Ogham Twig of the Day – Ngetal

ngetalNgetal (NYEH-tl)

Reed and Broom
Color ~ Nglas ~ Glass Green
Stone ~ Clear Green Jasper
Bird ~ Ngeigh ~ Goose
Word oghams ~ wound – charm – healing
Ngetal represents a sense of established power.

Reed is the tallest of the grasses, and is associated with water. It has a long tradition as a wand of authority, which is a symbol of recorded time. Papyrus is made from reed. A broken reed is a broken promise, a loss of trust, a seeping away of authority. The Reed is the scepter of the Queen. The reed is earthly power and authority.

The Irish used the reed “whitten rose” for thatching of roofs. A house was not completed or established until the roof was thatched. The dead stems rattle in the wind.

The month of reed marked the beginning of winter. The symbolism of the reed, rod, and scepter are symbols of power and authority derived from ancient tree worship.

It is time to batten down the hatches! Take time to prepare for what harm may be on the way. Reed offers protection. With reed in hand – protection is yours! Be prepared for a change or a disturbing event. Be prepared, organized, and stable. If you are prepared you can weather anything.

Ogham Twig for Today ~ Gort

gortThe Tree ~ Ivy ~ Finemain
Color ~ Gorm ~ Blue
Stone ~ Serpentine
Bird ~ Geis ~ Mute Swan

Message ~ Tenacity, raw survival instinct enabling triumph over circumstances.
Meanings ~ garden, growth, sweeter than grasses, counterpart of heaven.

There is determined power in Gort. It offers boar-like tenacity in applying the will to do difficult work. It is important to remember that the tools we use are not the ends, but only the means to give rise to something coming from the depths of our being. We must keep on our true goals.
Ivy It has the ability to bind all things together. It can wander freely, linking tree to tree, or form dense thickets that block out the light and restrict passage. Ivy brings shelter or overwhelming darkness and reminds us that where there is life, there is also death. Ivy represents our souls wandering in search for enlightenment, but carries a warning to be sure of the direction we are heading!

Entwining Ivy represents the female principles of life Through conception and birth, the male life force is given form by the female body, but in giving life substance so too does women bring death into being.

Ivy is sacred to Bendis, Mor Righ Anu, Osiris and Dionysus. Dedicated to resurrection jointly with vine because they grow spirally.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary Ivy stands for “a place of concealment or retirement.”  Many creatures are concealed from harm beneath the spiraling ivy.

Ivy attracts the last bees of the year, reminding us of the sweetness of the Goddess as we prepare to enter the dark time of the year.

“I am a ruthless boar.
I am a fierce boar.
I fled as a bristly boar seen in a ravine. (for valor)
I am a thicket which holds the roebuck.
I have tasted joy.
I have strength born of ecstasy.”

The symbolism of the boar is used because the cycle falls during boar hunting season and the boar is the beast of death symbolizing the “Fall” or the beginning of death, of the Old Year. But the Ivy’s serpentine spiraling signifies resurrection. Again, a reminder of the birth/death cycle of life.

The Boar’s descent into the Underworld is not purely a journey of destruction: because it is basically, in spite of any others roles, it may play, a creature of fertility, it plants within Death itself, the seeds of renewal.

Ogham Few for Today – Nion

Today’s drawing is the Nion stave.

Nion falls at a time when things are about to be awakened. Projects have been sitting and waiting and now is the time to bring them into fruition – breathe life into them now! Nion comes with a word of caution, however. Birthing things are fragile. Be aware that strong winds can destroy what is new. This process needs a gentle breath!

Facts about Nion
Nion, (Nee-uhn)
The Tree ~ AshAshleafseed
Third Consonant
Color ~ Necht ~Clear or Blue
Stone – Sea Green Berylberyl
Bird ~ Naescu ~ Snipe
Goddesses – the Nine Maidens whose breath fueled the cauldron and The Norns
Symbols – Wind, Breath, Awen
Message – Feelings ~ Emotions ~ Awaken
Support, connection, boast of women, contest of beauty, weaving

Our Loss of Od

Freyja is an Old Icelandic goddess of the Earth, fertility, and beauty. Her name means “Lady.” Freyja is known to be very beautiful and sexual. It is thought that Freyja was first in union with Od. This union represented what is known in Old Icelandic as sam-vit, a state of united consciousness. In other words, consciousness that reflects a state of being united, integrated, or whole. Od had vanished from Her life causing her to weep for his loss. Where her tears fell on the land, they turned to amber and where they fell in the Sea they became gold. Amber and gold are both sacred to Freyja. From the time he left, she continued to travel and search for him.

