Saturday, August 23, 2014

Omega Point (Apollon rite)

I finally got a ritual done for Apollon. We had been trying to for a month and, for one reason or another, had not managed it. First, the weekend arrived faster than I could prepare. The next weekend was the healing weekend at CedarLight Grove. We tried the weekend after that but had one mishap after another until we called it off before finishing.

So today I got it done, and it went fine, but felt emotionally uninvolving. The omen reflected this, I think. I have the help of the gods on my path, but more warnings (these have been consistent) about how no harvest comes from a withered branch (omega), and nothing can be reaped that has not been sown.

I’ve applied for admission to the clergy training program, but it may be that I am moving a little too quickly. These same tiles have occurred in oracles a few times lately, and that seems to be the context for it.

I’m also beginning to think that the plan to honor each of the major Hellenic gods in turn in an arbitrary order is not the best way to meet the pantheon. I’m going to mull that one a bit. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: When A Pagan Prays

Religion and prayer go hand-in-hand and paganism is no exception to the rule. Nimue Brown has here written a lengthy treatise on the place of prayer in pagan religion, and offers many useful insights. She discusses the ethics of prayer, its actual practice, the balance of prayer and action and its place in magic and ritual, to name just a few topics.

Brown began the work that became this book out of intellectual curiosity. She is a Druid, a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and -- significantly for readers of this book -- a nontheist. She  rejects the label atheist because "it seems too much like certainty to me," but nevertheless, she does not include gods in her pagan practice. Her spirituality did not include prayer per se because, without deities, to just whom is one praying?

Buy the book

When she became interested in prayer, she looked into Christian, Buddhist and Shinto practices among others to gain insight into how prayer manifests in various religions. An early and important revelation was in a book by a Christian author who wrote that prayer is "about entering a mystery, not getting a result." From there, Brown launched into a personal experiment with prayer, from which this book eventually emerged.

She explores each of her topics in considerable depth, and brings a great deal of scholarship to bear. Attempting to summarize it would not do justice to it, because watching her thoughts reveal themselves in full measure is one of the pleasures of reading this work.

As an OBOD Druid, Brown has a particular perspective, as would a Hellenic Reconstructionist or an Asutruar. "Pagan" has become too big a word to mean much specific; however, she says emphatically and frequently through the book that she is intending only to describe her thoughts and experience, not to issue proclamations that everyone should accept. With that caveat in mind, she has written an interesting and useful book.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Further along the initiate path

I am now done with the fully academic courses in ADF’s Initiate Program. Those that remain require several months of practice, journaling and distilling essays from the journals.

I am finding the coursework really rewarding. General Bardic Studies I reawakened my interest in writing poetry, and it has also fed my devotional work as I’ve been writing poems for the gods in the course of getting to know them. I have written for Poseidon, Demeter and Athena, and Apollon is next on the list.

Poetry awakens an alternate language of a sort. My approach, as a tool for initiating a relationship, has been to find a personal connection between my own life and the god’s nature (my love of the sea for Poseidon, my interest in justice for Athena) and then developing a metrical poem that expresses that. The deities seem to appreciate the effort, if the omens are any indication. 

Historically, poetic forms have been an important aspect of every oral culture. Meter and rhyme make words more memorable, easier to pass along, easier to preserve across generations. Hymns and prayers are often in verse, so this practice is time-honored.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Poseidon, Do-Over

My plan to honor the Hellenic deities one at a time is underway. After good rituals offering to Zeus and Hera came a disastrous one to Poseidon.

I read up a bit on him and wrote a few words, making an offering of Nori (seaweed sheets used in sushi). The omens made it clear that the gods didn’t think much of the ritual and the effort I put into it; you can’t reap what you haven’t sown, was the gist. Even the suet block we put out for the birds (nature spirits) has gone untouched.

I was duly chagrined by this, but determined to redouble my effort. Rather than moving on to the next deity on the list, I approached Poseidon anew. I read more, including some original material from Homer as well as secondary sources. And I composed a poem, the first time ever that I’ve written an original bardic offering. (For now, I'm not going to share it, as it was an offering for him; I may in time.)

