October 31, 2012

Blessed Samhuinn!

J and I did a small Samhuinn ritual tonight. We offered our thanks to the Ancestors, and talked a little about who we would like to be present (if they were amenable, of course!) We also did a small meditation involving the Cailleach, offering to her cauldron anything that no longer serves us. We closed with giving thanks to the Ancestors, to mother Earth, to the four elements, and to the four directions and their aspects.

I felt like it was pretty powerful, though I can't really put my finger on "why". I just felt very in touch with everything/spirit/source/what have you. I felt a great sense of peace, belonging, and that certain unnamed sources "had my back".

We did a 5 card spread divination each, and both J and I received some reassurance. I've had to make some important decisions lately... nothing that would affect my life in a HUGE way, but things that definitely would make my life easier with a positive outcome. I got some positive feedback. I felt that it was positive in reinforcing what I have already accomplished. Sort of like telling me what I was feeling was right, and that I did the right thing. I can always use that!

Can't wait for Saturday's ADF ritual! :D

Here's what my Samhuinn altar looks like! :D

October 24, 2012

My First Book Report.

Oh it feels like I'm in public school again :D Tee hee. Here's the report from my first book on the ADF booklist, Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon.

Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon is a 30-year-old study of what it means, and what it is like, to be a Pagan in today’s North America. It has been updated several times in its 30-year history to incorporate new groups, methodologies, and general mindsets of Pagan people as they have evolved. It encompasses a large variety of different Pagan groups and viewpoints, and provides very fair and unbiased information about them. Witches, Druids, groups that venerate the Egyptian, Norse, and different Goddess Deities, and even some groups that sprung up as a result of Science Fiction are examined at length in this book. Margot Adler does a wonderful job of approaching the discussion of each group with tact, respect, and reverence.
I feel this book is significant due to the large and varied amount of information. I feel like it was a very good primer for anyone considering or practicing Paganism of any sort. Ms. Adler has spent literally 30 years since publishing, and who knows how many before that, treating the research of the heart of Paganism as her personal mission. The fact that she writes much of the book from her own personal experiences with each of these groups means that she must have been very respectful and innocently inquisitive for them to allow her into their “innermost sanctum”. The book has that “sense” to it, and, although it doesn’t leave a question unasked or a potentially questionable ritual unexamined, I feel like she did it from a place of detachment and honour. It seems obvious why this book was chosen for the ADF’s Dedicant Path booklist: ADF is nothing if not inclusive! It opened my eyes to many different viewpoints, and either added to my personal thoughts on them, or introduced me to them entirely. Although personally none of the groups mentioned appealed to me (other than the section on ADF of course), I can see how this book would be a great tool for someone who was starting to form opinions about Paganism in general. Possibly there is a group mentioned that would very much resonate with the reader to which they would not otherwise have been exposed.
There are many ideas expressed in this book that I had been thinking about myself, but didn’t really know there was a name for it. There are a few quotes in particular I would like to discuss.

“After this vision, I regained my true perspective of a Witch, how a Witch looks at life – as a challenge. It is not going to last forever, and it’s all right on the other side, so what are you going to do?” (Adler 2006, pg. 74)

This is a quote from Z Budapest, a Witch after my own heart, which has totally “gone it on her own”.
This quote is, to put it bluntly, my life’s work as of late. I feel as though I am caught between two generations that think completely differently. There’s the younger generation, which is more willing to search for their heart’s desire and not necessarily needing that much security, financial or otherwise. Then there is the older generation, which wants to “have”, which is not okay with anything less than a perfect 9 to 5 job, and denies their own dreams for the good of their family, or to please others. I’m trying hard to trust the Universe, and myself, and to know that I will be supported as long as I go in the direction of my heart. Although I do not identify as a Witch per se, it was nice to see, in print, that this was a struggle through which others have suffered.

