Archdruid Blog

Hello, Fellow Druids! Our ADF General Elections have just come to a close and I want to thank each and every one of our members who voted for taking part in the process of building ADF. Each vote matters and some races were very close. With this election, we will see some new faces in some positions and some familiar faces in others. We thank the people who put themselves out in the election as candidates. While not everyone was a winner, each candidate received the votes and approval of a number of members. On the Mother Grove, we will have a number of people remaining and we will have one person leaving and another joining. For Rev. Caryn MacLuan, I want to thank you for your wisdom and service in your time on the Mother Grove. I have grown to admire you even more and I appreciate the help you have given to the Mother Grove, to ADF, and to myself. For Julie Desrosiers, our incoming Non-Officer Director, we will once again have an International member of the Mother Grove from Canada and we look forward to your place among us. Service is a gift we give others and I want to thank all of the people in all of the positions, old and new, for continuing their service to not only ADF, but to the Earth Mother, the Kindreds, and Isaac’s Vision as we move into the future, fast as a speeding oak. Blessings, Rev. Jean (Drum) Pagano Archdruid, ADF  
When something really special happens, I usually make offerings. I wouldn't call it superstition, I would call it thankfulness. To some people, ADF is a North American phenomenon, an American phenomenon. It really is much more. The desire and ability to reach out to our members wherever they may be has been a foundation of my practice as Archdruid. Part of Isaac's Vision is to have indoor temples/sacred groves throughout North America and Europe. I saw in Australia two years ago and in Brazil last year that ADF has not only members, but places of worship in more than just those two continents. In fact, ADF has members on six continents, with Groves and Protogroves on four of those six continents. We are not just an American phenomenon. Last year, I was fortunate enough to Ordain our first Canadian priest coming out of our new Clergy Training Program. Our Clergy once again extended past the boundaries of the United States and we Ordained a remarkable priest by the name of Rev. Lisa Wasilkowsky Malik. This Training Program is also a part of Isaac's Vison, namely to create a professional clergy training program equal in difficulty and superior in results to anything done by the world's other religions. We like to believe that the program is demanding and more importantly, that it is verifiable. Just this month, ADF passed a milestone: we approved our first European priest, Rev. Elizabeth (Ellie) Schibli-Lazzaro, our European Regional Druid and the leader of one of our German Protogroves, Adrana ProtoHain. Ellie has worked hard on a program that is not in her native language and has done exceptionally well. She has helped to translate a number of ADF documents and pages into German. This is not an insignificant event. Our founder, Isaac Bonewits, had envisioned the global reach of ADF. The ordination at Three Rivers festival in Canada last year and this ordination in Germany demonstrates that ADF has an appeal abroad. It shows that our belief in reciprocity and our virtues strike  a chord with people everywhere. It is one thing to start a Grove or a Protogrove in ADF. People who run these organizations spend a lot of time in planning, reporting, and executing the necessary functions of these groups. Ritual planning is not trivial, getting the word out to nearby individuals is not always easy, and introducing a concept like ADF to individuals in a different country or another continent takes a certain amount of vision, which just happens to be one of our virtues. As part of their ordination package, we require applicants to send us a video of them doing a full Core Order of Ritual rite, which is the standard presentation for ADF Druids, especially for High Days. For all of our previous ordination candidates, the rituals were presented to us in English. Since Ellie is German, I asked her to present her ordination video in German, because I wanted us to see exactly what her protogrove members see when she does ritual. Ellie presented us a video in German, with an accompanying translation so that we could follow along. It was a powerful experience to see the Core Order of Ritual expertly performed in a foreign language. I have been fortunate enough to have had this experience in Brazil last year, but in this way, all of the Clergy Council officers were able to see this event for themselves. It really brought home the understanding that we have moved far from our own borders and boundaries into a new world, an expansion of the vision that we all follow. I will be ordaining Ellie in June in Germany. I look forward to this opportunity to expand our clergy onto a new continent and I am hopeful that this will encourage others, not only In North America and Europe to seek the Clergy, but also in Australia, South America, Africa, and Asia to expand the vision even further. Assuredly, people do not need to be priests to expand the vision of international practice, but in order to fulfill the "create a professional clergy training program equal in difficulty and superior in results to anything done by the world's other religions", they do. I am proud of all of our priests and for the work that they have done and continue to do, but I am especially proud of our newest priest for expanding our practice across an ocean, across a linguistic divide, and into a new paradigm and understanding. I am proud of Ellie for being such a pioneer. ADF gained a new priest just now, but, in another way, we grew up a little today, and it feels like a new day. To all of those, human, Ancestor, Spirit of Nature, Shining Ones, and Earth Mother, for this blessing, Accept Our Offering.  