When it came time to draw the omen, I asked (as I had last week) the single question: Have we honored you well?

The first tile, Lamba, slipped out of my fingers, hit the altar and bounced to the left into the liquid offering bowl. Its meaning:

“The one passing on the left bodes well for everything.”

Next, Alpha:

“The god says you will do everything successfully.”

Finally, Sigma:

“Phoibos (Apollon) speaks plainly, ‘Stay, friend.’”

After that we drew three more, one for each of the three kindreds: Ancestors, nature spirits and gods. They also were positive, and for the gods I drew Psi, which is shaped like Poseidon’s trident and means “You have this righteous judgment from the gods.”

Overall, I take this to mean: Poseidon was pleased with the second effort, happily accepts our offerings, and the gods overall share this judgment.

The gods ask us to approach them as the powerful beings they are. They are not coming over to help us clean the garage, they attend our rites, if they do, to accept honor, worship and offerings. They are not buddies (though some, like Hermes, can become pretty chummy with time), and rightfully require some respect.

The experience reminded me of a principle I’ve long held to: It’s better to not do a ritual at all than to do it half-assed. The ritual I put together last week was fine from a ritual mechanics point of view, but lacked any sort of personal connection. I had no real reason to call Poseidon except that it was turn, and he had no reason to respond to the call. The second time, I found that personal connection and built the ritual around it. It made all the difference. 

Hail Poseidon! And thank you for the firm hand. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Trial Run

I am now working on the Initiate Path in ADF, and one of the courses, Liturgy Practicum I, requires me to document home worship for at least four months.

In the spirit of starting fresh, I created a full ritual for the Hellenic hearth. I did not write most of it – I adapted it from a rite ADF member Jeremy Baer wrote and from prayers by Hester Butler-Ehle from her book “Devotion” – but I did write a portion for the agathos daimon, and adapted some of the Baer material.
Here’s the basic structure:

Ground and center


A child of the Earth approaches the Kindred to offer honor and welcome to the Earth Mother, the spirit of the house, the ancestors, nature spirits and the gods and goddesses.

{Conduct Two Powers for ground/center)

Beneath us are the waters of the earth.
The waters are dark, still and powerful.
The waters contain the memories of countless ages.
Behold, the waters are the Sacred Well.
Sacred Well, flow within us!
Above us burn the flames of heaven.
The flames are bright, quick, and dazzling.
The flames contain the vision of ages to come.
Behold, the flames are the Sacred Fire.
Sacred Fire, burn within us!
At the center of the world stands a stone
The Omphalos, the navel of the world.
It holds all, in all ages past and all ages hence.
Behold, the Sacred Stone.
Sacred Stone, anchor us!
Beneath our feet stretches the land!
The land is powerful, the land is ancient.
It teems with the flow and ebb of life immortal.
Hail to the land!
Hail to the Land!
Above us spans the sky.
The sky is vast, the sky is ancient.
It stands above us triumphant and ageless.
Hail to the Sky!
Hail to the Sky!
Beyond us rushes the sea.
The sea is deep, the sea is strong.
The sea surrounds us always and forever.
Hail to the Sea!
Hail to the Sea!
We stand at the Sacred Center of All Things. All places and all times. From this place all things were born, and to this place all things return. In this place all worlds are entwined. In this place, all beings are conjoined. We stand before eternity to meet the gods and spirits. Be it so!

Earth mother on whose sacred soil we tread, we are your children. We eat your food, drink your water and breathe your air. Boundless is the bounty you bestow upon us. We honor your gifts.
Earth Mother, accept our offering!

Agathos daimon, you protect us. You safeguard our home and you guide us to right decisions. Your guidance steadies our steps. We thank you and honor you.
Agathos Daimon, accept our sacrifice.

To the spirits of the dead,
Who dwell in the halls of death,
and who are buried in the Earth Mother's bosom.
Look kindly on the living.
Gift us your love and your guidance.
Hail to the Ancestors!
Ancestors, accept our offering.

To the spirits of the Earth.
Fur and feather, root and branch
May we be at peace with each other.
Look kindly on us,
and gift us with your bounty.
Hail to the Nature Spirits!
Nature Spirits, accept our offering.

