Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Sacred Ring of Tents

Sun Daughter, Brilliant power of the Mother
warming the entire world,
Sending the white light of life,
Sending the red light of life,
The spirits of darkness flee under your eyes,
Under your white eyes, your red eyes.
You see all things and circle the land with gold;
You make the power of life rise from earth.
You are honored first among the three fires of life.

My British Celt/Pictish re-enactment troupe went to the Texas Rennaisance Festival last weekend, and we had a grand time. I will be making some of the many photographs we took available at this blog soon. April (Turanona) will be making a website for our troupe soon, which I will announce here and link to here. I'm excited about it.

It's always good to get out to the woods, out to the country, and camp for a weekend. Camping, building a central fire for a camp-site, sleeping outside, and celebrating closeness to the natural world is an instinctual activity for nearly every human being alive- even the most "city" of the city-folk occassionally enjoy getting out to the country, for all who are not spiritually dead can sense the natural regenerative power of Nature herself.

When we camp, we like to bring in elements of our own Land-centered and natural world centered spirituality. Almost any activity you do with your friends or family, whether in your own backyard or in some distant place, can be approached from a view of animistic understanding. A good example is the layout of a camp-site. Aligning our tent-entrances to face east is a sound practice, for many sacred sites in Neolithic Britain have their entrances aligned on an east-west axis. This is to allow for the new light of the sun to shine directly into the site every morning, regenerating and empowering it daily with a visible symbol of new life and vitality, and the divine wisdom, all represented by the Sun.

The Song for the Sun, given above, is an example of an easy yet evocative chant that can be used each morning, if you rise and go to stand in the new light. Arising in the morning, and drumming a bit for the sun while singing or chanting the sun, with your own tongue or your inner voice, is a very empowering practice. Lighting the camp's fire in the new light, or uncovering the coals that have slept under the layer of ash all night is also a powerful practice. If you make libations for the Sun, pouring them around this fire and sprinkling a few drops onto the coals is powerful.

Sleeping inside your tents with your heads to the west, and feet to the east, is appropriate, as the west is the great road of the Ancestors, taken by the dead before they veer north to the Underworld. To the west we situate the Blessed Isles, the Apple-Islands, the Island of Women wherein we find the Spirits of our Clans or Ancestors, appearing in their forms as Faery-women and Spiritual Lovers, Guardians, and Teachers.

When we lie down in the dark of night, our heads to the west, we should consider for a moment how we will one day lie down to die, or be lain in a grave or on a pyre. We should lie there, fixing our minds on the "Furthest West" or the distant west, and its spiritual locations, wherein dwell the spiritual powers representing all the experience and wisdom of our ancestors. It is as time to consider our own deaths and reconsider what is important in our human lives, and to speak to the ancestors intimately, asking for their protections and guidance, and for their visitation and teachings in our dreams. Every evening is a trance-time, an opportunity to have dreams, which are a profound form of trance and a state of spiritual awareness.

The fire of a camp should of course be in the center, and the east/west axis of the camp should be as free as possible of obstructions, or, if a tent or lodge is in the west, the east should be open.

I never pitch tents or build fires without breaking out my horn or cup and filling it full of ale or mead, and, from the depths of a good awareness-trance state, I communicate with the powers of that particular place, the site upon which I intend to live, sleep, and eat for the next few days. I ask them to accept my presence there and bless me and those staying with me, with protection and good joy for my stay, and I pour out the libation for them.

If you can, a few wooden stakes driven around the camp, sometimes linked by rope or cord, can add the element of a boundary, a sacred boundary, which should always be open at least to the east. In this way, a camp can be very much like a Nemeton or a sacred place, which is very much like I describe this camp, minus the tents. The camp is a sacred place; friends and family center their lives there for a short time; they enjoy one another there and fill that place with their power. If you look at even camping in this manner, you can make a real connection with the past, and have a deeper experience of the outdoors.

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