Of the Grove

I have recently found myself returning to an evening meditation as I prepare for sleep, in which I travel a wooded path to a sacred grove. I’ve described this before, but for some time I had fallen off the practice. I’m not terribly good at quieting my mind – I would do well to make it a regular practice, and perhaps now that I can rely on my schedule being at least moderately the same I can begin that. I’m not good at dealing with widely varying schedules, I have learned, so fitting something I want to become a regular practice into a schedule that is never the same week-to-week has been exceedingly difficult.

To get back to the point, I’ve recently found myself imagining that grove before I go to sleep. Often enough, I find myself imagining it when I wake as well. I would like to think that I can use that place of peace to center myself whenever I get stressed or anxious, such as I expect to happen at work over the coming weeks. The promotion I received puts me in competition with the other trainer, and she is not taking it well. While for me, it’s not about getting all the classes for myself but in getting enough classes for the week for the store, for her, I’m a threat to her paycheck and that’s aggravating. I can use the grove meditation to help me find a centered place whenever dealing with her gets to be too much.

I am also going to once more renew my focus on my OBOD lessons. Again, it’s hard for me to focus on something when my own schedule varies so much. Now that I can take several hours a couple of days a week and give the lessons my full attention, I believe I will do better with them. I need to send them money so I can get my last few sets of cd’s as well. I’ll do that with my next check, probably. Then I’ll start saving some money so I can  get the printed copies as well. I regret choosing the cd version over the printed one. I would have done better if I could just sit with the paper copies in my lap, reading and rereading.

I am also looking into another course, taught by a fellow knitter, Cat Treadwell. It will be a year, likely, before I’m able to being that course, but that gives me time to finish my Bardic grade in OBOD, and time for my new promotion (and hopefully another) to settle out and my life to become more stable. I have no illusions my life will ever be truly stable, but it can approach it, at the very least.

The summer Solstice approaches. I am going crazy with all the people saying ‘Summer’s almost here’. It’s been 80-90 degrees or more here for over a month. Hello, that’s already summer, folks. Summer started in May, as it always does. The Summer Solstice is the middle of summer.  They do it with every season, and it’s maddening.I understand it’s in part because of the way our seasons run here, but even in the northeast where I lived for half of my life, they treated June 21st as the first day of summer, December 21st as the first day of winter, March 21st as the first day of spring, and September 21st as the first day of Autumn. It’s just not how it works.  But you cannot educate the mundanes. They don’t hear it. They hear only what they’ve been taught.

In Nimue Brown’s recent post about her graduation from Cat Treadwell’s course, she says that a friend of hers defines druids as being ‘people of the trees’. She goes on to say we are the people of the grove, which is a term I really resonate with. I am most at peace in two places: on the shore of a lake or ocean or river, and in the forest. I am a child of the grove. I have for twenty years called myself a pagan, and a witch, and I am still those things. but I am also a child of the forest, a daughter of the earth and of the ocean. As I pursue my spiritual explorations I am keeping those things in mind most of all.

Wisdom in Words

These are not my words, but they ring with truth for me, and for people that I love. They came from this article at Huffington Post, though I have removed the last bit of wisdom because it didn’t have anything to do with my life or my beliefs.

Genuine interest in other people will attract you friends quickly. If you learn to be a good listener, you can find friends anywhere.

Nothing done out of love is a waste. Love is the best gift you have to offer.

You’ll spend half your life waiting — waiting for a test result, waiting for a relationship, waiting for a chance. But remember: What happens to you while you’re waiting is often more important than what you’re waiting for.

The world is full of talent. It’s not a lack of ability holding most people back; it’s attitude.

People will push you as far as you let them. Set personal parameters and learn to say NO.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s okay to be the only person in the room not doing something.

Be grateful. This alone puts you ahead of the game.

Character is who you are in the dark. It’s doing right when nobody is there to monitor you. Character enables you to face yourself in mirror and like what you see. It’s essential to a good life.

You will make mistakes. You will feel ashamed. You will know the sting of regret. Own your choices and use the past to your advantage by learning from it so you wind up in a better place.

When misfortune strikes, see it as a chapter of your life, not the story of your life. A storm in one chapter can lead to a rainbow in the next.

Practice forgiveness daily so your resentments don’t build up. Forgiveness is about letting go and releasing anger. Not everyone who wrongs you will ask for forgiveness. Forgive them anyway and move on.

Don’t judge. We all need mercy, and you never know what someone is going through.

Be real, be authentic, be you. What makes you different is what makes you great.

Stay away from toxic people, and don’t enable or justify poor behavior. You can love someone without them being in your life.

