We are Family…

We are Family…

If, like me, you’re of a certain age and enjoy a bit of disco music, I hope you’re singing the headline* right now. 

The next line of that song also links to the theme of this article – ‘I got all my sisters [and brothers]+ with me’. 

What do these 1970s disco references have to do with Cerridwen? What do they have to do with crystals, about which I’ve been tasked to write for this season’s newsletter? 

Both the concept and the reality of family can be challenging and indeed painful for many of us, for a myriad of reasons. If we are able, we seek the mutually loving and fruitful connections in other places. The Cerridwen Kin, or Crew, is one such place where this can be found. 

Of course, like any family or group, it does not promise perfection, nor constant bliss, nor complete agreement in all things. Just as much as it can be loving and joyful and tender, it can also be messy, it can be sore, it can be challenging, it can be angry, it can be sad, and everything in between, in a wonderful, wild, raging, spinning shape-shifting chase. What else would we expect from a Goddess to whom so many turn because of her incredible understanding of the need for both dark and light, and her personal experience of our human frailties, our mistakes, our anger, our sorrow, but at the heart of it all, our love?  

I’ve struggled with some family issues over the past couple of months. Some of that relates to an ongoing shadow of ‘not good enough’ – a shadow with which Cerridwen and I have wrestled ever since I started this training, and no doubt in lifetimes before that. In that most recent struggle, being part of Her Kin, Her Crew, has been an incredible comfort. She has also shown me a new crystal ally, and a new animal energy, to work with – being very clear that while in some ways these new energies are to help me personally, they are also to share with others. They are to be shared because – we are family. 

As is so often the case with Cerridwen, these first nudges came in the early hours of the morning, where it’s neither dark nor light, but somehow both. Some heartbreakingly beautiful dreams of orcas – those wonderful singing creatures of the deep, who physically embody the beauty of the deepest, blackest darkness sitting right alongside brilliant, shining, light white.  Who are expert in building community, in connecting, in communicating. Who have much to teach us if we listen not just to their song but to their spirit, their energy, their way of living and being.

Orca altar stone 

An Orca altar stone painted for me by a friend and now occupying a prime spot on my Cerridwen Kin main altar. 

Orca social structures are complex and beautiful, interwoven groups that circle out and out and out to encompass whole communities, starting off with small ‘pods’ and moving up to larger ‘clans’. Together they make up an incredible network of nuclear and extended families of hundreds of orcas.  Their community values are the same ones that we strive for in the Cerridwen Kin – co-operation, coordination, communication, trust, acceptance. And – for me the most wonderful connection to our Cerridwen Kin – orca communities are mother-led, maternal groups. As females grow older in particular, there is increasing reliance on their wisdom and experience by both the younger females and males who are starting their own families as part of the community. 

I found the energy of orcas wonderful and comforting, and I could see the similarities with, and crucially for, our Cerridwen Kin. Our Sacred Listening partnerships, the small groups that work together to bring to life different offerings, our Spiral groups, our Sisters and Brothers, our Priests and Priestesses of Cerridwen, our Adoratrix, all circling together around the Dark Mother energy of Cerridwen who weaves community around us in the steam-spirals rising from Her cauldron.

Now – I am particularly fond of crystals. Something I really love about Cerridwen, in Her loving mother-energy, is that She guides me to find new crystals to work with, new magic to discover in these precious pieces of the earth. It should not have come as any surprise to me at all when, a few days after those beautiful orca-dreams, a new stone nudged its way into my consciousness, carrying with it that unmistakable, insistent, late-night-early-morning gut-instinct feel of Cerridwen. ‘Work with this. Heal with this. Share its energy.’

Orca agate is the stone she shared with me. I have seen pieces of this incredible crystal before and they were unaffordable. Of course, when I said that to Her in the small dark hours, She said, “and what of it? Have I ever let you down before?”

Sure enough, in short order the piece shown in the photographs became available from an ethical seller and at a particularly affordable price. I have been building community with it ever since; each time I work with it, it reveals something new from its depths, new clarity, new beauty. It has never looked the same to me twice, it shifts and changes like Cerridwen’s sacred creatures leaping across all of the elements in their magical chase. 