To the gods and goddesses,
The folk give you honor.
We stand before you strength, your wisdom, and your hospitality.
Look kindly upon the Folk,
And grant us your many Blessings.
Hail to the Gods and Goddesses!
Gods and Goddesses, accept our offering.


The text below or a similar devotional:

Hestia, heart of the house, first born and last: for light and warmth, home and hearth, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Awesome Zeus, mightiest of all the gods: protector and rain-bringer, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Noble Hera, defender of marriage: for family and fidelity, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Poseidon, lord of the ocean depths: friend to sailors and seafarers, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Demeter, best of mothers, gracious one: for fertile fields and fruit-filled trees, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Hades, ruler of the vast underworld: for a gentle end to a long life, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Athena, grey-eyed daughter of great Zeus: for wisdom, for skill, for victory, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Shining Apollo, archer unerring: for health, for art, for music, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Artemis, first-born child of fair Leto: protector of our children, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Hermes, clever son of Zeus and Maia: for wit and luck and humor, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Glorious Aphrodite, kind one, fair one: for love, for lust, for passion, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Ares, who takes joy in combat and strife: for strength, for will, for vigor, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Skillful Hephaistos, maker of marvels: for craft and invention, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Dionysos, beautiful god of the vine: for rapture and transcendence, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Great Hekate, ever-watchful maiden: torch-bearing guide and guardian, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Persephone, lovely queen of the dead: you who will welcome us all, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Goat-footed Pan, roamer in wild places: for instinct and unreason, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Eros, irresistible force of desire: for mindless, ruthless passion, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Asklepios, wisest of physicians: for health and for healing, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Fair Tyche, provider of all good things: for luck so kindly given, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

Nike, patron of athlete and soldier: for all our victories, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.
Gaia, ancient one on whose flesh we tread: for our lives, for existence, we thank you. One voice among many, I honor you.

(Offering to the gods)

Gods and Goddesses, accept our offering!


We have honored the gods and goddesses, the spirits of nature, the ancestors and the agathos daimon. Now it is time to ask them for their guidance and blessing.


We thank you for your blessings. Now I charge the waters of life to bear these blessings, that we may drink deeply.


Hail to the Gods and Goddesses! Hail to the Nature Spirits! Hail to the Ancestors! Hail to the Agathos Daimon! Hail to the Earth Mother! Thank you being at this rite! We honor you always as we walk the Elder Ways.

This rite is ended.


I gave the ritual a trial run today. I performed it as written above, but with special sections added for Hermes and Hera (whom Lynda and I feel most close to), and Hestia (the patroness of every home.)

I showered for purification, and gathered up offerings. For Hestia, incense; for the ancestors, black coffee (my dad and grandmother were both aficianados); the Earth Mother and the nature spirits, grain; the gods and goddesses in general, frankincense recels; the Greek gods specifically, watered wine; Hera, incense; Hermes incense.

I used the Lycian Oracle for an omen, and I believe the upshot was: The kindred like this ritual, but caution me not to undertake it without commitment to carry it out regularly, even when I might not feel like it (zeta clarified by eta); they offer me patience, probably meaning the patience I’ll need for long term regular practice (rho), and ask of me perseverance (omicron).

I think it went well, and smoothly. I am sure I will refine it further with experience. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014


On the heels of figuring out where I went wrong, I felt I owed Hermes an apology. After an early shower (combining ritual purification and regular hygiene for efficiency), I made offerings to Hestia and to him, at their respective shrines.

To Hermes, I explained what I had figured out, and offered wine in addition to the usual frankincense. Then I turned to the oracle. Here are the results and my interpretation.

Am I correct in my understanding?

Eta: Yup. The unworthy motivation of my earlier offerings was plain to the gods.

Is this offering sufficient to make amends?

Gamma: Yes, but always remember that reward comes from labor. That is, honor the gods continually rather than coming once in a while to ask a favor.

Any further advice?

Phi: Take responsibility for your actions; don’t blame the gods for your own mistakes.

