Posts Tagged Druidry

Questions

OK folks – I think it’s time to throw things open again.

I have a few blog ideas brewing (life has just been busy lately!), but as those of you who’ve been with me from the start – or who’ve read my book – may remember, this all started back when I simply asked readers to ask questions for me to answer. About myself and my practice, Druidry generally… whatever they wanted to know, or just things they wanted me to talk about in a blog post.

So let’s see how far we’ve come, shall we? Post your questions, and I’ll compile ones that inspire me into a post later this week…

By the way, one random Questioner may well get sent a sneak excerpt from Book 2… 🙂

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Looking Forward

This weekend, my partner and I journeyed South(ish) to meet up with my fellow Trustees of The Druid Network at our Annual General Meeting. While wonderful to spend time socially with folk who have become good and true friends over recent years (despite being scattered around the country), it was a time for work, for focused intention and decision. Where would our Druidry take us over the coming year, and where do we see the Network going into the future?

Now as this is a personal blog, I won’t be going into too much detail about the organisation. Visit The Druid Network website for more information; members can see the Minutes and Actions from the meeting.

But suffice to say, my thoughts of recent weeks seemed to coalesce in this organised setting. This year is now starting to really move as the earth around us wakes up to Spring (in this hemisphere at least), and the energy is rising accordingly. A lot of ideas sprang forth as we inspired each other, with shared goals, motivations and awareness of representing a larger number of people.

However, as I call myself ‘Druid’, I cannot possibly represent everyone who does likewise. Nor can any group, however inclusive. This is why the Network appeals to me – each and every person involved, whether they call themselves ‘Druid’ or some other term (if any) brings their own unique individuality to bear as part of a larger whole. A book of many themes, a picture of many colours. Nobody will be told how to practise their own faith. Challenged and questioned, yes, but that comes as part and parcel of the Druid deal!

Both I and my colleagues have to maintain awareness of that larger community, and gauge the needs and restrictions of the wider world that we work within. While our own personal practice may (and should) be individual, Druidry includes an awareness of the currents in which we flow. The world is moving forward and so are we. How are we setting our course within that?

No faith can remain static, or it stagnates. Paganism especially, as a relatively ‘new’ practice (despite its heritage) is still finding its feet, working hard to be recognised in an increasingly secular and cynical world, but also determining practical purpose. It’s all very well to call for ‘world peace’, but how are we helping that? If we spend our lives arguing and complaining, we’re working against our own dream, right there. Loudly proclaiming what we are not doesn’t really help us find what we are.

We have to stand as examples of our faith, our belief, our truth, while constantly challenging it to ensure that it remains relevant as we and the world change and grow. As I’ve said, people are coming to those public Pagan figures more and more often, whether to just shyly ask a question or to outright ask to be helped. Those of us who stand up have to be prepared to deal with whatever comes from that.

So where are the tides of 2012 (and beyond) taking us? More people are becoming interested in what this ‘Druidry’ thing is, as they wake up to the need to question and explore in order to find a little personal meaning in a fast-paced and busy life that seems almost dictated: birth, school, work, marriage, children, death. There’s so much more than that, as we’re all finally realizing. The old systems are failing; those institutions that we relied on so much aren’t giving back what they promised. We’re driven to look deeper.

Druidry doesn’t offer ‘all the answers’. No religion does – or if it does, it may be embroidering the truth just a little (yes, science, I’m looking at you too). The answer is different for every person. A hard concept to grasp, but true.

How do you live your life? That’s up to you. But to live it with awareness of your own needs and those within a wider community, as part of a family, bloodline, group of friends, neighbours, citizens, species, ecosystem… there’s so much more than we are told. We’ve grown afraid, then selfish, insular. It’s time to be brave and step up.

The Druid is an explorer as well. One who knows that if there’s a map, it may be wrong, but that’s ok – we’ve got paper and pen. And this map won’t just be visual: it’ll encompass all the senses, including that mental and spiritual awareness that science hasn’t really explored yet.

The ancient Druids filled so many roles in their communities. Ultimately, us modern Druids do our best for those we serve – both those official ‘members’ and everyone else who comes asking. We do this with awareness of the flows of life, the wider world (geographical, social, political, historical), with our feet on the ground but also between the worlds, known and unknown. Our faith sustains us: in ourselves and those who stand and walk with us, human and non-human, past, present and future.

Ultimately, we are human too, of course. And this thing called ‘Druidry’ means that we recognise our shared humanity, our connection, our similarities and differences. And with that, we chart a course, establish our aims, and move forward. It’s not about ‘quick fixes’, it’s about evolution.

We don’t know what will come, but we’ll ride it, whatever it is, doing our best: to represent, to serve, to bear witness, to guide. To live with honour and truth, as individuals within a larger Universe.

We can’t know it all, but we can learn to laugh and dance (and pause for tears) as we undertake our journies, both alone and together.

