Category: ADHDruidry

A Season of Contradictions

With Imbolc signaling the first stirrings of Spring, I’m reflecting on Winter and what that means in this time of my life. As you may have noticed, I haven’t written in this blog since the end of November. This post will explain why, and also why Winter is not a great time for me, and how I hope to change that.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have always been attuned to the seasons and the earth’s cycles, and this is the time of year when I want to hibernate as many animals do. I want to go dormant like many plants and trees do. But alas, this is the season of contradictions for me. There is no peace, rest, or reflection. There is only the stress, social obligations, and obligatory consumerism of the November and December holidays. Then, while I’m still recovering from that, the busiest time of the year at my place of work starts as soon as the new year starts in January. I’m not just talking about days that are more busy. I’m talking 12 hour days, 6 days a week, and still not being able to get everything done. Sure, it’s great to have that income boost from all the overtime, but it’s a one-way ticket to burnout town. This continues until around April every year. The months of November through March are usually horrible for my mental health. Once March rolls around, things are starting to slow down a bit at work, I can see and feel that Spring is in full effect, and I start getting that burst of Awen that I wrote about last spring in my post “Spring: Too Much Awen?“.

How I currently experience Winter is in opposition to how I feel that I should experience Winter. I feel that Winter should be a time when we slow down, conserve energy, reflect on the previous year, and start preparing and thinking about the year to come. I feel that it should be a time for deep shadow work and introspection. As it is, there is too much going on and I become too overwhelmed to slow down and do any of this. I expect the change in the weather and shortening of days to affect my mood and make me depressed, but I would be better equipped to deal with it and embrace my emotions if I didn’t have as many other obligations. I imagine it’s similar for most people who work a full time job, or maybe multiple, or who have many other obligations during winter time.

I have started to make some lifestyle changes lately that have been helping my mental health and keeping my energy up so that I’m not as drained after a long day of work. Yes, they basically boil down to diet and exercise which I’m sure you’ve heard a million times before, but hear me out. I’ve started intermittent fasting, originally as a weight loss method, but it turns out this is how my digestive system prefers for me to eat. I stop eating for the day at around 7pm (no more midnight snacks for me!) and I don’t eat anything the next day until lunch time, which is anywhere from 11:30 am to noon. I’ve always been a breakfast person, so at first, skipping breakfast was difficult. But now I just eat what I would normally eat for breakfast at lunch time so that I don’t miss out on any tasty breakfast foods. For the exercise, that one was definitely a challenge because of my joint hypermobility and instability. But after some physical therapy and gradually increasing the amount of walks I take, it became easier. I also utilize tools to motivate me to keep up with the exercise and other good habits because, ya know, ADHD. I use the gamified to-do list and habit tracker Habitica (formerly Habit RPG), a gamified/virtual marathon app, the Conqueror Challenge, and Co-Pilot, which is pricey but worth it because it comes with a personal trainer to keep you accountable and make personalized workout programs for you. I have definitely felt a difference with the diet and exercise, but another key component is making more time for my Druid studies, meditation, and journaling. The journaling is especially helpful when I’m feeling frustrated or burnt out and need to just vent and get stuff out.

During my meditations and the small amount of downtime I have, I’ve been thinking about ways to work toward changing this part of my life that I’m not happy with, which is the fact that my Winters are so hectic. One major change that would go the furthest towards changing this is to get a new job that doesn’t have a busy season during this time of year. I have found a potential job that would be a good fit for me and I’ve applied. I’ve bounced around from job to job so much in the past and I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be very selective of what jobs I apply for because I don’t want to get into the situation where I’m unhappy and want to quit again. As I’m applying to a few select jobs, I’m also looking into possibly going back to school to get into a field that would put me closer to nature. I plan on getting my California Naturalist certification in April of this year, and I’m hoping that the skills learned in that course and the subsequent volunteer activities that I’ll be doing with it will help guide me in the right direction.

I’ve also been working on things that I can do now. One idea that I’m working on is planning a “working retreat”, or at least that’s what I’m calling it for now. Since I can’t unplug completely and go on a full retreat because I have to work, I’d like to plan a week or maybe even start with just a day or two at a time, where the only electronic device use permitted is work related and for playing music. Outside of that, I would be unplugged. No social media, no TV, no video games, and lots of meditation, art, and journaling. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it, but I’m going to give it a try. And maybe I’ll write about it here when I’m done!

Yours under the sleeping Blue Oak and a Winter Full Moon,

/|\ Kendria

Header image by Kerstin Riemer.

What’s in a Name?

I don’t think I have many followers of this blog right now, but keen observers may have noticed that my name here used to be Liss LeFay, and it’s now Kendria Madrone. This is because Liss LeFay was just a placeholder name until I could find a Druid name. Well, I have finally found it! This post details a bit of the process I went through to decide on the right name for myself. During this process I was looking for all the information I could find on how to choose the right name, so hopefully this will be helpful to others who may be looking for the same. This was my process and yours may look very different, but that’s very much okay! This is a very personal journey for any Druid.

