Posts Tagged unity

Druidry of the Future

As the rate of technological advancement increases (while basic human understanding follows in its wake), we find ourselves looking increasingly to the future, the ‘what next’. We’re in the 21st Century, after all; doesn’t that milestone mean something?

Instead, we find ourselves caught on one hand with the result of that inevitable implosion of capitalist demand, wondering what happened when our desire for Stuff NOW outweighed our interest in how those were obtained, when our concern for mass media overtook any interest in basic democratic process (‘X-Factor’ versus elections, anyone?). And on the other, that ‘End of the World’ mentality surrounding mis-knowledge of the significance of 2012 as a date of universal significance, as we ¬†combine our inherent search for meaning in life with muddled New Age misunderstanding – and end up running our lives by the fictional astrology of the tabloid press.

Yes, this post is going to challenge.

My constant question is ‘what are you doing?’ and ‘why?’ How often do we challenge ourselves, really? Not just when there’s a major decision to be made, but all the time. Why are you using that cleaning product with the warning on the back ‘Will cause damage to the water table?’ Why wash yourself in something that contains formaldehyde? Why take the media perspective on events in the world as entirely true and unquestionable?

We’ve somehow turned the important questions of everyday modern living into something that’s ‘boring’. Environmentalism is to be sneered at in favour of consumerism (who’s putting that idea out?). Cynicism allows us to shrug and turn away instead of probing more deeply.¬†I’m hopeful that you’re still reading, rather than just rolling your eyes at yet another rant. Bear with me.

There is so much going on in the world today that it’s impossible to truly investigate or understand it all. This is why we have to really prioritise, to figure our where we are and what’s important to us – but in relation to the wider world, that we are part of (like it or not). This is a challenge that we will have to face moving forward, but which we are not trained for. It’s up to us to learn how best to do it

As the world changes, so we are starting to realize that previous ways of living and viewing don’t work anymore, that they don’t aid our understanding. We are looking deeper. But that requires us to take on a level of responsibility and understanding that some folk just aren’t ready (or equipped) to take on. That’s fully understandable – as I said, we can only process so much within our worldview as it evolves and as we grow.

So what is the role of the Druid in all of this? The Priest of the past, the ancient philosopher, law/lore-keeper, storyteller, intermediary… why is this still relevant?

The fact that people are still coming to me (and other ‘public’ Druid folk) in every-increasing numbers indicates that what we do is wanted. Initially yes, it’s often the idea that we have some sort of mystical ‘answer’ as to how to live (we do, but you might not like it, because it requires that you do active work too). But it’s the urge to understand how our spirituality creates a path for active living, connection, relationship, responsibility and understanding through constant challenge and awareness… that’s a big lifestyle change to assimilate. Being curious is an excellent start, though, and I am constantly glad that more and more people are overcoming their apprehensions and simply talking to me (and others who Druid).

But what, then, are we to become, moving forward?

A couple of years ago, I was part of a group that performed a divination ritual for Druidry in the coming years. Believe it or not, we identified the complacency that more Paganism has somehow arrived at, the inevitable shake-ups that will occur (within the Pagan faiths and the wider world) and the need for change to allow us to evolve and remain active and relevant.

That change? To work together.

There’s been a lot of talk recently in the blogosphere about what makes a ‘proper’ Druid. It’s good that folk are talking, but the difficulty for me comes at source. We as humans are drawn to both a need for community to reinforce our beliefs, and individuality – to be ‘special’ and unique. Yes, we all have our own subjective views on life, the universe and everything, and that’s wonderful. However, the challenge is bringing those together to make a cohesive pattern, rather than an argumentative mess.

Division in Druidry (and any other group based on belief) is inevitable. With the inherent urge to challenge, as stated, comes the unavoidable response of Pissing People Off. Not everyone will like what you have to say, or that you’re standing up to say it at all, but in speaking your own truth honourably, after much consideration and debate, not everyone will agree.

In the ancient poem ‘The Spoils of Annwyn’, one of the challenges to be faced by Arthur on his quest (and so the reader who works with the text) is facing down the ‘six thousand who stand atop the walls’ of Caer Goludd, those who prevent him from moving on with their shouts that drown out his words. He who stands up to speak/object most loudly runs the risk of getting his head shot off – the general ‘masses’ don’t understand and fear change or challenge, and so find it easier to settle back down into their comfortable rut (as above). We all know what this feels like.

