12 Nights of Yule: Night of Peace

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Deep within the still center of my being, may I find peace.
Quietly, within the silence of this grove, may I share peace.
Gently, within the greater circle of humankind, may I radiate peace.
—The Druid’s Prayer for Peace

Now that the stories of the beginning have been told, the time comes to pause and take a breath. In the revival Druid tradition when we give peace to the quarters, we note that without peace, no work can be.

Before launching into the feasting and ritual that marks the remainder of the Twelve Winternights, take this day and night to sit for a moment, and be still. This is the Feast of Breath, with nothing more important than the endless flow of inhale and exhale.

We swear by Peace and Love to stand
heart to heart and hand in hand.
Mark, o Spirits, and hear us now,
confirming this, our sacred vow.
—The Oath of Peace

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Sun Mirror Meditation

CIChmMjXAAAIKnkI thought it might be interesting to share some of my own personal visualizations from the Sun Mirror meditation that I’ve been doing in the past few months. The uses I found for the mirror have been a curious combination of healing, charging/energizing, and prophecy. I’m not quite sure how that last bit is going to work out long term, but we’ll see. For now, just some thoughts and images that have skated through my mind while using this technique.

Beli Mawr, ignite my passion. This is the Root, the hard bones of the earth, and the flesh of the soil and falling leaves. It needs to be solid but still able to flow, to convey blood and sap to the whole. The Root dwells in darkness, hot red warmth that seethes beneath the surface.  It is the strength of the Land, the cup that holds the healing waters.

Beli Mawr, inflame my heart. The Heart of the Sea, a pearl precious beyond measure. If the Root needs to flow, then the Heart needs to overflow. Fire burns away the chains locked around the heart, leaving one to love fully and freely again. Wayland the Master Smith fills the gaps between the shards of your heart with molten gold. He says “The metal needs to be soft. You have a heart, not a sword.”

Beli Mawr, illuminate my mind. The Mind opens to the Sky. See with clarity, strengthened by the will of the Land. Be crowned by the circle of light, your own true will coming to the forefront. Know that emotions hide behind logic, and pulling the veil of reason aside will reveal someone’s true motives–including your own.

January Hearthside: The Faerie Realms

Untitled by James Dempsey c 2014.

Untitled by James Dempsey c 2014.

This past Monday, those of us who were fortunate enough to have Martin Luther King Day off gathered at Sarah Fuhro’s house to have a discussion about and meditation on the faerie realm (or realms, depending on your perceptions of such things).

Sadly I arrived late, and so missed the beginning of the hearthside, but it was great to spend time in these folks’ company nonetheless. Walking into Sarah’s east-facing dining room, I was greeted by the sight of my grovies meditating in the sun, like a troop of ring-tailed lemurs. Even just catching the tail (ha!) end of the journey was nice, and I used the time to confer with my own guides as the others in the room made their way back.

Lemurs meditate, just like Druids!

Discussion focused largely on those beings classified as devas or plant spirits for the most part, with Jdth recounting quite a bit of her Findhorn experiences.  After settling down to a fantastic lunch of lentil soup, root soup, and assorted sweets, James had a lovely treat for us all: painting he’d made since his muse returned that reminded him of the fae.  I absolutely love the one I chose. It reminds me of the ferns that grace my grove in the deepest heat of summer.  Inspired work, indeed!

As each of us talked about our own encounters, the only fair thing to say is that there seem to be as many discarnate critters as there are incarnate plants and animals living on this world. Seeing where they intersect our lives never ceases to fascinate, not to mention all the various cultural filters placed upon our interactions with these beings, whether we call them fairies, elves, devas, wights, or ancestors.

And of course there is infinite overlapping, mixing, and outright trampling of any and all of these classifications.  One of the more interesting part of our discussion revolved around a transcript of R.J. Stewart’s experience in a mound tomb.  Essentially Stewart believed that when the time came, a tribal leader would go into the tomb to become part of the earth itself, the Stone King, and continue advise his people from the mound long after his body died.  That leader in essence became a local god.  This is where the lines get delightfully blurry–what is a fairy vs, a land spirit vs. an ancestor vs. a god?  It’s similar to the discovery that humans and neanderthals were closely related enough to interbreed, and that some modern humans do in fact carry neanderthal DNA.  The takeaway: the lines between various sorts of fae are not as cut and dried as the magickal encyclopedias would have you believe.

Meditation Mondays

15365570081_d72da91906_zOk, making this just under the wire! I hope! If I can type fast…

Last week wasn’t as stellar as I could have hoped, since I missed 4 out of 7.  Still, my average is 53%, and I’m up to 99 days with a least one session since I started keeping track back in May.  November overall is looking good, might even be on par with October if I’m lucky!

While the quantity may have been less, the quality was much higher: less distraction, more creative insights.

Meditation Mondays

Brewer Brook in high autumn.

Brewer Brook in high autumn.

The guaranteed way to encourage your Indian delivery’s arrival for lunch? Sit down to meditate.

Meditation stats for last week:

  • Meditated every single. frickin’. day. Go me!
  • Broke my record of 80 minutes in a week.
  • October is by far the best month I’ve had for meditation since I started keeping track in May.
  • Now up to 48% of days with at least one session.
  • Average session time 9.9 mins (so close to the 10 minute goal!).

Qualitative observations

  • Not much done with colorwork/tea charging.
  • One round of walking meditation.
  • Using 5 minute session for LBE and elemental cleansings
  • Experimented with some lucid dreaming during the longer 20 minute session. Not earth shattering, but pretty useful practice.

