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Nine Holy Things
Submitted by Fergus on Mon, 2012-02-06 11:06
These nine concepts make up the core Druidic understanding of the order of the cosmos. They are wide, deep symbols, that will repay study and meditation. These simple statements are presented as a starting place on the journey to comprehend the great triskelion that encompasses all. In order to understand who the three kindred are, it is important to understand the places where they dwell. These nine things are tied together in a mystical context that provides Druids power. The following descriptions are taken and adapted from "The Ar nDraiocht Fein Dedicant Program (Samhain 2005 Edition)" pages 26-27.
Within and behind all apparent reality is the Otherworld. These terms are how we make sense of the unseen realms of existence. It is an understanding of the cosmos and how it operates.
The power under the Earth is called the “chaos of potential.” The underworld realms are the place of the ancestors, of the Daoine Sidhe, of the underworld gods and goddesses. From their halls and lands issue bounty and new life, the wisdom of memory and the root of personal strength. The underworld is associated with water, both the sea and the waters under the Earth. This water is the rich nutrient soup into which all individual existence dissolves and from which it arises. So it is sometimes called, or symbolized by, the cauldron of rebirth.
The midrealms are the setting of the great tales. In the middle lands dwell all the mortal kins, and a variety of spirits as well. The common world where human and non-human Kindreds live, the land, sea and sky, are reflected in the middle worlds, hung between underworlds and heavens. Some of the gods and goddesses dwell there, near to their mortal children, and sometimes mighty ancestors make a home in the middle lands to aid their descendants The midrealm is associated with the surface of the land, the home of the hosts, and with the many spirit tribes that share it with us. It is the spirit-matrix that underlies the common world in which we dwell, its twin and its mirror. Within it grows every individual manifestation of life, and so it is called the cauldron of bounty.
The power of the overworld is the pattern of the world order. The heavenly realms are the places of the brightest gods and goddesses, the Shining Ones, and those mortal heroes who have been welcomed into their palaces. From the revolving castle of the sun, moon and stars comes the pattern of existence, the wisdom of perspective and the objective eye, and clarity of thought and will. The heavens are associated with the sky, and with the sacred fire that brings the heavens’ light into the grove. This light is the catalyzing quickener that calls individual forms and beings out of the chaos of potential. When it shines in the soul it brings the pearls of idea from the sea of mind, and so it is called the cauldron of wisdom.
In Norse and Germanic hearths, they use a concept of nine worlds:
- Asgard: the home of the Aesir the gods each have a hall for them and there followers. The more commonly known halls are Sessirum Freya’s hall and Valhalla Odin’s hall.
- Vanaheim: The home of the Vanir Gods.
- Alfheim: The home of the Light Elves.
- Svartalfheim: The home of the Dark Elves. They live mainly underground.
- Nidellvir:The home of the Dwarves. They are excellent craftsmen and are known to make the best weapons and armor in all the nine worlds.
- Jotunheim: The home of the Giants. The giants are basically humanoid in appearance and color.
- Muspell: The home of the Fire Giants.
- Niflheim:A world of ice and fog and is also the home of Nidhug the Dragon, who feeds on the dead who have truly lived a evil life . Helheim is the land of the dead and is a part of Niflheim and is ruled by Hela.
- Midgard: Where you are now Folks! And is connected to Asgard by the Bifrost bridge.
The middle realm is divided in a pattern related to the three realms, another reflection of the holy triskelion. These realms are based on Celtic blessings and lore. They represent the local representations of the three worlds on this middle world.
The land is the common earth upon which we dwell, our mortal home and support. It is the tilled field and the unseen mountain-top, swamp and desert, town and woodland. The land is the convergence of sea and sky, the holy island. It is connected to the otherworlds through caverns and deep places, wells, pools and the tops of high places. The land is the home of those animal kins that are closest to our human life, our allies and our predators.
Surrounding our island home on every side is the boundless expanse of the oceans. The sea is the mystery, the portion of the human world most alien to humankind. Within its misty vastness may be found islands of wonder and fear, the isles of the otherworlds is the home of the cattle of Tethra, the uncounted fishes and their stranger cousins and kin. Some of those are friends to human folk, and some are not.
Arching above our common land and sea is the blue dome of the sky, the realm of cloud and storm and calm breezes. It is the airy realm that is both all around us and far beyond our reach. In its floating worlds of clouds we see the playgrounds of the gods, the seats from which they watch the world. From the sky’s high distances descend the birds, so often the messengers of the gods.
Some have equated these realms to the elemental realms where land is similar to earth, sea is similar to water and sky is similar to air. Others equate this to the places one visits while in dreams or trances. We use these realms to support our grove during ritual.
Within this cosmos of three dwell the gods and the non-gods - the three Kindreds. These are convenient categories and not hard and fast rules for describing these entities.
The Shining Ones:
In the first days the Mother of all bore children, the people of the Mother, who are our gods and goddesses. They are the first family, the eldest and wisest, their youth continually renewed by their magical feasts. They are the kings and queens, the magicians and the poets, the powers of love and delight, the warriors, and the cow women, the smiths and all the powers of the wild. In every culture, the gods and goddesses guide their mortal children. Each Pagan culture has a family of deities whose wisdom, love and power sustain the worlds and humankind. Whether these cultural forms portray separate, individual entities; or whether they are names and titles of one great family of gods and goddesses, they are the object of our highest worship, and are our greatest allies.
