My time as the Senior Druid of our grove is coming to an end. On Samhain, I will be stepping down and passing the torch back to Marc Meadows. Over the past two years, I feel I was able to accomplish a lot of my wish list, but at the same time I feel I didn’t have quite enough time to finish. The plan, of course, will be to continue working on these aspirations, but I thought I might make a list of all that has come to fruition…
I have always felt that we needed a physical manifestation of what our grove represented —something that we can change and mold as we continue developing our paths. This would not be any sort of Bible or absolute law of what we believe, but would be a representation of who and what we are and where we came from, as well as a learning tool for our families. At this time, we have drawn up a lot in the sense of content and what we want to add to the book, but making it physical has not yet come to fruition.
Now, this doesn’t mean the project has been a failure. We have commissioned local artists for work and have streamlined a lot of our rituals into one standard look. The content of the book has very much come along and so far it looks amazing!
This has been more of a 50/50 project.
One of our stronger rules is “No Proselytizing”. We never push our beliefs or ideals on others and we hope to never make others uncomfortable with their own beliefs. Everyone is entitled to believe what they wish, and we strive to welcome and support all individuals who decide our path may be for them. In the last two years, we have attracted one new member and accepted a past member back into our grove, while at the same time saying “goodbye” to two members. The reasons of those two members for leaving are their own, and both left knowing they will always be welcome back.
As a leader, people leaving the grove is a little hard to swallow. Could I have done more to make them feel included? Did something happen that made them feel uncomfortable? What could I have changed that might have made them change their minds? In the end, as I’ve said, leaving was their choice and both assured me the decisions were for personal reasons unrelated to the Grove or it’s members.
I did my best.
This one I can say had little to do with our own shortcomings and more to do with government bureaucracy. I, personally, would like to see our Grove do more with the land, be it environmental activism or even participation. So far, we have attempted two highway clean-ups, but both times the government offices involved with these projects had mishaps with our paper work preventing us from legally cleaning up the highway. These experiences were pretty frustrating on our side, but we are making plans to try again this year.
One of the larger project I want to see us accomplish over the coming years will be for us as a Grove to purchase land. This land, I hope to see used by all the members of the Pagan community. I’d love to see it be a place of pagan worship for all paths. So, this year, we finally took some steps to get this project started, and we have some exciting fundraising efforts set to take place over the next while. This was never a project I expected to completely in my tenure as Senior Druid, but I am happy to see it started and hopefully it will keep momentum.
A difficult thing for most pagan paths is community outreach. I view this as a two part process:
To reach out to the local Pagan community. To let them know we are here and welcoming, open to new members, and eager to help in whatever ways we can, be it holding rituals, hosting “meet and greets”, or simply taking part in larger community events;
To reach out to the general, non-pagan population and just say, “Hey, we are here and there is no reason to be afraid of Pagans.”
We made a fantastic connection with the Nova Scotia Health Authority this year, where we helped them add religious identifiers (“Pagan”, “Wiccan”, “Heathen”, and “Druid”) to their administrative systems, and are presently working to a) identify individuals to serve as pagan “chaplains” for inpatients seeking spiritual care and b) provide generic altar boxes containing such items as sage, candles, deity statues, etc. to have on hand. This project is something we are very proud of. Additionally, we are trying to actively partake in more charity events, such as donating backpacks and school gear at return to school time and turkeys to FEED NS at Christmastime. Finally, not so much me, but one of our members, Dan Negus, has represented our Grove and has lead and encouraged our participation in Halifax’s annual Interfaith Harmony Week. That has been amazing.
Regional Druid for ADF
The next step, I feel, for me is to become more involved with ADF. I have spoken to the current Regional Druid and hope, with her help, to run for the position when it becomes vacant in a year and a half. I put my hat in for this last year, but semi-abandoned the idea as the election approached, mostly due to personal time restraints and a desire to focus more of my attention on our own Grove. I now feel I am ready to step forward and help others.
The last major project I hope to focus a lot more on now that my term as Senior Druid has ended is the creation of an east coast “Druid Retreat”. We have been discussing a weekend where our Grove and anyone who identifies as a druid can sit and discuss community, philosophy, and the general world around us. I hope to have more info on this as the time comes.
Overall, I am very happy with what has happened over the last two years, but I feel it’s good to look back on what one has done well and poorly and to grow from that, much like a tree that takes damage and a new limb sprouts.
“Back at the time of Ostara, the Green Man emerged from sleep, cloaked in leaves, with vines sprouting from his beard. He was young and energetic and readily took up the plow and began his task of fertilizing the fields. By the time we arrived in August, to the celebration of Lughnasadh, the Green Man had been busy, and we graciously reaped the fruits of the first harvest.
At this second harvest, we rejoice once more in the bounty of the Earth and the fulfillment and reaping of our labours, both physically and spiritually. But with the changing of the foliage in the Green Man’s crown, we see that he has grown tired. We invite him to eat and drink with us, before sending him to rest while we prepare for the coming of winter.