There is an ogham called "Tinne" that is associated with the Holly tree in the Colin Murray system. This ogham is located right in the middle of the fifteen ogham consonants: B-L-F-S-N-H-D-T-C-Q-M-G-nG-Z-R. For this reason, I always tend to associate Tinne with a balance point, a place right in the middle, a location in between. The equinoxes are a "Tinne" type of event for me. The days and nights are balance across the equator, and I like to believe that there is this fine line, this separate moment at which point all is in balance and then the world either moves towards longer days or longer nights. Wait! It happens at the same time! In addition, as one side moves to greater light and one side moves to greater night, it is done so in balance. The concept of the Wheel of the Year, while valid for a given location doesn't really seem valid on a global sense. We see the world through a very local lens, but, as modern pagans, we must be cognizant of a more global view. We may have our local Earth Mothers - as our ancestors did - but the Earth Mother extends everywhere. The famous image of the view of the Earth from the Moon really drove this point home. Our Earth is a world in motion. Since the world is in motion, I do not believe that a two-dimensional wheel properly describes the scenario of the seasons. It isn't just the calendar dates that move; the winds move over the surface of our world; the seasons express themselves in varying and different ways through the crust of the Earth; the waters that travel the surface of our world are always in motion, such as rivers and streams and ocean currents; the still waters, be they lake or pond or bog are also in flux due to evaporation. The waters deep in the Earth, the underground waters that flow as the lifeblood of the Earth Mother, past the Ancestors, through the caverns deep in the Earth, are constantly in motion. The molten core of the Earth is also in motion and moves to points of expression throughout the surface of our world. I am not sure how one would describe this kind of motion, but it isn't a simple spin of a wheel. It is more like perpetual motion with intent and spirit behind it. It is motion that expresses itself in many ways and in many directions yet, when matched against the calendar, this constancy of motion does move in a linear path through the year with opposite events set apart across the equator. As the days get longer, the nights get equally longer on the other side of the equator until the Sun seems to stop on the Solstices and the motion turns around. The days and nights then move towards a balance which is achieved at the equinoxes and then the cycles continue. Here we have the movement of the various streams over, on, and under the Earth set upon a backdrop of the Earth's own movement through the solar system. Tinne is the balance point. I like to think that for one brief and fleeting moment, all of the Earth and the seasons are balanced like a cosmic dance which never ends, is always in motion, and pauses just ever so slightly, when music and motion and constancy stop only to enter into motion once again.  
