Summer Solstice Celebration – Silver Birch Grove (ADF)

Last month I attended the Australian ADF’s local Summer Solstice celebration run by the Silver Birch Grove (https://www.adf.org/core/index.html).   It was my second druidic ritual run by Shazbeth and her grove and I was yet again impressed and inspired.

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The connections I make during the rites have refreshed my love of the land, earth magick and the attendees are warm and genuinely nice people.  Whilst I appreciate and respect this path which isn’t my own, it’s nevertheless filled with a majestic reverence which manifests as beautiful magick – externally and internally.   It’s also wonderful to attend a free public ritual (where I am not hosting it) where the facilitators are extremely organised, timely, informative, caring and show a genuine love, duty of care and devotion to the tradition and attendees.

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The day was a muggy yet wet one.  We gathered in the cleared circle beneath the natural canopy of native trees which protected us from the rain.  All fell silent and the rain ceased as Shaz commenced the ritual.  Shaz had written it and once more I was inspired by the exquisite use of words and gestures of it along with the other main Druids participation and enactments (Ang and Callum).  I felt the pulsing magick come up through the earth as well as flow down upon me from the sky as the rite progressed.  Once more I could sense my ancestors watching a short distance away as well as Hekate just outside the boundary in the NW.

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The rite itself consisted of praise to the Kindreds, Ancestors, Spirits of Place and of course Deity (Manannan mac Lir, Brighid, Dagda).  The ritual included establishing and closing the sacred grove, offerings upon the altar, fire/hearth and earth, songs sung, hymns recited, the gates between the worlds opened and closed, meditations and divinations completed and the partaking of libations.

I had made a soy lavender candle I had brought as an offering and Shaz placed it in the centre of the alar and it was lit during the ritual.  I absolutely adored that during the rite the poem “My Country” by Dorothy Mackellar was read out and this resonated with me very strongly.  I feel it was a great tribute to Australia and the land we live in during the ritual as its often forgotten about when most of our paths are of a northern origin. Also something I noted which I found amusing was as soon as ritual had ended it started to rain, yet it had stayed away whilst the rest of the time.  That just emphasizes once again how magickal working with spirit outdoors with the land is and how magick does work.

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The way the ritual is run, is that we have feasting afterwards.  This time we brought some ham and bread rolls with several dips and some choc biscuits.  Everyone shares and it’s so lovely to be able to sit and have a picnic underneath the shade of wattle and gum trees, whilst listening to the rustle of the stream and native wildlife surrounding you.

Thank you Silver Birch Grove!

 

Beltaine Celebration – Silver Birch Grove (ADF)

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This past Sunday I attended the Australian ADF’s local Beltaine celebration run by the Silver Birch Grove (https://www.adf.org/core/index.html).   It was my first druidic ritual run by Shazbeth and her grove and I was so impressed.  The attendees were friendly as were the facilitators who were organised, open and explained the ritual with handouts provided, which made me feel safe and welcome.

The sounds of the local wildlife and the natural landscape provided a beautiful backdrop score as we gathered in reverence within a liminal place, underneath a natural canopy of native trees and flanked by a stream.

Shazbeith had written the rite and her eloquent words, songs and actions along with some other members of the grove, connected me to the energies of the natural flow of the festival, as well as the environmental surroundings.

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The rite itself consisted of honour and veneration to the to the Gods/Goddesses (Manannan mac Lir & Danu), Ancestors and Spirits of Place as well as libations, singing of prayers/chants/hymns, divination, offerings and partaking of the oblation.

I felt and saw the devas of the land surrounding me and I experienced the power raised as it resonated through the sacred space.  I sensed some of my own ancestors watching from just beyond the clearing in the north west as well as one of my own patrons (Hekate).

Throughout the celebratory rite it felt familiar – true there were similarities with the way the prayers and libations were performed with my personal Hellenic practise but it was something more than that…it was the reverence and connection to nature whilst also acknowledging those who came before us and the gods who are ever watchful and present in our lives.

After the rite, we all enjoyed a picnic where we shared what we had brought with one another surrounded by wild herbs, flowers, grasses and trees which was uniquely Australian and picturesque.

