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Time for the weekly update on Dianne Sylvan’s Becoming a Spiritual Nomad Course, and it’s week four!

This is last Monday’s lesson (27Feb), yet I only read this last night. I’d like to say it was a really good way to get through a crowded and delayed journey home, reading the PDF on my phone and planning what I’d put in my wheel.

There was snow, engineering works and a signal failure, so my 1 hour 50 journey took 4 hours. I’ve done nothing spiritual this week, but I’m back on it today, Monday the 5th March, listening to The Wigglian Way podcast and smelling the gentle incense.

So, let’s get back into this. I’ll be outlining how I plan to do the forth weeks work this week.

My Thoughts on Ritual
I like ritual. My first ever Pagan ritual was my dedication as a seeker of the Goddess on June 4th 2004. I always felt a little weird speaking out loud to myself/ invisible gods, so learnt to whisper or chant the callings in my head. As I’ve attended more and more group ritual though, I’m becoming more comfortable with it.

I have my favourite ways of calling the quarters, of casting the circle, and of what items I include in my rituals. As I’ve been thinking about the mudra and prayer in the daily devotional ritual, so will be experimenting with this in the next couple of weeks.

The coursework this week was to create a ritual format. I have a good few favourite formats, so I have settled on creating a new specific ritual for each of my new wheel celebrations instead of this (but not all this week!).

Reinventing the Wheel

The idea of this project is to create a year of festivals that are important to me, as a nomad. I can pick and choose festivals from my favourite spiritualities, or from my own life.

I have a half-finished Pagan Wheel of the Year at home which I’d like to go back to before I finish this wheel; but here’s my rough design for now and the reasons for each festival.

I began with the eight festivals; I like 6 of them, and Lughnasadh and Eostre are ones I understand the importance of, so want to keep in there, even though they are the two I generally don’t do anything for.

Some of these 8 festivals have extra meanings; so I may as well list them all and explain them.

The Eight Sabbats

– (May 1) – Beltain was the first ritual I really got into a habit of celebrating, and was my first experience of ritual at university, wiccan ritual and druid ritual. Thus it’s my beginning point. Spring is actually, truly here then and I feel safe to begin growing out of the soil truly. I began the year here because this was my first shared ritual, it was the first time I did the “boast, toast and promise” which is kind of a new year thing, and it’s truly spring.

– (June 21) – Litha is a favourite of mine.

– (August 1) – I often miss this but I really want to be grateful for the food and drink I can access.

– (September 21) – Modron (most call it Mabon but Modron has such a sound to it…) is a favourite. Like Beltain, it’s the one I celebrate each year with a smile and a sudden.. connection to spirit.

– (October 31) – Samhain, Halloween. The anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and of someone close to my family’s suicide. Really important date to reflect and connect with my inner self, my inner pain and inner peace. Made even more powerful by actual events.

– (November 1) – Pagan New Year. Always loved celebrating this. Now it’s also my Druid self-initiation date.

– (December 21) – Yule. A nice quiet space. My partner and I mark this by opening each others presents. All others are Christmas presents so they wait until the family day on 25th. But he and I give each other Yule gifts, thus open them at Yule. I also tend to celebrate this one at my altar each year.

– (February 1) – Imbolc. A favourite for its symbols. I can always see beauty in the earth on February 1st.

– (March 21) – Eostre. I always forget/have blocks around celebrating this one. I don’t partake in lent any more (though I do have pancakes on pancake day). For me, I guess I celebrate spring in Imbolc and Beltain, so why again? Especially as we actually get snow in March in England these days.

Personal Festivals

Then I have “my” festivals – Earth day (22nd April), my birthday (25th August), my anniversary with my other half (26 January), the days I first connected with my three best-friends (29 March, 30 July, 1 September).

The unexpected few (the ones I ended up putting on but haven’t always celebrated/didn’t think would be important):

–          May 9th – my first ever ritual as “high priestess” in a ritual. (it was me and a friend, thus we automatically became the joint leaders). My first ever experience of a tawny owl, and my first big insight into the forest at night-time.

–          13-17 July – Buddhafield Festival 2011 was a really important experience for me. From the new systems to the actual experiences, I had a thorough learning incident over those few days. However, I didn’t think I would include this as a new festival… There was a lot of pain associated with the waking early, the flu, being given the wrong medicine, EIGHT HOURS on delayed trains with this flu, an argument with my tent-mate which led us to sever all ties.

  • However, the ritual, the open-air showers, the act of pushing myself to be on the till, the support and being able to say “thank you for letting me stay on tills. I know I was panicky at first, but you let me find my feet. Thank you for that kindness.”   It was important and I want to remember it as such.

–          I noticed on someone else’s wheel the festival of “Sakura Matsuri”, of Cherry Blossoms, which this year is 28-29 April. This is a symbol I’ve had since Spring of 2006 and I always wanted to mark it with a tattoo… having looked up this festival though, I may sneak it in as a replacement or combination with Eostre/Beltain.

–          I used to spend the spring months soaking up knowledge of books as I sought to learn about everything before it had all bloomed… I’d like to get back into this routine. I’ve read 8 books in 2 months, and this reflects my old pattern. I’ve been thinking about making some kind of “Spring Submerging in Study” for a couple of weekends throughout February-April.

So, this is my wheel so far. It’s in progress. I know that I’ve experienced depressive states throughout January since I was 11 or 12, so I’d quite like to come up with some form of celebration or ritual to cultivate joy in that space where I already release a lot of negativity. In relation to this, I’ve also noticed that from November to April, I basically have SPACE in spades… Which, considering my favourite festivals are Modron, Yule and Imbolc, this really interests me. I may have to make a few more for those times.

Contemplation Questions

1. I don’t remember many of the rituals in my life; I’ve attended two weddings in my memory; though neither really sparked anything in me. I went to a catholic school, which had an attached chapel where Mass happened every couple of weeks. The chapel was an amazing space, but the rituals were empty to me.

From Beltain 2009, I began to sense ritual as a connective energy. Beginning on May 3rd, with the Druid group I still attend. I held hands with strangers who told the circle about their failings, their fears and their dreams. I connected in that “forest of women”. Hard to incorporate into my own ritual as holding my own hand doesn’t have the same effect.

2. Rites of Passage are things that are hard for me to put my finger on. There are “traditional” events that some cultures celebrate, but I think the things that meant a lot to me I did celebrate, in my own way. I might have to think about this one some more.

3. A date from my re-invented wheel that I would like to plan is June 4th; my dedication. This year will be the beginning of my ninth year as a dedicant? of the Gods. I would like to have a reflection and celebration ritual for this day. Usually I let myself buy a pagan-related book or object for my altar. I think I’d like to make something I can add to/make something new for each year… maybe a tapestry or a scene/picture I can add to. I’d like to use my traditional cast and call quarter routine, not the Druid grove I’m using more often now.

4. I’ve not been doing the daily meditation, so will skip this question for now.

In light,