Find a job that pays the bills. If it isn’t your heart’s desire, pursue that on the side. Not all passions immediately turn a profit.

Beware white liars. Small liars become big liars.

Trust your gut and value the opinions of your loved ones. When they all tell you the same thing, it’s time to listen.

Speak the truth regardless of what the consequences may be. Sweeping the truth under the rug creates a mess down the road.

Believe in goodness. Don’t let the bad seeds in your life ruin your hope for mankind.

Stay close to your siblings. Your sibling relationships will be the longest relationships in your life, so nurture the ties. Should the world desert you, I hope your sisters remain as your last friends standing.

Don’t keep score in love. Keeping score is exhausting and breeds competition. Nothing about love should be competitive.

In both friendship and love, it’s better to be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong reasons. If someone treats you poorly or puts you on an emotional roller coaster, distance yourself. A relationship is not about you keeping another person happy. It’s about two people helping each other grow and get better, being stronger together than apart. (Think of it as synergy, where 1 + 1 = 3.)

Say what you mean. It’s unfair to expect others to be mind-readers.

When you’re upset, ask yourself if the issue will matter in one year, five years, twenty years… Chances are it won’t.

 

* The final word of advice was to Keep God First. I can’t seem to find a way to alter that to make it fit my particular flavor of spirituality. I could be trite and change it to Keep Nature First, but that doesn’t have the same intention, really. My spirituality doesn’t have the same place in my life as it does for many Christians, and so I don’t feel the urgency to demand that the ephemeral concept of deity, however I see it, be first in all things.

Cleansing Breaths

I’m gonna vent here a sec.

You may not know because I haven’t posted about it here, but I got a promotion at work. Long awaited. Full time, and I’m currently in training as a dog trainer. I have been asked 3 times over the last six months or so to take this position, and twice I declined because I didn’t want drama with the current dog trainer, who is very insecure about her job, very immature, and very unprofessional. I was, in fact, asked to become a dog trainer before they gave the job to her, but at the time my life was in a state that I didn’t feel it was my path.

Since my promotion was announced, she has been a royal b-tch to me. She supposedly screamed at our Operations manager when she was told, and recently has taken to calling me names to other employees. Names that one of those employees wouldn’t even repeat. Spoken very loudly, on the sales floor, in front of customers. I was told this not only by the employee she was talking to, but by two managers.

Now, when this trainer got her promotion, I was supportive of her. I have been supportive of her through her entire time as trainer. Everyone else said she wouldn’t make it and I still tried to encourage her. I always have. However she is of the opinion that since I “didn’t have to work as hard as she did” that I don’t deserve it. What she means is that I didn’t have to beg for it like she did, because she begged and pleaded for months before they gave her the opportunity, while it was thrown basically at my feet, and she’s clearly jealous.

Now, I am the one that comes in at 4, 5, and 6 am to cover for other employees. I am the one that does whatever job I am asked in the store, even if it’s cleaning out crap-filled cages and scrubbing disgusting fish tanks. I am the one that doesn’t ever call out sick, and when I do it’s because I absolutely cannot make it to work, and I feel bad for doing it even then. She, on the other hand, calls out sick – even when she has classes – and is always asking to leave early if she doesn’t have a late class. She is the one who won’t cover for anyone. She is the one who has said many times that it’s not her job to do anything but train dogs. Who told me just yesterday that she should be able to go home early because there is ‘nothing for her to do” in a retail store. That she would get in trouble for doing something other than selling classes, even if that something was working on recovery, which is needed every day the store is open and should be done by everyone, from manager to the newest of the new associates.

Her name calling and general attitude was brought to my store manager’s attention today, and she was spoken to apparently. I was asked to talk to the manager too, not because I was in trouble, but because he wanted to make sure I know that he’s not going to allow her to ruin my promotion with her crappy attitude. But it’s affecting me even so. She’s talking about me to other employees. Granted, I think they all like me better than she does, but it’s upsetting. And this claim that I don’t deserve a promotion that I’ve worked my ass off to earn just makes me want to cry. Just because I didn’t have to beg for it like she did doesn’t mean I don’t deserve it.

I’ve had my ups and downs with this girl, but I hoped she would be supportive, especially since I’ve made it clear that my path is not in training. He apparently told her flat out that this is just a step to being a manager for me, and she was stunned, and clearly not supportive, and that’s hurtful too. It makes me really want to reconsider the position, because I don’t know how I can continue to work with her if this is the way she behaves. That’s why I said no twice in the first place. I knew this would happen.

I’m trying very hard not to let it affect me, but obviously, someone calling you names that another person won’t even repeat is hurtful and upsetting. Especially when she then lies about having said anything. When she lies to the manager about having said anything until she is warned that she had better not lie. It’s like being in high school, except I’m almost 40 years old. I’m too old for high school antics. I just want to do my job, do the best job that I can, and not have to deal with all this drama. It makes me want to leave to go to another store, and I know the store manager doesn’t want that.

I really think they’re going to fire her. I really think this is the final straw for her. There’s no reason for her to behave this way, and honestly, she has lost every bit of respect I had for her by saying I didn’t have to work to get the promotion. That’s gorram bullsh-t. I’ve been there almost two years and I work my tail off whenever I’m there. It got noticed, and I’m finally getting to see some fruit from my labor. It’s not fair for her to me pulling this crap and ruining it for me. I honestly think she’s trying to make me miserable so I tell them to forget it.

breathes deeply

Lyrics: The Greenwood Grove, or Let’s Learn the Ogham!

I am the Birch of the new beginnings,
The Rowan star with magic guarding,
Alder sight the future showing,
Sweet Willow sees her Moon arising,
Ash the three realms he is touching,
Hawthorn tells us the May is coming,
Mighty Oak with strength is stahding,
The Holly on his chariot riding.

(Chorus)
Come follow me, come dance with me,
Come with me to the Greenwood Grove such magic there to
See.
The Lord of the Wild, with his Faerie kin,
Deep within the Greenwood Grove,
We’ll dance the Magic Ring.

Wise Hazel watches the salmon feeding,
The Faerie Apple seed is falling,
The Vine is ripe intoxicating,
I am the Ivy heed my warning,
Yellow Broom I offer healing,
Blackthorn sharp for death preparing,
The Elder is a life of learning,
Fir the distant future showing.

I am the gorse I am destroying,
Heather from death recreating,
Hear the Aspen’s leaves a-whispering,
That Yew is death and life returning.

Alban Eilir

Today is the first day of Spring. Today the Earth pauses at a point in her orbit that makes the day and night equal – although actually that equality happened three days ago on the full moon – and from this point forward the sun blesses the planet more than the moon. Today the Oak King and Holly King continue their battle, today that battle reaches its climax, for they are equally matched, but soon the Oak Kill will prevail, will vanquish his brother, and will rule over the earth until Autumn begins. While Imboc is the celebration of light’s slow return from the darkness, Alban Elilir is the time when that renewal starts to see fruit: buds are forming on trees, crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils and hyacinths are beginning to appear, and the air is warming day by day.

Non-Druids would call today Ostara, and it is from that name that Easter comes from. It is just as much a time of balance and of renewal for non-Druidic pagans as it is for the Druids, in fact. Many of the symbols are the same, such as the egg, the budding flower. Even the trefoil, or three-leaved clover, is a symbol of spring more than just of Saint Patrick’s Day. Lambs are also a symbol of this time, and baby rabbits and chicks. New birth in all its forms is evidence of the renewal of the Earth under the warmth of the sun.

I have spent the last month or so cleaning house. We’re clearing out old things, unwanted and unneeded things, broken and unfixable things. We’re clearing the clutter that makes us both unhappy. There are a few things left to do, but we’re getting there. Today I have begin the day by opening the windows, to let in the light and the gloriously warm(er) temperatures. I will get out in the light as well, for after a few days of frigid weather I’m dying to take a walk, to see all the new life blooming. I think I will also get us some fresh fruit, and plan on having waffles and eggs for supper. (Real waffles, not those incredibly dense buckwheat ones.) I might even start making some yarn-covered eggs for decorating for Easter, and work on a new besom for my car and some decorations for the pentacle I keep on my door.

Besides that, I’m just going to reflect on balance today. I’m still working on finding my balance. It’s been a year since the greatest upheaval in my life, and I’ll admit I’m still touched by it at times. I see it as a time of learning, though. I had indeed forgotten who I was in the last several years of struggle, and I needed something big to shake me up and help me find my soul once more, and teach me how to nourish it.

~

Three lessons that Spring offers:
find balance,
seek renewal,
live life.

Bringing Spring

Imbolc has passed, and while it was a rather quiet celebration for me, I did give a lot of thought to how I was going to move forward with my plans for the year. I had seen my hyacinths beginning to peek above the mulch, and had been looking for bulbs so that I could force some pretty flowers inside. Unfortunately I didn’t think about the fact that most of the bulbs I want to force are planted in the fall, so finding them in local stores in the spring would be nigh impossible.

