Monday, November 8, 2010

On Samhain, Drawing Down and The Morrigan, Namely Nemain

Maybe it's just gone out of fashion, but no one seems to talk about Drawing Down anymore. Is it too touchy-feely? Too difficult to validate? Not a srs magikal practice? I think it's actually a strange middle place - it's something that requires a lot of time and energy and attention and will kick your ass, which makes it difficult for your average kitchen witch to do, as s/he has enough to deal with in working, keeping house and keeping the children from getting too Lord of the Flies-ish. I think there's a certain sheen of Reclaimist that makes a lot of srs practitioners turn their noses up and/or they've got better things to do like meditate towards enlightenment instead of basically wandering around god-drunk, which is frowned up.

Luckily for you, (I have no problem looking completely batshit crazy to you, darling readers AND I'm in some weird holding pattern between frantic kitchen witch (I have no children and don't work for a big corporation or anything) and srs practitioner (we all know how I feel about meditation).

An ADF druidic ritual is celebatory, at least the way GoG does it. There's a basic frame work that all ADF rituals need to follow, but there's a lot of room to turn it on its head. My grove is one of the largest in the country and our rituals tend to be . . .different than most ADF rits. We're sort of the backwater snake handlers of the group. We're called Grove of the Other Gods for a reason, after all.

So we've now laid the ground work: this is a celebratory ritual where we are honoring our kindred and a guest of honor (in this case, The Morrigan) and no targeted magic is done. I like a good beer buzz early in the morning as Sheryl would say and have enough time and energy to prepare for a drawing down while also having no shame or filter to keep me from sharing my experiences with you. It's the perfect storm really.

I demurred about the likeliness of drawing down to Jow, but I think in the back of my head I knew that as soon as I got close to the other two chicks (which was strange for GoG, we don't gender police by any stretch, but that's who was interested in the other two aspects) at the rit, it was going to be on.

Jow wrote up his experience with GoG Samhain as a congregant.

Before getting there, I was more . . .lightly shadowed. Usually I'd be a completely anxious mess beforehand for a variety of reasons, but when I would start to get nervous, she had a calm answer (Oh! My pumpkin is v. roasted! It may fall apart! *fret* She: You're worried that your food looks like food?). She understood the need to look just so and was fine with things like makeup (woade correspondence), bra (armour correspondence), etc. but everything needed to be useful, everything needed to have a purpose. And I was at first confused about her OCD like need for cleanliness (clothes constantly lint brushed, washing my hands as much as Lady MacBeth, etc.) because I was like, ummm warrior Goddess? Blood, gore, etc? And then I remembered Her main job - washing the blood out of the clothes of people who were about to die in battle. Right then.

The cats were really confusing and slightly disgusting to Her as they seemed to serve no purpose- they don't catch mice, they live inside and all they seemed to do was shed and vomit. She was somewhat mollified when She was told that they were both gifts at one point and while she was confused that someone would be given something that was a lot of work and served no purpose to show appreciation, a gift was a gift after all.

Once we got there, K., who was invoking Macha came shortly after. I had intentionally put the aspects of The Morrigan as v. separate entities in my head, and the slidy thing that some deities that aren't quite separate from each other was a v. intellectual vague concept in my head. Until we slowly and unconsciously sliding energy between each other. K. and I are friendly, but not close friends, so it was a v. strange experience. Stranger still that I felt literally sick without P. who would be invoking Badb. I like P., she's cool people too, but I am no where anywhere *near* being close enough to her to feel sick without her. But I was. In my head was a constant fret of, When will P. get here, when will P. get here?

I knew K. and I were getting really slidy when I tried to walk through the door with her at the same time and nearly busted ass in the process. She did my makeup in the picture above while we waited for P. I've always wanted really hardcore gothity eyes but whenever I would try to do it myself for a club night, I would fuck it up. Luckily, K. is an artist so she had a v. good hand.

Finally P. got there and K. and I slowly started to synch up with her too. We were literally laughing and braiding each other's hair which seemed to creep everyone else out. In fact, most people gave us a wide berth and would not make eye contact with us.

All our SOs made grumbling noises about what pains in the ass we were that day, and commiserated together which they seemed to enjoy.

We sat down for the ritual, and poor K. got stuck on the other side of the room (after rit, she beelined for P. and I because she was getting nauseous without us). P. sat next to me and had her iPod in her ear, full of awesome Celtic music. Like school girls, we listened together through the other ritual invocations, one headphone in each of our ears, as we swayed in time to the music as we watched the ritual.

Jow said when I invoked, it was somehow less scary then when I was sitting quietly. When I was sitting quietly, apparently I had a v. feral air about me, my eyes were constantly darting all over, taking in the room. When I was invoking, I read what I had written and focused on that.

