Beginning the Artist’s Way program & Week 1 Check-In

I’ve had the Artist’s Way book for years and took a bit of wisdom from it, but never really delved into it. Now I’m doing it. I’m full steam ahead. I have the workbook, and I’m committed to do every single little suggestion and try it with good faith for 12 weeks. I’m now beginning Week 2. I think it will really help with all sorts of creative crafty or bardic pursuits, as well as be a good complement to my therapy for anxiety.

Here are the basic principles (slightly reworded for myself):

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.

  2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life — including ourselves.

  3. When we open ourselves to creativity, we open ourselves to the Kindreds and the Folk within us and our lives.

  4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are mean to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.

  5. Creativity is the gods’ gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to the gods.

  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.

  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves up to the gods.

  8. As we open our creative channel to the gods, many gentle though powerful changes are to be expected.

  9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.

  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

And here is my Week 1 Check-in:

I started morning pages on Tuesday and continued through Friday, but didn’t do any on Saturday and Sunday. Then I did it today. That’s 5/7. I found that most days ended up with 1-1.5 pages of narrative about my life, 0.5-1 page of worries written down on the page and processing them, and 1 page of reflection and analysis of events from my childhood or past, which for one reason or another were brought back into my current thought patterns.

My artist’s date was going to Michael’s, browsing through art books (how to draw manga, how to draw fantasy creatures, how to color using artist’s markers and watercolors) and art supplies. I bought a few things, then went back and bought a few more things. However, it was completely awesome to get two hours just browsing and poking about. (I think the store people found me comical; the guy at the register said something about how I kept going back and forth, back and forth.)  It opened me up to the possibility of being an artist again. I drew two things (one from my head, one a copy of a My Little Pony illustration from a coloring book). I colored many pages, some in cheap coloring books with coloring pencils and crayons, some in a coloring book with intricate designs with a set of cheap markers.

Sonnet of Wisdom

The universe is not a line of time,
But rather tapestry made from the threads
That each soul and each life in pattern bind
Through time and space, as each on her path treads.

If ye seek wise druidic intellect,
See past the lie of linear progression;
Instead see that our actions have effect
Beyond our own small triumphs or transgressions.

Each action that we make, each step we take,
Will strum the strings of truth that touch us all.
The unwise fumble blindly, make threads quake;
The wisest see these strings and seek to heal.

To hear the humming threads of truth that bind,
Observe the patterns, honor them in kind.

Bridget of the Healing Well …

This is a little song I made up a while ago. I still sing it sometimes in the shower or bath.

Lyrics:
Brigit of the healing well
Brigit of the water
Brigit, who is grandmother
Mother, maiden, daughter
Bring your healing waters in
Washing weary heart and limb
Take these able, willing hands
To heal all hurt across these lands

Brigit of the blacksmith’s hand
Brigit of the fires
Brigit, whose bright, noble brow
Works, creates, inspires
Bring your ever-burning light
Making new ideas alight
Take these able, willing hands
To make new craft to serve these lands

Brigit of the warming hearth
Brigit of the mantle green
Brigit, who brings light in the dark
Hailing in the coming spring
Bring the pow’r that makes things grow
Helps them thrive and lets them go
Take these able, willing hands
To foster growth throughout these lands

Melody:
3/4 time, quick, Â means the A above middle C

|:
G – G | G – G | ÂGÂ | G – -
 – E | D – E | D – C | A – – :|

|:
A – C | D – E | G – E | D – -
G – E | D – E | D – C | A – – :|

Cleaning Up

Here is a bit that I’ve developed over these first few years with ADF, and I find myself unable to comfortably end a ritual without these lines.

After the rite is ended, I blow out any candles (usually just the pillar candle I use for the sacred fire), saying:

Though this fire is here extinguished, may it burn ever on within me.

Then I take the offerings and the bowl of water representing the well (filled afresh before each new ritual) outside and pour it onto the ground, saying:

I return this to the earth, as all things return to the earth.

Wisdom

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is the act of turning inwards to listen to a quiet voice, that part of us that is always connected to the universe and its eternal truths. It is listening to intuition. It is making that connection to the source of truth. When we listen to this inner voice of intuition, we will not be led astray.

Wisdom is also seeing patterns in life and predicting an action’s outcome based on these common patterns. Those who are wise see the effects, and also the effects of these effects, and so on and so forth.

