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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

January 31st, 2014

04:24 pm - Building Resources for the Solitary Pagan
One of the things I've learned by exploring the Pagan tag on Tumblr is that it's still remarkably hard for a young Pagan to figure out what he or she should be doing: rites seem complicated, finding good teachers is really difficult, and there's a veritable crapload of crap out there for you to get mixed up in.

Part of what I've been doing as a result of this very interesting revelation (let me be honest: I just thought it was so much easier today to figure this stuff out, what with all the interets and things floating about. . . turns out it's not) is creating content that fills that need. There's so much terrible content out there, and no one with any sense seems to have a web presence to speak of, so someone has to fill that gap.

I don't know how I'm doing, but I do know I am doing. It doesn't hurt that I can do these things when I'm taking care of babies so they don't require any actual "spare" time.

The biggest thing that I see is people not being sure "how" to celebrate a feast. There's a lot of call for ritual scripts, but as I mentioned above, they can be daunting. The aim I have is to make honoring the seasons so darn easy that there are no excuses to miss a High Day. So I've come up with this "5 Things" bit, and tailored it to solitary Pagans (in general, not just Druids).

My first one was for Samhain, and it was one of those "off the cuff" sort of things that started snowballing this process. (Click the graphics for larger.)

With Yule, I decided to get the graphic out the door a bit earlier, which turned out to be a great idea. I had some difficulty fitting everything I wanted to get onto the graphic and still make it readable, but it worked out in the end:

I have learned that you have to get these sorts of things out well in advance of the High Day. I almost missed that with Imbolc, but I did get the picture out the door:

One of the most interesting things about running a Pagan store is that you have to cater to absolutely everyone: not doing so will send you under pretty quickly. This means that sometimes, stuff I might want to make really Druid-specific gets sort of. . . spread thin on the Druidry and heaped with broader acceptance.

In other words, saying (true) things like, "If a holiday has '-mas' at the end, you're probably celebrating a Christian holiday," is less helpful than saying "sometimes, people call Imbolc Candlemas." In a lot of ways, it's an exercise in getting over yourself to do stuff like this.

In the end, this all works out: it provides information to a much wider audience, and gets more people doing what I'd call "Druid-like stuff." I love that fact.

These sorts of things have been really popular on social media. The prayers I mentioned a few posts ago have also done quite well, based on the same principles.

I started with this High Day making these sorts of graphics for my Grove, as well, which starts to border on doing ADF-branded versions of these, which I've been told I don't have approval to do, but I wish I could do some broader, ADF-specific ones that ADF could then share on their many social media sites. It's not too much work to just create one more, and I'd love to do it. Ah, well: them's the breaks, I guess.

In the end, I do hope to turn the prayers and ritual items (and maybe some of the spell cards. . . though that's a different post) into a full-color book. I think it would be a load of fun.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: "Perfect Partner", -JB

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December 22nd, 2013

12:46 pm - For Yule, I was the Guest Minister at another church. This is what I said:
Today, I was invited to speak as guest minister at a UU church near Cincinnati. I don't write a lot of "sermon-y" things in general, so this stretched me a bit. I really enjoyed the experience, and I enjoyed the final result.

A Birth of New Hope

Children of Earth, the dawn has come and today we have seen the first day that is longer than the day before it. The solstice, yesterday's blessing of light after the dark night, fulfills its promise today, showing that the wheel has turned, and that light has come back.

This is the dawn of the year, the light that begins softly and opens the gates of heaven for the sun. This is a time of hope, of viewing potential in a spark of light, of seeing the painted heavens that bear promise and joy.

Dawn is a curious thing: it is liminal and it is luminous; it is soft and it is sure; it is harmony and it is healing.

Dawn is also a double-edged sword: it is the last of all dawns before it, the oldest of all those you may ever see; but it is also the first of all dawns that will come after it, the youngest and most full of potential of all dawns you may see again.

Though each dawn steals a day from us and shortens our lives, its appearance also grants us a new day, and tells us that we are not yet at our end.

When the dawn has arrived, she is new and young: the bringer of hope and the bright light that guides us. Today, on this day after the Solstice, this is how we should see the dawn of the year, as the beginning of things new, as the beginning of something special. What is old is gone; what is new and promising is all that remains.

