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Endless Erring is no longer active, and I’ve moved to a new site:

Wrycrow.com, “Druidry as the crow flies”.

This site will remain live, but be maintained as an Archive of previous writing, book reviews, posts, etc.

THERE WILL BE NO NEW POSTS HERE!

If you want to read about what I’m up to these days, as a queer Pagan librarian finding magic in the mundane, please head on over to Wrycrow.com and give me a follow there!

If you need to contact me, there’s a contact form on my new site; please don’t leave comments here as I won’t be checking them.

Thank you for reading and following Endless Erring, and I hope to see you on the new site as I continue this journey!

 

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Moving day!

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As I said in yesterday’s post, I’ve been planning some changes to the blog and freezing Endless Erring as an archive of all my previous Druid writing to date.

So, there won’t be any new posts here on Endless Erring any more.

Please go and give me a follow on my new site:

Wrycrow.com “Druidry as the crow flies”.

If you follow me here, or link to Endless Erring, please update your bookmarks, blogrolls and links to Wrycrow.com.

Thanks, and see you over on the other side!

 

Changes afoot

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Hi all!

It’s been mighty quiet here at Endless Erring for a bit, mostly because I’ve been super busy and also because there are some big changes afoot to the blog, which I’ve been thinking of for some time.

A lot of what’s on here represents my evolving thoughts and often half-baked ideas about what it means to try to walk a Druid path, which I’ve gathered together over the past few years. As a result, some of the earlier posts are not how I might consider or phrase things today, and some of them are positively embarrassing to look back on now!

So, the plan is to move to a new blog and keep Endless Erring as an archive with no new posts, but keeping all the old ones live as I know that some of them are still getting readers, and it’s nice to have stuff like the book reviews kept online.

The new (as yet unnamed) blog will be more focused I hope, and with a more regular  posting schedule.

So, watch this space for announcements, and then if you want to keep hearing my rambling thoughts about Druidry through the magic of the blogosphere, then be sure to follow the new space when it goes live (which will be soon but TBC).

So, I guess Endless Erring is ironically coming to an end, but as Tolkien taught us, the road goes ever on and on!

See you in a new space soon, and thank you all for your views and comments along the journey so far, it’s been inspiring to know that my thoughts have reached people and that I am part of a larger Druid/Pagan community of support (and occasionally necessary challenge).

Blessings,

Ryan

Solstice and darkness

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The Summer Solstice, that great hinge and turning point of the year, is traditionally a time of celebration, perhaps the single most significant celebration in the Wheel of the Year for Druids and Pagans.

But looking at the news at the time of this Solstice, there seems little cause for celebration; in fact celebration feels, to me at least, hollow and even callous in the face of the appalling evils in the world right now. As I write this, the President of the USA, acting under guidance from a far-right activist with links to the neo-Nazi “alt right”, is tearing children from their families and locking them in wire frame cages in abandoned warehouses. Video and audio of these prison camps has been released which I won’t link to here, but which you can find easily enough. It shows children screaming. There have been suicide attempts. By children.

(Update: since writing this, the President has signed an order “reversing” his earlier order to separate children from parents. However, this order has no effect on the children already held in prison camps, who will remain separated. Any new families being imprisoned will be held together, but still in internment camps, and still detained indefinitely. Whole families are being locked up for no crime, and children who were already taken from parents are not being reunited. I’ll believe the President has truly changed his mind when all the camps are closed and families reunited in freedom).

Closer to home, the UK government is steamrollering a destructive hard-right “Brexit” rooted in fear, racism and xenophobia. Climate change is rising, and governments are doing nothing to stop it. Wars, poverty, discrimination, hatred, are rife. At the Summer Solstice, the time of greatest light, the sun shines on an unfair and unjust world.

But the Summer Solstice is a turning point. For as the light reaches its zenith, the year turns towards darkness. As a Pagan, I don’t hold with the Christianised equation of light with good and dark with evil. This idea, which has itself been used to justify colonialism and racism,  has no place in a spirituality that holds the night, the moon and the dark to be as sacred as the sun and the day.

