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

Beltane




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

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Armchair Pagan...



It's been a while...!

Overwhelmed by the abundance of available 'Teach Yourself Paganism' literature, my ability to tread water in the deep end of 'Earth-centered spirituality' is proving less than successful. Regularly forsaking the mossy log for the comfort of the armchair I have unwittingly cocooned myself in an increasingly suffocating shroud of guidelines and technique served with cold regularity in 250 page plus, paperback form. Like many a member of 'Western' society I have an obsessive craving for 'information', foolishly mistaking this as 'knowledge' however I am beginning to believe that it is my attachment to 'human linguistics' which presents a current stumbling block. An attachment which has driven me to a paralysis of detachment.

Childhood experience with nature was one of awe. A naive fascination of and sharing with all creation, in tandem. Yet with limited language and literacy skills my communication with nature manifested itself with a clarity, despite it existing primarily on a sensory level. A clarity increasingly numbed by adulthood, education and an immersion in a society in which humanity's role is as the 'all conquering parasite'. A society where Gaia is fundamentally our possession, to be leeched of it's resources, these 'resources', (spirited existences, in their own right) are interpreted as having no understanding of ('our') language and thus are denied the opportunity to give permission or otherwise.

Losing touch with nature seemed effortlessly 'progressive'. The formula, 'House to car to school to car to house', became mantra like in it's repetition, furthermore it was with comparative ease that I was able to subsequently substitute 'work' for 'school'. The outdoors was merely a transition between indoor environments, nature, a satellite television channel or a copy of National Geographic in a dentist's waiting room.

With years of climbing, fell running, and mountain biking experiences I have come to understand the principle of 'less is more'. My initial need was possession, with regard both to the means, and the end. The 'shiny object' mentality that took over. Minimalism was not an option, nor was the journey. Targets and goals were my blinkered vision, my reward, whilst specialist (frequently unnecessary) gadgets my requirement. Finance, coupled with the realization that the 'odyssey' should be foremost priority and equipment kept within sensible bounds, I began to linger, observing, savoring, the path, the colours, sounds, smells, tactility, keen to encourage an inner and outward balance of exploration and veneration.

Unfortunately I have become complacent, a creature of habit and decades of conditioning. There is no opportunity for reversal, but by retracing my steps and modifying, or rather simplifying my approach to the journey, I will endeavor to embark with humility, in harmony with the 'web of existence' and with a lighter load to bear.

A Blessing on your days

Friday, 19 March 2010

Alban Eilir/Ostara



Here we go again... another ramble from the 'Island-man'... and on this occasion thoughts turn to Spring.

In circumnavigating the Pagan wheel of the year we are soon to celebrate one of the four solar festivals, namely that of the Spring (Vernal) Equinox (equal night). It marks a period of equilibrium, for now the duration of night and day are in perfect balance. It is at the hub of the threefold dedications to Spring, as it succeeds the first stirrings of rebirth and regeneration identifiable with Imbolc, whereupon the Goddess begins to rouse from the darkness of Winter, whilst preceding the fulfillment and blossoming of the season as celebrated with Beltane. Perhaps as a moment of balance between Imbolc and Beltane it may prove timely for us to reflect on the fundamentals of balance with regard to our own lives, the symmetry of inner and outer self, or the proportions of spirituality and materialism, or the provision that Mother Earth makes for us and how we reciprocate Her gifts...for example.

To the contemporary Druid, this period is manifest as Alban Eilir (or Eiler), "Light of the Earth",
and though evidence of ancient Celtic celebration for this festival is sparse, as it is reasonable to assume that much of the symbolism of Pagan tradition was integrated into the Christian 'Easter'. However then as it is now, Mother Earth would have reached a stage of renewal, Her term of dormancy ended, the soil moist and abundant with nourishment, a gift to the seed, the bulb, the root, thus an appropriate time to sow for the years crops and give reverence.

Wiccan tradition acknowledges the Spring Equinox festival as 'Ostara' and as is the vein of Druidry, the term is difficult to corroborate, for both (I am sure..?) had oral foundations. The 7th/8th century historian Bede cites early reference with the Anglo Saxon month of 'Esturmonath' (the forth of their calender), after the Teutonic fertility goddess 'Eostre', though others suggest that she and her symbolic links to hares, eggs and rebirth are Roman-Pagan in origin.

There we go...

A Blessing on you, one and all.
May each ritual and celebration of your individual tradition be steeped with balance and life energy renewed.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I'd Like To Thank My Agent...




