The Hedge Craft – Rites and Rituals

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We previously looked at the word, enchantment (en chantement, “to sing
into”) as that which brings the songs of magic and the universe together
so there is a flow, balance and harmony as well as a guiding, directive
force. We can use enchantment in our lives for the same reason, to reenchant our daily lives with the magical and the mystical, through the
use of prayers and chants for mundane tasks, seasonal rites and
celebrations as well as specially-performed magical workings.
Daily Prayers and Chants (reweaving the connection of awen)
Awen, or inspiration, consists of the connecting threads that bind the
universe together in relationship. When we awaken ourselves to this vast
network of threads, we see that each one is important, and that the
boundaries between what is sacred and what is mundane become
blurred, as every action that we take has meaning, in this world and in
the Otherworld. We can use daily prayers and chants to help us reweave
this connection, or we can simply pay more attention to what it is that
we are doing. For instance, we get up in the morning, and we go to the
loo. We get dressed, then feed the cats, clean the litter boxes, make the
coffee and have a smoothie. We then get to work. Where is the
connection here, in a magical, mystical sense? How can we see the
threads that bind us together in these everyday mundane tasks?
It really does require discipline, attention and practice. Let’s take the
example of getting up in the morning and really pay attention. As soon as
we open our eyes, we can take a deep breath, and bring ourselves back
into our bodies once again. Inhabit your body fully. This is the key to
living in the moment, to being integrated, to feeling the threads of awen,
of inspiration. So often we inhabit our minds, but not our bodies. Let’s
change this now.
Fully feeling inside your body, connect with your ancestors. You
haven’t even got out of bed yet. You are still breathing, feeling your
body, the songs of your ancestors flowing through your blood. They are
always with you. Give thanks to your ancestors. Meister Eckhart said
that if the only prayer one ever says is thank you that is sufficient.
Gratitude is one of the greatest gifts we can give to the world, including
ourselves.
Mindfully, you sit up, placing your feet upon the floor. Take a moment
to really feel the floor under you. Feel the solidity of the house, and
stand up. Give thanks that you have a roof over your head, and a place
of safety. Go to the loo, (and give thanks for indoor plumbing, especially
in winter!) and dress for the day. Go to a window. Look out, and see
what is happening in your landscape. Watch the sun rise, if you can, or
look out into the inky blackness of a British morning in winter. If you
are able, go outside and take few deep breaths. If not, open a window for
a moment to feel the air on your skin, smelling the scents of the season.
Give thanks to the ancestors of place, those who have gone before and
who now provide you with life. They are the soil upon which you walk,
the materials with which your house was built. Look at any flora and
fauna around you, and give thanks to all that share this landscape with
you.
Then go and light a candle and some incense, and offer your practice
up to those who guide you. It could be a god, as well as ancestors of
tradition. Give thanks for all that they have taught you, and for all that
you still have to learn. Give thanks for being able to receive the wisdom.
Give thanks that they are a part of your life. Take a few minutes to
connect with deity, if you wish. Remember, it’s all about relationship.
Allow deity to flood your soul, and allow your soul to flood deity in
return. You can either leave the candle and incense burning, or put it out
to light tomorrow. Be sensible.
Then go and feed the cats, make the coffee. In feeding the cats, honour
their souls and their presence in your life. Be grateful for them. As the
coffee machine trickles water through the ground beans, give thanks for
clean drinking water, for the farmers who grew the crop. As you make
your smoothie, really look and honour each ingredient that you put in,
thinking about where it came from, what land, what brought it to your
kitchen countertop. Give thanks that you have food to eat, and a home
to eat it in. When eating, you can say a short prayer beforehand, of
gratitude and thanks.
You can continue this throughout the day. Reweaving the connection
can be a wonderful exercise in seeing just how imaginative you can be in
giving thanks to all that you have. It is also a wonderful lesson in just
how much we in the Western world have to be thankful for. Though we
are bombarded by horror and negativity each and every day through the
media, we can remember the small things that bring us joy. We can be
kind, and we can search for kindness in others. We can remember even
though there may lie some very dark days before us, with the world’s
powers seemingly going berserk, that even the smallest person can make
a difference. Remember that there are good people out there, working
hard to give homeless people a better life. Remember that there are
people giving first-aid and risking their own lives in war-torn counties
and cities. Remember that the oak tree outside your window is providing
you with oxygen. Remember your loved ones who support you, your
children who carry you in their very being. Awake, and aware, we
become attuned to the flow of the earth’s energies, of the land, the sea
and sky. And we are grateful.
