Druid Magic

A conversation I had last weekend started me thinking about Druids and magic. In the popular view it is often witches who are seen to wield magic, be it visions of an old crone stirring a cauldron or a set of glamorous American girls battling demons and consulting their big spell book, it is the witches who hold this power.

And in the real world of modern pagans, the view is often that to perform spells is the preserve of the witch, and furthermore that complicated spells are the only way to do it. So what about druids and magic?

At all levels of druid training, magic is present. The Bard holds the magic of words, music and creativity. Turning the base metal of ordinary words to the true gold to poetry. You may think that poetry is not real magic, so what then is a spell?  Poetry has the ability to stir in us so many emotions, and to bring vivid pictures into our minds. The Bard also learns the magic of working creatively and energetically with the elements.

The Ovate works within the magical realms of healing and seership. Using nature to bring about healing of the body, mind and spirit, and using various tools, tarot, runes, ogham etc, to see that which is hidden and what the future may bring.

The Druid is truly the magician, using magic to affect change. This may be in any of the disciplines learned by the Bards and Ovates, and may also be the more direct route of spells and ritual, shapeshifting and journeying. It seems too that science is now beginning to recognise that this sort of magic, using the mind to effect the material world, is actually possible. If you do not believe this to be so, do a little research on Noetic Science.

So the druid is many things, poet and story teller, healer and seer, shaman, priest, magician, walker between the worlds, and I count my blessings everyday that my feet found this path.

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The Druid Staff

Whenever I have attended ritual, for the past 12 years anyway, I have been accompanied by my staff, and I have often been asked, “what is a Druid Staff for?” “What does it represent?” and other such similar questions. Now I am perfectly sure that if you ask 10 druids what their staff is for (those that carry one anyway) you would get at least 11 different answers! So the only way I can answer that question is to say what my staff means to me, what I use it for, what it represents for me, in the process sharing a part of my inner self ….. so here goes!

Firstly, my staff is a very special gift, as it was carved for me by my husband for a very special ritual that we were a part of at Stonehenge in 2001 and so it contains all the elements that are important to me. Firstly, it is carved from Oak, a tree sacred to the druids of old and very special to me, being my most favourite of all the trees, being representative of strength, and also the symbol of the Druid Grade. I was not a graduate of this grade when I received this gift, but am now, another sign to me that the wood was the right choice.

The carving on the top is that of a Merlin Hawk, my spirit animal and the one I usually transform into in meditations.

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Next is a carving of my god, Cernunnos, who spoke to me long before I set my feet on a Druid path.

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Then comes an ogham inscription, which reads ‘may the sight of the hawk and the strength of the oak be mine’.

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And lastly is the carving of beautiful ivy leaves around the stem, symbolising nature, and how one life-form is used to support others.

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All these things together adds up to mean that my staff is so closely associated with so many things that are of importance to me that it feels as if it is a part of me, which is why I always take it into any ritual circle.

In addition to all this, my staff is the still point in any working that connects me to the earth on which it rests and from which it came, and also to the sky it stretched up to when it was part of a mighty Oak tree. It represents, to me my Craeb, the central pole of my spiritual dwelling and the connector between the 3 worlds.

Could I see myself going into a ritual circle without it? Yes I could, but I would rather go with it.

Upcycling

There has been a lot of talk recently of ‘upcycling’ in other words, using old items to make new items, often clothing, though not always. Its a similar idea to the old wartime slogan of ‘make do and mend.

In these days of both recession and global warming, it has a twofold purpose. It is a form of recycling, it reduces the need for new items, which uses both valuable resources and pollution heavy energy, as well as saving money by making things yourself from things you already have.

In the spirit of this idea, I have gone back to a very old craft, that used to be visible in most ordinary, working class homes as recently as half a century ago. What is it I’m taking about? Well, all I have to buy is hessian (very cheap) and it uses up all our old clothes, bedding, table linen that is past charity shopping, and I feel it enhances our living space too. I speak of nothing other than the old ‘make do and mend’ activity of Rag Rugs. It is indeed a craft that is growing in popularity once more, its very simple to do, you can make any pattern that you can imagine (and draw) and it is something that will last for many years.

