Reminder: This Blog is No Longer Active

Over the last several months I’ve received a number of notifications of new followers on this blog. Though I kept the site up and accessible so I could reference my older writing and maintain all of the hard work that went into it, this blog is no longer active. If you are interested still in following my misadventures and musings, please know that I have moved over to a new blog: The Patchwork Crow.

Much love to you all, and thank you!

A Slight Change in Direction


I’ve been pondering for about the past week how to properly go about writing this post: what did I want to say- and how? But, seeing as I’m feeling particularly motivated to do so this evening, I think it best to stick with my best instinct: winging it and writing what feels right in the moment.

Over the past five years, this blog has absolutely been one of the things I am most proud of. It has been my journey from the later years of high school, into college- from witchcraft to druidry to something lingering in the spaces between. It is the culmination of a great deal of experiences, poems, stories, etc. And yet… I’ve found it lacking in something.


Over the past several weeks, while I’ve not been doing much in the means of writing, I’ve started a lot of restructuring: of my life, my goals for the coming year as well as the future that awaits after graduation, my personal belongings and the organization of them, and perhaps more significantly: my spiritual path. For some time, it’s felt as though something has been lacking- or at the very least not sitting quite right- in those areas. As I’m coming into my twenty-second year of life and my fifth year of college, I think it’s time for a bit of a fresh start. Rather than a lot of studying and talking about the path, rather than writing posts about topics I know will gain me views and perhaps subscribers, rather than a feeling like crap for writing just update posts- and having nothing else to write because I’m not doing anything, I want to start truly living and walking my spirituality. Basically, I’ve gotten the motivation finally to do the things I’ve been saying I want to do for ages.

So, starting this summer, I’m starting from the bottom up: going over books about some of the basics, trying out things to see whether they do or don’t work, having the courage to abandon those that don’t and keep those that do without worrying about them fitting into a neat and pretty package. My life has never been about that, and pretending my entire life or my entire spirituality / personality / etc. could ever fit into a pretty labeled box on a blog, in my mind, or wherever is sort of silly.


One of the other things I’ve really been feeling is a lack of connection to my craft name. I’ve been using it a little over five years, and though it suited me then and has served me well in my involvement in the community so far, I no longer feel a need for it. Part of living my path in a way that spirituality permeates all aspects of life, and being authentically myself is the shedding of this craft name. Keeping a separate name, for me, kept spiritual work and ‘normal life’ separate from each other. I was ‘Brenna’ when I was being witchy online, and ‘Rachel’ everywhere else. I think it’s simply time to let it go.

I thought for a while about this: should I delete the blog? Just change my URL? And I’ve decided to let The Raven & The Oak remain, as it is, for the time being- However, there will not be anymore new posts on it. I’ve worked far too hard on this blog over the past five years to delete it, but I also need a fresh start- away from content I wrote in high school, and free of the clutter of five years’ worth of posts! So, to mark my new journey, I’ve started a new blog: The Patchwork Crow. This is where I will pick up blogging again as I start to rebuild and re-shape my life and my spirituality into what I want it to be.

To those who have followed me here over the years: thank you so much for all of your support. I hope to find you again on my other blog and continue the friendships I’ve created here.

See you on the other side,
Brenna (Rachel)

Update: June 6th, 2016


Since I neglected to write for the entire month of May- and have bunches planned for the coming months, I figured it was about time I made a bit of an update post. As you might have suspected, the Winter Semester at GVSU has ended, exams have been taken, and I’ve been freed for the Summer. It’s good to be out of the living situation I was in for the 2015-16 school year, and I’m very much looking forward to my final year there come this fall.

I spent two weeks following the end of the semester in my hometown. I was able to catch up with Mark and Shelby and take a few adventures in the forests, craft stores, and local green houses. Much of our time was spent having incredibly deep conversations about everything from school, the future, our spirituality, the local wildlife, and much more. Mark and I in particular found a number of messages in our wanderings that some new opportunities for a fresh start were on the horizon.

