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Carrying the Forest within

I am an animist, polytheist pagan on the Druidry path.

I need to be surrounded by trees to feel alive and energised.

Too bad I live in the outskirts of Lisbon and work in Lisbon city itself. It drains me out and sometimes it is very hard for me to have any energy at all.

The concrete and cement, all the buildings and cars and pollution, and even the huge amount of people around drain me so very much, unlike what happens in rural spaces.

Perhaps this is due to my need of closeness with Nature, or my need for personal space (please don’t get me started on public transportation during rush hour).

However, today something was different. I am still living in the outskirts of Lisbon, in a very urban area. But, today, I somehow felt the connection to the land and its spirits, I felt the connection to the few trees in the sidewalk. I felt like they were saying “I know how you feel”.

About a week after my experience with Danu, I started praying daily (usually twice a day) to my Ancestors (of blood and of spirit), to the Spirits of the Land, to the Deities I follow (Cernunnos, Danu and The Morrígan).

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This connection might be due to my recent daily practice. If it is, I hope it continues.

But what I am taking from all this?

I am learning to be mindful of the Land Spirits around, even in urban grounds. I am starting to feel the Spirits of the Land in a place I never had before (cities).

My spiritual practice is gaining a greater importance in my life and I am enjoying it very much. I am learning and improving through baby steps and I am ok with this. Good things take time and require resilience, practice and time.

OBOD has this wonderful exercise where you visualise yourself in a grove. Mine is always deep within a forest. It seems I am finally learning to carry the forest within me.

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On the Druid path

As you might already know, I am following the Druid path.

I enrolled for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) back in 2015 and I went through crazy times (family health issues, as well as professional ones) which caused me to place the course on standby. Things are still rather intense and insane, but I have made my peace with it; after all, there is no rest for the wicked.

Recently I have decided I needed to do this for myself, so I went back to very beginning and started with the Introductory Gwersi. It was the best I could have done, really. It restored some of my peace of mind and that is grand.

Recently I also enrolled in Ár nDraíocht Féin (A Druid Fellowship, ADF), as I feel its teachings complement OBOD’s rather nicely. I am not starting the Dedicant Path just yet, as I wish to start by getting acquainted with the website, all the information in it, the resources, and then I will start the course more actively.

I have also changed my altar. Now only 2 Deities are present, Cernunnos and The Morrígan, with candles (green for Cernunnos and red for The Morrígan). There is also a white candle for focusing.

My altar to my Deities
My altar to my Deities

I still need to acquire material. An altar cloth, and I have my eye on a statue for The Morrígan and one for Cernunnos (expensive items so, for now, I will be saving for them).

I also have an altar for my Ancestors (it has some photos from closer family members, candles and plants) but I still want to add more items. One of the items I wish to add, for example, is my genealogical tree, although I don’t know all my lineage from both sides of the family. I foresee it will be a challenging work.

So this is where I am, now. Working on advancing on my path. If all goes according to plan (even if it never happens in such a way), by Alban Arthan 2018 or Imbolc 2019 I will have my Bardic Grade completed.

Wish me strength and perseverance.

Thank you for being there.

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Back to Góis

I return every year. If possible, more than once a year.

To be honest, I would live here if I could. Lets face it, I was born in Lisbon (Portugal’s capital), but it is the countryside that speaks to me. It is in the countryside by the forest that I feel free, that I feel best the connection with the Spirits of Nature, with the Spirits of the Land.

So, everytime I return here I feel like I have returned home, at last.

This time around, though, I feel sorrow and pain, and I feel like crying.

Everywhere you look, you see the aftermath of the man-made wildfires, some for profit and others because people are unable to foresee the consequences of their actions.

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On the other hand, I found out that a wonderful, natural grove was destroyed to open a passage for hunters’ vehicles.

It hurts. I feel the Spirits of the Land are hurting and upset. And I cannot help but feel the same. 