To show how easy it is, here is the very first one I have made, but be assured, there will be many more, I’m hooked! (pardon the pun)

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Imbolc and Brigid

Today has been the last day of my Yule holidays before work (and the gym!) start again tomorrow. As it was my last free day I decided to write the Imbolc ritual for our group and so spent a little time looking on the internet for a prayer and while looking I found a website that seems to have most of what we know about the Celtic goddess most closely associated with Imbolc. Brigid. So I thought I would share it here 🙂

 

Triple Goddess
Brigit

http://orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/Brigit/

 

 

 

The Welsh and Irish goddess of healing, smith craft, poetry, inspiration, queen ship and healing, she was known as the “Bright Arrow or “Bright One” and was associated with fertility and the birth of lambs in the spring. The goddess of fire, wells, springs and of poets, a teacher of the martial arts and patroness of battle. The oystercatcher bird, shamrock, the rowan tree and the scallop shell were sacred to her; she is the lady of fire and sunlight. She is said to have invented whistling, and she is sometimes depicted with a caldron, symbolizing inspiration.

 

Brigit’s feast, Imbolc, is celebrated on the first of February. Imbolc, the day of union between Goddess and God. Her shrine at Kildare was maintained by 19 virgins who tended Her undying fire until almost modern times. No man was allowed to pass beyond the hedge surrounding Her sanctuary. On Her feast day of Imbolc, the universal Celtic fertility day, the Goddess Brigit kindles the fire in the Earth, preparing the way for Spring. Her power is that of fire-in-water: a power that heals and nourishes. Imbolc is the first day of Spring, mid-way through the dark half of the year. Brigit, Goddess of all creative activity, rekindles the fire in the Earth, preparing it for the reemergence of green things.

This stirring of new life is manifested by the first flowing of milk in the udders of ewes, a few weeks before the lambing season. Agricultural tools are reconsecrated for use, household fires and the fire of the smith’s forge are blessed by the Goddess. Brigit’s Crosses are made for the protection of homes. Brigit’s snake comes out of the mound in which it hibernates, and it’s behaviour is thought to determine the length of the remaining period of frost. During this time Brigid personifies a bride, virgin or maiden aspect and is the protectress of women in childbirth.

Imbolc also is known as Oimelc, Brigid, Candlemas, or even in America as Groundhog Day. As the foundation for the American Groundhog Day, Brigid’s snake comes out of its mound in which it hibernates and its behaviour is said to determine the length of the remaining Winter.

As Muse, she inspires bards with the spirit of truth.The Celts held poetry in great reverence as it was the art of divination, the revelation of secrets, and preservation of history. Her name derives from her worship by the pre-Christian Brigantes, who honoured her as identical with Juno, Queen of Heaven. Brigit also shares attributes with the ancient Greek triple goddess Hecate. She is Ruler, Bringer of Prosperity; her two sisters display the alchemical sword and tongs of blacksmithing and the twin serpents connoting medical skill. As Guardian of the forge and consort of smiths, she is the patroness of warriors. As the Lady of the Land Who knows all herbs, She is the greatest of healers.

Her Irish consort was the Dagda, she is a daughter of the Daghda. As an individual, In pre-Roman Britain, she was the tutelary Goddess of the Brigantes tribe, and like so many Celtic Goddesses, she has some riverine associations. She was conflated into Christian mythology as Saint Brigit. The great Celtic empire of Brigantia included parts of Spain, France and the British Isles. Unable to eradicate the cult of Briget (pronounced Breed), the Catholic church made her a saint, saying she was a nun who founded a convent at Kildare. The convent was known for its miracles and evidences of fertility magic. Cows never went dry; flowers and shamrocks sprang up in Her footprints, eternal Spring reigned in Her bower.