We come into this world as infants, and in that state only experience the present moment. We know our mothers from the heart beat felt in the womb and perhaps through other senses as yet undefined. We know at any given moment that we are hungry or content, wet or dry, sleepy or wakeful. Our ability to see is not fully developed and at first we see only hazy images around us. We are born knowing how to cry. It is our only way to communicate as infants. Our interests focus only on “self” and our own needs. We are, except for this ability to cry, basically helpless, unable to do anything except be where we are placed and are totally dependent on those who care for us.

As we mature, however, we begin to hear and identify sounds, see colors and shapes and taste foods we like or dislike. We learn to smile when something pleases us and we learn to laugh when feeling happiness. We learn to recognize other people, sounds and gestures and eventually the many words spoken to us. We learn to scoot, crawl and finally walk. With that we learn to mimic and then, with understanding, communicate with speech. We still however, live very much in the “now.”

As children, if not damaged by the care given us, we are fully sensing beings. We may not always understand our sensory perceptions because our experience is limited but we use our senses easily. We are creatures of exploration and discovery. Using an Old Icelandic term once more, you might say finna is fully active at this time. Finna is a critical and innate element of being that is critical to our spiritual and physical health and well-being. It means to discover, find, perceive, notice, feel, learn, to come across, and to meet.

Something happens to us when we are old enough to enter school. We are placed in an environment where sensory exploration is no longer the focus but rather we begin to develop left brain perception, through reading and writing. We are taught to be more analytic, oriented toward mental processes rather than sensory awareness. Because of the rigid conformity required of us, we lose the ability to be open and much of the inherent wonder and deep curiosity of our own body’s desire to be open to our environment is lost.

For those of us on a spiritual path, awareness of this loss comes to us as we seek answers to our own spiritual questions. Our yearning is much like that of Freyja for her Od. We have body memories of our connections to the sacred in those simple ways of childhood. We may not consciously remember what it is like to be open to all that is around us, but there is an inner yearning to seek and find, no matter how elusive it might be.

Once we recognize that we are sacred beings and one with our Source, as well as everything else around us, the connections begin to grow. We take ourselves back out into nature. We learn to really “see” what is around us. We learn that everything can speak to us, tell us what we need to know, if we listen. We study our past, digging deeply into our ancestors spiritual past wanting to know how they honored the divine in their lives and how to connect with them in the present.

We learn that our bodies truly are our temple because they house our sacred spirit. From this we begin to see the advisability of caring for our bodies and begin eating in healthy ways. We learn to take care of this “temple” we have been given or have chosen for ourselves.

If we allow it, music can enter our souls and speak to us, recalling far distant longings, awakening emotions hidden deeply within. Our food can give us new pleasure, with taste sensations unnoticed before.

We learn about our deep inner nature, our lightness and our shadow. We acknowledge and love both. We see who we are though our learning about ourselves, perhaps through the many self-development avenues available to us. We learn to love who we are no matter if flawed or not, because we know that all are flawed in one way or another and we see that even “flawed” is a faulty perception.

As we explore the five senses given to us at birth, opening in our perceptions, somehow another sense is developed and it is a returning of our own intuitive awareness. We have the ability to know of things seen by the inner eye and heard by inner ears. We delight in the sense of touch, both in the touching and in the being touched.

And so this ongoing search for Od that we have leads us into a return to a natural state of openness and from there to an inner consciousness that reflects the state of being united, integrated, and whole. When we are in that state we are able to access all that we need to manifest “possibilities” in life. Our Freyja will have found her Od.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities.. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Sequana and Blessed Water

Water is the daily necessity for earth’s creatures.

When the Continental Celts were looking for a new homeland, they ventured west from the known river valleys of the great landmass we call Eurasia. Just beyond the great mountains, the Alps, they discovered sweet and abundant water, fertile soil, expansive woodlands, and the plentiful fish, game, berries, grasses, fungi and broad-leafed plants necessary to support their tribe.

We know that Celtic spirituality was, in its roots, animistic (spirit was alive in every living thing), non-anthropomorphic (the source of life and death was water, land, plant and animal-life), tribe-specific (in France alone there is evidence of several hundred deities) and a spirituality of place, of the major landforms that defined the world (rivers, springs, forests, animals, heavenly bodies). To the extent that Celtic spirituality was theistic, the creator/sustainer/destroyer of life was typically a goddess.

