Post Holiday Write Up – My Fall Equinox

I apologize for the out-of-orderness. Trying to get caught up with my dedicant requirements after a writing hiatus. Expect to see Samhain and Yule up soon as well =)

Autumnal Equinox 

My third ADF rite with Stone Creed Grove

Senior Druid Klaus, trying to make sure Freya got ALL of her honey offering.

It was a soft, grey, rushed kinda day. Trying to take care of the domestic side of things before I left for Tredara was frustrating…but I did get to steal a few minutes of happiness and serenity before I showed up for ritual. Much needed and appreciated, and I arrived in a happy mood.

It was a very subdued crowd. Many had been there all weekend for ‘Aftershock’…a sort of Post-Starwood VIP party (as it was described to me), and everyone seemed to be feeling the effects of a long and happy weekend! :)

I continued my ‘tradition’ of crashing the nemeton set up and talking to (annoying) Klaus and Thex. But I did save the day with a well packed wine key (corkscrew) in my backpack. Yay for having open Kindred offerings! And yay for the Girl Scout motto that I repeated countless times as a child…”Be Prepared!” :) I also got the chance to talk with Liafal a bit, which was really great. I will confess, strong women kinda intimidate me, and the first couple times I attended rites at Stone Creed, I was not brave enough to go talk to her…yeah I’m a shy wuss sometimes…

In the pre-ritual briefing, Ian confirmed what I’d already assumed about the holiday, that it was essentially made up – but it fit nicely in the Wheel of the Year and was a good excuse to have a get together ;)

Honoring Freya

Honoring Frey

  Stone Creed Grove celebrates the ‘Minor High Days’ in the Norse tradition. The Deities of the occasion were the Vanir brother and sister, Frey and Freya.

The Earth Mother invocation honored Nerthus, a Vanir earth goddess who is entreated: “…Showering about us this day, raining sweet flowers and fruitation musky… look kindly on our work.” We also asked “Berchta, beldame of the wheel, spin us good Wyrd this day.” Berchta is said to be ‘a guardian of the beasts’ and is associated with spinning wheels and spinning.

Odin was invoked as our spirit of bardic inspiration. We asked the one eyed rune lord of wisdom to Honor our working, Waken our word skill, Quicken our magic…

Proper offering was made to the south of the grove to the Outdwellers, the unhallowed wights, etins, trolls, all of the out-garth and enemies of Asguard. A gift freely given, and a request to leave our rite untroubled, for our “hall will be well warded by red beard’s might hammer.”

The gatekeeper was Heimdall, who opened his rainbow bridge to carry our calling to all the Aesir. It was raining while we progressed to the nemeton, but the clouds cleared and the sun came out right after we opened the gates…Thank You Kindreds! ;)  After the company opened the gates, we gave offerings to the three kindreds: the Landvettir, Alfar and Disar, and Deities. Once all had received their due, we moved on to the dieties of the occasion, Frey and Freya.

Mmmm Libations

The praise offerings were fewer than last rite, but very nice none the less. My favorite was a poem Talesin had written to honor Freya. I overheard Ian asking him after ritual about turning it into a song, I really hope they do! Anyway, Elizabeth also offered a really nice poem about the enveloping mists, which seemed very appropriate on that rainy day. Thexalon, Ian and Liafal also had great contributions, as always! :)

The pretty omen!

Perthro, Laguz, Uruz

The Omen

Perthro: Dice cup, Merriment

Laguz: Lake, Water

Uruz: Bull, Strength

Post Holiday Write Up – My Imbolc

Imbolc2013I have been wanting to explore a relationship with Brigid for awhile now, and Imbolc seemed the perfect time to do that. I’ve been reading up on Brigid lore and Imbolc customs for weeks, I made a bunch of candles to use specifically for Imbolc, I’ve been including her in my meditations and doing her morning devotion from the dedicant manual…. but the Stone Creed Grove First Friday rite really seemed to open a door…or a gate. In place of our normal blessing rite, they decided to do a special Brigid healing rite in honor of Imbolc. It is such a treat to get to participate in a Brigid ritual run by Ian Corrigan and Liafal, given all their work with the Court of Brigid. The ritual was very heavy on guided meditation, I felt extremely connected to Brigid, and I still can’t get a particular vision out of my head. It was a beautiful rite that really helped set the tone for the holiday.