Honored Hermes, my patron god, thank you for your instruction. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lesson Learned

The moments before we departed on our trip seemed auspicious. We poured a full bottle of wine, with water, for Hermes, with two requests: Keep us safe on our travels, and grant us good fortune in Vegas.
We used the Greek alphabet oracle and drew what seemed to be a positive response. So off we went, all optimistic.

Our first flight went fine, but then our second one was delayed several hours due to mechanical problems. Luckily we had no more connections to catch, but we had about four hours of sitting idle in Detroit waiting. Then we had great difficulty finding dinner in Vegas, involving cabs, crowds, noise, way too much walking around getting hungrier by the minute, finding two-hour waits for overpriced food before finally getting what turned out to be a good and reasonably-priced dinner at Margaritaville.

Our gaming also sputtered. I think we lost around $20 or so in the slot machines, although there was one point I could have stopped about $17 ahead.

Then it was on to California for the family visit that was the main part of this trip. After a couple of decent days, I got a stomach bug and spent Saturday with the rest of the family touring a ghost town that luckily had decent public restrooms, because I needed one about every twenty minutes.

After that ordeal, I had to drive myself three hours back to Vegas to come home (Lynda is staying out an additional week), still fighting the stomach upset. And once I finally landed, it took me an hour of wandering around the airport parking lot to find my car.

Thanks, Hermes!

It certainly seemed like he was ignoring my prayers or even deliberately screwing with me, but having had a couple of days to think about it, I’ve had some notions of why. I think I am guilty of doing just what I’ve advised others not to do: Treating the gods as wish-fulfillment machines.

Here I come to Hermes, after months of very inconsistent worship, suddenly approaching with a bottle of wine and a smile and a ‘by the way, could you maybe … ‘ “Hermes is not an ATM” is the wording that crossed my mind.

And I think there it is. Reciprocity. The gods are not amenable to being hit up for big favors after months of neglect. He didn’t let me down, and he certainly granted the most important part of the request, safe travels. But he did rather firmly remind me that this is a two-way street.

Hail to the fleet-footed, quick-witted shining one. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

So I'm out

On May 2, I came out. It was National Pagan Coming-Out Day (not a federal holiday), and I shared the graphic on my Facebook wall.

So, yeah.

I'm not sure how much of a step it was given that I have not been especially subtle about it for a couple of years. The only thing that has really kept me at all reserved is a relative who I expect will not understand and will feel sadness or even stress about it. (But also who has certainly figured it out and simply chosen not to pursue a conversation about it, which is fine with me.)

But, the time has come. I've been "exploring" for several years now, and delved deeply enough into study programs to be sure that this is my religious identity.

So, I'm out.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I digress

In my last post, which I know was too long ago, I said my personal practice has been faltering. "I have a hard time maintaining regular habits of piety and meditation, but I am eager to set about changing that," I wrote then.

I put a lot of thought into that reality, and as a result, I have shifted gears. Rather than moving directly into ADF clergy training, I'm going to undertake the Initiate Program first. It continues the academic study that I began with the clergy preliminary work, but it also requires steady and consistent devotional, divination and meditation/trance practice, with documentation. I believe I should deepen my own spiritual dimension before presuming to lead other, and I believe the IP will be instrumental in my doing that,  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reflections upon finishing the latest phase

I have come a long way on my ADF journey. I made a false start in 2008, and after attending a ritual and reading a bit, I felt led to give the Christianity of my upbringing one last try. (Blame Rich Mullins). I had not been a practicing Christian in years, but that was my childhood religion, and even though I had essentially left it behind (a few times!), its echoes continued to reverberate. So I put pagan religion aside and found an Episcopal church nearby. (My own heritage is United Methodist, but I wanted something a bit different.)

The experience was not bad, but nowhere near as satisfying as I had thought it might be. Despite the eagerness with which I had started, even arranging to meet one of the priests for morning coffee and conversation, I was ready to call it done in just a few months. 

