Dancing with Druidry.

I’ve been actively involved with paganism for over twenty years now. It was Druidry, primarily as defined by Emma Restall Orr, that first created that first spark of interaction within me. The flame soon caught hold, but after a while, I found the lack of precisely defined parameters within that Druidry somewhat of a hinderance. So I moved away from Druidry and got involved elsewhere with a group who were more concerned with the practices of the common people rather than the Druid caste.

This worked well for me, and a notable other, it grounded both of us as far as our practices were involved. But over time, the need for precisely defined parameters has waned into something else. Precision is required for predicted outcomes but it wasn’t until I realised that these could only ever be the starting points and rarely represent the finishing point, that Druidry re-entered my life. Modern Druidry, in my experience, is an ongoing interactive process that is never static. The clue, as usual, is in nature. Lack of movement can lead to stagnation, nature favours movement, always movement. The timing is just relevant to the affected forms.

And so this frustrating thing that is both defined and yet formless, modern Druidry, continues to interact in countless ways both within and through me. At this precise moment in time, I realise that it is not the outcomes that are important to me, but my ability to host the processes this living thing called Druidry chooses to introduce to me (a very polite way of phrasing for some of these “introductions” sometimes). My Druidry is both forming me and being formed by me.

It is a dance between two living forms, each giving of themselves and reciprocating. It cannot precisely be defined to me, because that precision is only time specific, it is not form or process specific. I see a lot of “discussions” around what did, does and does not constitute Druidry, both ancient and modern. I have gone through these sort of discussions and it has been my experience that a lot of people never get past these types of discussions. The seeming lack of precisely defined parameters within modern Druidry is so at odds with our technological society that many who flirt with it, move on because they cannot recognise the flowing thing that is modern Druidry.

It will not remain static enough for them to anchor to and so they move on. In my personal practice, that particular Druid process that was coined in the 17th century as the Awen, now makes itself known through me in practical ways. In previous recent posts, I have revealed how photography has re-entered my life and how I am convinced it is one of the ways the Awen chooses to interact with and through me at this time. It is a dance it chooses to share with and through me.

It’s not strictly about the results (though I must confess to being pleasantly surprised at my own latent abilities within this art form) but more about experiencing and celebrating the dances of various interactive processes between two living forms. It is, very much, a dance of life. A celebration of two different forms combining to create shared experiences, both defining and being defined by these experiences. It is not a static thing, but an evolving thing, following the favoured route of nature. It is not outside of nature but very much a part of nature.

And because it is very much rooted within nature, this makes its presence within me all the more relevant. Now that I am beginning to better recognise the dance form it chooses when interacting with and through me.

 

Changes (2)

As I’m sat here writing this post, this is my first “official” day in unemployment. It’s been over twenty five years since I was temporarily in this same position and I’m working to change this current position now. For the last few weeks, I have been on “sick leave” as my arthritis begins to get itself known to me again and with impending redundancy looming, it seemed a “sensible” thing to allow myself to secumb to it this time. In this time, it has allowed me to do some traveling and rekindle a dormant passion within me. That being photography. and that passion appears to me at this time to be a new vehicle with which the Awen can interact with me in a new way. see what you think (comments welcome, click on image for better clarity).

Finnich Glen

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Grey Wagtails in the Campsies

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Isle of May, Angus

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Changes and all that…

I’ve been very quiet (for me) for a couple of months. Life has been hectic and has taken several unexpected twists over these last few weeks. First, as of yesterday (12-3-15) I was officially told I am to be made redundant at the end of this month (May 15). In thirty six years of work, since leaving school, this is the first time I have experienced this.

It’s not pleasant, but I am in a lot better place than most people who have the misfortune to experience such a thing. And it’s not neccessarily a bad thing for me. This current job has involved, typically, working between 50 and 70 hours per week ( a lot of that, admitedly, on stand by). I will be forever grateful for having been employed by my current employer, because they facilitated my move up here into Scotland. And through that job, I got to see probably about 90% of Scotland in that time.

