Journeys: Thoughts from a Druid Path

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Reflection on Texas Imbolc


For the fourth year, I was privileged to attend Hearthstone Grove’s Texas Imbolc Festival, located at a UU facility between San Antonio and Austin, Texas. This three day gathering is the first festival of the season and it is a great way to get in the swing of Pagan Prides, Retreats, annual Meetings, and Festivals.


                Coming from the Midwest, having days in the 70s and nights in the 40s is fairly pleasant for February. The facility has two new and modern bunkhouses with comfortable beds and excellent shower and bathroom facilities. The food service is provided by on-site staff and it is good and vegetarian options are available.


                Workshops were presented by a list of well-versed presenters: ADF’s Rev. Carrion Mann presented a workshop entitled “Death, Dying, and Working with the Dead”, and I presented one entitled “Pagan Bardic Pursuits”, which I will discuss a little later. Fellow Druid John Beckett presented the “Dark Side of Druidry”, Lauren Neuman offered “Exploring Pagan Discernment”, Chopper Whitewolf continued last year’s “Being a Modern Warrior” discussion and Carly McNamara taught a workshop on “Devotion of Scholarship”. These were all excellent presentations offered in an informal style with plenty of room for questions and answers.


                One of the really powerful activities of any gathering such as Texas Imbolc is the opportunity to experience various types of rituals which were readily available. Nine Waves Protogrove presented the opening rite on Friday night, which was in ADF Core Order of Ritual style. It is always nice to have a ritual in day light and it set a very positive tone for the rest of the evening. Offerings were made to the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones, and a final sacrifice, as always, was made to the Kindreds. The omen revealed a positive reception of the offerings and sacrifice and all was well for Friday.


                Saturday evening’s Rite for Brighid was truly beautiful. Gathered under a clear, Texas sunset, the ritual commenced with offerings to Brighid to celebrate the Fire Festival of Imbolc, signaling the lengthening of days as we move towards the Vernal Equinox. It is a time when the ewes begin lactating (in Western Europe) and is a festival that was sacred to Brighid. Each individual was encouraged to step forward to make offering and I delivered the Prayer of Sacrifice, utlising a bottle of Jim Beam’s Jacob’s Ghost whiskey. Finally, as an extension of the Final Sacrifice, a Brighid’s Cross from Whispering Lake Grove in Erie, Pennsylvania (brought by Carrion Mann) and an effigy from Hearthstone Grove were offered to the fire. It was an AMAZAING fire! The singing and dancing around the fire raised the intensity to a fever pitch and the ritual hummed through to a bright and exuberant conclusion.


                One of the most beautiful points of the weekend came when we went out into the scrub land surrounding the site for an impromptu ritual by Scott Hillsman. Scott uses his own ritual style which was really beautiful. It was so nice to sit in the warm sun, buffeted by a warm breeze, and to watch Scott do his work. The material that he used was impromptu and the words he spoke heartfelt. It was beauty in simplicity and it left me energized for the rest of the afternoon.


(Photograph by John Beckett)


                My workshop was to introduce people to the various methodologies that one might find listed as “Bardic”. One does not need to be a poet or a singer or a comic to be able to use the Bardic arts to create devotionals. Bardic works do not have to rhyme; they only need to convey a message to the entities, be they Ancestors, Nature Spirits, or Shining Ones of your heart and hearth. Everyone wrote a small devotional and some brave souls read theirs to the rest of the workshop. Some described their existing practices, others presented short pieces and a beginning to what may become their devotional practice. I talked about my working devotional to my Lares, my household spirits. All in all, I think people went away with a starting point from which to launch into devotional workings.


                After the workshop completed and as I was cleaning up the pencils and papers that were provided, I noticed that several people had left bardic pieces behind. I posted one on Facebook (at Jon Drum), I posted another on Twitter (at Drum ADF), and I will post the final one here. I found them all very beautiful and additionally, they were all unsigned. So, dear friends, I leave you with an inspired and anonymous bardic offering, from Texas; from Imbolc:

“Thank you for another day

“The strength to fight and stay

“I ask for wisdom and endurance

“And compassion to put

“Forth the energy to hold

“True what is right for

“All living beings”


May it be so.










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I am a long-time pagan and charter member of ADF, Ar nDraoicht Fein, a Druid Fellowship. I am a Senior Priest in as well as the Arch Druid of ADF. I am a Druid of the Third Order, RDNA; Druid Grade, OBOD; and a Second Degree Druid Companion in AODA. I love Druidry!  


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