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An Introduction

Welcome to the crow’s circle.

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Call me Ròcas Cearcall. My understanding is that it means “crow circle” in Scotch Gaelic. It took a long time for me to find my pagan path, although looking back, I feel like it has always been a part of me. I began studying wicca after it came up in conversation, just a passing mention, but I felt drawn to it. I devour every book that I can find in order to make up for my relative lack of inexperience.

During those first few weeks of exploration, I found druidry. In my limited experience, it seems to compliment Wicca very well, creating a well-rounded nature spiritual existence full of magic, meditation, and an appreciation for the cycles of nature. That reinforces my love of the Goddess and God and deepens my understanding of the ever-turning wheel.

I am a candidate within the Ancient Order of Druids in America as well as the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. Here, on this blog, I will record my journey. Those notes will be to myself, a record of where I have been as I continue to develop as a wiccan, a druid, and a magician.

This blog, ultimately, is for me. But should it help you in any way, then I am happy to hear it. Merry we meet. Merry we part. Merry we meet again.

Blessed be.

 

A Meditation on Fire and Spirituality

John Michael Greer, the head of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn (this meditation is a part of the Ovate grade of that system) refers to fire as the first element. He is speaking of spiritual/elemental fire, but also of its physical analogue.

After all, it is fire in the shape of the sun that allows for life on our planet. Our relative position to the sun allows for the natural water/air cycles that allow for life. The sun fuels the photosynthesis that allows for the symbiotic relationship between plant and animals, which feeds and filters the air around us. When we consume plants and animals, we are fueled by calories, which is essentially a measure of how long it takes a food to burn.

This solar fire is oddly invisible. We don’t usually think of it when we think of fire. We think of flame. We think of the hearth. We think of the forest fires tearing through California at this moment. We rarely stop to think of how that fire is just a manifestation of the elemental fire contained within every object. Do we burn the pile of wood sitting on our hearth? Or do we simply release that potential for fire that it contained all along?

Fire is a creator and it is a destroyer, and with that dual power is contained its most important ability. Fire is a tool of change and transformation. I live on the prairie, and fire has always been an important part of our ecosystem. Early native Americans understood that burning stretches of the prairie fertilized the soil and allowed for fresh, green life, which lured the buffalo. To this day, entire microsystems are contained within water-filled wallows left by the nearly extinct icon of the Great Plains.

Natural fire cycles are important to forests, and we have found that not allowing the normal burn cycle, often ignited by lightning, leads to larger, more devastating fires later, fueled by dead undergrowth that would have normally been consumed. Fire consumes the dead weight, allowing for the surviving life to thrive.

Spiritually, elemental fire relates to our progression as witches, druids, or plain old humans. We know this instinctively, which is why fire plays such an important part of our rituals and worship. We light a candle in honor of our gods and ancestors. We burn offerings and incense, that the smoke might transcend the physical.

My father, a firefighter, used to talk to me about the fire triangle, a law of fire science. Every fire requires fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source. This holds true within my spiritual journey. It require fuel, the books and websites that support my knowledge base. I’ve read so many, and yet, like the fire, I cannot consume enough. As long as their is another book or another thing to learn, I find it. The oxygen is my relationship with the gods, the tingle on my skin as the energy courses through me, either in ritual or in proximity with the natural elements. The ignition source? Well, that is a strange matter of its own.

I still remember the day that I decided to pursue Wicca, and I still don’t know why I was possessed by such an overwhelming drive to learn. Why, when Wicca came up, just a term in passing, did I feel an insatiable drive to learn. Why, when I walked in nature for the first time, awake to its influence, did the crow find me and lead me along the right path. Why did all of that happen right before a full moon, just a couple of days after Beltane, when the energies were so thick in the air that I sweat and shook under their effect?

I don’t know the answer to that. Perhaps the gods do. While I wish I had found them earlier in my life, a part of me thinks I found them as soon as I was able. Perhaps in my next life, I will find them sooner, wiser for having lived this incarnation, sometime after I have been transformed by the fire through cremation. I will return to ash, to the ground, where I will fuel new life. Life. Death. Rebirth. That is the true realm of fire.

The sun descends as solar rays, which are captured by the trees outside my home. Their dead limbs become fuel for my ritual fire. The ashes from my fire are composted and become food for my herb garden, which in turns serves my in magic and in healing. Those remains return once again to the earth, and the cycle continues.

Fire is inspiration, and the harnessing of its power has been the defining accomplishment of humanity. And so, the hearth has its gods, a place of transformation and socialization, the place that reminds us of the human potential.

The fire created by my spiritual journey still has a long burn ahead of it. Like the forest, it consumes the dead undergrowth that once buried me, choking the life from me. I am transformed in the flames. I’m still not sure what the fire will leave behind. I suppose I will have to trust in the gods that sparked the flame in the first place.

An Air Meditation

As I breathe in the still air, I realize that it is not, in fact, still. Sandalwood incense smoke rolls and curls, bending its path with the imperceptible shifts within the room’s air flow. I breathe in. I breathe out. I’m conscious of my breath, just as I am conscious of the air around me. This is not normally the case. Most of the time, thankfully, I breathe without noticing, and air seems, at times, to be boundless and forgotten.