After Lynda moved in in 2011, we joined ADF together, and that was when it really started to click. I tackled the Dedicant program with enthusiasm and delved into study and practice. It's important to say, though, that I was not committed to the path. I took seriously the idea that the Dedicant Path is intended to help the beginner figure out whether paganism in general and ADF Druidry in particular, is the right place to be. I've heard some describe finding ADF, or another pagan path, as being like "coming home." For me it was more like walking around a strange town and trying to decide whether I liked it. I even left that town a time or two during the exploration. Those departures, though, were short-lived and, rather than looking around for something else, ADF was the only place I wanted to return to. When I had completed all of the Dedicant study and the time came to write and then swear the final dedicant's oath, it came easily. 

It is my will to walk the pagan way. By the gods and by the dead and by all the spirits. I swear to live by the virtues given by tradition, to strive to act mindfully to do good in all I do.  I swear to keep the feasts and observances of the Druid way, keeping the wheel of the year. I swear to seek the truth of the elder ways, to learn the lore and meaning of our ancestors' wisdom. I swear to cultivate the habits of piety, contemplation, prayer and study. 

I am certain that if I had not undertaken the study program, I would not have reached the point, at least not in the time that I did. The DP, for all its faults (and there are a few), is a a very well-crafted program for leading the student to both knowledge and experience. Those who take it as a serious opportunity to learn, rather than a requirement to check off, will be well-rewarded with a deeper understanding of why various aspects of the ritual and religion are there, what purpose they serve, and how far they can be stretched without losing their essential importance. As the DP also requires a regular mental discipline practice and rituals to mark the eight high days (at a minimum), the student comes away with a feel for what ADF practice is all about as well, a good base of experience from which to decide whether it suits. 

I have felt a call to clergy for most of my life. Twice I considered leaving my profession and attending seminary as a United Methodist, and came very close to actually doing so once. But it never felt quite right. Now I am pursuing ordination with ADF and have completed the preliminary coursework necessary to apply for admission to the First Circle. As I found with the DP, the curriculum is well-designed to increase the base already established. In the past eight months, from finishing the DP through finishing the six CTP Prelim courses, I think I've gained an even deeper understanding.  

Where I falter is regular practice, and it is here I will have to apply the most effort as a clergy student, or even just as a follower of this religion. I have a hard time maintaining regular habits of piety and meditation, but I am eager to set about changing that. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

On The Cusp

The Indo-European Mythology I course took a good bit longer than I expected, mainly because of time needed to look up good references for everything. But it is submitted for approval now. IE Myth is the final course in the preliminary clergy training program -- once it is approved I can apply for admission to the First Circle study and, once completed, I will be eligible for ordination.

This is really exciting to me. I have felt a call toward ministry for many years, even came close to going to seminary when I was still a United Methodist. ADF's program is rigorous, but a bit less all-consuming than a three-year master's program would be.

I need to put some thought into formulating a good explanation of the reasons for this desire, for the application. Whatever I finally come up with to say, though, I know that this feels like the path I need to be on.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Land, Sky and Sea

From my earliest memories, I have felt both connected to and overwhelmed by the world around me. The roaring wind. The vast sea. The limitless reaches of the sky. This sense of connection is one of the things that first drew me to Druidry. I do not claim to be an avid outdoorsman, because I'm not (although sometimes I want to be), but I do attest to a feeling of continuity with nature.

I am not quite finished reading Emma Restall Orr's The Wakeful World, but I can say that her argument for animism makes sense to me, and puts a context around this feeling of connectedness. As she presents it, animism is the idea that all of nature is minded. Everything, even the things we don't perceive as animate, has some sort of perception and a place in the vast grandeur of nature.

I will have more thoughts on this soon, but I want to finish the book before I say too much. For now, I can say that it provides an elegant philosophical basis for pagan religion, and can enrich one's practice.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good Omen

During the ritual that I mentioned here, I pulled a four-card draw from the Wildwood Tarot for my omen. I asked each of the Kindred, and then Cernunnos specifically, for guidance as this new year begins. I think you'll be impressed by the consistent message.

Ancestors: Ace of Arrows: The Breath of Life -- our minds are linked to a greater consciousness. When an idea begins to form, we can tap into the energies of that connection to give it form and power.

Nature Spirits: Six of Arrows: Movement toward new possibilities, or cycles.

Shining Ones: The Wanderer (the Fool in other decks): The beginning of a new phase, the end of one journey and the start of another.