I am seriously 'chuffed'...!

I've received an award out of the blue. Well not quite. It was bestowed on me by Jen at Ramblings of a Newbie Pagan, thank you so much, I often wonder whether anybody in cyberspace actually reads my 'babbles' but now I know better, (forgive me for any mistakes in spelling or grammar but my eyes are watering, making it difficult to see the keyboard). I am genuinely overwhelmed, this is so...

To continue, there are however a few rules attached to accepting said award:

1. Say a huge heartfelt thank you to the person who gave you this award. Thank you again Jen, (at Ramblings of a Newbie Pagan. Go, have yourself a peek at this site...) cheque's in the post...!
2. Pick seven things about yourself to share with everyone
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Okey dokey...

Seven (random) things about myself:

1. I am a trained opera singer....maestro, if you please...

Tutto è tranquillo e placido;
entrò la bella Venere;
col vago Marte a prendere
nuovo Vulcan del secolo
in rete la potrò.

How's that...?

2. I have completed two marathons, both in Edinburgh, Scotland.

3. I have a couple of tattoos. Some Koi Carp and a Dragon with Celtic knot-work.

4. I have played in several unsigned bands including 'The Wild Women of Wongo', 'Fisherking' and 'The Freudian Slippers'.

5. I would love to live in Canada.

6. I am currently reading five books at the same time. I alternate between them dependent on my mood. There are three biographies and two books on shamanism.

7. I long to grow my own vegetables again but the climate up here is so unpredictable.

Right, that's got that out of the way, so now I would like to present my awards:

1. The Stag Warrior Speaks.
2. Avalon Revisited.
3. Soul Shamans.
4. The Spiritual Journey of a Somerset Pagan.
5. The Wandering Hearth.
6. Notes from The Rookery.
8. moonroot.
9. Hexenhasel.
10. Runa Vitki

Well, there's ten for now but I'm sure I'll find five more soon who don't already have an award... you all deserve recognition for sharing a little piece of your inner selves. Thank you...

Blessings.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Spring springs 4th...

Winter's icy fingers reluctantly release their grip on Gaia's realms.

'Le Soliel', huge gaseous ball of light and life dissolving blankets from our beds.
Rebirth and renewal.
Tentative, the
season's vital signs are now revealed.
White to green to snow drop, white.

Trickles become tributaries, become singing streams.
Imagined, lazy swimming, cool clear lake water.
Dreaming barefoot, on a dew kissed sunflower Sunday.
Let an avian chorus herald the coming of Spring.

Blessed Be

Monday, 8 March 2010

Mind over Matter

Manic Depression is perplexing.

Winston Churchill called it his 'Black Dog', a metaphor suggestive of 'Man's (or Woman's) best friend', a playful, loving companion, but with a propensity to plunge in it's teeth when least expected. That may be a little over-exaggerated but hopefully serves as a lucid description of what I myself have suffered for over twenty years, (much of the time without accurate diagnoses). Moods are erratic, often in rapid cycles which fluctuate between feelings verging on euphoric at one end of the spectrum and a paralysis of despair at the other. So what is the hope of maintaining a spiritual continuum within such unpredictable boundaries?

When my moods are high my whole being is in overdrive...mind racing, thoughts tripping one over another and words spilling from my mouth in an endless drawl. It inevitably becomes wearing very quickly and all though you would imagine surges in spiritual awareness and creative activity they tend to be fruitless.

When my mood slips into the hopelessness realm then I wallow in self hate, self absorption, inactivity. I stare at my simple alter unable to even bring myself to light a candle and if I do, my ritual seems empty, my thoughts and words appear automatic and lacking commitment. I live in a beautiful place both immediate and overall, yet during these times I enter into periods of reclusion, my cats lack the usual pampering, the hens appear merely as greedy scavengers, I hate the weather when I should rejoice in it's diversity. Furthermore I live at the very edge of a 'voe' (inlet of the sea) and often watch otters, Canada geese, heron, wading birds and seals which lie for hours on a pier at the end of my garden. Surely Spirit has blessed me. However when the 'black dog' pervades the abundance of animal, plant and minerals, water and air and the subtle changes in light count for little, and this saddens me knowing that I can so easily become numb to the richness that Mother Earth has placed within my sight.

And yet I persevere, longing for days where my mood allows glimpses into oneness with Gaia,...

