OPED – Celebrating the Frost? Let’s not.

Yesterday a man died. That man advocated for ritual initation of post-pubescent minors into his brand of Wicca via sexual intercourse. He never backed down from this position. While never charged with a crime, the very advocacy of this particular crime makes him a disgusting individual that should not be honored.

We should not be celebrating this mans life. He died.

Time to forget him.

Good riddence Gavin Frost.

Gentlidecht: A Sharing of “Aisling, Ársaíocht, agus Agallamh” in response to the Lore vs UPG debate.

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.

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Old and Deep – The nature of Manannan as I have experienced it.

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:

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Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha – Festival of the Rivers 2014

Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha
Ayluh Ow-wen-uch-ah)

Collect the items from the items
list (end of the document.)  Outdoor rituals shall be
organized based on availability of fire with the fire alter being at the center
and everything else in relation to its location.  For indoor rituals the main alter should be a
table on which symbols of the gods and ungods, the Apple Branch, the representations of the Hearth Fire, Well of
Wisdom and Bile, the seers bowl, saining smudge, and the apples are
places.  For both indoor and outdoor
rituals a smaller table should be placed in a convenient location, on
which the offerings shall be placed in order of need to facilitate a smooth

ritual leaders should be selected for the follow roles:  Guide, Druid (1,2,3, etc.), and Seer.  Roles will overlap and others created as
needed. Prior to the ritual the Druids should light the flame, fill the well
with fresh water, and place whatever tools are needed on the altar.  
A bell
is tolled three times calling the folk to the nemeton.
of Purpose

At Lúnasa
we gave thanks to Lugh and told the story of how he made Bres teach man the way
of agriculture.  Now we are mid-harvest
and at this time it is only proper to give thanks to the goddesses of the lands
from which our harvest comes.   The rivers of Maryland are the lifeblood of our
agriculture, industry and family lives.  They have provided water, food, and means of
transportation for thousands of years and yet we forget their importance. Let
this ritual and festival serve as a reminder of their importance and that a
spirit inhabits these lands and deserves our thanks.
today we have come together to pay tribute and honor the life giving waters of
our rivers.  Whether it is to irrigate
the fields, turn the turbines of a power plant, provide running water to our
communities; the rivers are the sources of life in any community.  Today we honor the goddesses of the lands on
which we live and rely upon for our survival; Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna,
Gunpowder, Patuxent and all of their tributaries and runs.


the land beneath us
the sea surrounding us
the sky above us
come unto the gods and ungods.
they light our way and
our days,
A guide
is selected to lead this guided meditation. 
Going through it with a calm voice and steady voice.
Guide: Close your eyes clear your
mind and focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly visualizing the
spiral of the cosmos around you.
Guide: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór.            
Guide: Inhale and as you exhale visualize your feet firmly planted on the
Guide: We stand firmly upon the
Sacred Land.
Guide: Inhale again and as you exhale imagine you are surrounded by the great
calm ocean.
Guide: The Eternal Sea always
surrounds us.
Guide: Inhale and exhale seeing the great blue expanse above you.
Guide: The Endless Sky spreads
itself above us.
Guide: Inhale while visualizing the great spiral around you, with you at its
Guide: We are at the center of An
Thríbhís Mhór. 
Guide: And breath, open your eyes when ready.
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
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.
the Sacred Grove
Hearth Fire
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,

Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
Let the tree be the bile,       
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,

D1: puts butter on the fire, then
I light
the sacred fire of inspiration.  Sacred fire, burn within us.
Well of
Druid 2
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,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
Let the tree be the bile,       
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D2: dips the apple branch into the
well then says:
In the
depths flow the waters of wisdom. Sacred waters, flow within us.
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,
Let the flame be the hearth fire,
Lets the water be the Well of Knowledge       
Let the tree be the bile,       
I stand in the grove at the center of the realms,
D3: dresses (takes water from well
and pours it or rubs it on the tree) the bile, then says:
the depths to the heights spans the world tree. Sacred tree, grow within us.
D1: raises arms
D1: With the Flame of the Hearth,
the Well of Knowledge, and the Sacred Bile the grove is erected and hallowed.
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.
the Gods and Ungods
D2: Mighty dead, you who have come
Ancestors of our blood,  Heros of our people
We offer you this gift with love and loyalty and invite you to witness this
D2: makes an offering and says: Ancestors,
accept this offering.
Aos Sí
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.
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 offering and says: Aos
Sí , accept this offering.
Gods of
the Tribe
D3: Great gods, you who are
mightiest in all things,
Deities of our faith,
We offer you this gift with reverence and honor and invite you to witness this
D3: makes an offering and says: Gods
and goddesses accept this offering.
D1:  Potomac, Patapsco, Susquehanna, Gunpowder, and
Patuxent born of the mountains you flow to the Chesapeake bringing with you – life.  Because of you we can irrigate our fields,
power our homes, and provide fresh water to our people.  For these things we give you thanks and
gratitude we make this offering of the fruits of our harvests. 
D1: makes holds up the offering
and says:  Blessed goddess of the
land, accept our gift.
Seer: Ritually washes their hands
then forms the left hand into a tube, blows through the tube then says:
I am
going within
To the doorstep of the sí
in the name of Finn
Stronger in sight then all.
augury made by Finn to his men,
That Bride blew her palm,
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
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.
Tell me
what I need.
Seer: then takes the omen,
interprets it, and records it.
the blessings of the Gods and Ungods
D1: raises the blessing plate/cup
high and says:
de Danaan
Aos Sí , (ees she) and An Sinsear  (en shen-shoor), we have praised you
and made offerings and now a gift calls for a gift. 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.
the Gods and Ungods and Closing the Mists
D1: We have given gifts to the gods and ungods
and received gifts in return.  Take these
blessings into the world and use these them to live fruitfully and with
honor.   At this time we have come to the
closing of this ritual and will give thanks to those who have come to aid 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, 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.
D2: Mighty Rivers, these are your
lands and here you shall remain.  We thank you for attending and accepting
my offerings of peace and respect.
down the Sacred Grove
D1: 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.
love and laughter light your days,
warm your heart and home.
good and faithful friends be yours,
you may roam.
peace and plenty bless your world
joy that long endures.
May all
life’s passing seasons
the best to you and yours!