The dawning of the Winter solstice is celebrated widely, but even faiths and peoples who do not celebrate the solstice itself recognize this return of hope and joy, and celebrate it now. Some of these many traditions, familiar or not, are well worth noting:

  • Jews celebrate the rededication of the Temple at Hanukkah, when the sacrifices were restored and a new age began.
  • Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a festival of the god Saturn, who is said to have brought both agriculture and letters to the Latin states during the  golden age of prosperity and joy.
  • Romans (I mention them again because if anyone knew how to celebrate things, it was them) also celebrated the birth of the unconquered sun, Sol Invictus, at this time.
  • Christians place the birth of their savior at this time, ushering in a new hope for mankind
  • modern Pagans celebrate the feasts of their ancestors, and the hinge of light and dark, through such ancient customs as decorating trees, singing bright songs, and drinking the night away. I call these things ancient because they are so different from what we do today, of course.
  • Even secular events carry this theme. Consider that Washington crossed the Delaware at this time, leaving behind a dark period of defeatism in the Continental Army, and marking a new day and turning point in morale for American troops in the Revolution
  • about the only new hope that didn't happen at this time of year was the first episode of Star Wars, which happened in May.

There is something in our understanding of this time of year, an acknowledgement of the cycles that we experience, a recognition of the wheel that turns and re-turns through our lives. We, ourselves, are made up of these cycles, and we have an opportunity to change ourselves and be more each year.

This is the great dawn of the year, the time when all things are just a glimmer, and we can choose to draw them out of the darkness and fan them into full flame. Everything is potential, waiting to warm us, and to be warmed by our enthusiasm.

So I call on you, Children of Earth all, to honor the hope and the joy in this new dawn, to seek the bright future we all have before us, and to know that each new day from here forth is a day that is full of this new hope. So be it.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: goodgood
Current Music: "Lone Palm", -JB

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December 9th, 2013

01:34 pm - Crafting Through Ritual: The Work of Our Grove
On Friday, a couple of our Grove members had their baby very, very early (24 weeks). The girl is apparently doing quite well given the premature birth, but there's still a long way to go.

But this post isn't really about her, it's about what our Grove has done ritually to help out.

First, of course, was the Grove healing blanket: this was a quilt put together in a joint project between our healers and artisans and blessed each Imbolc as part of our regular work. It travels from person to person, going where it is needed most, and cleansed between individuals by one of our healers.

Maggie and I had it most recently, as Maggie has been recovering from the birth of our twins, and Leo and Amelia were kind of touch-and-go for a bit as well (though not comparatively speaking). We got the blanket to the hospital (via tanrinia) where it was able to be in the NICU with the new baby crane.

On Saturday, the night after she was born, we had a regularly-scheduled Druid Moon rite, so we made a portion of the working all about this new little girl. Thinking about what we could do before the rite, I came up with the idea of a protective thing for the new baby that we could all charge. But what to do?

I had made these lovely little "Changeling Bane" figures for our house spirits to dwell in while the twins were in the hospital. (full description and picture in a previous entry). I still had that lovely cedar wood left, plus the hand-cut iron nails we'd used for ours, so I cut and rough-sanded another piece and packed it up.

At the Druid Moon, we made our offerings. The omens were good: Fehu, Odila, and Ansuz, and we set to work.

I passed the piece of wood around the circle of nine Druids, asking each to hold the wood in their hand and feel and visualize the shape within the wood. The block itself was originally rather non-descript for cedar: not a lot of color variations, light grain, and only a tiny knot near the bottom. Each person took their time with it, as we sat in silence, letting everyone concentrate. When it came back to me, at the end, I held it and let the shape form in my mind.

On the way home from the rite, I turned to Maggie and said (as I ran my hands over the shape that was forming), "I think this block is going to be a crane." "That's perfect," she said.

So I went home and set about to carving, taking away parts of the wood slowly but surely. I gave this crane a crown, set him in the water, and had him hold onto a stone, which I represented with a hand-cut iron hobnail, much as I had done with the figures for my children. I chose this stance for the Crane in the image because of the story from Pliny:

The finished piece: a crane carved onto cedar
The final form of the
Garanus changeling-bane

"When they rest at night they have sentries who hold a stone in their claw; if a sentry begins to fall asleep the stone falls and wakes him. All the other birds sleep with their head under their wing, except for the leader, who keeps watch." -paraphrased from Pliny the Elder, Natural History X.30

May the Crane watch tirelessly over this little craneling, and keep her safe as she rests.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: "If It All Falls Down", -JB

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October 4th, 2013

09:00 am - My twins have arrived. This is exactly how it feels:
It's hard to describe, but this is pretty damn close: By the Power of Baby: see the comic!Collapse )

Thank the gods that my wife is a social worker.

