Monday, April 26, 2010

A Charm for Beltaine

Bright Fire kindled, Blazing!
Seed Springing; Love Flowing
Luck Bringing; Wight Knowing;
I keep the Feast of Bealtaine!
Mound Mother, Mead Woman, you I call
Green and Gold Goddess
Womb of All Kindreds, Lover of Heroes
Take now my offering, here at my Fire
Son of the Mother, you I call
Wonder Child; Sweet Enchanter
Harper and Singer and Heir of the Chieftain
Take now my offering here at my Fire
Beautiful Kindreds, this is your honoring
Clooties I tie in salute to your power
To bless the blossom on the branch
I tie this clout for the Kings in the Hall
I tie this clout for the Queens in the Hall
I tie this clout for all the beings of this Land
Be with me Nature Spirits, Noble People
And grant your blessing to my year.
So, all you Powers, I give you welcome at my Fire. Let your light be reflected in my spirit, let your ale flow in my veins. I raise this glass to you, and drink to your divine power. Let me know the health, wealth and wisdom of the Gods and Spirits on this holy feast of Bealtaine! So be it!

It is best to find a flowering tree on which to tie the three clouties. The clouties can be as slight as three threads, though strips of cloth are better. These should be in three colors as you prefer. The offerings to the Deities can be oil or incense as usual.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Druid's Wand

Ran into a great post on wands and magic over at Rune Soup; Adventures Beyond Chaos Magic and that reminded me that I haven't posted this article on the meaning of the Wand outside of an elemental system. So, here it is...

There is no symbol more central to the ancient image of the Druid than the wand or scepter. While wands bear a big load of cultural baggage, it is useful for our work to set all that aside in favor of a more archaic understanding. Multiple tales and traditions refer to rods, wands and staves borne by wizards, rulers, heralds and bards. In the Nine Moons work the Wand is a central tool of the Druid’s Work, and we will approach it in several ways.

The Wand as Prayer Stick
There are many examples of the use of rods or bundles of rods as ritual implements that represent or enable prayer or invocation. Bundles of rods are held by priests in Persian rites and were carried in Roman ceremony. Greek custom used single rods or wands in the hand of the priest at the altar, and that seems to be the case in the North as well, where stories describe Druids as bearing wands of various sacred woods.
Your own Slat Draoi (Druid’s wand) is the tool by which you send a voice into the Otherworld. While you can surely invoke with your voice and power alone the Wand acts as an amplifier and a torch that makes your call stronger. To raise the wand to call to the Gods is to participate in a ritual gesture as old as our ancestors’ ways.

The Wand as Tool of the Heaven Power
In this system of ritual magic the Cauldron of Blessing is the tool and vehicle of the Underworld Power while the Druid’s wand is the tool and vehicle of the Power of the heavens. We make the Vessel of Blessing first, just as Chaos precedes Cosmos in the World Order. Of course we should not limit these cross-functional tools to being mere signs of the powers. Both partake in both the Fire and Water. The Cauldron alone is a powerful tool for practical magic, in which you have already combined the Fire and Water to make talismans and blessings. Combined with the complementary power of the Wand the two become a balanced system that puts the powers of the Cosmos in the Druid’s hands.
One of the core symbolic associations of the Wand is the Thunderbolt of the heavens. The Sanskrit vajra, the Hellenic double-trident lightening-bolt, the Celtic Gae Bolga (Lightening-spear) all tie the divine scepter into the shining, swift power of the sky.
This wielding of the Fire of the Sky underlies the other two primary IE symbolic contexts of the Wand. As a tool of invocation the Wand is a beacon of light and a spark of kindling. As a scepter of authority the Wand bears all the power of the ritual Sacred Fire itself.

The Wand as Scepter
The most clear ancient meaning for rods, wands and staves is as symbols of personal, societal and sacred authority. At every level of ancient society the rod is the badge of power. The symbol of the wand is cross-cultural and, apparently, archetypal, appearing in both high mythic tales and more folkloric sources.
The Magician’s God is described as carrying a wand or ‘branch’. Math ap Mathonwy uses his wand first to transform Gwydion and Gilvaethwy into beasts and then to test Arianrhod’s virginity. Manannan macLir bears the Silver Branch that leads the way to the Otherworld. Of course Hermes famously bears his ritual scepter, the caduceus
On the human level the wand staff or scepter is a central symbol of authority. Some say that its history stretches back into stone ages, when artisans made shaped and drilled stone heads for maces – some of which were almost certainly ceremonial, if also usable as weapons. The scepter of the king is a stylized mace, but in the smaller realms of Gaelic tribal kingship a simple white wand was frequently the king’s emblem. In the same way the king’s authority was carried by his herald in the form of a ‘peeled white hazel wand’. Druids are constantly described with wands. We are safe in assuming that social and legal authority, as well as spiritual power, was conveyed by the wand.
This should lead us to pause, and consider what it means to take up this authority in ourselves, and how it is we think it might be ours to wield. First we must set aside any concern over seeming presumptuous - it is the magician’s presumption, the focused will, which characterizes this personal spiritual path. From there we take up our power as Druids and magicians in several ways:
• Doing the Work. In the last months of the Nine Moons work you have consistently lit the Fire and made offerings to the Spirits, invoked the Gods and brought the power into the world. This work in itself demonstrates that you have authority, the authority of skill, of effort, of experience. To reach this point in the work, as you hallow the Wand, means that you have regularly been a Druid of the Fire.
• The Sacred Fire. In making and working a Druidic Grove we light and bless our sacrifical Fire, a key center of our ritual acts. In Gaelic lore one of the primary uses of ritual fire is to claim a piece of land for ownership by an individual or clan. In the same way when a Druid lights a ritual fire, we claim the immediate ground for our personal authority and control. The Wand is, itself, the presence of the Heaven’s Light, just as is the Fire and so when the Druid bears the wand we bear that same claim of authority, right where we stand, and wield it in hand.
• The Da Fein. To the degree that we know and act with the authority of the Divine in Us, so we act with the power of a god – however minor that god may be. In this way we act as heralds and agents of the Da Fein, and bear its authority in our wand. Thus while the God in Us may serve us, we surely serve it, as well.