But things move on and it looks to me like they got their numbers wrong and are having to downsize to readjust and start again. I wish them well in their endeavours, but candidly, I am not sad to be leaving. Over this last twelve months, psoriatic arthrirtis has been making itself known more and more, affecting specifically my hands. Not good for someone who hands are the primary tool for his work.

I have now attended a rheumatology clinic at our local hospital and it looks like I will be put on a Disease Modifying drug to stop it’s progress. This will involve taking a drug, probably for the rest of my life (not something I particularly relish, being the type to have avoided taking any sort of medication for my entire life). But taking that drug will obviously help my future quality of life (as well as extending the period of my life left that I can work in).

Through this redundancy, I am now in the process of securing start up funding for going into self employment. being a gas engineer, specialising in the repair and servicing of combi boilers. Through my previous (technically, still current at the time of writing) job, I am now in the best possible financial situation to be able to do this. And if my business projections are correct, my hours are going to reduce significantly. Which means this will compensate for a slight physical deteriation.

On the Druidry side, as well as being a trustee for The Druid Network, I am now also the treasurer for said TDN. Which means I am less “visible” on the TDN forum than previously as I am working now mostly in the background. I continue to run the TDN Peace ritual, primarily through the dedicated facebook page and with almost 500 likes and from information from elsewhere, i can confidently state that from a standing start last August, we now have over a thousand people joining us each full moon.

And last, but not least, a former passion has re-entered my life. As a secondary school kid, the area that our class occupied was in the subject section of “Communications” and dealt primarily with media type equipment. Specifically for me, photography.  I was “grasped” by photography and I saved up any monies earnt to buy a Zenith SLR camera. I was able to develop the film through school and then to print my own photos, which were always placed in prominent places in the school.

After toying with both compact and then bridge cameras over the last decade, I finally brought a fully blown DSLR in the form of a Nikon D3200 and have complimented the camera with a selection of other Nikon lenses. i have Adobe photo software and, the passion is gripping me again. I love what you can do with DSLR cameras and how the software can reveal the hidden detail in photos that the eye can’t neccessarily see. I have set up a facebook page, Awen Photos, as a place I can display them.

So I’ll end this post with a selection of photos that I have recently took / worked on, as an example of the sort of stuff that I am engaging in, more and more.

 

 

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Re-enchantered landscapes (1)

I was recently pointed, through a series of “co-incidences”, to a Glen that, as it turned out, was only a half hour drive from where I now live. This Glen is known as Finnich Glen and the images that I saw from there were stunning. But more than that, they were a dead ringer for vision I had in a meditation from about 6 years ago. This vision was very strong and immersive, so it’s no surprise that it left a very definite imprint upon me. But I thought that it was just a vision from the “other-world”. Seeing the pictures from the Glen brought the vision back. I couldn’t believe the place actually existed.

So this last Sunday, I went there (after previously “scouting the place out” a couple of weeks back), armed with a recently brought DSLR. I knew from the previous scouting mission, access to the heart of the Glen was via a series of worn steps that were both slippery and loose in some places. The gradient was also about a 1 in 3 angle and some people had tied ropes to a tree that was growing there, to help with both the descent and ascent to and from the Glen’s heart. On Sunday, it was far too wet and slippery for me to tackle. This is the descent, along with the helpful tree. It’s difficult to get a sense of the descent, but I estimate the cliffs at that point to be about 90 feet in height… DSC_0050

 

So after ruling out risking damage to my aging frame, I progressed to the Glen’s exit. The water was fairly shallow and I was wearing wellingtons so I proceeded to walk up the burn. This is what met me…

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Now, I have posted these pictures on social media, with lots of interest in them and this picture has had people commenting on the faces they see in this picture. I can “see” the face of, what I class, as a Druid. See if you see it too.

A bit further in and I was met by this scene..

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At this point, I realised there were a series of pools that, although not deep, about thigh deep for my frame, were too deep for the standard wellingtons I was wearing. I couldn’t go any further. So I spent time there taking photos, altering settings to see what effects that had on the photos and generally “drinking in” the atmosphere.

