.
Seer: then takes the omen, interprets it, and
records it.
Receiving the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (ees
she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you and made a
sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and we pray to you and ask that you give us
your blessings.  Make sacred these apples and infuse them with your
vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
D1: Slices and eats the blessed apple and passes
it around.
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have called upon the Gods and Ungods and
they have answered.  With love and loyalty we carry the blessings into our
daily lives.  As we prepare to depart let me give thanks to those who have
aided us.
D3: Tuatha de Danaan, gods of our tribe, we thank
you for your presence and blessings.  
D1: Aos Sí, these are your lands and here you
shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting our offerings of
peace and respect.         
           
D2: Mighty Dead, thank you for attending and
accepting our gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return to the
Otherworld.  .
D1: Manannan, today we celebrated you and gave you
praise and offerings.  We thank you for your attendance and parting the
mists.  We ask that you allow the mists to fall as our ancestors pass back
into your realm.    
D1: Let the mists return and the veil be whole.
D1: Mighty Rivers, these are your lands and here
you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings
of peace and respect.

Taking down the Sacred Grove
D1: We came and honored the Gods, the Spirits
and the Ancestors and now the Sacred Grove must be taken down. We honor the
Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.  We honor the Well of Segais and
restore it to water. We honor the bile and restore it to branch.  All is
as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled. The ritual is ended.

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

The Trouble with Wicca a /rant

So the title got you here but for full disclosure let me say right off the bat there is no trouble with Wicca.  In fact, the trouble seems to be with folks who are not Wiccan but make a point of denigrating Wiccans at every turn.  The following is a bit of a rant on the reality of people denigrating Wiccans or wiccanate (Generic Neopagans who tend to follow a Wiccan model of ritual and belief) folks.

/rant on

If you have followed this blog for even a day, you know I am not Wiccan or even wiccanate.  I am and have been a dyed-in-the-wool Celtic Reconstructionist for 20+ years.  Like most people my age, I got my start in Wicca, Seax Wicca to be exact, but within a few short years I became a polytheist and left Wicca behind.  Like my leaving the Catholic Church the break was undramatic, so I didn’t develop any anti-Wiccan sentiment until I became entrenched in the CR community.

Even being in the online company of folks who did not like Wicca did not really make me think ill of that religion.  I just never voiced my concern of the sentiment and allowed myself to be dragged into the discussions about how Wicca did everything wrong from a CR perspective.  Some foolishly even went the route that somehow CR was better because our faith was based on what we knew of the pre-Christian people, meanwhile Wicca was made up by a ‘dirty-old-man’.   Seemed just as odd then as it does now – that a group faiths that are totally fabricated using archeology, history, mythology, ect. could think it was any better than one created using folklore and ceremonial magical systems.

Since then, I have moved way beyond the idea that a reconstrucitonist faith is better or that there is something wrong with Wicca.  In fact, Wiccans and those of a wiccanate faith are the hero’s of Neopaganism and should be treated as such.  They have broken ground in every aspect of Neopagan civil rights and lead the rest of the community in all organizational actions to support and enforce religious freedom for all Neopagans (and yes, reconstructionists are also Neopagans.)  Three groups that stand out are Sacred Well Congregation (Neopagan circles on military bases), Circle Sanctuary (lawsuit to get the Pentacle on VA headstones) and Covenant of the Goddess ….all of them Wiccan and all of them in the for front of fighting for religious rights or bringing Neopaganism out of the closet.  Of course there are others but these three come to mind as the oldest or most successful.

So why then do I still see non-wiccanate people making disparaging comments about Wiccans?  I am not just talking a random reconstructionist on Facebook but community leaders who should be doing outreach with other Neopagans, Neopagan churches and even interfaith organizations.  When suggested they get in touch with a certain well know “Big Named Pagan” the response is, “Oh, I just don’t want to deal with those Wiccans.”  Seriously??

Yes…seriously.  Seriously get over yourself…and get over whatever it is that has caused you to think you are somehow better than Wiccans.  Whether you are a reconstructionist voicing an opinion on social media or the leader of a Neopagan church – without Wiccans paving the way for the rest of us, we would not be able to be so vocal.

Anti ANY other religious group has no place in Fénidecht or Gentlidecht.  In fact, it is these wiccante groups and pan-Neopagan festivals where one would most likely function as a féinnid during ritual.

Guarding the boundaries between the worlds for ALL is what being a Féinnid is about.  So let go of your biases, accept that you will not agree with every faith, and get over yourself just enough to work with others who may be a little ‘lighter’ than yourself.

/rant off

*story slightly modified to maintain anonymity of the individuals being referenced.