On the New Moon following Beltane I was able to have a small bonfire with Mark. We burned some old spell components (broken candle stubs, old sachets and poppets and the like) to release the energy of the past- the bits and ends that were cluttering up our physical storage spaces and our energetic ties. It was good to release them- to let go of some of the things that have been sitting in my boxes for years.

It will never cease to amaze me what we seem to be capable of accomplishing in very short spans of time. After months of the stress of school and roommates who were less than pleasant, it was truly empowering and nice to spend hours and hours amongst the trees, burning candles, drumming, chatting, reading tarot, nature watching, etc. etc. I also picked up a new tarot deck: The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot, and I’m completely in love with it so far. I’m looking forward to spending more time working with it this summer.

But, our time was cut short because I have been spending the past few weeks in Tampa, Florida. It was not only my first time visiting Florida, but also flying on my own. I made it here safely, and have been spending long-awaited time with my long-distance boyfriend and his little group of friends and family. So far, it hasn’t been so hot and humid that it’s been unbearable. It gets into the 80-90 degree range in Michigan now and again (thankfully, I’ve not experienced the worst of the hot humid weather yet). I’ve tried some new things: they’ve taken me to all of their favorite places that are less common up in the northern states, and I’ve even gotten the chance to try a bacon-wrapped scallop.

As I write, a tropical storm is moving in. It’s supposed to thunderstorm all week so says the weather app. Lance and I got caught in some of the rain this afternoon and got thoroughly drenched on our way home. I’ve a couple of weeks left here before I’m headed home for the summer. I’ll miss everyone down here, but I suspect we’ll be seeing each other again after a bit less of a long wait (I hope!).

When I get back, the tail-end of June is promising to be quite busy. My little sister’s high school graduation party and my dad’s birthday will be celebrated the weekend I return home, and Mark, Shelby, and I are hoping to head off on a little camping adventure for the week of the Summer Solstice. We also have all acquired copies of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance and The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature. We’re planning to read and study them together in what we’ve jokingly dubbed “#StarhawkSummer16”.

With the study group, my 22nd birthday, the Bay City Tall Ships Celebration / Ballads and Brews Festival, a second camping trip potentially in the plans for late July, and of course Lughnasadh and the slew of random chores and projects, I’m hoping to have a lot more to write about this summer: perhaps some book reviews and experiences of actual spiritual work! The Summer of 2016 is looking to be a busy one- and one that I hope will lay a strong foundation for me heading into the final year of my college education.

Until next time,
Brenna Adaira

Poems of the Sea and Selkies

Painting by Jessica Shirley


When night falls soft upon the seas
When Moon in all her gleaming shines
Among the stars, above the trees-
T’is then I look out upon the brine.
A song within its roaring keeps
A steady rhythm of the tide.
It call me when my spirit weeps,
But, yet, I know that I must bide.
For in the crashing of its wave,
There lives a world that is not mine.
It sings and churns, but Heaven save
My soul should I call that thrall divine.
I was made of earthly stuff- profane;
Beneath the azure stretch, I’d die.
But O! My soul I’d give to gain
A glimpse of what secrets in it lie…

Painting by Kate Leiper


Let some of deadly sirens sing
I’ll non of their tempting take
Their love only death will bring
All the world with them’s at stake.
But in the cooler, northern seas
Where rocky coasts and pebble strands
Bide against the briny breeze
And the bitter tempests’ demands…
There I beheld a finer maid-
Who made her home beneath the sea,
Who, in the full moon’s light had bade
And beckoned: ‘Come and dance with me.’
Awen in her salt embrace
But gone again without a trace…

Poems for Beltaine


Now that summer’s coming nearer,
My blood does quicken in its pace
And never has life, to me, seemed dearer.
Ne’er have I felt my heart race
The way it does for hawthorn blooms-
A tender breeze beneath warm sun.
Such joy abundant, there could scarce be room
For my soaring soul. And when day’s done,
I’ll turn to sit by quiet fire’s side.
There, a tale I’ll tell to those who would hear
Of knightly valor- a dragon’s pride,
And bards who sing for the inn’s best beer.
And as the dark and stars ascend their height
I drift in peace to dreaming’s flight…