Meditation Mondays

7294830668_6ac2134bab_kApparently this is evolving into a biweekly feature, whether I want it to or not!

First, some stats for the past couple of weeks. Things are definitely more consistent than the last time I took stock of my daily practice.  I’ve only missed two days in the last ten, and the week of 10/6 had over 60 minutes of time logged, while this past week was a whopping 80 minutes. October is shaping up quite nicely overall.

Looking at the long term, Fridays are still the day that I have the most trouble being consistent. The percentage of days where I have at least one session is now down to 46%, but hopefully that will improve with time. The total time spent in meditation is 12 hours, 21 minutes, with an average session time of 9.8 minutes.

Goals for the next time I post include achieving another 10 days in a row, raising my average session time to a full 10 minutes, and get my percentage of days closer to 50%.

Now that the quantitative stuff is out of the way, from a qualitative perspective the mind monkeys have been rough this past fortnight. I made at least three journal entries where I mentioned them.  The other prominent feature was meditating on Cerridwen and the cauldron, which makes perfect sense considering that I’ll be completing the Cauldron Born ritual in a few weeks time. And of course, in the interest of full disclosure, there were the two or three times that I completely dozed off while “meditating.” Sometimes these gave the gift of lucid dreams, sometimes not, but the fact that I made the time to sit and try meditating is more important to me at this point than worrying about keeping my eyes open!

I’ve been doing a decent job of taking thoughts and fragments of meditation (or dreams that I’ve remembered while meditating) and putting them to work in everyday life.  Probably the best example of this was a dream where I was going to play at a coronation and walking to the cathedral my violin case opened up and my favorite bow flew out into the middle of the street where it was promptly run over by a garbage truck. (Symbolism much?)  I’ve been trying to make the switch from classical violin to Irish fiddle, and it’s been going reasonably well, but one of the things that has been challenging is the more accented, rhythmic bowing patterns.  So, I took a cue from the dream and switched bows–from my lighter octagonal (which is wonderful for early period Baroque and such) to the heavier, louder semi-octagonal.  I’ve been very pleased with the quality change, and even more likely to practice because of it.

Yes, Virginia, meditation can improve your life in tangible ways. Just make sure you don’t get hit by the metaphorical garbage truck in the process.

NYC Pilgrimage: The MMA

New York City has always been something of a touchstone for me, so I decided to make a pilgrimage to three spiritually significant spots: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Central Park. This is the second post in the series. 

Ah, the MMA. No, not Mixed Martial Arts (though I enjoy that, too!).

No, I’m speaking of that bastion of culture and antiquity, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As an archaeologist, all museums and historical sites are holy to me, but the Met holds a special place in my heart.  It was my first museum, and probably still qualifies as the most frequented.  There was a point in my early teens where I no longer needed a map to navigate its many wings and galleries. I had uncovered just about every nook and cranny, from the Tibetan galleries to the American study collections of silver and furniture hidden at the top of some back staircase.

huge amounts of specular highlights in the dark areas of the transparency

A special Pre-Raphaelite exhibit what was prompted this particular pilgrimage in the first place. It turned out to be quite a small little collection, but with some immensely powerful pieces.  It does seem that the Pre-Raphaelites are enjoying something of a renaissance, and I for one cannot complain.

I suppose all those wonderfully romantic paintings of Waterhouse, Rossetti, Morris, and Burne-Jones are to blame for laying the visual groundwork for my interest in Revival Druidry (yes, I’m one of those in case you hadn’t already noticed).  The Revival Druids are undeniably the ancestors of all modern Druidic movements, for without them and their interest in the lost heritage of the native Britons and Irish, we would not have the robust growth in Druidry that we are now experiencing. But that’s a tangent for another time.

The piece in the collection that I found most moving was a plate from The Well at the World’s End by William Morris (happily made available by Project Gutenberg for free, though without pictures).  The maiden in armor, the lush vegetation of the border, the camp fire that looks like it could be made of Brigid’s hair–it all creates a portal to another world.

The well at the world's end_Morris

Beyond the special exhibit, there are two permanent installations that have always soothed my soul and let my brain slow down, if only for a few minutes.  The Temple of Dendur is spectacular, but particularly so at night.  Seeing one’s reflection in the enormous slanted glass wall drives home how small we are as individuals, not only in physical size, but in lifespan, compared to the seemingly eternal stones of the Egyptians.

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Unsurprisingly, I was fascinated by the Egyptian gods at a young age, though they were never beings with whom I tried to build a relationship beyond the academic.  Sekhmet was always a personal favorite, though not someone I’d necessarily feel comfortable having over for dinner.  That whole getting drunk on blood thing…yeah.

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With 10 minutes to closing, I had one last stop to make on the other side of the world.  The Astor Court, is the imagined recreation of a Ming poet’s retreat. The ghosts of the pasts are particularly strong here, including one of a little blond girl sketching the rocks from a stone stool.

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The tall stones represent peaks, while the piles of rocks are mountains. The small fountain in the corner is the source of yin energy, while the hard and bright stones are yang.  It is a place of deep peace, one even the museum guards are reluctant to disturb at closing time.

The Met has the simultaneous effect of firing up the furnaces of the imagination and settling one in the arms of human history.  Happy accidents preserve many of the things we value from the past.  We can try to be deliberate about what survives us, but it’s not always a guarantee that those who follow will treat our remains and artifacts in the way we would want. It’s a great big, wondrous mess of chance we play, and yet our lives are so much richer for it.

The museum always closes too soon. This time was no exception.