The sacredness of Water

water

I’ve posted prayers to all the elements on this blog, to Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. I use these prayers in my spiritual practice to connect with the elements in a personal way. I have a deep abiding respect and love of the sacred elements of the Earth, and I gain a lot from communing with them on a regular basis. Water, however, has a special meaning for me. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been drawn to Water. I love the look, the feel, the sound, and the movement of Water, and years ago, I realized a special aspect of that element that brings home the true sacredness of it. It puts us in communion with every bit of life on Earth that ever has been or ever will be.

forestDruid’s love nature and all life. We respect, honor, and revere the natural world and all it encompasses. Plants, animals, the sacred elements, the sky, and the land make up our pantheon of beloved beings. But sometimes we’re drawn to one being in particular, whether an ancestor, an animal, a god/goddess, or an element. We might never know what draws us, but for me, it started in a college geology class.

earth systemsLessons about our world
In college I learned things about our planet and its systems that impacted how I see it and relate to it. It was enlightening and gave me a whole new perspective on how amazing, intricate, and complicated our home is. One system responds to another exactly the same way a body’s systems respond to each other. It’s amazing when you get a basic feel for the workings of the planet, and I can easily see how people believe (including myself) that the planet is a living conscious being. I would encourage anyone whose spirituality is based on nature to either read about geology or watch some good documentaries. The more we as practitioners learn about the planet and how it works, the more we can appreciate it as a living being worthy of our respect and reverence.

BesseggenWater of Life
For most scientists, the Earth’s system, being a closed system, has all the resources that it ever has or ever will have. If we think about it, it makes sense. Since this planet formed some 4.5 billion years ago, very little has been deposited on the planet aside from the occasional meteorite or asteroid, and very little goes off the planet. The origin of Earth’s water is still hotly debated, but we feel we understand that once it was here, that was it. No more, no less, just what’s here. And that is the fact that led me to realize just how sacred Water is.

Water is the one element we know of that is required by all life. Without Water there is no life. Even the belief that Air is necessary for life fell by the wayside in 2010 when scientists found a molecular life form that did not require Air to live. But Water still reins as the element absolutely necessary for life, at least life as we know it.

water-of-lifeThe memory of Water
If Earth’s water is the only water it’s ever had or ever will have, and all life on Earth needs water to survive, then the water we have now, that comes out of the faucet, out of the sky, or out of us is the same water that’s been through all living things since living things emerged. Not only that, but that same water has been through every cloud in the sky, every river, ocean, stream, underground aquifer, and sea mist. It’s cycled not only through us, but through our entire environment and back again. Every tree and plant, every animal and bug, every fog and rain cloud has touched us through the element of Water. It truly amazes me that the water I drink daily is the same water my blessed ancestors drank, that the dinosaurs drank, that the Dali Lama drinks, and throughout the ages to come, that my descendants and all the descendants of this Earth will drink.

tree of lifeEchoes and seeds of life
Water literally connects us with the past, the present, and the future. It fills our beings with the echoes of life. It endows us with the seeds of life. It connects us with the Earth itself and every living thing on it. What in our world can be more deserving of reverence that that? For me, it places Water and all it embodies toward the top of the sacred list. Every time I drink a glass of water, I envision myself being energized with life itself. I feel my ancestors. I feel the planet. I feel the sky and oceans. It brings me into contact with everything I love.

Water is one of the most important things on this Earth. It should be respected and cared for as such. We can gain so much from fully understanding the impact of Water on us as individuals and as a collective. I hope we all become aware of Water’s gifts and use them wisely.

Bright blessings in the peace of the grove.

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A Druid’s Daily Affirmation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.

As a practicing Druid, I find myself constantly learning new lessons and integrating them into daily life. I’ve transformed slowly from a mall-addicted materialist who placed all her value in what she owned into a true tree-hugging hippie completely devoid of commercialism. Needless to say I’ve learned a lot, but with the lessons and integration comes the inevitable tendency to slip into old patterns and habits. I don’t beat myself up over it, but I’ve found this daily affirmation helpful in my journey. I wrote it, and it reminds me of my responsibility to myself and to my chosen spiritual path.

tree meDaily Affirmation
I am a being of light, a daughter of the Earth and Sky,
One with the Universe.
I am a creature of intellect and biology.
I feel, but I also choose.
I am instinctive but also wise.
I can sense, but I also decide.
I have control over my actions with help of the Sacred Elements and Blessed Ancestors.
I continue to choose who I am
and will not lose the work I’ve done.