Cernunnos: Five of Bows: Facing and defeating fears; empowerment, possibly through the mastery of a skill or discipline.

Altogether, it suggests that my spiritual growth is reaching a new level ... that my intuition, desiring renewed attention to nature, to earthiness, is movement in the right direction.

Playing in the Mud

I’ve had a lot of signs about mud lately.

I’ve been reading about animism, and am currently about 2/3 of the way through the marvelously dense The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature, by Emma Restall Orr. It’s giving rise to a new appreciation for nature and a desire to spend more time out in it. Then, last Saturday, a seer at the Grove suggested the same to me, without knowing anything of that recent reading and thinking.

While listening to an old episode of Druidcast, I encountered the song “Spirit and Soul and Handful of Mud,” by James J. Turner, which speaks powerfully to that same impulse.

Also, for the past few months I’ve felt some interest in Cernunnos, a deity whose wildness appeals although I have had no prior relationship with him. 

Today, I plan to make offering to him during ritual and try to open that door a bit. My practice has been centered on the intellectual and practical for a while. Now, the time feels right for earthiness.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Reading for 2014

In my opinion, one of the best Tarot spreads suitable for annual readings (whether at the New Year, one's birthday, or other yearly milestones) is Joanna Powell Colbert's Out With the Old, In With the New Spread.  I did my reading or 2014 yesterday, using Zach Wong's Revelations Tarot.

1. What do I leave behind in the Old Year?
3 of Wands Rx

This year, I leave behind my tendency to let things go until opportunities fall apart - I will stop dissipating my energy so that nothing worthy manifests. I will stop expending my energy with no commitment to my goals.

2. What do I open up to in the New Year?
3 of Pentacles

This year, I open myself to accepting the mentoring of those who can help me grow and develop my ability to create something concrete of lasting value.  This year, I will learn what I need to to be able to contribute to our financial and material wellbeing. (we being at home, at the Grove and elsewhere where I share a group identity)

3. Key Opportunity of the New Year
6 of Wands

My key opportunity this year is to be able to achieve in a way that comes with public acclaim and appreciation - I should expect to find myself more in the spotlight this year, and to be a motivating force for improving the morale of those around me.  This is the year to get comfortable with being noticed and appreciated. (this feels so much more like a challenge than an opportunity to me!)

4. Key Challenge of the New Year
3 of Cups

My challenge this year is to maintain friendships and a sense of celebration.  I must be mindful of how work and play, friendship and conflict can overlap and not forget how much I like and enjoy the people around me.  My challenge is to approach our encounters with joy and gladness, but also to not lose sight of the distinction between playing as friends and working as colleagues.

5. Hidden concern (pull from bottom of the deck)
0 The Fool

My hidden concern is that I don't know what I'm doing, and that where I am not worrying it is because I haven't noticed the problem.  I don't want to land on my face or bring anyone else down with me.  I'm also concerned that others see me as a fool and too inexperienced to be doing what I am. I am concerned that others may be actively hoping I will fail.

6. Deep Wisdom / Advice from God/dess (pull from middle of the deck)
III Empress

The mother/queen goddesses (Juno and Frigga, primarily - but all of them in some way) are those that call to me - this year, I must lean on their wisdom and operate from within their guidance.  My role as mother is called on - to be a nurturing caretaker of those around me, and of the Earth itself.  To be firm, without being hard.  I should also remember to approach the year from a place of prosperity and abundance - of more than enough and plenty to share, and to help others to grow their own stores.

7. Key Theme of the New Year
2 of Pentacles

My key theme this year is Balance and Meditation - the ability to juggle multiple concerns without undue stress, to see the playfulness in all tasks, to learn to balance physical and material expenditure with recuperation.

