Investigating my personal connections and contacts within the Kindreds has been an eye-opening experience. I realized that both the Nature Spirits and the Shining Ones have been with me since early childhood, while my paternal Ancestors, and stories of my maternal Ancestors, were very nearly hidden from me, treated almost as Outsiders. I have quite a bit of work ahead of me to correct this.
The Nature Spirits
What we call the Nature Spirits have been known by many names over the centuries of human existence: the Sidhe, Brownies, the Fair Folk, Elves, or Wights. They are the wild ones, the untamed and untamable. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had some kind of connection to those we name Nature Spirits.
As a child, I remember the feeling of the cool grass tickling around my feet, making me giggle; climbing the tree behind our apartment and hearing it sigh. I was fortunate in that I had access to a couple wonderful forests; one just out the back door of my family’s apartment and one completely surrounding my cousin’s home in Madison. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve those forests. Everywhere I looked, shapes seemed to follow me and whispers of laughter filled my ears as I walked or rode horseback amongst the trees. At night in my cousin’s room, I’d stare out over the front lawn at the moon shining over the Madison capital building.
As I grew, I never really stopped seeing the shapes or hearing the whispers; I just tried to pretend that I didn’t see or hear. There was no one to help explain to me what was happening and why, so I relegated it to a very vivid imagination. Needless to say, that did not work very well. The calls of birds seemed to have messages buried within them that I just couldn’t quite understand, but knew they were there and the winds apparently began to take pleasure in knotting and tangling my hair.
But with age, comes wisdom – or so they say. Now I understand better what these events were: the Nature Spirits had been trying to get my attention for decades. Luckily for me, they were not angry with that clueless young girl.
Now, I honor all the Spirits that called to me throughout my life. Birdseed, raw sunflower seeds, and even some of my hair for nest building are common things that I will leave for my friends. I pay more attention to the bird calls as I wake (there is a new one in the mornings now that I need to identify) and thank them for their beautiful songs, and talk with the crows and ravens that seem to follow me. I honor the Nature Spirits by not ignoring them; I acknowledge and honor their everyday presence in my life and thank them for that. While I may live in a very urban environment, they are always around me; accompanying me and guiding me throughout every day of my life.
The Mighty Ones.
The Mighty Ones. Those that watch over us and guide us. This is the one Kindred that I had to really work on a relationship with.
When I was growing up, my parents rarely spoke about their families, other than the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that I knew. For the longest time, I didn’t even know who my paternal grandfather was, much less that I had one. I eventually was able to convince my father to tell me something about him; all he would share was that he was a mean bastard, worked for the mob running booze to Chicago during prohibition, and looked just like a historical figure with the same last name. With my maternal ancestors, my great-aunt (who was also pagan, although I only recently found this out) had traced our line back to the Mayflower’s crossing. I still need to get copies of that information so I can see if I can go further.
It is my goal to try and get more information on my paternal ancestors; to try and get as much detail as my great-aunt had on the maternal ancestors. Whenever I try to work on it, I can feel my father (who passed a couple years ago) and his desires. I feel that he’s okay with me researching past his father, but that he’d prefer I not try to contact or connect to his father at all.
But the Mighty Ones aren’t only those relationships of blood. There are also those of heart and mind.
Almost two decades ago, I was ‘adopted’ into a Scottish clan: the Glencoe MacDonalds. I had no names for my blood ancestors, here I did. I knew names that I could call out to for help, for guidance, or just to have a shoulder to cry on. The man that adopted me has since passed himself, but he is so much in my thoughts that I am traveling to Glencoe on my vacation – just to make an offering to him and the clan that took me in.
I admit that making offerings to my Ancestors is not an easy thing for me. For so many years all that information was denied me that it sometimes seems almost I chore to do. But even though it is hard, I still do it – in hopes that soon it will be easier and that I will eventually feel a stronger connection with them.
The Shining Ones
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the myths that I read in school. It was, at the time, mainly Greek myths, but it started to feed something inside me – something I couldn’t even identify yet. While I was raised Presbyterian, at one time I had replaced all of the angels and/or sub-deity types in the Christian theology with the various Greek gods (which was the only pantheon I knew – don’t blame me, I was way too young and way too isolated to know any better :-p).
But this ‘play’ proved to be very important to the future connections I would forge with the Shining Ones – the Deities. Pretending that I heard voices or felt energy helped me believe that these things were real, and as the belief grew, so did my connections to the source of the ‘voices’. And remembering that I did this when I was a child made the idea that perhaps I wasn’t pretending quite as much as I thought.
Over the past years – more years than I care to claim, thank you – my contact with the Gods has gotten so much clearer and stronger. Regardless of where I am, whether I am in a ritual or at work, I can feel them around me – almost like a parent looking over my shoulder watching me. If I have a question that I need answered, I can ask, regardless of where I am. If I need comforting, I feel warm arms around me, sometimes more than one set.
One of the more common, and unfortunate, actions towards the Gods that I’ve seen is when someone continually asks for help but does little themselves to bring about what they desire. Throughout my life, I’ve done my best to not ask for favors or assistance from the Shining Ones that have decided to involve themselves in my life. In fact, I’ve found that I rarely ask for a favor, it’s more likely that I will offer thanks for everything that I’ve already received and continue to receive.
The only way I can think of to truly thank the Shining Ones for everything that I have been given is to give them my love and the best way to show that love is to give them offerings that I know they will like and enjoy – chocolate, whiskey and my beloved Stag’s Breath liquor always seem to go over splendidly. I also say daily prayers of thanks to each of the Deities that has come to my attention.