Orca agate

A close-up of this mysterious new companion. 

Like community, connection, communication, it blossoms with attention. It has flaws and cracks (and it interests me that on this stone, the flaws and cracks are in its light portion, while its dark areas are smooth and mysterious). I am reminded of how a core element of our learning journey with Cerridwen is about the value of the darkness as well as the light, and the need to be comfortable with both, in balance, rather than sinking too deeply into one or the other to the exclusion of everything else. 

The spiralling ‘flaw’ on the stone’s light side 

This gorgeous stone is now a very frequent companion. You can be fairly certain that if I am sacred listening, or on any kind of Cerridwen-related Zoom call, that the orca agate is nestling in my hand or in my lap. Like the beautiful creatures for which it is named (due of course to its beautiful combination of dark and light tones) it whispers to me of connection and community, of the ability to come together in balance despite being different or opposite to others.

Like the Cerridwen Kin, agates are found virtually everywhere, in almost every country of the world, each beautifully different but retaining that wonderful and unmistakable agate-ness at their core. Unique and connected. 


*For the younger reader: check out ‘We Are Family’ by Sister Sledge – sing, dance, and enjoy!

+I’ve added a word to the song, because we have brothers in the Cerridwen Crew too! 

Aileen initiated as a Priestess of Cerridwen in October 2022, by the shores of Lake Bala. She lives on the wild west coast of Argyll in Scotland. You can find her on Instagram at @crone_in_training

