Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ADF Prayer Beads

I found myself with a bit of time alone this afternoon, and felt in the mood to do something for the Gods.  I haven't been struck in that way for awhile (not to mention that I have precious little time to myself lately!), and so I came up empty when searching for a ritual I knew well and could perform easily.  Of course, my musings got away with me as they usually do, and I found myself thinking about making a set of prayer beads.  I'd seen some neat ones around, and I recently found a post by Ozark Pagan Mama describing how she made her beads compatible with ADF ritual.

And so I attempted to put my own spin on this recently-popular concept.  I put a 'visual-aid' sort of key at the bottom of this post in case anyone has trouble envisioning which prayers go where.I wanted my beads to be not only a prayer and devotion set, but also a helpful aid to remembering ADF's Core Order of Ritual.  Much of the ritual is borrowed and modified from one found in the Dedicant's Manual of ADF Druidry; some poetry comes from the Celtic Prayer Book.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dedicating to the Earth Mother

My local shop recently had a big sale, and I just had to pick up this lovely statue that I feel represents the Earth Mother of my pantheon so incredibly.  It's there in the top left, a resin and bronze mix that was relatively inexpensive but looks so amazing.

And so today was the dedication - I offered Her nine incense sticks scented with cedarwood (as the trees are her most beloved creation), and a small and simple chant asking Her favor.  In my pantheon, the Earth Mother is a bit of a distant figure; she cares most for the plants, which are unable to run or fight to defend themselves.  As a gardener and a life-long lover of trees, I feel Her interests are very close to mine, and am happy to be able to honor Her in this way.

In other news, my altar was recently featured on the website ShrineBeautiful.com, along with a little summary of my current practice.  There's all sorts of altars currently displayed, and the website is still accepting submissions if you're interested in showing off your own!  Either way, you should certainly visit - it's a wonderful website that displays the diversity of the Pagan community in a fantastic way.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Altar Tools: Making the Bell Branch

 I love crafting!  Honestly, I'm not the most artistic person in the world, and I'll probably never make something as nice-looking as what you'd find in a store; but I find that I love the homemade touch and the connection with a tool that crafting it gives.  Celtic myth tells of a silver apple branch hung with bells that was the tool of a Druid.  This isn't necessarily historically accurate information, and as such it's not a commonly used tool in ADF Druidry, but its history and symbolism is so rich within revival Druidry (Yeats even wrote a poem about it) that I really wanted to have one myself.

This project was easy and straightforward, exactly the kind I like!  I used nine bells bought from the local metaphysical supplier, three colors of embroidery thread (I had it lying around) and a beautiful strong branch of unknown wood that I picked up in the park last year and has been drying in my garage ever since, just waiting for a project like this.

First, I had to prepare the branch.  As I said, it had been drying in my garage for nearly a year, and so it was relatively easy to strip it of its bark with my pocket knife.  After it was as clean as I wanted it to be, I took a piece of very high grit sandpaper and sanded it for a good half-hour.  With that kind of sanding, it was mostly a beautiful pale white color, and extremely silky - the kind of feel wood takes on after a nice polishing.

I then strung three bells on each of the three lengths of thread, tying them in place.  I placed a bunch of three near the top of the branch, and the other six I tried to space evenly along the rest.  I then wound the threads around the wand, tying it carefully at each end.  For extra insurance to make sure the strings didn't slip, I placed a dab of wood glue at each knot.

And that was it!  All together, including the carving and sanding of the branch, it took about two hours - hardly a major time investment!  The bells are beautiful; but unfortunately don't give much of a sound except where the three are bunched together at the top.  If I ever make another, I think I'll choose the more traditional kind of round jingle bells; they would probably give a better sound.  Still, I really love this branch, and I hope it will make a great and atmospheric addition to my future Druid rituals.