My festival season is most of the year. I attend festivals representing ADF from February through November and it is a task I gladly undertake and enjoy. This year, I looked forward to attending, once again, Hearthstone Grove's Texas Imbolc Retreat, held at the U-Bar-U Ranch in the Texas Hill Country near Kerrville. I flew into San Antonio because it is the closest airport to Texas Imbolc and it is a smaller, cozier airport. I landed, picked up a rental car, and headed out on the road. I arrived at the turnoff a little over an hour later and the journey began. The road to the U-Bar-U is very, very hilly and some parts must be taken with caution. Going down these roads too quickly would cause a person to bottom out and to most likely incur some damages along the way. I took my time, I watched the scenery, and I slowly started to relax into the serenity of the land. This view outside of my window was dry and arid, with many rocks and goats and gnarled trees along the way. The spaces between places were wide and vast and almost empty. I followed the road until it ended and then took a left turn. I followed the slow, rocky path to the U-Bar-U ranch and my adventure began. When I first attended this festival - five years ago, I believe - there was no bunkhouse. There were two large rooms with bunk beds in the lodge proper and everybody slept in one or the other. It was very "cozy", but not very private.  Two years ago, a new bunkhouse opened that is just beautiful and that has modern facilities and fewer people per room than before. The design of the bunkhouses is such that it blends fairly well with the local scenery and is in no way an eyesore. The first thing I always notice upon arrive is the stillness of the land. There is often a breeze that blows, but it is more like a whisper than a shout. There is a beautiful stone fire pit and there was already a fire burning when I arrived. I was greeted warmly upon arrival - as always and as everyone is. I saw many familiar faces: the Hearthstone Grove, the Nine Waves Grove, and the Blackland Prairie Protogrove, even the faces of the U-Bar-U staff were familiar. I saw John Beckett, ADF members, mystic Old Testament Christians, Wiccans, heathens, and a wonderful cross-section of folks and friends. While this is distinctly an ADF festival, it really is a lot broader than just that. Or perhaps ADF is broader than just that. The opening rite was a great way to start a festival. Nine Waves Grove gave us a ritual to remember: well executed, effective, and welcoming. I was very impressed. It was a good omen for the weekend to come.There was a really interesting and beautiful Slavic Ritual that wasn't ADF Core Order, but it was it was nice to see something quite different from what I have experienced before. At one point in the ritual, an apple was passed from person-to-person, touched to the next person's forehead, and then passed along. I thought that was a gentle way to share a sense of community. This was the story of the weekend. An easy information flow from presenter to audience with a sincere desire to inform, to entertain, and to help. The food was good, the company was better, the weather was so pleasant, and people came together and shared. Isn't this what festival is about? The original festival movement in the latter part of the previous century was centered around the exchange of information and the joyful discovery that there were other people out there that not only had the same interests as other people, but a similarity of practice as well. This weekend was no exception. One of the other benefits of the weekend was for people to meet face-to-face to talk. While this is not always possible, this is an ideal way to exchange thoughts and ideas that reduces the chance of misunderstanding and increases the possibilities of really communicating. It makes a difference when a person can see the other person and I hope that such encounters can continue at the U-Bar-U for years to come and that these events, more and more, can either be videotaped or broadcast live to people who did not have the ability to attend. The Core Order of Ritual was the structure used for the opening, main, and closing rituals. As I have noticed time and time again, the Core Order is broad enough to allow people from different traditions to worship together while allowing room for individual expression and tailoring, especially in the personal offering and workings section of the ritual. The Pre-Ritual Briefing remains a powerful tool in helping people to know what to expect and to understand any local variations that might occur. I want to thank everyone who attended for their attentiveness in the workshops, rituals, and general times of sharing. The weekend passed by all too quickly with a minimal amount of drama and a great deal of understanding and patience. I spent a lot of times outdoors at this festival, relishing the beautiful weather and the land that made me feel timeless. The liminal times of the day were so still and so powerful, with that slight breeze blowing, the sound of wind through branches, and a brilliant dawn and dusk. The Full Moon was a beautiful gift to a peaceful sky, out amidst the stones and the trees. Venus shone like a bright beacon and it slid slowly towards the horizon as the night overtook the remnants of the day. I stood outside and I listened. I closed my eyes and let the Sun dance on my face and the breeze tell me stories that it had told before, would tell again, and would re-tell, even if no one was there to hear. The Hill Country moved slowly through time, and I moved slowly through them both, as though my life was Tai Chi and my religion was that dance. I felt as though I could be a tree under that sky. I would open my soul and be like a rock or a goat or better yet, a tree. The wind from the West would tell tales. And I would listen.      