The Celts who settled at the source of the great river system defining their homeland called the river Squan, a Celtic word describing the shape of a snake. Squan, then, was river and goddess. In my mind, She was Mother Snake, source of life, for her flowing waters sustained the tribe in the same way mother’s milk nurtured children through infancy and early childhood.

Sequana is the Latin word for the Seine, the most famous of the five principal rivers of France, and also for the Celtic Squan — the Mother Goddess of the tribes of Celts who lived on her shores and islands 3,000 years ago. She was river, Goddess, the living spirit of the land — eau de vie.

The Seine runs from its source west of the Alps, through the heart of Paris, to its mouth at Le Havre, where it joins the English Channel and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the North and Irish Seas.

The last, long ending of winter is usually is often a time of heavy rains and snow. Because the sun is beginning to offer longer periods of light and warmth, frost is no longer holding deeply in the soil, but is now melting and seeping into the earth, bringing texture to the land and getting it ready for the new growth soon to emerge. This is the “quickening” that will soon give us the early signs of spring with bulbs pushing themselves up into view. For us that means it is time to thaw out our spirits and warm ourselves, allowing a thaw from the winter’s cold darkness, and preparing for our own new growth.

At this time of year, in this specific lunar cycle we in the Apple Branch honor Sequana, in this season of rains and possible flooding. The waters are awakening the dormant Earth as she warms toward her season of fertility.

Many ancient peoples had stories of floods in which water was both honored as a life bringer and as a destroyer. Water was seen as something that “escaped” from the realms of the gods. In many of the stories it seemed to be a female who was involved when water would move through some disaster, come to the land bringing growth and abundance though turbulence.

SequanaIn Celtic spirituality, the spirit of the land was often embodied in water — in springs, rivers, lakes and later, the “sacred” or “holy” wells. Sequana is both the surface and underground waters of the Seine and her tributaries and also all of the lands drained by them. She is a watershed deity, alive today in the network of watersheds in the Paris Basin, and in the hearts of some of Her people, who remember. She is mother of the clan, Snake River, bestower of health. In Her arms, She carries the overflowing cornucopia of the abundant, giving land.

Sequana's BoatHer sacred animal was the duck.

Modern statue of the Nymph of the River Seine by the Sculptor Jouffroy, situated in an artificial grotto, near the ancient Gallo-Roman sanctuary of the Sources-de-la-Seine dedicated to the Celtic goddess Sequana.

From “Living River” …..

“Flowing like a river, like a river to the sea
Love flows through you, and it flows through me…”

… “Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world’s water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected.”

… “Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government, therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes. These right must be enshrined at all levels of government. In particular, an international treaty must ensure these principles are non-controvertible.”

… “Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with governments in the protection and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water.”

Water also figured highly in the Pagan Cluster’s Living River Action during the protests. The Living River mission statement included,

“We say that our lives, our communities, the health of the earth’s ecosystems, the cultures of indigenous peoples, the dreams of children are too important to be subsumed to profit. Another world is possible: A world of justice, freedom, ecological balance and true abundance, and we will make it real. Although the negotiators of the FTAA believe they have fenced out dissent, we believe they have walled themselves in. We intend to liberate them so that they can hear the voices of the people, the land, and the waters!”

May water always belong to the people!

What is a Crone

First of all a Crone is a woman. She has lived most of her life already and has accumulated many life experiences and therefore, can relate to those younger than her with greater understanding. She has acquired the wisdom associated with having had those life experiences. She has reached a place in her life when she may be slowing down. She may have retired from her career. She may want to devote more time to herself, serving more as an advisor rather than as the do’er. We can read the poem, Warning by Jenny Joseph to get an idea…

When I am an old woman
I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

What this poem says that when a woman reaches a certain age, she is no longer driven by what others think. She simply doesn’t care anymore. What matters to them is not her concern – only what matters to her.

Every woman has moments and days when the Crone appears in her life, just as the Maiden, the Mother and the Queen present themselves at various times. It is basically how much of each show themselves that might determine what stage the woman is in at that time. We all seem to push to be considered Crones, WAY before we really are. Yes, no matter what age, we have our wisdom. But it is only when the Crone aspect is front and center almost all the time that we can truly be considered Crone. There is no rush. Why choose to be “old” when in the prime of life?

When Do You Become a Crone?

