Incredibly well written satire on Starbuck’s “Offensive” Coffee Cups

Alison Leigh Lilly’s “War on Yule: Starbuck’s Cups Are Christian Propaganda” may be one the funniest and poignant takes on fundamentalist Christians (and others) supposed offense to benign things I’ve read in a long time.

She is much more eloquent than I could ever be, so please check out her article.

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New Moon Ritual

Gaol Noafa has a wonderful public outline I use for New Moon rites here and written out below with a few edits by me.

New Moon Ritual Outline
What’s Needed: four candles (three for representing the gods, ancestors, and spirits, and one to represent the central or ‘hearth’ fire), offerings, a drinking vessel, a vessel to hold offerings.

I. Song to the Moon (Carmina Gadelica 303-314)
Open with honor to the new moon with a song/prayer/poem either from the Carmina Gadelica or of your own construction.

II. Kindle the Fire
Light a candle or lamp (or the actual hearth if you’ve got one) with prayers to Brighid and/ or household spirits.

III. Hail to the Hosts
Welcome the gods, ancestors, and spirits by lighting a candle for each accompanied with offerings of your choice. This time would also be appropriate to welcome any patron deities or spirits to join you.

IV. Main Offering (or Sacrifice)
Give your main offerings/ sacrifice to the Three.

V. Ritual Workings and Oracle
If there are any workings you’d like to do, here is probably where I would do it. Gael Noafa originally does not include a section for working. I like to ask the Three for an oracle sign to make sure my sacrifices are welcomed and they are pleased.

VI. Personal Prayers
Give prayers or blessings for your family, friends, or yourself.

VII. Prayers for Gaelic Polytheists
Give prayers for the general welfare of other Gaelic polytheists or others honoring the old ways.

VIII. Toast
Fill the drinking vessel with a beverage of your choice and raise it in toast to the Three, spill some, and drink.

Ritual Script
This script is here to serve as an example of what may be said and done during the ritual while following the suggested format.

Opening Prayer

The fertile land below,
the blue sea about,
the vast sky above,
their blessings here tonight.

“Hymn to the New Moon” (Carmina Gadelica #303)

Hail to you, oh new moon,
beautiful guide of the sky;
hail to you, oh new moon,
beautiful fair one of grace.

Hail to you, oh new moon,
beautiful guide of the stars;
hail to you, oh new moon,
beautiful loved one of my heart.

Hail to you, oh new moon,
beautiful guide of the clouds;
hail to you, oh new moon,
beautiful dear one of the skies!

Kindling the Fire

I shall kindle this fire this evening
in the presence of radiant Bríd,
golden-flame of our hearth and home.
May she bless and preserve it,
this fire of warming,
fire of wisdom,
fire of hospitality
that is here;
She, the branch with blossoms,
She, red-cheeked Bríd.

Hail to the Hosts

(light a candle)

A fire for the gods is here,
Excellent Hosts,
proficient in wisdom and skill,
splendid and hardy troupe,
generous patrons,
Fáilte!

(give offering)

(light a candle)

A fire for the ancestors is here,
for those whose graves we rest on
and whose fame we seek to follow.
A lamp to guide your way
through the mists
from Tech Duinn.
Fáilte!

(give offering)

(light a candle)

A fire for the Fair-Folk is here,
auspicious and kindly denizens,
hosts of the abundant land,
gentry of the hills and mounds,
People of Peace,
Fáilte!

(give offering)

Hail and Greetings to
The Three that are here,
Excellent Gods,
Beloved Ancestors,
and Kindly Spirits;
the three eternal fires
that illuminate the world.

(invite any patron deities or spirits in the same manner)

Main Offering/Sacrifice

(Give an offering to The Three hosts accompanied with your own prayer, praise, song, or blessings. You may wish to say something like:)

To the Ever-Living Three
I give_________
in honor, in gratitude and in love,
honoring the ancient and ancestral
contract that binds us.