As we turn to the darkness, may we find peace and healing. And may we find something else – power.

There is power in darkness. Witches ancient and modern know this, holding rites beneath the velvet blackness of the midnight sky. In darkness we are unseen, we are changed, we become mystery, magic. And magic can hex as well as heal.

For what it’s worth, I’m not a “love and light” Pagan. Druidry has a dark side.

So this Summer Solstice, this shortest night, this turn towards the dark, once the sun in its glory has set beyond our sight, I offer this hex, a prayer to the darkness.

To all who do evil, and those who manipulate others to do evil;

To all who aid and abet evil, through action or through word;

To all whose works bring division, fear and pain;

To all whose thoughts are malice and hate:

May darkness rise and cover you.

May darkness rise and overwhelm you.

May darkness rise and silence you.

May darkness rise and banish you.

May darkness rise and weaken you.

May darkness rise and take you.

May shadows hold and bind you,

Now and evermore.

Now and evermore.

What Naturalism Means to Me by Ryan Cronin

A while ago, I responded to a call from Humanistic Paganism for posts on the theme “what does naturalism mean to me?”. My piece was published yesterday! While you’re there, check out the other writing on the HP blog, there are so many great contributors there that always give me plenty to think about.

Humanistic Paganism

With the new year, we are starting a new series called, “What Naturalism Means to Me”.  It is an opportunity for our readers, like you, to share what Naturalism means fto you.  We are looking for essays between 1000-3000 words.  Send your submissions to humanisticpaganism[at]gmail[dot]com.


When I first saw the call for submissions from Humanistic Paganism on this theme, I intended to write something philosophical; something about the role of Naturalism within a Pagan sensibility and the difference between a Naturalistic ecological understanding of the Sacred and a traditionally theistic one. But I realised, that doesn’t answer the question. It could explain what Naturalism means, but not what Naturalism means to me.

What does Naturalism mean to me? It means I have the right to exist. 

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Book Review: The Hedge Druid’s Craft

hedgedruidJoanna van der Hoeven, The Hedge Druid’s Craft: an introduction to walking between the worlds of Wicca, Witchcraft and Druidry. Moon Books, 2017

This book will be released on 29 June, but I was lucky enough to win a copy in a competition, so I got to see it early, which was nice.

The Hedge Druid’s Craft is a relatively brief introductory text that “blends the traditions of Wicca, Witchcraft and Druidry into a spiritual path that uses the techniques of ‘hedge riding’ to travel between the worlds, bringing back wisdom and enchantment into our everyday lives”.

Beginning in Wicca, then working with Zen and training with Druidry, Joanna van der Hoeven describes herself as a “Hedge Druid and Witch”, and this book draws on her stores of knowledge and practical experience in both Druidry and Witchcraft to map out a potential path that can bring them together.

In The Hedge Druid’s Craft, Joanna spends some time introducing Wicca, Witchcraft and Druidry for those new to any one of these traditions, and then gets straight into the main focus of the book: the idea of the “Hedge” as delineating a liminal space, going beyond the usual use of the term “Hedge Witch” as simply a Witch who is not connected to a larger religion or organisation, and looking at the idea of the Hedge itself as a boundary between the worlds, one that can be crossed in Witchcraft, ritual, meditation and visualisation:

“Hedges have long been used by Witches in the community, who were often termed ‘Hedge Riders’. They were those who worked between the boundaries of the everyday and those of the wilderness; the wild spirits that dwelt therein.”

The Hedge Druid’s Craft provides rituals and guided visualisations to begin to practice this “Hedge Riding” work, and make connections to what Joanna describes as the lower, middle and upper worlds, taking the concept of the World Tree as a guide.

As well as this, the book is packed full of practical and useful lore, including plant, animal, celestial and weather lore, things that any Hedge Druid or Hedge Witch worth their salt should have at the very least a passing knowledge of. I definitely learned some new information from these sections, not least some basic medical uses of everyday plants such as nettle and dandelion.

Finally, the book has suggestions (not scripts) for rituals, spellwork and daily charms that could easily be adapted to suit different situations and act as a helpful toolkit to customise as you see fit.

