Tag Archives: spirituality

Why perform ritual? 

“Do you perform it for their glory, or for yours?” Was the question that popped into my head as I poured the water from Monday’s ceremony into the kitchen plant. 

    A slight rewording from the question posed to Dr. Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but an effective one nonetheless. 

    That previous night had me perform a personal meditation in order to find an answer to something I was thinking through.  Well, more accurately, the meditation was the middle bit of my ceremony (to my fellow members of the Grove who wanted to know how it is I can recall the words by rote….. This is how).  And to perform the meditations and visualisations I use without the ceremonial bits feels…. Naked.

    This is how I do it: 

    1. Peace to the quarters.
    2. Cast the circle.
    3. Bless the circle with fire and water.
    4. Prayer to deity or deities.
    5. Awens.
    6. Middle bit.
    7. ‘Hour of recall….’
    8. Thanks to Deity.
    9. Uncast the circle.
    10. Declaration of the end of ceremony. 

        It’s mainly based on the general OBOD ceremonies, but I have found the form that works for me.  No flowers though.  Can’t be doing with taking from the plant realm for the sake of aesthetics!

          The Order encourages members to try things out and see how things work for them, even saying to stop something if it doesn’t work for you.  I have kept the above as it works for me.  Some of the wording is different and the words I say to deity are my own. 

        The ritual water I give to the household plants, a way of giving back and not wasting what was taken.

        There was a time I would perform this every day, and even though it did calm my being, I became stifled with the repetition.  So now, I like to do it with meaning, the ritual bringing calm and satisfaction to myself as well as honour and communication to those that are listening.  

        Do I do it for their glory?  Not really, as I have other personal rituals for giving thanks and honour.

        Do I do it for my glory?  Perhaps.  But when I perform the ceremony it isn’t for glory, it is a series of repetitious actions that allow me to enter a certain level of consciousness that allows me to find a stillness.  This stillness can be used to calm my fiery temperament, to gain insight or inspiration.  

        And even if there is no one in the ether, the ceremony still serves it’s purpose. 

        “There are FOUR lights!” Pic by Locksley2010.

        Realignment

        June.  That was the last month I wrote something in depth. I have managed to write something every month or so, albeit in the form of a poem, a saying, or even a prayer. 

        Actually, I don’t feel the need to write anything in depth.  No examinations of what those legends may actually mean, no breaking down of Pagan concepts (Classical or Modern), no questioning of the values or ethics around us.  In fact there are so many people reeling from the political victory of Brexit and Donald Trump, there are plenty already questioning the world around them…. 

         Whereas my investigative flair has faded to nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Diddley-Squat.  

        During August, I feared I might have severed the link between myself and my spirituality.  Since the end of June, I dedicated myself to learning my lines for a theatrical performance.  In August, I did the same with another, both of them are now finished and performed.  Having embraced my acting self as my Bardic self, I have sought to regain and discover new skills for being the actor I want to be.  As well as discovering the actor I am turning into.  

        It would be wrong of me to say I ‘put my life on hold’ because of the two plays.  Sure, I became less socially active and my days off were dedicated to line learning as were my evenings after work and then there were rehearsals.  

        Performance is a discipline. It is hours of line learning, practicing the mannerisms of another person, working with the energy levels of your colleagues so the show does not lag.  Remembering where to be in the right place at the right time, thinking within a split second of a replacement word if you end up forgetting the correct one and doing all of this with a huge adrenaline rush once you are doing it.  To do that and more requires focus and discipline in yourself. 

        And so, I threw myself into this creative path.  To me, it feels so right to do so.  It has stoked my inner fires and is my main focus. Where I may not be performing my Bardic Rituals everyday (the last was before I moved house in June) I have come to understand this, at the moment, is not what I need in my life right now.  

        I still light my candles to my deities, ancestors and the spirits around me.  I still honour the seasons that pass and celebrate them; I still give offerings and have even done a little research into Japanese Fox spirits.  I have discovered my spirituality is in who I am, not just what I do.  This has also allowed me to view my spirituality, my beliefs and my self objectively.  And in this I have learned much, including belief in myself. 

        But for the time being, I will post when I can with what I can give.  

        After all, if one’s spirituality is only defined by one’s work with ritual, then what is ritual if not a performance? 

        Photo by Locksley2010

        Accepting the Inner Flame.

        image
        Fire-pit at Thorsson's house 2015

        I’m an impatient being.  Always have been and always will be.  I was even born a month premature, yet I survived, when time was that I wouldn’t have.

        I have always been close to my emotions, especially the fire inside. 

