Tag Archive | druids

Why growing up in a church home can really hurt – part 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about Orlando and about how so many pastors condemned the dead and not the shooter. It brought back a lot of bad memories of growing up in church and hiding for all the years before I came out and had to leave the church or rather, they left me.

I was raised in the largest Presbyterian church in the US at the time. We always had a minimum of 5 pastors, an executive pastor, an asst, a pastor that did hospital visits, a youth pastor, a college pastor and we also had Christian ED heads, usually the only woman on the executive staff and a Minister of Music. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Presbyterian_Church_of_Hollywood

There were a multitude of choirs and we were world famous for the one that ranked the highest. I started in Carol Choir and moved up to the all girl Lyric choir in Junior high, I was also in a special choir that sang at Junior Church, Wylie Chapel Choir during second service which was supposed to be an honour to be asked to be in but most of us were choir brats whose parents were in the main choir, The Cathedral choir. There was also a High School choir and a choir that was a mix of people not good enough to be in Cathedral Choir and college kids that I skipped called the Chancel Choir and got into Cathedral Choir after High School and I was in the Sunday night choir called the Happening, (hey it was the 70s.) and we got to sing more modern music. We also had a bell choir for each age group and I was in those along with my brother and eventually my sister.

We started Sunday School at 2 years of age and started learning the Bible and memorizing to for awards, a Bible in third grade, filling up shields with memorized passages, (they were shields because they represented the armour of God). This why the holy rollers and Bible beaters can’t get far with me because I usually know the Bible better than they do. I was in Church every Sunday and at Bible Study during the week when I was older. We took catechism in 7th grade to become members of the church and that was the first big time I was aware that maybe I didn’t fit in. I had feelings before this about it. I had difficulty memorizing and Saturday nights before I had to recite some new thing were absolute torture, if I couldn’t sing it I had real trouble remembering  it. I felt really bad about it. I was told I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The year I joined the church I had to make some decisions. At the time I was dad’s punching bag when he got mad and I decided to tell the Elder that interviewed us to join about it and I did and I was told to honour my father and mother in all things. So I made my first act of rebellion. I refused to get baptized when I joined the church. Presbyterians dedicate their babies to raise them in the church and you are supposed to be baptized when you join the church. I told my parents it was because I didn’t want to get up in front of the church which shouldn’t have made any sense since we had to be in the front of the church to join and I was in front all the time when I was in choir and when I did other things but they bought it, even though my best friend was doing it.

My Dad was Head Usher, he was an Elder, he had been a Deacon. He had status in church and I did not. My mom was in Cathedral Choir, and was at one point, President of the Women’s Auxillary, She was President of Elder’s Wives and when women were allowed to be Deacons and Elders she became a Deacon. Wives and husbands couldn’t be Elders or Deacons at the same time. They were in their adult Sunday School classes. Mom was also the Executive Secretary for the Minister of Music. She had status.

We were in church at least 3 days a week, usually more. The only respite I got was summer when I was with my grandparents who for some reason did not go in the summer. That was when we took trips to be in nature. That was when I became a sponge to what my grandmother was teaching about nature and faeries and family stories. That was when I was free.

About 7th grade I became aware that I liked girls way more than the girls around me who liked boys. So not only did what they were teaching in church make me in uncomfortable but the only kind of church I felt at home in was when we went to camp.

They sent us to some conference where the minister yelled about the evils of holding hands and kissing boys and I felt relieved because I had no desire to do it anyway.

I would sit in Sunday School and make up questions to ask my Sunday School teachers. Miss Pringle was our 7th grade Sunday School teacher. She was older than God and had no business teaching a bunch of 12 year olds in the late 1960s. We were smarter than her and we knew it. I remember asking why is was okay for Mary to be an unwed mother and not us? She freaked out at the question and scolded all of us. This was on my mind because my mother has started going on about being an unwed mother and that it would be the worst thing in the world if I did that. Since I didn’t like boys, I found it amusing.

But I was feeling more and more alienated and out of place and the feeling only grew as I got older. No one ever told me there was such a thing as lesbians and this was pre-Stonewall. I only ever heard about gay men and how it was so sad about them being “HOMOSEXUALS” even though I could see Jim in my mom’s choir was anything but sad and I loved him because he was always encouraging me to try new things like design needlework patterns. He loved to needlepoint and at the time I did a lot of it too.

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Poetry Month – Who is the Goddess?

The Goddess is dark and beautiful with knowing eyes.