Thank you Shaz and members of the Silver Birch Grove!

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Bellydance for Body, Mind, Spirit and Emotion

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Last month I attended the 17th Annual Kismet Bazaar which fell during southern hemisphere spring equinox.  In the past I have only attended the market and performances but this time I decided to also indulge in a workshop on Egyptian Elegance which included classical Egyptian choreography.  I felt so good afterwards I was reminded of the short piece I wrote on the benefits of Bellydance…..

Bellydance is one of the oldest types of dance in existence which focuses on isolated yet flowing movements through various parts of the body.  This results in the sensual current of energetic emotion being moulded into a work of artistic expression physically.

Bellydance has given me the confidence to accept myself and my body and connect with it in a loving and honourable way.  It’s taught me that every woman is a reflection of the Goddess and that we have the confidence and drive within to move forward and tackle any obstacle before us.

After suffering an injury recently which healed twice as fast as normal due to the fact I regularly Bellydance, I realised that this wonderful dance works on balancing your body, mind, spirit and emotions and therefore is quite a wholistic modality which allows healing, learning and growing.

BODY

Bellydance contains naturally fluid movements which work with the female body’s regular dispositions. Due to this, Bellydance strengthens the core, joints and ligaments, tones the muscles, straightens the spine, leads to better developed balance and co-ordination, improves flexibility in a painless and safe manner and improves the digestive system. Repetitive movements found within Bellydance can improve circulation and breath and corrects stiffness which occurs with a predominate sedentary lifestyle.  Even if you only dance for an hour a week, it can severely enhance your cardiovascular capacity and when practiced more often can increase lung capacity.  Your body changes after continued practice of Bellydance and this is due to the fact it’s a weight baring exercise which assists in weight loss, strengthens your bones and shapes your body into its natural graceful state of shape. Bellydance also strengthens the pelvic floor muscle since its predominately used, therefore it can assist with pms, sexual relations and childbirth. This style of dance can also be useful as a rehabilitative exercise as it’s a gentle way of working through an injury when you have received the go ahead to get back into physical workouts.

MIND

Bellydance contains alternating movements, routines and music which regularly allows a change in scenery.  Mixing things up in this way has many mental health benefits as it allows you to enjoy yourself in a pressure free environment. Bellydance is fun and learning it with a within a group environment can not only can elevate you but opens you up to making connections with others. The rhythmic and accompanying movements in Bellydance can also calm and centre you which allows relaxation.  Bellydance also causes stress reduction through stimulating yet soothing the mind as well as the increase of happiness and joy due to being involved in something uplifting. Building your self esteem through the feeling of being liberated through Bellydance is attained as well as connecting to yourself through thoughtful and loving self-discovery.

SPIRIT

Bellydance is a creative outlet which allows a woman to connect to her feminine nature and her natural cycles of her body which is a manifestation of the Goddess within her. Since Bellydance is a ritualised physical and emotional expression it opens one’s ability to honour and connect with deity in a most profound and beautiful way.  This connection has been used for millennia as performances of Bellydance have occurred throughout the ages during various celebrations which includes faith/religious ceremonies, coming of age ceremonies, weddings and fertility rites.

EMOTION

Bellydance allows you to express your emotions through dance and dancing out your stressors is a great way to work through them.  It also helps you forget about your problems and allows you to let things go due to being in the moment with the dance, as quite frankly you just don’t have the time to worry about anything else.  Bellydance can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety and can enable the sensation of feeling sexy in one’s skin. This style of dance also helps improve body confidence and assurance of one self and accompanying abilities which inspire freedom of expression through a sense of inner strength.

Bellydance has brought me many personal benefits and I am grateful for the body, mind, spirit and emotional benefits I have harvested over the years of dancing this path. As always please see your GP before embarking on a new exercise regime and remember that inside every woman is a Goddess and Bellydance is a great way to honour the Goddess inside and outside of yourself.

© T. Georgitsis 2013 (article which appeared in Goddess Guru, 2013, Issue 11)