Interview with Emma Restall Orr, March 2014

Photo courtesy of emmarestallorr.org

Photo courtesy of emmarestallorr.org

Below is a fairly recent interview (March 2014) with Emma Restall Orr, author, founder and director of Honouring the Ancient Dead, and former Head of The Druid Network. Here, she is talks about Druidry, labels, the priesthood, anarchy, understanding the self and the importance of earth-based religions. Enjoy!

Listen HERE.

Kindness

lotus-flowerKindness – in our modern Western world, this beautiful concept has become twisted, where in a “dog eat dog” world it equates to weakness.  We have to push, we have to grasp at life, beat out the other guy in order to get the biggest piece of the pie.

The truth is, there is no pie.

Forget what the media tells you, forget what other people may tell you, that you need to be better than others, that to show your humanity you will soon slide down that corporate ladder. There is no ladder either.

There is no me. There is no you. All is illusion.

We are all made up of each other, there can be no separation. The tree and the coyote, the fox and the mountain, the sunlight and your brother are all made up of matter and energy. Matter and energy cannot be destroyed. They cannot come out of nothing. They only wait for the right conditions to manifest, for the right circumstances in which to come into a form that we recognise. They are always there. We have always been here. We have always been a part of this world, and a part of each other.

As humans, we have become very judgemental beings. We allow our emotions and thoughts to overide the reality of many situations. It’s far easier to judge the behaviour of others than to look deeply at our own selves. Each time we judge something, we tighten up in our hearts and in our bodies.  An open heart is one that does is not judgemental. If there is no separation, there is nothing to judge.

We need to notice when we are forming judgements of people and of situations.  We need to see when we are contricting our souls, when we are not open to what life really is in this present moment. We need to really begin to know what the word kindness means.  If we truly see that we are all related, why would we be unkind to anyone or anything?

Do not believe in the illusion. Immerse yourself deeply in the awen, the poetic inspiration that opens the door to seeing the interconnectedness of all things.  Open your heart to the wonder that is life all around you. Look into the eyes of your supposed enemy, and see their condition of being. Look into the circumstances that created their life, and see yourself reflected in that. You are them and they are you.

Being aware of each judgement we make, being aware of our thoughts about other people, being aware of what is coming out of our mouth makes such a  difference to our lives.  When we speak ill of someone, we are doing ill to ourselves. When we treat others unkindly, we are being unkind to our selves. Our hearts do not like to be constricted.  The flow of awen, the flow of circulation in our bodies, the flow of a river or the flow of life itself moves better when we are open.

Our practice in life is simply kindness.  It’s not hard, but we make it hard for ourselves.  We have to lose our self-centred ego, our sense of self-importance, our sense that the world should be as we desire it to be, and not as it already is.  When we have stepped away from that way of being and move into a way of being that is centred on others, be they bird or bee, refugee child or murderer, basking shark or polar bear, we see that the world is much greater than the small worlds we create around ourselves.  We are released from anger and depression, hate and worry. We see how our little selves can take over, and we realise what is much more important that our little selves.

Kindness.

Have no fear – we will not become doormats for people to abuse if we are kind. We will not lose our place in life if we are kind. We will be happier, more free and really living as opposed to simply doing things.  Kindness is not weakness – it is the truest form of being. It takes courage to be kind to someone who has hurt us. We do not have to allow them to continue hurting us, but we do not need to seek revenge, or punish them for their actions. We can let them see that they have hurt us, and we can try to understand them with an open heart free of judgement. We can look critically at a situation without judging it, without letting emotion or non-factual elements into the equation. We can release our self-centred perception to get a look at the bigger picture, and try to help others instead of focusing on our selves.

It’s not easy, changing the way you think and behave. We have to really pay attention. We have to be really aware of how we are, how we react, what we say and do in any given situation. We need to look deeply into our being, through practice and meditation, through every single act of our waking lives. We have to be willing to change out of our old habits and our old ways of self-centred thinking. We have to try, again and again, to step outside of our little selves.

When we do, the world opens up in wonder.

May your life be filled with wonder.

 

Solstice Practice

This post was originally  displayed on SageWoman’s channel, on my blog DruidHeart at Witches & Pagans.

Around the winter solstice is the time of year when many people get together, families and friends, to celebrate the holidays. If we are fortunate, we have some time off to be together, all together in one place – we may not have such an opportunity until the next solstice season rolls around. It can be a wonderful time of loving hugs, good conversation and deep, belly filled laughs. It can also be a trying time, when the bonds of friendship or family can become tested as we are all thrown together, our usual routines and habits left behind and we are faced with situations that are perhaps out of the norm.

My home is usually very quiet, filled with deep silence and stillness. In that silence I find my personal sanctuary, where peace is around every corner. I’m not a big fan of crowds or noise. However, at this time of year, I leave behind my little sanctuary and venture out into the world of lights and noise, family and friends when I’d really rather be sitting on my meditation cushion in the dark, with a candle and some incense.

It’s quite a shift to deal with. There is constant noise around me, different noise to that of my own home. It’s the noise of other people, which I am not accustomed to. Loud televisions, conversations, arguments, laughter – it’s a bit of an assault on my senses. Dealing with other people’s behaviour when there is no opportunity to “escape”. I have to confront everything that upsets me head on, or lose my temper, say something in anger as my “sanctuary” is thrown out the window.

Or is it? Yes, it’s difficult. Even as I type this blog, there are interruptions by people walking in and out of the room, asking me what I’m doing and other various questions. Nemetona, my goddess of sanctuary, has taught me that she is ever within me even as she is without – I take her with me wherever I go, and where I go she is always there.

In my Zen practice, this time of year provides me with innumerable ways to really practice. Life becomes difficult when things don’t go our way. When we realise this, and when we see that life is simply going ahead whether we like it or not, things can become easier. I have to deal with behaviour that I don’t like – this gives me a chance to practice and to try to understand that person’s behaviour. Often I can see myself reflected in it, or see that they are lost in their own suffering. I can try to ease that, when I remember to try to understand it. When it just pisses me off, I’m not trying to understand, and anger can erupt. When this occurs, I realise that I am not practicing very well, that I am not aware of my own reactions and behaviour. It’s a constant reminder to look deeply at myself, to see my patterns and to alter them in order to have peace and harmony both within and without. My goddess and my Zen practice help me with this understanding.

I have two choices when I find myself in difficult circumstances – get upset or not get upset. When people are shouting in the kitchen, or using words unkindly, or their behaviour is totally out of sync with creating harmony, I feel a tightness, a contraction within my body. Getting upset with this only tightens that contraction even further, making me miserable, or lashing out in anger in a misguided attempt to alleviate the tightness within. Seeing people mistreat each other, taking each other for granted – all of these things can cause contractions within. Passive/aggressive behaviour, words that are intented to provoke, noise levels louder than they need to be – all these things cause a contraction within my body. I want to loosen that contraction, but how?

Sitting and walking meditation practice, daily, really help me through this challenging time. By sitting, I am aware of my body, and aware of my thoughts. I see patterns in my behaviour. I see the self that is screaming for attention, for comfort, for sanctuary. I also then see the illusion of the separate self, and the inter-connectedness of all things. We are all dependent on everything else – the sunlight, the rain, our parents, the air, food. Without any of these things we could not exist. We are in them and they are in us.

When people’s behaviour challenges us, it helps to remind ourselves of this inter-connectedness. They are in me, and I am in them. It’s easy to do when out in the forest, becoming one with nature. But in challenging situations, with people we are often more directly faced with egos and personalities, with habits and the ego’s constant self-regard. When someone says something that upsets us, instead of thinking “I’m so upset that he said that” we can just realise that he said something. That’s the truth of the matter. Someone simply said something. We can act on what they said, of course, if they are saying inappropriate things. But we don’t have to act on it in anger, simply in awareness. Things happen. People behave the way they do. We can either get upset and lose our practice, or we can see the opportunities to become even more aware of our selves. In this awareness lies peace.

Slowly losing our separate sense of self, our egos begin to dissolve. We listen more. We apologise more. We find a deep well of peace to draw from, where we nourish that which brings peace and harmony. We don’t ignore our feelings, but we don’t feed those that create discord. We’ve no wish to stay in that contraction, no desire to create it in others.