There are many schools of thought on this. Goddess women who honor their blood mysteries say that when a woman stops her monthly menses, she is a Crone. These days however, we have women ceasing their flow while still in their thirties. What happens when a woman stops bleeding because she has had a hysterectomy? Is she now a Crone?

No longer bleeding is only one aspect of becoming a Crone. Some people decide a woman is a Crone when she reaches a certain age. Some say 50, others say 60 but can age really determine a Crone?

Astrologically, it is said that when the planet Saturn makes its second pass around in our birth chart, we are now a Crone. Saturn “returns” every 29 years, so it would be in a person’s 58th year that it happens. It takes a while, several months to actually pass by, so it might not be until she is 59. I remember the years following my first Saturn Return at age 29. Major things happened in my life after that. Really, my whole life changed because my sense of self had changed along with how I viewed life. EVERYTHING was different.

During my second Saturn Return, I fell in love again. It was passionate, life changing and left me reeling. It rocked my world. I did not know at the time it was my second Saturn Return so there was no bias or awareness affecting my experience. It was only after that I looked at my chart and realized what had occurred.

Since then, Croning has been a slow process. It has been an adjustment to a body that won’t do what it used to do. While I am still very active in my life, creating and building, writing and expressing, there is a prominent focus on my own self-care and a huge difference in how I see the world. I find myself being on one hand, more compassionate with my fellow humans and yet, on the other hand, less tolerant of all the bull shit I am exposed to.

Insight and wisdom come to me quicker and with less effort. I have many more experiences of thinking “How did I know that?” and “Where did that come from?”

At 72, I am Crone. No doubt about it. I qualify with cessation of bleeding. I qualify by having had my second Saturn Return. I qualify from the acquisition of much knowledge. I qualify from having had a huge amount of life experience, the loss of friends and family, the knowledge of knowing I can take care of myself at all times and the wisdom to understand the beauty of love.

There was no sudden moment that I became a Crone. It wasn’t when I had a hysterectomy at 43. It wasn’t when I turned 50, when I turned 60 or even when I experienced my second Saturn Return. It was a slow moving evolution. I haven’t retired from life. I am still going full force as a priestess in service to others. I am active in my community with my neighbors but there is something different from what was there before; an intangible difference that I feel in my bones, in my soul. All I can say to you is that you will know when it is time to say, I am a Crone.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess and a practicing Druid. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Happenings in Brazil

There has been a huge hullabaloo over what took place in Brazil between Z Budapest and Claudiney Prieto.  To those of us who were watching closely – either through Facebook or through friends who were actually there, her first announcement blew off our socks!  We were astounded!

Then the backtracking began.  In one post by Z, she explained how she was overcome with joy during the ritual and that Goddess told her to do this.  I can completely understand being moved in a beautiful and well-executed ritual to act from the heart and not, at that moment, consider, what might follow.  I get, that in thinking about it later in the cold light of day, emotions are different and so now what was announced as an ordination of a priest (not high priest) in her lineage has become a blessing of a Kourette.  Honestly and truly, unless Z has intentions of changing the tradition, that is really all she can do anyway and since a kourette cannot witness nor enter a women’s circle – I am fine with this.

I am not sure about the white kata she put around his neck – I was ordained by Z as a high priestess and received no kata.  The distinction is the process of elevating the new high priestess to the Goddess.  The new priestess stands on her feet to be presented. The new high priestess is raised up to the Goddess by her honor guard. Never will I ever forget my own experience at my ordination in 2000.  To this day, I have no conscious memory of what took place once my honor guard elevated me and we walked the Circle to each of the Quarters.

I do know that two of my Sisters have separated from the lineage and I am greatly saddened by this. However, each of us must do what our hearts and our wisdom tell us.  I continue to offer training in Women’s Mysteries and Feminist Dianic Wicca.  While I do not always agree with what our Founding Mother says, I do believe the Tradition has great value in the Women’s Goddess Community.  What I do and say is how I will be judged by those who find it necessary to judge.

I recently spent time in Brazil and do know from personal experience working with the women in the Dianic Tradition of Brazil, that Women’s Mysteries are alive and well in Brazil.  Do continue to watch for further news about this.

Friendship

So, I bought a book (not new for me) called “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” by Shasta Nelson.  I bought it at the suggestion of my friend, Letecia, because I expressed my plans to widen my circle of friends.  Shasta also has an interactive website but alas, there is nothing there for those of us in Austin (at least not yet).  Being me, and how I have never feared beginning things on my own, I want to find a way to connect here in Austin in order to create those meaningful friendships.

