This week I've continued the same pattern as last week. The devotional to Lugus has felt more effective this week, although I'm not sure why. I'll take it and stick with it, though! I've been doing my evening ancestor/nature spirit devotional about every other night. I'm going to keep at it to see if I can really establish it as a habit.
The next exercise in Sweat Your Prayers was to sit with a cup of tea and contemplate your blood, where it comes from and how it connects you to your ancestors. I chose to do it after returning from a long hike, which seemed to work well - I think I will try to incorporate that into my weekly routine. Fortuitously, my mother had just sent me a package of different teas to try, so it seemed appropriate given the ancestor theme to use one of those. I chose a black tea flavored with cherry. At first I found it difficult not to get drawn into intellectual speculation about all the things I don't know about the science of blood, but I did get into a trance state after a little while. I was jolted out of it by noises coming from the attic, where my daughter was trying to find something her dad wanted; at that point, I'd been sitting for 25 minutes, making it my longest session in a few years.
This week I kept up the daily devotionals to Lugus and Bodua and added an offering in the evening, alternating between ancestors and nature spirits. This seems to be working for me as a sustainable pattern so far, and I'm hoping I can keep it up.
I also cleaned my home shrine, changed the altar cloths and moved some of my deity images to a side altar, keeping my home shrine for the deities I have a more personal relationship with. It looks much less cluttered and more inviting now.
I did the next exercise in the Gabrielle Roth book, which involves working with the rhythm she calls "flowing". I used one of her suggested pieces, Persephone's Song, and danced to it in the Workings section of my retreat day COoR ritual today. The instructions were to raise the arms on the in-breath, lower them on the out-breath, and gradually allow the feet and the rest of the body to join in the movement. I found the greatest challenge was to keep the arms moving in time with the breath - they seemed to want to do their own thing - and also found it difficult at first to relate the strong drumbeat of the piece to the theme of flowing. Eventually it did come together, though, and I did feel myself entering a trance state towards the end of the piece. I found it difficult to go from that state to continuing with the COoR; next time I will consciously allow for a period of transition.
As planned, I added a pre-work devotional to Lugus to my routine this week (note to self: add text). Unlike my devotional to Bodua, though, I didn't feel it was adding anything to our relationship. I'm not sure whether it's the wrong devotional, the wrong time of year (I always find him more remote in autumn and winter, after his ritual death at the equinox), or whether I need to give it more time.
I did the next exercise from Sweat Your Prayers, which was to lie down and listen to the same piece of music - the first time, lying still and focusing on how your body responds to the music, which instruments seem to resonate with which body parts, etc; the second time allowing your body to move to the music. The piece I chose was Hörst du die Trommeln nicht by Faun, a pagan folk rock band who wrote it as a candidate for Germany's 2015 Eurovision Song Contest entry. The first time through, I felt the rhythm of the drums mostly in my chest and the hurdy-gurdy mostly in my head. The voices resonated in my throat (unsurprising since I'm a singer myself). By the end, I was finding it really difficult to keep my hands and feet still, and second time through, I immediately began tapping them. When the drums kicked in, though, I found the movement naturally transferred to my trunk and shoulders, and later I also started moving my head from side to side. It was interesting to be "dancing" while lying down; obviously more restrictive in some ways, but freeing in others because balance was not an issue and I didn't tire as fast. Unlike the previous exercise, this time I did enter a light trance state when the music and movement stopped, possibly because my heart rate was not as high and I was not out of breath. It was very pleasant and definitely a technique I would like to repeat.
I've been getting a lot out of my pre-workout devtionals to Bodua this week; I really feel they're adding an important dimension to our relationship. This coming week I think I want to try adding something similar for my other patron, Lugus.
I'm not feeling the same satisfaction with the evening COoR rituals. I don't know if that's because I need to go ahead and write my own, or whether I need to do something different entirely. Something to ponder.
I finally did the "dance till you drop" exercise. I don´t think I got what was intended out of it; sitting with my dance-induced faster breathing, I found it harder, not easier to get into a meditative state. I did approach a trance state at times during the actual dancing, though. I will try the next exercise during the coming week.
The Wheel of the Year questions for this week are mostly geared towards helping people find a hearth culture and/or a patron. I've already written here about finding my hearth culture, so I'm going to write a little here about my patrons, Lugos and Bodua.
Lugos is cognate with Lugh in Irish mythology and Llew in the Welsh Mabinogion. Depending on which theory you accept, he's either a sun god or a lightning god; I go with the latter. One of our local rivers may be named after him, and the local crows have a mutation that leads a lot of them to have white feathers amongst the black, which was also apparently common around Lugdunum, a Gaulish city dedicated to him. That was how I first became aware of him, and it took me a while to realise that he wanted to be my patron. What really sealed it was learning that dedications to him are also common in the parts of Spain associated with the Camino Santiago and that some think he was associated with pre-Christian pilgrimage there.
Bodua is cognate with Badb, an aspect of the Morrigan, and also known as Cathubodua (Battle Crow). She showed up in a dream, and I gradually came to feel that she wanted to be my second patron around the time of my father's death, when I found her very helpful. So both my patrons have crow associations, and that's why I wear a crow brooch on my cap; I dedicated it to them during a short ritual in which I formally accepted them as my patrons (having previously read Tarot to confirm that this was the right step).
I have a feeling they have Plans for me, and I am starting to have some idea of what those are, but that's for a later post.