Welcome to Leo Colin Dangler (5 lbs., 3 oz.) and Amelia Ann Dangler (6 lbs., 5 oz.), born at (12:13 AM) on October 4th, 2013. Brought in by the gods of storms, swaddled in the bright cloak of night, and brightened in their eyes by the light of dawn. The world has gone from chaos to order, and all things are as they should be.

May the dawn whose rays first caress them be the first of many dawns to greet them both.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: Amazed
Current Music: "Lady I Can't Explain", -JB

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September 30th, 2013

03:30 pm - No one is ready for kids, but I have been preparing, anyway
Things I have learned, having a pregnant wife:

1) It is so rarely about you, or your family. Read more...Collapse )

3) Unsolicited advice comes from weirder places. Read more...Collapse )

4) There is an incredibly strong notion that a "perfect family" is one girl child and one boy child, and that having twins that are one of each somehow magically makes your family perfectly complete. Read more...Collapse )

5) I am so unprepared that words fail to describe a single way in which I am unprepared, but I should know that I am unprepared and that I am just going to be unprepared. Also, my life is definitely going to change. Read more...Collapse )

Things I have done to prepare myself:

So, since I am not prepared and cannot be prepared, clearly I have spent my time doing nothing, right? Just because that is the logical thing to do when someone tells you that there is no use in trying, it is not what I have done. In the hopes that someone else may find my unorthodox training methods useful, I wish to outline them in brief:

A) I have memorized Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"

No, really. It was the start of something important, and I have moved on to other favorites of mine, like "Kubla Khan," "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," "The Highwayman," "The Lambton Worm," "Gilgamesh," "The Lady of Shallott," and many more. I need lyrical things to speak to them, and to read to them as well. Language is tricksy, so they should hear well-made nonsense and epic works. Sure, things die in most of those stories, but they gotta learn that life isn't all skittles and beer somewhere, right? check out the recordingsCollapse )

B) I have researched changelings extensively, and put measures against them in place.

I am a firm believer in teaching our children about the unseen allies out there who aid us, but I don't care to paint a purely rosy picture of that unseen world (and certainly the lore is full of perils we can only glimpse from the corners of our eyes). If I ask my children to grow up with a knowledge of that world, I must also take it seriously. So, I have made two little icons for the nursery, each of which will serve as a home for a house spirit, and each of which is armed with iron, just in case someone wants to trade our kids out.

See my Changeling DefensesCollapse )

C) I bought a blue canary nightlight

Problem: the outlet by the lightswitch is behind a dresser.

Solution: Maggie has asked me to re-wire the current switch to put an outlet on the same plate. In progress. She is also looking for a picture of a lighthouse for the opposite wall.

Don't get it? Watch this!Collapse )

D) I have started setting up their college funds.

This is mundane, but I want them to leave their college with as little debt as possible (none, if it can be done in 20 years). Making this a priority is vital, and it will be a priority for me for the next two decades.

E) I have been carrying around a 15 pound weight when not doing anything else.

Babies are tiny, but I figure I should get a head start. After all, even before they weigh 15 lbs, I will bet their squirming makes it seem like they are more. It isn't the weight, it's the flailing, right?

F) I went on a bear hunt. No, really: check out my entry on it!

But if you have been reading, you know that already.

G) I did all that other crap already.

By this I mean I set up the cribs, did all the laundry on all the baby stuff, assembled dressers, packed my bags for the hospital, kept up the dishes and kept my wife fed, painted the nursery and refinished the floors, preregistered our admittance to the hospital, wrote "thank you" cards to (we think) everyone, and got our car seats in. In other words, I got us to the point where we can bring the kids home (I.E., they will let us leave the hospital with them and we can put them somewhere when they arrive).

There: I have done all I can. Now, it's just waiting.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)", -JB

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August 26th, 2013

01:53 pm - I went hunting bears in the dark, and it changed me quite a bit. . .
At Summerland last weekend, I had the privilege of having two friends put me through a rite of passage that was, in many ways, just kinda perfect.

I'd started the weekend on Thursday presenting on the notion of turning a myth into a ritual (though the topic has broadened beyond that as a result of research). To boil that workshop down to something really essential, it is this: anything can be a myth from which we can create ritual that has meaning and utility. I included lore, movies, TV, and even song lyrics in my examples of places we can draw ritual from (and how drawing from modern sources and retellings is nothing to be ashamed of). What I didn't really expect is that I would find myself in the middle of a perfect case study of doing just that later in the weekend.

