Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Spirituality, Mental Wellbeing and Social Networks...

Facebook has an exquisite way of drawing together individuals of like-mind... many of which would not find connection in any other segment of their life journey and naturally this indeed would be a tragic loss of opportunity and shared wonder...

I consider it a privilege to have nurtured these connections and as a result am gifted with regularity the intimacies of their daily pathways, infinitely sparkling with Wisdom, Knowledge and Love...

Naturally this interaction has an incredible bearing on my life, though sadly it is not altogether positive... this however I hasten to add is not a criticism, or resultant through any conscious act on their part... As I regard my list of friends I realise that to a greater extent I often gravitate towards people of a defined Spiritual nature and of course it is prevalent in the content of their posts and updates....

The hardest part for me is reading about the intensity with which they follow their chosen Spiritual path, be it through personal or collective Ritual, opportunities of shared knowledge, documenting connection, creativity to honour the Divine or simply beautiful quotations of Love, Joy and Positivity... it fills me with Wonder, Respect and Love both for them and for their Spiritual commitment...

The overwhelming sadness for me comes from what I feel is the highlighting of my own inconsistency and inadequacy. Feelings that through the uncontrollable and unpredictable workings of my mind disallow my engagement with the Divine, my Goddess... Whilst others are rich within the intimacy of 'Divine Connection' I am doubled up with anguish and self loathing at my inability to find connection with the exception of morning prayer in which I try desperately to offer sincere gratitude and reverence for the simple daily blessings bestowed on me by the Goddess, God and the Mother Earth... however more often than not these are interwoven with self chastisement and the lengthy apologies for my failings, the dust shrouded altar, the unlit candle and the arm that however long it might extend will always fall short of allowing even the faintest fingertip touch with 'Nature' and the 'Web of Existence'...

I sit here, face marked by a rueful smile... there is no bitterness in me, no envy of joy-filled connection of others... there are merely questions that I cannot answer alone... why can I not overcome this crippling personal entanglement of mind, free to bathe gloriously in Divine Connection... and perhaps I am not singular in asking this... that is why I seek to engage 'like-minded' others, so that perhaps we may provide mutual support in our journeys to find our own meaningful Spiritual path... our own Divine Connection...

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Fire in the Head

I WENT out to the Hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
The opening two lines of W.B. Yeats' poem, The Song of the Wandering Aengus is often considered to reflect the creative soul's anguish as he/she but in this case Yeats' wrestles for the vital spark of inspiration that preludes the flow of Awen.

Celtic legend implies that hazelnuts were imbued with a concentration of wisdom and poetic inspiration, hence the relationship between the Gaelic word for these nuts, cno, and the word for wisdom, cnocach. Needless to say, this leads me fluently into a discussion regarding 'nuts' and 'inspiration', an affiliation and affliction that consistently strikes a ironically dissonant chord.

How life's trials, cruelly melding with the all too predictable repetition of mental dis-ease can so easily enervate the inherent creative spark. Ah yes, another sporadic rambling appears to punctuate that long silence. Another questioning melody from the 'Bard of the Hedgerows', another overripe fruit lifted from those which lie decaying, awaiting their subsequent return to the Mother. However, it is all to often the decay that has the overwhelming appeal to my cynical eye and subsequently the unforgiving mind. Heart and Soul don't get a look in. 

Perhaps it is the past that haunts the future... the callous, interior voice crying failure. It is that continual comparison... I couldn't..., I'm not that..., how did they...  the perpetual negativity. The more I ruminate, the more I suspect that it is not the fear of failure which fuels the flames, but the fear of success. Habitual self-destruction can offer up an exceedingly comfortable pair of shoes, ones that can be relied upon, however, that means even if they don't match the outfit we are considering wearing, we are loath to take them off and slip into ones that do.

And so a panorama of organized chaos greets a dejected stare. Teetering towers of foolscap tattooed with cyanic lines of incomplete poetry. A regiment of musical instrument cases, dressed in a one piece suit of fine dust. Brief episodes shared with tapestry, oil paint, clay. All fleeting instances of Awen, plucked from the sudden explosive release of a 'Fire in the Head', the timely liberation of unspent inspiration.

Sad thing is that for what seems like a lifetime my 'inspired' head has been riddled with inertia. Deep inside, my heart encourages me to kick-start the fertile mind, to embrace the Awen, to sup of the cauldron of Cerridwen, if She is willing to guide me on the path to quenching my creative thirst. Only by firm resolve will I literally force my negativity to 'butt out'.

And so Friday being the first day of July and the New Moon, the time felt right to announce with the guidance of my Goddess, the intent to claim my 'Bardic Chair', and to enter into the 'service of Ceridwen, Goddess of the Bards' (as the Bard Kevin Manwaring succinctly describes my journey). Though I have followed my Druid Spirituality for many years I believe that only now am I mature enough and have the smallest 'seed of knowledge' of the realms of Gaia and of my inner self to acknowledge my wish that I may truly make firm commitment and footing upon my path.