Use this time of year as an opportunity to practice, to see how in nature we are all connected. See how the awen flows, how we are inspired by each other in each and every moment. Use difficult situations as the chance to become aware of your self and the world around you. It’s not easy, I’m being challenged constantly. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to fully immerse in the flow of awen, and not to be bashed against the rocks and caught in the swirls and eddies in the river of life. When life isn’t going the way that you would like it to, simply remember that. When we are angry or depressed, remember that it is because life isn’t going the way we want it to. Work with those feelings, work with others, and the practice will begin to show its rewards in less contraction, less anger and less upset. Peace begins to seep in, trickling through out insight, aware of the delicious drops of awen upon our tongue.

Isn’t that what this time of year is all about? Peace and love, awareness of the darkness and the returning light, the times and tides of life. May this time of year bring you many chances to practice, and may you find true joy in that practice.

Perception, assumption and suffering

How much of our lives are based around incorrect perceptions? How often does our emotional state and relationship with others fall apart based on incorrect perceptions? And just what is perception?

Perception is how we interpret the world, through our own subjectivity. We have a store consciousness built on our past experiences and those experiences related to us by others. We use this store consciousness to help inform us on our view of the world. It helps us to survive. We know that fire burns, so we don’t touch it. We know that cougars are dangerous, so we don’t approach. We look both ways (hopefully) before crossing the street. However, as our perception of the world is so subjective, how often do we get it wrong?

This is not to say that we should throw out all useful perception and experience. What we need to do is to become aware of our perceptions, and to see if we are making assumptions that aren’t based on actual fact. So much of our lives are built upon this, which is a rather shaky foundation.

Incorrect perception can lead to all sorts of problems and can create a huge amount of suffering. We might have the incorrect assumption that we are alone, which gives us the false perception that we are completely isolated from the rest of the world. We may react to a situation based on what we think someone said, rather than what they actually said, and thereby create a false perception of the actual event. We may assume from past experience that all politicians lie, and create a false perception that we cannot trust anyone, much less bother to vote. We might get angry at someone for their behaviour, without seeing the root causes behind it. Changing your perception leads to understanding, which is the essence of compassion.

We will still make mistakes, however. We have habits, ingrained learned behaviour that is difficult to overcome if we are not aware of it. However, once we see the patterns formed in learned behaviour, we can unlearn it. We can break free of negative, destructive cycles, beginning to heal ourselves and then work towards healing our community, our world.

By nature I judge everything – it’s simply a part of my personality. While it’s worth having to some extent, it’s also a detriment. What I have had to learn is how to judge without being judgemental. It may not sound like that great a difference, but really it is the foundation of trying to understand the human being.

Daily meditation helps with this on so many levels. Practising awareness for 10 to 20 mins a day in mindful meditation begins to seep into every aspect of your life. Once you become aware of your thought patterns and behavioural patterns, you can then learn to break free of these in order to live with more intention. Everyone can meditate to some extent – you just have to want to. You have to want to spend time with yourself, and thereby doing some pretty deep examination, coming to terms with the less than glowing aspects of your self, as well as embracing those parts of your self that nourish and bring peace. It’s very simple and sometimes very difficult. However, if you want to get off that treadmill of constant running, out of that vicious cycle you feel trapped in, it’s well worth the effort.

Next time you are angry, depressed or sad, take the time to look deeply into your perceptions. If you find that they are based on incorrect or unsubstantiated views, perhaps they are not perceptions but assumptions. You will have to let go of the anger, depression or sadness as well as the ego in order to fully see – things we like to cling on to for various reasons, ie. because we know we are right, because we know we are not good enough, etc. This knowledge is not true knowledge, but assumption based on false perception.

Doing this work can lead to a life filled with less suffering, and in doing so even bring more joy into the world. May we do the work with a peaceful heart and with pure intention.

The Self and the Middle Way

I’ve just been introduced to a wonderful concept, a very different view of the Middle Way by Vietnemese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, Beyond the Self: Teachings of the Middle Way.