Yet, air is frightfully rare. It is entirely possible that Earth is the sole refuge for our concept of air, for while there are gases and storms on many planets, as far as we know, they lack the life-giving elemental air that is the subject of this druid discourse.

When we speak of the unifying divinity of nature and our place within it, air may be the element that creates that unity. The atmosphere creates rain, which falls and fuels the growth of plants. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. We breathe in that oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. That rain supports the earth. The earth supports the water, allowing it to form and take shape. The water supports the air. Without the air, fire is impossible. The elements strike an important natural balance that makes life possible. We can be a part of that balance or we can break it.

The atmosphere allows us a sort of divination, warning us of incoming weather, allowing us, through observation to prepare for those days when the air refuses to be ignored any longer, for the storms when is declares its presence and we feel its wrath. All elements have a dark side, and it is important for us to understand them, for we cannot reject these dark sides without rejecting our own. To reject our own, is to live in ignorance. Magicians must always find the balance between the light and the darkness.

Meditations like this are an important part of being in balance with the elements. We breath, thoughtlessly, thankfully, or we would likely not to survive. We do so many things thoughtlessly. Druidry and witchcraft bring thought to the thoughtless, awareness to the unaware. Through our communion with nature, we come to appreciate and understand the way that it influences our lives and how lost we are without it.

Like the flame requires the earth and the air, without the support of nature, humans feel restless and lost. We are found through meditation and through magic.

My eyes are open, and this meditation is finished.

Meditation on a Small Rock

As part of my Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn training, I selected a small rock from the park where I take my morning nature walks. I chose a piece of a larger stone that was breaking apart along a sloped path. The rain had cracked and worn the soft sandstone and it was falling to pieces long before I got there.

The rocks in this area, particularly those of a certain composition, were created by a constant cycle of sedimentation and erosion, all the way back to millions of years ago when most of Kansas was under under an interior sea. The flooding, caused by the melting of polar ice, coupled with the receding of that water back in to the ocean created miraculous, layered rock structures, leaving fossilized sea creatures high in the hills.

There is no way of knowing the origin of my tiny rock. It may once have been the dust of millions of dead and deteriorated sea creatures that once lined the bottom of an ocean. It may have traveled long distances on a molecular level, pushed by the cycles of hard rain and drought that plague Kansas.

No matter its origin, it ended up at my feet, on the verge of being carved to pieces by the water and washed away, down in to the storm sewers and in to the Kansas river, carried from one waterway to another, all of the way to the ocean, completing it’s journey from the sea to the sea.

It struck me that I am like the rock, a product of my place and time, shaped by the elements, created from the dust of many lifetimes and shaped by the world around me. I do not know where I will end up in this lifetime, only that I will continue to be shaped, my form affected by a number of influences, changing form until I reach my final destination.

My life has changed shapes many times over the years, due to a variety of influences. Still, all of those shapes are me, just as the rock changes shape, but is still the rock. Magic shapes me. Natures shapes me. The gods shape me. And though my movement may seem slow or even non-existent, there is always progress, whether I perceive it or not.

Elemental Connection to Get You Through the Day

Despite practicing nature-based religions and spirituality, many of us work in sterile office environments, insulated from nature. If you are like me, this can lead to a feeling of isolation and disconnection. It makes me anxious, and I don’t always have the option of heading outside for a quick walk. Here is a quick meditative connection exercise that I often use to reconnect. It can be done in only a few seconds when needed once you learn to open the paths.

Close your eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath. Imagine roots growing down in to the earth from the soles of your feet. No matter what floor your office is on, imagine those roots descending through the walls like vines, worming down through the foundation and in to the earth. Even if you are in an aircraft, these are spiritual roots. They don’t know physical limitations. Feel those roots growing deep in to the earth beneath you, it’s energy steaming up those roots in to you. Draw another breath and visualize the air you breath as a yellow mist, symbolic of the elemental energy of air. Breathe out the stale, negative energy, visualized as a black mist. As you continue this breathing feel the humidity in the air around you and visualize drawing blue mist energy from the water in their air. All your skin to draw upon that moisture and to feel the inherent radiation of the sun’s energy around you, even in the electrical currents that surround you. Feel the red fire elemental energy radiating upon your skin. Take all of this in for as long as you want, connecting your spirit to all of the elements, so matter how far away they previously seemed.

Thank your gods or the natural elements, depending upon your beliefs, for reminding you that their presence can be found in any place at any time, if only we seek them.

Open your eyes, keeping that connection with you and feeling that energy for as long as you need it.

Feel free to use a token, talisman, or stone of your choice if it helps. I carry a small pentacle worry stone in my pocket that I use for these purposes.

Meditation on a Spider Web

This morning, when practicing nature stillness, I noticed a spiderweb that I then used for my focal meditation. The web sat high, strung between the limbs of two separate trees. In the middle was an elaborate, circular pattern where the spider rested. I could only see the web from certain angles in the morning light, thanks to a light touch of morning dew that made it shimmer like crystals.