Imbolc.2013.Silvered WellThe Omen:

Alder – support, kingship

Birch – beginnings, new growth

Apple – otherworld, nourishment

On Saturday, my daughter and I made Brigid’s Crosses out of pipe cleaners. It was a lot of fun and they turned out much better than I expected! So well in fact, I wasn’t embarrassed to share a few with some grove members. I also made a couple Brat Brigid for myself and a friend to put onto the altar during Imbolc ritual. Such a fun crafty day!

Imbolc.2013.BrideogThe Sunday Imbolc rite was so wonderful! Before the rite, we made Brigid’s crosses out of reeds – a bit more authentic than pipe cleaners… :) I was thinking that I actually wanted a part in this ritual, and miraculously I was asked to silver the well and help claim and sain the grove. It wasn’t a speaking part-but it was my first actual ritual participation, and a lot of fun to fling water all over everything ;) I touched the Brideog (corn dolly) and her mantle to ask for her blessings, stepped through Brigid’s Girdle to obtain Brigid’s blessing and be reborn to good health for the coming year, and lit a candle with a flame that was CLOSE to being from Kildare. :)

Imbolc.2013.Brigids GirdleThe Omen:

Gorse – wheel, smooth going

Vine – binding together, ecstacy

Hawthorn – cleansing, purity, and delight.

When I got home, I decided to perform a solitary Celtic themed rite that was recently posted on the ADF lists by Rev. Carrion Mann. I had prepared for it on Saturday and was in such a great Imbolc mood I figured it’d be a good night to try it out. It was such a beautiful rite. I lit all my candles, sang songs-some familiar and some new to me, and did some meditation and vision work.

candle waxThe Omen:

 Heather – earth, land, ancestors

Spindle – tradition, family

Willow – water, goddesses and women

I took this to mean that I have some pleased female ancestors (and hopefully a pleased goddess) – that I am reviving old family traditions. I imagine many of them honored Brigid and participated in Imbolc customs.

I have really enjoyed learning about and celebrating the holidays, but I think this Imbolc weekend was my favorite so far. I feel very connected, profoundly cheery, yet peaceful.

Happy Imbolc! The spring and light and warmth is on its way!

Imbolc!!! ADF High Days

celtic scroll

The February Feast: Imbolc (i-molk)

celtic scroll

  • One of the four cross quarter days referred to in Irish mythology (Ulster Cycle)
  • The festival was observed in Gaelic Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Mann during the middle ages. It was revived by the neo-pagan community in the 20th century.
  • The word derives from the Old Irish i molog “in the belly” having to do with the pregnancy and onset of lactation of ewes (and other farm animals), soon to give birth to spring lambs.
  • Honors the Goddess Brighid.

Photo by Ken WilliamsNot a lot is recorded about how the ancient Celts celebrated Imbolc, but there are clues to how important it was. The Mound of Hostages at the Hill of Tara is one such example. At this site in County Meath, the inner chamber of the passage tomb is aligned with the rising sun on the dates of Imbolc and Samhain.

We can also look at medieval Irish texts, and folklore that was recorded during the 19th and 20th century in rural Ireland and Scotland. Unfortunately they only give us clues as to how it was traditionally celebrated, this information having been watered down by time and Christian influence.

In medieval times, Imbolc was traditionally a time of weather divination, and I came across many regional variations. One legend says that Cailleach (the hag of Gaelic tradition) uses Imbolc to gather her firewood for the rest of the winter. If it is a bright and sunny day, she will gather lots of firewood, preparing for winter to last a good while longer. If the day is cold and stormy, it means Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over. On the Isle of Mann, she is said to be seen on Imbolc in the form of a gigantic bird, carrying sticks in her beak.