But the role of the Druid is to continue to stand – and for those others who call themselves thus to stand together, to support each other and those who come to us, those we serve. Divided, we are just little groups (or individuals) talking – no bad thing in itself, as any words these days can have value if enough people listen. Together, however, united in common intention (if not the subtleties of individual practice), we can be recognised and, quite simply, accomplish more.

Not everyone is prepared to do this, and that’s understandable too. But those who do stand up to be recognised against those dissenting masses deserve to be listened to. Question or challenge, certainly, as this increases understanding on both sides. But do NOT dismiss out of hand, take for granted or simply ignore. For you will be left poorer for it.

I speak my words, from the cauldron of Inspiration

By the breath of nine maidens it is kindled

It will not provide the food of a coward, but a sword will be raised, flashing bright.

We move forward to the door, where a lamp is burning.

Save seven, none return.

Who’s with me?

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Power

Some weeks ago, I came across this quote, from the inspiring writing of Rowan Pendragon:

‘Don’t be afraid of the word “power” or to call yourself powerful. If you’re not owning your power, someone else is!’

Short and sweet. But it stuck with me.

At the end of July, my partner and I took our annual trip to Druid Camp. I realized that I’d been going there for over ten years now, and every single year is different – usually with new things to learn, and experiences that push me forward (often in a quite undignified way). It’s a powerful time, as well as one of great community and friendship.

This year’s theme was the Cauldron of Cerridwen, the Tale of Taliesin. We were there to be inspired, after all, and for the duration of the week, a huge black cauldron was placed in the centre of the Camp, in the ritual circle that we created, into which we would place our offerings – as well as take time to guard it. This latter time became quite a social gathering as people came forward to talk, very much in the presence of the divine brew, words spilling forth and being heard. The rite culminated on Saturday in a great gathering of over 100 people, coming together to work with the Goddess, Cauldron, the Awen and what came forth from it.

Every evening, different groups were asked to perform ritual for the Camp as a whole, with my own Hearth undertaking the Friday night. What would be our focus? How would we tie in to this theme of inspiration, as well as facilitate a meaningful ceremony for what could well be quite a number of people of very varied shades of belief?

I suggested power. We invite those present to step forward, into the centre of the circle, and tell all present who they are, what they are doing, and what they promise to achieve in the next year – until we meet again at Camp 2012. Including ourselves.

And so we did. Around 50 people bravely stepped forward, making their vows, telling their tales, as the energy moved around the circle holding us together. Our community was strong, our inspiration flowed… and we all moved forward.

(Photo by William Camden Harding)

Last weekend was the annual Pagan Pride festival in Nottingham. Over 500 pagans, dressed in their finest, gathered in the centre of a modern Midlands city to march and declare their faith and unity. On a Sunday morning. Just as the shops were opening.

And again, we did it. So many people told me that it was their first ever pagan event… as we strode through the Marketplace and down the centre of the Boulevard! Police stopped traffic, Muggles lined the streets to stare and take photographs. Drums beat a compelling rhythm as we all shouted ‘We Are Pagan – We Are Proud!’

On both days, many people stood up publicly and proudly and declared themselves. All ages, all colours, all physical and mental ability. They claimed their own personal power, displayed their bravery in stating their words, proud in their resolve and determination. To quote a Druid phrase, ‘Heart to heart, hand to hand.’ Each time, the energy is tangible, active and potent.

Since then, the atmosphere in Britain has changed. Public displays of power are there for all to see: the anger of burning buildings, communities retaliating with brooms. Both groups joining on virtual networks before meeting in person. Everyone has something to say.

I sincerely hope that the displays of power that I have experienced this last month have been indicative of a growth in the sense of unity, joined community and like-mindedness. For too long, we have witnessed largely apathy, whingeing and unwillingness to take action. A change is in the air, it seems now, as people are starting to move, realizing the importance of our actions in life, taking a stand for their beliefs. Slowly, there is recognition of greater need for articulation, intelligent debate, asking questions.

We stand in our power, here, together. What do we do with it?

We move forward.

 

For more on Pagan Pride, visit organiser Esme Knight’s wonderful blog, or see more pictures c/o the BBC.

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