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.

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.

Hymn to Brigdet

Imbolc is coming. I will be singing this for my solitary Imbolc ritual.

Today I recognize that I am worth of love

After reading The Gifts of Imperfection I wanted a reminder of the lessons it taught. I now read through it at least once a week, sometimes daily, and find it thoroughly centering.


Today I recognize that I am worthy of love
and that all beings are worthy of love

I stand my sacred ground
even as the winds of antagonism and insecurities blows around me

I will be brave, so that others can be brave
I will be my real self, so that others can be their real selves
I will shine brilliantly, so that others can show their brilliance

I will not be ashamed of being imperfect
I will not feel guilty for being imperfect
I will not succumb to regret
I will not be afraid of failure
because failure is inevitable
and it is merely a passing moment, not an ending
and being awful is not really that awful after all

I will lean into the discomfort
because anger and sorrow are part of being human
and if I experience any emotions
it means I can experience all emotions

I will cherish faith
and never let it go
because I have faith that the world will be a better place
and I have faith in the goodness of others
and I have faith in myself, today, just the way I am

I will remember and acknowledge my blessings
I have those who love my fully as the imperfect human I am
and I have all that I need

I recognize the value of sleep and self care
the time to rest, the time to play around
because this is the stuff of balance
and balance is the stuff of real happiness

Today I recognize that I am worthy of love
and that all beings are worthy of love

Burying a Beloved Pet

The only pets that fit into my husband’s and my life right now are sugar gliders. Yes, you probably don’t know what they are. Here’s a photo:

Chou Chou the Sugar Glider

Think a gray-scale chipmunk with a long tail and the ability to glide on flaps of furry skin like a flying squirrel.

We got a pair back in February, almost a year ago. While away for winter vacation, the girl of the girl/boy pair passed away. It is a risk with these animals. They are so small that there are a number of dangers and toxins that could have been momentarily sniffed or licked, or a bladder infection that wasn’t noticed, or a number of other things. Yet she died, and my husband and I were crushed.

They were originally supposed to only be my pets. I remember that specifically: my husband sighed as he finally approved them as a potential pet, but said they were hideous and “they will be your pets, not our pets”.  Which of course guaranteed that he would fall head over heels over them. I have rarely seen him cry. The only time in the last year was when his grandparents died. He cried a few times over lovely little Lulu.

A picture seems appropriate here. Here is one shortly after we got her, a 2-month-old baby who had trouble balancing easily on the edge of her food dish so she just laid down in it instead.

Lulu the Sugar Glider

We buried her with a felt nesting cloth and leaves, because she was a nester. We would periodically stick in a silk leaf or piece of felt cloth in the bars just above her sleeping pouch, and she would quickly pull it in and spend a half an hour arranging it just right.

I honored Lulu with a good burial, thinking of pagan burials of old with artifacts to follow them into the next life, and hope her spirit is comforted and delighted with the sea of leaves and scraps of felt we buried her with, along with her favorite kinds of treats.

I gave an apple as an offering to Manannan Mac Lyr, and sent Lulu our love and hopes for a peaceful journey into whatever lay beyond this life for her sweet little spirit.

I mourn her passing. Yet I find this is the easiest passing of a family pet who has died. When I was little, people told me that animals could not go to heaven, and in my teenage years, when I stopped believing in heaven and hell, I was frightened by death. The rituals and beliefs of my childhood were abandoned, but nothing had settled in its place.

I do not claim to “know” what happens to our souls or spirits or what-have-you, but I believe that the energy does not — cannot — simply disappear. I know that my ancestors are remembered and honored, and I believe they are at peace. I honored them by name and prayer each last Samhain. I will honor Lulu at the next, and the next, and the next after that. The continuity of ritual is a profound comfort.


Samhain Greetings!

I always feel a little overwhelmed with the holidays, and thus haven’t always gone through with any sort of celebration. So instead of planning a ritual, I want to start with little traditions that are inclusive for all the non-Pagans in my life, like my husband and the rest of my family.

Here’s something I started this year and plan to continue in future years. I made and wrote little notes to those I’ve known who have passed away, or in some cases, grandparents I didn’t know but have heard so much about that I wish I had.

When I began, I asked my husband if he wanted to write anything. He declined, but then saw me preparing the final product, and said, “Well, I didn’t know you were going to light candles and do that!” Then he promptly got some paper and did the same, and said he looked forward to doing it with kids and possibly having extended family come for an evening to celebrate the same way. “I really like this,” he kept repeating.

I love beginnings.

In Idaho

I’m currently visiting my family in Idaho. Just a few minutes down the road from my aunt’s house is a huge public free range field for cattle, filled with golden grasses and sagebrush and shy cattle. I stepped out into the field into a clump of sagebrush, crushed and smelled a leaf of it in my fingers, and looked out onto the valley in which I was born.

Then I shouted my morning devotional prayer. I called it out into the wind, out across the fields, knowing that none but the Kindreds and the cattle could hear me.

Usually my morning devotional prayer is said in a quiet or normal voice in the morning, the first words I speak through a scratchy throat, not too loud so I don’t wake my fiancé or disturb the neighbors. I say it to an indoor prayer, hoping the heater or A/C won’t turn on and disturb the candles.

I had no candles in Idaho. I had no symbols for the Well, Tree & Fire other than the landscape around me. When it came time in my devotional to “bathe my face” from water from the well, I had to pantomime it. And yet I have never felt so alive, so connected after my devotional. It was a most exhilarating and liberating experience!

Pictures of the cattle on the private land on the other side of the road: