sophiacatherine: (firetree)
Lighting My Candle has been a great place for me to start exploring my Pagan religion and spirituality, but I've been wanting to set up a Druidry journal recently, and I took the plunge a few weeks ago. You can now find my more regular blogging at Leithin Cluan (it probably needs a more imaginative name than just my Druidry name, but hey ho). I'll still be putting randomness and unpolished thoughts up here, I'm sure.
sophiacatherine: Forest road (forestroad)
I've finished the OBOD Bardic course. I currently have no time to reflect on it, but I will make time soon, because I need to write my review of the course. I'm thinking prose poetry with some of my photographs of the attached at the right points. I may be writing this at five in the morning on a few days, because I have a lot to do in the next few weeks, including baking cookie gifts for the members of my grove, making some Solstice cards (painting little scenes), and doing some writing. And I've started the ADF Dedicant Path (and it is wonderful. I feel like I'm home). Plus, y'know, there's the PhD to do. But I got a podcast episode out! So that should tide some people over until after the holidays.

My ancestor work continues - I haven't managed to do 12 consecutive days, as migraines and similar have led to a few days off here and there, but I will have done 12 days of ancestor meditations in total by the end of it. It's been transformative. I'll be writing about it at my new Druidry blog soon, by request from my Druid priest and a few friends.*

All I've really done for ADF work so far is to find a small tealight lantern to represent fire, and to dedicate an old mini cauldron for the well. I'm still looking for a tree representation, although I've found something online that may work. A glass of branches from my garden is serving as the tree for now. The fire/tree/well imagery really works for me, which is great. I didn't expect it to.

*Yes, I have too many blogs now. But I'm thinking that, as my general spiritual writing will be happening a lot at the website that I'm going to be contributing to, and as I'm mostly set on a Druid path now, it's time to get more specific. I'll keep Lighting My Candle open, in case the 'general spiritual writing' mood strikes me.
sophiacatherine: Tarot cards (tarot)
Inspired by Ali Leigh Lilly's post on using the tarot for writing, I've been starting to work with tarot for academic writing. This was an experiment. While for fiction writers this month is NaNoWriMo, for academic types it's AcWriMo - academic writing month. I don't know any crazy person who's aiming for 50,000 words in academic writing (since that will be a bit less than the length of my entire thesis), but I wanted to have a go at making good progress on a chapter that I've had difficulty starting. And then I heard about Ali's approach, which seemed worth a try.

I wasn't sure whether a similar use of the tarot for academic writing could work. I looked into a few techniques - most are based on fiction writing, such as using them to create character development, which is nice, but not particularly relevant to my chapter on the history of illness and healing in Christian churches. (I mean, I could use the Emperor to represent Martin Luther, but if the ensuing spread suggests he gives up on the church reformation thing and becomes a Hindu, then we're into fictional rather than research territory.) The ones that recommend meditation on the card followed by free writing seemed to have potential, so I tried that. Instead of providing specific guidance for my writing, it has given me a kind of theme for how to approach the writing day. Some days this has been more motivational, other days more directional. It's certainly interesting.

Amusingly, on the first day I tried this, I drew the Fool - the beginning of the journey. In meditation I came up with the concept of starting with a clean slate, so I did - and going into writing with no expectations or plans (just for that day) was very positive for my work. Day two, and I drew the Seven of Pentacles, which I interpreted in terms of magical work - which gave me inspiration to continue, as well as the idea that I had already done a lot of the work and was at the 'harvesting' point, which was useful. On my third day of trying this, I drew the Nine of Swords - and it was a particularly difficult day, but with a possible new direction (albeit an extremely unexpected and challenging one) occurring to me by the end.

I don't think tarot can tell the future, and I don't know how much I'd invest in a reading from another person, but I do find it useful for getting in touch with my subconscious mind and spiritual side. I also think the gods can use any divination system they care to - although I don't have quite enough hubris to believe that the gods are interested in my work (although Ogma seems to appreciate my need to do excellent research). I find academic writing really, really hard, and anything that can help me work with what I'm doing on a more symbolic level is a good idea. I'm usually lost in enormous mind-maps, plans with far too much detail, and confusing reams of notes that I don't remember writing from books that I don't remember reading. But, as my work with NLP has shown me over the past few years, the brain is a much more useful organ than we usually allow it to be. I'm going to think about other ways to use symbols to help my brain drag itself out of the Bog of Pointless Notes and the Slough of Over-Detailed Chapter Plans. It needs rescuing.

Divination is generally starting to interest me more recently. I use it a lot to talk to my deities, but not in any particularly skilled way. I mainly use the DruidCraft tarot - the only deck that resonates with me - and (less often) the Druid animal oracle, although occasionally my pendulum also comes in handy (but I'm not particularly skilled with it). I would like to learn Ogham - I've been working through John Michael Greer's 'Druid Magic Handbook' recently, where he talks about the Ogham in some detail, and I've been finding the concept of Druid sigil magic an interesting one. I use sigil magic occasionally and would like to create a system for it that works better for me personally. The chaos magic approach of creating a sigil based on each working is fine, but doesn't particularly resonate with me. I know ADF has done some work on creating Druid sigils, although I haven't explored that in any detail. Since I'm almost certain that I'm not moving on the Ovate grade after I finish the OBOD Bardic grade (at least not for the moment), I won't be doing the year+ of divination skill-building that my grove mates will be doing when they move on to Ovate*, so I'd like to start some more dedicated study of divination systems in a self-directed way soon. Just as soon as I get past the Bardic grade and  work out what I actually am doing next - ADF, BDO, or entirely self-directed stuff. Ah, decisions.

And talking of divination, it's Druid Coffee Club today and that's the theme. I'm off to dig out my cards. Happy Sunday, all.

*There are several of us who are about to move on from the Bardic grade - it just sort of worked out that way.

Ireland

Sep. 16th, 2012 09:02 am
sophiacatherine: A stone circle with a waterfall behind it - County Cork, Ireland (stonecirclewaterfall)
Thought it was worth linking here to the write-up of my recent Ireland trip that I just started for my blog. It looks like it's going to take a series of posts to cover it all.

It being a public blog, I don't want to say too much over there about the spiritual experiences I had, but I'll try to say something here about those, when I've written it all up other there. It's all incredibly hard to put into words, as ever. It's good discipline to try, though.

Funny.

Sep. 15th, 2012 06:51 pm
sophiacatherine: (Default)
It's mildly amusing that I spent the morning creating a new journal here, and then spent the afternoon updating my old one (see this latest post). I think I was bashed over the head by a couple of goddesses. They certainly wouldn't let me stop writing until I had finished. (At one point I thought 'I should really go and meditate on this', at which point I was strongly informed that the offering and the transformation were in the writing.)

I'm not the world's greatest writer, and it takes me a lot of time and effort. I think that both of those things might be why Brighid, Ogma and some other deities demand the sheer hard work (and blood and sweat and literal tears) that goes into the transformative experience of writing. I'm never going to be able to dedicate a marathon to any of them. Maybe one day I can dedicate a book. Failing that, at least a few more blog posts.
sophiacatherine: A sign to Tir na nOg (25 km away if you swim) (Tir na nOg sign)
I'm not really new on dreamwidth, but my fandom journal fell into disuse (a few years ago now). Still, I remembered dreamwidth when I wanted to set up an online journal. I have lots of places where I write about spiritual things, including my (paper) Druidry journal and my blog (not very often updated). I need somewhere where I might be inclined to write more often - things happen that disappear into the ether, thanks to my ridiculously poor memory. One discipline that I've kept up since the beginning of my Pagan spiritual journey, a couple of years ago, is taking photos - but they need commentary that I forget to add.

So here I am. I'm a Celtic polytheist (mainly Gaelic), a neo-Druid-in-training (exact flavour of Druidry currently undecided), and I've been Pagan for a bit less than a couple of years. I still have Christian influences in my spiritual awareness (including Celtic Christianity and Gnosticism) - although I'm mainly focused on the Paganism at the moment, and haven't decided whether, or to what extent, to include elements of Christianity. I'll work it out, one of these days.

In the 'rest' of my life, I'm a PhD student in the fields of sociology of religion and disability studies, and I also teach sociology. I've been involved in disability rights campaigning for about eighteen years, although I'm not particularly active with that at the moment, between the PhD and trying to get my head around a (fairly) new religious path. I'm married to my Girl and we have four furbabies (but the Girl calls them cats and hamster. She's heartless).

Online, I post at The Cauldron and UK Pagan messageboards. I co-host a podcast called Divine Community - we don't have time to produce it very often, but we enjoy it when we do. I'm on twitter as SophiaCandle - I'm there a fair bit. (Occasionally I have time for an offline life, too!)

I'll write an actual post with real content shortly.

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Naomi J./Leithin Cluan/Sophia Catherine

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