An Inconvenient Sequel

Al Gore has created the sequel to his film, An Inconvenient Truth. It will be out this summer. May our future ancestors forgive, and may we do right by them before it’s too late.

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Lessons from a River

IMG_1505 (800x600)Sitting on the edge of the North River where I grew up, I feel the energies of the water’s flow, the water molecules and its soulsong moving through the landscape and through my own soul. Known for its rapids, it attracts many visitors in the spring (when its wild rush from snowmelt takes the breath away) and in the autumn (when the trees’ fiery colours blaze against the white foam). There are many places to sit amidst the rapids when the water is low enough, and that’s where most people like to sit, right in the heart of the dramatic whirl and rush of water as it crashes, engulfing the senses until you can hear nothing but water, water, water.

But it’s not here that I like to sit – I much prefer to be at the bottom of the rapids, where the drama ends and then there’s a flat stillness, where the bubbles and foam slowly pop as they moves downriver, the surface reflecting the trees and sky above. I sit on a rock and feel the rush of movement to my right, the great dramatic unfolding of the rapids. To my left is utter stillness, where the ducks and gulls are fishing. Right before me is where the two meet, slowing into stillness, settling into another current of energy. Where edges meet there is great power and learning.

I turn my head to the right and look back up to the rapids, and see my own thoughts as the rocks that the waters of my soul crash up against time and again, causing the water to explode high into the air or tumble in whirlpools, hitting one rock and then another on its way down. Those rocks are someone who still tries to upset, annoy, or undermine me and I smile to those rocks, compassion flowing though my soul and the through the landscape towards that person as I see their own personal suffering, even though I long ago decided I wouldn’t stick around for further abuse. I see my physical limitations, my body slamming against the rocks of rheumatoid arthritis and perimenopause, and the hidden rocks within my genes that may surface one day as breast cancer or high blood pressure. I smile to these rocks as well, knowing that even as I crash against them I am still moving around them, ever downriver towards the calm when there are no more rocks. I see a myriad of thoughts that my brain crashes against, creating dramas and I smile to all of these rocks, turning my head to follow the flow and see ahead of me where it begins to settle, as I settle upon my rock watching the willow leaves fall around me and into the river, a heron flying past.

I see that water is water, whether it is still or riding on great foaming crests that reach many metres into the sky. The water that roils is the same water that settles, and when all the obstacles are taken away it resolves to a beautiful and serene flat plain that reflects everything around it. Through meditation and compassion, integration with the world around me, seeing the soul behind the soul and the true nature of all existence, I too settle and reflect the world around me, a calm and peace from deep within. Though there may be more rapids ahead, I know the nature of water and of my own soul, for they are one and the same.

Changing Times

thank youDruid College begins in a couple of weeks, and I’m so very excited about it. This is the first time I’ve taught this many students at once – thirteen in all have signed up for Year 1! It promises to bring a lot of change to my life, and I look forward to it.

This year has already brought about many changes in my life, and has led to a deeper relationship with my gods, the ancestors and my environment. I feel so blessed to be on this journey, a journey that is shared with my friends and family, with readers of my blogs, my students and fellow colleagues on the Druid path. I have lived my Druidry full-time for many years now, and now it is a full-time “job” as well as a way of life! There are also more books underway, which I hope you will enjoy.

I aim to live in service to this land, to this planet, in whatever shape or form I can. I feel that it is our duty as part of an earth-based religion to serve, with truth and honour. I heartily thank all my teachers and guides along the way, and hope that I can continue the cycle of inspiration, of awen, after having been so inspired by so many people, both human and non-human, as well as that wonderful serpent energy contained within these British Isles. I honour my roots and work towards a future that I hope will be integrated, inclusive and inspiring.

Thank you, all from the depths of my heart.

Reblog: Peace and Sovereignty

Here’s a reblog of my post on Sagewoman’s channel at Witches and Pagans 🙂

Peace and Sovereignty

At the moment I’m reading a biography of Tori Amos that she wrote with journalist Ann Powers, entitled Piece by Piece. Within the first few pages Tori mentions inner sovereignty, something that cannot be taken from her by anyone. They can do what they like, say what they like but she knows who she is, and is queen of her own self. I’ve been thinking about sovereignty, how we can come to an understanding of it and really see it manifest in our own lives.

