Your Ancient Symbol Card for December 21 is Solitude

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Solitude

Solitude is represented by a  single person standing at the end of a boardwalk staring out at a vast, empty panorama. They are truly alone, but may not feel loneliness. They are at a place in their life where the need to withdraw from the our secular world is strong, because their focus should be on their inner self, their morality, and their dreams. The view before them is empty, but it is a canvas on which they may paint their future–a future restricted only by the size of their imagination and courage. For them Solitude is a choice. They chose to take the walkway that distances them from the rest of us. It is also a choice that can be undone. Just as they chose to take a path that leads them away from us, they may choose to turn around and come back at anytime.

As a daily card, Solitude suggest a period in which you need to distance yourself from those around you and explore your inner-self, what is driving your day to day life and decide if you are really on the life path that is best for you. This is a time to revitalize your spirit, and draw your dreams for the future.

Seeing is Believing… Or Is It?

Seeing is Believing… Or Is It?

Author: Mirage

We have all heard the age-old phrase “Seeing is believing” or ” I will only believe it when I see it.” For some situations in life, I have to agree — when dealing with the material world around us. I find it especially true when dealing with people. You can only be burned so many times and then you just end up losing your faith in human nature. I’m sure that I am not the only one here who has felt that way at one time or another- and for good reasons as well.

It saddens me, however, when people use this phase when referring to the existence of the Divine (God, Goddess, any divine entity) . I have heard so many Atheists, Agnostics, and even people who claim to have faith, make comments about the divine that basically translate as, ” I will believe it when I see it.” I have also heard people crack jokes about how silly it is for an adult to have an “imaginary friend” that they continually talk to but never get a response in return.

I am a firm believer that everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs/opinions but I really think that we should all take a look at the other side of the fence before making any rash decisions. So, despite all of the multi-faceted views on religion and/or spirituality, I have a proposal to make. I think that if people gave the divine a chance, no matter how skeptical or bent on logic they claim to be, they would discover that seeing isn’t believing, but believing is seeing. However, this “sight” is more of an emotional awareness that allows us to “see” and experience the divine. First I think we should explore the problem before we discuss a solution…

People have asked me why I believe what I believe. Why do I believe in the Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses? Simply because I have ‘seen them’ by emotionally experiencing them or by feeling them? No, they did not manifest out of thin air and demand my undivided attention. Nor did they shout my name from the sky and underworld to prove to me that they really do exist.

I do not doubt that this could really occur, in one sense or another, but I have not experienced it for myself, therefore it is not the reason I have faith. So many people seem to have this expectation when it comes to deities. What seems more ridiculous to you- only believing in something if it makes itself physically apparent or having faith in something you haven’t physically seen but have emotionally experienced?

I think that knowing and experiencing the divine requires more of an effort on our part. If I was a divine entity, I wouldn’t just pop out at random times to offer people bits of wisdom and enlightenment. I would make them work for it! I’m pretty sure that all of the Gods and Goddesses, no matter what pantheon or time period they are from, would expect the same.

What concerns me is when people are new to Paganism, or any religion/spirituality for that matter, and expect to hit it off right away with every God or Goddess they choose to call upon. Some people are lucky, and a certain deity may favor them, so they get instant “results”. The deity tends to the individual and encourages him/her to form a relationship by allowing him/her to “see” the divine presence. Other times, the deity will choose to ignore the individual altogether or make the person work for results (most likely a fulfilling relationship with said deity) – the latter probably being more common.

This is why I think people have little or no faith. They just don’t want to put forth an effort to get to know a deity that they want to relate to. I have found that quite a few Pagans/ Wiccans at one point or another (myself included) tend to EXPECT Gods and Goddesses to grant desires with little effort on their part.

Yes, we can “promise” a deities that we will pay them homage in a certain manner or offer them incense, oils, foods, etc. so our wish will be granted, but to me that seems superficial and empty (again, I have done it myself, so I am by no means pointing my finger at others.) I think that we can almost relate divine relationships to relationships that we have with other people- especially significant others.

