The Journey

Yesterday and today I’ve been away from home, ensconced in a lovely manor house with a group of friendly Pagans, learning about Chaplaincy. Much laughter but also seriousness, shared intention and determination.

Coming home this evening I felt empowered, as if another level had been reached through the unity of our work and perspective. I wanted to drive for miles to explore, or to go for a run when back… To Do Something, to hold on to that energy!

Of course, that wasn’t to be. I set my course and returned safely, to a quiet house with just a sleeping kitten and myself, pondering the adventure.

We set the foundation, charge our energy and prepare our focus. When the time is right, we will be ready to move – but not just yet. Enthusiasm isn’t fuel enough, not quite! 

We’re still in winter. Finding inspiration in the dark, the peace, the planning and story weaving. 

The journey has begun. But first gear has to be the starting point; or the prologue before the action. 

I will do my best to hold on to that laughter and determination, moving forward.

Lessons in Story

It’s been a busy few months. I anticipated pauses in this blog, but the lapse shows how frenetic things have been (or how my own tiredness). But doing my best to resume with quality writing, rather than just a concession to mark a day…

Yesterday was Pagan Pride in Nottingham. The fifth year, and I’ve attended every one. So many people (always more each time), varied opinions as much as outfits, ideas and reasons for coming along.

The talk I gave was about Priesthood, but in the course of it, one small idea stuck with me. It’s still there now, and so it is being caught in a WordPress net, to share – as seems appropriate.

We all tell our stories. We live them, every day, uncertain of what will come next, but having to face the adventures as they arrive in front of us. Good or bad, and often without any sense of overarching plot or control. But these are our stories, and none are as valid or invalid as any other.

Yesterday, I spoke with so many people, listening to their stories and giving a little of my own. Today, I’m exhausted – all that energy deployed in that rush of hours and chatter, shared hugs and space.

I force myself to work, though. I have to, or I find myself dragged down with the sense of ‘should be doing something!’ So I’m picking up review books that I’ve been asked to write about.

Today’s offering has gripped me and pulled me into its world. The review will come in full, but suffice to say it’s an anthology of fiction, short stories of such breathtaking originality that every one makes me rather wish they were longer (even though that might well spoil the effect).

Stephen King said that a novel is a relationship – a short story is like a kiss. Both intimate, but in different ways. Each story I hear from people feels similar, as they open themselves just a crack to show me secrets, thoughts, anecdotes… and so I listen. I may review these in my head, but I try not to judge.

The good stories stay with us. Every one has a lesson, and not necessarily the one you might think (even a bad tale reminds us not to do things that way again!). If we pause to consider, to listen and review, we learn. That relationship touches us, just for a moment… and there lies its value.

People in front of us or via computer screen, voices from the pages of the past or across continents. Me, now. What stories do you hear today, and which do you hold on to moving forward? And what stories do you tell?

Lessons

I’m feeling a little sad this evening. I’ve just finished work on the final lesson for my first year Druidry students.

A year ago, I was still rather shocked to discover that I had a year-full of students at all. I’d been asked often enough to teach, but never expected that so many people would want to hear what I had to say.

Those who lasted the distance are a truly exceptional group of people. I am honoured to have walked with them on this stage of their journey, and look forward to seeing where they travel next. Tomorrow, the final lesson is sent.

But also tomorrow, the first lesson of the next year’s ‘class’ goes out. More enthusiastic folk, keen to delve deep into their own Druidry – while as yet unknowing precisely what that might be!

I’ve often said that one of the greatest joys of my Druid practice is exploration. We step nervously into the unknown, often guided but always alone in ourselves. It’s a brave path to walk, but with so much reward along the way.

I’ve learned so much from my students this past year. Like them, I can’t believe it’s done.

But I can’t wait to see what comes next. 🙂

Appreciation

Very ill today, due to intolerances (and sneaky hidden nasties in yesterday’s food). Extreme dizziness, nausea, lack of concentration… now faded, thank goodness.

It may be surprising, but in recent years, illness or incapacitation has actually made me thankful (when I’ve stopped groaning or hiding under a blanket). It forces me to honour aspects of life that I might have taken for granted, by feeling the loss when they’re taken away.

Sometimes it seems that there are few greater joys than a really severe headache finally receding. When the world ceases to sway as I lift my head, or I’m able to focus again. With the severest migraines I’ve ever had, the moment when I can actually see at all, or sometimes even regain the power of coherent speech (a truly terrifying experience).