Today we celebrate the Autumn Equinox, known to us by many names, amongst them the Mabon or Alban Elfed. At this time of balance, we give thanks to the waning sunlight for providing for us the means to be fed and full through the long cold days of winter, and take a moment to pay our respects to the impending darkness.
There is little evidence that Mabon was actually celebrated in Celtic countries, and all that is known of Anglo-Saxon customs of ancient times is that September was considered a “holy month”. The term “Mabon” came into existence in the 1970s, with the celebration since becoming part of our reconstructed Paganism. It is said that the druids honoured the Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees; however, this evening, following this ritual, we will instead break breads together, toast with homemade jams and spreads, and share in each others’ company. And we will be thankful for all that we have, have had, and will come to have in the future.“
—excerpt from our Mabon ritual, York Redoubt, Halifax
Blessed Mabon to everyone!
May your bellies be full, your nights warm, and your hearts complete.
Come out to support your local Pagan CKDU Radio Show, The Witching Hour, and to just have a ball. There will be music, drinks, and a costume contest!
The event will take at Menz & Mollyz Bar (2182 Gottingen St.), November 4th, starting at 9PM.
The Grove of Nova Scotia Druids will be hosting a raffle to raise funds for our “Land Acquisition Project”. The basket will include lovely gifts from Rustic Revolutionary Pottery, Nude Bath Products, Mighty Oak Workshop, and much, much more. Tickets will go on sale at the event, so be sure to pick yours up for a chance to win a lovely basket of goodies.
At the beginning of the month, a small group of us came together to cast away our stresses, relish the cool grass between our toes, and embrace the sun-warmed Earth. For the next few months, as the nights begin once again to lengthen and the shortening days are bright and full of life, we can be present and enjoy this rest before the harvests of Fall.
(It is also a good time for gathering herbs, for both magical and mundane purposes.)
It is a pagan custom to honor the dying God, as the sun reaches it’s peak and begins to wane. So we honoured the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits on this beautiful midsummer afternoon, and then we ate and we laughed and we enjoyed each others’ company.
And we wish for you all the loveliest of summers, filled with the juiciest of berries, the sunniest of days, the warmest of company, and the heartiest of laughs.
(And also s’mores. Because s’mores.)
Beltane was a great time. We danced the may pole, shared delicious snacks, and had a wonderful ritual with Grove and friends.
During the ritual, we pulled two Oghams as usual and were met with the following: Blackthorn, which represents challenges, difficulty, and poison, followed by Yew, which represents access to ancestors, death, rebirth, and faith. Suffice to say, from great challenges come lessons, new life, and rebirth. We will embrace the challenges that are coming to us, knowing that the outcomes will be worth the efforts and struggle.
Good luck to you all with your Spring and Summer ventures and Blessed Beltane!
Beltane is just around the corner and I know you are all looking for family-friendly activities to celebrate. Beltane is a time to celebrate fertility and, while you may not want to beat your children over the head with this (so to speak), you do want them to understand it brings life and all the things they love about spring and summer.
Here are some fun group and family-friendly activities you can do to celebrate.
Make a floral crown or cone. Teach the children to be respectful of what they harvest and to do so mindfully. (Adults, you need to remember this too!) For your pretty flower crown or bouquet, something is dying. If you are not a fan of this, try potting a plant to bring inside, and decorate the pot.
Ribbon is also highly associated with Beltane because of the May Pole (which you can always dance by the way), so why not try braiding some ribbon crowns or hanging ribbons from trees to decorate your celebration.
Have a Bonfire:
The Bale Fire is a long-standing tradition used for protection and purification. It is also a fantastic gathering point for stories and celebrations. So why not grab the marshmallows and have yourself a little roast.
Take a walk though the woods and enjoy some of the new life that is budding up around you. You can take pictures, clip trimmings, or draw what you see and maybe even enjoy a picnic in nature. It’s always good to get some fresh air and commune with nature.
This is a great way to introduce your children to the idea of fertility without having to explain the “birds and bees”, if you aren’t quite ready. The seeds breed life and life is all around us. Children can help by tilling and watering the soil. They will gain a sense of satisfaction and acquire new skills through helping with the planting.
Dance that May Pole:
Beltane is all about fertility and fun. What better way to wholesomely celebrate than dancing around a giant phallic object and decorating it? Try to weave your ribbons over-under-over-under to create a beautiful pattern down your may pole. You can also tie wishes for the next year to the pole before wrapping it. Focus on those hopes as you dance, and watch the magic come to life.
Bake a Green Man Cake:
We all love the Green Man and we all love cake! Lets combine the two and enjoy! (Keep scrolling for a recipe!)
I hope this has helped you in deciding what to do with your May Day celebrations. Enjoy!
- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C cornstarch
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 C milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp rum-flavored extract
- 1 C butter, softened (don’t use margarine)
- 2 C firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 2 C confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 package white fondant
- Green food coloring
- Leaf-shaped cutters
Preheat oven to 350, and lightly grease and flour your cake pan. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and blend well. In another bowl, combine milk, eggs, vanilla and rum extracts together.
Add the softened butter to the flour mixture, and beat until it forms a clumpy sort of dough. Gradually add the liquid mixture in, blending it a little at a time until all the milk mixture has been combined with the flour mixture.
Beat until completely smooth, and then add the brown sugar. Mix for another thirty seconds or so. Scoop batter into the pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Once you have it out of the pan, you can begin frosting the cake.
To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese and the butter in a bowl, mixing well. Add the vanilla extract. Finally, stir in the confectioner’s sugar and blend it in. Spread this evenly over the cake, and allow it to sit for an hour or so to firm up.
To make the Green Man himself, you’ll need green fondant. If you’ve never worked with fondant before, it can be a little tricky, but with some practice you’ll be able to use it easily. Roll out the fondant and knead it into a ball. Add the green food coloring in very small amounts and blend it in, until you’ve got the shade of green you want.
Roll the fondant out until it’s about 1/8” thick. Use the leaf-shaped cookie cutters to cut out different sized leaves. Score lines on them, to look live leafy veins. Place them on top of the frosted cake and press in place, layering them to form a Green Man. Roll two small pieces into balls, flatten them down, and put them in to create eyeballs in amongst the leaves. Reminder – fondant tends to dry quickly once it’s rolled out, so only cut off small pieces. The cake in the photo was made using a block of fondant about the size of a package of cream cheese.
“The birds return from the southern lands, bearing spring time beneath their wings. Nature has awoken, seeds are sprouting, tree buds are bursting, the earliest plants are starting to fight their way from the frozen earth, and the birds and animals are preparing to have their young.“
“Ostara is the time when we recognize the importance of planting, growing, and nurturing new ideas, projects, plans, and plants, while seeking to maintain balance in our lives.“
This past weekend, our grove hosted our Ostara ritual. It was a lovely, happy, sugar-fueled, chaotic gathering, with kiddos running around left, right, and center. It’s amazing how in a few short years, our family has grown to include so many adorable little people, each bearing their own unique personalities, wonders, and curiosities. (And also trouble-making capabilities. Let’s not forget that one.)
As a grove, we have come to deeply cherish these young lives, the energies and the laughter they bring into our circle, and our rituals and our traditions are evolving into these family-friendly, kid-inclusive events, where we get to delight in each others’ accomplishments, in baby’s first steps; where we get to marvel at ever-growing vocabularies and unexpected insights; where we get to share stories and experiences and rejoice in each other as friends, as family, as human beings just living this beautiful life.
“The Spring Equinox allows us to step from the dark into the light half of the year and gives us the first signs of spring in the land.[... It] is a time of creativity, growth, and the seeing of new beginnings.“
Let us celebrate this renewal of life.
Let us breathe in the scents of new blossoms, feel the warmth of a new sun, and hear the songs of the earth below and the skies above.
And, in the spirit of Ostara, let us clean our houses, paint some eggs, and eat some chocolates.
Happy Ostara, from us to you!
(All quotes are excerpts from the afternoon’s ritual.)
Ritual is not only for the High Days. We have smaller life rituals that we perform each and every day: the ritual of brushing our teeth, the ritual of getting dressed, etc. With Ostara and Spring just around the corner, I thought it was time for some “Spring Cleaning” which, as with all things, is best done mindfully.
I love to clean, so there’s no issue for me there, but if you are not a fan of scrubbing things down and tidying up, maybe doing so mindfully will help you to achieve a greater sense of accomplishment and comfort.
The ritual of Spring Cleaning has existed since the dawn of time. In North America, it is typically done in response to the cold and wet climate we endure throughout winter. Traditionally, it would be a time to dust and air out the home, change the hay in bedding, and be rid of all things that accumulated in the home during the harsher months. Nowadays, it is mostly an excuse to give the house a good once-over and recycle things we no longer need.
So apart from the obvious aspects of cleaning, like removal of dust and debris, cleaning surfaces or carpets, and laundering things that may get forgotten, we should keep in mind a few things:
- Firstly, you must perform each task with a strong sense of intent. Focus your energy on removing not only the physical mess but the emotional and spiritual mess as well. Visualize your home filling with a bright light as you cleanse it.
- When performing a ritual, it is best not to use harsh chemicals, if they can be avoided. Try a natural brand or even making your own cleaning solution with vinegar, water and essential oils to give the house a fresh smell without the burning compounds. (Check out for DIY natural cleaning inspiration here, here, and here!)
- Clean from top to bottom and from the back of the house out the front door.
- Burn sage in order to cleanse and purify the air.
- Open your most Easterly windows to allow the energy of the sun to pour in.
Good luck, folks!
(Check out our “Spring Cleaning” post from 2015, including a “House Cleaning Ritual” document, here)