Sure, we can shower them with gifts and grant them “favors”, but there is so much more to a relationship besides that. We should learn about their personality (likes, dislikes, quirks, etc.) and how to work with them instead of against them. We should do this when relating to the divine as well and maybe we would get better results, thus strengthening our faith as we go.

I think that we have issues describing our spiritual experiences as well, so sometimes we put it on the back burner and brush it off as a coincidence or fate. My theory is that we are so used to describing material items, we are programmed to think that if we cannot describe the way something looks, sounds, smells, feels, etc. then it is illusive or does not exist at all.

For example, if I was asked to describe a rose, I would say that it is red, smells sweet, has sharp thorns, and so on. Needless to say, not too many people would describe the flower much differently.

However, if I was asked to describe the Goddess Isis, that might be a bit more difficult.

Since I have never physically seen Her, I couldn’t accurately describe Her physical attributes (hair color, skin color, clothing, eye color, etc.) unless I was basing it off of an artist’s depiction of Her. On the other hand, if I described my spiritual “sight” of Her, I would say that She is a being of light that brings me a very warm and peaceful feeling, almost as if She was my own mother.

Skeptical people might raise a brow to this description, but again, it all boils down to having faith, putting forth effort, and opening our minds to things we may not think to be possible.

So, if there is that one special deity in your life that you are not to sure about because he/she seems a tad bit illusive or you don’t know how to approach them, I say go for it! It won’t be as easy as looking at a person across the room from you and acknowledging him/her, but it will be well worth it in the end.

I suggest researching the deities that you are drawn to before you form a relationship with them. What are their attributes? What do they like/dislike? Do they have any aspects that you would like to relate to as well?

The research is the easy part. Now open your heart and your mind to them and allow their presence in your rituals or daily life…I’m sure that when the time is right, you will gain sight of them through your emotions and intuition.

Druidic Wicca: A Deeper Exploration

Druidic Wicca: A Deeper Exploration

Author: Rev. OakLore

Human beings are drawn naturally toward the mystical. Perhaps it is the Divine seed within us that whispers to our spirits and beckons scholars and skeptics alike to contemplate the timeless message of the Druid tradition.

What would the world look like if seen through a Druid’s eyes? Nature would be elevated, once again, into a position of noble equality. It would be revered and protected as a sentient living and Divine presence. It would no longer be seen as something to simply dominate and exploit for wealth, entertainment or power. The mystery of nature would reemerge and we would suddenly be filled with wonder.

Within the wonder and mystery of nature is the flame of hope for mankind. Druids kindle and tend that flame with great care, full in the knowledge that what good is performed today, shall forever be felt in the years and generations to come. Humankind must not remain alienated from the very home of our spirit, but return to it, love it and celebrate that union, found in the gentle rhythms of the world of Druids.

Why The Druid Path?

Druids receive Divine inspiration or “Awen, ” which manifests itself in a variety of ways. Inwardly, the changes are subtle ones. Our conscious minds are opened to the greater possibilities of the world and awaken, thirsting for knowledge. Our subconscious minds are opened and the mystery within pours forth and awakens in us senses, long asleep, and we are suddenly aware of the unseen world. These gifts enable us to grow and continue our journey toward enlightenment, gathering in the knowledge and wisdom of those who journey with us now, and all those who have traveled this way before us. We together — past, present and future — shall converge in the center of all that is and find the source of Awen, which is Truth.

Druid spirituality is simplistic: Nature is Divine. There is nothing to divide you from your Gods, for They are manifest in everything! They speak in the soft whisper of wind stirring the trees. They sing with the water rushing in the streambed. They sprint through the forest, wing breathlessly skyward or remain as still as stone. Our hearts cannot escape Their gentle touch and neither shall They remain untouched by the love we give Them in return.

But Druid spirituality is also complex. We honor simplicity yet highly value the pursuit of knowledge and truth. The exploration and quest for truth becomes one of such intensity as to almost define a person’s soul. We explore the concept of reality and existence and its impact on the trinity of body, mind and spirit. We find ourselves provoked to deeper thought and further exploration and interpretation of life experiences. So too do we engage in conscious devotion to spiritual pursuits and the soulful exploration of our higher self. We seek the love, comfort and affirmation of communion with the Divine.

The term “spiritual progression” can probably best be defined as a labyrinth, in which we slowly, through the course of many lifetimes, achieve a greater understanding and awareness of our spiritual self, as well as the universe and the nature of all existences. This journey takes place on the plane of “Anwynn” or “place of rebirth.” It is here that our energy consummates its eternal longing for the Divine creator. This is the place of soul rest where healing and compassionate understanding is a sweet cup from which we drink. As we traverse the wheel time and again through the natural process of birth and death and rebirth, we attain spiritual progression. The purpose of spiritual progression is to bring the soul to a level that Buddhists might characterize as “total enlightenment.” This level of achievement is marked by a shift in awareness to embrace, with total understanding, the mysteries of the universe. Without further need to experience the mortal plane, the spirit moves away from the process of rebirth and goes to its ultimate reward, union with the Divine.

A Druid better understands these mysteries by mapping the soul’s journey through time. The Druid calendar is divided into an eight-fold year. Each holiday represents an event in time, the changing of seasons and celebration of the fertility and abundance of this our Earth Mother. There are four solar festivals, which celebrate the equinoxes and solstices dividing the year into four equal parts. There are four fire festivals that commemorate historical events as well as the passage of time.
Upon this wheel of the year we can plot the course of a human lifetime: birth, coming of age, young adulthood, middle age, elder years and finally death. This is a gentle and comforting wisdom that instills in us the natural cycle of our existence, which is in harmony with the cycle of all creation. We discover our own mortality and also the promise of immortality secure in the knowledge that the circle of life is indeed a circle.

We often find ourselves filled to brimming with the knowledge we gain as we traverse the wheel. We seek out means by which we can express and/or illustrate these events making them available to others. We reach into our own center to find wisdom and embrace the sacredness of life. Through artistic expression, esoteric knowledge, divination, natural philosophy and other means, we share what we have learned, as we walk the paths of the Bard, the Ovate and the Druid.

Contemporary Druids hold as truth that the mortal soul is not limited unto itself, but enjoys a greater communion with the energy of all living things and indeed the Divine source. When we come fully into this awareness there is within us a startling metamorphosis. We begin to see clearly our connection with all life and know that all life is sacred. That sacredness not only forms the foundation of all life, but is the root of Druid philosophy.

Chris Travers in his 1996 essay, Who were the Druids writes, “The picture that emerges of a druid is one of a thoughtful philosopher and magician, schooled in the lore of the traditions, and in charge of the education of the chieftains as well as those who sought esoteric knowledge. A druid is a knower of truth.”

So we see that from both historical and contemporary perspectives, Druid philosophy, though shrouded in mythological beginnings, has a poignant relevance in today’s world. Druidry is the wellspring from which human beings will begin to once again recognize and accept our role in the circle of life, rather than trying to dominate or change it. We will begin to honor and love all creation, for it is the embodiment of the Divine. We shall honor our ancestors and harken to their voices and their spirit. We will not be afraid of the wildness of our own spirit that beckons us to explore and renew our connection with the blessed land and with the Gods. We will walk with dignity these modern times, and live the Elder Ways not only for the betterment of self, but for the benefit of all.

The Harmony of Wicca and Druidry

“While the cunning folk (Witches) worked alone or in small groups, and were the local wise people and healers in rural communities, the Druids were an organized elite, exempt from warfare and paying taxes, and they acted as judges, teachers, philosophers and advisors to chieftains, kings and queens. They appear very different to the image that we hold of Witches, until we examine them in more detail.”