So many people interpret the Buddha’s teachings of the Middle Way as walking between two extremes, of finding a middle ground between points of view. However, Thay talks about how we need to throw out all duality in order to truly understand the Middle Way. We do not walk between two extremes, but instead we throw out the concept of the extremes. We let go of dualistic points of view, and in doing so we are further able to release notions of the self in order to fully integrate with the world.

This has resonated so deeply with me, as for the past couple of months I have been exploring the release of the self and integration with the natural world as a result. To walk the middle way, we must, as Thay suggests “throw out” instead of letting go – as letting go still concedes to a dualistic nature of existence, and a self that is separate from nature. If we throw out all these ideas we are left with nothing but possibility.

The idea of the Middle Way, of changing the way that you think by throwing out dualities, has some other very interesting concepts to chew on. What happens if you throw out anger and joy? What happens when you throw out pain and bliss? Walking the Middle Way is not about never getting angry, or upset, or joyful, or blissful. It is about releasing ideas of opposites, and seeing the potential that is created in doing so.

How does this work then? If we throw out ideas of birth and death, we are simply left with manifestation of existence in all its forms. This reaffirms my belief that life does not begin when we are born, nor stop when we die: we simply change form, decomposing into the soil, molecules breaking down, chemical reactions occurring. We are released into the air through the plants growing around us, released into the water table, we fall as rain or snow, we are in the wind. There is no beginning and no end. When the conditions are right we manifest in different forms, whether that be human, water molecule, etc. When we strike a match, the flame does not come out of nowhere: the right chemical reaction must occur. When the flame is blown out, it does not disappear into nothingness, but simply ceases in that manifestation. When the conditions are right, it can appear again. As Thay puts it – clouds cannot die.

For me, this is the concept of reincarnation, exquisitely explained.

With regards to the self, we can take this further, realising that there is no separate self. We are beings that, like everything else on this planet, require the existence of other things in order to manifest. We are entirely co-dependent, there is nothing on this planet that can exist without other things. A cloud needs water and other elements in order to be. Humans needs water, food, shelter, oxygen and a host of other things in order to exist. Everything is interconnected. We cannot separate one thing from another – it is simply impossible. When we realise the interdependence of existence, we see that there really can be no separate sense of self – we are made up of millions of other human and non-human elements.

Thay goes further into describing all these other elements as having their own vitality, their own purpose, their own consciousness. Each thing is equally important in the manifestation of all existence.

For me, this is animism, exquisitely explained.

It is so wonderful when concepts that you hold so dear to your heart, concepts that you regularly meditate over, are expressed within a different religious path so eloquently. It shows a shared human experience, and a shared global manifestation of consciousness.

Thay is currently in hospital, aged 88 having suffered a brain haemorrhage. He is making progress, and we all wish him the best in his recovery, should that happen. Whatever may happen, we wish him peace and love. His teachings have made him a true hero of our time.

The Curse of Self-Awareness

As homo sapien sapiens, the beings that are aware that we are aware, we have a great gift in terms of our species title (though personally I’m not sure that this is pertinent only to human beings). We also suffer from a great curse: the curse of self-awareness.

Being self-aware can help us to achieve wonderful, beautiful things, striving towards peace and harmony with all creatures with pure intention, awake and aware of how you respond to situations and seeing where you “fit”. It can also lead down the slippery slope of becoming drowned in your own sense of self and of not being able to see beyond that. We can get lost in our heads in a made-up world instead of actually being in reality. We can create situations, linger on emotions and situations that are no longer relevant, and simply be too self-focused, missing out on the beauty, wonder and magic that life can offer us at any given moment.

Much of Paganism and Druidry begins by looking at the self, of finding where we fit within nature. Locating that sense of self is important. However, it shouldn’t end there – we must look outwards as well, otherwise we are missing out on everything that nature is communicating with us in relationship. Druidry is, after all, all about relationship, a two-way flow of energy.

Lift the curse of self-awareness, and look beyond the self to be inspired by the beauty and wonder of the world around you. Finding where you fit, and then listening and being inspired by others, in whatever form they may be – that is the greatest gift.