(give offering)

Peace to sky,
sky to earth,
earth within sea,
strength in each.

Hail to the gods,
love to the dead,
peace to the Good-Folk,
noble is each.

Any Workings Done Here Along With an Oracle

I use the Druid Animal Oracle and like to take a few minutes to meditate here.

Personal Prayers

(Give your own prayers here.)

Prayer for Other Gaelic Polytheists

Ancient and noble Three of the Gael, of kin and contract, illustrious Patrons, Hosts, and Progenitors! Guide, preserve and inspire our people, uphold us into the world as we rekindle the blazing ancestral fires that shall illuminate the way to the future. In health, in honor, in courage, in wisdom, in justice, in truth, in generosity, we go forth into the light of day and onto the roads with your blessings upon us and with victory to be ours.

Gaol Noafa uses this as a prayer for other members of their group, though it works out well for any Gaelic polytheist or if you’d like to expand that out to other pagan groups as well I suppose you could.

Toast

(This is designed as a communion toast between gods and individual.)

(take a cup, quaich, bowl, horn, or other drinking vessel and fill it with a beverage of your choice . I offer milk, fresh water, Scotch or beer and use a quaich. Raise the vessel before the shrine:)

To the Beloved Dead!

(libate and sip)

To the Excellent Gods!

(libate and sip)

To the Fair-Folk!

(libate and sip)

To my kindred!

(libate and sip)

To Gaol Naofa!

(libate and sip)

To health, wisdom, and prosperity!

(libate and sip)

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Gaol Noafa’s Write Up of Our Beloved Donn

Donn as a name is not uncommon in early Irish literature, but the most famous of these is Donn son of Míl, one of the kings of the invading Milesians who wrested control of Ireland from the Tuatha Dé Dannan.

In some versions of his tale, Donn refused to acknowledge the goddess of sovereignty, Ériu, and so was cursed to never again set foot on Ireland. During the Milesians’ attempt to land once again, the ship he was in was sunk and he was drowned.

His body was recovered and buried on an island, which was then named after him: Tech Duinn, The House of Donn. This island is most often associated the Bull Rock, off the coast of the Beara Peninsula, County Cork.

In other versions of Donn’s tale his death is more of an heroic sacrifice for his people, although he was still laid to rest on Tech Duinn.Because of this, as the first of the sons of Míl to die in Ireland, he declared, ‘To me, to my house, come ye all / After your deaths.’

Donn fulfills the role of “first ancestor” (or first male ancestor) and functions as lord of the dead. So strong was this connection that later Christian commentators would claim that all souls of the “heathen Irish” would travel to Donn’s House before going to hell; in an attempt to get the ancestors to turn from the old ways, some even tried to equate Donn with the Christian devil.

Text: With thanks to Sionnach Gorm.

Their website is full of incredibly well done information. The link to the original page of this is here. I highly recommend looking through their site.

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Into the Woods – Druid Documentary

This documentary covers a group of druids living in England and how they celebrate the seasons. It was a great watch. Check it out!

Eight times a year, a diverse group of people heads into the woods of the Chiltern hills in England to celebrate the seasons and the beauty of nature with their own brand of druidic ritual and music. This documentary goes with them.

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High Day Essays: Samhuinn

Samhuinn (5 November, 2015)

Samhuinn is the ushering in of winter. Historically, this was a time for the final harvest and bringing in the livestock. A time to prepare for a cold long winter and be thankful for what we have managed to store.

This time of year the veil between us and the Otherworld is at its thinnest and our ancestors and spirits are most likely to visit us and because of that Samhuinn is a time of remembering and giving our respects to our ancestors. According to Gaelic myths, summer turning to winter brings with it chaos and conflict. These concepts can be found in Ectrae Nera which tells the tale of Ailill and Medb on a Samhuinn night and Cath Maig which is the tale of the second battle or Moyura which happened around Samhuinn.