I see sovereignty and peace as being inextricably entwines. We cannot have one without the other. When we know ourselves, when we understand why we do the things that we do, when we can control out thoughts and feelings, living lives of intention instead of reaction, then we are truly sovereign of our life. This comes from a deep well of peace, wherein we find that inner core of our selves that is silent and still, that sings our soulsong in its purest form. It is our personal truth. Neither sovereignty nor peace can be conferred from without – both must begin from within.

Peace is related to truth. We have to be willing to be open and honest with our selves, to see through our many layers of delusion, in order to understand our very being. We have to see the good and the bad, acknowledge all these within our selves and through this acknowledgment, gain some control, some sovereignty over our behaviour. Too often we run from the truth, whether it is the truth about ourselves or the truth about climate change. To face these truths requires us to change, to possibly suffer in order to bring about that change. We don’t like change. We don’t like suffering. Yet we cannot escape either of these things. To live means to live a life that has good and bad within it; let’s transcend those notions of good and bad and just live. When we do that, we move beyond suffering. We face our truth, and in facing our truth we find peace.

Peace is achieved when we manage to step beyond our selves, to switch off that inner chatter, that constant thinking instead of being. This does not mean that we become robots, with no thoughts, feelings or emotions. Rather, we do not attach to them, we do not spend so much time with them, entertaining them as they go round and round in our minds. We step outside of that, moving beyond our own story in order to see the story of the world around us as it unfolds in every moment. This peace can be achieved with discipline, with daily meditation, with time spent out in nature. There is no limit to our ability to learn each and every day what this means. Little by little, we come closer to joy. When we realise the world is more than just us, we find peace.

We cannot control how others behave. We only have control over how we behave in the world, how we act and react to others. We can lessen our reaction to others to a more intentional way of being, through mindfulness of our thoughts, our bodies, the world around us. When things like pride or anger are not getting in the way, we can see things for what they really are. We have no need to threaten others, to undermine others, to make them suffer. We realise that in doing so we are only doing that to ourselves, through the inter-relatedness of nature. Letting go of the ego’s need for validation, for constant chatter, for endless self-centred thinking we can dive into the still, calm pools of reflection where peace is found. We find that we can contemplate the self without recrimination or judgement. When we can do that with our selves, we are able to do that with others. In that doing is compassion and understanding.

It can be difficult when others deliberately try to shatter our peace, who try to shake our foundation and inner sovereignty. But we cannot control them, and can only have compassion for them as they are so caught up in their suffering that they feel it necessary to spread it out into the wider world. We can instead find our true sense of self worth, our inner sovereignty, and let that light shine out in the world. We are our actions as well as our words. Our deeds are what is lasting in an impermanent world.

We can be at peace even in world that seems to going to hell in a handbasket. We can be at peace when others are trying to cut us down. We can be at peace in a world that is so materialistic and consumer driven that it is making itself extinct. That peace is the core of our being. That peace is within each and every one of us, if we are willing to see it. Through the opening of the eyes and the soul, we find that still, deep pool of being and of knowing, and there we reign supreme.

 

To find out more about mindfulness, meditation and peace, see my first book, Zen Druidry: Living a Life of Natural Awareness.  This book combines Easter and Western philosophies, techniques and spirituality to create a path that is focused on the here and now, awake to the beauty of the world and its rhythms of nature that flow through and around us each with each and every breath.

Blog image: Still Pool Print by Jennifer Oakley-Delaplante

Reblog: The Druid Approach to Ageing

Here is  my latest blog post for my channel, Druid Heart at SageWoman’s blogs on Witches and Pagans.

Coming up to my fortieth year, I’ve been doing quite a bit of meditation upon the concept of ageing, and what it means to a woman in modern Western society.

 
As you all know, we have such a skewed view of aging in our culture and society – young equals beautiful when it comes to the homo sapiens. We do not judge the beauty of trees, flowers, cats or clouds, mountains or rivers by their age – why on earth do we do it for our own species?

 
Obvious reasons come down to one thing – money. Beauty is big business, and what better way than to create a marketing campaign that cannot fail – for everyone will get older. There’s no denying it. Feed upon our Western fear of ageing and death, and make big bucks while doing it. For the Druid, it is saddening, filling us with despair at times.

 
Beauty comes in all shapes and forms. For the animist Druid even more so. Value has no age limit – each thing has its own inherent value, its own inherent beauty. It is spirit given form. That spirit cannot be anything but beautiful. Truth is beauty, beauty truth. Living one’s truth is living beautifully. (See my previous post for Moon Books’ blog, on Truth, Honour and Service – http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/truth-honour-service/).

 
Why do we separate ourselves from our own truth when it comes to physical appearance? Because of the incessant marketing campaign mentioned above, to make us feel constantly dissatisfied with our appearance. No one can avoid ageing, but we can make everyone paranoid about it. What if we just stopped listening to Them, and just started listening to Us, the gods, the ancestors and the natural world around us?

 

To read more, click HERE

Truth, Honour, Service

Druidry can be summed up in three words – truth, honour and service. Yet these words can be very vague – what do they mean to the Druid?

 
Truth is not just figurative and literal truth. There are other dimensions to the word when we see it in accordance with our views of the world and religion or spirituality. Druids live in reverence of nature, connecting the world through awen, the flowing inspiration that guides and directs, that is each thing’s own soul song. When each thing is living in accordance to its own soul song, in accordance to its own nature, then it is following its own truth.

 
The world around us tries to muddy the waters of our truth, making us believe we need more than we could possibly know what to do with, making us think we are above others, making us feel inferior, unworthy and unloved. It tries to tell us that we are lacking. When we take a step back away from the world, we can examine it from a different perspective, seeing what is often termed in Druidry as “the truth against the world”.

 
This truth is our soul song. It shines from us when we live in accordance with nature. If flows like the awen when we care for ourselves, others and the planet. It springs forth when we acknowledge the times and tides of life and death. When we step away from what really matters, from living our own truth, we can feel distanced from the world and from each other, and perhaps even our own selves. We must return to the basics of what is our place is within nature, and how we can live in harmony and balance with it. When we do, we are then living our truth.

Honour is another word that lies in the hazy mists of time. It has connotations of chivalry, fealty and nobility. Yet honour is simply the courage to live our soul truth in the world. It is standing strong by our principles of balance and harmony, making the world a better for all. Returning again to what really matters, to our place in the world, is at the heart of honour. It is not a one-time thing that we can achieve and then sit back, resting on our laurels. Honour requires hard work, all the time, to see that we are indeed living our soul truths to the best of our ability.

 

When we come to understand truth and honour, the natural outcome is service. We live our lives in service to our Druidry – we can do no other. We are not subservient to anyone but ourselves. Living in accordance to our own nature, our own truths and finding sustainability through honour, it naturally results in service to the world – that same world that tries to rail against our truth! The cycle is ever flowing, and we work in service to the truth and the world in equal measure. That is where we find the most balance and harmony. That is what makes it so special, as well as bloody hard work sometimes.

 
Truth. Honour. Service. Three words; three concepts that are inextricably linked to each other, like beautiful Celtic knotwork.

 
Beltane blessings,
Jo.x

Reblog: Peace – Knowing When to Speak Out and When to Keep Silent

This is a reblog from my latest post at SageWoman Magazine’s channel, on Witches and Pagans: for the full article click HERE

This past week I have had to hold my tongue. Sometimes it felt like I was holding my tongue so hard all I could taste was blood.

A few people have told me that I should have spoken up, said my piece right there and then, never holding back. However, what I have learned in my own life experience and in my Druid path is that there is time to speak up, and a time to hold your tongue. It all relates to one word – peace.

It has often been said that the Druids were not only the political advisors and religious authority to the Celts, but that they were also the peacemakers within society. They had the power to walk between the battle lines without being harmed, such was their honouring of the notion of peace and their own personal authority and control. As a student of Zen Buddhism as well as Druidry, I have come to know the concept of peace from another worldview that blends in beautifully with what I hold to be true in my path.

Peace is when there is no need. Peace is when we are able to step outside of our ego and relate to the world with loving kindness. Peace is when we are able to find compassion, both for ourselves and for others.

Peace and truth are inexorably entwined within the Druid tradition. Only when we have discovered the nature of truth are we able to find peace. Truth is our natural place in the world, in its cycles and rhythms, the flow of life itself. It is in the riding of the currents of awen that we come to know truth in all its forms. When we know truth, we find peace…

Continued HERE