While we may encounter snippets of wisdom in our lives through quotations and philosophies, it is not from these isolated strings of words that wisdom is made. Otherwise the whole world would be wise. What is the source of such quotations and philosophies? A person who quieted all else in order to hear truth. When we hear something wise for the first time, sometimes it hits our full being like lightning, changing us forever. We have heard others’ wisdom resonate within us, and it helps us find our own wisdom. The inner voice cries out in joy, for you have listened. Other times we don’t fully recognize wisdom when we hear it, and perhaps it attaches to us like a barbed seed, waiting for the day when conditions are right — when we are ready to recognize it — so that it may take root and grow.

A person acting wisely hears her intuition and gains a wider view of the world. She is not led to react with raw, unexamined emotions. She sees the situation and its influences, and seeks an action (or inaction) that will bring the most benefit to the world, not just herself.

The tragedy in this world is that we are too often inundated with an overflow of noise, deafening our ears to our intuition, our own internal source of wisdom. We react with passion with little reflection, potentially leaving a mess in our wake. If we benefit the world this way, it is a happy accident; if we expect to benefit the world this way, we are being naive and foolish.

The world needs listeners.

Red Oak Grove’s Samhain/Calan Gaeaf

This last Saturday I attended Red Oak Grove‘s Samhain / Calan Gaeaf ritual. This was my first ritual in attendance as an official friend of the grove (first level of membership). I also brought my husband to the event, and though he hadn’t planned to attend the ritual part of it at first, right before we processed off to the ritual site he asked to come along (with our little dog Rolo in tow).

This ritual was my first group ritual after dark, lit by a torch, the ritual fire, some jack o’ lanterns around the edge, and the occasional flashlight for the ritual leaders to see what they were doing or reading. A list of those who have died since last Calan Gaeaf was read, along with a phrase or two of their contributions. We were then invited to remember aloud a loved one who has passed on, and I remembered my mother’s mother. Her memory has always weighed heavily on my mind: in childhood for the stories my mom always told, and as an adult as I’ve seen the pain my mom experienced in her grief for her mother, which has only recently really healed enough for my mom to move on and live her life more fully.

The omens were perfectly tied to the time of year and the event of Halloween, which was pretty awesome.

I really appreciated the symbolism behind literally stumbling around in the dark, and how the light (electronic or fire-based) then illuminated the way. I also have rarely appreciated the warmth of a fire pit so much as this weekend, when nights dropped to freezing temperatures and when I was bundled in what never seemed like enough layers of clothing! I think it’s rare for humans in modern society to experience such a sharp desire and need for fire. During the day, our tent was warmed by the light of the sun that was trapped and insulated within, providing quite a snuggly retreat.

On the way to the event, I listened to the DruidCast podcast episode 76, in which Kristopher Hughes discussed being a medical examiner of the dead and his own views on death and dying. The process of grief for a loved one is something I have only recently understood, experiencing the death of a pet and my husband’s grandparents as an adult. That process helped me empathize with my mother enough to understand how she could cause such pain to her loved ones while suffering in grief. I would not have been able to rekindle our relationship without this deeper understanding. Death is a part of the human experience, but the grieving process does not receive a lot of real understanding and empathy by our society (except for some sympathy, turning to pity and then frustration when someone doesn’t just “get over it”).

Excerpt from Imbolc Ritual

I am following the Solitary Druid Fellowship‘s liturgy for Imbolc, but I am adding this for honoring Brighid:

The land has lay quietly in winter
Yet the sun’s light increases daily
And the earliest heralds of springtime have taken note.
It won’t be long before the crocus buds
and the lambs drop from the ewes,
and then birds will be all a-twitter,
pairing off among rain and flowers.

The land is pregnant and showing;
Despite her cold and childless arms,
The Mother Earth is glowing.

Brighid comes this night!
Brighid, who stirs the spark of life;
Brighid, who blesses the deep well of the earth’s womb;
Brighid, who wears the green mantle of the summer to come.

Here and now, I welcome you, Brighid,
On this day of hope and promise –
It’s too early to be sure of anything
Yet faith in the world is alive and well.

Brighid, I have struggled with my devotion;
I have struggled with my faith,
But I come to you today with an open heart.

I keep vigil in the fire of my heart.
It is sometimes a roaring fire
Other times a smoldering ember
Yet ever does it burn with love for you.