Scorched Earth (Epilogue)

This last Tuesday 5/4/16, Pauline and I went on our agreed pilgrimage to Kirkby Stephen. The reasons for this were explained in the last three posts, plus Pauline had been researching Loki after being “introduced” to him since the end of last year.

So reasonably early, we traveled the 145 miles from our home in Glasgow to Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria, arriving mid to late morning.  The morning was cloudy but dry with a stiff breeze blowing. My recent travels had armed me with the necessary information as to where the various buildings we needed to find were. So we found the church easily and proceeded to enter it.

We were met with the following scene as we opened the main door..  DSC_7918

Obviously, the stone wasn’t hidden away in the corner somewhere, it had pride of place as it seems that the locals recognised its “value”.

Closer inspection revealed the following..

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Modern digital cameras pick out details sometimes not obvious to the human eye and this was the case with this photograph. The light was quite subdued (being inside a church, that was not a surprise) so bringing the camera was a dual exercise, both to record for posterity and to show finer details that we may not have been aware of at the time.

In all, we probably spent around a hour in that church. It had other things of interest (I was particularly interested with a shap granite and Italian marble pulpit that was commissioned by a combination of a Freemason lodge and an Archaeological society). Very few people were around (I think maybe only five people came in and only for about 15 minutes) so we spent some time in the church on our own just in the presence of the stone. With the subject of the stone being was it was, I expected to “sense” some sort of tension in the church, but a little to my surprise, I didn’t sense any whatsoever.

There appeared to be a balance there. With my previous experiences in Kirkby Stephen, that maybe shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise, the area seemed to me to be a “cauldron” where seemingly fundamentally different spiritual outlooks have successfully found some sort of equilibrium in the fabric of the place, but I should also acknowledge that other people may not experience a similar sense, our mental and biological makeups may result in very different feelings for some people. The cauldron analogy also worked with the physical location, Kirkby Stephen being surrounded on all sides by hills.

Before leaving home, we had agreed that we would make libations in and to the local area. As such, we took with us a particularly fine organic single malt along with a bullroarer as both of us work with sound when making libations and offerings. So we left the church and went down to the river Eden where we found some information boards as to the local area. Our eyes were took by information regarding a modern reconstruction of some cairns so we set off in search of them.

The wind remained stiff and clouds shuttled past at speed, sometimes rain was felt on the wind but past quickly and we were fortunate not to get wet. On our way following the path, we came across this individual, whose presence we both thoroughly enjoyed along with assorted sheep, pheasants and others..

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Onwards we went, getting progressively higher as the physical cauldron demonstrated it’s physical attributes. After a couple of miles, we caught sight of the Cairns but much to our disappointment, the journey would have taken us over the time limits we had imposed on ourselves for the day to reach them properly, so in sight of the Cairns and on a high spot in the landscape we decide this was the place for our offerings and libations.

With the wind subsiding a little, I proceeded to set up and use the bullroarer to announce our presence to the local spirits. Pauline then proceeded to offer libations to the spirits and Gods of that place and we left a healthy amount of single malt scattered in the landscape. We both felt that these had been met with approval as we finished our small ceremony.

We turned back from the Cairns and proceeded to start the descent from the high point. Within a few minutes, a black form flew over us and the double bass “konk – konk” from a Raven was heard. With both of us having spiritual associations with Ravens, we took this as a very good indicator that our offerings had, indeed, been accepted.

We continued down the road and as the roadside swept to our left, we were met by this scene..

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If ever a physical representation of Scorched Earth was presented, I think it safe to say, this was as good as any!

 

 

 

 

Scorched Earth (Part 3)

So, Loki. Not a God that I had much information about to be honest. As an animist Druid, I acknowledge their (the Gods) presence and I have limited experience of some of their perceived individuality. But my biology (which is what I have come to understand is the biggest factor in how and why I experience the spiritual in the way that I do ) hasn’t really engaged with deity interactions. But there are two sides in any form of relationship and I have come to acknowledge their (the Gods) ability to influence my experiences and, every so often, they demonstrate it.

As I said in part 1, Pauline had recently been “nudged” by Loki and had been doing some research about him. And an interesting character he appears to be as well. I found this piece to be informative as it dispelled some of the recent Hollywood preconceptions surrounding him as a result of recent films. One of the generally agreed qualities of Loki appears to be his ability to cross boundaries. And that was one of the first “feelings” I had about how and why he was involved in these experiences.