Insects buzzed around my head as I thought about the way that the web kept the insects in check, as the spider played its part in the natural harmony of nature.

The web served many purposes. It was a trap, and therefore a source of food. The insects who fly in to that trap become a part of the web itself, stored in small bundles for the spider’s nourishment. But the web was more than a source of food. It was the spider’s home, a resting place in the summer sun. The spider is aware of all vibrations along every strand of the web. It knows its importance, but also its impermanence.

The web is strong enough to hold dew drops the size of the spider, yet fragile enough that I walk through at least a couple of these invisible traps each morning, feeling sorry that I have destroyed the product of the spider’s work. And what a feat of work it must be. To string such a web between the tallest limbs of two trees, the spider must have floated in the evening wind, climbing through limb and leaf–a high-wire act to be appreciated.

But a web is more than a home and a trap, it is a thing of aesthetic beauty, intricately spiraling towards a center. Though it appears circular, I know that the individual strands are straight lines, arranged in such tight, precise segments to produce the illusion of circularity. Like the veins of a leaf, the a spiders web seems to invoke a sense of sacred geometry, as if humanity could learn from its small angles and its focus and precision.

Perhaps that was the lesson of his meditation, to always be aware of the aesthetic properties of the smallest things, whether it be your home or work, and like the spider, to be aware of the vibrations around you, and the opportunities that they present.

Focused Meditation on a Leaf

“The leaf’s ribs stretched from its narrow spine, spreading through it’s flesh towards its feathery edge.”

As part of my druidry practice with the Ancient Order of Druids in America, we are encouraged to spend time every day in focused meditation upon a small section of nature. On my morning walk, I noticed a particular tree, tall and narrow, in my sacred clearing.

The sun hit the tree in such a way that the leaves seemed to glow. I focused on a particular leaf for my focus work.

The leaf’s ribs stretched from its narrow spine, spreading through it’s flesh towards its feathery edge. I say ribs and spine, because the leaf struck me as almost human. The glow of the sun reminded me of shining a bright flashlight through my hand as a child, watching my blood glow around the campfire.

The ribs were almost symmetrical at first glance, creating triangular shapes within each other. As I focused closer, I noticed that there were smaller veins running from the main spine, barely visible. Unlike the main decorations, these veins were not symmetrical. They were nothing close to uniform. They split and dove and turned in to each other like wrinkles upon a palm, like the small lines on your hand in the mount of Venus in palmistry. They broke the leaf up in to a mosaic of stained glass as the sun exposes the uneven pigment within the leafs skin, patches of light and dark green that faded into each other like staring at a light through tissue paper.

The leaf and its stem had small hairs, almost invisible except for the glare of the sunlight upon them. Turning my focus smaller, I could see tiny pores in the leafs surface, an arrangement of small dots that seemed to breathe in the breeze.

At that moment, I became aware of the leafs place within the cycles of life and death, from the exchange of oxygen, to the small black holes where insects had dined. The leaf would someday fall and another would take it’s place as it was reborn the next spring.

As I tuned to the leaf’s energy, I realized that we are the leaf. The leaf is us. Living. Breathing. Someday Dying. Doing the best we can in the process.

The Crow’s Calling

“Dead trees leaned like fingers in the palm of a hand as running creeks carved the clearing in to a small island.”

I’ve always been interested in Wicca, but have been held back by my conservative Christian background. I have nothing against that upbringing, but it has kept me from finding my path sooner.

This year, after Wicca came up in a casual conversation, I started reading books, beginning with Scott Cunningham’s Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner. Everything felt so comfortable. My existing beliefs and intuitions seemed to align with the Wiccan religion. I started taking walks in the woods and standing beneath the setting sun and the rising moon. I read more books.

One morning, walking through the woods, saying prayers and chants that I had learned, I reached a branching path. A crow sat in a tree above me, kawing. I recognized its spiritual significance and greeted it. The crow flew down one of the paths and lighted on a new tree. I decided to follow.

It’s new perch was long dead, but thorns and ivy and various other plants grew upon it. It was beautiful, a full symbol of life, death, and rebirth to a new purpose. I thanked the crow, and it flew further down the path before veering off to the side.

I followed again and found that it had lead me to a small, hidden clearing. Dead trees leaned like fingers in the palm of a hand as running creeks carved the clearing in to a small island. A stone fire ring, unused, sat in the center. I worked my way down the bank to the clearing.

I stood next to the fire circle and looked up at the crow, who still kawed above me. Inspired, I cast a circle, the best I knew how, inviting the Goddess and God to teach me and thanking the crow for leading me there. I could feel the energy of nature pulsing around me, like static on my skin. I released the circle and thanked the gods for their attendance. The crow then flew off. By that time, I was starving and sweating profusely.

I don’t know if the crow was a manifestation of a god or goddess, or if it was just a messenger. I do know that it affirmed my desire to keep following the crow, and fueled my need to learn the mysteries of witchcraft and of the gods.

Upon returning home, I performed my first altar ritual with butter knives, birthday candles, and anything else I could find.

There, my path began.

Ròcas Cearcall