I also found this passage rather striking:

“The priestess of Artemis, or Morragu, or Kali is not going to be a simpering idiot or a Kirche-K├╝che-Kinder sort of woman. She is more likely to be a strong, domineering, combative intellectual. If you find that frightening, go ahead, admit it. But don’t accuse her of being “unfeminine” or of trying to castrate every man she meets… “ (Adler 2006, pg. 214)

I’ve had great personal tragedy as a result of the ideas in this quote, which is so elegantly put. Turns out it was all for the better, but it was intensely painful to withstand. Still is. Long story short, I was someone who worked in the male dominated field of civil engineering, Construction administration to be exact. This means that I would be in charge of a construction site as the eyes and ears of the owner. I was labeled a “bitch” for my assertiveness, and was not taken seriously. I felt like I had to work twice as hard to be proven half as good. I feel like I must have been a perceived threat to them for all the fun reasons that our patriarchal society seems to encourage. All I really wanted to do was to be great at my profession. This quote from Isaac Bonewits is an excellent example of the person I was trying to be: assertive, knowledgeable and someone of great personal strength. It’s an important distinction to make. An assertive woman is not a “bitch” any more than an assertive man is, and it is a complete double standard that there continues to be separation. My desire for this to change is very aptly put in this quote from Sharon Devlin:

“What I want to see the end of is the frustration of the male father instinct, which is being diverted into violence, and the end of the frustration of the female lioness instinct, which is being diverted into bitchiness.” (Adler 2006, pg. 153)

I’d like to discuss another quote from Sharon Devlin, discussing her thoughts

on Aleister Crowley’s beliefs:

“So you think you are helpless. You think all this is just happening to you. Well, that’s bullshit! Because you are not just a son or a daughter of God. To be a son or daughter of God means your are equal to God and you have a responsibility to the One to get it together and make your Godhood count for something, because, other than that, you are just another fuckin’ insect. Now that’s what it means. It also means that if we were all doing what we really wanted to do, we would do it in perfect harmony. Why do people kill and rape each other? This is an expression of the denial of love in that person’s life. Now, I have been attacked, but frankly, I believe in my heart of hearts that the one who kills is enduring greater suffering than the one who is killed and that all “evil” is an expression of ignorance, an expression of the frustration of the Law of the One. And the Law of the One, whoever She is, in all Her many forms, is that we give to each other constantly. I am not talking about giving to the negation of self. I’m talking about giving to the glory of the self. If you were what you could be the best and you did what you loved to do with all your might, you would create such light and such power that it would give pizazz to everybody in your immediate area, and even to those distant, perhaps.” (Adler 2006, pg. 144)

It’s a long one, but I felt it was pertinent. This quote reminds me of Marianne Williamson’s famous quote used by Nelson Mandela, however rough around the edges it seems.
            This has been my desire and hope as of late. If I am not meant for what I used to do, I want to find out “what I could be the best”, and how I could “create such light and such power that it would give pizazz to everybody in [my] immediate area…” This sentiment is something I feel our society is lacking, and the more instances I see of it in books or newspapers or wherever, the more I want to scream about its complete, total, and simple truth. If only more of us could live from this place of being so in touch with our Divine Mission that we radiated light wherever we went. I have a perfectly smooth stone with a lighthouse painted on it on my desk to remind me of this idea. Be like the lighthouse.
            I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, not just those who have just started out in Paganism. I feel that regardless of your level of knowledge, this book would probably have something to teach you about some little known sect, or reinforce your beliefs with the discussion of timeless wisdom. Although I felt it to be slightly “Witch” content heavy, they are probably the first group to really become established in North America, and are probably the biggest. All in all, I found this book to be a highly enlightening and informative read!

October 22, 2012

On Divination.

I've long used divination in one form or another. Everything from crystal pendulums, to oracle cards of all sorts, to using myself as a divining rod. I can even dowse for water, and so can my Dad. Family gift?

Where I'm stuck in the moment is how much stock to take in the results of said divination. I know people run the gamut from just doing it for the fun of it, to taking it as literal advice from the Kindreds/Gods/Universe. I've considered that it is possibly just a way for me to figure out what I think by giving myself an "outside opinion" in the form of the cards.