But my experience of Loki wasn’t a direct one as such, as I believe he was working with the Spirit of Place, allowing the Spirit of Place to be “in the foreground” so to speak whilst he remained very much “in the background but definitely present”. The Spirit of Place was to be the “mouthpiece” in these interactions. Which interested me because most accounts of Loki suggest he is hardly the “meek and mild” type.

So why this approach, apart from it would logically be the sensible way to interact with me? Could this be part of the “trickster” aspect? My gut feeling then suggested no and a week later I haven’t changed my opinion. No, there was something else. Then I read this piece that Pauline had pointed my way and things began to take shape. I was particularly struck by Loki’s association with fire and the Hearth. And there are two reasons for that.

First, Pauline describes herself as a “Hearth Druid”, her practice revolves around home and hearth. Second, fire. That one sunk in quickly as partially formed information that had been planted by the Spirit of Place when travelling through Kirkby Stephen, began to take shape in my mind when I read that page.

Unless some piece of extraordinary archaeology is discovered in the Kirkby Stephen area in the future, there is no way I can claim this information to be “fact”. But I will record it anyway, if nothing else, for my own benefit and to acknowledge that the Spirit of Place and, indirectly Loki, did interact with me then.

The impression that I got very strongly was that Loki and the Spirit of Place worked very closely together at a local level in the area surrounding Kirkby Stephen. That was why the Loki stone was still present in Kirkby Stephen. But why would this arrangement have taken place and why was it still present?

Reading that page clarified the basic idea for me. The earlier practices seen with the Scottish archaeology, of burning trees and structures to create memories and actions of and with the landscape, had been particularly conducive for Loki. And as with any relationship, it must have been conducive for the Spirit of Place also. The fire practices of Northern Britain must have presented an opportunity for the two parties to engage in this arrangement and relationship.

So I now have come to believe that knowledge of these earlier practices of the Northern British must still have been around in the local kirkby Stephen population when, in all probability, Scandinavian people settled in the area. This ancient knowledge ( of the Northern Britons) would also explain why I felt the presence of the Spirit of Place so strongly, it was very much rooted there through communal ritual practices. My “gut feeling” is that certain ancient practices are still probably known there by some and if not practiced today, at least respected.

I also now believe that such a ritual was carried out in the Kirkby Stephen in the time when the Loki stone was created. An integration between two complimentary communities. It was, and still is, a unique experience for me.

I have never experienced the presence of a deity when engaged in interactions with Spirit of Place. Up till now, they seemed to be very much different entities. To have experienced this has broadened my horizon, so to speak, and I am still processing stuff as I write this. Some of it is too fanciful to commit to record as yet, so I’m not going to record them today.

Pauline and I have committed to visiting the Loki stone in the coming month to see what extra experiences each of us may have there. So there may be another post continuing this at some time in the future, if I can be as sure and clear about it as I was with what I have written about in this series of posts. An interesting set of “co-incidences”, if nothing else!

 

Scorched Earth (Part 2)

This post is the second piece of my personal account of the events that immediately followed my first post which set out the background for my experiences with, and of, Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria. I make no claim for “authority” with these accounts, I’m recording these as much for my own benefit as anything else so as I don’t “forget” the details as time moves on. Plus I find it better to record these things close to when they happened as the mind tends to be more focused and hopefully more accurate as to detail.

So, I’m heading back into Kirkby Stephen from the south after being diverted for a second time in 36 hours and I’m suddenly aware of a stream of information coming into me (best phrasing I can use to give an approximation as to the experience).

When I am driving, like a lot of people, I drive with music playing. A large part of my working life for over 35 years has been spent driving, so I have spent a lot of time listening to music. With my current vehicle, the unit can play music from USB drives. I find this very useful as it means I can play music for hours without having to replace the CD every 45 minutes or so. My current USB drive has around 50 CD’s on it and the unit has the ability to play the music in random order. I like this feature as it stops me getting bored with the same order and I get some sort of “strange pleasure” in extracting meaning from the playing order the unit throws at me every now and again.

As I enter Kirby Stephen, the unit decides to throw this one at me. It’s worth taking time out here to listen to this all the way through so as to get a feel to the song and you will also notice the significance of the song title.