Highlighted are wands (energy and will) and pentacles (concrete manifestation).  3s are strongly highlighted - III Empress, and 3 3s (missing is the 3 of Swords - heartbreak and unvarnished honesty).  Working with others to manifest results in a way that strengthens and nurtures the group is important this year - it is a time of teamwork, leadership as gentle guidance and diplomacy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Intentions and a New Moon TUSAL

My year end TUSAL.  What's a TUSAL?  Read on...
This past year has been really full for us - we saw improvements in my health (as much as chronic illness will allow), some challenges in his, we moved toward a more active and highly fulfilling relationship with Cedarlight Grove, I served on the Board at our UU church during a period of great upheaval that is ongoing, we GOT MARRIED, Michael's job of 11 years "downsized" him in a multi-person lay-off (the most recent of several), and that spurred us toward several decisions about long range self employment plans while he quickly took the steps he needed to secure new employment within three weeks.

Roller coaster ride, for sure, complete with scary and exhilarating bits.  I confess, my wish for this year - as it is almost every year - is for peace and quiet.  Peace from contention for myself and those around me, and quiet enough to be able to listen to my interior thoughts.  Of course, a huge part of achieving that is simply insisting on making room for it, and that is something I am always working toward, rather unsuccessfully.  And part of it is dependent on what life brings.  What last year taught me is that Michael and I, between us, can face some challenging stuff without unnecessary trauma.  That's a really nice thing to be able to trust.

I do not, as a rule, make 'resolutions' for New Years, but I do like to set a few intentions, and these are mine:

1.  This is annual - I'll be blocking out what stitchery projects I will be doing throughout the year.  This year, specifically, I want to do ornaments for all nine of my grandchildren.  It's been a few years since I have, and it is time.  Every time I do this, I consider it may be the last time my hands will let me do it for them.  Additionally, I have a couple large pieces for us that I'd like to finish, and I want to work on a couple auction pieces, starting early enough to get them done before various auctions occur. (In other words, plan ahead!)

2. Healthy eating - Michael and I didn't fully give up, but we did allow ourselves to ease up on a lot of snacking and carbs, with inevitable results.  He did such a fantastic job last year shedding weight that has plagued him for a long time, I want to ensure that isn't undone. (Meanwhile, my excess pounds seem to be plastered on with crazy glue, but even without weight loss, I know avoiding certain foods makes me feel better and it's worth it)

3.  Soap Making!  I plan to devote time each month to learning the art of soap making, from simple to progressively challenging.  I am very excited by this! I try to learn a new skill every year, and this is in for 2014.

4. My Dedicant's Program for ADF.  That was the entire basis for beginning this blog.  Michael finished his and is now preparing to work on his Clergy Training... and I'm still puttering along.  I am ok with that as the way it needed to be... it was helpful to me to simply experience ADF without worrying about formulized documentation.  But at this point, that's what's missing - my documentation  And there are so many truly intriguing study options available once this is done, so.... going to get it done.  I'm striving for before my birthday in early June.

5. Household organization - my lifelong nemesis, but becoming SO critical if we are to move forward on our various desires.  I need to set up a systematic plan for decluttering and then maintanence that won't totally run away from me when my RA decides that I can't manage a work day.

6. Finally, this year, I will not only be serving on our UU congregation's board (until summer - I will not be re-running for next year), but I was elected Member Advocate on Cedarlight's Witan (their board).  It's a new position, and that's intimidating enough, but my continuing to feel like I am very new compared to so many others there is also intimidating.  But my intention is to do my very best, and I am humbled by being allowed to serve in this capacity, and very grateful for the opportunity to do so.  I'm thinking a lot of Isaac's Bonewitz' delightful maxim, "Why not Excellence?".


Sooo... TUSAL??  It is the Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long, where each New Moon, stitchers show off not their work, but their jar of thread snippets, or ORTS (Old Ratty Threads).  Why? Well...why NOT?!

Above is my jar over the last year - minus those threads that wound up in little pill bottles when I was out and about and forgot to toss them back into the main jar.  The threads will be set out for birds for nesting materials - I've done various things with them over  the years, from offering them to a good fire to using them to stuff ornaments, but I like offering them to our local birds best.

And so, on this first New Moon of 2014, my totally empty jar awaits a year's worth of filling up.  Into this jar will go the labor of my hands, the love I send to those I stitch for, the meditations that come while hands ply the needle, and the frustrations of threads frogged out again when a mistake has been made.  I look forward to it all.

Happy New Year!

~ Lynda