Love Is…

Realized I forgot to post yesterday. This is due to Being Knackered after Saturday’s travelling and speaking adventures!

Today, I’m still so tired. Someone once questioned this, saying ‘You’re just standing there and talking, what’s tiring about that?’ I asked if they’d ever done it. They looked shocked, and replied (in a disgusted tone, as if I was stupid to even ask), ‘No!’

I often wonder what people see when they see me Doing My Thing. Does it look easy? If so, it didn’t always. Those who remember the early days can confirm this.

But honestly, I don’t know how I could not do this now.

I received a quiet message today, asking about a Handfasting. I’d love to help. Plans are being put together. All is good.

It’s for a poly (ie polyamorous) relationship.

I’ve had so many people nervously approach and ask if I mind performing their ceremony, given that it’s ‘a bit unusual.’ From relationship styles to locations, I’ve heard many ‘strange’ requests.

But they’re not strange, not really. They’re true for those involved. The ritual that they’re crafting must be honest, or why bother? It must reflect their relationship, what they love about each other. I’ve yet to have a ceremony without humour, for example, and that’d be quite shocking to some, no doubt!

Yes, I have performed poly Handfastings. Also all male, all female, and my first trans ceremony is being organised now.

Love is love. I hold the space for that. I help, however I can. I encourage, laugh along, listen to grievances and assist with problems where possible. I Priest.

The only time I Judge is when the relationship seems troubled – I cannot, in good conscience, wed those who are not ready (although one day, they may be).

I go away, consider, work and then step up to do my job. It may look easy, but under the robe, there’s feet stepping carefully so as to not fall, and inside my heart is the fervent prayer to do right in the moment.

I’m always honoured to do What I Do, and I will continue. Gladly. Inspiring and inspired.

And with a reserved rest day afterwards.

Advertisements

Ancestors

I’ve always had vivid dreams. I used to keep a dream journal, as they made for great stories – I’ve dreamt entire Doctor Who episodes (to my intense frustration upon waking to find that I can’t rewind and watch them again).

But lucid dreaming is a different matter. When you become self-aware in the dream, and can affect matters. Or when it just seems a little more real than usual.

Last night, I dreamt about a family funeral that I’d attended – only it wasn’t quite right. Instead of a crematorium, we were at a graveside, that sort of thing. It felt real, but I was aware that something was not quite right.

I think it was a method for getting me into that situation, in readiness for a ‘hello’. Because the ancestor whose funeral it was decided to pay me a visit.

I’d known her in life, but never as young as she appeared (roughly my own age now). I was greeted with a huge smile and wrapped in a big hug, told it’ll be all right. She was so glad to see me, and the feeling was mutual – I was overwhelmed.

We didn’t have long, though. I soon woke up naturally, with happy tears in my eyes. This may have been in the dream-time, but it was very real.

Since the eclipse, something has shifted. I’ve felt connectivity with spirit returning at a deep level, and despite yesterday’s awfulness, I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of mustering of my forces to overcome the negative… and my Black Dog knows it (hence the bad knocks lately).

I honour my ancestors, known and unknown. I’d rather not share a picture of this lady, but I have a momento from her on the house altar. She’s one of the kind folk who taught me to knit. She is remembered every day. And I know I am not alone.

Learning

Some days, I just want peace and quiet. On others, it turns out that this is not actually true at all – my brain just didn’t realize.

I’ve been working hard lately to catch up with work (after the usual busy weekend). Currently, my focus is on my students – both the year just gone and the year ahead. My Druidry course runs from/to June annually, so as this one finishes, the next begins.

Sometimes it’s hard to do homework, right? Well, it can be equally hard for the teacher to sit and focus on the marking. Especially with something as subjective and personal as Druidry.

But as soon as I begin, I find myself caught in the words of those who talk to me in their replies to my lessons. I’m told stories of childhood, hopes and fears, rants and personal doubts. While my students have a loose-knit ‘virtual’ group, the core work is very much one-to-one.

Druidry changes you, as you engage with it. I’m sure this is true of most spiritual (and vocational) paths, but I see it as it happens. It’s a privilege I’ve spoken of before, but it is also Priesting in its most basic form – teaching, guiding and supporting as needed, without being overbearing, pushy or judgmental.

Those who’ve stayed the course have been a joy to know, and I do hope that I’ll continue to be in touch with them in the future. For those just beginning, I’m intrigued all over again to see where the journey takes us. Some will find it’s not for them – that’s fine. Others will find it harder than they thought. I’ll still be here.

Some lessons take hours to read and write responses to; others much less. All tie together as a continuous story, a year of someone’s life. The teacher learns, together with the students. And while it is work (ie remuneration and effort are certainly involved!), every time I read those tales, I’m glad and grateful all over again.

Connection and relationship. Honour and joy. Inspiring.

Two Things… (Part Two)

Three years ago, this happened. Please follow the link and have a read.

This was the first time that my partner and I stepped into the circle at Stonehenge, barefoot on the grass at sunset. My breath was literally taken away, and I couldn’t speak for a few minutes, such was the weight (literal, historical, spiritual… everything!) of the place. Not just the stones, but the land, Salisbury Plain itself.