The first “presence” making itself known to me, is what I can only explain as probably one of the oldest Spirits of Place I have ever encountered. In my experience, Spirits of Place don’t necessarily convey a sense of age with their presences, time is more for our understanding than a concern of theirs but I believe this information was more to emphasize the longevity of its connection to Kirkby Stephen than to try to impress me with an approximation of its own lineal time frame.

I then also got a sense of wood smoke (can’t say I actually smelt it in “reality” but more that it was part of the “whole” stream of information that engaging all of my senses). I was immediately put in mind to some of the work of Gordon Noble, specifically his book “Neolithic Scotland: Timber, Stone, Earth & Fire”.

The connection was made ( or put, depending upon your viewpoint) about how the Neolithic people in Scotland (and presumably because I was making the connection in my mind at that current physical location, Northern England as well) are suggested to have ritually created memories of people, places and events by the act of burning timber, be that buildings, enclosures or posts.

Interestingly, in that particular book dated some ten years now, it was specified how all the timber that had been found and tested was Oak (in Scotland definitely, but also it had been found in Ireland and Middle and Southern England as well). It was suggested that this may have been because of the Oaks known ability to resist rotting made it obvious building material. It was also reported that burning Oak in situ until it has burnt away completely is not easy, which is what apparently had happened with these sites. I couldn’t also not help making what, on the surface, could be a fanciful connection to Druidry through it’s suggested connection to the Oak.

The book also reported the evidence of repeated burnings on some sites and that with one site in particular in Perthshire, the act of throwing soil on the burning timber seems to have been done to help create the heat to burn the timber completely and that it resulted in “burnt Earth that turned red / orange” which had been found in situ at that site. Scorched earth.

Fire has been associated with the elements popularly in many modern pagan traditions. Air, Water, Earth and Fire. But for me, fire is different from those other elements. I can understand it’s placing with those other elements, but to me, it’s ability to transform is probably more defining for me personally, placing it as a process rather than an element.

So, I had these ideas form in my mind and even though some of the Scottish neolithic practices were dated to over 5000 years ago, I was made aware that the practices had not been forgotten until comparatively recently.

Obviously, my living in Scotland now may have contributed to these connections being made, but looking at it now, I believe it was the best way the Spirit of Place could have used to convey part of its reason for interacting with me at that time and place. The other part was its (the Spirit of Place’s) connection with Loki, which I’ll deal with in the next post.

 

 

 

Scorched Earth (Part 1)

Spiritual experience can be a strange thing. Sometimes we may crave it and get roundly ignored and other times, it appears to hit you around the head. I have recently experienced the latter.

A little background would be a useful thing before I launch into this. For the last couple of months, my partner (and soon to be wife) Pauline has experienced being “nudged” by a new deity. That deity being Loki. Now, as anyone who has read more than a couple of my blog posts will realise, I don’t “do” deity. That is to say, as an animist, my spiritual work is based with the “other than human communities”.

That doesn’t mean I don’t “believe” in deities, it’s just that interactions with the lifeforms we may think of as deity have been very limited. As a clairsentient, I don’t think I connect well with the concept or the practicalities of deities. Either ways, in 53 years of Earthly form, I have only directly experienced interactions with named deities on three separate occasions. Now I believe that number has increased to four.

This equinox weekend, I travelled from my home in Scotland back to the place of my birth in the East Midlands for the 74th birthday of  my father. Unusually, both my parents were born on the equinoxes, my mother being born on the 21st of September so whereas a lot of people don’t relate strongly with the equinoxes, I most definately do.

Because of the distance involved, some 270 odd miles, I have the habit of starting off very early in the morning (think 3.30 to 4am). So I started my journey at 3.45am. I know the route very well and don’t need to use sat-nav, however, I do program the route as I find the journey information regarding the number of miles left to travel to be useful. So program it I did.

And off I went. Just over a third of the way down, I turn off the M6 onto the A66 to travel through Cumbria and on to the Northern Pennines at Penrith. I got to that junction at around 6am. My sat-nav however, was instructing me to journey further down the M6 for another two junctions. At that time of the morning, there is no traffic and there were no road closures or notices for such. Intrigued, I decided to “humour” it and follow it (and the route was only a further 14 miles, which in the scope of that journey, was hardly a hardship).