Disclaimer: This post contains a link to a book that can be purchased. I get a commission for purchases made through this link.

What is a Druid Name?

If you do an internet search for “druid name”, you’ll get a bunch of baby name and name generator websites, and tips for naming your Dungeons & Dragons character. There’s not a lot of information available publicly about druid names specifically, but taking on a magical or craft name is fairly common in Pagan and Witchcraft communities for a variety of reasons. A craft name can be used for privacy reasons, for getting into the right mindset to raise energy or magic, as a confidence booster, or just because it’s fun! There’s something empowering about naming yourself. It adds a new layer of your own sovereignty, and Druidry encourages creating your own path.

A craft name or Druid name can also be given to you by an elder or higher ranking person in your grove or group, or a close friend or family member. Some traditions use it as part of their initiation process.

How I Chose My Druid Name

I started out by making a list of meaningful name elements and putting them together to see what sounded good and resonated with me. I also did some meditation on the subject and hoped that something would come to me from the universe or my subconscious or something. I came up with one name that I liked, but I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the right one. I mentioned to some other Druids that I thought I might have a name figured out but that I wasn’t sure, and one of them recommended the book The Witch’s Name: Crafting Identities of Magical Power by Storm Faerywolf as a possible guide to help in my self-naming journey. It’s written from a Witch’s perspective, but it can be applied for Druids. I bought the book and it gave me many insights and ideas for finding the right name. I didn’t do everything in the book, only what felt right for me, but ultimately it made me more confident in my final choice.

I have a difficult time with choices like this. I don’t know if it’s due to my ADHD, autism, or just my own self-confidence issues, but I tend to second guess myself… a LOT. I have a very hard time trusting myself and my instincts and I wasn’t sure if I would ever come to a final decision on my name. I’ve had many aliases over the years from various online endeavors, so coming up with an alternative name for myself was nothing new to me. But this wasn’t just an internet handle, this was something that was going to be a large part of my identity. I have no plans to legally change my name, but I do have big plans for my future as a Druid, so this was a very important decision for me. The more important something is, the more indecisive I get.

Gathering the Ingredients

I continued to collect and list name elements that I identified and resonated with from various sources, using some sources that were suggested by the book, and some from baby name sites. If it weren’t for ad blockers, I’m sure my targeted ads would be trying to sell me all kinds of baby and new mother stuff by now! I used translators to enter words that I wanted to incorporate and find the translations for those words in other languages that relate to Druidry and even my nerdy interests. I translated words into Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Irish, and Sindarin (one of Tolkien’s Elvish languages). I also looked up the scientific names of trees that are important to me, but those usually don’t translate well to names. Welsh, Scots Gaelic, and Irish can be difficult to pronounce, so I tried listing the phonetic spelling of some of those words to use as possible spellings for those names.

Some elements that I came up with from the translation exercise were coille (Scots Gaelic for forest), eòlas (Scots Gaelic for knowledge), afon (Welsh for river), glad (Sindarin for forest), and craban (Sindarin for crow). I then started trying combinations of the elements such as using Gladcraban as a last name, or combining coille and eòlas to make Coilleòlas, which I learned is Scots Gaelic for forestry, which makes sense since it is literally “forest knowledge”.

The book also recommends drawing inspiration from deities, animals, and fictional characters that inspire you. Some Goddesses from Welsh mythology that I’ve become quite fond of are Blodeuwedd, Branwen, and Arianrhod. Some animals I considered incorporating into my name were the crow and the owl. Ivy was another component that I considered because I’ve always been a fan of the character Poison Ivy from the Batman comics, and an eco-warrior would be appropriate for a nature based spirituality! But Druids are also about peace, and Ivy isn’t exactly peaceful. I also wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite characters from the Discworld novels, Granny Weatherwax, so I strongly considered using Weatherwax as my last name. It is a fairly common surname in magical communities.

Making a Decision

Some good advice from Faerywolf’s book is to make this a name that not only represents you as you are now, but also represents who you aspire to be. I definitely took that into consideration when deciding on my name. Another requirement that was important to me was making sure that the elements of fire and water were both represented. It was okay if neither of them were, but if one was, I wanted both of them to balance each other out. Another preference, but not a hard requirement, was that the full name have a total of five syllables. I’m pretty sure I have OCD in addition to my other neurodivergences (not just because of my preference for certain numbers, there are MANY other signs), and I tend to prefer odd numbers over even numbers, and I also have a love of haikus.

Ultimately, I found Kendria on a baby name site that allows filtering and searching based on origin and meaning. It has the meanings of keen leader, wise leader, greatest champion, and clear water. So that covers the water element and aspirational requirements. I also ended up settling on that one by unconsciously using the KonMari method. I was flipping through some of the options, and that one sparked joy, so I kept it! It feels feminine and beautiful, and those are aspects of myself that I’ve been trying to cultivate and embrace lately. The “wise leader” aspect, while aspirational, makes me feel empowered, which is a good thing for any craft name to do.