In some areas, it was believed that if hedgehogs were seen up and about, spring was just around the corner. If the hedgehog came out but then returned to its burrow, it was thought wintry conditions would continue for a while longer. Sound familiar? According to Isaac Bonewits, the modern Groundhog Day is “a holiday so-called because American groundhogs were the local counterpart to the Irish hare that was sacred to Bride. Celtic belief is that good weather on Oimelc means winter will continue, and bad weather means winter is on the way out-hence the importance of the presence or absence of a sacred animal’s shadow.” (Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism, pg. 185)

A Scottish Gaelic proverb about the day is:

“The Serpent will come from the hole.

On the brown day of Bride.

Though there be three feet of snow

On the flat surface of the ground.”

I think this refers to the Celtic view that snakes represent a link between our world and the underworld, and therefore the snake is a symbol of the renewal of the earth in spring. It is hopeful and reassuring after the bitter winter to know that warmer days are on their way.

Even in Christian times, this tradition was preserved. It was said that the serpent is supposed to emerge from its hollow in the hills on St. Bride’s Day, and a hymn sung to it.

“Early on Bride’s morn

The serpent shall come from the hole,

I will not molest the serpent,

Nor will the serpent molest me.”

I find this one less hopeful, but at least it shows a mutual respect between humans and nature.

Imbolc is traditionally, and still today, a festival of hearth and home. Brigid was a large part of this festival, which is apparent by the correlating Christian holiday, Saint Brigid’s Day. It is said in Ireland that “On St. Brigid’s Day you can put away the candlestick and half the candle.”

Most of the customs and rituals are focused on the goddess Brigid, and center on her visits to each home of her followers the night before Imbolc to acknowledge the offerings left for her. Brigid’s primary symbol is fire, for her very name means “bright arrow” or simply “the bright one” and so seems appropriate to honor her as we celebrate the increasing warmth and light, the frozen earth becoming fertile again, birth and new life.

It was customary to do a spring cleaning of your home, in preparation for Brigid’s visit. Making a figure of Brigid and placing her by the smoored and smoothed hearth on the eve of Imbolc, they would examine the ashes the next day for a sign that Brigid had been there.  If there were no marks, the family assumed Brigid had been offended, and steps were taken to appease her.

Food offering and feasts were also customary. Many left soda bread, cakes, butter or porridge on the windowsill for Brigid, and feed for her favorite white sow, to enjoy as she passed by.  As a gift calls for a gift, families would also leave a bit of cloth, called a Brat Brid, or a shawl, Bratach Bree, outdoors for Brigid to bless when she stopped by. A Brat Brid was distributed to women and children of the household to give them protection throughout the year. Often they were sewn into the children’s clothes or jackets to ensure they won’t be lost. A Bratach Bree is treated as a sacred relic, and continuously charged each year on Imbolc. It was once a standard midwife’s tool in Ireland, being used to insure safe childbirth and cure sterility. Over time, a Bratach Bree is said to become quite powerful.

Brigid's crossFamily feasting was the central part of rituals in the home. A place may be set for Brigid, and rushes used to later create Brigid’s Cross were put under the table while the feast took place. The rushes not used for crosses were used to make a bed for the Brideog (a corn dolly fashioned to represent Brigid), or woven into Brigid’s Girdles. Specific traditions varied with the regions, some involved parades, going from home to home to bless and bring good fortune, collecting alms for the poor, and visiting holy wells and streams.

The one common, and most basic ritual in all regions, was the lighting of candles and fires to represent the return of the warmth and the increasing power of the sun over the coming months.

FALL EQUINOX!! – ADF HIGH DAYS

The Fall Equinox:

Mabon, Michaelmas, Alban Elfed (Light of the Water), Mean Fomhair (Midfall), Winter Nights, etc.

The rising of the light and the falling of the night on this day are equal. One day of balance before we turn to darker days. The final harvest is brought in and thoughts turn to preparing for the winter months…or we stop thinking about summer and start planning for Samhain, if you are an urban druid. :)

Autumnal Equinox is the second of the harvest festivals, according to the pagan Wheel of the Year. It is considered a ‘Minor High Day’ in ADF, because it is not Celtic in origin. According to Bonewits, the decision to make the four non-solar Celtic holidays the ‘Major High Days’ was because “the founders of ADF were mostly Celtophiles.” At least he’s honest…. :)

In terms of a Celtic hearth culture, Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or ‘holy month’. The name Mabon was chosen to impart a more authentic-sounding “Celtic” feel to the event, since all the other festivals either had names deriving from genuine tradition, or had had names grafted on to them. The Spring Equinox had already been misleadingly termed ‘Ostara’, and so only the Autumn Equinox was left with a technical rather than an evocative title. Accordingly, the name Mabon was given to it, having been drawn (seemingly at random) from Welsh mythology. So essentially, this is a made up holiday…but who doesn’t love an excuse to get together with your fellow grove members? :)

So what is this festival for the modern, Celtic leaning, druid? A time of thanksgiving? A time to meditate on finding balance in our lives as the sun and moon find their balance? An excuse to get together with friends and enjoy the warmth one last time before the cold weather sets in? After reading the Druidic High Days and Festivals chapter in Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism, I’m inclined to believe the latter. :)  I had a lot of problems finding spiritual inspiration for this holiday…maybe I just need a different point of view on the subject. Any thoughts?

 

A Scottish Cinderella Story…

I LOVE fairy tales and I love history. While reading ‘Celtic Myths and Legends’ by P.B. Ellis, I stumbled across this gem of a story. I loved this version of the “classic” Cinderella tale so much, I felt I needed to share. This is sooo much better than the Disney version… 

I highly recommend checking out his book and the complete telling of this story. The following is my “abridged” story, but this version of the story, and much (most) of the prose that follows, belongs to Peter Berresford Ellis. 

Geal, Donn and Critheanach

Once upon a time in ancient Scotland, there were triplet girls born to a Lord of Cataibh. These basically identical sisters were named Geal, Donn, and Critheanach. Soon after they were born , their mother died and the Lord never remarried. This lord was poor, as lords go, and could not afford to hire servants to tend his castle. So the girls grew up without a mothers love, or proper teaching, and the household chores fell to them. Geal and Donn were both very assertive girls, and because Critheanach was the youngest, they made her do all the dirty work about their father’s castle.  Critheanach had to clean the kitchen, cook the meals, and do all manner of disagreeable tasks. Indeed, her sisters would not let her go out until the work was done to their satisfaction, and that, of course, was very seldom. They were quite tyrannical towards poor Critheanach.

Every Saturday there was a fair, and Geal and Donn would dress in their finery and go, in hopes of attracting a handsome young husband. One Saturday, after her sisters had gone to the fair, Critheanach heard a knock at the kitchen door. It was a curious old woman, one of the fairy folk, who said she was selling a seun or a charm. Critheanach smiled sadly at the old woman, but told her that she had no money to buy one as her sisters needed all the money in the castle to go to the fair. Baobh, the old fairy woman, asked her why she was not there too-instead of working in the kitchen. To which the girl replied that she had no money, no fine clothes, and besides, if her sisters saw her there they’d beat her senseless for leaving before finishing her chores.

Baobh took pity on the girl and said ‘For clothes I will give you whatever dress you desire, and a fine mare to take you to the fair, with a purse of gold to spend there.’  Critheanach looked skeptical but the old woman demanded to know what dress she would like. ‘A dress of brightest green, a shawl the color of purple heather and shoes to match!’ cried Critheanach with a laugh. ‘It is done!’ cried Baobh. Sure enough, Critheanach was dressed as she had wanted, in clothes so splendid she looked every inch a princess. At the door stood a milk-white mare with a golden bridle and a golden saddle.

Baobh told her that for her part, she must not speak to her sisters or any young man at the fair, and that after an hour she must ride home as quickly as the mare would carry her. This she did, marveling at the fair as the attendees marveled at her. When the bell tolled the hour, she raced home as fast as she could. She had barely reached the door when the horse vanished and she was back in her old clothes-and found that all her chores had been done.

When the greedy sisters returned home, they talked of nothing but the mysterious girl, and demanded that their father buy them new dresses, as they were extremely jealous of the strange beauty.

The next Saturday it happened the same way, except this week she requested a red satin gown, red shoes, and white silk cloak. She once again obeyed the old woman’s terms, and enjoyed the fair, while causing quite a stir among the people, who were sure she was a foreign princess. Once again, the sisters returned home angry and jealous of the mysterious woman, and demanded even more new finery from their father.

The third Saturday, the fairy woman returned and granted her a dress of red silk from the waist down, white silk from the waist up, and a green silk cloak and red shoes to go to the fair, under the same previous conditions. Critheanach stayed at the fair awhile, but the constant attentions of the vain young men had become tiresome, and she was relieved when the bell struck the hour and she could return home, resolving never to go to the fair again for it had lost all its charm.

It just so happened that news of this grand lady had reached the ears of the Prince of Loch Abar, and he had come to the fair to catch a glimpse of her. Prince Duncan saw her and immediately fell in love with her. But she was bound to speak to no young man, and even as he pleaded with her to speak to him, running alongside her horse while she tried to rush for home, she said nothing. He grabbed for her stirrup to stay her horse, but chanced to grab her shoe. He was left behind, standing in the roadway, with her shoe in his hand.

Prince Duncan then boasted to the people assembled that he would find the lady whose foot fit that dainty shoe and marry her. Now the young men were annoyed at this stranger’s presumption as the prince was from a neighboring kingdom, they felt they had first rights to court a lady of their kingdom-not a stranger. One bold young man said that the prince would have to fight them for her. Being honorable, he agreed to do this, if he found her.

For several weeks the prince and his retinue searched the land, finally coming to the castle of the poor lord of Cataibh. When Gael and Donn heard of his coming, they eagerly tried on the shoe. Although they knew they were not the maiden the prince was searching for, they felt they deserved to be married to the prince. Of course, the shoe did not fit either sister, and the prince turned to leave. Luckily, the Lord finally spoke up and said he had one more daughter. When she was brought out of the kitchen, the Prince made one of his servants try the shoe on Critheanach, for he could not lower himself to kneel in front of a dirty kitchen servant. There was an astonished silence as the shoe slipped comfortably onto her foot, for you see, the shoe was made in the Otherworld, and would only accept the foot it was made for.

Then Critheanach stood up, and in a blink of an eye her clothes and appearance were transformed and there stood the grand lady from the fair. The prince fell to his knees and begged her forgiveness and her hand in marriage. But Critheanach had heard of the challenge the prince had accepted from the young men of the village, and told him that if he returned victorious, she would be there waiting for him.

With joy in his heart, Prince Duncan rode back to Dornach. In the square he stood, and beat his sword hilt on his great shield in challenge.  Nine of the young champions came forward, and for nine days and nights the combat lasted. Each day a champion stepped forward, and each night his bloody body was carried from the field. At last, Prince Duncan stood and claimed the right to pay court to the youngest daughter of the lord of Cataibh.

When prince Duncan and Critheanach were reunited, they spent a day together in the garden and found they shared each other’s love. So a marriage feast was proclaimed and the feasting lasted for nine days and nine nights.

And they lived happily ever after…

Nope, not yet they don’t. Scottish fairy tales don’t end so easily! There are still the two evil sisters to deal with…

But there were two at the feast who were angered by their sister’s happiness. Their envy and anger turned to hatred, and the hatred became an obsession.  After the wedding feasting and celebration, the newlyweds decided to spend some days recovering at a hunting lodge on the coast north of Dornach. A plan was formulated by Gael and Donn to ruin their sister’s happiness. They offered to go with their sister to act as her maids, pretending they wanted to repay their sister for all her hard work and kindnesses over the years, when in fact they went to watch and wait for an opportunity to take their vengeance upon her.

One day, Donn and Critheanach were walking in the garden when Donn caught her cloak on a thorn bush and it was ripped. The wind was high and cold, and Critheanach, being warm and generous, promptly gave Donn her cloak and returned to the house to check on the evening meal. Donn walked on towards the cliffs, wondering how she could take her vengeance on Critheanach, even to the point of murder. Now remember that the three girls were identical twins…Gael came along, with equal wickedness in her heart, and saw Donn standing on the cliff in Critheanach’s cloak. Mistaking Donn for their youngest sister, Gael ran forward and pushed Donn over the edge of the cliff, down toward the rocks and a watery grave.

Satisfied with her work, she returned to the house to find Critheanach in Duncan in each other’s arms, and was horrified when she realized her mistake. When the youngest sister asked Geal where Donn had gone, Gael made up a lie saying that a messanger had come to say that their father was sick, and so Donn left immediately to investigate the matter. Instead of feeling guilt over her murder of Donn, Gael only became more angry and her hatred of Critheanach grew.

The next day, after Duncan had gone out hunting, Geal and Critheanach were walking along those very same cliffs. When Critheanach bent down to pick some wildflowers, Geal seized her chance and shoved poor Critheanach over the edge. But as fate would have it – or perhaps because of the intervention of Baobh – at that very same moment a great whale came swimming along and, looking up, opened his great cavernous mouth. Critheanach landed on his soft great tongue, and was swallowed into the whale’s cavernous belly.

Geal snuck back into the hunting lodge, changed into Critheanach’s clothes, and when Prince Duncan arrived, greeted him with a kiss, pretending to be his wife. When he asked her about Geal, she said another messanger had arrived, their father had worsened, and she had gone to attend him.

Now Duncan truly loved his wife, and although he could not put his finger on it, he was sure that she was not acting like the woman he had married. Prince Duncan was truly in doubt. So that evening, when they went to bed he took his sword and lay it on the bed between them. He said “If you are my true love, then this sword will grow warm between us. If not, it will remain cold.” That night the sword was cold.

The next morning, the prince’s shield bearer, Dion, was walking on the shore when he ran into an old woman – Baobh, the fairy woman. She told him to return to Prince Duncan and tell him the truth of the matter- that yesterday Geal had pushed Critheanach over the edge and she had fallen into the maw of a great whale, where she was safe under enchantment. He could rescue her if he took a skiff and javelin out at noon to meet the whale. He must pierce the red spot underneath its breast fin in order to release his bride.

Prince Duncan readily believes Dion’s story – he knew something just wasn’t right already – and the two go to rescue Critheanach. When the whale saw the skiff containing the prince and his shield bearer coming toward it, it turned to attack, swimming quickly toward them. As the whale rose from the water to crash down upon the small boat, Prince Duncan launched his javelin into the aforementioned spot, under the breast fin. The whale opened his mouth to roar with pain and out popped Critheanach straight into the skiff. Dion turned the boat and raced for the shore as Duncan checked on his wife. She was unharmed, as the spell of Baobh had protected her.

When they returned to the lodge, they found Geal trying on Critheanach’s clothes. Geal knew “there would be no pity for her as she gazed from her sister’s sorrowful but determined face to Duncan’s angry countenance. They made her a prisoner and rode straight back to the house of the Lord of Cataibh.

There was already a suspicion between them that he would not be found ill but was hale and hearty, and that Donn would not be there nursing him. Geal confessed all before her father. Sorrowing, the Lord of Cataibh blamed himself for his daughters’ folly. Yet Prince Duncan pointed out that, inspite of all Geal and Donn had done, Critheanach was also his daughter, and he should be proud of her.

So judgement was passed on Geal. She was cast out to sea on an offshore tide in a small rowing boat, but without oars. She was given enough food and water for a night and a day and left to the fortunes of Manannan the great sea god. It is said by some that she was dragged beneath the waves and became a slave to the Kelpie. Others said that she managed to reach the shores of Lochlann and married a king’s son there and made him unhappy ever afterwards.