So the sat-nav instructed route sent me to Kirkby Stephen. For those of you who are not familar with either Loki or Kirkby Stephen’s associations with him, this may help.  Both Pauline and I had agreed previously that it may be a useful thing to visit Kirkby Stephen in the near future to visit this relic and get a feel for the place. Seems like I was getting personalised instructions.

Of course, at that time in the morning, there was no traffic and I found myself driving slowly through Kirkby Stephen so as to find out the location of the church. As it turned out, and as anyone who has visited that place previously will tell you, it’s not hard to find. Instructions received loud and clear.

So I carried on my journey, arriving safely a couple of hours later and enjoying a very good 24 odd hours with my parents. On that journey back, again I set the sat-nav so as to have a mile counter for my journey. After a couple of hours, I hit the A66 again. Roads clear again (though at 11am on a Sunday morning, not as quiet as the journey down) and I’m not expecting the sat-nav to try to deviate me as conditions were good with sunny skies.

The sat-nav had other ideas. Arriving at the junction with the road I had previously been routed to, I was instructed to take that route again. Absolutely no reason for it to set that route, the A66 was clear (though there was some resurfacing going on, but it wasn’t causing any problems). So, for the extra 14 miles, I “humoured” it again.

When I got to Kirkby Stephen this time, from the other end, I found myself being bombarded with information, which I’ll discuss in the next blog posts.

 

 

 

Redefining purpose

It has been a while since I last posted, mainly because of moving into the realms of the self employed and all that such a thing involves. Plus I have a certain wedding to help sort out, so it fair to say that my Druidry has taken somewhat a backseat in my life of late.

My work has gone far better than I thought it would with last month being my best month to date and things looking very positive at the minute. I am also looking forward to getting married to Pauline in the summer (hence having to help sort out a wedding). I continue to enjoy photography and my better than expected work results have allowed me to upgrade my camera quicker than I had tentatively planned for.

However, yesterday Druidry re-entered my life again (not that it had left it, just that it has now re-emerged more towards the “front” again).

Like a lot of people, I have felt the despair with the current crop of (in my opinion, manufactured) conflicts playing out at this time. With me running the facebook page for the TDN Peace ritual , I am seeing increasing numbers of people interacting with our small ritual which they are finding compatible with their own morality. The ritual was worded to be as inclusive as possible and it is good to see that it seems to be achieving that objective with currently over 1100 people having expressed an interest in, or committing to, performing it regularly.

I think like most people of my generation, I have considered it to be appropriate to keep myself updated with the news. Since 1991, that has been almost exclusively through TV news (and mostly the BBC) having stopped buying “newspapers” in that year (because I considered that descriptor to be a breach of the trades description act! ). But the reporting of the conflicts of the world today now appears to me to be more an exercise of introducing fear and distraction into the population than actually reporting on the facts.

Any news program today consists of 95% bad news followed by a “light” article to lift the mood at the end. And I now believe that the media news outlets are now no more than the psychological tools of the governments and arms manufacturers. For example, did anyone else spot that the banking ethics enquiry had been scrapped on December 31? (which suggests that the tactic of it being a “good day to bury bad news” is still alive and well).

So our self-imposed responsibility of keeping ourselves up to date with the “news” is an ideal tool by which to deflect and distract the masses as to the reality of the situation. I have been as guilty as anyone else in getting involved in online discussions about situations I could not possibly have any control or influence in, which is what the purpose of 24 hour news channels is, in my opinion. They swamp people with “facts” so that people end up talking about the side issues and not the main issues. Social media gives people the “space to voice their opinion” and so as people continue to argue an debate about it, the authorities and their corporate pals get on with creating profit from conflict. Distraction techniques.

So I have decided to reduce my involvement in such things (I will still continue to do what I consider to be “right” in my dealings with people in the “real” world, but the online discussions about current affairs will reduce significantly). I now view news programs to just be distraction techniques for the authorities.

I cannot influence things that I “see” on news programs so I have come to the realisation that as a Druid, I should be concerning myself more with that which I can influence and interact with. And as an animist Druid, that would be the Land.