My own path is primarily a Druid one, as I am training with Joanna and Robin Herne at Druid College UK at present. But I have also had a long fascination with Witchcraft, particularly in its more earthy forms, of plant and animal lore, of connecting with the wild within and without. I haven’t really explored or experimented with Witchcraft practices though, beyond reading about them, and this book has definitely given me the inspiration to give it a try. I feel that after one read-through, the next thing I want to do with this book is go through it again, this time with a notebook to jot down some of the rituals and practical things I want to try out, or learn more about. Thankfully, the book has an excellent bibliography at the end for those who want to dive deeper into this expression of Wicca, Witchcraft and Druidry.

Joanna writes: “For those whose paths meander and often overlap, and those who would not be constrained by labels, yet who seek some definition, perhaps this work will speak to you”. The Hedge Druid’s Craft is a worthwhile addition to any Pagan book collection, and sits very well alongside Joanna’s other works such as The Awen Alone and The Crane Bag.

Explorations in Ogham: Week 10 – Ceirt, Apple

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On Wednesdays, I’ll be exploring one of the original 20 Ogham letters and the trees associated with them. If you want to catch up on last week’s, follow the “Ogham” tag at the bottom of this post, or see the link HERE.

As always, I’ll be using my wonderful set of Ogham fews made from the correct corresponding wood by Green Woman Crafts, and two books: The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer, and the Collins Tree Guide by Owen Johnson and David More, as well as the Woodland Trust website.

This week, let’s look at the fifth letter in the second aicme, the tenth letter overall:

10. AppleCeirt (or Quert), pronounced “Kweirt”, which corresponds to the sound “kw” or in modern usage the letter Q.

“A few of delight, celebration and choice” (Greer)

While Ceirt has been compared with the Runic letter Peorð, associated with the Pear tree, most Druidic Ogham correspondences places Ceirt with Apple.

There are over 7,500 varieties of apple, Malus x domestica, or in the wild Malus pumila, with specific cultivars grown for eating, cooking and cider. The trees are small, and tend to be under 10m high. Leaves are dark green and typically oval in shape with serrated edges. Apple trees are known for their beautiful blossom, which tends to be white or light pink, and blooms in May-June. The fruit, of course is instantly recognisable!

Apples are not only an important food source for us humans, but also for wildlife. Birds and mammals such as badgers feed on fallen fruits, and bullfinches are often seen eating the buds. The blackbird, known in Druidry as Druid Dubh, enjoys bushier apple trees as a nesting site.

As you may expect, apples feature prominently in the mythology of several cultures. In Norse legends, the goddess Idunn provides apples of youth to the Aesir to keep them young and strong forever, and in Germanic Pagan burials, apples have been found among the grave goods, perhaps to ensure health in the next world, or as the “apples of Hel” referred to in an 11th century poem.

In Greek myth, Herakles was tasked to pick the golden apples from the Tree of Life that grew in the garden of the Hesperides; and in another tale Eris, goddess of discord, caused chaos by throwing an apple inscribed “for the most beautiful one” into a crowd at the wedding of Peleus. The apple was claimed by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, and Paris of Troy was chosen to select which of the three goddesses was in fact the most beautiful and so deserving of the apple. The ensuing strife was, it is said, the ultimate cause of the Trojan War.

In Christian mythology, of course, the apple is the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in the book of Genesis, which the serpent persuades Eve to eat.

The eating of apples, far from being a sin, has clear health benefits, as the fruit is rich in nutrients and phytochemicals, which preliminary research suggests may be preventative against the development of certain cancers. As the 19th century saying suggests, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

I have been lucky enough to live near orchards all my life, and some of my fondest early memories are of scrumping granny smith apples from a local farm. As an adult, cider is one of my favourite drinks on a hot summer’s day, and a fresh apple still my favourite fruit. Apple is also the wood from which my “Witch’s Runes” were made, which I use regularly in divination (more on that in another post).

In divination, Ceirt can signify happiness, healing and recovery, awakenings and new experiences, an unexpected gift, the rewards of success, an opportunity to live more fully.