I then wandered back and walked to the other entrance to the Glen, about 3/4 of a mile away. This is the other view from that entrance…

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Being a Glen made of sandstone, the contrast between the rocks in the water and the moss and algae covered walls was striking and I managed to capture it quite well with this …

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Local lore suggests the area was associated with Druids, one of the few areas in Scotland that I have come across with such a definate connection.

So all in all, this Glen has been very much in my thoughts, strikingly because of its similarity with my earlier vision and also because of the “co-incidences” of it being both close to where I live and its local connection to Druids.

I have purchased waders with the intention of walking the length of the Glen, which I will be doing in the very near future, armed with camera and other intentions of connections to be made.

To be continued….

 

Creativity & Robes

Back in the days of my youth, I was heavily into rock music. I was particularly into the likes of Rush, Rainbow,Status Quo, Meatloaf and the likes. I used to buy the vinyl albums and like a lot of people of my generation, the album sleeves were as much a reason to buy as was the music. Bat out of hell, Rainbow rising and the Status Quo Rocking all over the World covers were particular favourites of mine. Kids of my generation would purchase printed fabric with the album covers reproduced on them and then get some female relative to sew them on for them (doesn’t that sound particularly sexist now-a-days? It wasn’t as such, it was just how things “were” at that time where I lived).

Even at that age, I was an independent sort of “so and so” and didn’t particularly want what everyone else had, so decided I would personalise my jacket myself. This co-incided with what turned out to be the last ever holiday I spent with my parents. I was 16 and they had booked a self catering caravan in North Wales. North Wales in those days seemed to exist in another world. Un-beknown to my parents, they didn’t realise that on a sunday, nothing opened. That was particularly upsetting for my father who was accustomed to spending sunday lunch and early afternoon in the local hostelry’s. Not even the pubs opened in sunday! I remember being route marched around in an attempt to find some local business that may be open, but alas, to no avail!

We couldn’t even go swimming at the beach as it was infested with jellyfish (not that swimming in the sea with an air temperature of about 8C has ever held that much appeal to me!). But all through this, I didn’t care. I was using the time to customise my Rock jacket (the jacket of choice then was a Wrangler denim jacket, which I duly purchased and promptly dispensed with the sleeves). Whereas the Bat out of Hell and Rainbow Rising covers were works of art, I was always a realist and knew they were beyond my capabilities. But the Rocking all over the World album sleeve was definately within my range.

So before leaving on those fateful holidays, I purchased something that was to profoundly shock my parents at that time. I brought a lot of embroidery cotton and needles. I look back now with a mix of amusement and interest as to the timing and location of those holidays. There was nothing to do, as it turned out, so I had the time to sit in the caravan and reproduce the wording to my album of choice on the back of my new denim jacket. Now, for a father who wouldn’t even allow his two sons to be dried when getting out of a bath with pink towels in case the colouring of the towels had an “adverse effect” on them, I presented a sight of some concern. A gangly 16 year old, patiently spending hours in a caravan sewing on the back of a denim jacket.

This was the result (complete with large stain, which for the life of me, I can’t remember how that got there!)…

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It was originally “electric blue” and silver, but with time, it now just looks two shades of grey.  Fortunately for my parents, I didn’t show any other signs of impending femininity so the whole episode was summed up by my mother with the explanation of me being at “that funny age”!

Fast forward 36 years. Last year, Pauline and I purchased some ceremonial type of robes for attending outdoor rituals. Now, I have never felt the “need” to use ceremonial attire as such. It just didn’t seem necessary in my experience and I had a definate aversion to white “bedsheets”. Don’t get me wrong, I can see how they would work for a lot of people and I’m not trying to devalue this for them, but it never really “clicked” with me. But last year, for whatever reasons, I felt the “need” for something beyond the day to day attire.