What is worse, I don’t know how I can help to improve the situation when, throughout Portugal, judges set recidivist arsonists free. 

Or when the Government (like its predecessors) caves under the pressure of paper industry (such as Navigator) and, instead of promoting the reforestation with native trees such as oak, holm oak, cork oak, alder, chestnust and cherry trees, ash, laurel, olive, pine, and sycamore trees, they keep promoting the plantation of eucalyptus (already called “the green oil” by the paper industry tycoons).

And I feel powerless when Góis Municipality allows the destruction of green spaces to turn them into roads for hunting grounds.

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I am sad. I am upset. I don’t know how to improve the wildlife conditions in my country.

I pray to Cernunnos for guidance, because I am certainly not wise enough to see the amount of destruction that has been caused to our forests and come up with an appropriate solution for the dire times we’ve been going through.

Photographs taken by this blog’s author/admin.

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Samhain

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Samhain, o tempo sem tempo
O véu entre os mundos, como nevoeiro, se desvanece
Chegam Ancestrais, Deuses e Espíritos da Natureza
Caminham entre nós desde a hora em que anoitece.

Celebram connosco a viragem do ano
É tempo de nos despedirmos das últimas colheitas
Honramos Deuses e Aqueles que nos antecederam
Aspirando a um futuro de vidas perfeitas.

Renovamos os nossos compromissos espirituais
Consolidamos relações com os mundos
Traçamos os nossos passos por caminhos não habituais
Nossas crenças e conhecimentos cada dia mais profundos.

A roda do ano retornou ao Samhain
Aos nossos olhos abrem-se outras realidades
O nevoeiro dissipou-se, vislumbra-se o caminho, por fim
No limiar dos mundos, encontramos as nossas verdades.

 

Published in Ophiusa nr 4

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Winter Solstice/Yule and Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

I see this as a season for letting go of the past, and to looking forward to a new cycle.

A season for introspection, for releasing the old, and embracing the new. If this was a tarot card, it’d be the death card. 😉

A season to be spend with my loved ones, the ones that have been on my side through thick and thin, and love me unconditionally.

I have already said my goodbyes to past cycles I needed to close, I learnt from the experiences I lived, and I am looking forward to new experiences (I would prefer them to be pleasant ones, please).

I spent time with my Family, helped Mom with the preparation of our traditional foods.

I spent time with my Deities and offered them good wine.

Yes, I am a Pagan on the Druidry Path and I celebrate the Winter Solstice (Alban Arthan), the return of the light, the balance between light and dark.

But my Family is Catholic and I see no inconvenience in celebrating this Family season with my own Family.

Before I return to my Family, my Goddesses (yes, almost forgot to tell you! Besides the Great Queen, Epona also chose to be part of my life, and I am delighted to get to know her better) and Gods, I wish you peaceful times. May you always find balance in dark and light. And may this season be an enlightened one.

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Detail from my Yule Tree
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Back home

I returned home last night, and I am already longing to return, even with being so much cold in Góis than in Lisbon (let there be a fireplace!).

I got home and, right after I dropped my stuff out of the way, I went to pamper my beloved Deities by rearranging the Altar center piece.

I missed lighting their candles, even if I honoured them during the weekend. It is somewhat different when you change your habits, even when meditating away from the usual place makes you feel very close to them just the same.

I also have a few more photos for you. I hope you enjoy them. ^_^

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Olive tree trunk
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Green path
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I see fire, like the other gentleman. 😉
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I love those stones by the olive tree!
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My cauldrons! <3
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Currently, this is the Altar center piece
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Weekend away – Friday and Saturday

I had an uneventful, safe travel here.

Yesterday, I acquired a black iron cauldron with a lid, as well as a small round harvester sieve (perfect as a symbol of harvests), which I will post once I place them in my magic room. I love them!

Today, during the morning, I found a beautiful place that made wonders for my soul. Made me feel so close to The Morrígan, to Andevellicos and Cernunnos! Such a special, peaceful place!

I will let you judge for yourselves. Take a look. 😉

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I’m a tad bit nervous…

…and I have no idea why.

Ok, so I am spending the weekend away and I am really looking forward to it.
I really need to recharge my batteries and Góis is the perfect place for me to do so. Trees! Trees all around, and a river Ceira. I love it!
Besides, it’s going to be cold and that means we’ll have to use the fireplace!
Photographs will be finding the way to this blog, I promise!

Góis, Coimbra, Portugal
Góis (partial view), Coimbra, Portugal. Photograph taken by yours truly.

But I can’t shake the feeling that something is going to happen (not particularly in a negative way – quite the contrary, if I am reading my nervousness correctly).

I’m already packed, portable altar included. Oh! Almost forgot! I acquired a little box-shaped censer – absolutely adorable!
I’ll make sure to take a photograph to show it to you soon. It’s a promise! 😉

I’m pretty sure I will find out soon enough what is it that is making me anxious (kind of in a good way, as I am looking forward to find out). If I can, I will share. I do feel it is connected to my path, though.

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My Deities

Hey everyone!
As promised, here I am. 😉

When I started my path over ten years ago (yes, I’m old…er! There, I’ve said it! 😛 ), I didn’t think much about Deities.

I was all about immersing myself in Nature, the closeness I have always felt with forests, animals, rivers, going for long walks and pretty much forget about life in the city.
Lets face it, spending all my childhood vacations in Góis (Coimbra, Portugal) or visiting Sintra (Portugal) is the closest I get to forests.

But don’t get me wrong: I still have this vision of an older self in a small cottage on the edge of the woods, baking bread and helping villagers almost on a daily basis. I want that to happen so badly it aches, like returning home after a long time. And I am still to find out if that is part of my future or me recalling a past life. I guess I will figure it out, eventually.

So, when I started feeling quite drawn to The Morrígan over a month ago, that actually was a surprise to me. Since then, She has always been in the back of my head, images of ravens and crows keep springing to mind, which made me start reading about Her.
The Morrígan showed up in my life in a time where Her guideship makes every bit of sense. I am claiming back sovereignty over my own life, fighting for myself for once, and doing my best to be confident while treading my path, as a rightful Queen would, during troubled, trying times.

Actually, it would be more accurate if I said it all started when I started researching the Celtiberian Pantheon. I figured that I felt so drawn to Celts, and since Portugal’s pre-Roman population was composed, for the most part, of Celtiberians, why not delve into my country’s own History?

I found out that The Morrígan was known around these parts as Morrigú, and that’s when it all started. Dreaming of ravens and crows, feeling more and more drawn to The Morrígan, always with Her in the back of my mind.
I created a space in my Altar for Her, where She is represented by a black candle.

Still I felt something was missing.
I also began to feel a closeness to Cernunnos. How could I not? Forests, animals, death and rebirth. Cernunnos, as well, is now represented in my Altar, through… Surprise, surprise! A green candle. 😉

Still, healing was not exactly represented. Come to think of it, were I not drawn to healing, I had not become a Psychologist, now, would I?
And so, Andevellicos showed up in my mind, associated with a yellow candle.
Andevellicos, the supreme solar healing God, the most important Lusitanian God of days gone by. So important that His cult prevailed until the 5th century, just when Christianity was spreading in the region. So important that even the Romans adopted Him, spreading His cult to other regions of the Roman Empire.

My chosen Goddess/Gods (I like to think they chose me as well), from my research on Their myths, inspire me to be a better person, and that makes my soul sing.

Below, you can see non-edited photographs of my Altar (today), and close-ups of the candles’ flames (yes, that is the first time I see candles’ flames doing that; no, it never happened before, to me at least).

My Altar, today
My Altar, today
The Morrígan's Candle
The Morrígan’s Candle
Andevellicos' Candle
Andevellicos’ Candle
Cernunnos' Candle
Cernunnos’ Candle