Jason and I did get supplies so we can start seedlings inside, however. I settled on a few herbs and flowers that I love. For flowers, I got a variety of dwarf sunflowers (talk about bringing back the sun, right?) and zinnia and forget-me-nots. I also chose calendula, which is an annual flower also used in herbal teas. The herbs I chose so far are spearmint, catnip, and stevia. I hope to get a few more, but I’m having trouble sourcing the seeds. Chamomile and lemon balm are a couple I definitely want to grow myself, but I also am thinking of things like mugwort, hyssop, lavender, lemon verbena. I’m fairly certain some of the others I would llike to use for teas are things I can’t easily grow myself. Things like tulsi, and echinacea, and milky oats, and bergamot. They all seem like something I’m better off sourcing the already dried parts.

We had a rather impressive snow storm here this past week. It wasn’t a true ‘storm’ but it was a significant event because we received about 6-8 inches of snow and on top of that about half an inch of ice. That sort of snow and ice pretty much shuts down the area, because the budget just doesn’t allow for the treatment of roads in the snow. They brine them, sure, but there aren’t many plows and such. We were stuck inside for most of the last week, and on Friday we had the first opportunity to do much of anything.

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Because my car isn’t exactly idea for driving in bad conditions, I stayed home, but chose to take the opportunity to start my seedlings inside. I planted everything but the stevia in my little peat pot kit; I’ll start the stevia in a month or so, on the advice of my garden guru, Meredith. Right now they’re sitting in the front window, it doesn’t get full sun there but it does get a good bit which I hope will help the seeds germinate. I’m looking forward to planting the herbs in several pots, and the flowers in the beds outside. I hope I’ll be able to find the rest of my desire seed in the next couple of weeks, so everything will be growing by mid-march.

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Nearly all the snow has melted away, except in areas that the sun rarely touches, and I’m okay with that. Living in the South, I definitely miss the snow, because I grew up in a climate that saw a great deal more of it. It helped to delineate the seasons a bit more. We do still get a little snow once a year, usually in February. It’s a little odd for it to come when those of us who follow the seasons are already looking forward to spring, but I think it makes sense in some ways. Once it snows and that snow melts, we can begin looking forward to spring fully.

I’m doing that by getting a jump on my ‘spring cleaning’ as well, a little bit every day. Rather than trying to devote an entire day to cleaning the house from top to bottom, I’m taking time every day to work on one small part that needs attention. It’s making the task a lot more manageable, so that I will hopefully be happy with the state of our home by the time Alban Eilir comes around in March.

 

 

 

 

 

Making a Practice

I have been continuing my OBOD Bardic Grade studies, though I will admit that I have not been terribly consistent in the suggestion of daily/weekly practice of the Light Body exercise and the Bardic Grove exercise. I have never had much in the way of a daily ritual in that way, even when I was a Catholic. Scheduled prayer always irritated me somehow.

I do see how developing a regular practice is beneficial to my well being, to my health. It’s not that I don’t recognize that. It’s just that my current daily schedule is still so uneven that it’s not always possible for me to perform meditation before I start my day, and I’ve always been one of those people who gets discouraged if I falter on any path. This is something I’m working on, however. I think that right there tells me what I need to know, actually. On days when it is possible, I need to try at the very least to sit in stillness, to perform the Light Body exercise and the Bardic Grove exercise – especially if I’m going to be writing and want to tap into that inner fount of Awen.

I am making a commitment to myself, then, to practice the light body and bardic grove exercises four times a week. I am allowing myself to choose when I do this. At times, it may be easier to do this in the morning, and at other times it may be easier to do this in the evening, and that is okay. I will also keep a journal of my experiences, so that I can look back over my journey and see where I have come from. I think this will be useful to me in the long run.

I spent the better part of yesterday listening to the next set of Gwersi. I find it helps me to listen to them while I’m doing something like knitting, or spinning, at least the first time through. Since I don’t have the printed copies, I feel that listening to them once this way allows the material to soak into my mind and into my soul. I will later delve into the material more deeply, and connect it to my understanding of the world. Coming from an existence as a Witch (though not Wiccan) I find I’m having to assimilate some ideas a little more, and there are some things – mostly to do with ritual – that I’m having to go back to later.

I’m not certain if that’s because the rituals don’t speak to me because of their Druidic focus, or if it is because they were written by another. I’m guessing it’s a little of both, but also reflects again that lack of practice. Nothing feels “right” the first time, or the first few times. Unless you count spinning for me, because the first time I sat at the spinning when I was apparently a prodigy, though even I will admit while I was able to produce rather pretty yarn, I didn’t understand what I was doing. It took me months yet to reach a point where I actually understood the process and how it was working between my hands and the wheel, and I’m still not at a point where I would call myself an expert spinner.