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Archive for September, 2011

Harvest Poem

Snowhawke offering a toast of gratitude for the harvestSometimes our harvests are not what we expected them to be. Sometimes the nature of our harvest is simply too complex to spell out. Expression is important though and the results of our efforts can perhaps best be expressed through poetry. So I offer up this harvest poem for you all.

Blessings of change,
Life’s possibilities unfolding,
Snowhawke /|\

Transitions

Stars wheel overhead, my back to the ground
warm comfort of Mother Earth on a chilly September evening
My fire is transforming old wood
From worn out porch, to pure energy
From broken step, to glowing coals
Salamanders dancing

I see the North star and I think of space travel
Trillions of stars, parallel universes, endless possible lives based on choice
It is a fantasy in which I allow myself to wander into

What is it I am hoping to find?
A different life?
Another lover?
A different dynamic of living?
Another culture?
Another time frame?

Who knows.

Perpetual dissatisfaction isn’t the reason
At the core, I simply dream

Leaves are turning
The harvest equinox arrives this week
My life is boxed up as I prepare to move
I worked hard to finish stacking firewood for the new owner
I patched the roof
I boxed my books

In the distance I hear geese honking
Night flight as they race the shortening days
I lift my mead horn to the heavens
I lift my horn to the trees
Hail to the Spirits of this Place
Hail to the gods of transformation
Hail to the stars as I sit lost,
in the middle of a Universe of my own creation

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Altars Alter

I was looking through old photos of altars that my grove created as part of our rituals. I was struck by their variety and beauty. It never fails that when we co-create our ritual space, the altars always hum with beauty. They are also perfectly appropriate and effective.

But what is the point? Are we crafting altars for beauty’s sake? No, it goes much deeper than just making something beautiful.

When crafting sacred space we begin with the altar. It is a tool that begins the process of stopping the external distraction and moving towards local engagement. It is the first step in taking the time to stop and remember what is sacred in our life. It is the beginning of re-establishing our connection to that which we hold as sacred.

So how do we craft these altars?

The first step is determining where the altar should be. In ritual space that we have used many times, it may be tradition for the altar to be a certain spot. But often my grove works in places we haven’t been before. We are out in Nature. Determining the location for the altar has everything to do with listening to the Spirits of Place. We begin with crafting relationship to the environment and the spirits there. And when I say spirits, I don’t mean anything “supernatural”. I mean everything we can perceive, the trees, rocks, wind, streams, rivers, animals, flowers, sedges, moss, Nature. And Nature does include the unseen – the spirit guardians of the land, the fey, nature spirits and the ancestors of the land. We start with listening. Listening tells us if we our presence is accepted by the land. Listening tells us what the boundaries are and gives us an idea of how we move in this place. And by move, I mean how we act, our motions and our attitude, our way of being.

Once we find our place within the place, we begin with the focal point of the altar. We use our collective hearts and minds to place items in a way that express our connection with that which is holy. It isn’t complicated, although some altars can be quite elaborate. We build in physical reality a place of sanctity.

Our altars are always appropriate for the place and the time of year. Since we are in Nature, the items on the altar will naturally reflect the essence of the season. For this time of year, the fallen leaves from the hurricane, wild blueberries and blackberries, abandoned bird nest, an apple, whatever is around that calls to us. We only use these items temporarily and we ask permission to use them at all. Many times I have reached for a stone or feather or mushroom, only to have my nemeton find an edge, and I listen to that soul, leaving them in place, I move on. I don’t impose my will. I don’t rip wild flowers from the ground, killing them for my own purpose.

We often bring items from our own human life that help us remember the sacred. Photos, obituaries, chalices, drawings, poems, censors, plates of prepared food, sickles and other tools, items that have meaning for us.

And why do we gather and bring these things? Why build the altar at all? The mere act of crafting an altar, alters our state of mind. We move for the mundane to the sacred is an instant. Building the altar tells us, this isn’t social time anymore. This is our time to do our spiritual work, to connect to the land, the people and the gods, to find our place in the flow of Nature so our actions aren’t counter to the currents and tides of Mother Earth. Altars remind us we are walking in the holy land, that we are always wrapped in the divine nature of deity. We aren’t outside that which is sacred. They remind us of our commitment to live ethically and to walk gently on the Earth. They remind us that our lives aren’t separate, but rather entwined. We aren’t alone. We are a tribe, a circle. And when we are a circle, it is an altar big enough for us to stand on. We are strong.

Blessings of sanctity,
Snowhawke /|\

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Redefining Prayer

I just got of the phone with a dear friend and mentor of mine in California. We had a great conversation and got on the topic of prayer. From our sharing, something shifted for me regarding the nature of prayer and how to speak about it.

Most people have the idea of prayer as talking to deity where they beseech for forgiveness, petition for help, ask for wisdom and clarity, or to give thanks. It is also commonly an act of submission, humbling oneself before God, offering up one’s life as a tool for God to use.

Pagans may pray to many different deities. Yet prayer within the pagan community if frequently very similar in nature to the monotheistic religions. It is again one of petition or submission.

I think of prayer very differently. It is the counterpart to meditation. My Druidry teacher, Bobcat, once told me, “Meditation is listening, prayer is speaking back”. This implies relationship, a circular motion, listening first and then speaking. Talking with my friend in California, he put words to this that made a light go on. He said, “prayer is engagement”.

Thinking of prayer as engagement instead of words, is very helpful in learning to communicate with that which isn’t verbal. I don’t hear words when I work with the wind, the forest, the moon, the ocean or with the fire which keeps me warm all winter. There is honorable exchange though and deep relationship, a sacred one and a religious one.

Prayer isn’t limited to our relationship to deity.

The form prayer takes is limitless. Prayer can be a gesture. It can be a word or many words. It can be song. It can be a dance, a conscious exhale, the leaving of a piece of food on a log, the wiping of sweat from the brow, it can be orgasm. Where these things go from the mundane to the sacred, from simple communication to prayer is in the level of engagement. It is engagement where we open our soul to share true intimacy. When we are in this state, all returned communication becomes prayer. Engaged, fully present, co-creating.

Many blessings,
Snowhawke /|\

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