That ‘second star to the right’ is closer than we think.

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Interview and Reading

A quick post to let my lovely readers know that I’ve been interviewed by the excellent ‘Divine Community’ podcast on Druidry and my upcoming book!

To hear what I sound like, and with an excerpt from the introduction, please take a listen Divine Community Episode 5.

Exciting times!

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Solstice Blessings!

This morning, I watched the sun rise over Nottingham City, from the beautiful grounds of Wollaton Hall. A friendly oak tree scattering leaves in my hair, ancient woodland with birds chasing, squirrels taking advantage of the unseasonable warmth (10 centigrade) to forage for food…

And me, with the lady from the BBC. I’m at 2:17 here, if you want to hear what I sound like!

I love those moments as the sky changes with the dawn (and dusk, later). The gradual realization that the deep blackness is being broken by shards of greyness, the clouds becoming limned with light, the stars fading as their place is taken by pink and orange beams. The world moves forward and the sun rises again.

So simple, the start of another day, and yet such a singular moment. Each one is unique – this day will never come again, this moment. And I bear witness, in the company of many others across the land.

Blessings of the season to you all, lovely readers. May you stay warm and safe with those you love through the dark and cold times, sharing the joy as light gradually returns to the land.

Merry Yuletide! x

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The Need for Grounding

I thought I’d do another couple of posts that answer queries put to me in recent weeks, on topics that are fairly important as Foundation Level Paganism. Otherwise known as What the Books SHOULD Tell You (But Usually Don’t).

Not long ago, I got asked about Grounding. A friend had been show how, as one of the introductory exercises to a novice witch-in-training – but not been given much explanation. Why, he asked, do we need to ground? What does it do?

(Don’t panic, any Muggles in the audience. I’ll explain the terminology, bear with me.)

I quite liked this, and had to smile. It sums up a lot of the ‘how to’ books out there, in that pagan Learners of any path tend to be told what to do, but not necessarily why. We find out as we bimble along, making learner mistakes and bouncing back to exercises that help (once we realize why we were taught in the first place), but I agree – I’d quite like to know why I’m doing something as I go along.

Pagans – be they witches, druids, heathens, etc – don’t just believe or feel their faith, they practise too. And practise, as we know, is continuous (to make perfect, natch). A big foundation of that work is based on energy. Not to teach your grandma to inhale ovulations, but a lot of ‘magic’ is energy manipulation… which means grounding is necessary.

Grounding is basically taking the energy you’ve worked with or raised, and settling it back down again, bringing yourself back to reality and not in a small hyperactive bouncing bubble that burns out very quickly. Imagine a puppy on Red Bull. Follow this through. The crash is not pretty, and neither is the mess left in its wake.

Energy raising is something we all do, magic or not. Runners generate a lot of energy, for example. So do actors and performers. You know the energized feeling when you’re about to go on-stage – and that same buoyancy when you step off again afterwards? Whether you enjoyed the experience or not, that’s energy.

The classic training step is to rub your hands together fast, generating enough static that you can feel it when you pull your hands apart, like electricity zapping between your palms.

Taking on too much energy, or holding onto it with no release, is bad no matter how you do it. It goes to your head quickly, and while you are capable of accomplishing a fair bit, it may not necessarily be of any quality (you know the feeling of ‘nervous energy?’). And you will quickly burn out, with a huge pressure headache and possible physical collapse.

The best exercise for raising and grounding your energy in pagan work (or at all) is to plant your feet squarely on the floor, feeling yourself fully present, there and then, solid and firm in foundation. Barefoot is good, but not essential – your toes can wiggle inside shoes just as well, to properly feel the ground beneath you.

Imagine the soil beneath you. Yes it’s there, beneath all foundations. Just work through the concrete, wood, whatever – into the earth. There may well be tree roots, insects and small creatures, brick, bone. Just feel it.

Then draw some of that energy up through your feet, into yourself. Take it gently, but let it fill you. Wiggle feet, fingers, neck, shoulders. Open your eyes. Experience it. See how the world looks now you’re actually aware of your connection to it. Remember to breathe.

When you’re ready, let that energy flow down again, through your body and out into the earth beneath your feet. Feel yourself still planted, secure and solid. Breathe. Shake your head. Let the excess go.

If you feel wobbly or ‘spaced out’ at any stage, don’t panic – you’ve just taken on some of the energy from a planet. If you’re not used to it, the sensations will confuse you, but this won’t always happen. Simply crouch or kneel down, so your feet (toes are fine) and hands (fingertips) are touching the ground. Let some of the energy discharge down. If it persists, sit or lie down and let it flow from all of you.

For  the scientific explanation of what you just did, feel free to investigate books on physics (I find quantum does it best). The idea that all energy is connected is basic, but you are simply working with that connection, sharing energy in the same manner as you share breath with those around you – people, trees, plants, animals, birds… all the same molecules.