Common traditions are feasts, storytelling, song, and mischief is often associated with the day. In Scotland turnips are carved into lanterns used to scare off harmful spirits and to attract masked festival participants (guisers) and more recently trick or treaters. Traditionally, guisers perform a form of entertainment for their treat such as a singing a song, telling a joke or a story or poem. Tricks are only given if the treat isn’t appreciated. The Parshell Cross, which is an Irish tradition, is created the day before Samhuinn and hung above your front door for protection. It is taken down the following year when a new once will replace it.

Overall Samhuinn is a time to celebrate our beloved dead, be thankful for our Summer and Fall harvests and honor the Cailleach who brings the winter in.

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Friday Meditation: 6 November, 2015

This week I have been trying to adhere to Calm.com’s 7 Day Calm which I use on an app for Android (also available on iTunes). You can also use the website if you happen to be in front of your computer and need a few minutes to meditate, all 3 options are free.

How it works is you go through 7 days of an introduction to meditation. From there, if you are willing to pay for their services, you can go to 20 days. They have a few other free meditations as well which I am enjoying.

As I try to get a better sense of what meditation practices work for me, what time limit is best and attempting to find a normalcy to all of this I am noticing a trend: I need structure. What is nice about this app is every day is sends me a reminder at 11am to meditate or have a calm moment. I of course can easily set my own reminder on my phone as well and don’t need a specific app for this, but I actually didn’t think of it until now.

After consciously trying to make meditation a part of my schedule for a few weeks now I am noticing the following about myself (which is great, I love data):

  1. I need noise. Silent meditation may work great for others, but my mind can’t handle it without looking for a distraction, any distraction, and it really takes me out of it. I prefer soft nature sounds such as the rhythmic waves of the ocean, quiet bird song or rain. I’ve tried drumming and after a while it gets to be a little overwhelming. I may revisit this though as so far when listening to drumming I see the most.
  2. Meditating before bed helps me sleep. This is a great way to quiet my racing mind before bed, but the only issue here is the more tired I am the more fidgety I become. I can’t meditate before bed if I am overtired, it becomes incredibly uncomfortable.
  3. I have a limit of 10 minutes. I’ve tried to go for longer and it’s just too much. Maybe this is my ADHD talking, but I really start to wander after 10 minutes and even before then can be a struggle. I am hoping to work past this, but for now I am glad to realize this is my limit for now.

This may seem minor, but knowing myself and limits clearly can only help me move past them. What I’d like to do in the future is not be reliant upon noise or at least specific noise. It’d be nice to be able to simply slip into meditation say on the subway or in a crowded room if I am feeling anxious or need some space. I’d also like to extend my limit past 10 minutes, a little at a time. I am in no rush for a long session.

Anyway, that’s this week’s take on my slow journey into becoming decent at meditation. Something that is important to most Pagansand non-Pagans alike. As always, feel free to share your experiences, links or whatever in the comments.

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You are NOT your first thought: Understanding Your Dual Mind

There is an excellent article on the Share Mindfulness website called “You are NOT your first thought: Understanding Your Dual Mind.” It discusses our being of not one mind, but two.

The summary of the article (and I highly recommend reading the entire thing)  is we experience two modes; System 1 and System 2. From the article:

The short version is that we aren’t in control like we thought we were. We go through our lives thinking WE are making each and every decision, when in reality we have automatic responses which are responsible for the majority of our decisions in any given day. It’s almost as if your body is a machine part with programmed responses to stimuli… only, you aren’t 100% sure how to (re)program it.

Almost everything we do in our day is System 1, or our subconscious. This is automatic and our default mode. System 2 however is our conscious thought, requires effort and is our ideal way of thinking (see the article for more attributes for each).

Over time we rely too heavily on System 1, it runs the show and sometimes not for the better. We are quick to react before thinking and go with out initial emotional response. We need to use System 2 more often, be aware of our thoughts and take time before reacting.

This was a really eye opening article and I am sure my short version is not doing it justice. Please check it out!

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