On Friday night, while most folks were up at the bardic performance night, I was led into the darkness by dandelionlady (with my eyes closed) and left in the middle of the woods with the briefest of instructions: I was to go on a "bear hunt" and informed that I should "follow the shining lights, and you can't get lost." And with a slightly mischievous smile, she disappeared back into the darkness and left me all alone with a candle lantern and nothing else.

I spent a bit of time then discerning how to track the bears I was supposed to hunt. Fortunately, the way was, indeed, not difficult. I could see the first light from where I was left, and made my way to the first spot, where I caught my first bear. I followed the lights from place to place, catching the bears I was set to hunt and meditating a bit on the gifts that each one offered.

I remember very distinctly at one point standing in the middle of the woods at one waypoint and seeking the next one in the darkness. I thought about all the theory I know revolving around rituals and rites of passage and I said to myself, "Wow, this is powerful from both a personal perspective and an academic one." It's a thought I have never had in ritual before, even though I am always analyzing ritual and its performance (including my own). I think the key differences were a certain level of trust (perhaps "faith" is a better word?) in the ritual planners that is hard to come by sometimes for me, along with not having to plan anything except grabbing a set of offerings and being allowed to just "go with the flow" and have it all planned out for me.

The last light was held by a different kind of small bear (Kathleen's daughter, dressed in an amazingly cute bear cloak), who asked me if I was ready to continue, if I wanted to. I did, and I was led down to a fire where she and dandelionlady's daughters (also in amazingly cute bear cloaks) proceeded to honor the Spirits, challenge me with questions, and provide me with omens and gifts. . . all while singing nursery rhymes and children's songs that had been re-formatted to fit the Core Order of Ritual (think "Pop Goes the Well Gate" and you have it).

It was impressive and silly, frightening and comfortable, physically challenging and yet simple to do. It was deeply meaningful and incredibly hilarious. It informed me about the ability of kids of all ages to engage in ritual in significant ways. It also introduced me to the Hugs of Life, and one of dandelionlady's daughters decided to take the idea of "teaching him to be a daddy" introduced that night to amusing lengths. (This ended up with me under a pile of children at lunch the next day: nothing like starting the kinetic programming early, eh?)

In the end, one bear I had been sent to hunt was a bit elusive, and got away. During a conversation with one of the girls after the ritual, I found out that this was the largest bear of all (she also said that that particular bear was just like her mom). I informed her that it was okay, and that sometimes you don't need to catch the bear; instead, the process of chasing the bear is what is really important, and if all you do is get to chase, it can still be quite fulfilling.

The rite was a mythic dramatization of the book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt," and relied on that book as the myth I was set to reenact in the ritual. It described some of the perils and frustrations of parenthood, and imparted upon me a bit of wisdom I hope I remember at the end of the day.

There was a lot of love that went into that ritual, both in planning and execution. It was clear from the very start, and it was really amazing to get to share it with those two people, as well. Their daughters did an amazing job (they were better in ritual than some adults I know, honestly), and having them there to challenge me a bit was a pretty excellent bit of inspiration, as it helped me work through the process quite well. Plus, when people ask why I wasn't at the Bardic that night, I have a great response: "Kathleen and Mel kidnapped me into the woods and made me a father."

I am deeply thankful to my fellow Priests (and their daughters) for putting this together for me.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: touchedtouched
Current Music: "Oldest Surfer On The Beach", -JB

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July 11th, 2013

01:19 pm - Well, That Was Quick: trying to tell people one at a time about things doesn't always work
I guess I don't know what I really expected: to get to be the person who got to tell people the news that was mine to tell? To believe that maybe I'd get to tell people something cool one-on-one when it was quiet and intimate and joyful for me and for them? To maybe (just maybe) not have to pick and choose who got to know what at what time, but to let it flow organically from when I got to see people?

Well, whatever I thought, I know one thing for certain now: it is apparently not actually my news to tell, it seems.

So, without ceremony or care for whether you've heard or not (because if you haven't, I'll bet you're about to hear about it from someone other than me, so I won't get to see you be excited or terrified for me anyway): my wife is pregnant, and we're having twins.

Answers to your questions, plus some annoyances I haveCollapse )Now, about the magic surrounding this. . .Collapse )

So, there you have it.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: "Bama Breeze", -JB

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July 5th, 2013

03:51 pm - How to tell if your drinking companions are Maenads
(This questionnaire could save your life at your next party!)

1) Are there any guys there?
Yes: You can stop now. Not Maenads. Unless the guy's name is Dionysus. In which case: continue on.
No: Maybe not Maenads: continue on.

2) Is anyone wearing deerskin clothing?
Yes: It could just be bad fashion sense, but maybe Maenads.
No: Maybe not Maenads: continue on.

3) Does anyone have what looks like a stick with a pine cone on the end of it?
Yes: Question 3(a): Is it a sextoy party?
     Yes: Okay, maybe not Maenads, and good for you: continue.
     No: Better chance that they're Maenads.
No: Maybe not Maenads, and the chance is decreasing: continue on.

4) Are people having sex with each other without asking about STD's or using prophylatics?
Yes: Could just be a swingers party, but could be Maenads, too.
No: You seem to go to really boring parties. Maybe not Maenads: continue on.

5) Is anyone trying to nurse something not of their species?
Yes: At this point, I'm putting even money on Maenads.
No: Maybe not Maenads, but it's a good test of your social adjustment whether it got weird here, earlier, or if it's about to go off the deep end: continue on.

6) Have your companions torn any children or small animals to shreds?
Yes: Okay, this is more than a bit freaky. Getting warmer on the Maenads (or sociopaths).
No: Maybe not Maenads, and you're not an accessory to crime! Good for you: continue on.

7) If you answered "yes" to question 6: Are people eating the raw flesh of animals they just ripped up?
Yes: Probably a good bet at this point that they're either Maenads or sociopaths, but I suggest you have someone send you an urgent text message so you have an excuse to get out of there either way.
No: Maybe not Maenads: if they were ripping things apart and not eating it, you've totally got sociopaths, at least.

8) Has anyone hit a rock with her dildo-looking-thing and caused the stone to spring milk, wine, and honey?
Yes: Totally Maenads. GTFO.
No: Still maybe not Maenads, but if you've gotten this far and haven't ruled it out, you really need to reconsider what parties you go to!
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "Lawyers, Guns, and Money", -JB

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June 26th, 2013

10:19 pm - Ten Years of LiveJournal
Today marks 10 years of journaling on LiveJournal for me. I've made good friends, seen them float in and out of my life, and archived most of the best things I've ever done on this blog. It's changed dramatically since I first started (and had no idea what to write), and it's been important to a lot of the people (and organizations) that are important to me.

Rather than wax poetic about where the journal has been, I'd really just like to thank the folk who have read it for so long, and to thank those who hung out with me in the beginning as I learned a lot about this whole "online journaling" thing. I still read my friend's page, even though I do it less daily and more weekly (or bi-weekly) these days. I still read everything that gets posted. It's fun, and it's good for me.

LJ was my first introduction to truly public blogging, to being out there and expressing myself. It's where I'll always feel at home online, even as I do more and more things on my various other online presences. You guys made that happen, and I thank you all for it.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: "Kick It In Second Wind", -JB
Tags: , ,

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May 14th, 2013

10:30 am - A really amazing thing about the ADF Dedicant Path
One of the really awesome things about the Dedicant Path stuff, especially the sort of structured journaling that people are doing with it these days, is that people are giving deep thought to some of their practices (or, more specifically, their lack of practice in certain areas) and developing new ideas based on those thoughts.

One of the big things that interests me is how people create connections and develop traditions around the various Spirits out there. It's interesting to see people who want connections to the various Spirits reflect on how they've honored those connections in the past: how they've remembered their Ancestors, experienced the Spirits of Nature, or been in touch with the Deities in their lives. . . and then to see them deepen and develop those things.

I admit, I particularly enjoy reading things like this (paraphrased broadly among several Dedicants I've read):

  • "My family doesn't do much to remember our ancestors. I want to change that tradition."
  • "It is amazing how just one outdoor meditation can connect you to a place and its spirits. I'm going to set up a donation to my local park."
  • "I can't believe I never noticed [insert god or goddess here] in my life before! Holy heck, I feel like I just turned up the volume on my TV and discovered there was sound to go with the moving pictures!"

Okay, that last one is more direct. Hope you'll forgive me, K. :)

But, as it has always been, it's the members of ADF and their work through the Dedicant Path that really inspires me. I love that folk journal, and that they provide those journals to others on the path. I like being on this journey together with them, not so much teaching them how to do it, but learning from them as they learn from what we did when we did it.

Really, it's just awesome.

So thank you, Dedicants of ADF, for being who you are. You're great at this stuff, and don't let anyone else tell ya different.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Current Music: "Mexico", -JB

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