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.

Advertisements

New Incarnation of Altars

Thank you again for joining us for a brand new episode of “This Old Altar,” with your host, Bob Vila! Er wait, that’s not quite right…let’s try this again:

When I moved into my neighbor’s house last year, it was probably one of the best decisions I could have made during the divorce process. I loved living with B. and she gave me a safe place to begin healing. However, I was only renting a room, and that did not leave me much space for altars. I used an old nightstand as my spiritual focus area, and switched out statues depending on whom I was moved to honor in the moment.

Now that I’m in a place of my own, I have the luxury of being able to set up several smaller altar spaces. Each one serves a different function, and has different layers of public and private meaning. As I was writing this, it occurred to me that each alter combines a primary element with a secondary in order to give it a unified aesthetic.

The altar I use most frequently is the one next to my stove, what I call my hearth altar (auto-correct said “heart sculpture” and that’s an apt description, too). It’s predominantly rooted in the Earth element of the North, but with a strong overtone of Fire. The statues represent Gwydion and Aranrhod, though that is not what the artists originally intended. (Yes, these two are sharing space; no this has not caused issues.)  Gwydion is my wild magician, and often appears to me as having features of the boar, wolf and/or deer that he was changed into as punishment for Goewin’s rape. Aranrhod (“a fun ride”: WTF auto-correct?) is not only a celestial goddess, but the goddess of the waters. And since I’ve always had trouble giving Don a face (which according to Kristoffer Hughes is actually appropriate as this goddess was in fact faceless), I rededicated her statue in Aranrhod’s name.  The little fellow playing the flute is a wight from my father’s garden.  The sprig of lavender represents peace and beauty, and the turkey feather represents family; the spiral plate is carved Welsh slate that I brought back from the 2002 National Eisteddfod. This is where I perform morning prayers and my work with the Sun Mirror; it is also the altar that my son likes to help light to thank the Ancestors when we begin cooking a meal.

Right next to the back door in the South is my working altar, the one I use for daily divination or more involved magical workings. It serves to anchor my work in the cunning arts and with the Strategic Sorcery system, which is why Hekate presides over it. In addition there are representations for spirit allies that I work with on a regular basis. Both the sword and spear are ritual as well as martial tools, and at the moment I have wands of Poplar and Willow drying and waiting to be carved.  This altar is the polar opposite of the hearth altar, being a manifestation of the Fire of will, grounded in the Earth.

To the West I have an altar space dedicated to the Makers: Bridget, Cerridwen, and Wayland. This is an altar to creative inspiration, and where I give thanks for the gods’ aid in music, poetry, and assorted crafting endevors. Hufflespawn particularly likes the Wayland statue, and even made him a little helper at school which he insisted on placing right next to the Master Smith. Cerridwen is accompanied by tokens from pig and chicken, which refer back to her animal shapes in her pursuit of Gwion Bach. Bridget has bone weaving tools dedicated to her, and a harp tuner. In front of Wayland sits a chunk of iron slag that I found on the beach in Salem Massachusetts, a gift that seemed most appropriate.  Air is the ruling element here, with a secondary infusion of Water (and Fire, too, if I’m honest, even though it messes up my nice, neat classifications).

The next two altars are a bit more “work-in-progress.” First is a home for various local spirits and wights. Thus far Turkey, Crow, Datura, Boar and Snail are represented. I will also likely include guardians from my OBOD work here as well. On top of the shelf is a ceramic Dragon my soul’s sister made for me, which eerily matches a spirit guide of mine. Water rules here, not least because one of my allies from this land is a river wight, but also because this is an area which very much requires dreams and intuitions to access fully. Air is the breath which stirs the surface of the Water.

Finally we have this very much WIP altar, which seems to be shaping into a repository for images of Divine Queens. It may end up being more of a display for statuary that I like than an actual working altar, but I think there’s a place for both in one’s home. This sort of feminine strength and inspiration is something I’ve needed greatly over the past two years, and I’ll be interested to see whether this altar remains dedicated to that casue, or whether I will eventually repurpose it for something else.

So, after only having had a single altar space for year, I may have gone a little crazy with all these! Still, it feels good to be able to move from altar to altar, and to have specific foci for various parts of my life.  More likely than not things will get pared down after a little while, but for now, this suits my needs quite well.

Turning the Tables

druidcraft_minor_swords_10Or at least, turning the cards.

One of the cornerstones of my spiritual practice is drawing a tarot card in the morning to help me focus for the day.  My views on tarot and divination are a bit muddled, perhaps because of my aforementioned paradigm shifting. I like to use the cards as a psychological tool, as a spiritual tool, and as a practical tool. They set the tone for my day and encourage mindfulness.

But, what to do if you choose a troublesome or challenging card? (I don’t like calling cards “bad” because there is usually way to much nuance for a card to be all good or all bad.) This is where magic can help. After I’ve thought about the implications of a card in whatever position I’ve drawn it (either upright or reversed), I flip it with a whammy-nudge of intent.

Case in point, three days ago I pulled the 10 of Swords. Definitely a difficult card: nadir, betrayal, overwhelm. The trick is finding that little sliver of light in the mire. As I turned the card upside-down, I kept my focus on finding that narrow way out of the despair and fear of current circumstances. Even though I ended up being blindsided by some family drama, it didn’t unbalance me nearly as much as it might have otherwise, and I was able to navigate through the unpleasantness by reaching out to my friends for help.

It all comes down to this: what good is being a seer if you can’t do anything to change what you’ve divined?

Dark Moon: Ur

c. Aqwis 2006 on Wikimedia Common

c. Aqwis 2006 on Wikimedia Common

Sadly, my real-life success with growing Ur, or Heather as we usually now call it, has been zilch.  I just can’t seem to get the damned stuff to winterover.  Apparently it thrives in acid soil, so perhaps a nice mulching of pine needles will help it along the next time I get up the gumption to try growing it.

Ur is the warmth and joy of community, and there’s certainly been a lot of that in my life this month.  As some of you know, I’ve been tangled up in the process of purchasing one of the units in our co-housing community.  My neighbors have been beyond helpful and supportive, and it’s been such a relaxing experience knowing the I’m working with the buyer instead of engaging in the adversarial relationship so common in real estate transactions.  Bees, the epitome of community, are also closely associated with heather, and their busy hum has reverberated throughout my inner worlds as I navigate a new place in the neighborhood.

In any case, this month has been full of community work, from putting the common garden to bed, to finishing up the siding on the chicken coop, to spending more time with my groovie Grovies outside of ritual. Heather is the healing power of community, and all the sweetness that comes with being fully engaged in one’s tribe. When Damh the Bard sang “Wild Mountain Thyme” around the campfire at ECG 2013, I was choked with tears–my ex-husband had asked for a divorce months before, yet here was a group of people who still found me worthy of love and companionship. We would indeed “all go together,” and the image of my tribe singing amongst the purple heather would carry me through one of the darkest winters of my life.

Will you go, lassie, will you go?
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?
–Francis McPeak, “Wild Mountain Thyme”

Dark Moon: Huathe

 

In the tree ogham, Huathe is associated with the Hawthorn, the tree of cleansing and challenge. That pretty much sums up what the month of May has been so far. The court date for my divorce, the selling of the condo, on one hand, and on the other, two new jobs and a renewed joy in life. I performed the Ovate Rite of Liberation at Beltaine, releasing all the resentment and pain I had carried from the past. I hope I have learned the lessons of these tree well.

2014 Divination

20140101-002604.jpg

And now for a little explanation since it’s no longer waaaay past my bedtime (oh the things we do for magical timing!):

January–Hazel (Coll)
February–Yew (Ioho, same as last year!)
March–Ivy (Gort)
April–Reed (Ngetal)
May–Hawthorn (Huathe, also the same as last year!)
June–Alder (Fearn)
July–Holly (Tinne)
August–Willow (Saille)
September–Rowan (Luis)
October–Heather (Úr)
November–The Sea (Mor)
December–Poplar (Eadha)

These will serve as monthly dark moon writing prompts for 2014. I decided against participating in the Pagan Blog Project this year as weekly writing is something that I can’t really commit to at this point in my life. But I should be able to do something monthly!