Daily affirmations are a great way to remind ourselves of what’s important to us, whether the focus is spiritual, family, or inner growth. They can be short with only a few words or long and poetic as long as they contain the essence of an idea.

People have been using affirmations for a very long time, and they can become a true motivating force in life. Even when we don’t really believe an affirmation, studies show that after about 30 days of repeating them, acceptance begins. The longer we say them, the more solid they grow in our lives. I think that’s important in today’s materialistic culture.

If there’s something in your life you’d like to see happen, try a daily affirmation that you create yourself. You’d be surprised at how powerful it can be.

Bright blessings in the peace of the grove.

Spring

spring

It’s no surprise that as a practicing Druid my very favorite time of year is spring. I love everything about it, the sights, sounds, smells, and feel. I live in a small southern town with lots of trees, so spring here inevitably means the coming home of many birds. Many, many birds. As they fly in by the thousands, spring mornings are full of an amazing variety of bird calls, chirps, and whistles. I love the birds especially as the harbingers of the end of winter.

beltaneCelebrations
We all know spring is the time to shake off those winter blues, come outside, and bask in the awakening beauty around us. The landscape becomes that specific shade of green seen only in the new growth of trees and grasses, the air is fragrant with the perfume of blooming flowers, and the world begins to waken again from its long winter sleep. It’s more lovely than words can describe. Soon, those of us who follow the Wheel of Year will be celebrating Beltane with gratitude and reverence.

It’s my custom to welcome the seasons as they change in my own personal ceremonies. It gives me a feeling of familiarity to connect on a personal level with the spirits of the seasons and maybe learn a little something from them that I can apply to my own journey. In a recent personal ceremony to welcome Spring and connect with its spirit, I received a reminder that will go far to help me in my own life, and I’d like to share it. I think sometimes I forget the lessons of the seasons and tend to idealize them and their energies. This lesson pulled me back down to earth, and I’m grateful for its message.

bird warsA reminder
The lesson I received is that spring is a beautiful time, yes, but we shouldn’t forget the realities of it. It’s not simply joyful frolicking and basking in the sun. It’s a season of battles and struggle. New life does not flow into the world easily. It fights for place, it fights for dominance. The coming of the birds back to my town is wonderful to see, but it also brings the bird wars, as I call them. All during spring I see birds fighting to establish their mates and their nesting spots. For such beautiful and gentle creatures, they can be astonishingly determined. It’s that determination that leads to the bird wars, some raucous enough to make a person look out their window to find out what the heck is going on.

new lessonsThe lesson
The real lesson is that the essence of spring is new battling old, the unproven battling the established, and that’s a profound idea for everyone. We learn new things every day, especially those of us who have committed ourselves to a spiritual path. I learn within the OBOD Ovate program new ideas of self, of place, and of thinking. Everything I’m learning is battling for dominance over my old established ways of thinking. In my mind and in my life I’m seeing a renewal of spirit, but that renewal doesn’t slip in gently. I have to do my part and be mindful of the lessons and actively embed them in my daily routine. If I do this, my spirit will grow and renew as the spring brings growth and renewal to all things.

Blessing and light to all.

A Short History of Druidry

From the OBOD website www.druidry.org

stonehenge 1

About 2500 years ago, and possibly long before that, at each end of the Indo-European arc, tribal spiritualities emerged that would eventually grow to become flourishing modern movements, with adherents all over the world. While the earliest versions of what would later become the Hindu and Jain religions emerged in the Indus valley, in western Europe at about the same time, writers began to record the existence of Druidism.

stone awenIts practice was first noted in two Greek works over two thousand years ago in around 200 BCE although both works were since lost. In 50 BCE Julius Caesar wrote that Druidism originated in Britain, and although some claim that Druids could be found across much of Europe, from Ireland in the west to Anatolia (now Turkey) in the east, scholars now believe this is unlikely. Instead Druids were probably native just to the British Isles, Ireland and western Gaul (now France).

Although written accounts seem to have begun 2,200 years ago, Druidry was probably in existence for a good deal of time before then, and it seems likely that as a type of religion or magical practice it evolved out of earlier pre-Druidic cult practices.

