Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Reddening Ritual {a Deer's Skull}

Just about a year ago I had done a rebirthing of a deer skull under last July's full moon {often called a Buck Moon, which last year also turned out to be the longest blood moon eclipse of this century}. I had wanted to do a post about it in greater detail, meaning to share the three stage process I went through to redden, rebirth, and consecrate and bind the skull to myself for ritual purpose.

A year on, I had been reminded that I wanted to post on this when doing a ritual this past full Buck Moon honouring my lovely deer friend. So, here we are, this is the first post of three in this little series of what I did for this particular skull. The process and ritual I will be sharing is something that I have done not only for animal remains, but also some other sacred items, most recently before this skull, my rowan stang, and don't see why others couldn't do the same should they be adverse to doing this for the remains of an animal.

While this is a practice I started doing before I considered myself a Gaelic polytheist, it has been refined over time to fit my personal practice and cosmology, and below is how I would go about doing it today. Just in case there are folks who are looking for inspiration on how one might do a ritual like this, I am going into quite a bit of depth here. Anyhow, on with it.

Instead of me rattling off what reddening is, and why we do it, I will be lazy and share a really great post that had been done on the In The Chimehours blog back in 2011, who also in this post reddened a very handsome deer skull.

This deerie was found by another in the forest, he was a white-tailed buck, whose antlers had been shed and had not started to grow new ones. So he had died in winter or early spring. I think that he was a younger lad, probably two or three years of age, and how he was found, his death seemed to be a natural one. I believe that while I was initially connecting to him, I saw what the cause was, but obviously can't say for sure. His skull had been exposed to the elements for some while by the time he was found. Not the "prettiest" skull, but he is certainly my favourite. His spirit has turned out to be a most precious ally in my travels when I walk between worlds.

At some point I may go into greater detail on how I've developed and maintain my relationships with spirit allies, especially of those whose remains I am the steward of. For now I will just say that before I started to woo him into working with me, I had made a little shrine to him, and left regular offerings, which I still do today. 

Prior to the actual reddening, I did a small offering and saining ritual on the new moon. The skull was placed on a plate that held the dry ingredients of the reddening paste {pictured and listed below}, surrounded by a rowan berry necklace and candles of the Three Realms.
  • Lighting the candles of the Three Realms: Sky {"Blessings of the sky above"}, Sea {"Blessings of the sea about"}, Land {"blessings of the land below"}
  • Lighting the hearth candle, a prayer of welcome is said to The Three {Gods, Spirits and Ancestors} and offerings are made: incense {representing Sky} whiskey {representing Sea}, and food {representing Land}. 
  • A threefold saining is then performed: juniper smoke {"blessings of Sky"} is moved over the skull, saining water {"blessings of Sea"} is sprinkled over the skull, and sea salt and purifying herbs {"blessings of Land"} is lightly rubbed on the skull 

Below is a list of the dry ingredients that I had used in this reddening paste. Keeping in mind, I was reddening this skull to house an ally I wished to do specific types of spirit work with, the contents of this reddening paste reflects that. Ingredients may vary, depending on what the purpose of the item being reddened is. The dried ingredients I used here are {* potentially or is poison, handle with care}: 

Staghorn sumac berries
Rowan berries
Ghost fern
Oak leaves
European mandrake roots*
Bittersweet nightshade berries*
Willow bark
Dandelion root
Black nightshade berries*

The wet ingredients for the reddening paste were three beets, each one carved with one of the names of the Three Realms in ogham: Nem {Sky}, Muir {Sea}, and Talam {Land} that were then boiled until they could be mashed; Samhain water, and nine drops of my blood. 

This was then all mixed together in a paste and plastered on the skull, which was left on for about 24 hours until it could crumble off by itself. Before moving onto the next stage, he was left to dry out completely for nine days.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Quick Tip for Polytheists: Small Rituals to Stay Connected

Or, I suppose this could also be called making the most of the time you have.

Many of us live super busy lives, and I think for those of us in polytheist, pagan and witchcraft communities, might feel that we don't have a enough time to spend on observing holy days or special times of the year the way we would like, or find it difficult to stay connected to the spirits and deities we have relationships with.

For me this became especially true once I started working in healthcare, and even more so once I moved away to where I am now. At times it has left me feeling extremely frustrated and even depressed. Like I am somehow failing. Over time I've found ways to adjust. Here are two examples of what I've done recently, which will hopefully inspire and give ideas for folks who find themselves in similar situations.

During Midsummer I was working and didn't have time to do much to celebrate. So, the night of, after working the late shift, a friend and I walked home together and picked wildflowers at around midnight as we made our way home. We did do the usual making of offerings and "paid the rent" to the local land spirits, a tradition I have taken to previous years {it is good form to never skip on hospitality in my view, no matter how pressed for time}. 

Some of the wildflowers were placed on my hearth shrine and others on Airmid's part of the shrine, with a quick devotional prayer. And that's it. I didn't have time to greet the rising sun, it was that or sleep. For practical reasons I chose sleep. So, just making due the best I can. 

Speaking of Airmid, I had mentioned in previous posts, how I divide the year to seasonal devotions to the household deities I have relationships with. From around Midsummer to Lughnasadh is Airmid's time. After my pilgrimage to Ireland, I feel a deepened sense of devotion to her, and I want to maintain that, to see where that leads.

For her season I decided to take advantage of the strong sun at this time of year, as well as her connection to plants and healing by making a sun tea every day. I simply choose herbs based on intuition or whose properties I feel I need, add them to a mason jar with water, and leave it on my balcony shrine for the day. I leave a little tea as an offering to the land spirits, make an offering of some to Airmid with a small devotional prayer, and use some of it myself. 

The main thing I think is to make the most the time, energy and abilities one has. Of course it is smart to be mindful of oaths one has made, but when it comes to The Three, I find that effort is probably what is most appreciated by those we have relationships with.