Shasta’s book explains the different kinds of friendships we form and then, in part two, goes on to offer help in “growing” those friendships – especially the kind you are truly seeking.  I have friendships that fall into the first two or three types on the left and in the center (on her scale left to right) but in all honesty I am seriously lacking in what she calls committed friendships (all the way to the right).

Early on, in the very beginning of the book, Shasta makes reference to how important having these relationships is to our health and well-being.

I have always been a nomad – beginning with being an Army Brat – then marrying into the military – it became a pattern in my life.  So I do know how friendships – good ones – can be formed. I have done it over and over again, successfully, my whole life.  But today, perhaps at my age, but also in this technological, fast-paced time we live in – we just need to look at new and different ways of finding friends or finding the women who have the potential of becoming best friends.

I have long been aware that creating and maintaining those kinds of committed friendships demands just that – commitment! I have been a fan of Thomas Moore’s work for years and know that we must take care of relationships for them to remain healthy and for them to satisfy the needs we have from them.  It not only takes time and attention to get to the committed stage, it also takes time and attention for them to last any reasonable amount of time.

I am at a place in my life where my BFF’s are almost all online.  They are wonderful women and there for me always.  But that does not help a lot when I am sitting here in my apartment and I just want to connect in an intimate, loving way – in-person – with someone I hold close to my heart in friendship.  There is no one in my life that qualifies for that role.  I certainly have friends I can tell most anything but they are not available for hanging out – for some casual fun on any kind of regular basis.  I don’t hold them responsible or love them any less for that. I just know that I need more.

I haven’t read the part yet about finding those friends but I do know what I seek and what has pleased me in former, committed friendships.

This friend …

  1. Has some common interests but certainly could share new ones with me.
  2. Holds similar spiritual views – has common ground.
  3. Is trust worthy and honest.
  4. Is single and available and will make time for friendship.
  5. Is close to my age, perhaps 60 plus….
  6. Wants to have face to face contact at least 2-3 times a month.
  7. Won’t walk away mad but will hang in there to resolve conflict.
  8. Calls and also loves to get calls to just check in.
  9. Knows that friendship is a two-way street and is willing to both give and receive in forming the bonds necessary.
  10. Knows how to listen compassionately and is also willing to be vulnerable herself.
  11. Doesn’t have a problem with finding very inexpensive things to do.

There may be some more things I will add to this list but it is a start!

So, if I want to do this, I must begin.  This is my first step. I am putting this on my blog and sharing my blog.  I welcome ideas and if you are in Austin and somehow resonate with what I have listed – I would love to explore.

I have formed a group on Facebook to discuss this topic.  You can join here

https://www.facebook.com/groups/creating.sustaining.friendship/

As I continue to read and explore I will add to this topic, so stay tuned …

A Change in the Air

Lying in the cool, green grass, I feel it thick beneath me.
I gaze at the clouds in the sky and my mind wanders,
drifting out to times remembered and times yet to come.
I feel close to the Earth, immanently connected and
embraced by the unknown universe above.

I have sought to learn the secrets of both
and the more I think I know
the more I realize how much there is yet to learn.
They keep their secrets guarded from inquisitive minds
giving a bit at a time, just enough to tempt
a hungry mind to search for more.

I remember when I used to take a nice thick blade of grass
between my two thumbs and raise it to my lips
squealing  a sound out into the wind.
I try it now and there it is,
that old familiar sound still there, even now.

I see the geese flying overhead
the cool air of autumn blew in on the wind today.
They are honking their way south.
As I think about this time of calm and stillness
summer’s end and just now feeling the change
moving toward winter, but first a time to watch
all the colors change from green to yellows and browns.

Trees know that it is time to rest and close down.
A time to prepare for the inward journey of the dark.
I think I’ll lie here in the grass for a while longer
taking in the autumn day and feeling the Earth
rich and warm beneath me while my mind wanders
with pleasant thoughts that drift
and spiral with no purpose but to just be.

Opening the Faerie Hill

Danu, Danu, Danu
Three times round we go
Moonwise in our circle
Dancing with the flow.

Danu, Danu, Danu
Three times round we spin
To waken all the Sidhe
In the mound within

Danu, Danu, Danu
Three times round we dance
Lead us to the Otherworld
Spinning in our trance.

Danu, Danu, Danu
Three times round we sing
Happy all together
In the Faerie Ring.