One of the things that made me doubtful about whether I would be a Druid many years ago was the assertion that the classical Druids were “intercessors between people and their Gods”. The classical definition of this was that the Druids performed the same function as the later priests / imams/ insert religious title of your choice. But I have come to realise that definition maybe one that was done just used to cater for the understanding of a later monotheistic readership.

I know of a lot of Druids who would not wish to define themselves by such terms and yesterday, a very clear “message” came through to me that such a definition was not correct.

All humans come into this world with the ability to create change. Indeed, in my experience, change is the only constant in this world. Every human is capable of creating some change on this physical Earth though some, through circumstance or cultural controls, choose or feel obliged to minimise that ability. But part of the message I got yesterday, was that it is important to realise that every human has the ability to create change and if we realise that, we can take back some of the power lost through the dis-empowering media news techniques. And so I decided that I will change the areas where I choose to try to foster this change with my own creative energy.

Too much of my creative energy has been directed to certain sections of the virtual and cultural worlds that I have inhabited of late, it is time to focus on the land more, where that creative energy can have some actual positive effect. My focus now will be to spend more of that creative energy in and with the land and not with / on the human communities, who will continue on with or without me.

The “intercessors” role has now been redefined for me, not as an intermediary between people and Gods, but as an instigator for change working with the land, for the benefit of the land and all the entities that use and communicate with and through the land. My Druid role therefore, has been moved away from the “priest” type of role (which to be perfectly honest, is a role I have had difficulty with as far as Druidry is concerned) and more an instigator for positive change with the land.

Yesterday I started that role by creating my own ritual and leaving an offering with the intention of bringing some positive change for the land that I was standing on at that time. That particular piece of land, as it turned out, is speculated to be the site of an early battle between the Britons of Strathclyde and the more Northerly Picts who it was claimed were trying to invade. The little known Battle of Ardunnion.

The fact that I felt compelled to perform this ritual and make my offering at the site of early human conflict is also significant. I felt that I was being instructed that as a self defined land Druid, performing this at a site of previous human conflict was now what was needed from me and thus how I can, as a Druid, now create change in both the physical and spiritual realms. My role as a Druid would be to create change in areas that still have some negative human influence through previous conflicts.  I can help reduce some of the negative human influence still present in those areas by performing my own Druid rituals and offerings. I can see me visiting many areas of previous conflict with the same intentions over the coming years.

I am not going to go into detail about the ritual I created, too much conflict has been caused by people claiming prescriptive actions have to be “authorised” for them to work. A position the major religions have been quite at ease to foster as it forms part of their “power” base.

I would expect anyone who reads this to have their own ideas as to how they could create their own ritual / offerings and as such, I would encourage you to go out and devise your own type of ritual.

Another part of the message I got through yesterday was that many of the classical Druids may not have held the role that was defined by the early writings that used the frameworks of the later monotheistic religious modelling.  For many, the Druid role may have been more about interacting with the land as a human spiritual instigator for the good of the land, reducing previous human influence, as opposed to them being like the later priestly monotheistic type of role concerned mainly with the benefit of the human populations.

I appreciate, for some Druids, the “priestly” type of role is indeed their calling. But I was also left in no doubt that there was definately a section within classical Druidry (and therefore should be within modern Druidry) that may be better served concentrating in improving the “lot” of the land as opposed to the “lot” of humanity. And this can be done by regular rituals and offerings with the land that concentrates on benefiting the land and not on any fortuitous or contrived side effect of benefiting humanity.

There is no “right” way to do this as such. Everyone must think of appropriate ways to fulfill this using their own morality and ethics but by there being no standardised way of doing this, I was informed, means the effects will be “stronger”, for want of a better word, because of this increased diversity of rituals through using non-standardised models.

I realise that for some reading this, this may not be “news” and that their path may have had them on a similar type of role for maybe years. I am also aware that a lot of people who have worked through the OBOD and BDO courses have come to a similar conclusion. But I can only relate this as and when I experience these things for myself and because I have not done any of the OBOD or BDO course work, the fact that I have arrived at a similar conclusion through an entirely different methodology and set of experiences, certainly for me, adds weight to the idea that what I experienced yesterday is “true”. And as such, even if it is only for my own benefit, I have felt compelled to pen this today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epiphany…

……..  is a relatively small word. According the Oxford dictionary it can be defined as “ A moment of sudden and great revelation or realization. “. It’s not a word to be thrown around lightly. I think it’s probably fair to state that most people will have experienced something like this at various times throughout their lives (if they are lucky). I have had many “little” ones, when pieces of the jigsaw suddenly were revealed for what they were to me and then fitted better into the bigger picture.