And so seated reverentially within my Grove I sought with invocation, the love, strength, wisdom and guidance not only of Cerridwen, but of Brighid as I declared my intent to begin to tread the path of the Bard. With mind, heart and voice I put forth my commitment that I may seek the inspiration, the Awen with only Peace, Love and Respect, internally and externally with equal measure. A year and a day from now, I would hope to return to the very same sacred place to reaffirm that commitment and thank the Goddesses for their Blessing upon my endeavors. 

Finally I feel that the negative conversation within is steadily being subdued. The weight lifting enough to gain the slightest momentum, the poet, musician, artist inside discovering a modicum of strength, enough to begin bending the cage bars and releasing the Awen.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


TREAD softly as the stone, as silently
as he speaks into earth.
Smile, as the tree-gods smile into their beards
when all smile in one mirth
spreading their fronds as antennae
that only the spirit-eye can see.

Move as the ashtree swings her branch
and with the strength of oak
spread out on horizontal arms
the showings of the thunderstroke
Jove elemental into dryads...

-Ross Nichols (Nuinn)


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Further on down the Path

Spanning the forty something years of my human experience, a myriad of troublesome circumstances have befallen my life, thrust upon me without permission yet undeniably needing my attention. Earliest recollections are of a father, whose subtle combination of aggression and psychology in his over-disciplinarian ways was to instill in me an almost perpetual fear, naively mistaken for paternal respect.

By the age of seven a spark had ignited the creative kindling. I had always loved to draw, create and recount stories, but now I became lured by music, in particular the sound of the violin. The following Christmas Santa 'came up with the goods' and from then on there was no turning back. I began free lessons at school, despite the mockery and bullying,not the kind of accompaniment my melodies required, however home rehearsal became ever more difficult as my father began to dictate the practice regime setting time constraints and goals. Nevertheless I persisted though the enjoyment slowly dwindled.

On reaching double figures my father had grown increasingly more detached from the family, seeming only to maintain a self-seeking attitude to his paternal responsibilities. From under the bed clothes late at night, the habitually raised, more often argumentative voices created a cocktail of fear and unanswered questions. The threadbare relationship and subsequent separation of my parents whilst I was at such an impressionable age and the resulting impact on my mother's health pushed me into the role of 'man of the house' despite the accompanying discomfort it bore. Adult roles weighed heavily on boyish shoulders. Adolescence 'never was' and yet deep rooted was the music, the art, the poetry... I had unknowingly tasted from the cauldron of Awen, but soon was to begin the struggle with an ever transfiguring self.

I began my higher studies, though rapidly changing, often extreme moods became a regular feature of life. With little understanding and support I began to adopt a gamut of different personae, concealing my bouts of depression and mania 'neath a collection of "Bowiesque social masks", continually having to reinvent myself in order to stay ahead of the dis-ease.

The charade finally ground me down to mental and physical collapse.

I'm working hard now to initiate a true metamorphosis, to find the real me, to follow the right path, find Truth and self belief... I guess re-birthing, a renaissance man in by it's humblest definition.

I am no Taliesin, yet I can now relate infinitely better to the legend that is...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

New Path...New Bike...

Belief can be both an enabler and dis-abler. Self belief, Spiritual belief, belief in a single kindred spirit, in humanity as a whole, perhaps a conceptual belief - Love, Truth, Honour, these can all have positive or negative attributes. When doubt impinges upon one, possibly a combination of these then instability emerges, all, and we become an empty vessel or we tumble into dependence on others to fulfill our emotional and spiritual needs. At that point we are negating our personal responsibilities, and subsequently driving away friends, relatives, family, even our Soul Mate.

be-lief -noun

something believed an opinion or conviction: a belief that the Earth is flat.

2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.

3. confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.

4. a religious (spiritual) tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith

Frequently I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that spirituality is not akin to the addition of fluid to reconstituted food. Instant gratification. Spirituality should not be defined as a 'rabbit in the hat' belief system. As a child my grandparents had a devout Christian spiritual belief and I myself, not having a wider knowledge of other pathways began to adopt a copycat approach to spirituality, all be it sporadically. My underlying interpretation was, (as Jim Morrison put it), solely "To petition the Lord with prayer..." Simple, 'need' that new bike you saw in town, speak to God about it. Sorted...

Move on forty-something years and you would have thought I would have become somewhat more knowledgeable. Yes, I guess I have a fundamental understanding of my Earth-centred spiritual path, however I have managed to become entrapped in the vicious circle that is my own lack of 'self belief', subsequently using my Druidic pathway as a 'get out jail free card'. When my Bipolar allows me to stand before my altar, it is not with reverence for the generosity that the 'Great Spirit', the 'Goddess and the God' have bestowed on me by reducing the most complex to it's simplest forms, for the abundance of ceaseless beauty in creation, for satisfying the needs, not only of myself, the human fellowship and all other
It's all about the...

I still have so much to learn...