The Goddess is old and walks with a cane.

The Goddess is the colour of rich cream and is surrounded by art.

The Goddess is the colour of brick dust and watches over the flocks surrounded by no one.

The Goddess is pink, flushed from a race.

The Goddess is pale and sits alone in the dark.

The Goddess is small and wizened with dark eyes.

The Goddess is round and strong with muscular arms from hard work.

The Goddess is thin and ill and labours to breathe for it is work.

The Goddess stands with arms out blessing her gardens and fields.

The Goddess is dying in her bed surrounded by ones who love her.

The Goddess dies alone on a dirty street ignored with the trash.

The Goddess cries at injustice and pain and abuse.

The Goddess walks strongly on mountain path leading children of all shapes sizes and colours.

The Goddess follows behind and hopes she makes a difference.

The Goddess is in everyone of us.

The Goddess looks like us.

The Goddess is in the mirror.

Listen to her.

©2014 Kat Robb

Druids in LA

Okay, trying to get back on track with my proposed gathering of LA Druids. I got derailed by personal events but I still want to have a gathering of Druids of all the organization and like-minded individuals. I know there are ADF and OBOD people and obviously DCD people here. I’ll bet there are others hiding in the LA shrubbery.

I’m thinking of Franklin Canyon which is the geographical center of LA and has a nature center and an amphitheater and lots of nature trails or Sepulveda Basin Amphitheater which also has nature trails available and I think April 22, 2016 would be great since it’s Earth Day weekend. It would be fun to do a clean up or service project too while we are there.

I’m hoping we can get at least 50 people and if it works continue it every year. We could use the amphitheater for a few presentations and get to know one another in a wonderful outdoor setting that’s pretty central to all of LA. If I can’t get those maybe I can rent a Scout House that weekend or go to some place like Chilao Nature Center up Angeles Crest or out at one of the other sites like Arcadia Wilderness Park.

I think if we have a shareable picnic feast and have everyone bring something to share and sample, we have people do that with TOILA rituals and we always get a wide variety for people to eat and people with allergies can bring what they need to eat and still eat and network with other Druids. And if it gets hot in the afternoon we can have a Bard sharing corner where people can be quiet and not be too active in the heat.

Anyway that is sort of the idea, I’m tossing around right now. If it works we can always grow.

A new Littlest Druid story – The Littlest Druid creates

Aisling watched the rain fall outside the stone window and expected that this was going to be a long day. It was a soft rain but steady and since it was just another day in a long line of rainy days. She sighed.

She supposed she could work on the piece she had been trying to write. It was almost La Fheil Brighde and she had been trying to write a new hymn to Brighid. It was the first time in almost a year she had been back to the village since she had been consecrated a Bard.

It had been a wonderful year but a lonely one. She had told all the stories she had learned. Learned some new ones along the way. Sung some songs and walked long distances alone except for sheep and a few wild deer she had been lucky enough to chat with along the way but now she was home for a rest and to celebrate Brighid’s day.

She wondered if Brighid was going to appear at the ritual. Here Aisling was one of many and the newest Bard still so she wouldn’t be part of the ritual unless she could come up with a good enough piece to please the Chief Druid and the Head Bard. The Head Bard had never forgiven her for her raven’s thievery so it was always hard to impress him.

She had a tune that kept circling her brain like her raven drifted in the sky but it wouldn’t settle in or enlighten her with the words that were supposed to go with it. She supposed she could go get one of the smelly sheep skins and wrap herself up in and find it but that had never worked well for her. All she could think about was the poor old sheep it had come from and they stunk. Sheep’s wool was still itchy on or off the sheep. She wondered if sheep itched from their wool but probably not and she couldn’t really ask them and get a good answer.

She decided to take a walk in the rain, maybe that would shake something loose. She grabbed her cloak and her carved staff which had gathered more carvings when she had been away and her bag with her whistle and started on the path out of the village to their standing stones. She could hear the sheep in the fold moving around and knew they would be out on the hills soon and giving birth. She wondered if her favourite ewe was pregnant again, she was an old friend.

It was too wet for the raven to be out and about so she walked alone up the hill. She pulled out the whistle and started to play the tune that was swirling in and out. It was lilting and she could almost hear the words but they were just out of her reach. She reached the circle of stones and sat with her back against one. Somehow these stones were always comforting. She could see the first snowdrops blooming on the hill behind the stones and she started to sing.