        That’s not to say I’m a violent or an angry person, I am the most laid back and chilled out guy you can ever hope to meet.  Unless you are technology, then the spark within becomes a full blown meltdown where my blood boils and I might as well grow claws and shred every piece of wiring and circuitry apart.  Many is the time I wanted to smash my mobile phone against the nearest wall and destroy this tool for not being quick enough, or autocorrecting the wrong words.  If I could just give in to my beast, it would be sooooooo easy.

        Of course, the fault is actually mine.  Just because my aptitude for any device isn’t the sharpest, it isn’t the machine I’m angry with.  I’m projecting the anger with myself onto whatever I’m using when I should know better.  But when I press something and all I get is the Whirlygig of Doom, out comes my battle-cry: “Oh, Come ON!!!”

        On those days where the computers at work, my mobile phone on the bus ride home and my home PC are being slow and I see more than my fair share of the Whirlygig of Doom all on the same day, I stop. Turn everything off and leave them well alone.

        When I was younger, this anger was taken out with my fists hitting the kitchen sides or the nearest wall.

        For a time, I doused the flames.  I simply walked through life, nothing much phased me and even those times of intense emotion were so…… Wet.  I look back at the very first blog I wrote and read it with disdain.  What a fucking pussy I was back then!  My inner fire, for several years was merely a glowing ember almost reduced to blackened ash.  Yet we must know the dark before we can know the light.  And when I wrote that first blog post, I was lost and confused.  And I got over it.  See? It was there! Right then.  I looked back at my past self and rebuked him, I can’t deny the person I was as that was a part of me.  And still is.  The past can show us who we don’t want to be.

        Of all the things in the world to breathe air into that dying ember, it was Druidry that blew into that spark, only for it to catch on and to flare up,  and ignite once again.  Let me make it clear that I am in no way saying that Druidry “Saved me”.  When I began this blog back in 2012, I was already studying and learning Druidry.  I had hit a low point was all and it wasn’t until I was working with the element of fire things in motion began to change things.

          I began my Bardic course with having to use a candle instead of a “Piss poor fire”.  It was working with the element of fire in my Fire-Weaving ritual that gave me signs of dragons and unexpectedly changed something within me (that’s when the ember was blown on and then caught fire once more….), the end of my Bardic course saw me burn my thumb on a flame and as I sucked it, the metaphor of wisdom was not lost on me.  Reconnecting with my inner fire brought back my passion (acting) and returned my enthusiasm.  It is a fire with caution, as it also brought back my impatience and spiky nature.  This has cost me my resolve at work as I have damaged property more than once in the past few weeks! 
        At my day job, Del-boy, the Asst. Manager has warned me I need to calm down and not get so wound up.  And he’s right, I’m better than this.

        Used correctly, I can create new material under pressure, make decisions to ‘get it done’ or even clean shit up.  That’s the thing with anger, for the most part, in our society it is destructive.  But it can keep you going.

        The inner fire isn’t always a bad thing, it’s what keeps me creative, whether with my acting or playing with character nuances during line-learning, devising a talk (or an all-consuming blog post I just have to share with the world) or even plotting the next chapter to inflict upon my players in my Vampire: The Masquerade RPG Chronicle.  Once inspired by something, the spark of Awen will catch my flame and then I have to act on it, be it research of a deity or an old story or look into the facts of something people take for granted as true just because we thought it was (The Oak King, Holly King model was made up by Robert Graves, but people take it as gospel- Discuss). It also gives me that urge to question everything.

        When there’s passion, energy and conviction, the flames are burning brightly indeed.

        Romantically speaking, I can be warm, comforting and entirely devoted.  Presently, my fires of the heart are whimsical.  I seem to develop crushes on women, but then these flames of fancy fade out.  I may love my friends, but I am not in love with anyone. For now, in my life, that’s ok. 

        Once upon a time, I called myself the ‘Impulsive Flame’ I am not being egotistical when I say I radiate a warmness, because I do.  And people are attracted to the light and warmth, but getting too close can result in burning.  I can be prickly with even those I allow to come close,   I endeavour to control my fire, but like the actual alchemical element itelf, sometimes it simply ignites.  And fire can also be cleansing, sometimes you just need to let things out, I just don’t ever want to take it out on anyone.

        Its not that I don’t need to learn to control it, I already know how.  I just need to master when to reign the flames in and know when to let them flare up. But I can never quench them again, to do so is to deny myself when fire is a great teacher in responsibility and will.

        Accepting the Inner Flame.

        image
        Fire-pit at Thorsson's house 2015

        I’m an impatient being.  Always have been and ways will be.  I was even born a month premature, yet I survived, when time was that I wouldn’t have.