A “Hidden” Purpose of Imbolc

Back in 2011 and over on Patheos, an associate of mine wrote on article on an alternative purpose for Imbolc.  I have referenced it in a few of my blog posts but I have not yet really promoted the article as something related to the outsider warrior.  So today I attempted to re-blog the post for you but for some reason the code at Patheos is failing and so….all I can do is provide a link and say: “PLEASE, go read this article.”  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pantheon/2011/02/the-hidden-imbolc/

The reason I am posting this now, as opposed to January or February is that I am presenting this material at Pagan Spirit Gathering 2014…just a couple weeks away.

So again, go read this article AND come see me at PSG if you happen to be there.

Sorry I could not re-blog it but, a click is easy right?

Lá Bealtaine

Bealtaine was done with my grove co-founders as part of our ‘practice’ runs for ritual.  So this will be the first publication of a multi-participant ritual.  It ran fairly smoothly, we identified some changes to be implemented for the next ritual to make things run even smoother.  The only incident was the juniper smudge stick going up in flames due to the breeze igniting the embers.

What follows is the ritual.

Lá Bealtaine

(La Beltina)
Preparation
The participants gather the following offerings
Local River Goddesses
Corn meal
Manannan Mac Lir
Alcohol
Mighty Dead
Food/bread
Spirits of Place
honey/sage smoke
Tuatha de Danaan
Alcohol
Beings of occasion
 Alcohol
The folk
Apples

Prior to the ritual the participants should light the flame, fill the well with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
Gathering
A bell is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemed.
Opening Prayer
Bless those minding cattle,
And those minding sheep,
And those fishing the sea
May the rains sweep gentle across the fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed planted bear fruit,
And late summer find us among fields of plenty.
Centering Meditation
D1: Clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the spiral of the cosmos around you.


All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.                                      ah-heeveesh-vohr

As you exhale lower yourself and place a palm of your hand on the ground.

All: We stand firmly upon the Sacred Land.

As you inhale, rise to your feet, moving the hands behind at hip height, palms up, cupping. Exhale and move the hands in an arc until they meet in front.

All: The Eternal Sea always surrounds us.

As you inhale, move your hands to the sides, spread the fingers wide, palms forward. Exhale and raise the arms, bringing the hands together above the head, thumb & forefinger meeting to create a triangle.


All: The Endless Sky spreads itself above us.
Inhale; lower the hands to the heart again.

All: We are at the center of An Thríbhís Mhór.

Exhale; lower the hands to the sides
Honoring the Local Land Goddesses
D2: We honor the Five Rivers, the goddesses of the land; Potomac Patapsco, Susquehanna Gunpowder, and Patuxent.  Givers of life that flow from the mountains and form estuaries of the Chesapeake.  
We honor you and make this offering to you in gratitude for your waters that nourish this land.                       

D2: makes an offering and says: Mighty goddesses of the land accept this offering.
Statement of Purpose
D1:  Summer has finally arrived and as we begin the light half of the year the foci are fertility and growth.  In Ireland our ancestors would build great bonfires and herd the animals between the fires to bless them on their way to the summer pastures.  The druids would bless the fields that had been planted since Imbolc all in efforts to produce a good crop.  We honor Aine, the sun, and the rivers for without whom there can be no growth.
As a fledgling grove we extend those blessings of fertility and growth to our own efforts of community building.  We planted the seeds of our new community at the Solstice and now we have to promote the growth while keeping out the weeds; divisiveness, insincerity, stagnation. We honor Nuada, great chieftain of the gods who ruled with wisdom, whose blessings on our grove will aid in growth.
As individuals we ask for blessings upon our attempts at personal growth.  To help us nurture positive relationships that facilitate our growth as understanding, caring, and forgiving people. We honor Ruad Rofessa, the keeper of knowledge whose blessings will aid each of us to be wise in our choices.
Establishing the Sacred Grove
Sacred Hearth Fire
Druid 1:
I make sacred the fire,
The first fire born of lightning
from which all fires are lit.
The hearth fire which warms our homes
and binds our people.
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge
                                                         
Let the tree be the bile,
                                                                              (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts oil on the fire, then says:
I light the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within me.
Well of Segais
Druid 2 says:
I make sacred the well,
From which the five rivers flow,
Salmon swimming, hazels hanging high.
Bubbling brightly Segais, source of wisdom,
                                                     
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge
                                                         
Let the tree be the bile,
                                                                              (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: taps the well then says:
In the depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within me.
World Tree
Druid 3 says:
I make sacred the branch/tree,
Towering high, hanging heavy with hazel,
Spanning and connecting the Three Realms,
The mighty bile of the grove,
                                                                   