I still couldn’t bring myself to purchase anything along the white robe of style and eventually, along with a brown heavy waxed cloak (useful for a somewhat moist Scottish climate), we decided on a tabbard in the natural colouring of a light beige. We sourced a maker in Wales (very appropriate for us because of our strong links and heritage with the pre christian Brythonic religious viewpoints) and I specified a large six spoked wheel on the front of mine (linked to the Brython group symbol representing a six fold wheel as opposed to the traditional pagan eight fold wheel).

Last week however, having checked the tabbard for some reason, I noticed the wheel was just an iron on transfer sort of thing and it was coming away from the fabric. It was then that the Awen struck as I decided it needed some more personalisation. So using the iron on transfer as the template, I purchased some new embroidery cotton and sat down to do something new with it. it’s not often that something consumes me to the detriment to other things, but for the last week or so, I have been consumed with this act of creation. After about 10 hours or so, I found myself looking at this….

 

 

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and a bit closer detail…

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and, to be honest, I was pretty happy with. I couldn’t just leave it as a single sided thing though so I set about the other side and another ten hours or so later, another creation was birthed…

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again, a bit closer detail…

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probably not as asthetically sharp as the wheel, but just like me, it’s not perfect. So it is a perfect fit, in that respect, for me. There is also an underlying reason for this happening now because of very specific UPG that has been bombarding me for a couple of weeks now, but I may go into that at a later date.

Now I have to find the words to tell my parents next weekend that I may have returned to my “funny age” again!!

Druid Communion

Blogs are useful things when trying to define through the written language how you are presently experiencing the world. Sometimes though, pictures do a much better job. So, with that in mind, here are some pictures of a trip out to the Galloway Forest Pauline and I took on saturday 07/02/2015

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Looking at Kirriereoch Hill and Merrick with clouds rolling over the peaks

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Grey Mare Tails falls (lower)

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Scottish Druid in communion

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View into the Glen

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Faces in the crowd

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Upper falls on the Grey Mare burn

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Red Deer Hide, Galloway Forest

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Sunset at Cairnsmore of Fleet and surrounding area

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Edit… Just in case you didn’t realise, clicking on any photo will result in a larger more detailed photo filling your screen.

Bottom up Religion

Any personal blog runs the risk of turning into an “egomaniacs charter”. What I will discuss here most definitely runs the risk of falling into that category because it is a personal disclosure, done for my own benefit to try to build some mental /spiritual cohesion at this time. I would be lying though, if I didn’t harbor a small hope that it may be of interest to others.

As an engineer by trade, I am concerned with the mechanisms that create physical change and my religious outlook is “coloured” by such thinking. If I can define the mechanisms, then that gives the experiences more credence and relevance for me. To a lot of people, this is not a concern, because the experience is more prominent and the mechanisms don’t really play much of a part in their outlook. The experience is everything. I tend to view things slightly differently.

There is an old saying that states “Sometimes you can’t see the woods for the trees”. My experience of this thing I have come to accept as my Druidry, is that the quote is most apt for me in this context.

A few days ago, when reading some comments in relation to my last blog post, I was confronted by these thoughts from a fellow TDN member…  ” Funny how you see a long and complex thread and one line leaps out and roots into your soil… The mindfulness of physicality… that stirs some thinking in me. That personal identity is intrinsically wed to, is not separate from, the physical. But when the physical is constantly dying and remaking itself on a molecular scale… how does that work? “. I am reasonably read in both physics and biology and immediately I began to consider the physical processes involved in such a thing.

But then something struck me. The scientific viewpoint creates the basis for its conclusions using the role of the impartial observer to best present evidence and make conclusions. It is a methodology proven to work within the scientific framework and is very useful in explaining processes. But it occurred to me that the detached observer hypothesis has its limitations and whereas I could consider the physical processes involved in the maintenance of the human body using that model, the model was very limited when trying to explain the “mindfulness of physicality“. The thought struck me that mindfulness may not just be a characteristic of the mind and attempting to define it through the detached observer model could only ever present a partial view.