The ADF Mother Grove is pleased to announce the establishment of a corporate sponsorship with American Forests. American Forests was established over 140 years ago, and they have planted over 150 million trees since 1990 alone. In fulfilling our values as an organization to honor the Earth Mother and be of service to the land, ADF will be able to make a positive impact on our environment through this partnership. To ensure the partnership is one ADF would like to continue in the long term, this trial sponsorship is entirely funded by members of the Mother Grove and will have no fiscal impact on the organization. In addition to this new sponsorship, ADF Archdruid Rev. Jean Pagan has pledged to plant a tree through American Forest for every NEW membership in 2017, starting on January 1st. As Rev. Pagano states: "The Mother Grove has decided to reach out and partner with the American Forests organization. We hope to preserve and protect the world in which we live by planting trees and supporting the Earth on which we live. American Forests believes that "together we can make a difference, one tree at a time, one acre at a time, and one forest at a time". "This is a trial sponsorship funded entirely by contributions from the Mother Grove. This is a one year trial for us to work with an environmental group that has a Charity Navigator rating of 91 and is willing and happy to partner with Ar nDraiocht Fein, a neopagan, Druidic Church. We look forward to a productive year together." For more information, please see www.americanforests.org <http://www.americanforests.org> 
The Blessings of the Earth Mother to one and all! I was fortunate again this year to be able to celebrate both Samhain and Beltaine within the same week. It is so very interesting how different the world is just across a single divide. Having travelled between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres for two years now, I have come to believe and understand that there just isn't Samhain and Beltaine, there is actually Samhain/Beltaine and the Earth Mother expresses herself as both seasons at the same time. I still find myself looking out the window here, in North America, thinking about what I saw and experienced there, in South America. I surely will never forget the beauty of the incredible scenery, rich plant life, and beautiful ocean that was just within reach. The hospitality of my hosts, the members of Fine Na Dairbre Protogrove, was something I will cherish for a long, long time. I vowed to visit members in Australia last year, which I did to coincide with the wonderful Mount Franklin Festival, and then this year to visit with our Brazilian members, at Fine Na Dairbre Protogrove. I wanted, first and foremost, to show people that ADF has many faces and that mine is one of them. I wanted people abroad to know that ADF is more than just the e-lists or the Facebook pages that bear the name "Ar nDraiocht Fein". I wanted members to understand that we truly are an international organization, an international Druid Fellowship, and most of all, an international church. While I know that some people dread the thought of a long airplane flight (14 hours LAX to Melbourne or 10 hours DFW to Sao Paolo), I have grown to view it as a rebirth in a way, from my old life in some airport in the United States to a new destination in a foreign land. Not only am I reborn into a new place, but I am reborn into a new season, a total 180 degree turn from where I was. It is probably the closest I will ever come to a Tardis. I arrived in Sao Paolo (and eventually in Curitiba - pronounced Curichiba) rather unprepared. While I had spent time studying syntax and the history of the Portuguese language, I was totally unprepared for any conversation in this language. I am fluent in French and can understand and do fairly well in Spanish), but Portuguese not only is a very different language, it sounds very different. I loved listening to the lyrical and musical quality of this beautiful language, but when I first arrived, I couldn't understand a word. I was lucky that my rather rusty Spanish was enough to get me to the right baggage area and then onto my next gate. This was all part of the rebirth-transition that was built into this trip. While I was never really able to hold a conversation in Portuguese, I did eventually arrive at the ability to understand parts of what people were saying. After a long layover and a good amount of delicious coffee, I was on the flight to Curitiba and the welcome arms of my hosts, Marina, Alessio, and Erik. What better way to arrive any where than to find smiles, open arms, and warm hearts. I knew, upon arrival, that I was blessed. We drove back to Curitiba, rather speedily by my slower, North American standards, and I was feted with delicious food and intriguing conversations. Each of my hosts spoke English and I have vowed to learn Portuguese for my next trip back there. (Yes, I will go back; yes, I must go