I know there are so many who are worse off than me – my complaints are comparatively tiny. But we all have our foibles, our needs and reactions, physical and otherwise to varying degrees. We try to get on regardless – or in spite of – because the alternative is to give up, which is no solution. Even if we pause to recuperate or take stock, we hold on to that intention to move again… eventually, once we’re able.

Tonight I was working again, gladly and with many smiles. The sunset as I drove home was beautiful, with the promise of rain imminent. I’m settling down now to rest, with my book and bed a safe haven.

I might whinge… but I’m still thankful to be moving.

To Dare…

I gave a talk today at the Mansfield Mind, Body & Spirit fair – standing in the Council chambers at the Civic Centre, with pictures of mayors past and present watching from the walls. A full house, too, with a lovely receptive group of people.

I always get nervous. Even now, after doing this for some years. Especially when the topic is based around my second book – essentially talking about darkness and depression, but from the perspective of balance, acknowledgment, truth and potential. It’s not easy.

This isn’t putting a positive spin on a difficult subject. This is facing that subject head-on, seeing and feeling it in all its pain, guilt and social awkwardness. My Druidry pushes me, insists I see what needs to be seen. Generally speaking, this is often precisely what’s needed, and I’m glad that my audiences seem to welcome that honesty.

After I’d finished, I was told by one attendee that she’d heard people discussing the talk beforehand. “Ooh, darkness – I don’t know about that.” Because apparently it sounded too… well… dark. A bit much for some.

The presenter who came after me was talking about palmistry. Apparently even more people had squeezed into the (large) room for this one – because it was ‘easier’ than mine, I was told. Apparently people like to be told what to do, to be given answers.

Chatting to people afterwards, hearing their stories and even holding them as they cried, I was glad that I spoke as I did. Yes, it might well be challenging or difficult. I encourage exploration, to think for yourself, to find your own way. If you’re brave enough to dare to come into the room, to give up your time and simply listen, engage and consider – that’s a big step. The first of many.

I spoke of solidarity, of shared experience, of the potential in the darkness which keeps us moving. We can stop – or we can go on.

We can step through the door, or we can stay in the safe places, seek affordable solutions and people to sort out our difficulties for us. That’s our choice, after all.

One day, those who didn’t come in may find themselves ready. The door will still be there – as will the darkness, waiting to be faced.

I still get nervous when I step up to speak publicly, every time. But I take that step – because I know I must.

Doing Something Right

Today: off to a private wood near the Black Country, for a talk/workshop on Druidry…

… in what turned out to be the most beautiful unspoilt forest, with an amazing group of people. Tea, home baking, laughter and inspiration ensued.

Strangers have now become friends – and as I speak on how the wider world certainly does encourage you to find your own path (if you only listen and respond), I feel myself so grateful all over again that I’m on this one.

And on the drive home, we encountered the hugest rainbow that I have ever seen. Which we had to drive directly under at one point.

Hail to the powers of storm and sunshine, blessing our community in the wildness of this land.

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(Photo taken by Himself in the passenger seat – and really does not do this justice!)

Ripples in Practice

If you’d told me years ago that I’d be where I am now… I’d probably have laughed. A nice dream, but not practical at all. A professional Druid? Really? Sometimes I still have to stop, sit down and remind myself that this is actually happening.

Today, I visited the prison where I hope to be Pagan Chaplain very soon (subject to red-tape navigation). I’m already a Hospital contact locally, and have spoken in schools, Universities and offices. As well, of course, as rites, support and teaching for those who ask. Oh, and the books. My spirituality has become very real indeed.

I started out just reading, exploring quietly on my own, trying some small rituals alone in my bedroom. Then I found a little local group, via the organisation that was to become The Druid Network. I eventually lost my regular employment, so nervously attempted to Druid for a living… And so the journey moved forward.

Everything we do in our personal practice creates ripples. Solitary work may seem lonely (from choice or necessity) but it still moves energy, within and without. Once the wider world knows that you’re paying attention and seeking, doors begin to open that you might not have seen before. It’s up to you what you do after that, but once momentum is begun, it’s actually pretty hard to stop – or sometimes even slow down.

Is this the Universe giving tacit support to your path? Perhaps. I’ve seen too many coincidences to be cynical on that score, particularly when times are tough and I doubt what to do. That’s when something always seems to come up to give me a kick, both to dispel the worries through reassurance or reinforcement and ensure that I get up and actually do something.

We listen. We learn. We practice. We move with the flows and create our own ripples.