Loosing Strife, Druid-Style

9594875574_9417ba690fThe purple loosestrife just started to bloom down by the brook. It’s an undeniably spectacular plant, bringing color to parched summer meadows and brook edges.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it blooms in the hottest months.

That’s when strife’s stranglehold needs the most loosening, after all. Violent crime rates, including those for aggravated and sexual assault, notoriously spike up to 12% higher during the hot summer months. But that’s just the general yearly (sadly predictable) increase in violence and irritability.

And now there’s the added complication of climate change coming into play.  An interesting article published in Science back in 2013 explores the influence of climate change on human conflict. From the abstract:

We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: for each one standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2σ to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.

The times, they are a-changin’. Culture (rednecks taking up arms against white supremacy?) climate (iceberg the size of Delaware?), certainty (Social Security? Don’t bet on it, you entitled Millennials)–they’re all a-changin’.  Stability comes with a price as old as Cain and Able and we’ve repeatedly sacrificed resiliency for efficiency and profit.  There comes a point when the supply lines are so fragile that any shift will cause catastrophic changes. The Tower will tumble.

Amidst the almost nostalgic mobilization of “grassroots” and “drops in the ocean,” loosestrife can help ease our families and communities through these changes. Allying with loosestrife can help you bring peace to your three feet of influence.  It’s one of the plants I use magically on a regular basis during the summer, a charm to ease anxiety and tension. A vase or two of the flowers in your home will help mitigate the rising tempers that inevitably come with August heat. Or, see what it does for you on the rush-hour subway.

Loosestrife is invasive. Loosestrife changes the land, one of the plants of Tower Time.  It continues its steady expansion across the marshes, pushing out native species. Yet what we called “manifest destiny” for our white European selves, we decry in a plant as being “alien” and harmful to the status quo.  One of those “damned immigrants” taking other plants’ jobs. There is a touch of irony that a plant named “loose strife” has inspired such a crusade against it.

It’s no esoteric accident that purple loosestrife has proliferated in a time of such conflict. Loosestrife’s march is a warning, and a needed ally.  If we are to bring her back into balance in our ecosystems, we must also master the same imbalance within ourselves.

Don’t hate the mirror that reflects your own shortcomings.

Balancing the Fourth Power

Since my trip to the Smithy over 18 months ago, it seems Silence has wrapped itself around me.  As much as I wanted to write about the experience of that pilgrimage, the words wouldn’t come–so much so that when I tried to force myself with the artificial deadline of a scheduled essay, I then forgot about that deadline, and had an unfinished post be published as a result!

Sharing knowledge and experience is essential to regrowing polytheistic paths and perpetuating mystery traditions. But how much is too much?  I think in the age of instantaneous communication, we speed too readily towards the sharing of our most profound experiences.  The desire to turn UPG into PCPG (peer-corroborated personal gnosis) can lead down into a dark, dark rabbit warren of group-think and egregores.

Indeed, in my more trusting youth I shared things with online acquaintances that I should not have, dreams and visions I should have kept close and let incubate and inform my practice, things which ultimately were relevant to me and me alone.  Sharing them diluted their power and in some cases, even led to the hijacking of those experiences by an echo-chamber effect of well meaning, but ultimately erroneous co-religionists.  I craved external validation, as if that would somehow make my experiences more real, more acceptable.

It has quite literally taken years to sort out what was real and true, and to find my way back into a coherent practice.  Thank gods for the work of the Ovate grade and for the wonderful real-life Grove members, friends, and neighbors who helped keep me steady and grounded throughout the untangling process.  Community and acts of service are the touch-stones that keeps the cunning folk from sinking into delusion and madness.  Without them, we are lost.

The Four Powers of the Sphinx, sometimes called the Witch’s Pyramid, consist of the oft quoted “To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Shut the Fuck Up Keep Silence.”  I’ve stood at the edge of Silence for long enough now, I think.  Going forward, may I have the wisdom to know when to write, when to speak…and when to STFU.

Pilgrimage, a Year Later

Nearly a year ago, I made a pilgrimage to Wayland’s Smithy.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  In my mind, it’s a holy place.  Yes, I know it’s a Neolithic burial chamber.  I know it originally had nothing to do with the Anglo-Saxon fairy smith.  And yet, it now has his name.  His mythology began as an accrual over the stones, but now has seeped into the masonry of folk memory.

In the tomb, with growing horror I rifled through hoodie pockets, jacket pockets, sweater pockets and finally my Druid bug-out bag in search of some appropriate offering for the Smith. My shoulder brushed the passageway, and again echoes of hammer and iron and anvil floated across my mind.