The Pre-Druidic Period
The evidence of the religious activities of the prehistoric inhabitants of western Europe is remarkable: on the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea in Wales, the Paviland caves have revealed one of the earliest magico-religious sites in the world, where around 26,000 years ago a group of humans carefully interred a skeleton, wrapping the body in red cloth or rubbing it with red ochre and laying with it mammoth-ivory rods, which may be the earliest magic wands ever found. 17,000 years ago the Lascaux caves in France were decorated with paintings of animals which survive to this day. The caves were almost certainly used in ritualistic ways. Thousands of years later a classical writer claimed that Druids met in caves, and today the symbolism of caves and of animals acts as an inspiration for the modern Druid movement, which reveres Mother Nature, and understands caves as symbolic of the womb, and of the potential for rebirth.

During this period of history, prior to the development of Druidry, tribes were migrating across western Europe. Some may have come from the areas now known as the Caucusus in southern Russia, Turkey, or perhaps even India. Wherever they came from, they brought their own religious customs and knowledge, and this would undoubtedly have been animistic and shamanistic.

aveburyProto-Druids amongst Proto-Celts
By about 6,500 years ago people were starting to build stone monuments in western Europe – particularly in Ireland, the British Isles, and in Brittany, although similar standing stones and circles can be found as far afield as Peru and Madagascar.

Although the Druids have always been associated in the popular imagination with stone circles such as Stonehenge, academics until recently dismissed this idea. Historians used to say that the Druids couldn’t have used Stonehenge and all the other stone circles in Britain, because the Druids were the priests of the Celts, and the Celts only arrived in Britain in 500 BCE. Since no stone monuments were built after 1400 BCE, they pointed to the gap of nine hundred years separating the last of the stone circles from the arrival of the Druids. But in the sixties many historians changed their minds. They realized that the origin of the so-called Celtic tribes was far more complex than originally presumed, and suggested instead that early or Proto-Celts were probably in Britain as early as 2000 BCE – when the great stone monuments were still being built – and that they could well have been involved in their use or construction.

Forty years later academic opinion is still divided. Some experts emphasize the lack of continuity between religious structures and practices in the second and first millennia BCE. But others point to the new sense of continuity in the genetics and culture of the British, with the rejection of the idea of a Celtic ‘invasion’. This second school of thought makes it possible to again see the Druids as the priests and priestesses of the stone circles, a tendency reinforced by the increasing recognition of the importance of ritual astronomy in the construction of these monuments. If we take this view we might agree with John Michell when he wrote in A Little History of Astro-Archaeology : ‘science restored the Druids to their old temple, Stonehenge, wiser and more venerable than before.’

An_Arch_Druid_in_His_Judicial_HabitThe Classical Druids
When classical writers tell us about the Druids, though, we hear nothing about stone circles. Instead they tell us that Druids gather in sacred groves, caves, or remote valleys.

Julius Caesar and Diodorus Siculus, writing in the 4th and 5th centuries BCE paint a picture of the Druids as scholars and religious leaders who function in a similar way to the priestly caste of the Hindu Brahmins: they officiate at sacrifices, they teach philosophy and star-lore, and they convey an oral tradition that requires students to learn many verses by heart. Their ‘greatest teaching’ reminds us of the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation: Siculus tells us the Druids believed that souls ‘are immortal and live again for a fixed number of years in another body.’

Druids were exempt from military service and the taxes raised to pay for it. They advised Chieftains and had a reputation for pacifying armies about to fight.

The classical writers describe a darker side of Druidism too, in which Druids were present at the sacrifice of criminals, or sometimes innocent people, who were burnt alive in wicker cages, or killed in the attempt to divine the future from their death-throes.