back). Conversation quickly turn to ADF, not surprisingly, and I was asked what was next for ADF and I gave them a brief outline of my vision as an extension of Isaac's Vision. A rather long discussion ensued and after a while I decided to return the favour and ask them what they thought about ADF - a totally opened ended question. I was about to learn a few things. I was told that since we tell people that we are an international organization that we should act like one. Wow. While many of our members are from North America, we are experiencing growth in countries outside of North America. It is easy to forget that life goes on outside of our national boundaries, but it does. There are certain words and concepts that we use over and over again and we assume that everyone knows what they mean - this is not the case. Here,in some of our posts, we discuss political issues and often refer to liberals and conservatives, or left and right wings. These mean different things in different places and we need to learn to use these terms more wisely. In Australia, the Liberal Party is really the more conservative of a number of political parties and it is the Labour Party which is really more what we would call "liberal". In Brazil, left-wing denotes communist or socialist and these terms may or may not be positive terms in the ears of the listeners. The concept of "Freedom of Speech" is not a universally observed. While we take it for granted and while people here often say whatever they may please because they feel they have the right to do so, this sometimes takes people abroad a little by surprise. One suggestion that was made was to use ADF Discuss or the General Discussion ADF page to discuss general questions about ADF and not necessarily about politics or other issues that may not be of interest or germane to a foreign (or domestic) audience. While we may have pressing social issues here in America, those issues may be seen totally differently abroad or may be viewed in a broader manner such as poverty or environmental issues. I think it is important to remember context and immediacy. After all, 13% of our membership lives outside of the United States. In speaking with one of the Protogrove members, I was surprised to discover that they had let their membership lapse.. When I questioned them about it, I was told that an ADF Priest had told them that if they didn't believe in a particular way (and this was not about religion), that they shouldn't renew their membership. To say that I was flabbergasted is an understatement. I explained to this newly-renewed member that just because this person is a priest, does not indicate that they speak for the membership or leadership of ADF. No one in leadership should ever tell another member not to renew because of a difference of opinion: we are orthopraxic and not orthodoxic - we won't tell you what to believe. And, more importantly, we will never tell you not to renew. I would not consider that telling a person not to renew is a leadership statement from a priest. In fact, it is quite the opposite. As Archdruid and as a member of the Mother Grove, I apologized to them all for this particular incident. Finally, I was told that the Dedicant Manual needs a definite revision and I tend to agree. I am going to run this proposal past the Mother Grove and the ADF Preceptor for comment. I have often told people that the Dedicant program is a series of 11 assignments packaged into one large submission. I think perhaps a review of the presentation and some of the verbiage might be in order. Next in Part II: The Beltaine Rite
A Question of Balance It is not hard to sense a lack of balance in the world around us from time to time. Even close to home, balance may seem illusive and it appears, at times, as though there is an effort to unbalance things in general from the world without. It is in time like these that we look to ourselves for balance. It is when one looks within to ground and center and attempt to rediscover or to rekindle that balance. Winter and summer are an example of that balance. In one hemisphere we have the longest day or the year; in another we have the shortest day of the year. Somewhere, in some barrow or mound, the rays of light are finding their way down some long-ago constructed passage way to show the treasures and wisdom found therein. Now that our inner chambers have been enlightened, it is time to DO something as opposed to just finding our center and holding it. While one may assuredly do a Core Order of Ritual to celebrate the High Day, what about the other 55 days in between? I have a suggestion which might help and may be easier that a Core-Order-Ritual-a-Day: how about devotionals? Devotionals are really all about balance. We make offerings to an entity because we are a) devoted to that entity, and b) devoted to our practice. An entity, to define my terms, may be an Ancestor, a Nature Spirit, or a Shining One. The divisions thereunder