But I have never had a “big” one. Until now. And I’m changed because of it.

I’ve been writing on this blog for just over three years now and have manged to “pen” something in most months since starting this blog from another one I did (which ran also for about three years). So that’s probably over six years that I’ve been engaging in this sort of stuff. Initially, my “style” was probably more like an academic style, citing references and trying to come to conclusions but that changed over the years and I’m probably now writing in the most “personal” style I have ever written. But I’m not a writer and I have no ambitions to be one, my work with blogs has, to an extent, left me feeling that at worst, my writing represents nothing better than “naval gazing”. I have seen how other people that I have respect for (and still do) have had various trials and tribulations engaging in their passion for writing and the tolls it can extract (take a bow Nimue Brown et al).

But it’s not a passion with me, I’m better “face to face”. So I’ll be drastically cutting back on what I write. At the minute I’d probably estimate it may only be twice a year, but it may not even be that. That is because the direction of my life has changed. I’m no longer full time employed, having taken voluntary redundancy I have now entered the realms of the self employed and being a heating engineer, my “busy” period is fast approaching. And being that busy doesn’t lend itself to clear thought or good self expression in my experience.

But that isn’t my epiphany.

I’ve been “in” the pagan scene for over twenty years now. I was initially attracted to Druidry because of a small introductory book borrowed from my local library which was penned by Emma Restall Orr. It was the first pagan literature that I connected with and I was left thinking “Yes, I’ve found something that talks to my soul here”  Because of that book, I brought my very first PC (running the then “new” windows 98) to be able to find out more and possibly connect with like minded individuals. And shortly after that (I think it was at the end of 2000) I found and joined The Druid Network.

After then, I read up everything I could get hold of (in both the virtual world and the real one) and there came a time when the lack of “facts” surrounding the classical Druids meant I “left” Druidry and I engaged with the “reconstructionist” type of engagement. But I have been over this stuff before and written about it so I’m not going to carry on with the chronological order of my experience with Druidry.

My experiences of the ” other world” have been in what I now come to understand as being in an animistic framework. People have relationships with deities (including my own Pauline) and I have never doubted the existence of these beings, but apart from three isolated instances, I have not been a party to this type of interaction. My own interactions have been with the “other than human communities”.

I’m not trying to qualify these types of experiences or place them into some sort of hierarchical structure, that stupid game is one other religions have been engaging in for thousands of years to the cost of millions of lives. But like a lot of people, I have been on a lifelong “mission” to better understand, and therefore better engage, in spiritual relationships. And I’m at a stage where I can state I’m reasonably happy all that time hasn’t been wasted.

But that isn’t my epiphany.

My spiritual relationships are based upon interactions with numerous “voices” (which sounds like a good case study for a psychology degree). They do not come through as a distinct single voice, such as one may think a singular deity would use when engaging. As time has gone on, these “voices” are now not so much verbal communications as “feelings” which I have come to understand as being defined today as clairsentience. I don’t so much hear as feel (though the communications do come through as “worded” to me after the experience). I work with communities of “other than humans”.

Last week, I received this book after reading a book review of it. It’s interest to me, if I have made myself clear with the last couple of paragraphs, should be obvious. It’s a very “easy” style of book to read, more like an overview as opposed to a scientific and referenced book which I understand has led some to question its validity (typical of some attitudes today, if it doesn’t fit into the neatly shaped parameters they work with, it doesn’t count). But to me, it’s been an epiphany.

I’m not going to do a detailed review of it but just point out some things which have led me to make my statement about it being an epiphany for me (to some people, this may not seem to be a “big” thing, but to me, it was like someone had finally provided me with the glue to connect everything I had experienced over my fifty something years of physical existence).

First, the author makes us aware that around 97% of the entire bio-mass of the Earth is plant. Animals represent just 0.3% and that is “every animal including all of humanity at this time”. I have often rejected the human-centric attitude of modern western society but with a fact like that, it could be argued that there is an animal-centric attitude. This is important because in the book, the author outlines why he thinks that our definition of life and intelligence has been far too narrow. And I find his reasoning to be compelling.

