Epiphany or Reminder?

Given my recent illness issues (read: crazy-deep depression and crippling anxiety), I’d been wondering (nervously) what would happen when it was time for me to step up and Do Public Work again.

Yesterday was my first Handfasting ceremony of the year. People. Promises. Questions. Stepping up to lead and hold.

There was no fear. Nerves, as always, and intention set. But the pit of dark remained firmly closed.

I pondered this on the journey there. How could I be so calm, so ready, even excited? It seemed amazing.

A slightly dry, amused voice inside simply said: ‘Because this is what you do.’

There isn’t really a word for it yet (and we do need one). Priesting, ministry, chaplaincy. Service. Vocation. To myself, my Gods, my loved ones, and those who come to me, asking.

I’m here, doing what I should be doing, because I can, because I truly want to. That simple truth is beyond reassuring. A bit of a revelation, of something I perhaps already knew. Now I’ve been reminded.

The Handfasting was beautiful. And my feet feel sturdier on the path today.

This circulating meme struck a similar chord as well today:

Transformation, evolution… progress.

Onward.

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What Do You Do?

Today, I was in my little office. Some admin was done, a bit of cleaning, and then meeting a student to chat about Stuff.

One of the questions that was asked – and which is often asked of me – is what a Druid Priest actually does. And every time, I have to pause and think.

There wasn’t a moment when I suddenly looked around and realized ‘Wow, I’m a Priest!’ Rather, it was a process of doing the work and being called by that title, until I had to face up to the fact that I was Doing It.

I’ve written about it before in other places, and no doubt will do so again. But today, it got me thinking in a new way.

Yes, Priest-ing is looking after, guiding or otherwise holding space for folk. When working, I do that.

But as time has passed, and my health has created interesting new speed-bumps to life, I’m having to Priest to myself as well.

I’m very easily tired. I give my all, and it wears me out. I’m not going to stop doing that, by the way, so don’t ask! I willingly do what’s needed, saving some energy to get myself safely home, and then setting aside time to rest. But it’s the question of how best to recharge that’s been in my mind lately.

Doing things that I enjoy helps, certainly. Sometimes, distractions that make me laugh, such as comedy movies or television. Knitting, with its repetitive but focused creativity. Books – absolutely. If the right one can be found, total engagement as I let myself sink into that particular world for a while.

But I think more is needed now, otherwise I’m finding myself wiped out for longer each time. So perhaps ritualised ‘wind-down’ is needed more than ever – something I’ve tried before, but found difficult to get into the habit of.

I’ll no doubt explore this and natter about it as I move forward. But for today, the inspiration from another led me back to myself. Unusual, but needed, I think.

Holding the space to stop doing, and simply ponder…

Surviving

This morning, I awoke in the throes of a panic attack. And it was HUGE. A whirlpool of chaos, sucking me down with constant thoughts of distress, failure, pain, hurt… And ultimately, the solid fact that You Cannot Do It.

Somehow, I managed to grab on to a lifeline in my mind (and a pillow in reality). Somehow I stepped out of that barrage of awfulness, managing to see it from the outside: a black hole of destruction, from which nothing good can emerge. But that wasn’t me.

I remembered who I was. I remembered how to breathe. I got up, found coffee. Showered, prepared for work.

I am now home, from a fast-paced, full day. Hectic and demanding, at top speed… But I did it. I Could, and Did. 

Someone spoke to me today of battling his own demons. Sharing made the tension fall away from his shoulders; as the session went on, his smile grew, until silly jokes were being shared instead. ‘I feel so much better for coming here.’

Battling for what is owed, for those I care for. ‘Go kick arse, Cat!’ Because they know I will.

Such words are worth more than gold. If the panic had won, I would not have heard them, because they may not have even been spoken. 

I survived today, and the demons did not win. Not just me, but those I touched with words, smiles… and a little Force Lightning.

😉

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.

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.