All: Biodh Se!    (bee-shay)

Items List:
Bell or gong for calling the folk to the temple
Juniper bundle for saining the attendees. 
Representations of the Hearth Fire, Well of Wisdom
and Bile.
Bowl with fresh water and ogham staves for the seer.
 Butter for
the consecration of the fire
Apple Branch for consecration of the well
Cup for water from the Well of Wisdom to consecrate
the tree.
Offerings to the gods and ungods
Apples for the blessings on the folk.
Basket or bowl to collect offerings during indoor
River Goddesses
Mac Lir
water grasses, yellow flower
of Place
de Danaan

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.

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.

Thoughts on the Otherworld – Where we go when we die.

Not everything about gentlidecht
comes from doing research and applying it to the practice.  Some of it has
to come from being thoughtful.  One such situation is the Otherworld, its
existence, and what happens after death.

There is no need to really go into the literary existence of the
Otherworld.  You can read the stories for yourself or get a copy of “The
Otherworld in Early Irish Literature” by David Spaan which goes into great
detail on the subject.  In fact, according
to Spaan there are 116 names for the Otherworld in the literature, most of
which are island or even other countries such as Spain or Egypt (Spaan 428-29). The question one
has to ask is: does the Otherworld exist outside of literature?  Anecdotally the answer is yes.  There is some sort of ‘other world’ that is inhabited
by other beings, simply by virtue of the existence of the gods and ungods. If
one believes that these other worldly being exist, then it stands that they
would have to live someplace.  Since we
do not see them in the physical realm then there must be another place in which
they live.  If we look to the literature and
folklore, this place is beneath the waves and under the hills.

Experientially the answer is also yes. 
There is an entire practice of ‘journeying’ to the Otherworld to meet
with the beings that live there for guidance. 
The experiences of those who have done this work increases the anecdotal
evidence of another realm outside of our own in which other beings exist.

So assuming the Otherworld exists, and that there are beings that live there
and that is where the gods reside.  Is
that also where we go when we die? 
Looking to the stories and strictly speaking from the stories the answer
is no and yes.  In Spaans research there
is no indication that the dead go to any of the 116 named locations that are
the Otherworld.   However, there is a place not named in Spaans
research that is given as a dwelling place of the dead, Tech nDuinn, the House of Donn.  Arguably this is also an Otherworld but what
is important to note is that it is not the same Otherworld location where the
gods and other spirits reside.  There is
some argument as to whether or not the dead move from the House of Donn to
another location but that is not the focus of this article.  From my perspective, according to the
literature when we die, we pass to Tech

Is that it though?  Is
that the answer?  This is where reconstruction
based Neopagan religions start to fail, including gentlidecht, but not because they do not provide the answers because
they do.  The failure is that most of us
don’t really believe the literature 100%. 
We don’t take it to heart. Despite our use of the literature to inform our practices and beliefs, we are more pragmatic about death and what happens

For me the answers are a mix of ideas.  When we die, we pass over to some other place;
I will call it Tech nDuinn. Where we
enjoy the company of others and maybe meet the gods and other spirits.  Then, at some point we are born again as
mortals…someplace…sometime.   In the end
(heh, see what I did there) it is a personal thing.  What we believe happens after death is what
WE believe based on our own experiences, ideas and values. 

The truth is waiting.  

Spaan, David Bruce. The Otherworld in Early Irish
. Ann Arbor: Univeristy of Michigan, 1969. PDF.

Daily Declaration of a Féinnid #1

An affirmation is a positive self-empowering statement that should be said daily .  They have probably always been around for a long while but became a ‘thing’ in the New Age movement.  As part of our spiritual lives many make affirmations and I support this, and we should make affirmations part of our daily ritual.
As  féinnidi we should do more.  We should declare ourselves to the gods daily our role and remind ourselves who we are and why we do what we do.  This first declaration focuses on the Otherworldly aspect of fénidecht and is a prayer that can be done anytime or anyplace.

Warrior, hunter, poet, seer, outsider, I am what
is feared by the ‘things that go bump in the night.’ With truth in my heart,
strength of my arms, and constancy of my tongue, I walk the boundary between
worlds and stand at the borders guarding against the unknown. Armed against
those who wish to harm; I am the wolf, I am the prey, I am the wild hunt.
 I am a guardian between the realms, a wild beast in the wood, a féinnid
in the service of my people.

*Writing requirement for OOTW course *koyros1 

Processional Prayer of Introduction

Féinnidi protected the community from invaders, from this world and the Otherworld.  When standing outside a ritual space modern Féinnid should do the same.  Here is a poem I wrote years ago for Pagan Spirit Gathering.  I would say it as the participants would process into the circle for the larger rituals.

Finn, Chieftain of the Fiana hear our call.
For we stand at the boundary between Order and Chaos, the civilized and the wild.
As the tribe gathers we come to observe and protect. 
We shall fear no man, nor beast, and nor spirit. 
We shall challenge any who come to do the people ill.
Gods and ungods of the people, know that we are here and we are allies.
With spear and shield we will protect the people, aid the people and sacrifice ourselves for the people.
We stand at the boundary between Order and Chaos, the civilized and the wil

*Writing requirement for OOTW course *koyros1