We all know that the personal identity we have created within our bodies is one that is mostly a mental construct. It is very easy and very “natural” to consider the voice in our heads to be distinct from the body housing it. This duality has been the basis for religious thought for millenia. The idea of reincarnation is implicit, in some regards, to this idea of a duality because it suggests that though the body may perish, the “real” us will continue on in later times possibly through the inhabitation of a new physical form.

Indeed, the classical Druids propagated this idea of reincarnation and it was claimed in the classical writings that this belief would lead to acts of great, and in the views of some of the writers recording them, seemingly “crazy” acts of bravery on the battlefield because the fear of the “final” death of the body was largely negated. This position of the classical Druids is unusual because it has not been challenged in any serious way by either academia or the Neo-Druid community. If ever there was a “given” in modern Druidry, that is one of a relatively small number of the generally accepted ones.

The evidence today that we have through the various scientific studies available at this time, reveal that the human body is in a constant state of rebuilding. Everything from toe nails to the skin are constantly active because they are in a constant cycle of building and dismantling. We view our bodies as “fixed” because they are as we largely expect them to be at any one time. And this fixed status represents the foundations which our mental faculties use as their basis. We assume we think coherently because we assume we experience fixed physicality. Yet the organ most associated with the mental “us”, the brain, is not exempt from this cycle of building and dismantling. It too, is completely rebuilt every so often. Which, when we consider the “fixed” notion of the body, is actually quite disconcerting.

It is now taught that the processes of the brain that lead to mental cohesion are created by synoptic pathways that are created through the bodies physical experiences. Our habit of thinking of things in a fixed and final form means that the “logical” position, in relation to the brain, is one where we consider it ( the brain) to be like a combined central processing unit and hard drive of a computer. It can be thought of as an area of information collection, processing, distribution and storage. However, unlike a combined CPU & hard drive which is physically fixed, the constant cycle of rebuilding in it and around its environment, means that the brain is not fixed in the same way.

Because if it was, when the brain oversaw the destruction of part of its physicality through this renewal process, the information present within that area being destroyed would be lost in the destructive part of the cycle and presumably would have to be downloaded again. Thus creating a problem with a “top down” model. And to download the information, it would have to have been stored in either another area of our physical form, externally, or we would have to “relive” the experiences again to reform the pathways (groundhog day anyone?).

It occurs to me that there is no particle on Earth that has not, at some time, been recycled (unless we consider large impacts from bodies striking the Earth from space). Recycling on Earth is a natural process and is responsible for the physicality of the Earths systems and the lifeforms dependent upon them. The land we stand on is subject to Subduction meaning that even the seemingly solid Earth we stand on, has probably been recycled beneath the surface at some time in geological history. Therefore all the forms present on the Earth at this time, must also be made exclusively of materials that have been subject to natures recycling process at some time.

So, what’s the answer to this conundrum and how does it relate to the questions raised at the beginning of this post?

If everything has been subjected to the process of recycling, then it seems to me that it is more than reasonable to assume that everything also has come into contact with this thing we label as consciousness, especially if like me you hold an animist viewpoint.

I experience the Earth as a living entity therefore, again, it is not unreasonable to assume, using these experiences and that understanding, that all materials on the Earth will possess some “memory” through the result of having come into contact with consciousness. Because we sometimes take the simplistic approach that consciousness equates to lifeforms displaying physical movement, an inert object is assumed to not possess any animating life force or other such qualities.

That assumption is flawed in my opinion and now, more importantly, in my experience (and I confess as to following that simplistic logic of equating life with movement, for a good period of my life). Interactions create movement and change (a phrase I particularly like in relation to this is transmutation, within a shamanic context), they are changed by interactions with “others”. We know from the rebuilding of the brain, that there is a reasonable suggestion that information may be stored in other things, be them physical or other. Our understanding of the “I” we experience tends to paint the intellect as somehow separate from the body, something that oversees the bodies functions through the sub-conscious and that the body is subject to the will of the intellect. A tool with which the intellect experiences this thing we know as life. A “top down” model for the experience of life.