        I have always been close to my emotions, especially the fire inside. 

        That’s not to say I’m a violent or an angry person, I am the most laid back and chilled out guy you can ever hope to meet.  Unless you are technology, then the spark within becomes a full blown meltdown where my blood boils and I might as well grow claws and shred every piece of wiring and circuitry apart.  Many is the time I wanted to smash my mobile phone against the nearest wall and destroy this tool for not being quick enough, or autocorrecting the wrong words.  If I could just give in to my beast, it would be sooooooo easy.

        Of course, the fault is actually mine.  Just because my aptitude for any device isn’t the sharpest, it isn’t the machine I’m angry with.  I’m projecting the anger with myself onto whatever I’m using when I should know better.  But when I press something and all I get is the Whirlygig of Doom, out comes my battle-cry: “Oh, Come ON!!!”

        On those days where the computers at work, my mobile phone on the bus ride home and my home PC are being slow and I see more than my fair share of the Whirlygig of Doom all on the same day, I stop. Turn everything off and leave them well alone.

        When I was younger, this anger was taken out with my fists hitting the kitchen sides or the nearest wall.

        For a time, I doused the flames.  I simply walked through life, nothing much phased me and even those times of intense emotion were so…… Wet.  I look back at the very first blog I wrote and read it with disdain.  What a fucking pussy I was back then!  My inner fire, for several years was merely a glowing ember almost reduced to blackened ash.  Yet we must know the dark before we can know the light.  And when I wrote that first blog post, I was lost and confused.  And I got over it.  See? It was there! Right then.  I looked back at my past self and rebuked him, I can’t deny the person I was as that was a part of me.  And still is.  The past can show us who we don’t want to be.

        Of all the things in the world to breathe air into that dying ember, it was Druidry that blew into that spark, only for it to catch on and to flare up,  and ignite once again.  Let me make it clear that I am in no way saying that Druidry “Saved me”.  When I began this blog back in 2012, I was already studying and learning Druidry.  I had hit a low point was all and it wasn’t until I was working with the element of fire things in motion began to change things.

          I began my Bardic course with having to use a candle instead of a “Piss poor fire”.  It was working with the element of fire in my Fire-Weaving ritual that gave me signs of dragons and unexpectedly changed something within me (that’s when the ember was blown on and then caught fire once more….), the end of my Bardic course saw me burn my thumb on a flame and as I sucked it, the metaphor of wisdom was not lost on me.  Reconnecting with my inner fire brought back my passion (acting) and returned my enthusiasm.  It is a fire with caution, as it also brought back my impatience and spiky nature.  This has cost me my resolve at work as I have damaged property more than once in the past few weeks! 
        At my day job, Del-boy, the Asst. Manager has warned me I need to calm down and not get so wound up.  And he’s right, I’m better than this.

        Used correctly, I can create new material under pressure, make decisions to ‘get it done’ or even clean shit up.  That’s the thing with anger, for the most part, in our society it is destructive.  But it can keep you going.

        The inner fire isn’t always a bad thing, it’s what keeps me creative, whether with my acting or playing with character nuances during line-learning, devising a talk (or an all-consuming blog post I just have to share with the world) or even plotting the next chapter to inflict upon my players in my Vampire: The Masquerade RPG Chronicle.  Once inspired by something, the spark of Awen will catch my flame and then I have to act on it, be it research of a deity or an old story or look into the facts of something people take for granted as true just because we thought it was (The Oak King, Holly King model was made up by Robert Graves, but people take it as gospel- Discuss). It also gives me that urge to question everything.

        When there’s passion, energy and conviction, the flames are burning brightly indeed.

        Romantically speaking, I can be warm, comforting and entirely devoted.  Presently, my fires of the heart are whimsical.  I seem to develop crushes on women, but then these flames of fancy fade out.  I may love my friends, but I am not in love with anyone. For now, in my life, that’s ok. 

        Once upon a time, I called myself the ‘Impulsive Flame’ I am not being egotistical when I say I radiate a warmness, because I do.  And people are attracted to the light and warmth, but getting too close can result in burning.  I can be prickly with even those I allow to come close,   I endeavour to control my fire, but like the actual alchemical element itelf, sometimes it simply ignites.  And fire can also be cleansing, sometimes you just need to let things out, I just don’t ever want to take it out on anyone.

        Its not that I don’t need to learn to control it, I already know how.  I just need to master when to reign the flames in and know when to let them flare up. But I can never quench them again, to do so is to deny myself when fire is a great teacher in responsibility and will.