Gathered ’round the Maying Pole,
And to the heavy beat of drums,
My spirit soars, keeping time.
Leaping o’er the bonfire’s coal
The Beltaine dance pounds and thrums.
Rising, the energies climb-
And spiral, steepen, simmer there
In the circle we have cast.
There the ecstatic thrill does rise
And bansih to wind all thought and care,
That would bind. There woe falls to the past.
Only joy there fills the skies
Then, released, the humming of those flames
Echoes and rings; the Universe reclaims…


O! On that Eve of May we’ll meet beneath
The Maying Pole be-ribboned, flowered, tall
And gallant. Oaths to thee, foresworn, I breathe-
A whisper spoken softly from lips’ fall.
To you, hands bound in sacred union blessed,
Beneath that starry vault that soars above,
Un-ending. Close unto you warmly pressed
You fill me to brimming with your love.
And falling we unto the wedding bed-
Limbs wrapt ’round, rapture building, budding there-
In joining made the sacred pair. Ahead,
Of we who slumber lies not worldly care.
‘Til radiant morning comes and bids us wake
And in tangled parting, sweet does break.

Five Years…


It came to my attention, as I’d hopped online to check on my blog stats and reading list, that today marks the fifth anniversary of my very first post on WordPress: a poem entitled “Sanctuary in Vivid Detail”. Its come quite a long way since those first few poetry posts, and though in recent months my activity on it has been rather low, I’m still quite proud of what it’s become.

I just wanted to make a happy little commemoration post and thank all of you who’ve been following along on my journey for these past several years.

Forest Blessings,

The Bridge Over Crilm: Part One


            It so happened that in the tenth year of the reign of King Odalrich the Benevolent, a peace was found between the human denizens of the Kingdom of Mennoch, and the faeries of the wild Kingdom of Santania. The countries sprawled on either side of the clear and wide River Crilm. To display the goodwill between them, construction of a great bridge was begun. It would link the two kingdoms and allow, for the first time, the flow of trade and commerce between them.

The building was begun from each bank of the river. Stretching out from Mennoch’s white-bricked capital city, Grasgan, was a marvelous structure of smooth stone and intricate wrought iron. On the forested banks of Santania (due to their slightly less organized labor forces and lack of such materials) rose a beautifully woven bridge of living vines and the sturdiest wood from the dark crowfoot trees. Both sides would meet in the center of the Crilm and would fuse East and West, human and fae, Mennoch and Santania for time immemorial.

However, just as the bridge was nearing completion, a great tragedy struck. King Odalrich’s first-born son, the young Prince Alfric, was taken by the faeries deep into the Santanian forests. War broke out. The bridge was left un-finished; a gap some twenty or so feet wide was left between the two sides. Many lives were lost. In Santania, the faeries mourned the loss of not only men, but of the thick rows of crowfoot trees that had been burned by Mennochian forces. The Mennochians, unprepared for the guerrilla warfare of their crafty enemies, lost many soldier both to the violence and the unnavigable terrain. No definitive victory was had, and Prince Alfric was never seen again. Legend holds that he was kept in the labyrinthine city of Serfast. Hidden somewhere in its mazes, they say he was turned into a goblin and forced to serve the faerie court. These were only rumors however; none could be certain what became of the young prince.



Nearly a hundred years passed. Peace was never restored and both Mennochians and Santanians were forbidden to step foot on the bridge, or make any attempt at crossing over to the other side, at penalty of imprisonment – or worse. The bridge grew dark, a silent sentinel over the river, and a reminder of what glory could have been.

King Odalrich’s second son, Eanulf the Bloodthirsty, inherited the throne, and so the line of succession went on until King Wulfgar III now sat in the high palace of Grasgan. He and the Queen, Elsinore, had just welcomed the birth of their son, Torold. All was happy in the kingdom; a golden age seemed about to break for the Mennochians. The troubles of the warring times was long since forgotten.