But using that model leads to the position noted in the earlier quote ” But when the physical is constantly dying and remaking itself on a molecular scale… how does that work? ” . It is assumed that the brain is directing both the destruction and rebuilding of the physical whilst maintaining our personal identity.

So let us consider an alternative, away from the brain “top down” model.

Let us consider the idea that the “new” materials that are introduced into the body on a regular basis, or even those that we may be in contact with in the external environment (noting the earlier position that nothing is actually “new”) are in possession of the “latent ability” of transferring consciousness into the new host. They are enabled through their earlier interactions with consciousness prior to the recycling process. They may retain some of the information exchanged in their previous guise, which can be either untouched or refined through the recycling process.

Therefore the intellect may be able to connect to the new materials at the beginning of the bodies recycling process, through this enhanced suitability of the introduced materials. The intellect may then be in a position to work with or transfer into, these new materials almost immediately.

It maybe that this “suitability” enables the intellect to engage with materials at this early stage without large resources within the brain having to be engaged in the transfer of intellect or information. This idea then reduces the complex model needed for the brain to do the delicate juggling act of overseeing the destruction and recycling of the physical form whilst retaining the intellect.

Therefore, it’s not the brain taking total responsibility for the transfer of the intellect (the top down model) but the interactions and conditions created by the introduced “primed” materials maybe playing a proactive part in the bodies recycling process (a bottom up process). Introduction of the materials may then lead to this thing we call mindfulness being present within the body.

It may now be the case that the brain does not have to commit large resources to the act of the retention of the intellect, because the acquisition of fresh “infused or primed” materials the body comes into contact with may provide a “primed conduit” that makes the transfer of the intellect into new materials seamless, efficient and resource reduced.

It’s a subtle change of emphasis but it fits better with both my personal experiences and understandings at this time.  It is a “bottom up” process, not a “top down” one. Constant interactions with recycled materials throughout historical time give rise to the idea that everything the materials came into contact with may have left markers in those materials.  This fits in with a very old impression I had ( I think I was about ten when the idea occurred to me) regarding how the physical form may leave “markers” at all the places we visit in the physical world.

If we are also of the opinion that the lifeforms we may experience in the non physical side of life are subject to the same laws of nature, and my own Druidry is implicit in its premise that there is nothing outside of nature, then it can only be the case that these materials may also contain markers from the non physical side of life as well. Which leads one down the path as to a possible explanation for the mechanisms that may be in play when someone experiences life “outside” of the physical norm. Our ancestors, Gods or Goddesses’ may indeed, be alive within us in a very “real” way.

The idea of bottom up consciousness fits better into my animist viewpoint and experiences because the building of mindfulness and it’s maintenance are reliant upon the materials from the Earth in providing conduits that may create a greater number of connections for consciousness to develop within the physical form. And these materials, far from being just inert materials, may actually be proactive in creating the conditions for us to experience interactions that may then go on to shape our thoughts, ideas and experiences.

This idea of mindfulness being a result of materials infused by previous interactions with consciousness and then being enhanced by natures recycling processes, is probably the “best fit” in regards to a more “complete” understanding of my Druidry at this time. Of course, this process need not be “one way” and my own physical practices within my Druidry suggest that we are capable of deliberately adding our own “flavour” to these hosting materials.

These ideas fit my experiences well at this time. And as with most things within modern Druidry, it may not actually represent anything other than a personal and / or unique expression of my own Druidic experience and practice.

It’s an idea that is going to take some further thinking. It’s entirely possible that others may have come to a similar conclusion much earlier on than I have and may be much further down this particular line of thinking than I am. I believe that I always “knew” this concept, but until now, wasn’t in a position to adequately express it through the written medium. But the more I think about this idea of a bottom up consciousness that is the root of religious experience, the more it appears to make sense to me at this minute in time.

 

 

The Transitory Nature of Titles

If there is one topic that is bound to create interest, discussion and (usually) disagreements, it’s the role of titles within the Druid community.  Emma Restall Orr’s recent disclosure that she no longer uses the title of Druid for herself has created some discussions about this as well.

Titles can give a person some form of permanence in their lives. It (usually) is a signal of the achievement of a personal goal or objective. A level of understanding and experience that warrants a statement. For many years, after first encountering Druidry, research into the classical and historical information meant that, although I strongly aligned myself to what I saw was “common” druidic ideas, I wouldn’t adopt the title for myself at that time. I wasn’t at the “right place” to warrant it.

Once one has reached that level of “competence” to warrant the title, it is not surprising that people would wish to continue to attach some form of worth on it. My own experience in this mirrors my experience within my own work experience. That is, reaching the level of competence, whilst worth celebrating and taking a pride in, in most cases, the reality is that it just marks the start of the serious work. Again, using another analogy, passing your driving test means you are then in a position to start to learn about the reality of driving.

So whilst celebration and personal satisfaction with the achievement of a title are (in my opinion) a good thing, the title itself can then run the risk of becoming self-limiting. Because it marks a specific place in time. Again, in my experience, the continuing accumulations of both experiences and relationships that are revealed in the subsequent personal journeys of individuals means that, for a lot of people, a title can then run the risk of becoming self-limiting. Because that marker in time (the title) can create almost a spiritual and physical brake on a persons own journey.

It therefore occurs to me that a title can only be a useful thing if it’s relevance remains within the context of the journey being experienced at that time. And my experience of the only law of nature that appears to be an absolute (apart from the one that is that we all die), namely the only constant in life is change, means that for the majority of people, the acquisition of a title will eventually lead to a relinquishment of that very same title (be that completely or partially) at some stage.

This thing we call life involves the almost involuntary accumulations of experiences. The attaining of a title marks a particular place in time, a place of sanctuary from which to collate and appraise those experiences. But, in my opinion, sanctuary can run the risk of becoming a prison if one is forced to appraise the ongoing experiences from that one place in time. And that appears to me to be in direct contravention of that prime directive.

For some people, the title attained may provide that safe sanctuary with which to appraise life’s experiences. It may continue to provide a useful and appropriate place from which to work. But it is also completely “natural” that people may wish to move on from that particular marker, without it necessarily marking a move away from the basic premise of the sanctuary (the title).

At this time, my own confirmed title of Druid continues to be appropriate and I suspect will be for quite a number of years to come. But I wouldn’t at all be surprised if my path follows a similar path to that which Emma has now reached in her own journey.

 

 

Sowing the Seeds of Self Evidence

This phrase was gifted to me the other day whilst out experiencing my usual “walking trance”. It wasn’t difficult for me to realise where this had originated from. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been reading the books of Daniel Quinn, namely “Ishmael” and “The Story of B”. To some of you reading this, these books may be old hat, seeing as they were originally published in the early to mid 1990’s (and I understand Ishmael was originally penned in 1977). However, I hadn’t heard of them myself and was alerted to them by a “not unheard of” series of synchronous events that have a regular habit of impacting on me from time to time.

The basic premise of the books deals with the possible reasons for the collective cultural amnesia we seem to have regarding what is now termed as “prehistory”. Quinn suggests, then goes on to articulate, why this may be. Through the books suggestions and conclusions, Quinn goes on to call for the re-establishment of tribal practices through the premise that tribalism better represents evolution because of its inherent compliance with the natural prerogative of diversity.

This has connected with me, I suspect, because of the tribal histories of the UK that I have studied and experienced in many forms in various landscapes within the UK. Reading these books has now shone a new light on those understandings and interactions.

His astute appraisal of our post ice-age culture which he terms as “totalitarian agriculture” matches with some of my own experiences. Understanding the mechanisms and some of the consequent behavioural patterns that formed through the totalitarian agriculture model approach has now given me much to ponder on (including the re-appraisal of some “givens”, always a good thing in my opinion). And one unexpected consequence was that my understanding of my connection with and through my own Druidry has been strengthened through these new understandings.