But what does it mean when the cards give you something that doesn't seem applicable? I guess that's kind of a silly question, because I have yet to have this happen. But what if it did? What then?

What does it mean if it gives you the answer you feel couldn't be more wrong? Is it saying that you are, in fact, doing the wrong thing? Or maybe you are just not interpreting the cards correctly?

What does it mean if it says you're doing the right thing? Am I reading that because that's what I want to hear?

Frustrated? A little. I need to come up with an idea on what to do with this and stick to it.

At least until I get a better idea.

October 21, 2012

What Would (the) Druid Do?

I'm considering litigation against my former slave drivers.

I'm also considering the implications.

I'm trying to think about what Gandhi would do. Gandhi would try to right the wrongs of the oppressed, etc. etc., but I'm not oppressed any more. I bowed out of that situation as gracefully as possible. I'm (probably very) traumatized by the fallout of said situation, which is why I'm considering litigation. 

"An-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye ... ends in making everybody blind." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

If I decide to go ahead, you know, if they find I have a strong case (and I have no idea what that would even LOOK like), am I taking an eye? It wouldn't be from the offenders, it would be from people who had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. Is it right for me, regardless of how deserving I am, to take from them? That doesn't sound like ahimsa to me...

But what about the pain I'm going through? Who's going to pay to help me with that?

What about karma? Is it better karma for me to forgive them their wrongdoing, and pray that they find a less destructive way of being in the world? Or is it better karma for me to hold them to the fire and make them pay for their wrongdoing? But they won't really be paying... will they? Will this even trickle down to them and get them in some sort of trouble? Anger management? I don't know. 

Should I be worried about ahimsa as concerns me, or concerning them? Which is more important?

Fuck ahimsa?

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Ahh. The Sweet Smell of Rejection.

Awhile ago, I put my absolute heart and soul into the exercise required to complete the Bardic Grade. I won't get into what it was about because of the First Rule of OBOD (Don't Talk About OBOD). But I can say I worked really, really, really freaking hard on it.

Annnnddd I got rejected. And so I revised, fixing the glaring mistakes I had made (helps if you read the instructions). Annnnddd I got rejected again.

This felt extraordinarily harsh. I kind of got the (mistaken) impression on the first draft that if I made the changes, you know, followed the right instructions in the first place, it wouldn't be a problem.


I took this pretty personally. I realize this is my internal stuff talking, but... the way the news was given to me felt like it was bordering on uncaring. Regardless of the intention, that dog don't hunt.

I'm glad I now have an action plan, and now know what's expected of me. From my perspective, I think it's a little unrealistic of them to put out the course, give you no real idea of what's expected to complete it, tell you to do the work (or not!) with your own discretion and in your own way, and then not like the results. I totally understand why they've done it that way. Totally. And it's not criticism (at least not meant to be harsh criticism). I just don't feel like their expectations were made very clear. My engineering brain really had no idea what the hell to do with it. My Christian brain wasn't really ready to let go of some things either, even though they explicitly state that it isn't necessary. I guess for me, it was. "Ritual" is a very bad word where I come from.

I've admittedly had a rough few years, and my 100% best effort might have been someone else's 10%. But I did really work hard on it, and my "10%" was incredibly transformative.

I guess I need to find recognition from some other source. Maybe... *GASP* MYSELF?

Oh well. Long story short, I'm starting all over. Right from scratch. Now that I know what the rules are, and I know I'm going to be 100% comfortable with the subject matter in the first place, I'm cool with that. It's hard not to be bitter about having to start over, but I'm actually retaining a lot more this second go around. This time, I have clearer ideas of what to expect, and what is expected. I can go through it without all the clutter of my own personal stuff (or at least, without a lot of it), and know that Paganism IS for me. The ADF Dedicant Path helps enrich it as well, as I'm sure re-reading the Bardic course will enrich the Dedicant Path.

I am going to be like the most experienced Bard EVER.

October 19, 2012

A Thought for Samhain...