are many and varied. Devotionals are meant, in my opinion, to be daily events. By building a daily practice, we get better acquainted with the spirits that we work with. Household spirits are a good place to start, in my opinion, because we share a space with them on a daily basis. I consider them to be spirits of nature and certainly spirits of the place. At the end of this post, you will find a devotional addressed to Manannan mac Lir. This is something I use of a daily basis and I wanted to present it as an example that everyone can do, solitary or non-solitary alike. I feel devotionals such as this may help keep a member’s interest and practice piqued between High Days. I know that many of our Solitary members feel isolated or alone out there. The use of devotionals, especially as summer and winter bring long days and / or long nights, is a great way of developing relationships and keeping the ADF work alive in our lives, today and everyday. I hope this devotional brings you closer to Manannan Mac Lir and the to balance we all seek. A Manannan mac Lir Devotional Hail to you, Manannan mac Lir, God of the Irish Sea, Lord of the Isle of Mann, He who walks upon the waves.   There are rocks that jut from the water, my Lord, Please protect me from them; There are eddies that form along the shore, my Lord, Please protect me from them; There are pitfalls and traps along the Way, my Lord, Please protect me from them.   As I begin my journey this day, Please stand with me, my Lord; As I continue my journey this day, Please walk with me, my Lord; As I near my destination, Please consul me as to the path ahead, my Lord.   Help me to walk with wisdom today, And every day, Let me walk the Narrow Way, The Watercourse Way, And set me true to my course. Accept this offering my Lord:   I honor and I thank you, Manannan mac Lir.  
As issued by the ADF Mother Grove We call out to those in need and voice our support and solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: We ask that the remains of ancestors be respected and not be destroyed, damaged, or moved without exercising the greatest of care and understanding in relocating remains, if such an activity is called for. If at all possible, we would like ancestors left when ancestors have been laid to rest. We hold our ancestors sacred and hold the ancestors of the indigenous people of this continent sacred as Ancestors of the Bone, namely those ancestors that lived on the land before us; We ask that sacred sites be left alone and not turned under by plough, by bulldozer, or by excavation equipment when other alternatives present themselves. Holy sites retain the blessings of the Nature Spirits that have communed, convened, and celebrated on those spots. When at all possible, we ask that these sites be left in the way that they were found: still accessible to those who practice their ways there and safe from unnecessary damage; We honor those who wish to preserve, protect, and revere the sacred life-giving waters that are a gift to all from the Mother Earth, or Earth Mother, to the people who live and worship on the land. We recognize that the Earth Mother is not the same for all people, but bends, shapes, and adapts Herself to the locations on which she extends and flourishes. We honor the Earth Mother in our ways, and we honor the Earth Mother in the ways of those who live in this place. We call out to those in need and voice our support and solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and give blessings for peace and success.
  To Those of Open Minds and Open Hearts, we at ADF reaffirm that which we hold important: “Membership and rank in ADF, attendance at public or semipublic ADF activities, and participation in any Druidic Study Program, shall not be denied to any person on the basis of race, ancestry, color, physical disability (except as mentioned elsewhere in this article), age, gender, or affectional orientation, but may be denied to individuals practicing creeds inimical to Neopagan Druidism.” “Proven communication or behavior of a virulently racist, sexist, homophobic, heterophobic, anti-Semitic, or otherwise bigoted manner, shall be grounds for expulsion from ADF.” (ADF Constitution, Article 5, Discrimination) Many ADF members follow the Northern Gods and they, along with all of our members and people of like practice, honor these words, these ideals, and this Way. Blessings, Rev. Jean (Drum) Pagano Archdruid ADF