Reblog: The Love of the Darkness

This a reblog from my channel, DruidHeart at Witches and Pagans, on SageWoman’s channel:

 

The still centre.

Outside, in the dark, the air is finally still. Like rich swathes of fabric, the darkness hangs around me, enfolding me, wrapping me in its exquisite embrace. I sit, breathing in the night air, the smell of cedar and dew wet grass filling me with pure awen. The last of the crickets are singing in the remnant of summer’s growth, owls hooting softly in the distance and underneath the beech tree near Caia’s grave I let the songs of the night wash over me in waves of indigo and black.

The quiet is shattered by the call of a stag just on the other side of the hedge. Calling to the does, he is in full rut, looking for the ladies in the shelter of the night. He is maybe four feet away, and his bark and rumbles excite me with the power that he is emanating in following his soul’s truth. I can hear the slight shuffle of leaves and grass beneath his hooves as he paces up the track and then back down towards the nature reserve and farmer’s fields.

Overhead, a few stars are shining between the cloud cover, and the moon has not yet risen. My muscles have become fluid, my sense of self sliding into the darkness until there is no separation. There is no I am to compare with: I cannot even say “I am one with this land”, for there is no I. No me. Just life and death, a cycle and spiral mirrored in the galaxy that we perch upon the edge of, in the vastness of space and time.

But eventually I come back; there is an “I” once again. An “I” to speak from this still centre, to make sense of the experience. Sometimes I loathe that “I”, wanting to remain forever in the embrace of the darkness, boundless and floating, no edges and completely open, sharing with everything on this planet in the beautiful, soundless dance in the round of existence. The “I” always returns however, a little smaller, a little less sure of itself, and for this I am glad.

Deep within the depths of the stillness, the songs of the universe can be heard. Beyond the sense of self is all existence.

The love of the darkness, where there is nothing but potential.

 

To see the original post, click HERE.

 

 

Daily Meditation

Meditation (source unknown)Meditation is a very important part of my spiritual path. I remember when I was a student with Bobcat (Emma Restall Orr) back in 2007, and the amount of meditation that she suggested was the minimum we do each day – it had seemed like a lot at the time (I had only begun to delve in Zen meditation at this point). She said that we should spend more time at our altars, at least with two twenty minute sessions per day. At first it was hard to get into, but then became easier at it became part of my life, part of my daily routine.

I took the sessions to longer periods of time, two thirty minute sessions. It meant getting up earlier and finding time when I came home from work before cooking dinner, or if that wasn’t possible finding time in the evening whenever it could fit in. There was great value in spending time before my altar, sitting in silence and communing with the gods, the ancestors and the spirits of place. It is often said that prayer is talking, and meditation is listening.

Learning more and more about meditation in its various forms, I realised that it could be done anytime, anywhere really – it didn’t have to be in front of the altar in a seated position. Seated meditation is still, for me, the best form, as quieting our bodies and our minds allows us a chance to get beyond our talking selves and into a space of pure being, where in stillness we settle even as the dusk falls upon the land. Like mud being churned in a pond, if we allow it to settle things become clear.

However, meditation could be taken out of that space and into the wider world. If I was away from home, and had no altar, I could take a walk and do some walking meditation. Lying in a bath, I could meditate there, fully aware of the water against my skin, the sounds and scents. In essence, meditation is simply giving your full attention to something, whether it is a stillness of the mind, the working through of a problem, walking down the street or paying attention to your breath. Work can become meditation – washing the dishes is meditation for me, as are other house chores. They are much more pleasant that way.

Riding my bike, driving my car, paddling my canoe – all these can be meditation. With meditation, if you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are not “zoning out” so to speak – you are fully aware of everything, allowing the illusion of the self to fade away in order to hear the wider world around you. Stopping the incessant internal dialogue, we step beyond our selves, allowing us a break from our egos. The more we do this, the more we are not ruled by our egos, living a life that is not reactive but completely and fully active: lived with intention.

Meditation is not all about sitting on a cushion chanting Om. It is living with full awareness, using techniques such as seated meditation to help you begin your journey. I would always advise seated meditation first, and then take that into other aspects of your life. Pretty soon you will find that you are living with much more awareness, much more mindfully. It’s not difficult to do.