This particular winter threatened to be a terrible one. The River Crilm, as it did every year, had frozen over. Thick blankets of snow covered the tiny huts of the peasants who lived nearest the river, and drifted atop the stony remnants of the bridge. Much of life had ground to a halt in Grasgan and indeed much of Mennoch. Many remained indoors for fear of the cold and the danger that lurked in the winter nights…


On one ghastly, bitter, snowy night, when the moon should have been full but was hidden behind the flurry of white that came down from the darkened skies, two soldiers patrolled the lengths of the stone bridge stretching from Grasgan’s shore. The lamps did little to warm them or give them sight through the snow that fell. They trudged along in their worn path through the drifts of snow; their feet slipped and slid, making it difficult to balance. The wind howled in their faces and blew through to their bones despite the warm woolen coats and thick cloaks they wore. Each strong gust sent them shivering and sliding as they clutched bow and sword, and peered fruitlessly into the night.

“Do you remember the first time we were stationed together, Gwen?” The taller of them spoke. His voice was gravelly and gruff, and muffled behind a crimson scarf he had pulled up about the lower half of his face. His eyes, clear as the icy blue of a fairer morning, gleamed.

His companion, a pale woman with a mane of ginger curls, looked up at him and sighed; the air rushing into her lungs was cold— of the tasteless, nose-numbing sort. “Of course. We were defending the southern villages against, ah, what were they again?” Her words were rapid, and she frowned to herself at the fuzzy, woolen sensation of the scarf against her mouth and tongue.

“Wood elves. There was an army of wood elves come from the south west with spears made of crowfoot wood and their faces painted a bloody red…” He paused in his stride for a moment, staring out into the darkness.

“Right. What about them, Kaden?” Gwen crossed her arms and hovered behind him, tapping her foot.

“You were afraid of me then.” Though his face was partially hidden, she swore she could see the wide and handsome grin on his face. He started in his pacing again, slow against the barrage of wind.

She furrowed her brow, and hurried after his longer strides. “You were three years my elder, a man, and bigger than me. What did you expect me to think? Not to mention they threw us into the same tent. You could have-” The heat rose in her cheeks. “You could have crushed me.” She turned on her heel, and took a sliding step back towards the other side of the bridge.

“Oh is that what you were worried about?” He chuckled. His eyes followed her form in the snow as he turned to follow her. “I thought it was something else.”

Gwen couldn’t help but smile. “You know very well that my fear was not unfounded. Besides, I’m definitely not afraid of you now; I know you’re harmless.” She flexed her stiff fingers around her bowstring. By now, they were nearly numb.

“Harmless?” Kaden scoffed, drawing his sword with a flourish. He gestured off into the night with its blade. “Aye, and I’ll show those vampyres just how harmless I am if they so much as step foot upon that ice below.” He made a couple jabs as though fighting some invisible foe.

If they come, and if we can even see them through this storm.” She wrapped her arms around herself; it did nothing to warm her.

They turned, pacing back towards the city. Only dim shadows and faint orbs of street lamps could be seen. The castle fortress, seated on a hill overlooking the village, was nothing but a faint outline.

“There haven’t been any vampyre attacks in years, anyway— none that can be confirmed. It seems a waste of man power to station us about this bridge in these cold winter nights. Poor Geoffrey lost a toe to frostbite last week,” Gwen continued. She flexed her fingers over the bowstring again, trying to keep them nimble, just in case. “Don’t you think that maybe this is a bit over-cautious?”

“Gwendolyn Pierece, I am appalled.” He looked down at her. “The river freezes, and those… vampyres sneak across each winter and they feed on our village folk. Can we abandon our post when the risk that our country men can die at the hands of such vermin?” He sheathed his sword and began pacing, his head held high. Gwen thought he might have looked almost regal had he not kicked the snowbank, depositing an icy pile of snow into the top of his boot. He shivered at that, muttering an unintelligible curse under his breath.