We cannot be sure that any of the classical authors were recounting the truth, but the description they have left us of wise sages calming warring tribes and teaching in forest groves, has tended to endure over the image of their presiding over human sacrifice. As if in confirmation of this, the references to Druids from medieval Irish literature make no mention of sacrifice, and describe the Druids of Ireland as the wisest and most learned people of their time, who acted as advisors to local political leaders, and as wizards and magicians.

bronze-cross-frontBThe Christian Period
The era of Druidry that the Irish and Classical authors describe lasted from perhaps 400BCE to 600CE – about a thousand years. But by the sixth century all of Europe was Christian, and overt pagan practice had probably ceased to exist. Although Christianity was antagonistic to other faiths, it was also built out of many elements of paganism: the eucharist of bread and wine was also the ritual feast of the Eleusinian mysteries, for example, and we can read papal bulls which change the celebration of Christ’s birth from springtime to coincide with celebrations linked to the Winter Solstice. In a similar manner Christian saints, such as St Brighid and St. Dionysus, built upon the histories and reputations of pagan gods and goddesses. And sacred sites were co-opted to the new faith, with churches built upon shrines to gods such as Apollo or within sacred groves. This meant that pagan cults such as Druidism, rather than being wiped out, were actually assimilated into Christianity, creating a complex fusion, which encouraged the Revival Druids of the 17th & 18th centuries to try to discern the Druidry within Christianity.

In addition, Christian clerics transcribed elements of a tradition which until their arrival had been oral, and so we have records of the ancient laws of Ireland, which were probably developed by the Druids since they fulfilled the role of judges, and we have accounts of the mythology and stories of Ireland and Wales which modern Druids believe contain much of Druid wisdom and teachings.

revivalThe Revival
In the seventeenth century a few scholars began to take interest in the mysterious monuments – the artificial mounds, stone circles, dolmens and standing stones – that filled the countryside around them. They read the classical accounts of the Druids and suggested that these monuments were built by them. In doing this they began a period we now know as ‘The Druid Revival’. One of these scholars, William Stukeley, has been called the ‘founding father of archaeology’. These early attempts at archaeology stimulated the interest of other gentleman-scholars who started to look for traces of Druidism within Christianity. The thought that their pre-Christian ancestors were not brutish and ignorant, but were instead wise philosophers inspired these Revivalists, and has continued to inspire Druids to this day.

Revival Druidry spawned a spate of writing, some of it obscure and bizarre, some of it quite fascinating and provocative. Freemasons became interested in this, and Revival Druidry entered the world of Masonry via such organizations as the Ancient & Archaeological Order of Druids, joined later by Winston Churchill.

The Recent Past
The Druid Revival began as an interest of scholars in their pre-Christian heritage, and this resulted in the development of two different manifestations of Druidry: cultural Druidism formed to foster the Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages through Eisteddfodau, and fraternal Druidism which, like Freemasonry, was created to support members and charitable causes.

From the 18th century certain writers had suggested that Freemasonry was a direct descendant of Druidism, and felt that Masons were practicing a sort of latter-day Druidry. Some members of the fraternal Druid organisations may well have treated their activities as mystical as well as fraternal, but this spirituality was firmly embedded in a Christian context with a bible being present at every meeting, and discussion of religion forbidden. Even so, some individuals and small groups may have treated Druidry as a distinct spiritual path from the time of William Stukeley, but it was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that a third type of Druidism began to be noticed: a type that publicly promoted Druidry as a spiritual practice in its own right.

GWMR_0At the opening of the twentieth century, a dynamic and vocal individual, George Watson MacGregor-Reid began promoting Druidism as a spiritual path that could unite followers of many faiths, and the group that he led, the Ancient Druid Order, became a vehicle for conveying many of the ideas that had been expressed by groups such as the Theosophical Society and the Order of the Golden Dawn in the previous century. A complex tapestry was starting to weave itself, which drew on the inspiration of the ancient Druids, the work of the Revival Druids, and the perennial teachings of the Western Mystery Tradition, which in their turn drew on sources as ancient as Pythagoreanism and neo-Platonism.

In the 1940’s and 50’s the Ancient Druid Order attracted to it two figures who would act as catalysts for the explosion of interest in paganism that we are experiencing today. Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols both joined the Order and later Gardner became the seminal figure to promote the religion of Wicca, or Witchcraft, while Nichols – enthused by Robert Graves’ White Goddess which described his discovery of a Druidic tree-language – developed Druidism by focusing its concerns on Celtic lore and mythology. Together they elaborated an eightfold cycle of observances which now lies at the foundations of both Wiccan and Druid practice.

druid flagThe Present Day
It is natural to want to discover a ‘true and original’ version of a religion or spiritual tradition, as if we can scrape off layers of additions to discover the pure source. But we cannot do this – traditions grow over time rather than arriving fully-formed into the world. They may emerge in a particular era in a specific location, but like a river that arises from sources beneath the earth and in the sky, they then spread across the earth, with their nourishing power coming from the fact that they have gathered nutrients all along their path as they have traveled towards distant seas.