• What are some things we can do, right here, right now, to reweave
that connection?
• What can we do as soon as we get home, to reweave that
connection?
• What can we do before we go to bed?
• What can we do at work?
• What can we do at play?
Through nurturing the connection and reweaving the threads, we are
nurturing our own souls. We are truly seeing our place in the web of
existence. We desperately need that nourishment. Too often we think
that humans are simply messing everything up, but we have to
acknowledge that even though it seems the majority of people might be
doing so, there are a good number of people working towards the exact
opposite, ourselves included. In the darkness of winter, it’s easy to lose
our way. Not guided by a great amount of light here in the UK, we can
easily slip into darkness and depression. But we must remember that the
spark of awen lies in each and every one of us. We have to seek out that
spark in ourselves, and then we can see it reflected in the world. If we
are attuned to the awen within, to the inspiration of connection, then we
can weave those threads in everything that we do. Then, our path is
guided by the brilliant, shining threads of existence.
Daily Prayers
Here are some examples of daily prayers that I use to help reweave the
connection. As a devotee of Brighid, I pray to Her every day, but you can
change the wording to any deity you work with.
A Prayer Upon Rising
I kindle my soul at the hearthfire of Brighid.
Flame of courage, flame of joy, drops of awen be upon my lips, my work.
May Brighid guide me in all my endeavours, this day and every day.
May the light of illumination be upon me, may the blessings of Brighid flow
through me.
May her fiery arrow bring forth awen, to shine upon all kith and kin.
A Daily Prayer and Meditation (to be performed at your altar each
morning) In Brighid’s name I light the flame.
Come into the sacred waters, lady of the three strong fires:
in the cauldron, in the belly, in the head: Brighid.
Lady of the sacred flame,
lady of the holy well,
lady of poetry, smithcraft and healing,
white serpent energy of Albion,
I honour you for all that you are with all that I am.
A Blessing Prayer for the Home (to be performed each morning and/or
just before bed) A blessing be upon this hearth and this home,
and all who dwell within.
A blessing be upon my Lady,
a blessing be upon this land.
May there be peace in our hearts and minds, and towards all fellow beings.
May we be the awen.
A Prayer before Meals
I give my thanks for this food that I am about to eat.
May it lend health, strength and nourishment to me.
I give my thanks to the spirits of land, sea and sky.
I honour all the times, and all the tides.
A Sunset Prayer (I prefer to sing this as the sun sets) Hail fair sun the
day is done.
We take the rest that we have won.
Your shining light guides our way.
Blessed thanks for this day.
A Prayer Just Before Sleep
I rest my soul in the arms of Brighid.
Lady of peace, lady of healing;
blessings of the sacred flame be upon me.
Protecting flame, the light in the darkness.
May her waters soothe my soul.
Lady, watch over me as I sleep, this night and every night.
May my love for you guide me in all that I do.
May we be the awen.
Have a look at the Carmina Gadelica, a tome previously mentioned that
captures much wisdom and folklore from previous centuries. In it you
will find charms and chants for everything, from harvesting herbs to
churning the butter. You can be inspired by this work, to create your
own charms and chants in order to bring more magic into your everyday
life. Also look up superstitions and folklore from your area, such as the
correct way to hang a horseshoe, or what to do when you come upon a
“fairy ring”. There are lots of sayings (and doings) for example, which
can be fun to incorporate into your daily life, such as: • If you find a
holey (holed) stone on the beach, look through hole and you will see the
spirits of the sea • You can also hang a holey stone in the stable, to stop
the horses from being “fairy ridden” at night (this is when your horse is
unwell in the morning; obviously take good care of the animal and call
the vet too!) • After eating a boiled chicken egg, punch a hole in the
bottom of the shell to stop evil witches from going to sea and sinking
ships • Make a wish when you see the first robin of winter • Doff your
cap, salute or greet any magpie you see You can also learn some country
crafts, such as making your own hand-dipped candles, brewing your own
beer, cider or wine, or growing your own herbs. You can learn how to
pickle fruits and vegetables, how to make jam or your own yoghurt.
Research family recipes and honour your ancestors with any skill and
talent that you may have in the kitchen. You can also tend a local area
and keep it clean, clear and honoured. If you’re lucky enough to live
near a well, you can reinstate the ancient art of well-dressing with each
festival of the year. All of these and more are various ways in which the
Craft of the Hedge Druid comes alive each and every day.