Samhain is one of the most magical times of the year. Often considered the Witch’s New Year, it’s a time to take stock, to reap the last harvest of the year and, of course, to take a look ahead at the year to come. In Pagan communities of all kinds, people will come together particularly at Samhain for celebration and ritual. What if, though, you’re not part of a like-minded community where you live? What if you’re still in the broom closet, but really want to mark this new beginning, to make the most of a magical space and time where the veils are gossamer-thin? What if you’re just starting out and you don’t have any special magical tools? This little ceremony is for you. It is simple and you need only a pen and paper. It can take as long as you wish it to, or it can take a few snatched minutes in a private space at work – what’s most important is the intent, the energy that you put into it. You can do this alone if you want, but you can also build it up into something bigger and do it with other people. We work with Cerridwen, so if I was doing this, I’d start off by saying a prayer to her. She is a Goddess who understands how it feels to be working hard without a break. She understands what it’s like to feel separate and different to the other people around you. She is a Goddess of transformation, of renewal, and Samhain is her time…when you call on her, especially when setting intentions for the year ahead, she can help. You can use your own words or if you would like, I have included the kind of words we might typically use if we were starting out on a ritual with Cerridwen. Welcome Cerridwen, Mistress of Magic and Mystery. You are at the centre of all that we do. We ask you please to bring your healing to this space. To let your magic flow all around us, and work its wonderful transformation and renewal that is so needed in a world that hurries and pushes. Lady, please bring to us the creativity and regeneration that comes from spending time with you. We stand before you, still and quiet, as all of that wonderful power ebbs and flows around us, ready to restore and renew. We breathe your magic in. Hail and Welcome, Cerridwen, Mistress of Magic and Mystery. We bring all of that energy to our centre now, with gratitude. Blessed be. We can draw on these energies, from the Goddess, not only here today but when we leave this space, when we return to daily life and go about our business. Remember that all of this magic has been called in for you, today. We are now going to ground and centre - when the world pulls at us and makes its demands, it can be easy to forget just where we truly are. And where we are, at all times, is connected to the earth itself, and to the skies above. We have both roots and wings, and we will take just a few moments to remind ourselves now. If you can, close your eyes, but if that’s not possible, then please simply relax and listen, again. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to breathe gently, slowly, naturally. As you give yourself that gift of deep, nourishing breath, notice how you start to feel more relaxed, calmer and more at peace with yourself. Feel where you are connected to the earth - through the soles of your feet, where you sit, where you place your hands. Feel strong roots of connection growing through your feet and reaching down, down to the very heart of the earth, where there is warmth and the love of Mother Earth herself. Feel that warmth and love travelling all the way back up through your roots right into your body and up into your heart, that wonderful direct connection with Mother Earth. Feel a thread of energy travelling up now, up through your body and through the crown of your head, reaching all the way to the stars where it wraps around and connects with one bright, shining star. Feel the lightness and wonder and magic that comes to you, right from the star, as its loving energy travels down that thread and back to your heart. You are beautifully, wonderfully connected to the earth and the stars, right here, right now, and at all times that you take a moment to ground and centre yourself, to give yourself this gift of reconnection, in this way. Bring your focus back to your breathing, slow and gentle. Wiggle your toes and come back to the place where you’re sitting. But know that you come back with all the power of that grounding and centring, that connection, along with the wonderful Goddess-energies that we called in earlier. Now it is time to do some work! With the help of Cerridwen, we are going to think about some of the things that may have held us back over the past year. The things which have not yielded any fruit or useful harvest for us. The things we want to let go, as we move into a new time, a new year… Cerridwen is known for her mighty cauldron - the cauldron that brewed the Awen, the magical inspiration for so much creativity that exists in the world today. Her cauldron is also one of transformation and release, magical alchemy working with us to identify things that no longer serve us and help us change them into more helpful patterns. Today we are going to put into the cauldron some of those things! Take your paper and pen, and take a few minutes to write down five or six of the things that you would like to let go of. These could be things like anxiety, procrastination, fear… or anything else at all that you can see isn’t serving you, or your highest good. Take as much time as you need and, when you’re done, take a look at your list for a moment. Now - for the next few minutes, make a new list on another piece of paper. This list is all of the things that will help you overcome and work towards transforming those challenges. Perhaps it is courage, or boldness that you need…or something else altogether. But please take time to write these down. Now you have two lists - well done for taking this time to focus on yourself , for taking stock and for thinking about the positive things you would like to bring into the year ahead! Look at your first list - the list of challenges and difficulties. We are now going to put those into Cerridwen’s Cauldron – metaphorically speaking… Look at the first item on your list - take your pen and very carefully, deliberately, score it out. (If you have a felt pen like a Sharpie, that would be ideal!). Score over that word until it is no longer visible. It is going into the cauldron to be transformed. Now, do the same for each item on your list. Score them out, with each stroke of your pen think of these challenges becoming less and less... With each stroke of your pen, imagine that these challenges are being burnt away, in a cauldron, going through the transformative, cleansing, renewing, bright energy that Fire brings, to help you move these on. Now, please turn to your second list - the list that will help you to overcome those challenges. Take a look at each of the things you have written down - take time to speak them to your heart and soul, you do not need to do this out loud right now but please do so when you can. Look at each word you have written down. What do you need to do to make them reality? Give these written words value and importance - draw around them, a circle, a heart, any pictures that might help you to bring them to reality. Make them beautiful, for they are beautiful things, and they can be good and helpful companions to you as you set out on this new, fresh time in your life. Keep your list and add it to a journal if you have one, or keep it somewhere safe where you can look at it and be reminded of this time you took for yourself today. Look at it again - add to it if you want, drawing on the energies we have brought to this space today, remembering how peaceful and inspired you felt. These are qualities that we want to keep, we are not throwing them to the fire, but we will ask Cerridwen to bless them. I have added the kind of words that we would use, but you can use your own too. Cerridwen, we have given to your fire those things which no longer serve us. And, inspired by you and supported by your energy, we have set out the things which will help us, which we will work towards, to support us in future times of challenge and to help us grow in joy and vitality. Lady, please consume in your fire that list of challenges. And Lady, please bless the work that we will do to grow and thrive. Blessed be. We hope that this short ceremony helps to restore you and provides inspiration and support to draw upon in the days to come. We can never completely avoid busyness but we can take time out for ourselves so we can cope with it. Thank you for taking that time for you today. As you return to your day and the days to come, I hope you can keep the peace and nourishment of this sacred space and time in your heart. Aileen, Priestess of Cerridwen Argyll, Scotland Instagram @crone_in_training

One thought on “We are Family…

  1. Wow, such a marvellous new friend, dear Aileen! And I love the connection you made between our Kin and Orcas!
    I never thought of our kin like that, but I love Orcas and their energy, and I think you had the most appropriate intuitions in matching them -as always!! 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *