A Place to Be

I had a lovely meeting this weekend with small Druid Order, filled with people utterly dedicated to their Druidry. It is always such an inspiration to meet up with these folk, to hear their stories and their views, to hear their physical voices and to be able to reach out and touch them, hug them, share food and space together. Each time we meet, prayers are said and dedications are affirmed, and each time it is deeply profound. Though my dedication remained the same as it had two and a half years ago since the last gathering, still there were new components to my personal story that are poignant to the words I had spoken, witnessed by those souls and held in the beauty of a garden in Stratford.

At this meeting was my old teacher, Bobcat. Never have I seen her looking so strong, so wonderful, so at peace, shimmering with vibrancy and yet coming from a place of deep stillness, utterly rooted to the landscape. I had to email her later, to tell her so, and she replied that I has looked wonderful too, wholly comfortable in my skin, even if I am still finding what sort of a place to be.

Indeed, being an immigrant to these lands, I have had to develop a relationship with this environment that is so different to that which I grew up with in Canada. And yet, after a recent DNA test, I have found that my heritage is over half British, more so than Western European, which was a bit of a surprise. As far back as the family can remember, which is to about the mid-19th century, the family is Dutch, pure and simple. However, somewhere further in the reaches of time many of my ancestors came from and lived upon these lands, not so far from my Dutch ancestors, whom I connect with simply by walking down to the shingle beach near where I live and looking out across the North Sea. Is this where my British ancestors came from? It’s all a mystery…

Ever since I came to the UK, I’ve tried to find a place to be. With my heart torn in two places, between what I consider my homeland in Canada (nevermind all that Dutch ancestry, where my parents and their parents and their parents were born) and the British Isles it’s always been a bit of a tricky thing. Nearly reaching the point where I have lived in the UK for as long as I have lived in Canada, the issue of home and place is at the forefront of my thinking, not to mention the coming referendum.

And what Bobcat said was true, as I reflected on it during meditation at my outdoor altar this afternoon, taking a break from organising lectures for our upcoming Druid College Weekend, and getting the next two books underway. Having recently handed in my notice at the concert hall where I work, I’m now going full-time as an author, dancer and all-around self-employed person. The time feels right, and I am wholly comfortable with who I am at this point in time. I am thankful for my many blessings, the good and the bad, that have brought me to this wonderful point. But there is still the issue of place, of where I belong. For me, place has always been important.

Perhaps I need to find out why I need to belong anywhere. What is it that drives this need? Perhaps I simply need to connect with my newly-found ancestors of this land, and therein the answer lies. Perhaps I just need to let go of the question altogether, and simply “be”.

The Spirits of Place Within Me

mont_tremblantAfter having had wonderful conversations with an old friend of mine, and currently reading “Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future” the concept of the spirits of place has gained an even greater standing in my Druidry.

I have always loved the hills and mountains, the forests and rivers where I grew up in the Laurentians.  These ancient volcanic hills, softly rounded ,weathered and tree-covered sing to my soul.  They are not only a part of the landscape in which I grew up in – they are a part of very own self as well.

The water that I drank flowed from the rivers than ran between the mountains, fast in the spring with snowmelt, crashing over rapids and making its way southward through towns and villages.  This river fed the many lakes, along with mountain streams that flowed down the granite hills, bubbling and jumping merrily through moss-covered stones.  This is the water that I drank – it was a part of me, the rivers and the lakes, the mountain streams.

The clouds that scudded the hilltops gave rain that added to those mountain springs and rivers.  Those clouds were a part of me.

The sandy plateau in the midst of these mountains is where our house was built. It was the literal foundation for a very happy childhood.  Upon this soil I grew up. I tasted it upon my skin after a day spent outside, I inhaled the scent after a summer rain, smelt it on the cat’s fur when she came inside after rolling in the sand.  This soil is a part of me.

The sunlight beaming down upon my warm skin as we sat on the lakeside beach, slowly browning or freckling skin, drinking it in – that sunlight is a part of me.

The thunder and lightning storms that raged across the skies in the heat of August, restoring the balance and refreshing the body after the humidity of the day – those storms are a part of me.

The dairy cows in the lowlands fed by the river and other rivers gave us milk and cheese as we were growing up.  Those cows, the grass they fed upon, are a part of me.

The mulch thick and deep in the forest floor in late autumn, with mushrooms poking through and the wonder of life all around – that is a part of me.

Though I may now live thousands of miles away, all these things are still a part of me.  If we think about it even further, the minerals in our blood, the iron from stars in galaxies far away are a part of us – there is everything in us and we are in everything.

Go deep enough, feel all these things in your soul, have your mind blown time and again.  It begins to make sense, offers some comfort in our sometimes senseless society.

Words can give us glimpse – it is in the experiencing and relationship where the magic happens.