“No, I suppose you’re right in that regard. Keep up that attitude, and you’ll be Captain Kaden McKann in no time.” She gave a slight laugh. “And we’ll just see about whether or not those vampyres actually show up.” She stopped to look out once more over the frozen waters of the Crilm. Still, there was nothing there but swirling snow—

A shadow suddenly came from behind— something had moved between the soldiers and the nearest lamp post. They both turned to see another shadow passing by. Gwen gripped her bow and gritted her teeth, peering through the snow. Kaden frowned deeply beneath his scarf, for he had an inkling what had come. He slowly drew his sword again; the metallic sound it made sliding against the scabbard seemed to linger in the air, and time stood still for just a moment…

Update: March 27th, 2016


It’s been well over a month since I’ve posted, so I figured it is time to update my blog. Imbolc passed quite quietly. I blessed and empowered my hearth piece for my altar and set some goals for the rest of the coming year. The evening was spent quietly within my apartment, meditating on the light I wanted to bring into my life.

The rest of February was spent keeping up with my school work. I was greatly relieved when Spring Break came.

I utilized the New Moon energies that happened early in break to again, set some more goals for the coming year, cleanse some of my tools, and do a little bit more healing work for myself and some family friends.

I got a haircut, spent some time in the woods with Mark, and started dabbling around with some personal identity choices. It was really nice to be able to tromp around the forests and chat with him. It’s funny how having the right friends around can help the process of contemplation along.


Unfortunately, plans my family had for seeing my grandmother were cancelled because my mom got a nasty cold, and my grandmother passed away from the cancer she had been diagnosed with in January. It was very rapid, but she seemed, from what my mom and aunts told me, ready to go. I ended up staying a day or two later during break to attend the funeral- the first Catholic mass I’d ever actually been to.

I never thought I’d say it, but there was a moment, during the mass, that I thought was particularly brilliant and even Awen-touched. The priest paused during part of the liturgy, and asked my cousin’s wife to take out the calculator on her phone. He wanted to calculate how much of her life that my grandmother had probably spent trying to rock a child to sleep. Between her eight children (and not counting the sixteen grandkids, several great-grandkids, and even a great-great-grandchild), he calculated that she had probably spent around 3.3 years of her life simply trying to get a child back to sleep. At first, it seemed a little silly to me- and unexpected since I’d always heard that mass is usually really solemn and serious. But then, he made the connection that just as all of her children, grandchildren, etc. had found comfort in her arms, she was now comforted in the arms of God.

Now, I’m not a Catholic- nor have I ever really had any sort of Christian upbringing. But, that moment was incredibly potent: I mean, hair standing up on the back of your arms and neck, goose-pimply, Awen-charged moment. At least, I know that it was for me.

I wish I had been able to stay longer and visit with my family longer, but I had to return to classes, and the mountain of homework that was due that week.

Once I had gotten caught up on homework, things smoothed out a bit. The weather has gotten warmer, and I’ve been able to visit the ravines again. Last I was in there, I started humming, only to be greeted by the sound of an owl. I followed it a ways and found a little shrine made of pine twigs and acorns in the shape of a peace sign. There were also a few clooties tied to various trees in the arboretum. I’m beginning to think there may be some other pagans around besides myself.

Ostara was spent doing a lot of cleaning. I dumped a large part of my wardrobe that I wasn’t wearing often at all into totes and packed away a lot of things I was no longer using. It’s really helped some of the self-exploration I’ve been doing lately.

Now, there are only about four or five weeks left until the semester ends. I’ve a lot planned for summer: including a trip down to Florida to see my boyfriend, and the viewing of the Tall Ships Festival in my home town of Bay City, Michigan. I hope to be posting a bit more, but it may be limited as the semester comes to a close.

Hoping you all had a blessed Imbolc and Ostara.