Spring comes and brings the lambs
Brighid comes and wakes our land
From darkest night to the coming of day
The light returns after darkest day

I sing of healing
I sing of new life
I sing of love and the return of the light

We are inspired and live to create
We use our hands, wonderous things to make
From nothing they come, to use they go
The coming of spring after winter’s snow

I sing of healing
I sing of new life
I sing of love and the return of the light

I sing of her guidance and the sense of peace
I sing of her patience while I try to create
I sing of inspiration and the raising of hope
I sing of her flame we keep in the grove

Brighid, I welcome you at the start of your day
Please guide me with your flames to light my way
Inspire me, create me a new every day
Forge me and make a flame for a day

I sing of healing
I sing of new life
I sing of love and the return of the light.

“Thank you.” a voice behind Aisling’s stone said and Aisling turned around quickly. Brighid was standing there in her beautiful green cloak and dress.

“You heard it?” Aisling finally squeaked out.

“Every word and note.” Brighid laughed softly. “It’s lovely and you had better share it.” She said with a twinkle. “Aisling, I thank you for honouring me with it. Blessings of the day, dear one” and she was gone.

Aisling shivered to herself. Brighid had liked it! That ought to be enough for the Head Bard but most of all it was enough for her. She settled back against the stone after tugging her hood back down on her curls. It was going to be a wonderous day.

The Littlest Druid celebrates Lughnasad

Once upon a time the Littlest Druid got an idea. She wanted to do something special for the feast of Lughnasadh. Her teacher had told them all about Lugh and his feast day. She knew it was a feast of thanksgiving to celebrate the first harvest of grain of the year. It had been a good long and warm summer so the corn and barley had grown strong and tall in the fields. That meant people would have bread for the year and ale to drink on cold winter nights.

 
Her teacher had told them about the Lugh, the long arm, whose face was as bright as the sun. She had told them he was a wright, a smith, a champion, a horseman, a hero. He was also a swordsman, a harpist, a poet, a historian, a craftsman and a sorcerer. She thought he might be kind of scary and she wasn’t good at anything.

 
Her teacher told them that at the feast all the adults would get up and share some creation that they had made that year to honour Lugh. Aisling decided she wanted to share something too, but what? She wouldn’t be old enough to share for a lot more years but she really wanted to. She was always messing up and she wanted to show the grown up Druids that she was good at something. She really wanted to do it for the Chief Druid. He was always so nice to her when he didn’t have to be. He could have sent her home long ago but he hadn’t. He truly believed she would be a good Druid some day. Aisling had no idea why he believed it but he had told her so on one of their many talks after she had messed up again… So Aisling decided to see what she could share.

 
She visited the spinners and weavers and asked to help but her thread was lumpy and rather grey looking when she was done. Not every good at all. The head Weaver kindly said she could use it to make burlap sacking and Aisling left the weaving barn.
Next she decided to observe the Smith from outside the Smithy. It was really interesting to watch him shoe the big horses but as the Smith was banging a horseshoe into shape a piece of hot iron flew off and landed all the way outside and on Aisling’s  bare foot. She went hopping and howling around for a few moments while the Smith howled himself with laughter. She decided she wasn’t cut out to be a Smith.

 
She went to the tanner and the leather workers but that barn just stunk so much. How did they stand it? They must have lost their senses of smell. Peeewwwwoooooeeeeee.

 
She went and listened to the Bards practice. She wouldn’t begin to study with them until next year so she was curious about what happened so she spied through the window in their cottage. Three of them were lying with their eyes closed and wrapped in sheep skins. She thought that looked rather hot in this summer weather. While she was sitting there a drowsy bee came along and Aisling swatted at it absentmindedly and got stung in her bum by the mad bumblebee. This woke up the drowsing Druids who were trying to compose their poems and all three of them ran out to chase her away.

 
By now she was getting desperate. She was never going to have anything to share and everyone would keep thinking she was bad at everything. She took herself off to the sheep field. She thought she’d talk to the sheep and the sheep dogs. She had become friends with the sheep after she had sat with them at Brighid and this was where she came now when she wanted to unload her burdens.

 
She trudged out to the pasture. She knew the Druid shepherds were probably napping in the sheep fold. They were older Druids who still liked to be useful but now needed an afternoon nap after lunch. They always told her they weren’t asleep when she woke them up accidently. They were just studying the wonderful colours inside their eyelids and getting ideas for art work. Aisling doubted this because there was snoring coming from the sheep fold and she never saw any sign of an art work back in the village.