Christianity drew on ideas that were current prior to its existence: symbols, doctrines and festivals of Judaism and Paganism. Buddhism likewise: the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, for example, were popular long before the Buddha began teaching.

Over the centuries, followers change and adapt their faith, to enrich it and to make it more relevant to their lives. Druidism is no exception to the rule that spiritual traditions emerge out of a pre-existing context and then change and grow. It emerged out of the pre-Druidic tribal cultures of western Europe about 2500 years ago. Although we know very little about the ancient Druids, modern Druidism draws on the inspiration of the classical accounts of their activities, and on the archaeology and symbolism of the earlier proto-Druidic or pre-Druidic monuments. The stories of the Bards, and accounts of Celtic mythology, recorded in Ireland and Wales, also inform modern Druidry, as do the works of countless writers from the period of the Druid Revival onwards.

In the last twenty years the amount of scholarship and interest in Druidry has increased to such a point that we can truly say that we have entered a period of a Druid Renaissance, which now attracts artists and writers, poets and storytellers and spiritual seekers all over the world. Far from Druidism being introduced to the world just once, a long time ago, it is continually being introduced – by a variety of people, in different countries, and in a number of different forms.

Excerpt from What Do Druids Believe? by Philip Carr-Gomm, Granta, 2006

A Druid’s perspective on food

fresh food

The use of plants as sacred and life-sustaining food in ancient and modern Druidry

This is a great subject for me. I’ve recently come to the realization that the food in our culture has no resemblance to real food whatever. I’ve watched many documentaries on food and nutrition that show clearly and thoroughly that what we consider food is not food at all. It can be called food-like products. It is engineered, manipulated, and manufactured, but it is not real food.

Real food is food created by nature. It’s the storehouse of the sun’s energy. The sun’s energy is converted in plants by photosynthesis into a storable, usable form. In this form it nourishes us with vitamins and minerals and gives us energy with calories. Green food, food that is not processed, frozen, bagged, canned, pouched, or boxed, has live enzymes that nothing we make can give us. These live enzymes are the true nourishment, along with uncorrupted vitamins and minerals. It’s easy for me to see food, real food, as sacred. It’s the sun, it’s rain, it’s nature, it’s life itself. I have an immense respect and love for plant life, especially plant life we can use as food.

ancient-greek-foodThe ancients didn’t have to worry about what was real food and what was manufactured and unhealthy. Nor did they lose touch with the natural cycle like we have by eating fruits and veggies completely out of season. They were in intimate harmony with the seasons, with nature, and with their food. They saw their food sprout from the ground, swell on the stalk, and ripen. They planted and they gathered. A lot of effort and thought went into food. It was respected and revered. In many ways it was considered sacred. It was never taken for granted.

The apple is a good example of sacred plant food for ancient and modern Druids. In Celtic mythology, there is the story of Conle, who was given an apple that nourished him for a month (or year?) but also gave him the irresistible desire to go to fairyland. It represented fruitfulness and sometimes a means to immortality. Druids’ wands were made from either apple or yew wood. The medieval Welsh translation of King Arthur’s Avalon is Insula Pomorum; ‘The Isle of Apples.’  In Druid tree lore, the apple represents healing, renewal, and regeneration. I used an apple myself in my renewal ceremony recently. These and many other instances of the magic of apples gives us ample evidence that apples were considered sacred by the ancient Celts and continue to hold a special place in modern Druidry.

cornCorn is  another good example. The classical historian Diodorus Siculus describes how the ancient Britons harvested corn. “In the reaping of their corn, they cut off the ears from the stalks, and so house them in repositories underground.” In other words, they stored corn and other grains in pits. Corn was used in Imbolc rituals. From the OBOD website: “Imbolc divides winter in half; the Crone months of winter are departing and the promise of the Spring Maiden is around the corner.  This celebration was definitely a feminine festival. Women would gather to welcome the maiden aspect of the Goddess as embodied by Brigid. Corn cakes made from the first and last of the harvest were distributed and this practice remains a part of Her celebration.”

Other grains are also an important part of ancient Celtic and modern Druid life. During the festival of Lughnasadh, when the first harvest is used at the beginning of August, the grain represents John Barleycorn, who sacrifices himself every year to sustain life on earth. Otherwise known as the Green Man, he is sometimes ritually mourned with wreaths decorated with poppies and cornflowers. Sacrifice, transformation, death, and rebirth are all important themes in modern Druidry, and it’s easy to see how these themes may have been carried forward to us by the ancients’ beliefs and rituals.

celt-farmThere are many other examples of plants as food that are also sacred. It makes sense that for people whose lives and culture depended on the natural cycle of planting and gathering that plants would be considered sacred. It represents life itself, the gifts of nature, and the magic of the seasons. It would be a wonder if traditional peoples didn’t consider plants and their cycle sacred.  I honestly wish that our modern culture would rediscover the importance of natural plant food. We’d all be the better for it.

What spirituality means to me

SPIRITUALITY

Spirituality means different things to different people, all of them valid. I make no claim to know what spirituality should mean to everyone or suggest that I have the one true definition of spirituality. In fact, I’ve found that no matter how different people’s views may be, the one thing they share without exception is that when they believe, they do so with their whole heart and soul, just like me.

spirituality 2A definition of spirituality
Once, I read a definition of spirituality that I’ve never forgotten. I can’t remember the source, but it went like this: Spirituality is our emotional response to this world and our place in it. For me, that was a profound thought and one that brought into focus a couple of points. The first is why some people are so passionate about their spirituality. Second, why I feel incomplete without it.

When I thought about spirituality as part of my emotional self, it made a lot of sense. I always feel it when I haven’t made time for prayers, studies, or general gratitude. I feel like something is missing, as if part of me is empty. I also realized that for myself, a life without spirituality is a life half lived. Living only in the physical material world is not enough for me to feel like a complete being. I need to also live in spirit, taking the time to care for and develop what I believe is a very important part of my emotional self. When I do that, I not only feel complete, but I also feel more deeply connected to the world around me and to my fellow beings.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that people who aren’t spiritual are wrong or living incorrectly. Not at all. I’m just saying for myself, these ideas make a lot of sense. For me, it’s an important part of what makes me, me.

inside-eco-spirituality-417x280Spirituality and emotions
When looked at side by side, spirituality has a lot to do with emotions. The most common reason for people practicing spirituality is because it feels right, or it feels good. We can get emotional during devotions, and we are stirred during ceremony and ritual. I’ve seen people moved to tears in powerful moments. This may be the influence of the deity the individual believes in, but it may also be our connection with our world and our place in it on a deep emotional level not possible in the material world. It could be that when we acknowledge and feed our emotional beings with spirituality, we are becoming stronger, wiser, and more balanced within our own lives. Which is why I’ve reconnected to my spirituality. I needed that deeper sense of connection to existence and to all life. And with that connection comes a deeper appreciation and love. And really, isn’t that the aim of spirituality? To promote love and respect of all life? That’s what I like to believe.

Blessings and light to all.

In times of stress, say a prayer

prayer

It’s one of the most overlooked spiritual tools we have. Prayer. We know it’s there, of course, but how often do we utilize this highly effective practice outside of our regular rituals and ceremonies? Probably not enough. When I get stressed out or frustrated with something, I rarely take a moment to say a simple prayer. And it only takes a moment. It doesn’t even need words. It can be as simple as visualizing the stress releasing from the body and drifting up to the heavens to bother us no more.

Letting it go
spirit praySome people pray to Gods and/or Goddesses, some to the Universal or Great Spirit, and some to the elements or ancestors. Regardless of where the focus is, it’s always helpful to call on a little outside help to get through tough days when we need it. It’s a way to let go and give it to the universe.

I find prayers to the elements especially helpful. Each element has its own strengths, strengths we can call on when our own are slipping away. For instance, Earth has a great deal of stability to draw from, Air has freedom, Fire is active and moving, and Water is tranquil and serene. A short prayer to any of the elements is helpful at times when we may need extra of these virtues.

element-rosearyPrayer beads
Prayer beads can be a great tool for focusing concentration and intent during prayer. I use my elements rosary often, especially when I have a little extra time. It allows me to connect and draw from all the elements in times of need. You can also find or make single element prayer beads, or beads made for a specific God or Goddess or for ancestor prayer.

