Judgement and Division

Right now the politics in the UK has created a huge divide between the nation. I imagine it’s similar in the US, and in other countries throughout the world where the left is clashing with the right. It’s probably not helped by social media, where everyone is shouting their opinion and condemning anyone who doesn’t agree with it. When Hilary Clinton called all the Trump voters “deplorables” towards the end of her campaign, and when the lefties here in the UK are calling everyone on the right “Nazis”, we have reached an either/or situation. We all know that things are not so cut and drawn, that because someone disagrees with you means that they are pure evil. No, we must be more mature about how we react to those who disagree with us, and instead of trying to destroy them, listen to them.

It’s an exercise in learning how to judge correctly. It’s learning the difference between judging someone’s actions rather than judging someone’s person. If we can’t differentiate the two, we will never have proper discourse, and we will never find a peaceable place where real change and transformation can happen. We’ll simply be shouting at each other all the time, labelling each other in neat little erroneous boxes that simply support our misguided arguments. We’ll never be able to bridge that division in order to do what needs to be done. When it comes to politics and parliament, we see this example clearly. If it’s all about party politics, nothing is achieved and it’s simply a shouting match. When we are able to talk to each other and really make an effort to hear and understand each other, then we are working for the best interests of all, which is why (hopefully) one got into politics in the first place. But egos and power struggles keep getting in the way, and we can see the real mess that this creates first hand.

So, who are we to judge? Well, as humans we need to judge situations in order to respond correctly. However, we now live in a culture where reaction, rather than responding, is the norm. Reacting to something isn’t thoughtful, it isn’t mindful. It can have all sorts of associations such as past hurt and trauma rising to the surface that has nothing to do with the present situation. When we respond, we first have to listen. We have to put aside our ego for a moment, in order to truly hear the other side. We can then influence the pattern that we wish to create on our lives with more intention, weaving in that which is beneficial, rather than that which is destructive or which has no bearing on the present.

Each side in a difference of opinion thinks that they hold the truth. But what we are really holding are perspectives, a slice of the pie and not the whole thing itself. We are not omniscient; we can’t really know all the facts. We can research and learn all that we can about a situation in order to respond with awareness, sure. But we have to allow that margin of unknowing, the fact that we do see things from our own perspective, coloured by our past, our society, our intellect, our privilege and more. And in some situations, we have to allow our emotion to help us bridge the gap between what is right and what is right for us.

What do I mean by this? I mean that we cannot simply judge a situation based on the facts. Because, for starters, we will never have all the facts. We will have the facts that are presented at the time, and as we all know, new facts are discovered all the time. So we have to rely on empathy, on our gut instinct sometimes in order to judge a situation correctly. But this is tricky business, because we’ve been taught that our rational minds are all that matter. What really matters is the truth of a situation, and we can only know a portion of that truth. When we open our hearts to others in empathy, we will then see another slice of that pie, another slice of the truth and then our perspective shifts. We cannot do that without trying in some way to relate to the other person, instead of de-humanising them.

In the last few weeks, I’ve discovered that Twitter is the perfect litmus test for this experiment. When someone whom you’ve enjoyed, perhaps on a television show or in a certain community suddenly spouts political rhetoric that you utterly disagree with, what do you do? Do you instantly unfollow them? Disregard them based on that one opinion? Do you judge them as a person based on their political preference? How does this judgement of them affect the situation as a whole?

One thing I’ve learned is that when we judge others, we don’t define them. When we judge others, we define ourselves.

Flame of Samhain

flmeShine, in the coming darkness. Let the spark of awen light the flame within your soul. Guard that flame, the truth against the world. Let it be your guide, let it be your light, to shine out into the world.

There will be challenges. There will be challenges against you, against the world. The flame of others may not shine so bright, for they have not discovered the beauty and promise that they hold. The flame within their own hearts has not been set alight, or has been dimmed by pain, by the past, by worries of the future. Seek to light the flame in others, even as you hold fast to your own inner flame. Support and nurture the spark within, to allow truth into the world.

Only you can allow others to dim your light, to weaken your flame. And they may try, especially when you shine so bright. For we live in a world where competition and dissatisfaction is rife, where if someone else is succeeding, it is perceived as personal failure in our own lives. Drop this illusion, and fan the flames within and without. If one succeeds, we all succeed. Two flames burn brighter than one, and blowing out someone else’s flame does not make yours burn brighter. When you burn bright, and others seek to dim your flame with their own pain, their own wounds, then burn all that much brighter, to guide the way in the dimly lit corridors of the mind, and the heartache of the soul. Know that in the action of dimming another’s flame, there lies a wounded heart, and often a frightened soul. Keep clear in your boundaries, but also be compassionate in your words and deeds.

Shine on. Nothing can take that away from you but your own self.

May we be the awen.

The power of New Year’s Resolutions

P1070010Many people here in the West have made New Year’s resolutions. I for one think that this tradition is a good one, for I’m always seeking to improve myself, to live in better harmony with the world around me. I know that I can’t change others, only myself, and lead by example. And so, a resolution or three can help me to achieve that goal.

Why are resolutions so important? Well, simply put, it’s vocalising an intention. In much of Western Paganism and Heathenry words, especially spoken words, have deep meaning when applied with intention, and most magic (but not all) relates to words, spells, chants, invocations and more. Think of the many sayings that relate how important words are to us. We take people by their word, and our word in our bond. Sadly, this is all too often forgotten in today’s society. We have to take back the sacredness of our words, thereby sanctifying also our intentions.

There is a deep power when we say what we mean, and mean what we say. Not hiding behind pretension or illusion, we will do as we say and we will be truthful and honest in our actions. We will sometimes fail to come through, as we are all fallible, but still the power is not only in the result, but in the attempt to live in this manner. We can ask for help when needed, for we know that everyone needs help every now and again.

When we take the importance of our words to heart, we can also look at how we take the words of others into our lives. How much do we validate our life based upon the words of others? Are these words spoken with an honest intention that is in correlation to your own, or is there a hidden agenda within them? Many people seek to abuse trust, sadly, and feel that only they hold a real reflection of others’ self-worth. Only you know your own value, your own worthiness, and if you are true to your word you then need not seek external validation. Criticism, honest and valid criticism can and should be useful in everyone’s lives. Bitter, angry, mocking criticism, filled with contempt, is not helpful in any way, and is only a reflection of the person who delivers such words, not you. We live in a world where many feel that their own flame burns brighter by blowing out others’, but we know that this is not the case.

By being true to your word, you are also being responsible for your actions. This again is something that I feel is lacking in much of today’s society. All too often we can blame others for our misfortune, or sink into the abyss of apathy rather than taking an active role in our lives. We have to define for ourselves how we wish to live, and take a participatory role in achieving that goal. None other can walk this path for us.

Taking on resolutions can help us to give voice to the sovereign self that we wish to be, that idealised self that we can indeed become, should we have the courage to walk the path towards that end. They can clarify what it is that we wish to achieve, and even ask for help along the way, from the gods, the ancestors, friends and family. We need not seek their validation, but only their help should we need it, for we know our own self-worth. Hold true to your resolution, as much as you can. Use it to remind you of the sovereign self, that self that states that YOU are in control of your own behaviour, that state of integration with the rest of the world where you realise that you are a part of a great weave in the tapestry of life. We may falter, we may even fail, but at least we tried. And next year we can try again, or make new resolutions to help us find and achieve that truth that we seek within our souls through the power of our words.

 

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: 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?

 

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