Like the Arthurian Avalon, or “Isle of Apples Brigid possessed an apple orchard in the Other world to which bees travelled to obtain it’s magickal nectar. Brigid, which means “one who exaults herself is Goddess of the Sacred Flame of Kildare (derived from “Cill Dara,” which means “church of the oak) and often is considered to be the White Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. She was Christianized as the “foster-mother of Jesus Christ, and called St. Brigit, the daughter of the Druid Dougal the Brown. She sometimes also is associated with the Romano-Celtic goddess Aquae-Sulis in Bathe.
The crone Cailleach drank from the ancient Well of Youth at dawn, and in that instant, was transformed into her Maiden aspect, the young goddess called Brigid. Wells were sacred to her because they arose from oimbelc (literally “in the belly), or womb of Mother Earth. Because of her Fire of Inspiration and her connection to the apple and oak trees, Brighid often is considered the patroness of the Druids.

 

 

  The Goddess Brigit is the Triple Goddess of Brigantia, the ancient Celtic nation which included the British Isles, Brittany and parts of Spain. She is the Brigit of Poetry and Inspiration; the Brigit of Healing through the reciting of poetry at sacred Wells and Springs, and She is Brigit of the Flame, Hearth and Smith craft. She is Goddess of the New Moon, experienced by women as a wave of renewed creativity and well-being after menstruation. Her symbol is a White Swan. Her flower is the snowdrop.  

 

Pay it forward

Although ‘pay it forward’ is by no means a new idea, tonight I saw something on Facebook, and decided to join in.

The message read “2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift – a surprise! it might be a print, it might be an item of art jewellery… There will likely be no warning (except me subtly badgering you for an address) and it will happen whenever the mood strikes. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their FB status. Let’s tear down some emotional walls…” ♥ ♥ ♥’

As instructed, I posted this on my page, and sure enough, 5 people commented, and also posted it on their own pages. How wonderful if this could go around the world, not for the gifts that people will receive, but for the positive energy that this will create. It may also encourage a few of the people that join in to extend this idea, I know it will me. Just the idea of doing something for someone else, expecting nothing at all in return.

Just think, for a moment, how much better the world would be if we could all start thinking like this, after all, we can all spare a smile or a good deed.

Blessings

This afternoon I have had the privilege to spend time with a wonderful group of people, our pagan group ‘Abus Coritani’  in a wonderful venue (the Avalon Room).

We were treated to some wonderful folktales, poems and songs from a true Bard. Such a wonderful storyteller that she had everyone, adults and children alike, completely mesmerized.

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In addition to the wonderful stories and poems, we had a visit from two gorgeous owos and their very knowledgeable owner who told us all about them.

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It was a truly magical afternoon, and it is days like this that make me really count my blessings to know so many amazing people!

(photographs by Jean D Cook)

A fresh lick of paint

My husband, Neil, is currently decorating the bathroom, and looking at it, noticing how much fresher and brighter it looks, well it started me thinking.

How would it be if we could give our lives a ‘fresh lick of paint’. Maybe we can, by simply changing our attitudes. I always try to look for the positive in any situation, but instead of simply looking for it, we ought to try and create it!

I thought this quite strongly while food shopping over the festive season. It was a few days before Christmas and the supermarket was crowded, making getting around with a trolley a little more difficult than usual. As we walked around we could hear couples arguing over such mundane things as chocolate gateaux and ice cream! It seems to take so little these days for people to get irritated and as we walked around getting what we needed, my husband and I were chatting about how sad it was that this should be so. It is supposed to be such a joyous time of year, meeting with family and friends etc, but for some people it seems to be nothing short of a nightmare, every little thing adding to the stress.

So as we shopped I deliberately ‘hiked up’ my mood (which was already good as I was looking forward to that evening’s Yule ritual) and smiled at everyone who passed, especially those who looked grumpiest, and many did not return the smile, but some did, and just for a moment I hoped that by smiling on the outside, it had a little positive effect on how they were feeling on the inside. But I have made a decision not to keep this as a Christmas activity but actively try to lift people’s mood all year round. What does a smile, a joke, a kind word or act cost? Nothing! And what better lick of paint could there be for our lives than trying to brighten someone else’s? So why don’t you join me, as they say ‘smile and the world smiles with you’. More positive energy in the world has to be a good thing!