How can we be pagan when we know the realities of things through our understanding of science? We worship the sun even though it is a ball of hot plasma and gas. We worship the moon even though it is a rock floating in emptiness. These elements, these pieces of nature, reflect how we perceive our gods. These objects are the masks the gods wear to interact and connect with us. We connect to the gods and offer them gifts that we hope they enjoy. It allows us to establish a relationship so we can communicate with them more easily.
To “worship” the Gods, to “honor” the Gods, and to “love” the Gods, these three things are the same. From Sanatana Dharma, we know we must love the gods. They call it Bhakti. We honor the gods when we sit in darshan or look upon their earthly images in the form of pictures or statues. Both loving and honoring the gods is giving them worship. This draws them closer to us, like visiting friends and family.
Mortals are as children to the gods. We are not their biological children but they have that kind of love for us. They want to help us but we need to establish some sort of communication with them. They don’t want us to suffer but suffering happens. Just as our mortal, middle realm has laws of nature (a biosphere where everything is interrelated); the same is true of the spiritual realm. The gods are part of that ecosystem. To say one is more important than another is to unbalance nature.
The Gods are above us, below us, around us, and inside us. Though it is nice to imagine the spiritual realms in physical relation to you, above, to the west or below, it really doesn’t matter. The realms exist in the same space on different dimensions. They are above and sometimes below. We are part of the gods so a little bit of the gods are in us. That’s our soul, a divine spark.
Throughout our life, the gods take an active part in your life. They help us with our magic, communicate through our dreams, challenge us, and teach us through divinations. They relate to us using our own imagery developed from myths and stories we heard growing up.
Many tales tell us that humankind is descended from, and intermarried with, the gods and goddesses. The fire of the heavens and the dark waters of the underworld flow in our human spirits, and death cannot extinguish us. So we remember and honor the ancestors, the mighty dead. The old lore makes it clear that human spirits sometimes reincarnate in the mortal world, often in their own family bloodline. But it is equally clear that many of the dead are ‘reborn’ in the otherworld, in the land of the dead. There they live the lives their fate has woven for them, just as we do here. Pagan tradition teaches that the ancestors hear the voice of the living, that they value our worship and offerings. It teaches that the mighty dead still have power in the mortal world, to guide and protect, or to chastise. So we make our gifts to them, and listen closely for their voices.
In Eastern cultures, the people go to temple or cemeteries to honor the ancestors, to honor the dead. Yet other cultures ignore and try to forget their dead family. My mother describes loosing family as a hole in your heart. The anguish, the longing, the unfulfilled contact with your parents is physically painful. The pain never goes away but it can be softened. Give offerings and honor to your beloved dead. Druids practice this in their rituals and in their devotionals. It fills the hole in your heart, allowing their intent and love to help you in this life. Our dead can still contact us if we let them. We can still hear words of wisdom from them through ritual divination. The line of our ancestors wishes to know us, even though they have been long dead by the time of our life.
Our ancestors have a vested interest in our lives because they are related. That familial bond is strong, those bilateral obligations built around love continue on after death. Our ancestors want to be remembered. They want to be around to celebrate life’s stages with us. These traditions still continue in holidays like All Souls Day or Day of the Dead. Embrace these events and join with the community to honor those that we love and have passed beyond the veil.
The Mighty Dead like their pictures to be around during key family celebrations – rites of passage. Just having their pictures around to remind us of where we came and where we are going. Family is very important and we love family no matter what.
Rituals to generic or unnamed powers are less effective than when you give them focus and actually use a divine power’s name. You need more than ritual tools, meditation and spiritual awareness you need a relationship. Through relationships and contacts with the Three Kindred (gods, nature spirits and our ancestors), we engage in the age-old contract of mutual sharing – the guest and host relationship.
Using t his logic, performing ritual and calling on those names you know and love – why, that’s powerful. You already have a built in relationship that is strong. You can picture them. You can remember what they did and how they spoke. For our older ancestors, we know their stories and met their children, our grandparents perhaps.
The Nature Spirits:
Humankind and our ancestors share the worlds with a myriad of other beings, other forms of life both physical and spiritual. The other kins share with us and the gods and goddesses in the weaving of the web of fate. They are as various as the species of our world, filled with magic and skill and cunning. Some of them are the beast-spirit peoples. Many of these are close allies of human folk, the hound and bull and pig and more. Others are of the deep wild, the wolf and deer and boar. The spirits of birds go freely between Earth and sky. Other spirits are the wonder peoples, the magic races of the many cultures - fauns and dryads and Alfar and Daoine Sidhe. They roam in midrealm countries sometimes very close to ours, sometimes very distant. We honor them and sometimes seek their aid in magic.
Nature spirits are more than the spirits of the wolf or dryads. They are more than river spirits, elementals or fairies. They are our companions in the middle world. We share this space with them. Our ancestors roam the Underworld while spirits and angels wander the Upperworld. Make special places for them in your yard. Acknowledge them when you wander in natural places. These little acts of honor add up and increase your relationship with the spirits.
If you can, plant and nurture native plants as these spirits are at home in this location. Bringing foreign plants isn’t ideal.
For those with homes, create gardens or other natural spots for the spirits to hang out. For those in apartments and condos, you can create something nice in your patio or inside one of the rooms. Leave offerings in these places for nature spirits.