MAGUS: Mid-Atlantic OBOD Gathering

magus_2017_icon_tag_screen

I’ve been attending the OBOD East Coast Gathering since its inception 7 years ago and now there’s going to be yet another OBOD camp gracing the eastern seaboard: the Mid-Atlantic Gathering of the United States, or MAGUS for short.

Please note, this has to be one of the best names EVER for a Druid event.

More information can be found on the event’s website and FaceBook group.  According to the organizers, spaces are about 1/3 filled in the first couple of weeks–astounding for a brand new event!  And did I mention stone circles?

Yeah. Druids. In stone circles.

‘Nuff said.

New Year’s 2017 Ogham Divinations

31287115774_dda4cea8b6

Following the deer trail deep into the woods.

New Year’s ended up being a fabulous women’s retreat at a dear friend’s home in Maine.  There was as much laughter, tears, and divine ridiculousness as five women could possibly summon!

We kept with our Grove’s New Year’s tradition of a divination extravaganza after the stroke of midnight, January 1st.  W. did wonderful tarot spreads for all us ladies, but I also kept with my yearly drawing of the ogham for a month-by-month forecast of 2017.  Being a Druid, I use a tree ogham, but of course there are color, bird, and even word oghams that could be substituted.

Since there weren’t any ogham sets handy, I instead cut 25 slips of paper and used those for the fews. (This is one of the nice things about both runes and ogham as divinatory systems: they can be constructed on the fly with whatever materials are at hand.)

January-ioho/yew
February-beith/birch
March-oir/spindle
April-saille/willow
May-ruis/elder
June-uilleand/gooseberry or honeysuckle
July-ur/heather
August-luis/rowan
September-fearn/alder
October-tinne/holly
November-quert/apple
December-ohn/furze or gorse

The lessons of Ioho are already apparent only a few days into the month of January.  One political regime is giving away to another in the U.S. and people are looking to their ancestors for wisdom and guidance in surviving whatever lies ahead.  This is the shaman’s tree, the axis mundi, evergreen and sometimes bleeding.  Sharing in its strength can only bolster us for what lies ahead.

12 Nights of Yule: Feast Night

7294830668_6ac2134bab_kYule’s emphasis (for me at any rate) is on family and community. The coming together, the sharing of food—it all strengthens the bonds between individuals as we move into the harsh winter months.

Gods know that 2016 has been harsh.  We need celebration and family (chosen or otherwise) desperately.

I have mixed feelings about gifts. By and large, I decided not to do gifts, and have been greatly enjoying the freedom from giving up the practice. The exception to this is my mother, whom I want to spoil just a bit this year. But releasing oneself from the obligation of hitting the mall in search of things that we don’t really need is tremendous.

Grandparents do, however, delight in giving things to the kids. I think they would be sad if they couldn’t express themselves that way. And my son, well, this is certainly a holiday for children, and he’ll doubtless be enjoying the spoils, as it were!

It’s been wonderful to see our family traditions change, making space for the things we like, weeding through the things we don’t. And it’s even more wonderful to realize that we can continue to evolve our practices as we grow. This is what tradition should be: repeated activities which strengthen and inspire the people who perpetuate them.

Merry Yule to all, and to all a good night!

12 Nights of Yule: Shining Night

24456945871_b774ef4e0a

Four dot, is what will make a square, a bed to build on, it’s all there.
—”Growing Up” by Peter Gabriel

As the story goes, once Three can into being from One and Two, all manner of Shining Beings were born. Some chose to roam the inky blackness between the stars, their skin mirroring the cool glossy darkness of the void. Others dove into the centers of suns, burning with the brightness of nuclear fire. Still others settled on spheres of cooling rock, playing endlessly in soupy atmospheres and liquid stone.

Some of the Shining Ones settled on this planet, our home. And as the organic beings divided, recombined, multiplied and evolved, so did their luminous cousins. Thus things continued until the the Shining Ones drew a Veil between themselves and the creatures of matter that dwelt on Terra. It was still possible to travel to the Undying Lands, but most only did so in their dreams.


This night honors spirits of all kinds, those who exist glittering at the edges of our vision. These are the spirits of our tribe, the gods large and small, named and unnamed; the spirits of place, of root, rock, and water; and our own ancestors who have chosen to dwell in those luminous halls after they passed from this life. Tonight we give thanks to all these beings, and hold our breaths in wonder and anticipation of what morning will bring.