Often people say that with the raising of a family they do not have the time to meditate. What I would suggest is that raising your family becomes a meditation. Pay attention to cooking the meals, when your children are speaking, when you are reading them a bedtime story. Be fully present with them and you are meditating. Be aware of your actions and reactions and you are meditating. Be aware of your breathing and you are meditating. You can do it.

Explore the many ways you can meditate. From finding that still centre, explore journeying, guided meditation, trancework and so on, keeping coming back to the simpler forms and the still centre. It will be well worth it.

Samhain, Death and Dying

Raven’s Hollowby Wyldraven © Wyldraven 2011- 2014 http://wyldraven.deviantart.com/art/Raven-s-Hollow-208469580

In a blog post written last year, I wrote about my contemplations on the Samhain tide of the year, touching upon the nature of death and the Otherworld.

As the darkness closes in with earlier nights and later mornings, thoughts and feelings seek out the lessons to be learnt in the growing dark, where boundaries fall away and where we know nothing at all. Walking through the garden at sunset, shuffling though the fallen beech leaves, greeting my cat at her gravesite (who passed away last Yule), watching as my garden plants return the energy to their roots, I am surrounded by death as much as I am surrounded by life.

Thoughts inescapably turn to death during the Samhain tide, where in Druidry it is recognised and not shuffled away, never to be spoken of in conversation, turning it “morbid” or filled with superstition that the mention death will bring. Death comes to us all, whether we talk about it or not. Might as well talk about it.

My first thoughts turn towards the concept of the Otherworld. Many within Druidry believe in such a place, or places, where our soul goes to rest, to party, to do whatever it is we believe it does, perhaps before we reincarnate. While I do believe in reincarnation, my belief is much more simplistic that this.

More and more I come to realise that, at least for me, there is only this world. There is no Otherworld. There is no veil between the worlds, for there is only this world. And what a wonderful, awe-inspiring world, filled with gods and ancestors and life and death.

The belief in reincarnation, that our soul lives on to occupy another body at a certain time either in the future or in the past, is based upon the belief that there is a place where our soul goes when we die. For me, there is no such thing as “away”. We cannot throw our garbage “away”. We cannot be “away” with the faeries. Our souls cannot go to a resting place before coming back to this world. There is only this world. Let me elaborate.

Using nature as my teacher, I look deeply at how death occurs, the process and the stories that unfold. Death is all around us, from the earth we walk on that is made up of millions of dead things, to the death that we ourselves create with our very existence. Life is also all around us, things coming into being and growing, being nurtured and nurturing in turn. When something dies, it returns back to the soil, to transform into another way of life. Essentially, for me this is what reincarnation is all about. Changing our form. When I die, my body will be devoured by bacteria and worms, become plant food and be drawn up through the roots of trees to be exhaled into the deepening twilight. This is change, this is reincarnation, becoming incarnate in another form, becoming incarnate in a legion of other forms.

My body is made up of a similar legion of other forms, dating back to when we were all just star stuff. Everything on this planet has an original ancestor of star material, and whatever came before stars. My body is made up of living things and dead things. In my bones are stars, in my blood is iron from the hills where I grew up. All these things are living through me, and will continue to live even when I die to be expressed in a different form. They don’t go anywhere but right here.

The human crisis of self-awareness has led to a clinging of the ego which convinces us that without the idea of a separate identity, a sense of self, an “I am” we are simply lost in complete annihilation upon death – that we cease to be. Screaming for attention, it feeds upon the fear and insecurity that the knowledge of our own deaths bring in the darkness. A few religions, philosophies and spiritualities overcome this fear, learning how to transcend the ego, to let it go in order to become one again with the universe. As a Druid and Pagan, this feels right to me, for this leads to a life that is completely integrated with the natural world around us. It drops the illusion of barriers between us and the environment, and allows for full immersion into the present moment where we can be awake and aware to every shimmering drop of existence.