"And in the love of all Existences, the love of Spirit and all Creation"

Over the past few years things have improved but still have elements of unpredictability. I don't take my Earth centred spirituality for granted, I work with it when I can in the hope of understanding. Believe me I don't merely dip in and out when my mood takes me, endeavoring to keep a consistent approach to Honouring, Celebration, Ritual and Earthly Respect. I involve myself in ecological and environmental issues, whether supporting international causes in the most effective way I can, or heading out with a bag to gather litter from my locality. And this is not done to gain brownie points to appease the Lord and Lady but to constantly re-affirm my commitment to my Spiritual beliefs despite the 'sticks' that my mind put into the spokes...!!



Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Inside out...

If humankind has a collective desire to nurture a lost relationship with Mother Earth and subsequently to assist in healing the wounds that we ourselves have inflicted, then initially we should perhaps take some time for introspection and self regeneration. For it is when we as individuals are healed of our inward imbalances, that our outward relationship to all existences will be more powerful. By this I do not mean power as 'dominance', but as 'potential'. The potential to undo the damage that has been caused by humankind's dominance and indulgence at the cost to Gaia and all that exists on, in and above Her..!

Recognizing our inner self is not to be considered akin to self gratification. In a world where one is encouraged to aspire to fame, fortune and personal achievement, it often appears far more important to make an impression on society, stamping one's footprint, carbon or otherwise, whilst remaining oblivious to an awareness of self. Outward action without inward reflection has created a greed fueled, materialistic monster destroying animal, plant, mineral, tribe and habitat... rapidly consuming and depleting Mother Earth's resources, whilst reciprocating with a token commitment to replenishment.

Thomas Gray in his poem, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (1742) suggested that;

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

As a forty odd year old guy with a twenty year history of misdiagnosed mental health issues, I for one have many good reasons to embark on a voyage of self discovery and healing, firstly for my own wellbeing. However in the broader context, as one who's spirituality is Earth centred, with the realization that by creating an inner equilibrium, I shall be better equipped for any outward contribution to positive change and healing for the Mother Earth, whilst there is still the time...!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Home Sweet Home....

This is sadly what Simon King missed in his recent Shetland documentary series... but who can blame him, I'm quite sure he was aware of, and deeply distressed by it... but then Simon, the viewers and I would rather see seals and otters...

The Beach, (not to be confused with the one Leo DiCaprio lay on)...



Loch side...



Another beach...



Roadside bank...



Thursday, 11 February 2010

21st Century Druid Man

Defining the tenet of my spirituality has become something of a labyrinthine exercise. The fundamental reason behind my following a 'Pagan' based belief system was it's reverence for nature, Gaia, the 'Web of Life'...o.k., that's clear for me...

However, and this may well be my 'Newbie-ness', but the more information I absorb, the more overcomplicated the Druid Path of contemporary literature becomes, to the extent that intricate ritual, mythology, revivalism, (but not in the religious sense) and emulation, though often at it's core, frequently appears somewhat irrelevant to me. It just seems overcomplicated..! There is no denying that structure is a part of daily, monthly, yearly existence both within human and natural existence, however so should be 'spontaneity', (not 'anarchy' though).

So much wisdom can be gleaned by exploring the lives of our ancestors, that I can totally relate to and by definition we can begin with our parents before striding back towards the earliest hunter gatherers. We discover and uncover their strengths and weaknesses, triumphs, mistakes, their interactions with each other, nature, and the earth itself...if of course we can truly separate the last three...and as such we can truly begin to 'Honour' them.

So far so good. Where I am struggling is in the fact that I live in the realms of a selfish, materialist, egocentric society, (this is a sweeping statement understandably)....welcome one and all to the '21st Century', (I'm sure this isn't the first period in history that can be defined as such), and sadly for myself, much of the doctrines of the (ancient) Proto, Classical, and Revival periods of Druidry are appropriate to the era in which they occurred, though I am sure that there will be many 'universal lessons' contained within each which are past on through generations. The difference now is that we, the human can, and many are destroying OUR Earthly home, and I speak not purely for the human race but for EVERY aspect of creation. Unlike our ancestral Druid counterparts we are not living in a 'Balanced ' way with our environment, and this needs to be addressed not just a global level but from an individual perspective.

My spirituality is not purely person-centered unlike a deal of the society in which I live, (there is a thin divide between 'need' and 'greed'), but all encompassing, and, unlike my blogs needs to be relevant to the 'Here and Now'.