Worry stones can be used in the same way. They can be etched with a specific symbol or element and used to focus prayers. Worry stones have been used for centuries to alleviate stress and anxiety by self-soothing. And really, that’s what prayer is all about. Soothing ourselves in times of need and getting that little extra help from our spiritual beliefs during rough times.

Whether you believe in Gods/Goddesses, a Great or Universal Spirit, or the power of the ancestors, prayer is a simple and effective way to deal with stress and anxiety. It’s a powerful tool for anyone seeking spiritual enlightenment or walking a spiritual path. And it’s always there for us, no matter how developed our spirituality is or is not. I’m going to take a moment for quick prayer myself.

Blessings and light.

Quick Share – Incense deal

insence burner

I love incense. I really do. Not only do I use it in my spiritual practice, but I use it when I’m feeling stressed, cranky, unbalanced, etc, etc. In other words, I use a lot of incense. The best place I know of to purchase cone incense is Ebay store Karma-Naturals. They sell Hem cone incense, 2 boxes (20 cones total), for $3.59, free shipping. Her selection is huge. Kris is a Top Rated Plus seller, which means items are shipped within 1 business day of receiving an order. I’ve purchased several times from her and have not been disappointed.

Check it out if you get the chance. You won’t be sorry.

Happy chillin’. 🙂

Visualization – A powerful tool

imagine

One of the most important lessons I learned from OBOD was the value of visualization. As I’ve stated in previous posts, it’s the language of the subconscious. We can’t speak to our subconscious mind the way we can our conscious mind, or intellect. It’s a function hidden deep within ourselves that can’t be easily accessed, like hidden files on your computer. The subconscious does it’s thing without direct intervention, like an autopilot. Sometimes, however, what is written in the code of it’s programming no longer applies to our present circumstances. It needs to be updated. Visualization is the key to updating the subconscious.

visualizeHow to
The best way I know to use visualization is a little like meditation. The main difference is instead of emptying your mind, you fill it with what you want to accomplish. In effect, you are seeing in your mind’s eye the changes you want to happen in reality, seeing the story you write for yourself, and the happy ending, of course.

I’ve used this technique to great effect in my Druidic studies and OBOD lessons. It’s allowed me to literally change my perception of myself, my life, and my accomplishments. Without the ability to visualize and communicate with my subconscious, I would not be nearly as far along my path as I am now.

try-hardIt takes practice
Visualization does take practice, though. It may not be as difficult as rolling a boulder up a steep cliff, but it does take effort to become effective. People who have the most luck with visualization say the more they use it, the more effective it is, kind of like a muscle. A person who tries visualization who hasn’t done it before may not see immediate results. That’s okay. I don’t know of many things of value that come easily or quickly. When I started using visualization, it took about a week of daily practice before I started to perceive any results at all. Then, as the weeks went by, the results presented stronger and stronger until I had accomplished what I set out to.

Visualization is one of the things that is highly underrated in society today, but it can be a great tool in the tool chest of anyone seeking a spiritual path or to deepen their spirituality. For those who try it, keep at it. The benefits will come. You just need patience and confidence in yourself. You can direct the path of your life.

Blessings and light.

Quick Share – Prayer to the element earth

earth

This is the last of the prayers to the elements, but certainly not the least. I love this prayer especially because of the grounding effect it has. I feel so stable after reciting this prayer that I’ve added it to my elements rosary and use it whenever I feel the need for stability. It also comes from the website legionofpagans, as do all the element prayers I’ve shared.

ELEMENT – Earth

O Great Spirit of Earth, from which all life springs
Upon whom we rejoice and dance and sing!
From the North ye hail with your pulse of Life
You bring Strength and Security in our times of Strife
You are our Foundation and our Home from which all life grows
You nurture and ground us as your deep life force flows
With your beautiful greens and rich, deep browns
Your vibrant tapestry of life around us abounds
I bow before you as I honor thee
Lend me your comforting Stability
May I stay grounded upon my path this day
May I walk in your footsteps as I go my way
May we care for you and only take what we need
Let us not be driven by want and greed
May we cherish and honor the place of our birth
Our Blessed, Beautiful Mother Earth!

I hope you’ve found these prayers helpful. They are an integral part of my practice and a very important method of sharing love of the earth and all things in it.

Happy praying, everyone. 🙂