Madrone is a tree that I’ve recently connected very strongly with and have come to love. They don’t grow in many places, but there are hundreds of them on a plot of land in the Sierra Nevadas that my husband’s family recently purchased, and I have become enthralled with their strength and beauty. With their peeling, many-colored bark, they represent transformation. They represent fire with their bright red and gold bark. They’re resilient to fire, and it’s even a part of their life cycle! Transformation is another element that I wanted to be sure to incorporate into my name because I’m constantly evolving and transforming into, hopefully, a better version of myself. I feel that transformation and versatility are aspects of my ADHD that I wanted to embrace and highlight with my name. Change is a constant in life, and especially so in mine.

I nearly named myself Kendria Phoenix because the Phoenix is another symbol of fire and transformation, plus it just sounds badass! But I ultimately went with Madrone for three reasons: it flows better with Kendria, my best friend and husband both liked it better, and Madrones are so important to me that I wanted to make sure they were represented.

So there you have it, the long journey of crafting a Druid name for myself! This ended up getting more lengthy than I expected, but I wanted to detail as much of the process as I could. Both for my own journaling purposes, and because when I was searching for information for how people come up with their names, I wanted as much information, personal stories and anecdotes as I could find. I hope that some other neurodivergent (or neurotypical) Druid who also likes as much info as possible finds this helpful.

Yours from under the madrone trees,

/|\ Kendria Madrone

Header image by Johann Reinbacher.

How Ketamine Helped Me Have a Meditation Breakthrough

Content Warning: This post discusses substances that are not legal in all jurisdictions. The use of ketamine is legal where I live, and I only use it under the care of medical professionals and with the help of a trained guide. I do not condone or recommend the use of any substances which are illegal where you live, or the use of ketamine or any other psychedelics without the guidance of a medical professional and guide or therapist.

Having a neurodivergent brain, specifically an ADHD one, can make it difficult to meditate. Meditation is a big part of Druidry, and is a great practice for mental and physical health in general. My main issue is that I’ve never been able to quiet my racing thoughts. I know that it’s not necessary to clear your mind completely of all thoughts when meditating, but I would like to at least keep them from screaming at me and pulling me in a million different directions at once. I could sometimes calm my mind if I gave it a focus like listening to the words of a guided meditation or if I had something to fidget with, but without those aids, forget it!

As mentioned in my previous post about medications, I’ve recently started Ketamine therapy. My first session was underwhelming, probably because I started out on a low dose due to my history of being sensitive to any kind of substance. We increased my dose for the second session, and I think it was just right. During this second session, I experienced something I’ve never experienced before… a quiet mind! For once in my life, the inner voices just floated there quietly instead of zooming around and tugging at me. It’s like they went from the usual noisy chatter to mostly silent with the occasional muted whisper. It didn’t last very long, but it was a nice feeling.

After the session ended I thought “well that was nice, but it would be great if I could do that without being in a session.” And I went about my life as usual. Then a few days later, when I went to meditate, I thought “I still remember how it felt when my mind was quiet. Let’s try to do that again.” And sure enough, my brain remembered how to do it! It’s like my brain had to feel it to believe it and know how to get there again. Now that I knew it was possible, I could go back to that when I wanted to!

There are still times when I just can’t get my mind to be that quiet again, and it does require some work and to be in the right headspace for it, but I am so relieved that it’s actually a possibility for me now.

Yours under the Blue Oaks,

/|\ Kendria

Header image by Elias.

Spring, Too Much Awen?

I have always been very connected to the seasons. It’s part of the reason why I feel so at home with Druidry. In the winter, I become withdrawn and often depressed. But in Spring, I am absolutely and almost painfully bursting with life, energy, and creative fertility. I feel as though I’ve hit a geyser of inspiration, motivation, and creativity but I have no vessel or focus to contain it or do anything useful with it. It’s very frustrating. I sometimes feel like I’ve overdosed from Cerridwen’s cauldron.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Awen, there’s a great article that explains it pretty well on OBOD’s website druidry.org.

While generally Awen is a good thing, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. My ADHD sends me in every possible direction at the same time and I can’t settle on just one. Or even get started toward any of them. I want to sing and make music, but I need to learn how to make music. But I also want to paint and make art, but I need to take the time to set up the art supplies and make space in my office for it. But I can’t do that because I need to clean my office first. But I also want to work on this blog, but I can’t think of what to write next because I want to write EVERYTHING! But I have so many books to read, I really should read them. But but but…

And I’m certain this is all just my ADHD coupled with the upswing in energy and mood coming out of winter due to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Studying Druidism has just given me a new perspective on it.

What do you do when you want to do everything? How is there time for everything? And even if there was time, how do you decide what to do first? How do you decide what to do with the time you do have? When I have the structure of my work day, I can easily decide what to do. Though it’s difficult to focus on work when my brain is frolicking in the fields and dreaming about writing songs and painting my feelings and building some new invention and my next business idea and on and on forever. I have an abundance of want and a deficit of focus or ability to get anything done.

Anyways, I just needed to get that out and I figured this is the best place for it. Hey, that means I was able to complete more than one post on this blog! Progress!!

Header image by Ronny Overhate.

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