I had never been to a GoG Samhain like that. Even on the not sad years, it seems impossible to not slide into the river of sadness, at least for a moment. It's the first Samhain where . . .we didn't slide. Not for a moment. After the ritual, when we read the Book of (our) Dead, there were tears which was natural. Our senior druid was what we call "DiC'ing" (Druid in Charging) which means she acts as the priestess of the rit and keeps it going and steers it. She said when there were points where it could have gone to sad, we all collectively would say, No! That happened, goddamnit! Which has become my unofficial motto, btw. All of the invocations came from a place of power and it was amazing and beautiful and gorgeous and there was not one dud among them. When we could have gotten sad, we reached down and pulled up our power and drew from that. It was punk rock and amazing.

As for, P., K. and me, our invocations slide together just so and it was perfect, in my v. biased opinion.

In our rituals, we try to keep the pathway of communication two way. We speak by giving the ritual and then we ask for the gods to speak back by giving us an omen. Did They like it? Is there anything they need to tell us for the upcoming future? We used The Celtic Book of the Dead: A Guide for Your Voyage to the Celtic Otherworld deck and apparently, there are some really really nasty cards in there. We got one of the most positive possible readings from it. Judging by the cards, it meant one (or more of the following)

a) Hey! Good job! We dug it!
b) Hey little boys and girls, don't be afraid of us, we can give you nice things. Come inside, we have cookies . . .
c) Liked this rit? Perhaps you would like to join grove in honoring another one of our fam, Mananon next week!

Even though we aren't really super close, after rit, P., K. and I started speaking in unison and laughing at things that were only funny to us. We went outside and opened the bottle of Warrior's Port with a Bean Sidhe cry between the three of us and started slugging straight from the bottle, laughing and doing that thing that only a group of three sisters/best friends can do - when you're teasing the hell out of each other, two ganging up on one and then flipping the table and ganging up on the other. Mostly bawdy stuff, mostly sister teasing. A little friendly sisterly pushing and shoving. Again, no one wanted to get close to us and one gentleman who we're all friendly with, flinched when we noticed him and called him to stand by us. He would not make eye contact. Jow tried to feed me. My reaction: Ew! Food! Gross! P&K: Ew! A boy! Gross! He scurried back inside as quickly as possible.

P's gf, T. was the only one who wanted to put up with us and found much of what we said hilarious (K: More yelling! Me/Nemain: No! Norma, the woman who lives here will be v. cross with us! It's already been thirteen years since we've been invited back! T. (amused): Norma, who lives here? Me/Nemain: It's true, she does.)

Norma lured us back to the group in the backyard by showing the lamb she got for The Morrigan which was put in the fire as a burnt offering.

Usually, Norma is trying to lure me out for the midnight pumpkin parade (we . . .do what we do, it's a college town) but this year, P. and I were not allowed out, K. was only going to be allowed out without us. K. didn't want to be too far from us, so she stayed. We made sure to tell that loudly and indigently to anyone who would listen that we were not allowed out to play because they kept thinking we'd start *fights*. A few people stayed behind to mind us and we had a super fun time throwing cream puffs into cleavage.

After that, it was sorrowfully decided that we needed to eat. Food tasted awful, I really wanted a bloody piece of meat but there wasn't any to be had at grove, but pork was good enough. We complained that there was only one bottle of wine to be had between the three of us for SOME reason.

And we all slowly slid back, K. whispering in my ear you're on your own now as she squeezed my arm.

I felt bereft after, like I was missing 2/3 of myself, edgy and unhappy. It was difficult, making the transition, losing not just Nemain, but Macha and Badb too. I took some pictures and washed the make up off my face and got into comfy clothes. I went to sleep.

The next day I felt more myself again, we went to Skylark for brunch and I thanked Nemain by cleaning my house thoroughly. I was myself again, though perhaps missing two (small) pieces of me I haven't seen.

God drunk is awesome, the hangover is awful, but still, once in a while, it's empowering to remember what it's like to fly so close to the sun.


Alexis Kennedy said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. Nemain has been nudging into my world and I've been freaking out a bit. This was helpful.

Deborah Castellano said...

@ Kallan - Thank you!

@ leatheraven - The first impulse is fear and that's good because it should be, she's a harsh task mistress. But most gods, if they love you and you love them are going to try to do what's best for you. There's a big cavat there! What *they* think is best for you may not be the same as what *you* think is best for you. Nemain straightened my ass out, but she also expected me to look unflinchingly at the bad bits and to constantly be weeding out the crap and taking responsibility for the bad and figuring out how to fix it. My life has progressed the way it has because this is v. in line with what I'm working on so our goals were the same. If they weren't . . .*shudder* So think about that bit. And if you're working super closely, expect a lot of handwashing, lint brushing and a v. v. tidy house.

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