When you hold that energy, you can use it for whatever you wish. You can move around – your feet will always be connected to the floor, after all; you’re both a conduit and a battery. Ritual, magic, sticking balloons to walls – your choice. But the need for grounding will become apparent from the first time you forget and feel the consequences. It is necessary. Don’t ever take it for granted.

And spiritually, I find it’s also nice, from time to time, to say Thank You.

The best recent source I’ve found on energy work, if you want to learm more, is from the late, lamented Isaac Bonewits: ‘Real Energy’. Or feel free to email me 🙂

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From the Darkness…

In every story, there is a challenge to be overcome – that’s part of life. But how often is it the overcoming of personal darkness? Not glamorous, but deep, painful and with no guarantee of a light at the end.

Life is not an either/or of light and dark. I’m sometimes confused by pagans whose purpose in their work seems to be to ‘bring light to the world’. The principle is noble, but the reality would be fearsome if followed through to its natural conclusion. Nature’s balance is not a straightforward binary, nor does it follow humanity’s ethical priorities.

We need the darkness as much as the light. One cannot exist without the other, but more often it is true to say that both exist in close relationship. Too much of either and we are simply left blind.

The balance is a fine one, and few of us are unaware of it. Cerridwen’s cauldron inspired… and also poisoned. Merlin held the life of the land, before going mad in the forest.

These are not stages we should close our eyes too. We cannot hide from the dark (what’s inside our own eyelids, after all?), but it is part of the journey to see the difficulties that may be encountered as we brace ourselves to walk into those dark and unknown woods.

I’ve been reading ‘Touched with Fire’ by Kay Redfield Jamison, which discusses the possible link between creativity and manic-depression. I picked it up as a result of last week’s ‘Dr Who’ episode, which focused on both the joys and depths experienced by Vincent Van Gogh.

Part of the journey of the druid is to step into the dark woods, both externally and within ourselves. The Bard is the ultimate creative, channelling inspiration to make something powerful from his passion. The Ovate takes this further, journeying intentionally into the darkness to find healing and knowledge until his eyes turn black with what he sees.

And it hurts. I’m currently receiving treatment for depression, due to the events of the past year, but while not manic, have experienced the deepest lows as many of us have. I regularly have to take myself away in order to pull myself back out again, so that I can function in the everyday world.

I’ve seen countless articles on how more people are going through such times, with general reflection on how it is the fault of the world and the society that we live in. Perhaps. But saying this is part of the human condition is untrue – non-human animals clearly feel both sadness and joy. Emotions exist for a reason, whether they be pleasant or not. It is up to us how we explore them and use them to move forward.

Spiritually, I try to use the knowledge and experience of my own darkness to help as best I can. Sometimes, even the knowledge that others have been through what you are yourself suffering is enough; sometimes you need someone to be there with a cup of tea, holding a candle to aim towards, or a rope to get you out of the hole. Sometimes you need a partner to sit down there with you, just being there. Your own space is important, but it can be your own worst enemy – and you’re not always the best judge when vision’s clouded by the darkness.

It’s never easy to understand, but it’s part of life. When the connection to life is lost, then that candle is in danger of flickering out – the depressive suffers the ultimate ‘side-effect’ of their illness, as did Van Gogh and so many others. It is up to us to remember that the connection is always there.

Step outside. Reach for a trusted hand. Make and enjoy a cup of tea. But see the value in that connection and channel it as best you can. As I am here, right now.

We walk onwards.

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The Druidry Wot I Does

I have read of what the ancient Druids used to do, in words written years later by Roman historians.

I have read what modern Druids do, in the UK, Canada, America and Australia.

I have read what fictional Druids do.

I have stood on a mountain-top in Wales on a freezing dawn, after an hour’s hard walk, watching the sun rise over the sea and sharing visions.

I have stood in the rain, soaked through, cloak stuck to me and laughing as the spirits of water are thanked very much for their presence but could they stop now please!

I have stood in a circle of expectant Muggles, witnessing the joining of two people, witnessing one of the most important days of their lives. With the responsibility of holding that energy, with all of the concerns, fears and joys, whilst explaining it to those who simply have no basis for comparison on what it occurring.

I have sat in the dark, alone, at the bottom of a pit, unsure even of which direction to look next, let alone where to step.

I have spoken on National Radio via telephone an hour before a major ritual, standing in my kitchen and trying to imagine who might be listening.

I have been pulled into giving a talk on Druidry with five minutes’ notice, trying to speak my truth honestly and create understanding, while forcing myself to forget the all-encompassing phobia of public speaking from my schooldays.

People ask and I am there for them when needed. I remind myself that it all carries on when alone and I need solace for myself.

Druidry is connection, relationship, to each other and the greater world. Responsibility for yourself and others, human and non-human, with a view to gaining a greater understanding of our place and what we are doing in this life. And while always alone, we are never truly isolated – there is always someone there.

That’s a start.

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