Next, using the commonly held understanding of how the senses we have define our understanding of what we consider to be both intelligent and sentient, he uses some of the latest information to show how plants do not only possess the five senses animals do, but at least ten others as well. He uses the definition of intelligence as “the ability to problem solve” and goes on to show that plants not only are capable of such a thing, but in some cases, are far more evolved than animals are.

But the main piece which led me to make my statement of epiphany was in how the author went on to demonstrate that life doesn’t just exist in specialist organ biological form that animals possess (for example, the common assumption that for “intelligence to be evident” there has to be a brain to control it) but is present in greater numbers in a collective modular form, which is what he is proposing is the form of intelligence plants use. It’s a progression of the “super swarm ” theory and is one that for me now fits in so well with my experiences.

This post is long enough without me expanding on what I have just written about but if you are interested and can beg, borrow or buy the book, I would recommend it. It may not be an epiphany for you, but it will certainly change how you think about life on the physical plain and our definition of it.

 

 

Druidry & Separation

The over-riding prerogative in the western world today appears to be tending to the needs of our economy. Everything else is relegated to the role of passive objectivity, resources for the exclusive use of the Economy. If the economy fails, we all fail is the not-so-subtle subtitle carried forward every day by the media, the Government and the corporations. And how do you keep people subservient to the needs of the economy? Drip feed a constant barrage of information all concentrating on the negative aspects of “what if world”.

“What if such and such does so and so to the economy?” “What if profits drop to the unacceptable level of less than multi-billions?” “What if productivity drops to less than 100% per operative?” and yet, to paraphrase the song “There’s always the money for a war, but never enough for the poor”.

One of the first principles most people walking the Druid path discover is the interconnected-ness of the natural world. Nothing is truly independent from it’s environment. Yet the economy is based exclusively on that very premise. It is independent from the passive world because it suits the “main players” to objectivise the natural world from a co-operative of thinking, feeling beings to a resource. Have you noticed that what used to be referred to as the “Personnel depts” of corporations are now referred to as “Human resources”. It’s actually a paradigm shift in emphasis, beings with emotions and rights are reduced to a resource for the economy and as such, can be relegated to the role similar to that of the raw ingredients. And by objectivising them, the behaviours towards them can be “adjusted” within corporate behaviours.

As I get older, even though I can see that I will (hopefully) benefit from the advances of society compared to what some of my ancestors, even just a few generations ago, had to face, I find myself increasingly becoming at odds with the Western economic model. Until a few months ago, I had worked all my life in this economic model. Leaving school on the Friday, I was in work the following Monday as an apprentice. I have worked to support myself and my family. It was “the right thing to do” and it provided “economic independence”. That was what I was told in school, by my peers and by the majority of my family.

I am very happy that my skills sets have helped tens of thousands of people over that time and that they still hold the potential to help some more before my physiology gives way to the inevitable physical demise advancing age places on the body. My role in the economic model has actually demonstrated that it was connections within society that have resulted in economic activity, but the message I see today is one where some theoretical model takes precedence over practical experience. Rigid observance of the theoretical model is what I see the majority of managerial people doing, even when experience and common sense says otherwise.

If you can get the theoretical model to work, the role of the environment can also be “better controlled for the desired outcomes”. I see this with this current UK government. Even in the face of over-whelming scientific evidence, this government, now unshackled from the objections of a coalition partner (even if that partner appears to have done very little, or has very little to show in the public arena) has now set course on relegating that environment to the role of “resource” again.

If your economic activities can be separated from the environment in pursuit of what, now-a-days, is nothing more than a set of numbers on a computer (it used to be physical resources such as gold, but I think numbers on computers have now taken the precedence) then, according to the sub-plot pedalled by the media and corporations, you can experience your own materialistic personal paradise.

And this goal is fueled by the inbuilt acceptance of separation from your environment. Because that’s how the economic model works best. Which is pretty depressing. Fortunately, there are people now beginning to offer different approaches and I am indebted to my friend Brian Taylor who, though somewhat not entirely convinced by some of the language, pointed me in the direction of some different thinking on this very subject. The piece ” Economy as Ecological livelihood” downloadable from the link, points the way, certainly for my Druidic path, to a more, less separated way forward.

 

 

 

 

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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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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