        The Morrigan’s Mask…

        I was inspired by this piece written on The Morrigan in Danu Forest’s article on ‘The Gods are not for sale!’ which you can read for yourself here.

        So, I have to thank Leithin Cluan, really because she posted it to our Grove.  My particularly favorite bit is:

        No the Morriigan is not an easy goddess- disrespect her land and she will want blood. Literally. She is sexual, primal, gutsy, scary- she will do the hard, horrible work, embrace her fury so a clean start is possible- but no she she’s not interested in comforting you because you don’t want to be as tough as your life requires right now, don’t want to wade into difficult moral or emotional terrain. She won’t hold your hand if you are scared of the dark, but she might smile if you pick yourself up, get fed up with your cowardice and do what needs to done. Read the old tales, research the folklore- visit the places on the land that honour her, in the real world. It’s all there. Get out of your own head, your own story- she’s waiting outside.   

        Indeed!

        Not a simpering maid, this Goddess.  This portrayal is one that evokes primal strength, a bolshy nature of “Well, do it then!“.  It also brings, at least to my mind, the now stereotypical image of the Morrigan: A flame haired beauty screaming across the battlefield with a bloody sword and gore splattered shield.  Heralding the death of her foes as she unleashes a furious murder of crows on those whose souls she has come to claim.  She is the black of night, the crimson fountain, the pale moon all in one and death is her punishment to the weak.  She mesmerizes with her blatant sexuality, oozing appeal with every curve and her eyes dare you to take her… if you can.

        This imagery and the above quote, reflect only part of her being.  The Morrigan, believe it or not was only classed as a ‘Goddess of Battle’ only recently.

        Everyone who has heard of her is familiar with the iconic raven and crow association, they are carrion birds after all, and eating the slain on the battlefield is a pretty sure way of a having them represent death.

        Her powers influence battle to be sure, The Daghda, after seeing her washing in the river convinces her to ensure victory against the Fomorians by having sex with her.  At the end of the battle of Moytura, she sings a song of victory and also prophecies of the end of the world.

        In the Cuchulainn saga, she tries to seduce Cuchulainn, only for him to refuse her (something she really doesn’t like).  In that story she shows her shape-shifting abilites: as a maiden, an eel, a wolf, a crone.  The Crone guise is used when Cuchulainn meets a crone with a cow, and is tricked into blessing the crone and thereby healing all the wounds he had inflicted on her.

        So yes, she does have an association with death, with transformation and with prophecy.  More than that she is also a Goddess of Sovereignty (this is where the cow comes in, it represent the land, generosity and a number of Goddesses).  Where she is death, she also represents life: fertility and bounty,  both of which make way for the future- something she appears to know of before others do.

        I am very aware this is merely an introduction into The Morrigan and will give more of my findings when I have them.  The way I see Her is like the bright full moon behind a cover of cloud: You know she is there and every now and then, she’ll be visible, but only for a moment and even then, was it the full picture?

        Like her guises, The Morrigan has many masks.  The mask I see her with isn’t of the screaming warrior, or of the regal queen.  To me, at least, right now, she is mysterious woman showing me I must pay attention.  The choice she brings is to pick myself up or lie where I am and wonder where I went wrong.  Thankfully, I chose the former… after all, in front of such a pretty lady, it simply wouldn’t do to wallow.

        I remember meeting the Morrigan in a dream in early 2013, the most distinctive feature I remember is the red make up around her eyes… the below image reminds me of her.  Taking hint of Cuchulainn, offering her a blessing, I have trialled giving offerings of milk.  So far, she likes anything I can give in Her name, but mainly milk, beer, whisky, tobacco, food (Not beef) and chocolate cake.

        Image from Old Camarilla Wiki  – artist and details unknown, but would love to give credit to whoever did this. 

        The Bard Within

        I’ve finally got around to forging a tool! Not in the literal sense of molten metal and hammers, but in the metaphorical sense.

        I’ve made myself a Facebook page!  The idea being that I can advertise myself as an actor and storyteller and that folks can see me (under my stage name) in action.  Then said folks can contact me to hire or have me perform for them.  Shameless link!

        I made the page a bit post-haste as I needed something quick for a gig I’d been asked to this month.  One of my Druid friends has very kindly offered to help me make my own website, so watch this space!

        Remember what I wrote in my last blog about taking advantage of offers Life presents?  Well, the week after I wrote that, I was contacted by a friend of mine who I’ve performed for previously and wondered if I’d be up for a spot at Nottingham’s SOBAR (a nonalcoholic bar, the whole weekend festival was for a charity for people recovering from alcoholism).  So I took it up immediately!