Forest Blessings,
Brenna Adaira

Thinking About: Storytelling

It seems that, while last semester’s coursework and circumstances brought me to think a lot about the notion of home and identity, this year is bringing me a focus on story telling. It could, perhaps, be that I’m taking three English courses, but it seems that this idea of stories- and how we, as humans, communicate through our diverse languages our history and our imaginings has been very prevalent in my life. Not only am I being asked to think about these ideas, but I’ve also been asked a few times very recently to share stories of my own.

I’ve written some in the past about storytelling and moments when it seemed very influential- remembering the story of the Druid whom I met in Avebury, for example. It is my hope, in this little rambling bit of blog-writing, to sort of reflect on it in a much broader sense.

Artwork by Daniel Bayliss for Jim Henson’s The Story Teller: Dragons

As a human species, it seems to me that we have an instinct or desire to communicate beyond the normal scope of a creature communicating with others of its own kind to ensure survival. In one of my courses this afternoon, we were debating whether there was a psychological need to establish the sort of symbolic language necessary for story-telling as well as the development of civilization. Is this enforced upon us by society? Or do we, innately, have a desire to develop that sort of abstract means of communicating? Is it there something inherently spiritual and instinctual in the practice of storytelling and communicating with others? I would say it seems so, though others in my class seemed to have a more cynical view.

Whatever the cause of it, there is undoubtedly something about this ability that makes us human. No other species- so far as we are aware, anyway- has this same drive to preserve their history and create fantasy stories through which to interpret the world and grapple with our pasts and present issues.

“Storyteller” by grimleyfiendish on Deviantart

In another course, we discussed the importance of storytelling- beyond the simple statement of it being almost human nature- as well as the source of stories and the process of creating them. Today, there are millions of books in print- and millions more that exist only in rare, treasured copies- that contain enumerable written works. It seems to me, that with print being available- as well as infinitely more internet and digital sources- that value is attributed much more often to the written (or typed) word. That it can be read and read again by different people who don’t even need to be in the same vicinity of each other is, no doubt, useful. I think, however, there is something of a denial in focusing so much on this supposed permanence (surely such works that are physical and thought “permanent” can be destroyed). As was mentioned by Phillip Carr-Gomm in the short documentary piece, Fable: The Lost Art of the Spoken Wordwe tend to sort of deny that life- and anything in it- is sort ephemeral and fleeting.

Storytelling, by its very nature, is just as ephemeral as anything else in life. Words once spoken can very rarely be recited again word-for-word (without proper practice and memorization). An experience of hearing a story can never be replicated even if all the conditions are met once again. It will never be exactly the same story and experience as it was in that moment. In embracing that- in embracing the fact that life is fleeting and should be lived openly as such- I think there’s a great deal of peace that can be found in that art. It connects us to that which was, but is always continuously changing with each new telling, and each new storyteller adding their own slightly different spin on it.

In stories, I think, there is a great deal of truth to be found. Classmates have suggested that stories teach moral lessons and societal values. Undoubtedly, I think this is true. But, I feel, at least in the instances that I can recall having heard and/or shared stories that there is something else at work. Within these stories, there are often a sort of universal truth to be found. Kristoffer Hughes, I believe, mentioned in From the Cauldron Born that, especially in Celtic folk tales, that there is meant to be a transformative process which the character, the audience, and perhaps even the storyteller themself goes through in the telling. What that transformative process might be could be very different depending on the individual- a story might even touch you in a different way each time you hear it. The tale of Taliesin is certainly that way for me.

For me, I suppose, storytelling is quite similar to ritual. I expect, in a great story, for there to be something that stirs in me a sense of change- no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. It needs to make me think about something long after the hearing or reading of it. Even more so, I expect to find in it a connection to something- another person, the land, the gods, etc. that reminds me to come out of my tech-swamped cloud and really live in the world.

The Chukchi Storyteller by Judith Mitchell

I expect that in the coming months this topic will be revisited a few times. For now, it’s got me puzzling over things and, needless to say, looking forward to my courses and the topics we’ve been discussing.

Forest Blessings,