As for the Lord of Cataibh, his fortunes began to prosper and he married a fine, handsome woman, who made him very happy.

And as for Prince Duncan of Loch Abar and his wife, Critheanach, they never had a days’ unhappiness in the rest of their long lives, and their children and their children’s children continued to rule Loch Abar for as long as the decendants of Scota and Gaidheal Ghlas, the progenitors of the Gael, prospered there.

THE END

=)

*Ellis, Peter Berresford. Celtic Myths and Legends (2002) (also published as The Chronicles of the Celts, 1999), “Geal, Donn and Critheanach.” (pages 307-319)

9 ADF Virtues: Moderation

“Everything in Moderation…Including Moderation.”

- Rev. Jesse Olson’s Mother ;)

I know that Moderation is not the first listed ADF virtue, but it was the topic of Rev. Jesse Olson’s Dedicant Path Class last week, and probably the one I need the most help with in my personal life….but ahhhh! the out-of-order-ness is really bugging my selective perfectionism, but oh well…here we go…. :) 

Dictionary Definition of MODERATE  transitive verb  — mod·er·a·tion noun  1: to lessen the intensity or extremeness of <the sun moderated the chill>  2: to preside over or act as chairman of.  intransitive verb 1: to act as a moderator  2: to become less violent, severe, or intense <the wind began to moderate>

ADF Definition of Moderation: Cultivating one’s appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental or physical) through excess or deficiency.

While these two definitions are correct, Moderation can mean so much more. How do you find moderation in your life? I know I have problems with moderation. I am known for having a hundred projects going at once, with none of them ever really being completed. I have a tendency to focus too much on certain aspects of my life, and neglect others. I am also a smoker. I know I should quit, I know I neeeed to quit, I know it’s negatively effecting my health but damnit, I like it!  This is not a moderate attitude. But really, what IS a moderate attitude? There is not one universal answer. It is a greatly personal thing, what seems perfectly moderate to some, may seem completely decadent or deficient to others. If I could add to the definition, I would say to attempt to achieve moderation requires one to be: Mindful – of the world, and their actions and effects; Self Aware – of how the outside world and decisions made effect personal mental and physical well being, and simply to seek Balance.  

The virtue of moderation always brings to mind Aesop’s fable, ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. Unfortunately I tend to relate more to the hare…but I can aspire to be the tortoise…”Slow and steady (MODERATION!!) wins the race!” 

Why hello Deer!!

Out hiking with a friend yesterday and we decided to go off trail exploring. After making our way through some seriously thorny vines we found ourselves in a pretty little clearing. It was late afternoon, and the light and trees were beautiful!! We found a spot on the edge of the clearing and sat down to appreciate. After a few minutes a deer came into the clearing about where we had cut through. The deer saw us, but walked across the clearing about 20 feet in front of us. After she got past us, she stopped and started coming toward us! I held my breath as she came closer and closer. About 6 ft. from us she stopped and started walking toward us again, stopping right in front of us! We all stared at each other for what seemed like 5 minutes. She was a beautiful adolescent deer, just out of her spots. She was so curious and trusting! She started munching grass, and we started whispering about her. She hung out with us for about 15 minutes before turning around and disappearing into the trees and brush behind us. I think she stayed there, just out of sight. We kept hearing little deer like noises right behind us. It was the most amazing thing!! A perfect hike and day!

So I went home and started researching Celtic dieties and deer. This is one of many deer encounter experiences I’ve had in the last few years, and been meaning to research this for awhile. After my amazing deer experience yesterday, I was really pushed to do it. I found out:

* Celtic myth tells of deer being amongst the oldest creatures in existence.

* For a long time several animal types (deer, pig, dog, to name a few) lived only in the otherworld and belonged to the deities, and were only brought into the human realm after a lengthy otherworld battle – The Battle of the Trees.

* Associated with woodland/earth goddesses Flidais, Saba, and Genovefa. (Celtic)

*White Hart- a mystical white deer linked to otherworld messages, and foretelling of profound change.

—Yay for more nature awareness, and nature being more aware of me! :)