I posted this a bazillion years ago on my old blog. September 12, 2006. Just thought with Samhain coming up, it would be nice to re-post.

This is highly significant for me, looking back. As strange as it might sound, Jaz left a legacy of handling great adversity with grace and good humour that continues to impact my life. I am now "insulin dependent" (I HATE the "D" word), and I went through absolute and utter hell coming to terms with it. It's not a whole bunch easier now, but life goes on. One thing that keeps me going is knowing how great her life was despite all those painful needles, and how she never seemed to let it get the best of her. Even after she lost her vision, she was still happy-go-lucky Spazzy Jaz. Funny to think of an animal as a role model, but honestly, I can't think of a better one.

When I think of my ancestors, I think of her.

In Remembrance of my Best Friend

As I sat at coffee today with my coworkers, we came onto the subject of "Pet Insurance", and what we would do if our pets got really sick. One was talking about his son's cat that has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, another about what happened when her dog was diagnosed with severe allergies. Another mentioned a friend whose dog had become diabetic, and consequently, blind. They marvelled, and laughed rather loudly, that this "moron" could put any money or care into an animal that was going to be sick forever. I almost cried.

I couldn't help but think about how much she meant to me. Still does. Always will. And how much I would have missed out on had she not been there. Jazmyn was almost six years old when she was diagnosed. The vet said that we would be lucky to see another two good years from her, because diabetic dogs are extremely hard to care for properly. There just isn't proper treatment for it. I like to believe that the reason she lived well past her tenth birthday is that we loved her so much. I can't imagine not having had her around. The intense care and attention Jazy needed during her last five years could be difficult at times, and sometimes was nothing but a nuisance. But I cannot imagine deciding that half of her otherwise healthy life was less important than my five minutes, twice a day, to give her a needle. She was my best friend.

One of the times I've most felt wronged by God is the day she died. Which probably sounds ridiculous and petty to most people, to feel so strongly about an animal. I don't care. Two weeks before Christmas, and a few days before I was laid off, my parents both showed up in my driveway, and I thought they had finally taken my suggestion to "pop over sometime!" Not so... and as soon as they came in the door I knew what had happened. They had taken Jazy to the vet earlier in the day, as she had been having what we thought was a problem with hip dysplasia. It isn't uncommon for dogs of the "spitz" variety, so, it made sense. Strange to say, but we weren't that lucky. Jaz was full of cancerous tumours from one end to the other. They had her put to sleep at the vet's that hour.

My Mom said it wasn't that bad. She said that when she was asked if she would like to give her a treat, she replied that she would, and grabbed the whole jar from the vet's hand and fed each and every one to her. She was even sweet enough to have grabbed the jar of cat treats; something Jaz had picked up from my cat. Jazy must have thought she had won the lottery, as she was rarely allowed a treat. Any extra carbohydrates in her diet would screw up her insulin dosage.

I sat in the middle of my kitchen floor, hugging my knees and shaking hard as I sobbed, and completely succumbed to my own sorrow. Most people wouldn't consider me a religious person, but I am, in my own way. I had asked God, ever so nicely, if he could just let me have this one last Christmas to wrap her up some sort of chewy toy and put it under the tree. Instead, I sat in the basement of my parents' house on Christmas Day, waiting for my Dad to get home, and listened to the painful sound of silence. No pitter pat of little paws on the floor above me. I've never in a dogless house before. That was the single strangest experience of my entire life. The quiet was deafening.

While looking through my Dad's closet for some PJs to steal one day while they were in Florida, I found a perfectly cubic blue cardboard box, placed unceremoniously at the top of his closet. Curiosity got the best of me, as my birthday was soon approaching. I figured it must be for me. I opened the box and unwrapped it carefully, only to find an urn containing the cremated remains of my Jaz. I broke down.

You can't say that you've loved someone until you give your whole heart to them. I loved my sweet fuzzy Jazy with my entire being. As I have loved Mandy and Parzlee before her, and Bosco now. They are so precious to me. They rely on you completely, trusting you completely. And they love you to the ends of the earth for the simple things you do to take care of them. If only we could give of our hearts so freely.