Yet in modern paganism the focus is usually on the “I”, the personal transformation into a better being and a better Pagan, to search for the truth of our souls and to live that truth honourably in accordance with our tradition. Self-actualisation is a big thing, not only in Paganism but also around the world. Based on concepts of the self, a return to the self and coming into our own power, we work on our selves constantly. This in itself is not a bad thing, but for me it needs to go one step further. We have to look inside our selves to understand the nature of the self, and then we can be rid of it. Emma Restall Orr discussed this in a very poignant essay, “After Paganism”, in Moon Books’ Essays in Contemporary Paganism (2013).

Many would query the validity of this, as for them the be all and end all is their sense of self, what they can do and what they have achieved in the world. Without this sense of self, would they be able to make their dreams come true, to work for political and environmental causes, to further their own desires and needs?

While I do not, as yet, have an answer to this question, it is still one that is worthwhile in the asking. I truly believe that we can, at least for moments, perhaps days or weeks, months or even years to drop that sense of self in order to integrate fully with the world. When we have, we can come back to the world with a sense of self that is not separate, that observes but does not judge, that is wakeful and aware without needing to fight for its own existence.

Returning to the subject of death and dying, if we have sufficiently come to terms with the notion that the self is not separate, and that there is no need for an individuated self to exist then when we die, we simply return to the earth. That spark that is human consciousness, that allows us to think about life and death and the self, that too returns to the earth. I seriously question whether humans are the only beings on the planet with the capability of questioning on these subjects, for it my belief that we simply have not been able to language this with other species, out of ignorance or human arrogance, or perhaps both.

Everything returns to the earth. Everything. My consciousness will seep into the soil even as my blood and bones, hair and nails. In this, complete and utter integration will occur, a reincarnation into a myriad of forms. My songs will blow with the wind. My eyes will be in the heads of flowers. My heart will be deep in the darkness of the soil. I will not leave, I will forever be here, in this world, in a multitude of forms. The ego “I” that I speak of will be long gone, released willingly into the night, but the sefless “I” will still be here.

There is comfort in this, in the knowledge that when we die, we don’t go anywhere. The ancestors are always with us, everywhere. Everything that has ever lived and ever died is still here, in another form, whether pebble or mountain, horse or mouse. You can’t create something out of nothing. You can evolve, but that’s a different story – our story is one that is shared universally.

Some would say my thinking is based upon a materialistic view of the world, however, when everything is inspirited, when everything has a consciousness that is not separate, there can be no question that it is wholly animistic. It’s not just the case of “the worm crawls in, the worm crawls out, the worm plays pinochle on your snout” – there IS more to it. Death is not stopping. Death, or dying, is an event that takes place – it is not a “forever”. Death is not the opposite to life – the opposite of death is birth, a singular event. Life has no opposite.

If there is no opposite, then there is no need for other worlds. Everything is right here, right now. The gods of nature are all around us, in the sunshine and in the rain, in the air that we breathe, in the storm and in the drought. So too are the ancestors, our ancient ancestors and our grandmothers who all are letting go of their stories into the soil, to be told again in other forms.

I realise that my words may not be in tune with the majority of Pagans, however, they are spoken with the utmost respect. And in the darkness I breathe, deeply, until there is no longer anyone breathing.

Reblog: The Blessing of Samhain… If You Dare…

This is a reblog from my channel, DruidHeart, at the Witches and Pagans website. To read the full article, click HERE.

Here in the UK, the weather has turned and the colder air sweeps down from the North. Nights are longer, as the sun jumps along the horizon with each rising and setting, heading further and further towards the south. Trees are changing colours, and plants are beginning to die back, the green fading into golden and tawny hues, foliage less dense and earth beginning to peek through the underbrush.

The tide of Samhain has begun, when, after the autumn equinox we prepare for the darkness to come. The balance has been tipped, and we have tipped with it, our internal clocks trying to adjust to new temperatures and light levels. Often, we try to establish our centre, attempting to find some foothold or handhold in the coming darkness, our egos crying out the great rallying cry of “I AM!” The darkness, however, knows the folly of this, and smiles as it creeps ever closer.

In the darkness there are no guidelines. There are no boundaries. There is no up or down, no left or right. There is only impenetrable night, a sweet release from the constraints of the known…

To read the full article, click HERE.