— Excerpt from Druidcraft: the Magic of Wicca and Druidry by Philip Carr-Gomm

From the writings of the earliest historians of the period, we have come to know that Druidry as an ancient practice was divided into three areas of specialization: Bard, Ovate and Druid. The Druids were priests, teachers, philosophers, and in many cases, as experts in the law, would preside as judges and mediators. The Bards were poets, musicians, storytellers, keepers of lore and myth; they were enchanters, as easily able to bewitch as to entertain. But of these specializations, it was the Ovates—the seers and diviners, healers and herbalists—that are most akin to what we would describe as “witches.”

With the coming of Christianity to Western Europe around the sixth century C.E., the Druids had been assimilated as part of the professional elite in the new social order. Their assimilation was both professional and religious; they were compelled to embrace the new faith and apply their expertise toward building a society ruled by the church. On the other hand, the Bardic profession continued to flourish, although its religious emphasis (being pre-Christian) became somewhat diminished. Bardic schools continued to exist in Ireland, Scotland and Wales even into the seventeenth century. The Ovates, however, seemed to disappear from all record.

What this suggests however is not that the Ovatic stream died off—much to the contrary in fact—rather that it went underground. The teachings though less formal than before, became passed from generation to generation in a largely oral tradition. Evidence suggests that over the generations that came after them, the Ovates eventually became known, in close-knit circles, as “cunning folk, ” or “Wicca, ” meaning “wise ones.” It is from this meaning that the modern term “Wicca” finds its place in contemporary Paganism.

In the same chapter of the book Druidcraft as is quoted above, author Philip Carr Gomm goes on to say, “When the two worlds of Witchcraft and Druidry are brought together, we find at the place of their meeting the figure of the ‘Ovate-Witch’ who presides over a knowledge of the mysteries of Life and Death, whose cauldron offers the wisdom that is known in Druidry as ‘Bright Knowledge.'”

It is easy to see then where the harmony between Wicca and Druidry lies; for indeed Wicca owes its origins to Druidry, and Druidry, in no small way owes its survival to the Wicca, who in generations before them were the Ovates of the ancient world. It was these “wise ones” who passed on their teachings through the generations, keeping their folk magick alive long enough to be re-discovered, revived and re-invented by scholars and visionaries like Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols.

A modern embrace of Druidry and Wicca together as a way of life may involve a study of folk magick and metaphysics, respecting certain ceremonial rites and liturgies of worship, while also exploring the disciplines of philosophy, sciences and the arts, and culminate in an endless pursuit of knowledge, both spiritual and scientific. At the core of Celtic spirituality is the belief that all things are connected. It is a concept expressed in the earliest examples of Celtic art and literature, and remains a part of our spiritual heritage. And it is profoundly at the heart of what we mean by “the harmony of Wicca and Druidry;” that each tradition compliments the other, and can powerfully enrich the life of any Pagan.

In the Fellowship of Anamastia, we seek that enrichment through scholarship and well-founded liturgical expression that brings into our worship a marriage of the best aspects of both traditions. It is that which both illuminates the past and shapes our understanding of how to build a better future for the Earth and all the creatures that live upon Her. For more information visit us on the web at http://anamastia.webs.com.



Footnotes:
Nichols, Ross. The Book of Druidry. London: Thorsons, 1990.

Carr-Gomm, Philip, et. al. The Druid Renaissance: The Voice of Druidry Today. London: Thorsons, 1996.

Orr, Emma Restall. Principles of Druidry. London: Thorsons, 1999.

Rutherford, Ward. Celtic Lore: The History of the Druids and Their Timeless Traditions. London: Thorsons, 1993.

Carr-Gomm, Philip. Druidcraft: The Magic of Wicca and Druidry. London: Thorsons, 2002.

Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1986.

Travers, Chris. Who Were the Druids?. accessnewage.com. 1996.