 
She climbed the hill and sat next to her favourite mama ewe. The ewe came over and butted her gently and her lamb crawled into Aisling’s lap although it was getting a bit big for that.

 
“What am I going to do?” She said to the drowsing ewe and lamb. “I really want to show the Chief Druid I’m good at something. And I want a gift to offer at the feast tomorrow.” She sat hunched over in a dismal lump. She knew if she sat that way in class her teacher would tell her to sit up straight but out here there was no one but the ewe to tell her so, so she didn’t.

 

“You there! Sit up.”

 
Aisling sat bolt upright. Who was that? She looked around and from the west where the sun was beginning to set came the shape of a man. She couldn’t see him clearly because the sun was behind him. All she could see was his shape.

 
“Who are you?” asked Aisling as the man came and sat down beside her. He was tall with very golden hair and a smile that made Aisling want to smile.

 
“Why so glum?” The man asked. “Isn’t tonight the big feast? I would think you would be excited to celebrate the feast. I hear the sharing afterwards is going to be really good this year.” He picked up a piece of grass and started to use it as a whistle.

 
“I wanted to share this year. I wanted to do something for the Chief Druid.” Aisling said quietly, “but I’m not good at anything I try. I just make messes of things.”

 
“Well, this lamb seems to like you a lot and this ewe doesn’t seem to think you are bad at anything. She doesn’t usually make friends of people.”

 
“How do you know that?” Aisling asked suspiciously. Only two people knew why this sheep liked her and one was a goddess. Of course, he could have been a friend of the Chief Druid, he knew but she didn’t think he had told anyone.
”Can you sing?” asked the man.

 
“The teacher says I can but that I need to grow some.”

 
“Well then, let’s write you a song.” The man laughed like that was the easiest thing in the world but she had just seen the Bards and they hadn’t made it look easy. Aisling looked at him doubtfully. He was kind of muscle bound for one of the creative types but she’d seen stranger things like stones dancing so who knew?

 
He started to hum a really pretty tune with his blade of grass. “Hum that back to me.” The man said so she did.

 
“Very good. Now what do you want to say?”

 
“I wanted it to say thanks for all our blessings, for the clean air and the clean streams, for all the people who make our food. I want to say thanks for being alive and being able to dance and sing. I really want to say thank you.”

 
The man nodded, “All great things, how about this,” and the two of them sat together and wrote a thanksgiving song for her to sing. It was almost time for the feast and the man indicated with a nod toward the village that it was time to go. Aisling grabbed his hand and they walked toward the village. Aisling was so excited she had something to share that it didn’t occur to her she still didn’t know the man’s name.
Aisling walked into the banquet hall and everyone became quiet and stared. This made her panic. She was in her best tunic and trews and she knew she was still clean. Maybe she had a grass stain she didn’t know about. Then she realized they were staring at the man who was holding her hand.

 
“I came to celebrate with you. Is there room?” the man boomed into the banquet hall. The Chief Druid came over to them and made a place at the head table for both of them. Guests were always honoured so Aisling didn’t think it was that unusual. She couldn’t figure out why the Chief Druid hadn’t sent her to sit with her teacher but she knew he liked her and assumed she was there because she brought the guest.
The supper started and all the good smelling foods were brought out and everyone ate and forgot about the stranger Aisling had brought to dinner. They were enjoying the foods and their friends and the rewards of their labours.

 
Soon it was time for the sharing and the tables were put away and everyone made themselves comfortable. The stranger stood up.

 
“We have a sharing!” He brought out the blade of grass and pulled Aisling up beside him.

 
“Aisling and I have a song to share to thank you for this wonderful feast.”
He started the pretty tune and Aisling started to sing with her eyes closed the song that they had written together. She didn’t see him start to shine nor did she see the shock on the older Druids faces. She just sang her heart out until the end of the song and the tune stopped. She opened her eyes and looked up at her new friend and her mouth dropped open. She knew who he was now. She had brought Lugh to his own feast! She’d done it again!

 
Lugh looked down at her. “Never be afraid that being friendly or kind is a bad thing.”
Lugh marched to the center of the gathering and grabbed a horn full of new beer from an astonished Druid. He shouted, “Slainte’”, took a deep drink and walked out the door and disappeared.
Aisling sat down with a bump and looked at the Chief Druid. He looked down at her kindly, “You make friends of the most interesting people,” and just started to laugh as he hugged her. “You do just fine.”