I don't know too much, but I do know one thing. If wanting to preserve the happy life of one furry little being makes me a moron, I'll gladly take that title.

A New Beginning for an Old Idea.

So we meet again, internet.

I used to be really into blogging before Google acquired Blogger.

Don't remember a time when Google didn't own Blogger?

That's because I'M OLD!

Anywho, I decided to start this blog as a halfway point between journalling and typing out notes/thoughts/miscellanea into some formless Word document. I believe there's great value in actually handwriting a journal, but I also type about a billion times faster than I actually write (and at least that many times more legibly as well). So, here goes.

My purpose for this blog is to explore my newfound spirituality/religion/whatever called "Druidry". By newfound, I mean like, three years ago. But believe me when I tell you that it is no easy task to convert from a seemingly opposed viewpoint (AKA Christianity). I've had times over the past three years where the task was simply too great, and the very best I could do to improve myself in this way was to do nothing at all. I feel now that I am on the cusp of a big transformation, and, for the first time in a very long time, I feel I have the wherewithal to muddle through it. Hence, the blogging! Hopefully I will be able to share my ideas in a coherent manner (always good to be coherent, y'know), and this will serve for me as a place to see where I am, as well as where I've been.

So. A short introduction. For the purpose of all things Druidic, my name is Tara Loughborough. I get the Tara from the place I stood in Ireland and marvelled at the beauty and rich history of that land, and felt, though I am Canadian, that I had come home for the first time in my entire life. I get the Loughborough from the place I did a lot of growing up. My name is an amalgamation of the two "births" I've had in my life. One literally, and one spiritually. Also, it just sounds pretty.

As far as my Druidic path goes, I consider myself to be of the Celtic/Vedic persuasion. I am a member of both the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and Ar nDraioct Fein (ADF), and both for very different reasons. OBOD served as a launching pad for me as its material is very complete for the initiate. OBOD tends to like their secrecy though, and I respect and understand that desire, but I felt it was holding me back a little. So I stumbled upon ADF. Where OBOD states that "The first rule of OBOD is: you don't talk about OBOD", ADF is more of the mindset that, you know, "Come on in! Be a druid with us! Want some cider?" and is far more inclusive in its beliefs. OBOD is mainly Celtic, though it doesn't dissuade anyone from having other leanings, whereas ADF is more of a giant Indo-European buffet of belief systems. I was holding back on joining ADF, because, well, isn't one Druid group enough? Then I met a lovely person by the name of Grey Catsidhe that convinced me for certain. OBOD unfortunately doesn't have much of a presence in my area, and ADF definitely does. Sold. They both have their pros and cons, but so far, the combo has been particularly useful for me.

I've recently added Vedic culture studies into the mix as well as Celtic. (Hence the strange blog name... Namaste Om Shamrock? Get it? Maybe that's just my own brand of nerd humour... :P) Turns out, all these stories and teachings I love from the yoga world actually have a place in ADF. Who knew? I was pretty happy to learn that I could integrate them into my Druidry. Not that before I thought... I couldn't... really. It just never occured to me. Strange how sometimes you need permission from someone else to allow something that feels so natural to you...

Currently I am working on the Bardic Grade with OBOD, and the Dedicant Path with ADF. I pretty much lately have been completely focused on all things Druidic, and the more I learn, the more I love it. It feels like a homecoming. Nothing about Christianity to me ever felt familiar. I most certainly understand that it is a completely valid path for some... just... not for me. I'm trying to find answers as to how I am going to live this new life with a spirituality rooted in the earth, instead of one rooted in a church. It's been difficult to navigate, as my family is very much Christian, and... I don't really imagine them reacting well to my conversion. So I'm trying to decide whether this is something I share to be honest and open with them and myself (most importantly), whatever the consequences, or whether it is something sacred that is just for me. We'll see. Stay tuned.

If you've got this far, thanks for reading! :) I promise my next posts will be much shorter! :) LOL