It is easy to see yourself as a victim in life – as a tiny cog in a vast and impersonal machine driven by others for economic and political ends. But by holding to the belief that everything is connected, that another reality exists beyond the everyday physical world, and that everything we think, feel or do has an effect, the Druid is able to assume an attitude of responsibility, and to feel empowered to be of value in the world. Like everyone else, they will sometimes feel the victim of others or of circumstances. While that feeling may come and go, the predominant belief will be that each of us is a causal being who exists in a web of life that unites every living creature. This means that each of us can choose to act as a force for good in the world.

Excerpts from What do Druids Believe? by Philip Carr-Gomm, Granta 2006

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Post Beltane post....

Analogically treading life's murkier waters till my legs ultimately gave out, I have wasted many an hour drowning in self pity, finally to be left washed up and semi-conscious, with little direction. Perpetually lingering in a state of Spiritual paralysis I am gradually drawn deeper into the negative realms of my bi-polarity and therein I pause, to reflect on my recent blog with disdain, for it's numbness of sentiment. It's lyricism, set in the original musical context, a joyous celebration of the creative, yet selfishly reproduced it serves merely as a quick fix for my lack of inspiration.

My personal Beltane experience bore no resemblance to the mythical 'page 43 of the 'How to be a Pagan' handbook', that offers up a framework of Earth-centered Spirituality, to which I feel I must adhere. It all seems so contrived, so formulaic, or could the crux merely be my lack of focus? Am I trying to compartmentalize myself as a 'textbook' Pagan? Most of the literature I have read reveals the same information, the same construct, but as I am continuously drawn in to believing that there is only one way, surely I am just becoming a mainstream 'linear' thinker, something that my Earth-centered Spirituality is trying to avoid. And so I have locked myself into the monotony of routine, of work, domestic, sleep, domestic, work, while a fine veneer of dust lies undisturbed upon my alter as I contemplate and wonder how to approach once again with a renewed sense of purpose on my journey.

Beltane's strong association with fertility was contrary to my personal experience this year. Why? Days previous, I had lain in a hospital bed recovering from surgery. A prolonged period of discomfort and pain had finally become unbearable, hence my decision to have a circumcision performed. Weeks later the struggle to come to terms with post-op, both from a bodily and mental perspective left me with a feeling of renewal and relief, despite the longevity of the physical healing process, this however was nothing more than expected, (but possibly not to the extent it has been). It was then that the emotional scar tissue manifested itself, an overwhelming sense of incredible loss, akin to the passing of someone/something which you have lived with since birth, and therefore subsequently contributed to a period of mourning. Furthermore this sudden exposure to intense inward grieve has heightened my awareness of birth, death and rebirth, both from a literal and figurative viewpoint, (all of which are pivotal to my current Druidic study, namely the 'Birth of the legendary Bard Taliesin).

A few years ago I witnessed the sudden demise of both my grandparents and my stepfather, all three of which passed from drawn out illness and all within a two year period. I cannot begin to imagine the effect it must have had on my mother, however I, the supporting son put my grief on the back burner, in order to offer as much support as was possible.

Next my marriage collapsed after thirteen years. Not unexpectedly, a combination of drifting and my continued struggle with mental health issues led to a mutual decision to move on. Both, the physical loss of blood relations, and the subsequent sudden conclusion to a loving partnership with my wife merely left me numb. The latter is finally reaching a resolution but was tarnished with unnecessary bitterness, however with regard to the former, to this day I still have not come to terms with my loss, there has been no closure.

I have now been with my soulmate Julz for eighteen months and though we have stumbled through a myriad of difficulties the majority of which seemed beyond our control, for me it has been a time of rebirth and renewal, of intensity of emotion and
true love. My interest in life as a journey, as opposed to a span of time to be filled has been restored, I have begun to heighten my awareness and attune my senses, endeavoring to become more involved in my life-path, it's direction and intent. I am rekindling old interests and birthing others, and though it is a strange, at time solitary and meditative phase in the wheel of my existence I am now beginning the process of re-birthing to the genuine me. I hope that although my blog entries my be sparse at present, that you might bear with me as I begin to grow...

Blessings to you all x

Saturday, 1 May 2010


Have you ever stood in the April wood
And called the new year in?
While the phantoms of three thousand years fly
As the dead leaves spin?
There's a snap in the grass behind your feet
And a tap upon your shoulder.
And the thin wind crawls along your neck ---
It's just the old gods getting older.
And the kestrel drops like a fall of shot and
The red cloud hanging high ---
Come --- a Beltane.

Have you ever loved a lover of the old elastic truth?
And doted on the daughter in the ministry of youth?
Thrust your head between the breasts of the fertile innocent.
And taken up the cause of love, for the sake of argument.
Or while the kisses drop like a fall of shot
From soft lips in the rain ---
Come --- a Beltane.

Happy old new year to you and yours.
The sun's up for one more day, to be sure.
Play it out gladly, for your card's marked again.

Have you walked around your parks and towns so knife-edged orderly?
While the fires are burned on the hills upturned
In far-off wild country.
And felt the chill on your window sill
As the green man comes around.
With his walking cane of sweet hazel --- brings it crashing down.
Sends your knuckles white as the thin stick bites.
Well, it's just your groaning pains.
Come --- a Beltane.

Jethro Tull '77

Love and Light to you all this Beltane Time