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

All:
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge
                                                         
Let the tree be the bile,
                                                                              (bill-uh)
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses the bile, then says:
From the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within me.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth, the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
Parting the Mists
D1: prepares an offering for the gatekeeper and says:
D1: says: We honor Oirbsen (orib-sheen), Manannan, Patron of our tribe, Lord of the Mist, Ruler of Tir na mBan (teer na man), Guardian of the gate of the Otherworld.  Oh Lord of the Otherworld, bearer of the silvered apple branch, hear us this day and aid in the passage of the ancestors through the misty veil.
 D1: makes an offering and says: Manannan mac Lir, accept our offerings and gratitude as you part the mists. (mah-nuh-nahn’ mak leer)
D1: Let the mists be parted!!
All: Let the mists be parted.
Inviting the Gods and Ungods
An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor)
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come before,
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this rite.
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors, accept this offering.
Aos Sí  (ees-shee)
D1: Great nature spirits, you who frolic in the wild world,
Spirits of this place,
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
Spirits of family and the people that came to this land from faraway lands.
We offer you this gift in friendship and invite you to witness this rite.
D1: makes an offerings and says: Aos Sí , accept this offering.
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan)
D3: Great gods, you who are mightiest in all things,
Deities of my faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this rite.
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods and goddesses accept this offering.
Key Offering
D1: Áine, hail to you, sun of the seasons.
As you traverse the skies;
Your steps are strong on the wing of the heavens,
You glorious mother of the stars.

You lie down in the destructive ocean
Without impairment and without fear;
You rise up on the peaceful wave-crest
Like a queenly maiden in bloom.

Áine, of the summer sun we honor you.

All: Áine, of the summer sun we honor you.

D2: Nuada, hail to you, wise leader of the gods.
You guided your people from the North;
Defeating the chaos and taming the land,
Resigning per the laws of the gods.

You of the Silver Hand,
Restored to glory
Again resigned in wisdom,
Showing true Kingship.

Nuada, chieftain we welcome you.
All: Nuada, chieftain we welcome you.
D3: Ruad Rofessa, hail to you, keeper of knowledge.
You are the wisest of the gods
The Good God you are skilled at all things,
You of the red eye glowing.
Possessor of Undry and Uaithne
You provide nourishment of both body and mind
Most wise and knowledgeable
An Dagda.

Ruad Rofessa, god of great knowledge we honor you.

All: Ruad Rofessa, god of great knowledge we honor you.
The Omen
Seer:   
Seer: Ritually washes their hands then forms the left hand into a tube and blows through the tube then says:
Gods over me, gods under me,
Gods before me, gods behind me,
I am on your path oh gods.
            You, my gods, are in my steps.
I am going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
The augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
Did you see the augury gods of art?–
            Said the gods of art,  they saw.
Message of truth without a message of falsehood
That I myself shall see
The semblance, joyous and mild
Of all that is hidden to me
Good spirits and gods of my people,
Give me the sight to see all I need,
With vision that shall never fail, before me,
            That shall never quench nor dim.
Seer: then takes the omen, interprets it, and records it.
Receiving the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup high and says:
Tuatha de Danaan (tooah-de-danyan), Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you and made a sacrifice. A gift calls for a gift, and we pray to you and ask that you give us your blessings.  Make sacred these apples and infuse them with your vitality, strength and inspiration.
Lo, the blessings of the Gods and Ungods are upon us.
D1: Slices and eats the blessed apple and passes it around.
Thanking the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have called upon the Gods and Ungods and they have answered.  With love and loyalty we carry the blessings into our daily lives.  As we prepare to depart let me give thanks to those who have aided us.
D1: Áine, you are the light of our days.  We give you praise and thank you for your blessings.
D2: Nuada, noble chieftain.  We thank you for your blessings. 
D3: Ruad Rofessa, mighty red one your blessings shall guide us in our actions. Thank you.
D3: Tuatha de Danaan, gods of our tribe, we thank you for your presence and blessings.  
 D1: Aos Sí, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting our offerings of peace and respect.                                                             
D2: Mighty Dead, thank you for attending and accepting our gifts.  Pass back through the mists and return to the Otherworld.  .
D1: Manannan, thank you for your attendance and parting the mists.  We ask that you allow the mists to fall as our ancestors pass back into your realm.    
D1: Let the mists return and the veil be whole.
D1: Mighty Rivers, these are your lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting my offerings of peace and respect.
Taking down the Sacred Grove
D1: We came and honored the Gods, the Spirits and the Ancestors and now the Sacred Grove must be taken down. We honor the Hearth Fire and restore it to flame.  We honor the Well of Segais and restore it to water. We honor the bile and restore it to branch.  All is as it was and the Sacred Grove is dismantled. The ritual is ended.

All: Biodh Se!            (bee-shay)