Grasping the World Tree
In taking up the Wand, you are choosing to grasp the World Tree itself. More than any other personal tool the Wand connects with the Deeps and Heights, and offers the chance to rise to the occasion of the power it offers. The Druid’s Wand is a beacon of the Sky Power and a root of the Underworld Power, though which we send our call to the Otherworld and by which we display our authority among the spirits.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Knowledge & Conversation – Seeing & Hearing the Spirits

A short excerpt from instructions in the Nine Moons work. Progress report on that system to follow shortly...
In the work of the Nine Moons the student is taught how to invoke and meet the Familiar, an ally from among the Nature Spirits, as well as an Ancestral Teacher, and the Gods of the Grove. They have also begun a formal search to meet and know the Da Fein, not just as a general power but as a personal and specific spiritual guide.
These four spiritual contacts comprise a sort of personal pantheon of the Druidic magician. They stand as personal portals or heralds, strengthening the ability to contact and work with the Kindreds. Of course we make our common ‘religious’ offerings throughout our Druidic path. We give to the Kindreds and receive their Blessings in turn. While this serves well for the common good we seek from a public sacrifice, a working Druid can gain much from a more personal relationship with the spirits.
This system uses formal ritual to open the relationship with the Allies, but the development of that relationship requires time and attention. Modern mortal life does not readily lend itself to the mental states that allow spirit contact. The rites, meditations and trances in this program intend to prepare the mind for that contact.

Seeing the Spirits
The spirits display themselves in many ways, each according to the spirit and nature of the human who calls to them. It may be that within their realms and among themselves the spirits have no shape like a material form at all. For the Druid this means that seeing the spirits is more likely to be a gradual process of discernment than a sudden revelation.
The first efforts at meeting an ally should be approached without expectations. Those who hope for a flash of light and a voice of thunder are likely to be disappointed. An approach based on patience and humility is likely to produce results. The experience of a spirit is likely to be different for every individual. The thing to keep in mind is that the spirits have no fixed form, and that your perceptions of them happen in the Threshold, where imagination meets the Otherworld.
Throughout the work, you have been learning to enter visionary trance, entering the vision-environment we refer to as the Threshold. It is in the Threshold state, or environment, that you will first come to speak with and see the forms of the spirits. The techniques of standing out of the body, of Opening the Inner Eyes while standing in the material body, and of Passing the Mist should be practiced until they are easily accomplished. The Dual Sight – the combined vision of the Inner Grove and the material ritual space – is a primary skill of this method.
In early callings do not assume that failing to perceive the spirit means that it has not come. It is not unusual for a spirit to approach the Druid’s Threshold space, but not to appear visibly in any detail at first. Of course it may be equally likely that the Druid’s Inner Eye is simply not yet sharp enough to behold the spirit, even if it has come to the call. The first impressions may only be of personality or vague presence. Even if this is faint the Druid must begin by simply assuming that the spirit is present.
When you sense a clue to the presence of the spirit it is time to apply your imagination, gently composing a form by will or according to tradition. You may find yourself surprised by details, or specifics may escape you still. The process of moving from shadowy general shape to a more detailed and specific form simply takes as long as it takes.
Working with the Familiar offers what may be an easier approach to discerning a spirit form. By asking our ally to appear in animal form we provide a vocabulary of forms well-known to us. It is, perhaps, a simpler matter to envision the detail of a spirit eagle or fox than to perceive all the detail of human form and garb.

Speaking With the Spirits
The approach to hearing the voices of the spirits is similar to that used for seeing their forms. Our minds are often full of a multitude of voices. It is the task of the Druid to learn to hear the correct voices. Of course some students will be more inclined to receive answers as visions, others as voices, but even for the visual person there is something powerful about the way spirit voices resound in the mind.
For many people spirit voices are identified precisely by the sense of resounding presence they often carry. Some say that spirit voices seem to come from above and just behind the head. In many cases a spirit may speak in what seems to be your own mental voice, or that of some living person. The voices of the spirits are no more fixed than their forms. In some cases there may be no impression of a voice at all, but simply an awareness of the content of the message.

Doing the Work
Of course the two primary environments in which you will begin the work of speaking with the Allies are your personal ritual space, Nemeton or Shrine, and your Inner Grove. In both these settings you will become used to entering the Threshold, and there you can most easily commune with the allies, allowing their vision and voice to become clear to you. It is also important to learn to communicate with the Allies at will in non-ritual settings.

In time you will become used to receiving communications from your allies. Gaining this communion is a core part of the process of lifting the Druid’s mind out and away from the common trance of daily life. By gaining reliable knowledge of and conversation with the Allies, the gates can be opened to a variety of other spirit communication.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Discounts on My Books

If you've been just waiting to get your hands on my new book: Draiocht - A Book of Celtic Sorcery, or other titles, such as Toward A Pagan Mysticism or even that arcane and obscure Lovecraftian tome The Dwale of Avagddu, now is a gret time. I can offer a %10 discount on the basic price (not including S&H) of your order until April 30th. Just go to my Lulu store and shop, then enter the April code, SHOWERS, at checkout.