Spider, in a recent blog spoke of 'Honouring the Spirits of Place, Practically' ...by clearing litter, a truly hands on and needless to say admirable way of literal and spiritual interaction....I regularly put a bin liner in my rucksack when heading out into the hills, needless to say it comes back full of the 'Bruck', (Shetland dialect for rubbish- hence the labels on bins- 'Dunna Chuck Bruck'), and means more to me from a spiritual perspective than a stricter form of ritual.

I don't know why I feel the need to apologise if this seems heavy going at times, but it's just my way of clearing 'The Way' for a true 'Earth-centered' spiritual growth...If you think I'm heading in the wrong direction, please offer an opinion...it can only serve to help me...!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

www....

With mixed emotions I observe. The thaw has begun, and despite the blusterous nature of the day I decide to put in a few miles on the road. Lacing my beat-up trainers, I grab a beanie, select some 'tunes' and embark....

The outbound leg is visually stunning, but physically uneventful. However as I veer left the wind takes away my breathe, creating an invisible barrier to my forward momentum, it's akin to the sensation of being on a treadmill. Plodding clumsily on, regardless of the relentless gale, something suddenly occurs to me. This scenario is primarily from my perspective...but is it purely about me..? As my awareness changes there is the realization that with each stride I too may represent an obstacle...to the continuity of the wind's flow...or do I..?

Is it a vivid imagination or pure egotism..? Wishful thinking..? Or could the 'Wind' and I be (on some level), consciously or otherwise involved in some form of mutual interaction..?

Humankind has been conditioned to believe that we as a species are pivotal to 'one huge ecosystem', namely the Earth, the concept of Anthropocentrism. On the contrary the Druid belief system is one of equality, a Web of Existence', all encompassing and without hierarchy. That puts me on a par with puffins, plankton or peonies... and I'm cool with that.

Later...

...as I relax in a sheltered part of the garden an audacious gull glides in, alighting merely yards from where I sit, then sauntering over to claim his share of my lunch..! I toss him a few morsels, a toothy grin on my face acknowledging his bravado. The encounter is brief but has reciprocal rewards..!

Though I have been interacting with nature all my life, it is only over the last 8 months or so that I have recognized a spiritual connection with and reverence for it. The Earth is my home and my provider....but not solely mine, (in respect that I am human), it is home and provider to all Creation..!! Thus by integrating less with the Earth and it's myriad membership, in a balanced, empathetic way, I may begin to be neglectful of my role, and further down the line adopt the stance, (as do a good proportion of my fellow humankind), that I have some claim of Universal Ownership.

Naive, my ramblings may be, but they are heartfelt. They may not be right by definition, they are not meant to be opinionated, but now they're out there in cyberspace I hope they strike a chord...

I'm attempting to strip down my pagan spirituality, (online...!) to simplify and to better understand my personal belief system, perhaps in the same way that 'Jamie Oliver' does with his recipe book when he's not seeking Michelin stars. Maybe I should consider retitling my blog page...The Skyclad Druid...!

Blessed Be

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Songs From The Wood

Guess there's a deal of irony regarding the title of my blog, considering how devoid of trees the 'Auld Rock' has become. A cocktail of climate change and settlement, some 5000 years ago heralded their decline.

Settlers + clearance + farming + heather burning + sheep = no trees...!

That's not strictly true. There are sporadic patches of woodland where Sycamores and Evergreens mingle... however there is no 'Knowledge of the Oak' to be gleaned hereabout, nor the symbolism of the Rowan(Luis) berry, nor the femininity of the Willow(Saille), with it's hallowed links to the Triple Goddess and the recently celebrated festival of Imbolc.

Often these pocket sized natural sanctuaries have been decimated by high winds and have often provided seclusion for gatherings of alcohol induced revelry...I guess that's fine, if a degree of due respect is forthcoming...but sadly, and all to frequently it goes unrealized that 'Tennants' cans left in situ do not biodegrade...!!

Good news...!!

The 'Shetland Amenity (charitable) Trust', was set up to conserve and enhance the heritage of the Islands.

It's strategies for woodland renewal are:-
  • Preservation and development of existing woodland
  • Conservation, propagation and re-establishment of native trees
  • Creation of a Shetland Arboretum to foster interest in trees and participate in international conservation strategies
  • Encouragement of the use of trees, shrubs and other woodland flora in the Shetland landscape, both urban and rural, so that they enhance the environment, and are of positive value to people and wildlife, for both present and future generations
In addition grants are offered to turn ungrazed croft land over to woodland, making it not such a bleak picture after all....

Perhaps a few 'Songs from the Wood' aren't such a pipe dream any more....