        Last week, I headed a night of storytelling for my Druid Grove, which you can read here (it’s all about the links today!). It was a good night and it felt right.  I’m not naive or stupid enough to believe that after one night of MCing a story night with some friends of mine, that I can go around doing it professionally.  Truth is I’ve fought this.
        Normally, I tell a story to my Grove a little unprofessionally, stumbling here and there.  But at last weeks meeting, it was the first time I did it properly, calmly and not without humour.

        I spent seven years in a theatrical tourist attraction telling stories of the Horrible History kind, all in costume and make up.  I gave that up when I moved to Nottingham and lost a part of myself doing it.  It was only when I was challenged (the Best way to get me to do anything) to do a Halloween themed story piece that I realised I missed this!

        So I made more! And there is more to come and more to develop on.  I even tend to tell stories when I do ceremony and ritual work with either my Grove or the Moot I co-run.  Its intrinsic to my sense of being, spiritually, holistically.  Even when using the Druid Animal Oracle there is one card I have difficulty remembering the meaning of, but the story behind it… that’s where the meaning comes out (its the Seal, card btw). So when that card comes out, I remember two of the three catchword and tell the story of the Selkie because its more in depth than the card meaning in the booklet.

        The what I did on Sunday, was use my Highwayman character, The Scarlet Blade.  I was in this very modern cafe dressed as though I was an 18th Century vagabond.  As soon as I saw the children enter I knew I had to tailor this.  The first time I performed the SB was in a bar filled with merry poets and every filthy joke and bawdy line was used… couldn’t do that here, so I chopped and changed it.  With five minutes left, I pulled a bit of a history lesson out of my tricorn hat and told what Dick Turn was really like.

        Ok, so I didn’t have the bawdy, foul mouthed jeering from the first time, what I did have was a dad telling me that through my set, his very young son kept telling him “Dad! Dad! There’s a Pirate over there!” The child gleefully hid away when I pulled my plastic pistol out at him and the dad told me “He’ll remember that for the rest of his life…” That made my day!

        It appears that embracing my performing self, the actor, the storyteller has all come about after admitting who and what my Bardic self is.  Its just that I had to forget in order to find myself again. 

        Me as The Scarlet Blade on Sunday 17th August 2014.  Photo by Amy Hills.

        image

        The Morrigan?

        image

        I’m supposed to be asleep and yet I feel charged to write this blog…right now (“Do it! Do it now! NOW!!!” Whispers the Voice- HER voice).

        Not even performing the Light Body Exercise helped calm my mind, sooth my soul or quieten my spirit.  All I can think of is today’s sign (as I wish to call it that).

        I was just about to pour my beaten eggs into the frying pan, this lunch time, when there was a great cawing outside.  Me and Artemis (my housemate, not the Goddess… although…) made a joke about my cat having pissed the crows off.  I went outside to see what the commotion was and looked up at the house behind us…. perched upon the rooftop were three crows all yelling their heads off.  I said one word in acknowledgement, a name: ‘Morrigan’.  I said it quite flippantly.  Immediately the cawing stopped and two crows flew off, from where I was standing, one East, the other West.  One remained in the North.  As soon as Artemis commented in amazement that they stopped once I said the name of a Goddess, I knew it had to be a sign, or a message.  Didn’t get time to ponder as my food was frying!

        By the time I came back out the third crow had gone… was I too late?

        I’ve been pondering what this could mean… if anything at all.  To me this is a harbinger of some kind, of what I don’t yet know.

        The first time I was aware of Raven as a harbinger was back in 1999 when I discovered I had absent mindedly doodled a raven whilst talking to a friend on the phone.  That was a BIG year for me: I had my sexual awakening and began University.

        The second time was the card I drew on the first day of this year signifying destruction and initiation must take place before rebuilding can begin… that’ll be me and Pipes separating and both of us no longer living in our home of almost seven years.  Oh yeah! I’ve moved house by the way!

        So, to hear three very loud crows and see two fly off (one to the direction of the intellect and new ideas, the other to the direction of the emotions and the subconscious; and the last remaining in the direction of matter, the senses and physicality means something else is coming.  What, I’m not sure.  But this time, I intend to be ready.

        Looks like I’d better start asking the Morrigan, see what she’s trying to say.

        Oh Lady Morrigan,
        Lady of the swift sword of battle,
        Lady of the burning heart of lust and desire,
        Lady of the hidden secrets of magic.

        Let me hear you, let me see you, let me kiss you.”