The Practical Value of Devotion I have often talked about the importance of daily devotionals. We, as ADF Druids, often state that by making offerings one builds relationships between the Kindreds, the Earth Mother, and almost any deity or spirit one may think of. We feel that this is the case; we believe that this is the case. It is fundamental to how we worship: we give so that the Kindreds/Earth Mother/deities/and spirits may give back in return. “May” is the functional word in this statement. I believe that the powers-that-be may chose to or not to return the blessings to us. I discovered sometime ago that one may find unusual results when devotional practices are combined with everyday, practical undertakings. When I was taking one of the courses in the Brewers’ Guild Study Program, one was asked to make up a prayer – or a devotional – when making one’s brew/mead/wine. I wrote a separate song for each batch and I asked the Dagda to not only bless what I was making, but to help make it a successful undertaking. I not only prayed to the Dagda in song, I devoted the fruit of my work to Him. The various wines/mead/metheglen that I made turned out well, and I felt, in my own mind, that the Dagda had blessed my work. The metheglen that I made even won 2nd place in a people’s choice award at an ADF Festival. I felt that the work that I did was blessed and was also an offering so that whenever someone drank one of my creations, they were also honouring the Dagda by drinking what had been offered to Him. When I was running in races – a few years ago – I used to always begin the race with a prayer. I would ask for strength, stamina, speed, and endurance. For each mile that I ran, I would repeat that same prayer. While I never did finish in first place, I felt that the prayer and the rhythm of the prayer were instrumental in my doing as well as I did. Since I ran races every week, this was  an activity that was carried out repeatedly with what I considered to be positive results. In this case, the practical value of devotion was that it became internalized as a part of my running regimen. It wasn’t separate in the least. Running and the prayer that accompanied it were integrally intertwined. The devotion and the activity became one, naturally and organically. I have been gardening for years. I find it healthy and therapeutic. My father has been growing tomatoes from seed for years, so every year, he would plant his tomatoes seeds in February, on the first quarter or sixth night of the moon, and then he would nurture those seeds until they became seedlings and then he would give me a lot of them. My father’s tomatoes have flown on airplanes with me and have been grown in many states. They are fabulous tomatoes. I consider them not only a gift, but a legacy. My father turned 95 this year and this was the first year in my memory that he did not grow his tomatoes. I did what he used to do last year, which was to keep the seeds, label them, and get them ready to be planted in February, on the sixth night of the moon. When I plant seeds, or when I plant seedlings, I say a prayer to the Earth Mother for each one. I thank her for the gift of potential and say that I plant this plant in Her name, and that the bounty will be in her honour. I then place the plant in the ground, arrange the soil nicely around each one, and then wait. As time passes and as the seeds and seedlings grown into hearty plants, I am always amazed at the transformation. The prayer that launched the plants is repeated again when the vegetables and fruits are harvested. For each tomato, for each leaf of basil, for every gift of the Earth Mother, I thank her for her bounty. When we plant something, we expect it to grow. Water, fertilize, care and more water, and we expect results. It is perhaps the expectation of agriculture. Yet, for a person who reveres the Earth Mother and the Spirits of Nature, this is an example of the laws of hospitality. We make offerings, in the form of seeds and/or seedlings and prayers. We continue to make offering through out the growing season. As the season matures, as the plants mature, they produce food for us and also exhibit the miracle of growth. When the fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest, we gather these gifts that have been given to us from the Earth Mother herself and the Spirits of Nature and we give thanks for that which has been given. In a way, the waters that we give as offerings provide a tremendous gift in return. To the unknowing or to the unaware, this is merely the planting of seeds, the watering of the garden, and the picking of fruits and vegetables. Yet, to a child of the Earth Mother, it is really so very much more. It is an observance of a cycle that is as old as the world itself, that demonstrates the bounty of nature and the miracle of growth and harvest, and the exchange that happens right in our very own garden. We offer water as a practical gift of devotion, of the work that is to be done, and we gather the great gifts from the Earth Mother Herself. It is the practical side of devotion that finds the mundane, transforms it through offering and practice, into something sacred, through our belief, through our practice, through the harvest of the work that we have done. How fitting that we touch the earth when we gather the harvest: one hand on the plant, one hand on the Earth Mother, and the cycle is complete.  

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