I have now come to realise that my inability to connect with and through a monotheistic framework was, in part, based in my incompatibility with the basic premise of a “one” way that appears to be a direct result of the totalitarian agricultural cultural model. A culture whose successful implementation provided excesses in food that were unknown and unexperienced before and which led to fundamental departures from earlier social, religious and work practices through its total assimilation into the post ice age cultures.

Quinn clarifies the fact that the ancestors of the modern human has been around for around 3 million years and that for them to have survived, their survival strategy must have worked well before the totalitarian agriculture model came in. It’s an obvious statement on the face of it, but the reality behind the strategy is something you don’t really give too much time to consider and our mindset isn’t encouraged to because of the obvious lack of evidence.

It has been “relegated” to prehistory. But it’s the length of time that prehistory actually spans that we forget and through our cultural amnesia, our current models only refer back as far as the ending of the last ice age. And that’s because totalitarian agricultural practices have so utterly removed us from our previous models.

What we can deduct however, is that it wasn’t the same culture as the post ice-age one. Again, on the face of it, an obvious statement. But the reality that the vast majority of the history that “modern humans” have been on the earth, the strategy that worked was one that resulted in diverse cultures that were numerically restricted through their intimate relationship with and through their environment.

The agricultural model went on to place humanity outside of that model and consequently largely outside of nature, because the normal limiting natural processes that would act upon the populations were largely removed because of the over-riding directive of land appropriation for food production.

Quinn places this time of divergence as the time when humanity went from a largely “giving” culture to a “taking” culture (the terminology of such, Quinn through his characters, confirmed only represented a base understanding and a coarse representation). The pre-agricultural societies representing a “giver” society and the later agricultural one, a “taking” society.

I would be dis-ingenuous if I were to try to imply I would prefer to live in a tribal culture on the strength of reading these books. As with most other things, these books don’t represent “the answer”, but point out some of the things that we may have forgotten or just taken as granted in our modern world, though Quinn points out why it has been so easy for us to forget the realities through assumptions or even coercion fostered in the post ice-age cultural model.

I am left with the seeds of new connections in my hands. How I utilise them is something not yet clear, though use them, I feel, I must.

 

The Celtic Druids Year

 

 

Seasonal Cycles of the Ancient Celts

by John King. 1994 – Blandford  – ISBN 0713724633 (paperback)

 

I was alerted to this book by having the good fortune to be in contact with the author through the face book page I co-admin – Scottish Druids. I will confess up front here and admit I had neither heard of the author or the book previous to this. I believe the book is now out of print, the copy I obtained through Amazon at an unbelievably good price through a seller of second-hand books.

The first thing I noticed was that at the beginning of each chapter, the author sets out the facts as he saw them at that time and how he was going to build upon them. I like this approach because it means that you can build up an understanding of how and where the author is coming from and the mental processes involved in the presentation of the materials.

There is a lot of well researched information in this book, the author demonstrating admirable attention to detail. He makes some interesting associations early on about the relationship between Druidry and the other early religions. I  myself didn’t necessarily agree with some of these, but I was conscious that I was reading something from 20 years ago and further information through later archaeological and academic finds may be “colouring” my own conclusions.

The style of writing I found to be very easy to read and with enough attention to detail to keep me engaged (always a good sign). Although the book is now 20 years old, it didn’t “feel” that old. Some books loose relevancy sometimes very quickly, but this one, in my opinion, has stood the test of time very well.

The second half of the book dealt with how the author had built up his own ideas about the form and function of the seasonal year in context with the Celts and he makes clear at the beginning of that section that these ideas don’t have the weight of strong academic or archaeological evidence behind them but rather they are the result of his own research and methodology. And again, though I don’t necessarily agree with all his conclusions, the model he presents is workable and, in my opinion,  with some considerable merit.

All in all, I am very grateful to have been pointed into the direction of this gem of a book. If you can find a copy of this, it is well worth purchasing. I have spent considerably more money on recent books that were, frankly, not of the standard of this book.

Recommended!

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