A huge turning point in my work, it was also one of the most memorable days of my life. We gained some wonderful friends, joined together in love and community, following in the steps of our ancestors by truly marking such an occasion as we did.

I give thanks to those stones, to this land, and to the lovely people who asked us – a deep honour and privilege. The magic is still being made…

20140430-204854.jpg
(Image copyright to the talented team at Peacock Obscura)

Pride, not Cynicism

There are many jokes made about the Pagan community. Cynicism, derogatory comments about certain groups, the inevitable Bitchcraft.

In the course of my time as a ‘public’ Pagan, I’ve seen a lot of this, and been subjected to a fair bit as well. But these incidents are nothing compared to the positivity of the community in which now I find myself.

I’ve often said that as the ancient Druids (and shamans, wise-women, priests and suchlike) were supported by their communities, so am I. I work long hours, conscientiously and fully for those who ask. Some days, it seems like it’s for nothing, that the energy is all going one way.

Then something will happen to restore my faith. And then something else. More and more, a deluge of good-will and reciprocation, proving to me over and over that this amorphous community of many different souls, beliefs, social groups and ethnicities is, at heart, a good one.

Pagans are like any group – made up of so many differences that it’s hard to pin down specifics. When asked ‘What do Druids believe?’ (or witches, shamans, etc etc etc) it’s hard to give a straight reply, due to the complexity involved. That’s one of the reasons I rather love it: there’s always new things to learn, more ways to explore.

Generally speaking, however, the Pagan community is one which I am proud of, and proud to be part of. This includes those who don’t identify with the ‘Pagan’ label, but with its ethics and ideas. These people are generous, open in heart and mind, inquisitive, thoughtful and trying to do their best. Of course, there will be bad steps, human failings and misjudgments; that’s when the community should be coming together, as I have seen it do, to learn and evolve, to keep going.

I am honoured to be where I am, to have such friends, colleagues and acquaintances – family in spirit, if not in blood. You have proven to be there for me when needed, and I will do my best to do likewise.

This may seem sentimental or rose-tinted in its view. We’re not really encouraged to proclaim our respect, pride and gratitude these days – but actually, I believe we should. I’m very glad that I can, and am honoured to do so here and now.

With heartfelt thanks, my friends. We move forward together.

Deep in the Flow

I’ve been reading a lot of interesting essays lately, discussing spirituality as an intellectual or social experience. But some of the nice, polite phrasing makes me want to… well, react strongly.

Paganism (like many other life-paths) gives back what is put into it. You like the jewellery and shiny tools? OK – but these are only aesthetically useful, means to an end. You’re looking more into relationships with gods, stories, the land around you? You’ll get a more intense result. Often, a challenging one that encourages the journey to continue (or stops you in your tracks!).

You put in the energy, the blood, sweat and tears of your Self, and you will find that Self affected accordingly. This could be called spiritual reciprocity, or Cause and Effect. Either way – if you want to feel something truly, you have to explore it. Deeply. Sometimes that is an absolute requirement, if you don’t just want to be content skimming the surface.

It’s not always enough to put things into words – although these can be good guides (as is the intention of this blog). You have to look further, to feel more intensely; gather the courage to let yourself sink – or dive – into the flow of emotion, experience… Life.

I stand on a hilltop and spread my arms, eyes closed, letting the wind and rain buffet me to the ground.

I gasp – and more! – at intense communication with deity.

I laugh, naked and dancing, barefoot on grass.

I dissolve into tears when it’s too much. Then let myself be held and healed.

My Druidry encourages true feeling and experience. I cannot let myself give half-measures – nor do I want to.

We seek the Awen, and ride the consequences.

Stories to Remember

As I’ve mentioned often in various places, my main passion in life has always been reading. I always have several books on the go, and tend to get fidgety and unhappy if I don’t have an engrossing tome to hand.

Recently (amongst other things, as always), it’s been the stories of others. This started a while ago with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Borgias, and Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor). Rather an eclectic mix, but probably familiar. A more diverse selection was to come.

Caterina Sforza. The Mancini Sisters. Various lady mystics. Princess Alice of Greece. And today, Freya Stark – who has taken up most of my afternoon.

I’m not trying to be elitist or snobby; I’ve deliberately included links to all of these books, as they’re readily available. But none of those names are as well known as the first selection, which is a true shame – because they’re wonderful.

I’m not getting into a debate about feminism and history/herstory today. Instead, I’m being inspired by these stories, simply glad that they’re being told at all. I’ve no doubt that as many male as female lives have been subsumed to time by the more glamorous (or simply louder) ‘stars’.

I hear many personal tales each day – from those in my Inbox each morning, to words from miles away via Facebook friends… and then the printed page. Some of these will go no further than me. Others deserve to be remembered. They are our history, our ancestors, after all.

As well as reading books, I love to share their wealth. So here you go. Investigate these, if they sound interesting. Or rummage in a charity shop, look at online review pages, talk to friends… explore and discover some stories of those you’ve never heard of before. Feel free to share in the comments here as well, of course!

I feel lucky to have found these, and am excited as to what – and who – I’ll discover next. I honour those who lived those adventurous lives, and those tale-tellers who help us remember, as they inspire our lives in turn.